Friday, January 14, 2011

Pecans, Carrots, and Herbs

Hello everyone! Lots of kitchen activities going on today :) I've been so busy in the kitchen I haven't even gotten my workout in yet which is usually done for me by 10 am.

First off I had some of what was left over of yesterday's Grape Fig Shake. Delicious and the perfect fuel for my morning errands. I stopped at the natural food store for some basics but the didn't have buttermilk so I had to make an extra trip to Hannaford. My final stop was The Home Depot for potting materials for the herbs I bought at the coop yesterday. By the time I was done finding what I needed my fingers were stinging because I had to browse their outdoor garden area! Brrrrrrr. I got home and tried Manna bread for the first time. I went for the Carrot Raisin variety, and schmeared a bit of almond butter on it. I love when I find something new that I love and is simple! I also bought the Cinnamon Date and Rye varieties which I will try soon.

Next up was breaking in my vitamix some more. I tried one of Sarma's nut milk recipes...Cinnamon Maple Pecan Milk. Talk about decadant! This milk could easily be enjoyed as a dessert drink, while at the same time not being so rich that you couldn't have a sweet glass in the middle of the day. I only had a tiny taste because my vitamix warmed it up a bit, and I am waiting to have a big glass until its nice and chilled. I am officially in love with my vitamix. The milk was perfectly smooth. The only problem now is I want to make recipe after recipe and my family can only eat so much!

Cinnamon Maple Pecan Milk:
from Raw Food Real World
1 cup raw pecans, soaked at least 2 hours
3 1/2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoon coconut oil (I did not add this)
1 tablespoon lecithin
2 packets stevia
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of sea salt

In a high speed blender blend nuts an water about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend. 

A word on a couple of the ingredients. The first is lecithin. You will find lecithin in many commercial products in which thickness in desired (read: ice cream, margarine). Do not be scared by this though. Lecithin is actually a healthy emulsifier. It contains choline which is a component of brain cells and is used to manufacture neurotransmitters. Normally produced by humans, plants, and animals, the supplement we buy is derived from soybeans. Be sure to buy lecithin from non-GMO soybeans! Second is stevia. By now you may have heard of stevia on television commercials. Stevia is an herb from the chrysanthemum family and is about 300 times sweeter then sugar. Stevia is considered non-caloric and is a great replacement for the artificial sweeteners that I steer clear from.

The next recipe was Carrot Muffins (I told you I was busy!). This is another recipe from my Good to the Grain cookbook. I haven't tasted them yet, as I am going to workout in a bit, but they sure looked good when they came out of the oven...and I did sample a bit of batter which was scrumptious. However, I have to admit something. When I went to pull out the ingredients I realized I had no unsalted butter! Not wanting to go back out when I had just been to two food stores, I committed a baking faux pas and went ahead with the salted butter, omitting the rest of the salt in the recipe. I think they will still taste good though :)

Kim recommends alternating muffin cups for even baking and to allow to tops to puff up nicely.

Lift the muffins out of their pans when done baking to allow them to cool and prevent the bottoms from getting soggy. This recipe actually made eight muffins but I didn't want to take a picture of the lonely pan with only 2 muffins in it...I didn't think it looked so nice.

Carrot Muffins:
from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours

Streusel topping:
1/4  cup plus 2 tablespoons spelt flour
2 tablespoons oat bran
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (which I didn't add)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

Combine all ingredients except butter. Pinch in butter until mixture is coarse crumbs.

Dry Mix:
1 cup spelt flour
3/4 all purpose flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups grated carrot (I used 3 small/medium carrots)

In a medium bowl sift all ingredients except carrots together, adding any ingredients that remain in sifter to the bowl. Mix in carrots.

Wet Mix:
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

Whisk together ingredients. Add wet mix to dry mix and stir to combine.

Scoop batter into greased muffin tins. The batter should be slightly mounded over rims. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter and lightly press in. Bake for 32 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Twist muffins out and place on sides in tins. Enjoy!

And finally...herb potting :) My family uses herbs all the time in our cooking. It often results in wasted herbs because we don't have time to use all the herbs in the package before they wilt. I decided it was time to grow our own indoor herbs. I found organically grown cilantro, parsley, and basil plants at the co-op yesterday, and while I was waiting for the muffins to come out of the oven, I got to work. Not only are they functional (assuming they stay alive and flourish) they also look lovely on our kitchen windowsill. I am still going to keep my eyes open for chives as that is another of our favorite herbs (I love a chive and goat cheese omelet). 

The work field all set up

Organic soil :)

Any tips on how to keep these herbs alive and healthy? 

Today is going to be me third day of Insanity in a row. I would really love to go out for a run but it is 16 degrees and windy. I'm not up for the cold, although I had better get used to it because I am planning on training for a marathon this time next year. 

Have a great day!

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