Friday, March 11, 2011

Almond Olive Oil Maple Cake

I was invited to my friends house to help wish another friend a happy birthday. The birthday man doesn't like butter and the man whose house we were invited to has had gall bladder problems. Hence the olive oil.... and I love a food related challenge. The cake turned out to be quite a hit so I wanted to share. Another secret ingredient is maple crystals. These are from crystalline maple syrup. I made my meringue with them... fantastic volume and lovely tan color and a very nice subtle mapley sweetness.

Here is the recipe... no gluten, no sugar, no cholesterol no fooling!


1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup oat flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch of salt

6 egg whites
1 cup maple crystals
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" cake pan with olive oil cooking spray. In a large bowl combine the first 6 ingredients. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the egg whites. With the machine on high add the maple crystals slowly until the meringue is complete, stiff but not dry.

Fold one handful of meringue into the olive oil mixture.

Add this back to the meringue and fold gently to make a batter. Place the batter into a sprayed 8" cake pan. Sprinkle the top with the sliced almonds. Bake for 45 minutes until the cake is set and almonds are golden.

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus
Courtesy Karen Pickus, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Grilled "Cheese" Sandwich

OK let's face it everyone loves a grilled cheese sandwich. We don't always love the calories, fat and cholesterol associated with it though. Well lately I am on this tear.. how do I make fabulous guilt free food and still have fun, eating and preparing with no food "afterlife". I fully enjoy challenging myself with these ideas.
Eureka, Ive got it!

I get this Alvarado Street Bakery Essential Flax Seed bread, 50 calories a slice, organic and whole sprouted grain. A nice hefty organic tomato, and "Soy Kass" "cheese", it's not really cheese, no cholesterol, no dairy but with all the nice qualities of melted cheese. I like the Monterrey Jack just 60 calories an ounce.

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Slap down the bread, (no butter or oil added or needed). Cover the bread with 3 slices of cheese on each slice, a slice of tomato on top of each side of cheese, cover the grill pan until  the cheese melts. ( I add a nice sprinkling of herbs de Provence or dried oregano).
Leave open faced or top it together and cut in half and man does that do the grilled cheese trick big time, crunchy bread, oowy gooey cheese, the rich tomatoy taste, topped off with aromatic herbs the tune of under 300 calories!

Recipe, photos and writing by Karen Pickus 2011
Courtesy, Karen Pickus 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buckwheat Buttermilk Waffles or Pancakes

I love these waffles. Nutritious, easy to do and a great start to any day, but it's Sunday at it's best!
This recipe serves 2-4. The best way to grind the flax seeds is to dedicate a coffee grinder the task. Keep the remainder in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
Love to hear what you think!


1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
2 TBS. ground flax seeds
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder

 combine with a wire whisk

 stir the next 4 ingredients together in a bowl

2 Tbs. Hazelnut oil
1 Tbs. maple syrup
2 egg whites
1 cup buttermilk

Add the liquid to the flour mixture, whisk until smooth.

For the pancakes:

Preheat a dry cast iron skillet or a pancake griddle over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook each pancake until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Serve with blueberries and or blackberries and maple syrup.

For the waffles:

Use 1/3 cup batter for each waffle. Cook until golden and cooked through. Continue until all the batter is used. Let uneaten waffles cool on a rack to prevent soggy waffles.  Freeze remaining cooked waffles in a resealable bag. Reheat in a toaster for a quick delicious breakfast treat during the week.

Recipes, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2011
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2011

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cannelini Bean Spread

 I think beans are a terrific food. High in nutrition and low in cost, big in flavor and very satisfying. I find that many people just don't know how to cook beans. The problem with beans are they do take some time to cook. When in a hurry I am not against going with the canned variety. But here's the rub, they don't taste as good, in my opinion and they cost more. So if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, cook dry beans, use meat as a condiment or not at all and cook at home. I will be blogging about how to save you money with home cooked meals and enjoy the satisfaction of cooking and eating at home. Now I ask you, who doesn't love a home cooked meal, well prepared by the people who love you, and enjoyed by the people you love.

This is my favorite bean spread...  this is not only healthy and delicious, it is an inexpensive treat. I prefer this spread to Chick Pea Hummus. I soak dried, organic, cannellini beans, covered with water , overnight. If you prefer use canned, saves time.  I love this spread as a pre - dinner snack on toast, or an accompaniment also on toast with a salad for lunch.

How to cook the beans:

I start with 1 cup of dried cannellini beans. I cover them with water by 2-3 inches and place in the refrigerator overnight. I then rinse the beans thoroughly. Place them in a pot cover them with water and add a good pinch of salt. I bring the beans to a boil, lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer the pot gently until the beans are cooked through and tender, but not falling apart, about 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours.


1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 large clove garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 pinch of salt
3 turns of the pepper mill, coarsely cracked pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
10 fresh washed basil leaves torn into bite sized pieces


Put all of the ingredients in a food processor except the basil. Process until smooth, then fold in the torn basil leaves. Serve immediately with toast or serve with vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery and red peppers.

Recipe, writing and photos by Karen Pickus 2011
Courtesy, Karen Pickus 2011

Finished Slaw

Finished Slaw
Ready to eat!