Purple Power Smoothie

I was in the mood for something a little different than my usual breakfast smoothie this morning. Digging through my cupboard I happened upon an open bag of raw cocoa nibs. Why I’ve been sitting on this bag of healthful jewels is a mystery to me!  I pulled them out from the basket and decided to use them as part of my smoothie!

Raw cocoa nibs provide some amazing health benefits. They are a great source of iron, manganese and copper.  Cocoa nibs are known to be one of the foods with the highest source of magnesium. They are also high in flavonoids which are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties.  Believe it or not, they even provide a good source of fiber at nine grams per ounce!  If all that good stuff isn’t enough, these little brown nibs also give you a boost of some essential minerals that we humans are often deficient of so if you’ve got these dark nibs hiding in your kitchen, pull them out and get this smoothie going!

Yesterday was my long day with work then class.  It got me home late, but because of an intense resident issue at work and my excitement over an upcoming community event I’m planning at my “home base” building, I was up even later with thoughts swirling!!  Even with a solid night of sleep, I woke up feeling a little slow to shake the brain fog.  One more thing that is fabulous about cocoa nibs is their caffeine content, though lower than the average cup of coffee, nibs provided an added boost with naturally occurring stimulants called Theobromine and Phenylethylamine, which act as mood enhancers and increase energy.  Like I said, why have I been letting these sit in my cupboard!?

I got on to making an incredible breakfast drink that is waking me up and making me feel ready for my day!  Seriously, give this a try.  It tastes great.  It’s quick and easy to throw together and it’s super satisfying.  Oh, yeah….one more thing; cocoa nibs helps stabilize blood sugars and with that good dose of fiber, your tummy will feel happily full for hours! Cocoa nibs; my new super-food of the day!

Purple Power Smoothie

small banana

1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 Tbsp flax meal

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp raw cocoa nibs

1 cup almond milk

Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass.  Enjoy!!

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Gluten Free Breakfast Tortilla

Back when I was working in the Head Start kitchen, I had an assistant that would come to work with her breakfast.  A native of Ethiopia, I often got to be the recipient of her traditional dishes she brought to eat.  She would make a type of quick tortilla that she considered a decent substitute for the time intensive injera bread, an Ethiopian staple at meals.  She would eat it with Atkilt Wot or Mesir Wot.  While I completely enjoyed these two dishes, I could not try the tortilla she made with regular white flour.  They always looked so delicious, cooked perfectly with just the right amount of browning.

I was reminiscing about my old kitchen assistant, who became a wonderful friend in the time we worked together.  Remembering her food gave me a craving and I just had to give these tortillas a try.  After trying a few different flour combinations, I decided that sticking with a single type of flour works best.  I really liked the Chickpea flour version I made because the texture was spot on, but the flavor wasn’t quite what I was going for.  I ended up just trying Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour and while I am not as excited by the texture, the flavor is perfect and just what I had in mind.

They are so quick and easy to make and when scrambled eggs and spinach get added in, the combination is fantastic!  Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It starts great with this delicious meal!

Try it for yourself.  It just takes:

3 1/2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour (or chickpea flour)

3 1/2 Tbsp cool water

mix together until thoroughly combined and smooth in texture.  Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into a skillet.  I used olive oil.  Swirl around the pan to coat, pre-heat the pan and when ready, pour tortilla batter into pan.  Use a spatula to spread the batter about 6-7″ round.  I like mine to be crepe thin and I think it gets the best consistency.  Cook on each side for about 2 minutes.  Remove from pan, add scrambled eggs and spinach!  To prepare my egg, I cracked one egg in a pan, scrambled it up a bit, tossed in thinly sliced spinach leaves, scrambled until done.  Added a little sea salt and freshly crushed peppercorns…boom! Enjoy breakfast!

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Breakfast For Dinner-A Mother’s Day Tribute

This is the second Mother’s Day without my mom here.  This day brings such bittersweet memories with a touch of extra sadness as I think of the recent death of my bff’s mother. All the firsts; they really are the hardest.  Today has been a day of reflection for me.  I enjoyed breakfast with some of the family, then treated myself to a clothes shopping spree, something I rarely do.  Although I chatted with both my kids today, I missed them more than usual…wishing that they lived just a little bit closer.  I felt an underlying sadness most of the day even though I was having fun throughout it.

One of the things I fondly remember when my kids were young was our monthly tradition of breakfast for dinner.  It was the one dinner I knew my kids would eat without argument and I enjoyed making a comforting dinner that was quick, delicious and affordable.  As a single parent, all these things are valuable to quality of life and sanity!

Once home, I really wanted to bring myself back to a content state of mind so I put my new kitchen island to the test.  Recently gifted to me in the same magical way I have been receiving things the past several months, it was not in perfect condition.  It needed a good cleaning, a bit of tightening for stability and refinishing of the butcher block top.  Freshly rejuvenated by me with a little help from a friend.  I am very proud of my DIY kitchen island make over.  It still needs a couple of finishing touches but is usable and as of this morning, sits prominently in my kitchen area.  Happy Mother’s Day to me!!  It worked beautifully as I prepared my own breakfast for dinner to celebrate myself…well, and the fact that I have two amazing kids who call me mom.  That makes my heart very happy.

Today, I say thank you to my kids, grown and paving their own way in this world.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.  I am such a proud mama, a heart overflowing with love and gratitude.  As a tribute to them and to my mom, who would scoff at breakfast for dinner.  “Why, that is not the way you do things!”  I can hear her saying it.  I raise my fork to you, mom….I secretly think she would love breakfast for dinner.

It was fantastic.  I am content.  Back at my happy place.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Every day.

My finished project!!  Looking good!

My finished project!! Looking good!

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Pancakes

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cups brown rice flour

1/8 cup almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 Tbsp Xanthan gum

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

whisk ingredients together in a small bowl

1 egg

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

whisk together in a small until well incorporated and small bubbles form around edges of bowl

whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Mix until blended.  Let sit for 5 mins.  Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into a cup and pour into well oiled pan, preheated on medium heat.  Let brown until bubbles form on top, flip, cook for 5 more mins.  Plate with your choice of topping.

Frittata

whisk 5 eggs, your choice of spices and 1/2 cup almond milk in a medium bowl.  Saute diced onions, green onions and carrots.  Line the bottom of an 8×4 shallow glass casserole dish (greased) with onion mixture, spread a lay of baby spinach across the top of the mixture, covering it completely. Pour egg mixture over all of it, making sure all veggies are covered well.  Top with cheese, dairy free or not at all!!  Bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees.  Enjoy

Breakfast.  It’s what’s for dinner.

Simple In A Box

Every now and then I feel like keeping it simple and having boxed cereal for breakfast. Personally, a cold cereal breakfast generally doesn’t cut it for me.  I’m just hungry in an hour.  My body needs a good hearty nutrient filled meal to get moving so I often take time to make a hot breakfast.  However, I have found a new brand of cereal popping up on my local grocer’s shelves called Freedom Foods.  I thought I would give it a try.  Honestly, it was the sale price that lured me to purchase it.  Now, I have to say that no one is paying me to say this or give a review.  Really, I have found this fantastic cereal that is simple, healthful and hearty.  First off, it has only 9 ingredients.  That includes the less than 2% of salt and sunflower oil.  It has 5 grams of fiber per serving and it’s free from all the highest allergens.  It is low in sugar and sodium.  There are no GMO’s.  This cereal is wholesome.  I love the serious crunch factor.  The flakes are thick and requires some serious chewing. It’s got a great flavor and overall this cereal is the good stuff.  I feel like I am getting a nutritious meal, not just a bowl of cereal.  My only “complaint” is that it is made in Australia so the environmental footprint to get it here to the states is less than desirable.

It’s a dreary, rainy morning and I didn’t get the best night of sleep.  I am feeling slow and sluggish.  An unopened box of cereal and a ripe banana seemed like a perfect quick fix for my hunger.  Easy.  Simple.  Good.  Here’s how I “made” my breakfast:

Freedom Foods Ancient Grain Flakes, topped with sliced bananas & a light drizzle of raw agave syrup.  Pour over unsweetened almond milk.  See, simple!  Ok, I know that’s not really a recipe.  Honestly, I am mostly writing this post to keep myself structured and set the pace for the rest of my day.  Lack of sleep and dreary weather, coupled with this emotional time of year for me can be a toxic combination.  I just don’t want to go down that road today.  I want to feel good, so I am starting the day with this post.  Oh, and the cereal.

Take a moment to peruse the cereal isle next time you are grocery shopping.  I highly recommend giving this brand a try. There are several variations to choose from.

A glass of lemon coconut water and a quality cup of coffee complete this breakfast!

A glass of lemon coconut water and a quality cup of coffee complete this breakfast!

Perfect Plum Bread

I have been playing around in my kitchen a lot these days. I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of different dishes just for the fun of seeing what I come up with.  I have dared to stretch my imagination and use my creativity to adapt recipes that suit my dietary guidelines, or even more exciting: make up my own recipe!

I finally have time to use my kitchen as my playground all day long if I choose because I recently decided to quit my job.  There were a lot of factors that entered into this decision and many conversations with my sweetie before I chose to go bold and make my exit while I still had some sanity.  The new school year and the new kitchen brought new insights for me.  It became too difficult for me to knowingly compromising my morals on a daily basis. Additionally, I could no longer contain my repugnance at such a broken system.  I had too many concerns and no influence to create change.  The heaviness of it all made me tired and stressed every day.  For my own mental health and really, to say “this is not okay”, I chose to leave my job.  I left on good terms and I will continue to have connections to the people I worked with closely.  It was the best decision I could have made.  I was no longer happy in my work.  From the moment I gave my notice, I felt a lightness in my entire being. It continues into my third week of job freedom.  I have been healing my overworked body and enjoying a slower pace.  Physically, I feel so much better and have more energy. Mentally, I have more focus and definitely more calmness in my mind.

I am deeply grateful I have the option of quitting my job and explore other creative outlets for a while.  There are some new opportunities that have recently been presented to me and I am eager to network with like minds.  I feel excited for new discoveries.  And of course, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen.  So, let’s get back to that!

I purchased some plums at the local farmers market, ate a few then was going out of town so I just popped them in the freezer whole.  I had never tried this before, but I must say it was quite a successful freeze and thawed much like bananas.

I adapted this recipe from the “Eat Right For Your Type” Cookbook.  When I first began my gluten free life transition, I relied heavily on this book to guide me toward healthier choices for my body.  I made this recipe often and always received compliments on it so I wanted to give it a try again to take on our recent trip to Seattle.  However, this time I wanted to make it completely dairy and gluten free with no oats.  I did some substituting and came out with a really lovely bread that has a great texture and consistency, just the way I like a sweet bread to be.  The batter, which had a thick, gummy consistency going into the pan worried me at first.  My experience has been that means the end product will be dense and doughy.   However, it is moist without the gritty texture I often find in GF baked goods.  I was really happy with the outcome.

Here is the original recipe version from “Cook Right For Your Type”[author-Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo;copyright 1999] : 

Banana-Plum Bread

1 cup spelt flour

3/4 cup oat flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

5 Tbsp. softened butter

2/3 c turbinado sugar

1-2 tsp grated lemon rind

1 to 2 eggs, beaten

1 cup mashed banana

3 ripe plums, diced

1/2 to 1 cup walnuts, broken into pieces

I prepared it in the same way as the cook book describes except I used only 1- 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan and I sprayed mine with oil versus coating the pan with butter.

Here’s my adaption:

Plum Bread

1 cup AP Gluten Free flour {I used a brand called Namaste that I purchased from Costco}

3/4 cup almond meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

5 Tbsp soy free Earth Balance spread

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

2 tsp grated lemon rind

1 egg, beaten

6 medium sized ripe plums (fresh, frozen then defrosted) or just fresh!, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.  Sift flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt into one bowl.  In another bowl, blend “butter”, sugar and lemon rind until creamy.  Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three parts, mix until just combined after each addition.  Fold in plums.  Pour into prepared loaf pan.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack.  Slices very well.

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In The Beginning, There Was Breakfast

Here’s what started my day and fueled me for the long drive home yesterday morning.  I had some coconut flavored almond yogurt mixed with banana slices, my home made sunbutter crunch and some hemp seeds.  The combination was delightful and gave me the energy and focus to power through my day so I could finally be home.  My determination was relentless. I succeeded.

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I woke up in my own bed this morning to cat paws tapping my eye lids urging me to get up. Mind you, it was only 4:30am, but it was the sweetest and happiest wake up I could have had.  I have a day filled with things to do and take care of so here’s what will get me going today.

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There is a combination of veggies (about 3 cups total) including two types of baby kale, arugula, baby spinach, red cabbage, red onion slices, carrot shreds and sliced zucchini, all sauteed in a tablespoon of coconut oil.  I rarely eats eggs, but I decided today will be an egg day and scrambled an organic free range brown egg into the sauteed greens.  I sprinkled some basil, fresh ground pepper, a little garlic and sea salt then tossed about 1/8 cup of hemp seeds over the whole mix and gave it a stir.  I swear those little hemp seeds give me power!

It is so good to be home and it is great to have fresh, home cooked food.  Fuel up with breakfast every morning and try adding some hemp seeds to whatever you eat.  In addition to the delicious nutty flavor it provides, you’ll be giving your heart a healthy dose of omega fatty acids, boosting your immune system and reducing overall fatigue.  Who doesn’t need that?!  So, get to sprinkling! Remember, breakfast is the most important meal to re-fuel you after your night of sleep and give you the pep you need to get your day going right.

I am providing the recipe for my sunbutter crunch; one of my favorite road trip foods.  I replaced the honey with brown rice syrup.

Gluten Free Sunbutter Crunch Granola Recipe

Ingredients

¼ cup creamy sunbutter (or any nut butter)
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with gluten-free non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the Sunbutter and honey in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the Sunbutter has melted. Stir in the vanilla, oats and salt. Make sure all the oats are coated with the Sunbutter mixture. Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared cookies sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking. Let cool. Mixture will become crunchy as it cools.

Servings:

A gluten free recipe that makes 8 – ¼ cup servings.

(adapted from this original recipe: http://simplygluten-free.com/blog/2013/01/gluten-free-sunbutter-crunch-granola-recipe.html)

Wake Up Smoothie

Well, It’s official.  I am on my summer break!  It’s also Friday and I need to get myself motivated to go out into this nasty morning weather so I can cross some things off my “to do” list.

I spent yesterday being a complete slug.  The weather was horrible and so was my mood. I’m not sure why I wasn’t skipping around and celebrating my new freedom from work. Instead I sulked and stayed in my pajamas until the afternoon.  Even with the ho hums, I managed to get some essential things complete in preparation for my upcoming road trip.  It was just really difficult to will myself out of the house.  Today is a different story.   I have places to go and people to see.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I begin my day and I could easily sit in my pj’s and melt into the recliner.  The gloomy weather is certainly not enticing me to move from my comfy spot.  I know that in this moment my day of errands seems tedious.  When I get it done I will be thankful for doing it and grateful to be a few steps closer to  getting on the road.

In addition to a little self talk to motivate my mind, I am finding it necessary to motivate my body by fueling it with a super food green smoothie.  My sluggish brain needs a boost and this naturally sweet, creamy drink has energy producing hemp seeds to set me in the right direction for the day.

Here is what I call my Wake Up Smoothie:

1 banana

3/4 cup frozen mango chunks

2 Tablespoons hemp seeds

1 cup chopped kale

6 ounces unsweetened almond milk

Blend together in bullet or blender until smooth and creamy.  Drink and wake up!

Cheers to Friday!  Double cheers to summer!!  I am waking up and it’s time to get going!

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