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: