Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed Muffins

 

Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed Muffins

 

Happy Hump Day.  This past weekend marked the annual planting of our summer garden.  I had never really thought much about actually growing food until my lifestyle changed about 10 years ago.  When I decided to research and understand everything I was putting into my body, it was a perfect solution to the highly processed foods available in the marketplace.  We made the initial planting endeavor many years ago and have enjoyed eating the fruits of our labor ever since.  Our boys enjoy being outside and getting their hands dirty in the soil, so a home garden has turned out to be a great way to get the kids outdoors and involved.

Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed Berries

Strawberries are perfectly in season right now and that means all things strawberry in my house.  I love to cook and bake using seasonal local produce so I generally purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season and therefore have the most nutritional value.  Strawberries have a fairly short life cycle and because they are so tasty, we really take advantage of their abundance for the next few months.  Find a local U-pick farm and make it a family outing to get berries.

Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed flour

This recipe was created by accident.  I used frozen cranberries in the batter the first time around and they turned out good.  But, I ran into Swamp Rabbit Café, a local grocer a few days later, and they had pints upon pints of fresh strawberries and my mind went crazy thinking how my new little recipe would be even better with those fresh berries.  I was not disappointed.  These muffins turned out moist and flavorful.  Success.  You must try them and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  Feel free to pop leftovers in the toaster and reheat for breakfast.

Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed finished muffins

 

Fresh Strawberry and Flaxseed Muffins

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats – ground (I use a coffee grinder)

1 cup almond meal

1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

1 TBSP ground flaxseed

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil – melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 heaping cup fresh strawberries – chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a muffin tin with paper liners or spray.  In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl combine all the wet ingredients.  Combine the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until well incorporated.  Gently fold in the strawberries.  Fill muffin tin cups to about 3/4 full.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden around the edges.

5 reasons we don’t wear shoes in our home + Sophie Uliano’s Lemon Chia Seed Muffin Recipe

5 reasons we don't wear shoes in our home
5 reasons we don’t wear shoes in our home

 

This can be a touchy subject.  I am a Southern girl and hospitality is high on my list.  I would never want to offend or invoke feelings of discomfort to those I invite into my home.  But, when I can, I educate our house guests as to why I am politely asking them to remove their shoes at the door.  I have not always felt this way, but after many hours of research, I concluded that wearing shoes in the house is extremely bad for your health.  I have narrowed my research down to what I feel are 5 good reasons to promote dropping your shoes at the door.

1.  Bacteria on the bottoms of shoes  A large portion of the bacteria found on your shoes is from stepping on fecal matter.  It originates from public restroom floors or contact with animal fecal material from being outdoors.  The most common occurrence from this type of bacteria is  E. coli bacteria which can cause sickness including diarrhea and other illnesses according to the CDC.  This can be especially problematic for those who have young children that crawl and play along the floors.   This bacteria can be easily transmitted to tile and carpet.  Cleaning your floors and vacuuming your carpet will greatly cut down on the amount of bacteria in your home.

2.  Toxins on shoes – Shoes pick up all kinds of toxins in the course of a day.  Anywhere you walk, you are likely grabbing a toxin.  From the dry cleaners to the gas station, and everywhere in between, there are toxins.  Environmental pollution from spilled gasoline at the pump to walking through grass that has recently been sprayed.  All of it then comes right into your home.  This is probably the most important reason I initially began removing my shoes at the door.  These pollutants are extremely harmful to our systems and can potentially cause serious side effects.

3.  Dirty – I have two young boys.  Dirt is a constant.  If they wore their shoes in the house, I would be cleaning the floors all day long!  I believe this one is pretty self-explanatory.  No shoes=no dirt.

4.  General Health – I am a firm believer in the notion that not wearing shoes in the house makes for overall healthier people.  Given that we have discussed the fact that large amounts of bacteria and toxins travel on shoes, it makes sense to me that a home without shoes is healthier than a home with shoes.  I believe the instances of allergic reactions and respiratory issues as well as general sickness is much lower.

5.  Comfort – Whether you work outside the home or are a stay-home mommy, when you finish your workday, the first thing you want to do is take off your shoes and relax.  Make your home a haven of comfort.  Put a few pairs of comfy slippers by the door that you can slip into as soon as you walk inside.  You may even want to offer a pair to your guests if you feel they are uncomfortable removing their shoes.  Remember, hospitality for guests is still crucial.

 

Now for the good stuff.  One of the very first books I bought when I decided to follow a clean eating lifestyle was Sophie Uliano’s The Gorgeously Green Diet – How to Live Lean and Green.  I have prepared countless numbers of her recipes and they are all fabulous.  Her website www.SophieUliano.com is full of helpful ideas and perfect ways to eat and live a gorgeously green lifestyle.  She posted this Lemon Chia Seed muffin recipe on twitter last summer and my family fell in love with them.  I made a batch this week and she kindly gave me permission to share the recipe with you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sophie Uliano's Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
Sophie Uliano’s Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Sophie Uliano’s Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut palm sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups sprouted spelt flour (just use Spelt if you can’t find the sprouted version)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1/2 cup rice milk (I used almond milk)

2 TBSP chia seeds

Makes 6-8 medium muffins.  Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the sugar and oil in the food processor until creamy.  While the processor is still running, slowly add the eggs.  Finally, add the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, vanilla extract and milk.  Process well.  Finally add the chia seeds and pulse just to mix them in.  Line a muffin tin with liners and fill each liner with the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Serve immediately, or gently warm again before serving.

 

 

Healthy Tart Pastries

Healthy Tart Pastries
Healthy Tart Pastries

I recently posted a list on Facebook of foods you should NEVER feed your kids.  Pop-Tarts made the cut.   It’s unfortunate, but they are loaded with junk.  And when I say junk I am referring to the high amounts of sugar (corn sugar and high fructose corn syrup), preservatives, and highly processed oils.  None of these ingredients fuel your body or your brain.  When I am thinking of  breakfast or snack options for my children, these two issues are always at the forefront of my decisions.  Will this food strengthen their body and their brain?  If not, then we try to skip it.  That’s not to say that we don’t sometimes have things that may not fit into these two questions, but my goal is to be around 85-90%.  That leaves us with enough room for birthdays, celebrations or the occasional special treat. I have been working on these pastries for quite a while.  When I posted a picture of them on social media a few weeks ago I got several requests for the recipe. I needed to make a few adjustments before I was ready to share it and, of course, test them on my children.  They loved them.  I tried them with several different fillings and they were all yummy.  So, I am going to share the basic recipes and you can substitute any fruit you desire.  If you were like me and enjoyed countless pop-tarts as a child, these are going to quickly bring back the nostalgia of childhood.  They don’t taste exactly the same, but I wasn’t going for that highly processed taste.  Just the opposite, in fact.  These are hearty, flavorful and flaky.  I hope you enjoy this makeover.

 

Healthy Tart Pastries

For the pastries:

3 cups whole spelt flour

3/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tsp baking powder

5 tbsp coconut oil – still solid

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2-1 cup almond milk

For the filling:

1 cup fresh or frozen fruit of your choice

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp raw local honey

1 tbsp chia seeds

For the topping:

1 tbsp raw local honey

1 tbsp grassfed butter

Preheat oven to 400.  In a small saucepan add the ingredients for the filling with the exception of the chia seeds.  Bring to a boil.  Turn temperature to medium and let the fruit continue to slowly boil about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the chia seeds.  Place the fruit into the freezer while you are preparing the pastry dough.  This allows the fruit to set.  Add all the dry ingredients for the pastries into a large mixing bowl.  Add the coconut oil and work the oil into the flour mixture.  Add the olive oil and continue to combine.  Add the almond milk beginning with 1/2 cup and work the mixture until it begins to become a dough.  Add the remainder of the milk if you need it.  Knead the dough a few times, but be sure not to overwork it.  Roll the dough out onto a large piece of wax paper.  With a rolling pin roll the dough out very thin.  With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into equal sized squares.  Add a few spoonful’s of the fruit compote to half of the dough squares.  Place the remaining half of dough squares atop the compote.  With a small bowl of water, dip a fork into the water and make indentions all the way around the pastry until it is closed up.  Place all the pastries onto a baking sheet and bake them for 20-25 minutes.  In a small saucepan melt the honey and butter.  When the pastries are done, rub them with the honey/butter mixture.

Here are a few other healthy pop-tart recipes:

Chocolate Covered Katie

Vegan Berry Pop Tarts

Whole Wheat Toaster Pastries

 

Lemon, Coconut & Summer Squash Bread

Lemon, Coconut & Summer Squash Bread
Lemon, Coconut & Summer Squash Bread

This recipe turned out so good!  We are living at the beach for a few weeks and it’s the perfect place to invent new recipes as I have much more downtime than normal.  The fresh sea air and beautiful sunshine are great backdrops for creativity.  And, thanks to a brand new Fresh Market opening just down the street, my stash of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables are abundant.  As you know, I am constantly trying to figure out ways to get vegetables into my kids.  I had purchased several organic yellow summer squash and needed to use them.  I kept thinking about preparing a yummy bread (always a hit with my kids) but wanted something a little different.  The idea of zucchini bread kept popping into my mind, but I was fresh out of zucchini.  I decided that yellow squash would work just as well and it would put a new spin on the standard zucchini bread. My mind immediately began thinking of a few other “yellow” foods that could be added to make this bread a little healthier.  Lemons are a staple at our house and we had an entire bowl full.  So, a lemon would definitely be thrown into the mix.  I also try to incorporate healthy additions such as flaxseed or chia seed to all of our baked goods, and the crunchy, Omega-3 packed chia seed sounded like the perfect accompaniment to this bread.  The finished product is golden brown and beautiful.  This bread is light and refreshing on a hot summer day.  It makes a beautiful presentation and I recommend adding it to a luncheon salad or an afternoon tea.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Lemon, Coconut & Summer Squash Bread

2 cups whole grain spelt flour

1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 TBSP raw shredded coconut

1 TBSP chia seed

1 tsp celtic sea salt

1 lemon – zest plus juice

1/2 cup grade B pure maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil – melted

2 organic, cage-free eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 unsweetened original almond milk

1 cup grated yellow summer squash

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray of your choice (I use coconut).  In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients including the lemon zest and whisk until well incorporated.  In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients except the squash.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Gently fold in the squash.  Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean.

 

 

Healthy Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Who doesn’t enjoy crispy bread, eggs and maple syrup?  AKA – French toast.  I am a sucker for this kind of food.  So, when I saw a healthier version on the Food Babe blog (www.foodbabe.com), my interest was instantly peaked.  My family made her recipe on Mother’s Day and it was as yummy as advertised.  I will continue to use the original recipe for weekends and family gatherings, but this version is quick, easy and simple for breakfast during the week.  And, that is something I am always looking for.  With two boys that generally wake up hungry, my brain needs to begin working as soon as my feet hit the floor.  And I must admit, my brain isn’t always that snappy first thing in the morning.  So, having a few “no-brainers” to reach for, really helps my day get started in the right direction.

Some of you have asked me about bread.  Yes, I do eat bread.  Most of the time I make all of our breads and baked goods, but I do keep Ezekiel 4:9 breads in the freezer for times just as these.  Ezekiel 4:9 breads are prepared using a combination of 6 grains and legumes without the use of flours.  According to their website, www.foodforlife.com, Ezekiel 4:9 breads are a complete source of protein, contain 18 amino acids, increase digestibility, increase the absorption of minerals and are a great source of fiber.  I recommend you trade in your white breads and flours for this far superior option.  As most of you know I have a wheat intolerance, but due to the nature of these breads, I am able to digest them without any problems.  I hope you enjoy this treat.

 

Healthy Apple Cinnamon French Toast – Serves 2

1 Ezekiel muffin split in two

1 apple

2 cage-free eggs – feel free to add an additional egg if you prefer a more “eggy” French toast

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp grass-fed butter

grade B pure maple syrup – drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray 2 ramekins with cooking spray of your choice.  Place 1/2 of the muffin into each ramekin.  Cut the apple in rounds so that it fits on top of the muffin.  Add 2 pieces of apple to each dish.  Be sure to remove all the seeds from the apple rounds.  In a small bowl whisk the eggs and spices together until well incorporated.  Pour 1/2 of the egg mixture into each ramekin.  Place 1 tsp of butter atop each ramekin and bake until the egg is puffing and golden brown around the edges, usually 20-30 minutes.  You can double or triple this recipe to meet the needs of your family.

 

 

Spelt Tortillas

Spelt Tortillas

I am super excited to introduce you all to one of my favorite people.  Michelle and I have been friends for 8+ years and have walked through this lifestyle change together.  She is an excellent cook and works hard to ensure she feeds her family real nutritious foods.  This spelt tortilla recipe is one of my favorites.  I have adapted my version of this recipe a bit to meet my family’s needs (I add a TBSP of ground flaxseed and sometimes different herbs and spices), but her original recipe follows on this post.  So now I am going to turn it over to her.  I know you will love her as much as I do.  Thanks for your continued support!

There is just something about a HOT tortilla. I love to pull it off the skillet, spread some grass-fed butter on it, and eat it as the butter drips off.

Almost 8 years ago I looked at my family’s health history as well as my eating habits, and knew that I had to take action, or I too would end up with major health problems. So as I went down the list of foods I love to eat, I started working on making a healthy version of each of them. I looked for ways to use wholesome real foods that nourish the body and taste amazing.  This recipe was among one of my firsts.  Now, 3 children later, I still use this recipe all the time, and it has become a family affair as my kids love to help in the process.

Please use this recipe as a guideline.  You can add an additional TBSP of coconut oil for more flexibility.  I hope this recipe brings a smile to your face and comfort to your tummies.  Enjoy!

 

Spelt Tortillas

4 cups whole grain spelt flour – I recommend OneDegree Organics sprouted spelt for optimal nutrition

1 tsp celtic sea salt

1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

1 TBSP coconut oil

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cup warm water

Heat an electric skillet.  These tortillas are made in a dry skillet, so no oils or sprays are needed.  In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  Add the oil and warm water.  Stir until well combined and a ball of dough is formed.  Knead for a few minutes to ensure all the ingredients are well  incorporated.  Pinch off a ball size and using a rolling pin, roll the dough flat.  Cook the tortilla in the skillet for about 5 minutes on each side.  The longer you cook them the crispier they become.

 

 

 

Banana & Walnut Sprouted Muffins

Banana and Walnut Muffins

This is my latest breakfast creation.  The combination of really ripe bananas, walnuts and superb sprouted grain makes a delicious muffin.  I call this a breakfast food, but because it is so nutritionally packed, it can be tasty as a late morning or afternoon snack as well.  I tend to keep these types of foods around as I generally eat 5-6 small meals a day.  Often times I pair this muffin with a small bowl of plain Greek yogurt for a perfect energy boosting snack that won’t throw my blood sugar level off the charts.

Maintaining proper blood sugar levels throughout the day is vital to your health.  When your blood sugar drops too low it is known as hypoglycemia, and can cause a number of health issues such as: fatigue, weakness, dizziness, anxiety and depression,  to name a few.  On the other end of the spectrum, when your blood sugar level is too high, it is known as hyperglycemia.  This condition is one of the key symptoms of diabetes.  As such, skipping a meal or eating too infrequently will cause a significant drop in blood sugar levels.  And, consuming highly processed, sugary, refined carbohydrates will cause an unsafe rise in blood sugar levels.  Your daily goal should be to consume fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.  All-in-all if you follow this protocol, your physical, mental and emotional health will run at its top.

 

Banana & Walnut Sprouted Muffins

2 very ripe bananas

2 cups sprouted spelt flour

1 tsp aluminum free baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp celtic sea salt

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 TBSP flaxseed – ground

1/2 cup grade b maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil – melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup walnuts – chopped – plus 12 for topping on each muffin

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.  In a large mixing bowl use a fork to mash the bananas.  Add the remaining ingredients in order listed except the walnuts.  Mix all the ingredients until well incorporated.  Fold in the 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.  Fill the muffin cups to 3/4 full.  Place a walnut on top of each muffin.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and done all the way through.  Insert a toothpick into a muffin, if it comes out clean, they are done.  Enjoy!

 

 

Healthy Homemade Granola

Healthy Homemade Granola

Yogurt and granola has long been a favorite snack of mine.  But of recent I have been leary of mass produced granolas, as most are loaded with sugar.  It is very difficult to find a quality granola with beneficial nuts and grains, that is low in sugar content.  So, like most things, I resorted to making my own.  This way I know exactly what is in it and I control the amount and kind of sweetener.  This particular recipe is a “spin-off” of my mother’s healthy granola recipe.  My husband tends to prefer granola that is heavier in oats, so I played with the original recipe a few times and ended up being happy with these results.  This healthy food can be paired with plain yogurt, almond milk, or just eaten as an afternoon snack.  Because it uses simple, nutritious ingredients, your family can breathe easy knowing they are fueling their bodies with clean foods.  The method of cooking this recipe is a bit tedious, but the results make it worth it.  Take the time and you will be glad you did.  I generally make a batch every two weeks.  You may need to make it more depending on the size and needs of your family.  Store it in an airtight container.  Enjoy!

 

Healthy Homemade Granola

4 cups rolled oats(not quick cook)

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 250.  In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.  In a smaller bowl combine wet ingredients.  Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  Pour onto large cookie sheet and spread the mixture out evenly.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.