grains, greens, and grins…
I am 14 weeks into professional French cooking classes. If there is one thing we know about French cuisine, it’s how much the French love butter, meats, and sauces. So when my friend Sophia asked me to take a detox cooking class, I purchased it immediately. I need to balance out all those fatty foods with something healthy. This gorgeous Stacked Grains with Avocado dish is the perfect dish.
I think we all know how good eating anything green is, and the “Dapper Detox” class from Meal and a Spiel, made the process of eating greens and grains less daunting.
Fun Fact: Did you know the color green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye? There has to be a reason for that… maybe as a reminder to eat more green!
Our energetic teacher, Elana Horwich began the evening by making her Dragonfly Green Tea. This complex, yet alluring warm brew is a healthy alternative to your morning cup of joe. Matcha Green Tea Powder, one of the key ingredients, is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and chlorophyll.
If you are searching for something more substantial for breakfast, a green smoothie might be your style. Elana stepped us through the making of her Wickedly Good Green Power Smoothie, highlighting the benefits of its ingredients.
As we sipped our new favorite smoothie, Elana revealed six basic principles of a detox cleanse: Hydrate, Alkalize, Cleanse, Activate, Invigorate and Commit. She educated us on foods to eat, those to eliminate, and substitutes that accommodate our complex lives and schedules.
The green fun continued with a Vegan Seize-Her Salad.
My favorite ingredient was the hummus used as the dressing base, certainly a new slant for me. Additionally, Elana gave us other healthy alternatives for flavoring salads and grains.
Elana’s Top Choices:
- Namu Shoy – In Japanese, nama means raw and shoyu means soy sauce. It contains living enzymes and is used as a soy sauce substitute. Note: It is not gluten-free.
- Tamari – Similar to but thicker than soy sauce, which is also made from soybeans. It has a well-balanced smooth flavor that is rich and salty. Can be purchased wheat-free.
- Bragg Liquid Aminos – Liquid protein concentrate derived from soybeans. Used as a replacement for Tamari and Soy Sauce. No chemicals, preservatives, and is gluten-free.
- Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos. This can be used like soy sauce and is made from raw coconut sap, then aged with sea salt. It is soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and has 17 amino acids. This is my personal favorite.
These products can be purchased at your local health food store or online at amazon.com
My favorite recipe of the evening was the Stacked Grains with Avocado (recipe below). Her simple technique of prepping this dish leaves no excuse for anyone who says they can’t cook. If you have a fancy-shmancy rice cooker, you can set the timer and have it waiting when you get home. I don’t own a rice cooker, but am thinking I should pick one up. I guess Elana read my mind when she said, “don’t buy a cheap one, as it will burn the rice.” Rats!
Once cooked, Sophia dressed the grains in a combination of olive oil, tamari, coconut aminos, a few sprays of Braggs Amino Acids and a little sea salt. Perfection.
Next we chopped the mixture of dark green veggies making a Kale and Bok Choy Stir-fry. The base was olive oil infused with garlic and red pepper flakes. We added the greens and stirred them until soft. A little fish sauce and tamari were added to enhance the flavor.
We ended the evening with Elana’s Almond Milk and Carob “Hot Cocoa” which she affectionately calls “Faux-co”. A perfect finish!
Sophia and I enjoyed making new friends, laughing, and exploring new eating ideas.
A big thanks go to our instructor for an enjoyable evening. Elana is a Los Angeles native, she spent four years in Italy being stimulated by food, amongst other things. Her passion for helping others learn to cook while enjoying the experience makes her unique. If you are in Los Angeles, check out her other classes at www.mealandaspiel.com.
Stacked Grains with Avocado
Recipe reprinted w/permission of Elana Horwich’s Meal and a Spiel
Dry Goods: 1 ½ cups grains made up of the following (in order from most to least)
- Basmati brown rice
- Barley (not gluten-free)
- Green split peas
- Other options include: wild rice, red rice, black rice, spelt*, kamut*
- 1/4 -1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp. wheat-free Tamari
- 1 ½ tsp. Coconut Aminos **
- 10 sprays Braggs Amino Acids (a good ½ tsp.)
- sea salt
- 1 avocado chopped
- Reduced balsamic dressing
- Take out a clear drinking glass and begin to add the different grains, layer by layer, as if you were creating a desert-scape of colors. (An average drinking glass will measure out to be about 1 ½ cups. Don’t worry if it’s not exact, the only important thing is that you use double the amount of water as you do dry goods)
Elana’s Fun Style: The reason she has you put the grains in a glass is so you can see how gorgeous they look raw.
- Add the grains to a rice cooker.
- Add twice the amount of water as grains to the rice cooker. (If you don’t have a rice cooker follow the stovetop instructions for the rice)
- Turn the rice cooker on and go make yourself useful somewhere else.
- Once done, uncover and let breathe a few minutes.
- Add olive oil and stir.
- Add Tamari, Braggs, and Coconut Aminos, salt, and stir.
- Taste and adjust to your liking. You want them a little on the oily, sweet and salty side.
*Not good for people with allergies to wheat
**Available at some health food stores or online. If you can’t find them, use more Bragg’s.
Options: Serve with sautéed greens and sprinkle with fresh parsley.
Cathy’s Tip: Since you have all of the grains out, why not premix the grains for next time? And at the same time, you could clear your refrigerator out of unhealthy things.
Shhh… I dumped out my husband’s processed chemical based creamer and replace it with healthy grains. I am hoping he won’t notice (insert guilty grin here). Now when I want grains again, I pour them into a measuring cup add water and cook. Simple.
Quote of the Day
“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”
– Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spanish Poet and Playwright
“Green is one of the healthiest colors you can eat, and from that good health arises”.
– Cathy Nelson de la Arkle, American Artist and Food Blogger
…and then she paused for thought
Ah! The 14th week break from cooking class — with a cooking class! You ARE hooked! And how lucky for us! I love the pizzaz you added to the top of the dish! Wonderful!
Thanks Leslie. I treated it like I was icing a cake 🙂
I figured that way everyone would want to eat it!
Pausing for thought over your extraordinary culinary creations and artful presentation! Would love to see step-by-step images of how you create the cylindrical salads….!