Friday, April 25, 2008

Dinner for Maman

When I told Joe my mom was coming to visit, he decided we should make dinner for her. As friends who share the love of food, we spent the next few days deciding what to make. It all came together after Joe took a nap and dreamed up exactly what he wanted to make: Salmon baked in Pinot Noir with a yogurt-dill sauce. Not quite the Southwestern theme we were originally planning but it sounded delicious none the less. With a side of Isreali couscous and sauteed wax beans with garlic and our meal had perfect flavor complements. We critiqued ourselves on the lack of color variation on the plate but got over it quickly after the first bite. The dill sauce was refreshing and the wax beans perfectly cooked.

I don't have a recipe for the salmon because there isn't one really-but, here is the recipe for the Chocolate Pots de Creme that I made for dessert.

They came out amazingly smooth and rich. My mom was very pleased. Another successful dinner gathering with good food, good friends, and good laughs.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Green Smoothies

For the past couple weeks I've been incorporating Green Smoothies into my diet. It's amazing the amount of fruits and vegetable servings you can consume per glass. Many people have seen marked health improvements by just adding one drink per day. Things like clearer skin, better digestion, and improved energy are just some of the claims. I have noticed clearer skin and less sweet cravings since drinking them. They taste really good-much like Odwalla Superfood and you can play around with the green to fruit ratio and with many different combinations. I've been making them in the food processor, which works fine, but we've just acquired a blender that I'm looking forward to using. I fill up the processor with as many greens as I can fit. Any combination or baby spinach, kale, chard, sprouts, or parsley is what I use most often. Some people use romaine or other lettuces but I really don't enjoy their flavor so I stick to the ones I listed. It's good to change which greens you use because some are high in oxalic acid that can be harsh on your system. So one day, use just kale or a mixture or kale and spinach and then change it up the next. Once I've crammed the processor with the greens I add a little water and blend-adding more water if necessary to get the smoothie consistency. Then I add one banana, an apple, and a handful or two of berries. You can add smoothie supplements at this point too-I'll throw in some Maca Powder sometimes...EFA blends, bee pollen, or hemp seed would also be great additions. Then I blend it again until it's smooth. This makes about a quart of smoothie so 2-3 days worth. If I'm replacing breakfast with it then I'll drink 16 oz. but if it's in addition to cereal or toast I'll have only 8-12 oz. It's a good idea to chew a little while you're drinking them because this will begin the digestion process and make your tummy happier. Here are some more sources that I've used while researching this topic:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Chai Apple Cake

My lab got out early today so I found myself with an extra hour and a half of free time. What did I do with that time? Shockingly...I baked! I've been thinking lately about making a tea infused cake. Early Grey is the kind I've been hearing about most recently but I was more in the mood for chai. Unfortunately, I had neither of these exciting tea flavors in my tea basket today so I settled on a chai-spiced cake because I always have a healthy supply of those essential Indian cooking elements. I've also been trying to stay away from refined sugar so this cake is sweetened with fruit juice and a little agave nectar. The recipe base is a sugarfree cake recipe that I tweaked to satisfy my cravings and the ingredients I had on hand.

I started by mixing up the spices that I wanted to use. They included 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. fennel, and 2 tsp. cardammom. Some clove and black pepper might be a good addition in the future but I thought I'd keep it simple today. I added these to my motar and pestal and ground it until everything was evenly combined. It made more than I needed but it's easy to find another recipe to throw in the rest. The recipe called for apple juice concentrate but I only had unconcentrated-so, I poured about 2 cups into a saucepan with a couple squirts of agave nectar and reduced it until it was about 3/4 cup. This allowed enough for the 1/2 cup in the cake and then I added 1 Tbsp. of butter to the last 1/4 cup as a glaze for the top.

Chai Apple Cake
2 eggs
1/2 c. reduced apple juice and agave or
thawed apple juice concentrate
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
3 tsp. chai spice blend
1/2 tsp. salt
1 McIntosh apple
1/4 c. apple glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a springform pan or other round cake pan. In a bowl, beat eggs and whisk in apple juice concentrate/reduction and vanilla. Slowly whisk in butter. In another bowl combine flour, baking power, spices and salt and mix to evenly combine. Blend dry ingredients into liquids and stir until completely incorporated. Core and thinly slice apple (with our without skin). Pour batter into pan and arrange apple slices in a circular fan-ish pattern (the technical term I'm sure).
Brush apples with a little of the glaze and place in the oven. Bake 35-40 minutes until firm and golden on top. Remove from the oven, poke some holes in the top with a fork and pour the rest of the glaze evenly over the top. Allow to cool completely before removing the springform if using.
I'm not a real cake person. I definitely lean towards pies or cobblers...but I love this cake. It's just sweet enough and it can be made more or less sweet just by altering the amount of agave added. The spice isn't overpowering so you can still taste each of the very few other ingredients. Apple and chai spices are a perfect complement to each other and with a cup of green tea or coffee it's a lovely afternoon tea-type cake (which is how I had it today while writing this post). Gotta love labs that get out early.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Oatmeal season is gone for sure. No more need for a steaming bowl of goodness to keep me warm all morning. I eat oatmeal literally every morning from fall through winter-but around this time each year, the thought of oatmeal for breakfast doesn't sound appealing at all. So, the natural alternative is granola...or muesli. Unfortunately, granola doesn't have the bulk of being cooked with water to be super satisfying...unless you eat a lot. It's kind of up there in the calorie realm so most servings should only be about 1/4 c.-which never really does it for me. To accomodate my need for a larger portion I made up a batch of granola, sweetened with apple juice and using only a few tablespoons of oil. It's really not sweet at all but adding a little vanilla to the milk or a squirt of agave nectar helps without straying from the original purpose.

The recipe is from the Rose Bakery cookbook. In itself, this is a beautiful cookbook from a Paris cafe I would LOVE to visit. They give two granola recipes-one being this sugarfree version and also a honey granola recipe. Both are delicious but naturally the one with honey is great in a wow-I'm-having-dessert-for-breakfast kind of traditional granola way.
My favorite part is the toasted almonds...oh, and the dried apricots that I use. I also added some shredded unsweetened coconut because I like how subtly it flavors the milk. While part of me is sad to see the comfort of oatmeal be tucked away for awhile, I'm totally prepared to embrace the onset of this granola season.
Sugar-free Granola
from Rose Bakery
4 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole almonds
3/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. wheat germ
1/2 c. apple juice
4 tbsp. sunflower oil
dried or fresh fruits
*shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 325-degrees.
Mix all ingredients, from oats to oil, together in bowl.
Spread out evenly on a baking tray.
Bake, turning often, for 45 min. to 1 hr.
Remove from oven and leave until cool.
Add dried fruit and serve with yogurt or milk.
(I use vanilla almond/rice milk)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Burgers

Lately I've been experimenting with sprouting my own grains and beans. My first attempt came after reading an article in Yoga Journal about how healthy and easy sprouting can be. One of the recipes was for these burgers so I determined it my project for the week. I started with dry garbanzo beans that I soaked for about 12 hours. I used an old yogurt container as the sprouting jar and poked holes in the lid for proper drainage. After soaking, I continued to rinse and drain the beans 3-4 times each day. The jar was stored upside down in the dish rack next to my sink. After a couple days the sprouts were visible and by day four they were about an inch long. It was kind of fun and MUCH easier than I ever expected. Here's the recipe I used for the burgers.

The recipe is the same as the one from the magazine, but here the burgers are actually split and used as the bun-I used the burgers as burgers. The variation could be fun to try though.

The burgers are moist and flavorful-kind of beany if you can imagine. I served it open-faced on sprouted bread with cheddar, avocado, and sprouts...I think I met my quota of sprouts for that day. These are great for lunch and the recipe makes about 12 patties-most of which I frozen for later.

Another fun thing I did was to meet with some of the walkers from The Longest Walk. The group of about 130 people came through Flagstaff over the last weekend. A couple walkers met with my boss and she decided to make dinner for all of them one night. Saturday night we got together and prepped all of the ingredients for Kitchari, Hippie Popcorn, and green tea for the large group. We also made dinner for ourselves, which included molded rice balls wrapped in sesame leaves, a very thrown together soup with a tumeric and ginger broth, peanut noodles with fresh basil, and an aloe vera and grape juice cocktail. The walkers were amazing to talk to and we all kind of fell in love with their beauty. It's such a great cause they are walking for and I wish them the best of luck in the rest of their long journey.

For this week...I just started sprouting some barley to try a pizza crust recipe listed in the same Yoga Journal magazine. I'm pretty excited about that one. It will likely show up in a post sometime soon.