New favorite cookbook - Oh She Glows

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon
My new favorite cookbook - The Oh She Glows Cookbook - is definitely helping me have 100 happy days.  I'll count it today as my Day 14 of #100happydays - but truly, I could count it for just about everyday.

The cookbook only came out this month and I had pre-ordered.  Its just a lovely book.  It is vegan but I think it has an appeal to everyone. The dishes are delish and will suit all palates.

First off though, it looks like a "proper" cookbook.  So often vegan or  plant based cookbooks aren't so appealing in their layout and design but this one is beautiful with gorgeous photos of every dish.

I started flipping through the pages and adding stickers to the recipes I wanted to try - but quickly ran out of stickers! It would have been easier to mark the couple that didn't appeal to me!

There are more than 100 recipes, 90 of which are gluten free. They are higher in sweeteners and oil than I typically use, but easily adaptable to reducing those levels if you so wish.  There are considerations for other food allergies too, with soy free, grain free, and nut free recipes as well.

I've really enjoyed cooking from the book. We had friends stay the weekend so I made the ultimate nutty granola clusters and they were a huge hit.

Other dishes I have tried include:

  • raw buckwheat breakfast porridge
  • taco fiesta potato crisps - with walnut taco meat
  • chakra caesar salad with nutty herb croutons
  • perfect kale chips
  • lightened-up crispy baked fries

and today I'm giving the "present glo bars" a try.  I'll let you know how they turn out.
Photo credit: Angela Liddon
Walnut, avocado and pear salad with marinated portobello caps and red onion
I highly recommend this book - for vegans, vegetarians, omnivores or whatever.  It'll make you happy.
Here's the link to it on Amazon


Book Review: Power foods for the brain

This week's book for my review is by Dr Neal Barnard and is entitled: Power Foods for the Brain: an effective 3-step plan to protect your mind and strengthen your memory.

The book is about how you can use foods to protect your brain and optimize its function and even reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, stroke, general cognitive decline,  and other less serious disorders such as low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability and lack of focus.

Dr Neal Barnard is President of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is a non-profit organization involved in promoting preventive medicine and responsible research in medicine.

He has written many other books : Neal Barnard Amazon Book list, many of which I have read.  Power Food for the brain is his most recent, just out this year.

The book clearly takes you through a 3 step program to protect your brain:

Step 1 deals with what foods are "power foods" for your brain - which can shield you from toxic metals, which can protect you from harmful fats.  It also tells you which foods you should avoid.

Step 2 looks at how you can strengthen your brain through exercise - both cognitive exercises and also physical exercises.

Step 3 shows you tips on how to improve your memory while you sleep and goes over which medicines and health conditions affect memory.

A final section then helps you put all this into practice and includes some menus and recipes, written by Christine Walternyer and Jason Wyrick.

Dr Barnard has a great way of providing clear and easy to understand information, all based on plenty of scientific research. I've attended several of his lectures in the past and he is a great educator. This comes over in this book. As does his sense of humor.  His use of analogies really helps get the information across to the reader.

Dr Barnard advocates a plant-based diet and offers the evidence behind this - but also demonstrates the real power of good nutrition.

Here's a short video of Dr Barnard on the Ellen DeGeneres Show discussing Power Foods
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It shows you what an approachable guy Dr Barnard is. You'll find lots of other videos of his online - so have a search and learn more!

This is a great book. If you are beginning to notice some cognitive decline, get a copy and even if you don't do his whole program, you'll find lots of little tips for improvement.

Book Review: The Vegan Cheat Sheet

This week's book review is for a book just out this past week: The Vegan Cheat Sheet by Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey.

It is described as
a take-anywhere resource that puts all the essential information about eating vegan at your fingertips.
Basically it teaches you how to become vegan by offering:

  • information on myths vs truth about vegan lifestyle
  • describes what foods to eat and which to avoid
  • reasons to go vegan
  • vegan replacements
  • shopping lists to stock your cupboard
  • recipes
  • a 21 day vegan program with meal plans
  • how to eat out  - including restaurant guides
and more!

Authors Amy and Lisa
I like the book.  It's one I would recommend to my students and is ideal for someone wanting to move into a vegan lifestyle.  It covers all the basics. 

The recipes are easy and relatively quick.  Nothing fancy but there were quite a few that I marked and may make, like chana masala, mushroom risotto, creamy corn chowder.  Throughout all the recipes, they don't use any added oil - which is how I cook too.

The book isn't gluten free but you can make the usual gluten free substitutions to the recipes. 

I'm never sure about the 21 day people really want every meal laid out for them for 3 weeks??  Maybe they do, or maybe they are just examples to play with.

The "Party" chapter was a good one -  where they group together different recipes that would work well for a gathering.  For example, for a 'French gourmet' evening, they suggest their recipes for white bean pate, cassoulet, mushroom risotto, ratatouille followed by chocolate mousse.  For 'Passage to India' there is curried butternut squash soup, chana masala, saag paneer, brown rice, whole-wheat pita bread and chia pudding.

Like last week's book, this was a quick read.  It's a nice introduction to starting a vegan lifestyle and covers all the bases.  And its written in a friendly accessible style.

Kitchen tools - Lekue steamer

The latest addition to my kitchen is a Lekue steamer.  Its a Danish design and I'm loving it!  I've never done much steaming - but in this past week, that's changed. I think I've done some every night.

The only problem is that I have steamed food and then eaten it and forgotten to take any blog worthy photos.

Who knew how tasty steamed food, picked straight from your garden, could be?  Well, maybe loads of people - but I've only just found out.

It seems my favorite is steamed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Even my husband loves the steamed broccoli.  Neither of us thought he'd eat it but I put it on his plate -and he more than ate it - he enjoyed it!!

And the steamed potatoes?  Amazing.  I LOVE steamed potatoes. Dig them out of the ground, wash them, cut them up, steam for 6 minutes.  It cooks them so beautifully - really evenly cooked throughout.

Anyhow - enough drooling. Onto the Lekue.  It's a silicone piece of cookware and I bought the bright lime green one - as that's my favorite color. It also comes in white and red.  The one I bought was for 3-4 people.  It really shouldn't be labelled 3 -4 people. Not if you are a big veggie eater like me.   I can't imagine the 1 - 2 person size. You could hardly fit anything into it.

So go for the large size.

You put 2 tablespoons of water in the bottom and then add the little tray.  Add the food. Close it up and now you can steam it in the microwave or in the oven.  Perfect!

Open it up carefully so you don't scald yourself and your food will be perfectly steamed and delicious and nutritious.

I've done apples in it too and lots of different vegetables.  I can't believe its taken me all these years to get into steaming. But Lekue has done it!  I wonder what tonight will bring?????

My new kitchen tool of the week.
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Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits  vegetables. Yes, it is officially a vegetable, but  I still think of it as a fruit.  I've been looking for it for the past month, but it seems later than I remember this year. Anyhow - I found some this week and so had to make something with it!

I made some chia rhubarb and ginger muffin tops.  Gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.  The chia seeds add some great omega-3 fats to the muffin too.  You'll be seeing more chia, flax and hemp recipes and posts here, as my Food as Medicine classes next week are all about essential fatty acids.

I made these gluten free, using a GF oat flour, but you could easily substitute for a whole grain flour with gluten, such as spelt or wheat or.....  They will probably rise a little more with a flour with gluten too, so if you try them, send me a photo.

Here is the recipe: Chia Rhubarb Ginger Muffin Tops

3 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups GF oat flour (or whole grain flour)
1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut nectar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped rhubarb (approx 2 - 3 stalks)
1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Optional - seeds or nuts or oats to sprinkle for topping

  1. Mix the chia seeds with the water in a jug and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with coconut oil spray
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and spices and mix.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, combine the oil, coconut nectar, orange juice and vanilla extract.  Add the thickened chia seed mix and whisk until smooth.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the rhubarb and raisins and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups. If using, sprinkle the topping on each muffin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool.

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Whole Grains Nutrition and Cooking Class

I'm back from vacation.  Had a lovely time.  Quite different - no roads or cars, only burros and boats - so that meant for lots of walking!

Tomorrow and Thursday I'm back at my Food as Medicine groups, with this week focusing on the health benefits of Whole Grains.  We are going to be cooking up some yummy food including:

  • my prize winning marmalade granola 
  • goji berry oatcakes
  • popped amaranth bread
  • supergreen quinoa salad
  • middle eastern oat groats, and
  • birdseed burgers (aka millet burgers!)

I am then taking the groups on a tour of Whole Foods to learn about reading food labels and the best food brands to buy.

Sounds like a busy and fun time!  I'll let you know how it goes and try to remember to take my camera!

Ceres gluten free, sugar free, dairy free dessert class

Saturday's "blissful celebrations" class was great! We made 4 different desserts plus a caramel sauce all of which were gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free.

 We made:
  •  a lemon cheescake - the base was just almonds and dates and the filling was based on cashew nuts
  • profiterole puffs made from choux pastry and filled with a coffee creme patisserie
  • strawberry and pink peppercorn quinoa cookies
  • chestnut roulade filled with coconut milk "cream" and pomegranate.

There was a lot to cook (and eat!), in a limited time span with lots of new techniques, but everyone did a great job.

Hope you enjoy the photos of the class :-D  Thanks to all who came and especially to Kendra and Alysha who volunteered to help me.