carrot and sunflower seeds coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 t blackstrap molasses. Or 1 t blackstrap molasses plus 1 t maple syrup
  • 1-2 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

I made these using 1t molasses plus 1t maple syrup, and thought they were just a little too sweet when I tasted the dough after the second step, so I threw the 2 lemonquats I happened to have on hand into the food processor too! Next time I’ll try using just molasses and more lemon juice but no water to make them with a bit more zing. My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.

chocolate coconut macaroons


IMG_5819A phone call this morning with invitation to a Seder celebration makes me think to look up this recipe from long ago, from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, which I modified a bit many Passovers ago. Some of my favorite childhood memories at the beach include the best ever chocolate macaroon cookies from Seaside Bakery. I was so sad they quit using the same fabulous recipe when the bakery was sold years ago. The magic of those macaroons was that they were made without either flour or sugar, were instead sweetened and moistened by chopped dates… as are these macaroons too.

ingredients:

  • 5 oz Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate (because we like it for a treat) plus 1T butter. (She calls for 4 oz Baker’s German’s Sweet chocolate plus1 oz unsweetened chocolate)
  • 3 egg whites, from grade large or extra large, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 10-12 dates, chopped very fine (use food processor to turn to paste, a generous 1/4 cup of date paste (she calls for 1/2 c granulated sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract- or 2 if needed to adjust moisture. Or plus
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 7 oz (or about 2 to 2 and 1/4 cups, loosely packed) shredded coconut

instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F with two racks adjusted to divide oven into thirds for even baking. Break up chocolate and melt it with 1T butter in top of double boiler over moderate heat, covering until partially melted. Then uncover and stir until completely melted and smooth– but do not overcook. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside uncovered to cool to room temp.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold a firm peak when the beaters are raised. Add the vanilla and finely chopped dates, beat until the meringue is stiff but only just so. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and efficiently beat in the cooled chocolate, softly only until mixed. Then using only the spatula, gently mix or fold in the coconut. Batter will be rather crumbly, a little dry as you are mixing all together well. But it shouldn’t be too dry, so add the coconut judiciously.

Using a moderately rounded teaspoonful of the mixture for each cookie, form 12-16 small ball cookies on each parchment covered cookie sheet. This is when you could top each with a single almond sliver if you’re so inclined. Bake for about 10-12 min, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once mid-way to ensure even baking. When the macaroons are done they should look just-edge-of-dry on the outsides, but remain soft in the centers! With a wide spatula transfer the macaroons to raised racks to cool so the bottoms will cool to be firm and dry, but the cookies will be still moist inside.

a wee bit Irish with potatoes, cabbage, mustard and a twist


Indeed I’ve got a wee bit of Irish heritage, and more…. Of course at this time of year cooking a big pot to share is a fine thing to do, as it always is…

ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized red potatoes, cut into chunky cubes
  • 1/2-1 head green cabbage, chopped into 1/4″ ribbons
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 c or so fresh cranberries

instructions:

Saute cubed tempeh in a large heavy bottom frying pan in 2 T olive oil until lightly browned and crispy outside but still moist inside. Set aside in a large serving bowl with lid. Add another 1-2 T olive oil to the pan, add the mustard seeds, then as they begin popping add the red potatoes, onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned; then add 1-2 T water, cover and steam on reduced heat until the red potatoes are soft but not mushy. Set aside with the tempeh. In the same frying pan over medium heat, saute the chopped green cabbage and yellow pepper for about 3 minutes, only until it brightens and softens just a wee bit. Add these to the other ingredients in the serving dish, mix all together well. When ready to serve, heat the 1 c fresh cranberries in just a little water in the microwave briefly or over low heat on the stovetop, only until they brighten and soften just a bit, slightly warmed. Serve these and walnuts generously as garnish. This will keep covered in the refrigerator well for a couple days.

Cooking the cabbage a bit reduces its goitrogenic factor when serving this to those who have low thyroid function. The tempeh and walnuts increase the protein sufficiently for vegetarians making this a “one pot” meal. I buy and freeze cranberries when they are plentiful and on sale during the holidays, then pull them out of the freezer for recipes such as this, to add a pop of tangy flavor and vitamin C.

thinking about succorance


Given that I love words, on any given day I find myself briefly referring to my dictionary app. Yesterday’s word of the day on Dictionary.Reference.com has long been one of my favorites. Today I’m thinking about how succorance is evidenced in my life… also how our food preparation choices can support or sabotage the dietary, health, and weight goals of our family, friends and colleagues when we share food with others.

succorance

 \ SUHK-er-uh ns \  noun;

1.the act of seeking out affectionate care and social support.

quotes:

  • Here, food in general, and the feeding of someone else in particular… are equated with love, succorance, with a bond between caring parties, with the largely selfless, human act,… and Chaplin uses food in motifs that point us toward what distinguishes a civilized society from a jungle.  Jay Boyer, “Cry Food: The Use of Food as a Comic Motif in the Films of Charlie Chaplin,” Beyond the Stars: Studies in American Film , 1993
  • Here Woolf returns to her metaphor of the outsider seeking warmth, shelter, succorance, yet courting danger.  Shirley Panken, Virginia Woolf and the “Lust of Creation,”  1987

pumpkin cranberry muffins


IMG_5358With one friend sick with a snotty head cold and another who is facing down a career challenge coming over for lunch, it’s time to make a big pot of carrot ginger root soup and some comforting muffins. Some days simply deserve a treat! I served these warm, with sunflower seed butter or cream cheese as options. Some fresh ginger root tea and pumpkin muffins– if any are left over– make a great breakfast to clear away a cement head. My pets love pumpkin too, so the rest of the can of pumpkin will be heartily enjoyed, with the fiber great for their digestive tracks.

ingredients:

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 1/2 T molasses
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1 c pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 c or so milk, as needed
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t clove
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c or so fresh frozen cranberries

instructions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter over low heat, adding in the molasses and maple syrup. Measure flours and other dry ingredients and mix well together in a large measuring cup. Beat together the egg and pumpkin, then add in the melted butter mixture. Beat all together well. Add the dry ingredients, and stir decisively but briefly, to mix all together well. Be minimalist in stirring. Using unbleached muffin cups or buttered muffin tins, fill each 3/4 full, then depending upon size of fresh cranberries, tuck 3-5 cranberries into each muffin. Bake about 20-22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean, then cool on rack. Makes 12.

IMG_5352IMG_5343

 

fava beans with artichokes, bulgur, lemon and basil


It’s January again, and the gym is rocking full as so many earnestly begin their New Year resolutions to lose weight and live more healthfully. Days are shorter and work seems harder after leisurely time off over Christmas. So friends ask me more often at this time of year, “How do you eat a good fast lunch at work?” and “How do you get a good dinner on the table fast after work and the kid’s team practices?”, as well as the standard  “How do you manage to get enough protein not eating meat?” My answers are simple– cook ahead larger batches of simple whole foods with their own natural bright flavors. Keep basic staples in your cupboards and fridge. Include legumes, seeds and nuts in your diet daily. Try new ingredients, in new combos. Eat mostly local foods, in season, but allow yourself to enjoy too the occasional ingredient that may be from afar- or a season afar- if that makes your recipe pop. Enjoy!

After many days of winter root based soups, and potatoes or yams with dark greens combos, now that the sun is out and it’s clear and cold, I wanted something savory and bright…so decided to go to the Mediterranean for a sunny and heart healthy fava bean salad…

IMG_5246

ingredients:

  • 16 oz frozen fava beans
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can artichokes
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup bulgur
  • black pepper
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • feta cheese

instructions:
Place bulgur in large casserole dish with lid. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, then stir into bulgur, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain off any residual water, fluff with fork. Place frozen fava beans into saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until beans feel soft and you can readily peel away the inner skin. Drain, rinse in cold water, then enjoy popping each bean out of its inner skin. Place a couple tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet, then saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent. Add garlic, chopped celery and peppers, also peeled fava beans and artichokes (first drain the artichokes, then rinse and drain again); stir all together as the peppers cook just enough to turn bright and begin to soften. Remove from heat. Add finely chopped fresh basil, bulgur, and juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon. Stir all together well, add black pepper to taste, also dress with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or room temp for lunch at work, topped with feta cheese. Stores well in refrigerator in a casserole dish with airtight lid for several days.

savory crepes (holiday shared cooking fun)


ingredients:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • dash salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • butter for frying

filings:

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4-12 medium jalapeno w seeds, diced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped
  • 1 d’anjou pear, chopped
  • pecans, pistachios, or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta, gorgonzola or Toscano pepper cheese
  • raisins or chopped turkish apricots
  • cream cheese or soft avocado as garnish

IMG_5089Prepare the batter an hour or two before making the crepes, as the flour particles expand when the batter stands, which provides for lighter crepes. Sift together the flour and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs lightly with a wire whisk, then stir in milk. Beat the liquid gradually into the sifted dry ingredients. Beat vigorously for 2-3 minutes to make a smooth batter. The batter should be very light, the consistency of heavy cream. If any lumps remain, strain batter through a sieve. Cover and set aside in refrigerator to rest.

 

Ideally use a heavy bottomed iron pan with sloping sides (to make it easier to turn the crepes), of about 5-10 inches in diameter. An enameled 6.5in base cast iron skillet is what I happened to have, and it worked well, making a not too big, not too small sized crepe. Heating the pan evenly and thoroughly is the first secret to making a good crepe; success also is a function of using the exact amount of batter needed for the size of the pan, so it covers but is not too thick. Thin crepes are good crepes! Brush or rub the entire surface of the pan with butter, heating it briskly until hot but not smoking. Remove from heat, holding it in the air, while pouring a small amount of batter- about 2-3 T or a small soup ladle worth, in the middle of the pan, concurrently tilting to spread the batter to cover the pan surface. If you have too much batter and some is left over after the bottom surface of the pan is covered, pour it back into the batter bowl. Set pan over medium heat to cook, about 2- minutes, until the top of the crepe is dry and the bottom side begins to turn lightly brown (check this by lifting one corner of the crepe with a spatula.) Flip the crepe, then cook on the second side about 1-2 minutes. Tip the crepe out onto a serving plate. Repeat until all batter has been used; this made 12 moderate sized crepes.

Saute the onion and jalapeno pepper in a little olive oil, then add 1/2-1 Braeburn or Granny Smith apple. Add a little rosemary and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down, cover and reduce for several minutes. Remove from heat.

IMG_5086We played with different combinations of filings using the onion and apple balsamic mixture as base filler, including feta with roasted pumpkin seeds; apricot with pistachios; pear and gorgonzola with pecans; pear with Toscano pepper cheese and raisins. Place filled crepes in warming dish, warm all before serving. Both the soft avocado and cream cheese were wonderful garnishes at the table. (I would omit the last minute addition of cheddar garnish next time.)

Served with an arugula, pomegranate, feta and walnut salad, this was a hearty brunch. Also a very happy and fun Christmas morning shared cooking…new tradition. (Crepe cooking instructions found in The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono & Maria Stacho 1969 found on my mother’s kitchen bookshelf when I closed down her house this last year.)

IMG_5073IMG_5099_3