Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

Happy Wednesday.

This week I bring you a delicious cookie recipe that happens to be vegan and wheat free (whaaaat?!) and some information that will hopefully enrich your life a little and maybe even make it better.

Do you eat granola?  And if so, do you consider it a healthier option than other popular breakfast foods? Nutritionist have long known that most commercial granola is chock full of sugar and consider it a dessert. I suppose that rings true with many of the granolas you’ll find on the shelves. I have found one I love with only good ingredients like oats, dried fruit, millet and quinoa. Purely Elizabeth has an ancient grain line that I love, with my fave being cranberry pecan. It has 6 grams of sugar per 1/3 cup. Ok, yes, 1/3 cup is a very small serving. I pour that much into my bowl and add slivered almonds, fresh blueberries and chia seeds. So, then I’ve got good proteins and fat and it isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. You can also use it to sprinkle on unsweetened yogurt. The thing about granola is that it isn’t meant to be eaten in large quantities. Think of it as an addition to your breakfast rather than the main event. 

As you might have read in previous posts, my 11 year old is in the middle of an elimination diet. She’s about halfway through. It’s been a challenge, to say the least. But she’s getting used to it. Yesterday she told me she thought giving up wheat and dairy would be the hardest but actually it’s corn and nightshades, because potato starch and/or corn derivatives are in most packaged foods. Most gluten-free products contain one or both. Almost all candy has corn syrup (yes, candy isn’t healthy, we know that). It’s hard to avoid corn, no matter how much you might try, unless everything you eat is prepared at home from scratch (hello, unrealistic for most).One thing that she has missed is a good chocolate chip cookie. Most chocolate chips have dairy, but I found a brand called Enjoy Life that are vegan and also free of almost all allergens. Yesterday she made a batch of spelt chocolate chip cookies that were to die for. I’m not kidding, they are so good. She found the recipe here: Chocolate Chip Cookies. The only thing I did to help was put the cookies in the oven and take them out at the end. Don’t these look amazing?


And finally, if you’re like me and try to make meals using up your pantry items a few times a year, here’s a great list of things you can cook. My husband gets super excited when I do this because it means I’m being economical and there’s nothing sexy than being economical!

Here’s to a great rest of your week. As always, please share this post with someone you think might enjoy it. Even better, click to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any great tidbits!

 

 

 

New Recipe: Easy Peanut Butter Balls (and an update on the elimination diet).


Today is day 10 of my daughter’s modified elimination diet. Tomorrow is the first day that we start adding foods back in. She gets to eat 5-6 servings of one of the food groups that we’ve been avoiding, followed by two days of “watch and wait”. She has chosen nightshades  because she really misses tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.

I’ll be honest: neither one of us has seen or noticed any changes since starting the elimination protocol. Maybe when we introduce things back into her diet she’ll notice something. Hopefully there won’t be a big reaction which would indicate a sensitivity and a need to avoid.

The last 10 days have been trying for her. I get it. When you’re told you can’t have something it only makes you want it more, right? But she is still being a trooper and I commend her for it. There has been no whining, no tantrums, no pushback. She’s stoic (like her dad) and while she really has disliked this experience intensely, she’s persevered.

We just took a three day girls’ trip and I packed much of our food. Eating out was a challenge but we found some places willing to work with us. Two of the restaurants specialized in vegan and gluten-free which usually means that they are more open to special requests. And both happened to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so that was cool. Shout outs go to At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe and Duluth Grill!

Now on to the new recipe I promised. These Easy Peanut Butter Balls are full of protein, healthy fats, and healthy whole grains. They really couldn’t be easier to make and they are guaranteed to please just about anyone. Make a double batch and keep them in your fridge for an easy grab-and-go breakfast for busy mornings and after school snacks.

EASY PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup natural peanut butter (I really like the no-stir Whole Foods creamy)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup vanilla protein powder (I couldn’t get by without Orgain, which happens to be vegan)

1/2 cup honey (use local if you have seasonal allergies, as it’s thought to help with symptoms)

Optional: chocolate chips

METHOD:

Stir all the ingredients together, then form into balls the size of a golf ball. If they are too sticky, add a bit more protein powder or oats. Likewise, if they are too dry, add a bit of honey or peanut butter. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Will you try these? Do you have a variation you like?  Tell me in the comments!

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NEW RECIPE! Spelt Pancakes: better than you’d imagine!

New Recipe! Pan Fried Tofu

 

NEW RECIPE! Spelt Pancakes: better than you’d imagine!

If you’ve read my blog recently, you know my daughter is currently doing a modified elimination diet. Even though not one person has made a disparaging comment, I feel a little defensive about this decision. I don’t take drastic dietary changes lightly, even as a holistic nutrition student. Making big diet adjustments can be really hard on anyone, and for kids even more so. But, here we are, and on day 5 no less.  It has not been fun for her, but I’m doing my best to make foods for her that are similar to what she already loves.  Yesterday I made a quesadilla using brown rice tortillas and goat’s milk cheddar.  Let’s just say that wasn’t a home run.

But on Saturday morning, I made chocolate pancakes using the spelt flour that was recommended by our nutritionist. They were delicious and she asked for them again yesterday. SUCCESS! Sadly I forgot to snap a photo for the blog, but rest assured they looked fantastic.

They aren’t gluten-free, but rather wheat-free which is part of our protocol. They were fluffy (but also dense, if that makes any sense?!). And the taste was on par with traditional pancakes. Here’s how I made them:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups spelt flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups milk (we used Ripple milk, a new milk made from green peas)

A generous sprinkling of dark chocolate chips or blueberries

Butter (we used Earth Balance vegan butter)

METHOD:

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Slowly fold in the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing thoroughly.

Add in chocolate chips (you can also use blueberries or whatever add-ins you prefer). I didn’t measure the chips, but rather eyeballed to our preference.

Melt a little butter in the skillet and add a mixing-spoonful of batter to the hot surface.

Cook, checking for doneness frequently. When the pancake is firm enough to flip, turn over and cook until done.

ENJOY! Please let me know what you think of these pancakes if you make them at home! I always love comments and shares. 

You might also like:

New Recipe! Pan Fried Tofu

Braised Chicken With Green Olives & Garlic

 

 

New Recipe! Pan Fried Tofu

Pan Fried Tofu

I love tofu. But I have always been a little afraid to cook with it at home because it felt fussy to me. For years I’ve been wanting to try pan frying it, ever since my friend Becky told me she made it and it was really delicious.

The other day I was hungry for lunch and I had very little in my refrigerator. I did, however, have some organic extra firm tofu. I looked up a few different recipes and decided to use a mixture of all of them. What I love about pan fried tofu is the crispy “skin”. The texture is really pleasing and if you season it well it will taste delicious.

I always buy organic if I can, and I eat it at most a couple of times a week. Lots of studies show that whole soy can be healthy for us in many ways, but there are also conflicting studies that show the opposite.  As with all things, it’s up to the individual to decide what is right for them.  If you are interested in reading more about soy and your health, click here, here or here.  One thing is for certain: it’s high in protein (it’s actually a complete protein, something you rarely find in vegetarian food), low in calories, and has some healthy fat to keep you full.

PAN FRIED TOFU

1 package firm or extra firm tofu (organic if possible)

1-2 T (or more) of olive oil

2-3T corn starch (buy organic if you wish)

Salt and pepper

2 T honey

1/4 cup soy sauce (I prefer the San-J gluten-free Tamari)

1 t garlic powder

METHOD:

Slice tofu into 1/2 inch “fillets”

Place tofu folded paper towels on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place a small casserole dish on top of tofu, and then place a heavy can or jar of sauce in the casserole dish to press down on the tofu. Let stand for 15 minutes to squeeze out excess liquid.

Pat tofu dry, then place in a colander.  Sprinkle the corn starch all over the tofu.  This is what’s going to give it a nice crust.

Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan and when hot, place the tofu in the pan. Let sit for about 5 minutes to form a nice golden brown crust, checking periodically to make sure it’s not burning.

In the meantime, combine honey, soy sauce and garlic powder in a small saucepan, and heat over medium-low, stirring often, until it reduces to a glaze.

Turn tofu over to brown the other side.  When done, place on a plate and drizzle the glaze on top.

ENJOY!

You might also like:

Easy Posole

Quinoa With Roasted Butternut Squash

Hearty Lentil Soup

 

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

Welcome to Wednesday! You’ve made it this far, you should be proud! There’s a lot of health and wellness information coming out this week, and I’m excited to share some of it with you.

Have you ever wondered what might happen if you gave up sugar for an entire year?  Like, really gave it up.  No white sugar, no fruit juice concentrate, no maple syrup, no honey? If I’m being honest, the thought of giving up sweet stuff altogether makes me shudder. I grew up in a house in which my sugar consumption was very strictly monitored. My sister and I would ride our bikes to the corner store to buy candy bars behind our mom’s back. For years afterwards, I was a total candy and soda addict and couldn’t control myself around sugar. I finally figured out how to regulate. Now I raise my daughter differently, to have access to sweets in moderation and to teach her how to self moderate. It’s not easy though, and we sometimes get off track. A reboot sounds like a good idea from time to time. Not a year, but maybe like a week? Read this to find out how one family did it, and how they felt at the end of the year. Thanks to my friend Annie for forwarding this along to me!

I have been subscribing to HelloFresh for a few weeks now, and overall I’m pretty pleased. I love their vegetable boxes because they are more affordable and we are also trying to eat more vegetarian meals. I cringe at the waste of packing materials but we are recycling them so I feel better about that. I love that we get to try new recipes that helps me get out of my meal ruts, especially when time is short and I have less time to give it thought. Tonight I made black bean quesadillas with caramelized onions and they were so good even my 11 year old gobbled them up. Click on the link for the recipe so you can make them at home! Use whole wheat or gluten free tortillas if that’s what appeals to you.

And finally, if you’ve been thinking “Gee, I really wish there was a funny food blog I could read today” look no further than ProntoPup. His most recent post on his attempt to go vegan, only to realize that he’s really a “vaguean” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) is hilarious, honest, and will make you wish you could have dinner with him. Spoiler alert, I get to have dinner with him, and it will probably consist of tofu steak!

Have a great rest of your week, you guys.  Don’t forget to check back on Friday for a new cocktail recipe!

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

AHHH, Summer.  Those endless, lazy days when you have all the time in the world to cook and bake and harvest the vegetables you’ve lovingly grown in your backyard….

Vegetable_Cart_in_Guntur

HAHAHAHAHA.  Why do I always think this is what summer will be?  When it’s January and 20 below and I need something to help get me through those frigid dark days of winter, this is the image that sustains me. But, let’s be honest. It’s TOTAL BULLCRAP!

Summer is busy and frenetic and essentially consists of me shuttling my 11 year old to and fro. In Minnesota the weather is warm for only a short time, so we also cram as much outdoor activity as we can. Which means the house is messy and the chores don’t get done and there’s constantly flip flops and sunscreen scattered everywhere. And now for some inexplicable reason we have a problem with flies. Also, my tomatoes aren’t growing well and the dill never even came up and I can’t even get my geraniums to stay alive. But, you know, SUMMER. So anyway…families still need to eat.

That’s why I like these strategies for putting dinner on the table in a shorter amount of time.  Because everyone’s busy!

You now what else falls off during the summer?  My workouts. Sure, I golf a ton (I always walk and carry my bag, so there’s that). I’ve been getting to barre about once a week as well. But there’s no routine and it can’t be counted on. I’ve done this 7 Minute Workout by the New York Times in the past and love it. It’s challenging and works my whole body. It’s perfect for anywhere, including when you travel. Knock it out once a day and you’ll feel stronger in no time.

And finally, here is my all time favorite summer recipe for Caprese Pasta. I make it once a week and it’s so easy. When tomatoes and basil are in season, it is so fresh and delicious. Everyone likes it and it’s easy to throw together at the last minute.

Enjoy the rest of your week! As always, please leave a comment and share this post if you like what you read!

 

Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

Happy Thursday!  I hope you are having a fantastic week.  And, if you aren’t, I hope you find a little bit of happiness here at Cultivate Wellness.

I plan on writing a longer, more thorough blog post about my recent experience being interviewed on our local NPR station, but in the meantime I wanted to post the link so you can listen for yourself.  Remember that post I wrote about the horrible swimsuit spread in Discovery Girls magazine?   It created quite a bit of discussion, including with the host of our morning news show on Minnesota Public Radio.   She decided to dedicate an entire show to the topic of body shaming in young girls, and asked to interview me.  You can listen to the entire show here.  I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on it and keep the discussion going, so please share and comment!

Speaking of people struggling with body image issues, I read this piece, entitled Fat Dad: The Coffee and Cigarette Diet recently in Well section of The New York Times and it touched my heart.  I thought it was lovingly written.  So often we talk about women and body image, but it’s a good reminder that men struggle with this issue too.

Do you love potato salad as much as I do?  I love it in all forms: with celery, with egg, with mayo, with vinegar.  Dill, parsley, scallions, mint.  It’s *all* good in my book.  Here’s a healthy, delicious looking red, white and blue potato salad just in time for Independence Day.

Have a great rest of your week, whatever you have planned!

As always, I’d be so grateful if you shared my blog with people you think would like it, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, via email, or word of mouth (or all!).

You might also like:

Last week’s Midweek Mashup

Bikini Body

Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup