Making the move to gluten free living has proven beneficial for many people and even those that do not have proven celiac disease are making the change. One important notion to consider in this transition is to resist incorporating many of the readily available gluten free products at the grocery store. With the enticing “gluten-free” label, we are misled into thinking it could be a healthy alternative. With rice–flour or tapioca flour as the base, these products are often not offering beneficial micronutrients and fiber and thus lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. Because of this, these products may also lead to weight gain and inflammation long term.
I have always loved molasses ginger cookies after first tasting them many years ago in Colonial Williamsburg and finding a vegan and gluten free alternative was challenging. After 5 batches, I may have found a version that is delicious in new ways and is more supportive to healthy function in sensitive gastrointestinal tracts. Molasses offers a vegan iron source and the chia/hemp “egg substitute” offers the healthy omega three fatty acids, fiber and trace minerals. It is important to be mindful of the effects of food when making the change to gluten-free eating and this recipe can be adjusted to your unique palate. For example, more coconut oil with less water will give a moister cookie and less or more sugar will change the taste also. Sometimes I put in more ginger for an extra zest. Listening to your intuition as you cook is an important tool.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup coconut flour [or chickpea flour or gluten free flour blend (if that is all you can find)]
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
- dash nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup evaporated organic vegan cane sugar (you may want more – I prefer foods not too sweet)
- 1 1/4 cup of water (may need more if dough too thick)
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 3 tablespoons organic dark molasses
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the water, hemp and chia seeds in blender and let sit for 10 minutes while preparing the dry ingredients. Combine flours, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and baking soda. After the water, hemp and chia have had a chance to soak, blend thoroughly until fine consistency. Add coconut oil and molasses to the “wet mixture” and blend for 30 seconds or thoroughly mixed. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. It may have very thick consistency and be best blended by hand (think play dough).
Almond flour and coconut flour may have variable amounts of fluid in them and if needed more water or more coconut flour can be added to achieve the appropriate consistency. Place a scoop (about 2 tablespoons) on greased cookie sheet and press down to create flat surface with fork. Extra hemp seeds or cane sugar can be placed on top of the cookie prior to cooking. They can also remain plain. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes however keep an eye on your oven the first time. Peek in around 15 minutes, when they are slightly browned and no longer appear “wet” in the middle they are close to done. Cooking longer will also give a crispier cookie.
Enjoy as a special treat with fresh almond milk chai and be wary of supermarket gluten free cookies.
Kale chips are fast becoming a staple for many people. In this post, I would like to offer a way to combine several elements. First is Bazilnut milk and with the extra nut “pulp”, you can make kale chips. A win win situation! I like to use the dinosaur Kale. The best part about kale chips is that they can be made any number of ways. From the spices to the nuts combined with them, there are many options.
Nut milks are also anther easy tool to add to the kitchen. Brazilnuts in particular offer a great resource for a quick nut milk as they do not need to soak as long as almonds or other nuts do.
To make the nut milk, soak the Brazil nuts for several hours (or just use right away). When ready to blend, use a 4:1 ratio of nuts to filtered water. In this recipe, I made the nut milk into turmeric milk. An old recipe used by adepts of yoga, it is very healing to the body. The myriad of beneficial effects of Turmeric are exciting to ponder.
Ingredients for Turmeric Milk:
- 4 cups nut milk
- 2 teaspoons turmeric paste (made by reducing 4:1 ratio of turmeric and water and boiling to paste over 7 minutes
- 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
- dash mineral salt
- 1 tsp maple syrup (you can add more)
- pinch cardamon/nutmeg
- 1 tsp almond oil can also be added however if the nuts are freshly blended
Blend nuts and water. Strain as seen below.
Watch and learn.
Then with finished milk, blend the remaining ingredients. This blending is best with a high speed blender such as a Vitamix but it would be just find to use an immersion blender if that is all you had.
You can see there is extra nut “pulp” after making the nut milk. People often wonder what might be a good use for this. I have found that making kale chips is an easy next step. Using the lacinto or dinosaur kale, wash and cut out the center section. Depending on how much kale and pulp you have gives a sense of how much of other ingredients are mixed in. In this case, I had 1 1/2 cups of pulp and 4 bunches of kale. I added 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 tsp of spice blend. Mix all the elements together and massage onto the kale. There are many options for spicing kale chips. One that I particularly enjoy is an Ethiopian spice blend, berbere. Each batch will be different and the main idea I would like to pass on is that there is no wrong way to make them.
Next step is the dehydrator and they are placed inside at 115 degrees for 6 hours. Sometimes the nuts dry nicely to the kale and other times, they fall off. This extra topping can be used as a vegan cheese and is great on soups or salads. Hopefully no part of the process of making the kale chips or nut milk leads to waste.
Let me know the spices that you like on your kale chips as I am excited to try new options!
Creating healthy meals that children will enjoy can be an adventure. In my younger years, my family would frequently visit one of the fast food chains after church. Seemed fitting at the time because as a young child, nothing was more enjoyable then partaking of the small sliders after the long wait. Since I have made the switch to plant based eating, there has been a continual joy at reinventing old favorites and perhaps making them even tastier than before. Quinoa sliders are a very versatile meal for any cook.
With quinoa as the base, there are many options to flavor the burger. Nuts, seeds, vegetables and spices can be added as your imagination leads you. And once they are cooked, a wide range of toppings can be added for extra flavor as well. Seen below is cashew “sour cream”, fresh lime pickle, sauerkraut, and guacamole. As the ingredient lists indicates, this is a very forgiving recipe. If you note that the mixture seems to not adhere, more ground flax or chia could be added. Additionally, the quinoa tends to “gel” (get excited about soluble fiber and plant lignans here) after a few minutes of cooling.
Ingredients (for 12 small burgers)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup shredded vegetables (can be a combo of: butternut squash, carrots, cabbage, zucchini)
- 2 tablespoon fresh ground flax (hemp and chia can also be used)
- 2 tablespoons fresh greens or herbs from garden (i.e dill, parsley, basil)
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (sunflower can also be used)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Soak quinoa for several hours in filtered water. Rinse and strain away the extra water.
- Bring 2 cups water to boil and add quinoa. Cook about 12 minutes on medium heat. Ideally the quinoa has become a little “overcooked” as this helps create the sticky elements of the burger.
- Bring 2 cups water to boil and add shredded vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes and strain water off.
- Put all ingredients into the food processor and pulse several times.
- Shape into desired patty size, I tend to use an ice cream scoop and push them flat to keep a uniform size. Place on oiled baking pain (coconut oil would be fine).
- Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until desired “crispy” ness has been achieved.
- Place with toppings onto desired bun. For a gluten free option, I used a 2.5 inch round biscuit cutter on a toasted gluten free vegan pizza crust to cut small “buns”.
Some additional burger combination ideas:
- Curry spice with mango chutney topping
- Dill mustard with sauerkraut topping
- Chili spice with guacamole
- Basil pesto with vegan mozzarella
Send me your creative inspirations and I will share them.
“The earth laughs in flowers.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yesterday, while working at home, my front door buzzed. I opened the door to find a beautiful pile of basil waiting for me. Sweet basil or Ocimum basilicum has been an integral part of gardens for thousands of years and has antibacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Additionally basil and rosemary oils have long been used for treating, among other things, colds, fever, cough, asthma, sinusitis and rheumatism, as well as accelerating the process of wound healing (Sienkiewicz, 2013).
We are quite blessed in my condominium community as one of our residents is an avid gardener. Thanks to her, we have four raised beds with a variety of vegetables and herbs. As fall descends in Phoenix, we are blessed with a new selection of our local crops. What does one do with 2 cubic feet of basil? Instead of drying it, I decided to make a simple pesto from the leaves and freeze it in an ice cube tray to use over the next few months. I have never made the same pesto recipe twice and am certain that the cycle of the moon, politics in Central America and how my brother’s new job is going all seem to have a subtle interconnected bearing on how the ingredients have grown and thus combine and taste to me. Here’s today’s recipe although next time it could be more or less of one of the elements:
- 10 cups Basil leaves removed from stalk
- 1 cup extra virgin organic olive oil
- ½ cup organic hemp seeds
- ¼ cup lime juice
Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor. It is ok to put a bit of water in if you are having difficulty blending. Place in an ice cube freezer tray overnight. Take the cubes out and store in a glass container in the freezer. (I try to avoid plastics due to their xenoestrogenic properties)
Extra parts were also reserved to soak with white wine vinegar to use as a vinaigrette after soaking for several weeks.
After such a wonderful gift yesterday, I found myself in the garden today with the early morning sun. All organic, the garden is even inviting for the bunnies in the desert and they seem to know to how to find their way here. I have cherished having a free moment in the early part of the day to sit next to the flowers and vegetables in their eternal quest to grow as they gently eat the light falling from the sky and create vital nutrients. In Phoenix, our harvest comes long after other parts of the country. Our summer is seemingly a winter in which heat blankets our city thoroughly.
This morning, a bumblebee found his way through the flowers of the garden. In years past, I can recall a certain disliking of the bee – hoping it might find another spot away from me to find his food. Today, though, I found myself feeling grateful for his presence and concerned for the colony future. Wandering from flower to flower, the bee offered me a growing appreciation for its vital role. Reporting on colony collapse in recent years has moved from the writings of environmentalists to mainstream media. Read here in the NY Times all the recent chronicles on the bee. Or this article from Time Magazine in which the problems have been attributed to:
- A parasitic mite called Varroa destructor that has often been found in decimated colonies
- Several viruses
- A bacterial disease called European foulbrood that is increasingly being detected in U.S. bee colonies
- The use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, a neuroactive chemical
While no single agent has been identified as the prime reason causing the collapse, the pesticide, neonicotinoid, has been implicated in the process. I believe it useful to sign this petition to bring awareness to the EPA that we are demanding safer agricultural practices. Sign here. Appreciating our interconnectedness is an essential element for future generations to enjoy health and wellness on this planet.
We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.”
Sienkiewicz et al. The Potential of Use Basil and Rosemary Essential Oils as Effective Antibacterial Agents. Molecules 2013, 18, 9334-9351; doi:10.3390/molecules18089334
“By eating lightly of healthy food, one experiences the bliss of brahm and complete liberation.”
From the poem: The Daily Banis by Yogi Bhajan in Furmaan Khalsa, 1987
Every food has a specific taste or “rasa” that affects us uniquely. Translated from Sanskrit, “ra” means to relish or to taste and “sa” means juice or secretion. The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent; and ideally are present in every meal. Each taste is composed of two elements and thus has very specific effects on our mind, body and spirit through each of the doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Ayurvedic texts note additional actions for each taste. The first aspect is virya which is the effect once the food enters the digestive tract and in part relates to the effect on the agni or digestive fire. The second aspect is the vipaka or post digestive effect and is the effect on metabolic pathways in the body in regard to tissue and waste production. View full post »
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
Occasionally I find a few things to share that are fairly compelling to share and this post highlights a few of those. First is Chickpea Magazine. Available for a free preview online it is the combined work of a young vegan couple who are hoping to bring the vegan community together. Drawing from talented writers and designers spanning the globe, there is a wonderful array of options here for any palate. Also highlighted is the free online ezine program issuu. Maybe you have something you would like to publish? You can scroll through the pages or hit the expand button to bring these beautiful pictures and stories to life. View full post »