vegetables

Chickpea and Barley Greek Salad

Chickpea and Barley Greek Salad - a filling meal salad

It was so hot this summer that I didn’t want to cook at all. Our apartment offers no shade from the sun and we don’t have air conditioning. The air was often hot and heavy, without a hint of a breeze. So adding to the heat with cooking – no thanks.

One system I came up with to minimize cooking during the day was to soak and then cook a big batch of legume and grain in the evening. While soaking grains and legumes helps the nutrients be more bio-available, the major advantage of soaking in the summer is that it then takes less cooking time. Kept in the fridge, I could take some out through the week as a base for various dishes, from salads to sautes (and theoretically soup, but that heat thing) and mix with a variety of vegetables.  Click to continue reading

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

If you’ve been around Almost Bananas for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of fermented foods. All the probiotics are beneficial for your health in so many ways, confirmed by science. Fermenting preserves food, and tastes amazing while it’s making us healthier.

Fermenting food is kind of like having a running science experiment in your kitchen. Jars full of bubbling mixes, smells that we are no longer used to. Guests will wonder what on earth is going on in your kitchen.

Once upon a time these were normal foods. And now, we often have to accustom our taste buds to fermented foods, as many grow up without tasting them at all.

Here in Slovakia an old and common ferment is cabbage stuffed peppers. It’s warm enough here to grow peppers and this is a great way to preserve them for the winter. Click to continue reading

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut seems to be all the rage in healthy food circles recently. Fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotic and other benefits, as opposed to the canned vinegar variety which might taste alright but does not have the same health impact.

It’s easy to get excited about eating sauerkraut, but then when sometimes I’m at loss as to what to actually do with it. Just put in on the table in a dish for a condiment?

Yes, you can do that, but there are so many more options! Below are over 25 ideas and recipes for using sauerkraut. Some of the recipes may need some adjusting to fit your idea of healthy. Click to continue reading

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulash)

Creamy Sauerkraut Stew (Slovak Segedinsky Gulas)

 

Sometimes it’s easy to get enthusiastic about fermenting, and then not know what to do with the work of your hands.

“Yes! Probiotics are healthy! Let’s make super easy sauerkraut! Oh, wait…how am I going to eat all this?”

Fortunately vegetable ferments stay good for a long time. In the fridge, sauerkraut can keep for years even, although it will continue to sour.

I’ll have a post with more recipes for eating sauerkraut soon, right now I have a Slovak stew that uses sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in soups or stews was totally new to me when I came to Slovakia, but they quickly became some of my favourites.  Click to continue reading

Super Easy Sauerkraut

I’m a huge fan of fermenting foods, for probiotics benefits and more, but I’m an even bigger fan of healthy being simple and easy. This method of making sauerkraut utilizes time in place of work, making health and food preservation that much easier.

Lazy Sauerkraut

So, I totally and completely blew my 31 Days of Probiotics and Fermenting. It wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had more than 31 ideas of both information and recipes.

I was unrealistically enthusiastic. I forgot that I have kids, and that time management is still an area where I have room for much improvement. I still want to write on both topics though, so I’ll continue to update that page as an index.

Right now I have a recipe for super easy sauerkraut. If you have a food processor, you could even call it 5 min sauerkraut, because that’s about how much active time is involved. I don’t have a food processor, therefore cutting all those strands by hand takes a little more time (aren’t they lovely and thin strands?).

Click to continue reading

Bryndzove (or Feta) Cauliflower

Bryndza, a soft sheep cheese, is a traditional food in Slovakia. It tastes something like feta but is soft. Bryndzove halusky is the classic Slovak dish, little potato gnocchi smothered in byndza and bacon. This version simulates the taste for those who don’t have access to bryndza or don’t have the time to make potato gnocchi. 

Bryndzove (or Feta) Cauliflower

Ask any Slovak about traditional Slovak foods, and you’ll most likely hear about bryndzove halusky (halushky).

Halusky is usually translated as potato dumplings, but I’ve seen dumpling cover everything from bread-like blobs to Chinese wontons to Slovak potato drops, all exceedingly different.

Bryndza is a soft sheep cheese, tasting something akin to feta, salty and sharp. It’s used to make spreads for bread, fill perogies, or even make soup. It’s most common application is as a sauce over halusky.

Many brands mix sheep and cow milk to make bryndza, but some brands use only sheep milk, and a few even have raw sheep bryndza. To fit in with my probiotic and fermenting theme, bryndza is full of probiotics. There is a study examining which bacteria bryndza contains and their antimicrobial activity.

Click to continue reading

Fermented Red Onion

 

Fermented Red Onions

 

As a ‘real foodie’, I have this idea that I should therefore like all real foods. I have a confession to make; I don’t like raw onions. Cooked onions are wonderful. In the winter, I go through kilos of onions in soups and stir fries. Caramelized onions, yummm. But raw? Nope. Only if they’ve been marinated for a very long time.

My oldest daughter, on the other hand, loves raw onions. She will voluntarily ask for raw onions on buttered (sourdough) bread, a very Slovak thing to eat. I gladly prepare it for her, because onions are healthy and all that. “Yumm, Mom, this is SO good! Have a bite.” Er…no thanks dear, I’ll let you enjoy it.

But then I came across the idea of Lactofermented Red Onions over at Delicious Obsessions and thought I’d try it.

Click to continue reading

Baek (White) Kimchi

Kimchi, a Korean fermented pickle, is well known for it’s red colour and spicey flavour. This version of kimchi, baek means white, is actually probably older than the better known version, but just as delicious.

kimchi text

In my hometown in Canada, there has been a Korean restaurant or two at all times in the last 15 years or so. Buses full of Koreans come on tours through the Rocky Mountains, and they stop at the Korean restaurants, keeping the business running in a small town. These restaurants were my first introduction to metal chopsticks (harder than wood), lettuce rice wraps (so good), and sweet potato noodles (love. miss.).

My parents knew the owner of one of the restaurants, and my father called  her  up when we went there once as a family on one of my visits home. For us, she cooked real Korean food as opposed to the versions made for an American palate. What. A. Feast. Little dishes of various condiments, marinated beef still on the hot plate, dandelion kimchi, and those amazing noodles. The table was covered with various dishes that we shared. I rarely go to restaurants and am even more rarely impressed, but I still have visions about that meal.

Kimchi is a staple in Korea and I think it’s the cat’s meow that a fermented veggie is a national staple. According to a video I watched, 94% of Koreans have it every day, and 96% make it themselves instead of buying it in a store.

(What if 96% of North Americans and Europeans made their own yogurt? Or sauerkraut? Dreaming…but I digress.)

Click to continue reading

Quick and Nourishing Japanese Soup

Quick Japanese Soup, gluten free

 

One of the disadvantages of being an ex-pat is that one’s comfort foods aren’t readily available. Ten years ago when I first came to Slovakia (has it been that long??) there wasn’t much in the way of Asian groceries. Now there are a number of Asian (mostly Korean) food stores in Bratislava.

I rarely get down to Bratislava, but we keep supplied with soy sauce, nori, and a few other tidbits.

Even just some soy sauce or tamari is enough to make this delicious soup. It’s even got bone goodness in it, without simmering bones forever. And the best part of the soup, besides the taste? It’s ready to eat by the time the water boils.

Click to continue reading

(Cauliflower) Temaki: Fast and Easy Sushi Hand Rolls

 

Sushi, while delicious, can take a long time to make – not so great for a crowd or hungry family. Temaki, sushi hand rolls, is an easy and fast way to serve sushi. Temaki is especially suited to cauliflower sushi because they don’t need to hold themselves together, just roll up and eat!

Temaki: Easy Sushi for a Crowd

Slovak food is delicious but tends toward the heavy side: sausages, potatoes, various breads. It’s comfort food at it’s most cozy. (I recently started a Pinterest board of Slovak Food which is perfect as the weather cools, go join it now, or even better, just follow me on Pinterest!)

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember craving the Japanese comfort foods of my childhood, like miso soup, soba noodles, and sushi. I distinctly remember a night in January when all I wanted was watermelon and soba, but neither were to be found.

Click to continue reading

« Older Entries