Archive | October 2011

Healthier Candy Recipes

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I came across this great post from The Nourishing Gourmet.  A bunch of candy recipes with unrefined sweeteners!! I am soooo excited! I am not a huge candy fan. I don’t even crave it usually, but I grew up making candy at Christmas time with my mom. She is seriously a professional at it. She used to give classes to ladies in our church every year. So my kids have now been raised with me making candy. Since this was a our first year of eating whole foods we were all a little worried about what I was going to do about the Christmas candy. Here is my answer!! Yeah!

1. Mock Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: I created this recipe for my then 3-year-old daughter. They were an instant hit with both her and her friends.

2. The Easiest, Healthiest, Most Scrumptious Fudge Ever: The title says it all. This fudge is so much easier to make than traditional fudge and much healthier, too. I’ve made it with the more common sweetener, honey, with great results as well.

3. Nature’s Candy Bar (pictured at top): I called these Nature’s Candy Bar because they feature dates, which are rich in natural sugar. A chocolate coating doesn’t hurt either.

4. Candy Bar: This chocolate-covered candy bar looks amazing! I would recommend simply substituting the agave syrup in this recipe and the next with the less refined sweetener, honey.

5. Mock Mounds Bar: Mounds bars used to be my favorite candy bar. Now I can have a a healthier version guilt-free.

6. Cracker Toffee (pictured above): My daughter and I made this super easy recipe last year as part of our Christmas candy platter. They are rich, delicious and so easy.

7. Old-Fashioned Caramel Corn: I adapted my husband’s favorite caramel corn recipe from his younger years to only include unrefined sweeteners (no corn syrup here!) It is a certain favorite at parties.

8. Caramel Apples: This recipe uses cream and honey to create a rich caramel coating for apples. It’s perfect for this time of year.

9. Dairy-Free Caramel Apples: This recipe doesn’t use any dairy but a combination of honey and maple syrup. How delicious does that sound?

10. Honey-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nuts: These make a very special gift, and very yummy snacking.

11. Maple Magic Candy: All you need for this recipe is maple syrup. If you’ve ever had maple syrup candy before, you know how amazing it is.

12. Decadent Chocolate “Larabar” Truffles: (pictured above): These truffles were inspired by Larabars, but morphed into truffles; perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Gingerbread Pancakes with Fresh Applesauce

I am not a pancake lover. Never have been. They don’t keep me filled and the syrup always made my throat sore as a kid.  I love this recipe though!  I made these last year for a Thanksgiving breakfast with 40 of my family members. They all just loved it. So this year I decided to try to soak it.  It worked great, except it was a little hard to stir in all the spices this morning.

Gingerbread Pancakes with Fresh Applesauce

Mix the night before:
2 c whole wheat flour
2/3 yellow cornmeal (ground from popcorn)
1 1/2 c warm water
1 1/2 c homemade yogurt or sour cream
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
3 T molasses (I used sucanat today since I was out of molasses and it worked  just not as strong as a flavor)

Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit on counter for 12 -24 hours to reduce phytic acid. (Since I’m not a morning person I pre-measured everything else in a bowl except for the eggs and had it ready to dump in bowl in the morning.)

The next morning:
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp each: nutmeg, cinnamon, & ground cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 large eggs
1 tsp real vanilla
Wisk eggs and dump on top of soaked dough. Sprinkle the spices and powders over and stir well till all mixed it.  Since soaking reduces the gluten in the whole wheat flour if you over stir it will not make these tough like usual. So feel free to stir well.

Cook as normal on a hot griddle. Then serve with warm homemade apple sauce on top and fresh cream.  My kids still had a little maple syrup but you won’t need much with all the yummy apple sauce!!

This makes a lot but I love having extras to throw in the freezer and my kids pull them out and toast them for breakfast.

 

Spatzle (German Noodles)

Spätzle, hergestellt mit Spätzlehobel

Spatzle

I recently went to Germany and had the chance to experience real German Spatzle. I’ve been making them for years since my mother went in the early 90’s and I have to say I think I like my whole wheat version better.  This is great as a side or in Chicken Noodle soup with much less work.

If you don’t have a Spatzle Maker use a cheese grater with large holes and a tuna can with both ends taken off.

A "hopper" (hobel) type spätzle maker

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Spatzle

2 c whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
3/4 c whole milk
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, mix the eggs & milk together then add to flour and salt. Stir just till comes together as a soft almost runny dough.  Plop the dough into the plastic part of the spatzle maker or the tuna can that is on the cheese grater. Stradle the spatzle maker or cheese grater across the top of the pan and run the can across the top as the dough drops into the boiling water. It’s done as it floats to the top.

We eat this as a side dish with butter or you can fry it in onions, butter and Swiss or parmesan cheese. We also use these in homemade chicken noodle soup. So much faster than rolling out dough and cutting into noodles.

Hambone Soup

I’ve been sick for a week. My grandmother died and I had to drive 5 hours to her funeral and stayed up way too late for 3 nights talking with family. Needless to say I’m worn out. But my  mother graciously gave me the largest hambone I’ve ever seen. So before I crashed on the couch all day I made this yummy, comfort food.

Hambone Soup

You can use one hambone to make as large a pot of soup as you like. So double and freeze the leftovers for a cold winter night.

Cover your beans in warm water & soak for at least 7 hours to get rid of the phytic acid. If you don’t have time soak Boil 3 cups of water per 1 cup of white beans.  Bring the water to a boil then add your beans. Cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.  Then add 1 onion and any spices you like except the salt and cook for at least 2 hours but longer is better. You may have to keep adding water.

I cooked mine for 4-5 hours today and when I checked all the water was gone. I added more at the end and heated it up and all was still great.

At the end of the 2+ hours add salt and pepper to taste and pieces of ham. Remove the bone and with the back of the spoon smash some of the beans or use an immersion blender to blend just a little of the beans to thicken.  I served with a green salad and my homemade ketchup.  The ketchup gives a really nice flavor to the soup.

Organic Peanut Butter vs. Regular Peanut Butter

Well if you haven’t heard the peanut crop this year was really bad. The peanut farmers have decided to raise the price of peanuts 40% soon. This has put me into a frenzy to stock up on peanut butter.

I went to Costco to buy my favorite organic peanut butter and found out they no longer carry it!!! I was so upset and frustrated. Crazy that I get so upset over peanut butter .  But as I searched for replacement to the Kirkland brand peanut butter I only became more frustrated. I did find the Fred Meyer brand Organic peanut butter but it contained palm oil and sugar just like Jif or Skippy which are not healthy. Fred Meyer also makes a all natural peanut butter but it’s not organic but quite a bit cheaper.  I also found a organic peanut butter with only peanuts and salt from Azure Standard. It’s about $.20/oz compared to the all natural FM brand that is only $.13/oz.

So before I purchased anything I decided to research if organic peanut butter was necessary. Now I buy a lot of organic produce and I really believe it’s usually worth the extra price especially the fruits/veggies on the dirty dozen list. My grocery budget seems to be on the high side though so I am really wanting to cut corners where I can.  So here is what I found.

One source said that non-organic peanuts are rotated with cotton and the cotton is sprayed with pesticides then it seeps into the soil and onto the peanuts the next year. Yuck!

Another source which I can’t seem to find at the moment said to make sure you buy roasted peanuts or roast them yourself to kill the aflatoxins(mold) in them. Never use “make your own” grinders in stores as they can contain bacteria.  My sister has a juicer which she uses to maker her own peanut butter. Alas, I do not.

Another source claimed that organic peanuts have higher nutrients in them than non-organic peanuts.

So what is my decision? I think I will  go for the organic peanut butter and the little extra cost since the approach I take now is eat foods that nourish and heal or don’t eat it at all.

Mini Apple Pies

miniapplepies9smPhoto by Laura @ Heavenlyhomemakers.com

So I found this recipe at Heavenly Homemakers to use up all my apples! It didn’t use enough cause I still have 2 boxes in my garage! I think that next week I will cut and freeze them for later mini apple pies. Anyway. These were a lot of work but I think will be so wonderful to have in my freezer for later. I have to say I didn’t do her crust recipe. I had just rendered a bunch of leaf lard and wanted to use instead of butter. So here is the best pie crust recipe ever. It makes more crust than you need but if you double the apple filling it will be just right.

The “Only Pie Crust” by Amy Carter

5 c. whole wheat flour
2 c lard
2 tsp salt
2 eggyolks
1 T vinegar
rest of 1 c water

Cut lard into flour. I used my mixer. Put egg yolks and vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup and whisk. Then fill the rest of the cup with water. Stir quickly into the flour. Try not to over mix as the whole wheat flour can get tough.  This makes 2 double crust pies and 1 single crust pie. If you are  making large pies Bake the crust @ 425 degrees till light brown about 10 minutes.

For mini apple pies, separate dough into 21-24 pieces.
Roll each piece into a little circle with a rolling pen.
Squish (or place nicely) your dough circles into MUFFIN PANS.  Using a muffin pan for these Mini Apple Pies eliminates the need to go buy 24 little mini pie pans.

 

The following directions are for Mini Apple Pies:

Crust:

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 t. sea salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup plain yogurt

Stir ingredients together until thoroughly mixed.  Use the dough right away to create pockets or pies…or let the dough sit overnight on the countertop to break down the phytates and make the grains more digestible.  This dough is MUCH easier to work with if you work it like play dough in your hands a while before you try to roll it out.

Filling:

3 pounds of apples – about 11-12 smallish apples (any kind you like)
1/4 – 3/4 cup sucanat (your preference)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Peel apples and cut them into bite sized chunks. Add sucanat and cinnamon.  Stir well and cook over medium heat until apples are tender and a syrup has formed (about 10 minutes).  I didn’t do this. I forgot to cook the apples. I never do with large pies. But  my hubby ate one last night and said the apples were a little dry so this step might really help with that.  Fill each (unbaked) crust with apple pie filling.

Topping:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2-4 Tablespoons sucanat
3 Tablespoons melted butter

In a bowl, stir together topping ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened.
I find that melting the butter and stirring it into the flour, oats and sucanat makes a great crumb topping…much less effort than “cutting in the butter”. Sprinkle topping all over the top of your little pies. Freeze your pies in your buttered muffin pans for a couple of hours. Remove your muffin pans from the freezer and allow them to sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes.  Use a fork to gently pry the pies out of the pan.  Place them carefully into freezer bags and put them bag into the freezer.

To bake your Mini Apple Pies:

Take desired number of pies out of the freezer and place them on a baking pan.  Bake in a 375° oven for 35-45 minutes.  You can let them thaw first if you want…but I find that the frozen pies bake just fine!

 

And now I’d like to point out that (depending on how much you use) there is about 1/2 cup of sucanatdivided by 24 little pies…making this a very healthy, very low in sugar breakfast.

Caramel Apple Dip

I just canned 127 quarts of applesauce. Yummy but tiring! I still have more apples left. So I made caramel apple dip to have as a snack. This came from Heavenly Homemakers who I absolutely love! So the credit all goes to her. This was the easiest snack ever. It lasts a long time in the fridge too.

Caramel Apple Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sucanat
1/2 t.vanilla
Cream all ingredients together and serve with apple slices. Yum!