We still have blueberries in abundance and I’m making blueberry everything. Today I wanted something fast and cooling, so I made up a smoothie. I tried a new ingredient today with great success – fennel. I had a bronze fennel blow over in a recent storm, so had gone out and brought in the huge stem. I cut off all the leaf portions, which were substantial, a stored it in the fridge for use over the next several days.
I “accidentally” pulled the fennel bag out thinking it was something else and decided to give it a try. I was surprised by the combination of flavors and how well they blend, but also, by how strong the fennel leaf is.
Please remember my proportions are always guesstimates. Here’s my new combination:
Blueberry Fennel Smoothie
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 large chard leaf
- 10 medium lettuce leaves
- 3 or 4 bronze fennel leaves (or regular fennel)
- 2 cups blueberries (or more if you like)
Place all ingredients in Vitamix (or blender) and puree. Drink immediately!
Hope you enjoy this unusual taste combination.
What’s your favorite smoothie?
When I became a vegetarian there weren’t a lot of good vegetarian cookbooks, plus most of them were for ovo-lacto vegetarians and I don’t eat eggs. For years I pined away, wishing I could make good muffins, cakes, pancakes, and the like. I tried all the egg replacers and found them to really be lacking. I did manage some decent treat using things like applesauce and yogurt, but sometimes I didn’t want their distinct flavors in what I was preparing.
Finally I began to play around with it myself and found that it is incredibly easy to make everything from cookies to pancakes from one basic recipe. How you make it into each different treat is through how much water you add to the dough, as well as what extras you put in. For instance you will put a lot less water into a cookie dough, than a pancake batter. You’ll add more sugar to cookies, too. In muffins you might want to add dried fruit, nuts, etc. Cookies may have peanut butter or things like that added to it, which all affect the level of water needed.
One of the nice things I found is that, even when I messed up I turned out something edible. Oh, maybe the muffins were a little gooey on the inside or the cookies didn’t flatten out the way I wanted, but they were all edible.
So, here’s my very basic recipe:
Basic Flour Mix
1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Enough water to make batter/dough the consistency you need.
That being said here are a few variations I do for different recipes.
- If I want my cookies to flatten out some I add about ¼ cup sunflower or safflower oil.
- If using peanut butter you’ll need a bit more water.
- When making a sweet treat I use Sucanat, a whole sugar. Not too sweet add ½ cup, really sweet add 1 cup.
- To know how much of a spice to put in, for cookies or muffins, just refer to a recipe in a book and use their recommendation. Just remember spices you use less of, herbs you can use more of. Don’t be tempted to add a bunch more of the spices as it can be very overpowering. If you really want it to be especially cinnamony, then add about ¼ to ½ tsp more.
For cake I have a wonderful recipe that you can mix up right in the 9×13 pan.
Now you can enjoy your treats and have them healthy, too.
One of the things I’m doing right now is trying to find really tasty, healthy snack foods, especially what I call crunchy-salty snacks. We’ve got a good stash of sweet treats, but finding recipes for healthy crunchy-salty snacks has been a challenge. We’re trying to avoid fried foods, too. Often either the list of ingredients or the steps to make something are daunting. As I’ve said before I’m always for tasty and quick.
Anyway, I found this great cracker recipe in Yoga Journal, so I’m going to share it with you.
These were reprinted in YJ from Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor house, 2008).
Seeded Amaranth Crackers
Make 3 dozen crackers
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup amaranth flour
- Coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2-1/2 T olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp each poppy, fennel, sesame, and amaranth seeds
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Preheat the oven 375˚. Line a baking sheet with cooking parchment.
- In a food processor, blend flours, ½ tsp salt, and baking powder. Add 2 Tbsps oil and pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Slowly add water, pulsing just until the dough comes together.
- Scrape out onto a floured board and use a floured rolling pin to roll out a rectangle that is 1/8” thick. Cut into squares and place on baking sheet. Brush with remaining oil and sprinkle with seeds, paprika, and ½ tsp salt.
- Bake until crackers are golden on edges and bottoms, 10-15 minutes.
Soon this will be my own recipe, as I already changed several things. First, I used white whole-wheat flour. Also, I ended up making my own amaranth flour, as I couldn’t find any available in our area. Last I rolled the crackers out on the parchment and then slipped it onto the cookie sheet. Much easier than picking each one up by hand. I cut them with a pizza cutter, worked great! Already my head is busy with different seasonings, flours, oils, etc. I’ll share my permutations with you as they develop. Mostly I needed a cracker recipe that actually came out like a cracker and not like a biscuit and this it perfectly.
Yeow! I was going to include a picture of some crackers in this post, but all I could find was where white pasty junk crackers! So you’ll just have to imagine some beautiful whole grain and seed crackers…
Using fall fruits can make excellent smoothies. Below is a recipe I prepared recently.
- 1 pear, peeled and quartered
- 1 banana, peeled and broken into several pieces
- 4 chard leaves with stems, washed and cut into large pieces
- 1 cup soy milk
- ½ cup vanilla yogurt
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice
Put all ingredients in a high speed blender or Vitamix and puree until smooth.
You can substitute almond or rice milk; ½ cup plain yogurt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, whole sugar to taste; leave out the Chinese five spice, add cinnamon and/or ginger; frozen banana for fresh.
By continuing to drink smoothies into the fall months, you’ll continue to get great nutrition by including leafy greens and fresh fruit in your diet.
This works great as a breakfast drink, or have it ready for the kids when they get home from school.
I have to admit I’m dreading the flight I’m taking tomorrow, just a little. The main reason is that I have a special diet and it is nearly impossible to get food either on the plane or in the airport that meets my needs.
At least this time on the way over I don’t have to worry too much, because it will be after dinner and all I’ll need is something to snack on. I’m taking some peanuts and raisins for that.
Coming home, though I’ll be traveling right through the middle of the day. After years of having a special diet, it is still a challenge to find something easy to pack, that won’t get confiscated or squashed in a carryon.
Not only that, when you have to bring your own food it really cuts into what you can fit into your carryon. When we traveled to India last year about half our carryon was stuffed with food, because we had a full 24-hours from take-off to touch down in India.
If anyone out there has any ideas for vegetarian packable food, that also has no onion, garlic or hot green chilies in it, I’d love to know what it is. Has to be quick and easy to put together, too, because I’m always in rush the day of take-off.
Staying on the theme of apples, since the new crop is coming in now, I’d like to share with you an unusual, but very tasty apple snack. I was told about this idea by a lovely Indian woman when I was in the local international store picking up some spices. She was buying black salt. I had no idea what it was, but it looked interesting, and I like to try interesting things.
In its solid form it looks almost black in color, thus the name. When it is broken into smaller pieces it has a dark pink cast, and the ground salt is pale pink in color. Black salt has an interesting flavor, because of its sulfur content. The sulfur also contributes to its cooked egg smell.
Now, when you read this you may think it sounds disgusting, but surprisingly enough the combination of salt and egg are pretty good. It also has a slightly bitter flavor, too, which becomes pronounced if you use too much, so use it sparingly.
I was told that the lady’s son loved shredded apples with black salt sprinkled over them. He would come home from school and beg for her to fix him some. I thought this was really strange, since I had only ever smelled the salt and not tasted it.
I bought a small amount, took it home, and ground it into a powder in my blender. Take note, it is very hard and will make a huge racket and take some time to powder it. I then used the food processor to make up some shredded apples and sprinkled a tiny bit on one bite. It was fantastic. The combination of the sweet-tart apples I love and the salt, with its slightly sulfury-bitter taste, was an amazing taste.
Black salt is now a regular part of my spice rack. I’ve used it in many savory dishes, and every fall enjoy many bowls of apples and black salt.
You can get it at many international and Indian food stores. If it comes in powdered form I would purchase that, as the chunks are really hard on the blades of a blender and it is hard to get it evenly ground.
So, next time you’re looking for something unusual to snack on, pick up some black salt and your favorite apples, and give it a try.