Living the WELL Life

Cook Your Way to the Life You Want - by Christina Pirello

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

That's what we did on and 60 Our Bodies in Balance cooking course.  We started cooking our way to a healthier tomorrow.  The smells and flavors of these dishes can't be beat and they'll do wonders for your body too!  More great dishes are in the making at my November and December classes!

Winter Squash and Millet Soup
Quinoa with Pistachio Pesto
Seitan and Root Vegetable Stew
Escarole and Collard Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Orange-Scented Chocolate Cupcakes

Winter Squash and Millet Soup
1 bay leaf
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 cup finely diced winter squash (butternut, buttercup, kabocha)
2/3 cup yellow millet, rinsed well
5-6 cups spring or filtered water
2-3 teaspoons white miso
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal, for garnish

Layer bay leaf, onion, celery, squash and millet in a soup pot.  Gently add water and bring to a boil, covered.  Reduce heat to low and simmer soup until vegetables are tender and millet is creamy, about 35 minutes.  Remove a small amount of broth and dissolve miso.  Stir into soup and simmer, uncovered for 3-4 minutes to activate enzyme activity.  Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve garnished with scallions.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Quinoa with Pistachio Pesto
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 cup pistachios, shelled
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white miso
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well
2 cups spring or filtered water
Pinch sea salt

Make the pesto. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to create a rough paste, slowly adding oil to achieve the texture you desire. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Set aside to allow flavors to develop while the quinoa cooks.  Make the quinoa. Place quinoa and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add salt; cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed and quinoa has ‘opened,’ about 20 minutes.  To serve, stir pesto, a tablespoon at a time into the quinoa until you have as much as you like. You may have extra pesto. It will keep, refrigerated, for about a week. Makes 4-5 servings.

Seitan and Root Vegetable Stew
olive or avocado oil
yellow cornmeal
sea salt
1 pound seitan, cut into bite-size pieces
2 yellow onions, thick wedges
2 carrots, large irregular chunks
2 parsnips, large irregular chunks
2 cups 1-inch cubes winter squash
1/4 cup mirin or white wine
spring or filtered water
2 small handfuls green beans, tips trimmed, left whole
1-2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot
small handful fresh parsley, finely minced, for garnish

Heat about 2 inches oil in a deep sauce pan, over medium heat.  While the oil heats, combine cornmeal with a generous pinch of salt and cut the seitan.  Dredge the seitan in cornmeal.  When the oil is hot, fry the seitan until it is golden and crispy.  Drain on paper and set aside while preparing the vegetables.

In a heavy pot, layer the onion, carrot and parsnips.  Add a generous pinch of salt and about a cup of water.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and cook until the parsnips are just tender, not soft.  Add squash, mirin, more water, if needed and another generous pinch of salt.  Cover and cook until squash is tender.  Add the fried seitan, but do not stir.  Add green beans, season to taste with salt, cover and cook until the green beans are bright green and tender.  Dissolve kuzu in a small amount of cold water, stir in and continue to stir gently until the kuzu thickens and clears, forming a shiny glaze over the stew.  (The amount of kuzu needed will depend on the amount of liquid left in the stew--more liquid, more kuzu; less liquid, less kuzu.)

If cooking in a clay pot, the stew can go from stove top to table.  Simply stir in some parsley.  If cooked in a heavy pot, transfer stew to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley.  Makes 5-6 servings.  Note: Heat the oil over medium-low heat to insure it is hot through and through.  You know the oil is ready when patterns appear on the bottom of the pan or if you submerge chopsticks in the oil, bubbles gather. The seitan can be fried the morning of the party and chilled.  The stew is best if made an hour before dinner and served freshly cooked.

Escarole and Collard Green Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
3/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon grated tangerine zest
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2/3 teaspoon sea salt
generous pinch ground cinnamon
1 head escarole, rinsed very well, hand-shredded
3-4 collard leaves, rinsed well, stems trimmed, blanched, shredded
3-4 Belgian endive, halved lengthwise, sliced into thin slivers
2 pomegranates, seeds removed, reserved (when in season)
One half cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped

Place pomegranate juice and tangerine zest and brown rice syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.  Whisk in oil, vinegar, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  Place greens in a mixing bowl and add dressing.  Spoon dressing over greens and toss to coat.  Transfer salad to a platter and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pecan pieces.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Orange-Scented Chocolate Cupcakes
1 ½ (one half) cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ (one half) cup semolina flour
½ (one half) cup cocoa powder, Dutch processed is best
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Generous pinch sea salt
½ (one half) cup avocado oil
1 cup brown rice syrup
¾ cup soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
2 ounces coarsely chopped non-dairy, grain sweetened chocolate chips
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
Chocolate Frosting
1 cup non-dairy, grain-sweetened chocolate chips
Scant 1/4 cup soy or almond milk
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
Grated orange zest, for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers.  Whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder/soda and sea salt.  Whisk together oil, rice syrup, soy or rice milk and vinegar until smooth.  Mix wet ingredients into dry to create a smooth batter.  Fold in chopped chocolate and orange zest, spoon evenly into cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch.

Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle the cupcakes.  Remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.  Make the frosting while the cupcakes cool.  Place chocolate in heat-resistant bowl.  Bring soy or rice milk and rice syrup to a rolling boil and pour over chocolate.  Whisk until thick and smooth.  Cover loosely and set aside for 30-40 minutes to set frosting. Whisk to loosen frosting and spread over the top of each cupcake, garnishing with a sprinkle of orange zest.  Makes 12 cupcakes.


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