healthy eating


This summer has pulled the carpet from beneath my feet and my blog has suffered!  I had good intentions and planned on trying lots of new dishes and reporting back to you all…but my good intentions were not enough.  Please accept my apologies.

Today I would like to share with you some YUMMY cashew cream that I made for a family get together.  It is delicious on fresh berries and would probably be good added to a smoothie in the morning.  This recipe is adapted from a Whole Foods recipe.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste (I use this…it is AWESOME)
  • 1/2 c. + 1-2 Tbs. warm water
  • 1-2 tsp. powdered sugar

Directions –

Drain water from soaked cashews.  Place in a food processor.  Add vanilla paste.  Blend until cashews smooth out (there will be some texture to this, especially if you don’t have a high-end food processor).  Add in 1/2 c. warm water.  Add 1-2 Tbs. warm water to achieve desired consistency.  I like this a little thinner.  Stir in 1-2 tsp. powdered sugar.

Serve on top of mixed berries, garnish with mint, and ENJOY!  Light and refreshing…and a GREAT way to replace whip cream for those who are dairy free!

The original recipe calls for 2 dates processed with the cashews, I thought I had them at home when I went to make this recipe…I obviously didn’t.  I thought the small amount of powdered sugar sweetened this up nicely but if you have dates at home I’m sure they would taste equally delicious!

-R

 

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Hi! 

I have discovered something wonderful!

CONGEE

The past 3 weeks I have fallen in love with a simple dish that is really a canvas for a variety of flavors.  Congee is popular in Asian cooking and is often feed to people who are ill because it is easy to digest.  So, what is congee?  In short, rice porridge.  Traditionally congee is rice that is slowly cooked in a LOT of water.  But, you don’t have to limit this technique to rice alone…you can do this with a variety of whole grains.

Possibilities:

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Rice (all varieties)
  • Quinoa
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • OR a combination of any of these!

You simply put 1 part grain with 5-7 parts water and cook on low heat in a crock pot for ~8 hours….so simple, so delicious!

My first go at congee was beautiful, delicious, and strangly addicting. 

Purple Rice Congee

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Purple Rice
  • .5 cup Barley
  • 7 cup Water

Directions

  • Place all ingedients in a crockpot
  • Cook on low for 8 hours
  • Enjoy!

Couldn’t be simpler…and the combination of grains is endless.  For this batch, I chose to top my congee with pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, blackberries, and a drizzle of agave syrup.  The purple rice is a little sweeter then some of the other grains so it lent itself well to a sweeter breakfast. 

When making congee, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be only a breakfast dish…you can make this a savory dish as well!  Some suggestions for toppings:

  • Nuts or seeds
  • Eggs
  • Fresh, roasted, or sauteed veggies
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato
  • Berries
  • Stewed Fruits
  • Dried Fruits
  • Coconut
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Curry
  • Agave Nectar
  • Honey
  • Coconut Oil
  • Nut Butters
  • Chicken/Beef/Tofu

Soooo good!  I hope that if you try this recipe you find it as delicious and versitile as I have. 

Enjoy!

R-

So, a while back I applied to be part of the Iron Foodie sponsored by Marx Food and Foodie Blog Roll…and I sadly wasn’t chosen to compete.  HOWEVER, I received an email from Justin Marx asking if I’d like to try a few samples and participate in a sort of “runner’s up” challenge.  I quickly responded and about a week ago I received (free of charge) several samples from Marx Foods and I have created this yummy scone recipe using two of those ingredients!

I was a little apprehensive to use lavender in a recipe because I’ve seen and heard that too much lavender in a recipe will ruin your food and taste soapy.  YUCK!  I did LOTS of research on line regarding lavender, flavors that pair well, how to prepare, and popular recipes.  I wanted to push myself to try something new and experiment – even if that lead me to failure.  I threw around LOTS of ideas, both savory and sweet, and finally decided to try my hand at scones (something I’ve never baked, but enjoy eating). 

Blackberry Lavender Scones

  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 c. White Spelt Flour
  • 1/3 c. White Sugar (although, these would be FAB if you replaced the white sugar with honey)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1.5 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Lavender Buds
  • 3/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 pt. Blackberries
  • 1/2 c. Lavender Tea (soak 2.5 tsp. in 1 c. hot water for ~10 minutes)
  • 1/2 c. Powder Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Honey Granuals

1. Boil water, steep 2.5 tsp Lavender buds for ~10 minutes (the water should turn a dirty, purplish color and should have a mild lavender taste when sipped).  Once tea is ready, toss 1 pt. coarsely chopped blackberries into 1/2 of the tea and allow to soak while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

2.  Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lavender in large bowl.

3. Whisk together white sugar, yogurt, and egg. 

4.  Add the berries that have soaked in the lavender tea (make sure they were able to soak for ~10 minutes) to the sugar mixture.  Reserve the liquid for the frosting.

5.  Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and incorporate with your hands.  This will be sticky, but it mixes best with your fingers. 

6.  Fill mini scone pan 3/4 full (or you can pat this into a circle 1/2-3/4″ thick on a floured surface, cut into 8 pieces), sprinkle with honey granuals, place into preheated oven (400*) for ~15 minutes.

7. When scones are done, place on a cooling rack to cook and then prep your ingredients for the frosting. 

8. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and ~4 tsp. blackberry/lavender tea reserved.  If your frosting is too thick, add a little more tea (1/2 tsp at a time) until the right consistency is achieved.

8.  Drizzle frosting over top of the scones, sprinkle with honey granules, and ENJOY!

MMMM…these are pretty good.  My nephew ate two of them!  But be warned, they are not overly sweet and have a very distinct flavor.  My mom tried them and said they are one of those foods that taste better and better with each bite.  They are different, healthy (only 104 cals a piece if you make the minis – 14 scones), and crumbly! 

Thanks Marx Food for the opportunity to try out these new ingredients and for pushing me to try new things!

R-

It has been a few days since my last post…and since I made this delicious treat (wish I had more) that was inspired by Angela over at Oh She Glows.  This was so yummy…equally delicious hot or cold!

Perfect Pear Oat Bars

To find the recipe that inspired this go here.

For the Oat Base –

  • 1.5 cups Oats
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Chia Egg (1 Tbs Chia soaked in 3-4 Tbs. Water for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (I didn’t melt mine…would have made for easier mixing…melt it!)
  • 1/4 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Almond Milk (I used Silk…the BEST almond milk I have tried)

For Pear Mixture –

  • 3 Pears, chopped into small bites size pieces
  • 1 Tbs. Coconut Butter (Artisana makes a killer Coconut Butter)
  • 1 Tbs. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • A little water (the pears didn’t break down like berries do…and I didn’t need to add chia since the coconut butter helped thicken up the juices and water).

Prep your oat base…pull aside at least 1/2 cup for topping (I reserved about 1/3 of the recipe…I LOVE crumbly toppings).  Press your dough into the pan (if you use parchment paper clean up is a breeze).  Cook down your pears, add coconut butter when they are almost ready (fruit needs to break down a bit and soften)…add water as needed to keep things moist and to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Add spices.  Dump your pear mixture onto the oat base.  Crumble the remainder of the oat base on top of the pears, sprinkle with seasame seeds.  Bake at 350* for ~30 minutes.  Pull from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. 

Mmm, Mmmm Good!  Next time I make this I think I will cook the oat base for 10 minutes or so before adding the fruit mixture to give it a little crisp factor.  Also, a home-made caramel sauce would take this to a whole new level.  Oh, I can taste it now!!!!

I promised a giveaway that was to be posted this week…I’m sorry, I have to postpone the details until Monday…but keep your eyes open!

R-

Several weeks ago I saw a chili recipe on (never home)maker’s blog…and I knew I had to give it a try.  Like many people in the blogging worlds I am a HUGE fan of the big orange squash and am willing to try just about ANY recipe with pumpkin. 

So, the day before Halloween my family (my side as well as Joe’s) got together to carve pumpkins. 

Perfect day for chili making.  You can find Ashley and Stephen’s recipe here but I made a few changes based on what I had on hand.

My take on Pumpkin Chili

Serves 8-10 hungry people!

  • 2 cans Pumpkin
  • 2 cans White Navy Beans
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Kidney Beans
  • 1 bag Frozen Corn
  • 2 cans (28 oz) Crushed Fire  Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14 oz) Veggie Broth
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 3 large Carrots, diced
  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 2 Tbs. EVOO
  • 5 cloves Garlic, pushed through garlic press
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs Hungarian Paprika
  • 1.5 Tbs. Chili Powder

Heat oil in pan.  Cook onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic in pan until tender.  Add the remainder of ingredients into a LARGE crock pot, turn on high and cook for 3-4 hours. 

Our Topping Bar Included:

  • Chopped Avocado
  • Cubed Smoked Chedder
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Cooked and Crumbled Italian Sausage
  • Gluten Free Corn Bread Crumbles

Verdict – HUGE success.  Lots of compliments and only one bowl left for lunch!  I will be putting this in my regular winter meal rotation…so comforting!  And when I told people there was pumpkin in the chili they were floored!

Go out and make this chili NOW…I’m sure you could throw everything in the crock pot first thing in the morning, set it on low, and have a hearty, healthy, DELISH meal ready when you walk in the door.

We also had this deliciousness inspired by Angela at Oh She Glows:

(more on this tasty bit later this week)

Cheers!

R-

  • I haven’t worked out since the school year started, despite my best intentions
  • “Dairy Free Me” went out the window for nearly a week
  • I’ve paid for my dairy binge with cramps and, er, other issues
  • Fast food has made its way onto my plate far to many times the past 2 weeks
  • I’m feeling overwhelmed with all I PLANNED to do to achieve health
  • I need to prioritize and make honest decision on what I can manage RIGHT NOW

Okay…that was necessary!  I’ve been “avoiding” this self-talk and fooling myself into thinking that I have been honest with my follow-through of HEALTHY EATING and WORKOUT plans.  URG!  Why does breaking old habits have to be SOOOO hard?

So, as I move forward in my search for a healthy balance I need to honor my feelings, fears, and successes and be HONEST with myself and all of my followers.   I plan on working through finding MY balance through posts…honest posts.  Please bear with me.  In my search, I hope to provide some support or peace of mind to others in my position.

To start off this HONESTY thing, this is what I think I can HONESTLY follow through with right now:

  • Diary Free 80% of the time with hopes of making it 100% within 2 months
  • Lift weights 2-3x per week WITH a workout buddy
  • Start Bikram Yoga in the beginning of October
  • Make healthy lunches on the weekend to last for the entire week

Enough about me…

ARTISANA REVIEW

This morning I made myself a Macadamia Nut Butter wrap for breakfast.  On the wrap – Macadamia Nut Butter, Strawberry Preserves, 1/2 sliced Peach, and Coconut Flakes atop a WW Tortilla.

So what did I think?  Well, first let me preface my review with this: I have always found macadamia nuts a little weird.  They leave a strange aftertaste and although they are creamy and have great texture, I have never been a fan.  With that said, I thought since the nut butter was a mix of cashews and macadamia nuts there might be a chance I would enjoy this.  I, sadly, found the same strange aftertaste present in this butter. 😦  Boo. 

I did finish the wrap, it wasn’t inedible…just not to MY liking.  However, if you like macadamia nuts you’d probably like this nut butter.  The texture is nice.

So, there you have it…my first unsatisfactory review.  Fitting for this “Honesty” post.  🙂

R-