Saturday, April 25, 2015

Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins


The last three weeks have been really busy. Dane and I moved from Seattle to our beloved Bellingham, the land of subdued excitement. My heart couldn’t be happier. Luckily, we have not accumulated much furniture in the last seven and half years since we have always lived with other people. However, now that we have moved into our own home, we needed everything. A bed, a couch, a dresser, a guest bed, bookshelves, a dinner table, etc. The only room that was more than complete was, can you take a big guess….the kitchen. The kitchen was also the first to be completely organized and ready to go. Now you know where my priorities lie. No matter how crazy and disorganized my life is, the kitchen must always be ready and set to go. 

Meanwhile, I have also started my clinical nutrition rotation at a large hospital in Everett. With two months left of my dietetic internship, I am feeling very ready to start my career in the nutrition field. My body, mind, and spirit are bursting at the seams to get going. After almost 5 years of education, a master’s degree in nutrition, and soon to come credential as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I am ready to step out and help others. Watch for my soon to come private practice!


In addition, I was once again had to say goodbye to my beloved husband, yesterday. As a fisherman’s wife, the summer months are spent without my best friend at my side. After seven years, I should be used to this routine, and I am...somewhat. It is always a sad day when I wave him goodbye. However, it is also an opportunity for me to focus, create, and get started. When he returns, I hope to embrace him with a new credential and a new practice.

So, to enlighten your Saturday morning, and bring some coziness to this rainy Pacific Northwest Spring day, I am going to share with you a new version of my morning glory muffin. It is gluten-free, sweetened with dates and maple syrup, enriched with carrots and zucchini, and super easy to make. These muffins have been my go-to on those early weekday mornings when I have an hour commute to work. Rich in vitamins, especially vitamins A and E, minerals magnesium and calcium, and fiber, I know I am getting a nourishing start to my day. Paired with a hard-boiled egg or a container of organic plain yogurt, I am a happy camper. I especially like to cut the muffin in half, toast it, and spread a little butter on top. Whether you eat them as part of a breakfast, as a snack, or even as a healthy dessert, I am sure they will become a staple in your kitchen, as they have in mine.


Too keep things short and sweet, I hope you start your morning with a nourishing breakfast, and perhaps a muffin too. Happy Saturday!

Gluten-Free Morning Glory Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS
¾ cup sweet sorghum flour
¾ almond flour with skin flakes
1 tablespoon +1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
½ tsp sea salt
8 medjool dates, pitted 
2 large eggs
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons flax seeds (or finely shredded coconut)
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the pitted medjool dates in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside. They will need to soak until soft.

Mix together the sorghum and almond flour, baking powder, cardamom, sea salt, and flax seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

Strain the dates when soft, and mash in a separate bowl (I use my hands to squeeze the dates into a paste). Mix the dates with the eggs, olive oil, and maple syrup with a whisk until combined. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth. Stir in the flaxseeds and grated zucchini and carrot.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Line a regular sized muffin tin with liners and fill each evenly. Sprinkle additional flaxseeds or shredded coconut on top. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before storing in a large ziplock bag or food container. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Matcha Maca Latte: Pure Harmony in a Cup

matcha, maca, latte, energy, concentration, clarity

Spring break has been fantastic so far! The last three days Dane and I spent time at our cabin on the Olympic Peninsula with wonderful friends. We hiked, we biked, we cooked, and we relaxed around the campfire. It was the perfect start to a rejuvenative week off. My body is pleasantly sore and my mind is calm. So much happiness was to be had.

Now back home in Seattle, its time to get organized for the last two and a half months as a Bastyr Dietetic Intern. Time has flown by and I can’t believe that my long journey is almost over. Quite frankly I am more than excited to get out there and make a difference! Cook, teach, and counsel, whatever it may be it’s so close on the horizon. It seems like only yesterday when I first stepped foot onto the Bastyr University campus. It also feels like just yesterday that I started this blog. It sure has changed over the years, grown, and developed just like I have. With that said, it's a good time to celebrate. Cheers to three years of blogging and two and a half months left as an intern!

Instead of celebrating in the middle of the day with a glass of champagne, which does sound lovely, I am going to celebrate by making a Matcha Maca Latte to keep my energy and concentration up for the rest of the day.


Matcha is a Japanese green tea. However, it is very different than other green teas available. The leaves are shade grown, picked, steamed, and then dried. And finally ground into a fine, fine powder, so fine, you can drink the entire leaf. It has been prized as a nutritional powerhouse because it contains more antioxidants, more EGCG (a well-researched phytonutrient), and more of the amino acid L-theanine than other green teas. It also is rich in caffeine. However, because of its high L-theanine content matcha promotes a feeling of relaxed alertness instead giving you the coffee jitters. After 30-40 minutes the L-theanine stimulates the alpha waves within the brain, which promote relaxation. The combination of both caffeine and L-theanine, induce feelings of heightened concentration and creativity.

Maca on the other hand is a root vegetable, related to the radish, and is found in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains. Peruvian farmers have touted it as a superfood for thousands of years. According to Peruvian herbal medicine maca root has been used for everything from hormonal imbalance to mental clarity and endurance. Its unique ability to act as an adaptogen allows maca to offer a wide range of benefits depending on the needs of the individual. Today you can find it in health food stores promoted as an adaptogen that may enhance energy and endurance, increase fertility, and heighten mood. Furthermore, maca root is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and E, B vitamins, and plenty of calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium.

matcha, maca, concentration, clarity, energy, well-being
matcha, maca, latte, frother, concentration, energy, mood, clarity

Since both matcha and maca have an earthy, sweet flavor I thought that the two would harmonize perfectly; offering well-being in their rich earthy notes. And indeed the clarity and energy I feel after drinking this superfood latte enhances my spirits as well as my creativity. It is pure harmony in a cup! Perhaps you are a coffee lover, or a tea aficionado, or perhaps you are a lover of both. Either way, this superfood latte may just be the new perfect addition to your morning routine.

Let’s unwind, relax, and celebrate together with a Matcha Maca Latte!

Matcha Maca Latte
Makes 1 cup

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon matcha powder
½ teaspoon maca powder
¼ cup hot water
1-1 ½ teaspoon honey
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup unsweetened soymilk (any milk is fine)

DIRECTIONS

Put the matcha and maca into a tea strainer or fine mesh strainer, and sift into a cup. Add hot water. Mix with a traditional matcha bamboo whisk or with a small metal whisk until combined. Add the honey, vanilla, and sea salt and continue to whisk until the honey is fully dissolved.

Meanwhile heat 1 cup of soymilk or any other milk in the microwave or on the stove stop until hot but not boiling. Using an electric frother, froth the milk until a thick foam is formed.

Using a spoon hold back the foam as you pour the hot milk into your cup. Stir and then top with the foam. Enjoy!

Note: You must add the sea salt...it brightens the earthy flavors of the matcha and maca. Trust me :)
________________________________________________________________________________ 

Reference:
Mason R. L-Theanine Boosts Alpha Waves, Promotes Alert Relaxation. Alternative & Complementary Therapies. 2001;91-95.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spicy Arugula Salad with Candied Fennel Seeds

arugula, beets, fennel seeds, detox, healthy, spring, salad, easy, lemon, vinaigrette

Spring has sprung! Although the last month we have already been experiencing record high sunny days, we have now officially made it through the winter months. It feels like the calendar is behind this year, as my apple and pear trees are already in full bloom, and the frogs in the pond have already croaked me to sleep the last 6 weeks. Spring in Seattle started February 1st, not March 20th.

Whether or not you are here on the West coast in a light spring jacket, or on the East coast bundled up from head to toe, I have decided it is time to bring the spring into the kitchen, highlighting spicy arugula, bright and tangy lemon zest, sweet and soothing fennel seeds, and the beautiful golden beet. Now you too can experience spring for lunch or dinner, even if you are wrapped in a parka. 

So what’s so great about arugula? Fennel? And the golden beet? Besides the fact that they all taste amazing, especially when tossed together in a lemon zest vinaigrette, these spring delicacies have so many wonderful benefits. Craving a spring detox, then this salad is for you!

beets, raw, health, detox, anti-inflammatory
arugula, beets, fennel seeds, detox, healthy, spring, salad, easy, lemon, vinaigrettebeets, raw, health, detox, anti-inflammatory

Firstly, did you know that arugula is considered a cruciferous vegetable? It is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, and therefore has a lot of the same wonderful benefits as these powerhouses do. One unique thing about arugula, compared to many other leafy greens, is that when chewed it releases a spicy flavor. This spicy compound is a phytonutrient called glucosinolate, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities. Plus it is great at supporting detoxification in our liver. Researchers have studied this phytonutrient extensively, especially in regards to its potential in cancer prevention. However, often times we cook cruciferous vegetables, which reduces the amount of this powerful phytonutrient. Therefore, eating raw arugula is a great way to get an abundance of this spicy and uber healthy plant compound.

TIP: Throw your salad greens into a bowl and top with fresh cold water. Let them soak while you prepare the rest of the recipe. This way the leaves plump up with water and are nice and crisp.

Instead of using the fennel bulb, I decided to use the fennel seed, for an extra somethin’ somethin’. Inspired by my favorite restaurant The Temple Bar in Bellingham, WA, I decided to make candied fennel seeds for added flavor and texture. Fennel seeds have been used for a long time to support digestive health, ease bloating, and also freshen ones breath. Have you ever tried candied fennel seeds after eating Indian food? These sweet treats are there for a reason; to aid in digestion after a meal and sweeten the breath after enjoying all the spicy and garlicky dishes. However, making your own at home is the best option. When using quality ingredients, candied fennel seeds add a delicious sprinkle of anise flavor, whether on a salad, dessert, or breakfast yogurt bowl.

fennel, seeds, digestive support, health, breath

Finally, lets drop the beet, with the golden star. Bright and sunny, like a warm spring day, this root vegetable adds a little weight to the otherwise light salad. Steam it, roast it, grate it, or slice it. Use it, how you best enjoy it. However, to reap the most of its benefits, including detoxification support, anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as potent antioxidant abilities, try to eat the beet raw or lightly steamed, as the powerful phytonutrient betalain steadily decreases with heat.

TIP: When purchasing beets, by those with greens. That way you know they are super fresh. Plus, you can use the greens in a quick sauté or even thrown them into a salad.

Wow, so much goodness in just one salad! It’s surely the way to bring spring into your kitchen and the spring back into your step. I know I will be eating this for some added detox support throughout the week!

Candied Fennel Seeds
Makes about 3-4 T

2 T organic sugar
2 T water
2-3 T fennel seeds 

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan add the sugar and the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until the mixture becomes syrupy. Usually at this point it will produce a lot more bubbles. About 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add in the fennel seeds. Continue to stir until the mixture crystalizes. This will happen from one second to the next and the fennel seeds will look almost dry. Quickly remove from heat and continue to stir a few more seconds until the fennel seeds are dry and separated. Pour into a sealable air-tight container.

Sprinkle on salads, desserts, oatmeal, etc. Or use to freshen breath after a spicy meal :)

Note: I tried using coconut sugar and it doesn’t work well. It becomes a solid mass. You have to use cane sugar for the best results.

Quick Lemon Vinaigrette
Makes about ¾ cup

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey or sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Zest from one lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator.

Spicy Arugula Salad
Makes as much as you want

1 medium golden beet
Fresh arugula
Candied fennel seeds
Quick lemon vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS

Thinly slice the beet into rounds (I used a mandolin) and then cut the slices into thin matchsticks (you can also steam or roast the beet for added sweetness).

Toss with as much fresh arugula, fennel seeds, and vinaigrette as you want. Serve with goat cheese toasts and grilled salmon for a balanced meal.  

Note: toss all the ingredients right before serving to keep the fennel seeds crisp.

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