Friday, November 22, 2013

Lentil Cakes

Featured Ingredient: Camelina Oil

I may have found my new favorite culinary oil. It’s called camelina oil and it’s pressed from an ancient oilseed hailing from Northern Europe. Let me tell you the reasons why I’m all aboard the camelina train these days.

It’s rich in ultra-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve been using grapeseed oil as an all-purpose cooking oil for a while but my concern with it is the very high omega-6 levels. Too much omega-6 to omega-3 can be pro-inflammatory. Camelina oil possesses a better balance of omega-3s to omega-6s. There is also healthy amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E contained within each bottle.

It’s got an awesome flavor reminiscent of asparagus. Truly delicious!

It’s not genetically modified making it a great alternative to canola oil, much of which grown up here in Canada is GMO.

It has a high smoke point so you can use it in the frying pan or for no-cook applications like salad dressings and dips.

The camelina oil I’ve been using lately is from Three Farmers. As the epithet indicates, it’s oil that is cold-pressed from seeds grown by three farmers on the Canadian prairies. One of the coolest things is that you can punch in the code on your bottle into their website and you’ll find out which farmer and which field it hailed from. In an era where food traceability is becoming obsolete, this is a wonderful perk.

My first muffin tin creation using camelina oil is these wholesome lentil cakes. They are bursting with a lot of great flavors and it’s a chance to work more fiber-packed lentils in your diet – something most of us should be aiming for. The oil and sun-dried tomatoes help keep them from becoming too dry. If you are using the packaged tomatoes that are not oil-packed be sure to soak them first before blending with the oil. These lentil cakes are best when some soft goat cheese, cream cheese or hummus is strewn over top. I used my Vita-mix dry container to blend up the lentils, but a food processor or spine grinder (in batches) should work too.

So have I convinced anyone to try camelina oil?

Lentil Carrot Cakes

1 cup green or brown lentils
2 medium sized carrots, grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2/3 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/3 cup camelina oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grind lentils into a powder this is only slightly coarse. In a large bowl, combine lentil flower, carrot, cheese and egg.

Place sun-dried tomatoes, camelina oil, 1/4 cup water, mustard, thyme, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, salt and black pepper in a blender or food processor contain and blend until smooth. Add some additional water if needed to help with blending.

Divide mixture among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Be sure to press down on the mixture so it is flat and compact. Bake for 18 minutes, or until they have firmed up but are still moist. Don’t over bake! Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mango Coconut Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Coconut Oil

I recently wrote an article for Shape magazines website about coconut oil. You can find it here and it pretty much outlines my stance on it. Sure, it has plenty of saturated fat but even as a dietitian I’m not banishing it from my pantry. In fact, it’s probably my favourite oil to use for baking as I find it makes for “lighter” products than what you get with butter.

With the tropics in mind, these mango muffins are a perfect opportunity to add some coconut goodness to your diet. Both the mango puree and the dried mango cuts down on the need for much added sugar and keeps the muffins crazy moist. Tabi says these are even better with honey. I have to agree!

These days there are a lot of great coconut oil products out there. Case in point: Kelapo. Perhaps I am biased because they source their coconut oil from Sri Lanka where Tabi and I spent a glorious winter recently cycling, but their organic, fair trade coconut oil really does rock. And in a food world increasingly dominated by big corporations, I’m always ready to give a shout out to the small guys like Kelapo. 

So here is the good news. Kelapo has agreed to award one of my readers with some of their coconut oil. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I go cuckoo for coconut oil” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday November 14th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize. 

Good news Julie, you were randomly selected the winner. Thanks to everyone who entered. 

Mango Muffins

Adapted from Whole Foods

3 oz. dried mango
1 1/2 cup cubed mango, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut sugar or other sugar of choice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Place dried mango in a bowl, cover with boiling water and let soak 30 minutes. Drain well in a colander, pressing to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Chop and set aside.

Prheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place mango and coconut milk in a blender container and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in mango-coconut liquid, coconut oil, sugar and almond extract if using. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently until everything is moist. Stir in chopped dried mango.

Divide among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.