Monday, March 28, 2011

Quinoa - The Super Grain

I have been eating quinoa, much to my joy, for around 15 years. One New Year's Eve we were celebrating with dinner at a friend's house in Amsterdam, they served "quinoa-the super grain" and ever since, those 4 words will forever be linked.

It is indeed a Super Grain. Higher in protein that other grains. No gluten. Delicious, Fast cooking. Can't beat that right? It even looks 'out of this world" as it looks like lots of little Saturn's... planets with rings! Well, so how can you cook and use it?

Cooking Basic Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, white or red
1.5 cups water

Place quinoa in a seive. Rinse long a well under cold water, swishing the grains around until the water runs clear. Quinoa can have a powder on it that tastes bitter and is acid causing. Nowadays I find the quinoa to be "cleaner" that 10 years ago, so I don't have to rinse it as long.

Place in a medium sized pot. Add water. Ratio is always the same so you can use any sized "cup" you have handy.
1cup quinoa : 1.5 cups water.

Add 1 tsp of seasalt.

If you have time, let soak as long as possible. If I remember I put this together at lunch or afternoon snack time when I am serving it at dinner, it can even soak overnight or all day. So you could prepare it before you leave for work and cook it when you get home (it only takes 15 minutes to cook!). And if you don't have time to soak, don't, just cook it. Flexible right?

Cooking: Bring to a boil on a large burned, high heat, uncovered. Once boiling, place on smallest burner, on low heat, covered. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat. Let stand for a few minutes. Take off cover. Serve.

Serve with what?!
Any dish you would serve with rice- chili, curry, lentils, stews, etc.
Serve with sauteed spnch or swiss chard.
Serve mixed up or topped with with feta, tomato, avocado.
Just eat alone with olive oil and/or soy sauce, and a green salad.
With Olive Oil, seasalt and broccoli! (That makes a gret breakfast too!)
For a sweet feast, mix it up with some coconut oil/butter and/ or mash a banana into...

It really is that flexible, that magical, that easy....
Quinoa- The Vertible Super Grain!

This one's for you Sharon and Corbin! Happy New Year!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stir Fried Kale!

A meal of wild salmon and stir fried kale has to be one of my all time favorites. Cooking that meal always reminds of golden days in Golden, CO cooking with my brother Jeff.

Since I moved to France, kale has been pretty hard to come by. I found some for the second time in 3 years, of course the local organic farmer's market. Even they didn't have a name for it! Inspired, I will offer you my favorite cooking method.

As much kale as you can stuff into a paper veggie bag! It cooks down.
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
fresh ginger root
french tumeric (cucurma) root
garlic (optional)
1 medium onion. chopped small (optional)

De-stalk kale. I turn the laves over one at at time, and from the back side, cut down both sides of the stalk. You can do this step the night, morning or afternoon before to save time during that high demand dinner hour.

Heat a large frying pan, with high sides if possible, over medium high heat. Add 2-3 Tbl of sesame oil. Right into the sesame oil, add onion if using. Then grate a 1 inch (4cm) piece of ginger root, or more if you love it, and around the half that amount of the tumeric/cucurma root, as much garlic as you like, if using (I don't). Let simmer of a few minutes until it just starts to turn color.

Add all the kale, pack it into the pan. Let it fry a little and try to turn the pieces around moving bottom to top, etc. This can be a messy step. Don't be too picky about it. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover for 4-5 minutes. Check now and then, and stir. You will see that the kale starts to change color and gets really bright green.

Add 3-4Tbl of soy sauce. Less if you have a serving for 1. Let simmer, cover off, stirring for a few minutes. Taste. Add more soy sauce of necessary.

Serve as a bed for salmon, cod....
Even my kids loved it ... Well OK, one of them did...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Let's Talk About OILS & FATS.

In almost all my recipes, especially the baked ones, you will find that I almost exclusively use COCONUT OIL. For me, it is a magic fat. It bring the fullness of butter with a slight hint of nuttiness, sometimes making the end recipe even better than the butter version!. But why did I start using it? Which one to buy? How do you substitute it for butter?

Besides remembering all the whoo-haa around movie popcorn made in coconut oil when I was a kid, I was more recently introduced to coconut oil by The Cleansing Diva. Oh yes, she is that, and oh so much more. On my first cleanse in some years, she sorted me out about coconut oil. Not only is it NOT bad for your heart, it actually assists your body in pushes out the "bad" fats, the ones that "make you fat." So we were sauting in it and putting it in soup and smoothies. Finally, off the cleanse (Yes!) I could bake with it!

Coconut Oil is a saturated fat, so it is solid at room temperature. What got a bad rap those years ago was processed, hydrogenated coconut oil. "Hydrogenation" is the process that turns vegetable oil into a solid at room temperature. Whenever any kind of processing has taken place with a fat, it alters the molecular structure of that fat. As such it makes it near impossible for your body to process this odd molecular element. Thus you have the problem with all the negative publicity around "transfats." They are an unnatural molecular structure and , in thier case, seriously compromises the body's functioning. So, when eaten, the body covers this odd structure in fat and stores it on your body somewhere... hips, belly, thighs, love handles... you get the picture.

Seek out UNREFINED coconut oil. It is in its natural state, hard at room temperature, and a bit tropical smelling. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid whic also facilitates brain function and boost the immune system. It is this component that makes it different than other saturated fats. They are not all created equal.

Yo can substitute coconut oil for butter or vegetable or olive oil in any recipe. Just use 25% less as it has less water so is more concentrated. Also, you will have to melt it to use it. As it states in all the recipes here.

I haven't seen many pre made baked good using coconut oil .. YET. I imagine they will come, if we are willing to pay for them. It is highly stable. All my cupcakes, muffins, etc can last a whole week... when I hide them! When you are buying pre-made baked goods- READ TEH LABEL. Transfats are not labelled as "transfats." They are labelled as "hydrogenated vegetable oil," "rapeseed" or "canola" oil or "margarine". IF I buy a pre-made baked good, I look for butter.

Love Your Body*Know Your Mind!
Healthyfully Indulge.... everyday!

By the way, if you want to check out The Cleansing Diva, you can find her at
For other internal and external uses of coconut oil look at

Monday, March 14, 2011

Poached Pears

A simple, healthy dessert that sounds and looks... special.
You can upgrade it to an adult version by using red wine or Muscat wine.

500ml/2cups red or white grape juice/ or wine as above!
100gr/1/2cup raw sugar or maple syrup
2 Tbl/soupspoons lemon juice
4 Conference pears (if possible, but really any hard-ish pear will do) peeled, cored & halved
1 stick cinnamon (optional)
3 cardamon pods (optional)
2 anise stars (optional)

In a heavy sauce pan, bring grape juice or wine amd sugar/syrup to a boil. Add which ever spices you are using. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add lemon juice and pears. Cook for 10 minutes over medium low flame.
Cool and refridgerate.
Bring to room temperature. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Extreme Banana Bread

This isn't just any banana bread. Its like eating a banana split, with out the ice cream of course. Then again, you could add that on the side! Its the intensity of the banana flavor that sets it apart, and the lack of sugar and cream and butter that make it actually light enough to eat, well, to eat alot!

The way the banana flavor is formed is a tip from my favorite cooking/baking authority- Cook's Illustrated. They test recipes as if they were in a science lab, tell you waht happens at each step so you can USE the knowledge elsewhere, adn then inject thier passion for flavor.

The trick is in the banana prep I will describe. But as I do not have, nor will ever have, a microwave, I freeze bananas in bags of 4-5. Then I defrost them in the bag, so to keep the juice that comes out, in a bowl of hot water. Quick and easy. The microwave version is below.

Extreme Banana Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour (I use spelt)
1 Tabl baking soda
1/2 tsp seasalt
4-5 large very ripe bananas (if possible, frozen then thawed)
1 large ripe banana for topping
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (cooled a bit)
1/2 cup agave syrup or maple syrup or rice syrup
2 eggs
1 Tbl vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips or nuts or both! or none!

Pre-heat oven to 325F/160C.
Prepare pan. Use either loaf pan or a 6 inch round spring form. "Paint" with some of the melted cocnut oil and dust with flour.

In large bowl whisk flour, baking soda and salt.

If you are not using frozen then thawed-in-the-sink bananas as described above.
Place 4-5 large bananas in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and poke in some steam vents. Microwave on high until bananas are soft and havce released liquid, about 5 minutes.

Now you who used frozen-thawed bananas can rejoin us...
Saving the liquid that has come out, place soft bananas in a sieve OVER a bowl and let the liquid drip out of them for 5-10 minutes. Then smash them down & stir around to get anymore liquid out. You should have 1/2 - 3/4 cups) Just use whatever you have.

Place bananas in another mixing bowl. Transfer liquid to a small sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. About 5 minutes. Now mix that liquid into the smashed bananas, smashing some more until fairly smooth. Whisk in coconut oil, eggs, agave/maple or rice syrup and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into the flour mixture. Stir just until all flour is wet. You can even still see a few streaks of flour in the batter. Gently fold in chocolate chips and /or walnuts of using. Pour into prepared pan. Shingle banana slices on top as you like. For a treat I sometimes put a bunch of chocolate chips on top too.

Bake 1 hour. until wooden toothpick comes out clean, but rememebr to poke all the way down to the bottonm-center.

Spicy Rice Pudding

As is often the case, I was in the mood for rice pudding one recent evening. I usually start cooking it just after dinner so it is ready when the kids are just in bed! They get their fiar share the next day!
In this version, I use the spices most often found in December baking. Others might recognize this as Pepernoten Rice Pudding. In anyway, it WOWed me.

For you Busboom-Maitland family.1 cup whole grain brown rice, rinsed (and if you think ahead, soaked as long as possible)
1/2 cup whole grain sweet rice, rinsed (ditto)
1 inch (5 cm) piece of konbu dried seaweed, optional
(this aids digestibility and adds lots of minerals)
1 can of coconut milk
equivalent of 1 can of soy milk
(or use another can of coconut milk or water if you don't want soy milk)
dash of seasalt
1/2 cup agave syrup or rice syrup or maple syrup (or more to taste)
1/2 - 1 vanilla bean

Spices- all are optional and should be used to your taste. You can add more during and after cooking but you cannot take any away! But be bold, the strenth wanes as it cooks.
3 Tbls cinnamon (canelle)
2 Tbl nutmeg (muscat)
1 tsp cloves (girofle)
1 Tbl ginger
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp anise powder

Place medium size pan on smallest burner on lowest heat.
Place all rice & can of coconut milk in pot. Refill can from the coconut milk with soy milk, add to pot. refill again with filtered water, add to pot. Keep can on side to add liquid as you go if needed.
Then stir in all spices.

Keep on the low heat and stir in thre milk scum that rises to the top as often as you think about it. The less it is there the better. It creates a seal and cooks the rice as if it were in a covered pan and this is NOT how you get the right consistency. SO keep stirring it in.

After about 1/2 hour, check the spices and see if there is enough. Add if necessary. Watch the liquid level. You want it to stay with a "sauce" as when it cools it soaks back into the rice.

It takes a good hour or more to cook, be patient. Keep stirring off and on and keep tasting. It is done when the rice is soft.

To reheat, place in a pan with a bit of water. Stir it up and heat. The fat from the coconut will melt and go back into the rice pudding.

If it doesn't work out, write me!