Monday, February 21, 2011

Baronia Pasta @ Italian Centre

I have talked about the Italian Centre before and it bears repeating -- it's a great place to shop for excellent products.  Above are a few items that were purchased on a recent shopping trip.  The Baronia  pasta was outstanding and I would highly recommend it.  They grind their flour fresh at their own mill and use only fresh spring water.  There is a serious taste difference between Baronia and your ordinary run of the mill pasta.  Start checking the ingredients on some of the pasta brands and you'll be surprised at what they've added and you'll realize why some don't stack up. The Italian Centre Shop also has a very good selection of gluten free pasta including my favorite brand Tinkyada. I made a delicious lasagna last week and it met with rave reviews.  Nobody knew it was made with gluten free lasagna noodles and they were surprised how tasty it was because they had previously had bad experiences with other GF brands. I will be posting that recipe sometime soon as it was an especially tasty combo of yams, tofu and spinach.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Natural Value Sandwich Bags

I really like thse little sandwich bags by Natural Value.  I don't know a lot about Kosher rules but these are Kosher certified so if that concerns you these are definitely worth buying.  Not only that, according to my sister, they wash up several times and the zipper action works better than Ziploc.  Now that's something to rave about! I find that Ziploc baggies smell  "plasticky" so that's why I was very happy to find that these do not.  I made up a batch of my "prairie girl gluten-free flour mixture" today and portioned it into my favorite little baggies.  They're not meant for the freezer so I'll be putting the filled sandwich bags into a big Ziploc container (which I do like and use and re-use over and over again).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stuffed Potatoes for the Freezer

This is a 5 step program to pretty potatoes - almost higher maintenance than a bleached blonde!  But the lure of having these in the freezer for instant potato gratification at a moment's notice helped push me through until phase 5!

Step#1 - Scrub potatoes well. Prick with a fork. Rub with a wee bit of olive oil or margarine. Do the same with one large yam. Put on a cookie rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake in oven at 400 degrees for one hour.

Step#2 - Cool slightly. Cut in equal halves.

Step#3 - Hollow out carefully - leaving the thinnest edge possible without destroying your potato shell.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Step #4 - Mash your potatoes and yam together - use a little warmed unsweetened soy milk and earth balance margarine. And add a little more salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly between all your potato shells and smooth the top with a knife. These can of course be done without the yam - I just used it because I liked how it gave it a rich cheesy look! You can stop at this step of course if you don't enjoy piping!  But it sure does look pretty! I could not
 resist doing it.

Step#5 - Using a piping bag - add another top layer of piped stars or whatever works for you.  I really need to get a special potato piper thingy! But I just made do with what I had. These are now ready to put on a sheet and partially freeze for about 1-2 hours.  Take out and then package correctly for longer term freezer storage.  Max: 4-6 months in freezer for best taste.

When ready to eat - defrost and reheat at about 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. Garnish as desired.  I'm thinking some caramelized onions and tofu sour cream would be delish!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Broccoli - What's New and Beneficial!

Broccoli can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in broccoli do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw broccoli still has cholesterol-lowering ability- just not as much.
  • Broccoli has a strong, positive impact on our body's detoxification system, and researchers have recently identified one of the key reasons for this detox benefit. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients found in a special combination in broccoli. This dynamic trio is able to support all steps in body's detox process, including activation, neutralization, and elimination of unwanted contaminants. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) are the detox-regulating molecules made from broccoli's glucosinolates, and they help control the detox process at a genetic level.
  • Broccoli may help us solve our vitamin D deficiency epidemic. When large supplemental doses of vitamin D are needed to offset deficiency, ample supplies of vitamin K and vitamin A help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance. Broccoli has an unusually strong combination of both vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin K. For people faced with the need to rebuild vitamin D stores through vitamin D supplements, broccoli may be an ideal food to include in the diet.
The above is just a small excerpt from the WHFOODS  site - continue reading for more reasons to make broccoli a big part of your life! I was  hooked after the first two paragraphs but there is so much more to be excited about so keep reading!!

The reason for my broccoli extravangza today is due to the fact that I picked up a super size bag of it from Costco recently.  It contains 16 cups of raw broccoli. There was no way I was going to use 16 cups before the best before date so I had to deal with it. It's prewashed but never mind -- I couldn't resist putting it into a bucket full of cold water to which I added salt and rinsed it a few more times for good measure.  I then steamed it, chilled it, froze it on a cookie sheet and then divided it into 2 cup portions.  I chopped the stems into itty bitty tiny pieces and did the same with them . They will make a great addition to my future soup pot. All this for $4.99 - a real bargain considering the excellent vitamins one cup contains as well as 4.6 gms of protein and 4.6 gms of fibre. Check out my recipes for chunky broccoli soup and udon noodles with broccoli.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Oatbran Muffins

Chocolate and cherries - a timeless classic winning combination.  It does not fail to please in this amazingly healthy muffin.  Show me any other muffin that uses a mere 1 tsp. sugar plus 1 tsp. fat and delivers this kind of satisfaction and you will have my utmost admiration!  One word comes to mind as I enjoy this with my morning cup of organic english breakfast tea: Superb!

1 cup oatbran
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tbsp. + 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 tbsp. + 2 teaspoons ground golden flaxseed

2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tbsp. + 2 teaspoons agave syrup
2 tbsp. + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (more or less - see instructions) Kiju mango/orange juice
1 cup bing cherries (chopped small pieces)
organic sugar (1/4 teaspoon per muffin sprinkled on top)

Mix the first 7 dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Mix the milk, syrup, olive oil and juice together in a 2 cup measure.  These combination of liquids should total 1 1/2 cup -- if you are short --- add a little more juice till you have the required amount. Mix the liquid into your dry ingredients. Now fold in your cherries. See the following paragraph for how I prepare my cherries before using them in baking.

I buy canned bing cherries - rinse and drain them.  Then freeze in a container. I then slice the frozen cherries into nice small pieces so that they are incorporated evenly throughout the batter (smaller pieces tend not to sink to the bottom of your muffin).  Use about 1 cup for this recipe.

Put 1/4 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup (I am back to using the If You Care Muffin Liners as they are reformulated and are again perfect for releasing low fat muffins).

Sprinkle each muffin with 1/4 teaspoon of organic white sugar (optional - but it does add a nice touch). If you figure it out these muffins are very low fat and very low sugar.  Approximately 3/4 teaspoon of each per muffin when you make 11.  The extra 1/4 teaspoon makes it approximately 1 teaspoon per muffin - well worth the little sprinkle! Enlarge the photo and you will see that the sugar creates a crunchy & sparkly topping that looks and tastes yummy.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 16-18 minutes. Made 11 muffins @ 1/4 cup batter per muffin.