January 15, 2012

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Hello to anyone who still reads! I haven't been making anything too remarkable lately, which is one of the reasons for my lack of posting, but this just has to be shared.  This banana bread is made with a mix of almond flour and coconut flour and has only 1 tablespoon of sweetener! It's sort of unbelieveable.

I've used coconut flour and almond flour a couple of times before: once for my gluten-free banana bread pancakes and another time for Elana's gluten-free chocolate raspberry hamantaschen, which I never posted about (sorry...).  

"Gluten-Free" has turned into a huge buzz-word over the last year as celiac disease and gluten-sensitivities have become more publicized and, according to some, more prominent.  Like the words "organic" and "vegan," people who aren't too educated about food/health automatically think gluten-free = healthy, but that's not always the case.  While I don't think a gluten-free diet is healthier and I really enjoy eating gluten, I've been having chronic stomach problems lately.  Thus as the new year began, I said goodbye to 90% of the gluten and dairy in my diet.  I'm hoping this isn't going to be permanent, but I'm trying it out to see if I notice any improvements.  Nothing's been conclusive at the doctor's office so I'm trying to do some work on my own.  

How has it been so far? Well, I ate minimal dairy to begin with and I'm not a huge cheese lover so that part's been pretty easy.  The only time I really want dairy is when I'm having coffee.  Cappuccinos and lattes are infinitely comforting and soy milk just doesn't cut it.  Sure, I like black coffee, but not as much.  Steering clear of gluten actually hasn't been that difficult either, except when I go out, which is where the other 10% comes in. I know I don't have celiac disease so if I'm at a restaurant and I'm dead-set on something glutenous (or gluttonous?), chances are I'll probably get it. 

Anyway, that's enough about me.  All I really wanted to say is that this banana bread is awesome.  Almond flour and coconut flour have their own natural sweetness (as do bananas) so you won't miss the usual added sugar at all.  The texture is also very bread-like and not overly dense, so if you're curious about experimenting with alternative flours, this recipe is the way to go.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Adapted from Elana's Pantry

3 bananas (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil, melted (I used a mix)
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

(All mixing can be done in the food processor, but if you don't have one or hate cleaning it use two bowls as explained here).  In a medium bowl, mix bananas, eggs, vanilla, honey and ghee/coconut oil. In a large bowl, mix flours, sea salt and baking soda.  Add wet mixture and beat until no lumps remain.

Elana suggests using a 7.5" x 3.5" Magic Line Loaf Pan but I didn't have one of these so I divided the batter between three mini loaf pans and it worked perfectly.  If you don't have either, I'm sure you could make these into muffins.

Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes in the Magic Line Loaf Pan. About 50 minutes in mini loaf pans. Let cool and enjoy!

November 27, 2011

Pickled Watermelon Radishes

Radishes are the newest addition to my "Foods I No Longer Dislike" list.  First it was mushrooms, then it was cilantro (though, I'm not totally on board with that yet), and now it's radishes.  These watermelon radishes are some of the most beautiful vegetables I've discovered at the farmer's market by my apartment.  On the outside they look kind of like turnips-- bigger than your average red radish with a suggestion of light green and hint of pink on the outside.  Once you cut them open they're nearly the color of beets and their name makes perfect sense.

While I can enjoy radishes raw and simply sliced, I decided these beauties deserved some special treatment.  If you've never pickled anything before, it's extremely easy (and I'm no expert).  This was only my second time pickling (the first was with red onions), but I may try and make it more of a habit because what's not to like about freshly pickled vegetables?  If you're interested in learning more about health-promoting pickling, one of my friends recommended the book Wild FermentationI certainly intend on pick(l)ing up a copy.

Pickled Watermelon Radishes

1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3- 4 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
3-4 watermelon radishes, rinsed and sliced

Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large mason jar, cover with a lid and shake it up until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Alternatively, you can stir them in a non-reactive (glass, ceramic, stainless) bowl. Set aside.

Halve or quarter the radishes and cut into uniform slices.  Pack radishes into your container of choice, cover with the brine and then the lid (I just pack them into the same mason jar the vinegar solution is in so there's virtually no clean-up), and place in the refrigerator.  Let sit at least 3 days before enjoying (although they can be eaten sooner.)

Pickled radishes should last for about a month in the refrigerator and are a great condiment. They can be served as an appetizer, on top of a salad or layered into a sandwich.  

October 16, 2011

An Announcement and a Recipe

First things first, I'm no longer a very good blogger.  Life gets in the way, but I think I'm ok with that and hopefully you are too.  So here's my big(ish) announcement: I've been hired as a Vegan Baker! My fashion industry job ended last Tuesday and this Tuesday I started baking professionally.  I still feel weird saying that because I've never thought of myself as a "professional" anything, let alone a professional baker.  Right now I'm just trying to enjoy the experience, learn a lot and feel it out.  The bakery I'm working at is probably one of the best I could have found for a myriad of reasons that probably wouldn't interest you, so I'll save my fingers some work on this one.

...buuut in case anyone does have questions, ask away! I'm always happy to respond.

So, the recipe.  These Romano beans were at the farmer's market for a few weeks in a row in late September and I loved them.  I prepared them a bunch of times but always played off the same base ingredeints because to me, they just worked.

Sweet and Salty Romano Beans
Base ingredeints:
Oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Onion, diced
Garlic, minced
Romano beans
Good jam/ preserves (I used Harvest Song, Golden Fig)
Nama shoyu, tamari or  regular soy sauce
salt to taste

Other additons:
Balsamic vinegar
Japanese yam, cubed (these taste like a more starchy chestnuts)
Sweet potato, cubed
toasted almonds or cashews, chopped

In a large saucepan, saute onion in the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes until softened.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and continue to saute for another minute or so. 
Add the romano beans and a bit of salt and continue to saute over medium heat.  Once the beans have cooked a bit, add the shoyu and the jam to taste and mix until everything is coated. Continue cooking until beans are cooked to your liking.
Top with toasted nuts if desired.

October 1, 2011

Mexican Squash-sta and How to Make Really Good Black Beans

Most of us know that buying dry beans and cooking them from scratch is better for you, and more cost effective, than always using the canned variety, but I have to admit, it wasn't until recently that I thought they actually tasted better too.  Every time I made beans from scratch, I felt like something was missing.  They were too hard, or fell apart, or tasted just plain bland.

Then I saw Jenna's recipe for Cuban Black Beans and things started to make sense.  My take uses her basic method with some of my own adjustments.  They're definitely the best beans I've ever made.

Although it was difficult not to just stand over the pot enjoying spoonful after spoonful, I held off (for the most part) until I could make a real dinner: Mexican Squash-sta! It's really simple and comes together quickly, but it's also healthy and a nice departure from the norm. 

Really Good Black Beans

1/2 bag dry beans, soaked overnight
~ 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
red pepper flakes (optional)
oregano (optional)

Soak the beans overnight. In the morning, drain the water and set beans aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for about six minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and desired spices and continue cooking for another minute or so.

Add the beans to the onion and garlic mixture and pour in enough water to cover everything by about an inch. Bring beans to a boil then cover (leaving a small crack open). Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

After an hour, check on the beans and give 'em a stir. Return to a simmer and cook another hour or until beans are tender and the cooking liquid is thick. Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Mexican Squash-sta

1/2 a spaghetti squash, cooked and scraped*
1 scoop Really Good Black Beans
1/4 of an avocado, sliced
your favorite salsa
Nutritional yeast, Greek yogurt or cheese, if desired

Put it all in a bowl and enjoy!

*I cut my squash in half, scooped out the seeds, pricked the skin with a fork and filled the hollow part of one side with water.  Then I placed the other half on top and put the whole thing on a plate in the microwave for 6-8 minutes.  Worked perfectly!

September 17, 2011

Coconut Chai Cupcakes

My life has changed a lot since I last posted in August.  Most notably, I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn! Anyone who's ever moved knows that the process will likely take over your life for at least a month.  First it was apartment hunting and viewing, then packing and driving and moving and sweating.  Now it's furniture shopping and cleaning and organizing. 

chai infused coconut milk. mm mmm
I've only been in my apartment for about two weeks and things are slowly coming together.  My walls are freshly painted, my clothes are hung in the closet, I have a bed, a dresser, and an organized shoe collection (!).  I've been cooking a lot (of course), but my meals have been much simpler and much less photogenic.  If you can believe it, I haven't baked a thing yet! I just haven't had the time or energy, but I'm hoping to change that very soon.

For now, I'll leave you with the last thing I baked before I moved out: Coconut Chai Cupcakes for my friend Ashley's birthday.  I used the Chai Cake recipe from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, but modified it by using light coconut milk instead of whole milk, Celestial Seasonings' Sweet Coconut Thai tea for steeping, and changing the spice mixture up a bit.

The cupcakes came out beautifully.  They tasted like fall and had a tender crumb, a light sweetness, and a pleasant spice.  I made my own frosting using coconut oil, coconut flour, a bit of light coconut milk, agave nectar and powdered sugar.  It came out pretty well (and was my first time using coconut oil and flour for frosting), but was nothing to write home about.  The cake is definitely worth it though and just right for this time of year.

I'll leave you with a link to the recipe in case you don't have a copy of Sky High: http://tendercrumb.blogspot.com/2009/04/chai-cake-w-honey-ginger-cream-tcs.html

August 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Pancakes with Quick Stone Fruit Compote

Don't mind the computer in the background, focus on the pancakes
Over the past few weeks I've had a few recipe flops. I'll go into the kitchen with every intention, and expectation, to come out with something blog-worthy, but to no avail. Saturday morning I went into the kitchen with no expectations. I was in the mood to experiment, and didn't look at a single recipe beforehand. Lo and behold something amazing emerged.

Theses pancakes are not only super simple, healthy, and tasty, they're also gluten-free. Woah. They're thick, fluffy, not mushy, and absolutely perfect for topping with coconut oil, maple syrup, almond butter, or this quick stone fruit compote.

I can't wait until next weekend when I have the morning leisure time to make them again, or maybe I'll just have to have pancakes for dinner one night this week.  Worse things have happened.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Pancakes
Serves 1

1 small ripe banana, or 2/3 large banana
1 egg
1 tablespoon buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

coconut oil for cooking

In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until smooth. Beat in the egg. Sift in the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet (this is important, I used my non-non-stick griddle and while my pancakes turned out fine, flipping was very difficult). Once hot, pour the batter into desired size pancakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side (they're ready to flip when air bubbles begin to form and burst).

Quick Stone Fruit Compote

1 peach or nectarine, chopped
1 plum, chopped
1 tablespoon water
3 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods, cracked
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and cook until fruit has softened and water has dissolved into a syrup.

August 7, 2011

Airplane Food

Some kind of vegetable stew with rice and mystery sauce, salad, and fruit
Now that I've shown you some of what I ate while in Turkey, I wanted to touch on one more important food-travel topic: airplane food.  I've never requested a special meal before but it's been awhile since I've traveled on any flight that even offered a meal. Oh, a minuscule pack of pretzels and a drink? Sure that'll be fine for this 5 hour flight (scenes from my trip to California).

The flight to Turkey was 10-11 hours and I was guessing that a vegetarian meal would be much more appealing to me than any Delta Airlines mystery meat, so I decided to request the Vegetarian (non-dariy) option (you can select this online so it's really easy).  The meal on the way there (pictured above) was OK, but non-dairy was a bit of a stretch as there was cheese on the salad.  Aside from that, it was fine but obviously not good.  On the way back, the meal was some sort of bean and vegetable curry with rice-- they actually gave me a piece of cheese with that one.  They also didn't have a vegetarian option available for one of the snacks on the way back so I wasn't given anything.  Really lame.

I'm still glad I chose the Vegetarian option because other people's meals were much less appealing to me, but the moral of the story, which I'm sure anyone with special dietary needs already knows is: bring your own food and snacks.

Salad with green beans, kasar cheese sandwich, and homemade almond cake
Here's the real question: Why is airplane food so much better on non-US airlines?!?  When I went to Japan a few years ago, I flew Japan Airlines and was fed often and well.  This time, I flew to another destination in Turkey aboard Turkish Airlines and was presented with the above.  No, it may not look that much more appealing than what I was given on Delta, but it tasted so much better, and was vegetarian without any special request.  The green beans were delicious, the cheese sandwich was decent, and the almond cake was pretty fabulous-- it tasted real, not like the processed fake-ingredient sweets that are given on US Airlines. 

Does anyone else ever make special requests on airlines? Any exceptionally good or bad experiences to share?  I'll be back with some actual recipe posts soon, it's just taking me a little while to get back in the swing of things.