Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tomato Lentil Soup

It's spring and it's cold. I guess it's time for another pot of soup. Yes... it does sound good. Spring is coming, just slowly this year... I can see the crocuses popping up and the tulip leaves are getting green, but still it seems like the true warmth of spring and bud-popping may be a few days or weeks off. So I decided a pot of warm soup is in order. As you all know, lentils are my favorite legume. I love how simple and quick they are to cook, and their flavor is mild yet fulfilling. So, lentils it is, with some tomatoes and veggies of course.

When I feel a tad off or yucky I always want a nice big bowl of warm soup. It is a touch of comfort, but I also think the soup has a way of getting some simple nutrients into my body without a lot of trouble. I am tempted to just eat something that would be comforting in another way with maybe more sugars, carbs or simplicity, but then I think about what my body really wants...vegetables and protein. I get myself together and start chopping an onion, garlic and carrots. Celery adds some goodness and perhaps some greens or herbs if I have them fresh. So, it doesn't have to be that hard. I just need to get over myself and make it happen.

Here is the soup I made the other day to get over that yucky hump...

Tomato Lentil Soup
2 TB of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of chopped carrots
1/2 cup or so of chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup or so of chopped fresh greens (optional)
1 TB of Italian seasoning blend of herbs
2 ts. of paprika
2 ts. of ground cumin
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of black pepper
8 cups of broth/stock
2 cups of water (optional: if you need to thin it out in the end)
1 cup of red lentils
1 cup of yellow mung dahl lentils (or more red if you don't have these on hand)
28 ounces of organic crushed tomatoes

Optional add in's:
organic chicken or turkey sausage
fresh lemon and herbs for serving
pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes for a kick

Saute the onion, veggies and garlic in the olive oil until a tad soft, then add the stock/water, spices and lentils. Lastly, add the tomatoes and fresh herbs and greens. Cook on high for 20 minutes and then on low covered with lid for another 15-20 minutes. You will know this soup is done and ready to eat when the lentils are soft and broken down into the broth. This may turn into a mushy stew the next day, but just add a touch more stock and it will be soup again. This makes a nice pot of soup, to feed 8-12 people, so you may want to freeze, share or cut the recipe in half.

Add a nice biscuit, cornbread or green salad and you have a meal, of course, this is a meal by itself as well.

Enjoy, and stay warm as we turn our hearts to coming spring.

Much love!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spinach Almond Quinoa with Berries

How about a fresh quinoa dish to start the week out right?! I think so. I would say that this is to help bring spring to Michigan as well, but that doesn't seem to be happening too quickly, or perhaps anytime soon. 18 degrees today with the windchill is COLD, especially for it almost being April.

I have been making this quinoa dish for a while and truly enjoy it and thought I should probably share this with you already. It would be so rude of me to only keep this to myself :)

If you are new to gluten-free you may be new to is actually a seed. Not technically a grain, but is still considered a whole grain... weird. It is amino-acid rich protein which means that is has the same make-up of eating 'meat' protein and so if you are a vegan/vegetarian, it is a very helpful protein to help stay balanced and nourished. Some consider a super-food-grain because of it's high protein components. It is highest in manganese, but also has high amounts of iron, calcium and magnesium. It is said to improve cardiovascular health and prevent female health issues with breast cancer and hormones. So ladies, if you haven't made quinoa a apart of your diet, then consider this your wake up call to get to the store and try this special little gluten-free seed grain we call (KEEN-WA).
I have made this dish a few ways, but most of the time there is always, almonds, spinach and a berry of some sort. It is a perfect combo of bitter, sweet and crunchy. Plus the quinoa has a nutty flavor that ties it all together. I think the fresh herbs are also what make this dish great and full of extra nutrients and flavors. Do you now that fresh herbs are health foods? Well they are... they have large amounts of vitamins, antioxidants and then they are green, so that is good for you too. Just a little tidbit to think about. Which is one of the main reasons why I have an herb garden every enjoy the scents, flavors and vitamins. Anyway, onward to the recipe to hopefully bring spring to Michigan...
Spinach Almond Quinoa with Berries Recipe
2 TB of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced and chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic diced and minced
1 1/2 cup of dry quinoa
2 cups of veggie broth or stock
1 cup of pure water
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of black pepper
2-3 TB of tamari sauce (gluten-free soy sauce would work too)
1 TB of dried Italian herb mix (oregano, basil, or thyme/rosemary)
1-2 cups of fresh spinach leaves (start with 1 cup, but if you want more greens, add 1 more cup)
1/2 cup of raw almonds (whole or sliced)
1/2 cup of a berry (either dried blueberries, craisins, or even figs or raisins) or use fresh blueberries or figs instead
1/4 - 1/3 cup of fresh chopped parsley ( or I have used cilantro)
Fresh lemon to squeeze on top

First, saute the chopped onion and garlic with the olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add in the dry quinoa and broth/water, and also the salt and pepper. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa becomes fluffy. Quinoa cooks the same as rice with one cup dry grain to 2 cups water/broth... BUT, it cooks in half the time of brown rice, so keep an eye on it and then...

Just before the quinoa is done, add in the tamari, herbs and fresh spinach. Stir constantly to get the spinach to wilt and combine all the flavors. Then lastly, add the almonds and berry to mix in and not become too mushy. Then when you are ready to serve, top with more fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon... viola you have your delicious quinoa dish!

This dish will serve as a perfect side dish or feed about 4-6 people as a center-dish.

Hope you try this simple quinoa dish and love it!

Much love to you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies (vegan)

I started eating chocolate again in the last few weeks. Slowly trying to eat it again to see if it would affect my nursing babe. There was no issues with him and so for that I had to celebrate. I thought what a better way to celebrate chocolate but by making chocolate chunk cookies. The rich deep extra dark chocolate oozing from a yummy almond cookie. I made these cookies on a whim with all ingredients I had laying around my kitchen. Well, I guess they are staples really... almonds, almond butter, agave, coconut milk and homemade applesauce. Its pretty simple and a perfect cookie to be matched with a deep rich extra dark cocoa. Hm, I have been dreaming of this day for almost 6 months :)
I do love having a treat. Call me a indulgent sweets lover, but I don't think of myself as that. I mean, when you are making treats with all wholesome ingredients and you have self-control to only have one or two in a sitting, then you can really practice "having a treat". It seems if you can have a healthy relationship with food and with treats then you will be a happier person as well. If you find yourself eating a whole batch of cookies whether it is healthy or not, that may indicate you have an issue with having a treat. You can be extreme with having too much or too little. A balance is always the key. Yes, there is joy in good food, and I am the first to attest to this. But there can also be guilt, pain, control and more strong emotions that can be tied to food. Be aware of how you view your relationship with food. And also practice and celebrate balance. You will truly enjoy the simple joys of life so much deeper. Much like bittersweet chocolate...
Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookie Recipe
1 1/2 cup of almond meal, or almond flour (I ground raw whole almonds in a magic bullet)
1 cup of favorite GF flour blend, I used 1/2 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 cup of almond butter
1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
2 TB of coconut milk beverage, or other non-dairy milk
3 TB of melted coconut oil, or other baking oil

1/2- 1 cup of 76% or higher chocolate bar chunks

Mix all of the dry ingredients first, then add the wet. Mix well. The batter will be very sticky at first, but then if you wait a few minutes it will start to soak in the moisture. Break up your favorite dark chocolate bar, and use about 2 0z- 3.5 oz. Or 1/2- 1 cup of chocolate. Make the chunks as big or as small as you want. Mix the chocolate evenly into the batter and then you are ready to spoon on the cookie sheet. The batter will be sticky, but that is ok because it will make good chewy cookies. Use a TB or so to scoop out little balls to bake. This recipe will make about 2 dozen cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes depending on how soft/crispy you like your cookies. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from sheet and then ENJOY!

Notes about the recipe:
*If you can/want to use an egg instead, you can omit the applesauce and put in an egg. I chose to omit the egg, but if you want an egg, then these cookies will work as well.

*You can of course use chocolate chips in the recipe if you have those instead of a chocolate bar.

Well, friends, that is my newest chocolate cookie recipe. It is a winner, and especially an added treat after a long time of no chocolate. Yes, it is the lenten season, and you may have now given up chocolate... and if that is the case, stick this recipe in your back pocket and find it again when it is your time to celebrate eating chocolate again. I hope you enjoy and have a beautiful day of balance and peace.

Much love to you!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken "Parmesan" (gluten and dairy-free)

There are a few meals that I make that I feel that my whole family loves. This is one of them. When you eat gluten-free, you do not get to indulge in breaded chicken or Italian food often. I know how that goes...It just seems like those days are over for you. You can only eat rice and beans. Until you find an easy recipe like this to make at home and viola your dining table will be turned into an Italian cucina (kitchen). I could make this recipe again and again, and it would not disappoint. It is a keeper, and so I will share it with you...

This recipe is based on a recipe I made in the past, Crispy Chicken Strips, but this one is a bit modified to fit the idea of having Chicken Parmesan with pasta. It does not have any cheese of any sort, so you may be disappointed if you are looking for a cheesy dish. Yet, in my opinion, the crispy breading over the chicken doused in marinara tastes like the perfect combo and makes me reminisce the days I would go to an authentic Italian restaurant and get a similar dish.

Chicken dry mix breading:
1 1/2 cup of ground almonds
2 cups of organic corn meal
2 ts. of sea salt or a tad more depending on your taste
2 ts. cracked pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
2 ts. paprika
1 TB of dried basil

Liquid mixture to dip:
1 cup of almond/coconut beverage/rice milk
juice of one lemon (about 2 TBs)

1 and a half pounds (or so) of organic chicken breast or local chicken without hormones or additives

*You want to get out a big piece of parchment paper and lay out the chicken breasts. Cut them in half or thirds and then lay over the rest of the parchment paper. Then with a meat pounder or tenderizer you are going to want to pound the chicken until it is it is flattened.

*Then you will dip the chicken pieces into the milk/lemon mixture and then dip into the breading. Lay all of the strips in a Pyrex baking pan, I used a 9x13 and also an 8x8 to fit all the pieces. I drizzled olive oil on the pans before laying the strips and I also drizzle some olive oil on top of the strips before I put them in the oven. Not too much ( maybe around 1/4 cup total after drizzling all over under and on top) just a little drizzling to keep it crunchy too.

*Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on how big and thick your chicken pieces are. Mainly just check to see if the chicken is cooked and no longer pink. Once done, let cool for a few minutes, but it is ready to serve up.

*Serve with your favorite gluten-free pasta and marinara sauce. I make my sauce from scratch by blending in the blender 28 ounces of crushed tomatoes with herbs, olive oil, salt&pepper, and a touch of either lemon or agave. Blend and warm on the stove. My favorite gluten-free pasta is Tinkyada Brown Rice brand, I have never been disappointed with their brand options.

*Serve with a side of spinach or arugula salad, or a green veggie. And your meal is complete. I have written before on how I like to serve meat as a special occasion mainly because I think we overeat meat in America, but also because I like to buy quality local or organic meat which is always a little more pricy. But this feast of a meal will give you leftovers if you are a 4 person family, and would probably serve about 8-10 people with the recipe as is.

So, this breaded chicken recipe has come in handy for many yummy dinners. I also made a fresh salad the next day with some of the leftover chicken warmed and chopped on top. It was fabulous. Fresh ingredients, good protein and a happy momma. :) I hope you try this one out, you will not be disappointed.

Have fun in your kitchen and enjoy!

Much love!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Date-Sweetened Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (vegan)

I know I should be posting something more "green" today but I decided to blow off st. patty's day and make some cookies, or biscuits as the Irish would say. They are sweetened mostly with dates and with a touch of agave nectar to seal the deal. They are not meant to be a super sweet cookie's a hearty almost Irish soda bread in a biscuit type of cookie. So I decided to share.

Or, maybe I should have shared a good green smoothie recipe... hm, spinach, kale, and maybe pineapple... yeah yeah. I think I will eat my greens and fruit not blended up today. I mean you can get all of the same goodness by just eating your raw veggies and fruit, so what makes me think it is some what better for me if I blend it all up. :) OK ok, I am really not down on the "green" smoothie, and maybe I am just justifying the fact that I like to eat my greens as leaves and not as a liquid. Bottom line is that it doesn't matter how you eat or drink your vegetables, but your body needs them and will love you for consuming them. But that is another post, or another recipe, for another day...

Today I am sharing a little love in the baking department... what's new about that, right ?! :)
Date-Sweetened Oatmeal Biscuit Cookie Recipe
3/4 cup of sorghum flour
1/2 cup of gluten-free oat flour (made by grinding in food processor)
1/3 cup of flaxmeal
2 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 ts. of pure vanilla
1/2 cup of room temperature organic coconut oil

1/2 cup of finely chopped dates soaked in 1 cup of coconut milk or non-dairy milk overnight

add 1/2 cup of raisins or more chopped dates

First thing, soak 1 cup of chopped dated (chop from whole) in 1 cup of non-dairy milk. I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage. Soak for 6-8 hours or overnight. Then the sweetness from the dates will soak into the milk and you will have a very sweet date/milk mixture. Then milk all the dry ingredients above together first, then add the wet and coconut milk date mixture. Mix together well and form little cookie-like balls and press down just a bit on the baking sheet. I lined my baking sheet with parchment paper because it helps them bake better and not stick at all. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes and let cool before moving. They may be a little crumbly when then first from from the oven, so let them cool a bit.

This recipe will make about 2 dozen cookies.

And now I leave you with an Irish Blessing for the day:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

Have a beautiful day!
Much love,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red Lentil Veggie Burger

It's starting to thaw out here in Michigan and I think it is for good this time. Springtime is just around the corner and we have an unofficial 'official' day to say that it starts next week, the 21st. I am very ready for spring this year...being cooped up inside with an infant has given me a little cabin fever syndrome. I am very ready to get out and start walking and planting seeds. Plus watching everything come alive again brings so much excitement and hope for the coming year. It is like the world is starting to wake up again and the smells and sounds are glorious. And then there is the allergies...but that is another story :)
Spring time is a great time to consider a cleanse from eating too much meat or non-fresh foods from over the winter months. Our bodies are naturally asking for fresher options that can help cleanse and ready the body for summer. This is the time of year when eating fresh greens that start to grow first or to start drinking tea from dandelion root. Interestingly enough, God has provided the exact foods and plants we need to start growing to help us eat what our bodies need. You may not be able to have a spinach salad just yet from your own garden, but you can start preparing your body by eating more greens that are store bought. Like making a green smoothie with kale and parsley, or drinking some dandelion tea with local honey... or making a veggie burger and topping it with lots of greens and herbs.

Here is a simple and nutrient packed meal idea to spring you into more freshness this March...
not to mention, budget friendly as well.

Red Lentil Veggie Burger Recipe
3 cups of cooked red lentil mix (cooking directions below with 1 1/2 cup of dried lentils)
2 cups of pre-cooked brown rice
1/2 cup of finely diced bell or red pepper
1/2 cup of finely diced celery
1/2 cup of finely diced red onion
1/2 cup of finely diced carrot
2 cloves of garlic minced or diced
2 ts. of ground cumin
2 ts. of paprika
1 ts. of curry powder
1/2 ts. of turmeric powder
1 TB of either dried or fresh chopped cilantro
1 TB of either dried or fresh chopped oregano
1 TB of olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup of millet or corn flour

First, cook 1 1/2 cup of dried red lentils. Here is the steps I take to make the red lentils so they are easiest to digest...1.) I soak the 1 1/2 cup of dried lentils in 3-4 cups of pure water. I set them soak for 3-4 hours and then rinse and rinse again until the water surround them is clear. You will notice that the lentils have soaked up quite a bit of the water and you have about 3 cups of lentils now. 2.) Then add the soaked lentils with 3 cups of water to a small pot and cook for 15-20 minutes until all of the water is soaked up and the lentil have broken down into a mush. You can season with a little sea salt and pepper as well. 3.) After cooking the lentils, they will have to cool before using in the burgers, so put them in the fridge or freezer and cool until they are much more solid and cold. Then when they are a solid mush mass, they are ready for using. Those are the 3 steps I take to cook the lentil mixture to make these burgers.

Then in a large mixing bowl, mix together 3 cups of the cooked lentil mixture with 2 cups of cooked brown rice. I always have cooked rice or quinoa in my fridge for using for leftover meals and so I just used 2 cups of the brown rice I had on hand... this will add more time to making these if you have to cook some rice. But since you have to take the time to cook the lentils, cook some brown rice at the same time. Just cook the rice how you normally.... 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water, and season with broth or sea salt.
Mix together the lentils, rice, spices, oil and then the veggies. Chop the onion, peppers, carrots and celery into very small pieces so that they are almost the same size of rice pieces and them mix all together into the mixture. Lastly add the little bit of millet or corn flour to bind everything together. Start with 1/4 cup of flour and then add another 1/4 cup of flour if your mix it still a bit watery or mushy. The mix will be mushy anyways, but you don't want it soupy. That is why the flour helps things stick together better. The picture above is of the burger mixture before you make into patties.

Then, you roll in your hands each pattie about 1/2 cup worth of mix into the burger. This recipe will make about 10-12 burgers depending on how large or small you want them. Place them on a parchment papered baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until they are golden brown and look a bit more crispier. They will still be very soft. You will have to let them cool for at least 30 minutes before they are ready for moving. This will help them "harden" up so that you can eat them more easily. So basically you are cooling them down to be warmed up later for a burger, or you can serve cool in a wrap with greens and other veggies.
I personally think the best way to sere these is either in a GF wrap or on a GF bun or slice of bread. Add some ketchup, mustard, or other sauce and then make sure you add freshness to it with greens, cucumbers, and herbs. This is a wonderful meal of comfort and freshness. You gotta love how lentils are so versatile as well. I am sure you could sub the red lentils for another lentil and it would be fine. I love red lentils, so they were my first choice in making these burgers.
Well, that is the meal. I hope you try this one out and see what you think. It is one of the creations I tried in my pursuit for healthy budget friendly dinners. And, I think this one is a success. Sometimes it's just nice to use the same good old ingredients like brown rice and lentils in a new way. Makes you feel like you are being really adventurous in the kitchen, when really you are just mushing together some ingredients to be great.

Another little tidbit I thought I would mention to my readers...

I have just been informed that the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (the nutrition school I went to) is offering a special to those who enroll to the school by March 25th. They are giving out the NEW iPad2 to those who enroll in the next 2 weeks, (or you can choose to have a $500 dollar scholarship instead of the iPad). Last month they were offering a $1,000 dollar scholarship, and I mentioned that I had 2 of those scholarships to give away. Two lovely readers took advantage of those scholarships! How exciting! I thought I would mention this month's promotion because I had such a great response from you all about the scholarship last month. I think IIN is a great school, and it has changed me and given me my voice when it comes to health and nutrition. Therefore, I want to share that experience with you if you are interested...

To receive the promo gift you must give your admission counselor MY NAME, Stephanie Laidlaw, as your referral contact so that they know you heard about the promo from me. PLEASE email me or contact me if you are interested in the school and want to talk more logistics or details, and perhaps the iPad2 might just persuade you to make that choice sooner than later...I am not super tech savvy, but those iPad2's are pretty awesome :) Just saying :)

Cheers to spring and may love fill your heart today!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blueberry Almond Cake with Creamy Coconut Frosting (gluten-free, vegan)

I am reminded that life is a gift. So many countless blessings to be thankful for. A healthy life is also a gift, even if it takes hard work to get from one awful place of sickness to a place of health and wellness. It is so hard to imagine health when you are so sick. It is sometimes even harder to remember how sick you truly were once you are feeling the beauty of a healthy life again. I am reminded of these feelings because this is a part of my story. I have been down that road of sickness. It is painful. Physically, and emotionally. It is easy to get lost in your own pain and loose a sense of balance and hope for the future. It's hard to imagine... imagine anything. You just want answers and hope...

Then time passes. Your body will heal. It is a powerful being. You seek answers to questions. You work hard to eat real food and treat food as medicine. You find that there is joy and happiness in adding real food and taking away the crap. You start to regain a sense of imagination again. You can start to see that flicker of hope for the future. You start to dream again.

No matter where you are on this healing journey to better health, you must stop and appreciate. Appreciate the journey. Appreciate the process. And appreciate that life is a gift.

Remember where you came from and look forward to where you are going. Push yourself to take the next step. Do that one thing that is holding you back from getting more balance, or more peace in your life. You know what it is. And if you don't, then take the time to reflect on what that might be. Your life is a gift.

This recipe represents this new life of appreciation for me. It is a picture of eating real foods that can be created from scratch to be something beautiful and delicious. There is no pain, no guilt, and no disappointments. Taking a bite of something wonderful to be reminded that this is only the beginning. Gluten-free living doesn't have to be the kind of life sentence that you may think when you first start. It can be liberating. It brings hope that you can heal and live a life full of adventure again.

I made this recipe from the most common ingredients in my kitchen and it turned out wonderfully. I was so excited to enjoy this cake with my husband as a reminder to how beautiful our life is together. It feels good to celebrate and appreciate each other, and to enjoy our amazing son together. I am so grateful.

Blueberry Almond Cake Recipe
1 1/2 cup of ground almond-meal (almonds ground in coffee grinder or food processor)
1/2 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1 ts. of xanthan gum
1 ts. of salt
1 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
1 cup of So Delicious Coconut milk beverage or other non-dairy milk (mix milk with juice of one lemon*about 2 TB of juice* and let sit for 5-10 minutes to make a buttermilk like cultured milk substance)

1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix all the dry ingredients together first, and then add the buttermilk mixture along with all the other wet ingredients. Lastly add the blueberries and do not over store them in to avoid too much blue bleeding into the batter. Mix and pour into a 8x8 or 9x9 circle or square baking pan. Make sure you grease the pan with coconut oil or palm oil to avoid sticking. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. The cake will be pretty moist, but stick a tooth pick into the middle of the cake to test if it is still gooey. It is done when the tops is golden and there is no gooey middle and the pick comes out clean. Let cool for 1 hour before frosting with the following glaze/frosting. The cake is not meant to be super sweet, so the frosting adds the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor.

Coconut Cream Frosting Recipe (vegan):
1 can of organic coconut milk (just scoop out the cream from can and dispose of the coconut water liquid)
1/3-1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
3 TB of tapioca flour

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out all of the coconut cream and do nit use any of the liquid in the can for the frosting. Then in a bowl with the coconut cream, syrup, flour and creamer. Start with a TB of creamer and if it needs more liquid to blend in the flour, then use 1 more TB. Wisk very well for a few minutes until it is creamy and blended. Then if it is too liquidy- put in the fridge for 30-60 minutes for it to harder up a bit. Then frost the cooled cake and your treat is ready! The cake should serve anywhere from 8-12 people depending on how you slice it up. I have found that this cake is a bit moist and chewy, so it tasted best when kept in the fridge and then eaten cold. It was very rich and yummy and you would be surprised that is vegan and refined sugar free. I hope you are reminded of the beauty of gluten-free eating with this treat and thank God for this beautiful gluten-free life.

Much love to you today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Millet Morning Glory Muffins (vegan)

It's March and I have had my fair share of oatmeal, rice porridge and hot cereal this winter. All breakfast options that I truly love. A bowl of hot wholemeal goodness is truly what satisfies me in the winter months and sustains me to the lunch hour. But still, a girl sometimes gets bored. So, today I decided I was going to venture out and eat some millet. I just learned yesterday that millet is the only grain that is alkaline compared to the other "acidic" whole grains. So basically this means that if you are looking to lower your acidic food intake and add more balance into your life, millet may be a good choice of grains for you. Variety is always good when it comes to eating grains, especially adding an option of a protein and fiber packed millet.
Millet is actually very easy to make. You basically cook it the same way you would rice. 2 cups of water to 1 cup dried millet. Add a dash of salt or pepper and then you have it. It cooks much quicker than rice, probably about half the time of what it would take rice. It could be used as a cereal in the morning to make porridge, it could be made in salads like you would use quinoa, and then you could add it to a breakfast muffin as I did today...
It has a very earthy taste, but also soft and sometimes crunchy. I bet this would be a good substitute for a couscous recipe or even a bulgur wheat recipe. If you haven't tried millet yet and you are looking to try something a little different then this is a cheap option. I can buy millet at my local market in bulk for about a dollar for 2 cups. That is pretty darn cheap. Millet is packed with a good amount of your essential B vitamins and is also a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium. Eating whole grains is usually cheaper than eating any processed box of sugar cereal, so no excuses! :)
Millet for some reason just had me thinking about morning glory muffins. They are kinda like a bowl of porridge in a muffin and that is exactly what I was looking for. No need to fill up on white flours and sugar- just add some millet and nuts and fruit and you have a nutritious punch of goodness to start the day.
Millet Morning Glory Muffin Recipe
2 cups of cooked millet (see cooking directions below)
1/2 cup of buckwheat flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
2 TB of flaxmeal
1 cup of shredded coconut
2 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of ground ginger
1/2 cup of craisins or raisins
1/2 cup of raw walnut pieces
1/2 cup of shredded carrot
1 cup of diced apple pieces
1/3 cup of light olive oil or other baking oil
1/3 cup of agave nectar or maple syrup
1/3 cup of shredded pineapple with juice (or applesauce)
1/3 cup of So Delicious coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
1 ts. of pure vanilla

Cook the dry millet separately ahead of time. Cook one cup of dry millet with 2 cups of water. This should produce 2-3 cups of cooked millet. Then add two cups of cooked millet to a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients first, and then mix, then add the wet ingredients and mix all together well. You can either save the raisins/craisins to add on top of the muffin before baking, or add into the batter. This batter will start to gel a bit after you mix it, and then use a 1/3 cup to scoop out batter into the muffin tins. Either oil your muffin tins with coconut oil/palm oil, or use paper muffin paper. This recipe should make 12 medium/large muffins. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
As you can see, these muffins are a hearty muffin with lots of textures. They are not meant to be overly sweet, and if you want to add some sweetener or almond butter for topping that is up to you. I will enjoy mine for breakfast with a cup of tea and a snuggle from my son. I love knowing that eating this healthy hearty muffin will also be giving my son a healthy 'breakfast' in his breastmilk. Still eating healthy for two :)

I hope you have a healthy happy day!

Much love to you!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Curried Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties (vegan)

Quinoa and sweet potatoes. Hmmm, yumminess in their purest form. These two whole foods are nutrient dense and some of the cheapest health foods you can buy. Because of that, I make them every week, sometimes more than once or twice. And the usual favorite is sweet potato baked fries. They seem to never get old. And then there is quinoa, the super-food-seed. Quinoa makes it's way into our lives as a pilaf, salad or extra side many days of the week. Separately, I can find so many ways to enjoy them. Yet, this little mash-up of ingredients led me to believe they may be best when put together. A perfect union. A sweet and nutty romance. A love that doesn't fade fast, but grows as time passes. True love.

I have been making myself get creative with some of the same ol' good ingredients that I have in my kitchen. It is easy to get into a rut with your favorite foods. And it isn't always easy to find alternatives or move past what you know and love. Yet, wanting to save a few bucks on the grocery bill by making my pantry food last (and not at the expense of good nutrition) forces you to get creative. I think this usually leads me to a fine moment of discovering there is so much more to whole foods than carrots and rice. So my friends, I literally mashed some quinoa and sweet potatoes together to get this little es amble and I promise you the mix of flavor, spices and texture will not disappoint those taste buds of yours.

Curried Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties Recipe
3 cups of sweet potato puree (just boil diced potato until soft, drain and then mash)
2 cups of cooked quinoa (1 cup of dry quinoa with 2 cups of water, cook like rice for 20 min.)
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup of finely chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup of millet flour
1 TB of olive oil
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of black pepper
1 TB of paprika
1 TB of ground cumin
2 ts. of curry powder
1 TB of dried cilantro
1 TB of dried oregano

optional ingredients/changes:
-1/2 cup other GF flour (b.rice, almond, corn) to add more stiffness, instead of millet.
***Also, the pattie CAN be made without flour, it is just a bit gooey- and you have to let it cool to have it be more manageable.
-1 cup of cooked/washed black beans
fresh herbs instead of dried.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then form large patties in your hands, almost like burger patties. Then place the patties on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. You can flip them half way if you want them to have even crispy sides. This recipe should make about 10-12 patties depending on how big you make them.

Also, if you want to make these in muffin cups, that will work beautifully as well. It may be a good option if you want this to be a side-dish or cute "muffin" as a side with a BBQ dish or salad.

Remove from oven and let cool just a minute before serving. Or wait a while...:)

***If you want the outside of this pattie to be crispy when you eat, then put a TB of olive oil in a skillet and crisp each side for 2-3 minutes until crispy and to your liking***

The best ways to eat this pattie:

-wrapped in a GF wrap with veggies and your favorite dressing or sauce
-fit between two pieces of GF sandwich bread or bun with ketchup, lettuce and tomato
-as a side dish to a nice BBQ chicken meal
-placed on top of a spinach and veggie salad
- just eat on a plate with a fork :)

There are a few ways to enjoy this pattie, and additional veggies could be added to make a "veggie pattie" I am going to experiment more next time I make these and see what I come up with. But for now I am truly happy with this new combo with so much flavor and spice. It will have you asking for more... here is my lunch today, some leftover chicken bbq with a sweet potato quinoa pattie and a spinach salad on the side. Love this combo! And it left me full and satisfied.

I hope you find new ways to use your favorite ingredients... and in the meantime, why not try these! They will make so many that you will have some for leftovers, or to put in the freezer. Eating healthy doesn't have to be rocket science or expensive. This little recipe would cost you around 3 dollars to make and you end up with 12 patties, that is 40 cents per pattie... then add all the fixin's with it and viola you have a very inexpensive healthy and vegan meal. This post and recipe is linked up with The Nourishing Gourmet's 3/10/11 Pennywise Platter.

I hope you have a fabulous day!

Much love,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pumpkin Pudding Bars (gluten-free, vegan)

You may be thinking this post is a few months too late because it is MARCH today, not November. But in all honestly, it is meant for today. I was doing a little spring cleaning in my fridge and freezer (yes, I clean my fridge and freezer :) I found some frozen pumpkin puree from last fall, and I knew I had to make something with it. You can't just let that pumpkin freeze till next November, there will be fresh laying around then. So, why not enjoy some pumpkin today. It is delicious! And, such a creamy dairy-free gluten-free dessert. I would even say that I prefer this treat over ice cream. I know, that's serious!

Yet, I understand your dilemma in trying this recipe.

You don't have any fresh pumpkins left, and do you want to wait till October to try this one?

Maybe you are like me and you still have that frozen pumpkin in your freezer just waiting to use it for something tasty. Perhaps this will make you go through the freezer space and see what you have in there anyways. Or, maybe you have pumpkin canned in your basement.

Then there is always the store bought option. Canned pumpkin from the store. Hm, good, but not always REAL good. So, that is understandably the dilemma at hand.

My dilemma was whether or not to share this fabulous recipe with you now or later. I was tempted to just save it for later...but then I took another bite of this pumpkin goodness, and thought, I had to share now. I justified the thought with thinking that you too have just cleaned out your freezer and noticed you have to use up some pumpkin puree as well. You have been waiting for this post for a few days now and now that it is here, it all makes sense.

Honestly, I don't think pumpkin has to be narrowed to a few months a year. If you like to freeze seasonal veggies like me then you can also enjoy these flavors more than just for holidays. Besides, as I am sitting planning my garden this week, buying seeds and plotting out the land (in my head), I think to myself, "Need to plant pumpkin!" This is a brilliant thought. Of course I need to plant some pumpkin! This recipe of creaminess must be repeated again. Perhaps this fall with my very own planted pumpkin.

Until then,

let's just

enjoy pumpkin even if it is March and spring is in 21 days.

Pumpkin Pudding Bar Recipe

1 1/4 cup of brown rice flour
1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of millet flour
1 ts. of sea salt
1/2 cup of warmed coconut oil 
2-3 TB of pure water
2 TB of pure maple syrup

Mix all of the dry ingredients together first, then add the wet ingredients and make a pie crust kinda crumble substance. Start with the 2 TB of water, and if it is still a tad too dry then add another TB. Mix with mixer, or hands until you get the pea-sized bits of dough. Then crumble across a 9x13 glass pan that has been greased with organic palm oil shortening or coconut oil. Spread the crust mix all over the bottom of the pan and then press down with your fingers and hands first, then press down with a large flat-bottomed spoon or 1 cup-er. It doesn't have to be pretty, the pumpkin will cover it soon. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.

Pumpkin Pudding Mix:
3 cups of pureed fresh pumpkin (or thawed frozen pumpkin) (or canned works too)
3 cups of So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non dairy milk, like hemp or almond)
1 ts. of pure vanilla
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/2 cup of buckwheat flour
2 TB of tapioca flour
1/8 cup of chia seed meal (or flaxmeal is substitute)
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 TB of baking powder
1/2 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. of pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
1 ts. of ground ginger
1/2 ts. of ground nutmeg

In a blender or food processor, blend the pumpkin and coconut milk along with the coconut oil and vanilla, basically all of the wet ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Then mix the wet and dry together well with a spatula until it is smooth and creamy like pudding. This recipe could have an egg added, but then it would bake up more stiff and cake like too. I omitted the egg for personal reasons. Pour the batter on the COOLED crust from above. Smooth out the top of the batter so that it is even and pretty. Put in a preheated oven of 350 degrees for 1 hour. Bake until it is stiff and golden brown. It may still be gooey or pudding-like looking when you pull from oven, but the more you let it cool, the more it will stiffen. Also, I think this dish should be served COOL, so after cooling on the stove top, put in the fridge and cool for a few hours before you serve. Pudding should be cold, don't you make sure it has cooled and stiffens up before serving. Then use a knife to cut your pieces and serve on up. It is much like pumpkin pie really, but this version has no egg and is a bit more creamy and that is why I have called this pudding bars. :)

Just look at that creamy goodness! Hmmm, so yummy! And, I always justify this dessert with lots of compliments because it is made with a vegetable, so lots of nutrients, fiber and good stuff for you! Enjoy with delight!

Hope you have a good start to your March, and clean up your freezer and find that frozen pumpkin puree you must eat before it's spring :)

Much love to you today!


p.s: Update on the $1000 dollar Institute of Integrative Nutrition Scholarship- both have been used by some lovely readers. They are about to start a very exciting journey learning about health, nutrition and counseling! Very happy and excited for them. If you are interested in the school I went to become a Holistic Health Counselor.... email me at or check out my Contact me and then we can chat more about the program. And of course, I will let you know of any other scholarships or giveaways if I hear of them. Much Love!