Monthly Archives: March 2012

Coconut Flour Muffins with Honey and Orange Zest

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Great News-  Max had another MRI in Denver this week and it came back totally normal!! He also saw the ophthalmologist and his optic nerves and eyesight look perfect!  We are so happy and relieved.   There is still no answer as to why this all happened but I am sure we will continue to theorize our own ideas about it.   We are slowly weaning him from his medicine.  Thank you for all the suggestions for giving him his meds.   The method that stuck was the marshmallow.    He hardly complains anymore, but always needs another something sweet to wash down the “gross marshmallow taste.”  And after spending some time  at Children’s Hospital,  we are ever so grateful and feel so lucky to have two healthy children.

In the spirit of Max, I thought I would share his favorite muffins.   These muffins do not last long in my house and they have been my kids  favorite for a while.   Coconut flour is  high in protein and dietary fiber and  naturally gluten free.   I feel a sense of comfort (or is it relief?) and happiness if my kids eat their vegetables or finish all the salmon on their plate.   It’s like I can check that (eating well) off the list for the day.    I also feel good watching my kids gobble up these muffins.

If you haven’t baked with coconut flour, you can not exchange it 1 : 1 for regular flour.   It is a very absorbent flour.  If you want to add some coconut flour to a recipe, start with 15-20% of the total flour.   I would recommend adding a tablespoon or two to your pancake batter for some added fiber.   I adapted this recipe from Tiana Coconut products and have been changing it a little every time I make it.  I started adding some ground flax seeds, have played around with the amount of honey and since I live at high altitude, I half the baking powder.

This recipe is simple to make.  One step I hope you take is to melt the oil or butter in a small saucepan on the stove.   Back away from the microwave.   Please 🙂  I know it is convenient but might be it’s only redeeming quality.    Studies have show that microwaving food reduces the minerals, vitamins and nutrients in that food and some microwaved food has shown to be carcinogenic.   Did you hear about the chemical in microwaved popcorn called diacetyl which is used to give it the buttery flavor?   Apparently inhaling the fumes causes scarring to the lungs and a lot of workers at the popcorn factory got sick with “popcorn lungs.”   I bought an air popper years ago and still love it.    If you want to read some article about the dangers of microwaves click here or here.   I prefer heating things on the stove or in the toaster oven and I think the food tastes better.   You decide what’s best for you.

I hope you enjoy these muffins!

Coconut Flour Muffins (16-20 mini muffins or about 6 regular muffins)

3 Organic Eggs

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil or Butter

2 Tbsp Coconut Milk (or any milk)

2-3 Tbsp Honey

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda (1/8 at high altitude)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 Cup Coconut Flour

2 tsp ground Flax Seed

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Zest of 1/4 -1/2 an Orange

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.   In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil or butter.  (Please step away from the microwave).  In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a fork until combined.  Add milk, honey, salt, baking soda, vanilla, coconut oil, cinnamon, flax seed, and orange zest.  Mix together and then add the coconut flour.  Coconut flour tends to get clumpy, so mix thoroughly.  The mixture will be thick.

Grease the muffin pan (or use silicone muffin liners which work great).  Fill about 3/4 full.  For mini muffins bake for 9-11 minutes.  For regular muffins, bake for about 15-18 minutes.


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Celery Root Soup

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I felt a little fancy when I made this but we all deserve to eat food that looks beautiful and was made fresh.  We had some friends coming for dinner and it’s great to be able to serve something that is fairly easy to make, but looks like it’s something you would order in a restaurant.

I am trying to be conscious of how many things I put in my mouth that come out of a bag, box or can and to really limit it.  Eating real food can really change the way you feel.   So I encourage everyone to just be a little more conscious of where their food comes from and try to eat foods that only have one ingredient (ie. broccoli, lettuce, eggs, walnuts, chicken, quinoa) and not foods with an ingredient list so long it takes up the whole side of the box and is filled with names no one can pronounce.  As Michael Pollen suggests, “avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.”

Let’s get back to our roots and start eating real.   And with that, I have a recipe for Celery Root Soup.   It is from a cookbook called The Conscious Cook by chef Tal Ronnen and the recipes in his book  make eating vegan taste decadent.   Now,  don’t shy away because I said vegan.  Tasting it, you wouldn’t believe it’s vegan because of a little secret weapon a lot of vegans use in their food.

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Sweet Potato Cakes

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These are so delicious.  Really.  They are.  They are the perfect appetizer to bring to a party or would make a great lunch with a salad or soup.

I was looking at some food blogs a couple of months ago and I tend to be a little tab crazy. Oftentimes there are a dozen tabs open on my browser and I can’t even remember what linked me to where,  But somewhere along the way, someone recommended a cookbook that interested me and next thing I knew, I was ordering it.

It is a beautiful vegetarian cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi from his column ‘The New Vegetarian’ for London’s The Guardian’s Weekend magazine.   I looked at it for a month or so before I actually tried one of the recipes mainly because I couldn’t decide which to try first.   I think I made a good choice.  It was one of the less complicated recipes and since my kids love sweet potatoes, I thought they would love them.

My hopes were a little to high in that regard.   On the plate below, the only thing the kids ate, besides a fly size taste (and that might be too generous)  of the sweet potato cakes, were the carrots and peppers.   Followed by more carrots and peppers.  Followed by whole wheat toast with butter, sprinked with ground flax seed,  It’s one of the few things I can get away with!  Followed by another piece of toast with jelly – and some peanut butter hiding under it.   Oh well.   Just gotta keep trying I guess.  Eric and I talk the talk about being firm with the kids and saying, “if you don’t eat this, then you can go to bed hungry.” but we don’t walk the walk.   We cave.    After they took the ” try it bite” aka the “no thank you bite,”  they had worked themselves up to an intensity far beyond what you would think would be the normal scope for trying a bite of a new food.  It really would have been cruel not to give them something else to eat.

If you are making this for kids who don’t like spicy food  I would take out some of the mixture before adding the red pepper.  And if you don’t want to fry the cakes, I am sure they would taste great baked.  Let me know if you try that!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Eric and me.

RECIPE:  makes about 16-20 small cakes

(adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)


2 medium Sweet Potatoes, cut into chucks

2 tsp Shoyu soy sauce

3/4 cup flour ( I used a gluten free blend, but use your favorite)

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp sugar

3 Tbsp green onions, chopped

1/2-1 tsp finely chopped red chili (OR NOT, if you are serving to kids or don’t like spice)

2 Tbsp butter, for frying

Sauce:

2 Tbsp mascarpone (sour cream or plain yogurt)

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Steam sweet potatoes chunks for about 15 minutes, or until they are soft all the way through and you can easily stick a fork in it.    In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher.  Add shoyu, green onions, flour, salt, sugar, and pepper( if using) and mix.   Form into patties.

In a large pan on medium heat, melt 1 tbsp butter (or oil) and fry half of the cakes.  Fry for about 6 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.  Place in between two sheets of paper towel to soak up the extra butter. Repeat with the rest of the cakes

For the Sauce, mix all ingredients well and add a dollop on top of each sweet potato cake.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction

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I haven’t written for a while because life threw us for a loop about a month ago.  One day my 4 year old son was his normal energetic self and the next day he’s on the couch with a headache and not enough energy to even sit up.  Our month has been full of doctors visits which, when you live in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, turns into full day or even week long excursions.  Max had a headache, a day of vomiting, constant fatigue, and then eventually he had some double vision and facial nerve palsy.   February, leading into March has consisted of over half a dozen doctors visits, multiple ER’s, CT scans, blood work, MRI, and a lumbar puncture in multiple towns and cities including Crested Butte, Gunnsion, Montrose and Denver.  Grand Junction is about the make the list too.    The best news is that what Max has is not life threatening!  The scary part is that he has papilledema caused by idiopathic intracranial hypertension.   Papilledema is swollen optic nerves which resulted from too much cerebral spinal fluid which caused the intracranial hypertension.  Idiopathic is a fancy word doctors have for “we have no idea why this happened.”   No tumor thank goodness, no virus, and no real trauma, although he had some minor incidences… what toddler doesn’t!   We are still in the “gathering information” stage and have a follow up MRI as well and appointments with the neurologist and ophthalmologist (which is a word that never gets easier for me to spell) and are hoping that this is a one time random occurrence that will not effect his vision.  Max has his energy back and is laughing and playing which is so incredibly wonderful.  Skiing is out for the season but he is thrilled to be back at school a couple days a weeks and playing with friends.

One of the biggest daily challenges is getting him to take his medicine.    I hate that he even has to take pills everyday, but I know that for now he does to reduce the possible build up of fluid in his brain.   Getting that pill into him twice a day is becoming a battle.   So far, I am the winner, but boy does he put up the good fight!   The pharmacist and doctors calls them “sprinkles” because you can open the pill and there are little while pellets or “sprinkles” and they tell parents to just sprinkle it on their yogurt or applesauce as though it’s no big deal.  Really?   Have you met my son? Do you have kids?   You don’t think Max is going to question those white specks in his food?  Really?    If I buy a different type of applesauce than Max is used to that is a shade darker, forrgetaboutit.   Nope.   He won’t go near it.   It is ridiculous but I am pretty sure he got this trait from me and not his father.  Payback time- you know what they say.

If anyone been through this and has tips, I am all ears!  We have been putting it in a marshmallow for the last couple weeks and at first it worked like a charm.  He would complain of a yucky taste in his teeth but I would quickly give him another (medicine free) marshmallow to take the taste away. But he is on to us now.  There is no more lying and saying, ” No sweetie, there is no medicine in there.”   Poor kid isn’t going to believe a word I say if I keep that up.   So we are being Honest Abe about it and explaining why he has to take the meds and that no, this is not something mom and dad are backing down from.   The drama he displays is quite a show and the amount of bribes he has been offered this month is getting ridiculous.  From sweets to toys, uh yuh yuh!   I try to take the healthiest approach to junk so it is Sunspire Sun Drops instead of M&M’s, Yummy Earth lollipops instead of blowpops, and vegan, air puffed, all natural marshmallows to Kraft ones.  But really, besides the absence of harmful food coloring and other more natural ingredients, it’s still junk.    Again, any tips are welcome!   We did offer the medicine in pudding, ice cream and applesauce. Eric even tried to teach him how to swallow a pill…no go.  no sir.  no way.   Marshmallows it is…for now.

I have done some cooking this month but not much documenting.    Here is a very simple recipe.  I sort of feel like I am cheating, but simple is so nice sometimes.  Those who remember the boiled Brussels Sprouts from their childhood might shy away from this but I encourage you to give give the sprouts a chance!   You might be pleasantly surprised.  The reduced balsamic vinegar turns into a rich, thick and sweet sauce.   If you need some more convincing to get your husband to try Brussels Sprouts, after you brown them, put them in a pan on the stove with a half a bottle of beer and reduce them for about 10 minutes.

The Brussels Sprouts could be on their own as a side dish, or you could add them to a salad to make it a little more interesting and super delicious.

Here is this recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Cups Brussels Sprouts

Olive Oil

For the Salad:

Fresh Spinach

1/4 cup Pomegranate Seeds

1/4 Cup Slivered Almonds

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    Cut Brussels in half and drizzle olive oil on top with a sprinkle of celtic sea salt.     Lay them flat on a baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until they just start to brown.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan,  pour about a 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar into a small saucepan and reduce for 5-10 minutes.   Watch the pan fairly carefully or you could come back to a very thin layer of caramel like sauce!  The Balsamic will thicken up and you will end up with about half as much liquid as when you started.   Pour 1/4 of the reduction on to the Brussels Sprouts- or all of it if you are adding the Brussels Sprouts to a salad.

In a skillet ( I use a cast iron pan) toast the slivered Almonds.   You want to watch these fairly carefully or they will burn.   The time between not quite done and burnt it about 2 blinks of the eyelash.  Clean the  Spinach and take out  the Pomegranate seeds.   Put the Spinach in a serving bowl and pour about 1/8 cup Olive Oil and the rest of the Reduced Balsamic.   Add the pomegranates, almonds and Brussels and toss.   Enjoy!