Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chia Jam from Oh She Glows

One of the recipes that jumped out at me when I checked out the Oh She Glows cookbook was a Chia Jam.  A jam that doesn't include a ton of sugar and pectin which just makes it slippery and slimy.  Interesting... I'm not a huge jam/jelly fan anyways.  Really, it is just too sweet.  But I bought a big batch of strawberries and at the end of the week they were looking like of sad.  It was the perfect thing to take 3 cups of them and make this jam.  And it was so easy.  SO EASY.  And the results, delicious.  Really, the perfect amount of sweetness.  I just made it again with some leftover blackberries and frozen raspberries.  Can't wait to try it tomorrow on some cold overnight oatmeal!

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Yield: ~ 1 cup
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium-sized non-stick pot, bring the blueberries and 3 tbsp of maple syrup to a low boil. Stir frequently, and reduce heat to low-medium to simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash the blueberries with a potato masher or fork, leaving some for texture.
2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook the mixture down until it thickens to your desired consistency, or about 15 minutes. Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot.
3. Once the jam is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more maple syrup to taste if desired. Enjoy on toast, English muffins, oatmeal, vegan overnight oats, oat bars, tarts, cookies, banana soft serve, smoothies, and more. The jam should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2012/06/26/magical-blueberry-vanilla-chia-seed-jam/#ixzz35cBKpMp0

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pasta Primavera from the Crock Pot

Its been a while since I made this and I've been waiting for a good time to post it.  Since its been rather crummy out the past couple of days it just seemed like a crock pot weather.

This one is from one of my all time favorite recipe creators - American's Test Kitchen. Unfortunately they don't make a lot of vegan food, but there are a few recipes that I can use. Most of the vegan ones they make are in their newest book "Slow Cooker Revolution".   Now, I'm not a huge fan of all their slow cooker recipes. And I admit that when I first started trying their slow cooker recipes I had to adjust my perspective of what slow cooking actually was.  Its not just dump-it-all-in-the-pot-and-turn-it-on-for-eight-hours kind of cooking.  There is usually some prep-work that requires dirtying a sauté - pan or two.

After trying many of their recipes I do feel like the little extra work is worth it. The work I'm referring to is usually chopping and sautéing the vegetables in advance or adding something mid-way through the cooking process.

This Pasta Primavera sauce recipe of theirs is pretty good. It wasn't love at first bite, but it nourished my body.  My husband actually saw it in the pot when he got home from work and thought it was vegetable soup and ate it without the pasta. 

I will probably have this on the menu at my pre-race pasta party for those of us who want our veggies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aspire to be Better than Gatorade

I love to buy locally made products. I think its important to support the community we live in.  In fact, I would go so far to say its our responsibility.  Any money spent on products that are produced/sold by our neighbors goes directly back into the community in which we live, thereby improving our local economy.

Gatorade has had the corner on the sports drink market for what seems like forever. I remember drinking it when I was a kid, back when it only came in Lemon-Lime or Orange flavors.  But its not really all that.  Sure it does the job: Hydrates you after and during a workout, replaces electrolytes potassium and sodium lost during endurance training.   Have you read the ingredients list?  Sugar and artificial flavor and color.

Ugh.  I wanted something healthier.  MY STOMACH IS NOT A WASTEBASKET!  Why is this crap on the market?

Oh, and as a side note, did you know that the recommended daily allowance for sugar in the average female is 26 grams of sugar (for men its 32 grams)?  A medium sized apple has 15 grams of sugar and a teaspoon of granulated sugar has 4 grams of sugar.  But more on that later.

Enter the new guy on the block.  Aspire is made in here in Minnesota by two dads who started the company because they didn't want to fill their active kids with the laboratory produced junk that is in Gatorade or Powerade.


Its reaching out to other parts of the country too. I believe they've started selling at Whole Foods now. 
The downside?  Ah yes, there is always a downside. Its not cheap. $2 for one 12 oz bottle. 

But I recommend trying it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Chick pea burgers

I have a new favorite blog: www.runningonrealfood.com.  So far I'm 2 for 2 on her recipes. These chick pea burgers were easy to make and were delicious. One of the best parts is that stayed together on the grill! Now that's exciting.

I am totally making these again. I hand a hankering for buffalo sauce the other day so I took enough for 2 patties and added 1-1 1/2 T (I can't remember exactly how much) Franks Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce to the 'meat'  in lieu of the sriracha sauce.

For the remaining patties I didn't have the sriracha sauce the recipe called for so I used the Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce by the Ginger people.

I was skeptical about putting them on the grill, but Deryn, the recipe creator said it was fine, so we gave it a go. They stayed together perfectly and I got the awesome grill marks that everyone wants on their burgers.

Both variations were very good. I was afraid I wasn't going to like the Asian flavored one, but it was excellent. And the buffalo variation was good, but could use improvement. It had an infused buffalo flavor instead of dripping with sauce like a real buffalo chicken sandwich.

Try them.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wheat Grass Smoothies

My husband is making fun of me because I bought some wheat grass.  It was only $3.50 for a container of it at Kowalski (our local gourmet grocer).

I googled recipes for Wheat grass. The most obvious ones are smoothies, so I found this one and went to work.

My husband was kind of grossed out I think.

"You are going to eat it?" he exclaimed
"Yes, why do you think I bought it?" I replied
" I thought you bought it so the kids could see the roots grow" he said.

Wheat Grass is supposed to have many virtues. I forget what they are. It's supposed to be pretty rich in nutrients like iron and calcium, but more holistically it's supposed to boost immunity and aid with digestion. I don't know about all that. Evidently there is no solid medical evidence supporting that and I didn't buy it for the holistic benefits.  I just wanted to try it.

I kept it alive for a few weeks in out little table top greenhouse I got from Ikea. To harvest it, just grab a small handful and snip it off close to the base.  And toss in the blender with your other ingredients.

Blend it up and voila! 

It actually tasted good. I couldn't taste the grass at all. My kids liked it too until they realized they were drinking something green, then they refused it.  I think combining it with strong flavored like orange juice and pineapple disguised it. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It was a Rough Day

 My husband was having a rough day. Nothing was going his way.

I had pulled together a pretty nice dinner. I brought out a nice bottle of wine that we had downstairs. 

I called my experiences in France (from my college days) and pulled out the Lentil Walnut Pate and I made a few days ago, served with some crackers.  Just that with some wine brought me back to the days of lunches by the river, with my baguette, some cheese or duck liver pate, a bottle of wine and my friends.  Those were the days.  

This pate. Please don't judge a book by its cover.  The pictures on the Bojon Gourmet Blog are much better.  This pate has the consistency of hummus.  Despite the long list of ingredients, some of which are unusual I kind of liked this.  I don't know if I'd make it often, but it has a sophisticated flavor that was really special.  For the average bear I would say its probably an acquired taste.  But special nonetheless. 

And it wasn't the cheapest either. Umeboshi Paste was $12!  I almost gave in when I saw the price. Plus I wasn't sure what else I would use umeboshi paste for.  But I found it this recipe months ago and I've been hanging onto it waiting for the right time to try it. 

I love this time of year.  Fresh peaches a plenty.  They remind me of our time living in the south. 
Lucky Black Eye Pea Salad is one of my husband's favorite summertime salads.  I think I wrote about this salad a few years ago, but its worth mentioning again. 

The wine complemented the peaches terrifically. I'm not a riesling person, but the guy at the store recommended it and I was in the mood to try something different. Boy, it was spot on.  A little dry, not too fruity or sweet.  I don't normally drink, but I think this was a nice treat. 

Dinner?  Check. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hemp seed bars

A while back my husband and I were having a discussion on vegetarian protein sources.  My daughter refuses to eat meat, which I am okay with as long as she gets her protein from plants.  And for the most part she does eat plant based protein sources.  Sometimes she needs a little coaxing, sometimes we have a stand off over it.

But since she is so picky and eats like a bird, she needs more variety to keep her interested in her food and I need more creative options to provide for her and keep her healthy. 

So I found an awesome entry on The Greatist blog about 12 vegetarian protein sources.  This was an exciting eye-opener for me. 

Some of the usual suspects are included on the list.  I already knew quinoa is a great source of protein and we eat it often in our home.  My daughter doesn't really care for it.  I'm not sure why. I tried telling her its rice but she didn't buy it.  Chia seeds are black, so she won't eat them.   Ezekiel Bread?  She gave it a good try.  We are still working on that one.  Beans are definitely a winner as is peanut butter and hummus. 

There are few new options that I find exciting: Buckwheat?  Hemp Seeds?  Spirulina? And I've never heard of Quorn before. 

I like trying food with unusual ingredients, so I wanted to try hemp seeds right away (insert hemp jokes from my husband here).   If its protein source I can feed my daughter, then I totally want to try it.  And I found a winner.  Its from a great blog called Running on Real Food.  

These are called 5 Ingredient Paleo Bars.  I took a recommendation from one of the reviewers to add some cocoa powder (photo on right). And they were good. One caveat though: I would use less coconut oil the next time I try them. I think 1/4 C coconut oil was too much.  It was kinda like biting into some paraffin wax, if you know what I mean. But it was still good, I think it just needs a little less coconut oil. If you try them, use just enough to hold them together and tell me how it goes. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Vegan Pizza - No Fake Stuff

There's a relatively new place in town called Punch Neapolitan Pizza and we got take out.  Whenever we get pizza, I know I'm not eating vegan that night.  I always look for a vegan or vegetarian option whenever possible. But I was pleasantly surprised when they had a vegan pizza - with no fake cheese!

I hate the fake stuff.  It never tastes like what its supposed to be replacing.  Fake cheese does not taste like cheese.  I'd rather eat the real thing than suffer through something that is not up to snuff.

Enter the Gigi.  A tomato basil pizza.  It was fabulous.

I KNOW I can make this at home.  I'm lucky that I have a terrific bread book.  Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer.  If you like bread - good bread, the real stuff you'd pay $6 for at the bakery, then this is the book for you.  She has a fabulous recipe for pizza dough.  I use it all the time.  But making this pizza dough isn't for the faint of heart. Its takes a fair amount of planning, and about 6 hours.  But in my opinion its totally worth it.

Most of us aren't going to go through this kind of effort, so I won't waste your time (if you are interested, go buy the book, you won't regret it).

This is what I did:

Use your favorite pizza dough recipe or get a crust from the store.
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or crushed
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh garlic, sliced
Olive Oil (If you have garlic infused EVOO - even better!)

Place the tomatoes, basil and sliced garlic on the dough in places where you will to taste all the flavors in one bite. Drizzle the pie with olive oil and bake until the crust is done.

Very good.