Monday, November 28, 2016

Mini Pumpkin Pies with a Date Nut Crust

There is nothing better than that combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and pumpkin this time of year.  OR anytime of year really.  These little pumpkin pies are so good you may question how good they are for you. 
The crust is a unique combination of dates, nuts, cocoa and coconut. NO ADDED SWEETENER OR FLOUR.  The crust is the perfect compliment to the custard-like pumpkin that lies on top. The entire thing is so easy to make and is the perfect ending to any meal. 

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates ( about 12)
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger & cloves
pinch of sea salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 organic eggs
1/4 cup grade maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut milk (full fat)                                                           
Directions: Line 16 muffin tins with paper liners and grease with coconut oil or butter.  In a food processor, blend together the cocoa powder, nuts, dried coconut and dates to make the crust.  Drop a  tablespoon of the crust into the paper muffin liners and press down to the bottom.  In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the pumpkin pie filling with a blender until smooth.  Pour pie filling into paper cups about 2/3rds full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until              filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Serve  with a  drizzle of melted chocolate and/or  a dollop of fresh whipped cream. 

Simple, healthy ingredients for the crust.

Add to a food processor or blender

Shredded coconut, walnuts, dates and cocoa powder

Crust blended and ready.

Press into greased paper muffin liners.

Blend pumpkin, spices, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and coconut milk.

Poor filling into muffin liners until 3/4 full.

Ready to Bake!

A delicious bite that you don't have to feel guilty for.

I have also made these in mini muffin tins as well, which I feel are perfect for big gatherings where there are multiple desserts.  This gives everyone a chance to try a "bite" without overindulging.  The mini muffin size is also just the right portion for little kids.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spaghetti Squash with Thai Peanut Sauce

If you are looking for something a little different to make for dinner because your routine is getting a little ordinary, I have just the recipe for you. Spaghetti Squash replaces a typical noodle that is found in this Thai dish.  The lightness of the spaghetti squash,  is the perfect combo for this creamy sauce.

1/2 cup creamy natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 can 13.5 oz coconut milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons turmeric
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon grated ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh chopped green onion
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups spinach  or kale
1 large spaghetti squash
Avocado oil or coconut oil
Sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 F. Half the squash and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle inside with oil  and sprinkle with salt. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. When spaghetti squash is done roasting, remove it from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then, using a fork, scrape out the spaghetti squash strands.
Over a medium heat, add peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, spices and salt to a skillet.  Cook until peanut butter is melted and sauce is bubbling.  Add green onions and spinach.  Cook until they are softened.  Place  spaghetti squash into the bubbling sauce.  Remove from heat and stir to combine. Serve with a garnish of fresh chopped cilantro. 

Cut and scoop out seeds
 It is important when choosing a spaghetti squash to get one that is bright yellow with no brown spots.  The area around the stem should be firm and free of any black color.  The peel should be shiny and firm and not be easily marked with your fingernail.  An old spaghetti squash will be flavorless and mushy and will not yield strong spaghetti-like strands. 
Cook face down until outer peel is easily pierce with a fork.

Sea salt and avocado oil
 If you desired kale in stead of spinach cook this first in the oil and salt until softened.  If you are using spinach add the fresh spinach in the final steps as to avoid it becoming mushy.  I used yellow cooking onions instead of green onions as my kids prefer yellow onions.  I cooked them with the kale.

Someone is always on the prowl for kale. 

Add apple cider vinegar
Then add 1 can of coconut milk.  NO light milk.  Full fat, please.

I'm a bit of a peanut butter connoisseur so I always have several varieties on hand.  My favorite is the Mara Natha's no stir organic PB.  It is slightly sweetened so I did not add any honey.  If your are using PB without any sweetener, a little honey really makes this dish. 

Add the PB and stir until combined.

A pinch of cayenne pepper brings a little heat to the dish. My kids love it.

Grilled chicken or shrimp is a nice addition to this otherwise vegetarian meal.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Coconut Oil Immuno-Melts

It's back to school time! This often means a change in schedule, sleeping and eating habits and more exposure to illness.  Coconut oil Immuno-Melts are the perfect solution to keeping your immune system strong during a time of increased demand.  Coconut oil Immuno-Melts  are easy to make, taste like lemon icing and are good for the entire family!

1 cup coconut oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1-2 tablespoon lemon zest or 5-10 drops of lemon oil

2-3 Tablespoons raw honey

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or garlic

Mix all ingredients in a small blender until well emulsified.  Under mixing may result in inconsistent taste. Pour mixed oil into silicon molds or mini muffin tins lined with parchment.  Place the filled molds in the fridge or freezer.  Once solidified, remove immuno-melts from their molds and store in an air tight   container in the fridge.  Enjoy as desired!

If you are having trouble getting the honey to mix evenly with the other ingredients, check out my troubleshooting tips from my Complete Guide to Coconut Oil Chocolates.

Cooling the coconut oil until it is semi-solid, allows for easy honey emulsification.

Blend all ingredients well with a blender.

Pour into molds.

Place in fridge or freezer to solidify. 

Why IMMUNO-MELTS work....

Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which boosts our immune response. Vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant, which means it helps protect against damage at the cellular level.   Lemons are also antiseptic in nature providing additional support against bacterial infection.  

What's more lemons also improve digestion, which encourages better absorption of other vitamins and minerals essential to a strong immune response.  This fresh smelling citrus fruit also helps eliminate the occurrence of kidney and gallstones.  The citrate in lemons prevents calcium from binding to other constituents that lead to the formation of crystals.  When all digestive organs are functioning well, better detoxification happens, which also decreases your risk of infection. 

Ginger, like lemons is a natural antibiotic and a strong antioxidant.  Ginger also provides anti-inflammatory  benefits and shows much promise to those battling various arthritides.  Ginger improves circulation and promotes better respiration which is beneficial to those battling a sinus or upper respiratory infection. Ginger is best known for preventing or lessening the symptoms of nausea but it has also displayed many anti-cancer properties especially for leukemic, skin, kidney, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

Honey and coconut oil not only make these Immuno-melts taste delicious but they too have many anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.  And if you are worried about all the fat calories, worry no more.  Coconut oil is metabolized in the liver which prevents fat storage and increases metabolism.  So you may even loose a few pounds while boosting your immune system.     

If you use garlic in addition to ginger or on it's own it will give these Immuno-melts super-powers.  Yes, garlic is by far one of nature's best disease preventers.  I have added up to 1 finely minced, large clove of garlic per recipe without any noses turning up.  If you are not sure how much garlic you will like, start out with 1/4 teaspoon and go up from there. 

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Quinoa & Tea Breakfast Bowl

For most people breakfast is pretty routine.  While there is an ease to routine, changing things up can give you more variety with flavor and diversity of nutrients. Since breakfast can be pretty predictable at times at our home, I thought I would branch out.
This Quinoa & Tea Breakfast Bowl came to me while I was steeping my nightly tea.  For those who have not cooked with Quinoa,(pronounced KEEN-WHA) it is much like couscous or rice. You use a 2:1 ratio of water to grain for cooking.  Unlike rice, quinoa cooks much quicker (about 15minutes). Quinoa can have a hint of soapy, bitter, saponin remains from the outer shell when it is removed in processing.  Saponins do not affect the nutrient value of the grain, but will affect the taste.  To be sure your quinoa will have nothing but a pure, mild, nutty flavor, give the quinoa a rinse before cooking. The grains are too small for a colander, so rinse the quinoa with water in a small cooking pot. Use the lid to carefully drain off as much water as you can. Only rinse the amount you are cooking.  Store the rest in a cool, dry location like a pantry or freezer.   
What makes this breakfast bowl so great is it allows for lots of versatility, so you can get playful with different teas, spices and fruit. This works especially well with kids. Giving them choices, allows them to take part in their healthy eating habits. 

Quinoa is an excellent breakfast grain.  It contains 6grams of protein per 1/4c serving, which will help you stay satisfied through lunch and will prevent an insulin spike from the naturally occurring complex carbohydrates. Quinoa also contains a variety of bone building minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc, however it’s phytic acid content can inhibit the absorption of these important minerals.  Soaking and then cooking the quinoa, reduces it’s phytic acid content which improves mineral absorption. This grain from the Andes, is also rich in protective antioxidants.  Pair this with the abundant antioxidants in the tea and you have yourself one lean, mean disease fighting breakfast!

The recipe can be made in larger batches and kept in the fridge to be used throughout the week.  Talk about a stress-free start the school year!

2 bags of Chai Tea (or tea of your choice)
1 cup quinoa
2 cup water
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Coconut milk and honey to taste
Place quinoa, water and tea bags in a pot and set to medium until the water starts to boil.  Reduce to low and place a lid on the pot until all the water is absorbed. About 10 minutes.  Remove tea bags by squeezing out any extra liquid.  Fluff quinoa and spoon it into breakfast bowls.  Top the tea-cooked grain with dried fruit and pumpkin seeds.  Drizzle with coconut milk and a little honey.   Enjoy!

Add quinoa to pot and rinse.

Add tea bag(s) and water.

Allow it to cook and spoon into bowls.

I added dried cranberries, dates and pepitas ( pumpkin seed).

Drizzle with coconut milk and honey.


A few other flavor combos you may want to try are:
Green Tea, honey & Raspberries
Cocoa, almonds and bananas
Blueberries, Chamomile & Walnuts

What flavor combo will you come up with?