Gluten-free Vegan Almond Kale Recipe and Calafia Palo Alto Review

February 5th, 2012 yum Posted in Bay Area, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Kale, Nuts, Soy Free, Vegan 11 Comments »


This winter has been a hard one for our family at the house of yum. It seems like every week, Toddler Yum comes down with a new illness. The most recent one resulted in my mom and then me coming down with a miserable case of pneumonia. I would certainly like to give my lungs a piece of my mind. What do they think they are doing, throwing in the towel and inviting buggies in to build a home like that? It did make me think a bit about what I should be doing, rather than what I have been doing, to maintain my health. For example… I have to admit, although I’ve never been that much of a sweets girl, ever since I got pregnant with Toddler Yum, I have developed something of a chocolate habit. I like the dark stuff, mind you, none of that nasty sickeningly sweet candy bar or drugstore chocolate box chocolates for me! But still, even though dark chocolate supposedly has some beneficial properties, it contains sugar that I know very well doesn’t do anything good for me. In fact, when I eat sugar, the crash makes me cranky and feel a little bit like someone is scratching my brain, ever so annoyingly. Do any of you ever get that feeling? Maybe it is just me.

But anyway, getting sick and not having the energy to cook good (or bad) food for myself did make me think about my diet and the things that I know are good for me and make me feel good. I stopped the chocolate habit cold turkey, and turned towards the good stuff. Kale is one of those things that makes me feel good. I like to buy it from Whole Foods because they have organic kale in all kinds of varieties, or even better, from the Farmer’s Market when it is in season. The other day, though, the DH took me to my follow up-checkup on my lungs (because he is a sweetie) and I was feeling so much better that we decided to get lunch out together.


Calafia Cafe

Town & Country Village Suite 130
855 El Camino Real (at Embarcadero Road)
Palo Alto California
(650) 322-9200

I had read about Calafia Palo Alto being a good restaurant with a gluten-free menu, and I’d passed it numerous times in the Palo Alto Town and Country square, but I’d never actually eaten there. Half of the restaurant is a deli, and I’m easily intimidated by delis. However, the other half of the restaurant is a nice, sit-down restaurant with menus, and we decided to get a table. I was happy to see the gluten-free labeml on many of their dishes, but weirdly enough, I was even happier to see that they split the menu in half between vegetarian and omnivore options. They even labeled their vegan dishes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually that hungry because I had eaten a very full and nutritious breakfast (leftover Dal made my the DH the night before, my hero!). But I decided to order their Braised Greens with Almond Butter, which they describe on their menu as: “rainbow swiss chard, sautéed with shallots, glazed with cider vinegar and finished with a vegan turmeric scented almond butter,
dried cranberries and walnuts.” The small dish that arrived wasn’t very dramatic, but when I took a bite I could literally feel my blood being supercharged with nutrition. The funny thing is, I wasn’t completely in love with the balance of flavor. I could taste cayenne more than turmeric in the almond butter, and was a trifle spicy for me after years of cooking for a DH with a sensitive tummy and now a toddler who despises spiciness. At the same time, I felt so good as I ate it and I was ultimately very happy with it. It was also novel because it was both like something I might cook for myself but at the same time not with the exact balance of flavor I would choose. How often can you go out to eat and feel like you’re getting a more nutritious meal than you would have at home? That is why I fell in love with this restaurant and would go back in a heartbeat. They had an intriguing assortment of specialty smoothie beverages, and tons of entrees and other dishes marked gluten-free and vegetarian. The DH was also happy, although he ordered a gluten menu item of what he called a “salad pizza”- a pizza with goat and blue cheese with a gorgeous pile of arugula on top. (They don’t offer gluten-free pizza, but plenty of other places do so I didn’t mind.)

I did some reading and found out that Calafia was started by a chef named Charlie Ayers that was the head chef at Google for six years after being a caterer for the Grateful Dead. Not only that, but he has his own book called Food 2.0: Secrets from the Chef Who Fed Google. According to the booklist description, “Raw, organic, and fermented is Charlie s mantra, which is reflected in more than 90 easy-to-prepare recipes, whether it s a Kick-start Breakfast, a Power Lunch, or a Light, Bright Dinner. And, following the world-famous formula Charlie used at Google headquarters, the meals and snacks are designed to feed your brain exactly what it needs at different points throughout the workday.” It has been a while since I went to a restaurant that I found as exciting as this one, and after reading more about the chef I can understand why. It isn’t a raw-foods cookbook, and not even a vegetarian cookbook, but I was intrigued enough by the description that I ordered a used copy for myself. I’ll let you know how I like it!

Anyway, their braised green recipe with almond sauce was a delightful restaurant offering and also got me thinking about how I might try my own (very different) version when I brought home some tasty organic kale from the farmer’s market this weekend. Here’s my take on it, which met with approval from my omnivorous dad and allergy-sensitive mother. Toddler Yum found it to be too much green for her, but since she scarfs down raw broccoli, cauliflower, and roasted chickpeas, I think I’ll overlook this temporary disdain for kale. It took me some years to develop a love affair with kale, after all, and now it is my favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu item! I hope you enjoy this recipe for a vegan almond sauce kale recipe as much as we did.

Looking for more kale-almond recipes?
Addictive Vegan Kale Salad
Kale Almond Pesto
Almond Crunch Kale Chips
Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Almonds
Just Plain Scrumptious Kale Recipes:
Cashew Creamed Kale Recipe
Kale and toor Dal
Kale in Puttanesca Sauce
Gluten-free Cornmeal Dumplings with Red Beans and Kale
Gluten-free Stuffing with Kale, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Cheese
Feta Breakfast Kale

Hey, I’m in the running for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Vegan and Vegetarian Mom Blogger Award!

You can vote once per blog every 24 hours until February 14th at 8pm EST. I’d love to make it to the final count!

Almond Butter Kale Recipe
Ingredients
2 tsp. grapeseed or olive oil
1 small to medium bunch of kale, rinsed and dried with spine cut out, chopped
3 tbsp. diced onion

sauce:
1/4 cup roasted almond butter
2 tbsp. hot water or more for desired texture
1 tsp. agave nectar, maple syrup, honey (look for neutral flavored honey), or simple syrup
1 tsp. lime or lemon juice
herbamare or your favorite salt blend
dash cayenne pepper or paprika

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet on medium high and add your chopped kale leaves. I like to pan fry them until they get browned and dry in patches, but you can cook them to your preference. When almost done, add your diced onion to the pan and saute until translucent.

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Add more hot water if needed to have a sauce you can pour.

When kale and onions are done, put into an attractive bowl and drizzle generously with sauce. Fold sauce into the kale until evenly distributed and serve.

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Gluten-free Dairy-free Wholegrain Indian Naan Flatbread Recipe

January 7th, 2012 yum Posted in Bread, Brown Rice, Dairy Free, Eggs, Indian, Indian Flatbread, JM friendly, coconut 15 Comments »

This past month has been intense. *Warning- I’m afraid the following is a bit of a “Mommy blog” entry, so feel free to skip to the end for this really super-yummy recipe.* I have to admit that for a few weeks, Mommy stress dominated my life. In order to get some much-needed time to work on my dissertation, we started Toddler Yum at a daycare. Almost instantly, she came down with a tummy bug that dragged on for about a month, through missed days at daycare, Christmas at the grandparents in Colorado, and even into the New Year. Toddler Yum also discovered that she absolutely hated her daycare, especially during the two and a half hour nap time at mid-day when she was not remotely tired. Separation anxiety loomed large and resulted in her following me around like a puppy dog, clinging to my hand or neck or any other body part she could reach, and her biggest dread was being “by myself” as she put it. “I be by myself? Mommy go bye-bye?” she anxiously asked whenever it seemed likely. She cried when I left her at daycare, she cried when I left her with her loving grandparents (who were a little heartbroken), she cried when she woke up, when I walked out of the room… It just wasn’t working. She asked about nap-time at the daycare over and over, saying that she wanted mommy to be there and that she hated nap-time because it was boring, and dark, and she had to be quiet. I could hardly blame her. I remember nap-time in kindergarten myself as a incredibly tedious and ill-timed affair. So, the first step was to stop taking her during nap-time. This helped, but it still didn’t feel right. The kids ate cookies every afternoon… one afternoon their “special snack” was oreos and cheetos on a plate together. The institutional hot meals all the kids got for lunch smelled like fake margarine and a bad cafeteria, and the kids seemed like little lost puppies. So, I promised Toddler Yum to start looking for a new place that would be better for her, and once the schools resumed after the New Year holiday, that is exactly what we did. We visited between one to two schools a day until we found a place where she could attend in the afternoon after nap and had plenty of fun toys, the teachers did circle time and gave fun lessons, there were “baby potties” in easy access to the classroom, and even “baby cars” to ride around in the outside playground. Toddler Yum will start on Monday. And in the meantime, we’ve been reading Toddler Yum’s favorite new book, “Llama Llama Misses Mama” all about Llama Llama’s trials and tribulations on his first day at a new school missing mama. We’ve been stressing the part where “Llama Mama comes back” and I think that is helping as well. For her last day at her old school, I tried something I’d read about in the The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution book by Elizabeth Pantley- I drew “my” face on Toddler Yum’s hand and told her that if she got lonely or missed her Mommy, all she had to do was look at her “mini mama” on her hand and remember that her mama loves her and will come back to get her. It really seemed to help.

So- with a bit of our life squared away, hopefully I’ll be able to get some serious work done on my dissertation and even find time to develop new recipes here. You may have seen my old recipe for A gluten-free wholegrain Indian Naan. It called for yogurt, greek yogurt specifically (European yogurt is too runny). But this wouldn’t work for anyone on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and my little dairy-free Toddler Yum couldn’t have it either. I thought it would be interesting to play with the flour blend more, and to try using coconut cream instead of yogurt. To supplement the coconut milk, I used the new Pacific original hazelnut milk which they sent me to review. (Toddler Yum is a big fan of the stuff, and I don’t mind it even though I don’t generally care for hazelnuts.) To my delight, it worked perfectly and might even be better than the original! It went beautifully with some of my favorite toor dal (I use peanut oil, coconut oil, or mustard oil instead of ghee to make the Ghee Tarka variation). These naan can also be sliced in half and filled with whatever filling you like. This makes a small but filling recipe that is hardly more difficult than pancakes and a lot more interesting! *Note: because I have an annoying gas oven, it is hard to estimate how long it would take on an electric oven. Start with the given time and then, if it isn’t done enough, extend (non broiler) baking time in five minute increments.

Gluten-free Dairy Free Wholegrain Coconut Naan
Ingredients
1/2 Cup Brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
3 tbsp. amaranth flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dried active yeast
1 can full-fat coconut milk WITHOUT thickeners like Chaokoh (chilled but NOT shaken)
1/2 cup hazelnut or other non-dairy milk
1 egg, whisked

Directions
Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 500F.

Combine dry ingredient in a medium-large bowl from brown rice flour through baking powder, and whisk to combine.

Collect the coconut CREAM that has risen to the top of the chilled coconut milk can first in a liquid measuring cup. I use a large spoon but you may also have good luck with a small spatula. For the last bit I poured the milk through a fine strainer and collected the cream remained on top of the strainer. I had about 3/4 cup coconut cream in my can. Combine thin coconut milk with hazelnut milk or other non dairy milk to have a cup of liquid. Warm the thin liquid in a microwave until barely warm. If you heat it so that it is hot rather than warm, just let it sit until lukewarm. Whisk sugar into your warm dairy-free milk and then add your yeast. When it foams, pour into your bowl with the dry ingredients. Then add your coconut cream and whisked egg and fold together. You should have a fairly thick batter that is not runny but not firm enough to pick up with your hands.

Spoon out large rounds of dough onto your parchment paper about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch high. (Or smaller, to your preference. Larger may be difficult to manage.) Smooth out top with a large spoon. If you like you can dampen your hands with water and make the tops really silky and smooth.

Bake in the oven on 500F until golden brown. In my rather freakish gas oven, it took about 15 minutes but yours may take less time so watch carefully. Then I finished them off under the broiler for a little extra browning. Watch them like a hawk during this step! Golden brown is one thing and char-grilled is quite another.

Notes
These were amazingly soft and fluffy. The coconut flavor was nice and subtle without overpowering the recipe, and I was surprised by how nice the touch of amaranth was for making them taste whole-grain. Yummy with toor dal!!!
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