Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oats to start the day

An easy quick breakfast that does not create excess inflammation in your body is simple oatmeal.  I add a good amount of cinnamon into my bowl of oatmeal to give it that anti-inflammatory boost.  I also drizzle a little pure maple syrup over the top to sweeten it. Use maple syrup sparingly because too much can contribute to inflammation.  It is a far better choice than sugar though.  For an added boost of nutrition and fiber add raisins or cran raisins. 
I use regular oats that take 5 minutes to cook on the stove top.  Just follow the directions on the box and enjoy.

My baby tomatoes are growing

My tomato plants have been in my kitchen windowsill for a couple of weeks now. They are looking so good and healthy. I have both Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes planted.  Read more...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 2: Cloudy day walk

I am quite proud of myself today.  I had every great excuse available to stay inside and not go out for a walk.  However, I am pleased to report that Sparky the Schnoodle and I went out and walked.  The weather is dreary and rainy off and on with super high winds expected, which of course was my reason for not wanting to go out.  Read more....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Huckleberries in Spring for pancakes

This morning our neighbor surprised us with some frozen huckleberries.  Since we woke up to a dusting of snow that was such a fun treat.  I looked through my Whole Grain Baking cookbook and found a recipe for Simple Spelt Pancakes.    These pancakes were delicious.  The spelt flour is naturally a little sweet so it was perfect in this recipe.  The huckleberries added just the right amount of tartness.  They were light and fluffy and perfect on this chilly spring morning.  I topped them with Mrs. Macs butter spread and pure maple syrup. 

Simple Spelt Pancakes

2 cups whole spelt flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I used Mrs. Macs butter spread)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Combine the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.  Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry.  Stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened:  it will seem wet, but will thicken as it sits.  Let the batter sit for 15 minutes.  * I added 1/2 cup of huckleberries right before cooking.

Heat a nonstick griddle and spray with a light coating of olive oil spray.  When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4-cupful at a time.  Let the pancakes cook on the first side until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cakes, 2 to 3 minutes. 

You may need to adjust your heat up or down to get the pancakes to cook through without scorching the surface or being too pale.  When the cakes are just beginning to set, flip them and let them finish cooking on the second side, until they are golden brown on both sides, about a minute more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring fever salad

My husband and I went over to the Seattle area this past weekend.  When we left home on Saturday morning it was snowing at our house... AGAIN!   When we arrived in Kirkland later that afternoon we noticed the green grass, blue sky, and beautiful pink Cherry Blossom trees in bloom.  It was so nice out that we took our little Schnoodle, Sparky, for a walk around Lake Washington. Spring is in full bloom on the West side of the state.   I have to admit it was a bit tough to come back home to the snow on Sunday night leaving behind the first taste of spring.  However, instead of sulking about the weather, we spent some quality time together in the kitchen and we made a Mango Chicken Salad that kept us feeling springy. 

Mango Chicken Salad

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 limes
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
2 mangoes, seeded, peeled, and chopped
Lettuce leaves, optional

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut chicken into bite-size chunks.  Squeeze juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons); cut remaining lime into wedges.
2.  In a large saucepan combine the coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper.  Add chicken and bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
3.  Meanwhile, spread coconut in a shallow pan.  Bake, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden, stirring once. 
4.  Remove chicken and cooking liquid to a bowl.  Add mangoes; toss to coat.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Spoon onto lettuce leaves to serve.  Pass lime wedges. 

*Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus for Dad

As my friends and family know, I love...absolutely adore...having company.  With company, comes special time together for visiting and catching up on news, eating wonderful food, and often times a glass or two of wine is included.  So, last weekend my mom went to the coast with her friends and I was able to talk my dad into heading the opposite direction and coming to stay with me for the weekend.  It was wonderful to have that time together.  Since I get my love of food from him I was excited to prepare some delicious and healthy dishes for us to enjoy together.  The appetizer, Sun Dried Tomato Hummus, was fantastic and super easy to make.   I served it with sliced red peppers, pickled asparagus, kalamata olives and crackers.  Delicious!  Oh and the Pinot Noir wasn't so bad either :)

1 15.5 oz can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons Greek plain yogurt
Salt/pepper to taste

This is so simple.  Just put all of the ingredients except the yogurt in a food processor and blend until fairly smooth.  Then add the yogurt and process for a few seconds until well blended.  Serve with red pepper strips, pita wedges, crackers, olives, or anything that sounds good for dipping.  This can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Drop cookies...what are they really?

The other night, my husband and I were having a conversation about chocolate chip cookies.  He wanted me to make drop cookies for him.  Well, to me, drop cookies are dropped onto the cookie sheet from a teaspoon versus rolling the dough into balls and placing them on the cookie sheet prior to baking.  He absolutely swears that dropped cookies happen after you take the baked cookies out of the oven and then drop the cookie sheet onto the counter so that they flatten out.  So, a couple of nights later I went to my neighbors house for dinner.  They were discussing the cookies that had just been made and how they forgot to drop the cookie sheet.  I'll be darned!  Second time in a week I have heard that so guess what?  I had to give it a shot.  Or should I say I had to give it a drop!  I am now a fan of dropping the cookies. 

1 1/2 c. butter (or Mrs. Macs Butter Spread)
1 1/4 c. organic sugar
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 organic eggs
4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag or 4 c. dark chocolate chips (I used 60% cocoa chips)

Mix butter, sugars, vanilla & eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda & salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Place a towel on the counter and drop the cookie sheet pan onto it (seriously).  Cool slightly & remove from pan.

*This recipe is from neighbors Nate and Savannah.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Black Bean really!

I have been receiving quite a few emails in the past month from wonderful people giving me article ideas.  One particular email for Black Bean Brownies intrigued me.  The recipe was created by Amanda Freitag, celebrity chef and recurring judge on Food Network’s competition show Chopped, along with registered nutritionist Julie Barto for the MS Active Wellness Nutrition Program.” 

Since I am always looking for healthier ways to still get my chocolate fix I tried this recipe out immediately.  As with all of my experiments, I hid the ingredients from my unsuspecting and very good natured husband.  I made sure that he was in the garage working loudly as I dumped the black beans into the food processor and set it to whir, which is never a quiet moment.  While it was whirring, I frantically rinsed out the black bean can to put into recycling so that the evidence would be hidden.  I am pleased to say that he remained in the garage until he smelled the brownies and came in for a taste.  Hee Hee!  Wellllll...HE LOVED THEM!  Yes he did.  When I told him about the black beans, he did not believe me.  Sooooo....I fished the can out of recycling :)  Try these out and let me know what you think.

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained very well
3 eggs
3 Tbsp canola oil
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup brown sugar,
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8” x 8” baking pan with cooking spray.
In food processor, process black beans until smooth. Add the eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sugar, and process until smooth. Add ½ of the chocolate chips, and pulse a few times or stir, so that the chips are mixed in. Transfer the batter to the baking pan, and sprinkle the remaining chips on top of the brownies.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.