Monthly Archives: July 2011

Basic bentos.

It’s been too hot to cook much so my lunchboxes have been fairly basic lately except when I have had leftovers available. Here are a couple of recent ones with the millet salmon patties I made last week.Strawberries and blueberries, mini pitas and two millet salmon patties.

Greek yogurt with vanilla flavor, a pita, two salmon millet patties and a strawberry.


Coconut lime pie (raw, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free)

What to cook when it is too hot to cook? Toronto is scorching this week. And tomorrow will get worse – it looks like we might possibly set a July heat record with 38C. Plus humidity – the humidex will be around 48C. Ouch. We are being liberal with the airconditioning. Not looking forward to our next electricity bill.

So anyway, I was thinking raw. I am not particularly well versed in raw food, and I personally find it a little extreme to go raw altogether. I mean, vegetables taste so good when they caramelize! However, I was in no mood to turn on the oven, not even to boil anything on the stove top.

A lot of raw recipes rely on nuts I can’t actually eat. Another reason not to eat raw. Most raw pie crusts you find online use nuts and a food processor. Since I have no food processor and I can’t eat the nuts, I had to come up with my own crust, using shredded coconut. It is paired with a rather odd-sounding avocado-based “custard”, which I have seen in other recipes and also observed a friend enjoy at that raw place in St Lawrence Market. But don’t be fooled, it is delicious! Avocado is a fruit, after all, right?

This is not a low fat recipe. Other than that, there isn’t much to complain about. You get your fiber, your fruits and vegetables, some omega-3 from the chia. And we are talking mostly healthy fats here, though I realize for coconut it is up for debate. The color is amazingly green, the flavor bright and lime-y. Given the richness of this, a relatively humble serving will satisfy.

First, make the crust.

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 heaped tbsp ground chia seed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • some water

Mix coconut and chia seed. Add coconut oil and stir. Add water by the tablespoon until the mix starts to clump consistently. Press into pie dish with your fingers.Chill in the fridge.

It should look something like this:

Then, make the filling.

  • about 2 avocados (I had 3/4 huge avocado and 1/2 normal size)
  • zest and juice of one large or two small limes
  • honey or other sweetener, to taste (I prefer it not too sweet, I think I only used about 2 tbsp, or not even. )
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil (should make it set firmer)

Put avocado and lime (zest and juice) in a blender, blend well. Add honey to taste. At the end, add coconut oil in slow stream while blending. You should end up with an incredibly smooth, incredibly green “custard”. Spoon into the pie shell and smooth out. Chill thoroughly in fridge. With the coconut oil in there, it should set well enough to be sliced easily.

VoilĂ , coconut lime pie!

Note: the color is different in the two pictures because a) they were taken at different times in the day with different light and b) even with all the lime, the avocado will eventually start to darken and eventually brown. If you are serving this to guests and want it to look pretty, be sure you make it the same day.

Avocado and a millet salmon patty bento.

This morning I took most of the left over millet from this weekend’s salad and made patties.They go into today’s lunch box, along with a strawberry agar agar dessert, some store bought mini pitas and a medium avocado.

Salmon millet patties

  • cooked millet (approx 1/2- 3/4 cup dry?)
  • one can salmon
  • some chopped cilantro
  • 1/3-1/2 shredded medium zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • cayenne

Work the millet with your hands to break up lumps. Add the remaining ingredients (remove big bones from the fish if you see any), egg last (I use 1 egg here because I don’t think it would stick together otherwise. It only works out to a small fraction of an egg per portion, so I should be fine). Mix well. Form into small patties and fry until golden. Handle with care so that they don’t break. Freeze leftovers.

Bento with millet salad and strawberry agar agar dessert.

The title says it all! I brought this bento box to lunch today, with a millet black bean salad, a strawberry agar agar dessert and a mini pita bread with raisins, cinnamon and apple (the pita was storebought).

Millet black bean salad (large portion)

  • cooked millet (not sure how much I used, about one cup dry)
  • 1 can black beans, preferably low sodium, rinsed well
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 large red onion, diced small
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • cumin
  • cayenne
  • dash olive oil

Mix it all together! Keeps fine in the fridge for a couple of days. I made a huge bowl which I have been serving up to hungry neighbors. It’s kept us from having to cook in the heat for several meals running.

Strawberry agar agar dessert (makes 6 fairly small ones)

  • strawberries
  • 1.5 cup juice (I used a low sugar cranberry white grape blend, but any should do. A clear one will look prettier, I think)
  • about 1 tsp agar agar, or according to package instructions

Slice strawberries and line the sides of a silicone muffin tin (you should need about one strawberry per unit). Boil juice and agar agar for 2-3 minutes, and gently pour into the tins, trying not to disturb the berries too much. Let cool. Agar agar will set at room temperature, but I recommend refrigerating. To unmold, cut around the edges with a small, sharp knife and then wiggle the mold until it comes out.


Cappuccino at Sam James on a Saturday morning. I’ll miss that.

Savory gluten-free millet rosemary muffins

This recipe has several things going for it:

  1. it’s simple
  2. it’s quite healthy – all whole-grain
  3. it doesn’t require a lot of strange ingredients, like many gluten-free recipes
  4. Yet it still turned out so well that for a moment I wondered if I had put wheat flour by mistake – so fluffy and light! (then I remembered that if I had, in such a wet batter, it would have turned into a disaster…)
  5. I think the basic recipe could be varied endlessly with different flavors (I’ll report back once this is ascertained!)
  6. Would work great with soup as a gluten-free alternative to a roll

I came up with it as I was trying to think of something to bring to an afternoon at the beach that wouldn’t spoil too easily in the heat. They are inspired by a recipe from Lundberg Farms (the rice company) which features their gluten-free couscous. I had used the last of mine, and it is quite expensive, so I tried to think of something that might work instead. Millet does have a similar texture to couscous when cooked (at a 2:1 water-millet ratio) so I went with that.

I don’t usually use eggs, given that I don’t like them much and don’t feel great eating a lot of eggs. But I am not allergic to them, really, and I can handle it when it is just one. Gluten-free baking is really a lot easier with eggs…

The original recipe called for buttermilk. There is no such thing as lactose-free buttermilk in the grocery store, so I used the same trick one uses for vegan “buttermilk” – i.e. mixing the milk with a teaspoon of vinegar so that it curdles. This would work just fine with a vegan milk alternative and margarine, but what I had in the fridge today was lactose free milk and butter (the husband has transitioned to lactose-free milk – that way we just need to have one carton in the house at a time, given that I don’t like soy etc, and it also makes better cappuccinos etc).

Savory, gluten-free millet muffins

  • 1 egg (preferably organic)
  • 3/4 cup lactose free milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 1 cup cooked millet, cooled at least somewhat (you don’t want to cook the egg, I guess)
  • 1 tbsp (yes) baking powder
  • t tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (or more rice flour)
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • rosemary

Mix the egg, milk, butter and vinegar. Mix in millet and stir to break up and avoid lumps. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl first, and then blend into the wet.

Don’t overfill the muffin liners – they rise quite a bit (I guess 1tbsp of baking powder has that effect, even when it is gluten free!) I got ten muffins from this recipe.

Bake for 23-25 minutes at 400F.