Herbed Flatbread

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I have spent more time than I care to admit trying to produce a bread that is gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, and vegan, and passes muster. It’s exhausting. The problem lies in expecting a gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, vegan loaf of bread to taste like breads made with wheat. It is hardly a fair expectation. Why should bread made with completely different ingredients taste the same? I have the same expectation when making vegan cheese, and yet there is no logical reason that cheese made from plants, nuts or seeds should taste the same as cheese from made from animal milk. But that’s a post for another day.

In light of that, I am changing my gluten-free bread expectations. Gluten free bread doesn’t have to taste the same as bread made with wheat, or even be close – it just has to taste good. Period. 

Now that that’s decided, I have come up with a recipe for flatbread that yields a bread with superior taste and texture to all others I’ve tried, meets the above criteria, and best of all, comes with a method or preparation that is straight forward and easy.  And like most gluten free breads, this herbed flatbread is especially good toasted. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

The recipe is an adaptation of one for focaccia by glutenfreespinner (here). My revised recipe contains no oil or eggs, and replaces the agave with homemade date syrup. To avoid using oil to grease the pan, I lined the bottom of the baking sheet with parchment paper and this worked quite well. I did rub a little coconut oil on the bottom of the pan so that the parchment paper would stick, but there was no oil added to the recipe itself. (The next time I make this, I am going to try baking the bread without using parchment paper at all. I’ll let you know how that works out). 

This herbed flatbread won’t brown as nicely as the focaccia bread appeared to in the photos on the glutenfreespinner website, which is likely due to the oil being removed, but the taste is nice and the texture is toothsome without being dense and heavy. I think it is a perfect bread for sopping up the juices in this lentil dish

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp. rapid-rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. date syrup*
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. ground chia seeds, mixed with 6 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • dried oregano
  • dried thyme
  • dried sage

Mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl of an standing mixer.

Mix the wet ingredients together separately in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse the mixture a few times with the paddle attachment in the standing mixer to avoid the flour from flying, and then mix the dough on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl if necessary to make sure the mixture is well combined.

Line the bottom of an 9 X 12-inch brownie pan or 10 X 15-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. You may grease the bottom of the pan to help the parchment adhere to the pan – this makes it easier to spread out the dough later.

Scrape the dough onto the prepared pan and spread evenly over the entire surface using an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top generously with sesame seeds, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried sage, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Let the dough rest in a warm place for 35-40 minutes. (I placed the baking sheet with the dough in the oven with the light turned on). 

Once the dough has risen to about double it’s original size, remove the baking sheet from the oven and heat the oven to 400 F. Bake the dough in the oven for 12-15 minutes.  Leave the bread in the pan to cool for about 30 minutes before removing. Carefully peel away the parchment from the sides.

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Slice and eat! The bread is soft and pliable and freezes well too, so it can be made ahead, sliced into individual portions or left whole before freezing.

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Notes

*I make my own date syrup, which is considerably more mild and lighter in colour than commercial varieties. If you are using a store-bought date syrup, you may need to decrease the quantity stated  in this recipe.

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Lentils with Vegan Goat Cheese

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This will become the only lentil dish you’ll ever want to have!  

The humble lentil has been around since the dawn of civilization and is a primary source of protein, iron and fibre in many parts of the world today. Interestingly, lentils have historically been used to treat illness too, particularly diabetes and skin infections, including burns (source).

Lentils are inexpensive and come in a variety of types, colours and textures – each with its own unique characteristics and flavours. They can be added to soups, stews, casseroles and salads, and are well known for their use in curries. Lentils can be sprouted or cooked in water or stock, and are one of the easiest legumes to digest. They are high in protein, low in fat, have a low-glycemic index, and are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. 

But when you think of lentils, do you only think of curries or Indian dhal? Well, you don’t have to. Lentils pick up the flavours of the aromatic vegetables and seasonings with which they are cooked. Because they are so versatile, and have a high nutritional value, anyone can benefit from adding lentils to their diet.  With so much going for it, it’s really no surprise that this legume has been around for as long as it has. 

In this recipe, the white wine and the carrots give this dish a rich and wonderful flavour and when combined with the vegan goat cheese, the lentils are as satisfying as any meat-based dish I have ever had. I even like it served cold. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried French or Puy lentils
  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peel the first one and grate; peel and slice the second one on the diagonal 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach (250 grams), stemmed an thoroughly cleaned
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, coarsely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Vegan (Goat) Cheese, recipe follows

Rinse the lentils well and drain.

Sauté the shallots and grated carrots in 2-3 tablespoons of waterIn a large saucepan over medium heat until the shallots are translucent and beginning to soften. Top up the pan with water as needed to prevent the shallots from burning.  Add cumin and minced garlic and stir until the garlic is fragrant – about another minute. Add lentils, vegetable stock, wine, fresh thyme and parsley and stir everything to distribute the vegetables and seasonings evenly. Partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently for about 25 minutes. (At this point, the lentils can be frozen, if making ahead. Defrost before continuing).  

Add the sliced carrots and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender. Most of the stock should be absorbed and the lentils should be completely cooked but not mushy. If the lentils appear dry, add a little more stock or water. Not too much though, as the vegan cheese will thin out the sauce once it is added. Discard the thyme and parsley sprigs and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Stir in prepared spinach and cook just until it begins to wilt and turns bright green.

Add dollops of the vegan cheese and gently stir to break down the cheese. The mixture does not have to be completely smooth – it’s fine to have a few unbroken chunks of the cheese throughout.

Serve lentils with a crisp green salad and Herbed Flatbread to soak up the sauce. 

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Vegan Goat Cheese

This is a quick and dirty vegan cheese recipe adapted from the one on spabettie’s blog (original recipe). It has a hint of traditional goat’s cheese flavour and happens to compliment the lentils really well. This cheese is best made a day ahead in order to allow it time to ripen.

One of the attractions to this recipe for me is that it does not contain nutritional yeast, an ingredient so often found in vegan cheese recipes.  I have been reading quite a it about nutritional yeast lately and you can read my comments about this ingredient in the post for vegan sour cream. I am currently developing another recipe for vegan cheese, which will be free of nutritional yeast, and should be ready for posting soon – stay tuned!  

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup raw nuts (use one, or combine in any ratio: cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias, almonds)
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Celtic or pink Himalayan salt

Soak the nuts for a minimum of 2 hours – if using almonds, soak for 4 hours. 

Place soaked nuts and remaining ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender in order to get the job done. Adjust the seasonings. Spoon the cheese mixture into a glass bowl and cover with tightly saran wrap. Leave in a dark, warm place for 24 hours to ripen. (I covered the bowl with a tea towel and left it in my oven overnight with the light turned on.)

Refrigerate for about 5-7 days. This cheese also freezes. 

*Recipe for Herbed Flatbread.

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Fried Polenta with Tomato Coulis

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Polenta, or cornmeal mush, makes a nice change from rice or other starches once in a while and  fried polenta is oh so satisfying and hearty as a main course. 

Polenta is cooked by simmering cornmeal in water or stock, and has an historical reputation of being a lengthy and laborious endeavour. Whole books have been written about the various methods of preparation and the differences in taste between instant polenta and slow-cooked polenta. But don’t be intimidated – this recipe is pretty quick and simple yet still manages to maintain that sought after comforting texture.

Polenta’s creamy texture comes from the gelatinization of starch in the grain. However, the texture may not be completely homogeneous if the grain is cut too coarsely. I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free, 100% Stone Ground Coarse Grind Cornmeal in this recipe and it was perfect. In case you are wondering, I am not paid to advertise – I gain nothing from mentioning the names of the products I use nor am I endorsing any particular brand.

Traditionally, polenta is flavoured with butter and any number of  a variety of  cheeses, and served soft along side rich stews and casseroles to mop up the savoury juices and sauces. However, cooked polenta can be chilled and then sliced or shaped into balls, patties, sticks, or any shape you have a cookie cutter for, and then fried in oil, baked, or grilled until beautifully golden brown on the outside. The softness of polenta depends on the ratio of liquid to cornmeal. More liquid yields a softer polenta. Firm polenta, that is to be shaped or cooked further, is prepared with less liquid.

In this recipe, the cooked cornmeal mixture is chilled in a loaf pan and cut into 1/2–inch slices before frying. No oil or butter is needed to fry the polenta slices – they are simply placed in a preheated non-stick frying pan until they turn a rich golden brown on both sides.

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Polenta is like a blank canvas and will take the flavour of whatever seasoning you give it. So, change it up with any spices and seasonings you like.

Ingredients

  • 1-cup coarse cornmeal
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4  tsp. Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast*
  • ½ tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste, or fresh chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium large non-stick fry pan. While water is boiling, combine cornmeal, salt and remaining cup of water in a small bowl and stir to make thick slurry. Pour the cornmeal slurry into the boiling water and stir to distribute the water and cornmeal evenly. Reduce heat to low. (Cover the pan with a lid or spatter guard as the mixture will bubble up and make a mess of your stovetop). Simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through and thick. You can raise the lid and give the mixture a stir every now and again, but for the most part it is ok to leave it unattended. If it appears to stick to the bottom of the pan, don’t worry, it will all come together at the end.

Remove pan from the heat and add the Dijon mustard, garlic, chili paste and nutritional yeast. Stir the mixture until the ingredients are well blended. Adjust seasonings and pour the mixture into a pan (I used an unlined, non-stick loaf pan).  If you are planning to cut the polenta in shapes with a cookie cutter, use a shallow pan such as a baking sheet with sides, and spread the mixture out to the desired thickness for your cut-out shapes. Chill for several hours in the refrigerator.

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When the cornmeal is completely cold, invert the pan over a clean cutting board. I ran a thin plastic utensil along the insides of the pan before inverting but I am not sure it was necessary. The chilled polenta came out very easily as you can see in the next photo.

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I find that it helps to cut the slices with a wet knife so place your cutting board near the kitchen sink.  Turn on the cold water tap and rinse off any mixture that sticks to the knife after each cut. Shake off the excess water from the knife, but don’t dry it, and make your next cut. Repeat this process until you have cut the required number of slices.

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Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Using a sharp wet knife, cut the polenta into ½-inch slices. With a spatula, gently place as many pieces in the heated pan as will fit without crowding. No need for oil or butter – the polenta will not stick – how great is that?  I used a ceramic nonstick frying pan here, which makes the whole process very easy.  Let the polenta slices cook undisturbed on one side for about 3-4 minutes. Carefully check the underside and flip the slices over when they are golden brown on the bottom.

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Cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve with tomato coulis and a green vegetable (zucchini noodles).

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*Notes

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient in vegan recipes because of its ability to mimic the flavour of traditional cheese, but it is not an ingredient without controversy.

Users of nutritional yeast claim that it is a gluten-free, vegan product, that contains various B-vitamins, including Vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, and folic acid, while also being low in calories, fat and carbohydrates. However, I recently discovered that the high vitamin content in nutritional yeast is the result of adding vitamins to the yeast, and if that’s true, then it would be important to choose a brand of nutritional yeast that has been fortified with vitamins. Otherwise, you gain none of those benefits.

On the other end of the spectrum there are claims that nutritional yeast is a highly processed neurotoxin that contains free glutamic acid – the same neurotoxic compound as monosodium glutamate (MSG).

“Nutritional Yeast is classified as an excitotoxin“—a classification of neurotoxic compounds that over-stimulate the neurotransmitters of the brain.” (source).

It is certainly a processed product, and from that perspective, nutritional yeast is probably best avoided or omitted from a whole foods diet, so omit or use it sparingly, at your discretion. I know of no comparable substitutes for nutritional yeast in terms of flavour, but I am searching …

Zucchini Noodles

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If you are struggling with gluten intolerance and wonder if you’ll ever be able to give up pasta, zucchini noodles might be your gluten-free saviour!  Many vegetables can be “noodled”, that is, cut into various lengths and widths and topped with any of your favourite pasta sauces  –  I’ve  used paper thin slices of zucchini in place of lasagna noodles to separate various fillings with great success. Turning zucchini into noodles is a cinch, especially with a variety of  different “noodlizers” available today.  

One of my favourite kitchen gadgets is my Benriner and it is a great tool for this task. I have had this versatile little mandolin for years and have used it to make noodles out of all sorts of vegetables.  Not to worry if you haven’t got one; you can use a vegetable peeler or one of the other types of noodleizers to obtain a similar effect with the zucchini.

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This recipe is more about a method as there is only one ingredient. So, … here are the directions for preparing a batch of zucchini noodles using a Benriner.

Top and tail the zucchini and cut in half if extremely long. Set aside.

Choose the blade with the noodle width you want and adjust the feet on the bottom of the mandolin to set the thickness.

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This may require you to slide the zucchini across the blade a few times and adjust the feet until you get the thickness just right. Once that is done, continue sliding the zucchini lengthwise, up and down the mandolin until you reach about half way. Then turn the zucchini over and begin slicing the other side. (This is necessary because the noodles cut from the the centre (seeded section) of the zucchini don’t hold their noodle shape as well when they are cooked. They tend to disintegrate. However, you can omit this step if you are creating noodles from other vegetables).

That’s it! Slice as many zucchini as necessary for the amount of noodles needed per person.  But make extra – zucchini noodles keep well refrigerated for a few days in an airtight container. Once cooked, they release a lot of water, so are best eaten right after they are cooked.

To cook the zucchini noodles, I usually just plunge them in boiling water for about a minute; then strain, season and serve. No cooking required at all, really. Alternatively, you can add them to soups, in place of pasta noodles, or to a simmering sauce for a minute before serving. 

Incidentally, zucchini noodles can be eaten raw too!  Top with an uncooked tomato sauce and you’ve got a raw meal!

Now, what will you serve with them?

Tomato Coulis

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Coulis is a French word meaning strained sauce. Tomato coulis is a the strained liquid from cooked seasoned tomatoes and other vegetables. It can be thinned or thickened as necessary and it is just a nice, light fresh tasting sauce to accompany a vast assortment of foods. Use ripe tomatoes, in season because you’ll want to showcase the flavours of the tomatoes in a very short cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 50 grams (2 oz) onions, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 125 ml (4 oz) vegetable stock
  • 100 grams (14 oz) fresh plum tomatoes, quartered (or use your favourite kind)
  • 15 grams (1 tbsp.) tomato paste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • Celtic or pink Himalayan salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Sweat the onions, in a couple tablespoons of water for a minute or so and then add the garlic. Continue sweating the vegetables being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, vegetable stock and basil leaves and simmer over a low heat for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are completely broken down.

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Strain the mixture through a sieve. At this point, you may return the coulis to the pan and reduce it a little if it is too thin. Alternatively, add a little stock or water to thin it out if it is too thick.  Adjust seasoning. Just before serving, throw in some fresh basil thinly sliced, if desired.

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Parsnip Soup

I love this soup on a cold winter day! Who would have thought such depth of flavor could come from so few ingredients? This very elegant soup is a perfect one for entertaining but is easy enough for a weekday lunch or dinner too. It has a silky smooth texture and the consistency is exactly what I want from a creamed soup. Since parsnips can vary in size, you may want to add more or less stock to get the consistency you like. This soup is velvety and rich but not paste-like…does that make sense?

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Ingredients

  • 4 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped. (Reserve shavings)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (low-salt, if using bouillon cube)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger large pinch dried thyme

Garnish

  • Parsnip shavings
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, cilantro

Directions

Place the reserved parsnip shavings in a bowl of ice-cold water and set aside while preparing the soup. If they curl up in the ice water, let them be – it makes for an interesting garnish.

Heat a non-stick frying pan to medium-high and add prepared parsnips. Let them begin to cook for a minute or so without stirring them around in the pan. Once they begin to turn golden brown, start  turning the pieces over so that they brown evenly on all sides. Add 2-3 tbsp. of water and continue stirring to allow the vegetables to cook and caramelize without burning. Continue stirring and adding water as it evaporates, in 2-3 tablespoon increments, until the parsnips are evenly caramelized all over. Remove the parsnips from the pan and set aside. The parsnips do not have to be cooked all the way through at this point, as they will simmer in the stock later.

I used a ceramic non-stick pan to sauté the parsnips and onions in water rather than oil or butter and this works extremely well. The vegetables will naturally caramelize as they release their sugars during the sautéing process, and when they do, just add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to the pan and continue stirring to prevent them from burning or sticking. Add more water in increments as needed until vegetables are nicely caramelized.

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Water sautéing is a great technique to master if you want to cut down on calories or remove oil from your diet.

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Add onions to the same pan, or use a clean pan if you prefer, and repeat the process of water sautéing the onions, adding water in increments of a few tablespoons at a time until the onions are a light golden brown. If you use the same pan, the onions will probably take less time to brown since the pan will contain residual caramelization from the parsnips.

Return the parsnips to the pan and add the white wine. Boil the wine, parsnips and onions until the  wine is reduced by about half, stirring occasionally. Transfer everything to a large saucepan or soup pot.

Add 5 cups of broth, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and partially cover. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. Test the parsnips by sticking the tip of a knife through one of the thicker pieces to see if they are soft, and if not give the soup another 5 minutes. If there is no resistance on the knife, parsnips are done.

Remove from heat and puree the soup using an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can use a standing blender, but if you do, do not fill the blender. Make sure you blend the soup in batches leaving plenty of headspace in the blender.

Stir in coconut milk and spices. Lastly, adjust seasonings if necessary.

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Parsnip Soup Garnish

To make the garnish, heat a clean non-stick frying pan to medium.

Remove the parsnip shavings from the water, and add to a hot pan with only the water the clings to them.

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Toss frequently and as they begin to turn golden brown, remove them to a plate. Don’t overcrowd the pan – work in batched of you have to. The texture should be crisp but some strands will be chewy.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup and ladle it into warm serving bowls. Top each with a small handful of parsnip shavings and sprinkle with fresh herbs

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 *Notes

I prefer canned coconut milk to other varieties of non-dairy milk in this recipe because of its thick consistency. Shake the can before opening and empty the contents into a bowl. Whisk the coconut milk and cream together until no lumps remain, and then measure the ½ cup called for in the recipe. If you prefer to make your own non-dairy milk, be sure to decrease the ratio of water to nuts so that you end up with sufficient cream.

Onion Soup with Ruby Port

This soup is the quintessence of understated elegance and sophistication. The flavours are delicate yet full of depth when married together.  Don’t omit anything.

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The recipe was inspired by a soup on the menu at the Savoy Hotel in London, England back in the late ‘80s when Anton Edelmann was the executive chef. Minimal time and effort are required to throw this together and there are so few ingredients. For those reasons, and because it can be prepared in advance, this soup is perfect for entertaining.

Ingredients

  • 550 grams or 1 ¼ lbs. onions, coarsely chopped (abut 1½ jumbo onions)
  • 100 grams (4 oz.) fresh fennel, coarsely chopped
  • 100 grams (4 oz.) leeks, white part, coarsely chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100 ml (4 oz.) Coconut milk
  • 25 ml (1 oz.) Ruby Port
  • Celtic or Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

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 Directions

Add the onions to a large pot with two tablespoons of water and sweat over a medium heat until transparent. You can cover then pan to assist with this. The onions should not begin to caramelize.

Add prepared fennel, leeks, vegetable stock and simmer for 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft enough to puree.

Turn off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper as desired. Stir in the coconut cream or other non-dairy milk. Stir in the port. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with gluten-free croutons.

*Notes

I prefer canned coconut milk to other varieties of non-dairy milk in this recipe because of its thick consistency. Shake the can before opening and empty the contents into a bowl. Whisk the coconut milk and cream well and then measure the ½ cup called for in the recipe. If you prefer to make your own non-dairy milk, be sure to decrease the ratio of water to nuts so that you end up with sufficient cream.

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Beyond Cole Slaw

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Growing up, I loved the creamy mayonnaise-based version of Cole slaw that my mother occasionally prepared at home far better than the tangy vinegar-based version that we were fed more often. When I want to make a Cole slaw that reminds me of my childhood favourite, this recipe provides it.

The recipe includes a few more ingredients than the traditional grated carrots and cabbage and actually, the range of variations is almost endless. The tahini dressing is compatible with so many vegetables that you could practically empty your fridge into a bowl and toss with this dressing!  In this particular combination, the bitterness from the radicchio is beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the oranges and pecans.

Out of pecans? Substitute walnuts or hazelnuts instead.

  • 1 medium romaine
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • ¼ Nappa cabbage
  • 3-4 medium carrots
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Julienne the romaine, radicchio and cabbage and place in a large bowl. Shred the carrots in a food processor or by hand using a vegetable grater and add to the bowl. Give the vegetables a gentle toss to distribute them evenly.

Peel the oranges and slice or dice into small bite-size pieces. Coarsely chop the pecans.

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When ready to serve, season the salad with salt and paper, add the dressing to the bowl and toss, everything together, adding the  orange pieces and pecans last.

Tahini Dressing

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  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1½ tablespoons maple or date syrup
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ tsp. Celtic or Pink Himalayan salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.

Serves 6-8 (as a side dish)

Gazpacho

I know of no better use for ripe tomatoes at their peak than Gazpacho. Historically, Gazpacho was likely made to use up stale bread. A liquid salad, made of ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, vinegar, garlic and bread moistened with water and olive oil, would have been pounded with a mortar and pestle, resulting in a hearty cold soup. Today, Gazpacho is made in blenders and food processors for a smoother consistency. Some people recommend straining the Gazpacho before serving but others prefer the texture of the soup unstrained. I’m with the latter group.

Thick or thin, smooth or textured, this flavorful liquid salad that hails from Andalusia, Spain is an absolute breeze to assemble and should be a part of every cook’s repertoire. It’s an excellent choice for entertaining because it requires no cooking, and can be made ahead. In fact, preparing the soup ahead of time is best because it allows the soup time to chill and the flavors time to develop.

This version of Gazpacho is every bit as refreshing and nourishing without the bread and olive oil and has the perfect balance between flavour and texture for me.

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  • 6 large tomatoes,
  • 1 medium hothouse or English cucumber
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 60 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 125 ml filtered water

Since I like Gazpacho with texture rather than completely smooth, this recipe calls for the soup to be only partially pureed. If you prefer a smoother texture, blend the tomatoes with the other ingredients until you reach your desired consistency.

Place 5 chopped tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a high speed blender and puree. Pour into a large bowl. Finely dice the remaining vegetables and add them to the bowl; or, coarsely chop the vegetables and run them, one at a time, through a food processor. Once all of the vegetables have been added to the pureed tomato mixture in the bowl, stir the soup to blend and adjust seasonings. Add water to thin, if necessary, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6

Fast and Easy Cereal

Starting your morning with wholesome grains, seeds, fruits and nuts doesn’t get much easier. This recipe is entirely versatile to meet individual preferences so feel free to change the types and quantities of grains, seeds, fruits and nuts listed below to ones you like. Use the list below as a guideline.

Top the cereal with any fresh and dried fruits you have on hand or replace the ones listed below with your own favourite combination. In the past I’ve varied the recipe to include sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, dried cherries, figs and apricots. There are no hard rules here. This breakfast meal is very satiating and will keep you going for hours. The old adage “a little goes a long way” is useful to remember.

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  • 250 grams (1 cup) pecans
  • 250 grams (1 cup) almonds, sliced
  • 250 grams (1 cup) walnuts
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 80 grams (1/3 cup) hemp seeds
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) sesame seeds, white or black
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) sun-dried cranberries, unsweetened, or sweetened with apple juice
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) raisins
  • Pinch salt

Combine everything in a bowl and toss to distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour into a large Mason jar and store cereal mix in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Serve with Almond milk and fresh fruit. Sliced bananas and/or blueberries are delicious with this cereal! How easy is this?