Nut & Groat Granola

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It’s been so long since I’ve done a blog post I was a little worried that I’d forgotten how! I’m finding it easier time-wise to post quickly in “real time”, on Instagram Stories and on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page.

I do love to blog though and I like that I have a place to reference recipes and share my favorites with all of you. I’ve made a pact with myself to try to figure out how to balance life a bit better and to focus more on the things I love to do like cooking, baking, and blogging.

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Spring and summer months are the best for natural light photography so I should be taking advantage of it. Not to mention the beauty of all the fresh fruits, summer desserts, and outdoor cooking that are headed onto the scene.

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Hope you are doing well! We’ll catch up more on my next post and as always you can pop over to Instagram and Facebook to visit too. I do a lot of health research and reading and like to post articles on my FB page that may be of interest to you. On Instagram, I’m more loosey goosey and you can see and hear me in real time, see what I’m up to, and cook with me. As always, I only do this for fun. No earnings involved, I just have a love of wanting to teach people about healthier choices and alternative ideas about life, food, and overall health.

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See you soon!

~ April xo

Nut & Groat Granola

*Makes about 3 cups

1 Cup of Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1/2 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Groats

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Sunflower Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 Cup of Organic Roasted & Salted Cashews

1 Cup of Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

1 teaspoon of Organic Ceylon Cinnamon

Couple Pinches of Sea Salt

Contents of 1 Vanilla Bean Pod

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

3 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup

3/4 Cup of Organic Montmorency Dried Cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together the oats, groats, seeds, and cashews. Add the cinnamon, sea salt, and vanilla bean pod and stir well. Add the oil and syrup and stir until ingredients are evenly coated.

Spread onto a parchment covered baking sheet and bake in 5 minute increments, stirring between each. Once it starts to lightly brown, keep your eye on it because it will quickly burn. You want it to be browned evenly, then remove from oven to cool. About 12 minutes or so in a convection oven. It will crisp more upon cooling. Toss in the chopped cherries.

Serve with non dairy yogurt or non dairy milk, as a post workout snack, car snack, hiking snack. Anything goes!

 

Simple Homemade Yogurt & Granola

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It’s interesting how we don’t crave things until we figure out we can’t have them. There’s nothing like being told that your body doesn’t deal well with dairy, gluten, and grains, to make you crave all things dairy, gluten, and grains. All the things you realize now, you took for granted when you were able to eat them supposedly without issue.

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It’s like the reverse psychology we use on our kids when they’re little to get them to do something they don’t want to do…except in reverse…reverse… if that makes any sense.

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I’ve said in previous posts how I thought going dairy free and gluten free was a walk in the park compared to going grain free, potato free, legume free, and nightshade free, like many Paleo people do. I’ve never managed a complete Paleo diet, but I have been very Paleo-ish for almost two years.

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It wasn’t until recently that I began adding non gluten grains, legumes, nuts & seeds, and white potatoes back into my diet in very small amounts on a semi-regular basis. I was curious to see how my body would react after abstaining for so long. I also have been working on my gut health which is the key to healing and getting rid of food sensitivities.

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So far, I’m only doing small amounts, and as long as I don’t overdo it, it seems to be working out OK. If I have a reaction to something I eat, I can usually tell within a couple of hours with the onset of a headache or stiffness in my joints. Sometimes, it doesn’t hit until the next morning when I wake up with stiff fingers, puffy eyes, and feeling like I have a hangover. This is why I tell people who are having health issues to keep a food journal. We have busy lives, it’s difficult to remember what we eat every day, what we’re dealing with stress wise, and how it’s affecting us. With a daily food journal, you can find patterns in your diet that are causing issues. Keep in mind, food issues don’t just cause physical problems. They contribute to PMS, anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, mood swings, anger, ADD and ADHD…the list goes on.

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I’ve held off on oatmeal for a long time. Every time my husband has it for breakfast, I think it smells and looks amazing. Which is strange, because I wasn’t much of an oatmeal eater at all before I gave up grains. I do believe that our bodies crave what they need though. It’s important to pay attention to that, as long as what you’re craving isn’t junk.

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So I took the leap yesterday and decided to make gluten free granola that we can eat on coconut milk yogurt or just as a snack now and then. It’s nice to be able to switch up your breakfast routine with something exciting. I either eat dinner leftovers, smoothies, eggs, and on Sundays we usually have buckwheat pancakes (buckwheat is a seed). Sometimes though, I wake up and think I’d rather not eat anything than face the same old thing every day! Being able to eat yogurt with a bit of granola on the top of it yesterday was a real treat. I may even have it again this morning.

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I do a lot of reading and research, and the bottom line is that your gut is the center of your health. Commit that to memory. It’s imperative to know what foods you’re sensitive to and to take care of your gut. You can even change your DNA history and the DNA history of your future family generations with your diet! Research suggests that autoimmune diseases are all linked to the gut microbiome. In fact, many prominent scientists and doctors believe that all illness is related to our gut health. If our gut isn’t healthy, neither is the rest of our body, and as a result of that, we aren’t able to fight off infections, viruses, and cancers.

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Your main focus with food allergies, sensitivities, and illness, should be your gut. Once that begins to heal, your entire body will begin to heal. Eventually, you’ll be able to start testing the foods that bothered you previously. But remember, healing the gut from years of abuse and damage takes time, and it’s possible that there will be some foods you’ll never be able to tolerate. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. But eventually, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthy diet and it will change your life.

Coconut Milk Yogurt

The recipe below is the “quick” method for making yogurt. If you would like to make yogurt the traditional way with kefir grains, you can go HERE for more information.

**I use this yogurt maker. It’s only $20 on Amazon Prime and works great.

4 1/2 Cups of 100% Coconut Milk

2 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (You can use 2 organic dates instead, or organic raw honey)

Powder from 1 Probiotic Capsule (I use one with different strains than what is in my daily probiotic capsule)

2 1/2 teaspoons of Grass Fed Gelatin

In a blender, add the coconut milk, maple syrup, and probiotic powder. Blend on medium low until fully combined. Turn the blender to low and while it’s running, slowly sprinkle in the gelatin. Turn blender on medium and blend for 30 seconds. Pour into the yogurt cups, turn the yogurt maker on, tighten the lids, put the cover on, and allow to sit for 8-10 hours. I also cover mine with a towel to keep the heat in, as we keep our house cool. Halfway into warming time, you’ll notice the milk has separated. Pick up each yogurt container and swirl to combine and allow to warm for the remaining time.

When done warming, swirl the cups again to combine the liquids and refrigerate overnight before eating. It will thicken as it cools.

 Blueberry Almond Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Cups of Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/8 Cup of Avocado Oil

Pinch of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

1/4 Cup of Activated Raw Almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup of Organic Dried Blueberries

Cover a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Toss all ingredients together in a medium bowl until oil is evenly distributed. Spread out onto the parchment paper and bake 20-25 minutes stirring halfway through. I like my granola darker and crunchy, so I went the full 25 minutes. Make sure you watch it though, at a certain point, it darkens very quickly and burns easily. It will crisp more as it cools too. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

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Simple Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt

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It’s January 13th and I’m already done with winter. That’s a new record for me. The loathing of gray skies doesn’t usually start until around the end of February. I do love snow, of which we’ve had very little. Without it, winter is gloomy and gray and rather unpleasant.

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Yesterday the dogs and I took one look at the weather and stayed inside in our pajamas and hung curtains. Hanging two sets of curtain rods and curtains with tennis elbow took some time. Have you ever had tennis elbow? Well let me tell you, I have a very high pain tolerance, but this? The pain that a simple little tendon and elbow can cause is shockingI have no idea where it came from or why. It showed up like an unwelcome visitor and doesn’t want to leave.

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Once the rods and curtains were finally hung, we (I) rearranged a few things, cleaned up the big mess the dogs (I) made and whipped up a batch of coconut milk yogurt. I need something to eat for breakfast or to snack on that doesn’t involve a meat or vegetable. I’m off eggs, all grains, legumes, nuts, white potatoes, and refined sugar for a while. When you already can’t eat gluten and dairy, that doesn’t leave you with many quick choices outside of fruit, vegetables, and meat. You have to get creative and plan ahead.

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 So after sleeping in this morning after the long and painful elbow day yesterday, I had to get “creative”.

Mango, blueberries, banana, kiwi, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pomagranate, seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes.

Mango, blueberries, banana, kiwi, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pomegranate, seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes.

There weren’t meat and vegetable dinner leftovers for me to eat and I just could not stomach yet another vegetable smoothie. Yesterday’s breakfast was leftover home made chicken soup that I also had for lunch. Dinner last night was a challenge and ended up being a half an avocado, an organic hot dog (cooked in the microwave!), a baked sweet potato, and a quarter of a banana. It won’t hurt my feelings if you have a look of displeasure or even disgust on your face after hearing that.

But then, I was very pleased to remember that I had a delicious batch of creamy yogurt and a plethora of gorgeous fruits waiting for me. A lovely morning surprise on a gray sky day.

Who cares about winter? I’ll just have Spring for breakfast.

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Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt

3 Cans of Full Fat Organic Coconut Milk BPA Free

3 Tablespoons of Pure Maple Syrup (or 2-3 TBS of Organic Raw Honey)

2 High Quality ProBiotic Capsules (Opened and powder shaken into milk)

1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Unflavored Gelatin 

Poor the coconut milk into a large bowl and whisk to remove any clumps. Add the maple syrup and whisk well until completely combined. Add the probiotic powder and whisk well until completely combined. Next, scoop out about 1 cup of the coconut milk mixture into a large glass measuring cup. Sprinkle 1/2 Tablespoon of the gelatin at a time, whisking quickly so that it doesn’t clump. Continue until you’ve added all the gelatin. As you pour the gelatin mixture back into the coconut mixture, whisk briskly to combine. Make sure it is combined very well and is not all resting on the bottom of the bowl.

Poor into yogurt containers, turn the yogurt maker on, and allow to rest and warm for 12 hours. Halfway through the process. Pick up each jar and swirl to combine the clear liquid that settles at the bottom. Replace and cover for the remaining time. Refrigerate over night before eating. 

*I have also added a Tablespoon of Pure Vanilla Extract and the contents of 2 Vanilla Beans during the whisking process for vanilla yogurt. Very good!

An Attempt At Coconut Milk Yogurt

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Last week I found this yogurt maker on Amazon for $24.99.

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There’s all kinds of ways to make your own yogurt at home, you don’t necessarily have to have a yogurt maker. You can use your oven light or a cooler with a heating pad. But both of those methods didn’t appeal to me and when I realized I could purchase a yogurt maker for such an inexpensive price, I figured, why not.

Good, dairy free grocery store yogurt is difficult to come by. There are do-able brands like the So Delicious Greek Style Yogurt made with coconut milk and the Amande brand made with almond milk. While both of those are tasty, neither one of them have a real yogurt consistency and they are loaded with refined sugar and additives.

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It’s definitely worth it to make your own organic yogurt where you control the sugar and additive content. Making yogurt out of non-dairy milks can be a challenge though. I did the research and there are several methods and all kinds of advice. I wanted it to be as pure as possible so I just added the coconut milk, medicinal honey, and one and a half very high quality probiotic capsules. I take that probiotic daily, so it was convenient to use. If you need to purchase a probiotic for yogurt making (I think that’s the easiest way) make sure you do your research and choose high quality.

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The milk needs bacteria to ferment and the bacteria needs sugar to eat and grow.

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 I read the simple directions to figure out the quantity of milk I needed, did some research on the internet to try to figure out a good balance between honey and probiotics and I was off to a good start.

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You just mix all the ingredients together, pour them in the glass jars (after washing them of course), put the lid on, turn the machine on, and let it sit for 8-12 hours. I let mine sit for 12.

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The first thing I noticed after the 12 hours was that the cream had separated to the top.

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I could tell that even if I shook it that the cream on top wasn’t thick enough to compensate for all of the liquid on bottom.

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So I did a bit more research on “coconut milk separation” and decided to add a bit of gelatin, which I probably should have added at the beginning of the process. Not knowing how much was too much, I just added a little pinch to each jar, gave it a very good shake (1 minute each to dissolve the gelatin), and placed them in the fridge overnight.

By the way, gelatin is excellent for the gut, joints, hair, and nails.

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Looked promising when I put them in the fridge…

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By mid day the next day they had solidified more than the night before, but still not enough to become yogurt. I shook them again a few times and left them for one more day.

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A little improvement but not much. I should have been more generous with the gelatin, but was afraid it would end up too gelantinous.

But all was not lost!

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I ended up with a batch of fabulous fermented coconut milk to drink and use in smoothies. Whether it’s solidified in the form of yogurt or not, it’s still excellent for your health. We made vegetable fruit smoothies with some of the fermented milk this morning and they were delicious.

This weekend I’ll try a different brand of organic coconut milk and also increase the gelatin amount.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Rainy Day Blues

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Our son is graduating from high school in exactly 18 days. (Yay!) I have a list a mile long of things in the house I need to get done, other lists that need to be made, groceries that need to be shopped for, yard work that needs to be done…but this rain, oh this never-ending rain that we can’t see to get away from, well, it’s simply sucking the life right out of me. Maybe not completely…just the energy that I need to have to do the cleaning type of things.

I had deep cleaning plans when I got out of bed today. You know how the nicknacks on the top of your kitchen cupboards gather dust and other “stuff” from cooking? Well, that’s been bugging me for a while now. I’m finished filling in at my sister-in-law’s medical practice so I thought, why not tackle that today? As I was eating breakfast I was shuffling through recipes…a terrible thing to do if you are a foodie like me and want to accomplish something with your day. Next thing I knew I was whipping up a gluten-free, dairy-free version of Martha Stewart’s Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake…and here I sit at 12:15 PM with not one thing dusted on the top of my cupboards and pretty much finding anything that will distract me from doing so. I have to tell you though, in the big scheme of things, what’s a little dust? More importantly, I absolutely LOVE that I can flip through a magazine or a cook book and pretty much convert anything to gluten-free and dairy-free.

The coffee cake is absolutely FAB as most things Martha Stewart are. And in true Martha fashion, the recipe has a gazillion steps but is worth every one. I was happy that this recipe didn’t have anything that I couldn’t pronounce or that I would have to order online from Timbuktu. I of course, had to de-dairy and de-gluten it, and then switched it up just a touch with the addition of dark brown sugar, dates, a little less butter (dairy-free), a little less nuts, xanthan gum, and I went without the glaze because it is plenty sweet enough without it. You won’t be disappointed.

~ 2/16/2012~ I made this recipe again a few days ago and edited it a bit. I noticed that I had left the xanthan gum out the first time I posted the recipe. Also, the streusel topping can be cut in 1/2 easily, there’s plenty. Or, you could use the topping on the top and in the middle and leave out the streusel center ingredients below. It all depends on if you want a little streusel with your cake or a little cake with your streusel. Enjoy!

**My Advice: Read through the entire recipe before starting.

Preheat oven to 350°

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

For The Streusel Topping and Center (these are made separately see directions below):

1 3/4 Cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

1 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Course Salt (I used sea salt)

3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter (I use Earth Balance Soy Free)

1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

1/2 Cup Chopped Dates

For The Cake:

3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter, Plus More For The Pan

2 Cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

1 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or Table Salt

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 Large Eggs

1 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup So Delicious (Dairy Free) Coconut Milk Yogurt

1.  Make the streusel topping: Mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 tsp. course salt, and 1/2 cup nuts. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or gently rub through with your fingers until small to medium clumps form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Make the streusel center: Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup dates, and 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon.  Set aside.

3.  Make the cake:  Butter (with dairy-free butter) a 9 inch tube pan with removable bottom.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl.

4.  Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla.

Beat in flour mixture in 2 or 3 additions, alternating with the coconut yogurt, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and beat until well combined.

5.  Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the streusel center mixture evenly over the batter.

Top with remaining batter and smooth with a spatula.

Sprinkle streusel topping mixture evenly over batter.

6.  Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. About 55 minutes (mine took 53). Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Remove cake from pan and serve.

Super Smoothie

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At least 4 days a week I drink my breakfast. And I don’t mean alcohol either. Ha! Although, teenagers do sometimes make you want to start your day off with a Bloody Mary. Seriously though, smoothies are a great way to start your day. The options are endless and you can get a lot of fruit and vegetable servings started first thing in the AM. I always start mine with pineapple, not only because I love it, but because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Then, I add a banana for the magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Usually I add blueberries for the antioxidant and then if I’m feeling up for it I add spinach, kale, or some other green item. Occasionally I’ll add coconut yogurt…seriously, the options are endless.  I grab the smoothie and a handful of walnuts and I’m out the door. Easy, handy, nutritious, and delicious.

I made the recipe below a few days ago. This morning I’m drinking a smoothie with organic raspberries, organic banana, coconut milk yogurt, and pineapple. Love them!

*This recipe makes 3 16 oz. fruit/veggie smoothies.

Super Smoothie

1 Organic Banana

1 1/2 Cups Organic Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

1 Cup Spinach, packed

20 oz. Crushed Pineapple in its own juices, or fresh pineapple

1 Cup Frozen Mango

About 1 1/2 Cups Ice

Place all the ingredients (except the ice) in a heavy-duty blender, blend until smooth. Add the ice, blend for about 1 minute. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blend until smooth and enjoy!