Monday, January 27, 2014

Raspberry Walnut Kefir Muffins (Gluten Free)

Happy Monday!

I had a fun and delicious weekend that included dinner at Pace Restaurant (yum) and a trip to the Studio City Farmers Market yesterday. I snapped up a lot of great items, from local fresh fish and shrimp, to sugar snap peas and spiky artichokes, to gluten-free buckwheat bread. 

But onto this week's recipe...

My new favorite ingredient is... kefir!

It's fermented milk made with a yeast and bacteria starter, kind of like yogurt. It contains healthy probiotics, yeasts, enzymes... all that good stuff. Sometimes I make smoothies or drink it with a little raw honey. It's also a great substitute for buttermilk in any recipe and has a nice tangy flavor.

I've been baking it into cornbread, and just this weekend I made Raspberry Walnut muffins with it. Boy, were they tasty! Moist and tangy and delicious! The flour mix for my gluten free muffins is the same as my gluten free cornbread (1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour). 

I made these muffins with raspberries and walnuts, but you can let your imagination run wild and create all kinds of flavor combinations of fruit and nuts (or even dark chocolate chips if you're feeling feisty).

Raspberry Walnut Kefir Muffins (Gluten Free)
Makes about 7 muffins
Baking time 20-25 minutes
Vegetarian; gluten free

1 cup gluten free cornmeal
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened kefir
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or regular milk
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder). In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then mix in the maple syrup, kefir, milk, and oil with the egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, but be careful not to over beat the mix. Fold in the raspberries and walnuts.

3. Grease a muffin tin. Pour the mix into the muffin slots and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter. Enjoy!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Simple Soaked Brown Rice

Happy New Year!

I'm sure everybody is making their resolutions. Isn't eating healthier always high on the list?

This year I'm exploring a few new techniques to improve my cooking and my health. First up is soaking grains. Many old cooking techniques have largely been forgotten in our modern age. Sure, we've been drilled with the idea that brown rice is healthier than white rice. But did you know that the phytic acid in brown rice can actually impair the absorption of minerals and nutrients?

But don't fear, my dear foodies...

By soaking brown rice with a little raw apple cider vinegar overnight, you can reduce the phytic acid and render the rice more digestible. It also makes the rice super fluffy and tasty (in my humble opinion). Instead of vinegar, some people use whey to soak grains, but I prefer to keep dairy products out of my diet most of the time.

Raw apple cider vinegar is one of my best friends in the kitchen. I love that it's fermented and contains probiotics and good enzymes. I use it to make bone broth (more on that later) and in salad dressings. Basically anything I can.

The only trick to soaking rice is a little extra preparation. Just throw it in before you go to dinner the night before. I love cooking up brown rice for dinner and then keeping the leftovers in my fridge to make dishes like this Raisin-Walnut Spiced Rice the next day (this recipe was featured by Meatless Monday on their website). I love it for breakfast or any meal of the day.

Simple Soaked Brown Rice
Serves 4-6 people
Vegan; gluten-free

1 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon raw, unpastuerized apple cider vinegar
2 cups water for soaking (ideally filtered)

for cooking:
pinch of salt (optional)
1 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Put the ingredients in a ceramic bowl and mix together well.

2. Place in a warm area of the kitchen and let soak overnight (about 8 to 10 hours).

3. Once the soaking is finished, drain the rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with water. Place in a saucepan with the 1 3/4 cups water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt (if desired).

4. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed the liquid and reached the desired consistency. Let it rest for five minutes and then fluff with a fork. Enjoy!