Sunday, June 28, 2009

Honey Sunflower and Flax Seed Bread

I've gotten really into bread making lately. I despise high fructose corn syrup, and there are very few choices of bread that don't contain this gross ingredient. I also don't regularly eat much bread, so part of the loaf is sometimes wasted, which I hate doing. The bottom line is, I can bake a healthier, cheaper, smaller loaf of bread at home than I can purchase at the store. So here was my latest attempt!

What You Need:
  • 1/4 cup honey (I used local - sold where I work from a beekeeper in town)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (I used soy margarine, a vegan option)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (free range, vegetarian fed)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I chose organic)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1-1/4 cup ground/shelled sunflower seeds (I used raw/organic)
  • 1 cup milk (local & organic)
  • 1/2 cup whole/shelled sunflower seeds (raw/organic)
  • 3 tbs flax seeds
What You Do:
  • Beat honey and butter together; add eggs and beat well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and ground seeds. Add the honey, butter and egg mixture. Add the milk, and mix well. *At this point, I realize my batter was not as thick and is should be, and added a few tablespoons more flour*
  • Fold the whole sunflower seeds and flax seeds into the dough, and pour the dough into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle a few extra flax and sunflower seeds on top of the dough.
  • Bake for ~60 minutes at 325 degrees, covering the top of the loaf with foil if necessary for the last 15 minutes.
  • Cool on a rack for ~15 minutes, then removed loaf from pan.

Banana, Wild Blueberry & Walnut Bread

I made this bread to bring along to a birthday party at a neighbor's house. It was a big hit - nothing but crumbs left in the bottom of the pan! The recipe is modified from a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook to add the blueberries and make it a little healthier.

What You Need:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (organic sea salt)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • splash of vanilla extract (not in original recipe, but I add to almost all dessert baked goods)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (cage free, vegetarian fed)
  • 1.5 cups combined mashed ripe banana (organic) and wild blueberries (try Wyman's frozen)
  • 1 cup sugar (Florida Crystals Natural Cane Sugar)
  • 1 single serving container organic vanilla yogurt (substituted for 1/2 cup oil or melted butter)
  • ~1/3 cup chopped walnuts
What You Do:
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, banana, blueberries, sugar, yogurt and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in walnuts.
  • Spoon batter into a glass loaf pan that has been greased on bottom and sides (to do this, I usually spread a little vegan butter around the pan using a napkin or paper towel).
  • Sprinkle a few more chopped walnuts over the top of the batter, along with a pinch more of sugar before putting in oven to bake.
  • Bake ~60 minutes at 350 degrees - check by inserting a wooden toothpick to the center to see if it's finished. Toothpick should come out clean. If needed, cover the top of the loaf with foil for the last 15 minutes so it does not get too brown.
  • When finished, cool loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan OR transport in pan. Cut & serve directly out of pan when you're at your destination.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diner Dinner

Call me late to the party, but I just made my first ever (successful!) omelet! Oh's delicious! I've tried many a time to create one of these delicious egg dishes at home, but ended up with a scrambled mess. Recently a neighbor and I walked to a local cafe, where there is counter seating and an open kitchen. I took advantage of my perch and watched the chef whip up an omelet on the grill. I saw as he quickly scraped the sides up to make a barrier with the cooked edges so that the center could cook without oozing all over the place. Then he added his ingredients, folded, cooked some more and served. So that's what I did tonight.

For my omelet, I used two eggs from free range/vegetarian-fed chickens, red pepper, broccoli and shredded Mexican cheese. I made a side of guacamole with 1 avocado, a couple slices of onion, 1/2 a Roma tomato and multigrain tortilla chips. It's a healthier alternative to going full-out diner with the menu. Deeeeelicious!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I made some delicious guacamole to share with my neighbors this afternoon, but we ate it all before I bothered to take a picture ;) This recipe was enough for 5 or 6 people to pick at while eating dinner.

What You Need:
  • 3-4 ripe avocados
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Tomato

What You Do:
  • Peel the avocados and cut away from the pit - add to a large mixing bowl. Some of my avocados weren't ripe enough to easily mash with a slotted spoon, so I took out the mixer. It made the avocado really fluffy, which everyone liked.
  • Dice as much onion, tomato and pepper as you want for the taste.
  • Add a small amount of diced cilantro.
  • Stir it all together.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Live Pura Vida

I've spent 10 days of the last 2 weeks living and working in Costa Rica. It was the second time I've taken this trip, and I felt like I was home. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and the food is delicious. There are so many fresh, tropical fruits to enjoy and a rich, local cuisine.

A staple of just about every meal in Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto, or rice and beans. Most commonly used are dried black beans, although another variation is made in red beans and cooked in pipa water, or coconut milk.

What You Need:

Dried Black Beans - 1/2 cup
White or Brown Rice (not instant) - 1 cup
White Onion
Garlic (1-2 cloves)
Red or Green Bell Pepper
Fresh Cilantro (optional)
Cooking Oil

What You Do:
  • Early Prep: Rinse black beans, put in a bowl and cover with water. Throw away any beans that float, and let the rest soak about 8 hours, then drain.
  • Pour enough oil in a very large frying pan to almost cover the bottom
  • Add uncooked rice and saute about 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic - as much as you want to add as much flavor as you want (I used 1/2 a medium onion).
  • Add the soaked and drained beans, the cilantro, the chopped pepper and 2-3 cups of water.
  • Cover the pan and cook until both the rice and beans are tender (up to an hour).
  • After the rice and beans are cooked and all the water has cooked out, add salt to taste.
Other Variations: Use your leftover Gallo Pinto for breakfast by scrambling eggs and reheating the rice and beans in the frying pan with the scrambled eggs. A side of "french toast" is also typical, although it's not prepared with thick bread as we would. Fresh fruit or slices of fresh avocado are also complimentary at any meal. For dinners, add a side of salad made with shredded cabbage, tomato, cucumber and avocado with a very light dressing.