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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cheesy Crackers

Today, while I perused Kiwi magazine, I found some amazing recipes. Every time I look at this magazine I find great ideas, so it is definitely on my Christmas list...but this copy I could not take with me...so I snapped pictures of the recipes! First recipe to try was the homemade crackers, which are great for getting the kiddos involved! They're a perfect cracker for everyday snacking, but would also make a great snack at a holiday get together or wine tasting party.

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1-3/4 Cups Grated Cheese (I use my favorite...Cedar Grove Marbled Colby)
  • 6 Tbsps Chilled Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseeds (Amazing to have on hand to add to smoothies, etc. and in case you need an egg in a recipe and don't have one...1 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 Tbsps water)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2-4 Tbsps Ice Water
  • All Purpose Herb Mix (if you want-I use the Frontier Organic brand)
Preheat oven to 400. Start by pulsing flour, cheese, butter, flaxseeds, spice mixture and salt in food processor until you have a sandy consistency. Elia is in charge of pulsing and dumping ingredients in. Then begin by adding 2 Tbsps of water and pulse until you get a dough that comes together and will hold when mashed between your fingers. Add more water if needed, remembering you don't want the dough to feel sticky. Then roll out on a floured surface, prick with a fork to prevent from puffing up a lot and cut out shapes with little cookie cutters (you don't want really big crackers here). Place on parchment or wax paper lined pans and bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Let them cool and then eat at room temperature. The recipe recommends not putting them in an airtight container as they can get soggy. I've tried making homemade crackers in the past, very similar recipe, but the girls did not like them. These are amazingly good and Lily likes asking for a "star cookie". I will definitely make these again. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October Unprocessed Day 1


Homemade Whole Wheat Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Recipe:  http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/21/recipe-whole-wheat-banana-pancakes-freeze-the-leftovers/ I doubled the recipe and instead of using 4 bananas I used 2 bananas, 1 grated carrot and 1 grated honey crisp apple. I have plenty left over so they'll all be going in the freezer for breakfasts this month.
Elia also decided to eat a whole carrot and some raisins for breakfast...

I had 2 AkMak crackers with cheese, apple slices, celery and a maple syrup latte.
Elia had, per her request, cottage cheese with banana, apple slices and celery.
Lily had a grilled cheese (maybe 1 bite), applesauce and 1/2 of a banana.
DJ took leftover homemade pierogies with salsa and sour cream to work. (recipe to come)

Vegetable Stir Fry-I used brown rice and a mixture of vegetables (eggplant, bok choy, zucchini, onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, carrots and broccoli).
Start by getting your rice going. Meanwhile sautee 1/2 of onion, 1/2 carrots, 1/2 celery and garlic in olive oil. Add about 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2 cups water to mix then put in blender to puree. I use San-J Organic Tamari (gluten free soy sauce with reduced sodium), which only has water, organic soybeans, salt and organic alcohol in it. In the pan start sauteing the rest of your veg in olive oil, then add in about 1 Tbsp of Whole Wheat Flour, allowing it to cook about 2 minutes. Then add in your pureed sauce and bring to bubble. Once the brown rice is done, mix it all together and serve. The girls really liked it, and don't mind eating their veggies prepared this way.
Mama and Papa had a little bit of white wine (Sterling's Sauvignon Blanc-AWESOME!), which is not considered a processed food.

Elia and Lily had some carob covered raisins (I'm pretty sure they're processed a bit, but I'm more lax with them) I had a little dish of whole milk yogurt with a sprinkle of homemade granola and DJ had part of an apple.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's Soaking?

I've got, from top to bottom, almonds, a mix of primarily black and red kidney beans and garbanzo beans soaking. The almonds need to soak for making almond milk, the mix of beans I wanted to prepare and freeze for go-to protein for lunch and dinner and the garbanzo beans are going to be used in making Falafel. 

Almond Milk:
1 Cup Almonds - Soaked for 6 hours in enough water to coat
3 Cups Water
Optional - 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp Cardamon, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Almond Extract

Soak almonds then rinse. In a blender combine 2 cups water and almonds. Strain using a fine mesh strainer or milk bag, then add remaining pulp and blend with remaining 1 cup water and again strain. Add any additional flavoring you want and serve. Almond milk keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be used in smoothies, in baking, with cereal, in lattes, etc.
Nut Milk Bag (purchased at Whole Foods)

For the falafel recipe, I like this one, from Epicurious.com http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/My-Favorite-Falafel-231755
I'm making a double batch and am planning on baking them instead of frying. 
To bake:  Preheat oven to 375F. Either place balls on a parchment lined and lightly oiled baking pan, or in lightly oiled muffin tins. Bake for 40 minutes or till golden. If you want, flip half-way through, for more even cooking. I love to freeze these and serve on whole wheat pita with greens, peppers, cucumber, onion, and a yogurt sauce, kind of like tzatziki. YUM!
Uncooked/Rolled Falafel

October Unprocessed Month is Here!!

As many of you know, I am very excited to be taking part in the October Unprocessed Challenge 2012 (http://www.eatingrules.com/october-unprocessed-2012/). Why am I so excited about this you may ask? Well, here's my story:

This past summer, as I sat around my house nursing my silly broken foot, I was enlightened. I began to understand food in a much deeper way. It all started when I stumbled upon Lisa Leake's Blog, "100 Days of Real Food." (http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/) In her blog, Lisa, a Wife and Mom of 2, cuts out all processed food (in her family) for 100 days. She starts out on her mission like most of us, thinking we're eating healthy, but not quite understanding all that we are eating. Although I've always considered myself a "healthy" eater, there was much that I did not understand either.

I love to cook and make many homemade meals/food items, made all organic baby food for my two little girls, started gardening to grow our own vegetables, always purchased whole wheat breads/pasta when possible and went for organic items at the store as often as I could. That sounds fairly healthy to me, and yet what I did not grasp, was the actual ingredients of the food I was eating. I can guarantee you that I looked at the Nutrition Label on my food, but I was looking at the Calories, Fat, Sugar and Sodium. I was not looking at the actual ingredients. Well, ok I did look to make sure there was no High Fructose Corn Syrup in my foods, but that was about it. Like so many of us, I was blind. I did not think to understand why oatmeal at Starbucks had added coloring in it, nor did I even know that it did. I did not think to understand what "All Natural" flavorings meant and/or where they come from. If I could not quite understand a word on a label, I figured it must still be ok, it's FDA approved afterall...Wow!

Now that I've learned about food, I do not want to put all the extra chemical products and shelf stabilizers in my body, especially products that are banned and highly regulated in many other countries; like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), artificial food coloring, etc. I will not take the time to explain the risks, based on literature, that surrounds all of these highly processed items, but I highly encourage you to learn more. Both of the above mentioned blogs offer a great insight into these topics, as well as Vani Hari's, aka the Food Babe, blog http://foodbabe.com/.

I took a slowish path to unprocessed food over summer, and did not set unachievable goals for myself. I started by shopping at my local organic grocery store, Good Harvest Market in Pewaukee. I decided, with my husband, that we would only buy organic produce from now on. This is not a frugal choice by any means, but we decided that investing in our health now may alleviate higher costs in the future. There are many websites that list "must buy" organic produce items and those that are ok to buy conventional. Either way, you need to decide what works for your budget and family. We also started buying organic dairy and eggs only. About a month in, and after no longer wanting to have processed foods, I decided to completely purge my pantry and fridge of those items. This was easy in some respects as I could donate the unopened products to Second Harvest. Fridge items that were almost full were harder for me, as I did not like the idea of wasting food, but either way, it was a choice I was ready to make. I dumped almost a whole bottle of Hershey Syrup (and yes I think it had HFCS in it...it was a treat at the time), which was a bit harder to see go to waste. The next step, for us, was a juice cleanse over Labor Day. DJ and I embarked on a three day "Juice Only" cleanse to get rid of extra toxins, that I felt would be a good idea as we're now eating clean. That was a challenge, but I'll share more on that later.

So here I am, happy to be eating in the light and understanding what I am truly doing and how it affects my body and health. You find, as you start on this journey, that your taste buds really do change and you begin to taste each item of food you're having. You no longer crave salty and sweet snacks and you definitely know when something you eat is over seasoned. You get to a point where veering off the path for a meal sounds fine, but you actually end up feeling sick afterwards.

I am so excited to spread the word of October Unprocessed because it is an awesome idea, and start, for so many people that, like me, care about their health and truly want to understand the food they eat. I love that this challenge is only a month long, so it's manageable. On the Eating Rules page you will find a whole guide on the challenge, and it starts by having you set your own goals and making it as achievable for yourself as possible. This is a hard month for many as Halloween is near, but I feel it is a great time to really step up to this challenge!

P.S. If you want to sign up for the challenge and would like to have an unprocessed potluck dinner sometime, let me know...that would be fun!