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This recipe is vegan and soy-free, so it is a great alternative for those who cannot tolerate these foods.

The recipe can be halved and used as a spread for the Pumpkin Oat Loaf I published on September 14.  This was my original intent when I created this recipe.  The result was so rich that I knew it would work perfectly as the filling for a pumpkin pie.

Vegan, Soy-free, Pumpkin Pie Filling

2 cups pecans

2 cups pumpkin purée (either homemade or canned)

2 tblsp lemon juice

2 tblsp white miso

1/3 cup agave syrup (maple syrup is also ok)

¾ tsp vanilla

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

¾ tsp ground cloves

¾ tsp ground nutmeg

Place pecans in a food processor and combine until a butter is formed.  This will take about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients to the food processor, and combine.  Spoon mixture into your favourite pie crust, top with coconut or soy whipped cream, and enjoy.

This recipe can be halved and served as a dip as well.

So first of all I’d like to point out that for once I have a decent photograph posted here.  I’ve learned that it’s not actually entirely my fault that all of my photos turn out, well, um, poorly.  I used a decent camera for the first time last night and, well, you can judge the results for yourself.  Now that I have something decent to use hopefully the quality of photos you find here will improve.  And now you can all see what these items actually look like (i.e. like it wasn’t some back-alley bakery pumping these things out).

This works really well as a breakfast bread.  It is a relatively milk-tasting bread.  Some toppings that would go really well on this would be an apple butter or pumpkin spice butter (published here in a separate post on September 21).

The reason I am now using oats in my recipes is because I’ve finally found some gluten-free oats here in Canada!  This is big news.  Really.  The brand is Only Oats and they are available at Bulk Barn stores across Canada.  For more info or to make a purchase visit their website http://www.onlyoats.ca/ 

I still tend to use eggs in my recipes, especially when I’m making a loaf like this or a cake.  The lift that eggs give to baked goods simply can’t be mimicked.  However, if you cannot tolerate eggs you can use an egg substitute such as flax meal, apple sauce, or Ener-g Egg Replacer. 

In general, if a recipe calls for only one or two eggs, they can be replaced without compromising the integrity of the recipe.  If more than two eggs are called for, it becomes more and more difficult to replace them.  However, substitutes can be found, although a little bit of experimentation may be necessary.

Pumpkin Oat Bread

Inspired by a recipe found in Living Without magazine

1 cup sorghum or quinoa flour¼ cup tapioca starch

¼ cup arrowroot

¼ cup brown rice flour

1 tblsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp nutmeg½ tsp xanthan gum

1 cup boiling water

½ cup gluten free rolled oats or quinoa flakes

3 eggs (or 2 eggs and increase xanthan gum to 1 tsp – 3 eggs really holds it together well)

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tblsp canola oil

¼ cup honey

2 tblsp pumpkin or flax seeds

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.   Place one of the oven racks into the middle of the oven.

Lightly grease 1 large loaf pan with your oil of choice. 

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the oats and let mixture stand for 20 minutes.  If using quinoa flakes, let stand for 5 minutes.  If there is any easily apparent excess water in the bowl after the soaking period, gently drain the water off.  Do not press down on the oats to remove excess water.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and xanthan gum.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, oil, and honey.  Stir in the oat mixture. 

Do not combine the liquid and the dry ingredients until you are ready to pop them into the oven.  Combining the wet and dry ingredients immediately activates the baking soda and the life it gives the loaf will be lost.

Stir the wet mixture into dry ingredients until just moistened and fully combined.

Spoon batter into prepared pans and sprinkle pumpkin/flax seeds on top.  Place pans in preheated oven and bake for 35- 40 minutes until done.  The top will be golden brown and your kitchen will be filled with the aroma of the spices.  It is easy to underbake this loaf, so I recommend leaving it in for 5 for minutes, no matter how long you have been baking it.

Cool in the pan for 1 hour before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Use a knife to loosen the sides from the pan before turning out.  Try to lift the loaf out of the pan to avoid losing seeds.  Cool the loaf completely before cutting (otherwise it will crumble and simply fall apart), approximately 3 – 4 hours.

Ok, this is a very basic post.  But I learned this today and thought I should share.

I have tried cooking gluten-free noodles in the past, but they always turn out really gummy.  So gummy that they are truly unappetizing.

The method is very simple, and the real trick is not to boil them.  I’m going to guess that a lot of you already know this little bit of information, but for those of you who don’t I thought I would share.  The great thing about gluten-free noodles is that they give you more freedom to experiment in the kitchen.

Cooking Gluten-free Noodles

Bring approximately 3 litres of water to a boil either on the stovetop or in the microwave. 

Once the water has come to a boil remove from the heat and add the noodles to the water.  Place the lid on the pot and let the noodles steep for 10 minutes.  Stir the noodles occasionally so they don’t stick together.

Drain the noodles and either use them immediately or put them in the fridge for later use.  The noodles can be stir-fried or simply re-heated with your choice of sauces and toppings.

This is yet another recipe that really couldn’t be easier to make, yet has maximum impact on the tastebuds!  Additionally, the recipe can be easily modified to match your specific tastes and allergies.

You can use any type of nut butter you desire; Sunbutter also works really well, but something like tahini would be too runny.

You can use any type of milk that you prefer, as long as it is not flavoured.

You can use any type of chocolate that you like.

The measurements used in the recipe are really the only things that are fixed – everything else can be modified.

It is not necessary to own a mini-cupcake pan.  You can just purchase the little mini-liners and fill them carefully by hand.  The only real benefit of the mini-cupcake pan itself is that it makes the job less messy.

Maggie’s Peanut Butter Cups

2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate that has been cut up into smaller pieces (this makes melting the chocolate that much easier)

1/4 cup milk of choice

1/4 tsp flaky salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt

Approximately 3/4 cup nut butter of choice

Line mini-cupcake pan with mini-cupcake liners. 

Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave for approximately 1 – 1 1/2 minutes.  Keep a very close eye on the chocolate in the microwave, as it can burn very easily.  Even if the chocolate does not look like it has melted, take it out of the microwave after 1 minute and stir it around; sometimes this is all it takes to complete the process.  If you prefer, you can melt the chocolate in a double-boiler on the stove-top.

Once the chocolate has melted, add your milk of choice and salt.  Stir to combine.

Using 2 teaspoons, spoon half a teaspoon of chocolate into each mini-cupcake liner.  Once this step has been completed, add 3/4 – 1 teaspoon of nut butter to each mini-cupcake.  Use the rest of the chocolate to cover the tops of each cup.

Refrigerate the cups until they are set (at least two hours).

If you are using a nut butter that is not very runny, you can do the same thing that I did.  I filled each liner about half-way with chocolate, then simply took 3/4 teaspoon of the nut butter, formed it very lightly in my hands into a ball, and pushed it down into the centre of the cup.  This eliminates a lot of fussing about.  However, this will only work if the nut butter is not runny.

If your nut butter is more on the liquid side, the above method will not work because the butter just sits on top of the chocolate.  The end result is a runny cup…a bit like the one I have pictured above!

Okay, the title of this post is a bit misleading.  These aren’t actually doughnuts at all.  However, they really do remind me of timbits, both in size and in taste! 

As always, you are welcome to substitute the almonds for any kind of nut that you prefer.  Macadamia nuts would be a nice, neutral (expensive!) substitute.  Although pecans would probably be my second choice here, simply because of their natural sweetness, and I don’t think they would overpower the dates the way that something like peanuts or walnuts would.  Nuts without skins are best, however if you can’t find them blanched then it is not a huge deal.  The skins will add some bitterness to the balls, so you might want to consider adding a few more dates to try and offset this.  Or add a few drops of stevia, if you feel it’s necessary.

This is probably the simplest recipe I have posted yet.  There are only three ingredients, and all you have to do is pop things in the food processor.  Make sure your food processor is in good working order, though, as this will give it quite a workout. 

These are great on their own, but I like to have mine with coffee, either in the morning or as an after dinner treat.  The bitterness of the coffee is offset by the sweetness of the dates. 

Please forgive my terrible photography yet again.

Date and Almond Snacks

1 ½ cups blanched almonds

3 cups dates, preferably medjool

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Process almonds in food processor until almond butter is formed.  This will take approximately 5 – 7 minutes.  Add dates, process for another 5 – 7 minutes.  The mixture will be very sticky, almost like marzipan in texture.

Roll into ½ inch balls.  Place coconut in a small bowl.  Roll balls in coconut, pressing lightly to make sure the coconut adheres to the surface.

Makes approximately 30 – 40 balls.

*Alternatively, you can roll the balls in ground nuts of your choice.

In Safe Food, Marion Nestle continues to examine the ways in which the food industry contintues to avoid taking responsiblity for the quality of the food that they sell to consumers. 

Nestle’s main argument is that the food industry uses science as a means of deflecting the criticisms of their procedures.  Instead of responding to the social and political criticisms of some of their techniques (their refusal to screen for pathogens, for example), food producers use science to convince the public that their practices are safe.  By doing so, food producers deny that the decisions they make are based on potential profit, rather than on public safety.  

Marion Nestle is not really the same kind of author as Micheal Pollen or Eric Schlosser.  She writes from the position of an insider, rather than as a consumer.  Nestle has spent most of her career working with (or in some cases working for) the agencies and companies that she writes about here.  Rather than looking at the end product, Nestle examines the ways in which the law fails to provide adequate support for the production of safe food. 

At the same time, she examines the ways in which food producers do their best to block new legislation that may affect their methods and sales.  There are relatively simple methods that food producers could adapt to help to reduce the outbreaks of many food-bourne illnesses.  However, food producers are incredibly reluctant to do so, because they do not want their products to be perceived as inherently un-safe.  Their primary purpose is to safeguard their profits.

I enjoy reading Nestle looks at the food industry from the opposite end of the spectrum.  She takes a look at the ways in which industry uses existing law and government connections to maintain the status quo, rather than the specific products produced that cause ill-health.  As an insider, Nestle is able to give real insight into the hows and whys of food production and government legislation surrounding food production.  I recommend this book (and any other book by Nestle) to anyone who is interested in thinking about the ways in which legislation fails to protect the public from contaminated food.

This is, without exception, my favourite dish of all time.I love this dish for more reasons than I can count.  When I was in India, I ate it absolutely every single day for dinner.  I’d sit down at whatever restaurant I was at, thoughtfully look at the menu, and then order the palak paneer with a side of naan.  This went on for over a month, mind you. 

So, yes, I love it.  It is the perfect combination of spicy, savoury, and healthy.  Every time I eat palak paneer I am 100% satisfied. 

You have more than likely experienced this dish at Indian restaurants around town.  Compared to my version, the stuff you find in restaurants here is like some watered-down version of the truth. 

To be perfectly honest, I cannot vouch for this recipe’s authenticity in any way; it’s really an amalgam of recipes and preferences that I’ve just accumulated over the years.  But I can tell you that it’s about a million times better than any Palak Paneer I’ve had in any Indian restaurant here, ever. 

There are just massive amounts of ginger and garlic in this recipe.  They are cooked only very briefly, so they maintain the majority of their health benefits.  Both are exceedingly good for your overall health, and a staple in Chinese medicine for a number of ailments.  Both garlic and ginger have more uses than I can recount here.  In general however, ginger is used to soothe the digestive tract, while garlic is used to support the immune system.

The more exotic items in this recipe (paneer, garam masala, ghee) can all be easily found at any Indian grocery.  Nowadays, some can even be found at your local Loblaws or similar mega-store.  Do your best to find the freshest possible spices.

If you’re not too keen on too much heat in your dish, simply cut down on the number of jalepenos.  If you still find the dish is too spicy, simply eat it with extra naan or rice.  To be honest, this is a rather spicy version, so you might want to take it a bit easy, in the beginning.

 

 

Palak Paneer

2  inches fresh ginger, roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, approximately 8 – 10 cloves, roughly chopped

2 – 3 jalapenos, seeds removed, chopped

¼ cup + ½ cup water

12oz (3/4 of a lb.) Spinach, or other green of choice such as Mustard Greens

1-2 tblsp ghee or oil of choice for frying

½ tsp salt

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped or grated

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp garam masala

1/4  tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 package Paneer (approximately 450g) cut into ¼ inch cubes – paneer can be found at just about any Indian Grocery.  (You can also make your own, if you are feeling particularly ambitious).

*If desired, the paneer can be substituted with either tofu or quesa fresco.  As a last resort, ricotta that has been baked for about 40 minutes in a 450°C oven is also a suitable substitute (the ricotta should be firm but not dry). 

Roughly chop the ginger, jalapenos, and garlic cloves.  Once chopped, put them into either a blender or food processor.  Add a ¼ cup of water, and process until all of ingredients have been fully pulverized.

Place the spinach on a large pan on the stove with a few tablespoons of water.  At about medium heat, cook the spinach until it is slightly wilted.  As soon as the majority of the spinach has wilted, remove the pan from the heat.

Using tongs, add the spinach and any water left in the pan to the blender or food processor.  Then add the remaining ½ cup of water.  Pulverize the mixture until it turns into a creamy green sauce.  This should take less than a minute.

In the pan used to steam the spinach, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat.  Add the salt and onions to the pan once the oil has heated.  Sauté the onions until they are translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes.  

Add all of the spices (cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and turmeric) to the pan, combine fully, and cook very briefly (approximately 30 seconds).  Remove the pan from the heat, and add the spinach sauce to the pan.  Mix to combine all of the ingredients. 

Add the paneer, and let the dish sit for 5 -10 minutes before serving.  This dish keeps well in the fridge for over about a week.

*UPDATE – for a creamier effect, add soy milk or cream to the pan at the very end.  The amount you use is up to you, but I’d start with about 1/4 cup.