Cooking for the Wolf: Breakfast Chez Elena (Hempseed Pancakes)

During brunch with my parents the other day, I ordered buckwheat crepes and fruit, a far cry from my custard filled and syrup drenched breakfast favourites of the past.  The buckwheat crepes were boring, unsatisfying, and considering how I felt afterwards, most likely contained gluten despite it’s name.  This morning, I decided to try my hand at a homemade, protein-packed, vegan, gluten-free alternative: Hempseed pancakes (Choosing Raw) with almond butter and  fresh strawberry, chia seed  jam (Thrive).

The hempseed pancake recipe was simple and didn’t require any strange, gluten-free baking additives like xanthum gum, which I appreciated.  The batter came out quite thick, so I added more almond milk than listed.  You have to be careful not to make the pancakes too large or too thin, since they are fragile and prone to crumbling when flipping. The pancakes themselves are pretty dense, so be careful of making them too thick. I was barely able to eat two small pancakes before feeling full!  I only made half the recipe, yet I found myself with a good amount of batter left, so I popped it into the freezer for another day.  In the end though,  it’s all about the toppings. I wasn’t feeling like anything too sweet this morning, so I opted for a PB & J version of almond butter and a no-cook, sugar-free, fresh strawberry chia seed jam to add extra nutrients.

Chia seeds (of “chia pet” fame) were used as an endurance food by Aztecs and Mayans to increase energy levels while hunting.  Due to the nature of these seeds, they absorb water very easily (9-10 times of their weight), therefore, resulting in prolonged hydration and retention of electrolytes, which is one of the reasons why endurance runners tend to use these seeds.  They are extremely nutritious, containing around 22% of protein, 35% of healthy fats (Omega 3, Omega 6), 25% of dietary fiber and contain plenty of minerals and vitamins (calcium, potassium, and iron).  They are said to provide relief from arthritis and diabetes (by absorbing sugar), decrease blood pressure, help with acid reflux, and improve the general cardiac health.  They can be put in smoothies, as salad toppers, as well as a variety of other uses. Click here for a great article on the benefits of chia.

That being said, a mountain of fruit & maple syrup, or a nutella & banana inspired version would be delicious, as well!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

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Cooking for the Wolf: Farmer’s Market Inspiration!

Despite the cold, torrential downpour, the fresh, fragrant produce of my farmer’s market anniversary celebration inspired and motivated me to log some serious time at the kitchen counter.  A second trip this past Saturday fueled the fire, resulting in an array of farmer’s market creations and discoveries: My first taste of sauteed beet greens (why throw them out?), the discovery of collard greens (perfect in smoothies!), my first batch of homemade  hummus, lentil burger patties, curried butternut squash with kale, raw marinara sauce, and chilled roasted beet and avocado soup.  Most of the recipes are from Brendan Brazier’s amazing book, “Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health.”  As a newbie cook, I’m loving the simplicity and ease of the recipes so far. I’m hoping to work through each recipe ala “Julie and Julia,”except without the time pressure. I’ve knocked off 11 out of 200 already, so there’s plenty of epic food adventure ahead! The raw recipes have me especially curious and eager to learn and experiment.  A Face Forward “Raw Food for a Week”  Wellness Challenge is definitely on the horizon!

Here are some pics of my most recent Cooking for the Wolf adventures. I can’t wait to visit the market again this weekend!

Kale bundles of nutrient-packed goodness! 

Anniversary Celebration Farmer’s Market Bounty!

Now that’s a good lookin’ onion.

Orange beets roasted and peeled for blending.

Chilled Soup & Margherita Pizza

Chilled roasted beet & avocado soup (Thrive) & tortilla wrap goat cheese mozzarella, fresh basil margherita pizza (my own creation) with homemade tomato sauce (modified from Thrive): The notion of cold soup was never appealing to me, but this recipe is delicious! I’m definitely planning to make this one often.

Lentil Patty Over Greens

Homemade lentil burger patty (Thrive) over a spinach salad with hemp & chia seed vinaigrette (my creation): My very first homemade patty! I pay $12 for a similar meal at my local vegan burger joint – why pay when I can make it at home on my own? No brainer!

Treasures from my market trip this past Saturday: Check out the rainbow carrots and the purple peppers! The fresh, organic basil was my favourite purchase of the day. The fragrance was so delightful, I continued my shopping with it held up to my nose as though it were a bouquet of flowers!

Raw Marinara Sauce & Brown Rice Pasta

Raw marinara sauce (modified from Thrive) over brown rice spaghetti: The recipe originally called for strips of zucchini instead of cooked pasta for a truly raw pasta dish, but I opted for the quick fix. Sorry for the poor picture quality, I was so hungry I didn’t think to check the picture before digging in!

 

 

 

 

Face Forward into 2012: Finding Love in the Kitchen

(source)

One of the first things that 2012 brought to my door (quite literally) was a bag of gently used cooking pots. Previous to that, I was spontaneously gifted three integral cooking utensils that I have stubbornly gone without.  Who knew that using a garlic press for the first time could cause me so much happiness?  What the heck was I thinking this whole time not using one?  My generous benefactors have made me realize that not only do I have to learn to cook healthy food, but I need to enjoy it.  I cooked more in 2011 than I ever have in my whole life and for that, I am proud, but my motivation to be in the kitchen is still spotty at best.  Having the right tools can really make the difference between a happy, inspired cook and a cranky girl fumbling with a garlic clove. That being said, the only reasonable thing to do now is to search for love… in the kitchen.  It’s not the typical romance most people hope for at the beginning of the New Year, but if I can find joy at the chopping block then there’ll be joy in my joints.

Here are two things I’ve done recently to pave the way for some extra enjoyment and motivation in the kitchen:

1.  Clear the space:  I brought an old shelving unit I had in the kitchen of my previous apartment out of storage, so I could move things like my toaster oven, knives, etc., off my counter.  Now, the area is less cluttered, more inviting, and there is more room to prep ingredients.

2. Keep it in plain sight:  I bought glass containers, so that I can line my newly spacious counter with healthy ingredients to remind me to use them. Quinoa, dried cranberries/raisins, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, wild/brown rice, and gluten-free pasta are currently on display.

I’m looking to be inspired, my friends, by your tales of kitchen love.  What keeps you coming back for more?

Cooking for the Wolf: Pumping Iron with an Avocado & Sardine Sandwich

I’m all about pumping iron lately and although I’m dealing with the lighter, food-derived version, it’s takes just about the same amount of concerted effort!  I’ve had a history of anemia, so I wasn’t surprised when my G.P. prescribed me iron pills a few weeks ago.  Dr. K, my lovely naturopath and fellow Lupie, is helping me focus on iron-rich foods so that the pill will be a temporary measure.  She told me that she eats a lot of iron-rich sardines in her household, usually breading them out of the can, paired with a yummy dipping sauce.  Growing up, my parents would add onions and spinach to a tomato sauce pack of sardines and serve it alongside one of my favourite comfort foods, a steaming bowl of white rice.  I tried making it at home a few months back, but my adult palette was unable to stomach it or perhaps, it’s just one of those dishes that only taste good when Mom and Dad make it.  So, when Dr. K suggested sardines as an optimal way to get my iron pumping, I was feeling like these little fish may not be the option for me.  However, since one can of sardines makes up 20% of the recommended daily intake of iron, I couldn’t give up on the idea quite yet.

Determined not to be discouraged, I took to the internet and found an avocado and sardine sandwich recipe.  Having only seen them eaten with rice, sardines on a sandwich or on crackers was a pretty foreign concept to me.  The recipe also called for skinless, deboned sardines, which I had never tried.  I’m a HUGE avocado fan, so I figured it was worth a try, especially since the recipe I found was inspired by one of my Food Network favourites, Alton Brown. As it turns out, the recipe is DELICIOUS, especially if you can get your hands on some freshly baked bread to make it with.  Check out the recipe here.  Not only is this sandwich an iron knock-out, but the avocado and sardine combo is saturated with Omega 3 goodness, not to mention the anti-inflammatory and brain benefits of avocado and fish oils.  Oh, and did I mention it tasted good?

For more of a vegan spin on iron, check out this amazing looking and iron packed vegan sweet potato and black bean enchilada recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Choosing Raw.  It’s on the list to try, as well as integrating molasses into my baking and smoothies (15% of your recommended daily intake of iron per tablespoon) as recommended by Dr.K, and by Gena from Choosing Raw.

I have to note that I was very surprised to find that as a sufferer of Lupus, my naturopath was not a vegetarian or a vegan.  From all that I have read on “healing ways of eating,” I just assumed she would be.  I would say she’s pretty much an “almost vegetarian/vegan” that tailors her diet to the food sensitivities/allergies she has discovered (gluten, sugar, dairy, etc.).  She recommends the anti-inflammatory benefits of deep sea, small fish that are low in mercury (like sardines).  In fact, she has me taking a tablespoon of fish oil everyday. I’m still stumbling around with this whole “what the heck should I be eating” thing, but I think I’m calming down a bit from the “I need to know right NOW” mentality that I’ve had lately.   The art of eating should be a life-long journey of yummy discovery and at this point in life, it’s a cleaner, more beneficial kind of yummy (I love you, but sorry, M & Ms) and my palette will surely change as I change.  Today, I’m deep-sea fishing and tomorrow I might be up to my elbows in ancient grain goodness, but I’ll figure it out one spoonful at a time.