Saturday, July 24, 2010

Homemade Energy Bars

Preparing for our second cross-country voyage, I whipped up a batch of my Quinoa Breakfast Bars, which also double as homemade energy bars. It is always nice to have a wholesome, homemade snack on hand when you are on the road for weeks on end and at the mercy of convenience stores, dehydrated mixes, and packaged provisions. Replacing Clif, Luna and the crew, they survive well in the car without refrigeration for a week or so, and pack an impressive load of fiber, high-quality protein, healthy fats and vitamins into a small package. Made from quinoa flakes, a non-glutenous grain containing all of the essential amino acids, I feel good about eating these for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

These portable bars can be formed into a variety of shapes and sizes to meet your personal needs. I like to make some into small balls or cubes for snacks and some into larger rectangular bars to pack for a quick lunch on the trail. I am providing you with the base of the bars, and letting you own the final flavor, but not without a few suggestions of course. This time I made a full batch of the base and then split it in half, adding pistachios and dried cranberries to one and peanut butter and raisins to the other. In the past, I have done fresh grated ginger with dried cherries, as well as cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, both wonderful. The amounts are completely to taste... since the whole thing is raw, you can start small, taste, and add more until you reach your optimal flavor.

Here are a few more ideas to inspire future batches:

Lemon Zest and Poppy Seeds

White Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nuts

Chai Spice (Cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla and a touch of nutmeg)

Dried Blueberry and Cashew

Quinoa Breakfast Balls

To simplify the ingredient list you can decide to choose just one nut, and either dates or prunes, simply keeping the total amount the same.


6 tbs. raw cane sugar

1 tsp. agave or honey

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

¼ cup chopped raw almonds

4 pitted dates

8 prunes

¼ tsp. salt

2 tbs. freshly ground flax seed

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 cups quinoa flakes

2-4 tbs. water

Additional flavorings of choice (ex. ½ cup pistachios and ½ cup dried cranberries, ¼ cup chocolate chips and 1 tbs. cocoa powder, 1/2 cup dried cherries and 2 tsp. ginger, etc.) See notes above.


In a food processor, add sugar through ground flax seeds and pulse until well chopped. Add melted coconut oil and blend until thoroughly mixed and gathering into a ball. Place mixture in a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Using clean hands, shape dough into balls, bars or cubes.

Relax. Eat Well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

California Sunshine Burger

An indispensable burger recipe is an essential element for any summer time cookout. After several frustrating experiences trying to develop a patty that upholds the core characteristics of structural integrity, firm consistency, wholesome ingredients and, of course, delicious flavor, I finally found my man. I introduce to you: The California Sunshine Burger. Smoky and earthy with a subtle sensitive side, this patty will not leave you disappointed.

It is a breeze to throw together, while vegan and gluten-free to boot! The black-eyed peas offer a certain creaminess as well as an impressive fiber boost, and the flax seeds bind it all together, while contributing a heart-healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. I have not explored other beans, but I suspect other small beans would fit in quite nicely (think adzuki, anasazi or pinto). I prefer to sprout my seeds when I have the time, as it renders them easier to digest and chock full of active enzymes. Planning out your weekly menus allows for this type of foresight, as the process itself is quite simple.

Top it off with a buttery avocado and smear of chipotle ketchup and you are made in the shade. Sit down, relax and enjoy.

Black Eyed Pea and Chipotle Burgers

Serves 8

You can freeze these burgers for an easy grab-and-go lunch, simply wrap in wax paper and freeze individually.


1 cup raw sunflower seeds, (sprouted, optional)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 cups cooked black eyed peas

1 chipotle pepper, rehydrated in water

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon vegan worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon tamari

2 Tablespoons flaxseed, ground mixed with 2 Tablespoons water

¼ cup masa harina (cornmeal)

1 avocado, sliced

1 large tomato, sliced

8 whole-grain burger buns

¼ cup chipotle ketchup (ketchup mixed with a few teaspoons of the chipotle soaking water)


If sprouting sunflower seeds, soak in filtered water for 6 hours the day before. That night, rinse and drain seeds, and leave them inverted at a 45 degree angle in a jar covered with a sprouting screen or cheesecloth. Rinse and drain again the next morning, and leave inverted until ready to use. If not sprouting, skip this step altogether.

Blend sunflower seeds in a food processor until ground. Remove half of them and set aside. Add garlic and scallions and pulse until ground. Add rinsed peas, chipotle (reserve soaking water), oregano, cumin, tomato paste, worcestershire, and tamari and blend well, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.

Remove mixture to a bowl. Stir in flaxseed mixture, masa harina and reserved sunflower seeds. Chill mixture for 30 minutes (or longer).

Take out mixture and form into small burgers (wetting your hands makes this easier). Heat a cast-iron griddle or pan over medium heat and cook burgers until brown on each side, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with avocado slices, fresh greens, sliced tomato and chipotle ketchup on whole grain buns.

Relax. Eat Well.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Website Makeover

Check out my new and improved website, thanks to my WebMaster, Mr. Gregg Mason, with yummy new pictures courtesy of my favorite new toy (Canon XSi DSLR). Having way too much fun.....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Green-up your kitchen

In a time when we are all trying to "green-up" our footprint, I can't think of a more appropriate place to look than the kitchen. The room that is dedicated to consumption can actually generate a sickening amount of waste, if we let it. But with a little effort, your kitchen can be impressively efficient. And the truth is, you can actually save time and money in the process.... do I have you yet??
Here are a few ideas on how to reduce your impact while shopping, storing, cooking and CONSUMING!!! Waste not, it has never tasted so good.

Buy and Store Your Food in Glass Jars
Create a collection of glass jars, and they will become the cornerstone of your kitchen. Not only is glass safe for hot liquids (unlike plastic), it is easy to clean and will last forever. Old peanut butter jars, mason jars, jelly containers, salsa jars, keep them all. Bring them to your local grocery store, ask them to weigh each one and write the weight on the bottom in permanent marker. When shopping in the bulk section for grains, beans, nuts, seeds etc. (which really helps keep the wallet fat), simply fill your jars and write the codes next to the item on your grocery list. No plastic bags, no extra twisties, no transferring to storage when you get home. Simply bring them home, throw them in your pantry and DONE. These same jars will come in extremely handy for storing leftovers in the fridge as well. Look for used mason jars at church sales (canners love to sell their old jars), yard sales or in bulk at hardware stores.

Make Vegetable Stock
Use up unwanted vegetable scraps to make a fresh vegetable stock each week. Simply keep a medium container in your fridge at all times and collect applicable scraps, such as onion and celery ends, carrot butts, potato peels and mushroom, cilantro/parsley and broccoli stalks. Throw the lot into a large pot at the end of the week along with a strip of kombu, a few bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorn and a few smashed garlic cloves. Add enough water to cover the vegetables (about 2 quarts) and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a very low simmer and cover, letting it cook for one hour. Turn off the heat, cool and strain your stock into a large glass jar, to use in the upcoming week to cook grains, add to sauces or make soups. Not only will your trash be slimmer, but your dishes will benefit from the depth a fresh stock adds, as well as the boost in vitamins and minerals salvaged from those unwanted scraps!

Wash and Reuse your Plastic Bags for Produce

There are plenty of mesh and fabric bags out there on the market for purchasing produce, but let's face it, none of us have enough money for all that (especially due to the copious amounts of produce that goes into our shopping cart each week, RIGHT?). The good news: those plastic bags you find in the produce aisle are extremely resilient and will last for months if washed and reused. Rigging up a bag dryer isn't too hard with a few rods and a central pole (those exist out there for sale in consumerland as well... but come on...). Simply rinse and dry each bag you use, and stick it in your grocery bags to use next week. Super easy, and super green.

Buy Fresh
Centering your shopping around the produce section and farmer's markets will reduce packaging, encourage local and seasonal ingredients, and promote health. You will end up saving a significant amount of money as well by purchasing food grown by your neighbors, rather than processed, packaged, shipped and resold across the country. It seems like an obvious one, but I think we can all pay a little more attention to filling the cart with products that are best when fresh.
Here is a wonderful pesto recipe that will help you use up any fresh herbs and greens starting to look a little wilty in the fridge. It is high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids (hemp seeds, walnuts and flax oil), detoxifying bitter greens (dandelion and arugula) and fresh summer flavors!!! Use it as an outline and swap ingredients depending on what is in season (or needs to go!)

Dandelion Pesto
Makes 2 cups
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup walnuts
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 bunch basil, washed and chopped
1 cup arugula (or spinach, mixed greens etc.)
1/4 cup hemp seeds
Juice from 1/2 a lemon, about 2 Tablespoons
1 teaspoon miso
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil (optional)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
Process the garlic and walnuts in a food processor until well ground. Add all of the greens, hempseeds, lemon juice, miso, and yeast and process to combine, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. While the motor is running, add oils until the pesto is holding together. Season to taste with salt as needed.
Relax. Eat Well.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sesame Kelp Bars

There is something about the smell of baking maple syrup that immediately brings me back to childhood. It must stem from early memories of sugar on snow, the anticipation of the syrup boiling on the stovetop before we could drizzle it on top of our mounding bowls of fresh winter bliss. Anyway, this recipe releases that essence as it bakes, and that is reason enough to bake it week after week. I found myself running out to the recycling bin every time I had one new addition just so I could re-enter the house to a fresh whiff of hot maple syrup.

Two minerals I endlessly aim to boost in my diet are calcium and iron. It just so happens that sesame seeds are potent in both minerals, as well as rich in copper, magnesium, fiber, and monounsaturated fats. In fact, two tablespoons (the amount in one of these bars) provides almost 20% of your RDA of both iron and calcium. They are ridiculously inexpensive as well, especially compared to other seeds and nuts, weighing in at just over one dollar per cup when purchased in bulk. Kombu, which is a form of kelp, is packed with iodine, making it extremely beneficial to our thyroid. Like all sea vegetables, it is high in trace minerals such as vitamin K, folate and magnesium. A truly detoxifying food, this is an easy way to sneak sea vegetables into your diet without even noticing their presence.

Inspired by a packaged sesame kelp bar made by Maine Coast Sea Vegetables (which ring in at $2.50 per bar), these are an inexpensive portable snack that will fill you with quality nutrients. Honestly, they are already a staple in my kitchen, and I made my first batch today! (notice the crumbs on the side in the picture....)

Sesame Kelp Bars

Serves 8


1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 7-inch strips of kombu

¼ cup maple syrup

sea salt to taste (about 1/8 tsp.)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Break kombu into pieces and grind it in a coffee grinder until it resembles a powder. Place in a large bowl. Add sesame seeds to grinder, a bit at a time, and pulse so about ½ the seeds are ground and half are whole, working in batches. Place in bowl with kombu. Add maple syrup and salt and stir to combine. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread mixture to about ¼ inch thick. Bake for 18 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Let cool and cut into bars.

Relax. Eat Well.