Can you all believe it’s SNOWING here in Toronto today? Anyone who knows me (or even anyone who’s met me for more than 30 seconds, at any point between October and April) knows how much I hate winter. As soon as the tiniest hint of spring arrives, I’m ready to throw out the old and usher in the new: I pack up the boots and scarves; I fold up the heavy blankets; I even enjoy a bit of spring cleaning.
We’re far off from true spring right now, but that didn’t stand in the way of some recent spring cleaning. The other day, I spied a can of black beans that had been waiting patiently for someone to use them—and these vegan Black Bean Burgers sprang to mind. I was absolutely delighted with the final results. Not too spicy, firm and crispy on the outside, with a great mix of black beans and veggies. And no oil added!
I know you’ll love these, too. To check out the recipe, head over to the Attune Foods blog. And don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know what you think!
In the meantime, I hope the weather is better where you are.
[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).]
Some people love surprises. Me, I’m not a big fan of the unexpected. Well, let me rephrase that: I’m not a big fan of the unexpected when I’m the one being surprised. If someone else, on the other hand, is treated to an unforeseen birthday party, or engagement ring, or earwig, well, then, I just lurve surprises!
Case in point: some of you will recall my snowbound trail-walk with the Girls a couple of weeks ago, which I reported on Facebook. It was the afternoon following (yet another) snowstorm**, and I’d spent the requisite 27 minutes bundling myself in layers as protection from the cold: two pairs of socks; long underwear topped with thick corduroy pants; cotton undershirt under cotton turtleneck, under fleece-lined sweater. On top of that, I added a pair of thick rubber galoshes, a padded ski jacket, a pair of thin gloves underneath a pair of thick gloves, a fleece hat topped with earmuffs for good measure, and my hood. Oh, and let’s not forget my sunglasses, huge contraptions that I wear over my regular glasses (really).
Looking like some bizarre Alaskan zombie, I somehow managed to ease myself out of the car and waddle my way along the trail, which was still blanketed in pristine snow that had clearly not been trod by anyone else that day.
The Girls always love these walks, so I’m happy to provide them. Besides, it’s kind of fun to watch Chaser scampering and leaping, bunny-like, through the snow whenever she’s off-leash. On that day, however, she was doing something different: not just leaping and prancing, but diving face-first into the snow, burying her entire head in it, over and over, at 2-foot (3/4-meter) intervals. Then she’d surface, nose covered in powder, sniffing the air as if a steak were sizzling nearby. What was up with that? I couldn’t help but laugh as I recalled a documentary the HH had been watching a few nights earlier about foxes, who thrust their snouts into the snow in order to seize their prey. How funny, I thought. Tee hee hee. . .
And then, it happened. Chaser dove head-first into the snow and came up with. . . a mouse! A LIVE MOUSE.
IN. HER. MOUTH!!
What followed could have come straight out of a National Lampoon vacation movie. I started shrieking like a banshee: “Drop it! Drop it! DROP ITTTTTT!!!!” as I sprinted (well, more like shuffled, zombie-like) through the snow toward her, arms flailing like a flag in a hurricane. And, to her credit, she did drop it.
The mouse stumbled across the path (by this time a bit wobbly), aiming to scoot back into its burrow. By now Elsie had figured out something was afoot, and came charging; she too, grabbed the tiny rodent in her muzzle and held it aloft for me to admire, the mouse’s feet and tail flapping uncontrollably. And again, my horrified shrieking, “DROP IT!!!” as I leapt to grab The Girls’ collars and prevent any further nose-poking of the mouse across the snow. By now my voice was pretty hoarse and my face was pretty darned red.
But as I threw myself forward, I lost my footing and crashed down–thwack!–rather ungracefully onto the snow (luckily, the depth of the snow, combined with my natural padding “back there,” saved me from injury). Before I could regain my composure, the mouse went berserk, zig-zagging across my legs. All I can say is that I’m glad there was no one else around to see what ensued as I struggled to get up, legs jerking like loose wires in an electrical storm, still shrieking (shrieking even more!), still clinging for dear life to the Girls’ collars so they couldn’t dive in for Round Two.
Finally, with all three of us panting and our hearts racing, I steadied myself, once again upright and watched as the mouse ambled back to safety under the blanket of snow. Frankly, I am still not sure which one of us was more traumatized by the experience.
So as you can see, I don’t react too well to unexpected, er, “visitors.” Needless to say, we won’t be back to that particular trail as long as the snow remains on the ground.
Now, when I receive an unexpected surprise from food, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. This spread (or dip) came about, for instance, as a serendiptious discovery because we had run out of fresh produce. What with all the book edits, I’ve had not time for grocery shopping. (I know, boo hoo for me. Okay, cue violins). The only green ingredients left in the fridge were a few limp stems of fresh cilantro, half a cucumber from our CSA, half a lime and that neglected chunk of the HH’s brie cheese, cowering way at the back. I decided I’d create something based on all the nonperishable ingredients in the cupboard that I’ve been hoarding saving for a day just such as that one. I rooted around to find a can of black beans and some almond butter. I could work with that!
A quick whir in the food processor and my slightly unconventional black bean dip was made. We ate it with leftover corn chips from our previous nacho night along with the remnants of the cucumber. The following day (after a trip to the grocery store), I smeared it on a raw collard leaf, added grated carrot and sprouts, and had a fabulous raw collard wrap. If you’re looking for a high-protein snack or light meal, this is a great recipe.
And–don’t let it surprise you–you may just discover that you love it.
** I’ve officially dubbed this season “The Winter that Refused To Leave.” I mean, really, Mother Nature? This isn’t funny any more.
DDD READERS: It May Be Time To Update Your Subscription!
I know that many of you, like me, read your favorite blogs via Google Reader. Well, if that’s how you keep up with DDD, be warned that Reader is closing down as of July 1, 2013! (I know–boo hoo).
I am always so grateful for your visits and your comments on the blog and I don’t want you to lose touch! To ensure that you continue to receive notices whenever I add a new blog post–or to get updates on the new cookbook or other happenings here at DDD–you can easily subscribe via email. That way, you won’t miss a thing! Just click here to receive every new DDD post right in your Inbox.
Thanks so much for reading. (And if any of you know of other good readers to use instead, please share in the comments!).
Oil-free Black Bean Spread or Dip
This is a super-quick twist on classic black bean dip, with more protein than the original. If you like a spicy dip, add about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) minced jalapeno.
1 can (15 ounces or 400 ml) black beans, well rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lime
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin
1/4 cup (60 ml) cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water, or more, to taste
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add more water until desired consistency is reached (you’ll need more for a dip vs. a spread). Makes about 1-1/2 cups/360 ml. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
[No, you're not in a time warp or losing your mind. . . this is, indeed, a repeat of an earlier post from January of this year, that was lost when my blog was hacked. Luckily for me, two intrepid readers, Jayme and Cristina, printed it out and were able to send it to me (thank you so much to both of you!). So here it is, re-transcribed in full, for your reading pleasure. Sadly, they weren't able to save all your wonderful comments from the original. So please do comment again--or if you missed it the first time!]
While I’m not big on “year in review” posts on the blog and I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions (though I do set goals every year), I thought it was time for another anti-candida diet update for those of you who’ve been following along this journey with me since March, 2009–and for those of you who are newer to the blog, here’s why I eat the way I do. (Oh, and if you’re here just for the recipe, feel free to skip on down to the bottom of the post and enjoy some anti-candida friendly Nachos Supreme).
FIRST, AN ANTI-CANDIDA UPDATE:
I haven’t shared much about the ACD lately. For many of us, just embarking on the diet is a Herculean task, the first three or so months so challenging that you want to vent and share and question and gain some sort of catharsis just by putting all your frustrations, fears and fury out there. For me, the beginning of the diet was like hearing from an old nemesis who’d moved away for a while and then suddenly thunders back into town, harassing you with phone calls every day and asking for all kinds of favors. You dread hearing from that “friend” again. No wonder I’ve avoided the topic.
Still, now that I’m heading into four years on the diet, I feel as if I’ve established a certain level of stability and imagine that this is the way I will live for the rest of my life. This kind of balance is, in most ways, reassuring and allows me to go about my daily business without having to pay attention to every morsel that passes my lips, and without having to worry too much that I’ll have a reaction to something I eat (though that still does happen, too–see below).
I’ve developed a strategy to deal with outbreaks and, for the most part, can anticipate them. But there are still ongoing challenges for me, in any case, that continue to this day. For those of you who’ve just started and feel as if there’s no end in sight, for those of you who may also be maintaining, or for those of you who are just curious, here’s an update, and what I’ve learned after almost 13 total years of experience with this diet.
[Faux Chocolate for when you can't have the real thing. . . or even when you can.]
1. Hold Steady on NO sugar, fungus, vinegar (except ACV), active yeast.
Over time, it gets easier to allow some formerly taboo ingredients back into your diet. I will never (NEVER) eat refined sugar again; however, my repertoire of natural sweeteners has grown from stevia and yacon syrup in Stage 1 to stevia, yacon, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, lucuma, and the (very occasional) agave. I still don’t consume maple syrup (sob) or any kind of cane sugar (take note, those of you on “sugar-free” diets: evaporated cane juice is just a fancy name for “sugar.”)
Also still prohibited from my culinary repertoire are mushrooms of all kinds (though I did take a tincture for sinus issues that contained some mushroom extracts, with no ill effects); any alcohol (double sob, especially at this time of year–Oh, Segura, how I missed thee on New Year’s Eve! Dear Glenlivet, how I wish you could warm my heart this winter; and take note, G&Ts, summers will never be the same without you), or regular vinegar (I do use apple cider vinegar, often referred to as ACV, since it’s known to have anti-fungal properties, among other myriad health benefits.)
I did re-introduce some previously banned foods once I entered Stage 3 and maintenance, a couple of years ago. These include whole-grain gluten-free flours (though I’ve come to realize that too much flour or too many flour-based foods don’t work for me), plus some lower glycemic fruits that I missed terribly and eat only on occasion (to wit, pomegranate, or goji berries in place of raisins and prunes in place of dates, plus a few others).
2. Address Slip-Ups as Quickly as Possible.
Just because I don’t eat sugar doesn’t mean I’ve beaten my sugar addiction. When I make desserts and consume them too often (which for me means once a day), I find that I crave them, begin to eat more, and eventually succumb to a “binge” (my definition of a binge these days is 3 or 4 cookies, say, nothing like the entire tubs of Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting I used to eat, straight from the can, with a butter knife).
I still subscribe to Stacy Halprin’s philosophy, mentioned earlier on this blog: if you do slip up, do not berate yourself. Simply move to the next meal, or next snack, and start over as if it never happened. Repeat until the behavior sticks. Apparently it takes 6-8 tries for a smokers to permanently quit smoking; when I learned to drive (at the ripe old age of 33!), it took me more than a year–driving every day–before that habit became natural to me and I no longer had to think actively about it. I don’t see why overriding poor eating habits and conquering sweets cravings should be any different. In other words, I’m willing to keep trying 50 times, or 500 times, to prevail with healthy eating that sticks permanently. Nine-five percent of the time, I’m successful.
Right now, my weight is “up” again. I tend to fluctuate up to 20 pounds in one direction or another (kids, do not try this at home). If I am consistent in my healthy eating and exercise, it eventually balances out again (though my naturopath is now suspecting adrenal fatigue–for which I’m currently being treated–and hidden, uncovered allergies in this case, for which I’ll follow an elimination diet eventually).
For me personally, certain carbs (mostly grains) seem to be the culprit. However, my diet also relies on fat-laden foods like nuts and seeds for much of my protein (and sweet cravings), so I am sure that my weight is connected to how much of those I consume as well; not to mention that I’m not heading into the stage of “mature woman” (though not getting those senior discounts just yet–darn!), which can cause weight gain. And, as many of you have helpfully pointed out in the comments, addressing long-standing emotional issues is essential to permanently banish excess weight. Despite many years of therapy (and continued visits), those emotional issues still hang on. But I’m working on it! If I go up a few pounds (or ten), I try not to freak out too much, which only causes stress (and then stress eating. . . a vicious cycle).
4. Pick Your Battles, in Food as in Life.
Even though I know that some foods might trigger cravings, I am not willing to forfeit all aspects of a “normal” life at this point being on the diet. My hubby and I still eat in restaurants on occasion (and that “occasion” has decreased dramatically from 3-4 times a week in our first year together, down to maybe once a month at present).
Similarly, when we’re on vacation, I do my best to ensure that the meals are ACD-compliant, but if I have some vinegar in a salad dressing, or even (gasp!) dates in a raw dessert, I do not worry about it. I find those aren’t he events that trigger overeating in any case; when I’m on holiday, I don’t have access to my own kitchen, so I won’t go bake up a brownie and scarf down three pieces of it one afternoon. For me, the triggers are much more here at home.
[Still a favorite snack and an absolute must for me when I want a "safe" sweet.]
5. When Necessary, Return to Square One.
Unlike weight-loss diets, the ACD is kind of a diet for life, and you don’t get to reincorporate most of the foods you gave up once you’ve attained your “goal.” It does afford the opportunity, on maintenance, to enjoy so many of the delicious, even decadent, desserts that I love so much; but with the ACD, I find that (for me, at least), it’s a good idea to return occasionally to the first stage of the diet, sort of like a detox or the way you can “revert to default settings” on your computer. I revisit Stage One when I feel I’ve veered too far from the strictures of anti-candida living (say, like when I’ve been baking 4 or 5 times a day over several months when testing for a new cookbook). At those times, I try to par down the diet and consume only the foods that helped to reverse the symptoms in the first place: clean veggies; fresh fruits, sparingly; nuts and seeds; less starchy legumes and beans; some grains.
When I’m attempting to reset my metabolism this way, I forfeit any baked goods and most flours as well, going grain-free as much as possible (I don’t worry about the occasional bowl of steel-cut oats or rice with Indian food, for instance, but I don’t’ mix up muffins or cakes or pancakes for breakfast during those times). After a couple of weeks on this regimen, I usually feel recharged and revitalized, ready to resume my regular ACD activities.
My goal this winter is to incorporate more fresh juices and raw foods into my winter diet. I love fresh juice–even 100% vegetable varieties–and raw foods have always been a favorite. The challenge, I think, will be to steer clear of sweeter desserts, even as I bake them up daily for the next month to complete a manuscript. [Edit, February 2013: manuscript completed--baking done for a while!]
So how will that affect what I post here on the blog? Expect to see more savory dishes and more grain-free fare (including desserts). I was delighted with your response to my detox juice post a while back and hope to post more juice recipes as well. And, of course, I want to hear from you and what you’d like to see more of: Stage One foods? Later foods? Stevia-based desserts? More main dishes? Let me know and I’ll go for it–I am always up for a recipe challenge!
If you’re on an anti-candida diet, or, like me, have been on it for a while, I’d love to hear how this compares to your experience. What are the greatest challenges for you on the diet? What has helped you to stay the course? Please share your experiences, tips and tricks, or anything else candida-related that you’d like in the comments! (Even if you’re not following an anti-candida diet, feel free to share your experiences around consuming sugar and how it has affected you as well).
And now–today’s recipe (congratulations if you’ve made it this far!). This is a dish The HH and I have whenever I’m stumped for what to make for dinner, or if we simply feel like eating something that tastes a little bit “naughty.” These are nachos fully loaded with all the toppers that we love and that make for totally indulgent “junk food.” This dish hits all the key spots for gustatory variety and satisfaction: crunchy (corn chips), salty (ditto), smooth and creamy (cheese sauce), briney (olives), hot and fiery (jalapenos), saucy (salsa), meaty (meat crumbles). Feel free to substitute your own favorite cheese sauce or even grated Daiya if it means speeding up the prep time.
This is the anti-candida diet equivalent of fast food. If you can tolerate corn, this makes a spectacular quick dinner–or plate to share with friends on a casual Saturday evening.
Toppings of choice: sliced olives, sliced onion, sliced jalapenos, chopped sweet bell peppers
Preheat oven to 400F (200 C). Line a pie plate or pan with corn chips. Prepare the cheesy sauce and set aside.
Top the chips with a layer of beans, a layer of meaty crumbles, and a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with toppings of choice and bake for 25-35 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and everything is heated through. Dig in and enjoy. Makes 4 dinner servings or 8 snack servings.
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken; stir for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and use on nachos. May also be used on pasta or as a dip for raw veggies.
Some things just never change. As a result, there are certain aspects of our lives upon which we all tend to rely.
For instance, you expect that Wile E. Coyote will tumble down the mountainside (an anvil in hot pursuit), only to re-emerge the following week without so much as a scratch–and start all over again. You can reliably presume that if you wear a white shirt on a first date, you will likely spill red wine on it. You depend on David Letterman to deliver a Top Ten list (and for there to be ten items on it). When you look in the mirror, you assume you will see your own reflection staring back at you (and not your mother’s, as I have been seeing lately). And if you’re Elsie and Chaser, you count on Mum to feed you at precisely 5:00 PM, or else feel justified executing the “border collie stare” and butting her thigh with your cold, wet nose. ["Yeah, so, and what of it, Mum? A gal's gotta eat."]. You just rely on certain things to always be. . . well, reliable.
One of the most reliable aspects of winter is that I will hate itmy whingeing against the cold and sleetRicki dreaming of the tropics comfort food. And one of the most common forms of comfort food in winter is shepherd’s pie.
[Almost makes it worthwhile to endure another winter. . . . almost.]
Interestingly enough, while my mom wasn’t a great cook, she did, on occasion, tackle this multi-layered dinner casserole. When it came to ground beef in general, her usual plated meal was grey hamburgers with a side of insipid mashed potatoes (eat up, everyone!). The burgers were always the color of lead, with a thick, tough crust on the exterior and dry, nubby bits inside; eating one felt like taking a big bite of a thick packing box filled with styrofoam chips.
But then, perhaps once a year, she’d go wild and make the shepherd’s pie. Her version involved cooking half a bag of frozen peas and carrots along with the meat, then plopping the mixture in the bottom of a square pan and topping the whole mess with homemade mashed potatoes (which were reliable as well: always full of lumps). As you can imagine, I wasn’t a fan of shepherd’s pie.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been a fan of the dish even if my mother had been a fabulous cook. Authentic shepherd’s pie, I learned with great dismay, contained ground lamb (because, well, they were what the shepherds were shepherding). Personally, I’d much rather see shepherds train their sheep to do this:
["Oh, sure, Mum, those sheep may look impressive, but don't forget that it's actually the dogs who did all the real work. I think they deserve some food for that."]
Once I left home for university, I completely forgot about shepherd’s pie. It wasn’t until my 30s here in Toronto that I encountered a stellar vegan version of the dish at a restaurant called le Commensal that I fell in love. Their shepherd’s pie featured buckwheat (one of my favorite “grains”) and a topping made with fluffy sweet potato mash. (These days, it seems, the place is no longer a vegan establishment and has added some “flexitarian” options to their menus. . . so who knows? Maybe they’re serving lamb-based sheperd’s pie after all now.)
When I began to crave comfort food, I decided to create my own riff on that buckwheat pie and soup it up a bit with lentils for additional protein. Having tried both sweet potato and regular potato, I decided to go with the regular mash as a more traditional topping. The result is a sturdy, full-flavored–dare I say, meaty--pie that will fill your belly with flavor and comfort. Because after all, when you eat shepherd’s pie, you want to be able to count on it to be just what you expect, right? Some things never change. . . .
Although it takes a bit of advance preparation, this pie comes together very easily. It also makes a large casserole, so you’ll have leftovers to freeze for another day. If you’re not a fan of buckwheat, simply double the amount of lentils.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Spray a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square pan or casserole dish with non-stick spray, or grease with coconut oil.
Make the filling: Bring the 2 cups/480ml vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the lentils. Cover, lower heat to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and add the buckwheat, then replace the cover and simmer for another 20-25 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and both the lentils and buckwheat are soft. (If necessary, add a bit more liquid and continue to cook until done).
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frypan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 7-10 minutes. Add the walnuts, celery, carrots and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the walnuts are fragrant and the onions are browned, another 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the remaining ingredients including the lentil-buckwheat mixture and stir well to combine.
Turn the filling into the pan and smooth the top. Set aside until the potatoes are ready.
While the filling cooks, prepare the potatoes: Place the potatoes and water in a large pot and bring to boil over high heat. Boil until the potatoes are quite tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and mash with the 1/2 cup (120 ml) broth and coconut oil; add salt to taste.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the filling in the pan. You can simply smooth the top, or run the tines of a fork through it in swirls in a decorative manner. Sprinkle with more paprika, if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are beginning to brown and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
[Have you been over to yesterday's post to enter the giveaway yet? Heather is giving away a full series of her online cooking classes--that's 24 classes!! Plus bonus materials galore. Go ahead and enter--but then come back here for this fantastic recipe!]
[These burgers were so good, I actually tried to learn PicMonkey for them! What do y'all think--too basic? Yea or Nay to the superimposed caption?]
Although Toronto is renowned as a multicultural city, one of the few culinary chasms is Mexican food. Oh, sure, there are Mexican restaurants here and there, but they are far outnumbered by Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Malaysian, Thai, Hungarian, Ethiopian, Fusion, and about 47 other cuisines I can’t think of at the moment. Then again, since Toronto is pretty much across the continent (about 3700 kilometers or 2300 miles) from Mexico, the scarcity makes some sense.
When The HH and I were first dating, we seemed to land at one particular Mexican place called Hernando’s Hideaway fairly often. Dim, cavernous, and located below street level, it’s one of those “great place to meet a paramour” dive-cum-bars that’s frequented by univesity students, coworkers on Thursday evening, out-of-towners, and. . . .the HH and me. It was the type of establishment where the quality of the food is often masked by the poor visibility, like a stop sign that suddenly seems to jump out at you if you drive in a snowstorm.
The HH and I, however, loved it there. We’d sit in a just-wiped vinyl booth beside the dark, unreflective walnut paneled walls, gazing at each other with newfound infatuation as we shared fully loaded nachos with guacamole, refried beans smothered in cheese, burritos, carafes of intensely dark red wine (ah! I remember the days of wine. . . ), and whatever else struck our fancy. Despite the dim surroundings (perhaps it was the starry look in our eyes that illuminated the tabletop), we’d savor every mouthful. Of course, none of it was authentic–bordering on fast-food, in fact–and we’d likely turn our noses up at the fare today. But back then, it served to ignite a love of Tex Mex cuisine (and got our own romance moving along in the process).
[My burger, with dijon, sauerkraut, sprouts and sriracha on a gluten-free bun.]
I don’t usually post Mexican dishes precisely because I have so little experience in that area, but these burgers are a bit of a fusion dish that evoked a pleasing taste of the southwest right here in my wintery Toronto kitchen. This is one of three burgers that Heather offers in her cooking classes (a full series of which I am giving away here!). These burgers were incredibly easy and quick to prepare, and I loved that they were baked rather than fried (though Heather does offer instructions for pan-frying, too).
The hardest part was waiting for them to cook, as the aroma of browning onion and chili wafted through the kitchen. Once done, they provided a perfect sandwich filling with a crispy exterior and moist, robust inside. Not overly spicy, they were nonetheless incredibly flavorful. I enjoyed mine in a gluten free bun from Aidan’s; the HH used a wholegrain bun and added a sprinkling of cheese over his sauerkraut and sprouts.
As we munched away happily, the conversation went something like this:
Ricki: How do you like it?
HH: Oh these are pretty good [chew chew]. Actually, these are really tasty [chomp, chomp]. You know, these are delicious! I really like these [masticate, masticate]. You should make these again! [Gets up to serve himself another--bun, cheese, sprouts and all.]
Well, whenever I hear the triumvirate of “good, tasty, delicious” from the otherwise reticent HH, I know I’ve got a winner on my hands!
Whether or not you’ve liked Tex Mex food in the past, I hope you give these burgers a try. They’re a perfect quick dinner that may just ignite a little spark of North American-Mexican fusion love in you, too.
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
reprinted with permission from Healthy Eating Starts Here
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (14 oz can, or 1/2 cup dried beans fully cooked)
1-2 tsp chili powder1/4 tsp sea salt or Herbamere, to taste
The beans must be fully cooked before you begin. Soak them overnight (8 hours) in lots of water, then drain and rinse. Add enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and gently boil them with NO salt. You can add a bit of kombu (seaweed) to the cooking water while they boil for improved digestibility. Black beans will take about 1-2 hours to cook. If you’re using canned beans, just drain and rinse them. If you can find a can that doesn’t use salt, that’s ideal. The burgers will have better texture if you let the beans dry out a bit in a strainer.
You can either pulse the vegetables and parsley in a food processor, then add the beans to lightly pulse, or mash the beans and stir in the grated/chopped veggies if you don’t have a food processor. A blender won’t work because it needs liquid to puree.
Stir in the nut/seed butter and spices (or pulse in the food processor) to combine, then the rolled oats. You may want to add more nut/seed butter for stickiness or rolled oats for texture and dryness. Taste for seasoning, and add salt to bring the flavors together.
Form the mix into burger shapes. Lay them on a baking sheet (ideally lined with parchment paper so they don’t stick), and bake for 30-40 minutes at 300-350 degrees F.
You can also fry the burgers to cook them more quickly. Add a bit of oil to the pan and cook about 10 minutes on the first side. Flip, and cook another 5-7 minutes.
[Note: I am an affiliate for these cooking classes. If you purchase the classes by clicking through a link on this blog, I will receive a small commission, which will go back into maintaining this site.]
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[This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with cookbook authors, bloggers, women entrepreneurs and home chefs whose work I enjoy and admire. If you've got someone in mind you'd like me to approach for an interview, please shoot me an email at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom, or leave a comment here and let me know! And now, enjoy today's installment!]
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I actually met Lisa many years ago when I first attended the annual Vegetarian Food Festival here in Toronto. Lisa was the cheery, energetic volunteer with the always-smiling face who greeted many of the guests and helped us find our way as we wandered among the many stalls and vendor booths at the Fair (and, in more recent years, has become a presenter in partnership with Nicole, drawing a packed house for their recipe demos). Later, I began to read Lisa’s blog, Vegan Culinary Crusade. When I held a giveaway for baked goods from Sweet Freedom just before the book was published, it turned out that Lisa was the winner (you can read her review of the goodies here). From there, an email friendship grew and like her other loyal readers, I’ve followed along as Lisa has developed her blog, studied to become a raw food chef, and trekked around the world sharing her joyful veganism.
I was lucky enough to meet Nicole a couple of years back when Angela threw a birthday party and we were both invited. I was delighted to learn that she worked as a writer and editor (a dream job of mine!). As a food blogger and recipe creator, Nicole also holds certification in plant-based nutrition through Cornell University and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, so she’s adept at making those fabulous and great-tasting recipes good for you, too. Her blog, A Dash of Compassion, highlights delicious, healthy, vegan recipes, which she refers to as her own brand of “baketivism.”
Now, Lisa and Nicole have collaborated to bring you Tiny Treats, and entire ebook of 25 delicious whole-food vegan sweet treats, many of them raw (though they do also offer baked options)–no special equipment required (just a food processor or blender). The recipes I’ve tried so far have been incredible, and the photos in this ebook are also stunning (and each recipe has its own full-color photo)–every page is a mini celebration of healthy, beautiful, delicious food! And perhaps most importantly, the women are donating a portion of their proceeds to the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, in order to sponsor the elephants there. Every purchase will help them reach their goal!
Today I’m sharing the recipe for Cinnamon Bun Granola, a crispy, chewy, satisfying and just-sweet-enough treat (note that I adapted the recipe for the ACD, with no problems at all; in fact, most of the recipes would be easily adaptable by subbing coconut nectar for maple syrup).
I asked Lisa and Nicole a few questions about their baking, blogs, and ebook. Once you’re done reading, be sure to enter the giveaway, below!
1. You obviously work well together as recipe creators and cookbook designers—the recipes are all delectable and the photos are stunning. How did this collaboration come about?
We met at a vegan cookbook launch party a few years ago. It didn’t take long to discover that we’re culinary soul mates. We share a food philosophy, a curiosity about creative cuisine, and a love of learning new techniques. Over the years, we’ve collaborated on blog challenges, co-presented food demos and travelled to vegan events. With our shared love of sweet treats, the ebook became the perfect platform for us to tackle the recipes we’ve been dreaming about for years. We have different palates and different sources of inspiration, which helped to develop a diverse collection of recipes that all shared the same basic qualities: whole food ingredients and amazing flavours.
2. What did you enjoy most about working together?
We delight in each other’s creations. We’re inspired by one another’s enthusiasm and when things don’t work out there is always someone else ready to retest the sauce or taste the next batch.
3. Your ebook features many raw treats. How much of your own diet is raw? Any reason you eat this way?
The ebook recipes focus on whole-food ingredients, so they don’t call for any processed flours or sugars. However, we do use a few ingredients that do not fit into the standard definition of raw cuisine, such as maple syrup. We love the wonderful flavours that nut flours and date pastes impart but we also believe in flexibility. Even the directions in the book are not exclusively raw. Most kitchens don’t have a dehydrator so we made sure to include oven-baking instructions for any of our recipes that need a little heat.
4. Why are all the treats so small?
We both believe that a healthful diet is built around plenty of vegetables and fruit. The desserts in this book fit well into that plan. These desserts are nutrient dense and therefore surprisingly satisfying. They are the perfect size to enjoy at the end of a meal or as an in-between snack. But if you like a heartier portion, go ahead and cut those brownies into 10 rather than 20.
5. You donate a portion of the proceeds to the elephant sanctuary in Thailand. What was the motivation for this choice?
Last year, Lisa spent a week volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand. It was a life-altering experience. The elephants at the park have all been rescued from situations where they have been abused at the hands of humans and yet they treat all of the guests of the park with warmth and affection. It is powerful to learn forgiveness from an elephant. Although we wish we could help to end the suffering of all animals, we felt that this would be a personal place to share the proceeds.
6. What’s your personal favorite raw food, either in the ebook or not?
Lisa:The raw food I tend to eat the most is kale. I’m a big fan of leafy greens and seem to find a way to enjoy them at every meal. When it comes to desserts I look to the combination of apples, cinnamon and ginger—making a raw apple crisp is my ideal treat.
Nicole:Just like Lisa, I gravitate toward greens (usually in salad form). On the sweeter side, I love the fresh, tangy flavour of lemon—the Lemon Lava Cakes recipe in the ebook is one of my favourites.
7. For someone who isn’t used to cooking this way, what would be the best starter recipe from the book?
The Cinnamon Bun Granola recipe would be a fantastic introduction to Tiny Treats—oats, buckwheat, walnuts and coconut are coated with spices and a thick, date-and-maple-flavoured sauce and then dehydrated (or baked) until dry. The Pecan Date Cookies are also super simple but incredibly delicious and nutrient-dense.
Having made the granola myself, I can only agree! Both The HH and I loved it. And it’s really simple to make! I’m reprinting with permission here (with my own changes in square brackets).
[Lisa and Nicole say:] If we ever open a vegan B&B, this will be on each breakfast-in-bed tray. We would keep the guestrooms full by serving it up differently each day–in a layered parfait glass with sliced apples and almond yogurt, or on top of our favorite banana soft serve, or in special tea cup with a substantial splash of coconut milk. The options are endless.
2 cups (215g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (95g) raw buckwheat groats
1/2 cup (65g) raw walnuts, chopped [I used almonds]
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (40g) raisins [I used goji berries]
1 tbsp (15mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5mL) sea salt
1/4 tsp (1.25mL) fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (120mL) pure maple syrup [I used coconut nectar and 20 drops stevia]
1/4 cup (50g) Medjool dates, pitted [I used prunes]
2 tbsp (30mL) melted coconut oil
2 tbsp (30mL) water
2 tsp (10mL) pure vanilla extra
1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, buckwheat, walnuts, shredded coconut, raisins, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
2. Using a blender, blend the maple syrup, dates, coconut oil, water and vanilla extract into a smooth, thick sauce.
3. Pour the sauce into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until all the dry ingredients are well coated.
4. Transfer the granola to a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray and spread into a thin (about 1/2 inch thick), even layer. Dehydrate for 8 to 10 hours at 115F.
4. Preheat the oven to 300F. Transfer the mixture to a baking tray lined with parchment paper and spread into a thin, even layer. Bake for 25 minutes, gently stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. Allow to cool completely before gently breaking into clusters. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or at room temperature.
Makes about 6 cups of granola.
Suitable for [with the changes in square brackets]:ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, vegan, lower glycemic.
AND NOW, FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
To enter, please leave a comment letting me know which sweet treat YOU love and would love to see in a whole-foods, refined sugar-free cookbook.
I’m going to keep this one simple: to enter the giveaway, just click the “comment” option in the Rafflecopter box, below, THEN leave your comment in the comments section. That’s it! Giveaway ends Friday, November 2nd at midnight. I’ll choose a winner at random and the name will be announced below. If I don’t hear from the winner within 3 days, I’ll choose another winner.
If you’d like, you can also tweet the giveaway, mention it on Facebook, Pin this page, etc. Any and all mentions (which will ultimately help support the elephant sanctuary) would be welcome!
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here in the DDD household, what with mega-marking for my classes at the college, a whirlwind trip to Montreal (more on that anon), the regular array of doctor’s appointments, a quick visit for a dental emergency (my molar is fine now), evening visits to the Vet emergency clinic (Chaser is fine now), weekday visits from the emergency plumber (the toilet is fine now), and long-deferred evenings with the HH (our relationship will be fine now). So thank you all for your patience in waiting for this next recipe!
Before I get to the recipe, though, I’m going to make you wait just a wee bit longer (am I terrible, or what?) so I can share a little from our trip to Montreal last weekend.
After spending time with my dad to wish him both both a Happy Father’s Day and a Happy 91st Birthday (yes, you read that right!), I knew exactly where I wanted to dine: Aux Vivres, one of the most popular, hippest vegan spots in that city.
Despite driving over an hour before we found the place (which was quite the feat, considering we were only 15 minutes away when we started), we were thrilled to finally ease into a parking spot and run across Boulevard St.-Laurent into the bright, bustling and (thankfully) bilingual café.
After a heavy (if yummy) brunch that morning, the one thing I really craved was a green juice. I started with the Popeye, while the HH went for a Mango Lassi:
[The HH's Mango lassi on the left, my green juice on the right.]
For dinner, the HH (of course) chose the closest thing to meat on the menu and ordered the Portobello Burger, about which he raved.
[Manly Portobello Burger. Look at the size of those fries!]
I sank my teeth into a Buddha Bowl with grilled tempeh (which reminded me that I also need to make these types of bowls at home more often!):
[Vegan Happy Meal--apologies for the blurred photo!]
All in all, a wonderful meal, as always. We had hoped to get to Crudessence as well, but ran out of time!
Naw, kidding! (I honestly can’t imagine such a thing. . . ).
[Vibrant with additions of grape tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, spring mix and cucumber.]
So, despite the fact that I *could* continue sharing an indefinite number of desserts until, oh, 2042 or so (to me, nothing is ever as interesting as dessert, so I tend to lean–heavily–in that direction), I have chosen to take a break from the sweet stuff and begin to share all the other stuff I eat on a daily basis.
When I posted what I considered to be a fairly basic kale salad the other day on Facebook and got a resounding response from readers (in fact, that little update got more comments/likes than anything else I’ve ever posted on the page), I realized that regular food deserves its moment in the sun, too! (Well, not really “in the sun,” of course, since we all know that would be bad for its health and increase its chances of skin cancer–but you know what I mean).
[A blend with purple cabbage, green apple, and pumpkin seeds]
In a way, I think of this salad as the culinary counterpart to The HH. (What? The salad is going a little bald at the top?).
Let me explain.
Like so many other couples who’ve been together for some time, the HH and I have established routines in our lives. He’s the one who gets up in the morning to walk The Girls; I’m the one who feeds them their dinner. In the evenings, we walk them together. When we prepare our own dinner, I’m the kitchen director and the HH is my sous-chef (well, chopper, at any rate). He’s in charge of the lawn mower and I’m in charge of the food processor. Et cetera.
As a teenager, I remember glancing at my parents sitting across from each other at the dinner table and thinking that their lives were unbearably dull and routine, devoid of amy spark or novelty. They just seemed so. . . . blasé with each other.
[With cherry tomatoes, green cabbage, sunflower seeds and chopped pecans]
These days, though, I’ve come to appreciate that there is comfort and security in familiarity. It’s like sliding into the car seat each morning with everything already adjusted, so there’s no need to fix the rear-view mirror or move the chair forward; or that beloved blouse you’ve worn so many times you recognize the faint aroma of your favorite perfume when you withdraw it from your drawer. Or like that old wooden spoon you got as a gift when you moved into your first apartment, the one that’s stained and glossy with the nuance of oils and sugar and cookie dough batter that have worked their way into the wood grain over the years, the handle having shaped itself to your grip over time with so many uses.
Life with a long-term partner is like that, too: the steady, repeated drum of your daily life like the constant flow of water from a stream, engraving its pattern into the rock; eventually, the rough edges are all smoothed out, the water’s groove etched permanently.
It’s the daily, quotidien habits that provide a sense of harmony and contentment, even when we begin to take them for granted. Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s comment–”Wow, that HH is so funny!” a friend might remark after we’ve all had dinner together, or “I can’t believe that the HH knew who Robert Bussard was!” or “Seriously? The HH painted that??”–to startle us back into appreciation. And at times like that, I remember exactly why I was so smitten to begin with, and what it is I still love.
[A perfect summer lunch plate.]
So, okay, maybe it’s a stretch, but I think we go through the same dulling of appreciation with familiar foods, too. Anything that you eat regularly–part of the “routine”–can be taken for granted, and you may lose sight of how remarkably great that food seems to someone who doesn’t consume it on a regular basis.*
That’s why I was so taken aback by your response to this salad on Facebook. Ever since I first encountered a similar recipe in Kim’s recipe calendar, we’ve eaten a variation on this dish at least once a week in our house; to me, it’s as familiar as my fingerprints. At the same time, the fact that it is so common offers a sense of regularity (and–ahem–I mean that in both senses of the word). Your reaction made me wonder if perhaps there was more here than I realized–had I been taking my quotidien Kale Salad for granted?
Well, thanks to all of you for recasting my perception of this salad. To me, it had become a pair of comfy PJs, a favorite hairbrush that’s softened with years of use, a constant, steady and familiar companion whose presence was so ubiquitous it almost receded into the background.
But now, looking at it with new eyes, my heart jumps again when I gaze in that direction. And I appreciate him it more than ever.
*I’d say this principle is true of every food except chocolate, of course. I am still just as besotted today as I was the first day I encountered it.
What’s your kitchen staple–a dish that’s common in your kitchen, but might seem new and tantalizing to someone else?
[With added hemp seeds, sprouts, radish, apple and chopped pecans]
Kale Salad, Fully Loaded
This is really less of a recipe and more of a guideline. Essential ingredients, in my opinion, are “The Base;” (it IS a kale salad, after all!); “Crunchy Veggies” (especially carrot and beet); “Fresh Herbs,” which I feel really “make” this salad; and “Nuts and Seeds” (at least one choice). All the other categories can be omitted if desired and you’ll still end up with a yummy salad. Switching up the ingredients in each category allows for infinite possibilities. Take your pick and enjoy salad all year!
1 bunch (6-9 leaves) curly kale or Swiss chard (red or white), or a combination
1 cup (240 ml) mixed baby salad greens, bite-sized romaine lettuce, bite-sized butter lettuce, arugula (rocket) or a combination
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium beet, grated
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 red, yellow or orange pepper, diced
1/2 cup (120 ml) of at least 2 types of coarsely chopped fresh herbs (my favorites are dill, basil, mint, flat leaf parsley and cilantro)
1/2 cup total of any combination of fresh nut pieces and seeds (my favorite combinations are walnuts or pecans and hemp seeds; walnuts or pecans and sunflower seeds; almonds and pumpkin seeds)
2 cups (480 ml) total of any of the following (or any combination):
finely shredded white or purple cabbage
1 apple or pear, cored and diced; or 1 cup fresh blueberries or strawberries; or 1 avocado, peeled, cored and diced; or 1/4 cup goji berries or golden berries; or 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
Other Add-Ins (all of these are optional):
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thin
4-6 radishes, sliced in half-moons
1/3 cucumber, sliced in half moons
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
handful of sprouts (my favorites are sunflower, pea, or alfalfa sprouts)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
2 Tbsp -1/4 cup (30-60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
juice of 1/2 large lemon, to your taste
Soften the kale: Remove the kale leaves from the ribs; discard ribs, then wash and dry the leaves. Stack the leaves, roll tightly (jelly-roll style), then cut thinly crosswise to create long thin shreds. Chop the shreds into smaller pieces and place in a large salad bowl.
Sprinkle the kale with salt and drizzle with about 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil. Using your clean hands, “massage” the kale, squeezing it and squishing it between your fingers, until it begins to darken and soften a bit (this breaks down the fibers in the leaves and renders them more easily digestible–but they will still retain a nice crunch). Wash and chop the chard using the same method and add to the bowl (it doesn’t need to be massaged).
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice and more salt and/or olive oil, if desired. I like this salad fairly dry, so that the leaves are just barely coated with dressing but not in the least wet, with no excess dressing pooling at the bottom of the bowl. The HH prefers his more saturated; it is entirely up to you. Makes 3-5 meal-sized servings or 6-8 side servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to 3 days (and will still remain crunchy!).
With our wacky summer-like temperatures this past week breaking records more than once, it may seem out of sync to post a pot pie recipe. And even though I first made this a few weeks ago, we’ve been enjoying it regularly since then. I like to think of it as my final nod to the winter weather that never really materialized here in Toronto. Yep, 2012 will go down in the annals of DDD as The Best Toronto Winter Ricki Has Ever Experienced. Barely any snow. An abundance of brilliant sunshine. Thermometer reading above above freezing almost every day.
And this pot pie.
When I was a kid, pot pie was most decidedly not on the menu. An avid TV watcher back then, I used to fantasize that my mom would one day cook it for us, perhaps rolling pastry while decked out in pearls and a pinstriped apron à la June Cleaver. With her tailored blouse and perfectly shellacked, upswept bouffant hair, my mother would proffer a huge Corningware casserole that she gripped on each side with blue quilted oven mitts. She’d set the dish just so on a silver trivet on the dining room table, lift the cover with a flourish as a burst of steam escaped. My father, still in his shirt and tie (never mind that in reality he was a butcher whose attire consisted of blood-stained apron and grease) would reach eagerly to dole out portions to my sisters and me as we sat waiting calmly for our mom to join us. Then we’d all nibble demurely for the next hour or so, the clink of silver on bone china the only background to our lively dinner conversation.
In the real world, pot pie proved far too daunting for my mother. While an avid baker, she never mastered pastry (the only pies my mother ever baked had crumb crusts, or crusts that my Aunty M made and delivered to us). As a result, pot pie was never something she attempted (and besides, her hair was too fine and thin to support that updo, anyway). Instead, the closest we ever got to pot pie was patty shells–or, as we knew them growing up in Montreal, vol-au-vent.
Whenever Mom returned from the supermarket with a box of patty shells, we girls knew we were in for a special treat. She’d transfer the shells to a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven, then set about heating a can of undiluted (a crucial detail) Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup on the stovetop. Ten minutes later, the shells were ready and my sisters and I would each grab one on our way to the kitchen table, where we squirmed impatiently until my mother grabbed the soup pot by the handle (she used a kitchen towel instead of a pot holder) and, her housedress spattered with soup, shuffled over to the table and ladled some of the sauce over each pastry. Before she made it back to the stove, my sisters and I had already demolished the shells and were stuffing the creamy goo-coated peas and carrots into our mouths.
Ah, nothing like a classic dinner.
Well, maybe it’s my anticipation of Mad Men’sreturn to the airwaves this Sunday, but I had a hankering for a pot pie. Though perhaps not quite as quick and easy as the patty shells, this variation is also nowhere nearly as complicated as my imaginary 1960s version, either. Taking a cue from my friend Kelly, I created a crumble topping that requires absolutely no rolling or fluting of pie crust. The filling is a simple combination of sautéed vegetables and chickpeas (browning the garbanzos deepens the savory characteristic of the beans while softening the texture for a perfect addition to this filling). Add a quick and simple creamy sauce, bake in a casserole dish and–voilà!–a latter day pot pie that won’t stress you out.
Feel free to wear your hair any way you like when you serve it.
Chickpea Pot Pie (Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
Forget about pie crust–this pot pie with a super-simple crumble crust is the ultimate comfort food. And so easy! The chickpeas add protein and bulk so you’ll feel pleasantly full and satisfied.
For the Filling:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups (240 ml) cooked chickpeas (about one large can–19 oz or 540 ml)
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, chilled
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain unsweetened soy or almond milk
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease a casserole dish with coconut oil or spray with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large nonstick frypan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the carrots, onion, celery and chickpeas. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the chickpeas just begin to brown, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the parsley and dill and turn off heat.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium pot, melt the coconut oil withthe rice flour over medium-low heat. Cook and stir for a minute or two, then slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the milk until well blended. Add the other 1/2 cup (120 ml) and whisk to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth; turn off heat. Add the vegetables to the sauce in the pot and stir gently just to coat them; pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
Make the crumble topping: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt. Break the coconut oil into small pieces and scatter it over the flour, then pinch the mixture between your thumb and fingers until crumbly and all the oil is incorporated. Drizzle with the milk and toss with a fork until it comes together in a moist, crumbly mixture.
Scatter the crumble mixture evenly over the vegetables in the casserole. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly browned on top and the filling is bubbling at the sides. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
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When I first met the HH way back in 1997, he was dabbling in astrology. I don’t mean the kind of horoscopes you read in the daily newspaper or receive each morning on twitter. No, I mean the kind of astrology that involves a mega-detailed analysis such as casting a natal chart, consulting celestial connections, assessing trine relationships, checking the aspects of the sun, tabulating the temperature at 3:00 PM EST on Pluto, combing through the weekly sales flyer at Costco, etc.
Then, after he’d done all that, he proudly presented me with a 26-page printed document that outlined my basic personality traits, possible career moves, future inclinations, ideal love relationship, suggested pets, and so on. It had taken him almost three weeks of his free time in the evenings to analyze, study, measure and print the thing.
That’s when it hit me: this guy was a keeper.
One detail he was very fond of repeating was how our two signs (he: Scorpio of the Eagle phase; she: Libra ), were stacked up in a love relationship: the pairing was destined to be either perfectly compatible, a shimmering, calm and crystal-clear lake on a sunny day in July; or eternally on the verge of combustion, a stack of old newspapers perilously close to the fireplace. (Personally, I think we vacillate between the two).
In explaining the different elements of my horoscope, the HH also pointed out that, according to our respective dates, times, and places of birth, his sign was ”destined” to be a “teacher” to my sign. Well, if you count teaching me the difference between a gigabyte and a terabyte; what blacklight power is; why a cartridge is superior to a needle; or the fact that Tazio Nuvolari once navigated his Alfa Romeo through an archway with less than an inch on each side of his car–at 100 miles per hour–then yes, he’s taught me a lot. But when it comes to things like expressing one’s emotions; returning phone calls; whether or not a specific occasion requires a card; or remembering to renew his passport so he can travel to Nourished in Chicago with me in April–well, let’s just say that I could teach the HH a few things as well.
Ah, yes. Back to the cookies.
At some point shortly after the Presentation of the Horoscope, I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies to thank my sweetie for his efforts. I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? I’ve written before how I first began to bake them when I was a mere tot at my Aunt Yetta’s knee.
As you know, classic chocolate chip cookies come in myriad forms, sizes, thickenesses and textures. There are the ”crispy-throughout” cookies, the “crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside” variety, or the deliberately underbaked, “chewy-throughout” style of chocolate chippers. And let’s not forget the “not-baked-at-all-raw-cookie-dough” version, which was for decades the type preferred by yours truly. (Once I went gluten free, I was devastated to discover that my raw cookie dough no longer held its former allure; I actually found it distasteful, the bean flours asserting themselves a little too strongly in the dough).
Back then my exclusive CC Cookie was my mother’s classic recipe, which had been in our family for eons. It represented my ideal: a perfect balance between brown and white sugar, with a little more butter than most other recipes to form a crisp, crunchy exterior and dense, soft and buttery interior studded with melty chocolate chips (not to mention a killer raw cookie dough). The HH, on the other hand, favored a cookie that was crispy throughout. He took a bite of one of my cookies and announced, “It’s good, but it sort of tastes like a ball of raw dough. Ugh.”
And at that moment, I wondered: IS this guy a keeper?
Then I came across a recipe in Vegetarian Timesthat used oatmeal and walnuts plus several ingredients I don’t eat: canola oil (usually GMO), brown sugar (cane sugar) and chocolate bars (more cane sugar). I set about playing with the recipe. It took a few tries, but in the end, that recipe taught me a lot. I learned that the exact measurement of water is key. I learned that the combination of both coconut sugar and coconut nectar creates a synergy resulting in just the right balance of crispy exterior and chewy interior. I learned that psyllium husks are my new favorite binder. I learned so much that I began to wonder if the recipe creator might have been a Scorpio.
I offered the HH a cookie. He bit into it, chewed it enthusiastically, and helped himself to another (I think this “multiple dessert servings” business is getting to be a habit with that HH!). He even commented on the fact that they were “nice and chewy in the middle.” And then he added, “Yep, I think this one’s a keeper.”
Well, then! Seems the HH learned a thing or two from me as well, hmmm?
“It’s a Keeper” Butterscotch-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Suitable for Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) Stage 3 and beyond
Just like the cookies grandma used to make. . . except with a whole lot more healthy ingredients. Many gluten free bakers are beginning to use psyllium in their baking as a replacement for xanthan gum. In this recipe, the psyllium is essential: I tried the recipe various ways with flax and/or chia, but the results were nowhere near as good.
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, water, coconut nectar, vanilla, oil and stevia; whisk to begin dissolving the coconut sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the oats until they resemble cornmeal. Add the nuts, lucuma, baking soda, baking powder, salt and psyllium and continue to process until it’s very fine and begins to stick together, moving round in a solid “wall” around the edges of the processor (the texture will be like a slightly moist sawdust at this point, and should still fall apart in a powder when you separate it with your fingers, NOT like a dough that sticks together).
Drizzle the wet mixture in a ring over the dry ingredients in the processor and process until it comes together in a dough. Lift the blade and scrape away any liquid that’s hiding under there, then return the blade and process again briefly to incorporate. Remove the blade and stir in the chips by hand. Do not process again.
Scoop the dough using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon and place in mounds on a cookie sheet. Use your wet palm or a silicone spatula to flatten the cookies to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness. Bake in preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheets. Makes 12-15 cookies. May be frozen.
When I was in grade school, there was exactly one boy (let’s call him Jerome) in our school who had a food allergy (to peanuts). Jerome was already a bit too large (he towered over the rest of us; even in grade three, he was already level with our teacher, Mrs. B’s shoulders); a bit too goofy (he had one of those snorty-hiccuping laughs, sounding slightly porcine and aquatic at the same time); and a bit too fleshy, with excess skin seeming to hang from his waistband and cheeks, his complexion as white and matte as newly painted classrooms after summer break.
I always felt sorry for him. Even though he sometimes played the class clown out in the school yard, I never saw him smiling around food. He carried his dietary restrictions around like a backpack full of rocks–at once too heavy, yet requiring great attention to avoid causing injury–while the rest of us flaunted our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
When I first began the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) in earnest in March, 2009, I felt a long-lost connection to poor Jerome. After all, not only did I have to eschew peanuts, but also gluten, most sweeteners, yeasts, alcohol and all moldy foods as well. No, I won’t be eating any PB&J sandwiches in the foreseeable future. And yet, after three years on the diet, I no longer feel like I’m missing out on very much (the one exception is social occasions–when we’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, or to a major event like a wedding or bar mitzvah; the industrial kitchens seem to have a tough time producing something I can eat that also tastes good). I’ve more or less accepted that this will be my diet for the rest of my life, and I don’t mind cooking my own foods. I’ve discovered that, if you keep an open mind, there’s an infinite number of new food combinations and flavors to try, even on a restricted diet.
(“It’s true, Mum–we don’t think of our diet as restricted, either, even without chocolate! We happen to love the combination of apple, cauliflower and salmon blended together in the food processor.”)
In fact, for me it’s become a kind of game, a little personal challenge whenever I spy something that looks delicious but which I’m not supposed to eat: how can I recreate that dish in a way that’s ACD-friendly? When I saw Cara’s Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza over on the Clean Eating webiste, I knew immediately that I’d have to reproduce it–or, at least, an allergy-friendly, low glycemic, ACD-approved version of it. I saved the recipe on Pinterest (so much more fun than bookmarking!) and thought about what I’d change.
I ended up tweaking my own Grain-Free Pizza Crust to make it not only grain-free but also starch-free; used this goat “cheese” instead of the dairy-based one; and concocted an ACD-friendly version of the condensed balsamic that worked beautifully. The HH (who, by the way, has no food allergies and can eat whatever he wants in whatever quantities he wants–don’t you just hate him?) went bonkers over this pizza. I think he wants Cara to come live with us now.
The pizza features thinly sliced, deeply browned onions, slow-cooked until sweet and languorous. They’re topped with shaved squash that’s wilted and beginning to curl at the edges, accented with crisp, toasty pumpkinseeds and bitter greens, all accented with dollops of tart, creamy goat “cheese.”
Savoring a big slice of this pizza, I felt completely happy, sated and even somewhat spoiled by the perfect symphony of flavors, colors and textures on my plate. In other words, it was the very antithesis of a “restricted” meal. Now, if only I could invite Jerome to join us. I’m sure this pizza would make him smile aound his food, after all.
Cara’s Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and “Goat Cheese” Pizza, Anti-Candida Friendly (grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan); Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond.
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil, optional (omit if you’ll be topping with sweet ingredients)
For the Toppings:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup (60-120 ml) vegetable broth or stock
225 g (4 oz) peeled and shaved (with a vegetable peeler) butternut squash (about 1/4 of a sqash–I just did the thin neck part)
1/2 recipe this goat “cheese” (omit peppercorns; the remainder is great on muffins, toast, etc.)
2 cups (480 ml) thinly sliced chard or kale
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw or lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
For the Balsamic Drizzle (ACD Stage 3 or beyond; for ACD Stage 2, see variation below):
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
5 drops plain stevia liquid
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a large pizza pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the beans and 1/4 cup (60 ml) oil until relatively smooth. Add the soymilk, stevia, vinegar, coconut flour, psyllium, garfava flour, buckwheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and basil and process again until the mixture comes together in a ball. Do not overprocess!
Take the ball of dough and, using your hands, pull of chunks the size of baseballs and distribute them evenly over the pizza pan. Use the final 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of oil to grease your palms and fingertips; then press the dough evenly in the pan until all the chunks come together in a single crust. Keep greasing your hands as necessary to avoid sticking. If desired, make a slight rim all around the edge of the dough. (Instead of using the extra oil, you can also wet your palms to prevent sticking while you press out the dough, but if you apply a tomato-based sauce to the pizza, it’s more likely to remain moist in that case).
Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes, until the crust is dry and lightly browned on the edges and bottom (if you underbake at this stage, the inside of the dough will remain moist after the toppings have been added). Top with desired toppings, then return to the oven for another 25-35 minutes, until heated throughout and toppings are cooked. Slice and serve. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen. To freeze, wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a ziploc bag.
While the crust bakes, make the toppings: heat oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) broth and cover the pan. Allow to cook another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are soft and golden. If the onion sticks to the pan, add more broth as needed. Set aside.
Once the dough is ready, remove it from the oven and increase the heat to 450F ( C). Spread the onions evenly over the crust. Top with the greens, then the shaved squash. Scatter dollops of cheese over the top and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the greens and squash are wilted and the cheese has begun to brown a bit.
While the pizza bakes, make the drizzle: Combine the balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and stevia in a small pot and bring to the boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook until reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 ml), about 5 minutes. Remove pizza from the oven and drizzle with the vinegar. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen. To freeze, wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a ziploc bag.
For ACD Stage 2, use this vinegar drizzle instead: Replace the balsamic with unsweetened cranberry juice and increase the stevia to 10 drops instead of 5. Prepare as described above.