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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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.

 

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)

 

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.