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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An almost healthy Gluten-free Dairy-free Soy-free Butterfinger

October 29th, 2011 yum Posted in Chocolate, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Holiday, JM friendly, Nuts, Peanut, Raw Food 11 Comments »

Halloween. I’ve always loved the holiday. As a kid I have happy memories of making my own costumes with my mother, and so it has been important to me to continue this tradition with baby Yum. I made her a ladybug costume last year, and this year I’m making her a girl robot costume. This two year old girl loves twirly skirts, robots, and space shuttles too, and I love that she loves these things. Who says you can’t have tonka trucks and tulle skirts too? Nobody in our house! But the other big thing about halloween is the candy, right? I was never allowed to have candy as a child, partly due to gluten and partly because of the sugar. I would go trick-or-treating, but would give back the candy or give it to my mother, and it wasn’t a big deal. Now that I have my own child and she is becoming more aware of the various traditions associated with holidays, I’ve realized I’m going to have to find my own way with the candy issue. Toddler Yum sometimes has small amounts of sugar- usually combined with healthy things, so it isn’t barred from our house, but have you read the labels on those candy labels? I’ve always been a fan of peanut chocolates like Reese’s or Butterfinger. Since I had a box of Erewhon Unsweetened Corn Flakes Cereal on my kitchen island waiting to be used that I received courtesy of Erewhon representative Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free, and I had made an allergen-friendly Reese’s cup in a previous post, I was most interested in the Butterfinger.

Here are the ingredients for your average Butterfinger:
SUGAR, GLUCOSE, PEANUTS, HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL, COCOA POWDER, MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS, MOLASSES, CORN FLAKES, SALT, SOYA LECITHIN, CORN STARCH, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR, TBHQ, CITRIC ACID, COLOUR.

Actually, I’ve read worse, but it just doesn’t sound very good or good for you. And how about that TBHQ? Yum!
So I decided it was time to re-think the Butterfinger. At its most basic, this bar is all about the sweet, sweet peanut filling, crispy corn flakes and chocolate shell. One peanut treat that we love and often eat in our house is the peanut butter lara bar, which is simply peanuts, dates, and a little salt. So I thought, why not make a homemade Lara Bar, give it a corn flake center for crunch, and dip or drizzle it in chocolate?

So that is exactly what I did.

How to make Gluten-free Dairy-free and Soy-free Homemade Butterfingers:

You’ve seen the toddler-friendly version at the top of the post, pictured with Toddler Yum’s Jack O’Lantern. Here is the sexy adult version, which I took to a pumpkin carving party.

It might be me, but I think it looks (and tastes) better than the packaged version! The Erewhon Corn Flakeswere perfect for this because the only ingredients were corn and a little salt. They were a tad plain all by themselves, but in a recipe like this where they are surrounded by healthy sweet ingredients, they are perfect! I’d buy them again, just for this recipe or to use in a savory breading recipe. This recipe was awesome, though, and I love how easy it is to adapt to various food sensitivities. If you need dairy-free but Soy Lecithin is ok and trace amounts of milk are ok, try the Trader Joe chocolate chips, which I used this time. If you need completely dairy-free and soy-free, use the Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips for your coating. If you prefer a really dark (70% cacao) type chocolate, use that. Want it strictly vegan with vegan sugar? Use a vegan chocolate bar. I think it will be delicious every way! Do store it in the refrigerator before eating, though, as the chocolates without soy lecithin are delicate and the bar will stay solid and easy to eat that way.

Here’s some fun pics from the Halloween party…

It was Toddler yum’s first experience carving a pumpkin, or rather, scooping out the pumpkin. Daddy helped, and gave the pumpkin little vampire teeth. Toddler Yum loved it, and even said “Vampire! vampire!” Oh dear, the things they pick up. And yes, there were other people at this party, including a wonderful gluten-free hostess that you might know from her blog that made wonderful sweet potato corn chowder and homemade mounds bars (yum!) I’m so lucky to know many of the gluten-free chefs around, and to be able to welcome this new gluten-free friend to our neighborhood.

Happy Halloween! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family, with plenty of treats that work for everybody’s tummy.

Looking for more gluten-free homemade treats?
Sunflower-seed Un-peanut Butter Cups
Elana’s Pantry Healthy Halloween Candy Recipes
Homemade Gluten-free Twix Bar Recipe
Nutty Vegan Butter Easter Candy
Ali’s homemade maple-sunbutter candor (like tootsie rolls)
Ali’s Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clusters
Nourishing Gourmet’s Healthier Candy Recipes
Kelly’s Raw Chocolate Raspberry Candy- refined sugar and other allergens free
Elana’s Peppermint Patties sweetened with Agave

Share your favorite gluten-free candy recipes in the links and I’ll add them to the list!

PS I was so excited about this candy recipe I decided to postpone the conclusion to pumpkin week until at least Monday… Sorry guys, but I wanted to make sure people had this recipe in time for the holidays!

Shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday

Healthy Dairy-free Soy-free Butterfinger Recipe
Ingredients
Layer 1:
1 scant cup pitted Medjool dates (or regular)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp. smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Layer 2:
1 scant cup pitted Medjool dates (or regular)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (can substitute almonds)
2 tbsp. smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

enough Erewhon plain corn flakes to cover surface area of a quart bag

Additional smooth natural peanut butter (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 lb of soy-free semi-sweet or dark chocolate for melting
1-2 tsp. coconut oil as needed

Directions
Get out two freezer-safe quart bags and reserve.
Layer One:
Put your scant cup of PITTED dates in your food processor and process until you have a smooth paste. Add your peanuts and process until mixture comes together when you press it but there are still chunks of peanut left. Add peanut butter, salt and optional nutmeg and pulse them in until mixed throughout. Remove from food processor with a spatula and put in one quart bag, pressing the air out and sealing it. Then flatten the mixture in your bag until you have a flat sheet of peanut dough. Place in refrigerator on an even, flat surface and chill.
Layer Two:
Repeat with the second batch of PITTED dates and peanuts. You will fill your second quart sized freezer bag. Chill along with the other layer for 30 minutes or so.

Just before you are ready to take the peanut dough out of the refrigerator, put your semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat on half power in 30 second intervals, checking after each interval and stirring as needed. When chocolate is almost completely melted, stir until chocolate is smooth and reserve. I found I needed to add coconut oil to have a thin enough chocolate for dipping. Just add your oil and stir in gently.

To prepare peanut bar for dipping, cut sides of freezer bags and peel off the top of the bag on layer one. sprinkle layer one with plain corn flakes. Peel the top of the bag from layer two and careful invert it on top of the corn flakes so you have a peanut bar “sandwich” with corn flakes as the filling. Gently press the layers together, remove the final layer of plastic on top and then cut the peanut bar “sandwich” in 7 logs horizontally and then cut half down the center vertically. If you are preparing this for a toddler, you can make two more vertical cuts for mini butterfinger bites.

Prepare a large cookie baking sheet with a layer of wax paper and place a cooling rack on top. Place each bar on the cooling rack with space around each bar so that you can drizzle chocolate down the sides.

Prepare each bar by putting a generous dab of peanut butter between the layers to stick them together OR a dab of melted chocolate and pressing then firmly together on the top. Don’t worry if they don’t seem very firmly attached. Once they cool they will firm up and stick together.

For adults who like a fair amount of chocolate, you can drizzle chocolate over the top and sides of the bar, using a knife to evenly distribute it. For toddlers, kids, or healthy-minded adults you can drizzle strands of chocolate on the top for a little taste of chocolate.

Place the tray in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes to an hour, or until chocolate has set. Remove bars from tray with a metal spatula and put in a tupperware. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Notes
Got rave reviews from adults who couldn’t believe how such natural ingredients could taste like the real thing and have the real mouth feel. :D I raved, too.
Additional Pictures
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