Friday, October 21, 2011
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
As we are packing to move to San Jose, we are pretty low on supplies, a can of garbanzo beans, couscous and some veggies. My husband got limes from the garden and I got the inspiration from Keep it Skinny and voila- colorful, spicy, and easy...lunch, dinner, maybe even breakfast! Damn camera battery died before I could take a picture of the dish and my efforts to locate the charger were hopeless in the moving mess but I managed to take one shot of my Moroccan spice mix, Ras el Hanout! It is delicious!
راس الحانوت RAS EL HANOUT, MAGICAL SPICE BLEND
Ras el hanout, is a spice blend that means literally "top of the shop", best blend of the merchant's spices. You can also make your own at home and there are many different recipes online. After reviewing a few, here is what I came up with:
1 tablespoon each of cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, toast well until fragrant.
1 tablespoon each of ground cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric, salt, black pepper and 1 tsp nutmeg.
Toast all the spices together, high heat works great but make sure to stand by the stove, otherwise, keep the heat low and mix occasionally while doing other things. Once all toasted together blend in a spice grinder and that's it. The result was really magical!
Use 1 tablespoon of this mix in the recipe below. It also tastes great as a rice seasoning.
Rainbow Moroccan Feast
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced super thin
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 zucchini diced, about 2 cups
- 1 tablespoon spice mix
- 1/2 cup of raisins or cranberries, optional
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup of spinach
- handful of parsley
- 1 tomato diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of couscous
- 2 cups of veggie broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
In the meantime, prepare couscous according to package instructions. The brand we get here is super easy to make: Pour boiling water over couscous in a bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Instead of water, I used veggie stock, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. After 10 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork.
Combine couscous with your veggies and taste for the seasoning. You can add more spices as you wish, however I'd recommend to check for salt and black pepper first and then acidity with lime juice and heat with cayenne.
Add parsley and diced tomatoes on top before serving.
By the way, if you have trip planned to Morocco, check out this list from Gwyneth Paltrow. Looks so inviting and magical:)
Sunday, October 16, 2011
But then, there is baking, it definitely helps! Both in the pregnancy department and sanity of the mind. These are easy to make oat bars that will make your kitchen smell like a cozy bakery and long for a nice movie with a warm blanket, a cup of tea in your hand, even in the tropics. Also, individually wrapped they make great gifts. It reminds me of a linzer torte, I could swear it tastes very buttery, though these are vegan and gluten-free! Roberto thinks it is a close relative of fig newtons...
The recipe comes from Candle Cafe Cookbook. It is a vegan restaurant/cafe, I have never been to but heard so much of it. Here is the exact recipe from the book. Below is my version with a few changes:
Oat Bars with Apricot Date Filling
1 cup whole pitted dates
1/2 cup dried apricots (or prunes or raisins)
3 cups oat flour, see below for a quick recipe
1 cup coconut flour (if you don't have it, add oat flour instead)
4 cups rolled oats
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup agave (or maple syrup)
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom, if you really like cardamom, you add a pinch more.
1/8 tsp nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
Fresh spices will be more powerful and fragrant. I like to grind up cardamom and grate the nutmeg. If you haven't tried it before, I highly recommend it.
Oat Flour-Coconut Flour
You don't need to buy oat flour, just blend rolled oats in a blender until super-fine. You can also do coconut flour or any other nut flour the same way. Just make sure your blender is super dry.
For the filling soak the dates and apricots in water, better the night before. If you want to bake your bars now, you can also soak them in hot, boiling water while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Once they are ready, drain, and process in a blender or a food processor until smooth. This is your sugar-free filling that is sweet and delicious! You can also use your favorite marmalade, I really want to try this with raspberry.
Oat Coconut Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, rolled oats, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, orange zest and walnuts and mix together well.
In another bowl, combine coconut oil, agave, almond extract, and sea salt. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix well. Press half of the mixture into a baking pan.
Spread the fruit filling over the mixture, top with the remaining half of the flour mixture, and press down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool and cut into squares.
Great for breakfast, road snack, dessert for lunch...Even this monkey enjoyed the smell in our garden:)
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Just made a dandelion pesto again. This time I used 2 bunches of basil, 1 bunch of parsley and 1 bunch of dandelion with 2 roasted garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper. Now, I want to bake some veggies and sprinkle this on top. It also makes a great salad dressing....
Don't laugh, but I will tell you how I built my burger. We had dandelion pesto on hand, so I started with that, added Swiss chard, roasted pumpkin, home pickled cucumbers, tomato and leftover lentil burger on top. Everything was cold and it was great. Now, I know it takes a lot to do all these things at once, especially if you are hungry. The trick is to organize your kitchen in a way that works for you. You can bake bread and freeze, or skip bread and make this into a salad with lentil patty on top.
Roasting veggies is so easy because you don't need to babysit them and wait in front of the stove. They also keep well in the fridge. Kitchen can be a challenge if you are pressed against time, or don't have the inspiration. However, it can also be an artist canvas if you work with ease and use local ingredients. Then you can see the magic happen on its own, painting plates in colorful veggies and watching your inspiration blossom.
Here are the recipes I used for the burger...Something to play with, hopefully some joy and excitement! Have fun!
Using a mandolin, slice your cucumbers thinly. Long English cucumbers of thin Asian cucumbers are the best. If the cucumbers have a lot of seeds take them out because they are hard to digest. Sprinkle pinch of salt, 1/2 cup rice vinegar and a dash of black pepper. Press down with a plate and let them sit for about 30 mins or overnight in the fridge.
You can totally skip this and use fresh cucumbers. That is how I made our burgers at Organico all these years, easy yet delicious and fresh.
Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
Wash the skin of the pumpkin and cut into finger thick pieces on the long side. Place them with the skin on a roasting pan, sprinkle sea salt, olive oil and sage. I used dried sage, but you can also use fresh sage or any other herb you like. Rosemary is also great.
Next, make sure to get your hands in the roasting pan and show some love to the pumpkin, covering each side with olive oil.
Bake for 40 mins, turning the pan in the middle. Check for doneness by inserting a knife. Let it cool. If using for the burger, take the skin off. This is also a great side dish to any other meal or salad.
Plantains and pineapples are also a great alternative. You can bake or grill them.
1 bunch of dandelion, chopped into small pieces.
1 bunch of basil, chopped.
1 bunch of arugula, chopped.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 heads of roasted garlic or 2 raw cloves (roasted garlic is creamy and sweet and helps with the dandelion flavor, so if you have time, don't skip this step).
1/2 tsp sea-salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Juice of a half lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
Blend everything in a high speed blender until creamy. If you like your pesto chunky, use a food processor instead and process slowly, adding your greens in parts.
Keeps in the fridge about a week.
A super easy spread alternative would be mashed avocado with basil or cilantro with lime and salt. Please don't stress!!!
3 cups of soaked green lentils, about 2 cups of dry lentils soaked overnight.
5 cups of water
1 onion, cut into two
1 head of garlic
1 celery stalk, cut into 3 pieces
1 bay leaf (its ok if you don't have it)
Bring all the ingredients to boil, and cook until the water is gone and the lentils are soft.
Saute with 4 tablespoons olive oil:
1 onion, diced small
2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 medium carrot, diced small
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
It will take about 10 to 15 minutes, until the carrots are almost mushy. Add 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp salt.
Once the lentils are cooked, put them over a sieve and drain the water. Transfer the lentils into a big bowl.
Add the sauteed veggies and combine with 1/2 cup oat flour, 1/2 cup ground flax seeds, 1 cup oats. Mix well with a wooded spoon, pressing into the lentils, like making a dough. There will be still chunky pieces of carrots and celery and that is good. If the mixture is too wet, add more ground flax seeds. If it is too dry, add some liquid from the lentils. You should be able to make patties at this point. It is ok if the mixture looks wet, as long as it holds it shape.
Make sure to taste them and see if you like the taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking, salt, pepper, cumin. I also added a dash of cayenne pepper at this point because it was a little sweeter than I liked, carrots to blame:)
Place the mixture in the fridge for about 30 mins, the flours and oats soak up more liquid. Roberto did the rest of the cooking. He first pan fried the burgers, high heat both sides about 3-4 mins each until browned and then baked 400F for about 10-15 mins, so they dry up inside. It was perfect.
Leftover burgers are great for the next day, they hold their shape even better.
Again, if you want a burger now and don't want to spend the time in the kitchen,think what could be an alternative for the lentil patties...Maybe portobello mushrooms or eggplant steaks?
Some good organic ketchup if you can find it...
Cheers to the happy times in the kitchen!!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The first recipe I found was from Angela. It was vegan but not gluten free. Then I found another one but realized it had eggs and skipped that recipe, though it is pretty easy to convert eggs into vegan eggs with flax eggs. I started with Angela's recipe and prepared the flax eggs, don't ask me why!! Totally messed up and mixed two recipes in my mind. Half way through the process, a tiny panic came in, "oh this recipe doesn't have eggs" but then added them anyways and continued making my own carrot muffins. Vegan, gluten-free, coconutty and not so sweet! They turned out super moist, packed with carrots and love.
Vegan Carrot Coconut Muffins- Gluten Free
Yield: 12 muffins
- 1 cup gluten free baking flour
- 3/4 cup rice flour
- 2 tsp x-tan gum
- 1/4 cup natural raw sugar
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup agave syrup
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1/4 cup soy milk (or coconut milk)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of ground flax with 6 tablespoons of warm water. (Mix well and let the eggs develop while preparing the other ingredients, it will be gooey)
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in water and drained (I used prunes because we had no raisins, it came out great.)
- 1/3 cup chopped & toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 orange zest
1. Toast the walnuts on the stove, under medium heat. Preheat oven to 400F and line a muffin tin with liners or use a silicon muffin tray.
2. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Separately, whisk together the wet ingredients, flax eggs, oil, water, vanilla, soy milk. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just incorporated.
3. Fold in the carrots, ginger, orange zest, prunes (or raisins), coconut and walnuts. Batter will be THICK!
4. Scoop batter into the muffin liners, filling the batter to the top, making it a little higher than the mold level. Bake for about 18 minutes at 400F until a toothpick comes out clean. Be patient and wait until they cool for about 15-20 minutes.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
It sure helps to be in Costa Rica, this constant connection with the nature, feeling the ocean and the green, touching my feet on earth, eating so well thanks to my husband. I can not believe I met someone who can cook better than me! It really helps to get out from my mind and just feel. I am also doing yoga, my own way. Mostly listening to my body and giving myself time to explore my muscles in this phase of my life. I can not do many of the poses and I try extra hard not to push my self, but most of the time I am really loving this extra freedom I found, to be me. I have the best excuse to myself:) It is a great lesson that I want to take with me after the baby, because really I do love this person now. Even though I don't work 12 hours, even though I don't run 2 hours and do yoga every day...Somehow, I even think I am more beautiful than ever before- most of the time...Then there are the moments of fear, doubt, unknown, worry...pre-postpartum pregnancy thing, that is not clinically coded:) I have that too!
In the middle of this chaos, I want to write more. I want to share more and be connected more. At least to give it a try...