Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chocolate 'Peanut Butter' Chia Mousse

I'll share another way I use and eat up that amazing chia seed. This time it is more of a dessert. Or a snack or whatever you want to make up of. It is a simple 5 ingredient treat- nothing too crazy- Just a few simple ingredients to whip up and enjoy! There is nothing real inventive with this recipe. Just pairing together a few great flavors to enjoy together. Who doesn't like a little peanut butter (or sunbutter) and cocoa? Some call it the perfect couple. Addicting. Satisfying. And divine. 
Chocolate Chia Mousse Recipe
1 1/2 cup of So Delicious coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk beverage)
1/3 cup of chia seed gel*
1/4-1/3 cup of natural sunflower seed butter (or natural peanut butter)
12-15 drops of vanilla stevia (NuNaturals)
2 TB of raw cacao powder (or baking cocoa works too)

*chia-gel 'recipe'
1. Grind 1 cup of chia seeds in a magic bullet, Vitamix, or smaller food processor (using a blade you would normally use to grind other seeds or whole grains).
2. Pour the chia seed meal into a quart-sized mason jar that you have a secure top for.
3. Fill the rest of the quart jar with pure water (about 2 cups).
4. Shake up the jar and let sit in the fridge ready for use.

In a high powered blender, blend all of the ingredients and then pour into 1 large or 2 smaller glasses to serve up. Super simple and super healthy and delicious. Maybe even better for you than a sugar filled yogurt pick-me-up. This is packed full of greatness to keep you mind and body moving. 

fresh or frozen berries
shredded coconut
mini chocolate chips

This recipe picture is a little bit more 'grainy' than when I have made it again and again. If you whip up all of the ingredients in a high powered blender then you will have more of a creamy and whipped up mousse-like texture. Or, just whip it by hand with a whisk if you like it a little more crunchy. A little bit more domesticated and rustic. This is power food. Lots of protein, energy, and yes, it could be called dessert :)
Much love and light to you today! I hope you have a relaxing weekend ahead of you...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Creamy Chia Berry Milkshake

I'm not gunna lie, I have been so into chia seeds lately. Major big crush. Can't stop blushing and might get a little flustered if one were to ask the status of our relationship. Yes, I know in the health-junky-blog-world, these little seeds are not new to anyone. In fact, people have been talking about these itty bitty seed's greatness for a while now, but I have just seriously gotten into them this past year and have declared 2012 the year of the chia seed. 
They are so pretty too. I have been grinding them and making a 'chia seed meal' that I mix with water and then let sit in the fridge to make a chia gel to have on hand to add to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, and more. The gel seems to work so well in smoothies- making them extra creamy and like a "triple-thick" milkshake if you ask me. I know I could just add the seeds whole and still get all the great health benefits form them, but I have found that I really like how the texture turns out when I make the chia-gel and add it in that form instead. So thick, creamy and almost like ice cream or pudding if you ask me. 

Some reasons to LOVE chia seeds
(more than growing a chia a pet, of course!)
-Chia seeds are an amazing source of Omega-3 fats. Great for your brain, organs and heart. Chia is a great way to ingest and digest these amazing fats. If you are sick of swallowing a pill or oil to get your Omega's- then try some chia seeds instead.

-Chia seeds have a much higher amounts of antioxidants compared to the flaxseed. Chia and flax seeds are many times said to be interchangeable in recipes (which is mostly true for texture) but chia seems to beat out flax in some pretty amazing health benefits.

-Chia seeds have 5 grams of protein per serving size (1 ounce or 3 Tablespoons) and 12 grams of dietary fiber-whoa- starting your day with a serving of this powerful seed will keep you going strong without question.

-Chia seeds do not need to be refrigerated and can last a lot longer than other seeds, so there is little worry about them becoming rancid over time.  Extra bonus for stock-up purposes.

-Chia seed gel is an amazing egg-substitute. Great for vegan baking with an added punch of goodness too. I have been enjoying adding it to almost any baking recipe- just because ;)

-Chia seeds contain phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, niacin and zinc. Perfect for keeping your immunities high along with strengthening your cells and organs.

*chia-gel 'recipe'
1. Grind 1 cup of chia seeds in a magic bullet, Vitamix, or smaller food processor (using a blade you would normally use to grind other seeds or whole grains).
2. Pour the chia seed meal into a quart-sized mason jar that you have a secure top for.
3. Fill the rest of the quart jar with pure water (about 2 cups).
4. Shake up the jar and let sit in the fridge ready for use.

My wake-up milkshake as of late using 'chia-gel' for extra creamy goodness:
the 4-ingredient milkshake recipe
1 cup of frozen berries
1 cup of hemp or coconut milk, or other favorite non-dairy milk
1/2 cup of chia-gel*
10-12 drops of alcohol-free liquid stevia (I use NuNatural's)

I blend all of the above ingredients in my magic bullet and you have to shake it or stir it a few times to get things moving- but I like it thick- so I am willing to make it work. I blend for a minute or so and viola  my morning milkshake is ready to consume. Because I like to use hemp milk there is another dose of Omega's and the protein is around 10 grams, fiber around 16 grams and calories around 320. Not bad. And, it is fulfilling and energizing for 4-5 hours for sure- another bonus. 
Yes, you could add some more hemp seeds for more protein and goodness and you could add some greens and more fruit if you wanted, but I personally have found myself addicted to this simple combo. Plus, you do not have to add a banana to get a thick and creamy or sweet mix. The stevia can be omitted of course, but I love how it just sweetens the tart berries perfectly. I can down this milkshake in minutes. So good. I'll save my greens for lunch :)
Delicious creamy chia berry goodness gone in seconds. Try the gel in your next shake and I bet you will notice the difference. Or don't :) but you might want to consider adding some chia to your life this year in some way. I have been buying my chia seeds from Costco for a very fair price (32 ounces for $6.79). Or I have bought chia seeds in larger quantities from Vitacost as well. If you are interested in getting an extra 10 dollars off your next purchase of chia seeds check out this link and order them through Vitacost with the $10 discount (disclaimer: You have to be a BRAND NEW customer to receive the 10 dollar free coupon).

I hope you find something new in the kitchen to love this new year. One that is full of health and goodness. Cheers to a year of health, hope and healing!

Much love to you!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Country-Style Maple Cornbread

This is the cornbread recipe I promised in my last post. I have made it many times over the last year and just realized that I haven't posted the recipe. Silly me. So here is my recipe and I will share at the end what are some of the variations I have done with the recipe over time. Adding different toppings or baking it as bread, cake or muffins. It is very flexible and delicious. Perfect to pair with most any meal, and is especially nice with chili, soups and salads. I mentioned in my last recipe that this is the cornbread I would pair with a hearty chili, but I should also say that this cornbread inspires me to make chili most of the time. You gotta have a good soup or stew to indulge in with these babies.
I make this cornbread without eggs so that it is vegan and friendly to my toddler. I also have made this recipe only sweetened with stevia and also a sucanat version. I always use organic cornmeal and flour because I want to avoid genetically modified corn. Organic corn is never genetically modified and there are less/no toxic chemicals used in the growing and processing. That is why it is important to me to buy organic, especially corn. I also add fresh or frozen organic sweet corn kernels to add to the flavor and crunch. I personally love a hearty and moist cornbread with lots of texture and depth. This is it and I hope you try it out and enjoy! 
Country-Style Maple Cornbread Recipe (gluten-free, vegan)
2 cups of organic cornmeal
2/3 cup of organic corn flour
2/3 cup of organic millet flour
2/3 cup of tapioca flour (arrowroot works here too)
2 TB of chia seed meal or flax seed meal
5 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
1/3 cup of sucanant (or sub 1/8 ts. of ground stevia powder or 10 drops of liquid stevia)

'buttermilk mixture'
2 cups of non-dairy milk (So Delicious coconut milk beverage works the best!)
2 TB of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of grapeseed oil, or light olive oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup (can be omitted, but adds a lot of great flavor!)
1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce (I use homemade)

1- 1/12 cups of thawed frozen or fresh sweet corn kernels

Mix the flours and dry ingredients together first, then after you let the milk and apple cider vinegar mixture sit in a seperate bowl for 5-10 minutes you can add that 'buttermilk-like' mixture to the dry ingredients. Then add the oil, applesauce and maple syrup. Stir well and you will notice the rising of the the batter because of the vinegar and baking powder. This is a good sign. Then lastly you can add the fresh corn. Add 1 cup. And if you look at it and want more, that is up to you, or save some corn to decorate the top of the bread or muffins with. Mix well and then pour into a well greased 9x13 pyrex pan. If you want to make muffins this recipe will make 12 large muffins. I suggest using muffin tins to avoid sticking to the pan. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven. For the 9x13 pan you want to bake 45-50 minutes until golden brown and not gooey in the middle. The muffins would bake for between 22-25 minutes until they are golden brown as well. 

Some Notes:
-You can sub the millet and tapioca flour for a gf flour mix you may use more regularly. So that would be 1 1/3 cup of flour mix instead of millet and tapioca.

-You can omit the sucanat (or stevia) all together. I like to add a touch of sweetness, but is perfectly fine just being sweetened with the 1/4 cup of maple syrup too. It doesn't change the batter to omit it.

-I have made these as 'sweet' corn muffins and have omitted the fresh corn and had added blueberries instead. It is a nice touch and extra sweet with fruit too. Super yummy (picture shown below).

-If you do not like fresh corn kernels, you can certainly omit them from this recipe as well. I call this recipe "country-style" because of the fresh corn kernels, but you can definitely omit if you want!

- If you do not have apple cider vinegar on hand, lemon juice works as a perfect sub in the buttermilk mixture.
Here is a picture of when I recently made this recipe to bring to a family gathering where chili was the main course. The cornbread was moist and perfect and I was able to cut 20 pieces in a 9x13 pan. So it goes a long way.
Here is a picture of when I made this recipe with the added stevia and topped with blueberries. Making a sweet corn muffin. It reminded me of a southern style cornbread because I think southern cornbread is always really sweet :) Blueberries are also a perfect touch to any cornbread recipe.

After posting this recipe and looking at the pictures again, I am wanting to make another batch today. Like I need another reason(excuse) to bake. It is such an easy gluten-free recipe. And, it always seems to turn out for me, so a pretty basic and simple recipe for any gluten-free friend. 

My hope for you today is to stay warm and full of hope for healing. 

Much love!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hearty Rainbow Vegetable Chili (vegan)

It has been cold and wintry the past few days and there is no better way to warm-up the chill but with a big pot of vegetable chili. Lots of veggies and lots of beans to comfort the cold and weary soul. Warming on so many levels. Then you add the spices and some warm vegan cornbread and you are set to hibernate for a quick meal after playing out in the snow. Or at least set to hibernate for a few days! 
Just look at all those colorful veggies- That's why I called this "rainbow-vegetable" chili. It was one of those days when I was cleaning out the fridge in the middle of the latest snow storm I decided that the colorful arrangement of purple cabbage, yellow sweet potatoes, orange carrots and green kale was such a pretty color combo that they had to be put to good use in a big pot of something warm. Why not chili? And why not fill up on a colorful rainbow of veggies in one meal? You won't be missing meat in this dish, the veggie combo and the shredded cooked cabbage (great ground meat sub) really make a perfect vegan meal. It is so simple and makes a huge pot of goodness to warm up for days or share with friends.
Plus, I have been inspired as of late to try and eat more vegetables in the winter months. I sometimes feel guilty for eating frozen, out of state, or canned veggies in the winter, and seem to sadly eat less for that reason. Which in return slows down your digestion and may even cause more digestive build-up in the end. Yeah yeah, it's winter so it is time to be eating and digesting more slowly. And, spring is a time to detox and summer is a time to be rejuvenated with lots of vitamin D and fresh foods. But still, you have to keep trying to fill your plate with as many colors and vegetables as you can, all year a bowl of this amazingly filled vegetable chili will be good for you on so many levels this time of year.

I made a double batch of this chili so that I could have leftovers, freeze some and share with friends. So I will share the more 'normal' sized recipe and you can decide if you want to make a ginormous batch or not :0 It's completely up to you. I always say that I rather do the cooking once and have something nutritious to warm up on the stove for lunches and dinners. I guess it's convenience in the 'real food world'. 

Hearty Rainbow Vegetable Chili Recipe (vegan)
1-2 TB of sauteing oil (grapeseed, olive, ghee)
1 large yellow or red onion, finely chopped
1 heaping cup of chopped celery
1 large bell pepper chopped
4-5 finely minced garlic cloves
1 cup of chopped carrots
1-2 cups of finely chopped purple cabbage
1 cup of chopped sweet potato
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
4 cups of blended (pureed) stewed or canned tomatoes
1 15 ounce can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans
1 15 ounce can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked pinto beans
1 15 ounce can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked kidney beans
1 heaping cup of finely chopped fresh kale
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 TB of chili powder
1 TB of ground cumin
1 ts. of ground paprika
dash or 1/4 ts. of ground ginger and cinnamon
cracked pepper and sea salt to your taste

In a large 8 quart pot, on medium heat, saute the chopped onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes until soft. Then add in the cabbage, carrots and sweet potato to cook and saute for a few minutes as well. Then add the tomatoes, broth and beans and bring to a strong boil. Then reduce heat and add in the kale and cilantro and spices. Then cook until chili is reduced and cooked. Time to cook varies from 45 minutes to an hour. You can also add all but the fresh greens to a slow cooker plus 1 cup of water and cook on medium to low heat for 7-8 hours (or medium heat for 4-6). 
Serve chili with fresh herbs, avocado, scallions, tortilla chips, over a bed of brown rice or quinoa. Or over some polenta or fresh corn bread. Perfect for a winter day. Perfect for hibernating. This recipe will serve 6-8 people.

I hope to share my vegan cornbread recipe in the next post to follow up with a perfect pair for this one pot dish. It is budget friendly and full of vitamins, fiber and hearty goodness. It is meals like this that helps me save on my GF grocery budget and still feel completely nourished and fulfilled.

I hope you have a warm weekend with lots of relaxing time to read, catch up on sleep or play in the powdery white stuff outside.

Much love as always- Stephanie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Date and Raisin Oat Biscuits (gluten-free, vegan)

Can you believe it? Winter finally showed up here in West Michigan. We have had blustery cold and snowy weather over the last few days and if you ask me, it's kinda nice. Last week at this time I was thinking at 50 degrees and sunshine, we may just have skipped winter and went straight to spring. Which wouldn't be all bad, but yet, I do like following the seasons for all they have to offer. I like the cycles. The seasons teach me so much about myself. About how there is a time for everything, and that seasons do in fact pass by. Also learning the tension of living in the present, without aching for the past or future, is a good practice to grow in.

And lately I have been enjoying some new patterns in this season: eating more chia seeds, no-sugar and only stevia, and reading historical fiction. It must be January, right? 

January is a good month to find projects inside the house. Or find a good book to pass the time. Or have you heard that it is "oatmeal-month"? I guess oatmeal is a good hibernating food. 
And, baking is a good 'hibernating' pass time. At least I think so :) These biscuits are filled with oats and have zero sugar. Yep, that's right- zero sugar. Only filled with sweet dates and raisins and a splash of stevia.
I have made these biscuits twice in the last week. They have been a perfect snack for my growing toddler. He loves dried fruit, and the oats and chia in this recipe only fill him with whole grains, healthy fats and protein. These biscuits also stick together better than any others I have made before, so great for a small person to hold onto.
Plus, do you remember telling you about the amazing pear butter I have laying around? The pear butter is a perfect dose of sweet and spice, and wonderful for toast, and yes oat biscuits. So not only does my son love these quick snacking biscuits, but my husband and I also love to slather a dose of pear butter on top and enjoy it for all it offers. Delicious!
Date and Raisin Oat Biscuit Recipe (vegan)
1 1/4 cup of gluten-free oat flour
(I grind my own flour from Bob's Red Mill certified gluten-free rolled oats)
2/3 cup of gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob Red Mill's)
2/3 cup of organic millet flour
2/3 cup of tapioca flour
2 TB of chia seed meal
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 TB of aluminum free baking powder
3/4 cup of finely chopped dates
1/3 cup of organic raisins

'buttermilk mixture'
1 cup of So Delicious coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
juice of one large lemon- about 1/4 cup juice (or sub 2 TB of apple cider vinegar if you do not have a lemon)

1/3 cup of room temperature organic coconut oil
10-12 drops of NuNatural's pure vanilla stevia liquid

Mix all of the dry ingredients together first, and also add the dried fruit and mix well in the flour mixture. Then after letting the milk and lemon sit for 5-10 minutes, pour the milk mixture, oil and stevia into the dry mix and mix well all together. Make sure that after mixing well there is no flour pockets or coconut oil pockets. The batter will look almost like a thick cookie dough and if it is a bit sticky, then you need to let it sit for a few minutes for the oats to absorb the moisture. 

Then roll out a ball of dough, almost like a very large cookie being rolled out. This recipe will make about 12 biscuits (1/3 cup sized or palm sized). Make sure that you roll the dough out and these drop biscuits are spread evenly on a baking sheet. 12 biscuits on the sheet and just press down the balls of dough just slightly. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Until the bottoms are golden brown. Then let sit for 5-10 minutes to cool, and viola, you have yummy, sugar-free biscuits to enjoy and devour!
Some Notes:
-If you want to make these biscuits into something more sweet by themselves and say make more of a 'scone' then I would suggest adding 1/3 cup of sucanat or your favorite sweetener. Just a suggestion if you are looking for more of a sweet treat.

- You can sub out the millet and tapioca flour for most all-purpose GF flour mix and it should turn out just fine.

- I think the coconut milk beverage makes a big difference in this recipe. I have made it with other milks and like it best with the coconut.

-You could add different fruit and flavors, but the dates add a lot of sweetness and texture, so I suggest sticking with those with the no-sugar version.
I hope you find space today to breath and enjoy this season. A season of rest and more quiet time.

Much love and light to you today!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fruit and Seed Trailmix Cookies (vegan)

This simple recipe was based off a cookie recipe I saw put together in a magazine add. The original recipe contained eggs, sugar and nuts, so I went to work to make some alterations for my own dietary purposes. Plus, I think I am addicted to converting recipes to healthier alternatives. I think this is me admitting my problem...or at least proclaiming my addiction. They say this is the first step, right?
If you're like me, you may have been doing this alternative baking thing for a while as well. You start to look at conventional recipes and only see all that you can do with it. Changing flours, sweeteners and adding in some more nourishing ingredients, just because you can. I've always had a problem with following the rules. I can never really do as I am told. Call me defiant, or it may just be the addicting high I get in creating something of my own. Like a hit of adrenaline. The edge of adventure and trying something new. Or maybe I am just a bit crazy in the kitchen- so it may just be my problem after all.

I have a hunch though that if you like this blog and my recipes you may just be kinda crazy in the kitchen as well. You like healthier recipes, ideas and being creative in the kitchen. You stop by here because it beckons you to take the next step. To try something new. To be adventurous. It's addicting...
So, here is another one of my crazy no-sugar, no-nuts, no-gluten and dairy recipes with lots of healthy ingredients like seeds, fruit and oats. Lots of vitamins, healthy fats and whole grains. It is the perfect snack, treat, dessert or yes, even breakfast.

Fruit and Seed Trailmix Cookie Recipe (vegan)
1 cup of sunflower seed butter (natural-kind with oils works best in my opinion) (I used Once Again's)
1 cup of certified gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob Red Mill's)
1/2 cup of finely chopped dates
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds
1 TB of flax seed meal
2 TB of chia seed meal
1/2 ts. of  each-baking powder, baking soda and sea salt
10-15 drops of liquid pure vanilla stevia (I used NuNatural's)
1/3-1/2 cup of hemp milk (or other non-dairy milk)
optional: 1/2 cup of allergen-free chocolate chips (If you want to avoid the sweeteners in the chocolate, then I suggest leaving the chips out, and add raisins or pumpkin seeds instead).

Mix the butter, dry ingredients, fruit and seeds together first, then add the milk and stevia. Start with adding 1/3 cup of milk, if the batter seems a little crumbly, then add another 1/8 cup of milk to help make it stick together better. Mix well with a spoon or rubber spatula and then lastly add the chocolate chips if you decide. Mix well and let sit for a minute for the oats and seeds to soak up lingering moisture. The batter will be just a bit sticky, so don't worry if it is. Then use a spoon or your hands to roll cookie balls and place them on the parchment papered cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. This recipe will make about 2 dozen small cookies and about 18 larger cookies.
I hope you find some space today to create. Whether it be something in the kitchen, your workshop or your life, creating something new for yourself can be really satisfying and healing. When you can give yourself more hope for the future with what you can create it can cause a ripple affect for your health. The ability to hope and have promise for tomorrow will allow your body, mind and soul to rest and find meaning and purpose.

Much life and love to you today!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Creamy Buttercup Squash Risotto

Time for some comfort food. It has been a pretty warm and sunny winter here, and with less than an inch of snow thus far you would think I wouldn't need much hibernating comfort food to get by. Well, I don't think I am suffering from seasonal depression, but some days you just need a little extra warmth from your kitchen and food. I love a warm gooey risotto with lots of flavor and the extra bonus is that this risotto doesn't need any cheese or cream to make it scrumptious. The creamy squash and coconut milk make it absolutely divine. 
Also, if you haven't tried buttercup squash yet, you must try it soon. It is so creamy and sweeter than you think. The butternut squash would be the best substitute if you cannot get your hands on some buttercup, and I think I would try a pumpkin squash next. I still have pounds and pounds of squash in the freezer that I decided to bake, puree and freeze for the winter months. Yes, you could just let your winter squash sit in a cold dark room over the winter months. But, out of convenience I decided to get a head start and just have to defrost the squash to use. So not only is this meal comfort for a weary soul, but it is also a great meal for budget-friendly and convenience purposes. But I didn't tell you that. You won't be thinking about that after your first bite. You will be thinking about a divine second and third bite.
This risotto recipe is also extremely simple to make with just a few ingredients. Then pair this with a side spinach salad or brussels sprouts and you have yourself a nutritious and delicious meal. I also used a whole grain rice instead of a white or enriched version. So this risotto is packed full of whole grain goodness, fiber, lots of vitamins from the squash, and not to mention some healthy fats from the creamy coconut milk. It is satisfying and filling and will not have you looking for more a few hours later. That is a good test to see if your body is getting the nutrients it needs. If you feel hungry a lot and even after a large meal a few hours later then your food may be lacking nutrients and your body may be still "hungry" for more. More nutrients, vitamins and fiber.
So, you can't go wrong with a dish like this. Especially in the middle of winter. No need for extra calories or meat here, just a bowl of some sweet creamy goodness to fill you up. Seriously you won't regret this dish. You will thank me later.
Creamy Buttercup Squash Risotto Recipe (vegan)
1 medium to large sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 TB of finely minced fresh garlic
2-3 TB of olive oil
4 cups of buttercup squash puree (butternut or pumpkin squash could be subs here)
1 can of full fat coconut milk (or use half of the can if you want to lower the calories)
6-7 cups of vegetable broth or homemade stock
2 ts. of wheat-free tamari sauce
cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste (start with 1/2 ts. of each)
2 cups of sweet short-grain brown rice ( I used Lundberg's)
3-4 TB of fresh thyme leaves
2-3 ts. of dried Italian herb blend (or use fresh herbs: oregano, basil, sage, margoram)

In a large pot (8 quart), saute the chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil. Then when soft add the squash puree, coconut milk, broth, and tamari. It will look like you are making a soup and then you will add the rice and herbs. The amount of herbs you use may vary on your own liking. I like it full of herbs so I go a little bit overboard. Then stir and cover until it comes to a boil. Then turn down the heat and stir every few minutes until the rice is completely cooked and the liquids have been soaked up by the rice. This will take about 45-50 minutes completely. You do not need to constantly stir, but you do need to keep the heat lower and a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't cook too quickly or burn. Then when the rice is cooked through, turn off the heat and let the risotto sit and cool for 10-15 minutes. This remaining time with really thicken it up. Then stir well and serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, pine nuts. If you like dairy, then a sprinkle of some Parmesan cheese would be fabulous as well. 

This recipe serves 6-8 people.

Now, serve and enjoy. This dish is so simple and yet so decadent. It almost seems like it should be dessert, which is a good thing if you are trying to avoid desserts, sugar or sweet treats. A sweet and savory combo really hits the spot.

Hope you have a warm and cozy Monday.

Much love to you!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hearty Oat Orange Drop Biscuits + Homemade Spicy Pear Butter (gluten-free, vegan)

I made some amazing pear butter last week. I was inspired by a friend's Christmas gift of some delicious apple butter and was reminded of my 3 gallons of frozen pears in the freezer. I froze them in a frenzy last fall when I bought over a bushel of barlett pears from a local CSA. They are so fabulous fresh, but the greatness of the fresh pear just doesn't last very long. So into the freezer the pears went. Not really knowing what would come of them. Thought I could or would do something wonderful with them some day.
And that day has come. Well last week it came, and now I know what I will be doing with pears for many years to come. So yeah, the reason I made these cute biscuits was pretty much just to justify how much I wanted to eat the wonderful pear butter. Call me an emotional eater. I know. It's true.
You see, I do have some reasoning behind wanting to make some pear butter though. This January I am trying to clean up from a crazy month of December and eat no sugars or sweet treats at all. I am dedicated to only using stevia as a sweetener, and an occasional spoonful of honey or maple syrup for tea. But to not make cookies or cakes or whatever calls for sugar or cane whatever... this is hard for me because I love to bake. But cleansing is also a great thing to do for yourself every now and then. And, I am dedicated to intentionally add more greens (and no more holiday desserts) to my life over the next couple weeks and months.
I still found my way back to baking though. This time it is with the use of some hearty oats to make a healthy biscuit to pair with tea, breakfast or even some vegetable soup for dinner. I was impressed at how well these oat biscuits stuck together and created a not-so-crumbly gluten-free treat. The gluten-free oats and chia seed really do their job when it comes to gluten-free baking.
Also, oranges and oats are a great combo this time of year. Together they somewhat stand as survival foods for the middle of winter. You need oats for the fiber, hearty whole grain goodness and yes, they have been proven to make you "feel" happier. So, when the winter blues have you in a tizzy, maybe try some oats. And oranges, well let's just say that maybe they are not grown in season here in Michigan, but I know many of us Michigander's are quite thankful for a "fresh and in-season" orange from the southern states this time of year.  Then, when you add in the pear-goodness of the sweet and spicy butter- you will be comforted enough to know that spring will come again.
Hearty Oat Orange Drop Biscuit Recipe (vegan)
1 2/3 cup of gluten-free oat flour (or grind certified gluten-free rolled oats in a magic bullet or high powered blender to make your own oat flour- which is what I do)
2/3 cup of certified gluten-free rolled oats
2/3 cup of organic millet flour
1/3 cup of tapioca flour
1 TB of chia seed meal
1 TB of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
2-3 TB of pure maple syrup or use 10-15 drops of liquid stevia
4 TB of room temperature organic coconut oil (I used Nutiva)
4 TB of cold vegan butter (I used Earth Balance- soy free)
'butter-milk mixture'
1 1/3 cup of coconut milk beverage (I used So Delicious)
juice from one lemon- about 1/4 cup of juice (or orange could work here too for more flavor)

1 organic washed orange to zest 2 ts. for batter, and 2-3 ts. for topping the biscuits

First, mix together your milk and lemon in a glass bowl to sit and culture for at least 10 minutes. Then in a different large mixing bowl mix together your dry ingredients and then cut in the oil and butter like you would a pie crust recipe. Lastly, add the milk mixture and stir well. It will be a bit foamy and wet  when you first mix it all together. So let the batter sit for 10-15 minutes for the oats to soak up the moisture. Then these biscuits are a "drop" biscuit recipe- so you will use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour out and drop the batter on a parchment papered baking sheet. Then top the biscuits with a sprinkle of orange zest. This recipe will make 1 dozen large biscuits, or 18 smaller biscuits. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Until golden brown and stiff. Pull from oven and let cool for a few minutes before moving and serving. 

Spicy Pear Butter Recipe
2 gallons (8 quarts) of frozen pears (with or without peal)
Pears don't have to be exactly measured- You can use whatever you can get your hands on. Also, if you don't have frozen pears, fresh pears will work too. I do not think canned pears will work because of the excess moisture, but maybe some one out there can prove me different.

In a large 8-10 quart pot, dump your semi-defrosted frozen pears and basically you let them simmer down into a boil and you let them simmer on the stove for 6-10 hours until the pears have turned into a very thick sauce. You can add your spices after a few hours of cooking down and taste test to see if you want to add a touch more. Start smaller so that you don't over do it though.

start with these spices, and then add a pinch more if you want more spice:
1/2 ts. of allspice
1/2 ts. of ground nutmeg
1/2 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/2 ts. of cloves

Then, after the pears are cooked down, Let cool for 6-8 hours and then pour into a blender to whip into a nice thick and smooth butter. The butter should really look like a creamy butter...:)

Then if you want to preserve your butter you can follow traditional preserving methods and can it for a later date. I like canning the butter in pint-sized jars so that they are easy to get the butter out with a small knife or spoon. Perfect.

The 2 gallons of pears roughly made about 4 pints of butter. Just to get an idea of how much water is reduced.
Serve your biscuits warm with some pear butter (or your favorite fruit preserve) and tea. A perfect snack for a wintry day, or heck, any day really. The biscuits are simple to make. And the butter, well it just takes a while, but probably the simplest recipe I know. Delish and together serve as a great reminder that spring will come again and there will be green grass and a growing garden. In the meantime, biscuits and pear butter will help us hibernate, stay cozy and hopeful for 2012.
I hope you are enjoying a new start this year. We actually have only gotten an inch or two of measurable snow where I live in Michigan (we usually have feet of snow by now). And, it was 50 degrees today! I had the windows open and was spring cleaning like it was April. They are promising more harsh winter conditions soon, so I guess we can't really say it is spring yet. Still, it's fun to dream about seeds, my garden and tulips...

Hope you have a beautiful day.

Much love and light to you!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Protein-Packed Breakfast Oatmeal Pudding

Yes, the resolutions, goals and self-help articles are everywhere this week. It can be inspiring or intoxicating. But, the bottom line is that we as humans are always on the pursuit to bettering ourselves. At least the majority of us. We can't wait to hear the latest diet craze or some creative organizing tips. And, hearing about others problems, goals and ideas can be really inspiring to our own...problems, goals and ideas.

Sometimes this pursuit seems to leave us feeling like we just can't get to where we want to be. Can't hit the goal weight...or get healthy... or take time for yourself. I can identify with this. I can be really hard on myself for the silliest of things and I am also undeservedly impatient with myself. I should allow a little grace with myself.  I should, but I don't always. We all should. You may know what I mean. That is why when new year's goals come around I always try to balance my goals with some wiggle room. And I am reminded that each little baby step in the right direction is something to celebrate. 

Baby steps. 

With baby steps you are not trying to conquer your goals in one day. You are not trying to become the healthiest person alive in a short season of life. Realizing this life and these changes are a apart of a journey. And the journey means you are given the chance to make little choices here and there to make a bigger difference. You can't take everything that you want to change in your life and not add something in it's place. If you are going to restrict, take away or discipline, you have to 'add-in' as well.

Add in something.  Instead of thinking about what you need to take away, think about what you can add-in. Simple.

A little tweek. A little baby step in the right direction.

As I mentioned before in my 2012 hopes, I would like to start the year off with some "Add-In" posts. Adding in a certain food or ingredients here and there to take the baby steps you need to make the change happen. It doesn't happen overnight, but then one day you will look back and realize how far you have come. Like switching from processed foods to whole grains. Or from packaged to homemade. It takes time. So with adding in a quick, simple breakfast like this... you will be making one choice and tweek for your health. 
This simple breakfast pudding has 5 main ingredients. And you can create it and sweeten it to your liking. If you are eating mostly all gluten-free packaged cereals or waffles for breakfast, I would encourage you to make this cereal just one day a week and see if eating the whole grains and healthy seeds make a difference for your energy.
Add in some seeds: Hemp, Chia or Flax. Individually or separate, these seeds are packed full of power, protein and contain so much good for your body.
Hemp, Chia and Flax all have amazing amounts of Omega-3's. Good healthy fats that help your brain, organs and body function with vibrance and health. Hemp contains all known 20- amino acids and is an easy digestible plant protein source. Chia contains more calcium than milk and flax is known to help with bone health. All of these seeds have a amazing protein, fiber, and healthy-fat content. Just research them for yourself and you will come up with many many reasons to add these power-house foods to your life. And, what better way to keep you going through a busy morning than lots of food protein, healthy fats and fiber?
Overnight Protein-Packed Breakfast Pudding Recipe
1/2 cup of certified gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob Red Mill's)
1 heaping TB of chia seed or chia seed meal (I used Nature's Earthly Choice's)
1 heaping TB of flax seed meal (I used bulk whole seeds from health store that I grind at home)
1 heaping TB of shelled whole hemp seeds (I used Nutiva's)
1 cup of non-dairy milk (coconut or hemp are my first choices)

Put all of the above ingredients in a glass bowl. I sometimes choose to mix in the chia seeds as meal (ground up seeds) because it is easier for my son to eat. But you can add the chia seeds either ground or whole and come up with the same pudding-like results. Mix with a spoon and then put in the fridge to sit overnight (or at least 2-3 hours). Then when you wake in the morning you have your oatmeal ready without cooking. You can eat cold, or warm it on the stovetop for a few minutes. Serve with more non-dairy milk and your choice of sweetener. Some good no-sugar sweeteners would be: apple or pear butter, fresh or frozen berries, maple syrup, stevia, honey or more fresh fruit. This pudding is dairy free, but if you eat dairy you could also add a dollup of greek yogurt along with the fruit for more ideas.

It is that simple. Mix the 5 ingredients in a glass bowl before you go to bed and when you wake up you have breakfast ready right away. Also, you can make this ahead of time for the whole week in mason jars. If you have 5-pint sized jars you could pre-mix all of the ingredients and store in the fridge all week for each morning's breakfast.

So there it is. A baby step. Whether you 'add-in' a whole grain (oatmeal) or eat a breakfast of fresh healthy seeds, or whether you grab onto the idea to make this simple breakfast all week for the life-on-the-go. Some more simple and healthy breakfast recipes: Hemp Berry Smoothie, Quinoa-Millet- Kasha Porridge, Raw Breakfast Muesli.
I made a double bowl of pudding for me and my son. We shared this yummy healthy breakfast over some fresh sunlight and a cup of tea. It is such a great way to start the day. Brightens your spirits and feeds your body. The saying of how breakfast is the most important meal of the day should be introduced to this simple pudding. I think they would get along :)

Much love and light to you this week!