Healthy High-Protein Granola (Naturally Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free)

©2017 Food Cookture – Healthy High-Protein Granola (Naturally Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free)

Granola is often thought of as a “health food” however, store-bought granola is full of sugar, fat, and preservatives. Most homemade recipes are only healthier in terms of cutting preservatives, but are also full of sugar, and even the “healthy” versions use large quantities of maple syrup or honey which still leaves the granola with a high sugar content.  I recently found a recipe that calls for egg whites to bind the granola instead of using maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or any other sugar to caramelize and work as a binding agent and wanted to give it a try.

I also recently came across the granola recipe from Eleven Madison Park (ranked #1 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant for 2017) and couldn’t wait to try it.  However, being a restaurant recipe, I knew it would taste amazing despite having high content of sugar and fat, so I started with the healthy high-protein recipe that uses egg whites instead of sugar as a base recipe, and added some of the ingredients found in the Eleven Madison Park’s recipe for taste.  I also decreased the amount of olive oil in Eleven Madison Park’s recipe from 1/3 cup to 2 tablespoons; I knew the olive oil would give the granola depth in flavor and I wanted a little bit of that without all the fat.  I made a few substitutions based on my favorite granola ingredients to come up with the recipe below: I added almonds and cashews to the pistachio mix, and used ¼ cup of dried cranberries instead of ¾ cups of dried sour cherries (dried fruits have high content of sugar, so I opted to use less in my recipe).  The healthy recipe yields 3 cups of granola, while the Eleven Madison Park yields 6 cups; with my substitutions, my recipe yields 4 ¼ cups so I adjusted for cooking time and temperature.  While the healthy sugar-free granola recipe says to bake at 225◦F for 1 hour, the Eleven Madison Park recipe says to bake at 300◦F for 35-40 minutes.  I decided to bake my recipe at 250◦F for 45 minutes, but depending on your oven you may need to cook a little longer.

©2017 Food Cookture – Healthy High-Protein Granola (Naturally Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free)

This recipe is healthier than the average granola recipe, it’s not sweet since there is zero sugar added (with the exception of dried fruit), but it’s still delicious. If you want yours a little sweeter, you can always add honey to it before serving it, although I’ve found that when eating it with fresh fruit and yogurt or milk (or almond milk) there is no need to add any sugar to it at all.  The wonderful thing about a granola recipe is that you can add anything you like to it. So take the recipe below as a simple guide and have fun creating your own version! The healthy egg-white recipe says to use 1 egg white per 1 cup of dry ingredients… I went a little overboard with adding ingredients but my recipe still turned out fine.

©2017 Food Cookture – Healthy High-Protein Granola (Naturally Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free)

Healthy High-Protein Granola (Naturally Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free)
Recipe adapted from Super Healthy Kids and NYT’s article on Eleven Madison Park
Yields: 4 ¼ cups
Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of oats (gluten-free, steel-cut, not instant)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted raw or dry-roasted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup unsalted raw cashews or pecans, broken into bits
  • 1/3 cup unsalted raw almonds slices
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips (can be added after baking)
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (optional to add sunflower seeds too)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit (can be added after baking)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Dash of cinnamon (you can add more to naturally “sweeten” the granola)
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt
  • 3 large egg whites

Directions

  1. Beat egg whites in mixer until stiff peaks form; about 5 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients (except dried fruit), add olive oil and egg whites and continue to gently mix until egg whites are completely incorporated.
  3. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet that is covered with parchment paper or silpat.
  4. Bake 250◦F for 45 minutes until light golden brown. Stir once or twice during baking.  If you prefer chunkier granola pieces, then do not stir at all.
  5. Allow granola to cool completely before storing in air-tight container for 1-2 weeks.

I hope you enjoy this healthy and naturally sugar-free granola recipe!

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Green Tea Matcha Chocolate

Green Tea Matcha Chocolate

©2017 Food Cookture – Green Tea Matcha Chocolate

The last recipe I posted was for homemade Japanese Nama Chocolate – and I thought the “matcha” version would just be a change in a couple of ingredients.  Boy, was I wrong!  The recipe is just as simple but it deserves its own post because it tastes THAT good.  Out of all the green tea desserts I’ve ever had, this is by far my favorite!

Green Tea Matcha Chocolate2

©2017 Food Cookture – Green Tea Matcha Chocolate

Green Tea Matcha Chocolate
Recipe from Just One Cookbook
Serves: Approximately 40 small units
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 400g (14oz) good quality white chocolate
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream* (I used organic “heavy whipping cream”)
  • 25g (2 TBL) unsalted butter
  • 1-2 TBL of green tea matcha powder (plus more for sprinkling).

Directions

  1. Cut the white chocolate into small pieces using a sharp knife (the smaller the better, it will melt faster). You can also use a food processor and pulse a few times to cut the chocolate into small pieces. Put chopped chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl and set it aside.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the chocolate, set aside.
  3. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts forming small bubbles around the pan but do not boil the cream – if the cream is too hot it can burn the chocolate.
  4. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and butter and mix right away (white chocolate has a different composition than dark chocolate so the instructions are slightly different). If the chocolate hardens before it is melted, heat a small saucepan with water and put bowl with chocolate over it and stir continuously until all chocolate is melted.
  5. Sift the green tea matcha powder into the chocolate mixture and stir. You can try adding 1 tablespoon at a time and check on the matcha flavor.
  6. Line an 8”x8” (20cm x 20cm) dish with parchment or wax paper. Pour the chocolate and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours.
  7. Remove the parchment/wax paper from the chocolate and cut into small pieces using a warm knife (run knife under hot water and dry it before using). You may need to clean the knife blade between each cut.
  8. Sift more matcha powder over the chocolate, and roll the chocolate pieces so all sides get covered in matcha.
  9. Serve immediately or chilled. I prefer to serve at room temperature, but they are good even out of the fridge. The chocolate should be stored in the refrigerator and best consumed within a few days.

I hope you enjoy this decadent green tea treat!

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Homemade Japanese Nama Chocolate

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate

My friend Luciana who lived in Japan for many years recently invited me over to serve a very special Japanese tea she received as a gift from her husband. I was very excited to try this tea, but little did I know I would also be introduced to a new recipe when she served us Nama Chocolate.  As with anything Japanese, these little bites of chocolate were beautifully presented.  They were delicate pieces of chocolate and I could have easily devoured the entire little box but restrained myself since I was her guest after all.  She wanted me to try them so I could also learn to make them and gave me a few recipes.  I couldn’t wait and looked over a few recipes she sent me and the next day I eagerly made them.  I love how easy they are to make and will replace my traditional chocolate truffle recipe for these since there’s no rolling chocolate and washing hands in between every few truffles.

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate

“Nama” means fresh or raw in Japanese and nama chocolate is named for its use of fresh cream.  There are only two main ingredients: chocolate and fresh cream (and in some recipes, also butter).  You can also add a little bit of liquor or Champagne to the chocolate.  They are dusted with cocoa powder to finish.  There’s also matcha nama chocolate that is made with white chocolate and matcha (powdered green tea).  I decided to try the dark chocolate recipe with cocoa and saved some to try with matcha on top.  The recipe I tried (as with many others I compared) has a ratio of 2:1 chocolate to cream, and uses no butter.  Simple and easy to remember.

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate with Matcha

©2016 Food Cookture – Nama Chocolate with Matcha

Homemade Nama Chocolate
Recipe adapted from Just One Cookbook
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 400g (14oz) good quality chocolate (I used dark chocolate with 70% cacao, you can also use semi-sweet chocolate if you prefer)
  • 250ml (8.5oz) heavy cream (I used organic “heavy whipping cream”).  Click here to see Types of Cream (Note: recipe updated to add more cream)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of good quality cocoa powder (you can also use matcha)
    • For flavored Nama Chocolate: add any spice, vanilla, or orange peel to the cream.

Directions

  1. Cut the chocolate into small pieces using a sharp knife (the smaller the better, it will melt faster). You can also use a food processor and pulse a few times to cut the chocolate into small pieces. Put chopped chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl and set it aside.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts forming small bubbles around the pan but do not boil the cream – if the cream is too hot it can burn the chocolate.  Add flavorings, if using any.
  3. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes. You can also put the chocolate into the saucepan of cream, but I prefer to remove the cream from the pan in case the cream was overheated. After a few minutes, use a whisk to stir the chocolate until creamy and smooth.
  4. Line an 8”x8” (20cm x 20cm) dish with parchment or wax paper. Pour the chocolate and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours.  Tip: If you wait longer than 5 hours, the chocolate may need to stay at room temperature for a little while before cutting. I refrigerated mine overnight and cut it straight out of the fridge and it broke when I cut it. Not as pretty presentation as the true Japanese nama chocolate, but I called it an artistic version to save my nama chocolate.
    • Recipe update: I added more cream to the recipe so the chocolate is not as hard even when refrigerated, and thus more similar to the traditional Nama Chocolate.
  5. Remove the parchment/wax paper from the chocolate and cut into small pieces using a warm knife (run knife under hot water and dry it before using). You may need to clean the knife blade between each cut.
  6. Sift cocoa powder (or matcha) over the chocolate, and roll the chocolate pieces so all sides get covered in cocoa.
  7. Serve immediately or chilled. I prefer to serve at room temperature, but they are good even out of the fridge. The chocolate should be stored in the refrigerator and best consumed within a few days.

I hope you enjoy this easy and decadent chocolate treat!

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Famous Brazilian “Pão de Queijo” (Gluten-Free Cheese Puff Bread) -Light Recipe

pao-de-queijo_cover

©2016 Food Cookture – Brazilian Pão de Queijo

Pão de queijo is eaten as a snack (or even as part of breakfast) throughout Brazil. These little “cheese puff breads” are also served alongside bread in certain restaurants (especially the “churrascarias” – Brazilian barbeque restaurants).

Originally from the region of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the traditional recipe uses a local cheese called “queijo minas” which is a mild white cheese with a medium consistency. When hard to find, most people substitute queijo minas with parmesan cheese which has a stronger flavor and harder consistency, while some also add mozzarella for the string cheese effect.  I tried different combinations and I prefer to use feta cheese and either pecorino or parmesan for a stronger cheese flavor.

brazilian-pao-de-queijo

©2016 Food Cookture – Brazilian Pão de Queijo

These little “breads” are easy to make and naturally gluten-free since tapioca flour is used instead of wheat. The dough usually keeps well in the fridge for about a week (mine has never lasted that long). You can also freeze the dough (see note below) but I prefer not to freeze them and make a fresh batch.

The traditional recipe uses oil (or butter), water and milk. I decreased the amount of oil and did not add milk. These are lighter in taste and fat content than most recipes. You can try different types of cheese and even add herbs and create your own version of pão de queijo!

Brazilian Pão de Queijo

©2016 Food Cookture – Brazilian Pão de Queijo

Famous Brazilian “Pão de Queijo” (Gluten-Free Cheese Puff Bread) – Light Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients (approximately 50 small units)

  • 250g (approx 2 cups) tapioca flour (“polvilho”)
  • 60g (2oz) feta cheese
  • 60g (2oz) freshly grated parmesan* or pecorino cheese (or both)
  • 30ml (a little less than 4 TBL) vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 160ml (3/4 cup) water
  • ¼ tsp salt (less if you use pecorino)
  • 1 egg, beaten
    • *NOTE: do not use store-bought packaged grated parmesan outside the refrigerated section of the supermarket as that is not fresh cheese and will alter the consistency.

Directions

  1. Mix the tapioca flour, cheese, and salt and set aside. The feta will easily crumble by hand once mixed into the tapioca flour.
  2. In a small sauce pan, boil the water and the oil. Carefully pour over the tapioca and cheese mixture and let the dry ingredients absorb the hot liquid for a few minutes. Then use a wooden spoon to mix until a dough is formed (it will become slightly cool to handle with your hands if you prefer to knead by hand, otherwise continue mixing with wooden spoon).
  3. Once the dough is cool, add the beaten egg and mix the dough with the wooden spoon (or by hand) until the egg is incorporated into the dough.
  4. You can either use the dough right away and spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat; or once the dough is cool, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. After a few hours (I prefer to leave it overnight) you can then shape the dough into small balls and bake.
    • Freezing the dough: Once you make the dough into balls, you can place them on a baking sheet and put in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. When completely frozen, you can then place them in a freezer bag to store until ready to bake. If using frozen pão de queijo, be sure to increase the baking time.
  5. Bake at 400◦F (1200◦C) for 10-12 minutes (if using frozen dough, bake for 15-18 minutes. Keep an eye on the pão de queijo while in the oven, depending on the size you make them and your oven, you may need to adjust temperature and time. Be careful not to overcook them to “golden” or they will become dry.

I hope you enjoy this delicious and popular Brazilian snack as much as we do!

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Brunch/Breakfast, Gluten-Free, Healthy Cookture, Light Dishes, Side Dishes, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

post-33_cover_used-in-blog

© 2016 Food Cookture – Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Everyone needs an easy and basic tomato sauce recipe that can be tasty enough to be used alone over pasta yet simple enough that it can be incorporated with other ingredients in a more complex dish. This is an easy recipe that can be done in 30 minutes if you are rushed, but best if cooked for a longer time – 45 minutes to 1 hour.

This sauce can also be used as a base for tomato soup – just add more basil and a little more water (and omit the butter at the end). This recipe also freezes well.  I usually make a larger batch and freeze several containers so I always have homemade tomato sauce.

A note about the tomato base
Using fresh tomatoes of course is the ideal base for a homemade tomato sauce, but since the best tomatoes are seasonal, I usually use tomato passata (which is Italian tomato purée) for my sauce. Passata is uncooked, crushed and sieved tomatoes with no seasonings as you may find in store-bought tomato sauce. You can use canned tomatoes as long as you buy from a brand that is organic and free of the chemical BPA (bisphenol-A).

post-33_photo-2_used-in-blog

© 2016 Food Cookture – Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes – 1 hour (can be done in 30 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 2 jars of organic tomato passata/purée (approximately 24-oz/680g each jar)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped (sweetens the sauce and turns it orange)
  • 1-2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves (more if you prefer)
  • Bunch of fresh basil
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of dried rosemary, optional
  • Bay leaf, optional (not to be blended)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 TBL (14-28g) Butter, optional

Directions

  1. Chop onion, carrots, celery and garlic, reserve. Note: if you want to spend less time cooking the sauce, be sure to chop the carrots and celery into smaller pieces.
  2. Using a tall pot, sauté onions, carrots and celery in a few tablespoons of olive oil in low to medium heat until onions are translucent, but not burned. Add garlic and continue stirring until garlic is light golden in color (be careful not to overcook garlic or it will make the sauce bitter).
  3. Add the tomato passata and measure 1 of the jars with filtered or spring water.
  4. Add salt and pepper, and dried seasonings if desired (oregano, rosemary and bay leaf). Bring the sauce to a boil then simmer (covered but not completely) for at least 45 minutes, best for 1 hour (the longer it is cooked, the better it will taste). Stir frequently.  If you want to make the sauce in 30 minutes, you will need to let the sauce cook in medium to medium-high heat, but will need to stir more frequently.  Cook until carrots and celery are soft enough to be blended. You can also leave the pan uncovered to cook down the water faster, but will need to stir frequently and keep an eye on the sauce not to splatter all over your stove.
  5. Remove the bay leaf if using, and add fresh basil leaves. Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients (do not blend bay leaf). If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer all the ingredients in batches to a kitchen blender (leave the small top off the cover to let out the hot steam while blending). Transfer back to the pan.
  6. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed, and add butter. At this point you may cook the sauce for a longer period of time if desired. The butter adds richness to the sauce and helps balance out the acidity (taste-wise) of the tomato, another little trick is also to add a teaspoon of sugar – but cooking it for a long time also helps.
  7. It is now ready to be served. Wait until sauce is completely cooled before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.

I hope you enjoy making this easy tomato sauce and use it in many of your favorite recipes!

Posted in Entree (lunch/dinner), First Course, Gluten-Free, Healthy Cookture, Light Dishes, Pasta, Sauce, Soups, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment