Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew Recipe

This black bean stew is warming and comforting, just perfect for a blustery fall day. I like to serve it over cooked quinoa topped with a cilantro and cabbage slaw (recipe to follow). It just feels better to eat something raw with a cooked meal. I always feel my meals are better digested this way.

The great thing about this soup is that it is tomato-free. I love tomatoes and put them in nearly all of my soups and stews, though I know some people need to avoid them. With this recipe I use fresh lime juice to provide the acidity.

Tom made a very large pot of this black bean stew last week. I actually wanted to post it then but didn't even have a second to take a photo and get on the computer. Now that I am back from my trip to San Francisco I had a chance to make it again today and now share it with you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coconut Sugar Apple Crisp

We really are not just about sweets here. Really we're not! But this week it seems we are, huh. Hope some of you enjoyed the White Nectarine Ice Cream I posted last weekend. More main dish recipes to come next week I promise!

Since I will be going out of town for four days I thought it was high time for another delicious giveaway. This awesome giveaway is for 2 pounds of coconut sugar! I used coconut sugar from Essential Living Foods to make this fabulous gluten-free apple crisp.

What is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar is a low glycemic granulated sweetener with a glycemic index of 35. Compare that to honey of 75, agave nectar of 30, pure maple syrup of 54, or sugar (sucrose) of 95. Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar as it is also called is made from the dried sap of the coconut palm blossom. Sounds lovely doesn't it? But what does it taste like?

I find the taste mild with slight molasses undertones, possibly even a little like maple syrup. The flavors marry well with spices, which will be quite perfect for your autumn baking needs. Coconut sugar can be substituted 1 for 1 in baking. Use it where you would use brown sugar, Sucanat, or white sugar. I used it in my apple crisp recipe with absolutely delicious results! I have used it before in cookies and muffins and it works great. I have also used it to proof yeast with great results as well. Those with cane sugar allergies will find this sugar suitable for their needs.

To be entered in this drawing, leave a comment below with your name or initials and a brief note if you would like. It is always fun to hear from you! The giveaway will be open until 11:59pm PST on Monday the 28th of September, 2009. I will announce the winner in my next post. So please keep an eye out for your name sometime early next week! Enter twice for more chances to win. Either add a link to this post on your blog or share this on Facebook or Twitter. Have fun! :) Please note, this drawing is now closed.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Apple Crisp Recipe

I am a big fan of just about any type of cooked apple dessert. This is a great recipe to add to a weeknight meal because of the ease of prep time involved. You also do not need to have much experience in the kitchen to make this. So go ahead and enjoy! My favorite variety of apple to use here is Granny Smith though the Gingergold variety works great too!

3 to 4 baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (⅛-inch thick)
2 to 4 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ½ cups rolled gluten-free oats
½ cup sweet rice flour
½ to ¾ cup coconut sugar*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup melted virgin coconut oil (or butter)*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place all ingredients for the filling into a 7 x 11-inch baking pan. Gently stir together with a large spoon. A good gauge for sufficient fruit is to fill your pan almost to the top with sliced fruit. It will cook down quite a bit. See the photo below.

In a small mixing bowl stir together the oats, rice flour, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Add oil and vanilla and stir together with a fork. Using your hands, crumble the topping evenly over the filling.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the juices are bubbling up and the topping is lightly browned.

*Notes: Use organic brown sugar, Sucanat, or maple sugar in the topping instead of coconut sugar if desired. Sometimes I add 1 to 2 tablespoons more oil to the topping if the mixture seems to need it.
Lemon Juice can be omitted if you are sensitive to citrus.

Italian Plum Variation: Use 4 to 5 cups pitted, halved plums in place of the apples or a combination of the two. Toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons arrowroot; increase liquid sweetener to 4 tablespoons; omit lemon juice. Source: www.nourishingmeals.com

Other recipes where coconut sugar would work:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

White Nectarine Ice Cream (Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free)

As promised, here it is, finally, the White Nectarine Ice Cream. Naturally sweetened and of course gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. The photo doesn't do this recipe justice. The consistency and flavors are simply amazing. Even after 24 hours of freezing, it is still soft and easy to scoop just like traditional ice cream made with cream and sugar.

When I make this, my kids practically eat the whole container in one sitting. I have to cut them off and hide the container in the back of the freezer!

So let's celebrate the end of summer with one last hoorah and eat ice cream! This luscious dairy-free ice cream blends a few natural sweeteners for layer upon layer of deep, rich flavors. The maple syrup I use here is not really to add any extra sweetness. Instead it adds an extra dimension of flavor, especially if you use Grade B maple syrup which is less refined, higher in minerals, and richer in flavor.

You should still be able to find white nectarines at most health food stores and food co-ops, at least that's the case here. If not, try yellow nectarines or peaches. I just bought a bunch of white nectarines for freezing so I can make this recipe as a special treat during the year.

This recipe does require a few more ingredients and does take a little extra time compared to my Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream, but the end result is soooo worth it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Summer Vegetable Kitcheree

Kitcheree is a highly nourishing, hypoallergenic stew made from mung beans and brown rice. It assists in the detoxification process as it is very easy to digest. The spices and summer vegetables create a luscious stew that can be made in just minutes using a pressure cooker, though you don't need one to make this.

I know, I know, summer is nearly gone and Autumn will be upon us soon enough. I am not ready yet. I'm still savoring every last bit of this warm, dappled September sun. Sure, we harvested all of our sugar pie pumpkins and other winter squash today and my daughter was already asking when will I be making pumpkin scones and pumpkin pie, not yet though. Summer is still here, let's just be with it while it lasts.

I'll be sharing the White Nectarine Ice Cream you all keep asking me about in my next post. We'll say farewell to Summer, celebrate the fun times, and eat ice cream. Are you with me? :)

For now, how about using up the summer veggies in this fantastic bean and whole grain stew! This recipe is perfect for those of you who are vegan and following the Elimination Diet, particularly during Phase 2…...and will also work for those of you simply desiring a fast, healthy, and tasty meal. I made this stew and packed it into two large Thermos containers for our recent wild blueberry picking adventures in the mountains. We all enjoyed a bowl of warm stew after the sun had set. There was a certain chill in the air and having a warm meal was just divine! Tastes good + nourishing = blissed out, happy, energetic, and ALIVE!!

Summer Vegetable Kitcheree

Kitcheree is an Indian stew-like meal made from mung beans and brown rice. Spices and vegetables make up the remaining ingredients which can vary widely. Here I used carrots, fresh tomatoes, kale, peas, and cilantro. If you are on the Elimination Diet then this recipe is ideal. *Just keep the tomatoes and chili flakes out until Phase 3. Once nightshades are added back into the diet then have at this recipe in its entirety!

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
pinch or two of crushed red chili flakes*
2 cups brown jasmine or basmati rice, rinsed
2 cups dry mung beans, rinsed
3 to 4 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon ground coriander
8 to 10 cups water
4 cups finely chopped kale or spinach
1 to 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
3 medium tomatoes, chopped*
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt or Herbamare
dollop of chilled coconut milk, for garnish

Heat oil in an 8-quart pot (or pressure cooker). Add ginger, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chili flakes, gently sauté over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop.

Then add the mung beans, rice, carrots, turmeric, and coriander. Stir together a bit so the spices evenly coat the rice and beans. Then add the water (start with 8 cups and add more after the stew is cooked if necessary). Lock the lid into place (if using a pressure cooker) and bring to high pressure, cook for about 10 minutes, then use the quick release method to bring the pressure down. If the stew needs some more time, bring to high pressure again and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes. Add more water if needed.

If you don't have a pressure cooker simply bring the stew to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for about 45 minutes (add more water if needed).

Once the rice and beans are cooked, add in the chopped kale, tomatoes, peas, cilantro, and salt. Stir until just mixed. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for about 5 minutes. The tender vegetables will just barely cook in the hot stew. Add more salt to taste if necessary. Serve hot and enjoy!

Notes: Be sure to cut the carrots into large chunks otherwise they will fall apart in the stew while cooking.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super Antioxidant Smoothie

We've been drinking a lot of these yummy, dark purple smoothies lately. Since fresh fruit is in abundance right now, why not?

For those of you on the elimination diet, this drink is great during the two day green smoothie cleanse. Yes, I know, it's not green, but it still works, especially if you are feeling bored with the color green and need a change of pace. It does actually have a little spinach in it so we could technically call it a green smoothie, hey!

The beautiful purple color in this smoothie comes from Anthocyanins (from Greek: (anthos) = flower + (kyanos) = blue). Anthocyanins are plant chemicals that act as powerful antioxidants, in fact, they are over 40 times more potent that vitamins A and C!

Fruits and vegetables are the staff of life. They contain signaling molecules that tell our genes how to operate. So if we are sitting on the couch all day eating potato chips and drinking soda, our genes respond in a way that sets the stage for disease. But if we are drinking purple (or green) smoothies, thinking wonderful thoughts, enjoying life, and eating whole grains, beans, and other amazing whole foods, our genes say hooray, let's be healthy and vibrant!

Our family has been enjoying the berry picking season here in the Pacific Northwest. Our 1 1/2 year old twins are berry picking pros now! We recently spent some time in the mountains picking wild blueberries and huckleberries. The trip really isn't to pick a lot of berries...mountain berries are slow picking! It is more to enjoy the mountains and gorge on those amazing, antioxidant-rich wild berries (a health insurance plan of sorts).

I have been tossing a small handful of these little gems into our smoothies lately. The girls also like to pack a small container in their lunches. I wouldn't dare cook with them, they are just too precious!
Making smoothies with all of the fruit we have been picking is a great way to use up summer's harvest! We hope you enjoy this smoothie as much as we do! :)

Super Antioxidant Smoothie

I use my Vita-Mix for this but a regular blender would work too, though you may need to adjust for amounts. If you have leftovers, try pouring some into Popsicle molds. My kids love just about anything when it's frozen! Of course they love this smoothie fresh too. This is a great way to introduce greens into your child's diet without overwhelming them with the color "green" in their smoothie. Start with a little spinach and then add more as their tastes adjust. You can even add a few drops of liquid stevia to sweeten if you would like a sweeter flavor. I think the fruit is sweet enough, but you decide. I think the consistency is best if some of the fruit is frozen. I use frozen plums, blackberries, and blueberries.

1 peach, pitted
1 apple, cored (I like the Ginger gold apples)
3 Italian plums or 1 large plum, pitted
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
4 cups packed spinach leaves
2 cups water

Place all ingredients into a powerful blender or Vita-Mix and blend on high until smooth. Store any unused portions in a glass jar and place in the fridge for a near future, cell-protective, antioxidant party! Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

Me and my boys, September 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Figs and Sweet Onions

Every now and then I will bake a whole, organic chicken for dinner. We don't eat much in the way of animal products, though when we do it is usually wild salmon or organic chicken. Since figs and sweet onions are in season right now I am finding more creative ways to use them.

Roasting the figs and onions with the chicken brings out mouth-watering sweet and savory flavors in the juices. The onions practically melt in your mouth after 2 hours of roasting. To serve, slice the chicken and drizzle with the juices, onions, and figs. I serve this over brown rice but cooked quinoa or steamed, mashed winter squash would be equally as delicious. We also like to add a few green olives on the side as a treat. :)

This recipe would also be delicious served with my Zucchini Bake and a green salad with my Everyday Salad Dressing. Or try it with my Whole Grain Flatbread recipe.

Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Figs and Sweet Onions

I am not a gourmet cook by any means, so please don’t think that this recipe is fancy and complicated by the sound of the title. It is super simple and kid-friendly. My kids don’t eat the roasted figs or onions but they love the chicken over the rice. It is delicious even as leftovers! Be sure to serve the chicken with a large, raw green salad to help digest the meat proteins.

1 whole organic chicken (about 4 pounds)
Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet Walla Walla onion, chopped
fresh figs

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rinse chicken under cold running water. Place it into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or other roasting pan. Generously sprinkle with Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the chopped onion inside the cavity of the chicken and around it on the bottom of the pan. Place the figs around the chicken.

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and maple syrup in a small bowl or cup. Pour over the chicken. Place a few fresh rosemary springs on and around the chicken.

Add about ¼ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

Place in the oven and roast at 475 degrees for about 20 minutes to seal in the juices. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue to cook until juices run clear, about another 1 ½ hours.

Happy Cooking! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whole Grain Flatbread (gluten-free, yeast-free, vegan)

I have had a number of emails over the summer for a gluten-free flatbread recipe. I also get emails and requests for yeast-free breads. So here is is, the best of all worlds....yeast-free, gluten-free, rice-free, whole grain goodness, and quick & easy! What more could you ask for. Oh yes, it tastes great too.

I made this again for dinner last night. While it was baking, one of my 20 month old twins was standing next to the oven as I opened it to take a peek. Immediately he started to let me know that he wanted some by his grunting and fussing (they don't talk much yet)! He patiently paced back and forth next to the oven until I pulled it out. As I set it on the counter he pushed a stool over and leaned over the hot pan to take a sniff. "Mmm" he said. "Hot" I said!

I cut into the bread after a few minutes and immediately he grabbed a bit out of my hands and gobbled it up, piping hot. I continued to cut it into squares to serve with dinner. I noticed that he kept grabbing the squares, hopping down off the stool, running away, then coming back for more. Well what I found was that he was hoarding all of the bread and placing it on his plate set at the dining room table! I just had to laugh!

All of my children love the bread as do the other children I had taste test it. My plan is to make this bread often and put it in my daughter's lunchbox along with something to spread on it. Small containers of almond butter and homemade blueberry jam or hummus will be perfect.

You can refer to the post I did on Packing a Healthy School Lunch and download a handy chart while there for more tips and ideas.

Last night after dinner was done and the kids were in bed, I mixed up two more batches of the dry ingredients and put them into sealed, glass containers. It is so much easier to mix everything up while all the ingredients are already out on the counter!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healing Quinoa Cabbage Soup

This very simple, nourishing soup aids in detoxification, though you'd never guess by the taste. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to prepare....perfect if you feel like you are starving during Phase 2 of the Elimination Diet!

Cabbage is a potent detoxifier. It contains a host of phytochemicals, including, isothiocyanates. This group of compounds is a potent inducer of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens. These compounds also stimulate the destruction of human tumor cells.

And you know, we all need a little help with the detoxification process! Just imagine all of the chemicals our bodies need to process on a daily basis (I won't get into it, it's just too depressing sometimes). Let's look at what we can do.

Cabbage family vegetables, which include Brussels Sprouts, kale, collards, and broccoli, all help with detoxification. That's why we like to eat a lot of them. Green Smoothies are a great way to add in raw cabbage, kale, and collards! Brussels Sprouts are great roasted. Broccoli is good just about any old way. I like to lightly sauté it with lots of garlic and then add a little water to the pan and cover. It quickly cooks by steaming, but is still bright green and crisp-tender.

I like to cut the carrots into matchsticks for this soup. Just make sure they are not too small or they will get overcooked. To create the matchsticks, first cut the carrots into diagonal rounds and then cut them lengthwise into thin strips.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Honey Kissed Peach (or Blueberry) Muffins

The frost peaches are in and we have surely picked our share. 130 pounds that is! I have spent the weekend pitting, cutting, freezing, and dehydrating these sweet, juicy little morsels of summer nutrition. A way to remember summer, eat local, reduce our carbon footprint? Or just enjoy fresh!

We have also been picking blueberries, blackberries, Italian plums, apples, pears, and red plums. Over this past weekend I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning processing it all and making jam. Spiced peach jam, cherry-peach jam, blueberry-honey jam, and blueberry-apple-lemon jam. You can make a sugar-free jam by using Pomona's low methoxy pectin. So far I have used grape juice concentrate or honey to sweeten my jams. I also made one with sugar just to see what the difference was in taste and texture.

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But what about vegetables you say? Well, the cabbage in our garden is ready to be harvested and soon I will be making raw sauerkraut. Over the weekend I made a batch of pickles using this recipe . I can't wait to taste them!

The muffins, please the recipe?

The other day as I was browsing Melissa's Gluten Free for Good blog, I noticed a honey sweetened peach muffin that beckoned me to make it. Since I don't use mixes I thought I better come up with my own recipe. Three tries later I offer you a recipe that your gluten-eating friends will enjoy too! You see, since I had so many muffins, I gave them to the neighbors to taste-test. The verdict was in: all folks loved them, gluten-free or not!

Since Melissa's recipe used eggs I thought I would try it out that way too. If you need an egg-free muffin recipe you can use my vegan Rhubarb Muffin recipe and simply replace the rhubarb for peaches or blueberries (or any other summer fruit for that matter...like blackberries).

Honey Kissed Peach (or Blueberry) Muffins

These gluten, dairy-free beauties are packed with nutrition and flavor! I have added a whole cup of almond meal flour which raises the protein and overall nutritional value. I use Bob's Red Mill brand for the almond meal flour. I also use sorghum flour which bakes up nice and light. I use unsweetened hemp milk for the milk, though I am sure cow or goat milk would work as well. I used the full 2 cups of berries in all of my batches which worked well, though if your are short on fruit, the lesser amount will work as well. For this particular recipe, I have found that using paper muffin cups works well for taking the hot muffins out of the pan.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 cup almond meal flour (not blanched almond flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:
2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup milk (non-dairy)
1/3 cup melted virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 to 2 cups diced peaches or blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl or 4-cup glass measure, add the eggs. Whisk. Then add the remaining wet ingredients. Whisk well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together well. Fold in the fruit. Use a 1/3 cup measure to pour batter into muffin cups. Fill to the top!

Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and let cool on a wire rack. They will hold together well after they are cooled, but they are still great fresh out of the oven! Enjoy!

Some Helpful Tips for Picking Fruit:

Every year our family picks pounds and pounds of fruit. The trick is having the time to deal with it all once it ripens. It may be work now, but in the dead of winter you will be relaxing and enjoying a freshly baked scone spread with your very own homemade jam.

- Don't be shy, go up to your neighbor's house and ask to pick fruit. Most folks are happy to have the help, otherwise most of it will end up on the ground rotting. Other places to look are vacant lots, houses for sale or for rent, and houses where college students live. There is plenty of fruit to go around! But please remember to always ask before you pick!

- Keep empty boxes in your car just in case you spot a tree needing picking on your travels about town. Small buckets works well for berries.

- Make sure you store your fruit in large flat boxes, one or two layers deep, after you pick it. Otherwise the bottom fruit will get crushed and start to rot, possibly spoiling the whole box. I usually remove the very ripe fruit to eat right away and then transfer the fruit into additional boxes. You can pick up empty fruit boxes from your local health food store if need be.

- It helps to have an extra refrigerator and/or freezer in your garage. I put a bunch of fruit in the fridge before it ripens to be able to enjoy for weeks. Just take a little out at a time and let it ripen on your kitchen counter.

- For peaches, I simply cut them in half, remove the pit, and freeze them in layers in large containers. They are great in green smoothies throughout the year. To dehydrate, I peel, pit, and cut into thick slices. After they are done I store them in large glass jars in the pantry.

- For blueberries, I pour some into a large Pyrex bowl and fill it with water. All of the stems and leaves, and other gunk will float to the top. You can just pour off this stuff and give them another rinse. Shake off the water and place into large containers to freeze.

- For blackberries, we just freeze them as they are, no rinsing.

- For Italian Plums, I cut them in half, pit them, and freeze them in large containers. For dehydrating I cut them in half or quarters, pit them, and dehydrate. Store in glass jars in your pantry when done.

- For apples, just make applesauce.....or apple plum sauce!

- We like to use the pears in green smoothies and also freeze them. Frozen, they make a great addition to your smoothies when out of season.

- Giveaway little boxes of fruit to your friends! This is always fun, especially when you have 4 or more different types of fruit to add to the box.

Do you have any ways to preserve the harvest? Traditions? Recipes? I'd love to hear. :)