Saturday, May 28, 2011

Waffles, and pancakes, and toast...OH MY!

It's no!  I try not to eat too many refined carbs/grains, and most of the time I make an attempt to keep gluten out of my diet.  But, there's just something about a good, hearty plateful of some of my favorite "breakfast" indulgences (I use the term breakfast lightly, as I enjoy some of these foods at any time of day).  Crispy waffles are my favorite.  Fluffy pancakes run a close second.  Also making the list:  "buttery" biscuits, crispy toast, and a variety of fill-your-tummy muffins.  Alright,  now my mouth is watering.

Food porn.  Of course, you know I took this off the web...
While it's rare that I indulge in such a treat as a giant stack of flapjacks or waffles, I try to make the whole experience as joyful and interesting as possible, while still keeping the "health factor" somewhat in check.  Now, I like some Earth Balance just as much as the next person.  Maple syrup?  LOVE IT!  I wanna drench my waffles in it, and let it sink into each and every little square bowl (made just for this purpose, I'm convinced) on the surface.  But let's face it, the treat here is the waffle (or pancake).  And as good as it tastes going down, I'm probably going to wish I'd cut back just a little once it all settles.  I figured I can save the extra oil and sugar for something else tasty and get creative with some delicious and healthy breakfast treat toppings.

Damn, I wish this was my pic.
When I got these wonderful Van's goodies to try out, I knew I wanted something light but delicious to top them with.  I came up with some pretty yummy concoctions, which are likely to become my go-to breakfast toppings.  Guilt-free brunch munching.  I can definitely get on board with that!

I am a "why girl".  If I'm going to change something, I want to know why it's a better choice.  So, before I get into the recipes (soon, I promise), I want to explain how these toppings are "guilt-free" in my book.

*Free of traditional refined sugars (aka:  white sugar, corn syrup, etc.) and cane sugar
*Low-glycemic sweeteners/sugar alternatives:  Both agave nectar and coconut nectar are low on the glycemic index scale, meaning they won't spike your blood sugar and are generally safer for those with diabetes and other sugar-related diet restrictions.  Click here to learn a bit about GI.  Here's a rough comparison:
   *Raw Agave nectar: 15-30 (low)
   *Coconut nectar:  35 (low)
   *Maple syrup:  54 (medium)
   *Raw honey: 30 (low) Note:  Honey is not a truly vegan choice.
   *Processed honey:  75 (high)
   *Refined cane sugar:  80 (high)
*The amount of sweetener used is minimal, and only used to sweeten and thicken the toppings.
*Whole fruits are perfect toppings for waffles and pancakes.  They will sweeten your meal naturally, and enough that you won't need a bunch of syrup.  They will also, bulk up your meal, helping you feel fuller without having to go for seconds.
*Vanilla adds flavor without adding sugar.
*Nut butters are whole foods, which have higher nutritional value and benefit than other fats (such as oils/butters).  They also add great and unique flavor.

Okay...are you convinced enough to at least try something different?  Good!  Then, on to the recipes!

Note:  All these recipes make enough to top about one waffle/pancake/biscuit or 2 pieces of toast.  Duplicate to suit your serving needs.

Warm Berry Compote

Obviously, this one's mine.  Not nearly as beautiful...but yummmmmy!

*1/2 c. fresh or frozen berries (any variety or mix)
*1/2 - 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar or agave syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

Warm sweetener in a small saucepan.  Add berries and cook until juices have extracted and begin to simmer.  Add vanilla and remove from heat as soon as sauce has thickened slightly.  Serve.

Candied Bananas and Coconut Sauce

"Candied Coconut Bananas" without the sauce.  The sauce is awesome, though.
*1 Tbsp. coconut nectar
*1/4 c. coconut milk
*1/2 banana, sliced
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat coconut nectar and coconut milk in medium saucepan/skillet.  Add sliced bananas in single layer.  Allow to simmer, flipping bananas once.  Sauce will begin to thicken.  Add vanilla and remove from heat.   

Bananas simmering in coconut smell gooooood!
Note:  You can also allow this mixture to continue cooking until thickened completely (will look slightly caramelized).  Also delicious, just less "saucy".

Raw Vanilla Nut Butter

See that round ball of almondy goodness?  That's the stuff!
This has so many great uses.  Of course, you can spread it on waffles, pancakes, biscuits, toast, etc.  It also makes a great filling in pitted dates for a great candy treat.  Or put it on top of a banana for added protein in your snack.  Get creative.  :-)

*1 Tbsp. raw, unsalted almond butter or other nut butter of choice
*dash Pink Himalayan Salt (omit if using salted nut butter)
*dash vanilla, to taste
*drizzle raw agave nectar or coconut nectar, to taste
*Opt:  pinch of cinnamon

Stir all ingredients together.  Adjust vanilla and sweetener to taste.

Note:  I have used raw almond butter and peanut butter for this recipe.  Other nut butters would be awesome as well.  I would love to try cashew butter and hazelnut butter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Preparing for a jump-start, some green stuff, and a little preview!

I remember being so excited to start my detox last summer.  I was so pumped about the whole idea, and it proved to be a great practice.  Teetering here on the edge of spring, counting down the days until summer vacation (33 school days left!), I am excited to do this gentle cleanse and jump-start my sunny, feel-good season!

Now, I know I'm not as prepared as I feel like I should be, but I am confident that I'll be able to get by pretty well tomorrow and Tuesday; then I can pick up anything I feel like I still need Tuesday evening.  That being said...the fridge is stocked with lots of fresh produce from my Green B.E.A.N. delivery on Friday and my visit to the IWFM on Saturday.

It's hard to tell from this pic...but there are lots of fresh, raw goodies in there!

Plus, I stopped at GM and got some great green stuff to add to my green smoothies... 

...and seeds/lentils are soaking up lots of water so I can sprout up a raw, green storm!
L-R:  Green Peas, Lentils, Mung Beans, Alfalfa

Tomorrow starts day one...and I'm confident that it will be a fantastic day!  How do I know?  Well, for starters, I plan on beginning the day with a fantastic green smoothie:

Pine-berry Green Smoothie

-1/4 - 1/2 c. fresh or frozen pineapple
-1/4 - 1/2 c. fresh or frozen strawberries
-1/4 c. fresh or frozen wild blueberries
-2 handfuls spinach 
-water to desired consistency
**Optional add-ins (any or all):  scoop of RAW Superfoods green powder, 1 Tbsp. spirulina, 1/2 banana, 1/2 avocado, chia seeds, flax seeds

Blend it all up and drink it down!

I'm also planning to have my favorite Big Apple Goddess Salad for lunch...YUM!

PLUS...coming your way tomorrow...RAW Cookie Dough Balls:  Snickerdoodle Edition!  Get stoked.  ;-)

Here's a little preview:

I have a problem with cinnamon...I LOVE IT!
Just couldn't resist!

This recipe, and more, coming very soon!  But it's way past my bedtime, and waking up with little sleep is not an ideal way to start a detox...or an 8-hour day with 20 kindergarteners, for that matter!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I can't believe my good fortune!

I found this great raw blog just in time for my cleanse next week...and my forthcoming, full-on detox this summer!  I love being on the raw diet; it makes me feel so super-fantastic!  Can't wait to do some more exploring on this blog.  Plus, she's doing a mega-awesome giveaway in honor of her blog's 1st birthday.  Check out the great prizes she's giving to three lucky readers.

Click here to see Better Raw's Healthy Hamper Blog's Birthday Giveaway!

Chilly Chili (raw)

If you're into raw food and have never heard of the Raw Foods Witch, I highly recommend checking her out.  She's a little...errrr...quirky, but has some fantastic tips, recipes, and videos.  When I did my first detox, I used a lot of her recipes.  The following is adapted from her "Hearty Raw Chili" recipe.

Note:  I don't do a lot of measuring, especially for raw dishes.  I really mostly just throw stuff in.  These measurements are rough estimates.

Chilly Chili

(pictures to come soon)
-1 c. broccoli, chipped
-2 bell peppers (mixed colors), chopped
-1 or 1 1/2 lg. tomato, diced
-1/2 sm. onion, diced
-1/2 tsp. chili powder
-1/2 - 1 tsp. cayenne (depending on how spicy you want it)
-1 tsp. coriander
-raw chili paste (see below)
-1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
Optional, but highly recommended:
-avocado, cubed
-mung bean sprouts

Raw Chili Paste
-3 dates, soaked
-1/2 sm. onion, chopped
For chili:
Place chopped broccoli, pepper, and onion in a large bowl and add spices.  Mix gently.  Add chili paste and season with salt; stir until well mixed.

Garnish with avocado cubes and a handful of bean sprouts.  Enjoy!

For raw chili paste:
Combine dates and onion in food processor.  Blend until they form a paste.

**Just a helpful tip:  This makes quite a bit of chili.  I usually put 1 c. portions into containers so I can grab and go for lunch.  I always stir in the avocado and bean sprouts when I am ready to eat (this keeps the avocado from getting brown and the bean sprouts from getting soggy).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Cleaning - Raw recipes coming soon!

This photo is not my handiwork - obviously!

I've decided to do a 2-week gentle raw cleanse, starting next week.  I would do a full-on detox, but with the demands of my job, it's just about impossible to do while school is in session.  Detox season begins once school is out!

Two of my good friends (Jacquie from That Damn Vegan, and Heather) will be joining me and are new to the raw cleanse process.  SO, I hope be posting lots of recipes that I have used during my cleanses/detoxes, and maybe inventing some new ones!  Some to look forward to:

*green smoothie combos
*kale chips
*raw chili
*raw oatmeal bowl
*prunana pudding
*lettuce wrap combos
*raw miso soup
*a new salad????
*raw desserts?????

The farmers' market was booming with new produce this past weekend, so I can't wait to see what new things I can pick up and experiment with next week!  If you're interested in raw or cleansing, please comment and I'll share some of the resources I've found helpful.  If there's a raw recipe you'd like to see, let me know and I'll try to find or come up with something!