This is a picture I took late one frosty November evening after I completed the final fall harvest. Carrots, parsnip and salsify. And yes, that is quite a bit of parsnip. And yes, some of them seem to be monstrous in size. (I couldn’t wrap my hand around a few of them!) And no, hubby does not like parsnip and with its distinctive flavour it is a hard vegetable to hide. Trust me. I’ve tried.
So I gave some away to some parsnip-loving friends, and still my fridge drawer is full. I love them roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic and spices. But there is only so much parsnip a girl can roast!
Enter parsnip muffins. I found a great recipe through Whole Foods, and then, of course, I changed it. My version is made with a mix of whole wheat and spelt flours, uses butter instead of oil, and honey instead of sugar. And they are yummy. Spiced like carrot cake, moist, but not too moist, with the sweetness of raisins and the heartiness of nuts. If you don’t have parsnips, I am sure you could substitute carrot and still have stellar results.
Parsnip and Apple Muffins
Makes 18 muffins
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 cup whole white flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/3 cup almond milk (or any milk)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 parsnips, peeled and grated
- 1 large apple, peeled and grated (without the core, of course!)
Grease muffin pans or line with paper liners. Combine flours with baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir in raisins and nuts. In separate bowl combine eggs, melted butter, milk, honey and vanilla. Add into flour mixture along with parsnip and apple. Stir until just mixed.
Fill muffin tins and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
What vegetables do you have to find creative uses for?
One of the benefits of all of the crazy things that have been going on with my health lately is that I have discovered that I no longer have an allergy (or at least a reaction) to chocolate.
This is one thing that has been fun to add back to my diet (in small amounts of course) and I am enjoying being able to try out some new recipes that I would have had to pass by only a few short months ago.
But I am still eating mostly dairy-free, and now that I have managed to go several months without refined sugar I am reluctant to fall back on baking or cooking with it.
Enter Dark Chocolate Pudding made with coconut milk and honey. Dairy free, and free of refined sugar.
This is a very rich pudding, slightly bitter, and full of dark chocolate flavour. The original recipe called for just 2 tablespoons of honey, but I added a couple more for a slightly sweet dessert. Hubby added spoonfuls of sugar and a drizzling of chocolate sauce to his bowl and it still wasn’t to his liking, so this might be one for dark chocolate fans only!
Dark Chocolate Pudding made with Coconut Milk and Honey
The original recipe comes from this cookbook .
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 ounces dark chocolate (I used an organic dark chocolate bar)
- 4 tbsp honey
- 2 large egg yolks
Whisk egg yolks. Pour in a small amount of the hot coconut milk mixture, whisking continuously, then pour the eggs into the pot and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth and it coats the back of a spoon. (I use a candy thermometer to make sure the pudding has reached at least 160 degrees to kill any bacteria that might be hiding in the egg yolks.)
Pour into ramekins or small bowls, place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface so it doesn’t form a skin, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
I LOVE these cookies. I love what they don’t have in them (no oils, no refined sugar, no dairy, wheat) and I love what they do have in them (oats and spelt and honey and peanut butter), but most of all I just love them because they taste good. And Hubby gives them the thumbs up too, which is saying a lot for a generally healthy cookie.
They are based on this recipe, but adapted to exclude wheat and dairy. The original recipe calls them “breakfast cookies” but I think they make a yummy dessert or snack too. And change up the nut butter, the dried fruit, and the liquid and the possible variations are endless! (How about cashew apple raisin? Or almond orange cranberry?)
Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies
- 1/2 cup mashed banana
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp almond milk (or other liquid)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup spelt flour (or other flour)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Combine the banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and almond milk until smooth. In a small bowl, stir together oats, flour, cinnamon and baking soda and then combine with the peanut butter banana mixture. Fold in raisins.
Drop spoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined pans, and flatten with a wet spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
I am slowly getting the hang of this new way of eating. One of my friends said to me the other day that watching me do this has made her more aware of just how much wheat she eats. All I can say is, me too. Bread, muffins, biscuits, cookies, fruit crisp, cake, oh how I miss my baking!
I have also discovered that there is definitely a learning curve to baking without wheat. Especially when you also aren’t eating eggs. But…ta-da! Some moist, delicious, yummy, muffins! The inspiration came from here. I used ground flax instead of eggs and after reading a lot about guar gum and xanthan gum I have decided they aren’t something I want to add into my diet. But chia seeds to the rescue! I read here that you can substitute chia (or ground flax) for gums – hooray! And so, muffins are back into my life! I made this batch with raisins and almonds, but think I might experiment with some fresh fruit for the next batch.
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 water
- 1/2 Tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of water
- 1/2 tsp chia seed mixed with 1 1/2 tsp hot water
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 tsp cinamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 cup nuts or seeds
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
As I am working at adjusting to this new way of eating, there are certain foods I crave more than others. Nachos is one of them. Crispy tortilla chips, topped with spicy beans, salsa, veggies, laden with cheese and baked in the oven until it becomes a hot, melty mess. Yum.
But nacho chips are not on my list of acceptable foods at the moment. (and please, let’s not even talk about cheese, ok?)
So imagine my excitement when I learned I could make my own, healthier, baked version of this favourite food! (Insert dance of joy!)
This is so easy to do, and unlike some “healthier” substitutes, it does not taste like a poor version of the real thing, but has the same great corn crunch as the orginal.
Ready to see how easy this is?
Baked Tortilla Chips
First, you need corn tortillas. If you are lucky, you can buy these at your local supermarket. If you are even luckier, you can buy sprouted corn tortillas at your supermarket or health food store, which are even better for you. Not being able to find either, I, of course, learned how to make my own. (This is also ridiculously simple – I promise I’ll share the recipe later, but if you can’t wait to make your own I found the recipe on my bag of Maseca – the flour the tortillas are made from)
Heat your oven to 375. Use a pizza cutter to cut your tortillas into quarters.
Toss with olive oil and herbs or spices of your choice. (I used chipotle chili, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt.)
Lay out the tortillas in a single layer on a baking pan.
Bake for about ten minutes, or until crispy. (Thicker tortillas may take longer.)
Done! Cover with your favourite nacho toppings and enjoy!
That bright orange processed-looking cheese is actually a sauce made from cashews and roasted red peppers and it is delicious. You can find the recipe here (this was my inspiration for baked tortilla chips, too!)
Any other nacho fans out there? What are your favourite toppings?
Ever been sick and not known why?
Ever have a doctor tell you that since your blood work came back normal, you must be feeling fine?
Ever try to keep yourself really busy as a way to cope with constant pain that people in the medical field try to tell you doesn’t really exist?
This has been my life, on and off, since I was ten years old and caught my first “mystery illness.” I still remember being awake late at night, with my stomach in knots and the room dipping and swaying as if I were on a boat in the ocean instead of in my bedroom. And my mother read “Little Women” to me until I could finally escape into sleep. No doctor we went to had any answers for us and we “waited it out” until months later the stomach cramps stopped and my bed was no longer a dipping and swaying yacht.
Fast forward 6 years and once again I was plagued by tummy troubles, insomnia, and nausea. I missed a lot of school that year. I saw a lot of doctors that year. I read books on IBS. I cut out dairy, then eggs, then red meat. I learned how to stay really busy as a way to work through pain. I learned to function on less sleep. I finally cut out all meat and ate as a vegan vegetarian for many years. I have experienced the easing of some symptoms, and then new ones appear.
It’s a roller coaster I don’t want to ride any more.
So I have taken matters into my own hands, and switched my MD for an ND (naturopathic doctor). Although not covered by my health plan, it was worth every penny to have someone actually listen to what I had to say, look at all my symptoms together, and come up with a plan of action.
Which brings me to why I am posting about this here. Because one of the action steps was to change drastically how I eat. No more dairy. No more wheat. No more eggs. No more refined sugars. No processed foods. No oils from nuts or seeds. And although at the moment this is a “for now” diet, and not a “forever” diet, it has certainly dictated the kinds of recipes I have been trying out lately and the kinds of foods coming out of my kitchen. And I have been spending A LOT of time in the kitchen.
But it is not all a “no” diet. It means yes to whole foods. Yes to grains like rice and millet and quinoa. Yes to fruits and veggies. Yes to nuts and seeds and legumes. Yes to coconut and olive oils. Yes to honey and maple syrup. Yes to trying fish, and grass-fed lamb, and duck, maybe even bison. And although I do still sometimes stare at the fridge and wonder what I am possibly going to eat, for the most part there have been more cooking successes then failures, and, of course, I will be sharing my new culinary adventures with you.
For all those times I wanted to go sugar-free and failed, for years of trying to eat only whole, real foods, this has been trial by fire. No easing in. But it’ll be worth it.
So…are you ready to get creative in the kitchen this summer? Here’s to healthy eating!Read More