The *new* breakfast rule (+pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin granola)

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Not one but THREE pumpkins in this granola…if you count the pumpkin spice (which technically isn’t a pumpkin product, but it’s inherent to the spirit of any sweet pumpkin dish!).  Today I did a food demo/mini seminar at a business out in the Mosaic District, and baked up a huge batch of the granola as snacks for employees while we talked about breakfast.

I’m a big fan of breakfast – not just because of the foods, but because of what it can do for your day energetically when done right.  I’ve followed most of the same rules of thumb for years now, but recently added one: the 12 hour fast.  Pay attention to when you finish eating for the evening, and then how early you typically have breakfast the next day – is the time lapsed 8 hours? 10?  There’s science to back the idea that this could help with weight regulation, breast cancer rates, and even diabetes, and it’s actually a pretty easy tweak!

So track your habits for a week or so and see how those meals fall. Time for an adjustment?

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Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin granola

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1⁄2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 c old fashioned oats
  • 1⁄4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil + 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c raisins and/or craisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients but raisins in a mixing bowl, stirring until evenly distributed. Spread into a thin layer on a baking sheet with sides and bake for 1 hour, stirring to allow steam to escape and even heating every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before adding raisins. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for 1-2 weeks.

Healthy 2016: nutritious food prep for fast, delicious meals

quionoa bowlphotocred & recipe: the cozy apron

Sick of setting New Year’s resolutions to diet? Tired of feeling confused about what foods are healthy? Frustrated that there isn’t enough time to prepare healthy food? Pants a little tight after the holidays? Disorganized and haphazard in the kitchen?

Start fresh with a plan, customizable recipes, and learn to do it all with cooking demos with me in a MessHall workshop!

Reset your defaults.

Eating healthy is a habit. Your “defaults” – the things you do and eat on a daily basis – are the most important elements of your health. When those are healthy and structured, your life becomes healthy and structured. Don’t go on a diet – have a healthy, intentional diet. It all starts with a plan! This workshop provides you with a hard copy guide to target the areas that matter most, and customize them to fit in your real, busy life.

Learn to meal plan & prep like a pro:

We’ll lay some ground work with a short presentation to highlight some key elements of a healthy diet (for any eating pattern!), show how to make food prep an easy, structured part of your weekend (that won’t take all day!) and enjoy an adaptable meal you can use to plan lunches and dinners for weeks. Then comes the REALLY fun part: creating make-your-own jars to start you off right at home!

What’s included during the workshop:

  • Healthy eating workbook and planner
  • A crash course in nutrition science
  • A delicious, freshly prepared meal
  • Make-your-own chia pudding, granola, and overnight oats jars to take home
  • Improved sense of confidence and mastery in the kitchen – and beyond!

Make 2016 the year you start to do food right.

Diets work…as long as you’re on them! Only make changes you intend to keep – for a lifetime – and ditch the “I’m doing this to lose 10 pounds” mentality. You’ll be able to apply the info you learn here all year long, and far beyond.

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Get tickets here –> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/healthy-2016-nutritious-food-prep-for-fast-delicious-meals-tickets-20066570653

Hope to see you there!

A Friendsgiving feast (+pistachio pumpkin biscotti)

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Happy Friendsgiving!

Yesterday I hosted my 11th Friendsgiving, which is a tradition I’ve loved since college.  Throwing an open-house style potluck with lots of friends is a no-fail way to have a great time, and this year was no exception!

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Along with this pecan pie, I also made biscotti. This month’s RecipeRedux theme is “creative quick breads,” and since biscotti are technically  a quick bread (leavened without yeast), I figured these fit!  Click the blue frog at the bottom of the post to see all the other healthier-for-the-holidays quick bread recipes from members.

No fewer than 3 different people at the party asked who made them, so they are as delicious as they are pretty!  Wrap some up in a cellophane bag with a nice ribbon, pair with a mug and you have a lovely hostess gift this holiday season. ;)

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Like the mug?  Check out StonewarebySarah for handcrafted gifts – lots of new items listed!

Pistachio pumpkin biscotti (adapted from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 6 ounces shelled pistachios
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine dry ingredients (through pistachios) in a mixing bowl and whisk until evenly mixed.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla together, then add to dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, then used hands to knead into a ball.  Break into two even pieces and shape each into a flattened log.  Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment for 45 minutes, then remove and cool for 20.  Lower oven temp to 300F.  Slice rolls into 1/2 inch-thick pieces, lay out on baking sheet, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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The Story of Chocolate & Health (+nutty chocolate brittle)

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The story of how chocolate began to become the darling of confectioners and scientists alike is wrapped up in the story of Alfred Nobel – of the “Nobel” that initiated the peace prize, no less.  Since this month’s RecipeRedux features favorite chocolate pairings (I haven’t met a dietitian yet who wasn’t a least a moderately serious chocolate lover), I did some digging to find out where all the buzz about chocolate and health started, and was fascinated by what I found.  As explained the journal Nutrients, it started with a bang:

“Ascanio Sobrero (1812–1888) traveled from Turin, Italy, to Paris, in the mid-19th century, to work under the renowned chemist Theophile-Jules Pelouze. In Pelouze’s laboratory Sobrero uncovered the reaction whereby mixing glycerol with nitric and sulfuric acids created an explosion, except if the mixture was cooled during the reaction process. This new compound was labeled: nitroglycerine (NG)…Records indicate that Sobrero tasted nitroglycerine and found it sweet, but warned “precaution should be used, for a very minute quantity put upon the tongue produces a violent headache” [6]. Four years later, Alfred Nobel sought tutelage in Pelouze’s laboratory…Nobel’s family was in the road/tunnel construction business in Sweden. Recognizing the financial potential of such a product, Nobel returned with NG to Stockholm. Nobel was concerned with world peace, supported the humanities, and of course valued scientific discoveries. He bequeathed his entire estate to a trust designed to award those, who through their hard work and discoveries, might change the world. Thus, the origins of the Nobel Prize can be linked back to nitroglycerine.

Nobel suffered from poor health and intense pain related to angina pectoris. He was advised, coincidently, to take NG for his heart complaint. At the time, it seemed incredulous to Nobel to consume a compound utilized in road construction. Seven weeks before his death he wrote:

My heart trouble will keep me here in Paris for another few days at least, until my doctors are in complete agreement about my immediate treatment. Isn’t it the irony of fate that I have been prescribed N/G 1(nitroglycerine), to be taken internally! They call it Trinitrin, so as not to scare the chemist and the public.

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Why did the physicians prescribe NG? Twenty years earlier Benjamin Richardson, a medical doctor and researcher working in London, investigated the physiological effects of amyl nitrite that was administered to a frog. The capillaries in the frog’s foot dilated demonstrating the relationship between NG and vasodilatation [8]. Others worked on the physiology and mechanistic pathways of nitrites over the 19th century. William Murrell, a London physician, prescribed NG to patients and published the positive effects NG provided on relieving chest pain [9,10,11,12]. During this period NG was prepared as a liquid and not easily transported. Murrell wrote to British chemist William Martindale requesting that a solid form of the drug be prepared so that patients could consume the drug, regardless of location, when angina pectoris occurred. Murrell suggested placing the drug (hundredth of a grain) in chocolate [13]. At the turn of the 19th century, consequently, NG and chocolate became linked. The public loved this “drug,” while Murrell regretted his request. He believed the chocolate-coated NG pill would be misused and treated as candy; he tried to retract his original suggestion, but was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, he continued to prescribe NG to his patients [14]. Murrell had no way of knowing that an active ingredient in cocoa (flavonoids) would be investigated for its up-regulation of nitric oxide (a derivative of NG).”

Fascinating, right?  You can read the rest of the article here: Cocoa and Heart Health: A Historical Review of the Science. (For a peer-reviewed publication, it’s easy to read and eloquently written!)  It’s important to remember that chocolate, like any drug, should be taken with the right dosage and frequency.  A small amount of cacao or dark chocolate (which contains more of the active compounds) on a daily basis is better than a hunk of milk or candy chocolate a few times a month in terms of health benefit.  I look for chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao – and particularly love it with salt and nuts – or both!

Which brings me to my loaded chocolate “brittle” – easy and quick to make, but impressive to gift or serve.  With the crunch of toasty pecans & cashews, the sweetness of dried fruit, and a salty flavor when it hits your tongue, this is the perfect thing to include in a gift basket, or just twist into cellophane as a party favor.

 Nutty Chocolate Brittle

Ingredients
  • 1 bar dark chocolate
  • 1 oz nuts
  • 1 Tbsp dried fruit
  • dash salt
Directions

Heat oven to 300F.  Place the chocolate bar in a piece of tinfoil with 1-3 inches extra space around each side; pinch around form of bar and corners to make a mold.  Distribute the nuts and dried fruit onto the bar, making sure each piece comes in contact with the chocolate.  Sprinkle on salt.  Place in oven for 5-7 minutes until chocolate is melted.  Remove and chill until hardened.  Peel off tinfoil.

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RecipeRedux: Spicy Ginger Peach Fruit Chews

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It’s time again for the RecipeRedux – a monthly link up of dietitians’ blogs, as we all focus in on a chosen food category!  This time the theme is dehydrated food.  I don’t own a dehydrator, and my oven leaves a lot to be desired, but last year I figured out how to use my slow cooker to make “fruit by the foot” and decided it was time for round 2.

One of the benefits of dehydrating is prolonged shelf life – removing water makes it less likely that many types of bacteria will grow.  These fruit leathers could last weeks in the fridge in an airtight bag!  They’re also much more portable; no bruising or smooshing to worry about.

A crock pot works surprisingly well as a dehydrator for purees.  You can try this with many other fruit combos, just remember these two rules: 1) the lid must stay off for it to work this way and 2) only a thin amount of fruit can cover the bottom – ~1/4-1/2″ is ideal.  My crock pot is a 6qt oval, so it has more floor space than smaller, circular ones.

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Spicy Ginger Peach Fruit Chews

Ingredients

  • 2 large peaches, pitted (skin on!)
  • 1″ fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, deseeded

Directions
Puree all ingredients in a blender.  Coat crock pot with oil, pour in puree.  Set on low for 10-11 hours, until fruit is fully dried.  Peel out of pot, cut with a pizza wheel on a cutting board.

 

Click the frog for more amazing dehydrated recipes!

2ArmadillosCo @Whole Foods Market (+cinnamon chickpea crackers)

Exciting news – I’ll be at the P Street Whole Foods Market tomorrow with 2ArmadillosCo!  They will have stations set up so you can try every flavor, and a few will be partnered with other foods – including my chickpea crackers!  The tomato-basil flavor was so good I tried the same recipe with their rosemary-olive oil, and created a tomato & herb ricotta spread to complement them for the tasting on Saturday.  I planned to stop there, but…

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A few nights ago I got to visit Union Kitchen, where the 2Armadillos chickpeas are roasted, seasoned, and packed by hand with love. These guys really do it all by hand – first the chickpeas are soaked, then roasted, then covered in seasoning, and roasted again to lock in flavor.  Here’s the process, in pictures:

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Cinnamon toast is their latest chickpea flavor, and an idea struck: what if this cozy, cinnamony chickpea were made into a cracker?  What if that cracker was paired with a cinnamon-vanilla ricotta spread I’ve been slathering on everything from toast to tortillas?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is: a sweet, crunchy treat that’s still loaded with protein and fiber.

The recipe is below, but if you’re in Dupont, come by the Whole Foods Market from 4-7pm for a sample and a lot of smiles – see the flyer here.

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Gluten-free cinnamon chickpea crackers

Ingredients:

Directions:
In a blender, grind the first 3 ingredients until the size of crumbs.  Add cornstarch; pulse to combine.  Drizzle in water while blender runs a little at a time.  Dough should be sticky enough to form a ball. Place onto a non-stick cookie sheet and roll thin with a rolling pin or glass. (I put a piece of waxed paper on top so nothing stuck to the pin!) Use a pizza cutter to score into squares, sprinkle salt on top.  Tested trick: sprinkle water around the outside of the dough so crackers bake evenly!  Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crackery.  Break into squares.

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Cinnamon-vanilla ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 1 c ricotta cheese (I use the real thing, made with whole milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg

Directions:
Blend all ingredients together in a bowl with a fork until spices are evenly distributed.  Spread.  Enjoy.

Gluten-free chickpea crackers

I just can’t get over these 2ArmadillosCo chickpeas…they keep making new flavors and have the most satisfying crunch!  If you can’t find some in one of your local DC area grocery stores, they do sell online too.

In addition to being a great snack, you can also cook with them! I blogged two other recipes using 2ArmadillosCo chickpeas previously:

Gluten-free breaded chicken tenders:
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Chickpea stuffing:
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Recently I’ve been inspired to make crackers – after doing a gluten-free dinner party for a customer a few weeks ago, I realized that 1) there aren’t that many good GF crackers on the market and 2) crackers are EASY to make.  And so the WFW chickpea cracker was born.

These are crunchy, nutty, and hearty – perfect for dipping, topping, and munching on the go.  Crackers from scratch in less than 45 minutes – that’s less time than it takes to go to the store – and this recipe makes about as much as you’d get in a box of Wheat Thins.  Pair with a creamy tomato & herb ricotta spread, recipe below!

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Gluten-free Chickpea Crackers

Ingredients

  • 2 c 2ArmadillosCo roasted chickpeas (I used the Tomato Basil flavor)
  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds (mine were salted)
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 3/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c water
  • Dash salt

Directions
In a blender, grind the first 3 ingredients until the size of crumbs.  Add cornstarch and cheese; pulse to combine.  Drizzle in water while blender runs a little at a time.  Dough should be sticky.  Spread onto a non-stick cookie sheet and roll thin with a rolling pin or glass. (I put a piece of waxed paper on top so nothing stuck to the pin!) Use a pizza cutter to score into squares, sprinkle salt on top.  Tested trick: sprinkle water around the outside of the dough so crackers bake evenly!  Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crackery.  Break into squares.

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Tomato & herb ricotta spread

Ingredients:

  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning
  • dash salt

Directions:
Combine all ingredients and stir to blend.