Tuesday, October 22, 2013

veggie stack

While living in Australia we discovered the veggie stack. There was an awesome little fresh produce market and deli called Be Fresh that made a variation of this baked-all veggie-layered casserole.  They definitely had cheese in theirs, which melted into a golden crust on top and was then smothered in sweet chili sauce. Genius. But I, of course, have created a vegan version of their delectable masterpiece. And in the process I have realized that the possibilities of stackable vegetables is virtually endless. So, play around, substitute, add, or take out any veggies you like!

My veggies included:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 sweet potato 

Slice all veggies into thin rounds or strips, think "lasagna noodles".

My "cheese" layer, which I like to call vegan ricotta, goes a little something like this:

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 10 oz tofu
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • handful of fresh herbs (I did chives, basil, and parsley)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.

Layer your veggies however you like in a lightly greased baking dish, I did sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, 1/2 of the tofu cheese, sweet potatoes, eggplant, other 1/2 of the tofu cheese, and topped it off with zucchini.

Ready to go in the oven!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, bake for 40 minutes covered with foil, and then ten minutes uncovered. It sure doesn't look vegan!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

broccoli millet burgers + basil aioli

So, I know my last post was incredibly boring and pictureless, sorry! Hopefully this one is more entertaining, and way more delicious!

Another kind of veggie burger, yay! These were SUPER easy to make and they held up really well! The original recipe, here, calls for couscous but I am just in love with millet! There are a few other changes that I made to the original as well, but check it out because it also looks dinner worthy.

So, start with the millet:

  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 3/4 cup water

Combine millet and water in saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 min. Mine was done around 17 min. All of the water should be absorbed and the millet should fluff up with a fork (kind of like you do with couscous.). This should make about two cups cooked millet.

While your millet is cooking I suggest getting the aioli prepared so it has time to marinate. It is best when done ahead of time, for all of the flavors to infuse.

  • 2 cloves garlic (if you aren't a garlic freak like I am I would suggest just one clove)
  • few basil leaves (I always use more than a few because of my over-productive basil plant)
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon, unless its super juicy, should be about 1 tsp
  • 1/4 cup vegenaise 

Chop garlic as fine as you can. A press would be nice, but I prefer the smear and scrape method; smear the minced garlic on the cutting board with the knife flat, then scrape it off with the blade and do it again, you are going for a paste-like consistency. Chop basil as fine as you can as well. Combine all your aioli ingredients in a little bowl and let chill in the fridge.

Now for the burgers:

  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small onion or about 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • small handful of fresh parsley
  • 2 cups cooked millet (previously prepared)
yes! I got a brand spankin' new food processor! Hallelujah!

Throw broccoli and onion into your food process and chop until small, doesn't have to be fine. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined. Its a fun consistency, like green chunky play-dough. Make them into paddies and place on a grilling or baking sheet. As we all know by now, I do not have an oven (I live in a tiny studio!) so I cooked my burgers on my gas grill on a grilling sheet. They could easily be done in the oven though! Just whack them into a preheated 400 degree oven on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

We ate our burgers with avocado, tomato, spinach, and basil aioli in whole wheat pita pockets. Outstanding.

I would like to give a shout out to my bother and dear mother who bought me a food processor for my birthday! Thank you thank you thank you! I couldn't have asked for anything better! And I am especially stoked because my birthday isn't until Thanksgiving! But now I can get into the pumpkin recipes early! Mahalo to my wonderful family.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

what is gluten?

This was a little research report I did for my nutrition class recently. I thought it would be nice to just share some info!


The Gluten Project

What is gluten?

Gluten is the term used for the compound protein found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is found in any food product that uses these grains. Some commonly known food products that contain gluten are bread, flour, pasta, tortillas, crackers, cakes, and cereal. Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but they are commonly processed on the same machinery, so they are cross-contaminated.

There are hundreds of food products out there that we wouldn’t even guess contain gluten. Since gluten is the part of the grain responsible for making things thick and starchy, it is used to add texture in everything from chocolate bars, to salad dressings, to low fat ice cream. A few other unsuspecting gluten carriers are soy sauce, mustard, hot dogs, pickles, and chewy candies. Even instant coffee and ground beef can have gluten added to it to bulk it up.

Can I eat gluten?

People who cannot eat gluten have Celiac disease, also known as Celiac Sprue. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes your defensive white blood cells to attack your own small intestine. The damage and inflammation to the lining of the small intestine inhibits absorption of nutrients and water. It is triggered by gluten and common symptoms are malnutrition, weight loss, diarrhea, stomach pain, and fatigue. Celiac disease is genetic, and it may appear later in life, as your body becomes more intolerant to gluten. Not everyone who has Celiac Sprue in their genes has Celiac disease, or they may just not have it yet.

The treatment for Celiac disease is a gluten free diet. There are many gluten free products available today, including, gluten free tortillas, crackers, cookies, and oats. There are many other fiber and nutrient packed grains that don’t contain gluten as well such as quinoa, millet, rice, amaranth, and buckwheat. Also available are non-wheat, non-gluten flours. Some easy substitutes are coconut flour, garbanzo flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, or buckwheat flour.

It is important for someone with Celiac disease to eat a diet of unprocessed whole foods, and foods they make themselves. This way, there can be no hidden gluten. 

It has come to my attention that a lot of people who buy gluten free products and leave gluten out of there diets may be missing out on essential nutrients. A gluten free diet doesn't mean a healthier diet. Whole grains are very good for us, if we can digest them. So, with this information, choose your diet wisely, and listen to your body. My advice to you would be; if you can eat gluten, eat it in healthy whole grains, because there is no reason not to.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

crunchy blueberry almond granola bars

Yet another attempt at the perfect snack. Is it even out there? Maybe it is, maybe its not, I don't know.
But I do know one thing, I need snacks all the time. In all shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. I am.... a snacker. So, I continue my quest for homemade and healthy things I can take with me and eat anytime, anywhere.

These crunchy creations were my first attempt at a baked bar. They worked out pretty well! Although I was expecting them to be more of a chewy bar than a crunchy bar. hmmm, any ideas? What would make them chewy?

Back to the bars:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Melt pb, coconut oil, and brown rice syrup over low heat, just enough to combine completely. Chop almonds to desired size and combine with all other dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour melted syrup mixture over dry ingredients and toss until completely coated. Transfer mixture onto lined cookie sheet and spread out to the edges. Use a piece of plastic wrap to compress it all into the tray, the more flat and compressed you can get it, the better your bars are going to stick together. The plastic wrap is just so your hands don't stick to the mixture. If you have another method of compacting it, feel free! And let me know what it is!

Place cookie sheet in oven on middle rack and back for 15-20. If you want crispier bars, just bake them a little longer, at 20 minutes they will still be chewy.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before moving. If you try to cut them, or move them when it is hot, it will all just fall apart, and you will have delicious granola! So, when they are mostly cool, lift the whole tray out with the parchment paper, cut into bars! I have to store mine in the fridge because of the ant problem in hawaii, but I think they would do fine just on the counter, in another climate without ants.