DIY: Toasted Pepitas

July 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Many store-bought, pre-toasted and -salted nuts and seeds are processed and coated with starches to help salt/spices adhere to the nuts/seeds.  If you are steering away from added starches in your diet, or if you simply would like to have more control over the ingredients in the food that you eat, try buying the raw materials and then dressing them up yourself — it’s a resourceful, creative alternative to what’s commonly available in a standard supermarket.

I like to roast/salt/season big batches of nuts and seeds at a time.  They’re wonderfully shelf-stable and then I have them at-the-ready.  Included below is the simplest recipe for roasting pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but feel free to dabble.  You can try roasting them with a little tamari (or soy sauce) or toss them with dill and nutritional yeast.  I enjoy pepitas out-of-hand, a-top mammoth leafy salads, soups and pasta or brown rice dishes.

Ingredients:
raw pepitas
sea salt, to taste
a few teaspoons olive oil
spices, to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan, toss pepitas with a little olive oil – just enough to cover all the surfaces.  Sprinkle with salt (and spices) to taste.

2.  Bake for 15 minutes; stop and stir half-way. Cool completely before packaging.

 

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe, nut-free, vegan

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Dried Tomatoes

June 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today is the fifth of June and down in the southwest, we’re harvesting tomatoes in full swing.  In fact, we’ve been popping sweet cherries into our mouths for the last month.  In light of this fact, and given that we have several more months of lycopene-glory ahead, it’s never too early to start preserving these suckers.  Canning recipes are coming, but for now, I thought I’d start with a dehydration recipe.  Don’t worry if you don’t own one of these mammoth electrical appliances.  If you’re eating tomatoes now, your backyard is an oven.

Ingredients:
tomatoes sliced 1/4 – 1/2″ thick (cherries cut in half)
sea salt

Method:

Slice tomatoes in thick slabs and remove seeds.  Arrange evenly on a dehydrator (or mesh screen for outdoor use).  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Dehydrate at 135/140 degrees for 10-16 hours (depending on thickness) or until chewy and crinkled.  If dehydrating outside, keep a fine mesh cloth (ie. cheese cloth) over the tomatoes to keep bugs and debris at bay.  When cool, store in an airtight container. Will keep for several months.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Apple Preservation: Fruit Roll-Up Style

December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

I get such a kick out of edible table decorations; along those lines, I like consumable party favors (or wedding take-home goodies), too.   This year, for Thanksgiving, I whipped up a double batch of apple fruit roll-ups and put a small wrap on each plate.  It was a seasonal palate cleanser and was a fun story-prompter.  I might’ve even convinced my uncle David to buy a dehydrator!

Ingredients for the Roll-Up:
apple sauce
honey
cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, ginger

Tools:
food dehydrator
parchment paper
scissor
string

Method:
Cook down apples into a sauce or scoop from a jar.  Heat on the stove; add honey and spices to taste.  Remove from stove and spread on a plastic dehydrating sheet (like this one) about 1/2 cm thick.  Turn dehydrator on at 135 degrees and dehydrate for 10-12 hours.  Peel away from plastic, rip or cut into thin strips and roll up in parchment paper.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free

Quick Bread & Butter Apple Pickles

November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Quick pickles are my go-to recipe when the cucumber crop goes gang-busters.  But it wasn’t until this past fall, when I cooked side-by-side with Cammy at Super Chilly Farm, that I added apples into the vinegar brine.  We made this recipe six times in three weeks and since coming home to Arizona, my mom has kept the crisper drawer stocked with cucumbers.

Two things to note:

(1) Use the very best apple cider vinegar you can find.  If you can, seek out a local apple orchard and buy vinegar in bulk (we buy gallon jugs).  The cost isn’t prohibitive (in fact, it’s often comparable to grocery store prices, or cheaper when purchased in larger quantities); it only requires a bit of extra effort.  While I lived in Maine I tracked down Sewall’s cider vinegar.  I brought home a bottle for my mom who tried it and said it tasted like wine and was the best she’d ever tasted.

(2) At Super Chilly Farm I was fortunate to have a stock pile of heirloom apples at my disposal.  With each batch of pickles, I sliced up different kinds of apples — softer, crisper, sweeter, tarter.  My favorite pickle batch used sweet, only slightly acidic, very crisp crab apple varieties called Chestnut and Pipsqueak.  Close runner-ups were Red St. Lawrence and Garden Royal apples.  (Photographs here.)  I suspect that this recipe would be quite good with the conventional varieties Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn or Gala.  Or, if you live in apple country, visit an orchard growing out apples native to your area and try out a couple that strike your fancy.

 Ingredients:
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
4-5 small/medium apples, unpeeled, cored
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 early onions/shallots
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or more, to taste)
1 cinnamon stick

Method:

1. Prep cucumbers: Cut off ends, discard, and thinly slice with a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife.  Place cucumber slices in a colander and toss with sea salt.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Prep apples and onions using the same slicing utensil—aim for uniform thinness and size.

2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and honey until full incorporated.  Add cinnamon stick and pour dressing over apples and onions.

3. Rinse cucumbers and lightly dry.  Add slices to bowl with apples and stir well.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, nut-free, gluten-free

Dried Fruit Trio Granola Bars

May 30, 2011 § 4 Comments

When it comes to grab-and-go snacks, I’m positively addicted to salted peanuts & brazil nuts plus a few banana chips.  But after overdosing on a shockingly large freezer bag of the above blend on a recent road trip, I’ve decided to cool off on the ‘nana-crunch snack attacks and instead, create a fantastic bar that offers additional nutritional benefits.

Through my recipe tweaking I’ve learned the following: Substituting OJ for water does not yield good results.  Honey can be used as a substitute for agave nectar; however, the agave makes a sweeter bar, which is a good thing in my book, and better chew.  Have fun fiddling with the dried fruits. Everyone agrees, the dates are a MUST.  Dried figs are also exceptionally good.  I’ve tried a couple different kinds of nuts, but pecans (shelled from my aunt and uncle’s tree!) were the clear favorite.

Ingredients:
1 + 1/4 cups dried fruit (favorites: dried peach, date and orange-hinted cranberries)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 + 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons teff flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/3 cup agave nectar

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 on convection (or 350 in a standard oven.)  Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan.

2.  Chop dried fruit and pecans.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, begin adding dry ingredients.  (HELPFUL HINT: While doling out teff flour, sprinkle some of the measured amount directly onto the dried fruit and nuts and toss with hands.  This will prevent the dates, peaches and cranberries from clumping and sticking into a large mass.)

3. Once all the dry ingredients are assembled, set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients.  Combine with dry and stir until completely incorporated and all oats are coated.  Spread in greased baking pan.  (HELPFUL HINT: Dab the tips of fingers with water and press oats into pan; this will prevent stickage.) 

4.  Bake until golden and slightly browned on surface, about 18 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and removing.

These granola bars stay chewy on the counter for several days, but also freeze and thaw very well.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free

Black Bean “Humus” Bean Spread

May 12, 2009 § 2 Comments

blackbeanhumus

Last summer I farmed in Vermont with five other ladies.  My dear friend Jo would always slather her sandwiches with the most interesting combos of bean spreads — some days the spread would be red, other days purple, sometimes black and white.  Meanwhile, Lauren and I’d hover over the sink, eating garbanzo beans straight from a can.

But today I decided to channel Jo.  I made a big lunch for the fam and wanted a not-boring hors devours to gather everyone in the kitchen.  I wanted something savory, light and more aesthetically pleasing than a gloppy bowl of pre-made ranch dressing.  This dip was a hit; we polished off the bowl in no time, just in time for the big springtime lunch. Thank you Jo, for the inspiration!

Ingredients:
2 cups black beans, pre-cooked*
1 + 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

*For those on the SCD-diet: If symptom-free for a month, you can try incorporating black beans back into your diet.  Be sure to soak them for 24 hours prior to cooking.

Method:

Add all ingredients in a blender/Cuisinart and pulse until smooth.  Feel free to add some olive oil if you prefer a creamier, thinner consistancy.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisk), vegan, gluten-free, nut-free

Almond-Cashew Butter

March 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

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Let me put this bluntly: I ADORE nut-butters.  I like cashew butter far better than I like cashews.  I like almond butter about as much as I like almonds.  I’ve never tried walnut butter, but toasted walnuts are my topping of choice for just about everything; I’m sure I’d like walnut butter.

After a quick perusal of my pantry this morning, I discovered two solitary bags of cashews and almonds.  I roasted them on a large sheet pan and blended them together into a mixed-nut butter and it just might be better than the sum of its respective parts!

Ingredients:
1 cup organic cashews, raw
1 cup organic almonds, raw

almondcashewbuttersextetDirections:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 7-12 minutes until fragrant and slightly brown.

2. Remove nuts from oven and cool on counter top for a few minutes.  Add to food processor and blend.  First, the nuts will reduce to a fine powder (think: almond flour or cashew flour — great as a thickener or in gluten-free breads).  Soon, the nuts will start to form a ball that will roll around the Cuisinart a couple of times.  Keep blending.  After a minute or two, the ball will start to loose shape.  Keep whirring until the nut butter has essentially oozed to the bottom of the blending container; it should be smooth and stir-able.  Total blending time = approximately 5-7 minutes.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe, vegan

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