Friday, October 14, 2016

Coconut Mocha Trio Ice Cream

Coconut Mocha Trio Ice Cream
 Ice cream is always a treat. However, the commercial ice creams, and dairy choices can be very high in sugar and fat, and could cause food sensitivities. Plus it's costly! Homemade non-dairy ice cream is our family favorite. The ingredients are fresh, simple, and it's easy to make.

Some of our favorite flavors are chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. What better way to enjoy these tasty flavors than as a mocha trio! Here's the recipe:

Ice Cream Base.
(3 scoops per serving; makes about 6 servings or more)

1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1 cup coconut milk (lite)
1 cup ground cashews
3/4 cup grade B organic maple syrup
1 T vanilla extract (non alcoholic)
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 T coconut oil
1/4 to 1 cup water (as needed)

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender, in order listed. Blend on high until thick and smooth (like pudding), and slightly warm. Add water as needed to adjust thickness. Split base into three portions. Pour portions into containers with lids that can be placed in the freezer.

Place 1 of the filled containers in the refrigerator and let chill for one hour. Remove from refrigerator and carefully stir in additional ingredients for Coconut Chocolate Swirl Flavor. Do not completely stir as the ingredients should appear as a "swirl" of flavors and not combined. Place back into the refrigerator and let chill an additional half hour to an hour.

Place contents of the second container back into the blender. Add next ingredients (see below) to create coffee mocha flavor. Prepare as stated above. Pour coffee mocha mixture back into container and seal. Place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.

Place contents of third container into blender. Add the final ingredients (see below) to create mocha chocolate flavor. Prepare as stated above. Pour mixture back into container and seal. Place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.

Coconut Chocolate Swirl Flavor.
1-2 T prepared organic chocolate fudge sauce
1 T cacao nibs

Coffee Mocha Flavor.
1 T organic coffee extract or essential oil flavoring
1 T cacao nibs

Mocha Chocolate Flavor.
1/2 T organic coffee extract or essential oil flavoring
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder
dash ground cinnamon

Preparing the Ice Cream.
Prepare one flavored mixture at a time when following next instructions. Place chilled mixture into ice cream maker and following instructions as stated in the ice cream maker guide. Remove and place in sealed container and freeze for one to two hours before serving. Store in freezer up to 3 months. Prepare remaining two flavored mixtures in the same way.

*Note: If you do not have an ice cream maker you can try using a food processor or blender, by first freezing the containers for about 30-60 minutes till almost frozen. Remove, process until creamy like ice cream, and return to sealed containers. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

Plate and Serve.
Place one generous scoop each of the three flavors and place in a serving bowl. Top with prepared organic chocolate fudge sauce, whip topping, and top with cacao nibs, then serve. Enjoy!

Coconut Mocha Trio Ice Cream

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach Creole with Shrimp

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach Creole with Shrimp
Ever since I discovered great quality frozen foods, I've been able to spend less time in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal for my family. It's especially handy when I don't really have the time to spend cooking.

Some of my favorite frozen foods include a variety of cut vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and spinach. One of my desired healthy brands is Stahlbush Island Farms.

 Stahlbush Island Farms Sweet Potatoes       Stahlbush Island Farms Cut Spinach

 Trader Joe's Organic Black Beans
I also like to use organic canned legumes, such as black beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans, and other bean varieties. Trader Joe's offers a variety of organic canned beans at a great price. I highly recommend their canned and frozen foods.

What really can complete the flavor of the meal is how you season it. I find that most seasonings available in the market have added salts, or other ingredients that take away from the actual flavor of the herbs. One of the healthier seasonings I recommend using, and one that I use regularly, is the Bragg Organic Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning. It's the perfect balance of spices, and the added Kelp is a healthy and nutritional alternative to salt. Another favorite seasoning I like to use is Old Bay Seasoning. It's a seasoning product that has been around for years, and provides the perfect balance of herbs and spices all blended together. It's great with all types of meats, fish, chicken, and vegetables. I probably use this product as much as I use the Bragg seasoning. It's that good!

 Bragg Organic Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning  Old Bay Seasoning

Once the kitchen is stocked with great frozen vegetables and healthy prepared foods, as well as organic canned goods, and healthy spices, it's time to cook!

Recently I discovered a delicious organic simmer sauce for creole. The brand is Imagine Foods, and the sauce is Imagine Culinary Simmer Sauce, Louisiana Creole. I decided to create my own version of creole, but used this tasty sauce to create the creole flavor. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to prepare, including stove-top cook time, and my family loved it! Here's the recipe:

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach Creole with Shrimp
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 bag wild caught, cooked frozen shrimp (tails off)*
1 cup frozen cut sweet potatoes
1 can organic black beans (drained)
2-3 cups organic frozen prepared or freshly prepared rice
Old Bay Seasoning (to taste)
Bragg Organic Herbs And Spices Seasoning - Sea Kelp (to taste)
2-3 cups frozen or fresh cut spinach
1 pouch Imagine Culinary Simmer Sauce, Louisiana Creole
1 T coconut oil
1 T coconut spread or ghee

Place coconut oil in a large pan, and place over medium heat to melt. Add the shrimp and sweet potatoes. Add spices and spread. Stir and heat till warmed. Add black beans, then stir and heat some more. Add rice, then stir and heat till rice begins to warm. Add sauce and spinach. Stir occasionally and heat until fully heated. Add additional spices as desired. Once food reaches desired temperature for serving, remove from heat. Place into serving bowls. Creole is ready to eat. Enjoy!

*Variations: Use tofu, chicken, or double the black beans, in place of the shrimp.

Quick and Easy, One-Pan Meal

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Spinach Creole with Shrimp

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Homemade Pumpkin Donuts

I love pumpkin all year round, and it's never too early for donuts. Enjoy this next recipe!

Homemade Pumpkin Donuts

Wet Ingredients:
3 organic brown eggs
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup almond milk
2 each 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (about 3 cups fresh cooked)
½ T vanilla extract (non-alcoholic, organic)
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup coconut sugar

Dry ingredients:
3 ½ cups organic all-purpose baking flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
2 ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

In a large bowl, beat the eggs till frothy. Add in coconut oil, almond milk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Mix ingredients till smooth. Add the sugar and coconut sugar, and mix well again. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix. Slowly pour dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix while pouring. Make sure all ingredients are well blended and not grainy. It should be the consistency of thick pudding.

Grease donut pans with coconut oil. Fill donut trays within pan ¾ full. If you don’t have a donut pan you can use a lined muffin tin. Bake in a 350° F degree oven for 15-18 minutes (23-25 minutes for muffins). Before removing from oven, use a toothpick to check the donuts. If the toothpick comes clean, the donuts are ready. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and continue to cool.

Cover with cinnamon sugar. To do so, add sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice mix (optional) to taste in a large zip lock bag. Add donuts a few at a time to bag and shake well till sugar covers donuts. Set on plates to settle. Depending upon how warm the donuts are, sugar will melt over top like a glaze.

Instead of using donut pans, make standard or mini pumpkin muffins by greasing a mini muffin pan. Baking time will take slightly longer. Use toothpick to check readiness. Add crushed walnuts or pecans to the mix for texture and added flavor.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Polenta and Eggs, Pecan Salad

Home-grown Sprouts 101.

Sprouts are one of the healthiest, cheapest, and easiest foods to grow on your own. They are the ultimate “locally-grown” food. Sprouts are nutritionally dense foods. They contain 100 times more enzymes than most uncooked fruits and vegetables. Essential fatty acid content is increased through sprouting. When seeds are soaked and sprouted, their energy is released, providing amazing life force. Sprouts aid digestion, and they are alkalizing to the body, making them a “healing” food.

Sprouting is so easy to do from home. One of the most common and simplest ways to sprout from home is to use the mason jar method. I recommend using quality, organic sprouting seeds. The salad mix is usually the most flavorful. Measure about 2-3 tablespoons of seeds and pour into a well-cleaned mason jar. Pour filtered water over the top, and rinse several times. I use the sprouting screen lid to drain the jars. This minimizes the amount of potential seed loss that could occur. After rinsing, fill the jar with more filtered water, leaving about two inches from the opening free. Place the sprouting screen lid on top, and set aside to soak for about 12 hours. Rinse the seeds again, but this time place the sprouting screen lid on tight, and tilt upside down at an angle in a dish rack or something similar. Inverting the jar this way allows for it to properly drain and air to circulate within the jar. “Let the sprouting process begin!” The only thing left to do is to rinse the sprouts about 2 to 3 times per day, and continue to drain and leave inverted at an angle. The sprouts will begin to show and grow over the next few days. Once you are satisfied with the amount of sprout growth, rinse and drain one last time, then store your sprouts in a produce container in the refrigerator. They should keep fresh for a few days.

Sprouting 101

Now for a yummy, easy to make recipe, topped with delicious home-grown sprouts!

The recipe can be prepared as a gourmet lunch salad, or delicious late breakfast meal. It’s basically sliced polenta, with over-easy fried eggs, placed on top of mixed herbs, lettuce, and greens. Top it off with crushed pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup, and finish it with a bunch of yummy, crunchy, homemade sprouts!

Polenta and Eggs, Pecan Salad

Polenta and Eggs, Pecan Salad

½ package of prepared organic polenta (about 1/2lb or 9oz)
1 T coconut oil
1-2 T coconut spread or organic butter
2 organic brown hen eggs
½ cup chopped raw pecans
2-3 cups fresh mixed salad greens and herbs
½ cup to 1 cup fresh home-grown sprouts*
Organic Grade B maple syrup to taste

Melt coconut oil in a large non-stick pan over low to medium heat. Slice polenta into even slices, about ½” thick. Place polenta slices in pan and lightly cook on both sides till heated, and slightly browned. Remove from heat and place on plate lined with paper towels for draining. Drain pan of excess coconut oil. Add most of the coconut spread or butter to the hot pan. Crack eggs over pan, and cook and flip till “over easy”, just like a standard fried egg with slightly runny yolks. Ready to plate.

Place greens on plate, and top with hot polenta slices. Add a little butter to the polenta. Top with fried eggs and chopped pecans. Drizzle maple syrup to taste, and finish by topping dish with fresh home-grown sprouts. This is super yummy and fresh tasting. Enjoy!

*Prepared Polenta is traditional to Italian cooking. It’s an alternative to pasta, rice, and potatoes, and it pairs well with sauces and meats. Polenta is basically cornmeal that has been slowly simmered and stirred with chicken broth or water. It’s similar to grits, but thicker and denser as a finished product. Polenta is often seasoned with cheese and butter. Another way polenta is served is by chilling the cooked porridge in the shape of a roll. The roll is then sliced and pan-fried with a little butter or oil and seasoned accordingly. Prepared polenta rolls are available at most gourmet and natural grocery stores. One of my favorite brands is the Trader Joe’s organic polenta, but another brand that’s easy to find is San Gennaro Traditional Italian Polenta. Or, you can make your own from scratch.  Bob's RedMill Polenta Corn Grits is easy to prepare, and not too expensive.


Polenta, Pecans, with Micro Herbs

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chicken Stir-Fry with Japanese Kimchi

Chicken Stir-Fry with Japanese Kimchi

Cooking with Frozen Prepared Foods.
In this day and age, most people are concerned about what they eat and where the food comes from. “Fresh is always best!” Although that’s true, it’s not always reasonable or available. That’s where “frozen” fresh options are the next best thing! Today, more and more companies are making the “fresh food” market available in the freezer section. The choices are abundant. Vegetables, fruits, prepared grains such as rice and millet, and even prepared meats such as grilled and breaded chicken, fish, and even eggs. 

In some cases, the frozen options for vegetables and fruits are healthier than the fresh versions found in the produce section. That’s because they are picked when ready (instead of prematurely), and immediately flash frozen. Whereas the fresh versions are usually picked before they are ripe, and then sprayed or coated to safely transport them from farm to grocer. So “fresh” isn’t so fresh once it makes it to the meal table.  

As for the frozen prepared foods such as rice, pasta, meats, and side dishes, more and more healthy products are being developed. The sodium levels are reasonable, the ingredients are minimal in comparison to the traditional conventional frozen foods on the market, and the flavors and prep time are phenomenal! Semi-homemade cooking can now be a viable way to a nutritious, healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s all in the ingredients!
Engine 2® Plant-Strong®Grain Medleys – Wild Rice Blend

What is Kimchi, and Why Is It Healthy?
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean delicacy, made from vegetables including cabbage, and a variety of spices and seasonings. Kimchi basically means ‘salting of vegetables’.  Kimchi is an exceptional food to promote digestion. Since kimchi is fermented, it contains healthy bacteria called lactobacilli that aids in the digestion process of the body. It is a source of probiotics attributing to the process of fermentation involved in its preparation. The probiotic action helps to breakdown the vegetables, resulting in more bioavailable nutrients, which are absorbed into the body, immediately benefiting your health and vitality. Kimchi benefits the immune system, aids in digestion and nutrient absorption, and overall well-being. The added bonus is that the fermentation process is what gives kimchi its amazing flavor, so it’s great to use in a variety of dishes or as a condiment. If making homemade kimchi is not your thing, there are a variety of great, healthy, and tasty options in the marketplace. Look for minimal ingredients and quality brand names. One of my new all-time favorite kimchi products is the Wildbrine® product line of fermented foods. You can find their products in most natural grocery stores, and online.
Wildbrine JapaneseMiso Horseradish Kimichi

For a delicious, super easy recipe idea using kimchi, and healthy frozen prepared foods, try my recipe below. It’s sure to please!

Chicken Stir-Fry with Japanese Kimchi
(Serves 2 to 4 people)

1 ½ cups frozen baby sweet peas
½ cup frozen organic Thai Jasmine white rice (or other plain white rice)
1 cup frozen spinach
2 large brown organic eggs
2 T coconut oil
3 T organic valley purity farms organic ghee
Ground garlic organic
Bragg’s spice mix
Old Bay seasoning
2-3 T organic vegetable broth

On medium heat, melt coconut oil and ghee in large sauté pan or non-stick skillet. Add chicken strips, rice, peas, and spinach to pan. Stir and heat till chicken appears tender. Add broth and spices, and stir again, continuing to cook until all food is thoroughly heated, checking for cold pieces. Stir in kimchi. Let simmer on low heat for a few minutes more. Toss mixture and plate. Best served in large bowls.

The convenience of using healthy frozen options is the key to this one-pan dish. It saves you time in the kitchen, and makes for a very hearty, healthy meal. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator, or even freeze it for the future. Enjoy!

French Toast with Fresh Fruit

This recipe makes 1 to 2 servings.

2 slices Raisin Ezekiel bread
2-3 organic hen eggs
Coconut spread
Ground cinnamon, sea salt
Fresh cut mixed fruit (strawberries, blueberries)
Grade B maple syrup to taste

For French toast, place raw eggs, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and beat till frothy. Melt coconut spread in large non-stick skillet. While skillet is warming, dip bread in egg mixture, and coat well. Place egg-dipped bread in heated skillet. Pour any remaining egg mixture over top of bread. Cook till bread can be lifted and flipped without sticking. Cook remaining side through. Remove from heat and plate. Add fresh cut fruit to top of French toast. Pour maple syrup over top to taste. Enjoy!

French Toast with Fresh Fruit