Cheesy Bread Bites

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I…kind of can’t stop eating these things. They are delicious by themselves, but also pretty good with a little cheese between two, like a mini-sandwich. I’ve experimented with the flatter version, too. While good, they are not very cracker like, and not very sturdy when dipped.,

½ cup ground flaxseed
3 eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (can use coconut oil)
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
½ cup of coconut flour, sifted
One opened curcumin capsule
Big pinch of salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup ground flaxseed

Preheat your over to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Blend the flaxseed, eggs, butter, salt, spices and cheese. Add ½ cup of the coconut flour. Knead the dough until it is moist and slightly sticky. Add a bit more coconut flour if the dough is too wet. If the dough is too dry, add more water, another egg, or a little more melted butter. Shape the dough into balls the size of a walnut; flatten them with a fork until they are less than ½ inch thick. For crackers, make them even thinner. Bake for 7 minutes and then turn them; bake for 8 more minutes until golden brown on both sides.

I have tried these with cheddar, goat cheese, and Daiya. The cheddar was my favorite. The Daiya vegan cheese is mostly made out of tapioca starch, so it has a higher oxalate content.

I got this recipe from Sarah Wilson’s excellent I Quit Sugar program. I adapted them to be lower in oxalate by replacing the chia seed with ground flaxseed. Then, I made them more IC friendly be replacing the chili flakes with white pepper and other spices.

Enjoy!

New Year’s Black-Eyed Peas

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New Year’s Day is a special time for me. Long after the midnight revel has ended, and the noisemakers are put away, it is a day to reflect. And to cook. I have wonderful memories of going over to my grandmother’s house on New Year’s Day. We would eat pork roast (which I avoided during a 15-year stint of vegetarianism), and collards, and, of course, black-eyed peas.

“Eat some more for good luck!” she’d say. The collards represented money; the black-eyed peas, luck. Some years I go without the collards, but I would never, ever skip the black-eyed peas.

Please enjoy this recipe. I adapted it from this lovely website:

http://www.yourveganmom.com/your_vegan_mom/2011/12/black-eyed-peas.html

While it’s not going to give the same taste of paprika, the curcumin gives the dish an interesting, deep flavor. If you are not on a low oxalate diet, cumin will do just fine and still be IC friendly. The red pepper gives the dish both color and a lower amount of oxalate.

I do soak my peas, which is probably not necessary, but it helps me worry less about the dish being ready in time for company! Taste the dish often as the beans get soft enough. Add a little extra salt or other seasoning if you need to. In just a few hours, you will have a scrumptious dish to help ring in the New Year. I enjoy this dish with a bit of cornbread (it’s hard to limit myself to one piece!)

1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 opened curcumin capsule
salt and white pepper to taste
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
Optional if tolerated: pinch of smoked salt
finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and scallions to garnish

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the onion and red bell pepper in the butter. Stir in the garlic powder and opened curcumin capsule. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the beans are soft, about 2 hours.

Have a Happy New Year; I hope this dish helps you enjoy it all the more.

Roasted Pumpkin

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Halloween has long come and gone. I was shocked, though, to find my uncarved pumpkin was still good by December! Roasting it whole was fun and yielded a lot of delicious squashy goodness. Squash, especially pumpkin, is one of the most low oxalate things you can eat.

Another nice thing about pumpkin: It can help fill the role of a satisfying starch. If you are avoiding grains altogether, pumpkin is your friend. Pumpkin can even be a treat for your pets; my vet recommends giving a cat or dog on a diet a little pumpkin to ease hunger in between meals.

Trying this recipe, with a big pumpkin or small pumpkin, is absolutely worth it.

Ingredients
one pumpkin, uncarved

Gently wash and dry the outside of your pumpkin. Do not use your pumpkin if there are signs of mold or rot; patchy skin is normal. Using a sharp knife, puncture the skin of the pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove an oven rack so there is enough room for the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray.

Cook it whole for two hours at 350F degrees.

Let the pumpkin cool all the way down, then peel and seed it. First, scoop the strings and seeds out from the middle. If you like, discard the strings and save the seeds. They are very good boiled with a little salt and then baked.

Using a food processor, puree the peeled pumpkin. I suggest using a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any excess water.

Pumpkin freezes well. Use the pumpkin puree to add to soups or desserts, such as pumpkin chicken soup or pumpkin parfait. You can also leave chunks of it whole and enjoy as a very simple side dish.

What ways have you used pumpkins? I would like to put soup IN a pumpkin for a dinner party, kind of like a bread bowl without the bread. I feel as if all the holidays are running together this year; I was hopelessly unprepared for Christmas, but getting the last Halloween decoration on the dinner table reset something in my brain. In honor of more Holiday Time Warps, expect a black-eyed pea recipe soon.

Tortilla Espanola

Do you ever crave something simple? Something you can make with common kitchen staples…or make to use up the five-pound bag of red potatoes you bought pretty much because it was on sale?

Then this dish, my friends, is for you. Red potatoes are lower oxalate than many other kinds of potatoes. You can very easily cut the recipe in half, but it does refrigerate well and keeps for a few days. This recipe makes four servings. If you are having guests over for brunch, it would be the perfect thing to whip up (especially if everyone is sick of Thanksgiving leftovers).

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1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
About 4 small red potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 onion, thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper (garlic powder is a nice addition)
8 large eggs
Suggested garnish: freshly cut chives

Preheat the broiler to high. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan. Add the potato and onion slices, season with salt and white pepper, and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until the potatoes and onion are soft but not browned. This could take 10 minutes or a bit longer.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and season with salt and white pepper. Scrape the potato mixture into the bowl and mix gently with the eggs.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the mixture of eggs, potatoes and onions, spreading it out in an even layer. Cover and cook over low heat until the egg is set around the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes, until the top is just beginning to brown.

Set a large plate over the skillet and carefully invert the tortilla onto the plate. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from http://www.runnerskitchen.com/tag/tortilla-espanola/

Zucchini and roasted red pepper gratin

Zucchini is still available in this corner of the world, in spite of the cold weather. They sit, on sale, mocking me at the grocery store. Roasted zucchini and tomatoes go so well together, you see. I can’t really eat tomatoes anymore without some discomfort, and tomatoes are no good at this time of year anyway. Then I remember: I can make a version of Smitten Kitchen’s zucchini gratin WITHOUT tomatoes!

I use roasted red pepper, which I buy in a big jar, in place of the tomatoes. They add color and moisture to the dish. Since I don’t use minced garlic, I make sure to taste the rice mixture before putting in the eggs. Feel free to add a little extra seasoning if necessary.

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1/3 cup uncooked white rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound roasted red peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Table salt and white pepper
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder (if tolerated)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, divided

Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook the rice. While rice cooks, coat one large baking sheet with a tablespoon of olive oil (a bit less for smaller pans). Spread zucchini slices on the baking sheets in as close to a single layer as you can. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of white pepper. Roast the zucchini for 20 minutes. Flip zucchini halfway through.

Heat large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heat oil, then add onions, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking onion until limp and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Taste bits of your dish to see if you have enough seasoning. Combine onion mixture, rice, eggs, thyme, half of your grated cheese and a half-tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl. Add a good amount of white pepper. Use the remaining half-tablespoon of olive oil to coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spread half of rice mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange half of roasted zucchini on top. Spread remaining rice mixture over it. Arrange remaining zucchini on top, then the roasted red pepper slices. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/07/zucchini-rice-gratin/

Pumpkin Parfait

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½ cup plain, low fat yogurt
2/3 cup blueberries
½ cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
2 tsp. vanilla extract, separated
Optional: two teaspoons honey or molasses or ¼ dropper of liquid stevia, blended into the yogurt or pumpkin

Measure out your yogurt and pumpkin into separate containers. Blend them each with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Alternate spoonfuls of yogurt, pumpkin, and blueberries in a wine glass or other clear glass. Serve immediately.

Fall is finally here! While the live oaks keep their color, the sweet gum trees and a few others have started to turn gorgeous. The wind is getting brisk…and I’ve been working on recipes like apple topping and mulled apple cider. Pumpkins are showing up in the supermarkets more frequently. You no longer get strange looks if you ask where the canned pumpkin is. I just had to make something pumpkin-y.

Pumpkin and parfaits were meant to be. The vanilla extract adds a sweetness and depth of flavor to both the yogurt and the pumpkin. Layered between lashings of blueberries, I found this sweet enough by itself. Feel free to add other flavors—cinnamon or cinnamon extract would be lovely, nutmeg, maybe even a hint of ginger or cardamom. If you enjoy grains, you could toast up some oats and sprinkle them on top. I would recommend eating such a creation quickly—the yogurt will get the oats soggy if you let it sit. As it stands, whether you use frozen or fresh blueberries, you can eat this immediately or prepare it the night before. Do expect a little purple effect if you use frozen blueberries overnight.

I like to serve mine in a wine glass, and you could very easily double the recipe.

Each serving has approximately 165 calories, 20 grams of sugar (mostly from the yogurt and blueberries), and 8 grams of protein.

Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake (Savory Dinner Recipe)

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1 medium cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds, 23 to 24 ounces or 650 to 700 grams)
1 large red or white onion, peeled
5 to 7 1/2 tablespoons (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
10 medium or 8 large eggs
Handful (3/4 ounce or 20 grams) basil, chiffonaded
Scant 1 1/2 cups (180 grams or 6.3 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground curcumin
2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese (200 grams or 7 3/4 ounces) or about 1 generous cup of grated Romano cheese
Salt and white pepper
Butter, for greasing pan

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) degrees. Break cauliflower into medium florets (this will cause less mess than chopping it). Place floret in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Strain and let drip in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Halve your red onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan (consider reusing the one you cooked your cauliflower in) and sautee the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil. Whisk flour, baking powder, curcumin, cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (use 1 teaspoon if you are nervous about this amount) and several dashes of white pepper in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so most pieces remain intact.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch (24cm) round springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides generously. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Before you serve the cake, be sure to run a knife around the pan.

Some of you may be wondering…why is there so much flour in a low oxalate recipe? Trust me; this cauliflower “cake” is so dense, one serving is pretty filling. Just be sure to serve it with some low oxalate sides, such as a nice salad made with Romaine lettuce and red peppers, or perhaps some peaches or cherries. I do wonder how you could make it with coconut flour…perhaps using a lot of flaxseed and reducing the amount of flour to ½ cup? I might experiment with it. Rice flour also sounds like a promising experiment.

To clarify, it is a savory dish. Unlike a quiche, the flour is folded directly into the egg mixture. The result is a pretty, tasty dish (though it did stick a bit to the pan). I would recommend using the springform pan. If you don’t have one, be sure to really grease your baking pan; it is a bit sticky. I got many, many servings out of this. It reheats well and makes for an ideal Sunday supper.

Adapted from: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/10/cauliflower-and-parmesan-cake/

Watermelon Popsicles

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4-5 cups of seedless watermelon chunks, separated
one tablespoon of agave nectar

Place the first half of the watermelon chunks into a blender. Tamp the chunks down with a spoon so they are closer to the blades of the blender. Get a medium-sized bowl ready. Using a fine mesh strainer, pour the watermelon juice into the bowl. Use a spoon to push down any pulp into the bowl; throw away the seeds.
Take the second half of the watermelon chunks and blend them. Strain the juice and seeds into the same bowl. Then, pour the entire bowl of juice back into the blender. Add one tablespoon of agave nectar. Blend until combined.

Pour the juice into your popsicle mold. Freeze until solid, preferably overnight. Ice cube trays or Dixie cups with popsicle sticks make good improvised molds.

I admit, it’s a little late in the season to be posting popsicle recipes. But these are so easy and refreshing. Here in the South, there are going to be several weeks yet of warm weather, perfect for enjoying these on the porch. They are sweet, and a little drippy, and darn near perfect. What sweet, cold things do you find refreshing?

It’s kind of funny…I used to basically eat close to half a box of Popsicles in one go, before I started this journey. One just wouldn’t satisfy whatever craving I had. Now, I can happily gnaw one of these, emphasis on one. I hope they bring you a similar sense of satisfaction.

Also, the Dixie cup popsicles are insanely cute. I have a recipe for blueberry creamsicles I’ll have to share soon, and the sticks stand up straighter. The watermelon mixture is basically juice, so it’s hard to get them to stand upright. They look like little drunken desserts.

Naked Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowl

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1½ cups dry white rice
1 can of chickpeas or black-eyed peas, opened and rinsed
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 capsule curcumin
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
two tablespoons olive oil
eight ounces of goat cheese or other cheese, crumbled or shredded (may omit for a vegan burrito bowl, as pictured)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop the zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Toss the vegetables with 2 Tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp white pepper, ½ tsp oregano, and 1 curcumin capsule, opened. Spread the vegetables out over a large sheet pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring once half way through.

Combine the rice in a medium pot with ½ tsp garlic powder and
½ tsp salt.

Add 3 cups of water, place a lid on top, and bring up to a boil over high heat. As soon as it reaches a full boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it sit undisturbed until you’re ready to assemble the burrito bowls. Fluff the rice just before using.

Combine 1/3 cup of rice on a tortilla, add ¼ cup of chickpeas or black-eyed peas, ⅓ cup of the roasted vegetables, cheese to taste, and a handful of fresh cilantro leaves in a bowl.

Adapted from http://www.budgetbytes.com/2012/09/roasted-vegetable-burritos/

If you tolerate more oxalate, you may make traditional burritos. I like this recipe because it’s relatively quick—you can get the rice going at the same time as the veggies, and then it’s simple to assemble the bowls. It makes several servings, too. You can put an individual portion in a freezer-safe container and freeze it, even with the cheese. Sadly, I was out of the delicious honeyed goat cheese I used the first time I made these, but the vegan version is just as filling! If you choose to use tortillas, those also freeze well.

But who needs a tortilla when you have these beautiful colors? Enjoy! (We’ll ignore the tortilla chips I baked; I’ll save that recipe for another post!)

Fiction Friday: Flash Fiction Contest Entry, “Charlotte”

Charlotte walked into the kitchen, her Mary Janes making crisp noises on the bare hardwood floor.

“All ready, Mom!” she chirped. Mom smiled, though Charlotte noticed her mom’s mouth twitched a bit.

“Good job, baby. Let’s brush that pretty hair of yours; I think we have a few minutes before the bus comes.”

Mom took Charlotte’s hand and walked into their bedroom. Charlotte sat down on the chair in front of the vanity. She looked in the mirror and smiled. Mom picked up the good hairbrush and began stroking Charlotte’s hair. This was one of Charlotte’s favorite parts of the day, feeling her mother’s sure fingers teasing out the occasional knot, humming as she stroked.

Charlotte watched Mom’s reflection pull out a long, blonde hair from the brush.
“I swear, Charlotte, your hair just gets prettier every day!”

Charlotte beamed, then turned towards the window. The windows were much smaller in their new house, and it had been hard getting used to going to school every day instead of staying with Mom and reading and going out to run errands. But she was starting to like her new classmates.

“Well, I guess that’s our cue,” Mom sighed. “Come on, baby, let’s get you out the door. I can pick you up after work today. Maybe we’ll come home and bake something.”

Charlotte hugged her mom around the waist. “Yeah! Bye, Mom!”

Mom pecked her cheek. “Be good. Be sure to keep your ankles crossed.”

Charlotte huffed. “Moooom!”

“Young lady, have a good day at school. You know the rules.”

Charlotte looked up at her mom. “Yes, ma’am.”

The rest of the morning passed quickly. Finally, it was snack time. Charlotte ate her ring cookies and sipped her apple juice. She needed to go to the bathroom, so she walked to the corner of the classroom. They shared it with the younger kindergartners next door.

Charlotte knocked on the door, squirming a little bit. Since no one was there, she opened the door and let herself in.

The toilet was little and lower than the one they had at home, and easier to use. Charlotte sighed in relief and situated herself, making sure to lock the door. She yanked her panties down and hiked up her dress; she REALLY needed to go. Charlotte plopped down on the toilet seat.

The door popped open. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” said Marcy. She was sometimes the playground helper and she was the classroom aide for the little kids next door. “Please excuse me, Charlotte…uh…“ Marcy trailed off.

Charlotte froze. “Please…please leave? My mom said you should always knock.”

“I’ll be right back.”

Charlotte heard a muffled voice through the door.

“What do you mean she has a penis? Do you realize we could get sued? Are you sure there isn’t some kind of mistake?”

Marcy’s hushed voice couldn’t be made out. Snippets came through…something about child projected services?

Charlotte sniffed and pulled her panties up, then walked out the door of the restroom.

Her teacher was waiting for her. Her lips were pressed into a thin line.

“We’re giving your mom a call, and then you’re going to go to a special meeting.”

Charlotte didn’t go home that night. During the meeting, Charlotte didn’t understand why her mom started screaming and crying. Charlotte’s face crumpled up when a police officer came and walked away with her mother.

“Shh, shh, it’s ok baby. You’re my perfect little girl. They’ll understand and this will all be over soon. We’ll bake something, we’ll make chocolates…it will be a regular candy factory when you come home.”

Before she knew it, Charlotte was at Walmart. They bought her an ugly striped shirt and shorts. The lady had to show her how to put them on. The lady wanted Charlotte to put the new underwear on, but Charlotte started whimpering.

The next few weeks were a blur of meeting with new people. A doctor, more meeting with the lady, who was something called a “case worker.” A special doctor, who said he worked with children and showed her puppets. She kind of liked the doctor; he let her play with dolls.

The new people she lived with were named Stan and Janet. They’d shown her to a new bed the first night. Everything smelled funny, none of the good wood polish smell like at home. There were no dolls or stuffed animals, only toy trucks and make-believe tools.

“Charlie, supper’s ready,” called Stan. Charlotte did not budge. “Dammit, boy, I SAID supper’s ready.”

Janet shushed him. “Charles? Sweetie? Come one, we have brownies for dessert!” Charlotte knew she wasn’t supposed to hear the next thing, but she’d gotten really good at listening.

“Stan, it’s not his fault his mother’s crazy. Raising a perfectly normal boy as a girl…my god. We have to set a good example; be easier on him.”

Stan grunted. Charlotte heard the jingle of his car keys. “Janet, I’ll eat later. The boy’s coming with me. Charles! Come here.”

Charlotte knew better than to disobey. She shuffled towards the kitchen. Her new sneakers were too big.

“Let’s go in the truck.”

Stan helped Charlotte climb up onto the big seat. He buckled her in. They drove down the road. Stan pulled into a cluster of small shops. One of them had a big red and white striped pole.

“Alright, son,” said Stan. “You’re not going to like it, but it’s time we did something with that hair.”

“Oh, Mommy used to cut my hair,” said Charlotte.

They walked in.

“This little boy needs a haircut very badly,” said Stan.

The barber raised an eyebrow. “I’d say so. Come on, then, get in the chair.”

Charlotte winced as the man put her hair into a ponytail. She heard a snick and watched, disbelievingly, as the man came away with a long rope of hair in his hand.
Charlotte looked in the mirror, and screamed as a stranger looked back at her.