Spicy & Crispy Baked Kale.

We all know that kale is super healthy, but I always found it a bit bland and uninteresting. Until I have tried to bake it that is. I’ve experimented quite a lot with different flavours and found this particular one to be the best for my taste, as it is both spicy and cheesy. Speaking of cheesy – this recipe is vegan, with the cheese flavor coming from nutritional yeast flakes, that can be bought at any health food store or online.

Make sure that you drain and pat dry kale properly. The leaves can be damp, but not wet, otherwise it will steam in the oven and will be less crispy. If you don’t like it spicy, add 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper.

Spicy & Crispy Baked Kale
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Ingredients
  1. 200g kale
  2. Pinch of rock or sea salt
  3. A dash of olive oil, about one tablespoon
  4. 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  5. 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  6. Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 140C and line the baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Wash the kale and remove the tough stems. Pat dry the leaves and place them on the prepared tray.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it with kale thoroughly, massaging it, to evenly distribute the spice mixture and oil.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is dry and crispy at the edges. Make sure it doesn't burn or brown. It should be crispy and dry, but still green.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before eating.
  6. Serve as a side dish or a healthy snack.
Notes
  1. Lower the temperature if kale starts to brown. Lower temperatures and longer cooking is better here.
  2. The crispy kale is best eaten right away. If you left it standing too long, or even decide to store it, it will re-hydrate and loose its crisp, becoming dull and chewy.
Artisan Cook http://artisancook.co.uk/

 

Lazy Sourdough Bread.

This is the best bread I’ve ever made. It is so good that I have been making it twice a week for over a year now, so it’s a bout time I shared it. I discovered it in the book called Cooking Help for Parents (Mathjeplen til Foreldre), which promotes cooking healthy home-made food for children (and adults) and involving chilren in cooking. A highly recommended book. Their website (in English and Norwegian) have a lot of excellent advise on child nutrition, growing your own veggies and educating children about cooking and nutrition. 

The beauty of this bread is that there is no need to knead it and preparation only takes ten minutes tops. All you have to do is prepare the dough, put it into your baking trays and forget about it for 8 hours or longer. Then just bake it. That’s it! Sometimes I make the dough in the evening and bake it first thing in the morning, sometimes I make the dough first thing in the morning and bake it in late afternoon to enjoy for dinner. Easy! Oh, and it is pretty much only flour and water. The bread does taste great though! This is because over 8 hours the yeast would have done its magic, so the bread aquires the special taste (and smell) of sour dough. 

The simplicity of the recipe allows room for experiments. I have used wholewheat and rye, spelt and rye, wheat and wholespelt combinations. You can also made bread rolls and focaccia from the same dough. I would recommend using organic, stone ground flour for this recipe.

 

Pour straight into prepared form

Pour straight into prepared form

After 7 hours it looks like this

After 7 hours it looks like this

Straight from the oven.

Straight from the oven.

Bottoms up

Bottoms up

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Lazy Sourdough Bread
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 800g fine spelt (dinkel) flour,
  2. 200g fine rye flour
  3. 1.5 tsp dry yeast
  4. 1 tbsp salt
  5. 900ml water
  6. Oil for greasing the tin and rushing the bread.
Instructions
  1. Grease and line two bread tins*
  2. Mix dry ingredients together, then gradually add water and mix the dough until flour is incorporated. I use silicone spatula for ease and finish it off in my food processor.
  3. Divide the prepared dough between two tins and leave it in a dark place for 8 hours or overnight.**
  4. After about 8 hours the dough will give off a sour smell. This is normal. It should also double in size.***
  5. When ready to bake (in the morning, or after 8 hours), turn on the oven to 190C and bake the loafs for 50-60 minutes, until it is hard on the top and nice brown colour.
  6. Cool on the wire rack until you can handle it, then remove from forms and cool completely before storing it.
Notes
  1. *you can use any other container actually. It really is not important.
  2. **I like to put it right inside the oven and leave it there. If you prefer to leave it on the bench cover it with a cellofane or cling film or kitchen towel, to prevent the top from drying. This is important. If the top will dry out, there will be a whole in the middle of your bread! The top will raise and the bottom will be flat.
  3. ***sometimes it overflows, so it is a good idea to line the bottom tray of the oven with aluminium foil.
Adapted from Geitmyra matkulturcenter for barn
Adapted from Geitmyra matkulturcenter for barn
Artisan Cook http://artisancook.co.uk/

Baked Saffron Cauliflower.

The recipe is adapted from beautiful Yotam Ottolenghi vegetarian cookbook. It was perfect, as I haven’t used saffron for a while and wanted to dress up my cauliflower side, so it wouldn’t be plain. Plain cauliflower is a bit boring…unless it’s raw, then it can be munchy. Especially with hummus.

I buy spices (and other good things) from iHerb.com and I love Frontier Natural Products in particular. There is a real difference between high quality, organic if possible, spices and the stuff from supermarket.  The smell and taste is completely different. I love my Frontier ground cumin, it smells and tastes fantastic! In this recipe, cauliflower is infused with saffron and mixed together with sweetness of raisins and tartness of olives. This “one pot” dish is not difficult to make and it just makes cauliflower a bit less boring.

saffron

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. saffron strands, soaked in 75ml hot water.
  • 1 medium cauliflower head, divided into florets. Large florets halved (to save cooking time)
  • 70g raisins
  • Small jar of olives (I use whole Kalamata olives here)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • A generous dash of each: garlic and onion powder (I add it to everything these days)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cracked black pepper to taste. Salt is not necessary here, since olives are salty.
  • *any compatible veggie that are forgotten in your fridge.

Pre-soak saffron until water is nice golden colour.

Add raisins and leave them to soak for a couple of minutes.

Mix together the rest of ingredients in a large bowl, then add saffron water (with strands) and raisins.

Mix everything well.

saffron_cauliflower (11)_sm

*At this point, I’ve opened my fridge and noticed one lonely courgette, that was on its last breath, so I chopped it up and trowed it into the cauliflower mix. Then I’ve noticed one of the little peppers on my paprika tree was ready, so I added that too.

peppers

Put everything into a large(ish) baking dish. I use square Pyrex dish here. Cover with foil and bake at 200C for approximately 40 minutes. Do keep an eye on it however, because the cooking time depends on the type of oven used. I use fan oven, so I do not preheat.

When ready, take cauliflower bake out of the oven and  remove the foil to let the steam out. Otherwise it will continue cooking and become soggy. Unless soggy is what you want of course. Let it cool a little before serving with anything. I’ve had it with some roasted aubergines, tahini sauce and marinated tofu. Yum!

saffron_cauliflower

Vegan Winter Root Vegetables & Bean Hash.

Very easy to make, comforting and warming, yet light enough dish. Ultimate autumn/winter fast food. This hash can be made with any combination of seasonal root vegetables and spiced to anyone’s taste. I prefer a hint of Mexican, so I use beans and Mexican spices such as cumin, cayenne and coriander. I think Italian version, with white beans and chopped tomatoes, spiced with dried herbs could also be very nice.

This is a throw-everything-in-a-pan, very low maintenance dish. Once you prepare and chop everything, it will just sweat in a covered pan until ready. All you have to do is to stir it once or twice.  It is packed with protein, fiber and beta-carotene, and works well with wilted spinach or kale on a side.

Veggie hash

Serves 4:

  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 carton organic kidney or black beans, drained
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/4 tsp of each: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, dried coriander greens
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/5 tsp turmeric
  • rock salt to taste
  1. Wash, peel and chop all root vegetables into medium chunks and slice the onion thinly.
  2. Chop the chili finely.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add turnips. Cover and let it sit on a medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until it just starts to get soft.
  4. Add the rest of the vegetables, spices and beans and stir everything to cover with spices.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on a medium/low heat until all vegetables are soft. This should take about 15 minutes. Check on it and stir through after 10 minutes.
  6. When ready, remove the lid, stir through once more and serve.

 This recipe is: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, low GI, low fat.

Soy Sauce, Liquid Aminos or Tamari? What is Healthier?

What is the healthiest choice when it comes to using soy sauce in recipes? I have used various types of common soy sauces, Braggs liquid aminos and tamari sauce in my cooking before, but as I try to watch my sodium and gluten intake, I wanted to know which one is the better choice. So I did some digging and Tamari seems to be the healthiest option of all soy condiments.

Braggs Liquid Aminos taste like soy sauce and just like soy sauce it is very high in sodium. The difference between liquid aminos and soy sauce is that most soy sauces contain wheat and, subsequently, gluten, as well as colour and sometimes even preservatives. In this respect, liquid aminos are cleaner, since it is just isolated amino acids from soy, but due to high sodium content, not the healthiest of options. It is also the most expensive and hard to find of all three, so really, not worth the effort.

Tamari’s  recipe is closest to the original soy sauce that was introduced to Japan from China. It is brewed by fermentation process from miso and therefore contains much less sodium and no wheat or gluten. It also should be free of any colours and preservatives. It is thicker than conventional soy sauce and tastes stronger. Tamari can be found in most well-stocked health food stored and in supermarkets gluten-free section.

Blueberry Crumble Teacake.

First time I’ve made this cake, I have used flour and more sugar than I would usually use in a recipe. The teacake came out so delicious that I thought: “if I’m going to make this often, it ought to be healthier than this”, so I’ve tried to improve on ingredients and to my surprise it came out even more delicious! Granted, I do prefer tartness to sweetness when it comes to dessert, but even my “sweet toothed” husband liked the healthier version more. It also came out much lighter, not as filling as the original version. The major difference was in texture though. Flour cakes tend to keep a nice shape even straight out of the oven. This lighter version was much more crumbly (well, it is a crumble cake after all), so I had to serve it with a spoon rather then slice it with knife. It did become more dense the next day though and I really don’t consider such things important, but I thought its worth mentioning.

Blueberry Teacake Slice

Serves 2 gluttons (ahem!) or 6 people that can be satisfied after just one slice.

For the cake:

  • 100g. almond flour
  • 100g. oatmeal or oats, ground into a flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp rock salt (optional)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 5 tbsp (~40g) muscovado sugar + 1 tsp. stevia or 80g sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml milk of your choice, at room temperature
  • Zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon. 1/2 an orange can work here too.
  • ~350g frozen blueberries

For the crumble:

  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 120g coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Lightly grease a baking dish with coconut oil and set aside.
  3. Mix the first five cake ingredients together.
  4. In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer or biceps power, beat the coconut oil with sugar, making sure all the sugar clusters are dissolved. Heat the mixture if necessary.
  5. Add the rest of ingredients, apart of blueberries, to the mixture.  Combine well.
  6. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture in small parts. Do not overmix.
  7. Pour the batter into the baking dish.
  8. Top with blueberries and let it rest while making crumble topping.
  9. Mix sugar, coconut flour and cinnamon in a bowl.
  10. Add coconut oil and rub it into the mixture until it resemble crumbles.
  11. Distribute the crumble mixture on top of blueberries.
  12. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Assuming it will last that long, this cake is even better the next day.

 This recipe is: wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian.

Green Quinoa Salad.

quinoa_salad

This healthy quinoa salad is bursting with flavour of fresh herbs and spices. It is excellent for a lunch base, main side dish or a light summer salad. Prepared in advance, it can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days in a fridge and used for a variety of lunches. Just add eggs, fish, tofu or whatever else you fancy.

Boiling quinoa, or any other grain/seed, with spices allows it to adsorb the flavour, making it less bland. I always add cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks to rice and various other spices to millet, quinoa and lentils. Adding saffron, or turmeric if you are on the budget, to lightly coloured grains turns them into a lovely golden colour.

Almonds and pecan nuts also go well with this salad and you can experiment with various herbs. Make sure to toast nuts lightly and not to burn them. They should not change colour at all.

quinoa_salad01

Serves 2 as a light salad or 4 as a side dish:

  • 150g yellow quinoa, washed and any suspicious floaty bits removed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 30g walnut halves
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (use gloves if you are too sensitive)
  • 30g rocket, washed and patted dry
  • 20g parsley,  leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 20g coriander, leaves only, roughly chopped
  • 15g chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Place the quinoa in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil, then add cumin and salt to taste. Boil for approximately 10 minutes, until the germ starts to separate from the seed (or follow the cooking instructions). When ready, drain thoroughly and transfer into a glass bowl to cool down.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, crush the nuts to smaller pieces. You can pop them in a plastic bag and smash them a couple of times with a roller pin. That should do it. Toast them lightly in a dry pan and leave to cool.
  3. Chop chilli and spring onions, and wash, trim and chop all the herbs.
  4. When everything is ready, add nuts, rocket and the rest of the ingredients to a bowl with quinoa, season with salt and pepper and mix it up well.

quinoa_salad5_crop_sm

This recipe is: gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, sugar free, vegan.

Quinoa - The Versatile Super Seed.

Quinoa is not a grain, but a seed. As most seeds, it is wheat and gluten free and contains protein. In fact, Quinoa contains all essential amino-acids, which makes it a complete protein. It is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and B vitamins, including folic acid. It is low fat, easy to digest, and doesn’t raise blood sugar level like wheat based grains and white rice.

Quinoa comes in yellow, red or black color, but it doesn’t vary in taste, so it is possible to combine different types of quinoa in one dish. It looks good. Texture wise, in my experience, red and black quinoa types are more chewy than the yellow one.

yellow quinoa seed

I love cooking with quinoa because it is so versatile! It can be a great substitution for cous-cous, bulghur wheat or rice and it tastes great. It can also be served cold of hot and is suitable for both sweet and savory dishes. Quinoa can be served as porridge for breakfast, as a side dish or as a salad, made into sweet pudding for dessert, and it is possible to even bake with it!

Quinoa is cooked by simply boiling it in water just like rice, but for a shorter time. It is ready when the germ is separated from the seed, which should take about 10 minutes after the water is boiling. It can also be sprouted. It takes 6 hours to soak one cup of quinoa. Sprouts will appear in less then one day and will yield 2.5 cups.

 yellow quinoa seeds

 

Wasabi Spinach

wasabi_spinachI love wasabi and don’t like the taste of spinach, so this is my solution to eat more of these healthy, but  – in my opinion – bland leaves. My wasabi dressing recipe inspired me to try this, and I was so pleased with the result, I now cook most of my green leafy veggies this way. Kale, chard, spring greens – all go excellent with a combination of wasabi and coconut oil. If possible, choose a good quality wasabi powder instead of paste, as premade pastes often contain sugar and salt. I highly recommend Clearspring powder.

I prefer strong wasabi taste, so I don’t use any salt here. The whole cooking process should take a couple of minutes. You don’t want to overcook spinach, just heat it through. The wasabi measurement in this recipe do not provide that characteristic spicy kick. If you like to make it stronger, double the amount of powder.

Measurements for small (100g) bag of spinach:

  • 1 tsp. wasabi powder
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  1. Wash your spinach and pat it dry.
  2. Melt the oil in a pan over medium heat and add spinach to a pan, stirring it to cover with oil.
  3. Sprinkle wasabi powder over the spinach and stir as it wilts to distribute the powder evenly.
  4. Serve as soon as all leaves are wilted. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or dry milled seaweed if you like.

Serve with fish or brown rice…or both.

This recipe is: gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, sugar free, low fat, vegan.

Spiced Sweet Carrots.

This is one of my favorite way of eating carrots. Generally, I find them quite boring, but cooked in this way, they make for a good snack or side dish. The spices that I use also remind me of Christmas and of course I make these carrots quite often during winter months. The whole preparation takes not more than 10 minutes and you don’t need to keep an eye on them, which makes it perfectly stress free dish to prepare from start to finish.

Serves 2 as a side dish or a snack:

  • Approx. 0.500 g.carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. peanut or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. clear honey
  • 1/4 tsp. each: ground cinnamon and ground ginger
  • Small pinch of allspice
  • Small pinch of salt
  1. Preheat the oven t0 200C.
  2. Place carrots together with the rest of the ingredients in a heatproof dish, toss it well so that carrots are evenly covered in honey, oil and spices and roast for 25-30 minutes.
  3. Serve on its own as a snack or as a side dish.

 

This recipe is: gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian.