Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grapefruit Cilantro Smoothie

I'm sharing this addictive smoothie recipe for our Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival with my real food blogging gals. It is one of my favorite smoothie recipes of all time and the flavors are so unexpected (I think that's what I love about it). The contrasting brightness of grapefruit and cilantro just seem to "pop" in your mouth, like a firecracker. My inspiration was gleaned from one of Sarma Melngalis' blog posts a year or so back. I was really into her cookbook Raw Food Real World when I was going through my raw vegan episode, and although I am not a raw vegan anymore (thank the Lord, I don't know who's happier, me or my husband), I do appreciate the creativity of this foodie genre.

This recipe just makes me happy as I am a cilantro lover at heart; it is often my splurge at my local co-op (I've tried for five years to grow cilantro in my garden and have yet to be successful at getting it to grow past two weeks, so I've decided to leave the growing of it to my neighbors who farm for a living).

And cilantro is one of the most powerfully healing of all herbs... check out its astounding stats (as quoted from The Global Healing Center):

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis
  • Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
  • Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  • Relief for stomach gas, prevention of flatulence and an overall digestive aid
  • Wards off urinary tract infections
  • Helps reduce feelings of nausea
  • Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation
  • Has been shown to reduce menstrual cramping.
  • Adds fiber to the digestive tract
  • A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia
  • Gives relief for diarrhea, especially if caused by microbial or fungal infections
  • Helps promote healthy liver function.
  • Reduces minor swelling
  • Strong general anti-oxidant properties
  • Disinfects and helps detoxify the body (emphasis mine)
  • Stimulates the endocrine glands
  • Helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar
  • Acts as a natural anti-septic and anti-fungal agent for skin disorders like fungal infections and eczema
  • Contains immune-boosting properties
  • Acts as an expectorant
  • Helps ease conjunctivitis, as well as eye-aging, macular degeneration, and other stressors on the eyes

This recipe is also great for these last few sizzling summer days, when you want something satisfying, yet light, to get you through a lazy afternoon of soaking up the sun. I admit, I am a tad excited for the cool, crispness of fall to arrive (and those crunchy, sweet, just picked apples from the orchard), but I am trying my darndess not to rush... because, as my fellow Minnesotans out there know, once summer ends, winter is not far behind! So let's not think about winter just yet (even though my son told me this morning that "tomorrow" it is going to snow and he is going to go sledding down the big hill!), but rather let's enjoy every moment of this heat... and the juicy flavors that it brings to our palates.

Grapefruit Cilantro Smoothie

3/4 cup cilantro (I use the stems and all)
1 grapefruit, peeled
1/2 banana
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Add all ingredients into a Vitamix or blender in the order listed. Blend until completely smooth. Enjoy immediately (trust me, it won't last more than three minutes in your glass). 

!Viva el verano!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Buckwheat Banana Pancakes

No rain this morning, but when I asked my three year old what he wanted for breakfast, he said, "Banana pancakes please!" I'm surprised it was not followed up with a request for a little "Jack." Since he was just a year old, he has had this thing for Jack Johnson, affectionately known as just "Jack" around here. We put some Jack Johnson music on and he'll just start going to town with his little man dance moves.

So whenever I hear the words banana pancakes, I always start singing to myself, "...making banana pancakes, pretend like it's the weekend now... we could pretend it all the time. Can't you see that it's just raining, ain't no need to go outside..." But since today is Saturday morning, it means Bluegrass Saturday Morning tunes were streaming in from my kitchen radio. And my little man always has little man dance moves to accompany the plink plink plink of that might fine banjo.

Ain't no need to be a Jack Johnson or bluegrass fan though to enjoy these hearty pancakes. The hint of bananas is just enough sweetness that I don't even use syrup.

Buckwheat Banana Pancakes

2 eggs
1 mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup raw milk, cream, or almond milk
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon xylosweet or agave
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat griddle to medium- low heat. Whisk eggs in bowl and add banana, milk, water, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined (may be a little chunky). Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, add pancake mixture to hot griddle, making a small circle (if using non-stick, no oil is needed. If not non-stick, use a tablespoon of coconut oil or butter to grease the pan). Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes and when a few bubbles surface the top of the pancake, use a spatula to flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes approximately 6 pancakes.

Enjoy plain (as they are a mild sweet already) or top with extra banana slices, agave, 100% pure maple syrup, or almond butter.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zucchini Greens Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

When I get on a roll, I guess I get on a roll. It's greens time again, and this recipe is yet another with this unsurpassed food group: dark, leafy greens. The other day I was craving soup; not something heavy and rich like you crave on a cold day, but rather something light and refreshing, reflecting the flavors of summer. Zucchini happened to be the vegetable of choice on my counter when the craving struck, so that is what I decided to turn into soup. And it tastes just like I had it in mind: light, creamy in its own right (without any heavy cream or cheeses), and just delightfully refreshing.

I made this a few days ago and scarfed it down all by myself in one sitting, it was that good. So today when I got home from work, I was craving it again, and since it was leftover night for dinner, I knew my family wouldn't mind if I whipped up another batch to go along with our grass fed steak fajitas from the night before. Afterall, tonight I just needed something refreshing and soupy. I had a good day- don't get me wrong- I mean, heck, it must have been a good day because I wore my hair down (not in the figurative sense, I literally wore my hair down and not in a ponytail like usual) and that only happens on a really good day! But nonetheless, it was a long day, and I was particularly tired when I got home. And soup just always sounds good to me when I'm tired (maybe it's psychological because I know I can even let my mouth rest from having to chew?).

So if you're in need of a refreshing and soupy light summer meal, give this a go.

Zucchini Greens Soup with Pumpkin Seeds

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 of an onion
2 cloves garlic
1 large zucchini
2 cups broth
1/4- 1/2 cup water
5-6 dark, leafy greens (your choice of collards, kale, beet greens, Swiss chard, or a mixture of each)
salt, pepper to taste
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Heat oil in medium sized soup pot over medium heat. Chop onion and garlic and add to hot pot. Saute for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Chop zucchini into large chunks and add to pot. Saute another 3-4 minutes until soft. Add broth, water, and dark leafys. Cover soup pot with a lid and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a blender, and puree soup. Return soup to pot, and salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Grilled Kale

Can I just say that I love kale? Well, of course I can, it's my blog, I can say whatever I want to say! Seriously, I could eat this green superfood every single day and be happy as a clam. In fact, I really need to eat this stuff, and/or other dark leafy greens like it, every single day to maintain optimal health (that's a hint, if I need to eat it everyday, so do you!). Remember Popeye? Isn't it interesting that he had to eat spinach to become strong, not Twinkies? Go figure.

I am growing kale in my garden right now and it is getting oh so big and beautiful. My three year old told me the other day, "Mommy, the kale looks wonderful!" (aren't I lucky?). I've been picking a little bit everyday so that it's literally garden fresh when I eat it. Over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at grilling kale, you know, just to see what would happen. And let me tell you, I have found my addiction! I usually end up tossing half the stocks in the garbage (sorry folks, I haven't converted to composting yet). But by preparing it this way, the stocks get all crispy and delicious, dare I say better than the leaf itself!

Even if you think you are not a kale-lover like me (that's you Dad and Brian), be adventurous and try this recipe; I think you are really going to love it. Shoot me a comment to let me know your thoughts.

And it's Tuesday again, so I'm linking up with the Two for Tuesdays blog carnival of some of my favorite real food bloggers. Be sure to browse the wonderful array of yummy looking recipes and find your favorites (even if it's not kale, boo hoo!).

Grilled Kale

8-10 kale leaves (stems in tact)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper

Wash and dry kale. Place in a large bowl and drizzle it with oil and vinegar, then add a pinch of salt and pepper. With your hands, massage the liquids into the kale leaves so they are well absorbed. Take the kale and lay it directly on a preheated grill. Grill for just 3-5 minutes, until bright green.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Herb & Olive White Bean Dip

Well, here I go again with yet another dip recipe. I am on a roll! The thing I love about making dips is that it is so incredibly easy to do, you just throw a bunch of stuff into a food processor and turn it on. Hmm, sounds difficult, huh? And once you get the hang of what flavors go with what, the possibilities are endless. This recipe came to me this morning as I was standing in my kitchen, gazing into my refrigerator at a bowl of cooked white beans I had made a few days before but had not done anything with yet. I wanted something to dip my fresh cucumbers in, so off to work I set, creating this dip as sort of a cross between hummus and pesto. If you have some Parmesan on hand, I recommend adding it to the mix. I think it would be quite lovely in here. (Needless to say, I would have added it, had I had it!)

We just got our grass fed beef order delivered to our house today. We're already pumped about grilling up some of those burgers tonight. Did you know that grass fed beef is naturally lower in fat and higher in omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated lineoleic acid than its grain fed counterparts? In layman's terms, it's totally healthier. Let's just be clear about one thing here: God created cows to eat grass. Period. When we  start messing around with the cow's intended diet and start feeding them corn and soy and grains (and who knows what else), we are asking for some health results that could be dangerous... or deadly.

That's why we made the switch to grass fed beef a few years ago and have found an amazing farmer in our area that delivers right to our door. More expensive, you ask? Sure, initially, but not really when you think that we are not eating hormones or steroids or antibiotics and are therefore setting ourselves up for a life free of cancer and other diseases (meaning that good quality grass fed beef shouldn't necessitate the need to medicate. Because a life on medication? Now that's expensive!)

If you have not already made the conversion to grass fed beef, please do yourself and your family a favor and watch the movie Food, Inc. I guarantee you will never look at a cow or chicken the same (or maybe I should say that a cow or chicken will never look the same to you again! Watch the movie and you'll understand what I mean).

This recipe doesn't have anything to do with grass fed beef (I'll get off of my soapbox now), so all you vegans and vegetarians (and those who already eat grass fed beef and don't need to hear me preach about it), go to town on this one.

Herb & Olive White Bean Dip

2 cups cooked white beans
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup mixed olives (green, kalamata, etc.)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil and parsley
salt, pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except olive oil in bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Then run the food processor and while running, stream in the olive oil. Continue processing for 30 seconds to a minute until all ingredients are well combined (I like mine a tad chunky). Taste and correct salt and pepper as needed.

My suggestion for serving is slathered on top of grilled eggplant. Amazing!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

We have some beautiful red bell peppers growing in our garden right now. My son picked a few over the weekend, so I decided to make a them into a dip. With raw vegetables tasting so good right now in this heat, I've been into making all kinds of dips to make eating them more interesting: pesto, guacamole, and now this roasted red pepper version. I've included almonds in this recipe to give it a protein kick. I purposely made it vegan by leaving out any kind of cheese, but I think it would taste even more savory with some feta added in, so feel free to give it a whirl and let me know how it turned out by leaving me a comment.

This post is also my first time participating in a blog carnival. I'm hooking up with some great real food bloggers on their Two for Tuesdays Blog Hop Carnival. I love to find others who share my same passion for real food, and I'm sure you will love reading their inspiring real food recipes! Check out A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa's site to start, and continue browsing from there. Have fun (oh, and enjoy this recipe too)!

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

2 roasted red peppers (I roast mine directly on the grill for 8-10 minutes)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup almonds
4 sprigs parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

Pull stems off roasted red peppers and chop into chunks (make sure to keep and use the seeds). Heat coconut oil in saucepan and add garlic and almonds. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning. Remove from heat when both are golden brown and fragrant. Add peppers, garlic, almonds, and parsley to food processor. Process together, and while machine is running, add olive oil in a steady stream. Continue running for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy with raw carrot sticks, cucumbers, jicama, or any other raw veggies you like. This dip is also tasty on hearty, seedy gluten free bread, crackers, or served as a main dish over cooked quinoa.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leafy Green Pesto

I raided my neighborhood's community garden on Saturday night and came home with a bag full of dark leafy greens. Vegetables, yes, but not just any vegetables. Call them what you want: Super Foods, Perfect Foods, nutritional powerhouses, etc., these nutritiously dense leaves are really in a class all by themselves. Amazingly enough, dark leafy greens seem to be the one food group that no matter what side of the health spectrum people are on (raw, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, sugar free, organic, or even the Standard American Diet!), they all seem to agree that dark leafy greens are indeed good for you. And moreover, you can't go a day without reading some health article about the how they benefit the human body. To quote Laura Dolson of About.com, "Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin... Dark green leaves even contain small amount of Omega-3 fats." Read the full article here

I started eating them with abandon a few years ago at the commencement of my health journey and have never looked back. I eat them raw, steamed, as wraps, in soups, in pestos (hence the recipe), in salads. I know that many people do, however good they are for you, find difficulty in adding them into their "daily" meal repertoires. For myself, I can't just prepare them the same way every day (too boring!), so I have to get creative in my preparation of them to keep me healthfully indulging every day. (I'm very unlike my parents, who, God love 'em, can eat a spinach salad every single day.) So hopefully you'll be inspired by this recipe to find creative ways to get the dark leafys in... at least almost everyday!

Leafy Green Pesto

12-15 leaves of dark leafy vegetables (I used 3 of each: kale, collards, beet greens, and Swiss chard)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pecans
3 tablespoons water (I used the steam water)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
pinch nutmeg
salt, pepper

Steam leafy greens until bright green (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from steamer and place in food processor. Heat coconut oil in small skillet over med-low heat and when hot, add garlic and pecans. Toast about 5 minutes, shaking skillet often to prevent burning. When browned, add garlic and pecans, along with steam water and vinegar to food processor. Process about 30 seconds to 1 minute until combined. Add olive oil in steady stream to processor while running and continue to process another minute or so. Stop and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper and process one more time, adjusting seasonings as necessary.

I love to eat this alone or with raw carrots. It is also fantastic on top of grilled white fish, like mahi mahi or orange roughy (my personal favorite). It pairs well with a mild goat cheese a top of bread or crackers for a sophisticated appetizer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grilled Margherita Pizza

**Update: this post was published before my lab tests confirmed my gluten sensitivity, so if you are strictly gluten free like me, stay tuned for my gluten free crust recipe.**

This post is so timely, just perfect for your Friday night. In our home, Friday nights are legendary "pizza and movie nights". It all started when my husband and I received a pizza stone as a wedding gift over seven years ago. We pulled it out of the box and thought, Hmmm, what an odd wedding gift. But decided to give our best shot out of making our own pizza. Our first few pizzas were a disaster (my husband insisted that we use one entire pound of cheese per pizza!) We kept trying though, every week, thinking that maybe this week the pizza would come out just right. Well, I'm glad we kept at it, because in just a few short months, we had perfected the art of making pizza at home.

Of course, we have come a long way from our early days of making pizza at home. Back when we were first married, we were pinching pennies every chance we could get to pay off some debt, so we ate as cheaply as we could, which means that we didn't eat very healthy (in fact, I didn't really even know anything about health back then). We would buy Betty Crocker crust mixes for $0.33, add some water, and start rolling the dough. (Little did I  know of what the ingredients were in those Betty Crocker crusts.) I wouldn't even think about doing that now! Now I make everything from scratch. Partly because I just like to be in the kitchen, partly because it does save money, but mostly because of the health benefits (I get to control what I put into my crust).

This crust recipe does contain gluten, but the grains used are sprouted, making it more digestible. I make it for my husband and son (my baby is not onto solids yet), but I make a separate, gluten free crust for myself as I have learned that my body doesn't tolerate gluten. (Stay tuned to a later post for my gluten free crust version.) Of course, you can always skip the "sprouting of the grains" step, but it really is not hard once you get the hang of it. Or, if you think it is just too much work to make your own crust, any good quality, pre-made crust from your local grocery or health food store will do.

I also recommend using the freshest toppings available. The toppings in this recipe (except for the mozzarella) all come from my garden. It makes such a difference in taste!

Another note: this pizza is slightly different than our normal Friday night pizzas in that it is grilled instead of baked in the oven (remember, I can't use my oven right now because these summer temps are too hot for my old house with no central air). Therefore it does not call for using a pizza stone, but rather a cookie sheet. Since the cookie sheet goes right onto the grill, I recommend using one that you don't mind turning a little charred (but hey, I think this gives it character!).

Grilled Margherita Pizza


2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups sprouted spelt flour*
1 1/2 cups sprouted kamut flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1/2 cup pizza sauce (we also make this from scratch using tomato paste, olive oil, garlic powder and water, but canned good quality, organic pizza sauce will do)
6 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup basil, chiffanade
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling over top

Mix yeast and water in a small bowl and let rest for five minutes. Meanwhile, mix flours, salt, and oil in medium size bowl. Add water/yeast and stir to combine. Knead dough for a few minutes to get all ingredients incorporated and into a nice ball. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth towel and let rest 45 minutes.

After resting time, take dough and divide in half, as the recipe makes two thin crust pizzas. If not using both right away, freeze one crust in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to four months.

Preheat grill. Take the dough you are using and roll out on a floured surface to the desired size (I make mine in a rectangle shape just slightly smaller than a large cookie sheet). Carefully transfer dough to an oiled cookie sheet. Poke holes on the crust using a fork to let air escape. Leave the crust on the cookie sheet and grill for 5-7 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown.

Pull the crust off the grill and cover with pizza sauce. Add tomatoes in single layer, then basil, then cheese. Drizzle oil over the top and place on grill for an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Remove from grill, transfer pizza to a cutting board, and slice into desired size/shape. (We cut ours into little squares.)

Savor the flavors in the great outdoors!

*To sprout the flours, start with 1 1/2 cups each of whole spelt and kamut grain kernels. Soak them overnight in enough water to cover and place a light kitchen towel over the top of bowl. Drain in the morning. Put the grain back into the bowl with no water, cover the bowl with the towel, and let rest on the counter for 1-2 days, rinsing the grain 2-3 times per day in water, until tiny "tails" appear on the grain. Then place the grain on Teflex sheets in the dehydrator and dry for about 8-12 hours. Take the dried, sprouted grain and grind into flour using a Vitamix dry blade or flour mill. Or you can skip all of this and just buy flour that is already sprouted!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garden Fresh Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I'm just lovin' this time of year; the produce is in abundance here in my neck of the Minnesota woods. Whether from my own garden or the farmer's market or my local co-op, it just keeps on coming and is starting to invade my kitchen counter. Not that I am complaining; it just means more creative juices are flowing to get that produce from "just picked" to "plate".

Today we had a run to the beach in the late afternoon, and didn't get home until 5:45 (and oops! no dinner plans were made before we left the house). So with the temps in the mid-90's and no air conditioning in my house, we were in need of a quick, refreshing, and "cook-less" (AKA "raw") meal for my hungry boys. I glanced at the bowl full of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes sitting on my counter and immediately envisioned this salad. It comes together very quickly and will satisfy even the child's palate. My three year old just devours cucumbers; it is the oddest thing to me, to see a child beg for them, and he does. (Meanwhile a thankful mother, in tears of gratitude, lifts her voice to the Almighty, "Thank you God! My child eats vegetables!") 

Ahh hemmm. I digress. Back to the recipe!

Garden Fresh Cucumber and Tomato Salad

2 cucumbers
6-8 roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup feta
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil and parsley
salt, pepper

Chop cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell pepper into medium size chunks and add to bowl. Whisk olive oil and vinegar in small bowl and pour over vegetables. Add feta, olives, and herbs to bowl and toss to combine. Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

The longer this salad sits, the more intense the flavors get; it makes a great "leftover" salad. You can also make an easy one-dish meal out of this by simply adding some protein elements like cooked quinoa and shredded chicken.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grain Free Granola

This granola recipe caters not only to the gluten free crowd but also to anyone who loves granola but does not want all the added sugar. It is sweetened mostly by fruit, so you can really indulge without guilt. It is a fantastic on-the-go snack or as a quick breakfast with some almond milk. And the recipe is so versatile: you can substitute any of the nuts and seeds for others you might have on hand (think macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, etc...) and swap out the pear for an apple or peach. You can't go wrong, so enjoy the experimentation. If you try a variation of this, leave me a comment!

Grain Free Granola

1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 pear
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons agave or xylosweet
2 tablespoons cinnamon
pinch salt

Soak nuts and seeds in large bowl of water for 8 hours or overnight. Place pear through remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until chunky consistency. Add soaked and drained nuts and seeds and continue pulsing until all ingredients are combined.

Spread mixture onto two Teflex lined dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 hours until crispy. Alternatively, you can spread the mixture onto two parchment paper lined cookie sheets and bake in the oven at 300 for 45-50 minutes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hearty, Seedy Gluten Free Bread

I was so thrilled to wake up this summer morning to rain and cooler temperatures, not that I love rain or cooler temperatures in the summer, but it gave me a prime opportunity to turn my oven on. All summer long I have been banned from this wonderful kitchen appliance because it makes our 90 year old home way too hot (we don't have central air). So it's been grill, grill, grill for us the last few months. But oh, this morning I jumped at the first cool breeze blowing through my window to make some gluten free bread that I have been craving!

I admit, I have been a addict to Elana's Pantry for a couple of years and was elated when she came out with her Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook last year. I especially fell in love with her gluten free breads. As a gluten free girl myself, bread seems to be the thing gluten-freers miss when they make the initial conversion. I don't actually crave (grain) bread anymore, but it is nice to have the option of bread- you know- for sandwiches, as toast with eggs, etc.

For this recipe, I started with Elana's Scrumptious Sandwich Bread base recipe, and added/changed a few things to come up with this hearty, seedy version. The star ingredient in this recipe- almonds- are a great nutritional start, packed with protein, fiber, and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Then you add the buckwheat flour, also high in protein and fiber, and the flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds, all rich sources of vital essential fatty acids and fiber, and this bread becomes your go-to Super (Wonder) Bread! Even if you are a gluten-ite, try this recipe for sheer nutritional deliciousness.

My favorite ways to eat it are toasted and topped with either goat cheese or pesto. But it does make an amazing sandwich too; use it in place of sprouted grain bread for the Ra-Kel.

Hearty, Seedy Gluten Free Bread

3/4 cup creamy almond butter
4 eggs
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend almond butter and eggs in bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Add in flax, buckwheat, arrowroot, baking soda and salt and continue mixing until smooth. Add pumpkin seeds and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into greased 7 x 3.5 inch glass baking pan (I use the Pyrex brand) and bake 40-45 minutes until slightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 30-60 minutes in pan before removing. Elana recommends storing the bread wrapped in a paper towel and closed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use within 5-6 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Berry Breakfast Pudding

We're back from the barn dance at my aunt and uncle's house in the country. They always throw a great party, and the barn dance was no exception. It was a celebration of life: my uncle is battling cancer and we believe he is winning the fight, it was my aunt's 60th birthday, and also their granddaughter's (my cousin's daughter's) first birthday. Talk about reasons to celebrate! We spent the weekend lounging around in the great outdoors with our extended family members, and spent Saturday night jamming and dancing to the bands' music in the barn. My cousins play in several bands in the Twin Cities, and various band members showed up to jam, including my cousin Jamie's band Sick of Sarah and my cousin Chris' bands The Fattening Frogs and Four on the Floor. My uncle and his brothers also did a few numbers on the banjo. My son danced with grandma's cowboy hat on for over two hours; he was definitely entertainment for the rest of us!

Well, you know when you're out of town, it seems no matter how you try, you always end up eating foods you don't normally eat. And a lot of sugar. So when we got back in town, I knew I was going to want something super nutritious for breakfast. We happened to have one avocado left, and this breakfast pudding was calling my name. It's really creamy, filling, and nutritious. The idea of it came from one of my cookbook obsessions from last summer... Mariel's Kitchen.

When I discovered the cookbook, Mariel's Kitchen, I instantly fell in love with it-- and her-- all over again (I first fell in love with her in the movie Delirious when she starred opposite the comedic legend John Candy- classic!). Her health philosophy so closely resembles my own, I know that if we met someday, we'd be friends. Her recipes are very simple, and clean.. I almost feel detoxed from just looking at the gorgeous pictures.

I think I've made most recipes in that cookbook at least once, and have come up with my own variations of my favs. I make this pudding all the time.

Berry Breakfast Pudding

1 avocado
3/4 cup frozen blueberries or other berries
1/2 cup hot or boiling water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons agave

Mix all ingredients in Vitamix or other high powered blender until smooth, adding more hot water if necessary to facilitate blending. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.

Makes 2 servings (although I often eat all of it in one setting!).