Author Archives: Gina

Almond, Maple, Raisin Walnut Cookies

If Tiffany is the cocktail genius then I am the cookie guru. I LOVE them. I completely enjoy baking and find it almost meditative. This recipe was inspired by Angela Lidden and her fabulous recipe for crispy almond chocolate chip cookies. Sorry Angela, but I rarely follow a cookie recipe verbatim. I go with my mood and let the creative juices flow(:

These – as with my other cookie posts are a great snack because they are not filled with refined flour and sugar.  They are packed with protein and complex carbs.  Wholesomely sweet, they curb the sugar craving and provide sustained energy.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup almond butter

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup sucanat, coconut sugar or date sugar

1 egg or 1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup oats (not instant)

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup organic raisins (grapes are on the dirty dozen)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in small bowl, set aside.  In large bowl combine coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, flax or egg, vanilla and sugar.  Mix well.  Add flour mixture and mix well.  Finally stir in oats, raisins and walnuts.

Scoop 1 tablespoon portions on to prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes, rooting pan 1/2 way through.

My mom gave me this fantastic tool for Christmas. It is an OXO 1 tablespoon scoop that is just perfect for little bit cookies! My biggest trepidation with this was thinking it would be hard to clean – it is actually incredibly easy AND dishwasher safe(:

Cool for a few minutes on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

Store in airtight container for up to a week or freeze (this is my preference – they are easy enough to grab out of the freezer container and then they are always fresh!)

Each cookie is only 1 tablespoon of dough (Tiffany’s genius trick) so go ahead have a few!

 

 

Not So Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Keeping on the theme of Jaimie’s last post – this recipe was a new hit on this year’s BWCA trip as well!

Our last morning at one of the greatest campsites ever - just after taking a moment to say goodbye):

Our last morning at one of the greatest campsites ever – just after taking a moment to say goodbye):

By the way – if you haven’t yet tried the Nuts for Cabbage it is delicious!  These bars were inspired by Lara Bars – I was completely out of good snacks one week so I resorted to buying some Lara Bars.  They are delicious – made of simple ingredients and healthy.  But – really… they are so simple and I truly get fulfillment in knowing exactly what is in my food.

We enjoyed these as our last bites in the tent late at night – a delicious dessert.  They also make a great sweet snack that is satisfyingly sweet and has the staying power of protein – plus who doesn’t love a little dark chocolate at a random time during the day when hunger is knowing at your core!?  I thought so(:

Ingredients:

16 Medjool Dates – make sure they are moist.  If they have dried out a bit simply steam them according to the method described in Raw Mission Fig, Pecan and Oat Bars.

1/2 cup Crunchy Peanut Butter – make sure to choose an all natural, unsweetened variety without the added emulsifying oils

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

2 tblspn. chopped dark chocolate

That’s it!

Method:

Prepare a 9″ x 5″ pan by lightly greasing it with coconut oil and lining with parchment paper.

In the work bowl of a food processor, process dates until they form a paste.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, process until thoroughly mixed.  Add cocoa powder and process, scraping the sides of the work bowl as needed.

Finally add the chopped dark chocolate and give a few quick pulses to incorporate the chocolate without pulverizing the small chunks into inconsequential dust; I like to know when I hit a piece of pure dark chocolate(:

Just a small amount of roughly chopped dark adds a richness to these bars that is not worth skipping!

Just a small amount of roughly chopped dark adds a richness to these bars that is not worth skipping!

Turn mixture into prepare pan and press firmly into an even, compressed layer.  I placed a piece of parchment on the top and used the back of a card metal spatula to achieve a more even surface (I’m picky like that – ask the others)

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight before cutting into bars.

This recipe makes 16 small bars for that sweet satisfying bite after a meal or 8 larger bars that can provide some good energy between meals.

I cut this batch into 8 bars, then cut each in half again.

I cut this batch into 8 bars, then cut each in half again.

Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and freeze for convenience – or your next outdoor adventure!

I wrap two small bars per package - that way if I am really hungry I have a decent snack and if I just need a bite of sweet I can save the other half for later!

I wrap two small bars per package – that way if I am really hungry I have a decent snack and if I just need a bite of sweet I can save the other half for later!

Enjoy!

 

Revisiting Maggie’s Pumpkin Bread

Like I said in my last post; I love cake!  Sweet with a tender crumb that is accompanied with the nostalgia of childhood memories.  MMMM!  Nothing fits the bill better than my grandma Maggie’s pumpkin bread recipe with a few tweeks – don’t worry; she would approve!  She would have been a fan of clean eating.  She grew up on a self sustaining farm and then ran one with my grandpa for the majority of their life in Popple Creek, MN.  My mom recalls “fond” memories of no indoor bathroom, chicken feet soup, a garden the size of football field, canning, chicken butchering day, bread baking day and laundry day.  It was work just to live and everything they ate came from the farm.  Granted – that was when white sugar and white flour prevailed as the “cleaner” option.  Grandma Maggie was never wealthy, but she was never without a smile either(:  She used to say, “No matter how poor you are, you can always afford soap!”  I took this to mean there is no excuse for not taking care of yourself, your family and your home(:

Maggie’s pumpkin bread was a staple sweet accompaniment at everything holiday gathering; spicy, sweet and sometimes studded with toasted walnuts.

Pumpkin is such a powerhouse food, it is the perfect companion to the healthy stand ins that I have replaced the traditional refined ingredients with.

Like the Sinfully Scented Wholesome Banana Bread that I posted, this sweet treat will not only satisfy the treat craving inner child, it will provide complex carbohydrates and lots of fiber to provide sustained energy needed for the demands of today’s busy life.  This Bread is amazing topped with Coconut Cashew Ice Cream – it kind of reminds me of a “Little Debbie” Oatmeal Cream Pie!  Another confession: I used to love those.  For the extra hungry times, I add a little nut butter to increase the staying power(:

Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice flour (any whole grain flour will do)

1/2 cup oat flour (you could use all one or the other – but this combo gives a nice texture that is tender but not overly fragile)

1/3 cup flax meal

1/4 cup date or coconut sugar

1 1/4 tsp salt

3/8 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp cinnamon

3/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans (optional – a good way to boost the protein and healthy fats)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (you can substitute honey – but maple flavoring pairs so well with pumpkin – it is really my preference)

1/3 cup coconut oil melted

1/2 cup almond or cashew milk (plain yogurt works well too)

3 local, free range eggs

1 can or 1 1/3 cup pumpkin or squash

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use coconut oil to grease bottom and only 1″ up the sides of a 9 x 5″ loaf pan.  Dust greased portion with barley flour.

Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or regular bowl – beat date sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil and flax.  Beat in milk or yogurt and eggs until thoroughly combined.

Mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients until no streaks remain.  Follow with 1/2 of pumpkin.  Mix in another 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the last 1/2 of the pumpkins and end with the he last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

Stir in nuts if using.

Turn batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

It is done when firm to the touch and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

It is done when firm to the touch and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen the sides with a butter knife and remove from pan to cool completely on wire rack.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and slip inside ziploc bag to store in the fridge for at least 1 week.  Freeze for longer storage.

Tender, spicy and lightly sweet this cleaned up sweet bread melts in your mouth!

Tender, spicy and lightly sweet this cleaned up sweet bread melts in your mouth!

I have even brought this bread into the BWCA on a trip with my brother.  It makes a great dessert or breakfast accompaniment while camping – add a little smear of nut butter for added staying power!

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Sunning it up on a cool Boundary Waters evening – can’t wait for the next adventure!

Sinfully Scented Wholesome Banana Bread

I have always loved cake! Cookies, bars, sweets were my favorite food group as a child.  However as a child I never knew when to quit, the treats didn’t satisfy my body’s hunger – just my sweet tooth.

As active women we need snacks and treats that honor our bodies and everything we demand of them.  That means we need healthy fats, complex carbs, protein and of course good flavor!

Quick breads provide a great way to have a sweet snack that is satisfying because  they lend themselves so well to tinkering and substituting in healthier ingredients to boost nutrition and staying power.  Kind of like having your cake and eating it too!

This banana bread delivers on all levels – one of my favorites!  It is makes a great mid morning snack with tea or coffee.  It even stands in as a superb dessert, topped with Coconut Cashew Ice Cream and a healthy dash of cinnamon (this is my favorite evening treat)!

Ingredients:

1 cup barley flour (any whole grain flour will do, I refer barley for its low gluten content – it produces a nice tender crumb)

1 cup tef flour (you can use all tef to make this gluten free, the bread without gluten crumbles easier – but has an even more intense cocoa flavor, really delicious)

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (you can use raw here, but since you are baking the bread anyway, give them a quick 10 minute toast in a 350 degree oven to intensify the flavor)

2 oz super dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated

3 very ripe bananas

1/4-1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup plain yogurt (easily make this bread vegan by substituting coconut milk yogurt or soy yogurt)

2 local, free range eggs (want it vegan? Simply combine 1/4 cup flax meal with 1/4 cups cold water – allow to site a few minutes to “gel” and omit the eggs)

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup flax meal (this boost the fiber and omega 3 fats!)

Method:

Use coconut oil to grease the bottom and only 1″ up the sides of a 9 x 5″ loaf pan, dust oiled portion what barley or tef flour.  Leaving the majority of the pan sides ungreased helps the bread rise higher – it can get more traction to climb up the sides.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients in medium bowl, stir in walnuts and chocolate and set aside.

80% dark chocolate, finely chopped to add a bittersweet decadence to play off the notes of honey, coconut and banana

80% dark chocolate, finely chopped to add a bittersweet decadence to play off the notes of honey, coconut and banana

Use bananas at least this ripe - the riper the banana the less honey you can use(:

Use bananas at least this ripe – the riper the banana the less honey you can use(:

Mash bananas on a large plate with a fork and put them in a large bowl.  Stir in whisked eggs, yogurt, vanilla, honey, flax and coconut oil.

This is my ideal amount of honey and coconut oil, just enough to make it sweet, but not over the top

This is my ideal amount of honey and coconut oil, just enough to make it sweet, but not over the top

Fold in dry ingredients just until no streaks of flour remain – don’t over stir.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour.  Check wth tooth pick, it should come out clean.  Bake additional 5 minutes, check again.  Sometime this bread can take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Cool in an on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Use butter knife to ensure sides are loose, then invert pan and allow loaf to cool completely.  I store this bread in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap and then slipped into a ziplock bag.  It also freezes wonderfully.

Fresh baked and smelling sinful!

Fresh baked and smelling sinful!

Enjoy!

 

 

Kale Squash Gratin

This is the ultimate winter comfort food that is perfect for a weekend with friends!  We recently made this on our annual cross country ski weekend.  It went great with grilled venison kabobs and  it reheated beautifully for with breakfast the next morning.  Last weekend I got together for a girls dinner with my mom and sister and made it again – it was a hit!

I developed this recipe after seeing a picture of a kale squash gratin that made me crave the hearty nourishing combo.  I didn’t make the recipe because it called for ingredients that I don’t like to have in my daily diet.  But – it was such a strong craving that it resulted in dreams and internet searches for a healthy version that didn’t rely on large doses of high fat dairy products to deliver savory satisfaction.  I found I could get away with a mere sprinkling of cheese and achieve a lovely richness – which split between 8 – 10 servings is no more than a flair in your diet.

I really prefer butternut squash for this recipe – I’m sure others would work well.  The shape of butternut lends itself particularly well to peeling with a carrot peeler.  Normally I am with Annie – I don’t bother peeling my squash because I want the extra nutrients and fiber and I like the crisp texture it offers, especially combined with the creamy sweetness of the interior.  For this dish peeling really is necessary because the squash is covered with the kale mixture – the skin would not attain the crispy tender state – it would stay tough and chewy in the moist baking environment – just this once – peel it(:

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/4″ slices (squash is on the clean 15 list – so I don’t fork over the extra dollars to get organic – especially if I’m peeling it)

1 large or 2 small bunches organic kale (I prefer lacinato dinosaur kale) (kale is on the dirty dozen, consider paying the extra for organic here)

1 medium onion (I prefer yellow for this recipe)  (onions are another clean 15 veggie – I save money wherever I can and buy the conventionally raised)

2-3 cloves garlic, pressed (about 2 teaspoons or more if you want)

1 Tblspn EVOO

2 oz Guyere cheese or other high quality cheese of choice, grated (that is all it takes to give this dish just enough richness to taste divine!)

Method:

Strip leaves off stem of kale. Set leaves aside and cut stems into 1” long pieces.  Preheat large diameter (12” works well) sauté pan over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of EVOO. Heat until just beginning to smoke. Add kale stem and onions. Sprinkle with a bit of salt (this helps to release some of the moisture so there is less scorching and better carmelization.)

Saute kale stem, and onion until soft and beginning to blacken before adding garlic and kale leaves

Saute kale stem, and onion until soft and beginning to blacken before adding garlic and kale leaves

Cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until veggies have some good browning action going on. Remove pan from heat. Clear veggies from the center out to the edges of the pan. Add about ½ tsp more EVOO to the center of the pan. Then add your garlic – this will smell great. Stir and cook for just 30 seconds. Then quickly add the chopped kale leaves. Use a lid that is slightly smaller then the diameter of the sauté pan and press the whole works down.
After adding kale leaves, press down firmly with lid slightly smaller than the diameter of the sauce pan you are using.  I sometimes add a couple tablespoons of water here to help initiate the stem.  Depending on how hot and dry your pan it – and it does vary – you may or may not need it.  A good gauge is whether or not the garlic sticks to the bottom – if it does and is threatening to burn – add the water.

After adding kale leaves, press down firmly with lid slightly smaller than the diameter of the sauce pan you are using.

After adding kale leaves, press down firmly with lid slightly smaller than the diameter of the saute pan you are using.

Return pan to the heat and continue pressing down for about 30 seconds. Lift lid, stir the mixture and press with lids again for another 30 seconds. Stir again and cook for 2-3 minutes uncovered, until all the moisture has cooked away.  Set this mixture aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rub a 9″ X 13″ rectangular baking dish with EVOO.

Slice peeled butternut 1/4" thick, layer 1/2 in the bottom of oiled pan.

Slice peeled butternut 1/4″ thick, layer 1/2 in the bottom of oiled pan.

Layer 1/2 of squash evenly over the bottom of the dish.

Top with 1/2 of kale mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 of grated cheese.

Cover first layer of quash with 1/2 of kale, then sprinkle with 1/2 of cheese

Cover first layer of quash with 1/2 of kale, then sprinkle with 1/2 of cheese

Repeat the layering process.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for an hour or until squash is fork tender.

Uncover and continue baking for 10 minutes or until top layer of kale is crispy.

Ready to dive into a nutritious comfort food!

Ready to dive into a nutritious comfort food!

A New Spin on Date Pinwheels

My beloved Grandma Gennevive is famous at church and among friends and family for her date pinwheels.   Still, today, if you go to her house – it’s a sure bet she has a roll of these in the freezer ready to slice and bake.  One never knows when another could use a plate of date pinwheels to help with grief, as a congratulations or a thank you.   As a child, I never got very excited about them – they paled in comparison to other Christmas delights higher on the sugar spectrum!

Once I discovered the amazing caramel depth of Medjool dates – I tasted her date pinwheels with a new set of taste buds. Suddenly as an adult they seemed over sugary. I wondered if I could come up with a way to make them showcase the amazing natural sweetness of the medjools and the rich nuttiness of pecans. and honor the special memories of this cookie in my family.

After a few tries – I think I came up with a strong competitor for the “showier” Christmas treats – even better they are free of refined sweeteners and gluten!

I have included these in our semi annual cookie swaps.  It is a fun afternoon – joining with lovely friends who share the same clean eating philosophy.  We all leave with a huge variety of healthy holiday treats!  The past two years we’ve skipped – but hopefully the tradition will return in future years!  Life is busy and we all do our very best.  For now – I’ll settle on the warm memories of cookie swaps past.

These are a little putsy, after all they are a Christmas cookie – so plan enough time to chill the dough and the filling.  I prefer to make them over a couple of days so it doesn’t seem like such an undertaking.

INGREDIENTS:

Cookie Dough

Parchment Paper

4 cups tef flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup date or coconut sugar

1/4 cup honey

3 eggs

6 Tblspns butter at room temperature (you can substitute all coconut oil – however, the cookies will be on the oily side and not as soft)

1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

 

Filling

1 1/2 cups pitted medjool dates

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 cups toasted pecans – very finely chopped or pulsed to a fine texture in a food processor

 

DOUGH METHOD:

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside.  IN the bowl of a standing mixer beat the butter and the coconut oil until thoroughly mixed and as fluffy as it seemed like it will get.  Add date or coconut sugar and honey.  Mix to combine.  Add vanilla and eggs (do eggs 1 at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one).

Gradually mix in dry ingredients.

Mixed dough will seem wet - once it chills it is very easy to work with.

Mixed dough will seem wet – once it chills it is very easy to work with.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap or seal in an air tight container, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours up up to 2 days.

 

FILLING METHOD:

In a small sauce pan, combine dates, water and cinnamon.  Cook over medium-high heat.

Luscious medjool dates and spicy cinnamon simmer in a bit of water, which allows the dates to break up. it also evaporates off and prevents burning.

Luscious medjool dates and spicy cinnamon simmer in a bit of water, which allows the dates to break up. it also evaporates off and prevents burning.

Using a potato masher, break up the dates as they cook.  Continue to mash and mix until it is fairly smooth, thick and shiny.

Medjool dates and cinnamon have been cooked and mashed to a smooth, thick consistency.

Medjool dates and cinnamon have been cooked and mashed to a smooth, thick consistency.

Cool mixture slightly before stirring in pecans.  You can also store this covered and refrigerated for a couple of days before stirring in pecans and assembling the cookies.

When you are ready to assemble the cookies – tear off two large pieces of parchments paper.  You will need to roll out 1/3 or the dough between the two layers.  You can’t tape the parchment to the counter to keep it from sliding, because tape doesn’t stick to it.  Instead, I make the pieces long enough so I can tuck an end or a corner between my hip and the edge of the counter.

Roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 10″ X 6″ and 1/3″ thick.

You will not end up with a perfect rectangle - so simple trim and patch until you have it - the dough is that easy to work with - AND it won't get tough, because tef has no gluten!

You will not end up with a perfect rectangle – so simple trim and patch until you have it – the dough is that easy to work with – AND it won’t get tough, because tef has no gluten!

Now – you can spread your filling – evenly, 1/4″ thick.

Spread filling 1/4" thick

Spread filling 1/4″ thick

The next part – takes a bit of patience – but you have come this far!  Use the edge of the parchment near you to lift up the edge closest to you and begin to roll the center – gently and tightly.

First role the center in Photo credit: Dan

First role the center in
Photo credit: Dan

Lift outer edge of parchment to push the roll away from you. Photo credit: Dan

Lift outer edge of parchment to push the roll away from you.
Photo credit: Dan

Then, pull the parchment off the top of the log, grasp the outer edges further way from you and repeat the rolling. Photo credit: Dan

Then, pull the parchment off the top of the log, grasp the outer edges further way from you and repeat the rolling.
Photo credit: Dan

Wrap the log in the parchment - then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Wrap the log in the parchment – then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to bake, line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Slice chilled cookies with a sharp knife, into 1/3″ thick rounds.  I like to gently reshape them into a circle – they tend to flattened a bit when you cut them.

Sliced chilled log into 1/3" thick slices.

Sliced chilled log into 1/3″ thick slices.

If the flat bottoms bother you, like they do me - just gently reshape with your fingers when you place them on the baking sheet(:

If the flat bottoms bother you, like they do me – just gently reshape with your fingers when you place them on the baking sheet(:

Place the cookies 1-2″ inches apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes – rotate sheets at 6 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooking rack.

Get ready for amazing aroma when you open the oven!

Get ready for amazing aroma when you open the oven!

When you store these, place sheets of parchment between layers.  They freeze very well – and make a great addition to a cookie bake!

Enjoy and have a BRIGHT, MERRY, DELIGHTFUL Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas

One of my favorite things about fall is the food – go figure! I love pumpkin and squash – they are so satisfying, nutritious and versatile!

This recipe works equally well with canned pumpkin or roasted mashed fresh pumpkin or squash – buttercup is my favorite for this recipe because of its density – but any will work.

I first tried creating this recipe for my husband who has recently gone to several meatless meals each week. My inspiration came from a recipe a friend made at deer hunting camp; very appropriately he made the recipe with venison.  It was a hit!  The spicy curry playing off the earthy sweetness of the squash is a warm nourishing way to fuel body and soul after a day in the great outdoors.

I enjoy this served over roasted cauliflower (recipe follows) – I serve it to my husband over brown rice.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp (divided) safflower, canola or grapeseed oil (use something that is appropriate for high heat that is free of GMO)

1 onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced

2 tbsp curry powder

1/4 tsp red pepper flake                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground coriander

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

1 – 2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 – 15 oz can pumpkin or 1 1/2 cups diced fresh pumpkin or winter squash (such as buttercup, butternut or acorn)

3⁄4 cup vegetable stock

2 cans chickpeas or 3 cups cooked from dried (I find it very easy and cost-effective to cook my own beans.  I soak them overnight and cook them in large batches.  I freeze them in measured quantities covered in their cooking liquid – then have them on the ready for recipes like this!)

2 handfuls finely julienned kale or spinach (if using kale that has a thick mid rib – remove the mid rib, chop finely and salute along with the onion at the start of cooking.

If you like cilantro – it goes well in here – I don’t care for it so I leave it out.  It’s one of those love it or leave it kind of flavors – you choose(:

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

Preheat large dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.  Meanwhile mix pressed garlic with 1 tbsp oil.   Add 1 tbsp oil to heated pan.  Add onion, sprinkle with a small amount of salt.  Saute, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes or until translucent and just beginning to brown.  Stir in curry powder, red pepper flakes, turmeric, allspice and coriander to release their flavors – cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in garlic and oil mixture.  Cook, stirring for an additional 30 seconds.  Pour in tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, chickpeas and pumpkin.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer.  Simmer for 45 minutes or until pumpkin is tender if using fresh.  Finely stir in kale and allow to rest off heat for 5 minutes before serving to tenderize the kale.  Serve over brown rice or roasted cauliflower.  This also freezes well – making it ideal for make ahead lunches!

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas

Curried Pumpkin Chickpeas

 

Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

high heat, non GMO oil for rubbing

parchment paper

rimmed baking sheet

aluminum foil

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Trim off parts of the stem that you don’t care to eat.  After washing it, pat dry and rub the head with a small amount of oil.  Drizzle a couple of teaspoons onto the parchment lined sheet.  Set the head of cauliflower on a cutting board, stem side down.  Cut the head in half – lay each half on its flat side and cut each half into 4 wedges.  The wedge shape gives nice flat surfaces to maximize browning and caramelization.   Arrange wedge on the sheet so thick ends are towards the rim and skinny tips are towards the center – this will facilitate more even cooking.  Loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Turn each wedge and return sheet to oven without the aluminum foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until tender.

I often throw some carrots on the tray as well – they are such a treat roasted!

 

Fall Foraging

Walking my son up the driveway to meet the bus last week I was so appalled at what I saw….GARLIC MUSTARD. I won’t bore you with what this means for my little woodland – but in a nutshell garlic mustard is a very invasive, introduced plant that displaces good, native vegetation (think woodland wildflowers…threatened by a garlicky mustard monster!)

I couldn’t wait to tell my co-worker and fellow plant fanatic what I had found.  She chirpily replied “Well… at least you can eat it.”  Leave it Franny to look on the bright side, know more about plants than me and put humor into the morning.  I love her(:  “You can!?”  I replied.  Then after a few moments of thought – it made perfect sense: I love both garlic and mustard – how perfect!  Knowing this, I was much more motivated to deal with the small infestation in a more environmentally friendly way: pulling as opposed to using the highly “efficient” herbicides.

When I got home I spent 5 minutes pulling enough to add to a few salads.  I found the roots to be substantial, yet easy to pull.  The roots are also woody so once pulled need to be trimmed off.  After a total of 20 minutes pull time – I had removed every single plant and added nutrition to a week-worth of salads!  I love when I get eat “free greens” instead of buying the expensive organic packages in the grocery store.

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT - very tasty in salads!

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT – very tasty in salads!

The next day I tossed a combination of garlic mustard, kale and swiss chard for my salad.  I wouldn’t recommend a salad with straight garlic mustard because it does have a garlic-chive tone, that all alone could be overwhelming.

I added my favorite topping and was doubly satisfied knowing that I had helped my little woodland and was nourishing my body with wholesome – nutrient rich greens.

My very favorite salad contains:

3 Baby Kale, spinach, swiss chard, garlic mustard or any combination of them

Drizzle of Immune-Boosting Garlic Vinegrette

1-2 slices Grilled Eggplant

2 Fresh Button or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

6-8 Grape Tomatoes Sliced

Fresh cracked pepper and coarse ground sea salt

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad

PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I have since I was a child.  I remember being infatuated with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and dipping the ears of my chocolate easter bunny into a spoon full of peanut butter never tiring of the play between nutty, bitter and sweet. HOWEVER – now I have grown, changed and learned about better choices that provide real, lasting energy – not the quick rev of the engine that crashes and burns 30 minutes after the peanut butter cup wrapper has hit the trash.

I created these simple cookies when I had a craving for my life-long favorite. It is based off of Tiffany’s Simple Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was very concerned they weren’t sweet enough, but after taking some to work last Friday I was encouraged that they were pleasantly sweet yet not cloying and had great flavor – hints of honey and vanilla!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (I used chunky and enjoy the texture of the peanut pieces)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup spelt, barley or oat flour (You can easily make your own oat flour by processing rolled oats in your food processor until they are the texture of flour.  This is a great option for a gluten free version; just be sure you start with certified gluten free oats.)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder (Try to use aluminum free – it is available in the natural food section of large grocery stores and in natural food coops.)

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips of roughly chopped dark chocolate

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  (I love parchment paper so much, at first I considered it a wasteful expense – but it is so darn handy!  If it is not too sticky or dirty, I wipe it with a damp cloth, let it air dry and re-use it.  This makes my husband roll his eyes – but I think he is getting used to it.)

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine peanut butter and melted coconut oil.

Mix egg, honey and vanilla into the peanut butter and oil until combined well.

Mix flour mixture into wet ingredients.

Add oats; mix to combine.

Stir chocolate in by hand.

Scoop cookie dough by 1 tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes – rotating the pans half way through the baking time.

Cool these on a wire baking rack.  Store in air tight container at room temperature for a couple of days – or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

PBC Cookies

Dark chocolate, peanut butter, oats and honey make for a wholesome, satisfying, delicious cookie

These are a great energizing, satisfying, treat-like snack.  Enjoy!

 

Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies

I find the aroma of spicy warmth and wholesome sweetness the utmost comfort as the Minnesota summer so hastily tumbles into fall.

I was craving something sweet, cinnamonny (i know – not a word) and old fashioned. What is more old fashioned than oatmeal raisin cookies?

I adapted this recipe from Tiffany’s delicious chocolate chip cookies, so not surprisingly the ingredient list is quite similar – which makes it all that much easier.

These are quick to mix up and easy to bake while doing other kitchen chores.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 cup spelt flour (or any whole grain flour of your choice – for a gluten free option choose brown rice, tef or oat flour)

1/2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free is available in the natural foods section of large groceries or at natural food coops – I like to buy Bob’s Redmill it is reasonably priced)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup of organic raisins (I specify organic here because grapes are on the dirty dozen)

1 cup chopped pecans

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent cookies from sticking.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine melted coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup.  It is helpful to warm the maple syrup slightly so that the coconut oil doesn’t re-solidify from the refrigerated syrup.

Add eggs and vanilla – mix to combine.

Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined.

Add oats 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated.

Finally stir in pecans and raisins.

Portion out small scoops of cookie dough onto lined sheets.  I love Tiff’s tip of using a level tablespoon of dough per cookie – then I can eat 4!  The tiny cookies are also great for kids who usually(; love to have more than one cookie!

Bake for 7 minutes – rotate pan and bake for an additional 6-7 minutes depending on the accuracy of your oven.

Allow cookies to sit on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

I store these in the freezer and keep them handy for yummy, wholesome snacks/treats!

Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies - warming, spicy, sweet, yummmmm!

Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies – warming, spicy, sweet, yummmmm!

Enjoy!!!