Buckwheat Mushroom Risotto with Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts

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I’ve gotten a lot of requests for some recipes that are both comforting and healthy at the same time. Without added cream, butter or gluten for that matter, it can feel like a daunting task to make a dish comforting. But, as we now know, my goal is for no one to have to miss out on anything because of food allergies or dietary choices. So keep checking in for lots of delicious, warm your soul kind of meals/desserts to keep you toasty right through winter.

Risotto in particular is a meal you associate with butter and/or cream. It is so delicious but can be entirely too rich and heavy for me. The risotto I have created is equally as satisfying without the heaviness and stomachache you would get from the restaurant variety. That being said, this makes a great side for any protein source be it meat, beans or tofu. How about turkey? The combination of earthy mushrooms and sweet butternut squash with crunchy hazelnuts just screams holiday! Don’t you think? This can be a perfect stuffing substitute for your gluten/dairy – free guests!

Besides for its delicious flavour, this meal packs a big nutritional punch. I used a combination of porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms which deliver cancer fighting properties and can lower cholesterol. Many people don’t know that Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain but comes from a plant (despite its grainy appearance). It ranks low on the glycemic scale which keeps your blood sugars levelled – which helps prevent weight gain and obesity. Most importantly, this recipe is DELICIOUS and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Happy holidays and bon appetit! 
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
• 1 butternut squash (cubed)
• 2 french shallots (finely chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
• 2 cups mushrooms chopped (I used a mix of oyster and portobello… choose your favourite!)
• 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup buckwheat groats
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
• 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. On a large baking sheet, coat chopped butternut squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 min.
2. In a bowl, place dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water and allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes.Place vegetable broth in a pot over medium heat and have a ladle on hand.
3. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add your shallots and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have reduced down. Add 1/2 tsp salt.
4. Add 1 cup of buckwheat into skillet along with oregano and thyme. Sautée for 2 minutes and then add 1 ladle broth. Stir until buckwheat absorbs all the liquid, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all the broth is absorbed, then add 1/2 of the porcini liquid and stir until absorbed. Add remaining porcini liquid. Chop the reconstituted porcine mushrooms and add to buckwheat mixture. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
5. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan for about 5 minutes or until oils are released.
6. Mix cooked butternut squash into the buckwheat. Top with fresh parsley and toasted hazelnuts.

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Gluten Free Holiday Biscotti

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Holidays always remind me of ‘Mandel Bread’ (or is it mandelbrodt?) the Jewish version of Italian Biscotti. Biscotti actually means twice baked, which gives it that amazing crunchy texture. My grandmother makes THE best mandel bread, always packed with lots of chocolate chips, nuts and of course SUGAR!!! I wanted to make a cookie that will not only look amazing on your Thanksgiving or Christmas table, but will also be a nutritious snack to have with your afternoon tea, or morning coffee.

I know how hard it can be to make food that meets the dietary needs of all your guests, especially when it comes to desserts. If you only have one guest who stays away from gluten and another that can’t eat dairy it can be a nuisance and an expense to provide cakes or pies just for them! You also won’t come off as the best hostess if you don’t provide them with anything at all! So what to do? Making gluten/dairy free desserts on your own will save you lots of money and maybe get you to even make some dietary changes of your own. These cookies are a treat both allergy sufferers and non allergy sufferers can equally enjoy!

Whats great about these biscotti, is that they aren’t SUPER sweet. At first, I thought I would change the recipe to provide more sweetness, but with the dried cranberry and dark chocolate you don’t really need much more. They are packed with slow burning carbohydrates from the oat flour and lots of vitamin e, protein and healthy fats from the almond flour. I also used coconut sugar which is mild in flavour and has a low glycemic index to keep those blood sugar levels stable. You even get some antioxidants from that dark chocolate ;) Happy Holidays everyone!

Ps. I have been nominated for a Notable Award which recognizes young professionals in Canada. Clean Eating Goddess has been nominated for best blog! If you have enjoyed reading my blog or following me on instagram, facebook or twitter please take a second to vote for me :) I am truly humbled and honoured. Thank you for your continued support, YOU are my inspiration. You can vote by clicking here! You can vote once a day! Now for the recipe…
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Ingredients:

• 1 cup almond flour (aka meal, ground almonds)
• 1 cup oat flour
• 1 tbsp arrowroot starch (corn or potato starch would work too)
• 1/2 cup coconut sugar (add 1/4 cup more if you like a sweeter biscotti)
• 3/4 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 3 large eggs
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries or tart cherries
• 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I use 70% cacao chips)
• 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted, roughly chopped pistachios

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and grease. Whisk almond flour, oat flour, arrowroot starch, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat coconut sugar and eggs until pale yellow and thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in melted coconut oil and vanilla.
3. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour mixture until just until blended.
4. With a spoon or spatula, mix in dark chocolate chips, cranberries and pistachios.
5.Divide dough in half and turn out onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Wet your fingers and shape each portion into a 10”-long log and flatten each into a 1”-wide strip. Bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
6.Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. While they are cooling, reduce oven heat to 325°.
7. Transfer strips to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally into 1/2”-thick slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
8. Turn cookies over and bake 10 minutes longer (cookies will be slightly soft in the center but will harden as they cool). Transfer biscotti to wire racks and let cool.
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Sweet Potato Chilli

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I don’t know whether this constitutes as chilli or a stew but either way it is one of the easiest, cheapest and most satisfying meals to eat when the cold weather comes around. I have been making this dish for about four years now and can basically do it with my eyes closed. It is such a staple in my household, it practically blends in with the fridge.  What is so great about any chilli or stew is that you can add just about anything and it will still taste pretty great so long as the spice is there. If you have vegetables or meat that are reaching their expiration date, you can throw them into the pot and extend their life for at least another week or two. Whats best is that this dish actually tastes better with age. Just like a homemade sauce, the flavours are more enhanced a day or two later and it can be enjoyed throughout the week.

I do not add meat to this chilli because it is already packed with enough protein from all of the beans, which makes it a great option for #meatlessmondays or for those trying to reduce their animal protein intake. And to be honest, you don’t really miss it. I normally make Zach a huge container to take to work to eat throughout the week. This kid loves his steak more than the average, and this chilli is one of his favourites!

Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and can even help with weight management. Because they are rich in protein and carbohydrates you will be left feeling full and satisfied without any added fat. The sweet potato will give you lots of vitamin E and potassium. I even add a little turmeric to mine for added anti inflammatory benefits. Feel free to interchange the sweet potato with butternut squash (equally as delicious). Serve with a fresh salad for a complete meal or over some brown rice after a good cardio workout. My mom loves it over brown rice noodles or stuffed in a baked potato! Dee-lish. Bon appétit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
• 1 yellow onion finely chopped
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp chilli powder (you can add more if you like your chilli smokier)
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• about 1 lb chopped carrots (8-10 carrots, make sure they are bite sized!)
• 2 sweet potatoes chopped (can interchange with squash)
• 2 large cans of whole tomatoes (I buy San Marzano)
• 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
• 1 cup cooked red kidney beans
• 1 cup cooked canellini beans
• 1 heaped tbsp of tomato paste
• 1 tbsp hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot) *optional
• 2-3 drops stevia (optional)
• bunch of fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Directions:

1. In a huge stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautée onion until translucent about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and spices. Sautée for another minute.
2. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. If you find they are sticking to the pot, add more olive oil.
3. Add tomatoes and pierce using a wooden spoon. If you like tomato chunks, don’t break them down too much! Add tomato paste and hot sauce and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer uncovered and cook until you can pierce the potato and carrots easily with a fork (about 20-30 minutes).
4. Add your beans and allow to cook for another 10 minutes until the water from the tomatoes is mostly cooked down. If you are using canned beans, make sure to rinse them really well! Make sure to taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. If you like a sweet and spicy chilli, add a little bit of stevia!
5. Serve with fresh cilantro as a garnish!
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