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coconut macaroons

Easter and Eggs.  Rebirth. Resurrection. Eternal life. Spring. Baby chicks. Bunnies. Asparagus. Hollandaise. Macaroons.

Last week I bought a giant bunch of gorgeous asparagus, and made several batches of hollandaise sauce to adorn it.  So delicious and an easy way to get choline rich egg yolks, and CLA rich butter into our diet.  Only using the egg yolks in hollandaise left me with a jar of egg whites.  In the past that used to mean that an angel food cake was in my future, but now that I steer clear of gluten, I came up with a new plan.

6 Egg whites

2/3 cup honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 cups unsweetened wide flake coconut (if you want to read more about the many health benefits of coconut click here)

Into my vitamix (which serves me very well, but you could do this in a mixer or with a bowl and a whiskl) I put the egg whites.  I blended on low power for a minute or so, then drizzled in the honey while it was on.  I kept blending for another minute or so.  The point is not to “beat the egg whites” into a meringue, but they did become smooth, silky and well blended.  Add the salt and vanilla until incorporated.  Pour the egg white mixture over your coconut (in a bowl) and mix by hand.  Let this “batter” sit in the refrigerator for 30 min or more.  It will stiffen up a bit and make it easier to shape into cookies.  Try not to keep opening the refrigerator door to sample the mixture (like I did).  I hear raw egg whites are not good for you.  To shape the cookies you can scoop them with a small ice cream scoop, or use a tablespoon, or do it with your hands (I did), but the idea is to press the coconut together with some enthusiasm.  The will tend to want to fall apart. I greased the baking sheet with coconut oil, but parchment paper or a silpat would have been much better. Bake in a low oven (I have a convection oven, so mine was at 250 degrees-if you have a regular oven try 300) until they are all toasty brown.  After you take them out of the oven let them cool on the cookie sheet.  If you try to move them right away they will fall apart.  After they cooled I found they were difficult to get off the pan, even though I greased it.  So I (pretty pleased with my brilliance) gently heated the bottom of the cookie sheet on a burner for just a few seconds and they came right off.  I was quite delighted with how they came out.  Chewy, sweet, perfect.  Enjoy!  I could imagine instead of balls, you could shape them into little nests to hide a chocolate egg or a dollop of lemon curd.

Root Love

I’ve been doing a little hibernating lately.  It only seems appropriate during the shortest days of the year, and in soggy Portland.  My menu these days reflects my desire for warming, grounding, nourishing foods.

Chicken and root vegetables in white wine

Into my dutch oven start some chicken thighs cooking in white wine, added golden beets, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, rutabaga, garlic cloves.   Simmer in white wine with bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary, peppercorns, whole fennel seed, and a can of diced tomatoes, until the chicken falls off the bone, and the roots are tender.

Eat up and then go back to your good book by the fire!

roots and thighs

Grain Free Goji Berry Granola

I wanted to find a solution to what to eat with greek yogurt when I need a quick and easy snack/dessert.  Having discovered that I am much healthier and happier when I avoid grains in my diet, I’ve been missing my homemade granola.

seeds and such

Into a bowl I started tossing seeds and such.  Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped almonds, fennel seeds, ground cinnamon.  I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter and honey together, and tossed with the seeds until they were coated.

Next I spread it out on a sheet tray and baked in a slow oven (300)  until toasty and almost done.  Then I added some large flake coconut and put it back in the oven for a few minutes (watch it closely!) until toasty brown.

"granola"

After the mixture cooled, I added a few handfuls of dried goji berries (AKA wolfberries).  While I don’t usually indulge in dried fruit because it delivers such a big shot of sugar, goji berries have actually been helpful in balancing blood sugar, they are high in antioxidants, and protect the brain and the eyes.  If you are interested in reading more about goji berries click here.

Grain Free, Goji Granola

Store in an airtight container.  Eat as a snack or sprinkled on greek yogurt with berries.  Mmmmm.

Muffin beginnings

Still on my domestic roll here:

Grain Free Banana Raspberry Muffins

Makes 10 large muffins

6 eggs

1 banana, mashed up in the eggs

vanilla (I used a lot- like 2-3 tablespoons.  yes, really!)

cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons coconut butter, melted (not coconut oil, but the actually fleshy buttery coconut spread-really hard at room temperature, but delicious and spreadable if you heat it up)

1/2 cup honey, melted

Mix together the wet ingredients.

almonds and coconut flour

1 cup whole, raw almonds

1/2 cup coconut flour

Grind finely in food processor.

1/4 cup flax seeds

Add to wet ingredients.

dry and wet

Mix together and add frozen berries of your choice.  I used raspberries, and I put in about 1 cup and a half.  Fresh berries would work too, but it is January.

Spoon into buttered muffin pan, bake at 325 until done.  I know, that’s skirting the issue.  But it’s true!  You want to check them after about 15 minutes and see how they are coming along.  Then every 10 min or so after that.  You can tell that they are done when they are browned on top, maybe cracking a little, come out of the muffin tin easily.  By all means, break one open and test it!

These muffins are high in protein, good fats, and fiber.  And fairly low in sugar.  They keep well and are a handy snack to have around!  I’m going back to my den now!

raspberry muffins

pumpkin pie

I love my pumpkin pie, but I am determined this year to not have regrets about what I ate over the holidays!  How many times do I need to learn that the recovery time is not really worth the few bites of gluten laden decadence?  For those of you looking for a delicious alternative to feeling regret, read on!  I started with a real pumpkin because my CSA gives them to me!  But working with canned pumpkin is just fine too.  The only thing is you won’t have the yummy roasted pumpkin seeds to snack on while you are waiting for the pie to cool!

Start by baking a pumpkin, if that’s your plan.

pumpkin

pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop out the guts and seeds of the pumpkin.

pumpkin guts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake face down on a sheet pan at 350 degrees until soft.  Let cool before scooping the flesh out of the shell into a measuring cup.

baked pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, separate the pumpkin guts from the pumpkin seeds.  Rinse the seeds and roast with a little oil (I used delicious, nutritious coconut oil which I got here) until you hear popping sounds coming from the oven.  They should be crunchy and irresistible, especially with good salt.  Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition.  Known to be a good source of minerals including zinc and magnesium as well as protein and essential fatty acids.  Research suggests they are useful for prostate health, bone density, parasites, arthritis and healthy blood lipids.  Find out more here.

pumpkin seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a food processor make the crust:

3/4 cup raw pecans or pumpkin seeds (grind ‘em up real good in the food processor)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup coconut flour (find out why I’m such a fan of the coconut here and here)

1/2 tsp good salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup  coconut sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 free range egg

 

Process dry stuff, add the coconut oil and process.  Then add egg and pulse until it comes together.  It will be sticky.

Press into a pie plate or tart pan.  Freeze for 15-20 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees until lightly browned.

crust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next mix up the filling in the food processor:

Filling:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup (or less)

1/2 tsp good salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

pinch of cayenne

pinch of ground cloves

1 can coconut milk (not LITE)

Blend everything together until it is a smooth puree.  Pour into partially baked pie crust.  Tap to release bubbles.

unbaked custard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake 45-55 minutes at 325. Be sure to let it cool before you serve it.

Delicious ending to a healthy fall meal, but honestly it makes a darn good breakfast too!

 

 

dig in!

 

Anyone out there have tomatoes piling up?  Attracting fruit flies?  Tired of BLT’s? (Never!)

tomatoes from MY YARD!

I realized today that if I didn’t act, and act TODAY my tomato harvest would be fruit fly food.

 

I had yellow tomatoes, green stripey tomatoes, and red, red tomatoes.

 

If I mixed them all together I would create a really attractive brown tomato sauce!  So I made Cream of Tomato Soup with the yellow and green ones, and Roasted Tomato Sauce with the red ones.  I’m pretty pleased with the results, so I thought I would share!

Cream of Tomato Soup Indian Style

Saute in coconut oil:

  • ginger, onion, garlic

Meanwhile toast your whole spices in a dry skillet:

dry toasting spices

  • cumin, coriander, black pepper corns, mustard seeds, fennel seeds

Grind the whole spices and add them to the onion mixture.  Add a healthy dose of turmeric (if I’d had fresh turmeric I would have used it, but dried ground turmeric is fine.  Remember how good it is for you?  Anti-inflammatory?), and a dash of cinnamon.

Saute the spices for a minute. Then add a bunch of cut up tomatoes.  I used yellow and green ones which worked great with the turmeric which is bright yellow too.

Add a little chicken stock or water to get the tomatoes to start breaking down.  Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for a while, checking occasionally and stirring.  When the tomatoes are completely broken down, puree the whole she-bang.  I used my trusty Vita-Mix, but those immersion blenders work well too.  After pureeing the mixture, put it back in the pot and add a can of coconut milk and salt to taste.  Heat it gently at this point.  You don’t want the coconut milk to boil.

lunch. check.

 

 

Depending on how sweet your tomatoes are you might want to add a handful of sugar, honey, or maple syrup to balance out the acid of the tomatoes.  I decided against that.  I portioned out the soup (after eating some, of course) for lunches for the next few days!

 

 

 

Next up:

Roasted Tomato Sauce

The recipe is thus:  Cut up a bunch of tomatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, fresh thyme, oregano, and rosemary.

red tomatoes ready for the oven

 

 

Roast in a 350 degree oven until they break down and start to dry out a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

herbaceousness

 

 

Add some fresh garlic and chopped basil and spoon over  spaghetti squash, roasted cauliflower, zucchini ribbons, or…. pasta!

I spooned mine into a jar, and froze it for some winter day when I need to conjure up the bounty of these last fall days!

 

 

 

 

 

after roasting

 

 

Tomato’s nutritional claim to fame is high levels of a carotenoid called “lycopene.” Carotenoids act as anti-oxidants in the body and high intake of lycopene has been found to be protective against prostate cancer.  Lycopene is what gives tomatoes, watermelon, and guavas their pink/red color.  Lycopene is more available to the body when tomatoes are cooked, and they should be cooked with some oil to aid absorption.

 

super satisfying for any time of day!

Salmon Cakes

2 cans wild salmon

2 eggs

1 1/2 T coconut flour

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 scallion, chopped

1 shallot, diced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 t grated fresh horseradish

splash of tamari

fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

mixing the mix

Melt some coconut oil in a skillet.

melting coconut oil

Fry the salmon cakes until browned on both sides.

Browned salmon cakes

St. Patrick's Day is coming!

Seeing corned beef in the grocery stores these days made me dream up this low glycemic version of one of our favorite breakfasts.
I used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, (which are high in anthocyanins and low glycemic, getting some press these days as a new “super food”) instead of white potatoes and added quartered brussels sprouts for a high fiber, satisfying breakfast! My son poached me an egg and mixed up a mixture of ketchup and chili sauce for the perfect accompaniments.

Spicy pickle diakon (with fresh turmeric), purple cabbage sauerkraut, turkey burger, bacon.

Yesterday I was reminded that I actually have some followers out there!  Hello people! I have some pictures to share from the last few months. They are all the things that I wanted to blog about but never got around to it!

Calcifer

Meet Calcifer, our new stove

Baking Gluten Free Blue Cornmeal Biscuits

Roasting Chickens and Vegetables

Roasted Delicata Squash With Fennel Salt

Yesterday I catered a lunch at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral where I served a red quinoa salad.  It was a hit with the crowd and requests were made for the recipe. I can recreate the ingredients, but not the proportions.   It is really flexible though.  Do not worry about proportions.    For the record, the salad I made was heavy on the vegetables, light on the quinoa.  Many people have not heard of quinoa, and many who have think that it is a grain.  In fact it is an edible seed and has a great nutritional profile.   Click here for nutrition data on quinoa.  It is gluten free, high in amino acids (protein), and fiber.  It is delicious, easy to cook and very versatile!

Here’s what I did:

Cook the red quinoa in chicken stock. (cooks just like rice 1:2 quinoa:liquid).  Let it steam a little in the pot so it gets fluffy.  Let it cool.

Chop a bunch of veggies.  I had broccoli, scallions, green cabbage, shredded carrots.

Make the dressing.  In  a food processor, combine:  cilantro, mint, fresh lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, salt, olive oil.

Mix the cooled quinoa, the raw veggies and the dressing.  Chill until ready to serve.  Just before serving, toss with crumbled feta cheese.

Red Quinoa Salad

Today I whipped up my favorite gluten free corn bread to go with the leftover salad for lunch.  This recipe is thanks to my sister in law, Betsy.

Blue Corn Cornbread

Did you know, that one more thing to worry about when it comes to nutrition, is if our food has been genetically modified?  Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops along with soy, canola oil, and tomatoes.  In order to be safe, make sure you are getting organic corn products (if it is yellow or white corn).  Blue corn and popcorn are not genetically modified.

Blue Corn Bread

Preheat your oven (oh, my lovely Calcifer!) to 450 degrees.  Preheat an 8 inch cast iron skillet in the oven.

In a small bowl mix 2/3 cup blue cornmeal with 2/3 cup boiling water.  It should make a stiff batter.  Add 2 eggs, 1 T honey, and 1 1/2 cups almond/hemp/soy or buttermilk.  Stir to combine.

In a larger bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups blue cornmeal with  1 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Mix the wet into the dry.  Add chopped bits of ham, bacon, scallions, green chilies, cheese…

Meanwhile, after your skillet gets hot, add 2 T butter to the hot pan.  Swirl it around until it melts and coats the inside of the pan.  Pour the excess into the batter and stir in before adding the batter to the hot pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or so, until it is firm, lightly browned on top and has a lovely crack around the edge.

Lovely golden crust and blue bread

Butter from grass fed cows is the perfect accompaniment

Greens, Garlic, Ginger Soup

Greens, Garlic, Ginger Soup

There is a lot of news these days about the dread H1N1 flu going around.  I’m not here to parse myth from fact,  but I do have a delicious soup recipe for you!  There are many immune stimulating reasons to eat this soup and I hope you find it as calming to your fears as it is nourishing to your body!

 

It is not necessary to make your own soup stock, but I did, and I threw some things in there that are good for the immune system, so I will share them with you.

Veggie Stock:

  • Onion cut into quarters (I don’t peel it because the peel is rich in a flavonoid called quercitin)
  • Garlic: a handful (garlic and onions both enhance the activities of our white blood cells which fight viruses)
  • celery: 4-8 stalks
  • carrots: 3-6
  • tomatoes: 4-5 (I used Romas)
  • zucchini: one cut into chunks
  • Mushrooms: 8-10 big ones, cut up
  • 2 bay leaves, small handful of peppercorns, fennel seed
  • 6 slices of dried astragalus (an antiviral herb)
  • 6 slices of dried burdock root ( a tonic)
  • 6 slices of dried licorice root (an antiviral herb)
  • handful of dried cleavers (an herb good for moving lymph)
  • small handful of kelp

Put all the vegetables and herbs in a large stainless steel pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 3-4 hours.  Strain solids out and discard.  Pour vegetable stock into jars for storage.  Freezes well.

veggies strained out of stock

vegetables strained out of stock

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Stock

Vegetable Stock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that you have your stock ready, or if you are using prepared stock, it just takes a few minutes to prepare the soup.

 

 

Greens, Garlic, Ginger Soup/ Swine Flu Vaccine Soup

  • 3 cups stock (veggie or chicken)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic (I have a stone that fits nicely into my hand that I use to smash garlic.  Once smashed, the skin comes off easily.)

    garlic stone

    garlic stone

Bring to a boil and let the ginger and garlic simmer for 5-10 minutes in the broth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • add 6-8 cups of chopped greens: kale, spinach, escarole, bok choy
escarole

escarole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the greens cook for 5 minutes or so.

  • add salt and pepper to taste
greens

greens

 

Blend in blender, food processor, or vita mix, until pureed.

Drink up!

Remember there are a few other simple things you can do to keep your immune system strong:

  • Get adequate sleep
  • Stay away from sugar and simple carbohydrates
  • Get enough vitamin D
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Laugh, love, and feel grateful everyday

I ordered my dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs

Zydeco Beans

Zydeco Beans

Last night sitting on the back patio at a friends house, we engaged in a lively discussion of the meaning of the word “penultimate”.  It means “second to last.”  It got interesting though when you consider our negative connotation of “last.”  We don’t think of coming in last as the “ultimate” do we?  I liked the analogy that Holly brought up:  Think of climbing a mountain.  The last part is the peak, the highest part, the goal, the… ultimate.  In the Tour de France, Philip pointed out, the penultimate stage is the second to the last stage.  What does this have to do with pickles you may be asking yourself?  Those who know me well, know that I have been a bit fascinated with pickling things for quite some years now.  Before medical school I used to spend my summers canning and pickling, but in the busy years of school I have discovered the blessed “quick” pickle.  And believe me they are a blessing.  The are so easy to make.  Last christmas I made a bunch of pickles for a party and Sadie said I needed to write a “Pickle Manifesto”  for my blog.  I have been thinking about that ever since.  Writing a manifesto is just too big of an assignment for me.  That’s why I have a blog instead of a cookbook.  Also too big.  My life is very busy.  I just barely have enough time for a quick pickle and a short blog post.  Therefore, consider this my penultimate pickle manifesto, and be pleasantly surprised, but don’t hold your breath for the ultimate pickle manifesto to be written.

Do pickles have health benefits?  There are many health benefits of traditionally fermented pickles.  Fermented foods are a great way to increase the beneficial flora in our digestive systems.  The quick pickles that I have been making are not fermented however, they are bathed briefly in vinegar and spices.  I find that they are a delicious way to eat more vegetables, which has to be a good thing!  I speculate also that if pickles were eaten before meals, the vinegar would stimulate the production of digestive enzymes which primes the stomach to be able to digest the upcoming meal.

One of my favorite pickle cookbooks is by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, Quick Pickles: Easy Recipes with Big Flavor, and lately I have been using The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, which is chock full of every kind of pickle recipe you could imagine.

Just to illustrate my pickle crazed state, I confess I spent yesterday in 100 degree Oregon weather canning pickled beans.  I was dripping with sweat, but happy.  Here is the recipe, adapted from The Joy of Pickling:

Zydeco Beans

3 pounds yellow wax beans trimmed to fit into a pint canning jar

6 garlic cloves, 6 fresh serrano peppers, 6 dill heads, 6 teaspoons brown mustard seeds

31/2 cups white wine vinegar

31/2 cups water

2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher

Into each of 6 clean pint jars, put a garlic clove, pepper, dill head, and teaspoon of mustard seeds.  Pack the beans vertically into the jars fitting as many as you can in each jar.  Packing the Beans

In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil.  Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Close the jars with two piece caps.  Process the jars for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Store the cooled jars for at least 3 weeks before eating them.  Store in the refrigerator after opening.

Wax beans

Wax beans

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