Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coconut Almond Granola Cereal

Having one of those days? Tired, overwhelmed... Looking for a pick me up snack, or maybe a bowl of cereal for comfort? I know that's how I feel. I used to love cereal as a kid. If my mom would let me, I probably would eat cereal all day. And not anything healthy either...more like marshmallow cereal, or fruity something with a bunch of dyes and sugar. Oh to be a kid and have no concept of how sugar affects your body! Now, I crave a good amount of protein and hearty whole grains when I am searching for a cereal pick-me-up. And I could buy a gluten-free box of whole grain cereal for over 5 dollars at the store, but then again, that seems like a luxury sort of buy. So, why not make something yummy to add to a 2-3 dollar box of gluten-free plain cereal to get an added boost of protein and flavor. Or, if you are like me...enjoy your homemade cereal like it has been made to fit into the 5 dollar box.

This may seem like a repetitive recipe, but it is something new that I have been enjoying all week. It is pretty similar to any granola recipe, but because of the liquid coconut oil and agave nectar the oats soak up the good moisture and then when they bake turn into a nice crunchy, not really chewy cereal that is perfect for pouring milk on. And the almonds add the perfect crunchy bite that will have you searching for them at the bottom of your bowl. Almonds are no marshmallow surprise in your cereal, but you are a grown-up... you better have an upgrade from the special charm of a marshmallow. It will hit the spot too! Leave you feeling nourished and full for hours. Almonds and coconut have that kind of affect on your appetite and metabolism. They fill you up where you need to be sustained. Some almond experts even say that if you eat 7 almonds (at a time, or a day) that will suppress your appetite as needed and so you eat less and loose more calories in the process. And don't get me started with coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a saturated fat oil. It has many healing properties for external and internal use. Many women especially could benefit from the good essential fats that may help regulate hormones and make the body's natural rhythms run more smooth. There's always all this hype about fat and how it is bad for you, but in reality we do need a certain percentage of healthy fats in our bodies for them to think, run smoothly and have energy. Coconut oil and fat is one of those non-dairy kind of fats that you can count on for health. Yes, it may seem scary to you to eat the dreaded saturated fats, but I would challenge you to dig deeper into the healing benefits of the beloved oil. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and has been shown to help people actually loose weight because of the medium-chain-fatty-acids found in it's make up. It has been found to be beneficial also to digestive healing and metabolism boosting, and overall a benefit to heart and immune health because of the high doses of anti-oxidants and microbial properties. If you want to read more about the oil, check out the highlighted sentences to lead your to some linked articles with more info.
So, with all of that said about healthy coconut oil and how adding more almonds to your diet is never a bad thing, I share this very easy and simple recipe with you to boost your love for a granola/cereal snack. So, friends, here we go:

Coconut Almond Granola Cereal Recipe
3 heaping cups of gluten-free rolled oats
2 cups of raw almonds (or pieces would work too)
2 cups of raw coconut flakes
1/2 cup of raw agave nectar
1/2 cup of extra virgin organic coconut oil
1 TB of pure vanilla
1 TB of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of sea salt

Mix all of these simple ingredients together well, and then pour out on a 11x14 baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until it turns golden brown, then pull form the oven and stir with a wooden spoon to unearth the bottoms of the cereal, then add back tot he oven for another 10-15 minutes. Make sure to watch closely to not burn or get too brown. Every oven is different with moisture levels, so just make sure to keep an eye on it. When it is a nicely tossed all over golden brown, pull from the oven and let cool for one hour before moving into a container. You could let this cool for hours and hours if you want to get it even crunchier, but after an hour or so it is cool enough to bag. Break it up with a spoon or utensil so that has a nice tossed texture and is easily added to other cereals, or can be a perfect bowl of cereal or topped over ice cream or yogurt. Note: The amounts of all the ingredients in this simple cereal could easily be adjusted to your liking. I kept all dried fruit out of it to make a sure cereal without added fruit moisture.


There, wasn't that the simplest recipe ever. It turns out so good, I promise. And a perfect addition to any snack of yogurt, ice cream or bowl of cereal. I hope you enjoy and keep it simple today. Remember eating healthy with a busy lifestyle means keeping it simple with real foods and just having a plan in place so that you are not running to the vending machine at 3pm for a coke and candy bar. Take care of that body of yours, it's worth it! You are worth it!

Much love to you today!

xoxo

Stephanie

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crusty Gluten-Free French Bread

This is the promised bread recipe I made with my Red Lentil Soup the other day. I was inspired by Shauna at the Gluten-Free Girl blog, and her crusty boule bread recipe. I made a few adjustments to some of the ingredients. It was really easy, just took a few hours to make because of the yeast rising process. I have not made a yeast bread in a very long time. It was actually quite fun and reminded me of making yeasted home grown pizza dough as a kid. Oh those were the days...

I think a good bread recipe like this is one to have up your gluten-free-sleeve. It sometimes seems impossible to find a good soup or salad bread from a store for the gluten-free. I have had no luck where I live at least, so I am led to experiment and make a loaf of my own. I was pleasantly surprised how this loaf turned out and decided that it wasn't all that bad to be gluten-free :) I know, I sometimes have to convince myself of that in certain food situations. I have been doing this diet for almost 4 years now and it seems very natural, until I find myself at a traditional Italian restaurant or pizza parlor and I am reminded of my restricted diet. If you are like me, you settle for making the gourmet gluten-free Italian meal at home or in some cases find a gluten-free restaurant that has a fabulous menu that you can splurge on only for special occasions. And that is why this bread is so important. You can make it for a very fair price and share it with any Italian meal, soup or stew and you will not be disappointed or wishing for the real thing. OK, I can't promise you won't be wishing for the real thing, but it is a darn good substitute. And, who doesn't like the smell of home baked bread in their kitchen?!
I sliced the pieces pretty thick here, but you can really probably get a good 20 pieces out of this loaf. I also wrapped up the loaf in some parchment and rosemary as it was cooling to add a little aroma and flavor to the crust. It turned out beautifully! I shared this loaf also with friends along with my red lentil soup and it was tasted and enjoyed (which made me feel even more normal).
Crusty French Recipe
1 1/3 cup of warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 packet of active dry yeast

3 TB of honey
3 TB of olive oil
2 whipped eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
3/4 cup of sorghum flour
1 1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1 TB of xanthan gum
1 1/2 ts of sea salt

Instructions:
In a large glass measuring container or bowl, pour the warm water (use a water/meat thermometer to test the warm water at 110- 115 for perfect water temp for dissolving yeast). So you measure and test the water and then pour the yeast packet and mix with a spoon and let sit and dissolve for around 5 minutes. In the meantime, in a large mixing bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together will with a whisk. Then in a smaller bowl mix all the other wet ingredients minus the water and yeast and have that ready for mixing. After 5 minutes, dig a hole in your dry mixtures and pour in the water and yeast, then pour in the other wet ingredients and mix well with a spatula. Mix until all the parts are together but be careful to not over mix and make the batter tougher than it needs to be. Use tapioca flour if you need a little more flour on top to mix with your hands. Roll/spoon into a ball in the bowl and drip a little more olive oil around the base.

Then cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit and rise for 2 hours in a warm place. A good warm place may be sitting on the stove top if you have the oven on, or wherever it is warmest in your kitchen. Let rise for 2 hours so that it is doubled in size. Then pull out of bowl, dust with more tapioca flour or oil and roll into ONE oblong loaf on a large baking sheet, dusted with flour if you prefer. Once you have a nice tight bread roll, then you can use a serrated knife and cut a design on the top. Then cover with the clean kitchen towel again and let rise for another 45 minutes on the stove.

After rising again, put in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Bake until the crust is a golden brown and the loaf makes a hollow sons when you tap it with a knife. Pull from the oven and let rest and cool for at least 3 minutes before cutting into it. Serve fresh with some olive oil and herbs, or as your favorite dipping utensil.
Like I said, I made this to pair with a hearty lentil soup and even after sharing with friends had leftovers for the next two days. It was a wonderful way to celebrate the coming of fall in these cooler parts and I have to say... it feels nice to have a slice of dipping bread with soup. Almost surreal.

Hope you have a happy weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Much love to you!

xoxo

Stephanie

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Italian Red Lentil Noodle Soup

It's soup season again. Happy first day of Autumn! I have been looking forward to fall for more than a few reasons.... cooler weather, squash, applesauce, and of course the birth of my baby (10 days till d-day now). But today, I'm just thinking about how a bowl of some yummy soup would really kick the season off right.

Well, maybe not today because we are having a heat wave for a day at 83 degrees, but last weekend when I made this soup for a group of close friends it was the perfect meal to share together to stay warm on a cool almost-fall night. There is something very comforting about a hearty bowl of soup with some fresh bread. Yes, I said bread. I really did make a crusty loaf of gluten-free bread to pair with this lovely soup... I will have to share that recipe next because it really turned out wonderfully.

Red lentils are one of my favorite forms of a "legume" because they are so easy to use. You can cook them for under 30 minutes from the dry form and you have them ready to eat. Which is perfect for busy people, but you are not compromising on nutrition goodness. If you are new to using legumes from the dry form, I would definitely recommend using the red lentil to start out. It is easy and has always turned out yummy in so many recipes. I have made red lentil tacos, and red lentil burgers, and now this is one of my favorite ways to use red lentils in soup. It makes a thick and almost creamy broth and of course you are getting a wonderful dose of protein and fiber without having to indulge in any dairy or meat. So a vegan's favorite for sure, but really, a great soup for all lovers of a hearty bowl of goodness.

Italian Red lentil Noodle Soup Recipe
2-3 TB of olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large yellow onion finely chopped
1 heaping cup of finely chopped celery
2 cups of chopped carrot pieces
2 cups of chopped parsnips pieces
4 cups of vegetable broth
4 cups of pure water
1 1/2 cups of dried red lentils
1 14.5 ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juices
handful of each fresh herb: basil, thyme, sage
1/2 cup of brown rice pasta (broken up spaghetti noodles, or any size or shape you desire)
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1 cup of fresh chopped spinach or kale leaves

In a large pot, saute the onions, garlic, and celery with the olive oil for a few minutes until they are soft and almost translucent. Then add the carrots, parsnips, and the broth, and water. Bring up to a boil and then add the lentils, and roasted tomatoes. Once it cooks at a boil for 5-10 minutes, turn down to a medium heat and cook for another 20-30 minutes. You will notice the lentils breaking down and becoming a part of the broth. Then add the pasta in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to cook the pasta, then add the fresh herbs, parsley and spinach to wilt in the last minutes. You will know the soup is ready for eating when the pasta is cooked and the herbs and spinach is well cooked and blended. Serve warm from the pot, or share with friends, or save for a few days to come. This soup also freezes very well if you want to save it for a future meal. If you want to add dairy and top the soup with some Parmesan cheese, or serve with crackers or bread to add more crunch.
I made this crusty gluten-free french type bread to pair with the hearty soup and it turned out better than I thought it would.... So start drooling now, and I will share the recipe in my next post. I hope you try this soup out soon and enjoy.

Have a beautiful first-day-of-fall! Much love to you!

xoxo

Stephanie

Friday, September 17, 2010

Molasses Applesauce Tea Bread

Fall is in the air. At least here in Michigan. I have on my farmer's market grocery list: apples, squash and pumpkins...so it must be fall. :) There is something about the scents, colors, and even cooler weather that makes this season a little bit magical. The leaves haven't really changed yet, but there are signs of the little pops of yellow and orange here and there. And, with anticipation we wait. Waiting to experience the changes. How is it the we dread and desire change at the same time, and then with the season we have no choice, it starts to change before our eyes... and then all of a sudden, it is here. Fall has arrived and we have the choice to embrace it and take part in the magic.

Focusing on the seasonal foods this time of year will not leave you disappointed. The soups, stews, and pies you can make with the fall harvest are some of the best of the year. I made over a dozen quarts of applesauce last fall, and I would hope to do that again this year yet I still needed to use up some applesauce from last season, and that is how this tea bread evolved. I was craving from ginger-molasses cookies, and decided, why not make a "bread" and enjoy it with some hot tea. There is something about the flavors of fall that get to people. I have friends in the south parts of the country that are still in the 80's and 90's even in temperature, but they are headed to Starbucks to get a pumpkin spice latte just to feel like they are participating in the magic of fall. I couldn't agree more. Fall scents and flavors warm the soul, and so, that is why applesauce and molasses have taken hold of my heart.

So here is a little creation to get you more and more rooted in the season of fall. Enjoy it for all that it is worth, because as in how life keeps moving on, it will be snowing before you know it.
Molasses Applesauce Tea Bread Recipe
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of sorghum flour
1/2 cup of buckwheat flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1 cup of sucanat ( or other powdered sweetener)
1 1/2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of ground nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
1 1/2 ts. of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of xanthan gum

1 TB of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 TB of coconut milk beverage, or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup of applesauce
1/3 cup of light olive oil
1/3 cup of black strap molasses
2 farm fresh local eggs


Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then start to add the wet ingredients and mix well all together. Pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan, or in a funnel pan (what I used). This recipe is very simple, and will have your kitchen smelling like fall in no time at all. All those spices and apples will start to mix together and you will be ready to partake well before it is fully baked. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes depending on what pan and altitude you are at. Keep checking after 40 minutes to make sure you do not burn. Let it cool a few minutes before cutting, and then enjoy. This bread is very moist so you will find yourself wanting to eat it all in a few days. Gluten and dairy free will seem normal the more and more you find little ways to bake and create without the stress. Enjoy!

I hope you find inspiration and love as fall quickly approaches. Much love to you!

xoxo

Stephanie

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zucchini Bread (Take 2)

Call it nesting, call it being prepared, but the other day I spent the afternoon making 6 batches of homemade zucchini bread and muffins to freeze. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but really it was the perfect thing to be doing while waiting for my baby to come. Baking is one of my favorite things to do. Well, maybe I should say, making a mess in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do :) But really, I thought what better way to take advantage of some extra time I have now and stock up some zucchini bread in the freezer.
I made a zucchini bread recipe last year about this time with the use of buckwheat flour, which is one of my favorite gluten-free flours with lots of helpful minerals, vitamins and whole grain benefits. This year I was thinking of creating something a little lighter in color and in oils. So, I went with sorghum flour as the main ingredient and added some applesauce to sweeten, moisten and make things stick together. I love both recipes, but this one really was exactly what I was looking for in a fresh bread this time of year. Not to mention that you can buy zucchini right now, like 3 for a dollar. Not just small, wimpy, zucchini, but the huge, as-big-as-your arm zucchini. I have not been able to grow any of my own yet, but I can buy 3 large ones for a dollars at the farmer's market and that kind of quantity could really make like 12 loaves of zucchini bread if you wanted. There is never any shame in buying from my local farmer. This time of year I am always overwhelmed with wanting to buy loads of tomatoes, zucchini, and cukes for a fair price. I try to make use of the beautiful bounty with preserving and baking of course... so on to my new favorite indulgence...zucchini bread.
Zucchini Bread/Muffin Recipe
1 1/2 cup of sorghum flour
1 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of tapioca flour
1 1/2 cup of sucanat
1 TB. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1 1/2 ts. of xanthan gum

2 ts. of fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup of coconut oil, or light olive oil
2 farm fresh eggs
3 heaping cups of grated zucchini

optional additions: 1/3 cup of cacao powder, or 1/2 cup of allergen-free chocolate chips

Mix all the dry ingredients together first in a large mixing bowl, then add the wet ingredients and mix well. Lastly add the heaping 3 cups of grated zucchini. The way I grate zucchini is on a cheese grater over a plate and it usually takes about 1 large zucchini to get about 3 heaping cups. Use the juices and all the grated parts. Mix all together and it is ready for putting in pans.

Some baking options:
This recipe will make either 24 muffin cups, or 2 loaf pans. You could also use 2 8x8 pans for this recipe, or even 1 9x13 pan. It makes a beautiful cake, bread, and muffin, so use for what you desire most. The muffins should be baked at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, the bread loaves should be baked at around 35-40 minutes, and a cake in a 9x13 should be around 30-40 minutes. Just check on it and pull from the oven when it is a golden brown color and after tested with a pick comes out clean with nothing gooey. The best baking temp is at 350 degrees. After pulled from the oven, make sure you cool for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting into. And, let it be fully cooled before bagging up to freeze for best results.
Other option:
If you only want to make one loaf, then half this recipe and make just one loaf or 12 muffins.
Here is a little snack to get me through the rest of the afternoon. Which is my other reason and love for baking...you gotta make sure what you are making is worthy of eating and sharing of course. The texture and moisture is perfect, and it doesn't hurt to be getting your serving of vegetables in a treat as well. Yum...
Here is a little peek into my growing bounty of bread/cake/muffins that I am going to wrap up and freeze. So in a few months when I am looking for an easy baked good option or breakfast, then I will pull out one of my favorite treats from the freezer...it's just that simple. I hope you try these out and enjoy... and once you find how easy it is you may be making extra loaves to freeze as well.

Much love to you today!

xoxo

Stephanie