Monday, October 25, 2010

Barbara's Gluten-free (Almost Whole Wheat) Bread

Fresh Gluten-free Bread, Ready to Bake

I grew up eating homemade whole wheat bread.  Every morning it seemed we ate homemade whole wheat toast.  Every day at school I devoured sandwiches made from homemade whole wheat bread. Even at a young age, when my mom was there, I was there with her in the kitchen mixing yeast and sugar, wiping flour on my face, kneading my little bit of dough while she kneaded 6 loaves of dough at a time.  I learned a lot from mom, one of which was that Whole Wheat Bread is a life essential and that it tastes best when you make it from scratch.   I came to enjoy making bread on my own.  When I went away from home and got my own kitchen, I started making bread for myself.  I would still make 6 loaves at a time, which is a huge amount for one person, but I'd put them in the freezer, and then they'd be ready when I needed them.  I didn't need to make bread too often.  

What I didn't know was all that wheat bread eating was causing my health problems.  It was good whole wheat bread, but it wasn't good for me.  I was over weight, had a cloudy head and was tired all the time.  Since then I have learned that I am gluten intolerant.  Living gluten free has changed my life.  Among other things, I have energy.  I don't need naps all the time.  My head is so much more clear.  And it is easy for me to maintain a healthy weight.  I have learned to be happy without eating bread.  (I really was addicted to it.)  It has been around 13 years since I first went gluten free, but in all this time, I have not found a bread that starts to compare to the bread I used to make.  But I've developed a recipe that comes closer then anything else I've tasted.  And I give thanks to God for making it happen.  All good ideas come from God.

I've learned that there are lots of different kinds of breads out there.  There are lots of ideas on what the perfect bread tastes like.   Only a few people enjoy a vegan whole wheat bread when they are eating gluten, so I can tell you from the start, this bread recipe will be only for a certain group of people who want a plant based bread, containing as many whole grains as possible, with no eggs, milk or refined fats.  This bread will surprise many people because it contains an apple and a stalk of celery, but those two ingredients are very important to the success of the bread, so don't leave them out.  The recipe requires a high quality blender, so if you don't have one, this recipe isn't for you.  But if your desires are similar to mine, I think you will find this bread to be very pleasing.  It rises well compared to other whole grain gluten-free bread recipes I have tried.  And the best of all, this recipe has excellent flavor for a whole grain, plant-based, gluten free bread.   It has been a long time since I've eaten Mom's homemade bread, but this bread gets closer to it then any I've tasted, given my other dietary restrictions.

Go ahead and give it a try.  Follow the directions carefully.  I've learned that many of Mom's rules for making whole wheat bread don't apply here.

Newly Shaped Loaf

Barbara's Gluten Free (Almost Whole Wheat) Bread
By Barbara @
January 2012 Edition

Step 1: First of all, if you keep your yeast in the freezer, get it out early and measure it so it will be room temperature by the time you are ready to add the sweetner and liquid. Then make some flour mix. You will use part or all of the flour mix to make the bread. You could make a large amount of flour mix ahead of time and keep it in the freezer, but make sure it is at room temperature before you mix up the bread.

Flour mix:
2 cups gluten free oat flour (grind in your blender from gluten free oats)
1 cup teff flour
2 cups sorghum flour
½ cup garbonzo or garfava flour
1 ½ cup tapicoa flour/starch
1/4 cup psyllium seed husks
2 Tbsp. EnerG egg replacer
1 Tbsp. xanthan gum

Step 2: In quart sized bowl mix together:
1/2 tsp. honey

1 cup very warm, almost too-hot water
1 Tbsp. yeast
Let set 'til foamy

Step 3: In blender combine:
1 fuji apple, medium to small in size, cored and sliced
2 large stalks of celery
¾ cup walnuts
1 cup flax seeds
1 tsp. rose hip powder (If you don't have this, You can sub 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice, but the rose hip powder yields a little better result. This is to put an acid in the recipe.)
3 tsp salt
2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
3 cups warm water
Blend until thick and foamy. Then add to yeast mixture, when the yeast is ready. 

Step 4: (The first thing I need to remind you of is that this is not wheat bread, and therefore you will not follow the rules for making wheat bread.) When the yeast mixture is good and foamy, place the ingredients in the blender and the yeast mixture in  large bowl and mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Now add 2 cups of the flour mixture made in step 1 (above).  Mix until well combined, but don't over mix.  Add more flour mix, cup by cup, stirring well, until dough is dry enough to knead on the counter (probably about 2 -3 cups of flour mix), but still sticky. You may not need all the flour mix for one recipe. Scrape the dough out onto the flour covered counter and then spread some flour on top of the bread. Gently work the bread, turning it under and around. Do not work it hard like wheat bread. Work in just enough flour so you can handle it and shape it into loaves.  Your hands will still be sticky.  This is one of the major secrets of this bread, put in just enough flour to form loaves and work it in completely, but don't over work it, but do not work in too much flour, or over work the dough, or it will be heavy bread. Remember you are not working to activate gluten fibers in the bread, as there is none, but rather to just mix the bread well. It really does not take too long to do this.
Step 5: Shape into two loaves, and placed in oiled bread pans.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. 
Step 6: Place bread on a low rack in a cold oven set for 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 90 – 100 minutes.

Cool and Ready to Slice
Step 7:  After the bread is baked, let it cool. It is quite sticky at first, but will be more firm the next day. It is best to keep it in the refrigerator.  If you aren't going to eat it right away, slice the bread and then store it in a zip bag in the freezer, taking out only as much as you need at a time, and letting it thaw to make sandwiches, or toasting it in a gluten free toaster, (so as to avoid contamination from gluten crumbs).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home Dehydrated Veggies for Backpacking

As gluten-free vegans, vegetables are our main food of choice when eating at home.  When we are backpacking, we want to eat vegetables too.  It is easy to buy dehydrated fruit, but vegetables aren't as easy, unless you buy the very expensive freeze dried kind.  So, I set my mind to figure out how it can be done.  And my idea worked brilliantly.

I'll teach you how to make dehydrated broccoli and dehydrated peas and carrots in this post.  In another post I'll teach you how to make fabulous dehydrated green beans and sunflower seeds.  Home dehydrated corn does not work well, so if you need corn, go ahead and buy the freeze dried kind.

Dehydrated broccoli

Buy bags of frozen broccoli.  Get the kind that is already chopped small.  You don't want bags of frozen stems, if you can help it.

You can open a bag and sprinkle it on the try, just as it is and dehydrate it, if you will be putting it in something that needs to be boiled just a little while.

If you want something that cooks up real fast, or you can put in a "just add hot water soup", or put in a seasoning mix, you need broccoli that is even smaller.  Easy.  When the broccoli is still frozen solid, open the bag and put it in a food processor.  Process until it is as small as the processor makes it, or as small as you desire it.  Then spread it on dehydrator trays and dehydrate until dry.  It is a fabulous dehydrated vegetable and rehydrates quickly, with good flavor.

Use the larger dehydrated broccoli pieces in quinoa pilaf.  Use the smaller pieces in Asian Noodles, Black bean soup, or in other instant soup mixes or seasonings.

Peas and Carrots

Use the same method for peas and/or carrots.  I buy the frozen bags of mixed peas and carrots.  The more veggies I can get, the better.  While they are still frozen solid, place them in a food processor and whiz them around until they are as small as the processor can make them.  Spread the little pieces on dehydrator trays and dry until they are completely dry.  Seal them in ziplock bags.  In camp pour boiling water over them and they rehydrate in just a couple minutes with nice flavor.

Use them in the Asian Noodle veggie mix with broccoli, add them to your black bean soup mix with broccoli and tomatoes for more nutrition and flavor.  Put them in any thing else your mind dreams up.  Let me know what you come up with.

Gluten-free Vegan Asian Noodles for Backpacking

The traditional noodle for backpacking is Ramen, but they don't work if you are gluten intolerant or a celiac.  There are some pre-packaged asian soup mixes available that are gluten free, but more likely then not they contain shrimp, or MSG.  Here is my answer to the need for easy backpacking noodles, that are almost as fast as Ramen, but much more delicious and nutritious.

Asian Noodles or Pancit

1. In the Asian Section of the store buy some glass noodles, or Vermicelli made from mung beans or peas.  They are clear, very thin noodles.

2.  Dehydrate some vegetables at home for your noodles.  I used dehydrated frozen broccoli, and peas and carrots.  (Directions on this page.) Be generous with the veggies.  This is the nutrition of your soup.

3. Make a Seasoning Mix from:

- gluten free vegan chicken-like seasoning (I use La Chikky by The Vegetarian Express)
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- salt
- any other flavor you desire

Make your own mix.  Be generous with the veggies.  The are the nutrition in this mix.  There really isn't much in the noodles.  Then put in chicken-like seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and salt, according to how flavorful you like it.  You might want to experiment at home with this one too, to see how much you need.

In camp, put your noodles in the pot, and just cover with water.  Pour in your generous amount of veggies and seasoning mix to taste.  Bring to a boil, and start trying to stir.  The noodles soften quickly soon after the water boils.  They will absorb most of the water.  Once the noodles are soft, you can eat.

Gluten-free Vegan Soup Mixes for Backpacking

One of the easy mainstays of backpacking is instant soups.  They are quick to prepare, require only boiling water, and you can find them in most grocery stores.  But when you are a gluten-free vegan, you choices are limited.  I looked through the grocery store before my last trip and found a couple things that would work, but when I read the label further, I found that they likely contained MSG in the form of spices, or natural flavors.  So I set out to make the family some homemade soups.

The basic idea is that you make a soup that you like to eat at home, and dehydrate it.

Below you will find directions for three easy homemade soups for backpacking that are gluten-free, vegan, and MSG free.

Split Pea Soup
The easiest soup to make, dehydrate, and rehydrate is split pea soup.  Cook up a pot of your favorite flavor of split pea soup.  Make sure it is flavored well.  Then spread it thinly on your dehydrator sheets, like you would fruit leather.  It will separate and crumble as it dries, and by the time it is done, it will be more powdery then not.  At this stage, powder it further in a food processor if you wish, and then put it in ziplock bags, either in one person portions, or in a larger bag for a family.

In camp, boil some water.  Put your soup powder in your cup, and pour boiling water over the top.  It is ready to eat in just a few minutes of soaking.

Thai Curry or Other Soups

These soups usually aren't instant, but it doesn't take long to cook them up in a pot of boiling water. I have a great recipe for Butternut Squash Curry on my blog if you need one.  When you cut up the vegetables for your curry, cut the pieces small.  Potatoes work best if they are cut in thin slices.  Make the curry like normal.  Once cooked soft, spread it on dehydrator trays.  Dehydrate until completely dry.  Put it in the food processor to make the pieces even smaller.  Guess at the amount you will need per meal and seal in a ziplock bag.

In camp, guess at how much water you will need.  Mix in your dehydrated curry mix.  Bring the water to a boil, stirring as needed.  Simmer until the soup is soft enough to eat.  Enjoy gourmet food in the wilderness.

Black Bean Soup

In the bulk section of our grocery store, there are dehdrated pinto bean flakes, and black bean flakes.  These are great for backpackers who eat simply.

Buy some black bean flakes
- dehydrated veggies (I used dehydrated broccoli, peas and carrots, ground up sun dried tomatoes are nice too) (pictured at the top of the page; directions on this page)
- dehydrated onion
- garlic powder
- chili powder
- cumin
- salt

Make a sample of the soup at home to check your seasoning levels.  Boil some water.  Put a little of your soup mix in a bowl, pour on some water, stir, wait until soft and then eat a spoonful.  Add more of what ever flavor it is missing.  If you like spicy food, make it spicy.  If your seasoning is too strong, add more black beans.  Once you have it good.  Divide it into servings and put in little ziplocks.

In camp, put your mix in a cup, add boiling water, stir, and eat when soft.  It won't take long.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gluten-free Vegan Backpacking Food

View from Kintla Lake Backcountry Campground, Glacier National Park.
If you are a gluten-free, vegan, and like to go backpacking, you know the challenges of finding something worth eating while you are on the trail to the back country.  It is hard enough eating from day to day, but the choices get even slimmer when you try to carry your food on your back, especially if you want that food that has simple seasonings, no MSG, lots of veggies, whole grains and not cost very much.

I went to my nearest grocery stores to see what I could find, and the results were discouraging.  I started reading labels, and decided it was time to dehydrate my own food.  It was time to go gourmet.  We were going to have the best gluten-free, vegan backpacking food on the Kintla Lake Trail in Glacier National Park. 

Ramen isn't gluten-free, but there are some noodles that are.  They are tiny clear noodles in the Asian food section.  Sometimes they are called Glass Noodles, sometimes vermicelli.  My favorite is made out of mung beans, but there are others made out of rice.  With these noodles I made a quick and easy dish that reminds me of the dish from the Philippines called Pancit.  I simply call them Asian Noodles.  Make your own soup seasoning mix to go with it, or anything else you want to add flavor to or lots of home dehydrated veggies.

Dehydrated green beans sound unusual, but after eating them, you will want more.  They are quite versatile, good as a dry veggie snack, or in cooked food.

Dehydrate your own potato slices, and make your own potato dishes.

Quinoa is good for breakfast or supper.
Soup or Pancakes?

Dehydrated spaghetti sauce and walnut cheese sprinkles, and your favorite noodles.

Black bean soup, using the dehydrated black bean flakes in the bulk section of the grocery store.  I also make easy dehydrated Split Pea Soup that will save a lot of money when you make it yourself and dehydrates faster then anything else.

You can make most any other favorite soup you like to eat at home and dehydrate it too.  I like to make dehydrated Thai Curry

Homemade granola for lunch.  Yes, for lunch.  It is crazy sounding, but works for us.  We have time in camp to make a full meal for breakfast.  But lunch is on the trail, and pre-made granola bars don't work for us.  So why not put your granola bar in a bowl with some milk powder, pour on some water and enjoy.  Supplement with some dried fruit, and nuts if you are still hungry.  I also take some dehydrated kale chips, flax crackers, and such, but granola is the main deal.  It's best feature is that it is simple, and fast.  No thought needed and little prep time needed in the middle of the day.  You are back on the trail quickly.

And the most popular food item of the whole trip, Back Country Burritos.  It takes some prep work ahead of time, but it was absolutely delicious in camp.

So here's the deal.  I'll give you detailed instructions in additional posts and link from this post to them.  So get your dehydrator ready.  There is still plenty of time for backpacking before the snow flies.

The only bear we saw on the trail hung out in this backpack.  He knew where to find good food.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chocolate Gluten-free, Dairy-free Cupcakes

My son knew just what he wanted to make for me for Mother's Day. He saw a photo of a lovely chocolate cake with pink frosting on another healthy food blog quite a while ago, and knew that he wanted to make that for me. The only problem was, he isn't a proficient baker yet. But Sunday morning he arrived in the kitchen and started pulling the ingredients out of the cupboard, sounding out the next item on the list as best as he could. Did you know how to pronounce Xanthum Gum when you were 10? He didn't either, but he found it in the cupboard anyway. In order to divert disaster, I took on a advisory role, and ended up having lots of Mother's Day fun with my enthusiastic son manufacturing cupcakes in the kitchen. And I'm happy to say the results were cute and a great success. We even learned some things to pass on to you, to improve you baking results if you try this great gluten free recipe.

You can go find the recipe at Whole Life Nutrition's excellent blog. And you will see a photo of the beautiful two layer cake that first caught my son's attention, inspiring his Mother's Day efforts.

We followed the directions for the cake exactly, except we put it into cupcake liners instead of cake pans. It made 17 cupcakes. We filled them pretty full. They rose just a little bit, but didn't fall either, which is notable for gluten-free, dairy-free baking. It took 25 minutes to bake, and came out just as we expected, perfectly delicious!

We learned a few things on the frosting. We made a half batch of the frosting, and there was still some frosting left over after we had frosted 17 cupcakes. First of all, make sure your mixer is ready before you put in the ingredients. And then, we think it might be important for your Spectrum Palm Shortening to be cooler then room temperature. We also think it is possible to over mix the frosting. The shortening seemed to melt just a little bit and made darker pink spots in the pink fluffy frosting that might be solved with cooler shortening, and not over mixing. (Hence the separated look in the photos. They still tasted very nice.) We also thought it might be good to place the frosting in the refrigerator as soon as you are done mixing it to keep it from separating. When we squeezed raw beets through our garlic press, it didn't make hardly any juice, but we figured out that you just add a little water, and you have as much juice as you needed. The color was splendid. We really thought it was much prettier then food coloring and will use beets to color all pink frosting in the future. We flavored it with vanilla, but next time I want to try making it mint flavor, making chocolate mint cupcakes.

I think that this is a splendid frosting recipe, and am excited that it doesn't use the traditional powdered sugar. Arrowroot gave it a great texture and the agave nectar gave it perfect sweetness. But it has been so long since I have eaten frosting, I found it much too fatty and sweet for my personal taste. But that means, it will be an excellent alternative for people who are used to the real thing. What I think I would really like on these muffins is some lightly sweetened, thickened raspberry jell spread on each one. I think it would be very pretty, but not too sweet or fatty. Actually we left some cupcakes unfrosted for my husband who is very careful to stay away from fat to protect his heart, and they were fantastic muffins, just by themselves.

Thanks to Whole Food Nutrition for another excellent gluten free recipe! You and your recipes are great! And thanks to my dear son for a lovely Mother's Day treat!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Traveling Gluten-free Vegan

The Grand Canyon on our Recent Trip

We just returned from a great road trip with the family to see the sights in Southern California, Arizona, and Utah. Gone are the days of throwing in some clothes and a sleeping bag and hitting the road, eating whatever is available. I have to think carefully about what I am going to eat. I don't trust many restaurants. There is no way I want some accidental gluten exposure when I am out trying to keep up with my growing kids in a hike. Three days of low energy and brain fog would ruin the trip. I have to plan and take food along.

So you are wondering, what did we eat? Good food, I tell you! What we ate might not work for you, but it might give you some ideas.

Three times on the road I typed "Wendy's" into the GPS, and we went and bought plain baked potatoes to go. These we took to the car where we drizzled on some tahini that I keep in the ice chest. We seasoned them with onion powder, garlic powder, and salt that I keep in small sprinkle containers in a quart ziplock bag, in the back window of the car. Then we added pinto beans, black beans or garbonzo beans from a freshly opened can, pulled out of the trunk. A child got to choose the variety. Salsa was available in the ice chest if someone want some of that. Second course was salad. Pull out some pre-chopped, washed lettuce, a cucumber, grape tomatoes, and what ever else you want on your salad. Put some lettuce in your now empty potato container, and slice on some cucumber, add tomatoes, etc. For dressing you cut a lime in half, and squeeze on the juice. For fat you drizzle on some more tahini, and some of that onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Basil or dill is nice too if you have them. Mix it around and enjoy. Finish off with an apple or orange or banana from the grocery store along the way. It is a great meal!

Before we left home I made a large batch of granola with gluten free oats, lots of nuts and seeds, and sulfite-free dried fruit cut into little pieces, along with raisins. (I adapted the recipe on my blog, didn't include the rice flakes, and just used more gluten free oats, and raw buckwheat instead. ) I take along boxes of rice milk or my favorite, hazelnut milk. This makes such an easy breakfast (or supper) when you don't have much time. Scoop out some granola into cereal bowls you keep in the trunk. Get a plastic box that kids keep school supplies in, and load it up with some miss-matched silverware, serving spoons, paring knives, peeler, garlic press, etc. Then keep it in your camping supplies all the time. Take along a small dish pan. In the dish pan you will keep a ziplock containing a sponge, a tiny bottle of dish soap, and a metal scrubber. (I also keep in the dishpan, any crushable fruit or tomatoes, and bottles that might leak, such as olive oil.) When you get dirty dishes, just slip them in the dish pan until you are at a spot you can wash dishes. In a larger plastic box I keep a thin plastic cutting board, a large chef's knife, long handled stirring spoon, tongs for grabbing spaghetti or salad, a hot pad, real plates, paper plates, the bowls, a fire lighter, a few more bags of various sizes, and anything else I think I'll need kitchen wise for the trip.

About paper versus real plates. We rarely use paper plates in our normal life, because we find them to be a waste of resources, and have learned that it really doesn't take long to wash real plates. That is, if you have water. We carry a two gallon water jug with us, and 8 - 1 litter bottles inside the car with us. That is a good amount of water for 1 - 2 days, if you aren't doing much cooking or dish washing. But if you are camping in the desert along the way, without a water spigot available, you can run out really fast. I've learned to cut corners with water when I have to. Such as cutting the salad directly onto each person's plate, rather then into a serving bowl, and mixing the sauce and a can of green beans directly into the boiled and drained spaghetti noodles, and thus using only one cooking pot. There are usually some dishes to wash at every meal. But when we don't have much water available, I use paper plates, to cut back on what we need to wash. If I am careful, we may only have to wash silverware, and one cooking pot, in addition to the silverware we put in the dishpan earlier in the day as we traveled. I have tried using plastic silverware, but decided that the little water need to clean real silverware was worth more then breaking plastic forks. I find paper bowls are pretty expensive, and sometimes they are too small. I take larger sized, real, plastic cereal bowls with high sides to use for granola, or other meals that work well in bowls.

I take a pressure cooker for my large cooking pot. I can cook up rice and lentils, or potato soup pretty fast in it. I take a large sauce pan for a secondary pot. And a take a non-stick fry pan for making stir fry, or pancakes. I take a 2 burner propane camp stove that serves all our cooking needs. I have used it on the ground on the side of the road, out the door of our hotel room, on picnic tables, on flat rocks and in a snowstorms. If I have my camp stove, we can eat well, no matter where we are.

A Pot of Potato Soup in a Snowstorm on this Trip
Soup in the big pressure cooker, and water heating in the smaller one to be ready for washing dishes.

About pancakes. We used the recipe on my blog for Corn Cakes, which are pancakes made with cornmeal. We put the dry ingredients in a bag, put the white powders that you add later, wrapped up in a piece of plastic wrap, inside the first bag. On the outside the bag, with a permanent marker, write a few simple reminder directions. They make great pancakes for camping. We ate pancakes 3 times in 10 days.

If I have time the day before the trip we make up some extra batches of gluten free waffles to take along for the first couple days of the trip. You can put nut butter on them, or spread on some hummus and sprouts or lettuce and you have a great sandwich. Or you can just eat them plain while you are driving down the road. The waffles soften really quickly, so after they are all cooked, it is nice to put them in the oven for a while on maybe 250 degrees and toast them a bit more. Let them cool before you put them in bags to take with you.

For general eating in the car, we have no candy or junk food. We have dried fruit, raw nuts, fresh fruit, and sometimes corn chips.

At our store we can buy a product called "Corn Thins". They are puffed corn, shaped like rice cakes, but thinner and crisper. In the car I can take one of those, spoon on a heaping teaspoon of refried beans, right out of a can, smooth it around, and top it with a couple ripe green olives, also right of a can of olives. I pass these little treats around the car and they are eaten with gusto, until we are out of beans. The remaining olives are divided evenly between the number of people in the car, right down to the quarter olive. If you can't find Corn Thins, you can use rice cakes instead.

At least once in every trip I make Tailgate bean salad. Pull a variety of canned beans out of the trunk, including some green beans and wax beans, garbonzos, kidney beans, and more. Adjust the number of cans to the number of people eating, and the number of kids in a growth spurt. Open cans, drain them, and put the beans in a large plastic bowl, or your medium sized cooking pot. Add some grape tomatoes, cut in half, dice up a cucumber if you have one (peel it and you don't have wash it). Squeeze in 1 - 2 limes, according to how sour you like it, and how big your salad is. Season with salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Add a little olive oil if necessary. Divide it evenly among the salad bowls or paper plates. It feeds hungry people quickly with out much mess, water, or even a picnic table.

In every trip I usually make at least one pot of soup with diced potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, canned tomatos, beans, and whatever else I have. Pressure it for 10 minutes, and it is cooked. An easy, warm nutritious meal.

One of my secret gourmet meals for camping, that brings neighboring campers in sniffing, is homemade Butternut Squash Curry. I make this only when we are in camp, with water and time, but it is always a loved meal. I thrown in the trunk a butternut squash, and some potatoes, a jar of my favorite curry paste, and other seasonings, and some coconut milk. I pre-measure some brown rice into a bag and bring it along, so it is ready to go. The first thing I do is start the rice cooking in the large sauce pan I bring along, as it takes around 45 minutes once the water is boiling. When you have it boiling, make sure the lid is on, and turn down the flame to barely on, and note the time on your watch. Then get peeling and cutting of the onion and the squash and potatoes. (Straight potato curry also tastes good too. Use the veggies you have, even if they are completely different then what I listed.) When that is all ready. Get your pressure cooker out, and put some coconut milk in the bottom, maybe 1/4 or 1/3 of the thick stuff in the can. Start it heating, then spoon in an adequate amount of curry paste, and other seasonings. I often add some garam masala, whole cumin, and mustard seeds, and a little more cayenne to spice things up, and make the curry a cross between Thai and Indian curry. Make yours to fit your personal taste. Once the coconut milk and curry paste are bubbling good and smelling even better, add in the chopped veggies and stir them around. Add the rest of the can of the coconut milk, and more water and or coconut milk if needed, according to the amount of veggies you have. I usually make plenty so there is leftovers in the morning for breakfast before we leave. Even though I have this in the pressure cooker, I don't pressure it. I put the lid on it, but don't close the lid on in the way that you would if you wanted to build up the pressure. Cook until the veggies are almost soft. Add cubed tofu, if you have some. When everything is all soft and ready to eat. Add chopped cilantro, if you have some, or some frozen/thawed green peas from the ice chest, or frozen/thawed broccoli. About this time the rice should be finished. Get ready to sit back and have the best meal in the campground!

About the frozen/thawed peas or broccoli. We stop at a store every couple of days on a road trip. I then pick up new ice for the ice chest, fresh produce, and sometimes a bag of something out of the frozen section. It will thaw, but stay good in the ice chest for a couple of days at least. If you are planning ahead, it is an easy way to get more veggies into you meals, without having to spend time washing and chopping produce. At home I buy fresh most of the time, but it is one of my time and water saving tricks of a happy, gluten free, dairy free family on the road.

I didn't do it this trip, but have done it on many other trips. Brown rice and lentils make a nice meal, alone or topped with salad. Use your pressure cooker to cut the time way back. Brown the brown rice in the bottom of the dry pressure cooker for a few minutes. Add the lentils, and adaquate water. (You probably want twice as many lentils as rice. And 2 - 3 times as much water.) Cover with the lid and seal it down and wait for the pressure to come up. Put on the little pressure regulator gadget. Then set the time for 7 - 9 minutes. The last I did it I think closer to 7 minutes worked good, but I also used the tiny brown Pardina lentils. If you have the full sized green-brown colored lentils, you might need closer to 9 minutes. I used short brown rice.

An obvious easy meal is gluten free spaghetti and sauce. Bring your favorite gluten free noodles, and dairy free sauce. Cook the noodles, carefully hold the lid on and tip the pan slowly to drain them. It is a little risky, but I've practiced at home over a clean sink and have mastered the trick, most of the time. Put the sauce in your drained noodles, and then if you have some of those frozen veggies, or a can of green beans, mix them in, and them heat them back up. Add salad if you have some and you have a great meal. It is quick, unless you are at high elevation, in which case you will stand there a long time waiting for everything to come to a boil. But after that you can cook it for the amount of time listed on the package, or until it is soft.

I think that is among the best of my tricks for road trips as a Gluten-free person eating a plant based diet. Hope some of them work for you. If you have some more tips, be sure to include them in the comments, or post them on your blog, and come back here and put the URL in a comment for us to go look at.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rice Cooker Dahl

The recipe below is for some great dahl, but have you ever made it in the rice cooker. I'm all for easy food, done healthy. Put it all in a big rice cooker and press on. It will be all ready and waiting for you at dinner time.

Rice Cooker Dahl

3 cups of basmati brown rice
2 cups red lentils
2 teaspoons garam masala seasoning
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
chopped onion
minced garlic
2 tsp salt
cilantro, chopped, if you have some
ginger, minced, if you'd like

Lots of water, like you were making soup (Sorry I don't have a measure, just put in 2 - 3 inches of water above the top of the ingredients)

Pour it all into the big rice cooker pot. If your cooker is small, divide the recipe. Mix it up. Put down the lid and press on. Come back in a hour or a little more and find lunch. Add a big salad on the side. Yum!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Red Lentil Dahl

Some of our most favorite gluten-free/vegan/plant-based foods are Indian or Thai style. I make a simple dahl using red lentils that is easy and gathers requests for more.

Red Lentil Dahl

1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 chopped onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 inch ginger clove minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 - 4 Roma tomatoes or equivilant
3 cups dried red lentils

In a large soup kettle, place the first 5 ingredients with a little vegetable oil, maybe a teaspoon or so, and cook on medium heat until the seeds begin to pop. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro and cook until the onions begin to soften. If it is sticking, add some water. Add tomatoes and cook a little, then add the red lentils and a good amount of water. Simmer until the lentils are soft and ready to eat, around 20 - 25 minutes. Add just enough salt for you taste.

Serve with brown rice and generous serving of salad.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blueberry Smile Smoothie

It is time to post some of our favorite smoothie recipes. We eat them several times a week for breakfast.

We pick many pounds of blueberries every year, so blueberries are a common smoothie ingredient. This recipe will fill a Vita-mix Blender Jar. If you have a smaller jar or a smaller family to make smoothies for, adjust the amounts accordingly.

Blueberry Smile Smoothie

Serves 4 people a large 2 cup serving of breakfast

2 oranges, peeled
A handful of pitted dates
1 quart of frozen or fresh blueberries.
Several leaves of romaine lettuce or spinach
2 cups of water.

The amounts of each ingredient is not scientific. Use what you have. Add more dates if you need it more sweet, and less if you don't. Put in more greens when you are ready. It is good without greens, but not as good for you. Some people even like to up the minerals with a little kelp powder, maybe a teaspoon full, and you might not even taste it there, unless you are sensitive to the taste of kelp (like me). If you need it to be more fatty, or creamy, throw in some raw nuts, such as cashews or almonds or pecans. Put in just enough to make you smile. Drink enough to fill you up. It's pure nutrition.

Layer it in the blender, in the order I listed it above, and then blend until very smooth. If you don't have a strong blender, you might have to stop it frequently and push the ingredients down. Another thing you could do is wait until the berries are thawed, and then it will work easier. A Vitamix or something similar will work best, but if you don't have one, don't let that stop you from eating smoothies. Figure out what yours can do, and then put on a Blueberry Smile.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Easy Canned Fruit Layer Salad

When I didn't know what to fix for supper, my 10 year old son, told me he would make me a surprise, as long as I didn't come into the dining
room while he was working. This is what he made.

It's easy.

You need:
A pedestal bowl, or other bowl with clear straight sides.
Jars of home canned fruit in different colors
Some frozen fruit in other colors
Optional: Grind up a variety of nuts and or seeds to sprinkle on as a topping

Open those jars, pour out most of the liquid, and then layer in the bowl. Top with some frozen fruit of different colors, or some fresh fruit.

Serve. Sprinkle on some ground nuts.