Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fruity Quinoa Beet Salad (Gluten-Free | Vegan)

THE BEETS! When I was just about the age of 7, my favorite musical artists went in order of something like this: Ace of Base, Donna Lewis, and ... The Beets. It was awesome. I actually got excited when the underlying theme of one of Doug's episodes was about them.

What's even more funny is I didn't get what beets or tofu were until many, many years later. My 7-year-old self would have been shocked to see the me today eating them on the regular. They're actual foods? Like, people put them in their mouths and digest those things as a way to get nutrients? FLOORED, I would have been.

I'm trying to think here, and I'm about 99% positive that I never had beets growing up. Which is totally fine, since my mom made sure to have at least 3 other vegetables on the table every dinner. I actually remember her telling me a little while ago that she  doesn't like to make them because my dad overdosed on them growing up with my grandma.

(My grandma is a fantastic, Norwegian-gone-Minnesota woman who also used to eat milk bread, which is exactly what it sounds like. Simple, cheap and healthy, according to the standards back then. What else do you want?)

Anyway, this salad was the direct result of me cooking beets for the first time, and you had better believe it's happening again. They're so easy! And nutritious! And radically pink! I think they also will go with a lot of other ingredients to make dinnertime that much more quick and healthy. And did I mention they're pink, which makes your kitchen feel all rosy?

My plan of attack is to buy more than just 4 beets next time and cook them all together in a giant pot on the weekend, and then dive into them throughout the week. These suckers are tasty cold, too.

 That dressing up there is pretty fantastic as well, which could be paired with so many other dishes. I'm thinking a goat cheese-based salad, or a marinade for tofu. So many options!

Fruity Quinoa Beet Salad
Salad and dressing adapted from Oh She Glows

4 fresh beets, with greens still on
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 orange, peeled
1 apple (I used Granny Smith)
1 pear
2 T coconut oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 T diced garlic
the beet greens that came with your beets, washed and torn into small pieces
4 leeks, sliced
2 T sunflower seeds

1. Wash and cut the ends off the beets; place into a large pot and fill with water. Cover and bring to a boil until they're tender. It should take around 30 minutes, depending on the size. After 30, I started pricking mine with a fork every 5 minutes to see when they were tender enough to chop.

2. Rinse the quinoa and pour into a pot with 2 cups cold water. Cover, bring to a boil, and then turn down to a nice simmer until all the water is absorbed. When this is finished, place to the side and let cool.

3.Dice the orange, apple and pear into bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl.

4. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium-low heat for a couple minutes. Add in the diced onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minutes. Add in the beet greens and saute until wilted. Set aside to cool until the beets are finished cooking.

5. Once the beets are finished, carefully drain and set them aside for a couple minutes until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins (they should just fall right off) and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add the beets, beet greens, quinoa, sunflower seeds and sliced leeks to the fruit bowl and mix all together. Pour the dressing on (recipe below) and thoroughly combine.

**I also think a soft, tangy cheese, like gorgonzola, would go fantastic in here. That will be happening next time.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

5 T apple cider vinegar
3 T melted coconut oil
12 fresh raspberries
dash of salt
1 T maple syrup

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil. Add in the raspberries and mash until they're incorporated with the oil. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix together!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Almond Flour Coconut Pancakes (Gluten-free | Vegan)

Well heeey! Today's been a pretty rad day. And not just because I've had two whole days off in a row (I realize that's called a weekend, but still - exciting). It all started this morning, when I made these. Yes, those little breakfast treaties called pancakes, which have gotten to be quite the rarity around here due to my gluten-intolerant husband.

Please, never mind the nutrition label on the spice jar. It has zero to do with breakfast.

 These beauties are 100% gluten-free (and vegan, if you're into that sorta thing), and taste better than any other pancakes I've had since I can remember. The almond flour gives it nice texture and flavor, while the coconut shines through from the oil. If you don't like the coconut flavor, it's cool! Use olive oil, or vegetable oil. These are rich with protein and keep you full until lunch.

Break out the big guns - syrup and nutella? It must be the weekend. Or a holiday. Father's day! Totally a holiday...even if your guy isn't yet a father. It's really the thought that counts. Everyone deserves pancakes.

I like these hotcakes (um, I just turned 85) because they're sturdy enough to stand up to syrup, but are in no way rubbery (as pancakes sometimes are) and give in delicately to a fork. Plus, they're just plain good, especially when you have a hungry man patiently awaiting some gosh darn food since you just made him run 4 miles with you.

Almond Flour Coconut Pancakes
Adapted from The Daily Dietribe

1 1/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/2 cup water

1. Whisk your dry ingredients thoroughly.

2. Whisk your wet ingredients together in a separate, medium-sized bowl.  

3. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and whisk to combine. 

4. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over low-medium heat. Pour some patter on after the skillet has been heated for about 3 minutes, and you're all set!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hummus (GF) (Vegan)

I'm not joking in a serious manner when I say that the WinCo bulk food department has changed my kitchen. Since it arrived into my life a couple months ago, I've been able to make more apricot snack bars, almond meal, and all sorts of other treats that used to be daunting to make because of availability or cost. It's no lie that WinCo has some fantastic deals, but when you buy the majority of your food in bulk (which is typically cheaper anywhere you shop) then it's an extraordinary deal.

Take tahini for example. I am now certain it's the second most important ingredient in hummus and yet for years I haven't bought it because it costs $7 for a jar at the grocery store. Despite l-o-v-ing hummus, I convinced myself it was an optional, if not irrelevant, ingredient and omitted it form my hummus-making until today.

When I saw tahini in bulk at WinCo. Bet you didn't see that coming, did you?

Before, my hummus' (hummi?) always turned out chunky and tasted, well, like mashed up chickpeas. Today? My hummus tastes like HUMMUS. Who knew the tricks that ground sesame seeds could pull?

I followed this recipe to a tee, and as you can tell it turned out fantastic. I'm excited to test this out with different add-ins, like pesto and some Mexican flavors.

In the meantime, I'm going to ingest copious amounts of beans and tahini.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lemon Berry Granola (Gluten-free)

Granola is one of those recipes that I used to make all the time. It called for its own canister and was used by both he and she on a regular basis.

And then it fell of the map. I got really bad about eating a well-rounded breakfast and then I started leaning more towards making muffins and such for the boy to eat in the morning.

It took a couple months, but I realized how much I needed homemade granola back into my life. It's a cinch to make, it keeps well and you can tailor it exactly to your liking.

I've made plenty of different flavors, including those with peanut butter, apple butter (or whatever butter Trader Joe's has at the time), mixed seeds and nuts, various fruits and miscellaneous oils. It's nice to have a quick and easy recipe that you can easily adapt to accommodate whatever is about to rot in your kitchen. (Mmmm, I bet a mashed banana would go great in this. With peanut butter!)

Berry Lemon Granola
Makes about 3 cups

3 cups gluten-free oats (I get mine at TJ's)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons berry jam
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil.

2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

3. In a saucepan, heat the oil, berry jam, lemon juice and vanilla over medium-low heat until all warm and mixed together. Pour over the dry ingredients and add the lemon zest.

4.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet and pop in the oven for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as this stuff burns easily. Once 10 minutes have passed, shake it up and pop back in for another 5 or so minutes. Cool completely before storing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to make almond flour

I have experimented with a lot of gluten-free flours, and almond is my absolute favorite. It's pretty amazing what some crushed up nuts can turn into. At times, almond flour works great as a direct substitute for all-purpose flour, such as in muffin and quick bread recipes. It's high in protein, which makes it a super healthy option for vegetarian.

I first got inspired by using almond flour after discovering Elana Amsterdam's blog, Elana's Pantry. She has tons of recipes which call for only almond flour, and made me want to try them all! However, I soon discovered that could be an expensive hobby. Almond flour is some pricey business, that is no joke.

I did some research and realized how incredibly easy it is to make almond flour. Buy in bulk and blend those puppies up!

First, I want to clear up the almond flour and almond meal differentiation. Almond meal includes the brown skin from raw almonds, while almond flour is made out of blanched almonds and contain only the inside whites of the almond. I've read that almond flour is finer and generally more "flour-esque" than almond meal, but I really can't tell a difference in either the texture of the final product or the taste.Since it's more engrained in me to call almond meal, almond flour, I just roll with "flour."

I highly recommend going to your closest bulk foods department and load up on almonds to blend into a fine meal. It's cheap and easy!

So, onward:

Step 1: Introduce your almonds and your blender.

Step 2: Add one cup of whole almonds at a time to blend. If you add any more, you'll get almond butter! Which is delightful, but not our goal.

Step 3: Pulse the almonds a couple times to get them in the blade, and then switch to blend for about 15 seconds.  I shake the blender the entire time to make sure all the almonds get to the bottom to get sliced up.

Step 4: The transformation.

Step 5: Baggie it up and enjoy!