Sweet Potato and Nut Butter Snack

Early morning Qigong sessions three times a week are energizing and really get my day off to a good start. It took me a while to figure out footwear – sandals, sneakers, or bare foot. I settled on some sneakers with plenty of toe room.

Did I want to eat before class or not? Just coffee, even with a goodly amount of coconut milk left me with a grumbling stomach by the end of the hour, not to mention the urge to eat the first available edible in the kitchen. Having a Breakfast Salad or a Smoothie in a Bowl produced internal gurgling sounds that I feared were amplified by the acoustics in our meeting room.

Several weeks ago a dear friend attended the annual East Texas Yamboree Festival  in Gilmer, Texas and acknowledging our shared love of all things sweet potato she brought me several freshly harvested sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a major crop in that area and if you are interested in some really decadent recipes you can find a couple at Tex Tater’s Home Page.

I love these golden gems pretty much straight up but a long time favorite mid-morning snack when I was working consisted of half of a small baked sweet potato garnished with cinnamon sugar and peanut butter. (That really helped to keep me out of the office donut box!)

You can ‘bake’ a sweet potato in the microwave – which works better if the sweet potatoes have dried out somewhat and do not contain a lot of moisture that steams up the microwave to the extent that opening the door rains moisture on your feet. Fresh sweet potatoes in the oven – oh my – the juices run out (don’t forget to pierce them like white potatoes) and caramelize on the pan!

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

For my early morning mini-snacks I scoop 2-3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato on to a plate, sprinkled cinnamon and sweetener, and added about a tablespoon of nut butter. I alternate between organic peanut butter and organic almond butter. Mashed together with a salad fork it doesn’t win a beauty contest so for a decent picture I scooped the mixture into a 3-ounce ramekin and took a quick picture before devouring all of it. A recipe looks something like this:

Ingredients for 1 serving:
3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato
1.5 tablespoons nut butter (peanut or almond)
2-3 shakes of ground cinnamon
1 packet of your favorite non-nutritive sweetener of your choice
(really – sweet potatoes have enough sugar and you may not need any)
(a monster sweet-tooth like mine needs it)

Method:
Mash the sweet potato. Then mash in the nut butter. Add the cinnamon and sweetener as the mixture is coming together.
Put in a small container with a secure lid for transport or eat it right away :-)

One large roasted sweet potato will make enough for several days so it may work better for your schedule to mix up the whole roasted sweet potato and portion it out into servings. Knowing full well that I would eat it all at once I make one serving at a time. That is my version of ‘portion control’ that works for me.

Sweet potatoes are in season. If you like them and/or your family likes them consider this as a highly nutritious budget friendly alternative to packaged options.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, November 7-11, 2013
http://www.rickiheller.com/2013/11/wellness-weekend-november-7-11-2013/
at Ricki Heller.com

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Breakfast (or Anytime) Salad

Smoothies, they’re everywhere! I don’t have and not sure I need/want a high-powered blender. After years of weight battles I long ago adopted the philosophy of only eating calories; never drinking them. But smoothies have an amazing combination of flavors and nutrition – what to do!

This morning I needed mega nutrients after a weekend of allergy misery and one full day mostly sleeping. I woke up too early and made my current favorite morning cup-of-coffee that includes coconut milk and coconut oil shaken together with stevia and vanilla for a caffeine kick plus gut healing.

I crawled back into bed and half-awake made a mental inventory of the nutritious elements in the refrigerator that needed using up this week. Plus, what could I have for breakfast? Somewhere in the middle of dozing I suddenly knew that I was getting out the food processor and chopping up my breakfast using some of those refrigerator goodies.

Breakfast (or Anytime) Chopped Salad

Breakfast (or Anytime) Chopped Salad

In the kitchen I quickly jotted down some notes as those foggy morning inspirations tend to disappear like clouds on a summer day. I took out celery, chickpeas (home-cooked), organic carrots, fresh parsley, walnuts (from the freezer), and a lonely pear leftover from making Grain-Free Autumn Fruit Crumble from *Ricki Heller’s fabulous new recipe book!

Breakfast (or Anytime) Salad
(Measurements are estimated)

1 1/2 cups rough chopped celery including leafy part

1 cup chickpeas, home-cooked (canned is OK)

1/2 cup carrot pieces

1 cup fresh parsley, cut up with scissors

1 fresh pear, cut up, peeled or not (an apple would work)

1/2 cup walnut pieces

12-14 Kalamata olives

Garlic powder

Sea salt

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse about 10 or 12 times. Check the consistency. Mine was finer than coleslaw but none of it was mushy. This amount made three packed 1-cup servings. There is a lot of space between the larger pieces that disappear when finely chopped and compressed.

Fast & Easy Chopping

Fast & Easy Chopping

I was amazed at how well this turned out as other ingredients were considered during the process. There was a jar that would not open, I could not remember where I put the balsamic vinegar, and another bottle (in the fridge) was empty. I had the sense of unseen helpers guiding my selections. :-)

Gretchen @gfedge

*Ricki Heller’s delightful publication, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is a recipe book of gourmet treats that just happens to be nutritious, allergy-adaptable food. ABC News featured article in their Lifestyle section was titled Gluten-Free Desserts You Have to Taste to Believe and the recipes from this book that are shared in the article will make you a believer!

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, October  10-14, 2013
http://www.rickiheller.com/2013/10/wellness-weekend-october-10-14-2013/
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free

Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free

Ricki Heller’s delightful publication, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is a recipe book of gourmet treats that just happens to be nutritious, allergy-adaptable food. ABC News featured article in their Lifestyle section was titled Gluten-Free Desserts You Have to Taste to Believe and the recipes from this book that are shared in the article will make you a believer!

Ricki means every word when she says; ‘I have taken great care to ensure that every recipe you make from this book will taste just as good as a traditional dessert — and some, even better! Yet not one of them contains gluten, eggs, dairy, or refined sugars, and all have a lower glycemic index than “regular” desserts.’

Scanning the recipes I chose this Grain-Free Autumn Fruit Crumble for the great fruit combination plus I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand – it was fate! The apple-cranberry-pear juices bubbled up through the cinnamon spiced crumble topping and I thought ‘a small bowl for dessert tonight and a larger one for breakfast tomorrow’. Who hasn’t had (or wanted) dessert for breakfast?

Breakfast or Dessert - How About Both!

Breakfast or Dessert – How About Both!

Ricki Heller is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who understands the effects that food choices can have on health and we reap the benefits of her knowledge in this, her latest book. All of the pantry staples have been carefully, thoughtfully chosen and described in detail as to the pros and cons of why they were chosen. Her All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix is described in the book but was shared long ago on her blog. If you cannot find the recommended millet flour locally you can order it on Amazon when you purchase the book – it is quite reasonable as gluten-free flours go.

The focus of these recipes is on eliminating the dreaded ‘sugar/carb craving’ by using real nutrient-dense foods, low-glycemic sugars, and further reducing the glycemic load by tweaking the sweetness with a bit of stevia. The introduction is packed with tips and techniques to ensure that each recipe performs for you. There is additional information regarding agreeable substitutions to adapt the recipes for you or your family members’ allergies.

This book is too good not-to-share and since I have family members who are gluten-free (ahh, genetics) I have ordered several more of these books.

Gretchen @gfedge

Note: If you missed out on Ricki’s first book, Sweet Freedom, it is now available on her website as an eBook. Those recipes are not gluten-free but the All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix can be substituted in equal measure for the original flours.

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Grain-free Croutons – Searching for Perfection

A funny thing happened on the way to see the whales in Alaska. We spent an extra day in Seattle to do a bit of sightseeing and the restaurant where we ate dinner had a gluten-free menu. My salad arrived with small, spherical, delicately crunchy, slightly salty ‘croutons’. Best crouton substitutes ever! I decided in that moment that I had to learn to make oven-roasted chickpeas like these!

Chickpea, Macadamia, & Falafel Croutons

Chickpea, Macadamia, & Falafel Croutons

Such was the beginning of several weeks of experiments in search of those perfect croutons. I should have taken a picture because the only memory retained was the slight saltiness, the pale color, and the delicate crunch. Once back home the search began with home-cooked chickpeas.

Option 1: After several batches of chickpeas, different internet recipes, varying lengths of time in the oven; nada, none of the batches were even close I did not want to give up.  Friends sampled them and we agreed – the spicy taste was great but the texture was not, certainly nothing like my memory of those delightful little salad morsels. On the plus side I had plenty of roasted chickpeas saved in the freezer.

Chickpeas  Saved for Travel Snacks

Chickpeas Saved for Travel Snacks

Option 2:  Fast forward ahead to Sister’s Day with Mandie, who recently moved to Austin and much closer to me! I brought over a batch of  Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad  (inspired by Ricki Heller’s Recipe ) for our lunch. As we ate I described the dilemma with the mysterious gluten-free, grain-free crouton. I can laugh now when I think about the scenarios we brainstormed. We even considered soaking chickpeas in a lye solution as in making hominy to achieve the white color!

Mandie & Worn-out, Dozing Augie

Mandie & Worn-out, Dozing Augie

While we talked Augie Dog was barking louder than we could talk. Mandie banished him to the backyard but since it was blazing hot she threw him in the pool to cool off. If he was still barking when he dried out it was ‘back in the pool’! When he quit barking and curled up on the porch he was allowed back inside. He was finally quiet and fell asleep in her arms.

Munchy, Munchy, Macadamia

Munchy, Munchy, Macadamia

Then Mandie brought out a special treat that she and Eric love – macadamia nuts. These were the treasured CROUTONS! Toasty, tender, delicately crunchy, I bought a POUND of them. After nibbling a handful for several days I sadly realized that these are meant for a not-very-often, once-in-a-while treat. They just don’t agree with my system – BOO! HISS! I thought I was done with this kind of disappointment when I gave up gluten!

Option 3:
Back to the drawing board and the chickpea obsession rolled on as I remembered an earlier post and thought about the flavors of Falafel  (from August 2009!). What if instead of frying falafel patties in a skillet, the olive oil is added to the batter? Then the batter is scooped in to tiny little portions and baked in the oven? Could those be croutons? Out came the recipe and the ingredients.

Falafel
1 cup (120 grams) garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon coriander, ground
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

You will need a medium sized bowl for mixing, a microwave-safe measuring cup for the liquids, and a flat baking sheet lined with parchment (it makes transferring and cleanup a breeze). I purchase parchment at the grocery store in the aisle featuring foil and waxed paper. Set your oven to 350*F. A small scoop is very handy (I bought mine a year ago to make gluten-free pfeffernusse cookies).

Combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix together thoroughly, a whisk is good, do not attempt to sift the flour. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and water in the measuring cup and heat the mixture in the microwave. Then add the hot liquid all at once to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Falafel Croutons Ready to Bake
Using a small scoop  or a teaspoon, measure out bits of the falafel dough onto the baking sheet. Move the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. When they are very pale golden brown turn off the heat and leave them to cool in the oven.

Go start the laundry, walk the dog, or go to a Qigong session. Take the falafels out of the oven after an hour, let them cool to room temperature, and put in a lidded jar. If they are not used up in a few days then label the jar and put it in the freezer. Makes about 36 falafel balls of this size.

Crispy Falafel Taste Test

Crispy Falafel Taste Test

My taste testing team at The Caring Place voted these the best yet. They are toasty, crispy, crunchy, and very close to what I was looking for. Maybe round is just too precious? It would be so easy to pat the dough flat with a spatula and cut into 2 inch squares and make falafel crackers.

So why don’t I just make croutons from stale, gluten-free bread?  I usually make my own gluten-free bread or go without. Homemade gluten-free bread is way too precious to allow it to go stale – leftovers get wrapped and frozen for future reference. These little falafel crisps are so simple and so easy; they are basically chickpea flour, seasonings, and hot water for the dough. Make a batch and you are set for two or three salads.

Gretchen @gfedge

Coming soon (September 12, 2013): Ricki Heller’s new cookbook will be released! As soon as I get my copy I will be joining the release party by making a recipe and posting about the other recipes. A pre-release order may be placed through Amazon for Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free.

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, August 8-12, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Eggplant Over Easy

It has been REALLY edgy around here lately and I haven’t felt adventurous in the kitchen. I have cooked; mostly tried and true recipes which have already been posted. I am not holding back on recipes to publish a cook book. Blogging is challenge enough for me and my recipes are posted on the website whenever I think they may be of interest.

In the spirit of health and green living Rita and I have started paying way more attention to vegetables as well as eating local and fresh. Both of us have been enjoying salads all along. But I am now looking more into easy preparation of cooked vegetables while Rita is focusing on smoothies through her association with Green Smoothie Girl.

Savory Eggplant

Savory Eggplant

This dish made with fresh eggplant has been especially enjoyable. It goes together quickly in the morning before the heat of the day sets in and once it is cooked it can stay put in the oven, slowly cooling, until you are ready for it. It can handle more or less seasoning than suggested. If you have fresh garlic and/or basil then use them. If you plan to use this mixture as a sauce for other ingredients then really season it up and add more olive oil to it. This gets even better in the refrigerator as the flavors meld.

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, about 1 lb

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can peeled & diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)

Set the oven to 350*F.
Add the olive oil to the bottom of a 9” square pan, preferably oven-proof glass. Add the salt, basil, and garlic to the oil.
Peel and dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces and add them to the oil in the pan. Stir the mixture so that the eggplant absorbs the oil and is coated with the seasoning.
Pour the entire can of tomatoes and juice over the eggplant and mix thoroughly.
Move the pan to the oven and bake for one hour. Stir about halfway through. Turn off the heat and leave the residual heat to evaporate much of the moisture from the vegetables.

This creates a very concentrated, savory eggplant mixture that can be used alone as a vegetable side dish or mixed with pasta, beans, or potatoes for a savory main course. It is also tasty served cold with or without salad greens.

Having nutritious food readily available helps to take the edge off when there are nerve-wracking days. We had recently had the air conditioning unit replaced (it is a rule that they will fail only in the hottest of weather) which was unsettling enough. But the changeable Texas weather also brought storms that did bad things to the roof – so three weeks later we were having a complete roof replacement.

 

Roofing Incident

Roofing Incident

The roofing supervisor guy had warned us about wall hangings, pictures, etc. that might need to be taken down before the pounding started. We thought we were prepared. The team stripping the old roof sounded like a pack of large squirrels running across the roof – not too bad. When the pounding started it was right in the corner of the office over my computer.

I had just sat down with breakfast and picked up the mouse. The roofers started nailing at that very moment. The big wooden Texas clock fell, hit the golf display, golf balls went flying, clock continued and hit my lidded ceramic jar containing wires, flash drives, etc. smashing it onto pieces, hitting my hand, golf balls bounced off my head. I am not sure what hit my breakfast bowl but it ended up on the floor, undamaged but containing a golf ball instead of my breakfast that was scattered on the floor. The clock was on the floor on the other side of my chair separated from its battery. I was unharmed but in a befuddled state of shock.

The roof looks good, the air conditioning works fine, and I have been inspired to use the cool mornings to do some maintenance on the flower beds. Chigger and ant bites, sore muscles from weeding and planting have done more collective damage to me physically than the roofing excitement.

Here’s to calm days ahead and good food ready and waiting for lunch and/or dinner :-)

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/07/25/wellness-weekend-july-25-29-2013/
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Cheese’ Biscuits – Grain-free and Vegan

Low-carb baked goods, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan sounds like an impossible task; and of course we want it to be delicious too! No wonder I haven’t blogged a lot lately when I set nearly impossible goals.

I made an awesome recipe for Cheddar Bay Almond Flour Biscuits (from Dianne at Delicious As It Looks) several times and everyone who tried them raves about them. Since they are gluten-free I didn’t think to offer one to my husband but he followed his nose to the cooling rack and asked ‘are these for anyone’? I was so delighted to share with him. He is slowly discovering that gluten-free food can be as good as or even better than gluten food.

A Dozen Perfect 'Cheese' Biscuits

A Dozen Perfect ‘Cheese’ Biscuits

Friends and family members are increasingly going to plant-based choices and I want to share my baked goodies with them. So I attempt to convert this treasured gluten-free, grain-free recipe to vegan. Vegan has the advantage that it also covers the situation for people who want to avoid eggs or dairy products whatever the reason. I am also happy to discover that vegan baked goods stay fresh longer which is a major advantage when traveling.

A Flatbread Experiment

A Flatbread Experiment

The almond flour that I use is from Honeyville. I order the blanched, 5 lb. bag when they have it on special. It has a finer texture than Bob’s Red Mill from the local grocery store although I use Bob’s when I need a coarser product. I use Bob’s for the coconut flour and golden flax meal in this recipe.

My vegan, smoky, cheesy sauce  prepared in the blender seemed like a good starting place. I modified it to eliminate the home-cooked beans and substituted more cashews. This version is very tasty although very, very dense. I may try a later version using the original cashew, bean, and coconut milk base which has a few more carbs and protein rather than so much fat. Or maybe not, did I mention that this is really tasty?

FYI: You do not need a high powered blender. My blender is about 15 years old, an Oster 10-speed that I use regularly and struggle with it at times. In this recipe it takes about 10-15 minutes to blend the cashews to a silky smooth consistency with constant encouragement from a spatula, scooping the mixture up from the sides, and pushing it towards the middle. We go through all of the speeds right up to 10 before it is done. When it gets to 8 it begins to sound like a single engine aircraft just before takeoff. Yes, the jar gets warm and the motor also. I have previously pushed this blender so hard that it was bucking on the counter and sending out smoke signals. It still hangs right in there with me!

Wet Ingredients
1 cup (150 grams) raw cashews, measured, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Wright’s Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Start with just the cashews and the coconut milk in the blender jar. By the time my cashews were soaked it had been a full day plus overnight in the fridge. They had started sprouting and had soaked up 60 grams of water for a total of 210 grams of drained, soaked cashews.

Start the blender running. It will hiccup and glurp as it works its way from chunks to coarse to smooth. Be prepared with a spatula to encourage it. The salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke seem to help it reach the satiny consistency it needs before adding the yeast which will absorb some of the moisture.

The 4 tablespoons of yeast is equal to 1/4 cup. But you will have to add it very slowly so just be aware. It will also do the hiccupping thing again. This makes about 1.25 cups of wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients
4 tablespoons (26g) golden flax meal, finely ground
1 tablespoon (7g) coconut flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 cups (272g) almond flour

Place the oven rack in the middle position. Set the oven between 350 and 400*F (depending on your oven).

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

Weigh out the golden flax meal and grind it to a powder using a small coffee grinder reserved for grinding seeds, spices, and coconut palm sugar. This step makes a big difference in the texture of the baked product.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl – DO NOT SIFT. Almond flour will totally gunk up a sieve so don’t even try. Use a whisk to mix all of the dry ingredients together. The almond flour will continue to lump but it is different lumps as you work so it eventually ends up evenly mixed.

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the wet ingredients in with the dry. Stir until well mixed and the dough is holding together. Dump it out on a clean smooth counter top or a non-absorbent cutting board. This dough can be very clingy if there is something rough to cling to.

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

Knead it a few times like ordinary bread dough. There is no gluten to ‘develop’ but kneading will distribute the moisture and form a smooth shiny lump of dough. Then it is ready to shape it into biscuits.

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

A spring activated scoop is the way I make uniform pieces. Alternately you can use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup. Measure out the pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into a ball. Then patty-cake the pieces between your palms, gently shape them, and place them on your baking pan. When all the dough is formed move the pan into the oven.

Note: Baked goods made with starchy gluten-free flours start losing flavor and texture unless eaten soon after they are done. Baked goods made from nutritionally dense gluten-free flours like these improve in texture and flavor over a day or two (much like soup that keeps getting better). I think that’s weird but I am also grateful.

Gretchen @gfedge

PS – I use a small kitchen scale with a tare option to weigh dry ingredients as much as possible. It gives more consistent results plus it saves on cleanup of measuring cups and spoons (lazy me).

This post is linked to:
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/05/02/wellness-weekend-may-2-6-2013/
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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A Compact Food Scale for Easier and More Accurate Measuring

When using a food scale for ratio baking suddenly became popular I thought it was a great idea. What really appealed to me was the ‘tare’ function. The scale is reset to zero and you weigh the next ingredient into the same bowl without using measuring cups. No measuring cups to wash – YES!

My Compact Kitchen Scale

My Compact Kitchen Scale

I bought my modestly priced kitchen scale from Amazon. I love their honest, sometimes snarky, reviews-by-customers. If there is a problem with the product you will be sure to hear about it. I especially like it when there are lots of reviews. Then I read the best and worst and most-recent before deciding to consider it as an option. If there are only a few reviews I tend to skip that product because the 5-star are likely to be employees or family and the 1-star are likely to be a competitor.

I have used this EatSmart Precision Pro – Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale w/ Extra Large LCD and 11 Lb. Capacity for over two years and am entirely happy with its quality and durability. I love this scale for the functionality plus the compact size that tucks neatly against the wall behind my recipe box.

Storage Is Easy

Storage Is Easy

The following is Amazon’s product description:

The EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale is a versatile multifunction home appliance. Designed to be highly accurate and aesthetically pleasing, the Precision Pro is manufactured to the highest quality specifications. Weigh items up to 11 lbs quickly and accurately, with results displayed in four different units: grams / ounces / pounds / kilograms.

For cooks – Weigh food items directly on the scale platform or utilize the scale’s tare (zero) function, which eliminates the weight of a plate or bowl and makes cleanup a snap. The high resolution screen provides easy viewing angles on any kitchen counter and the five rubber feet eliminate sliding. Additionally the three minute auto-turnoff feature ensures that you will never again lose your measurement in the middle of your recipe prep!

For Weight Loss Goals / Disease Management – The Precision Pro is ultra accurate, precise to .05 ounce / 1 gram increments and perfect for calorie or carbohydrate counting. The scale now includes a FREE EatSmart Calorie Factors book for easy calorie counting (simply multiply the grams of food by the calorie factor in the book)! Stop guessing about portion sizes and start living a healthier lifestyle today.

Gretchen @gfedge

 

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Chocolate Almond Coconut Milk

Chocolate milk, it’s not just for kids. My milk mustache is definitely not white even though my hair is mostly white at this age. An alternative milk is definitely appreciated for those with lactose-intolerance and/or gluten-intolerance complicated by cross-reactive dairy issues.

After experimenting off and on during the  winter months I settled on making this blend a quart at a time. A glassful tastes yummy shaken and served right out of the fridge during the summer heat. It is also wonderful served hot in a mug instead of coffee or tea on a cold morning.

Re-purposed Glass Jars

Re-purposed Glass Jars

You don’t need a fancy bottle. I save and re-purpose glass bottles from the store that previously contained juices or gluten-free pasta sauces (yes, I know, I should make my own sauce but sometimes the jar makes a good meal possible when time is short).

These ingredients were all sourced at my local HEB grocery store. I keep Hershey’s original cocoa on hand, various non-nutritive sweeteners as they appear on the market, a good quality of vanilla, the HEB store brand of almond milk, and various brands of coconut milk as long as they do not contain preservatives.

Sweeteners differ considerably in perceived level of sweetness and it varies greatly by individual even within a family. I have a feeling that the quantity of nectresse™ that I used here will be too much for many. Start with the lower amount (or even less if you are a super-taster). You can always add more to reach the right level for your taste preference.

Adding the Ingredients

Adding the Ingredients


Chocolate Almond Coconut Milk – gfedge

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2-1 tablespoon nectresse™* (or your prefered sweetener)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup coconut milk, full-fat

3 cups almond milk

You will need a clean one quart glass bottle or mason jar with a screw-on cap that seals well. It will be used for shaking the ingredients together, initially to mix and then again just before serving.

Add the warm water and the cocoa powder to the jar. Shake and swirl to completely dissolve the cocoa powder before adding the other ingredients. Screw on the cap and shake to be sure the cocoa is completely dissolved. This should prevent it from clumping.

Add your sweetener of choice, the vanilla, and both of milks. Screw on the cap and shake well. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Shake again just before serving.

The full-fat coconut milk adds a healthy fat, tastes really good, and it helps to keep the ingredients evenly mixed!

Shaken, Not Stirred!

Shaken, Not Stirred!

Makes 1 quart.

Note*: nectresse™ is made by the company that brought us SPLENDA® brand sucralose, hardly a good recommendation but I was curious. The closest I can come to a calorie count for nectresse™ in measuring for baked goods is the evasive 1/4 teaspoon = zero calories and it is a ‘free food’ for diabetics at four ‘servings’. The most positive thing I can say about this product is that the label does not list any ingredients that I would not use if the ingredients were labeled ‘organic’ or ‘nonGMO’, which they are not.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend April 25-29, 2013
http://dietdessertndogs.com/2013/04/25/wellness-weekend-april-25-29-2013
Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

 

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Lemon Thins plus dōTERRA Essential Oils

Rita is presenting Medicine Cabinet Makeover, an overview of dōTERRA essential oils used as at-home plant-based medicine, at the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, 4701 West Gate Blvd., Austin, TX 78745 on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (CDT). As a student of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture she is intent on adding the knowledge of essential oils to her healing repertoire. This presentation is free, open to the public, and adequate free parking is available. Please register for this event at Eventbrite.

When Rita became interested in dōTERRA essential oils it reminded me of my own dormant interest in oils. Using some of the dōTERRA oils that Rita gave me, reading the related reference book, and researching additional information inspired me to experiment with oils in the kitchen. I love experimenting in the kitchen and the lemon oil, Citrus limon, was the first one that I chose to use.

I modified the Lemon Almond Shortbread Cookies from I Breathe I’m Hungry by Mellissa Sevigny for this experiment. Be sure to check out Mellissa’s basic shortbread recipe including the nutrition stats. Her other original paleo and low-carb recipes are also deserving of attention.

The shortbread was the base for creating this gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free version of Lemon Thins, the brown-edged, crispy, wafer-thin cookies that Nabisco discontinued quite some time ago. I remember them from when I was in high school as they seemed to be a favorite at our house. This batch of cookies turned out to be very close to my memory of those delicately sweet, tangy, crispy little morsels. The aromatic lemon oil releases a delightful lemon fragrance and the flavor is fully present in every bite. These are the perfect treat to have with a cup of tea, coffee, or with a scoop of your favorite frozen dessert.

Lemon Thins to Share with Friends

Lemon Thins to Share with Friends


Lemon Thins

6 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
2 cups almond flour
1/8 teaspoon ground roasted coriander (optional)
1/3 cup granulated sweetener
(Truvia, Ideal, Swerve, I used Nectresse)
6 drops lemon essential oil (dōTERRA CTPG Lemon)

Instructions
Measure the almond flour, coriander, and sweetener into a bowl, stirring with a whisk until fully combined. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a microwave or use a small saucepan on the stove. Stir in the lemon oil. Mix with the almond flour combination stirring until all of the butter is absorbed and crumbly dough begins to form and come together.

Rolling and Wrapping the Log

Rolling and Wrapping the Log

Tear off a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap (I think wax paper is easier to wrangle), dump the dough on top, and squish the dough into a log along the 12” width and keep pinching, patting, and stretching it into a log until the ends are about 1 1/2” from each end of the paper/plastic. Work the dough and wrap tightly while rolling and compressing it to form a smooth cylinder about 8-9 inches long.

Secure the Ends with Tape

Secure the Ends with Tape

Fold up the ends of the paper/plastic and seal with tape so that it stays tightly compressed. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more. You can leave it overnight or longer because you now have a homemade slice-and-bake cookie dough roll.

To Bake: Pre-heat your oven to 350*F. Prepare a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet. These cookies do not spread so they can be placed very close together although not touching.

Unwrap the cookie log and slice into 1/4 inch thick cookies with a thin sharp knife. If you used butter and they crumble apart your dough isn’t cold enough. Place each slice on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until firm and light golden brown around the edges. Watch them carefully as they approach the finish line. They can go from toasty to scorched in 1/2 a minute.

Crispy Cookies with Perfectly Browned Edges

Crispy Cookies with Perfectly Browned Edges

Allow to cool very briefly on the pan before moving to a cooling rack. They are tender and break easily while warm so a small, thin spatula is very helpful. Once completely cooled they are firm with a delicately crispy-crunchy texture.

I tried to use some of the dough for thumbprint cookies with a jelly filling but the jelly soaked into the cookie. They were tasty even while not-so-attractive.

Jelly Melted and Soaked the Cookies

Jelly Melted and Soaked the Cookies

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

* I haven’t yet tried the recipe with coconut oil. The only problem that I foresee is that coconut oil is extremely sensitive to temperature and sets up like a brick in the refrigerator. Getting it to a sliceable temperature is going to be tricky. A microwave will surely melt the outside of the dough into an oily mess before the inside is sliceable. Success will probably mean sitting the roll on the counter for a period of time that will have to be adjusted depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

 

 

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Super Simple Savory Broth

Rita has not been available lately to taste test which has left me uninspired to bake much since she cannot help with the evaluation. We both plan to dig in on green smoothies soon but in the meantime I have been cooking my greens in a simple broth – the broth may just be my favorite part.

Greens and Savory Broth (with Walnuts)

Greens and Savory Broth (with Walnuts)

I have always loved beans and greens as a lunch combination. When I was working I made use of canned turnip greens and usually red kidney beans topped with some kind of salad dressing. Tasty, messy, odd looking, and initially subject to strange looks and curious questions. Sometimes I top them with nuts for a crunchy texture contrast.

Sourcing fresh greens at the grocery store has become very easy since the arrival of Glory brand one pound bags of washed and chopped greens . I have been going through a couple of these a week. Rita would prefer to steam them but I grew up in the Southern tradition of greens cooked down producing ‘pot liquor’, a local name for the savory broth.

Greens Overflowing the Pot

Greens Overflowing the Pot

Previous to gluten awareness I happily used bouillon cubes as seasoning for broth and gravy. Afterwards my ingredients changed to canned and boxed broth with the resulting cans and boxes going into recycle – not a positive solution to my way of thinking.

Finally Got the Lid On

Finally Got the Lid On

I gave up on prepared broths and now prefer this simple recipe from my spice cabinet which could not be any easier or faster.

Super Simple Broth
1 cup water
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon @ summer savory, basil, thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

Add the ingredients to a saucepan. Turn on the heat and bring to slow simmer. Now you have broth!

Cooking Greens in Broth
The hard part is cramming the greens into a four quart pot where they will eventually wilt and shrink down to about one-quarter of the raw volume. You will need one pound of greens (collards, kale, mustard, or any of your favorite greens).

Make your broth in a four quart saucepan – a glass lid makes it easier to see what is going on. Add the greens in on top of the broth and push them down, really hard, into the pot until you can get the lid on. Turn up the heat to medium high. It will take a while until it you can see steam beginning to rise.

The greens on the bottom wilt first. Take a big spoon and bring the wilted greens up to the top so the next layer can begin to cook. At this point adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer. The greens will not cooperate in any orderly way but just keep checking and stirring about every 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes they will have all become somewhat wilted. Set a timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off stir the greens up again and set the timer for another 20 minutes.

You can quit cooking when the greens are tender. If you have prepared your own young fresh greens they will probably have cooked up in one cycle. The ones that come pre-bagged are fully mature and the stems have been chopped up as well as the leafy part so it can take several cycles to get everything to the tender stage.

Greens Are Fully Cooked

Greens Are Fully Cooked

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend February 28-March 4, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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