Happenings…

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated. I’ve been keeping super-busy. Here are a few of the fun things I’ve made this last weekend in the kitchen:

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The pictures above are my pancakes and also my cranberry-currant bread. I made the pancakes this afternoon because I needed to design a poster for a free pancake breakfast that our church group is going to have in a couple weeks. Rather than downloading an expensive stock photo, I decided to take the pictures myself. So that was a fun project this afternoon. 🙂

And below are some of my healthy cakes that I made this weekend:

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The cake pans are really neat. I bought the heart-shaped one in Germany a couple of years ago. It has a little indentation and you can pile cream or fruit in the middle. (Like I did above.) And the other cake pan is also from Germany. My mom got me that one. 

Here’s one of my recipes, for the circular shaped blueberry cake above.

Blueberry Cake

  • 1 1/2 cup white flour
  • 3/4 cup Florida crystals
  • 2 t. Rumford baking powder (Featherweight is good too – just non-aluminum)
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 cup blueberries – I use Trader Joe’s wild frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • a few drops almond flavoring

Preheat the oven to 400° F and spray cake pan. (Makes one 10″ cake layer.) Mix together the flour, Florida Crystals, baking powder, and salt. Mix together the oil, water, vanilla, and almond flavor together. Add the blueberries to the dry ingredients and mix well. Mix in the wet ingredients and stir batter well. Pour into the cake pan. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Frosting:

  • 1 package Mori Nu silken tofu
  • 1 package Mori Nu Mates Vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 package Tofutti cream cheese

Blend all together well. This makes a great frosting for the cake, or it is also really good in a graham cracker pie crust shell with pie fruit on top (like a cheesecake)!

Published in: on April 19, 2009 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Low-Sugar Sweet Rolls – bread maker version

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I did an experiment on Friday – low-sugar sweet rolls, predominately sweetened with dried fruit. And it turned out really well! I combined a couple of different recipes, so I guess it’s “mine” now.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 cup sucanat
  • 1 1/2 tsp egg replacer
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (whole wheat, white)
  • 1/4 cup bran
  • 2 tsp Saf-yeast
  • 1/2 cup dates, dried
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, dried
  • water
  • Earth balance
  • variety dried fruit (the more variety, the merrier! See ideas below.)

Directions:

Place first nine ingredients in order in the bread maker and put it on the dough cycle. Check the dough for the first few minutes and add a little bit of extra flour or water as needed to make a good-consistency dough.

In the meantime, rinse dates so flour is removed from them and then boil them with pineapple in a little bit of water. When they are tender, drain them, and blend them so they make a moist paste.

Create dried fruit and nut mixture. Can use: raisins (golden or regular), dried cherries, dried cranberries, currants, coconut, walnuts, or pecans. Or anything else that sounds yummy to you!

When dough cycle is finished, roll into a large rectangle. Spread the mixture of dates and pineapple onto the dough rectangle and cut small pieces of Earth balance margarine and distribute evenly across the dough. Sprinkle dried fruit and nut mixture evenly over dough.

Roll dough up from the longest side. Cut into one inch long pieces. Lay pieces flat on a baking tray, leaving space in between each roll for rising. Let rise in a dark, warm place for 1 hour.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350° for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.

Glaze recipe:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Dari-Free powder (a special kind of milk powder made out of potatoes. REALLY good stuff.)
  • vanilla and honey to taste
  • 3/4 cup oil

Blend all ingredients except oil. Drizzle oil into blender. Immediately drizzle the glaze over warm sweet rolls. Mmmmmm!

This post is linked at Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm  Comments (5)  
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My favorite breakfast

OK, so this is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts, both to eat and to make. I just made some this morning, in fact. 🙂

Baked Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375°. Boil together: 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 t. salt

Mix together separately:

  • 3 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 c. soymilk powder (I suppose you could use regular milk powder)
  • 1/2 c. coconut
  • 3/4 c. chopped dates
  • 1/4 c. oil

Mix dry ingredients together with boiling water. Pour into a casserole dish. I like to sprinkle it with a few pecans, and bake at 375° for 45 minutes – 1 hr. (Depends on how browned you like it.) Once again, a low (predominately natural) sugar breakfast! (I use sweetened coconut, and the dates sweeten the oatmeal beautifully.)

This was one of my favorites as a kid. Once, my parents had a brunch birthday party for me and I requested this dish, along with some other food (I don’t remember what). I don’t think my fruit-loop-lovin’ friends loved it as much as I did, but oh well. 😉 Honestly, this is a really wonderful dish. If your family enjoys eating naturally, this just might be awesome for them! If they don’t, well, they can adjust.

Note: I also come from the same family where my younger brother announced in his church class, when asked what his favorite food was, that he loved cauliflower! The other parents looked at him in shock/ horror/ veiled distain, and then at my mom (as if to say, “what?! your kid likes cauliflower… how do you get him to eat it… do you bribe him… bla bla bla…“), who tried not to laugh, and nodded her head. Coming soon… the famous cauliflower recipe!

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 9:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Breakfast savings

I never knew how expensive cereal was until I started my own home. My husband loves cereal, and some of his particular favorites include Weetabix (which averages $4-something-a-box for the organic biscuits), Grape Nuts, and Raisin Bran. Yeah. They’re not what I call cheap. (And he goes through it quickly!)

On the other hand, I love granola and I can make it at home and it lasts me awhile.

But I had to think of something QUICK and EASY that I could just throw on the table in the morning before running out the door to work. Oh, and it also had to be economical/ frugal.

So I figured out that hot cereal is a great way to go. Here’s what I do for my “hot cereal special”:

Combine 1/4 cup each of the following options:

  • whole wheat berries
  • oat groats
  • brown rice
  • millet
  • amaranth (actually this stuff is strong flavored and I only like a tablespoon or two. See how you like it. My brother loves it!)
  • Any other whole grains that you and your family like!

I usually put about 1 1/2 cup worth of the above options in my slow cooker (my slow cooker isn’t very large). Add about 6 cups of water (depends on how fast your slow cooker cooks and if your grains will dry out) and set it on “low” and let it cook overnight.

The next morning, about 1 hour before serving, I add a handful or two of raisins and the same for sweetened coconut. (You can add other dried fruits like small dried pineapple but watch the cost because it can add up!) Sprinkle a little salt and mix everything up.

Then, in your blender, add 1 -2 cups water, 1/2 to 1 cup date pieces, dried milk powder, and a little honey. (I use nondairy milk powder. Use whatever works for you.) Blend it until it is smooth. Taste it. It should be pretty sweet. This is your sweetener for the hot cereal.

Stir most of the blended date sauce into the hot cereal, and let the slow cooker cook for another hour or so. Serve! It should be pleasantly sweet.

See, now you saved some money, you avoided sugar which lowers immune systems, and you had a quick and easy breakfast!

For more ways to save, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm  Comments (5)  
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Help for the upcoming flu season – part 2

Your friends, the white blood cells

White blood cells… they’re our friends. They kill germs. They clear our bloodstream from clutter. They provide that wonderful thing called immunity (that we say fights off disease). They make helpful chemicals. 

There are a couple types of white blood cells (also known as phagocytes). Neutrophils are the most numerous, and are the mobile “soldiers” in our bloodstream. They attack bacteria, viruses, and fungi (and they’re our first line of defense). They kill up to 20 bacteria and these poor guys die in the fight. Then we have the macrophages – the “big eaters”. They line important tissues in our lungs, liver, spleen and lymph nodes. These guys live for months. 

White blood cells work by coming to the area of infection (the germ and inflamed tissue release substances that attract them to the region), they stick to the surface of the germ, surround the germ, engulf it, and eat it. Then they destroy the germ. That’s the story in lay-woman’s terms. I’m not a medical professional. I’m a writer. But that’s the way it works, in plain English. 

Where does a fever come from?

A fever is not necessarily a bad thing. The infected tissue signals the brain that there’s a fight going on, and the brain raises the temperature to stimulate white blood cells. Of course, fevers are not pleasant. They’re not supposed to be! A fever is your cue that your body is trying to get help from its white blood cells. (Note: Some fevers are dangerous, especially very high fevers for childen. We’ll talk about dealing with fever in another post.)

Helping or hurting your white blood cells

  • Moderate exercise helps your white blood cells get movin’. Two-thirds of your mobile white blood cells cling to the blood vessels. Exercise gets them to actively circulate. 
  • High-intensity exercise, on the other hand, reduces the gobbling-up action (a big long word called phagocytosis) and reduces their killing ability. 
  • Alcohol consumption makes white blood cells lazy. So if you want to get them to work for you, avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Smoking at first stimulates the neutrophils, but then it reduces their ability to capture and kill germs. 
  • Sugar (sucrose – refined sugar) suppresses the immune system. 
  • Echinacea is an herb that is known to promote white blood cell’s action against germs.
  • Moderate amounts of vitamin C and E supplements improves the white blood cells’ killing action. 
Sugar, your immune system’s enemy
I don’t think people realize how much their immune systems are compromised by eating sugar, especially during flu season. Here’s a chart comparing the teaspoons of sugar and the number of bacteria that’s killed by white blood cells. 
Teaspoons of Sugar Number of bacteria killed by white blood cell
0 14.0
6 10.0
12 5.5
18 2.0
24 1.0

That said, let’s look at the sugar content of some of favorite American treats. Here’s a neat trick that I learned in nutrition class: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon sugar. So let’s read some labels! 

  • A Starbuck’s caramel frappuccino, grande sized, with no whipped cream, contains 45 grams of sugar. That is 11 1/4 teaspoons sugar! Our white blood cells would be chugging along at a little over 5.5 bacteria…
  • Nabisco’s Oreo cookies – one serving, 29 grams – contains 13 grams of sugar. That’s a little under 4 teaspoons of sugar. 
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch – 1 cup – contains 20 grams of sugar. That’s 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving!
  • Kellogg’s Fruit Loops – 1 cup – 14.5 grams of sugar. That’s about 3 1/2 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Let’s think about this… do we want to serve our families sugar-full foods which will hurt their immune systems? 
I, for one, try to cut down on serving foods with lots of sugar when bugs are going around. (This does not mean that we do not get sick. But I hope it helps to aid in a faster recovery, and fewer bouts with the flu!) I try to serve cereals with low sugar content, or make my own cereal at home. Lately, I’ve been serving hot cereal made out of whole grains cooked in a crockpot, and flavored mainly with dates blended with milk, stirred into the grains at the end of their cooking. I also add all-natural dried fruit.
Let’s be careful about how much sugar we serve our families!
Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 10:15 pm  Comments (4)  
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