Jamaican Rice & Peas// what i eat

Since I’ve become an “adult” (although I’m not exactly sure at what point I made the jump), I have realized that everyone needs a go-to staples recipe. What I mean by this is that you need a recipe that you can pull out of your back pocket (and your pantry) when you need to make something for dinner a little fancier than a peanut butter sandwich. Some people may go for spaghetti out of a can, I go for Jamaican rice and peas.

I originally got this recipe out of a magazine when I was in college, so almost 10 years ago (eek, I am an adult). I don’t remember what magazine and I long since lost the page where I tore it out, but I’ve made it so many times now I have it committed to memory. I’ve embellished on it a little over the years, increasing the spices to better suit my tastes, so I kinda feel like its my own anyways.

At almost any given time, I can find all of the ingredients for this dish in my pantry. The “peas” in this dish are actually kidney beans. I used regular ones this time because that’s what I had in my cabinet, but normally I use the dark red kind (the extra firmness tastes better, trust me). I also normally use light coconut milk, but Whole Foods only had the full fat version that last time I went staple shopping. It actually makes for a richer, creamier dish when you use the regular coconut milk, but you have to add a lot more water to get the rice tender. You can also sub in dried thyme if you don’t have the fresh.

So here’s a simple, naturally gluten free and vegan meal you can can whip up in about 30 minutes, while only dirtying one pan! Can’t beat that!

Jamaican Rice & Peas

1 can coconut milk

1/4 cup water (if using regular coconut milk, you’ll need to up this to at least 3/4 cup)

1 cup jasmine rice

1 tsp allspice

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried

2 tsp kosher salt

1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, rice, water, allspice, garlic, thyme and salt. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a slight boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. If the liquid cooks out before the rice is soft, add more water and continue cooking.

Remove thyme stems and crushed garlic from dish and discard. Stir in kidney beans and heat until warmed, 2-4 minutes.

I usually add a little more salt to mine before serving, I think it balances out the sweetness of the coconut. For me, this and a little sautéed spinach can be a meal in itself, but it would also go great as a side dish for jerk chicken or pork chops, for you meat eaters out there.

 

Pineapple Bisquick Biscuits// what i eat

Last week I ran across something in Kroger that made me stop in my tracks– Gluten Free Bisquick. First mixes for cakes, brownies, and cookies, and now Betty Crocker has introduced a version of her famous kitchen cheat Bisquick for all of us gluten free gals out there! (Although I wouldn’t recommend the brownies or cookies; there are much better GF mixes for those out there.) It wasn’t on my shopping list, but I grabbed a box anyway just to give it a shot.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I’m at home, starving, with absolutely nothing to eat in my kitchen except for frozen fruits and veggies and half a jar of black olives. Eying the box of Bisquick in the cabinet, I decided it was time to experiment a bit. One the back of the box there was a recipe for simple biscuits, so using that as a base I came up with a concoction for GF vegan pineapple biscuits. Yum.

I should tell you that last week I made my first attempt at GF vegan baking from a box. It was NOT good. A little gun-shy this time, I decide to only make half a recipe of these guys so that I wouldn’t waste the whole box of Bisquick. (Oh the joys of GF convenience food: half the size, twice the price…) Instead of using Ener-G Egg replacer, which is where I think the cake went south, I made a slurry of flax seed and water. Totally did the trick!! These guys were so soft and fluffy out of the oven, with a nice crisp outside layer. The half a batch didn’t make it past bedtime last night.

I’m sure you could adapt this recipe if you don’t have Bisquick, using other flours and starches. Also, if you don’t have a problem with gluten, you could probably use regular Bisquick instead, although I’m not sure if the two can be substituted equally. After this attempt, I’m definitely going to keep a box of the stuff in pantry from now on though. You know, for when those afternoon biscuit cravings hit.

Pineapple Bisquick Biscuits

2 cups GF Bisquick

1/3 cup Earth Balance spread

1/3 cup coconut milk beverage

1/3 cup  frozen pineapple puree

3 tbls ground  flax seed + 9 tbls water

In a small bowl, combine flax seed and water and let sit for at least two minutes. These are your “eggs.”

In a blender or food processor, puree a 8-9 chunks of frozen pineapple (defrosted first). I used my Magic Bullet, which is perfect for this. I just microwaved mine for about 15-20 seconds first to defrost, then blended until it was a lovely yummy liquid. You want to pineapple liquified and not in big chunks, so that the biscuits have the sweetness and flavor without the extra texture. Measure after blending to make sure you have 1/3 cup.

In another bowl, place Bisquick. Cut in Earth Balance, either using your hands, a pastry cutter, or a fork, until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. I used a food processor to make this, which made it that much easier, but if you don’t have one the old fashioned way works too. Add the pineapple puree, coconut milk, and “eggs” and combine until fully incorporated and a soft dough forms.

Drop dough by big spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Makes 10 biscuits.

Note: When I posted this earlier today, I accidently listed the wrong amounts for the flax seed slurry. I’ve corrected it now. I also said “flax seed” but what I meant was “ground flax seed” or “flax seed meal.”  Just so you know, 1 egg= 1 tbls ground flax seed + 3 tbls water (this recipe calls for 3 “eggs.”) Sorry for any confusion!

I ate two right when they came out of the oven and the flavor was amazing! Replacing half of the liquid with  a bit of frozen pineapple puree gave a light sweetness to the dough without being overbearing.They were a little too soft on the inside so I planned on tweaking the recipe on the next batch before sharing. However, once they cooled for about 15 minutes, I went back for a third and the texture was perfect! I would recommend letting them cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving them to guests, but feel free to scoop a hot one off the cookie sheet for yourself. 🙂 Put a little Earth Balance inside of a slightly warm biscuit and enjoy a little bit of biscuit heaven.

Fried Noodles// What I Eat

After the day I had today, I needed a little comfort food for dinner so I decided to stir up some yummy fried noodles! This dish is based on the Fried Udon Noodles recipe in The Kind Diet cookbook. I followed the recipe the first time I made the dish (subbing in gluten-free pad tai noodles for the udon) but since then I’ve tweaked it a little to make it more to my tastes.

Fried Noodles

1/2 pack brown rice fettuccine style noodles

2 tbls olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 & 1/2 tbls paprika

1 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup daikon, cut into  match sticks*

1 piece kombu, broken into tiny pieces*

hemp seeds & fresh parsley for garnish*

*These guys are totally optional. Sometimes I add them if I have them handy, sometimes I don’t.

Step one: Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to directions. When al dente, drain and sit to the side.

 

This is the BEST brand of gluten free pasta!! So good, and not at all mushy!

 

Step two: In a large skillet (I used an electric wok, but just because it was still out on the counter from when I made popcorn the other night… but back to the skillet), heat 1 tbls oil over medium high heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add some water from the pasta pot if it starts to stick. Meanwhile…

Step three: In another skillet, heat remaining oil. Add onions and sweat a bit (the onions, not you). Add garlic, paprika, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Cook mixture over medium high heat until the onions start to caramalize. When things start to stick, add a little water to the pan. This helps a nice little sauce to start to form around the onions. You want to be sure to let the onions sweat on their own first though, this brings out a sweetness that you don’t want to miss! Keep adding water and cooking until the “sauce” is nice and thick.

At this point, you can add the kombu and daikon, if you wish. The dish is fine without them, but with them it’s just that much better for you.

Once the onions are done (about 5-10 minutes total), combine with the cabbage and the pasta in which ever skillet is bigger. Cook until heated through (1-3 minutes). Salt to taste.

Serve with hemp seeds and parsley, if desired. It’s a simple little noodle dish, but something about the sweetness of the onions and the smoky paprika really hits the spot!

Note: I normally use plain old green cabbage in this dish, but I had a purple head in the fridge so I gave it a try tonight. Purple isn’t bad, but green is better- it gets softer and more noodle like when cooked.

 

Breakfast for Julie

My friend Julie posed this question on Facebook this morning: “what is a quick & easy high protein breakfast… and not eggs?” Well, that’s a paraphrase, but something like that. The ensuing discussion got me thinking, and made me quite hungry. Deciding that it was time for me to get the oatmeal on, I headed into the kitchen, only to discover that all my pots were dirty. That’s right, I said it, I’m lousy at keeping up with the dishes. Now that I finally have a dishwasher, it’s even harder because I have a place to hide them in between cleaning events. So faced with the task of washing out the pot I used yesterday, I decided to go another route instead. Especially when I realized that I’d have to wait for the oatmeal to cook, and this yummy plate could be ready in less than 5 minutes.

One of the tricks that I have learned keeping a gluten free, vegan kitchen is that you always have to be prepared. What I mean by that is that helps to devote an hour or so each week to preparing some staples that will get you through the times in the week when you don’t feel like cooking. For example, at least once a week I will saute up some onions and peppers, and whatever other random veggies I find in the fridge, so that I can make impromptu fajita burritos at any time. I actually have a burrito shelf in my fridge, where I keep gluten free brown rice tortillas and plastic bins of random fixins: seasoned beans, sliced veggies (cooked and raw), mayo (vegan), sour cream (vegan), cooked brown rice, quinoa, etc. When the mood hits I can whip up a yummy burrito or burrito bowl in just a minute or two.

The same rule applies to snacks. For this week’s snack, I decided I wanted bread and butter. Well, dark chocolate almond butter that is. Since finding gluten free bread made without eggs or dairy is almost impossible, I decided to buy a bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF Hearty Whole Grain Bread Mix and make it using Ener-G Egg Replacer instead of the eggs. I don’t generally like this mix because they use cocoa to give it the dark brown color and I can taste it in it. It tastes great, but not something I’d want to make a sandwich with. The texture is awesome though, crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the center. It’s actually less dense than most whole grain breads! I baked the loaf yesterday, and I promise, if you follow the simple instructions on the bag (like, 3 steps), you too can bake this bread! I wanted to make mine even more whole grain, so I added about 2/3 cup of hulled hemp seeds to the batter, then sprinkled more on top right before I put the pan in the oven.

The almond butter was pretty easy to make too. Just put a couple of cups of almonds in a food processor and turn that baby on! After 10-15 minutes of blending (stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed), you’ll have creamy almond butter! I melted a dark chocolate bar and adding to mine along with about a teaspoon of sea salt. (I love the chocolate, salt, almond combo!) Store it in the fridge and it gets pretty thick and creamy,  like Nuetella.

To get back to Julie’s question, what is a simple, high protein, eggless breakfast idea? My answer (for today):

Whole Grain Hemp Bread w/ Almond Butter & Bananas

Take 1 thick slice of whole grain hemp bread and toast on both sides. Spread dark chocolate almond butter on top. The heat from the bread will make it all yummy and gooey. 🙂 Slice 1/2 of a small banana and layer slices on top of toast. Sprinkle with ground flax seed for extra healthy omegas and protein.

You’re welcome.

The Ultimate Vegan Comfort Food// What I Eat

What with all the snow and ice that has been plaguing my home turf lately, my need for warm and cozy comfort food has skyrocketed. This weekend I whipped up a pot of what I consider the ultimate vegan comfort food– vegan beanie weenies.

Wait, don’t run! I know I may have lost a few of you with those last few words, but trust me, this stuff is good! While I may not be much of a meat-eater by nature, I love me some hot dogs!! Crazy, I know, but what can I say. When I started living gluten-free several years ago, I was saddened to learn that most hot dogs, at least the good ones (Nathans…. sigh) contain gluten. Imagine how excited I was when I ran across a pack of TofuPups a while back; not only are they vegan, they are also gluten free!

Before I lose the rest of you with “tofu,” I should say that I am right there with you. I cannot stand tofu. You can make it taste like whatever you like, but the texture is what kills me. However, I have found that with the proper preparation method, this are actually not so bad. I doubt I will ever eat one on its own, in a bun, but fried and chopped up in a stew, they aren’t too bad.

I adapted this recipe from one from my current favorite cookbook, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. So many yummy recipes in there, plus a great introduction to veganism for those who may be interested in finding out more about the why and the how of it. Her blog, The Kind Life, is also on my list of daily reads, you should check it out!

Vegan Beanie Weenies

Adapted from Hearty Pinto Bean Stew, The Kind Diet

1 cup dry pinto beans

2 cups tomato soup (The Kind Diet recommends Imagine, and so do I! It’s vegan and gluten-free.)

2 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Basil, fresh or dried

Dash of oregano

Pinch of red pepper flakes

4 TofuPups

Start by soaking the beans overnight in a pot of water. If you’ve never done this before, its easy: place beans in pot, cover completely with lots of water, done! When you get ready to make the stew, drain the beans and you are ready to go.

Combine in a large pot the soup, 1 cup of water, 1 tsp olive oil and the liquid aminos. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add beans (don’t forget to drain them first!). Bring back up to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

The beginnings... doesn't look like much.

While the beans are cooking, chop the TofuPup into small round pieces. In a skillet, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil and add “weenies.” Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a little crispy on both sides and lightly brown, about 7-10 minutes. This will kill the tofu texture and produce something reminiscent of the fake meat that is found in real Beanie Weenies.

While waiting for beans to cook, you can also chop the onion and garlic, then even clean up whatever mess you’ve made in the kitchen so far.

Back to the pot. Add the chopped onion and garlic, the cooked TofuPup pieces, the basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Give it all a good stir, and place lid back on pot, leaving it slightly ajar. Simmer for 30-40 more minutes. May I suggest using this time to take a nice hot bubble bath.

After your relaxing soak, come back to the beans, which should be perfect by now. Serve up in a big bowl, sprinkle with some sea salt (if desired), and enjoy! These are best eaten while sitting on the couch, under a blanket, with a space heater nearby.