spelt balls with figs, apricots, walnuts and pumpkin seeds


This Valentines Day I wanted to create something special for my partner, a healthy treat to enjoy with a good cup of coffee or tea at work… My recipe was inspired by Speltbolletje that we img_3805-1stumbled upon in December at an open air morning market while on vacation in Amsterdam– a local woman waiting beside me said they were the Best item made by the Best baker at the market. Her guidance was great, the Speltbolletje were delicious!

I could translate the words on the signs, and then guess how to create my own… Here’s my first attempt. YUM! These are a good texture and sweet with the dried fruit, so delicious with dark coffee for breakfast, or tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. I think all I’d do differently next time is swap out a little of the dates for more walnuts, and double or triple the recipe.

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To make a less sweet version, I think I’ll try using some juicy fresh orange instead of the banana, reduce the maple syrup by half, add more walnuts and also sunflower seeds?

ingredients:

  • 1 c spelt flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t each nutmeg, coriander and allspice
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • generous 1/3 c dried black Mission figs, chopped
  • 1/4 c dried Turkish apricots, chopped
  • scant 1/4 c dried Medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/4 c yellow raisins
  • scant 1/4 c walnuts, chopped
  • about 2/3 c raw pumpkin seeds

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter and coconut oil over low heat, then add maple syrup, let cool a bit. Combine flour, oats, and spices, stir together well. Beat egg, add mashed banana, then beat together well with melted butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. Add in flour mixture and mix briefly and gently, then add all chopped fruit and walnuts. Stir together well, but stir as little as possible. Lightly butter a baking sheet. Shape dough into a ball in your hand, then roll in pumpkin seeds pressing firmly enough that the pumpkin seeds will stay in place after baking. I baked for 10 minutes, rotated my pan, then baked for another 5 minutes– and the balls then passed my first toothpick test. My taster ball was delicious right out of the oven! This recipe made 10, each ball about 2 1/4-2 1/2 inch in size.

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buckwheat pumpkin bread with cranberries & yellow raisins


Wanting to further explore baking gluten free and jonesing for pumpkin bread that is healthy, I searched but couldn’t find a recipe that meet all my criteria when I think of “healthy”. I wanted to avoid making a dense flat bread as sometimes happens with gluten free recipes. I did not want a cakey bread or a loaf that would crumble apart or was oily, and I didn’t want to use sugar or honey. I did want to use black strap molasses and all the spices that smell so wonderful, with pumpkin and cranberries because, well really, it’s the end of October, it’s cold and rainy and I want a healthy hearty slice of toasted bread with soup for dinner, or for a dessert treat with a good cup of tea. I took a swing and … oh my, this rose beautifully, holds together well, and is so good!

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ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 generous t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1 generous cup canned organic pumpkin puree
  • 3 T butter, melted
  • 1 T organic coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 T organic maple syrup
  • 1 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup yellow raisins

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Measure and combine the buckwheat flour, oat flour, and the spices, stirring together well. Melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Beat the eggs, then mix in the mashed banana, the molasses and maple syrup, the melted butter and oil, and pumpkin. Alternately add the flour and spice mixture with the cranberries, walnuts and raisins, stirring lightly just until fully mixed.

Lightly butter a baking pan–I used a glass 8.5 x 5 x 3 inch pan– then fill 2/3 with batter. Bake 45 minutes, check with a toothpick and continue baking another 10 minutes or so   until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. I sliced this thickly into 11 slices then wrapped the loaf in wax paper in a freezer bag. It freezes well. I did the math, and it came out to 204 calories per slice, with 4 g of fiber and 6 g of protein.

buckwheat zucchini walnut bread


Of course with all the zucchini in my garden I wanted to make zucchini bread! Served toasted with sunflower seed butter for a simple breakfast, or with Tomato and Serrano Pepper soup for a warming dinner– yes, I have lots of tomatoes and hot peppers in my garden too…

I wanted to make something hearty and healthy, gluten free: buckwheat is indeed gluten free (it’s not a member of the wheat family) and packs a healthy dose of protein and fiber. Here’s what I came up with– the carrot and raisins were a nod to my partner who especially likes them.

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ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • generous 1/2 cup oat flour
  • scant 1/2 cup regular oats
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • slim 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/4 t each nutmeg and cardamom
  • packed 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 1/2 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 1 T coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • scant 2 T honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins

instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate zucchini into colander, squeeze out water, then set aside to allow to drain further. Grate carrot. Set aside. Measure and combine the buckwheat flour, oat flour, and cut oats, and the spices, stirring together well. Melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Mash the banana then beat together with the eggs, then mix in the melted butter and oil and honey. Alternately add the flour and spice mixture with the grated vegetables, walnuts and raisins, stirring lightly just until fully mixed.

Lightly butter a baking pan, then fill 2/3 with batter. Bake about 40 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan on rack for five minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely. I sliced this thickly then wrapped the loaf in wax paper in a freezer bag. It freezes well.

a wee bit Irish with potatoes, cabbage, mustard and a twist


Indeed I’ve got a wee bit of Irish heritage. Of course cooking a big pot of food to share is a fine thing to do, for a gathering of friends at St Patrick’s Day or any other time…

ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium sized red potatoes, cut into chunky cubes
  • 1/2-1 head green cabbage, chopped into 1/4″ ribbons
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 t black mustard seeds
  • 1 c walnuts
  • 1 c or so fresh cranberries

instructions:

Saute cubed tempeh in a large heavy bottom frying pan in 2 T olive oil until lightly browned and crispy outside but still moist inside. Set aside in a large serving bowl with lid. Add another 1-2 T olive oil to the pan, add the mustard seeds, then as they begin popping add the red potatoes, onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned; then add 1-2 T water, cover and steam on reduced heat until the red potatoes are soft but not mushy. Set aside with the tempeh. In the same frying pan over medium heat, saute the chopped green cabbage and yellow pepper for about 3 minutes, only until it brightens and softens just a wee bit. Add these to the other ingredients in the serving dish, mix all together well. When ready to serve, heat the 1 c fresh cranberries in just a little water in the microwave briefly or over low heat on the stovetop, only until they brighten and soften just a bit, slightly warmed. Serve these and walnuts generously as garnish. This will keep covered in the refrigerator well for a day or two, although likely there will be no leftovers.

Cooking the cabbage a bit reduces its goitrogenic factor when serving this to those who have low thyroid function. The tempeh and walnuts increase the protein sufficiently for vegetarians making this a “one pot” meal. I buy and freeze cranberries when they are plentiful and on sale during the holidays, then pull them out of the freezer for recipes such as this, to add a pop of tangy flavor and vitamin C.

savory crepes (holiday shared cooking fun)


ingredients:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • dash salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • butter for frying

filings:

  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4-12 medium jalapeno w seeds, diced
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 granny smith apple, chopped
  • 1 d’anjou pear, chopped
  • pecans, pistachios, or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • feta, gorgonzola or Toscano pepper cheese
  • raisins or chopped turkish apricots
  • cream cheese or soft avocado as garnish

IMG_5089Prepare the batter an hour or two before making the crepes, as the flour particles expand when the batter stands, which provides for lighter crepes. Sift together the flour and salt. In another bowl, beat eggs lightly with a wire whisk, then stir in milk. Beat the liquid gradually into the sifted dry ingredients. Beat vigorously for 2-3 minutes to make a smooth batter. The batter should be very light, the consistency of heavy cream. If any lumps remain, strain batter through a sieve. Cover and set aside in refrigerator to rest.

 

Ideally use a heavy bottomed iron pan with sloping sides (to make it easier to turn the crepes), of about 5-10 inches in diameter. An enameled 6.5in base cast iron skillet is what I happened to have, and it worked well, making a not too big, not too small sized crepe. Heating the pan evenly and thoroughly is the first secret to making a good crepe; success also is a function of using the exact amount of batter needed for the size of the pan, so it covers but is not too thick. Thin crepes are good crepes! Brush or rub the entire surface of the pan with butter, heating it briskly until hot but not smoking. Remove from heat, holding it in the air, while pouring a small amount of batter- about 2-3 T or a small soup ladle worth, in the middle of the pan, concurrently tilting to spread the batter to cover the pan surface. If you have too much batter and some is left over after the bottom surface of the pan is covered, pour it back into the batter bowl. Set pan over medium heat to cook, about 2- minutes, until the top of the crepe is dry and the bottom side begins to turn lightly brown (check this by lifting one corner of the crepe with a spatula.) Flip the crepe, then cook on the second side about 1-2 minutes. Tip the crepe out onto a serving plate. Repeat until all batter has been used; this made 12 moderate sized crepes.

Saute the onion and jalapeno pepper in a little olive oil, then add 1/2-1 Braeburn or Granny Smith apple. Add a little rosemary and balsamic vinegar, turn heat down, cover and reduce for several minutes. Remove from heat.

IMG_5086We played with different combinations of filings using the onion and apple balsamic mixture as base filler, including feta with roasted pumpkin seeds; apricot with pistachios; pear and gorgonzola with pecans; pear with Toscano pepper cheese and raisins. Place filled crepes in warming dish, warm all before serving. Both the soft avocado and cream cheese were wonderful garnishes at the table. (I would omit the last minute addition of cheddar garnish next time.)

Served with an arugula, pomegranate, feta and walnut salad, this was a hearty brunch. Also a very happy and fun Christmas morning shared cooking…new tradition. (Crepe cooking instructions found in The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono & Maria Stacho 1969 found on my mother’s kitchen bookshelf when I closed down her house this last year.)

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Apple Crisp with lots of spices, nuts & seeds


Our holiday traditions include apple crisp for breakfast on Christmas morning. When my apple crispdaughter was little, I’d prepare this the night before so that in the morning when she awakened, I could simply turn on the oven and move the pyrex baking dish from the refrigerator to the oven as it pre-heated, turning my attention fully to her joy of sleigh bells and the stockings that Santa had filled….

Ingredients:

  • 4-5  medium granny smith apples
  • 1 1/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup or so each walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunfllower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 1-2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cardamon
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/4 t clove
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 1 T molasses and 1 T maple syrup

Instructions:

Melt butter, mix with oats, nuts, seeds, spices, molasses, and maple syrup. Stir together well.  Pare half of apples into large baking dish, top with half of oats mixture. Pare remaining apples into baking dish, top with remainder of oats mixture. This can be stored in refrigerator overnight to bake in morning. Immediately before baking, add 1/4 cup of apple cider, water and a splash of lemon juice. Cook covered in 365 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until apples are soft but not mushy. May want to cook last 5 minutes uncovered. Serve topped with plain non-fat yogurt and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. This smells divine, makes a wonderful hearty vegetarian breakfast or dessert with generous protein.

quinoa tempeh salad with cranberries, jalapeno & mint


Too many deaths in the family recently, and thus too long since I posted here… It’s time now to prepare for a Winter Solstice gathering– time for me to create again, and for new traditions to come into being.

My thought with this recipe was to incorporate the heat, light and brightness of summer– with the hot pepper and cooling mint, bright yellow bell pepper– and also the traditional winter bright cranberry– in the grounded base of a quinoa and tempeh salad. I found this to be both light and satisfying; feta would compliment and add additional protein if desired, or pistachios to remain vegan.

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ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 12 oz tempeh, cubed
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (include seeds for heat)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 10-12 leaves mint, diced
  • 1 lime, freshly squeezed

instructions

Rinse quinoa well, then cover with 1 1/2 cups water, add dash of salt, bring just to boiling then reduce heat and simmer covered for 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork. Saute chopped tempeh over medium high heat in a couple tablespoons olive oil for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cover, checking and stirring frequently; cook until browned and cooked through, but not dried out. Add tempeh to quinoa. Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to pan, then saute shallots, hot pepper and celery until fragrant and shallots start to become translucent. Add yellow pepper and fresh cranberries, stir well, cover and simmer about 3-4 minutes, just until yellow pepper and cranberries are bright and just beginning to soften. Combine all well. Dress with freshly squeezed lime.

veggie frittata- revisited


ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized yam, choppedphoto_2
  • 1 teaspoon each sage, tarragon and thyme
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • leek, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • several stalks broccoli or cauliflowerettes
  • 1 can white kidney or black beans, well rinsed
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz grated Toscato pepper cheese
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese

instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. Slice yam into rounds, pare away skin then chop into bite sized pieces. Saute chopped yam in 2 T olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes, adding minced garlic and 1 teaspoon sage and thyme, stirring well to coat yams. Add 2-3 tablespoons water, then cover with lid and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer until yam is soft, checking and stirring every couple minutes. While yam steams, cut away tough outer edges of broccoli, then slice inner stalks into bite sized pieces, also flowerettes. When yam is almost but not yet soft enough, add chopped broccoli stems to steam covered for 3 minutes, then add yellow peppers and broccoli flowerettes to steam covered for 2-3 minutes until peppers and broccoli are bright and just slightly soft. (Or add chopped spinach and 1-2 T water, cover and steam for 2-3 minutes until greens are bright green and slightly soft.) Do not overcook veggies. Remove from heat, keep lid off pan.

While vegetables are steaming, place large deep dish pie pan or 9×9 baking dish into preheating oven for a few minutes to heat pan. Also start preparing egg mixture: crack eggs into bowl, add milk, pepper and 1/4 t salt. Whisk well with fork. Remove baking dish from oven, thoroughly wipe a little olive oil over bottom and sides of pan (being careful not to burn yourself), then transfer half of yam/yellow pepper/onions/greens mixture into hot baking dish, half of beans, half of cheese, then repeat layers. Pour well-mixed egg mixture over top of veggies, tilting pan to spread egg mixture evenly under veggies too. Last sprinkle half of cheeses generously over top. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, then do toothpick test for doneness, (depending upon the oven and weather, cover with foil for another 5-10 min or so) baking until edges and top have browned slightly and toothpick comes out clean. I find there may be a little extra water at the edges of the baking dish after cooking, which I just tip slightly to run off into the sink so the frittata isn’t soggy when served.

Using 4 eggs, 1 can beans, and 4 oz grated cheese plus Parmesan, this makes 4 dinner size servings each with about 19-20 grams protein.

Another combination for a ‘south of the border’ frittata: red potato, yellow or red onion, garlic, red pepper, black beans, tomato and Swiss cheese. Or try mixed red and yellow roasted beats, orange pepper, onion, garlic, the beet greens, walnuts and 4 oz Havarti cheese.

pumpkin scones


ingedients:
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c oatmeal
1/4 c brown sugar (not packed)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
scant 1/4 t sea salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t clove
1/4 c butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup plain Nancy’s yogurt
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 c pumpkin
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped walnuts

instructions:
Preheat oven to 375, lightly butter cooking sheet.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or two knives. Achieve finest texture by quickly rubbing flour/butter mixture between two clean dry flat hands. In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, egg and vanilla, add to flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the pumpkin, raisins and walnuts. Dough will be sticky, may have to finish mixing by hand.

Spread dough onto wax paper sprinkled with flour. Pat into circle of desired thickness, then cut into wedges. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve warm with melted butter. Fabulous with roasted root vegetable, fresh cranberry and rainbow chard frittata seasoned with marjoram and sage.

(Recipe based on the carrot scone recipe in Simply Scones by Weiner & Albright, modified on the fly this morning with my breakfast cooking friend Jackie pictured here. Thank you, Jackie.)

roasted potatoes & red peppers casserole


This is an experimental approach today with favorite ingredients.

Ingredients:

4-5 medium sized red potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick, then cut into half rounds

1 red pepper, sliced longitudinally into 1/4 inch thick pieces

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 can whole black beans, well rinsed and drained

3-4 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

4-6 oz grated cheese (I tried Gruyere this time. I’m thinking the smooth sweetness of Gruyere will compliment the earthiness of the roasted red peppers)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 380 degrees. Cut potatoes and red peppers, toss with 2 T olive oil, then spread out evenly on roasting pan. (The secret to successful roasting is to cut pieces into equal size pieces and turn them occasionally while roasting so they all cook evenly, none dry out.) Roast for 10 minutes, then turn peppers and potatoes. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Remove peppers, check potatoes-they may need another 5-10 minutes until are lightly browned and fully cooked but not mushy and falling apart. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Rub 1 T olive oil over bottom and sides of 9×9 inch baking pan or 2 quart baking dish. Chop roasted red peppers into large bite size pieces. Using half of each ingredient to create casserole with two tiers, layer potatoes on bottom, sprinkle diced roasted garlic over potatoes, cover with well rinsed and drained black beans, red peppers,  spinach, tomatoes, cheese; repeat with remaining potatoes, garlic, black beans, red peppers, spinach, tomatoes, cheese. Add 2-3 T water into corners of dish, cover with lid or foil, cook covered for 10-15 minutes, then 5 minutes uncovered until spinach is cooked and cheese melted and lightly browned.

Thank you, Lois, for introducing me to Frank’s Red Hot original cayenne pepper sauce. Yes, just right for this.

A note about protein: this recipe will be light on protein for dinner. Assuming this makes 4 servings, at 1 oz of cheese,  1/4 can of black beans, plus some spinach per serving, it has only about 6+2=8 grams of protein per serving. So next time I’ll also add a can of well rinsed and drained garbanzo or kidney beans to increase the amount of protein. A healthy active female needs 50 grams of protein on average every day to maintain good health, a balanced metabolism, strong energy, sharp mind, and beautiful hair.