July 18, 2009

Millet and Quinoa Breaded Chicken Strips

3 chicken breasts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Slice chicken breasts into small strips (1 inch by 2 inch). Mix minced garlic with lemon juice in a shallow dish. Add chicken and marinate 1 hour (or overnight is fine too). Place millet, quinoa and salt in grinder (coffee grinder or magic bullet work well). Blend until they resemble a course flour. Roll marinated chicken strips in the millet and quinoa mixture. In cast iron pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat for one minute. Add the breaded chicken and cook until golden on each side (about three minutes for each side). Enjoy!
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Banana Bread II

Gluten-free and a wonderful change from wheat.

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3)
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons milk (organic cows milk or unsweetened soy)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup agava sweetener (or honey)
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Beat together mashed bananas and eggs. Add butter, milk and sugars. Mix until well blended. Mix dry ingredients together and gently fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not over mix. They work great as mini muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 -15 minutes if doing muffins. Otherwise, bake for 30-35 minutes if using an average bread pan.
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July 17, 2009

Black Bean and Barley Salad

This is great to make and keep in your refrigerator (for up to a week). Anytime you make a salad mix the black bean and barley salad into it and you have an instant dressing and a complete protein meal!

3/4 cup barley, uncooked
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Place 2 cups of of water with the uncooked barley into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 45 - 60 minutes. Combine lime juice and the next 8 ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly and shake well. Mix the beans and cooked barley into a bowl and pour the dressing over them. Stir and let marinate 8 hours in the refrigerator.

I made a salad with; lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado, zucchini, chopped almonds and chopped onion. Then I mixed in a scoop of the black bean and barley salad. It was fantastic. Enjoy!
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July 14, 2009

Chickpea Flour Brownies

Complements of: www.foodandspice.blogspot.com
A gluten-free pure indulgence!

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup dark chocolate
3 eggs
1 cup of sugar (I used 1/2 cup sucanate and 1/2 cup white sugar)
2/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2/3 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour

In a small saucepan melt butter and dark chocolate together. Remove from heat and cool a few minutes. Beat eggs and sugar together. Add the butter and chocolate mixture and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 8x8 (or 9x9) pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!
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Baking and Cooking Wheat-Free

Today you can buy many wonderful varieties of grains. If you can't eat wheat because of the gluten or any other reason there are a wide range of grains/flours you may be able to eat. A favorite alternative to wheat is often spelt.

Spelt: Many people who can't eat wheat gluten can handle spelt. Spelt has gluten, but different form of gluten. If cooking with spelt I just replace 1 cup of wheat flour (white or whole wheat) with 1 cup of spelt flour (white or whole spelt). It works perfectly and spelt is an amazing alternative.

Other wheat alternatives you will see me use on my blog are: brown rice, teff, buckwheat, corn, kamut, barley, rye, oats, millet or quinoa.

Check out my "baking and cooking with various flours" post or "baking and cooking with various grains" post.

Also, be sure to check out my recipes listed under my post "wheat-free".

I highly recommend all people to cook without wheat a few times a week. Are bodies will thank us!

July 13, 2009

Baking and Cooking Gluten-Free

I thoroughly support baking and cooking gluten-free recipes a few times a week. The simple reason for cooking gluten-free in our kitchen is variety! Our bodies crave variety. Really, enough wheat already! ;)

Gluten-free grains/flours include:

These grains can be a pain to bake with. They lack gluten. Gluten is the protein in wheat, spelt, kamut, barley, rye and oats that help give texture.

Most often baking gluten-free also requires the use of tapioca flour, xanthan gum, sorghum, potato starch/flour or arrowroot. I do not emphasize the use of these additional ingredients. The gluten-free recipes on my blog are meant to be simple and easy to replicate (and truly tasty!).

There are so many wonderful websites, blogs and books that share being able to bake and cook strictly gluten-free and be successful. The propose I have is to share gluten-free recipes that anyone can succeed at easily. Come on mix up those grains a bit and give wheat a break a few times a week!

July 11, 2009

Baking and Cooking With Various Grains

"Whole grains are so very simple and bland they provide a blank canvas on which to create culinary wonders with taste, color, aroma & texture". (A quote from Joanne Saltzman the founder and director of the Natural School of Cookery)

Grains are wonderful. My goal for my family is to incorporate as much variety into our diets as possible. This includes grains. I like to keep recipes simple with a down home taste. I hope that through my sharing of easy to reproduce recipes I can share the great world of grains with others. It is part of a healthy lifestyle when our bodies get to experience processing a wide range of grains!

You can use whole grains in savory dinner salads, sweet dessert salads, casseroles or add them to your soups and stews.

Many times a recipe calls for a grain to be cooked before adding it to the dish. Here is a list of our favorite grains and various cooking methods you can use with each grain.

Millet: Millet is one of the oldest foods know to humans.
To Bake- Use 1 cup millet to 3 1/2 cup water and place in oven at 350 degrees for 45
To Steep
- Place 1 cup of millet in sauce pan and add 3 cups of water. Bring the millet to
a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 25-30 minutes.
Boil- Place 1 cup of millet in 8 cups of water and boil for 20 minutes.

After cooking millet I like to spread the grain out on a cookie sheet to cool.

Quinoa: Quinoa was to the Incas as buffalo were to American Indians!
To Bake- Rinse with warm water to remove the saponin (bitter outer coating). Use 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups of water and place in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
To Steep- Rinse with warm water to remove the saponin (bitter outer coating). Place 1 cup of quinoa in 1 3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 15-20
minutes, until all the water is absorbed.
To Boil- Place 1 cup of quinoa in 8 cups of boiling water. Boil for 7 minutes.

After cooking quinoa I like to lay out on a cookie sheet to cool.

Brown Rice
: Brown rice still has the germ and bran layers (white rice has these removed).
Bake- Use 1 cup of brown rice to 2 1/3 cups of water and place in oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.
Steep- Place 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 30 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
Boil- Not recommended.

Kamut: Kamut is a relative of wheat. Apparently kamut was abandoned 2,000 years ago after Romans & Greeks brought higher-yielding strands of wheat to Egypt, just recently (the last 50 years) kamut has been making a comeback.
Bake- Use 1 cup kamut to 3 cups of water and place in oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Steep- Place 1 cup of kamut in 2 1/2 - 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 45 -60 minutes.
Boil- Not recommended.

Pearl Barley: I would recommend steeping pearl barley. Place 1 cup of barley with 3 cups of water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook about 45 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

Hulled Barley: Start with soaking hulled barley for 2-3 hours. Then place 1 cup of hulled barley with 4 cups water into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let cook for 1 hour or until all water is absorbed.

Spelt Berries: Start with soaking spelt in 2 1/2 cups of water for 2-3 hours (or overnight). Then place 1 cup of spelt with 2 1/2 cups of water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let cook for about 45 minutes or until all water is absorbed.

Oats: My favorite way of cooking oats starts with using extra thick rolled oats. Place 2 cups of water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn off burner and add the oats. Stir and then let sit for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. This makes a wonderful oatmeal or to add to breads!

Note: To increase the flavor of a grain you can dry roast the grain first before cooking it. To dry roast a grain you place the uncooked grain in a frying pan on medium high heat and toast for a few minutes. This helps bring out the flavor of the grain.

Baking and Cooking With Various Sweetners

Natural sweeteners have undergone minimal processing. Unlike refined sweeteners, they retain much of the minerals and vitamins needed to properly metabolize the sugars they contain. These vitamins and minerals are the very nutrients that help to metabolize the sugar you consume, therefore preventing the "sugar blues". -The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

I am going to start with our three favorite sweeteners we like to use most frequently when baking in our kitchen; honey, maple syrup and Medjool dates. I like to keep the "whole foods" way of thinking even when it comes to sweeteners! Honey, maple syrup and Medjool dates are whole foods that happen to be monosaccharides (simple sugars).

Honey: Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners. It is composed of glucose and fructose. Yes, it is bee spit, but non the less it is a whole food. It is packed full of nutrients including some minerals and B vitamins. Honey is sweeter then white sugar (3/4 cup of honey = 1 cup of white sugar). We love, love baking with honey to sweeten our cookies, muffins and other treats.

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is the spring sap that starts flowing from Maple tree roots to its branches, bringing nourishment for budding leaves. Can you imagine the minerals and vitamins that concentrate this wonderful sweetener! If you are interested in the "grades" of maple syrup available you can check out this website for some great information: http://www.massmaple.org/grading.html. Like honey we love using maple syrup as a sweetener. The one negative is that maple syrup tends to be a bit spendy so I make sure when we use it I know the recipe is going to be worth it.

Whole Medjool dates:  Medjool dates are one of my favorite things to use as a sweetener!  They are typically placed into a food processor and blended until smooth.  It is best to get a fresh as possible.  My favorite brand of Medjool dates is,  Bard Valley Natural Delights (organic).  I will place in refrigerator after opening them.   Yes, each Medjool date has about 66 calories (29 grams of sugar!).  However, it is a raw whole food and I am going to stand behind the beauty of a whole food whether it is a high sugar food or not, because a whole food is meant to be enjoyed!!

Check out all my yummy cookie, muffin, bread and various other recipes all using honey, maple syrup or Medjool dates as the main sweetener! I don't call them "sugar-free", but they are free of white processed sugar and corn syrup.

Note: We tend to use brown sugar in low amounts in some recipes. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses mixed back into. (Molasses is taken out of sugar cane to create "white" sugar) Brown sugar is still very processed, but used in minimal moderation it is a treat and when baking a good old fashion batch of chocolate chip cookies splurging is a necessity.

We rarely use white sugar (ok maybe when baking a birthday cake and buttercream frosting we make sure we have white sugar on hand!). When you get use to baking/cooking without it you rarely miss it. When you want to use "white sugar" try using Sucanate or date sugar as whole food alternatives instead. I don't use these sugars very often, because I favor honey and maple syrup, but experiment and see what you like best!:

Sucanate: Sucanate is dried cane juice (whole cane sugar). How is Sucanate different from white sugar? Sucnanate still has all the molasses left in it. It is a whole food with minimal processing done to it. You'll need to get use to a slightly different taste and texture, but it is a huge difference nutritionally compared to white sugar that has been stripped of all nutrients. Just replace 1 cup white sugar with 1 cup Sucanate in any recipe. It does change the taste and texture of your recipe slightly, but for the better!

Two last sugars to mention are Brown Rice Syrup and Agave Nectar.  These two are refined and I don't use very often if at all: (both these definitions I took out of The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.)

Brown Rice Syrup: Brown Rice Syrup is made from brown rice that has been soaked, sprouted and cooked with an enzyme that breaks the starches into maltose.

Agave Nectar: Agave Nectar is a liquid sweetener naturally extracted from the Americana Agave, a cactus-like plant native to Mexico. It has an amber color and a very natural, light taste which is milder than honey or maple syrup. It dissolves easily and can replace honey, maple syrup or other liquid sweeteners cup for cup. Agave Nectar has a very high fructose content, and therefore a low glycemic index, so it absorbs slowly into the bloodstream. This is very popular at the moment, but I still prefer honey.

July 10, 2009

Peanut-Butter Granola Balls

Complements of: marthastewart.com , A super, yummy healthy snack
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter (or vegan margarine)
1 cup crisp rice cereal (you can find crisp brown rice cereal at a health food store)
1 cup rolled oats (or rolled quinoa for gluten-free)
1/4 cup dried fruit

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat honey, peanut butter and butter. Heat until smooth. Add the cereal, oats and dried fruit. Roll into tablespoon balls. Place in the refrigerator to set. It takes about 15 minutes. I like to store them in the freezer and eat them straight from the freezer. You could store in refrigerator too. Makes a great snack on a warm day (or a cool day :)). Enjoy!
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Apricot Cake

Adapted from: "Hopkins Healthy Home Cooking"

3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup apricot puree (about 6 small apricots)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda (this sounds like a lot, and your batter will be "bubbly", but don't fear)

Frosting I added to the recipe (not a vegan frosting)(indulgence factor and optional)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make cake: If using fresh apricots, blend unil smooth in the blender or food processor. Beat honey, oil, applesauce, vanilla, eggs and apricot puree in a large mixing bowl. Add in dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean. For frosting (again optional, but very good!) Beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed with a mixer for about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and very warm milk (hot to touch, but not boiling). Mix until blended (it will be "runny"). With a fork poke holes around the slightly cooled apricot cake. Pour warm frosting over the top. The frosting will mostly soak into the cake and make it extremly moist. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!
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July 8, 2009

Vegetable Pie


1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter milk

Add flour, butter, lemon zest and salt/pepper to a food processor. Pulse until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add lemon juice and butter milk. Process into dough. Roll out pastry into a 13 inch round and set aside.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion thinly sliced
12 ounces of squash (yellow or zucchini) sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
3/4 cup fresh shaved Parmesan cheese

Saute veggies for 7 minutes; stir in garlic, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scatter cheese onto pastry 2 inches from the edge. Arrange veggies on top; fold edges of pastry over the filling and brush with egg. Bake the tart 35 - 40 minutes. Slide onto rack and cool. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Enjoy!
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July 7, 2009

Vegetarian Burrito Filling

This is wonderful!

3/4 cup lentils
3/4 cup brown rice
4 cups vegetable broth (for non vegetarian use organic chicken broth)
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients into a pot. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for about 45 minutes. Stir it and if it is still a little soupy let it sit with the lid off on a very low temperature for 10 - 15 more minutes. Let cool another 15 minutes. Serve in a wheat or corn tortilla or hard taco shell. Top it with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, sour cream or anything else that you may put on a burrito. Enjoy!
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Carrot Cake

I made this recipe into cupcakes, but I think it cooks up better as a cake. I have also included below the recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.

1/2 cup butter (or oil)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup honey
3 eggs
2 cups grated carrots (about 6 carrots)
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used 1 cup spelt flour and 1 cup whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, mix oil, applesauce, vanilla, honey, eggs and carrots. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into 9x13" baking dish or into two round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup softened butter
finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Whip cream cheese and honey until very smooth. Spread on top of cooled cake and sprinkle with nuts. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
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July 1, 2009

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Complements of: Mennonitegirlscancook.blogspot.com

fresh spinach
4-6 pieces bacon
red onion thinly sliced
mushrooms, sliced
thawed frozen peas
boiled eggs, sliced and chopped
shredded mozzarella or Swiss cheese
toasted almonds

1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sour cream
salt & pepper

Chop the bacon into small pieces. Cook over medium heat until crispy. Place aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add mushrooms and red onion to sauce pan (with remaining bacon fat) and saute for 3-5 minutes. Mix all salad ingredients together. Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Enjoy!
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French Bread with Spelt flour

I add whole grain spelt flour to my french bread recipe.

2 cups unbleached white wheat flour
1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 1/2 teaspoon salts (garlic, onion, celery or sea salt)

Place yeast and warm water into a bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add sugar, flour and salts. Knead bread for 10 - 12 minutes (8 minutes if you are using a bread hook and a mixer). Let rise until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch down and form into loaf or place in a bread pan. Let double again (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 -30 minutes. When you remove the loaf from the oven, rub the to with butter and cover with a towel. Let sit 5 minutes. Uncover and let cool before slicing. Enjoy!
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Granola Bars II

Complements of: terrorinthekitchen.blogspot.com

2 3/4 cup thick rolled oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup butter softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips/m&m's or raisins

In a large mixing bowl butter, honey and brown sugar. Mix together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 22 minutes or until lightly brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut into bars. Let cool completely (I like putting them into the refrigerator). Remove when completely cooled. Enjoy!
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