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Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’

Tonight’s dinner was a successful cornucopia of veggies in disguise, and a quick and easy one at that!

By now, Ecogirl is four and a half, and Ecobaby isn’t such a baby anymore … two months past her second birthday already! How time flies! They are (mostly) adventurous eaters, but I sometimes still get stubborn resistance to eating vegetables.

So what do I do? I don’t bother with a fight. I just pull the veggie bait-and-switch, and dupe them into eating something delicious and nutritious that they weren’t expecting.

Who doesn’t like pasta?!?! That one always goes over well at our house, and likely at yours too. Cries of “Yay, fettuccine!” filled my ears, while they hadn’t the foggiest notion I’d be hiding several servings of veggies amidst the twirling mass of tasty noodles.

I’ve been trying to stay (somewhat) gluten-free while I’m exploring my newest diet to increase alkalinity. I’m not religious about it, but I do find I feel better when I reduce, or better yet eliminate, processed wheat products. Ecodaddy is mostly onboard with my unconventional dietary choices, but he is not a big fan of rice pasta, instead ever-loyal to those amber waves of grain that are a staple of the standard American diet (aka wheat).

But since he’s at work tonight and it’s just us girls having dinner at home, I took the opportunity to let my beloved rice pasta take center stage. You, however, are more than welcome to use any type of pasta you darned please.

veggie fettuccine

While I chose not to, feel free to top with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if you are so inspired!

Quick and Easy Veggie Fettuccine

While the water boiled for the pasta, I warmed up a cast-iron pan and poured in a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil. When it had that glisten that told me it was just right for sizzling veggies, I added about 1/4 cup diced onions. I let the onions sauté for a few minutes til they softened and browned a bit, then added 1/4 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1/4 cup chopped cauliflower florets, about 1/4 cup vegetable broth and a few hefty pinches of sea salt. I put a lid on it and let it simmer over medium-low heat a few minutes, then took the lid off and let the cooking liquid evaporate. In went a couple of minced garlic cloves. Just another minute or two of sautéing so the garlic wouldn’t burn, and I then dumped in half a jar of store-bought tomato sauce (hey, even Ecomamas take short cuts sometimes!). Warmed it all up and voila: fast and easy veggie tomato sauce!

By this time, I had put a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a few hefty pinches of sea salt into the boiling water, and in went the rice fettuccine. Rice pasta is terribly gummy if overcooked, so you really need to keep a close eye (and taste) on it. It keeps cooking in the colander, so after straining it, I ran some cold water over the noodles to halt the cooking process.

Meanwhile, the now-empty pasta pot went back on the stove on medium-low heat with a glug of extra virgin olive oil (if you are not on a dairy-free diet like I am, I encourage you to use a few tablespoons of butter instead!), and the rinsed pasta went back in the pot and tossed with a few pinches of sea salt and a few turns of the black pepper mill.

I served the veggie-laden sauce over a bed of the well-seasoned fettuccine, and topped the girls’ bowls with grated parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano is our personal fave). Alas, no cheese for me, but still very tasty.

The girls both gobbled it up … I was thrilled when they asked for seconds, and simply floored when they asked for thirds!

Sidenote: several years ago, my sister gave me one of the greatest pieces of kitchen advice EVER. She said, whenever you have only a short amount of free time, like the five minutes you’re waiting for your kid to go potty before you head out of the house for an excursion, and there’s no other real project or task you can get done in this short time, do this: grab something out of the fridge, chop it, put it in a lidded container, and place back in the fridge.

Thanks to her, and all these little segmented five-minute periods of time throughout my day, I have nicely organized containers of just about every vegetable and fruit chopped and ready to use at a moment’s notice! Thanks sis!

What are some of your favorite ways to disguise veggies or your favorite time-saving kitchen tips?

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This is how I’m squashing my chocolate craving tonight.

photo credit Oh She Glows

While this recipe considers the buckwheat optional, I chose to add it as a tribute to my partly Russian roots, and to give a little extra crunch. My Russian acupuncturist once bought me a bag, telling me it is high in iron and B vitamins, and iz gooood toooo noooorish blaaaahd.

And by now you already know how much I love the humble chia seed, bursting with fiber and omega goodness.

Need I even say anything at all on how I feel about chocolate? It borders on obsession. The darker the better, like 70% or higher.

Here I used the standard 60% bittersweet chips, a la Nestle. Because they have some sugar, I do not use any additional sweetener. If you choose to use darker chocolate, feel free to add a squirt of raw honey or agave.

Chocolate Oatmeal Freezer Cookies

  • 1.25 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp buckwheat groats
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • Squirt of honey or agave (optional)
  1. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop banana and mash into melted chips.
  3. Stir remaining ingredients into chocolate banana mixture and stir well until oats are coated with chocolate.
  4. Spoon mixture evenly into twelve muffin liners and freeze for about an hour, or until firm.

You can leave these in the freezer and they will stay somewhat chewy, not freezing up to a completely solid state. They definitely squash my chocolate fix any time of day or night. Usually night. Late at night. Like now.

Excuse me, I think I hear the freezer calling my name …

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I must tip my hat to the Barefoot Contessa for this one. I enjoy so many of her recipes because of her choice of simple ingredients and simple flavors that really let the flavor of the food shine through.

Plus, spending my days chasing after my one year old and three year old Ecokids, I usually don’t have much time for anything more complicated than this!

Like other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants. Include crucifers in your regular diet, and you are decreasing your chances of cancer. Brussels sprouts also fight inflammation in the body, which is a leading cause of disease and general “unwellness” in the United States.

Brussels sprouts are also one of Ecodaddy’s favorite veggies since his childhood, so I knew I’d have one fan before I even began. He cooks with a lot more spice than I do, so I wondered if the simplicity of this dish with just salt and pepper would appeal to him. I salted them heavily, like French fries, per Ina May Garten’s recommendation.

He went back for seconds. And thirds. Nuff said.

And hey: when your three year old asks for more, then shovels them in like there’s no tomorrow, you know this recipe is a keeper!

photo credit: MsPia

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), enough to coat without being too wet
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt
  • about ten turns from your fresh pepper grinder
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim tough brown ends of Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowed leaves.
  3. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients until Brussels sprouts are well coated. Turn them out onto a baking sheet lined with silicone mat, parchment paper or foil.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, giving the pan a shake every ten or fifteen minutes to insure they brown evenly. Serve immediately.

For me, the best part is the outer leaves that fall off when you toss everything in the bowl … lay them out on the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts, and they will crisp up like tiny little potato chips!

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Remember those ceramic statues in the seventies shaped like animals or a human head that you’d cover with a fine layer of tiny black seeds and water daily? Sprouts would grow, making it like fur or a really tight ‘fro.

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Chia seeds provide super-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain development. Omega-3’s are also linked to joint health as well as elevated mood; one Scandinavian study showed that people taking an omega-3 supplement for four months reported happier outlooks on life.

Eating seeds can make you happier. Who knew!

The little black seeds can hold 8-10x their weight in water, making a gelatinous substance that can be used in many different ways. It can substitute for eggs in various recipes, baking or otherwise. I also add it to foods where my three year old won’t notice, like pasta sauce or scrambled eggs, as well as putting it in Ecodaddy’s morning smoothie. The seeds don’t really have a particular flavor, so they are very easy to camouflage.

Photo credit: MySuperFoods

Chia Gel

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 quart mason jar, or similar lidded container
  1. Place seeds and water in container and seal lid. Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  2. Let rest for a few minutes, then shake again. Gel should be ready in ten minutes.
  3. Refrigerate and use for up to two weeks.

If you want to use your gel as a substitute for eggs in recipes, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 cup chia gel per egg. I do this often in baking recipes, and neither Ecodaddy nor the Ecokids ever know the difference.

It’ll be our happy little secret.

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Today I stroll down memory lane and remember many great, cheap, vegetarian meals at Dojo Restaurant in the East Village, NYC.

It was there in my teen years that I was first introduced to tahini dressing. They’d put it on everything: the soy burgers, the salads, you name it. It was sooooo gooooood, I’d always ask for an extra side order of it. Whatever was left over at the end of the meal, I’d hastily slurp up with a spoon.

Yes, dear reader, it was that good.

I moved away from NYC over a decade ago, and was disappointed to recently learn that the good ol’ East Village Dojo is now closed. I sigh a sad goodbye to a venerable institution that fed the starving student set oh-so-well, myself included.

But it isn’t all sad goodbyes today … say hello to delicious, easy tahini dressing you can make at home with just five simple ingredients!

Texturally, it’s got a wide range of applications. Thicker, it’s a great dip for vegetables, or a creamy topping for a veggie burger, Dojo-style. Thinner, it’s a lovely, earthy salad dressing.

I especially love it over chopped raw kale with tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprouts.

What’s your favorite way to eat tahini dressing?

Tahini Dressing

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water (more if you like a runnier dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 generous pinches of sea salt
  1. Combine tahini and lemon juice  and whisk until evenly combined. First it will look like it’s curdling, then it will come together, thickening, becoming creamier, and lighter in color.
  2. Add a little water, plus the garlic clove and sea salt; whisk thoroughly
  3. Add more water in increments until you reach desired consistency.

Keeps in the fridge for 3-5 days. Mine never lasts that long though!

Photo credit: Limes & Lycopene

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I love kale. Simply adore it. Raw, cooked, whatever. Can eat an entire bunch by myself in one sitting. And do. Often.

In the Standard American Diet (SAD for short, with good reason), you usually find kale as the garnish under a platter of fruit salad. Sad indeed.

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s a great source of fiber, calcium, lutein, iron, vitamins A, C, E and K. It does require a little more work from the jaws than many other greens, so it benefits from long, slow cooking, or if eaten raw, a significant amount of chopping.

It’s rich in the phytochemical sulforaphane, which triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. A 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that sulforaphane stopped breast cancer cells in their tracks.

As good ol’ Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be food.”

This marinated kale salad is vegan, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, and absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s green, and by know you already know how I feel about greens!

Preparation is also quite kid-friendly, as it involves “massaging” the greens with sea salt. Lots of fun for little hands. Ecogirl certainly enjoyed it!

It’s one of my favorite “go-to” dishes for potlucks, and it’s even better the next day.

If it lasts that long.

Marinated Kale Salad

  • two bunches kale
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Any chopped raw vegetables you like, such as tomato, red pepper, avocado, etc.
  1. Wash and dry kale, tearing leaves from stems. Put stems aside for another use (we chop ours into small pieces, steam, and toss into soups and stews)
  2. Chop kale leaves into a fine chiffonade or just chop into very small pieces. Place kale in large bowl
  3. Sprinkle salt over kale and “massage” leaves for a few minutes until they start to become moist
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together EVOO, lemon juice, and garlic
  5. Pour dressing over greens and mix well. Let sit for at least ten minutes. Even better if it sits overnight in fridge
  6. Just before serving, add chopped raw vegetables and mix well

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