Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Breakfast Sweet Potato Pancakes

 My friend Annette requested this recipe after I made them for her kids while she and her family where visiting Gainesville a few months ago. I am very grateful to Annette for the request because otherwise I may have never gotten around to posting.
 I've made these sweet hotcakes for numerous sleepovers and special breakfasts. They require very little prep time, are way more healthy than your average pancake and the ingredients are usually ready- at-hand. Top them off with home-made whipped cream and candied pecans or simply sift some powdered sugar over top for a beautiful, hearty and healthful breakfast treat. During holidays this recipe is especially easy to make because you can use your left-over sweet potato casserole in place of the 1.5 cups of mashed sweet potato the recipe calls for. Repurposing those left-overs always makes me feel super smart.  Hope this recipe helps you feel smart and healthy this holiday season. EnjoY!

1.5 cups of sifted flour(all purpose)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 c of flax meal(optional)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes
2 jumbo eggs, beaten
1.5 cups of milk
1/4 cup of butter, melted 
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup candied pecans(optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream(optional)
4 tbsp powdered sugar(optional)

Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Add salt to sifted dry ingredients and whisk for 20 sec. In a seperate bowl using a hand held mixer, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add milk and continue to blend wet ingredients on a slow setting until everything is well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. If the mixture appears to be too thick, add another egg and enough milk to reach a pancake batter consistency. Finally,  heat canola oil in a heavy skillet(preferably cast iron) and drop batter in using a greased ladel. Set the pancakes on brown paper bags or paper towels to drain. Sprinkle your Holiday Sweet Potato Pancakes with powdered sugar or top with home-made whipping cream and natural or candied pecans.

For Home-Made Whipped Cream :

Simply combine 1 cup of whipping cream with 1 tsp of vanilla and a 4 tbsp of powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix together using a hand mixer until peaks form.

Home-Made Candied Pecans:

4 cups pecan halves
2 egg whites, beaten until frothy
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Spray the wax paper with cooking spray.  Beat eggs white until stiff. Add brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Mix in pecans and stir until coated. Pour the nuts onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake until browned, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kale Chips

 Home-Made Kale Chips

1 large bunch of kale
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp of kosher or sea salt
.5 tsp pepper

Wash kale and dry in a salad spinner. At this point, some recipes will tell you to remove the center stem or ribs from the kale. You may chose to do this, but I prefer to keep my ribs, they add texture and fiber to the chips.  Toss kale in oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay in an even layer on baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes at 300.  Edges should be crispy,  not burnt.

Split Pea Crisps

Golden Split Pea Crisps 

1 cup yellow split peas
3 cups water
3 tbsp olive or grape seed oil
1.5 tsp fine sea salt

Soak peas for 3 hours, drain, dry on a clean dish towel and heat oil in a cast-iron skillet.  Add half the peas to the oil and stir around with a wooden spoon til golden brown(approx 6 min). Toss peas with sea salt and repeat process of browning and salting with remaining peas.

On the Road Again? Here are Some Healthy Snack Options for the Healthy Traveler

Chances are that if you're traveling this holiday season, you will surely be tempted to stop at fast food dives along the way. Here are some tips you can use to avoid buying into eating garbage just because it's "convenient" and "fast". The reality regarding fast food is that it's neither and ultimately will cost you a lot more than that $10. Fast food will cost you time on the road, money better spent on renting canoes or going to an art festival, and ultimately all the monosaturated fats, pesticidies, GMO's and preservatives in the food will cost you your health. Why trade convenience for quality of life? Pack a snack and be on your way to a better trip. Ensure that your family stays healthy, happy, healthy and full of energy this holiday season by feeding them organic, whole natural foods.  Here are my favorite snacks to pack for a long trip whether I'm by myself or with the kids:

1. Nuts: salted, raw or glazed almonds, pecans or walnuts
2. Homemade Hummus with toasted pita wedges or carrot, broccoli, celery etc..
3. 5 lb bag of Organic Apples
4. Nori
5. Organic Beef or Turkey Jerky
6. Wasabi Chips
7. Suzi's Brown Rice Crackers with Almond Butter, Apple Butter, Pumpkin Butter or just plain Peanut Butter 
8. Organic Bananas
9. Berries and Grapes
10. Cubed Organic Cheeses and Meats
11. Kale Chips
12. Beet Chips
13. Stove-popped Chili-Lime Popcorn
14. Split-Pea Crisps
15. Dark Chocolate and Almonds
16. Vegetable Spring Rolls
17. Hard-Boiled Eggs or Egg Salad with Whole Grain or Flax Seed Crackers
18. Tabouli
19. Olives
20.  Pickled Vegetables: artichokes, cucumbers, beets, okra and peppers, to name a few

1. Green tea or herbal tea, either not sweetened or sweetened with a little agave
2. Water that has been bottled in glass or BPA free plastic...avoid the mark-up on airport or rest stop bottled water and you can refill along the trip when  you stop at restaurants etc.
3. Iced Hibiscus or Ginger Tea with a bit of honey 
4. Citrus, Ginger or Mint flavored water..pick an orange, slice up some ginger root or cut some mint out of the garden, place in a water filled jug in the fridge and allow to infuse for several days prior to bottling and traveling. To speed up the process, add your favorite natural root, herb or fruit to water and boil for 2-5 minutes, allow water to cool, strain-out foreign matter and bottle it up for the long trip ahead. 

* worst case..you're simply too busy or distracted to plan ahead and pack you provisions, use your smart phone to plot whole foods, farmer's markets and or health food stores are along the way.

* Once you've arrived, look up the zip code of your destination town on happycow.net and find local farmer's markets, health food stores and healthy restaurants in the area.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crustless Veggie and Cheese Quiche Cups

These little quiche cups are responsible for helping me to curb my appetite.  They taste wonderful and because they are protein and vitamin rich, you will feel full and satisfied long after you've enjoyed this delicate dish. Enjoy two in the morning followed with a cup of coffee and some fruit or nuts, pack two or three quiche cups along with a tossed salad and some soup into your lunch pail, or simply eat two with your vegetable of choice for a quick and guilt-free dinner.  I made 24 quiche cups this week, stored them in a resealable plastic container in the fridge and my family enjoyed them for 5 days.  On these cold mornings, I like to give the kids something warm to start their day, so I warm-up the quiche cups on a baking sheet along side some bacon and send them off with plenty of amino acids to nourish their growing brains. Hope you find this recipe useful for regulating your weight and feeding your family.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of fresh whole spinach(about 10 oz) or 10 oz thawed and rained frozen spinach, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced 
2 large field mushrooms, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
8 large eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Heat olive oil on a skillet and add onions(yellow and green), spinach and mushrooms. Saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic, stirring frequently( careful not to burn the garlic) continue to saute veggies for 2 more minutes.   

2. In a large pitcher or measuring cup, beat eggs and add cheese, salt and pepper to the mixture.  With kitchen tongs, place an equal amount of vegetables into each of the 24 muffin cups and top with egg and cheese mixture(only fill muffin cups 3/4 full, the egg will rise). 

3. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Store left-over cups in a plastic container with a lid in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mexican Beef Stew

Their are few things as satisfying, when it's cold out, than a nice rich beef stew.  This hearty soup was originally called Michoacan Beef and hails from Mexico's Pacific Coast.  The fertile volcanic soil of this region makes it a perfect spot for cultivating the richly flavorful tomatoes and peppers that form the base of this spicy stew.  I enjoyed this Michoacan Beef Thursday night with a my friend Sky and my husband Kris. The recipe's deep rich flavor and potent peppery spice left me feeling warm and comfortable for hours afterward. We paired this beefy goodness with a fine bottle of red which complemented the spice and savory flavors perfectly. We took the leftovers over to our friends for lunch at the 8th Avenue Bike and Coffee House. Everyone enjoyed a lovin' spoonfull. We hope you are able to share this magical beef stew with some good friends during this chilly season. Buen Provecho!

Note: We added a few Organic Yukon Gold quartered potatoes and some organic brown rice to the stew to both taper down the spice and extend the recipe.

3 tbsp all purpose flour
1.5 lbs stewing beef
1 lb beef shank with bone, cubed(reserving the bone for the stew)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped 
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
28 oz can of organic tomatoes, diced
2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, deseeded and chopped
6 cups of organic chicken or beef stock
12 oz of green beans, snapped into 3 inch segments
6 small quartered yukon gold potatoes(optional) 
1 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 tsp sea salt
.5 tsp black pepper

To Serve

2 cups of cooked brown rice
seasoned red kidney beans

1. Place 3 tbsp of flour in a large bowl. Season flour with salt and pepper, add beef stew and cubed shank and toss to coat.  

2. Heat oil in a dutch oven or medium sized soup pot. Take beef out of dredge, shake off excess flour and brown in the pot over medium high heat(browning the meat should take 3-5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, add onions and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, diced peppers and stock, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook on low for 90 minutes(or until meat is very tender).  Add snapped green beans, quartered potatoes, sugar, salt and pepper and cook down for 20 more minutes or until veggies are tender but not mushy.  Transfer to individual bowls and serve with a scoop of brown rice over top or some seasoned red beans and brown rice on the side.