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Healthy Snacking

I have been thinking about snacks quite a bit lately. From the days of my pregnancies where I seemed to need some food what seemed like hourly, to my current days of trying to find something yummy and healthy that a 2-year old and 9-month old will be excited to munch on, I am always on the lookout for something convenient, portable, low-sugar, high-nutrition, and relatively allergen-free. In the past, common wisdom said that snacking between meals was unhealthy and promoted weight gain. However, healthy snacks can help to balance blood sugar and mood and can promote restful sleep; it also helps the body to use your calories properly and not store them as fat. So, with this in mind, and a bit of inspiration from The Shoshoni Cookbook, I came up with this recipe for a “cookie” that gets the toddler as well as an adult thumbs-up:
Oatmeal Banana Raisin Cookies
Makes about 6 dozen–you can halve this recipe!
2 cups bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs (can substitute 2 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsp warm water if egg sensitive or vegan)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup raisins
Optional: 1/2 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut, sunflower seeds, or chopped walnuts (for added healthy fats and protein)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix banana, oil, eggs, vanilla, and honey in a medium sized bowl. In another bowl, mix oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, and xanthan gum. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then mix in raisins and coconut, seeds, or nuts. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet–they don’t spread much, so you can put them close together on the sheet. bake 14 minutes until lightly browned.

The dairy-free delight of Homemade Almond Milk

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After the holidays, there is often a lot of talk about detoxing, losing weight, reclaiming your health and more. While I don’t really choose to detox or make dramatic changes this time of year, I often find I am looking to lighten up on the amount of sugar, refined flours and dairy that seemed abundant in December.

Eliminating dairy is never an easy task in our home as we love cheese and a splash of creaminess in our morning beverages, on steamy oats or granola. There are certainly a lot of new ‘milks’ on the market including creamy more flavorful options for coconut, almond and soy milks.

During a detox a few years ago, my husband and I started making almond milk. In a pinch during that period, I grabbed a pre-made almond milk container and was shocked at how dramatically better in flavor my homemade option was. There wasn’t a subtle chemical taste in our almost sweet homemade version. The crazy part was it is annoyingly simple to make almond milk. Certainly easier than going out and buying a carton anyways. And even though I have yet to do the math I would say it is cheaper. But, my favorite part is if you buy your nuts in bulk with a reusable bag this is a completely waste free option compared to tossing out all of those milk containers. After my discovery, I was grateful for the new sense of freedom in making my own from scratch. Join me!

Almond Milk (about 4-6 cups)

1/2 cup raw almonds

1-2 dates, optional to add a bit of sweetness

1 splash vanilla or almond extract, optional (if you want to give it an extra spike of flavor, but try it without first)

cheesecloth

Soak the raw almonds overnight or at least 8 hours.

Drain the soaking liquid, rinse the nuts and place the almonds in the blender with about 3 cups of water. Blend away for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth. Strain the almond blend through the cheesecloth (or a nut milk bag, pantyhose, tight sieve, or a thin dishcloth). Dump the almonds back in the blender for more milk, if desired, and blend again with another cup or two of water. Strain the nuts again through the cheesecloth and this time squeeze and push out any access liquid. Nut milk is most delicious immediately but will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Just shake well before using.

Now… it actually gets better, because you have this lovely mash of almond meat leftover. Some folks spread it on a sheet in a dehydrator to make their own almond meal. That is a great option, but when we were making it regularly for our detox I made it the replacement for my oatmeal. I just tossed the almonds into a saucepan with a splash of the almond milk and warmed it until it was just steaming. Fresh fruit, a bit of dried fruit, extra almond milk, a crumble of different nuts & toasted seeds, all contributed to the toppings on this bowl of goodness. My favorite part is that the almonds’ protein levels kept me cruising a few hours longer than my higher-glycemic oatmeal breakfast.

Do not limit yourself to almonds, either! Hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and even a combination of nuts are all good. Seed milks work too and the recipe is the same with pumpkin, hemp, sunflower and sesame seeds all being great choices.

Heidi Swanson just posted about making her nut milks through a juicer… check it out!

Lemon Ginger Cauliflower

Roasting has to be my favorite way to prepare cauliflower. It is so simple. Just a toss of olive oil, salt and pepper and then let it hang out in the oven. Of course, this simple preparation can be dolled up with any medley of flavors from seasoned olive oils to fresh herbs to flavorful vinegars & salts. This combination of lemon and ginger is currently my favorite way to take Roasted Cauliflower from simple to magnificent. Do you have a combination you would like to share?

A microplane will make your life so much easier for this dish, but very finely mincing the lemon peel and fresh ginger will work instead.

1 head of cauliflower

1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ginger, peel and finely mince

lemon

Preheat the oven to 425.

Trim the cauliflower and break into bite size floret pieces. Dollop on the coconut oil and sprinkle with the salt. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Using a microplane, zest the ginger and lemon, toss with a bit of melted coconut or olive oil to make a little sauce that is easier to spread on the cauliflower. When the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, remove and toss with the ginger & lemon zest. Toss.

Return to the oven, tossing every 5-10 minutes until the cauliflower is golden.

Sauteed Chard with Creamy Ginger Sauce

Recipe Corner
Sauteed Chard with Creamy Ginger Sauce

15 minutes to prepare

Ginger Sauce:

Based on a recipe from the Seattle restaurant Silence Heart Nest

1 Tbsp minced frozen ginger root (it’s easier to mince when frozen)

1 tsp chopped celery

½ tsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1½ Tbsp sesame tahini

1/8 tsp white pepper

½ tsp tomato sauce

4 tsp tamari

4 tsp apple cider vinegar

4 tsp water

Blend all ingredients in blender until creamy. Extra sauce will keep at least a week and can also be used as a salad dressing.

Chard:

Assume 1 package of chard for every 2 to 3 people.

1 tsp olive oil

Tamari

Strip leaves from stems. Chop stems into ½ inch pieces, and sauté in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add a few squirts of tamari to soak in while cooking just stems. Chop leaves into 1 inch pieces and add to stems, cooking until all is soft but hasn’t lost its color, about 5 minutes more. After cooking, drizzle ginger sauce over the top, toss and serve.