Tag: health

DIY: Make your own Peanut Butter Pumpkin Truffles!

Fall is officially here! And even though here in Florida we are still in the upper 90’s, there are pumpkin patches and stores are filled with Halloween decorations announcing the arrival of a new season! The lingering of summer in the south doesn’t stop me from pulling out my sweaters and boots from the back of the closet and craving pumpkin flavored everything!

After about 2 hours of research (playing) on Pinterest I had a pumpkin overdose! But was inspired to try something I have never made before: truffles! I do love to eat them, but they just look a little out of my league as far as culinary techniques go.

With pumpkin on my mind and plenty of Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter in my pantry I started to play around with some ingredients to achieve the right consistency for a truffle. My goal was to create a truffle that you can roll easily and only include wholesome and healthier ingredients without adding preservatives or artificial sweeteners. That way I can eat a couple at a time and share them with the whole family too!

I’m happy to say the results were great! After a few tries I arrived at the right ratios and added some spices to bring out the “pumpkin pie” taste I was looking for.  The end result is a gluten-free, low sugar and nutritious truffle I can enjoy without feeling guilty. My kids absolutely loved it and asked for seconds. The combination of Once Again Peanut butter with the pumpkin puree was perfect for me, but you can use any one of your favorite Once Again Nut Butters! I’m thinking the almond butter would be a good one to try next time.  The hardest part of the recipe was melting the chocolate. It was the step that challenged me the most and probably the reason I never ventured into truffle making before.

Here are a few tips that I found extremely helpful.  The double boiling works great if you have a glass bowl that fits into a saucepan without touching the bottom. Add water to the pan and the glass bowl sits on top, use very low heat and mix the chocolate non-stop. Don’t let any water come in touch with the chocolate at any point! My mistake was washing the spoon for mixing but didn’t dry it, it ruined a whole batch of chocolate chips because of the residual water drops coming in contact with the melting chocolate. Also, chips are easier but if you are using a chocolate bar make sure you cut it up into similar sized pieces. Once it is mostly melted remove from heat and keep mixing it! Needless to say this process was a bit of a challenge for me, but so worth it! The chocolate covered truffles looked beautiful and tasted amazing. I did run out of chocolate and used Greek yogurt to cover the last few truffles which turned out pretty good too and makes an even lower calorie truffle!

Check out my short video below. I hope you too get inspired to make your own truffles.

“Pumpkin Peanut Butter Truffle”20141001_230532035_iOS

1/3 cup oat flakes “flour”
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup Once Again Nut Butter Creamy Peanut Butter
1 tsp Pumpkin Spice
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix Pumpkin puree and peanut butter first, then add oats (you may use rolled oats, just put them in the food processor first to achieve a coarse oat flour) and pumpkin spice. I thought the sweetness of the pumpkin and nut butter was enough, but if you are looking for a sweeter truffle, you may add a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. Roll them up and dip into melted chocolate. Place in freezer for just 10-15 minutes. Enjoy them!

You can skip the chocolate if that step is too much for you and dip them into Greek yogurt, roll them in coconut flakes or crushed nuts!

Roasted Cauliflower: Plus 6 Other Ways to Use Once Again Organic Tahini

I have recently shared some recipes that included Tahini as an ingredient. My family really enjoyed taste testing the recipes as I worked on them, and I have made some of the recipes a few times already for second trials. I was so inspired with my new found love for Tahini that I went a little overboard and stocked my pantry with a few jars. Which lead me to further explore how else I can use this delicious sesame seed butter. I turned to my trusted friend “the internet” for some answers.

I’ll go through some of the ideas I found, and which ones I have tried so far. Through my research I confirmed that tahini can serve as a replacement or alternative to most nut and other seed butters in recipes. Since tahini has a consistency similar to that of peanut butter, it is very versatile.  It does not have the sweetness of nut butters and can be more easily used in entrees and soups. So here are a few suggestions, and since we love new ideas and challenges, share yours if you have one to add to this list!

  • Simple but often overlooked: Just spread it on crackers or toast! My kids approved and enjoyed tahini paired with fruit jam as a sandwich. It can be used instead of mayo on a turkey and cheese sandwich, a veggie wrap, falafels or on a chicken Panini.
  • As a dip of course! When tahini is mixed with a little lemon juice and herbs it becomes a great dip for raw veggies, pita chips or any other chip. It is also perfect to drizzle over roasted veggies. (see recipe below)
  • As a salad dressing. In addition to the lemon juice and tahini add a few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, some salt, a little garlic or ginger and you’ll have a thick and creamy salad dressing that is far more nutritious than cream based dressings. It is perfect for Greek Salads, but will also go well with any salad combination. Here is one I have tried at home and thought it was a winning combo: ½ cup tahini, ½ cup olive oil, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp of ginger. Mix in blender and save left overs in refrigerator.
  • Thicken your soups. I tried this one too! Instead of heavy cream on my broccoli and cheese soup recipe, I added a few tablespoons of tahini and achieved the same thickness with less dairy. If you are trying to cook without any animal product, but have been missing creamy soups, this may just be your answer! Start by adding one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the creaminess you prefer.
  • Tahini is most commonly used in hummus recipes. Traditional hummus calls for garbanzo beans, but this is not the only way to make hummus. I was adventurous to try all different kinds of hummus lately. The tahini and olive oil should be used in the same proportion as usual, but you can vary the legume/vegetable variety in your recipe to make a brand new hummus. So far I experimented with edamame, pinto beans, eggplant, lima beans and white beans.
  • Use it in cookies and cakes recipes in place of nut butter. I have not tried this one yet! I found several recipes online suggesting you can substitute one to one on any recipe that calls for a nut butter.

As you can imagine I will have no trouble going through my stash of Once Again Organic Tahini, and will probably be stocking my pantry on a regular basis! Have fun discovering your family’s favorite way to enjoy tahini!

… get creative and have fun,

 Carolina

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini  cauliflower tahini

1 head of cauliflower
2 Tbsp Tahini
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Wash and cut your cauliflower, then toss it in 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, place in oven (400F) and roast for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Once out of the oven, while still warm toss it in the mixture of Tahini, lemon juice, salt, garlic and left over olive oil. Ready to eat!

Wake Up to Overnight Oats!

I have seen several bloggers post numerous recipes for “overnight oats” but I must admit I hesitated to the whole idea until about a week ago. I have been in search for ways to use some of my glass jars that I usually just dump into the recycle bin. In my leisurely search in Pinterest I came across the idea of using the peanut butter glass jar to make overnight oats. What really caught my interest was that instead of soaking the jar with water and detergent to clean it when all the butter was gone, I could just add the overnight oat ingredients to it as is and REALLY use up every last drop of nut butter!overnight oats recipe

I’m a huge advocate for “short cuts” that make your life easier when it comes to cooking. My mornings are way more rushed than I ever imagined they would be. I remember the days where I stretched out in bed and took some deep breaths contemplating what this next day would bring… nowadays I pretty much open my eyes to breakfast orders, homework help requests, reminders of lists I need to complete, and checklists of afterschool activities we must prepare for. Sure I could set an alarm and wake up 30 minutes earlier to give myself extra time, but that would mean waking up at about 4:30 am! Needless to say this whole “overnight oats” thing really was a perfect fit for my morning routine. Breakfast that was prepared the night before and actually gives me a reason to smile as I jump out of bed. I can’t believe I took so long to try it!

Some other side benefits were that my kids really enjoyed helping put them together the night before.  The idea of having “personalized” breakfasts for the next day convinced them to belly up to the counter and pick their own ingredients. I used some of my many Once Again Nut Butter jars that I’ve been saving since they have a nice airtight lid and are the perfect size. And if I get around to it this next weekend I might even paint the name of each one of our household members to the jars (Oh, if you know some good techniques for painting on glass let me know, that will be my next Pinterest search!).

The sky is the limit when it comes to “Overnight Oats” recipes. The main ingredients are a ¾ cup of old fashion oats of your choice, ½ cup milk of your choice (we used almond milk, unsweetened) and 1 tablespoon of Once Again Nut Butter, then you add your toppings. Close your jars and place it in the refrigerators overnight (or at least for 1 hour). That’s it! It will be ready to enjoy the next day, you can always add a little extra milk if it’s too thick the next day.

My husband’s version has an extra tablespoon of nut butter since he eats breakfast pretty early and doesn’t usually get to lunch until 1pm. My egg-and-toast-man wasn’t too sure about this oatmeal in a jar either, but after a couple of days where he actually endured his morning meetings and made it to lunch without a headache he was convinced too.

overnight oatsMy kids preferred theirs with lots of strawberries and blueberries, while I added some chia seeds and cinnamon to mine which reminds me of the more traditional oatmeal I used to eat as a child. You can eat it cold right out of the jar in the morning, which during the summer just makes more sense. Or you can also warm it up for a few minutes if you prefer it that way.

Have fun creating your own favorites!

… wake up happy every single day,

Carolina

Peanut Butter: Smooth versus Crunchy

Let the arguments commence!

It’s almost as controversial as chocolate versus vanilla, more scandalous than hot versus cold, and much more interesting than fat free versus whole fat debates. People have opinions, and they all must be heard!

american pbI’m not entirely qualified to write about this dilemma, as I was only introduced to peanut butter at the age of 16! Yes, my parents deprived me of such delectable food until my mid teenage years. In their defense, I was raised in South America, Brazil specifically, where peanuts are abundant, but no one ever thought of making butter out of them. They did however add them to the food processor with sugar, amongst other ingredients, to make “paçoca”. If you are a proud member of the “peanut gallery” (ha! Pun intended) add that food to your list of “must-try-before-I-die” because it is simply divine!

However, I will proceed by first looking at the question of nutrition, since after all, that is something I am qualified to talk about. Looking at the numbers, crunchy peanut butter has the slight edge since it has a tiny bit more fiber, folate and less saturated fat than smooth. But in the end, both kinds are winners because that they are a great source of plant based protein, have lots of vitamin E, and they are an awesome source of B vitamins, as well. So whichever side of this debate you are in, rest assured you have already made a great choice!

Now in terms of practicality, I am a working mother .  I have two kids under the age of 6.  I  have  to pack lunches, make snacks, and often prepare last minute party requests. I believe I am also a qualified observer. The smooth just works better. Now, no offense to you crunchy-siders, but how do you get it to spread it on a soft slice of whole grain bread without ripping it to shreds? Or better yet, how do you get it to blend it so effortlessly into a yogurt parfait, or smoothie for a quick breakfast favorite? So there you go this one goes to the creamy peanut butter fans.

In the end, it seems like a split debate in which we are all winners. I personally prefer smooth for everyday use, but I am known to appreciate the crunchy for recipes such as muffins, cakes and stir-fry dishes. So, I rule a tie; let’s take a break from this exhausting and delicious controversy and enjoy an American Classic peanut butter and __________ sandwich (fill in the blank with your favorite pairing, oh boy… I think I just started a new debate!)

… life is short, laugh out loud!

 

Carolina Lima Jantac, MS,RD,LD