Our trip to London in October was one I certainly will never forget. Traveling halfway around the world with my love, without any major plans beyond knowing where to stay, a list of restaurants as dishes I had to have and a few sights that were “musts” and not much more. Such a wonderful way to travel.
Staying in the Shoreditch neighborhood in London was the perfect place for us. The grit of a big city matched with the deeply rooted history of London, it was the perfect edgy urban vibe that we love! The streets of “The Ditch”, as locals call it, are lined with charming cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, beautiful street art tucked into the most unsuspecting corners – it’s got that cutting edge vibe that juxtaposes the proper bits of London, just so perfectly.
Being in London I was able to safely eat gluten-free easier than probably any other city I have ever visited and the food was incredible – I was stunned, not at all what I had expected nor remembered from my trip to the UK over 15 years ago. I plan to write up a post sharing some of my personal favorites from the Trip, but in the meantime I wanted to share my single most-favorite dish from all of my UK travels, shoot maybe all of my European travels, even.
Ghee is a kitchen staple around here. For the longest time I was buying it, and I still do in a pinch, but as I discovered the cost efficiency and simplicity of making it at home, I have made this part of my DIY repertoire.
For those unfamiliar, ghee is a clarified butter, of sorts, that has been cooked down for some time, removing any moisture, milk solids and impurities. What remains is a pure and delicious butter oil, that has turned a beautiful golden color, it’s taste and flavor are slightly sweet and nutty. Ghee brings an aroma, taste and flavor a lot like butter, but even better. The difference between clarified butter and ghee is ghee’s lengthier cooking process, to remove all the moisture and the milk solids are browned in the fat and then strained out, bringing the slightly nutty taste. Ghee has a longer shelf life, due to all the moisture being removed.
Ghee is a wonderful option for those who are lactose or casein intolerant and want to enjoy the taste of butter. Ghee is also clearly a much better option than those scary hydrogenated oil-filled margarines and other highly processed vegan spreads. It does not burn, unless heated excessively, so it’s a wonderful option for stir fries, sautéing, frying, roasting, sauces, ettc. It’s also delicious as a spread, on toast, pancakes, scones, over rice and more. It can also be used on the body, as an oil for massage, as a base for healing herbal treatments, for burns, skin rashes, etc.
In India, ghee is a sacred and celebrated symbol of nourishment and healing, especially in daily rituals. It is also used in every day cooking. Ayurvedic physicians celebrate this liquid gold as being important to health and well-being, balance and vitality. If you don’t wish to make your own, ghee is usually found in the ethnic section of any big grocery store, in most Indian/South Asian stores or online.
Always make ghee with high-quality grass-fed organic butter. Cheap butter contains a lot of water and chemicals and it tends to burn faster. Due to the reduction and straining process, always start with 25% more butter than the amount of clarified butter desired. 1 pound of butter = approximately 1 1/2 cups ghee.
The Benefits of Choosing Ghee:
Rich Butter Taste without the Lactose or Casein. Made from butter ghee has the buttery flavor, but the milk solids have been removed, so if you are lactose or casein free, enjoy without issue.
Ghee has a high smoke point. 485ºF. You can cook and fry with ghee and it will not burn nor will it break down into free radicals, like so many other cooking oils can.
Ghee doesn’t spoil easily. Without the presence of milk fat and water, this makes ghee shelf stable. If you desire, it can be stored at room temperature rather then refrigeration. Ghee will last a couple months in an air-tight container at room temperature. If you aren’t sure if any moisture or milk solids remain, you can certainly play it safe and store in the fridge, to maximize it’s shelf life. That’s generally what I do.
Ghee is rich in fat soluable vitamins A D and E. If you have gluten sensitivity, leaky gut, IBS, Crohn’s or certain pancreatic disorders, you may have a problem absorbing vitamin A. By using ghee for cooking, and as a replacement for butter, you can increase your intake. Vitamin D can be made in the body, after exposure to sunlight, but obviously in the colder winter months is can be challenging for us to make enough. Ghee benefits the body by improving moisture and contains vitamin E, which is an antioxidant whose role is to repair damaged skin, balance hormones, improve vision and help to balance cholesterol. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with fat and stored in the gastrointestinal tract — and they are essential to maintaining a healthy metabolism and various biochemical functions in the body. (1)
Ghee is also rich is K2 and Conjugated Linoleum Acid. Studies show K2 is better for building bones than calcium and proper levels of K2 can help fight tooth decay, bone loss and aid in the fight against the calcification of arteries. CJA is antioxidant with anti-viral properties, when sourced from grass-fed cows. Studies indicate that it may help to reduce tumors, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and actually lower body fat.(2)
Like coconut oil, ghee is rich is medium chain fatty acids, which are quickly absorbed directly to the liver and used as energy. This quick burn can actually lead to weight loss.
Ghee and butter are rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid great for protection against fungal infections and aids in colon health. It’s been shown to support healthy insulin levels, is an anti-inflammatory, and may be helpful for individuals suffering from IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (3)
Ghee Reduces Inflammation. Ghee’s levels of butyrate play a role in reducing inflammation in the digestive tract and throughout the body. In Ayurvedic practice, ghee benefits the body by creating a more alkaline system that overall reduces inflammation by reducing the leukotriene secretion and reducing prostaglandin in the body(4)
Do you keep with your standard, classic, traditional Thanksgiving dishes or do you like mix it up a little every year? I generally stick with the classics – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and of course, pumpkin pie – these are non-negotiable for me. From there, I like to have a little fun with the other sides. I mix it up with the salad and the green beans and I always try to do something a little unexpected with the squash.
This year, I am not hosting Thanksgiving, we are mixing it up a bit and headed to Mexico, to celebrate with our very good friends, Dan and Debbie, and their family. I am definitely planning to bring a few classic gluten-free dishes to share, but I eagerly await to see what else they may need and I will offer from there.
Can someone please help me figure out how to slow down time? As I type up this post, I am sitting at my parent’s house in Buffalo, N.Y. We’re here visiting for a week, enjoying family and friends and this cool fall weather – a far cry from the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing in California. I seriously don’t think there is any thing in the world that makes me happier than being around my family, smelling the amazing scents of home cooked food, spending time with my niece and nephew, laughing my ass off with good friends, visiting my favorite yoga studio and all of that good stuff that being home brings!
This trip has been an absolute whirlwind already and it is flying by so quickly! It’s just not enough time. We went to our good friend Dana and JP’s wedding Saturday night and we had our own little party yesterday, in hopes of seeing as many of our favorite people as we could over the weekend. It was wonderful. My heart is so full right now! This place will forever feel like home to me and give me a feeling that no other place in the world can.
I so happy to have my friend Leanne of Healthful Pursuit joining us today as our guest blogger, with this incredible porridge recipe that is not only vegan, paleo and gluten-free but also safe for the candida diet. Leanne is an amazing positive-energy, filled beauty of a woman, that I am so honored to have known now for many years. Now that we are both on the West Coast and each working on our yoga teacher trainings, I have a feeling there will be even more collaborations between the two of us. Take it away Leanne!
I’ve made something for you.
Something that just about everyone in your life can enjoy no matter their food allergies, sensitivities or eating style.
Because I believe that it is possible for women to live a liberated life on a restricted diet.
Vegan, paleo, gluten-free, candida diet, you name it, they can have this porridge and most of the recipes on my food blog, Healthful Pursuit.
So, preheat your oven, grab a squash, and let’s get making some porridge… masala chai style. Masala Chai Squash Porridge! Read the rest of this entry »
Hello Tasty Yummies readers, its Meg from Beard and Bonnet here! I am happy to be filling in for Beth today while she is fulfilling her dream of becoming a yoga instructor. Way to go Beth, I am so incredibly proud of you.
Confession: curry is my current obsession. I’m not really picky when it comes to eating curry; I like Thai curries, Indian Curry, Red, Green, and Yellow Curry. I love it all, I love it a lot, and I know that Beth does, too. So today I decided to hit up a few of our blogging buddies and round up 50 delicious gluten-free curry recipes to share with you.
There is a little something for everyone in this round up; there are even a few recipes for gluten-free Naan and Sweet Curry Brown Sugar Popcorn. Oh yeah, and even though I write a gluten-free vegetarian blog I know that Beth occasionally posts recipes with meat so I figured what the heck, I’ll even throw in a few of those!
Do you have a favorite curry recipe?
I am back home from our trip to California, we landed late last night and I am feeling insanely invigorated. We spent nearly a week out there, exploring neighborhoods and all the different towns, we went to the beach, we celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary at Disneyland and fell even more in love with everything Southern California has to offer! This was the trip we needed to light that fire under our behinds to get the last few things done before we get our house on the market here in Buffalo and move out west! It is looking like our new home is going be in Long Beach, in a quaint little neighborhood by the beach. We cannot wait to start seriously looking for a house and to get this party started!
We are headed back to California in less than 2 short months for our good friends’ Patrick and Summer’s wedding, so who knows, maybe even by then we will have sold the house and be ready to start the whole process. I really hope so.
Ever since we decided to move out there, I told myself that given we would be living somewhere that has beautiful weather all year long, that I was going to be way more active outdoors. I want to get into running and biking as part of my weekly fitness routine, since both feel like a wonderful compliment to my daily yoga practice. Rather than waiting to get out there to start anew with so many things, I decided on the plane ride home that I was going to get started right away, particularly with the running since I have never really given it a serious shot. I have always found running to be painful and not my favorite way to sneak in exercise. But, the more I have read about running and getting started on a serious plan, it is best to ease your body into it and not try to do too much, too soon, which is probably what I have always done. So, I am going to take advantage of the beautiful spring and summer weather here in Western New York and start my training now, so I can hopefully just hit the ground running (pun intended) whenever we finally get out to the west coast.
Tonight is my first run, I have a good pair of Nike+ running shoes that I bought years ago and only ever wore to the gym, I have a couple of iPhone apps downloaded to help me properly ease into running, so they can tell me when and how I should be running and walking and for how long. I even have a running partner, my hubby, who is ready to get back into running himself. Now, the only thing I have to fear is my annoying low back issues. I tend to keep that all at bay with yoga and an incredible chiropractor, but I am a bit concerned on how the running will affect my back. I have a herniated disc in my low back that is known to cause me issues now and again and from what I have read about running, the pressure and the shock from it can sometimes be a bit hard on that type of injury. Here’s hoping I have strengthened my core and stretched my muscles enough from yoga, that my body can handle it. I really want it to work for me since running seems like the perfect compliment to my lifestyle, especially when we will be living so close to the beach.
My plan, if running and my body can agree on it, is to continue with my daily yoga practice, and getting to at least five 90-minute yoga classes a week, and now adding in 3 days of running. So, every day I will have some type of physical activity going on and on only a couple of days will I have to manage getting to the yoga studio and squeezing in a run, too. Even though yoga doesn’t always have to be a 90-minute thing, I really do prefer to have a practice that is that long and I really enjoy going to the studio. I practice at home on occasion, but I find since I work at home, it can be hard to focus on yoga and not get distracted by everything else around me. That is one thing about running I think I am most drawn to, the change of scenery, being outside and engulfed by nature and the elements and being in control of when, where and how it happens. As long as the weather cooperates and there is a safe and somewhat smooth surface, it seems like you can run virtually anywhere.
Do you like running? Have any tips for someone that is just getting started?
OK, so onto the dip… I made this dip this afternoon as a light snack. With us being gone for a week, I couldn’t wait to get home and get back to eating foods that I prepared. The food is the only downside to traveling for me, eating unprocessed foods that are gluten-free and as often as I can find, also vegetarian, can get a bit tricky when you are away. I did the very best I could and found so many great options, but I still ate so much different than I would ever eat at home. I debated doing a juice cleanse for a couple days after returning home, but with me wanting to start training for running, I didn’t think both were such a good idea, so I decided to start the running and just eat extra light this week. Now that our local farmers market is open for the season, I will definitely be stocking up there on Saturday and doing a lot of juices, smoothies and salads this week. This morning, I made a version of my banana almond butter smoothie for breakfast, adding in a scoop of ground flaxseeds and a scoop of cocoa powder and it kept me full all day. About 3:30pm I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since the smoothie and I had cleaned the whole house and totally unpacked my suitcase. I decided I would make a simple mid-afternoon snack and a creamy white bean dip was calling my name. The bold flavors from the Indian spices were so perfect and subtle and the garlic gave it all a great punch. The white beans made for an incredibly smooth and creamy dip that was delicious on some gluten-free crackers. I wish we had some fresh raw veggies, those would also be great in this dip. That is the other bad thing about traveling, coming home to an empty fridge. If you don’t love garam masala, substitute some yellow curry or another one of your favorite spices. If the heat from the garam masala and the raw garlic is enough, skip the chili powder.
I will check back in tomorrow with a new recipe and to let you know how the running went this evening.
[print_this]Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip – Gluten-free + Vegan
makes about 1 cup of dip
- 1 can white beans
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- dash of chili
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and very roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Add of the ingredients, except the olive oil, to the food processor. Start pureeing and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running, until it is all added. Puree the dip until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator and serve chilled. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I am really obsessed with Thai food. I actually crave the flavors of Thai food quite often. Honestly, if we could go out for Thai food once a week, I would be totally content. However, we really try to not eat out very often, and I also really prefer to know what exactly is in my food. So, what better way to get what you want, then to just make it yourself. I started looking around at different authentic Thai recipes online and quickly learned to be able to really get the authentic flavors, I would need the proper ingredients. I planned to make Pad Thai and this Tom Kha Gai Soup over the weekend so I had to get all of my ingredients in order to do so. Seeing as a couple of the ingredients I was looking for didn’t exist in my regular circle of grocery shopping, this meant it was time for an adventure. I found there were two different Asian markets on Niagara Street in Downtown Buffalo, conveniently on my way home from yoga, so Saturday morning after my yoga practice, I took my little list and headed over to Niagara Street, feeling very intimidated.
First up, I stopped at A’Chau Oriental Food Market at 833 Niagara St., this is where I was able to grab most of what I needed to make my Pad Thai and Tom Kha Gai Soup, however they were out of fresh kaffir lime leaves. So, after really walking the aisles and grabbing some things not on my list, I headed over to Niagara Asian Market at 937 Niagara Street, where they had fresh kaffir lime leaves and a HUGE basement full of ingredients. In addition to the things I was looking for, I grabbed a few more that caught my eye. I actually picked up a HUGE 4-lb bag of gram flour aka chickpea flour, for just $4.99. I see lots of soccas in my near future! Both markets had so many ingredients I was already familiar with and so many that I had never heard of. They both had unlimited selections of rice noodles, rice flour, tapioca starches, palm sugar etc, available at very inexpensive prices. I could go nuts in those places for sure.
I also grabbed a bag of these Pandanus flavored Crispy Rolls from India, because they caught my eye only having 6 ingredients, coconut milk, tapioca starch, sesame, sugar, salt and pandanus extract. Naturally gluten-free and vegan, what isn’t to like? To be honest, I didn’t (and still don’t) really have a clue what pandanus is, but I didn’t care, I went for it. Some of the best foods and flavors I have discovered that I love are by completely chancing it and trying something totally new. These crispy rolls are super light and crispy, delicious and very satisfying, I love the crunch and the subtle sweetness. Looks like I will be stopping by these Asian markets a lot more than I had planned.
Once I got the few ingredients I couldn’t easily find – specifically the kaffir lime leaves and the galangal root, making this soup was an breeze. I ended up making it for lunch on Sunday! Tom Kah Gai soup has always been one of my favorites. Even when I know I am going to order some type of noodle dish at a Thai restaurant, which is more than enough food, I always feel obligated to order this soup, just because I don’t know when I will have the opportunity again. Now that I know how easy it is to make, I will just make it at home. The flavors in this soup are intense and so wonderful. The bright fresh flavor from the lemongrass is definitely the star of the show, but you get an equal burst of flavor from the keffir lime leaves. It is amazing what a punch those little guys pack! The galangal also brings a pungent flavor very similar to ginger, spicy with a little bit of bite. A little goes a long way with galangal. If you can’t find it easily, ginger will also work great here. Traditionally this soup is made with homemade chicken stock and along with diced or shredded chicken breast. I didn’t have any homemade stock at home so I went with some high quality organic low sodium chicken broth and skipped out on the meat and tofu. I just wanted to enjoy the best part, the delicious broth! To make this soup vegan you could substitute vegetable broth for the chicken and add in tofu or skip it like I did. It won’t be exactly the same flavor profile of traditional Tom Kha Gai soup, but it will still be absolutely delicious.
I am so glad I made the time to make some Thai food at home and explore the Asian markets. Look for my Pad Thai recipe, very soon! I made that Saturday night and both hubby and I were so excited with how it came out that we didn’t take a minute to stop eating so I could take pictures. Mark has already asked me when I will be making it again, so I should have that recipe up soon! Also, if you enjoy Asian foods of any kind (Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, etc) and you know of an Asian market in your neighborhood, I highly recommend checking it out.
What is your favorite type of Asian food? Do you have a favorite dish? Have you tried making it at home?
4 cups organic free-range low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 15-ounce can full-fat organic coconut milk
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces and pounded to really release the flavors
6 kaffir lime leaves
6 thin slices fresh galangal root (or ginger)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 cup firm tofu, diced (optional, you could also add in chicken or shrimp, etc)
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup thai basil, roughly chopped (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, add in the coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime limes, galangal, mushrooms, bell pepper, red onion, fish sauce, lime juice, chili flakes and optional tofu (or meat or shellfish). Simmer for 15 minutes. Add in the diced tomato and stir. Just before serving add in the thai basil and cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately, topped with additional chopped cilantro, thai basil and maybe some thinly sliced green onions.
I absolutely adore my slow cooker. It is so perfect for those days where you kinda feel like cooking, but you don’t really have the time or desire to stand around stir this pot so it doesn’t stick, toss that thing in this dressing, cut up this and that. I always love eating at home and cooking my own meals, but sometimes after a long day of work, I just don’t have the energy to head to the kitchen and start on another 1-2 hour adventure. Though it hardly feels like work, sometimes it’s just hard to muster up the energy after a long and busy day. With a crock pot there is no preheating, no keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t over cook, no stirring. It’s just simple, easy home-cooking. When you are ready to eat, just head to the kitchen and serve yourself. I always tell Mark that my crock pot is the closest I will ever come to having a personal chef, it really feels like that.
This recipe is exceptionally easy, just toss all (well, almost all) of the ingredients in to your crock pot in the morning and check back later. I decided to keep out the peas until the end and wished I had done the same with the spinach, so I altered the recipe to reflect that. That’s it. You could certainly fuss with sautéing the onions and garlic ahead of time if you wish, but I really don’t see why you should bother. I tossed it all in and it was ready to go 6 hours later. I had some beautiful spinach and peas from the market so I decided to toss those in for some extra greeny goodness and that was our meal.
I truly think this was the best curry I have made yet. I personally have a wonderful yellow curry powder that I love, though I know many people swear by making your own mix, toasting the spices yourself, etc. I have yet to try that as I really love the powder I buy. If you prefer to take that route, please do. Beyond being extremely easy to make, this curry is loaded with flavor and is so satisfying. I served it over a small serving of brown basmati rice and topped it with fresh cilantro and a bit of unsweetened shredded coconut. The perfect cleanse-friendly, fall meal.
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Coconut Curry (Crock Pot Recipe)
2 1/2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dried organic chick peas
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can 13.5 ounce organic coconut milk (you can use light here, I didn’t)
1 bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped (you could also use kale here)
1 1/2 cups freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen here, if you wish)
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
3 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder (you can use your own blend of spices here, I just happen to have a premixed curry powder from a local indian grocery store that I love)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some for serving)
Rinse and sort through the dry chickpeas. Cut the skin off the squash, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch square cubes. Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker besides the peas and spinach. Cook on high for 6 hours. About 20-30 minutes before serving add in the fresh peas and spinach, and give it a stir. If your sauce seems to be a bit too thin or watery when it is done cooking, you could make a quick mix of cornstarch and hot water and pour a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the crock pot, allow it to simmer a bit longer. This will thicken it right up.
Serve over brown basmati or jasmine rice topped with fresh cilantro, mint or basil and maybe even some shredded coconut.