Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Flax Cookies

It seems no matter where you go these days you will inevitably run into something associated with pumpkin.  Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars topped with copious amounts of cream cheese...It's pumpkin mania ladies and gentlemen; but what the H, tis the season, no?

Well, sorta....

The problem with these types of pumpkin "treats" is that they are loaded with refined sugar and not good for people with inflammatory illnesses, or those looking to shed a few pounds.  Remember: Refined sugar is not your friend-He's that creepy dude that sneaks his way into nearly everything that is packaged and processed and is one of the main contributors to the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes in this country.   Refined sugar is responsible for major inflammatory responses and will leave you feeling like overall crap (that's a scientific fact, folks) When you see him, flash him the middle finger and run fast and run far.

I get it.  You're thinking I'm crazy when I ask you to give up your precious sugar, but don't you worry your pretty little head because you don't have to be tied to that loser anymore. Thankfully, I have perfected a recipe that will satisfy your sweet pumpkin craving without inducing inflammation and without adding an extra inch to your waistline. (I'm giving myself a high five right now which is extremely awkward.) 

Drumroll please.....BEHOLD...Pumpkin Flax Cookies! 

Made simply with pumpkin puree, raw almond butter, coconut oil, almond flour,  flax seed, ground cinnamon and a few tsp of raw honey, these little mounds of goodness will satisfy the most intense pumpkin craving.  Not only are they nutritious, but they taste like freaking Thanksgiving. 

I know you're going to be super excited, but be careful when handling these cookies right out of the oven because they will be fragile and not firm.  Put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to set.  I like to dehydrate mine for an hour at 115 degrees F which will give them a little more crisp. Either way, they are absolutely delish. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Pumpkin Flax Cookies
Makes 25 small cookies
2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling because that comes with added sugar)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw natural almond butter
2-3 tsp raw honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients first. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Spoon 1 TBSP of the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet making sure they are evenly spaced.  If you are creative, you should be able to fit all of the cookies on one baking sheet with a little bit of dough left over for bowl licking goodness. Nom. 
Bake for 15 min at 325.  
Remember: These will not be firm, so carefully transport them to your refrigerator to set for a few hours, or  if you are impatient throw them in the freezer. If you have a dehydrator, you can dehydrate at 115 degrees F for about an hour to give the cookie a little more crisp.
If you want to get fancy, you could even make these with sweet potato puree instead of the canned pumpkin.  Whatever blows your skirt up. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Breakfast Quinoa

Looking for a healthy warm breakfast food that deviates from your run of the mill (and considerably less awesome) oatmeal? Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, not quee-no) is your bag baby! Referred to as "The Mother Grain" by the Incas, quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and contains a balanced set of amino acids making it a complete protein. It is also high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

For those of you GAPS or paleo eaters and grain avoiders, although quinoa is not technically a grain (it's a seed), it is not considered "paleo-friendly" because of the high carbohydrate content and the fact that it may cause inflammatory responses in those who are looking to heal their gut.

For those of you whose gut is in tip top shape and have no intention of eliminating quinoa from your diet, mix in some sliced fruit, chopped nuts, and shredded coconut and you have yourself one hell of a balanced breakfast that will give you a healthy start to the day.

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Breakfast Quinoa

Serves 2-3

1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed to remove powdery residue
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp raw honey

Heat coconut milk just to the point of boiling. Add quinoa and raw honey, stir until combined.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until quinoa is done-it should be fluffy.
Divide into bowls and add sliced fruit and nuts.  Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and almonds are my favorite.  If you want to make it a little more creamy add some extra coconut or almond milk when serving.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 LTD Farm CSA Member Dinner

Last November I reserved my LTD Farm CSA share for the 2013 season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term "CSA", it's an acronym that stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a fantastic way to buy local, organic, and seasonal produce directly from a farmer in your area.  As a pretty diligent “clean eater” I was looking forward to the monthly box of organic, freshly pulled-from-the-ground goodies that I would be able to use in creative and fun ways.

After the long-awaited excitement of the initial box in June, the first Tuesday of each following month became like Christmas.  Duck eggs, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, many varieties of lettuce, carrots, beets, peppers, beans, tomatillos, eggplant, herbs, wild flowers, homemade apple sauce and goat milk soap-just to name a few of the things we so gratefully received; and when I opened the email inviting us to their member dinner, I was thrilled. I had been regularly following their journaled farm life on their Facebook page, and was excited to meet the couple whom worked so hard to provide us with the best produce imaginable. 

As we navigated the country roads that led from the city to the home of my beloved CSA, I couldn’t help but sit in awe of the beauty that surrounded us.  Rolling hills peppered with treetops of emerald green, small streams tucked in a lush colorful landscape that gently held nature’s bounty.  It was a far cry from city life, and the peacefulness of what laid before us was mesmerizing. 

Upon arrival, we were immediately welcomed with a smile and hug from Khaiti, our beautiful and gracious hostess.  The farm dogs, Belle and Javier were also there to give us a sniff and a tail wag that let us know we were welcome to join the party (Little Blue was up on the hill keeping watch over the pastured birds).  To the right of the farm house and past a glorious apple tree, Khaiti's husband and partner in permaculture, Andrew, was sitting with guests around a long dinner table decorated with burlap runners on top of white linens and topped with beautiful flowers setting the stage for the feast…which was nothing short of amazing.

The Mexican-inspired buffet prepared by Andrew and Khaiti themselves, was filled with fresh goodies from the farm. We dined on homemade salsas, heirloom tomatoes, chipotle herbed chevre, Spanish rice, beans, and the most tender, flavorful goat meat.  That’s right, goat meat.

 For those who know me (and are also aware of my love of goats, which makes this even more shocking), you know that I am not a meat eater.  I began my journey as a vegetarian when I was just shy of 15 years old after learning about the horrors factory farming and animal processing.  My aversion towards meat continued when I learned more about how “conventional meat” is raised and how the use of antibiotics had become the norm.   Although I eat a mostly plant-based diet, I respect and support the farmers who feed their animals the kind of feed they are meant to eat, and who give them a good life with respect and dignity, something I believe all living beings should receive.  So the short of the long of it is, I tried the goat meat and it was delicious. 
The dinner conversation involved subjects you would expect from conscious CSA members; recipes, wellness, and with the dawn of the new school year in mind, thoughts on local school lunch programs from concerned parents. We even had a couple special guest appearances when Khaiti brought out two baby chicks to join the fun.

After dinner, our generous hosts led us on a tour of the farm.  We followed a winding flower-lined path through orchards and pastures that held goats, ducks, pigs, rabbits, chickens, and turkeys as well as a thoughtfully planned vegetable garden. We learned about the trials of raising pastured animals and the predators that seek them, some of them as unlikely (maybe unlikely to me as a city girl with limited predator knowledge) as blood-sucking weasels and chicken-snatching owls.  As dedicated farmers, they have gone so far as to camp out with their birds to discover how to best ward off the predator and protect the animals they are raising.

Josh and Me
The evening was not only lovely, it validated my decision and continued efforts to support my local farmers, which to me, has become an important part of mindful eating and conscientious living. It’s difficult to put into words the hard work and dedication it takes to be an organic farmer-to stand up for what you believe in when the odds are often stacked against you.  To say their efforts are admirable and inspiring is not even scratching the surface of the amount of respect I have for the two of them and everyone like them.

I encourage everyone who reads this who is not already a member, to seek out a CSA farm near you and participate in what may be one of the most beneficial things you can do for not only the environment and your community, but also your health.  There are national websites available where you can peruse different CSA farms and their offerings such as Local Harvest, or for those of you who are local to Minnesota or Western Wisconsin, you can visit the The Land Stewardship Project.

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy...And support your local farmers! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cinnamon Banana Waffles AKA: I Have a Fridge Full of Duck Eggs

I have a fridge full of duck eggs from my marvelous CSA share.  So, I do what any well-respected CSA participant would do... I scour the internet in search of fun and delicious ways to prepare and serve them.

A word on duck eggs: Duck eggs are larger, richer, and more flavorful than chicken eggs, which is why bakers love them...They make baked goods that much more decadent!

I came across this recipe from paleOMG via the folks at Just Eat Real Food.  Both great resources for those that are on a paleo diet, gluten-free, or trying to cut out refined sugar.

Being on a anti-inflammatory diet for my RA, I have to be careful with eggs, but I find I am okay with them in moderation.  Given these waffles are also gluten free and refined sugar free, I was really excited to give them a try and I'm glad I did, because not only were they delicious, but I am able to share them with you right before the weekend!

I made a few small changes from the original recipe, by adding 2 TBSP of maple syrup instead of three and substituting duck eggs for the chicken eggs. If you're making this for 2 people, you can definitely cut the recipe in half and you will have more than enough, and if you are making these in a waffle maker remember: less is more.  This will help you avoid any waffle explosions like the one I experienced in the first batch-The waffle maker and I needed to re-familiarize ourselves with each other...It was awkward at first, but now we're cool.

Enjoy your weekend and most importantly...

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Cinnamon Banana Waffles
Recipe from paleOMG

  • 2 medium bananas, very ripe
  • 2 eggs (I used duck eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ cup coconut or almond milk
  • 1 cup almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Mash the bananas and place them along with the, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil, and milk in a large bowl and mix either by hand with a wooden spoon, or with a hand mixer until smooth.
  3. Add the almond meal, shredded coconut, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and mix well to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into waffle iron (if you don't have a non-stick waffle iron, make sure to grease yours before)
  5. Top with fresh fruit, and real maple syrup. Serve warm

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

CSA Time: What's in the box?

Today I received my first CSA share of the season and I have to tell you, words can't describe the sheer anticipation that lead up to the moment I walked into the Co-Op to pick up my box of goodies. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CSA's, the acronym stands for Community Supported Agriculture and they are a fantastic way to buy local, organic, seasonal produce directly from a farmer in your area. Once or twice a month (depending on the type of share you purchase) you pick up your box of goodies at a designated drop location where you bring home the freshest organic produce available. Not only are CSA's a great way to ensure you are receiving the freshest organic produce, you are also supporting your local farmers who are doing things the right way-And that's good for everyone!

Another fun aspect of a CSA is the exposure you get to things you have never tried before...Like stinging nettles.  I received a big bunch of this questionable leafy green in my share today and I am extremely curious and somewhat excited to figure out a way to prepare this outcast...So stay tuned!

What else did you receive in your share you ask?

Sorrel (I had no clue what this is.  Turns out it's a tart lemony green, delicious in pasta salads and it's lemony flavor also compliments lean meats such as fish)
Spring onions
Red radishes
A beautiful head of leafy green lettuce
Spring salad mix
Bundle of herbs-Sage, oregano, and thyme
Honey applesauce
3 dozen freshy laid duck eggs (I am now the envy of every serious baker imaginable)
Handmade goat milk soaps
                                     Seasonal wildflower bouquet

If you are at the point where you are totally jealous of all of the awesomeness I just listed, I completely understand.  The good news is, you too can sign up for a CSA!  Simply visit Local Harvest, a website dedicated towards the education of the importance of locally grown produce that happens to have a fantastic list of CSA's across the country.  You can also visit your local Co-Op or Natural Foods Store who will often have a list of participating farms in your area.

And for fun, check out the amazing farmers who provide my CSA share at L.T.D. (Living the Dream) Farms and follow them on Facebook!  They post impossibly cute videos of baby goats, geese, rabbits, piglets and show you what daily life is like on the farm.  I respect these two immensely in regard to the way they humanely raise their animals-If you are going to eat meat, these are the people you should be buying it from!

Stay tuned for fresh new recipes from my CSA share as well as monthly updates of "What's in the box?"

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cauliflower: Three Ways

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Sweet Jesus, she's writing a post on cauliflower...She's done gone and lost it." And there was a time in the not too distant past that I would have been right there with you. For me, cauliflower was always just kind of... "meh" and I more or less considered it broccoli's bastard cousin...less flavor, less pizazz, less likely to be invited to grandma's for dinner. But before your eyes glaze over and you write this post off as one that would put even the most caffinated person into a comatose-like sleep, just give me a chance.

It wasn't until I discovered the culinary versatility of this underrated vegetable that I began appreciating how much it has to offer. Upon learning about the nutrient content, I was surprised to find that it is not only low in sugar and carbohydrates, it's also high in dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and contains several phytochemicals that are extremely beneficial to our health.  These phytochemicals are known to slow the growth of cancerous cells, while a high intake of cauliflower has even been associated with a reduced risk of aggressive prostrate cancer.  So how boring is cauliflower now, huh?  Cauliflower can SAVE YOUR LIFE...Kinda like how T.C. always bailed Magnum P.I. out of trouble...Cauliflower is the T.C. of vegetables, ladies and gentlemen.

So now what? How do I eat the stuff?

I'm glad you asked.

Besides, chopping it up and throwing it raw into a salad (which is an excellent idea),  I've outlined three different ways you can enjoy Cauliflower in all of it's ass-kicking glory.

1). Garlic Cauliflower Mash:  Think mashed potatoes without all the carbs and starch.  First, grab a head of cauliflower, remove the greens, and cut off the stem.  Cut the cauliflower into florets and throw them in a steamer, covered for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Place the steamed cauliflower into a blender with about 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of sea salt and two cloves of pressed garlic. Pulse until blended to the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Be careful not to puree too long or you will have cauliflower soup, which although sounds interesting is not what we're going for here. In the corresponding photo I served the mash with baked cod and roasted asparagus.  The fun part about a mash is you can get creative, add some rosemary, or  if you really want to get fancy schmancy, use a dash of truffle oil to give a different spin and and make others think you're too hot to trot.

2). Cauliflower Rice: This recipe also calls for one head of cauliflower. Prepare the cauliflower much like you would in the previous recipe, but instead of steaming, pulse the raw florets through a food processor until they reach the consistency of rice.  This is where the magic happens.  I like to use my cauliflower rice in a stir fry, so I simply add whatever veggies I have available.  In the photo above, I used red onion, red pepper, garlic, and lacinato kale. To prepare, saute the chopped onion and pepper in about 1 TBSP of coconut oil over medium heat until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the chopped garlic and saute for another few minutes.

 Now, it's time to add in the cauliflower and the kale. Just a quick note: One head of cauliflower makes a lot of rice, I used about 2 cups for 2 servings of stir fry and froze the rest for use at a later date...I seasoned the stir fry with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and a little bit of coriander and pepper, but feel free to add whatever spices you like...Stir the mixture together, cover and turn heat to low.  Let simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft like rice. Serve warm and wonder how you were able to live so long without such a fun and simple way to eat your veggies!

3). Korean Fried Cauliflower: This little gem was the spawn of my husband's urge to satisfy an intense craving after a two-hour marathon of "Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives"...For those of you who watch the Food Network, you know exactly what I'm talking about, Willis. Since, I wasn't privy to the entire process, and although I'm not a huge fan of fried foods, I've decided to provide you with the link and let you do the rest-. Like everything in life, moderation is key and if you get to the point where you're jonesin' for something naughty, then a little fried cauliflower is probably better than a lot of other things. So knock yourself out. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!