I know I promised a final installment to the Dole Summit recaps (and I’ll be posting that one next), but I just had to share this amazing smoothie that I guzzledcreated this morning!
After spending the past three days with a miserable cold (damn you, recirculated airline air), I woke up today feeling marginally better and craving something substantial–but also comforting. This drink hit the mark perfectly, since it combines a few of my very favorite things: breakfast; chocolate; my VitaMix; quick; and easy. I mean, with a quintet like that, how can you go wrong?** For me, it’s just what the doctor naturopath ordered.
I adapted this recipe from one I came across in Ladies Home Journalmagazine (May 2012 issue). I loved the concept of a mocha/nutella mix, but wasn’t crazy about the 305 calories, 15 grams (!) of fat, 6 grams of fiber and only 7 grams of protein in each serving.
My version replaces banana with pear (and if you can do banana, please feel free); coffee with Dandy blend; and nutella with the base ingredients of hazelnuts and raw cacao. I also used some chocolate rice protein powder to increase the nutritional content.
This low glycemic, dairy-free and whole foods version clocks in at 275 calories per serving, with 11.5 grams of fat, 12 grams of fiber and 12.5 grams of protein. I’d say that’s an improvement. . . and it seems to have given the boot to my cold today, too. Way better than a musical serenade, any time.
This smoothie is a perfect combination of dessert-like flavors with nutritional value. Quick and easy, it provides a good balance of healthy fats, carbs and protein. I keep cored, quartered pears on hand in the freezer for just this type of recipe.
1/2 pear, frozen
2/3 cup (160 ml) rice milk, plain or chocolate
2/3 cup (160 ml) water (use ice if your pear isn’t frozen)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) whole hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1-1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) chia seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) Dandy blend or other instant coffee substitute
1 serving chocolate rice protein powder (I use Nutri-Biotic)
** Actually, there is one quintet I’d rather be greeted with in the morning (which we heard live a few years ago). But giventhat the HH was born without a “romance gene,” I’d say there’s no chance he’ll be arranging a private concert for me any time soon.
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I grew up in a home where my two sisters and I learned to bake before our birthdays hit the double digits. Before we learned to read, before we wore a training bra, before we could drive a car, we were baking. As young as four or five, we’d be enlisted to help stir a cake batter, knead a streusel dough or lick the beaters from my mom’s “famous” chiffon cake. So I was pretty stoked when I rented my first apartment at age twenty and finally had my own kitchen, which meant I could bake to my heart’s content.
And yet, bizarrely, the first foodstuff I prepared in the new, steamer trunk-sized kitchen, was not a cake. Nor was it cookies, brownies, a pie, a soufflé–or any other baked good. No, the first dish I cooked up in the miniature kitchen was split pea soup with ham.
Split pea soup with–what?!?!
I know. It seems weird to me, too. You see, my dad (who owned a butcher shop at the time) wanted to give me something pragmatic as a housewarming gift. So he gave me a cooked ham. Was it because my boyfriend back then–for whom I was itching to cook–loved ham? (Unlikely, since my dad disapproved of said bf). Was it because the meat was pre-cooked, and, therefore, could survive the trip between Montreal and Windsor, where I returned after my long weekend at home? (Again, probably not. My parents had sent along much more perishable items, such as fresh cheeses or homemade chocolate chip cookies, before that). Was it because I’d been home for Easter Weekend, and my dad’s butcher shop was burdened with an abundance of unsold ham left over after the holiday, which he chose to pawn off onsave from the garbage bin generously bestow upon me? (Bingo).
And so, I dutifully cooked the pea soup, took one taste and determined that I abhorred it, then donated the entire batch to my boyfriend and his housemates. (It was a perfectly lovely ham and pea soup, I’m sure, but even back then I wasn’t exactly fussy on meat).
I then decided I’d turn to what I knew best–baking! In the first week alone, I’d already mixed up all my favorites: brownies (dense, moist, fudgy, with whole squares of Caramilk chocolate bars embedded within); my mom’s recipe for “Surprise Crackles” cookies (also known as “Chocolate Crinkles“–a rich, melty, puffed chocolate cookie coated in powdered sugar, which “crackles” into mosaic patterns as they bake); Tunnel of Fudge cake (a precursor to chocolate lava cake and a recipe I’d copied down during a summer at my cousin’s in Boston); the Nurse’s recipe for Nanaimo Bars (chewy coconut and chocolate bars); and the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookies, which I had first learned to make alongside my dad’s Great Aunt Yetta.
And then, semi-comatose from my cacao overdose, I began to look further afield than chocolate.
One of my classmates at the time, a pseudo-hippie with a health foodie streak (as I recall she introduced me to true bran muffins, the first time I’d had them made with actual wheat bran rather than All-Bran cereal) brought over a pan of apple crisp/crumble. For someone whose previous reaction to apple desserts had been tepid at best, I found that crumble to be a revelation. Who knew that when you combined apples with sweet, cinnamony, oatmeal-and-butter topping that they’d be transformed into something ethereal?
I must admit that I went on a bit of an apple crumble binge (do we detect a pattern here?). I tried mixing apples with raisins for more sweetness and textural variety (not a fave); using several different types of apples in one crisp (lovely); and experimenting with various proportions of apple-to-crisp-topping (I definitely preferred a heavier topping-to-apple ratio).
What I loved about the recipe was that you didn’t really need a recipe: just grate up some apples, add cinnamon and sugar, then pinch together your flour,sugar and butter, add oats and cinnamon to taste, sprinkle, bake, and eat. I could mix it up, bake it and have sugary juices trailing down my chin all within 40 minutes. And best of all, it made a delicious cold breakfast the next morning. Much more forgiving than cakes or cookies, crumble could be infinitely altered and the proportions changed without too much negative impact.
This particular version goes beyond apple alone, to combine our first fruit with pear and cranberries, our SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient this month. The trio works particularly well together, the solid, robust apple providing structure to the meltingly soft pear and the sometimes too-tart cranberry. Yet mixed together, they create a beautiful synergy. The crumble topping itself is also grain-free, but believe me, you won’t miss the oats. Once baked, it browns and its sweetness deepens to a perfectly crisp and crumbly topping. We loved this dessert. Next time, I’d heed the HH’s suggestion and top it with some coconut whipped cream as well. Divine!
I’ve had my own kitchen for quite some time by now, and it’s true, the novelty has worn off. But baking? Well, that never gets old.
This is another one of those “desserts-that-can-be-breakfast.” With the abundance of fall fruit and limited grains, this dish makes a great way to start your day. Add a bit more protein and you’re all set!
30 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp (45 ml) water
For the Fililng:
2 medium pears, washed, cored and diced
2 medium sweet apples (I used Honeycrisp), washed, cored and diced
1 cup (240 ml) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground ginger
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
40 drops (about 1/2 tsp or 2.5 ml) plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Grease a casserole or soufflé dish with nonstick spray or coconut oil.
Make the topping: place the coconut sugar, walnuts, almonds, coconut flour, potato starch, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles a fine meal with no pieces of nuts visible.
In a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil. Whisk in the stevia, vanilla and water. Pour the mixture in a ring around the dry ingredients in the processor and pulse until it all come together. It should look like moist clumps. Set aside.
Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss the pear, apple and cranberries together with the cinnamon and ginger. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, lemon juice and stevia and stir until the coconut sugar begins to dissolve. Drizzle over the fruit in the bowl and then toss again to coat evenly.
Turn the fruit mixture into the casserole dish and sprinkle with the crumble topping. Press down gently on the topping.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-60 minutes (depending on the depth of your pan, you will need more or less time for the fruit to cook), rotating the dish about halway through, until the topping is deeply browned and the fruit is soft. Serve immediately or at room temperature with a little coconut whipped cream. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen.
Note: for earlier stages of the ACD, you can replace the coconut sugar with more stevia. Note that your crumble won’t hold together as well, however.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you likely know a few things about me already: I adore my Girls (and you’re not too shabby, either, HH); I abhor winter and all its accoutrements (and–*sob*–it is just around the corner!); though it’s been many years, I still harbor resentment toward Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants); I’m a proud Canadian (who dreams of visiting Australia and being on The Ellen Show); and I love chocolate.
Let me elaborate on that last one a bit: I like vanilla. I really enjoy mint. And I even sometimes crave coconut.
But I love chocolate.
In fact, I’m even a little afraid to do a search on the word “chocolate” on this blog–it most likely features in all of my posts, somewhere or other. Well, maybe not the dog ones. Dogs aren’t allowed to eat chocolate. But wait, since I just told you they’re not allowed to eat chocolate, I guess that counts as mentioning chocolate, doesn’t it? And by mentioning chocolate, that qualifies as being featured on this blog post, too, doesn’t it? Even though, of course, those particular posts wouldn’t necessarily mean that I was cooking with chocolate, no; but the mere mention– (“Zip it, Mum. We get it: you like chocolate. Now, forget about that canine poison and give us some of this carob fudge instead, would you please?”)
Ahem. Well, I do realize I get pretty worked up about chocolate. My favorite all-time food (and I still imagine this to be the case, even though I haven’t had any in over a decade) is milk chocolate. Next up is anything chocolate-flavored, such as buttercream frosting, cake, cupcakes, cookies, etc. The only chocolate-based food I wasn’t too fond of, until recently, was chocolate ice cream.
Not fond of chocolate ice cream?? Are you mad, woman? (The answer to that question may indeed be, “yes,” but it has nothing to do with the ice cream.).
Leaving my mental state aside, I wasn’t even a fan of ice cream at all until I started the ACD. It’s amazing how having to cut out most grains will shift your dessert allegiance from cake and cookies to pudding, fruit-based treats, fudge, and ice cream. No matter; ACD-friendly, gluten free, sugar free, vegan ice cream is the Bomb!
And since I seem to be on an ice cream roll these days after perfecting that Caramel Ice Cream I posted about last week, I decided to go a step further and attempt an ACD-friendly chocolate ice cream.
Really, today’s recipe is just chocolate ice cream on a stick. Very firm chocolate ice cream, but chocolate ice cream nonetheless. I first learned to love fudgsicles (and, by extension, chocolate ice cream) in my twenties when I was in my “Weight Watchers” phase (technically, “Weight Watchers for the Fifth Time” phase). Along with my Weight Watchers Mousse for dinner, I remember being thrilled to discover diet Fudgesicles–”with only 60 calories each!” On nights when I really craved something sweet and chocolatey, I’d crack open the box of the frozen treats and savor one (okay–so, five).
I have no idea how many calories these babies provide–I stopped counting calories years ago–but I can tell you, I liked them a whole lot more than the diet Fudgesicles of yore. Dipped in chocolate, they make a fantastically decadent-tasting treat. The HH raved over the combination of bittersweet chocolate coating and thick, creamy, pillowy chocolate interior. In creating these, I also discovered that I much prefer the raw cacao powder (versus unsweetened cocoa powder) in the base here, as its slightly fruity undertones–along with both pear and avocado–results in one of the richest ice cream bases you’ve ever encountered, yet one that maintains its creaminess even when solid. (I’m limiting my consumption to one at a time these days, however.)
Of course, if you prefer to enjoy the mixture as regular ice cream, simply freeze the base in smaller portions and then use my “no ice cream maker required” method for almost-instant chocolate gratification. Or, instead of freezing, just pour the freshly mixed base into your regular ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions. The same chocolate coating can be drizzled on top for a wonderful “instant chocolate shell.”
However you serve these up, they offer an unmitigated hit of chocolate. Which is exactly what I’d like. . . pretty much any time at all.
These chocolate-coated fudgesicles are a classic summer treat. If you prefer ice cream, simply skip the sticks and pour into your ice cream maker, or else freeze and then cut the frozen mixture into chunks before creating softserve in your food processor, using the method described below. You can top with the chocolate coating later–or not–as you like.
For the fudgesicles (this also makes great ice cream; see directions below):
2 cups (480 ml) full-fat canned coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond, soy or coconut milk (in a carton)
1/2 cup (120 ml) raw cacao powder, to your taste (regular cocoa is okay, but might require more sweetener)
1/2 cup (120 ml) pear purée (can be fresh or frozen)
1 medium just-ripe avocado, peeled and pitted (be sure it’s not over ripe!)
Set out 12-15 popsicle molds. (For ice cream, set 12 silicone muffin liners in a muffin pan or line a 9-inch (22.5 cm) square pan with plastic wrap and set aside.)
Make the Fudgesicles (or ice cream): Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth and creamy. Pour into the popsicle molds, insert the sticks and allow to freeze completely, 6 hours to overnight. (For ice cream, divide the mixture evenly among the muffin liners or pour into the pan. Freeze until firm (3-5 hours), then peel off the liners and place the “muffins” in a plastic ziploc bag in the freezer until ready to use. For the pan, invert onto a cutting board, cut into 9 squares, and place the squares in a ziploc bag until ready to use.)
Once your fudgesicles are frozen, make the coating: Place all coating ingredients in a small, heavy-bottomed pot and heat over lowest possible heat, stirring constantly, until almost melted. Remove from heat, allow to sit 30 seconds, then stir again until all the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before using.
To coat the fudgesicles: Set two soup bowls side by side on your counter. Working with one fudgesicle at a time, hold the fudgesicle over one of the bowls and pour the chocolate evenly over it, rotating the fudgesicle so all sides are coated, allowing any excess chocolate to fall into the bowl under the fudgesicle. Turn it upside down briefly to allow any excess chocolate to drip off, then hold right side up until the chocolate has hardened. Once hard, place the fudgesicle back in the freezer (I kept them all on a plate until they were all prepared, then put them all in a large plastic container).
Scrape all the chocolate sauce into one bowl. Repeat with another fudgesicle, holding this one over the empty bowl, allowing excess chocolate sauce to drip into the bowl under the fudgesicle. Keep scraping all the chocolate into one bowl in order to pour it onto the fudgesicle over the other, empty, bowl. By the time you reach the last fudgesicle, you may need to spread the chocolate directly onto it using a spatula or the back of a spoon as you may not have enough to pour. In that case, you can spread and then drizzle fancy designs with the leftovers (as in the photo, below). Makes 12-15 fudgesicles. Will keep, frozen in a covered container, up to 2 weeks.
The wonderful folks at iHerb have, once again, offered a $50 shopping spree to one lucky DDD winner! (iHerb is an online shop for all of your supplement and health-food needs. They carry an extensive array of products that you can order for delivery to your home). Read all the details about the giveaway at the bottom of this post (look down. . . .look waaaaay down), but first I want to share my review of the latest products they sent to me: nutritional powders from Madre Labs.
As soon as I read the ingredients list on the Midori Greens jar from Madre Labs, I was in love. I mean, which holistic nutritionist doesn’t want to read the words, “freeze dried marine phytoplankton”? (Okay, we holistic nutritionists are weird that way). But I’ve been taking spirulina (another type of green algae) with my flax and/or chia daily for almost a decade (what the HH calls “Green Slime,” though Chaser loves the stuff) and was more than ready for a little change of pace. And the Midori Greens offered some truly heavy-duty antioxidant superfoods.
Ingredients include organic Japanese matcha green tea (and you know how much I love my matcha tea–as I mentioned here); wildcrafted wasabi; organic ashitaba (Angelica Keiskei Koidzme), which is also known as the “king of vegetables” and “longevity herb”; organic field-grown whole grass blend (with wheatgrass, barleygrass and alfalfa); herb & vegetable leaf blend (Nettles, Parsley, Kale & Spinach); aqua-marine blend (Chlorella & Freeze Dried Marine Phytoplankton); and beet juice powder. These are all amazing ingredients with fierce antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are known to help keep your cells in optimum condition, to keep your immune function strong and to counteract health-depleting free radicals.
In fact, all of Madre Labs products are made with the highest quality whole ingredients, and it’s clear that these guys have done their homework. Their “superfood and nutraceutical” line includes “nutrigenomics”–that is, “the study of how the foods we consume affect our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients. . . in the foods we eat.” In other words, they believe in using “food as medicine”–exactly the way holistic nutritionists (such as yours truly) do.
The other powder I tried, Acai Heart, contains more familiar ingredients that are all superstars when it comes to supporting heart health: acai berries, pomegranate, freeze-dried beet juice, and a resveratrol blend (the antioxidant found in red wine–though of course there’s no alcohol in this powder!). Mixed with some frozen strawberries, almond milk, chia seeds and stevia, it made a refreshing afternoon imbibement:
Ah, but back to the greens powder! I must admit to you all that I wasn’t exactly enamored of the taste when I tried to drink it on its own (or mixed with simple juice or almond milk). I know that other reviewers have found the taste “neutral,” but something about my tastebuds could really sense the earthy, slightly bitter wheatgrass undertones (I actually really enjoy freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice, but the freezedried flavor doesn’t agree with me). What to do? My desire to benefit from the amazing nutritional qualities of the powder overruled my initial gustatory reluctance. I decided that I had to find a way to create a smoothie that I loved using the Midori Greens.
And guess what? I SUCCEEDED! This combination of the powder, raw cacao powder, avocado and mesquite is a perfect cloak for the greens. All you’ll taste is a slightly chocolate, slightly malted, sweet and appealing drink.
And your cells, no doubt, will thank you.
Chocolate Malted Smoothie
A great mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a rich, creamy dessert. Add ice for a cool summer sipper out on the patio.
1/2 just-ripe avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 fresh or frozen pear, cut in chunks (I used frozen for a very rich, creamy texture)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) raw cacao powder (you can use regular cocoa, but the flavor will be more bitter)
1 tsp (5 ml) mesquite powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) chia seeds (see note)
1-1/3 cups (320 ml) plain or vanilla unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 scoop Madre Labs Midori Greens powder, or your favorite greens powder
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Drink immediately. Makes 1 large or 2 smaller servings.
NOTE: If you don’t have a high-powered blender, grind the chia seeds in a coffee grinder before adding them to the blender.
The lovely folks at iHerb are offering a $50 shopping spree PLUS a jar of either Midori Greens OR Acai Heart to one lucky DDD reader!
The contest is open worldwide, as long as iHerb ships to your country–whoo hoo! (You can check the iHerb website to see if they ship to your home country). International readers, please note: if there are any extra customs fees or duties on your prize, you will be responsible for paying them. I have received several packages from iHerb sent via air mail over the past 2 years (I’m in Canada) and have never been charged extra fees or duties).
Here’s how to enter:
To be eligible to enter the giveaway, you’ll need to register at iHerb. It’s free and there’s no obligation to buy anything. Just go here and sign up. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me that you did so.
Second and subsequent entries:
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following:
Browse through the Madre Labs page on iHerb, then come back here and tell me which product you think has the weirdest-sounding ingredient (I thought “freeze dried marine phytoplankton” was pretty good) [UPDATE: I've been going through the comments so far and am loving the ingredients you've all found--giggling like crazy over here!];
Browse through the rest of the iHerb site, then come back here and tell me what you’d buy with your $50 shopping spree if you win;
Follow me on twitter, then come back and leave a comment telling me you did so (I will receive an email notice that you signed up); or tweet about this giveaway on twitter (use @rickiheller so I’ll see it);
“Like” the DDD page on Facebook, then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so;
“Like” the iHerb page on Facebook, then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so;
Follow iHerb on twitter, then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so;
The contest will remain open until midnight my time on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011, after which I’ll randomly choose a winner and announce it on the blog. Please note: it’s up to you to check whether or not you won, then contact me if you did. I”m sorry, but I will not be emailing the winner. If the winner doesn’t claim her/his prize within a week, I’ll choose someone else.
I suppose anyone who devotes one third of their blog’s name to “dessert” must really love the sweet stuff. (Uh, yeah). A quick glance at my blog’s recipe index will reveal that, ACD be damned, I’m not willing to give up my sweet treats.
You’ll also notice that stevia has been my savior ever since I began the anti candida diet. As I mentioned in yesterday’s SOS kickoff post, it’s up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and also boasts some pretty impressive health properties. For someone unwilling to consume sucralose, aspartame or other unnatural chemical alternatives, stevia is a perfect means to add sweetness without calories to food. Used in conjunction with other natural sweeteners, it can boost a recipe’s sweet quotient while lowering overall calories–and allow you to continue to enjoy perfectly decadent desserts.
Enter this coconut ice cream, the final recipe in my dinner party trifecta (along with the sushi pizza and tempeh bourguignon). I made it last week for a couple of friends who don’t have any dietary restrictions. I served it over a big slice of the Ultra Fudgy Brownies from Sweet Freedom. Both of them (along with the HH) gobbled it up, entirely unaware that they were eating something “healthy.” (Happily, I was able to enjoy a big serving of the ice cream, too, with fresh blueberries, since it’s ACD-friendly).
Because it contains ingredients that are actually good for you, I felt no compunction whatsoever about having some ice cream atop waffles for brunch a few days later. The HH was very appreciative, too.
As you can see, this recipe contains this month’s SOS ingredient, stevia, as well as last month’s (coconut oil). That’s because I had actually intended this as another coconut oil recipe, but, as often happens these days, got behind in my blogging. No matter; like so many other recipes in my life, it coincidentally contains stevia as well–which makes it a perfect anti-candida dessert.
“Mum, it’s also a perfect canine dessert, you know. How about we help clean up those plates once you’re done?”
[Coconut ice cream atop a wholegrain waffle from my upcoming ebook, Top of the Morning: ACD Recipes without Sugar, Gluten, Eggs or Dairy.]
This ice cream is extremely rich tasting, smooth and silky, with pronounced coconut flavor that isn’t overpowering. For a more subtle coconut contribution, swirl in some chocolate sauce, melted nut butter or sugar-free jam after the ice cream is ready to serve.
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond, rice or coconut milk (for coconut milk, use the kind in a carton, not a can)
1 cup (150 g) raw natural cashews, soaked in room temperature water 6-12 hours and drained
1 ripe medium pear, cored and cut in chunks
1 pkg (12 oz or 350 g) firm or extra firm silken tofu (I used Mori Nu)
1/2 cup (45 g) dry shredded unsweetened coconut
2 Tbsp (60 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut (palm) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar or food grade vegetable glycerin
10-15 drops plain or vanilla stevia, to your taste (I used NuNaturals)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure coconut extract, optional
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (such as a VitaMix) and blend until perfectly smooth. This may take a while (if using a VitaMix, you’ll need to push the ingredients down with the wand until everything comes together). If using a regular blender, start with the wet ingredients and then add the coconut and cashews last; blend in small batches if necessary.
Pour the mixture into silicone muffin cups or small plastic containers and freeze until solid. Remove from the cups or containers and store in plastic freezer bags until ready to use.
To make the ice cream: For each serving, remove one muffin cup (or equivalent sized piece) of frozen cream from the freezer and, using a large, sharp knife, cut it into 5 or 6 pieces. Place the pieces in the bowl of a food processor and process until it comes together in a ball (at first it will break apart and resemble breadcrumbs, but eventually it will come together). Stop the processor and spread out the mixture evenly in the bowl, then process again if necessary until it just begins to smooth out (avoid overprocessing or the mixture will be too soft). Scoop into bowls and serve. The full recipe makes 4-6 servings.
With all of my 175 students’ assignments, exams and final marks finally submitted–I am now officially on holidays until 2011–whoo hoo! That makes me one very celebratory gal. Par-tay, I say!
And how about having everything all ready to start cooking my big holiday meal?
Um, no. (Insert sheepish expression here).
“Mum, did you say, ‘sheep?’ I’m half border collie, you know. And just being off-leash at the trail is enough of a party for me!”
In an ideal world, I would not only know exactly which dishes I’m cooking, but would have prepared an entire rehearsal Christmas dinner already, expressly for the purpose of photographing and writing about it for this blog (excuse me while I guffaw).
For the past two years, the HH and I have shared an Indian feast at Christmastime with the CFO, who’s made the trek from Montreal. The CFO isn’t able to join us this year, and I have a feeling that the multi-course Indian buffet will also make itself scarce, at least for this year.
I do have a couple of great ideas for potential dishes I’ve been wanting to try (and about which I’ll post, post-holidays.) But what with the HH’s accident; frenzied shopping for a new car; a fire at the campus where I teach resulting in only TWO days to mark all my students’ exams and submit them; a last-minute invitation to appear on a local daytime TV show (which happened this very morning)–I haven’t yet decided exactly what we’ll be eating at the festive table. Throw in a couple of doctor’s appointments, a visit to the vet, a haircut and typical holiday-time social activities, and there has been precious little time to cook.
If you’re like me and still thinking about what to prepare, I thought I’d share this list of some of my favorite holiday-worthy recipes (many of these are not yet listed in the Recipe Index–updating it is one of my new year’s projects!).
All are ACD-friendly recipes (ie, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, egg free, low glycemic) unless otherwise specified.
And to everyone who’s celebrating this time of year: have a wonderful holiday season!
[This year, I decided to offer a "Festive Freebies" series in which I give away some of my favorite food products. . . hand-picked by me! These are things I already love and actually eat (or use) regularly, and which I'd love to share with you. Here's my fourth Festive Freebie--click here to enter!]
All the way from Australia–our winner is SUSAN from Kittens Gone Lentil! Here’s Susan’s comment:
The book I am most keen to get my hands on at the moment (though there are several) is Party Vegan by Robin Robertson. I love her books and recipes, and I love menu plans and putting together themed dinners, so this book just sounds like heaven!
CONGRATULATIONS, Susan! I can’t guarantee you’ll get it by the holidays (Australia is pretty far away from here. . . ) but I’ll be ordering your book as soon as I hear from you with your full name and address and you can Party Vegan through the new year! Please email me at dietdessertdogsATgmailDOTcom before Friday to receive your book!
These treats would make a great holiday gift for anyone who’s new to the kitchen, whose busy schedule prohibits too much baking, or who is interested in healthier, yet still deliciously homemade-tasting, cookies. And they are one of my all-time favorites.
Click here to read my review and enter the giveaway. [Note: I am required by the rules of BlogHer to place my giveaway on a separate page. Sorry for the extra clicks, everyone!]
III. A Quick Smoothie Recipe
I’ll be back later with last month’s SOS Roundup and those winners, too, but in the meantime, I’ve got another breakfast recipe for y’all. Breakfast (as you might recall) is my favorite meal of the day, and I never tire of new breakfast options. Here’s a really quick and refreshing smoothie recipe I enjoyed earlier this morning.
I was feeling like oatmeal when I first got up today [groaner alert]–funny, I don’t look like oatmeal. . . well, actually, maybe that’s not entirely true these days–but knew I just didn’t have the time to cook it up. So I concocted a festive smoothie that includes a touch of oats along with a protein kick and some seasonal cranberries. Yes–raw cranberries. The result was creamy, filling, and tart yet not lip-puckering. It offered just enough sweetness for my taste with only a few drops of stevia, but sweeten as you like. The recipe will be included in my upcoming ebook on ACD-friendly breakfasts.
This is a great smoothie for those in Stage 2 of the anti-candida diet. It provides a good amount of protein to offset the carbs in the smoothie, and since cranberries don’t “count” as a fruit, the smoothie includes the natural sweetness of pear as well.
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh or frozen unsweetened cranberries
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened rice, almond or soy milk
small handful raw walnut halves (about 6)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown rice protein powder (not flavored or with added ingredients–I use NutriBiotic, which is rice protein and nothing else)
I hope you’re all having a great long weekend! I am thoroughly enjoying the last vestiges of the summer holiday. (What?? Summer is over? Back to school and sweaters and crinkly leaves on the ground and pelting rain and mud and paw prints all over the carpet and frigid mornings and seeing your breath as you huddle toward the car–in the dark–and cranking up the heat and pulling out the jackets and scarves and gloves and snow–snow!–and ah, me, it’s winter and—)
Sigh. Sorry about that little outburst. I’ve regained my composure, now.
Besides, now that I’m an adult (chronologically, anyway), I do realize that autumn isn’t all bad. There’s the flavorful fall produce, and hand knit sweaters (which are so good at covering up those midsection lumps and bumps) and corduroy, and crisp, fresh air that sharpens everything, as if the houses and trees and automobiles have been outlined with a thin tracing of ink.
Oh, and a bevvy of holidays.
When I was growing up, we shared a duplex with my aunt’s family just upstairs. Because Aunty M (no relation to The Wizard of Oz) was almost 20 years older than my mom, and because our grandparents had died before we were born, we kids always thought of Aunty M as more ”grandmother” than “aunt.” And let me tell you, nothing could compare to holidays at Grandma’s house.
The otherwise utilitarian kitchen table, a long wooden rectangle stained and etched from years of daily use, would be pushed into the living room (there was no dining room), with what looked like its metal-and-plastic progeny–the folding card table–set beside it (that was where the kids sat, of course). Freshly laundered and pressed white tablecloths were shaken out and smoothed into place, intersecting lines permanently engrained in their weave from having sat, folded neatly in blocks in the linen closet, for the remainder of the year.
On these occasions, my real grandmother’s silverware was fetched from the basement, a lone “K” engraved proudly on the handle of each knife, fork and spoon. We had actual napkins at the table for once, and soda (or “ginger ale,” as we referred to all types of carbonated beverages) was served in glass pitchers rather than directly from the plastic bottles. Glasses were set out and glistened, scalloped pickle plates were laid out, and the entire house began to buzz with anticipation.
My mother and my aunt would spend days preparing in the kitchen as we children wandered in and out, plucking raisins from cookie dough or absconding with whole chunks of semisweet chocolate. We’d peek at the huge pots like mysterious cauldrons bubbling and spurting on the stovetop, never venturing too close. At same time, the oven toiled all day as it transformed jiggly pans into cakes, cookies, or kugels, warming the kitchen and spreading the aroma of chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and apple throughout the house.
Holidays were family occasions, shared with as many relatives as possible. I loved it when my cousin CBC and her family made the trek from Boston, since her kids were close to my age and their arrival always meant days filled with giggling, plays in the back yard, a co-conspirator with whom to tease the CFO, and extra treats for everyone. Despite anything that had preceded, the holiday dinners themselves were always happy affairs; adults were jovial and relaxed, we kids were allowed to indulge in second helpings of dessert, and everyone embraced the festive atmosphere. Whether it was a holiday, anniversary, or birthday celebration, we all came together to enjoy each other’s company along with the feast.
(When the HH and I were first together, I was both shocked and appalled to discover that he grew up in a home that didn’t celebrate holidays. No big family gatherings; no special meals; no gifts. “All days are special,” was his (otherwise normal) dad’s philosophy. “Every day is a holiday.” In fact, the HH was so accustomed to his family’s indifference about such things that he didn’t bother to get me a birthday present that first year we shared a house. Oh, yes. Hysteria [mine] ensued. Contrition [his] followed closely behind. And no, he hasn’t made the same mistake since.)
This year, I was feeling a little disheartened at the prospect of those imminent celebrations and Christmas just around the corner (for which I now supply a list of desired items to the HH every year) precisely because food has always played such an integral role in our family gatherings. I hadn’t anticipated still being on the ACD by now, you see. No feasting? No wine with dinner? No–dessert?!
It was almost enough to make me jump on the HH’s ”let’s just ignore the date” bandwagon. But then I realized two things: first, we could still make the days special. We can still set a beautiful table and make a point of sharing the evening with friends or family. We can still enjoy nature’s bounty. And I can still enjoy special-occasion foods; they just won’t be the same ones I used to eat as a child.
In fact, once I began to think about it, I was amazed at how many foods have found their way back into my diet.
First, there was chocolate–albeit unsweetened–but chocolate nonetheless. In Stage Two, the ACD gave me fruit. Previously forbidden apples (and pears, and berries, and peaches and nectarines) were welcomed back to the menu. Finally, as the symptoms continue to abate (they’re about 95% cleared up, now) the universe continues to bestow more and more low glycemic sweeteners. And the Universe said, “Let there be coconut sugar. And with it, let there be the occasional agave nectar.” And so, life is good.
This pear and cranberry cornmeal cake is the first cake I concocted with coconut sugar. Since corn is so often a symbol of autumn harvest, I thought cornmeal would be a perfect ingredient to include in this celebration dessert. Like the coconut sugar, corn is an “occasional” food on the ACD. Pears are abundant right now, and cranberries are quintessential harbingers of the holidays and the festive season.
Like sparklers on a birthday cake, the cranberries in this moist, dense sweet add glitter and verve, a tangy counterpart to the smooth sweetness of the pear chunks dotted throughout. The cake presents a surprisingly fine crumb, and the addition of lemon zest brightens everything. In fact, this dessert was so good that I took a first bite and immediately thought, “Oh, no, I’m not supposed to be eating this on the ACD” before realizing that “Oh, yes, I am allowed this on the ACD!”
Well, in moderation. It is a special occasion food, after all. But then again, despite what the HH’s father may have thought, it’s not every day we celebrate a holiday.
For those of you who celebrate, have a Happy Rosh Hashanah!
I thought this cake would be an ideal submission to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event. Hop over and take a look at all the other delicious creations!
DDD News and Updates:
There’s a New (FREE!) Ebook from the lovely Alisa of Go Dairy Free and One Frugal Foodie. When she noticed the sorry state of back-to-school foods in her area, Alisa decided to do something about it and recruited a group of food bloggers to contribute recipes for an e-cookbook. The book, Smart School Time Recipes, contains over 125 recipes (a few from yours truly!) for healthy, kid-friendly breakfasts, snacks, lunches and more! You can download the cookbook directly from Alisa’s blog, here. Have I mentioned that it’s FREE?
And don’t forget there’s my new ebook, Desserts without Compromise, for $9.95 (available here). Or buy both ebooks for just $16.95. Great for holiday meals and desserts if you’re on a special diet!
I also wrote a guest post last week for Amy’s blog, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. Amy’s recipes and mine have a lot in common. Somehow the perfect recipe match brought to mind the perfect life partner. . . so that’s what I wrote about! Check out the post here. I had lots of fun writing it.
DDD Gets Around:
Again this week, I’ve been honored that several DDD recipes were prepared or mentioned by other bloggers or writers! Here are some of the recipes you’ve all made or blogged about:
This cake is the perfect combination of light yet substantial with sweet yet tart. It’s a great way to end a meal or carry you through in between one to the next. Feel free to substitute apples for the pears here.
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp (2.5 to 5 ml) pure stevia powder (I used NuNaturals)
3/4 cup (360 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond or soy milk
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground chia seeds
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic, melted
1-1/2 cups (200 g) Bob’s Red Mill all purpose gluten free flour (or your own blend)
1/4 cup (35 g) brown rice flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/2 cup (85 g) cornmeal, preferably organic
2 pears, cored and diced (I didn’t bother to peel, but go ahead if you wish)
1 cup (240 ml) fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a ten inch (25 cm) flan pan, springrorm pan or pie plate with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, stevia, milk, vinegar, chia, vanilla and lemon zest until the sugar has dissolved. Add the coconut oil and whisk to blend. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the all purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and xanthan gum. Add the cornmeal and stir together to distribute everything evenly.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir to blend well. Fold in the pears and cranberries. Turn the batter into prepared pan and gently smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8-10 servings. May be frozen.
After reading through the comments on yesterday’s SOS Challenge reveal post (this month’s ingredient is MINT and Kim and I can’t wait to see what y’all cook up with it!), I realized I may have sounded perhaps a wee bit whiney about everything that’s going on in my life right now. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I was on the precipice of a nervous breakdown (well, no more than usual, anyway)
It’s true, I’ve got a lot going on right now. But of course, I am also fully aware that it’s (mostly) of my own doing, too, as I keep adding more and more activities to my schedule. Like so many women out there (and let’s face it, this is primarily a problem for women), I must learn to say “no” more often. For my own physical and mental health. For peace of mind. For the others I care about in my life (because what good will I be to them if I’m a babbling puddle of melting goo?).
(“Um, Mum, sorry to have to break it to you, but you have no trouble saying “NO!” to us. None whatsoever. And anyway, what’s so wrong about gently picking that leftover chocolate cupcake out of the garbage? You and Dad weren’t going to eat it.”)
In fact, my overflowing schedule was actually pivotal in this month’s choice of SOS ingredient; requesting mint-based recipes was really a selfish choice on my part. After considering the overflowing patch of mint at the side of our house, I decided that I needed some creative inspiration to find recipes that would use it up. And so, I’m counting on all of you to save me by providing a huge array of awesome recipes! So settle back, settle into your chef persona and start creating–use fresh, dried, or mint extract–your choice!
In the meantime, here’s my mint ice cream recipe, as promised. This is something I created so that those of us on the ACD (or with dairy, egg, gluten or sugar dietary restrictions) can enjoy ice cream in the summer, too. Imagine: no more silent (or, in my case, not so silent) suffering while your honey and friends gobble up the “real” thing! This verseion is easy and, if you’ve got a food processor, really quick, too. The texture is silken smooth, creamy, and has just the right kick of mint.
So go ahead–it’s real ice cream, and you can enjoy yourself with a clear conscience. Now, if only I could clear my schedule as well.
And even though this ice cream truly does taste more than “slightly” indulgent, I’m submitting the recipe to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event to showcase the healthy aspect of the recipe. Hop over to Amy’s blog to see what else is on the list!
Easy Mint Carob (or Chocolate) Chip Ice Cream (suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 can (400 ml or 14 oz) full-fat organic coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen)
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure mint extract, optional (but it really brings out the flavor)
Pinch fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened carob or chocolate chips (1 Tbsp/15 ml per serving)
Line an 8” (20 cm) square pan with two pieces of waxed paper, overlapping paper in either direction to cover all sides of the pan; or place 10 silicon muffin cups in a muffin tin; or set out three silicon ice-cube trays.
Place all ingredients except carob chips in a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Pour into the pan, muffin cups or ice cube trays and freeze until firm. Pop the mixture out of the muffin cups or ice cube trays and place in a clean food-grade plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use. If using the square pan, remove from pan by flipping out onto a cutting board as soon as the mixture is frozen solid, about 4 hours, and peeling off the waxed paper. Cut into 8-10 equal squares; place squares in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use.
To make the ice cream, remove the desired servings from the freezer bag (one muffin cup per serving, or 4 ice cubes, or one square from the square pan) and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles the texture of bread crumbs, then scrape down sides and continue to process just until it begins to form a ball. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the mixture in the processor bowl to cover the bottom; sprinkle with the reserved carob chips (enough for the number of servings selected). Replace the processor cover and pulse 5-10 times, just enough to break up most of the chips and distribute them through the mixture. Scoop into bowls and eat immediately. Makes 8 servings.
[EDIT, May 2011: I'm linking up this recipe to Brittany's weekly Seasonal Sundays event, as it features mint!]
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It seems like another lifetime now, but the year after my starter marriage ended, I lived in a townhouse with my dear friend Gemini I. Shortly after the furniture was placed and the boxes unpacked, we began to negotiate the rules of housework, grocery shopping, and TV usage when we got to chatting about food. I remember asking, “Do you like cous cous?” (In those days, I ate it all the time, though it’s pretty much verboten now since I don’t eat wheat). I was taken aback by her answer, which, at the time, I found a little odd.
“Well, I suppose I do,” she responded. “There are times when I’ll cook it every day for two weeks, but then I might not touch it or even think of it for 8 or 9 months.” I couldn’t imagine ignoring a food I actually enjoyed for that long (and chocolate? Well, that one would be calculated in hours–nay, minutes–rather than days or weeks).
These days, though, I understand exactly what she meant. When one maintains a food blog, the quest for the novel and atypical dish never ends. This pursuit sometimes leaves old favorites languishing in the dust–or at the back of the cupboard (or both, in the case of our cupboard). On the other hand, I might whip up something new from a recipe I found on another blog, and enjoy it so much that the HH and I will feast on said dish several times during the next week. And the following week. In fact, we might just consume that comestible every second or third day for two to three weeks (which does provide several useful photo-ops, after all)–and then dump it unceremoniously, just as Chaser dumps her squeaky ball (ad nauseum, I might add) at my feet. Once I’ve gotten my fill, I move on, seeking the next culinary encounter.
Well, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I often find myself with a surplus of overripe pears in the house, as I did a couple of evenings ago. Since the HH refuses to share in the burden of eating fruit (hey! That could be the title of Michael Pollan’s next tome: The Burden of Eating Fruit: An Exposition on Overripe Organic Produce), I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes with pears, before they become too soft and squishy, too oozy, too yellow-flecked-with-brown. Our freezer is already bursting with chopped, frozen pears, so I needed to cook up these babies–and fast.
It was then I remembered an erstwhile favorite, one that we consumed for a spell and then promptly forgot. It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Green by Flip Shelton. From what I understand, Shelton is kind of like an Aussie Rachael Ray, and isn’t taken very seriously as a chef (what’s that bogan doing cooking biscuits on the barbie? What a dag! Well, she’s still ace to me. G’day!). The recipe sounds like an incongruous combination of ingredients (though not as incongruous as radishes, olives and grapefruit), mixing pear and parsnip with sautéed leeks, but the final result is incredibly tasty. Fragrant, slightly sweet from the pears and slightly peppery from the parsnip, with a velvety smooth, light texture. Yum-O!
And since this soup features both fruit and, well, soup, I’m submitting it to this months’ No Croutons Required, a monthly event hosted alternately by Holler (this month) and Lisa, which asks us to cook up either a salad or soup with fruit as a main ingredient.
Oh, and before I sign off, I really must thank all of you for being so understanding and so polite. I mean, it’s painfully evident that I was a total bust at the ACD this time round (okay, maybe not a TOTAL bust–I did last almost 2 weeks). And yet you’ve all had the diplomacy and tact not to mention it! For that, I am grateful.
And while I’ve decided this may not have been the best time to embark on an even more restrictive diet (school starting up, cold weather coming, cookbook calling), I do still try to eat foods that would fit within the parameters of the diet as often as possible, perhaps minus one or two ingredients. Well, turns out this fantastic soup could easily qualify as an anti-candida meal, even without trying (if you’re following the version that permits non-tropical fruits, that is). It’s also a very simple, very nourishing concoction that offers fabulous fiber from the pears, a hit of extra calcium from the parsnips and a satisfying early autumn tummy-warming. You may even decide to make it again and again–at least, for a couple of weeks or so.
It may not be entirely photogenic, but this easy, quick recipe produces a satisfying soup. The combination of slightly sweet, slightly peppery, and slightly creamy works beautifully here.
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) olive oil
2 large pears, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
2 pints (1 liter) vegetable stock [I've even used the powder in a pinch]
sea salt and crushed black pepper, to taste
Warm the oil over low heat in a heavy-based saucepan. Sweat the pears, parsnips, and leek, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until they start to soften. (Basically, you want them soft but not brown). I covered the pot to help speed this process.
Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the ingredients are soft.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending with an immersion blender; or pour into a regular blender in batches and purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot. The recipe says this serves two, but I’ve found it’s more like 4 servings. May be frozen.