Gone Bananas! Peeling the Love with Spirulina

Spirulina Colada

I spent a good part of my childhood hating bananas simply because my brother loved them. Sibling rivalry at its strangest. In reality, I liked the taste, but the strings (technically called phloem, pronounced “FLOM”) scared me. All that chatter about peeling the banana upside down and not getting any strings is a bunch of banana bologna!

Fast-forward to today and I cheerlead for what bananas do for creamy smoothies, how they turn so nicely from frozen chunks into ice cream, and how important they are for banana bread. Ever made banana bread without bananas? It’s REALLY hard. Plus, who doesn’t love a fruit that has its own online museum?

So, when DOLE asked me to host a “Peel the Love” banana fest, I was psyched for an excuse to get a little bananas with bananas. They gave me banana recipes on a banana-shaped flash drive (dude!). But, the dietitian and direction diverter in me had to put a green spin on the yellow. Enter, the green Pina Colada….

Spirulina Colada
Makes 3

2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
2 medium bananas
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (the kind in the fridge section of the grocery store)
2 teaspoons spirulina powder (I like this one, and I get it at Whole Foods Market)

Blend and drink. Freeze leftovers in popsicle molds.

Nutrition info per serving: 188 calories, 3 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 431 mg potassium, 33 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 6.5 g protein, 470% vitamin A, 300% vitamin B12, 85% vitamin C, 40% calcium, 87% iron

Why Spirulina? It takes any smoothie from zero to hero. Check out the nutrition info again! Look at all that iron! Sorry Colada, but that is from the Spirulina alone. Spirulina is a TASTELESS blue-green algae that does everything from cleaning your house (well, your body’s house), boosting your immune system, getting your sex hormone situation in order, to lowering high blood pressure. It even helps prevent cancer. Did I mention it’s tasteless? So you can add it to pretty much anything. Annnnd, it has *more* complete protein than meat! Spirulina is 65-71% protein. Red meat is 22%. Just 2 tablespoons of spirulina per meal gives you all the protein you need. I know, I know. Green powder on your dinner plate is even a little too extreme for a dietitian. But, throw it in a smoothie, stir it into a fresh juice, add it to pancakes on St. Patrick’s Day, or mix it into your brownie batter. You *could* take it in pill form, but where’s the fun in that? ūüôā

Next up… Brownies made with bananas, pecans, and black beans. And you thought eating algae was weird! XOXO

Farinata: Italian Chickpea Flatbread That’ll Knock Your Glutens Off

IMG_1738

Farinata Batch #2: Less Salt, More Crisp

A close friend and closet gourmet chef—we’ll call him “Joe”—served this bread at his last food fest. He had eaten it in Italy, and then miraculously saw a recipe for it in the New York Times¬†(the next best thing to Italian cuisine itself).

I wanted to recreate Joe’s recreation, and thought I found that very recipe in a 2005 NYTimes post. My first attempt was nothing like Joe’s. Super salty, floppy not crispy, and looked like cracked, dehydrated dessert groundcover. Disgustoso!

Thankfully, Joe then disclosed his gourmet chef fine-tunings: 1. let the batter sit for a few hours rather than a few minutes, 2. bake it longer (like, double the time), 3. sprinkle salt and pepper over the top instead of mixing it into the batter. Uffa.

Version due was tested on some friends who went to Italy one time a few years ago (so obviously had the credentials). Here is the result, a Bitchin’-Joe-Times collaboration.

Farinata (Gluten-Free)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Batter Sitting Time: 2 hours (or overnight)
Baking Time: 25 minutes

Makes 6 appetizer-size portions

1 cup chickpea flour (or garbanzo bean flour; same thing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, or in my variety: 1 tsp dried basil + 1 tsp. dried oregano

1. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt and pepper (or reserve to sprinkle on final product); then slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps.

2. Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours, or up to 12 hours. Go organize your workshop or take a nap. Batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

3. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet. Place it in the heated oven for 15 min. 

3. Stir herb(s) into batter. Take pan out of the oven and pour batter into it. Bake 25 minutes, or until “pancake” is firm and edges set.¬†

4. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot, or at least warm.

Nutrition Info Per Wedge (1/6th of recipe): 159 calories, 12.3 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 8.8 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber, 3.5 g protein, 206 mg sodium, 4.4% iron. 

While this bread doesn’t get you out of eating beans for the day, it does give you a gold star with your dietitian and gluten-free enthusiasts. Enjoy it as is, or as a bean dip vehicle. Figo. Fantastico. Delicioso!¬†