Condiments: Black Bean Sauce and Chili Garlic Paste

Last night I made my favorite Thai dishes: Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken and Eggplant & Bok Choy with Bean Sauce.  United Noodle (my local Asian grocery) was out of the japanese/chinese eggplants (the long skinny purple ones) so I used Thai eggplants (round and green) instead.  They don’t hold together as well in the dish, but it tasted just as marvelous as ever.

I used to be able to buy jars of Chili Garlic Paste and Yellow Bean Sauce that I liked.  But my preferred brand of Chili Garlic Paste is no longer available and the “starch” included in the Yellow Bean Sauce became suspect.  So now I make my own.

Many of the recipes for these condiments that appear online seem to be trying to imitate BAD additive- and preservative-filled versions that you might find in a jar at the grocery store.  They add thickeners like cornstarch and/or gums.  I decided to just stick to the essential flavors and make these sauces as simply as possible.  Here’s what I do:

Chili Garlic Paste

adapted from Sriracha-style hot sauce ( and Mark Bittman’s recipe at

Chili Garlic Paste

I combine the ideas from the two recipes cited above and use a combination of dry and fresh chilies, soaked in boiling water with a few cloves of garlic and then pureed in food processor with salt, sugar, and some oil.  If I’m going to use the paste within a day, I just store it in a glass bowl until I need it.  If I’m going to store any of it, I heat it first (in an attempt to kill off any bacteria from the fresh garlic and chilies) and then store in the freezer.

Here are the proportions I used most recently:

  • 3 large mild dry chiles (e.g. Guajillo), stems removed
  • 6 small hot dry chiles (e.g. Szechuan), stems removed
  • 4 fresh chiles (Thai, serrano, or jalapeño), stems removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 Tablespoons oil (sesame, canola)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Put the chiles and garlic in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Soak for about 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving some of the water and seeds.
  2. Cut the larger chiles into smaller pieces.
  3. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, blender, or mini-chopper.  Purée until smooth, adding oil or water if needed.
  4. Heat in small saucepan over medium heat until bubbly.  Will keep for several days in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer.

Black Bean Sauce

adapted from recipes from Closet Cooking and Mastercook II

I haven’t found a good explanation of the difference between Thai Yellow Bean Sauce and the more familiar Black Bean Sauce.  I do enjoy Black Bean Sauce, so even though it probably makes my Thai dish more “fusion,” I decided to use Black Bean Sauce in the Eggplant & Bok Choy dish instead of Yellow Bean Sauce that contains “starch” of undefined origin.

The most difficult part of making your own Black Bean Sauce is finding Salted Black Beans.  I get mine at a local Asian market in a bag that looks like this:


Note that these are not the same as the black beans you would use for mexican food.  They are fermented in salt.  I store mine in the freezer.

  • 1/2 cup fermented/salted black beans
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Place fermented/salted black beans in a small saucepan and add water.  Leave to sit to rehydrate the beans (approx. 30 minutes, can be done earlier in the day).
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients.
  3. Heat over medium heat until bubbly and thickened.  Stir occasionally.





Indian Comfort Food

Those of us with food sensitivities often are confronted with social food situations where we know “if I eat any of this, I’ll be sorry later” . . . but we want to be polite.  So we pick the things that seem “relatively safe.”  I’m pretty good at avoiding the likely culprits.  And lucky for me, I won’t end up in the hospital if I am accidently exposed to gluten, dairy, or corn.  But that doesn’t mean I won’t suffer: intestinal distress (gluten), sinus trouble (dairy), hives (corn).

My choice when I need to rebalance and cleanse my system is what I call Indian Comfort Food, two ayurveda-inspired porridges that soothe and restore: Kichari (aka kitchari, khichdi, and many other variations) and Savory Farina.  Try one or both of these recipes and your body will thank you!  (Recipes adapted from information obtained at an Ayurvedic Cooking class at Health Through Ayurveda.)


Kichari with Sweet Potato and Chard


  • 1/2 cup split yellow lentils (moong dal) or red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1-2 Tablespoons oil or ghee (I use coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 8 cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 10-12 cardamom pods (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cups chard (swiss, red, or rainbow, about 1/2 bunch), stems removed, sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt to taste


  1. Rinse split mung beans until water runs clear. Soak 4 hours or overnight; drain and rinse.
  2. Get water boiling if it isn’t already.
  3. Warm oil in large sauce pan or Dutch oven. Add cumin seeds and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Add drained mung beans. Sauté for another few minutes. Add 4 cups of boiling water and pinch of baking soda. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile measure out remaining spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, clove, cardamom), prepare sweet potato, and rinse rice.
  5. When beans are mostly cooked (after about 20 minutes), add rice and sweet potatoes. Add remaining 2 cups boiling water.
  6. In a separate small pan, heat 1 Tablespoon oil. Add spices. Warm over low heat just long enough to release aroma. Be careful not to burn.  Add to bean/rice/sweet potato mixture.
  7. Continue cooking at a simmer until rice is done, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add chard. Cook until greens are wilted and combined with the rest of the ingredients (5-10 minutes).
  9. Salt to taste.
  10. Enjoy!


  • The original recipe called for a pinch asafoetida (hing) added with the cumin seeds.  I tried to find hing that didn’t also include gluten and/or corn starch.  Unfortunately, my body reacted to the one product I found that said it was gluten-free in a way that told me there was something in it that I shouldn’t be eating . . . so even though this is a traditional “healling” ingredient in Indian/Ayurvedic cooking, I omit it.
  • If you can’t find small split lentils, you may be tempted to use regular split peas (yellow or green).  Unfortunately, those require MUCH longer to cook.  I’m really not sure how to best modify this recipe to use them.  There may be other kichari recipes on the web that use those larger split peas. (See slideshow below for a picture comparing the different types of lentils.)
  • Kale or other leafy greens can be substituted for the chard.
  • Sometimes I heat all the spices at the beginning (with the cumin seed and ginger) rather than waiting until later.  The flavor is a bit different and there’s a greater danger of burning the spices, but it can work (and leaves one less pan to wash and frees up one more burner).
  • The original recipe claimed that this recipe “Serves 2-3.”  I usually get 5-6 serviings out of it.


Hearty Breakfast Farina (Uppma)

Savory Hot Farina


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup brown rice farina (I use Bob’s Red Mill “Creamy Brown Rice Farina”)
  • 1/2 cup vegetables (I use 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots and 1/4 cup frozen peas)
  • 1-1/4 tsp Breakfast Spice Blend (see below) (OR 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Start the water boiling in your kettle.
  2. In a small cast iron pan over medium heat, lightly the brown rice farina, stiring frequently until the farina is light brown in color.  Remove toasted farina to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt the coconut oil or ghee in the cast iron pan over low heat.  Add the Spice Blend.  Let spices warm for 10-15 seconds.  Add vegetables and a small amount of water.  Stir. Cover and cook vegetables for 5-7 minutes.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, add the toasted farina and stir to coat.
  5. Add 1 cup boiling water and a dash of salt.
  6. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently as farina thickens.
  7. Enjoy with a cup of Chai Tea!

Breakfast Spice Blend (makes approx 1/4 cup, enough for 6 individual servings)

  • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Combine all the spices in a glass jar.  Use 1-1/4 teaspoons (or a heaping teaspoon) for each serving.


  • I’ve only made this dish one serving at a time, but it should work if the ingredients are doubled/tripled/quadrupled.  You might need to adjust water quantity, spice quantity, and/or cooking times.
  • Other vegetable options: chopped onion, minced ginger, chopped yam or sweet potato, asparagus, leafy greens, or whatever else sounds good.
  • I’m guessing this dish could be made with other grains (e.g., wheat farina or grits), but I haven’t tried that.  You might have to adjust cooking times.


WOW!  That’s quite a bit of information.  Please let me know (in the comments) if anything needs clarification.




Yes, I’m still here.  Still cooking.  Still living with CFS and multiple food sensitivities.

I just haven’t been working so hard at modifying recipes or creating new recipes.

I’ve settled into a collection of recipes that I make fairly frequently.  (Some folks might say I’m in a rut, but I’m just relieved that cooking and eating isn’t quite so time consuming as it was when I first gave up gluten, dairy, and corn.) Most of the recipes I make now came to me from other cooks or cookbooks (so are copyrighted) and didn’t need much modification to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

Still, I’ve had some requests (mostly from friends seeing pics of the food on Facebook) to share the recipes, so I will make an attempt to put some of the recipes up here or to point to their original sources for reference.

Another change in my cooking/eating came after last April when I attended a workshop on Ayurvedic Cooking at Health Through Ayurveda.  This course led me to incorporate several recipes and principles into my regular routine.  More on all that in a future post.

So here’s a list of what I eat most frequently these days.  As I add recipes (or locate them online) I’ll include links, but for now here’s my “food routine.”  Let me know in the comments if you are particularly interested in hearing more about a specific item.

Breakfast rotates between:

Lunch is almost always a “cooked salad.”  I was eating so many greens (because I love them) but sometimes having trouble digesting them.  I’d heard of pre-wilting the greens in the microwave, but the Ayurvedic Cooking workshop actually suggested that I cook them.  It really helps.  So I chop up everything I want in my salad: tomatoes, carrots, avocado, mushrooms, bok choy (for crunch), chicken, onion (not always all of these).  Toss it in a frying pan with some oil and some herbs.  While the veggies are cooking (stirring occasionally), I measure out a big salad bowl full of greens.  Once the veggies are cooked, I toss the greens in the fry pan and pop on a lid.   Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the greens are thoroughly wilted.  Turn off the heat.  Drizzle on some vinegar or a basic vinaigrette.  Let sit for a few minutes to cool down.  Pour into a salad bowl and enjoy!  Same great veggies, just easier to digest.

My most frequent dinner meals are:

Kichari with Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard

Roasted Chicken (from the Seward Coop) with Potatoes (or Sweet Potatoes) and Kale/Chard or Green Beans or Beets

The following dishes have also made multiple appearances:

So, a routine, but a routine with lots of variety.

Speaking of food . . . I need to go eat some dinner (tonight: leftover Green Curry with Tofu, Green Beans, and Chard).

Next post: Indian Porridges (Kichari and Savory Hot Farina)

©2015 Highly Sensitive Girl


Extended Thanksgiving


Today I did the last of my “Thanksgiving” cooking, a Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole using leftover turkey and stuffing.  (This time I even used some leftover gravy and stock!)  But before we get to that recipe, I made myself a list of everything Thanksgiving-related that I cooked since November 23nd (which is when I started the whole process; pacing required due to CFS).  Almost all of these dishes were minor variations of recipes from cookbooks, so the links below are to the cookbooks (unless the recipe was posted online by the author).  Most of the recipes are already gluten-free, but feel free to message me if you want to know the details of how I made them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.  All were quite delicious (if I do say so myself). :)


 Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole

Okay, here are the details on adapting my original Turkey, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole to be gluten-free and dairy-free:


  • 2-3 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 4-6 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups cooked long-grain white rice (about 1-1/2 cups raw)
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 3 Tablespoons GF Flour Blend
  • 3-4 cups coconut milk and/or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup leftover stuffing (made with gluten-free bread; or 1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs toasted in 2 Tbls oil)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Saute the chopped mushrooms in oil until they lose their liquid and start to brown lightly. Add the turkey and saute a few more minutes to warm it up. Add thyme and mix thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, make a thin white sauce. Melt/heat 3 Tablespoons oil/shortening in a medium sauce pan over low to medium heat. Sprinkle in the GF flour blend 1 Tbls at a time, whisking to combine with the oil and avoid lumps. Cook this roux for 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the coconut milk/stock (about 1/2 cup at a time), stirring/whisking to avoid lumps. Once all the liquid is added, heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the white sauce coats the back of your spoon. Stir in salt & pepper.
  4. Layer the rice, turkey and mushrooms in a greased casserole dish (2-3 quart size should do it). Pour the white sauce over everything and stir gently to combine.
  5. Top with leftover stuffing or toasted bread crumbs.
  6. Bake in 350°F oven for 30 minutes (covered) then remove the cover for 10-15 minutes to brown the topping.



  • Today I took the white sauce up a notch by including a big spoon of leftover turkey gravy, mixed in with the roux before adding the coconut milk and stock.  YUMMO!

Copyright © 2014, Lucinda DeWitt




Apple Cake

Apple Cake

gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, corn-free


Today I baked the latest in my attempts to develop a gluten-free version of my old favorite “Raw” Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. This time I used Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Free French Apple Cake as a place to start. Her main innovation is pre-cooking the apples.  I added raisins, walnuts (so no longer “top allergen free”), and spices (so less French, more American) to her recipe and made several other changes to make it corn-free. Below is what I did. Consult the links above for the original recipes.


  • 3 medium baking apples (approx. 1 lb.), peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and then sliced crosswise (I used Cortland apples and ended up with 3 cups of apples)
  • 2 teaspoons brandy (optional; I had Grand Marnier, so used that)
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend or my Basic GF Flour Blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon guar gum
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organics Palm Oil Shortening)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup diluted coconut milk (see notes below)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins


  1. Place apple slices in a microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave 3 minutes or until apples are slightly tender and pliable. Toss with brandy and lemon juice, and set the pie pan on a wire cooling rack to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the springform pan with a 9″ round piece of parchment paper and grease the parchment paper. Sprinkle the sides and bottom of the pan with a little gluten-free flour mix, tapping out any extra, and place the springform pan on the baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flax seed meal with warm water. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It should thicken into a gel similar in consistency to eggs.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour mix, guar gum, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), combine shortening, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix on medium-high speed until well combined.
  6. Add flax seed mixture and vanilla. Mix until blended.
  7. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Mix until blended.
  8. Add half the coconut milk, mix until blended.
  9. Mix in half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining coconut milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  10. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts and raisins. Then gently fold in the cooled apples.
  11. Pour the batter into the springform pan; spread to the edges of the pan and smooth the top.
  12. Bake for approximately 60-75 minutes in the center of the preheated 350°F oven, until the center of the cake is firm and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack. Loosen the outside of the springform pan and gently release, using a small knife to separate the edge of the cake from the edge of the pan, if necessary. Set the cake, still on the pan bottom, on a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.


  • My everyday dairy-free “milk” is diluted coconut milk.  I take a 14 oz. can of Aroy-D Coconut Milk (according to the information on the can this brand is made from only coconut and water, not preservatives or additives), pour it into a 1-quart container, add 14 oz. of water, and shake.  So a 50/50 mixture of coconut milk and water.  Feel free to substitute whatever form/brand of dairy-free milk you like.
  • My original Apple Cake recipe included Cream Cheese Frosting.  I’ve chosen not to frost today’s cake, but if I did I would use the following recipe:

Coconut Manna Frosting

  • 3/4 cup dairy-free shortening
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons Coconut Manna (I use Nutiva Brand)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2-1/2 – 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar (I use Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Powdered Sugar because it is free of cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons diluted coconut milk, as needed for smooth consistency

Cream the shortening, coconut manna, salt and vanilla until smooth.  Add the confectioners’ sugar in several batches, beating until smooth after each addition.  Add the coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time until the frosting is the consistency you prefer.  Continue beating until smooth, light, and fluffy.  Makes enough for 12 large cupcakes, an 8″ layer cake, or the top and sides of a 9″ single-layer cake.

©2014 Highly Sensitive Girl / Lucinda DeWitt