Smoothies!

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One of my favorite breakfast foods… or drinks (I guess it depends on the thickness) that really make a complete meal!

Some tasty and nutritious ingredients in one of our favorite breakfast smoothies include antioxidant-rich berries and greens, fiber and omega 3 filled flax, coconut cream for good metabolism boosting fats, and don’t forget the kefir which is full of probiotics! Thicken it up with chia seeds that add protein. And if you feel you need to sweeten it up a little, just add a tsp of unpasteurized honey. I also often soak a handful of almonds over night with sea salt, rinse in the morning, and blend with water before adding other ingredients to my smoothie (soaking raw nuts allows us to absorb more nutrition).

Super Smoothie Recipe:

-1/3 c coconut cream/milk (love super thick Trader Joe’s coconut cream), or soaked almonds
-1/4 c kefir* or plain yoghurt (organic, 3.5% or higher MF is best)
-approx 1 c frozen berries
-handful of frozen kale leaves
-1 frozen banana
-up to a Tbsp each of chia and flax seeds*
-water to thin

*Kefir is this amazing superfood that has been made for centuries from kefir “grains” and milk. The milk ferments into a yoghurt type liquid that is full of probiotics, and the kefir grains grow so you can keep making more! It is the most tolerated dairy product by people with milk sensitivities.
*Flax seeds can be purchased whole and ground in a clean coffee grinder or blender with single blade attachment. You can also buy ground flax. Once ground, flax should be refrigerated as it quickly becomes rancid.
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Scrumptious Soaked Oatmeal

This tasty oatmeal makes a creamy filling breakfast that is ready in no time! A few simple steps the night before to soak the oatmeal I’ve found are worth the effort.

Soaking is an important step when whole grains are regularly consumed, and a method our ancestors used to process their grains keeping grains a nutritious part of their diet. The soaking process removes phytic acid, something that can actually prevent our bodies from absorbing important nutrients such as B vitamins. Soaking also makes our digestive systems happier! A couple posts with more information that I’ve found helpful include http://nourishedkitchen.com/soaking-grains-nuts-legumes/ and thenourishinghome.com with thorough information on soaking grains.

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Soaked Oatmeal Recipe:
from thenourishinghome.com

Soaking Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats (not quick cook)
1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar (or fresh-squeezed lemon juice)
1 tbsp rolled rye flakes or flour
Pinch of sea salt

Soaking Instructions:
1. Place above ingredients into a glass bowl (I use my 4 c glass measuring cup). Add enough warm filtered water to completely cover the mixture by 1-2 inches. Mix well to combine.
2. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm area of your kitchen for 12-24 hours.

Cooking Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup plain almond milk, goat, organic whole milk or filtered water
1/3 cup your favorite dried fruit (raisins, chopped apricots, cranberries and or blueberries – optional)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp pure organic maple syrup or honey to taste

Cooking Instructions:
3. Once soaking time is completed, drain oat mixture in a fine-mesh strainer and gently rinse.
4. Add drained oat mixture to a small saucepan. Add milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down heat (add dried fruit and cinnamon if desired… I personally like to leave plain, and top my serving with chopped, dried un-sulphured apricots). Stir frequently and continue to simmer another couple of minutes or so, until oatmeal is cooked to desired consistency (approx 15 minutes). Enjoy!

Orange Cranberry Muffins

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Good morning and welcome Spring! Being greeted by the sunshine this morning was so nice after the cold but beautiful snow we’ve had late into the Winter this year.

These muffins we made for breakfast have a nice zing and sugar crystals on top to sweeten your taste buds! I made some without cranberries and added raisins to please my four year old which were also good (but definitely try the cranberries!).

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Orange Cranberry Muffins

2 cups flour (I used whole spelt flour although all-purpose is fine too)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c cup cane or coconut sugar
1/4 c maple syrup or honey
2 large eggs, at room temperature (or flax eggs)
1 cup pureed cooked carrots or yam
Zest of 1 orange
heaping cup of cranberries (frozen is fine)
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-portion 1/2-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger together.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter on medium speed until lightened. With the speed on low, slowly add the sugar. Increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula. Add the carrot puree and orange zest and beat until well combined. With the mixer set on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined; do not over-beat. Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a rubber spatula, gently fold the cranberries into the batter until evenly distributed (or just push them into each muffin like I did to evenly distribute them).

Evenly divide the batter among the lined muffin cups and sprinkle a little sugar over the top of each. Bake in the center of the oven until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins form the pan and transfer to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

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Crispy Rice Treats

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As we were a little under the weather on Valentine’s day (I also found out we’re expecting baby #3!, so being sick wasn’t all bad) I made this a little after the fact but we enjoyed then all the same. Ethan says to me, “Hearts mean wuv.” Well I love you, my son! He then brought some to share going to his best buddy’s house while Mommy went for her first ultrasound (what a tiny precious baby just over 9 weeks!)… My boys loved these, we all enjoyed the peanut butter version, though you can also use crunchy almond butter or your nut butter of choice. Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats
from ohsheglows.com
Yield: 12 squares

Ingredients:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup*
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
3.5 cups Nature’s Path GF Rice Crisp Cereal
Chocolate drizzle: 1/4-1/2 cup carob or chocolate chips, 1 tbsp nut butter, pinch salt
Shredded coconut, to garnish

Directions:

1. Prepare an 8 inch by 8 inch square pan, by lining it with parchment paper on both sides.

2. In a large pot over low-medium heat, add the brown rice syrup, Earth Balance, almond butter, and salt. Stir well until combined and heated through. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

3.. Stir in 3.5 cups of rice crisp cereal until thoroughly combined.

4. Scoop into pan and spread evenly. Press down with fingers or roll flat with pastry roller. Place in freezer to set for 5 minutes while you make the chocolate glaze.

5. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips. Microwave for about 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn. Stir in the almond butter and pinch of salt.

6. Remove pan from freezer and drizzle or spread with melted chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with coconut and place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Slice into squares (or cut with a simple shaped cookie cutter like we did). Bars will hold their shape quite well at room temperature, but you can store in the fridge to ensure the chocolate stays solid.

Notes: 1) You can use any nut butter you like. If you use a smooth variety, you can add some chopped nuts for more crunch. 2) Brown rice syrup is used in this recipe because it is a great binder and it holds together these treats. If you use another liquid sweetener, I can’t guarantee that they will hold together as well.

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Rice and Peanut Sauce

I’ll often make a Nasi Goreng type dish and top it with this tasty peanut sauce and a little cilantro to garnish, making a simple and flavorful Indonesian dish that is quite economical (and makes my rice-loving hubby happy). The rice dish can be make with or without the sauce, and to save time I will usually omit the ginger, garlic and extra seasonings to the vegetable rice dish if using the peanut sauce.

Rice Dish:
1-2 c uncooked rice
1/2 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 small onion
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 medium green cabbage, chopped
1/2 c green peas, defrosted
squirt of lime juice (about 1/2 tsp)
dash of Tamari (or soy sauce)
1-3 tsp sambal oelek (optional, adds some heat)
Peanut Sauce:
1 c coconut milk
3/4 c natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp soy sauce (we use Tamari)
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
a dash to 1/2 tsp chili flakes (depending on heat preference)
water to thin

Cook rice as directed (I like to use brown rice, soaking it the day before). Cook beef and set aside. Heat large pot and add coconut oil. Saute onions until clear and add other veggies (the cabbage, peas and peppers take the least amount of time), covering until softened, stirring often. Add in seasonings. Fold in rice and beef into the vegetables just enough to combine.
For Sauce:
Heat coconut milk and peanut butter on medium temperature until well combined and heated through. Add other seasonings, stirring at med-low heat. If it’s quite thick, add a couple Tbsp of water to make it a consistency to pour sauce off of a spoon. Turn down heat and serve over rice.

(Vegan) Ultra Fudgy Brownies

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I was so excited to try this fudgy yet nutritious brownie recipe, and it didn’t disappoint. I did find it quite sweet so I cut back on the sugar by a few tablespoons after the first time making it (I left the following recipe with the original amount of sugar though). I added in the melted butter knowing it would make it a bit richer (which will make it non-vegan though obviously). For a creamy topping dolloped on top, I’ve also whipped some coconut cream and whipping cream together, and mixed in some powdered cane sugar and a dash of cocoa. In the end it makes a crowd pleasing dessert!

Ultra Fudgy Brownie Recipe
adapted from Angela Liddon’s Ultra Fudgy Brownies

1 small avocado
1 cup sucanat (raw cane sugar), coconut sugar would probably be great too
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 Tbsp butter (optional)
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp organic dark roasted coffee (optional)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8” pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, gently smash the avocado with a fork to break apart. Using a hand mixer, process the avocado until smooth. Add the Sucanat, maple syrup, oil, chia, vanilla extract, and coffee and mix until smooth. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the spelt flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low or stir by hand until just mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Dump the mixture onto the baking pan. Dip your spatula in cold water and smooth out. The batter will be VERY THICK, so it may be easier to just get your hands wet with cold water and smooth it out. Once smooth, place in oven and cook for 20-23 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes. Pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes to set and firm. Remove from pan and slice. Serves 9-12.

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Cheesy Comfort Food

When we make this we call it Mac’n cheese and mix it in with brown rice noodles – my boys’ lunchtime favorite. And it can be made without any cow dairy for those with this food sensitivity! I often use nutritional yeast for a non-dairy extra cheesy flavor, and for the excellent source of vitamin B.

Mac’n Cheese Recipe:
1 package of brown rice elbows or penne (I like Trader Joe’s)
2 Tbsp organic butter or ghee
1 Tbsp flour
3/4 c whole milk (goat or almond milk work for those with dairy sensitivities)
1 1/2 c cheese (I usually do a mixture of grated, grass-fed white sharp chedder and soft goat cheese)
1 Tbsp (or more) nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste
dash of basil, crushed garlic clove, or a can of sockeye salmon are also nice additions

Fill large pot with water and a dash of salt, and bring to rapid boil. Add noodles and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 8-10 minute or until soft.

Melt butter, and whisk in flour until lumps are gone. At medium-low heat, slowly stir in a little milk at a time. Add cheese and stir as it melts. Mix in nutritional yeast. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over drained noodles and mix to combine.