June 24, 2010

Southern Cuisine: Hoppin' John, Killed Salad and Sweet Potato Biscuits

Preserving Our Cultural Heritage: Hoppin' John with Killed Salad and Sweet Potato Biscuits 

These recipes are part of an effort to preserve classic old recipes but with a no-oil, plant-based update.  Many classic dishes from our cultures are full of meat and fat and only push us further down the road toward heart attacks, strokes and obesity.  These recipes help us continue to enjoy the tastes of our past without sacrificing our health in the process.

Hoppin' John with Killed Salad, Sweet Potato Biscuits and Jefferson Davis Pie

These are classic Southern recipes that come straight out of the American Civil War 150 years ago.  Here's a quick rundown for those who don't live in the South.

Hoppin' John is the Southern version of beans and rice.
Killed Salad is salad and onions with a hot vinegar dressing.

I know I said I would start with Mom's nut roll, but Mom will have to wait.  This meal was wonderful!

Hoppin' John
3 C cooked brown rice
3 C cooked beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 C minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe couldn't be easier.  The traditional recipe for Hoppin' John is even simpler.  Beans, rice, salt, pepper, onion and garlic.  This dish cried out for fresh herbs, so I added some cilantro.  Hoppin' John is excellent with Louisiana Hot Sauce too.  This dish can be served hot or cold.  Serves 4-6.

Killed Salad
1 head of lettuce, chopped
2 sweet onions, sliced
1/3 C tofu bacon bits (see below)
1/2 C cider vinegar

This salad has a salad dressing that is hot.  This is something I haven't run across before and it was excellent!  If you really love Vidalia onions, this recipe originally calls for 6 onions rather than 2!  Pan fry the tofu bacon bits mixture in a nonstick pan until crispy.  Then, add the vinegar and heat for 30 seconds or so until it boils.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over salad.  Serves 4.

Tofu Bacon Bits
1/3 C extra firm tofu, diced
2 T soy sauce
3 shakes of Liquid Smoke
1/4 t black pepper

Here's another cooking lesson.  What is bacon at its essence?  Salty, smoky protein with black pepper thrown in.  That's exactly what we have here.  Mix it all together and let marinate for at least an hour.  Then pour it into a nonstick pan and fry until crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
3/4 C sweet potato, cooked and mashed
3/4 C non-dairy milk
2.5 C whole wheat flour
4 t baking powder
1 T sugar
1 t salt

This recipe needed very little translation except to eliminate a small amount of butter.  These biscuits are a bit dense but very tasty and authentic to tradition.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Blend sweet potatoes and milk together.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Mix wet and dry ingredients together thoroughly to make a soft dough.  If the dough is too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together and is workable.  Roll dough to 1/2" thick and cut biscuits out with a water glass or biscuit cutter.  Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Makes about 12 biscuits.

June 23, 2010

What's Cooking Today at Le Chateau Soleil?

Yep!  That's no stock photo.  This decaf espresso roast came straight out of my adobe oven.  It's taken a while to design a roaster, but it works great.  Check out my homemade coffee roaster below.

For those who are interested in trying to roast your own coffee, I get all my green coffee beans from Sweet Maria's.  They have some of the best coffees in the world and they'll teach you everything you need to know to roast your own.  You can even do it in a hot-air popcorn popper!

Some folks wanted to see a close-up of the attachment point.

June 16, 2010

Preserving Our Cultural Heritage

I am launching a new series of posts called "Preserving Our Cultural Heritage."  So much of tradition in any culture revolves around food and in many cases, unhealthy food, full of fat and cholesterol.  I want to change that, so I have decided to use my expertise to convert great cultural or family recipes to be healthy, just like all my recipes:

-plant based
-high fiber
-low fat
-whole foods

Click here to send me your ideas or recipes!  I may not be able to get to all the recipe suggestions, but if not, I can certainly point you in the right direction.

Look for my first conversion to be my mother's holiday favorite, Nut Roll, an eastern European specialty.

And if you're looking for someone to convert your recipe for Grandma's famous pot roast, well, some things might best be left for the old family photo album. ;-)

June 5, 2010

What's Cooking Today at Le Chateau Soleil?

My new adobe oven.  Hand-made by me almost completely from recycled and scavenged materials.  It took an entire year to gather the materials and a few weeks to construct.  You will see many posts to come where I use the adobe oven.

For those interested in building your own earthen oven, all the instructions you need are in Kiko Denzer's "How To Build An Earthen Oven."

Nutrition Basics: Balanced Meals

What should my plate look like?

This is an easy one.  On average, your plate should have roughly 2/3 grains and legumes.  The other 1/3 is vegetables and fruits.  That's it.

Then listen to your body.  If want more vegetables or a massive power salad, eat it!  Just make sure you're eating whole foods and not a bunch of processed junk.

No need to count calories, read nutrition books, starve yourself, or pound down protein shakes.

This simple idea is all you need for great nutrition.  Everything your body needs will be taken care of.

Nutrition Basics: Satiety

Let me introduce you to what I call, "the french fry effect."

You sit down to a meal and you can eat three full plates of french fries.  Afterward, you feel a bit sick and a bit hungry, but somehow you ate all those potatoes without a problem.

The next day, you sit down to a meal and you are served one dry baked potato.  You can hardly finish it!

Why does this happen?

It all comes down to satiety, or what makes you feel full.  Strangely, the body does not register fat as food.  It is more than double the calories of carbs or protein, but the body doesn't really recognize it as food when it comes to eating.

Researchers say that the body sees dietary fat as emergency store.  It's not for everyday energy burning.  That's what carbohydrates are for.  Your muscles, your brain, your nervous system and many organs run purely on glucose aka carbs.  That's why when you eat carbs, it goes straight to your muscles and organs for use.  When you eat fat, it goes straight to your butt for storage.

So, when meal time comes, the foods that fill you up most are foods with:


That's why foods like beans and rice are so filling.  Every culture has their version of grains and legumes.  Beans and rice.  Corn and beans.  Wheat and lentils.  Rice and soy.  Many cultures' cuisines are defined by these foods.

Add fat and suddenly, your satiety is thrown off.  The body says, "Hey!  That's not regular food.  Send down more regular food."  So, you eat more.  A lot more...  just trying to get full.

By cutting added fat out of your diet, you get a double bonus.  Not only will you consume fewer calories by removing the added fat, but you also will get full sooner because there's no fat to throw off your satiety.

It's the most amazing thing.  When I started eating and cooking this way, I could only eat about 2/3 of the food I was able to eat previously.  Weight loss happened without even thinking about it or feeling like you are depriving yourself of good food.

So, eat!  Cut out the fat.  And stop eating when you feel full.  You'll be on your way to better health and effortless weight loss in no time.

Nutrition Basics: Fat

Fat is an abnormally large part of the American diet.  Most Americans eat a diet that is 35 - 40% fat.  Imagine your dinner plate and then picture that more than 1/3 of your plate is just pure unadulterated jiggly fat.  Wonder why 2/3 of America is overweight?  That's one big reason.

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, the human body needs a diet of a minimum of 5% fat to function effectively.  So, let's look at the fat content of a few vegetables.

Eggplant is about 8% fat by calories
Broccoli and Chard are about 10% fat by calories
Spinach is around 14% fat by calories

 So, what does this tell us?  Mother Nature gave us all the fat our bodies need in food's natural packages.  We don't need extra virgin olive oil dumped all over our foods because it is a "good fat" or because we "need" oil.

You don't "need" any processed oils in your diet for your body to function effectively.  

Mother Nature provides all the fat you need.

Sadly, in cooking, oil is ALWAYS the first thing people reach for to start cooking.  We use it to fry garlic and onions, we pan fry with it, we deep fry with it, we coat baking sheets with it, we add it to every recipe we make.  All that fat adds up.

The human body is extremely efficient at turning fat in your diet into fat on your butt.  You want to lose weight in a hurry?  Cut the added fat out of your diet.

EVOO may taste good but all the nutrients have been removed from oil.  The only thing in there is fat that's going straight to your butt and your arteries.

So, what do we do instead?

1.  Water frying
2.  Instead of olive oil, throw a few olives in your dish or a few walnuts or a slice of avocado.  Whole foods still have all their nutrients and are a much healthier choice than a bottle of oil.

Eat food the way Mother Nature intended.  Leave the EVOO at the store.