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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - 3 Flavors

It's here!  Pumpkin season!!  Whether you're carving jack-o'-lanterns or making Pumpkin-Coconut Soup, Pumpkin Dip, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Pudding, Pumpkin Bars or Pumpkin Pie, don't forget to save your seeds!  I know in my family, we'd cut open the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the pumpkin innards, seeds and all, into a black garbage bag, never to be seen again.  Well, for all those years we were throwing away some of nature's most nutritious seeds; the pumpkin seeds!

Pumpkin seeds are packed with a great supply of vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids.  Considered one of nature's nutritional powerhouses, just 1/4 cup provides a daily dose of phosphorous, magnesium, tryptophan, vitamin K, iron, copper, zinc and healthy fatty acids.  They are also a good protein and fiber source!

Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or roasted, shelled or intact.  Simply remove the seeds from the pumpkin, wipe them off and leave them to dry overnight on a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment paper to help absorb moisture).  Once dry, you can then choose whether to use them raw or to roast them.  To keep raw, simply store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a month or two.  If you choose to roast (3 great recipes below!), remember we want to keep the center of the seed shy from heat to keep all of the nutrients intact.  Thus, we don't want to bake the seeds until they are brown -- this means they've had too much heat and the nutritional value has plummeted, in fact the fats are probably rancid and no longer good for us.  Instead, we want to bake at a low temperature for a short period of time to bake flavor in to the shell only.

And leave on your shells!  Pumpkin seeds with shells have more flavor and a crunchier texture than those without shells.  And the shells contain more fiber to keep your digestive system functioning properly.

Pumpkin seeds can be scattered on salads, used to make hummus, baked in bread or just munched as a snack food.  Some recipes call for "pepitas" which are hulled green pumpkin seeds.  If pepitas are what you prefer, learn how to shell your own seeds here.

On to the recipes!

Simple Salted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried 24 hrs
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, mix seeds with olive oil and coat well.  Spread evenly on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool on baking sheet.  Enjoy.

Curried Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried 24 hrs
1 free-range egg white
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin seeds with all 3 ingredients.  Toss well to coat.  Using a strainer, drain off any excess egg white.  Spread evenly over a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Carefully taste one seed -- it will be hot, let cool on a separate plate for a minute first.  Taste for seasoning, you  may prefer more curry or sea salt.  Add more to your taste.  Cool and enjoy.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds, cleaned and dried 24 hrs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp organic Tabasco sauce (more/less to taste)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin seeds with olive oil and Tabasco sauce.  Toss well to coat.  Spread evenly over a baking sheet.  In a small bowl, combine dried spices. Sprinkle spices over the pumpkin seeds.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  Cool and enjoy.

Have a happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Dress up everyday chicken with a taste bud trip to North Africa!  If you have time, marinate the chicken in the spices overnight, which will enhance the flavor.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken
Makes 4 servings

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 boneless, skinless free range chicken breasts, pound out to even thickness
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Granny Smith apples, diced

1.)  Combine 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon with the cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and sea salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over both sides of chicken breasts, coating both sides evenly.  Pat seasoning in well.

2.) Heat coconut oil in a large cast iron skillet.  Saute the chicken over Medium heat until cooked thru, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from skillet.

3.) Saute apple for 3 minutes over Medium heat.  Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon cinnamon; cook and stir to coat.  Spoon apples over chicken.  Serve immediately.  Goes great with steamed veggies or sauteed kale!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Loaded Chocolate Protein Bars

My friend Laureen inspired me to melt down dark chocolate to create a rich protein bar when I tasted hers last weekend, which had the consistency of fudge!  I like mine a little crunchy, so I added ingredients.  My secret for that wow crunch?  Hempseeds.  Frozen hempseeds to be exact.  Store the bars in the freezer and you'll get an outstanding texture that stays together when you pick it up.  I've made these twice in the last week for Dave and me alone!  These make a great breakfast or snack!

Loaded Chocolate Protein Bars
Makes 24 Bars

3/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup 73+% dark chocolate chips / baker's chocolate
1 cup raw almond butter
2 cups raw almond flour
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup raw hempseeds
2 scoops protein powder (chocolate Nature Pro or Vega both taste great!)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp spoonable stevia
1/4 tsp sea salt

1.) In a medium sauce pan over Low heat, melt the coconut oil, dark chocolate and almond butter, stirring until smooth.

2.) Meanwhile, in food processor add in all remaining ingredients.  Pulse a few times to combine.

3.) Pour in melted chocolate sauce.  Pulse until well combined (you may need to stop and scrape down sides depending on size of food processor).  Mixture should be moist but not sticky or wet by appearance.  If it is too wet or oily, add in more almond flour and coconut flakes until proper consistency is achieved.  (I recommend tasting mixture for sweetness at this point, add more stevia if desired.)

4.) Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish lined with natural waxed paper.  Cover with waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes until set.  Remove from freezer.  Holding the ends of the bottom sheet of waxed paper, pull straight up and the bars will come out of the pan.  Cut into uniform strips or squares using a pizza cutter.  Store in airtight container in fridge or long term storage in freezer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pudding

This is a quaint dessert perfect for Autumn!  I like to serve this dish in individual ramekins so each person gets some of the crunchy edges to accompany the warm, silky center.  This dish is great topped with berries (hard to find fresh organic ones this time of year, so I often do thawed raspberries or blackberries from the freezer blended into a syrup-like topping) and a spoonful of coconut milk or unsweetened Greek yogurt.

Pumpkin Pudding

2 c pumpkin puree
3 free-range eggs
1 13oz can of organic full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp of powdered stevia, to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a small baking pan or individual ramekins with coconut oil.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and blend well with a whisk.  Pour ingredients into the baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until brown on top and knife comes out clean from center.  Enjoy warm or cold.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quinoa Veggie Salad

Enjoy this super simple warm salad.  I enjoy bringing it to the office with me for lunch, and it also makes a quick side dish along chicken or salmon.  OR, you can stir in shredded chicken or salmon for a new dish!

Quinoa Veggie Salad
Makes 2 Servings

1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup quinoa
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp olive oil
1 organic yellow bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 cup filtered water
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 organic zucchini, diced
1 organic celery stalk, diced
Juice of 1 lime

1.)  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Toast almonds until lightly browned, and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.  Meanwhile, place quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse under cold filtered water until the water runs clear.  Drain.

2.)  In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil over Medium heat.  Add bell pepper, garlic, scallions, and red pepper flakes.  Saute until tender, about 6 minutes.

3.)  Stir in quinoa, thyme, filtered water, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 7 minutes.  Stir in zucchini, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender but not mushy, 6 to 8 minutes longer.  Remove the saucepan from heat.

4.)  Stir in celery, almonds, and olive oil, season with sea salt and fluff with a fork.  Serve warm or cold.  Before serving, drizzle with fresh lime juice.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Video: Making Chocolate Pudding with Dr. Scott!

This is one of many to come video recipes!  I joined my friend Dr. Scott Stallaert to create Advanced Plan raw chocolate pudding in honor of his 30 Day Max Fit Challenge at his Maximized Living chiropractic center.  Hope you enjoy!

Trouble viewing?  Click Here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Questions Answered: Grain FREE Almond Flour Tortillas

It's been a couple of months since Nora wrote in with a request, and I apologize for the delay, Nora!  We've had a busy summer, and fall is seeming to be no different.  But, I wanted to get you this recipe while I have a moment tonight!

Nora wrote in:  Looking for grain free tortillas as a quick dinner option for my family.  I've made tortillas in the past, but always with grain.  Ever done a grain-free tortilla?
Since Nora sent in her request, I've been searching and experimenting.  I started with browsing Google.  Most "natural" recipes you'll find recommend using corn flour or other flours that will turn to sugar quickly inside of you.  But I did get some ideas on how to actually make tortillas, since I'd never attempted in the past, so it was a good use of my time!

Then I started to experiment.  Let me say that coconut flour does not make the best tortillas.  They were more like crepes and fell apart easily.  I tried around 4 or 5 batches of various flours/mixes and came down to this recipe which has turned out great three times in a row!  So here it is for you, Nora!  I hope this helps your family out.  Dave and I have enjoyed the sampling of different tortillas and this recipe is a keeper!

Grain-free Almond Flour Homemade Tortillas (gluten free, grain free, yeast free)
Makes 8 Tortillas

1 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds
3 Tbsp boiling water
3 cups almond flour (it's more affordable to make your own by grinding whole almonds into a powder in your food processor or Vitamix)
1 tsp sea salt
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp honey (sorry Advanced Planners... it really needs the little bit of honey to bind)

1.)  In a small bowl, let flax sit in boiling water for about 5 minutes.

2.) In a separate medium bowl, mix together the almond flour and sea salt with a fork.  Add the egg, flax mixture and honey, one at a time, to the almond flour.  Stir until it forms a firm dough that isn’t too sticky to handle.  If it is too sticky, add more almond flour until you can easily roll it into a ball.

3.)  Cut the ball in into quarters.  Cut each of the 4 pieces in half making 8 pieces total.

4.)  (I lack a tortilla press.  If you're in the same boat, follow these steps..)  Place a strip of all natural waxed paper on your counter.  One at a time, take a piece of dough and roll it into a ball with your hands.  Place the piece of dough in the center of the waxed paper.  Place another strip of waxed paper over the dough ball.  Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is as thin as you can get it without it falling apart.

(Don’t go for perfect!  These are not going to be completely round tortillas like you find in the store.  Each one of these tortillas will be unique because, hey, they're natural!  They will have jagged edges and some little holes here and there, but that’s okay!  Be proud that you made them from scratch without the nasty preservatives.  :)

5.)  Oil a cast iron skillet with coconut oil and heat skillet to Medium heat.  Be sure to give the pan plenty of time to heat before adding your first tortilla, a good 8 minutes is sometimes needed for the best cast iron pans.  As you get into making tortilla #2-3, you may find they are browning more quickly.  Go ahead and lower the temperature to Medium-Low to prevent burning.

6.)  Remove the waxed paper from the tortilla.  Just like moving pie crust, gently put your non-dominant hand underneath the waxed paper under the tortilla.  Flip the tortilla onto your dominant hand while you peel away the waxed paper.  Then gently place it into the skillet.  If there are folds, try to even them out, or just mush them down with a spatula.  Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown.  The edges will brown and the middle will start to bubble.

7.)  Flip and cook on the other side for another minute or less.  Cook each tortilla one at a time.  Add more coconut oil as the skillet becomes dry.  As the tortillas cook, stack them up on a plate and cover until you’re ready to use them, to keep them warm.  You can make ahead and freeze the tortillas once cooled or just keep them in the fridge in a glass container for a few days.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fresh Spring Rolls (GUEST POST!)

Farmers markets are a bustling, and it's the perfect time of year to try something new with fresh veggies!  This recipe comes from my friend Diane.  I had never had spring rolls before, and these were a fabulous dinner!

To make Advanced Plan, use lettuce for the wrap instead of rice paper and switch out the carrot for another vegetable.  It's that simple!

And Diane's super simple secret dipping sauce?  Mix 2 parts Healing Cuisine Mayonnaise with 1 part Healing Cuisine Ketchup!  That's it!  It paired the spring rolls perfectly.

Fresh Spring Rolls
Makes 6 rolls

6 spring roll wrapper (Read the ingredients!  Should only be rice flour and eggs!  Look out for white flour, canola oil, or chemical names you cannot pronounce)
1/2 head lettuce, finely shredded
1 medium carrot, shredded (any other veggies you would like - bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini, squash, etc)
1 cup free range chicken breast, seasoned, grilled and diced

1.)  Set out all of your ingredients around you on your work surface.  Spread a dampened kitchen towel out in front of you.  Fill a large bowl with very hot water (read directions on spring roll wrapper packaging).  Carefully lower sheet of rice paper into the hot water and hold for 20-30 seconds, until just softened.

2.)  Remove wrapper from water and spread out on damp towel in front of you.  Layer vegetables and chicken in the lower third of the wrapper.  Be sure to leave about 2 inches of space at the left and right ends to prevent spillage when rolling.

3.)  Starting with the bottom edge (closest to you), pull up and carefully over the filling.  Make it as tight as possible without tearing the wrapper.  Next, pull in the right and left sides to the center, again as tightly as possibly without tearing.  Finally, pull down the top edge tightly forming the spring roll.  Repeat 5 more times!  A simple, refreshing lunch or dinner!  Serve with sauce of your choice.  Check out more options here and here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin-Coconut Soup

I used seasonal pumpkin for this colorful soup.  A benefit is you can make this soup any time of the year, as organic unsweetened canned pumpkin is readily available year round.  This soup is a great option for a filling lunch or light dinner!   We usually pair with a small salad with chicken breast and hempseeds or a protein shake.  Have to make sure you're adding protein to every meal!
Pumpkin-Coconut Soup

15 oz organic pumpkin (or any other winter squash), either canned (unsweetened) or fresh roasted
1 cup organic lima beans, drained and rinsed
8 cups organic sodium-free vegetable or chicken stock
1 large organic carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 c full-fat organic coconut milk
1 Tbsp organic coconut oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

OPTIONAL - For a less sweet, more traditional pumpkin soup flavor add:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh ginger

1.)   In a large stock pot, heat coconut oil over Medium-High heat.  Add onion, carrot and garlic to pot and saute about 5 minutes to soften.  Add vegetable stock, turn to High heat and bring to boil.

2.)   Add lima beans and pumpkin flesh, continue to cook on High.  Once it returns to a boil, reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally.

3.)  Simmer for about an hour until the beans are tender.  If the soup thickens too much and starts to stick, add  more stock. You want a very thick soup, but not dry.

4.)  When everything is tender, turn off the heat.  With either an immersion blender or standing blender, blend the soup until smooth.  Add half a can of coconut milk and blend again, adding more coconut milk to get your desired consistency & taste.  Garnish with shredded coconut (optional).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chocolate Coco-Hazel-Nut Spread

I had a family approach me yesterday with questions about Nutella.  They recently started the Advanced Maximized Living Nutrition Plan and had purchased a jar of Nutella after watching a commercial claiming it is an all-natural spread perfect for breakfast.  In fact, their tag-line is: "Treat yourself with Nutella spread as part of a healthy, balanced breakfast."  Thankfully mom and dad read the label and knew to throw it out before feeding to the family.

Take a peek at the Nutella label.  Ingredients:  Sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced mineral whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillan: an artificial flavor.

So, the hazelnuts and cocoa are great, but sugar and palm oil as the first two ingredients?  That volume of sweetness, the bad oil and processed dairy make this "all natural" spread a poor choice for any family at any meal.  Mom and dad asked me how can they replicate Nutella without the sugar, oil and milk?

Enjoy this raw chocolate hazelnut spread!  A truly healthy way to enjoy breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Chocolate Coco-Hazel-Nut Spread
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup raw hazelnuts
Flesh of one young coconut
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Stevia to taste (I used about 1 tsp spoonable stevia)
Coconut water to perfect consistency

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend on High until combined.  Stop and scrape down sides.  Slowly stream in coconut water while on Medium speed using just enough coconut water to get it to a spreadable smooth consistency.  Enjoy as is, with sliced Granny Smith apples or over sprouted bread!

Store leftovers in a jar in the fridge up to 1 week.

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