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The answer is, yeah, probably!

Carcinogenic MilksWhy??

Because most milk-alternatives like those pictured above contain the  food additives carrageenan or “natural flavors”, and in some cases both.

A quick search on Wiki shows that carrageenan undoubtedly causes inflammation, a biological process activated by harmful stimuli in the body’s attempt to rid itself of the irritant. And simply put, chronic inflammation causes disease. So, no, drinking a bit of carrageenan-laden-hippy-milk won’t give you cancer, but the cumulative effect of ingesting products with food-additives day-in-and-day-out (which, yes, you probably do!) can. And in the interim you may develop early warning signs like a food allergy or asthmatic symptoms. Wiki addresses carrageenan’s safety as controversial, yet suggests it more than likely induces gastrointestinal issues and disease.

Understanding “natural flavors” is next to impossible and I can only safely conclude that they are chemically processed (which I read as junk or Frankenfood) and, to me, if an ingredient is that curiously vague we probably shouldn’t be consuming it.

Have no fear. There is an alternative to the alternative!!!

Make your own. My favorite is…

Hemp Milk 7Nut Free, Grain Free, Sugar Free, Vegan

This milk alternative is super easy to make, tastes great, and boasts around 7 grams of protein per cup!!! Hemp seed is low-carbohydrate and a complete protein with a perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids making it promote brain and heart health, lower triglycerides, boost the immune system, and (unlike those aforementioned processed milk alternatives) reduces inflammation.

As long as you stock up on maple syrup and hulled hemp seeds you’ll never be out of milk for your cereal again. Unfortunately, this milk does not heat up well and shouldn’t be used in recipes like my homemade hot chocolate. It does seem to do okay in small quantities for baking and is great for things like smoothies and iced coffee!

Yield: About 3x 1 cup servings

*You’ll need a cheese cloth or Nut Milk Bag* <-I use this because it’s super easy to use and clean! I throw mine right in the wash on a cool delicate cycle.

  1. 3 cups water
  2. 1/2 cup hulled/shelled hemp seeds (I stock up on Nutiva Organic Shelled Hemp Seed*)
  3. 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Hemp Milk 2Simply throw all your ingredients into a high-powered blender. I use am obsessed with my Vitamix*and use it every s-i-n-g-l-e day!

Hemp Milk 3Whir it on high for about a minute-or so.

Hemp Milk 4Then strain into a pitcher with a nut milk bag or cheese cloth.

Hemp Milk 5Grab the milk bag with both hands and carefully squeeze out all the liquid. You’ll end up with hemp remnants that you can simply rinse down your garbage disposal or save to use for making dehydrated crackers or some other edible hippy thing. Eventually I’ll post something you can do with it <-Please hold me to this.

Refrigerate  in a sealed container and enjoy for up to a week.

Shake well before using!!

Let me know in the comments what you think of the hemp flavor. What recipes have you tried with it?? I’d love to know, especially with a picture or two.

~~~~~

*I, Laura Decker, am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com (i.e. so I don’t starve to death.) That being said, I do personally use and LOVE this product!!

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We were blessed with not one, but TWO days of perfectly fluffy snow to play in over the weekend! Without too much hesitation (It was only in the single digits) Evan and I put on a few layers and loaded up the car with our skis and poles.

XC Skiing January '14 -4We made our way to the local fields where some of our friends had already laid down some nice tracks.

XC Skiing January '14 -2No paw prints here…much to the dogs’ dismay they were not invited along on this adventure. Denali has a history of running away while we’re cross country skiing so he’s lost privileges. Poor King has to suffer for it, but that’s a small price he pays for having a brother. We do the best we can, what can I say?

XC Skiing January '14Cross country skiing is such a new sport to me since I’ve only ever been a handful of times. Even though I’ve had my own pair of skis now for 4 season they’ve only really been used as many times. Needless to say, I only wiped out once.

XC Skiing January '14 -3It proved to be a fantastic workout. I enjoyed it, but the best part about cross country skiing is always peeling off all your wet layers afterward.

Homemade Hot ChocolateOn second thought, it might actually be snuggling up in some blankets with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate especially if it’s homemade!

Homemade Hot Chocolate 3

Vegan & Sugar-Free

This recipe uses only 3 ingredients! It’s almost as easy as making those preservative-laden packets of instant hot cocoa. It makes a single serving. No worries though. If you have an army of snow bunnies simply multiply each ingredient by the number of bunnies.

  1. 1 cup dairy-free milk of choice (I used Suzie’s Quinoamilk Beverage, Plain Unsweetened* This product does not have the carcinogenic food additives carrageenan and “natural flavors” like most other dairy alternatives.)
  2. 3/4-1 tablespoon raw cacoa cocao powder
  3. 1 tablespoon honey (or agave for vegan)

Heat the milk in a saucepan on low for about 5 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and sweetener of choice. Stir until all lumps and stickiness have dissolved, about 5-8 more minutes. And serve.

*I, Laura Decker, am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com (i.e. so I don’t starve to death.) That being said, I do personally use and LOVE this product!!

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Don’t be scared by the healthy-sounding name.

These are, by far, my all-time favorite cookie. If you’re like me and prefer a healthier, not-too-sweet cookie that has enough nutritional value to pass as breakfast you have to try them! These cookies have a special place in my heart because they fueled me through my best workout this past race season (the locals know it well: 2-5-10). Until proven otherwise, I’m convinced that they are the ultimate food to eat during a workout.

Hmmmmmm. I wonder how many I ate?

I suppose I’ll share the food love with you!

Agave Oatmeal Raisin Flax Cookies

Yields 15

1/2 C. Canola Oil

1/4 C. Agave Nectar

1/2 C. Cane Sugar

4 Tbsp Ground Flax

4 Tbsp Water

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 C. Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 1/3 C. Rolled Oats

3/4 C. Golden Raisins

In a large bowl, mix together canola oil and cane sugar. In a small bowl, whisk flax and water, then add to the oil and cane sugar mixture. Add in vanilla and remaining dry ingredients except for the oats and raisins. Mix until about 3/4 of the way blended, then add raisins and continue to fully blend ingredients. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour. Remove dough from the fridge, preheat oven to 325 degrees. While the oven heats, add oats to mix. Then drop 15 rounded, well-packed balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; midway through flatten the balls with the back of a spatula.

Nutrition Info

1 cookie

Calories: 197, Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: .7g, Poly Fat: 2.4 g, Mono Fat: 3.8g, Sodium: 102mg, Potassium: 54mg, Carbs: 29.5g, Fiber: 3.5g, Sugar: 12g, Protein: 3.5g

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Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Here is the recipe for the wedding “thank you” bread I made.

I’m not sure why it’s called “Downeast Maine” pumpkin bread, but it sure was good.

Just as an aside, this recipe called for three 7″x3″ pans. I had to use two 9″x5″ pans, and simply baked the bread for an additional 25 minutes.

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As cliche as it may sound, the storm is passing…and everything is starting to look more beautiful than I ever remembered.

With the antibiotics taking their course and giving my overtaxed immune system a serious boost, my ailments are slowly releasing their death grip. Sayonara Lyme!

And I had enough energy to carry me through multiple chores, which felt more like pursuits of bliss!

Some of the highlights of this Suzi Homemaker’s day included:

Taking Mr. Denali for a stroll through suburbia.

Putting fresh sheets on the bed…

because crawling into clean sheets at day’s end is sheer bliss. And on my list of top 100 ordinary indulgences. (I spy a future post, or two.)

Spotting these at the grocery store!

I hate to admit it, but coffee just tastes better when it’s in a pretty cup and stamped with a well-branded logo of a siren. To me anyway. It’s quite possible that I’m just a lemming, and a sucker. These coffee travelers at least mimic the pretty cup part of the equation. I happened upon them while browsing the back-to-school section at Wegman’s. I am also a sucker for back-to-school crap. No, I am not of school-age. My psychoanalysis on this matter concludes it might be because it invokes feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts.

Experiencing flavored almond butter for the first time.

It did not disappoint, especially since it was expertly paired with oats. These little packets of heaven just might be the cure for portion distortion with nut butters (A terrible disease). And they’re easy. All you have to do is snip off a little corner and squeeze the gooey goodness into your mouth like candy! Or you could be a crazy person and proceed to then cut the packet completely open and lick up every last bit. Just sayin’.

And cooking my all-time-favorite soup, minestrone.

This isn’t your ordinary minestrone. This is my minestrone; so good that Evan’s eyes lit up when he found out what I was up to in the kitchen. That speaks volumes considering their was a time in the not-so-distant past when Evan relied solely on Domino’s pizza and Wawa hoagies for sustenance. I’d also like to add that this recipe calls for vegetables and is completely lacking in meat. Volumes I tell you!

Oh, the anticipation. This deliciousness smelled a-m-a-z-i-n-g as soon as it hit the stovetop in all its bubbling, herb-infused, soupy glory.

Titanium Cheeks!!!

*commentary omitted.

Laura’s tip of the day today: Laminate recipe cards you use and abuse! You will thank me next time you spill.

The Recipe: (It’s easy. I swear)

15 Servings/Prep & Cook Time about an hour

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 C chopped white onion
1/2 C frozen cut Italian green beans
1/2 C chopped zucchini
1/4 C mined celery
4 tsp. minced garlic
4 C vegetable broth
2 15oz. cans red kidney beans (drained/rinsed)
2 15oz. cans great northern white beans (drained/rinsed)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (drained)
1/2 C carrots, chopped
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
5 C hot water
8 C fresh spinach
1 C medium shell pasta

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.

Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in oil for 5 mins. or until onions begin to turn translucent.

Add vegetable broth to the pot, plus tomatoes, beans, carrots, hot water, and spices.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to low heat and allow to simmer for 20 mins.

Add spinach and pasta and cook for an additional 20 mins. or until desired consistency.

Calories: 120, Fat 3 g, Sodium 540 mg, Carbs 18 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 5 g

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Rosemary Chickpea Veggie Wrap

This vegetarian/vegan wrap is not just for hippies. It packs a surprising amount of protein with the addition of sunflower seeds and chickpeas. The unique combination of ingredients including lemon juice, rosemary, and dijon give a fresh, flavorful spin on veggies.

Serves: 1/Prep & Cook Time: 15 mins.

1 Large Whole Wheat Tortilla

2 tsp Grey Poupon

1 Slice Onion chopped

2 Cups Spinach

2/3 C. Summer Squash (or zucchini) chopped

4 oz. Mushrooms sliced

1 Small Garlic Clove minced

1/4 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 Lemon Wedge juiced

2 Tbsp Sliced Black Olives

1/3 C. Chickpeas drained and rinsed

1 Sprig of Rosemary chopped (scissors work best)

1 Tbsp Hulled & Salted Sunflower Seeds

Dash of Pepper

In a medium fry pan sautee onions, mushrooms, and summer squash in the extra virgin olive oil until just barely cooked.

Meanwhile, spread Grey Poupon on tortilla.

Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, chickpeas, olives, garlic and rosemary. Cover for a few minutes until spinach has wilted.

Scoop veggie mix onto the center of prepared tortilla. Sprinkle on sunflower seeds and pepper.

Wrap tortilla by folding in the sides first, then folding over the entire wrap in half. Support the sides while tucking and rolling the top edge under and around the filling. Cut wrap in half.

Snap photos if you’re a foodie blogger, and enjoy.

Nutritional Info

Calories: 404
Total Fat: 14 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 1,097 mg
Total Carbs: 57g
Dietary Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 16g

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