Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gluten Free Banana Breakfast Muffins

This is a healthy and delicious way to use up those overripe bananas and also makes a good breakfast on the run. Unfortunately, with just the two of us, the little one and I couldn't eat them fast enough and I ended up sadly throwing out the last few because they are so moist they got moldy. Lesson learned the hard way. Next time I will throw most of them in the freezer. Always better to grab one from the freezer and toss it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to thaw than to have to discard moldy muffins. But in a larger household these should go so fast you don't have to worry about them going bad.

Like I have mentioned before, our household isn't really gluten free, but I believe it is important not to eat  solely a wheat based diet, but a diet of mixed grains. I also know several of my friends are gluten intolerant, or who have children who are.

As a note, these contain ground flax seed, which are naturally gluten free but are sometimes packaged in facilities that also process wheat. If there is any doubt of how the flax was processed and in what type of facility you can just skip adding it. Especially if someone in your family is very sensitive to gluten.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
3/4 cup sugar or other sweetener
1 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with muffin liners (silicone or foil liners work best, muffins may stick to paper liners). Mix all ingredients in a bowl, then process in batches in a blender or food processor until oats are smooth. Divide batter among muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

(Vegan) Orange Creamsicles

I have about three different posts I want to share with you right now but I decided to share this one with you first because it is about a gazillion degrees outside here in Texas and will be for the foreseeable future. Everything is parched. My back yard has deep cracks in the soil that I swear are about ready to open up and swallow me while I'm hanging out the laundry. Our car, affectionately known as The Rattletrap Car, has no air conditioning and going anywhere during the day is pure torture, especially for the little one in his car seat. We did get a brief bit of rain yesterday, but the scorching sun is back with a passion today.

In order to cool things down a bit, I give you nice, frosty orange creamsicles. I loved orange creamsicles growing up. Especially the official creamsicle with the vanilla ice cream center. These are just as tasty and much healthier, with no artificial colors or flavors and, for my vegan friends, using coconut milk instead of dairy. My little Ben loves them. I've got to admit, so do I.

(Vegan) Orange Creamsicles

  • 1 cup orange juice (use orange juice concentrate for stronger flavor)
  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp honey (for the vegan version us agave nectar or your favorite sweetner) 
  • 1/4 tsp. orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour into popsicle molds, add sticks and freeze. Run popsicles under warm water to release from mold when ready to serve. Try not to eat more than one!

While you are waiting for your orange creamsicles to freeze, enjoy this clip of the old cowboy song/poem, Hell in Texas. The first time I heard Hell in Texas it was performed as a spoken word piece by cowboy poet John Jay Kulm in Tacoma, Washington. Proof you need a sense of humor to endure Texas summers. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Homemade Kefir and the Health Benefits of Probiotics in Your Diet

Kefir is cultured milk. It is thought to have originated in the Caucasus Mountain region and has been around for hundreds of years. I have purchased kefir from the grocery off and on for some time and try to include some kind of food that incorporates probiotics into my diet, but my effort has been inconsistent. I looked into making my own kefir some time ago, but with everything else going on in my life it just wasn't a priority. Recently I read an article that got me looking into making kefir at home once again. The article talked about a study done by UCLA on the benefits of probiotics in your diet. What they found just blew me away. They determined that there is a powerful gut-brain connection. A healthy intestinal flora balance is shown to make a positive impact on sensory processing and emotion. I have dealt with depression in the past, and to hear that adding probiotics to my diet may help combat it was enough incentive to take a second look into making kefir from home. To top that off, my daughter pointed me to an article that shows probiotics and a healthy gut are important to the surivival of cancer patients dealing with chemotherapy. 

Kefir is actually really easy to make. The steps are clearly outlined at this website: yourkefirsource.com. It is an excellent web site and will tell you all you need to know about making your own kefir. Kefir grains look like mini cauliflower (see pic below). I was lucky to have someone from a natural parenting group give me some grains (thank you, Monica!), but you can purchase them from Amazon.com if you can't find them locally at your health food store. 

Taste wise, I am finding it to my liking to leave the kefir grains in the raw milk for 24 hours. Any more than that seems too strong. If you don't like the taste straight up, blend in some fruit or stir it into fruit juice or smoothies. While you may be able to make it from regular whole milk, it is preferred to use organic raw milk. I am lucky enough to have a couple sources of certified raw milk in my area. 

Most importantly, what is the correct way to pronouce "kefir" anyway? I have heard it pronounced two ways, KEE-fuhr and keh-FEER. Turns out the correct way to say it is keh-FEER.