November 7, 2012 § 4 Comments
Fall is nearly over; the leaves have hit the ground, filling the air with the saccharine scent of decomposition. Long walks in the ginseng-scented woods yield hens and chickens hiding on rotting trees, dilapidated bikes and a flush that rouges my cheeks. Against the setting sun the tips of the barren trees look like black lace. Once the sun is gone, the air is silent and chilling. I was lucky enough to catch some glimpses of Rhode Island’s color before it was wiped away by the brazen winds of hurricane Sandy.
The lack of warmth and daylight at this time of the year instigates (for me at least) a craving for craze sweets, breads and hearty roasts (all things I hardly ever eat). However, now more than ever it’s imperative to really dig in and feed our body things that will nourish it.
With the length of the days rapidly decreasing we can all feel winter’s threat; naturally most of us go into hibernation mode. Comfort food keeps us warm, but unfortunately many of the dishes we’ve come to know as our favorites are not exactly the best fuel for keeping us healthy. As I’m sure you know (and have read on every health-related website), whole foods (aka foods with only one ingredient in the ingredient list) are the fuel our body needs and craves. When we’re hungry, tired and stressed (common feelings for this time of the year, are they not?) we tend to make food choices that don’t benefit us. Then we’re forced to deal with the consequences of our poor food choices when we feel lethargic or get sick. Everything we put in our bodies matters, yes, every little thing.
I said all of that to say this; coconut flour is not only satiating with its high fiber, protein and fat content, but is also delicious. Coconut is indulgent and nourishing at its core and this flour proves it. Coconut flour can be used to make cookies, cakes, waffles, pancakes, tarts, “oat”meal and may be a substitute for flour when thickening sauces. But, because coconut flour holds water so well, there are some adjustments that need to be made. When using 100% coconut flour, for every one cup used, 4 eggs should be added to the recipe. By the way, coconut flour is gluten-free so consider experimenting with it if you’re cooking for someone with an intolerance.
This recipe can be made many ways, my favorite is just the fragrant coconut flour, a pinch of stevia and some hot water, but adding coconut milk (cream) an egg and vanilla extract makes for a heavier, more custard-like dish. Below I’ll provide both recipes. Experiment and enjoy!
Coconut Flour “Oat”meal
My Favorite way:
(makes one hearty vegan, gluten-free serving)
1/4 cup raw, organic coconut flour, 1 tsp organic powdered stevia, about 1 cup of hot water and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing
In a bowl mix coconut flour and stevia. Add hot water 1/2 cup at a time, mixing as you add the water. The coconut flour requires a lot of water, but to avoid making your “oat”meal too watery taste it as you go. I like mine on the drier, less soupy side.
(makes one hearty gluten-free serving)
1/4 cup coconut flour, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup coconut cream or milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp stevia or other sweetener, 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing
In a small sauce pan mix coconut flour, water and cream over medium heat until there are no clumps of flour. Add the egg. Immediately mix so the egg doesn’t cook. Continuously stir the mixture while you add vanilla extra, stevia and any desired spices. Top with something delicious and serve while warm.
More on Turin and Terra Madre to come. But for now, enjoy your “oat”meal.
August 9, 2012 § 3 Comments
Crunchy granola. Yes, crunchy granola is right and in more ways than the one mind-blowing, muscle powering, tongue tantalizing way I’m about to share with you. This recipe basically defines crunchy granola in the flowing floral skirts, worn sliver jewlery, kombuch brewing, feathers and fern trees, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, mung bean sprouting, beeswax boiling, make love not war, downward-facing dog kind of way. This buckwheat granola was my best friend during my mountain and rock climbing excursion through New Hampshire.
While we are on the topic; I Googled “crunchy granola” and was so amused (maybe a bit too much) by the Urban Dictionary definition of “crunchy granola bar” that I felt it completely necessary to share so you can use it to spice up your everyday vernacular.
Heidi: “Oh that Crunchy Granola Bar? I heard he just moved here from Denver.”
Hiking and rock climbing with two crunchy granola bars is not easy, so I made a huge batch of raw sprouted, vegan (if you omit the raw local honey) buckwheat granola and figured it would be the best fuel (screw over-processed power bars) to power my butt up the mountain as fast as my boyfriend and his friend. And I must say, it worked very well. Not only did we make it up Mount Washington, but we completed the ascent, which usually takes about 4 hours, in only 2 hours and 40 minutes (including our granola eating breaks). I was impressed.
Since the “crunchy granola bars” I was hanging with both spend most of the year in the mountains of Arizona and Colorado, they are into rock climbing. Because Rumney, NH has some good spots to climb, we spent our last day there so they could remedy their climbing craving. So, for the first time I climbed outside, and have to say, it was a lot of fun – but again, without my sprouted granola I probably would not have been able to keep up and complete all the climbs that they did!
Between climbs I came across some pretty cool looking mushrooms but decided to stick with eating the granola. I don’t think hallucinating is smart while rock climbing but what do I know? Anyways, let’s talk about this granola. Buckwheat is a serious power food. Not only is it gluten-free, but it also, according to Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, may help to lower blood glucose levels which allow those who enjoy it to stay satiated while managing and preventing diabetes. Plus, buckwheat is high in fiber, flavonoids and minerals such as magnesium. These mirconutirents harmonize to synergistically lower LDL (low density lipoproteins aka bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (high-density lipoproteins aka healthy cholesterol). Almost as impressive as our Mt. Washington ascent, huh?
Sprouted Buckwheat & Date Granola
3 1/2 cups raw buckwheat*, 25 large Medjool dates, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin coconut oil, 2 Tbsp raw honey (optional), 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract, 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt, 2 Tbsp Ceylon Cinnamon, 2 cups whole raw nuts (almonds, pecans or cashews), 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
*the amount will increase after sprouting because the buckwheat will hold water
Optional Additions: Flax seeds (raw or sprouted), crystallized ginger, dried Turkish or Black Mission figs, dried bananas, seeds, cacao nibs or beans, etc.
To Sprout: Rinse the buckwheat in a sieve, then put it in a baking dish or bowl fully submerged in water. Let the buckwheat sit in the water for 1 hour. After an hour, pour the buckwheat back into the sieve and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 24-48 hours (depending on how sprouted you want them) rinsing every 12 hours. When you begin to see the “tails” you can make the granola.
Date Paste: In a blender, combine 18 dates, the water, coconut oil, honey (if using), vanilla and pink salt until they for a somewhat smooth paste. Taste and adjust adding more dates, honey or vanilla depending on your preferences.
Meanwhile, chop up the remaining dates into fourths. Mix dates, nuts, coconut and cinnamon into the sprouted buckwheat. Add the date paste making sure to scrape every last drop from the blender into the buckwheat mixture.
To “Dehydrate”: Set your oven to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with coconut oil. Split the buckwheat mixture into two and evenly press it out on to the baking sheets. Dehydrate for 10 to 24 hours until the date paste is dry and the buckwheat forms sheets or clusters.
Note: My oven takes about 20 hours set on the “drying” setting, but every oven will be different depending on the setting and the heat. If you have a dehydrator, set to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate for 3-6 hours flipping the granola over after 1.5-3 hours.
Enjoy in yogurt, tossed into a kale salad (my favorite), with some fresh figs or berries, on a peanut butter banana, in nut milk or just straight up in big handfuls! Be careful though, this stuff is addicting…. and crunchy!
July 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
We are in the heat of the summer and finally the zucchinis are sprouting their phallic protrusions like it’s going out of style, the cucumber vines are spotted with petite yellow flowers that morph into miniature cucs, the nasturtiums are going wild, broccoli crowns royally spring up after every cutting, snap peas line the twirling tendrils, green tomatoes sun bathe trying to turn their sick skin ruby red, the chard is plentiful, garlic scapes emit their pungent fragrance and the kale isn’t stopping any time soon.
Along with the boisterous produce, eggs with yolks that are as orange as the sky at sunset are coming rapidly. The four chicks are growing faster than the purslane at the feet of my brandywines and I’m excited to figure out their sex. I’m hoping for no more than one rooster, but that would be some ridiculously good luck.
Good food is always plentiful in the summer as meals are always straight from the garden. It takes a lot to grow the food so to not take advantage of each morsel that comes from the rich soil seems silly. With that being said, I’m sure you can image how much chard and kale I’ve been eating, no? After eating greens for breakfast, lunch and dinner I guess it’s not surprising that I would start doing “crazy” things. First I started using nut butter to dress the leaves of the salad, next I added some fruit and then I went wild, mixing cacao nibs into my plate of Russian Red kale. Oh so good.
I guess it may seem strange if you’re stuck on the black and white idea that cacao = chocolate and chocolate = cacao but if you step out of the narrow-mindedness of typical associations, cacao is no more than a dried seed that belongs nestled between the chlorophylly leaves of your kale salad. Plus, cacao + kale = super food extravaganza. Together (2 cups kale and just one ounce of cacao nibs) they deliver over 1300% of the recommended vitamin K and over 300% of the needed vitamin A. Plus calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, fiber and more flavonoids than almost any other super food (think blueberries, wine, green tea, etc).
If that is not enough, both kale and cacao contain a significant amount of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin, found mainly in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals is known to promote feelings of happiness and well being (ever wonder why chocolate is magical?). Now maybe you can see why it’s a good idea to start your day with cacao and kale, never mind just consume the stuff in general. Edible optimism.
This is not really a recipe per se, but more of a suggestion. I’ve used raspberries, blue berries, or strawberries and if it’s really hot I substitute half of a frozen (organic/fair trade) banana. Depending on the fruit I use I interchange peanut butter with almond butter but anything works. Also, I’ve been breaking up pieces of homemade halva into the salad to give it more nuttiness – it’s a nice addition and adds some extra calcium if you like halva. Toasted coconut or buckwheat granola also work really well with the flavor of kale. Remember, kale is bitter so taste as you go to make sure you like the flavor combinations.
1 1/2-2 cups raw kale, chopped, 2 Tbsp nut butter, 1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup fruit, 1/8 cup organic, raw cacao nibs or beans
Chop kale, toss it in 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Mix remaining olive oil with 1 tbsp of nut butter and mix with a fork until it’s homogenous. Pour the oil and nut butter mixture over the kale and toss. Add nibs and toss until mixed. Add fruit. Top with the remaining nut butter and a sprinkling of nibs.
Share and enjoy!
December 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
In my opinion, if you can resist a muffin, you’re not human.
Sweet Cakes, a great little cafe in Peace Dale, makes the best muffins with the most creative flavor combinations. About two weeks ago I tried a cottage cheese blueberry muffin & it sent me back to when I was younger. One bite of the muffin whisked me into nostalgia, to the days of nagging my parents for a doughnut or muffin whenever they went into Bess Eatin’ to get a coffee. I would always order blueberry & mainly because of the crunchy sugar-baked top. It’s amazing how something as simple as a flavor can instigate such a distant memory, but in any case, it prompted me to give the cottage cheese blueberry combination a shot on my own.
Although blueberry is such a classic muffin flavor, it’s easy to get blueberry muffins wrong. Actually, it’s easy to get muffins wrong in general. We’ve all had our share of overly dense (usually very healthy) muffins, or muffins so sweet we feel like we’ve engulfed a heavily frosted cupcake – these muffins are the perfect in between. The lemon zest is really of importance for this recipe. The citrus’s sweet acidity really lightens what would otherwise be sort of overly indulgent, creamy (think butter, milk, cottage cheese) flavors.
This recipe takes a classic from the Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser & adds a little flare. These muffins are quick, delicious & make a phenomenal addition to any family breakfast – if you can keep them around that long. Just a heads up, it’s important to really beat the butter, sugar & eggs together so the that muffins come out light & airy.
Blueberry Cottage Cheese Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour (or gluten-free flour mixture)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp organic unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 3 Tbsp
1/2 cup, packed, powdered sugar
3 whole eggs
1/2 cup organic whole milk
1/2 cup organic low fat cottage cheese*
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 cups blueberries, or assorted berries
* I used my all time favorite Kalona SuperNatural Organic cottage cheese. This stuff is delectable, it even has a golden layer of butter-esque cream on top!
Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit & butter muffin cups. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt & baking powder.
Cream the butter & granulated sugar together in a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar & 1 Tbsp of lemon zest, continue mixing until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
When completely creamed, add half of the flour mixture, then half of the milk & continue to mix, until almost fully incorporated. Add the rest of the flour mixture, milk & the cottage cheese. Fold until almost uniform, with some clumps. Fold in the blueberries.
Fill the buttered muffin tin or cups with the batter. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp of lemon zest with the remaining 3 Tbsp of sugar. Sprinkle the sugar mixture on top of the muffins. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool for about 30 minutes before removing them from pan. These muffins should keep well for up to two days, but should probably be left uncovered so they don’t get too moist & sticky.
Enjoy warm, with a scoop of cottage cheese or a smothering of butter.
October 16, 2011 § 3 Comments
It’s a shame that this recipe isn’t what McDonalds uses to make their “Egg” McMuffins. Maybe if it was, our country wouldn’t be suffering from an obesity epidemic. I hate to start on such a negative note, so I’ll change my tone, but I had to say it.
We’ve finally got eggs! At first, I was hesitant to believe it, but after pulling the petite golf-ball-like orbs from the hen’s laying quarters for the past seven days, I’ve realized that it’s probably only going to get better.
The eggs in this sandwich were probably some of the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten (we have a while until our inputs & the hens’ outputs break even). Although the eggs were definitely the most expensive, they were by far the tastiest little morsels around. We’ve been letting the hens out to roam around the garden, torture the dog, flock into trees & to hop. Yes, hens hop, or at least ours do. But hey, the happier the hen, the better the egg- that’s my hypothesis.
All around the country the number of people rearing their own chickens (mainly for laying), keeping bees & planting their own gardens is increasing exponentially. It makes sense. As this nation has become more educated about the way our food is grown & raised, the energy required to ship it to us (food miles) & the actual nutritional quality of what we’ve been consuming, people have begun to lose their faith in the integrity of our food systems (& for good reason). So, instead of relying on a system that we can’t count on, why not take a whack at self-sufficiency (just a little whack).
So when I say this is the ultimate breakfast, lunch & dinner sandwich, you have to understand, the eggs did come from my backyard & that makes all of the difference. It’s a pretty damn good feeling to eat something you helped grow or grew yourself.
Aside from the egg, how can can anyone go wrong with a hearty artisan multi-grain loaf, roasted butternut squash, a block sharp cheddar (Melted. I know, even better right?) & arugula? You can’t.
Oh & yes, eggs do have cholesterol, but don’t let anyone fool you, eating eggs is much more nourishing than a bowl of some “healthy” cereal every morning. If you don’t know already, eggs are a prime source of choline, folic acid & vitamin A. They provide the perfect ratio of fat to protein & are probably not what is causing your high cholesterol. In fact, it is generally accepted that dietary cholesterol is not the persecutor of high LDL (bad cholesterol). Also, the fat in eggs is predominately good for you, as they are relatively low in saturated fat. High consumption of saturated fat is positively correlated (when consumed in high amounts, e.g. grain-fed & processed meats, processed cheese, butter, etc.) with high cholesterol.
As you can see, the quality of bread you use is important in deciding the the outcome of this sandwich. It’s got to be robust enough to not get lost under all the toppings that are added. Actually, the quality of everything in this sandwich is important; the bread, the cheese, the butter you used to brown the sage leaves in, the sage itself, the fresh bitterness of the arugula, and of course the egg.
By the way, if you’ve never made brown sage butter, you’re in for a treat.
Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich
(Serves 2 or 1 really hungry person)
1 butternut squash*, cut in half, seeds removed, 1/2 loaf of bread, 5 oz organic sharp cheddar, 2 eggs, 1 cup of arugula, 2 Tbsp honey mustard, 2 Tbsp shredded organic Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp organic butter, 6 sage leaves, broad leaf if available, salt & black pepper to taste
*You won’t use the whole butternut squash, but it will keep in the refrigerator for several days or can be turned into Butternut Squash Soup.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit & roast the squash for 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Then, switch the oven to broil. Cut two 3/4 inch thick slices of bread & broil, flipping the pieces every minute until golden on each side. When broiling you should use the middle-top racks (the heat comes from the roof of the oven) & should be vigilant about keeping an eye on the bread.
Meanwhile cook butter in a skillet over medium-high until the milk solids begin to brown, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Add the sage & cook until crispy, no more than 1 minute. Remove the sage & set it aside.
Once broiled, spread 1 Tbsp of honey mustard on each slice of bread, cover with a thin piece of butternut squash & top with the cheese. Broil the cheese-topped bread for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts (this happens very quickly).
Add the two eggs to the brown butter & cook until the bottoms turn white. Season with a little bit of salt. Flip the eggs & cook for no more than 1 minute. The yoke should be runny when they are finished. When finished top the broiled cheese bread with the sage, the eggs, some arugula & a pinch of Parmesan cheese. Broil for 30 seconds to melt the Parmesan. Season with black pepper & serve immediately.
While you enjoy, consider the following: What is holding you back from getting some laying hens?
October 12, 2011 § 3 Comments
The season for figs is waning away right before my eyes, which of course sets in a slight feeling of panic. No fresh figs until next July seems kind of, I don’t know, sadistic – so I did what any other person would do; I preserved them. Now, let me tell you, buying three dozen figs at once will earn you some soliciting stares from people you don’t know.
None the less, this jam is worth it. It’s going to be such a relief when I pop the lid off this baby in the middle of February to enjoy the closest thing there is to fresh figs in such a dreary month. The jam is really, truly simple. It is made with a mere four ingredients, all of which you may just have on hand, besides the fresh figs (unless you have a fig tree, in which case, let’s talk). I used honey, cane sugar & a lemon, rendering this a pectin-free recipe, my favorite kind.
Let’s talk about honey for a moment. Or better yet, let’s talk about bees. Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to take part in a late honey harvest with my boyfriend’s family. If you ever get the chance to be a part of a honey harvest, I eagerly encourage you to do it.
Bees are miraculous insects. Bees maintain a symbiotic relationship with flowers as they retrieve pollen, their protein source & nectar, their energy source. As bees fly from flower to flower picking up what they need, they loose some of the pollen that they have recently retrieved. The pollen (pollen is a flower’s gamete, or sex cell) they loose lands on the pistils of the flower (also known as the reproductive organs of the flower) & pollinates it. The bees store the nectar in their stomach then bring nectar back to the nest. While the nectar is in the bee’s stomach enzymes break it into simple sugars, fructose & glucose.
Upon arrival at the nest the bee stores the inverted nectar in six-sided cells & covers it with wax. The warmth of the hive causes the water to evaporate, leaving us, or the queen bee with a saccharine syrup, we know as honey. Honey, bee pollen & royal jelly (the food of the queen bee) contain many beneficial nutrients that can do everything from bolster our immune systems to ease our allergies. Bees not only produce honey, but they ensure biodiversity within our ecosystems. By avoiding chemical fertilizers, herbicides & pesticides we can help to keep bees thriving the way they should be.
Getting back to the jam; go now, buy your figs & while you’re out grab a jar of local honey. Local honey helps with allergies & tastes much more bold than the stuff you are probably used to.
3 dozen fresh black mission figs, stemmed & quartered, 1 2/3 cups of cane sugar, 1/3 cup local honey & 1 lemon*
* From the lemon you will need all of the juice, 2 Tbsp of zest & the rest of the rid peeled & cut into 1/2 strips.
Combine the quartered figs, lemon zest, lemon juice & the sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Add the honey & the slices of lemon rind. Continue cooking & stir occasionally until the mixture thickens.
This does take some patiences, but I promise, after about 30 minutes, the mixture is sure to thicken right up (if not keep the heat up and the mixture moving). When finished, pour the jam into glass containers & store in the refrigerator for months. Upon refrigeration the jam will thicken even more.
September 25, 2011 § 2 Comments
The humidity that hangs crippling fall’s crisp coolness might not inspire you to turn on the oven, but those few zucchinis that linger on your counter may. After harvesting a full summer’s bounty of delicata & butternut squash, I pulled the last & final zucchini from the ground before stripping the garden bare (well almost, the eggplants are still hanging in there).
This recipe is special; it’s tried & true. It was given to me by Peg, a wise friend who has seen it all. Peg is spunky, creative & extremely thoughtful- after a conversation about what to do with lots of zucchinis, she took the time to write out her entire recipe with coordinating pictures.
I’ve modified the recipe a bit, but the outcome is still the same earthy cake-bread that promises to please. Although it’s sweet, this whole wheat & quinoa based bread is truly nourishing. If coconut oil isn’t in your pantry, organic canola oil works almost as well. The crunchy topping that forms from the cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top makes this my favorite way to eat zucchini.
Peg’s Favorite Zucchini Bread
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, ½ cup quinoa flour, ¾ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp sea salt, 1¾ tsp cinnamon, 2 eggs, ¾ cup unrefined coconut oil, 2 cups zucchini, shredded, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup roasted cashews, chopped & 3 Tbsp cane sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit & grease a loaf pan with coconut oil. Shred the zucchini in a food processor. Mix the 1 tsp of cinnamon with cane sugar & set aside.
Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt & cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat eggs & brown sugar until fluffy, then fold in the shredded zucchini & the nuts.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture & fold until well fully blended. Pour the mixture into the greased loaf pan & sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the middle is dry. Let it cool completely in the pan, then slice & serve.
This bread freezes wonderfully. I “butter” it with coconut oil then quickly pan fry it until the outer edges are slightly crunchy. Enjoy!