Thursday 19 February 2015

Living Candida-Free, Asian Napa Cabbage Salad and recipe testing

I am delighted to have the opportunity to sing the praises of Ricki Heller's new book, Living Candida-Free.  However I have so much I would love to say about it, that I must show restraint.  I discovered Ricki Heller's blog (then known as Diet, Dessert and Dogs) in late 2007, when we were both newbie bloggers.  We have been friends ever since.  I was also lucky enough to be one of the testers for the latest book.  Having long being a fan, it was no surprise that I loved the recipes and can enthusiastically recommend the book to you.  I even have permission to share one of a recipes for Asian Napa Cabbage Salad from the book below.

Top: Chickpea "quiche", Veggie-full breakfast hash, Quick and easy chard and chickpea stew
Middle: Pumpkin patties, Homemade ketchup, Beans paprikash
Bottom: Tangy cashew cheese, Glazed tempeh, Creamy kale salad with black beans and sweet potatoes
Ricki is a generous and interesting blogger.  Her writing is always entertaining and her recipes are innovative.  In 2013, I posted an interview with Ricki when her previous book, Naturally Sweet and and Gluten Free was released.  It was great fun to talk with Ricki.  Though I loved her sweet recipes I expressed a hope she would produce a cookbook with her savoury recipes.  And she did.

Chickpea breakfast scramble
Living Candida-Free had 100 recipes and about two thirds of these are savoury.  I was amazed when I sat down to write about it and found I had made almost half of these recipes.  Many of these were made when recipe testing, a few I made from Ricki's blog, and I made more when I got my copy of the cookbook.

Classic green smoothie,
Chocolate bean butter, ACD-friendly fruity sipper, Raw carrot cake energy balls,
Grain free fudgy brownies, Raw apple porridge bowl.
I want to briefly reflect on recipe testing.  It was a great experience.  I found it challenging to have to follow the recipe precisely, especially where stevia was involved.  Often I substitute where I don't have ingredients but for testing, I bought some unusual ingredients like stevia, coconut nectar and yacon syrup.  (In fact I have been loving making her recipes my way since receiving my copy of the book.  That is the way I usually cook.)

However it was really useful to try different ingredients and learn some of Ricki's techniques, rather than sticking with my usual habits.  I also really enjoyed the interactive natures of sharing notes with the other testers and Ricki through a private blog.

Grain free sandwich bread
Recipe testing gave me great incentive for trying lots of Ricki's recipes.  Some of these were dishes I had read about but never tried and others were a bit more complex ones that I hadn't got motivated to make.  A lot of the photos in this post were taking during testing.  They are all recipes I would happily make again.  I made the best kale chips I have ever had, discovered how to scramble chickpea flour, made delicious creamy soups, and vibrant satisfying salads.

Fennel brussels sprouts and edamame salad, Caesar salad, Crimson salad
I should pause to note that Living Candida-Free is targeted at people who are dealing with Candida.  The book has a substantial introduction giving useful information about candida and strategies for dealing with it, particularly through diet.  There is some good general information about digestion and how to develop healthy eating habits.  Ricki has suffered from candida and she shares the gluten free, low sugar and vegan recipes she created to return to good health, while eating well at the same time.

"Sour cream and onion" kale chips
When I told people about that I was testing recipes that were gluten free, low sugar and vegan, they would inevitably ask what I was making.  If anyone can make this sort of diet look good, Ricki can.  I ate so well while I was recipe testing.  The food tasted amazing and I felt really healthy.  And just check out the gorgeous pictures in the cookbook if you aren't convinced by my photos.

Sunday night roast with Perfect golden gravy
Some stand out dishes included a vegan Eggplant Parmesan (known as an eggplant parma in Australia) and a Sunday Night Roast that were so impressive and substantial.  These dishes were a lot of work but worth every moment.  Many dishes, however, delivered a lot of complex flavours from surprisingly little effort such as the Spicy Beans with Chickpea Flatbreads and Creamy Greens with Asian Seasonings.

Eggplant "parmesan"

My diet is not anti Candida, nor gluten free, nor low sugar, nor vegan.  Yet I really love Ricki's recipes because they taste so good.  I would highly recommend them to anyone who wants to eat exciting and healthy food.  For those who eat anti candida, gluten free, low sugar or vegan, there is the added bonus of many made-from-scratch recipes such as Basic Nut or Seed Butter, Sauerkraut and Homemade Ketchup.

Today I am pleased to have permission from the publishers to share a recipe for a fantastic Asian Napa Cabbage Salad.  Ricki makes lots of silky smooth creamy sauces with nut butters and/or coconut milk.  This is one of them.  As well as using cabbage and carrot, she adds toasted nuts and seeds which give lots of wonderful texture and crunch.  The salad was fairly quick to put together and tasted great.  I served it with Glazed Tempeh from the cookbook and boiled brown rice.

Asian Napa Cabbage Salad
To find out more about Living Candida-Free, including a select list of recipes and links to other reviews of the book, visit the book page on Ricki's blog.  You can also find links to buy the book there so that you too can cook yourself some magnificent food.

Asian Napa Cabbage Salad
More posts with dishes from recipe testing for Living Candida Free 
While I was recipe testing for the book, occasionally the tester recipes would appear on the side in photos of other recipes.  As a recipe tester, I agreed not to share anything about the recipes, which was hard because I really wanted to rave about them.  Hence my brief notes in these posts:

Asian Napa Cabbage Salad
Makes 4 to 6 side salad servings
From Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller. 
Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2015.

1/4 cup (60 ml) smooth natural almond butter*
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
10 drops plain pure liquid stevia, or to taste*
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Bragg Liquid Aminos or wheat-free tamari
1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) filtered water
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) red pepper flakes*

1 small napa cabbage, trimmed and cut into shreds*
1 medium-size carrot, grated
2 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped natural almonds, raw or lightly toasted*
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame seeds, raw or lightly toasted*

Make the dressing: Blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the salad: Place all the salad ingredients, except the sesame seeds, in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

I had a huge Napa Cabbage and so I only used half of it.  My nut butter was made from roasted almonds.  I substituted about 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp maple syrup for the stevia (I made a note of this somewhere but can't find my notes so this is approximate.)  I substituted chilli paste for red pepper flakes.  I also toasted the almonds and sesame seeds.

On the Stereo:
Fin de Siecle: The Divine Comedy

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary copy of Living Candida Free.  I was not required to write a positive review of the book.  All my opinions are my own.


  1. Johanna, just WOW. Thank you so much for this amazing review! And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your photos! I couldn't help myself thinking, "I should make that one again. . . " over so many of these--and I've already made them all quite a few times. ;-) I'm so glad you like the recipes and think the book will be useful to folks. Thank you again! xoxo

    1. Thanks Ricki - so pleased you were happy with the review - I really wanted to say so much more about how much I have made your recipes over the years and loved them but exercised restraint. When I see these photos I want to make them again too.

  2. It was lovely to hear your review and insights Johanna - even having gone through the same testing process you have reminded me of some dishes to make again and featured a few I never made. Your photos do the book justice too :)

    1. Thanks Kari - I was pleased to make the asian napa cabbage salad - am sure it was one of the recipes I would have loved to have tested and never got around to - there were quite a few. Glad you found some useful inspiration here even though you have tested lots of the recipes too.

  3. I have heard of this cookbook and know a few people who have it and they're all very impressed with the recipes. The napa cabbage dish looks really good and I like the list of ingredients - would be very tasty xx

    1. Thanks Charlie - good to hear more good stuff about the book - the salad is really worth a go

  4. I love Ricki! So pleased to see this review, the recipes look fabulous and I know it's a book I'll love :D

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I am certain you would love this book too

  5. I think the pics you've posted look delicious - I'm not low-sugar or anything like that (though I am vegan!) but the recipes look like exactly the sort of thing I'd like to eat regardless. Is that a bit of tempeh I see?!

    1. Thanks Joey - yes there is some glazed tempeh with the salad and also in a caesar salad (I meant to name the recipes in the pictures but ran out of time) - I feel the same way as you - though I don't have dietary restrictions I adhere to (other than vegetarian) these recipes are the healthy sort of food I want to eat

  6. Thank you for introducing to another new cookbook, that’s awesome that you were one of her testers, it’s nice to have access to the author’s recipes before having them published! I’ve heard of Heller, but have never connected with her or her blog before! The Sunday Night Roast & Perfect Golden Gravy looks fabulously delicious!

    1. Thanks Rika - it was such a great experience to be a tester for ricki and I hope you check out Ricki's blog and books - they are full of such great information and recipes

  7. some great recipes here that I'd be really keen to try

  8. There are some interesting looking dishes there.

  9. Lucky duck! I would love to do recipe testing for a cookbook =)
    The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes sound great. I'll have to check the book out. I'm not on a candida diet, but would love to incorporate more candida protocol recipes into my regular eats.


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