Orange Cinnamon Granola

Mr. Green Me loves to eat cereal for breakfast in the morning; however, in our Eat from the Pantry Challenge, cereal is not permitted on the grocery list. I may be okay with scavenging from the cupboards for breakfast, but I want to send my husband off to work with a full and happy belly. And so, I last night I invented my own granola recipe, based on ingredients that we have in our pantry. Mr. Green me had two servings for breakfast and proclaimed it Not too sweet, not too complicated, but just right! And, then he went so far as to say it was in his top a contender for best granola ever (the other contender is homemade granola we had at a B&B on our honey moon).

4 Cups Oats*
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, while collecting all of your ingredients. Next toast the oats on a cookie sheet or in a casserole pan in the oven at 350F for about 20 minutes. Stir them every 5 minutes to achieve even browning. Remove oats from oven and pour into a large mixing bowl. Combine peanut butter, canola oil, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and orange extract in a microwave safe bowl and nuke for about 20 seconds until warm, but not bubbling. Pour mixture over toasted oats and stir well to coat. Spread oat mixture back into toasting pan and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Remove pan, flip, stir or toss oats and return pan to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove oats from the oven just as they begin to turn golden brown. Let cool completely (at least an hour) before pouring into a food safe glass container. Leave lid off for 4 to 8 hours (or over night) to prevent moisture condensation and keep the granola nice and crunchy. Add in 1/4 cup dried berries, mix well and the granola is ready to serve!

Colorado Cherry Jam with Pomegranate Juice

Ingredients:

3 to 4 cups Colorado Tart Cherries

1 Cup POM Pomegranate Juice

1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Teaspoons Calcium Water

1 Cup Colorado Honey

2 Teaspoons Pomonas Universal Pectin

Instructions:

  1. Sanitize 6 Jelly Jars (8 oz) and lids in Dishwasher
  2. Heat water bath to boiling
  3. While water bath is heating keep cleaned lids sanitized in simmering water on stove
  4. Puree fruit in food processor or blender
  5. Add calcium water and cinnamon to pureed fruit and stir in Pomegranate Juice
  6. Heat fruit and juice mixture to boiling
  7. Combine pectin with honey and stir well. Add honey pectin mixture to boiling fruit and stir rapidly to combine.
  8. Bring mixture back to boiling and then turn off or remove from burner.
  9. Fill jelly jars to about 1/2 inch from top. Wipe rims clean with sanitized cloth.
  10. Carefully place lids and screw tops on jars, tighten and add to water bath.
  11. Boil jelly in jars for 10 minutes plus 1 minute for every additional 1,000 feet of elevation. This means that on the Colorado plains at approximately 5280 feet of elevation I boil them for 16 minutes.

For more precise or thorough instructions please consult the printed instructions in your packet of Pomonas Universal Pectin. There are several other brands out there, but I prefer Pomonas because it can be used to make low sugar and or fruit only jams and jellys. And, it is a 100% natural product.

Quote directly from the back of my Pomonas box:

POMONAS UNIVERSAL PECTIN makes thick jam and jelly with rich, full flavor undiluted by large amounts of added sugar. Ordinary fruit pectins require your jam or jelly to be 55-85% sugar to set firmly.

POMONAS UNIVERSAL is a low methoxyl type pecticn extracted from citrus peel. Its jelling power is activated by calcium (included), not by sugar content.

I have never used more than 1 cup of sugar or honey with my Pomonas and I usually use less. On several occasions I have used 100% fruit and fruit juice and I have always had excellent results. The process is simple and the instructions are clear enough even for a novice!

Allergy Free Antioxidant Muffins

A few weeks ago I decided to use juice and flax seed to make a fruit based mini-muffin as a snack. We were hosting a play date for a baby sitting co-op that my neighbor is putting together. At the meeting I had guests with allergies to eggs and nuts, as well as, gluten and dairy intolerance. One of the guests may have also had an issue with soy.

To get around all these food issues I made a pumpkin muffin using rice flour and juice for the liquid. The muffin turned out pretty tasty, but it was not quite perfect and so warranted a little adjustment. Most of all I was pleased to discover that juice made a perfect substitution for milk in a muffin recipe and so I was quite thrilled this morning to find a box of POM juice on my front porch.

Earlier this fall Id been contacted by POM to see if Id like to try some of their juice in a few recipes. Ive been a pomegranate lover since I was a little kid and my husband and I were definitely early adopters of POM Pomegranate juice; however, in the last few years since having our son weve sort of fallen off the band wagon.

One issue with being gluten free or dairy free or really anything free is that folks who eat these diets are more prone to nutritional deficiencies due to limited food groups. Dairy free folks tend not to get enough calcium and vitamin D.  Gluten free folks can easily miss out on fiber and other nutrients found in wheat, rye and or barley. And, so not only is it fun to make a muffin focusing on increasing antioxidants and other nutrients, but it is also smart!

And so, with a box of POM juice in my kitchen I was inspired to make an antioxidant muffin. Pomegranate juice has been all the rage for the last few years not only due to taste and its rich color, but because the fruit is packed with more antioxidants than your average fruit or berry. To make this muffin I decided to combine the antioxidant power of the POM with some organic cocoa powder rich in polyphenols and some flax seed meal to add both fiber and lignans, which are yet another antioxidant powerhouse.

You will also notice that I used raw Agave and cinnamon. Some people like agave, some don’t. If you are in the anti-agave camp feel free to substitute an equivalent amount of honey for similar results. I’ve found that adding cinnamon to recipes with either chocolate or fruit rounds out the flavor. Furthermore, studies show that cinnamon may help reduce both blood glucose and cholesterol. These are not health issues for my immediate family, but they are for much of the population, so whether or not you choose to use agave, I do insist that you make these muffins with cinnamon!

Sift Together Dry Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix (I used Bobs Redmill)

1/4 tapioca flour

1/4 cup finely ground flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1.5 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Add 1/2 cup mixed dried berries after sifting and stir to coat berries with flour.

Mix together Wet Ingredients separately:

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup Raw agave

3/4 cup POM Pomegranate Juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry with wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Lightly oil mini-muffin pan (makes 24) or line regular muffin tin with liners. Spoon batter into tin until just below the top of the tin – do not over fill. Bake mini muffins for about 18 minutes and regular sized muffins for about 22 minutes. Muffins should rise gently and be springy to the touch when finished baking. Remove from oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes gently remove from tin and cool on rack for another 10 to 20 minutes.

Serve immediately or eat within 24 hours. Freeze any muffins that are not consumed in 24 hours. Gluten free baked goods tend to taste better when frozen and reheated rather than being left out.

Substitutions:

  • You can easily substitute the gluten free flour mix with a regular whole wheat flour. If you do so, omit the tapioca flour and reduce the baking powder to 3/4 tsp.
  • You may substitute the ener-g egg replacer for one real egg. Add the egg to the wet ingredients and reduce the canola oil by 1 tablespoon.
  • You may could also increase the flax meal by one tablespoon and eliminate the egg replacer with no additional alternations.
  • If you do not have POM juice on hand you could use another juice; however, if you are looking for pomegranate juice read the labels carefully. In my own research Ive not been able to find another pomegranate juice that is 100% Pomegranate they all seem to be diluted with grape juice or other fruit juices. Also, POM juice is made from 100% California Pomegranates, which is important if you are concerned about clearing of forests elsewhere to grow pomegranate trees.

Nutritional Info for 2 Mini Muffins or 1 regular muffin (recipe makes 24 or 12): 180 calories; 7 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams protein; 3 grams fiber.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog did receive complementary POM Pomegranate Juice from POM; however, I have no other agreement with nor have I received compensation from POM other than to use the juice in recipes. I readily agreed to this offer as I am continually looking for healthy and tasty ways to mix up and inspire our everyday foods! Please feel free to add questions or comments below and I will respond as best I can!

Easy Rolled Arrowroot Meringues (Gluten Dairy Free)

Yesterday I had a friend visiting for tea who is allergic to corn. I wanted to make a snack that was guaranteed to be corn free with a hint of Christmas. At first I was dismayed to learn that all I happened to have left in my pantry was a package of arrowroot flour! I made a quick Google search for arrowroot flour recipes and came upon these tasty little cookies!

They were quick to make, easy to roll and are quite pleasing to eat! The big surprise is that they are very light and delicate with a crunch. Much more like a meringue than a traditional sugar cookie. The flavor was lightly sweet with a hint of almond and I will definitely make (and eat) them again.

I made some adjustments to the recipe to make them 100% corn and dairy free, as well as, gluten free.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups arrowroot flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 oz +/- plain soy milk

Per the instructions at the Perfect Pantry I first sifted the flour and sugar together. I then beat the egg and canola oil together with the almond extract. Next I added in 2 oz of the soy milk. While stirring I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, slowly adding additional soy milk until everything was just barely combined. I then commenced kneading the dough. At first I was skeptical that it would become pliable, but all of a sudden it was almost too pliable. I turned the dough on my silicon mat and sifted about a teaspoon of arrowroot flour on the dough, which I then kneading back in. I had to do this a few times until I had a soft, but workable dough that was easy to roll out and perfect for cut cookies! Next time I make them I will use coconut milk (or cream), but it is good to know that the recipe worked just perfectly with a substitute!

editors note: These cookies also make good cat treats. When we returned from an outing to the park several were broken and one was on the floor. I figured my toddler must have gotten at them when I was putting on my shoes, but later in the afternoon I caught my cat eating one! Needless to say the remaining cookies are now in the cookie jar!

Gluten and Dairy Free Brownie Bites

On Saturday night we attended the annual holiday party for my husbands office. For the past few years the party has been held at the lovely home of one of his co-workers and the finger food style dinner has been catered by Whole Foods. The food is generally very good, but not friendly to a gluten or dairy free palate.

Rather than feeling sorry for myself I decided to whip up a few Whole Foods inspired dishes to complement the standard party fair. First I baked a loaf of Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. I’ve made this twice and followed the recipe precisely, except that I do not add xantham gum or walnuts. It makes an excellent bread, especially when served warm.

And, second I made Brownie Bites. If you have not had the opportunity to try the Whole Foods Bakery Brownie bites you are missing out. They are dense, moist, chocolate, and irresistible in the fashion of a potato chip. You can never eat just one. Sadly however, they are made with flour and not gluten free, and so I had to create my own recipe to satisfy the craving. They were a hit to say the least!

Gluten & Dairy Free Brownie Bites

3 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ tsp orange extract

3 oz dairy free dark Bittersweet or Unsweetened Bakers chocolate
8 oz dairy free chocolate chips
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

1/3 cup rice flour
¼ cup arrowroot flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease a mini muffin pan (makes 24)
  3. Beat eggs and blend well with sugars, vanilla extract and orange extract
  4. In a double boiler or stove top pan on low, slowly melt the chocolate and the buttery sticks together. Stir until smooth and then slowly add to egg/sugar mixture.
  5. Sift together the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and xantham gum. Add to wet mixture and stir well.
  6. Spoon batter into mini-muffin tins (makes 24 bites) or spread in 99 non-stick pan and bake for 18 to 22 minutes.

I apologize for the lack of photos, but the brownie bites did not stick around long enough for a photo shoot!

Cashew Sugar Cookies

After a not-so-successful attempt at gluten free gingerbread cookies last week a little voice in the back of my head has been begging for delicious holiday cookies. Cookies may be super easy to eat, but they are also one of the most complicated items to bake. Add gluten free and dairy free to the mix and things get even more complicated.

In November I had great success baking both an almond flour and a hazelnut flour tort, so I thought Id go check out Elanas Pantry for a sugar cookie recipe. I found this one for Pecan Shortbread Cookies, which looked perfect, until I realized that Id used up all but 1/2 cup of my almonds earlier in the week. Upon further inspection I realized that I have a ton of cashews that my son has been refusing to eat because they’ve lost the flavor of sweet fresh cashews and are now a bit stale. Elana lives in Boulder (we are thus at the same altitude) and her recipes are quite popular, so I figured that Id have a better chance of success at mixing and matching to make a new recipe for Cashew Sugar Cookies.

Dry Ingredients (mix well):

2 cups Cashew flour (I used raw cashews, ground fine)

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup white sugar

Melt Buttery stick and stir in the following ingredients:

1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick Melted (1/2 cup)

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla (Costco brand)

1/2 tsp real almond extract

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Once both wet and dry ingredients were mixed well I poured the wet into the dry and mixed the dough thoroughly with a spatula. I then scraped the dough into a sheet of wax paper and rolled it up per Elana’s instructions. After an hour in the freezer I removed the cookies and sliced them about 1/4 inch thick. I next laid them out on a cookie sheet (Id separate by at least an inch). To add a festive holiday look, brush each cookie top lightly with water and sprinkle decorative sugar on top! Promptly bake at 375F for about 8 minutes or until the edge of the cookies just start to turn golden.

I used a honey/sugar mixture rather than Agave, because I am also out of Agave. I was a bit skeptical that the recipe only need 1/4 tsp of baking powder, but Ive never actually made short bread before, so I went with her recommendation and it worked. I left out the chopped pecans, because I was hoping for a more sugar cookie texture. Cashews are already sort of buttery in nature and I think the combination worked just fine. Next time I might try macadamia nut flour for an even creamier flavor!

Conclusion: Flavor is very good, but crumb is a little large. Next time I think Ill go for more finely ground flour. The cookies are also a tad crumbly, but not so much that it bothered me. My assistant 100% approved and promptly ate two!

Homemade Yogurt (vegan yogurt too!)

We’ve made many changes in our home over the past few years to reduce our consumption of plastic and make things from scratch. And yet, we’ve continued to bring single serve yogurt containers into our home on a weekly basis. We are able to recycle them, but that only reduces the waste created by this tasty habit.

Folks have told me I need to buy a yogurt maker, but I am hesitant to own single use appliances (outside of the coffee maker). I don’t own a bread machine nor do I own a yogurt maker. However, I do own a crock pot, so imagine my glee when I came a across a thread on the Mary Jane Farm message board regarding making your own yogurt and then a few folks suggesting a particular simple recipe for crock pot yogurt. I was literally jumping for joy!

Now as you all know I am lactose intolerant, so I generally do not join in the yogurt eating fun at our house, except when I decide to indulge in a non dairy yogurt. These days there are a variety of non dairy yogurts, but none of them are really up to the job or for daily consumption: soy yogurt (not satisfying), a rice yogurt (spendy and weird flavor), or the newer coconut yogurt (tasty, but SPENDY).

So, I decided to try the crock pot recipe with coconut milk for a nice vegan yogurt that is also dairy, casein and lactose free! Start up costs were not cheap with cans of organic coconut milk at $1.99 each (needed 5) and a starter coconut yogurt at $1.59. This made about 10 servings of yogurt for $1.15 each, which is still more expensive than your average soy or regular dairy yogurt, but much cheaper than the $2.59 coconut yogurt sold at Whole Foods ($1.59 at my local health food store). Now I have my own starter and just need to find a more affordable source of coconut milk if I didnt use organic for example, I could further reduce costs!

The important question however is: how did the yogurt turn out? Excellent! The flavor is delicious and only very mildly coconut. The texture is smooth and creamy. The consistency is thick, although more like yoplait than some of the almost jello style yogurts. I also used a table spoon of arrowroot powder in my cooking process in hopes that it would help thicken things up and although I dont know if that helped; perhaps next time I will use two tablespoons and see if I can get it a bit thicker. Nevertheless, my experiment was a success!

And, now that I know that I can make yogurt in a crockpot, I can also start to make some at home for my son and maybe even talk the husband into taking it in his lunch to work!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies and my very first Apron!

Today I finally finished the apron that I started sewing back in February. Over the winter months a few girlfriends and I thought it would be fun to have sewing parties to learn from each other while sewing the same creation. In theory it was a great idea and both get togethers were fun; however, coordinating schedules for 4 gals and as many children and husbands is more complicated that it sounds! The fabric I picked out is very spring like (IMHO) and so I wanted my apron finished. This is the first real item I’ve sewn in over 10 years and it is very satisfying to be finished!

The apron was from a pattern I found through the Farmers Daughter and is reversible. I didn’t wash my hair today (haha) so no modeling, but you can still see how cute the apron is from these pictures! I love having an apron that is so me!

I’ve also been having a sweet tooth of late (I haven’t baked cupcakes since April 1st) and so I made some chocolate chip cookies. My recipe was experimental, but they turned out PERFECT. Moist with a little crunch they hold their own and don’t crumble! Not too sweet not too plain, just plain yummy!

Cream together (I used a fork):

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (room temp)

– 1/2 cup macadamia nut butter

– 3/4 cup sugar

– 1/4 finely ground flax seed

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a separate bowl mix together:

– 1 cup oats

– 1 cup whole wheat flour

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1 tsp baking powder

– 1 bag vegan* chocolate chips

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well. Drop spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheet and bake (I used my 2 tbsp coffee scoop). Should make about 32 cookies. Bake at 375F for about 8 minutes until just starting to brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray. Ive found with vegan baking that it is REALLY super important to cool cookies for the full 10 minutes before trying to move them as they are more likely to crumble if they don’t have time to set.

* I used Sunspire vegan chocolate chips and this recipe is loosely based off of the recipe on their bag, which is probably why it worked so well!

VeganDads Creamy Mac and Cheeze

Earier this week I came across a blog that really caught both my eye and my tastebuds! On Tuesday I was looking to make use of tofu, quinoa and sweet potatoes (In the name of Foodwaste Reduction), so I tossed the ingredients into Google and came up with this recipe for Cajun Quinoa.  Last night I made the Mac and Cheeze. Now over the years I have tried several mac and cheese recipes sans cheese and never found one that Id willingly make again. This time around I am super happy to have leftovers and this meal will definitely earn a place in our meal rotation!

I did make a few adjustments to the recipe as I used oat milk instead of soy (we try to only eat minimally processed soy products: tofu, miso, etc.) and no sunflower seeds, because we think Baby Green Me is mildly allergic to them. I also baked the recipe with some bread crumbs and vegan rella on top, as Vegan Dad said he thought this might be good, but hed not yet tried it baked. I love baked mac and cheese and had never myself baked any variety before and it was a definite winner.

What makes it a winner? Creamy rich flavor and both Daddy and Baby Green Me chowed down (both the quinoa and the Mac and Cheeze). I even used some of the Cheeze sauce for a veggie dip to hold Baby Green Me at bay while I was making dinner. I also love the variety of nutrients from proteins to good fats found in this Mac and Cheeze compared to your average mac and cheese recipe. To round out our meal we also had some ancient shitake mushrooms from the fridge (rehydrate in a cup of almost boiling water for about 20 minutes) sauteed with baby bok choy and a nice cool(and local) Dales Pale Ale from our storage room/beer/wine cellar.

On a side note, I think one of the things I love about Vegan Dads recipes is that he seems to put paprika in everything, which is something I never do, but that my grandmother has always claimed is her trick to delicious food. Whenever someone asks her why a particular meal is so good, her standard reply is oh, I tossed some paprika in!

I think that the next recipe I am going to try is the one for Ruben Sandwiches. I absolutely adore a good ruben and about ten or twelve years ago there used to be a vegetarian restaurant in Boulder that made a delectable one, but I havent had another since then!

Any who, I have added VeganDad to my RSS feed and if you are looking for lots and lots fo wonderful green and or vegan eating ideas you should too!

Moist, chewy and vegan Corn Bread

One of my favorite meals growing up was chili and corn bread. This was a meal often prepared by my father. My mom did most of the cooking, so I think his foray into the kitchen made it extra special. To make a perfect cornbread my Dad always used the recipe on the side of the Quaker Yellow Cornmeal can. The bread always turned out golden, a little bit chewy and slightly moist.

Despite the fact that my mom is the expert chef in my parents household, the only food that she did not make better than my dad was corn bread. My moms corn bread just never tasted as good. In high school I discovered that the secret was sugar. My dad put in 1/4 cup (according to the recipe on the can). My mom omits the sugar in the name of good health (and because she doesnt think that cornbread needs to be sweet).

In principle I agree with my mom, but in actuality I agree with my dad. I prefer my cornbread lightly sweet. And now, I have a healthy solution! This morning I put a pot of chili on the stove to cook, while also cooking down some old apples into apple sauce. While trying to decide what to do with my apple sauce I decided to make cornbread, at which time I realized that we are again short on eggs. Id just got back from an errand run and had already been to the store. Bummer? Not exactly!

I decided to try a vegan cornbread and the results are just about perfect. My only complaint is that the bread is light brown rather than a golden yellow, but when it comes to taste it is just right! Since I didn’t have a can of Dads corn meal on hand, I consulted the Joy of Cooking for my recipe guidelines. And, thanks to JOC I learned that my Dad makes Northern cornbread, which calls for 1 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, while my mom makes Southern Corn Bread, which says 1 tablespoon sugar (optional).

I like to be in the middle, so I still used 1 tablespoon of sugar, but most of the sweetness and moisture in my bread likely comes from the cornbread!

Preheat oven to 400F & grease a round (or square) 9 inch pan.

Sift together the dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix in a separate bowl:

  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir well, but not too much. Poor thick batter into pan even out the batter and bake for about 25 minutes. If you wish to try this recipe you could use a milk substitute instead of water, but do not eliminate the flax meal as that is what holds it all together and takes the place of the eggs!

Now I am off to enjoy a warm piece of cornbread with some Earth Balance Spread and a little Colorado Honey. Yum Yum!