Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp - Gluten Free and Plant Based

I've never been much of a rhubarb fan. I think it had something to do with the look of warm, mushy, stringy "celery"-looking stuff in a dessert.  I don't like pie and so rhubarb pie was always off the radar. We had rhubarb growing on the side of our house when we moved in. That first year I just ignored it and at the end of the year my husband cut it down to the ground for winter and I didn't think about it again. Last year I was pregnant and the food I usually like didn't even sound good, let alone rhubarb. This year, Patrick decided it needed to be put to good use. He does not have the aversion that I have apparently. I really didn't have any recipes for rhubarb and so I pieced together other "crisp" recipes I have used in the past.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  • 1 pint of strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
  • 2 cups rhubarb, in 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 3/4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup oat flour (can use regular flour if you don't need gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 5 tbsp melted coconut oil, more if necessary 
  • Slivered Almonds (optional) 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place strawberries, rhubarb, and 1/2 cup of sugar in an 8x8-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and orange juice and combine with the fruit in the baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl stir together flour, remaining 1/4 cup white sugar, brown sugar, salt and oats. Start by adding 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil and work into crumbs by hand until you achieve course crumbly mixture. Add more melted coconut oil as needed, one tablespoon at a time for desired consistency.
  4. Spread the crumb over the fruit mix and sprinkle sliced almonds on top (optional). Bake for 1 hour until bubbly and golden brown.
  5. Serve warm with coconut cream or dairy free ice cream


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strawberry Chia Energy Bars

I could use some convection over tips. Do you prop the door of the oven open? Or close it so the convection fan kicks on?  I ended up using a combination of the two. I couldn't find any instructions on this anywhere. The thought was that with the door open, the moisture could escape and the temperature could be a bit lower so as to be more like a dehydrator. Isn't that what the fan on the convection oven is for? Who knows, anywho, this open/closed method seemed to work well for me. I am going to try another flavor this weekend, more of a Hawaiian coconut, pineapple. Yum!

Just some of the delicious reasons for using some of the ingredients in this snack...

Pumpkin seeds have lots of antioxidants, vitamin E, phosphorus, copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium.  The oils in these little guys may even help to regulate insulin. (Very preliminary but so cool.) They also have antiviral, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Can't beat that.

Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins E and B1 as well as copper. Vitamin E helps protect your cells against free radicals, chemicals that oxidize and damage your proteins, cell membranes and DNA. This vitamin also promotes healthy circulation by helping you make red blood cells. An ounce of hulled sunflower seeds contains 10 milligrams of vitamin E! That is two-thirds of your recommended daily intake of the nutrient.

Sesame seeds also have loads of zinc which decreases the risk for osteoporosis, phytoserols that may enhance the immune response, sesamin which provides liver protection, as well as copper, anti-inflammatory, and anti oxidants.

Chia seeds are a hot topic right now. These odd little seeds are full of fiber, calcium, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Another great thing about chia seeds is their ability to absorb up to 12x their weight. This means that once ingested, they can draw out toxins in your body. Pretty cool, huh?

Flax seeds also contain Omega-3s. I have been hearing about a study (yes that is a link to Yahoo news but the actually article from Neurology is cited at the bottom of the link) where Omega-3 fatty acids were shown to possibly reduce age related brain shrinkage, especially in women. Shoot, I am all for that. Flax seeds are antioxidant power houses with ounce for ounce, more antioxidants than blueberries. This has been correlated to a reduction in insulin resistance.

As my mom said, when I told her about the above health benefits, "Whew! That is lots of good health." Ha. 

So try these out and be on the look out for the next variety. I already have several more ideas.

Strawberry Chia Energy Bars 

  • 2 cups Fresh Strawberries, topped and hulled
  • 19 Medjool Dates, pitted (about 2 cups)
  • ¼  cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • ¼  cup Sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup Flax Seeds
  • ½ cup Sesame Seeds
  • ⅛ cup Chia Seeds
  • Sea Salt, optional to taste
  1. Place strawberries and dates in the food processor. Pulse into a slightly chunky mixture, not completely smooth.
  2. Pour fruit puree into a bowl and using a wooden spoon, gently mix in all remaining ingredients. Salt to taste.
  3. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The mixture should be about ⅛” thick.
  4. Place in convection oven at 170 deg F for about 6 hours. (This was the lowest my oven would go.) 
  5. After about 4-5 hours, when the top is no longer sticky to the touch and the bottom can easily peel off the parchment, flip the mixture over so the top is now the bottom. This will help evenly dehydrate both sides. I found the best way to do this was to place a new piece of parchment on top of the bars and flip the whole thing. I then peeled the old layer of paper off the top.
  6. The bars are done when they have a fruit leather texture, not completely crispy.
  7. Cut into bars using a pizza cutter.
  8. Can be stored 6 months – 9 months in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Tired Momma's Thoughts

I've come to decide that being a mom means spending an exorbitant amount of time anticipating the needs of others. If/then thoughts...

If we get stranded in the car in the snowstorm, then we will need everyone's winter boots, coats, hats, and mittens.

If we are going to travel the hour to and from Grandma's, then we need to time it so child B will sleep in the car and child A will not sleep in the car.

If I can get the first load of laundry in now, then I will not have to try to do it while balancing a baby in one arm and managing a "helpful" 3 year old under my feet.

If, during nap time, I squeeze the lemon, mince the garlic, roast the red pepper, and measure out the salt and tahini into a bowl for the hummus and put it in the fridge, then when Child B is awake I can use the food processor and all the tasks requiring two hands have already been done.

If the baby spits up on me at church, then I will need an extra shirt in order not to smell like rotten milk... again.

If it is 40 degrees and raining outside, then I will make a dinner that is a bit more labor intensive, but if it is 75 and sunny outside then I will use a default meal because Child A will want to play outside and requires supervision.

If I go to the grocery store at 7 am on Friday, then I could drop the groceries off before work and I wouldn't have to drag kids to the store on Saturday.

If we are going out of town tomorrow morning, then tonight I need to make sure to get the diaper and snack bags ready, and my pump, and any hostess gifts/food, and Child B's bottles,  and the kitchen sink. Mainly, because I can help Child A get dressed, clean up the spilled cereal, change a major diaper blow out and get the dog fed but I cannot, for some reason, pack up the car at the same time.

If I can get a snack into Child A at 2:45 pm, then he will not be so grumpy by 5:00 pm when he requires dinner 10 minutes ago.

If we are going to go out to dinner, then... forget it, that one is way too much work.

And on and on and on. It can be mentally exhausting. To try and stay ahead of the game in order to keep things running smoothly. I don't remember doing as much of that B.C. (before children). Probably because I didn't. 

I like routine. I like organization. I dislike clutter and chaos and craziness. My kids have helped me see that although planning can be helpful (someone has to do it) things just don't always go as as we thought they might. And that is okay too. These boys almost always surprise me with how resilient they are to life's obstacles. It is me, not them that gets hung up on the schedule. I hope they hang on to that as they grow. A fantastic life skill that would serve them well.