Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gluten-free, chocolate-tofu brownie sundae

I wish I could bottle this kind of happiness---a cat in a barrel of catnip. It was a dream come true for my cat, Pumpkin, when I discovered that catnip had inadvertently come up in whiskey barrel planter outside my front door. I'm not quite sure how the catnip got there but I have grown catnip in other places in my yard in past years.

I've never seen him so eager to go outside on his leash now that he knows the catnip is right outside the door. He reaches up for the door knob on the front door to give me a not-so-subtle hint that he wants his catnip fix for the day.

While my cat's fix is catnip, mine is chocolate or carob. But getting my fix, while being on a low-carb diet for eliminating a yeast overgrowth, can be a bit tricky. Ingenuity and cravings prompted me to come up with my chocolate-tofu brownie sundae. It's all low-carb and has no gluten, eggs, sugar or milk. You also can substitute carob for the chocolate if chocolate creates issues for you.
Sounds like it's missing all the good stuff but no, it actually tastes delicious. Admittedly, I haven't taste tested it on anyone but myself. But it has all the texture and chocolate or carob taste of a brownie to me.
Chocolate-Tofu Brownie Sundae
Ingredients for the Brownies:
1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup each soy flour and coconut flour
Option 2: Just use 2 cups of garbanzo bean flour and skip the soy and coconut flours. It still works.
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. baking cocoa or carob powder
Optional: 1 T. ground cinnamon
Optional: 2-3 T. chocolate vegan rice powder to up the protein content
1 1/4 cups water (possibly more)
2 T. olive oil
Pan spray
Ingredients for Tofu Pudding Sauce:
1 package Silken tofu
Optional: 3-4 T. chocolate vegan rice powder (This will give the pudding sauce a firmer texture.)
Optional: 1 tsp. cinnamon
2 drops chocolate or plain liquid Stevia
2 T. baking cocoa or carob powder
1/4 cup soy or hemp milk (I use the unsweetened versions.)
Directions for brownies:
Mix all the dry ingredients in large bowl. Add the olive oil and water. Stir to blend. Add more water if needed as the flours will absorb a lot of moisture. The batter should have the consistency of cake batter. Allow the batter to rest for up to an hour while the mixture thickens.
In the meantime, preheat the oven at 480 degrees. Heat a large glass baking pan (9 X 13 inches)
for 10 minutes prior to baking. The pan should be sprayed and drizzled with 1-2 T. of additional olive oil.
Once the pan and olive oil are heated, add the batter and place in the oven to bake for about 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into serving size pieces.
Directions for the pudding sauce:
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to blend. Chill before serving.
To assemble the sundaes:
Spoon some chocolate or carob sauce in a serving dish. Then add a piece of "brownie." Spoon in some additional sauce and top with another "brownie." Finish with another dab of sauce. Garnish with tasted seeds or nuts if tolerated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garbanzo bean flour pancakes

Allergy season has arrived full throttle in my area, and my poor dog, Kona, started suffering as much as the humans. In the photo above, she was wearing a "halo" to keep her from biting at her itchy places. Good news though. She only had to wear it for a week and then her itching subsided.

Intense itching was how she was reacting to the pollens that were bothering her. The only way to stop her from biting herself constantly until she drew blood was to put her in this halo. She also continues to take six allergy pills a day which was doing little to deter her when she was wearing her special bonnet. She was looking pretty sad in the photo and was doing a good job of making us feel sorry for her.
Garbanzo bean flour continues to be a favorite of mine while I'm on my restricted carb diet to rid my body of too much yeast or candida. It's really no longer bothering me that I cannot eat sugar and must restrict my carbs. The bad news is I probably will have to follow this diet pretty closely for a year. I try not to dwell on that but rather on how good I am feeling.
Yesterday, we had friends over for a Memorial Day barbecue and they could not believe all the fresh veggies I could eat. These friends had watched me in the past eat only well-cooked veggies and deny myself things like salad and other hard-t0-digest foods. I could sense their disbelief but also their pleasure in seeing me so much better.
Candida is definitely a missing diagnosis for many individuals. But it is no cakewalk to get rid of and requires a high level of commitment to follow the eating protocol. A friend mentioned to me that she had an acquaintance who thought she would be rid of her candida problem after just six weeks of following a low carb diet. Unfortunately, after improving, she quit after six weeks. Within a short time, her symptoms returned.
Not me, I'm in this for the long haul. And garbanzo bean flour will continue to be part of my arsenal of foods. I found out that garbanzo bean flour breads, crepes and pancakes are a staple in certain parts of Italy. This week, I tried garbanzo bean flour pancakes. Actually, I was trying to make crepes or tortillas but I'm still perfecting those.
Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancakes
2 cups garbanzo bean flour
2 T. vegan rice protein powder
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried herbs to taste
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 cups water (possibly more to get a pancake batter consistency)
Pan spray and more olive oil
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add olive oil and water. Add more water if needed to get a batter with the consistency of crepe or pancake batter. Allow the batter to set for a few minutes. The batter tends to thicken so you may need to add some more water.
Heat a large skillet or better yet a crepe pan until very hot. Add olive oil and heat until it smokes slightly. You want it very hot. Test with a bit of batter. Make one pancake at a time. Allow the dough to bubble up just like regular pancakes. Flip and cook on the other side. Add more oil before you start a new pancake.
These pancakes are best eaten while hot. They roll pretty easily so you could make some sort of breakfast wrap with them. I'm going to continue to experiment with them and will post more later.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Garbanzo bean flour "calzone"

I guess you could say I am in the maintenance phase of a candida cleanse. My goal is to continue to minimize it and not allow it to take charge again. That means eating only high-quality carbs such as whole gluten-free grains (quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, steel-cut oatmeal) and low-glycemic fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, melons, cantaloupe). By the way, I can't believe I can eat cantaloupe again. Before going on the anti-fungal program, I hadn't eaten any in five years for fear of what it might do to my digestive tract.

For flour, I rely on bean flours such as garbanzo and soy. I haven't ventured in to trying any of my other gluten-free favorites, which are quinoa, brown rice and amaranth flours because the carbs are too high but eventually I will. In the meantime, it's amazing how creative you can get with garbanzo bean and soy flours.

I especially enjoy garbanzo bean flour because it has an almost nutty texture, cooks quickly and is amazingly easy to work with. Today's recipe for Garbanzo Bean Flour Calzones (and I use the word calzone loosely) was inspired by a leftover turkey burger. I was really hungry for a burger with some kind of bread and voila the idea for calzone was born.

Garbanzo Bean Flour Calzones (for 3 calzones)
Note: Adjust quantities depending on how many you are making.

3 turkey burgers

Fresh spinach leaves

Fresh basil leaves

1 cup+ garbanzo bean flour

2 T. olive oil

salt, pepper and dried herbs such as basil, oregano, etc.

1/4-1/2 cup water


Heat the oven to 480 degrees.

Prepare turkey burgers in advance. Mix lean ground turkey with salt, pepper, chopped spinach and basil leaves. Form into patties and grill or fry.

For the dough, mix garbanzo bean flour with salt, pepper and desired herbs. Add in 2 T. olive oil and water. Mix into a fairly still dough. You may need to add more flour or water.

Allow the turkey burgers to cool slightly. Spray a baking sheet. For each calzone, wet your hands with cold water before grabbing a hunk of dough. Press the dough onto the baking sheet into a circle large enough to accommodate a burger and then be folded over. Keep wetting your hands as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Place a few spinach and basil leaves on one side of each circle. Place a turkey burger on top of the leaves. With your hands wet again, pull the other half of the dough over the turkey burger. Pinch the edges of the dough together to completely enclose the turkey burger.

The trick here is to keep your hands wet. Garbanzo bean flour is tremendously easy to work with if your hands are wet. The flour is extremely absorbent so any extra moisture will be soaked up like a sponge.

Drizzle a bit of extra oil on your baking sheet and on each calzone. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Check a few times as garbanzo bean flour cooks rapidly.

Slice each calzone in half. Serve with a spinach or spring mix salad. Make a mock mayo by blending silken tofu with minced garlic, salt, pepper, dried mustard powder and some canola oil.

I think you too will soon be singing the praises of garbanzo bean flour. I know I have my family converted over to garbanzo bean flour pizza crusts.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garbanzo bean flour brownies with no egg for my Mother's Day treat

Just because I'm still doing candida clean-up duty doesn't mean I can't have a treat with chocolate for Mother's Day. I'm on a restricted carb diet to keep a fungal infection from returning but I thought I'm going to feel really deprived if I don't come up with a yummy treat for Mother's Day. And it's always best to have something healthy waiting in the wings so to speak to avoid giving in to tempation.

I started to ask myself what do I want for my little, low-carb, no-egg, no-gluten splurge? That's when I came up with Garbanzo Bean Flour Brownies with No Eggs. They really satisfy my sweet tooth even though they have no sugar or other sweeteners. However, if you are not avoiding sugar, you could add some agave nectar or maple syrup to this recipe to up the sweetness factor. They do have a lot of chocolate flavor and texture of a real brownie, and are a cinch to make.

Garbanzo Bean Flour Brownies with No Eggs


2 cups garbanzo bean flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 T. cocoa powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 T. olive oil + 1 more

1 1/2 cups water

Optional: 1-2 drops liquid stevia (no alcohol variety)

2-4 T. roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Pan spray

9-by-13 inch glass pan


Preheat oven to 480 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add the 2 T. olive oil, water, and drops of stevia, and stir to blend. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes. In the meantime, spray your glass pan and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Preheat the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and pour in your brownie mixture. Spread it around and sprinkle with sunflower and pumpkin seeds (or nuts if allowed).

Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. Garbanzo bean flour cooks up quickly so keep an eye on it. Test with a toothpick or fork before removing from the oven. Allow to cool slightly and then cut into squares. If you like pure chocolate flavor, you'll love this recipe!

For an extra treat, mix up some tofu chocolate pudding and spoon it over your garbanzo bean flour brownie.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Soy breakfast casserole

I'm still working on ridding my body of candida. It's insidious stuff. At least, I'm no longer taking the prescription anti-fungal medication. That made me nervous. It seemed like pretty potent stuff. Now, I take an herbal remedy to keep the candida and good bacteria in proper harmony. Probiotics continue to be my friend at every meal.

My stomach has made tremendous strides. Although I must admit, the improvement made me venture into eating a few things I should at the very least limit to every now and then. I'm talking about sunbutter. It's so yummy but my new rule is just 1-2 teaspoons every three or four days otherwise I pay for it.

My sinusitis is still clearing up. It's hard for me to believe that so much yellow gunk was squashed inside my sinus cavities.

Eating low carb continues to be challenging for someone like myself who loves carbs and needs them for physical activity. I started teaching yoga to a group of teachers along with my cycling. I did create a recipe using soy flour that tastes like a quiche to me but has no eggs or gluten. I call it Soy Breakfast Casserole (pictured above). It would make a great breakfast treat for a mom on Mother's Day who cannot eat eggs or gluten.

2 cups soy flour
2 T. olive oil + 1 more
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 T. dried herbs of choice (I used basil.)
1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups water
2 cups sauted veggies of your choice (I used chard, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus and spinach. Others that would be good include red peppers, onion and garlic.)
Optional for non-vegan: shrimp, flaked salmon or bits of grilled chicken

Heat oven to 480 degrees. To a large bowl, add soy flour, salt and pepper, 2 T. olive oil and water. Mix ingredients with a whisk or large spoon. Add a small amount of additional water if needed to create a dough with the consistency of gravy. Allow mixture to rest for about 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, saute the veggies in olive oil.

Spray a 9 by 13-inch glass pan with pan spray. Pour 1 T. olive oil in pan and place in oven to preheat for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from oven. Spread the veggies and optional fish or meat evenly in the bottom in the pan. Pour the soy flour mixture over the top and spread evenly to distribute. Sprinkle with additional herbs if desired. Another option is to sprinkle with some vegan cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Check often. Test with a toothpick to make sure it's set before removing from the oven. Allow to cool slightly and cut into squares for serving. You'll be surprised how much it reminds you of quiche.