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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keeping Your Cool - No Cooking Required

Summer is almost officially over, but it's still pretty hot out there. Even if you're fortunate enough (like me) not to live in a place where the temperatures have been in the high 90's to low 100's, you probably don't feel like using the stove right now. Especially if you're not not fortunate enough (like me) to have air conditioning. The weather in Berkeley can get very strange: one day's high temperature is 63º F and the next day it's 87º F. So, I've been looking for new ways to make raw vegetables more palatable and I've come up with a couple of salads. The flavors of each one are very different, but they have something in common. Each salad uses ingredients I had never really used before: arugula and radishes, which happen to be related to each other.

I had heard of arugula before, but I'd dismissed it as something that you'd only find in upscale restaurants. In fact, I had eaten it without my knowledge: it's commonly found in the "mixed baby greens" bagged lettuces that have become popular in the last several years. But I'd never had it on it's own and had no plans to do so until I watched several of Gordon Ramsey's cooking shows and was intrigued by something he kept referring to as "rocket salad." One Google search later,  I was enlightened by the excellent website WiseGEEK. Arugula (aka rocket, Italian cress, roquette and rucola) is a green leafy herb of the mustard family. It's a good source of vitamins A and C, folate (a water-soluble vitamin B), calcium and magnesium. The flavor is hot and peppery and can be eaten raw or cooked. Paired with the slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette and the slightly salty parmesan cheese, it's really tasty and has become one of my new favorites.








Arugula Salad (LC/GF)




Ingredients:


1 1/2 oz arugula
1/2 T Balsamic Vinaigrette (Recipe below)
10 g freshly shaved parmesan
7 g lightly toasted pine nuts


Preparation:

*If you can't find roasted pine nuts you can toast them yourself: Put nuts in a non-stick pan (with no oil!) and turn the heat to medium.  Shake the pan every thirty seconds, tossing the pine nuts. When they are slightly browned, remove from heat and allow to cool. You can also roast them quickly in a toaster oven:  pre-heat on 350º F for five minutes and roast for ten minutes.

*Put arugula in a salad bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkle with with parmesan and pine nuts. Eat immediately.






Balsamic Vinaigrette (Low Carb/Gluten Free/Vegan)

Ingredients:


1/4 C extra virgen olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, forced through press
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preparation:

*You can do this the old fashioned way, which involves combining the vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a small bowl. Add the oil in a slow steady stream, whisking constantly, until the dressing emulsifies. Then season with salt and pepper.
Or you can do it my way: put all ingredients in a salad dressing bottle, secure lid, and shake like hell. I personally can't tell the difference.




And then, of course, there is dessert, which is made possible by coconut oil. Unlike most other oils, coconut oil is solid at room temperature. It melts easily and can be mixed with a variety of ingredients and then chilled, to create cookies and confections that require very little time and heat. I like adding coconut manna to certain recipes, even though it's a little difficult to work with. It doesn't melt completely, even when you soak the jar in hot water, but it is necessary to try and stir it a bit when you get a new jar (the oil rises to the top). After that, I don't bother trying to soften it up; just scrape it out with a spoon. In my opinion, it's well worth the trouble and adds a rich creamy texture. But if you can't find it or don't want to use it, just substitute it by using a full tablespoon of coconut oil. My only caveat is this: once you take them out of the fridge they must be eaten quickly, or they will fall apart.


Icebox Cookies (L C/GF/Vegan)


Here are two variations, but the possibilities are endless. Experiment with whatever ingredients strike your fancy.




Almond Shortbread


Ingredients:


1/2 T coconut oil
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp xylitol, powdered
1/4 C almond flour/meal (I use Bob's Red Mill)

Preparation:

*Put coconut oil in a small glass or ceramic bowl and melt in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Add the vanilla extract, xylitol, and flour, one at a time, until evenly blended. Spoon mixture into mold or drop spoonful of the mixture on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and press down to flatten cookies. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.



Makes three cookies and each has 86.7 cal, 1 net carbs, 7.6 g fat,  1 g fiber and 2 g protein.







Cinnamon Coconut Hemp Cookies (LC/GF/Vegan)



Ingredients:

1/2 T coconut oil
1/2 T coconut manna
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp xylitol, powdered
7 g unsweetened dried coconut, finely shredded
1 T hemp seeds
1/2 T chia seeds




Preparation:

*Put coconut oil and manna in a small glass or ceramic bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Add the vanilla extract, xylitol, and the cinnamon and whisk until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut, hemp and chia seeds.  Mix the dry and the wet ingredient together. Spoon mixture into mold or drop spoonful of the mixture on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and press down to flatten cookies. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.



Makes 3 cookies and each has  76.95 cal, 1.03 net carbs, 5.11 g fat, 1.41 g fiber ans 1.7 g protein.







Chocolate Coconut Haystacks (LC/GF/Vegan)


Ingredients:

1/2 T coconut oil
1/2 T coconut manna
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 T erythritol, powdered
1 drop liquid stevia
14 g dried coconut, shredded


Preparation:

* Put coconut oil and manna in a small glass or ceramic bowl and microwave on High for 30 seconds. Whisk until thoroughly blended. Add cocoa powder, erythritol, vanilla extract and stevia, one at a time and whisk until smooth.  Mix in shredded coconut. Line a baking pan with unbleached parchment paper and drop mixture on by the spoonful  on the paper. Chill in the freezer fro 10 minutes. Store in the refrigerator in a air-tight container.

Makes 3 haystack and each has 76.5 cal, 1.5 net carbs, 8 g fat, 1.53 g fiber and 1.53 g protein.