Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cranberry Coconut Protein Bars ~Au Naturel~

There are so many protein bars that have all these weird, fake additives in them, which I'm really not a huge fan of. As a vegetarian, though, its really important to get as much protein as possible, and any help you can get is welcome. Unlike many other recipes that have "protein powder" or other funky stuff, I use vital wheat gluten to add protein. This stuff is really amazing if you've never used it before. 1/4 cup has 23g of protein- unheard of!! You should be able to get this at whole foods or other natural food stores, probably in the baking aisle. And after making my date raisin syrup i had all this extra soft date and raisin meat that gets strained out, so I figured I'd just whip up some awesome protein bars! This is kind of a basic recipe and the ways of flavoring these are pretty much limitless. Plus, in each serving of this recipe (i divided it into 12 bars) there is 10 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Healthy, cost effective, and delicious!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Date Raisin Syrup

I had stumbled across a recipe for "date syrup" a while back, but the directions were sort of unclear. I decided to just give it a shot though and the results were great. This stuff tastes almost would be really good on ice cream, or in oatmeal, or..on pretty much anything! Yum! I think its a great substitute for other natural sweeteners. (If you want to know what to do with the leftover fruit, check out my cranberry coconut protein bars!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

I'm really into incorporating beans into my diet in any way that I can. I love them-- I don't think any bean has ever passed my lips that I haven't loved (except canned green beans, but that hardly counts). Hell, I'd eat them straight out of the can. So when I first heard about the idea of black bean brownies I was most certainly intrigued. It took me a while to get around to trying them, but last night presented the perfect opportunity. One can of black beans left, vegetable soup already made for dinner...perfect opportunity to make a bean-y dessert! And of course they turned out de-licious. They're really dense, and moist. Though the sort of lack the butteriness of regular brownies,  it is certainly made up for by the fudginess and awesome texture. Also, unlike regular brownies, they are definitely way better after they sit out and cool for the night rather than straight out of the oven.  So here is my first foray into the world of black bean brownies!

Sauteed Portobello with Romano Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

So obviously for Christmas dinner I, and my other vegetarian counterparts, are not enjoying the show-stopping roast. Instead of this, I decided to make a nice, meaty and filling portobello mushroom cap. In order to jazz it up a little, I decided to roast up a red pepper (see below post) and make a nice pureed pepper and romano sauce. The sweetness and saltiness of the sauce really play well on the earthiness of the mushroom. So, here it is, the main course of my Christmas dinner. Yum Yum!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted red peppers are one of those foods that go great in so many dishes. In sandwiches, pastas, soups, sauces, salads, with cheeses, and so many other things. They are also deceptively easy to make. Instead of paying $5 for a little jar in the store, whip up a bunch and store them immersed  by olive oil in a mason jar in the fridge to have on hand.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Roundup: Gingerbread Biscotti

Here is one of the most successful recipes I made this year. I'm slightly obsessed with gingerbread/ holiday spices, so I decided to bake up some gingerbread biscotti-- a nice, crunchy and hearty cookie. People who didn't purportedly like biscotti even liked this recipe. Hands down its awesome!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Roundup: Candied Orange Peel

Alright so here is part deux of my holiday baking roundup: candied orange peel. Before about two years ago, I had no idea that one could really eat the peel of the orange. I found it to be bitter and yucky and really only used for its zest in large baking recipes (my mom always used to make orange and black pepper biscotti at Christmas..they were awesome and packed full of zest!). But, imagine yourself in Paris, in one of their numerous street farmers markets. You stumble upon a little nut and dried fruit vendor, and see all the traditionals-- raisins, almonds, hazelnuts, apricots...but wait- whats this, candied orange peel? Well that was me two years ago..obviously I had to buy some and try it. Turns out it is delicious. And, upon further research, orange peel is actually phenomenal for you. Orange peel is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial anti-carcinogenic, and in traditional Chinese medicine has been said to "reduce accumulation" in the body (think about that one). So while orange peel is gross and bitter raw, I made a festive candied version to munch on over the holidays.

Holiday Roundup: Crystallized Ginger

Its that glorious time of year again, the time when it gets so cold out all you can do is cuddle up inside with a warm cup of tea or cocoa, and cook! The holidays are always a huge cooking and baking time for me. I think that cooking for someone is a true sign of love-- it is creative, takes time and effort (unlike shopping, though convenient at times) but is at the same time ever so enjoyable for the chef! To start of my holiday baking extravaganza this year I decided to make crystallized ginger. Not only is ginger an absolutely delicious, and warming root that can be used in sweet or savory dishes, it also has a great number of health benefits. It is an amazing cure for stomach aches, cramps and nausea, morning sickness, colds. It can also provide allergy symptom relief and inhibit production of bad cholesterol in the body.  From this recipe you will not only get crystallized ginger, but a whole bunch of ginger tea that you can sip on-- add a little honey and a squeeze of lemon and you'll be in heaven! Or for those of you with a holiday sweet tooth, eat a few of these little ginger candies and you'll be happy as a clam!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pumpkin, Spinach and Astragalus Soup

To continue upon my "The Roasting of the Pumpkin" post, something had to be made immediately after roasting that big ol' pumpkin. I decided that a nice soup could be good, and after a trip to the local herb shop earlier in the day I decided to use some astragalus root to give it a nice winter immune boost. Now what, may you ask, is astragalus root?

The Roasting of the Pumpkin!

When I went apple picking this year (as every respectable New Englander should), I also got a tiny little pumpkin, thinking how much fun it would be to roast it up and make pies and breads and pastas and..well pretty much everything pumpkin. But it wound up sitting on my table, through Columbus day, through Halloween, through (can I admit it?) Thanksgiving. But FINALLY I carried out my 2 month old plan. I finally sat down and performed the roasting of the pumpkin!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Lip Balm

One of my numerous attempts at making all homemade christmas gifts this year was homemade lip balm. Now lip balm is one thing that i've always kind of pushed to the wayside and considered too expensive to buy, but now my whole viewpoint on the stuff has changed. Why would I pay $5 for a tiny little tube of burt's bees when I can make ten times the amount of the exact same peppermint beeswax lip balm for under $3? Seems silly now... but now I (and hopefully my family too) will have luscious, hydrated lips all winter!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two Bean Roast

Our farm share has just ended and I've had to start veggie shopping for myself again, which has been both a very saddening but also a good thing. While I absolutely loved the farm-fresh veggies and the challenge of figuring out what to do with them, it is also kind of fun to have the freedom to buy what I want. This week I decided to get a few handfuls of green beans at the store. Now I'm usually not a huge green bean fan (I think I was scarred at a younger age by the canned stuff...) but this recipe is incredible. Today I kind of experimented with it..I usually make this as a sautee but I sort of just felt like roasting stuff up tonight (being lazy during a school hell week). But it actually turned out better than the sautee version, in my opinion. So I think I'll be rewriting this recipe...permanently.

Sweet, Spicy and *Hot* Almonds

I'm a huge fan of nuts. Ha ha..but really. In a vegetarian diet they are a great source of protein and healthy fats, and are really my go-to snack that keeps me full and happy for long periods of time. My mom always used to make spiced nuts around Christmas time, so I felt like I should try to assume that role and make them myself this year. Here is my little foray into the world of spiced nuts!

Infused Oils & Homemade Feminine Tea Blend

Infused oils are all around great. There are generally 2 categories, medicinal and culinary (though often the culinary have medicinal properties as well). I decided to make a bunch of both to give out as Christmas gifts for this year. I decided to make an arnica oil, a calendula oil, and a comfrey oil in terms of medicinal and a rosemary and thyme oil as my culinary oils.

Here are the medicinal ones:
So in order to make these all i did was fill a mason jar about half to 2/3 of the way full with the dried herbs (for most infused oils it is best to use fresh, though with these 3 dried works as well and being winter are way easier to find). Then I filled up the entire jar with Olive oil and sunflower oil. Essentially any type of oil that will absorb into the skin would work here, but on a college student's budget I had to go with the cheaper stuff. All you do then is throw it on a window sill for 4-6 weeks and let the sun do its work. Shake once a day or so and you'll be golden.

Arnica- A specific external treatment for physical trauma, sprains, bruising and other injuries. Use immediately after strenuous exertion or injury to prevent, relieve and reduce swelling, bruises and pain
Calendula- Gentle, cooling, and soothing. Calendula oil is the most successful oil for assisting us with dry and damaged skin, skin inflammations, rashes, diaper irritations, and other skin disorders
Comfrey- Traditionally used for general wound healing, treatment of bruises and for skin cell proliferation

To the right are the culinary oils. They are made in the same process, though I used fresh rosemary and thyme right off the plant, and filled these with pure extra virgin olive oil, as they will actually be used in foods, so you want it to taste as good as possible. Should be delicious in a few weeks!

Feminine Tea Blend:

This is a delicious tea that I am going to bag out as christmas gifts to all the fine ladies in my family as well. It is warm and flowery, but also spicy and delicious. Here is the official recipe, but for those of us who want to cut to the chase here is the description:

"This tea is perfect for frazzled nerves or any mom in need of a mood boost. The skullcap and oat tops are classic nervine tonics that help support the nervous system during times of stress. Raspberry leaf is considered an important tonic herb for women’s health that’s rich in nutrients like iron, manganese, and niacin. The tasty addition of roses, vanilla, and cinnamon offer floral spiciness and inspire feelings of wellbeing. This tea can be sipped daily to maximize the pleasant effects."


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Whole wheat Flax and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today was kind of Perfect. I love December snow, and, luckily enough, today was both the first day of December and the most beautiful snow we've gotten all year. It just made me want to make cookies and cuddle up, which is exactly what I did. Although I love regular chocolate chip cookies, I decided to add in a few of nature's healthy additives to make them both delicious and nutritious! So here's my recipe for whole wheat flax & oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Roasted Cabbage Steaks With Goat Cheese & Rosemary Potatoes

Today was a longgggg day. I didn't get home until about 10pm, so obviously I wanted to spend more time eating than I did cooking. I went to the fridge and noticed a bunch more leftover red cabbage, possibly on the verge of going bad. In my continual effort to figure out what the hell one does with red cabbage to make it delicious, I decided to try out this recipe. And, it definitely worked. Deeeelicious. Since I was already roasting cabbage, I decided why not throw in some potatoes as well? pan, one meal, hardly any clean up! So here it is, my 2 simple and amazing recipes for an epic meal time. (PS this was an individual serving, so adjust if you want to make more!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet Potato and Kidney Bean Curry

I think i was stuck on a desert island and had to pick one type of world cuisine to eat everyday for the rest of my life, it would be Indian. There is literally no curry that has passed my lips that I haven't loved. But, alas, all you can eat Indian lunch buffets and the occasional dinner out can get quite expensive. Here's my cheap, and just as delicious, alternative to eating out. The sauce can be made separately and stored in the fridge in a mason jar so you can use it on whatever you want, or make impromptu curries whenever you want. Try it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eggs & Tempeh Bacon

So there's no denying that bacon is great. This was one of the only meats that I ate before I became vegetarian, in fact. I miss it sometimes, but not really anymore since making tempeh bacon. Its just that awesome.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Honey Almond Facial Soap

So I've recently been reading all about the skin healing benefits of raw honey on the skin. Not only is it great for you to eat, but it has amaaazing effects on practically every skin type. This article lays out all the benefits, but to surmise it is:

-Antibacterial and antimicrobial
-Can be drying or moisturizing, depending on your skin
-Contains tons of good-for-you enzymes
-Helps repair sores and scars
-No additives!

Be careful what you use though...only Raw or wild honey works. Other normal types of honey will often contain additives or only be a certain percentage actual honey. I got this stuff from Trader Joe's (also goes wonderfully in tea)

What I did for the cleanser was:
2 Parts raw honey
2 parts liquid almond castile soap (though any would work, I just like the idea of honey-almond)
1 Part warm water

I just added the honey and warm water and stirred it up, then added the castile soap and stirred again until everything was mixed well together into one liquid. I tried it for the first time tonight..its amazing! My skin was literally glowing..incredible what nature can do! 

Here's the final product

Followed by some ACV toner this makes the perfect nightly skin care routine!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Winter Squash, Kale & Red Onion Pasta with Sage Goat Cheese Sauce

So...goat cheese. Possibly one of the more heavenly substances on earth. I could pretty much eat it in any way, shape, or form. I was having a friend over for dinner tonight and upon seeing a half-consumed log of it in my fridge, I decided I should figure out a way to use it, and on a cold winter day what could be better than  Winter squash..or pasta..or both? Both won. Here's my little concoction from this evening that turned out absolutely delectable! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Butternut Roasted Vegetable Stew

Today was one of those days where I could feel my body feinding for nutrition. Having not eaten too particularly well over the past few days (happens to the best of us) I could feel my body needed a big fat dosage of vegetables- stat! So I thought that a nice, hearty and filling veggie stew would be perfect. After a quite indecisive trip to the store, I came home with a plethora of vegetables. But, better to eat your rainbow than stick to one color! So here it is, my recipe for (rainbow) butternut and roasted veggie stew. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade Tinctures and Body Lotion

Today one of my best friends and I decided to take a mental health day and go get a reiki session and spend some time shopping for herbs. Probably one of the best decisions I've made in a while. After the absolutely extraordinary and enlightening reiki session, we bought a huge number of herbs to make tinctures with. I decided to make a women's health tincture, a liver detox tincture, and a quit smoking tincture. We'll see how they turn out in 3-6 weeks!

Here are the fledgling tinctures..updates to come soon!

We also made a lavender, bees wax and almond oil body lotion. It works phenomenally. Can't wait to experiment with more essential oils/ body oil combinations. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Apple Cider Vinegar Facial Toner

The benefits of apple cider vinegar have really been coming to the forefront as of late. After stumbling across this post a few days ago, I decided I'd give it a whirl.

I used about a 1:3 ratio of ACV to water for this. Only time will tell how what effects it will have. I'll report back.

***And check out this link for a ton more health benefits and uses for ACV. It's crazy how much stuff this smelly liquid can do. 

Improv Night (Cont): Red Cabbage, Chickpea and Parsnip Soup

I don't know if this sounds appealing to you all or not, but, trust me..its DELICIOUS! Today was the first snow of the year, and I felt I needed a warm, hearty stew-like dinner. The red cabbage in this recipe almost gives it a sort of meaty texture which I never would have thought possible, while the slightly pureed chickpeas give it a hearty, creamy texture. So much goodness for the taste buds and the body! Ya just gotta try it. (If you like hot foods add some hot sauce, gives the perfect kick to it)

Improv Night: Edamame Spinach Pesto!

So tonight was one of those nights where I felt like making something, came home and found out that I was missing a few key ingredients...kind of a bummer. But luckily there's usually a fridge (and freezer) full of veggies to play with, so options are always available. We had a whole bunch of red cabbage, and parsnips from the farm share this week so I decided to use those up in a soup. And unfortunately it seems like my basil plant is on its way out, so I thought I'd whip up some kale-basil pesto as well. But alas, no kale this week! I then looked in the freezer and found frozen spinach and frozen edamame, and thought that'd all be good together..why not? Spinach, edamame, and basil pesto. Cool, and surprisingly absolutely delicious (with an extra protein kick). See the next post for soup recipe.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Smoky Parsnip & White Bean Potage

I'm all about potages. Come fall and winter, there is nothing heartier and more nutritious than a huge bowl of pureed vegetables. This week in our farm share, we got a huge supply of parsnips. With their delicate sweet flavor and pale yellow color, I thought white beans would compliment them well. To jazz up the mild flavor, I added a hint of spice and smokiness. I ate this with some baguette and smoked gouda cheese on the side...went so well together!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I'm sort of obsessed with my slow cooker. I just recently discovered this is possible after the classic New England Apple picking excursion this fall. Not only is this recipe jam packed with fiber, it is also delicious on breads, cakes, and in oatmeal. Try it out! (Note: I only have a 1 qt slow cooker, so you can adjust the recipe to the size of yours)

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

3 Cups assorted apples (soft ones such as Macintosh work best)
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1. Peel, core, and chop up the apples. Throw them into the slow cooker with a few Tbsp of water. Put lid on, turn on high and let them cook down.
2. When the apples seem to have the color and consistency of apple sauce ( this took about 3-4 hours for me) open up your slow cooker, mix up the apples to help them break down a bit further, and add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix these up, put the lid back on and let the apples cook for another few hours, or until it is very reduced and a dark brown color. Store in an airtight container or a mason jar.

Health Benefits!!
Apple- High fiber helps in digestion and aids in cleaning teeth naturally, helps to generally detoxify the body
Cinnamon-lowers blood sugar levels, increases insulin production helping prevent type 2 diabetes, has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, smelling cinnamon alone improves cognitive functioning, fights E.Coli bacteria, has been shown to alleviate headache 


Kale Basil Pesto

We've been getting so much kale in out farm share recently, if you're in the same predicament or just feel like improving the health benefits of your normal pesto without sacrificing flavor, try this out. Its great on pasta, in sandwiches or paninis...pretty much on anything!

Kale Basil Pesto

-2 Cups Curly Kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
-1 Cup fresh basil
-1/2 Cup pine nuts (or shelled sunflower seeds for a nutless version)
-2 Cloves of Garlic
-Olive Oil

1. Place curly kale, fresh basil, pine nuts/ sunflower seeds, and garlic in a food processor. Process a few times until everything is roughly chopped up.
2. Drizzle in olive oil while blending until the basil is smooth
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper

Health Benefits!
Kale- High in antioxidants to help prevent cancer and heart disease. High in calcium to encourage strong, healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions. High in vitamin C, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium. 
Basil-  having a highly disinfecting property, basil can help reduce the symptom of fever, can give digestion relief due to certain components in the essential oil, boosts the immune system, and much more
Garlic- Contains allicin, an incredibly medicinal component, especially in raw garlic (like in this recipe!) Allicin can help prevent high blood pressure, aid in digestion, aid in inflammation reduction, help prevent and cure cold, and much much more!
Sunflower seeds- Sunflower seeds improve digestion, brain power and cardiovascular system; it is rich in magnesiumpotassium, selenium, zinc and iron.


Extra Gingery Gingerbread

Who'd of thought that classic, delicious gingerbread could actually be made into a healthy, and hearty dessert? Yes, its true that as with all baked goods, this should be eaten in moderation but if you slip up, don't worry! The health benefits of ginger and all the other spices in this recipe are through the roof. Try this super gingery version of the classic for breakfast, snack or dessert!

Extra Gingery Gingerbread

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1/4 vegetable oil & 1/4 cup applesauce)
3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tbs fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a nonstick 8.5x 4.5x 2.5 in loaf pan. 
2. Mix together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in the crystallized ginger and raisins and stir into flour mixture.
3. Add in the oil, molasses, sugar, egg, fresh grated ginger and vanilla extract. Mix until well incorporated into the dry ingredients. 
4. Add 1/2 cup boiling water directly into the batter and stir until completely incorporated. 
5. Pour into prepared loaf pan, and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and let sit til cool before digging in.

Health Benefits!!
Ginger- relieves nausea and indigestion, prevents motion sickness, may help morning sickness, antispasmotic  properties help relieve cramps, useful in helping arthritis, can reduce cholesterol levels in blood, and it is an aphrodisiac ;-)
Cloves- warming and stimulating effect of the body, can relieve nausea and vomiting, fights against oral diseases, boosts immune system, has antimicrobial properties, and is -also- an aphrodisiac
Cinnamon- lowers blood sugar levels, increases insulin production helping prevent type 2 diabetes, has an anti-clotting effect on the blood, smelling cinnamon alone improves cognitive functioning, fights E.Coli bacteria, has been shown to alleviate headache  
Blackstrap Molasses- Yes, a sweetener that is GOOD for you! Unrefined and delicious, blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron (2 tsp provides you with a wopping 13% of your daily intake), it is also high in calcium (2 tsp will provide you with almost 12% of your daily intake). Also a good source of copper and manganese. 

The A to Z Guide to Healing Herbal Remedies, Jason Elias and Selagh Ryan Masline