Raised from Scratch

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

New Orleans Granola with Roasted Chicory February 4, 2013

granola inside jar

close up single pecan

In America, chicory is not widely known or utilized in the kitchen, its primary use being a coffee additive. Chicory is a perennial tap root, similar to the dandelion, with stems that grow up to 3 feet in height. The leaves can be used in salads, and roots harvested while young and tender can be cooked like carrots or parsnips for vegetable dishes. To create the ground chicory Café Du Monde familiarized me with years ago, the cultivated root is sliced, dried and roasted before being ground. Adding it to coffee produces a darker, drier, more economical cup of joe. Though multiple trips to New Orleans’ Café Du Monde cultivated a nostalgic appreciation for the chicory used in their Café au Lait, I’m more of a coffee purist myself.

I didn’t sip my way through America’s finest small coffee roasters just to blend my favorite single origin finds with chicory, but I did acquire a small box of ground chicory as a gift at one time and it has been sitting neglected in my pantry. But I love how this granola turned out, and everyone I’ve shared it with wants more, so it’s time to share. Now I can reminisce about New Orleans at breakfast while keeping my Metropolis Coffee unadulterated.

Still curious about chicory root?

Sweet Maria’s coffee cupping reviews, where you can find freshly roasted imported chicory for $5/lb instead of the canned/boxed stuff that’s been sitting on your grocer’s shelf for who knows how long.

Botanical.com will tell you all about the plant’s history and uses.

 New Orleans Chicory Granola with Toasted Pecans

2 1/3 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup honey

2 Tablespoons molasses

¼ cup unsalted butter

2 teaspoons finely ground chicory root

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place oats in a medium mixing bowl. Heat butter, honey and molasses in a small saucepan until melted and simmering, then immediately pour over oats. Add chicory, salt and pecans and stir until thoroughly combined.

Pour mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Allow to cool on sheet pan without stirring if you like some clumps in your granola.

After cooling, store in air-tight container for one week.

Recipe adapted from “Coffee Roasted Carrots with Chicory Granola” at splendidtable.org

Homemade Yogurt – it’s easier than you think!

We go through a lot of yogurt in our house, and prefer plain, organic whole milk yogurt (Stonyfield brand was my preferred choice before I began making my own), which gets expensive. A quart of Stonyfield costs me $4.99 at my local grocer, while organic whole milk costs $3.69 for a half gallon (yielding 2 quarts of yogurt). That’s a savings of $6.29.

I didn’t believe making yogurt would be quite so simple, but if you’re a yogurt lover, give it a try and you’ll probably be as pleasantly surprised as I was. My homemade yogurt tastes sweeter and less acidic than store-bought.

Here’s a wonderful step-by-step guide with illustrations which I used to get started. Expect to spend 20-30 minutes in your kitchen, then 7-8 hours of allowing your yogurt mixture to sit and cultivate before chilling.

How To Make Yogurt Step-by-Step Guide

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Granola Bar Pie…or Oatmeal Pecan Breakfast Bars November 6, 2012

Sometimes what you name your food determines your child’s excitement level, and this was certainly true this morning when I poured the breakfast bar batter into a pie pan and dubbed this the Granola Bar Pie. Try getting creative with food terminology and see how your toddler responds.

The bars (or pie wedges) are very portable once cool, maintaining enough moisture to not crumble in the car on the way to preschool. My kid has always been a night owl, and getting her up and ready to leave the house by 8:30 twice a week is damn difficult sometimes. THE most time consuming part of our morning is always breakfast because Ella loves to eat, and she likes to take her time doing it. No kidding, a small bowl of yogurt takes 30 minutes to consume sometimes. I’m completely thrilled that she’s a good eater and want to avoid rushing her meals or making them a source of stress at all costs. Keeping a portable breakfast food around, and remembering it’s okay to brush her teeth in the car (it’s not like the toothpaste I give her is harmful if swallowed, so why not?) is really helpful. She thinks brushing her teeth in the car is hilariously silly and likes that her car seat can occasionally be the dentist chair as well.

 Granola Bar Pie/Oatmeal Pecan Breakfast Bars

vegan and gluten free, contains no refined sugar

1  1/4 cup oats

1/2 cup ground pecans

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 t. ground ginger

1  1/2 t. ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

1/4  t. sea salt

1 T. flax meal (ground flax seeds)

1/2 T. salba or chia seeds

1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

1/2 T. vanilla extract

1 T. maple syrup

2 frozen bananas, thawed, mashed

1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F. Allow frozen bananas to thaw in a bowl on the stove (especially if your oven exhaust fan pushes all the hot air onto your stove-top like mine does), or place in the oven for a few minutes as it starts to preheat, or thaw in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and thawed bananas, mix well. Stir in raisins. Butter a pie pan (or use coconut oil) and pour batter into pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes until firm. Allow to cool 5 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges.

Inspired by: Banana Raisin Oatmeal Bars from Quinoa, Kale & Exhale

 

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.

 

Gluten-Free Cocoa Molasses Zucchini Bread October 9, 2012

I guess I was on a roll with chocolate vegetables this past week because after creating the Chocolate Kale Smoothie I was in the mood for chocolate zucchini bread. As usual, I was striving to make a snack bread that I could give to my 3 year old whenever she asked for it, which wouldn’t be the case with most of the recipes out there loaded with sugar and chocolate chips. Don’t get me wrong – I like those decadent recipes, but there’s no reason to train our kids’ taste buds (or our own) to expect a sugar high every time they reach for a slice of bread. Molasses, along with some unsweetened applesauce, provides the sweetness for this tasty, moist alternative to the sugar high. Try it for another way to get more vegetables into your family’s diet while giving them a healthy treat. If you want to serve it for dessert, I recommend adding ½ cup dark chocolate chips on top before baking.

I make my baked goods gluten-free because that’s what I eat these days, but I include versions using wheat flours because I know most people don’t have gluten-free flours on hand, and that shouldn’t stop you from trying a delicious recipe.

Gluten-Free Cocoa Zucchini Bread  (wheat version in parentheses)

1 c. oat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

½ cup sorghum flour (or all-purpose flour)

3 T. unsweetened cocoa, sifted

2 t. baking powder

¼ t. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (+ 2 T. to top batter)

½ cup unsweetened organic applesauce

1/3 cup oil –  olive, coconut, or canola

1 t. vanilla extract

4 T. molasses

1 large egg

2 cups shredded zucchini (1 medium)

Butter 8 x 8” pan and preheat oven to 350°.

In large bowl combine all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add applesauce, oil, vanilla, molasses and egg, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Fold in zucchini with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and smooth with spatula. Sprinkle reserved pecans if you like (I sprinkled some on half since Ella isn’t crazy about too many nuts in her food).

Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick test is clean. Let cool before slicing.

Makes 16 pieces

 

Healthy Addictions: Chocolate Kale Smoothies October 4, 2012

Did you know that kale and chocolate both rank in the top 5 most nutrient dense foods on the planet? Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, and more calcium than milk, it’s high in vitamin A (300% daily recommended value), C (89% daily value) and K (1,000% daily value), anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, is believed to help lower cholesterol, help with detoxification, and contains 10% of the recommended daily omega-3 intake.

Read more about this awesome green here and here.

So kale keeps you healthy, and chocolate, naturally, makes you fall in love. Chocolate raises serotonin levels, provides magnesium, improves blood flow, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Just don’t mix your dark chocolate with regular cow’s milk because it negates the antioxidant benefits. I use almond milk in the smoothie for this reason and for taste, and haven’t read anywhere that almonds inhibit the absorption of chocolate’s nutrients.

I created this recipe because my 3 year old loves dark chocolate but is not likely to chow down on a full serving of kale if served for dinner, so a smoothie felt like a promising way of delivering this powerful grow food, and anything containing chocolate is automatically viewed a “treat”. She asked for thirds, so we’ll be making this a lot in the future.

Create a healthy addiction in your life…start making more smoothies!

Chocolate Kale Smoothie

16 oz almond milk

¾ cup frozen blueberries

2 bananas, peeled and frozen

1 T. honey

¼ t. vanilla extract

1 ½ T. soy protein powder (optional)

1 T. unsweetened cocoa, sifted

1 ½ cups fresh kale, washed and torn into large pieces

Combine all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Pour into glasses or mugs and sprinkle with sifted cocoa. Serves 2-3.

 

Say Yes to More Cookies September 30, 2012

Saying YES to a child always feels better than having to say NO, which is just one reason I love having healthy cookies on hand. Kids are always in the mood for cookies, and always want more than one…just like the rest of us. We could eat these for breakfast they’re so healthy, though if I actually allowed my 3 year old to do so I’d never hear the end of cookie requests at sunrise, so I’m just going to treat these as snacks and let the whole family eat as many as they want after breakfast.

Banana Coconut Almond Cookies

(gluten and sugar free, vegan if using coconut oil)

½ cup almond meal

1 ½ cups old fashioned oats

1/3 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 T. golden flaxseed

½ t. ground cinnamon

½ t. sea salt

1 t. baking powder

3 ripe bananas, mashed

½ t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

4 T. unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted

½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk dry ingredients together in small bowl. In medium bowl use a sturdy whisk to mash bananas, then add extracts and butter. Stir in dry ingredients and raisins. Drop cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden brown on bottom. Cool on wire rack. Makes 35 small cookies.