GF Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I posted ‘My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie – and it’s GF’ not too long ago.

You know what’s coming, now don’t you?  I was wrong.  I have a new best, although this is just an adaptation of the old best…… These are my best-est, BFF-est chocolate chip cookies – in fact they are right up there with my best cookies ever and are indeed GF, so the whole family is very excited about these cookies, and dang it, they are almost gone.

20150505_183509-001I hate it when everybody loves the cookies!  But what is not to love?  A little crispy on the outside – chewy on the inside, chocolate… do I need to go on?  Seriously, these are good cookies.

I also made these without nuts because 2 guests coming to a gathering that night don’t do nuts.  And I (who generally feel  that nuts are an essential ingredient in any worthwhile chocolate endeavor) loved them.  So the original recipe is here and the new recipe is………
Here!

GF Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

My Best GF chocolate chip cookies  – vegan as well!!
– adapted from I.S. at Yahoo Voices

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF baking mix (or your favorite GF baking mix)
½ c almond meal (or dried and pulverized leftover almond milk mash – that’s what I use)
½ c brown rice flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp tapioca starch or potato starch
1 tsp guar gum
½ c brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ c pure maple syrup
½ Tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup + 1/2 Tbsp organic neutral flavored oil (I used avocado)
½ – 2/3 c non-dairy chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix the dry except chips
In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chips, and stir until combined
Place ½ Tbsp scoops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.
Bake for  12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through until browning just a tad on the bottom.  Mine puffed up slightly and then started to deflate.  That’s when I took them out.
Cool on a wire rack before removing from tray.
As Little Sis always says….. and she comes from a very bright family I hear – Eat that chocolate cookie while it is still warm!!

And if you’d like some more chocolate chip recipes…. we happen to have a few others.

Zucchini Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Drops

Sanely Delicious Chocolate Cake

Did She Say Chickpeas & Chocolate?

Good Neighbor Chocolate Chip Cookies

Enjoy your chocolate chips when they roll or drop your way and come back and visit us soon.

Very Roasted, No Stank Broccoli

Wow – what an invitation, huh? What is stank anyway?  You know, it’s just a variation of stink.  Reach back into your Christmas time trivia and recall the Grinch song:

“The three words that best describe you
are as follows
And I quote
Stink, Stank, Stunk”

Of course Mr. Grinch has garlic in his soul which is in his favor… but really – broccoli…. cabbage, kale, cauliflower and all of the incredibly healthful cruciferous vegetables do carry a bit of a stank with them.  I noticed it very strongly when pregnant with my son who despises broccoli, and have never fully appreciated it since.  I still eat it, it’s available and a gift of nutritious abundance – so I make my son eat it as well.  For awhile he offset that stank by putting ketchup on it (bleah!).  Now he reports that he prefers it steamed rather than cooked in the microwave… but he still doesn’t like it.

So when Snack Girl posted a recipe for broccoli that had her 6 year old begging for more I HAD to give it a try.  For my son’s sake.
Okay, for mine!  I’ve missed enjoying broccoli and if it works for him (always a dubious prospect when it comes to broccoli, asparagus or brussels sprouts) then so much the better.

downloadWhat is so different about this broccoli?  You throw it into the nearest volcanic vent, into the fires of hell…. or if you don’t have access, you roast it at 500 degrees.  That’s right 500 degrees.  I confess this was a new setting for me.  This setting could reveal dirt on the dial for those that have ovens with dials on them.  My little digital window said “Are you sure?” as I approached that lofty number.  And I said – “Of course I’m sure!  Why didn’t I realize earlier that you could heat blast the stank out of broccoli?”  Can’t wait to try it on brussels sprouts!

The other trick is to put a little sugar on it.  “AHA!” you say smugly. It’s the sugar, not the heat.  Well, it’s only a teaspoon of sugar for 2 pounds of broccoli, so I’m thinking that is not really the stank-remover.  It was indeed the fiery furnace.

We have shared Snack Girl offerings in the past and I recommend her as a source of common sense recipes and changes for folks that are not as interested in losing animal products from their diet.  I did not adapt her recipe much other than I cut the broccoli smaller (in hopes that would help number only son to try it with an open mind), and I used brown sugar instead of table sugar and avocado oil instead of olive.  I recommend that you use a high heat oil….. because this is really high heat!  And maybe your oven gets a little cleaner while these bad green boys lose their stank :-)

Snack Girl’s Roasted Broccoli
(makes 4 servings)

2 pounds broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used avocado)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (I used brown sugar – packed)
ground black pepper (optional – I opted out)

Preheat oven to 500F.  Place sheet on the lowest rack of the oven while oven heats up.

Cut crowns into 4 wedges LENGTHWISE (I cut smaller pieces – see above). Place broccoli in bowl and add oil, salt, sugar, and pepper to taste (optional). Toss to combine. When oven is heated, place broccoli on baking sheet and roast for 11 minutes (until slightly browned). Serve and enjoy!

20150427_184136This was very yummy.  My son was not enamored of this, but he did not make a face and he had to admit a little of the stank was gone.  I think he’ll come around, but I was sold.  I will do this again and again, and as I said before – I can’t wait to try it on Brussels sprouts.  As long as Brussel doesn’t mind ;-)

Fabulous Carb-Craving Recipe and Book Giveaway

Friends, Family and Fans….. or is it Fan ;-)?  Wait, our mother doesn’t count as a Fan….

It is my honor to share with you a review and a recipe from “Crave, Eat, Heal: Plant-Based, Whole-Food Recipes to Satisfy Every Appetite” written by Annie Oliverio, AKA anunrefinedvegan.

unnamedBoth Little Sis and I are big fans of Annie’s delicious and healthy plant-based recipes and we have shared recipes from her blog in the past, so you may be familiar with some of her incredible recipes.  What has been left out of our sharing, and what is abundant and one of the extremely appealing elements of her book is the photography.  In looking through the book I was reminded of looking at a well-crafted seed catalog.  You can spend a good amount of time just planning and dreaming and seeing the abundance of the natural world!  Each photograph inspires you to eat better, feel better and enjoy truly delicious food.  She is really an artist in the kitchen and behind the lens and you will enjoy this book visually as much as you will enjoy the content.

As far as the content goes, the book is divided by cravings…., so instead of “Do you feel like Chinese or Mexican food tonight?” You can ask yourself or your eating partner(s), “Do you feel like salty, creamy, comfort food, carbs or crunchy tonight?”  It is an interesting and helpful approach to changing your diet to healthier food to find foods which scratch those gustatory itches which you may previously have scratched using unhealthy or processed foods.

Annie also provides a lot of help for those not familiar with plant-based or vegan cooking, so you can begin the book with an education that will help you and your family incorporate more vegetables and less animal fat into your diet.  And although I didn’t mention sweets above (because it was a dinner question), there are many fabulous sweets recipes to satisfy the post-dinner sweet tooth.

This is truly a gorgeous and informative book.  Annie is a thoughtful and interesting writer as well, so you feel like she is talking to you and helping you along with a bit of humor and lots of lovely intentions.

I prepared a recipe that satisfies carb cravings but can be GF – perfect for us because I can tell you that being GF can cause some serious carb cravings.  I am going to use her photo, because if you can use Annie’s photo – you should!  I am also going to use her introduction to the recipe because it will give you a taste of her engaging style.  We are giving away a copy of the book to a lucky reader!

So here’s the dealio on the giveaway – I won’t make you read more, because I know you want the free stuff. I get it, I like free stuff too! All you need to do to enter the giveaway is to leave a comment on this page. That’s one entry. If you’d like to double your chances, take a trip over to our FB page and give us a like. Two whole chances to win this lovely book with just a little typing and clicking. Yay!

Okay – you’re all entered up, so now let’s talk about Annie’s fab food!

We really enjoyed this meal.  My son who is an inveterate cauliflower hater enjoyed this meal (!).  Hooray!  I wouldn’t even tell any anti-cauliflowites in your house it is present…. they probably won’t know!  I will also tell you that the leftovers of this served without the wrap and with some chopped celery or romaine makes a great dish as well – sort of potato salad with some punch!  Check out the recipe, the book and Annie’s blog.  You and all of your arteries will be glad you did ;-)

I give you Annie’s….CAULIFLOWER, POTATO, & PICKLE WRAPS WITH TAHINI DRESSING

If you’re familiar with the television show, Seinfeld, than you probably remember the episode about The Bad Breaker-Upper.  Well, I’m The Bad Wrapper-Upper.  I can’t roll a wrap or burrito to save my life!  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.  This recipe was inspired by one I saw many years ago on a blog called Herbivoress, and I was surprised at how delicious this seemingly strange combination of flavors was.  My recipe is admittedly a lot more complicated than the original – but the basics are in there: potato, cauliflower, tahini – – and pickles.  

Gluten-free Option, Oil-free, Easy

CAULIFLOWER, POTATO, & PICKLE WRAPS WITH TAHINI DRESSING
Serves 4-6
INGREDIENTS

Filling
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups chopped cauliflower
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth (see page XX for recipe), or store-bought low-sodium
vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. liquid aminos or tamari
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cayenne
Pinch sweet paprika
2 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
4 kosher dill pickle spears
4 whole wheat or gluten-free tortillas, lavash, or pita

Dressing

1/2 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. – 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 – 1 Tbsp. white miso paste
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the potato, cauliflower, onion, garlic, vegetable broth, liquid aminos, and spices and toss to combine.  Pour this mixture into a shallow baking dish and spread into one layer to speed cooking.  
Bake the potato-cauliflower mixture for about 45 minutes, turning the vegetables two or three times.  The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned at the edges.  If the mixture dries out during the cooking time, add a splash or two of water or vegetable broth.  
While the vegetables cook, prepare the dressing.  Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a high-speed or regular blender and process until very smooth.  Set aside.
To serve, gently warm the tortillas, lavash, or pita breads.  You can either mix the vegetables with the dressing, or you can spread some of the tahini dressing on/into the breads and then add the other ingredients on top.  Divide the romaine lettuce between the breads, then spoon on the potato-cauliflower mixture, sprinkle with chopped parsley and top with one pickle spear per wrap.  

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Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes including roasting time

Suggestions:

I prefer to eat this when the potato-cauliflower mixture is warm, rather than hot.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Annie Oliverio and Front Table Books.

There you have it my friends.  More vegetables and less animal fat is easier, tastier and oh so beautiful with Crave, Eat, Heal.  Check it out!

Peppers Stuffed w/ Healthy Yum

Colored peppers make me smile.  Bright colors, shiny skin, green hat…. then after I kill it ;-)  they are juicy, crisp and flavorful.  Great raw, sauteed, broiled, roasted, just get them in the mouth!  My grocery store sends me coupons and recipes that require the ingredients for which they sent me coupons.  Clever, right?  Of course I don’t eat 50% of what they list as ingredients, but hey – 50% positive match is a start!  In this case the grocery store missive brought a recipe for Orzo stuffed peppers.  Sounds good, now how to adapt for my GF hubby, my picky son, and my preference to be meatless most of the time…..

Enter some old standbys and an inspiration from our good friend Annie at ‘anunrefinedvegan.com‘   She cleverly used pulsed chickpeas to add some texture and protein to spaghetti sauce.  I took that idea and added walnuts, quinoa and spices to make a mixture for pepper stuffing with an aim at a sausage-y kind of flavor.

You could easily change the flavor profile in this by switching out some spices, just give whatever you try a taste before stuffing, make changes and voila you are now the recipe creator :-)

Peppers Stuffed with Yum

1 1/2 c cooked quinoa
3 large bell peppers, topped and seeded to be like cups
1/2 c cooked chickpeas (rinsed if you used canned)
1/2 c walnuts
Oil for saute (I used avocado)
1/2 c chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sage
3/4tsp. smoked paprika
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp dried parsley-2 of fresh
Diced tomatoes – I used canned fire roasted

Pre-heat oven to 350
Cook quinoa in vegetable broth
Prepare peppers
Place chickpeas and walnuts in bowl of food processor and pulse until mixture is broken down but not much – leave some texture
Saute onions and garlic in pan large enough to accommodate all ingredients until translucent
Add spices and cook for another minutes or so, stirring
Add chickpeas and walnuts to heat
Add a little water if it seems too dry
Turn off heat and add parsley and cooked quinoa
Grease a pan that will enable your peppers to stand upright (I used coconut oil)
Spoon mixture into peppers until almost full

20150321_164203Add a layer of diced tomatoes to each pepper
Cook 30 – 45 minutes or until Peppers reach desired tenderness.

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Serve with vegan parmesan (my preference)

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or plain – both my boys liked it just fine plain.

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This was a 100% hit.  I wish I’d made more than one apiece!  Next time this is a recipe doubler or tripler for sure. And again – you could switch out the spices for oregano, basil & thyme…. or chili powder, cumin and cayenne…. whatever works for your tribe!

I was left with lots of extra quinoa because I always make extra grains.  We shall see if Little Sis offers some ideas that include quinoa in the weekly meal plan (which I selfishly steal on a regular basis).  If not, it is so easy to throw together some quinoa, some veggies and a favorite sauce for an easy weeknight meal.

Eat well. Be well.  And if you want some help on the journey to healthful eating, check out Baby Steps to Better Health.

Shepherd’s Pizza (Potato Crust-ish Tasty Thing)

I was going to leave the title as just ‘Shepherd’s Pizza’ thinking it might intrigue millions, or thousands of readers into opening this post.  Then I thought perhaps I’d better offer just a little explanation, or maybe nobody would read it except for my mother.

So now that you are here…. you are still perhaps wanting a little more explanation?  This started as an attempt on my part to create a pizza crust out of potatoes (and a few other things).  Well, it did not turn out to be something that you could pick up.  More specifically, not pick up and take a bite that was several inches away from where you were holding it.  You could pick this food up in your hands if you are so moved, however…. it won’t be pretty.

“Alas, failure! I signed.”  Then my son said, “You should make this more often Mom!”

Ho ho!  Music to my ears on getting healthy food into my people!  I saw beyond failure and into the land of opportunity where lies the naming of something weird and different than what was expected.  What to name this soft layer of potato-y goodness topped with pizza stuff.  Upside down Italian Shepherd’s Pie came to mind.  The Italian word for shepherd is pastore by the way ;-)

So, I would be happy to share Pastore Potato Pizza with you!

Pastore Potato Pizza
2 qts chopped and boiled red potatoes.  (I left the skins on)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cashews that have been soaked in 1 cup water for at least 6 hours and then drained.
1 – 2 Tbsp milk of choice
3 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt

Pizza toppings or any roasted vegetables or cheeses that you like

– Pre-heat oven to 375
– Boil the potatoes until very tender and drain
– Drain the cashews and blend or process with the yeast flakes, milk and olive oil until fairly creamy.
(The milk is purely to get this mixture to mash, so start with just a little and see if you need more.)
– Place everything, including the blender goo in a large bowl and mash away.

20150304_162121See the chia seeds hiding in the potato cave? And the cashew lava creeping down the mountain?  Okay, so the imagination thing can be a problem for me ;-)

– Place parchment paper on a pan or two and spread a layer about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick on the parchment paper.
– Bake for 20 – 30 minutes.  I left one in for 20 and one in for 25.  Neither burned but the one in longer started to get a little puffy.  It might be good to leave them in longer but I don’t think they will ever get dry enough to be crusty and I didn’t notice much difference at the end either.
– Top with your choice of stuff and pop back in to heat up the toppings.  I did not put raw veggies on top as I was afraid the sweating of those veggies would make the whole thing too soupy.

We topped one with leftover spaghetti sauce that had colored peppers in it plus vegan parmesan
The other I brushed with olive oil, sprinkled on slightly steamed broccoli, green olives and vegan parmesan.  Of course my son wouldn’t touch this one, but it was my favorite.

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A switch from flour or grain based dishes.  Some favorite flavors.  Overall a failed crust with a happy ending!

Thinking of planting potatoes this year?  Little Sis has had luck with this method.

Other potato dishes?  We’ve got ’em…..
GF veggie burger/potato cake
Tabil Spiced Chili Over Roasted Red Potatoes
Not Your Mother’s Warm Potato Salad w/ Miso Dressing
Lemon-Oregano Chicken & Potatoes
Leftover Mashed Potato Soup

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

Silence – An Absence that is Part of Wholeness

Silence.  Silence!  SilenceBabySteps.pptx

Absence of noise.  A place.  A state of being.  A chance to listen.  Silence.

Not sure what to say next because I’m not supposed to be talking.  Apparently I’m supposed to be quiet right now.

Not an easy task for me.  Just ask Little Sis…. or Carni-Mom.  Plus I am supposed to be contributing to our Well-Being series.  So I get to proceed – as usual  :-) talking about silence.

Beyond my own ability to keep my mouth shut, and my enthusiasm bridled, there is the relative difficulty we all face of establishing quiet around ourselves even with our mouths shut.  We are surrounded by devices and machines and tasks and people and news and entertainment and alarms and warnings and intentions and plans and much human noise.  Yet, amidst all of this noise, most of us would agree that silence is powerful.  Isn’t that a bit telling?  Silence is something powerful that we often decrease or even eliminate from our lives.  Perhaps a year of wellness warrants taking a closer look at silence and what we can get from silence.

Sometimes silence is scary.  We associate it with apocalypse.  Perhaps it is more truly associated with a chink in our civilized armor.  Perhaps we don’t want time to think about more than our devices, schedules, tasks, entertainment and distraction, because if we do we might be faced with some questions about our own priorities, or our own power, or our own disappointments.  Perhaps our ‘conquest’ of the natural world is only complete if we are removed from the natural world.  How is it that we acknowledge this power and can acknowledge that it is a good thing, (think ‘peace and quiet’) but are for some reason losing, or even avoiding silence.

Silence is one of those things, like a dark night sky, or fear of predators, or for many people the ability to provide one’s own basic needs, that for good or ill we lose with modern civilization.  It is power that can weigh like an anvil, or beckon like a boat at the end of a dock on a peaceful lake.  Silence allows expansion.  It is a starting place.  A void.  There are places that silence can take us.  Perhaps journeys that feed our imaginations, our spiritual musings or longings or feed insights that can help us grow, prioritize and appreciate all of the blessings in our lives require a clear canvas on which to unfold?

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.  ~William Penn

Where to start such a journey?  In order to appreciate or benefit from silence, we must find it, make it, accept it, allow it and work with it.  As is our wont over here at the Pantry, baby steps come to mind in any endeavor of change or exploration that seems difficult or even impossible.

Start by thinking about the sources of noise that block out natural noises in your life.
Is there a TV, radio or other device that makes noise always on at your house or in your car?  Does it ever get turned off?  Can you set a time each day when the devices will be silenced?  It doesn’t have to be a big deal of everyone being very quiet.  It could just be a time without music, TV, news or other outside noise.

An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.  ~Walter Bagehot

Being quiet is indeed not easy which is why I suggest just establishing a few times with less noise as a starter.  You might be surprised by what you notice or even think about with less noisy stimulation going on.

You might also like to try some true quiet time when there is an intention of not making noise.
We will sometimes sit as a family and meditate.  Other times we will simply be quiet for a number of minutes, close eyes and mouths and pay attention to what we are hearing, smelling, and feeling.  We often discuss what we noticed when done, and also do this outside to notice smells, sounds and feelings outside.  This was especially hard for our son at first, but he has become quite good at it and can now also be still and meditate.  If you’d like some ideas for family meditation, we have enjoyed these 2 books:

Product Details

This one being particularly good for young children.  The next one works for all ages, especially if you are willing to just replace the words ‘child’ or ‘children’ with people / family members, etc.

Product Details

Silence is the true friend that never betrays.  ~Confucius

Once there is some silence in your life, I believe it then becomes easier to choose noise more wisely.  One can decide to actually listen to music OR to have it be a soundtrack in the background OR not have it at all.  Well-being, or being well is not an accident but a result of our choices and our reactions to the things we can not control.  Silence and meditation are wonderful ways of increasing self awareness, mindfulness, stress-reduction and peace.

Silence is a source of great strength.  ~Lao Tzu

Be well.

(Quotes were all found at http://www.quotegarden.com/silence.html)

Healthier Oats Made Even Easier

This morning it was 16 degrees here in Middle TN.  Some of you may not think that’s cold, but my daffodils are already peeking out, so for us, that is a bit of a seasonal abnormality.  The already cooked steel cut oats that awaited me were a delicious and hearty meal with which to start the day.  Steel cut oats are fairly similar to rolled oats nutritionally speaking but they have a lower glycemic index (meaning they don’t spike blood sugar as much) and most people find they have a nuttier taste and more hearty texture.  In addition, even if it doesn’t affect the nutrition label, it seems to me that the more processing, the more chance that something nasty or unnecessary is being introduced and I’d just as soon skip that possibility!  They do however take longer to cook than rolled oats.

Little Sis and I have both posted a recipe for cooking steel cut oats (the whole oat grain) overnight in the crockpot….. But what if you don’t have a crockpot?  Our versions are full of flavors that do indeed require a little extra work…. What if you don’t have time for a little extra work?  (I’m heading for a solution – just building a little suspense first).  Little Sis posted Chocolate Oats, ooh lala, this IS Valentine’s Day weekend you sweet thing you.  And I posted Pumpkin/Apple Steel Cut Oats.  Take THAT Starbuck’s.  If you have a crockpot and haven’t tried these yet.  You must.  Really.

If however, you are lacking a crock pot, or a little extra time or the tastes and tolerances in your family for oatmeal flavors are too diverse to make a big single flavored pot, and/or all you have time to do is measure water and oats into a pot, let it boil while you do something else and then turn it off, then I have a solution for you.  Yep.  That’s it.  Put the oats and water and a pinch of salt in a pot, boil for 1 minute, cover and let sit all night.  Quick as you please, even if it’s cold and nobody wants to get up and get going!

This recipe comes from Snack Girl who has lots of good advice about eating healthfully.  She is also a professor of biology and that makes her even more special in my biology loving book ;-)

Quick Steel Cut Oats

Makes 4 – 1 cup servings

1 cup steel-cut oats
3 cups water
pinch of salt

The night before you want to eat oatmeal put oats, water, and salt in a large saucepan (allow room for oatmeal expansion). Boil for one minute.

Cover the pot, remove from heat and leave on stove until morning.

Now there’s no saying you couldn’t add a little canned pumpkin…. or some chopped apple…. or some cocoa and a little sweetener, or your favorite dried fruits, nuts, apple sauce, frozen berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon – lots of cinnamon really sweetens things up without sugar, or whatever else you like on your oatmeal.  But these oats are heartier and less processed.  Hurrah!  and Hurrah!

I heartily endorse doubling this recipe.  Truly, this meal is leftovers from the get-go.  Why not make extra and have some more get up and go leftovers?  You can make some servings in appropriately sized containers with some toppings, stick in the fridge and voila you have breakfast to go for anyone with access to a microwave.  Take that again Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, AND the hospital cafeteria!

Here are pix of our nummy oatmeals for the crockpot.  Turn your overnight-without-the-crock oats into something just as yummy….. in no time.

20140928_075629IMG_9142This recipe also allows for Baby Steps to healthier oatmeal.  Slowly decrease the amount of sugar that is used as a topping.  Or try some fresh fruit or Date Cream or Apple Drizzle (also made the night before).  How nice to be able to provide and enjoy a hot, healthy breakfast with ingredients you know and can pronounce in about a minute.  That’s sweet.

Loving Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Food makes a lovely gift.  Everyone loves sweets.  Most of us give sweets to those we love in some way, at some time, in some place…. and especially in February when Hallmark moves us….. I mean our hearts move us, to make our amorous leanings known through buying stuff.

Making a gift has always been a way to imbue a gift with an extra bit of love and caring because not only your resources but your time was given (albeit shopping for the right gift can take time as well!).  But how loving is it to hand someone a box of candy that consists of a whopping load of sugar and unrecognizable chemicals?  It feels like love when given, when received, when consumed, but the health consequences are surely not was intended by the giver in love.  See our Sugar Busting series if you need a reminder about just how rough sugar is on our bodies….. (How Sugar Strict Should You Be?, Salt, Sugar Fat, How the Food Giants Hooked Us, The Sweet Stuff (facts about sugar consumption), Eat Food, Real Food., Giving Hidden Sugar the Boot,)

But back to the problem at hand.  Our Sweetie-Dad is having a few health troubles that the doctors think would be helped by cutting back on sweets.  He is Sweetie-Dad because he is indeed wonderfully sweet and charming…. and also because he’s consumed enough sugar over the years to turn himself into plum jelly.  Of course the poor man has to listen to The Sis Daughters lecture here and again and is probably often frightened when we come by what we might try to pass off as dessert, however, as with all things, experimentation and perseverance can yield workable results.  I know of quite a few lower sugar treats that he enjoys and with Valentine’s Day in mind decided to try a recipe that had been stored on my Kindle for some time waiting for a test run.

Tessa the Domestic Diva created these morsels that are perfect for a pre-kiss Valentine’s exchange.  I only added one ingredient – an almond on top of each, so she really gets all the credit for this one ;-)  And Sweetie-Dad and I thank her.

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

2 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 c coconut oil (don’t over do it)
4 – 5 Tbsp cocoa powder (I used this)
1/4 cup maple syrup (she also lists honey or coconut nectar as possibilities)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
about 2 dozen raw almonds

Place all ingredients in food processor and mix well (scraping down sides as needed).  I am gathering from her description that she placed hardened coconut oil.  I melted mine first and mixed in the cocoa powder and vanilla before pouring into the food processor.  Mine probably mixed faster, her mixture was probably easier to shape.

20150206_120102-001Roll, scoop, plop, shape – just get it in reasonable portions onto wax or parchment paper or a silpat lined cookie sheet and chill in the fridge or freezer until firm.

20150206_134903-001You can store them in the refrigerator or the freezer and share them with the sweeties in your life knowing that your time and your love has translated into a treat that lacks processed ingredients without a high dose of sugar.  Love :-)

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If you’d like to give some other kind of loving sweets check out these other options from us and friends:

Chocolate Apricot Truffle Cups from an unrefined vegan

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Drop Cookies

Sweet Potato Crusted Apple Pie

Cocoa-nutty Good Bars / or Cake!

Nut Butter Bliss Balls

Crispy Chocolate Granola Stacks from Emmy Cooks!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups from Vedged Out

For more ideas for reducing the amount of sugar and processed food in your life, check out our book!  Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals.  Eat well, Be well friends!

(OMG) GF Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake

Once in awhile we post someone else’s recipe as is – unchanged.  I confess that part of my just taking the easy road and making this by actually following directions was that I was in a hurry.  You see I had to come up with some GF dessert that would make non-GF son feel like his birthday had been adequately celebrated.  Following Little Sis’ lead (see another birthday cake for Bigg Sis), I turned to Angela Liddon.

It is always an honor to point anyone in the direction of Angela Liddon who has a blog and a lovely cookbook that features vegan recipes.  I do believe that her specialty is sweets.  In fact she had a shop where she sold amazing vegan bars and baked goods before becoming a successful blogger and cookbook author.  Give this to-die-for fudgy mocha pudding cake a try and then buy her cookbook because the non-sweets in it are excellent as well!

Back to the cake….. Last night we celebrated our boy, well, young man’s 14th birthday with a bunch of his friends playing football, video games, eating pizza and I’m ashamed to say, a store bought cake.  Mr. Bigg Sis and I ate some and made yucky faces at the overly sweet, oddly gummy concoction with way too much icing.  I vowed to do better the next night when the 3 of us would celebrate family style.  The headache that came soon after (yes, I am a sensitive and delicate creature for sure) was also good motivation to get my tail up and cooking the next day.

So here is the recipe – totally ripped off but heartily acknowledged.

Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake by Angela Liddon

1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 1/2 c  oat flour (make sure its GF if you need totally GF)
3/4 c plus 1/3 c sugar (she recommends coconut – I used plain organic cane sugar)
1/3 c plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (she uses non-dairy choc. chips)
3/4 tsp salt (she used fine grained sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c almond milk
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup hot coffee or boiled water (I used decaf – not very strong)
confectioners sugar and toasted walnuts are optional toppings

Mix the ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp water in a 2 cup measuring cup, mix and set aside

Pre-heat oven to 375 and lightly grease an 8×8 pan (I used coconut oil)

In a large bowl, mix flour, 3/4 c sugar, 1/3 c cocoa powder, choc chips, salt & baking powder

Add the coconut oil, milk and vanilla to the flaxseed mixture and whisk / stir together

Mix the wet and dry together and pour into prepared pan and make even and flat with a spoon or spatula

Mix 1/3 c sugar and 2 Tbsp cocoa and sprinkle over the cake

Pour the hot coffee slowly and gently over the top of the cake

Bake for 27 – 33 minutes or until semi-firm on top and bubbly on the sides – mine was a tad overdone at 27 minutes, so check at 25.

20150125_180529-001Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes and then top if you like with sugar, walnuts or ice cream of your choice.

Now this may not look that good, but appreciate the consistency of the pudding like stuff that comes out with the cakey-like stuff.  Really quite something.  Everyone had seconds.  In fact I’m still full….. no room for the snack I usually eat at bedtime to prevent waking up at 2 am so hungry I have to go get a snack.  Okay, so I’m a rather ravenous but sensitive and delicate creature…. but I know a good real food GF cake when I eat one!

20150125_184626-001

 

 

Triple Dose of Well-Being

Do you remember Venn diagrams?  Those pesky overlapping circles in which you had to place sets of things that had some but not all things in common depending on wherein lay their similarity?  I have been using a Venn diagram to discuss well-being with patients who are in recovery from substance abuse and I have found the concept to be helpful to myself as well as I consider my own wellness and well-being.  I would like to share it with you as part of our new series that explores aspects of well-being and nourishment beyond the very important attitude towards well-being represented by what we eat.

It is not everyday that you get to use the term ‘triumverate,’ but now you know how many circles are in my Venn Dance.  In fact it is 3 circles that you will recognize.  Body, mind and spirit as a group have been used so lightly and frequently that I hesitated to use the terms with patients as a way to organize well-being efforts, but after making some attempt to define the 3 umvirates (???) in terms of function, I found the whole approach less banal and more helpful.

Why do so many things come up with 3 parts or portions? Past-present-future; red-blue-yellow; rock-paper-scissors; Harry – Ron – Hermione; and there is this wonderful meditation on 3 from the fine people from Schoolhouse Rock:

3 is a Magic Number

On a more serious note, the number 3 has significance in all of the world’s major religions.  It seems to come down to balance.  Systems divided into even numbers of participants, parts or factors have the potential for the creation of sides and 2 teams.  Either/Or, This or That, Black or White are notoriously narrow views of the world!  Three is the smallest odd whole number that is greater than one, and therefore represents  a simple array of pieces that can not gang up but have to work together in order to work.  If one leg of the stool is shorter than the others (or longer) it will provide a short sit.  And life is not really a short sit.  This is lucky for me as I seem to require repeat lessons on some basics of living despite having received a myriad of blessings.  Bring on the second chances…… please and I’ll try to keep my stool balanced so I make it through all of the lessons.

So back to body, mind and spirit.  Basically the approach was to think of oneself as the center of the Venn Diagram of 3 circles representing body, mind and spirit.  All body, All mind or All spirit tend to lead to problems.  Thinking about the 3 realms in terms of functionality helped me think about why it was important to sustain them.  You may not agree with the functions, and of course there is overlap (being a Venn Dance after all)…..

I am so thankful for my Body which provides
transportation & sensation

I am so thankful for my Mind which provides
instruction & construction

I am so thankful for my Spirit which provides
identification and perpetuation

So I challenge my patients, myself, and you, to draw yourself a diagram and think of a few Baby Steps for each realm of your life.

Venn

Body, mind and spirit – all that function and all that you working together to create world view – perspective – character – approach – life.  A unique human tale.

Here’s to taking Baby Steps to Wholeness and Well-Being and celebrating life in 2015.

If you need help with the Baby Steps to Better Health concept, please check out our book.