Blueberry Oat Muffins

Blueberry oat muffinsI’ve made and failed at more muffins than I would like to admit. It’s tougher than you think to make a healthy muffin that doesn’t have all purpose flour and tons of sugar in it. Most of my attempts tasted and looked a lot like a hockey puck. Then I finally found a couple recipes that I thought had potential and came up with my own version that I am happy to say my five year old daughter declared was “awesome!”.

The key to these muffins I believe is the 1:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and oat flour. These muffins have just the right amount of sweetness from a touch of honey and coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is a great substitute to refined white sugar. It is a low glycemic sugar that doesn’t lead to fluctuating blood sugar levels. It is becoming easier to find in grocery stores and I highly suggest checking it out.

You will see that I use vinegar in this recipe – don’t let that scare you off. When you add vinegar to milk it is like adding buttermilk to a recipe. This way you don’t buy a big carton of buttermilk when you only need 1/2 cup!

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 1/4 C Whole wheat flour

1 1/4 C Oat flour

1/4 C Coconut sugar

1 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Baking soda

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1 C Unsweetened applesauce

1/2 C Milk

1/2 TBS White vinegar

2 TBS Honey (raw local honey is best)

2 TBS coconut oil, melted

1 large egg, beaten

1 C blueberries, tossed with 1/2 T flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or rub the wells with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour through cinnamon). In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients (applesauce through the egg). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries. This batter should be filled nearly to the top of the cup. They won’t rise as much as traditional muffins do.

bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top gets lightly golden brown.

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Raw Chocolate Cherry Energy Bars

Raw Chocolate Cherry Energy BarsIf you know me personally, it’s no secret that I LOVE chocolate. Thankfully, dark chocolate is a treat that I can feel good about eating because it contains healthy antioxidants. If you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, eating dark chocolate (in moderation of course!) might actually help lower your blood cholesterol levels. When purchasing chocolate, try to look for organic chocolate that has a minimum of 70 percent cocoa content.

Another way to use chocolate is to add cocoa powder (also known as cacao powder) to sweet or savory recipes. Good quality cacao powder can be found in larger grocery or natural food stores. I found mine next to the protein powders in Whole Foods.

This recipe incorporates cocoa powder, cherries and dates to form a yummy raw bar that is reminiscent of Larabars. I added the quick cooking oats because I like the texture that they give to the bar. This is a great mid-morning or late afternoon snack that can help curb that sweet tooth and give you the healthy protein and fats that your body needs.

These will keep well in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze them and just defrost in the fridge overnight (or even eat frozen like I have done before!)

Makes 8 Bars

Ingredients

1 C Medjool Dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1 C Dried unsweetened bing cherries

1/3 C Quick cooking oats

1/2 C Raw almonds

1 TBS Coconut oil, melted

1 TBS Cocoa powder

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Place dates and cherries into a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped (the mixture will come together to form a ball). Remove to a bowl.

Place oats and almonds into the processor (no need to clean it out first!) and process until finely chopped. Add the cherry and date mixture back in. Add the coconut oil, cocoa powder and cinnamon and process until combined.

Line a brownie pan with wax or parchment paper and press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Chill for 20 minutes and then cut into 8 bars.


Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich

Mock Tuna Salad SandwichAs a vegetarian, there are a few staple sources of protein that I work into my daily diet. A typical day may include some kind of nut butter, beans, lentils, quinoa or chickpeas (just to name a few!). This recipe was born when I wanted to try and find a way to use up a half can of chickpeas that I had opened a few days earlier. I wrote the recipe for a whole can of chickpeas, but you can easily halve the recipe like I did today. I am not a big fan of relish (which was an ingredient in most of the recipes I found online), so I decided to add capers. I love the briny quality of capers and I found that they added a really nice flavor. I also adore whole grain mustard so I knew that had to be added as well. With the crunch of the celery and freshness of the scallions, I think this is a great vegetarian lunch.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

1 15 oz Can of chickpeas, mashed

2 Tbs Mayonaise (I prefer one with an olive oil base OR Vegenaise would work well too)

3 Tsp Whole grain dijon mustard

3Tsp Capers, finely chopped

2 Tbs Scallions, chopped finely

2 Celery stalks, finely diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chickpeas through celery in a medium size bowl. Add a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Taste to determine if it needs a pinch more salt.

Serving suggestion: Serve open faced on Rye Wasa crackers or your choice of toasted bread, topping with sliced tomato and baby spinach.


Fruit and nut breakfast cookies

fruit and nut breakfast cookies I have experimented with many breakfast bars and “cookies” over the last couple years and was usually disappointed with the results. They were either too bland, had too much sugar or didn’t hold together well. This recipe can be modified quite a bit to include the kinds of nuts, seeds and dried fruits you prefer. I am already thinking of ways to use my favorite dried apples in the next version!

This is one cookie that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating for breakfast!

Makes 8 large cookies

Ingredients

3/4 C Quick cooking oats

3/4 C Oat bran

1/2 C Unsweetened coconut flakes

1 TBS Chia Seeds

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp Salt

1/4 C Walnuts, chopped

1/4 C Sunflower seeds

1/4 C Golden raisins

1/4 C Pitted dates, chopped

1/4 C Unsweetened dried cherries, chopped

2 Very ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 C Coconut oil, melted

1 TBS Honey

1 Tsp Vanilla paste (pure vanilla extract will work as well)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a silpat on a large baking sheet (you can also line with parchment or rub a small amount of coconut oil directly on the pan to prevent sticking)

In a large bowl, combine all the dried ingredients (oats through salt). Add dried fruit and nuts being sure to stir well so the fruit doesn’t clump together.

Add the mashed banana, coconut oil, honey and vanilla to the bowl and stir well to combine. Use your hands to form eight cookies. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet.

These cookies freeze very well. Just thaw in the refrigerator overnight or put one in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds to thaw.


Baba Ganouj and Whole Wheat Pita Bread

BabagGanouj and whole wheat pitaAs much as I LOVE homemade sandwich bread, I rarely delve into making my own. I usually stick with quick breads like strawberry, banana or blueberry lemon.

I decided to go outside my comfort zone two weeks ago and try my hand at homemade pita. I knew I wanted to use whole wheat flour so I found a recipe on Epicurious that I thought I could modify easily enough with a higher ratio of whole wheat flour. This recipe does take  time, but I assure you it’s worth the effort! Since I was working with my little chef (my 4 year old daughter) it was fun to teach her about yeast and the whole process of how to make bread. The end result was fabulous tasting pita, but it lacked the “pocket”.

I went back to the drawing board, modified the recipe again, and came up with this! It’s the perfect thickness and  puffs up beautifully as it cooks to form that pocket I was missing from the first try. The key is to roll it thin enough and don’t overcook. It literally takes 3 minutes in the oven!

To go with these lovely pita, I made up a batch of baba ganouj. This heavenly eggplant spread not only goes great with the pita, it’s can also be served with crudites, crackers or spread on some multigrain bread and layered with some grilled veggies. YUM!

Whole Wheat Pita

Makes  8 (7″ inch) pitas

Ingredients

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp honey

1 1/4 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour

1 C oat flour

3 T vital wheat gluten (this really helps to make the pita rise)

1/2 C bread flour (plus more for kneading and rolling out)

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Next, stir together the flours in another bowl. Once the yeast mixture is ready, whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture in until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a  7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin.

Set oven rack in the lower third of the oven and place a large piece of aluminum foil directly across the rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Place pitas (you should be able to fit four pitas across) directly onto the aluminum foil making sure they aren’t touching. Bake for 2 minutes. Flip and bake for 1 minute more. DO NOT OVERCOOK! They really do only take 3 minutes!

Cool on a wire rack before storing. I wrap them individually in plastic wrap once they are cool, place in a large freezer bag and put them in the freezer until I am ready to eat one. You can defrost them overnight in the refrigerator or pop in the microwave for 2o seconds.

Baba Ganouj

Serves 6-8

2 medium eggplant

Juice from one lemon (you want a good 2 TBS worth)

1/2 C tahini

1/3 C finely chopped parsley (I prefer flat leaf over curly)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder (you could use 2 minced garlic cloves if you prefer fresh)

1 TBS olive oil

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prick the eggplant all over with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cook for roughly 45 minutes or until they look deflated and are completely soft. Once they are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash well. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Chill until cold. Enjoy!


Apple Date Bites

Apple Date BitesEating healthy doesn’t mean that you have to eat bland, uninspired food. This recipe was something I came up with as a mid-morning snack. These Apple Date Bites have a natural sweetness from the dates and apples and it’s almost like having a “treat” (as my daughter would say). I buy all my dried nuts and fruits in bulk from www.nuts.com. They have a great selection and super fast shipping. Most importantly, I love that I can get dried fruits that aren’t full of added sugars and oils (unlike the selection at most grocery stores). This recipe is very easy to play with and you can easily substitute other fruits for the apple like dried cherries or apricots. Have fun and experiment!

Makes approximately 14 balls / seven servings

Ingredients

1 C pitted dates

1 C apple rings, unsweetened

1/2 C roasted unsalted cashews

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch cardamon (optional)

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (you can sub a good quality pure vanilla extract)

1/4 C shredded coconut, unsweetened

Combine everything but the coconut in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together. You don’t want a smooth paste but rather a chunky consistency. Roll into 14 individual 1″ balls and then roll in coconut. Store in freezer for up to 2 weeks.