Raised from Scratch

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

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

 

Fall Vegetable Linguine November 20, 2012

 Fall Vegetable Linguine

1 pkg (16 oz) gluten-free brown rice pasta (or whole wheat if you prefer)

*reserve 1/4 cup pasta water after cooking

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, cubed

1 T. olive oil

1/2 t. salt

4 T. butter, divided

3 cups brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved

1/2 t. dried thyme

1/4 t. dried rosemary

¼ t. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

1 cup shredded asiago or parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375°. Peel and cube butternut squash and toss with 1 T. olive oil and ½ t. coarse salt. Roast cubed butternut squash at 375°F for 25 minutes or until tender, stirring once after 15 minutes.

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water when draining.

Wash the brussel sprouts, trim the stem and halve sprouts lengthwise. Heat 2 T. butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and herbs and a generous sprinkle of coarse salt; sauté for 5 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, cover pan and cook additional 2-3 minutes until sprouts are tender. Remove from heat.

Combine cooked pasta, squash and brussel sprouts. Drizzle with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste; plate and top with toasted walnuts and shredded asiago.

 

Homemade Toddler Lacing Cards November 12, 2012

Here’s a very quick craft that helps kids develop sewing skills and hand-eye coordination. Recently my daughter has felt compelled to remove her shoelaces and practice lacing as soon as I ask her to put her shoes on to leave the house. Next time we’re running late I’m going to suggest lacing a star instead so we can get out of the house on time, and we can practice lacing shoes when we get home. Only seems fair to offer her a substitution if I plan to ask her to leave her shoelaces in place, right? Even better, maybe I should cut out a cardboard shoe tomorrow so she can practice the criss-crossing pattern.

All you need: cereal boxes or equivalently thin cardboard, paint, permanent marker or pen to draw an outline, cookie cutters or stencils (optional), scissors, hole puncher, string or yarn, tape

Paint your cardboard and let dry completely. Draw shapes using cookie cutters, stencils, or your good old imagination, cut out shapes, and punch holes. Tie one end of the string on to the shape and wrap a small piece of tape around the other end to give the kids something sturdy to hold on to and push through the holes. Voila, you just saved $10 and shared a crafty experience with your child.

Store them on the refrigerator for an activity to occupy the kids while you’re cooking.

My little one really liked stringing the cards together for a makeshift kite, which we proceeded to “fly” in the breeze of our floor fan while singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins.

 

Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates (no refined sugar!) November 8, 2012

Pictured on Gluten-free Cinnamon Amaranth Biscuits

This probably isn’t the cranberry sauce of your childhood. If you’re looking for a traditional American cranberry sauce with lots of sugar to cover the tangy bite of fresh cranberries, this is not the recipe for your holiday meal. This recipe is designed to excite your taste-buds and challenge your concept of what a cranberry sauce should taste like. And while it doesn’t contain any refined sugar, the cinnamon, dates and brown rice syrup ensure it is still delightfully sweet. Thanks to aged balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, and medjool dates, I can honestly say I’ve never tasted a cranberry sauce with so many tiers of flavors. If you give it a try I suggest you have some biscuits waiting so you can start devouring this amazing sauce right away. Let it chill in the refrigerator overnight and it’s practically like jam. It’s incredible with a sharp white cheddar cheese. If ever there was a reason to stock up on fresh cranberries, this is it.

 Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce with Medjool Dates

cooks in 30 minutes

For approximately 2 cups sauce:

12 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (1 bag, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¼ cup + 2 T. water

½ cup + 2 T. brown rice syrup

1 strip orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

½ cup fresh orange juice

½ T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

½ cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (4 large dates)

1/8 t. ground cinnamon

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine water, brown rice syrup, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat, cook 3 minutes. Add ½ of the cranberries and half of the dates; cook 7 minutes, or until cranberries begin to pop, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cranberries and dates and cook additional 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries from the pot and place aside in a small bowl. Return pot with cooking liquid to the heat so it can reduce and thicken, adding ground cinnamon and making sure the cinnamon stick is still in the liquid (orange zest should be removed). Simmer over medium heat 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return cranberries to the sauce, stir and allow to cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken further as it cools. Can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For approximately 4 cups sauce:

24 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (2 bags, rinsed in cold water if frozen)

¾ cup water

1 ¼ cup brown rice syrup

2 strips orange zest (use a peeler for one long strip)

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 T. aged balsamic vinegar (I used a 12 year barrel aged vinegar from Spicewood Food Company)

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup medjool dates, pitted, chopped (8 large dates)

¼ t. ground cinnamon

Inspired by a recipe from Gourmet magazine entitled Cranberry Sauce with Dates and Orange

 

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

 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Chocolate November 2, 2012

My taste testers say these aren’t discernibly gluten-free, and that they are sweet enough on their own without the maple cream frosting. Most of these we ate without frosting, but I thought I’d frost a few for a sweeter, fancier option.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars with Chocolate

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup sorghum flour

¾ t. baking powder

1/8 t. sea salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. ground ginger

2 T. flaxseed meal (ground flax)

2 T. almond butter

2 T. butter, melted + 1 t. for buttering pan

¾ cup pumpkin puree

3 T. maple syrup

2 T. molasses

2 eggs, lightly whisked

2 T. milk of choice

1/3 – ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and butter 8×8” baking dish. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with chocolate chips. Bake 35-40 minutes until bars are set. Let cool before slicing. Makes 16 bars.

Optional Maple Cream Frosting:

½ cup cream cheese, room temperature, or mascarpone

2-3 T. maple syrup depending on desired sweetness

Mix cream and syrup in small bowl (don’t over-mix if using mascarpone) and frost cooled bars.

 

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?