Review: buckwheat

Why buckwheat?

I decided to give it a try after seeing it used in a recipe as a sort of salad garnish, like croutons, only not.

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When I finally found it (my region is not known for variety in its cuisine) I saw that I had 2 options – toasted or untoasted. Since the untoasted bag was about half the price of the toasted, I went for that one.

Nutrition info

Reading the label: per 100 g, dry.

corn vs wheat

In my review of corn pasta, I used cronometer to figure out the amount of dietary fiber, since it wasn’t listed on the package. In order to check to see how accurate cronometer may or may not be on that score, I entered buckwheat into cronometer, too. It says that 100 g of dry buckwheat contains 10.3 g fiber. So, obviously, it can vary and the numbers to the left are specific to the brand that I purchased.

Performance

wp-1469095778939The first thing I wanted to do with it was to try it like I’d seen in the recipe – sprinkled on salad. So, I toasted them in a pan on the stove over low-med heat for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure they’d toast evenly.

It smelled so good – like fresh-baked bread!! And they added the most wonderful crunch to the salad. I know umami is meant to apply to flavor, but if it can be applied to texture, then it perfectly describes what toasted buckwheat adds to a salad!

Next, I wanted to try it as a cooked grain, like rice, so I added 1 part buckwheat to 2 parts boiling water, turned the heat to low and let it cook for 30 minutes. I didn’t add any flavoring because I wanted to understand the taste of the buckwheat by itself before using it in other ways. It has a clean taste, a good foundation for any flavors you want to add to it. I think if I’d toasted the buckwheat before putting it in the water, it would perhaps have a slightly nutty flavor, but I’ll have to try it before I say for sure.

But what struck me, again, was the texture! Even cooked like rice, I still really love the texture of buckwheat!

When it was done, I added some cooked mushrooms and a little dressing, and ate some of it hot. Nice. Then I set it aside to taste it cold – I maybe liked it even better cold! I think this will be a really nice grain for tabbouleh-style cold salads.

If you haven’t tried buckwheat yet, I recommend you hop to it! It’s my new favorite thing.

Are you a fan of buckwheat? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

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Review: corn pasta

Why corn pasta?wp-1469009419913.jpg

Variety! And because corn pasta is a nutritious whole-grain alternative to regular pasta, (suitable for people with Celiac’s). Usually, I go for whole wheat pasta because it’s the cheapest alternative where I live, but last weekend, I sprang for the corn stuff. Here’s how it turned out…

Nutrition info

Reading the labels: corn vs whole wheat, per 100 g, dry.

corn vs wheat

Did you notice that little asterisk * next to dietary fiber? That’s because I’m a little unsure about this one. Since the information for dietary fiber isn’t listed on the package, I entered it into cronometer. According to cronometer, corn pasta has a slight edge over whole wheat. However, my corn pasta is a mix of 80% corn and 20% rice – rice pasta being much lower in fiber content – so in my case, they’re probably about even. Of course, that’s all a big guess.

Performance

I thought that this bright yellow corn pasta would be pretty on the plate. In the end, the color cooked out of it, and it looked like a regular white pasta – that’s good news if you’re trying to get a skeptic to eat it – you can serve it to them and they’ll be none the wiser until you tell them, especially since it also tastes quite ‘normal’. It didn’t stand out as having a particularly corn flavor, and I found it to be roundly fulfilling, if slightly lighter than whole wheat pasta.

A note about cooking corn pasta

While it performed well in the pasta bowl, I was underwhelmed with the cooking process. With ‘regular’ pasta and whole wheat pasta alike, you have to stir it in the beginning to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, but, once it gets rolling, you can leave it alone until it’s time to drain. Not so with corn pasta – the more it cooked, the more it wanted to stick to the bottom, so you have to stir it consistently during cooking.

It also created loads of foam. I suppose that’s neither here nor there, but it’s just one more reason why you have to keep stirring it while it’s cooking.

Overall, I like it but I won’t go out of my way to get it over the cheaper and easier-to-find (in my area, anyway) whole wheat pasta. For people who have to avoid wheat, it’s a perfectly reasonable substitution other than the hassle of constant stirring.

Have you had corn pasta? If so, what did you think?

Saturn Peaches, Beet Greens & Corn Pasta

Breakfast_textI don’t usually buy Saturn peaches because they’re more expensive than “normal” peaches, but they were on sale this week, making them the cheapest option! Yay! I ate all of them for breakfast this morning.peaches-1446378_640

I’m counting 1 Saturn peach as half of a serving of fruit because they’re pretty small.

Checklist items: berries, 3 other fruits (4 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textI’ve got to take advantage of all the beet greens in my garden! I can’t seem to eat them fast enough, so some are going into the freezer, but I want to eat as many as I can while they’re fresh out of the garden. Today, I’m going for a beans & greens salad.

  • wp-1468826940639.jpg1/2 c. cannellini
  • 1/2 c. garbanzos
  • 1/2 c. peas
  • 1/2 c. yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 c. cucumber, diced
  • 1 c. raw beet greens, chiffonaded (my favorite way to cut greens, partly because it’s so easy!)
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds
  • 2 basil leaves, also chiffonaded
  • My Basic Dressing

Throw everything together in a bowl. I refrigerated it for 1 hour to let the flavors really blend together, but you could eat it right away.

Checklist items: 3 beans, 1 greens, 2 other vegetables, nuts, spices (8 out of 18 servings)


dinner_textI’m trying a new kind of pasta today. It’s made from corn & rice and it’s bright yellow, so I think it’ll make a pretty plate. (Read my review of the corn pasta here.)

 

Follow the instructions in the link above with 3 simple changes: add flaxseed to the alfredo along with a little extra water, use corn pasta in place of whole wheat pasta, and beet greens in place of peas.

Checklist items: 2 cruciferous, 1 greens, flaxseed, spices, 3 whole grains (8 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything.

In addition, we had 1 extra serving each of cruciferous and spices.

Gooseberries, Corn Tortillas & Peanut Butter

Breakfast_textSo, I had kind of a strange breakfast this morning. It was pouring rain and I wanted something rich and filling. One of the yummiest flavor combinations is peanut butter & banana!

  • peanut-butter-350099_6401 banana
  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • corn tortilla

Ok, so I know it’s odd to use a corn tortilla, but it’s the only kind of ‘bread’ that I have on-hand. And it made a pretty neat little roll-up! I spread the peanut butter on the tortilla, sprinkled the flaxseed on the peanut butter, then placed the whole banana on it and just rolled it up! It took less than 2 minutes to put together. At first, I thought I would easily eat 2 of these, but after one I felt totally satiated.

Checklist items: 1 other fruit, flaxseed, 1 nuts, 1 whole grains (4 out of 18 servings)


snack_textGooseberries are new to me. I tried them for the first time just yesterday! It’s early in the season, so they’re still a little bit sour, but I don’t mind that. I went out after the rain stopped and picked some right off the bush in my garden. If you’ve never picked fresh gooseberries – beware!! These suckers are thorny, and it might be a better idea to buy themwp-1468403922890.jpg if you don’t like the sight of blood. Lol.

  • 1/2 c. gooseberries
  • 2 peaches

Checklist items: berries, 2 other fruits (3 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textWrap number 2 for today. For 2 simple reasons – it’s super fast & easy to throw them together, and you can use anything you’ve got lying around. Oh, and I LOVE corn tortillas!!!

Instructions:

  1. put lettuce down first
  2. then beans
  3. before pouring on the dressing, I wrap it half-way so that I can put on enough without it spilling all over the counter

Checklist items: 1 beans, 1 greens, 1 whole grains (3 out of 18 servings)


 

dinner_textMy partner loves when I make coconut curry. I don’t do it often because of the saturated fat in coconut cream, but today seems like a good day for this little treat.

 

  • wp-1468413512588.jpg1/2 c. red rice (cooked)
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 c. peas
  • 1/2 c. cauliflower
  • 1 c. spinach (raw)
  • 1/2 c. carrots
  • 1/2 c. yellow bell pepper
  • 1/3 onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced (optional)
  • 1 T. fresh ginger
  • curry powder
  • garam masala
  • coconut cream*
  • vegetable stock/bouillon or water

This can be a one-pot meal if you start out with already-cooked rice. In that case, just add the rice after you’ve turned off the heat so that it doesn’t over-cook. If the rice is cooking at the same time as everything else, then mix just before serving.

*If you prefer to stick with a fat-free meal, just substitute tomato paste for the coconut cream and make a nice red curry instead.

Checklist items: 2 beans, cruciferous, 1 greens, 2 other vegetables, spices, 1 whole grains (8 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

18 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum the recommended servings of everything, plus a little extra veg if you included the onion & garlic in the curry.

Charentais Melon, Cauliflower, & Kamikaze Lettuce

Breakfast_text

It’s been hot the last few days, so I’m more excited about eating melons than anything else. The Charentais melon is a common & inexpensive variety wp-1468243086441.jpghere in France. It’s a kind of cantaloupe, but I find it to be lighter and more refreshing than the cantaloupe that I was used to in the U.S. I like it much better, actually.

  • 1/2 c. cherries
  • 2 c. cut-up Charentais melon
  • 1/4 c. dates

Checklist items: berries, 3 other fruits (4 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textYou already know I love my salads. Especially with red-leafed lettuce. I’ve been waiting on a Red Kamikaze Batavia in my garden. It’s not quite ready – the red has just started to develop, but I’m impatient, so I’m taking some today anyway. wp-1468244033377.jpg

  • 2 c. Kamikaze batavia lettuce
  • 1/2 c. chickpeas
  • 1/4 c. tomato
  • 1/4 c. red bell pepper
  • 1/4 c. corn
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 c. sunflower seeds, toasted
  • Chef AJ’s House Dressing

Checklist items: 1 beans, 2 greens, 1 1/2 other vegetables, flaxseed, nuts (6 1/2 out of 18 servings)


dinner_text

I have a weird relationship with cauliflower. I love the way it tastes even though I’m not a huge fan of the way it smells. However you feel about it, it makes a great alfredo – a dish that I loved as a kid.

  • wp-1468240819121.jpg1 heaping c. cauliflower florets
  • 2 T unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 sm. clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 c. peas
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked whole grain pasta

Instructions:

  1. Boil the cauliflower florets until tender, about 5 minutes & then drain
  2. Saute garlic
  3. Add cooked cauliflower & garlic with milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic & onion powders, and salt & pepper to a blender and blend until smooth
  4. Add cooked pasta, alfredo sauce, & peas to a pot and heat through

Checklist items: 2 beans, 1 cruciferous, 1 other vegetables, spices, 3 whole grains (8 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

18.5 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything.

In addition, we had 1/2 an extra serving of other vegetables or whole grains depending on how you want to count the corn.

Adzuki, Mint & Broccoli

Breakfast_textA friend of mine from Shanghai recently told me how to make a couple of different bean porridges, and I’m giving the first one a shot today! It’s simple, but must be made ahead! I recommend making large batches.

  • wp-1467207822899.jpg1/4 c. barley
  • 1/2 c. adzuki beans
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1-2 T maple syrup
  • 1 T ground flaxseed

Instructions:

  1. soak beans & barley together for 4-5 hours
  2. boil together for 2-3 hours (depending on how mushy you want it)
  3. at the end, mix in raisins, walnuts, and maple syrup & flaxseed

Checklist items: 2 beans, 1 other fruits, flaxseed, nuts, 1 whole grains (6 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textOne of my favorite summer dishes, and practically the only thing I ate while I was doing my Master’s thesis: Lebanese tabbouleh! The abundance of fresh herbs make this dish wonderful.

  • wp-1467207406055.jpg1/2 c. cooked bulgur (prepare as instructed on package)
  • 1 1/2 T aquafaba (the liquid in your can or jar of garbanzos)
  • 1 c.fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 bunches)
  • 1/4 c. fresh mint
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Get ready!

  1. to get 1/2 c. cooked bulgur, you should use a/b 1/4 c. raw
  2. finely chop the herbs & tomato
  3. peel, core & finely dice the cucumber
  4. mix all the ingredients together and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to develop flavor
  5. YUM!!

Checklist items: 2 other vegetables, spices, 1 whole grains (4 out of 18 servings)


snack_textGotta get them berries in sometime! It may as well be now. I’m going out to the garden to grab some raspberries.

 

  • 1/2 c. raspberries
  • 2 c. papaya

Checklist items: berries, 2 other fruits (3 out of 18 servings)


dinner_text

Have you noticed yet that I have a page dedicated to recipes? You’ll find my favorite Hummus recipe there, as well as the recipe for Nasturtium Pesto.

This is a 3-dish meal!

  1. mix the pasta & pesto, serve
  2. mix the greens & dressing, serve
  3. dip the broccoli in the hummus

Checklist items: 1 beans, cruciferous, 2 greens, 2 whole grains (6 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

19 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything.

In addition, we had 1 extra serving of whole grains.

Coco Beans, Kiwi & Mushrooms

Breakfast_textI love kiwifruit. Some people eat the skin, but I just can’t get myself to do that. I’m sure I’m missing out on some extra fiber & vitamins, but I’m okay with that for now.

  • kiwi-fruit-580332_6402 kiwifruit
  • 1 banana
  • 1 peach
  • 1/2 c. cherries
  • 1/4 c. nuts of choice

Instructions:

  1. cut each fruit into bite-sized pieces
  2. mix together (or eat nuts separately)
  3. nom nom

Checklist items: berries, 3 other fruits, nuts (5 out of 18 servings)


lunch_textOnce upon a time, the idea of a bean salad would have really turned me off. Now it’s something I love! I recently discovered the small white Coco bean, popularly used in the French dish cassoulet.

  • wp-1467617963864.jpg1 1/2 c. pre-cooked beans of choice (I used a 6-bean mix including cannellini, coco, kidney, adzuki, garbanzo & green beans)
  • 1 c. kale, chopped
  • 1/4 c. parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. onion, diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 T maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Blanch green beans in boiling water for 3 minutes
  2. Drain and rinse other beans
  3. Mix everything together and let stand in refrigerator for at least half an hour before eating. It’s probably best to make a batch ahead of time.

Checklist items: 3 beans, 1 greens, 1/2 other vegetables, spices (5 1/2 out of 18 servings)


dinner_textIt’s pizza night!! Definitely one of my favorites. If you’d told me one year ago that the best pizza ever was cheese-less, I would have called you crazy. I’ve tried different variations of this recipe, but I always come back to the original because it’s perfect how it is, and any changes I’ve tried to make have left me ever-so-slightly less happy with it. At first you might think I’ve made a typo on the amount of mushrooms but, I assure you, I did not.

Note: unlike most of my recipes, this is for two people. Or you can eat the other half cold the next day; it’s just as good! The checklist items below are per person, or for 1/2 the pizza.

  • wp-1467614411446.jpg250 g. mushrooms, sliced thin (I use white mushrooms the size of my palm, which don’t fit well into a measuring cup even after I’ve sliced them, but the internet machine says this amount is 2 c.)
  • 100 g. (1 c.) red onion, sliced thin
  • 62 g. (generous half-cup) red or yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 62 g. (generous half-cup) sun-dried tomatoes, drained and diced
  • 2/3 c. olive marinara
  • 2 T ground flaxseed
  • oregano, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
  • pizza dough- you can buy ready-made or make your own. We make our own using 250 g whole wheat flour
  • garlic powder, to taste (optional)
  • 3 c. arugula

Instructions:

  1. The key to a properly-cooked pizza is to slice your vegetables as thin as you can. That goes for the mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion. The sun-dried tomato you can just cut into small chunks, a/b the size of a dime.
  2. Once the crust is rolled out, spread the olive marinara over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border for the crust, and sprinkle with oregano, flaxseed (& cayenne, if using).
  3. For the vegetables: bell pepper goes down first, then a ridiculous layer of mushrooms. This part takes a little bit of patience, because you need to overlap them in order to make a layer that completely covers the pizza, except for the crust.
  4. Sprinkle the onions evenly and, finally, the sun-dried tomatoes.
  5. A nice finishing touch is to sprinkle garlic powder around the crust.
  6. Bake on the bottom level of the oven, at 500 F (just under 270 C), until the crust is golden brown, the mushrooms start to shrivel a little, and the onions are turning brown – around 15 minutes.
  7. Just before serving, cover the pizza with arugula

Checklist items: cruciferous, 1 greens, 4 other vegetables, flaxseed, spices, 3 whole grains (11 out of 18 servings)


Taking account of the day:

21 1/2 servings in total.

We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything.

In addition, we had 2 1/2 extra servings of other vegetables plus an extra serving of spices.