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

 

Homemade Ginger Turmeric Dressing

Homemade Ginger Turmeric Dressing
Homemade Ginger Turmeric Dressing

I have been testing this homemade dressing for a few weeks.  I served it to our guests for Super Bowl Sunday and it was a huge hit,  so I guess it’s time to share.  I am actually not going to bog you down with much writing in this post and let the product speak for itself.  I love salads.  And I love salad dressing.  This recipe combines two of my daily favorites and ensures I am fighting inflammation as well as keeping my digestive system happy.  Done and Done……

Here you go.  I hope you enjoy this simple yet hearty dressing.  I recommend using it on salad greens, as a marinade for chicken or a dip for crudités.

 

Homemade Ginger Turmeric Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp garlic powder

dash of pink Himalayan salt or celtic sea salt

dash of black pepper

1 tsp raw local honey

In a small bowl add olive oil and mustard.  Whisk the two together.  Add all the spices and continue to whisk until well combined.  Whisk in the honey.  Refrigerate leftovers in a glass container.  Remove from the fridge a few minutes before you need to serve.

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato

 

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato
Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato

This is a new, healthier spin on the classic.  I used to love a good “stuffed” baked potato.  You know, the kind loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and a few chives.  Chives are green.  That’s makes it healthier right?  Well, at least that’s what I told myself.  I completely understand the desire for carbohydrates.  That is, honestly, my weakness.  Because of this weakness, I had to invent an alternative to satisfy my craving.

My version of a “loaded baked potato” is truly loaded. It begins with a vitamin C packed sweet potato and includes lots of yummy vegetables and healthy fats.  Not only is this a perfectly balanced meal, it is super simple to prepare.  I generally make this dish for lunch as it gives me the energy I need to get through the remainder of the day.

For more simple, family friendly recipes, check out my monthly column in Upstate Parent Magazine.

 

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato – Serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes

½ TBSP extra virgin coconut oil

½ yellow or white onion – chopped

1 large clove garlic – chopped

2 medium carrots – chopped

½ bell pepper – chopped

5-6 stalks asparagus – chopped

½ cup broccoli – fresh or frozen

4 mushrooms – chopped

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tablespoon bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce – adjust the amount you use based on your taste preference

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake the sweet potatoes for approximately 45 minutes or until soft.  In a large skillet on medium heat add the coconut oil.  Add the onion, garlic and carrots.  Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the pepper, asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.  Cook for 4-5 more minutes.  Turn heat to low and add the spinach.  Toss until wilted.  Drizzle the soy mixture over the vegetables and toss until well incorporated.  Open the sweet potatoes and load them with the vegetables.

Here are a few other healthy sweet potato recipes:

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

 

Simple Overnight Oats

 

Simple Overnight Oats
Simple Overnight Oats

With the holidays behind us and routines back in full swing, I am always open to anything labeled “simple.”  Our morning routine is pretty basic.  We all stumble to find the motivation needed to get moving and one-by-one end up in the kitchen.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is the perfect meal to encourage healthy eating habits with your entire family.  But, it also happens to be the meal when most families are the busiest and saving a few extra minutes can be the difference between being late or on-time for school or work.

Oatmeal is always a sure thing for my family, so this easy and nutritious recipe is a staple.  I have posted several other oatmeal recipes which further proves our love of this healthy grain, but this one takes the least amount of time.  Prepare this healthy dish the night before, stick it in the fridge and don’t think about it again until morning.  It’s that simple. Now enjoy a hot cup of tea and begin pondering what’s for dinner, at least that’s what I do every morning.  I hope you enjoy!

 

Simple Overnight Oats

1/2 cup whole grain oats – not instant

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 TBSP pure maple syrup

1/3 cup fresh or frozen berries

1/2 cup almond milk plus a bit more to stir in the morning

In a bowl or glass jar combine the oats and chia seeds.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until completely combined.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, add a bit of almond milk and stir.  This recipe is for one serving.  Duplicate it for the amount of people you need to feed.

Here are a few more simple oatmeal recipes for you to try:

Baked Oatmeal

Healthy Oatmeal Muffins

100 Days of Real Food – Favorite Overnight Oats

 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Happy New Year.  I can’t believe it’s the end of another year.  Time is zooming by.  I hope you all had a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season.  We have spent the last few months unpacking, setting up and settling into our new house.  It’s finally starting to feel like home.  I am looking forward to the coming days of just “being” instead of my previous state, which entailed things being hung, fixed or unpacked.  2014 was a very blessed year for me and I am so thankful for my family, friends, neighbors and a few strangers I met along the way.  Having these people, encounters and experiences help to make my life full and I couldn’t be happier.

Even though I have not posted in a while, I assure you I have been hard at work in the kitchen creating, testing and eating some very yummy food.  I am excited about the many recipes I am planning to share with you over the next year.  This particular recipe combines two of my favorite foods into one nutritious, quick and easy family meal.  Sweet potatoes are very versatile and can easily take on the flavors of sweet or savory in many simple dishes.  They are also extremely beneficial to someone following a clean eating lifestyle.  Some have even deemed them a “superfood”.  I tend to agree.  As whfoods.com states “One difficulty in describing the health benefits of sweet potatoes is knowing where to begin. There are a surprising number of nutrient categories responsible for the health benefits of this underappreciated tuber. Among these categories are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients.”  Read more about the health benefits here.  I know I can sometimes get off on a tangent, but this particular food is very important to incorporate into your weekly meal plan.  I hope this recipe helps you get acquainted with this special root vegetable.

 

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

1 TBSP coconut oil

3 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped

1/2 white onion – chopped

1 large sweet potato – peeled and chopped

4-6 medium carrots – peeled and chopped

4 cups broth – either vegetable or bone broth

24 oz organic strained tomatoes

45 oz organic black beans – I use Eden Organic

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chipotle chili pepper powder

1 TBSP chili powder

sea salt and pepper to taste

avocado

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven melt the coconut oil.  Add the garlic, onion, sweet potato and carrots.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  Add the turmeric powder and cook until well combined.  Add the broth, tomatoes and beans.  Add the remaining spices.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with fresh avocado.

Here are a few additional recipes to help get you on your way:

Healing Mineral Broth

7-Minute Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

 

Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt

Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt
Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt

This dinner bowl was created completely by accident.  We just moved into our house and most of the kitchen boxes have not been unpacked.  I don’t know how many of you have moved several times in your life, but I am not a fan!  I really hope this is our last one for a while.  But, I am certain my hubby will get bored in the next few years and take us on another ride.  Deep down, I really love it.  Well, maybe not the packing and unpacking, but seeing it all come together, I do enjoy.  As for dinner, I managed to find my Dutch oven, and then went into the mountain of paper bags lining my pantry to find a bag of dried black beans and basmati rice.  Because we eat vegetarian most of the time, beans are a staple at our house.  Fortunately, everyone in my family enjoys them.

For this bowl, I layered everything together for the perfect presentation.  The layering is what makes a food bowl truly special.  The addition of raw kraut is fantastic, even though it may sound a bit odd.  Raw kraut is very beneficial for gut health.  During the fermentation process, natural probiotics are created making kraut a superb food for healthy digestion.  I add kraut to my diet several times per week, if not everyday.  It makes a great topping for soups, salads or even a side dish to a sandwich.  The other topping to this bowl that may raise questions is salted yogurt.  I use Greek yogurt to replace anything that calls for sour cream.  Adding a bit of sea salt and olive oil to plain Greek yogurt gives it a hearty and bold flavor.  I hope you enjoy this yummy dish.

 

Black Bean Bowl with Salted Yogurt and Raw Kraut

cooked black beans – soak beans overnight and  slow cook them with garlic, onion and turmeric

basmati rice – you can use brown or white

green leaf lettuce – chopped

1 1/2 avocados – smashed and blended with sea salt and ground garlic

raw kraut – I use Farmhouse Culture

salted yogurt – 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt and 2 teaspoons olive oil

salsa

grated goat gouda cheese

Layer your bowl in whatever order you desire.

 

10 Non-Candy Halloween Treats

 

10 Non-Candy Halloween Treats
10 Non-Candy Halloween Treats

Halloween is one week away.  I am certain most of you are scrambling to find a costume, purchasing goodies to pass out, and attending dress-up parties.  Oh wait, that’s me.  I must admit we do not have our costumes purchased yet and I am hopeful it will happen this weekend.  We are actually traveling to North Carolina for Halloween so that our kids can trick-or-treat with their cousins.  That brings the dreaded question…Will I allow my children to eat trick-or-treat candy?  The answer is yes.  I allow my kids to choose 2 pieces of candy from their bags to enjoy.  The remainder is given away.  I am certain some of you are thinking “2 pieces, are you kidding me?”, but this system seems to work with my kids, so I am good with it.  But, what they enjoy more are the non-candy treats.  Those that are toy or fruit based.  With the increase in health awareness, many people are trading in their candy treats for less traditional non-candy treats.  Here are a few of the approved items on our list.  Have a safe and Happy Halloween.

10 Non-Candy Halloween Treats

1.  halloween pencils

2.  halloween erasers

3.  toy spiders

4.  halloween tattoos

5.  finger puppets

6.  halloween Stickers

7.  glow sticks

8.  toy bat rings

9.  whoopi cushion

10.  homemade mandarin orange jack-o-lantern – peel the orange and stick a small piece of celery in the top.

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter
Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter 2

I have missed posting on the blog over the past month.  The reason for my absence is founded on the fact that we have been in the process of building a new house for close to a year.  And, for the past 4+ months we have been living with family or at the beach.  So for the last month I have been focused on getting my oldest son acclimated to a new school, chasing around my 3 year old and choosing all kinds of “stuff” that goes along with a new house.  We are still several weeks from move-in, but last week when my youngest came up with this yummy recipe, I decided it was time to share it with all of you.  So here goes…..

This time of year always makes me smile as I love the cooler weather and the abundance of gourd vegetables.  My memory of pumpkin is in the scrumptious pies you see adorning every family’s Thanksgiving table.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a delicious pumpkin pie, but there are definitely many other ways to incorporate this highly nutritional and very functional food.  So last week when I was scooping the flesh out of our roasted pumpkin to make bread, my son asked to eat the remainder of the pumpkin and requested I add peanut butter to it.  To my surprise, this was a very tasty lunch.  I have since added a few more things to the recipe to further enhance the flavors, but all the credit goes to him for the original idea.  I recommend preparing it for lunch alongside steamed broccoli or as a side dish to accompany a dinner meal.  I hope your family enjoys this simple, yet satisfying recipe.

 

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

1 medium pie pumpkin – cut in half and de-seeded

2 TBSP peanut butter – no added sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of celtic sea salt

drizzle of raw local honey (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.  Roast the pumpkin flesh side down in a baking dish with approximately 1 inch of water for 45 minutes or until a fork easily slides into the skin.  In a medium bowl, scoop all the flesh from the roasted pumpkin.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  If your house is nut-free, feel free to substitute a “butter” that works for your family.

 

Here are some other yummy fresh pumpkin recipes:

Maple Pumpkin Spiced Muffins

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Pumpkin Pancakes