Asian Slaw

Yes, those are peanuts in the picture.  No, I don’t usually eat those.  Sunflower seeds are a better choice.  The second time I made this I did have sunflower seeds and used those.  I liked it better.  I came up with this idea after eating at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.  I get the same salad every time I go there.  Their version likely has soy in it and now that I think about it probably wheat because they use regular soy sauce.  Hmmm and I wonder what they sweeten it with.  I know it isn’t honey… Crap!  The restaurant also adds daikon radish, shrimp and BBQ pork (and does not have the seaweed in it).  I want to try that at home too but that will require some pre-planning.  Does ayone have a good recipe for Vietnamese BBQ pork??   This salad is sweet and salty and was whipped up in 10 minutes.  I almost didn’t post this recipe.  I realize that most people don’t keep Thai basil and arame in their house as a staple. I don’t expect this to be a very popular post.  However, this is currently my favorite salad and if you happen to have access to the ingredients I highly recommend it.

Asian Slaw

Half a head of green cabbage – shredded

1 english cucumber with the skin on – quartered and sliced

fresh Thai basil – handful

fresh mint – handful

big pinch of dried arame (seaweed)

sunflower seeds as a topping

Dressing

1/4 cup EVOO

3 T Braggs liquid aminos or coconut aminos

1 T sesame oil

1/4 cup unsweetened rice vinegar

3-4 T raw honey

Soak the arame in room temperature water.  It softens in just a few minutes and doubles or triples in size.  Next make your dressing.  Combine all ingredients in another bowl and whisk together until well blended.  In your food processor using the slicing blade shred half a head of cabbage.  You could do this by hand too if you are less lazy than I.  Then slice your english cucumber lengthwise into quarters and feed it through the food processor (or slice by hand).  Very coarsely chop the Thai basil and mint.  Add cabbage, basil, cucumber, mint and arame to a large bowl.  Mix everything together.  Dress the salad as you need it.  The dressing keeps well in the fridge.  Top with a handful of sunflower seeds.

This post was shared at http://www.realfoodwholehealth.com/2012/01/fresh-bites-friday-january-27-2012/

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Cranberry Salad

This is too good to not find the time to share.  This recipe is inspired by my friend Stephanie who makes something similar.  Her version has the same basic ingredients but has jello in it.  It is great but I wanted to try something sugar free.  It was her version of this that first introduced me to eating raw cranberries.  Honestly that had never occured to me.  I had only ever had cranberries as cranberry sauce.  I made this a few days ago and it worked out to be a very big bowl. I figured I would never get to the bottom of it and that it was unlikely that anyone else in my family would eat it.  I was wrong on all sides of that thought.  It was all gone in less than 2 days.  True, it was me that ate 90% of it but that may have had something to do with the fact that I hid the bowl in the back of the fridge so it wouldn’t attract attention.  It was super quick to make.  I want to hurry and write this up so I can go make more.  I was thinking about Thanksgiving dinners as I ate this.  We all have experienced the coma that follows the big dinner.  I was always told that it was the tryptophan so something like that in the turkey that makes us sleepy.  I think it is the carbs.  Think about it.  The usual dinner includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, marshmallows, gravy, cranberry sauce… and that is all before the dessert.  For me anyway that all spells carb coma.  This salad contains all the flavors of fall without all the carbs.  Enjoy.  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Salad

1 12 oz bag whole cranberries

4 peeled oranges cut into chunks

3 small apples – cored (skin left on if they are organic)

3/4 cup pecan pieces

1/4 of a large pomegranate

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1  T honey (optional)

In a large bowl food processor add the cranberries, apples, oranges and pecans.  Pulse until you get a consistency you like.  Transfer into a large bowl and add pomegranate, cinnamon, cloves and honey if you are using it.  Toss to combine.  Adjust to desired sweetness with honey.

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate

Ok, I’ve been MIA forever and now I come back with this?! I suspect that I will lose several followers. Sorry. (Hi!! to all my new ones!)  I must tell you though that I have been firmly in the “I hate liver” camp my whole life. I understand completely if you just click on by. I get it. I do. I have been reading over and over in so many places that liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods available. (Here is some info on calves liver.) And it’s cheap. For those reasons alone I have been making an effort to try liver again. My first try was beef liver. I prepped it, soaked it, fried it with bacon and onions. Still, it was liver. It was bad. I took one bite and that was the end of it. I just couldn’t get it down. Hats off to those of you who can. The taste was almost tolerable but it was that texture. Ugh! I had given up when I read that some people who hate beef liver like chicken liver. So maybe it was worth trying. I made chicken liver pate. Most, if not all, of the recipes I came across had butter in it. Mine had to be dairy free. The first time I made it I was pleased. I actually liked it.  I’ve been a closet pate maker and consumer for the past 6 months. Now I am stepping out of the closet and sharing with you my recipe. I’ve tweaked and fine tuned it. And I must say, it is pretty damn amazing, despite the unappetizing picture! Really. It is. I promise. Please try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Liver Pate

2 T bacon fat
1 lb organic chicken livers, trimmed (yes, this part I hate)
1/2 large onion, chopped
3/4 tsp sea salt (I like salty things. If you don’t, scale this back a bit.)
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground sage
 1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cream sherry 
1 very fresh organic egg (optional)

In a large saute pan heat bacon fat. (You do save your bacon fat don’t you?) Add chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken livers, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, bay and cinnamon. Saute on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes until onions are well cooked. Add the cream sherry and increase heat to medium high. Simmer until nearly all liquid has reduced. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and process until pate is very smooth. If you like a softer more spreadable pate like I do add a very fresh egg and process again until well blended. If you have concerns about raw eggs or can’t get anything but a store egg just skip it.  Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.  Serve cold with celery sticks or my Grain Free Rosemary Almond Flax Crackers.

This post was entered in Monday Mania over at The Healthy Home Economist 8/1/11.

How To Make Your Own Almond Flour

Can anyone tell me what makes a man tick?  Because I am at a loss.  My husband whom I think is (usually) a genius leaves me scratching my  head.  Why?  Let me tell you how my day started.  We have 2 of iPod touches, the ones that have Face to Face which is video calling.  First just let me say that I hate the idea of video calling.  I don’t want to be bothered worrying about how I look just to make a phone call.  It’s great for the kids and Grandma and for the kids and my husband or I while at work.  However it’s not great when the iPod rings at 5:20 am because my husband, who was at work, thought I would be awake and he wanted to demonstrate to a male co-worker how the thing worked.  Seriously?!  I ignored the call and tried to go back to sleep.  Then he called back at 6:30.  I had just woke up and was barely upright or even thinking yet.  I answer the call and while waiting to connect see myself on the screen and ponder what has become of me.  Can you now imagine how mortified I am when the call connects and there is Ron’s co-worker staring back at me.  Seriously, what was my husband thinking?!  Now I know better than to show my face when I answer a call.      

One of my favorite blogs is Elana’s Pantry.  Nearly everything this woman posts looks great.  For me the problem is that she uses a lot of almond flour.  I love almond flour, just not the price.  She recommends one particular brand, Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour.  While I’m sure it is a great product, I just can’t see myself spending that kind of money on flour.  As I have said before on this blog, we grind a lot of our own flours.  We grind amaranth, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice and corn.  We save a TON of  money doing it this way.  Since I am leaning toward a grain free diet lately it got me wondering if I could make my own almond flour.   Turns out that yes, I can.  It’s quick and easy.  I have used this almond flour for cookies, muffins and pancakes.  So far everything I have tried with it has worked out great.  I have never purchased almond flour so I guess I have nothing to compare mine too but I expect that mine is moister so I need to use a bit less oil in whatever recipe I am using if the recipe calls for commercial almond flour.  The only things you need to make this is a coffee grinder (preferably not one that you use coffee beans for) and a wire mesh sieve.   

Here’s how I do it.  

Larger Pieces Sifted Out

Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of whole raw almonds to the coffee grinder.  Grind until you have a fine meal.  When you hear the grinder make a different noise and the almond meal inside is not moving well anymore, stop.  If you continue you will be making chunky almond butter.  Pour the almond meal into a sieve which is sitting in a large bowl.  Shake out the almond flour into the bowl.  The larger meal and some bigger pieces will be left over.  Just leave them in the bowl for now and repeat the process until you have the amount you need.  Then add back into the grinder all those small pieces and the courser meal and grind again.   

Closer Look

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I must get at my day now.  The kids found the small head of a salamander in the living room this morning.  I have got to locate the rest of him.  Yup, that’s desert life!

Gluten Free Cheesy Hamburger Buns

  

Cheesy GF Hamburger Buns

   

The hardest thing about eating gluten free is the bread.  There is no doubt about that.  It’s not just the sandwich bread but the hamburger buns and hot dog buns.  I’ve bought Kinnikinnick hamburger buns to take to a family BBQ so that the kid’s meal would look just like everyone elses.  The buns however were more than a dollar a piece and were dry and brittle.  Dry, as in, get stuck in your throat.  They were terribly dry and mealy.  We all ended up pushing the buns to the sides of our plates and eating our burgers without the buns.  I have got the gf bread thing figured out and I am sure that my regular bread recipe would make great buns.  However, that recipe is yeast based and would require rise time and more work than I am usually up for on burger night.  I also have an amazing recipe for cheese buns which are a soft and delicate, decadent dinner roll.  We had been missing hamburger buns.  Burgers without a bun just aren’t the same.  I have to give credit to my husband for this idea.  He suggested using the cheesy dinner rolls as hamburger buns.  The recipe as it was wouldn’t be sturdy enough to hold a hamburger and all the toppings so I made some adjustments.  They turned out to be fantastic.  However, if you don’t love cheese, move along.  You won’t like these hamburger buns if you don’t love cheese.  They are moist, tender, cheesy, and flavorful.   Best yet, for me anyway, was the ease of preparation.  No yeast means no wait.  Just mix it all up, divide, roll into balls and bake.  These are so good if I were to be able to choose between these and a wheat bun, I would choose these cheese buns.    

Cheesy Hamburger Buns   

1 cup tapioca flour    

1 cup white rice flour    

4 cups grated mozzarella cheese    

2 tsp baking powder    

1 tsp salt    

2 eggs    

    

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grate cheese and leave it out to come to room temperature.  (I do not use the pre-grated cheese and I am not sure it would work as well.  The blocks of mozzarella is what I use and find it to mix well and turn creamy very easily with just the warmth of your hands.)  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands.  Work it until it turns into a soft dough, the cheese shreds are not visible and you have one cohesive dough.  This only takes 3-5 minutes (but I live in the Arizona desert so it might take longer if you are in a colder climate)  To divide the dough into 6 equal parts I divide the dough into 2 equal pieces.  Then divide those into 3 equal pieces.  Roll into uniform balls and put each ball into the cup of an ungreased oversized muffin tin.  Bake for 25 minutes until the edges start to brown.  Serve these cheesy buns hot.  In the unlikely event you have leftovers they do reheat very well with a few seconds in the microwave.  Enjoy.  You can thank me later!  😉    

Burger Better Than Wheat

Thai Mahi Mahi

Thai Mahi Mahi

I’ve been wanting to incorporate more fish into our diet.  However, I need to broaden my horizons and come up with different ways to prepare it.  I will usually make fried fish and chips using Mahi Mahi.  I like it because it is really mild tasting and firm so it holds up well when frying.  It’s really good that way but recently I tried Mahi Mahi with a Thai flair.  It was really really good for those days when you want something a bit lighter than a fried fish.  I served it with brown basmati rice, amaranth, cilantro and lime.   

Thai Mahi Mahi

2 T coconut oil

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 onion, finely minced

1 T ginger, grated

1 red pepper, julienned

1 can organic coconut milk

4 kafir lime leaves (If you don’t have them try using lime zest however these lime leaves are what gives a lot of Thai food that characteristic flavor.  They are sooo good.)

2 T fish sauce

5 pieces Mahi Mahi

large handful of baby spinach leaves

lime juice from one lime

In a large saute pan heat coconut oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and onion.  Saute for approximately 5 minutes until soft.  Add ginger and red pepper.  Saute for another couple of minutes.  Add coconut milk, lime leaves and fish sauce.  Stir to combine.  Add Mahi Mahi without overlapping.  Spoon sauce over top so that the fish is submersed so it will poach.  Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until fish is done.  Prior to serving mix in a handful of baby spinach leaves and squeeze juice of one lime over top.   To serve put one scoop of rice on plate and put fish and sauce over top.  Serves 5.

Brown Basmati Rice, Amaranth, Cilantro and Lime

1 cup brown basmati rice

1/3 cup amaranth grains

2 cups water

salt to taste

handful of chopped cilantro

juice from one lime

In a rice cooker add rice, amaranth and water.  When it is finished cooking add salt, cilantro and lime juice.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

In my never-ending quest to get my kids (and husband) to eat their veggies I came up with a great idea.  The girls love to shop.  (They do not get that trait from me.  We’ll just leave it at that. ) They love to go to a store, pick something new out, take it to the cashier, pay for it and take it home (and then play with it for about 3 minutes).  So a couple of days ago I was out with the girls and had to stop by our usual grocery store, Sprouts.  It is a natural/whole foods/farmers market type store.  They have a sizable produce department and carry many things I have never seen before  and lots of stuff I have never tried before.  I probably do have a pretty varied diet and likely eat better than maybe the typical American but it is easy to get comfortable in buying the same things over and over.  I wanted to try to step out of my comfort zone and try something different.  I told the girls on the way to the store that they were both allowed to choose something from the produce department.  The only rules were that they had to choose a vegetable and it had to be one we have never had before.  They were so excited to pick something out.  I was hoping that if they chose it and then we decided on how to prepare it together and then cooked it together that maybe they would be more enthusiastic about eating it.  I was right!  Sage choose 2 large leeks.  Rori choose flowering kale, which was really pretty.  I didn’t even know what it was.  I had to look at the receipt to figure it out.   With the flowering kale I made a pork stir fry that included onion, garlic, ginger, orange bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, soy sauce and fish sauce.  Oh, and lots of coconut oil.  I served that on top of quinoa.  It was really good.  I won’t bother with a recipe because it is a stir fry.  Who follows a recipe for that?  For the leeks we decided on soup.  How have I never had leeks before?  They are so good.  Sandy and a bugger to clean up but yummy!  I made this soup without following a recipe and I didn’t measure anything but I did want to write down what I did because it turned out to be the best soup I have ever had.  It is unbelievable!  Once I started to make my own soups from scratch it is hard to stomach one that comes from a can.  Not only do they taste bad and have a bunch of stuff in it that I don’t want (have you ever read the label for a can of soup?) but every single Campbell’s soup has gluten in it.  (Unless of course that had changed since the last time I tried to buy one a couple of years ago.)

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

3 strips of thick cut bacon

2 T coconut oil (I use expeller pressed so it does not have the flavor or coconut)

2 large leeks – ends cut off, washed really well and coarsely chopped

5 cloves of garlic minced

5 smallish starchy potatoes – peeled and cubed

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme – stem removed

2 bay leaves

4-5 cups chicken broth (mine was homemade)

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup sour cream or plain greek style yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot on medium heat and add diced bacon.  Render fat and cook until a bit crispy.  Remove bacon and set aside.  To bacon fat in pot add coconut oil and heat.  Add chopped leeks, garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook, without browning, for approx 10 minutes.   Add chicken broth, potatoes, thyme and bay leaves.  Simmer for about 30-45 minutes until potatoes are soft.  Remove bay leaves.  Using an immersion blender puree until creamy and free of any lumps.  Add half and half and sour cream or yogurt. Blend to combine.   Adjust seasons with salt and pepper.   Garnish with bacon bits.  And there you have it, green goodness in a bowl.