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!

:)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ginger Bread People



Well, it's definitely approaching the season when well meaning relatives try to push sugar bombs on children in the form of cookies cookies and more cookies. I'm working on a ginger bread people recipe that can hopefully provide a line of defense and a healthy alternative. I've got a bit of experimenting left to do, but should be able to post something tasty and cute later this week. So far I'm very happy with the texture of the cookie -- crisp but not crumbly, crunchy but not tough -- but I still need to re-work the spice/seasoning ratios ... Stay tuned.

And of course, as always, I welcome to your feedback :)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Bread comes in many shapes ...







Our dear friend Jill came for breakie today -- isn't it great to have breakfast with friends on a Sunday morning? -- and to go with our leftover Saturday morning muffins and our favourite superfood powerbars, I made some bread. I love baking bread because a) obsidian betelgeuse does all the heavy work (that's my mixer btw) b) it makes the house smell amazing and c) I get to greedily enjoy the freshly baked heel of the loaf ... yum.

Instead of baking the bread in a loaf pan, I decided to bake two long thin loaves. Thinly sliced (or thickly) this bread made a lovely breakfast adjunct, and will also work great for dipping in the leftover vegetable lentil soup from the other night. To liven things up, I made this bread with a couple of tablespoons of mesquite powder and maca powder, a tsp of cinnamon, and made it with whole wheat pastry flour instead of our more usual organic red fyfe flour.

It turned out to be a lighter coloured loaf (soft wheat is a paler colour than red fyfe), with a lot of sweetness and flavour.

The only important thing to remember when baking bread in a different form than the loaf pan is that baking time will need to be adjusted. In the upper half of the oven, these free form loaves baked on a large baking sheet lined with silicone for about 35 minutes at 345 degrees. You can tell if a loaf is fully baked because there will be a sort of hollow sound when you tap on the bottom. Over baking, however, will yield a loaf that also sounds hollow, but tastes wooly ... :(

Fortunately, these loaves were baked to perfection, and were eaten with butter, honey, much enjoyment, and second helpings.




Saturday, 27 November 2010

Rich Raisin Muffins -- Saturday Morning Muffins with Friends



Saturday morning once again. In anticipation of our post music class tea date, we made muffins. Like we did on Tuesday morning, we made raisin muffins. However, these ones are not vegan, and they are rich, fluffy, sumptuous, and lovely.

They went down easily with with some delicious roiboos chai, and I was impressed when the little boys disappeared two muffins each within a few minutes of arriving.

I used shelled hemp seeds in these muffins, something I've used in a few other muffins I've made, such as the savoury spinach muffins. I find this gives the muffins a moistness, richness, and tenderness that is uniquely theirs. The seeds are also sweet in a nutty way, which adds to the delicate flavour of the pastry.


ingredients:

1 3/4 cups organic whole milk
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup clear, raw, agave

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2  tsp ground vanilla (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup kamut pastry flour (whole grain, finely milled)

1 cup organic thompson raisins (jumbo)


directions:

preheat the oven to 345

1. warm the milk lightly to melt the coconut oil
2. add in the agave
3. beat in the eggs
4. mix in the flax meal and hemp seeds
5. add the cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt
6. stir in the almond flour
7. add the baking soda and mix well
8. add the kamut flour, and stir gently until just combined
9. fold in the raisins, careful not to over stir the batter
10. scoop into 24 prepared muffin cups
11. bake at 345 for 30 minutes in the upper half of the oven

Friday, 26 November 2010

Vegetable and Lentil Soup -- Belly Warming Comfort on a Cold Day!

Farmer's Market Vegetables and Masoor Lentils in a Clear, Rich Broth:
Yum!

Well, I was in the mood for something comforting and simple for dinner, so I decided to put together a vegetable and lentil soup. Unlike most soups that I've made, I actually cooked this one just below a simmer, so the broth wasn't actually bubbling, but it was enough to cook the lentils without over cooking the vegetables. The cooking time was about 10 minutes to saute the onions and garlic thoroughly, and then 1 hour to cook the soup with the broth on low. I was originally planning to add a cup of coconut milk to the broth when it finished cooking, but once I tasted it, I found the extremely rich flavour of the broth to be enchanting the way it was. Plus, it's nice to have a clear broth sometimes, with bits of  herb floating on it ... comforting in the way that chicken soup is comforting for the non-vegetarians among us. We enjoyed it with the toasted remains of some stale bagels, some grape tomatoes, and mucho gusto. ;)


ingredients:

2-4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 smallish onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced (approximately 1 cup)
2 medium sweet potatoes (asian if possible) (I chose the mirosaki sweet potatoes from Bob Proracki: 
ontariosweetpotatoes.com)

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin (ground)
plenty of black pepper
1 tbsp marjoram
1-2 tbsp sea salt

2 cups whole masoor lentils (the small red/brown ones)

8 cups filtered water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar


directions:

1. choose a big pot (dutch oven or stock pot -- it should be at least 4 or 5 quarts)
2.  heat the coconut oil in the pot
3. add the minced garlic and finely chopped onion, along with 1 tbsp of sea salt, the cumin, and the turmeric
4. add the diced carrots and sweet potatoes
5. once the garlic and onions are thoroughly cooked, add the lentils and apple cider vinegar, and saute for a minute or two
6. add the water and marjoram, and adjust the amount of salt and pepper, adding up to another tbsp of sea salt if need. Put the lid on the pot.
7. bring the water to the point just below a simmer, as if the water were just 1 degree below boiling point. I found this was on the lowest setting on my stove. This permitted the lentils to absorb water and soften perfectly in 1 hour, without the carrots and sweet potatoes becoming mushy.
8. finally, after 1 hour, I brought the broth to a boil for 2 minutes, and then shut the heat off entirely. 
9. It is now ready to serve. This broth is so savoury-sweet and rich tasting that it is just begging for something to dunk in it, which is why I decided to use up our left over stale bagels.


Unlike the last soup I made, my son actually ate this one. My husband had seconds, and it wasn't even pasta ...

I'd love to hear what you think!



Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Vegan Raisin Muffins -- Tuesday Morning Muffins with Friends



I had some friends coming for tea this morning -- someone I've know since kindergarten, along with her two daughters, as well as her mother. Three generations of fabulous females. :)

I put on a pot of decaf vanilla tea to steep -- a favourite of all ages around here -- and decided the occasion called for fresh muffins. I wanted to make a vegan recipe, because it's nice to mix it up. I came up with these lightly sweet, very healthy, and thoroughly delicious little tea cakes. My friend's 3 year old ate three of them. I think the other kids only ate two each. But still, you get the picture. Needless to say, we went through a baker's dozen of these little cuties with our vanilla tea.


ingredients:


1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2 tsp egg replacer + 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup agave
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup flax meal
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup kamut flour

1 cup organic raisins (jumbo Thompson) -- pick through to make sure there are no stems attached ...




directions:


preheat the oven to 345


1. lightly warm the water to melt the coconut oil, add the agave
2. mix the egg replacer and 1/4 cup water well in a separate bowl, then add mixture to water, oil, and agave
3. add the apple cider vinegar
4. add the flax meal, almond flour, cinnamon, vanilla, and sea salt, and mix well
5. add the baking soda and mix
6. add the kamut flour and mix lightly and gently until just combine
7. add the raisins and stir very gently to combine
8. scoop the batter into 24 prepared muffin cups
9. bake at 345 for 33 minutes in the upper half of the oven



Saturday, 20 November 2010

Du Puys Lentils and Brown Rice



Home alone is not always the title of a Macaulay Culkin film.  Nor am I cute or blond. However, I was home alone yesterday afternoon, my art class cancelled, with some paintings to finish and dinner to make. So, I threw some stuff in a pot, and hunkered down with my canvases. This dish would lend itself very well to a slow cooker. If I'd only thought about dinner at breakfast! Alas, I didn't think about dinner until mid-afternoon, and this only took 50 minutes to cook, plus about 10 minutes for prep. Very tasty, rib-sticking, complete meal in a bowl. And Colin, who once informed me if it wasn't pasta, it wasn't going to be delicious, declared it to be "yummy comfort food". There is no higher praise ;) And most importantly, I had plenty of time to work on my paintings.

Now there are a couple of important things to realize before you make this dish. First of all, not all lentils are created equal. I used the Du Puy lentil, which is so cute and so special, that you will forever after forget the names of all your former lentil friends. And the brown rice we use is so short grained that it's nearly round. It has a chewy deliciousness that is completely unlike the dry, long grain rice I grew up on.

Also there is a reason I use frozen spinach. I keep packages of organic frozen spinach on hand at all times, because I use spinach when I make pasta or green muffins, because it's not always easy to find organic greens at the super market, because it's easy to cook up super fast with a little sea salt and coconut oil for a yummy side dish, and because it's convenient. Spinach is a good vege to try to use organic, because it's one of the worst offenders for toxic chemicals when conventionally farmed. I like having some basics on hand so that I can throw dinner together without a trip to the grocery store. Such as this one! I did happen to have a some organic carrots, and organic broccoli stems on hand (I'd roasted the crowns for dinner earlier in the week). Crowns wouldn't work in this recipe because of the boiling time involved, but the stems work a charm after you peel off the outer woody sheath. Now, please admire my super macro rice and lentil pictures before you continue to the recipe. ;) 
Thank you.

Our favourite brown rice is so short of grain that it is nearly round. We tend to prefer California brown rice such as calrose.

The very adorable and distinct Du Puy lentil is a tiny, flavourful pulse that eclipses the large, pale green lentils most of us are most familiar with. Perhaps harder to find, but well worth the effort.


ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Du Puy lentils
1 1/2 cups very short grain brown rice
5 1/2 cups filtered water

2 medium carrots
3 stems from broccoli stalks (you know, the part that's left when you cut the crowns off)
150 grams of frozen spinach, set aside to defrost

2 tbsp vegetarian bouillion powder (we use organic Harvest Sun, the vegetarian, yeast free one)
a pinch or 2 of sea salt
a little freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil


directions:

1. put the rice, lentils, coconut oil, vinegar, bouillion powder,  and water in a medium sized pot
2. put the pot on the stove, and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat, and set the timer for 50 mintues. It should be on a simmer for the duration of the cooking.
3. chop the carrots into small pieces
4. peel off the woody sheath from the broccoli, and chop the broccoli into small pieces
5. add the broccoli, carrots, salt, and pepper to the pot
6. when the spinach has defrosted, chop it finely
7. when the rice and lentils are fully cooked, remove from heat, and stir in the spinach.
8. serve with alacrity. Or with grape tomatoes and carrot medallions (we prefer medallions to sticks around here, and definitely prefer tomatoes to alacrity).

This is a very flavourful dish, but in a way that is appealing to young palates. The cooked vegetables inspire a sweetness in it, and the savoury seasoning balances all the flavours well. My son ate about half of his before even pausing for breath. 


Caramel-Apple Date Muffins -- More Saturday Morning Muffins ...



I've probably posted too many photos of these cute little caramel-apple muffins. But the photos were so ... sexy. I just couldn't help myself. Saturday morning again, so we wanted to whip up a batch before music class, so we'd have something to share with friends. One of our friends who would be eating them on Sunday is allergic to milk, so we wanted to make something dairy free. I love dates in muffins, they get so soft and creamy, but I found with the sweetness of the caramel-apple on top, and the coconut sugar in the muffin, that the dates are a little much for me. But I'll admit to neither having a sweet tooth nor liking sweets over much. I definitely prefer a savoury snack. However, if you have a sweet tooth, or like a sweet with your coffee or for dessert, these really are winning. Colin loves them. He thinks they are the greatest thing since last week's Vegan Brownies. And he's not a date lover. He's not even a date liker. 

And without further ado, here's the delicious recipe for caramel-apple date muffins:


ingredients:

1 1/2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 xl organic eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds (whole without the shell)
1/2 - 3/4 tsp sea salt

2 cups almond flour (JK Gourmet is our favourite)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup kamut flour (finely milled pastry flour, whole grain)

1 large organic apple, quartered and cored (we used royal gala)
24 honey dates

extra coconut sugar for topping


directions:

preheat oven to 345

1. take 2 quarters of the apple and thinly slice to top the 24 muffins and set aside
2. finely chop the remaining 2 quarters of the apple and set aside
3. finely chop the dates and set aside
4. warm the water slightly to melt the coconut oil
5. combine the water, coconut oil, vinegar, coconut sugar, and eggs
6. stir in the vanilla, cinnamons, and sea salt
7. add the flax meal and hemp seeds
8. stir in the almond flour
9. mix in the baking soda
10. stir in the kamut flour, mixing lightly until just combined
11. add the dates, stir
12. add the chopped apples, stir
13. scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups
14. top each cup with a thin slice of apple and a (generous) sprinkle of coconut sugar
15. bake for 35 minutes at 345 degrees in the upper half of the oven
16. after you have removed the muffins from the oven, allow the muffins to sit in the cups for a few minutes before removing them. If you try to remove them immediately, they will be too fragile. If you leave them in too long, they will sweat.
17. don't forget to drool over my naughty muffin pictures.




Thursday, 18 November 2010

Vegetable Pancakes and Brown Rice with Almond Butter Sauce -- Eggs For Dinner ... Again.



These vegetable pancakes are super fast to make. And if you already have brown rice cooked up, you can mix up a little almond butter sauce to top your rice, and have a quick and yummy dinner that will suit a variety of ages and palates.


pancake ingredients:

1 stem from a big stalk of broccoli
1 medium carrot
1 egg
1/2 -1 tsp organic tamari
1-2 drops sesame oil
freshly grated ginger (optional)


directions:

1. Remove the woody outer sheath from the broccoli, then coarsely grate the broccoli and carrot into a bowl.
2. mix in the egg, tamari, sesame oil, ginger
3. cook as you would pancakes, 4 at a time on a medium heat griddle, approx 2 minutes per side
4. this recipe only makes 4 small pancakes, but can be multiplied. You do the math ;)





almond butter sauce ingredients:

2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp honey
pinch of ginger


directions:

1. combine the ingredients, adding up to 1 tsp of water if it is too thick
2. spoon onto hot brown rice (I am personally a big fan of extremely short grain brown rice, especially such as calrose. I cook it with a little coconut oil and sea salt, and it comes out great. Very tasty!)
3. you can also use this sauce as a topper for the vegetable pancakes




Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Baby Cake Vegan Apple Cake -- Baby Cake #4

Vegan Apple Cake

For some people, apple cake is synonymous with comfort food. I wanted to create a recipe that was not fancy. I wanted to offer something fragrant with cinnamon and vanilla, but still sweetly quiet and ... comforting. This pretty little number offers the winning combination of simple fare with a small nod towards health. It's definitely not the healthiest thing I've ever made, but the total sugar content is quite low, and the rest of the ingredients don't belong in the 'totally evil' column by any means.

The recipe for this evil little cake is simple, and it bakes up in a hurry.


ingredients:

1 1/4 cups filtered water
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2 tsp egg replacer + 1/4 cup filtered water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp organic ground vanilla
2 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 large apple (royal gala), cored and cut into small pieces
1/2 med sized apple (royal gala), quartered and cut into thin slices


directions:

preheat the oven to 345

1. warm the water, and melt the coconut oil in it
2. combine the egg replacer with the 1/4 cup water, and stir into the water and oil
3. add the vanilla, sugar, and apple cider vinegar
4. add the salt, cinnamons, and vanilla
5. add the flour
6. mix in the baking soda
7. stir in the chopped apple, and spoon into 24 prepared muffin cups
8. top each cup of batter with a thin slice of apple and a (generous) sprinkle of organic cane sugar, which will caramelize delightfully as the cake bakes
9. bake the cakes at 345 for 30 minutes








Baby Cake Savoury Spinach Cake -- Baby Cake #3

Savoury Spinach Cake


Earth Day, St. Paddy's Day, Kermit the Frog Day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday ... Just because you love me day ... Any day is a good day for little green cakes.

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup frozen spinach (to make 2 1/2 cups total, defrosted and pureed with water)
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, unrefined
2 eggs
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 1/2 - 3 tsp  organic vegetarian bouillon powder (we use Harvest Sun)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds, shelled
2 cups almond flour (blanched)
1 cup kamut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda 


directions:

1.     preheat oven to 345
2.     puree defrosted spinach with water
3.     add beaten eggs, melted oil, apple cider vinegar, and mix
4.     add seasoning, seeds, and almond meal
5.     add baking soda 
6.     add kamut flour
7.     mix
8.     put into prepared muffin cups (I use silicon baking cups)
9.     bake for 35 minutes at 345

makes 24 little green cakes

Baby Cake Coffee Cake -- Baby Cake #2

Baby Cake Coffee Cake


The texture of these is delicate and moist, and the taste is so rich and flavourful that you won't miss the white sugar, white flour, and other assorted evils of a more traditional coffee cake. Enjoy, and consider naming your first born (first born baby cake) after me.


ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic whole milk
2 organic eggs, large
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (I prefer Nutiva)
1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp sea salt
2 cups fine almond flour (I used JK Gourmet)
1 tsp organic vanilla bean powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
a quick grind or five of black pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup fine kamut flour (whole grain)

1/2 cup organic thompson raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans


directions:

preheat the oven to 345

1. warm the milk slightly
2. add the coconut oil, and stir until melted
3. add eggs and stir briskly
4. add vanilla and maple syrup, combining well
5. add salt and spices and almond flour, and stir well
6. add baking soda, mix well
7. add kamut flour, and mix thoroughly but briefly
8. add raisins and pecans
9. pour batter into 24 muffin cups, and sprinkle the top with a little cinnamon and a lot of coconut sugar
10. bake at 345 for 30 minutes in the upper half of the oven

Baby Cake Vegan Brownie -- Baby Cake #1

Vegan Brownie

When you read this recipe, as I mentioned, you will see similarities between this and my first posted recipe for Chocolate Muffins. However, I shall simply post the recipe in entirety with the changes, and you can do with it what you wish. I know you must be shaking your head in disbelieving awe. Could something so good for you actually taste this good? The answer is: damn, I hope so. 

My son had one after dinner last night. His opinion was: "This tastes real good." He repeated this sentence about 15 times whist gazing at his chocolate delight. I know, I know. You're casting my words back at me. You're thinking: "That's the kid who ate a cigarette butt. What does he know?" When I asked my husband what he thought of the brownie, he merely stuffed another one in his mouth and grunted. So, kindly and gentle reader, it comes down to you. Vegan Brownie -- yea or nay?


ingredients:

1 3/4 cup filtered water, warmed
1 cup pitted honey dates
1/4 cup clear agave
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2 tsp egg replacer + 4 tbsp filtered water

1 tsp sea salt
1 or 2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup raw cacao (or cocoa powder)
1/2 cup pecan meal
1 cup almond meal (blanched)
1 cup kamut pastry flour (whole grain)
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup Callebaut chocolate morsels

extra Callebaut morsels to decorate the top


directions:

preheat oven to 345

1. soak dates in water for 10 minutes, and then puree dates in the water. (It's a good idea to check each date to make sure the pit has indeed been removed. Just give it a squeeze)
2. add rest of 'wet' ingredients and puree again
3. stir in dry ingredients one by one. Add the chocolate morsels after everything else has been well combined. I often find it easier to add the baking soda before the kamut flour to ensure even distribution.
4. scoop batter into prepared muffin tins. I use silicone cups placed on a baking sheet. They need to be oiled the first couple of times you use them, but after that are amazingly non-stick, and wonderfully non-wasteful. Decorate the top of the brownies with a few chocolate morsels. This is optional. Not really. Just do it.
5. bake for 30 minutes in the center of the oven
6. remove from oven when the top feels slightly springy to your touch
7. remove brownies from muffin tins or silicone cups a few minutes after removing from oven.
8. Hide them quickly.

makes 24  brownies


(If you can correctly identify where the quote below comes from, you win a vegan brownie!)




yum










yum

extra yum

Monday, 15 November 2010

Cakes Cakes Cakes Baby Cakes

Vegan Brownie
http://voluptuousvegetarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/vegan-brownie-baby-cake-1.html


Coffee Cake
http://voluptuousvegetarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/coffee-cakes-baby-cakes-2.html

Savoury Spinach Cake
http://voluptuousvegetarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/savoury-spinach-cakes-baby-cake-3.html

Vegan Apple Cake
http://voluptuousvegetarian.blogspot.com/2010/11/baby-cake-vegan-apple-cake-baby-cakes-4.html

It was baby-cake-palooza here yesterday. How cute is that? In honour of the occasion, I came up with a vegan apple cake recipe that, while evil, is dairy, egg, and NUT free. You read correctly. There are no nuts in this apple cake. No almond flour. No pecan meal. No wily little walnuts slyly hiding in plain sight ... No complicated alchemy of ground this and pureed that. Just a simple concoction of really traditional things like flour, sugar, and of course, apples. Simple, comfortable, yummy, and reassuring, that in the avant guard world of voluptuous vegetarianism, there is still something that tree nut phobes can enjoy. ;)

I also reprised one of my favourites. A savoury cake rich with spinach, hemp seeds, and flax meal. It's great for brunch, or with soup for dinner. It's not really a dessert cake unless you are Little Pea (very cute book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal), but it's great when you need a quick snack to go, or an easy lunch with a cup of tea.

The coffee cake probably looks familiar. Although I goosed it with some ceylon cinnamon and some ground vanilla powder, the recipe is otherwise identical to my infamous coffee cake post from last month. But I have to say, I think it's much more adorable as a baby cake ... And probably gives you the idea that I really cannot leave well enough alone. I can't. I got these new ingredients and they are like toys that my fingers are just itching to play with ...

Finally, the vegan brownie. The problem I have with vegan cupcakes and so forth is that much of the time they are nutritional devoid. They are full of bad stuff I wouldn't want to eat, and while they may taste sweet and yummy, they are not doing you any favours. This little beauty is full of stuff you really would want to eat, and taste like a piece of evil decadence on a plate. Who's going to quibble over a couple pieces of Callebaut chocolate stuck to the top? ;) I'll have to be honest and say I was trying to recreate my inaugural recipe from the beginning of October, and accidentally doubled the amount of flour. This led me to increase the amount of water by 1/4 cup. This all resulted in a thicker texture of batter, which resulted in less of a cake texture, and more of a brownie texture. I threw in a handful of Callebaut chocolate morsels, and stuck a few more on the top of each baby cake. And a star was born. So, here, humble chocolate muffin, I rename thee Vegan Brownie. Hah.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

My Favourite Power Bar -- SsssssssssuperFoods SuperPower SuperBar





I feel like I'm eating big chunks of candy when I eat this. It's kind of spicy and fragrant, redolent of vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, with the taste of chocolate and berries tying it together. Not that it would float your boat if what you really want is some Callebaut or a corner store chocolate bar. But for me this is it. It satisfies, is a big chewy mouthful, and tastes great. This is chewier than the other power bars I've posted, and certainly will appeal to a different audience because of this.


ingredients:

2 cups pitted dates (or 1 cup unsulphured apricots and 1 cup dates or 1 cup apricots, 1/2 cup dates and 1/2 cup organic raisins ... etc. You get the picture. Any dried fruit you have (organic and unsulphured) that has dried out a bit too much to be enjoyable to eat can be salvaged in this recipe, too.)
1 cup raw almonds
4 tbsp coconut butter
1/4 cup flax meal

1 tbsp acai
2 tbsp pure green barley powder
2 tbsp maca powder
1 tbsp mesquite
2 tbsp hemp protein powder
2 tbsp raw cacao (or 4 tbsp raw cacao for true chocolate lovers)

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp ginger for more zing)
1/2 tsp ground vanilla

1/2 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup raw goji berries


directions:

1. in a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are finely milled
2. add the dates, and pulse until all is pureed together
3. add the coconut butter and pulse
4. add the flax, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla, and pulse
5. add the acai, barley, maca, cacao, mesquite, and hemp, and pulse until thoroughly combined
6. add pistachios, and pulse until finely chopped
7. add the goji berries, and pulse until finely chopped
8. when the mixture is combined well and sticking together well, press it into a square glass pan, smooth the top with your hands, and put it into the refrigerator.
9. when it is thoroughly chilled and firm, cut into bars, squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, stars, rhomboids, trapezoids, hexagons, or octogons. Do not attempt a dodecahedron. Leave that to the professionals.
10. share with your friends, especially Zoe and Su. They really like them.

**note: if your mixture seems too crumbly, you can try adding a little extra coconut butter, or a tbsp or 2 of coconut oil. Or both ;)

update: Just for fun, I added a quarter cup of finely ground chia seeds and a quarter cup of extra virgin coconut oil


variation february 11: 1/4 cup hemp powder instead of 2 tbsp, 1/4 cup ground chia, 1/4 cup coconut oil, a little extra coconut butter, 1/2 cup goji berries instead of 1/4 cup, and 1/4 cup pistachios instead of 1/2 cup. :) (and 1/4 cup raw cacao instead of 2 tbsp, as usual)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Tamari Almonds -- From the simple to the sublime ...

Almonds after roasting, pre-tamari.



Our friend Kim first introduced us to homemade tamari almonds a number of years ago. I've changed the method of cooking from stove top to oven (easier and less high maintenance -- which is ironic, because Kim is definitely less high maintenance than I am), however the spirit of this simple delicacy remains the same. Amazingly, almost everyone seems able to wolf down a relatively large quantity of these tasty little nuggets, and we seem to power through them at an alarming rate whenever we make them. Not that it's a bad thing. Although there are cautions in 'alternative' medicine about over use of soy and soy products, fermented soy is in a different category, and is able to provide hard to come by nutrients. It's also important to note, however, that conventional soy is processed in some dubious ways resulting in high heavy metal content in some non-organic soy products. To be safe, it seems to be recommended to always choose organic when using soy. With that long winded intro, here's the recipe.


ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds
1 1/2 tsp to 3 tsp tamari (depends how seasoned you like 'em)


directions:

1. preheat your oven to 345
2. put the almonds on a baking sheet. You can double the quantity if you have a large baking sheet. I always line mine with a silicone mat. Habit.
3. bake the almonds for between 20 and 30 minutes in the upper half of the oven at 345. I have left a bit of a spread in the time, because there are variables that will affect how toasted the almonds become, and also personal taste enters into it. Generally, I would say they are done when they are lightly browned through, and some of them crack open a little.
4. remove the almonds from the oven and put them in a bowl. Pour the tamari on them an stir well until all the almonds are coated. They will absorb the tamari after a little while.
5. allow them to cool thoroughly, and then store in an airtight container. Humidity will make them lose their crunch, so this is important.

These make a great anytime snack when you just need a little something to tide you over. Almonds are pretty close to a perfect food, so don't be afraid to indulge.

All dressed up with nowhere to go ...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Scrambled Oatmeal -- Eggs for Dinner



In my house, we like breakfast foods for dinner sometimes. Pancakes are great in the evening. And this eggs and porridge hybrid that we call Scrambled Oatmeal is always a rib-sticking comfort food. It's simple and super fast to make, filling, and healthy. You can season it up to suit the individual palates involved, or keep it simple. We tend to eat it savoury, with sea salt and pepper, bouillion seasoning, or even sauteed onion, but maple syrup would work, instead, if you prefer your sweet. Or for breakfast.


ingredients:

3 eggs + enough milk to equal 2 cups
1 cup almond flour
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tbsp mesquite powder (optional)


directions:

1. beat the eggs and the milk together
2. add the seasonings
3. mix in the almond flour, then the oatmeal
4. for best results, allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes (or up to 30 in the fridge) before cooking
5. cook as you would scrambled eggs (I use a cast iron skillet with a little coconut oil)
6. serve hot for dinner with sides of steamed broccoli and grape tomatoes

This quantity will more than fill 2 adults and a toddler.
We also make it without the almond flour, very successfully.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bob's New Sweet Potatoes -- Sweet Potato Oven Fries Again

The purple fleshed 'Okinawa' sweet potato, cut and ready to be oven baked.


The white fleshed 'Murasaki' sweet potato, tossed with coconut oil, sea salt and a little almond flour, and oven baked to perfection.


The Okinawa after oven roasting, ready to be eaten. Yummy.


There's this guy we call The Sweet Potato Man. Other people call him Bob Proracki, of Round Plains Plantation. He's a chemical-free sweet potato farmer, and very nice man. His wife Juli is adorable, too. He's my dealer when it comes to sweet potatoes. He hooks me up. I recently was able to purchase some of his new crop of Japanese-style sweet potatoes. To me, these are sweet potatoes the way they are meant to be. I'm not overly enamoured of the wetter texture of the orange fleshed sweet potatoes we find most readily in these parts, and I was excited to learn that there were drier fleshed sweet potatoes on their way. The Murasaki has a white flesh, and is so sweet that my husband likened it to maple syrup. My son was too busy stuffing his face to comment. I was also intrigued by the vibrantly purple flesh of the Okinawa. It is not quite as sweet (and since I don't have much of a sweet tooth, that's fine with me), and to me tastes wonderful.

Both work really well as oven 'fries', which I think is a quick way to cook them (roasting or baking whole takes a whole lot longer), and still enjoy the characteristics of their unique textures. Plus then they are instantly finger food, which is always a plus when you have a 2 1/2 year old in the house ... Thanks Bob! Thanks Juli!  (http://ontariosweetpotato.com/)


Sweet Crackers


They look almost identical to their zesty, savoury cousins. But they are sweet and spicy, and put me in mind of a hybrid of ginger snap and graham wafer. If I were just making them for me, not to be appealing to a child of 2 1/2, I would probably double or triple the amount of ginger I put in them. As they are, they are sweet, crisp, fragrant, and simple. Great with a cup of tea. And because they are made with a little coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, they are low on the glycemic index, and not overly sweet. Plus, made as they are with almond flour and coconut butter, they are high in protein, which also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and offer a slow burning source of energy.


ingredients:

2 eggs
4 tbsp coconut butter
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and reduce water to 3 tbsp)
1/2 cup flax meal
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp baking soda
3 cups almond flour (JK gourmet)


directions:

1. lightly warm the coconut butter to melt
2. mix in water, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, ginger
3. stir in flax meal
4. stir in baking soda
5. stir in almond flour
6. wrap in parchment and chill in the refrigerator
7. preheat oven and roll out between sheets of parchment or silicone to desired thinness
8. score into squares with a dull knife and transfer the parchment or silicone to a baking sheet
9. bake at 300 for 25-30 minutes
10. break apart and store in an airtight container


update: although these are delicious, we found we didn't go through these all that quickly -- perhaps we like the zesty ones better? -- and they ended up stale and un-crisp. So, I put them on a baking sheet and shot them into a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes. Presto: like new. Super ultra crispy.



Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chocolate Banana Cakes



One of these things is not like the other ... wait a minute. Scratch that. Neither of them are like the other. In one small way. Okay, I'll admit it. They are almost identical. :)
They are both delectable chocolate banana cakes made with a couple of over ripe bananas just begging for a chance at fate. They both have everyone's favourite superfood -- raw cacao. They both contain very little sweetner and a decent amount of protein. In fact, they are identical in every respect except for one naughty little detail. The bottom cake contains an addition of a few decadent morsels of Callebaut dark chocolate ...

Now, I have to confess I'm not much of a chocolate eater, and I tend to turn up my nose at banana. (Cooked is okay, but raw? Erk.) However, I live with a couple of true chocolate lovers and banana eaters. My little son's first experience with chocolate was raw cacao nibs, which taste to me exactly like dirt. However, to him they are wonderful. I guess I don't  need to bring up the cigarette butt eating incident again, but ...

These little cakes were very popular in our house. We did half the batch with Callebaut morsels, and half sans. The raw cacao make them taste gratifyingly chocolately even without the punch of the chocolate. However, my husband will attest that they certainly aren't harmed in any way by the addition. ;)


ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup clear agave
1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 over ripe bananas (about 1 cup)

1 cup pecan meal
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa if you must ;))
1 cup kamut flour (finely milled, pastry flour texture, whole grain, please)
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 to 1/2 cup of high quality chocolate morsels


directions:
preheat oven to 345 and prepare 24 muffin cups (or use a rectangular pan if you prefer)

1. lightly warm the milk and oil together to melt the oil (coconut oil is a solid below 24 degrees)
2. add agave, and eggs, and stir briskly to combine
3. add vanilla
4. lightly mash the bananas (don't puree), and stir into the wet ingredients
5. stir in the pecan meal, sea salt, cinnamon, and black pepper
6. stir in the raw cacao and baking soda
7. add the kamut flour and mix thoroughly
8. if you are not adding chocolate morsels, spoon the batter into 24 muffin cups
9. if you are using chocolate morsels, add 1/2 cup chocolate morsels to the batter, and spoon the batter into 24 muffin cups
10. if you are adding chocolate to half the recipe as we did, spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups, then add 1/4 cup chocolate to the remaining batter, and spoon the remaining batter into 12 more muffin cups.
11. bake at 345 for 22-24 minutes in the upper half of the oven, or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a brave finger.
12. use them to bribe your husband to clean up his room.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Stuffed Pasta -- here's the recipe for real this time



Well, I'm about to share with you one of my most personally prized recipes. After much trial and error, I came up with a pasta dough that is super easy to make, unbelievably good for you, has a wonderful texture, and tastes divine. Even my husband, who is usually pretty lackadaisical about food (to my chagrin -- sometimes I want him to get a little bit more excited about the things I make) was impressed. He said it was the best thing he'd ever eaten in his life.

I use a food processor to make the dough. I know traditionalists take a big pile of flour and make a well in it. But I am definitely pushing away the boundaries of traditional pasta.


ingredients:

150 grams frozen spinach, defrosted. (I suppose you could use fresh spinach if you like, but I always just keep a few bags of organic spinach in the freezer for convenience. You'll have to be careful about the quantity of flour added if you use fresh)
1 egg
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp sea salt
dash nutmeg
dash black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups kamut pastry flour (whole grain)


directions:

1. pulse the spinach in the food processor until it is a green gooey mass of puree
2. add the egg, almond flour, sea salt, and black pepper, and whirl until  combined
3. add the first 1 1/2 cups of flour and pulse until combine. add the remaining flour a little at a time and pulse until the dough forms a firm ball. once the ball forms, don't add any more flour.
4.  wrap in parchment followed by a plastic bag, and set it aside to rest.


meanwhile, there is filling to make!

I made a lovely filling by sauteing some shallots in coconut oil, allowing them to cool, then mixing that into ricotta, a couple of eggs, seasoning it with sea salt, pepper, and some herbs. My two year old turned his nose up at it and refused to eat it.

So, this time I kept it very simple:

simple ricotta filling:


ingredients:

1 400 g container ricotta
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan (there's this cheese guy at the Riverdale Farmer's Market who sells the most amazing raw milk parmigiano reggiano -- swoon)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp oregano
dash of nutmeg
dash of black pepper


directions:

1. combine and season  to taste :) 


You can also do a more complicated filling if you prefer. My mother in law can't eat dairy, so I made a filling from roasted portabellas, shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, and walnuts, jumped up with some roasted garlic and roasted red onion. The whole thing sang nicely with the addition of some ground hemp seeds, almond meal, nutritional yeast, a dash of lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Very yummy. But any roasted vegetables could work.


And now the moment you've been waiting for -- the making of the stuffed pasta.


directions:

1. divide your dough into 15 gram balls using a kitchen scale. Or, if you are not as ocd as I am, you can just make smallish balls of dough. A little less than an inch in diameter is good.



2. keeping the balls covered by parchment topped by a damp cloth as you work so they don't dry out, roll them out and fill them, one by one. I guess they roll out to about 2 1/2 or 3 inches in diameter


3. the dough is a little sticky, but I wouldn't add extra flour. Just work quickly so your rolling pin doesn't get dry and crusty.


4. Put some filling near the center of the circle of dough. A little spoonful will do it.


5. fold the dough over itself in half, and press the edges tight. I actually find this easiest to do by picking it up and pinching the edges together


6. Avoid over-filling the dough, or you won't get a good seal, and there will be hell to pay when you boil  the pasta.


7. I do a quick press on both sides with the times of a fork. Who knows if this does anything. But it looks cute.


8. As I work, I line up the finished pasta on a lined baking sheet. You don't want them to stack, because they will stick to each other. They freeze really well, and can be boiled from frozen in about 15 minutes. To freeze, put the filled baking sheet in the freezer until the pasta is frozen through. It can then be bagged and tagged appropriately, to be used when your in-laws come for dinner an you want to impress them.

9. you can also use them the same day. To store for a few hours, put them in layers separated by parchment (including underneath them) in an airtight container in the fridge. 

10. To cook from fresh, bring a largish pot of water to a boil (put a little olive oil in the water). When the water has reached a boil, add the pasta. Once the water returns to the boil, cook for 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. You can either toss them in a pan with a little tomato sauce, or simply top them with our favourite tomato sauce (or top them with a little olive oil (or coconut oil) and parmesan). If you like pesto, hey, why not? 

11. serve with a little pride and your favourite salad 

12. My son was impressed because the cross section is vaguely fish shaped, and he thought they were fun to eat when I cut them up for him ...