'Peanut Allergy Princess' is the story of one mom, one Princess with food allergies (to peanuts and brazil nuts) and our journey through the stress of life with food allergies. Here you will find many recipes, tips on living (and enjoying life) with food allergies, thoughts from a mother of 3 kids (The Brothers and The Princess) and insights into our life. Welcome!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

The Princess would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas!

We are enjoying the snow (we had a white Christmas at our house thanks to 8 inches of new snow yesterday), fun new toys and christmas presents and time spent with family. We hope you are enjoying the same and have a wonderful (and safe) holiday season!


Jana

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Egg-less" Gingerbread Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

I haven't been putting "egg-less" in the titles of my posts because lately it seems so tacky to me, but as you have probably noticed the term "egg-less" has made a reappearance into this title. It wasn't that my other recipes weren't "egg-less", it just seemed tacky to always be adding that to the title.  But I decided this week that the term "egg-less" sets my recipes apart from other recipes, hence it is back to stay.

So, today's recipe took me FOREVER to perfect. I can't even remember how many batches I made to get this one right. I even tested a few different recipes, trying to find the perfect one. One batch was so crumbly they were near impossible to eat, another batch pretty much overflowed their muffin cups and and went all over my oven. Not pretty!

Anyway... I finally made the perfect cupcakes! I LOVE molasses - almost as much as I love spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves... those yummy spices) so when the two get put together with some maple frosting on top, it is the perfect combination. And gingerbread is so christmasy and festive. These would be great for that holiday party coming up!



"Egg-less"Gingerbread Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

For Cupcakes:

2 1/4 cups wonder flour (or other whole grain flour like spelt or kamut)*

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

1/3 cup raw sugar

pinch salt

1 cup no-sugar added applesauce

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

For Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tbsp. maple syrup

Almond milk  (if further thinning is required)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners (the more festive the better - since it is Christmas).

Mix the dry ingredients together. *If you end up using white flour, cut the measurement back to 2 1/3 cups.

In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients until well combined. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until just barely combined.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin pan. The batter should come just short of the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting by putting butter in a large bowl and beating until whipped. Add powdered sugar and beat for another minute. Scrape down the sides and add the maple syrup. Mix for another 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

Cool in muffin pan for a few minutes, than remove to wire rack.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, frost in desired manner.

Recipe adapted from The Village Vegan



Jana



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cinnamon Caramel Corn

I promised more allergy friendly dessert recipes... so here is another one. I LOVE caramel corn - who doesn't really? OK, Brother #1 thinks he is allergic to caramel because it makes his mouth feel "funny" (aren't kids silly), so he won't eat it, but most people like it.

I like to use an air-popper when I make popcorn. They are inexpensive and so easy to use. Air-popped popcorn also makes a delicious, quick and healthy snack for after school or when you have the munchies.

I discovered brown rice syrup about 6 or 7 months ago and it is one of my new favorite finds. It is so much healthier than corn syrup, but can be used to replace it in recipes. You can also use honey to replace corn syrup  but I like using brown rice syrup better because it doesn't change the flavor of the recipe like honey does. I buy mine through Azure Standard (it is a little bit cheaper than Amazon). I order a few jars when I am ordering my grains and coconut oil in bulk and it will usually get me through 4-6 months (depending on how much popcorn I make). I also buy my molasses through Azure Standard. I prefer to buy unsulphured black strap molasses, but any molasses will do.

Cinnamon Caramel Corn

12 cups air-popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped kernels)

3/4 cup sucanat

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

1 Tbsp molasses

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter*

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 squares almond bark (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil or spray with non-stick spray.

Air pop popcorn, pull out all unpopped kernels (I cracked a tooth once on an unpopped kernel and had to get a crown put on. So, for safety sake, it is best to remove them) and set popcorn aside.

Combine sucanat and cinnamon in a 2-liter microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sucanat mixture. * I have never used coconut oil, but I bet it would work if there is a dairy allergy. Pour brown rice syrup and molasses over everything in bowl.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir everything together.

Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir than microwave for 2 more minutes.

Remove from microwave and add vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. The mixture should foam and rise. Pour over popcorn and stir very well to coat (although don't worry too much if all your popcorn isn't coated - you will be able to stir it better after it has been heated).

Spread popcorn mixture onto baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing every 10 minutes to stir. This is where you can make sure that all of your popcorn kernels are well coated.

Remove from oven and spread out on wax paper or parchment paper.

Melt almond bark (I like to use 1 brick of vanilla and 1 brick of chocolate) according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn. When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and give away (or you will be tempted to eat the whole batch!).

Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites



Jana







Friday, December 14, 2012

Cinnamon Swirl "Egg-less" Pancakes

Today, we are going to stray away from holiday treats - already. But just for one post. Since Brother #2 had a birthday this week, I wanted to do a fun post for him. When asked what he wanted for breakfast on his big day, he said pancakes. But I couldn't do just regular pancakes, so I spiced them up a bit.

These pancakes are so yummy and are great for a quick, delicious "special" breakfast. They can be used for any special breakfast, which could include holidays, birthdays or sometimes even just weekends.

I saw this recipe on Pinterest (where I get a lot of my recipe ideas) and knew that I could easily recreate this with my Fluffy "Egg-less" Pancakes. Not only are they allergy free - they have a lot less sugar than the original and a lot more nutrients!

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes


Cinnamon Filling:
3 Tbsp. butter, just melted 
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Pancakes:
1 cup whole-wheat flour (or wonder flour)
1 tsp raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup almond milk (or any milk)
1 Tbsp no-sugar added applesauce
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter)

Prepare the cinnamon filling:
In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sucanat and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a heavy-duty ziploc baggie and set aside.

Prepare the pancake batter:
Combine the first 4 ingredients and mix slightly. Add milk, applesauce, water and vanilla. Whisk together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix - it should still be lumpy. Set aside to rest for a few minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. While pan is heating, add coconut oil. As soon as the coconut oil is melted, add it to the pancake batter. Return pan to stove and stir in coconut oil in to batter.

Cook the pancakes:
When the pan is hot, pour 1/4 cup of batter into the skillet for each pancake. Snip the corner of your bag of cinnamon filling and squeeze the filling into the open corner. You may  need to knead the cinnamon filling before clipping the bag as the filling tends to separate.

When your pancakes begin to form bubbles, add the filling. Starting at the center of the pancake, squeeze the filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl. Be careful not to get the filling too close to the side. You want to keep it about 1/4 of an inch away from the edge or it will bleed over (your pancakes will still taste delicious, they just won't be as presentable. Which, if you are simply feeding them to a pack of starving children, it probably doesn't matter. Cook the pancake 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping and the pancake is golden brown on the bottom. Slide a wide spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. 

When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see the cinnamon filling has made a nice swirly pattern on your pancake. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel (or don't if you are too lazy - which sometimes I am) and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and filling.

We liked our pancakes topped with a little powdered sugar. YUM! If you can get fresh fruit, that would add even more yumminess to these pancakes. EXTRA YUM! 


Recipe inspired from Recipe Snobs


Jana

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars

Christmas can be a very hard time of year for kids (and adults too!) with food allergies. With all the holiday parties, neighbor treats and goodies that are passed out everywhere -it seems,  there is often so much that isn't safe to eat. Being that The Princess is still young, we haven't yet had to deal with her feeling left out because she can't eat the treats that are brought, given, etc... It also helps that most people in my neighborhood know that we (my family) are trying to be more health conscious and eat less sugar (I think some people think I am anti-sugar!) and processed foods in general and so we don't get many treats brought to us - which annoys The Brothers sometimes. Maybe one day they will be grateful. But that is another story. 

I have a friend who has told me that her daughter sometimes has a hard time with her allergies and the restrictions that come with them, especially around the holidays. Every time the door would ring, she would hurry to answer it, hoping that just one time it would be something that she could eat. But, it usually wasn't. Of course my friend would have safe treats available to give her daughter so she wouldn't be completely left out, but that just isn't the same, especially for a child.

In case you have experienced this as well, I am coming to the rescue. My next few posts will be Christmas "treats" that (most importantly) are safe, but are also delicious! All the non-allergy folks will be wanting to eat them too.

This first recipe is a twist on my basic egg-less sugar cookie recipe. We love sugar cookies here at our house but they can be time consuming. Baking them in "bar" form makes it so much faster yet they are still just as delicious. Smashed candy canes on top add a festive holiday look. Plus, sometimes it is super fun to smash things - especially if you are a bit stressed by your holiday schedule and need to hit something!

*Note: these are NOT healthy in any sense of the word. I'm sure you can sub out the white flour for whole grain flour (like wonder flour or even spelt flour) but I haven't tried it yet. I also used butter and straight up refined sugar when making the ones pictured, but coconut oil and raw sugar would work just as well. In my defense, I took them to a Christmas party at our church and I wanted to make sure they would turn out. One day I will try and 'healthify' them.




Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bars

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups butter (or coconut oil)

1 1/4 cups sugar (or raw sugar)

3 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 9 Tbsp. water

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 oz. cream cheese (or tofutti, if there is a dairy allergy)

5 1/2 cups flour

3 tsp baking soda

Frosting:

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter (or coconut oil), softened

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 to 2 Tbsp water (or non-dairy milk)

1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional)

3-4 peppermint candy canes, crushed


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray bottom of 9X13 inch pan (or line with parchment paper); set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (trust me, you will want to use one for this), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in flax seeds mixed with water, vanilla, and cream cheese; mixing well after each addition.

In separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gradually add to the dough in the stand mixer.

Spread evenly in prepared dish, smoothing top. Bake until light golden brown or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Place pan on wire rack to cool completely.

While bars are cooling, make frosting.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar until almost granular. Gradually stir in vanilla and water (adding more water to reach desired consistency). Add in peppermint extract, if using. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

When the bars are completely cool (I had to put mine outside in the freezing cold to hurry up this process; don't worry, they were covered! The frosting doesn't spread well if they are warm at all),  cover them in icing, sprinkle with crushed candy canes and cut into bars.

Recipe inspired by The Busty Baker


Jana




Friday, December 7, 2012

Disneyland.. it is the Happiest Place on Earth - even with Food Allergies


We are Disney freaks... well, The Princess's Daddy and his family are. So, I guess I have inherited this love.  The Brothers and The Princess all first visited before the age of 2 - and this trip was actually The Princess's second visit. So, you can see that there might be a little fanaticism going on.


When we first decided to take The Princess, I was terrified. What would she eat? What might she come in contact with? Would we end up in the hospital there in California (which has actually happened to us the first year we took Brother #1. An untimely asthma attack landed us in the ER for a couple hours - luckily, it all turned out ok)? I had so many questions about how we would manage the trip with The Princess and her dietary restrictions. Now, after 2 trips under our belt, I can say that Disneyland (or any Disney theme park) is probably one of the BEST vacations you can do with a food allergic child.


First, we were allowed to bring our own food into the park (an entire cooler, actually). We have always done it, but now I know that if we were ever questioned it would be allowable.  This not only saves a TON of money (because yes, eating in the park can get very expensive) it allows us to bring in all kinds of food that is safe for The Princess. We brought in sandwiches made with homemade almond butter and nutella, crackers, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, homemade granola bars and a bunch of other stuff. We could eat at our leisure and not worry about finding safe food.

Even though it was cold, she loved the beach

Now, if you do like to eat in the park, it can be easily done with food allergies (although, if there are multiple food allergies it might get a little more difficult). The first time we took The Princess, her Granddad took it upon himself to ask every food vendor we passed about their food. I couldn't believe how much information the food vendors had about the ingredients in their food. It was very easy to pick which ones The Princess could and couldn't eat. I also honestly don't remember anything being contaminated with peanuts (except for the obvious things that actually contained peanuts). We never ate in a sit-down restaurant, but I have read that they do their best to accommodate food allergies. They simply prefer if you call in ahead of time and make requests in advance. 

In the rain with her aunt
We did frequent the IHOP restaurant across the street from the main entrance and they were extremely helpful. Before any food was ordered, we were asked (before we could even bring it up) whether anyone in the party had food allergies. With 3 kids who were sharing parts of their meal, they didn't even bat an eye when we asked them to redo part of an order because something The Princess was going to eat had come in contact with Brother #1's eggs (this happened before The Princess had her negative test to eggs)
(on the Carousel - on of her favorite rides)

Disneyland is probably the cleanest amusement park I have ever been to. Although, the first time we visited with The Princess, I was worried about whether The Princess might come in contact with something by grabbing a wrapper left out or by simply touching a hand rail or another part of a ride, that never happened. It helps to wash hands often and try to get kids to not touch every railing and surface they come in contact with, but we all know that doesn't happen. I  carried 2 epi-pens (and Benadryl) with me at all times and The Princess's daddy carried a 3rd epi-pen (just in case), but we never had to bring them out. 

This is really beginning to sound like an endorsement of Disney theme parks, which it is not. Just my honest opinion about them. It can be hard to travel with a food allergic child, because there are so many unknowns and what-ifs and some people and places are unwilling to work around food allergies and special dietary requests.  I simply want to alleviate some concerns for those who might be considering a vacation to a Disney theme park. 


In light of my last post, it is never too late to make some memories with our families and loved ones (whether they are at a Disney park or somewhere else).

She is a real Princess now


Jana

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Favoritism, Smothering and other Food Allergy Thoughts

I need to start this post with an apology for dropping the ball last week. You may have noticed that Tuesday's post was a day late and Friday's post never happened. I do have a very good reason, not just that I was a slacker. We were out of town, in a hotel with no internet access (yes, such places do still exist. Much to our annoyance when we realized our mistake). I was able to post Tuesday's finished post using my sis-in-laws phone while waiting in line for a ride (does that give you a hint as to where we went?) but Friday's unfinished post was a different story. I had no access to finish it and therefore, it didn't get finished or posted. So, now that we are back home and I am back on the ball, we can get back on track.

I have been thinking about the topic of this post for awhile now. I never quite knew how to write about it... and I didn't know whether I was the only one that felt this way or if it was a common theme among food allergy parents. When I talked to a friend of mine (whose daughter has peanut and egg allergies) and shared my thoughts, she completely understood where I was coming from. I knew that I needed to find a voice for my thoughts and write a post about this.

Having kids can be downright scary. There are so many things that could happen to them, sometimes it is terrifying trying to keep them safe. I've always realized that my kids could be here today, and than gone tomorrow. Accidents happen all the time... we see it every night on the news. No matter how hard  we try (talking about parents here) it is impossible to ensure our kids safety at all times. Despite knowing this, I don't spend a lot of time seriously worrying about my boys. They are smart, healthy kids who never seem in imminent danger. Than came The Princess.

When The Princess was diagnosed with food allergies, I felt like her life became somehow more fragile than her brother's. I worry more for her... often having nightmares where she eats a peanut (or some food with a peanut or PB) and experiences anaphylaxis. I want to keep her with me all the time and have a hard time leaving her with people. The only people I truly feel comfortable leaving her with are those who also have kids with food allergies. Only they really, truly understand the difference between "regular" kids and "food allergic" kids.

I struggle with finding a balance between constantly wanting to have The Princess with me and smothering her to keep her safe and letting her be independent. I don't want her to grow up being clingy and afraid of the world. But I also want her here - with us.

I am not a touchy-feely person by nature and have never been one to spend all day snuggling with my kids. Brother #1 feels the same and hates snuggling. Brother #2 LOVES to snuggle, but prefers to get his snuggles with Daddy. Than, we have The Princess. She is somewhere in between her brothers. She likes to snuggle when she feels like it, but HATES to be touched when she isn't in the mood (like when Brother #2 is following her around the house trying to sneak in a hug or kiss and she is screaming at him to stop!). Yet, I have found that I can't get enough snuggles from her. There are times when I just want to hold her forever... knowing there is always that chance (however slim it is) that it may be my last hug with her.

I feel like she gets away with more than her brothers do - even gets more attention. Which, could be in part because she is the only girl and also the youngest, but I feel there is more to it than that.   I guess our family dynamics are lucky for me, because her brothers never question my motives or get upset that they are getting the raw end of the deal.  I'm sure in other families, where the dynamics are different, it may cause friction and hurt feelings. I know what some of you might be thinking... "How can she say that she favors one child over another? That is so wrong!" It isn't that I don't love my boys as much as I love The Princess, but there is a special place in my heart for her because the chance of losing her seems more possible. Something as common and simple as a peanut.

I'm sure there are no right or wrong answers as to how to handle these situations. It is a continual balance - an ever-changing dynamic that I'm sure will continue to change as The Princess gets older and I have to learn to let her go, let her take control of her own life.



Jana




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemade Granola Bars

When there are kids in the house, snacks are a common thing of discussion. What is allowable? When are snacks allowed? How big should snacks be? Blah, blah, blah... We are always struggling with snacks at our house. The Princess prefers to eat "snacks" all day and no meals. That drives me crazy! 

But, whatever your rules are about the when, where and what of snacks... it is always nice to have healthy options that your kids like to eat. The Princess and her brothers like fruits and vegetables (mostly) but sometimes we need a more substantial snack. That is where granola bars come in. They are easy to grab, portable and kids like them. Next week, I will clue you in on where we used our granola bars - stay tuned!! Unfortunately, granola bars and peanut allergies DO NOT mix. So, when I found a basic recipe, I knew it would come in handy. I made a few changes to make them a bit healthier and more to my liking. They ended up turning out so well... The Princess and her brothers ate all the bars within a few days (and it only took that long because I limited them to 2 a day)!

Homemade Granola Bars

1 cup brown rice crispy cereal

1 3/4 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

2 Tbsp wheat germ

1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup sucanat

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp mini-chocolate chips

In a large bowl, stir brown rice cereal, oats, ground flax and wheat germ together. Set aside. 

In a small pot, melt coconut oil, honey and sucanat together over medium-high heat until it starts bubbling. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes. Add in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. 

Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan (about 12x8) and press to be about 3/4 inch thickness. If your pan isn't small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together. I had to work at getting them squished tight in the pan - so don't give up! I also found it that if I doubled the recipe, they fit nicely in a 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle with mini-chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on countertop until room temperature (about 2 hours) or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature. 

If your granola bars don't stay together very well you might have made them too thin or you may need to pack them tighter next time. Try putting them in the fridge for 20 minutes to hold them together better. 

You can play with the ingredients and add whatever you like... raisins, cinnamon, craisins, shredded coconut, finely ground nuts... the list is endless! Just make sure you end up with about 3 cups of dry ingredients so cut back the oatmeal accordingly or add a touch more coconut oil (or butter).

Recipe adapted from Lauren's Latest


Jana

Friday, November 23, 2012

Egg-free Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies with Maple Frosting

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving yesterday.  We had a very delicious Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. This year, we didn't have to worry too much about The Princess's allergies since she is able to eat eggs and milk now - and than she ended up not eating anything but crackers and ice cream (yes, not healthy but it was a holiday after all). We spent the morning with one side of the family and the afternoon with the other side of the family. The weather was beautiful and The Princess, The Brothers and their cousins were able to run around outside and leave the adults to visit (and watch football) in relative peace.

I realize the last thing everyone probably needs is more goodies after eating pie yesterday... but, I wanted to get in another recipe with pumpkin in it before the month of November was over. And trust me, you don't want to miss out on this recipe. These cookies are so delicious!

As a side note: I almost never bake with all-purpose flour. It is so processed and refined and there is absolutely no nutrition in it. But, I did use a little in this recipe to make sure they turned out ok (since I was taking them a family outing). When I make them again, I will use all wonder flour (or another whole grain flour).

Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies 

1 1/2 cups wonder flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup sucanat

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tbsp water (or 1 egg)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add pumpkin puree, ground flax mixed with water and vanilla to butter mixture and beat until creamy. Mix dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonful; flatten slightly. (I prefer to flatten mine right after they come out of the oven)

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Maple Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Put butter in a medium size bowl and mix until whipped. Mix in powdered sugar and beat for another minute. Scrape down the sides and add the maple syrup. Mix for another 2-3 minutes or until frosting is fluffy.


Recipe inspired by Living Well Spending Less
I intended to take a better picture of these, but I forgot so this is what you are stuck with. 

Jana

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Quinoa Granola

Thanksgiving is almost here... where has the time gone? It seems like the past few months have flown by and now the year is almost over. So, what does the end of the year coming up so fast have to do with granola? Absolutely nothing.

But, speaking of Thanksgiving, there are a lot of posts on Pinterest and food blogs with recipes for breakfast on Thanksgiving day. The problem with most of the ones I have seen is that they are very rich, full of sugar and fat and not a great way to start a day that will most likely be full of other food that falls into that category. I wanted to post a recipe that would be a yummy yet healthier way to start your Thanksgiving day.

Most store bought granola, while touted as a health food, is anything but healthy. It also may contain or be contaminated with peanuts. I prefer to make my own and it is super easy!

This post is the debut of a recipe on my blog containing quinoa... which is hard to believe because I use it quite often. For those who have never cooked with quinoa, here are some interesting facts about this superfood.

* High in protein - Quinoa has more protein than any other grain, it also contains the 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein
* Lowers your blood pressure - Quinoa is high in magnesium which relaxes blood vessels helping to lower your blood pressure and improve overall heart health
* Helps reduce migraines - Quinoa is high in magnesium which helps with the constriction and rebound dilation of blood vessels that are characteristic in migraines. Quinoa also has riboflavin which has been proven to lessen the frequency of migraines
* Fights off dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances - The manganese and copper found in quinoa are powerful antioxidants that help fight disease
* Higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and zinc than wheat, barley and corn
* Gluten free - Quinoa is a gluten free food and good for those who can't tolerate any grains because it is a seed (it is actually related to spinach - which is why it is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition).

For more information on quinoa, check out this post from Unconventional Kitchen.

I like to eat my granola as cereal with vanilla almond milk on top. You can also add it on top of yogurt or applesauce or eat is straight out of a bag as a snack.

Pumpkin Quinoa Granola

1 cup brown rice cereal (like Rice Krispies except made from brown rice)

1/2 cup instant oatmeal

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

1/4 cup shredded coconut (preferably without added sugar - get it at a health food store)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts * (optional)

1/4 to 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc...) (optional)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or tinfoil in a pinch).

Combine brown rice cereal, oatmeal, cooked quinoa, ground flax, shredded coconut and chopped walnuts (if using) in a bowl.

In a small saucepan heat coconut oil, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla over low heat until melted and incorporated. Stir into dry mixture.

Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet. Break into clusters and mix in dried fruit (if using).

* One of the nice things about using quinoa in this recipe is that if you are unable to use nuts, there is still protein making it a filling breakfast.

Recipe adapted from Cookie Quinoa



Jana




Friday, November 16, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes

I am not a huge donut eater, but I do have a weakness for pumpkin donuts. Krispy Kreme makes a delicious pumpkin spice cake donut, but it obviously contains eggs. It is also seasonal, so what is a girl supposed to do when she is craving pumpkin spice donuts in the spring.  I decided I would make my own donuts.

When came across this recipe, I loved the idea of using a mini muffin tin to create donut "holes".  I also liked that these were baked and not fried - not just because of the health factor, but mainly because of the mess factor. I loathe cleaning up oil splatter all over the stove top and counter. These turned out so well they were gone within a day! We did manage to save enough to sneak some into The Princess's granddad who was in the hospital at the time (because everyone needs some contraband in the hospital to help them feel at home!).

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes

For the Donuts:
2 cups wonder flour*

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup sucanat

1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tbsp water (or 1 egg)

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

For the Coating:**

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together oil, sucanat, ground flax mixed with water, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among mini muffin cups. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the muffins bake, combine raw sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Remove muffins from oven when finished and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Roll each muffin in cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature - if there are any left  to serve!

*If you choose to use all-purpose flour in place of the wonder flour, cut the amount to 1 3/4 cups.

**The original recipe called for dipping the donut holes in melted butter before rolling them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. I tried mine both ways to see if there was much difference. I tasted a small difference (because I knew the difference) but nobody else could tell. I say save the mess and the calories and avoid that step.

Recipe Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


Jana

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Healthier" Pie crust

Is it suddenly winter at anyone else's house? We went from wonderful warm and sunny weather one day to a blizzard the next day that came with a foot of snow and a 40 degree drop in temperature. Talk about a shock to the system!
 Trust me, this literally is one afternoon to the next! 
On a side note,  look how nice the grass is coming in.

But, it is starting to feel more like the holidays with the layer of snow on the ground. The Princess has requested we listen to Christmas music, so I obliged her. But, we don't want to jump too fast to Christmas without paying some attention to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting together with family to enjoy each other's company and discuss our blessings and the many things we have to be grateful for. And I have much to be grateful for this year! I also love Thanksgiving because it means PIE. Is anyone else a pie lover? There is nothing better after a yummy turkey dinner than a big old piece of pie covered in whipped cream. Yes, calories, fat and sugar, but that is ok on a holiday, right? I do believe that everyone gets the chance to splurge, but I also believe we can splurge without completely falling off the boat.

This year, I decided to create a "healthier" pie crust. Most pie crust recipes call for all-purpose flour and shortening. We all know that all-purpose flour has very little, if any, nutrients. Shortening is made by hydrogenating liquid vegetable oil. While most shortening no longer contains trans fat, I am still leery of eating anything that has been hydrogenated.  Now, don't confuse the word "healthier' with the word "healthy". I doubt this pie crust would ever be considered a health food. But at least we will remain on the boat. This recipe is also diary, nut and egg free.

Here are some other tips to keep your Thanksgiving pie from knocking you clean off the boat:
* Cut down the sugar in your recipe. I generally always cut at least 1/4 of the sugar out, sometimes
    even half. If you are planning on eating your pie ala mode, you won't miss the extra sugar in the pie.
* Substitute stevia in your pie recipes in place of sugar. Since most fruit pie recipes don't need the sugar
   for anything but to make it taste sweet, this is an easy substitution. I do not like pumpkin pie (gasp!
   yes, you read that correctly) or pecan pie.  I have never made either in my life. Using stevia works in
    fruit pie recipes, try it out in other types of pie recipes at your own risk.
* These tips even work for your whipping cream. Buy real cream and use less sugar (or stevia) when
   whipping it for a "healthier" whipped cream.

Now, the recipe.

"Healthier" Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups wonder flour (whole wheat flour could be substituted, but would result in a slightly denser
                                        crust)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coconut oil (at room temperature - you want it to be the consistency of shortening)

4-5 Tbsp. cold water

I found this recipe works best in my food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can cut the coconut oil into the flour with a pastry blender (or 2 knives)

Place flour, salt and coconut oil in the food processor. Blend until coconut oil is cut throughout the flour and the mixture resembles crumbs.

Begin adding water  and processing (or stirring). Add little bits of water until your dough forms a nice round ball.

Roll out your dough. I like to roll mine out on waxed paper because that makes the transfer to the pie plate easier. Do whatever works best for you.

Place your dough in your pie dish and shape it into the dish. Here is where you can make your edges all fancy (if you know how to do that - which I have not mastered yet).

This recipe makes one 9" pie crust. If you are making a pie with a bottom and a top crust, you will need to double the recipe. 



I LOVE apple pie, so that is what I made. I tried out this Sweet Molasses Apple Pie recipe (because it had molasses and I also LOVE molasses) and it was delicious! I obviously used my own crust recipe and cut the sugar WAY down and didn't add the raisins (because to me, raisins and pie don't go together). Use your favorite pie recipe and enjoy!



Jana



Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall Pumpkins


Here is your advance warning... this is a craft post. But since it is so easy, even for non-crafters, I thought it would be fun to post. Who doesn't like an extra way to dress up your home for fall?





I am not a pumpkin carver. I find it too messy and time-consuming for what it is worth. My husband always carves one big pumpkin for the kids to enjoy and for the seeds. We also let each kids pick out a small pumpkin. For these pumpkins, we either paint them or use pumpkin push pins (plastic pieces you can poke into the pumpkin to make a face). So, when Halloween is over, we are left with a few pumpkins that are still in fine condition and can be used as decorations. Usually I just leave them on the porch as plain old pumpkins. This year, I decided to do something a bit more fancy with my "leftover" pumpkins.

I simply took different colors of tulle (it is super cheap at Walmart) and wrapped my pumpkins in them.  I used some yellow, goldish brown and red, but you can use whatever colors you want. I tied the tulle at the top with some ribbon. I cut the top of the tulle to even it up a bit, but you can leave it however you want. (As a side note... I love using tulle to wrap around birthday presents instead of ribbon because it is so fun to poof - and it can also look a little masculine when wrapping presents for The Brother's friends) I used an assortment of ribbon that I had on hand for the "bows". You can get as fancy and creative as you want. Or keep it simple if you are not crafty or don't have hours to spend trying to create the perfect bow. These could even be made to use for Halloween by adding some fake spiders or other Halloweeny stuff.

Happy Fall!

On the buffet in our living room

On the piano - which has absolutely no natural light so this picture is terrible!

Jana