Last night was our Candida dinner. In a nutshell (and hopefully I am not messing this up), people can develop major and minor health problems from an overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicans in their system, and in order to try and curtail that you can go on this special diet that involves no gluten, dairy, sugar or sweeteners other than stevia, and various other things. My friend Nicholas has been on the Candida diet for about four months now, and when we had our equinox dinner a few weeks ago all he could eat was this kick-ass salad that he brought with him. So we decided that we would do a dinner where everything was Candida-friendly. I remember being vegan and feeling on occasion very left out and bitter in groups, and my dietary restrictions were by choice and not necessity! Anyway, Nicholas directed me to a website with a recipe forum, I put together a menu and okayed it with everybody, and last night we put it into action.
It was kind of an experimental menu. With the exception of a squash dish, everything was a brand-new recipe to us, and even the squash recipe had been modified to exclude dairy and such. But everything turned out deliciously, much to my delight. (I've heard that you shouldn't test-drive new recipes on other people, but seriously, there's only so much time to cook...) Here's the menu: rosemary-white bean soup, turnips sauteed with plum tomatoes and garlic, spaghetti squash baked with sauce, and this amazing carob-y, gluten-free, sugar-free brownie thing that Anna and Nicholas made (with frosting even!). The brownies were a miracle, the squash was surprising (you halve the squash crosswise, scoop out the seeds and fill the cavity with sauce and veggies (and cheese and nuts if you aren't Candida) and bake it and it scoops out and looks just like spaghetti), the turnips were a first for everybody and much better and different than I would have expected. Oh, and the soup was yummy, but I wasn't so unexpectedly pleased by that :)
So here are the two recipes that were from the website. I will totally make both of these again.
Rosemary-White Bean Soup
1 pound dried white cannelini beans (although we used Great Northern beans, actually)
4 cups chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 large branch of fresh rosemary (6-7 inches)
2 quarts veggie stock (Rose-Anne made this from scratch salt-free because I wasn't sure what we'd need for Nicholas, and then we ended up adding a bunch of salt. Sorry, Rose-Anne! Also, the original recipe calls for chicken stock.)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Soak the beans, at least six hours and preferably overnight. Cook them until soft, and drain. Don't use salt or other acidic things in the water, as it will make them take nearly infinitely longer to cook (it toughens the skins). Saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic for a few minutes, and then add those and all of the other ingredients to the beans. Simmer 30-40 minutes, then remove the bay leaf and rosemary branch. Run the soup through a food processor briefly. (We actually just ran about half of it through a blender, leaving some beans intact while grinding up other to thicken the broth.) Thick and yummy.
I had never had turnips before, and I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. I increased many of the amounts, using five small turnips and three plum tomatoes and no pepper, but we had five people there and that ended up being almost right.
2 small young turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 sweet red pepper, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
Pour a little oil in the pan and add the garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients. Saute for a few minutes, than cover the pan and cook on medium heat until the turnips are tender and most of the juices have evaporated. (We didn't do that! There was a mix-up and the recipes were dictated to us over the phone, so I actually just sauteed everything until the turnips seemed tender, then turned the heat off and covered them for a little while. But it turned out okay :) You can add a little oregano or other herb if you so desire.
Next month's Candida dinner: Indian-spiced kale, sweet potato-cilantro ginger patties, something else yet to be determined (perhaps a jicama salad I just saw), and hopefully a vanilla-coconut custard.