Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oven Baked Flax Crackers

I don't often dabble in baking, but this weekend was all about crackers. I catered an art opening and closing at Waitsfield's new pop-up studio, Quench. Friday night was a Vermont Cheese spread, with Tamari Maple Nuts, Plump Olives, Fresh Fruit, Turkish Figs, Herbed Flax Crackers and Buckwheat Straws. Saturday offered a Spreads Platter, complete with Beet Hummus, Thai Curried Carrot Puree, Edamole and a Cuban Black Bean Dip, with Crostinis, Whole Wheat Pita Wedges, Sliced English Cucumber and Tortilla Strips. Whew! It was a long few days of cookin' and shmoozin', but so much fun!

But back to the crackers. This recipe started as a pizza crust, flecked with parmesan, and morphed into an herbed cracker, both gluten and dairy free. I like it both ways. The ingredient list looks too good to be true (for the taste buds at least), but believe me, something magical happens in that oven.
Ground flax is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as insoluble and soluble fiber. I replaced the parmesan in the original recipe with nutritional yeast, and added a good dose of fresh herbs. You can certainly play with the seasonings based on what you have on hand. Next time, I think I will go curry spices and see if I can sneak some veggie pulp from the juicer in as well. I'll let you know how that goes.

*I tested this with an additional cup of veggie pulp- success! Yields a slightly chewier cracker with loads more insoluble fiber. Although, by the second day, they were quite a bit softer and bread-like. Keep in mind that it will take on the flavors of the vegetables you juiced, so play off that (mine had been a beet carrot ginger juice, which was great amped up with some cumin and tumeric and a splash of tamari). 

Herbed Flax Crackers
Makes about 30

1 cup ground flax seed (I like golden flax)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbs. fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until you have a stiff batter. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and using a wet spatula, spread dough as thin as possible. Using a wet knife blade, score as desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Remove from oven, cool slightly and break apart. Flip individual crackers and return to oven for 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Remove, cool and store in an airtight container.

Relax. Eat Well.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Superfood Chocolate Balls

For the most part, I try to avoid getting too hippy-dippy on this blog. I really do. New ingredients, flavors and techniques: sure- but spirulina?? I don't want to push anyone too far.

However, these superfood "balls" (bars? truffles? help me find a less offensive title...) are truly delicious! I am hooked. And when I make a recipe more than 4 times in one month, I must share it. Especially when it includes a round-up of these superhero ingredients.

Where do I even start? Pure cocoa is extremely rich in antioxidants, and offers a richness without the sugar typically associated with chocolate. Raw honey sweetens the deal, with probiotic activity that strengthens the immune system, while aiding digestion. Walnuts, flax seed and hemp all contribute a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, with fiber to boot. Coconut oil, a medium chain fatty acid, helps lower cholesterol and boost heart health. Gojis add a beautiful color burst, with high doses of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and B vitamins. 

What else? Oh yes, spirulina. A green algae superfood extremely high in chlorophyll, it helps cleanse the body with an alkalizing effect.  As a dense source (70%) of complete protein, it is easily assimilated into the body, while offering loads of calcium, iron, B-12 and essential fatty-acids. Due to it's strong (earthy) flavor, I have never been able to incorporate this into my diet with pleasure.... until now. If you are just starting off and getting used to the flavor, feel free to begin with one tablespoon and work your way up.
Superfood Chocolate Balls
Makes 8 large or 12 smaller balls

1/4 cup raw walnuts

½ cup ground flax or hemp seed (I like 1/2 & 1/2)
1/2 cup cacoa powder

2 tablespoons of spirulina

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons raw honey

a pinch of sea salt

l½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs. goji berries (optional)

If planning ahead, soak the walnuts overnight. Rinse and drain. 
Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend well, until black and extremely sticky. Roll into balls and store in the fridge. 

Relax. Eat Well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Honey Roasted Beets

Interestingly enough, beets seem to be one of those ingredients people either love or hate. I have never understood it, maybe because I didn't really discover beets until I was past the point of hating any vegetable. No traumatic childhood experiences, nightmare encounters or gag reflexes involved. Still, I am shocked to meet a number of "good-food enthusiasts" that can't stand the root. 

As in most cases of vegetable hatred, I have to attribute it to poor preparation. I do enjoy a nice grated raw beet in my salad, but for all other purposes: Beets Must Be Roasted. It brings out their natural sweetness, and adds a layer of crispy darkness around the edges. Simply irresistible.
This recipe adds a dash of honey to highlight the sweet, along with balsamic vinegar to balance the acidity. Beet's vibrant color visibly displays their rich antioxidant content, in particular, carotenoids, crucial in their ability to inhibit inflammation, support detoxification and prevent abnormal cancer growth. 

Honey Roasted Beets
Serves 4-6

2 lbs beets, sliced into half moons
2 tbs. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbs. raw honey
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss sliced beets, olive oil and salt together in a large bowl. Spread out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to a single layer. Roast in oven (with convection fan on if available) for 15-30 minutes, tossing after 10, until soft and slightly crisp on edges.

Remove from heat, toss with honey and balsamic and season to taste.

Relax. Eat Well.