Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amaranth Breakfast Love

Amaranth is a pseudograin, (like quinoa, buckwheat and wild rice) meaning it's actually seed but cooks up like a grain.  It is considered by many to be a superfood - delivering twice the calcium of milk,  a high dose of protein, fiber, complex carbs, iron, potassium and many other vitamins.  Unlike acid-forming milk and dairy, amaranth is alkalizing to the system, which allows the body to more readily absorb its calcium.*

Amaranth is the bomb (can I still use that expression?).  It's gluten free, tasty, and quicker to cook than rice.  I've found conflicting information on the web about whether or not it is a complete protein - some say yes, some say no.  What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that it's a nutritionally dense, high quality protein - a definite must-add to the pantries of anyone who is looking to eat well and feel good. (There are also studies that show it to be beneficial to those with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.)  Try it in this simple, four ingredient breakfast dish and see how you like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Onigiri (Brown rice balls)

 These rice balls are a breeze to make and are great for a light lunch on their own, or as an addition to a lunch box.  They're also the perfect food to sneak into your day-pack for an energy boost when you're trekking, cross-country skiing, or even office working.  There are lots of possible variations, but my present favourite is brown rice with umboshi plum paste, edamame, and a small piece of avocado tucked into the centre.  If you know you'll be making them, soak your rice for an hour in advance - up to overnight.

Umboshi plum paste is a new flavour in my world, and I'm in love.  It's powerfully salty and sour (yes please) and a little bit goes a very long way.  According to this article, "Their powerful acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins."  If that's true, bonus!  If not, oh well, it's still super tasty.  If you're not into it or don't have it on hand, try substituting miso to add depth of flavour, sea salt, or smoked sea salt.  (I buy smoked sea salt at Spice Station - a place I can't recommend highly enough if you're living in Montreal or LA.)  Let's do this!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Jackfruit Quick Bread

I've been in a major rut in the kitchen lately.  The last four or five things I've baked  to sell at the gym have bordered on inedible, and I've had a string of dinners that have been, well, lacklustre, to put it mildly.  When Philippe, the most enthusiastic eater you'd ever want to have at your table (or not want, depending on whether or not you're trying to save leftovers) neither speaks nor finishes his bowl, you know you're in trouble.  Last week I even went so far as to buy a brownie mix, something I haven't done in years, thinking that I needed a sure thing, a winner, a confidence booster to get me back in the game.  I replaced the eggs with "flax eggs" and ended up with a weird, greasy, plastic-y brownie roll-up that literally boiled in the oven, burned on the edges, and came out about 1/4 inch thick. (The really sad part is that I ate it anyway.)

Anyhoo...all that sadness and despair ended yesterday with this wonderful jackfruit cake.  A Christmas miracle!  It's very easy to put together, and has the lovely, light, distinct flavour of jackfruit.  I've made it twice already, and especially like it with the additions of a bit of coconut and walnuts.  I'm back!  (Fingers crossed) And I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

BBQ Faux Pulled Pork Sandwich - with Jackfruit

There's a tiny place near our house that sells an amazing faux pulled pork sandwich.  It's basically a convenience store with a flat top grill, a row of bar stools, an espresso machine, and electropop on the radio.  Sandwiches are around $6 bucks and you'll be dining with a mix of construction works and hipsters.  I can't figure out how they make their faux pulled pork to save my life, and it's the kind of thing you crave at odd hours.  They say they're using "tofu skin," but I'm at a complete loss for how they arrive at the texture of the final product.  I would have guessed seitan was involved, but I would have been wrong.  If you live in Montreal, it's worth checking out - D├ępanneur Le Pick Up.  You won't be sorry.

I gave up on trying to master a BBQ tofu sandwich a while ago - I always end up with an unimpressive flavourless rubber concoction covered in BBQ sauce.  Le Pick Up sandwiches are great, but what if I need a spicy, sloppy, BBQ sandwich fix during their off hours?  Lucky for me, (and you) I've just found a killer alternative in jackfruit.  Jackfruit appeared on my radar for the first time a couple of months ago when I read about it in a tiny online cookbook from Vega.  It can be preserved in syrup as a sweet fruit, in which case its flavour is somewhere between pineapple and banana, or it can be preserved in brine and used as a pork substitute.  Now THAT's a versatile fruit.