A couple of weeks ago Fran Costigan, author of Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, made a book promotion appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, which I luckily attended—luckily because I was able to sample some of her chocolate treats.
You might think, “Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t this blog about eating healthy?” Well, yes it is; but, occasionally I want to make a special treat and this book is an excellent resource for dairy free sweets made with organic ingredients. There are several aspects I particularly like about the vegan book: the recipes, the photos, the cooking and baking tips, the ingredients section, and the resource and bibliography sections.
There are some great “basic” recipes in this book, too. I was very happy to see the recipe for Basic Thick Cashew Cream which is like a thick pastry cream made with cashews instead of milk and eggs; another, White Chocolate Cream Filling is made with tofu as a base ingredient, which sounds delicious and healthier than any filling recipe I’ve ever seen. The truffles section is also great, because Fran uses different types of fats in her truffles. You can try these delicious creamy bites made with coconut oil, olive oil, nut milk, or her basic thick cashew cream. The following are the names of a few of them: Spicy Ginger Truffles, Chai-Spiced Truffles, Bittersweet Cashew Cream Truffles and Aztec Truffles—oh yeah!
The book’s layout called my attention because it has lots of little boxes with tips on trouble shooting, how to use certain ingredients, or simply a note about why a certain ingredient is used. In addition, the recipe amounts are listed in American standard measurements (cups, tablespoons, etc.) and in the metric system by weight.
Fran has a number of recipes for frozen desserts that will leave you drooling, but her real talent is for “showstopper” or special occasion desserts like: Chocolate Cherry Miroir cake, Sachertorte, and Opera Cake to name a few. They are not difficult to make. Fran recommends making the basics one day and then assembling them on they day they are to be eaten.
I’ve carefully studied Fran’s book from cover to cover ogling over the gorgeous food porn photos and I have to say that I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t win a James Beard Cookbook Award. The following recipes: Chocolate Cake to Live For and Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache are from her book and are used in her cake Bittersweet Ganache – Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For. I made it last weekend and we all loved it! Try the recipes below for yourself and see what you think.
(The cake recipe below is from page 68-69 of the book; the bittersweet ganache recipe that follows the cake recipe is from page 264.)
Bittersweet Ganache – Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For
The name for this cake dates back over twenty years to the day I was sure I had cracked the code for the perfect chocolate cake that was also vegan. I invited three friends over (non-vegan, as it happened) to taste the cake with me. After a big forkful each, we stopped, looked at each other, and said almost in unison, “Now this is a cake worth living for!” At least that is how I remember it. Since then, this has become my signature cake and remains the one most discussed, requested, Google-searched, praised, and served of all my cakes. Versions of what my assistants, interns, catering clients, friends, family, and I refer to as “TCC2L4” have appeared in both of my previous books, but I couldn’t leave it out of my first all-chocolate book. This version is a single cake layer twice glazed with the glossy dark Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze. (You can of course simply double the recipe and bake a layer cake if that’s what you prefer.) A “tinkerer” by nature, I have changed little bits of the recipe over the years, using a little less nondairy milk and substituting mild extra-virgin olive oil for the organic canola oil. Note that you will have more glaze than is needed for the recipe, but you can reuse the glaze that drips onto the parchment under the icing rack. After the excess has hardened, scoop it up, spoon it into a container, and cover and refrigerate or freeze for another use.
MAKES ONE (9-INCH / 23-CM) TORTE, 8 TO 10 SERVINGS
1⁄2 cup / 70 grams organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 ⁄2 cup / 64 grams organic all-purpose flour
1 ⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 31 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 ⁄4 cup / 50 grams organic granulated sugar, finely ground in a blender
1 teaspoon / 5 grams aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon / 5 grams baking soda
1 ⁄2 teaspoon / 2.5 grams fine sea salt
1 ⁄4 cup / 60 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil or organic neutral vegetable oil
1 ⁄2 cup / 120 ml pure maple syrup, Grade B or dark amber
3 ⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 210 ml any nondairy milk
1 1⁄2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml pure vanilla extract
1 ⁄2 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
1 teaspoon / 5 ml apple cider vinegar
1 recipe Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze (follows after instructions for cake)
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 ̊F / 180 ̊C. Oil the sides and bottom of the cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment circle or paper cut to fit. Do not oil the paper.
2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the strainer and stir with a whisk to sift the ingredients into the bowl. (If any small bits remain in the strainer, add them to the mixture in the bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture.
3. Whisk the oil, maple syrup, nondairy milk, vanilla, chocolate extract (if using), and vinegar in a separate medium bowl until completely combined. Immediately pour into the dry mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into pan. Rotate the pan to level the batter and tap it lightly on the counter to get rid of some of the air bubbles
4. Bake the cake on the center rack for 28 to 32 minutes, or until the top of the cake is set, the sides have started to pull away from the pan, and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
5. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Run a thin spatula around the sides of the cake to release the sides of the cake from the pan. Invert the layer onto the rack, remove the pan, and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Invert again, top side up on the rack, to cool completely. When the cake is completely cool, slide a cardboard circle or a flat plate underneath. Cover the cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold before glazing.
GLAZE THE CAKE
1. Place the cake on an icing rack set over a parchment-lined baking pan.
2. Pour slightly less than 1 cup / 240 ml of the Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze into a measuring cup with a spout. Center the cup over the cake and pour the glaze onto center of the cake. Coax the glaze to the edges and down the sides by tilting the baking sheet or using an icing spatula. Use the spatula to spread the glaze onto the sides.
3. Allow the glaze to set undisturbed for 15 minutes, then refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes.
4. Refill the measuring cup with another scant cup of the glaze, and add another coating. This time, don’t try to move the glaze around with the spatula after it has been applied. Doing so will mar the finish. But extra glaze drizzled freeform on the cake looks great and hides any problems. Refrigerate to set the glaze.
For the neatest slices, cut the cake while it is cold but serve at room temperature.
The glazed cake can be refrigerated for up to two days, unwrapped or in a cake box. (Keep the cake away from strong odors.) The cake can be frozen for up to one month: Wrap the cake tightly in a layer of plastic wrap and another layer of aluminum foil, or slip it into a zipper-lock bag and squeeze out the air.
Embellished Torte to Live For: The torte needs no fancying up—I like its elegant simplicity and often serve it without any further embellishment, other than possibly painting a line of extra glaze on each plate, off-center, and adding a pile of fresh berries or sliced fruit. But the following variations add wow: sprinkle the top of the cake with gold luster dust, add chocolate transfer sheet cut-outs (page 29), or place any of the truffles found in Chapter Two on the not-quite-set ganache.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Torte to Live For: Replace the pastry and all-purpose flours with 1 cup of all-purpose gluten-free baking mix. (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill.) If your gluten-free mix does not contain xanthan or guar gum, add 3 ⁄8 teaspoon xanthan gum to the dry ingredients. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache Glaze
It will take longer to read this recipe than to make it, but its success is all about the quality and taste of the chocolate and following the details in the recipe. As long as you stay within the percentages listed, any premium quality chocolate you enjoy eating is the one to use. The important part is to chop the chocolate very fine and to strain the hot milk. Allowing the chocolate to melt into the milk for the full 4 minutes is not optional. And stir only until the chocolate and milk are emulsified—that is, glossy and smooth. Over-mixing may turn your silken ganache gritty. If the chocolate has not completely melted after the ganache is mixed, bring the water in the saucepan on the stove to a simmer and turn off the heat. Place the bowl of ganache on the saucepan for a few minutes, then stir very gently until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.
MAKES 2 CUPS / 480 ML
8 ounces / 227 grams dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
1 1 ⁄4 cups / 300 ml organic almond milk or soymilk (more as needed to adjust consistency)
2 tablespoons / 18 grams organic granulated sugar
Pinch fine sea salt
1 1 ⁄4 teaspoons / 6.25 ml pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons / 10 ml mild tasting extra-virgin olive oil (optional but recommended for sheen)
1. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and set aside while you heat the milk.
2. Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking a few times to a low boil.
3. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate all at once. Rotate the bowl so the chocolate is completely submerged. Cover the bowl with a plate and let stand undisturbed for 4 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla and olive oil (if using) and whisk from the center out only until smooth and glossy. (If the chocolate is not completely melted, refer to the Sidebar on page 28 for instructions on using a water bath to melt the chocolate.)
5. Keep the bowl of ganache at room temperature while you test the final consistency. Dip a teaspoon into the ganache, set the coated spoon on a small plate, and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes. After chilling, the ganache on the spoon should be smooth and firm, but should still taste creamy. It is unlikely, but if the glaze is too firm, add a tablespoon of room temperature milk, and repeat the test. Add a second tablespoon if needed.
6. Pass the ganache through a strainer into a bowl. Whisking slowly will speed the process.
7. Allow the ganache to thicken at room temperature for 15 to 25 minutes, or until it will coat a spoon thickly with minimal dripping, but remain pourable. Stir a few times from the outside into the center before glazing.
The glaze can be refrigerated in a tightly closed con- tainer for up to five days and frozen for up to one month. The glaze hardens when it is cold and will need to be reheated. To reheat, spoon the glaze into a heatproof bowl that fits over a saucepan of barely simmering water. When about two-thirds of the glaze is melted, stir gently until it is smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed by stirring warm nondairy milk into the glaze a little at a time.
Absolutely cannot believe it’s almost Christmas! And 2015 is just a couple of weeks away. Where did the year go! It’s also the 21st of the month which means it’s time for another recipe for the Recipe Redux blog group. Ho ho ho, but those girls have a sense of humor. This month the challenge is to redo a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks; the recipe must be from page 42, or 142. The book of choice? Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition which is my favorite all-round cookbook for the number and variety of recipes it has. I sometimes flip through it looking for inspiration or clarification.
Clam Chowder, one of my favorite soups, is on page 142 but I’ve already got a different clam chowder recipe on my blog, so that leaves page 42,—the beverage section. The more exciting recipe on the page is cocamoka, the mixing of two of my favorite beverages: coffee and hot cocoa. I don’t know about you, but I think it the two C’s make a great combo .
To lighten up this recipe I cut out the whip cream and use almond milk instead. Almond milk has only 30 calories per cup, as compared to full fat milk which has 150 calories per cup. I am also using decaf coffee granules, so you can enjoy this drink late at night without worrying if you’ll be able to sleep. I hope you enjoy this hot cocomoka!
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon decaf coffee granules
- 3 drops almond extract
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1-1/2 tablespoons shredded chocolate
- Heat the milk , add the cocoa and bring to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the honey and almond extract.
- Strain the milk a into serving cup.
- Sprinkle the shredded chocolate over the top.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
I jumped on board to do this post when TheRecipeRedux and the people at CaliforniaRaisins.Org joined together co-sponsor a contest using California Raisins. The one clear thought in my mind was that the dish that I would create should have no added sugar. It kills me when I see recipes with California raisins as one of the principal ingredients and then they add over a cup of sugar to the recipe. Even in a recipe for cake that amount of sugar is overkill when using this delicious dried fruit.
When I was a kid my mother used to pack my lunches; usually a balogna sandwich a piece of fruit and a little box of raisins. The sandwich, as you may well imagine, made for dull and monotonous food; they piece of fruit was usually pretty good, but the California Raisins… they were my treat! Besides their succulent sweet taste, what I enjoyed about them, and still enjoy, is their plumpness and juiciness, and how they roll on my tongue.
California Raisins are not only tasty, they are a ideal food! Take look at the reasons below and you’ll see why:
- Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
- All Natural
- Dried in the Sun
- No Added Sugar
- Zero Fat
- An Economical Dried Fruit
- Cholesterol Free
- Mess Free
- 9% Daily Fiber and Potassium
- 6% Daily Iron
- Easy to Carry On-The-Go Snack
- Delicious in Sweet or Savory Dishes
My most popular post ever is my favorite no-knead whole wheat bread, and considering the contest, I thought that the only thing better than that is raisin no-knead whole wheat bread. The bread itself is surprisingly tender for one that has two-thirds parts whole wheat flour, and this bread has no added sugar! It gets the sweet flavor and moistness from the California Raisins. I’m sure that you’ll love this delicious bread. It can be served alone with coffee (Neufchatel cream cheese optional), with breakfast, or as a side dish with meals. However you choose to eat it you’ll enjoy it.
Raisin No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread
Don't let the number of hours it takes to make this bread scare you away. It takes only three minutes to prep, and another 3 minutes later on to shape the dough. The dough is left unattended the whole time. Nothing could be easier!
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour)
- 1 cup white flour
- 1-½ cups plus 2 teaspoons water (Temp. 55° to 65°; best with a liquid measuring cup)
- 1-½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ plus 1/8 teaspoon yeast
- ¾ cup California Raisins
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, *optional
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl just until they are thoroughly combined. If the dough feels dry, add a teaspoon or two of water until it feels somewhat sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic and set the bowl aside for 15 to 18 hours.
- After the fore mentioned time has passed, dust a tea towel or light cotton kitchen towel with a good coat of flour and sprinkle it with oat bran. Set this aside.
- Lightly flour the counter top and use a spatula to remove the dough from the bowl and let it drop onto to the counter top. Stretch the dough out lengthwise and fold the dough over on itself as you fold a letter. Loosely form it into a ball, place it on the towel, fold the flaps in and let it rest about 1-1/2 hours, or until it has doubled.
- After one hour place the pot in the oven with the lid on, and pre-heat the oven to 475° for 30 minutes.
- Place 2 cookie racks on the counter; one is for the lid and the other is for the pot. Take the pot out of the oven and set it on the first cookie rack, remove the lid and place it on the second cookie rack. Drop the dough from the tea towel, seam side up into the pot. Cover the pot, place it back in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
- After the 30 minutes is up, remove the lid from the pot and place it on a cookie rack to cool. Set the timer for another 12 minutes and continue to cook the bread.
- When the timer goes off, take the pot out of the oven and use a large spatula to remove the bread and place it on the cookie rack. Let it cool about 15 to 20 minutes before slicing into it. Waiting to taste it is the bread is the hardest part, but if you slice into it too early the bread will not finish cooking properly.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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Can you believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving Day. It’s my favorite holiday of the year, partly due to the fact that it’s the least commercial. We can enjoy the pleasure of being with loved ones for the of the sake of their good company, no other reason—except the good food, of course! Members of TheRecipeRedux are sharing their memories of food from past Thanksgivings. You can visit the other sites by clicking on any of the links below for more memories.
As for most Americans, being with family at this time of the year is an important part of the holiday. It’s a time to reunite and just hang together. What has changed over the years is the food, at least at my house. When I was little I didn’t like much of the traditional meal. No cranberry sauce for me—no no. And hold the stuffing, please. Sweet potatoes? Well, ok, if there are lots of marshmallows on top. Mashed potatoes and gravy, yes please, and some of that turkey, and pumpkin pie, too. Those were then, and still are favorites.
Years back my mother changed Grandma’s recipe for cranberry sauce by adding orange to it, making it less acidic and more tasty. I also like to add walnuts, chopped pears and apples for more texture. Stuffing? That hasn’t changed but my taste buds have developed since I was little. These days there isn’t any food I don’t like at the Thanksgiving spread. The one food that didn’t make the cut was the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. No one over age 12 likes those. Now we usually make sweet potato puree. But last year a friend of my mother’s gave her a recipe that appeared in the November 2008 edition of Cooking Light, which was a lightened version of someone else’s recipe. For my taste, both versions had so much sugar that I thought, “Why eat pie.You’ve already got dessert here.” The recipe I’m sharing today, sweet potato casserole lightened up, is a modification of the “lighter” version. I have omitted the eggs, reduced the sugar significantly, and have added some spices. I love the toasted pecans on top. Hope you enjoy it, too. Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up
For the Sweet Potatoes
- 2 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes ( 1/2 of them white, 1/2 orange)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/ 4 cup non-fat milk, (see notes below for dairy free option)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 teaspoon allspice
- 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (to grease the pan)
For the Topping:
- 5 tablespoons whole wheat pasty flour, (see notes below for gluten free option)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°
- Bring the potatoes to boil in lightly salted water, turn down the heat and simmer them until they are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- While they are cooking gather the ingredients to beat with them when they are ready.
- Separately, gather the ingredients for the topping, mix them together and set the mixture aside.
- When the sweet potatoes are tender, drain them and beat them with the milk, butter, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla, and then place them in a previously oiled 11x7 inch pan.
- Sprinkle the topping over the sweet potatoes and bake the casserole at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly toasted.
*Dairy Free Option - use dairy free butter, and soy milk or almond milk instead of cow's milk and butter.
*Gluten Free Option -use gluten free flour instead of pastry whole wheat flour.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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Normally, I would never have considered writing a post about floor cleaning. This is a food blog, after all. But I’m sure you know how difficult it can be to keep kitchen floors clean. There can be grease buildup, calcium stains, dirty grout, water spots, and food residue buildup. Ugh! Recently, I cleaned my floors and was shocked at how clean they got. Unfortunately, there are no before and after pictures because I wasn’t thinking of doing this as a post, but later, I decided I had to share these great tips to clean kitchen tile with you. The secret weapons? Oxiclean and a 10-inch grout brush on a pole.
A couple of years ago I burned a pot so badly that after scrubbing and scrubbing I considered throwing it away because so badly burnt. As a last resort I soaked the pot overnight with Oxiclean and water. The next morning the burned area lifted off the pot and washed out of the pan when I rinsed it with water. A miracle! So after trying regular floor cleaner with a poor outcome, I turned to the Oxiclean and got an awesome results on the tile and grout.
The 10-inch grout brush seems to be a well guarded secret because I’d never heard of, or seen one. You probably won’t see one at Lowe’s or Home Depot, either. I had to order it online. Wow, does it ever work! I learned about this brush from a tile and grout expert who came out to the house to give an estimate, that was before I decided to clean the floors myself. (There were 325 reasons I decided to do it myself —ching ching.) Back to the point, the brush is made especially for cleaning grout and it will blow you away when you see the results. Placing the brush on a long pole saves you from getting down on you knees and getting back pains and achy knees.
To clean the floor, pour the Oxiclean and water mixture onto the floor and let it sit 5 to 15 minutes before cleaning the grout lines. After five minutes have passed, brush the grout in long strokes about 4 feet in length in a series of six back and forth strokes. Follow by cleaning the floor with a scrub brush connected to a pole, and you might want to go over stubborn areas twice. After this, mop up the soapy water, discard it, and follow with a clean water mopping. (I also used a spin mop which helps to cut down the time it takes to wring the mop.)
This process is for cleaning dirty floors; it’s not for the typical daily or weekly mopping. Too bad about the pictures, but believe me. It works!
Amazon links: Oxiclean, grout brush, spin mop, scrub brush, pole.
When theRecipeRedux came up with a challenge to do something with spices, I knew it had to be something with sweet potatoes. Fall is the season when it feels right to be eating sweet potatoes. These spuds are dense in both texture and flavor which makes them especially satisfying; and topped with a winning combo of spices you just can’t go wrong. Another equally delicious dish I’ve made is Indian spiced Cauliflower. While these cooked dishes can be a little time consuming, they are definitely worth the wait—all good things are worth the wait. Aren’t they?
The fun thing about cooking is that sometimes you can sometimes discover a great combination. Today for example, I was thinking that Mexican and East Indian food fuse together well. Both of the cuisines use similar spices and flavorings like onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin, cayenne, and coriander. And while Indian food is often served with yogurt, Mexican food is often topped with sour cream, which is similar in taste and texture to yogurt minus the fat. And a type of food common to both Mexican and Indian cuisines is the flat bread; the Mexican tortilla, and the Indian chapatti.
Go ahead and make these flavorful spiced sweet potatoes, spoon the spuds up inside a tortilla or chapatti, top it with yogurt, guacamole, and cilantro leaves and enjoy. The dish is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and without the tortilla is gluten free. For added protein add some cooked beans, tofu or tempeh. It works well as a side dish, too.
Indian Flavors Spiced Sweet Potatoes
- 2 pounds red sweet potatoes,
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and minced, or 2-1/2 teaspoons dry ginger
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/3 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Cilantro leaves
- Heat the olive oil in a 8-quart stock pot and begin to sauté the onions, stirring them every couple of minutes. The idea is to caramelize them to a nice golden brown color, and this can take from forty minutes to 60 minutes.
- After the first 30 minutes, add the minced garlic and ginger (if you are using fresh ginger).
- While the onions are cooking peel and chop the sweet potatoes. The pieces should be about ¾ inch in size.
- Add the spices to the pot and stir for one minute.
- Add 2 ½ cups of water and stir, and then add the sweet potatoes to the pot and stir well so the sauce covers all the potatoes. Set the heat between medium low and medium, and cook until the sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a sharp knife, approximately 30 minutes. Add water as needed.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
Have you every noticed that there seems to be a day or a month for just about every thing? There’s Take Your Kid to Work Day, Secretary’s Day, and Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are also month long celebrations, too. October happens to be National Pasta Month, so along with the Recipe Redux I am ready to cook up some pasta.
Let’s face it, pasta has been getting a bad rap lately. With the craze of the Paleo diet that eliminates starch, the new CDC diet recommendations calling for more vegetables, and more people eating a gluten free diet, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that there is less space for carbs like pasta. Well, pasta is great! Why give up something that is so enjoyable to eat? Really. Whole grain pasta is a good source of tryptophan that helps convert to seritonin, which is key to fighting insomnia, depression, and irritability. And whole grains help a person to feel full longer.
My solution is to have the pasta and eat it too. Add some vegetables into the mix for a more balanced diet. In this way you still get the wonderful taste pasta, with all the of benefits of whole grains and vegetables.
This recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini is a quick and easy meal to make for the busy family. My favorite way to eat it is paired with a side salad, and for heartier fare it can be paired with chicken or beef for a delicious protein rich healthy meal. Omit the anchovies for the vegetarian and vegan options.
wholegrainscouncil.org – whole-grains-good-mood-food
myhealingkitchen.com – whole-grains-and-other-complex-carbs-elevate-calming-serotonin
Spaghetti Puttanesca with Matchstick Zucchini
- 10 ounces dry whole grain pasta
- 3 medium zucchini
- 1-1/2 tablespoons pitted and chopped black olives
- 1 can anchovies, about 6 filets, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cappers, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1-1/2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 cup cooked homemade tomato sauce, or your favorite brand
- ¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled
- Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends of the so they measure about 5 inches long.
- Use a mandolin, or a knife and your good judgment to eyeball where you make your cuts, and slice the zucchini to 3/8 inch thickness (a little less than ¼ inch).
- Stack up a few slices of the zucchini and slice along the length to make long matchsticks. Set the zucchini aside.
- Put on a small pot of lightly salted water to boil. (Later you will lightly boil the zucchini.)
- Cook the pasta.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, Place 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and then add the garlic, stir for 15 seconds and then add the red pepper flakes, anchovies, black olives, green onion, oregano, parsley and tomato sauce. Stir well to mix and then turn off the heat.
- Cook the zucchini in the boiling water just until tender, about 40 seconds, and then strain. Add the zucchini to the tomato mixture.
- Strain the pasta when the spaghetti is at the al dente stage, still slightly firm to the bite. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, and to it add the zucchini tomato mixture. Stir well to mix. Serve in pasta bowls and top with the crumbled feta cheese.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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This month the Recipe Redux is all about dried fruits. This is the perfect time too, because summer is coming to a close but there’s still some good fruit to be had and you can preserve it to eat later it in the year. Making oven dried fruit is easy and it’s a great way to preserve the taste of summer to eat in the off season. What can you do with dried fruit? You can do los with dried fruits; add it to your oatmeal or sprinkle it on your favorite cereal, make fruit compotes with a mixture of fresh and dried fruit, make a trail mix with dried fruit and your favorite nuts, add it to your favorite sourdough bread recipe, stir it into curries, make liqueurs, cook up a chutney, bake a fruitcake, add it to your chicken casserole, or take it on car trips as it won’t spoil and smell. Is Dried Fruit Better for You? You have to be careful when consuming dried fruit because it has higher sugar content than fresh fruit, and more calories. On the flip side, dried fruits have at least twice the amount of fiber than fresh fruit. Oven Dried or Dehydrated? When you dry fruit in a conventional oven you lose more nutrients than when you with a dehydrator, which essentially blows dry air on the fruit, and is a gentler process which results in less loss of nutrients. But, not everyone has a dehydrator or is ready to invest in one, in which case using the oven is a good way to see if you enjoy making and eating dried fruits before making the investment of a dehydrator. Check out the links below for more information: Dried Fruits, Whfoods.org Drying Fruits, NDSU
Making oven dried fruit is pretty easy. To get started all you'll need a couple of sheet pans, and silplats or parchment paper.
- 1 quart water
- 1 cup lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon citric acid
- 3-1/2 cups peeled, cored, and/or pitted fruit
- Select fully ripened, unblemished fruit.
- Peel, core, or pit the fruit as called for.
- Pour citric acid or lemon into the water, add the fruit and let it soak 10 minutes.
- Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and pat dry.
- Place the fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper a silpat.
- Oven dry at 140° for 5-6 hours. It should be leathery and pliable when done.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
Maybe you heard on the news about the big rainstorm we had in Arizona last week? Let me tell you that it was pretty wet around here. Streets were flooded and looked more like rivers than roadways, schools closed, banks closed, and flat roofs caved in under the weight of the water. We even had a little flooding in our living room. And even though the weather is still fairly warm at 92° right now, somehow our bodies are starting to go into colder weather mode. We are beginning to enjoy warm foods again like soups and stews. These cravings for warm food may be psychological due to the stormy weather conditions, but it’s great to eat soup again.
The other day, under the influence of this need for heat, I came up with a delicious soba noodle miso soup. Maybe you think miso isn’t good for a person due to it’s high sodium content, but studies show this isn’t the case. The sodium in miso doesn’t effect the body the way table salt does. A Japanese study of adults showed that diets containing miso tended to have lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
Miso is a fermented food which means it is a probiotic food with beneficial bacteria for your body. Another benefit of this paste is that the Bacillus bacteria in miso is able to make a special form of vitamin K, (menaquinone-7, or MK-7) that is good for the bones and decreases the risk of osteoporosis. It’s also rich in B-complex vitamins and various minerals. Purchase certified organic soy miso to avoid pesticides and genetically modified soybeans; WHFs recommends buying Chinese miso if you want the benefits of vitamin K, as it more likely contains the beneficial Bacillus.
Besides all the nutritional value and being gluten free, this soup tastes great! My picky 17 year-old son loved it and wanted it again soon. Hope you enjoy it, too!
- 6 ounces organic soba noodles
- 2 tablespoons miso
- 2-1/2 tablespoons Tamari
- ½ teaspoon Chinese hot oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 2-1/2 stalks green onions, shredded
- 1-1/2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick style
- 3 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 7 ounces organic tofu, cubed
- Fill a 4-quart pot with salted water and begin to heat it (for the pasta).
- Pour the Tamari, the Chinese hot oil and the sesame oil into a small bowl and set it aside.
- Gather the remaining ingredients on a cutting board. When everything is ready to geo, boil the noodles about 4 minutes, or until they are to your liking. In the meantime, start the next step.
- Fill a small pot with 3-1/2 cups water and bring it to a boil. Once it reaches a boil whisk in the miso, and then add the carrots and cook one minute. Next add the mushrooms and cook about 30 seconds, and then the flavoring liquid and stir. Finally, add the tofu and let this sit for a minute to warm the tofu.
- Strain the noodles and place them in a large serving bowl. Pour the miso mixture over the noodles and then top with the shredded green onions and chopped cilantro.
- Add extra tamari or hot pepper oil to taste.
This recipe is copyrighted by MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
Miso, World’s Healthiest Foods
Benefits of Miso, SFGate
So, I met a woman in Spain over the summer who told me she got rid of her symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis by taking magnesium supplements. She read about the benefits of magnesium in a book by a well-known Spanish chemist, Ana Maria La Justicia, who wrote a book back in the 80’s called El Milagro del Magnesio (The Miracle of Magnesium). Curiously enough, I found it on my mother-in-law’s bookshelf; (it sounds like an impossible coincidence to find the book there, but not too much, as it was very popular when it came out and someone gave it to my mother-in-law to read).
The Relaxation Mineral: Dr. Mark Hyman says that are over 3,500 medical references on magnesium deficiency. He says to think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral, “Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.”
Do you suffer from lack of magnesium? After doing some research I learned thatan estimated 68 to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and don’t even know it. The following are some of the symptoms or illnesses you mightbe having, says Dr. Mark Hyman: “Muscle cramps or twitches, insomnia, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, anxiety, autism, ADD, palpitations, angina, constipation, anal spasms, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, angina, asthma, kidney stones, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, PMS, menstrual cramps, irritable bladder, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux or trouble swallowing.”
Why don’t I get enough magnesium? If you have any of the above symptoms you many not be getting enough of this mineral in your diet, or your intake of magnesium draining foods is too high. Excess coffee, tea, alcohol, sodas, sugar, and salt can deplete magnesium, as can stress, diuretics, and antibiotics.
Eat Foods High in Magnesium: Fill you plate with almonds, spinach, collard greens, wheat bran, wheat germ, Brazil nuts, tofu, avocado cashews, peanuts, shredded wheat cereal, soymilk, black beans, edamame, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, avocado, baked potato, brown rice, yogurt, oatmeal, kidney beans, banana, and salmon.
Supplements: The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for men is 420 mg/day, and 320 mg/day for women, although many doctors think these recommendations are too low. Most people do well with a higher dose from 400 to 1000 mg/day, says Dr. Hyman.
He also says to look for “easy to absorb magnesium like magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.” (My husband and I searched around and found Chealted Magnesium by Solgar).
Talk to a doctor before taking supplements if you have kidney disease or have a severe heart condition. Be aware that magnesium can cause loose stools, and you may have to experiment to find the best form for you.
Are you getting enough magnesium? Do you want to know more about it? Check out the links below!