Give quiche a chance: Black olive, sun dried tomato, spinach, zucchini, leek, mint quiche in a sweet potato crust

There is only one thing that I know when it comes to food – eat fresh, whole real food. But even with whole, fresh, real food, there can be problems. I learned about the FODMAP over the last few weeks through a friend. Some people can’t eat real whole foods that have short chain carbohydrates without seriously upsetting their digestive system. That includes foods like garlic, onions, avocado, cauliflower, nuts, seeds and so much my recipes and diet are dependent on. With a FODMAP, meat is not a problem –  but meat is a food that my own digestive system does not process and that I choose not to eat. Does that mean that someone with a diet on a FODMAP and a vegetarian can’t share a flavorful beautiful meal? Of course not – especially when that sparks creativity in me using the ingredients we share in common. I came up with a black olive, sun dried tomato, spinach, zucchini, leek, mint quiche in a sweet potato crust. Topped with either feta or an almond based “parmesan.” No processed foods, no short chain carbohydrates, no cream or lactose or flour.

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He who goes to bed hungry dreams of pancakes: flourless, dairy-free whole food protein pancakes with coconut milk date “syrup”

I absolutely love pancakes. I moved away from beautiful fluffy buttermilk pancakes to oat, almond cottage cheese pancakes – protein packed, no refined sugars or flours. Within the realm of flour/grain free pancakes I see recipes for pancakes made of banana, eggs and a  dollop of almond butter…but these are full of sugar. So I set out to make a whole food pancake, sweetened with only a little banana and date, loaded with protein and fiber. The winner was a butternut squash, almond butter, banana pancake sweetened with whole dates and topped with a coconut milk, date vanilla “syrup.” And what perfect timing! This was not planned (honestly!), but I just found out that today Tuesday, February 9 2016 is pancake day. Pancakes are in the air.

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You had me at pizza: Flourless, dairy-free pizza with a cauliflower pine nut crust and nut-based faux mozz

I need pizza. I really do. But the Whole30 means no pizza for mama on our Friday night pizza night (even though we make the best, fresh from scratch, whole wheat or gluten free home made pizza). What really defines pizza is the crust and the cheese, so really I am SOOL while on Whole30, but I can make something that is compliant and kinda like pizza. Now if you are looking for something that truly tastes like pizza, made from whole ingredients without some fancy machinery and lots of time, please tell me the secret because in my opinion, you can replace the crust or replace the cheese but not both at the same time. When I am giving myself a break from Whole30 and eating dairy or gluten every so often, I place the faux cheese on a real crust or real cheese on faux crust, and voila, healthier pizza that tastes like pizza. This is a very tasty Whole30 compliant oooey gooey dairy-free faux mozz on a flourless, gluten-free, dairy-free cauliflower crust. It is tasty and satisfying and hits the spot on Friday night pizza night.

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Saag it to me: Indian fusion breakfast with chard-spinach-almond veg, sweet potato hash, eggs and raw almond parmesan

I have had a fix on saag lately. It all came about while in France. I was asked to make a an Indian green side dish for Christmas dinner that would complement everyone else’s fish main course. Saag seemed to be the simplest dish for me to make last minute and that did not require me to purchase unusual spices that would require a specialty store – and Indian/Pakastani restaurants or stores for products are not common in France as they are in many states and cities in the US. In fact, to my surprise, much of what I saw listed or heard as being referred to as an Indian dish – such as a samosa – did not contain a single ingredient that is found in traditional Indian cuisine, but rather North African/Middle Eastern cuisine. So I knew I could make something simple and Indian inspired. And unlike traditional saag, I added a boost of protein and texture with almonds. It was so good – I put it on everything I ate. But the best application was brunch – in a dish of sweet potato hash, saag and an egg over easy with a raw almond parmesan.

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It’s the great pumpkin cheezcake: Spiced lemon pumpkin cashew nut “cheesecake” with nut date crust

So one of the best parts about being married to an expat is that you get to go visit their family in their home country every so often. Every other year, around Christmas time, we go to France. While the food in France elicits nothing short of a mouthgasm, around the holidays with the multiple family parties and birthdays, it is rich, decadent and overwhelming.  I try to make a meal or a dish here and there to lighten the fare. I don’t speak French so I find sharing experiences and communicating through food a beautiful way to express love. I will make them food they will be pleased with because of simple tastes and aesthetic beauty – like apple roses that I upscale to make them unique. But I am Indian and I like spice and complex flavors full of good healthy ingredients – even for sweets (no flour, no refined sugar, no soy…whole food ingredients). So I came up with a spiced  lemon pumpkin cashew nut “cheesecake” with nut date crust.
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If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake, so I made a raw vegan strawberry brownie tart instead

It was 4 PM. My husband called to tell me that he was stuck in traffic and that new neighbors were coming over for dinner at 6 – he thought he planned enough food but was not sure. I unable to host people for dinner and not have enough food – it just goes against my nature. I opened the fridge and strawberries fell out everywhere thanks to our recent strawberry harvest. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate covered strawberries, but I was really craving brownies…so I decided to make a nut-based vegan chocolate brownie tart with strawberry lemon cashew creme – gluten, dairy and soy-free using dates for sweetness.

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C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me

I had a crummy day.

I spent most of the day in the car. 6 hours driving in the rain to and from a meeting that took only 2 hours. I brought my my meals with me knowing I was going to be on the road and in meetings and would likely not make good decisions about food if I did not plan ahead. But I did not think about a snack or treat while driving. And with the traffic I was in a not so great mood. What I really wanted was a cookie.

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Butternut + nutbutter

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My family is sick and I am starting to feel a tickle in my throat so I thought it was time for soup. There is nothing more warming and comforting than a curried spicy butternut squash soup. But there is so much more that this versatile squash can be used for.

Every winter our CSA box is loaded with butternut squash.  A squash related to pumpkin, low in calories (45 calories per 100 grams or about 1 cup) loaded with poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins A and B (folates, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, etc), minerals (iron, zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus) and dietary fiber.

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