Thursday, July 23, 2015

Breaded Zucchini Steak Fries

Our garden has all but taken off... but only in the zucchini section. I think we've eaten our family's weight in zucchini. Who else has been enjoying their zucchinis?
So far we've had zucchini eggs, zucchini gazpacho, zucchini scones, zucchini muffins, roasted lemony herb zucchini, zucchini noodles, chocolate zucchini donuts and I'm dying to make this Zucchini Firecracker Cornbread out of this cookbook My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season.
And we're trying zucchini pickles - naturally fermented. Let's see how that goes.
So it begs the question... what can't you make with zucchinis?
Here is the first zucchini from my garden. Yum! It was played with before we ate it. Our baby tried to nurse it, however that proved a rough error for him.

I've seen zucchini fries but they were always loaded with cheese. Why not a better version and why not something everyone can enjoy - vegan, gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free. Let's just cover all the bases.
A great plant-based snack or side dish (we ate them as the main entree at lunch because who wouldn't want fries for their entire meal?). The flaxseeds, sesame seeds and buckwheat make for a healthy "breading". Sesame is a great source of calcium, iron and magnesium. Flaxseeds are a great source of omegas and fiber.

Serve with homemade ketchup or hibiscus ketchup.

Breaded Zucchini Steak Fries
1 medium - large zucchini
A little oil to dip zucchini in
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
5 TB Buckwheat groats
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of lemony thyme, optional

1. Preheat oven to 425. Layer baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. In a coffee grinder, grind buckwheat and flaxseeds until a flour forms. In a large shallow bowl or plate, mix seeds, flour mixture, salt, garlic and herbs. Set aside.
2.  Pour oil onto another large shallow bowl or plate.
3. Slice zucchini in 3-4" long rounds (1 zucchini only takes 2-3 cuts to do this) then slice those in half lengthwise. Now make 1/2"-3/4" inch cuts lengthwise for large steak fries.
4. Dip fries first in oil then coat in flour mixture. Place on parchment-covered tray. Bake 15 minutes then turn and bake another 10-15 minutes.

What garden produce are you enjoying? And have you had to find new uses for vegetables? Please share!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Raw 5-Minute Strawberry Chia Jam

One Friday morning, a dear friend and her kids invited us to go strawberry picking.

As we were picking - the royal "we" since the girls mostly frolicked through the strawberry patch - I thought of my Granny. She had passed away several years prior - old and wisened. A lot of life had passed by those wide blue eyes - that's where I get mine. But she always had a smile, the charm never deterred by life's wrinkles.

We would visit her at least once every summer. My Dad would always say "I don't think she's going to be here next year. This is her last year. We need to go visit her."

And so we would go... inevitably, she would always hold on another year. And my Dad would reiterate the previous statement. We can look at it as a cycle or life pattern but I like to think of it as a tradition. Being a non-traditional family, we were more flexible and our traditions far between.

But one summer, I remember Granny sitting in at her table - the same spot she sat in for the last 10 or 20 years. Back to the kitchen wall, facing the TV. She held her cup of coffee in her hand and she'd smile at me. I warmed to her a little more with each smile. She pushed a bowl of strawberries my way.

Of course, I ate all of them... she knew I would since she already deemed me Strawberry Mary.


And so as we picked the strawberries this last Friday and I watched my baby boy squish a strawberry all over his face and my 4 year old frolicking with her friend, holding their dolls, I wondered what "traditions" my children will remember. Will it be that we were always busy or that we took time to revel in each other's company?

Lately, we've been on the busy bus. Not something I particularly enjoy. I don't like to equate the word "busy" with my sense of self. So I'm using this as a reminder to myself to "not schedule " but to enjoy my day, particularly the time with my husband and children.

And here's something quick and easy to make and enjoy later (or now).
Raw 5 Minutes or Less Strawberry Chia Jam
4 cups strawberries
2 spoonfuls of honey (to taste, optional)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1. Blend in blender or with immersion blender.
2. Let sit to thicken.
3. Refrigerate and enjoy within one week (this does freeze well).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Coconut Cream Soda (vegan, refined sugar-free)

This harkens back to my summers when I was a kid with scratched up knees and had a permanent shorts and tank top tan. I remember every summer we'd go visit my grandparents in Montana. That's when I first discovered road-watching. There's people-watching and then there is road-watching. Where will the road take us? I loved watching the mountains and forests of North Idaho morph into the plains and hills of Montana. The towering trees into seas of grass. A scape of dark green and sapphire mountain blue into the color scheme I see as Montana - new growth green, cattle ranch brown and gold - not shiny hard-metal gold but living gold. The gold of mature grass alive in your hands. The gold as the late summer sun glints off the cowboy's truck. The gold of sun-dried antlers decorating the fields.
There is one particular memory I have of going to visit a cousin's cattle ranch. My grandparents lived in town so the drive was not short or smooth. We made it in the afternoon and dark clouds poured in from the West. We piled out of the truck, our clothes clinging to our bodies from the long ride and our stomachs feeling a little churned. Loud shouts of thunder clapped at our arrival. The air was warm but a breeze teased at our clothes and hair.

And then the rain started..

Summer thunderstorms are the best. The warmth of the sun combined with the cool rain.
...Also, puddle jumping doesn't turn into pneumonia. 
Those visits to the ranch were the highlights of the trip. I loved playing in our cousin Annie's pool and watching movies while sipping tall glasses of fruit soda poured over vanilla ice cream.
This recipe was somewhat inspired by those memories. In an effort to make a dairy-free cream soda, I ended up with somewhat of a delicious float. A wonderful thing happens when coconut cream is mixed with sparkling water. It gets all light and fluffy like summer clouds.

Coconut Cream Soda
Coconut Cream
Sparkling Water
Vanilla Stevia (make your own with this recipe or I use NuNaturals Nustevia )
1. Scoop a heaping spoonful of coconut cream into your glass
2. Cover with a little sparkling water. Whisk quickly with fork to break up lumps. Use 2-4 drops vanilla stevia.
3. Top with sparkling water. Stir once more. Enjoy!
*Another option is to use agave or maple syrup for sweetener. This will impart their flavors on to the drink. Adding vanilla extract will give it more of a vanilla cream flavor.

So sweet readers, are you road-tripping this summer? Where are you going?
I'm just itching to go back to Montana. If I didn't love Idaho so much, I'd live in Montana.
On a side note, I enjoyed this on my birthday instead of cake. And I was so blessed to receive a batch of these amazing chocolate cookies from my neighbor. It really was a blessing because some of my plans fell through and it was a rough night with the kiddos and I had a sour attitude about it, particularly because it was my birthday. I sat on the rocking chair holding my fussy baby, praying that Jesus would help me have a better attitude because I knew I was being selfish. And literally not ten minutes later, this wonderful neighbor showed up with these warm chocolate cookies. God is so good! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Snickers Dates

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
I know it's not much but I want to thank everyone who has served and is serving our country. In particular, my Father, Grandfathers, Father-in-law, Aunt and Uncles. Thank you! You have a special place in my heart.
And thank you to those whose family members have served and serving! You have my prayers.
There is a way you can make your snickers and eat it too! They take three simple ingredients and only a minute to put together.
There is a raw alternative or if you prefer to not use chocolate chips. Mix 1/4 cup raw cashew butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon raw honey. Use this to spread on dates.
Although made healthier, these are still a treat. But with natural ingredients and good fats from nut butters, they make indulging guilt-free.

Plus, they are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and yummy! Use unsweetened sunflower seed butter for nut-free option. Try tahini for a different flavor and to tone down sweetness.
Snickers Dates
Soft medjool Dates
Chocolate chips (dairy-free if needed)
Cashew butter or Peanut butter (for more authentic snickers flavor)
Open dates on one side with knife or hands. Slide out pit. Spread date with nut butter of choice and top with chocolate chips.

And have a great weekend!

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Fettuccine Alfredo (vegan)

This Alfredo sauce is paleo friendly, dairy free, gluten free, nut free, coconut free, and yeast free. Don't you feel so free?
Frankly, I'm surprised it's not made of air! But actually this alfredo sauce centers around a vegetable. I'm all about getting more veggies in your diet. Red Velvet brownies is a great example.

But really you can turn this:


And maybe you happened upon this recipe somehow and you're not doing the whole dairy-free thing. In fact, you may be appalled at the idea! But really you must try this roasted cauliflower sauce (you can add a little parmesan, no judgment here).
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
1 1/4 cup broth
1 head cauliflower
4-7 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TB lemon juice
2/3 cup sesame seeds
Sea Salt or Herbamare, to taste
Pinch of parsley and basil
1. Wash and chop cauliflower into florets.
2. In a baking dish, add cauliflower, garlic and 1/4 cup broth.
3. Roast at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes until cauliflower is cooked through and starting to brown.
4. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over noodles with steamed asparagus or use on a pizza (details below).
Big Blue Eyes is learning to twirl her noodles. I remember when my Dad first taught me. A fond food memory!
This sauce also makes great pizza sauce alternative. We used half the above sauce on Namaste crust pizza with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It was yummy, especially with a  drizzle of balsamic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Red Velvet Beet Brownies with Buckwheat and Beets

First, let's clarify buckwheat is gluten-free. Whoever named it didn't give a thought to how confusing that may be (hashtag gluten-free problems, no?). Buckwheat is actually a seed. Though "buckseed" doesn't sound anymore appetizing.

So let's turn our thoughts to something more appetizing... like brownies. Red velvet brownies.

These brownies are delicious. Mousse-like and somewhat earthy with the undertone of beets. It's a beautiful purple before you bake:
Free of nuts, gluten, dairy, eggs. And you get a serving of veggies! What isn't there to like?
Looking for more recipes involving buckwheat? Try our Buckwheat Carrot Cake Cupcakes or Sprouted Chocolate Love Granola.
Or maybe you are really into the red velvet cake flavor? Try some Red Velvet Cake Smoothie.
Red Velvet Brownies
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, preferably freshly ground
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large beets, steamed and peeled
3/4 cup maple syrup (or other high-quality liquid sweetener such as honey)
1/2 tsp vanilla stevia*
1 TB vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil (I used warm coconut oil but feel free to use grapeseed oil or avocado oil)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
*I use NuNaturals Nustevia Alcohol Free Stevia. So far, its the least bitter stevia I've tried. But you can also make your own with this recipe and double the amount.
If you prefer to skip the stevia. You can add another 1/4 cup maple syrup (and subtract that amount of coconut milk) and mix chia seeds with coconut milk and maple syrup.

1. Mix chia seeds and coconut milk. Stir. Let rest at least 20 minutes.
2. In blender, add all ingredients and blend to combine (alternatively you can puree just the beets and in a bowl incorporate other ingredients but I like this one-dirty-dish option).
3. Pour into a 9x13 greased with coconut oil. Sprinkle with chocolate chips (some people like more, some like less).
4. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Penne with Arugula, Peas and Caramelized Balsamic Walnuts

This recipe came about as I was trying to come up with a vegan alternative to chopped bacon. Something savory, sweet, salty and crunchy all in one bite. That I could sprinkle on rice and salads or just snack on with a piece of fruit.

I actually like pasta salad that combines leafy greens and some cooked pasta. There has been some difficulty in finding a gluten free pasta that eats well at any temperature. I prefer the Tru Roots mixed grain penne.
This pasta salad is served warm but can be eaten cold the next day.
A nice bowl of green to welcome spring. Who else is excited about spring showers and growing flowers?
Penne with Arugula, Peas, and Caramelized Balsamic Walnuts
1 cup peas (I used organic frozen but fresh is even better - no need to cook fresh)
2 cups gluten-free penne
4 cups arugula
2 cups walnuts, chopped or whole
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TB olive oil
2 TB maple syrup
1-2 cloves garlic
1. In a small to medium size saucepan,  add walnuts, vinegar, oil and garlic. Turn to medium high heat. As soon as bubbles form, turn down to low, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and walnuts are toasted.
2. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package, adding the frozen peas when you add the noodles. Drain and add a small glug of olive oil.
3. Add handfuls of arugula to bowls, top with pasta and then walnuts and sauce.
Skip the peas and arugula. Before you drain noodles,  add fresh spinach to the bottom of the colander. The hot water from pasta will quick steam spinach. Add the special walnuts and chopped fresh or sundried tomatoes.
When the king smiles, there is life;
his favor refreshes like a spring rain.
Proverbs 16:15
Gentle words are a tree of life.
Proverbs 15:4
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