Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grain and Bean Salads To GO!

I am seriously still consumed with taking care of my Chicken Pox family. The end of this week marks 5 whole continuous weeks of dealing with this. Now we are on the home stretch. My last child, 16 month old Ben, has them this week. He had a 105.3 fever the other night, the highest I have ever seen a fever before.

Thank goodness for breast milk, which was his only food for almost 2 days. He was not interested in food or water and I would imagine would have been very dehydrated if it weren't for mama's milk. Now today, he is beginning to get his little Benny spunk back and has been busily playing outside for most of the day.

With that spunk comes a little curiosity. Today while I was picking overwintered kale from our garden, Ben and his twin brother, Sam, ran over to help. They picked a few leaves and then decided to go through our newly planted garden and take out all of the little yellow plant name tags. Oh well, Tom and I can recognize the difference between kale and collards or arugula and spinach!

The kale I picked, along with a few chives, was for a simple rice and garbanzo bean salad that I made for Tom before he left for a weekend trip to Seattle. Packed in a to-go container, this meal is ideal for lunches away from home.

I hesitated posting something like this because it is so simple, but sometimes the simplest things are the best. Interested in more whole grain recipes? Then click here.

Rice and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale

This super nutritious salad is even better on the second day after the kale has been softened from the olive oil and lemon juice! View our quick tutorial on cooking beans if you need a refresher.

4 cups cooked long grain brown rice (I used Jasmine)

1 to 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

2 cups chopped raw kale
2 large carrots, diced
handful of chopped fresh chives or green onions
handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Herbamare or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and toss together. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. I made this today with the rice slightly warm, but not too hot.

If you do not have precooked rice on hand then cook 1.5 cups of rice with just under 3 cups of water and it will equal about 4 cups cooked.

Of course this recipe can easily be made without a recipe which is how I like to cook. Today I decided to measure as I was adding ingredients to the bowl for those of you who like to have more specifics.

I hope you enjoy! Please share your favorite grain and bean combinations if you are willing. Thanks! :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Green Smoothie

Spring is here, hurray! Spring is a time of change, a time to detox, and a time for greens. How fitting that after a long season of warming dense foods one of the only fresh things available at this time (if we just reverted back to the pre-industrial era) are bitter greens.

Bitter greens contain compounds that help the liver with its multitude of functions. If you are curious, the liver is the second largest organ in the human body and performs over 500 different jobs! We need to take care of our livers. We breathe, ingest, and absorb toxic compounds daily. In addition, our bodies produce poisonous compounds during normal biochemical reactions. It is the liver who is responsible for filtering the blood to remove these toxins and excess hormones. The liver then changes the chemical structure of those toxins to make them water soluble so that they can be excreted in the urine.

Did you know that many of the most dangerous toxins are fat soluble? Unless these compounds are detoxified they are more likely to lodge in your cells and remain there causing damage. This is why a diet high in animal products, organic or not, dramatically increases your intake of toxic compounds. (Organic and sustainably raised animal products have less toxic compounds stored in their bodies, but it isn't possible to get away from them completely). By supporting your liver with certain foods, you can detoxify and dramatically increase your energy and quality of life!

Now, what foods support the liver? We are looking for foods that contain nutrients to produce and activate enzymes involved in the various phases of detoxification. So what are they?
  • Sulfur-containing foods such as onions, garlic, and legumes are a good start.
  • Cabbage family vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage are very important.
  • Foods high in water-soluble fiber such as pears, apples, and oatmeal are fairly easy to consume on a regular basis.

  • Certain spices even help such as turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice root. Hmmm, you see why we eat a lot of curry!
  • And lastly, greens, glorious greens! All green foods are particularly important in liver health.

Let's look at a few greens that are available right now. Dandelion greens, sorrel, baby kale, collard greens, and wild mustard. Other greens that I recently bought at the Farmer's Market include arugula, spinach, mizuna, tat soi, and sunflower spouts.
All of these wonderful fresh, raw greens can be blended into a delicious-tasting smoothie! This is such an easy way for you and your children to get a healthy dose of green foods into your daily diet.

Fresh nettles can also be harvested and added to smoothies (you can add them raw - don't need to cook them).

This morning we picked 2 types of kale, collard greens, sorrel, and mint for our breakfast smoothie. Below is the recipe we made today. Everyday is different depending on what is available. Soon the local fruits from last season will be gone and we will change up our smoothies a bit to adjust before this season's fruit begins to come in.

Tip: pears, peaches, apples, and plums freeze quite well for smoothie making. In the fall, core and quarter your fruit and place them on cookie sheets in your freezer. Transfer them to large containers and store in the freezer (I have a large one in our garage for fruit).

Spring Green Smoothie

I use a Vita-Mix for this, but if you have a smaller blender then cut this recipe in half. 

2 ripe pears, cored
2 apples, cored
2 kiwis
1 very large chunk of fresh ginger
2 lemons, juiced

Blend the fruit mixture until smooth and creamy.

Then stuff in as many greens as can fit into the vita-mix and blend again, adding more greens as the previous ones have blended. Use whatever greens please you. I used the entire cutting board full of greens today....sorrel, kale, collards, and mint (pictured above).

Today I poured out the blended fruit into a large bowl and then blended the greens separately with water. I then poured the green mix into the fruit mix and used a large spoon to mix it all together. This way we could make a very large batch of smoothie. Source:

Do you have any other suggestions for spring greens that can be added to a smoothie. Anything you harvest or grow? Let's share so we can all get more ideas!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Curried Carrot Cauliflower Soup

I created this soup today for lunch basically out of a craving for something healing and nourishing, while being warming and spicy all at the same time.

It is fairly easy to make and comes together rather quickly. We served it with cooked quinoa. A very simple lunch. Though Tom's response was, "Wow Al (his nickname for me) this soup is amazing (as he was coming back into the kitchen for seconds), there is so much depth of flavor here, thanks for making this."

All of our children loved it too, as you can see by the empty bowls in the photos below!

We only have a small portion leftover, but I'll bet this soup would freeze well for those of you with smaller families. :)

For those of you who receive this blog by email or in another reader I wanted to let you know that I recently added a section on the left side of the blog entitled "Categories." Here you can find all of the posts organized into categories such as Breakfast, Desserts, Soups and Stews, etc. I hope this will make locating the recipes easier!

Curried Carrot Cauliflower Soup

Since this soup will be pureed you don't have to worry about chopping things nicely and evenly. The smaller you chop the less time it will take to cook and vice versa. I used 3 teaspoons of curry powder today, but you could use a little less like noted below if you prefer a less intense curry flavor. Your soup may end up bitter tasting if you do not peel your carrots. I prefer to take off the peels for pureed soups but leave them on for other recipes (especially anything raw).

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
2 small onions (or 1 large one), chopped
1 to 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped
6 cups water
sea salt, to taste
coconut milk
chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add onions and a dash of salt and cook until the onions are soft and starting to change color. Then add the ginger, garlic, and spices and saute a minute more.

Then add the carrots, cauliflower, and water. Simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes. Then puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve each bowl with a swirl of coconut milk and chopped cilantro for a garnish.


Toddler and Kid-Approved!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vegan, Grain-Free, Sugar-Free Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

You are in for a real treat today! The other night I had an early morning dream of these cupcakes with the recipe clearly spelled out for me. I was in sort of a lucid dream-like state and knew I needed to write it down. But alas, I have been exhausted caring for my children who have the chicken pox (and Tom who apparently did not have them as a child). So I fell back asleep with them playing on the bed. The next time I awoke I had the recipe in the forefront of my now awake mind. I asked my seven year old, Lily, to run and get me a pen and paper. I quickly wrote it down before it disappeared into my daily routine.

I don't know if it was because I was reading Shirley's GFE blog the other night and looking at her delectable chocolate cake or what - but this type of recipe is not the norm for me. I have never made anything completely from almond flour and vegan nonetheless!

But here it was, so I thought I should at least try it out. Since the only almond flour I had was Bob's Red Mill (a rather coarse blanched almond flour) this is what I used. The result was very tasty and brownie-like but too chunky. I knew there were finer ground almond flours out there, so I googled it. Lucy's Kitchen Shop popped up. I had heard of Lucy before because she is local and has written a Specific Carbohydrate Diet cookbook that was displayed next to our cookbook at our local Co-op when it first came out.

Naturally, I called her up to see how soon I could get some of this very finely ground flour. She was lovely to speak with and I paid over the phone and stopped by her house a few hours later to pick it up!

Today I tried them with my new flour and they are oh so delicious! Simple ingredients but the end result is rich and delicious with a full-bodied chocolate flavor. This cupcake is not for the faint at heart! I had planned on posting my Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Bread for Easter but since this recipe came to me I thought I would share this one.

Now, if you are willing, I would love to know what interests you the most as far as gluten-free baking goes. Vegan? Sugar-Free? Grain-Free? Nut-Free? Everything-Free? Just Gluten-Free? Your feedback will help me with the next book (hint hint) I have been working on. It is near completion with 110 new recipes so far. I am fine-tuning everything (well, not this week) and would love to hear from you! There is a "Comment" section you can click on at the bottom of each post where you can leave a little something for me to read. You can also email me but your note may get lost in the sea of emails I receive. (If I have not responded to an email you sent, I am very sorry, just busy, please send it again!)

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

When making these be sure to use a finely ground blanched almond flour like the one mentioned above. I used Dagoba organic cocoa powder which is gluten-free. For the frosting I use Dagoba Chocodrops which are gluten-free and contain no soy lecithin. I use full fat coconut milk for both the frosting and cupcakes. Napa Valley Naturals is the brand of grapeseed oil I use. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

3 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, sea salt, and xanthan gum. Use your fingers to break up any lumps from the cocoa or almond flour.

In a separate small bowl whisk together the remaining wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and whisk together well.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Be careful with them, they are fragile when hot. Source:

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

This frosting also came to me in my dream. It is very easy to make, just be sure not to cook at too high a temperature otherwise the chocolate will burn. Now, if you are not interested in chocolate on top of chocolate then you can use the sugar-free frosting in this post instead.

1/2 cup Dagoba Chocodrops (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a small pot and heat over low heat. Stir continuously until melted and thickened, just about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Spoon over slightly warm or cooled cupcakes starting from the center. Sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired. Do not chill! Source:

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Yellow Split Pea Dal

Well, we have been very busy lately. Hence the two week gap in posting to the blog. Tom has been working for months now round the clock on a research paper entitled "Nutritional Deficiencies in Celiac Disease, is Supplementation Necessary?" He is just about done with it, and I am looking forward to reading it! I will let you know when it is published and provide a link to it.

And here on the home front we have been dealing with the infamous Chicken Pox running through all of four of our children. Our seven year old got it first, two weeks ago, and now our four year old and one of our twin boys has it. The other twin has yet to get it but I imagine we are just around the corner from it. Better to just get it all done at once I guess!

Did you know that Olive Leaf extract helps with chicken pox? I give it to the girls in a capsule and we also break open the capsules and make a paste with water and coconut oil to spread on their skin. It helps to stop the virus from replicating. Just thought I would share this little piece of invaluable information.
On to food now...

The other night I was craving some sort of spicy red lentil dal, but when I went into the pantry to get out the lentils I realized we were out. I had a container of yellow split peas so I thought I would try those out. I just dumped everything into the pot without measuring and out came a fabulous, comforting, spicy dal (Indian stew) that we served over quinoa. So tonight I set off to recreate my "masterpiece" by measuring everything as I added it to the pot.

We served it tonight over cooked quinoa again with Roasted Cauliflower on the side. I tossed the cauliflower with olive oil, sea salt, and cumin seeds. I roasted it in the oven at 425 for about 10 to 15 minutes. Mmm, my 15 month old twins love roasted cauliflower!

Did you know that Cosco now sells organic, gluten-free, pre-washed quinoa? A friend of mine bought 2 bags for me, I think it was $10 per 4 pound bag. This is a great price for quinoa! Tru Roots is the brand name if you are curious.

Hope you enjoy!

Yellow Split Pea Dal

2 teaspoons black or brown mustard seeds
a few tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
few pinches crushed red chili flakes
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed well and drained
6 cups water
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas
chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat a 4 to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and toast until they begin to pop. Quickly add the oil and onion and saute until onion is very soft and beginning to change color, about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add the curry powder, chili flakes, and fresh ginger. Continue to saute for another minute until you kitchen is very fragrant! :)

Then add the split peas and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until peas are soft and creamy. Wait to add the salt until the split peas are fully cooked. Then add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and frozen peas. Continue to cook for a few more minutes or until the frozen peas are cooked. Remove from heat. Serve over cooked quinoa and garnish with chopped cilantro.