Monday, July 25, 2011

Thai Basil Rolls with Sweet and Spicy Sauce

First, I have been/ will be in the coming weeks somewhat slower with churning out some fun recipes for you all. I have a lot of home-type projects that need to be done before an event, date-unknown, occurs. What event, exactly? Well, not quite ready to share yet because of too many things we don't know. But soon, hopefully, soon, I will let you know!

Hope you enjoy these un-fried spring rolls. Yes, these are what spring rolls actually look like before dipping them in batter and frying them- like the kind you mostly see at restaurants. I prefer them this way. 1) Because they are slightly healthier and 2) because they require much less work :)

I can't decide if I like the sauce or the spring rolls better in this recipe. The sauce is on the sweet side for me so it makes a yummy afternoon snack. I wish I had kiddos to test it out on (probably would make it less spicy for them, but I feel like this would be a good way to get kids to eat some raw veggies)! At least when I was a kid I could eat pretty much anything non-kid friendly (you know, like asparagus :) if I had a good dip to mask it with. And the sweet and spicy dipping sauce is nutritious and rich in probiotics so if they did slather it on, it wouldn't be so bad :)

Fruit Basil Spring Rolls

makes: 6 full spring rolls, 12 when cut in halfIngredients
  • 6 spring roll wrappers, found in the Asian section of most grocery stores (usually made from tapioca and/or rice starch and water)
  • 1/4 cup water + 1 tsp arrowroot starch (or potato, corn, or tapioca starches) for brushing for easier rolling
  • filling mix
  • sauce for dipping
For the filling
  • 1 large cucumber, or two small ones
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 mango
  • 3 Tbsp of finely diced onion
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/2" slice of ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 tsp sea salt
  • 24 fresh Thai basil leaves, about 4 per roll (can sub regular basil leaves)
For the sweet and spicy dipping sauce
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond butter (or can sub unsweetened peanut butter or use both)
  • 4 Tbsp coconut kefir (or can sub 4 Tbsp coconut milk, plus 1 tsp lemon juice, or 4 Tbsp good quality plain, unsweetened yogurt for a dairy version)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste, or paste from 2 large whole tamarinds (you can find these at international markets or Whole Foods, can also sub tsp honey or other sweetener)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Slice the bell pepper, cucumber, and mango into thin strips like so:
  • Add all filling ingredients to a bowl (except basil) and let sit/ marinade for 30 minutes while you prepare the dipping sauce and get the spring roll skins ready.
  • For the sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. The sauce is sweet, so you can adjust tamarind/ honey/ or other sweetener to your taste buds.
  • For the spring rolls, on a clean work space, lay out the 6 spring roll wrappers and brush the entire sheet to make it easier to work with and more flexible- they get pretty crispy in their packaging
  • When the filling is ready, start constructing the spring roll. First, place basil leaves in a row across the middle of the circle. Then add filling. Here's how I did mine:
  • Then roll and tuck the filling and sides under like you are about to roll a burrito, and brush again with the water/ starch mixture if needed (I also used two hands, but you can't use two hands and take a picture at the same time :)
  • Then roll the rest into a log shape:
  • Cut in half diagonally and serve with dipping sauce for a yummy appetizer or snack.
This recipe has been linked up to:
1. Cucumbers, mangoes, and peppers are in season. Check out other seasonal recipes by clicking on the link to the left and visiting Real Sustenance.

2. Also, check out other refined sugar-free recipes by clicking the picture on the right. Check out Sugar-free Sunday every Sunday at Flip Cookbook

3. Simply Sugar and Gluten Free hosts has a wide variety of healthier food ideas every Tuesday. Click link to to check out this weeks submissions.

Happy Thai Roll Making,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Apple Pie Gelato

Don't you just love it when you learn something new about food or food science? Well, maybe just me. I'm a food nerd. Perhaps that was why I became a baker. Baking is mostly chemistry and interactions of different components. I saw myself as a mad scientist who would problem-solve when things went wrong. For example, a brownie with a soggy middle and a burnt crust would really get me excited about trying new ways to solve that problem with my mad food-science skills. (Yes, I fully embrace how geeky this sounds :) And because of my nerdiness, I decided to chat up the Whole Foods gelato lady while she made me my almond milk latte.

For the first time in a while, since I usually see ice cream/ gelato and immediately look away because my dairy allergy doesn't allow me such indulgences, I lingered over the gelato flavors and saw that they had "dairy-free" flavors. I immediately thought, "Well, that probably just means soy then," but I decided to ask her what the ingredients were anyways. (I try not to intake too much soy voluntarily since it's hidden in many things and is usually genetically modified).

She was most helpful, and she said the dairy-free flavors were usually just a mix of sugar (corn syrup) and water and guar gum, which helps emulsify them and help them fluff up like real gelato. I had seen guar gum in the store before, but never knew what exactly it was for. So I did some research into guar gum, and here is what I found:
  1. Guar gum works really well to emulsify cold foods, like ice creams or dressings.
  2. It is made from the endosperm (nutritious starchy part of a seed) of a legume seed native to tropical Asia.
  3. Unlike Xanthan gum (which along with guar gum is also useful in gluten-free baked goods), guar gum could be better for people with sensitivities to corn or soy, since Xanthan gum is made from a microorganism that is fed a diet of corn and soy.
  4. Research has shown that guar gum has possible health benefits because of it's high soluble fiber content, like increasing calcium absorption, lowering cholesterol levels, and providing relief from constipation.
  5. I haven't found it available at Whole Foods (most likely chain store to find it in), but have found it at local herb or organic markets/ co-ops. You can also find it on .
  6. It also works nicely when making homemade nut or seed milks- gives them a more rich texture like real milk. I enjoyed a nice thick glass the other day.
Ok, so you didn't stop by for a science lesson! Onto the main event. This recipe is for a dairy-free (and gluten-free, egg-free, and refined sugar-free too) gelato. Gelato actually is older than ice cream, and usually has less fat but more sugar that it's newly evolved relative. Perfect for the way I like to do ice cream, since my "sugar" is usually a whole food with a lot of fiber. Most gelatos (in America at least) are typically high in fructose. Therefore, I chose a very ripe banana to help sweeten this treat.

Apple Pie Gelato

Serves 3-4Ingredients
For the Apple bits and topping:

  • 1 tart apple, granny smith or other low-water apple which would normally bake with
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance spread (I use soy-free, or the red tub :)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce or can sub 1 Tbsp honey
For the "Pie" part:
  • 3/4 cup nuts (I used cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts, but any of your favorite will do)
  • 1/4 cup coconut, unsweetened, unsulfured
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, I used no sugar added and unsulfured (can sub 2 dates)
  • 1 tsp apple butter (optional, but yummy)
For the Gelato part:
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut and almond mixture)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup organic apple butter (I used homemade, but you can use this brand, found in most stores, or your favorite local one. You can also try subbing 1/4 cup apple sauce mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon, just a thought as I have not tested this out.)
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • Optional, depending on your sweet tooth: 1-3 Tbsp raw honey
  • Chop the apple (for the bits and topping) into dime-sized chunks and toss with the lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, and apple sauce (or honey if using) in a bowl. Set aside for now.
  • In food processor or blender, mix all "pie" ingredients until you can pinch them together easily and everything looks uniform. Set aside.
  • In food processor or blender, blend all ice cream ingredients until pureed.
  • Pour into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions. I use this one.
  • While the ice cream is freezing, get out a small skillet and heat Earth Balance spread.
  • Add the apple that had been sitting in lemon juice mixture to the skillet when the EB is well heated.
  • Saute the apples until they are warmed through and slightly caramelized (about 5-8 minutes).
  • Optional: Place 1/2 of the apple chunks in a bowl or plate and freeze just until your ice cream has mostly frozen in the maker. (The rest you will use as a topping- or you can just top the apples on your finished ice cream, especially if your ice cream maker is on the small side.)
  • When the ice cream has mostly frozen, add 1/2 the chunks of "pie" pieces. Also, if desired, add 1/2 the sauteed apples. Let the ice cream come to a complete freeze.
  • Serve and top with remaining sauteed apples and pie-like pieces.
This post has been linked up to:
Sugar-Free Sunday @ Flip Cookbook. Check out more refined-sugar free ideas over there and interesting tid-bits about raisins!

Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ Simply Sugar and Gluten-free. Visit Slightly Indulgent Tues for more healthier recipe ideas.

Hope you enjoy the gelato, and let me know if you have experimented with guar gum and what you like to make with it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Raw Thai Casserole

Do you ever get stuck in food ruts? I sometimes find myself thinking about dinner and I can only remember two or three things I like to make! Usually, those were things I have made recently, and thus I get stuck in a rut until my taste buds are tired of the same old thing. Thankfully, I have this blog now to remind me of what else I can make :) After a pretty hectic week or two, I have decided to get back into more raw (un)cooking.

And to help any of you out who also get stuck in ruts, I will be posting some more raw recipes and linking up to some other sites, too. Also, check out my new "Raw Recipes" tab for more ideas!

This raw dish was easy and super quick to make. And you've got to hand it to raw food meals for not making much of a mess in the kitchen. No skillets, or baking dishes means less clean up- and that means so much to me. I love making a mess in the kitchen, but I'm no fan of the aftermath clean-up. Thankfully, I married a great dishwasher :)

Raw Thai Casserole

Serves 3-4Ingredients
For the Sauce part:
  • 4 Tbsp raw almond butter
  • 1" piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated or minced (I use a Microplane)
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • paste of 2 sweet tamarind, or about 1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste (These look like large peanuts if you can find them whole. The inside looks like a date. You can find whole tamarinds at Whole Foods- usually near the tropical fruits- or your local Asian/ International market. If you find a paste, it may or may not be raw. You can also substitute 1 date or 1/2 Tbsp date paste here.)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp red curry paste - not completely raw because these usually use tomato paste that has been heated, but this definitely adds a good flavor to the dish
For the Casserole Part:
  • One small to medium head of cauliflower
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • 3-4 green onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • Assorted chopped vegetables of your choosing- I used broccoli, okra, cucumber, and carrot
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped cliantro
  • Top with chopped raw cashews or peanuts, and sprouts would be nice too
  • Blend all sauce ingredients together using a fork or in a food processor if your tamarind is thick.
  • Chop the cauliflower into smaller chunks and place it with the basil in food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is the consistency of couscous. If you don't have a food processor, you can mince the cauliflower and finely chop the basil with a chefs knife- this just takes longer.
  • Toss the couscous-like cauliflower/ basil mixture, with the chopped onion, bell pepper, and cilantro, in with the almond butter sauce mixture in a large bowl.
  • Chop your assorted veggies and add 1 cup chopped vegetables at a time to the mix until you feel like you have reached a good casserole-like consistency.
  • Top with chopped cashews or peanuts, sprouts if using, and serve.
Thai cooking seems to translate well to raw eating. You can also make your favorite Thai recipes raw by replacing canned coconut milk with young coconuts, nut butters with raw ones, and tomato paste with a sun-dried tomato/ fresh tomato mixture. Here are some other Raw Thai Dishes (or ones that can easily be made raw) that you may want to try:
This recipe has been linked up to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White, and Blueberry Watermelon Salad

Happy Fourth of July, my American friends! So technically there is not any "white" in this salad, but it was such a tasty throw together for our Fourth of July dinner that I had to post it and give it a festive holiday name.

I made this recipe for a crowd (10ish people), feel free to half or quarter the recipe for a smaller audience :) Here's hoping you and yours don't have thunder clouds rolling in like we do here in Atlanta. Hope to get to see the fireworks tonight!

Red, White, and Blueberry Watermelon Salad

Serves a crowd (If just making for a family of 4, I would half the recipe)Ingredients
  • watermelon cubed, about 12 cups (from a 7 or 8 pound watermelon weighed with rind on)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup finely packed fresh spearmint or peppermint leaves (I used a combo, since both are growing on my porch- but spearmint has a milder flavor)
  • 1 tsp lime or lemon juice
  • Cube the watermelon, and be sure to pour in the extra juice if it's a juicy melon!
  • Finely chop the mint leaves.
  • Toss mint and watermelon with the blueberries and lemon juice in large bowl.
  • Serve immediately or let sit for a while so the flavors meld together better.
This post has been linked up to Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance . Check out other seasonal recipes there!

Happy Independence Day,
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