Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spaghetti squash with sweet potato coulis and almond-crusted tofu

I was fortunate to spend three days at the end of September doing one of my favorite things---backpacking! Pictures are worth a thousand words for why I enjoy hiking/backpacking.

Nika and Misha provide extra warmth on a cold night in the woods.
 Fall backpacking means special moments spent snuggling with your snow hounds in your tent.

Box Lake (McCall, Idaho) landscape painted in fall colors
Fall backpacking means the whole forest is ablaze with brilliant colors of red, yellow and orange.

More fall colors at Box Lake
What's not to love about fall backpacking? You spend uninterrupted time (no cellphones or computers) with fellow hikers and pooches, and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Nika and Misha enjoy spending quality time with their pet parents.
What a great end to September! And now, how about a great meal?

Spaghetti squash with sweet potato coulis, asparagus succotash and almond-crusted tofu
My garden is brimming with spaghetti squash and other winter squashes too. While in Bend, Ore., awhile back, I ordered a dinner of Spaghetti Squash with sweet potato coulis, asparagus succotash and almond-crusted tofu. It was a dinner made in heaven for me. I decided to replicate the recipe at home using one of my home-grown spaghetti squash.

Ingredients for two meals:

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 medium sweet potato
2 granny smith apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
lemon juice, stevia and coconut nectar to taste
1/2 bunch asparagus
1 medium zucchini
olive oil
1/2 package extra firm tofu
2 T. almond butter
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder

For spaghetti squash:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and split squash in half; remove seeds. Place squash in a baking pan filled with 1 cup of water. Season squash halves with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Bake about 30 minutes until tender. Note: there is an alternative method of baking the squash whole but I prefer the splitting and seeding method. Remove from oven and allow to cool before scooping out the spaghetti squash strands.

For sweet potato coulis:
Dice sweet potato and granny smith apples (no need to peel). Place on a large baking sheet sprayed with pan spray. Toss with small amount of olive oil and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake at 425 degrees until tender.  Allow to cool slightly. Make coulis by pureeing diced sweet potato and apple pieces with lemon juice, stevia and coconut nectar to taste in a food processor. Add more liquid for a thinner coulis. The coulis will taste sweet. Set aside.

For almond-crusted tofu:
Slice tofu into two or three rectangles. Prepare the almond marinade/dressing by mixing 2 T. almond butter with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 2 T. olive oil. Mix in cumin, chili powder and a dash of stevia powder. Dilute with a bit of water to make a medium thick dressing/marinade. Rub some of the marinade/dressing all over the tofu pieces. Reserve the extra for dressing for serving. Place the tofu on a sprayed baking sheet and pop in the 425-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Flip the pieces after about 7-8 minutes. Continue baking until crisp and golden. Set aside.

For the asparagus succotash:
Chop the asparagus spears into 1/2-inch pieces. Dice the zucchini. Saute in a skillet with olive oil until tender.

For serving:
Scoop out the flesh of the squash. Put half on each plate. Top squash with asparagus succotash. Add a slice of tofu and several spoonfuls of coulis to each plate. Drizzle some extra almond marinade/dressing on the tofu if desired.

Recipe contributed to:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chunky monkey ice cream makeover

Hey, I want some chunky monkey ice cream too!
Nika got a new bone for robust chewers for her first birthday. Having survived one year with the "Big Red" bone crusher, I felt I deserved something too. Here's a brief look back at year No. 1 with the 90+-pound Clifford want-to-be.

Since she entered our household, I see my physical therapist more than I see my husband. I have been transformed into a night owl because Nika goes "psycho" with energy every night at midnight. I have spent more time up in the wee hours (taking Nika for walks to do her business) than I ever did with my human kids. Our fencing budget keeps growing to keep pace with Nika's growth and jumping ability. I have cleaned up enough drool to fill a large swimming pool and vacuumed enough dog hair to knit sweaters for a herd of elephants (that's if elephants wore sweaters).

Why do I put up with her? Her tail just about comes off every time she sees me. She has boundless love and enthusiasm for life which is catching. And like all dogs, she provides unconditional love.

"Spunky" monkey ice cream (my version)

Still, I think I deserve something just for having survived one year with the "Big Red" dynamo who sometimes reminds me of a cross between a monkey (curiosity and energy) and gorilla (size and strength). I haven't eaten a banana in five+ years, thanks to candida and delayed food allergy, which makes bananas (high glycemic) taboo. But in honor of monkey-gorilla girl Nika, I decided to "go bananas."

I created a makeover version of Chunky Monkey ice cream. I left out most of the bananas (just used half of one) and filled in with frozen pear. I dubbed this recipe Spunky Monkey Ice Cream in honor of Nika who definitely is "spunky." In fact, the owner of her dog parents referred to her as spunky even as a wee pup.

I added lots of protein to this recipe to counter the carbs of the bananas and pears. I topped my creation with additional frozen bananas and pear pieces, dipped in melted chocolate sauce. Other topping possibilities would be cookie dough or brownie pieces, nuts or seeds, or chocolate hard shell.

Spunky Monkey Ice Cream
Ingredients for one large serving or two small:

1/4 cup of unsweetened regular coconut milk (not full fat unless you want it)
1/2 frozen banana cut into pieces (reserve a piece or two for topping)
1/2 frozen pear diced (reserve a few pieces for topping)
1-2 T. unsweetened sunbutter or other nut/seed butter of choice
1-2 scoops vegan plain rice protein
1 T. Dandy Blend
liquid vanilla stevia drops
optional: stir in some walnut or other nuts, pieces of cookie dough or brownie

Put everything into your food processor and blend until mostly smooth but slightly chunky. The ice cream will be fairly thick but you may want to firm it up  a bit more by transferring the mixture to a container and placing it in the freezer while you prepare your toppings.

For the toppings, dip the reserved frozen banana and pear pieces in a chocolate sauce. I make mine by melting 2 T. of coconut oil and adding 3 T. of cacao powder, 1/2 T. Dandy Blend  and vanilla stevia drops to taste. Sometimes I throw in 1 T. of sunbutter to increase the creaminess. You also can melt Enjoy Life chocolate chips or other hard chocolate.
Place the dipped fruit pieces on wax paper to allow the chocolate shell to harden. Place these chocolate-dipped fruit pieces in the freezer until ready to use.

Take the Spunky Monkey out of the freezer to allow to soften up slightly. Serve 1-2 scoops per person and top with chocolate-dipped fruit.

Hey, how come I didn't get anything for putting up with Gigantor (A.K.A. Nika)?

Recipe contributed to:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dandy Blend bean fudge

Nika and Bailey hassle Misha, on ground.
The fur kids recently had a play date with one of their pals, Bailey, a four-year-old husky-malamute.
"Come on guys. Give me a break. I'm the smallest kid on the block."
How about a sled dog team? We could put all this energy to good use. These three would have almost 220 pounds of  pulling power.

It's too hot. Where's the snow?
Can you believe it when there is snow on the ground, they'll have even more energy!

Blackberry jam pancakes
Well, at least, they used up too much energy to go berry picking in my blackberry patch. Berry season is winding down but at least I picked enough berries this week to make another batch of blackberry chia jam which I used for my favorite pancakes, Blackberry Jam Pancakes.

Ingredients for 2 servings (makes 2 medium pancakes each)
(suitable for ACD-maintenance)

1 chopped peach or nectarine
1/2 cup quinoa flour
2 chia eggs
1 tsp. baking powder (gluten-free)
pinch of salt
1 cup blackberry chia jam (1 cup fresh or thawed frozen blackberries, 2 T. chia seed)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. tahini mixed with 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Olive oil and/or pan spray

Prepare blackberry jam by pureeing blackberries with 2 T. chia seed in a food processor. This can be done the night ahead. Store the jam in the fridge.
Chop a peach or nectarine into small pieces and set aside.
Mix the quinoa flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Mix the tahini and almond milk in a separate smaller bowl. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add additional almond milk if needed. Mix in 1/4-1/2 of the chopped nectarine pieces.
Heat a skillet or cast-iron griddle pan over medium heat. Oil the pan.
To cook, drop about a 1/4-cup of batter per pancake in the pan. Cook about 2 minutes per side.
Serve with fresh blackberries, nectarine/peach and blackberry chia jam.

Dandy Blend bean fudge
Never forget the most important food group of the day---chocolate.

Dandy Blend Bean Fudge
(suitable for ACD-maintenance or ACD-phase 2 if using only stevia for sweetener)
  1. 1 can on canellini beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 3 T. raw cacao powder
  3. 2 T. coconut nectar + stevia to taste
  4. 2 T. melted coconut oil
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 1/2 cup sunbutter, unsweetened
  7. 1 T. Dandy Blend
  1. Blend ingredients items No. 1-7 in food processor.  Spread in a 8-inch square baking pan, lined with parchment paper or spray with pan spray. Place in the freezer to allow to firm up. Cut into bite-sized pieces and store in the freezer until ready to enjoy.
These recipes were contributed to:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Coconut blackberry crisp

Dog bones with your fuel in Bend, Ore.
Would you like some dog bones with your fuel? I traveled to one of the most dog-friendly cities (Bend, Ore.) in the U.S. recently but without my snow hounds, Misha and Nika. They missed out on getting dog bones at the gas station and on all the other dog-friendly experiences Bend has to offer. Unfortunately, the car was too packed for pups as we were traveling to Bend for my Ritalin Boy hubby to participate in a road bike race.

My new cat pal
When you're used to being around pets 24-7, you have to get your fur fix even when away from your fur kids. I adopted a little tiger kitty that kept visiting the condo where we were staying with a group of other folks.

Another furry pal in the midst of a stone sculpture garden
I also kept visiting a manx kitty up the street from where we were staying.
Crazy metal cat sculpture
In fact, everywhere I looked I was reminded of my fur kids.  It was like the first time my husband and I left our human kids with the grandparents for the weekend. It was hard to not worry about them.

Yes, this was the view of the Deschutes River from our condo. Yes, I still kept thinking of the fur kids. Of course, I had a good time but next time, I plan to take the fur kids along.

Coconut blackberry crisp
 The blackberries were waiting to be picked and eaten when we returned. I made everyone happy with a coconut blackberry crisp, and then there were blackberry jam pancakes (recipe in next post). Yum! I was in blackberry heaven.

Blackberry jam pancakes
Coconut Blackberry Crisp
(suitable for ACD-maintenance)
  • 8 cups blackberries
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar plus stevia to taste for berries and another 1/2 cup for topping
  • 2 T. chia seed for mixing with berries and another 1 T. for topping
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional but delicious)
  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or other seeds or nuts of choice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • In a large bowl, toss blackberries with 1/4 cup coconut sugar and stevia to taste, 2 T. chia seed, juice of one lemon
  • Place the berry mixture in a 10X10-inch baking pan, sprayed or greased with a dab of coconut oil
  • In a medium bowl, mix the quinoa flakes, amaranth flour, 1/4 cup coconut flakes, 1 T. chia, 2 T. melted coconut oil, 1/2 cup chopped almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Spread this topping mixture on top of the berries in the pan.
  • Bake in the oven, preheated at 375 degrees, for 30-35 minutes.
  • Serve warm or cold with vegan ice cream, yogurt or just plain. It's delish!
Contributed to:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunbutter and blackberry jam overnight parfait

Misha makes quick work of berry picking.
Berry picking is in full swing at my mini-farm. We've got blackberries and golden raspberries coming out of our ears which is a good thing! I've even got two four-legged berry pickers. I would have two amazing berry pickers if I could get Misha and Nika, my husky and malamute, to pick the berries rather than eat the berries.

More, more, more
Even with all the dogs' nibbling, I still have berries galore. I've been using blackberries, especially, to make blackberry crisp, blackberry pancakes and just today, Sunbutter and Blackberry Jam Overnight Parfaits. I was thinking peanut butter and jelly when I put this recipe together.

Don't they look delicious? They are good for you too with an abundance of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Sunbutter and Blackberry Jam Overnight Parfait
 (suitable for ACD-phase 3)

1/2 cup quinoa flakes (or rolled oats)
1 T. chia seed
1 scoop vegan protein powder
stevia to taste
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
blackberry chia jam (1 cup blackberries and 1 T. chia seed)
1 T. unsweetened sunbutter
extra blackberries for garnish or just popping in your mouth

Mix together the quinoa flakes, chia seeds, protein powder, stevia and almond milk in a storage container and place in the fridge overnight.
Make blackberry chia jam. Place blackberries and chia seed in your food processor and puree. Store in the fridge overnight.
In the a.m., assemble the parfaits. Put sunbutter in a small bowl and thin slightly by adding some almond milk and vanilla stevia drops.
To make the parfaits, layer the overnight quinoa, sunbutter and blackberry chia jam in a tall glass. Garnish with additional blackberries.

Stay tuned for more blackberry recipes! This recipe submitted to: