Tuesday 29 January 2013

Vegetarian Lentils à la Provençal

Sorry for posting late people! Between MA applications, school work and just life getting in the way I've been delayed in posting. However, I must say that part of what has delayed me is that we're trying to expand the blog to have its own domain (yay!) a new name (yaaaay!) and some new sections including restaurant reviews! Anyway, here's this week's recipe fix, a tasty, filling vegetarian lentil dish stuffed with Provençal flavour and protein! This recipe is adapted from my aunt's old recipe for lentils with tomato. The recipe is pretty hodge podge as I don't really measure anything when I make this, I'll work towards measures next time!


-3 Cloves garlic
-½ Red onion
-Handful of parsley
-1 Leek
-2tbsp. Olive oil
-1/2 tsp. Herbes de provence (dried)
-Kalamata olives
-2 c. cooked lentils
-1 Large can/jar tomatoes
-1/3 c. Coconut milk (optional)
-Salt and pepper to taste
-2c. vegetable broth

1) Dice onions and leek, mince garlic.
2) Heat olive oil in the bottom of a pot, add leek, onions and garlic cooking until soft and fragrant.
3) Once the onion mixture is ready, add all other ingredients except parsley, the coconut milk is optional, it mellows the acidity, and can be substituted for an equal measure of broth with an extra teaspoon of olive oil. Although the broth and olive oil would be more authentic as a Provencal dish, I find the coconut milk adds some depth of flavour.
4) Simmer about 15 minutes until thickened, add parsley and serve.

Friday 18 January 2013

Light and Fluffy Wholewheat Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has surfaced as being THE dessert featuring vegetables that the general public seems to be ok with. Although recent years have seen a growth in popularity of zucchini loaves, pumpkin and squash muffins and all sorts of other veggie based desserts, carrot cake will always be the one that led the charge to the delightful world of veggies in sweets. Now, this recipe is loosely based of some recipe that my brother Matt and I found years ago online. The original recipe called for white flour, pecans and vegetable oil and we discovered that a healthier version could be spun-off from it after pulling a few changes. So we switched those out for healthier components, played with spice and vanilla quantities and in essence pretty much wrote up a whole new recipe. The taste of the healthier version was surprisingly not only good, but better than the original as the wholewheat flour blends so well with the carrots! Needless, to say, for carrot cake lovers everywhere, this is a recipe you need to try.

-4 eggs
-1 c. light olive oil
-1 1/2 c. white sugar
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-2 c. wholewheat flour
-2 tsp. baking soda
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-2/3 tsp. ginger powder
-1/3 tsp. ground cloves
-3 cups. grated carrots
-1 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
-1/4-1/2 c. icing sugar as topping

1) Preheat oven at  350, grease a 9x13 inch pan
1) Oil and sugar, once mixed add vanilla and eggs, continue mixing
2) In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
3) Process the carrots and nuts separately in a food processor. You want a finer chopping of the carrots so that you don't have hard bits but more coarsely chopped walnuts to add some crunch.
4) Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix until homogenous and add the carrots and nuts, pour into the prepared ban
5)Bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
6) Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
7) When completely cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar or coat with cream cheese icing.

Friday 11 January 2013

Almost Entirely Wholewheat Bread

Lately, for some reason or another, I seem to be posting a lot of healthy food. Although I doubt this will last long, let's consider it as fortuitous for anyone who was hoping to eat healthier in the New Year. The recipes I've been posting recently are really what I eat on a day to day basis, if I always ate my richer recipes such as the cakes and decadent desserts that I post, I'd easily be thrice my size! So here is a recipe for the bread I eat on a day to day basis, being almost entirely wholewheat with just a tad of white flour, olive oil and honey to make a tall, slightly fluffier wholewheat loaf with a nice crumb. Although you can go all brown and leave out the oil and honey, something which I do occasionally happen to do, this leads to a flatter, denser and tougher bread. This isn't necessarily the biggest issues except that you might get tired of unplugging your toaster and chasing your toast with a knife because it fell through the grills. So with that in  mind, I recommend splurging and taking the white flour, oil and honey route, it really isn't so bad (join the dark siiiiiide).

Makes 2 loaves

4 c. Wholewheat flour (the real deal)
1/2c. High gluten flour (available at specialty stores or bulk store like bulk barn, the gluten helps get some extra rise, it can be swapped out for other flour though if you like!)
3/4c. White Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 c. Barely warm water
1 tsbp. of good quality olive oil

1) Combine flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl, being careful to keep the salt and yeast from touching. Keep in mind that the dough will double to more than twice its side so you'll need one very large bowl or two smaller ones,  preferably made from ceramic, stainless steel or glass.
2) Add water and oil.
3) Mix the dough until homogenous with a spatula and then knead the dough in the bowl until smooth. To knead the dough, simply fold the dough in three like an envelope, apply pressure, flip it and start again (rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, for at least 4 minutes).
4) After kneading, flour the dough lightly and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Let rise at room temperature, around 20 degrees for one hour before refrigerating or storing in a cold room overnight, at least 12 hours, I tend to leave it for about 18. The process of letting the dough rise very slowly in a cold environment develops flavour and allows the relatively small amount of yeast to reproduce. In doing so, you'll manage to have a tender bread that doesn't taste yeasty.
5) After the prolonged rising, remove the dough from the bowl and break it into two balls. Gently stretch the balls and deposit them in a loaf pan to proof for another 3 hours or so covered by a damp towel.
6) Once the 3 hours of proofing have passed, put a baking stone if you have one on the lowest rack and set the next rack one slot above. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
9) Prepare an atomizer filled with cold water, open the oven and quickly insert the bread on the higher rack, close the oven most of the way and through a slit spray at least 20 sprays of water into it.
10) Bake for about 25 minutes until browned and hardened, eject the loaves from their pans onto a cooling rack and tap the bottoms of the loaves, if they sound hollow, they're ready!
11) Cool and enjoy! This bread makes excellent toast, I recommend pre-slicing it and freezing it to have it during the week.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Healthy Wholewheat Muffins with Dried Fruit

Muffins are generally known as the iconic breakfast on the go. Snatched up with a cup of coffee they're generally sweet, tasty and they hit the spot. Problem? Making a habit of buying muffins is not only expensive but also unhealthy.  Most commercial muffins are jam packed with preservatives, white flour and fake fruit (try and find actual blueberries in most commercial blueberry muffins, I dare ya). In response to this problem and loving the convenience of the hallowed muffin, I hatched this recipe up. Nearly vegan and very yummy, the only thing truly unhealthy in the muffins is the sugar but at 1/2 a cup per dozen, I'd say it's not bad at all! These muffins benefit from fiber filled 100% wholewheat flour, the healthy fat of olive oil and the energy and respective nutrients of a whole gamut of different fruits. Throw a few in your bag with some fruits and veggies before work or school and you're good to go! I also tend to pack healthy muffins when taking the plane, makes a good backup in transit if you're stranded with cardboardalicious plane food or have a delay, with that said...enjoy!

They barely even look (or taste) wholewheat! You could easily trick people into eating healthier :P

-1 c. dried apricots
-1/2 c. dried cranberries
-2 oranges, zested, juiced and pulp removed (You can remove the pulp from the pith after juicing using a spoon, it leads to moist muffins without the extra fat!) of the two oranges you will need: The zest from both, 1/4c. of orange juice, 1/2 c. loosely packed pulp
-1/4c. soy milk
-1/2 c. light olive oil
-1 1/2c. wholewheat flour
-1 1/4tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2c. sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2 eggs
-1 generous pinch (each) of nutmeg and cinnamon

Serves 12
Preheat oven to 375, grease a 12 muffin pan
1) Put about 2c. water on the stove, bring to a boil.
2) While water is heating, cut up dried apricots, pour boiling water on dried apricots and cranberries until completely submerged, let soak for 10 to 20 minutes.
3) While fruit is soaking, process the oranges into pulp, zest and juice, measure them out according to the ingredients list.
4) Combine Flour, baking powder, spices and salt
5) Cream together olive oil and sugar, add eggs one at a time with vanilla and orange zest, mixing until homogenous.
6) Drain re-hydrated dried fruits thoroughly
7) Add dry ingredients to the oil mixture alternating with soy milk, orange pulp and juice, once everything is incorporated, add the re-hydrated fruit
8) Dish into muffin tin and bake for ~35 min.
9) Remove from oven, let cool at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Saturday 5 January 2013

Carrot and Orchard Fruit Smoothie

I almost feel like I'm cheating by posting a smoothie recipe! However, I figured there must be a time and space for posting about smoothies as there is always time to drink them! Smoothies are a huge part of my diet, I tend to have at least one a day, they keep me going making a perfect light breakfast. Although some research has been done with people claiming that the sugar rush caused by the fact that we drink them too fast makes them less healthy than we think, nothing really conclusive has surfaced. With this in mind though, I tried to keep this recipe low in sugar by not adding a sweetener, something I attempt with most smoothies. By incorporating carrots, which although sweet, aren't quite as bad as most fruits, sugar levels are controlled all the while incorporating beta-carotene into breakfast with the goodness of cranberry juice with green tea. With all this said, it's important to note that if you're working mostly with room temperature fruit your smoothie will of course be, warm, so I recommend either cooling the fruit before making the smoothie or simply cooling the smoothie a bit before consumption if you're someone who prefers cold drinks.

Serves: 1-2
Ingredients (pictured above)
-1 heaping cup of pear, peel washed and cored (about two bartlett pears)
-2/3 c. carrots, peeled
-1/2 an apple (cored and peeled, the core is just in the picture because it's purty)
-1c. water
-1 bag of green tea (don't waste the good stuff on this, use a bag!)
-2/3 c. cranberry juice (commercial brand such as Oceanspray), I've never tried it with the straight stuff as I don't tend to have any around, a lesser amount could work as a flavoring agent and cut down on sugar if anyone tries it out, do share!
-Small handful of yellow frozen fruit such as peaches, mangoes OR ice cubes, it's more for chilling than flavour, frozen canned pears are what I used here to add texture and cold (optional).

1) Heat carrots, 1 cup of water, green tea bag and carrots in a pot until water is infused with tea and carrots are cooked thoroughly.
2) Prepare fruits, carrots and juice
3) Remove tea bag, combine everything in blender and blend for at least 30 seconds until smooth, the longer the better!
4) Serve slightly chilled and enjoy!