Friday, January 31, 2020


Best Blog Tips

It's taken me some time to get this blog post done and I'm pretty thrilled with this bread! Let me tell you-- spelt has a wonderful nutty flavor! I've been experimenting with spelt flour in yeast breads because it has a lower glycemic load than wheat.  I had success with Quick & Easy Spelt Burger Buns in my last blog post. But I really wanted to make a tasty, crusty bread, like the French loaves I used to make.

My first spelt loaf was a disaster, because I hadn't done my homework!  It came out like a rock. I didn't know that you need to use less liquid with spelt flour, and that kneading the dough like a wheat loaf is not a good idea! That sent me to the computer to do some research.

For one thing, spelt is more water-soluble than wheat and it also has a higher level of gliadin, the protein that makes dough stretch-- another reason to use less water than with wheat dough. The high gliadin content makes the dough more fragile, which means that vigorous mixing and/or kneading should be avoided in spelt yeast breads.  Some stretching and folding takes the place of kneading.

The following recipe is a good place to start-- there's a long rise at the beginning, but that can happen overnight, or during the day while you do other things.  The rest of the breadmaking process goes quite fast, and the reward is a delicious, crusty artisan loaf!
Happy Bread Baking!

Printable Recipe (with photos)

Makes 1 loaf, but the recipe can be multiplied with good results.

NOTE: I do not advise using sprouted wheat flour in this particular loaf. If you do, the loaf will be crusty on the outside, and tasty and moist on the inside, but with a tighter crumb-- without the open and irregular crumb (the holes) of, for instance, a French loaf. See what I'm referring to below:

Here's the recipe:

1 cup whole grain spelt flour (fine grind if available, stirred before measuring)
2 cups white or "light" spelt flour (stirred before measuring)
Optional, but I used it: 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
1 1/4 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (OR you can use 1 cup water + a generous 1/4 cup of sourdough starter (refrigerated is fine)
1/4 tsp instant baking yeast
1 Tbsp agave syrup, or maple syrup

In a medium bowl, stir together the two flours and salt. In a smaller bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the water, yeast and syrup until combined. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until the dough comes together. Now, use your hands to mix the dough until the flour completely mixed with the liquid is a bit sticky. 

Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit at room temperature until bubbley and the dough has just about doubled. ***(7-8 hours depending on your room temperature).

When this first rise is complete, place a heavy cast iron pot and lid, or a medium-sized Granite Ware roaster with a lid into your oven. Turn on your oven to 500 degrees F. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. (***The pot needs to pre-heat for at least 30 minutes.)

Generously dust a work surface with spelt flour. (I cover my countertop with a baking or pastry mat.) Use a bowl scraper or spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto your work surface in one piece.

The Folding Process (this takes the place of kneading in spelt breads): Using lightly floured hands, gently pat the dough out into a rectangle. With your dough/pastry scraper or bench knife 
(pictures below), fold one short side of the dough into the middle and then fold the other short side on top. Then fold the dough in half the other direction. Dust lightly with flour, cover with plastic and let rest for 5 minutes.

(***While you are waiting, line a medium sized bowl with parchment paper, pushing the paper down into the bowl with one hand and using your other hand to crease the paper around the inside and top edge of the bowl.)

Repeat the folding process outlined above a 2nd time, then let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then repeat folding process a 3rd time.

Now, with lightly floured hands, pull the dough over on itself gently to form a ball or an oval loaf, pinching it together gently. Place it gently, seam-side-down, into the parchment-lined  bowl, large loaf pan or oval casserole, depending on the shape you want
). Cover the dough  and let rest in a warm spot for 20-25 minutes for the second rise. 

To test if the dough is ready, gently press down with the tip of one finger, about half an inch into the top of the dough. If the dent from your finger remains and springs back only slightly, the dough is ready to bake. If the dent fills in, give the dough another 5-10 minutes to rise and then re-test.

Remove the cover from your bread bowl. Using pot holders, carefully remove the hot pot that you have been pre-heating from the oven and remove the lid. Using both hands, lift the dough out of the bowl by holding all corners of the parchment paper, and lower it into the pot. The edges of the parchment paper will brown, but will be just fine in the hot oven.

Working quickly, spray a gentle mist of water over the top of the dough. Then dust the top of the bread lightly with spelt flour. Use a sharp pair of scissors to make 3-4 shallow cuts at an angle down the center line of the dough (see photo below). Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven.

Reduce the oven heat to 450 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes until the bread is a crusty and browned. Using potholders, carefully lift the bread out of the hot pot (right in the baking parchment) and place it (without the parchment) on a rack to cool thoroughly before cutting with a sharp bread knife. 

The round loaf on the left was baked in a heavy enameled cast iron lidded pot; the
oval loaf on the right was backed in a covered oval Granite Ware roaster.


Sunday, January 12, 2020


Best Blog Tips

It's been over a year since I wrote a new blog post!  I just didn't seem to have the drive or energy to experiment or write, as I had a long, drawn-out case of shingles and I'm still on medication for the resulting nerve pain. The nerve pain from shingles really drained my energy and ambition, and I was basically making simple food

But, the good news is that I am feeling much better and regaining my energy and interest in cooking and writing. (I hope to get back to writing a blog post every week!) As you may have read in past posts from the summer of 2019, back to March of 2018, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which inspired my interest in a low-glycemic diet. My blood sugar levels are now just over the line into diabetic.  But, it's low enough that if I get back into dancing, walking and exercising more frequently, and 
keep learning about and implementing new information about low-glycemic living, I may be able to beat this.

Just one of the items of interest in my search is low-glycemic baking.  I have always loved baking bread and I don't intend to give it up!  For this last year or so I have been eating pretty much only sprouted grain bread (a Canadian brand from the Vancouver area called Silver Hills Bakery).  The sprouted wheat can be ground and kneaded into a strong bread dough (see this blog post). The miraculous thing is that (to explain it in a very simple way), when there are just little white "beads" showing at the point of the grains, the sprouts have used up most, if not all, of the carbohydrate in the grains, making the dough low-glycemic. I definitely want to get back into making that sprouted wheat bread now and then, but I'm also investigating other low-glycemic grains to use.

In muffins and quick breads I've been using mostly a mixture of chickpea flour and oat flour (often with added oat bran, wheat bran and/or bean puree for added fiber and protein, which displace some of the usual carbohydrates). But my experiments with non-wheat yeast breads didn't turn out so well, to put it mildly!  So, I have been exploring the world of spelt flour, which is a fairly low-glycemic relative of wheat, but one which many people who have problems with wheat, but aren't really allergic to gluten, are able to tolerate.

My first spelt bread, which I made using methods generally used for wheat breads, came out like a rock!  So, I did my research, and learned that the glutens in spelt are different from wheat, and you have to use different methods than with wheat baking.  1.) You need to use less liquid per cup of flour than wheat.  2.) The dough should be soft-- even pretty wet, in some cases.  3.) You should not knead the dough for longer than a minute or so.  And. 4.) Spelt dough
 doesn't need as much rising as wheat dough.  All of this makes spelt yeast bread baking quite easy!

One of the first spelt breads that I successfully made was spelt burger buns.  I made them when our neighbor came over for a casual dinner, because she suffers from IBS or something  similar, and spelt is often a good option for some folks with stomach issues. The buns were so easy 
and quick to make, as well as being very tasty (spelt has a very pleasant "nutty" flavor) and having great crumb and crust.

This week I'd like to share the burger bun recipe with you! (Next week I plan to share a delicious crusty spelt bread recipe with you.)

Printable Recipe

Makes 7 buns-- can be doubled

NOTE: You may want to use sprouted spelt flour (though it's more expensive than non-sprouted spelt flour). If you do, you may have to use up to a third more of it than you would of ordinary spelt flour.

Flax Mixture (Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.)
3 T. water

1 T. flax meal (brown or golden)
Flour Mixture:
3 1/2 cups spelt flour (I used half brown spelt flour and half light spelt flour)
1 T. vital wheat gluten powder (optional)

1/2 T. salt

Liquid Mixture:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 T. instant yeast
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. oil

Mix the Flax Mixture with the Liquid Mixture in a medium bowl. Stir in the Flour Mixture with a stout wooden spoon or a dough whisk (see photo just below) for just a couple of minutes. Flour the dough lightly and pat it out into a long rectangle on a floured mat. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

With a knife or dough cutter, cut the rectangle into 7 equal parts (weigh them, if you want them to be of even sizes). Form the dough into round buns about 4" across. Don't make them too thick-- they will rise just enough. In fact, I pressed down gently in the middle of each one with the the heel of my hand after shaping them, to prevent them from having a domed top. Place the buns on a baking parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving some space between them. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Bake the buns for 18 minutes.  Let the buns cool on a rack.


Monday, November 4, 2019


Best Blog Tips

UPDATE in recipe below.

Yikes! It's been about 2 1/2 months since I last blogged!  But, I haven't stopped cooking or thinking about new recipes. As I wrote about in earlier blogs, I'm on a low-glycemic diet for early stages of diabetes, which sincerely I hope will not get any worse. So, being stubborn, I do alot of research and experimentation. Sometimes it's fun and we end up with something delicious, and sometimes it goes in the compost! A learning experience! 

These last couple of months, I've spent quite alot of time working on some new vegan cheeses. To tell you the truth, I've been a bit fed up with cashews, cashews, cashews when it comes to vegan cheese!  For one thing, they are expensive, especially the fair trade, organic variety.  For another, they can be ethically compromised (See for more on these issues.)  My aim was (and is) to make a vegan cheese that is delicious, easy to make, inexpensive and made with easily-obtained ingredients, and without the need for culturing.

I ran across 
Martine's groundbreaking recipe for Vegan Steamed Rice Cheese at  I tried it right away-- it was easy to make and tasty!

BUT, it was made with white rice flour, which is not particularly low-glycemic. I got the idea to use some sort of bean flour, along with some high-resistant-starch potato starch instead, and it worked beautifully. I added more nutritional yeast, along with some white miso (for a fermented flavor), onion powder and garlic granules, for more flavor. Even better!

My far-away Australian Facebook friend Fran was also working on such things and we shared our successes and failures. I hoped (and still hope) to make a cheese that melted, but I'm still working on that. But, one day I got the idea to grate this very firm, tasty cheese and it seemed to me to be a delicious and much less expensive alternative to commercial vegan "parmesan" products.

I'm working on some other versions of this type of cheese, which I will post very soon. But I wanted to share this one with you right now because we're so pleased with it.  Let me know what you think!

Printable Recipe

(Low-glycemic, high in protein and fiber, nut-free, soy-free)    
Makes enough to fill two 142g Earth Island/FollowYourHeart Vegan Grated Parmesan-Style Cheese shakers.

UPDATE: I just made this cheese with NO OIL, using 1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsps. 
water in the recipe instead of 3/4 cup water + 1/3 cup coconut oil. It turned out just fine!

This very tasty cheese is high in protein from the bean flour, and is low-glycemic. It's also a great source of resistant starch (which acts as a soluble fiber). Potato starch [not the same thing as potato flour, BTW] is also very high in resistant starch and makes for a VERY firm cheese, suitable for grating or pulsing in a food processor. (See for info on resistant starch, which improves insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduces appetite and has various benefits for digestion.)

    • 124 g (1 1/3 cup) chickpea flour (OR white bean flour, OR 2/3 cup of each) 
NOTE: White bean flour version will look like the picture above; chickpea flour version will be more yellow. 
    • 41 g (1/4 cup, 
slightly packed-down) potato starch 
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1/3 cup melted refined coconut oil (preferably Fair Trade, organic)
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp. white miso (also called Shiro miso-- may be more beige than white; see this article: )
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic granules

    1. Pour 2 cups water into your steamer pot, InstantPot or pressure cooker, equipped with a flat steamer basket in the bottom.

    2. Put all the ingredients into the jar of your blender, and blend until it forms a completely smooth, milky mixture, without lumps or visible oil droplets.

This is the Pyrex mold that I use.
   3. Pour the cheese mixture into a greased or parchment-lined Pyrex, metal or ceramicmold. Choose a mold that will hold 2 cups, with about 1/2 inch of “head room”. 

Place the mold onto the steamer basket.  I fold a long piece of aluminium foil lengthwise into a wide strip and use  it to lower the mold onto the steamer basket. This makes it easier to remove the hot mold from its close quarters after it's cooked, too!

4. Steam the cheese for about 45 minutes (or 25 minutes on Steam function in Instant Pot, or pressure cooker).  Release pressure in the InstantPot or pressure cooker after cooling down for about 20 minutes. 

Use the aluminum foil to lift the hot mold out of the pot onto a cooling rack.

After the steaming, the cheese will still be a bit soft. Don't worry, it will firm up once it cools. If a thin layer of water dripped onto the cheese from the pot's lid, drain this off carefully.

5. Let the cheese cool to room temperature and then cover it and put it into the fridge overnight to firm up.

Once it is firm, you can release it from the mold and store it in a lidded container for a week or so, or you can freeze half of it, well-wrapped. The cheese tastes best if you leave it to firm and develop flavor for a day or two before eating.
  You can grate the cheese on a box grater, if you wish, 

but I use a food processor. I cut the block into small squares and place them in a food processor. 

Pulse until they are chopped and then process until it looks like commercial grated parmesan. Taste it-- if you like, you can mix the ground cheese with a bit more nutritional yeast for a stronger flavor-- but add it a little bit at a time.

 Scoop the resulting "granules" into two shaker bottles-- I use two 142g Earth Island/FollowYourHeart Vegan Grated Parmesan-Style Cheese shakers. Or, if you prefer, cut the block in half,  process one half, and freeze on half, well wrapped, for grating later.


Saturday, August 17, 2019


Best Blog Tips

Neatballs in sour cherry sauce

Neatball Pho containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned and simmered in the Pho broth.
Neatballs coated with a curry sauce
This is a vegan "meatball" recipe that I developed over 10 years ago (yikes!) and meant many times to share on this blog, but, somehow, never got around to!  The recipe was originally supposed to be included in one of my books, but that never happened.

I love "meatballs", not only because they taste good and are so versatile, but also because so many cuisines boast at least one, and often dozens, of delicious recipes featuring them.  Real comfort food, the world over!

You can make several times the recipe at one time and freeze them for future meals. One time I was very ambitious and made 150 Neatballs in one morning! Here are some photos:

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5 
 Yield: 25 neatballs

These Neatballs, when removed from the oven, resemble rather dry, round cookies. However, when they are simmered in broth, or in a sauce of your choice, they plump up and have a texture almost alarmingly meatlike! 

You can add whatever appropriate spices and herbs that would go with the final dish you are making, or just make the basic version. The recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.,  if you would like to freeze some for a later date. Serve with pasta, rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc., or bread.

Dry Mix:
1 1/2 cups textured soy protein granules (TVP)
3/4 cup pure gluten powder (vital wheat gluten)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (not dried), packed down
1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
herbs and spices, to your taste
Wet Mix:
1 1/4 cups plus 3 T. cold water
3 Tbs soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 Tbs ketchup
1/2 T. vegan gravy browner, such as Kitchen Bouquet (for color)
Flour for coating
Cooking spray or oil in a pump-sprayer
Optionals: For ethnic recipes, you can add some chopped vegetables (well-drained or squeezed, if very wet), grated ginger, fresh garlic, vegan parmesan, chopped green onion,

Mix together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk the Wet Mix ingredients together and pour into the Dry Mix, adding whatever optionals you like. Cover and let the mixture set for at least one hour. If made ahead, the mixture can be refrigerated for several hours or days before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Roll the mixture into 25 equal-sized balls, squeezing firmly. As you can see in the photo below, you can also shape the Neatball mixture into oval "kofta" shapes for Middle Eastern recipes. Dredge in flour to coat all over. 

Place the balls on an oiled cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray or oil from a pump-sprayer. Bake 20 minutes-- smaller neatballs may need only 15 minutes cooking time. 

The "Neatballs" will look quite dry, as I mentioned, but this is their advantage-- when cooked in a sauce, they become plump and tender, but don't fall apart. Cool thoroughly.
They can be frozen  at this point and then cooked in a sauce or soup at a later time, if you wish.  

To cook the dry, baked Neatballs in a sauce:
Drop them into a pot containing about 5 cups of your preferred sauce (commercial or homemade-- homemade should be fully-cooked), mixed with 2 cups of water and brought to a simmer. If necessary, add a little more liquid to the sauce, in the form of wine, broth or juice. Simmer them for at least 20 minutes, during which time the Neatballs will "plump up". 

OR, if you are planning to use them later in recipes 
coated in a sauce, or to use them in a soup, cook them in a pot containing simmering vegan broth of your choice to cover. 

If they have been simmered in broth for future recipes, remove the Neatballs from the pot with a strainer spoon, rinse them off gently, and let them cool thoroughly. They can then be frozen. Otherwise, add them directly to a soup, or  browned in a bit of oil and coated  with a sauce of your choice, such as a curry sauce.

Baked, simmered (in broth) and cooled Neatballs that have been browned.

My Version of Italian "Wedding Soup" ("Minestra Maritata" or "Zuppa Maritata"), containing baked and cooled Neatballs that have been browned before simmering in the soup.
Try this delicious Vietnamese Pho recipe, using Neatballs instead of the vegan "steak":

Nutrition Facts (calculated using low sodium soy sauce and ketchup)
Nutrition (per serving; 5 Neatballs): 
195.6 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 404.9mg sodium; 86.3mg potassium; 19.7g carbohydrates; 0.7g fiber; 1.9g sugar; 27.4g protein.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Best Blog Tips

I haven't been blogging lately, but I have been cooking and researching!  My new doctor sent me to an internist a few weeks ago and I've been told that I am not pre-diabetic, as I was previously told by another doctor, but I am actually diabetic. It's not so bad as to need insulin, and my glucose levels have actually gone down, but I do need to be more strict about my diet and exercise. So, I am still on a low-glycemic diet, of course, but also counting carbs and sugars, and I am getting back into walking, weights and other exercise, now that my shingles nerve pain has lessened quite substantially (after 6 months!).

So, a lot of my time has been taken up with research and experimentation, as you can imagine!  It's not that hard for me to resist the temptation of white bread (my husband's homemade, with some oats and wheat bran in it), pizza, and desserts, etc., because I am determined not to ever have to use insulin, to lose some weight, and to still make food that is delicious and health-promoting. Sprouted grain bread is my choice now, farinata instead of pizza dough (see ), fruits for dessert, and the odd 
homemade low-sugar treat.

That said, I love chocolate and I don't want to give it up!  I can have a bit of dark chocolate (at least 71% chocolate) for a treat, but I want to create some chocolate recipes at home, too.  I had heard about chickpea chocolate spreads and, since I always have a supply of cooked chickpeas in my freezer, I decided to try making some.  Below is my recipe and, with two options for sweeteners,  and Nutrition Facts.  You have the choice of using some natural sweet syrups (agave and maple) , or a homemade date paste. It's very quick and easy to make, by the way.

If you have to be very strict about sweets, you could use your favorite sugar-free sweetener. Personally, I really dislike stevia, so I would use sucralose (Splenda) or erythritol if I had to use a sugar-free product. After much research, I don't see that using those products once in a while would cause any harm.  The most important thing, in my opinion, is to work steadily towards curbing your taste for sweets.

Anyway-- enough chatter!  Here's the recipe!

My husband and I are enjoying this yummy spread on toast, or on apple slices-- small amounts, of course. It's not as sweet as Nutella, for sure, but I now prefer less sweet.  (You can check out the nutrition facts for my spreads at the bottom of the page,and there is a photo of the nutrition facts from a jar of Nutella just below.)UPDATE: You can make chocolate milk by mixing 2 tablespoons of the spread with a cup of ypour favorite plant-based milk-- I used an immersion/stick blender.

Makes 1 7/8 cups (2 cups when made with Date Paste)
15-16 servings-- 2 T. each serving

This delicious spread is a much more nutritious and dairy-free, palm oil-free option than Nutella, and also less expensive. (See Nutella nutrition label just below, to compare with both versions I have devised .) It's not as cloyingly sweet as Nutella, but the chocolate flavor is deeper and more pronounced, which is a plus, in my opinion!

See Nutrition facts for Chocolate Chickpea Spread made with syrups, or with date paste, at the end of this post. NOTE: When made with Date Paste, the spread is not quite as sweet, but calories, carbs and sugars are somewhat lower.

1 1/2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, drained (14-15 oz. can)
2 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut butter)
2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup
(OR, if you prefer, use 1 cup Date Paste [5 ounces dates) instead of the the 2 syrups-- see just below for Date Paste recipe; OR try 1/3 cup of Splenda [sucralose])
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water (you may not need this if you use the Date Paste)

Blend all of the ingredients in food processor until very smooth.  Store in jar in the refrigerator in a tightly-closed jar for up to two weeks.

NOTE: I use organic Deglet Noor pitted dates, but you can use Medjool dates, if you like.
***You can also use the more inexpensive, tightly-packed block of pressed baking dates from your supermarket, but you will need to weigh the dates -- 15.25 ounces for this recipe. You may also need to add a bit more hot water when processing.***

2 cups (tightly packed) pitted, chopped dates (See Note above)
3 cups boiling water

Soak the dates in the boiling water in a COVERED heat-proof bowl or batter bowl for about 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the soaked pitted dates and water.

Process until very smooth, scraping down the bowl to make sure all of the dates are pulverized. Add a bit more water if the mixtured is too thick.  It should be thick enough to mound up on a spoon, not runny.

Store the date paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or you can freeze it in amounts that suit your cooking or baking needs.


Nutrition Facts  (Using agave nectar and maple syrup)
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: 15
Calories 77
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.4g 4%
Saturated Fat 0.7g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 33mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 8.3g
Protein 1.7g
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 97mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by

Nutrition Facts (using 1 cup Date Paste)
Serving size: 2 tablespoons
Servings: 16
Calories 68
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.2g 4%
Saturated Fat 0.6g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 10.6g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1.5g 5%
Total Sugars 6.4g
Protein 1.8g
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 80mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by