Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes

This morning, I whipped up CaveMom’s recipe for Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes with Apples. I have a list of healthy pancake recipes that I’m trying, and so far this is one of my favorites. As far as I can see, these pancakes are perfect in every way!
   

My criteria for healthy pancakes is that they are gluten-free, free of processed sugar (maple syrup and raw honey are my go-to alternative sweeteners), made with organic and non-GMO ingredients, and are more flavorful and filling than your conventional, highly-processed version. 

Welcome to the world of pancake perfection...


Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch allspice (optional)
pinch nutmeg
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup coconut milk + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (you can substitute lemon juice)
1/4 cup applesauce (or shredded apple)
* 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato

  * Mashed Sweet Potatoes: In a small pan, bring a few inches of water to a boil. Dice a small sweet potato. Add sweet potato to pan, cover, turn heat to low and cook until soft. Do not undercook. Drain water and put potatoes in blender. Add back in a little of the potato water, and blend until smooth.

Directions
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolk, coconut milk, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. 

3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir well until texture is uniform. Fold in apple and sweet potato. 

4. Heat large skillet over medium-low heat. Melt coconut oil in pan. Spoon pancake batter (about 1 heaping tablespoon per pancake) into heated pan. Cook throughly on each side. 

5. Serve with butter (and/or more coconut oil), maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!
  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

I love Fall. I love watching the trees slowly morph into a magnificent display of color. I love the crisp, cool air, the soft trickling rain, the warm, sunny afternoons, the sound of the wind... and I’m in love with my new recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal! 


Pumpkin oatmeal has been on my list of things to try for quite some time. Our CSA had pumpkins last week, so it was the perfect opportunity. Using ingredients I had on hand, I came up with this delicious oatmeal recipe. The colors and flavors remind me of pumpkin pie... only better!




Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
(Original recipe by Terra)

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup puréed pumpkin 
1/2 - 1 teaspoon coconut oil (I love Dr. Bronner’s Coconut Oil)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
coconut crystals 
cinnamon
nutmeg (optional)
plain greek yogurt
maple syrup (I recommend grade B)
raw pecan halves, broken into smaller pieces


DIRECTIONS
1. Put oats into a bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let sit for about five minutes until the oats plump up. (While you're waiting, gather the rest of the ingredients and measure out the pumpkin purée.)

2. Pour out any extra water that was not absorbed by the oats and mix in a 1/2 teaspoon - 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.

3. Sprinkle a big spoonful of coconut crystals on top. Don’t stir! (I used close to 1 tablespoon. Adjust amount according to your taste.) Sprinkle a layer of cinnamon on top of the coconut crystals. Top with two or three big dollops of yogurt.

4. Drizzle a little bit of maple syrup on top of the yogurt (Not too much! You can always add more along the way) add the pecans.

5. Top with more cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Enjoy!



Add a glass of milk on the side and you’ve got a picture perfect--not to mention absolutely delicious--breakfast. A hint of pumpkin pie and comforting Fall flavors announces the beginning of yet another Holiday season! : )

I strongly encourage you to try this recipe as soon as you get the chance. Your taste buds will thank you.

HAPPY OCTOBER!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chocolate Pudding


Who ever imagined that chocolate pudding had the potential to be super healthy AND super delicious at the same time! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients
2 ripe avocados, peeled
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup raw cacao powder 
(I used Dagoba's cacao powder for this recipe.) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
organic cane sugar, to taste (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)
fresh berries (optional)




Directions
1. Scoop avocados out of skin and place in blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetness to taste: Add more honey or sugar if needed and blend again.

2. Pour pudding into serving vessels. Chill in the refrigerator (or freezer, if your impatient) until nice and cold. 

3. Grab a spoon, it's time to eat! Eat plain, sprinkle chocolate chips on top, or serve with a bowl of fresh berries.



This chocolate pudding makes for a great snack or dessert! It's a convenient and delicious way of giving your body the nutrients it deserves. In particular, the coconut oil, honey, avocado, and sea salt contain important vitamins, fats, minerals, and other health promoting components. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peach Inspired Recipes

It's that perfect time of year for soft, sweet, juicy peaches. I've really only eaten peaches by themselves, in pies, or as jam, jelly, and preserves. This week I discovered two new ways to use peaches.

Before getting started, here's a couple of tips to make sure your food is as delicious as can be:
  • Buy organic. (Click HERE for more information!)
  • Make sure everything is ripe... but not too ripe! Try to buy fruits that are at the same stage of ripeness so they will be more likely to ripen at the same time.
  • Use a sharp knife. Otherwise things get mushy. Especially peaches!

Peach Discovery Number One
(serves 2)


This recipe is inspired by Kathy Patalsky's Peach Basil Avocado Balsamic Wrap

Peach & Avocado Wrap:
  • 2 small peaches, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • fresh lemon juice from half a lemon
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small chunks
  • 2 large wraps (I used Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Tortillas)
  • salt and pepper
  • balsamic dressing:
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp mustard
    • 1 or 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion


  1.  Prepare the balsamic dressing. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and chopped onion. (You can whisk the ingredients together using a spoon or a fork.)
  2. Slice peaches and set in bowl. Drizzle lemon juice on top and toss gently to coat.
  3. Prepare basil and feta cheese. Warm the tortillas on a large skillet.
  4. Divide peaches, avocado, basil, and feta onto tortillas. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle balsamic dressing on top. Roll up tortilla and enjoy.

Peach Discovery Number Two
(serves 2)


Peach Summer Salad:
(Original recipe by Terra)
  • 1 large peach, cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 mango, cut in 1/4 - 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 - 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled or cut into small chunks
  • 1 or 2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 - 6 big leaves of lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • balsamic dressing:
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 - 1 tsp mustard
  1. Prepare balsamic dressing; whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard.
  2. Cut peach, mango, and avocado into 1/4 - 1/2 inch chunks. Combine in bowl. 
  3. Add chopped onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently.
  4. Prepare lettuce and divide between two plates. Scoop peach, mango, and avocado mixture on top of lettuce. Drizzle balsamic dressing on top. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Gluten-Free Scones

I’m always up for the challenge of creating healthy recipes for things that would otherwise be not-so-healthy. I’ve been trying to come up with a good recipe for scones lately, and I think this recipe put me on the right track! 


These scones were inspired by a recipe I found on the From Scratch Club website. They're vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, totally delicious, and good for you.                                    
      
INGREDIENTS
50 g oat flour
50 g chickpea flour
40 g coconut flour 
30 g almond flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
45 g coconut oil
55 g raw honey
1/3 c. water (or milk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

DIRECTIONS
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 
2. Add the coconut oil. Use your fingers (or a pastry cutter) and combine until the texture is uniform. 
3. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix 1/2 to 2/3 cup of add-ins such as chocolate chips, raisins, or fruit. (I split the dough into two parts and added 1/3 cup chocolate chips to one half and 1/3 cup raisins to the other half.)
4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, shape scones into two 1 inch thick squares. Cut each square twice, diagonally, to make a total of eight scones. 
5. Bake scones at 400° F for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. (I know, it's hard to be patient for 10 whole minutes. However, I can almost guarantee that if you're not patient, the scones will crumble when you try to move them... I'm speaking from experience.)




Next time I might try adding some cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg to the dough. If you're feeling adventurous you might want to give it a try!




These are great with a glass of milk or hot tea. Let me know how they turn out!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Food: Organic or Conventional?

I wrote the following article for a school assignment. Food is an important part in everyone's life. I find that many people don't think about what they are eating ar whether it's truly nutritious for them. Until recently, I didn't care or give much thought to what I ate either. Now I'm becoming aware that how food is grown and prepared makes a big difference in many ways. Eating food that's grown and prepared in a way that maximizes nutritional qualities is one of the most important parts of becoming strong and healthy.

Before the twentieth century, all food was organic. In comparison, conventional farming methods are relatively new. In recent years, many of our ancestor’s traditions, such as the task of growing and preparing our own food, have been slowly squeezed out of our culture, and in some cases, lost altogether.

Nowadays, there seems to be a general idea among most people that organic farming practices are inefficient and do not produce high enough yields to feed the planet’s rapidly growing population. Big businesses, such as Monsanto, are trying to convince everyone that the only solution to “end world hunger” is to promote genetically modified crops and conventional farming techniques. However, it turns out that some of these so called “advancements” in today’s farming practices are not really advancements at all.

A thirty year research project conducted by the Rodale Institute lead to the conclusion that organic farming practices are far superior in every way to conventional farming practices. The following provides a sampling of Rodale’s discoveries comparing the two approaches.

- Organic yields match, if not surpass, conventional yields.
- Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
- Organic farming systems build rather than deplete the soil of organic matter, creating a more sustainable system.
- Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.
- Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.
- Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

Conventional farming systems use significant amounts of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and chemical fertilizers. These toxic chemicals are designed to kill, and are harmful to our health and the overall health of the planet. Chemicals used in conventional farming have been found to cause a gradual build up of toxins in the body causing weight gain, headaches, lack of energy, digestive problems, and other serious health issues such as allergies and cancer. Rinsing off produce is not enough to keep us from ingesting these toxic chemicals. The best way to avoid ingesting toxins from our food is to purchase organic produce, or even better, grow our own!

Organic food is far more nutrient rich than its conventional counterpart. Since food gets its nutrients from the soil, it is important to have healthy soil in order to grow healthy food. When we eat food, our goal should be to provide our body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and strong. If we are eating conventionally grown food from soil that has been depleted of nutrients, lacking essential microbes, and doused with all kinds of chemicals, how can we expect to keep ourselves healthy? On the other hand, organic farming techniques actually improve soil health, providing us with more nutrient rich foods.

Many conventionally grown foods are irradiated. Irradiation is the process of treating a product with gamma rays, x-rays, or high voltage electrons in order to kill potentially harmful bacteria and parasites, delay sprouting, and increase shelf life. Irradiated foods may appear to be fresh, but in reality, they are far from it. Though some harmful bacteria is killed, irradiation is useless against certain viruses and disease such as hepatitis, anthrax, and mad cow disease. In the process, the food’s components that are vital to sustaining a healthy body are altered or destroyed. Irradiation damages the food’s vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, meaning less nourishment for the consumer. As an interesting point of fact, laboratory animals who were fed irradiated food suffered fatal internal bleeding, cancer, reproductive problems, mutations, organ malfunctions, stunted growth, vitamin deficiencies, and premature death. Irradiation generates harmful chemical compounds that are known to promote the growth of cancer and cause genetic and cellular damage. Once food has been irradiated, it becomes practically useless, if not harmful to our bodies. Thankfully, organic food, by law, cannot be irradiated.

A common argument against organic food is that it’s too expensive. Consider that your options are to buy organic food that keeps your body functioning properly, or to pay expensive medical bills later in life. When you compare those two ideas, buying organic seems like the preferable, less expensive option. Organic food is worth it.

Sources:
1. Cummins, Ronnie. “Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods and Crops: Why We Need a Global Moratorium.”  In Motion Magazine. 
    29 August 1999. March 2012. <http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/geff4.html>
2. “The Farming Systems Trial.” Rodale Institute. March 2012. <http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/files/FSTbookletFINAL.pdf>
3. “Food Irradiation.” Department of Health and Human Services. 11 October 2005. March 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/>
4. “Food Irradiation: Why Vegetarians Should Care.” Veggie Date. March 2012. <http://www.veggiedate.org/irradveg.cfm>
5. Garvin, Christine. “Are Organic Nuts Healthier?” LIVESTRONG. 26 May, 2011. March 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/398636-are-organic-nuts-healthier/>
6. “Irradiated Foods.” McVitamins. March 2012. <http://www.mcvitamins.com/irradiated_foods.htm>
7. Loaharanu, Paisan. “Irradiated Foods.” The American Council on Science and Health. May 2003. March 2012. <http://www.acsh.org/doclib/20040331_irradiated2003.pdf>
8. Stevenson, Heidi. “Food Irradiation, Neurological Damage, Cats, Pseudoscience, and Us.” Gaia Health. 30 April 2009. March 2012. <http://gaia-health.com/articles/000049-Cat-Irradiation-Food.shtml>
9. Stevenson, Heidi. “Food Irradiation Supports Agribusiness, Not Health.” Gaia Health. 2 May 2009. March 2012. <http://www.gaia-health.com/articles51/000051-Food-Irradiation.shtml>
10. “What’s Wrong with Food Iradiation.” Organic Consumers Association. February 2001. March 2012. <http://www.organicconsumers.org/irrad/irradfact.cfm>
11. Ysanne. “Irradiated Supermarket Organics?” Organic Foodee. March 2012. <http://www.organicfoodee.com/emails/irradiated/>
12. “7 Major Reasons to Go Organic.” Natural Bias. 10 January 2009. March 2012.  <http://naturalbias.com/7-major-reasons-to-go-organic/>

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chocolate Nut Clusters

These chocolate nut clusters are a simple, elegant ending to any meal. They are also a great alternative to a candy bar (which has zero nutritional benefits) when you are in need of something delicious and nutritious to indulge in. Imagine yourself biting into the perfect combination of raw nuts and dried fruit smothered in creamy dark chocolate. Pure bliss!


The quality of the ingredients makes a big difference in the final product of practically everything. Knowing that, I would encourage you to spend a few extra dollars on the raw organic nuts, organic dried fruit, and organic chocolate. (Sorry Hershey's, I'm afraid you are no longer needed here!)

Buying Nuts:
I always buy raw organic nuts. I absolutely adore them. (I must admit I used to hate nuts, especially walnuts... but now, I eat them pracitcally every day.) Raw nuts provide more nutrition than roasted nuts, plus they're delicious! I can usually find a good selection of quality raw organic nuts in the bulk section of my grocery store. The potential problem with buying nuts from bulk a section is that the longer they sit around, the more likely they are to loose their freshness, dry out, or go rancid. If the nuts look unusually dry and shriveled or smell rancid, I would certainly pass them up. Luckily, my grocery store's bulk section is very busy, so things stay fresh and I rarely run into problems. Click here to for more information on raw nuts vs. roasted nuts.

Buying Dried Fruit: 
I prefer to buy dried fruit (organic, of course) that is unsulphured and has been sweetened with fruit juice, as opposed to evaporated cane juice or any other refined sugar. I also do my best to purchase dried fruit that is free of vegetable oil, hydrogenated oil, or industrially processed oils such as soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed, and canola. To learn more about oils and fats read "Know Your Fats" and "The Skinny on Fats" from The Weston A. Price Foundation's website.

Buying Chocolate:
I only purchase organic chocolate that does not contain any soy lecithin. Read "What Is Soy Lecithin And Why Is It In My Chocolate" to learn more. I've been very impressed with these brands of chocolate: Vivani, Equal Exchange, and Theo for chocolate bars, and Sunspire for chocolate chips. I'm sure there's a lot of delicious, organic, soy-free chocolate out there, so if you find any brands I need to try, definitely let me know. Happy chocolate hunting!


Chocolate Nut Clusters
Ingredients:

raw almonds
raw pecans
raw walnuts
raw cashews
dried cranberries
dried cherries
raisins
1 chocolate bar (about 3.5 oz)
1/2 bag chocolate chips (about 5 oz)
12-24 cupcake liners (I used a combination of standard-sized and miniature cupcake liners.)

Directions:
1) Place cupcake liners on a cookie sheet. Chop or break nuts into pieces and dived between cupcake liners. Each liner should get 1 or 2 of each nut. Dived dried fruit between cupcake liners. (The ratio of nuts to dried fruit should be about half and half.)
2) In a double boiler melt the chocolate bar and 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips. Stir continuously until the chocolate is smooth, shiny, and completely melted.
3) Spoon chocolate over nuts and dried fruit. Give each nut cluster a gentle stir. Make sure the nuts and fruit get coated in enough chocolate to keep them from falling apart later.
4) Put nut clusters in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until hardened. Transfer to an airtight container or ziplock bag and store in the fridge or at room temperature.