Tag: recipes

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

Did you ever wonder how people  first had the idea of eating chia seeds? Did they decide that instead of adding water and setting their chia seed pet next to the window they would add the seeds to smoothie?  Okay, it probably didn’t happen that way. But it is interesting that we were all so familiar with chia seeds but not as an edible  ingredient. To think the rich source of nutrients was simply a way to grow hair on funny clay vases for most of the 1980s!

Perhaps after flaxseeds paved the way, we were all more open minded to eating seeds on a regular basis. Chia seeds have become  a phenomenal addition to our diets. They are a source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They have a high concentration of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), making their ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 very good. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds will provide 10 grams of fiber, 18% of your daily recommended calcium, 35% of phosphorus, 24% magnesium and 50% manganese. Not bad for a tiny seed, right?

If you’ve never had chia seeds before, adding a tablespoon to your smoothie is a great way to introduce you to this seed. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but the seeds add texture. These mini- seeds absorb liquid pretty fast and become hydrogel capsules. You can compare them somewhat to the texture of tapioca pudding. Since they don’t have much flavor of their own, any liquid you add chia seeds to  will soak up the liquid’s  flavor. . Chia seed puddings are deliciously versatile ways to add nutrients to your breakfast or snack time. Of course we mixed the seeds  with peanut butter and its best match  chocolate. Set  them overnight in the refrigerator so that they have enough time to expand to their maximum capacity, and the results are deliciously refreshing!

A few other ways to enjoy chia seeds are as toppings to your salads, added to smoothies, soups or added to bread dough when baking. You can even use it to make your own jelly. Since they have this gel forming capacity you can skip the pectin usually added to make jams, and just add chia seeds instead. Combine fruit puree, stevia or sugar and chia seeds, blend well and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.

This Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Seed pudding recipe was created as dessert for a “girl’s night” dinner with my friends. They couldn’t believe how beautiful the puddings  looked layered on the glass dishes. Some were a bit reluctant to try it when I mentioned the ingredients, but after one spoonful,  and they were sold! It’s sweet enough, but not overpowering, so you can add some chocolate chips on top  for a flourish . My children were ecstatic to see there were leftovers, since they are big fans of this pudding. Try your own version of chia seed pudding with your favorite Once Again Nut Butter, and let your family and friends rave about the tasty results.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

½ cup of chia seeds
2 cups of milk (of your preference)
2 tablespoons of Once Again Peanut Butter (Creamy or Crunchy)
1 tablespoon of cacao powder, unsweetened
Divide milk into two separate jars. Add half of the chia seeds to each jar. Then add peanut butter to one jar, and cacao powder to the other. Close jars and shake them for about three minutes. Place in refrigerator overnight. Next morning, layer them up or just enjoy them right out of the jar! Topping suggestions: walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes or granola!

Pumpkin Blender Muffins

pumpkin blender muffin 3Tiny bite sized muffins are a staple in my house! Sometimes I have to use my large muffin pan to make cupcakes just so they don’t feel neglected at the back on the cupboard. But what can I say? I now own three different mini-muffin pans and use them weekly. The smaller portion is easier to manage when thinking of snacks and breakfast. They cook faster, are easier to freeze and just more fun to pop in your mouth! Not to mention that you can eat two and that portion usually adds up to less than half of the larger-sized muffins.

Right along with how practical it is to make little muffins, I look for recipes that are fast and easy, so I can make large batches at once. Blender muffins have changed the way I look at baked goods. I learned how to put together recipes for blender muffins a while back when baking with over ripe bananas. It’s so nice to just have one thing to clean when you are done mixing up your batter. It’s so convenient that you can pour the batter from the blender cups straight into the muffin pan and take it all to the oven. As you can tell, I love fast prep and recipes that provide easy clean-up.
I should I say that I was never a fan of those prepackaged mini-muffins you can buy in the store due to the amount of high fructose syrup, artificial flavoring and lack of nutrition they offer. But my kids were exposed to them at school when other kids brought them in lunchboxes, and they came home begging me to buy some. I gave in one day at the grocery store and let them choose one; then we came home and did our own little blind folded taste test between homemade mini-muffins and the store bought ones. I’m happy to report the homemade version won every single time! You can just tell that when something is prepared with higher quality ingredients, it tastes better.
This recipe happens to be gluten- free, and grain-free. But I have also tried it with ½ cup of quick oats, and it turned out great.. Since it’s pumpkin season, I went with the urge and made these pumpkin blender muffins with some Once Again Peanut Butter and Once Again Wildflower Honey, and when adding up the eggs, you end up with a very high protein and nutritious anytime treat.

pumpkin blender muffins1Pumpkin Blender Mini-Muffins
Makes 24 mini-muffins

1 cup Once Again Peanut Butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 tablespoons Once Again Wildflower Honey
3 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix at once! Then pour into mini-muffin pan and bake at 350 degree for about 15-18 minutes. Check for readiness by inserting a toothpick into the muffins. When they toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are ready!.
Topping: Mix equal parts of pumpkin puree and peanut butter and use as a topping!

pumpkin blender muffin 2

One Bowl Quinoa Dinner: Ready in minutes!

One Bowl Quinoa Dinner: Ready in minutes!

The concept of” cook once and eat twice” is simply fantastic. The ability to prepare dishes and side items that can be tweaked and made into something new for the next meal is a time-saver.  Busy people everywhere  have struggled with the desire to eat home cooked meals, but their schedules have prohibited them from doing so consistently. The good news is that with some planning, it can be done! The recipe shared below is a twist on the leftovers of a previous meal made into a brand new dish put together in literally 10 minutes.

Here is how you can get started adapting your cooking skills to this idea of simplifying home-cooked  meals to serve you twice! When cooking grains, such as rice, quinoa, bulgur and amaranth for example, cook twice the amount you need for one meal. Cook it plain, with only the basic ingredients which are usually water, rice and or olive oil. Save half of the portion in your refrigerator for the next day or meal.

The same idea goes for your protein and veggies. Always cook extra and save —the addition of different spices, herbs and sauces can be done quickly at the time of preparing the meal to give the dish a fresh flavor. Start with a quinoa bowl recipe to practice these skills. For 2 cups of quinoa, you’ll need 4 cups of water, this will give you enough for two  meals and that feeds up to four people. Next, steam your favorite veggies or what’s in season during a particular time  of year. Remember to double up on your portions, so you can save half. For your first quinoa bowl, prepare per  the recipe given below, by adding the veggies with the quinoa, and mixing in a peanut sauce (recipe below).  This dish is a complete meal in one bowl!

Save the  portion of quinoa and veggies,  and mix it up for the next meal , but this time top it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, some sesame seeds and chopped chicken (optional) for a completely different dinner. If you are worried about getting enough protein, remember that 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein already, so you don’t necessarily have to add chicken or meat; to achieve a higher protein intake, add edamame or garbanzo beans instead (just ½ cup of garbanzo has 20 grams of protein), which both complement the quinoa bowls very well.

Have fun creating your own one bowl meals that you can cook once and eat twice. Try incorporating different themes such as Italian night by using tomato paste, fresh mozzarella and basmati rice; or Greek style by adding crumbled feta cheese to quinoa and sliced black olives tossed in Greek salad dressing. Share your inventions with us in the comments below.

~Carolina


20150730_215422446_iOSQuinoa Bowl with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4 people

1 cup quinoa
½ red pepper
1 ½ cup matchstick carrots
½ cup chopped spinach
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt to taste

Sauce
3 tbsps. Once Again Peanut Butter
2 tbsps. lime juice
1 tbsps. apple cider vinegar
1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tbsps. water
Salt to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions and then set aside. In a medium-sized pan, add olive oil, carrots, spinach and chopped red pepper and sauté it for 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender. To prepare sauce, add all ingredients to small sized cup food processor and mix.. Add more or less water to achieve a thin sauce like consistency. There are two serving options: 1. Mix quinoa with vegetables, add sauce and mix well. 2. Serve vegetable mix on top of quinoa and sauce on the side.One Bowl Quinoa With Peanut Sauce

Pre and Post- Workout Snacks: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Pre and Post- Workout Snacks: Peanut Butter Energy Bites

Sometimes working up the energy and willpower to go on a 5-mile run sounds much like the soundtrack to one of Rocky Balboa’s movies. I tell myself I can do it, and before you know it, I’ve at least gotten my shoes laced up and the iPod ready to go. The feeling you get when you finish that run or similar workout is again much like victory after a boxing match. Joking aside, one of the most important things in the planning of my workout is the pre and post-snacks. I don’t often exercise long enough (usually 1-2 hours max) to need a mid-exercise fuel as well, but the pre and post-snacks are a must. After a few years of studying nutrition and getting some valuable experience, and after gleaning knowledge from the nutrition experts in the University of Florida’s athletic program, I’ve learned that what you eat after a workout is just as significant as what you eat before.

The before snack or meal is best taken within 1-2 hours of the workout, as it provides the energy you’ll need during exercise. The post-workout snack will repair muscle tissue and replenish glycogen stores. But the best piece of information I have to share is that those two snacks are very similar in terms of what they should contain. They both need to have some quality carbs, preferably a slow-release whole grain to fuel your entire workout, and lean protein: your muscles need amino acids for repair, and lean protein has just that.

Eating within 1 to 2 hours before starting the activity will allow your body to stock up on and utilize enough energy without compromising performance. Feeling bloated and full just before workouts is not part of the program. Most people grasp the concept of eating before exercise: it allows for a longer period of activity with better results. On the other hand, the post-workout snack is something most people have to get used to and include in their routine. But those 30 minutes post-workouts are crucial for replenishing your body; after all, there is another workout to look forward to, usually the next day!

20150131_213725643_iOSAfter a run or workout, it goes without saying that you should drink water, but eating something right away is not on most people’s mind, including mine. The idea of eating a sandwich or drinking a 12 ounce protein shake just did not work for me. (Those are great options by the way, if they appeal to you!) But I found it hard to adapt to them. Hence my Energy Bites materialized. They fit the bill for a pre-workout snack, as well as the post-snack. And they are perfect small- portion- sized bites that I can eat after a long run without upsetting my stomach.

They have good quality carbohydrates derived from the oats; due to their fiber content, they provide that slow- release energy that will provide a boost for the entire duration of your exercise. Additionally, the protein from the peanut butter and chia seeds is perfect for muscle repair. Post-workout calls for some quick energy, which the honey and coconut provide. They are pretty easy to make, as you can see on the short video below, and you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Timing is more important than quantity when talking about pre and post-workout snacks. Focus on eating a snack- sized portion of quality carbohydrate and lean protein, and don’t worry so much about how many grams you’re consuming, unless you are training for a marathon or long distance challenge that will require more specific guidelines. And even in those situations, these Energy Bites are a great choice!

20150131_215429477_iOSPeanut Butter Energy Bites
makes 12 servings
½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
2 ½ tbsps. honey
½ cup quick oats
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup chopped nuts
¼ cup raisins
Add Once Again peanut butter and honey to bowl, and mix well. Add oats and chia seeds, and mix again. Lastly, add the coconut, nuts, and raisins. Cool mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, and then roll into small balls. Store in air-tight container in refrigerator.

Watch the video here:

Gluten Free Ginger Peanut Butter Cookies

Sometime between cleaning up your kitchen from the Thanksgiving Feast, and getting in the car to go purchase your holiday tree all the baking ingredients come out of your pantry and the recipe books are opened! It is indeed the “most wonderful time of the year” when cookies become the topic of conversation and the centerpiece of every gathering.

But when did it become so? Like most holiday traditions, baking cookies started a long time ago, more specifically in the times of the solstice rituals conducted way before the end of the year festivities became the holiday it is today. To find out all the details I asked a few family members (the baking experts in my family) and after only puzzled looks I went to our trusted internet search engines. I found most of these interesting facts on history.com. Ends up that all across the world people gathered to celebrate the changing of the seasons. And since the winter solstice also brought snow, cold and little farming the celebration had to include a feast before the famine of the winter. Animals were killed and kept safety to eat during the winter, the fermented beverages like beer and wine are finally ready to drink after brewing since spring, and their fruits were turned into jams to keep through the long months ahead.

The end of the year celebrations started to take over the solstice rituals during the middle ages, but they kept most of the feast traditions. And every good party has deserts! Ingredients like sugar, lard and butter, spices were all expensive delicacies at that time, so only during celebrations they would be used. And cookies are just the perfect sized treat that can be shared with friends at a party and they happen to combine those special ingredients! Our modern day cookies still rely on those same traditions! Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger are the same spices we use when baking traditional holiday cookies. The gingerbread for example uses molasses and ginger, something already in use by medieval cooks!

Enough about history, now that we’ve justified our need to bake and enjoy cookies this time of year let’s talk recipes! Here are 2 version of the traditional Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie. One is gluten free using only oats, and the other uses wheat flour. Go ahead and make both versions! They are similar in ingredients but they bake quite differently and are both equally delicious. The gluten free is more of a “flaky” crisp cookie while the wheat flour version is chewier and bakes a little faster. And yes! I incorporated some of our holiday spices in them, but that is optional. The secret to the perfect cookie you ask? My trusted sources say: best quality ingredients and a good oven.

Gluten Free Ginger Peanut Butter Cookies20141208_151405000_iOS

¾ cups of (gluten free) rolled oats
1 cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Ginger spice (optional)
1 whole egg
6-8 Tbsp light brown sugar
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix up Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter with egg and sugar. Once well mixed add the baking soda, ginger spice and mix in the oats. Lastly add the chocolate chips. Make small rounds using your hands, place in baking sheet and flatten them. Bake in 350F oven for about 15-20 minutes until you notice a light golden edge.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies20141208_151950000_iOS

1 cup flour (may use ½ whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt 1 stick of unsalted butter (may use salted, then omit the ¼ tsp salt) ½ cup Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter
½ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats and set aside. Mix Once Again Creamy Peanut Butter with sugar, vanilla and egg. Once well mixed add the dry ingredients. Lastly add the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop place them in baking sheet and flatten with your hands so they bake more evenly. Take it to the oven at 350F for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden edges.

… happy baking season,

 Carolina

Quick Pumpkin Bread made with Once Again Peanut Butter

Right along with my peanut butter obsession goes my new found love for pumpkin puree. How did I not discover the versatility of this vegetable before? (check out our previous post where I exposed the truth: pumpkin is indeed a vegetable). Pumpkin adds so much moisture and flavor to recipes, and for baking it lessens the need for added oil and sugar. It is perfect for cupcakes, muffins and as I just discovered for quick bread recipes too!

This recipe is a twist on my traditional banana bread recipe. You can double up the measurements for 2 loafs, or just make it as is for a single loaf. I usually like to make “smaller” quantities recipe first to test it out. After all, when you are using top quality ingredients you don’t want to waste anything in case the recipe doesn’t turn out the way you hoped. Most recipes adapt well to this trick and will save you money and time as you try them out.

This Pumpkin Bread recipe was tested in both the half and full quantities, so you know it will work! Also as an added bonus it freezes well! I have a couple in my freezer right now, you never know when you’ll need a homemade gift or have a last minute visit from a friend! My mother raised me to always greet your guests at the door and serve coffee or tea as well as a baked good no matter what time of the day it is. And I happen to love carrying on that tradition!  Although this is technically a “quick bread” recipe it tastes more like a cake to me, but I’ll let you try it and let me know what you think.

Quick Pumpkin Bread20141102_184644786_iOS

½ cup Once Again Crunchy Peanut Butter
½ cup raw sugar
1 egg
1 banana
½ tsp pumpkin Spice
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Mix Once Again Peanut Butter with sugar, then add egg, pumpkin puree, mashed banana and mix together well. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice) and mix until smooth batter. It will be a thicker batter, place in loaf pan sprayed with butter or coconut oil. Place in pre-heated oven at 375F for 45-50 minutes or until done. Note: I used half of the flour as wheat and half as regular. You can also use creamy Once Again Peanut butter instead of crunchy.

For freezing: wrap in parchment paper and foil before freezing to preserve moisture. This recipe will make one loaf, you may double it for 2. The banana was added for a sweeter bread, but you may leave it out and just increase the pumpkin puree by ¼ cup.

…have a wonderful weekend!

Carolina

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