Posts Tagged ‘health food’

Today I am grateful for the American innovation, the muffin: a heart-warming, semi-sweet, quick bread for one.

Perfect for breakfast, dessert, a snack, or sometimes even a meal replacement on the go, I do love a good muffin pretty much any time of day!

Well, at least I used to …  months ago, on a quest to resolve some health issues, I eliminated dairy, eggs, and wheat from my diet. I am, in fact, feeling better, but ohhhhh, the cravings!

I’m happy to report that I’m finally over my cheese-and-creamy-foods cravings (I ate a whole avocado a day for weeks, to help fill the creamy void!), and could quite easily walk by a fragrant loaf of crusty French bread without blinking an eye.

But lately I’ve really been craving an earthy, wholesome muffin, chock full of good and healthy ingredients. And so my research for “gluten-free” and “vegan” baked goods began.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no vegan! Omnivore all the way! But I’ve learned that if you want a baked treat with no eggs or dairy in it, “vegan” is the buzzword to look for.

A few substitutions and additions to this recipe resulted in muffins that were moist and delicious.  And despite NO refined sugar whatsoever, the dates and raisins contribute enough sweetness to please even little taste buds.

I held my breath when my oh-so-finicky Little Ecogirl took the first bite. Her wrinkled nose and frownie mouth turned into a big crumby smile, and she promptly gobbled down the rest and asked for more!

almond flax muffins

Gluten-free Almond Flax Muffins

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 4 Tbsp plus 1/4 cup ground flax seeds, separated
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 7 dates, pits and “crown” removed
  • 3/4 cup plus 1/8 cup water, separated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. In a small bowl, whisk 4 Tbsp ground flax with 3/4 cup water and set aside for at least ten minutes. (This is your egg replacer.)
  2. In a large bowl combine almond flour, 1/4 cup flax, coconutbaking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a Vitamix or other high powered blender, blend dates, flax and water egg replacer, 1/8 cup water, oil, and vanilla on high speed until very smooth
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry, then stir in sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and raisins.
  5. Spoon batter into lined muffin pan. These don’t rise much, so fill right up to the top of the liner.
  6. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool and serve.

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I must tip my hat to the Barefoot Contessa for this one. I enjoy so many of her recipes because of her choice of simple ingredients and simple flavors that really let the flavor of the food shine through.

Plus, spending my days chasing after my one year old and three year old Ecokids, I usually don’t have much time for anything more complicated than this!

Like other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), Brussels sprouts are high in antioxidants. Include crucifers in your regular diet, and you are decreasing your chances of cancer. Brussels sprouts also fight inflammation in the body, which is a leading cause of disease and general “unwellness” in the United States.

Brussels sprouts are also one of Ecodaddy’s favorite veggies since his childhood, so I knew I’d have one fan before I even began. He cooks with a lot more spice than I do, so I wondered if the simplicity of this dish with just salt and pepper would appeal to him. I salted them heavily, like French fries, per Ina May Garten’s recommendation.

He went back for seconds. And thirds. Nuff said.

And hey: when your three year old asks for more, then shovels them in like there’s no tomorrow, you know this recipe is a keeper!

photo credit: MsPia

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 2 pounds Brussels Sprouts
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), enough to coat without being too wet
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt
  • about ten turns from your fresh pepper grinder
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim tough brown ends of Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowed leaves.
  3. In a large bowl, toss all ingredients until Brussels sprouts are well coated. Turn them out onto a baking sheet lined with silicone mat, parchment paper or foil.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, giving the pan a shake every ten or fifteen minutes to insure they brown evenly. Serve immediately.

For me, the best part is the outer leaves that fall off when you toss everything in the bowl … lay them out on the baking sheet with the Brussels sprouts, and they will crisp up like tiny little potato chips!

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I love kale. Simply adore it. Raw, cooked, whatever. Can eat an entire bunch by myself in one sitting. And do. Often.

In the Standard American Diet (SAD for short, with good reason), you usually find kale as the garnish under a platter of fruit salad. Sad indeed.

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s a great source of fiber, calcium, lutein, iron, vitamins A, C, E and K. It does require a little more work from the jaws than many other greens, so it benefits from long, slow cooking, or if eaten raw, a significant amount of chopping.

It’s rich in the phytochemical sulforaphane, which triggers the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. A 2004 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that sulforaphane stopped breast cancer cells in their tracks.

As good ol’ Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be food.”

This marinated kale salad is vegan, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, and absolutely delicious. Plus, it’s green, and by know you already know how I feel about greens!

Preparation is also quite kid-friendly, as it involves “massaging” the greens with sea salt. Lots of fun for little hands. Ecogirl certainly enjoyed it!

It’s one of my favorite “go-to” dishes for potlucks, and it’s even better the next day.

If it lasts that long.

Marinated Kale Salad

  • two bunches kale
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Any chopped raw vegetables you like, such as tomato, red pepper, avocado, etc.
  1. Wash and dry kale, tearing leaves from stems. Put stems aside for another use (we chop ours into small pieces, steam, and toss into soups and stews)
  2. Chop kale leaves into a fine chiffonade or just chop into very small pieces. Place kale in large bowl
  3. Sprinkle salt over kale and “massage” leaves for a few minutes until they start to become moist
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together EVOO, lemon juice, and garlic
  5. Pour dressing over greens and mix well. Let sit for at least ten minutes. Even better if it sits overnight in fridge
  6. Just before serving, add chopped raw vegetables and mix well

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