It’s week 21 of my pregnancy, and I’m starting to feel the weight of the baby right on my bladder, not to mention the occasional muscle spasms which indicate my body “practicing” for delivery, and what I’m guessing is to be some movement of our little brotchen:

3-15-13_19_weeks_c

He’s looking nice and healthy…and yes, it’s a BOY!!!

Here’s proof of the gender:

3-15-13_19_weeks_b

Butt shot with a clear view. :)

Food = Fatigue? I’ve been feeling really tired the past several days, and I wasn’t sure why. Sleep was okay, exercising was okay (when I wasn’t too tired) but I was still struggling to keep my eyes open after breakfast. I decided to change up what I was eating, starting with breakfast. No more peanut butter and toast, even with a cup of calcium-fortified soy moo. Maybe cutting out the wheat would help, at least for breakfast (including sprouted grain breads.)

Muffins_Grain-Free_1

Clockwise from top: coconut biscuit, apple cinnamon raisin, and pumpkin muffin with almond sprinkles.

Grain, Grain, Go Away I came across several grain-free muffin recipes from wellnessmama.com the other day, and boy, are they GOOD! I made three versions already: apple cinnamon (with raisins), pumpkin, and also some coconut biscuits to serve with some buffalo chili we had last night. They all were delicious, and since they were grain free it was a great way to see if grains–including my sprouted wheat toast–may have contributed to my all-day fatigue.

The Results were Inspiring Well, I certainly didn’t feel like taking a nap after eating those delicious muffins, so maybe I’m on the right track. More protein than your average muffin, low in carbs, and they contains healthy fats. It’s wonderfully moist and tastes even better cold–and not many muffins can brag about that! So taken was I by wellnessmama’s muffins, I wanted to make a chocolate version. Following her cinnamon apple muffin recipe, I made a few modifications. The result: a light, sponge-like chocolate cake-muffin dotted with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s makes a delicious snack, or even a bonus to your already healthy breakfast. Now who’s ready for a grain-free muffin?

Muffins_Grain-Free_2

Moist cakes with a slightly spongy texture and rich chocolate flavor.

Double Chocolate Muffins inspired by wellnessmama’s grain-free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (such as Medaglia d’Oro)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (gluten-free ones such as Enjoy Life, if you’re allergic)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients (not chocolate chips.) Push to the sides, making a well in the center. To the middle of the bowl, add eggs, apple sauce, agave syrup, vanilla, and coconut oil. Blend wet ingredients on medium-high speed for a few seconds, then incorporate dry ingredients by “grabbing” flour mixture from the sides with the beaters and blend until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in chocolate chips. (NOTE: batter may be liquidy, so to keep chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom, sprinkle on muffin tops after baking for 2 minutes–batter will firm up–then return to oven and bake for the remaining time.)

Using a 1/4 cup scoop, fill 12 muffin tins. Sprinkle top with extra chocolate chips, if you like. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a little bit of a moist crumb. Cool on a wire rack.

You can store these muffins in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or tightly wrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 months.

Be sure to visit www.wellnessmama.com for other delicious recipes as well as tips and ideas on making homemade cleaning products, beauty treatments, and other information on easier, healthier living.

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This month’s Recipe Redux theme is all about those necessary tools that keep us happy and efficient in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s fun to be MacGyver-ish and make do with whatever tools you may have in the kitchen (chef’s knife, cheese grater, rolling pin) but having a gadget that eases the hassle of grinding, chopping, blending and slicing can feel as if you have a new assistant to help you prep (but not help you clean up!)

Looking for a last-minute Christmas gift? This one might be a good one to chip in with your siblings or another friend or two and give it to that favorite home chef in your life.

This is my favorite tool in the kitchen, mostly because it was given as a wedding gift (gifted items are always the most treasured!) I was more than elated when I saw this wonderful Kitchen Aid food processor because 1) I would have NEVER purchased one for myself,  2) it was a beautiful, candy-apple red, 3) this thing is powerful, and 4) I knew I wouldn’t have to make my graham cracker crumbs with a rolling pin and Ziploc bag, anymore! Making basil pesto was faster, easier, and the consistency was much better than using a blender. I also love using it for chopping toasted nuts, which is great if you use a lot of it in your baking and cooking because you can conveniently scoop out whatever you need and keep the rest in an airtight jar.

Here is a recipe that’s quick to make with a food processor. The original recipe can be found at WholeFoodsMarket.com, but I made a few changes to lighten it up a bit and make it dairy-free.

Pasta_WalnutCream1

Add anything you want: mushroom, peas, even some grated Parmesan cheese!

Creamy Savory Walnut Sauce, Dairy-Free
don’t let the tofu scare you off, the nutritional yeast and garlic makes it incredibly flavorful, you won’t miss the dairy! You can also use this as a savory dip for veggies or a spread for crackers–just add more tofu to thicken it up.

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (can substitute grated Parmesan cheese)
1/2 cup firm Silken Lite Tofu
1/4 cup soy or almond milk

KitchenAidMixer

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse toasted walnuts until chopped, about 5-7 times. Add salt through nutritional yeast flakes Pulse 2-3 times until combined. Add Silken Lite tofu, put cover back on. Run the processor and pour soy milk through the chute, blend for 5 seconds or until combined. If too thin, add more tofu. If too thick, add more soy or almond milk.

Walnut Cream Sauce_1

Creamy, savory walnut sauce–no cream, no cheese!

Heat and serve over pasta with your favorite toppings (mushrooms, chicken, bacon, etc.) Serves 4.

What is your favorite kitchen tool(s)? Where did you get it? What makes it your favorite out of all the other gadgets in your kitchen?

Don’t forget to check out the other favorite Kitchen Gadgets of other Recipe Redux members!



I’ve been busier with work the past couple weeks, which is good, but it also means more time away from my food blog (and I’m pretty bummed I missed the Recipe Redux for this month!) I usually spend about 2-3 hours creating a post, sometimes more, depending on the topic, photos, and the ease or difficulty of writing it.

Here is a recipe that I recently experimented with, and it’s all thanks to an Apple and Fennel salad I came across at Wegman’s. It was tart, vinegary, and sweetened with a sprinkle of golden raisins. I loved the combination of flavors and thought this would be great to serve alongside the richer Thanksgiving dishes (and it did!) But instead of ordering a couple pounds of this delicious stuff, I thought I’d come up with my own version of this tart n’ tangy palate-cleansing dish.

Simple is Best – All you need is six ingredients, super easy!

Tasty and Tart – Comparing several recipes for apple fennel salad showed me variations with the dressing. There were several recipes that used mainly olive oil and lemon, but I wanted something tarty. Apple cider vinegar was the way to go, and using frozen concentrated apple juice was an easy shortcut. Whole grain mustard was added for flavor as well as texture.

Is Thin Really In? – I came across this easy tip from The Purple Foodie in their version of an Apple Fennel Salad: “Cut everything thinly – the finer the cut, the better the chances of all elements of the salad coming together in a single bite, maximising flavour.” Wegman’s Apple Fennel Salad had thicker slices of apple, about 1/32 of an apple, and it still tasted great with the plump raisins and tart dressing, but I opted for thin slices.

Refreshing and tart. If you ever had pickled green mango, this might taste something like it.

Apple Fennel Salad with Raisins

The apples and fennel can be sliced the night before, just keep them in a ziploc bag–along with the raisins–until you’re ready to pour on the vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3-4)
1 pound fennel bulbs (2 bulbs)
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup frozen concentratred apple juice
2 tablespoons stone ground Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice apples into quarters, remove seeds. Slice thinly and place in a large mixing bowl. Thinly slice fennel crosswise and add to apples. Stir in raisins, set aside.

In a separate bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, combine apple cider vinegar, frozen apple juice, and stone ground mustard with a wire whisk. Put apple mixture in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, pour in vinaigrette and seal tightly, removing as much air without smashing apple mixture.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, turning ziploc bag after a half hour or so to ensure vinaigrette gets distributed evenly. (NOTE: as a precaution, lay the ziploc bag flat in a baking dish, just in case it leaks.)

Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with fennel leaves. Guests may season their own serving with salt & pepper. Serves 12-14.

Spooky Snacks and Healthy Halloween Treats
Happy WIAW, and HAPPY HALLOWE’EN! Wish I could share some of my Hallowe’en decorating and planned festivities, but I have none! It’ll be a pretty quiet evening with pizza, wine, and whatever scary flick’s on the tube. ;)

My featured recipe is a side dish that’s great to accompany roasted meats, a main veggie course, and tastes great hot or cold. But before we get to that, here are some dishes from the past few week, in no particular order:

Sunday brunch was a pretty nice spread. Maura at My Healthy ‘Ohana had a great idea for 100 calorie egg cups, which came out fantastic:

Bacon and onion quiche and turkey egg cup with fresh fruit (egg cup recipe from Maura at My Healthy ‘Ohana.)

Lunch on Tuesday was quick and easy. I was baking gluten-free versions of  pumpkin brownies and chocolate brownies in the morning and sampled enough pieces to make me say, “Enough!” For lunch I craved veggies:

I love celery, and I love peanut butter!

No salad, just some celery sticks followed by salty potato chips and an apple. :)

Dinner last Monday was rosemary chicken with red cabbage and apples:

Mix plate: rosemary chicken, apfel rotkohl and steak fries. Where else can you get this eclectic mix of flavors but at home?

I recently experimented with red cabbage to make a German dish called Apfel Rotkohl (red cabbage and apples.) After looking at a few recipes I saw one from epicurious.com that sounded pretty good. I did make a few changes, like increasing the vinegar and sugar and adding apples and currants, and the end result was pretty good! Feel free to start with less sugar or vinegar, depending on whether you like it sweet, vinegary, or nice and mild.

Braised Red Cabbage and Apples, makes 6 servings
modified from original recipe at epicurious.com

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (do NOT substitute cumin, totally different taste!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple juice (or shred 2 med apples with box grater, squeeze juice & save apple pulp for baking)
2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup amber agave nectar or white sugar
1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped into 1″ chunks
1/4 – 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I like a strong vinegar taste, so start with 1/4 cup if you prefer it mild)
1/3 cup currants or raisins

Directions;
In a heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for 1 minute. Add allspice, caraway seeds, salt, apple juice, and cabbage. Stir well. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 10 minutes add apples, raisins, and agave or sugar. Stir then cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until apples are tender.

Uncover pot, stir in half of apple cider vinegar. Cook until liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. If you want a definite vinegar taste, add remaining apple cider vinegar, stir. Serves 6.

Are you having a quiet Hallowe’en? What was your favorite Hallowe’en costume? This can be your own costume, or your dog’s, your children’s, something you saw on the street…here’s what I was last year:

For Hallowe’en last year I was super buff!

Have a great Hallowe’en, everybody!

Could these have been the original creators? image source: http://www.brownie-camera.com

Brownies are one of my favorite desserts that packs a ton of flavor in just a few square inches. Not only do you get the flavor of rich, semisweet chocolate, you get that incredible texture of a dense, chewy cake that–after having taken a bite–you can see your teeth marks leaving that tell-tale sign that you’ve just bitten into a moist, delicious brownie. And you’ll probably have some brownie on your teeth, as well.

Deconstructing Brownie. After my failed attempt at making a pumpkin “blondie” (it turned into a cake) I spent a couple hours thinking of what makes a brownie a brownie. I looked at ingredients for brownies, blondies, pumpkin bars, and cookies. It looked like I needed a few ingredients for the basic recipe (flour, sugar, butter, an egg)  and the rest can be modified to whatever flavor you want your brownie to be.

Think and chew on this. I wanted this brownie chewy, so leaving out any leavening like baking soda and baking powder was the thing to do (my mistake at my failed brownie/successful cake.) Adding pumpkin would give it a ton of moisture, and I wanted to be sure it was nice and dense so I used oat flour for it’s “glueyness” and buckwheat flour for it’s “heaviness”.

The results: I took it out of the oven and wouldn’t wait to let it cool down. No way, Jose, this smelled too wonderful!   Each slice told me it was the texture I wanted (soft and moist) and I was all to anxious eat it as soon as I could work a slice free. Pumpkin pie spices with pumpkin filling…you could probably get away with calling this breakfast. Probably. :)

Gluten-Free Chewy Pumpkin Brownies

Gluten Free Pumpkin Brownies
There’s no cocoa in this recipe, it’s the buckwheat flour that gives it a dark color.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup roasted pumpkin or pumpkin puree
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp allspice)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine roasted pumpkin or pumpkin puree with chopped dates. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours so dates can absorb moisture from the pumpkin.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″x8″ pan with foil, allowing 2″ of overhang on sides. Coat with cooking spray and set aside.

In a heavy bottom skillet brown butter. Remove from heat, stir in sugars until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients with a whisk. Make a well in center and pour in butter and sugar mixture. Add beaten egg. Mix until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, center will still be moist.

*Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or tightly wrap with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to a month.

*(I forgot to add this in when I originally posted!)

Get ready to sink your teeth into this deliciousness!

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the Soyfoods Council is challenging Recipe Redux to inspire family, friends, and readers to add more soy foods to their diet by creating recipes using one of the most versatile soy foods available–tofu!

If you’ve been following my post for the last week, you’re already familiar with my Creamy Tofu Alfredo and Chocolate Pumpkin-Coconut Pudding recipes I made in an attempt to add more tofu to my (and my husband’s) diet(s). You also may have checked out other Recipe Reduxers and their tofu-riffic recipes here, but if you haven’t, take a look and you’ll see some soy-licious recipes!

My third experiment: cauliflower pizza crust meets tofu patty

Background: I made a cauliflower pizza crust recipe for dinner and was very happy with the flavor, but not so happy with all the cheese. I came across some recipes that used tofu in place of cheese, which seemed like a very good idea to cut calories and fat. By using some lite tofu I was able to reduce the amount of cheese, but this would give the pizza crust an entirely different texture. Rather than making a limp crust, I decided to make a batch of patties…skinny tofu patties!

The verdict: The success is in the seasoning. Oregano, basil, and a little bit of red pepper flakes made this a very flavorful dish. The tofu and egg create a  chewy, slightly spongy texture, sort of like a thin omelette. I had a few patties left over from dinner and they were great for a light lunch. Matter of fact, I think I prefer them cold.

Skinny tofu patties

Skinny Tofu Patties
They’re great hot or cold, with a salad or by themselves. Perfect for an on-the-go meal.

Ingredients:

1/4 block firm light tofu
1 cup cauliflower florets with stems on, steamed (I used pretty orange cauliflower here)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
2 eggs, beaten

optional toppings:
mushrooms, thinly sliced
chopped tomato
asparagus

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silpat or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, add tofu, oregano, basil, salt, and dried pepper flakes and mash with a fork. Add shredded Parmesan cheese and mushrooms, stir to combine.

grating orange cauliflower (white and purple work equally good!)

Using a box grater, grate steamed cauliflower florets, holding by the stem end. Eat stems! Mix everything together, add eggs and mix well.

Drop heaping tablespoons of mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread until thin and 4″-5″ in diameter. Top with mushrooms, tomatoes or asparagus. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until top starts to brown. Makes about 10 skinny patties.

Disclosure: by posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Be sure to check out the other tofu-riffic recipes at The Recipe Redux: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2012/10/grilled-tofu-blt-sandwich-giveaway/.


The flavor of the week is back! Introducing the second most prolific plant in my garden (next to weeds)…cucumber!

This was the healthiest plant of the three. Had to push it back from the stone walkway using tomato cages and a block of wood.

Moved the vine from the ground onto the brick wall so it won’t fall prey to the weed whacker again.

Spikes on some cultivars provide a formidable defense against hungry predators…unless you’re wearing gloves!

These cucumbers, called “Straight 8,” are ready to pick when they’re about 8″ long. They’re crisp and have big seeds, but are so fleshy that I just gouge the seeds out and still have plenty of cucumber left. I eat them with my fruit salads, with tofu soaked in shoyu and ginger, and pickled some in Korean gochujang hot sauce for a lazy kimchee recipe.

But one of my favorite ways to eat cucumber was introduced by my father-in-law a few years ago. He would make grilled chicken with this delicious, creamy, garlicky tzatziki sauce. I had the hardest time pronouncing it but an easy time eating it! In addition to the incredibly creamy texture, the fresh garlic and lemon adds a delicious mouthwatering savoryness that can be eaten guilt-free: zero fat calories, low in sugar, and tons of protein!

I ate twice this much tzatziki, goes well with everything on my plate!

It’s another way to enjoy yogurt and a solution to getting  rid of all those extra cucumbers lying around. I just might have to let my in-laws give this a try…and maybe get zwei daumen nach oben!

Easy Tzatziki
serve with grilled chicken, raw veggies, raw zucchini noodles, or use as a veggie sandwich spread.

Ingredients:

1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried dill
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cucumber
1 1/2 cup Greek-style nonfat yogurt

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine garlic, salt, and dill. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice and zest. In another bowl or on a cutting board, using a box grater shred cucumber using large grater holes. Grabbing a handful of shredded cucumber, squeeze out excess liquid, reserving for later use (or drink it down!) Add squeezed & shredded cucumber to yogurt, stir to combine. Repeat with remaining shredded cucumber. Adjust seasonings to taste, store in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.