Tag Archives: coconut

Cranberry Almond Coconut Balls

I’m pretty beat.

I’m ready for Christmas so that I can just relax, and work will stop being a whirlwind of people scrambling to get massive projects done at the last minute. I work in n industry where people being “last minute lucys” turns into our problem if we can’t make a 2-day job happen in 1-hour.

Of course, the 2-day job in 1 hour could potentially happen if everybody wasn’t working on the same deadline.

Such is life. There is a calm after the storm just like there is one before it.

And at least I had time to make these this weekend.

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After making my Mounds Balls, I quickly realized 20 balls for 5 hungry people (some going to families) was not going to cut it – especially at the rate that those balls are demanded. I made some again the next morning.

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But, you may know me enough by now that I couldn’t just do the same ol’ Mounds Balls as I made the night before. When my eye caught the dried cranberries I’d picked up, I decided to work them in there, too.

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Part of me also really wanted to work in some almond butter, but I resisted on the basis that even I am not completely sold on eating almond butter straight up, and so didn’t think I could convince anyone else of it, either.

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Then I wanted to make another batch with peanut butter – but aren’t there already peanut butter balls made with sugar and graham crackers and rolled in chocolate? Buckeyes or something? So I passed.

I like to remain relatively original. Hence why I don’t bake things like chocolate chip cookies. It breeds for comparison, and I’m really not that good of a baker. I dare you to find someone who doesn’t have a “favorite” chocolate chip cookie. Now think of how many people you know that have a favorite lemon poppyseed cookie. I rest my case. I will never be able to compete against people’s favorite chocolate chip cookies, no matter how good mine are.

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I used (and recommend) marcona almonds for this recipe – but I’m sure any almonds would be fine. I just enjoy the salty, smooth marcona almonds to contrast the sweetness of the coconut, and cranberry.

And FWIW, my disclaimers about this recipe are the same as they were for the Mounds Balls. I am in no way, shape or form declaring these to be healthified. They are, however, an enjoyable treat that gets you out of ay kind of trouble. Though maybe not quiiiiite as easily as the Mounds Balls do Winking smile 

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Cranberry-Almond Coconut Balls

for 21 balls:

  • scant 3/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 c. date syrup
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, softened but not liquid
  • 1 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries (I think mine were fruit juice-sweetened, though only because I have a terrible time finding unsweetened!)
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped marcona almonds
  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1” square parafin wax, finely chopped
  • 1 square baker’s chocolate, finely chopped

Cream together the date syrup, sugar and coconut oil. When smooth, add in the coconut, cranberries and almonds. Mix to combine, then chill for approx. 30 minutes.

When chilled, line a small baking sheet with waxed paper. Roll the coconut mixture into about tablespoon-sized balls, and place on the paper. Try and make sure they’re not touching. Freeze for at least an hour, or overnight.

When balls are frozen, set up a double boiler on the stove with the chocolate chips, wax and baker’s chocolate. Heat until smooth and thoroughly melted. When ready, remove from heat and drop the balls in a few at a time, using the spoon and your fingers to thoroughly coat. Place back on the waxed paper baking sheets when done, and chill/freeze when set.

I toasted some coconut and marcona almonds to sprinkle on top, too – which is entirely optional but an added touch. You’ll need to sprinkle it on a couple of seconds after you place the balls on the sheets, though, as the wax casues it to set pretty quick.

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I preferred these over the Mounds Balls, but most likely because I like “different” things.

What about you – do you like to break the mold, or do you tend to go with the flow?

16 Comments

Filed under baking, christmas, coconut, holiday, recipe

How to Become a Legend

My mom is a little bit of a legend. It is due solely to this one recipe lurking in her little black box.

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My mom isn’t one of those women who is constantly baking. She’d rather be outside doing something, working around the house. She bakes a lot come Christmas time, and occasionally during the winter months. It is a rare sight to see her baking in the summer.

She’s made these Mounds Balls every Christmas for the past…lot of years.

No one – no one – lets her forget it.

My bosses don’t let me forget it, either. I hear about them all year…joking “you can do whatever you want if you bring coconut balls!”

“Sorry, that’s only at Christmas time!” is the constant reply.

Nothing really makes these inherently Christmas-y except for the aforementioned reason that she only bakes this time of year.

And it’d never occurred to me before this year that maybe I could try making them myself. I mean, I wouldn’t mind being a legend!

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I even had some tricks up my sleeve. If I were Bobbette Flay, this is where I’d ask her Are you ready for a Throwdown?”

We’re both winners, though.

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A few things before we get started:

  • Only make these if you want an “out” out of every wrong thing you do. An instant way to make people forgive you.
  • Only make these if you want to instantly convince people to give you your way.
  • Only make these if you want to become legendary.
  • Only make these if you’ve got room for freezing a lot of balls. (We’re making balls, here. There’s going to be balls jokes.)
  • One last thing: I’m usually posting “healthified” recipes. Let me get this out of the way: this has not been healthified. In the least. They’re basically balls of sugar. And that’s totally okay. Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m totally satisfied after (half of) one, yet recognize how good they are Winking smile

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Even making the original recipe with my mom, I’d prefer them before coating in chocolate, and she’s the same. It’s now becoming clear where my “I don’t care for chocolate” tastebuds come from.

Still, I coated them because I realize the large majority of people would much rather have them covered in dark chocolate than a random little ball of sugar and coconut.

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Added bonus? They’re easy. A little time consuming since they can’t really be made in one sitting – but easy.

Mounds Balls

Slightly adapted from an old Taste of Home recipe for Mounds Balls

for 21 balls:

  • 1 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c. flaked, sweetened coconut
  • 1/8 c. sweetened condensed almond milk (recipe below)
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips
  • 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1” square of parafin wax
  • optional: additional almonds and coconut, toasted, for topping after dipping in chocolate

1. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl and then add in the coconut oil. It’s okay to microwave it a few seconds to get it softened, but you don’t want it runny. Mix on high until “creamed.” Some notes: 1. You will need an electric blender for this. 2. It will take a while, but it will come together just before you admit defeat. 3. You’ll probably want to start slowly and work your way up to extra fast. Unless you want sugar in places it shouldn’t be.

Don’t ask me how I know any of that.

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2. Add in the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla and almonds. Blend just to combine. Chill the mixture in the fridge for about half an hour.

3. Once chilled, line a small baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the mixture into approx. tablespoon-sized balls and place on baking sheet. You won’t want them touching. Once all are done (I got 24, though I was a bit inconsistent with size) freeze for at least 30 minutes.

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4. Once your balls are frozen, set up a double boiler by placing a small-medium sized bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate chips, bakers chocolate and wax. You’ll want to make sure you shave the wax and bakers chocolate pretty finely, or else your chips will be melted but you’ll still have hunks of wax. Again – not that I would know anything about that.

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Make sure you’re careful not to let the water come up the sides and ruin your chocolate, too. One drop and you’ve gotta start over!

Once it’s smooth and ready, remove from heat (but keep on top of the hot water so it stays warm) and drop in a couple coconut balls at once. Spoon the chocolate over so it’s entirely coated, and then remove, setting back on the wax-lined sheets. Nothing fancy, folks – just use your spoon and the fingers!

If the chocolate starts to thicken, just put it back over heat. Once all are done, freeze or chill until set. Optional: I toasted some coconut and almonds that I sprinkled over top. This needs to be done almost immediately after dipping the balls, though, or else it won’t stick.

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Only thing better than these mounds balls? The rendition I came up with when feeling like breaking the mold:

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You’ll see that tomorrow Winking smile

Now…go make yourself a legend!

EDITED to add the Sweetened Condensed Non-Dairy Milk recipe that I forgot!

Simply simmer 1/4 c. brown sugar (lightly packed) with 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk, 1 T. earth balance and 1 t. vanilla extract until thickened. Stir/whisk often.

18 Comments

Filed under baking, christmas, coconut, holiday, recipe

Formatting Fun

Anyone who hasn’t thrown and put away 400 bales of hay in 90 degree humidity (outside – add about 20 up in the hay loft) hasn’t lived yet.

Okay – maybe that’s a lie and you’re probably perfectly content not participating in this rather cruel and unusual punishment for loving your horse. I mean, in order to play the game right, you must:

  • be clad in hot, sticky jeans, boots, and t-shirt, and possibly gloves if you don’t want to callus your dainty hands
  • be willing to stack and/or throw 50 lbs one after another
  • realize you’ll have sweat dripping down your face, into your eyeballs, and not be able to do anything about it because the next bale is waiting for you already
  • realize there are no breaks, except for maybe five minutes in between carts
  • realize you will be breathing in hay particles via your nose and mouth
  • realize you may get stung by bees
  • realize it’s highly likely that the hay will come in the most unpleasant of weather
  • realize you’ll probably have a killer headache for the rest of the day after having so much dust and hay up your nose so that it feels like there’s hay in your brain
  • feel really accomplished when you’re all done.

That said, a good breakfast was necessary.

I knew I wanted to help A with hay today, and since it was to arrive at 8:00 (hah! what a joke that was) I knew I should probably make a quicker breakfast than waffles, since I also knew I’d rather sleep in a little bit after heading to bed late. Of course, by the time I’d made banana soft serve to “top” my oats, I’d probably spent just as much time anyways. Sometimes I like to take the long way around things.

I’ve seen tons of bloggers mixing overnight oats and banana soft serve, and now I know why. The mix of textures is perfect, and banana soft serve is pretty fantastic, itself! For the overnight oats portion, I mixed:

En la manana, I mixed in some more coconut water and vanilla chobani…before “topping” (err – sharing the bowl) with:

  • banana soft serve (I can never get it to blend with just bananas – so I added in more vanilla chobs and some OV vanilla yogurt)
  • wheat germ
  • cashews
  • coconut
  • goji granola
  • pb sauce (peanut buttah and OV yogs)

and zennn….I was off! I grabbed an Apricot Clif Bar for snackage. I’m not usually a fan of Clif bars since they are so sweet, and of course the whole soy protein thing – but knew it was a better choice for today than, say, my beloved Larabar.

This actually wasn’t super sweet, luckily – but it didn’t much taste like apricot, either. It’s my last one in my “stash,” though – and probably won’t buy any more 😛 I had most of it (A had a piece) in between hay wagons.

Of course, the hay guys didn’t even show up until 9:10 – and hour + late. While we were waiting we cleaned out some lanes that had old hay in them – and I was already hating wearing jeans.

That sounds funny. I wouldn’t have preferred to be nekkid, for those wondering what I meant – but breeches are much easier to work in! Not good for hay though. And don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining about putting hay away. I enjoy it in a weird way (it’s a great workout!) and offered my help – but it would have been much nicer if it had been delivered on time, when it was much cooler! We’ve been having insane heat and humidity lately, but luckily, it’s supposed to end tomorrow!

I was drenched with sweat afterwards, and there was no way I was up for riding Teddie, unfortunately. Oh,w ell – I’m sure he wasn’t complaining! I immediately jumped in the shower when I got home, and even though it was only 11:20, I was thinking of so many things I wanted for lunch.

Of course, I also wanted to spend next to no time making it. Waffles and eggs? too much time! Tempeh and PB. too much time to fry the tempeh. Portabella burger. too long. I can’t even remember all of the millions of things I was thinking! But one of them was broccoli-bean pie, and I was so grateful for leftovers at that moment in time! I left a little bit left for my mom for lunch tomorrow (though she might forget and it’ll be my lunch!) and homemade bread, which became this:

And half a random banana. And coconut water. And a SuperCharge Me cookie.

And just to give you an example of how gross I was, I needed more almond milk but didn’t go to the store on my way home. Usually I have no shame and go horsey all the time – but hay-y is a whole ‘nother level of gross. Anyways. I went raspberry picking, too! I just pick the best days for outdoor activities.

Note the sarcasm.

Which resulted in a bowl of vanilla chobs, rasperries (x5) and a random half-piece of bread with peach-ginger jam.

Dude, why are there so many random “halves” of food in my house?

And then I passed out. Actually, I tried to pass out, but I think I  only “slept” for ten minutes or so. I was exhausted (did I mention I went to bed late?) and had such a headache.

Unfortunately, horses don’t go on vacation, and I knew I’d have to face the heat again to clean out “the girls”. Before braving it, much of this happened:

Look at my mom’s b-Day card I got her for tomorrow, it’s super cute! I love card shopping.

Unfortunately, you won’t get the true feel for it, but when you open it, it speaks and says “ohhhh no you di-iiinnt!”

Okay, okay – so maybe not my best card selection ever, but I thought it’s cute. It’s all about the shock factor.

After melting some more, I came in to make exactly what I wanted to go raspberry picking for in the first place:

Raspberry-Fig Sauce! For these, naturally;

This time I made it alittle different by adding silken tofu. And since I can’t find my last post I made this in, here we go:

Raspberry-Fig Dressing

  • 1 c. raspberries
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium figs, chopped
  • 1/2 t. basil (dried – but fresh would be better. just double the am’t)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. silken tofu
  • 2 t. date sugar
  • drizzle sesame oil dressing (opt)

Over medium-low heat in a medium sized sauce pan, simmer everything except for the tofu, oil and sugar. Mash up the raspberries a bit, but then just leave it alone until it thickens a bit. Add in the date sugar. You might need to add a splash more water if it gets too thick. Shut off heat and allow to sit and cool for a couple of minutes.

In a blender, add in the silken tofu and then the slightly cooled raspberry mixture. Blend until smooth.

Using a strainer, pour the blended mixture into a container. It will be thick so it won’t pour through on its’ own, so just stir it around with a spoon. This takes care of all of those pesky raspberry seeds! There will be lots 😉

Once strained, discard of leftover seeds, and add in a little bit of sesame oil dressing (sesame oil/olive oil/balsamic vinegar is what mine is) and then thin with water and a splash more balsamic. It’s perfectly fine to leave it thicker, of course, but for me I preferred it thinned a bit.

Initially I wanted to roast the cubed sweet potatoes in the sauce – but then went a different route and decided to just shake them with the sesame oil and then roast them, and just have the sauce as dressing.

This mixing bowl salad was so refreshing! Hidden in there:

  • head of hydroponic Boston Lettuce
  • sweet potato
  • black beans
  • roasted broc
  • grilled portabella cap
  • raspberry-fig sauce
  • toasted bread (a little too much so!)
  • sesame seeds

the only thing it was missing was some good, fresh, local goat cheese! Sad life.

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Don’t Forget to Format!

I’m gonna have a fun little camera blurp now!

I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve come across a blogger saying “I had a picture of it, but my camera ate it.”

Have you had that happen, yourself? More likely than not, it’s probably because you haven’t formatted your memory card lately. It’s sort of one of those minor yet oh-so-important details. Often, people simply erase them as they go along – hit delete, delete all, or even delete them through your computer.

This can get veddy, veddy bad.

If you fail to format your memory card every so often, the “language” in which the camera communicates with the card becomes a bit foggy. You may think you’re taking a picture, but it’s not writing it to the card. Sure – some people may never format their memory card in their life, and never have any problem. Good for you! I am glad. Just know that when you actually take really, really important pictures – say, a once in a lifetime trip – is when it will happen. So get in the habit now! It’s easy. For most cameras, simply:

  • hit menu
  • select “format memory card”
  • select “yes”

on menu, it may be under the “playback menu”. Just do a little hunting, and you’ll find it – but it’s not hidden. Yes, this will erase all of the photos on your card.If you’re that person walking around with pictures from two Christmases ago still on your camera, I suggest you burn them all to a CD now and format your card. I do this after each and every time I upload. Being foodbloggers – we “dump” our camera’s cards often, and I’m probably a little too format-happy as it doesn’t need to be done every week, even. But just don’t forget to do it! Especially before big, important events and after lots of use.

What else should you be careful about? For a happy memory card:

  • never “swap” cards with someone – don’t use your card in your camera, hand it to someone else to use in their camera, and then use it again in yours. You’re asking for trouble.
  • Be careful of static electricity – you’re quite likely to have something erased should you, say, slide down a slide with your coat in your wool jacket’s pocket when the air is very dry/staticy.
  • use multiple – mostly relevant if you’re on a long trip, not a day-to-day basis – but I much prefer shooting cards until they’re, say, half full – and then starting with another one. This way, if you run into a problem, you’ll potentially lose less data than had you shot with the card until it was full.
  • format your new memory cards the second you put it into your camera – this makes sure the card and camera are communicating clearly
  • switch off your camera before removing the card – this is to avoid “voltage shock”

I don’t want any of you to go running into your local camera shop frantically because you lost all of your photos of your trip to Alaska, your child graduating preschool, or a zebra running down the street with a party hat. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen before. (Not the zebra scenario – the people running in frantically to their local camera shop. Those people are hard to calm down, tell you what.)

So format your card!

28 Comments

Filed under breakfast, cooking, dinner, foodblog, health, healthy living, lunch, oatmeal, recipe

Millet and Black Bean Gratin

I can’t imagine being a chef and getting an oil burn or anything worse than a little “whoopsie.”

Made with 1/4 c. each: chia seeds, mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, 2 T: sesame seeds, garlic salt

I gave myself a baby burn while I was removing my crackers from the toaster oven (…and being stupid and twisting my arm around with the pan to put it on the far side of the cutting board, so yes, it was my fault.) and it’s still screaming at me. Matter of fact, it’s right on the area of my arm that also rests right on the edge of the keyboard as I type. Smooth moove.

The worst part of this story is that it didn’t even leave enough of a mark to make anybody believe it hurts. Le sigh.

What’s the worst you’ve hurt yourself in the kitchen?

Anyways. The main reason I had to contort myself into strange shapes with the pan was because I was taking up so much room with veggies to broil for a Veg Gratin. I saw a lovely-looking one on Nicole’s blog this morning, and I had to have one. First I thought of making hers, except with bulgur instead of brown rice, and broccoli too. But then I started surfing, and found this one on Epicurious.

I can’t really say this is like either one, but since I never would have arrived at this point had it not been for that initial influence, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now, would we?

Millet and Black Bean Gratin

Serves one really hungry person, or two as a “mostly dinner.” Because that makes a lot of sense.

  • 1/8 c. millet
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • ~1/2 c. sugar snap peas
  • ~1/4 c. diced carrots
  • ~3/4 c. broccoli
  • 1/2 T. milled flax mixed with 1 1/2 T. water
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 small tomato, sliced thin
  • 1/8 t. garlic salt
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by preparing your millet. To be honest, I’m not really sure how millet is supposed to be prepared (I thought it was 3:1 water to grain) because I followed the directions I found and kept having to add more water. But! I did toast it first, just so we’re on the same page.

While that’s simmering, prepare your veggies by seasoning with salt and pepper and roasting them for 15-20 minutes in a 400* oven. (for more crunch, don’t pre-cook your veggies.)

In a medium-sized bowl, mash up the majority of the black beans, some left for texture.

Add in the nutritional yeast, dijon, broccoli and carrots, and mix. You’ll want to make sure the veggies are relatively finely chopped. Once it’s combined, add in your cooked millet and then the flax egg. This helps to bind it a bit.

Spread the mixture out into a casserole pan, and top with the sugar snap peas and tomato slices. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes in a 400* oven.

Note: This was made in a toaster oven.

Observations: While I would have loved being able to do this with garbanzos or, even better – butter beans – I’m still in a bean crisis. Alas, the black beans in this weren’t so bad afterall! As I was making it, I thought I’d missed the mark just based on what I like. But I love the creaminess the beans and millet combined gives it. I was waffling about what to do for seasonings, but in the end, as you can see – kept it simple. Garlic salt was really enough! I find veggies, beans, nutritional yeast, and dijon don’t really need any crazy kind of “pumping up.”

Dinner: Naturally, I enjoyed mine over a bed of greens with some Ragu and feta.

Additionally, I think I’d probably like this with tomatoes and garlic and basil only (in the beans layer, beans being a white bean of some sort) but I have  broccoli and sugar snap pea overload. It’s okay, though – I do love them!

And last but not least – this was my first time trying millet! I know, I know – I realized at the co-op yesterday that I have so many grains I’ve yet to try. I was just going to restock on quinoa, but then amaranth, millet, and wheatberries had me change my mind. Didn’t get amaranth, but it’s in the line-up.

What’s your favorite grain?

But, back to something that didn’t require too much debate – breakfast!

I opted for gingerbread waffles today. To my typical waffle recipe, I added:

  • 1/2 T (?) molasses
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ground ginger
  • 1 t (?) light brown sugar

and to add to the ginger lovin’ I topped them with about 3/4s of a large banana sliced and nuked with chopped dried figs, slow roasted pecans, crystallized ginger, ginger-peach preserves, and a sprinkle of light brown sugar. Next time I would definitely add more ginger! And maybe a touch more molasses, too. I am always weary of over seasoning something. I mean – you can always add more, but once there’s too much, you’re done for!

These were a little bit “gooier” than the usual ones I make. Not a bad thing – I liked the moistness the molasses added – but just a forewarning if anyone has had trouble with these sticking in the past.

This proved to be the best fuel for dealing with the little monster today! He was quite full of himself. It was actually a lot of fun, heh. It’s also a little bit comical, because I think had a non-horse person watched us, they would have felt bad for me – but in the end, I felt very accomplished. Actually, I take that back – someone who couldn’t read a horse’s body language probably would have thought we looked good! There was a lot of “new stuff” to deal with. First, we rode while A was. Now, we’ve ridden with another pony in the ring before, and while A was finishing up – but never while she was cantering around, jumping, etc. So being in the same ring as another horse who moved faster than a slow jog was something he took surprisingly well. Didn’t care much at all until Jewel came in – the pony he (should be) used to, and doesn’t usually care about.

However, I think she may have been in heat, and Mr. Teddie here thinks he’s…ahem…more of a man than he really is. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he was gelded very late and has little baby Teddies roaming around. So, with her – he was fixated. I was actually about to cool him out – long reins and all – when he decided he would bee-line across the ring to get to her. Luckily I put the kibosh on that, and took advantage of his renewed energy to make. him. work. And would you believe it, that little stinker was bending, flexing, using his behind, and moving out like the best of them! I had a lot of fun 😀 We got a quick canter in, although as I was saying to A – “we don’t canter, we take strides of consecutive buck and then sort of canter.” haha. But it will come. He’s already caught on that I don’t want a really fast trot when I ask, I want a canter – he gave me (some bucks and) a canter within a couple seconds!

My other thought was that maybe he was nervous that “his” mare was in the ring with him and another gelding – who A was on. Anyways.

All of that hard work was rewarded with some of the best sludge I’ve made yet.

Yes, this was probably the grossest colored green monster I’ve made thus far – but definitely the tastiest! I took the cue from Amanda and added coconut water instead of almond milk today. I, too, have been feeling insanely thirsty lately. I always drink a lot – but yesterday I swear I was thirsty every five minutes. I didn’t have a problem today, so I’m wondering if it was maybe just from not drinking much over the weekend.

But it was all about the blueberry-coconut relationship today! In the blender went (approximately):

I topped the pond sludge with:

  • more fresh blueberries
  • quick oats
  • marcona almonds
  • shredded sweetened coconut
  • chopped date
  • all-natural chunky peanut butter
  • drizzle of (local) blackberry honey creme

Oh. my. heavens. Why won’t coconut water just come out my faucet, already? So good. I enjoyed the rest with my smoothie – I think the whole bottle would have left it far too runny. I was happy to drink some plain, though 🙂

Wondering about the bennies of coconut water? I touched up just the basics here 🙂

Have you ever had coconut water? What did you think of it?

P.S. Alisa wrote a great article here about the findings linking calcium to potential heart problems. Well – that’s not as true as implied initially! Definitely give it a read 🙂

31 Comments

Filed under breakfast, cooking, dinner, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, lunch, oatmeal, recipe, Uncategorized

Blueberry-Coconut Bulgur Muffins

I went shopping today.

My shopping centre of choice?

A berry farm. All the while picking these beauties, I was dreaming of what I would make. On my way there, I was certain blueberry bran muffins would be the winner. And then my mind shifted to some sort of cobbler, with a crumbly, oaty, sugary topping. And then my mind shifted to some sort of lighter muffin with the flavors of lemon, poppyseed, and blueberry all combined.

While climbing in and out from underneath the bushes (I like monkeying around while picking – I have found that the very best berries are always deep into the center of the tree and at the bottom…where little children don’t think to venture as they’re smearing blueberries over their smiling faces, and older adults don’t bother crawling) blueberry-coconut entered my mind. And finally – blueberry coconut quinoa. Based on my quinoa-bulgur muffins, of course! But, I am the strange one who will put plenty of time into crafting a delicious treat, yet declines to spend an extra 30 seconds rinsing quinoa.

Bulgur it is.

So, prepare yourselves for Blueberry-Coconut Bulgur Muffins

adapted from Veganomicon’s Almond-Quinoa Muffins

yields 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 c. almond milk
  • 1 T. milled flaxseed
  • 2 T. Sunsweet Lighter Bake (see Note)
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 T. coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/3 cup dried bulgur, cooked as prepared (in 2/3 c. water)
  • 2 T. shredded coconut
  • 3/4 – 1 c. fresh blueberries (I used a 1/4 c. as a measurer – and each one was a bit heaped, so it may have been closer to 1 cup by the time I’d done this 3x)

Note: Sunsweet Lighter Bake is basically a fruit puree. I was given a couple of jars of it, and have been using it with pretty good results. If you don’t have this or a similar item, you can use 1/4 c. oil. I bet coconut oil would only make this miiiiiles even more delicious, but I have none. Sad truth.

Destructions:

Preheat oven to 350* and grease/spray/line a muffin tray.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your milk and flaxseed, and allow to sit for a minute to thicken.

Add in your Lighter Bake/oil and maple syrup and whisk.

In a separate, large bowl, combine your dry ingredients save for the blueberries, bulgur, and coconut. Add wet to dry, and mix until just combined.

Fold in the blueberries, cooked bulgur, and coconut.

And spoon into the muffin tins.

Bake for twenty minutes, and let cool on wire racks. Do not do as I did and sample one right off.

Blueberries ooze and are scalding hot. My tongue is still suffering from the aftermath.

If, while working with the batter, you feel they are too dry – feel free to add a splash more milk or water. I made these with 1 cup of milk, but by the time I was done mixing, think I had added in about 1/4 cup extra. Coconut flour is very absorbent, so I am still getting used to accounting for that.

Regardless, they baked up super light and moist. The bulgur offers up a deliciously nutty taste, yet subtle enough that it doesn’t feel too heavy.  Now I just can’t wait to make a lemon poppyseed version with blueberries 🙂

Note that they are not super coconutty. As mentioned, I’m still playing with coconut flour so don’t quite know how much yields what. If you want them super coconutty, I’d think using coconut oil would be a great sub, as well as more coconut. Oooh, and SoDelicious coconut milk rather than almond?!

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Filed under baking, breakfast, cooking, foodblog, health food, healthy living, muffin, recipe

Do You Want Two Free Points?

Don’t get your hopes up – no giveaway here! But, I loved reading everyone’s thoughts about my “portion distortion” blurb. Sounds like it’s a general consensus among us that it has gotten a bit crazy! One thing I wanted to make sure to bring up was Katie’s point that a “serving size” isn’t necessarily the right size for everybody – take for instance, an athlete vs. someone lounging around all day.  I should have thought to point that out, but for some reason was thinking too black and white, as ashamed as I am to admit! I was more stuck on the serving size people expect vs what a “true” on is – leading them to believe they are maybe eating better than they are. The important thing to remember is to eat according to our body – you can’t compare your portions to anybody else because we’re all different and require different types and amounts of food as fuel. If your body needs more than what may be listed as a serving size, by all means – don’t let a box tell you what to do. I was morseso stressing about those who are sort of blindsided by the fact that they’re not taking in what they think they’re taking in. An interesting point from Maggie was that hamburgers in restaurants are often 8 oz – two “servings”!

Moving on to this morning, though. As I mentioned last night, I had an 8:00 exam this morning. Grumble. Of course, that doesn’t mean waking up much earlier but there’s a difference between going to an exam first thing in the morning and going to work, thank you.

I was contemplating overnight oats, but am glad I passed. Nothing does it like hot oats! I even managed to keep my hand out of the cookie fig jar this morning, even though the thought of using a pear just could not be shook! I was thinking about mixing it up – but my mind would not have been satisfied.

Instead, I had some simple pear oats with maple, as always!

The Base:

Topped with:

  • Chia-Flax Icing
  • Naturally Nutty White Choco Cherry Almond Butter
  • chopped mixed nuts (mostly Brazil)
  • and a compote of the rest of the chopped pear, with some dried maple-sweetened cranberries simmered in some almond milk and maple syrup.

I thought it was time to remind myself that the breakfast world does not revolve around figs and dates. Actually, I still think it does…but at least life goes on without them 😉 I love living in the northeast because we have maple-sweetened everything. Actually, you guys probably have maple-sweetened everything, too. Oh, well.

Enjoyed with my [last] Green Mountain Rain Forest Nut k-cup. I let myself run out of coffee again. just about, anyway.

..and then, I finally convinced myself to put actual pants on rather than sweats, and boogied to class. I probably should have just worn sweats, however, as the pants I chose I tend to shy away from because the fly never stays up. I bet you wanted to know that. In addition, by the time I got to class I was a little concerned I was going to die inside that room because every other second someone was coughing or sniffling. Dude, blow your nose already.

Uh, anyway. Exam went okay. My favorite question was “Do you want two free points? (yes/no) HINT: answer yes and get two free points.” My answer was: “yes, please.” I almost wrote “It won’t help me much but I’ll take ’em.” though.

I finished up within an hour and was on my way home. I had plans to do a yogadownload.com video, and first grabbed a banana.

The yoga was quite fun, I must say. I haven’t done yoga in eons! After seeing Nicole always talking about yoga download, I finally gave it a go. I’ve been thinking it would be really beneficial for getting back into riding.

also consumed: quinoa-bulghur muffin.

I prepped some veggies to roast, as well as tempeh, and set to work on matting my final photos. Not a big project, but I needed to figure out which ones I wanted to hang up! And to be the perfect picture of efficiency (man, three things at once!) I was burning my final DVD while all of this was taking place. *curtsy bow*

Not only that, but everything was going really well until I decided to “sprinkle” on some garlic salt using the wrong shaker side and instead dumped it on. Sadly, this is the second time I’ve done this. You would think I’d have learned my lesson by now. Luckily, this time, the eggplant was salvageable.

When all was said and done, I emerged victorious with some barbecue glazed tempeh, apple-maple glazed tempeh, more roasted red peppers, roasted broccoli, and roasted balsamic eggplant. Oh and some photos.

I successfully utilized not a single one of these veggies for lunch. Bwahaha. Am I awful or what? My thoughts/cravings were running wild – I had thought I wanted a sweet-ish panini using the fig spread, apple-maple tempeh, and apple – but after smelling the barbeque knew I had to give that a go. And yet I still wanted apple! What do I do?

Combine them, obviously. I made a panini with barbecue tempeh, gala apple slices, and spinach on dakota loaf, one side spread lightly with additional barbeque. It was heavenly!!

To accompany the meal I had the rest of the apple, some Snyder’s Butter Snaps, a carrot, and some of the fig & goat cheese spread. I ended up sharing the apples and carrots with Jiggy, though…the sandwich alone was perfectly filling! And the two flavors of the apple and the barbecue together were simply stellar.

After bumming around a bit more, I prepped my dinner for tonight so that when I got home, I could simply throw it in the microwave and manja! I had no idea when I would be getting home, but knew it would be a bit later. Our photo critique was starting at 5, and I guessed it would go until at least 6. Hence, why I am publishing this early! But, dinner:

Ohhh, yes. It’s hard to do school work when you know what’s sitting at home in your fridge.

Although, if you think it looks a little funky, I wouldn’t argue with you…I didn’t bother to reheat the burger or gravy, so it’s a little…uh…congealed? Appetizing.

anyways, I just got home (8:00) after sitting through an “I’d rather slowly stab my eyeballs with a dull pencil” sort of critique. That being said, I’m glad I wrote this entire post and had dinner sitting on a plate in my fridge.

I hope everyone’s having themselves a lovely day/morning/night/whatever it is while you are reading this. Love yuhhhs.

____________________________________

An Ode to Coconuts

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to any of you that I’m nutty about coconut. Yep – always have been, and am fairly confident in saying I always will be. I think it has to do with the fact that my sister hates coconut – so naturally, growing up, I had to like it out of spite, right? “C’mon, ma! Make a coconut dessert! Yum! Coconut!” la hem. Okay, maybe I wasn’t that terrible, but I’m betting it played a good role. And you know what? I’m glad my mom wasn’t one of those crazy parents telling me I was going to clog my arteries and die when I’m 20 because of all the saturated fats in coconuts and oh, how awful coconuts are. You know why?

It’s all a lie. I never knew coconuts used to be so shunned upon, actually. So naturally, I was a bit surprised when I started finding some information about the benefits of coconut that hinted that it wasn’t always looked at that way. I mean…what did coconut ever do to anybody other than good?!

Nothing. The saturated fats in coconut are actually MCTs – or, medium-chain triglycerides. Healthy fats! These are the type that are not stored as fats in the body, but rather, utlized for energy. I mean, instead of feeding kids sugar to get a crazy high, soon they’ll be OD’ing on coconut milk! Okay, maybe not. But it might explain why I had so much energy as a kid, considering I found my hand weaseling into a bag of shredded coconut everytime my mom’s back was turned. Okay, that’s half a lie. BUT! In addition to being full of healthy fats, there have also been long-term studies showing that in people whose diets consist primarily of high-fat foods (35-60%, mostly sat. fat from coconuts) there have been fewer cases of heart disease, digestive problems, colon cancer, high HDL (bad cholesterol), kidney disease, osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. (which, if you’re like me and didn’t know what that is, I’ll save you the google key-strokes: it’s the thickening of the artery wall from build up of bad-cholest)

Know what else is pretty cool about coconuts and MCTs? They have antiviral properties. They have antimicrobial properties. (think: lauric acid as well as capric acid) Want to support your immune system even more than you orange-nomming lovelies already are? Use some coconut oil. Feed your infant coconut oil, too. Well, only if you want them to have increased absorption of calcium, magnesium, and amino acids. I’m betting you do; pretty soon the world will be overly populated in even more coconut-fiending babies!

Coconut oil is also super-easy to incorporate into your diet, as are coconut flakes. I am definitely going to be picking some coconut oil up soon! As well as a raw coconut – I’ve never played with those before! I’ve only ever had coconut butter, coconut milk, and coconut flakes.

What’s your favorite use for coconut, or your favorite coconut product?

source: better nutrition, march 2010, “break out of your shell,” johnny bowden PhD

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Filed under breakfast, cooking, dinner, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, lunch, oatmeal, Uncategorized

In with the Old, In with the New

Hey loves! Did everyone enjoy their extra hour of sleep? …oh, wait…you mean, we lost sleep? Snap.

I know I, for one, felt quite out of place in the kitchen this morning, making breakfast at 8am! It was 7:45 when I woke up – normally, that would be 6:45, and I was almost lost. I mean 8:00 is when I’m already having a snack, most days! Even 6:45 is a late morning for me – but I was up late and was pretty beat, so for a weekend it wouldn’t have been that late.

Once I finally found my bearings, I decided on a bowl of mango-coconut-ginger oat bran & barley flakes. Waffles crossed my mind, but I didn’t think I wanted to take the time and effort, and didn’t want to miss my morning oats! I had two exciting new purchases, too!

That doesn't really say Dundee's preserves - it's definitely "Jess's" preserves.

While I – sadly – finished my much-loved jar of Strawberry-Pom jam in the wee hours of the night, at least it meant I could open up a new find! Sure, I’ve got blueberry cherry jam and plum jam in the fridge – but neither of those belonged in my mango oats. And I allow myself three open at once. No more, no less. Gotta have some guidelines for the obsession, you know.

Goji Berries - Mulberries - Goldenberries

My online order from iHerb for this amazing Navitas Naturals mix came just in the nick of time – my goji berries from the co-op got finished up yesterday! I’ll get to what I think of it in a bit.

Rainy Days

I woke up quite a few times during the night to hear torrential downpours and howling winds – and it was only slightly subdued by the time I ate.  I’m not a rain-hater per se – in fact, I find it calming and comforting when I’m at work or need a lazy day – but this was a gross rain, not a pleasant rain. Does that make sense? Luckily – Rain Forest Nut and a delicious bowl of oats & barley made it seem at least a lil’ sunnier.

Ginger preserves = bliss.

The usual sautee method was done with some of the mango – mango, almondmilk, coconut, as well as some dried papaya. Also did a sprinkling of crystallized ginger, and was quite liberal with the coconut butter. Some things are  necessary when you need a lil’ extra sunshine.

Can we just talk about ginger preserves for a second? Okay, listen carefully. Ginger preserves are – to put it simply – the best thing since fork-split english muffins. I am not joking you. The only thing I didn’t like was that the consistency was more jelly-like than jam or preserve-like. And it’s high in sugar, but – ginger can be kind of spicy so I’m just going to push past that minor detail.

And the Navitas Naturals berry mix? LOVE it. When I was ordering to replace, I was looking into mulberries and goldenberries, as well as my usual goji berries. I actually had an order from my favorite supplier – Live Superfoods – for each of these items, but cringed when I saw what the total would be. They aren’t overpriced – but since I had to buy a large amount of each, it added up. When I saw Nicole mention iHerb the other day, I checked out their selection and it was like my mind was already being read – a combination of everything! Score. I had a $5 off code (thanks Nicole!) and decided I might as well order!

The verdict on the mulberries and goldenberries? SOOO good. I love their tartness, and I think they taste much better than just goji berries. I “re-hydrate” them if you will, by adding them to the oat mixture and simmering everything. That was the only way I would enjoy goji berries, but the mulberries and goldenberries I’ll gladly eat by the handful! A heads-up, though: while iHerb has great service – fast shipping, wide selection, low shipping cost – they are not the cheapest supplier out there, at least not for this. Maybe for some of their other products, though. Alas, I had a $5 off code, and you do too: if you want $5 off your very first iHerb order, enter WEZ004. With the cheap shipping (I think it’s one of the lowest out there – but fast!) and the $5 off, they’re not too bad of a deal.

Phew! Moving on.

this is my "moving on." look.

hah, random. sorry. Anywho. Sundays are usually grocery days – mainly produce. But I did some hemming and hawing, and decided I really didn’t feel like going out. Sure, the grocery store is 5 minutes away and it’d be fine driving. But days like this, you just want to stay inside! So I finally decided I’d just run Tuesday – I have plenty of essentials, I’m really just a little low on produce. No biggie.

That said, today I did what I do best: Grazed! I think I re-instated my title of the grazing queen. I even enjoyed some fun new snacks!

This one isn't new. But it's always tasty. Kashi, trail power, sunflower seeds,almondmilk, honey apple butter, orange.

After breakfast I was reading through some blogs, and Marla’s recent post really struck me. She mentioned how she had loads to learn – which is both empowering and frustrating, and I couldn’t agree with this more. In addition, we talked about how ruts stink, but they can invite unique opportunities. Marla, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It is so true! And I wanted to share this with everyone reading, because I think we all need the constant reminder when we are feeling down on ourselves that something good always comes when you least expect it, and every situation we deal with is an opportunity to grown and evolve as a person. Lately – I’ve been having mixed emotions about my photography, and some comments that have been said that could be taken as backhanded compliments. I read Marla’s words and immediately remembered: do what makes you happy. Those who like it, will like it. Those who don’t, don’t. Don’t change what you like, just to make someone else content. It’s not worth it.

I’d also been worried I’ve been getting in another food rut. Are my eats getting boring and repetitive? I can’t tell – I feel like repetitive, yes. But, remember when I was that girl who had a panini wrap or bulgur stir-fry every night? My, my, look how I’ve grown 🙂 Anyways – I’m going back to my loose meal-planning ways in efforts to get some new meals up in hurr’!

And what better day than today, when I am home free with a full kitchen?! That’s what I thought.

Never had a starfruit before. It’s pretty. It tastes just okay. English muffins are always amazingly okay, however. I remember when I was a kid, I would always have my toast with butter and cinnamon-sugar. I thought of this last night, and enjoyed an olivio and cinnamon-stevia english muffin. It made another appearance today.

What’s a food from your childhood that you haven’t had in a while, or have recently “brought back”? And if you’ve never done this with your toast, you should try it 🙂

It had been far too long since my last sweet-potato panini wrap. This one had a fried egg with spinach, red pepper, and red onion, almond mozzarella, and sweet potato rounds seasoned with some salt, pepper, and curry powder. I also made a quickie poppyseed-yogurt-dijon dressing.

This was much better the last time I made one, but I was too lazy to find that recipe. I mean, I’ll put a fried egg on anything. Same goes for sweet potatoes. You can’t go wrong. But if you’re going to do this, do it this way.

So, the majority of my day consisted of cleaning, laundry, drinking coffee, eating, and photo editing. That is, essentially, all she wrote. It was kind of nice. But I still have more photos to go through. Oh well! Do you guys like the random integration of new photos I’ve taken, or could you do without? I mean, I have a photo website and flickr, so I have no problem omitting them from my foodie posts. But I’m not sure if you’d like to see what I’m up to on the photo front? Input is welcome 🙂

Grilled PB, J, & Tempeh Lavash with a side of Chia Gel.

Holy yum. I think when I grow up I need to be able to work from home so I can snack like this all day. A-la Susan, I decided to make a tempeh, peanut butter, and apple-honey butter grilled lavash sandwich. I nuked pb, apple butter, and the tempeh, mashed up, and spread. I also sprinkled cinnamon-stevia on the outside. New obsession? Maybe. Unfortunately, it’s a bit difficult to make at work, so maybe not :[

Although – why on earth have I been so late to jump on the chia gel bandwagon? I think maybe because I’ve seen mixed reviews of it. Well, I adore it. The consistency, the texture, the taste, the chill, oh my! I just combined it with almondmilk, trail power, vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of sun crystals. This was also dessert tonight. And may or may not make an appearance on tomorrow’s oats. If it lasts that long.

Hey, while I'm in the kitchen...why not some oatmeal?

I have these random instant oats packets laying about from when I was an oats n00b. Well, why not put some of a packet to use with some raisins, almondmilk, sunflower kernels, cinnamon, and kashi? Ohhh, if you insist.

cheesy noods.

It was St. Patty’s Dinner Night in the Healthy Exposures household! …if you’re wondering why this doesn’t look like cabbage and corned beef – it’s because I hate cabbage and corned beef. So – you guessed it – I was on my own.

Why not make a cheesy bechamel-alfredo noodle dish? Ohhh, if you insist. And kale. and carrots. and a cheesy creamy sauce made with enough garlic to keep away a thousand vampires, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, almond mozarella, fresh parm, almondmilk, chives, and…? I think that’s about it. Okay, random throw-in spices, I’m sure. And some white bean flour to thicken. And lots of “yum!”s.

I really wished I had more veggies, but luckily had some carrots! And the kale was fine, so it all worked out. I wouldn’t have complained if I had some red pepper and/or plum tomatoes, though. I need to save the last of my red pepper for tomorrow’s lunch, though!

And some good-ol’ parm-garlic lavash. Fine Dining. Sort of.

And that about brings me up to date! How has everyone else’s Sundays gone? I didn’t mind my lazy day – but it’s still really gross out.

I’m a little bummed, too – I think I’m back to waking up in darkness! Hopefully not for too long, though? And I guess the light at night is worth it.

I was going to include some information about goji berries, mulberries, and goldenberries in this post, but – I think I’ve about talked your ears off already. Or – read your eyes out. Whatever floats your boat.

Goodnight everyone! Back to the bump-n-grind tomorrow…oh joy?

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