Category Archives: Grains and Seeds

Too easy to not DIY…

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Chia pudding is the new hype After blogs and cookbooks praised chia as the new superfood, the packaged food industry wanted a share. You may remember chia’s early fame in ‘hair growing’ chia pets and recently as Chia fresca, now the seed’s pudding is offered next to the alternative yogurts in supermarket fridge, and I believe I saw a whooping price of 3$ per portion for a small cup of the submerged seeds. While I understand, yogurt making takes some time and expertise, I wonder what makes Chia pudding so special…
The answer is ‘nothing’, it does not take more than 3 spoonfuls of chia seeds per any liquid cup of choice, even without a blender. Stir, cool and wait… really no reason to buy a plastic jar with stale ingredients, and worth only a couple of pennies… See my recipe for Horchata chia pudding

Quinotto, Millotto, Farotto…

QuinottoDSC_5132We love Risotto. Treated like a delicacy in restaurants, it is fast, tasty and satisfying, we serve it quite often, and surely we will bring risotto to the Thanksgiving table.
Traditional recipes ask for peeled round grain Arborio rice. Great alternatives however, are other seeds and grains. I sometimes blend my ‘risotto’ with millet or quinoa, as they cook very fast. Another great thing to try instead of rice is soaked grains, such as Farro, which may cook a little longer. Brown rice, which needs longer cooking, should be made ahead of time, then blended it in the last stage of the risotto.
Pictured is a version of Quinotto, a variation made with quinoa, asparagus and brussels sprouts. See recipe

What are all those grains?

GrainburgerDSC_5082 Oh, I remember Grünkern. Grünkern Frikadellen were the grain burgers of the early generation Birkenstock Vegetarians in Germany. Now on my eternal quest for the best plant based burgers I find that grains make a very ‘believable’ modern burger. Different than those crumbly tasteless early Generation ones… That reminds me to look up the difference of all those kernels: Continue reading

Lazy Sunday breakfasts

GlutenfreeDSC_4681.1Gluten free pancake mixes? This week I stumbled over a recipe that promised good looking pancakes, even without regular flour. While I usually don’t have a Gluten Free regimen at home, I was able custom make my flour blend with a grain mill blender cup. This is really great, as you don’t have to buy multiple bags of expensive and hard to get specialty flour that also may spoil in an instant. If you have a small household, it also helps you to use up f.e. whole brown rice, which won’t last long, plus you have freshly ground flour. This recipe produces nturally dark pancakes with a very yummy crispy rim, which I attribute to the brown rice in it. Prepare the flour blend in batches, which are then quickly to use in the morning. See for recipe

Calling for better breakfasts

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What’s new? As early as in the beginning of the 19th century, US food reformers called for cutting back on excessive breakfast meat consumption and promoted healthy vegetarian cereals, such as oats, which were considered by most of the public as ‘horse food’. Despite great inventions in the last 100 or so years, not much seems to have changed in eating habits… Continue reading

Mardi Gras

There is nothing traditional except color. I must admit, this is a wacky and not very festive combination, but despite the looks it is really tasty. The real recipe of the bake is with white or savoy cabbage, white beans and potatoes. However if you like a stronger taste with more character, try red cabbage and juicy black beans which also won’t discolor. Serve with quinoa burgers and tartar sauce. Cabbage blend recipe
The quinoa burgers or croquettes are quite tasty with tartar sauce. The recipe is adjusted to be non crumbly as the original German recipe was more like granola. Quinoa burger recipe

Humble beginnings – Happy New Year

The New Year should start with a fanfare… celebrated with a special recipe and New Year’s greetings. However today, after so many specials and baked goods, we are craving healthy foods. So I just do, what I kept doing on my blog, cooking and posting ideas and recipes. While I am reading the ‘Happy Herbivore’ book, I made these handsome spiced corn pancakes from the dried and ground CSA corn to go with my black bean soup and salad. A nice combination. Recipe at the Happy Herbivore 

Winter ‘shrooms

New York got hit again.  Just one week after Hurricane Sandy, we were hit by a snowstorm; we were lucky this time. With leaves still on the trees, this early snow could break trees when combined with strong winds. Cleaning up after the hurricane, we found small mushroom buttons sticking out of last year’s leaf mulch. I was delighted to have them confirmed as Blewits (Clitocybe or Lepista Nuda). Continue reading

Sell your birthright

Mujaddara or Mejadra, is an ancient Arab dish, known throughout the middle East, and most likely what Jacob served to Esau. Rather for the second look, this humble dish is the one that truly nourishes you and comforts you. Humble indeed, as the name Mujaddara means “Smallpox”.
It serves the poor and the rich as well, depending on how you dress it. While the simple form is proper for lent, you can also add yogurt and vegetables; the fanciest version (with meat) is served at celebrations. Continue reading

Something warm and quick

Sometimes I just want a quick and warm filling meal. Looking at recipes, they all seemed to ask for things I had not planned for… soaked beans or chickpeas and I did not plan ahead. So I altered a dish to fit what I have. Lentils can be cooked quickly, sweet potatoes can replace winter squash, quinoa for rice, parsley instead of cilantro. The result was a very filling sweet curry. I could have combined it with steamed kale. See recipe

Tribal Running Foods

I just finished reading two books, both of them (‘The Jungle effect’ and ‘Born to run’) mention the food, of the Tarahumara Indians, known as the ‘running people’. For example chia seeds and limes, called ‘Chia fresca’ which promptly became a popular ‘energy’ drink in Wallstreet. See recipe
‘The Jungle Effect’ book by Daphne Miller has several chapters where each chapter focuses on one Western disease and travels to a part in the world where the disease is rare or unknown (Cold Spots). Continue reading

How the cowboy got better

Cowboy foods are made of beans, lots of them… Food such as dried corn, rice and beans were easy to bring and prepare in the wild.
Each grown culture with food rich in beans, peas and lentils, has discovered methods that would help digestion and fight gas. Which refutes the old assumption that veg people necessarily fart. Our cowboys slurping their bean soup around the campfire, were most likely unaware, which wild weed could spice the dish and help with the after effects. But maybe the concert was part of the fun, so why bother?
It already helps to soak or sprout beans and grains several hours before cooking. Continue reading

‘Grain’ of the future

The Incas named Quinoa, the ‘Mother of all grains’, for its high nutritional value; High contents of complete proteins, fiber, magnesium and iron plus a good amount of calcium. The hardy plant that is related to beets, spinach and amaranth, also contains oxalic acid in the stems and leaves. Bitter saponins in the seeds require cooking before consumption.
2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations. Enough reason to give a closer look to this ‘superfood’. How about Sweet potato and Quinoa patties with hot sauce? See recipe

Summer cabbage

Cabbage is for Russian winters… however our summer farm share was brimming with early heads of durable white cabbage. Thank god, they store so well, they survived our travel time.
After several kinds of slaws, you may want a nice sauté. This mix with squash, sage and thyme just makes good use of last week’s CSA package. For a variety in starch you may want to use quinoa instead of traditional potatoes. Veg. style sausage meat is optional. See Recipe

Summer Grain

We love summer. Our CSA has started delivery, music festivals and garden tours invite for picnics on weekends… and we still eat winter kale, time to make some lighter fare. There were the wheat berry salads I used to eat when working in the city. Without shopping for perfect ingredients, and using up some CSA greens, I came up with this nice summer picnic version with flavors of mint from our own supplies. See recipe here

Square meal

Polenta can be eaten as pasta. Even though Wikipedia describes the polenta cooking process as long with high maintenance in stirring, my coarse style farmer variety cooks relatively fast. Early prepared, the polenta has time to settle in the refrigerator and can be used instead of pasta with quite sophisticated sauces. I used a mushroom sauce, inspired by reading the Engine 2 cookbook. If you have leftover wine, it gives nice flavor to the sauce. However you can also just add more vegetable broth. See recipe

Pantry Cleanup

‘Shop your own pantry’ is a campaign to use overlooked food items that you have already at home to save on weekly food shopping–a healthy way to start lent and for us to empty the fridge before our vacation.
Barley, a pantry staple is an excellent source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Continue reading

Polenta – new and improved


Polenta is traditional Italian peasant food. Before maize was discovered in the new world, any grain was used in the mush, closely related to porridge. Today, modern polenta is made from fine or coarse ground corn and featured in gourmet recipes and restaurants. Polenta is also used as gluten free alternative to pasta or pizza dough. Continue reading

Yellow Food


Ethnic food is abundant in plant based recipes. Especially Indian cuisine with traditional tried and true recipes is worth adapting. Hot spices warm us in winter and the curry contents have the immunity boosting benefits we need. Garam Masala is a ‘hot’ curry blend, that has a variety across India. Turmeric, among other benefits is believed to reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Chili pepper boosts healing properties; other ingredients, among them cinnamon and cardamom will ease digestion, burn fat and improve skin and nails. See recipe

Functional Foods

Brendan Brazier, professional Ironman Triathlete from Vancouver, BC  is also vegan. His early research in the nutritional field has been circling around how to improve performance with nutrition, by minimizing the stress that ordinary and high acidic foods may cause to the body. Brazier moved to a diet that uses naturally ‘functional foods’. Continue reading