Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Energy Bars

I can't tell you how much my new-to-me Cuisinart food processor has changed my life. When it is your job to feed one dozen mouths each and every day, and when at least six of those mouths are athletes, including a teenager or two, protein-packed healthy food that is quick and isn't a million dollars per serving, is a lifesaver, to say the least. These are so easy, my friends. Just so easy. They are also extremely satisfying. The room for creativity here is endless as well. Start with my basic recipe, or as I call them...

Original Dano Bars

1.) Process until the texture of coarse sand: 2 cups raw cashews and 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut.
2.) Add 2 cups pitted dates, and process until well-blended with the cashew/coconut mixture.
3.) Add 1/4-1/2 cup melted coconut oil., and process until mixture is wet.
4.) Dump mixture into a 9x13 pan, press into pan and freeze for 10-15min. 
5.) Cut into bars and enjoy, or re-freeze bars for later in an air-tight bag. You can also shape the bars into balls, and re-freeze.

When I am not able to keep the bars cold, I shape them into balls, as they keep their shape much better. My food processor holds 14 cups, so if yours is smaller, adjust the proportions to fit your machine.

Recipe Variations

  • Zest and juice a whole lemon, lime or orange into the mixture when you add the coconut oil.
  • Add 1/4 cup of nut butter with the coconut oil.
  • Add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to the cashews and coconut.
  • Add chocolate chips or carob chips before adding the dates.
  • Melt chocolate and drizzle onto the bars before freezing.
  • Add 1 cup of another type of nuts in place of 1 cup of the cashews.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds just before dumping into the pan.
  • Add a few tbsp. of honey with the coconut oil.
  • Add a few drops of stevia with the coconut oil.
  • Add 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 2tbsp. of pumpkin pie spices, and a little honey or molasses.
  • Add 1tbsp. or more ground ginger and 2tbsp. molasses.
  • Stir in small bits of dried fruit before dumping into the pan, or process larger dried fruits after the dates.

Enjoy and let me know what other creative ideas you dream up! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Savory Baked Stuffed Pumpkin

Years ago, a friend gave me a recipe titled, "The Pumpkin is the Casserole." Clever, no? It was delicious, but I lost it as paper recipes and cookbooks went the way of the web. When sugar pie pumpkins went on sale at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to reinvent that recipe. I've done it two ways. First, I did a 'I'm not going to the store' version. Then, I went the more tasty route. I'll share both.

Since the first included things in my pantry and freezer, we'll call it:

Pantry Stuffed Pumpkin

 1 sugar pie pumpkin (3-4lbs.)
1lb. ground beef
1/2 cup each: frozen corn and frozen peas - thawed, onion - chopped, bell pepper- chopped, diced carrot
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked rice, optional
 sea salt and black pepper to taste
meat seasoning rub or other spices
1/2 tsp. each:  garlic powder, onion powder
1/2 cup dry white wine
Score the top of the pumpkin and remove the stem. Clean out the seeds and 'guts.' 

Place pumpkin on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brown ground beef, drain fat, and set aside. I don't drain the heck out of the meat for a recipe like this, as a little of the fat will improve taste and digestion. Pumpkin can be hard to digest! Saute onion, carrot and bell pepper for a couple minutes in a little olive oil or butter. Add the thawed peas and corn. Saute until carrots are soft. Place ground beef, vegetables and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and combine. Place stuffing into the pumpkin and replace the 'lid' of the pumpkin. Bake  at 375 degrees for 45minutes, or until the interior flesh of the pumpkin is very soft. As you serve, scrape the insides of the pumpkin as you scoop out the stuffing. Enjoy!

Savory Baked Pumpkin

1 sugar pie pumpkin (3-4lbs.)
1lb. ground turkey, lamb, beef, or pork sausage
1/2 cup each: porcini mushrooms - sliced, dried cranberries, pine nuts - toasted, onion - diced, celery -diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cooked rice, optional
1/2 cup Gruyere or other cheese  - broken into cubes, optional
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1tbsp. garlic, minced
 sea salt and black pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg

Score the top of the pumpkin and remove the 'lid.' Scrape out the seeds and 'guts' of the pumpkin. Place on a parchment -lined baking sheet. Brown the meat and remove from the pan, reserving some of the fat to saute the mushrooms, onion, celery and garlic. Saute on med-high, until mushrooms release their liquid and onions and celery are soft. In a large bowl, combine the meat, sauteed veggies, and remaining ingredients. Place stuffing into the shell of the pumpkin and replace the lid. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the interior flesh of the pumpkin is very soft. When serving, be sure to scrape the sides of the pumpkin well, as you scoop out the stuffing, so as to get pumpkin with every serving. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A - P - P - L - E - S !!!



Apples with Carmel Sauce

Two weeks ago we picked A LOT of Gravensteins from a friend's house. We also picked up some Bartlett pears. We quickly disposed of the pears, mostly just one at a time. I was able to come up with an  Oven-Baked Pear Pancake recipe that was quite tasty, but mostly, I've been experimenting with the apples.  So far my favorite is the Apple Clafouti. BUT, those two recipes are for another day. To whet your appetite, here's a sweet, high-protein way to snack on apples:

Simply mix equal parts almond butter and honey or agave nectar in a sauce pan over low heat, just until smooth. Slice up your apples, dip, and enjoy! 

Stay tuned for some more apple-pear goodness...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paleo Meatloaf

When I was a kid, I was not a fan of meatloaf, to say the least. One of my kids said to me recently, "When someone says, 'I don't like meatloaf,' someone else always says, 'Well, then, you haven't tried my meatloaf!'" Ha! It's funny, but it's totally true, and kind-of interesting. Nevertheless, if you don't like meatloaf, then you may not care for this recipe, but I feel like I have nailed this one pretty well, after lots of fiddling around with it. So, if you are the meatloaf type, you're in for a treat! For my vegetarian readers, I will not have a variation for you today, but I do happen to have a killer lentil loaf recipe that is quite delicious...for another day.

Paleo Meatloaf 

2lbs. ground beef 
2 eggs
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 cup blanched almond flour
1 cup marinara sauce
1tbsp. prepared mustard
1tsp. sea salt
1tsp. black pepper
2tsp. each - dried basil, oregano, thyme
1tbsp. each - garlic powder and onion powder

Prepare a baking sheet by wrapping it in aluminum foil, or covering with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ground beef, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, eggs, almond flour, onion, seasonings and 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Knead with your hands until well combined. Shape into a round loaf and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes, then pour the remaining 1/2 cup of marinara over the loaf and sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake for another 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve! 

Substitutions Possibilities:

-Ground turkey for ground beef. I use hormone and antibiotic-free ground beef.

-You can omit the cheese or use another type. I use organic raw cheddar or jack, and sometimes goat cheese.

-3 slices bread crumbs or 1 cup rolled oats for the almond flour.

-1 cup tomato sauce or 1/2 cup ketchup for the marinara sauce. I use Whole Foods brand marinara sauce.

-You can omit the prepared mustard or use 1tsp. dried mustard. I have used almost every sort of mustard in this with good results. 

-Fresh herbs and/or fresh garlic would be delicious as well. Usually, you substitute 1tbsp. of fresh for 1tsp. of dried herbs. The onion and garlic powders I get from Bulk Herbs Store are so delicious, and truly add a heap of flavor to any dish.




And finally...something I love to do with this recipe, is to preheat my Weber gas grill, instead of the oven, on indirect medium heat. I follow the same baking times and procedures, baking on the prepared pan with aluminum foil, and not directly on the grill. It is a tasty meal and doesn't heat up the kitchen!

...If I can do it, you can do it! Enjoy!


Monday, August 19, 2013

Some Souper Ideas

As I mentioned in a previous post, Chickens and Their Stock, weekly, I make a really good stock from some grilled or roasted chickens and make a souper healthy dinner and/or lunch from it. As promised, I thought I'd pass out some of my go-to fillings for the pot. I know I'm mostly preaching to the choir when I talk about being creative in the kitchen, so please, feel free to share your yummy ideas, as the possibilities for soups are endless. The ones I'll share here, I mostly do with my budget in mind. Soup is my money-saving meal, so we can continue splurging on delicious and nutritious foods all week long!

1.) Leftover grilled chicken, grilled tomatoes, bell peppers and onions, maybe a bit of chili powder and some rice.

2.) The more obvious choice...pulled chicken, noodles, carrots, celery, other veggies like parsnips or turnips.

3.) Roasted white fish, a can of coconut milk, curry and rice.

4.) Leftover roast, a can of diced tomatoes, chili powder, rice, olives.

5.) Ground beef, frozen spinach, tomatoes, garnish with cheese and green onions.

Often, I do things as simple as rice and frozen veggies, as you don't need a ton of seasoning, since you've made the yummiest stock on earth already!!! My ideas aren't rocket science, but hopefully, they get the ball rolling for you to make your own souper idea! What are some of your simple soup creations?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blanched Almond Flour

Briefly, wanted to chat about almond flour and alert you of a sale on my brand of choice. I first learned about almond flour years ago. I wasn't totally ready to go wheat-free yet, but after reading more and more about there being virtually no such thing as GMO-free wheat, we waved adieu to the golden grain...notwithstanding, of course, the pizza order every couple of weeks to bail me out of a serious time crunch. I digress. Really, my family fares so much better with little to no grains at all. We're not totally interested in gluten-free products, as they generally come with a handful of additives that aren't the greatest. Anyhow, as is our fashion, we dove in head first to cooking without wheat. I can honestly say I haven't missed it. Blanched almond flour makes delicious pies, pastries, muffins, cakes, breads, pancakes, etc. You probably know from my previous posts that I have learned much of what I know about cooking with almond flour from Elana's Pantry. She recommended Honeyville for the blanched almond flour. It is important to remember to use BLANCHED almond flour for baking most recipes. I accidentally ordered a 25lb. box of natural almond flour once, and it didn't go to waste, but it wasn't quite as versatile. It was useful in more dense pancakes, crisps and crumbles, and recipes which didn't require the flour to be as fine. The difference? I thought Living Healthy Mom explained it well. Now, more to the point. It's on sale at Honeyville right now. Well, anything you order is. Type in promo code: FOODIE when you check out and get 10% off your order. I buy my steel cut oats from them as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chickens and Their Stock

Once a week I roast a couple chickens with some root veggies, herbs and lemons. It's ridiculously easy and equally tasty, not to mention super-healthy. I hang onto the bones and later in the week, make an ultra-healthy stock out of them. You really should do this too. Seriously.