Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 26: Brownie Cupcake Time!

It's been a while, I know, but these last two weeks have been tres busy with finals, the end of my internship and graduation (which I'm not even attending). But I hope the wait will be worth it as this edition The Salubrious Palate will have extra recipes for you to enjoy! My sister has recently gotten me hooked on this TV show on one of the food channels called Cupcake Wars. Basically, contestants run a cupcake shop and compete to win the best cupcakes and a cash prize as well. They are judged on taste, decoration and presentation and it's highly entertaining. I'm honestly like a sports fan watching a game on TV, only with me yelling at the television screen to the contestants on what they should be doing to make their cupcakes better, or how I'D do it differently. For instance, every time a 'healthy baker' enters the competition, that person always falls short because of taste or texture. So, I thought I'd give it my own go with making healthier, guilt-free cupcakes made from red and black beans! I forgot to photograph the black bean sesame cupcakes, so there's only the photo of the red bean cupcakes. And I swear, you won't be able to tell that they're made with such a healthier flour substitute that really packs on the protein as well. So enjoy and make food, not war! ;)

Red Bean Brownie-Cupcakes With Tropical Chocolate Banana Saffron Frosting
Makes 16 cupcakes

8 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup unsalted margarine
2 cups red kidney beans, rinsed and drained well
1 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds, ground in a coffee grinder
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup applesauce
¼ cup agave nectar
1/3 cup  Sweet Leaf stevia/sugar blend

Tropical Chocolate Banana Saffron Frosting:
Make about 4 cups

2 cups chickpeas
½ cup light coconut milk
1 100-calorie dark choc. bar (Trader Joe’s brand which is sweetened with beet juice) OR 1/4 dark chocolate bar (at least 70%)
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional--you really have to blend the bejeezus out of the frosting to get rid of the coconut texture if you decide to add this--I'd actually suggest just sprinkling it on top)
3-4 threads saffron
1/2 cup banana-applesauce (they had a deal on these squeezable blends at Trader Joe's) OR just add 1/4 of a ripe banana with the applesauce
¼ cup agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Black Bean Sesame Brownie Cupcakes 
Makes about 16 cupcakes

1 bar 85% dark chocolate or at least 70% (I like Ghiradelli's or Godiva's brand, the darker the healthier and tastier in my opinion)
1 cup unsalted margarine, melted
2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/4 cup black sesame seeds, ground in a coffee grinder 
4 eggs or 4 egg replacements: 8 tbsp water + 4 tbsp olive oil + 8 tsp baking powder 
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. raw stevia powder

For Both Cupcakes: 
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
3) Pour the rinsed beans in a food processor and blend until smooth.
4) Add everything else except the dry ingredients (a.k.a. the cocoa powder and almond meal or garbanzo bean flour respectively as well as the ground sunflower seeds and sesame seeds)
5) Add the dry ingredients and the seeds to the processor and blend.
6) Spoon batter into the muffin cups and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
7) To make the frosting for the red bean cupcakes, clean the food processor and then blend the ingredients until smooth.
8) Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread some frosting on the red bean cakes and top with a chocolate almond or some coconut. Be creative! :)

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
                                                 Red Bean Brownie Cupcakes!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 113: Sweet and Sour

Anyway, I know some people gravitate towards sweet foods and others crave sour or salty foods, but as an equal opportunist, I don't really have a preference, although when I do cheat on my healthy diet, I do tend to go for the chocolate over the chips. Fortunately for you, I've created some sweet and sour recipes that address each person's preference that will tantalize your taste-buds and give you virtually no guilt as you chow down on this tasty, salubrious food. My mother made some delicious butternut squash kugel for Passover recently, so I made my own twist on that dish as well as creating a new dish inspired by the Mediterranean. 

Vegan Triple Squash Kugel
Makes 6 cups or 10-12 servings

2 c. butternut squash
2 c. spaghetti squash
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 ¼ c. silken tofu
6 tbsp unsalted margarine, melted
1/3 c. stevia/sugar blend
1 c. light coconut milk
1 c. unsweetened almond milk (Almond Breeze vanilla flavored—yes, they make it unsweetened now in other flavors besides the original)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp lemon zest

Crumble Topping:
¼ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. ground sunflower seeds
¼ c. ground walnuts
¼ c. Chex rice cereal
1 packet raw stevia
2 tbsp unsalted magarine

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a medium casserole dish lightly with Pam Buttery spray.
If you bought a whole squash, you can puncture the shell with a fork and cook it like you would for a baked potato in the microwave on high for about 10-15 minutes, until it is soft when you insert a fork into it. 

3) Let the squash cool down for about five minutes before cutting it because it will be steaming hot and can burn your hands (trust me, I was impatient once and learned my lesson). Once you cut it open, discard the gooey part in the center, using a fork to separate the seeds. *Note: Many people don't realize that you can toast any squash seed like you would for pumpkin seeds, so for an additional topping, save the seeds!

4) If you bought the squash peeled and pre-cut like I did, you can bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it feels soft when inserting a fork into one of the pieces.  
5) Once both squashes are baked, gradually puree them with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until it becomes smooth. *Note: Since the spaghetti squash looks like strands of spaghetti, like a noodle kugel, you can set it aside and then stir it into the puree like you would for actual noodles for a different texture. I pureed it with the rest of the squash for a smooth, pudding-like consistency, but I think I'm going to try it the other way without pureeing the spaghetti squash next time. 
6) Spoon out the puree into the casserole dish and spread evenly with a spatula. 
7) Melt the margarine in a glass bowl the microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, making sure to cover the top of your bowl with a plate or some sort of cover so it doesn't splatter all over the microwave.
8). Combine the rest of the topping ingredients into another small bowl and pour in the melted margarine to form thick crumbs.
9) Spoon out the crumb topping evenly over the kugel and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until it looks crispy. 
10) I found the best consistency is after you let the kugel sit in the refrigerator for about an hour or two to set before serving, or even overnight as this can be made the day before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Mediterranean Chicken with Olive-Artichoke Tapenade and Garlicky Swiss Chard and Collard Greens
Makes 6 servings

6 small frozen chicken breasts
3 cups Swiss chard
3 cups frozen collard greens
10 Spanish olives + 4 capers and 3 tbsp roasted pimentos (all from the jar)
3 artichoke hearts
1 small onion or 3 shallots
3 stalks cilantro
6 Kalamata olives
4 slices sun-dried tomatoes
1 palm heart
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive juice (from Spanish olive jar)
4 tbsp white Balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used pinot-grigio vinegar)
6 tbsp minced garlic

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Chop Swiss chard into big pieces and set aside with the collard greens.
3) For the tapenade, chop up the olives, cilantro, onion, palm heart and artichoke hearts and set aside.
4) Combine olive juice and lemon juice with the balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp garlic in a small bowl.
5) Make a foil packet, and place the chicken breasts inside, surrounding it with the collard greens and swiss chard.
6) Pour the sauce over the chicken, topping it with the tapenade.
7) Spoon the rest of the minced garlic over the collard greens and Swiss chard.
8) Close foil packet and bake chicken in the oven for 45 minutes.
9) Take chicken out of the oven and open the packet to serve immediately. It can be served over rice or just by itself for a low-carb option.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                                           The Preparation:

                                                           The Results:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 104: Salubrious Sister Edition: Gluten-Free Goodies!

I come from a culinary family, so obviously, I'm not the only one who cooks in my kitchen (okay, so I tend to hog it a lot, but my sister loves me for that...I hope). She's wonderful though and will sometimes act as my sous chef and prepare the ingredients for my recipes while I'm at night class or working late on my thesis, which is due quite soon (hence the delay in posts--often, I'm too exhausted to blog after coming home at night lately). So I decided to thank her by posting some of her recipes (plus one I made for her to break the fast of Passover last weekend)! Please enjoy reading:

Spiced Kale Chips
kale (you decide how much you want to make)
A few shakes of:
onion powder
garlic powder
parmesan cheese

a pinch of red pepper flakes

Pam Olive Oil

1) Preheat the oven to 350*F. 
2) Wash kale and squeeze it dry. Break leaves into pieces, cutting off the stems and saving those for later use. 
3) Spread evenly spaced over baking sheet.
4)  Lightly spray olive oil spray over them.
5) Shake spices over them, and the pinch of red pepper flakes.
6) Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 25 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. Check after 15 minutes to see if kale is crispy. Try not to burn the kale chips. 
7) Take out of oven, place in bowl and let cool before storing in an airtight container. 

Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Scramble
Makes 1 serving

1 cup brown rice rigatoni or gluten-free noodle of choice (soba noodles, quinoa noodles, etc.)
3 baby Portobello mushrooms
4 cooked brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
1 cup frozen spinach
1 teaspoon spiced vegan chorizo
handful peeled garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
handful of Pine nuts or sunflower seeds
Parmesan cheese or shredded vegan cheese 

1) Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for several minutes until they are al dente (meaning not too soft). 
2) Sauté garlic cloves with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan (enough to coat the pan), a shake of salt and pepper until tender. Set aside.
3) Sauté spinach and mushrooms in a large frying pan with tablespoon with a tablespoon of olive oil (enough to coat the pan and the mushrooms) until the mushrooms are tender and soft.
4) Add the garlic cloves and chorizo to the large frying pan and stir-fry everything together for ten seconds.
5) Put the pasta in a bowl and arrange the brussels sprouts around the edges.
6) Pour the contents of the frying pan over the pasta. 
7) Sprinkle Pine nuts or sunflower seeds over everything. 
8) Sprinkle parmesan cheese or crumbled vegan cheese over everything and enjoy. 

Gluten-Free Veggie Pizza with Vegan Mushroom-Tomato Sauce

Makes 1 large rectangular pizza

2 c. gluten-free flour mix
¼ c. flax powder
¼ c. almond meal
2 eggs
2 c. organic vegetable broth
¼ c. water
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Vegan Mushroom Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

2 tbsp soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s brand)
6 mini Portobello mushrooms
3 stalks fresh cilantro
3 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)
½ c. roasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
2 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp ground basil (or 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped)
2 slices sun-dried tomatoes
6 mini green or yellow heirloom tomatoes, chopped
6 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic

Additional Toppings:
2 c grated lactose-free reduced-fat cheddar (Cabot brand)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
3 Brussel sprouts
½ red bell pepper
2 c. arugula 

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) For the crust, mix dry ingredients including the spices and Parmesan cheese in a large mixing bowl.
3) Add vegetable broth and mix in with a large wooden spoon (can be done in a food processor as well). 
4) Whisk eggs in a small bowl before pouring them into the dough and stir thoroughly, until dough reaches a liquidity state.
5) Generously grease a large baking pan with Pam olive oil and pour dough, spreading with a rubber spatula to fill the pan.
6) Bake crust in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until it looks golden and bounces back to the touch.
7) Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients into a food processor. **Make sure you chop the mushrooms so they don't clog up the processor.
8) Take out the crust momentarily from the oven once it's done and spread the mushroom-tomato sauce over the pizza dough, topping it with the additional toppings or any toppings of your choice really!
9) Place pizza back into the oven and bake for about another 20-25 minutes, sprinkling the cheese on top about halfway through.
10) Remove from oven and let it cool down--I actually found that the dough became more chewy and less soft once eaten the next day and for the first time, I actually almost got a real pizza dough chewy consistency! Three times is the charm I suppose! I think it was the eggs, which acted as a binder, and which also made this pizza vegetarian and not vegan, but oh well. I'm not a vegan anyway--I just like eating vegan food from time to time.
11) Reheat a pizza slice and serve! **Note: to clean the pan, because I had a hard time removing the pizza due to not greasing the pan well enough, you should leave it to soak in the sink overnight to get the remnants of the dough off the pan for a less messy and frustrating clean-up situation!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                          Hannah's Spiced Kale Chips

                                            Hannah's Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Scramble

                                            My gluten-free pizza! Take 3:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 97: Happy Belated Passover!

I know there are some fellow Jews out there would think that I'm crazy for saying that Passover is indeed my favorite holiday, but as a foodie, how can one not love this holiday? Sure, there are some restrictions and despite my Eastern-European background (or Ashkenazi as we call it), that doesn't deter me of experimenting in the kitchen (and pretending that I have a Middle-Eastern/Spanish background, or a Sephardic, because they have different and somewhat less restrictive dietary rules during the holiday, so I can eat beans and rice if I want to, something that Ashkenazi Jews don't eat during the holiday, which I'll explain more in depth when I make a mixed bean cake later this week or weekend). For the two main Passover meals, or seders, I'm responsible in the family for making the haroset, which is a sweet mixture representing the mortar between the bricks that the slaves used to build the pyramids in Egypt. It's a culinary contrast to the bitter and quite spicy maror, or horseradish, which represent the tears that many slaves shed during their hardships. The normal Ashkenazi haroset is made with apples, nuts and sweet red wine, however, I am not that simple. I decided to be a bit more creative and came up with a tropical fruit haroset (not really Ashkenazi or Sephardic) and then a date-based Sephardic haroset, as well as the traditional Ashkenazi apple one because my grandfather cherishes our traditions. I also made a dairy-free coconut ice cream to compliment my mother's famous frozen strawberry torte that she makes every year. So with that, as the holiday is actually about to be over, this is going to sound ironic, but Happy Passover or Pesach as it's called in Hebrew and feast your eyes on these untraditional recipes from my family's seder (and then be ready for our breaking of the Passover fast, which ironically, for my sister and I, doesn't really mean anything because we don't eat wheat/gluten (so no beer and pizza for us!), but then again, we're technically Ashkenazi, so TECHNICALLY, we weren't supposed to consume beans and rice during Passover! But I am thinking of making a gluten-free pizza tomorrow night...

Tropical Citrus Ginger Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. golden raisins
½ c. Craisins
½ c. candied ginger
2 tbsp kumquat zest
1 ½ c. dried apricots
½ c. dried mango or pineapple slices
1 c. white Passover wine
¼ c. pineapple juice
½ blood orange
½ c. toasted coconut flakes
1/3 c. toasted pine nuts

Sephardic Date-Fig Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. dried figs
½ c. dried plums (prunes)
1 c. dried dates
1 dried banana
¼ c. toasted almonds
¼ c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp chrystallized ginger
½ c. Craisins
¼ c. Red Passover wine

Ashkenazi Apple Charoset with a Twist
Makes 2 cups

2-3 red apples (I used Gala), peeled and cored
2 tbsp kosher red wine 
2 tbsp kosher white wine
1 c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions for Charoset: Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend! Enjoy on matzah (if you're not gluten-intolerant, although they do sell some gluten-free matzah, but it's really expensive, so we just put some in lettuce cups and then stuffed some bell peppers with some! Yummy! :)

Dairy-Free Coconut-Almond-Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
Makes about 6 cups

2 c. light coconut milk
1 ½ c. coconut cream
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ tsp raw stevia extract (comes in a small bottle with a dropper)
1 tbsp  vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp ground basil leaves (can use fresh)
4 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1/4 c. coconut cream + 1/2 c. light coconut milk

Chocolate-Balsamic Strawberry Sauce:
Makes about 3 cups
2 c. Balsamic vinegar (white or black)
1 c. strawberries (can be frozen)
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (unsweetened chocolate usually comes in bars that you can break up, but if you find some chocolate chips, use about 1/2 cup)
½-3/4 c. raw stevia (depending on how sweet you like it)

1) Combine all but the last three ice cream ingredients in a large pot and set the heat at a medium setting until it starts to boil slightly. Stir throughout occassionally for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
2) Whisk the egg yolks in a small boil with a fork and pour into the ice cream mixture along with the xanthan gum. Stir IMMEDIATELY or the yolks will curdle and you will have to strain the cream through a strainer like I had to and trust me, despite my family not being wasteful, we did not like the coconut-scrambled eggs that resulted from my error so we had to throw them away. They were a little weird, even for my somewhat sophisticated palate. 
3) Turn the heat back on to a medium-low setting and stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes until the cream mixture thickens.
4) Turn off the heat again and let the cream cool down for about 5 minutes. 
5) Spoon the cream into some ice cube trays (I filled 4)  and place in the freezer overnight.
6) Meanwhile, combine the stevia with the frozen strawberries and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight as well.
7) The next day, puree the strawberries in the food processor.
8) Pour the Balsamic vinegar in a medium pot, turning on the heat to a medium setting and let it come to a slight boil, stirring throughout. 
9) Add the strawberry puree and the chocolate until it's melted.
10) Stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of your spoon.
11) Turn down the heat and refrigerate while preparing the ice cream.
12) Take the ice cream cubes out of the freezer and place 1 tray at a time in a food processor, gradually adding the 3/4 coconut cream combined with the coconut milk until the mixture becomes smooth. Now you will have extremely soft ice cream, which you can eat now with some sauce on the top, OR you can refreeze it in a container for several hours. Once it's refrozen, you can heat it up for a minutes in the microwave on a high setting, like you would do after refreezing normal ice cream. 

*Note: Unlike the ricotta ice cream, which was creamier due to the whipped ricotta cheese, the texture of this ice cream is more like a sorbet, and you can add more cream than milk if you don't mind that it's not as healthy to make it creamier. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                           The Tropical Ginger-Citrus Charoset

                                            The Sephardic Date Charoset

                                            The Ashkenazi Apple Charoset

The Ice Cream: Stage 1: Ice Cream Cubes (lip-shaped because my mom is that cool and has those at home--kisses!)

                                         The Ice Cream: Final Stage with the Sauce!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Ode to Her Majesty...With Scones!

I have this friend who's a serious Anglophile, so I hope he appreciates this post. As you can see from previous posts, I've been obsessed with raw kombucha fermented tea. GT's brand is my favorite because it's all natural with no sugar and pure ingredients (so the ginger one has fresh pressed ginger juice in it for example--REALLY good for stomach problems as I mentioned before). The other day, I got the citrus one, which had fresh lemon juice. Now you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with my scones, so I digress:

Before I bought the tea, I had been thinking about making gluten-free, high fiber, low-carb, low-fat buttermilk scones. Now, being that the majority of my desserts/baked goods are made without any dairy, I decided to make my own dairy-free buttermilk by combining coconut milk with some of the kombucha tea since lemon juice naturally sours any milk you put it in. To make it even more gourmet (naturally), I also put some lavender leaves in it as well and left it in the refrigerator for a week to let the kombucha really sour the milk (also because I was busy all week so if you do have the time, you can just leave it to sour the milk overnight). These scones were decidedly better tasting the day after they were made and they're not particularly that sweet because a popular condiment to sweeten scones is jam or jelly ( still, I might double the sugar next time though, or stevia, rather, as I only used 1/6th a cup--I put 1/3 a cup in the recipe but if you don't mind them not being that sweet, you can half it like my original recipe called for). Check out the recipe and make a tribute to Her Majesty as well! I forgot my camera in the apartment, and I'm currently on my way to see my parents in Syracuse for Passover, so there won't be photos of these scones unfortunately until later, but stay posted for some delicious recipes from this weekend's seder (for those of you non-Jews, a seder is basically a huge feast similar to Thanksgiving, only it revolves around the telling of the story of Passover, and as you may have guessed, it's a pretty big deal at my house--we make enough food for an army)!

Lemon-Lavender Buttermilk Scones with 'Coconutty' Crumble
Makes about 1 dozen scones

1 c. garbanzo bean flour
1 c. almond flour/meal
1/4 c. flax seed powder
3/4 c. coconut flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 pinches of salt
1/3 c. raw stevia powder
1 1/4 c. coconut buttermilk: 3/4 c. light coconut milk + 3/4 c. GT's raw organic kombucha--citrus flavor
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted margarine (Earth Balance is the best, but Fleishman's is a good alternative, which I used)
1 tbsp almond extract
1/2 c. coconut vinegar (for syrup)
1/2 c. white Balsamic or Pinot Grigio vinegar (for syrup)
2 packets of raw stevia

Crumble Topping (will make a lot more than you need but this topping also goes well in yogurt as well):
1/2 c. ground sunflower seeds (I did this in a coffee grinder, but you can do it in the food processor if you'd like
1/2 c. ground walnuts (again in the coffee grinder)
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1 packet raw stevia

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) Grease a muffin tin with Pam butter spray or olive oil, or you can line the muffin tin with foil liners (I don't have heart-shaped muffin liners to fit my specialty pan, so I just greased it).
3) Mix dry ingredients together with a fork in a large bowl. 
4) Once margarine is a little softer from being in the freezer, you can do one of the following: 
a) The quicker and lazy way is to do these next steps in a food processor, but you don't need one--I just like using my shiny new one that I got as a gift from my mom whenever I have the chance. Anyway, moving on, if you have a food processor, slice the margarine into tablespoons and place the margarine in the processor and pour in about 1 cup of the dry mixture, turning it on. Gradually add in the rest of the dry ingredients until it forms course crumbs.
b) If you do not have a food processor, mix the tablespoons of margarine with a fork or a hand mixer.
5) a) If you're using the food processor, add the coconut buttermilk and almond extract, mixing it until a ball of dough forms.
b) If you're not using a food processor, make a well in the center of the bowl and add the almond extract and coconut buttermilk and blend with a hand mixer or a large wooden spoon until a large ball of dough forms.
6) Spoon out the dough into the muffin tin (I used my heart-shaped one that I've used previously for my celiac pancake recipe and the celiac cupcake recipe). 
7) With a knife, smooth out the tops of the dough.
8) Combine the ingredients for the crumble topping in a small bowl and sprinkle it on top of the muffins.
9) Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tops look slightly browned and crispy.
10) Meanwhile, heat up the vinegars and stevia in a small saucepan on medium heat until it starts to boil slightly and stir gently with a wooden spoon. *Note: My sister told me to mention that this process is pretty aromatic and will fill the kitchen with the scent of reduced vinegar. If this bothers you, open a 'fricken' door and deal with it--the results will be worth sacrificing one of your senses for the 10 minutes it takes to make this syrup. AND it's healthier than making a simple sugar syrup (as well as more sophisticated if you ask me)!
11) Stir occasionally until a syrup forms on your wooden spoon, for about 10-15 minutes.
12) Remove scones from the oven and drizzle the syrup on top. 
12) Place on cooling rack for a few minutes and serve immediately. I'd suggest cutting them in half horizontally and eating them with sugar-free jam (or regular if you don't care). 

Enjoy and Cheers!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 84: Burgers and Ice Cream

This week has been really hectic, hence the long gap in between posts. However, tonight I will make it up to you by giving you some healthy solutions to some typically really unhealthy foods. I liked the challenge of coming up with a salubrious way to tackle these doozers, and in the end, it was so worth it and I hope that it will be for you too! Burgers and ice cream--two classic American calorie and sugar-packed food items. You may be thinking, "Yeah right, how can I make THESE recipes healthy?" Well, I will prove your negative thoughts wrong and show you and you never know, maybe you will like my sugar-free, low calorie alternatives better, or at least that's my hope. Also, I should mention that there's no real meat in the burgers so this meal can actually be kosher too as you wouldn't be mixing milk and meat.  Plus, I found out a way through another blog how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, which is another plus, especially since I don't have one and don't want to have to buy one! So don't be a wuss and take the challenge--you will thoroughly enjoy the results, I promise!

Mini Spicy Black Bean-Mushroom Burgers on Grilled Artichoke Buns
Makes 12 mini cakes

2 tbsp soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s brand)
1 c. black beans
5-6 mini Portobello mushrooms
1/4 block light firm tofu
1 c. collard greens
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Spanish olive juice
1 tbsp capers and pimentos from Spanish olive jar
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4th chickpea flour
¼ c. sunflower seeds grounded
½ c. walnuts
½ c. EVOO (olive oil) 
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp cumin powder

2 slices vegan cheddar cheese (I like Vegan Gourmet brand)
1 tbsp vegan Bac’un bits, grounded

Artichoke Buns with Vegan Egg Substitute:
2 fresh artichokes
3 tbsp flax seed powder
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/8th tsp black pepper
1 tsp seafood seasoning (Le Flor brand)
6 tbsp water

1) Gradually blend the mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until creamy.
2) Place in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours (can be made the night before).
3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4) Line a muffin pan with foil liners and pour the bean mixture into each cup.
5) Bake the bean burgers in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they feel slightly firm to the touch.
6) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the artichokes for about 30 minutes on medium-high setting.
7) Drain the pot and remove the leaves from the artichoke, reserving them for a side dish or snack later--they're good with mayonnaise or light Italian dressing. Note: Make sure you remove the 'hairs' with a spoon from the hearts--these are NOT edible and you will choke on them if you try to eat them. 
8) Grease a medium-sized skillet with Pam olive oil and set the heat to a medium setting.
9) Whisk together the vegan egg mixture (flax seed powder, water and spices).
10) Saturate the artichoke hearts in the vegan egg mixture and place into the pan, placing the lid on top for it to steam for a few minutes.
11) Flip the artichoke hearts on the other side carefully and pour some of the vegan egg mixture on top, covering the skillet with the lid again.
12) After the egg mixture looks browned, remove the hearts from the skillet.
13) Layer 1 slice vegan cheddar cheese onto one artichoke heart with some vegan bacon bits on top.
14) Place a burger on top, along with another slice of vegan cheddar and some vegan bacon bits.
15) Top with the remainder artichoke heart and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Lemony Ricotta Cream With Candied Almonds & Toasted Coconut
Makes about 5 cups

2 c. light coconut milk
1 ½ c. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ tsp raw stevia extract (comes in a small bottle with a dropper)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
2 tsp ground basil leaves (can use fresh)
2 sprigs of fresh lavender leaves
2 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp ground mint leaves (can use fresh)
4 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp guar gum

3/4-1 c. light coconut milk

½ c. slivered almonds
½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 c. coconut vinegar 
3/4 c. white Balsamic vinegar or Pinot Grigio vinegar (I used Bertoli brand)
2 packets of raw stevia


1 handful sliced almonds
1 handful unsweetened coconut
1 square bittersweet or extra dark chocolate (I'm talking at least 70%--the darker, the healthier and tastier in my opinion: I like Scharffen Berger brand of bittersweet chocolate because the whole bar is only 2 servings so one small piece is really not that may calories! Lindt 85% is also pretty tasty.)
1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk + 1 packet raw stevia

1) Soak the herbs in the coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or for at least several hours 
2) In a large pot, mix together the ricotta, almond milk and herbed coconut milk and turn the heat onto a medium setting.
3) Add the stevia extract, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts, guar gum and the ginger.
4) Whisk the egg yokes with a fork in a small bowl and then dump them into the pot with the creamy mixture.
5) Now I want you to whisk the bejeezus out the ricotta cream for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Not only will you get a good upper arm workout doing this, but you want to make sure that the guar gum fully dissolves and doesn't clump up in the mixture (something I learned from thickening soup--it acts like corn starch and will clump up and become 'gluey' if you don't really whisk it into the mixture, and nobody likes eating glue...unless you're 5 years old). 
6) Once mixture is thickened, pour the ricotta cream into ice cube trays (I filled about 3 trays) and place in the freezer overnight.
7) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
8) Place the coconut on the sheet and bake it for about 15 minutes (until it looks browned and toasted).
9) Meanwhile, heat up a large skillet on medium heat and pour in the vinegars with the 2 packets of stevia, stirring them together for about 5 minutes.
10) Add the slivered almonds and cover the pot with a lid for a couple minutes or until the vinegar starts to boil and become syrupy.
11) Turn down the heat to medium-low setting and stir until the syrup thickens slightly.
12) Place toasted coconut and candied almonds in separate bowls in the refrigerator to cool down a bit while finishing the ice cream.
7) Put the frozen cubes of cream into a food processor starting with 3/4 cup of the coconut milk.
8) Blend throughly, adding more coconut milk if necessary. Note: The air from the processor will act like an ice cream maker and whip the mixture into soft ice cream and yet, you didn't even have to use an ice cream maker (which I don't have)! Thank you, Food Lab! It won't however, make hard ice cream, because that machine does keep it consistently cold while you're churning it. I might try to emulate this process next time by placing the food processor in a big bowl of ice to keep it cold as it's blending the ice cream. And it'll be vegan since my sister can't have dairy. 
9) Once ice cream is smooth, pour into a large container and stir in the coconut and candied almonds.
10) Heat up bittersweet chocolate, almond milk and stevia in a small bowl in the microwave on high for about 1 minute and stir until it's melted completely.
11) Place sauce on top of ice cream, along with the sliced almonds and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately or place in the freezer again. Note: If you put it in the freezer, just place the container in the microwave on high for about 1 1/2 minutes and scoop out the ice cream into a bowl. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

I gladly used my adorable skulls and cross-bone ice cube trays leftover from Halloween to freeze the cream mixture:
                                                            Aren't they cute???

    Finished product topped with sliced almonds, coconut and melted bittersweet chocolate

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 78: The Salubrious Palate Goes To Israel (Well Almost)!

I'm going to start off by saying that I'm not a club girl--I think clubs are a waste of money and I don't like being charged the same amount for alcoholic drinks when I just order a club soda with lime. My preferred way of meeting people is at quaint dinner parties, which brings me to to divulge about the delectable feast I enjoyed at my friend Jaclyn's apartment last night. Since she just got back from a free trip to Israel sponsored by the infamous Birthright organization (for those of you gentiles out there, it's basically an organization that sponsors various free trips for young Jews between the ages of 18 and 26 who've never been on an organized trip to Israel as they believe that it's every Jew's birthright to visit Israel). A lot of colleges and universities' Jewish clubs such as Hillel and Chabbad send students but there are also themed trips not affiliated with any institution, such as the one that Jackie went on, which was a culinary tour of Israel. Afterwards, Birthright will pay you to host a small dinner party with the people from your trip, and even though I did not go on the culinary tour (I went 7 years ago after my freshman year of college at Syracuse with a group from the university), Jackie knows about my blog and invited me to her party anyway, which I thought was especially sweet considering there's a limit to the amount of dinner guests you can host. Therefore, I obviously had to bring some side dishes, so I brought two vegan and gluten-free dishes (nobody was a vegan but I thought, what the hell, some of us can't have dairy or wheat, and there was already going to be meat and chicken dishes). I also wanted to show people that eating vegan food is not as scary as some people make it out to be, and my dishes were a huge success, with the people I met there begging for the recipes! I took pictures of the whole spread (which included Jackie's Israel couscous salad, a mixed green salad she made, her meat-stuffed eggplant, baked brie and goat cheese, and roasted chicken from a local Mexican joint. I forgot to take pictures of the desserts which consisted of banana bread, chocolate toffee bark and Egyptian kanafeh).  So take a look and enjoy:

Israeli Veggie Tofu Salad Mediterranean White Bean Dressing
Makes 8-10 servings

1 c. chickpeas
1 c. green chickpeas
1 orange bell pepper, chopped into ½ inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, chopped into ½ inch pieces (about 1 cup)
4 palm hearts, sliced thinly
1 medium cucumber, chopped into ½” pieces (about 1 cup)
1 c. yellow cherry heirloom tomatoes, chopped into ½” pieces
1 c. kumatoes (that’s a fancy word for brownish-green tomatoes), chopped into ½” pieces
1- 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, with the hearts separated from the leaves (these are the “bottom stem part” that you can chop off)
½ block light extra firm tofu

Mediterranean White Bean Dressing :
Makes about 4 cups

3/4  c. Bobbi’s Tuscan White Bean Dip
½ c. Tofutti sour cream
2 bunches of fresh parsley
2 bunches of fresh cilantro
1 c. light silken tofu
2 tbsp lemon juice
5 slices of sun-dried tomatoes
6 kalamata olives, pitted
leftover hearts from canned artichoke hearts

1) Combine all the veggies and legumes (beans) in a large bowl.
2) Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch strips and toss into the salad.
3) Place the dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
4) Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together with a large wooden spoon.
5) Place in the refrigerator to marinate for several hours (can be made the previous night) and then serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Super Protein-Packed Quinoa Salad
Makes 8-10 servings

2 c. quinoa (I used tri-colored organic quinoa from Trader Joe’s)
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. slivered almonds or sliced almonds
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
2 c. golden raisins
1 c. white onions
½ vegan spicy sausage link (I used Trader Joe’s Soy chorizo and they also have “Sausageless Italian sausage—both are extremely tasty, and are gluten-free, unlike a lot of vegan sausages, which use wheat gluten)
½ c. water
½ c. Balsamic vinegar
½ c. coconut vinegar (yes, they make coconut vinegar and it’s actually popular in Southeast Asian cuisine)
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
¾ c. coconut water
1 tbsp agave nectar

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Dump the quinoa and golden raisins in a large pot.
3) Pour in the coconut water, almond milk, water, Balsamic vinegar and agave nectar and stir with a large spoon.
4) Turn on the burner to medium-high heat and cook the quinoa and raisins for about 5-7 minutes, until most of the mixture has boiled off, stirring occasionally with a large spoon. 
5) Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa plumps up.  
6) Meanwhile, grease a small skillet with Pam olive oil and cook the onions on medium heat until they look translucent and then stir into the quinoa mixture.
7) Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and spread the coconut mixture and the slivered almonds onto one sheet and the sunflower seeds and walnuts on the other sheet.
8) Toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they look lightly browned and then stir into the quinoa.
9) Cut half the vegan chorizo and crumble it into the mixture as well and stir for a couple minutes.
10) Turn off the heat and place the salad in the refrigerator to marinate for a couple hours (can be made the night before) before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
                         My Quinoa Salad (L) and Israeli Tofu-Veggie Salad (R)
Jackie's Baked Brie with Apricot Jelly (L) and Baked Goat Cheese With Fig Jelly (R)

  The Spread with Jackie's Israeli Couscous Salad (L) and Mixed Salad (R):

                             The Mexican Roasted Chicken (Well, some of it)

                                                Jackie's Meat-Stuffed Eggplant:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 75: Chicken Soup For The Soul: Take Two

Earlier this week, my sister's stomach was upset (as you may have figured out by now, our stomachs are very sensitive, which is in part, why I started a healthier diet low on dairy and nuts, processed sugars/carbs, and with no gluten-based products or red meat). As most doctors will tell you, ginger is a very good natural aid for upset stomachs. So is garlic. Therefore, I decided to combine the two for a Chinese version of the feel-good chicken noodle soup! However, instead of just adding fresh ginger, I've joined the bandwagon of drinking kombucha tea (a fermented kelp based tea), and I love GT's brand of raw organic kombucha teas. For this soup, I used about half a bottle of the 'gingeraid' that he makes with fresh ginger and very little sugar (only 2 grams per 8 fl. oz.)! Some people don't like the taste of kombucha--it's rather strong depending on the length of fermentation, but I love it and Hannah couldn't even tell that there was kombucha in her soup! Plus, it did make her feel better, which was the initial goal. For those of you under the weather, check out this recipe and warm the cockles of your soul with chicken noodle soup!

Chinese Ginger-Garlic Chicken Egg Drop Soup with Tofu Noodles and Bok Choy
Makes about 8 cups

5 small frozen chicken breasts or 10 large breasts cut in half
1 bok choy, chopped into large pieces
1 c. minced garlic
2 c. GT’s raw organic kombucha gingeraide (kombucha tea with fresh ginger in it) OR 2 tbsp ginger pieces + 2 cups water 
2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 c. light silken tofu
1 c. white onions, chopped into 1/2” chunks
2 large eggs
1- 8 oz. package of tofu noodles (I used House Foods’ Tofu Shirataki spaghetti)
1 tsp guar gum for thickening
2 tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice

1) Defrost the chicken breasts in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes and using a sharp knife, cut them into small strips and set aside.
2) In a large pot, pour in the kombucha, vegetable broth, and the "juice" from the defrosted chicken, and bring to a slight boil on medium-high heat.
3) Add in the Sriracha sauce, lemon juice, silken tofu and the spices.
4) Rinse off the bok choy and dump into the soup, turning down the heat to medium-low setting.
5) Cover the pot with a lid to let it simmer while preparing the onions and garlic.
6) Grease a small skillet with Pam olive oil and stir-fry the onions on medium heat with the minced garlic until they become translucent.
7) Add the mixture along with the chicken pieces into the soup and turn up the heat again until the broth starts to boil slightly.
8) Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl before stirring them into the soup.
9) Add the guar gum and really stir in so it doesn't congeal in the soup--this will thicken it a bit.
10) Once the chicken and eggs look cooked, turn off the heat and serve immediately!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 70: Scrumptious Salubrious Squash!

Being on a diet low in complex carbs, I admit, I do miss bread, pasta, and other foods traditionally deemed as 'poisons' for people with low-metabolisms such as myself. That's why I've been creative in the kitchen to come up with some tasty alternatives that will make the losing with so much the better! My dad's been on the same quest to change his life around because as he said, if you can't control what you put into your mouth, what can you can control in life? You wouldn't consume poison, so that's how I motivate myself not to eat the delicious pasta/pizza/bread baskets I've encountered at restaurants and grocery stores. Anyway, back to the squash: Even though it hasn't really felt like a true winter in New York City, it has been a lovely season for squash and there are so many kinds to choose from, it's not even funny! My new favorite is called spaghetti squash. That's right--I said spaghetti--but lo and behold, it's a much healthier alternative to the high-carb pasta you may be thinking of. Spaghetti squash has the look of spaghetti (if it were a squash), with yellow strands that you peel away from the rind and you can pretty much substitute it in any recipe that would normally call for traditional spaghetti, like spaghetti and meatballs, noodle kugel, etc.  However, I used it in replace of noodles along with some thinly sliced tofu for some gluten-free, vegan Mexican lasagna tonight. My sister agreed that it was most definitely scrumptious and salubrious! Along with this recipe, I'm also including a second take on celiac pancakes that uses pumpkin instead of coconut. Take a look:

Vegan Mexican Lasagna
Makes 8 servings

2-3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 c. yellow and brown cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 cup white onions, chopped
1 3/4 c. spaghetti squash
3/4 block light firm tofu (I used Nasoya brand)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp lime juice
4-6 squirts Tabasco sauce
1 packet raw stevia
1/4 c. Tofutti sour cream
1/8 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/8 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp vegan pesto sauce (Bear Pond Farm's)
1/3 cup black beans
3 tbsp Toffuti sour cream
1/2 c. grated vegan cheddar cheese (I used Vegan Gourmet, which was actually tasty and melted just like regular cheese, unlike most vegan alternatives)
1/4 c. lactose free cheddar cheese (optional, since it's not vegan)

1 tbsp soy bacon bits (Bac'Uns brand) for garnish
1 tbsp ground oregano for garnish
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Rinse off the kale, swiss chard, and tomatoes in a colander and set aside.
3) Layer 1 cup of kale and swiss chard onto the bottom of the pan, topping it with 1 cup of cherry tomatoes.
4) Place the onions in a small skillet and caramelize with the raw stevia and balsamic vinegar, stirring them on medium-high heat until they appear translucent, about 5 minutes. 
5) In a small bowl, combine vegetable broth, garlic, pesto sauce, almond milk, 1/4 c. sour cream and lime juice.
6) Cut the tofu into thin 1/8" slices and cover the veggie mixture with about half the amount.
7) In a small food processor, blend the beans with the 3 tbsp sour cream and Tabasco sauce until smooth. 
8) Spread 1/8 c. of the mashed beans on around the tofu slices on the veggie layer.
9) Layer on the rest of the kale and Swiss chard, topping it with the remaining tomatoes and caramelized onions.
10) Place the remainder of the tofu slices on top, pouring the creamy mixture from before on top of the tofu.11) Sprinkle the vegan cheddar on top of the mixture, garnishing with the cilantro, oregano and vegan bacon bits.
12) Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place the dish in the oven to bake for about 30-35 minutes. 
13) Divide and serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Mini Pumpkin Pancake Muffins
Makes about 16 mini pancake muffins

½ c. canned pumpkin
4 tbsp flax powder
4 tbsp almond meal/flour
4 packets of raw stevia
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs separated
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Chinese five-spice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and sift together with a fork.
3) Whisk in the egg yolks along with the vanilla extract and the Chinese five-spice.
4) In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they form foam peaks.
5) Fold the egg whites into the batter.
6) Line 2 8-cup muffin pans with aluminum cupcake liners and spray them lightly with Pam Buttery spray. (I used a heart-shaped muffin pan along with my regular pan, which I obviously couldn't line with cupcake liners, so that's part's optional as I discovered later).
7) Bake pancake muffins in the oven for about 1-15 minutes, until they bounce back to the touch and are slightly browned on top.
8) Serve with the balsamic syrup from the previous pancake recipe!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!