The Can-Do Candida Diet: August 2013
Can-Do Candida © Isabelle Burden 2013 All rights reserved

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sushi Rice for the Candida Diet: This is How We Roll

I recently had a craving that was so strong I simply had to follow my instincts and create a Candida Can-Do version I could enjoy on the spot.

My family has always had a multi-generational love affair with Japanese culture. My father spent some time there as a young man, even training as a sushi chef for a few months, and it was only natural that he passed that love of culture and food to his children.

My sister and I grew up with weekly sushi dinners, Miyazaki movies, and of course a cornucopia of kawaii creatures with over-sized eyes and stylized expressions.

One of my favorites lunches as a kid was onigiri.

Quinoa onigiri filled with bonito flakes and sesame seasoning

Onigiri, often called rice balls in America, is a typical Japanese meal made by shaping rice in round or triangular molds for bento boxes and other on-the-go eating. The rise can be seasoned or plain, and is often wrapped in nori (pressed and dried seaweed). Onigiri can be filled with any number of things, including mayonnaise-dressed salads of shrimp or fish, umeboshi (pickled plums), or tempura shrimp.  

When my father made them for me I was still a picky American 7 year-old, so some of the more traditional ingredients were swapped to fit my palate. “Onigiri” in my house was a ball of sushi rice (sushi rice is flavored with sugar and vinegar, and is not used in typical onigiri) seasoned with sesame seeds, seaweed and bonito flakes, all rolled up in strips of savory nori.

My sister’s preferred rice recipe at the time involved two steps – putting it in a bowl and adding butter – so I suppose I could be considered adventurous by comparison.

When I was fourteen my father took me to Japan for the first time where I tried real, traditional Japanese onigiri.  The place was called Onigiri Is Motherlove, and was located on a busy avenue in Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood. I stood in the lunch hour line behind several Japanese businessmen and marveled at the expansive menu displayed above the fast-food-style counter.

Of course, being on the candida diet I can’t eat rice. So I had to figure out how to create the classic flavors of my childhood onigiri without sugar or rice, and without feeling like either was missing. 

The result, I must say, sent my taste buds on a very pleasant trip down memory lane.

Rice is a grain while quinoa is technically a seed, therefore quinoa does not have the same starchiness as rice.  While this makes it a more appropriate choice for the candida diet, it does mean that the quinoa will need a little help holding itself together.

The trick to making a sticky, rollable quinoa “rice” is to add a pinch of psyllium husk powder - a flavorless and finely ground fiber that will hold your quinoa in place without adding extra starch to your diet.    

Quinoa cucumber avocado roll


For the sushi “rice”:

1 tbsp water
¼ tsp salt
2 ¼ tsps white vinegar
¾ tsp granulated stevia, such as Stevia in the Raw
2 cups cooked white quinoa
Pinch psyllium husk powder

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the water, salt, vinegar, and stevia until all solids have dissolved into a solution. Add the cooked quinoa and the psyllium husk powder to this mixture and stir well to coat the quinoa in the vinegar mixture.

Refrigerate the bowl of quinoa sushi rice until it is chilled to just below room temperature.

For the onigiri:

1 sheet nori
Bonito flakes to taste
Gomashio rice seasoning to taste
Filling of your choice

Place a pile of quinoa sushi rice about the size of a large fist onto the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Tamp the quinoa rice down until it is spread out and about 1/4-inch thick. Place the filling of your choice in the center, then wrap the plastic so that the quinoa comes together around the filling. Work the quinoa through the plastic with your hand to form a ball.

Because quinoa has no gluten, the onigiri will not stick as readily as a traditional rice ball. Try wrapping the plastic wrap tightly or massaging the grain a little with your hands. If all else fails, eat it with a fork – it will still taste delicious.

For the cucumber avocado roll:

Quinoa sushi rice
Nori sheets (1 sheet per roll)
Half a ripe avocado, seed removed, sliced into strips
1 cucumber, peeled, cored, and julienned
Sesame seeds (optional)

Place a sheet of plastic wrap over a bamboo sushi mat.  Place one sheet of nori onto the mat.  Create a rectangle of quinoa that spans the length of the nori, about a quarter-inch thick and two inches wide, at the end of the mat closest to you.  Place thinly sliced strips of avocado lengthwise along the center of the quinoa.  Place a few of the julienned pieces of cucumber in line with the avocados. Roll the mat from the edge closest to you, using your fingers to keep the roll tight. Move the mat out of the way as you continue to roll the sushi.

For more visual instruction on how to make a sushi roll, try this video on youtube.
Note that not all the steps will be the same for this recipe and the recipe in the video, but the general motion of rolling the sushi will be the same. 

While this recipe is a little too messy to be a true on-the-go lunch, I highly recommend giving it a try for a sit down meal at home.  And feel free to get creative with your fillings!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blueberry Muffins for the Candida Diet

Blueberries always call to mind my childhood summers spent in a small Maine town on the island of Mount Dessert.  There, fresh blueberries grow small and tart on bushes beside hiking trails and lining the backyards. The telltale purple stain of their juice colors my memories.  It sits on my mind like a birthmark on skin, permanent and so very personal.

Aside from eating them by the fresh-picked handful, warm from the sun, my favorite application for blueberries is that Downeast staple, the blueberry muffin.  I just can’t come to Maine without getting a craving for them, so this recipe is my Can-Do Candida answer to the muffins I grew up with.

Candida Diet Blueberry Muffins

These candida diet blueberry muffins have a nostalgic taste.  Coconut flour gives these breakfast pastries a doughy consistency and slight biscuit flavor.  Hints of cinnamon and stevia take this muffin to delicious heights of sweetness for a muffin that is classic and comforting.

Candida Alert: Even though fruit sugars are naturally occurring and come hand in hand with healthy fiber and nutrients, the body still registers them as sugar.  In general, fruit intake should be limited on the candida diet, as even fruit sugar can cause blood sugar fluctuations and feed yeast when the quantities are too excessive. Berries are a good answer to this problem, as they are typically low-sugar fruits, so you can have larger servings with fewer consequences.

These muffins are packed with organic wild Maine blueberries; this variety is tart, tasty, and perfect for baking.  I used fresh blueberries because I had them readily available, but you can use frozen if need be.


1 cup almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 eggs
1 cup milk
¾ tsp liquid stevia
1 tsp vanilla
10 tbsp (1 ¼ sticks) salted butter, melted
2 tbsp plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
½ tsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups fresh Maine blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and chia seeds. Stir the dry ingredients to thoroughly combine them.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat two eggs. To the eggs, add milk, stevia, vanilla, melted butter, Greek yogurt, and lemon juice. Whisk these ingredients to combine.  If necessary, use a rubber spatula to cream the yogurt into the mixture to break up any large lumps.  Small lumps will work themselves into the batter once the wet and dry are combined.

Once the wet ingredients are well integrated, add the blueberries into the bowl.  Then pour the entire contents of the medium-sized bowl into the large bowl of dry ingredients.  Use a folding motion to stir the wet into the dry, being careful not to crush the blueberries.

Once the batter comes together into a thick and sticky mixture, use your hands to transfer it into a muffin tray already lined with parchment baking cups.  Fill the cup with batter and pat it to ensure that there is no empty space at the bottom as the batter will not spread during baking. If you would like your muffin to have a rounded top, add a pinch of extra batter to form a mound at the top of the muffin (the batter does not rise).

For regular-sized muffins bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway mark. For mini muffins bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan at the halfway mark. The muffins are done when the tops appear golden brown and toasted. 

Allow the muffins to cool before removing them from the pans.

Try these muffins hot out of the oven, or toasted with butter.  To store, place the muffins in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer and enjoy as desired.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vanilla Frosted Cupcakes for the Candida Diet

These cupcakes have it all: a texture to rival any high-end bakery and a taste that is simply to die for.  They’re a real candida crowd pleaser, perfect for those of us with foodie friends or families to feed. 

While I was burning through ingredients, testing batch after batch to get this recipe just right, I had an epiphany.

Who you are in the kitchen is pretty much a micro representation of who you are in the world. 

When I was younger I never baked anything.  Cooking I could handle, but baking I didn’t like one bit.  I had no patience for it, all the measuring and exact values and steps that had to be followed just so, I found it all tedious at best.

This all changed, however, when I began to develop my own recipes.  Something about being able to experiment, to write my own rules and break new ground, satisfies some core need of my personality. It’s the same with most of my endeavors, I’ve found. I’m not truly satisfied unless I’m master of my own domain to some extent, succeeding or failing but always by my own merits or errors.  

I’m not trying to discourage anyone who likes to follow recipes; I think that being able to perfectly execute a recipe and share something delicious with the world is just as creative and brings just as much joy as my mad scientist version.  And anything that brings joy to others and to you is a thing worth valuing and a thing worth doing.

Now, without further adieu, I will spare you from my ramblings and present to you my recipe for fabulously fluffy, charmingly cakey, and deliciously delicate vanilla cupcakes.

This cake batter was a revelation for my kitchen. Based off of my black bean brownie recipe, this one took quite a bit of tweaking, but it was worth it to get the perfect Candida Can-Do cupcake.

The vanilla notes are aromatic and sweet, and the cake is soft and delectable.  It’s the perfect answer to any cupcake craving, and with the subtle coconut notes and smooth consistency of the buttercream, this dessert is a much lighter experience than my first cupcake recipe.

If buttercream isn’t your thing, these cupcakes also pair well with Can-Do Candida’s cream cheese icing, the recipe for which you can find in our post on carrot cake, Candida Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, from June 27th.

And since they’re made of beans, a candida-safe starch, these tasty treats are full of protein and healthy fiber to boot!


For the vanilla buttercream:

Full fat content of 2 cans unsweetened coconut milk (for term clarification, see comments section below)
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp liquid stevia

Refrigerate the coconut milk for at least an hour before making the frosting in order to separate the milk solids from the liquids.

Cut the softened butter into smaller chunks and place these into the bowl of a food processor. Open the refrigerated coconut milk and carefully collect the milk solids, depositing them into the food processor with the butter. Leave the liquid milk behind in the can to be used in the cupcake recipe.

Add the vanilla and stevia to the butter and coconut milk. Pulse the food processor a few times until the ingredients blend and the icing comes together. There can be some texture and even a few small lumps. Be very careful not to over-process or your butter will separate, this is the most important thing to remember.

For the cupcakes:

1 15-ounce can organic butter beans (beans in water, no added ingredients)
½ cup unsweetened liquid coconut milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ tsp liquid stevia
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 tbsp salted butter, melted
1 ½ cups almond flour
½ tsp salt
1//4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Strain and rinse the butter beans to wash off excess starches.  Rinse until the water runs clear out of the strainer.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans, coconut milk, eggs, stevia, vanilla, and melted butter.  Puree these until they come together in a smooth, paste-like batter. No beans should be left whole.

To the pureed wet ingredients, add the almond flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and lemon juice.  Run the food processor again to integrate all these ingredients.

Line a cupcake pan with parchment liners.  Fill each liner ¾ of the way full. 

Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan to ensure even baking and bake for another 15 minutes.  After 30 minutes the cupcakes should have risen slightly and there should be some slight cracking patterns evident on their tops. Remove the finished cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool before frosting.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve allowed yourself the indulgent pleasure of biting into a fluffy, moist cupcake, don’t wait another day to make this recipe.

I wish you all a happy baking, making, and cupcaking!