February 25, 2011

2 for 1: cashew milk, cashew cream

As someone who loves to eat, it's been exciting to get creative and try new things while following a healthier path. You might think that some of these things are more complicated, but with a little pre-planning and prep work, they have actually simplified the process of eating well. Once made, these foods are good to go, ready to be adapted with additional ingredients in whatever way you desire. Best of all, they taste great.

Cashew milk, made from soaked raw cashews, is another interesting option. The first time I made cashew milk, I strained it, thinking it required the same process as almond milk. Afterwards, while re-reading the Vitamix recipe, I glanced at the bottom of the page. No straining required. It was a fortunate mistake though, because by straining the milk I discovered cashew cream. I also found it was a way to make the milk and cream at the same time. Most recipes I've seen blend the soaked cashews with either more water to make cashew milk, or less water to make cashew cream, and don't require straining. I like my method better, getting both milk and cream out of 1 cup of cashews, a bargain 2 for 1 deal. The method of straining also makes the cashew milk less gritty and a little lower in overall fat content than in non-strained versions, which is a nice little bonus.

Even more exciting is this wonderful strained leftover, cashew cream. The cream has a neutral flavor which you can make savory or sweet and use in recipes similar to the way you would use heavy whipping cream. In next week's post, I'll be sharing a recipe that my husband made for Valentine's Day dinner using cashew cream as a base for a white wine sauce drizzled over sea bass. The sauce was excellent without the over-satiated feeling you get from heavy whipping cream. Containing very little saturated fat, cashew cream is something I wish I'd found a long time ago.

February 18, 2011

orange, pecan & date gluten-free scones

During my recent detox diet (no dairy, gluten, refined sugar), not only did I miss my yeast breads, I also missed my scones. So I scoured my local bookstore's gluten-free baking section and found a cookbook called GEMS of Gluten-Free Baking by Wendy Turnbull. GEMS takes a whole-grain approach to gluten-free baking with excellent results in texture and taste for gluten-free baked goods.

The GEMS flour formula is a combination of four whole grain gluten-free flours. Two flours, brown rice flour and sweet white sorghum flour, form the base of the GEMS formula. The next two flours you add to complete the formula are up to you, depending on what flavors you like. Among the choices are buckwheat, amaranth, teff or gluten-free oat, as well as millet, quinoa, soy, chickpea, or white/red/black bean flour. The cookbook gives a formula for the mix, a quick reference chart for the flours, and a list of substitutions for typical ingredients like milk, eggs and butter. The GEMS flour mix exchanges 1 to 1 with regular wheat flour in recipes. Whether you choose to bake gluten-free for variety or out of necessity because you can't digest gluten, the book is a good source of basic information for converting your existing recipes to gluten-free versions. It also has over 100 gluten-free recipes you can try as well.

February 11, 2011

hiro's biscuits

Our dog, Hiro, is a dachshund on Jack Russell terrier wheels. When he isn't leaping in the air, he's busy chasing his "Kong" chew toy. In order to properly survey the scene, he jumps up on the back of the couch to watch me cook in the kitchen. If he feels he's lacking in attention, he steals my husband's socks from the closet and waits to hear "drop it!" so he can run around the room clutching his loot. If he needs a friend, he jumps up on our bed, faces the mirror atop the chest, and carries on a conversation with intermittent "woofs!" The entertainment never ends.

So what helps keep our canine character in super-hero shape so he can keep up his antics? It's a homemade dog biscuit recipe I found in the Reader's Digest book More Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things. It's got four ingredients, is easy to make, and keeps my Hiro free from additive-laden commercial dog food treats. I know he'd thank me if he could.

February 4, 2011

snowpalooza pizza

More than a few of us have been housebound by the monster snow and ice storm that covered nearly three-quarters of the United States. I'm in Texas, (on the "milder" end of things than say, Chicago), and the weather has shut down my husband's school district for four days. Of course, in Texas where football is the state religion, temperatures are predicted to be back in the slightly less frigid high-30's, just in time for the Superbowl.

After the first day of being stuck at home, Tuesday night just felt like pizza night. Apparently, it's felt like that for lots of people across the country. A video posted on weather.com said pizza delivery had actually increased since the storm had descended on the states. Wow. Imagine those poor pizza delivery guys in this crazy weather. So, instead of ordering out, I'd like to suggest you try making this delicious whole-grain pie and give the pizza delivery guys a break. In honor of the history-making storm, I'm calling it Snowpalooza Pizza.

February 1, 2011

the whole of it

When I said in my first post that I'll be using whole foods, what I really mean, if you read between the lines, is that you will never see any artificial or diet ingredients in the recipes I post. I'd rather eat a small amount of rich and real than ten times its synthetic non-fat counterpart.

My obsession for whole food extends beyond just avoiding the processed foods that crowd the grocery shelves. I have several goals. The first is to make as much at home from scratch as I possibly can. Another is to support my local farms and farmers' markets, and maybe find a local CSA to join. I'd eventually like to have my own garden. I want to learn the skill of canning.

We've gotten so very far from our roots as an agricultural society, at great cost, literally, to our health. According to a recent report, the current generation of children may have a shorter life span than their parents. If we're too busy to eat wisely, then I guess we're too busy to live. Isn't that the truth of it? Long live the happy meal. And by the way, scarily, it can.