Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn foods, food for thought

Ah, autumn: Time for soups with fresh and lightly steamed vegetables and a little chicken broth can be a wonderful lunch or light dinner. Whenever the weather turns cold and rainy I long for the nourishment of soups. They can be hearty or light, but the warmth is always welcome.
Since I began eating a more raw based diet, I have long thought how to incorporate soups into it and I have found that small amounts of meat fit better in it then any other substitutes. (I rather avoid wheat and white rice)
I use occasionally gluten free pasta, if I want a little bite, but usually a light broth with veggies will be enough to satisfy my appetite.  Through a lovely friend, who, like me, is interested in raw and other healthy food alternatives, I discovered a wonderful book by Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions. She incorporates many ideas of a natural, back to basics approach to cooking, yet filled with the wisdom of the often forgotten useful methods of making food at home.  I do not agree with all her reasoning about food (f.e. her dislike of soy on the grounds of being unhealthy and her promotion of full fat dairy) and some of the recipes are more difficult to make then others, but I pick, what I feel is right for me and my family. There is a lot of good found between these pages.

These methods are crucial for the success of the recipes, often making the foods easier to digest and I am grateful to have gotten the book. It closes the gap for me between raw diet and more traditional, yet better ways of eating. I incorporate certain food restrictions and I have found it easy to do so. 

Here I used a homemade vegetable broth, added carrots, onions, garlic and baby bok choy, herbs and spices.
The baby bok choy was neither steamed nor cooked. I let it sit for a few minutes before serving in the hot broth and it was light, tasty and crunchy to eat. The result was a nourishing and delicious soup, eaten up in no time. Instead of a slice of traditional bread we eat a slice of toasted spelt bread or (sprouted) manna bread.

I have forever avoided eating beans, they never seemed to agree with my tummy, I always felt bloated and flatulent and therefore these foods never saw the tabletop in our house.
I cautiously followed Fallon's recipe, with a few of my own tweaks, and low and behold I have had little to no discomfort. The secret to an easy digestible bean dish lies in the rule of soaking the raw beans for a long time (most beans need 12 -24 hours), then rinsing and slow cooking. 
I created a vegetarian baked bean dish in my slow cooker and the time it took from planing to eating was worth the while.
It was eaten so quickly, that I forgot to make time to take a picture, but the one provided will serve as a substitute, it looks very much like this below. As soon as I'll cook another batch, I will show you. It has become a huge hit in my family and requests have been made to repeat it!

Here is the recipe:

2-3 cups of small white beans, soaked for 24 hours in warm water. Discard any broken or strange looking beans. They will extend to 4-5 cups of beans. Take a larger bowl to soak. You can start with warm water and leave it on the counter. Cover with at least three times the water then beans.

When done, rinse the beans and put in boiling water, skim the foam. This will take a few minutes. Pour beans into a colander and discard the water.
Then peel 2 medium onions and saute with a little butter or ghee (clarified butter) to a golden brown. Do not burn!
I add at this point a small tablespoon of caraway seeds and let them sit with the sauteed onions. 
Transfer the onions and caraway seeds into the slow cooker.
Add the beans.

In a separate small (2cup) measuring cup slowly whisk together:

1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons vinegar (I use Bragg's Apple cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons naturally fermented soy sauce
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 small organic can tomato paste (the tiny ones)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon (Sea) salt
1 pinch of  red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika powder

Pour mixture over beans and onions in your slow cooker and add 2 &1/2 cups of vegetable broth (I use Better Then Bouillon Vegetable Base)
Sometimes I add 1/2 cup of carrots, cut in bit size pieces.

Set the slow cooker on high for 7 hours.
Occasionally check and stir the mix and add extra broth if necessary to prevent burning.
I try to time my soaking in such a way that it will be done in the late morning, then I have enough time for the slow cooker to be done way before dinner time. I usually take it out, and put it in covered containers to go into the fridge. This will yield at least 8 portions.
Serve with anything you like to accompany your beans. It is also delicious by itself.

Bon Appetite!

Top two images by V. Zlotkowski, bottom three through google images

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