Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Raw cookies, cereals and snacks part 3

In addition to cereals and cookies, there are many raw snacks and nibblers you can make in your dehydrator.   Above is pictured Peanut Butter Buckwheat Clusters starting with a shot of the buckwheat after I sprouted it, then the mixture as it was dehydrating, and finally the crunchewy, high fiber, high protein, and tasty snack when it was done.  Yum!  This snack is not only raw but gluten free and vegan as well.  It's one of my favorite snacks to make in the dehydrator.

*Peanut Butter Buckwheat Clusters*

3 cups of buckwheat sprouts
1 cup sunflower seeds, sprouted or un-sprouted
1/4 cup un-hulled sesame  seeds
1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins
1 large ripe banana
1/2 cup pitted and chopped soft dates
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup of raw honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
pinch of sea salt

In large bowl combine buckwheat, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and raisins.  In food processor,  process into a smooth paste the remaining ingredients.  Mix well with first ingredients and spoon onto teflex lined dehydrator sheets.  Dehydrate at 115 for about 12 hours or until crunchy (raisins will still be chewy).  Stir a couple hours into drying and flip about halfway thru drying time and remove teflex to allow it to dry on the screens.

While dried fruit on it's own is great to eat or as an addition to trail mixes it can also be turned into the above Dried Hemp Honey Apple Slices.   I didn't have the white chia so I used the black variety.  These are chewy, sweet and a fabulous source of fiber.  Kids love them!

If you keep a variety of these healthy snacks on hand you will soon forget about those chips and sugary snack-cakes.  Seriously, I don't even miss them!

I sincerely hope that everyone is enjoying a wonderful and safe holiday season!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fun foodie penpals!

FPP post Foodie Penpals 

Last month I heard about this group thing called Foodie Penpals.  You sign up for it and then you are paired with one person to send a food package to and one that you will receive a package from.  I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do and it would be interesting as well.   Who doesn't like gifts or surprises!  If you would like to know more about this group or how to participate please visit  The Lean Green Bean.

I was paired to receive a foodie penpal package from a gal named Leslie who co-incidentally also lives in the same city as I.   We tried to arrange a meeting in person but Leslie (who is a student at the local college) had exams and I had work and other matters which kept us both too busy.  We decided a drop off would work well for us both and I was very excited to find her package on my front porch.

Packed in a cute little canvas bag was an assortment of fabulous goodies!   Leslie chose items sure to put anyone in the holiday mood....candycane green tea, gingerbread granola, and blueberry licorice as well as a Larabar, some cute recipe cards to write on, and a nice handwritten personal note.  All of these things are healthy and tasty and I know I am going to enjoy them!

I  had the pleasure of sending Krista in Toronto a package.  This has been such a fun and positive experience for me and I am looking forward to participating again when it starts back up in January.  Thanks again Leslie, and good luck with your studies!

Update:  The gingerbread granola is divine and I can understand why Leslie told me it was her favorite!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Raw cookies, cereal and snacks part 2

Raw cereal is also something that I like to make in my dehydrator.  Kids love cereal and there's a little kid in all of us!   Making your own cereal is the best way of controlling how much sugar your kids (or you) are getting from their cereal breakfasts.  Parents want to give their children good things to eat and it's easy to believe that cereal is a healthy start to their kids busy day, but in reality most boxed cereals are high in sugar and sugar has no nutritional value.  Myself, I would question the quality of the other ingredients as well as I have read that most commercial cereals today have been made with GMO ingredients.  No frankenfood for me thanks!

Healthy cereal can also be tasty cereal.  It has to be or the kids won't eat it.   I have to warn you - if it tastes too good, you will be making a lot of it!  It not only makes a great breakfast but also a great snack. One of my favorites is chocolate buckwheat clusters, pictured below.  It's simple, crunchy and sweet enough, and features sprouted buckwheat and raw cacao.  Tastes great with some sliced bananas or raspberries and your favorite milk or nut milk.

Cacao Buckwheat Clusters
*Cacao Buckwheat Clusters*

1 cup (sprouted and dehydrated) buckwheat groats, soaked for 20 mins and drained well
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, or your fav chopped nuts, or sunflower seeds
5-6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 generous tablespoons cacao powder
generous pinch of sea salt

Mix well and spread on teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate 12 hours or overnight at 110 until crunchy.  Stir after a few hours to form clusters.  For last couple hours you can remove teflex sheet and continue drying on mesh sheet.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Store in airtight container.

This is another simple cereal using sprouted buckwheat and fresh strawberries,  It's light, crunchy and goes great as a topping for bananas and plain yogurt  (my mouth is watering just thinking about it).  Move over special k with strawberries - there's a new kid in town!

Strawberry Buckwheat Clusters
*Strawberry Buckwheat Clusters*

1 1/2 cups (sprouted and dehydrated) buckwheat groats, soaked for 20 mins and drained well
2 cups fresh, ripe strawberries sliced and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons raw honey
generous pinch of sea salt

Mix well and spread on teflex sheets and dehydrate 12 hours or overnight at 110 until crunchy. Stir after a few hours to form clusters.  Store in airtight container.  Serves 4-6.

There are many great recipes to be found for all kinds of granola's, baked and dehydrated, and also some shaped cereals if you  really want to get creative.  I like the simplicity of the above cereals and the fact that both require few ingredients and I get to control the quality of the ingredients!  Having your kids help in preparing home made cereals is a great shared activity and it's one way to get them to want to eat them instead of the boxed brands they are used to.

Next post I will be sharing some delicious raw snacks made in the dehydrator.  Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Raw cookies, cereal and snacks part 1


My mission here is to prove that eating "raw" doesn't have to be boring.  It is believed by some that cooking food destroys it's enzymes and nutrients and chemically changes food making it harder for us to digest and thus contributes to health problems. Raw food is the least processed of food.   Many people have found that following a raw food diet has helped them with digestive problems, has improved their energy levels and helped them to recover from serious illnesses.  Some have claimed it has reversed their type 2 diabetes, lowered their cholesterol and blood pressure, and some have even attributed it to curing their cancer!  One thing is for sure, a raw diet is alkalizing and an alkaline body is a healthy body.  Here is a good article about the benefits of alkalizing the body.

I am by no means a  raw foodist, nor am I vegetarian or vegan.  I have had a few people ask me if I eat meat.  Yes I do eat some meat, I see nothing morally wrong or unhealthy about eating meat, but I do believe it has to be organically and traditionally raised and should be eaten sparingly.  Even the Dalai Lama has been said to eat some meat for health reasons!  Having said this, I do try to follow a diet that is highly raw and vegan.  Most people who switch to a raw and unprocessed diet have found they were able to lose weight without really trying.

There is a misconception that a raw diet consists of only raw fruits and vegetables, but that's not true.  There are some raw diets that include meat , but I won't get into that aspect.  The most common raw diet is made up of plant matter and includes seeds, nuts and grains.  Food starts to lose it's nutritional value once it's heated over 115 degrees, and it's for this reason that many raw foodists use a dehydrator to "cook" their food.  When dehydrated properly, food retains 95% of it nutrition and enzymes.

Eating raw is anything but boring so get that image of nibbling on carrot and celery sticks out of your head.  There are many recipes available for things like pizza, cakes and deserts, breads, granola's, crackers, etc.  A favorite of mine is cookies!
Apple Walnut Raisin Chunkie Dunkie recipe here.
These chunkie dunkies  are absolutely delicious and I would kill for her other recipes!

These ones are pretty tasty too.

Lemon Pie Cookie Bites

 *Lemon Pie Cookie Bites*

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon zest
2 cups raw cashews, ground into flour
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup raw honey
pinch of sea salt

Process everything in blender or food processor until smooth.  Scoop onto mesh dehydrator screens and dry at 110 for 8-10 hours.

warning:  these are seriously tart and lemony!

These next cookies are sweetened with dates and have no added fats and can be left undehydrated and just stored in the fridge.  To make them healthier, I've used walnuts that I soaked and dehydrated.

Raw Brownie Bites

*Raw Brownie Bites*

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder - I used 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped; discard pod
dash sea salt
3/4 cup soft dates, packed
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons filtered water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

In food processor pulse and process using S blade the 1 1/2 cups walnuts, vanilla powder/pulp, and salt to make a rough flour.  Add dates and process till well mixed; add cacao and water and process till it forms a dough.  Remove processor blade and stir in the chopped nuts.  At this point you can form into balls and refrigerate or you can scoop onto dehydrator screens and dehydrate at 110 for about 12 hours.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For quite some time now I've wanted to get a food dehydrator, or rather, a GOOD food dehydrator.  A few years ago I bought an almost-new dehydrator off my neighbor but it wasn't a very good one and was more trouble than what it was worth.  Every couple of hours you had to rotate the food and flip it etc and it took forever to dry anything.  With 5 kids in the house at the time, who had time and energy to babysit a dehydrator?  I ended up selling it in a yard sale. 

I'd  long had my eye on the Excalibur brand as I had heard nothing but good things about them from people who owned them and the design made sense.  They may seem a little costly but in reality are less expensive than a stove/oven and if you are a raw foodie the cost is easily justified.  And if you're not?  Well, it is an excellent way to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables while still retaining their nutrients. Some organic produce is only available in season and some gets very expensive out of season so it is possible to save money by preserving it in season.

However, justifying this to yourself and justifying it to your spouse are two different things!  Since my spouse does not do the grocery shopping and really has no idea how much stuff costs that argument would not have worked - I had to find an angle that appealed to his understanding.   About 6 weeks ago I got the thumbs up and sent away for my Excalibur and have since then been dehydrating everything under the sun and we will be well prepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse.  He is utterly amazed at how light and compact dehydrated food is!

sweet potato chips

tomato slices with Italian seasoning

crisp seasoned zucchini chips

sweet pineapple
sprouted buckwheat

Besides the above I have also dehydrated red and green peppers, carrots, parsnips, celery, onions, hot peppers, apples, plums, shredded coconut, cranberries, cabbage, turnip, corn and a few other fruits/vegetables.  I've used it to make beef jerky, and to dehydrate my soaked nuts and sprouted grains.  I have a yogurt maker that I use, but I could take the trays out and culture my yogurt in it.  The fruits and vegetables that I've done can be re hydrated and used as you would fresh in recipes or you can just snack on them dry.  I especially love the pineapple - it's so sweet and chewy like a fruit roll-up!  I think the dried and seasoned tomato slices would make a great  pepperoni on a vegetarian pizza.  You can use them as you would sun-dried tomatoes.  The texture and concentrated flavor make them an interesting snack if you just want to eat them as is.

What I also like about the dehydrator is that you can use it to prepare food for a raw food diet.  I've made a couple of different kinds of raw granola as well as a few different kinds of cookies.  Delicious!  I will be posting some of these recipes at a later date

sprouted chocolate buckwheat granola

apple walnut raisin cookies
I am loving my dehydrator and will be enjoying many, many hours of usage!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted.  I have been busy or lazy or maybe a bit of both.   I don't know if this is an age related thing but it seems to me that time has sped up - it just zips by and I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want.   I can't remember the last time I was bored and had nothing to do!

 On this side of the big pond and north of the red white and blue border, it's the Thanksgiving long weekend and tho I'm not overly fond of turkey myself, for some reason my kids insist I cook one anyways and they all congregate at my house to partake of it.  With their spouses of course and at different times.  Two will come at dinner time, one will come by after his work shift around 8 tonight, and one will come over tomorrow for leftovers.  So between dinner time and now I have to prepare turkey, stuffing, a gallon of gravy,  mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, turnip, carrots, green beans and a pineapple upside down cake from scratch to go with the pumpkin pie (which I bought).  Thank goodness I had the foresight to make my cranberry sauce yesterday!

Since it is cranberry season and it's about the only time of the year you can find organic fresh cranberries in North America I decided to preserve a few.  I made a simple cranberry sauce and canned a few small jars for other occasions, and as well I dried a bunch in my dehydrator to use in salads and baking.  I did not add any sugar to the dried ones and they are quite tart but I like them that way -  natural.  I can soak them in fruit juice to plump them when I use them in salads.

The pineapple upside down cake did not turn out too bad.  I used a fresh pineapple I bought already cored.

What would a turkey dinner be without stuffing...this is how my mother and her mother before her made it.  In my family we always make the dressing outside of the turkey in a separate dish and we use torn fresh bread and cooked potatoes, mashed without milk.  I like to use the stuffing bread with the herbs baked into it.  The potatoes keep the stuffing moist while it bakes and prevents the fresh bread from "gumming" up into a doughy dense mass.  Then I add sauteed celery, onions, chopped sage and savory, salt and pepper to taste. Every family seems to have their own way to prepare this yummy traditional dish!

Thanksgiving (and other holidays) is not the time to be starting a diet or for flatbelly eating!  That doesn't mean it has to be a free-for-all either.  It's a time to celebrate the season's bounty with those close to us and we should enjoy all of our favorite foods on such an occasion.  Keep portions small and don't go back for thirds!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Adventures in Sprouting

I've been thinking a lot lately about sprouting my own lentils.  For a while now I have used a commercial sprouted organic lentil that's been sprouted and then dehydrated for a long shelf life.  I like the whole concept behind sprouting - it just makes so much sense to me.  Locked in a dormant state, each legume, grain or seed holds the potential to become a living plant.  Soaking brings them out of that dormant state and unlocks concentrated energy, vitamins and nutrients needed by the seedling to grow until it produces leaf to start photosynthesis.  The nutritional value is at it's highest in this state and because of their small size, you are able to eat hundreds of them in a serving verses eating hundred of mature fully grown plants.  Wow!

look at those happy sprouts!
                                        My first attempt at sprouting lentils was very successful!

pretty tricolored quinoa sprouts

You don't need expensive equipment to sprout - I used a couple of 2 liter mason jars with some cheesecloth held on with wide elastics.  In the photo below I have buckwheat and oat groats sprouting.  I've seen sprouting done in colanders and mesh nut milk bags.  It's as simple as soak, drain, then rinse and drain every 8 - 10 hours until sprouted  to your preference.  Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds all contain natural enzyme inhibitors which protect the seed by preventing germination in unfavorable conditions.  Soaking removes that inhibitor and allows the seed to germinate and release those wonderful nutrients.  While sprouting, it is important to rinse and drain the sprouts every 8-12 hours and to keep them ventilated so that they don't turn moldy or dry out.  Sprouting pretty much turns them into vegetables and the sprout eats up some of the starch.  Spouting allows you to eat them uncooked if you are a raw food vegan (or even if you're not!).  They are wonderful in salads and stir-fry's, and some even like them out of hand as a snack. You can find a dietary seed  sprouting guide here.

Are you wondering yet what I did with these grains I had sprouting?  Along with some sunflower seeds I sprouted I made fresh raw granola  (recipe below) and also, with the addition of soaked almonds, made  some "gRAWnola" in my dehydrator from a recipe I found here  at The Renegade Health Show site.  This next picture is the dehydrated version and the second is the fresh raw one.  Both are delicious and nutritious!

gRAWnola with dried cherries added

sprouted raw granola
*Sprouted Raw Granola*

1/2 cup buckwheat sprouts
1/2 cup oat groat sprouts
1/4 cup sunflower seed sprouts
2 Tbsp dried currents
2 Tbsp chopped pecans, toasted (see note)
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( or to taste)

Mix everything together.  Serves two.  Enjoy by itself or with almond or coconut milk.

Note:  toast pecans on small baking sheet for 1-8 minutes at 350F

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Benefits of Coconut

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of coconut oil and I try to substitute it in whatever I can whenever I can.  Most fats are pretty equal when it comes to calories - coconut oil 120, butter 101, olive oil 120, margarine 102, per tablespoon.  Coconut oil is what's know as a medium-chain triglyceride fat (MCTs) and is believed to aid weight loss because it is metabolized differently than other fats.  It is 90% saturated fat which has been given a bad rap, but research has confirmed that coconut oil can actually raise your good HDL cholesterol and has antioxidants similar to berries and dark chocolate.

Some still maintain that saturated fat contributes to heart disease but man has been eating saturated fat (butter, lard, coconut oil) for thousands of years and it's not until we started eating polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, safflower, canola) and margarine in the last century that heart disease became so prevalent. What's up with that?  It is also diabetic friendly because it helps to regulate blood sugar lessening the effects of the disease.  Weight loss has also be attributed to other coconut products, which contain some of the oil, like coconut flour, coconut cream, and coconut milk.

Just recently I made biscuits using coconut oil and coconut milk and they turned out wonderful.  I also substituted half of the white flour with whole wheat flour.  They were light, flaky, and tasty!  If your oil is in a liquid state, refrigerate until solid.

*Coconut Oil Biscuits*

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder  
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (chill if in liquid state)
3/4 cup coconut milk (canned)

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift or whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Cut chilled coconut oil into flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender.  Stir in coconut milk to form a soft dough; turn out onto floured surface.  Pat into a rectangle about 1/2 " thick.  Cut into 12 squares and carefully transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.   Bake for 15 - 17 minutes.   Cool slightly and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Today is the second day of my one week paid vacation.  It's not enough time to go anywhere, not that I really have the desire to go anywhere anyways -  I am a stay close-to-home body!  Some people really enjoy traveling but I'm not one of them and I am content looking at pictures of far away places.  The older I get the less I want to be bothered with things like traffic, airports, luggage and tourists!  I can always find something to do around here and am rarely bored.  I'm going to use this time off to do some things I can never find time for when I'm working.  I do think it's wonderful for people who enjoy it  to travel the world and experience different places, and I wish them safe travels!

I've been thinking about quiche the last couple days but didn't really feel like making pie crust and didn't want to go out to the grocery store so I decided to make a mock quiche with the ingredients I had on hand.  It's a cross between a quiche and a frittata.  There were a few vegetables left from the weekend that I wanted to use up and they worked out fine for what I wanted.  I had an ear of corn, some zuchini, green onions, red peppers and some cheddar cheese.

You can use any combination of vegetables that you like, your favorite cheese, and you can also add bacon, ham or chicken if you want meat in it.

If using zuchini like I did, grate and lightly sprinkle with salt and allow it to drain in a sieve for about half an hour to remove excess water.

                                I may have let it brown a little too much, but it was still very good.

*Quick and Easy Mock Quiche*

3 cups  chopped vegetables of your choice - I used corn, zuchinni, green onions and red bell pepper
1 cup cheese, shredded - I used organic old cheddar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
a couple dashes of tobasco (hot pepper sauce)

1/2 cup chopped ham, cooked bacon or chicken, if using 

Preheat oven to 400F.  Coat a 9" pie dish with cooking spray or lightly grease with butter.

Spread vegetables in bottom of prepared pie dish.  (If using meat, sprinkle over vegetables.)  Sprinkle grated cheese over vegetables.  In med bowl whisk remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables and cheese.  Bake for 40-45 minutes on center rack. 

Quiche is done when a knife inserted comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

                                       I served mine with pan-fried white and sweet potatoes!

Monday, July 30, 2012

For the past year or so I've been practicing clean eating.  Clean eating (by my definition) is following a whole and unprocessed (or minimally processed) and mostly organic diet.  My reasons for doing this is to heal my body of any inflammation or disease that may be occurring and to lose the 10 extra pounds I've been carrying around since I quit smoking and went through menopause.  I think I am successful at least 80% of the time!  So the question remains - has it made any difference?

I don't honestly know.  I just had a physical and blood work done and everything is just great.  Other than age related arthritis and work related repetitive strain injuries I am perfectly healthy and disease free and I'm not on any medications.  So why don't I feel like a million bucks?   I've read that it takes awhile to rid your body from years of accumulated toxins and that it can make you feel ill as this happens.  I don't know if there is any truth in that but it could be a possibility.  Maybe I just expect too much.

I haven't lost that 10 lbs. but on the other hand, I haven't gained any weight either and I get to eat lots of food!  It is hard to fit 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day as well as protein and grain products.  It really is a lot of food.  Times when I do slip up and have something not so good (like potato chips or bought cookies) I don't feel very satisfied and find myself looking for something else to snack on.  I can see how a calorie dense, over processed diet can lead to over eating and weight gain.

In the last year I've started eating a lot of new foods that I would have never thought to try or that I would enjoy.  I read somewhere that  a taste bud has a lifespan of about ten days and you have anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 of them so after a couple of months it is possible for your tastes to change.  After eating this way now for so long I have found that I no longer enjoy the sweet, salty or fatty foods I used to and that's a good thing!  So just remember this when trying new foods and give them a couple of try's before you write them off.

I think the sad truth is that for most women my age and older it is a battle just to prevent weight gain let alone take some off.  Our bodies were designed to store weight, especially around the middle, for lean times and for childbearing.  We needed those stored calories and additional calories to get us through pregnancies, childbirth and breast-feeding.  (And let's not forget all the running around after our kids and husbands!)   By the time we hit menopause we've already lost the war against gravity, and the loss of hormones has caused us to lose muscle mass so what little muscle we have left sags.  It's not a pretty picture and a good case for full-body spanx! (Spanx is like spandex on steroids) As we age our metabolism slows down.  It's this loss of muscle and slower metabolism that keeps us from losing weight and calorie-restriction is not the answer.  Restricting calories can actually cause us to lose muscle and loss of muscle causes slower metabolism - it's a vicious cycle.

The obvious solution is to increase your muscle and thereby increase your metabolism.  Aerobic exercise is great for many reasons but in addition to this, strength/resistance training is needed.  The aerobics will get the blood and heart moving and will burn calories but resistance training will build muscle and the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be.  People with a high muscle mass burn more calories just sitting than someone with a low muscle mass.  Alternate between these two types of exercise - maybe brisk walking or cycling one day and weight lifting the next.  I kid you not!  I'm not telling you to go out and join a gym or buy a Bowflex although both are excellent ideas if you are seriously going to make use of them.  You can buy a set of hand weights relatively cheap or even fashion a set with what you have on hand  (a water bottle filled with sand or a can of soup come to mind) and do a search online for muscle building exercises..  Before engaging in any exercise program it would be wise to first consult with a physician. 

I realize that some people have physical limitations to what they can do and it is important for them to start gently with exercise.  Some communities offer aquatic exercise programs as well as tai chi and yoga.  What's great about yoga is that you only have to go as far into a pose as your body will allow without causing injury, and it still benefits you!  You will also find that with time your flexibility improves and you can go further into the pose.  Yoga is something you can practice in the privacy of your own home but I would recommend starting out with an instructor who can correct your pose/alignment while you learn.  It's a gentle way to strengthen your muscles.

I think I'm going to have to break down and start using that dang Bowflex I bought last winter that's just sitting in my storage room if I'm ever going to lose that 10 lbs. !  I'll have to let  you know how that goes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recently I thought I would use my bread machine - three years or so is a long enough hiatus I think.  I don't eat much bread myself usually.  I couldn't find the manual that came with it but with a little help from the Mr. we were able to decode the functions by pushing the buttons a few times.  My first attempt was a spelt brown bread in which I substituted coconut oil for the canola oil and halved the amount of molasses because I thought it called for too much.  It turned out good, nice taste, a dense bread, but not very interesting and I was glad I did not add all the molasses.  Since it was to be my test bread I did not bother to take pictures.

After that small success I got a little cocky and thought I would really experiment with a few different ideas I had that would make it healthier and more interesting.  I have to say that I am not the bread maker I thought I was going to be because after 3 hours and 40 minutes it was a complete flop.  That's all I have to say about that.

It was time to redeem myself while at the same time satisfying the Mr.'s bread-lovin' heart.  I found a recipe from a well known flour manufacturer, Robin Hood, for banana yeast bread, and other than using coconut oil instead of canola, followed it to a T.  It used more white flour than whole wheat which went against my grain but excluding yeast the ingredients were all organic and that should count for something!

While it's a little misshapen it had a nice light texture and banana flavor though it is not sweet or cake-like as a quick bread would be.  It was good toasted and spread with crunchy peanut butter.  Since it was my desert day and I had no deserts in the house (not even a cookie I kid you not!) I had two slices. : )

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The challenge...

The challenge was to make a tasty salad out of this grain mix I picked up at the grocery store last week.  This mix has 5 grains - spelt, barley, rice, kamut wheat and whole oats.  I just cooked it according to the package instructions.  Approximately 5 cups cooked.

The add-ins:  grated carrot(1), finely chopped green onions(4), red peppers(1), celery(1 stalk), parsley(small hand full), dried cranberries(1/2 cup), toasted chopped walnuts(1/2 cup). 

Toss well with maple balsamic dressing, recipe below.  I think this salad rose to the challenge, but I would be interested to hear other opinions should any be brave enough to try making it or altering it to their taste!  I think it would be great served on a few baby spinach leaves.

*Maple Balsamic Dressing*

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon, juiced)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Whisk vigorously in a large measuring cup and mix well with salad ingredients.        


Monday, July 2, 2012

Did you eat your water today?

Now that summer is here and with it hot temperatures, it's very important to keep properly hydrated.  So just how much water do we need?  We've been told all our lives that we need to drink 8 glasses a day.  I've never been able to drink that much water in addition to the coffee, tea, milk, juice, etc that I may drink in a 24 hour period.  Now the experts are saying that it doesn't just have to be water, but any fluid, as well as the water in our foods.  Now that makes sense to me because just about all living things are made up of approximately 70% water.  The human body's cells are 65-90%, living plants are up to 85%, and the world itself is between 70 and 75%.  I find this interesting.

Dehydration seems to be a problem  many suffer from be it headaches, fatigue, or constipation.  I think a big part of the problem lies with our food.  It's so over processed that all of the natural water in it has been processed out.  Many people live off a fast food diet and I doubt they get much water out of burgers or fries!  We should try to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while they are in season to help keep ourselves hydrated and replenish  nutrients.  Since it's hard to know just how much water I'm getting I let thirst be my guide and drink more if it's warmer or I'm exerting myself more.

As part of my lunch that I take to work I usually include some fresh cut up vegetables which I eat throughout the day and sometimes on the ride home.  I've had people call it my diet food and I always say if by diet food you mean part of a healthy diet know, get your 5 - 10 a day then yes it's my diet food.  Raw vegetables afford you the time to think about what you are eating - the bright colors, the intense flavors and the cool crunchy textures.  Not only is it a healthy way to get some of your daily water, but it stimulates the gums and cleans plaque off your teeth and it gives your jaw exercise and your taste buds a workout!

Not the best picture, but yesterday I made a sweet potato lentil chili from an excellent lentil recipe site found here  There are lots of interesting recipes which I plan to try out because I love lentils!

I did enjoy this chili - while it may not quite satisfy my meat-lovin' spouse, I found that it had a texture similar to chili's with ground beef and I did not miss the meat at all.

In keeping with the chili theme I decided to make some simple salsa.  You can make it hot or not depending on your taste - we like it hot so I used 2 jalapenos.

*Simple Salsa*

1 540ml can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 large sweet onion,  finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 - 3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients and let chill for an hour or two before serving.