Kitchen Experiments – Beans for Dessert?

Flourless Coconut Great Northern Bean Blondies

It seems like these days I am continually searching for new recipes and especially things made without flour.  Anita and I have been on our low grain and fruit diet now for over a month and we are sick of what we are eating.  We keep looking for different ways to cook with nuts and beans.  Someone gave Anita a recipe for Almond Blondies, which you make with almond butter, and it peaked my interest so I decided to make them.  I did not have the recipe however, so I did what everyone else does when they need a recipe, I put it in Google search.  Wow, I am always surprised by the number of recipes that pop up no matter what you are searching for.  I found the almond blondie recipe but this recipe caught my eye as well:

Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies with Sea Salt.

I couldn’t resist the urge to click on that link and I was so glad that I did.  Beans for dessert?  You bet!

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I made the recipe and then got to thinking …what other bean nut combinations could I make? One of my favorite things that I have been making involves pecans and coconut.  I like those two things together so why not a pecan coconut blondie.  As many of you already know, when we started the ALCAT diet we also started a rotation diet, meaning that we try to only eat the same foods about every 4 days.  So, it was easy to decide which bean I wanted to use because on my pecan and coconut day I also eat white beans.  Now, there are many different white beans and any of them would work well.  I used Great Northern beans, but you could use navy, cannelini or a small white bean. I added an egg to the batter to make it more cake like, but it can be made without the egg or made with an egg substitute.  My new favorite substitution is 1 tablespoon chia seeds plus 3 tablespoons of water.  Stir and let sit until thickened.

Here is the recipe that I followed:

1 can (15oz.) Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Pecan Butter (I made my own in the Vitamix)
1/3 cup Coconut Nectar (you could use maple syrup or honey)
1 egg (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup Coconut Chips (you could use flakes)
 
~Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray.
IMG_0967                                                                                                             (GROUND PECANS)
~In a food processor (again I used my Vitamix), add all ingredients except the coconut and process until batter is smooth. Fold in coconut (I added the coconut to the vitamix and then just pulsed it 2-3 times). Batter will be super thick.
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~Spread batter evenly in prepared pan with a spatula.  It may be easier to spread with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray or dipped in water.
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~Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown.  The batter may look underdone but you don’t want them to dry out.
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 Adding the beans to the recipe give the bars a really creamy texture.  To me it almost has the texture of a cheesecake.  It has got me thinking … do you think you could make a cheese cake using beans?  I will keep you posted!

Kitchen Experiment – Lentil Loaf with Zucchini Latkes

I love it when you forget about something that you used to cook all the time and it suddenly pops into your head again! That is what happened the other night. We are still doing a 4 day rotation for the ALCAT diet and it was lentil night. Suddenly, lentil loaf popped into my head! I used to make it all of the time and it works for day 2 of my rotation. It is so easy to make and you can vary it depending upon which vegetables you have on hand. On our diet, day 2 is celery, scallions, and beet greens – so that is what I used. Prior to the diet I may have added onions or carrots and often spinach. I am not good at measuring so it is a recipe that you just have to eye. I used 1 cup of dry lentils and cooked them with 2 cups of water, oregano and a bay leaf. I often would could the vegetables right in with the lentils but I was running behind so I quickly threw the lentils in the pot and while they were cooking, sautéed the scallions, celery and beet greens in a separate pan. Once the lentils were cooked, I combined the lentils and vegetables in a large bowl and added rolled oats, 2 eggs, grated almond cheese and salt and pepper. I mix it all together and cooked it in my cast iron skillet. Usually, as the name implies, I would have cooked it in a bread pan, but I was in a rush and wanted it to cook a little faster. I placed it in a preheated 375 degree oven and baked it for about 30 minutes. In a loaf pan it probably would have taken about 45 minutes.

While that was cooking in the oven, I moved onto the zucchini latkes. I shredded 1 potato and 2 small zucchini and added them to a small colander. I added a little salt and let them sit for about 15 minutes. I squeezed out as much of the liquid as I could and then placed them in a bowl. I added 2 tablespoons of oat flour, 3 tablespoons of oat bran, along with salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 2 eggs. I mixed it all together and heated my skillet over medium heat. I dropped the batter by the spoonfuls and cooked them for about 8-10 minutes, flipping them after about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, I quickly sautéed some shiitake mushrooms in a pan with some olive oil and added a little tamari for salt. I had a gravy in the freezer that I had defrosted and added to the shiitake mushrooms. And there was dinner!

lentil loaf Lentil Loaf with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

latkes Zucchini Latkes

lentil and latkesDinner!

It was quite tasty! Until next time … Good Eating!

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!

 

 

Kitchen Experiments – Fish Tacos

Every night seems like an adventure in our kitchen since we started the ALCAT diet.  We are doing a 4 day rotation diet and some of the days are easier than others.  Day 3 is my least favorite and most difficult when it comes to snacking.  Day 4 has also been a bit of a challenge as well though I can always fall back on hummus and falafel.  Actually, day 4 has become easier ever since we found Humbles Hummus Chips.

humbleshumbles chipsThey are really delicious and are great dipped in hummus.  If you have not tried them yet, I strongly urge you to buy a bag and dig in.  Anyway, back to my day 4 dilemma in the kitchen.  I am always looking for something new to make.  I recently posted about the buckwheat crepes that I made. They were pretty easy and delicious.  I had eaten them stuffed with hummus and lettuce and thought there must be more that I can do with them.

When I lived in Seattle, there was this very authentic mexican restaurant that made fish burritos.  They were the best.  I decided to give it a try.  The burritos in Seattle were mainly fish and cabbage so I thought about this great summer salad that I make with cabbage, mint and lemon.

cabbage saladI embellished it a little bit with carrots but it is still a very refreshing and an “eye” appealing salad for any occasion!

Green Cabbage and Mint Salad

1 Small green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 Small carrot, grated
8 Fresh mint Leaves, chopped (dried is ok, fresh is better)
4 Tbs. lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed but bottled is ok)
2 Tbs. Olive oil
Salt to taste

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, and mint.  In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss.  Chill for several hours before serving.

I decided a nice light white fish would probably work best so I baked up some haddock with a little lemon and then assembled my fish taco…

fish taco

It was that simple.  You could easily substitute tofu, tempeh or even seitan for the fish and I think it would be just as delicious.  It was a nice diversion from our usual hummus and falafel.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Experiments – No Bake Nut Butter Cookies

So I was thinking one day about cookies.  What kind of cookie could I make on day 3 of my rotation diet when there are no eggs and the grain is millet?  Sometimes this Alcat diet presents some very critical problems!  Well, somehow I remembered that I had a recipe somewhere for some no-bake cookies, so I decided to take a look.

The recipe looked interesting but of course I could not have all of the ingredients that it called for so it was time to experiment.  Basically the no bake recipe included peanut butter, sugar and oats mixed together and then rolled into balls.  So, what could I do if I had millet instead of oats?

chocolate ballsI decided that I needed to have a nut butter cookie that included chocolate, so my first attempt was peanut butter, agave syrup, cocoa, puffed millet and shredded coconut.  They were very good but the texture was a little strange with the puffed millet.  I liked them but I forgot to write down how I made them.  Well, time for another try.

The coconut in the recipe inspired me to have a nut-butter cookie with cocoa and coconut.  This was a winner!

nut ballsPeanut butter was good, but I recently was able to add back in pistachios and cashews – so I pulled out the Vitamix and made some cashew-pistachio butter.  Yummy!  That is a good combination! I decided that the texture of the millet was too weird and instead just used the coconut.  I rolled them into balls and then rolled them in extra coconut.  You have got to try these.  They are so simple, but they are delicious! Here is the recipe:

2/3 c. nut butter

1/2 c. agave syrup

1/2 c. cocoa

1/2 c. coconut + extra for coating the outside of the balls

I mixed the nut butter with the syrup first, then added the cocoa and mixed it thoroughly.  I then added the coconut.  Roll them into balls and then roll the balls in the extra coconut.  Done!  Takes about 10 minutes and it makes about 25 balls depending on how large you make them.

Try them!  Use any nut butter you have on hand and substitute any liquid sugar you like, maple, brown rice, or even barley syrup.  Roll away and you will not be sorry!  A healthy snack to have at anytime!

Kitchen Experiment – Brown Rice Crispy Treats

When I went to school for my masters in nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, I had a great teacher for the class “Cooking with Whole Foods.” It was probably my favorite class out of all the classes that I took because we actually cooked in the class.  It was in this class that I finally learned how to hold a knife to chop vegetables.  It is also where I first had the inspiration to try new recipes and to makeup new ones based on the food I found in the kitchen.  Cynthia Lair was the teacher and when we graduated she published her first cookbook called “Feeding the Whole Family.”  This was and still is one of my most used cookbooks on the shelf.  What I love about this cookbook is that all of the recipes are simple but delicious.

One of these recipes is just what I was looking for when I had a hankering for something sweet. It is not always easy to use an existing recipe because of the limitations of our current rotation diet which is based upon the ALCAT results from our food intolerance testing.  Luckily, I remembered this recipe from Cynthia Lair’s cookbook and couldn’t wait to adapt it to my needs.

rice crispy treats

Brown Rice Crispy Treats.  This is the healthy version of rice crispy treats made without the marshmallows and refined sugar and instead uses brown rice syrup, nut butter and a little oil.  You can add what you like to the recipe to suit your needs and taste.  For my recipe, I substituted sunflower oil for the sesame oil, I used hazelnut and sunflower seed butter that I made in my Vitamix and added sunflower seeds, raisins and cranberries.  These treats are just sweet enough and really hit the spot.

Check out the recipe at the link above and if you are looking for a great cookbook, check out “Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair!

Kitchen Experiments – Stuffed Zucchini

It was millet day again on the Alcat Rotation Diet and I was once again trying to find something new to make.  Millet day also includes zucchini, butternut squash and cannelini beans.  I thought about what I could do differently and then I remembered seeing a recipe in a magazine once of stuffed zucchini made with the whole scooped out zucchini instead of the typical halved and scooped out zucchini.  I thought I should give it a try.

For ease sake, I cut the zucchini into 3 pieces and then used a melon baller to scoop out the flesh.  I put the zucchini in a pan with some coconut oil and cooked it over medium heat.  I added some thyme and some frozen butternut squash cubes and let it cook until the zucchini was soft.  I added the cannelini beans at the end and also cooked leftover millet.  Basically, I made a stuffing using the vegetables and millet.

I placed the zucchini open side up in an 8″x8″ pan that I sprayed with oil. I stuffed the zucchini with the millet stuffing mixture and covered the pan with foil.  I baked it in the oven at 375°F for 30 minutes.

stuffed zucchini I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a very tasty dish and that it froze really well.  I just had leftovers last night for dinner and it was just as good the second time around.  I will be putting this on the menu for this summer when I have an abundance of zucchini growing in my garden!

Eat well!

Kitchen Experiments – Pumpkin Pie

Well, maybe calling it a pumpkin pie is a little bit of a stretch. Could we call it a pumpkin crisp since it only had a topping and not a bottom crust?

So once again a typical recipe for pumpkin pie/crisp could not be followed since the Alcat diet plan has us following a 4-day rotation diet.  I am really becoming quite accustomed to substituting ingredients or to just winging it and seeing what happens.  Well, like any good experiment – some work and some don’t!

pumpkin pieIt doesn’t look so bad right?  Actually the taste was pretty good, but honestly the texture was a little funky.  What went wrong?  Well, I will admit that I was in a rush and being lazy and I didn’t want to wash my vitamix, so I mixed it by hand in a bowl. I used some frozen pumpkin that I had cooked up at the end of the fall season and you can really see the difference – look how bright orange the color is in the filling!  When I froze it, I only scraped it out of the shell and did not puree it, so it was not very smooth.  Secondly, I can only eat egg yolks and not egg whites so I used the egg yolks but did not put in an egg white substitute.  I think the filling just did not bind up as well as it would have if I would have added some arrowroot flour to replace the egg white.  I used oat milk and sugar and spices and the filling was tasty if not perfect.

The topping was great!  I left a little of the pumpkin mixture in the bowl for some moisture and then added gluten-free oats, gluten-free oat flour, sugar, spices and a little olive oil and made a crumble.  I put that on top of the pumpkin puree and voila,  Pumpkin crisp! Maybe not perfect, but certainly delicious!

Kitchen Experiments – Nut Butter

I love nuts! I love nut butters! I love how easy it is to make any kind of nut butter using my new Vitamix! With the Alcat diet plan that we have been following now for almost 3 months, it is recommended that you follow a 4 day rotation diet plus eliminate all food intolerances that were found through the Alcat blood test. The idea behind a rotation diet is that the body can become over-sensitized to certain food components if it has to deal with them constantly, which is possibly how the intolerances developed in the first place.  In order to avoid creating any new intolerances and to allow the gut to heal, the rotation diet is prescribed.  This allows the body to metabolize the “safe” foods only infrequently making it less likely that the body will develop new intolerances to them.

So back to the nut butters!  Each day of the rotation diet allows for 2-3 different nuts and seeds.  While it is easy to find peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter, it is not so easy to find walnut and hazelnut butter or macadamia and pumpkin seed butter.  Actually, the best thing about making nut butters is that the combinations are endless!

nutbutterThis is my new favorite – macadamia and pumpkin seed butter.  Oh it is so delicious!  And so easy to make in the Vitamix!  I have a Champion Juicer that I have used for years to make different nut butters, but honestly, using the vitamix was so much easier.  I did not have to feed the nuts into the top of the juicer in small batches and wait for the juicer to grind them.  Instead, a stuck all the nuts and seeds in the vitamix, turned it on, and voila!  Nut butter!  What fun! Mmmm, I think that nut butter is calling my name right now!