Yummy Nutty “Truffle” Bites

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Well, the big V day will be here before we know it. (Valentine’s Day that is, Feb.14th)  Why not show your sweetheart how much you care by giving him/her a sweet treat that is actually GOOD for their heart.  These do pack a bit of a calorie punch (with all of those nuts), but they also pack in fiber, calcium, vitamin E and other nutrients that you can’t get with candy.

The ones pictured here were actually made by my (almost) 9 year old son this morning. He wanted to bring something to school for snack that was going to fill him up, give him energy and not take forever to eat.  There is playing that needs to be done at recess too, you know!  These worked out great; way better than a granola bar and easy enough for a child to make.  Can’t get much better than that!

They also provide a great opportunity to get creative.  Not a fan of almonds? Fine, try pistachios.  Love dried blueberries?  Go ahead, throw them in the mix! Have fun with it! The original recipe that gave us the foundation for these was found in Chef AJ’s book Unprocessed.  But we have since made  some of our own changes.  Enjoy!

YUMMY NUTTY TRUFFLE BITES

INGREDIENTS

about 2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup almond butter

1/3 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup dried cherries or dried apricots (or a little bit of both!)

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Place the coconut in a small dish  and set aside Place all ingredients (except the coconut) in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse for a while, until everything is chopped pretty finely and sticks together well.  Take a tablespoon at a time of the mixture and roll into a tight ball (If they are not compact, they’ll fall apart easily.).  Roll the balls in the coconut and place in an airtight container.  That’s it!  Store in the refrigerator or just dole them out right then and there.  Enjoy!

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)

Creamy, delicious brown rice pudding!

I was so excited when we came up with this recipe today, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!  We eat oatmeal around here for breakfast almost daily.  This rice pudding makes a great warm breakfast cereal for a little change of pace.  You can also serve it cool, or even as a dessert.  It is so versatile.  If it looks a little thick once it has cooled, just stir in a little non-dairy milk, and it should be fine.  Also feel free to experiment a little yourself.  I really like the apples, currants and walnuts that we used today, but raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, bananas, pecans, almonds would all work really well too.  Get creative!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

cinnamon, to taste

1 apple, peeled and chopped (small dice)

1 handful raw walnuts, chopped

1 handful dried currants

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan at medium heat and stir.  Bring to a simmer and lower heat.  Simmer for about 15-20 min., stirring occasionally.  Serve warm or cool.  

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!)

Yummy Veggie Pad Thai!

I looked around for a good vegan Pad Thai recipe for what seemed like forever.  I finally took what I liked from a few different recipes and added some extras that I liked and here is the result.  It is honestly one of my favorite meals…easy, full of flavor, and tons of veggies!

NOTE: If you can find them, try to use flat brown rice noodles.  I use the Annie Chun’s brand found in the asian food section at Whole Foods Market.  Unlike regular flat rice noodles, these ones don’t tend to get as sticky and gummy as the regular ones, and they are whole grain!

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons water or vegetable stock

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced (Take a piece about the size of your thumb and try peeling it with a spoon.  It’s a lot easier and safer than using a knife.  You end up saving a lot more of the ginger too!)

1 package of baked tofu (recipe to follow)

3 green onions, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 to 1 cup each of the following

  • shredded carrots
  • sliced celery
  • snow peas
  • bean sprouts

1 package of  flat brown rice noodles, soaked in warm water for about 10-20 min (or as directed on the package), then drained.

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (less if you like it mild, or are serving to kids)

1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce (optional)

1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 teaspoons sweetener (agave, honey, evaporated cane juice, etc. will do)

12-15 sprigs of cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped (unsalted) peanuts

Directions:

BAKED TOFU – If you are going to bake your own tofu, you can do it well ahead of time.  Just keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.  If using packaged baked tofu, then just cut it into bite-sized cubes and it’s ready to add!

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drain tofu and wrap with 2-3 paper towels and place on a large plate. Place another plate on top and top the plate with something relatively heavy, like a can of beans.  Press the tofu for anywhere from 10 min. to 1 hour, depending upon how much time you have.
  3. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces and place on a parchment or silicon mat lined baking sheet.  Brush or spray the tofu with tamari or soy sauce and sprinkle with  n0-salt seasoning, like Mrs. Dash (Costco has a great salt-free seasoning under their Kirkland brand too).
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, turning tofu pieces over half-way through.  Set aside.  If not using right away, wait until they are completely cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for later use.
PAD THAI
  1. Heat a dry non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Place chopped peanuts in skillet and stir regularly.  Keep an eye on them and cook until fragrant and toasted.  Then remove from heat.
  2. Place water or stock in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble.  Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. Add tofu, veggies and noodles one at a time, stirring for about 1 minute before adding each additional ingredient.  This keeps the skillet from cooling down too much as the ingredients are added.
  4. Whisk the chili powder/sauce, tamari, lime juice and sweetener together in a small bowl and add to the party in the wok or skillet.  You can even just add them straight into the veggies without whisking together first.  You’ll end up with one less bowl to clean up.  
  5. Stir everything together until well combined and remove from the heat.  If your Pad Thai looks a little dry, try adding a little more water or vegetable stock.
  6. Place in bowls and garnish with plenty of toasted peanuts and cilantro.
  7. DIG IN!!!!

Chocolate Banana Macaroons

 

These are so yummy!  As you can tell, my daughter couldn’t resist the temptation when she saw them out, while I took pictures for this post.  They are so easy you can whip up a batch just on whim, if you like. If you celebrate Passover, then you’ll definitely want to save this recipe for next year. Sorry I didn’t get it posted earlier.

I adapted this from a recipe I found online and jotted down. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the source. If you know who originally posted it, please let me know so that I can give them credit! But this is a great recipe. Banana works so well with the chocolate and coconut. These macaroons are so moist and delicious and full of flavor. The only things they are lacking are sugar, oil, cholesterol, soy and gluten – stuff you won’t miss! The walnuts also add, not only crunch and flavor, but a nice little dose of omega 3s too!

Ingredients:
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Mash bananas in a large bowl, then add remaining ingredients.

3. Roll into walnut-size balls, or shape into pyramids on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you may need 2)

4. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you don’t wait to transfer the macaroons, they will be more likely to stick to the parchment. Enjoy!