December 30, 2012

Soothing Rice Dishes

During the holiday season, our systems can become over-loaded with rich, heavy foods. To soothe and gently cleanse the intestines this new year, try adding brown rice to a meal. 

Based on inspiration from a Turkish cookbook, I share these soothing rice recipes with you.

Mediterranean Cabbage with Olives and Rice
¼ cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon each: coriander and paprika
salt and pepper to taste
½ medium head of green or red cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
1/2 cup brown rice
¾ cup water or vegetable stock
¾ cup black olives, pitted
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper.
Lower the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic, coriander and paprika and cook, for 2-3 more minutes.
Add the cabbage and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the broth/water, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Add the rice and ½ teaspoon salt, stir to incorporate, adjust the heat to very low, cover the pan, and simmer (without stirring or lifting the cover) for 25 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the olives, stir the mixture once or twice, replace the cover, and set aside off the heat for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and parsley and stir to mix. Taste for salt and serve hot with white bean velouté if you like.


Rice Pilaf with Carrots and Leeks
¼ cup olive oil
4 carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon nutmeg
4 large leeks, halved length-wise, rinsed and chopped into crescents
1 splash white wine (if desired)
¾ cup water or vegetable stock
¼ cup brown rice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, minced

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and cook, for 5 minutes.
Add the leeks, nutmeg, salt, pepper and wine (if desired). Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the broth/water and bring to a simmer. Add the rice stir to incorporate, adjust the heat to very low, cover the pan, and simmer (without stirring or lifting the cover) for 25 minutes.

Remove the cover, stir the mixture once or twice, replace the cover, and add the lemon juice and dill. Stir to mix. Taste for salt and serve hot with sautéed chicken or tempeh if you like.

December 23, 2012

Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte is an almond cranberry tart that's the oldest recorded recipe in Austrian history.

The invention of the Linzer Torte is subject of numerous legends, reporting on a Viennese confectioner named Linzer or the baker Johann Vogel, who about 1823 at Linz started the mass production of the cake that made it famous around the world.

This simple recipe is as delightful for dessert as it is for breakfast with a warm beverage.

Linzer Torte

Take 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries and, in a stock pot, heat gently with:
1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom, cloves, ginger
pinch salt
Let this mixture cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until cranberries have popped open.
Once cooked, add 2 Tablespoons raw honey and take off the heat.
If you do not have fresh cranberries, use a 4 oz. jar of fruit-juice sweetened jam. Choose raspberry if possible.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 cups spelt OR rice flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt

Stir to incorporate.

Add 11 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces. You can substitute 9 tablespoons coconut oil for a vegan version.

Stir to coat the butter pieces with flour.

Make a well in the center and, in that well, add: 
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon

Whisk these together until they are well-mixed.  
Slowly mix everything together. Make sure the butter does not melt too much.
Place in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a pie plate (8 or 9 inch diameter) with butter or coconut oil. 

Remove dough from fridge and roll out between two pieces of waxed paper. You can use an empty wine bottle or a rolling pin.

Place this dough in the pie plate and press in gently. 
Fill with the cranberry mixture.

Roll out the second piece of dough in the same way.
Using a sharp knife, cut it into diagonal strips and place them over the cranberry mixture in two opposing layers. You will create a criss-cross pattern like a tic-tac-toe board.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg. With a pastry brush, paint egg over the crust like a glaze.

Bake for 40 minutes and let cool 1 hour before slicing.

December 17, 2012

Peanut Soup

Winter Solstice is this Friday, December 21st. Celebrate the shortest day of the year with some warming, slightly spicy soup.

Thai-Style Peanut Soup

You will need:
Sesame or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

1 teaspoon each: salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon each: fenugreek seeds (or powdered fenugreek) and cinnamon
pinch cayenne if desired

1/4 cup peanut butter (you can substitute almond or cashew butter if you like)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups stewed tomatoes

1 cup tofu or chicken, sautéed in:
2 Tablespoons sesame or olive oil
1 teaspoon Tamari (i.e. wheat-free soy sauce)

chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Sauté onion on low heat for 10 minutes, until browned. Add carrots, garlic and ginger. Add spices and sauté on low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add nut butter and stir to dissolve.
Add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to summer and cook about 30 minutes on medium-low heat.

Prepare chicken or tofu.
Add to soup pot.
Mince cilantro and mix into soup. Serve hot with rice and lime wedges.

December 13, 2012

Reduce Sugar Cravings

When we reach for a treat or crave a certain food, what do we really need? 

Try to stop, take a breath, and ask yourself this question before you eat. Sometimes, we might need water, exercise, fresh air, a hug, a conversation with a friend, or the fragrance of a flower.

Food cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When we are tired or sad, we have low blood sugar and/or low serotonin, and the body signals the brain that it needs energy. This signal causes a sugar craving or carbohydrate craving.

Low-fat diets unintentionally exacerbate this craving by developing insulin resistance in the body. Insulin is responsible for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It tells the body’s cells when to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. When the body stops responding to insulin, it stores calories as fat, which means that food is no longer available to fuel us throughout the day.

When our cells cannot absorb the glucose they need because they lack the insulin trigger, they signal the brain to eat more carbohydrates or sugars. This mixed signal results in food cravings. The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us. 

The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat occasionally, but when we over-consume. This is easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, yogurt, juices, and sauces. Americans average about 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day, according to the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting added sugars to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.

Ways to reduce sugar cravings and better meet the body’s needs:
Drink water.  
Reach for fruit.
Move your body.
Eat regularly.
Eat a bit of what you’re craving.  
Combine sweets with protein.
Please email me for more information and support with these ideas.  

The history of baked goods is entangled with that of sugar. For details, read Sidney Mintz's book, Sweetness and Power. To make baked goods with alternative sweetners, use this substitution guide.

BROWN RICE SYRUP: this gluten-free sweetener is nutty, earthy and delicate; can be hard to handle because of its sticky-ness; 1 cup equals 1 1/4 cups white sugar; great for cakes with nuts or nut flours as well as pie fillings.

COCONUT SUGAR: refined from the whole coconut, this fiber-rich sweetener releases slowly in the bloodstream and has a subtle, flowery flavor; 1 cup equals 1 cup white sugar; I like it with cookies, scones, and baked goods that have a slightly crunchy, crumbly texture.
FRUIT: remember that fruit has inherent sweetness! Soak and puree 1/2 cup raisins to equal 1 cup white sugar; bake 4 apples to equal 1/2 cup sugar; use 1/2 cup applesauce for 1 cup sugar.
HONEY: Refined by bees, honey is 20–60% sweeter than white sugar; darker honey has more minerals; select raw honey for its antimicrobial and immune-enhancing properties; 1/2 cup equals 1 cup white sugar; put it on top of unsweetened treats to lend a sweet glaze or substitute for pectin and sugar in sauce and jam recipes.

MAPLE SYRUP: Concentrated from maple sap and high in minerals; rich flavor; high in simple sugar sucrose, so it gets absorbed into the bloodstream quickly; great for all kinds of baking.

MOLASSES: Highly processed simple sugar (bi-product of beet sugar refining); (35% sucrose; high in minerals; 1⁄2 cup equals 1/4 cup white sugar; use in gingerbread, cookies, and dark rye bread.
SORGHUM: Concentrated juice of the millet plant; 1⁄2 cup equals 1 cup white sugar; use in quick breads.

STEVIA EXTRACT: Non-caloric herbal sweetener from the stevia leaf; because it doesn’t affect blood glucose levels, research indicates that stevia may be used by both diabetics and hypoglycemics; slight molasses and licorice flavors; tends to have a bitter aftertaste; 1/2 teaspoon equals 1 cup white sugar.

Thanks to the Sacramento Food Coop for your help in compiling this information.

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