Thursday, July 25, 2013

{Pancakes Revisted: Flax-Jacks}




For a long time, I've struggled to find delicious breakfast recipes. I mean, who wants to eat leftovers, salmon, or even roasted vegetables for breakfast?  I never really ate sugar cereals before, but I like my breakfast to be special, unlike lunch or dinner. When my family has pancakes, oatmeal, or french toast, I don't want to have leftovers! And after a while, turkey bacon can get pretty boring! Additionally, it is not healthy to eat something over and over again, especially if you have an autoimmune disorder, for your body can "tag" that food, then attack it (and make you feel quite awful!)



So, I set out to create a Paleo and egg free breakfast item. Since I've also cut out eggs from my diet due to hypersensitivity, I needed a good staple beyond turkey bacon and fruit. Thus, I created flax-jacks :)

Previously, I had created a pancake recipe modified from another blog. Yet, when I was faced with cutting out eggs, it took me many tries to make these puppies. First, I had to master making a "flax egg." Since there is no egg to cook and harden the flax-jack together, it was a bit difficult in the beginning to make a cake instead of a bunch of crumbs. 



But I did it! My experiments worked! And can I say, it was so worth it! Chewy, delicious, and almost like the pancakes my mother used to make. Don't be intimidated by their flaxy look- I promise, they are delicious! I'm very sensitive to textures and won't eat a oddly-textured food item, but these passed the test. 


Feel free to cut the recipe by one-fourth for a single serving.  Feel free to make your own creations!! Add in some cocoa powder for a chocolate twist, or some orange zest for a citrus day.
This morning, I added fresh blueberries and chia seeds in mine. I've also mashed up a half an banana (for a single serving) and added it to the batter- it tends to make the flax-jacks thicker, and adds more texture.


Flax-Jacks

 Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 flax eggs (see below)
1/4- 1/3 cup water, almond milk, or coconut milk

{Flax eggs}
To make the equivalent of one egg, combine one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of hot water. Stir and set aside for ten minutes.

Instructions:

Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the flax eggs and stir until everything is thourgoughly mixed. Slowly add in the water, stirring at the same time, until the mixture turns to batter*

Pour batter into the skillet in tablespoonfuls over medium-high heat. Cook on the first side for about  five minutes, then flip and continue cooking until desired. 


* There is a fine balance between too watery and just right. For thicker pancakes, use less water. For thinner, use up to a 1/2 cup. I tend to use water, because my body cannot tolerate almonds at the moment. It may seem like you're putting in a lot of liquid, but coconut flour is very dry, so it requires lots of liquid to balance it out, much less make a batter-like substance. Don't worry- your first time may not be perfect, but they are SO worth it :) 








Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Best {and Most Dangerous} Granola Bars EVER!









Sometimes, I just want a snack. And sometimes I'm tired of an apple. And sometimes I want something a little sweet. And sometimes I have time and I make this, and I am satisfied. 



 I came across a variation of this recipe on bakergal.com,  and HAD to try it! I changed it up a bit to fit my tastes (so of course, I took out A LOT of coconut!) and came up with this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Your sweet tooth can thank me later. 





I think what impressed me most about this creation is that it really did make granola bars. Some other recipes I've come across claim to make granola bars, yet end up being over-sized granola chunks. I tried and re-tried those recipes over and over. I baked them longer,  I added more liquid, I mixed more thoroughly, but all I ended up with was too much granola.  But this granola really does make granola bars!! Little did I know the trick was in such a simple appliance- the refrigerator!

And its so versatile, it can be made into granola chunks too for coconut yogurt, a smaller snack, or whatever you want.  Feel free to make a 1/4, 1/2, or  double recipe. It is so easy!

Disclaimer: This contains a lot of sugar, especially if you add in more dried fruit. Though it has lots of nuts, coconut, and seeds, it still can cause an unhealthy blood sugar swing. If you have a low tolerance to sugar (like me), I'd make a smaller batch and eat in small chunks.


~The Best Granola Bars Ever!!!~

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups almonds
3/4 cups sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

1/3 cup honey or syrup {I tried it both ways successfully. Feel free to mix it up!}
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Instructions:

Mix the dried fruit, coconut, and chia seeds in a medium bowl. Chop almonds into small, bite-sized pieces. Place 1/4 cup of the almonds in with the fruit, and place the remaining nuts into a food processor with the sunflower seeds. Grind the almonds and seeds until they reach the consistency of coarse meal. Mix in with the rest of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place the honey or syrup with the coconut oil. cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat immediately, and pour over the fruit and nut mixture. Mix thoroughly with a spatula until it cools off enough to use your hands to incorporate better. 

Place the granola in a greased 9"x13" baking dish. Press down firmly {this part is really important, for if you don't press hard enough, the granola bars won't be "bar-y"}. Set the granola in the refrigerator for at least an hour, then cut into desired size.


To store, if you want to keep them as bars, leave them in an airtight container, or in the baking dish covered with cling wrap. If you're ok with granola chunks, simply place granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Feel free to change it up and make it your favorite way. Add flaxseeds, raisins, cashewJust make sure to keep the ratios of nuts:berries:liquid the same, otherwise they won't be bars!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Breakfast Flashback: Cocomeal



 I know, I know- why make  "faux"meal in the middle of summer? Well, I was getting tired of smoothies and turkey bacon, so I thought I'd try my hand at something different.

Honestly, one food item that I miss most, besides my mom's DELICIOUS ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls made every Christmas, is oatmeal. I miss waking up on a rainy day to a steamy bowl of oatmeal with raisins, and sometimes, brown sugar. But those days are over, but sometimes I just want to relive the past. So, I did- sort of. This time with coconut. 


If you would have told me even a year ago, that basically everything I would eat would be coconut based, I probably would have laughed. Laughed and then stuck my tongue out in a "that's yucky" face. I used to hate coconut with a passion. Seriously, I would not touch anything that came within fifty feet of coconut or coconut smell. I even hated coconut lotion. But now, I absolutely love coconut! Granted, I'll probably never drink coconut milk by itself, but I am impressed with how much coconut I can tolerate.

  That said, if you hate coconut, DO NOT MAKE THIS BREAKFAST ITEM! Coconut is the nuts, bolts, and framework to this delicious creation. 


Needless to say, not only was I amazed that I ate all of it, but that I made it the next day. This simple meal caught me by surprise! It tastes even better with fresh fruit, and can easily be transformed into different variations. I added some fresh nectarine and sprinkled more chia seeds in it. The next day, I added some applesauce, cinnamon, and blueberries for a cinnamon-apple-blueberry creation. It was delicious! Feel free to add in more nuts, fruit variaties, seeds, etc. Make it your cocomeal!

~COCOMEAL~

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon chia seeds

Directions: 

Toast shredded coconut by heating a sauce pan over medium- high heat on the stovetop. Be careful, because they burn easily and quickly. 

Next, stir in the water and coconut milk. Cover and bring to a light boil. Once it has reached a boil, add in the coconut flour and cook for about three minutes until it thickens. 

Finally add in the chia seeds and "extras" {flax seeds, applesauce,apples, etc.

**If you want it a little thicker, I've found that removing it from heat and allowing it to set about 5-10 minutes is a good technique. 




Variations:

For apple cinnamon, add 1/4  teaspoon more of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of applesauce (add the applesauce when you add in, and some chopped apples for an added punch.

For cinnamon blueberry, add fresh blueberries on top, and even a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 

For orange-banana, add 1/2 tsp of orange zest and 1/2 of a banana, chopped.







Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Sprouting Summer: Meal #3

I'm not ashamed to admit it. Yes, I do miss my pasta days. Yes, I do miss cheese on top of my pasta. But I do not miss throwing up. Or feeling like my guts are going to spill out- sorry for spoiling any appetite you might have had. Therefore, I have avoided pastas like the plague.

Until now. Enter my new favorite "pasta" dish, zucchini lasagne. Not only is it mouthwateringly tasty, but it is a healthy and super easy delight. 


I adapted this marvelous recipe from quite possibly the most wonderful Paleo cookbook ever,"Make it Paleo," by the Food Lovers. I added my own cooks touch to it, omitting the mushrooms, onions, and adding a few ingredients. Feel free to make your own rendition- it is perfectly capable to be played with and changed. 



I served this with a simple salad. Steamed broccoli, roasted vegetables, or cauliflower rice would also be a nice compliment.
 


 Zucchini Lasagne

Serves 4
Time: approximately 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, pressed
6 ounces tomato paste
24 ounces tomato sauce (I used Sprouts Tomato Basil- its simple, delicious, and allergy-free!)
2 zucchini, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
pinch of salt
pepper to taste

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Heat a skillet at medium-high heat. Brown the ground turkey for approximately five minutes. Add in the garlic and saute until aroma arises. 

Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add in the parsely, basil, and spices and mix thoroughly. 

Bring the sauce to a light boil, then remove from heat. In a greased 9"x13" baking dish, arrange the first layer of sliced zucchini. Pour about a third of the sauce over the zucchini. Layer with ore zucchini and pour more sauce. Arrange the last layer of zucchini slices and finish off the last of the sauce.

Place the lasagne in the oven for fifteen minutes, covered with foil. After the fifteen minutes, heat the oven to 350 F, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for five minutes, then serve and enjoy.








Saturday, July 13, 2013

Running Across the States

This week, my family returned from our annual vacation at Lake Tahoe at Northstar Resort in my grandparent's condo. We spent a week of divine relaxation river rafting, jet skiing, swimming, river rafting some more, and spending quality family time together.

The only bummer of vacation up at Tahoe is the dreaded treadmill. Since my dad injured his foot and my mom and brother do not love running, I'm confined to the gym treadmill to log my 40 miles per week routine. I guess I can't complain too much- I was up in the beautiful mountains, watching the sunrise while listening to my favorite praise music (something I never do while running- except when absolutely bored!). However, by the end of the week, my body was aching for the pavement. I tried to satisfy its cries by doing some hill repeats and speed work, but my desire still wasn't quenched.

So, my dad suggested a run along the lake. At first, I was cautiously nervous about running by myself, since I personally don't think its smart, and am quite fearful of what could happen. Yet a run amidst he trees and along the lake sounded refreshing, relaxing, and just plain fun! Anyway, after a seven mile run on the treadmill for the fifth time, I readily agreed to a morning lakeside run. To make it more interesting, I decided to run from California to Nevada and back.  I mean, how often do I get to run from one state to the other?

The next morning, my dad drove down to 3.5 miles away from the California and Nevada border. Taking a deep breath, filled with excitement and nervousness, I took off. Finally, by that morning, it had cooled off, so much so, that my hands began to go numb. Yet my legs were leaping with joy for the feel of the pavement, that I hardly noticed. As I passed Kings Beach, I saw store owners stumble in to their establishments, getting ready for another busy day. 

At last I reached the dreaded hill that led to the state line. There was only one way- up. As I climbed the hill, I almost considered turning back before getting to Nevada, it was that bad! Yet as I rounded the corner, I saw buildings that assured me it could only be Nevada- casinos. With a great sigh of relief, I tagged the "Welcome to Nevada" sign, crossed the border, and headed back to California.

The way back was so much better, for not only did I have a glorious downhill, but also the pride of accomplishing my goal. Though it was a trivial accomplishment, I had a huge smile on my face as I completed the last 3.5 miles. As I gazed at the lake, majestically framed by towering trees, I was in complete awe of the beauty before my eyes. Rounding the corner, I came to the end of my run, exhausted, but completely happy.

It was a beautiful morning spent enjoying God's beautiful creation. I was reminded to be thankful for the ability to run. Even though it is sometimes painful, running is such a gift. My heart breaks for those who never get the joy of running, walking, dancing, and jumping. Therefore, I am thankful for the blessing I have to run and to enjoy it. What  could be better than my two favorite things, being in the mountains and running?


This trip to Tahoe was among my favorites and one that I will surely not forget!


* Yes, these pictures were taken after the run :)