Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leftover Brown Rice Porridge

One of the greatest barriers to cooking and eating at home for busy people is time. It takes time to gather, store, cook and clean-up... right?! Well, one of the greatest tips that I have brought to practice is to make a full batch of whole grains when I am going to cook them. You can use left over rice for a few days, and that is the same for quinoa, millet, and kasha. I have made puddings, stir-fry's, wraps, salads, and more with these left over grains. What a "easy" way to get whole grains into your diet without alot of work and time. So...this morning I woke up and it is still pretty cold here in Grand Rapids, MI. and nothing sounded better than to have a hot bowl of rice porridge. Hm. Thank goodness that I made some brown rice last night, the hardest step is already done. A whole- grain breakfast can literally happen in minutes and it will keep you going all morning. So here we go...

First off, get the hot water a brewing to make a nice cup of tea :)

Ok, second, the porridge...

Brown Rice Porridge with Apples

2 cups of brown rice (I like small-grain brown rice best) but what you have leftover is great.
1 cup of almond milk, or other favorite non-dairy milk
2 small apples pealed and diced up
handful of raisins
dash of salt
1-2 TB of agave nectar (or raw honey works too)
2 dashes of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and start it a warming. Keep mixing it and add more rice or milk to get the consistency that you want. Get those spices in there so that you can start to smell them brewing and filling the kitchen. Hm, it smells so good. Its almost an apple pie dessert! Cook for up to 10 minutes and eat it hot. Warming your insides on a cold winter day is the best way to start a day to stay focused and grounded. I encourage you to use different dried fruits in the kitchen, or even some nuts would be nice. Or maybe try a different grain or spice. The key is simplicity. And in not more than 10 minutes you will have a nutritious breakfast without the hassle. Be creative!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Savory Squash Risotto (vegan)

When I think of comfort, I think of coconut milk, butternut squash and brown rice. Yes, I have discovered comfort in a bowl. I first started making this dish last fall when butternut squash was pouring out of the ground. Scents of fall filled the house all day long after baking squash and pumpkins. I decided to post this recipe because it is one that is close to my heart and seriously helped me make it through the winter thus far. I tried to stock up on farm-fresh butternut squash so that I could have enough until January, but I ran out a few weeks before Christmas and have even went to the local grocery store to buy frozen squash to make this recipe yet another time before spring. Now to be honest I never grew up eating squash, or coconut milk and fresh sage, so I am not sure why I consider this "my comfort food" of choice. I guess maybe because it reminds me macaroni and cheese, adult style, and without the cheese of course. Whether you think you like squash or not, try this recipe and I guarantee it will keep you warm and grounded for the rest of this winter season. 

Savory Squash Risotto
2 small or 1 large baked squash
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
handful of fresh sage
handful of fresh parsley
2 ts. of  fresh or dried thyme 
sea salt to your taste
fresh ground black pepper 
olive oil to drizzle

Bake the 2 small butternut squash or 1 large in the oven for 1 hour on 400 degrees until it is soft enough to cut into. After peeling the skin off the squash put the pieces into the blender or food processor with one can of coconut milk. (either the 60% less fat kind or regular. Blend until it becomes a pudding like substance. Add a little water if you need to get it moving in the blender to smooth better.

Saute 1/2 cup of onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic in about 2 TB of olive oil in a large pan or medium sized pot. Make sure not to burn the onions or garlic, keep them just transparent  Add in the pudding squash/coconut milk mixture and keep it cooking.

Add in the chopped sage, parsley and thyme. I like to add in a lot of herbs to have full flavor, but use as much or as little as you want.

Add in sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season as well.

I let this cook for about 20 minutes, being careful not to burn.

It is that easy! Yes! I pour this over brown rice pasta, or mix it with brown rice to make a risotto. I always like to save some of the fresh herbs to sprinkle on top, along with a healthy topping of pine nuts. 

Hmmm, comfort in a bowl.

Enjoy and cuddle up with a loved one to stay warm tonight!

Other options for ingredients:
If you don't have enough butternut squash, I have mixed some acorn, or other winter squashs in the mix and it turned out wonderful as well.

I have used frozen winter squash that you can buy at the grocery store in place of from-the-garden and baked at home still turns out great.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lil' Spice is Nice Gluten-Free Granola

Here is it, the beginning of my long awaited "food blog". My name is Stephanie Laidlaw and I live in the city of hope and healing, called Grand Rapids MI. Yes it's true, many Michiganders have a love/hate relationship with Michigan for it's long winter and gorgeous summers, so they may not label it as a city of hope and healing. But, for me in the last few years I have found a home in GR and a place to heal from chronic pain. For most people that know me, they know that if you get me started about what kinds of new foods you are eating or what to eat to feel better and heal, that you have just opened a door to let me loose on "telling you what to do." That is not my intention with this space. I intend to help create a place that people who desire to live a gluten (and dairy) free life may have a resource and a place to come to for new ideas. Hopefully this space will force me to to keep discovering new ways to make eating as nutritious and fulfilling as possible. And most of all, I hope to connect with people that have the same desire to eat different for health reasons or simply to just change the world we live in. Let's face it, what kind of food you eat can be right in line next to what you believe politically and spiritually. What we choose to put in our bodies is a powerful thing. I am excited to see where this journey takes me... and now for a new recipe...

Lil' Spice is Nice
Gluten- Free Granola

3 cups of Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats
1 cup of sliced almonds or nut of choice
1 cup of pecans or another nut of choice
3/4 cup of dried cranberries/ or raisins
3/4 cup of dried Michigan cherries
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup dried organic coconut
1 TB of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1/2 ts. of ground cardamon
1/2 ts. of ground cloves
1 cup of local honey
1/2 cup of blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil (or other lighter oil, like walnut or olive)

Mix all the ingredients together in a giant bowl and lay flat on a cookie sheet that has parchment paper on it. Spread out so that it is 1-2 inches thick across and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 min. You can tell it is done but the scent being all through the house and by the toasty color it has turned. It still will be very soft so let it cool and it will crisp up so that you can crumble into a packaging container, or you can eat all of it before it gets there. I recommend saving some and eating it with almond milk in the morning or for snacks. I have also found that it is pretty tasty with some organic goat milk yogurt. Of course you could just eat it by itself as well. My favorite is in the morning for breakfast!