Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almond Butter Maple Cookies

I loooove the combination of any kind of nut butter and maple syrup.  I sometimes drizzle some maple syrup on my PB toast for breakfast!  These cookies sounded like they'd be delicious, healthy, and not too sweet.

I added 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum to this recipe, since it is gluten-free.  I have read that 1 tsp of xanthan gum should be used per 1 cup gluten free flour, but I have experienced gummy-textured cookies in the past with those measurements, so I decided to try half that amount this time.

I used buckwheat flour in place of wheat, but I think it "competes" too much for flavor with the almond butter.  It makes it hard to know what kind of cookie it really is.  Something to note for next time...

Almond Butter Maple Cookies
Source: Alive Magazine, February 2011 issue

1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup, No.2 or No. 3
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used buckwheat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl combine almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and oil.

Add Dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in almonds.

Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls, place onto cookie sheet lines with parchment paper, and flatten to about 1/3 inch (0.8 cm). Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

Yields 12 large cookies.

Maple Banana Coconut Tea Loaf

For some reason, this photo has come out vertical, even though I shot it in landscape, and it's saved in landscape format on my computer.  Hm.
My original inspiration for this loaf was a Maple Pumpkin one that I saw in a magazine while visiting my parents.  I would definitely like to try this loaf with pumpkin, but I had so many bananas around, so I got inspired to try this loaf with banana instead, and some unsweetened shredded coconut that's been sitting in the pantry for a while.

It's a good, dense load with some crunchiness to it, thanks to the ground cornmeal I used, and the almonds.  I think the banana might be a bit too overpowering for the coconut and maple because I couldn't taste much of either. 

For the tea, I used a good quality Vanilla Earl Grey, and it smells awesome!  I can't wait to have this during my break at training tomorrow...

Maple Banana Coconut Tea Loaf
Source: Alive Magazine, February 2011 issue, Maple Pumpkin Tea Loaf.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (sub stoneground cornmeal)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg (omitted)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (omitted)
1/2 tsp allspice (omitted)
1/4 salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree (sub 2 ripe bananas, mashed)
1 tbsp loose leaf black tea, finely ground
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (sub almonds)
1/2 cup dried cherries (omitted)
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, spices (if using), xanthan gum (if using) and salt.

In separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and mix in maple syrup, oil, pumpkin (or mashed bananas), and black tea.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until all the flour is moist. Fold in walnuts and cherries (if using).

Pout into greased 9x5x3 (2L) loaf pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a tester inserted into centre of loaf comes out clean. Let cool before unmoulding.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Variation on Chicken Adobo and Weekly Menu

I know it's boring to just read weekly menus with no recipes or recipe reviews so I will start (or try) to post recipes of our meals (if we don't succumb to temptation and go out somewhere).

Sunday is the start of a new menu week, and tonight's meal is a variation on Chicken Adobo. I think I've only had this dish once (at a food court), and with all the variations I've seen online, I had no idea what "authentic" Chicken Adobo should taste like or if the recipe I'm using (Real Simple, February 2011 issue) is anything like the real thing. I subbed in carrots and celery for the onions (this could have drastically affected the flavour), and some napa and spinach in place of the bok choy.

I'm trying to make our meals more vegetable-centered, rather than meat, which is why I reduced the amount of chicken to less than half of what the recipe calls for. Japanese cooking (which what I grew up with) mostly uses meat to add flavour dishes, rather than having it be the main thing.

Chicken Adobo with Bok Choy
from Real Simple, February 2011 issue

2 medium onions, sliced (I used 4 stalks of celery, chopped)
4 garlic gloves, smashed
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf
black pepper
8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs, about 1 3/4 pounds (I used 2 boneless thighs and one breast)
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 cup long grain white rice (I used brown rice)
1 large head bok choy, cut into 1 inch strips (I used 2 large handfuls of spinach and 1/4 head of napa cabbage)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (omitted)
(I added 1 large chopped carrot)

In a 5-to-6 quart slow cooker, combine the onions (or celery and carrots), garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle with the paprika.

Cook until the chicken and onions (if using) are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Cook rice according to instructions.

Ten minutes before serving, if the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Gently fold the bok choy (or spinach and napa) into the chicken and cook, covered until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

The verdict: Pulled chicken-like consistency in a tangy (soupy) sauce. I put the carrots and celery in at the beginning, which tasted fine, but as you can imagine, ended up pretty mushy. You see, here's the thing. I love the taste and flavour onions add to dishes, but not the long, stringy, slimy things that end up in my food when I cook them. If I do use them, I usually chop them up very finely so they blend in well with whatever it is I'm making. Since Adobo sauce is quite thin in consistency, I knew I would end up with that stringy, slimy stuff. I knew the chicken needed something to "sit" on in the crockpot. Enter the carrot and celery.

Next time I make this, I will add maybe half an onion, finely diced, place the chicken on top, and then definitely add the carrot 30 minutes before time's up, the celery 15 minutes before, and then the bok choy or napa or whatever it is, 5 minutes before (as per original recipe). Also, the spinach, while tasting lovely, did not make this dish look very pretty. If you've got eaters who are nit-pickers on presentation, you may want to reconsider...

As for this week's menu, here it is:

Sunday: B-a kiwi and a banana (I had an early morning thing), 2nd B (after the thing)-1 over-easy egg, hash browns, and 2 pieces of bacon (at a restaurant); L-full from 2nd B so had a banana, mango, and cashew milk smoothie; D-Chicken Adobo on brown rice.

Monday: B-a kiwi and a banana (another early morning thing); L-leftover lentil chili (yes, eating up that last little bit!); D-Leftover Chicken Adobo on brown rice.

Tuesday: B-Oatmeal (no early morning thing, hurray!); L-Leftover Chicken Adobo; D-Out for Pho

Wednesday: B-Oatmeal; L-Chicken adobo; D-Out for sushi!

Thursday: B-Oatmeal; L- Rice, pickled plum and seasoned seaweed; D-Veggie stir-fry

Friday: B-Oatmeal; L-Chicken salad on crackers; D-Out for dinner at a restaurant but we're having Peking Duck for sure!

Saturday: B-Oatmeal; L-spelt toast, hummus, veggies, goat yogurt; D-Sushi

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Menu Planning 1/16/2011 - 1/22/2011

It's been hard to keep up with this menu planning thing! You can't plan a craving, or predict that you'll be feeling too lazy one night, or in the mood for anything but lentil when all you've got for protein in the pantry are lentils. We cheated quite a bit last week. By cheat, we did the things were were trying NOT to do: eat out; eat processed food; eat wheat, dairy, too much sodium, processed sugar, alcohol, etc. I'll *try* and be better this week... Can't make any promises, though!

Well, we have a LOT of leftover lentil chili... I already put one large container in the freezer, but can't decide if we should just suck it up and eat the other half this week, or freeze that as well.

This week was off to a not-so-great start... Not a bad one, but not so great, either.

Menu for the week of 1/16/11 - 1/22/11

Sunday: B- Gluten-free french toast; L- ; D- Leftover dips with bread and veggies

Monday: B/L- Dimsum! D- Leftover lentil chili

Tuesday: B- Oatmeal; L- Leftover dimsum and fresh veggies; D- Out for Vietnamese food (Chicken Bun)

Wednesday: B- Oatmeal; L- Husband's leftover turkey burger and fries; D-Leftover lentil chili

Thursday: B- Oatmeal; L- Lentil chili; D- Pork sausages, steamed veggies, and brown rice

Friday: B- Oatmeal; L- Leftover pork sausages, veggies, and rice; D- Dinner out with friends. Beer and fried appies... (hangs head in shame)

Saturday: B- Eggs on rice, fruit L- small lunch of tortilla chips and spinach dip (ate breakfast late); D- The last of the leftover lentil chili!

I found at least 2 new recipes I'd like to try from Real Simple magazine, the February issue. I just hope I can remember to take pictures of Chicken Adobo and Egg and Veggies on Rice.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weekly Menu Planning 1/9/2011 - 1/15/2011

We finished off last week on a failed note with two very bad meals, and booze! It does make it hard when we are out with friends, and ordering a boring over-priced salad just seems wrong. We also started off this week on a failed note as well!

B- Egg and spelt toast; L-FAIL! Too tired to cook, craving junk so went to a pub for a sandwich and beer; D-too stuffed from our late lunch but the husband had some tortilla chips as a snack.

Monday: B- Oatmeal; L- Leftover pub sandwich; D - Ground chicken and sausage meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Tuesday: B- Kiwi, and spelt toast with PB; L - Leftover meatloaf and veggies; D - Chicken and vegetable barley soup

Wednesday: B - Oatmeal; L - Leftover chicken soup; D - Miso soup as a meal (with veggies, tofu and yam noodles)

Thursday: B - Oatmeal; L - Leftover miso soup; D - Went out for Mexican food (hangs head in shame)

Friday: B - Oatmeal; L - Leftover Mexican food; D - Ground pork and lentil chili.

Saturday: B - Oatmeal; L - Leftover chili; D - Spinach and artichoke dip, roasted red pepper dip with gluten-free bread, cut up bell peppers and celery for dipping.

Oooh, I just remembered that I have a batch of pureed cabbage and celery soup in the freezer! I might save it for some other week, when supplies in the pantry are waning (more than they already are, that is...)

I need to start blogging the meals I make as well...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Menu Planning 1/2/2011-1/9/2011

WMP... It's one of those things that sounds easy. I think about it while drifting off to sleep, riding on the bus, or walking to the gym. Each idea is followed with thoughts of, "yeah, I could totally make that" and "that could totally be frozen for future lunches" Yet, when it comes to putting pen to paper and actually writing it all out I blank out.

Well, now that it's a new year, I would like to actually make this happen. We've tried in the past, and some weeks are more successful that others, and sometimes plans change when we've been invited out at the last minute, or we realize we're going to be out of town for the weekend so we have to use up those veggies sitting in the fridge.

One of my goals for menu planning is be more cost effective. I'll plan meals around what's on sale at the supermarket. The other goal is for health. We're booked to go to Vegas in February, and I'm determined to spend some time at the hotel pool. My body has not touched water (except for showers) for way too long. Even if it's chlorinated water, I think some sun and pool-time will cure the winter blahs of February. By having the ingredients on hand and a clear idea of what I'm making, I hope there will not be the impulse to say "screw it!" and head off to our local pub or some other place.

I'm going to try to eat as cleanly as possible, and to follow the advice of Naturopath Dr. J. Matsen. I learned so much about digestion by reading his book and visiting his office. I also learned my sensitivities, and by avoiding them, I saw so many improvements in my weight and complexion.

Snacks between meals will be hummus with tortilla chips or wheat-free crackers, fruit, and nuts. The husband's line of work doesn't really allow for "snack time" during the day, but having these available around the kitchen will hopefully curb the urges to grab and inhale a whole bag of chips.

So here is what I have so far, for the week of 1/2/2011 - 1/9/2011

Sunday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover breakfast links (1 for me, 2 for the husband), 1 boiled egg each, and 1 slice of yeast-free spelt bread; D-Pureed cabbage soup with pork sausage.

Monday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover cabbage soup, 1 slice spelt bread; D-Baked salmon (salt, lemon and wheat-free soy), broccoli, carrots and peas.

Tuesday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover salmon, veggies and brown rice; D-Japanese hotpot.

Wednesday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover hotpot; D:More leftover hotpot.

Thursday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover hotpot; D-Beer can chicken with roasted root vegetables

Friday: B-Oatmeal; L-Leftover chicken; D-Chicken salad with spelt bread

Saturday: B-Oatmeal; L-Detox FAIL (met up with friends in the city, had calamari and beer!), ; D-FAIL again (had dinner in the city as well. Veggie burger with fries and another beer!)

OK, so you can see that we started out well but failed miserable at the end. It's like once we allow ourselves to eat processed wheat, dairy, meat and alcohol, our body just craves more. *Sigh*

On the leftover front, I'm lucky that the husband has no problems with eating leftovers. I like to change up leftovers by adding something to it, and Japanese hotpot is probably one of the easiest things for that. We add rice, noodles, more tofu, or more meat to make it as light or as hearty as we need. It does get tiring, though and I think the monotony is what made us crave bad food.

As for the whole chicken we made on Thursday, it leaves a plethora of options for leftovers. Here are some of my usual recipes:

WC leftover option 1: Chicken salad
leftover chicken
good mayonnaise (made with real eggs, good oil, and low sugar). I like Spectrum brand.
chopped veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, etc.
optional: chopped marinated artichokes, chopped olives, a sharp cheese, a chopped boiled egg
salt and pepper

WC leftover option 2: Chicken soup
This is a pretty obvious one. I like to use these soups to add veggies I don't always know what to do with. Such veggies include kale, chard, and beet tops. I know they are high in nutritional value but don't really like them fried. When they are in soups, they get soft and break down nicely, making them easy to eat.

WC leftover option 3: Fresh salad rolls
Roll up with shredded chicken, matchstick carrots, cucumber, lettuce, thin rice noodles, and a few sprigs of cilantro. I usually make a "lazy" dip with hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and a bit of water to thin it out. If I happen to have thai basil on hand (which I usually don't), that adds a nice flavor to it.

Wish us better luck for next week...