a flexible approach to quarantine cooking | combining flavors

Quarantine cooking is no joke. With shelves bare, your kitchen cupboard overflowing with spices you never figured out how to use and annoyingly small quantities of random grains, it’s a challenge to piece together a meal.

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Let me help! Food creativity is an ability I’m proud and grateful to have. Having the patience and energy to think through what I’m putting on my plate, with barely anything at all on hand. And sharing my ideas matters to me ūüôā

If you have the following on hand, there’s a lot you can do. I’ve upped the ante in my kitchen by cooking simple, flavorless ingredients with a combination of these items to keep things fresh and new.

  • Types of seasoning/’oomph’: spices & condiments. Yes, even that random jar of mustard powder. But also pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, leftover red wine, dried herbs, dried mushrooms, ginger paste, fresh garlic and onion, fresh herbs if you’re lucky, tomato paste, tea bags (for real!), dark chocolate (also for real!), bay leaf, hot sauce, celery, dried seaweed, fish sauce, liquid smoke
  • Types of saltiness: soy sauce, stock cubes, salt, marmite or yeast extract, ¬†nutritional yeast, pesto, miso, cheese, olives or canned mackerel and anchovies, capers are salty flavor bombs
  • Types of sour: leftover white wine, vinegar, lemon and limes, other citrus fruit, fresh coriander, dried mango powder, any type of pickle, berries, lemongrass
  • An element of richness: yoghurt, coconut milk, avocado if you’re lucky, ghee or butter, hummus, shelf-stable cream, nuts and nut butters, tahini, an egg, mayonnaise, pureed vegetables
  • A crispy extra: crispy onions, crushed tortilla chips, sesame seeds, fried breadcrumbs, toasted nuts, fried chickpeas, toasted buckwheat, linseeds, flaked sea salt, coconut flakes, fried egg noodles, spring onions, sliced cabbage, fried garlic

 

Balancing these flavors will make your meals so much more interesting. Here are some ideas divided by meal category!

For a pasta dish

  • Fry garlic, onions, and/or chilli
  • Add meat and/or vegetables and deglaze in some wine
  • Stir in some pesto, chopped olives, chopped anchovies or capers
  • Top with a squeeze of lemon and¬†crispy fired garlic flakes or toasted breadcrumbs

 

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For an Indian dish

  • Cook a pulse in water with either a teabag, tomato paste, bay leaf, dried mango powder and/or a chilli, some stock, paprika, turmeric, and any other spices you may have
  • Fry any vegetables with some onions, garlic, ginger, whole cumin and coriander seed before adding to your pulse
  • Stir in yoghurt, coriander and or lime, coconut milk or a dollop of ghee
  • Top with crispy chickpeas, coconut flakes or spring onion

 

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For a Thai dish

  • Fry a vegetable, meat and/or tofu in oil, ground turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli and/or Kafir lime
  • Add noodles and cover with stock, coconut milk and/or peanut butter
  • Top with some fried egg noodles, spring onion and a squeeze of lime

 

For a broth bowl

  • Fry some garlic, ginger, chilli, onion in oil and top with stock
  • Stir in miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, ¬†or yeast extract
  • Add dried mushrooms, dried seaweed, lemongrass and noodles
  • Top with¬†a boiled egg
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds, spring onions, crispy onions, pickled ginger or sliced carrot

 

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For a rice bowl

  • Cook rice in stock and tomato paste, dried herbs, stock, onions, paprika and/or cumin
  • Top with stir-fried vegetables, tofu or chickpeas in garlic, and salt
  • Add a dollop of hummus, yoghurt, or smashed avocado
  • Sprinkle some nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, flaked salt, toasted buckwheat

 

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For toast

  • Spread hummus, or yoghurt stirred with pesto, or avocado on toasted bread
  • Top with a boiled egg, crispy chickpeas, or canned fish
  • Drizzle hot sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, flavored oil or balsamic vinegar

 

For an egg dish

  • Fry¬†vegetables in garlic, onion and paprika, tomato paste or soy sauce¬†and/or dried herbs
  • Crack in eggs
  • Top with fresh herbs, yoghurt, lemon or spring onions
  • Sprinkle over sesame seeds, or toasted buckwheat or pumpkin seeds

 

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ayurvedic + gut-friendly savoury oats

A warming bowl of porridge is so much more than a plate of food. Share it with a friend and it becomes a topic of conversation. Make it after a long day and it becomes a source of comfort. Let your imagination run free and it becomes a creative outlet.

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how to make the best gut-healing oatmeal

Oatmeal, porridge, whatever you wanna call it. One thing: treat it like risotto.

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Oats are like the perfect middle-ground between incredibly indulgent and incredibly nutritious.

I was probably born with a spoonful of oats in my mouth. Wherever I was, at home, at school, on holidays, oats always made an appearance. Except my oat consumption has changed drastically since those dairy and microwave days. I actually used to pour cornflakes on top of my porridge. That crunch was everything. Now it just comes in a different shape (i.e. spoonfuls of PB)!

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the gut-friendly valentine’s guide you’ve been looking for

It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!

Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.

There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?

So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.

Option b) generally wins for me!

I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.

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is your whole30 whole enough?

It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking¬†#FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!

I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.

But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.

No. Don’t be cool.

If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.

#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries

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Going sugar-free this Christmas? 5 tips to succeed

Now that the festive season has well and truly started, it’s time to get down to business. Because no one ever starts eating Christmas-ey foods on Christmas day. Am I right? Work parties, annual dinners and special editions of your favourite brand names (Cheeselets have become Treelets. How can I resist?) are almost guaranteed to get you in the festive mood way before it’s time!

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© karen mordechai

So, what’s your commitment this year? Is it to stay sugar-free? It totally should be, I promise it is SO much fun. And yes, more than once there has been a lot of cheese involved. Sorry not sorry.

Whatever your motivation, I can promise you that you won’t feel left out. It’s all about that mindset, after all. But really, this year will be my 21st Christmas without any sugar whatsoever, and I’m still standing!

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green zombie popcorn + why I created #healthoween

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And it’s Monday again. As it turns out, this weekend is Halloween weekend! I am super duper excited.¬†See, I didn’t end up doing much last year, because I wasn’t ‘in the know’. I don’t know how it happened, but I felt very uninformed about what was going on!

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the Whole30: my thoughts + why it didn’t work for me

In a nutshell: it simply wasn’t the right time, the right solution or the right fit for me.

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the reason why

So I decided to complete the Whole30 because the lovely Kate, my nutritional therapist, advised I remove dairy and gluten from my diet to regulate my digestion, and the September Whole30 was about to start, and I thought it would be a good excuse for me to combine the two. So I did, and it took a great deal out of me at the beginning. My digestion took a hard hit. It is very¬†fragile on my regular diet (mostly vegetarian, occasional animal products, lots of grains), and I didn’t give it enough time to adjust to the changes of a paleo-style diet (lots more meat, no grains).

 

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apple cinnamon pork loin from Paleo Leap

 

You may or may not know that the paleo diet includes moderate amounts of meat, fish, nuts and dairy-free animal products, as well as an abundance of vegetables. No grains, no pulses, no peanuts and no soy. You are expected to eat a moderate amount of animal and plant fat to keep you satiated. The paleo community has become renowned for recreating pancakes, cakes and tortillas employing tricks using cashews, cauliflower and avocado. Now, the Whole30 encourages the paleo part, but not the recreating part. You can read more about it here.

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10 signs you’ve become an uber foodie

Happy Thursday everyone! The summer is coming to an end, and for some reason, I have been feeling so creative this month in the kitchen! I have been making and testing plenty of new things ready for the autumn, and you can expect to see a lot more food on the BARE. blog. Lots of unsweetened, pumpkin spiced things, in particular. Nom.

So it came to my attention my foodi-ness has reached a new high. I’ve tried plantain. I like seaweed. I snack on homemade sauerkraut. I know how to make cashew cheese.

Foodies are a unique breed of people. Food is at the very heart of our lives, and nothing makes us happier¬†than tasting new foods and testing new kitchen tricks. I thought I would round up 10, pretty good indicators that you’ve become an uber foodie.

you’ve come to like food shopping more than clothes shopping

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You would rather shop for a bagful of fresh and vibrant vegetables than have to try on a new dress. It’s so much more satisfying, looking at all those beautiful leaves and roots.

you own one too many mason jars

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#septemberwhole30 week 3: what I ate + how I feel

Wow, this week has gone by so fast. And successful in terms of non-scale victories. Like snacking. I like snacking, but I’m finally learning not to snack so much.
I’ve not been keeping track of my food so well (or taking photos of it!), but I’ll do my best to recall what I’ve been eating, making, tasting and maybe even smelling.

day 15

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Breakfast is always the same. I’m really intending to change it up next week, which’ll be the final week of my Whole30. 2 fried eggs (in coconut oil), a slice or two of bacon, and some not-so-optional avocado. Yay.
Lunch is pretty interesting. I attempt to make pork sausages out of minced pork, sage and mustard but they turn out to be incredibly wet. So I decide to hash them with some cauliflower rice instead of making patties and serve it over a black kale salad, with some sauerkraut and avocado. My dressing of choice remains the same; tahini, apple cider vinegar and some seasoning.
I don’t snack today. That is a major non-scale victory for me, because I’m normally itching to eat something in between meals. I did have a mandatory black coffee at some point, like evry day.
Dinner is a simple roast chicken, with turmeric and cumin. It turns out amazing this week, really juicy and crispy-skinned, and I serve it with some potatoes, mashed with a little clarified butter.

Continue reading “#septemberwhole30 week 3: what I ate + how I feel”