Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

After listening to Dr. Hans Diehl (creator of the CHIP program) speak this weekend, I am once again tweaking our vegan diet.  We already have been consuming vasts quantities of fruits and veggies, including for juicing.  Now we’re ncreasing whole grains (I’m not talking about the flour, but the actual grains) while keeping out the sneaky processed flours that show up when your guard is down and you buy packaged things; cutting back – to the point of eliminating – processed sweeteners (this is my biggest difficulty); and decreasing oils (it’s recommended to not use any added oils, but I’m not sure about that one for me with my mega-dry skin and hair.)  Not only is this a way to maximize health long-term, but in the short term (less than 1 week), I’ve lost pounds!  And I’m eating way more than I was.  Win, win!

BUT!  If my family is going to tolerate me messing with their food – again – it had better be tasty stuff that I fix them, or there will be a revolt against lots of grain, especially plain old rice, showing up on their plates.  While I love the stuff, most of them have never been fans.  Surprisingly, I have a lot of recipes for main dishes using whole grains that we’ve tried.  It’s time to dust off some of the tried-and-true recipes, as well as invent some new ones.

Cilantro-Lime RiceLast night, my son-in-law showed up with a brown bag from Chipotle.  It smelled so good!  Short of putting on my coat and driving to Chipotle, I decided right then that the next day I would make up a really big batch of cilantro-lime rice to split up into smaller amounts for the freezer so that on short notice, I could make something wonderful when tantalizing food teases me.

I’ve tried to make this before, but it fell short.  This time, I thought some onion, garlic, and lime zest would help things along.  And how!!  What a difference.  I had a healthy scoop with some black beans and tomatoes for lunch – yum.

Freeze the extra amounts in meal-sized packages for later use unless you have a large family.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice 

  • 3 c. long brown rice (basmati or jasmine is nice, but not imperative)
  • 8 1/2-9 c. water (or whatever your container of rice indicates is needed)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of 1 lime, microplaned (this really makes it shine)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 c. loosely packed cilantro leaves, minced

Bring the first 6 ingredients to a boil in a heavy-duty 3-qt. pan, and then cook over medium-low heat until the water is absorbed (or a little tiny bit is left in the bottom of the pan.)  Taste test it to make sure the rice is soft.  If needed, add a little water and continue cooking.  When it is finished, stir it well and replace the lid, leaving it to rest for at least 15 minutes to steam and get fluffier.  Meanwhile, juice the lime and toss it with the cilantro leaves.

Once the rice is finished steaming, toss it with the lime juice and cilantro.  Serve with any Mexican-style meal, or just with some beans for a quick meal.

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Creamy Sweet Rice Salad (formerly known as Rosa Marina Salad)

I promised a short series on breakfasts several months ago…and then I dropped off the face of the planet again.  Sorry.  Life has changed once again and I should be posting more often now.

Preparing fun breakfasts has kinda dropped off around here, too.  I loved eating them, perhaps too much, because I gained weight!  Eating great breakfasts was supposed to help balance the rest of the day and help me eat less, but, apparently, I just love food so much that it didn’t work that way for me.  So, I’ve gone back to a nutrient-packed green smoothie most mornings and save the special breakfasts for special treats.

Rosa MarinaThis salad certainly works for a breakfast treat, or for a healthy dessert!  My preparation of it has changed over the years.  When I first made it, we were vegetarian, but not necessarily healthy ones ~ and it contained eggs, Cool Whip, white sugar, maraschino cherries….obviously, things were going to have to change in the salad when we became vegan and also gave up so many chemicals in our foods!  I finally nailed a tasty version of the salad without maraschino cherries (one of my childhood favorites.)  It still did contain the very small pasta called rosa marina or orzo, which helped the dressing to firm up into a nice, thick creamy dream.

Then…dun, dun, dun…enter gluten issues for me.  This salad was just one of the many casualties of my new way of eating.  It broke my heart (all of the situation, not just losing this salad.)  I tried and tried to come up with suitable replacements, but everything I replaced just failed.  Quinoa was too chewy; long-grained rice’s texture was off; the creamy dressing never set up.  It was very disappointing.  And my family was starting to make disparaging comments about the versions I created, because nothing was as good to them as the orzo!  (Never mind that white flour pasta isn’t good for you and nobody seems to make whole grain orzo.)

This time, I succeeded.  I adjusted the dressing to have less liquid.  I used short grain brown rice to give a better texture and since it is somewhat sticky, it allowed the creamy dressing to thicken properly.  Granted, my family still is a little on the fence about it, because they remember the pasta version and textures are a big deal to them.  Personally, I love it and am so happy to have it back in my life that I fix it despite their opinions.

I’ve been known to add sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen cherries, or blueberries to change things up a bit ~ although they can really change the color of the cream.  (I can guarantee the whole salad to myself this way, because of my fussy eaters, so adding it to individual bowls may work better.)  I have also been toying with the idea of using fresh pineapple, but I’m wondering if that would curdle the cream.  Let me know what adaptations you come up with to try!

Creamy Sweet Rice Salad

  • 1 c. short brown rice
  • 3/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. water (or according to rice package)
  • 2 20-oz cans unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve 1 c. of the juice!)
  • 3 11-oz. cans of mandarin orange segments, drained (do NOT reserve the liquid)
  • 1 12-oz pkg. Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3/4 c. raw cashews (soak these for 4 hours or so if you don’t have a strong blender)
  • 1 c. reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice crystals OR 1/4 tsp.+ pure stevia OR other equivalent dry sweetener

Cook rice according to package directions, but make sure it is quite well done so that it isn’t too chewy.  Meanwhile, place fruit into a large mixing bowl.  Blend the last 6 ingredients until very smooth and pour over the fruit.  When the rice is ready, mix it into the fruit and cream.  Refrigerate until cold and the cream sets up nicely.

Traditional and Radical Breakfast Ideas

To really give a kick my breakfast series, I thought I’d list some links to previous posts that are breakfast worthy.  Some are traditional items, but some are a little outside that box.  Remember, the point is to eat at least as healthfully as your box of cereal has allowed you to do.  Hopefully, a better goal is to eat more healthfully and to actually look forward to breakfast when you wake up!

Berries, Grapes, and CantaloupeSome of these recipes are gluten-free and some are not.  I am in process of recreating some of my old wheat-filled stand-bys into gluten-free versions.  I’ll post them as I have success.  I’ve marked (gf) beside the recipes that you might wonder about, but left it off of things like smoothies, which are a little more obvious that they already are gluten-free.

Meanwhile, dig in to some great breakfasts!

Continue reading

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins)

Breakfast.  It can be so boring ~ so unhealthy ~ and so expensive.  Are you stuck in a rut?  Are you tired of paying an arm and a leg for boxed cereal that has little staying power and often little true nutrition?  I am going to start a series on make-ahead breakfast recipes to take the ho-hum out of mornings.  You’ll find yourself looking forward to breakfast!  You might even want to take a look at some of your current recipes and rethink the possibility of using them for a morning meal.  Of course, I always add some fresh fruit to the meal to round it out nutritionally.

Cocoa-Banana Breakfast Cake (or Muffins) 001Whether you have to eat gluten-free, or not, this breakfast cake will please you!  It was so exciting to put the first forkful into my mouth and taste how delicious it was.  The texture is moist and heavy like some decadent muffin that you might buy.  Mmmm.  In fact, Continue reading

Fiesta Quinoa

Fiesta QuinoaAh, the plans I make and the menus I create….only to be dashed to pieces the first night!  Grocery day can be crazy in our household, with stops at several stores, since no single one of them carries everything with which I cook.  Today (actually, several months ago, since I found this post hiding in my draft folder) was no different ~ except a couple of extra errands were tossed in for good measure.  This meant I didn’t have the needed time to make the do-ahead items on my menu for the week.  Which also meant that when I got home late, there was no instant supper to put on the table. Continue reading

Coconut Cream Topping

Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Cream 005If you are not happy with the vegan options for a whipped-type topping (cashew creme, tofu-based items, etc.) because they add a funny taste or texture, then this is the recipe for you!  As long as you like coconut flavor, that is.  🙂  I find it accompanies just about any dessert well, with the mild coconut flavor melding seamlessly.

These days I couldn’t be happier about eating coconut in any way possible with all the health benefits of coconut being touted.  My two favorite coconutty things to consume are Continue reading

Gluten-free Pie Crust

I have been very lazy where pie crusts are concerned.  In the past, I have resorted to press-in types, because I didn’t like fussing with rolling them out.  For health’s sake, I also tried whole wheat versions with oil rather than shortening.  No one gave rave reviews over those.  Then during the low-fat craze, my crusts became even less tasty and harder to get out of the pie plate.  Rarely were there pies coming out of my kitchen.  Then I had to give up wheat and figured that completed the demise of pies for me.

Gluten-free Pie Crust 005If any of this sounds familiar, I want to jump up and down and shout that it doesn’t have to end this way for you!  I have found the solutions to my problems.

First of all, let me just say that organic virgin coconut oil is the biggest answer to all of your crust problems, whether wheat or gluten-free.  This stuff is amazing and has many health benefits.  Even though you start with solid coconut oil, as you work the crust you do not have to worry about the warming from your hands melting it and causing it to destroy the crust.  It actually makes it easier to work with the crust!

The second answer to crust problems for those with gluten-free needs is a product called Orgran gluten substitute.  This is made in Australia, but is available through Amazon I am told.  A friend shared a box with me and I was hooked.  PLEASE note, that you do not have to use this in this recipe, as I’ve given another option, but it is the easiest to make when you do.  It is primarily starch-based with some “-oses” and guar gum.  If you do not like to use those things, I’ll tell you how to skip it.

When I used the Orgran product, I both pressed in a crust and rolled out a crust.  (Pictured above are both – the press-in in the foreground with no edging and the rolled out in the background with a crinkled edge.)  The crust was so pliable and workable, that rolling it out was easy!  If I tore the crust, it easily patched with a little pressing and rolling.  Warming the ball of dough and kneading it a bit allowed for the best workability.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it was flaky, tender, and the best crust I had tasted in a long time!  Everyone liked it.  Success!  And it popped out of the pie plate without sticking, making for a pretty piece of pie on each plate.

The next time I did not use the Orgran and substituted more oat flour.  The crust still worked, but it was not as pliable and tended to want to stick to my rolling pin.  With some Pumpkin Pie Crust viewpatience and extra warmth/kneading, it still worked well.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it came out of the pan easily and was tasty, but it wasn’t as flaky and tender.  It had a tendency to crumb a little more.  The crust in this picture of pie is using the extra oat flour, as is the whole pie pictured below.  You can see that it doesn’t fall apart.  I think it is a viable option, and definitely a cheaper one.  I am wondering as I write this if I used melted coconut oil whisked with the water if that wouldn’t help even more with the texture of the finished product and the pliability of the dough.  I will have to continue experimenting.

Another great thing about this crust is that if you want a fancy edge, it will handle the extra grief needed to produce one.  On the other hand, if you want to just bring the crust up even to the edge of your pie plate and hack it off there, smoothing the edge, it works, too!  How can you not love such a versatile crust?  🙂

I have only worked this into a single crust pie.  I do not know how the more fragile no-Orgran crust will behave in a top-crust situation, but the one with the Orgran should be fine.

This makes 3, 9″ deep-dish single crusts with a little left over when you trim the crusts.  (If you saw my pumpkin pie recipe, you know that I have 3 pie plates to accommodate that recipe.  Thus the strange number of crusts.)  You can decrease the recipe to make a smaller amount if you have smaller pans or want fewer pies.

Pumpkin Pie-Whole

Gluten-free Pie Crust

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c. arrowroot
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 c. Orgran gluten substitute or oat flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (with a sweet pie the 2 tsp. seemed a little too much)
  • 1 c. solid coconut oil (measure and refrigerate if necessary during the summer heat)
  • 10 T. cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil until it is well mixed into the flour.  There should be smaller-than-pea-sized pieces formed when you are done.  Quickly stir in the cold water and knead/squeeze until the dough becomes well formed.  Divide into 3 equal balls of dough.  Onto waxed paper, roll out each circle of dough*.  If using the oat-flour-only option and it sticks to the rolling pin, use a lighter touch and be patient.  Transfer the crust to each pie pan by inverting the waxed paper over the pan.  Carefully peel off the waxed paper and fit the crust into the pan.  If there are splits or tears, just press the crust together.  Trim the top edge, finishing it as you would like.  Fill and bake according to pie’s directions.

*Another option would be to press the dough into each pan evenly and proceed with filling.

Garbanzo Melt Open-faced Sandwiches

Garbanzo Melts 2For some reason I had not made garbanzo melts in a long time.  When J and R asked what was for supper and heard this was it, they made the kind of loud, growly “OOOOHH’s” only teen boys tend to make.  I had no idea of the popularity of these, or I would have been making them more often!

The great thing about these is that any leftover filling works for a cold sandwich, too.  You can use your favorite bread, including an artisan variety, which will make these even more amazing!  Gluten-free bread will suffice here, too, as long as you have a tasty one.  The best thing is that these are simple to make, you probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard already, and they can be quickly thrown together.  Win!

Another option for these is to make them into regular grilled sandwiches on a griddle, rather than open-faced.  They just tend to squish out when you bite them!

As usual, organic ingredients will give you the best flavor and nutrition.

This recipe uses 10-12 slices of bread, but you can easily cut it in half if you want to make less.  Remember ~ any extra filling keeps well in the refrigerator.

Garbanzo Melt Open-faced Sandwiches

  • 1/2 of an onion (red is best, but any will do)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 T. +/- Veganaise non-dairy mayo
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. mustard (yellow will work, but spicy brown is great)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3-4 T. relish
  • 10-12 slices of bread
  • extra virgin olive oil in mist-er, or non-dairy butter
  • 15-18 slices of Tofutti vegan cheese or more (how many slices will depend on how big your bread is)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mince the onion in a food processor.  Add the beans, mayo, mustard, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are well mixed and the beans are roughly ground.  The texture can be fairly rough to as smooth as hummus depending on your preference.  I like somewhere in between.

Remove mixture to a bowl.  Add 3 T. of relish.  Taste and add more relish and salt to taste.  Your brand of garbanzo bean will make the difference of how much salt needs to be added.

Spray one side of each slice of bread (or lightly “butter” it), placing it oil-side down on a cookie sheet.  Spread garbanzo bean mixture onto each slice.  Lay slices of cheese on top of the open-faced sandwiches, breaking slices in half or thirds if necessary to add enough to completely cover each piece of bread.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and melty looking.  The bottom of the bread will be toasted and crispy.

Oatmeal Cookie Journey (gluten-free)

Cookies…cookies…cookiesCOOKIES!!!

You guessed it….I love cookies!  (Of course, Cookie Monster was my favorite Muppet.)  Sadly, I haven’t been doing much baking lately, though.  Kinda lost my mojo without wheat flour to make it brainless easy.

Last night and this morning I had such a craving for oatmeal-raisin cookies that I couldn’t Oatmeal Cookie (gluten-free; first attempt) 002help but make another attempt at turning out a good whole-grain gluten-free cookie.  Since I want you to be brave, too, at trying to create new recipes in your kitchen, I am going to take you on this oatmeal cookie journey.  I will tell you what I was thinking as I turned this recipe that I made for years and years with whole wheat flour into this gluten-free version.

First of all, oatmeal cookies are marvelous for attempting to remove the wheat flour, because there isn’t much of it in the recipe at the beginning!  As long as you are using gluten-free oats you are almost home free (or if you are just avoiding wheat and don’t get deathly ill if you get a hold of some teeny amounts gluten, use regular oats.)

To replace the 1 1/2 c. of wheat flour, I decided how hard could it be to use oat flour?  I scooped up 3 c. of oats (because I always double this recipe or they are gone much too soon) and whizzed it up in a dry blender.  (It’s okay if the oats look more like meal than a smooth flour when you are done.)  When I measured the flour after whizzing it, I was 1/4 c. short.  Well, rats!  Rather than try to whiz up that small amount of oats (they get kind of lost in the bottom of the blender and it doesn’t work particularly well), I decided to just throw in some almond meal for the final 1/4 c. that was missing.  Almond meal gives the look and feel of whole wheat flour.  At the last minute, I pondered my coconut flour.  It can help with the baked texture of things to also mimic whole wheat flour.  So, I tossed in a 1/4 c. of that, too!  I figured at worst I would have to add some extra liquid since it seriously soaks up moisture like a sponge left out to dry in the summer sun.

Turns out it was a good choice at the last minute to toss in that coconut flour.  Oat flour can be a little sticky in comparison to whole wheat flour.  The little bit of coconut flour just mopped up any sticky ideas the oat flour might have had and sat back to enjoy the ride.

I chose to add jumbo organic raisins in these cookies – and I made them fairly big since I was in a hurry.  (It only took me an hour to make a double batch from start to finish – not bad.)  Chocolate chips are a nice switch from raisins if you’d rather.  Butterscotch chips are fun, too, if you can find vegan ones.  Coconut flakes are great with any of the above options or by itself (I found some sweetened coconut shreds without any nasty chemicals at Trader Joe’s and I am thrilled.)

I originally thought I was going to have to tweak this recipe again later, but after the whole batch is finished, I don’t think I will need to do so.  They are a little fragile when you first take them off of the cookie sheet, but they firm up nicely as they cool.  If you like, you can leave them on the cookie sheet until they are not so fragile before removing them to a cooling rack.

Oatmeal CookiesOatmeal Cookie (gluten-free; first attempt) 001

  • 1/2 c. Earth Balance buttery sticks (1 stick)
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil (virgin is best)
  • 1 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/4 c. + 2 T. oat flour (1 1/2 c. oats whizzed into meal/flour)
  • 2 T. almond meal/flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour
  • 3 c. oats (I used half and half ~ rolled oats and quick oats)

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cover your cookie sheets with parchment paper (this is vital to make vegan and gluten-free cookies work the best.)

Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.  Stir in the egg replacer powder.  Add the non-dairy milk a little at a time, whipping it into the batter.  By the time it is all in, you should have a lovely fluffy batter.  (Add any extras here, like raisins, chips, coconut, etc.) Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before pouring it all into the wet ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.

Using a teaspoon or a tablespoon, scoop dough against the side of the bowl to press it.  This will give you a sturdier cookie.  You could also press the dough in your hands if you prefer.  Drop spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove to cooling rack.

Variations:  Add 1 c. raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, and/or coconut

 

Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes

We’ve all heard the horror stories about gluten-free pancakes.  I didn’t want any I might make to become another statistic of wasted ingredients thrown into the garbage because the results were abysmal.  While my family is eating “normal” pancakes, I don’t want to chew on cardboard frisbees or disintegrating messes of grainy goo.

If you’ve been reading my other gluten-free posts, you know I am also not a fan of the weird ingredients of starch this and gum that.  My family is accustomed to whole wheat everything, so a hearty replacement is necessary for my palate.  I’m not a fan of white flour anything.

I took my tried-and-true wheat pancake recipe and messed around with different flours.  Although my first attempt could have used some more salt, they were very good.  Fluffy texture, hearty taste…though a little more fragile than typical wheat pancakes.  The next batch I added ground chia seed and extra liquid.  That took care of their fragility!  I’m very happy with the final results.

Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes

  • 1/4 c. millet flour
  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flourGluten-free Pancakes
  • 1/2 c. brown rice flour
  • 1 T. ground chia seed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. baking soda, sieved
  • 1/2 heaping tsp. baking powder, sieved
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 3/4 c. + 2 T. juice, such as organic apple or white grape
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp. non-flavored oil (I use extra light olive oil)
  • optional – sweetener to taste.  I find the juice is enough for me with sweet toppings

Whisk the flours, chia seed, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and egg replacer powder together in a mixing bowl.  Whiz the oats with the juice, milk, and oil in the blender.  Whisk the liquid with the dry ingredients for 30 seconds or so until bubbly.  Let rest for a minute while you heat the griddle to 300° F.  It will thicken up as it rests.

Pour 1/4 c.-sized pancakes blops from the batter onto the hot griddle.  Make sure you leave enough space between them for spreading out.  When they begin to be a little dry around the edges, flip them over.  When they are toasty brown on the underside, remove them to a serving plate.