Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Muhammara (Say WHAAT?!)

Repeat after me... Moo-Ha-Mar-A!

What might you ask is this? It is basically a red pepper dip from Aleppo, Syria. My first encounter with muhammara was when I was working in the test kitchen at Saveur Magazine, and I got to lo and behold first test a recipe for this concoction I knew nothing about -- nor what it tasted like.

Holy taste bud delight!

Think bright roasted red peppers with syrupy pomegranate sweetness, add the smoothness of walnuts and breadcrumbs blitzed with olive oil... and a good dose of cumin for depth? Yeah - basically that is what this is. Hungry yet?

I forgot about muhammara until I was shopping the Whole Foods Market in Salt Lake City, desperately looking for anything that would excite my baby food/soft mush diet (the joys of a broken jaw). In the hummus aisle (who says you can't eat hummus with a spoon?!), I found a little slice of heaven in a container. Needless to say, I devoured a half pint solo in four days.

Back East, I knew I couldn't find the same product. So I decided to whip out the old Saveur recipe and tweak it for my ease and what was available. The end result that night was delicious. A day or two later? Still amazing, even though the subtle heat from the red pepper flakes has deepened and become a bit smokier. Given it is 20 degrees colder where I am in VT than home in UT or RI, I gladly welcome some heat in my life!!! Should you not share my penchance for heat, by all means reduce/eliminate the red pepper flakes all together!

Muhammara

13 ounces roasted red peppers, drained
2/3 cup pistachio crumbs (this is basically 50/50 breadcrumbs and ground pistachios - sub in all breadcrumbs if you like, just be sure to taste the dip so it's to your liking)
1 cup shelled walnuts
5 cloves garlic, peeled
6 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup olive oil

Combine peppers through cumin in a blender or Cusinart and puree. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and half of the oil. Blend well. Add the remaining oil as desired, tasting for seasoning, heat, and sweetness.

Serve with pita points -- or for those with a broken jaw, a spoon!

Makes... a LOT!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Banana-Peanut Butter-Almond-Coconut Smoothie

This should be a crime. It's relatively healthy, but so calorie packed with substance (rather than those sugar- and dairy-filled milkshakes you might get at your local fast food joint). And SO good.

I've recently been restricted to a liquid diet. Not all as fun as you might think. No booze, and I've recently resumed coffee to get me through finals. It's not running through my system all too well.

After 36 hours no food, I could hardly walk by myself without lunging for something (or opting for the wheelchair). I'm usually a stair-taker -- I couldn't even do that (albeit two flights at 8,500 feet isn't a piece of pie). Some may stay in the hospital in that condition, thinking they were too weak to go home. I've been through surgery before -- you only heal as fast as the quality sleep and rest you get, the remedies your mom gives you (OK, for me...), and the quality, nutrient-packed foods that I only seem to get at home. So, what did I make as soon as I got home Sunday night, still groggy from anesthesia? A calorie-packed smoothie full of good fats that would quell my hunger, soothe my throat, go down smoothly, and enable me to sleep through the night.

I hit the nail on the head.

**I use this as a post-op, low volume, calorie-dense treat. It would also be good for those in a refeeding stage eager to minimize simple sugars.

Banana-Peanut Butter-Almond-Coconut Smoothie

1 banana, frozen
1/4 cup smooth, organic peanut butter
Liquid probiotics, if desired
Cinnamon, if desired
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 cup Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island frozen dessert
1/2 cup, plus more if desired, sweetened almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix and puree on high until smooth and velvety. Enjoy in a mug or with a spoon.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

It's been one of those weekends where Friday couldn't come soon enough, and you wish Friday (with it's 18" of snow) was just a darn SNOW day so you could frolic in the field and enjoy it all.

Ha. 

While the car and stairs are dug out, I've decided to spend my evening inside cooking up a storm - namely this dish below, inspired by this recipe from Food & Wine magazine.

Some notes. I can't tolerate lentils, and I was craving something more simple and tasty... So I used the spice blend in the F&W recipe, and then roasted my little chunks of cauliflower, and added a slew of kale. SCORE! 

This is SO good. Enjoy it alone, with some marcona almonds for a light lunch, or toss with some kale ribbons, rice pasta, and a bit more olive oil or butter and you've got a delicious and nutritious dinner!

Roast Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized chunks
Olive oil, to coat
Salt, as desired
1 shallot, thinly sliced
10 dates, chopped
1-2 tablespoons honey
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 small Lacinato kale leaves, finely chiffonaded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and a bit of salt. Place in oven and roast until deeply colored, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, shallot, dates, honey, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Add kale. Set aside.

Once the cauliflower is done, immediately toss hot cauliflower with the spice mixture, toss well, and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir well again, taste for salt, then serve.

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gluten Free Waffles

I. LOVE. WAFFLES!

Last year, banana-nut almond flour pancakes were my go-to. This year? I actually haven't made pancakes, french toast, or waffles since... this summer? The morning I went mountain biking and did THIS to my legs?
(Yeah, I was complimented on my war wounds shopping in one of the SLC Whole Foods. I kind of liked it).

This summer, there were a few occasions when I slept in, made a big lazy breakfast, and sat out on the sunny deck. It currently looks like this:

French toast (with Udi's GF bread) was my first go-to. Then I realized I had the little waffles makers. Personally, I prefer Belgian-style (the thick kind) waffles, but these were oh so tasty. Topped with salted nuts, sliced bananas, coconut flakes, cinnamon, and LOTS of hot maple syrup from VT...? AMAZING!

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Waffles

1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add egg yolks in a well in the middle. Whisk together. Add oil and vanilla and combine well. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks, and add to batter gently, folding in until just mixed.

Pour into a heated, lightly greased waffle iron. Cook according to the timer on the waffle maker. Top with your choice of toppings, perhaps blueberries and maple syrup, peanuts and fruity syrup, or my favorite, bananas, salted nuts, and LOTS of maple syrup!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Almond Flour Blueberry Muffins

These have been a go-to of mine over the past year. Filled with blood sugar-stabilizing almond flour and antioxidant-rich blueberries, I like to think these are a virtuous breakfast treat. The reality is, they're amazing because they never fail in keeping me full and satiated until lunch... a good thing when you're always on the move.

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Blueberry Muffins

Loosely adapted from Elana's Pantry

4 ounces almond meal or flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
2 large eggs, beaten well
1 ounce honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups frozen blueberries (you can also choose another fruit in a similar chunk size)
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in blueberries. Pour into prepared muffin tins, about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely. Serve within 24 hours or freeze to enjoy at a later date.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Banana-Nut Vanilla Chia Breakfast Pudding

As a child, I LOVED 'fish eyes and glue' - tapioca pudding for the rest of you...

Fast forward 28 years, and I'm dairy-free (for the most part). So tapioca pudding and I haven't partied together in quite a while. Luckily, I discovered chia seeds.

I've been looking for raw chia seeds for a while - ended up finding a package at my local TJ Maxx (along with the best Marmot furry vest EVER, score!) this past fall. I'm hooked!



Chia pudding is the perfect healthy breakfast for me. Easy to make, healthy, filling, readily packable in a Mason jar. And topped with bananas, salted macadamia nuts (or these crazy ones), and some candied nuts, like you see below, it'll keep me going all morning!

Here's my recipe for a basic breakfast pudding that you can dress up with your choice of toppings. What is your favorite way to dress up your chia pudding?

Basic Vanilla Chia Pudding

1/2 cup chia seeds
2 cups vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp maple syrup (brown rice syrup also works well)

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients well. Let sit, refridgerated, overnight. Scoop into mason jars and top with your favorite toppings! I like chopped bananas, nuts, and cinnamon.

Banana Ice Cream

What to you do when you have six over-ripened bananas?

Make banana bread you say? Well yes, if you do gluten...

But if not? Why not make "healthy" banana ice cream?

I'd seen this recipe many times prior, but never got my act around to execute it. One hot day this summer, nothing sufficed for breakfast before a mellow hike. I was hot. Thirsty. This was the perfect breakfast. Nutritious, yet could be dressed up with power foods like macadamias, coconut, and dried cranberries for added oomph to power me up hill.

How do you like to dress up your banana "ice cream?"

Banana "Ice Cream"

6 bananas, diced, and frozen

In a Cuisinart, blend frozen bananas until creamy. Serve immediately.