Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution: great foods for 2010

Happy New Year!!!


The New Year is a time for resolutions, the perfect moment to make small changes that can have a great impact over time.  I usually fix on at least one health- or diet-related resolution.  This year is no exception.  I have two overarching goals for 2010:  to explore more unfamiliar ingredients, to learn more about sustainable foods, and to integrate them into my family's diet.

Throughout January I will be celebrating the new year by featuring a variety of interesting ingredients starting with Amaranth. I'll be posting info and recipes about this fascinating grain-that-isn't-really-a -grain during the first week of January.

I wish you a healthy and Joyful 2010!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ending the Year On a Sweet Note: Walnut Cookies with Chocolate

walnut cookie bite

Months ago my sister sent me an email with a recipe for walnut macaroons. She wrote that they were deliciously addictive, and that I just had to try them.  I meant to make a batch right away but got busy and forgot about it.

With all the holiday baking, I ran out of a lot of ingredients in my pantry. I was all set to make my truffles when I realized I was out of hazelnuts.  I decided to make something with the only bag of nuts left on the shelf: walnuts.  I could have made the truffles using walnuts  but then I had an epiphany--I remembered my sister's email.  A few taps on the keyboard and I had it in front of me: the perfect walnut cookie recipe.  I can't leave well-enough alone, however, so I played around with some of the ingredients and altered her wonderful recipe into something that met my own preferences: reduced the sugar, added some brown rice syrup and coconut flour for texture.   These cookies were a huge hit with my family and friends. I'm sure that even my sister would approve if she could only fly over here and share some over coffee.

walnut chocolate chip cookies close-up

These cookies are so moist and rich tasting, it's hard to believe that they do not contain butter.  The orange zest works really well with the flavor of the ground walnuts.  A few chocolate chips in the center enhance these cookies and  make them even more memorable.  I had fun watching my seven year-old nibble his way around the cookie.  He carefully worked at isolating all three chocolate chips in the center to dedicate them for his very last bite without getting any of the melted chocolate on his hands--not an easy task!

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walnut cookies on rack

Walnut Cookies with Chocolate Chips (makes 36)

16 oz of walnut pieces, ground in the food processor
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Zest of one orange
1 large egg + 1/2 cup egg whites, beaten

1/4 cup coconut flour
Dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Oil two cookie sheets and set aside
  • Mix all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, together in a bowl until uniform
  • Wet your hands slightly, and take a little under a tablespoon of the batter and roll it into a ball.  Set it on the prepared cookie sheet and continue this step until the batter is all gone.  Set the balls in rows about 1 1/2" apart from each other.
  • Place three chocolate chips in the center of each one and gently push down to flatten slightly.
  • Place the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 18 minutes.  The bottoms of the cookies should be golden.
  • Let cool on a wire rack.  Completely cooled cookies can be stored for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Printable Recipe


Craving more cookies?
Cardamon Dark Chocolate Cookies 
Gluten Free Cranberry Pistachio Wedding Cookies  
Lebanese Gluten-Free Walnut Cookies

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Birthday Wishes and Cake for the Birthday Boy!

birthdaywishes copy

December is always super busy for us--as it is I am sure for a lot of people. On top of holiday events, we celebrate two birthdays with a fun outing, a special meal and a homemade cake.  This year, I took my husband to paint a bowl with me at our local paint-your-own pottery place.  It was lots of fun.  I highly recommend it for a date. We picked up beverages and then the two of us worked on the piece he selected: a chopstick bowl.  In the afternoon, the kids took him to the movies while I made his special meal and dessert.


The chocolate cake was really decadent and rich--definitely not for the faint of heart. It's really dense and wonderful with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream on top. Of course, you don't have to wait for a birthday to try it!


Don't miss a single recipe---subscribe to Artsy-Foodie using the tool at the top right of the screen and receive Artsy-Foodie in a convenient email newsletter.

Chocolate Overload Cake (serves 8-10)
Use the very best quality chocolate you can find in order to ensure amazing results.The cake can be made the day before--cool completely, wrap it well and refrigerate until you are ready to frost and decorate.

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
10 eggs, yolks separated from whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp espresso instant powder
1 1/2 cups almond meal

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp confectioner sugar

Dark chocolate bar to make chocolate shavings (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Oil a 10" springform pan
  • Melt bittersweet chocolate in a double-boiler--or the microwave (in small increments to ensure the chocolate does not acquire a burnt taste)
  • Set aside to cool
  • Beat the egg whites in a mixer to medium stiff-peaks.  Set aside.
  • In a mixer, beat egg yolks with sugar for three minutes on high speed.
  • Drizzle in the melted chocolate while keeping the mixer on medium and then the espresso powder
  • Add the almond meal.  Mix well
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in the egg whites into the almond-chocolate mixture.  This will take a while--you want to work it slowly
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan
  • Bake cake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  • Let cool completely
  • In a mixer, beat the whipping cream, cocoa powder and sugar together until medium-stiff peaks
  • Frost the cake and decorate as you'd like
  • To make chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler and slide it over the bar of chocolate.  Then use the shavings to decorate the top of the cake once it's been frosted
  • Store in the refrigerator until 15 minutes before serving
Printable Recipe


    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    A Warm Winter Meal: Roasted Kabocha White Bean Soup


    Some vegetables are fascinating in their odd appearances. You have to wonder what treasures rest inside, safely hidden by the strange exterior. Once you scratch the surface of these specimen of nature, beauty often emerges in many unexpected shapes and forms. Celery root is one good example and a personal favorite.  The hairy okra is another.  But today I am all about the Kabocha squash.


    This pumpkin-like japanese squash is dull green and warty--well, at least bumpy.  It would stand little chance of winning the National Pumpkin Beauty Contest-- then again maybe it would...

    I love it because of its incredible velvety texture, its wonderful color, and its fine nutritional pedigree: Vitamin A and C, calcium, folic, iron, potassium, and list goes on. It's a little tough to cut through and peel, so you'll need a good knife. The effort is well worth it and this soup is simply superb.

    Don't miss a single recipe---subscribe to Artsy-Foodie using the tool at the top right of the screen and receive Artsy-Foodie in a convenient email newsletter. 


    Roasted Kabocha Squash & White Bean Soup (6-8 servings)
    You can replace the Kabocha for a cooking pumpkin or a butternut squash but the texture the Kabocha imparts is well-worth seeking it out.  The pears and coconut milk work really well to create a memorable soup.

    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
    1 medium zucchini, diced (2 cups)

    5 cups prepared kabocha squash, diced
    1 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
    1 tsp sea salt

    2 cups Bosc Pears, peeled, cored and diced
    1 large potato, peeled and diced

    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
    3 cups white beans, cooked
    1 piece Kombu seaweed (about 2" long--optional)
    1 tsp ground turmeric
    8 cups water
    1 cup light coconut milk
    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

    • Preheat the oven to 400F.  
    • Place the first 7 ingredients on an oiled cookie sheet and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking process.
    • Transfer roasted vegetable to a large soup pot.
    • Add all the other ingredients except for the coconut milk. Mix well.
    • Set on medium to high heat and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes covered.
    • Add the cup of coconut milk and heat for another 3 minutes.
    • Blend until smooth with an immersion blender.
    • Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro in each bowl.
    Printable Recipe

    Serving Suggestion: Serve with some homemade cornbread.  You can use your own recipe or a GF cornbread mix and then add:
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    • 1/4 cup pepitas
    • 1 tablespoon of roasted pepper, diced
    • 1/2 cup mexican or cheddar cheese
    Bake according to packaging. Enjoy!

    More Soups:
    Velvet Butternut Squash and Lima Bean Soup
    Tofu Vegetable Soup with Miso

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Heaven in Every Bite: Dark Chocolate Truffles

    Truffles in bowl

    Holiday time comes alive when you get the whole family involved in making these marvelous treats. Little ones especially have fun with rolling the truffles in sugar or unsweetened coconut flakes if you are sugar-averse. It also teaches them the joys of creating a gift for someone as opposed to purchasing one. In our family, whoever helps gets to taste. I always have helpers!


    I save glass jars all year long to serve as gift delivery devices.  I have been known to break down and actually purchase an unusual looking one. We use them for water cups, food storage and gift giving. When I need to put together a gift, all I need to do is select one, fill it with scrumptious treats and decorate the lid with a piece of fabric and a pretty ribbon. Sometimes, I'll add a little tag with the ingredients or the recipe. It is always very well received. The challenge is to resist eating these yummy truffles long enough to fill up the jar. If you can't help yourself,  you can at least take comfort in the fact that they are relatively healthy as far as truffles go.

    Truffles on platter

    Don't miss a single recipe---subscribe to Artsy-Foodie using the tool at the top  right of the screen and receive Artsy-Foodie in a convenient email newsletter.

    Dark Chocolate Truffles (makes 13 )
    These treats are delicious and not too sweet. It's important to use the highest quality unsweetened cocoa powder so the richness really comes through. If you like things on the sweeter side you can use only 2 tsp of hazelnut liqueur and then add 1 tsp agave nectar. If you are using the hazelnut extract and water mixture, use only 1 tsp of water and then add the agave nectar.

    1/2 cup hazelnuts
    2 tbsp almond butter
    3 plump dates, pitted
    2 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes
    2 tbsp high quality cocoa powder, unsweetened
    1 tbsp hazelnut liqueur (or 1 tsp hazelnut extract + 2 tsp water)
    1 tsp toasted hazelnut oil (or a mild vegetable oil)

    crystallized sugar to roll in
    or sweetened cocoa powder

    • Place all the ingredients (except for the crystallized sugar or sweetened cocoa powder) in a food processor. 
    • Grind into a paste.  
    • Carefully, grab a little bit of the mixture in between your fingers: it should stick together into a malleable dough.
    • Prepare a plate with the sugar. Set aside for the final step.
    • Form the truffles by taking about two teaspoons of the mixture, clumping it together and rolling it into a little ball. Continue until all the mixture has been used.
    • Gently roll each truffle on the plate with the sugar to coat evenly.
    • Store in a jar in the refrigerator.
    Printable Recipe

      Truffle clos-up

      Need more chocolate?
      Almond Bars with a Dark Chocolate Crust
      Figs Stuffed with Chocolate Hazelnut Cream
      Chocolate Caramel Baked Pears

      Monday, December 14, 2009

      Just Right Walnut Coconut Muffins

      walnut muffin whole view

      I don't eat a lot of sugar.  The more you stay away from the stuff, the more intense the sugar tastes when you do eat a treat.  I have become so picky with my sweets that I tend to alter or invent my own. I select the best quality ingredients. Vibrant flavors will stand up on their own.  The sugar is there more as a team player rather than the team leader.

      I had fun with this creation.  My goal was to create a really flavorful muffin that would highlight the wonderful aroma of walnuts, natural sweetness of coconut flakes and warming effects of cinnamon and ginger.  I also wanted to create a delicate texture, moist but still crumbly.  I baked them and then went to work out with a friend.  When I got home my kids had already eaten half the pan; I had to convince them to save the rest for breakfast the next day.

      On another sweet note, I am thrilled to announce that my recipes will be available in printer-friendly format from now on.  I added this great feature  thanks to Kevin via Food Bloggers Unite!

      walnut muffin texture

      Walnut Coconut Muffins
      (makes 12)
      If you do not follow a gluten free diet you can substitute the rice flour, coconut flour and cornstarch with regular flour: 1/2 cup all-purpose, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour--and then use the 1/2 cup of quinoa flakes as indicated in the recipe below. 

       Dry Ingredients:
      1/2 cup brown rice flour
      1/4 cup coconut flour
      1/4 cup cornstarch
      1/2 cup quinoa flakes
      1 tbsp GF baking powder
      1/4 tsp sea salt
      2 tsp arrowroot powder
      1/4 cup cane sugar
      1 tsp cinnamon
      1/2 tsp ground ginger

      Wet Ingredients:
      1/4 cup walnut oil (or vegetable oil) 
      1 cup lowfat milk (or soy milk)
      1/4 cup egg white
      4oz unsweetened apple sauce

      1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
      1/4 cup chopped walnuts

      1/4 unsweetened coconut flakes
      1/4 cup walnut pieces
      1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
      1 tsp of agave nectar or honey 

      • Preheat oven to 375F
      • Oil a muffin pan and set aside
      • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl
      • Mix all the wet ingredients in medium bowl
      • Make a well at the center of the flour mixture in the large bowl (think of a crater)
      • Pour the wet ingredients into the well
      • Gently start mixing the dry mixture in with the wet ingredients until combined
      • Add the add-ins
      • Divide evenly into the 12 muffin cups (I like to use my ice cream scoop for that step, the spring action makes it super easy)
      • In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the topping and then sprinkle evenly on top of each muffin
      • Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Muffins should be golden.

      Printable Recipe

      All Done!
      crumpled walnut muffin

      Hungry for more?
      Pear Butter Muffins
      Orange Blueberry Muffins
      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      Make-Ahead Meal: Tortilla Chip Stratta


      Make-ahead dishes are the key to a smooth holiday season. I love coming up with a meal that can be made the night before and still garners spectacular reviews.


      My study group enjoyed this casserole dish while we prepared for our upcoming final in Pathophysiology--I won't bore you with the details, or you might lose your appetite. They loved the Stratta though, and asked for the recipe. Serve it to your family and guests, just leave the medical talk off the table and they're sure to enjoy their meal.:-)


      Tortilla Stratta
      A Stratta is usually made with bread but tortilla chips work really well as a replacement. This is the perfect make-ahead dish for brunch or lunch. It tastes even better as leftovers. This recipe doubles up beautifully if you want to feed a crowd.

      4 cups of crushed tortilla chips
      1/2 cup sliced black olives
      8oz tomato sauce
      1/4 cup spicy salsa
      2 cups lowfat milk
      1/2 cup sour cream
      1 cup shredded cheese (mexican mix or medium cheddar)
      3/4 cup egg white
      3 large eggs, beaten
      1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
      1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
      1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
      1 cup cooked black beans
      1 cup frozen white corn kernels, thawed
      1/2 tsp ground cumin

      The night before:
      Oil a lasagna glass or ceramic dish.
      Combine the chips, olives, tomato sauce, salsa in a large bowl.
      In another bowl add: the milk, sour cream, shredded cheese, egg whites, beaten eggs and cumin. Mix well.
      Then, combine it with the chip mixture.
      Add the cilantro, onion, tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Mix thoroughly and pour into your prepared dish.
      Cover and store in the fridge overnight.

      The next day:
      Preheat oven to 375F.
      Take the dish out of the fridge and let it sit out for about 20 minutes to warm to room temperature.
      Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until golden and puffy. Let cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving.
      ~serves 6-8~



      Similar recipes:
      White Bean Crustless Quiche with Fennel
      Gluten Free French Toast Casserole
      Potato Spinach Crustless Quiche

      Tuesday, December 8, 2009

      Great Gift Ideas

      Vegetarian Times Magazine is a great publication with wonderful recipes and enticing pictures. It features vegetarian, vegan and now gluten free recipes. The editors really try to provide a little something for everyone. I'm a flexitarian. My family loves to feast on vegetable dishes, so such a publication is not wasted on us. I am thrilled to hear that gluten-free choices will now appear in all their issues. I thought I would share the good news, seeing how most us are still shopping around for gifts for our loved-ones.

      Another one of my favorite publications is Living Without Magazine: the articles are always interesting and their delicious recipes are varied and well explained.

      For a great newsletter on nutrition, check out Nutrition Action: The Center for Science in Public Interest publishes this monthly gem. They are an advocacy group for nutrition, health, food safety, and sound science. Each issue is full of reliable, unbiased studies and analyses. Their food reviews are presented with an impeccable sense of humor.

      Giving magazines and newsletters as gifts is truly the gift that keeps on giving: the recipient thinks of you every time they receive an issue. Now, as much as I would love for any of those publications to ask me to write for them, I am not affiliated with any of them--just an avid reader. Feel free to share your favorites as well. Happy Holiday Shopping!

      Here are some Vegetarian Times gluten free recipes:

      Pizza 5 ways
      Country Bread

      Monday, December 7, 2009

      The Beauty of Fall: Acorn Squash Salad with Walnut Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds


      You see it so clearly--a vision of what a dish was always meant to be: a visual stimulation, a harmony of texture, and symphony of good taste. This Acorn dish is all that and more.

      You could just roast your acorn with olive oil, garlic and sea salt, and no one would argue that it isn't, indeed, wonderful that way. But when you are looking for something out of the ordinary, something that pushes the envelop a little, try this stunning acorn salad: it is as beautiful as it is delicious. The pictures don't do it justice...unfortunately, I am having problems with my camera.

      Please share your favorite ways to serve this Fall favorite in the comment section of this post.

      Acorn Squash & Pomegranate with spoon

      Acorn Squash Salad with Walnut Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds
      This would make a great addition to your holiday table. It looks so festive and it's a great make-ahead dish.

      2 acorn squash (previously steamed, skinned, sliced into wedges and refrigerated)
      1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
      2 tbsp olive oil
      1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
      1/4 cup walnut pieces
      1/4 tsp sea salt
      3 tbsp fresh italian parsley, chopped
      Seeds of half a fresh pomegranate

      Place the cooked acorn wedges on a platter.
      Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a mortar or food processor. If using a mortar: proceed to crush all the ingredients together to form a thick sauce. If using the food processor: pulse a few times until you obtain a thick paste.
      Pour the sauce onto the slices of squash.
      Generously sprinkle the pomegranate seeds onto the whole thing and serve.
      ~serves 6~

      Artsy-Foodie's Tips: Prepare the acorn squash ahead of time. To steam it: just cut it in half, seed it, and place it in a covered pyrex dish. Then microwave it for 8 minutes and voila! It's ready. Let it cool until cold enough to handle and cut it into wedges. Store in a sealed container in the fridge until the sauce is ready.

      Looking for a clean and easy way to seed a pomegranate? Fill a large bowl with cold water. Cut the pomegranate in half, and submerge one half at a time into the water-filled bowl. Separate the seeds from the white pith while submerged. This is a great way to avoid a mess with this beautiful fruit.

      One more recipe for your enjoyment:

      Miso Glazed Acorn Squash

      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

      Delicious Lunch for Busy People

      quinoa flakesquiche on platter

      There are not enough hours in a day. We're all running around from one obligation to another. I juggle a lot of things: my schooling, lovely walks with my husband, my four kids' busy school and social life and our everyday nutritional needs. Eating healthy becomes a huge challenge, especially for the gluten-sensitive and the health-conscious. I recently purchased my first box of Quinoa Flakes and have been exploring ways to incorporate this ingredient into some convenient dishes. This vegetarian lunch or brunch dish is a great option for a packed lunch or a cozy family gathering. It comes together in no time and the results are fantastic. Enjoy!

      quinoa flakes quiche batter

      Crustless high protein Quiche with Quinoa Flakes
      Have fun with this recipe. Replace the chopped spinach with any leftover cooked vegetables you have on hand. Although I am singing the praises of Quinoa Flakes, they can be replaced with your favorite GF breadcrumbs.

      8 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed
      8 oz lowfat plain cottage cheese
      8 oz lowfat sour cream
      4 eggs
      1/2 cup egg whites
      1/2 cup shredded mozzarela cheese or italian cheeses
      1/2 cup quinoa flakes
      1/4 tsp sea salt
      1/2 tsp garlic powder

      Preheat oven to 375F
      Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
      Transfer mixture to a pre-oiled lasagna pan
      Bake for 50-55 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing. Leftovers are great cold.

      Quinoa flakes Quiche
      Similar recipes for your enjoyment:
      Potato Spinach Crustless Quiche
      Spaghetti Squash and Quinoa Bake
      Zucchini Cheese Casserole
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