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How to cook taro root using a pressure cooker

This simple recipe explains how to cook taro with a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can boil it, but it takes much longer 1-2 hours. You must be careful to fully cook all parts of the taro plant because it contains calcium oxalate. This will make your mouth feel numb, itchy, scratchy and very uncomfortable, with possibly worse side effects if you eat too much or are very sensitive.

Taro, or known in Hawaii as Kalo, is an amazing plant. The roots, stems and leaves are all edible and have unique distinct character.  It is also extremely nutritionally dense. Compared to a potato, the taro root has more fiber and is a good source of calcium, potassium, and Vitamins C, E and Bs as well as trace minerals.

Taro is most known in Hawaii for Poi, a slightly fermented paste of cooked and mashed taro. However, taro is used to make many more things. You can dehydrate it and make flour, you can eat the steam stems as a vegetable, and the cooked greens are versatile in curries, wrapped around meat, in soups etc. This staple crop for tropical climates cannot be over estimated.

Recipe for how to cook taro with a pressure cooker

 

Equipment: Pressure cooker and steam basket to go with it.

Steps:

  1. Wash and scrub taro. I like to peel mine before I cook it because I feel like the scruffy skin would clog my pressure cooker. However, many others like to scrub it real good and clean the skin off after it is cooked.
  2. Cut into fist size pieces
  3. Place steam basket in pressure cooker
  4. Fill water up to right below the steam basket
  5. Place taro into basket and secure the lid
  6. Bring to pressure (you will notice the steam start coming out)
  7. Reduce to medium heat and cook 30-45 minutes depending on how much you have in there and how big the pieces are.
  8. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 10 or more minutes
  9. Release the pressure and wait until all steam has been released.
  10. Open the pressure cooker, the taro should be soft, showing a few cracks, and also be easy to slice with a knife.

There are so many ways to prepare taro. We just started harvesting them on our farm and have done little experimenting. One easy way to prepare cooked taro is just to slice it and fry it in a shallow pan with 2 tablespoons or so of oil. Just add a little salt and pepper to each side and fry each side until crispy (about 3 minutes on each side). Another recipe that we’ve made several times is our taro millet vegetable burger recipe.

 

I also found these recipes while doing a few searches.

http://www.quericavida.com/recipes/taro-root-fritters/d9c2d0c4-9bb5-4d14-959c-1f1a1a8203e4

http://raygrogan2-ivil.tripod.com/tarogrowcookeat/id9.html

http://www.kumuainafarm.com/taro-kalo-burgers/

If you like eating tropical starches that are easy to grow and gluten free- you may also like breadfruit. Here is a link to my breadfruit pancakes.

Ulu
Ulu (breadfruit) pancakes
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Cauliflower Cheddar Soup (no milk or cream)

I developed this healthy cauliflower cheddar soup recipe while visiting the mainland. Like so many of my recipes, Adam bugged me for months to make him Cauliflower cheese soup. I finally came through for him. This recipe comes out savory and super creamy. I don’t drink milk or use cream so unlike many recipes for this type of soup I didn’t add any extra dairy beyond the cheese. This soup is great for cheesy soup lovers who cannot tolerate the lactose in many types of cheese but can tolerate cheddar. It is also gluten-free and can be prepared vegetarian.

And yes, I know first hand that cauliflower isn’t easy to grow in the tropics. However, some talented farmers and gardeners are able pull off small crops and small heads in parts of the islands. But in the store they are largely unaffordable costing up to $10 for a head of organic cauliflower.  Hopefully our talented farmers will get better at growing and we’ll be able to enjoy more of them in Hawaii.

This soup goes great with toasty or fresh bread. Try my easy recipe for rosemary garlic focaccia bread or grandpa’s sourdough bread recipe

If you like this type of recipe you may also like:

winter squash bisque (gluten-free, dairy free, vegan and delicious)

coconut red pepper and squash soup (dairy-free, gluten free and vegan)

 

Recipe for cauliflower cheddar soup

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Yield: 4-6 servings

Equipment: Regular blender or immersion blender

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 quart chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Sauté cauliflower, onion, potatoes, garlic in olive oil, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, add a little more oil as necessary to prevent sticking
  2. Once the onions are soft, add broth (should just cover the veggies) and bring to a boil until potatoes are tender (15-30 minutes depending on how small they are chopped).
  3. Let the soup cool until it safe to put in blender and then blend on high until creamy and uniform.
  4. Return to pot (rinse it out first) and heat on low
  5. Add cheddar and stir until combined
  6. Test it and add more salt and pepper.

This recipe was inspired by a few posted recipe’s including

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3327/cauliflower-cheese-soup

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cauliflower-cheese-soup

 

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Indian spiced eggplant (Baingan Bharta) with chickpeas and raisins

We are blessed right now to have eggplants coming out of our ears!!! (or just choke on our plants). So…I invoked this recipe from my repertoire. This recipe is a slight twist on the many variations of Indian dish Baingan Bharta.

All Baingan Bharta recipes have many ingredients in common: eggplant, onions,  tomatoes, ginger, pepper and garlic. Many add garam masala, coriander, turmeric, etc.  I learned to make this during my very first vegan phase in my early early 20’s. To make it heartier (more protein) I started adding chickpeas, and to counterbalance the heat in it, I favored adding a few plump raisins at the end. So in reality it is a bit far from any Baingan Bharta you would order at an authentic Indian restaurant, but in my opinion mo betta!

 

Recipe for Indian spiced eggplant (Baingan Bharta) with chickpeas and raisins

 

Servings: 4+ (~1 cup each)

eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium size eggplants

katies tropical kitchen

  • 1-2 medium-large tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • 1 large onions (chopped fine)
  • 1 Hawaiian chili pepper (chopped fine)
  • 5 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 2 inch (½ in diameter or so)piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 inch(¼ inch diameter or so) piece of turmeric grated
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 and ½ cup (or to liking) cooked chickpeas

ingredients for baingan bharta

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lay eggplant on baking sheet, pierce eggplant to help let out steam.
  2. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn over. Bake another 15 minutes or so until a knife enters easily skin starts to separate from the flesh of the eggplant
  3. Once cooled peel eggplant and roughly chop and mush
  4. Heat oil in large sauté pan (med-high heat) and add onions until they start to become soft, stirring very often
  5. Add ginger, garlic, and turmeric and stir constantly for less than 1 minute
  6. Add tomatoes, cumin, and garam masala and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for a time until tomatoes incorporate themselves into onions mixture.
  7. Add eggplant and mush a bit with your spatula or mixing spoon, allow to heat up and cook another 5 minutes or so on medium heat.
  8. For the last 5 minutes add chickpeas and raisins.
  9. Enjoy warm with rice, alone, over greens, or with naan, etc.

2016-05-13 17.36.49.jpg2016-05-13 17.40.00.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Fresh papaya and passionfruit (lilikoi)

This fresh papaya and passionfruit recipe is the simple marriage of fresh papaya and lilikoi flesh. Papaya’s latin name is Carica papaya and it is from the family Caricaceae. It is one of the fastest growing fruit trees in Hawaii and also one of the greatest agricultural products to be exported from the island chain. In Australia it is known as Paw Paw. It is native to southern Mexico and Central America, but is now grown in subtropical and tropical locations all over the world.

If you have never had a ripe papaya it tastes a faintly like a mix of melon, bananas, pineapple. It has a flesh that is similar to a soft melon. In Hawaii, papaya is so abundant that almost everyone has a few papaya trees even on smaller plots of land. Another great thing about papayas is that they grow year round. Likewise, they are inexpensive and abundant in stores. Try to look for non-GMO varieties, some of which include: Mexican Red , Caribbean Red, Maradol, Royal Star, Singapore Pink, and Higgins.

 

Caution: The more unripe a papaya is, the more latex it contains, which may aggregate people with latex allergies.

Passionfruit is called Lilikoi in Hawaiian

Equally common in Hawaii is passionfruit or lilikoi vines. These vines require little maintenance after planting as long as they have something to climb. Comparable to papayas, passionfruit vines have a long fruiting season. Here on the Hamakua coast of Big Island our vines mostly fruit from late Summer to early Winter. The ripe fruits drop to the ground from the vines that can climb the tops of trees, fences, buildings etc.

papaya and passionfruitIn Hawaii, papaya is a common accompaniment with breakfast. It is usually garnished with a wedge of lime which is squeezed on top to liven the flavor. Even if this combination doesn’t convince you to eat papaya regularly, you should definitely give papaya with fresh lilikoi a try.

All you need to do is scoop out the the seeds from a halved a papaya. Then scoop out of the seeds from the halved lilikoi into the papaya flesh and enjoy with a spoon.

 

Resources

  1.  https://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/20-facts-about-papaya.html
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Creamy macadamia nut dressing

This creamy macadamia nut dressing recipe is Adam’s creation. It is essentially one of the only dressings we make because it is so satisfying. It also has many different applications besides salad. For example, we use it mixed with pasta as the sauce, we use it in our tacos, on top of our shepard’s pie, to dip our carrots in and more. The texture is silky, with a slight tang, a subtle sweetness and a strange taste resemblance to bacon. Adam says it reminds him of the secret sauce commonly used in fast food restaurants. Yet, this recipe is vegan, gluten-free, gmo-free, and extremely delicious.

Macadamia nuts are the local choice for nuts or seeds in Hawaii. They also have a unique set of nutritional benefits. Firstly, it is a excellent source of energy as it has one of the highest caloric values for the seeds/nuts (100g is 718 calories). They are high in fiber and are naturally gluten-free. Additionally, macadamia nuts are packed with minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc), antioxidants, and vitamins (especially B-complex vitamins, with smaller amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Macadamia nuts are also a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and palmitoleic acid. These are known  to help lower total LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL or good cholesterol.

Recipe for creamy macadamia nut dressing:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mac nuts (or other creamy nut, like cashews)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce (non-gmo and gluten-free)
  • 1/4 of a medium red bell pepper
  • 4-6” sprig of rosemary (stem removed)
  • 1/2 – 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard

Steps:

Blend ingredients together in blender, slowly adding water until creamy consistency is achieved. Add salt if necessary.

 Ideas for a salad:

Salad: (use as many as you have, but at least 3).

  • Chopped mixed lettuces
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Carrot slices (use a peeler to achieve thin strips)
  • Beet slices, same method as above
  • Sliced radish
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Fresh corn
  • Sprouts
  • Raisins
  • Chopped apples

Resources:

  1. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/macadamia-nut.html
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Raw carrot and beet salad with tahini dressing

My brother Dan brought this recipe beet salad with tahini dressing into my life. Him and his girlfriend used to make this often. To get me involved they started asking for my help making the dressing. After I had made the tahini dressing just a few times in their presence, they made me do it from ever on, which was how I built my confidence in making salad dressings. It is so creamy and yummy, it perfectly balances the earthiness of the raw beets and the sweetness of the carrots.

If you need a good way to include raw beets in your diet, this is it. It is also a great way to use raw carrots and beets from your garden. Guests are amazed at how good it tastes. Most people eating this salad recipe eat way more beets in one sitting than they ever would have. Remember, tahini is from ground sesame’s so anyone with an allergy to this should be warned  : )

If you looking for another way to use raw beets and carrots, juicing them has amazing health benefits. My very favorite homemade fresh juice is carrot apple beet juice with ginger. Afterwards I often use the pulp to make pulp bread.

If you like beets and sweets you should check out my killer recipe for beet brownies and also my healthy carrot cake recipe.

Raw carrot and beet salad with tahini dressing

Yield: 4-6 servings

Equipment: Food processor or other method for grating beets and carrots (e.x. mandoline slicer, spiralizer, cheese grater), and a blender for dressing.

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 10 medium-large carrots
  • 2-3 beets
  • Lettuce or mixed baby greens

Tahini dressing ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup (or more water)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt
  • optional: add a little goat cheese to make it creamy

Steps:

  1. First, prepare the dressing in blender by combining all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Next, grate the carrots and then the beets (easiest in food processor), if you wish squeeze a little lemon over them so the carrots keep their color.
  3. Place the carrots and beets in bowl and mix in the dressing, serve on top of lettuce or mixed baby greens (you will have more dressing than salad, dressing should stay good in refrigerator for about 5 days).

Resources on the Health Benefits of Beets, carrots, and tahini

  1. http://www.health.com/nutrition/beets-health-benefits
  2. https://www.almanac.com/blog/natural-health-home-tips/beets-health-benefits
  3. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298585.php
  4. http://www.realfoodforlife.com/10-benefits-of-carrots-the-crunchy-powerfood/
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Tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil

 

This recipe for tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil is like the Italian Caprese salad. But you don’t HAVE to add cheese to make it taste delicious. The most important thing is fresh tomatoes and high quality olive oil. Good salt is also a huge plus! This recipe is great to share with guests when there is an abundance of tomatoes. For more ideas for recipes with tomatoes and summer vegetables scroll to the bottom.

Recipe for tomatoes with fresh basil and olive oil

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil (use high quality olive oil for best results.)
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh basil chopped
  • Fresh mozzeralla (optional).

Steps:

  1. Slice tomatoes and place on plate so that they are not overlapping
  2. Then, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  3. Lastly, spread sea salt evenly and top with fresh basil and optional mozzerella.

Other summer vegetable ideas:

Layered ratatouille in a crockpot

 

Indian spiced eggplant (Baingan Bharta) with chickpeas and raisins

Chunky basil garlic tomato sauce

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Chocolate avocado mousse with banana

From about July to October we have avocados raining down from a very old, tall large tree. Raining. Each morning during these months I pick up perhaps 20 avocados from the ground. I know for city dwellers this is an insane amount of avos. It’s almost like a money tree if you consider how much money people spend on avocados a year.

For 25 years of my life I never really cared for avocados thinking there we just another bland, fattening, caloric food that people were trending on. I would always give up my share of avocado to the next person that wanted them. My brother told me I was NUTs and one day, craving mousse (but abstaining from milk,) I came across the avocado mousse concept…and it was this dish that made me LOVE avocado.

This recipe is vegan, dairy-free and uses unrefined sugar. It is so luscious you will have a hard time putting it down.

If you like the idea of using chocolate with healthier desserts you may like to try my recipes for gluten-free chocolate beet brownies and my chocolate banana brownies

Recipe for Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Banana

Yield: 4-6 servings

Equipment: Blender

Ingredients:

  • Avos (about 2 large)
  • ¼ -½ cup cocoa powder (depending on the size of the avos)
  • To taste honey or maple syrup, or stevia (ideally stevia is an addition to honey or maple syrup and allows you to use less of the honey or syrup by adding a few drops of stevia to bring out the sweetness).
  • Bananas, sliced

Steps:

  1. Add avocados and some of the cocoa powder to blender, add some of the sweetener
  2. Blend until smooth and give it a try for taste
  3. Add more cocoa powder and sweetener to taste
  4. Chill and serve with sliced bananas

 

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Paleo Baked Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, When somebody sneezed. I love this little rhyme, it makes me smile every time I make meatballs. The below baked meatballs recipe was created when I went on a brief paleo diet. It features coconut flour or almond flour instead of wheat flour to thicken the meatballs.

Another special part of this recipe is that they are baked.  I started making my meatballs baked instead of pan-fried because it requires much less attention than constantly turning them in a pan. This means you will plenty of time to prep a nice big salad to accompany your meal 🙂

Also, key to this recipe is the use of a lot of herbs. I think using fresh is the best way to go. I highly recommend growing a few of your herbs own for the amazing difference in flavor and nutrients that these so many recipes benefit from. If you don’t have fresh herbs you can use dried herbs, just scale back to 1-2 teaspoons total depending on the herbs you use and their strength.

I also recommend using grass fed beef.  Look for 100% grass-fed beef that has no unnecessary added antibiotics and hormones.

You can try serving these meatballs with my chunky basil and garlic tomato sauce and manchego cheese. My favorite accompaniment is spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash with pale meatballs and homemade sauce is the perfect dinner to treat your family and friends to. It is gluten-free and includes so many beautiful veggies, nutrients and proteins. Check out my basic cooking instructions for  spaghetti squash. 

Recipe for Paleo Baked Meatballs with Fresh Herbs

Yield: About 15 meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound grass fed beef (or bison!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or a little more to taste
  • 1/4 cup onion diced or minced
  • 1 small garlic clove chopped, minced or pressed to preference
  • 1-2 large handfuls of fresh herbs chopped (basil, rosemary, parsley, oregano, etc.)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup organic gluten-free almond flour  or coconut flour for paleo diet (or you can substitute other gluten-free flours or try a flour blend being careful that none of them dominate the flavor too much). Alternatively, you could just use regular white flour.

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In medium bowl, beat egg, add onion, garlic and herbs.
  3. Add ground beef and mix well.
  4. Add flour and mix well (a few heaping tablespoons at a time so that you can mix it evenly).
  5. Form into 1 to 1 and ½ inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets or shallow pans and place in oven.
  6. Turn every 10 minutes for 25-40 minutes until cooked to your tastes (e.x. medium-well).
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Winter Squash Bisque (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

For a while I was convinced this soup would make people fall in love with me. In reality I just make this soup for all the people I really really love. This dairy-free recipe for winter squash bisque is warming, smooth, and even yummy cold. Additionally, it is quite filling especially when served with fresh bread and or cheese. Oh! And it is also gluten-free, vegan, and fat-free.dairy-free winter squash soup

In Hawaiʻi it is not always possible to get good tasting affordable butternut squash, hubbards, etc. They are available in some WholeFoods and Safeway but they are seriously taxed. I’m talking like $15 squashes.

Here on the Hāmākua coast squashes grow pretty well. Especially in the fall/winter. One local variety is Kabocha squash. The skin is so tender you can eat them. But also a lot of people call any winter squash they see in Hawaii a Kabocha. In reality, there are so many local varieties that are unnamed because they are constantly crossing with each other.

I recommend going to your local farmers market or grocers and picking up a squash that looks like it has a deep colored flesh. I prefer the ones that are orange or pink on the outside. Try a few and save the seeds of the ones you like best. Either plant the seeds fresh out of the squash or dry the seeds.

The tropical winter squash is full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Depending on the variety, winter squash can have very high levels of Vitamin A (up to 350% RDV), Vitamin C (up to 50% RDV). Look for squashes that are deeper colors of yellow, orange and red for example Butternut, Hubbard, Kuri. These are little higher in nutritional value than spaghetti or acorn squash. There are also loaded with fiber, have some protein, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Thiamin, Potassium and Manganese.

If you like soup purées try out my recipe for red pepper coconut squash soup.

Recipe for Winter Squash Bisque

winter squash bisque vegan gluten-free

 

Ingredients

  • 1 winter squash (medium, about 5 pounds)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes
  • Enough water to cover ingredients (vegetable broth and chicken broth is also good but not necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Materials:

  • Blender (immersion blender is the easiest)
  • Large soup pot

Steps:

  1. Cut the squash open, save the seeds for planting or eating, and roast squash in oven  350-400F until soft enough to scoop away the flesh from the skin easily (I put my cut side up in a casserole dish with a little water  so the steam helps it cook quicker).
  2. While squash is cooking roughly chop the remaining ingredients
  3. For more fat and some say more flavor, you can sauté these in butter or olive oil for 5 minutes before you add broth or water
  4. Add the water or broth until about an inch above the veggies and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium
  5. When the squash is cooked enough to be peeled (doesn’t matter how soft it gets), let it cool for a few minutes (so you don’t burn yourself) and add to the soup
  6. Cook another 10 or so minutes to let the flavors blend
  7. Remove from heat and let sit until it stop bubbling and soup is cool enough to blend (you don’t want a glass blender to crack under the heat, a plastic blender to melt plastic into your soup, or the immersion blender to spit up hot soup at your face and body).
  8. At this point blend your soup until a uniform puree is achieved.
  9. Put back on the stove to warm, season with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve hot (with shredded hard cheese for some extra protein and yummy goodness) and bread for dipping.

Resources:

  1. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/butternut-squash.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_squash
  3. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63
  4. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/winter-squash

 

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