More Lentil Balls

>> Sunday, April 12

Every time I get lost in my kitchen, I cast out in the darkness for a helping hand and who do I find?  My good friend Beluga.  Beluga Lentil, that is, and he never ceases to amaze me with his solutions to my ponderings, as in today's :'what can an anti-candida, gluten-free vegan eat?

Answer: More lentils.  In ball form, they look less like lentils, which is good, because i'm starting to see them even with my eyes closed this week.  These, however, could be falafel with a suntan, and I didn't think once about the fact that I was eating lentils.  Again.

Simple Double-Lentil Balls

I was out of lemons, but I think a litle lemon juice in here would have been fantastic. For non-ACD eaters, add a splash each of apple cider vinegar and braggs for some kick.

1 cup beluga lentils
1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup amaranth

1 leek or onion, chopped
1 turnip, grated
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp sesame oil
1-4 cup pumpkin seeds

Add 3 cups of water to the lentils and amaranth in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the red lentils have broken down (add more water if necessary).  Stir vigorously and cook until the mix is very thick and sticky. 

stir in the rest of the ingredients, reserving the oil and pumpkin seeds.  Mix together into a thick dough.  Roll about 2 tbsp of dough into a ball, brush with oil, and stick 2 pumpkin seeds into the top.  Place on a parchment-lined or grased baking sheet and repeat until you used it all. Bake for about 30 minutes, until browned and crispy on the inside.  

Serve with Lemon Zatar Yogurt Dressing or Luscious Tahini Whip for a protein-ilicious vegan main dish.  Or, toss with rice noodles and tomato sauce and you have spaghetti and meatballs!


Cooking for the Gluten-Tolerant

With sugar-free april and a lot of foods excluded from my diet, I'm finding that to keep cooking, I have to cook fr other people! I had a bunch of leftovers on April first that had ingredients I am not eating this monht, so I decided to roll them all into one fantastic recycled bread loaf-a mix of beet salad, miso soup, and kicheri is what you see here in this gorgeous, colorful loaf:

To my 2 cups of leftovers (warmed to room temperature), I added about 2 cups of flour (what and spelt, mixed), 1 packet of yeast proofed in about 1 cup warm water, some salt, some pumpkin seeds, and...I think that's about it. Eassssssy. Unfairly easy, if you ask me-gluten free loaves have so many more ingredients!

And when it comes to desserts, I made another batch of things for the studio last weekend, and these were some of the best yet. These were glutinous, sugary, chocolate-covered zuchinni muffins, and I hear they were fantastic. Vegan, but otherwise untouchable, sorry celiacs!

Beautiful frosting drips are courtesy of Mister Dani T, who is the resident artist in the kitchen.

The recipe was something like this:
1 very large zuchinni, grated
2/3 cup soy milk
2 tbsp molasses
1/4 cup canola oil

2 cups flour (wheat and spelt)
1 tbsp baking powder
egg replacer for 2 eggs
1 package vanilla sugar
a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Mix the dry stuff, mix the wet stuff, add it all up, and spoon into a (12-)muffin tray. Bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned. They will be slightly too moist still on the inside, but they firm up as they sit.

for the frosting:
4 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp soymilk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa.

cream together and test for consistency and taste.


Enchanted Broccoli Forest-Fire: A toasty stove-top rendition of the classic casserole

>> Thursday, April 9

The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, one of Mollie Katzen's many beautiful cookbooks, is one that I treasure. Daniel and I got a copy in the states when we visited last summer and backpacked around for two months with it gingerly wrapped in layers of bags so as to get it safely back to the old continent. Here, we hoard it like miserly jewel-collectors, rarely daring to open its gleaming depths to those who pass through Dani's kitchen, where it sits discreetly behind a Moosewood. After all, cookbooks like that are hard to come by here, and you never know what a Swiss foodie might do if she discovered there was more to the kitchen than cheese and bread, so we like to initiate people here to the land of good veggie cooking step by step...

Anyway, the cover recipe, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest itself, is amazing, delicious, wonderful, and today, I wanted it bad. However, being the anti-candida eater I am right now, I felt a little weird eating a meal mostly consisting of rice. Also, I just didn't want to deal with baking anything. It's so warm, the birds are singing, the windows are blowing open in the breeze...all this scene is missing is the sizzle and pop of some nutty roasted quinoa.

By using quinoa as my grain, I'm eating a lot more protein and a lot fewer carbs than if I had used the usual brown rice, and lentils are even lower in carbs, being in the legume family. Plus, they're downright nutritious and delicious. We have heaps of Birsmattehof spinach (fresh from our local organic farm), and i just bought broccoli, and Hari gave me some of the succulent little sundried tomatoes Niki brought back from Israel, so it seems we have a contestant for today's mind-blowing anti-candida cookoff (a competition taking place solely in my head, but none-the-less a worthwhile pursuit). For those of you who don't have candida problems, feel free to spice it up a bit with with...whatever. I actually don't know why you'd want to improve on this amazing dish, I just keep imagining that everyone who can eat sugar must be enjoying something I'm not. But not today. No sirree, I've got one up on sugar cravings this evening.

Enchanted Broccoli Forest-Fire: a toasty stove-top rendition of the classic casserole (for 4)

1 cup quinoa
1 cup beluga lentils
1 medium head broccoli
a few massive handfuls of fresh spinach
1 stalk celery
1 onion, diced, and/or some chopped leek
10 sundried tomatoes (dry or in oil), chopped into strips
any additional veggies you may be craving/have on hand

juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tbsp fresh, chopped rosemary
odorous amounts of garlic (about 6 cloves), chopped
2 tbsp flax seed or flax seed meal
a tiny bit of sea salt
4 twists of fresh ground black pepper

optional: 10 activated almonds, chopped

Cook the lentils in water until tender, drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet and add your quinoa. Stir almost continuously until the quinoa is browned and smells roasted, 2-3 minutes. Add 2 cups water to the quinoa, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed.

While that's going on, chop up the broccoli, almonds, rosemary, garlic, and all your other veggies (except the spinach).

When the quinoa is done, push it to the side in the pan and add the broccoli, leek, onions, rosemary, and other veggies that need a bit more cooking to the pan. Add a splash of water, cover, and reduce the heat, steaming the veggies for about 4 minutes, or until shiny and tender. then mix it all up, add all the rest of the stuff, and cook until it looks and tastes good, about 4 minutes.
I'm not telling you how to live your life here, but I highly recommend some Lemon Zatar Yogurt Dressing over a nice hot bowl of this for a zingy mediterranean flavor combo that's out of this world.


Many-a-Dark-Green Later: Sugar-Free Week One

>> Wednesday, April 8

In case you missed my last posts, I am eating along the guidelines of the Anti-Candida Diet this month in an attempt to balance the yeasts in my body. I am also participating in the Chase Daylight Vegan Challenge with this cleanse, and you should really check out Ryan's awesome blogging on her adventures in the world of veganism. Now, onto the sugar-free frontier...

Funny how when we make dietary commitments, they seem remarkably simple. No refined sugar? Heck, I've done that before. I love the natural flavors of foods, and I don't usually need anything to sweeten my already delicious fruits and veggies. I can easily skip the brown sugar on my breakfast porridge. I felt anything but insecure last Wednesday as I decided once and for all to go anti candida this month.

Blow number one: I didn't just lose the obvious crystallized and syrup sugars. I also cut out all fruits, except for avocado, tomato, and fresh lemon. That hurt a little. No apples or bananas in my breakfast porridge now. Looking stark. I got a definite sad face, but I kept my chin up.

Then came blow number two: low-carb diet. Gotta cut out as many carbs as possible so the yeasty little beasts can't feed on them. So not only are the apples and bananas gone from my breakfast bowl, the porridge is called into question too. While whole grains are allowed, they aren't really the focal point any more. That is a bit strange for most eaters, myself included. Add in the loss and/or reduction of starchy vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, and beets, and you've got one confused cook.

I wracked my brain and those behind many, many anti-candida websites in my quest for simple recipes this week that were vegan, gluten-free, and anti-candida. That's not a lot of wiggle room, my friends. But, a few bland dishes of plain greens later, I emerged with my first good anti-candida recipes, which are here for you to enjoy.

First, because I did Shankhaprakshalana to start my cleanse, an ayurvedic intestinal cleanse from Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, I knew I had to start out my eating with lentils and rice. specifically, it's supposed to be a very simple kicheri with ghee and turmeric. I opted for plain red lentils, brown rice, and turmeric with flax oil on top. Delicious.

By day 2 I introduced some veggies to the meal, but kept the thick soupy consistency for ease of digestion. Unlike the juice fast I did for new years, this one recommends cooked veggies to start, again for ease of digestion. To each her own, so whatever feels right is probably it. For me, cooked, soft, and gentle sounded good a mere 48 hours after flushing everything out of my digestive tract.

The meal here is kicheri with the addition of a little carrot, turnip, garlic, onion, parsley, and kale. The flavor is unbelievably good, and the texture is so comforting and easy on the belly. I have no qualms about eating this meal regularly for the rest of my life, candida or no! I didnt use traditional Indian methods for cooking because I didn't want to fry the oil or spices in the beginning. This is more like a one-pot homey stew than your average restaurant kicheri, but it's really, REALLY fantastic, healthy, and easy.

If you're not on the ACD (anti candida diet) feel free to add more carrots and other starchy veggies, or not!

The dish here is shown with less kale than the recipe calls for.
Expect much more delicious greenery, this bowl wasn't quite up to snuff!)

Humble Kale Kicheri (for 3)

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 cup brown rice
2 tsp flax oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
tons of kale, chopped
a bunch of parsely, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric

Rinse the lentils and rice and put in a pan with 3 cups water, the onions, carrot, turnip and the turmeric

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and cook for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and check that all the water doesn't evaporate. Add more as needed to keep the consistency a little on the stew side.

When the rice is done, add the kale, parsley, and garlic, stir them into the kicheri, and cover again. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Serve with flax oil drizzled on top, and roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds if desired. mmm....

When I felt like I couldn't eat another bite of kicheri (took about 4 days), I entered the realm of other legumes. I made a very hearty bean soup with I used as a base to add steamed veggies to for a few meals in a row. It was extremely satisfying yummy, especially given the simple ingredients list:

Four Bean Country Stew (makes 4-6 servings)

3/4 cup dried kidney beans
3/4 cup dried black beans
1/2 cups dried chickpeas
1/2 cup red lentils
1 piece kombu seaweed

1 cup large onion chunks
6 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
a dash of salt

2 carrots, chunked
1 turnip, chunked
a whole lot of dark green: spinach, kale, chard, etc.
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Soak the kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas overnight. Drain, rinse, and set in a pot with the kombu seaweed and about 6 cups water (adjust as needed to keep from drying out). Cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Add the lentils, carrots, turnip, onion, salt, pepper, turmeric, and rosemary. If needed, add a little more water. Cook, covered, until the veggies are soft, about 30 minutes, and add in the greens, parsley, and garlic. Cover again and cook for 3-5 more minutes, until the greens are wilted and the garlic is just cooked. Serve with roasted pumpkin seeds and/or steamed broccoli.

Finally, I couldn't look another bean in the eye, and I turned to salads for lighter fare. It's hard to make a salad that's truly satisfying when you're used to a bowl-full of hot carbs and protein. I came up with a few types that really hit the spot though. I didn't manage many pictures, but here are two with photos at least.

A super simple mix of nüssli-salat (corn salad) and spinach topped with avocado, celery, roasted sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds, and a drizzle of flax oil.

A bombilicious spinach and unidentified dark purple green (use any lettuce you want) with carrot, celery, roasted flax, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and this incredible, AMAZING Lemon-Zatar Yogurt Dressing.

OMG it's so good. I served my salad with a little more dressing spread over a rice cake and sprinkled with more zatar, because I couldn't resist.

Lemon-Zatar Yogurt Dressing
1 cup plain soy or other yogurt
2 tbsp flax oil
2 tbsp zatar
juice of almost a whole lemon (about 3/4)
1 clove garlic

Grate the garlic clove and mix it all up. For a thinner dressing, add a bit of water. That's it! Try not to eat it ALL off the spoon directly, it's worth the wait to put it on a salad....

Last, but certainly not least, was a Creamed Avocado-Arugula mix. Very simple and good. I served it with fresh spinach alongside Kale Kicheri for a dark-green foodgasm yesterday afternoon.

Creamed Avocado-Arugula Salad (serves 4)
1/2 ripe avocado
juice of 1/2 lemon
a twist of fresh ground black pepper
a dash of salt

water as needed

150 g fresh arugula, washed
50 g spinach, washed

Mash the avocado with the other dressing ingredients until creamy. add water and whip until the mixture is fluffy and barely pourable. Toss the salad arugula and spinach with the avocado blend and top with roasted seeds, cherry tomatoes, chopped celery stalk, or anything else you like.


Tonsa Pho-n: Vegan Miso Pho

>> Wednesday, April 1

A sea of veggies

With a surprise below

It's a terrible pun, but it's still funny if you know that 'pho', the name of the classic Korean noodle soup, is actually said "fuh". It is. It's also known for its masses of meaty ingredients-from meat stock to chunks of beef, chicken, shrimp, octopus, squid, mussels, egg, pork, and crab. In California restaurants, there is always a vegetarian option too, but I have no idea how they manage to replicate the amazing broth flavor of traditional pho. I looked up some recipes the other day, and it seems complicated. I'm intimidated by complicated asian recipes becaus eI don't know which boundaries to respect. But I happen to know another soup-loving asian country with very easy recipes: Japan. Erin's gone all trigger-happy with the miso again.

This soup is absolutely the most satisfying, umame-loaded bowl of deeeelish I've made. I just ate it for lunch 3 days in a row. It's not exactly like pho yet, I have to perfect the faux-pho taste (somone stop me), but it's so good you won't care. And you know what, if you are a bento fan, this is a great bento meal. You can easily take along a bowl already made with a side container of chopped mint leaves, onions, chives, chilis, sprouts, or any of the other magnificent pho toppings out there. For those of you with access to a kichen at work, just take the ingredients and enjoy the zen-like process of finely slicing your leeks and ginger root next to all the fools with Campbell's soup cups. You won't notice the funny looks, because the tendency when eating perfect food is to, er, pho-get the world around you...

Vegan Miso Pho (for 1 medium-large lunch. I couldn't finish it all!)
I brought the ingredients to work and made mine there: I premixed the spices, brought the portions of whole veggies, garlic, and onion, and stuck the rice noodles in a tupperware with the tiny sack of seaweed and a plastic-wrapped miso ball (i used the corner of an old ripped produce bag). Learn more about miso balls at Just Bento, Maki's wonderful bento blog.

A single serving of rice noodles, whatever you deem appropriate
2 tbsp Arame seaweed
2 dried mushrooms of choice (shitake would be great, I had some Swiss thing)
1 small carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 leek, sliced into thin rounds
6 little chunks of tofu (opt)

1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch chunk of ginger root, minced
1 dried red chili, chopped, ground, or use a pinch of hot cayenne, paprika, or chili powder
2 tsp dark miso paste
1 tbsp toasted sesame (or other, less delicious) oil

a twist of black pepper
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
4-5 cumin seeds
1/2 tsp anis seeds, if you have them (i didn't)
a dash of nutmeg
salt if desired

garnishes: chopped mint leaves, cilantro, onions, chives, chilis, or mung bean sprouts.

Put the seaweed and mushrooms in 2 cups cold water to soak

Boil 2 cups water, pour it over the rice noodles, and let them sit for a few minutes, or until soft (or follow the directions for your noodles). Drain and set into the bottom of you soup bowl.

In a saucepan, heat the oil and add the spices. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until nothing pops anymore (a minute or two).
Add the ginger, chili, and onion. Stir and keep cooking until the onions are glossy.
Add the leek and tofu, and if necessary, a dash of water. Keep stirring and scraping off any spices that stick to the bottom, until the leeks are tender.

Pour the water with the seaweed and mushrooms into the pan, stir thoroughly, and cover for 1-2 minutes. Keep the heat low enough that it wants to simmer but can't quite. Add the carrots and garlic, and cook for another few minutes, until the carrots are barely cooked, but nowhere near soft. Remove from the heat and stir in the miso by first dissolving it in a spoonful of hot broth. Serve!


Banana Cakes for the Masses

Migros, a massive supermarket chain in Switzerland, seems to hate ripeness. They like their avocados with the squeezability of hand-grenades, their tomatoes the color of blushing porcelain dolls, and the oranges...well, "blond" is not just the variety name.

I know this because the rack of discount items by the door is always filled with the ripest items-already marked half price because obviously the potential of smelling a ripe fruit is grounds for composting. This is especially true with bananas, one of the touchiest fruits known. The acceptable bananas leer their green little smiles at me every time I go in, and if you're like me, and don't plan your cooking projects, there's no time to buy emerald bananas and wait for them to mature.

Point being, Eve struck gold last week and found a bag of about 15 bananas, perfectly ripe and only one or two with a hints of brown spots on the stems, for just over 3 francs. That's called 'a score,' for those of you uninitiated into my mom's shopping world. Anyway, when life hands you bananas, make banana cake. I made two, and it felt good. Real good.

For all you gluten-boycotters, I am very sad to say that one was NOT gluten-free...probably the first gluten-containing product I have made in 2 years. But I made it for the folks at B. Yoga to enjoy, and it seems needless to deal with gluten-free baking for people who mostly don't care...well, I still felt guilty measuring up wheat flour, like a shadow from the past was lurking around the corners of the mixing bowl, but I stayed strong, and the cake was rumored to be good, so you can make it for someone you love but has unfairly strong digestion, or you can just modify that little puppy and see what's what.

The base recipe was for Tried and True Banana Bread from Savvy Vegetarian. I used half spelt, half wheat flour, powdered egg replacer instead of the cornstarch mixture, and margarine instead of oil (unusual, but I had it). I also hucked in the last of the dried bananas, chopped up into rounds. I didn't bother taking a picture, because who cares, it has gluten anyway. Grin...

The other, the edible one, is essentially Karina's Sweet Banana Polenta Cake, from the always fabulous Karina's Kitchen Blog, with just a smidge of Erinization:

I did egg-free, with egg replacer for somewhere around 2 eggs,
random leftover soy creamer for the milk,
margarine for oil,
vanilla bean instead of extract,
an added grated apple because...I can,
and my sugar was actually a blend of 1 tbsp molasses, 2 tbsp agave, and 2 tbsp sugar beet syrup.

I also chopped up a banana and stirred it in to get nice melted banana chunks in the finished cake, which was so good I think I should triple the amount of chopped banana next time-and you should too.


The Chase Daylight Vegan Challenge: Erin's going sugar-free

A good yoga teacher: One whose honesty is never curbed by fear of bluntness.

"You're getting stinky again," a little text in my google chat notified me yesterday. "Maybe it's candida."

momentary glower. Everyone loves being reminded that sweating in the 8th breath of warrior 3, they smell bad. Then a few deep breaths and...shanti, shanti, shanti, "yeah, I know." Because honestly, I do. Three months after my 10 day juice fast, I'm starting to feel a little too much like the pre-fast Erin-cranky, tired, and careless about my food choices. And, sigh, i do sweat again in yoga class, which is a sure sign that I've got some toxins to be released. Granted, as my mom pointed out, fasting is an extreme, and you can't stay at that level of purity and vitality while eating a normal diet forever, but...I have a nagging feeling of needing to reset the balance by doing mini-fasts or other cleansing things for myself every once and a while. Thre month gaps seem like good chunks for a re-evaluatin to take place. Here's my score:

All-around apreciation of eating good, healthy, and eco-friendly food: A+. I love my food, my food loves me, and no one is dying in the process (me from allergies or animals becoming steaks :))
Meal Sizes: B-. Pretty darn good, I ate enough to be full but not stuffed, and listened to when my body was hungry, especially for the first 2 months. But the past 3 weeks have been a bit rollercoastish for my tastes-example: there were 3 days of gobbling white rice dishes last week that sent me into a carb coma the size of Switzerland.
Treats: C. Ouch, slipping a little here. Yes, Erin has a sweet tooth, and rears its head most when the sun starts peeping out. "Why not a little chocolate, why not another cookie? Let's enjoy life French-style..." she says...and she's right, except that the french don't ususally clear the plate of cookies, do they ;)
Allergens: C. So many unfortunate mistakes in this category! I seem to have encountered gluten in evrey shadowy corner this year, and always when i least expect it! definitely need to be a little more reluctant to accept food from other cooks, with at least enough hesitation to get a bonified ingredient run-down first.

Today, I did Shankhaprakshalana (intestinal cleansing), a shatkarma (purification practice) from the Bihar School of Yoga's Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha. Basically, you drink a lot of saltwater early in the morning in between rounds of yoga poses until the laxative effects kick in and, well, you get the idea. after you finish, you rest for 45 minutes and eat kichiri, my favorite indian dish of rice and lentils. Traditionally, the rice and lentils are served with lots of ghee to lubricate the naked intestines, but as a vegan, i opted for a mix of flax and sunflower oils, coldpressed and local. Then you rest for 2 days, eating nothing but kichiri, and for a month after you treat your digestive system like a newborn-non-acidic, mild, comfort foods, like, clearly, kichiri!

Today, in my required relxation hours, I looked around for a nice new vegan blog challenge and I found one just for me: The Chase Daylight Vegan Challenge, where Ryan will be trying a month of vegan food for the frst time. Everyone's invited to join and there are potentially some vegan-licious prizes involved...As I'm already a vegan, I am free to try my own version of the challenge, so I'm going sugar-free for April. I mean really sugar free, not just "granulated sugar free". That's right; no more "dashes of agave" here or "drizzles of maple syrup" there; no water-kefir made from mango syrup (sniffle); and no, no, NO glazed muffins.

But chins up, there is still a lot of room for tasty treats in the sugar-free world. I am allowing SOME fruits, just not acidic fruits. So a few apples and bananas might make it in here and there, and maybe a pear on never know. I am also allowing some prunes at some point, because sometimes, folks, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Otherwise, dried fruit is out for me as well.

and because Candida is a suspect here, let's make it official and chuck out yeasts, fermented foods (oh the tragedy...:( ), white rice and other refined grains and starches.

Yikes! wish me luck!

Look forward to a wealth of yummy savory and teasingly sweet recipes for the month of April. And don't forget to stay updated on the challenge by checking out the updates page here.


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