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.