Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE WEIGHT LOSS: EGGPLANT AND PEPPERS


For celiacs and other people who follow a gluten-free diet, vegetables are the "old reliable" when it comes to eating gluten-free food. When in doubt, cook up some veggies. Handy, especially with the convenience of a couple of minutes to steam some broccoli in your microwave. But that kind of cooking, especially if you're gluten free and trying to lose weight, is sometimes so boring it can bring the most committed vegetarian to tears.

Time to look to other cultures for some help. In many parts of the world vegetables are the focus of most meals, with meat, fish and poultry being no more than flavor accents, if not totally absent from the menu. India is a country whose home cooks know many ways to transform even the humblest of vegetables into tasty treasures. Here is a recipe inspired by an Indian one that is perfect to serve when you need a break from humdrum vegetables that doesn't involve breading or frying or anything else that will sabotage your weight loss goals.

INDIAN EGGPLANT AND PEPPERS

Makes two generous or four smaller servings

Ingredients

1 eggplant, approximately one pound

1 sweet red bell pepper, or several smaller ones, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 tsp salt

1 T oil

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp lemon juice

dash of cayenne, or to taste

4 oz water

2 T chopped cilantro

Instructions

Peel and cube the eggplant.

Mix with salt and let stand 30-60 minutes.

Squeeze all liquid from cubes.

Heat oil.

Add fenugreek and fennel seeds. When they darken, add onion, peppers and eggplant. Cook on low heat 20 minutes, stirring so eggplant doesn't stick to pan.

Add water and remaining spices. Stir and cook until eggplant is soft, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Serve hot or cold. If you are being very careful about your weight loss, the best solution for protein would be to toss some precooked meat or soy protein in at the end of the recipe. For a higher calorie meal, but still nowhere near what a traditional burger would "cost" you, since these are all vegetarian, take a look at these burger recipes.

GLUTEN-FREE MULTIGRAIN SPICED CRACKER

These multigrain crackers are an exercise in variety. Made of corn, almonds and oatmeal, the flavor of no one flour is too prominent. Same with the spices, which have been kept mild to accommodate most palates but if you like hot stuff, feel free to double them. Once you try these, you might find it easier to store the flour mix in the fridge and just whip up a bunch whenever you like. Prep time would then be a mere ten minutes, and twenty minutes after that, you'd be enjoying these cunchy delights.

Multigrain crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2c blanched almond flour
  • 1/2c cornmeal
  • 1c certified gluten free oats
  • 1 egg white
  • 3T olive oil
  • 6T water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1 ancho chile powder

 
Instructions:
 
Grind oats in food processor. Mix oats and cornmeal with almond flour, salt, chile powder and cumin seeds. Beat egg whites, oil and water till bubbly and slowly mix with dry ingredients until a ball is formed. Divide in four parts. Flatten one ball on a sheet of parchment, then cover with a second sheet. Roll out until as thin as preferred (1/16-1/8 inch). Remove top parchment paper and place on baking sheet. Score with pizza cutter. (For round crackers, flatten marble-sized balls.) Repeat for rest of dough.  Bake at 325 degrees until lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes depending on thickness of dough.


GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN DINING AT LILLI AND LOO



Lunch at Lilli and Loo's on Lexington Avenue in NYC is one of the most pleasant ways to spend an hour or so in the midst of shopping. If you've come to the restaurant with a gluten-eating friend, rest assured you will both be satisfied, and you will plan to return to explore the extensive gluten free dinner menu.

The fast and attentive service is at Lilli and Loo is a plus when you're busy rushing around one of the city's prime shopping areas. The restaurant's decor is informal, yet attractive and witty.  The starter salad, overdressed iceberg lettuce, was disappointing. Garnished with bright and freshly steamed vegetables, however, the gluten free General Tso's Tofu was perfectly hot and sweet--a wonderful taste of pre-gluten-free days.

A real standout, though, was dessert (see the slide show). When is the last time your local Chinese restaurant surprised you with the quality of its baked goods? The blueberry pound cake was remarkable. Light and coconutty, dusted with powdered sugar....perfect ending to a lovely lunch.  One request, though: gluten free fortune cookies!

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN DINING AT GOBO


The food is so lovely at Gobo that it is sad it must be given only four stars, not the five which the food deserves, because of the unbearable acoustics. Try to go for a very late lunch or a very early dinner (there's a $25 three course prix fixe meal offered until 6pm), when you will have little or no problem hearing your dinner companion. Arrive during popular meal hours and you will have more than a little trouble conducting a conversation at a normal decibel level. The decor of the restaurant is attractive, but perhaps, given the number of online mentions of the noise problem by patrons, it is time for a renovation.

Sound problems aside, the atmosphere is pleasant, mostly because the service is attentive, informative and patient. The food is delicious. It's healthy food that would be attractive to vegans and (open-minded) non-vegans alike. There is a wine list and a smoothie list. The Awakening smoothie, of ginseng, passionfruit and mango, is excellent.

Many dishes are gluten-free and many more can be prepared gluten-free, so there is a great deal to choose from. The organic white bean, root vegetable and pumpkin soup had wonderful depth of flavor. The fried yam and yucca fries were amazing (well, the yams were--the yucca was undercooked). The side order of coconut rice with raisins was delicious. The pine nut vegetable medley with lettuce wraps, pictured above, was not only tasty but a generous serving, despite being called a small plate.

Gobo: 401 6th Ave, between Waverly Place & 8th St.  Phone: (212) 255-3242.
Note: there is another branch of Gobo at 1426 3rd Ave, between 80th & 81st St, but this has been a review of the branch in the Village.
 

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN DINING AT THE CANDLE CAFE

If you are big fan of the Candle Cafe's younger sister restaurant, Candle 79, you might be disappointed in Candle Cafe which, ironically, has the benefit of several years more experience than the 79th Street branch. Although the food is similar, the atmosphere is not, so the prices, which also are almost the same, seem uncalled for. At night, the restaurant is dark. Not atmospherically, so, although that might have been the goal, but dark to the point where reading the menu requires alternate use of the votive candle if you are not dining alone. 

Unfortunately, the restaurant during the day is still not very comfortable. The tunnel-like space is poorly lit in the back, tables are set very close, and placed near the windows at the front of the restaurant, a table for four seems to have been an afterthought, or someone's poor idea to increase profits. The table is located near the noise of the very active smoothie bar, so conversation is difficult, and it is right next to where a crowd gathers to wait to be seated. Certainly the worst seats in the house!  

The food is mostly vegan and organic, but there is a specifically gluten-free menu, which is considerate (except that desserts are not included there). The red quinoa salad, with greens, black beans, corn kernels and roasted pepitas, served with a cumin vinaigrette is excellent, but at $15, and in an informal setting such as this,  it should be closer to the size of a main dish salad than the side salad it appears to be. The Paradise Casserole, composed of sweet potatoes, black beans, millet, steamed greens and gravy, though also not a particularly generous serving, is more filling. One unqualified recommendation: the artisanal ginger soda, which is not overly sweet and is deliciously spicy.

The food in the Candle Cafe cookbook is inventive. Dining at Candle 79 can be memorable. The owners really know how to make attractive, delicious healthy food. Candle Cafe is just not the setting in which to appreciate it.




Sunday, June 20, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE VEGETARIAN YAM, COCONUT PEANUT BUTTER SOUP

This creamy soup suits any get-togethers of people who like full-flavored dishes and aren't afraid of spice. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 c chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped celery
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 c crushed tomatoes (canned)
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 c peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1c lentils
  • 1c parboiled yam cubes (about 1")

Instructions:

Saute onions, celery and spices on low flame, until onions are translucent. Add lentils and yams and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring well. Add half of broth. Whisk in half of peanut butter. Whisk in rest of broth and mix in crushed tomatoes. Cook until yams are soft. Serve with chopped cilantro as garnish.  Serves 4-6.

More gluten-free holiday entertaining suggestions: Roasted beet soupmaple walnut yams,cauliflower chestnut bakecranberry baked applesbaked acorn squash with cashew pilafbaked apples with gjetost cheesecornbread chestnut cranberry stuffingraisin corn muffinsfig and goat cheese appetizerherbed vegetable dip.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE WEIGHT LOSS: FENNEL RASPBERRY SALAD





When you find mint and raspberry at a great price and had originally planned to make a traditional fennel, orange and black olive salad, you might decide to make this salad of fennel, mint, red onions and black olives, instead. Whipping some of the softer raspberries with balsamic vinegar and a bit of oil makes a fine dressing for this combo. And f you like a vinegary salad dressing, you might, for the sake of your calorie intake, try it without oil--not bad at all!

Salad:

1 fennel bulb, sliced  (outer, tough part removed)
1/2 cup firm raspberries
2T minced mint leaves
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped pitted black olives

Dressing:

1/4 cup soft raspberries
2 T balsamic vinegar
2T olive oil

Serve salad and dressing (with or without oil) over greens, or just as is.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE WEIGHT LOSS: UNION SQUARE FARMERS MARKET


This is the beginning of the time of year when gluten-free diners can start getting real value for their money. Focus on all the naturally gluten-free produce available now, such as the rainbow kale, pears, cherries, burdock root, snap peas, cousa squash and radishes pictured below. Walk by the often overpriced gluten-free processed foods that distracted you in cooler weather, and enjoy the variety at your local farmers market. If you live in Manhattan you can make your way to a market just a walk from your home (there are actually so many in the borough now that a walk or short bus ride can get you to one no matter where you live). If you've got the time, visit the rightfully well-known showpiece market of the city at Union Square, where you can find the broadest range of products: fruits, vegetables, cheeses, flowers, preserves, pretzels, sweet and savory baked goods and even items like yarn, or wreaths made of dried flowers.
If you are buying milk at the market, it is definitely not to find Costco prices. You are probably at a dairy farm's booth because you want milk from cows who have not been given growth hormones to increase milk production. You can also buy the milk in returnable glass containers, thereby helping the planet and well as the cows. (Fat-free milk is available.)

There's a bit of a controversy at the market about organic certification. Some growers feel that what is required for them to qualify as organic does not address the issues they face as they employ many healthy farming practices. Some feel they go above and beyond the rules of being organic, and that the certification is not as meaningful as many think. The best thing is to ask the vendor how the food you are about to purchase was grown. Most seem extremely forthcoming and happy to explain their methods.

Some people go to the market for the superior freshness of items availalble throughout the city, just not at this quality. Have you ever tried to buy wild mushrooms and been discouraged by the moldiness or broken pieces of the display at your local supermarket? Some of the mushrooms are probably even pre-wrapped in plastic, possibly the worst thing for them. Here they are beautiful, and you are sent off with your mushrooms in a paper bag, which is just how you should be storing them in the fridge.
Although the market is best known for the quality of its produce than low prices, there are the occasional bargains, such as these apples. Shopping toward the end of the day can also lead to price breaks, but is risky, since many items disappear by early afternoon.
At the south end of the market, a cooking demonstration tent has been set up. The kinks don't seem to have been worked out just yet (no microphones, poor visibility) but the intentions of the market, as usual, are excellent. It appears you can participate in the cooking as well, though that may change as the season continues. Worth checking out, though.




HERE ARE SOME VEGETABLE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GLUTEN FREE WEIGHT-LOSS WITH PORTABELLO CHILI TARTS

The chili delight you see here is vegetarian, gluten-free, low-fat, high fiber and so good for you that you won't have to feel guilty in the least for how wonderful it tastes. If you make a vegetarian chili, use almost no oil in sweating the onions, garlic and mushroooms, bulk it up with vegetables and make sure it contains a hefty amount of protein even before you add non-plant sources, you have an incredibly healthy dish that will definitely help you on the way to bikini pride. And that's even with a topping of grilled mozzarella cheese (part-skim, of course).

The secret ingredient to this dish is a portabello mushroom. If you grew up on English muffin pizzas, then you will understand how this combination takes the old favorite to new nutritional and weight-watching heights. Instead of the usually fairly empty calories of the traditional breadstuff, we have a similarly-shaped, but healthier substitute, a fungus that contains, for each 3 oz mushroom, 22 calories, approximately one gram of fiber, no fat and 2 grams of protein. Quite an improvement over the muffin!

Portabello Chili Tart

Serves two.

Ingredients:

4 medium mushrooms, approximately 4 inches in diameter

1 cup chili

1 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced and cut into small squares.

Instructions:

Wash the mushrooms with a damp cloth. There are two schools of thought on removing the dark gills of portabello mushrooms. If you don't have a preference, why not remove them on half the mushrooms, and let them stay on the other half, and make a final decision later? If you want to remove them, you will find a small teaspoon or a grapefruit knife helpful.

Place all the mushrooms, gills up, under a broiler until you see they are full of liquid, about ten minutes.

Discard the liquid before filling each mushroom with 1/4 cup chili and chopped fresh cilantro.

Top each mushroom with one quarter of the cheese.

Broil until cheese is melted and browned.

Note re chili recipe: This is a large recipe, so you might want to halve it, depending on your available freezer space. Try using cooking spray on the pan and then adding only the smallest amount of oil necessary, rather than using the full 2 tablespoons.


Photos © Bernice Mast


More weight-loss-friendly gluten-free foods:


Vegetable Frittata Recipe

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Monday, June 7, 2010

RECALL IMPORTANT TO CELIACS: Wally's Nut House

Wally's Nut House, LLC of Oak Grove, MO, is recalling its 16 ounce packages of Tailgate Crunch Mix, Sweet Cajun Heat Mix, Country Western Mix, Cranberry Raisin Mix, Party Mix, Hot 'n Spicy Mix, and Louisiana Cajun Mix snack mixes because they may contain undeclared milk, soy, and/or wheat. People who have allergies to milk, soy, and wheat run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. The product is packaged in 16-ounce clear plastic bags with a resealable opening. The product labels do not include any codes or expiration dating.No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recall was initiated after labeling omissions were discovered. Production of the product has been suspended until the FDA and Wally's Nut House are certain that the problem has been corrected.
Consumers who have purchased 16 ounce packages of Tailgate Crunch Mix, Sweet Cajun Heat Mix, Country Western Mix, Cranberry Raisin Mix, Party Mix, Hot 'n Spicy Mix, and Louisiana Cajun Mix are urged to contact Wally's Nut House for resolution. 

Consumers with questions may contact Wally's Nut House at 1-800-748-7041 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

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RECALL IMPORTANT TO CELIACS/CASEIN-FREE: Better Made Snack Foods

Since those who must follow gluten-free diets often must follow casein-free, lactose-free, dairy free diets as well, information about non-gluten recalls can also be important to health. On May 30, 2010, Better Made Snack Foods of Detroit, Michigan is issuing a voluntary recall only of their Better Made 3-ounce Original Potato Sticks because it may contain undeclared dairy. 

People who have allergies to dairy run the risk of an allergic reaction. The product comes in a 3-ounce package with a UPC# 0-41633-01203-9, with an expiration date of July 23rd on the front with a time stamp that has the first seven digits that read 0706112.No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem. The recall was initiated after it was discovered the product containing dairy was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of dairy. Consumers who have purchased 3-ounce packages of Better Made Original Potato Sticks are asked to call the Better Made Hotline for a refund at 800/409-9427. 

 

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Friday, June 4, 2010

GLUTEN FREE SALADS FOR BEAUTIFUL WEIGHT-LOSS MEALS

If you are following a gluten-free diet because of celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, you may have noticed that, despite publicity to the contrary, a gluten-free diet is no free pass to weight loss. In fact, many who begin the diet experience just the opposite. In a search for tasty replacements for the now forbidden wheat flour, more carbs than ever are often consumed. Sometimes gluten-free sweets (illogical, but by no means rare) become substitutes for the simple breadstuffs that are no longer allowed. If you've put on some pounds during your transition from gluten-eating to gluten-free, you are not alone. There are forums and online groups for members of Weight Watchers or NutriSystem who must eat only gluten-free foods. Even if you're not in the mood to join a formal weight loss group, there are many steps you can take on your own to be better prepared for the upcoming summer swimsuit season. Start by adding more salads to your meals.


Raw vegetables can be a useful core of any effective diet, partly because of their high water and fiber content, but mention that fact to a potential dieter and you'll hear complaints that they've eaten all the rabbit food they intend to in one lifetime. First, take the time to make the salads as visually enticing as they can be. Those heart and four-leaf clover cutouts in the salads pictured above? Simple cookie cutters were used to dress up those color-coordinated vegetable melanges.


Start using trips to your local farmers market as opportunities to find unusual varieties of vegetables you know or vegetables you've never tasted before. For example, place one of these purple peppers in front of the"rabbit food"  whiners and they might sing a different tune.   


Here's another way to add new colors to your salads. These are interesting cucumbers. There is nothing wrong with them.They are not unripe. They are an unusual strain which remains this pale yellow color. Lemon cukes. Fascinating.


Apart from their lovely marbled exterior, these tomatoes hold a secret--they're hollow, bred for stuffing. What will they think of next?