Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Zucchini Almond Muffins/Zucchini Almond Bread (Gluten-Free/Dairy Free)

If your garden runneth over with the bounty of summer zucchini, this is a great way to use them. I like to grate any extra zucchini as the season goes on and freeze it in 2- and 4-cup portions so it is all ready to go when I want to bake.  Also, that way I have garden zucchini muffins all year long! Zucchini also works great roasted and pureed into a zucchini sauce.  On the outside chance your family is a touch *particular* about green things, then using zucchini puree is definitely a good option.  As an aside, you can also substitute zucchini puree in lots of recipes where you would use apple sauce. 

I actually find that they work better with frozen/thawed zucchini because the zucchini releases so much water when it thaws.  That way these aren't all greasy like so many zucchini muffins and zucchini breads are with the water left in the mixture to repel the oil out of the muff.

Flour note: My favorite GF flour is a homemade combo of freshly ground buckwheat groats combined with any mix of garbanzo/brown rice/amaranth/sorghum/teff.  Of course you could use gluten/wheat flour of any kind here, just omit the ground chia. 

Recipe Sub notes: I have had great success cutting back oil and subbing in apple sauce, pumpkin or pureed squash and yam.  Also grated carrot works really well in place of zucchini if you like.  Any sugar will work but I love the caramel-y flavor that the coconut sugar lends. Coconut oil could be used in place of the olive oil but I'm just not a big fan of the flavor of coconut oil in my baked goods. You might love it!

Zucchini Almond Muffins (or bread)  
  • 2C  flour (any type you want- see note for GF) 
  • 1C  almond flour or almond meal 
  • 2Tbl  ground chia seeds
  • 1Tbl  baking powder
  • 1tsp  cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2tsp sea salt  
  • 1/2C  olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 3/4C coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2C almond milk
  • 2C grated zucchini
 Optional: 1/2 cup mini choc chips, blueberries, nuts or the like

Preheat oven to 350deg. Grease either 4 mini loaf pans, 12 muffins or 24 mini-muffin tins.

In large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together thoroughly.

In separate bowl whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and milk- then mix in the zucchini.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then fold in your optionals if using.  Scoop the batter into your pans or muffin tins and bake!

Mini loaf ~35 min
Muffins ~22 min
Mini Muff~12 min

This recipe adapted from Zucchini Almond Bread in Nourishing Meals; Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family. 
Full size muffs with blueberries and grated zucchini

Mini muff with pureed zucchini and chips, also delish!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Almond Date Bars (gluten-Free/Dairy-Free)

These bars are so decadent tasting!  I am typically loath to deal with chopping and mixing dates due to the high-maintenance nature of the beast, but here I can't get enough.  I find that if I chop them and toss them in the dry mix a bit, then it is easier to use my hands to just break them up a bit.  Heck, this might even make a near-Paleo list if you wanted to get so ambitious to sub in coconut for the oats or something crazy like that.  I have played around with lots of variations in the wet ingredients and all are delish- subbing applesauce for part of the oil and/or part of the honey, agave or coconut syrup for honey.... all good!  Might have to try subbing in some pumpkin next with extra spices. 

These hold up well to freezing for later, but it is critical to make a double batch to allow for this practice, otherwise you wont have enough.  I am amazed at how many of those little crumbs keep needing to be pinched up and gobbled as I walk past the pan.  Suddenly there is only an odd sized piece left, and it always needs to be squared up....  I also imagine that this could be used as a mighty-healthy option for a crumble topping on an apple crisp.   

These have been adapted from a recipe by Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Almond Date Breakfast Bars.  A great cookbook cover to cover!

Almond Date Bars
  • 1 cup chopped dried pitted dates
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats 
  • 3 Tbs flour (I use my AP gluten-free flour blend, any type will do)
  • 1/3 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt (scant tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 oil (see note above)
  • 1/4 honey
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350deg and line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. 
2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
3. Whisk together all of the wet ingredients in a small bowl (I just measure them all together in a 2c glass measuring pitcher for ease of clean up).
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mix and stir very well to make sure all is well coated, then pour into your prepared pan.  Smash it down hard, pressing into all of the corners and such.  This will help it all stick together later so make sure it is well smushed.
5. Bake the bars 20-25 minutes until browned around the edges and top a bit, then cool completely on wire rack in the pan.

Note: It is best to completely cool before trying to lift out or they may crack a bit, forcing you to perform the aforementioned crumble clean up. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fawnalicious Kombucha (continuous brew & single batch brew)

Sweet magical elixir of goodness

I love kombucha.  My friends know this.  My family knows this.  My patients know this.  Strangers at the YMCA know this.  I love it love it love it.  I find I like both single and continuous batch ferments and need the extra around sometimes so I am often found with both types of science experiments rolling around my kitchen.  There are advantages for either but I think there are many greater advantages to the continuous brew based primarily on incredible convenience.  Continuous brew essentially makes it a low maintenance operation.  The flavor is a little stronger, but no big deal.  Also with continuous brew, instead of brewing pretty new SCOBY babies each time, you will grow one mammoth SCOBY-zilla that must be paired down due to both space occupying and aesthetic reasons.

If you plan to second ferment (which is where the personality and fizzy part comes in) you will need several jars- so either start saving your GT glass jars now or use any grolsch-style jar that has a well sealed lid.

I like to brew a big batch of sweet tea in a heavily concentrated amount so that when I am ready to pour off the delicious and fabulous brew, it is a total cinch to refill the batch and keep the love going.  This will save much time in brewing each time and waiting for the fresh tea to come down to a safe temp.  

Also, and this is an important note:  I briefly/partially decaffeinate my tea so therefore the ratios you see below are stronger than elsewhere.  If you don’t want to decaffeinate, you can surely try my recipe or enjoy any number of other recipes available online.  A favorite website is www.culturesforhealth.com. Here you will find all sorts of curious uses for extra booch or extra SCOBYs.  Please do tell if you go for the facial mask option.

Getting Started - You will need:
  • 1-gallon jar (single batch) or 2-gallon jar with plastic lined spigot (continuous brew)
  • Black tea (I use Tetley's British blend from QFC) 
  • Sugar (I use organic turbinado)
  • Unchlorinated Water 
  • SCOBY 
  • 2c starter liquid (Plain kombucha) 
  • Cloth cover and rubber band

To Start (making your sweet tea concentrate)
  • 4c filtered water
  • 16 large tea bags 
  • 3c/24oz sugar

Bring 4c water to a boil, add the tea bags, turn off heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes then strain out bags.

**If you are decaffeinating your tea**
Before you add your tea in the step above please pour separately boiled water over your tea bags, let steep for 30-60 seconds, discard this water and add the tea bags in the above noted pot.  I typically do in a glass measuring cup.  

To add this concentrate to your brew, simply dilute 
3:1 Water:Tea

Making the Kombucha
  • Clean out your container without using soap or other cleansers- white vinegar works well 
  • Make sure your hands are clean, of course 
  • Fill your container with sweet tea (make sure to dilute if using the concentrate above) leaving enough room to add your starter kombucha and SCOBY to the top
  • Gently and lovingly add in your starter and SCOBY floater 
  • Cover with cloth and put a rubber band around it.  This protects from fruit flies, etc. Gross.

Brewing Notes
  • Wait 7-14 days or so.  This will depend entirely on your kitchen temp, taste preferences and the constellations above.
  •  Begin pouring off a taste of the brew after a week or so to see if you like the flavor. Technically, it is considered kombucha if it has a pH of 3.5 or under (I geekily test this) 
  • When you dig the flavor, you are ready!  If you like plain kombucha, you are ready to enjoy. 
  • Keep your kombucha between 70-85deg for brewing.  I actually lovingly wrap my vessel in an electronic seed mat from the local plant nursery during the winter as my kitchen is freezing.  You can buy cheap thermometer sticker to keep on your jar. 
  • DO NOT pour hot tea over your SCOBY.  You must love your SCOBY and this means gentle handling.
  • Please also do not keep your SCOBY in the fridge.  Brrrrr.

Decanting your brew (single batch)

  • There are two ways.  Typically you are instructed to (with surgically clean hands) pick out the SCOBY and place it in a glass container.  Set it aside and cover it with 2c of your kombucha – this will start your next batch 
  • Now pour the ready kombucha into the bottles you wish to keep it in.  Here is where  the “second ferment” happens for those who want to add fizz and personality.  More details below on this....
  • Clean/rinse your gallon jar, add back the SCOBY and reserved kombucha, and fill the jar with sweet tea or tea concentrate/water as above and repeat the process 
  • I think handling the SCOBY is pretty gross, so I totally short cut this and simply use a ladle to get out the kombucha and pour it into my jars (using a funnel). I make sure to leave enough liquid in the bottom and just add my tea/water to the top and it’s all good.  I go through the handling process about every 6 batches or so depending on my level of motivation.  If I am grossed out by the jar, I just cover it :) - I find a kombucha cozy makes me happy.
  • Once your batch is set again, it will be about 7-14 days for your brew to be ready, repeat!

Decanting your brew (continuous batch)
  • So easy!  Just put your jar under the spigot and fill your bottles.   
  • Make sure to leave about 40% of your container full (only pour off about 60% max) 
  • Refill your jar with tea or tea concentrate/water  to replace the amount you pulled off 
  • Your next batch will be ready in 2-5 days roughly.  This is much faster than the single so I love it.

Second fermentation (where the creativity and fun come in)  
  • Here is where you will add flavor of any kind into your small jars, then cap tightly and wait again 
  • This second 3-10 day period is when the second fermentation takes place but since you have the air locked in, the fizz stays in the bottle.  This also helps to develop more delicious flavors in the fermentation process. 
  • These will be fine at room temp during second ferment.  Transfer them to the fridge when you are ready to stop the fermentation process.
  • Everywhere on the internet you hear scary stories of exploding bottles (lots of pressure can build up in your bottles).  I have never actually read a story of anyone having this happen. Everyone says they hear about it happening but have never experienced it.  My strategy is to keep my jars in a large foil baking pan since a jar will typically break at the bottom where it is the weakest.  Or maybe out of the top.  Anyway, I imagine my pan helping to contain the mess.
  • You can add anything in here!  I find a little goes a long way and make sure there is sugar in it or the beast cannot feed.  I typically use 20ml/16oz jar.  Not much. 
  • Some ideas include (but are not at all limited to) 
  • o   Blueberries – fresh or frozen.  About 5-8 are plenty
    o   Other berries – black, cran, rasp, etc
    o   Chopped peach (girls only, according to my husband)
    o   Cranberry juice
    o   Pomegranate juice or seeds
    o   Fresh ginger
    o   Grape juice
    o   Strawberry lemonade
    o   Copycat trilogy (see next bullet)
  • I like to make a magical elixir trio combining lemon juice, unsweetened cranberry juice and ginger simple syrup.  I keep the ginger I use to make the simple syrup and add it in the bottles for added flavor and immunity boost.  What doesn’t benefit from candied ginger?  I make up a big batch of this and its ready to add in my bottles.  Seems to last for ages.

Keeping your SCOBY hotel

Here is where your friends and family will start to worry about you going off the rails.  With each batch of single brew or every few times you refill your continuous brew, you will make a new SCOBY.  It is highly recommended to keep several of these in a separate jar covered with plain kombucha in case.  In case of what?  Well, in case you find yourself in a cult-like trance trying to start every friend or stranger in the store who will listen how to brew their own.  In case you need to start a second jar when you are out-drinking your first. In case your jar gets moldy.  In case you think your kid’s bookcase looks too plain with only books in it and just needs a jar full of slimy pancakes with yeasty tendrils dangling down.  Just good in case.
SCOBY hotel, in situ

Booch nestled lovingly in warming blanket

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Chia Cookies! (Gluten-free/Dairy-Free)

As per usual, I am always trying to maximize my baked goods full of complex grain/seeds, fruits and veggies for my 5-year-old who is a Particular Eater. This is typically easier this time of  year when pumpkin is more on the radar because she loves the complex flavors of pumpkin baked goods.  I have no idea why this works for her delicate palate, but I try just to be grateful. 

Well, now enter the 10-month-old who is a seriously complex eater already, but somehow is low on iron. Ok, so I do actually know that red meat could help, but I've got a thing about handling blood.  I'm much better with this arena.  I put this recipe together to incorporate pumpkin seeds which are a decent source of iron (14% RDA/ 1/4 cup) and then got all excited about using teff flour which is even higher in iron (20%/1/4 cup) and blackstrap molasses (15%/Tbs).  They are really high in protein and fiber for baked goods so the glycemic load is nicely reduced, making this the new Everyday Cookie for us!

These are quite moistureful- unlike many gluten-free baked goods.  Surely you could add some banana in somewhere and if you wish, increase the sugar.  I don't have much of a sweet tooth and the girls have never complained, so I keep it pretty low.  

Pumpkin Chia Cookies  (Makes about 3 dozen 1oz cookies)
  • 3/4c almond flour (I use almond meal from TJs)
  • 1/2c flour (*see note below)
  • 1/4c ground pumpkin seeds**
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1Tbls chia seeds mixed with 3Tbls hot water (or sub an egg)
  • 1/3c coconut oil at room temp or butter
  • 1/3c pumpkin (canned or freshly roasted)
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla 
  • 1Tbls molasses (optional but extra yummy) 
*Flour note: I haven't used wheat flour here at all but presumably it works.  I typically use 1/4c teff flour and 2Tbls each garbanzo/brown rice flour

**I put pumpkin seeds in a standard mason jar and screw the blender bottom on to it and then grind them up for a few seconds, works great to make a flour-like texture.  You could use food processor, blender or serious chopping.

Directions (preheat oven to 350deg)
1. Mix chia and water together in small dish and let rest about 10 min

2. Meanwhile, sift together all dry ingredients in medium bowl- this  mixes them and will break down little chunks of nut flours and such that seem to form.

3. Mix together all wet ingredients along with chia/water mixture.  I actually just put them all in my narrow measuring cup and use my immersion blender to mix the heck out of them

4. Combine wet ingredients in with the dry, then scoop 1Tbls drops onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then flatten the cookies a little with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Bake 12-13 minutes. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

(avocado) Chocolate Pudding Pops! (Gluten-free/Dairy-free)

It is HOT here in Seattle and these are a healthy fudgesicle  must.  I was a little unsure how well they would freeze but they were great!  I would also even make this recipe and just enjoy it as pudding or double it and chill it for a no-bake chocolate pudding pie.  I used the 4-oz cheapo pop makers from Safeway or something- you can use anything you have.  Even pour the mix into ice-cube trays and use tooth pics or Popsicle sticks if you don't have the molds.  

Avocado Pudding Pops (makes 4 3-4oz pops)
  • 2T Cocoa (or Cacao) powder
  • 2T Agave
  • 1/2 soft avocado
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
Put all ingredients into food processor or blender and puree until very smooth.  Pour into Popsicle molds and freeze.  

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Healthy Delicious Brownies (Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Grain-Free/Refined Sugar-Free)

These brownies haven't lasted more than 24 hours in our house.  As you will see, they are quite appropriate for breakfast and snacks so they are never long for the world.  And in this house where my oldest kiddo won't eat protein, this is oh, so satisfying!  These are so fast to make and (I think this is a good thing) not too rich.  The recipe I adapted this from used just nuts and no garbs, but I think the texture benefits from the addition of the beans giving it a more moisturefull crumb.  They are a bit reminiscent of Chocolate Chip Blondies.  I Recommend getting enough ingredients to make two batches because they will go fast.

Killer Brownies
  • 1cup raw walnuts or pecans (or try almonds and let me know!)
  •  ⅓ cup cocoa powder 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • ½ cup maple syrup 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Optional (not optional)- 2-4 Tbls mini semi-sweet choc chips
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish.

Place the nuts into a food processor fitted with the “s” blade. Process until very finely ground, stopping just before they turn into nut butter. Then add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse again to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and process again until smooth. You will still have tiny bits of nuts visible- this is OK even if you are a nut-in-your-brownie type like me.

Pour batter into baking dish. Spread evenly into pan with a rubber spatula or spoon and sprinkle on and lightly swirls in the chips if using. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Adapted from The Nourishing Meals Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS,  CN

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roasted Garbanzo Beans with Nutritional Yeast (Gluten/Dairy free)

This is a new twist on an old favorite. It was over a year ago that I originally wrote about Roasted Garbanzo Beans and our consumption has not changed around here except for a slight hiccup during my first trimester when all-things-not-hot-and-sour-soup were off the list.  Since clearing that hurdle, we are all in again.  I rarely deviate from my favorite mix of Old Bay seasoning and Curry powder, but on a whim the other day, I used some Nutritional Yeast I had in the drawer and it was DYNAMITE! 

I keep hoping I will magically drum up the courage to make Nutritional Yeast 'cheese' sauce, but somehow I just keep forgetting.  I know it is all the rage in vegan cheese sub-in's but I am a little scared.  Mostly because its called nutritional yeast. I mean, really.  The name's a little rough.  Even so, its delicious on popcorn, so it must be delicious on garbs, right? 

Because of the shear volume of consumption of these around here, I always make these from dry beans, but you can use canned beans if you want, just try for a lesser sodium brand and start in step 2.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans (preheat oven to 425)
  • 1lb dry garbanzo beans or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4tbls olive oil (use how much you want or are comfortable with, I just drizzle it out of my bottle and coat the garbs)
  • ~1/2tsp salt
  • ~1/4tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ~1/4cup Nutritional Yeast
1. Toss your dry garbs in a pot of water with at least 3 inches water over the top of the beans and bring to boil, then simmer gently for about 2 hours, then drain. 

2. In small/medium bowl, toss the garbanzos with the oil, then add the S, P and NY.  Spread the beans in a single layer out on a cookie sheet and roast approximately 25-35 minutes, stirring and flipping them every 10  minutes or so.  They should generally be firmly chewy when done.  I like it when I occasionally over cook a batch and have garbanzo nuts, but Mike and I differ there...

* You could very easily make these and a batch of Chocolate Chip Blondies and be set with a delicious power snack combo.