Kitchen Experiments – Buckwheat Pancakes

Good morning! Sundays are my favorite day for many reasons – but most especially because it is the one morning where I get to sleep in and have a slow start to the day. The cooler fall mornings inspire me to cook a larger breakfast and this morning I felt like pancakes!  Yes, we are still rotating our diet so it could not just be any pancakes, it had to be 100% buckwheat pancakes.  I pulled out my Vitamix so that I could start with grinding my buckwheat groats into flour.  I may have said this before, but I have become very fond of the buckwheat flour that I grind from the raw buckwheat groats.  It is not as strong in smell or flavor as the toasted buckwheat flour, and I like it.  My husband is not a buckwheat fan, but these pancakes went down pretty easily.

I have also become very fond of the buckwheat and almond meal combination in cooking.  It seems to work out really well.  The almond meal cuts the strong flavor of the buckwheat and adds some extra protein.  Here is the recipe that I used:

1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup almond meal
2 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup
salt
4 tablespoons arrowroot flour

1/2 cup water
2 cup almond milk
4 tablespoons almond oil

pancakes

They were quite tasty!  I topped them with bananas and sliced almonds and then drizzled maple syrup all over it!  Now that is what I call a Sunday morning breakfast!

 

 

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Kitchen Experiments – Millet “Pizza” with Greens

Growing up in an Italian household, my Mom would make something that she called polenta pizza.  I am not sure why they called it pizza but it must have something to do with the italian word for pizza because pizza it was not!  It was more like a thick polenta with a delicious crust on the outside and a firm center.  She always made it with minestra which is basically greens and beans.  In recent years she has made it when my uncle would come to visit as a bread substitute since he has celiac and can’t eat wheat or gluten. As a kid, I did not like the greens and beans but I loved the polenta pizza.  We would eat it with maple syrup making it more like a dessert.

Since doing the ALCAT plan, I have not been able to have corn, cornmeal or polenta but I can have millet, which when ground is pretty similar to cornmeal. So I decided to give millet pizza a try.  What I love about this pizza is the crusty exterior!  It is very simple to make and yet versatile and delicious.  My family and I still love it smothered with real maple syrup.

millet pizzaTo make the pizza, you need to have a cast iron skillet.  Well, maybe not need, but I think the crust is best when cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Basically you make a thick polenta or millet by cooking 1 cup ground millet or cornmeal with 2 cups water.  Spray or grease your cast iron skillet with olive oil and then spread the millet or polenta in the skillet and spray or grease the top of the mixture as well.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 35 – 45 minutes, then flip the pizza to crust up the other side. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.  I found the cooking time to be a little less with the millet than with the polenta.  Serve warm!

When I made it the other night for dinner, I sautéed escarole with some sun-dried tomatoes and butternut squash and then added cannellini beans and served it on the side with the millet pizza.  It was delicious.

millet and greensFor dessert we had millet pizza with maple syrup!  It brought back some good childhood memories.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Experiments – Strawberries with Coconut Whipped Cream

Have you been hearing non-stop now about coconut oil, milk and water?  Even coconut flour and sugar have found their way to the shelves! It seems like not long ago when coconut anything was a definite no-no.  Well, not anymore. It seems the more coconut the better!  Actually, when I went to school to get my masters in nutrition at Bastyr University in the 1990’s they were already talking about how good coconut oil was for you, it just took the mainstream community a few more years to catch on.  Basically the fats that are found in coconut are made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which do not get processed the same way that the short or long chain triglycerides do and therefore are able to be used directly for energy.

Well, honestly, the “good for you” part is nice, but I just love the versatility of coconut and of course the taste.  I was looking for a recipe for whipped cream made from something other than heavy cream when I came across this recipe for coconut whipped cream.  It looked so easy so I just had to give it a go!

straw and whipped creamIsn’t it beautiful!  Now, it does not taste like the whipped cream that you know, so don’t expect it to, but boy is the flavor delicious.  The best thing about it is that you need very little sweetener to make it taste good.  It was really the perfect pairing for these strawberries.  I think it will replace regular whipped cream in my house.  I can’t wait to make pumpkin pie!  I will let you know how that turns out!

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight

1-2 Tbs. maple syrup 

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place the coconut milk in the can in the refrigerator and let sit for at least 3 hours, but better overnight.  When removing from the refrigerator, try not to agitate the can. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of white, fatty goodness into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high-speed for 15-20 seconds, just until the mixture turns to liquid. Add the maple syrup slowly (amount depends on how sweet you like it) and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high-speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immediately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. It will harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high-speed until creamy again.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Kitchen Experiments – Buckwheat Applesauce Cake

I had no idea when I started to experiment with recipes for this ALCAT diet how to bake things without eggs. I always imagined that the baked items would not be as light and fluffy as their egg counterparts, but I will admit that I was wrong!  This is the third, fourth or fifth time that I have made this recipe over the past six months and I am thrilled every time I bake it and see it rise to the top of the pan.

The other thing that I am thrilled with is the flavor of buckwheat flour that is freshly ground from raw buckwheat groats.  (I think that I have mentioned in a previous post that I bought a Vitamix machine specifically so that I could grind my grains into flour and I am not sorry that I spent the money.  I love it! When I eat my freshly baked item and I think that I made it all with the freshest ingredients that I could find, it really makes me quite happy!  It’s the small things that do it for me!)

raw groats (Raw Buckwheat Groats)

Buckwheat flour that you buy at the store must be ground from toasted buckwheat because it is very dark in color and has a very distinct flavor.  I tried making 100% buckwheat pancakes with flour from the bag and they had a very strong buckwheat flavor that really did not appeal to me.  It was only when I saw the raw buckwheat groats at Earthlight Natural Foods that I realized there were the raw and the roasted.

Buckwheat is not wheat, nor is it related to wheat nor is it even a grain or a cereal. It is gluten-free and derived from the seeds of a flowering plant so technically I think that you would consider Buckwheat a fruit. This is a great recipe to make in a pan like cornbread or in muffin tins.  It is a very tasty breakfast bread delicious when spread with almond butter.  Enjoy!

buckwheat cake

Buckwheat Applesauce Cake

1 ½ c. Buckwheat Flour (ground white buckwheat)
½ c. Almond Meal
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 Tbs. arrowroot powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
 
1 c. applesauce
¼ c. applebutter
½ c. sweetener (Agave Syrup, Maple Syrup)
1 Tbs. oil
¼ c. water

 Preheat oven to 350oF.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients.  Place wet and dry ingredients in a food processor and process until mixed.  Pour into an oiled 8”x8” square pan.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Spring Time Recipes for the Wood Element

Spring is a time of growth, when the shoots that have been sleeping all winter, begin to awaken. In order for those shoots to survive, they must have within them the ability to bend and stay supple. Any rigidity in the plant will cause the new growth to break off and die. The wood element gives us the flexibility in life to grow, but if we hold on too tightly and become rigid, nothing happens. The liver and the gallbladder are the organs associated with the wood element. We must feed them the right food in order for them to stay in balance. In winter, our food was heavy and warm, in spring we begin to lighten up, and may even fast on occasion to get rid of the excess baggage of winter.

The color of wood is green as I mentioned earlier, the odor is rancid, the sound is shouting, the emotion is anger and the taste or flavor is sour. You may notice in spring, the tendency towards irritation in yourself or in others. Choosing the appropriate foods can help to lighten your moods. There still tends to be a chill in the air during this time of year and it is therefore still appropriate to eat mainly cooked foods. The heavy oils and nuts of winter are replaced with spring greens, sprouts and fresh herbs and spices. Quickly sautéing food or lightly steaming is the preferred method of cooking. Below you will find some recipes to help smooth the liver and aid in your personal spring growth.

Grilled Asparagus and Shitake over Pasta

*Depending on the variety, asparagus can be slightly warming in nature, with a bitter and mildly pungent flavor. It can help to reduce phlegm and mucus, which are often side effects of spring allergies. Shitake mushrooms strengthen, detoxify and restore. Another great addition to the diet if prone to allergies. The addition of the vinegar helps to energize liver meridian and aids in digestion.

1 1/2 Tbs. sesame oil
1 Tbs. fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2-c. shitake mushrooms
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. parsley
1/4 c. pineapple juice
1 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 pound asparagus spears
4 cups cooked pasta

     Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add ginger, pepper, and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes. Add vinegar, tamari, parsley, juice and maple syrup. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Soak the asparagus in mushroom-vinegar for 5-10 minutes. Grill (or broil) the asparagus for 3 minutes. Place on pasta and top off with sauce.

Hummus

*Everyone has his or her own version of hummus. I like mine with lots of lemon and just a tad of garlic. Lemon is perfect for spring – with its sour flavor and acidic nature – it helps to support liver function. Parsley can also help to support the gallbladder by preventing gallstones.

2 c. chick peas
1-2 Tbs. tahini
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1/4 c. cooking liquid from beans or water to desired consistency

     Place cooked chickpeas in food processor or blender with tahini, salt, lemon, garlic, and olive oil; blend until smooth. Add cooking liquid from beans or a little water to get desired consistency. It will store well in the refrigerator for at least one week.

Carrot Salad

*This salad is great as a starter to a meal. The carrots help to smooth the liver and the green apple aids in the cleansing of the liver and gallbladder and can help to soften gallstones.

1 clove garlic, minced                                     3 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. pepper                                                 3 large carrots, coarsely shredded
1 Tbs. lemon juice                                           2 Tbs. olive oil
1 green apple, chopped                                   1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard to dressing

     Combine dressing ingredients.  Add parsley and carrots. Mix well.

Detox Lemonade

*If you are feeling a little congested from the heavy winter foods, try a simple fast or add this detoxifying lemonade into your diet. Remember to lighten up on your foods at the same time for a more beneficial cleanse.

1 lemon, juiced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. maple syrup or small amount of stevia
8 oz. water

            Mix above ingredients together and drink. Use as few or as many glasses per day as you want. Recommended dosage: one glass before each meal.