Monday, September 21, 2009

Gluten-free Tomato Tart

I love having a colorful array of red grape tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes and orange cherry tomatoes on my plate. It's visually appealing and delicious. The best part is I have an abundant supply of them right now in my garden. The only drawback I can think of is I have to pick them but it's worth the effort.

Finding ways to use up my baby tomato crop is no problem for me. I enjoy them on salads (now that I can eat salads again) and in stir-fries, kabobs, and with grilled veggies. I seldom eat pizza or anything like it because I am on the anti-candida diet (ACD) to remove excess fungus from my body, and restore the balance of good and bad bacteria.

But I couldn't resist trying my little tomatoes on a gluten-free tomato tart, just once during the tomato season. It was yummy and scrumptious but the crust had a light texture from the addition of baking powder and soda which was something different for me. I have been mainly eating, on occasion, garbanzo bean breads with no soda or baking powder added. Therefore, this tart was a real treat!

Gluten-free Tomato Tart

Crust Ingredients:
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 T. olive oil
2 T. tahini butter
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

Topping Ingredients:

1/4 pkg. Silken tofu
1 T. olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
sea salt to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 cups grape, pear and cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Optional: parmessan, feta or goat cheese (Not for me on the ACD diet.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with pan spray.

In a large bowl, combine the garbanzo bean and rice flour. (Note: you can change the ratio of rice to bean flour. More rice flour will give the crust more of a light, airy texture.) Add the flax seeds, baking powder and soda, and salt. Blend and set aside.

In a food processor, blend the tahini, olive oil and soy milk. Pour into the larger bowl with the flours and stir to blend.

Using wet hands, press the dough into a rectangle or best approximation, about 12 X 7 inches. directly onto the cookie sheet. Wet the hands again if necessary. Ridge the edges of the dough with your fingers. Bake the dough for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, blend in your food processor, the Silken tofu, olive oil, garlic clove and salt. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the tofu sauce evenly over the crust. Arrange the basil leaves and tomatoes on top of the sauce. Put the tart back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so. The time may be longer if you decide to play with the ratio of flours. Basically, the more rice flour you add, the longer the baking time. Remove from the oven when the tart is just getting slightly crispy.

Cut into about eight pieces. Serve alongside a nice garden veggie salad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curried tempeh

Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchinis, melons, green beans, oh my! That's 475 pounds of produce from one day's picking from our community garden in the photo above. The garden is on a half-acre piece of ground and has produced so much without the aid of fertilizer or chemicals that I feel like an organic farmer. By season's end, we should have harvested 4,500 pounds of produce and 1,500 pounds of pumpkins at a value of about $4,000. However, the garden is not for profit but rather to benefit the local Salvation Army.

The fact that we have provided organic produce to families in need makes me feel especially good. I recently read an article in the Aug. 31 issue of Time magazine, "America's Food Crisis and How to Fix It." The article focused on U.S. farming practices where produce is grown with tons of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and meat animals are dosed with antibiotics and growth hormones. The goal of the article was to get us thinking about changing the way our country grows and consumes food because right now, we are on track to scarier germs (from antibiotic overuse in meat animals), eroded farmland and higher health costs.

After reading that article, I felt even better about the organic produce our garden has yielded. It also got me thinking about the meat I eat. I've always opted for conventionally grown meat because of the high cost of organic. But after reading the article, I realized that all needed to change. I don't eat that much meat, mainly fish with chicken and turkey sprinkled in here and there. So, I decided it wouldn't break the bank to eat organic poultry. Actually, it might save me money in the long run if I stay healthier because of it.

At the same time, I decided to add more vegetarian meals to my diet. One of my new favorites is curried tempeh, pictured below. It makes a great dinner or anytime meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) for someone like me on an eating plan where carbs are kept to a minimum. It's also a great way to use up some of my garden produce (herbs, tomatoes, onions, zucchini). Note: I only recently added tempeh back into my diet because I was rechecked for candida and it was at a normal level again. Even so, I only eat tempeh occasionally. Tempeh is a fermented food and should normally be avoided by those on an ACD diet unless they have been cleared by their doctor. At least as far as I know, that is the case.

Curried Tempeh (2 servings)
1 package tempeh (I used organic, multi-grain soy tempeh.)
1/2 cup vegetable broth (Read the label for added sugar if you are doing ACD.)
2 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (I used about a one-inch piece of ginger root.)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1 tsp. garam masala spice
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (Other alternative milks works too.)
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 handful chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
Optional: cooked brown rice
Crumble the tempeh into a large skillet and add the vegetable broth. Heat over medium heat until broth bubbles. Then, lower the heat, cover the skillet with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the tempeh and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and zucchini, and saute. Add the tomato, cumin, bay leaves, cardamon, garam masala, turmeric and coriander, and cook one more minute. Lower the heat and add the soy milk and tahini. Stir to mix; cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fresh herbs and heat for just a bit more. Serve over hot rice. Another option is to serve over stir-fried veggies for a more ACD-friendly meal.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate-Avocado Tarts

What do you do when you are up to your eyeballs in fresh produce from your garden? You get busy making all kinds of concoctions with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, green beans, cantaloupes, carrots, beets, etc. If you are a gardener, you know what I'm talking about.
But you also might want a chocolate-avocado tart for dessert to go along with your garden veggie meal. Well, at least, I did, and it turned out absolutely scrumptious as a post meal treat. My photo above does not do its "deliciousness" justice. I discovered that avocadoes, which I love, make a great base for a dessert where you cannot use flour, eggs, dairy/butter or sugar. This avocado tart has inspired me to explore other chocolate treat possibilities with avocado as an ingredient.
Chocolate-Avocado Tart (makes 2 five-inch tarts or 4 smaller ones)
1 cup shredded, dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 T. tahini
1 T. cacao nibs
1 ripe avocado
10 drops stevia (alcohol free); use 2 T. agave nectar if you are not following the Anti-Candida Diet
2 tsp. chia seeds
2 T. dark baking cocoa
3-4 T. unsweetened soy milk
Spray the tart pans with pan spray or line with parchment paper. I used tart pans with removable bottoms so I got away with just using pan spray.
In a food processor, process the coconut, seeds, cacao nibs and sea salt into a coarse meal. Add the tahini (almond butter or sunbutter will work too) and process to combine to a dough-like consistency. Press the "dough" along the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans. It helps to wet your hands to keep the "dough" from sticking to your hands.
In the same processor (not necessary to clean before going on), blend the avocado, baking cocoa, chia seeds, stevia and soy milk until very smooth. Spoon the mixture evenly into your tart pans.
Freeze the tarts until firm. Remove them from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fruit or additional cacao nibs. I didn't have individual-sized tart pans so I cut each larger tart into four pieces but don't be shy about eating more. It's hard to resist!