Monday, January 16, 2017

Immunity Boosting Berry Chia Jam

There are seemingly many days in the winter months (in Michigan at least) that are cold, dark, dreary and just make you feel like your in a hibernating hole. Then there are days when the winter sun shines bright all day from the rise to the sunset- which is only for like 8 hours- but still a glorious sight. You may be a summer-lover, and I totally understand- I am too! But I have also been falling deep in love with the winter. The season to recharge from the buzzing around and the busy energy of spring and summer. It is also still a great time to get outside (while very bundled up!) and walk in the woods or by water or in the fresh falling snow. You will then notice a very still and quiet space there as well. Such a magical and emotional world to tap into the soul.

Winters can also bring on an onslaught of emotions and energies. It is a good time to rest, recharge, stay cozy and nourish one's self in many ways. It is a time to bring inward more ways of quiet, stillness, and calm to your life. Some of these little steps I take are through... deep breathing, yoga and meditation, warm tea and journalling, outdoor walks, epsom salt baths, nourishing soups that last for days, and homemade bread and jam.
I find myself wanting to make bread in January. I look back in my recipe archives in the brain and elsewhere ;)... and that is when most of my bread recipes are inspired and created. I think it must be a reflection of the desire to be nourished during these slower days inside. Bread is a symbol, and rightly so, as a staple to life. A daily blessings and gift to fulfill the basic needs of hunger.  And like you know as being a gluten-free friend- this got super tricky after the diagnosis. Bread became the enemy and the source of mockery for your life. I felt that same way until I finally restored this belief after stumbling into the making of my bread. It brought a kind of redemption to the story for me.
And....when you have a favorite bread recipe that brings life to your being- it only gets better with jam. And this jam fits the bill this winter being packed full of nutrient dense and immune boosting ingredients. Ginger, oranges, elderberry, honey, blueberries, cranberries and's basically a medicinal antidote to the cold and flu season if you ask me.

In the jam, I use berries that I dug out of the deep freezer in the basement. I'm sure you remember my July and August posts of picking fresh berries and unintentional bragging of my bounty. All that work is really for occasions and recipes such as this. It's so lovely to pull out berries and have a little taste of summer in the winter. It is like a little reminder with each bite that summer is coming again and also brings a full heart of gratitude for the months past of gathering the bounty of berries.
Immunity Boosting Berry Chia Jam Recipe
2 cups of frozen blueberries
2 cups of frozen cranberries
2 cups of frozen strawberries
1 cup of very concentrated elderberry tea*
1/2 cup of juice (I used Antioxidant Force by Smart Juice) but you could use pomegranate or other no sugar fruit juice like cherry, berry mix, or grape. Or at the least you could use water as well.
2 TB of grated fresh ginger
1 organic orange grated for zest and squeezed for juice (could easily sub a lemon)
1/3 cup of pure raw honey
drizzle of maple syrup (or add 1/4 cup more of honey)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of whole chia seeds

*Soak 1/2 cup of dried elderberries in 1 quart jar of boiling water and let sit for overnight or longer and then drain the berries out and you have elderberry tea. You could also sub in some already made elderberry syrup if you used up your berries already making that and have it on hand- but you would only use 1/2 cup of the elderberry syrup and add 1/2 cup water. And since the honey is in the syrup as well you may decide to not add as much honey in the rest of the recipe. 

In a medium saucepan, pour in the 6 cups of frozen berries with the tea and the juice and let cook to defrost and get soft. Then add in the ginger and orange juice and zest and bring to a soft boil and bubble and cook from any where to 10-15 minutes until the berries are very hot, juicy and mushy. Then use an immersion blender to blend in half of the mixture to be more smooth and have less chunky fruit. After this it looks like a fruit soup. Then add in the honey and syrup and stir well while it softly bubbles and boils. Turn off the heat and then add in the chia seeds. Stir in well so not to be clumpy and then let it sit in the pan and cool and let the chia seeds soak up the moisture and turn into a thick jammy substance. When it cools for 10-15 minutes you can pour into jars to continue to cool and thicken in the fridge. This recipe makes 3 pint jars. You can half it if you are looking to make less or you can also freeze and then thaw out when needed.

Hope you are staying warm and cozy and finding new levels of love for winter.
Much love and light, xoxo

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Everyone needs a good balanced "treat" recipe. And this one is a spin on the classic oatmeal raisin cookie with some nourishing ingredients. Yes, there is the chocolate treats, and cakes and such, but sometimes you are trying to eat a little less indulgence after the holidays and focus on eating more whole foods- I get it! These cookies might as well be a granola bar in my opinion, but then once you form it into a cookie you celebrate like it's a treat. And maybe you do, but it can really also just be a great snack and goodie-to-go for yourself and the kids.
This cookie is pure goodness. Yet, somehow paired with tea time it does seem like a celebration.
I made these yummies with some leftover pumpkin puree. Then I added some few pinches of pumpkin spice blend and it was a magical addition to any oatmeal raisin goodness.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nut, seed and refined sugar-free}
2 cups of rolled GF oats
3/4 cup of GF oat flour
1/2 cup of rice flour
1/3 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of applesauce
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
2/3 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup of avocado oil
1/4 cup of softened coconut oil
3/4 cup of organic raisins

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl first, then add in the wet and mix well with a spatula until it is a sticky ball. Then fold in the raisins last. Let batter sit for 10 minutes in the fridge and then you are ready to scoop out 1 TB sized pieces of dough and roll and spread out on the baking sheet. I was able to bake 15 on a parchment-covered baking 12x15 baking sheet. This recipe will make about 30 cookies. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes. 

Much love and light, xoxo

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fresh Thyme Frittata Cups

Here is another great breakfast creation. Another great way to start your day on a positive note of nourishment and making good choices. Yes, I don't normally post a lot of egg recipes. In fact, we don't do many egg dishes at our house because of allergies (as you can tell from my egg-free baking ;). Still there are a few in our house that love eggs and this is a great way to make some and store some away for the week to warm up and go. So I understand if this is not an option for you- but maybe it is- and if it is you got to try this simple way of making a batch of frittata cups. 
How could you not want to start your day with these bright yellow rays of sunshine? Maybe they should be also known as, "breakfast sunshine cups" but also known as..."a creation you don't really need a recipe for" and "could have hundreds of great combos". Really. I made these on a whim with the ingredients I had in the house, but you could make them with your favorite veggies and herbs and get a great result as well.
I once was a part of a breakfast experiment for part of my holistic health training and it had something to do like this.... each day of the week you make a different breakfast creation and then document how you felt afterward or until lunch. So you have a day with a juice or smoothie, a day of eggs, a day of oatmeal, a day of granola or seeds and nut bar option, and then there is always the whole grain toast or muffin option as well. You are looking to see how your body responds to the differing amounts of proteins, carbs and possibly sugars. Yeah, I usually don't pay attention to the micro/macro-nutrients of foods because I am mostly interested in if the food is fresh, whole foods that don't create allergic reactions or inflammation. But I think this little experiment does something great- it allows one to find a little intuition on what is a great breakfast option for their body to start the day. Some work best with eggs, some work best with a bowl of oats, some work best with a fresh juice and an energy bar. And sometimes its different depending on the season. The experiment allows one to ask the body what it needs and then make the choices to make that happen so you can start the day the best way you can. In one season of my life, a smoothie and a bit of granola was what my body wanted. And I always love a bit of porridge or oatmeal in the winter months to warm up in the morning, but I also love the boost that a few eggs and all that protein and greens offer first thing too. So- I say all of this to offer a bit of experimenting to your food-life if you feel like you are in a rut. It may seem a little risky if you are still afraid of food that may make you sick and have been eating the same thing for most days. And that ok too. And maybe eggs are not for you- then don't try them but try some other options like porridge, stirfry, even soups. It is baby steps. Breakfast is a good place to start. 
Fresh Thyme Frittata Cups Recipe

1/2 cup of sweet onion (or a mix of green onions and white onion)
1/2 cup of finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup of finely chopped greens (I used kale this time)
1 cup of chopped turkey sausage (or chicken, or bacon)
1/4 ts. of sea salt and black pepper
2 TB- large handful of fresh thyme + more for topping

10 large or 12 small farm fresh eggs
1 cup of milk of choice (I use coconut or rice usually- but you can use water too)
a pinch of sea salt and black pepper

other options place of the veggies:
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup of shredded carrots or root veggies
use of other greens or fresh herbs
(garlic, shallots, green onion, leeks)

In a large saucepan, sauce the finely chopped veggies and sausage. Cook until it is all soft and smells amazing! Then in a 12 cup muffin tin, make sure it is cleaned well and rubbed with ghee or organic butter of choice- then evenly distribute the veggies sausage mix in each muffin cup about half way full. 

In a large quart measuring cup mix up the 10 eggs and 1 cup of milk and get a frothy egg mix. Ad in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper here too. then pour the mix over each muffin cup full of veggie mix. Fill 3/4 full and then top with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes and then let cool and set for 10-15 minutes before digging out. The butter helps it pop from the tin- oil gets more stuck. Also after letting it sit for the few minutes allows it to pull away from the tin as well. It was pretty easy pulling out and placing on a plate about 10-15 minutes later. Eat warm, or when they are cooled too- They are amazing regardless. 
Dress up with salsa- potatoes, or just by itself. They are a fun option for brunches or parties or little gatherings. They are cute and packed full of flavor and nutrients. I bet once you make them you will be thinking of other great options for combos and how to make them fantastic. That is why I say they really don't need a recipe per say- but I guess it helps to know the general amounts of veggie to egg ratio for the 12 muffin cups. I hope this recipe finds you ready to experiment and start your day well.
Happy Breakfast, friends!

Much love and light, xoxo

Monday, January 9, 2017

Overnight Soaked and Baked Oatmeal

Happy New Year! A week late ;) But still basking in the newness of January after the holidays. I'm not really a resolutions person lately. I think I was in the past for some years there. I think I want to believe that any day can be a FRESH NEW start even if it is a random day in the middle of the week with no holiday to celebrate. I think I know this after being through a plethora of my own setbacks, traumas, and new beginnings. Sometimes the event or day just happens. And sometimes, yes, you have to make it happen. So either way you have to find what would bring the best source of health and balance for you. So maybe it is resolutions and goals, or maybe it is a word for the year, or maybe a theme. I think all of those things are amazing. I love seeing a person grab onto something and make it a part of there life with passion and force. I've seen change happen this way. It is a powerful thing to watch and create.
So, here we are 2017- maybe you have been trying to set goals for healthy living and eating, and breathing and movement- or all of the above- I am there with you. I have been forcing myself to get some form of movement in every day. The treadmill, a yoga class, dancing. But for me it is just as much a help for my mental state as it is for my body- the mind-body-soul connection happening. This is a goal of mine I guess you could say.

And this recipe is here to help you on this journey. It is an easy make before bed and bake in the morning while you trying to get out the door or while you are spending some time on the mat or in meditation. This is a great choice to start out the day and it isn't super difficult to make it happen. I know this to be true about myself, that starting the day with a few simple positive choices, the whole day seems to stay focused. And being focused is where I want to be!
Overnight Soaked and Baked Oatmeal Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, egg and refined-sugar free}

2 1/2 cups of rolled GF oats
1/2 cup of chopped dates
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 apple finely chopped (optional) (you could add other fruit)
1 ts of ground cinnamon
1/2 ts. of ground cardamom
1/2 ts. of ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
2 cups of milk of choice (I used coconut milk beverage)
1/4 cup of ground flaxseed or chia seed

optional: sprinkle from frozen blueberries onto before soaking
optional #2: 1/4-1/2 cup sprinkle of roasted almonds or walnuts

In a mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients and stir together and then pour into a glass 9x9 pyrex pan.   You can sprinkle some frozen blueberries or nuts on top. It is very loose, but it will soak and sit overnight (or 3-4 hours works too) and then you can eat just like that, so to warm up put in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Then scoop into bowls and serve with a an added drizzle of maple syrup, ghee, butter of choice and milk of choice. Or even a dollop of greek yogurt and a fresh fruit. 

This recipe fills a 9x9 pan, if you want to fill a 9x13 pan then add 1 more cup of oats and 1 more cup of milk, and additional dates, nuts and seeds of your preference. The dates add a caramelly taste and crunch to the dish to perfection.

This recipe is very similar to my Raw Breakfast Museli but this is a baked version to warm you well over the winter months with added spice and baking. 

Hope you are starting 2017 well. Don't give up and keep going...

Much love and light xoxo