gluten free

I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food

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Come on guys! Look at Emma’s face! There’s enough proof there to last the entirety of my chef life.

Tonight we broke the fast like a BOSS. I prepared a simple rocket and pepita salad, cannellini bean dip, curried couscous, falafel, an antipasto plate of chargrilled eggplant, marinated artichokes, blue-cheese stuffed green olives and sundried tomatoes, and last but not least, pesto gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella. Oh and nonalcoholic sangria made with grape juice, passion fruit juice, earl grey tea, cinnamon, blood orange and strawberries.

For dessert, Kaori brought ice-cream and we also had my bliss balls.
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Now they’ve gone home and again, it’s just me. Just me and my food baby.

Goodnight xx

An Israeli Dish To Make You Forget Hummus

Hummus who? That’s right. That’s how good my Israeli dinner (not hummus) was last night. Oh my, where to begin?

Hamin (pronounced with a strong KH so KHamin) or Cholent is a traditional Jewish stew. According to Lifa (Mr. Head Chef) it is usually simmered overnight Friday for about 12 hours, and eaten on Shabbat, the Religious holiday where Jewish laws prohibit cooking or turning on the light for that matter!

There are many variations of the dish but the basic ingredients are meat, potatoes, beans and barley. Sephardi-style hamin uses rice instead of beans and barley, and chicken instead of beef. A traditional Sephardi addition is whole eggs in the shell (huevos haminados), which turn brown overnight. Ashkenazi cholent often contains kishke (a sausage casing) or helzel (a chicken neck skin stuffed with a flour-based mixture). When I asked Lifa more about this casing and what it was stuffed with, he replied in his thick Hebrew accent, “I don’t know, mostly FAT and BREAD.” Ha! So I’m glad he couldn’t find it in Japan and opted for boiled eggs instead.

I loved listening to Lifa describe this dish. He very much reminded me of my father. Seeing as we were both hungry, his mouth was watering as he showed me pictures of the cooking process. One description stood out. That being his technique of placing the beans on the bottom of the pot as they are his least favourite ingredient, so if something is to burn, it will be them!

Come tasting time, the Hamin or Cholent was unbelievably delicious. Picture a marriage between a risotto and a stew. So damn delicious. Lifa had also included prunes and date syrup making it a flavoursome sweet and savoury concoction. The ultimate comfort food. I can’t wait for him to make it again. Here I should mention, Aki also made, as usual, an amazing green salad with figs and hemp seeds, cabbage soup and a tasty broccoli dish.

For dessert, we had entirely VEGAN, GF and SUGAR-FREE cupcakes which I made using Kaori’s recipe. Don’t we have the best foodie community here?! Recipe below.

150g soft tofu(it’s called KINU-TOFU in Japanese)
1/2 cup soy milk
3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
nuts of choice (optional)

Mix the first lot of ingredients together in a blender then transfer to a large bowl.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well.

Pour into a greased cake tin or muffin tray and bake at 180C for 35-45 minutes.

Icing:
Flesh of one avocado
1 small banana
3 tbsp pure cocoa powder
2 tbsp raw maple syrup (or honey)

Blend all ingredients together and spread atop cake. Make sure blender is off before you start licking it! <3

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SIX Breakfasts To Keep You Full An Entire Day

Yipee! I have officially completed my first day of the fast and currently eating everything. Just kidding! Not really… Seriously though, it wasn’t that bad and I reckon it’s because I had a really good breakfast. So, without further adieu, the following are my top 5 breakfasts to keep you full an entire day, fasting or not, either way.

1. Bircher muesli (Oats are probably the most filling breakfast food ever. Top with raw nuts and fresh fruit for extra oomph! If you’re feeling adventurous, try my peanut butter and banana variety, HERE.)
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2. Chocolate chia-seed pudding (Excuse me while I drool into my keyboard…but in all seriousness, this breakfast is super nutritious and super filling because both chia seeds and raw cacao are incredible SUPERfoods (see what I did there?). Alternatively, for a simple chia pudding, click HERE.
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3. A Persian breakfast (Good bread, walnuts for omega 3, good-fat vegetables like avocado, healing herbs like mint and basil and good quality cheese ok maybe not the cheese but shhh! What else could your tumtum wish for?!) Watermelon! Yes, it could wish for watermelon.
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4. Banana and blueberry baked oats (Oats, eggs, walnuts, bananas and if you can, blackcurrants over blueberries but all in all, allllllll good!)
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5. Black rice pudding (There’s a reason black rice or “forbidden rice” was solely reserved for the emperor back in the day. Tis good shizz. Combine with plant-based “milk”, raw nuts and/or seeds and fresh fruit and I guarantee you’ll stay full). Don’t like black? Rather brown? Das cool, das cool. It’s ok to think like that when it comes to food. Click HERE for a brown rice pudding recipe.
image156. Savory oats (a high fiber oatmeal packed with extra protein: a free-range egg, healthy fats: avocado and sunflower seeds, and lots of metabolism kicking chili!)
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One fruit crumble to rule them all.

It’s safe to say, if I can say so myself, which I can, seeing as this is my blog, that I know how to make a good fruit crumble. And by good, I mean real good. With real ingredients free of dairy, gluten(if you want it to be) and refined-sugar.
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Last night, I made said crumble and took it to my dear friend and neighbour, Kaori’s house. Though this has become a recurring habit of ours, nevertheless, it was for a special occasion and that special occasion is Ayyam-i-Ha.

Ayyam-i-Ha, or the Intercalary Days, is a multiple-day Bahá’í festival. It typically falls around the end of February and the beginning of March and is joyously celebrated by Bahá’ís (that’s my religion) in countries and territories all over the world.

It is a period dedicated to being social, hospitable, generous and joyful. In addition, it is a time to prepare for the upcoming Bahá’í fast come March (2nd) though more on that soon!

So, Kaori, her daughter, Emma and I spent last night in yin-yang spirit by consuming a vegan, gluten and refined-sugar-free crumble alongside a huge scoop of budget ice-cream in the same bowl.image[3]
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Last thing, before I get to the recipe, which I know is why you’re all here anyway, is that this morning, I woke up with a terrible cold and so, was forced to cancel my entire weekend plans. WAH. Nevertheless, it’s giving me some MORE time to work on my blog (as if I don’t harass you all enough) and combine all of my crumble recipes into one neat one, below. Sorry for all the ranting! GO GO GO:

To make the recipe GF, simply use GF oats and ground nuts in place of flour.

Filling:
3 Large apples or pears or a combination, peeled, cored and chopped medium.
1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries, blackcurrants or raspberries or a mixture of all.
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp pure vanilla essence

Crumble:
1 cup jumbo oats
1/2 cup of quick oats
1/4 cup of flour (I usually use wholemeal)
1/2 cup of chopped raw nuts of choice (I like walnuts)
1/2 cup of raw seeds of choice (I like pumpkin seeds)
1 tbsp cinnamon
a pinch of each ginger powder, nutmeg and cardamom
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted.

In a small pot cook the apples/pears with 1/2 cup of water on med-high heat until soft (about 15 min).

Add berries, cinnamon and vanilla essence and continue to simmer for another min or two.

The secret to a crunchy crumble is a relatively “dry” filling so transfer the fruit mixture to a round cake tin with as little of its water as possible. You can drink that (that is if you have any excess liquid) or use it in another recipe, if you will.

Combine all crumble ingredients together in another bowl until nice and sticky.

Assemble on top of fruit.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crunchy at 180C.

**Do keep an eye out so it doesn’t burn.

Oishi desu yo!

Nonalcoholic Sangria

Last night for our nabe party, Mi-chan made nonalcoholic Sangria using my recipe. It was super delicious AND pretty. I love this drink because it is a nice and spicy alternative to plain fruit juice and, once you’ve drank all of its liquid you still have half a cup of fruit left to enjoy.

I won’t give exact measurements as it really depends on the jar/jug you use..

but basically…

two different 100% fruit juice (I like pineapple and grape or grape and apple or cranberry and orange)
soda water
2 cinnamon sticks
juice of one orange
2 or more tsp agave nectar (according to taste)
small cut fresh fruit: blueberries, pineapple, orange, strawberries etc

Fill your jar halfway with a mixture of the two fruit juice

Then almost full, with soda water.

Add everything else, mix well to combine and refrigerate for at least 5-6 hours before serving with ice.

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Love, Cake and Gyoza

Far from my “home”, family and friends in a country where I cannot manage a simple errand without succumbing to a pathetic pool of tears, I was, and I am, simultaenously surrounded by an infinite source of 愛 (LOVE). Last night, that love came from an Israeli (the country I was taught to hate by my Iranian primary school), a loving Japanese and their adorable son, a global citizen, Oz-kun. How incredibly lucky am I? And what did I do to deserve all this? Thank you Lydon family and thank you, God!

Aki prepared vegetarian curry, one spinach-based, one tomato and yet ANOTHER amazing salad, this one had hemp-seeds and raisins. Oz-kun, Aki and I (but really, mostly Aki) made completely home-made naan and vegan gyoza filled with onion, spinach and quinoa. Last, I made a gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free chocolate raspberry cake adapted from the Petite Kitchen website (recipe after the pictures).
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Cake
3 free-range eggs
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup runny honey
1/2 cup of thawed frozen raspberries (fresh even better)
1 1/2 cups of ground almonds
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda

Glaze:
1 block of good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
the creamy top from a can of full-fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 170C

Place cake ingredients in a food processor and blitz to combine

Pour batter into a greased cake tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until done

Let cool completely before glazing.

To prepare the ganache, add the chopped chocolate and coconut cream in to a small saucepan over extremely low heat. Whisk continuously until melted together then immediately remove from heat

Let cool slightly (1-2 min)

Using a spatula, spread deliciousness evenly on  cake, allowing it to drizzle over the edges

Last but not least, decorate with berries and fresh flowers

Date cake

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Date cake. As in the fruit, not romance. Unless I’m having a date with a bear or a wild boar in which case, it could be that cos I’m pretty sure I saw a bear yesterday. Anyways, it’s free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar but not eggs. Because I love eggs. Free-range of course.

4 free-range eggs
1 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup of ground almonds
1 cup of rice flour
1 tsp cinnamon

to decorate: walnuts and dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 160C

Blend eggs, dates, oil, baking soda and vinegar together (in a food processor or blender).

Transfer to a large bowl and fold in almonds, flour and cinnamon.

Pour mixture into a greased tin and top with walnuts and dark chocolate

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the fork comes out clean.

Enjoy hot or cold or in between.

PS I initially topped this cake with freeze-dried strawberries but they burnt in my toaster oven! So, I picked them off and shoved more walnuts in their place (hehe) hence the berry absence in the last picture.

Step by step guacamole

Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but I’m kind of the guacamole queen. Once at a dull party (not mine, obviously), this random dude came up to me before leaving and said, “I only stayed this long for the guacamole”, which is how I became the guacamole queen, you see! My secret? Simplicity. No need for coriander or chilli.

1 avocado
half a lemon
salt and pepper
1 tomato

scoop out avo flesh
add lemon
mash
season with salt and pepper
top with chopped tomatoes

Healthy wholewheat waffles

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Remember the “Sister Visit”? Well, my lovely lovely sister, who always likes and shares my blog-posts, brought over, all the way from NZ, my very abandoned yet dearly missed baby, Mr Waffle. Mr. Waffle Maker. Who this morning kindly provided me with healthy wholewheat waffles.

If you’re reading this Delaram, thank you! They were delicious and I highly recommend you (and everyone else) invest in one too (waffle maker and waffles).

1 free range egg
1 1/2 cups of your favorite milk
1 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour (or any GF flour of choice)
1/2 cup ground almonds (or other nut or seeds)
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.

Next, stir in everything else.

Cook waffle according to waffle-maker instructions.

Serve with yogurt, fruit, maple syrup and peanut butter! OR BACON. Oh no I didn’t.

Vegan turnip, carrot and bean soup

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This was simply an “I need to use up these vegetables” moment that just happened to work. It’s so easy it’s not even a recipe and I’m no chef, I just chopped some veggies and put them in a pot with water and some spice then hovered impatiently over it then burnt my tongue badly from it.

1 onion, chopped small
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 or so cups water
2 cups small white turnips, chopped
1 cup wild carrots, chopped (regular carrots are OK, too!)
1/2 cup green peas

1 can of all natural mixed beans

Fresh coriander
Salt and pepper

Saute onions with oil in a medium pot on medium heat until translucent.

Add tomato paste and saute for a further minute.

Add everything else (spices, vegetables, water) and simmer at medium-low heat for 20ish minutes. Since the beans are pre-cooked the whole thing shouldn’t take that long to cook and come together.

Pour into bowls and serve with fresh coriander and salt and pepper, to taste.

HASHTAGsurvivingajapanesewinter.