[Seems to be "dessert week" on DDD! Here's another healthy recipe for you today, the second in a trio of "good for you" desserts that can all be served up to those you love for Valentine's Day: the first was Butterscotch Pudding that can improve heart health; and the final installment is coming up on Thursday with a beautiful, decdadent, traditional V-Day treat revamped to be super-quick and healthier. Be sure to come back and check that one out, too!]
I’ve never really understood the expression, “easy as pie.” In the home of my childhood, it was more like “almost-unheard-of-plus-totally frustrating-and-usually-botched-results” as pie. Although my mom was a superlative baker, the one thing she almost never made (and when she did, it wasn’t very good) was pie. Give her a cookie dough, and she could nail it; a chiffon cake was her speciality; and cheesecake–no problem. But pie crust somehow eluded her.
As a result, neither one of my sisters nor I excel at pie or pie crust. In fact, the only pie my mother ever baked was called “Chocolate Dream Pie,” and as I recall, and it consisted of one ready-made storebought crust filled with chocolate cake batter and baked. In other words, the only pie in her repertoire was actually a cake.
My mom’s sister, Auntie M, on the other hand, a former caterer who excelled in the kitchen well into until her final years-well, she could bake anything.
Like so many pairs of sisters, my mother and aunt were more dissimilar than alike. Mom was softspoken, with a quiet, murmuring voice and (despite her hefty weight) a delicate frame, with tiny ankles and wrists. Her thin, fine hair was the color of wax beans. Auntie M, in contrast, was taller and broad, with sturdy legs thick as telephone poles. Her height was enhanced by the towering beehive of coarse, mahogany hair; her gravelly voice was both commanding and insistent, paired with an easy laugh and an equally easy tendency to criticize. My mother, the younger, was also “the pretty one,” while Auntie M was more what used to be described as a “Handsome” woman (think Mrs. Doubtfire with dark hair). Tough on the outside, she rarely revealed an inner softness, like a cautious turtle peeking out of its shell only when every possible threat is removed.
At once assertive and strong, Auntie M embodied the concept of pure domesticity, yet without even a whiff of the usual sense in which women are considered domestic. She was an archetypal feminist, one who encouraged independence, intelligence, strength and self-sufficiency all within the realm of marriage–and I believed she could accomplish anything. I idolized her, and in many ways wanted to be her (well, minus the shapeless legs).
When I was about 16, I spent a couple of weeks living at my aunt's house after she had broken her arm. While ostensibly there to help her keep up with housework, my role as her personal assistant quickly morphed into culinary protégé as well. It was under her tutelage that I first learned aboutmis en place (though of course she didn't call it that), which I had never encountered before; she also taught me about professional wash-up technique, filling one sink with soapy water, the other with clear and washing the least-dirtied dishes and utensils (such as glasses or cutlery) first, reusing the water for the more grimy pots and pans at the end. I discovered how rotating your baking pans halfway through the cooking time helps to compensate for uneven oven heat, allowing for a smooth, even top to cakes and breads; how sifting flours helps to aerate and separate out impurities like pebbles or bran; and how using an ice cream scoop creates perfectly measured, uniformly sized cookies.
The one thing that Auntie M never got round to teaching me, unfortunately, was how to bake a pie (though I have no doubt that, if she had, it would have been stellar). After years of promising myself that I'd tackle the skill on my own, I suddenly switched to gluten-free baking a few years back, which means that most of my crusts are now "pat-in" versus "roll-out." (Though if you're looking for a good rollable GF pie crust, you must try the one I used in this tortière, which I found on Maggie's blog). As a result, I still have a bit of an irrational aversion to making pie crust (though I did manage to create two fabulous crusts for the upcoming cookbook).
So you can see why I was elated to come across this recipe for Granola Topped Blueberry Pie Bars in Hallie's latest cookbook, Super Healthy Cookies: They're just like pie--without the pie! If you haven't checked out the book yet, I'd highly recommend it: with 50 recipes for healthy cookies from fruity to chocolate to bars to special occasion and more, it also provides a great glossary of ingredients, a resource guide, tips and tricks throughout, and a fantastic appendix of all the recipes listed by different diet type (eg, vegan and egg-free, grain-free, nut-free) plus a list according to taste prefernces (eg, sweet and salty, chocolatey, warm and toasty spices, etc.). All in all, it's full of the healthy, delicious recipes and useful information I've come to expect from Hallie's work!
This recipe is actually not even listed in the "vegan" section, but it was a snap to adapt to my ACD diet. I used The Vegg (vegan yolk) instead of the egg yolk listed, and subbed coconut nectar for maple syrup (obviously, you could make the recipe exactly as written if it jibes with your own diet). I also loved the "sweetness scale" next to each recipe (this was a "two spoon" treat, right in the middle of the scale).
These bars came together incredibly easily. In less than 45 minutes, the HH and I had a fruity, crumbly, warm and inviting pie-like dessert. To make the bars a bit more indulgent for the HH (he does love his creamy desserts), I topped his with a dollop of coconut whipped cream. These do, indeed, taste very pie-like and indulgent--and the HH consumed nearly half the pan in only 2 days! You should have no qualms at all serving these bars as Valentine's Day treats; they live up to a special occasion with the bursting-with-berries filling and yet are made with whole, healthy ingredients. They also fall into my very favorite dessert category: those that can be eaten as breakfast!
Despite the ease of preparation, I'd never call them "easy as pie," though. Unless, of course, we're talking about eating them.
Hallie says: "I took one bite of these bars and my taste buds shouted, 'Hello, Blueberry Pie!' The moist crust and crunchy topping of these bars paired with the juicy blueberry filling is just sublime. Don't let the rather long list of ingredients scare you. They're very easy to make." I agree! And equally easy to adapt to my diet. I've included my changes in square brackets, below.
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease an 8 x 8 inch (20 cm) baking dish with coconut oil.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the oats, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, psyllium husks, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt for 20 seconds. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, and egg yolk. Process to combine. Using moist hands, pat half of the dough firmly and evenly into the greased baking dish. Crumble the remaining dough into a bowl and mix in the the pecans and raisins. Set aside.
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the blueberries, honey, lemon juice, and arrowroot starch. Spoon the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the blueberry layer nd press gently to adhere.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely at room temperture, then refrigerate fro 1-2 hours before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 16 bars.
[A bowl of pudding, a cup of herbal tea, and forget about what ails ya.]
I don’t suppose that butterscotch pudding is the first food that comes to mind when one thinks of foods that can be eaten “for what ails ya.”
Then again, it might be. . . if, when you think of butterscotch pudding, you think of Jell-O instant puddings. And when you think of Jell-O pudding, that might lead you to think of Bill Cosby, their former spokesperson, talking about puddings and kids and fun in one of his many unforgettable commercials. And then, if you happen to continue to think of Bill Cosby, that would lead you to think of all the TV shows in which Mr. Cosby has featured, such as I Spy, Fat Albert, Kids Say the Darndest Things, and the exemplar of all family sitcoms, the eponymous The Cosby Show. And when you think of The Cosby Show, you might then think of the protagonist of the show, Cliff Huxtable. Who, when you think about it, was a doctor (albeit an obstetrician) on the show. And then, once you’re thinking about doctors, you might be thinking that a doctor is a person you’d need to see, say, if you felt ill. And if you’re thinking about feeling ill, well, you might think about what you’d eat. Bringing it all together, you’d go on to think about “what you’d eat + Dr. Huxtable + Bill Cosby + pudding” sort of all mushed together in one thought. So, in the end, “food to eat for what ails ya” could, indeed, bring you to “pudding.”
[Yes, it tastes as rich and creamy as it looks. And just as butterscotchy, too.]
In my own case, this pudding is a creation I came up with as a result of a specific health condition; I’m eating it as part of my treatment. (No, really.). And whether or not you’ve got something that ails you, well, this pudding will make you feel much better. It’s creamy, it’s light, it’s velvety, and it tastes like afternoon tea and reading in front of the fireplace and knitting in a rocking chair and maybe a silky camisole thrown in as well. . . .but it’s filled with heart-healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients, too. All at 90 calories per serving.
As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my mom died fairly young (aged 62) from complications of diabetes and heart disease. In fact, she suffered her first heart attack at age 55. Because I’m a hypochondriac health conscious, every year at my annual physical, I ask my doctor to conduct all the necessary tests to ensure that my heart is in tip-top condition. I’ve had my cholesterol, triglycerides and homocysteine levels measured regularly (all are great, thankfully). I take a treadmill stress test every other year. I sometimes undergo an EKG at my physical. And in recent years, I’ve repeatedly requested a C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test in my blood work, since it’s a good marker of inflammation in the body. Normally, my doc’s response has been, “Not necessary. Everyone has some kind of inflammation, so it doesn’t really tell us very much.”
When I started seeing my new naturopath last year, though, she wrote to my allopathic doctor and asked her to include the CRP test based on my family history. Finally, she complied. . . . and guess what? Tests revealed that my levels are elevated–gasp! I must admit this result annoyed me more than anything else. . . I mean, I eat a plant-based diet! I exercise regularly! I drink green tea ever day! My dad is 91 and in perfect health!! Why did I have to inherit my mom’s genes in that area? Et cetera, et cetera.
At the same time, I do suffer from several conditions that cause chronic inflammation. . . . definitely part of the problem. Not to mention that stress is a crucial factor that can also increase CRP levels.
[Quick--grab a big spoonful of this and lower those stress levels!]
Of course, my naturopath’s first words about this situation were, “Now, don’t get all stressed about it [she's obviously gotten to know me a bit by now]–there is a lot we can do to combat the genetic component here.” Aside from the need for stress reduction (must. get. back. to. meditation. daily.) and increasing my exercise (my regimen has definitely suffered since I pulled a tendon in my foot and haven’t been up to walking as much), she suggested taking turmeric (for general artery health and anti-inflammatory effects) as well as using lecithin (ditto). Well, I can do that. (In fact, you may have noticed that I added lecithin to my Veggie-Full Sweet Smoothie a while back).
While lecithin is a major component of most cell membranes and a key factor in heart health, it’s important to note that not all lecithin is created equal. In fact, there seems to be a bit of controversy about it on the web, with proponents on both sides of the issue. Whether pro or con, everyone seems to agree that if you do use it, you must avoid GMO soy at all costs, and that the granular form is superior. I use NOW granules.
What lecithin does in prepared or packaged food is create a rich, creamy, emulsified texture (though that type of lecithin is usually genetically modified). I tried this pudding without, and while it’s still very tasty, the lecithin is what elevated the mixure from “puree” to “pudding.” I’d highly recommend giving it a try if you can. The pudding is also super-quick to make (in fact, I daresay it takes even less time to prepare than Mr. Cosby’s instant variety).
While I may need to be more careful about what I eat from now on, it doesn’t seem so bad when I can enjoy desserts like this one, with fiber, healthy fats and even a hit of protein in every serving.
Gee, I think I’m feeling better already.
How about you? Have any of you tried lecithin? Are you in the “yea” camp, or the “nay”?
You won’t believe how rich, creamy, and pudding-like this tastes; I suspect partly because of the lecithin granules. The roasted kabocha and walnut butter combination creates a surprisingly butterscotchy flavor, too.
1 cup (240 ml) kabocha squash puree, from a baked kabocha squash*
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened coconut milk beverage, or plain or vanilla almond milk (you may need less milk if using almond)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white chia seeds
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lecithin granules
2 Tbsp (30 ml) Walco-Nut Butter (or use almond, cashew, macadamia or sunflower seed butter)**
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
15-25 drops plain or vanilla pure stevia liquid, or 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) pure stevia powder
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
pinch fine sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix (a food processor is not suitable, as the lecithin granules won’t dissolve). May be eaten immediately, but best if refrigerated at least 4 hours until very cold. Top with coconut whipped cream before serving, if desired. Makes 4 servings. Will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 3 days.
*Note 1: I baked my squash at 400F (200C) for about an hour, then scooped out the seeds and scraped the flesh out from the skin (some people eat the kabocha skin; I’m not a fan. Though The Girls love it.) You could try this recipe with other orange squashes such as Butternut, or even sweet potatoes, but I can’t guarantee the flavor will be comparable.
**Note 2: If you use another nut butter or a seed butter, add 1 tsp (5 ml) lucuma powder or 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) butterscotch extract to achieve the same flavor.
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.
[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!]
It was almost 3 years ago that I first came across The Blissful Chef, aka Christy Morgan. I remember hearing quite a bit of buzz about this classically trained, macrobiotic-leaning vegan chef (who had received glowing reviews from her client, Alicia Silverstone!). Shortly thereafter, Christy and I somehow became friends on Facebook, and a dialogue began. I admired what she was doing and agreed to review one of her ebooks,Cooking with the Seasons: Summer. I recall being pleasantly surprised at how much the recipes focused on real, whole foods, unprocessed and without a lot of added oils or salt. I loved the dishes I tried and was happy to move on to a glowing review of Christy’s first cookbook, Blissful Bites,half a year later. That book remains one of my favorites to this day.
Today, I’m happy to share with you Christy’s latest venture: Wellness Reboot, a healthful, all-in-one online culinary and exercise program that will help you reboot your wellness goals. But Christy says it much better than I can, so take a gander at her answers to my questions, below! And don’t forget to check out the giveaway after the interview!
Q. Can you explain what Wellness Reboot is all about?
Wellness Reboot is a 28-day online wellness program. It’s an accumulation of all that I’ve learned both in culinary arts and in over 10 years in the health and wellness field. The program includes more than 15 videos on cooking techniques (stocking you kitchen and pantry, etc), a 28-day meal plan of delicious whole food plant-based recipes (no oil, no processed foods, no refined sugar, mostly gluten-free), a Getting Started Guide that explains everything one would need to know about eating healthfully and living a plant-based lifestyle, continual support from me through a private Facebook group, and bi-weekly conference calls. Not only does it have all of this, but I’ve partnered with an amazing vegan personal trainer, Chad Byers of Beyond Fit, to include a fitness element to the program, so you’ll get a workout that’s easy to do at home, along with workout videos. It’s unlike any other online program!
Q. Sounds very comprehensive, Christy! Who can benefit from taking this program?
This program is great for those who are ready to transition to a healthier way of eating and living. Whether you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, or maybe you have a health condition you would like to treat naturally, or maybe you recently switched to a plant-based diet but need guidance, this program is for you. I have a lot of people email me who have watched Forks Over Knives or another documentary and they are ready to change their diet to plant-based. This program will hold your hand and show you the healthy way to transition. Wellness Reboot is endorsed by Forks Over Knives, Dr. Neal Barnard (of PCRM.org) and many more people in the health and wellness community.
It’s also for those who have already made the switch to a vegan diet but need help in the kitchen. Wellness Reboot is being dubbed as a “cooking boot camp” from participants. If you aren’t good in the kitchen you will be after this program. So be prepared to cook your butt off (literally and figuratively). Even after one week, our Rebooters are losing weight, no longer having sugar cravings, and controlling health issues like IBS. The power of plant-based food combined with a fitness program are unbelievable!
Q.What prompted you to include the fitness element? And who inspires you to be more fit?
I’m a strong believer that we need to eat healthfully AND move our bodies on a regular basis for optimal health. Studies show that those who exercise have better physical and mental health, have stronger bones, a better sex life, less instances of disease or common illness, and live longer. But you can’t out exercise a bad diet. You need both. My boyfriend is a good example. He is a bodybuilder and ultramarathon runner. He looks about 10 years younger than he is and continues to excel post-40. He and my trainer (and fitness coach for Wellness Reboot), Chad Byers, inspire me to become more every day. I’ve signed up for a triathlon in September and I’m ready to take my training to the next level! [Congrats!]
[Carrot Hummus--oil-free and flavor-packed!]
Q. Can you tell us which are your three favorite recipes from the program?
[Indian Chickpea Wraps from the program]
Honestly I’m kind of in love with all the recipes. I feel like it’s some of my best work because they are all very easy recipes packed full of flavor using whole food ingredients. If I had to choose just a few it would be: 1. Breakfast: Maple Pumpkin Seed Cereal Parfait, 2. Lunch: Indian Chickpea Wraps, 3. Snack: Edamame Guacamole Dip, 4. Dinner: Polenta Pesto Pizza and 5. Dessert: Chocolate Coconut Pecan Bites.
Q. You mentioned that the recipes are oil-free. For those who don’t follow an oil-free diet, can they include healthy oils and still benefit from the program?
The program is kind of like a cleanse so it’s nice to eliminate oil so you start to enjoy the taste of whole foods. We have become addicted to fat, and while some fat is better than others, we leave out oil for this program. There is plenty of whole food fat like coconut, avocado, and some nut butters. It’s not about deprivation but retraining our palates and creating new healthy habits in the kitchen.
Q. If someone has time for just one form of exercise, what would you recommend as the best thing that can be done daily?
I think High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the way to go. I’ve been doing it for years and that is what the fitness program is based on. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a series of moves that use body weight (or other equipment) in fast, short bursts where you push yourself as hard as you can and take a small rest in-between each move. All the exercises in our program are shown in video and pdf form and we also have a LIVE workout class with our fitness coach, Chad Byers of Beyond Fit.
Thanks so much, Christy! I’ve really enjoyed learning more about this latest venture of yours.
And now. . . GIVEAWAY TIME!
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! We have a winner:
Congratulations, Jessica! Christy or I will contact you via email for more information.
Christy has also generously offered to give away a FREE spot in the next Wellness Reboot($350 value!) to one lucky winner! In addition, she’s offering FIVE spots in the program at a huge discount ($100 off) for the first 5 DDD readers to claim their places. All you need to do is contact Christy here if you’re interested in one of the five discounted spots–but remember, it’s first come, first served for the $100 discount!
(Note: This is NOT an affiliate product; I am receiving no monetary or other compensation for this review. I was, however, given access to the program materials and recipes so that I could review it for you all, and I thought it was a great program.).
Wellness Reboot is a comprehensive program that not only provides healthful recipes, but teaches you how to make them; and the video workout component is something I’ve not seen anywhere else.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below telling me which aspect of the program you’re most interested in: cooking classes, recipes, or workout videos, or something else! You can also gain extra entries by doing any of the following (then come back and leave an additional comment telling me that you did):
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
This giveaway is open worldwide. You can enter until midnight EST on Wednesday, January 30th, after which I’ll choose a winner at random. Good luck, all!
Christy also shared this recipe for Carrot Hummus from the program, as well as one participant’s comment about it: “I took the Carrot Hummus to work and shared with a coworker. She *loved* it and the wrap I made with it today was awesome! It was the perfect portable lunch for work. I can’t believe how much my meat-eating husband is loving all the recipes too.” I have to say, the HH also enjoyed this hummus, and I gobbled up my serving. No need for oil in this one–totally delicious!
No-Fat Carrot Hummus
Reprinted with Permission from Christy Morgan.
Who says you have to use chickpeas to make a hummus dip?! You are going to flip for this white bean version that has added carrots for extra vitamins.
2 cups (480 ml) carrots, large dice
2 cups (480 ml or one 15 ounce can) cooked white beans
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast [I'm still avoiding nooch so used 1 Tbsp/15 ml light miso and it worked beautifully]
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari soy sauce [I used Braggs]
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) garlic powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) corianderBoil carrots until tender. Drain and place in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients. Blend until well combined and no chunks remain. Add more seasoning to taste. Makes 3-5 servings.
You know how they say there are more than 50 different Inuit words for snow? Well, anyone who’s read my blog though a season or two likely already knows how I feel about winter. I mean, if there were 50 (or more) ways to say “I loathe it with my entire being, abhor it to the very depths of my soul and spirit, despise it more than the fictional progeny of Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Satan and Paul Bernardo combined” (never mind that they’re all male and therefore couldn’t spawn any progeny on their own)–well, if there were myriad ways to say “I ABSOLUTELY HATE, HATE, HATE WINTER,” then you just know I’d be the first one to utter each and every one of those words.
Then again, I must admit we’ve been pretty lucky with the dreaded frigid season this year. So far, we haven’t had a single pirta (the Inuit word for “blizzard”), nor has there been any natquik (drifting snow particles), any qengaruk (snow banks), qerretrar (icy crust on snow) or navcite (getting caught in an avalanche). In fact, even as I type this blog post, I barely see any aniu (fallen snow on the ground) at all outside. What I’d much prefer to see, however, is beaming sunshine (blessed relief from pasty white winter skin), swaying green leaves (nature reawakening after months of hibernation), itsy bitsy tank tops and teeny tiny cut offs (high school students on summer vacation), sprinklers (happy Girls) and thermometers soaring to 30C/86F (happy Ricki).
Well, if I must suffer throughenduresurvive tolerate a winter in Toronto, I’m glad to have quick, warming, filling dishes like these simple, satisfying oatmeal wedges. If you’ve got leftover cooked oats and aren’t sure what to do with them, or if you just want another option that isn’t a bowl of porridge for breakfast, this is a great way to use them.
Years ago, I wrote book reviews for a magazine called The Niagara Current. They once sent me a cookbook by a local author, Kathleen Sloan McIntosh, called New Celtic Cooking. It seemed to me that the book contained a plethora of recipes made with steel-cut or rolled oats, each with a slightly different texture, preparation method, and name–and virtually every one appealed to me. There were farls, bannocks, bread, pancakes, baps, oaten, cakes, and probably several dozen more I can’t remember at the moment. I recall leafing through the book and thinking that the Celts could easily have rivalled the Inuit when it came to naming recipes with oats. I wrote a lovely review, as I recall, then slid the book onto one of my cookbook shelves and promptly forgot about it.
The other night, as I was scrounging through the fridge looking for something quick and hearty to cook for dinner, I spied some leftover cooked steel cut oats on one of the shelves. Now, you’d think that McIntosh’s book would come to mind and that I’d seek out one of those oat-based recipes, wouldn’t you? But that didn’t happen. To begin with, my mind is probably even more crowded these days than my bookshelves, so it never occurred to me. And even if it had, I mean, really–would you be able to find anything in this mess o’ books?
[Kitchen chaos extends to bookshelves: please ignore that blurry box of Nut Thins crackers in the foreground!]
Instead, what I did was hark back to an old favorite, Chinese Scallion Pancakes. I had the idea to combine the concept of a scallion flatbread with the simplicity of my Pan-Seared Oatmeal wedges for a savory spin on oats. I chopped the onions, grated some carrot, added seasoning–and in about 20 minutes, dinner was served. I completed the meal with a salad of mixed greens with added nuts/seeds for extra protein (though oats themselves are no slouch in this department; a 1-cup serving boasts 13g of protein).
The result was a terrific light supper. The wedges are crispy on the outside, creamy and nubby on the inside, with the characteristic caramelized flavor of fried onions. I added carrot for a bit of visual interest and additional vitamins, but really, you can adapt this recipe in an infinite number of ways, adding chopped veggies, seeds, different flavorings or seasonings as you see fit. In fact, I bet there are more than 50 variations to these oatmeal wedges. Now. . . . all that remains is just to name them all.
[Here with a splash of Bragg's liquid aminos for a flavor accent.]
Savory Pan-Fried Oatmeal Wedges with Green Onion and Grated Carrot
Super simple to whip up, these wedges are great as a light main dish or appetizer course. They’re great on their own with a splash of Bragg’s or soy sauce, or squirt of sriracha; or use them as a base for a stew or legume-based curry.
In a medium bowl, blend together the oats, onions, carrot, garlic salt, dill and salt, if using. Brush a large nonstick frypan with about half the oil and heat over medium heat. Plop the oat mixture into the pan and flatten with a spatula until about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick, shaping into a round. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the edges and bottom are browned (lift a little bit of the edge with the spatula to check). Brush the top with the rest of the melted coconut oil and then carefully cut the round into four wedges. Gently turn each wedge and cook on the other side until browned, 6-8 more minutes. Slide the wedges onto plates and serve with Bragg’s, wheat-free soy sauce or sriracha. Makes 4 servings.
To me, this pot pie is the perfect incarnation of my favorite kind of comfort food: it’s nourishing, filling, appealing to all types of palates—and it’s vegan and gluten-free, to boot. Cooked up in a single casserole dish, with a no-roll crumble crust made from Erewhon organic corn flakes—could there be anything easier? (And you know that’s my favorite type of recipe–especially in winter!). I love that this pot pie is made from real food ingredients with loads of veggies under that simple gluten-free crust, too.
If you’re anything like me, this time of year seems to trigger cravings for just this kind of dish. So if you’re looking for a great “clean food” recipe that’s easy to make and filled with flavorful comfort, head over to the Attune Foods blog and check out my pot pie! And I hope you’ll leave a note over there and let me know what you think, too.
January 17th, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized |
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Before we get to today’s broccoli-filled smoothie, can we have a little audience survey? You don’t have to press any of the buttons on your phone, and this call is not being recorded for training purposes. Okay, here we go:
If you recognized the allusion to “I Sing the Body Electric” in today’s blog post title, where is the first place you heard of it?
A) Original Fame movie (1980 ). (The action in the video really starts around 2:15. And say, what the heck ever happened to Irene Cara, anyway?)
C) Walt Whitman’s epic poem, Leaves of Grass (1855).(Okay, so to get this one, you have to be, oh, at least 160 years old. In which case, I’d love to know how that happened to you!)
As it turns out, this smoothie has virtually nothing to do with Fame, Lana, or Mr. Whitman (though I suppose it could be argued that ol’ Walt was fond of broccoli). The main connection between the line and the libation is the reference to “electric,” since that’s the shade of green you’ll see if you blend this up for yourself. I had no idea when I started up the VitaMix that morning that I’d end up with a psychedelic breakfast bowl. (Groovy, man!).
I actually had a little fun on the DDD Facebook page yesterday, challenging people to guess what was in this neon concoction. My favorite guess was from Chloe, who said “caramel noodle soup”! Actually, most guesses were for soup (most of which contained cauliflower, avocado and/or turmeric). I think you were thrown by my use of a bowl for my smoothie–something I do often, as I prefer my smoothies uber-thick.
Actually, if my memory serves me correctly (and at my age, that doesn’t happen too often), I first learned about broccoli in a smoothie from my friend Shirley, who told me she adds it all the time. Of course, I’m used to spinach, lettuce, kale–even collard or chard–in a smoothie, but had never thought to add broccoli. Given that it’s supposedly North America’s favorite vegetable, I figured, “why not?”. I had some leftover cooked kabocha squash in the fridge and decided to throw that in, too. I used hemp seeds for protein here, but you could always use a scoop of your favorite protein powder, too, if you liked.
I expected the smoothie to be green, but not this particular shade of radiated-neon-chartreuse! Something about the synergy of the kabocha and broccoli together worked to create this extraterrestrial hue. This is a smoothie that lights its own way in the dark (handy this time of year, both because it *is* dark when you get up in the morning, and also because you get to save on those electricity bills!). The pear and hemp seeds both contribute smoothness and creaminess. I found the texture of this to be really thick and silky, almost pudding-like; hence, the use of a bowl instead of a glass. (Of course, if you prefer a sippable smoothie, just add a little more milk, or some water).
Thanks to everyone who played along to guess the ingredients. I hope you’ll give it a try, despite the unusual pairing of veg and fruit here. And hey, if you don’t like it. . . . well, you can always use it to paint a 1960s-themed mural, alongside some hot pink flowers and peace signs.
Veggie-Full Sweet Smoothie
You don’t taste the broccoli in here, I promise. This tastes a little like pear, a little like sweet squash, and a lot like a yummy, fruity, smoothie.
1-2 cups (240-480 ml) large broccoli florets (start with 1 cup/240 ml and see how you like it)
1/2 cup (120 ml) baked kabocha squash, mashed or pureed
1 medium ripe pear, cored (I don’t peel mine)
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) soy lecithin, optional (you can use ground chia or flax instead for a creamy effect)
I’ve decided I want to be a computer programmer in my next life. No, scratch that: I want to be a computer programmer in THIS life. In fact, think I’ll take advantage of the free tuition for employees at the college where I work and just study programming right away. Why? Because if I knew how to program a computer, then events like being hacked–and having my entire blog disappear for several hours as it did this morning–might be less traumatic.
For those of you who tried to visit DDD this morning, I apologize if all you saw was a “sign up for WordPress!” form (that’s all I saw, too). Oh, and that long, rambling post I wrote a few days ago, the ACD update that reviewed the last four years on the diet? Vanished. And all your wonderful comments in response to that post? Gone. Buh-bye.
[Nacho Supreme will return!]
I will do my best to recreate the post over the next few days (silly me–discarded my original draft) and will repost the Nacho Supreme recipe for those of you who are interested. But frankly, today, after the initial punch-to-the-belly reaction from seeing the blank blog page, and then spending over an hour on the phone with the incredibly sweet and helpful Bluehost techie guy (Matt, if I ever leave the HH, I think I want to marry you), well, I decided what I needed instead this evening was some classic comfort food.
It’s actually out of character for me to find anything that isn’t sweet (or chocolate-based) comforting, but this mac and cheese felt like just the ticket. Growing up, I never ate much macaroni and cheese, not only because it was a rarity in our house (my mother made it perhaps four times that I can remember), but because once I tasted the conventional kind, I decided I really didn’t like it much. True, my mom was much more a baker than a good cook; and true, and her version of mac ‘n cheese was more like “mush ‘n charred”; so it probably wasn’t a fair assessment. (However, I did love Kraft Dinner in those days–aka Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, for all you Americans–but then again, in those days, I’d eat anything that offered dayglo orange or was made of chemicals. SweeTarts, anyone?). Even when I subsequently ordered the dish in a restaurant, I always found it somehow cloying, as if my throat dried up when I ate it. Needless to say, I tended to avoid it, even decades after leaving my parent’s house.
And then, I discovered vegan mac and cheese. Eureka! My first foray into the creamy, dreamy pasta dish was via Susan Voisin’s Easy Macaroni and Cheeze. I couldn’t believe how lush, how velvety, how flavorful and delicious this sauce-over-pasta dish was. Not only that–it was quick and easy to make, nothing like my mum’s dried up, crusty, mouth-puckering casserole. My love of vegan mac and cheese was fully cemented (no relation to the cheese in my mum’s recipe) when I cooked up Dreena’s Mac Oh Geez last year. What a revelation! A baked macaroni and cheese that remained creamy, rich, and flavorful even after fully cooked.
I used elements of both those dishes in my own casserole. Besides offering true comfort in a thick, pillowy sauce with elbow macaroni (the quintessential “comfort pasta,” in my opinion), this dish is the epitome of lazy cooking: blend your sauce ingredients, dump them into a casserole dish with the uncooked pasta, and bake, unattended, until done.
One caveat: this dish is not pretty. (Then again, neither is Julia Roberts, but look how much all of North America loves her). While the pasta bakes, it absorbs most of the liquid in the sauce, leaving a buttery, luxurious cheesy coating that envelops the pasta in a velvety cloak. The flavor is exceedingly mild, just the way I want my mac and cheese, but if you like yours sharper, you can increase the mustard and onion in the dish.
The HH was not as ecstatic about this as I was. “This doesn’t taste like cheese,” he frowned. True, HH; but to me, that’s not the point. The sauce is evocative of mac and cheese, and its creaminess, plus the hint of sweetness in the sauce both fulfil my requirements for a perfectly comforting dinner. Just the thing when your morning started off with a little trauma.
This is the kind of dish you can throw in the oven and then forget about until it’s time to dig in. Then, you’ll find perfectly cooked pasta, coated throughout in a cushy, cheesy, creamy sauce. Add-ins are optional; I prefer my pasta unadorned, except for the luxurious blanket of sauce.
2 cups (480 ml) elbow pasta (I used gluten-free rice pasta)
1/2 cup (120 ml) sweet potato purée (I make my own from baked sweet potatoes; canned is fine)
1/2 yellow onion, cut in chunks
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp (5 ml) dijon mustard
1/4 tsp (1 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) light miso
1 Tbsp (15 ml) arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or to your taste
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray a large (8 cup/2 L) casserole dish or 9 x 11 inch ( cm) pan with nonstick spray, or lightly grease with oil. Toss the dry pasta into the dish and set aside.
In a powerful blender, blend remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour over pasta in dish and poke down any elbows that have floated to the top so that all the pasta is submerged.
Cover the casserole and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and stir the pasta. Return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes, then check for doneness. The casserole is ready when the pasta is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, leaving a thick, creamy sauce throughout. If the pasta isn’t quite ready, remove the cover at this point and return to the oven to bake another 15-20 minutes before checking again. If desired, sprinkle with additional paprika.
Bake until ready, then allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. May be topped with toasted breadcrumbs in the final 15 minutes of baking, if you like (I prefer mine plain). Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen. To reheat, defrost first, then sprinkle with a little extra broth or milk and heat, covered, in a 350F (180C) oven for 20-25 minutes, until heated through.
As we prepare to bid adieu to 2012, I can only marvel at how quickly the year has passed. . . and am ever so grateful for all of the wonderful things that have come my way this past year. And as always, all of you are right near the top of the list.
Wishing every one of you a glorious transition to the new year and a 2013 filled with health (including lots of healthy food!), loving family and friends, and meaningful work that makes you smile every day.
I’m looking forward to what the new year will bring–and looking forward to sharing more of it with all of you!
“We’re looking forward to the new year, too, Mum. . . more of the blog means more camera time for us! We’re ready for our close-ups. . . “
[How The Girls spent their holidays: waiting for Dad to share some of his turkey.]
Hope you have all been enjoying some down time during this week between Christmas and New Year’s! Can it really be only TWO DAYS until 2013? Our holidays this year didn’t go quite as planned, but still ended up being happy, ultimately relaxing and filled with (of course) some great food. We threw together a great Christmas dinner on December 26th.
Why a day late? Well, after burning out with all the photo sessions (can you believe we’re only halfway there?!), I had planned to really rest and recharge over Christmas. As usual, we had a vegan/omni feast planned; I took care of all the plant-based dishes while the HH purchased an organic turkey for his (and The Girls‘) portion of the meal.
It’s truly amazing to me how dogs can sense even a few molecules of meat in the house: just carrying the bag into the hallway triggered their noses, and they immediately milled around the HH’s grocery bag, sniffing and nudging and attempting to lick the exterior of the plastic, even though it was sealed airtight. (“Mum, that’s because our noses are so much more sensitive than yours–everything is magnified 400 times. Which reminds me, have you taken a shower yet today?“)
I had been having some vaguely annoying back pains over the previous few days, nothing to write home about. On December 24th, though, things took a turn for the worse and I developed some severe pain and a slight fever. After mulling it over all night (you REALLY don’t want to have to visit an emergency room in Toronto if you can help it; and visiting an emergency room in Toronto on a holiday weekend is basically just lunacy), I finally agreed early the next morning (yes, that would be CHRISTMAS morning, when everything is closed for the holiday) to go check in just to be sure nothing serious was going on.
We drove to the hospital, and, as I shuffled from the parking lot to the emergency entrance, I noticed what was a small crowd milling about the door. As we got closer, I realized that no, it wasn’t a crowd milling about; it was the lineup to check in with the triage nurse, snaking outside of the actual emergency ward. That’s right, American friends: our wonderful Canadian medical system that is free to everyone is so backed up that they had insufficient space in the hospital Emergency entrance for all the people wishing to check in, let alone for the true emergencies themselves.
In the end, we managed to find one walk-in clinic that was actually open and broke a few speed limits to arrive literally 10 minutes before they closed. The diagnosis was suspected kidney infection (huh? How the HECK did that happen?!!) and a prescription for a powerful antibiotic. As you can guess, an antibiotic prescription (more or less a guarantee of a candida flareup) was not my desired gift on Christmas Day. I actually waited one more day, dousing myself with Goldenseal and cranberry juice, to no avail. Rather than mess with my kidneys, I decided to take the damn pills.
And so, dear reader, that is how we in the DDD household ended up deferring Christmas for a day. On Boxing Day, we decided to cook the meal despite my feeling only nominally better. The HH and The Girls enjoyed a veritable feast while I ate precious little and drank more cranberry juice (unsweetened, natch). It wasn’t until the pills kicked in the following day that I really piled up the plate and managed to sample everything. Here’s what I had:
No nut roast for me this year, as I just wasn’t feeling up to cooking it. And while I do feel a bit better, I’m not quite back to my usual perky self quite yet. The Girls, on the other hand, have been jonesing for turkey ever since The HH shared that first scrap with them. When it comes to pleading for food, they tend to take very different approaches.
Elsie adopts a pleading, “Look-how-pathetic-I-am-Feed-Me-Now” look:
“Dad, you have to give me some turkey or I shall perish! I’m feeling faint, I tell you. C’mon, Dad, you know you want to. . . . “
While Chaser relies on the piercing Border Collie “stare” to wear down her target:
“You are feeling weaker and weaker. . . . you cannot resist me. . . . Must. Give. Turkey. NOW.”
And now, as we sit at the precipice of financial change (oh, wait, wrong cliff)–I mean the precipice of a New Year, I thought I’d also share some of my favorite recipes from 2012 that would be perfect to serve on January 1st or beyond. (I’ll reserve the Candida Update I’d planned until next month, as that requires more of the aforementioned perkiness than I can muster at the moment).
Here are some of my favorite guest-worthy recipes from 2012 that would work well on New Year’s Day:
Wishing you all a very happy 2013, with a hope that it will be a healthy one for all of us, too. As always, I’m so glad that you’ve spent some time here over the past twelve months. . . and look forward to hearing more from you all in the New Year.