Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gluten Free and VEGAN Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler

My first experience with rhubarb was out of this world.  Well, technically, out of this country. While living as an exchange student in Germany, my family shared many dishes right out of their own back yard garden. Feeling inspired by the lovely weather we had last week, I planted my own garden in the back yard and one of the first plants I planted into my garden box was a small rhubarb plant with two tiny stalks. Sadly, I will have to wait for garden fresh rhubarb, but in the meantime, I found some lovely organic rhubarb at our local New Season's Market along with a recipe for gluten-free AND vegan crisp! I figured I'd better know how to cook it now before my rhubarb is large enough to harvest.


2 pounds of rhubarb stalks
1 pint of blackberries
1/2 cup of demerara  or brown sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup, it felt pretty sweet at 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of gluten free oats
1/2 cup of gluten free all purpose baking mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick of vegan butter (I always use Natural Balance Buttery Sticks)

1. Preheat oven to 350*F
2. Lightly oil deep pie pan, deep 8 inch square pan or small cast iron casserole dish. Must be deep! There is a lot of fruit and gets bubbly! I used a  cast iron casserole dish.
3.  Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and toss into dish along with blackberries.
4. In a separate bowl, add sugars, flour, oats, and salt. Stir to mix.
5. Cut butter into small cubes and add to dry mix. Use hands to mix well into dry, crumbly mix.
6. Refridgerate mixture for at least 10-15 minutes before using.
7. Crumble mixture on top of rhubarb/blackberry mixture evenly.
8. Place in oven, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove when top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbling around the side. Serve warm alone, or with your favorite vegan ice cream! My favorite just happens to be So Delicious Vanilla flavored coconut ice cream! I have to admit, I have broken down and had real ice cream a few time since going vegan. That being said, I think the coconut ice cream is STILL better than the real stuff and sweetened only with agave and made with good-for-you coconut milk. Hard to beat.

I DARE you to actually have this sitting around in your house for longer than an hour! It will be gone before you know it!

Red Lentil Soup with Curry, Sweet Potatoes and Greens

Lentils are just about the most amazing legume! Packed with protein, fiber, iron, vitamins and even been know to lower blood sugar levels . Not to mention easy to cook (no soaking needed!), and lends itself to so many flavors. With the sudden chilly change in late-spring weather, I felt the need to make a heaping pot of lentil soup and try swiss chard for the first time. As a long time kale lover, I felt compelled to try its cousin, chard. I checked out my new cookbooks until I came to the perfect recipe in my new cookbook, "Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons," by Nava Atlas. As usual, I took the original recipe and tweaked it a bit until I came out with a decent pot of soup. Not my favorite, but will most likely be a work in progress as I make it over and over again.

2 tablespoons safflower oil, coconut oil, or other high heat oil (olive oil scorches under heat and should never be used for cooking).
1 medium chopped red onion (I used my progressive vegetable chopper to put soup together in a snap)
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your preference. I used 2 XL cloves of elephant garlic.
8 cups of water or low sodium vegetable stock (I used water plus 2 tablespoons of Better than Vegetable Stock)
2 cups of dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
2-3 teaspoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala (or alternatively 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
1 bunch (about 3 large leaves) of swiss chard, ribs removed, rinsed and sliced
2 large handfuls of baby spinach
optional: 4 peeled and sliced carrots
Juice of lemon and/or lime (I used both)

1. Heat oil in large soup pot or cast iron casserole pot
2. Add onion and garlic and sautee on medium until onion is soft and golden, about 10 minutes
3. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, and seasoning and turn to coat.
4. Add water with bouillon or vegetable stock, lentils, and ginger.
5. Bring to simmer, cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes until lentils are can be smashed and sweet potatoes and carrots are done.
6. Add washed, sliced chard and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
7. Add spinach and cook another 5 minutes. Add lime and/or lemon to taste. I used about one good squirt from an organic lemon and lime bottles.
8. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours on the stove, off the heat. As with most soups, it will taste better after allowing it to rest and have all the flavors meld together.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh with Broccoli

I confess. I had some processed soy and wheat today. It wasn't pretty. I came home from the barn and was craving cheesy nachos. Hmm... found some of my husbands tortillas (mission tortillas- read the ingredients. Have you noticed you have no idea what 99% of the ingredients are?) and some really old soy cheese (still hadn't expired). I sliced up the tortillas, topped with soy cheese, salt, and garlic powder and threw it under the broiler till crispy. It was tasty, until I finished the last chip. I didn't eat very much, but I had an instant reaction. My brain went fuzzy and felt suddenly nauseated. Post nacho incident, I wasn't able to eat anything, other than the 2 GT kombucha drinks to settle my stomach (my own miracle in a bottle)! As soon as I felt stable enough to go to the store, I headed over to New Seasons. I wandered through aimlessly, making several laps trying to find everything on my list, but too out of it to really get everything in order from one side of the store to the other. While wandering around the produce section, I ran across a display for a recipe that sounded intersting: Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh. It sounded easy, delicious, and wholesome. Exactly what my queasy stomach needed! I made the usual adaptations as needed and what I came up with is exactly what the doctor ordered. The final product was slightly sweet with ginger undertones, somewhat reminiscent of a healthier version of orange chicken!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Indian Spiced Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

After a long exhausting day, I was craving some Indian flavor! I found a recipe out of "The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Whole Foods Recipes for Personal and Planetary Health, Second Edition". I modified it, as usual, and it turned out fabulous! While sauteing the carrots, onions, and garlic with Garam Masala (indian spice mix of cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, corriander, and cardamom, found in most grocery stores in the spice section), it suddenly hit me! Butternut Squash would go perfect in here, and it just so happened that I had 3 bags of frozen diced organic butternut squash. Now, I can't imagine making lentil soup any other way. Enjoy :)


French Lentil Soup - Oui Oui!

Ok, so Soup Sunday has rolled around again, and my cupboard is overrunning with several varieties of lentils. Luckily, I had just the right amount of French Green Lentils, and have never tried French Lentils before. For lentil newbies, there are several varieties of lentils, the most popular and easiest available being brown lentils, french green lentils, and red lentils. Lentil are a variable wonder food. They are packed with fiber, protein, and not to mention easy to prepare and inexpensive! How much better can it get! You can read more about the wonderful health properties of lentil by following this link .


Vanilla Almond Smoothie

Eating a vegan diet, one concern that often comes up is sources of complete protein and vitamins. While I firmly believe that eating a vegan diet is much healthier than a meat eating one, the question keeps coming up. Research shows that following a whole foods vegan diet leads to increased digestibility of protein, vitamins, and minerals, since a whole food vegan diet is easy to digest. Still, I like to start of my morning right, and most vegan gluten free breakfasts leave me hungry 5 minutes later. Hence, my morning protein smoothie ritual. Words cannot express how good I feel when I start of my morning with a healthy, and preferably green breakfast smoothie. In my 2 years as a vegan, I have tried many smoothie protein powders with mixed success. Some tasted AWFUL, while others tasted better but loaded with isolated soy protein (official word is still out, but I believe in sticking to vegetables and whole foods, instead of relying on isolated soy protein for my only protein source). I found the best combination of healthy and tasty smoothies in Sequel Natural's Vega Whole Food Optimizer Smoothie Mix.

Green Berry Proten Smoothies

Ignore how this smoothie looks. I promise, it tastes better than it looks, and a super way to start your day!

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