Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sesame Edamame Salad

I have been eating a lot of edamame. I don't normally eat a lot of soy, but edmame (steamed or boiled soy beans) are a favorite snack on the South Beach Diet (especially during Phase 1) because they contains fiber and protein and are easy to travel with. I was a little tired of eating edamame plain so I decided to turn these humble little beans into a simple side dish with more complex flavors. What I ended up with was a dish that would be a wonderful compliment to a chicken or tofu stirfry, miso-ginger grilled fish, or sashimi and brown rice, as well as other dishes that reflect the use of Chinese or Japanese seasonings. It can also be used as a condiment of sorts, to sprinkle over the top of fish or meat. This flavorful vegan salad is high in protein and fiber, and contains no added sugars. It is suitable as an appetizer as well as a side dish. I'm a big fan of the flavors and textures of this dish and I guess my mother is, too, because I had to keep swatting her hand away from the bowl. I can tell I will be making it again and again. I thought it would last me at least two meals, but I wolfed the whole bowl down. This recipe is easy to double if you're cooking for more than one or two people.

Notes on ingredients: By the by, my partner discovered pre-shelled frozen edamame at her grocery store. It's made by Dr Praeger's, of all companies! (They are a favorite for kosher gluten-free goodies such as fish sticks and potato pancakes) I have been unable to find them anywhere else, and they're not yet listed on their website, but check your health food store or kosher grocery for them. Next time I'll use these, as they'll spare me 10 minutes of squishing the beans out of their pods. As far as rice vinegar is concerned, the brand I prefer for this dish is Eden Foods Organic Brown Rice Vinegar.


[ Vegan / Dairy-Free / Pareve / Gluten-Free ]

1/2 cup shelled edamame
2 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp unsweetened brown rice vinegar or white rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame seeds

If the edamame you use are frozen, defrost them. Mix in a small bowl with soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Adjust sesame oil to taste. For stronger flavor, marinate overnight. In a pan over low heat, toast the sesame seeds just until they start to turn golden. Immediately turn off heat, and remove directly from pan to the top of the edamame. Stir slightly and serve.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Spicy Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens: A Gluten-Free Vegan South Beach Recipe

Changes are afoot around these parts. As anti-diet as I am on principle, I have chosen to embark on a new project - Kicking my major addiction to sugar and high-glycemic carbs. I've chosen to use the South Beach Diet as the framework for doing this. The general idea is that you start with a two week period (Phase 1) without grains, fruit, potatoes, sugar and other high-glycemic and high-carbohydrate foods in order to rebalance the blood sugar and get the body stopping craving high-sugar foods. This phase includes eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, with lots of vegetables and beans and lean protein and nuts and good fats. This is followed by Phases 2 and 3 which more or less involve gradually reintroducing whole grains and fruit (and, optionally, occasional small amounts of sugar) into the diet a little at a time until you reach an equilibrium that works for your body - In other words, until you find a way of eating where you're incorporating good carbohydrates into your diet while losing weight and fending off the sugar/bad carb cravings. It's neither low-fat nor low-carbohydrate, yet somehow it has worked for nearly everyone I know who's tried it. So when I made a commitment to losing weight and eating healthier for 2008 (a renewal of my Rosh Hashanah resolution - a second start is the advantage to having two New Years!) I realized this was worth exploring. I want to lose weight, but more than that I want my blood sugar levels to be stable, I want to keep myself from becoming insulin resistant since it runs in my family, and I want to stop craving foods that are addictive to my mind and body and bad for my health.

I have always struggled with inability to eat certain foods in moderation - Foods with refined sugar, potatoes, or "white" flours. As a gluten-free eater, "white flour" has taken on a new meaning - I now use that term to mean all the flours that are high-glycemic and/or not made of whole grains, such as tapioca flour, corn starch / flour, white rice flour, and potato starch. I will hopefully be able to find some kind of moderation with these types of ingredients in the future, but I have to start out by eliminating them.

I haven't been blogging much because in the past months I have been eating more healthfully and, frankly, I haven't thought that anyone would be interested in reading recipes that aren't gluten-free revisions of traditional gluten-y baked goods and other starchy favorites. The recipes people view on my blog most frequently are my breads and my cakes. The majority of the gluten-free cooks who e-mail me aren't interested in learning how to eat healthier now that they're gluten-free - They want to eat the same way they always did (what is called the "Standard American Diet" [SAD]). They want gluten-free versions of processed, refined, starchy, sugary comfort foods. So for a while I considered calling it a day. But I know that even if my posts on delicious and healthy recipes such as my Quinoa-Cannelini Burgers don't generate the comments or excitement from readers that my old recipes did, there is an audience for healthier gluten-free cooking. I know this from the fact that when I started blogging, most gluten-free bloggers were posting recipes for brownies, breads, and deep fried vittles - Whereas recently I've noticed several other gluten-free bloggers writing about transitioning to healthier ways of eating. I know that I do get e-mails thanking me for posting healthy alternatives. And I also know this blog is not just for my readers, it is for me - A document of the changes and growth in my own eating and cooking. So this is the next chapter in the life of Gluten-Free Bay, and I hope you will join me as I find new ways to approach food.

To kick off here is a recipe I whipped up last night when I needed a healthy and filling pareve dish that I could eat with both dairy and meat meals. It's great for Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. It's vegan, it's nutritious and it's full of spice. The beans and greens are fabulously smoky thanks to the smoked sweet paprika. Best of all, it used up my very last collard green harvest - I dug the last collards out of a pile of snow the other day. There is nothing like harvesting fresh vegetables in the dead of a northeast winter!


[Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free / Pareve / Vegan / Soy-Free]

5 cups collard greens, rinsed and chopped or shredded
2 15-oz. cans of black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 large poblano or anaheim chili pepper, seeds removed, minced
1/3 cup wine (red or white)
2/3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or deep frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sautee until translucent. Add the garlic and pepper and all of the herbs and spices except the salt. Stirring frequently, cook the spices in the oil for several minutes. Add the collard greens and saute, coating the greens thoroughly in the spices and oil. Sautee for 5 minutes or until the greens begin to wilt. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cover. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the greens are tender. Stir regularly to make sure ingredients don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Serve hot, as a main dish or a side dish. Can be topped with sour cream, Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, or vegan cashew sour cream.