Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Almond Butter

Did you know that one of the health benefits of almonds is to lower bad cholesterol?

I was just reading an article about it a couple days ago. I was excited to find that out because lately I have been experimenting with nut butters of all kinds; cashews, pecans, almonds...

Nut butters have changed my cooking style for the better, I would say, to a higher level of health. You see, I try to stay away from dairy products (and I'll tell you why in a minute) and nut butters are a fantastic substitute. They almost taste like butter or cheese, they have a similar creamy, rich, full body kind of texture.

One of the reasons I choose to limit my dairy intake is the antibiotics and pesticides you find in all of the animal products these days. Another reason is that dairy has been linked to many different ailments like: acne, asthma, eczema, gastrointestinal disturbance, high blood pressure and many many more...So, I just prefer to stay away from it.....whenever possible anyways.

Don't worry about the calcium, there is plenty of other places you can get it from. Think about all the leafy greens, many nuts and seeds, sea vegetables, sprouts, many grains etc.

Almonds are also a leading source of vitamin E and magnesium and offers protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. Also, almonds (and other nuts) contain phytochemicals, which are plant chemicals that may provide powerful protection against heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.

I don't really have a particular recipe. I just soak the almonds overnight. The next day I put them in my foods processor until pureed (add a bit of olive oil - careful with the olive oil, you don't want the strong olive flavor to take over- and water if too thick). I then season the almond butter with what ever I have on hand. You can use; shallots, garlic, sea salt, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs....anything really.

What I really love about nut butters is their versatility. Use them as a spread on crackers or in your sandwiches instead of cheese. Include them in your salad dressings. I love to use them for sauces, they are a wonderful thickening agent and add a wonderful flavor to your sauces. Your guests will think you used some heavy cream.

Try it and leave me a comment to let me know how you liked it!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sunflower and Flax Seed Bread

I have a new best friend, yes I do!!

It's name is Excalibur. It's a dehydrator and I am sooo totally in love with the thing! I am incredibly lucky that a charming nice lady (Hi Kathie :0)) thought it would be a good idea to give it to me since she had no use for it. Well, I think it was a fabulous idea!!

I have used it already a whole bunch. Actually, it's constantly running. Right now, I am dehydrating some bananas, pears, mangoes and a mango roll. Yesterday, I did this fabulous bread that you see in the picture (above) as well as a pie crust with dates and coconut flakes. Before that, I did some beautiful crackers with almond flour and I also made some beef jerky for James. What I love about the dehydrator is that you can make bread, pizza dough, pie crust, tortillas, crackers etc. with veggies, nuts and grains and because it dehydrates at very low temperature all the nutrients and vitamins remain intact.
It just makes me feel so good to know that when I eat a piece of bread, no only it's delicious but it fills my blood stream with all sorts of antioxidants and vitamins that will boost my immune system and take me to a maximum level of health. Yeah baby!! ;0)

The recipe for this bread comes from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. She says in her book that if you don't have a dehydrator, as a last resort, (and if you really, really want to try this recipe), you could use your oven. Turn it on to the lowest setting, and let it begin to get warm. The bread should dehydrate at no more than 105 degrees, which is just warm to the touch. Once warm, turn it off. Place your bread in the oven until the oven cools off. Keep turning the heat back on and off when it gets warm. Keep repeating until food is dry.

I realize that it might not be a practical recipe for most of you but my goal is to introduce you to different methods of preparing super healthy foods.

You can only lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink ;)
1 cup of ground flax seeds
1/3 cup whole flax seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp of fresh rosemary (my addition), chopped
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup black sesame seeds

Mix ground and whole flax seeds, salt, garlic, onion, and water. Add sunflower and sesame seeds and mix well. Use the back of a spoon to spread batter evenly on one dehydrator tray (or baking sheet if using the oven). Dry at 104 degree F for 4 hours. Flip and score bread into nine slices to make it easy to break in straight lines. Dehydrate another hour before serving.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seared Tofu with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Spinach

This a recipe I just created on the go...I was starving to death and didn't want to spend a long time in the kitchen. I grabbed a few ingredients from my fridge and that's what came out of it! It was very good. Well, I thought so anyways.....I you try it let me know how you liked it. It's o.k. to play with the recipe too. Change the ingredients around; add some, increase/decrease quantities, add some fresh herbs, change the nut, add some lemon zest...get in the zone and do what ever pleases your little heart.
My resolution for 2010 is to eat very little meat. Maybe once a week, on Sundays ;)...The challenge is: My sweet Hubie. So far, I didn't hear him complain, he....wait a minute... I did hear him on the phone the other day saying to one of his buddy something like: She's getting all vegetarian on me....It made me laugh!!
Serves 2 or one "starving to death" lady
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 package of firm/semi-firm tofu (about 2 cups), cut into 1" cubes
2 tsp of cumin powder
2 tsp of smoked paprika
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup of baby Bella mushrooms, chopped roughly
2-3 hand full of baby spinach
3 small whole San Marzano tomatoes, (they are the best can tomatoes you can buy)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup of toasted walnuts
Celtic salt and freshly grounded black pepper
Flax oil, just to sprinkle over, to get some omegas into your diet
Heat up your coconut oil, in a medium size skillet, on medium heat. When the oil is hot (don't let it burn) add your tofu as well as the cumin and the smoke paprika. Season with a bit of Celtic salt. Sear for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer tofu to plate and set aside. In the same skillet (don't wash it), add the onions and baby Bellas. Saute until onions are transparent and mushrooms are nice and brown, approximately 5 minutes. Return tofu to skillet with onions and mushrooms. Add spinach, cook just until wilted (30 seconds). Crush tomatoes with your hands into the skillet. Add Parmesan, toasted walnut, salt and pepper and sprinkle with a bit of flax oil. That's it your done!!
It would be delicious served on a bed of millet, brown rice or quinoa.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Heidi Espresso Banana Muffins

My friend Maria offered me Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Super Naural Cooking, for Christmas. I was so excited because I absolutely love her, she is one of my favorite chef. Like me, she uses whole and natural, minimally processed ingredients.
Today, I tried her Espresso Banana Muffins. They are absolutely delicious and I thought I would share the recipe with you. For extra extravaganza mix some cream cheese with maple syrup and eat it with the muffins. Beware though, it's so good you might want to eat more than one!
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
1 1/4 cups chopped toasted walnuts
1 tbsp fine espresso powder (if you don't have espresso coffee - place 1 tbsp of coffee in your grinder or food processor until very fine)
6 tbsp of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)
Heat oven to 375, position the racks low in the oven, and line 12 muffin cups with paper liner.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of the walnuts, and the espresso powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.
In a separate large bowl or a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and mashed bananas, then briefly and gently mix in the dry ingredients: overmixing will result in tough muffins.
Spoon into the prepared muffin tin (an ice-cream scoop works well), top with the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, and bake until golden, about 25-30 minutes. Fill the cups two-thirds full for regular muffins or to the brim for a big-topped version. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool immediately. Makes 12 muffins.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Creamy Raw Sweet Potato Slaw

Happy New Year everyone!

I wish all of you a year full of happiness and health. What else can anyone wish for really? If you're happy and healthy you are the richest person in the whole wide world.

Try this sweet potato slaw. It's surprisingly good and done in no time. Yes, you can eat sweet potato raw and they are delicious. That's what I had for lunch today. Nothing else, and it was more than enough. I gave James a bowl and he thought it was some cheesy noodles. I tricked him (not on purpose though) but he loved it. The avocado dressing does give it a cheesy texture. That's what I love about it. This might become one of my favorite raw/fast recipe.

Makes 2 main meals or 4 side dishes

2 medium sweet potatoes, grated
1 branch of celery, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 queen green olives, chopped (optional)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl. I used my food processor for all the chopping and the grading. It's sooo much faster. I love my food processor. It's such a time saver. I chopped the jalapeno, onion, olives and parsley together.

1 avocado, smashed with a fork
1-1/2 tbsp of red wine vinegar (or lime/lemon juice - I didn't have any on hand)
1 tsp of cumin powder (or to taste)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp of Nama Shoyu or soy sauce
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and combine to salad.