October 30, 2012

Healthy Halloween

The Culinate newsletter just posted a useful article about healthier options for Halloween. I like the suggestions of dried fruit, granola bars, and applesauce. For those who live in a place where packaging is an important tool for parents to trust that treats are safe to eat, I agree with this article's perspective. 

If you have the opportunity to hand out home-made treats, I encourage you to try one or two of these recipes for tomorrow night's festivities. 

Regardless, click here for recipes to prepare a simple, healing meal this week. This practice will help to balance any challenges you are experiencing.


Easy Granola Bars
You will need:
½ cup dried, unsweetened dates, raisins, apricots (choose any combination of these)
½ cup walnuts, pecans, almonds (choose any combination of these) - toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut butter or a combination of these)
¼ cup honey
4 Tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 cup rolled oats

Boil 2 cups water. As water boils, coarsely chop all dried fruit and place it in a small mixing bowl.
Pour boiling water over fruit. Soak for 15 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, mix honey, nut butter, coconut, cinnamon, salt and oats in a medium mixing bowl.
Chop walnuts/almonds and pumpkin seeds.
Toast all seeds and nuts. Add to mixing bowl and mix together.

Add soaked dried fruit to the above ingredients.
Oil a glass baking dish: 7×11″ is a good size.
While the mixture is still warm, press it flat into the dish with wax paper. Chill for 1 hour.

Slice into squares. Cover with plastic wrap or store in baking dish in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

***
Sweet Potato Bread
Dry ingredients:
1½ cups flour (spelt for wheat-free OR 3/4 cup rice & 3/4 cup millet for gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg OR 2 Tablespoons flax seed meal (vegan option)
1/4 cup maple syrup
Grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup steamed, mashed sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons unsweetened, whole milk yogurt OR coconut yogurt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease 8 or 9 inch pan with vegetable oil.
Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together.
Make a well in the center, combine the wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
Incorporate wet and dry ingredients until they are well combined.

Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean.


To make savory treats that you can enjoy in the midst of much sweetness, try these quick and healing breads and spreads. If you are making the sweet potato bread (above), you can steam extra sweet potatoes for the spread below. To get really ambitious, roll vegetarian sushi - it's a great party snack.

Buckwheat Bread
In a bowl, mix:
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
1 egg
¼ cup olive oil
enough water to make batter into pourable consistency (about 1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease any 8 inch pan with vegetable oil.
Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean.

***
Oaty Corn Bread
Dry ingredients:
1 cup corn meal (I like stone-ground cornmeal from a local Vermont farm)
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cumin seed powder

Wet ingredients:
¼ cup vegetable oil (I like olive or sunflower oil)
1 cap-full of apple cider vinegar
boiling water to soak oats

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease any 8 inch pan with vegetable oil.
Place oats in a mixing bowl. Boil ½ cup water and pour it over the oats. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir together.
Add the wet ingredients and incorporate briefly.
Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean. 

*** 

Artichoke Spread
Open one glass jar artichoke hearts and drain water out. Place artichoke hearts in blender.
Add:
¼ cup olive oil
½ Tablespoon lemon juice concentrate
1 teaspoon salt
½ Tablespoon dry thyme leaf
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy with buckwheat bread!

***
Sweet Potato Spread
Chop one large sweet potato into ¼ inch cubes.
Place in stock pot, cover with water, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil.
Boil for 10 minutes or until cubes are tender when poked with a fork.
Drain water and place boiled sweet potatoes in food processor
Add:
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom
2 teaspoons salt
You can also add 1 Tablespoon almond butter or ¼ cup fresh ground almonds if desired
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.
Serve and enjoy with oatmeal, on toast, or by itself as a snack.


October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Bars

Thank you to all who attended the healing foods inservice at Saint Vincent's Hospital. Here is the recipe for the pumpkin bars we sampled. They are free of gluten, dairy, and added sweeteners.

Get creative with this recipe!
Try these 3 suggestions:
>>Add feta cheese chunks for a savory treat.
>>Use as pancake batter and drizzle with butter and maple syrup.
>>Spread batter into a pie plate, whisk together 6 eggs, 1/2 cup almond milk, garlic, thyme and spinach. Pour over the batter and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Voila! Frittata 

Pumpkin Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 or 9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil.

Mix these dry ingredients in a bowl:
1 1/2 cups cup millet flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom, cloves, nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Make a well in the center and, in that space, add these wet ingredients:
1 cup (8 oz) cooked pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I like olive or sunflower oil)
1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
1 spoonful nut butter (almond or cashew are my favorites)

Mix the wet ingredients with each other, incorporate the dry ingredients, and spread into baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

You can whisk together some local, raw honey and cinnamon to spread over the top for extra sweetness.

Cacao Creations

Based on your requests, I am offering more tantalizing ways to cook and savor cacao. Click this link to let me know what you think! Your feeback helps me improve my offerings. 


Red Chile Mole
¼ cup coconut oil
1 large onion, minced
1 teaspoon red chile powder (ancho is wonderful)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon clove powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup raisins
2 Tbsp. tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)
4 garlic cloves, crushed (in a garlic press)

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil. Add the chile and cumin seeds. Toast on low for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the onion and add it to the skillet. Add the rest of the spices EXCEPT the cocoa powder. This will come later. Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

You can add a splash of water if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the raisins. Let them soak for 5 minutes. Drain ¾ of the water, add tahini, and mix well. Add this mixture to the skillet.

Now add the cocoa powder. Stir well to incorporate the flavors. Press the garlic into the skillet and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Enjoy over rice, grilled chicken, pinto beans, or cornbread.

***

Chocolate Almond Chicken
You will need:

¼ cup coconut oil

1 large onion, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 pound organic, free-range chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

In a large skillet, melt coconut oil. Chop the onion and ginger. Add these to the skillet. Add the rest of the spices EXCEPT the cocoa powder. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken, raise the heat to high and saute, stirring constantly with a metal spatula, for 5 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned.

Add the almonds and almond milk.

Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Now add the cocoa powder. Stir well or whisk gently to incorporate the flavors. Press the garlic into the skillet and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Enjoy over corn tortillas and with a side of cooked greens if you like.

***
Corn Tortillas
You will need:
2 cups masa harina (fine corn flour)
water
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon or olive oil



The night before making tortillas:
In a mixing bowl, place 1 ½ cups masa harina, lime juice, salt, and enough water to make a thick batter.Cover with cloth and allow to sit for 8 to 24 hours.


Stir well. Let the dough remain like a thick batter.
Heat a cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet on high heat. Add enough oil to coat skillet thinly.


Prepare dough by mixing remaining ½ cup masa harina and olive oil into batter.
If you have whole corn kernels, add a handful to the batter for texture.

Pour batter in pancake shapes on skillet and cook for 2 minutes on first side and 4 minutes on second side. Use a spatula to flip.

If the oil on the skillet is smoking, reduce heat, wipe off with a paper towel, and resume process with less oil.

When each tortilla is done, place it in a damp cloth and cover it to keep pliable.

***

Cardamom Brownies with Raspberry Jam Swirl
Dry ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour (spelt OR a mixture of millet and rice for gluten-free option)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cardamom and cinnamon

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs OR 4 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
½ cup maple syrup 
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup chopped, unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together.

Make a well in the center, combine the wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended. Incorporate dry into wet and stir until just blended.

Grease 8 or 9 inch baking pan with vegetable oil. Pour batter into greased pan. 

Take 4 Tablespoons of raspberry jam (I like Bionaturae or another fruit-sweetened kind) and whisk it in a spouted container with 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Pour in a pattern all over the brownie batter. Have fun with the swirling patterns!

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests slightly damp. Allow brownies to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


***

Pear Chocolate Tart
For the crust:
1 ½ cups flour (wheat-free : ¾ cup each barley & spelt; gluten-free: 1 cup millet four & ½ cup rice flour)
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup solid coconut oil, cut into pearl-sized chunks
pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup almond milk

About 2 fresh, ripe pears, sliced into eight sections 

For the filling:
1 egg (OR 2 T flaxseed meal dissolved in boiling water if you prefer vegan)
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup melted coconut oil 
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond milk
1 cup chopped unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a pie plate with vegetable oil.

Combine all the crust ingredients EXCEPT almond milk. Coat the coconut oil with flour. Add the milk,  stir gently, and press into the pie plate to make a crust. Do not worry if it doesn't go all the way up the sides. Just use your hands to make sure it is of uniform thickness.

Arrange the pears over the crust.

In the same bowl, mix the ingredients for the filling. Pour them over the pears.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean.
Serve with a garnish of maple yogurt of you like.

***
Zoom Balls
You will need:
1 cup tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)
½ cup cashew or almond butter
¼ cup honey (more or less to taste)
¼ cup toasted, ground oats
3 Tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds or sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom powder
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix tahini, nut butter and honey until smooth.
Add oats and nuts - mix in well.  Mix in enough coconut to make dough thick.
Add spices and cocoa powder. Mix once more.
Roll the dough into small balls. You can also spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cut into squares.
Store the balls in baking tins in a cool place. They will last for 3 weeks.






October 23, 2012

Scones

It's time to warm the house with some baking! Scones are my favorite baked treat. Shiny with egg wash or crumbly from too much butter, the ones I like best are not too sweet and have plenty of fresh or dried fruit. 

Scones help me find my way through the winter doldrums. 


Make your own with freshly milled flour and delicious fruit for a simple, healthy snack.In a bowl, mix:
2 cups flour (Gluten-free: ground quinoa, millet, buckwheat; Wheat-free: spelt, rye and cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom

Add 1/2 cup dried currants OR 1 fresh, ripe pear, coarsely chopped. Incorporate into dry ingredients.
Chop 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter OR cold coconut oil into the batter. Incorporate that, too.

Make a well in the center and add:
1/2 cup coconut milk OR cream
1 egg OR 2 heaping spoonfuls nut butter
Mix these together, then mix everything together.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Oil a cookie sheet.

Shape scones into hockey pucks that fit inside your palm and place each one on the cookie sheet. Glaze with a beaten egg if you like.

Bake for 20 minutes and savor just one fresh out of the oven. 

October 18, 2012

Omega-3 Power! Winter Squash Cake

Besides being sweetly delicious, winter squash is full of vitamin C (about one-third of the daily value in every cup) as well as the antioxidant mineral manganese. Eat the skin, too! Recent research has shown that the cell wall polysaccharides found in winter squash also possess antioxidant properties. In addition, squash is both anti-inflammatory and lends a valuable amount of our anti-inflammatory omega-3s without much of a change in our total fat intake.

To make a simple squash dessert, make puree with buttercup, butternut, delicata or sweet dumpling squash.


Winter Squash Puree

You will need:
1 large winter squash, about 2 pounds 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place squash cut side down on baking sheet.
Pour 1 cup water in bottom of pan, and place in oven to roast 40-45 minutes until flesh of squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.
Peel, cut open and scoop out seeds.

Place in a blender or food processor with:
½ teaspoon each cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg
pinch salt
2 Tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

Voila! Eat spoonfuls as a snack, mix it into your oatmeal, use it as a pie filling, or bake it into a cake.

Ginger Squash Cake

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie dish or round baking pan with vegetable oil.



In a large mixing bowl, combine until well mixed:
1 cup almond meal 
2 cups flour - I like either whole wheat or whole spelt; use 1 cup brown rice flour and 1 cup millet flour for a gluten-free version)
pinch salt
½ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced

Make a well in the center and add:
1 cup squash puree
1/2 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil - I like either local sunflower oil or olive oil)
1 cap-full of apple cider vinegar
1 cup milk - almond, rice, or cow
1 heaping spoonful of nut/seed butter - cashew, almond, or tahini

Pour batter into greased pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center tests clean. This is a delicious dessert. Try topping it with whipped, full-fat coconut milk or melted 85% chocolate for a rich delight.


October 11, 2012

Soups To Warm Your Bones

Try to set aside time this weekend to make some of these dishes. Put them in portion-sized containers to nourish you during the week ahead. You can bake cornbread, quinoa almond pancakes, or rice to go with any of these soups.


Reishi Astragalus Broth

This vegetarian broth will deeply nourish and strengthen your immune system.
You will need:
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), chopped
  • One 1 1⁄2 inch (3 1⁄2 cm) piece of fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 5 pieces sliced dried Astragalus Root
  • 2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 large reishi mushroom
Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large stock pot. Reduce to medium low heat and simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Strain and use as a base for the soup recipes below.

***

Pumpkin Cashew Soup

For this soothing and sweet soup, you will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil 
  • 1 can coconut milk (8 oz.)
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 2 cups pie pumpkin, peeled and diced 
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • pinch each: ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper 
Heat coconut oil in a large stock pot. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes, until softened. Add garlic, ginger, pumpkin and cashew nuts. Save some nuts for garnish if desired. Cook gently for 2 minutes. 
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add coconut milk and simmer to 20 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.
Place into a blender or use an immersion blender and process until smooth.   Serve with a garnish of cashews if you like.

***
Mushroom Goulash Soup

For this traditional Austrian recipe, you will need:



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 pound crimini, shitake, or a mix of both mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)


  • Heat oil in an heavy stock pot. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika and caraway seeds and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. 
    Add mushrooms and saute for 15 minutes.

    Whisk in vinegar and tomato sauce and cook, whisking, about 2 minutes. 
    Stir in broth and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

    Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add potatoes to soup and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Soup may be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat soup, thinning with water if desired.

    Serve with freshly chopped parsley as a garnish if you like.

    ***

    Corn and Beet Soup

    For this traditional southwestern soup, you will need:
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
    • 3 medium beets, coarsely chopped
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • pinch each: coriander and cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    • Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
    • freshly chopped cilantro 

    In a stock pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Saute the onion until it is translucent. Add the beets, carrots and garlic. Add salt and spices.

    Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer the soup, covered, for 50 minutes. Taste for salt and add some if necessary.

    Add corn kernels, cilantro and black pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes and serve hot!



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