[I should have just given up on the sticky notes, because I want to try Every. Single. Recipe. in this book!!]
Okay, so if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you know that I am decidedly not the type of gal to attend a rave. (Read: too old. And even when I wasn’t too old, I was too health conscious. And, well, even when I wasn’t too old or too health conscious, I was too nerdy.). So when I say, “rave,” you probably know I’m referring to the verb rather than the noun; as in, “I simply can’t rave enough about this spectacular new cookbook that has quickly assumed a place among my all-time favorites!” (And believe me, with over 200 cookbooks cramming my shelves at the moment, that is saying a lot).
Full disclosure: as with most reviews I write here on DDD, this book was provided free of charge by Christy’s publishers and I was not required to write anything positive about it (or anything at all, for that matter). You may know Christy Morgan as “The Blissful Chef,” whose blog,ebooks and live cooking classes have been offering up healthy, delicious recipes to eager masses for several years now. Christy also chronicles her culinary adventures (from LA to Texas and elsewhere), on her Facebook page.
Before we begin, however, I feel I must be entirely honest and admit that I was already somewhat biased in favor of the book even before receiving it. You see, I had done a review of one of her previous ebooks, Cooking with the Seasons: Summer Edition, last year, so I already knew I had loved those recipes and suspected I’d like these as well. Perhaps even more important, I was aware that Christy’s focus on traditional plant-based diets (vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, low fat and raw foods) jibed well with the ACD and I’d probably find lots of recipes I could eat within my dietary restrictions, with a minimum of adjustments to boot.
Well, let me tell you, this book is aptly titled. I was literally blissed out as I leafed through this gorgeous tome, which provides not only a full explanation of Christy’s approach to food and eating; a complete list of pantry basics and tools plus various chef’s techniques (now you’ll know just how to chiffonade–perfectly!); over 175 recipes organized by seasons (as well as “anytime”); but also a full resources section at the back and a metric conversion table. The full-color photos offer mouth-watering illustrations of many of the recipes, and the book’s pages are printed on thick, sturdy paper, an important detail when you plan to subject your book to repeated, regular usage (as I most definitely do!).
I literally couldn’t decide what to make first, there were so many recipes that appealed to me–and that I was permitted to have on the ACD! Should I try the Orange-Pumpkin-Ginger French Toast? Or perhaps the Asian Millet and Quinoa Pilaf? Maybe the Blissful Two-Bean Harvest Chili? Eventually, I settled on Kale Salad with Curry-Coconut Sauce, simply because I already had all the ingredients on hand.
[Damn these dark winter evenings. . . this photo totally does not do the dish justice!]
I’m going to preface this next comment by saying that the HH is a very picky omnivore. In other words, he has no trouble whatsoever eating hocks, haunches, brains, kidneys, hearts–even intestines of animals, but will balk at “veggie” foods I serve, such as grated daikon radish (“What is that? Anemic carrot?“), chia seeds (“Looks like fish droppings“) or spirulina (“Isn’t that the water you cleaned your brush in for your watercolor painting?”). Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about eating a salad with arame (seaweed) as a major player.
Well, we both swooned over this salad. When I first read the ingredient list, I was a bit concerned about the quantities in the sauce–it seemed like SO much spice–but mixed with the still-moist kale and arame, it was perfect. A spicy, creamy, slightly nutty coating on firm, toothsome kale with light marine influences. I simply loved it, and the HH even requested it again!
Next up was the Broccoli Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing. If you’re familiar with that once-ubiquitous broccoli salad from buffets a few years back, this dish will evoke memories of those times. . .but vastly improved. The piquant dijon is balanced by the sweet (I used stevia instead of the suggested maple syrup); the crispy, green and fresh with a creamy sauce and crunch of radishes. An aesthetically pleasing as well as flavorful mix of ingredients.
We also thoroughly enjoyed the Wasabi Sweet Potato Salad, which had been beckoning me from the moment I first spied the recipe. I adore sweet potatoes, of course, and have had them spiced in sweet potato fries, but never with something quite so hot as wasabi. Again, I wondered at the proportions of the spice mix in the ingredients, but should have trusted Christy. The sum worked out to be greater than the parts, and I loved this salad as well (I had run out of the called-for cucumbers, so subbed radish instead; still worked wonderfully). I could have eaten the entire batch by myself!
[I swear, it's not tomato sauce! But even tastier.]
Next up was another ingenious, fantastic recipe: the Mama Mia Magnifico Sauce, ideal for those who are either allergic to tomatoes or can’t eat nightshade vegetables (eg, those with arthritis). I didn’t tell the HH that this sauce was tomato-free, and he had absolutely no idea. When I finally let the cat out of the bag, he was genuinely surprised and commented that this was “as good as any tomato-based pasta sauce we’ve ever had.” I concur. I loved it on pasta, of course, but also used it the next day on a grain-free pizza crust, and later, defrosted, with crumbled frozen tofu for a sloppy joe lunch. You’ll be amazed by this one!
And I just couldn’t resist one more. . . while I don’t eat many sandwiches (or much bread at all, for that matter), I have always made an exception for Reubens, one of the most satisfying combinations of protein, complex carbs and creamy dressing I can imagine in existence. I couldn’t resist giving Christy’s healthified version a try. The marinated tempeh and tangy Russian-style dressing complemented each other marvelously, and the use of avocado in lieu of standard melted cheese was a brilliant way to incorporate the smooth creaminess you’d expect without the dairy or any artificial ingredients. The HH actually ate two of these (as open-faced sandwiches). With leftovers the next day, I enjoyed mine à la raw, wrapped in a crisp collard leaf, like so:
I literally can’t wait to cook through this entire book (counting the days until I can use maple syrup again. . . ), there are so many appealing recipes in it.
If you’re looking for a cookbook filled with mouth watering, healthy and flavorful plant-based recipes that are also impressive to the eye, I’d recommend Blissful Bitesas your first choice. I love that Christy focuses on whole foods ingredients, low fat and low sweeteners (and when she does use sweeteners, they’re all natural, like maple syrup or brown rice syrup). If you’re on a restricted diet (as I am), this book will likely still offer up a plethora of recipes you can enjoy.
Now, go out and find your Bliss(ful Bites)! (PS. Just checked–if you order through amazon.com, you can still receive it in time for Christmas with 2-day shipping!).
And Happy Hanukkah to everyone who’s celebrating tonight!
This is a healthy plant-based take on salads you may have had at a salad bar or at potlucks. It is easy to make and will be a crowd-pleaser at get-togethers. It’s also a great way to use leftover beans. if you throw in some cooked quinoa, it makes a one-pot meal perfect to take to work for lunch.
1 large crown broccoli, cut into florets
1 large carrot, grated
1 cup (240 ml) cooked chickpeas, or 1 can (15 oz/500 ml) drained and rinsed
Welcome to Week 3 of A Gluten Free Holiday 2011, the holiday event created by Amy and shared each week by yours truly (and four others–check below for all the participating blogs)! This week’s topic, Gifts of Good Taste, is hosted by Alta of Tasty Eats at Home. Hop on over to see what edible gifts Alta has to share, or to link up your own favorite gifts-of-food recipes (and be sure to enter the giveaway while you’re there!).
I thought this would be a perfect week to share some of my own favorite recipes on the blog that would also make fantastic homemade–and edible–gifts.
Before we get to the food, though, we’ve got another cookbook giveaway!
In my younger years, I made almost all of my gifts myself (edible or otherwise). Of course, the fact that I was a student living in penury (I won’t say I was a “starving” student, because with my love of dessert, that was never even a vague possibility) was one factor contributing to my motivation for making everything from scratch (unlike today, when the motivation is trying to remain free of the dreaded candida symptoms).
More importantly, though, I always believed that homemade gifts demonstrated how much you cared about someone, giving to them both your time and your thoughtfulness. Since time is at a premium for all of us these days, we have to choose wisely–both what we’ll make, and to whom we’ll be giving it!
For those very special people on your lists, you might want to mix up one of the following. (NOTE: Some of these recipes are made with spelt and/or higher glycemic sweeteners such as sucanat or maple syrup. Recipes with an asterisk * fall into that category; the rest are gluten free and lower glycemic.)
Now, since Canadian Thanksgiving occurred a month ago, many of you have already encountered my own list of favorite Thanksgiving recipes that I posted here (and please do feel free to use them for your American Thanksgiving, too!). Personally, I’m not averse to celebrating twice. So let’s get to it!
I was chatting yesterday with some online buddies about Canadian-vs-American Thanksgiving (I’d say the tacit consensus was that Americans make more of a fuss about it) and I admitted that, in the home of my childhood, we never actually celebrated T-Day. My memory about it is fuzzy (who am I kidding? My memory about everything is fuzzy these days), but I think the first traditional Thanksgiving celebration I attended was at the home of my first boyfriend’s mum.
I was madly in love with Spaghetti Ears and adored his mother, an Irishwoman who had been widowed at a young age and lived on her own in a little bungalow across town from the university. She was a pixieish woman, perpertually smiling, her dancing blue eyes flitting about the dinner table as she regaled us with stories of her Irish relatives and friends. Her cheeks were permanently flushed pink and her bobbed gray hair, normally hugging her head like a shawl, would swing back and forth as she reached across the table to pass bread or pat my hand. She also made the most delicious curried beef I had ever tasted (okay, so it was the only curried beef I had ever tasted). And I still possess–and use–the hand-knit tea cozy she gave me for Christmas almost 30 years ago, its red and green woolen stripes just as vibrant today as they were back then. I was honored to be invited to her holiday celebration!
Although I loved the idea behind the Thanksgiving feast (and the feast itself) from the first time I experienced it, the cranberry sauce was one aspect I just couldn’t rally behind. I always found it far too sweet for my taste; in fact, canned cranberry sauce is the reason I thought I didn’t like cranberries for many years. Last year, I decided to combine the crimson berries with some stewed apples for a stellar Cranberry Apple Compote, which I was happy to eat alongside nut roast or on toast, and the HH was delighted to enjoy with his turkey. This year, I opted for something a little different:
Today’s recipe comes courtesy of our organic produce delivery, which arrives like clockwork every week ,whether or not I’ve finished up the previous week’s fruits and veggies. As has happened in the past, I left some plums in their paper bag to languish on the counter, unnoticed until it was almost too late to save them.
I decided to combine the soft, squishy plums with their hardier, tarter cousins, and cooked up a quick Plumberry Compote. It offered up the perfect mix of tangy, sweet, and spreadable, with a deep magenta hue and gemlike brilliance.
[How I freeze my plumberry sauce. . . no, the color in the photo isn't off--this pic is frozen apricot spread.]
I hope you give this unconventional cranberry sauce a try. The flavors work beautifully in tandem to offer up a thick sauce that is nearly sweet enough even on its own, without added stevia. It’s also tasty enough to use as jam on toast–something traditional cranberry sauce can’t quite match, which means that leftovers will actually get used! It’s quickly become a favorite condiment here, as it can be used by the HH on his Thanksgiving turkey (that is, if he had had turkey this year), can be spread on some savory nut roast, can double as a chutney with a nice Indian curry, or can be used in lieu of maple syrup on a stack of pancakes or a breakfast bake (as in the photo above).
Yep–it’s time to forge a new tradition, I say!
And don’t forget about the fabulous giveaway this week!
Kim is giving away a copy of Laura Russell’s Gluten Free Asian Kitchen. Just head over to her blog to enter! Here’s a list of the other bloggers who are participating in the event as well:
And my post on Dateless Date Squares from last week, click here.
[A new favorite--breakfast bake topped with Plumberry Sauce and chocolate almond butter.]
Plumberry Sauce or Jam (Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and Beyond)
This sauce is so easy to make, it’s almost embarassing to write it out as a recipe. Freeze any leftovers in silicone muffin tins, then pop out and store in plastic bags in the freezer, for up to 3 months.
6-7 small, ripe black plums, pitted (leave the skins on)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
In a small food processor or blender, purée the plums. Transfer to a medium pot and add the remaining ingredients except stevia.
Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness is reached and most of the cranberries have popped (if you have a splatter screen, this is a good time to use it. Otherwise, place a lid on the pot with just a crack open to let the steam escape. That way, you’ll avoid speckling your stovetop and any other surface within sight).
Once the desired thickness is achieved, add the stevia and stir well. Pour into a clean glass jar or container and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Alternately, freeze in silicone muffin cups, then pop out of the cups and keep frozen in a plastic bag or freezer container for up to 3 months. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).
Ah, nothing like a short work week, is there? Hope those of you who celebrated on Monday had a great Thanksgiving! (And hope everyone else had a good weekend, short as it was!).
I can’t wait to tell you all about the phenomenal Thanksgiving Vegan Cassoulet I made for The HH and me, or the pillowy, indulgent Black Bottom Almond Mousse Pie for dessert, but those will have to wait–I frittered away slept in thoroughly enjoyed the stupendous weather and extra time with family and friends this past long weekend, which means those blog posts are still to be written. I do, however, have this “taste-it-and-you’ll-be-instantly-addicted,” “so-easy-it’s-almost-criminal,” Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread for you today.
Let me preface this recipe by saying that I have the utmost respect for Weight Watchers. I am not joking on this one (I know, a hundred punch lines just flew through your mind, didn’t they?), as I am (a) most likely one of Weight Watchers’ most loyal former customers ever; (just insert “go on a diet” for “quit smoking” in the old joke: “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it a dozen times”–and you have my history with Weight Watchers); and (b) I believe they really do help people to lose and manage their weight, primarily by teaching portion control more than anything else.*
Well, one of my friends recently embarked on her eleventh or twelfth round with the “Points” system, so I must have had WW on the brain when I serendipitously came across a recipe for Weight Watchers Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese via a link somewhere else (forget where, now).
The original recipe was lauded for having only “two points.” I quickly determined that I could easily make a much healthier (read: no highly processed/fake ingredients, such as whey protein concentrate, guar gum, carob bean gum, sorbic acid as a preservative, etc; and, of course, no dairy) version based on my own lower-fat “cream cheese” and using the original recipe as a flavor guideline.
Apart from soaking the cashews, this recipe was ridiculously quick and easy to make (and soaking the cashews isn’t what I’d call difficult, of course; but you do need 4-6 hours of advance warning). The result was one smooth, silky-spreadable creamy “cheese” boasting a light kiss of cinnamon and other autum spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice. It paired beautifully with my grain-free scones for breakfast this morning (that recipe coming up soon).
Although I generally don’t worry about nutritional breakdowns (if I’m eating whole foods, healthy ingredients, I know it will all balance out), but in this case, I was curious. Below is how mine stacked up against theirs (note that there was no choice of “coconut sugar” on the Nutrition Data page, where I calculated these figures. As a result, I used “brown sugar” for both recipes, which means that my version is actually even more nutrient-dense than it appears here).
Which would you rather eat?
WW: 10; Mine: 12 (2 Tbsp/30 ml each)
Calories per serving:
WW: 61; Mine: 62. 5
Total Fat per serving:
WW: 3.5 g; Mine: 3.2 g
Saturated Fat per serving:
WW: 2.1 g; Mine: 0.6 g
Cholesterol per serving:
WW: 12.1 mg; Mine: 0 mg
Sodium per serving:
WW: 106.7 mg; Mine: 2.1 mg
Fiber per serving:
WW: 0.6 g: Mine: 1.3 g
Sugars per serving:
WW: 4.4 g; Mine: 3.1 g
Protein per serving:
WW: 1.9 g; Mine: 2.1 g
Vitamin A per serving:
WW: 40.6% (of daily requirement); Mine: 3.2%
WW: 4.4% (of daily requirement); Mine: 1.4%
WW: 1.5% (of daily requirement); Mine: 4.6%
My take on it: of course, I expected the calcium percentage to be larger in the actual dairy cheese (even though that form of calcium is not necessarily well absorbed); but the huge percentage of vitamin A threw me a bit. Then I reread the cheese ingredients and saw that the “light” cream cheese contained added “Vitamin A palmitate.” Eureka! On the other hand, this whole-foods version wins out in virtually every other category, from iron (wowza!) to fiber (wowza again!) to protein.
Hey, you know what? With this luscious spread on hand, heading back to work after a three-day long weekend turned out to be not so bad, after all.
* Please note that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own, highly personal, views, and I am in no way suggesting that you do or do not join Weight Watchers or am I trying to persuade anyone in one direction or another about the company. I will say, however, that no one in her/his right mind should ever repeat my own, previous, behavior and consume 4 packages of Weight Watchers Chocolate Mousse mix in for dinner within an hour.
And don’t forget. . . You can still vote for my blog in the Shape Magazine “Best Blog” Awards! If you’d like to see a gluten-free, vegan and healthy, whole-foods blog in first place–DDD is the only choice with all those qualities! Thanks so much to everyone for your support!
Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond
This “cream cheese” is perfect spread on biscuits, scones, toast or rice cakes. It would also be heavenly atop a stack of spiced pumpkin or apple pancakes.
1 cup (155 gram) raw cashews, soaked in room temperature water for 4-6 hours and drained
1/2 cup (120 ml) packed pumpkin purée (pumpkin only)
1/2 cup (120 ml) well cooked or canned white kidney or navy beans, rinsed well and drained
6 Tbsp (90 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg (or less, to taste)
1/4 tsp (1 m) allspice
1 tsp (5 ml) Chinese 5 -Spice powder (or use another 1 tsp/5 ml cinnamon)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia extract, to your taste
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender (such as a VitaMix) and blend until silky smooth, scraping down sides or using the wand to push ingredients toward the blades as necessary. (To make this in a regular blender, first process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, then transfer in small batches to a blender and blend until silky. Place each batch in a medium bowl as it’s blended, then stir them all together to ensure a uniform texture).
Use immediately (it will be soft, but spreadable) or refrigerate for several hours to firm up slightly. Makes about 2-1/2 cups (600 ml).
Have you been keeping up with Vegan MoFo? Now that I've backed out of the festivities because I knew I couldn't keep up--well, here I am, posting virtually every day in October thus far! With our Ontario elections today (go out and vote, people!) and our Thanksgiving coming up (stay home and eat, people!), I'm pretty sure this bombarding-you-with-a-blog-post-a-day foolishness will come to an end asap (though don't forget to come back tonight for this week's Wellness Weekend, of course!)
In any case, I couldn't let the weekend arrive without offering my picks for Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes for the big weekend. My own feast menu is almost crystallized, but sadly, I won't get the recipes posted until after the holiday--but hey, you can always use those for the next celebration (and believe me, you will want to save that dessert recipe for just that purpose. Swoon.).
And to all my Canadian brethren, hope you have a fantastic long weekend. And if you've got a favorite Thanksgiving recipe to share, please leave a link in the comments section!
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
[NOTE: Not all recipes below are anti-candida friendly and/or gluten free. Where I've added "A," it indicates ACD-friendly; "GF" indicates gluten free. Other recipes contain spelt or barley flour, or other natural sweeteners (maple syrup, Sucanat, etc.). You can replace Sucanat with coconut sugar to render many of these ACD-friendly. ]
In other news. . . my Meaty Vegan Lasagna recipe is one of eleven featured today on The Huffington Post Canada–yahoo! Hope you’ll check it out (and click on the “Rate It!” button to the right of the recipe to vote for me!)
“Happy Thanksgiving! To us that just means more time to play with our humans! (And more treat, of course!).”
Today I’m delighted to be a featured guest blogger on Sunny’s lovable blog, And Love It, Too. Her theme this month is lunchbox lunches, and I’ve contributed one of my favorites, raw collard wraps. They’re not only sugar free and gluten-free, but grain-free, too! They make a perfect lunch for anyone on the anti-candida diet, at any stage of the diet (and of course they’re great for anyone who simply wants to eat healthier!).
For the recipe and a little info about the wraps, check out my post on her blog, here.
And be sure to come back later today for another raw recipe–this time, dessert!
[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's quick and easy--no fuss. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
Last week, I was whipping up a favorite walnut-chocolate nut butter when it hit me: why not make a bean-based “butter,” too? Beans could add more fiber and drastically lower the fat content. I looked around and discovered that I’d been preceded in my quest for a bean-based chocolate spread by Celine (of course), Hannah, Stef, and even Oprah! But calling it “chocolate hummus” just didn’t seem right to me. . . so Chocolate Bean Butter, it is!
I blended this up with some raw cacao and posted the delectable result on Facebook:
Then this morning, I decided to try it out with regular cocoa powder for a more intensely chocolate flavor. And wow–this stuff blew me away! The spread is incredibly rich and impossibly smooth and light. I’m happy to eat it right from the container with a spoon.
Made with white kidney or navy beans, the flavor is milder than a chickpea-based spread. This would be perfect as a filler for a back-to-school sandwich or atop your favorite pancake, muffin, or biscuit. Protein, minerals, fiber and chocolatey flavonoids all in one silky, irresistible “butter.”
Bring on more beans, I say!
Chocolate Bean Butter (ACD Stage 3 and beyond, with Stage 1 variation)
I prefer canned beans in this butter, as they are usually softer and easier to blend than my homecooked ones. But if yours turn out really soft when cooked from dried, feel free to go with those instead. If you use the raw cacao here, you can omit the coconut sugar and replace it with more stevia; the spread will be bitter without the coconut sugar if you use regular cocoa, though.
1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) white kidney or navy beans, rinsed and drained, or 2 cups (480 ml) well-cooked and drained beans
5 Tbsp (75 ml) dark unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut sugar (use with cocoa powder), or replace with more stevia (with the raw cacao option)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) stevia powder or 40-50 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid
up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) water or unsweetened almond milk, if needed
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until perfectly smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Once you think it’s smooth, process for another minute. Scrape into a container or jar and store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml).
Variation for ACD Stage One: Use carob instead of cocoa and sweeten entirely with stevia or yacon syrup.
["You know what they say about an apple a day, right, Mum?"]
Okay. . . now that you’ve all stopped laughing at the rudimentary blog badge I created above (thanks to all on Facebook who recommended Picnik. . . talk about a steep learning curve), it’s time to introduce the event!
With the SOS on hiatus until September, though, I realized that I’ll really miss having a recipe sharing event! So to tide us all over until then, I’m introducing a new weekly event on my blog: Summer Wellness Weekends! It’s my own little locale where I’ll invite you all to share recipes that you made during the previous week, ones that contain ingredients known to support good health (and of course you’re invited to participate even if it’s not summer where you are right now!).
As you probably know if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, I promote a sugar-free, gluten-free, whole foods, vegan diet. But as a Holistic Nutritionist, I know that what I eat isn’t always the healthiest option for everyone else.
So here’s what you need to know to participate (PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES CAREFULLY BEFORE LINKING UP):
The event will occur once a week, starting on Thursday evenings and running until Monday evenings throughout the summer.
Simply link up a recipe you made (and posted about) within the past week that contains health-supporting ingredients (see list below). Use the Linky Tool at the bottom of the page.
Please link the post with your recipe, NOT your blog’s home page.
You may submit more than one recipe, but please follow the guidelines for each one individually.
Please be sure to mention this event and include a link back to this post so that others can find all the recipes posted!
Feel free to use the blog badge, above (or see the left sidebar of this page–if you need the html code, let me know and I’ll send it to you). Many thanks to Adrienne of Whole New Mom for setting up the badge code for me!
As always, I hate to remove links, but will do so if they don’t comply with the guidelines.
What your recipe CAN contain:
Any good-for-you, whole foods, especially those with antioxidant properties or “functional foods” (ie, offering naturally medicinal or health-promoting qualities–such as garlic, coconut oil, all vegetables, fruits, herbs, etc.)–but any fresh, real food is welcome!
Natural sweeteners (coconut sugar, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, stevia, Sucanat, rapadura, coconut nectar, yacon syrup, etc.)
Vegan ingredients (even if you’re not vegan, OF COURSE you can still play along! You’ll be surprised at how many foods are naturally vegan; and if not, there are many subs you can use for eggs, milk or butter–include vegan options and we’re good to go!).
Note that this is NOT AN ACD-ONLY EVENT! Any real food ingredients that are sugarfree and vegan are more than welcome–so use that maple syrup, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, miso, etc! I’m just looking for healthy, whole foods recipes.
What your recipe cannot contain:
White flour, white sugar, or any highly refined, highly processed ingredients
Anything almost entirely artificial (ie, most boxed mixes, fast food, unnaturally colored cereals or other foods, etc.)
Animal products (meat, chicken, fish or seafood, or their by-products, gelatin, eggs, dairy, butter or honey)
During the summer, it’s so easy to create healthy dishes with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables! And even if it’s not summer where you are, there are still loads of foods that could be considered good for your health and contain natural ingredients.
I can’t wait to see what y’all mix up!
“Sounds great, Mum! So, can I eat that apple now?”
Welcome back, Americans! Hope you had a great July 4th weekend. And hello again, rest of the world!
As promised last time, today I’m going to share the main course that the HH and I enjoyed a few nights ago. Because I know that many of you are only today back at work, and perhaps even more of you are still recovering from a long weekend filled with carousing and celebrating and much imbibing, I’ll keep it short and sweet and won’t burden you with my typical 1500 word blog post (I’m just trying to be considerate of your recovering brain cells, truly).
I made this dish on Saturday evening, in honor of Canada Day (well, I can’t eat maple syrup or butter tarts and I can’t drink beer and I was too lazy to make this tortiere. . . and we grow soybeans in Canada, don’t we? And the HH and I are both Canadian, aren’t we? And we ate it during the Canada Day weekend, didn’t we? Okay, so that was the best I could do).
When the HH heard I was making tofu “cutlets,” he demurred rather quickly. “I’ll make myself some real food–steak!” was his reaction. But then he checked the freezer and found there were no steaks to be had. What ensued was a conversation we have fairly regularly in the house:
HH (rummaging in freezer): Hey, we’re out of steak [or "coffee" or "bread," or whatever]!
Ricki (not looking up from her cookbook): Really? Was it on the list?
HH (a slight whine in his voice): List?! We should just have it in the house! You should just buy it.
Ricki (as if speaking to a small child): I don’t keep track of your meat [or coffee, or bread, or whatever]. I don’t eat it and I don’t cook it. So it’s really up to you to let me know when you need more. If you want, you can run out right now and get some. I’ll hold off cooking the tofu [or kale salad, or beans, or whatever] until you get back.
HH (frowning): Naw, forget it. I’ll just eat what you’re having.
And so, dear readers, that is how the HH’s extreme indolence afforded me the opportunity to sneak some healthier food into his diet.
I found the recipe in an old issue of Vegetarian Times, in an article about non-meat cutlets. Nestled beside “Braised Seitan Cutlets in Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce” and “Tempeh Cutlets Provençal” was a recipe for “Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro Pesto.” Apart from the marinating time (which was overnight), this recipe was incredibly easy to make. While the original called for baking the tofu, I decided to cook it only partially in the oven before grilling for the final few minutes of cooking time. The cutlets were incredibly flavorful on their own, with a slightly caramelized, slightly crispy exterior and a deep Asian sensibility. After sampling the pesto, I worried that it would be too sour (from the rice vinegar), but after tasting it atop the tofu, I was smitten with the combination of the two together. So was the HH, as it turned out.
“How is it?” I asked, tentatively.
“Not too bad,” he replied, a slight pout still on his face. He speared another bite-sized piece. “Actually, it’s very good. The pesto really makes it,” he said, beginning to brighten.
I continued to savor my own (very delicious) cutlet, glancing occasionally across at the HH as he scooped up raw kale salad and tofu. In no time, his plate was clean, and he was smiling.
“That was great!” he beamed, setting his fork and knife down on the empty plate. “You should definitely make this again!”
A pretty great Canada Day present, wouldn’t you say?
Glazed Tofu Cutlets with Cilantro-Ginger Pesto (suitable for the ACD, all stages)*
I’m always looking for novel ways with tofu that are both quick and simple. Although the cutlets have to be marinated overnight, once cooked, they’re a perfect main dish, sandwich filling, or takealong lunch. I loved the cutlets on their own, but combined with the pesto, the resulting gustatory synergy elevates both to a level greater than either one on its own.
For the cutlets:
1 16-oz (454 g) package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable stock or broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) Bragg’s aminos, wheat-free tamari, or soy sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) rice vinegar (use apple cider for ACD Stage 1),divided
Make the tofu: the night before you wish to serve it, wrap the block of tofu in a clean kitchen towel, or place between a few layers of clean folded paper towels. Place the tofu (still in or beteen the towels) on a plate; cover with another plate. Place something heavy on the top plate (I used two large cans of tomatoes) and leave the tofu to press for at least 2 hours. Unwrap the tofu and cut widthwise (parallel to the shorter ends) into 8 equal slices.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade: Whisk together the broth, Bragg’s, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vinegar, agave and 1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil in a small casserole or 8 x8 inch (20 cm) square pan. Once the tofu is sliced, place it in a single layer in the marinade; turn the slices once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning pieces at least once while marinating.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
Remove the tofu from the marinade and place in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Brush the tops with some of the excess marinade. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cutlets begin to brown. Turn them over, brush the tops once again, and bake another 20 minutes, brushing the tops occasionally with any excess marinade. A few minutes before they’re fully browned, you may remove them from the oven and grill quickly on a grilltop to achieve the classic crosshatch, but this isn’t necessary; if you don’t grill the cutlets, continue to bake until the tops are browned and edges are just becoming crispy.
While the tofu bakes, make the pesto: In a food processor (I used my MiniPrep for this), pulse the cilantro leaves, ginger and cashews until finely minced. Scrape down the sides and add the remaining 1 Tbsp (15 ml) vinegar, 1 tsp (5 ml) sesame oil, and salt. Continue to blend until a smooth (if necessary, add a teaspoon or two/5-10 ml of water, taking care not to add too much!).
To serve, place two cutlets on a plate and top with about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of the pesto. Makes 4 servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to 4 days.
[A favorite raw breakfast: chocolate almond spread on apple slices.]
Remember the days when there was only one kind of nut butter–and nobody was allergic to it?
I think I ate peanut butter almost every day until my late 30s. As a kid, I slathered it on saltines alongside chocolate milk during cartoon-drenched Saturday mornings; I ate it in sandwiches for lunch throughout my teen years; once I acquired my own kitchen in which to experiment in my 20s, I packed it into celery hollows for snacks, baked it in cookies, muffins or the occasional Rice Krispie square; later, I ate it straight out of the jar for an immediate PMS pick-me-up, or after a late night when I was too tired to cook.
When I hit my 30s and moved to Toronto, I experienced an almond butter epiphany. For a time, I gave up the previously favored legume. In the past decade, I’ve branched out to hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashew and “mystery” butters (ie, a combination of several different nuts). Nut butter is definitely a staple in the DDD household, and one of my favorite foods.
These days, it seems I’m once again battling the mercurial ups and downs of my scale (ever since baked goods–albeit ACD-friendly–have reappeared on my menus). With summer thoroughly upon us (whoopee! yahoo! yay! Danks Gott! Hallelujah! Bravo! Yeeeeee-haw!) and the desire for raw fruits and vegetables in full force, I thought I’d take advantage and amp up my intake of raw produce, thereby simultaneously reducing my intake of grains and flours as a way to get back on track. This raw almond butter offered a key resource in the battle.
While I do enjoy almond butter made from toasted almonds, it’s never been a favorite base for chocolate nut butter; I’ve always thought that, no matter how much chocolate is added, the toasted almond flavor always predominates. It’s sort of like another musician trying to sing a duet with Celine Dion–whether it’s R. Kelly, Andrea Bocelli or even Barbra Streisand–all you hear is that wacky Chanteuse. On the other hand, whenever I’ve sampled raw almond butter, I found the taste rather insipid and bland (sort of like listening to Michael Bublé).
In the end, it was the nondescript flavor that rendered raw almond butter an ideal vehicle for raw cacao in this recipe. When the two are blended together, the cacao really shines, revealing all its complex flavors from fruity notes of strawberry to caramel undertones and its own subtle honeyed sweetness. Yes, my friends, this is chocolate at its finest and in full flavor! I also used vanilla bean powder for the first time and was delighted with how it adds its own luscious fragrance and character to the mix.
Overall, this raw nut butter is easy to make (though it does take a bit of time) and is almost dessert-like in its chocolate intensity (in fact, once refrigerated, it firms up enough that the texture resminded me of fudge). Not so sweet that it requires toning down with something savory, it’s great directly on a spoon or spread on any (alimentary) partner you fancy. Drizzled on apple slices is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a decadent-tasting, still healthy and raw breakfast.
Who knows? I may revert to the classic peanut butter one day. But for now, Saturday mornings were made for Raw Chocolate Almond Butter.
And don’t forget. . .
Giveaways Gone Wild III continues! Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a copy of my friend Amy Green’s new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free! For a review, recipe, and all the details, see this post.
A fantastic spread atop toast, crackers, apple slices or whatever your fancy (raw sweet potato rounds worked really well for me). To make the spread suitable for ACD Stage One, simply sub carob powder for the cacao.
2 cups (340 g) raw natural almonds, with skin
3 Tbsp (45 ml) raw cacao powder (or cocoa, at your own risk–it is more bitter than cacao; or use carob for ACD Stage 1)
pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 ml) whole vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (see instructions)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
70-80 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (I use NuNaturals)–about 1-1/4 tsp (6 ml)
Place the almonds, cacao powder, salt and vanilla bean powder in the bowl of a food processor (if using liquid vanilla extract, don’t add it yet, but save it to add with the stevia instead). Process until the mixture looks like a powder, with no pieces of almond visible.
Add the coconut oil and stevia (and liquid vanilla, if using) and continue to process until a ball forms, which will then roll around for a bit before breaking up into a paste; continue to process for another 3-5 minutes, scraping sides occasionally, until the butter is almost liquid and very smooth. (This may require some patience; if you just can’t wait, you’ll still enjoy a somewhat grainier nut butter.).
Pour into a clean jar or container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will firm up in the fridge; for a softer, pourable nut butter, allow to come to room temperature before using. Makes about 1-1/4 cups (300 ml). Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
*Note: to make the recipe ACD-Stage 1 friendly, simply sub carob powder for the cacao or cocoa. No, it won’t be chocolate any more, but it will still taste yummy.
This post is linked up to Sugar Free Sundays, where you’ll find a collection of recipes without refined sugar.