Monthly Archives: February 2012

Chocolate Orange Almond Biscotti

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I am a chocolate girl, dark chocolate that is.   I was going to try to have a chocolate recipe days ago, in time for Valentines Day but I am just not that organized.   I have actually spent the better part of the last week and a half on the couch with my son who is not feeling  well.   It’s been rough seeing our little guy in pain. But if I have to watch another Max & Ruby or Dinosaur Train show I am likely to go mad.   I had to take a break and get a little baking done.    The Trailhead Children’s Museum is having a bake sale this weekend and these yummy biscotti will be on the selling table!

I bought the kids a baking kit on Zulily, which is a discount website that I have a slight addiction to.  I am not allowing myself to make any more purchases for a while…well, unless they have an amazing deal on something I sort of need…I mean NO … I am not buying anything else for a while.  But I have gotten some really good deals on kid stuff as well as kitchen items, and maybe a couple of things just  for me:)  The kids were very excited for their kitchen tools and Cecilia helped me with this recipe.

I did some experimenting with this recipe, as far as the sugar/fat ratio.   My first challenge was trying to get them to look like biscotti instead of regular cookies and then I wanted to make a more wholesome recipe.   These are softer than traditional biscotti, but you could cook them longer if you want.     I am including two recipes in this post (3 counting my Gluten Free Flour Blend) – a more decadent version and a slightly healthier version.   The first batch was very low in fat, but high in sugar, and the final batch has more fat and less sugar.

I remember in high school when all the “fat-free” products came on the market.  My friends and I would buy boxes of Snackwell’s cookies and eat Swedish Fish by the handful.   I mean, they were fat-free after all.   Little did I realize that in taking out the fat, they just added more and more sugar.   Hydrogenated fat is bad,  Period.  But healthy fats are good for us and we shouldn’t be scared of some good healthy fats in our diet.

Baking at 9,000 feet can be challenging.  You usually need about half the leavening as the recipe calls for, a little less sugar and a little more flour.    But Gluten Free Baking at 9,000 feet can be down right frustrating.   It takes some experimenting and some disappointments but one important thing is not to add too much leavening (baking powder/soda).   I started making my own Gluten Free Flour Mix but if you don’t want to do that, Pamela’s  has a nice one as well as Bob’s Red Mill.   I read a great article on gluten the other day by Dr. Mark Hyman explaining how wheat has changed in the last 50 years and why it is contributing to so many diseases.  Click here to read the article.    A lot of people don’t understand why suddenly everyone seems to have a wheat allergy.    The wheat we are all eating is not the same wheat our great grandparents ate.

Of course, if  you want to eat wheat, you can just use regular flour instead of the GF variety.

Happy Baking!

Decadent Chocolate Orange Biscotti Recipe

1 3/4 Cups Gluten Free Flour Mix *

1/4 Cup Date Sugar

3/4 Cup evaporated Cane Sugar

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 cup dutch Processes or Raw Cocoa

3/4 tsp baking powder (1 1/2 if you are at sea level)

1/8 tsp baking powder (1/4 if you are at sea level)

1/4 tsp salt

3 Eggs

1 Egg White

Zest of 1 Orange

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp Orange Extract

1/2 Cup slivered Almonds, pistachios, or your favorite nut (optional)

1/2 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.    In a large mixing bowls, combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.    Mix well.   In another bowl, add Eggs, Orange Zest, Vanilla and Orange Extract.  Mix well.   Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.   Let batter sit for a few minutes or put in the Fridge for about 10 minutes.   It will be sticky.   On a lined baking sheet, spread out half the batter into a long thin log…about 12 inched long x 3 inches wide.

Bake for 20 minutes.   Delicately and with a serrated knife, mark the biscotti at an angle into 1 inch wide pieces.   Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Wholesome Chocolate Orange Biscotti

1 3/4 Cups (+ 2 TBS at high altitude) Gluten Free Flour Blend *

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa

1 tsp Baking Powder (double if at sea level)

1/8 tsp Baking Soda (double if at sea level)

1 tsp Salt

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 TBS Ground Flax Seed

6 TBS Water

1/2 Cup Rice Bran Oil ( Coconut or Vegetable Oil)

1/2 Cup Honey

Zest of 1 Orange

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Orange Extract

Preheat the Oven to 350.   In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.  Mix well.   In a small bowl, add the ground flax-seed and water.   Mix well and let sit for a few minutes.  In another bowl, add the eggs, orange zest, honey, oil, vanilla and orange extract and the flax-seed mix. Mix together well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well mixed.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.   The batter will be sticky.   On a lined baking sheet, spread out half the batter into a long thin log…about 12 inched long x 3 inches wide.

Bake for 20 minutes.   Delicately and with a serrated knife, mark the biscotti at an angle into 1 inch wide pieces.   Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool and slice all the way through.

Gluten Free Flour blend
I make a big batch and store it in a glass container in the fridge.

4 Cups Brown Rice Flour

2 Cups Almond Flour

1 Cup Tapioca Flour

1 Cup Sweet Sorghum Flour

1/2 Cup Cornmeal

1/3 Cup Coconut Flour

1 tbs Xanthum Gum

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My Pantry

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I wanted to share some items that I keep in my pantry.   I am not suggesting you buy everything on the list, but here are some items I use regularly or that are nice to have in the pantry, just in case.  Aside from these,  I keep a vegetable drawer (or two) full of a variety of vegetables, local eggs, and in the freezer, I keep frozen organic berries, edamame beans, and some frozen vegetables.  My family and I also try to eat Salmon about once a week.  I just heard about this sustainable seafood site called I Love Blue Sea  and they do overnight shipping.   I hope this is helpful and I will update this with more information from time to time, so check back!


Having items in your pantry makes it much easier to make recipes and cook healthy.   Here is a list of what I like to keep in my pantry.

I buy local or organic products whenever I can.   And with oils, I try to use cold-pressed oils and unrefined oils.

OILS and FATS:

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold pressed– I use this in salad dressings and over vegetables.  I try not to bake or saute with EVOO because it changes the composition of the oil and can become not so healthy.

Walnut Oil-:  High in Omega 3.  Keep in the fridge and use in salad dressings.  This oil should not be heated.

Flax Seed Oil-: High in Omega 3.   Keep in Fridge and use in salad dressings or on vegatables.  This oil should not be heated.

Coconut Oil- virgin and unrefined:  I use this for sauteing and roasting and is stable at high temperatures.  It has many health benefits due to the presence of acids such as lauric acid and their antioxidant, antimicrobial properties.

Rice Bran Oil- I use this  instead of Canola or Vegetable Oil in baking recipes.   I just started using it and you can buy it here or here and  probably at Whole Foods.  It is the oil extracted from the germ and bran of rice and is stable at high heat.

Organic or Grass Fed Butter: It is stable at high temperatures and I use it to saute, bake and roast various foods.

FLOURS:

Here are some of the flours I use in baking recipes.  Most of these are Gluten Free, but if you have no problem with gluten,  I would add whole wheat pastry flour, whole wheat flour but try to stay away from white flour.

Almond Flour- high in protein and adds a nice moisture to recipes.   Try adding 1/4 cup almond flour for a cup of wheat flour.

Brown Rice Flour- I use this as a base for most of my gluten free flour mixes

Coconut Flour- high in protein but cannot be replaced in a recipe for wheat flour.  Very absorbent

Oat Flour

Tapioca Flour

Quinoa Flour

Teff Flour- has a really nice nutty flavor

GRAINS:  I encourage everyone to try some new grains. Many of these are ancient grains used widely in other parts of the world.  They have a lot of protein and nutrients.

Brown Rice

Quinoa

Polenta

Millet

Teff

Amaranth

BEANS/LEGUMES:

I keep a variety of dried beans in my pantry including:

Black Beans

Kidney Beans

Lentils

Garbanzo Beans

SUGAR:

Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar

Date Sugar

Coconut Palm Sugar

Maple Sugar

Raw Honey

Maple Syrup- Grade B

Brown Rice Syrup

SPICES–   If you have spices that have been in your cabinet for more the 1 year, Toss them!   Spices do not last forever and some even say over 6 months is too long.  Most health Food stores have them in the bulk section so you can just buy a little at a time.  Buying them in their whole form and grating them as needed is best.

Cayenne Pepper

Cinnamon

Tumeric

Cumin

Curry Powder

Nutmeg

Fennel Seeds

VINEGARS:

Apple Cider Vinegar

Red Wine Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Brown Rice Vinegar

OTHERS:

Shoyu or Tamari Soy Sauce

Coconut Milk– thickens and flavors recipes

Crushed Tomatoes( In Glass Containers)

Tahini– sesame seed puree

Dried Mushrooms – can be reconstituted for soups or other dishes

Molasses

Flax Seeds- Rich in Omega 3 I grind them in my coffee grinder and sprinkle on everything from toast to popcorn to salads.

Chia Seeds– Rich in Omega 3

Dried Coconut Flakes– great in baking recipes

Dark Chocolate- try for at least 70 percent cocoa

Celtic Sea Salt- contains lots of minerals

Capers

Variety of  raw nuts and seeds


Homemade Granola

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Eric had been waiting for me to make this for weeks and even though it is quick and easy, I just hadn’t made the time.   He was on a ski trip in Utah and the kids and I were home on Sunday so I thought it would be a nice surprise to have it for him when he got back.    Sundays are a great day to make food for the week, whether it be granola, a big pot of soup or chili, or a casserole type dish you can eat for the next few days.  It makes eating whole foods a lot easier.

We woke up that Sunday morning to almost of foot of fresh snow which was very exciting, especially since it hasn’t snowed much this winter.    The kids were excited to go out and play!   We tried to make a snowman but Max and Cea thought it was more fun to jump on top of the big ball of snow I just spend 20 minutes forming, so we didn’t get too far with that project.    Snow angels were fun too, and we attempted to sled do the big hill in our back yard but there was just too much snow and we didn’t move very far.    After being outside for a while,we headed in for some hot chocolate and baking.   My kids love to help pour the ingredients into the bowl and it’s an easy way to get them involved in the cooking process.    They can’t do much chopping at this age so I have to give them age appropriate jobs.    When I make salads, they usually fight over who gets the use  the salad spinner and wait anxiously for their turn…or just grab it from each other when they can no long wait:)    I think it’s important to get the kids cooking early in life.   Cecilia, my 2 year old is always saying, “Let’s do a recipe, mom!”

This is a recipe from The Kind Diet Cookbook that I have altered a bit.   It calls for maple sugar, which is excellent but it is also expensive.   I had run out of it so I used coconut sugar instead and have also tried date sugar.    Sugar is sugar but coconut and date sugar have less of a glycemic index,  more nutrients and are less refined.  Sugar is probably my biggest vice and something that I need to take a break from… but until further notice, I will post some yummy sweets.    I used to buy Grade A Maple Syrup because I assumed A was better than B and worth that extra dollar.    Then I learned that B is actually less processed and a darker color, meaning it had more nutrients.    Again, sugar is sugar…the body doesn’t really care where it comes from.

I added ground flax seed because it is a great way to get omega 3 essential fatty acids which are heart healthy and add some fiber.   The flax seeds need to be ground because whole flax seeds will go right through you and you won’t get the benefits. I buy whole flax seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder right before I use them.   I also use natural dried Coconut, not sweetened coconut flakes.  This are a lot of options in the recipe to suite your tastes from what sweetener you use to your choice of nuts and seeds.

Homemade Granola:

slightly adapted from The Kind Diet

6 Cups Oats ( I use Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar (Or Maple Sugar)

1/4 Cup Flax Seed (Ground)

1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut (unsweetened)

!/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds (or Sesame Seeds)

1 Cup Sliced Almonds (or any chopped nut or dried fruit)

1/2 Cup Sunflower Oil

1/3 Cup Maple Syrup ( or use 1/3  Brown Rice Syrup for a less sweet version)

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.   Spread the oats on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.   Transfer the oats  to a mixing bowl and add the Sugar, Flax Seed, Coconut Flakes, Seeds and Nuts or Fruit.  Mix well.   In a small bowl, mix the Oil, Maple Syrup, and Vanilla.   Add to the Oats an mix well until the Oats are well coated.

Spread the mixture on a large baking sheet, or 2 smaller ones and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring half way through.  Let cool and store in an airtight container.

ArtichokeTart with Polenta Crust

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I can remember my first buttery bite of artichoke heart.   I was in third or four grade, sitting at our white formica dinner table (that is now my work table in my ceramic studio!) in our dining room on 2nd Street in Brooklyn, NY.   Classic 70’s wallpaper – a mustard yellow with birds and butterflies, if memory serves.    I am sure I had a disgusted look on my face as I watched my parents dip leaves into a ramekin of butter and skim off the flesh of the inner part of the leaf with their teeth.    What the heck are they eating??   And they were probably telling me how delicious it was while making audible mmming sounds as they ate their artichoke, coercing me to try a bite.   Then I witnessed a very strange thing for a 4th grader.   After eating the bulk of the leaves, they got to a part where the leaves got smaller and smaller and less fleshy.  As they pealed it away, they came to a strange hairy center, which they plucked out with delight.  They were coming to the treasured part.  With a knife, they cleaned about the outer edges and there it was.  The heart.   It was probably the ramekin of melted butter that made me feel daring that night.   As my mom cut her artichoke heart into quarters, I slowly pressed my fork down and the picked the heart, dunked it into the butter and swirled it around, getting a good covering and then popped it  into my mouth.    It was heavenly!    Somewhat sweet, a little salty from the butter, and maybe to most delicious thing I had tasted to date.    A love affair began.  The leaves are good on their own, but that heart.   You have to work to get to it but it is worth every bit of effort.

I love eating whole artichokes with that ramekin of butter, ( and garlic) but I was looking for a new artichoke recipe.   The Wednesday Chef   is a great blog.   She reviews recipes in the New York and LA Times and had a recipe by Maria Speck that I knew I had to try.  We were having a dinner party in a few days with some friends from Denver who were bringing a  whole bunch of crab legs and I needed something to go with it.   I made a nice big mixed green salad with fennel and pomegranate seeds as well as two of these tarts, since there were 14 of us.    It is hard to compete with crab legs, but the tart was a hit.   I love the polenta crust and it held together very nicely.

Artichoke Tart with Polenta Crust
Make one 10-inch tart
(recipe Adapted from Maria Specks Ancient Grains for Modern Meals)

Crust:
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups water
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups polenta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

A bowl of cold water for spreading the polenta

Artichoke filling:
1 cup mascarpone (or plain whole fat yogurt)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces artichoke hearts, canned or frozen
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 F.

Bring the broth and water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt. Slowly add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly, and continue whisking for 30 seconds. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every few minutes to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.  In a bowl, mix together the eggs, cheese and pepper.   Add it to the polenta and stir until well combined.

 Grease a pie or cake pan with olive oil.  A 10″ pan works well but if you only have an 8″ pan, you will either have a thicker crust, or don’t use all the polenta.   (It makes a nice snack). Have a bowl of cold water ready.  Spoon the polenta into the pan and press it out, pushing it up the sides. Dipping a wooden spoon in cold water really helps move and smooth the polenta.   The crust is going to have a rustic look.

Whisk the mascarpone, eggs, green onions, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper together until well-combined.  Place the quartered artichoke hearts evenly over the polenta crust. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the artichokes and pour the mascarpone filling evenly over the artichokes.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake  for about 45 minutes, or until the top turns golden brown.   Let is cool for about 30 minutes and serve.

The tart can be prepared up to one day ahead.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Spinach Bowl

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I just got back from a beautiful X-Country ski out Cement Creek Road.    It  is my favorite winter activity and such a peaceful way to spend the afternoon.        It’s one of the reasons I love living in the mountains and I feel very lucky to have this out my back door.   It’s also an activity I did often with my Dad and I really miss him.   On my ski today, I took my little red ipod, the one with all my school course work and was listening to Paul Pitchford, MS who wrote a book called Healing with Whole Foods, talk about Chinese Medicine.  I kept thinking that I wouldn’t be studying holistic health and nutrition if I hadn’t lost my dad to cancer.    It changed my world and I knew after he died that things couldn’t or shouldn’t  just go on the same for me.   It was over a year after his death that I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and it was one of those things in life where I just knew it was right.  I didn’t know I was looking for it until I found it.    So on my ski,  I was thinking about my dad, thinking about slowing down and thinking about my wedding day.   Eric and I had our wedding reception here…in a field on the other side of those pine trees.    It was the best night, and I am grateful that my Dad was there with us.   I encourage you all to slow down, take some time to relax and do something you love.  Slowing down is something people rarely do, but you deserve to, as we all do.    Cooking with whole foods involves slowing down.   We are a culture that is so used to opening a package and getting food fast, but slowing down and cooking a real meal for your family is a gift.

I have been talking to various people lately about food allergies and food sensitivities so I thought I would post a recipe that I think is pretty allergy free (if that is possible).     I noticed a lot of my recipes have nuts in them so here is one that is nut free, dairy free and delicious.   It makes a wonderful family dinner and I turned the leftovers into quesadillas the next day for a perfect lunch.  I have said it before but again, cooking once and eating twice makes life much easier!       The one step in the recipe that I plan ahead for is soaking the black beans   overnight.   Could you use a can of black beans, certainly.  But it will compromise the taste and nutrient level.   Anything that can sit on a shelf in a can of water for a year or more just can’t be as healthy as soaking the dry bean.    I made homemade hummus for a cooking class last month with dried garbanzo beans that I soaked and it tasted unlike any hummus I have ever had.   The taste of the beans is so much richer.  Everyone wanted the recipe and I will be posting that  soon!    So it’s your choice.  If you think about it ahead of time and can soak the beans, I recommend it!   I soak the rice too because it makes it easier to digest and helps with nutrient absorption.   These are steps that  might might take some time to get used to.

I used a homemade vegetable broth in this recipe which is very simple to make.   You can roast any vegetables you have in the fridge.  I like to use onions, carrots, parsnips, celery root and carrots…but if I some some veggies that are looking on their way out, I will throw them in.    I chop the vegetables and roast them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  In a large stock pot filled with about 10-12 cups of boiling water, I put the roasted vegetables in and simmer for about 1-2 hours.  Viola, vegetable broth.  If you are going to use it that week, store it in your fridge, or you can freeze it for a later day.

I hope you enjoy and would love to hear from you!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Spinach Bowl

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Black Beans, soaked for 8-12 hours or 1 can black beans, rinsed

2 medium Sweet Potatoes, diced

3 cups of Spinach, washed

1/2 medium Onion, finely chopped

1 Cup Crushed Tomatoes

2 Cups Vegetable Broth, preferable homemade

2 TBS Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

Cooked Brown Rice

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Fresh Lime Juice

Jalepeno

2 Limes

Grated Cheddar Cheese  (optional)

If using dried beans that you soaked overnight, start by cooking the beans in a medium saucepan covered and inch with water and cook for about  45 minutes ( or use a pressure cooker).  In another saucepan, cook the rice.  

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the  Sweet Potatoes and 1 TBS Oil together and lay on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.      In a large  pan (I use a cast iron pan) saute the onions in  1 TBS Oil and 1 cup of vegetable broth for a few minutes until it is soft.   Add the Spinach and cook for a few more minutes.   Then add the Sweet Potatoes, Beans, Tomatoes and Vegetable Broth and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add paprika, cumin and salt.   Squeeze juice of one 1 lime over the mixture.  

Serve over rice with jalepeno and lime slices, and some grated Cheddar Cheese, if you like.

Enjoy the leftover the next day in a quesadilla with some fresh avocado.