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 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!

Breakfast Parfait, An Embarrassing Moment, & A Head Scratcher

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I talked the new owner of Blueberry Fields, a local health food store, into ordering me the almond milk yogurt I like. They had never heard of Amande or any yogurt made from almond milk. Maybe it’s a West coast thing?

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I assured him that it’s leaps and bounds above any goat’s milk yogurt or soy yogurt that I’ve tried. He was very kind and said he would be happy to order it in and see how it does with his other customers. The next week when I went in to pick it up, he and his staff were even able to give it a taste test because as I was grabbing them out of the cooler, one fell to the floor, split open, and sprayed all over his shoe.

I layered the yogurt with homemade granola. You can find my recipe here.

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As the yogurt fell through the air in slow motion, hit the ground with a thud, splattering his shoe…I muttered “$hit” under my breath, apologized profusely and offered to pay for it.  One of those awkward moments where you’d like to close you’re eyes and pretend no one can see you like small children often do.

But, as I like to believe, everything happens for a reason even if the reason makes you feel like an idiot. They tasted it and liked it, so if it’s a hit with other customers, then I should be able to buy it on a regular basis!

It’s the little things in life, people.

Speaking of the little things in life. Here’s a little peek out the kitchen window from a few days ago. It stopped me in my tracks as I walked through to make a cup of tea. 

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I went shopping in Keene on Thursday, all by myself for the second time…I might add. Might sound slightly ridiculous to you adventurous souls out there, but driving around here is nerve wracking. It’s kind of dense as far as trees and such so it’s hard to get a grip on land marks. I’m used to wide open spaces where I can at least see which direction I’m headed.

There’s also a lot of roundabouts, they call them something else, but I don’t remember what. They make my armpits sweat. But I’m getting used to it and I have Telenav that stops me from getting too lost (when it works), so I’ve been venturing out on my own and getting to know the area a bit.

An example of a rather tame roundabout. The roundabouts on Main street in Keene…not always so tame.

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While I was doing a little shopping at Colony Mill Marketplace (they have a wonderful bookstore) an older woman overheard me say to the cashier that we had recently moved from Washington state. She asked where and I told her and it turns out she lived about an hour from where we used to live. We chatted for a minute and basically she told me she doesn’t like it here, and even drove the comment home with a very disapproving look on her face. She was shocked to hear that we love it so much. Shocked! 

I didn’t want to get into the reasons as to why she doesn’t like it here, because frankly, I hate to spread that kind of negative “stuff” and I don’t like it when people spread it to me either. So I paid for my things, said “nice meeting you”, and high tailed it out of there.

Here’ s a gorgeous sunset off our back deck. Isn’t it just awful here in New Hampshire?

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As I did a little mental inventory on the drive home, I thought to myself, “What’s not to like?”. Genuinely nice people, absolutely gorgeous surroundings, no state income tax or sales tax, the “live free or die” mentality, as much gluten-free eating out as we like, a palpable pride in the communities, lakes everywhere, hiking and trails everywhere, Boston, New York City, the ocean, Canada and Europe…all within a reasonable distance. There’s something for everyone!

And in case you need more convincing…

20 Reasons to LOVE New Hampshire

Almond Milk Yogurt

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On the days I have to do “big” grocery shopping I always set aside enough time to kind of meander around the store and see if there’s anything new. New as far as dairy-free or gluten-free products go. It seems like each store carries a different variety of things. Occasionally, I luck out and run across something new, or at least new to me. Last week when I was up at our local organic and health food store, Huckleberry’s, I bought some goat’s milk yogurt. I forgot to take pictures of it and do a review, but that’s OK because I never made it past the first bite. Basically, it tasted exactly like tart goat cheese and fruit…but smooth. Ugh. Way too “goaty”  in the morning for me, so I tossed it and basically threw away $2.00.  That happens a lot in the dairy-free and gluten-free world, unfortunately. I always have high hopes when I find something new that I can eat, but honestly, 80% of the time it’s a disappointment. Kind of like the “Panko Style” gluten- free bread crumbs I ran across last time I went grocery shopping. $5.99 and they were awful, not even crisp right out of the bag. Had to toss those too.

But yesterday must have been one of those 20% days where I buy something new and it’s actually delicious. Quite the breakfast surprise this morning, let me tell you. Yesterday when I was searching for my usual coconut milk yogurt at our local Fred Meyer (they can’t seem to keep anything in one place for long in the health food isles for some reason), I was just about to give up when I realized they had moved the whole yogurt section…once again. Anyway, right below the coconut milk yogurt I found a new product (or new to me) called Amande Cultured Almond Milk. I was so happy! It’s the little things in life you know… So, I took my chances and bought a cherry and a peach almond milk yogurt.

This morning, cringing while I’ll peeled the top off, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it not only looked normal but smelled normal. It’s also nice and thick, not runny like coconut yogurt, and tastes fabulous! It has no artificial ingredients or preservatives, is dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, fruit juice sweetened, has 6 live cultures, and zero GMO ingredients.

If you click here, and then on the store finder at the top of their page, you can find a store near you.