Welcome to my crazy world of real food cooking ...

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. -- Michael Pollan

I wish I could take credit for that because I think it sums up how we should eat. Simply -- eat stuff that really is food, instead of stuff that is food like substance. The supermarket is almost entirely food-like-substances, and, my friends, you should probably never ever eat them.

Fortunately, there is a world of deliciousness out there, and it can all be had in a way that not only doesn't harm your health, but in a way that benefits you hugely.

I think it's important to eat stuff that satisfies you, that keeps your blood sugar stable, and that gives you stuff your body really needs to run optimally.

But baby, it's gotta taste good.

I really like getting experimental in the kitchen. I love cooking, I love layering flavours, and I love coming up with really super yummy food. I have very strong opinions about what constitutes food, and there are a lot of things I won't touch in the kitchen. Bottom line? Pretty much everything I make is ridiculously good for you even if it tastes decadent. Although there are occasional big fat cheats ... but even those stick to real food, my friends.

For food that is usual gluten free, usually free of cane sugar, usually super low on the glycemic index, full of protein, fiber, flavour, and excellent energy, join me and Alice down the rabbit hole.

Every recipe on this blog is my own original effort and idea, so please pass 'em on, giving credit where credit is due.

Many thanks, and come back often. I'm really glad you are here!

:)

Friday, 27 June 2014

Chocolate Ripple for Vanilla Date Ice Cream -- A vegan, nut free, sugar free, whole foods dessert

So, this happened. This sensual and charismatic marriage of two disparate -- but not desperate -- parts. The perfect and lyrical union of resonant, vocal, insistent chocolate, and mellow, rich delectable vanilla. We used to adore our chocolate ice cream -- so dark and creamy and in-your-face chocolatey ... And then we got on our Vanilla Date ice cream kick, somehow suggestive of caramel and naughty deliciousness. But then the voices in my  head -- the voices that say 'what if', not the ones that say to do bad things -- suggested the vanilla date might be great with a ripple of fudge running through it ... Actually, it was my son who made me think this. He'd take a little vanilla and a little chocolate in his bowl and then sort of let them melt a little and then smoosh them together (smoosh is a word, right?) Well, this fudge swirl is a little thicker to give it substance and difference of texture. More like a deep and decadent fudge kick than chocolate ice cream. This spontaneous fudge swirl is the perfect partner for such a spunky vanilla. The result: a rich, creamy, wonderful taste treat. Vegan, gluten free, sweetened with date and coconut nectar, full of such wonders as cacao and coconut milk. Amazing. Genius. We've done it again.







fudge swirl:

ingredients:
1  cup hot water
1 cup pitted dates
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup raw cacao

1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

directions:

1. combine the ingredients
2. let sit for at least 10 minutes to fully soften dates and melt oil
3. puree with a hand blender
4. let cool


vanilla date ice cream:

ingredients:

2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup dates (pitted or take the pits out)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut nectar


2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt


directions:

1. In a large bowl, pour 2 cups boiling water.
2. add your coconut oil
3. add your dates, followed by the coconut nectar
4. let the whole thing sit for 10 minutes to soften
5. using a hand blender or a blender, blend until perfect homogenized and smooth
6. add the vanilla extract, sea salt, and coconut milk
7. process a little more
8. let cool fully
9. freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions



Now for the fun part -- you'll either need a container large enough to contain all of the above, or you can use 2 containers like I did.

Divide the ice cream into the two container (or one container), and add the fudge. Then, randomly fold or swirl. But don't mix!!

Freeze!!!!!!!

Eat!!!!!!

Swoon ....


:)


Friday, 13 June 2014

Almond Flour Wafers for vegan smores -- Variations Happen

So, my kiddo kind of wanted to try marshmallows. I found these vegan ones that weren't even too junky. Sure, sugar. But no weird chemicals and texturizers. And then I thought maybe we'd do smores because I had some 70% cacao chocolate chunks. So, these happened. But I made 'em a little different than usual. And you know what? That's okay. Almond flour wafers to use for smores. I'll let you know what happens.


okay, what happened was this:




The wafers were basically perfect for this purpose. We used some fair-trade organic 70% chocolate, and some vegan marshmallows. And a good time was had by all.












ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil -- melted if it's not already soupy due to summer conditions
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup white chia seeds finely ground
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour



directions:

1. combine the ingredients in the order listed
2.
3. roll the dough  in two parts (between 2 sheets of baking parchment) and cut into perfect squares after trimming the  edges
4. bake at 345 in a preheated oven for 12 minutes then dehydrate for 2-3 hours at 170
5. cool and break into pieces
6. store in an airtight container

Monday, 19 May 2014

Best Ever Roasted Cashews







raw cashews
a little water
natural or salt

directions:
1. toss the cashews with water
2. season to taste with the salt
3. spread on a baking sheet
(4. bake at 345 for 20 minutes)
5. bake at 200 for 4 hours


This works with raw almonds, too

A chickpea and vegetable 'pot' dish

'Pot' as in cooking vessel, not as in marijuana. I recently read Michael Pollan's cooked. I am a Michael Pollan fan, and in his description of learning to cook in his book, I was inspired to make a dish that used very finely chopped vegetables as a base, and to let those vegetables sort of cook down into nothingness. Nothing, that is, except for flavour. As is my wont, I used a crockpot instead of a stove top pot. I layered finely diced vegetables, with the onions and garlic right in the oil at the bottom of the pot where they would get the most heat, then proceeding with the cabbage, then carrots and celery. The layers of chickpeas and sweet potato went last, and then enough water to come up to the chickpeas.  The chickpeas and sweet potato, being largest as well as farthest from the heat  will breakdown the least. Which is just what we want!! Even with very very little seasoning (only a bit of salt), this is a very richly flavoured dish. Perfect with socca-ish ...







ingredients:


2 tbsp coconut oil

1 1/2 cup very finely chopped onion
2 cloves of finely chopped garlic

1 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped carrot

4 cups finely chopped cabbage

4 cups soaked chickpeas

3 cups diced sweet potato -- if possible use a firm dry variety (I love bonita. others are kyushu and murasaki, also called 'asian sweet potatoes' or 'oriental sweet potatoes') Chop 'em so they are about the same size as the chickpeas


3 tsp sea salt

2 to 4 cups water


directions:

1. turn on the crockpot to high, and add the coconut oil
2. chop the veggies. In the interest of time (I had very little) I used the food processor and did a fine chop.
2. once the oil has melted and the crock is hot, spread the onion and garlic over the bottom, and the cabbage right on top.
3. spread the carrots and celery bits on top of this
4. evenly spread the soaked chickpeas over this
5. sprinkle a couple of tsp of sea salt over the chickpeas
6. spread the diced sweet potatoes over the chickpea layer
7. sprinkle one more tsp of sea salt over the sweet potato


Simple Wafer Cookies -- vegan, gluten free, sugar free

The thing about these is they are way less time consuming than cookie cutter cookies. A simple, not too sweet, plain-jane little wafer cookie. Gluten free, grain free, vegan, sugar free, and simple. Snack or dessert, perfect for grubby little kindie kids as a after-school stabilizer with a cup of cold red tea (I chill herbal tea as a colourful drink for the kids. A couple  drops of stevia can be a good addition.)















ingredients:

1/4 cup coconut oil -- melted if it's not already soupy due to summer conditions
1/2 cup coconut sugar + (approximately) 1/4 cup water to make 1/2 cup total
2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp ground vanilla bean
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup white chia seeds finely ground
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour


coconut sugar to sprinkle on top -- optional


directions:

1. combine the ingredients in the order listed
2. chill the dough
3. roll the dough  in two parts  and cut into perfect squares after trimming the  edges. Or cut into imperfect squares. They will still taste good.
4. bake at 345 in a preheated oven for 12 minutes then dehydrate for 3 hours at 170 to 200
5. cool and break into pieces
6. store in an airtight container

Peanut Butter and Date 'fudge'

Oh man oh man I'm addicted. I had to make a third batch. Yes, three.

I don't know if you've ever tried date with creamy peanut butter. We get these dates from 'Parnoosh'. Sometimes they are dry and unappealing to eat as is, but still suffice for baking. Sometimes they are soft and creamy and kind of delectable. I opened a fresh box to make a lovely vegan date and vanilla ice cream, and my son requested four dates filled with our fave organic smooth peanut butter.  They were so soft and so creamy that I too decided to try one. And I realized just how decadently fabulous date and peanut butter are together. I might have known this before, but my memory being what it is, I might also have forgotten.

Date and peanut butter -- an out of this world combination. Unless you hate peanut butter. Or date. Or both. In which case, you have my sympathies but that's it. And, as my darling Bubbi Edith used to say: "More for me."

(I read the above as: I had to make it to third base. I don't know if you've ever tried to date creamy peanut butter. Now THAT would be a different movie entirely.)






ingredients:

2 cups shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground chia
1 cup hemp hearts

1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp ground vanilla bean

1 cup dates

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup water


directions:

1. put the coconut, ground chia, hemp hearts, ground flax, sea salt, and ground vanilla bean into the food processor
2. process until completely pulverized and homogenous
3. add the dates and pulse until completely processed
4. add the peanut butter and pulse until fully combined, adding the water as the food processor is running to form a thick dough
5. press into 2 square silicone baking pans and chill in the freezer
6. when firm, turn onto a cutting board and cut into small bars -- I do 8 by 4, resulting in 32 pieces per pan
7. store in the freezer!

Banana muffins -- gluten free, grain free, sugar free, vegan, and delicious

Okay, so these are amazing. If you like banana. The GENEROUS sprinkling of coconut sugar on top gives a wonderful coating when fresh from the oven. My husband and son have loved every bite they've eaten (I've made batches for the past two weeks), and the recipe is fool-proof. Awesome vegan gluten free goodness. They've been enjoying them with our vanilla date ice cream.






ingredients:

2 cups very ripe banana


1 cup water
4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut sugar



1/2  tsp sea salt
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon

2 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking soda

2 to 4 tbsp coconut flour



coconut sugar to sprinkle on top


directions:
1. puree the bananas
2. mix in water, melted coconut oil, lemon juice, and vanilla
3. stir in the ground chia
4. add the coconut sugar
5. stir in the salt and cinnamon
6. add the almond flour
7. mix in the baking soda
8. stir in the coconut flour
9. scoop into muffin cups -- I used 24 small ones
10. sprinkle coconut sugar on top
11. bake at 345 for 45 minutes

sourdough bagels

It's like conjuring a butterfly out of thin air. Only it's not a butterfly. It's yeast. Ah, fermentation, how magical you seem to be.

Our sourdough adventures continue. Today? Bagels. So, we started with our starter and let it get all spongey, then made a funky kind of dough using some sweet potato flour (just a little) along with our spelt. Spelt, sweet potato flour, and salt. And water. And of course our dear-monster-in-a-jar.

Chewy, spongey, flavourful, delectable bagels.








-----------------------------------

1 cup starter
1 1/2 cup water
2 cups spelt flour
----------------------------------
combine and let sit for a few hours until doubled


2 to 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup sweet potato flour (optional)
1 to 2 cups spelt flour


add the salt and stir,
mix in the flour until a lovely elastic dough has formed -- don't make it too dry. make it so it's still very clammy feeling
knead
knead
knead

let the dough sit for 2 hours

divide the dough into approx 50 g bits, and make into bagel shapes
let rise for  2 hours

heat a pot of water to boiling with a few tbsp baking soda  in it
boil bagels 2 minutes per side

bake at 345 for 25-30 minutes


Socca-ish -- a vegan, chickpea flour flat bread

This is a fun and spunky little side that can be a simple meal on its own when paired with a fabulous salad, or can add a little pizzazz to other dishes.

Bow down and worship the humble chickpea in all its forms.






ingredients:

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 med/large onion diced, then cooked in the coconut oil with a little salt

3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

1/4 cup ground chia

1 cup chickpea flour
a pinch of granulated garlic


directions:

preheat the oven to 345
1. chop the onion, and cook in 2 tbsp coconut oil with a little salt
2.while the onions are cooking, combine the other ingredients
3. add the cooked onions and stir
4.
5. spread on an iron griddle or in 2 square silicone pans and bake for 60 minutes ...


Vanilla Date Ice Cream

This is the story of an ice cream named Vanilla Date who had a bit of an identity crisis, because people got the wrong impression when they heard the name vanilla date. I mean, who, really, equates dates with a decadent ice cream? But vanilla date was decadent. Rich, creamy, sweet, delectable, sophisticated, and ready for a long term relationship.

Unfortunately, we are already in a long term relationship with chocolate. But then we kind of broke up. And guess what? There was vanilla date, ready to pick up the pieces of our shattered dreams. A respite from chocolate, absolutely.

Not that there is anything wrong with eating chocolate ice cream often. Very very often. But just in time, along came this chocolate alternative. Something fresh, and just a little bit naughty. The hit is vanilla, but somehow there is a little caramel tease going on. Not sure where that comes from.

The texture is light and soft and incredibly creamy. A new family fave. No complaints here from anyone.





ingredients:

2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup dates (pitted or take the pits out)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut nectar


2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt


directions:

1. In a large bowl, pour 2 cups boiling water.
2. add your coconut oil
3. add your dates, followed by the coconut nectar
4. let the whole thing sit for 10 minutes to soften
5. using a hand blender or a blender, blend until perfect homogenized and smooth
6. add the vanilla extract, sea salt, and coconut milk
7. process a little more
8. chill
9. freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions
10. serve by itself, make into ice cream sandwiches, use to top brownies ...


Sunday, 11 May 2014

If Energy Had Balls ... Pecan and date get cozy with some cacao ...

I don't really mean to make off-colour allusions to spherical anatomical areas. Really, these are kind of a riff on our easter eggs. However the chewy fudgey goodness is out of this world, and deserves representation whether it's easter or not.

Pecan and date together do something just a little magical or even perhaps alchemical. Not gold, but certainly more than the sum of its parts.

We left these unwrapped, but for easy snacks on the go, you could do them up in small squares of foil just like the easter eggs.

Simply put, these are a pretty intensely delectable energy-rich snack.

Vegans, go get 'em!







ingredients:

1/2 cup hemp hearts
1 cup raw pecans pieces or halves
1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup raw cacao
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp stevia powder
2  tbsp ground vanilla
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups pitted soft dates

1 or 2 tbsp vanilla extract or water

directions:

1. combine the hemp hearts, pecans, coconut, raw cacao, sea salt, stevia powder, and ground vanilla in a food processor, and process until as homogeneous as possible
2. add the honey dates and the vanilla and pulse and then process until it starts to form a 'dough'. Don't stop processing until this happens!! If you need to add more water for this to happen, add it just a bit at a time.
3. roll the dough into small balls
4. how many you get will depend on the size. I got about 40.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Crockpot

Most of the veggies in this one get the most heat, and kind of melt and disappear into the body of the stew. The chickpeas and diced sweet potato, and brown lentils are all that are note worthy in the end. A fabulous, delicious, rich, and simple meal. We enjoyed it with the freshly baked sourdough and a salad of spinach, carrot, and cucumber.






2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
4 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 cup celery finely chopped
1 cup masoor whole lentils
  
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup coconut butter
2 tsp sea salt

4 cups diced sweet potato

2 tsp sea salt

6 cups water

1 tbsp marjoram



directions:
turn on the crockpot and set to 6 hours
1. add coconut oil and let it melt in the bottom of the crockpot
2. finely chop vegetables in the food processor (onion, cabbage, celery)
3. spread in bottom of heating crock pot
4. rinse lentils and spread over vegetables
5. layer chickpeas next
6. add 2 cups coconut butter, distributed evenly over chickpeas
7. add 2 tsp sea salt, sprinkle evenly
8. layer on diced sweet potato
9. sprinkle 2 more tsp sea salt
10. pour on 6 cups of water
11. sprinkle marjoram on top
12. close lid
13 wait six hours
14. stir and serve

Harvesting the wild yeast -- Sourdough -- spelt sourdough from starter to sublime








I  was listening to Michael Pollan's Cooked as an audiobook. I made it through the part on barbecue which seemed to last forever, but was somehow enjoyable despite the fact that I'm vegan. I was rather more compelled by the part on fermenting foods, as I'm already a little fermented at heart. I do my own sauerkraut, and have done other variations with other veggies. I'm not a drinker, but still had to resist the urge to start making beer. And then I came to the section on bread. And I was a goner. I had to get busy with it. The homesteading hippie naturalist inside me found the idea of making bread from a starter using wild-caught yeast simply more than she -- that is to say, I -- could resist.

So this is what I did.

I combined equal weights of water and whole grain spelt flour in a wide mouthed mason jar, covered it with a  clean cloth, and put it aside to ferment. Except that it seemed too thick to me so I added more water. Every morning and night I added equal weights of spelt and water and stirred well. Soon: bubbles. I had caught some wild yeast, and it was enjoying a feast. The smell became tart and sweet at the same time, and I knew good things were happening.
Feeding once every 24 hours apparently selects for micro-organisms that result in a sourer dough. Feeding once every 12 hours selects for micro-organisms that result in a less sour, slightly sweeter dough.

People keep their starters for years, and they treat them like pets, taking them with them on vacation and feeding them faithfully at regular intervals. Passing them on, generation to generation like a family heirloom. If you want to take a break from the monster in your mason jar, apparently you can also spread it on a silicone mat to let it dry completely, then store it dry until you want to use it again. I will try that at some point and let you know how it goes.

After about a week and a half, both the starter and I were ready to try a loaf.
It was thick, and puffy, and swelled up to fill the jar in between feedings.

This is what I did next:

1. I combined 1 cup of the starter with 2 cups of water and 3 cups of spelt flour (I was going to use 1 1/2 cups of water, but the starter was apparently a little too dry for that. So, 1/2 cup more water, and it was a thick, gloopy mass.
2. I set this resulting 'sponge' aside in a covered bowl to get busy for 2 hours. (I put it in the oven with the light on to give it a little warmth) You can do this part for longer -- up to 8 hours I believe
3. After it had greatly increased in size in the oven, I mixed in about 2 1/2 tsp sea salt and stirred well
4. then I turned it all out on a large mat, and kneaded in a couple more cups of spelt flour until a nice dough was formed. I erred on the side of stickier, because that's the take away I got from Pollan's experiences.
5. After some lazy kneading, I flattened, folded, rolled, and tucked, and then put this dough inside a large cast iron dutch oven lined with parchment. And let it rise for a couple more hours.
6. I then baked it covered in its cozy little pot at 345 for 1 hour
7. I then took it out of the oven, removed it from the pot, and let it cool


I think this loaf was a triumph. Full of small holes, with a lovely spongey texture and a pleasant flavour. I'm excited by my first efforts, and shall look forward to the next loaf.

Of course, there are many cook books and web pages dedicated to artisanal bread making. I do not attempt to achieve any kind of artisanal status. I am also not ever going to try baking bread with the correct refined flour that would result in the much lauded 'oven-spring'. For a whole grain bread, however, this one is definitely satisfyingly airy. And I'm giddy -- just a little bit -- to have corralled and exploited some wild air-borne yeast, and made bread with only flour, water, and salt. Good fun for a cooking nerd like me.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Eggs

We thought it would be fun to make two kinds of easter eggs this year. Plain ol' chocolate, and peanut butter chocolate. If you like peanut butter chocolate, you may enjoy these, too. I thought of Sandra and Dave while making these, because they share my appreciation for that delectable organic lightly salted peanut butter .... or in Dave's case, perhaps addiction is a more appropriate word ...












ingredients:

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup raw cacao
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp stevia powder
2  tbsp ground vanilla

1 1/2 cups pitted honey dates
1/2 cup peanut butter

2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 tbsp water

directions:

1. combine the hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, coconut, raw cacao, sea salt, stevia powder, and ground vanilla in a food processor, and process until as homogeneous as possible
2. add the honey dates and the vanilla and water and pulse and then process until it starts to form a 'dough'. Don't stop processing until this happens!! If necessary add the second tbsp of water.
3. roll the dough into small egg shapes
4. how many you get will depend on the size. I got about 50.