Monday, August 23, 2010

Granola Rounds

I love granola bars.  Let me clarify: I love good granola bars.  And good granola bars are usually pretty pricey.  Enter homemade granola bars!  Except these are not so much bars as they are round... But have no fear, what they lack in way of angles is by no means related to how they taste.  Because they taste totally awesome :)

  • 2 c. oats
  • 1 c. raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shell-less sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed OR wheat germ
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 1/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Toss oats, nuts and flax/wheat germ in bowl; transfer to large, ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five or so minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, add brown sugar, agave, apple sauce, peanut butter and salt and heat over low heat until all ingredients are well combined.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  3. Lower oven temp to 300.  Pour dry oat mixture back into bowl; add cranberries and sugar mixture and mix until everything is well coated.
  4. Using 1/3 c. measuring cup, spoon wet oat mixture into muffin tins and pack tight (I use the bottom of the measuring cup and my fingers).  How full you pack your muffin tins will determine how thick your granola rounds turn out... I only pack mine half full, which leaves me with some leftover granola that I just bake on the baking sheet, alongside the granola rounds.  Or, pack them full and you'll have no leftovers, only thick granola rounds.
  5. Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick your rounds are and how chewy/crunchy you want them.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY before devouring.
These are perfect for snacks or meals on the go...  Full of fiber and protein to give you the energy you need, minus the sugar crash and cavities you can certainly do without.  Now that's what I call well-rounded (oh yes I did)!  *B

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beth's Better Bread

I'm not one for baking... BUT, I've been trying to change that as I search for tastier ways to sneak whole grains to my family.  Also, I'm pretending that Fall is nigh, which makes me want to bake.  Plus, there is something magical about the oven.  I love (and prefer) the stove top, but there's nothing that makes me feel more homemakey than when I bakey ;)

I have yet to master baking bread in the oven.  BUT, I believe I have mastered it in the bread machine.  Please tell me that gets me at least one brownie point! Anyway, it's too hot here to turn the oven on for very long.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  The real reason is I'm too lazy to do all the necessary steps to make a loaf of bread.  Enter bread machine: it's like a crock-pot, for bread!  Love it.

  • 1 c. white, unbleached flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. wheat germ
  • 2 heaping T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1/8 c. rice milk
  • scant 1/3 c. agave nectar
  • 2 T. applesauce
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
  • handful of sunflower seeds (without the shells, in case you were wondering)
  1. Combine flours, wheat germ and gluten together and set aside.
  2. Combine water, milk, agave, applesauce, and salt and pour into bread pan.
  3. Add dry ingredients to bread pan.  Make sure the wet ingredients are covered.
  4. Add yeast and sunflower seeds to the top of the mixture.  Insert bread pan into bread machine.
  5. Use the following settings: basic cycle, light crust, 1.5 lb. loaf size.
  6. When your bread is finished baking, remove bread pan from machine.  Carefully dump out your loaf and allow to cool while resting on its side.
After the bread is sufficiently cool (but still warm!), slice it up and enjoy!  Butter, of course, tastes amazing on it.  Which you can justify using (every once in a while) because you didn't use any oil or fat of any kind when making the bread ;)  I make a loaf a week... I slice the entire loaf at once and stick it all in a big ziploc baggie, with a folded paper towel sheet.  We don't eat a ton of bread or go through it too fast, so I keep it in the fridge.

Of course, everyone's bread machine (and oven, for that matter) is different.  This recipe works wonderfully for me, but feel free to experiment until you get results you're happy with.  I just love homemade bread!  Who doesn't?!  Seriously though.  No nasty preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup, and no hydrogenated nothing.  Just good, wholesome ingredients that result in a good smelling and good tasting loaf of happiness.  *B

Warm & Nutty Applesauce

There are two ways to make this: super-easy-quick vs. minimal-effort-quick.  You choose.  Although, I do recommend staying away from the micro as often as you can, especially when fruits/veggies are involved.  Nuking our beloved foods tends to leach out all the good nutrient stuff... anyway, enjoy this warm and yummy treat, and dream of dead leaves and grinning pumpkins :)

  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • handful of chopped almonds
  • cinnamon to taste

Version 1: Microwave applesauce for a minute, add cinnamon and nuts.
Version 2: Roast nuts in dry pan over low heat until nuts are fragrant.  Add applesauce and cinnamon and stir until warmed through.

Not quite ready for Fall?  Then try the crafty applesauce instead!  Either way, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!"  *B

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Not-So-Guilty Brownie Muffin

I DID IT!!!  If I were a dancer, I'd be doing an ecstatic jiggity-jig.  If I were a cheerleader, I'd be doing back-flips and sporting spirit fingers.  If I were a monkey, I'd be waving my arms around and frantically pounding my chest.  I'm not any of those things, but I think you get the idea... I'm just so dang thrilled with myself!  And success has never tasted so sweet ;)  Voila! my twist on chocolate muffin/brownies:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 banana, pureed
  • ½ c. sweet potato puree
  • ½ c. black beans, pureed
  • 1 c. flour blend (white flour, wheat flour and wheat germ, 1:1:1 )
  • ½ T. gluten (opt)
  • 2 heaping T. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • handful of Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts (opt)
  1. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips (and nuts) and toss.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
These can be made/served as muffins or brownies.  They're full of fiber, protein, AND chocolate!  Sinfully sinless.  Go me!  *B

Sunday, August 08, 2010

work in progress

I just thought you all (my two followers) should know that I'm working on a chocolate muffin recipe!  I'm REALLY excited and I am sooooo close to mastering it.  And then I can share it with the world, bwahahaha!  Ok, I may need to come up with a not-so-evil laugh... I've also got a superb salsa that kicks butt.  I cannot believe it's not on here already!  I swear I posted it, but the blog don't lie 'cause I can't find it nowhere nohow.  Oh, and I am THIS close to conquering a whole wheat bread recipe.  So, lots of yummies for your tummies are on the horizon.  Huzzah!

I will leave you with a tiny tip for today, though.  Just in case you've been waiting with bated breath to hear from Beth ;)  On your next sandwich, wrap or burger, forgo the mayo and say yes to hummus!  Just a little otta do ya.  Tonight we I had a veggie burger with a smidgen of hummus smudged on, and a side of homemade baked beans.  In other words, my dinner was meatless but proteinful (it's a new word, starting... now)!  And oh so delish.  Lest you think I'm perfect, I also had a handful (or two) of Doritos.  GASP!!!  I know, I know...  simple carbs + bad-for-you fats + food dye + MSG = tasty nastiness -- a true conundrum.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day!  The healthy possibilities are endless!  And, there are no naughty chips to tempt me.  *B

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rockin' Corn Muffins

I love muffins!!!  Especially good tasting and good-for-you muffins...  And boy, does this corn muffin have it all!  It's savory AND sweet, hearty AND moist.  It basically rocks, but doesn't taste like one ;)

  • 1/2 c. flour blend (white flour, wheat flour and wheat germ, 1:1:1 )
  • 1/2 c. cornmeal
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. applesauce
  • 1/2 c. white beans, pureed
  • 1/2 c. corn, pureed
  • handful of shredded cheese
  1. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add shredded cheese and toss together.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for 22-24 minutes.
Add a little honey and eat alongside some awesome meatless chili.  Whole grains and incomplete proteins, unite!  *B

Awesome Meatless Chili

Here's the deal about protein: it all comes down to complete vs. incomplete.  A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need.  An example of a complete protein would be meat or dairy.  An incomplete protein still contains amino acids, just not all of them.  So any of your grains, legumes, nuts/seeds would fall under that category.  But here's the magical part: by pairing certain incomplete proteins together (whether in a single meal or throughout your day), you create a complete protein!

What I love best about this chili is that it's full of flavor, complex carbs, protein and fiber (thanks to beans and lentils).  Serve it up with some crushed tortilla chips and a side of cornbread and voila! a complete protein.  It's a super powerhouse meal that makes for a happy mouth and a happy bowel ;) 

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can worth of prepared brown lentils, rinsed & cooked (about 1/2 c. dry)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 can worth of frozen corn (or drain a can of corn... I just prefer the flavor of frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cans worth of water
  • 1/2 onion, chopped -or- 1-2 T. dried onions
  • 1 t. garlic, minced -or- 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 T. chili powder (1/2 t. if chili powder is spicy)
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. beef bouillon
  • 1-2 T. brown sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions:  Place all ingredients in a slowcooker and stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Enjoy!  I know your heart will.  *B

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

back to the basics

So I'm trying to get back into the habit of meal planning.  The past year or so has been a serious rollercoaster... and instead of turning to meals as a source of solidity, it was one of the first things to go.  It's easier to eat better when you have a plan.  For this week's Personal Goal, I want to make AND keep my meal plan.  If it's on the plan, it's being made!  And eaten.  No more insta-meals a la microwave.  No more last minute take-out.  This week we are sitting down to good, healthy, homemade meals!  Ideally, it should always be like this.  Hopefully, this week will be the catalyst for many happy weeks to come :)

That being said, I've decided that we need to eat less meat.  Say what?!  You read right.  Less meat.  Back in college, I came up with a food guide pyramid based off of the Word of Wisdom.  So many times we get hung up on the no smoking/drinking business.  But we forget, or fail to see, that it is a divinely designed diet.  A diet that consists mainly of the fruit of the earth: grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes.  Yes, it also says to eat meat.  But it says to eat it sparingly.  Of course, sparingly is subject to one's personal opinion/definition.  But it is my personal opinion that our society eats too much meat and has created a species that is addicted to it.  Did you know that meat, and dairy, causes a plethora of health problems?   That's another topic for another day...  I'm getting side-tracked.  What I'm saying is that I think we should focus less on meat and more on veggies et al.  Now, if you're seriously craving a steak, then by all means, eat it!  Listen to your body and it will tell you what you need.

If you've made it this far, you're probably saying "get off your soap box and give me the dang meal plan!"  So here it is.  If you think I've gone totally bonkers and you want your meat gosh-darn-it!, then please, feel free to add it in.  But you might be surprised to find that most of these meals, if not all of them, are downright tasty as is!

Mexican Mondaymeatless chili w/ corn muffins
Oriental Tuesday: veggie stir fry w/ noodles & peanut sauce
Twisted Wednesday: potato bar w/ stew leftovers
Authentic Thursday: rice pasta w/ olive tapenade
TGIFriday: black bean burgers w/ sweet potato fries
Special Saturday: DATE NIGHT!!!
Super Sunday: shish kabobs on the barbie

I will try my darndest to post these recipes and link to them when I can!  Be back soon.  *B

hello world!

I have a confession to make... forgive me if this sounds totally lame, or if I come off as being seriously egotistical, but I feel like my calling in life is to introduce people to healthy eating that tastes good.  To me, healthy is synonymous with tasty!  When you eat something, your body should say "Yum!" and "Thank you!" at the same time :)  I know this blog and I have an on/off again relationship, but believe me when I say that I really want to contribute to the betterment of peoples' lives through food.  Nutrition is my passion, something that excites me.  I know, I know, I sound like a broken record... but it's true!  Oh so true.  And, I have this nifty new challenge going on.  And part of that challenge is blogging!  Another part of that challenge, in not so many words, is being healthy.  My role in my family is not only that of wife or mother, it is the role of care-taker that I take equally serious.  I seek for guidance and search for ways to make my family healthy.  And to do that, I need to be healthy.  I find that when I am actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle, my life falls into place.  It's like the world takes on a "new" meaning, and I become a literal part of it.  It's a whole new level of self awareness.  It's beautiful.

So I blog.  For the betterment of myself, my family, and society as a whole.  Because good nutrition is something worth sharing.  It needs to be shared.  And so share I will!  *B