Monday, December 15, 2014

Acorn Squash Wedges (vegan, paleo)

Happy December! Thankfully, this year hasn't been too too cold just yet, unlike last year. I am trying to eat more seasonably, though, so I've been eating quite a few root vegetables this winter. I had actually never tried making acorn squash until yesterday, but I figured I really should. It turns out that acorn squash is one of the easiest winter squashes to cut.

I won't try to take credit for this recipe because there are all kinds of variations on these online. I just figured I'd make this a little more allergy friendly. Make sure you have a sharp knife before starting.

Acorn Squash Wedges (vegan, paleo)

2 acorn squashes
2 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tbsp coconut sugar
Salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste

Preheat oven to 400F (or preheat it when you're done cutting the first squash).

Cut the squash into wedges. To do that, I took a really sharp knife and stuck the point into one of the ridges at a 90 degree angle from the counter, then pulled the knife down, sort of like a lever, to be parallel to the counter. Once the squash was almost cut in half, I stuck my thumbs in and pulled the halves apart. To cut each half into wedges, I reinserted the pointy part of the knife and slid the knife downwards. I got about 4-5 wedges out of each half.

Place the wedges into an oven-safe pan. Spread the oil and coconut sugar evenly between the wedges, then add salt, pepper, and chili powder.

Cook for 20 minutes. If sauce starts to accumulate at the bottom of the pan, pour it back onto the wedges, then cook for another 20 minutes.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ginger Carrot Butternut Squash Soup (vegan, paleo)

I feel like I've barely taken my face out of my books recently. I remember when I was younger and my mother told me that cooking was an enjoyable break from her work, and I thought she was strange. I definitely understand the feeling now. As much as I enjoy what I study, it's nice to see some colour, instead of black words on a white page. I have a tendency to buy pre-cut butternut squash, but this time, I actually peeled and cut a whole butternut squash.

I'm sad to say that we now have snow. I suppose I should expect it, but I never seem to get used to it. The weather's been making me crave warming foods. A hot soup really helps, but I wanted that extra little bit of warmth, so I thought ginger was in order. No regrets.

Ginger Carrot Butternut Squash Soup (vegan, paleo)

1 small squash, chopped (Check my butternut squash recipe for help on chopping it)
4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 inches gingeroot, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, pressed
4-6 cups veggie broth (just enough to cover the rest)
Salt and pepper to taste
A bit of oil for frying

Heat a bit of oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the ginger and toss around for a minute or so, until the ginger starts to brown a bit. Add the onion and garlic and toss around until the onion is translucent. Add the carrots and squash and toss around for about a minute.

Pour in the broth. If you like your soup thick, add in just enough broth to cover the veggies. If you want a thinner soup, you can add an extra cup or so. Boil for about half an hour, or until the carrots and butternut squash are soft, then remove from heat.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Optionally, you can add a bit of coconut milk to make the soup extra creamy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stove Top Flatbread (vegan, refined sugar free)

The most frustrating thing I found when I first moved in to my current place, back in May, is that the oven is so small that none of my nice stoneware pans fit in there. The only thing that seems to fit is those disposable grocery store aluminum pans, but in nutrition school, we've been taught that it's unhealthy to cook on aluminum.

I love to eat bread. I get tons of bread cravings, but when that happens, I try to make my own bread as much as possible. However, when I don't want to take the time to let a loaf of yeast bread rise, I usually opt for flatbread. Thanks to my tiny oven, this has been a bit more difficult to manage.

On Monday, I decided I'd had enough of letting this tiny oven run my life (well, so to speak). I decided I was going to make bread on my stove top, but I couldn't really find a recipe I liked. I've recently noticed that I've become so familiar with the vegan/gluten free chemistry that I can invent recipes and get them right on the first try. My only complaint the first time I made this flatbread is that it didn't look pretty enough to photograph, so I made it again on Wednesday and made sure to "roll" it out in a slightly more attractive manner.

Stove Top Flatbread (vegan, refined sugar free)

1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp potato starch
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
sprinkle of salt
3-5 tbsp water (start with 3 and add more, 1 tbsp at a time until everything sticks together)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup, honey, or agave (optional)
Oil for cooking

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. You may need to go in with your hands.

Spread a bit of oil in a frying pan. Spread the dough in the pan until it's about 1/4 inch thick, or just over 1/2 cm.

Once the dough is shaped how you like it, turn on the heat to medium low. Check the bottom every few minutes. When it looks nice and golden brown, flip the bread and continue cooking until the other side is also nicely coloured.

This recipe makes one medium flatbread so multiply as needed, or split the dough into two smaller breads.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Healthy(ish) Candied Walnuts Two Ways (vegan, paleo, refined sugar free)

Happy Halloween! I have chosen this day to come back from the dead. In my rather long absence, a lot has changed in my life (for the better). I finally started nutrition school. I thought it was going to be great. In reality, it is so much more. I get to learn about the topic I love the most, in the method I love the most, that is, holistically, with amazing and supportive people around me.

I've been on a bit of a candied walnut kick, lately. I can't tell you how many batches of these I've made since Canadian Thanksgiving. I don't think I've made them twice the same way, though. Since starting nutrition school, I've made a commitment to myself never to buy white sugar again. So, I decided to provide you with two recipes of candied walnuts (which can also be used with pecans, by the way) in order to let you decide which way you prefer your refined-sugar-free candied walnuts. While I very much enjoy both recipes, my personal favourite is method #2, though it doesn't win by much.

Healthy(ish) Candied Walnuts Two Ways (vegan, paleo, refined sugar free)

Method #1
1 cup walnut halves
3 tbsp maple syrup

Line a baking sheet (or any flat surface) with parchment paper.

Over medium heat, combine the two ingredients in a medium saucepan. Toss the walnuts around in the maple syrup every minute or so until the maple syrup starts to bubble slightly. At that point, start mixing it more often. As the walnuts become more difficult to toss around, make sure to keep them moving, otherwise you'll end up with a big sticky blob.

They're done when there no longer is any maple syrup swimming at the bottom of the saucepan, and the syrup on the walnuts starts to look granulated (about 5-10 minutes). At that point, quickly transfer the walnuts to the baking sheet and spread them out to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Let cool and transfer to an airtight container.

Method #2
1 cup walnuts halves
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Toss every 30 seconds or so for the first 2-3 minutes. After that point, keep the walnuts constantly moving.

They're done when the oil-sugar starts to get really sticky and looks darker (about 5-10 minutes). At that point, quickly transfer the walnuts to the baking sheet and spread them out to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Let cool and transfer to an airtight container.