Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum… Delicioso!

If you don’t understand the title…. lucky you!

Arborio rice (risotto) is awful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious. But it’s awful for your health. It’s as highly refined and processed as white rice. You’d be as well to pour a bowl of sugar into your mouth in terms of the spike in blood sugar, and ensuing inflammation. Thanks to a friend in grad school, I was able to find an equally delicious and creamy replacement, and I have spent the last few years fine-tuning variations on my recipe. The following is a base recipe which you can adapt to replace any other risotto recipe you enjoy!

Materials:

  • 6 Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup Wild Rice
  • 1 Cup Steel Cut Oatmeal
  • 6 Cups vegetable stock
  • 1-2 Cups vegetables (corn shown here)

Method:

In a large pot under medium heat, add the rice and oats. Stir in one ladleful of stock at a time, and stir until all liquid has been absorbed. This should take about 40 minutes. At this point, your wild rice may still be uncooked. Continue to stir in ladles of water until the rice and oats are softened. If you want to speed up this process, precook the wild rice according to manufacturer instructions.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F and cut the tops off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds. Place the peppers onto a pyrex dish (I like the 9″ rectangular thin ones… basically, you want it to be tight enough to keep the peppers upright, this will be more of an issue later). Cook the peppers until they are nice and soft and remove from the oven leaving them in the tray (20-25 mins, depending on the pepper and your preference). Turn the oven up to 450.

When the “risotto” is cooked, stir in the vegetables. These can either be frozen or prepared to your liking (caramelized onions for example). Fill the peppers with the risotto mix, and stick back in the oven. If you’re not as strictly simple,whole foodsy as I am, you can top with some GF breadcrumbs. Bake until the rice is brown on top and serve!

Note: you may have some risotto mix left over depending on how big your bell peppers were, and how much vegetables you used. It freezes really well, so just buy some more fresh bell peppers next time you want them, or do anything else you would do with risotto!

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Nüd Prüns: More Gloop, Less Poop

This is an update to my previous post about how to make homemade Nakd bars.

While the original recipe is very delicious and tastes a lot like the actual Nakd bar, I recently tried using prunes in place of the dates. The prunes are a lot juicier, so the bars ended up holding together a lot better (the previous recipe can be a little dry and crumbly). However, as prunes pack a more potent flavour that dates, I had to tinker (translation: increase) the amount of cocoa and orange I used. While I was tinkering, I came up with a way to make more bar-, and less poop-, shaped bars. Here’s the updated recipe.

Materials:
0.5 cup raisins
0.5 cup prunes
0.5 cup raw almonds
3.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Zest/rind of 3 large oranges

Methods:
Put all the ingredients in your blender, and process until everything is well ground.
Make a ball of dough out of the ground ingredients.
To make your six bars into a rectangular prism shape, press into a bread pan or pyrex baking dish. Using bare hands press to desired thickness (your hands will get mucky, but you will have a very yummy time cleaning them). If your pyrex is too big, press to one end and use the edge of a knife to make the non-encased edge straight. Cover and place into the fridge for an hour before cutting into 6 and serving.

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Getting Nüd!

I was just in Ireland and the UK for a month. While I didn’t always make the best eating decisions, I did make one very healthy discovery.. The Nakd Bar!

I have been looking for a sweet treat that is not only gluten-free and vegan, but also sugar free. There are a variety of reasons why sugar is the worst thing you can consume, but I will throw out the word inflammation and leave it at that for now.

I was so excited by this discovery that I decided to replicate it at home, and see if I could make them myself, a) to save money and b) because I don’t think they are on sale anywhere near me. I focused on the Cocoa Orange flavour because it was the first one I tried, and because it was so delicious, it was the only one I tried!

Et voila!

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Okay, so it kind of looks like a turd! Nakd bars look slightly better because they come in rectangular prisms, while poop, and despite my best efforts, my Nüd bar, are cylindrical. But fecal resemblance notwithstanding, it tasted great, took next to no time to make, and most importantly did not contain any sugar or added sweeteners.

If the three references to digestive egestion hasn’t put you off, here’s how to make them:

Materials:
0.5 cup raisins
0.5 cup pitted dates
0.5 cup raw almonds
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Zest/rind of 2 large oranges

Methods:
Put all the ingredients in your blender, and process until everything is well ground.
Make a ball of dough out of the ground ingredients, and divide into six.
Make your six bars into a rectangular prism shape, wrap in cling-film, and refrigerate until serving.

The bars will hold together better if you press them firmly when making them into bar shapes, and if you let them sit in the fridge for an hour or longer.

Note: if you have a weaker blender (like I do), you can presoak the first 3 ingredients for an hour or longer, and then drain well before blending.

Calories Total: 1,252
Number of Servings: 6
Per Serving: 209

I am so thrilled with the outcome of this experiment, I plan to use ground raisins/dates in place of sugar/sugar alternatives in future baking endeavours. I’ll post here if any work out!

Make It Your Own… Brownie!

I stumbled onto a recipe for vegan, gluten-free brownies via a Buzzfeed list* of vegan, gluten-free desserts. I was intrigued by the presence of both zucchini and kale (I heart fiber), but as I started to make the recipe, I didn’t want to use equal amounts of sugar and flour, even if the sugar is coconut sugar, so I rewrote the recipe to comprise less sugar and more flour (if you use Bob’s garbanzo flour like I did, that means more protein). I also got rid of the oil; coconut oil is certainly the healthiest of the oils, but it’s still a tonne of calories. I can’t call it fat-free because of the coconut milk, but it’s certainly reduced fat, and thanks to the metric tonne of cocoa powder, it’s still chock full of taste!

Materials:
2 cup gluten-free flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
0.5 cup melted coconut oil
0.5 cup lightly packed shredded zucchini
2 cup finely shredded, lightly packed kale
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Methods:
Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a baking dish (I used a 9″x13″)
Sift and mix all dry ingredients (except the veggies).
In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients, and stir into dry ingredients until everything is mixed in.
Fold in vegetables, and pour mix into baking dish.
Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes, or until inserted knife comes back clean.

Calories Total: 2,704
Number of Servings: 16
Per Serving: 169

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*I also made the chocolate mousse in position #2, and it was quite delicious!

There’s Always Some [Yummy] Place to Go!

No fat, no gluten, all vegan, all YUMMY!

No fat, no gluten, all vegan, all YUMMY!

My friend adapted Mandy’s Vegan Chocolate Cake to be both vegan and gluten-free cake for her daughter’s birthday party, and very kindly agreed to share the recipe with me. I made it myself but decided to adapt it further to be oil-free. Despite a couple of kitchen disasters* on my part (mostly a failure to RTFM), it turned out really well, so here it is:

1.5 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cups organic brown sugar
0.5 cup organic applesauce
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Preheat your oven to 375°F and prepare either an 8″ round or a bread pan. Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix the wet ingredients except the vinegar in a smaller bowl. With a whisk, combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large bowl, and blend until well combined. Then stir in the vinegar and pour into your baking tray (do not delay at this point… once the vinegar is added, the cake needs to get into the oven asap!) 

If you’re using a round pan, it should take about 30 minutes to make. In a loaf pan, it will take closer to 50 minutes. It is done when a knife comes out clean.

8 servings
181 calories per serving

*If you really want to do what I did, you should forget to pick up cider vinegar, and use 1 tablespoon of white and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. And for extra fidelity to my methodology, you should completely forget to add the sugar, remember 5 minutes into baking, frantically pull the cake out of the oven, stir in half the sugar with the wrong end of a knife, read the recipe properly, grab the cake bake out of the oven for a second time, and stir in the remainder!

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My Mornin’ Cuppa

I have done some reading on cleansing and migraine prevention recently, and in addition to my large glass of water, I now have a cup of cleansing green tea every single morning.

It’s not really a recipe per se. To make it, I steep a bag of organic green tea together with half a lemon sliced and a tapping of cayenne pepper (enough to offer some cleansing power, but not enough that anyone would taste cayenne pepper). I leave the teabag and lemon slices as I drink it.

Enjoy!

Hummus, So Good You’d Steal It!

We just got back from my daughter’s Montessori picnic. It was a lot of toddlers and young children running around screaming, organized games and other prescribed “fun”, and forced small talk with other parents who didn’t want to be there, all while insects landed on our food. All the hell of a baby shower for people who have already had their kids.

I brought homemade hummus with some sliced carrots and celery, all organic, of course! As people were leaving, they packed up whatever food containers they had brought with them. When my husband went to pick ours up, he couldn’t find it. He spends so little time in the kitchen that I wasn’t surprised he couldn’t identify our food containers, so I went to check. Nope. It was gone. It was the only container of its kind there, so there is no way it was taken by accident. And it wasn’t a nice container. I really believe that someone wanted to take the remainder of my hummus. I was annoyed, sure, but also a little proud!

Here’s my theft-worthy Hummus recipe.

2 cans Organic Chickpeas (15 oz; or equivalent volume of cooked chickpeas)

1/2 cup Organic Sesame Tahini

6 tbsp Lemon Juice

1/2 cup Filtered Water

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a drizzle for garnish)

6 tsp Crushed Garlic

1 tbsp Cumin Powder

1 tsp Paprika (plus a tsp for garnish)

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Pepper

Instructions

Stick everything, except for the garnish, into a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes until smooth.

Garnish and serve!

Makes:
54 Tbsp = 2,651 calories*
2 tbsp = 98 cals

Lentil Loaf… Vegan and GF!

I’m not a major foodie, and I don’t intend to use this blog as a recipe dump, but this turned out well, so I thought I’d share!

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It was inspired by the Incredible Lentil Loaf recipe over at Beth’s Journey (she is a foodie, and definitely has some recipes worth checking out). I made it before, and my picky toddler agreed to eat it. This time, I wanted to make it for myself as I was getting a little tired of the Pakistani lentils I have been eating for a few months now. I altered it a bit to come up with a vegan and gluten-free version, as well as accommodating things that I actually had in my pantry!

Ingredient List
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup brown rice cooked
1 carrot
1 onion
2 tsp mashed garlic
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/4 cup prunes
2 slices gf bread (Udi’s whole wheat)
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
Wax paper (not an ingredient per se, but useful to know you need it in advance!)

Boil lentils in 2 cups of water, and then simmer until soft (usually about 20 mins for red, longer for green). While lentils are boiling, prepare the vegetables and breadcrumbs.

Using food processor, convert 2 slices of bread into breadcrumbs (comes out to about 1 cup unpacked).

Dice onion finely and shred carrot (or stick both in the food processor like I did). Using a large non-stick pan, fry the vegetables on medium without oil (their natural juices will lubricate them enough). Add cumin, coriander, ginger and garlic (and an optional 1tsp of turmeric if you like!). Cook until vegetables are soft, and onions are translucent. Add in chopped prunes, and cook a minute or two longer. Turn off heat.

Drain lentils when cooked, and mash up (more important if using green lentils).  Add everything except the flaxseed to the vegetables and mix well. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp of flaxseed with 4 tbsp and stir until smooth. Mix into lentil/vegetable mixture and mix everything together well.

Transfer to loaf pan lined with wax paper. Press mixture into pan until well packed (use your hands to get in really packed… this well help it to stay together when it’s cooked).

Bake at 350˚F for 45 – 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

And now the math, in case you want to switch out ingredients:

Ingredient Calories
1 Cup Dried Red Lentils 640
1 Cup Cooked Brown Rice 109
1 Carrot 35
1 Onion 64
2 Tsp Mashed Garlic 8
1 Tbsp Grated Ginger 6
1 Tsp Cumin 8
1 Tsp Coriander 1
1/4 Cup Prunes 100
2 Slices GF Bread 140
2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed 120
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper 3 

Total Calories: 1231
Servings: 8
Calories Per Serving: 154