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Tuesday
Jun212011

Easy Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Granola makes for a convenient and quick breakfast. Serve it with milk or atop a bowl of yogurt.Before diving into today's recipe, I need to bring your attention to a recent post over at Gluten Free Easily, Grieving Gluten: The Five Stages or Loss of Gluten Plus a New One. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with celiac/gluten intolerance, a food allergy or any medical condition that requires substantial modifications to diet, I strongly urge you to read it. Shirley reassured me that the stages of loss I felt when we had to modify our son's diet were real, normal and—okay. And that had I not gone through each and every stage, I may have never made it to "embracement"—seeing the diagnosis as a blessing, being thankful for it and what it has done for our son's health, and the health and future of the entire family.

Early on, one thing I remember grieving was "convenience." The pre-packaged, gluten-free food on the shelves of the grocery store was insanely expensive and really—well, not all that healthy. And with my son's little body needing nourishment, I knew I had to do better than to replace the gluten and dairy he could not have with empty starches and gobs of sugar (which, unfortunately, are found in most processed gluten-free foods).

Frustrated, I set out to find recipes for make-ahead meals that would offer some of the convenience I grown accustomed to before our change in diet. I started making and freezing sausage patties, fermenting four quarts of yogurt at a time, preparing ready-to-blend smoothie kits and baking large batches of granola like the recipe I am sharing today. 

It gets easier, you find your groove. I promise!

Easy Gluten-Free Granola

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes: 6 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups raw WALNUTS
1-1/2 cups raw CASHEW NUTS
2 cups uncontaminated rolled OATS
1 cup QUINOA FLAKES
1/3 cup COCONUT NECTAR or honey (see Notes)
1/3 cup GRAPESEED OIL, light olive oil or liquified coconut oil
20 drops vanilla LIQUID STEVIA (or use 2 additional tablespoons coconut nectar)
1 tablespoon VANILLA EXTRACT
1 teaspoon CINNAMON
1/4 teaspoon SALT
1/8 teaspoon NUTMEG (freshly grated is best)
1 cup unsweetened dried and shredded COCONUT

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300˚F.

Chop nuts (I pulse them in a food processor to a coarse meal for ease of digestion) and transfer to a large bowl. Mix in oats and quinoa flakes. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk coconut nectar, oil, stevia, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour wet mixture over dry and combine well. Spread evenly in a parchment-lined jelly roll pan.

Bake 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until crisp [check on it frequently as this granola has a tendency to get real toasty (aka burn), real quick]. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Stir in coconut and transfer to air-tight glass jar or container.

Notes:

Coconut Secret brand coconut nectar may be found out most natural grocers. Coconut nectar is lower glycemic (averaging 35). For more info, visit Coconut Secret.

As a precaution, some celiacs and gluten-intolerant among us do not tolerate oats. When purchasing oats, always buy certified gluten-free oats—oats that have not been cross contaminated with wheat on a production line.

For an easy nut-free option, consider a combination of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. And for added Omega 3 and 6, mix in a couple of heaping tablespoons of hemp seed along with the coconut. Unsweetened dried cherries are another tasty mix-in.

Other Granola Recipes to Try

Nutty Nola here at Lexie's Kitchen (Raw)

Granola over at Elana's Pantry

Gluten Free Granola over at Our Gluten Free Family

Chai Granola over at The Spunky Coconut

Monday
Jun132011

Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney

The rhubarb in the yard of the abandoned house down the way is growing crazy fast. I find myself raiding the cache daily. With so much rhubarb, I am having to get creative, and busy, finding tasty eats and treats to make with it. Yesterday I set out to make Rhubarb Chutney. And a success it was.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from my late Tutu Bee who made the best mango chutney north of the equator, and from my sister whose plum chutney is close to divine. I have the greatest admiration for these women, their culinary skill and all they have taught me.

Chutney is a savory condiment, with origins in India. It's made of chopped fruit, vinegar, spices and sugar that is simmered down to a chunky spread. Traditionally it is served alongside curry dishes and meat. For me, there's not much I don't like it on. I serve it on crackers with a dollop of dairy-free Toffuti Better Than Cream Cheese or chevre. I use it as a spread on my turkey sandwiches. And I bet it would be an interesting accompaniment to a scoop of cinnamon ice cream (say what?! well you're getting a peek at how my brain works :)!

The addition of Chinese Five Spice gives this chutney a real twist. Traditionally, Chinese Five Spice is a sweet, warm, cool and spicy blend of fennel, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns. Used in the right way and with the right foods, it's magical.

I thought the making of chutney would be complicated—turns out, it's not. It's as easy as dumping a few ingredients into a saucepan and letting it simmer, baby, simmer. Enjoy!

Chinese Five Spice Rhubarb Chutney

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes: About 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup HONEY (I used Gluten-Free Easily's homestead honey ... thanks Ms. Shirley!)
1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR
1/4 cup APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (or balsamic or a mixture of both)
1 CINNAMON stick
2 teaspoons minced fresh GINGER
1 teaspoon finely grated LEMON PEEL
1/2 teaspoon CHINESE FIVE SPICE
1/4 teaspoon SEA SALT
Dash CAYENNE PEPPER (optional)
3 cups 1" cubed RHUBARB
1/4 medium ONION, minced
1/4-1/2 cup dried, unsweetened CHERRIES (or raisins or currants)

Directions:

In medium pot, combine honey, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon stick, ginger, lemon peel, five spice, salt and cayenne. Bring to gentle simmer. Add remaining ingredients and cook down until thick and chunky—about 30-40 minutes over medium low heat, stirring frequently.

Store in a jar in refrigerator. Keeps for about a week. Chutney may be preserved as you would any jam or jelly.

Notes:

Using all coconut sugar or all honey works just as well. The coconut sugar adds a richer color as does using part balsamic vinegar.

Got rhubarb? Lots of it? Chop stalks into cubes (not the leaves, they are toxic), toss into a pot with a splash of water, simmer down 10-15 minutes (or until soft). Scoop rhubarb into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, pop the cubes out and store in a Ziploc bag or glass container in the freezer. Now you can make rhubarb sauce, rhubarb compote, rhubarb syrup, rhubarb pie, most anything rhubarb—lickety split.

Other Bloggers Bloggin' About Rhubarb

Dairy Free, Gluten Free Raw Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie over at My Real Food Life

Creamy Rhubarb and Vodka Cocktail over at Jamie Oliver (I am determined to find a way to make this one alcohol-free so that I can have one everyday for the rest of rhubarb season)

Rhubarb Scones (Gluten-Free and Egg-Free) over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Stewed Rhubarb with Star Anise and Ginger over at Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Thursday
Jun092011

Grant Family Farms Spring Tour 2011

Grant Family Farms Spring Tour | Wellington, Colorado

As we head into another weekend, I thought I would share our highlight of last weekend. Aside from Summer finally making its appearance, it was the weekend of the Grant Family Farms Spring Tour. Grant Family Farms is the local farm we receive produce and eggs from each week for close to six months out of the year.

Every spring they hold this family-centric event. It's a great opportunity to see a large-scale organic farm up close, and to meet people who share your passion for whole food and supporting local farmers.

It was a gorgeous day and while my husband and brother enjoyed some bluegrass, I took in a presention by the Colorado State University Extension on how to Preserve the Harvest. My boys had their share of fun herding worms, making mud seed balls, being spat on by a llama and hay bale jumping.

There were some great vendors I visited with and that I must mention:

And of course great music:

If you live in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, I hope to see you next year! If you live elsewhere, consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Here is a site that will help you locate a farm near you. Our weekly delivery starts next week, can't wait!

Some CSAs offer “Working Shares.” You work the farm, you get a discount. Simple as that. Rewarding as that. Last year I spent 4 hours hoeing, 4 hours weeding and 8 hours picking pumpkins.

The “Art Barn” was a cool hang out on a hot day.

These hens have got it made. Isn’t this the coolest coop? These chickadees get free rides all over the farm. Wonder if they get a discount off of their CSA share? Eating bugs and fertilizing is hard work!

Herding Worms 101. My oldest is really into worms. Our backyard is full of one foot deep holes. He thought this pile of dirt was a goldmine.

Crawfish, it’s what’s for dinner. My little guy doesn’t know that yet.

Ahhh, the majestic front range of the Rocky Mountains. I love, love love it here!

And here's that dinner.

Angie Stevens and her band. Very good! She sings right to the heart of 40 somethings like me. You know like "the house is clean, the dishes are done, I wish I was seventeen again."

Dynamite! Just like our time in Texas. The Cottonwood Grove string band.

With the kids tuckered out, we loaded up and headed back north. I made my husband do a U-turn so that I could get this shot. We literally live "where the deer and the antelope play." What a beautiful site at the end of a beautiful day. They have the prettiest eyelashes.

 

Monday
Jun062011

Carrot Cake Smoothie | Dairy-Free 

My husband's love for carrot cake and my son's abhorrence of most vegetables, in their natural form, inspired this smoothie.The little one in our house that eats everything just will not eat most vegetables in their natural form. That's not to say we don't to try, beg, plead. To date we've conquered his aversion to broccoli trees, green beans and cannonball peas. For the rest, well, we rely on smoothies. You can hide A LOT in them. Today I served up carrot cake in a glass. It won his "mmmmm." Will it win yours?

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Easily Sweetener-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Serves:  1-2
Active Time:  3 minutes

Ingredients:

1 large handful roughly chopped raw CARROT
1 small handful raw WALNUTS
2 cups non-dairy MILK (today I used unsweetened So Delicious® Coconut Milk Beverage)
1/4 teaspoon CINNAMON (or to taste)
1 tablespoon LEMON JUICE
Pinch of SALT
Sweeten to taste with your favorite SWEETENER (I use 10 drops of stevia concetrate)
1 cup ICE CUBES (or more if you like super frosty smoothies)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender (I use a Blendtec), except ice, until super smooth. Add ice and blend until smooth.

How have you won your kids over to vegetables?

Share by leaving a comment below. We'd love to hear!?

Monday
May302011

[Don't] Shake Your Kombucha

Really, what IS it? Read on to find out ...

This past weekend our little family took a drive west toward Laramie—that'd be Wyoming—to have lunch at one of our favorite spots, Lovejoy's Bar & Grill. The usual routine; lunch at Lovejoy's and then a stroll across the street for a leisurely cup of coffee at Coal Creek Coffee Company.

Coal Creek Coffee Company | Laramie, WyomingThen we trek to the top of the Laramie Railway Bridge where we wait for oncoming trains to race under our feet. One, two, fifteen, twenty, forty-five cars—what a rush!

Laramie Railway Bridge | Laramie, WyomingLastly, before heading home via Happy Jack Road, it's a stop at one of our favorite natural food stores, Big Hollow Food Coop.

This store is a gem!

It's where I pick up vanilla beans for $1.49 a piece and where I first found beet powder.

It's where I buy local duck eggs and bison.

And where I bought this here Oregon Kombucha Company Starter Kit.

A kombucha kit? Yep! Total impulse buy.

I'd tried a few of the store bought varieties of bottled kombucha, why not brew some up myself!?

For those unfamiliar with kombucha, it is a tart and fizzy fermented beverage made from sweetened tea (black or green). For the last 2,000 years, families across Asia have enjoyed kombucha for its purported medicinal qualities.

Once home, and with great anticipation, I dove into my kombucha starter kit.  I pulled out the directions, check. Then some strawberry scented green tea, check. Then a bag of yellowish liquid with a chunk of slimy white matter floating in it.

"What is that!?," my husband remarked.

I hadn't the faintest.

Back to the directions.

Turns out the slimy pancake thing was a chunk of SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). It's the tasty "mother" morsel (not!) that feeds on the sweetened tea and transforms it into kombucha. The blob almost frightened me into forgoing the experiment, but I decided to forge ahead.

With all my equipment sterilized, I got to work. I brewed the tea, dissolved a cup of organic cane sugar into it, let it cool, added the blob and the liquid it swam in to the tea, set it in a warm spot and now, well, now I wait 7-30 days.

Of what little research is out there, kombucha has shown to have antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties in lab tests. For me, the verdict is still out. Some sources have scared me into not even wanting to touch the stuff. Others have likened it to miracle water. We'll just have to see how this mad science experiment turns out. Look for an update in a week or two—if I survive the first sip.

More on Kombucha

How to Make Kombucha over at Seeds of Health
Kombucha: What It Is and Its Health Benefits and Health Drawbacks over at Body Ecology
The Kombucha Starter Kit Company Brewing Instructions over at Oregon Kombucha
What is Kombucha? over at Happy Healthy Life

DISCLAIMER: If you are going to try this at home, do so at your own risk—I am. As with anything new, read up on it. Kombucha may not be the right beverage for you. The Body Ecology article above makes the case that kombucha may not be the best fermented beverage for people following the Anti-Candida Diet and/or those with compromised immune systems. It's always best to seek the advice of a nutritionist or doctor.

Share with Us

Do you drink kombucha? What's your take on it?