Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hearty Trail Muffins

This recipe is probably one of my first "created" recipes. It all started a few years ago when I was working at a whole wheat bakery. It was the real kind of whole wheat bakery that everything made was from scratch and with some of the best ingredients, and we even milled our own wheat berries into flour. I started working at this bread bakery at age 15 and all through high school and college. It was all about making the best whole grain breads, and really was a fun, energetic and creative place to work. I loved it. Good, right?! Well, yeah, until I found out that I had a problem with gluten. And now, I think working around the wheat really prompted me to realize I was even having food allergy issues in the first place. Working at a bakery is really my dream job and loved the many years I was able to work with some great people. (Someday I hope to have a gluten-free bakery of my own that is just as fun!)

When I found out I couldn't eat gluten and was surrounded by bread all day, now that was when I really learned about self-control. It seems impossible. Some of our customers would come in and ask what was my favorite bread...I would honestly tell them what was my favorite (since I knew all of them by heart anyways). After a while it started to become torture. So because I selfishly wanted to find a snack in the bakery I could eat (and sell), I started inventing this muffin. With the blessing from my boss, I created a granola minus the oats type of energy bar, which ended up turning into a muffin. So, this recipe comes from a place a few years back when I first starting creating gluten-free goodies for the special people like myself. Some of the ingredients have changed, but it is still the same idea. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever ingredients you have around... if you have only craisins, then use that instead of raisins... you can substitute for what you have available.

Hearty Trail Muffins Recipe

1 cup of shredded coconut flakes
1 cup of whole or sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of millet seeds
1/2 cup of whole flax seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup of raw honey or agave
1 cup of sunflower or peanut butter
1 ts of cinnamon
1/2 ts. of cloves
1/2 ts. of nutmeg
Mix all of the raw ingredients in large mixing bowl. I like doing this part with my bare hands to really get everything mixed together well. It will be a sticky mess, but it is also kinda fun. Once you have it all mixed, you can wash your hands and get a clean start at rolling hand-sized balls to fit muffin paper cups. I used the smaller muffin cups and let them sit in a 9x13 tin pan, or you can 3/4 way fill a regular muffin tin. This recipe will make about 20-24 muffins depending on the size you create. You will needs to squeeze the balls together a bit to have all the pieces and wet ingredients stick together to form the mold of the muffin. I made these originally in the muffin tins so that I could confirm that they were not baking in a gluten-filled tin from the bakery. But now that I'm thinking about it, you could try and press this batter down in a 9x13 without the muffin cups and make bars after you press and cut them in the pan. I would cut them before you bake so that you have less crumbs in the end. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Until they are golden brown.
These are a crunchy hearty way to snack that's for sure. A good treat to bring with you camping, biking, or hiking. They are full of protein and fiber so they will sustain you for hours. I recommend them since they store so well. I have a friend that is going on a week long volunteer trip soon and she has no idea what kind of food is going to be available for a gluten-free person, so something like this would be easy to pack and have with you in case you needed to find some nourishment other than at fast food joints and gas stations.

I hope you have a good day and find time for peace and creativity!

Much love to you!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Almond Quinoa Cabbage Rolls

This recipe comes from a place of finding something to do with what I had left in the fridge and pantry. It seems my bulk supply of quinoa is always sticking around... and then what was left fresh was cabbage, carrots, onion and a lemon. So... with those ingredients, and some staples like wheat-free tamari sauce and red pepper paste, and my favorite almond butter...I came up with a little snack to meet my taste buds perfectly.

You really got to get creative when you have a limited diet with restrictions. That doesn't mean you have to eat rice cakes and apples all day. (That is if you can even eat apples and rice cakes all day without getting sick). Although, I have done that too my friend. Seriously, what do you love about food? What do you miss? What are your comfort foods? These are some of the questions I ponder while creating or inventing a recipe. Not really that hard if you know what you want and know what you can eat and then making something up that will meet all of your taste buds and senses. Ultimately our bodies will feel full, satisfied and healthier if we are meeting those needs. That mean you might need to have something a little sweet, salty, bitter and pungent on your plate. Think of these tastes in regards to real plant food, not like sugar, salty chips, and slurpies, but more like sweet potatoes, greens, lemons and tamari sauce. The more you are satisfying your tastes, the more you will not be craving something afterwards. Or at least think of better substitutes for what you are craving and go for the plants over anything. You will be surprised how plants and grains really have powerful tastes and fulfillment.

Ultimately, my friends, food has the power to make you sick or healthy. This could also mean that searching for healthy foods or sticking to a strict diet could lead to a stressful and angry life. Which in turn makes you more sick. I propose to make eating fun again. I rally for eating fresh and happy foods that will make you healthy and happy as well. This means you have to look positively on a "restricted" diet. Or perhaps you need to start looking at your diet with fresh eyes. That you in fact are NOT restricted, but blessed to be able to eat real, fresh and healthy foods instead of the plastic, fake and cloned food crap! Sometimes when I am out with friends, I remind them that I can't really just order a $5 sub or pizza with them, and then those words that they usually describe me after that, "Oh yeah, you are special, I forgot." Well, yes, my friends, I am special. I think it is special to have a body that triggers me to eat real food. This is really a gift! I will react if I put toxic crap in my body, and for that I am thankful! So, for all my friends that haven't found the joy of this journey yet...Keep finding new ways and foods that make you body happy, and I bet in no time at all you will find that there is peace, joy, and love in a nourished life.

Now to a recipe...Inspired for the craving of some fresh spring rolls...

Quinoa Almond Pilaf Recipe
1 small yellow onion
4 garlic cloves
1 TB of olive oil
1 cup of dry quinoa
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of crushed raw almonds
1/4 cup of raisins

In a 4 quart pot, saute olive oil with chopped onion and minced garlic. Saute for a few minutes and then add 2 cups of pure water and a cup of dried quinoa. Stir all together and let the water come to a boil. Once it is boiling turn the heat down and let the quinoa cook for about 15-20 minutes. Once all of the water is gone and the quinoa can be fluffed, turn the heat on low and add the crushed almonds and raisins and tamari. Stir well together and let cook for one more minute together. Then let sit and cool and the flavors meld.
This sauce is a peanut-free version of like a sweet and spicy peanut dipping sauce. You could use peanut butter if you wanted too... I used almond butter because it is what I had and to also be allergen-free friendly.

Sweet and Spicy Almond Sauce:
1 TB of fresh lemon or lime juice
1 TB of agave nectar
1 ts. of red pepper paste (I used Thai Kitchen's brand)
1 TB of almond butter

In a small bowl, whip up the above ingredients to create a sauce for dipping and drizzling over the quinoa cabbage rolls.

Then finally when the quinoa pilaf has cooled just a bit...Spoon a large dollup of the quinoa in freshly peeled and washed cabbage leaves. Either green cabbage leaves, or napa cabbage leaves. Some other toppings would include, pealed carrot pieces, or more cabbage, lettuce, or cucumber. Sprouts made be a good topping as well. Roll the quinoa, toppings and sauce in the cabbage, get a handle on it and then start chowing down. It is a nice little appetizer, or snack, or even lunch or dinner. The quinoa is delicious on it's own, but when you add some fresh cabbage and a tangy sauce you will be in heaven! Be creative and I hope you enjoy!

I hope you find peace and joy today with fresh foods and a life of real food. You are blessed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mango Cobbler with Coconut Cream Ice Cream (vegan)

Just look at that warm, delicious comfort all in one. And, it's vegan. Don't tell your friends :) Unless they are the kind of friends that are crazy in love with whole nutritious foods and eating for the love of your body and soul. Then well, maybe you can share your little secret because they will be wondering what is in that goodness?! And when they can make it next?! It's true. It's that good and wonderful, no exaggerations here. Just the good to honest truth, my friends. So I suggest you start searching for the perfectly ripe and ready mangoes now, just stop reading and run to the store, and then we can carry on with the recipe that will change your life.
Well, now that you are ready for this, I will share. The beauty is that it is truly simple. Not too many ingredients and not anything that you will regret adding to your life. Just wonderful almonds, mangoes, and coconut... really this is the kind of recipe that you serve as desert one night, but eat for breakfast the next morning ;) I'm just saying that for your added personal benefits. And, if you can make it stick around for seconds, it's a very versatile meal. Ok, hopefully you know that your meals consist more than this dish, but in all seriousness, this desert will feed your nutritious needs and will have you dreaming for more while you sleep.
Ok, so the creation starts with the mangoes. Make sure you slice and dice ripe mangoes that are a bit squishy to touch, and that when you cut into them will give you a little extra juice to spare. Ripe mangoes will let you peal them as well. Cut into one side and then pull on the skin and it will peal to the other end. Try it, it is really easy. Then cut vertically and horizontally and then cut to the seed. You will end up with about a cut of sliced and diced mango. Get all of the mango meat you can from the seed and then squeeze the seed to get off any extra juices or straggling flavor. This recipe calls for 5 cuts of cut mangoes, or 5 fresh and ripe mangoes. Here's the rest of the secret recipe you will need to make this...

Mango Cobbler Recipe
5 cups (5 mangoes) diced, sliced and juiced
3 TB of agave nectar (or maple syrup or honey would work too)
2 TB of tapioca flour
1/4 cup of lemon juice, or 1 freshly squeezed lemon
1 ts. ground cinnamon
1 ts. ground nutmeg
1/4 ts. of ground cardamon
Mix the filling all together in a 9x13 baking pan. Just dump the rest of the ingredients on the mangoes, and then thoroughly mix it all together with clean hands. Get all those spices and flavors mixed well and then make the topping...

2 cups of ground almond meal (use 2 cups of raw almonds and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder to end up with a nicely ground meal of almonds)
1/2 cup of sweet rice flour
1/2 cup of sucanat (unrefined cane juice powder) or 1/3 cup of agave nectar will work too...
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of melted unrefined coconut oil
optional: 1 ts. of pure vanilla

Mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl and then pour the crumbly mixture over the mangoes filling in the 9x13 pan. You may need to pat down the topping a bit to make sure you got in all together and ready for baking.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. And when you see the bubbling filling coming over the crispy golden topping. Pull from the oven, let it cool 15-20 minutes and then serve perfectly warm. If you want to bake a head of time and then warm to serve to friends later. Warm in a 200 degree oven for 15 minutes and then serve.

It is as easy as:

Coconut Cream Ice Cream
3 frozen banana chunks
1 can coconut milk
2 TB of agave nectar
1 ts. of vanilla

The above ingredients could easily be doubled to serve more than 2-3 people. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and make sure it is whipped up good. Then pour into an ice cream maker and churn for 30-60 minutes until it is scoop-able. Or if you do not have an ice cream maker, then pour the mixture into a stainless steal or glass bowl and put in the freezer for 60-120 minutes until it has firmed up and you can use a regular ice cream scooper to get a solid ball of ice cream to top your favorite dessert. Or if you were just making it to eat it all, this is when you would want to grab a spoon and go for it.

But back to the mango cobbler...scoop a spoonful of cobbler and a spoonful of coconut cream and let it sit a second, and then enjoy! You will have to refrain from licking the plate with company. You will want to share this one with friends because there is danger you might eat the whole dish. I suggest you share with your favorite friends and then you can all lick the pan.
There is a moment of pure bliss with this one, so I hope you try it and enjoy! And don't give up on eating healthy just because you cannot enjoy good deserts. That is simply just not true after this one. I have a friend on the last stages of a detox elimination diet and she was even able to indulge with the rest of my friends. All good ingredients. So, don't take it from me, try it and love it.

I hope you find rest and peace this beautiful spring weekend.
(Even though we do have a little snow on the ground here in Michigan, I am sure sun and growing lillies is just around the corner).

Much love to you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

I'm Irish. I really am. I remember every year how my grandma who is the Irish matriarch on my dad's side says St. Pat's Day is her special day. She is always decked out in all green, with plenty of "Kiss Me I'm Irish" jokes and lovin'. I really don't know that much about the Irish traditions, or really know the importance to Saint Pat himself, but I do think that March 17th is a fun day to celebrate whatever your saint patrick's day tradition is. And besides, you got to have a "holiday" in the early spring just to get through to the warmer weather. Not to mention the green beer of course, not that I am drinking any, being gluten-free and all. I just think it is funny. I remember being a kid growing up in Chicago, and being a bit confused at an early age about the green beer and if that was what was making the Chicago River turn green as well. I'm here to tell you that the river is NOT drinkable...

I'm just going to say...I really like this soda bread. It is a simple, no-yeast bread that is great to have with jam and tea because it is not too sweet at all and it's so easy. The funny thing is that the baking powder is really the ingredient that helps with most of the rising, along with the "cultured-coconut milk" which acts more like a buttermilk type of ingredient. It really rises and turns into a hearty "loaf" of bread. So, whether you are Irish or not doesn't really matter, but if you are looking for a yummy tea bread to warm up your life, then I would say try this today. It is festive too, so why not right?

I hope you try it out and enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread Recipe
(Inspired by Karina at, with a few twists of my own)

1 cup of sorghum flour
1/4 cup of sweet rice flour
1/4 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of potato starch
3 TB of sucanat (unrefined cane juice dehydrated)
1 ts. of baking soda
2 ts of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. of xanthan gum
2/3 cup of coconut milk
1/4 cup of hot water
1 lemon juiced in the milk to let it culture for a few minutes
1 ts. of fresh lemon zest
1 farm fresh egg
2 TB of raw honey
3 TB of Spectrum Organic Shortening
1/2 cup of large California raisins

1 egg-white water wash over the pre-cooked, pre-cut loaf.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together, and then add the cultured milk and egg, and finally fold in the organic palm oil shortening to have a solid bread batter. Pour into a well greased 8 inch pie glass pan. Brush an egg-wash and water mix over the top of the batter. Pat the bread smooth in the pan, and then take a sharp knife and cut a cross on the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The bread should be golden and crusty on the top and fluffier in the middle. Make sure it is baked all the way through and enjoy warm from the oven!

Much love and peace to you today!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thai Tamari Vegetable Stir-fry

Spring is in the air. I can feel it even though it probably is still a few weeks off. The sun has been shining for a few days straight and the snow is starting to make it's way to the sewer. So, you can imagine the hysteria in Grand Rapids. People are out running again and walking for fun. There has been "leg" sightings. People, it is like 47 degrees! I know we are a bit crazy after cabin fever. So, I don't blame you, it's understandable. I am looking forward to the coming season, and keeping it real today with a hearty veggie stir-fry with lots of flavor and love.

To start out a good gluten-free stir-fry you will of course need your most beloved ingredient. Brown rice. First though, I would suggest you soak the dry grains to release the phytic acid and allow the grains to break down and be easier to digest, not to mention allowing you to absorbs the great nutrients found in brown rice. So to soak, put 1-2 cups of rice (I used short grain brown this time around), put the dry rice in a large glass bowl or a 4 cup pyrex measuring container. Soak for 4-8 hours, or overnight. Then drain, rinse and rinse again until the water is clear. Then dump the soaked grains in the pot with the correct amount of water (2 cups water for 1 cup rice). The cooking time seems to go faster for soaked brown rice because it already has broken down a bit. So cooking time is more around 20 minutes. I make a big pot of rice sometimes at the beginning of the week, and then I am able to add the rice to stir-fry's, porridge, salads, and wherever.
So, I soaked, rinse, cooked and stored my brown rice, and than when I wanted to whip up this stir fry last minute with some left over veggies, and a little bit of seasoning, it is no big task at all. So here we go...

Thai Tamari Vegetable Stir-Fry
2 cups finely chopped green cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup or so of chopped and lightly steamed broccoli
4 cloves of thinly minced garlic
2 TB of sesame oil (olive oil could work too)
2 TB of sesame seeds
optional ingredients:
a few dashes of Thai fish sauce
a farm fresh egg

In a large sauce pan or wok, start sauteing the garlic cloves in the oil for a few minutes. Add the tamari sauce and the red pepper paste to create a sauce and then quickly add all of the veggies to saute in the sauce for a few minutes. Lastly add the pre-cooked brown rice and really mix everything together well. You can leave it and really let it fry and brown and soak the flavors. Then stir and after a few minutes you will see that it is ready to serve. And optionally ingredient is a farm fresh egg. You can have a more "traditional" fried rice with the egg added, but if you are trying to keep this recipe vegan, just omit it. The egg adds some protein and added flavor, but it is just as good without. If you add an egg, clear a space in the pan/wok to crack the egg next to the stir fry. Let the egg cook and then whip it up to let the yoke break down. Then after it is mostly cooked you can stir it into the rest of the rice mixture and then let it continue to cook in the stir fry for another few minutes. Make sure all of the egg is cooked before you remove from the heat and serve! Then, serve it up on a nice platter and enjoy!