Monday, May 25, 2015

Steel-Cut Oatmeal Maple Cookies

These yummy cookies may look and taste like a dessert but they are actually a nutritious granola bar in cookie form. They are soft and chewy due to the steel-cut oats that are lower on the glycemic index than rolled oats. Outside of the chocolate chips, there is no processed sugar- only sweet and mineral-filled real maple syrup. Since you can't have a decent oatmeal cookie without some spices, cinnamon and ginger round this snack out with their helpful digestive qualities. I wasn't sure how steel-cut oats would work in a cookie but we were all pleasantly surprised!

Start by melting 3/4 cup coconut oil over low heat on the stove. While the coconut oil melts, combine the dry ingredients: 3 cups steel-cut oats, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat stone ground pastry flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp dried ginger and 1 cup fair trade mini dark chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl beat 2 pastured eggs with 1 cup real maple syrup, the melted coconut oil and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Let mixture sit for about 10 minutes.

Using a spoon, mound 2 inches of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat until the sheet is full. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet onto a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to a week. These can also be frozen to extend their shelf life.

Apologies for not having the printable recipe option on this post but I'm working from the road today. Many thanks and much gratitude to the families of the soldiers that have fought for our country. I hope everyone had a enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vegetarian Summer Grilling

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it's time to start hauling out the grill to begin a season of outdoors cooking. If you are like my family and don't eat a lot of meat then you might be feeling a little left out. However, grilling and meat are not a package deal. That's right:  meat is not the only main course food item that can be grilled. Which is quite lovely for us sometimes-meat-eaters that still love to get out and grill on a beautiful summer evening sans all the meat.

Vegetable Kabobs

Vegetable kabobs are a family favorite that are also quick and easy to make. Below is a recipe that will help you get started but feel free to swap in your family's favorite veggies. (Grilled pineapple, although not a veggie, tastes awesome!) Since there are so many different variations of veggie kabobs, it's hard not to please everyone. Whenever there is marinating involved, I always add rosemary and thyme seasoning, whether or not the recipe calls for it, as it helps combat the carcinogens created during the grilling process. For a great protein side dish, cook up some quinoa and add pesto sauce with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Veggie Burgers

This is another dinner that can be full of variety and customized to individual tastes. Make sure to buy the veggie patties that do not include soy protein isolate. It is highly processed and shouldn't even be considered food. Most stores now carry veggie burgers and they taste great. There are so many varieties that there is bound to be one you like! Check in the frozen health food section. We go all out with our burgers and top them with mayo, lettuce, tomato, avocado, red onion, jalapenos (the adults, anyway), cheese and a fried egg on a sprouted whole grain bun. It really is one satisfying meal.

Grilled Eggplant

Eggplants are a nice, meaty vegetable that are fantastic grilled. Serve with marinara, crusty whole wheat bread and a fresh green salad for dinner in a weeknight snap.

Grilled Peaches

One of the sweetest ways to end dinner is with grilled peaches topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. Simply slice the peaches in half, remove the pit and place directly on the grill for 8 minutes, turning once. Sooo yummy.

We all know the effect that massive consumption of conventional meat is doing to this planet and our health. We are also well aware of the financial limitations of buying pastured meat. Limiting how much meat you eat shouldn't feel like a punishment. With all of the great recipes above, I hope that grilling can continue to be a fun and delicious summer past-time for you. Summer is almost here- let's light up those grills!

Monday, May 11, 2015

No-Cook Superfood Jam

Almond butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple lunch item in my house.  As such, we go through quite a bit of jelly. Trader Joes carries a reasonably priced jar of juice-sweetened jelly but since our move a year ago, the drive is no longer reasonable. Whole Foods' juice-sweetened jelly is just plain out of our price range with the amount we use. That left me having to buy the white-sugar laden jelly, much to my displeasure. So imagine how ecstatic I became when Natural Health magazine had a version of this no-cook fruit spread using strawberries. Since I had a bag of dried goji berries sitting in my pantry (since forever) that were begging to be used (or maybe it was just Dino's voice in my head telling me to stop wasting money), I decided to turn this into a real superfood jam.

Soaked goji berries.

Goji berries are considered a superfood for good reason: the amount of nutrition packed into this little berry is amazing. In just one ounce you get 140% RDA of vitamin A, 20% RDA of vitamin C, 10% RDA of iron, 4% RDA of calcium, 3 grams of fiber and a whopping 4 grams of protein. It also has over 20 trace minerals and vitamins. This little berry packs a punch!

The secret to this no-cook jam is the chia seeds. By soaking them in water, the seeds gel up to form the jam-like texture. Outside of this gelling behavior, chia seeds are also considered a superfood for their impressive nutritional content that includes a good amount of  Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, fiber and protein.

So whether you are having this jam on sprouted toast for breakfast or in almond butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, you will be well on your way to having your core nutritional needs met. If you are new to goji berries then it is important to note that they are not as sweet as a strawberry. If you need to add another tablespoon of honey to please your palate- go for it.

No-Cook Superfood Jam
By: Living Life Granola
1 1/2 cups dried goji berries
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp local raw honey
Enough filtered water to cover and soak the goji berries

*Buy organic when possible.

Place the dried goji berries in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let soak for 20 minutes.

Take 1 cup of the water that the goji berries have been soaking in and place that water in another small bowl. Leave any remaining water in with the berries. Put the chia seeds in the goji water and soak the seeds for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fully drain the goji berries and place them, along with the chia gel and honey, into a blender and pulse to mix. Pour into three glass jelly jars. Store one in the fridge for immediate consumption and the other two jars in the freezer for later use. When storing in the fridge consume within 1 week.

I have found myself forgoing my usual breakfast smoothie to have this jam on sprouted toast with some ghee- so yummy! It is also nice to know my kids are getting a healthy dose of fiber, calcium and antioxidants even if they are just eating an AB&J for lunch (almond butter recipe here). This jam can be made with all sorts of berries so, if you have a favorite, give it a try!

Linked with the Simply Natural Saturdays blog series.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Homemade Sun Soother Spray

This past weekend was gorgeous. Flip-flops, bare shoulders and shade-of-Casper-leg-baring gorgeous. So of course I got a sunburn. Red hair and more than 15 minutes in the sun do not mix so now I'm mixing up a batch of my sun soother spray to make life tolerable again.

This soothing spray combines ingredients that help heal and treat skin damage from the sun. The main ingredient is natural aloe vera gel (not the neon green goo at the stores) that accelerates healing and hydrates the skin. Apple cider vinegar helps to draw the heat out of the sun burn and lessen the pain. Vitamin E and green tea extract are used for their anti-oxidant benefits to help curtail any free radical damage from the sun. The blend also has a healthy dose of lavender essential oil that is anti-inflammatory as well as an analgesic (pain reliever).

Obviously, prevention is key but when you do slip up this spray is a life saver.

Sun Soother Spray
By Living Life Granola
1/2 cup natural aloe vera gel
2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
15 drops green tea extract

Place all the ingredients in a 4oz glass spray bottle. Shake before use. Store in the fridge and use within 6 months.

Linked with the Simply Natural Saturday blog series.