Scrumptious Pumpkin Walnut Waffles!

The days are getting shorter and that tell-tale chill in the air has arrived…autumn is fast approaching.  One of the many things I love about fall is pumpkin!  Pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, and of course, pumpkin waffles!

These waffles are perfect for a cool, lazy morning.  They are whole grain, vegan, soy-free and oil-free.  Full of pumpkin, apples and walnuts,  kids get their veggies, fruit, and omega 3s and ask for more.  Make sure to drizzle with some pure maple syrup or even top with bananas.  Delish!

Yields 6 Belgium Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups rice milk
  • 3 Tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup sucanat, brown sugar, or other sweetener of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 handfuls raw walnuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour through cloves) in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until emulsified.
  4. Combine the wet stuff with the dry stuff and prepare according to waffle iron manufacturer instructions.  Enjoy!

Tip: I have a very used and abused (or should I say “seasoned”) waffle iron.  To keep the waffles from sticking when I take them out,  I spray a little cooking spray on the inside before pouring in the batter.  This makes it much easier to get the waffles from iron to plate without destroying them. 

Asian Fusion Cooking Class was a Scrumptious Success

Yesterday’s cooking class was fantastic!  We had six wonderful participants in my “cozy” kitchen and prepared several items with a bit of an Asian theme:

  • Green “Sushi” Rolls
  • Tropical Smoothies
  • Green Velvet Soup w/Asian Pears
  • Mel’s Pad Thai
  • Coconut-Date-Nut Balls

The food was delicious, the company was even better.  Unfortunately one guest had to leave before the picture, but here is a picture of the rest of us.

If you would like to get in on the fun, participate in an upcoming class.  Just click on the “cooking classes” tab up top for upcoming dates, or email me at meltrinidad@gmail.com and I will be happy to add you to the interest list.

Bye Bye Food Guide Pyramid, Hello My Plate!

The USDA's Latest Dietary Guidelines

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally kicked the Food Guide Pyramid to the curb and unveiled My Plate this week.  The major differences between the plate and pyramid are the following…

  • “Meat and Legumes” has been re-labeled “Protein” – Yay!
  • “Sugars and fats” has been eliminated.
  • The amount of grains has been decreased.  I would have preferred this to be labeled as “whole grains”, but I’m patient.  Give it time.
  • Dairy is still there, but at least it is off the plate and on the side.
  •  Americans are asked to fill AT LEAST half of their plates with fruits and vegetables
  • Encourages us to enjoy our food, but eat less.  Chances are, if half of their plate is loaded with fruits and veggies, the caloric intake will decrease as well.
  • With regard to whole grains, the USDA does ask that at least half of our grain intake is from whole grains.  FYI: Remember, something that claims it is “made with whole grain” does not make the whole product whole grain.”  Watch those tricky labels!
  • Switch to low-fat dairy (Y’all know my opinion on this one!)
  • Watch your sodium intake.  But they do not give the reader any guidelines as to how much is too much.
  • Encourages people to drink water in place of sugary drinks.
  • Did you notice that physical activity is not mentioned a single time?!

I encourage you to check out the site yourself and see what it has to offer (http://http://www.choosemyplate.gov).  There is a variety of resources there including:  diet analysis, tips for weight loss, and a “personalized” plan.  You can even look up a food and see where it would land on the plate, and how many calories it has. I must warn you though that the food database is quite limited right now.  Hopefully it will get better with time.

Look Familiar?

AICR's New American Plate (circ. 2004)

I find this new “My Plate” concept eerily similar to the American Institute for Cancer Research’s (AICR) “New American Plate” which I was referring people to seven years.  I have to say that at least My Plate leaves the “animal protein” out.  Although AICR’s version does specify “whole grains”.

If I could have any plate, my choice would be The Power Plate created by Physicians of Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  It  looks an awful lot like the one the USDA approved. Pretty much the only thing missing is the dairy.  For more information on the Power Plate, click on the image or visit http://www.thepowerplate.org.

So there’s the latest and greatest.  Now at least you are informed.  Please keep in mind that the main purpose of the USDA is to look out for the interests of America’s Agriculture, not necessarily the health of Americans.  That being said, it is amazing to see how these guidelines are in direct contrast to who receives the most agricultural subsidies from the tax payers (namely the meat and dairy industries).  Here is a very interesting article on this very topic http://www.pcrm.org/news/usda_food_plate_federal_subsidies_meat_dairy_110602.html

There are a lot of alternative plates out there.  Dig a little and check them out to determine which one is best for you.


Teff Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Teff is one of the smallest grains in the world, and also one of the most nutritious.  It is gluten-free and a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and iron.  In Ethiopia, teff flour is used to make injera bread, which is a staple there.

The fact that teff grains are so small makes it very difficult to mill into teff flour.  You can find it though.  Bob’s Red Mill (www.bobsredmill.com) makes a whole grain teff flour that can be found in health food stores.  Teff flour is also gluten-free and makes a great alternative to regular flour.

I picked some up and decided to give it a try.  Here’s what I came up with.  This recipe is actually adapted from one taken right off the back of the teff flour package.  I eliminated the oil and substituted applesauce.  Mashed ripe banana would probably be a tasty oil substitute here, too.   If peanuts (or nuts in general) are out of the question because of an allergy or sensitivity, try using sunflower seed butter instead.  

Ingredients :

  • 1 1/2 cup whole grain teff flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well. (You can use a hand mixer, food processor or even a blender for this part.)
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  5. Roll dough into balls the size of a tablespoon and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Slightly flatten with a fork, using the tines to make a criss-cross pattern.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

(yields 2 dozen cookies)

New Cooking Class Added!

Due to popular demand, we are having our next cooking class on the afternoon of Sunday, June 26th in Camarillo, California.  It’s going to be a blast with a little bit of a tropical/Asian theme:

  • Collard “Nori” Rolls
  • Green Velvet Soup w/Asian Pears
  • Mel’s Pad Thai
  • Tropical Smoothies and/or Date-Nut Rolls

Cost is $40 per person (cash only, please). If you are interested in attending, please email me soon at meltrinidad@gmail.com.  Space is very limited and it’s bound to fill up quickly.

The many uses for leftover brown rice!

Around here there are two things we almost always make in large batches so that we have leftovers in our fridge…beans and brown rice (sometimes quinoa or barley, but usually rice).  It is such a great staple to keep on hand for quick, healthy meals.

We all need to make sure we are eating more whole grains and fewer refined foods, and this is a great way to help you on your way.  One cup of cooked brown rice is very low on the glycemic index and has 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein,  B vitamins, calcium, and iron.

Brown rice takes a little longer than white rice to cook (40 min. vs. 20 min.) but if you make a few cups and save the rest to use throughout the week, you save yourself a bunch of time.   It also requires more water (2 cups water : 1 cup of rice).  And remember, it’s gluten free!

Here are a few suggestions on the many ways we use cooked rice round here…

  • Add to a salad to make it a heartier lunch
  • Add to roasted veggies and eat as-is or wrap in a tortilla or collard leaf
  • Rice and beans with salsa and avocado slices
  • Water saute whatever veggies you have and add cooked rice.  Stir to combine and cook until heated through.  Add some tofu and you’ve got a little “fried” rice thing going on.
  • My latest favorite: quick morning brown rice pudding! (recipe to follow shortly!)