Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Favorite Chewy Granola Bars

Every time I make these I wonder why I don't do it more often. They never last very long and I'm finding myself trying to scrounge up enough leftover nuts and seeds from around the kitchen to make at least two cups. This batch is going to quickly found its way to the freezer, as they were airplane food for our trip! You never know what kind of food will be available in airports, and we are fortunate enough to have had a long enough layover in Vancouver to venture out and find somewhere for lunch. It was a long day. And I like to eat.

1 2/3 cups certified gluten free oats
½ cup sucanat
1/3 cup gf flour blend of choice
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
2-2.5 cups dried fruits and nuts*

1/3 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, sunflower etc)
1 tsp+ home made vanilla (I always use lots!)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup honey or agave

* dried cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, pecans, sesame, flax, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, etc

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an  8×8 pan with cooking spray and then line pan in both directions with parchment paper.

Mix together the first 5 ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer), mix together vanilla, coconut oil, honey/agave & nut butter.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.

Spread in the pan, and press down firmly with a spatula.

Bake bars for about 35 minutes, until starting to brown around the edges.

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Trust me on this- they WILL fall apart if they're even slightly warm. Wait until the next day if you can!


Check out more allergy friendly recipes at this week's Allergy Free Wednesdays Bloghop! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Maui: Surfing Goat Dairy

Ever since I came across a link to the “Surfing Goat Dairy” while researching things to do on our trip, I was smitten. The baby goats (kids) were lined up on a surfboard on the homepage of their website and man were they adorable! Ask Mr.C, he’ll tell you that all he’s been hearing about for the last three weeks is the baby goats. The dairy had a “grand tour” scheduled for Saturday morning, and despite the fact that we didn’t arrive on the island until 10:30 the night before, we were bound & determined to get ourselves to the goats for 9am. And we did.

After a bit of the scenic route through the highcountry of Maui, we arrived (just in the nick of time) at the dairy for the tour. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the description on the facebook event wasn’t terribly well, descriptive. It wasn’t exactly the glamorized petting zoo I had expected. It was so much more.

Around ten after nine a group of about 20 of us began the grand tour. There were only two children in the group, the rest adults ranging from our age (mid-20’s) to Gigi (80 this year). After a general info session about goats & the dairy, we headed over to the milking table for a demonstration & hands-on milking experience. It was so much fun! By the time I got to milk Shannon (the demo-goat), it seemed that all of her milk was gone (after all, she had already been milked that morning). Once Eva (the owner) was done the demo, she milked-out Shannon the rest of the way. I’ll need to work on my goat milking skills it seems.

Once we were done there (which was when Shannon kicked over the bucket of milk unexpectedly), the owner let the goats out of the holding pen and we herded them (along with a handful of sheepdogs- goatdogs?) out to pasture for the afternoon. We then headed back for a lesson in cheese-making.

Thomas (the other owner) gave us an overly thorough lecture on everything from the type of pasteurizer they use (imported from Austria) and why they pasteurize to the temperatures they do (150.8F/66C). He went thoroughly into the topic of raw milk and enzymes which I was pretty impressed about. Raw milk is illegal in Hawaii, and they get several phone calls a day from people looking for it, so he was well versed on the subject. He told us about their sterilization routine which was impressively thorough. This company makes cheeses for a boatload of the high end hotels & restaurants here in Hawaii as well some in the continental US so they need to have their systems down.

After our q&a session about cheesemaking, we sat down to actually taste the cheese. I had contacted the company ahead of time with regard to my gluten free needs which they were more than happy to accommodate. We tried every item they have for sale with the exception of their cheesecake (which we purchased & took home anyways), and a handful of the higher end products (think goat cheese with gold flakes and chevre with black truffle!). We ended up spending nearly $80 on cheese on our way out! But realistically, some of that was chocolate, some was birthday cake and it was ALL good!

I can’t say enough about this tour that we went on, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who is able to consume goat’s dairy. Even if you’ve never had it, or are weary- try it, you’ll love it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: April 19-25

Boy am I glad we don't buy our meat from the grocery store (most of the time).

Wouldn't it be awesome if all the overweight & obese kids in the US took on a project like this to learn a little?

How concerned are you about mercury? Do you eat seafood?

Hmm.... this is exactly what happens to your heart too.....

Not just a midnight snack.

How culinary culture became a pop phenomenon.

Childhood eating disorders (yes I'm talking anorexia!) are on the rise (this is the under 13 age group!). There are only a few places I can think of where children this young might be influenced to do things like this... I smell poor parenting.

I've always loved the neon green Jell-O pistachio pudding, but alas- artificial colors! Maybe this recipe can fulfill my void!

I'm not so sure I completely agree with this, but I'm also not about to stop eating lobster...

Do you know how much bacteria lives in your intestines? I'll give you a hint: you can measure it in pounds (P.S. This is not weight you want to lose)! Here's a blurb on the three different types of gut bacteria people there are & how it affects your health.

Sure food costs are rising, but it's really not that bad!

Check out these awesome easter eggs! Ooh, and these ones too! And these... & these

found here
The English language is a funny thing...

Do you eat conventional breakfast cereals? Or keep in the house for the kids? You may want to reconsider!

Preggers? Here's an interesting article about what mama eats when baby is in the womb and how that affects the little ones' DNA. Yep- the baby's DNA changes! 

And the effects that pesticides have on your unborn baby. Go organic!

100 greatest cooking tips of all time!

Interesting read: The Joy of Not Cooking.

This is a great idea that all restaurants should get on board with!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Maui: U.S. Customs

Le Sigh. We're en route to our tropical destination today, and after spending a lovely afternoon in Vancouver, we decided we'd best head for the airport so that we had plenty of time to get through customs. The abnormally cheery customs guy took one look at my apples & I knew it was headed downhill from there.

You see, I took the stickers off the apples and washed them before we left the house. However, because there are no (plastic) stickers on them (indicating their origin) I had to leave them behind. I mentioned that I can't eat airplane food due to my celiac disease, but I didn't have a note indicating that I did in fact have the disease. I told him I could write my own note because I'm a nutritionist, but he wasn't terribly amused. And that was that.

On the bright side, we had lunch at Whole Foods this afternoon. There are only a handful of Whole Foods in Canada (in Toronto & Vancouver only) so I've never been to one! Fortunately there is one located near the airport in Maui, but we arrive at 9:30 pm tonight, so we'll have to try to get over there another day. In the meantime, conventional food will have to suffice in this airport world of fast food joints & duty free junk...

Earth Day Fail

Yep, that's right. Today of all days is the day that we spend hurtling through the atmosphere toward our warm & tropical destination. Sorry Mother Earth. I guess I'll just have to spend the remaining days of the year making up for it. Like I would be doing anyways...

I may or may not be caught hugging trees on this trip.

That's right, we're headed to the island of Maui in Hawaii for two weeks! There shall be lots of juicy pineapple bits of blogging wonder along the way (I wouldn't dream of leaving you out in the cold!) so stay tuned :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Candied Lemons

Sunday morning we woke up to no internet. Usually on lazy mornings I hang out in bed with my laptop sometimes for hours at a time. Seemingly that wasn't going to be happening. After all kinds of bad words and phone calls to the family techie we were still out of luck. Many (many!) suggestions of phoning our internet provider were made before they actually occurred, and as usual I was right. It wasn't some wayward router redirect. A gas station outside of town blew up and it happened to be right next to our internet providers main hub. We would have no internet for the rest of the day- what to do?

WEEKS ago, I bought a bag of lemons thinking I would use them for some wonderful series of recipes. Yesterday the majority of them were still lurking in the kitchen, getting harder as the days went by. They weren't quite to the point of needing to throw them out though, so I candied them. Without direction of course. How hard could it be?

Not hard at all actually...

Lemons, sliced as thin as you can (be careful if you're using a mandolin... mine has it out for me!)
Simple syrup (equal parts sugar dissolved in water) to cover

In the widest pot or pan you've got

Bring to a simmer. This recipe says you only need 15-20 minutes, but mine were on the stove for at least two hours. And they're amazing. "Just like candy" I said after trying the first one. Mr.C said "That's because they're candied lemons." Oh. I guess he's right...

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Round 10

1. Hummus container w/seal
2. 7 pieces dental floss (not shown)
3. Garbage bags for the weeks trash (not shown)
4. 2 Seals from cartons of almond milk
5. Various stickers on fruit
6. Olive oil tin (plastic spout)
7. Smoked salmon package (sushi!)
8. Seal from container of hair serum
9. Broccoli slaw bag (who can resist half price?)
10. Greens powder container
11. 6 instant noodles packages & wrapping from the case (that's all of em'!)
12. Jugs of fuel injector cleaner & washer fluid during oil change (not shown)
13. Cucumber wrapping
14. Juice box straw
15. Hollandaise sauce mix
16. Bag & wrappers from Halloween candy (Caramels)
17. GF Bun bag (from Christmas)
18. Tortilla chip bag
19. 2 Herb containers
20. Styrofoam takeout containers (someone didn't finish their dinner...)
21. Produce bag (pre-packaged by a vendor at the farmers market)
22. Salad bin & seal
23. Caramilk bunnies wrapper (yup, there was a slip-up)
24. 2 restaurant straws (not shown)
25. 2 restaurant mint wrappers (not shown)
26. 2 restaurant dip cups (not shown)
27. Agave (glass) bottle lid
28. Seal from new bottle of agave
29. Goat cheese package
30. Bandaids & wrappers (Not shown)

We're leaving in a handful of days, so we've been slightly more creative than usual with trying to use up some of the odds & ends in the fridge & freezer this week. Normally we wouldn't use hollandaise sauce (for example) but we had some smoked salmon leftover from sushi (AND pizza!) so we made salmon benny's!

I won't be tallying next weeks plastic since we leave on Friday for warmer climates. (But here's last week's plastic trash.) I will however make an effort to keep track of everything that we discard throughout the entirety of our trip (2 weeks). I'm excited to face the challenges that traveling will bring! I have to remember- no straws! I always forget...

In the meantime however, here are a few little bits of plasticky info:

What to do?

Have you seen The Story of Stuff? Or any of the other subsequent informative films?

This is some really cool new technology to avoid using plastics. I love it!

How to ingest less plastic (who knew you were ingesting any to begin with?)

Here's a bit more info about the types of plastics you may be ingesting (and where the heck they're coming from!) Sadly were not the only ones ingesting this stuff though...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: April 04-10, 2011

The inconvenient truth... Have you read The Omnivore's Dilemma?  I recommend it!

Is organic wine really better for the environment?

When we finally find the antique waffle iron of our dreams, we'll make these. And these (but gluten free of course!) 

Are you a moderator or an abstainer?

Eating Locally?

Do you consume soy? The debate rages on...

Slideshow: Best of green food & health

Have you heard the recent news regarding artificial colors?

How to reduce the amount of BPA in your body.

An awesome way to start your seedlings. It is that time of year! What are you planting?

Do you ever feel like you're addicted to particular foods?

When buying from the store, how do you tell when bread was baked?

Do you chew gum? Maybe think about quitting...

Pour on the (maple) syrup- it's good for you?

...Or is it?

Your sweet tooth could be inherited!

It seems that the number of genius bloggers from Boulder, CO is ever growing! These look amazing!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breakfast: Home Made (Almost) Raw Granola

Strangely enough, as a child one of my moms pantry staples was a no-name brand bag of almond & raisin granola. It was more of a last resort breakfast when there was seemingly nothing else. But I loved it. I seem to remember it being one of those things that I didn't eat often, but when I did I always wondered why I didn't eat it more frequently.

Flash forward to about 3 years ago, when I was struggling to figure out why my body was doing the obscure things it was doing. I kept a box of this amazing granola in my desk & ate it for breakfast every morning. I would sometimes have one of these tasty little pies for lunch, or there was always the pizza place down the street. Gluten, gluten everywhere...

When I learned that oats were somewhat of a no-no for someone who has just learned that they can't eat wheat, I was somewhat conflicted. And while I've never been completely "oat-free", I don't seem to have the troubles with them that others do.

Nowadays, Boston Pizza is a short drive away for fresh gluten free pizza (even though my pizza crust is better), but my granola craving is satisfied in the warmth of my own kitchen. People seem to think I'm some crazy hippie when I happen to mention that I make my own granola, but it's really just easier (and cheaper than any gluten free granola I've ever seen for sale).

6 cups uncontaminated oats
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
healthy splash of home made vanilla
shredded coconut (optional)
good sprinkling of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl until the oats are completely coated.

Dump part of the mixture onto a baking sheet (a jelly roll pan with edges works better here than one without edges- reduces spillage). Don't put too much on at once, you want one thin layer, spread out to cover the entire sheet (You'll need to do 3+ cookie sheets worth, unless you have unusually sized sheets).

Bake for 7 minutes, flip & bake for an additional 7. Keep a close eye on them during the last few minutes of baking, as ovens do vary (but 3 different ovens in 3 different cities peg me at 7 minutes every time ;).

You'll notice after the first half of the baking that the oats closer to the edges of the cookie sheet become browned faster than the ones in the middle. Be sure to rotate the browned ones into the middle & vice versa.

See how the edges are just getting toasted?

If you're doing two pans at a time, rotate the pans between the top & bottom racks in the oven to prevent burning.

Repeat until all of your oats have been toasted.

Before & After

Let your oats cool fully before adding in the rest of the ingredients, otherwise the healthy oils in your nuts & seeds can turn into not-so-healthy oils

Now, I know that your house smells absolutely amazing right now & you're probably feeling the urge to have a bowl right now, but please take my word on this and don't. Warm granola isn't the best plan I'd ever had. "Warm out of the oven" seems like a no-brainer for anything resembling baking, but trust me on this... it makes the almond milk warm and really, it's just gross. 

I have found that a ratio of 6 cups oats to 8-9 cups of nuts/seeds is ideal for me. But I'll warn you- this breakfast cereal requires adequate chewing! After a big bowl, your jaw might be sore if you're not used to it. Add up the rest of your ingredients as you see fit. Great add-ins include:

sunflower seeds
slivered almonds
pumpkin seeds
brazil nuts

Nuts & seeds such as these are an awesome vegan source of protein & fiber along with all kinds of vitamins & minerals. Did you know that brazil nuts are the best food source of selenium around? AND they're awesome chopped up in granola! Since your nuts are raw, you're going to benefit from the enzymes as well. Walnuts are good for your brain, and pumpkin seeds support your prostate (if you've got one!).

Smaller ingredients such as hemp hearts & sesame seeds (which pack an amazing calcium punch) are best sprinkled onto the cereal on a bowl by bowl basis. Otherwise they sink down to the bottom of the storage container & are only included in your last bowl. Upon serving, I also enjoy dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins and a good splash of almond or coconut milk.

6 cups of oats plus 9 cups of nuts/seeds makes a LOT of granola! You can probably throw a bunch of this stuff in the freezer in (an) airtight container(s) or bag(s) until you run out of your stash in the fridge.  DO keep it in the fridge by the way, to preserve those healthy nut oils! All raw nuts should be stored away from light, heat & air. Consider this when you're buying them from the store too. Unrefrigerated bulk bin nuts & seeds aren't your best choice...

THIS on the other hand IS your best choice for an awesome breakfast!