quinoa leek burger

a simple weekday recipe for all my gluten and dairy free peeps :)

image

ingredients

2 large organic eggs

1/2 can chickpeas

1/2 cup quinoa

2 medium zucchinis

4 leeks (white part only)

2 cloves garlic

sea salt

black pepper

prep work

make some quinoa

grate 2 zucchinis over a paper towel. squeeze out excess water

rinse and finely chop leeks

sautee leeks with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and salt until caramelized 

rinse 1/2 can of organic chick peas and mash

method

in a large bowl combine quinoa, grated zucchini, sauteed leeks, 2 eggs, and mashed chic peas. season with sea salt and black pepper. spray a muffin tin and scoop some of the mixture into each muffin opening. cook on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden. 

serve burger over salad or with mayo and sriracha sauce in an ezekiel wrap. my kids eat them plain and LOVE them. 

enjoy. 

xx, 

gourMaya

Peachy. Spicy. Fizzy.

It’s those last days of summer where the days start to get a little shorter, the air a little cooler and that autumn breeze rears it’s head in the evening hours letting us all know that summer will soon come to an end. Bittersweet, indeed but the silver lining, for me at least, is that I have lots of extra excuses to cram in all the summer activities that I have been wanting to do with my kids. My two older kids are done with camp and mommy camp is now in full swing!

 When my kids are home from their usual structured environment it seems that every hour is snack time.

Fresh fruit is always an easy go-to for me and we go through it so quickly that trips to the market happen very often. So, bright and early Sunday morning we took a trip to the farmers market to pick up a new batch of local organic fruits and veggies. Amèlie has become truly obsessed with peaches these last few weeks and I must say the end of summer peaches here in NY are incredible! I let her pick out the ones she wanted and she insisted on holding them all in her hand (even in the car) until we got home (I’ve learned to pick my battles!)

  

We had so many beautiful peaches and since it was still early enough for brunch (our favorite meal of the week!) I whipped up my own little take on the Bellini. A refreshing summer treat (for the adults only!) using some of my favorite things: fresh mint, delicious peaches, good (strong) vodka, and some SodaStream sparkling water lightly sweetened with Apple/Peach flavoring from the new FREE line of flavors.

 

Gourmaya Bellini

Makes two drinks

1 shot of good vodka

1 fresh organic peach (quartered)

Fresh Mint

SodaStream Apple/Peach flavored sparkling water 

Add the peaches and mint to a cocktail shaker or mason jar

Muddle together at the bottom until a purée is created

Add the vodka and a few cubes of ice.

Shake.

Strain the mixture into two cups and top with the flavored Soda Stream water.

Garnish with mint

 This was so refreshing! Especially when enjoyed al fresco on a gorgeous summer morning!

 

While sitting on our deck the kids kept asking us for “just one sip” so I had to come up with something delicious and refreshing for them too. I have an arsenal of healthy snack ideas, as those who follow my blog know, but somehow when it’s hot out the only snacks my kids are interested in are ice cream and ices…and I don’t blame them but I also can’t indulge them every single time!

Since my kids love sparkling water (they call it “spicy water”) I ran inside and threw together a fun (non-alcoholic) concoction which they loved using my Soda Stream source machine.

Raspberry coolers (for kids!)

Make one whole bottle of SodaStream sparkling water

Add in 1 TBSPN of Soda Stream FREE raspberry/cranberry flavoring

Throw in fresh organic raspberries

 Garnish with mint

 

My kids loved this and as someone who is constantly trying to limit their sugar intake and increase their fluid intake this was the perfect “snack.” SodaStream Free flavors are lightly sweetened using fructose which is a natural simple sugar found in fruits, honey, and vegetables. I try to avoid refined sugars wherever possible so this was the perfect sweet treat to share with my kids. We paired it with dried mulberries, our current super food obsession, and everyone was happy. As Amèlie put it “Mommy this spicy water is making my nose laugh.”

 Enjoy these last weeks of warm weather!

 Eat lots of peaches. Stay hydrated. Stay spicy. And. Don’t forget to make your nose laugh :)

 Xx,

GourMaya

check out my feature on the Sodastream recipe blog here

Baby Formula - finding the next ‘breast’ thing

It’s hard to believe that my sweet baby boy turned 6 months old this past week. Time flies when you are raising young kids and it seems to speed up progressively as you have subsequent children. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in a day to do all of the things you want to do. For me, one of those things has been sitting down to write this blog post.

When I was pregnant, uncomfortable, and tossing and turning in my sleep each night,  I would always find my mind wandering to the challenges I would face when returning to work. I did it with one, I did it with two, but something told me that three kids was a different ballgame- and all the help in the world wouldn’t change the reality that mommy is just one person. It stressed me out to think about all of the details that go into my daily routine, especially the biggest stressor of all- FOOD. To me, another mouth to feed means another mouth to feed clean and nutritious food. What will baby eat when breastfeeding is no longer an option?

I know I have posted about baby formula in the past- at the time that thought pattern felt like a good and well thought out decision. Like most of the moms I know I’ve usually made decisions based on conversations with one or two trusted physicians supplemented by my own research. Something told me that this topic would require a lot of research and that I was on my own to make the right decision for my (unborn) babe.

Today I want to share where about 10-20 hours of research led me. And since it took me so long to put my thoughts down I can also talk about results.

To be concise, here is a summary of the issues I found with almost every single formula in the US:

  • The first ingredient in every American formula is sugar, sometimes in the form of high fructose corn syrup (the worst) or brown rice syrup (best case, ie: Earth’s Best) but nevertheless the first ingredient
  • Even the organic formulas contained GMO ingredients such as soy and corn
  • Most American formulas pride themselves on adding DHA/ARA to the formula. This idea is a good one and the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages it, but doesn’t take into account the process for deriving these supplements. Most times the DHA/ARA are derived from algae/fungus using a dangerous substance called hexane or bleach. Trace amounts of these substances were found in every formula using this process (I will make note of the exceptions below), not  to mention the algae/fungus is GMO.

 Once I discovered these facts, I started looking long and hard into the ingredient list of every formula- what stumped me was that every US formula had an ingredient label filled with chemical jargon I could not pronounce, let alone comprehend. I learned that there is no FDA approval for formulas- simply guidelines. This creates an industry that is not regulated but has to abide by a completely arbitrary set of parameters. I refuse to believe that any educated person WANTS to feed babies GMO’s, sugar and dangerous chemicals from birth but at the end of the day this is America and capitalism always wins. The baby industry is a huge money maker and anything that can increase margins will surely supersede any other motive. Most moms (myself included) trust blindly when it comes to certain aspects of “what is acceptable” and this is where it gets dangerous. Yes, most children grow up fine, but have you ever wondered why allergies and GI issues are on the rise? Could early nutrition be the cause? I don’t know these answers but as a mom of one child with food allergies and another with terrible acid reflux my gut told me there is more conscience choice out there for baby formula and I was determined to find it.

About 3/4 of the way through my research  I came across a formula called “Baby’s Only.” For a while this was the route I was pretty sure I would take. A small, under the radar formula brand known for non GMO, clean ingredients and DHA/ARA derived from egg yolks (not algae) using a conscience method (not hexane or bleach), no corn syrup or corn ingredients, USDA organic, and brown rice syrup (over sugar) used as a carbohydrate. Since this formula is marketed as toddler formula (in order to promote breast feeding in year one) I even brought the list of ingredients to my pediatrician and he gave it the green light. 

I was almost sold on Baby’s Only, but was still not happy about the high sugar levels. Additionally most of the reviews I was reading had a common theme, this formula was notorious for causing constipation. I was still not satisfied.

I started looking at some international blogs, because I was interested in the standards other countries had for baby formula. The baby formula incident in the US a few years ago really freaked me out and I was curious if other countries had stricter controls in place  to ensure a higher quality of some type of consistency.

I came across a few mommy bloggers who made their own formula. Im pretty ambitious but I knew that was not for me…

In looking into the UK formula standards I stumbled upon HIPP Organic Combiotic Formula- this would ultimately be the one.

 image

HIPP is made in Germany and adheres the strict EU requirements for baby formula. The first ingredient is skimmed organic milk. The ingredients are few and sugar is not one of them. None of the ingredients are GMO. The taste is great- no rusty or fishy smell, very soluble and easy to mix. Plus the ingredients contains no controversial chemicals like hexane or arsenic. Lactose is used to sweeten instead of syrup (corn or rice syrup are what is usually found in leading US brands). HIPP comes in 3 different stages based on your baby’s age; like breast milk the composition changes as your baby grows.

This got the stamp of approval from my pediatrician, herbalist, and chiropractor, and most of all from little Asher Grey.

image

Of course every rose has it’s thorns. HIPP comes with its own set of logistical challenges. While it is now available on Amazon (thank GOD for Amazon!) with free shipping it does come from the UK and takes about three weeks to arrive. I learned the hard way to always stock up because I was left rationing out the scoops at one point, when the mail was slow and we had one box left!  But that aside, it is truly the perfect food for little Asher. It even has many different pre and probiotic strains which is so important for digestive health. Not to get gross, but for me the  best measure for how similar this product is to breast milk is the fact that Asher’s poop didn’t really change color or consistency when switching over from breast milk. He has now been on it for two months and still has that delicious baby scent (that can sometimes disappear or change when switching to formula). He is as happy as can be and so am I.

It goes without saying that “breast is best”- I wish I could breastfeed my babies for the whole first year but each mother needs to know what  her body will allow, what kind of  supply  she can produce and most importantly what her lifestyle will enable. For the moms out there who breastfeed for one or two full years, a BIG kudos to you. Keep going strong! But, if you ever need to give even one bottle of formula a day- I hope the info provided here is useful- it certainly is the next ‘breast’ thing.

HIPP hip hooray!

 xx, 

gourMaya 

for more information check out www.hipp.com

flourless superfood mini-crepes…and oh yea, i’m back!

image

hey there. it’s been some time since i last blogged. it’s been an exciting and crazy time for me and my family these past few month and blogging had to take a bit of a backseat, but i’m back and feeling inspired to share some great new recipes and also some VERY exciting things i have been working on. stay tuned!

in the meantime, i wanted to share this fabulous recipe i recently tried. we were on a family trip to miami and during a visit to a dear friend she brought out a platter of the cutest little pancakes i ever did see- after one bite, i was smitten. then after hearing the ingredients, i was really in love!

one of the perks of being known as somewhat of a “healthy foodie” among my peers is that everyone is constantly telling me about their adventures in healthy eating. i love hearing about people’s “aha” moments when it comes to eating clean and exploring new and delicious foods. i’m so happy my friend introduced me to these because we’ve got lots of new gluten and dairy sensitivities that i am trying to work around at home (will get into that in some future posts) and this is a perfect simple g-free, dairy free, superfood infused breakfast item that will definitely be added to the repertoire. i made them extra extra thin (crepe-like) and mini (for fun).

and so without further adieu:

SUPERFOOD FLOURLESS MINI-CREPES

INGREDIENTS

4 large organic eggs

2 ripe bananas

2 TBSPN almond butter or sunflower seed butter

2 TBSPN coconut oil

3 TBSPN chia seeds 

METHOD

in a large mixing bowl smash the banana until an almost liquid-y texture is achieved. crack in the eggs and whisk them with the banana using a wire whisk. one by one add the rest of the ingredients whisking the whole way through to maintain a smooth texture with no lumps. let the mixture sit for 15/20 minutes in order to allow the chia to do its job. since chia is a gelling agent the seeds begin the puff up and act almost like oil gelling everything together!

spray a large pan with coconut oil spray (my latest obsession from trader joe’s) and slowly pour in small dollops of the mixture around the pan creating mini and extra thin crepe like pancakes. leave them in for 2/3 minutes on the first side and less than one minute on the other side for a perfect golden brown color. 

VARIATIONS

feel free to add in mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut or even frozen blueberries, or serve crepe-style with nutella, almond butter or even apple sauce. 

the reason that this recipe excites me is because it has a little bit of a lot of good things. protein (from the eggs and  nut butter), omega 3’s (from the chia), potassium (from the banana), and essential fats (from the coconut oil). please refer to the hyperlinks for the benefits of each of these superfoods as noted in prior posts. 

oh…and did i mention it’s kosher for passover? how apropos? that’s the g-free part by the way- no FLOUR- yay passover! (sorta..)

can you believe it’s that time of year again?

a great opportunity to clean out our homes and re-organize our lives for spring. every year i clean out my pantries with the intention of bringing in only healthy, clean foods after the holiday is over. a great time to rid our homes and bodies of non organic foods, GMO’s and the rest of the processed junk that lingers close by all year long. 

i am looking forward to blogging more frequently.

as always, requests can be sent to gourmaya@gmail.com

xx, 

gourMaya 

homemade trail mix

image

usually when i come up with a new recipe and subsequently write a blog post, i am inspired by something going on with one of my kids. in this weeks story oliver recently started camp and with camp come long bus rides. in my mind bus rides equal two things; curse words and junk food. yes, i am probably being a little dramatic but this is oliver’s first bus experience so i am keeping a close eye on both things. so far, no potty language has emerged so we are clear on that front. surprisingly, i don’t think he has eaten much junk either but he did tell me that one boy shared his chex trail mix and that it was so yummy. quote “SOOO yummy.”

considering i rarely buy cereal, buying pre-packaged (read: processed, overly salted, chemical filled) trail mix is out of the question so i explained to O that trail mix is only yummy because it is a great mix of crunchy, salty, sweet and tart snacks and that we could come up with our own version.  

i went to the health food store and got about 10-15 items that could work for our trail mix taste test and oliver made the final decision. this recipe is all courtesy of my 4 1/2 year old, so i am pretty proud of it, and must say it is quite good. 

all you need is an extra large mason ball jar and some measuring cups. 

we used equal parts of all of the following;

TART

dried cherries- make sure they are not sweetened with any added sugar. i usually get mine from fairway or the health food store. a perfect sweet and sour kick for your palate. 

SWEET

mini chocolate chips- i like “enjoy life” brand because they are soy and dairy free and made with real high quality chocolate. they also make mini chocolate chunks which really meant for baking but can be used here as well. 

raisins- we used three kinds in our mix; regular, golden and zante currants. they each have a slightly different taste and sweetness and add fun color and texture, plus my kids are both raisin monsters. 

CRUNCHY

it has taken me a while to find cereal i am okay with. the litmus test is 3 or less ingredients and no added sugar. ironically both of the cereals i like are O’s, which oliver loves too :) 

cascadian farms O’s - this is the healthy version of cheerios. 

cracklin’ oat bran- flattened out oat squares with round whole in the middle. absolutely delicious in yogurt, on its own or in this trail mix. oliver said its his favorite part

SALTY

whole wheat pretzels- i found salted whole wheat pretzel nuggets at trader joe’s that i love. snyders also makes whole wheat pretzels that are great but they only come as long sticks so would need to be broken up for this mix. i also like flat pretzel chips and they can work in this mix. these add the perfect salty kick. 

feel free to get creative with ingredients! this mason jar will be the gift that keeps on giving. i reach in every day as this is a staple item in oliver’s lunchbox and amelie loves it as a snack. 

(not gonna lie- i also pack a ziplock for myself at work :) ) 

stay cool in this ridiculous heat wave people!

xx, 

gourMaya 

image

patriotic muffins

recently, i got gifted a great cookbook for my birthday (thanks DKL!)- “it’s all good” by gwynyth paltrow and julia turshen. i love every recipe on every page, particularly because the philosophy behind many of the recipes was inspired by alejandro jungers “clean gut” movement which i am reading at the moment and very into. 

we are spending the summer at the beach and between the kids, company and a very busy house, i am making various types of muffins and cakes for everyone to nosh on constantly (sometimes more than once a day!). 

i was getting bored of my banana and zucchini muffins and wanted to try something new. this recipe from “it’s all good” has been a HUGE hit. they are called sweet potato and five spice muffins. i was excited to try them- what’s more american than sweet potato? these were perfect for the 4th of july (and i’m dorky like that). i had limited spices with me when making these so i substituted the five spices for just one; cinnamon. sweet potato and cinnamon- thanksgiving on july 4th! yay uncle sam!

they can be found on page 41 or here is my modified version below: 

image

1 large sweet potato 

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup unsweetned coconut milk 

3/4 cup high quality maple syrup

1 tsp pur vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

a handful of oats for sprinkling

METHOD: preheat oven to 400 degrees. prick sweet potato with a fork and cover with tin foil. bake for about one hour until soft inside. once cooled, scoop out the inside and add to a bowl with the olive oil, vanilla and coconut milk- whisk very well until smooth. in a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients. fold dry into wet and mix well. pour into a greased muffin tin and sprinkle the top with old fashioned oats. bake at 350 for 25/30 minutes. 

these are a great vegan snack or breakfast item. they contain no dairy, refined sugar or processed flour. gourmaya approved in a big way. 

here are some of my favorite (patriotic) shots from this weekend:

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

hope everyone had a great 4th!

happy summer!

xx,

gourMaya  

banana bread + the art of modifying recipes

image

my friend joanna and i are always exchanging healthy recipes and have a constant back and forth dialogue about how to change the recipes we know and love to make them clean and healthy. in fact, it isn’t uncommon for me to receive a photo and text message to the effect of “does this look too watery? what should i add?” we probably both wing it more than most people when it comes to baking (isn’t baking an exact science?) and sometimes we fail miserably but more often than not, good recipes are born. in this case, a great one. 

while not every recipe can be modified and still taste as good, i have pretty much made the below adjustments to most of my baking recipes and they work!

here is a cheat sheet:

FLOUR:

- white flour can be subbed for white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour on a 1:1 basis in muffins and cakes. even though it is a bit heavier than white flour, it still works. 

- for bread, try subbing out white flour with with the following rule of thumb. 1/2 whole wheat + 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3 of any non gluten flour of your choice (ie: oat, quinoa, coconut, almond flour, etc, etc, etc). since the whole wheat is so heavy, you use the other flours to lighten up the recipe, because afterall even healthy bread should be fluffy (thanks for teaching me this ale!) 

SWEETENER: 

- not even going to pretend to tackle this one on my own. i have been using this helpful conversion tool i found online that helps you convert sugar to maple syrup, honey, molasses, coconut sugar, and agave. you put in the exact amount of sugar the recipe calls for and it will tell you the  conversion in tsps, tbspns, grams, ounces, or cups. once you’ve used it a few times you will get the hang of it. typically a liquid sweetener is much sweeter so for example i always put one cup of honey instead of two cups of sugar but since you have now increased the liquid in the recipe i also usually add in two or three TBSPNs of additional flour to absorb the liquid. there isn’t an exact science but just keep in mind you always need to offset the extra liquid with some additional dry ingredients (ie: flour, rolled oats, quinoa flakes, etc.)

OIL:

i have pretty much reverted to using coconut oil exclusively in baking. unlike most plant oils, it doesn’t form trans-fatty acids when warmed up to high temperatures. i still use olive, grape seed and other oils in raw foods (ie: salad) but for baking coconut is my oil of preference.you can sub this 1:1 for plant oils in baking recipes it definitely adds an extra step to the mix since coconut oil is a solid at room temperature and needs to be heated up in order to become liquid (and usable in a recipe). 

here’s a tip on using coconut oil: i buy the large tub of coconut oil from costco. as soon as i get home i put it somewhere warm so it turn into a liquid. i then transfer it into a huge mason jar ( since the plastic coconut oil container is probably not BPA free and all that heating and re-heating can release all kinds of uncool stuff into the oil). i then store it in my pantry which is nice and cool. in advance of baking, i stick the mason jar in a shallow pot with roughly a cup of water and turn on a low flame. in no time there is enough coconut oil turning to liquid to use in a recipe. you can then stick it right back in the pantry and repeat the process as needed. 

VARIABLES:

even when recipes don’t call for certain things, you can always pick a few of the below and add them in for fun. it won’t alter the recipe unless you put in too many of the below or choose things that just don’t go together taste-wise. use your judgement and  here are some very loose guidelines:

- a cup or two of rolled oats

- a few TBSPN’S quinoa flakes

- a few TBSPN cacao nibs

- a few TBSPN mini chcolate chips

- a few TBSPN carrob chips

no more than 1/2 tsp vanilla powder 

- two TBSPN mesquite powder (in chocolaty recipes) 

- up to 1/8 of a cup raw hemp seeds

- 2 to 3 TBSPN chia seeds

- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes

- up to one cup puffed quinoa (for crunch) 

- the rind of one lemon or orange

- fresh mint 

- a few TBSPNs of crushed dried lavender or chamomile

and…here is a great example of how jo and i incorporated some of the above modifications into a recipe she found online. the original recipe can be found here, from the blog “anecdotes and applecores.”  it was pretty healthy to begin with, but with our tweaks (mainly subbing out refined flour and oil) it turned into a clean, dairy free, super food infused extravaganza. 

BANANA BREAD 

1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour 

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder 

4 very ripe bananas

2 eggs

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil

3 TBSPN raw hemp seed

some loose oats for sprinkling

METHOD:

STEP ONE: preheat oven to 350 F

STEP TWO: grease an 8x8 inch pan

STEP THREE: in one bowl mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and vanilla powder)

STEP FOUR: in a second bowl start by mashing the four ripe bananas with a wire whisk until very mushy, then add in maple syrup, eggs, and coconut oil. keep whisking. 

STEP FIVE: pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and combine well. fold in the hemp seeds. 

STEP SIX: transfer to the baking pan. sprinkle rolled outs and raw hemp seeds on top and bake for about 40 minutes. 

cool and serve. 

this entire loaf lasted about five minutes in my house.i had to make two in one day :)

enjoy!

xx, 

gourMaya (and jo!) 

a more highbrow way to eat a reese’s

not going to bore everyone with another tirade about the harmful effects of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) since i did that earlier this week (here), but i will just kindly point out that all of the chocolate bars we all know and love (snickers, twix, york peppermint patties, hershey kisses, etc, etc, etc) all contain high fructose corn syrup.

these are usually quick and easy impulse snacks that are purchased on a whim, at the pharmacy, subway platform or eaten at a co-workers desk (and that i have definitely been guilty of :) thats for you JL and BP).

my personal favorite of this genre has always been reese’s peanut butter cups. however my family’s strong peanut allergies coupled with my aversion of HFCS have made these a no go. so i re-created them here, with sugar free, high quality chocolate, super-foods, and “free-nut butter” (aka not peanut butter if allergies are a concern).

image

clean “peanut” butter cups

two 3.5 once bars of your favorite high quality chocolate*

1/8 cup peanut, sunflower seed or almond butter

2 TBSPN chia seed

3 TBSPN raw hemp seed

3 TBSPN puffed quinoa (optional)**

a handful of raw sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (optional)

METHOD

STEP ONE: over a double boiler melt your chocolate until smooth, let it cool for several minutes

image

STEP TWO: with a slanted spoon mix in peanut or sunbutter (your choice) until fully combined. slowly mix in chia seeds, hemp seeds, puffed quinoa, and raw seeds.

image

STEP THREE: once the mixture is super-food infused and ready to rock, transfer to a mini muffin tin. garnish the top with leftover seeds and nuts

image

STEP FOUR: refrigerate for at least 2 hours. remove from muffin tin and keep in freezer. serve for dessert or snack time.

NOTES:

* you can either use semi sweet chocolate. i like scharffen bergers 62% cocoa. i have also recently discovered this sugar free milk chocolate by torino that is amazing. it does contain a hazelnut filling so doesnt really need the addition of a nut butter. it only has 2grams of added sugar though…and no corn products.

any chocolate you select should be fine, just keep an eye on sugar and ingredients to make sure it doesn’t have HFCS.

image

image

** puffed quinoa is pretty hard to find. even my natural food store that has every variety of quinoa and super food imaginable only stocks it by special order. if you are able to find it though, it is a great and very crunchy addition to this recipe.

i told you there was a better way to eat a reese’s.

image

xx,

gourMaya

pretzels for dinnner?

image

as of late, oliver has been showing some great distaste for certain dinners that used to be my go-to meals. for some reason red meat and chicken gross him out and he has been liking fish less and less. while i wish he would eat these foods, i do believe that some people are vegetarians by nature so i try not to force him. i don’t know if this is a stage, pickiness, or if he really is a vegetarian but while i figure that out i have been desperately trying to get protein in anywhere i can. lots of omlette’s and hard boiled eggs are being had as well as lentils and beans. 

this said, i was convinced that his aversion did not apply to fish so i tried to do a little bit of deceptive cooking last week. when oliver asked “whats for dinner”- i said, “pretzels!” the look on his face was priceless and i think this is probably his favorite dinner to date. not just because it was yummy (which it was!) but also because of the shock value- having a snack for dinner doesn’t really fly around here. he liked it so much, that an entire week later, i received the below as my birthday card (thanks, morah rikki!). be still my heart- he likes fish!

image

this is an easy and effortless recipe and could probably also work with chicken cutlets. it also fits in very well with my latest crusade which is to completely eliminate corn products from my house and diet. i used to bread everything with corn flake bread crumbs, but ever since i have started to keep a corn-free home i have needed to find alternatives.

eliminating corn is VERY difficult since corn is in EVERYTHING we eat. if you read labels, you have probably noticed corn syrup, corn starch, or cornmeal are in most of the processed foods we eat. since i have pretty much cut out most processed foods, this isn’t as hard but it is still added to so many “healthy” products and if you aren’t careful about buying grass fed meat and chicken you can bet there’s corn in the meat and poultry you consume as well.

why is corn so bad, you ask?

to backtrack, the corn i am referring to isn’t the yummy corn on the cob you are visualizing. i am talking about the corn crop, which is most times a GMO (genetically modified organism or genetically modified crop). ever since the great depression,  the US government has given about 20 billion dollars to farmers in subsidies- about 35% is given to corn farmers. this makes corn the most prevalent and cheapest US crop. because corn is such a big money maker, the seeds used to grow corn have been engineered in labs to grow corn that’s resistant to herbicides and that’s how you get the corn crop (not the yummy stuff you eat at a BBQ). 

the most common form of corn in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sweetener that is cheap to produce but incredibly dangerous as it is not fully digestible (since it’s not real food!). HFCS is high in mercury and other toxins and is everywhere in our food supply. when my husband and i food shop, he always defers to me for label approval (yes, i’m the label police)- the number one thing i check for is HFCS.  while i am not a fan of sugary food in general, ones that contain HFCS are the worst as they are one of the main causes of obesity and diabetes in the US today. 

some facts about corn: 

corn is not a vegetable. it is a grain- and not a very nutritious one as it’s fatty acid ratio (omeg-6 to omega-3) is very low.

corn is a fungal host to 22 different fungi. some of these fungi put out body debilitating mycotoxins that can cause disease and other bodily discomforts.

corn (real and not real) elevates our blood sugar levels, making  it high on the glycemic index. 

in short, corn will kill ya so keep up the label reading and be aware that corn is in most cereals, chips, bread, and snack products. as i always say, if you stick to foods that are as close as possible to their natural form (fruits, veggies, whole grains) you won’t have to worry about corn or other GMO’s in your food, but at large our country’s food supply and food chain are very much tainted, especially by corn. you can protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of this food epidemic by preparing healthy meals filled with organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat and poultry and non GMO food products. we can only try our best!

(yes, that was a huge tangent about corn) and without further adieu, here was my effort to make a yummy dinner for oliver that was high in protein, did not contain corn products, and used an all natural sweetener. 

SWEET PRETZELED FISH

- two 6 oz pieces of fresh sole (fillet) cut into strips

- a handful of honey wheat pretzel sticks 

- 2 TBSPN panko crumbs

- one TBSPN honey

- one TBSPN extra virgin olive oil

- salt and pepper to taste 

METHOD (preheat oven to 350)

STEP ONE: cut sole into think strips (think “fish sticks”)

STEP TWO: in a bowl combine fish strips with olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and any other spices you desire until fully covered. 

STEP THREE: in a ziplock bag, crush the pretzels and transfer to a clean bowl. mix in panko crumbs and combine. 

STEP FOUR: dip each strip of fish into panko/pretzel mix

STEP FIVE: spray with olive oil mist and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (closer to 20 minutes depending on your oven). 

serve with some veggies and enjoy !

and…i’m officially a mom who serves pretzels for dinner. happy birthday to me :)

xx,

gourMaya  

homemade granola

image

i recently decided to try some homemade granola concoctions because i love putting granola on everything. nut-free granola is virtually impossible to find and for a house with lots of nut allergies that is a no go. after finding a great granola recipe that is so easy to make i don’t know why i have been buying the store-bought kind for so long. it’s crazy easy and crazy good. yes, #crazy. 

the following is a marriage of at least 10 different recipes i saw online. this granola contains no processed ingredients or refined sugar. it is vegan, dairy and nut free and contains the following super-food ingredients; coconut oil, chia seed, hemp seed and sunflower seed. 

raw hemp seeds are extremely nutritious seeds that are very popular in vegan cuisine as they are a complete protein and have many essential fats, vitamins and enzymes. they help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as control sugar levels. hemp is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help to build up the immune system against disease and also help the body with recovery of disease or injury. a real super food and a fantastic item to sprinkle in yogurt or give your smoothies and shakes some extra thickness and body. hemp has a nutty flavor without actually being a nut. again, #crazy

you can read about the benefits of coconut, sunflower seed, and chia here, here, and here

CHERRY/CHOC GRANOLA

3 cups of old fashioned oats

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw hemp seeds

1/2 cup dried cherries

3/4 cup shredded coconut flakes (unsweetened)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (enjoy life brand or soy and dairy free)

1/2 tsp vanilla bean extract 

1/2 TBSPN cinnamon 

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup sunflower seed butter 

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

METHOD

(preheat oven to 325)

STEP ONE: in a large bowl mix all of the dry ingredients ( oats, sunflower seed, hemp seed, shredded coconut, dried cherry, cinnamon and vanilla powder) with the exception of chocolate chips. 

STEP TWO: in a small saucepan over a medium flame melt 1/4 cup coconut oil. once it is melted, add in sunflower seed butter, maple syrup and unsweetened apple sauce. once everything is incorporated, remove from flame. 

STEP THREE: pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon until fully combined. add in the mini chocolate chips and stir gently as to not melt them and turn the mixture too dark. 

STEP FOUR: spread a thin layer of the granola inside of a large aluminum tin and put in the oven for about 45 min. keep mixing every 10 minutes with wooden spoon. once it starts to develop a crunch- it’s ready!

NOTES AND NUTRITION FACTS:

*feel free to sub in nuts for seeds and almond or peanut butter for the sunbutter if allergies are not a concern. 

** i know that most of my recipes call for a parchment lined baking sheet- i tried that here and both items were no bueno. you need an aluminum tray with some depth for this recipe. i learned the hard way that a flat baking sheet is a disaster waiting to happen since you have to keep mixing every 10 min and its bound to get all over your oven floor. not fun. a large aluminum tin will do just fine here. also, for some reason the parchment paper does not allow the oats to fully cook because it retains moisture and doesn’t get hot enough. i’m perfectly happy dumping this whole mixture into a tin. how easy is that?

*** granola is amazing over yogurt or in lieu of cereal with a bit of coconut milk (non-processed cereal!? GASP!). it can even be sprinkled over a sweet summer salad (i’m thinking arugula, sauteed apricots with a balsamic reduction?)

**** i usually store my granola in an airtight OXO container. it can last up to 2 weeks….but it would never last that long around here :) 

in sum, we are #crazy for good granola. 

ENJOY!

xx,

gourMaya