Sunday, September 27, 2009

Peanut Cabbage Quinoa Soup

I came down with a sore throat this weekend. Must be the changing fall air here in Michigan. So the only thing I want when I feel a little under the weather with a sore throat is a big bowl of steaming soup. Just soup that's all. And maybe rotate the soup with many cups of honey, lemon and immune-building herbal tea as well. Who wants to be in the kitchen when you are not feeling well? Not me, I want to be on the couch watching an old movie or the Food Network. So this soup is simple, not a lot of chopping and not too long to cook. It contains some fresh cabbage that I bought this weekend and it tasted superb with a touch of peanut goodness.

I love cabbage. I have told you this before. It has texture, color, and so many good cleaning benefits. A good food to eat when you are not feeling well because it will help your blood and body cleanse out some of the toxins. What s gorgeous way to stay healthy with cabbage. This soup is made with savoy cabbage which is higher in beta-carotene than some of the other cabbages and it is very rich in vitamin C. Just what you need when you need a little immunity boost. This soup also contains great immunity boosters like garlic and ginger. Just a little extra goodness to get you feeling better. Or keep you feeling well and not giving an germs a chance to invade. Peanut Cabbage Quinoa Soup:
2 TB of olive oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 medium diced onion, about 1 cup
4 large cloves of minced garlic
4 cups of vegetable broth or stock
2 cups of pure water
3 cups of chopped and diced savoy cabbage
1 1/2 cup of peeled and diced carrots ( I like cutting them like saucers for this recipe)
2 cups of cooked quinoa (or brown rice works as well...basically whatever you have available)
1 TB of ginger (dried or grated)
1 TB of wheat-free tamiari sauce
dash of cayenne pepper and paprika
juice from 1 fresh lime or about 1 TB of lime juice
3 TB of a raw creamy organic peanut butter
1 ts. of cracked pepper or however much to your taste

Saute the diced onions on the bottom of a 5 qt. pot and let them soften just a bit, then pour in the broth, water and minced garlic. Give that a minute to cook and then dump in the cabbage, carrots, and let cook for a few more minutes. Then you can add the rest of the ingredients. Let the peanut butter melt into the broth and it will not be a clear as before. Make sure you don't have any chunks of peanut butter floating around, and that it has melted completely through the broth. Once you add the already cooked quinoa that should be your last step. It is already cooked, so it just needs to get warmed. I let this soup cook for about 15-20 minutes so that the flavors can meld and the cabbage and carrots have time to get soft and cooked.

It is pretty simple, but that is what you need when you are feeling the greatest. Hope you enjoy even if you are not sick because the soup is a great combo on a bunch of delicious flavors, not to mention healthy benefits. Enjoy and be well!

If you have a cold or sinus infection not only is a good vegetable based soup good for you, but also to stay away from mucus-creative foods like eggs, dairy, and sometimes even meat can create mucus. Also, stay away from all sugar! The only sweetener I eat is honey in my tea and on my throat, which is a natural soothing remedy. Sugar in foods will cause your body to fight harder to get better, it is just best to stay away until you are feeling better.

Try and keep drinking a lot of water, and also as much herbal tea as you can. Herbal tea immune booster tea usually has a good combo. Ones with echinacea and ginger, an many other added herbs for healing.

Rest and don't try and do any projects or go out. Stay close to home and rest.

Do some light stretching or yoga or even a nice walk. Sweating just a bit will help shed some toxins sitting in your body. Stretching is a great way to loosen up some of the toxins that want to come out.

Assist you body in healing. Don't go against it and make it harder.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apple-Cider Chicken Stir-Fry

Do you know how many times I have been asked,"So, what DO you eat? Or, "What do you make for dinner if you can't eat dairy and gluten?!" Well, when I first started this journey I had a pretty long answer of how I was trying this and that and whatever. I usually didn't lie and say everything was hunkie-dorie either.  Eating gluten and dairy free is an obstacle on a daily basis. Especially in our American culture. You can't really depend on the American diet if you have food allergies and you are stuck at some small road side restaurant. You most of the time have to pack your own lunch and pack a cooler and explain to that friend, for this party and on and on. Trust me. I know. It's not easy, and that is why I am inspired to even blog really. People that know how hard it is come together and inspire each other to do great things for themselves and also promote change in the average diet. We are forced to be creative people. We are forced to find ways to find a sense of normalcy and most of all a sense of truth health in our bodies.

Before when I ate gluten, I was not confident in my diet. I didn't know what was bothering me... everything was. Going gluten-free, or allergen-free is making the conscious choice to be aware of what is going in your body...every teaspoon of anything. No second guessing. You start to be more intuitive about what foods do what to your mood and health. It really is a gift. That is how I look at it now... if you live gluten-free you have a gift. The gift of sensing what is best for your whole body. So.... I am digressing. :) "What DO I eat?" was the question...

I eat gluten-free, dairy-free, and even meat free for a while. The vegan lifestyle is sustainable for some, but many people suffer from a multitude of issues of malnutrition and absorption problems. I did it as a cleanse and it does help to really re-start your body in turning a new page in healing from inflammation and digestive disorder. I am not a true vegan now because I know for my body type I need to still have meat here and there to be more balanced and nourished. Yet, there is still a question of what kind of meat for me.

The best way to eat and buy meat is locally. There is no debate. That is it. When you buy meat from your local farmer you can see how the animals are treated and not tortured. There are usually no hormones or chemicals injected in the animals. They die peacefully like they should and don't give off angry chemicals in their bodies while dying. They usually are able to roam free in fields and eat what they are supposed to eat...grass. Not corn, not leftover whatevers... it's really gross. Factory farmed meat isn't meat anymore, it is a "grown" and disposed product that we have mass-produced and our bodies don't recognize as a food. (check out the movie Food, Inc. if you are interested in more of this discussion). 

If you eat local meat you will probably eat less meat because to buy it local and fresh it does cost a tad bit more... it's true. But it's worth it and you won't buy too much. I like to think about this... people 100 years ago ate their own farmed meat, but it wasn't like they were eating it every meal like we do now. They had to watch it be born, raise it, and kill it, and prepare it. I think if we had that kind of connection to our meat then maybe we wouldn't buy carts full at the grocery store. If we had to do the "dirty" work I guarantee we would all think about vegetarianism for a while. So how to deal with this... buying local meat is better for your body, the environment, the local economy, and the world as a whole. So do it. 

Well, for me I think of my diet in how I can be most nourished at every meal. That is what I eat. That means a lot of vegetables in season, whole grains, sometimes local meat, beans, legumes, fruit, and nuts and seeds. More recently I have been experimenting with goat dairy to see how I can do with that, and also raw dairy. I ask myself what I need in each day, week, season what would be most healing and nourishing to my whole self. I love whole foods. They are so flavor-full and full of so many key nutrients that are missed in processed foods. I try and eat what is fresh and in season. And I stick to the basics and forget about trying to make feasts at every meal. That is how I eat. I am sure over time I will know how to communicate "what I eat" better because we change and our bodies change and need new things. But, I do know that I have a simple dinner cooking now,  and I want to share with you how easy it can be to have a whole-foods dinner that nourishes...

Apple Cider Chicken Stir-Fry Ingredients:
I bought a whole fryer chicken this week at the market from a local farm and cleaned and seasoned it, then roasted it for just over an hour. I let it cool and then cut off all of the meat from the bones. ( Save the bones, make a huge pot of chicken broth and can or freeze it). Get out all you can from that chicken...

Chicken meat from a whole 3lb chicken. Dark meat and light meat mixed all together. Shred it off the bone to have bite-sized pieces, and then put in a large frying pan or wok.

1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of organic ketchup
1/4 cup of raw honey 
1/4 cup of wheat-free low sodium tamari sauce
1 TB. or so of olive oil
1 ts. of garlic paste (or dried/freshly minced garlic works too)
1 ts. of ginger paste (or freshly grated)
Cracked pepper and a dash a sea salt to taste

2-3 red peppers with a small onion

at least 2 cups of quinoa (or brown rice works too)

Add some fresh chopped spinach on top to catch some of the steam from the chicken and quinoa. It gets wilted a bit and yet still stay a bit crunchy. It's a nice touch!

You can either mix the chicken, quinoa, peppers and onions, and fresh chopped spinach in a corn tortilla wrap and eat like a taco, or you can pile high on a plate and eat as a stir-fry dish. My husband and I did both, one for dinner and then one for leftover lunch the next day. It was easy, and full of great flavor. It almost tastes like a shredded BBQ pork wrap or dish from the south, mixed with your favorite Asian stir-fry. Be creative. If you don't have red peppers, but you have eggplant then saute that and add in. The fresh spinach added in at the end gets wilted just a bit and it adds sweetness and freshness. Be creative and keep it simple. Enjoy!

Some Idea/Side Notes:
*When you buy a whole chicken you can use some of the meat and then freeze or save for another use. It will last you a while when you have all the meat from one chicken. 

*If cooking at home is hard for you, plan out a big meal day on the weekend or on a day off and make a big batch of quinoa, chicken, broth, veggies and then have it for the next few days a different meals or left overs. It's better that eating out, that's for sure.

*Experiment and try new things. Don't be afraid. Come out of your gluten-free hole and think about what you are truly hungry for and find a way to make it from scratch or at least with whole ingredients. 

*If you are a vegan/vegetarian, then obviously eating local meat doesn't concern what do you do to stay balanced in nutrients? 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple-Zucchini Muffins

I have to say the way to wake up in the morning is with a nice cup of tea and a fresh fruit, whole grain muffin. I love smoothies, pancakes, eggs, and more as well, but the simplicity of the fresh warm muffin with a delectable cup of tea is just the "goodmornin" I need to start a busy day. The idea for this muffin recipe comes from the bountiful amounts of apples starting to fill my kitchen. I was able to buy quite a few at the market this week, so I have a variety of sweet ones and tart ones and they are all so beautiful. Apples bring in the crisp air. Apples send the kids off to school. Apples keeps things crisp and sweet in the cooling months of autumn. I love how the fruit of the earth gives more meaning to our seasons. I don't think I would love apples as much if I had them in abundance all year long. I wait patiently all through the end of August to get to September just to see the luscious fruit dripping from the trees they grow on. I mean two months ago I was going on and on about blueberries, but now in this season they seem like old news. I love eating according to the seasons, you can find so much more excitement and joy in the simple things that grow.
The great thing about apples is that you can store them for a very long time fresh if you are able to keep them in a very cool and dry place. Because of this great benefit I am sure I will be inspired to keep the apple recipes coming, so don't think this is the end to something great. I am sure apples could if they try make there way into my recipes maybe even until Christmas... yes, they are the super fruit that lasts. So until then, let's enjoy some muffins to use up some fresh zucchini as well... prefect intro to fall.

Apple-Zucchini Muffins:
1 cup of sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of buckwheat flour
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of fresh lemon juice with 1 ts. of fresh lemon zest
1 cup of sucant (dehydrated sugar cane juice)
1/2 cup of oil (walnut, light olive, or coconut)
1 cup of non-dairy milk of choice
2 TB of ghee (clarified dairy-free butter) or just add 2 more TB of the above oil.
2 ts. of pure vanilla
2 farm fresh eggs
1/4 cup of raw local honey
1 TB of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of ground cloves
1 ts. of ground nutmeg

2 heaping cups of shredded zucchini
2 heaping cups of freshly diced apples

Mix all the dry and wet ingredients separately and then together. Mix well until all is whipped and the baking powder is starting to bubble a bit. Add in the zucchini and mix, then add the apples lastly and stir all together before scooping into the muffin tins. Fill the tins almost full because it will not bubble over, no need to worry. This recipe makes 18 large muffins, or 24 smaller sized muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes depending on your oven. Just make sure that it is cooked all the way through with a toothpic.
The best way I love to eat them is straight from the oven with a little ghee (clarified butter, dairy-free) and a cup of tea. But they also have a good shelf life if you keep them in an air tight zip-lock bag or container. Of course you could always freeze a few too to have at a later date. Enjoy this fresh fall air with a little apple-goodness. Much love to you today!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Simple Potato Salad (gluten-free, dairy-free)

It might be a little late for some homemade potato salad, but I just recently have been having a lot more potatoes available to me because they are finally in season here in Michigan. I love the local potatoes, they have more flavor and color and are not so dry and bland.  So I guess in Michigan, potato salad should be a late summer fall dish rather than a Memorial Day side dish. This salad was inspired by a local restaurant that I visit often with many great healthy choices. I truly love their potato salad and though I would try to make one on my own that I might enjoy at home. Homemade anything is always best! Look at those pretty local potatoes below... they are so wonderful.
I sometimes feel like my generation has lost the art or desire to make some of the traditional dishes at home. We go to a bulk store and buy tubs of coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans, but who knows how long is was sitting there and you would be absolutely surprised to what they really put in it. Recently I was at a family picnic and there was some potato salad that I wanted to check the packaging to see if there was any gluten in it, and there wasn't any gluten, but there was chemicals, preservatives, trans fats, dairy and the list wasn't anything pronounceable. Seriously! It's sad.... that is what really motivates me to keep making most all of my food in my own kitchen with only the best whole food ingredients. Why does eating away from your own kitchen have to be so hard? Don't ask me... but I do know that the more we encourage people to ask the deeper questions of what is in their food, the more we will see a response for what is best. It sometimes seems like you may be speaking a foreign language when you talk about vegetables and eating local, but you will not be sorry. You will find there is more nourishment, longevity, and hope for your life. Food does make a difference. It really does. Try it, I know you won't be disappointed.  So for the sake of avoiding is my homemade potato salad.

Homemade Potato Salad:
3 pounds of redskin potatoes (diced and chopped)
3/4 cup of organic mayonaise, or veganaise (egg-free mayo)
1/4 cup of organic mustard
1 cup of thinly diced sweet onion
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
1  cup of shredded carrots
1 ts. of sea salt (more or sell to taste)
1 ts. of cracked pepper
1 ts. of paprika
1 ts. of ground dried garlic

Boil the diced potatoes in a large pot of boiling water for about 20 minutes, but keep checking after 15 minutes to see if the potatoes are soft enough. I like my potatoes a little crunchy so I usually cook not too long and so that they are not sliding off the knife when I check to see if they are ready. But if you like it a little softer, then maybe wait until that point then the potatoes fall off your knife, after you stab it to check for how cooked they are. 

After the potatoes are cooked, drain them and let them completely cool in a large bowl. Then add the chopped onion, carrots, and all the above ingredients and mix well. I set it sit in the fridge for a while before serving because it helps the flavors come together and it always tastes so good cold. It's that easy. Homemade potato salad in less than an hour. 


Friday, September 18, 2009

Hazelnut Apple-Pear Crisp (vegan, gluten-free)

Vegan baking gets easier and easier the more you attempt it. I used to feel so limited, and now I am starting to feel more adventurous in the kitchen. Some of the best ways to enjoy something gluten-free and vegan is keeping it simple and enjoying pure food for what it is! Like apples... and pears. So here's a recipe to repeat this autumn season again and again.

Hazelnut Apple-Pear Crisp Recipe:
Slice up 3 apples and 3 pears on the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan or 8x8 Pyrex pan. I like using a tart apple and a sweeter pear so to have a nice flavor combo. Fill up the pan with the sliced and diced fruit and then toss with 1 TB of white rice flour, 1 TB of sucanat or some sweetener, and then 1 TB of cinnamon.

In another bowl mix... 
1 1/2 cup of ground hazelnuts (I grind whole hazelnuts in a food processor or coffee grinder) You could also use another nut of preference....almonds or pecans perhaps...
1/2 cup of sweet sorghum flour
1 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 TB of ground cinnamon 
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1 ts of vanilla
1 TB or so of a non-dairy milk, I used almond milk

Spoon mix the topping to get it to a crumble like texture and then crumble over the apples and the pears. It's that easy!
Then bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes until you can see the apples bubbling. Let cool for at east 15 minutes so that you don't burn your tongue... I know this will be hard because the smell filling your kitchen and home will make you want to devour this immediately! :) Or at least you can show off to the friends and neighbors your baking skills by the heavenly aroma. It is best served warm with a little dairy-free coconut ice cream on the side or on top. Let yourself enjoy this treat and the season of fresh apples and pears!

This is a great recipe to share with friends. Mainly because it is so easy, but it will impress them with how yummy and easy vegan baking can really be! Is your mouth watering yet? Well it should be.... Enjoy and have a great Friday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Radish Chips

This past weekend I wanted to try another vegetable that I have not tried in a while. Mainly just to see if I would like it any better than when I was a kid. This week I bought radishes from the market. Radishes.... what to do with radishes. They are zippy and tangy and full of crunchy flavor. The only thing radishes are famous for are their making of horseradish and for topping fresh salads. And I am not the biggest fan of horseradish :) But, I do actually kinda like the kicking taste of the fresh radish. I also have been reading on how radishes can help clear up congestion in your throat and sinuses, which was relevant to me since I have been struggling a bit with the harvest allergy season. So radishes it is.

Maybe if I toast them up and make some chips that will taste crunchy and yummy on a fresh spinach salad... that is just what I did. How I made the chips:
Thinly slice up 1 pound of fresh radishes and toss/brush with 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.

Toss cracked pepper, sea salt and paprika and a dash of cayenne on top of the slices.

Spread out the lightly oiled and seasoned slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven.

Either broil and watch careful for 15 minutes, or bake in a 400 degree heat for about 30 minutes.

Then let cool and make sure they are cooked enough to your desired texture.

Then you will come up with some crispy spicy chips that are light as a feather and tasty for sure!

I ate quite a few of them by themselves just to enjoy the flavor, but then added some to a fresh spinach salad to enjoy even more. So, I should probably share the recipe to this simple salad as well huh. It was so delicious on a busy day when I had a lot going on, but it was simple enough that I didn't have to do much to enjoy.

Recipe for the Spinach Salad and Honey Mustard Dressing:

Lay a bed of fresh, washed and chopped spinach on a plate

Cut thin pieces of fresh apple and lay over the salad

Add some freshly baked radish chips

And then drizzle some homemade dressing on top...


1/4 cup of grapeseed oil

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup of honey

either 2 TB of fresh mustard, or 1 TB of dried ground mustard seed

1 TB of minced onion

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Then whip it up in a food processor (double for a larger batch to feed more then 2 large salads)

Drizzle over the salad and enjoy a fresh salad without the thought of needing any cheese or bread. It will fill you up and has so much tang and flavor.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Vegan Superfood Breakfast Cookies

I have a confession...There is this one mix of trail mix that I will pay an arm and a leg for because I adore it so much. It is full of so many great ingredients though (that is how I usually justify it). The mix is the "Take a Hike" mix from the Hunza Raw Food Company. It is full of the best raw ingredients and has goji berries, hunza raisins, mulberries, raw pistachios, raw carob chips, and am I forgetting something? I don't think so.

So, recently I found myself with some of the basic ingredients in my pantry to make a mix of my own. So, I got to thinking what about a bar or cookie with all the great ingredients. So I put together a breakfast cookie that will give you lots of great energy and it's vegan too!

I actually love the taste of carob. It is bitter and not too sweet, but tends to take on a sweetness if you mix it with other sweeter ingredients like berries or agave. Carob is a rich antioxidant that was used most commonly as a medicinal food in the southern Mediterranean region for centuries. The carob beans grows in a pod that comes from a tree, and can be used in a variety of ways. The main health benefits to the bean come from its potent antioxidant count, and it mainly helps with the lungs, asthma, and energy without caffeine.

Goji berries are another ingredient that is so rich in flavor and nutrients. It is a native fruit to Asia and has been used in ancient times as both a medicine and a food. It looks something between a cherry and a cranberry, and was mostly used in making teas, soups, wines and dried like raisins to chew on. They are most common to us now from the Himalayan people whom have been studied to be some of the healthiest, longest living people on the earth. Must be because of the potent antioxidant activity in the berry that contains some of the highest concentrations of beta-carotene of any known food. In more modern times, goji berries have also been used to help reduce the cravings for sugar and increase energy, while in ancient times it was used to build strength and fertility. The berries help build better cells in your body, so it fights off auto-immune problems, cancer cells, and liver and kidney degeneration. I could go on and on with the health benefits, so if you are interested more I can send you an info sheet with more details.

So many good ingredients to nourish your body and brain. So why not eat a cookie for breakfast, right!? Well, thanks to good nourishing ingredients we can.

Breakfast Cookie Recipe:
1/3 cup of coconut flour
1/3 cup of white rice flour
1/3 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup of grapeseed oil (or coconut oil would work as well)
1/2 cup of agave nectar
 3 TB of ground flaxseed
2/3 cup of pure water
1 TB of pure vanilla
3/4 cup of crushed pistachios nuts
3/4 cup of raw carob pieces (chips)
1/3 cup of dried goji berries
1/3 cup of dried hunza golden raisins

Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and spoon out teaspoon-sized cookies on your baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes on 350 degrees (basically until they are golden brown), and then let them cool before moving. They are yummy warm because the carob melts a bit, but they also last in the pantry or fridge for over a week. They are a great pick-me-up in the morning.

Enjoy and stay energized!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dragon Tongue Beans with Green Relish

I really do not know what the other name is for these beautiful beans. I bought them from some of my favorite ladies that sell at my local Farmer's Market. They labeled them as "dragon tongue" beans. I laughed and wondered what really a dragon tongue would even taste like. But the real reason I wanted to try these beans was because they were one of the only varieties that wasn't sprayed with pesticides. And...the ladies at the stand promised I would love them.  And I did. And now I will share them with you. 
There is purple-dragon tongue for you.  They are thick and juicy with flavor. Another name I have seem a similar bean was the Romano bean, so I guess if you are looking to find a larger bean to make this recipe, any one of those would work. These beans are so easy to prepare. You don't have to do any cutting or really any snapping either. There was just the little stem on each of them that I twisted off and it was very simple and fast. 
I love beautiful food. How could you possibly want to eat something from a cardboard box and pounds of packaging if you can eat these fresh, snappy beans? Seriously, we must be crazy for abandoning the freshest of food in modernization. When you skip out on the plants for food, you miss out on a lot more than just vitamins and minerals... you loose the benefit of eating what our bodies were intended to digest and gain energy from. There is healing to be done to our cells and our organs. Chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, GMO's and all the other fake stuff added to food doesn't build cells, it only breaks down the ability to build good cells. So, this is simplifying the reason I not only eat gluten-free and dairy-free for my health, but also make the choices to stay away from as many toxins as possible. Doing that really does make a difference in how our body functions. That truth is what leads me to never stop buying beautiful vegetables, and finding new ways to eat food from the earth because that is what my body thrives on. That is why I am obsessed with beautiful food. I hope you can understand. And I hope you can find new ways to join me on eating a mostly plant based diet. 

And now a recipe...

Wash, Snap and Boil  1 pound of dragon tongue beans or Romano beans. 

These larger beans are a 6 minute boil time. It is best to immerse them in a large pot of boiling water for 6 minutes. Turn a few times in the water to make sure that all of the beans are getting their fair share of cooking time. The purple color of the beans will fade and by the time 6 minutes is up you will notice that the beans are a soft yellow green color. 

In a separate frying pan add...

2 TB of ghee (clarified dairy free butter) or live oil
1/2 chopped pistachio nuts
1 cup of very finely diced fresh parsley
1 small green Italian pepper diced (about 3/4 cup of finely diced green pepper)

Fry together for about 5 minutes, just enough for the parsley to get wilted and the peppers to get soft. The nuts will give up some flavor in the oil and viola you have some "green relish".
Toss the relish with the freshly boiled beans in a large serving bowl and add some cracked pepper and sea salt if you desire. If you serve you make have to toss some of the relish on top after mixing because it tends to like to fall to the bottom of the bowl. The flavor of all the ingredients is rich and wonderful so make sure you don't miss out on a large plateful.

It quick, easy and a great way to eat up those beans before they are gone. 

Enjoy friends!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Raw Almond Honey Bars

Need a mid day pick-me up? Almonds are the perfect nuts for the job! I have a large bag of raw almonds on my counter to say so. It's that time of year when the hustle and bustle of school and new projects are starting, and the relaxing summer breeze is ending. So why not have a little almond bar to give you the energy and power you need to be at your best! It may not be busy for you, but maybe you have been seeking out a homemade energy bar to have on hand rather than buying so many gluten-free raw bars a week. I have to confess...Lara bars have gotten a bit more boring lately. (Sorry, Lara). But really must we always depend on the store bought anyways? I think not, why not try to create something in your own kitchen to beat the afternoon blues. 

For me....almonds. Mostly because I have a bulk bag to enjoy and use up, but also because I truly enjoy the flavor and texture of the blessed nut. Almond butter, almond flour, almond oil, almond love. It is such a versatile nut with so many uses that it is hard to snub off such a generous friend. So today, we make something raw, something nutty. Oh and add the honey, sweetie!

Raw Almond Honey Bar Recipe:
1 cup of ground raw almonds
1/4 cup of ground flax seed meal
1 cup of whole raw almonds
1/2 cup of flax seeds
1 cup of raw shredded coconut 
1/3 cup of raw local honey ( if you can not tolerate honey, add agave nectar here... it works fine)
1/3 cup of any raw nut butter
1/3 cup of coconut oil, walnut oil, or olive oil

Mix all of the above together and press firmly in a 9x8 Pyrex glass pan, or a tin pan works too.

Then melt 3 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minutes and spread across the top of the whole pan. Put in the fridge to firm up for a few hours or overnight. 

Warm a smooth steel blade knife in some hot water and then use to cut the bars so that the chocolate coating does not crack all over the place. Cut 4 by 5 bars so that you will end up with 20 bars. Or cut larger or smaller depending on your intentions. These bars are great to be more bite-sized so to just have enough of it to have the right amount of sweetness and calories.

To store, layer in a Tupperware or glass container with parchment paper between layers so that the chocolate will not connect the pieces. Also, it stays together best in the fridge because it is cooler, but not really a must. Especially if you are eating them up quickly :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cherry Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

This is for my last hurrah of summer-ness. I think I will put the ice cream maker away in the higher cabinet now. I made a last batch of some cherry-vanilla goodness which turned out quite yummy. Yes, I know it is not winter yet by any means, but the cool weather that Michigan has been having has been making me feel like it is late November. But yet, I still wanted to have that last batch of ice cream. The coconut milk frozen is so creamy that you would never know you were eating a dairy-free treat. So why not add some of the frozen cherries from this summer's bounty and why not a little chocolate too...

Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe:
1 full fat can of coconut milk
3 frozen chopped bananas
1 cup of frozen pre-pitted dark sweet cherries
1 TB of pure vanilla
1 TB of agave nectar

Put all of the above ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend till thick and creamy.

Then add 1 cup or so of dark chocolate chips (allergen-free friendly) or dark chocolate bar shavings and some more diced frozen cherries, about 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on what you desire.

Mix it all up and then pour into your ice cream maker to process for 20 minutes or so.

If you don't have a ice cream maker and you want to make this treat that is fine. Put it in a glass or steel bowl and put in the freezer for an hour or so and then when you pull it out you will have a more solid bowl of ice cream that you can spoon out with a traditional ice cream scooper. Add some fresh chocolate shavings on top and enjoy!

Here is a picture of my ice cream maker doing it's job. I did lick the spoon and the had to taste try a few times before serving of course. If you love cherries, and if you love chocolate, you are going to LOVE this treat.

I hope you find ways to savor the last bits of summer and enjoy what the coming fall months will bring... apples, pumpkins and more... OH my! I can't wait!

Have a beautiful day! Much love to you!