Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coconut Vanilla Pudding (Dairy-Free!)

Coconut Milk Vanilla Pudding

If I were to sing a song about a few of my favorite things, puddings and custards would be right at the top of the list.  Is it their smooth, silky texture?  The pure, sweet vanilla flavor?  It’s difficult to pinpoint what's so delicious about pudding, but I think my favorite part is how it reminds me of childhood.

You see, when I was a little girl my grandmother made custard and served it over graham crackers and pears; then, as a teenager, my best friend’s French mother made us profiteroles filled with pudding.  These days, I prepare these same dishes for my husband and friends.

GF creme puffs filled with coconut vanilla pudding

Why would I make a dairy-free version, you ask?  For the challenge, of course!  There are plenty of non-dairy puddings out there, and they're all full of additives and flavors that aren’t quite right.  Why should we put up with sub-standard fare when homemade pudding is incredibly simple to make?

So, without further ado, I give you... coconut milk vanilla pudding!  This is a tried-and-true recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook modified for our non-dairy and vegan friends.  I served this pudding in creme puffs for dessert (and ate the rest out of the serving bowl).

How will you eat your pudding?

Coconut Vanilla Pudding (Dairy-Free)

¾ cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
3 cups coconut milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 T coconut oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla

  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Stir in coconut milk and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes after mixture has thickened and then remove from heat.
  2. Slowly add 1 cup of the coconut milk mixture to the egg yolks, stirring constantly, then add all the egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the coconut milk. 
  3. Bring slowly back to a boil and cook for 2 minutes longer.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil and vanilla.  Pour into a shallow bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until cool.

Makes 6 Servings

Recipe modified from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter Storm

Winter is upon us here in Seattle and they certainly weren't lying about El Nina.  Snow in November?  Everyone laughs at us Seattlelites when our poor little city shuts down for a few inches of snow, but if I can co-op a popular saying, it's not the snow it's the ice.  In the pacific northwest it snows, then the snow melts during the day and then it freezes at night, so one little dusting of snow leaves us stranded for days in an impassable ice-covered wonderland.
What's an intrepid dietitian to do?  Cook of course!  What's your favorite snowy day meal?  Mine's chicken soup.  I can make it in my sleep.  No recipe, just chicken, broth, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, basil, oregano and bay leaves.  Cook until done.  I like to add a little rice but that's just me.
Nothing like coming in after a wonderful afternoon of sledding to a nice cup of soup and buttered toast.

What are you cooking today?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pancakes, the DF/GF way

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pancakes

I love pancakes.  Fortunately, they are very, very easy to make, even gluten-free.  I’ve made them out of brown rice flour, sorghum flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour and every combination of the above.  You don’t even need xanthan gum because the egg does a wonderful job of holding the batter together!

I’ve also experimented with different milks.  I’ve used almond, oat, rice and hemp milk, but by far my favorite is coconut milk.  The fat in coconut milk coats the grain proteins and helps hold the entire cake together. 

The funny thing about coconut milk is that you don’t really taste the coconut until you put a sweetener on the cake. 

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe?  What do you like to put on them?

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pancakes

1 cup GF mix (I used King Arthur for this batch)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 T maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 cup coconut milk
2 T coconut oil, melted

  1. In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, combine maple syrup, egg, coconut milk and coconut oil.
  2. Add the flour mixture to the liquid and blend until all lumps are eliminated.
  3. Add ¼ cup batter to preheated griddle and flip when underside starts to brown.  GF pancakes are naturally light-colored and will be a lighter shade of golden than their gluten-containing brethren.
  4. Keep pancakes warm in a 200 degree F oven and serve with fruit, peanut butter and maple syrup.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Provencal

Chicken Provencal
Do you have a favorite fall/winter dish?  Mine is Chicken Provencal.  I love any kind of meat that is stewed for a long time, succulent and falling off the bone, but Chicken Provencal has a special place in my heart.  I think it’s the lavender.  I know that lavender isn't traditional, but it adds a certain je ne sais quoi and a hint of fragrance that I find alluring.

Chicken Provencal cooking with herbs and spices 
Herbs de Provence is a blend of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, mint, bay leaves and, yes, lavender.  When you look at recipes for Chicken Provencal (and I’ve looked at many), they often indicate that you can leave out the herbs de Provence.  Blasphemy, I say!  What is Chicken Provencal without herbs de Provence?  Nothing more than stewed fowl!

However, there are as many ways to prepare Chicken Provencal as there are little old ladies in France.  Here, I present you with my recipe, but feel free to make your own!  Traditionally, Chicken Provencal is prepared with white wine, but a few weeks ago I had none, so I used red.  It was delicious.  Experiment to find a stewed chicken dish that you love, and let it keep you warm on these cold fall nights.

Chicken Provencal with quinoa pasta and blanched kale

Chicken Provencal

1 whole chicken cut into parts with skin on, or 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
2 T safflower oil
½ onion, chopped
7-8 medium garlic gloves or 4-6 large cloves chopped or pressed
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup white or red wine
1 cup chicken broth (instant is fine)
1- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 T chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dried
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano or ½ tsp dried
1 bay leaf
2 tsp herbs de Provence
½ cup nicoise or kalamata olives
1 T chopped fresh parsley

  1. Move the oven rack to the lower middle position and pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.  Add half the oil to the Dutch oven and preheat over medium high heat.  Place half the chicken, skin side down in pan and cook until the skin is well browned about 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken with tongs and cook 5 minutes longer.  Remove the meat from the pan, add the rest of the oil and repeat until all the chicken is browned.  Drain off all but one tablespoon of fat.
  2. Turn down heat to just below medium and sauté the onion for 7 minutes or until soft.  Add the garlic, anchovy paste and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the wine, chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato paste, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and herbs de Provence.  Remove the skin form the chicken and place the meat in the pan.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven until meat is falling off the bone, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  3. After the chicken is cooked through, add olives and parsley.  Serve over pasta or rice with a fresh green salad.


Recipe modified from the cookbook The New Best Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flax: Is it REALLY good for you?

Making salad dressing with flax oil

Flax has gained traction in the health industry in recent years due to its high content of essential fatty acids.  One tablespoon of flax oil contains 7.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 2.2 grams of omega-6 fatty acids.  This is huge, considering the recommended adequate intake for omega-3 is 1.1 g/d for women and 1.6 g/day for men.

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, meaning they halt the prostaglandins and cytokines that cause the inflammatory immune reaction in your body.  Inflammation is an important part of the immune system, but chronic inflammation is associated with a wide range of disorders including heart disease, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, asthma, cancer, dementia, depression, hypertension and mood disorders.

So how do you use flax in your diet?

Flax Seed
Flax seed is sold pre-ground or as a whole seed, and it can be added to baked goods, hot cereal, salad, smoothies and sprinkled on hot vegetables.  Grind your own flax seed in a coffee grinder or seed grinder.  Store whole or ground flax in the refrigerator for 6 months, or in the freezer for 1 year.

Flax Oil
Flax oil has a mild flavor and tastes wonderful in salad dressing, smoothies, hot cereal and on cooked vegetables.  Never, ever cook with flax oil, but feel free to add it to hot foods after they are removed from the pan.

Flax As An Egg Replacer
Add 3 tablespoons of hot water to 1 tablespoon ground flax and let mixture sit for about 10 minutes or until it thickens.  Use the unstrained gel in place of one egg in most baking recipes.

Ingredients for salad dressing

Flax Oil Salad Dressing

3 T Flax oil
1 T Balsalmic vinegar
1 small clover garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and serve on your favorite salad.


1.      Omega content of flax oil from Barean’s Fresh Flax Oil
“Omegas and inflammation” from Healing Foods by Michael Murray

Friday, November 12, 2010

Coconut Pumpkin Bread: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Coconut Pumpkin Bread

I've Got a Fever... and the Only Cure... is More Pumpkin Bread.
The rain has started here in Seattle, and with the wet and the grey comes the urge to bake.  I admit, I don’t bake a lot, and when I do it’s typically the same foods over and over again.  When I want chocolate chip cookies or focaccia or brownies, I go to my tried-and-true recipes because I can bake them gluten-free in my sleep.  

However, the other day I had a craving for pumpkin bread. Not just any pumpkin bread either, but coconut pumpkin bread.  When I bake dairy-free, I’m a huge fan of coconut milk because of its consistency and fat content.  Despite what the media tells you, you need fat, and your baked goods need it too (to attain the proper consistency).

Pumpkin Bread Batter

Gluten-Free Quick Breads
Quick breads are naturally moist, and gluten-free quick breads are a dream because gluten-free bread is almost always moist.  What a blessing, then, to know that you needn't worry how moist your bread will turn out!

Traditional quick bread recipes usually call for only 1 cup of added bananas or pumpkin, but I discovered that 2 cups is much more delicious and doesn’t change much about the bread other than the weight. 

Finally, in this recipe I didn’t specify what flour blend to use because it really doesn’t matter!  Use your favorite blend.  Really!  I’ve been experimenting with the King Arthur flour blend and that’s what I used in this recipe.  I’ll let you know what I think in another post but so far I’ve been pleased with the results.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Coconut Pumpkin Bread

Coconut Pumpkin Bread (GF, DF)

1¾ cup GF flour mix, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon guar or xanthum gum
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
15 oz pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coconut milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If necessary, lightly grease 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, guar or xanthum gum, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. Cream coconut oil and mix in sugar until just combined.  Beat in eggs and then add pumpkin puree.  Add the dry ingredients and milk, then mix until just combined.
  4. Place batter in loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes or until top is cracked and a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Let loaf rest in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.  Wait for loaf to cool before cutting into it.

Recipe modified from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What should a healthy plate look like?

Quinoa pasta with blanched chard, chicken sausage, pesto and parmesan

I think I must eat pasta with blanched greens a lot because I seem to have too many pictures of pasta with kale, pasta with chard, pasta with spinach.  The reason?  Pasta with greens is easily my favorite quick go-to meal.  If I can help it, I only dirty one pot and I get vegetables into the mix.

In my nutrition practice, no two patients are treated exactly the same way and each receives unique dietary counseling based on their specific diet and lifestyle needs.  That being said, I almost always discuss the healthy plate model for eating because everyone needs to and should eat more vegetables.

What should a healthy plate look like you ask?  Simple.  Cover one-third to one-half with veggies and split the remainder of the plate between the starch and protein.  This is fabulously easy if you are eating baked chicken with mashed potatoes and a salad but what do you do for mixed dishes like pasta?

Again, easy.

Put your veggie under the pasta and use it as a base, then place your pasta on top.  Doesn’t that look like more food?  Well, it actually is more food.  Eating veggies provides fiber, along with vitamins and minerals.  The fiber will keep you feeling full longer without the weighed down malaise of consuming too many noodles.

Some veggies to try with pasta:

Green beans
Snap peas
Mixed frozen veggies

If you would like to know how to blanch greens, please click here.

What are you cooking with your pasta tonight?