Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Amaranth Crackers

We have now only been talking about amaranth for how long?!

So by now we should have more than an inkling as to what amaranth is, why we should add amaranth to our diets, and how to use it.

So let’s go back over what we’ve learned so far…

 

 

 

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Review

The Whatamaranth is a tiny seed that comes from the flowers of the Amaranthus.

The Why…

  • Carbohydrates…contains less carbohydrates compared to grains like wheat
  • Gluten Free
  • Protein…contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain…In fact, one cup of raw amaranth contains 28.1 grams of protein, the equivalent of a chicken breast…the proteins found in amaranth are also easily digestible compared to other grain based proteins
  • Vitamins/Minerals…amaranth is rich in calcium, magnesium, and iron
  • Aramanth crackers are a great snack or appetizer, served with a perfect dip or hummus….as well as a great accompaniment for soups and salads.

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The Perfect Aramanth Crackers

The perfect amaranth crackers are crumbly and crunchy, not like cardboard like many whole grain crackers out there….light and crisp…have an awesome nutty flavor.……and contain the perfect amount of herbs and garlic, not to mention an awesome aroma.

Note that the following cracker recipe does not contain salt, nuts, eggs, or sugar…simply basics such as aramanth, spices, and basic baking ingredients.

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Basic Ingredients

  • 2C amaranth flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1Tbsp pepitas
  • 1Tbsp sunflower kernels
  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup water
Optional Toppings…your choice…but use 1Tbsp…

  • chia seeds
  • cumin
  • garlic
  • pepitas
  • rosemary
  • sesame seeds
  • sea salt
  • thyme

 

 

 

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Making the Dough

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Amaranth “Granola Bars”

 

Melt the honey and almond butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir to combine.

Stir in the vanilla.

Remove from heat.

Let cool 5min.

Place all of the remaining ingredients…except for the chocolate…in a large bowl.

Pour the honey mixture over the ingredients.

Stir to combine.

Add the cold, chopped chocolate.

Stir together.

Press the mixture in a square baking dish lined with parchment paper. You want your mixture to be about 1/2″ thick.

Refrigerate for about four hours.

Lift the bars from the pan by using the parchment paper to lift it out of the baking dish.

Use a large, sharp knife to cut the bars into twelve separate bars.

You can store these by place them in an airtight container and refrigerating for up to five days.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Muesli Bread

In the last post, we learned how to “make the perfect muesli”…but let’s bump it up a notch by using our muesli to “make the perfect muesli bread.”

The perfect muesli bread is a fragrant loaf chock full of all sorts of dried fruit and whole nuts….crunchy and crusty on the outside …warm, soft, and chewy on the inside.

The perfect muesli bread is eaten right out of the oven…toasted…mothered with butter, jelly, honey, and perhaps a soft cheese—such as Havarti, blue cheese, cream cheese or mascarpone.

Because of the combination of grains, nuts and fruits found in the muesli by itself, obviously muesli bread is healthy and filling at the same time. In fact, muesli bread is one of the items that Starbucks uses in its proteinlet box—along with a boiled egg, cheese, apples and grapes.

The dried fruit found in the muesli gives the bread a slightly sweet taste. The combination of oats, fruit and nuts makes the bread very filling.

Muesli bread can also be used to make French toast;…to replace any other starch that you normally serve at dinner…to serve as a healthy snack anytime of day. 

Making perfect muesli bread bread is simple…and involves simply combining 1-1/2 of muesli with  basic bread-making ingredients—such as flour, water, yeast, salt, and sugar…taking time for the bread dough to rise…and baking.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Marvelous Muesli

So now that we know what muesli is…how do we make our own…and what do we do with it once we have it made?!
Making your own muesli is super easy and takes only about five minutes to go…a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and oats that is perfectly healthy and perfectly filling.

 

 

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The Math

Making your own muesli is also more of a mathematical formula…than a method that must be mastered….a matter or proportions and personal preference…
Typically you will want to use about…
  • 4 cups grains
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Start with a ratio of four parts grain + one part nuts/seeds + one part dried fruit.

Keep in mind that the more fruit you add, the sweeter it will be. The more nuts you throw in, the more expensive your grocery bill. Remember, also, that the grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt. Muesli with extra nuts will be overly crunchy; muesli with lots of fruit will be very chewy.

 

 

 

 

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The Grains

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Nuts/Seeds…1 cup

 

Nuts and seeds—such as…
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

will give your muesli a delicious crunch,,,not to mention te fact that nuts and seeds will make your muesli even healthier because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Choose any nut, seed, combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

Before mixing your ingredients together, also take the time to toast your nuts in the same way that you do your grain. This will not only give the nuts a little extra crunch, but also make them more flavorful.

Don’t add oil or any other liquid to the pan when toasting your grains and nuts. Toasting the nuts release their oils, so anything added will make your muesli taste a little greasy.

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The Fruit…1C

 

The third ingredientw that you will want to add to your muesli—now that you have stirred together your grains and nuts/seeds, is/are fruit(2)…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli.

This can be any fruit that you like…as long as it’s dried and not fresh. Adding fresh fruit will make your muesli too soft and cause it turn bad much more quickly.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like.

A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

Here are a few things to remember…as far as adding fruit to your muesli…

  • Add only enough d  to make your granola taaste seweter…but nout so much that your granola is too sweedt.
  • Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.
  • Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.
  • Experiment until you find the “perfect” recipe.Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Make sure that any dried fruit that you use does not contain dded sugar.
  • Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

 

 

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 The Spices

If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices.  Spice (that are often used to make your muesli more flavorful include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger,

Store a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vnanilla bean with your muesli to infuse different flavors.

 

 

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Stirring Your Muesli

Now that you have put all of your “stuff” into a container, put the lid on the container and shake until everything is combined.

 

 

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Storing Your Muesli

Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

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Serving Your Muesli

 

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli wotj 23C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Every Mom Knows the “Best” Thing of Waking Up Is Definitely NOT Coffee

  I am so not a morning person…definitely NOT a morning person.

In fact, I am so not a morning person that the Friday before the “resident fivec year old” starts kindergarten, we are moving right smack dab across the street from his elementary school…

So close in fact that you can spit at the front door of the school from my own front door…(not that I ever would even really try)…and so close that if I make the school crossing guared cookies or brownies once a week, I might get curbside service.

Why am I so excited about moving so close to the school?

Because I obviously can sleep later…and because so many of the mornings that my own girls were little…I would have to rush around in the morning trying to get them ready to go to school…and so many times they went to school without having eaten breakfast.

But this year…especially now that I am older and wiser…is gonna be difference…

I am going to make sure that breakfast is a priority…

How do I play on making breakfast more of  a priority?

By planning and cooking as much as possible ahead of time…and making my own products so that if they don’t get eaten, I have the frustration of having made it, only to be thrown away…isntead of getting to blame the Kellogg’s or Post company because their product was simply not something that my kids liked.

In other words…I went to all the time and trouble to make this for you…and how dare you not like it or appreciate all that time and effort…

Anyone else ever felt that way?!…

Be honest…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The How

 

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Now What?!

So now that we have all run to the store and grabbed the biggest bag of amaranth that we could find, you could simply boil the amaranth and eat it plain…but what’s the fun in that?!

What else can we do with amaranth?

You will find that the nutty and toasted flavor of amaranth also works well in many dishes…including breads, muffins, soups…

So let’s get boiling mad in the kitchen and start letting off some steam together…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…