nutrition

Now THAT’S Good

IMG_5485Why is it, that when we think of a snack that’s good for us, we automatically think it’s going to taste bad? That’s because in many cases, that is EXACTLY what happens. Health foods are often missing two key ingredients: flavor and satisfaction.

So often I find myself wanting for more. While it may technically be good for your body, health food has a bad rap for sometimes leaving your tummy and taste buds suffering.

For instance: the other day I picked up two new granola bars from my local health food store. To have them on hand is great for on-the-go snacking, as well as for an afternoon pick-me-up. However (to my dismay) they absolutely screamed health food bar. When I bite into a snack bar, I don’t want to feel like I just ate bird seed with an essence of dirt. I think we’ll leave that for the birds!

This weekend, my husband and I camped out in our new tent. In need of some good fuel, I set out to make a snack bar that’s not only nutritious, but one that we actually want to eat! Thus, the Cocoa Crunch Bar came to be.  And let me just say… you will want more. Brett and I were like two little piglets, gobbling up their sweet & salty goodness. We almost felt naughty, like we were chowing down on snicker’s bars. The kicker: we didn’t have to feel a single bit of guilt. It’s all good.

Try for yourself! It’s well worth the effort.

Cocoa Crunch Bars:

  • 2/3 C. Salted Cashews
  • 2/3 C. Walnuts
  • 2/3 C. Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 4 Dried Figs
  • 4 Dates
  • 10 Prunes
  • 1/3 C. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. of Honey
  • 1/3 C. Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 C. Almond Butter
  1. Crush your cashews and walnuts until broken into fine pieces. (I put mine in a bag and used a meat tenderizer. You can also use a processor.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients together except for the Coconut Oil and Almond Butter.
  3. Next, melt your Coconut Oil and pour over the mixture.
  4. Then, do the same with your Almond Butter.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Pour into a greased casserole dish.
  7. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool.
  9. Put in refrigerator until fully set.
  10. Cut and eat!

Note: if you don’t have figs, dates or prunes on hand, that’s okay! Get creative! You can easily substitute with raisins, dried fruit, etc. You can also use different nuts like pecans or almonds. Do what you like and make them your own!

If Friends Were Flours, I’d Pick You.

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix

Just thinking about the scent of freshly baked bread makes my tummy rumble. There is nothing like filling your home with the comforting scent of bread baking in the oven. However, for us to enjoy this heavenly scent, we have to have one crucial ingredient in our cupboard: FLOUR.

Being Gluten Free (GF) brings a whole new challenge to the baking scene, particularly when it comes to flour. Not able to reach for your generic all-purpose, you are faced with a slew of foreigners: coconut flour, amaranth flour (what is that, anyway?), gluten free mixes, almond and tapioca flour, brown rice and potato flour, etc. How do you know which kind to use? What brand is best?

After having tried all of the above, I have thus far narrowed it down to three go-to flours: Almond Flour, Coconut Flour and a Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix by Arrowhead Mills. Word to the wise: while Bob’s Red Mill has a number of good products, unfortunately their Gluten Free Flour is not one of them. I made the sad mistake of using it for dessert one day and unless you want your ooey-gooey cookies to taste like little iron orbs, go with Arrowhead Mills!

Almond flour is probably my favorite with its nutty, yet slightly sweet flavor, rustic texture and nutritional benefits. It is great used in cookie, muffin and even pancake recipes. For bread recipes, Arrowhead Mills’ GF Flour is ideal. Coconut flour is also great and can be combined with other flours; it can stand on its own, too, but keep in mind that it has a drier consistency when used alone.

You can find these flours at your local health food store, such as Earth Fare or Whole Foods, as well as some regular grocery stores. In fact, Publix and Walmart have started to carry more GF products! Each have their own Gluten Free section where you can find various GF flours and mixes.  If you can’t find them at your local market, below are some links for ordering on-line.

When it comes to storage, I keep both my Gluten Free Flour Mix, as well as my Almond Flour, in the pantry (both should be stored in the fridge or freezer if kept for a lengthy period of time). However, I have found that Coconut Flour is best kept refrigerated right away.

If you have any questions or simply want to share about your own discoveries in baking, feel free to comment!

Happy flour picking!

For more information and on-line ordering, visit these helpful sites:

Coconut Flour:

http://www.amazon.com/Coconut-Secret-Flour-Gluten-Canister/dp/B003XB3NNE/ref=sr_1_8?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1392935822&sr=1-8&keywords=gluten-free+flours

Almond Flour:

(Remember: Almond Flour and Almond Meal are not the same thing. Almond flour is made using finely ground blanched almonds, while Almond Meal is made with the almond’s skins still remaining and is not always as fine as flour.)

http://www.nuts.com/nuts/almonds/flour.html?utm_source=bing-ads&utm_medium=cpc&utm_group=90-AlmondFlour[3030]&utm_campaign=1-Nuts&utm_term=almond%20flour&utm_type=Exact

Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free Flour:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00061EMNE/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B000LKUTUK&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=19AASKQZJN7JPA2H49Z7

Find Your Nearest Health Food Store:

https://www.earthfare.com/

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/?reloaded=true

http://sprouts.com/

http://www.naturalgrocers.com/

http://orgharvest.info/

Part of This Complete Dessert… I Mean, Breakfast.

Sweet Potato "Scramble" with Cinnamon Apple Topping.
Sweet Potato “Scramble” with Cinnamon Apple Topping.

The air today is crisp and clean with the breath of winter. This made it the perfect morning to warm up the kitchen and experiment with one of my favorite foods: the sweet potato. Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but they are incredibly good for you! Filled with Vitamin A and C, beta carotene, fiber and antioxidants, sweet potatoes play an important role in preventing inflammation and keeping your body safe from free-radicals (which can cause cancer, among other health related issues).

Now that you know the beautiful benefits of this sweet treasure, let’s take it up a notch!  Add a few key ingredients and you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious way to start your day.

SWEET POTATO “SCRAMBLE” WITH CINNAMON APPLE TOPPING

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. of Honey
  • 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp. of Baking Powder
  • 1 1/3 C. of Almond Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance Butter or Coconut Oil (for greasing)
  • 2 Chopped Apples (I used Macintosh, but any apple will do)
  • 2 Tbsp. of Honey
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance Butter (or Coconut Oil)
  • 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  1. Begin by poking holes in your sweet potatoes. Place in the microwave for about 6 minutes, or until softened. Cut down the center of each potato (careful! They will be hot.) Allow them to cool if need be.
  2. Carve out the middles into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Using a fork, mash the potatoes until most of the lumps have disappeared.
  3. Add in the egg, vanilla, honey, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and almond milk. Whisk together.
  4. Turn your stove to Med/High heat. Liberally grease your skillet with Earth Balance butter or coconut oil. When the butter/oil begins to bubble, pour your batter into the skillet.
  5. Leave it until you see the edges begin to cook. Using a spatula, “scramble” the batter like you’re making eggs. It will take several minutes before it is ready to eat.
  6. Heat another skillet on Med/High heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance butter (or coconut oil) and let it begin to bubble. Add in your cut apples, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
  7. A glaze will begin to form in the pan, so be sure to coat your apples in it! This will only take a few minutes.
  8. Plate your Sweet Potato Scramble, topping it with the cinnamon apples. For a special touch, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

And Voila! You have successfully made a delicious and satisfying breakfast (that feels more like a dessert!) I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. My husband and brother-in-law certainly didn’t mind being guinea pigs this morning! Perhaps you have a guinea pig or two of your own who’d like to try?