Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sprouting Beans and a Nourishing Lentil Soup



For health, environmental, and taste preference reasons I follow a most vegan diet. I cannot eat dairy or eggs because of allergies. I choose not to eat pork or beef mainly because I don't like the way it tastes, but also because it is not environmentally sustainable, and it is not healthy. I occasionally (once or twice a week) eat a small amount of pasture raised chicken I purchase from a local farmer or wild fish. Most of the time my protein comes from legumes, nuts and seeds.

Although I adore beans and legumes of all sorts, they don't always love me - sometime they do a number on my belly, if you catch my drift :). Given my dilemma, I did some reading and found a couple of ways to cook legumes that makes them easier to digest. One of the best options is to sprout beans. According to many sources, not only does this make beans easier on the gut, it also makes them more nutritious.

So far, I have sprouted lentils and mung beans with great results. The process is very simple, here is a great resource with photos. Here are the simple steps I follow:
1) Soak 1 Cup of dry lentils or mung beans in plenty of water for 24 hours
2) Thoroughly rinse and drain lentils/beans.
3) Put drained lentils/beans in a large glass mason jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with cheese cloth, use a rubber band to secure the cloth.
4) Let the jar sit a room temperature for 24 hours, until the lentils/beans have small sprouts. The beans/lentils are now ready to cook with in recipes such as the nourishing lentil soup posted below. If you do not want to use them right away, you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days.
**If you want to enjoy bean sprouts raw, let the sprouts grow another 2-3 days, then refrigerate until you are ready to use them.

I made this lentil soup last week for Alfred. We have both been a little under the weather, I think we caught some type of virus, but it hit him much harder than me. The best word to describe this soup is nourishing - it warms you to the bone with the gentle smokiness of cumin. The lentils also ensure it is filling, without being heavy. Pair it with a nice green salad for a perfect fall meal.

Nourishing Lentil Soup


1 Cup of Lentils that have been sprouted
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Large Carrot, peeled and diced
2 stalks of Celery, diced
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 medium Turnips, peeled and diced
1 medium Tomato, diced
3 Cups Stock (Vegetables or Chicken)
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 small bunch of spinach (around 3 cups)
Olive oil for pan

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat. Coat the bottom of the pot with a little olive oil, add the onions, celery and carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally into the onions are translucent (about 10-15 minutes). Add the garlic and turnips and cook another few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach. Also add enough water to cover the vegetables and lentils by 1 inch. Cover the soup and let it simmer until the lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add the spinach leaves and let the soup simmer another 10 minutes. Taste the soup and add more salt as needed.



Eat up!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting



There are several treats I have long wanted to bake, at the top of my list are bagels and cinnamon rolls. This week I tackled cinnamon rolls, next week I'm going to try bagels! Although I can't eat either of these wheat treats, Alfred loves them and I love trying out new things in the kitchen, so it's a win win in my book! (By the way locals are welcome to pop by and help him gobble up bagels next week).

Of course, I had to healthy up the rolls a bit. The version below contains no butter or sugar. Instead I used honey, dates and olive oil. I also replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat flour to make them more nutritious :). Alfred loved them (meaning he ate 6 in one day - and the day is not over yet), so don't let the healthiness make you think they aren't yummy!

This recipe makes 18 rolls - that's an awful lot for one man (even one with a mighty apetite), so I only baked half the rolls, I froze the other half (at step 5 I cut off half of the cylinder, wrapped it well in plastic wrap and freezer paper, and placed it in the freezer. I then cut the remaining dough into 9 pieces to use right away). When I want to bake the frozen rolls, I will let the dough defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with step 6. Keep in mind that if you make only half the rolls, you will need only half of the cream cheese frosting.
* I also include an option for making the dough the night before and baking the rolls in the morning - this way you will have hot fresh rolls in just over an hour.

Dough
1 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Honey
2 teaspoons Yeast
1/4 cup warm Water
1 Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Salt
2-1/2 cups Bread Flour (or all-purpose)
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

Filling
1 Cup Pitted Dates (packed into measuring cup)
1/2 Cup Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz. Cream Cheese (I used reduced fat), softened
5 Tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon

1) In a pot over medium heat, bring the milk nearly to a boil. Add the honey, salt, and olive oil; whisk thoroughly until honey dissolves. Set the milk mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and stir quickly. Stir in the egg. Add the milk mixture. (Make sure it's cooled down to room temperature or you'll kill the yeast.)

3) Combine the bread and whole wheat flour. Add the flour to the wet. Stir until the flour is all incorporated and the dough comes together in a soft, loose ball. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil (I always use extra virgin olive) to a clean bowl. Roll the dough around until it is oiled all over, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a wet dish towel. Put the bowl someplace warm, and let it rise until the dough has doubled in volume, about an hour-and-a-half.

4) Meanwhile make the filling and frosting. To make the filling combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the dates are soft and have absorbed the liquid. Thoroughly mash or puree the softened dates, set aside. To make the frosting, whip together all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined, then refrigerate the frosting until you are ready to use it.

5) Once the dough has risen, punch it down to deflate it. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about an eighth-inch thick (probably about 12-14 inches long by 8-10 inches wide). Spread the date filling evenly over the rectangle. Roll the dough up long-wise to form a cylinder 12-14 inches long. Cut the dough into 1 inch thick slices (I got 18).

6) Place the rolls in 2 oiled 8 or 9 inch round or square pan, or a 9-13 inch baking dish.

7) Now you have 2 options.

To bake the rolls right away:
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Bake the risen rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

To bake the rolls the following morning:
Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place the pan in the refrigerator. In the morning, take the rolls out of the refrigerator and place them in a warm place to rise until they are doubled in size (about 45 minutes). Bake the risen rolls in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

8) Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the hot rolls and enjoy!




As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eggplant Curry - Baingan Bharta



I love the combination of sweet and savory spices characteristic of Indian cuisine. I also love eggplant, and eggplant curry (Baingan Bharta) is one of my favorites anytime I eat at Indian restaurants. Since eggplants are plentiful at the farmer's market right now I decided to try to recreate this dish at home. Although it requires some exotic spices (you can easily purchase the spices online or at an ethnic grocer if you have one in your area), the dish is quite simple to prepare, and it is a great vegetarian option served with rice and a cucumber salad. I added some zucchini because I had some that needed using up - it is not "traditional" and you can omit it if you like.


Eggplant Curry - Baingan Bharta
1 Large Globe Eggplant
1 Onion, finely diced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or 1 fresh red chili, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Beefsteak Tomato, diced
1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
Sea salt to taste
Oil for pan

1) Prepare eggplant: Roast the eggplant whole in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until very soft. Alternatively, wrap the eggplant in foil and roast it over an outdoor grill (I did this while cooking dinner on the grill the night before I wanted to make the eggplant) until the eggplant is very soft. Let eggplant cool, then peel the eggplant, and mash the eggplant flesh along with any juice from it.

2) Prepare the curry: Heat a large skillet over medium heat, coat the skillet with a thin layer of oil. Add the onions, saute until they are transluscent. Add the ginger and garlic, saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, saute another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, zucchini and mashed eggplant. Cover and let simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Taste the curry, add salt as needed. Let simmer uncovered an additional 15 minutes, until the zucchini is very soft and the mixture has thickened.

Serve over steamed rice or try cauliflower rice for a yummy grain free treat!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Honey Cake for Rosh Hashanah



Shana Tovah! Happy New Year! We are very lucky to get to celebrate new years three times a year at our house: on January 1st we celebrate the New Year of the Gregorian calendar, in the Spring we celebrate the Persian new year - Noowruz, and in the fall we celebrate the Jewish new year - Rosh Hashanah. Of course, each of these holidays has it's own special food related tradtions. On January 1st we have black-eyed peas, for Nowruz we have fish with herbed rice, and on Rosh Hashanah we have lots of treats enriched with honey and/or apples. Being from Iran, Alfred's not accustomed to many of the Rosh Hashanah treats popular in the US - mostly brought over from European Jews - but if it is a sweet baked good he has no problem trying it out! In years past I made him challah to dip in honey and a cake chock-ful of apples. Both are traditional Rosh Hashanah fare. This year I opted for another classic Rosh Hashanah treat - honey cake. Of course, I had to healthy it up a little. As the name suggests, the cake is sweetened with plenty of honey, which also contributes moisture. Sweet spices including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves also add wonderful flavor. Whether you are Jewish or not, this is a great fall dessert. For those of you who, like me, can't have gluten, feel free to use almond flour rather than wheat!

Honey Cake:

1 Cup all-purpose flour (substitute almond flour for a gluten free option)
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry or White Whole Wheat Flour (or more all-purpose or almond flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1/4 Cup apple juice
1/4 Cup oil (I used melted coconut oil - you can also use olive, grape seed or canola)
*Confectioner Sugar for Decorating (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350, lightly oil and flour a 9 inch square, round, or spring form pan.
2) In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
3) In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining (wet) ingredients.
4) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in the liquid ingredients and beat until smooth.
5) Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 40-50 minutes or until firm to the touch.
6) Let cool completely and then decorate with confectioner sugar if desired.

I hope you and yours have a sweet new year!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Berry Orange Muffins



As far as muffins go, these are a very healthy treat. They are chockful of whole grains, healthy fats, fruit and natural sweeteners. I did not sample them because they are gluten-ful - but Alfred gives them two thumbs up (he ate three of them today). I used some of the wild black raspberries we picked earlier this summer and froze, red raspberries or blackberries would be great stand-ins.

The Recipe:
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour (preferably unbleached)
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (White whole wheat is a nice option)
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs (preferably free range and local, and at room temperature)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil (Grape seed is also a good option)
1/4 Cup honey
1/4 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 Cup evaporated cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar or sucanat (plus more for sprinkling on top if desired)- truth be told, you can use regular granulated sugar, these are just slightly healthier options
Juice and Zest of 2 oranges (I got about 1/2 cup of juice)
1 Cup Berries

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, line a muffin pan with paper liners (this recipes makes about a dozen).
2) Sift together the flours, flax, baking powder, soda and salt.
3) Combine the eggs, oil, honey, applesauce and orange juice.
4) Combine the sugar and orange zest, use your fingers to rub the zest and sugar together - this will cause the zest to release more of its oil, which is where all the flavor is
5) Add the zesty sugar to the wet ingredients
6) Thoroughly combine the wet and dry ingredients, fold in the berries
7) Spoon batter into muffin cups (an ice cream scoop is pretty handy for this) and sprinkle a little sugar on top of each unbaked muffin (that is optional, but it makes for a nice crunchy muffin top)
8) Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9) Remove immediately from muffin pan (if you let muffins sit in the pan, the bottoms steam and get soggy) and enjoy!





As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Easy Vegan Corn Chowder



This is another dish perfect for meatless monday (though it's great anyday)! As the weather is starting to cool off I've been craving soup. I had veggie soup everyday for lunch last week before my trip and black bean soup and white chicken chili while in D.C.

This corn chowder was inspired, in part, by two ears of corn that have been sitting in my fridge for over a week and really needed to be used. It is very simple and quick to prepare and you can easily double the recipe to serve more. As is this recipe serves 3-4 when paired with a salad.

2 Ears of Corn on the Cob
1 Large Carrot, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Bell Pepper (any color will do), diced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
Olive Oil
Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepper
1 Cup Pureed, Cooked Cauliflower*

1) Prepare the corn: Shave the corn kernels of the cobs, then using the flat side of the knife scrape any remaining corn juice/milk from the cob and cut or snap the corn cobs in half.
2) Prepare the soup: Coat the bottom of a medium-sized pot with olive oil, over medium heat saute the onion, carrot and bell pepper until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, saute another minute. Add the corn (including the milk and cobs), bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and enough veggie broth to cover the vegetables. Cover and the let the soup simmer 30 minutes.
*While it is simmering you can prepare the cauliflower by steaming it and then puree it. Alternatively you could puree an equal amount of cooked potato or white beans. These ingredients will all provide a "creaminess" to this vegan soup.
3) After 30 minutes remove the corn cobs and bay leaves, add the cauliflower puree and taste the soup adding more salt and pepper as neccessary.
4) Enjoy pipping hot with a nice green salad.

I served ours with leafy greens topped with diced kalamata olives, diced sun dried tomatoes, diced dried figs, diced shallots, toasted pine nuts and a basic red wine vinegrette. It made for a very tasty lunch!

I hope you enjoy this easy veggie soup!

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Gluten Free and Healthy, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!