Thursday, 13 December 2012

On the Road

So this is my first attempt at posting from my phone while on the go-go. As mentioned a few posts ago, the boyfriend has been enjoying himself in a tropical location for several weeks now on an epic bike trip. The amazing thing is, I'm waiting at the airport for my connecting flight as I'M ABOUT TO GO MEET HIM!!! I know! So since this is a blog about food (and, indirectly, about cycling) I thought I'd try posting this way. I had the longest layover I've ever experienced today (almost 13 hours!) and so I ventured out of the terminal and headed into downtown Seattle for some good eats. I ended up at a place I've been once before, Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe in the University District. Everything on the menu is vegan and organic and there are plenty of gluten-free options as well. I settled on the Hippie Bowl, with perfectly cooked quinoa, shredded carrots, sprouts, tofu, tahini dressing and black sesame seeds. I opted for the large portion so that I could take half with me for dinner. It was scrumptious! I also treated myself to their house juice, a blend of apple, orange and ginger and then I finished off with a coffee and a hazelnut chocolate chip cookie. I didn't get a chance to photograph the cookie because I was too busy eating it. *Cough cough* I will dream about that cookie. That cookie makes all the other cookies in my life jealous and normally I would be sympathetic to other cookies' inferiority complexes but not this time. Because I'm too busy having mouth daydreams. It will have to be recreated. Ok folks, that's all for now. I'm getting a little loopy and I think I'm done eating for the day. Back soon with some exotic photos. "I like piƱa coladas . . . "

Monday, 10 December 2012

Nuts for Acorns

Acorn squash, that is. This little number was literally something that I threw together in 30 minutes and the results were Delicious with a capital "D." I had been out for a walk in the cold rain, the kind of rain that isn't little drops that fall straight down but a freezing cold mist that surrounds your entire body, making your umbrella an entirely useless fashion accessary. Needless to say, by the time I got home I was a soggy icicle. What I really wanted was warm pumpkin pie but since I didn't have the makings for that (and eating an entire pie for dinner is never a good idea anyway) I opted for baked acorn squash stuffed with quinoa. I flavoured the quinoa with the same spices as pumpkin pie and the end result was the food equivalent of stepping out of the shower and having a dryer-warmed towel waiting for you. Ahhhhhhhhh . . . . . .

It's funny the reaction I get from people when I tell them that I can't have gluten or dairy. They inevitably sigh and tell me how sorry they are and how they could never eat that way because they either don't have the time or they love food too much. To which I respond, I ADORE food! I love growing it, harvesting it, buying it, preparing it, eating and sharing it, and now, writing about it. And good, healthy food doesn't have to take hours to prepare. This meal is proof. I simply looked in my pantry, pulled out a few things that I thought might go well together and was sitting down to eat a half hour later.

It's the little acorn squash that makes this meal magical. Acorn squash is deliciously sweet and creamy in its taste and texture and one half is the perfect portion size for one person. High in vitamins A and C and the complex B's, it also contains iron, calcium and some protein. And it's pretty.

We've already discussed the beauty that is quinoa (protein!), the other star ingredient at work here. But the bits and pieces that got tossed in the pot also have their nutritional merits. Pepita seeds and walnuts for good fats and omegas, cinnamon to stabilize blood sugar and ginger to aid digestion and diminish inflammation. All that and the entire thing tastes really good too!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4

2 acorn squash, cut in half and the seeds scraped out
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pepita seeds
1/4 cup currants
2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 inches ginger, finely minced
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
salt and pepper
nutmeg and maple syrup for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a tray with parchment paper.
2. Drizzle squash halves with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on tray hollow side down. Roast for 30 minutes or until caramelized and soft all the way through.
3. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan on medium high heat, add a splash of olive oil and saute onions until golden.
4. Add ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and stir until heated through and fragrant.
5. Add quinoa, walnuts, cranberries, pepita seeds, currants and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. The idea is that the quinoa and the  squash will be done around the same time.
6. Remove squash from oven, scoop a quarter of the quinoa mixture into each of the four halves. Grate a little fresh nutmeg on top and drizzle with maple syrup.
7. Eat while watching a Christmas movie for the full effect.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Don't Blog on an Empty Stomach

Hello! I know, it's been a while. After Mr Cycling Chef left for his trip I was suffering from serious ennui. I drank too much wine, ate nothing but omelettes and overbooked myself with social events. Don't get me wrong, I make a damn fine omelette, but I wasn't feeling inspired enough to write about it. Then I was under the weather for a week and was eating the same damn fine omelette but without the wine. I've missed cooking but more than that, I've missed sharing! Cooking for one is a skill. Oftentimes you either end up throwing away spoiled food or eating the same thing for the entire week. Don't get me wrong, I love a good leftover, but they say variety is the spice of life and mine has been a little bland. So I put the empty wine bottles in the recycling bin, cleaned my kitchen and decided to make something for the office decorating party. I wanted something that would travel well, would showcase how delicious vegan desserts can be and that wasn't too fussy to make. I ended up with these:

Homemade, gluten-free, vegan Twix Bars!

These are to die for! Except you don't really want to die for them 'cuz then you wouldn't get to stuff your face. I originally made them as a thank-you for a friend of Mr Cycling Chef who had helped him move his stuff before his grand adventure. They were so good that only half of them made it to the guy, as Mr CC had to test the rest for, ahem, poison? Anytime my burly, prairie-raised, meat and potato guy enjoys one of my vegan, gluten free dishes it makes me goofy happy. I'm a total sucker. Anyhoo, back to these bars. If you're looking for something sweet, easy to make and slightly unusual, these are them. Developed by one of my favourite bloggers, Angela of Oh She Glows, these are a great treat to add to your holiday arsenal. You can find the recipe here. Like I said, I made a batch for the office holiday party and they were a huge hit. Just make sure you keep them cold, or else they start to get a little too gooey and soft. And try not to eat the whole pan at once, or you might end up looking like this: