Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Honey-Coconut Black Rice Pudding October 28, 2012

My little one came down with a cold this weekend, so in addition to digging out the old Atari game system from the basement and finding a deck of cards for something to do with a sick toddler, I wanted to make some comfort food.

My husband and I both grew up occasionally eating tapioca pudding — it’s sweet, creamy, and easy to eat, so it was something I welcomed as a sick child. But this weekend seeing a nutrition label with lots of zeros made my eyes wander away from the tapioca box to other shelves in my pantry until…Aha! There it was: Lots and lots of Thai Black Glutinous (Sticky) Rice waiting to be appreciated. I found a 5 lb bag of this rice at a local Thai grocery store for $6.99 some time ago and it has been sadly neglected in recent months. But no more, because it’s delicious and oh so healthy! Some recipes insist you must soak the rice overnight before cooking, but others do not, so I tried both methods and found the only difference to be the soaked rice cooked in 30 minutes, versus 40 minutes needed without the soaking process. Either way, you do have to rinse this rice several times before cooking, but that only takes a minute. After rinsing, it’s no harder than cooking brown rice, so don’t be intimidated.

If you’re a fan of rice pudding, or looking for an alternative to dairy-laden processed tapioca pudding like I was, this is an awesome pudding that’s suitable for a whole-grain snack, dessert or breakfast. Also, don’t let the prunes turn you away. Seriously, if the thought of dried plums doesn’t appeal, try to recall the last time you ate one, and the last time you had one cooked in a pudding. They’re quite good, and like using dates or raisins, an easy way to sweeten foods naturally so you can skip the refined sugar.

Black rice, just like brown rice, has not been stripped of its bran hull, so it maintains all the nutrients that are lacking in processed white rice, such as fiber (8% daily recommended value), protein (4 grams), B-vitamins (20% Vitamin B-1, 8% Vitamin B-2) and iron (8% daily recommended value), as well as high levels of anthocyanins – an antioxidant found in purple and blue fruits, manganese, magnesium and selenium.

It’s so easy to boost your nutrition simply by replacing processed grains with whole-grains. Children tend to eat much less when not feeling well (and don’t we all), so it makes sense to put extra effort into offering nutritionally dense foods when their little bodies are working so hard to fight an infection. Check out an international foods market in your city, or order some of this amazing rice online.

 Honey-Coconut Black Rice Pudding

1 cup Thai Black Glutinous (sticky) Rice

6 cups water

1/8 t. sea salt

1 cup coconut milk

1 ½ T. honey (or agave for vegan pudding)

4 prunes, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

2 prunes, cut into ½” pieces

1 t. salba or chia seeds (optional)

½ t. ground cinnamon

Dash of salt

Unsweetened shredded coconut, for garnish (such as Bob’s Red Mill)

Using a fine mesh strainer, rinse black rice 3-5 times in cold water, until water is mostly clear. Place in medium saucepan with tight fitting lid with 6 cups water and 1/8 t. salt. Heat to a boil, reduce to a strong simmer, cover and cook 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

Drain excess water, then return cooked rice to pot. Add coconut milk and remaining ingredients, saving shredded coconut for garnish (or add extra if you like the texture and flavor…it is delicious). Cook over low heat 3-5 minutes to desired consistency. The pudding will thicken as it cooks. Serve warm with shredded coconut.

 

DIY Cranberry Almond Granola October 24, 2012

Boxed granola from the grocery store is typically loaded with sugar, and it’s pretty darn expensive when you consider the low cost of oats. With just a few ingredients and 30 minutes, this homemade granola recipe will leave your kitchen smelling of warm cinnamon and toasted almonds and you’ll have a healthy snack to munch on all week. If you’ve never tried making your own granola before, this is a great starter recipe, easily adaptable to whatever nuts, dried fruits or add-ins you’ve got in your pantry. Today it’s also satisfying my sweet tooth because I am completely out of cookies. 😦 I’m not sure how I let that happen, but the granola is actually a great substitute.

Cranberry Almond Granola

2 cups rolled oats

1 t. ground cinnamon

½ t. sea salt

3 T. canola oil

¼ cup + 1 T. honey (or agave for vegan granola)

1 t. vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

2 T. flax meal or whole flax seeds

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In large bowl combine oats, cinnamon and salt. In small bowl combine oil, honey and vanilla extract; pour onto oats and mix well. Add sunflower seeds and cranberries. (Almonds and flax are added later.)

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or very lightly oil pan. Spread granola onto pan evenly, but don’t spread it too thin, and remember clumpy granola is okay.

Bake 10 minutes, then add almonds and flip gently with a spatula. Return to oven, bake additional 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with flax so it will stick to the oats. Allow to cool completely. Store in glass jar or other air-tight container. Yields 3 1/2 cups. Best eaten within 1 week.

 

Buckwheat Flax Crepes & Spiced Raisin Mascarpone (gluten-free) October 20, 2012

I have to thank Andrea Drugay for posting a recipe for Easy Flaxseed Wraps on her blog, which inspired a week-long obsession and several new recipes. The original recipe called for 100% flax, and it’s a delicious wrap, but in order to create a gluten-free crepe that I was happy with for breakfast or dessert, I decided to try using a little buckwheat flour as well. And because I’m always looking to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s diet, I tried first grated carrot, then grated zucchini and settled on the latter for this recipe. The crepes are simple to make, and the mascarpone makes them quite memorable, but it’s totally optional – the crepes are marvelous on their own, or filled with fresh peaches and cottage cheese or just bananas and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy breakfast. No sugar is called for in the crepe batter, but a little pure maple syrup is of course a tasty complement if you’re in the mood for a sweeter treat. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a recipe scaled down to serve 1 person (2 small crepes), and more pictures of some of the many crepes I made this week.

Buckwheat Flax Crepes:

Crepes are gluten-free, sugar free and dairy free if using coconut oil

 

¼ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup flax seed meal

1 t. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. sea salt

2 T. coconut oil, earth balance or butter, melted

4 eggs

½ cup finely grated zucchini (about 1/3 medium zucchini)

2 T. water

Spiced Raisin Mascarpone Cream:

½ cup raisins

¼ t. cinnamon

1 whole clove or a dash of ground cloves

3 T. water

3 T. unsweetened pure apple juice, or water

½ cup mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)

In a small saucepan, combine raisins, cinnamon, clove, water and juice. Bring to a simmer and cook 6-8 minutes, until raisins are plump and liquid has been absorbed. Assemble crepe ingredients while raisins are cooking. Remove from heat, remove and discard clove and let cool.

In medium bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, flax meal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Pour in melted coconut oil or butter, add egg, water and zucchini, and mix well. Preheat a small nonstick pan over medium heat and lightly coat with coconut oil (a couple drops will do). Once pan is hot, pour ¼ cup crepe batter into the pan and quickly tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter over the pan. Crepes should be thin – use just enough batter to cover your pan. Cover the pan and cook approximately 1 ½ – 2 minutes or until the batter has cooked through (no need to flip). Move crepe to a plate, lightly oil your pan again and repeat. Recipe yields 8 crepes.

Once you’ve given the raisin mixture a few minutes to cool (Remember to find and discard the clove!), pulse in a food processor 30 seconds. Move to a small bowl and fold in mascarpone, mixing well.

Serve crepes with the raisin-mascarpone cream, sliced bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or forget the bananas and create a crepe cake, spreading the raisin-mascarpone cream between 4 or more layers of crepes and slice like a cake.

Amounts for 1 serving (makes 2 crepes):

1 T. buckwheat flour

2 T. flax seed meal

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. spice (mix it up depending on your fillings)

Generous pinch of sea salt

½ T. coconut oil, earth balance or butter, melted

1 egg

2 T. finely grated zucchini

1/2 T. water

For Carrot Crepes: substitute finely shredded carrots for the zucchini

For 100% Flax Crepes: replace buckwheat with flax meal (3/4 cup total for full recipe)

 

Slow Down and Savor It: Oatmeal for Autumn October 18, 2012

If oatmeal conjures memories of mushy slop loaded with sugar and tiny dried apple pieces, it’s time you created new associations with this healthy grain. Oatmeal is fabulous, and a recipe like this one should leave the whole family satiated and smiling. Steel cut (Irish) oats are simply chopped oat groats – they are the least processed of all oat products, and they are typically stocked right alongside the old-fashioned and quick oats these days. If not, check the organic section of your grocery store. Seriously, once you try them, you’ll never want to go back to quick/instant oats.

I like to cook half of the apple pieces with the raisins 5 minutes before the oatmeal has finished cooking and add the rest with the sunflower seeds in my bowl for a little crunch. Just 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup is plenty to sweeten the whole batch (in fact, I like it even without) because apples, raisins and cinnamon lend their natural sweetness to the oats. Enjoy the chilly mornings!

Autumn Oatmeal

4 cups water

1 cup steel cut (Irish) oats

Generous pinch of salt

½ cup raisins

1 cup apple, diced into ¼ – ½” pieces (about ½ of a large apple)

½ t. ground cinnamon

2 T. golden flax seeds

½ t. vanilla extract

2 T. pure maple syrup

¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, roasted or raw

Milk or milk substitute (optional) for serving

Place water, oats and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add raisins, ½ of your chopped apples and cinnamon; cook additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, stir in flax seeds, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Place in bowls and top with remaining apples, a generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and a dash of cinnamon. Serve with milk or milk substitute if desired.

Serves 4

What are some of your favorite oatmeal add-ins?

 

Crispy Olive Oil Potato Wedges and The Great Caper October 17, 2012

Crispy Olive Oil Potato Wedges

Inspired by Oh She Glows crispy baked fries, the small amount of cornstarch gives these little potatoes such an awesome crispy texture. Definitely a method worth trying next time you’re in the mood for fries.

6-8 new potatoes

½ t. coarse salt

¼ t. Penzey’s Bavarian spice blend

¼ t. dried thyme

2 t. cornstarch

1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and dry potatoes (peeling is optional). Halve or quarter potatoes. In a sealable container mix salt, spices and cornstarch together. Add potatoes, seal and shake to evenly distribute spices and coat potatoes. Add 1 T. olive oil to container and shake again. Place on a baking sheet spaced 1” apart and bake 15 minutes, then use a spatula to turn, bake additional 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

Serves 3-4

Caper Vinaigrette

The Caper, which is simply a pickled flower bud, is great in any Mediterranean dish, and easy to find in practically every grocery store. Jazz up your next salad with this tasty dressing. I think it’s perfect on a simple salad of greens with tomatoes and feta.

4 T. olive oil

1 green onion, chopped (optional)

1 ½ T. stone ground mustard

1 ½ T. red or white wine vinegar

2-3 T. capers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If you want to use green onion, heat it along with the olive oil in a small saucepan for 2 minutes, until the onions become soft, then remove from heat, add mustard and vinegar and whisk well to combine. Stir in capers and season to taste.

If you’ve opted not to use the green onions, just grab a small bowl and vigorously whisk olive oil, mustard and vinegar together to combine. Stir in capers and season to taste.

Makes enough for 8 salads

 

Maple Pecan Cookies: Wheat vs. Gluten-free Oat October 16, 2012

This weekend I was baking for a small crowd coming to my house for a game of Settlers of Catan, and I wanted to make Maple Pecan Cookies to celebrate my favorite time of year. I already had a tried and true whole wheat recipe that I used a lot last year (before I went gluten-free), so I figured I’d make a batch of the wheat cookies, but also do a little experimenting to get a tasty gluten-free alternative. I made my own oat flour this time for a less refined consistency. To make your own oat flour, place gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor or blender and pulse 30-60 seconds. Here’s a helpful link to making your own flours at home.

The gluten-free oat cookies were a hit, just as tasty as the wheat version, despite the fact that I cut down on the sweetness and added a salba “egg” to help the cookie hold together without xanthan gum or real eggs. So you probably have two questions right now: What the heck is salba? and What exactly is a salba “egg”?

I didn’t know what Salba seeds were until a few months ago when my dad came to Chicago for a visit and brought me a whole bag of Salba seeds to start experimenting with (Thanks Dad – perfect gift!). Salba seeds are like white Chia seeds (that’s right, the same Chia used for “hair” on the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia pet popular in the 1980’s), which it turns out happen to be exceptionally nutritious. Salba seeds are grown under tight regulations in Peru to maintain a consistently high nutritional composition, whereas Chia seeds’ nutritional makeup are frequently diminished because they grow wild in large quantities throughout Mexico, and Central and South America, and are not subject to the same strict regulations. Don’t get me wrong though, both Chia and Salba seeds are very nutritious and, like flax seeds, super easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Read a more extensive comparison of Chia vs. Salba and all the nutritional benefits of both here.

Now to explain the Salba “egg”. At some point while browsing through blogs and recipe sites I read about a Chia egg, made by mixing 2-3 teaspoons chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and allowing the mixture to sit and congeal for about 10 minutes to use as an egg substitute. I’m all about this kind of health food magic, so I jotted the recipe down at the bottom of my notebook as a reminder to try it sometime. Even though my original whole wheat maple cookie recipe didn’t call for an egg, I know that gluten-free flours lead to cookies lacking in structure unless you add something gooey, like banana, or a gum (xanthan), or eggs. No reason to pass up a perfectly good opportunity to add lots of omega-3s, fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, iron and folate, so I tried the Salba egg structure in these cookies, and couldn’t be happier with the result!

I hope you’ll pick up a small bag of Salba or Chia if you come across them in a health food store and try this recipe out for yourself. The cookies are outrageously good, and something you can feel happy about sharing with your family and friends this fall…even the tikes.

More helpful links to recipes using Chia/Salba seed egg substitute:

Andrea Drugay – How to make Chia Egg Replacer

Real Food, Allergy Free

Gluten-free Maple Pecan Oat Cookies

Salba/chia “egg” recipe:

Mix 2 teaspoons Salba with 3 Tablespoons water and allow to sit and congeal at least 10 minutes.

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup maple syrup

½ t. vanilla extract

1 salba or chia egg (recipe above)

1 cup homemade oat flour

¼ t. baking powder

¼ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Make salba/chia egg in a small bowl and allow to sit 10 minutes while assembling and mixing other ingredients. In medium bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla 30 seconds on medium speed. Add salba egg substitute, and mix until you have a smooth consistency (no visible large clumps of butter). Add oat flour, baking powder and salt and mix briefly.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, use about 2 teaspoons of batter to form each cookie. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1” apart and top with pecan halves.

Bake 12-15 minutes. Makes 14 cookies.

Maple Pecan Wheat Cookies

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup white whole wheat flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. sea salt

Pecan halves to place on top of cookie dough

Preheat oven to 375. Using a hand mixer, cream butter, maple syrup and vanilla. Add flours, baking powder and salt and mix well. Using a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop, or two spoons, form round cookies and place 1 1/2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet (these cookies spread a little). Top with pecan halves, pressing slightly into the cookie dough.
Bake 12-13 minutes or until cookies turn a light golden brown. These are delicate when warm so allow to cool on baking sheet 3-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Makes 35 cookies.

 

Toddler Geography Fun – Coffee Regions October 14, 2012

All you need: A world map (I use a laminated one, but this is totally optional), a glue stick, and some coffee beans

Every time we buy a new bag of coffee beans I take Ella over to the coffee map that hangs on the dining room wall and let her place a bean, marking the country where the coffee was grown. If there’s already one there, she will sometimes insist on replacing it with a new one, or we just savor the aroma of the freshly roasted beans we’re holding and talk about the countries and continents that are marked on our map. It’s so much fun decorating maps with a specific focus, and I’ll be decorating another one with seeds or whole spices in the near future. By introducing regions of the world with things Ella can hold, smell and taste, I’m hoping to capitalize on her senses to reinforce the geography lesson.

You might find this strange, but Ella has always been a fan of coffee. It may be because we took her traveling around the country when she was 8 months old and she was exposed to some of the finest coffees roasted around the U.S. (at this point she was only smelling them of course). As we drove through a hot summer and into the fall, and our car’s air conditioner recycled the blissful coffee aroma for seven months, we had only two major goals: to find a new city we’d be happy moving to, and to try as many highly rated U.S. coffee roasters as possible. Because we were living on the road, we’d have the roasters grind our coffee selection for our french press. With every sunrise, Ella and I would stretch out from our cramped sleeping positions in the car (sometimes we’d be lucky enough to have found a place to set up a tent, but frequently it was just too hot to sleep without a/c) to set up our camp stove, boil some spring water and wait to taste our latest find. Road tripping with a baby can be really magical, and I savor the memories of those quiet moments in the dawn’s light when baby Ella and I both marveled and cooed at the world’s beauty while waiting to press the coffee.

By the time Ella was 16 months old she was grabbing coffee bags off store selves to give them a good squeeze under her little nose without any encouragement from us. By 2 years old she was sneaking the last sips left behind in abandoned coffee mugs, and now at 3 she frequently asks for her own cup. Now, even though she likes sipping black coffee, her own cup consists of 80% – 90% milk and totals no more than 4 oz because I’m not about to willingly caffeinate my toddler. I don’t, however, see anything wrong with raising her to have an appreciation of fine coffees, or dark chocolate for that matter.

And in case you’re wondering, the coffee roasters which made it to the top of our list after 7 months of travel are:

#1 Coava Coffee Roasters from Portland, OR

#2 (a tie) Intelligentsia Coffee (for dark roasts) and Meteropolis Coffee Company (for light and medium roasts), both from Chicago, IL

Purely by coincidence, we moved to Chicago, and plan to move to Portland when our Chicago adventures are through.