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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

We don’t drink cow’s milk in our house. I didn’t grow up on the stuff, and just never liked it. Plus it makes everybody phlegmy around here … who needs that?

I’m also not convinced it’s all that cool that ours is the only species on this planet that a) drinks milk beyond childhood, and b) drinks milk from a different species than our own. (Remember how it was so shocking to the general public when Salma Hayek breastfed another woman’s baby in Africa? Yet nobody gives a second thought to the fact that cow’s milk is collected from many, many different cows to be consumed by humans. I’m just sayin’…)

It’s easy to have a dairy-free diet nowadays, as there are lots of milk alternatives out there: soy, almond, rice, oat, and hemp for example. I’m a big fan of almond milk, and make it frequently. But Ecodaddy isn’t so fond of it (unless it’s warmed up with a splash of maple syrup, which is super-delish!), and so we still spend a chunk of change on store-bought rice milk.

Compared to nut milks like almond, rice milk lacks beneficial protein and fats and is quite a bit higher in carbohydrates. However, many like it because it is a low fat choice, and hey: sometimes you just need some cold, yummy white stuff to moisten your bowl of cereal, ya know?

Lucky for me, a few weeks ago a friend posted her rice milk recipe on Facebook, and I was ready for a new kitchen project. I am happy to report it was easy and cheap to make, and totally delicious to drink!

I’ve since tested this recipe twice using two different types of rice. I got 3 quarts of rice milk from the first batch and 4 quarts from the second. I had coupons for Lundberg organic brown rice that I held onto until it was on sale, making my final rice cost a mere $.50 a cup.

Tweaking my friend’s recipe, I added some vanilla extract to the final product, but didn’t like it because I could taste the alcohol from the extract. In batch two, I added half a vanilla bean during the cooking time instead, with much better results.

I also found that the type of rice you use determines whether you really need to add a sweetener or not. I used a sweeter type of rice the second time (Lundberg Golden Rose). Flavored with just the vanilla bean, it didn’t need any sweetener at all.

Homemade Rice Milk

  • 1 cup uncooked organic long or medium grain brown rice
  • 8 cups water for cooking
  • More water for diluting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Glass jars or bottles with lids for storage
  • Blender
  • Fine mesh strainer
  1. Thoroughly wash the rice.
  2. Put 8 cups of water in a big pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour in rice and stir.
  3. Cover the pot and lower the heat to let the water simmer.
  4. Cook for 3 hours stirring occasionally, til it looks like very soupy rice pudding. Turn off heat and stir in salt.
  5. In batches, fill your blender halfway with cooked rice mixture and halfway with water. Blend until very smooth. Strain twice through a fine mesh strainer, collecting rice milk in mason jars.
  6. Continue on with remaining cooked rice mixture until you’re finished, filling jars with rice milk and screwing on lids tightly.
Even with the extra water, this rice milk can end up thicker than the product you find in the store, almost like a rice cream. My second batch was thicker than the first and required another whirl in the blender with more water: 3 cups rice cream to 1 cup water made it perfect.

Since it doesn’t have preservatives, presumably it won’t last too long in the fridge. I’ve kept mine in there a little over a week and it was just fine.

Make sure to shake before serving, as there is some separation, plus the tiny black vanilla specks settle to the bottom.

Enjoy!

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Remember those ceramic statues in the seventies shaped like animals or a human head that you’d cover with a fine layer of tiny black seeds and water daily? Sprouts would grow, making it like fur or a really tight ‘fro.

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Chia seeds provide super-high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain development. Omega-3’s are also linked to joint health as well as elevated mood; one Scandinavian study showed that people taking an omega-3 supplement for four months reported happier outlooks on life.

Eating seeds can make you happier. Who knew!

The little black seeds can hold 8-10x their weight in water, making a gelatinous substance that can be used in many different ways. It can substitute for eggs in various recipes, baking or otherwise. I also add it to foods where my three year old won’t notice, like pasta sauce or scrambled eggs, as well as putting it in Ecodaddy’s morning smoothie. The seeds don’t really have a particular flavor, so they are very easy to camouflage.

Photo credit: MySuperFoods

Chia Gel

  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 quart mason jar, or similar lidded container
  1. Place seeds and water in container and seal lid. Shake vigorously for a few seconds.
  2. Let rest for a few minutes, then shake again. Gel should be ready in ten minutes.
  3. Refrigerate and use for up to two weeks.

If you want to use your gel as a substitute for eggs in recipes, the general rule of thumb is 1/3 cup chia gel per egg. I do this often in baking recipes, and neither Ecodaddy nor the Ecokids ever know the difference.

It’ll be our happy little secret.

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Today I stroll down memory lane and remember many great, cheap, vegetarian meals at Dojo Restaurant in the East Village, NYC.

It was there in my teen years that I was first introduced to tahini dressing. They’d put it on everything: the soy burgers, the salads, you name it. It was sooooo gooooood, I’d always ask for an extra side order of it. Whatever was left over at the end of the meal, I’d hastily slurp up with a spoon.

Yes, dear reader, it was that good.

I moved away from NYC over a decade ago, and was disappointed to recently learn that the good ol’ East Village Dojo is now closed. I sigh a sad goodbye to a venerable institution that fed the starving student set oh-so-well, myself included.

But it isn’t all sad goodbyes today … say hello to delicious, easy tahini dressing you can make at home with just five simple ingredients!

Texturally, it’s got a wide range of applications. Thicker, it’s a great dip for vegetables, or a creamy topping for a veggie burger, Dojo-style. Thinner, it’s a lovely, earthy salad dressing.

I especially love it over chopped raw kale with tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprouts.

What’s your favorite way to eat tahini dressing?

Tahini Dressing

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water (more if you like a runnier dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 generous pinches of sea salt
  1. Combine tahini and lemon juice  and whisk until evenly combined. First it will look like it’s curdling, then it will come together, thickening, becoming creamier, and lighter in color.
  2. Add a little water, plus the garlic clove and sea salt; whisk thoroughly
  3. Add more water in increments until you reach desired consistency.

Keeps in the fridge for 3-5 days. Mine never lasts that long though!

Photo credit: Limes & Lycopene

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Lots of foods in my house are green. Even ones that aren’t supposed to be. Ever had green mac ‘n’ cheese? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Problem is, Ecogirl is now old enough to know that mac ‘n’ cheese is not, in fact, supposed to be green, and refuses to eat it when it is. So I have to be more stealthy with my applications of greens in her diet.

One foolproof way to sneak some healthy greens into her little growing body is to hide them in a fruit smoothie. Yes, you read that right. Raw greens in a fruit smoothie.

You cannot taste them. I swear.

Just try it. You’ll see.

  • 1/2 cup liquid of choice (milk, non-dairy milk, juice, water, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Handful of raw spinach or kale
  • Handful of ice
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. You can also put smoothie into ice pop molds for an icy treat later on

Optional ingredients for added nutrition and/or flavor:

  • 1 heaping Tbsp nut butter (we like peanut or almond)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp spirulina (freshwater microalgae that’s high in protein and minerals without a fishy flavor)
  • Pinch of powdered kelp (a sea plant rich in vitamins and minerals; no more than a pinch or you’re drinking a seaweed smoothie)
  • 1 Tbsp chia gel (chia seeds soaked in water to make a gel)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp protein powder (we like Nutribiotic vanilla rice protein or Nutiva hemp protein)
  • For grown-ups only: 1/2 tsp maca powder (for energy and hormonal rebalancing)

Did I mention how green spirulina is? Oh yes, it’s green. I mean, really really green.

I include spirulina in every smoothie I make. Poor Ecodaddy is razzed mercilessly by his coworkers over the disturbing greenish-grey color of his smoothies. He just cheerfully gulps them down anyway because he knows how energizing and nutritious they are.

Ecogirl and I love to slurp one down for a quick breakfast on those mornings when we need to get out of the house a little faster than usual. Hers is in a sippy cup, so she can’t see how green it is. Ha! Pretty sneaky, Ecomama!

I’d love to hear your favorite ways to sneak some greens into your family’s diet. Please share!

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