Chocolate Cake made with Beans!

I found this recipe in Japanese gluten free recipe blog. This cake is made with beans instead of flour! I have not have a chance to actually make this cake yet, but I thought this is such an interesting recipe so I decided to translate it here!

Ingrediants (18 cm diameter cake)

  • 2 cups of Cooked Aduki beans or a can of Aduki beans (425 g)
  • 5 eggs
  • A few drops of Vanilla essence
  • Brown sugar 80-100g (or other natural sweetener)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, soften
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp water

Direction

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease and place a cooking sheet in a cake pan (18 cm).
  2. In a food processor, put Aduki beans, 3 eggs, salt, and vanilla essence and mix well until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, put butter and sugar and using a mixer, mix them well until it becomes like a cream. Add rest of 2 eggs (one by one) and mix them well together for 2 min.
  4. Mix baking powder and cocoa powder in a different bowl, and add this powder mixture into butter mixture little by little while mixing slowly, then add water in the end.
  5. Add the bean mixture into butter mixture slowly and mix well with mixer for another 2 min.
  6. Put them in a cake pan and bake for 50 min.

The blog is: http://glutenfree.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2009/06/post-d444.html

Herbs for Chicken Soup

I was making a chicken soup today, and thought it’ll be great to share some of the herbs you can add in your chicken soup (or any food, of cause) which can help you fighting a cold! I will list by its actions:

  • Antiviral: onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, summer savory, oregano, cinnamon, licorice, turmeric, sage
  • Antibacterial: garlic, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric
  • Sore throat: sage, thyme, ginger
  • Stuffy nose: thyme, coriander, rosemary, garlic, fenugreek, licorice
  • Improve immune system: ginger, licorice, oregano, rosemary, shiitake mushroom
  • Cough: cayenne, ginger, fennel, anise, cardamon (spasmodic cough)
  • Chills: ginger, cayenne

As you can see, your kitchen herbs are quite a wonderful medicine! I recommend you to try tasting the herbs a bit, and learn the taste, so you can start to imagine what food it may go well together. Enjoy cooking!

Note: there are more herbs that are indicated to specific symptoms. It is always better to get some professional advise.

Burdock & Cumin Rice

Burdock (Gobo) is one of my favorite vegetable.


The “bur” part of burdock is more know in Canada to play with, but in Japan, we love eating the root.  Burdock is also a well know herb for detoxification in botanical medicine world. The whole plant can be used medicinally (even the bur!), and the root is know as a “blood cleanser” and it improves the eliminating function of skin, kidney and lymphatics. So I love the idea of eating burdock from a therapeutic point of view as well.

The actual taste of the burdock is surprisingly present to many people (I have cooked burdock to Canadians and people loved it!). This recipe is one of my favorite ones with a little Japanese and Middle Eastern flair to it. It goes well with many type of dishes and is also one of the less challenging recipes for the first time burdock cooking.

Healing herbs in your food, it’s a tasty way to improve your health!

Ingredients for 2:

  • 1/2 fresh burdock (gobo) root*, washed well
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seed (whole)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water (this depends on the type of rice you are using, please adjust it!)
  • 1 tsp soy souce
  • Sesame seed and chopped fresh coriander leaves optional for topping

*In Toronto, you can get a fresh burdock root at most of the Japanese, Korean, or Chinese supermarket.

Derection:

Using a peeler or knife, cut the burdock root into thin strips (note: you can use whole part of burdock and don’t need to peel it). Heat up the soup pot with a medium-high temperature, and put olive oil and cumin seed. Stir well until the aroma of cumin seed increases. Add burdock and stir well until the burdock gets tender. Add brown rice and mixed well with the rest, then add water and soy source. Cook until the rice is done (add more water as needed). For a garnishing, sprinkle sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves.

How to Eat Seaweed?

I had a workshop on Seaweed in September to introduce the richness of its nutrition and how to cook them. To me, seaweeds are almost like a snack or everyday food; however I have learned people who are not familiar with seaweeds tend to not like it or does not know how to use it.

One of the eye opening experience for me was an opportunity I had in this past summer in Brittany. I took a Seaweed Tour run by a local chiropractic doctor. He had introduced me how to recognize, harvest, and cook them in French way! From that experience I started to develop a few recipes that is more adaptable to North American cultures. So here is one of the recipes, Wakame Pesto, which was the best hit in the Seaweed workshop I did. Wakame is a brown algae which you may have tasted in Miso soup at Japanese restaurant. It is rich in iron, vitamin K, calcium and magnecium. All of these are great for preventing osteoporoses!

Wakame Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 handful dried wakame, soak in water and make them expand, and drained
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 5-10 fresh basil leaves

Derection:

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend them until smooth. Use on bread as a spread, mix in pasta or use as a base of salad dressing. Note: this recipe makes wakame to be not as slimy, but if it is still slimy to your tongue, you can increase the amount of sunflower seeds and olive oil to make it smoother.

Autumn Squash Soup

I was asked to make a big soup for a gathering, and was thinking to make something seasonal…and decided to make squash and sweet potato soup.My friend brought beautiful squashes from the garden, and the creation in a kitchen started!

This soup actually contains a variety of vegetables that makes the flavour and nutrition to be rich! I usually use whole vegetables, including the skin, where most of the nutrients are highly concentrated. Also I used a dried kelp for a soup stock instead of the pre-made one. With all the vegetables in, people will never notice there is a seaweed…but the trace mineral from kelp will be still added to the soup! Enjoy this autumn soup to warm your self and your heart!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium squash, (my favorite one to use is butter cup squash, it has a nice sweet taste)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk (can use soy or coconut)
  • pinch salt, black pepper, paprika, cinnamon, clove
  • a table spoon honey (optional)
  • 1″ x 2″ piece of dried kelp
  • Toping: pumpkin seed, roasted in 350F oven for 5-10 min

Direction

  1. In a big pot, put olive oil, onion and ginger and saute on medium-low heat until onion becomes golden. Add celery and continue sauteing.
  2. Cut squash, carrot, sweet potato in a one bite size and add all to the pot, stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add water and kelp in the pot, bring the heat to high and let it boil slowly. Stir the vegetable occasionally. When it starts to boil, add red peppers and bring the heat down to medium-high and continue cooking vegetables until all the root vegetables are tender.
  4. When vegetables are all tender, take out kelp. By using a mixer, blender, or hand mixer, blend the soup into puree.
  5. season with salt, pepper, other spices, and honey, add almond milk and stir well.
  6. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle some roasted pumpkin seeds

Nutrition 101

Last week, I met a nutritionist who teaches holistic way of nutrition. I visited his website, and is a full of great information and fun to read! So I wanted to share the website here. This is a great site for a basic FAQ on nutrition.

Breath, read, and do try something that you learn from this site!

www.anthonydipasquale.com

Slow Food Weekend

When the weather is getting chilly like this, I like staying in home and do something fun at home.

On a cosy weekend, I used to love when my family spontaneously decide to make some “challenging” food together from scratch…like Indian dinner (of cause with home made naan!), taco shells, udon noodles…etc. We search the recipes, go to shopping, and enjoying the time of making food together. It was a whole day family activity, and in the end of the day, we always had a great family dinner!

Those are still great family memories to me, and also that is where I learned to appreciate food and cooking. I believe we all benefit from experiencing the effort, time, and love it takes to make a whole meal, especially when you make something you usually buy in a package at the super market.

Slow Food:

You may heard about Slow Food before. Slow food is not a type of food; rather it is a movement that has started in Italy for people to appreciate the local and/or traditional food instead of pre-cooked or fast food. It is also a choice of people to “cook own food”.

I do recommend especially kids to have a SLOW FOOD WEEKEND. You just decide to make something together with a whole family. To appreciate the slow food, try to make something from local and/or seasonal ingredisnts and also try to make your favorite packaged-food from scratch. It can be simple like pancake, bread to pasta or you can also have fun going into a research on cultural food that is SO different from yours!

I still do this spontaneous slow food weekend…the next food to make on my list is Ethiopian food (and make Injara, fermented pancake like bread, myself!)

I hope this Thanks Giving weekend is Giving you some Slow, Quality time!

Fermentation Basics

Fermentation is an ancient technique of preserving food; examples are like  sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, wine, miso, tempe, natto, kimchi…to name a few. The fermentation occurs through the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein by microorganisms and because of these, the food becomes even more beneficial to the body. Some benefits are:

  1. Probiotics: The microorganisms that facilitate the fermentation are beneficial to the body, so called “good bacteria”. They aid digestion, support immune function, and improve metabolisms
  2. Increase Nutritious Values: Microorganisms make more nutrients available for us. Fermentation food typically has more vitamin Bs (including B12), vitamin C, Vitamin K and more. Also Fermentation process reduce anti-nutrition such as phytates in soy and goitrogens raw cabbage family.
  3. Prevention: cold and flu, cancer (there are many studies in breast and colon), obesity (by improving metabolisms), heart disease (especially natto).
  4. Taste: most of the fermented foods are considered as gourmet in many cultures. This is because the taste that is created by the microorganisms stimulates a specific taste buds and as you eat more, it becomes more irresistible…

The important thing to know is commercially prepared foods are sometimes not the real fermented food (especially the pickle, olive, processed cheese, some yogurt), thus do not contain these benefit we talked above. This is because processed foods need to be consistent in taste, also fast and cheap to make; thus the process of creating these food does not go through fermentation.

The great news is that the preparation of the fermented vegetable is actually REALLY SIMPLE and EASY! I usually make fermented vegetables in small quantity while I am cooking some other meal, so it doesn’t really take a much effort and time to make it. Take a look of this YouTube video by Sandor Kats, the author of Wild Fermentaion. He is one of the active pioneers who is reviving fermenting cultures.

Video: How to make fermented vegetables

After you got the basics, try to create the combination you like! I make some fermented vegetables with additional benefits in!

  1. Cold & Flu Prevention: I make Kimchi like fermented cabbage by adding minced garlic, ginger, chili pepper and green onion.
  2. Cancer Prevention: add turmeric, powdered seaweed, garlic, ginger, few different cabbage families (kale, boc choi, etc).

Bon Appétit!

Golden Macaroon: carrot & coconut vegan cookie

This recipe was arranged from the recipe book, Hollyhock Cooks by Linda Colomon and Moreka Jolar. Macaroon is a coconut cookie which usually contains egg whites to bind all the ingredients; instead, this recipe uses molasses (or honey). So this is perfect for people who are sensitive to eggs! (You can also make it to be gluten-free easily, see the ingredients part below.) It is really easy to make and it is wonderful little snack for kids as well as for adults.

You can adjust the ratio of carrot and coconuts in a way you prefer and find your golden balance!

Makes about 1 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1cup (240ml) graded carrots
  • 1cup (240ml) shredded coconut
  • 1/2cup (120ml) molasses (or honey)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole wheat flour (or buckwheat flour for gluten-free option)
  • 1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
  • 1tsp (5ml) cinnamon

Direction

Preheat the oven to 350 F

  1. In a large bowl, combine the morasses and olive oil with carrots and coconut.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and cinnamon, and add this to the wet mixture and combine completely with a spoon.
  3. Shape the dough into about 2 inch diameter circles and place them onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Allow them to cool on a cooling rack.

Sukuma Wiki: a great kale dish you would love!

Kale is one of leafy green vegetables many people know about its benefit, but many people actually do not know a good way to cook it. I was also one of them…until I was introduce to this food in Kenya.

One of Kenyan mama had told me that Sukuma means “to push” and wiki means “week”. So whole meaning of this dish is “pushing a week to survive until next payday” because this dish is so cheap! The nutritional benefit of this dish is still quite high: kale is a cabbage family (Brassicas) which helps the liver for its cleansing activity. kale is also high in beta carotene, vitamin C, iron, calcium, manganese and also a great source of fiber!

Because kale is finely chopped in this dish and sautéed with garlic & onion with flavorful spices, a hardy taste of kale is less noticed. Also you can add a quite lot of kale in one servings! I added chickpeas to add some more protein in this dish. You can add any other desired beans and vegetables!

Enjoy this dish with steamed brown rice or Ugari which is polenta like staple food this dish is originally served with.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Kale 1 to half bunch, chopped in thin string pieces like coleslaw
  • Tomato 1 medium, diced
  • Cooked chickpeas or any other beans 1 cup
  • Onion 1 medium, diced
  • Garlic 2 cloves, chopped finely
  • Fresh ginger 1 tsp, chopped finely
  • Turmeric or curry powder 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil 1tbsp
  • Cumin powder, salt and pepper a pinch

Direction

  1. In a frying pan, put olive oil, garlic, and ginger, saute until it starts to have a great aroma in medium heat .
  2. Add onion, continue sauteing until onion turns into golden colour. Add tomatoes and cooked it down to make a sauce.
  3. Add salt, pepper, cumin powder, and turmeric or curry powder, mixed the sauce well and add kale and chickpeas.
  4. Cook kale until it soften (about 10 min) and serve it on steamed brown rice.