Gluten-free Dairy-free Egg-free Focaccia inspired by Amy’s Kitchen

March 6th, 2012 yum Posted in Amy's Kitchen, Bread, Breastfeeding for Allergic Baby Recipe, Brown Rice, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Sugar free, Sunflower seed, Vegan 16 Comments »


I have a little addiction. It is to the Amy’s Kitchen kid’s meal with the ziti pasta with the fake cheese and a little bit of broccoli and focaccia and the apple cobbler serving. I know, I know, I’m not a kid, but it is relatively low in calories and I just can’t get enough of it. They also just came out with a new kid’s meal with gluten-free rice mac and cheese, broccoli, and that same apple cobbler. However, those frozen kids meals are an expensive little vice for a graduate student mommy with a mortgage. I was thinking about it, and although I do love the pasta, the real draw for me is that little bread square tucked in between the pasta and the apple pie. I just love the faintly nutty, brown rice flavor of the stuff and the fluffiness of it when I rescue it from the microwave and let the rest of the meal cook.

I am thrilled by Toddler Yum’s new school, and it seems to be really good for her. She has friends, learns fun things and gets to try all sorts of new activities. She comes home literally singing, and little tidbits that she has learned leak out in between her toddler chatter. Last month she learned the days of the week in a cheery little song. Last night at the dinner table, she started belting out the months. She told me buenas noches with no prompting, out of the blue. It seems like a great environment and fit for my active little social bunny.

Unfortunately that great environment comes with a silicon valley price tag. We have her at half days, but it still gives our budget pause. Add on to that property taxes, graduate school fees, and utility bills and it ends up hurting a little bit. So, I have sworn off pricey convenience meals for a bit, and that includes those tasty Amy’s Kitchen meals. I decided that a tight budget was no reason to go without my focaccia! I peered at the back of the Amy’s kitchen box for ingredients, consulted with some favorite vegan cookbooks like Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and started baking up a storm. I made two versions of this recipe, and this one was my favorite. It was not quite as fluffy as the Amy’s version, but it still was strangely addictive. It also passed the DH test, who said that it was yummy and gobbled it down without any resistance. I loved it plain, with earth balance margarine, and used in sandwiches with a baba ghanoush, avocado and lettuce filling. By the way, the avocado came from the tree in our backyard. I just love free avocados! And the lettuce came straight out of our winter garden. California living has its perks!

I may be fooling around with this recipe some more, but I love the flavor. Honestly, I’m a rice girl at heart. I just love the nuttiness of brown rice flour tempered by a little white rice. And the sunflower meal is a very good alternative to the ever-popular almond flour. It gives great flavor, a little punch of protein, and does some good things to the texture too. I think I’ll be using it in more of my recipes in the future. Hope you enjoy!

Dairy-free Egg-free Focaccia Bread
Ingredients
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch flour
1/4 cup corn flour (can substitute millet flour, sorghum, or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup ground roasted unsalted sunflower seed meal (i made it in my spice grinder)
1/4 cup potato starch flour (can sub arrowroot or cornstarch)
1/4 cup cornstarch (can sub arrowroot or potato starch)
1 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp agave/maple syrup/honey
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp. yeast

for topping:
your favorite dairy-free milk or olive oil
Bouquet garni or onion flakes/ caramelized onions
coarse salt

Directions
Line a square cake pan with parchment paper and baste sides with palm oil shortening or other preferred oil. Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix together dry ingredients in your kitchenaid mixer. Note on the sunflower seed meal- I cleaned my spice grinder by running a batch of white rice through it before I made the sunflower seed meal. You could also try using the small section of your food processor for grinding the meal.

Put your tablespoon of liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup etc) in a small bowl. Add your warm water and your yeast. Combine gently and wait for it to foam. Add to your dry ingredients along with olive oil. Mix with the paddle for a few minutes, and then pour into your prepared pan. Baste top with a little olive oil or your favorite non-dairy plain milk. Sprinkle with bouquet garni herbs or onion topping.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve and enjoy!

Notes
Great for sandwiches when cut in half. Microwave individual servings for 10-15 seconds to refresh the next day.
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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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