Saturday, May 22, 2010

Phenomenal Frittata

When I first started eliminating dairy and eggs from my diet, I was leery of recipes claiming to have all the answers for acceptable substitutes, especially when it came to eggs and cheese. Through my experience, I have come to realize that there are many fantastic ways to get the flavor and texture you're seeking without compromising your dietary choices or lifestyle.

I came across this recipe that was created by Allison Rivers Samson (owner of an award-winning artisan bakery and confectionary boutique, offering delectable organic, vegan sweets) in the June 2010 issue of VegNews magazine.

While gathering the ingredients for this recipe I was introduced to kala namak, a necessary ingredient for imparting the "egg flavor" in the dish. As a matter of fact, I practically became obsessed with the stuff. Kala namak is an Indian black sea salt that is pinkish gray in color and imparts a sulfuric taste similar to eggs...Seriously....It tastes EXACTLY like hard-boiled eggs. You can sprinkle it over your morning tofu scramble, or use it wherever you want a little egg flavor...But be careful, it's potent stuff!

The garbanzo & fava bean flour is what gives the dish an eggy texture, and also supplements as a great source of protein with 6 grams in every 1/4th cup. When preparing, you may find that the flour mixture may get a bit lumpy. After the cooking process was complete, I poured the mixture into a large mixing bowl and ran my hand-mixer through it for about four minutes. I still had a few lumps, but it didn't make a difference in flavor or texture when the dish was finished.

I also went a step further and added 1/2 cup of Daiya vegan mozzarella to give the frittata a more decadent finish, because who doesn't like decadence?

The recipe calls for broccoli and onions, but if you'd like, you can mix it up and add or replace with your other favorite veggies. Next time I think I'll try mushroom and spinach, or roasted red pepper and shallot...The combinations are endless!

Have it for dinner with a salad...

Or have it for breakfast with fresh fruit...

Eat healthy, stay happy!


Italian Frittata
Serves 6

4 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups garbanzo fava bean flour
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1 cup onion, quartered and cut into thin slices
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
2 cups broccoli florets cut into small bite-sized pieces
1/4 tsp kala namak
1/2 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella (optional)

Oil a 9-inch tart pan. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add water and salt. Gently whisk in the garbanzo bean flour to combine completely. Whisk occasionally as the mixture begins to boil to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As it begins to thicken, reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, place a saute pan over low-medium heat and add margarine and onions. Saute for 5 minutes, then add basil and marjoram and cook for another 5 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat.

In a large bowl, combine cooked garbanzo bean mixture , vegetable, kala namak, and vegan cheese (if using), until well mixed. Spread evenly into oiled dish. Cool completely in the refrigerator for two hours. (This step imparts the egg-like texture, so don't skip it!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then bake the frittata for 20 minutes, or until hot in the center. Move the frittata up to the top rack, turn on broiler, and broil 3-5 minutes, until the top has browned. Serve warm with your favorite side dishes.

(This dish also reheats well in the microwave!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Ginger

Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties have been valued for centuries. Native to southeast Asia, ginger has been a renowned herb in ancient Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian writings, and has been prized for it's culinary and medicinal properties including it's cleansing effects by removing toxins and creating balance. Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat a variety of ailments from nausea, to colds, to general inflammation.

During the past thirty years, scientists have uncovered the mechanisms that make ginger an effective anti-inflammatory agent. This discovery identified ginger as a natural remedy that shares pharmacological properties with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Subsequent research revealed that ginger reduces inflammation in an additional way, beyond that of NSAIDs, which means it has dual powers to reduce inflammation and pain.

Ginger adds a unique, spicy flavor to your food and can be consumed many different ways. Some of my favorites are through juicing or adding it to spice up a stir fry or a salad dressing.

To cook with ginger, you will first peel the skin with a paring knife, or a potato peeler. The ginger is then ready to be prepared by either slicing, mincing, or grating.

One of my favorite suppliers of ginger goodies are The Ginger People who make everything from pickled ginger (which you will usually find at your local sushi bar), to candied ginger, to juices and sauces. These people have it down.

You can also buy ginger in the capsule form which allows you to take it as a daily supplement.

Eat healthy, stay happy!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Organic?

There are many reasons to eat organic, ranging from the preservation of our environment to the health benefits associated with natural growing practices. In fact, one of the best ways to experience the energetic nature of food is to eat it in its pure and natural state. If you've ever eaten organic food, you probably noticed that it tasted fresher and more flavorful, the colors are often more vibrant and the food itself is void of the waxy texture that is created by the use of harmful chemicals.

It's important to take into consideration that in the grocery store organic food is generally more expensive than conventionally grown food. If you're shopping on a tight budget, spend your money on fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and more specifically, the fruits and vegetables that don't have a peel or can't be peeled like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, peppers, herbs (cilantro, parsley, rosemary), lettuce, etc...

Also, take the time to read labels. If you're not buying organic, it's important to make sure that what you are eating is safe. Stay away from processed foods and foods with a high level of preservatives, and make sure you can not only pronounce everything that is on the label, but also recognize that food source as an actual food source. Example: MSG Monosodium Glutamate. It doesn't grow on a tree, or in the ground, but rather created in a lab and has been shown to increase the occurrence of asthma in those that are sensitive to the substance.

Here are just a few reasons why we should eat more organic...

Organic farming puts less strain on wildlife and the environment; these methods result in less air, water, and land pollution and produce less global warming gases.

The President's Cancer Panel suggests consuming organic food to avoid pesticides which have been linked to several types of cancers.

Organic standards prohibit the practice of genetically modifying crops and ingredients.

Organic food is void of harmful food additives, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup), contaminants (i.e. mercury) or preservatives, that have been linked to a multitude of health problems.

If you choose to consume animal products, be aware that organic farming standards prohibit the use of growth hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified vaccines in farm animals. In addition, organic meat and dairy with the labels "free range" and "pasture fed" means that the animals were treated in a more humane and ethical manner.

Although studies have been performed that have yielded mixed results, it has been shown that organic fruits and vegetables contain up to 40% more antioxidants than conventional produce.