Category Archives: Recipes

Quest Bars (& Vitafiber): Recipe, Review

Like Tom and me, our nephew grew tired of Michigan’s weather and thought he’d venture to California. Ah, a millennial following in our footsteps! We had a place for him at The New Deli, and a spare room, so it’s worked out well.

It’s been especially fun to discover that our nephew Nolan is about as weirdly frugal as us. Back in 2013, when Nolan first moved in with us out here in California, he asked me if I could look into a product called “Vitafiber”. He was hoping to make his own Quest bars with the stuff, which would save him considerable money.

I’d never heard of Vitafiber. Or Quest bars. I don’t run with the crowd that works out at the gym and buys muscle-building supplements! But I do get a lot of exercise, and hitch a ride on the Paleo bandwagon often enough, so Nolan’s interests and mine do intersect at points. Not to mention the frugal quality- saving money can be a driving force for me!

ISO Vitafiber + Whey = Paleo Goodness

So I looked into it. My nephew warned me- the product was fairly new and hadn’t quite hit the mainstream. I concluded that it seemed a bit pricey at that time. But it did just become available on Amazon this spring, so- I guess it’s mainstream now!

And while not everyone will want to spend the extra dollars on VitaFiber, some might want to check it out, to see if it works for them. It’s been known to improve sleep, glucose tolerance, to lower blood sugar, and aid digestion. I was glad I tried it!

Homemade Chocolate Quest Bars

Quest bars are the beloved snack of much of the muscle-building clan, and other paleo sorts trying to avoid an excess of carbs. Quest bars are super low-carb, since they’re only sweetened with a “prebiotic fiber” commonly known as VitaFiber. It’s also known as “ISO”, which stands for a long, scientific name (isomalto-oligosaccharide). Sounds man-made, but it’s basically just starch (from various starchy food sources) that has been fermented to yield this somewhat-sweet product.

I made the following small batch of bars, which will come in handy on an upcoming trip. Hey, far better than airplane food, and much more convenient than trying to make a smoothie while I’m on the road (or in the air)!

You might dip these in bittersweet chocolate and roll ‘em in some chopped nuts, which would no doubt increase their popularity. Makes 4 small bars.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 C. VitaFiber Syrup
  • 5 TBS. whey powder
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

PREPARATION

1. Oil measuring cup before measuring out syrup. Use: > 1/4 c. VitaFiber Syrup
2. Heat the syrup in a pan, bring it to a boil.
3. Remove the pan from heat; stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing heartily until smooth. Use: >5 TBS. whey powder > 2 tsp. cocoa powder > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 1/4 tsp. salt
4. Oil a small square loaf pan (4” long or so), or use silicon molds (available on Amazon). Add mixture to pan and refrigerate.
5. Cut into 4 bars. If desired, dip into melted bittersweet chocolate and roll in nuts. Other flavor ideas: Use mint extract instead of cinnamon. Or substitute Matcha green tea powder for the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Use vanilla or almond extracts too, depending on your personal tastes.

 

Also posted in 1. Healthy Style (Snacks, Meal-Replacements), Blog, Featured | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Baklava Bars: Healthy Granola Bars with a Twist

The deli girls were craving another batch of granola bars. I must admit, I welcomed the idea- after all, we don’t live on bread alone! Tom does rely on a nice chunk of whole wheat sourdough bread for snacking on almost every day, so this would be a nice change of pace. I opted to change up the ingredients in the energy bars I often make, since I wanted to do something with pistachios. I was thrilled to discover the bars tasted a lot like baklava!

Baklava Bars w/Pistachios, Honey- HEALTHY!A hint of almond extract, mixed with the honey and toasted pistachios, makes these energy bars taste almost like the buttery Greek confection, baklava. Only healthier! Makes 20 small bars.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 c. oatmeal (1 lb.) (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 2 c. toasted hazelnuts (or sub almonds, or cashews)
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. toasted pistachios
  • 1 rounded c. pitted Deglet Noor dates

PREPARATION

  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the oatmeal until a bit golden, stirring constantly. Or, toast it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so, until golden.
  2. Process approximately half the oatmeal into flour in a blender (or food processor). Use: > 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
  3. Set toasted oat flour aside in separate bowl. Process the other half of oatmeal a bit coarser, to give the bars some texture. Use: > 2 c. oatmeal
  4. Add coarse-chopped oatmeal to the bowl of oat flour. Process the toasted hazelnuts in a blender (or food processor) until it turns into nut butter. Use: > 2 c. toasted hazelnuts
  5. To the hazelnut butter in blender/processor, add: > 1/4 c. coconut oil > > 1/4 c. butter > 2/3 c. honey > 1 tsp. salt > 2 tsp. almond extract > 4 tsp. cinnamon
  6. Add the hazelnut butter mix to the oats in bowl. Lightly process to coarse-chop: > 1 c. toasted pistachios
  7. Add chopped pistachios to bowl; coarse-chop dates in blender next. Use: > 1 rounded c. pitted dates
  8. Add dates to bowl of other ingredients. Mix with hands until blended. Press into 9″ x 9″ pan or dish; chill until firm (about an hour) before cutting. If desired, slice and wrap in wax paper; store in jar in fridge.
Also posted in 2. Bars, Bread & Breakfast, Featured | Leave a comment

Artichoke Frittata, Gluten-Free

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t NOT put a little starch in the frittata I was making for a bridal shower this weekend. Because… I love how adding some kind of starch (typically, flour) makes it so much easier to cut. It holds up and is much more manageable. I originally thought I’d make the frittata spontaneous-style, but I ran out of time. “Spontaneous” as in like an open-faced omelet, topped with pretty veggies and cheese, broiled to a golden hue. I didn’t have time for that- I wanted to visit too!

I also knew a few of us were gluten-free, so I opted to try potato starch instead of flour. It worked! And we all really enjoyed it. Recipe below :)

Gluten-Free Aritchoke FrittataThe beauty of this dish for a brunch, tea, or other festive party occasion is that it is easy to make, bakes nicely at the last minute, AND is easy to serve! A little potato starch in the mix helps it to stick together so that slicing into serving pieces is easy. Trader Joe’s makes it easy too, since they have frozen artichoke hearts with nothing else on ’em. (Some of us would rather skip those weird ingredients found in marinated artichoke hearts. Plus, TJ’s are a better value!)

Makes one 13 x 9″ dish, to serve 15 or so.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 lb. grated jack cheese, divided
  • 4 oz. goat cheese, ricotta, or other creamy cheese
  • 1-12 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1-2 TBS. Italian dressing
  • 1/2 c. potato starch
  • 3 slices tomatoes, if desired

PREPARATION

1. Stir eggs well. Use: > 12 eggs

2. Add half the grated cheese, plus all but the tomato slices. Stir well, using: > Half of grated Jack cheese > 4 oz. goat cheese (or other) > 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed > 1-2 TBS. Italian dressing > 1/2 c. potato starch

3. Pour into buttered 13 x 9” dish, topping with: > 3 tomatoes, sliced

4. Top with: > The other half of Jack cheese

5. Bake at 375 degrees 30 minutes until golden on top. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.

Also posted in 2. Bars, Bread & Breakfast, Blog, Featured | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fruit of Self-Control, Harvest of Righteousness!

There seems to be a painful period in the first thirty days, before establishing a habit. But after doing the groundwork, denying the cravings or whatever it is for a month or so, a habit settles in. Self-control starts being second nature. Ideally, we even start enjoying what we are blessed with, instead of craving what we don’t have.

A few friends shake their heads, thinking I must be an incredible stoic or something, when I pass on the generic dessert. But God blesses me with an enjoyment and appetite for the best of foods, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I pass on the lesser foods. I thought Hebrews 12:11 applied here…Discipline's no fun at the time, but produces righteousness!

Wallpaper: Desktop Backgrounds w/Verses

The following are a couple of backgrounds you can use to remind yourself (that the struggles get better!).

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

(To use for desktop wallpaper, left click on appropriate monitor size, then right click and choose “select :

Click here for Background for wider monitors

Click here for Background for shorter monitors

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Chocolate Mousse, Easy Paleo

Last year I posted this recipe for a real nice chocolate mousse, low in carbs, high in deliciousness! I’ve discovered since then that you don’t really have to whip the egg whites separately- left on high for ten minutes or so, the whole-egg version whips up light and fluffy on its own. Still low in carbs, high in yummy-ness, but also: Even easier to make. Whoot!

I like that this recipe is streamlined. Although cocoa powder can be difficult to sift into mixes without getting lumpy, in this recipe, it’s mixed into the honey first, which removes any lumps. Perfect! This mousse can serve 4, but two hungry people have been known to polish it off on their own…

Chocolate Mousse, Easy Paleo INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs (room-temperature for best volume)
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 can coconut cream, chilled

PREPARATION

1. Whip room-temperature eggs until light and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes on high. Use: > 4 eggs

2. In an oiled glass measuring cup (or small bowl), measure in the following. (The oil will keep the honey from sticking.) Use: > 1/4 c. cocoa powder > 1/3 c. honey > 1 tsp. vanilla > 1/4 tsp. salt

3. Gently fold the cocoa-honey mix into the whipped eggs. Set aside.

4. Coconut cream is thicker than milk, although some canned coconut milk is almost solid when you shake it- that’s what you’re looking for. When removing the coconut cream from the can, you can set any liquid that’s settled to the bottom of the can aside for other uses, as it might water the recipe down a bit. Whip the pre-chilled coconut cream in separate bowl. Use: > 16-oz. can coconut cream

5. Fold all the ingredients together, then pour into cute little mason jars or stemmed glasses. Place in refrigerator several hours, or overnight, to set.

6. Garnish with fresh fruit or a bit of chocolate, if desired, to serve.

 

Also posted in 8. Desserts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, Easy Style

I needed a fast recipe for a quick birthday cake. I needed a small recipe, cuz we didn’t all want to get fat. I’d just read how good hazelnuts are for you (Mark’s Daily Apple, article on Nuts About Nuts). I had a Trader Joe’s bag of roasted hazelnuts on hand, and some chocolate chips, butter, and eggs. So I made THIS!

Hazelnut Torte- Simple IngredientsInspired by an old Martha Stewart recipe (“Double Diablo Chocolate Cake”), but even better- it’s easier. I found out: No, you do not have to whip the egg yolks and whites separately. Score, for time-saving! I streamlined most of the steps, at no sacrifice of taste.

I don’t usually have cream on hand for the Ganache frosting, but discovered that butter subs perfectly- another convenience. Serves 10.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. toasted hazelnuts (plus 1/2 c. or so for decorating)
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips (for ganache frosting)
  • 1/4 c. butter (for ganache frosting)

PREPARATION

1. Beat together until light and fluffy: > 3 eggs, room temperature > 1/2 c. sugar

2. Meanwhile, microwave 60-80 seconds: > 1 c. chocolate chips

3. Stir chocolate until melted. Add: > 1 stick butter, room temperature

4. Set the chocolate mixture aside. To prepare pan, grease an 8” or 9″ round pan and line bottom with parchment or wax paper. Grease the paper also.

5. Chop nuts until fine in blender or processor. Use: > 1 c. toasted hazelnuts

6. To the chopped nuts, add and mix together: > 1/4 c. flour

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then remove from pans. Frost cake when cool.

8. For frosting, microwave 40 seconds or so: > 1/2 c. chocolate chips

9. Mix chocolate chips until smooth, then stir in: > 1/4 c. butter

10. Let frosting cool if necessary, until it’s a good consistency (not too thick or thin) Frost cake. Decorate cake with: > 1/2 c. toasted hazelnuts

11. Let frosting set up for an hour or so, then serve.

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Tabbouleh- Traditional or Gluten-Free

We used to make this salad at The New Deli; we would deliver it throughout the Bay Area to various health food stores. Back then, hardly anyone in Pinole had heard of Tabbouleh; it wasn’t as popular on home turf. It’s popular in our house though- goes great with lamb. And, if you want gluten-free, just substitute quinoa for the bulgar

Mideastern Salad- Better than Cous Cous!This whole-grain side dish is quite refreshing. Add more or less of various ingredients to suit personal tastes. Increase the recipe for larger crowds! Serves 4-6.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 c. Bulgar wheat, or Quinoa (for gluten-free)
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 c. chopped spearmint
  • 2-3 single green onions, chopped fine
  • 1/4 c. olive oil (virgin, if available)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice

PREPARATION

1. Pour boiling water over Bulgar in a bowl; let it sit until cooled (20 minutes or so): > 1 1/4 c. Bulgar* (or see quinoa directions, bottom of page) > 1 c. boiling water

2. Prep the veggies: Peel cucumber, cut it in half the long way, running finger down the middle to remove seeds. Use organic cucumber if available (as they are on the Dirty Dozen list otherwise!). Cut tomatoes in quarters, removing seeds/pulp (reserve for a sauce or soup?). Chop the herbs and dice the green onion. Use: > 1 small cucumber > 2 tomatoes > 1/4 c. parsley > 1/4 c. spearmint > 2-3 green onions

3. Add the prepped, chopped ingredients to the soaked, cooled bulgar. Toss with: > 1/4 c. olive oil

4. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, toss again: > 1/4 c. lemon juice > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/4 tsp. pepper

5. Serve with grilled meats or vegetarian main dishes.

Variation: You can use coconut milk for all or part of the liquid, bringing it to a boil before adding the Bulgar. Alter the flavors by omitting the olive oil, spearmint, tomato, and cucumber. Add lime, if available, and some chopped almonds. If you have organically-grown roses, use a few petals, slivered, on top for garnish. Crumbled feta can also be a welcome addition.

* Quinoa Directions: To go gluten-free, sub quinoa; add 2 1/4 c. boiling water to 1 1/4 c. quinoa. Simmer for 12 minutes or so, until it has absorbed water. Let cool, then proceed with recipe.

Also posted in 6. Sides, Sauces, & Such | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Roasted Pepper Soup w/Sweet Potatoes

This is a simple blend of ingredients, but an exquisite soup- the sum is greater than the parts! Use organic peppers if possible, although a good roasted paprika will substitute well, and will remove the time-consuming step of peeling the roasted peppers. Serves 20 or so at The New Deli (but you can make a smaller batch for the home crew).

Creamy Roasted Pepper Soup w/Sweet Potatoes, Ginger, Caramelized Onion

INGREDIENTS

• 2-3 red peppers
• 3 lg. sweet potatoes (4 1/2 lb. or so) (or 3 TBS. Organic Smoked Paprika)
• 3 lb. onion
• 1/3 c. olive oil
• 2 tsp. dried ginger
• 1 TBS. fresh-grated ginger
• 1 TBS. salt
• Fresh-grated pepper

PREPARATION

1. Roast peppers ahead of time if possible; this makes it easier to pull this soup together! To roast, get an iron skillet smoking hot, adding peppers (and a lid, if available). Roast each side for about 5-6 minutes, rolling peppers over about four times, to get all sides blackened some. When done, set aside peppers to cool until easy enough to handle. Roast: > 2-3 red peppers

2. Peel peppers after they’re cool. Remove outer blackened skin as well as seeds. Reserve juices as well, as it’s very flavorful. Set aside. (Skip Steps 1 and 2 if substituting paprika.)

3. Peel sweet potatoes, chop into big cubes, and add boiling water to cover. Simmer until tender. Use: > 3 lg. sweet potatoes

4. Caramelize onions in medium pan. It’s best if they’re crowded some, so they juice up a bit. As the onion juices slowly simmer away, the sugars in the juice caramelize, giving the onions a wonderful sweet flavor. Use: > 3 lb. thick-sliced onion > splash of olive oil for sautéing.

5. In soup pot, use immersion blender to puree the cooked sweet potatoes, the caramelized onions, and the peeled red peppers. (Or use food processor, or blender.) Blend in: > 1/3 c. olive oil

6. To pot of soup, also add: > Any extra liquid from roasting peppers > 2 tsp. dried ginger > 1 TBS. grated ginger > 1 TBS. salt > fresh-grated black pepper > more liquid (or stock) if necessary, to get to right consistency.

7. To garnish, you can infuse some olive oil with paprika to make a bright orange oil, for drizzling. Or a touch of parsley also works!

Also posted in 3. Soups | Tagged , , | 2 Responses

Mint Chocolate Brownies, New Deli Style

These brownies have become quite popular at The New Deli. A few folks were hoping to get the recipe too. It is in my first cookbook, From the Land of Milk and Honey. But I thought I’d share it below too!

New Deli Mint Brownies

Aren’t mint and chocolate a perfect combination?! You’ll never have to buy peppermint patties again. And this is a fairly simple recipe. Melting the butter for the mint layer is the key; when it firms up, it’s just like candy. If my schedule is tight, I might make these several days early; after cutting them into squares, they can be frozen until serving. Serves 10-15.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick (plus 1 stick) butter
  • 1 TBS. water
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/3 c. chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. EACH salt and baking soda
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS. cream
  • 1-2 drops green food coloring
  • 1 tsp. mint extract
  • 2 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 sq. unsweetened chocolate

Brownies: PREPARATION

1. Microwave 1-2 min. in ceramic bowl: > 1 stick butter > 1 TBS. water > 3/4 c. sugar

2. Add, mixing in until melted: > 1 1/3 c. chocolate chips

3. Next, add the chocolate mix to the following in mixer bowl: > 1 tsp. vanilla > 1/4 tsp. EACH salt & baking soda > 1 c. flour > 2 eggs

4. Mix all the above in mixer, 3-5 min. on high. Pour into 9 x 13″ pan, lined with foil for easy cleanup. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. Let cool completely in refrigerator, then turn out of pan, pulling foil off bottom. Put back in pan, spreading the following on when brownies have cooled (several hours).

Mint Filling: PREPARATION

1. Microwave 1 minute in glass bowl, or melt in pan: > 1 stick butter

2. Add to bowl: > 1 TBS. cream > 1 drops green food coloring > 2 drops yellow food coloring > 2 tsp. mint extract

3. Mix the above well, then add: > 2 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

4. Mix again; this will be a thick mixture. Spread/pat onto cooled brownies and chill for a few minutes while preparing topping.

Chocolate Topping: PREPARATION

1. Microwave 1-2 minutes in glass bowl, or melt carefully on low heat (or in double broiler) on stove: > 5 sq. unsweetened chocolate > 1/2 c. chocolate chips

2.Drizzle melted chocolate on top of mint layer.  Spread evenly over top with spatula. This will be easier if the mint layer hasn’t chilled for too long (otherwise, the melted chocolate cools before it can all be spread). Chill 15 minutes or until chocolate layer is firm, then cut into bars. Store in freezer if desired.

Also posted in 8. Desserts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Italian Tomato Soup w/Goat Cheese

We got to craving a new soup at The New Deli, and came up with this. Wowzers- we LOVE it! We have a good, creamy goat cheese on hand to drizzle on it, though you could sub yogurt or sour cream.

Italian Tomato Soup- Just pureed veggies, herbsThis is a light soup with a wonderful blend of flavors. Makes 2 quarts or so of soup (12 servings); it will freeze well too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lg. onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, in chunks
  • 1 oz. (2 TBS.) minced garlic
  • 1 TBS. fennel seed
  • 3 pts. (6 c.) canned tomato
  • 1 lb. tomato paste (or one 8-oz. can and one 12-oz. can)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 TBS. fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 TBS. fresh chopped thyme
  • 2-4 oz. goat cheese for 6 servings

PREPARATION

1. In pressure cooker, cook until tender in enough boiling water to cover: > 1 lg. onion, quartered > 4 carrots, in chunks > 1 oz. (2 TBS.) minced garlic
2. In hot skillet or in toaster oven, toast until golden: > 1 TBS. fennel seed
3. Grind toasted fennel seed in small electric spice/coffee blender or hand-crush with mortar and pestle.
4. Add the fennel to the cooked veggies along with: > 3 pts. (6 c.) canned tomato
5. Process the veggies, fennel seed, and tomato pieces until smooth. Add: > 1 lb. tomato paste (or one 8-oz. can and one 12-oz. can) > 1 tsp. salt > 1/3 c. olive oil > 1 TBS. fresh chopped rosemary > 1 TBS. fresh chopped thyme
6. Heat the mixture to serve, or reserve some for the freezer, for future meals. For a tasty garnish, use a few ounces of creamy-style goat cheese; mix it with a bit of warm water to correct consistency, and drizzle on top of soup before serving. Use: > 2-4 oz. goat cheese for 6 servings (or sub yogurt or sour cream)

Also posted in 3. Soups | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
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