Lemon Cake

15 08 2012

This dish is a dance that took 12 months to create.  The foundation was simple:  Make a cake.  The rhythm was more challenging:

No animal products… no eggs, butter, dairy.

No refined sugars… no honey, agave, stevia.

No oils… not olive, not coconut, not avocado.

Only whole wheat flour.

And make it taste good.

After 12 months of practicing the steps, this is my dance.

Lemon Cake

Serves 8

2 tablespoons flax meal

½  cup dates, soaked in warm water

1 tablespoons dried lavender buds

½ cup raw cashew butter, no-salt-added

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.

To make flax eggs:  Combine flax meal with 6 tablespoons warm water.  Whisk together and let sit 5 minutes, until mixture is gelatinous and slimy, like eggs.

To combine wet ingredients:  Remove dates from soaking liquid.  Place in a blender or high-speed food processor with ½ cup of the soaking liquid.  Puree until well-blended and smooth.  Add dried lavender, cashew butter, non-dairy milk, and vanilla.  Puree until smooth.

To make cupcakes:  Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  Add the lemon zest and juice and vinegar.  Stir well to combine.  Line an 8” round cake pan with parchment (or use a 12-cupcake silicon baking mold).  Pour the cake batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Bake 20-25 minutes for regular cake (10 to 15 minutes for cupcakes).  The cake will be done when it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Let fully cool before frosting.

Lemon Frosting

Makes 1 cup

1 cup raw cashew butter, or 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained

8 dates, pitted and soaked in warm water

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

To prepare the Lemon Frosting:  Place the cashew butter (or soaked cashews), dates, vanilla, and ¼ cup warm water in a high-speed blender or food processor.  Pulse the mixture several times, and then blend until the ingredients are thick, smooth, and creamy.  If needed add 1-tablespoon at a time of water to the blender until the desired consistency is achieved.  Cream can be use immediately or may be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.    

Freezes beautifully.





Apricot Bean Salsa

8 08 2012

Salsa comes down to a few key ingredients: jalapeno, lime, and cilantro.  From there, the possibilities are endless, making it the perfect setting to use summer’s ripest fruits.  Adding beans takes it from side dish to main course.

2 cups cooked yellow eye stueben beans

2 large apricots, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 lime, zest and juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To make salsa:  Combine all just before serving. Enjoy in bibb lettuce cups.

If making a day ahead, layer all of the ingredients in a large bowl, with the beans and cilantro on top.  Toss just before serving.  If you toss any sooner, you beans and apricot will get mushy.





Red Rice, Yellow Cauli

30 07 2012

Time to embrace color.  Red Himalayan rice comes from Southeast Asia.  Yellow Cauliflower is colored with the golden hue of Indian curry powder.  Make sense out of two perplexing ingredients.

Serves 4

2 cups red rice

1 white onion, diced

2 tablespoons curry powder, home-made or pre-made

1 large head yellow cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To cook the rice: In a small pot, cover rice with a couple inches of water.  Simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.  Turn off heat, fluff, and keep covered until cauliflower is ready.

Meanwhile, to make your Yellow Cauli:  Place onion, curry powder, and 1/2 cup of water in a large saute pan.  Sweat gently over medium heat until onions are soft and the liquid becomes paste-like.  Add cauliflower to the pan and stir well to coat in the yellow curry paste.  Cover and reduce heat to low to steam cauliflower.  Cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  Add cilantro and stir well to combine.

Serve a big scoop of yellow cauliflower over a huge mound of red rice.  Enjoy!





Cracked Wheat Greek Salad

9 07 2012

Cracked wheat is a low-maintenance whole grain.  How to cook?  Just soak in warm tap water.  No need to turn on the stove.  Now that’s what I call easy.

Serves 6

2 cups cracked wheat (also called bulgur)

1 red onion, diced

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 seedless cucumber, diced

1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Place cracked wheat in a large bowl.  Cover with 4 cups of hot tap water.  Let sit while preparing other ingredients.  The longer it sits, the softer the cracked wheat will get.  You don’t need to cook the cracked wheat.  Just let it sit in the warm water.

Add all other ingredients to the cracked wheat.  Toss well to combine.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Best let sit overnight for flavors to marry.  Serve chilled.





Fear Not Carbs

3 07 2012

Recent tidbits in the media have reiterated the strengths of eating a Plant-centric diet.
Check out this fun video featuring some of our favorite diet guru.  Dr. Atkins is on there, as well as the writer of the Paleo Solution and some other low-carb heavy hitters:

Low-Carb vs Plant-Based

I’m usually not one to judge by someone’s personal appearance, but I highly doubt that ripped Cross Fit junkies would be motivated by the Paleo grandfather, Loren Cordain.
Beyond carbs, though, what is most important is eating whole foods.  So many times we think of “carbs” as the refined foods that have added sugars and fats.  We think of processed breads, cookies, crackers, pastries, doughnuts, and fries.  None of these are whole foods.  They have been stripped of fiber, protein, and nutrients and fortified with fats, oils, and flavorings to seem like food.  These are food imposters.

Whole carbs are plants.  They are whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa, corn).  They are potatoes (loaded with fiber, nutrients, and even protein and fat).  They are beans and legumes.  They are fruits.  They are complex, which means the body breaks them down slowly so that it can absorb all of their goodness without spiking blood sugar levels or raising insulin.

Even Women’s Health spent some time to quiet some of the myths of meatless eating:

5 Vegetarian Myths

The coolest thing I like on this list is that a Plant-Based diet is often more diverse then a meat-inclusive diet.  I think back to my chicken days.  The same chicken, 4 different ways, week after week.  Now, I eat all colors and sizes of grains.  I’m cooking beans I never knew existed.  I’m tasting different varieties of dark greens, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, spices, and more.  And if I do eat chicken?  Well, it tastes the same as it always did — boring.

Good luck, Plant-friendly eaters.  Please keep me posted on the progress.  May the plants be with you!





Cool Watermelon Salsa

2 07 2012

This beautiful, fresh salsa highlights some of summer’s sweet melons.  Watermelon is a go-to favorite, but you can also use cantaloupe, canary, or buttercup melons for different colors and flavors.

Makes 3 cups, serves about 12 for appetizers

 

2 cups seedless watermelon, diced

1 seedless cucumber, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (for help on choosing one, check this video)

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 lime, zest and juice

1 head radicchio (for serving)

Toss together watermelon, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.  Chill for at least 30 minutes (or better yet, overnight) for flavors to come together.  Portion into radicchio cups and served chilled.

Puree extras for a refreshing gazpacho.

 





Purple Sticky Rice Pudding

22 06 2012

This addictive dish works for both breakfast or dessert.  With natural sweetness from bananas and the rich flavor of vanilla bean, you can eat till the purple rice runs dry.

Serves 6

2 cups short grain purple sticky rice (if unavailable, substitute with short grain brown rice or steel cut oats)

2 cups blueberries

2 bananas

2 vanilla beans, seeds and pods (see how to do it here)

4 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir vigorously to release the starches in the rice.  Cook until rice is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes or so to release more of the starches.  If mixture becomes to dry, simply add more water.

Garnish with diced mangos or apricots.