Monday, July 25, 2011

Cucumber Rose Mocktail

Love Pink and Green!
Mmmm, I love gin and tonics! But, in an effort to make all of my other healthy choices count, I rarely indulge in them. The last week was indescribably amazing. The weather was so beautiful. Hot for native Alaskans, but for this Florida native, total bliss.

Of course, old habits die hard and the sun (and a really hot an sweaty 8 miler) made me crave the hammock with an icy gin and tonic in hand.

Instead, I made a mocktail. Not my usual lime and tonic water on ice. I was laying on the hammock looking at all of the wild Sitka Rose bushes in my 'yard.' Thinking about that one gin that is distilled with roses? Then I thought, gosh a Pimm's soda would be awesome. Except I don't have Pimms. But I do have lots of cucumbers in my greenhouse!  Here's what I made up. I'm sure a shot of Gin would only enhance the peppery coolness, if you are so inclined.

Cucumber Rose Mocktail
3-4 Cucumber slices
2 Tbs Rose Petals (fresh is key- remember darker petals have more flavor)
Good Quality Natural Tonic Water (or seltzer and supplement with honey/stevia)
Lots of ice
Cold Glass

Muddle rose petals in a glass. Basically you are trying to get the liquid out. Muddle Cucumber slices. Place in cocktail shaker (or mason jar) with tonic water. Shake/stir well.

Pour over chilled glass of ice.

Enjoy your marvelous summer day.

Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~Henry James

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Smoothie Sundays~ Banana Coconut Pie

Mmmm mmm.. Smoothies this yummy are like having dessert for lunch!

I found a bunch of forgotten banana slices in the depths of our storage freezer. All of a sudden I had a huge banana craving! I don't have them all that often. Having your banana frozen prior to blending is crucial to the milkshake consistency that makes this amaaaaaazing.

You don't have to prepare the coconut milk ahead of time.. but it is 'best.'

Banana Coconut Pie Smoothie
1 Cup Frozen Banana slices
1 Cup Almond Milk (or whatever)
3 Tbs Shredded Coconut Flakes (I use the larger, but any work-unsweetened)
1/4 of scraped Vanilla Bean (you could use maybe 1/2 tsp of extract instead.. but the bean is so intensely flavored and you get all those pretty specks!)

Splash of coconut milk for blending (optional-I just happened to run out of almond milk mid-blend).

Blend it all! Add 1-2 ice cubes to get it extra creamy! So, so delicious!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Puddings, cookies, breads, cereal, casseroles, burgers, soup, salad toppings.. I've tried just about everything with Quinoa. Most recipes were an experiment, trying to find new ways to enjoy this high protein grain (it's actually a seed).

While visiting my family, I got a couple of the women in my family converted with my favorite Quinoa/Avocado/Broccoli/Nutritional Yeast Mash. They took me to the health food store and had me walk around and answer questions about supplements and foods they've been wanting to try but didn't know what to do with.

One of my aunts started using cooked whole quinoa in her smoothies. This gave me an awesome idea, Quinoa Protein Powder! It's easy, and if you use the ivory quinoa, the taste is not overpowering (or the color). So, I just grind my quinoa into flour, store it in the fridge, and add to my smoothies!  From what I've read, and I do a lot of food research, such a high percentage of saponin is rinsed in processing that rinsing is unnecessary. But I purchase in bulk, and I'm just in the habit of rinsing everything. So, if you rinse, be sure it is completely dry (talking hours here) before grinding. This powder is super fine and can also be used to thicken soups instead of dairy or rice.

Against traditional thought, all varieties (ivory/golden/black/red) of quinoa are very close in nutritional value. True to anything red, the red quinoa is a source of Vitamin E. But then again, so does the Ivory variety! Red/black quinoa is said to have a few more grams of fiber, as well as a bit higher in calories and protein. The darker varieties seem to take a tad longer to cook, and have a stronger earthy taste (the kind of earthy feel you get from brown rice). Mostly described as 'nutty.'

The benefits seem endless! What can't this grain (SEED!) do? I won't repeat it all here. This is one of my favorite sources for a quick run down on nutritional info.

If you've been using a recipe you love over and over, but it's losing it's luster, you should check out this book. My hubby surprised me with this book when it came out and while some of the recipes are things I had tried, I was thrilled to see them! Tested recipes! Whoo! At their website you can try out recipes as they add them! Two very cool sisters wrote the book.

Last night I made one of my favorite recipes out the book. One of my girlfriends is leaving for Germany for a year (so sad! but so excited for her!). She had a going away party last night and I brought this flourless chocolate cake, topped it with my own icing recipe and freshly picked beach strawberries. It disappeared, as usual, and I finally let out the secret! I love seeing the reactions! "All this time?" haha! Some definitely felt better after knowing. However, I must say, while it is high in protein and gluten free, it is certainly not 'clean' or healthy. I have a 'cleaner' version of my own which I will post. For potlucks, I actually follow the recipe (a rarity for me). Ok, sometimes. Last night I followed it (well with the substitutions- we don't use dairy milk for example). Because it is flourless, the cake always comes out even and the recipe allows for two 8-inch cakes, so it is easily layered and Voila! you have a beautiful layer chocolate cake that doesn't take long at all!
 *Note about cooking time: Mine come out perfect at 35 minutes. I have a gas oven, so maybe that's it... but start checking at 35 minutes.

Instead of typing it out myself.. here it is. I'm positive once you try this recipe you'll buy the book. The first 10 pages are about the history, use and specifics of Quinoa. Nice resource. There is even a baby food section! Really!
The inside was even prettier!

Jo's Quinoa Chocolate Cake (variation on 365 Quinoa Recipe)
2/3 C Quinoa (white/golden/ivory)
1 1/3 C Water
1/3 C Almond Milk (instead of dairy)
4 large eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 C Coconut oil (instead of butter) (have used 1/2 C applesauce with great but dense result-cut back on sweetener)
2 tsp Stevia or 3/4 C Honey or 1/2 C Yacon (instead of 1 1/2 C Sugar)
1 C Cacao, Carob or Cocoa Powder (Cacao was really strong, I got headaches, carob was delicious, cocoa was best)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

*note about sweetener: I have tested all three. I listed them in order of preference. Honey tasted amazing, but for the cleanest option, go with stevia (dried, powdered, unprocessed is best). I have never used sugar in the cake. I use honey when I 'follow the recipe' and I still reduce it by at least 1/2 cup.
*note about Cocoa: we used to use carob in place of cocoa until I started raw foods in 2008 and found out about raw cacao. Now, I'm finding I get headaches from it, and I've been pulling away from cacao, cocoa and the like more and more. If you don't care, use Cocoa. It tasted best (and because of the theobromine, most people would get headaches from raw cacao). Theobromine is a myocardial stimulant (heart beats fast). You feel like you are on drugs if you have too much. Which makes sense now when I look back at some of the cacao loving raw foodists I met in Boone.. a little... 'wacky.'

Follow the same instructions for the recipe link above.

Ok, so everyone always wants to know about my chocolate icing. I used to make it with Agave. And started out making it with Avocado for raw brownies. It doesn't seem like it's going to work, but trust me. It will be very thin at first, once it cools.. you have control over the consistency. The colder it gets the harder. So, watch it unless you want to dirty more pans and heat it up and cool it back off again.

Basic Heart Healthy-ish Chocolate Icing
1/2 C Cocoa Powder
6 Tbs Coconut Oil
1/4 C Honey
1/2-3/4 tsp Vanilla
pinch of salt

On stove, in saucepan, melt/combine coconut oil and honey over lowest heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir to fully combine.

Add to the saucepan, vanilla, cocoa and salt. Stir well with fork. For about 3-5 minutes. It will thicken. I usually transfer this to a freezer friendly bowl, then stir. Personal preference.

Once well combined, place in freezer, and check every 10 minutes or so until thickened, but still easily spread (so you don't tear your cake!). Ice completely cool cake.  COOL! Otherwise, it drips all over and what a mess. That goes for any icing.

I like to ice my cake with the icing not too thick, then place whatever pretty yummys I want on top, THEN place in the ridge for the icing to harden (thicken) completely.

Again, to go 'cleaner' omit honey, use stevia or apple juice.
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