Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Southwestern Chana Dal Veggie Burgers

Southwestern Chana Dal Veggie Burgers

I love veggie burgers, but the store-bought ones are loaded with soy, wheat, potatoes and other things I'm not suppose to eat, or don't want to eat. Thankfully I stumbled upon an amazing cookbook by Elana Amsterdam called The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. In it she has a wonderful Black Bean Burger recipe, though I find it a bit heavy on the salt. Anyway, it was after making her brilliant veggie burger recipe that I came up with this one.

I adore black beans, but wanted to use something even lower on the glycemic index, and chana dal fits the bill. I ordered my chana dal from Bob's Red Mill via Amazon

If you're scratching your head wondering what the heck chana dal is, as I was not too long ago, here is a fantastic website.

Don't have chana dal? Just substitute your favorite canned bean, such as black, (small beans are best), or cooked lentils, etc.


2 cups cooked chana dal
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped. Use either green or red, but a blend of the two would be lovely
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon Ancho chili powder OR 1 teaspoon ground ground chipotle powder
3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped OR 2 Tablespoons dried (not nearly as good!)
1/2 cup blanched almond flour

Saute onions and peppers until soft. Add garlic and saute a few minutes longer. Blend together the chana dal, eggs, almond flour and all spices/seasonings as well as the lime juice. Add the onion/pepper/garlic mixture to this and blend well.

Heat a well-oiled pan (I like using coconut oil for this; it lends a wonderful flavor) on low heat and spoon enough of the burger mixture to make a pancake-size burger. They are a bit runny at this point but will firm up as they fry. Don't over-fry these, but brown them nicely. Flip them over once they start to bubble in the center and have turned brown. Continue to fry until they're brown on the other side.

I'm trying to create a sauce that would be tasty to accompany these, but in the meantime I've been using a healthy version of a buttermilk ranch dressing on them. Salsa would also be good.

Elana Amsterdam's Black Bean Burger recipe was used here

I don't eat these on a bun, but I suppose you could. My husband likes them but not on a bun...he's expecting a meaty burger taste and of course these just don't have that, so they're served on a plate with some other healthy sides.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vegan Vanilla "Milk" Shake

Looking for something creamy and cool to enjoy during the heat of the summer? Can't eat ice cream or dairy products? This Vegan Vanilla Milk Shake should should satisfy any cravings you might have. Mildy sweet (sweetened with agave nectar).


1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups ice cubes
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
dash cinnamon--optional
small pinch salt--optional

Soak the raw cashews in 1 cup water for approximately 1 hour. This step isn't entirely necessary, but does soften the cashews a bit and will result in a creamier product.

Pour cashews and the water they soaked in into a blender. Blend on high speed for 1 minute. Add 1-1/2 cups ice cubes, agave nectar and vanilla. If you'd like to add the very small pinch of salt, do it now. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Has a slight "nutty" flavor, but if you like cashews this is not a problem. For a flavor variation, sprinkle a dash of cinnamon on top. You could alter this recipe in a plethora of ways by adding strawberries, or any fruit for that matter.

If you prefer a sweeter product, add more agave nectar. Agave nectar is low on the glycemic index, as are raw cashews, so this should be a good dessert for diabetics. And it's loaded with protein, thanks to the cashews.

Calories? We won't go there!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

The un-appetizing glob you see above is actually quite tasty. In spite of their glossy appearance, these kale chips are quite crisp. They don't store well, so eat 'em up the day you make them. You can store them in an air tight container, but they'll become soggy, yet still taste good. These are a nice alternative to potato chips, and quite honestly, the tast will grow on you if you're not a huge fan when you first try them. My husband doesn't like them, but I could just eat bags of these things.


1 bunch kale, about 6 large leaves. Washed and 2" or 3" inch chunks torn away from the tough stem. Discard stem.

1 lemon (or less, depending on taste)
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large backing sheet with parchment paper. Place torn kale bits into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the kale, and season lightly with salt. Using your hands stir up the mess until the kale is coated evenly with the oil.

Place kale on the baking sheet, trying to keep it in a single layer. If it won't fit onto one baking sheet, use a second one or make them in two batches.

Place in oven and stir the leaves around occasionally as they bake. The amount of time it takes for the leaves to get crispy will vary, but should take 20 minutes or longer. The outsides will tend to dry out and finish baking before the center, no matter how much you stir! And be careful not to over-bake these, or they'll have a burnt flavor.

Once they're nice and crispy but not burnt, take them out of the oven and taste. Adjust salt as needed. Enjoy!

**You could vary this recipe quite a lot, using different flavors of salts, salt substitutes, flavored oils...the list is endless. Some folks use vinegar instead of lemon juice. I love the tang of the lemon juice.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms--fresh out of the oven

Once again I found myself with an abundance of mushrooms in the past week. What to do? I love mushrooms, but even I get tired of just frying them, or adding them to egg drop soup or making mushroom soup. I recently bought a nifty little book, Cooking With Coconut Flour, by Bruce Fife, N.D. In it I found a recipe for stuffed mushrooms, and the following recipe is based loosely on the one I found there. I rarely follow recipes to the T, and though these are similar, they are quite different. The coconut milk and coconut flour adds a subtle coconut flavor, which is an amazing combination with the mushrooms and shallots.


12 medium to large sized button mushrooms
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons coconut milk
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 T. fresh if available)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt--taste to season to your liking
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash freshly ground nutmeg
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Clean the mushrooms, either brush off the dirt or wash, whichever you prefer. Make sure they are dry before proceeding.
2. Remove stems and set aside. Don't just cut the stems off, but actually pull them out of the cap so that there's an empty space to fill.
3. Chop the shallots and stems finely.
4. Saute the stems and shallots in 1 Tablespoon butter until shallots are softened.
5. Remove from heat, and add coconut milk, coconut flour, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well.
6. Place the mushroom caps bottom-side up in a greased baking pan, and fill each cap with the mushroom stem/shallot mixture.
7. Top each mushroom with a small amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
Serve hot and enjoy!

Remove stems from caps by pulling them out

Finely chop the stems and shallots. I love my little KitchenAid chopper!

Place the caps bottom -side up in a greased baking sheet, fill with the stem mixture, and top with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F, uncovered, for 15 minutes

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Simple Baked Apples

Baked apples. So easy, so delicious, and so good for you when made with no sugar added. Fruit is naturally sweet anyway, and you'll never miss the fact that these baked apples are sans sugar. If you simply must have them sweeter, you could add your sweetener of choice; my husband prefers brown sugar, and back in the days when I'd have added sugar, that would have been my choice as well.


Apples--cut in half and remove core

Prepare as many apples as you'd like to bake. Cut them in half and remove the cores, then place them face-up in a baking dish. Sprinkle them with cinnamon. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking dish, and add a little vanilla, perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon depending on the size of the baking dish. Cover the dish with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F until the apples are tender. Baking time will depend on the apple variety...some apples stay firm, others will get mushy pretty fast.

Once you've baked them to your preferred done-ness, plate them up and drizzle water/vanilla mixture from the baking dish over the apples and serve.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fresh Pea Soup

If you've never eaten fresh pea soup, you have no idea what you've been missing! It will soon be the time of year for fresh peas, and I can think of no better way to use them (other than perhaps steaming them and slathering butter on them) than in this Fresh Pea Soup recipe. I found the original recipe on Allrecipes, donated by someone named "Lizz C".

This pea soup is so sweet, healthy, and fresh-tasting all rolled up into one yummy bowl of goodness. I could eat bowl after bowl of this. And the color is gorgeous, too. Garnish with some currently blooming edible flowers, such as redbud blossoms or violets. This recipe serves 4.

Fresh Pea Soup

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 cups water
3 cups fresh English peas, shelled, or 3 cups frozen.
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cream or milk, optional

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots until they're tender, about 3 minutes. Add the water and peas, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, and cook until peas are tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the peas in a blender or food processor. The original recipe states to strain the soup, but I find that most people like the bits of pea skin in the soup, which adds a nice texture. At this point add the cream/milk if so desired (adds a bit of richness, which is very good!), and re-heat, but don't boil. Taste-test and adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls, and garnish. Serve, and listen to the "oohs" and "ahs"'ll probably wish you had made more; your guests definitely will!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Springtime Salad

Organic Springtime Salad

I stumbled upon another delicious salad combo the other day. Salads, of course, are whatever you want them to be. I had a few ingredients from our organic produce co-op, plus some from my garden. There are only a few ingredients, but it's a happy marriage of flavors and they compliment each other nicely. The lemony taste of the sorrel blends well with the peppery tang of the arugula and fresh onion. Of course, raw cashews taste good with just about anything and add a wonderful texture and vital protein. Feta cheese would probably go well with this salad.

Romain lettuce
Raw cashews
Sweet pepper
Green onion
Violet flowers
Greek dressing--my favorite is a brand called "Gazebo Room"

Fresh ingredients from my organic garden include arugula (left) green onions, sorrel (front and center), and violet flowers

Other ingredients include an organic sweet pepper and romaine lettuce from the organic produce co-op, organic raw cashews, and Greek dressing

A happy marriage of organic ingredients make the perfect salad

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Chocolate Avocado Shake

The star ingredient...avocado!

Now that's a combination you don't hear too often...chocolate and avocado. I first learned about chocolate avocado shakes on a Discovery Health TV show called "A Lyon in the Kitchen". The host whipped up a pretty tasting looking chocolate avocado shake, but I've altered the original recipe considerably to make it sugar-free and lactose-free. I first made this according to the original recipe, and it IS magnificent! However, since that time I've had to cut sugar out of my diet, and I'm trying to reduce dairy intake as well. Once you're used to NOT consuming huge quantities of sugar, things like this shake won't taste too weird to you. But, if you've got a serious sweet tooth, this will probably taste pretty bland and you'll want to add some sort of sweetener. I've added stevia powder with good results, though I find that stevia leaves an aftertaste that I'm not too fond of. I've also added agave nectar, which is low on the glycemic index, and that makes a good sugar substitute as well. This recipe (like all of my recipes!) is NOT written in stone and can be altered to suit your tastes.

Chocolate avocado shake ingredients, and finished product


1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
12 ice cubes (or a full ice cube tray of cubes)
2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or half vanilla almond milk and half dairy milk of your choice...whole fat does add delicious creaminess to this!)
5 grapes for sweetness--these can be omitted, or more added, OR, stevia powder or agave nectar can be used for sweetness.

Clean and pit avocado. Place avocado and remaining ingredients into a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well blended and thick. This makes two huge shakes, or several smaller ones. I sometimes eat one of these as a meal. I've also substituted strong, cold coffee for part of the milk and omitted the cinnamon for a mocha shake. Yum! As you can see, the posibilities are endless.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Organic Vegetable Kabobs

Lunch today was grilled vegetable kabobs. I had five mushrooms that just wouldn't fit into my dehydrator (I was drying 2 lbs. of button mushrooms), plus some leftover cherry tomatoes, and an abundance of squash and onions that just needed to be used up.

After cleaning the vegetables and skewering them onto skewers, I rubbed them with some organic Italian dressing just to add a bit of flavor and to keep them from sticking to the grill. You could use whatever dressing or oil strikes your fancy. Salt and pepper are optional (I did without and the flavor was wonderful).

The idea is to grill the kabobs on a heat that will cook the vegetables all the way through without burning them. My grill was hovering around the 300 degree Fahrenheit range. Turn the kabobs frequently to insure even cooking and no burning, though a bit of browning is tasty, but black is not (nor is it good for you!).

You can eat these hot on the side or serve over your choice of whole grain goodness.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner

A typical Sunday dinner for me would be what you see in the photo above. Hubby Dean usually has some sort of steak in place of the salmon. This is the one day of the week that I eat a pescetarian diet rather than complete vegetarian. This salmon is wild caught, has no color added, no addatives or preservatives of any kind added to it. I get it from my local "Surplus Outlet" for an amazing $3.69 per pound, so I stock up when they have it available.

Hubby Dean is the Grill Master, and he grills the best salmon ever. Below is his method for grilling my salmon.

Grilled Salmon

Salmon chunks
Italian Dressing--we use Nature's Promise Organic Italian Dressing found at Giant food stores
McCormick's "Mediterranean spiced sea salt"--found in the spice section of your grocery store

Lightly grease a piece of foil with olive oil. Dean forms edges on the foil to keep the oil and juices from dripping off into the grill. Place salmon on the foil and lightly drizzle with Italian dressing and sprinkle with Mediterranean sea salt. Grill on medium heat, turn once and sprinkle second side with Mediterranean sea salt. Do not over cook! This is the most delicious salmon I've ever had!

In addition to the salmon, I also enjoyed one of my favorite veggies, steamed asparagus. The secret to really good asparagus is to not over cook it. I steam mine for just a few minutes so that it's not raw, yet still has a slight crunch to it.

I also love fried summer squash. Since I'm trying to avoid wheat, I use some other kind of flour to coat the squash pieces, such as coconut flour or sorghum flour.

Grilled Salmon, Fried Summer Squash, Steamed Asparagus and Peas---all organic

Fried Summer Squash

Slice summer squash into 1/4" thick rounds--peel before slicing if not organic
moisten slices
coat slices in your choice of flours

Heat small amount of olive oil in a frying pan. Add coated squash, salt and pepper to taste. Fry 'til golden brown on each side.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fast Food---Cairnwood Style

Fast Food

We just popped in for a quick lunch. We'd just transplanted a little Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), and now that lunch is over I've got several fruit trees to plant. Not wanting to take a lot of time to fix something to eat, I heated up leftover stuffed cabbage for Dean (carnivore), and made salads for both of us. I also steamed some fresh organic asparagus and warmed some leftover broccoli for myself. All food you see in this photo is organic...everything but the cashews came from my organic produce co-op, and the organic cashews came from the local health food store. Why can't I order a lunch like this at any of the restaurants I've visited?

Walnut Gorgonzola Salad

In an attempt to re-create a salad that I had at a local restaurant, I came up with this version of their walnut Gorgonzola salad. The version I had was in my pre-no sugar days and it was the "sweet" version (with candied walnuts and sweet Balsamic reduction), and it was divine! To reduce sugar, candied walnuts can be replaced with toasted walnut pieces, and the Balsamic reduction can be replaced with the vinaigrette.

Mesclun greens
Apple slices (place slices into a bowl of water with lemon juice added to prevent them from turning brown)
Walnut pieces, toasted or raw, or "candied" walnuts--see below
Balsamic Vinaigrette, or Sweet Balsamic reduction--see below
Dried cranberries
Mandarin orange slices--optional

Arrange mescelun greens on individual serving plates. Sprinkle with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, Mandarin orange slices if using, and arrange apple slices on top. Shred Gorgonzola cheese on top and drizzle with Balsamic vinaigrette, or for a sweeter version, use the sweet Balsamic reduction.

Candied Walnuts

1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup sugar (can use half brown sugar and half white sugar)

Place walnuts and sugar in a small sauce pan, slowly bring to a boil (sugar will melt) and simmer until it begins to thickens into a light brown syrup. Don't reduce too much or the finished product will be very hard. Remove walnuts and spread on foil to cool. Once cool, break pieces apart.

Sweet Balsamic Reduction

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid begins to thicken. This will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't reduce too much.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Here is a delicious and easy-to-make dip that can be an appetizer or an entire meal. Dip fresh vegetables, organic corn chips, or bread of your choice into this dip and enjoy! This recipe is not written in stone and can be altered in dozens of ways to make a hummus that will appeal to you. I typically serve this chilled, but it could be tasty warm. My oldest son, Jeremiah, and I came up with this version of hummus after much taste-testing.


3 or 4 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)--drained (or 1 large can, or 2 small cans, drained & rinsed)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon course sea salt

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon dry parsley, or equivalent fresh if available

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (or as chunky as you like), adding more or less olive oil for the desired consistency. (or you can replace the olive oil with chickpea cooking liquid if you prefer).

Garnish with additional olive oil, parsley, and toasted pine nuts.

***OPTIONAL--add cooked asparagus prior to blending for a yummy alternative. I've used canned asparagus when fresh wasn't available, or you can use those woody stems that are normally broken off...just steam to cook and add to the hummus. Mmmmmm.