Saturday, May 24, 2014

Adzuki Brownies

Back in the day I would buy those protein/energy bars. And they were okay. Kinda pricey, but I guess they did the job. But I started to cut out processed foods, then took it a step further went vegan (the first time) after that.  I found I felt better every day just by improving my diet in these two ways. But then I bumped up the intensity of my workouts. Now I was faced with the problem of how to get the protein my body needs to support my exercise regimen-without dairy or meat.

I found a product called Vega Sport. Bought their sample pack of products. Some of the products were ok. The chocolate saviseed bar was good, but the replenish beverages were chalky, thick, bitter and hard to swallow.  And I didn't really feel rejuvenated by the food I was eating. And the protein powder had a funny taste that didn't appeal to me.

I prefer to eat real food instead of processed energy bars.  I feel so much better.  The downside is that I'm cooking ALOT, and when I'm not cooking, I'm thinking about cooking. Ugh. Will I ever be unshackled from the kitchen?

Then I found Adzuki Bars.

This recipe was quickly launched into one of my all-time favorites.  You can find the recipe in Scott Jurek's book, Eat & Run.  They only require the use of the food processor, so clean up is easy. They freeze well and are portable. I grab two of these to chow down on after workouts and I feel better than if I eaten a protein bar. I make up a batch, bag them up and freeze them.  Then grab a bag before heading to the gym or out for a run.

Good thing for me is that only my daughter and I both like them-no one else does. So they last a while.  They are not too sweet. Made with Adzuki Beans (which I had never heard of before I tried this), so it has protein.  Very low sugar, which I like.

They call for rice and barley flour. So went to out local food coop to see if they have it. I met a nice lady there (another customer) who said she doesn't buy the ready made flours, she just makes her own.

Really?  Isn't that a lot of work?

Not really.  All you need is the product you want to turn into flour, in this case rice and barley, and a coffee grinder. And it's soooo much cheaper.

So I thought I'd try it. I'm all for saving money.  I already have a pretty nice coffee grinder that I never use.

I don't need that much for his recipe so I gave it a whirl. And as luck would have it I had rice and pearled barley in the pantry.

After just a minute, maybe less, I had flour.

Get the book and try them. If you don't like them, send them my way. I'll eat them. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tea time with Coconut Scones

We have been having difficulty exercising good table manners at home lately. Forget about going to a restaurant - that is completely out of the question.

So we've been coming down pretty hard. Forcing the issue. The kids are old enough to have enough discipline at the table to use polite manners. And I want to have a nice meal.

So my solution? We started having daily tea after school.  At least that is one component of the solution.

This is not a pretend tea party. A real after school snack where we all sit at the table together. I get out the fancy-but-not-too-fancy dinnerware and bake a plate of scones or put together little sandwiches or some fresh fruit.  The kids don't drink tea (we are careful not to let them have caffeine), but they will usually have milk or water.

It seems to be working. They have something to eat that they like. They are hungry. And it's a short duration-maybe 10 minutes. They tell us about their day. It's fun!

One unintended benefit (to my surprise) is that dinner is pushed back to 6:30-7. Much later than we used to eat (used to eat at 5 or 530).  Since they are older and going to bed later now, there is plenty of time for bath and stories after dinner. A later dinner hour also gives me more time to cook dinner and I don't feel so rushed. I love it.

By the time dinner rolls around they are hungry again. Then its much easier to enjoy dinner because it seems they are able to retain some of what we practiced at tea.

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Coconut scones

Baking anything without butter or egg and getting the same result as a dairy baked good is very difficult. No - its impossible.  I guess when you decide to go vegan you have to accept that your baked goods are just not going to be the same.  But I thought these coconut scones were pretty good. Not the same, but still really good. Pretty dense. And the coconut flavor was not too intense. Thats either a plus or minus depending on your affinity for coconut.

With only 2 tablespoons of sugar, they are not to sweet either.  I like that.

Serve them with a little pineapple jelly or whipped coconut cream (for directions on how to make whipped coconut cream, see my blog entry on Strawberry Shortcakes).  I like my tea served with light vanilla soy milk and maybe some honey for added sweetness if I'm in the mood.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Overnight Chia Pudding

I've tried some chia puddings before.  I think I have mainly done the chocolate variety to be eaten as an after dinner snack.  It was ok.  The calories were still pretty high and I would rather have the real thing.  However, after the Cooper River Bridge run they were passing out samples of a commercial chia pudding and it was SOOO good.  Not like I would ever find anything like that around here, but then I read this post and said, hey, I can do that myself!  So I did.

One major change between the recipe posted and mine...I hate bananas, so I used raspberries.  Yum.  I also didn't use the pre-portion amounts from Trader Joe's, but measured everything out from what I had.  My results were.. ok.  I ate it for breakfast for a couple of mornings.  I kind of lost interested and ended up with a lot leftover.  It was a nice little experiment, but next time I will make individual servings.  I was kind of hoping that James would get in on this, but he didn't.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ezekial 4:9 Bread

My go to lunch is one of two things that keep well in my fridge:  Quinoa Crunch Salad that Kerri found or this sandwich - Cucumbers, Roasted Red Peppers and Hummus on bread.  They are both super easy and fast. I don't often have a lot of time to sit down and eat (who does these days?), so this is a great option.

I think I actually posted this sandwich a few years ago, but since then, I've discovered Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

Now, I don't eat this bread every day. I probably should. Sprouted breads are supposed to contain more nutrients that processed white or wheat breads.   The theory is that they grains are harvest right when they sprout thereby introducing the proteins and carbs that are excellent for athlete's bodies. But this bread is very dry and crumbly and I although I like the flavor of the bread, I can't say I like the crumbs it produces.  The texture itself is ok, its just kind of messy (in my opinion).  I could deal with the crumbliness of the bread if it weren't for the price. Its expensive.  $5 for a 24 oz the loaf at Trader Joe's.  

There are some other brands, but they are in the same price range - maybe a buck less.   Silver Hills Bakery is a Canadian company that makes a good sprouted grain bread (and bagels) we get here in the upper midwest.  I think Trader Joe's carries another sprouted grain bread that is around $4. 

Here is Minnesota I can find Silver Hills Bakery Bread in 4 versions at Super Target in the bakery section.  The bonus for me is that my daughter likes this bread, and if you've been following my blogs  for a while, you know how hard it is to get protein in that child.  The Silver Hills Bakery bread is not as crumbly and dry as the Ezekiel 4:9 bread, but not soft like a whole wheat bread you'd find in the bread aisle. It also has a very good shelf life. Its seems to last in my pantry about a week (if its not eaten up long before then) before it seems to go stale. 

I have tried making my own sprouted bread at home too.   I wasn't too impressed with my first attempt - it was supposed to be a  "life-changing" bread recipe. Well it was, just not in the way the author thought. I didn't like it. The dog wouldn't even eat it. 

I haven't given up on making my own sprouted bread. There are tons of recipes out there.  I'll keep trying.  But in the meantime I'm happy to keep buying Silver Hills Bakery Bread.  Its a winner in my house. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Peas and Thank You Chocolate Pie

This one was from the first Peas and Thank You cookbook.  My goal is to not be as lazy with my desserts so when I brought something to Shannon's for after dinner, well, I wanted it to be a little special.  This pie came together pretty quickly and it was VERY good.  I topped it with some coconut cream.  That was my first time trying it and it works pretty well.  It didm' grow like real whipped cream, but wow, still good.  YUM!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Roasted ChickPeas

I wasn't so sure about these. But they actually turned out okay. The best part is that they are very transportable.  Put a bunch in a baggie and take it with wherever you go.

I read a few recipes for roasted chickpeas online - there are a bunch out there.  And they are all very similar. 

Basically it goes like this:

1 15 can chick peas
olive oil
cayenne pepper

Open a can of chickpeas and rinse them.  Dry them off on a towel and dump them on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Roast at 375 for about 45 minutes until dry (mine were still a little chewy and moist on the inside, but I liked them that way). 

Once out of the oven, coat with a tad bit of EVOO - maybe a 1/2 t. Not very much. Don't want them too oily.  I seasoned mine with about 3 dashes of cayenne pepper. Enough to spice them up without burning my mouth on first bite. 
Keep in a tightly covered container.  Consume immediately.  These don't keep very long - maybe a day. 

I've seen these made with honey and little sea salt instead of cayenne, which I tried thinking my daughter would eat them - she wouldn't.  They weren't too bad with the honey, but I liked the cayenne ones better. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Overnight Oats

A super easy breakfast. We eat this one a lot.  I've adapted my recipe from the one here. Its a good one to take on the go or eat after the gym.  I eat this before long runs and it has carried me through.

The best part? It's totally adaptable and flexible.  Don't have raisins? Use dried cherries, currants or cranberries. Like nuts? Add them in just before digging in. Prefer Old Fashioned Oats to Steel Cut? No biggie. Like coconut? Put it in.  Don't want to measure? Just guess (although I recommend measuring the oats and milk). Want a bigger portion size? Double it up.  Want it gluten free?  No problem!

You can have it your way.

I make up a bunch of these in advance by putting the dry ingredients together in a tightly sealed container.

Then the night before I add the milk.  I've even forgotten to add the milk the night before and did it in the morning, let it sit for an hour the dive in.

Breakfast?  Check.

For a vegetarian, but non-vegan version, add 1/2 C plain greek yogurt the night before. Then the morning you want to eat, stir in 1/4 C milk.

Easy Overnight Oats

1/2 C your preferred oats
1/2 C your preferred non dairy milk
1/8 C raisins
3 dried apricots, chopped
1 T flaxseed meal or chia seed
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2-1 t maple syrup
Toasted nuts

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container or jar. Stir well and keep in fridge overnight. Heat it up in the morning if you want it warm, or just eat it cold (that's what I do).