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gluten-free-vegetarian

My Daily Kitchen

Decadent Pesto Pâté

September 13, 2015

I could eat Pesto sauce all day long, but I tire of having it on wheaty, fattening pasta. So I am always trying to come up with other ways to give my food the delicious taste of pesto sauce, such as tossing it with vegetables (try cauliflower or zucchini) or using it as a sandwich spread on wraps or break. But as I said, this gets boring.

I am a hedonist; I do not do well with deprivation.  I wanted be able to eat something rich and smooth, something I could enjoy in the same way I used to savor a silky liver pâté, or dig a petite knife into a ripened, warm, gooey, pungent  Brie, but without the meat or dairy.  In other words, I want a low-carb Pesto decadence and I found a way to have it!

I came up with this delicious and satisfying Pesto Pâté, good enough to serve to company.

Here is how I prepare it.

Dedadent Pesto Pâté

In a food processor (mine is only a tine $10 food chopper) add:

  • 2 Cups fresh basil, tightly packed (or 3 cups loose leaves)
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality
  • 3 Garlic teeth/cloves (or 3, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic from the jar)
  • 1  Tsp freshly squeezed lemon or citrus
  • 1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 Tsp salt

Process the above by pulsing until reduced … but not puréed!
Fancy food processors might mince too finely, so go bit by bit.  You do not want this to be soupy, but rather you want it chunky while still spreadable. Think about cutting hair; once cut, you can’t put it back,  but you can always cut more. So take your time and before you think your are there…
… This is when you want to add:

1 Cup whole, salted cashew nuts (if using unsalted, you’ll need to add more sale to the mix)
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese (Vegan? Use a cheese substitute).

  • Process until the mixture is chunky but still spreadable. 
  • Taste it. If you want a tad more lemon, or cheese, or salt, just adjust until your taste buds are dancing.
  • Now, pack your mixture into any container and either freeze this…  or chill.

SERVING:
If frozen, just set the container on the counter for a few hours counter until you can tip it, intact, onto your platter.

If refrigerated, tip & scoop onto your serving platter. Don’t worry if the shape comes out goofy because this mix is malleable and easily sculpted after it is on the plate.
Keep refrigerated on the platter until you are ready to serve. Then place your crackers at the last minute.

TIPS:

  • If you are Vegan, omit the Parmesan and replace with a vegan option.
  • Gluten Free? Just find a good rice cracker in place of wheat.
  • Slice large pieces of tomato or zucchini and use these in place of crackers for spreading.

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My Daily Kitchen

Jazz up Quinoa!

May 18, 2015
  1. I love, love, love white rice, but bleached, white rice is not the healthiest way to go, especially for those with nsulin resistance, or worse, diabetes.

Quinoa to the rescue!  (pronounced Keen-wah.) Oh, Quinoa … let me count the ways and the whys that I love thee!

Being technically a seed, Quinoa  is free of gluten. Not only that, it’s packed with 5 grams of fiber, which makes it a healthier carbohydrate choice for low-carb. eaters.  It also has a good amount of protein and it’s full of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, B-vitamins, and more. Quinoa is simply a super easy, super-food!

Preparing Basic Quinoa is as easy as… rice!

  1. Fill a pot with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa (for example, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rinsed Quinoa.  Most purchased quinoa s already rinsed for you, but if it does not specify rinsed on the packaging, then rinse).
  2. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover with a good lid, and walk away for 15-20 minutes.  When the seeds “pop,” your quinoa is cooked!
  4. You may leave the lid on. You do not need to refrigerate right away.

Here are a few tricks I like to use for jazzing up my Quinoa side dishes.

  1. Adding a small portion of rice makes a big difference in the “fluff” factor and also make this more expensive food item last a bit longer.  This little tip is also  great for kid,s like mine, who have grown up where rice is a staple at most meals.  They can be used to the texture and resistant to eating the healthier seed.Here is what I do: I sneak in 1 part rice to 3 parts Quinoa. You can use more or less according to your liking & also your pocketbook, but I use about 1/4 cup white rice to 3/4 cup Quinoa. Because the two ingredients are cooked in the same manner, you don’t need to do anything special. Your Quinoa will come out fluffier, and you and your eaters will enjoy all the health benefits of a healthy carb. without the guilt!
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    3 parts quinoa to 1 part white rice.

    Note:  If you prefer to mix your Quinoa with whole-grain, brown rice, simply add the Quinoa to your pot 15 minutes before the brown rice is cooked to completion. Par boiled brown rice cooks up in about the same time as white rice, but whole grain, uncooked brown rice can take as long as 40 minutes! Quinoa never takes that long, so be aware of the timing.

  2. For Super Healthy Quinoa, chop a small head, or half of a large head, of cauliflower in a food processor until the cauliflower bits are the size of large bread crumbs.When your Quinoa/Rice is 3 – 5 minutes from completion, just add a cup or a cup and a half of chopped cauliflower right on top, replace the lid, and let the cauliflower steam up with the rice/quinoa mixure!  Once your stove is off, and your quinoa/rice has sat a few minutes, you can mix gently with a spoon to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
    Note: Your children will not notice the cauliflower, as you can see in the photo!

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice & lots of cauliflower!

  3. Jazz up the flavor by cooking  your quinoa or quinoa/rice in stock. Use chicken for meat-
    eaters, or vegetable for the non-meat eaters!
  4. Add 1 or 2 whole teeth of garlic to your liquid, and remove when the dish is cooked.
  5. Go ahead and experiment, adding other, colorful chopped vegetables to your dish. When  using carrots or longer-cooking veggies, just add them 1o minutes into the cooking so they have enough time to steam up to a softer texture.
  6. Store your cooked Quinoa or Rice/Quinoa in the fridge. Then heat up when you need it. I like to warm it for breakfast and serve with a poached egg on top.
  7. Treat it as if it were rice. Below, Quinoa with 1/4 white rice & Cauliflower, Prawns in Ghee with garlic & lemon, on salad.

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice, 1/3 cauliflower; Prawns sauteed in ghee w/garlic & lemon, atop a salad.

 

 

Breakfast

Healthy Craving Fixer

May 10, 2015

imageAs a little girl, no trip to “the city”, a.k.a, New York City was complete until, at my mother’s pleading, my dad pulled the car over at 86th and 3rd, to fullfil her craving for the then exotic fruit, slightly odd tasting fruit, papaya,  always available at the now historical Papaya King.   She adored this gorgeously colored fruit which, to my young palette tasted a bit, well, off. Still,  I loved anything coconut, and a trip to Papaya King meant a coconut treat for me!

As I grew up and traveled some,  my taste buds came on board. In the Southern Philippines, I learned to stab a slice of fresh papaya with my fork, and then fill the tiny rows of holes with fresh squeezed Calamansi, a kind of citrus, not quite like a lemon or a lime, but these will do.

calamansiIt was here that I also learned  to love crisp, tart, unripe, green papaya, sliced into sticks, then dipped in vinegar and spicy salt. Later, in New York City, I learned you can julienne green papaya to add to salads and savory dishes.

 

Calamansi

green papayaIn Mexico and in Panama, I came to love thick fruit smoothies, either alone or paired with bananas or pineapple or strawberries.  I cut the papaya into cubes and store it in bags in the freezer. This way my smoothies are cold and fruity, undiluted by water or ice cubes.

Today,  I enjoy teaming my papaya up with the taste of coconut, which I still adore.

But when I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic (I have corrected this with my diet), I steered away from sweets, including fruits in general, since sugar is sugar… isn’t it?

With a Glycemic Index value of 59, Papaya is generally considered a “medium” sugar threat.  And now for the good news: On the Glycemic Load Index, papaya measures at a low 10.

The Glycemic Load refers to the body’s response to sugars by taking into account both the quantity of carbohydrates as well as the type of carbohydrates. For a detailed explanation of glycemic values and how they are calculatedClick Here.  In short, this means that eating papaya occasionally, especially if paired with other foods, doesn’t necessarily cause blood sugars to spike.

When I have a true craving for something sweet, I make this delicious treat using only four healthy ingredients.

1 Cup papaya, diced.
2 Heaping tablespoons coconut milk (I like to spoon it on, chilled)
1 Tablespoon crushed flax seeds (easy to crush up in a coffee grinder!)
1 Slice of Lemon or Lime

TIP:  Keep papaya cubes cold and handy by freezing them. Then, use the same above ingredients to blend into a  fresh smoothie, and, if you are feeling festive, add and ounce and a half of rum! 

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