Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Almond-Quinoa Banana Muffins

Lately, I've been struggling with ideas for Elisabeth's breakfast. She's such a picky eater and only wants to eat finger foods so I've been exploring different healthy muffins and made her Almond-Quinoa Banana Muffins this week. She LOVED them! And did I mention she is a picky eater? So I thought I'd share the recipe. I took different elements from Veganomicon:The Ultimage Vegan Cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Quinoa Muffins to come up with this one:

1 cup vanilla hemp milk (or whole milk if you do dairy)
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar (I used turbanado sugar to make it a little
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup almond meal almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa
1 large egg
1 large banana

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil (I use a mini-muffin pan for Elisabeth to have bite size muffins); dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use (I've been having quinoa black bean burritos with mango pico de gallo and avocados for lunch - so yummy and healthy!).

3.In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups. I took the banana and cut it into slices and placed them in the middle of the batter in each muffin cup. Make sure you pour more on top of the slice so that it bakes in the middle of the muffin. When you bite into it, it's a nice gooey surprise :)

4.Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Veganomican uses 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 1/2 tsp of cardamom, while Martha Stewart's is pretty basic and doesn't use any of this... not even the almond meal. She does use raisins though but personally, I'm not a fan raisins. Plus, raisins may not be safe for Baby E as she might choke on one since they don't seem like they can be gummed (she only has her 2 bottom teeth).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Keyword: Challenge

Well, I have to say that the raw food challenge has been kind of tough lately. It takes some serious planning ahead and a strong will to stick to it completely. Last Sunday, I went to a raw food preparation class where raw foodie Christa Emrick hosted dinner and made delicious “fajitas”, sun “burgers”, kale chips, and a rich delicious blueberry “cheesecake.” It was all DELICIOUS! I loved it. I especially loved the part where I learned that if you are eating 80% raw, you are technically eating raw. I was thrilled… mostly relieved. But I also think this was part of my demise this past week. I will say, it was a busy week and I hardly had time to prepare anything. Not that eating raw takes a lot of time to prepare. It’s just that if you are going to eat anything interesting beyond fruits, veggies and salads in their simplest form, you have to take some time to soak, dehydrate or marinate. And by time, I mean hours, sometimes overnight. So you can’t always just decide to make an interesting dish at whim. Plus, the biggest challenge I have found about going raw is that it’s socially difficult. I love to eat out with friends and family and it’s really hard to find something on the menu that is completely raw. This is where the 80% rule really comes in handy.

So while I did pretty good the first 2 weeks on the raw diet and even lost a total of 6 pounds in those 2 weeks, the 3rd week went to hell in a hand basket thanks to client lunches, and running around like crazy preparing for baby E’s birthday bash. Not that I couldn’t have tried harder or ordered as close to raw as possible at lunch, but how can I not get something besides a salad at restaurants that aren’t really known for their salads and have so many other interesting and delicious things on the menu. So what I’ve learned so far is that while I think I’ve been able to benefit in so many ways from going raw the last few weeks, to take the plunge and actually go raw from here on out may not be for me. It’s not the same as going vegan or vegetarian; it’s a different commitment on a whole different level. I will definitely continue to try and eat raw when I have complete control but let’s face it, there are times when I need an out… especially for those times when I just want to indulge a little. So as go into my last week of my 30 day challenge, I’ve planned my meals and have done my shopping so back on the wagon I go.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's all about the Raw-riety

Today is Day 7 on the Raw Food diet and I have to say it's been quite a week - full of ups and downs. The first 4 days were amazing; I felt great and had so much energy, never felt tired or exhausted and I was down 4 pounds (10 more to go to be pre-baby weight). I had a green smoothie every day for breakfast and most days for dinner or a snack. In between I snacked on fruits and veggies, such as berries, apples, carrots and celery and for lunch, I would eat a salad with EVOO and some kind of citrus, like lime or lemon. (All I have to say is thank goodness EVOO is considered raw because you can do so much with it!) But by Friday, I was bored. I had 2 raw uncook books that I had ordered from Amazon but I hadn’t had time to really make a trip to Whole Foods or prepare anything in it. So when Travis and I had the afternoon off on Friday, I didn’t even bother asking him where he wanted to go for lunch; I told him “Let’s go to Green; I need to eat something besides a salad.” Green has an amazingly good raw wrap with some kind of pecan hummus that is so good. Even if you aren’t a raw foodie, it’s worth a try.

Saturday morning, I ran 4 miles and didn’t get home fast enough afterwards to have my green smoothie for breakfast (long story that involves attempting to rescue a dog that didn’t want to be rescued). As a result, I wasn’t exactly ravishing but I could tell my body needed something and when I did finally have my green smoothie, it didn’t satisfy me the way it usually does. I ate a berry salad for lunch and snacked on some veggies and olives at a pool party later that day but I still didn’t feel as great as I did all the other days. Around 6 pm, I was starving and usually by this time, we are at a place like Bigz enjoying some portabella burgers, a pitcher of beer and Elisabeth playing on the lawn with the other kids. So I said screw it, let’s go, which we did… and so did my raw diet.

As soon as I had that burger, I felt guilty; like I had failed, and gave into a moment of weakness that could’ve been avoided with a little better planning. So this week, I have a raw strategy. I made a calendar with every meal I’ll be having this week, made a list and went to Whole Foods AND Central Market to make sure I had everything (although I inevitably forgot a few things on my list; but hey, that’s what happens when you go with your 11.5 month old baby). Here are a few things on the menu this week:

Veggie Sandwich
Sweet Corn Chowder
Meditteranean wrap with red pepper hummus (bean free)
Fruit Parfait

These are all from the recipe book, Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. All her recipes are so easy and so far… delicious. Plus, she herself lost 15 pounds in the first month of going raw (very motivating for me since that's exactly what I need to lose to be back to pre-baby weight). I already made her Black Sesame Sunflower Bread and her Taco Nut Meat, both of which were very tasty. I'll keep you posted on how the dishes above fair. And I'll also be researching what is best to eat pre and post run on a raw food diet. Stay tuned my friends.

30 Day Raw Challenge

I decided to try a 30 day raw diet. I've always been heard about the wonderful health benefits and I became more and more curious when I read Victoria Boutenko's book Green For Life so I decided to order her book Green Smoothie Revolution , bought a Breville power blender off Craigslist and started there. The Green Smoothies were delicious and included greens such as beet tops and kale. A few months into green smoothie making, my curiosity grew further so I decided to reconnect with an old running buddy, Serena. She is the one that actually turned me on to going vegan a few years ago and right as I had become vegan, she had gone raw. So she had me over for a raw dinner and a raw movie - Raw for 30 days , which is about how 5 people who were able to reverse diabetes by going on a raw food diet for (you guessed it) 30 days.

I quickly learned about the amazing health benefits and thought, I should try this… at least for 30 days and see what happens. I’m not diabetic and really don’t have any health issues. I recently had blood work done and the only thing that came back deficient was my Vitamin D levels, but it’s nothing a little time out at the pool, in the sun can’t fix. But can you imagine what a raw diet can do for an already healthy person in 30 days if it can reverse chronically ill people in that time? So over the next few days and weeks, I’ll be documenting my experience on this diet and invite you to comment or just give your support. If anything, maybe it’ll inspire change in someone out there wondering how to heal a nagging illness or just eat a little healthier. After all, every little bit counts.