PASS The BUCK-EYE Candy

BUCKEYE CANDY ~ Healthy treat

Healthy ~ Gluten Free and Vegan
My friend surprised me with some great chocolate the other day and I decided to make a favorite confectionery of mine – buckeye candy. With only cashews in the pantry,  I thought about cashews instead of the traditional peanuts.  Although about 2% of the population will have an allergic reaction to peanuts, they may or may not be allergic to other nuts. Remember, a cashew is a tree nut not a ground nut –  like the peanut.
BUCKEYE STORY
Why “BUCKEYE”?  Buckeye candy  is named after the shiny, dark nuts from the Buckeye Tree – the official state tree for Ohio. The Ohio General Assembly made its declaration in 1952 that “BUCKEYE BALLS” were officially the state’s candy since they  resembled the nut of the state tree of OHIO. Not to be confused with chestnuts. Although they look similar.  You can not eat a buckeye nut because it’s poisonous. But,  you can eat the confectionery version.  You’ll find  buckeye balls at Ohio’s college football games : Ohio State Buckeyes.   The other good news is that chocolate is known to release endorphins, so that may help reduce heart rates during a football game.
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CHOCOLATE COCONUT CASHEW BALLS (aka BUCKEYE’S)
~ Gluten Free ~

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup (8 pieces) Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp. sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place cashews in a food processor and run on high until smooth, like peanut butter. This can take about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all of the other ingredients and process on high until well combined.
  3. Roll batter into small balls and dip into melted chocolate until almost but not completely covered. To do this, pierce the ball with a tooth pick and dip in the chocolate. Place on parchment and allow to set hard.





DID YOU KNOW? This recipe is free of: Milk, Peanut, Egg, Soy, Gluten, Wheat, Fish, Shellfish and Sesame. Let’s not forget the   six healthy benefits of chocolate. Dark chocolate is also free of the eight most common allergens. FOOD TIP:  You can use sunflower seeds as a substitute for the cashews. Sunflower seeds are very tasty.  Grated fresh ginger is a good substitute for turmeric for adults. Children are sensitive to strong spices.  You can leave out the turmeric for your kids.  Instead of turmeric substitute different flavours or spices. Take a tablespoon of the mixture ( without the turmeric ) and add some flavours ( e.g. coconut, butter extract) or spices (e.g. cinnamon, coriander ) ~  to see if you like it.  Experiment with it.
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VARIATIONS
Since EASTER is upon us, shape your cashew balls like an egg. Dip the egg shape in the chocolate. After cooling,  wrap the egg with coloured foil. METHOD: The egg shape is punctured with a toothpick on one end ~ dipped ~ then –>stick into a piece of potato or styrofoam on the other end to hold up the egg while hardening.   You can always sparsely sprinkle coarse salt on the dipped chocolate for added zip. Another final dip -> into chia seeds (optional). The eyes on the candy “faces” (pictured below) are made by  dipping  3 toothpicks (held together) into white chocolate and applying the drops on the ball. (or use sugar free white tic tacs). Do the same with one tooth pick dipped in dark chocolate for the brown dot inside the eye.  Test on a paper towel to get the right amount.   HALLOWEEN: Pretzel bits make great spider legs for added Halloween fun. You can make your buckeyes fit any season.

Photo courtesy of the purple almond.

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Forbidden Black Rice Salad

Black Rice was once “only” enjoyed by the Emperor and his royal court. It was forbidden for the commoners to eat this exquisite black rice. The tender, nutty flavoured rice is presumed to enrich one’s life and promote longevity.rice3 After I brought my chilled rice salad to the office,  I noticed that all the staff made it the following week!  It travels well and is a great picnic salad.  A refreshing change from your typical summer salads.
I researched and tried out several versions but this recipe from the Bon Appétit June 2012 needs no improvement. black rice salad photo provided by Jason Lowe, Bon Appétit

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BLACK RICE SALAD – WITH MANGO AND NUTS
INGREDIENTS
2 oranges
1/4 cup or more fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 cups black rice
Kosher salt
2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″dice
1 cup finely fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or unsalted cashews or other nuts
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
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INSTRUCTIONS
1 ) Remove peel and white pith from oranges.
2 ) Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bow to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.
3 ) Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend.
4 ) Set dressing aside.
5 ) Bring rice and 2 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.
6 ) Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing and season lightly with salt; let cool.
7 ) Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine.
8 ) Season lightly with salt and more lime juice if desired.
Serves: 6–8

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
While whole grain brown rice and red rice also contain beneficial antioxidants; only black rice contains special variety of antioxidants known as anthocyanin antioxidants. (Thus the dark purple colour -like blueberries)  Additionally, black rice also contains an important antioxidant – Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health in addition to other important functions. Forbidden Black Rice contains 18 amino acids (same as Aloe Vera), iron, zinc, copper, carotene, and fiber. Mangos are #1 ~ the most popular fruit in the world.

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Emperor’s Dining Room

In ancient times, Emperors reserved this wonderful black rice for their own consumption because it was thought that it would extend their lives. Black rice does provide many health benefits that the western world is now embracing with gusto.  It helps fight against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes with high amount of flavanoid phytonutrients and protects heart health (plaque formation). Herbalists use black rice as a prevention and treatment for ailments and as a blood tonifier. 

Black Rice was also considered to be somewhat of an aphrodisiac at one time.  I suspect the Emperors down throughout the ages shared their black rice stock with their consorts or concubines.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Rice.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Black Rice. photo provided by Spikenard and Myrrh

Black Rice is surely ‘one of the’… if not ‘the most’ special variety of rice that is cultivated today. Its special, near medicinal values is truly stunning, even today with all of our medical knowledge and tools. Every time you sit down to enjoy a few servings of this awesome super food, you can remind yourself that you are eating something that was once reserved for royalty. If a commoner was caught eating this rice it was “off with their heads”.

VARIATIONS
If you are trying to find something else to do with your avocados, my friend Monique from Ambitious Kitchen added avocado to her black rice salad. It is a nice touch and goes well. Instead of unsalted peanuts (Bon Appétit version), I used cashews while Monique added almonds to her salad. If you have the time and patience, roasted pecans would be wonderful too.
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Another gluten-free recipe that is filled with flavour , colour and the YUM-Factor!

kids32BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH!
A light touch: For milder flavour, use leeks instead of red onion and yellow or red bell peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Forget the nuts (allergies)  if you like.  Substitute other herbs for the cilantro. e.g. parsley, basil, fresh mint, fresh-soft rosemary (my favorite) or even peppery rocket lettuce. Know what your kids like to eat. I would even test out fresh oregano in this ‘forbidden’ black rice salad.  COLLEGE KIDS: Add a smidgen of fresh pressed garlic ~ to boost the immune system.  If it is not fresh I would not use the herbs. The dried herbs taste different. They have flavour, but are better suited in baking and cooking.

Y-U-M-M      Y-U-M-M-M!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Flavour! (easy recipe)

There is  a wonderful supply of beautiful squashes, pumpkins and other  gourds available now.  Every upscale restaurant seems to have butternut squash soup on their menu.  I started experimenting with different flavours for my squash soup and liked the slight bite when I added lemongrass and ginger.  Not to mention the health benefits!  I added an apple to give this soup a lightness. And, it can easily be served before a main course without feeling too full.  It is especially good with homemade crackers (see instructions below).
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INGREDIENTS
butternut-squash-soup-ingredients4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
a 2 1/2 lb. squash,   peeled  and cubed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large apple peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger  (divided)
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
Salt and pepper to taste
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add onions and carrots. Cook stirring until tender and the onions translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the squash, celery, and apple and cook another 5 minutes. Add the ancho chile, 1 tablespoon of ginger, lemongrass and  pinch of salt and stir into the mixture.
3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Then ~ Reduce heat, cover and simmer another 45 minutes.
4. Add the final tablespoon of the ginger for that extra “bite” of flavour. (optional)
Puree the soup using an immersion blender right in the pot. Or, blend in batches, using a blender or food processor.
~ Add salt and pepper to taste.~
Note: If you are serving this soup to children, then you may want to leave out the “spicy” ginger.
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EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT EVERY TYPE OF SQUASH
Butternut, acorn , spaghetti, delicata and kabocha squash all belong to the winter squash family though most start to pop up at grocery store and farmer’s markets in the early fall.  Edible pumpkins also belong to this group, along with less familiar squash varieties like hubbard, turban, sweet dumpling, banana and buttercup. While each squash has its own unique taste and texture, these are versatile vegetable.  Most can be used interchangeable and they can be baked, roasted, steamed, sauteed or microwaved.   When shopping for squash, look for squash that’s firm and heavy for its size.  You may be able to buy squash that’s already peeled and cut up.  This will be more expensive than whole squash but can be a real time saver.

Shop for pumpkins grown for eating rather than carving.  These include sugar pumpkins, pie pumpkins, sweet pumpkins, cheese pumpkins and heirloom varieties.  Store winter squash in the refrigerator or in a cool dry place.  They will keep for weeks or a month or longer.

ACORN and delicata squash have edible skin and indeed much of the nutrients are just under the skin so it is advantageous to eat the skin.  Butternut squash can be peeled with a vegetable peeler. Squash with harder skin should be cooked as is and the flesh scooped out later.
SQUASH SEEDS can be scooped out before cooking and most are edible as well as nutritious.  Rinse the seeds, pat them dry and bake them with salt and olive oil at 300F (150C),  stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.  When you think of a seed having the power to grow a plant,  think of the nutrition value they can impart.

PASTA REPLACEMENT: After spaghetti squash is cooked it’s flesh can be pulled out in spaghetti-like strands. This is a wonderful no carb gluten free replacement for pasta as well as a good vegetarian filling for tacos and other dishes.
didyouknowGinger helps to reduce nausea from many causes; pregnancy, postoperative nausea and more. Ginger reduces inflammation and possibly lessen arthritis pain.  Some studies have shown that ginger was more effective that the over-the-counter drug Dramamine for treating motion sickness!

Ginger extract has been used by osteoarthritis patients to relieve pain.

 

“TASTY” GOURMET CRACKERS
I have admired the appearance and flavour of those lovely crackers on the restaurant tables.  You can buy them for a pricey sum at gourmet food shops. I decided to make my own GOURMET CRACKERS and used tortilla wrappers as well as pita bread. You can get rice tortillas at a whole foods store. Other options are whole wheat, spinach flavoured or other flavoured wraps.
DO IT YOURSELF (DIY): Slice the wraps with a knife as pictured below. Brush the wraps with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, steak seasoning, or salt, herbs (fresh or dried) and/or spices and baked at 375F for 10 minutes, these are yummy crackers for soups, dips or snacking!   Your kids will love them too!

Tortillas, pita bread, black and white sesame seeds, steak seasoning, olive oil

1. Tortillas, pita bread, black and white sesame seeds, steak seasoning, olive oil

slice into wedges

2. Slice into wedges

Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, herbs, salt or seasoning

3. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, herbs, salt or seasoning

bake at 375F for 10 minutes

4. bake at 375F for 10 minutes

 

Serve with soup, dips, snacks for just pennies a piece! Yum!

Serve with soup, dips, snacks for just pennies a piece! Yum!

Pear Almond Tart Recipe (Gluten Free)

The soft, sweet pear makes this Fall fruit perfect for enjoying fresh or for using in healthy recipes like a “Pear Almond Tart”. Pears are harvested and plentiful this time of year. Bonus: A gluten free dessert!
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INGREDIENTSIMG_1226

6 pears
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1 cup ground almonds
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar substitute plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
pinch of salt
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Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 9 inch ring mold or removable bottom tart shell.
2. Peel, half and core pears and toss in ginger and 1 tablespoon sugar substitute.
3. Toast the ground almonds lightly  for 10 minutes on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment.   Let this cool slightly.
4.  Mix almonds, eggs, sugar substitute, almond extract, vanilla extract, grated ginger, pinch salt  in a food processor or blender.
5. Lay pear halves in the ring mold and pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
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didyouknowDID YOU KNOW: In the Odyssey, Homer called the pear a “gift from the Gods.”  Pears are a member of the rose (Rosaceae) family of plants. High fiber pears help protect us from the development of —> type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stomach cancer. Pears have been linked to prevention of osteoporosis since Boron (in pears) aides in retaining calcium in your bones.  When you need an energy boost, have a pear or a slice of “Pear Almond Tart” instead of a candy bar. It works!

Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust ~ Healthy Back to School Snack!

kids32 Your hungry kids need a snack when they come home from school.  Surprise them with gluten free CAULIFLOWER CRUSTED PIZZA!  I tested a few variations for a cauliflower pizza in my foody lab (kitchen).  In one version, I used ground almonds in the crust. It had a  grainy consistency. Perfect for a base as an appetizer or an hors d’oeuvres. Thumbs down for a kid’s pizza.  In another version, I combined eggs and cauliflower plus my magic flavorings. My friend’s kids eyebrows  went up on the first bite. Mikey likes it! A home run!

Here is the healthy,  yummy RECIPE
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pizza456INGREDIENTS
1 cauliflower medium head about 2 lbs.
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets and place in your food processor along with the garlic cloves. Pulse until fine, like rice.
3. Place cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out all liquid until very dry.
4. Place the cauliflower in a clean bowl and combine with mozzarella,  Parmesan cheese,  eggs, thyme, oregano, pepper and salt.
5. Place the cauliflower mix on a pizza pan (or baking sheet) lined with parchment and spread evenly with fingers or a rolling pin.
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6. Bake in the oven until the crust is crisp and the edges are golden, about 25-30 minutes.
7. Allow the cauliflower to cool slightly while you assemble the toppings.
8. Add your favourite sauce and toppings. I used my baked tomato sauce  as a topping.

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9. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly; about 15-20 minutes longer.

pizza_hamI left the kitchen and came back to take a picture of a slice and the pizza was all gone!  The kids said the pizza monster was here .  I enlarged part of the whole pizza to show you the added ham -for all you Carnevours. This veggie+(ham) powered pizza needs to make its way into your kitchen. Kids learn about gluten and grains from school. They may look forward to a gluten-free pizza. Today’s food buzz is “cauliflower” crusted pizza. Even though it has been around for a few years, there are still some people that have never heard of it.   What’s neat is that it doesn’t taste like cauliflower.
HAT2FOOD TIP: Place a piece of parchment on top of the cauliflower mix and move a rolling pin over it. This will give you and even crust guided by the edges of the pizza pan. Make this crust in advance and refrigerate (up to 4 days). You can add the sauce and toppings later on.  Use Asiago cheese in place of the mozzarella. Toppings:  Add prosciutto,  crushed red pepper flakes and basil (my favourite). YUM!

How do you fit parchment into a circular pan?                                                                                          First measure the diameter of the pan. Fold the parchment several times like you did when making a snowflake cut out in school and then cut to half the diameter of the pan.  The parchment will now fit your  pizza or cake pan.

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