Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gluten Free Goodness

Gluten free. What thoughts just came to mind? A sad life lacking goodness like sandwiches, pizza, cupcakes, cookies, bread stuffing, beer, crackers, phyllo pastry, pasta, bike rides with baguettes sticking out of your basket to accompany the wine and cheese? Yeah, I know, those were my initial thoughts too. But rest assured, it's not that bad.

My detox began about 6 weeks before Christmas. I was missing all things crunchy, that didn't come in the form of a veggie stick. Some of you may be surprised that I, the girl that used to buy a party sized veggie tray to enjoy for dinner and lunch the next day, got sick of veggie sticks. I did. So I requested a dehydrator from my dad for Christmas. And the Burns Clan, including Grampy, were introduced to kale chips on boxing day. I've since experimented a bit, and upon attempting sweet potato chips, realized that I needed a mandolin to get nice, thin slices.

Mandoline experiment #1, Apple Chips. I sliced up a gala apple and sprinkled it with cinnamon, then dehydrated. Holay yum, batman! I love simple, delicious stuff. I bought the Oxo Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, I figured this hand-held bad boy would be sufficient for my current needs, though I'm not entirely satisfied with it. It may be that I'm not applying the right pressure, but one end of the fruit/veggie is always thinner than the other. I will continue trying this out:

My friend T introduced me to Elana's Pantry recently. She's gluten-free and comes up with really interesting and tasty combos. When I saw her recipe for Spicy Power Bars, which include cardamom, I had to try. I halved the recipe as my food processor is tiny, then read later that she had made an error in measurements and her amounts were actually halved. So we'll call mine Single Girl Power bars. Cardamom is one of the best ideas ever. Make these!

The most expensive cookies you'll ever make.

Doing a detox before/during the Christmas holidays is either a really good, or really bad idea. Your colleagues bring in amazing homemade treats to share, Starbucks has delightful looking cookies that you see every time you go in to get your green tea, there are giant displays of comforting goodness in every shop you go to. It's tough. If your willpower is strong and you manage to make it through the holidays, you will find that you did not gain the 10lbs that you tend to every year. You'll spend a lot less time in a food coma, and not feel obliged to try and shed that excess weight/bloat.

I complained about wanting nothing but a festive cookie, and one of my yogi friends gave me this recipe:

It was my first try baking with ingredients like stevia, coconut oil and arrowroot flour. It wasn't that much different, other than the price. These are definitely the most expensive cookies I've ever made. I didn't make the icing either.

The texture was very similar to a sugar cookie, with a hint of coconut. They'd probably satisfy your holiday sweet tooth if you also made the icing, but without it they're a tasty everyday cookie that isn't too sweet. Bearly lovely cookies. Hardy - har!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Dear Friends,

You may remember from many a previous post that I was not a fan of chocolate. It made me thirsty. Well, once I started detoxing, I wanted chocolate. That insatiable craving that I've heard other people describing so many times with a crazy look in their eyes. I asked my naturopath about this, and she explained that we don't have many bitter flavours in our diets, and since I had given up coffee I no longer had anything to satisfy that bitter craving. In with the chocolate. Since I was also off of dairy, soy, gluten and sugar, my options were limited, but I managed to find a bar that met the requirements at the local hippy grocery store.

Since my options have opened up, I've been exploring different chocolate avenues. My friend P gave me the recipe for, are you ready?

Black Bean Brownies!! Crazy, I thought. I must try them. Try them I did. Drooled over them I did. Making another batch right now I am:

1 can of rinsed black beans (19 oz.) (this is 2 cups if you're using black beans that you've prepared because you also don't want to spend $4.19 on a can with a BPA free liner and haven't done the measurement before)
3 eggs
½ cup of unsweetened cocoa (important to remember this!) <- this is a note that P included, she is pregnant and forgot the cocoa
½ cup of butter or coconut oil (I used coconut oil, that stuff is expensive)
¾ cup of sucanat
½ cup of chopped dark chocolate or chips
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2/3 of walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Add all ingredients, except walnuts, to a food processor to puree
3. Add brownie batter to pre-greased 8x8 pan
4. Bake for approx. 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (I had to bake them for 45 minutes)

Saturday, January 7, 2012


There are no actual nuts in this recipe. It's for Butternut Coconut Rice. I wrote about the single girl's butternut squash in my last post. A girl can really get a few meals out of 1 regular sized butternut squash. T lent me a cookbook while she's away, Appetite for Reduction. It's all vegan recipes, and where this came from.

It suggested toasting some shredded coconut for texture if you have time. I decided to try this out, it's pretty easy, 6 tbsps of shredded coconut into a dry pan at low heat. I suggest 3 if you have an electric stove. After 10 minutes at 2, nothing was happening.

This is how much butternut squash I had leftover from the other day, I pureed it with my hand blender.

Since that was ready, the other stuff needed to go into a pan with olive oil:

- 1 cup minced onion (let soften for 5 minutes before added the other stuff)
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Let all of that get flavourful, then add:

- the butternut squash
- 3/4 cup coconut milk (from the carton, not the can!)
- 1/4 cup veggie stock (or a little more for a creamier consistency)

Only while I was on my detox did I learn that there is MSG in bouillon cubes. I had been using these bouillon cubes in most of my soups where I didn't make the broth myself. I also used them in paella. My best friend also uses them. I've since switched, getting the organic stuff sans MSG.

Once your butternut coconut is ready, add it to your prepared brown rice. Yummmm. It's really gingery, delicious and somewhat curry-like.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Single Girl's Butternut Squash

Happy New Year!

I was a tad busy in the fall, work got really busy, I was teaching 3 yoga classes a week, and took a class at Carleton. The list of things that didn't go out the window is much shorter than what did. I still walked my dog. I still showered.

Now, with some free time, I'm inspired to cook!

If you're an Ottawa dweller, you're probably familiar with the delights of Bridgehead. I'm in love with their ginger lemongrass tea. I suggest getting an extra large. Everyday. They also have tasty things for lunch, like a quinoa butternut squash salad, which I decided to re-create:

Roasted butternut squash, cubed

For the dressing, I found one in a cookbook that my mum got me for Christmas:

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
half a red chili, chopped

Shake it up and pour onto your salad.

It was similar to the Bridgehead salad in that it had similar base ingredients, minus feta (feta is the only cheese I don't like). The dressing really made it it's own, sweet, garlicky, with a bit of kick. It's refreshing and flavourful, not too light for a day when it's -15 outside!

In addition to the cookbook I got for Christmas, I found a copy of a Moosewood Cookbook for $12.50. I tried a Chilean Squash casserole:

4 cups cooked butternut squash, puréed (thanks for the tip on making accents, M)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tsp salt
2 small bell peppers, chopped (I used one red, one yellow)
5 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper and cayenne to taste (I used a lot of cayenne, using more of the stuff is one of my new years resolutions)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried coriander
1 tsp chili powder

Mix all of that jazz together, and put in a 9x9 pan, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Not the most appetizing photo since it's the day after, but it's absolutely delicious. Spicy, the combo of peppers and squash is delicious, and to top if off with cheese, mMmMmM!

Two recipes with butternut squash? That's what happens when you're cooking for one and have an entire squash to eat up. So finally, I give you The Single Girl's Butternut Squash, not even three apples high:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Changes in Foodsies

In my last post about a month ago I wrote about the deliciousness that is chili, and one of my favourite subjects - man vegetables. What I didn't mention was that I was a week into a hypoallergenic diet. Making that chili and having no more than a taste to make sure that it was good was kind of tough, serving 8 different types of chili the next day was a little more so. My chili came in third place if you were wondering :)

I started the hypoallergenic diet as I started to see a naturopathic doctor about why my low iron stores. Her approach was to take out all of the foods that people are typical sensitive to, and then reintroduce them to see how my body responds. I also had tests done for gluten intolerance before I cut everything out, the results were negative.

If you've ever done something like this, you know it's hard. If you had to cut out soya products, you know that soya is in everything. It's tough to eat out because of sauces, marinades, certain veggies, breaded products, etc. and you sound like Meg Ryan ordering her coffee in You've Got Mail - but with everything.

My diet for 4 weeks mainly consisted of:

- kale - in curries, as chips, as salads
- garbanzo beans - soaked and cooked by yours truly to avoid tinned foods (garbanzo beans smelllll!) - good for curries, in salads, as hummus
- black beans - I only did this once, as a dip
- coconut milk - good for curries, good for smoothies, good to make brown rice pudding for breakfast
- brown rice and quinoa
- apples
- veggie plates (I love veggie plates, but I learned that there is a limit)
- almonds - as a snack, as a butter, as a topping on salads or your breakfast quinoa
- frozen peaches and the new Power Fruit Blend
- salmon

I also gave up coffee and alcohol. I was a grouch for 2.5 weeks solid. If I offended you during this period I apologize. I heard a good analogy about this: When a hockey team loses 4 games in a row, they think to themselves, we're just having a bad stretch. When they lose 20 games in a row, it becomes clear that they just plain suck. This came from a colleague, I think his message to me was clear.

Now you're probably thinking, you didn't actually follow this for a month, did you? And if you did, is your iron amazing now? Other than the tasting of the chili, and a bowl of soup from Bridgehead, I was totally disciplined. I started reintroducing things over the weekend, and I have to keep a journal about how I feel as I go. I'll have to get my iron tested again in a few months to confirm if it's gone up, but since the gluten test came back negative, we can rule that out. Other things that I've noticed since I started:

- my skin looks really, really good.
- I'm not bloated, it looks like I've lost weight, but I've lost 2lbs.
- I had moments where I really hated everything. I'm going to say this was caffeine withdrawal.
- I had spacey moments. I couldn't think of the word that was on the tip of my tongue. I'll say that was also lack of caffeine.
- I like chocolate. You'll know from previous posts that I was not a fan of chocolate before. My naturopath says this is probably because we don't have a whole lot of bitter flavours, and since I gave up coffee I want that and chocolate is a good source. I've been eating 85% raw, organic, sugar/dairy/soya/gluten free chocolate. It's good, I swear!
- I'm not as thirsty as I was.

So was it worth it? Yes, I would say it was. The worst part for me was the caffeine. If you're as addicted as I was, remember to be patient. Really patient. It may take a few weeks to really get over it. The rest is peanuts compared to this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chili Cook-Off

Tomorrow is the chili cook-off at the office. This is the first time that I have been invited to participate, and I simply couldn't turn it down!

I love referencing man vegetables. And there is really no time like a chili cook-off to reference man vegetables. Onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, maybe some others if you're feeling adventurous. I was sharing my theory of man vegetables with O while I prepared my chili. At the mention of kale as a non-man vegetable that I eat, his response was: That's not food! I'm pretty sure that response supports my theory. Another supporting fact: Manwich Sloppy Joes boasts a full serving of vegetables in every sandwich. If there's anything in that sauce besides tomatoes and perhaps a hint of onion and carrot, I'd be surprised.

Man vegetables really do make a delicious chili. What's in my chili cook-off chili?

1 onion
1 1/2 stalks of celery
2 cloves garlic
1 green pepper
1 package mushrooms
half a hot red pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 small can yellow tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can red kidney beans (wait a second...beans must be a vegetable since legume is french for vegetable! maybe I'll add beans to the man vegetable category)
half a can of black beans
splash Worcestershire sauce
some red wine
dried chilies
chili poweder
cumin powder

The result is a full bodied chili that my coworkers will enjoy for $5 a bowl with proceeds going towards the United Way.

While I love a man vegetable, I do love me a side of kale...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


A couple of months ago, my friend S brought ribs to a cottage. She had marinated them in a smoked hickoey sauce blended with sriracha. Yes, that red sauce that you'll always find on the table when you go for pho. nom nom nom. In my attempts to eat more red meat, ribs got in the way. It's still meat, it's got to have iron in it, right? Check out this saucy goodness:

There was some cheesy bread to go along with it, good for soaking up that sauce.