Frealthy

Vegan Crème Brûlée

Most of my family, excluding my son, loved this dessert. I made the mistake of allowing him to smell the nutritional yeast flakes—prior to adding them to the cream. The smell stuck with my son and he could taste the flakes in the finished crème brûlée. 

Keep in mind that my mom, sister, and I absolutely love this dessert. Packed with vitamins, the funky-smelling nutritional yeast flakes mask the coconut milk and add a very pleasant, eggy flavor. The vegan cream magically transforms into an I-can’t-believe-this-isn’t-dairy dessert.

Ingredients 
13.5 oz can coconut milk 
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 tsp nutritional yeast flakes 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch turmeric
4 tbsp granulated sugar, or more 

Instructions
1. Mix coconut milk, arrowroot powder, sugar and cashews in a saucepan over medium heat. 
2. Stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Add the creamy mixture to a blender. Then add nutritional yeast flakes, vanilla extract, and turmeric. Blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour the cream into ramekins and place in the fridge to set overnight to thicken. 
5. Finish by topping each cream with a layer of granulated sugar. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar, creating the candy-coated crust. I like to use two layers of sugar—I brûlée one layer then top that layer with sugar and brûlée a second layer—because one layer is just too thin for me.

Find the original recipe here: https://namelymarly.com/vegan-creme-brulee/

Crème Brûlée

I wouldn’t call this traditional crème brûlée recipe a healthy dessert, but it certainly is French and amazing. If you want a more nutritious version, click here for this vegan crème brûlée that stands out from the crowd in ingredients and flavor. 

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt 
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, more for topping

Instructions
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Mix cream and salt over low heat, until cream starts to smoke a bit. 
3. Add vanilla extract and let the cream sit.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together.
5. Temper eggs by stirring a quarter of the hot cream into the eggs.
6. Pour egg mixture into broiler-safe ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish.
7. Fill baking dish with boiling water that reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
8. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the center is giggly. Allow to cool before refrigerating for several hours, up to a couple of days.
9. Before topping with sugar, let ramekins sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
10. After a thin layer of sugar, place ramekins about 6 inches under a broiler. Turn on broiler. 
11. Cook for about 5 minutes, until sugar melts and browns. Your kitchen will smell like cotton candy. Please check—by looking through the window in the oven door—to make sure everything is browning and there are no (small fire) issues.
12. Serve within 2 hours.

Carrot Soup Recipe 

For a pillowy soft and tasty carrot soup try this easy recipe.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp pure olive oil 
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced 
4 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt, pepper and oregano
1 ½ cup vegetable stock
1 ½ cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp of orange juice 
1 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp of grated ginger 
1 Tbsp of orange zest

For Topping (optional) 
1 Tbsp pure olive oil
1 slice thick, uncured turkey bacon, chopped
1 quarter Vidalia onion, sliced 
Herbs de Provence 
¼ cup green onions 

Instructions (for Soup)
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
3. Add carrots and sauté for five minutes, stirring periodically.
4. Salt and pepper vegetables and stir. 
5. Add oregano, then add vegetable stock, water, coconut milk, and orange juice. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for half an hour. 
6. Pour soup into a blender, add peanut butter, ginger and orange zest. 
7. Blend until luscious, soft and velvety. 

Instructions (For Topping) 
1. Heat oil in skillet over high heat.
2. Add bacon and brown.
3. Remove bacon and set aside. Add onion slices. Brown for five minutes and add pinch of salt and herbs de Provence. Cook for a minute and remove from pan. 
4. Ladle soup in your favorite bowl and add green onions. Add onions, bacon and more green onions on top. Enjoy! 

Parisian Potato Salad

Parisian potato salad defies the need for all of the traditional ingredients of American potato salad. Minus mayonnaise, hard boiled eggs and pickles, this potato salad is a healthier, more sensual version. Fresh dill provides a tangy, pickle flavor and aroma.

Ingredients 
10 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 Tsp honey (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced 
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped 
1 cup chopped green onion

Instructions 
1. Clean and peel (or keep the peels on if you prefer) potatoes and cut into quarter inch slices. 
2. Put potatoes with a pinch of salt to boil. Lower heat once water begins to boil and cook for 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes, let them cool and add salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. 
3. For the dressing, in a large bowl mix mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, red vinegar, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and honey. Slowly add the olive oil, pouring a little bit as you whisk. Finally add the dill. And breathe in that delicious pickily scent, while continuing to whisk!
4. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and add the green onions. Toss well. Taste and adjust for flavor. 

Sweet Potato Shrimp Fritter 

Sweet potatoes are wealthy in nutrients and vitamins—and undeniable flavor, in my opinion. They also do a great job of partnering up with shrimp in this French-Vietnamese fritter. 

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large sweet potato 
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup minced Vidalia onions
1 tablespoon minced sweet red pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup peanut oil/oil of your choice for frying 

Instructions: 
1. In a large bowl combine Worcestershire sauce and shrimp. Cover the bowl and refrigerate.
2. Steam sweet potato till fork tender. Remove from pot and let cool. Peel and chop. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, onions, scallions, red peppers, ginger, garlic, sweet chili sauce, salt and pepper.
3. Mix egg with Dijon mustard and add to the sweet potato mixture. Add the gruyere. Stir in the flour and mix.
4. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, then chop and fold into the sweet potato mixture.
5. In a skillet, heat oil for frying. Form fritters. I like them flat or round. If you prefer flat, fry them for 3 minutes on both sides. If you prefer rounder, fry them on top and bottom for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat, and let them cook for 2 more minutes or until cooked through.

Simply Stewed Chicken

Last week, the unthinkable happened. My son, with a ridiculously high fever, tested positive for influenza. All other plans, including making petite crevettes and writing about it on this blog, got scratched. I was focused on nursing him back to health, day and night if needed. 

After five days of expensive antibiotics, lots of ginger tea, juice, water, sleep, and chicken soup, he was his normal active, seven-year-old, can’t sit still self. And after five days of food deliveries—also Emergen-C, Echinacea, and my own liquid multivitamin to stave off contracting the flu—I craved my home cooking.

Into my less than fully stocked kitchen, I ran with only one thought: stewed chicken. I’ve been wanting to make coq au vin recipe (sans bacon) but did not have the time or convenience to shop for groceries and a fabulous, dream-come-true dry red wine.  

Sometimes no recipe is the best recipe. If you’ve been doing it for a while or if your mom has ingrained in you the divine smell and taste of perfectly stewed chicken since the day you were born, you got this. My mom is a queen of southern cooking—tasters remember her macaroni and cheese years later—and teacher by example instead of instructions. I knew what I needed and what I needed to do.

I knew apple cider vinegar, with its underestimated healing and antibacterial properties and amazing tartness, was a must-have ingredient. It’s not exactly a substitution for wine but it sure does add a velvety texture and really great flavor to most sauces, if used sparingly and with the right amount of fat. It’s no coincidence that I always have it handy. 

Onions also shimmied their way in (as always) and so would’ve tomatoes and baby carrots if I had any. Caramelizing then slow cooking everyday ingredients is the key to this flavorful but not spicy-at-all—am yearning for the day when “no spiciness ever” is no longer a rule in my house—tender stewed chicken. 

Speaking of children aka spice-haters, my son loved this chicken to the point of asking for leftovers. A rare occasion that is usually reserved for candy, popcorn, or cookies (specifically monster macarons with funny faces). I knew this dish was a shareable winner when he gave me a thumbs up.

I also knew that letting the chicken pretty much cook itself was the way to go. The reasoning of slow cooking is easy: you’re a matchmaker, you slowly introduce the flavors, allow them to mingle and marry. Be patient, then let them make you proud. 

Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons of pure olive oil (or any oil you prefer with a low smoke point)
• 1/4 cup chopped onions 
• Sea or Kosher salt and pepper
• 3 garlic cloves minced
• 1 half green bell pepper chopped 
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 5 pieces of chicken, wings and thighs 
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/3 cup water 

Instructions
1. Preheat large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once the pot begins to smoke lightly, add oil.
2. Let oil heat for 30 seconds before adding onions, salt and a pinch of pepper.
3. Turn onions and let cook for another 30-40 seconds or until they turn brown and crispy (and smell amazing).
4. Turn heat down to low. Add garlic and bell peppers. Cover and cook for five minutes, tops.
5. Remove onion, garlic, and pepper mixture from oil with slotted spoon, keeping as much oil in the pot as possible. Reserve the cooked veggie mix.
6. If needed, add a more oil to the pot, then turn the heat to medium-high again.
7. Season prepped chicken with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and soy sauce.
8. Sauté chicken to a golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes on each side.
9. Pour apple cider vinegar over chicken. Drizzle honey.
10. Add onion, garlic and green bell pepper mixture over chicken.
11. Pour water in the pot. Cook for 20 minutes before checking and basting chicken with jus.
12. Continue to check and baste every 20 minutes till chicken is done, at least an hour and a half. Serve over rice or your favorite edible sauce vehicle. 

Serves 3

Photo by Selina Thomas on Unsplash

Vegetarian French Onion Soup: No-beef beauty

What’s great about cold weather besides oh-so-comfy furry winter boots, or your favorite French bar/restaurant with a fireplace and surrounding candlelight? A bowl of satisfying, warming to the soul, undeniably amazing at its core, soup. French onion soup, even without the beef broth, is all you need to warm up on November nights. 

Not sure if you can tell, but I couldn’t wait to make this recipe. From the look of it (rustic, charming peaks of crunchy baguette that playfully hide under melted, oozing gruyere) to the smell of it (that smell of caramelized onions is home cooking at its finest) to the taste of it (so much flavor breaking the “most soups are bland” rule and reclaiming that soup’s superpower is the ability to hold much more flavor than any other savory dish).

I knew this soup would make my kitchen smell amazing. Plus, I wanted to prove to myself that French onion soup is really about the onions and gruyere melding together in harmony to create caramelized, salty umami bliss.

Ingredients
• ¼ cup butter or olive oil (or a mix of the two)
• 2 large Vidalia onions sliced
• ¾ teaspoon of brown sugar (I used orange blossom honey since it was the only sweetener, I had on hand)
• 4 cloves garlic minced
• 1 teaspoon of thyme (fresh or dried)
• ¾ cup red wine 
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 2 quarts mushroom broth
• 2 bay leaves 
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• Fresh ground pepper 
• 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
• 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese 

Tip: Make sure you find a nice aged gruyere to top your soup. I used an 18-month-old gruyere cheese from Stinky Brooklyn to compliment mine.

Instructions
1. In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar. Cook onions until soft and caramelized—and smells like Thanksgiving—about 30 minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking or burning the onions. 
2. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and thyme. Sauté for just a minute. 
3. Add the red wine and turn heat up to bring to a broil and then reduce it to a simmer until the wine evaporates. 
4. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and thyme. Sauté for just a minute. 
5. Add the red wine and turn heat up to bring to a broil and then reduce it to a simmer until the wine evaporates. 
6. Stir the flour into the onions. Turn down the heat to low. Cook for a minute while constantly stirring so the flour doesn’t burn. 
7. Add the mushroom broth, bay leaves salt and pepper. Boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Remove bay leaves. Remove soup from heat.
8. Heat the broiler. Fill soup bowls halfway and place slices of baguette in each oven-safe ramekin.   
9. Add more soup, pour directly over bread carefully. Avoid overfilling the soup bowls.
10. Sprinkle grated gruyere over each baguette slice.
11. Place the soups on a baking sheet and broil for 6-8 minutes, watch the cheese melt to its magical bubbly state of perfection!
12. Serve and enjoy this luscious, bowl of comfort.

Serves 6

Source: The original recipe is derived from veganhuggs.com. Note many substitutions have been made from the original recipe.

Photo by sheri silver on Unsplash

Gluten-free Madeleines—New Flour, Classic Flavor

In my first welcome back blog post this past summer, I announced that I’ll be featuring weekly recipes of French cuisine with a health-conscious twist. “Frealthy” is for home cooks who are ok using substitutions with good-for-you ingre­dients that don’t compromise flavor. First up is this beginner-friendly and sweet tooth approved delight. 

Ah! The scent of fresh madeleines! Nothing says authentic French cuisine like these classic, lemony cookies that transformed my modest kitchen into a boastful French bakery. Many hours after the cookies came out of the oven and cooled, the magical aroma of baked lemon greatness lingered around my oven and spread throughout my apartment—if only we could bottle that sweet perfection.

Madeleine success didn’t come easy. As I’m not a baker, these beauties took me three tries to nail. Originating from Rhian’s Recipes, a health-conscious food blog, this is an easy-to-follow gluten- and sugar-free recipe. But during my first and second attempts, I overlooked a key instruction of the recipe—to mix the ingredients in the same bowl that the coconut oil is melted—which caused two scary fails.

My first try was not sweet enough, while my second batch, too sweet due to my addition of too much Sugarless Sugar (not included in the original recipe). Also, I added too much coconut oil to the batter, so the cookies broke apart at the slightest touch.  

I almost gave up and moved on to other French classics—onion soup, petite crevettes (spicy shrimp in avocado halves), French fondue (I’ll try those later)—but I, eventually, stuck with madeleines as no other French goodie I’ve ever tasted represents French culture, simplicity and elegance as well as a carefully-crafted madeleine. It had to be my first “Frealthy” recipe. 

You may be asking yourself “What’s a cookie without sugar or dairy? Is it inedible? Dry? Bitter? Does it taste like cardboard?” I can safely say that none of the above apply to this airy, delicious and buttery cookie. 

Ingredients
1/8 cup coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
5 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup almond flour 
2/3 cup gluten free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
1/4 cup of Sugarless sugar (not part of the original recipe)
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Instructions 
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
2. Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave
3. Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, vanilla, ground almonds, and sugarless sugar
4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
5. Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry
6. Transfer mixture into a greased madeleine tin
7. Bake in oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean
8. Once out the oven, remove from the tin and transfer onto a wire rack to cool
9. Tastes best when fresh, but keeps for a couple of days


Recipe Source: https://www.rhiansrecipes.com/gluten-free-vegan-madeleines/

Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer on Unsplash