Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lentil Bread - Mostly Wheat Free

So, I've been looking for a way to enjoy bread while following my very low fast carb Diet Free Life. What this means for me is that I am trying to avoid eating an abundance of fast carbs (foods that quickly turn to sugar inside your body) and unfortunately, this means bread and pasta, two of my favorite things.

Then I had this idea! Lentils.  Lentils are delicious, don't get me wrong, they still are high in carbohydrates, but also high in fiber, have an interesting flavor, and are considered a slow carb. I love lentils in cold salads and hot soups, but in bread?? YES. So I searched and searched for a recipe that I thought might work and I found one, tweaked it to suit myself and I'd like to share with you.

Now, don't go expecting this to be fluffy white bread, there is little to no gluten in here, which gives breads its chewy texture. This bread is more dense, a little drier, but delicious. I am posting this recipe for now until I perfect this, then I will post a new recipe. This bread didn't rise like I had hoped, but I was able to slice it into "slices" that resemble bread by slicing the long way, rather than on the short side like a typical loaf of bread.

In the mean time, I will also work on an almond flour bread that we used to make for my brother when he followed a specific carbohydrate diet for Crohn's disease. I am just looking for something that isn't so high in fat though. Maybe a lentil\almond mix!?

1.5 cups of lentils (white or regular brown)
3 Tbsp flour (or rice or other gluten free four)
3 Tbsp arrow root (or ugh...corn starch)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F
1. Soak the lentils overnight.
2. In a food processor, blend the lentils. Add a little water to loosen it a bit, but not too loose about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and keep processing. This will add a lot of extra needed air for rising.
** The batter will be thick like a cake batter and should be bubbly from the added air.**
 4. Pour batter into an oiled non stick pan or lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes. You might want to cover the top with parchment paper too after the first 15 minutes.

After the bread has cooled, you will probably see that it didn't rise much (or did it!?). It's ok! Just cut the loaf into 3's and then cut the top, two middle slices and the bottom. You should get about 8 slices per loaf.

I am going to keep working on this recipe to see how to get it to rise more so stay tuned!
Lentil Bread Grilled Cheese

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pizza - Cauliflower and Almonds

Many people can't eat wheat products. Many choose not to and many must avoid them to lose weight. I've been cooking with almond flour now for almost 20 years since my brother was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease back then. Man, times have changed! I remember having to order 25 lb tubs of almond flour directly from the almond farmers because it was unheard of. Aren't we lucky now that any ordinary grocery story sells it! And its cheaper now too!

So, because of the diagnosis, my mother and I became experts in baking with almond flour. We've made breads, pies, name it! Heck, even my pie crust recipe is STILL getting hits all these years later (I think I posted it back in 2002 or so)!

So here it is, pizza crust AND is actually pretty yummy! Now, there are many variations and I like two of them. One uses only cauliflower and the other which I am going to post uses both cauliflower and almond flour. I decided to add some almond flour to get rid of the extra I have in my freezer.

Half head of cauliflower
half cup of almond flour
half cup shredded cheese
1 egg
2 tbsp cream cheese

Preheat oven to 410F

1. I started by microwaving the cauliflower because it dries it out while it cooks. You DO NOT want to use wet cauliflower. If you steam or boil it then make sure you squeeze out the water.
2. Process cauliflower in a food processor, add the other ingredients and pulse until mixed.
3. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, you can add a little olive oil to the paper
4. Pour the "batter" onto the cookie sheet and spread fairly thin.
5. Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes. If it is browning, then that is good. The crust needs to dry out.
IF you can flip it over then do that and cook another 10 minutes. Its ok if the crust is brown.
6 . Spread tomato sauce and cheese over the top and cook for another 10 minutes. Let it cool slightly and then cut. You should be able to pick it up like pizza.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

No Rice Fried Rice (Cauliflower Fried Rice)

 Like many people, I really enjoy Chinese or Asian inspired food, just look at my previous entries! Anyways, tonight I was craving fried rice, but those of you that know me, even if I drink only water, my body turns it to fat so I've been finding out that starchy carbs are not my friend. What was I to do! I remembered a friend telling me how someone they know made fried rice with cauliflower as the "rice" and I kept thinking "how delusional."  

So tonight as I was microwaving the cauliflower I kept wondering why people try to trick themselves with horrible substitutes, and why am I one of those people tonight!  So I found a head of cauliflower, cut it in half and microwaved it til soft. I chopped it in the food processor until the size of rice and put t aside.

Now, the flavoring is up to you, but I will post the recipe I used. Oh and by the way.....It actually DOES taste like yummy fried rice!

half head cauliflower
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
handful of peas
handful of green beans, chopped
handful of chopped mushrooms
1 onion chopped
2 tsp garlic chili sauce
1 egg
1 tbsp oil

1. Cook the cauliflower until soft. Place in food processor and pulse until you get small rice sized bits
2. Heat the oil and add the onion and cook for a minute. Add ginger and chili sauce and cook for another minute.
3. Add cauliflower, green beans and mushrooms. Next, form a bare circle in the middle of the pan where you will scramble the egg. Once scrambled, mix into the rice.
4. Strir fry for a minute then add the soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir fry more.
5. Turn off the heat and add the peas.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hoisin Sauce

Cooking Asian food can be a daunting task. We all know this. Then you find a recipe you think might be good, you start to read it and there are strange ingredients that you don't normally have on hand. No worries! I have a solution for hoisin!  You may have many of the ingredients readily on hand, and if you don't then you need to stock your kitchen.

3/4 kidney beans (color doesn't matter), rinsed
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp molasses
2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice
2 fresh dates (you don't have to add these, but I did for a little extra sweet)

Add everything to a good blender and blend til smooth.

Yup. That's all!

Chinese Chicken and Broccoli ....Again!

Don't you just crave Chinese food sometimes? I do often and while there are numerous buffets to choose from at a cheap price, it is like asking for punishment! I've been following a Diet Free Life on and off for years and when I follow well, I lose lots of weight. One of my favorite things is you can basically eat what you want so here is something that I wanted to eat tonight! I got this recipe from Food Network, but I tweaked it a bit.

I also didn't have hoisin sauce on hand so I made my own. After tasting it, I will never buy hoisin again, it was so good I could drink it.

Lastly, I am not eating fast carbs for meals at the moment, so instead of rice, I used leftover, mashed kidney beans and they were perfect! They soaked up that flavorful sauce.

Chinese Chicken with Broccoli!

2 chicken breasts sliced thin
3 scallions thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 inch peeled fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar ( I use unprocessed)
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon arrow root
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (see my home made recipe)
5 to 6 cups broccoli or a bag of frozen
1. Make the marinade. Mix the garlic, ginger, soy sauce sugar, vinegar, 1 tsp arrow root and sesame oil. Add chicken and marinate at least 15 minutes or more.
2. Get a skillet very hot. Add 1 tbsp of the oil. Add the broccoli and cook out any excess moisture. Once the broccoli is cooked and still green remove it from the pan.
3. Heat the pan again with the remaining oil. Add the chicken (I had to do this in parts). Let the chicken slightly brown before flipping around. Once fully cooked, add 1 tbsp corn starch 1/3 cup water and the broccoli.
4. Pour over the hoisin. Shut the heat and enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stuffed Grape Leaves - Dolma

Every summer for the past 15 years I've made stuffed grape leaves in abundance, but why summer? Here in Massachusetts and New Hampshire we have the concord grape which grows wild and out of control. Every. Where. So I decided one day that I am tired of paying $5 for brined leaves when I can just pick my own! So I did just that. I always pick them from the same spot at my mother's house in NH. Out back way behind the pool where nothing but wild life roam. I know that my leaves are organic as no one planted the vines and no one touches them. No fertilizer, no pesticides....nothing.

So, I spray my legs with bug spray as there are a lot of ticks and then I find the best and most perfectly shaped leaves I can find. I usually end up with about 100. If having a party and you know everyone loves these, you could easily collect a couple hundred leaves from one spot.

Next, you have to wash them. They are wild. There are birds, insects and other strange things flying around. Wash each leaf in a bucket of water. It's refreshing to do on a hot day. I just dip them in and very lightly scrub, and then add to the pile. To the pile, I add more water, salt and lemon juice to help kill anything else and preserve the leaves. They keep very well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, but they will change color from bright green to dull brownish green. THIS IS OK!

The next part is difficult, trying to find that perfect recipe. Well, here is what I do, and everyone is different. I use beef and ground turkey or chicken, mixed. I use a little bit of rice, fresh lemon juice and a little mint or dill, chopped and of course, salt.

Grape leaves
1 lb of turkey and beef
1/2 cup rice
juice of one lemon
extra lemons, sliced
1 tbsp chopped dill or mint (or both?!)

Mix everything together except for the lemon slices. Lay out a perfect leaf and be sure to cut off the tough stem and as much of the middle vein as possible. The rolling might seem daunting at first, but it really is quite easy, just a little time consuming so get a prep space in front of the tv ready.

1. With the dark side down, add about a spoonful of mixture at the bottom where you cut.
2. Roll the part closest to you over the mixture.
3. Fold inthe sides and quickly roll so they stay tight.
4. Keep rolling and folding the sides in until you have a tightly rolled grape leaf.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

All American Baked Beans

Nothing screams summer (or English breakfast) like a crock full of baked beans. I grew up on these beans, waiting for every summer BBQ because I knew my mom was going to make them. While she made hers with navy beans and salt pork, I used red kidney beans and no meat due to having some vegetarians in the family.  You can really use any bean you like as long as it holds up during the grueling cooking time these babies require.

First off, I usually do about 1-1.5 cups of beans for a fairly large crowd. It may not look like a lot, but they grow during cooking. A very important thing about many varieties of dried beans, SOAK THEM, at least overnight (8 hours). What this does are two things; re-hydrate and reduce cooking time (thus preserving the nutrients) them and removes some of the oligosaccharides from the bean. If you don't remove the oligosaccharides you are in for a musical day the next morning. It removes the sugar that causes us to ....well...toot.

I change the water every few hours, maybe you don't have to, but I do. I don't know why. Anyway....After soaking, add them to your crock pot and cover with water, just maybe half an inch above the top of the beans. Next, add your ingredients all at once and stir. It's not going to look pretty, but just you wait.

 The ingredients are simple:
1.Ketchup or a small can of tomato paste
2. Yellow mustard
3. Molasses
4. Onion
5. Brown sugar or Coconut sugar

Chop the onion into large pieces. It will break down during cooking. Add a generous squirt of mustard, maybe a table spoon. Next, add the can of tomato paste, about 1/3 cup of molasses and brown sugar. You might want to add some onion powder too. Any additions is totally up to you. In the picture below, I added cocoa powder to see how deep I could get the flavors, forgetting that there is a lot of sugar in the beans.

Stir and set the crock to cook on low for the next 12 hours or so. You can stir every now and then. The sauce will become dark, thick and rich.