Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Visions of Veganism Danced Through Her Head

I know…I know…I know…

This is supposed to be a  blog about eating healthy and creating a more “politically ` correct” home and lifestyle…and here this Southern belle sits writing about cookies…

How dare she?…

But old habits die hard…

And rhe topic of cooking methods led to a discussion of boiling which let to the discussion of grains which led to the discussion of amaranth…eventually leading up somehow to making cookies.

So how do I make these cookie and cake and other baked goods healthier and avoid such “taboo” ingredients as eggs, milk, butter, and so forth.

And why substitute these products if you are not becoming a vegan…simply someone looking for a good cookie recipe, for example?

Because such basic ingredients as milk and cream can clog your arteries and raise your cholesterol levels.

So let’s look at how to convert any recipe to a vegan recipe by subbing ingredients…starting with butter…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease your muffin pan.
Stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir together the wet ingredients.
Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingrefients to the dry.
Stir all the ingrdients together.

Fill the muffin liners 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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 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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Getting Healthy

Making the Perfect Protein Bites

 

Getting adequate amounts of protein is important for all women, not only die-hard athletes.

Adequate protein is important for both appearance and long-term health, especially among active women….(okay, now find me one woman who is not active…usually we have more on our plate than one person could possibly handle, right)…

So why is protein so important…and why should we find ways to eat more protein at breakfast…and how…

  1. Protein can keep us, or help us get, skinny. Replacing calories consumed in carbs with calories containing protein contributes to a decrease in fat tissue.
  2. Protein can prevent damage to our cells caused by stress.
  3. Protein controls hunger all day. Eating a high-protein meal, such as Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, early in the day triggers a hormonal response that helps keep hunger at bay all day.
  4. Protein is good for your bones, especially important given the high risk of osteoperosis in women. Protein is vital to proper calcium absorption and bone growth.
  5. Protein is good for your hair. A well-balanced diet is important to keep your hair growing to its fullest. Protein deficiency can cause your hair to grow slowly or not at all.
  6. Protein is good for your muscles. Protein can help our bodies maintain and build muscle mass, important to women as we age. Drinking a protein shake or eating a high-protein snack after working out also helps promote muscle repair.
  7. Protein is good for your skin. Protein can help reduce aging and skin damage caused by the sun.
  8. Protein triggers thermogenesis, also known as a “faster metabolism,” and signals the body to burn more calories before, during, and after meals.
  9. Protein will keep you fuller longer. Eating foods high in protein makes you feel fuller sooner than foods classified as carbs or fat and helps controls appetite later on.

 

“Protein bites” are a great way to boost your energy levels and “recharge” your batteries throughout the day…plus they are super-easy to make…

 

(Simply combine the ingredients, chill for thirty minutes, and roll into 1″ balls, Store in airtight container in fridge, unless indicated otherwise…so this is why I’ve simply listed ingredients, instead of directions with each of the following “recipes.”)

 

 

 

 

1. Peanut Butter No-Bake Energy Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

 

2.  Chocolate Protein Bite…(roll in cocoa after shaped)

  • 1 1/2C pitted dates
  • 1/2C rolled oats
  • 1/4C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4C flaxseed meal
  • 1/4C chocolate protein powder
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp espresso powder

 

 

 

3. Coconut Peanut Butter Bites

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

 

 

4. Nutella Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned, rolled oats
  • ½C crispy rice cereal (or shredded coconut)
  • ½C Nutella
  • ¼C peanut butter
  • ½C ground flaxseed
  • ⅓C honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • ½C chocolate chips

 

 

5. Pumpkin Energy Bites

  • 1C old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 1/4C pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2C wheat germ
  • 1/3C honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate morsels

 

 

6. Raw Cookie Dough Bites

  • 2C blanched almond flour
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1/4C coconut oil (solid but soft)
  • 1Tbsp honey
  • 2Tbsp almond butter
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • mini dark chocolate chips
  • stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed
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

Making the Perfect Quick Bread—(Any Flavor You Can Imagine)

To freeze...Wrap in plastic and aluminum foil..can be frozen for up to three months.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is great for breakfast…or lunch…or dinner…or any time in between…along with a perfect cup of coffee…(next post—Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee…go figure(?!))…

 

 

The perfect coffee cake is moist and tender…with a perfect gooey middle layer of dark cinnamon filling…and a crumbly streusel topping.….with lots and lots of crumbs.

 

This is a simple and quick recipe for a delicious, homemade coffee cake made from scratch…and best of all, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge…that will be great for making ahead of time and serving for a special brunch or holiday breakfast.

By the way, I used to hate it when I was growing up and my mom would make a cake…saying that it would taste better tomorrow…dang it..I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow…I wanted a piece right then and there…

Same with this coffee cake…I want it as hot as my coffee…straight out of the oven.

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Prep Work

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and flour 9″ springform or Bundt pan.

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Making the Streusel

  • 1/2C flour
  • 1/4C brown sugar
  • 1-1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 3Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4C chopped walnuts, optional

Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Note that making your streusel by hand will help make the streusel crunchier.

Cut in butter with a whisk.

Pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.

 

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Making the Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1C sour cream
  • 1-1/4C milk
  • 1C sugar
  • 2C flour
  • 1-1/4tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

     

Mix together your wet ingredients—eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk.

 

Mix together your dry ingredients—the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the two mixtures. Mix until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting, about two minutes.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture…about three cups… evenly over batter.

Top with remaining batter.

Spread evenly using a spatula.

Sprinkle the rest of the streusel evenly over the top of the cake..

 

 

 

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Baking Your Coffee Cake

Bake at 350 for about an hour…or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least thirty minutes before carefully transferring the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The Why

So now that you know what amaranth is, why should you care…what is the nutritional benefit…why should you add amaranth to your diet…why is amaranth considered a superfood?

Amaranth is a “relative” of other extremely healthy foods that you probbly already have added to your diet, possibly from birth—such as beets, spinach, and quinoa,

Amaranth is a great source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Let’s look at the nutrients that amaranth provides…

 

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The Numbers—Key Nutrients

Based on one cup serving of amaranth, here are some important uumbers…

Calcium...112% DV…116 mg…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

Fiber…20% DV…Amaranth contains more fiber than any other gluten-free grain, even more than superfoods such as quinoa. The fiber in amaranth is good for your digestive system….(need I elaborate…fill in the blanks yourself)…

 

Folate…14%DV…54.1 mg…The folate in amaranth helps the body copy and synthesize DNA, which is especially important for pregnant women, because a folate deficiency can keep the growing baby’s cell from growing properly…possibly resulting in  birth defects as spina bifida or causing heart and limb malformations.

 

 

Manganese …105$ DV….This is over 100$ DV of manganese,…Maganese is especially important for diabetics because it helps reduce high blood sugar levels by helping your body converrt amino acids into sugar and maintain the balance of sugar within the bloodstream.

Protein…The protein found in amaranth is important for…
  • aiding in digestion
  • building muscle mass
  • controlling mood swings
  • decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage
  • helping to naturally balance hormones
  • making you feel full quicker and requiring more work for the body to digest than fast-acting refined carbs
  • preventing weight gain by
  • supporting neurological function

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Other Nutrients

  • Caroohydrates….48 grams
  • Copper…18%DV…0.4 mg
  • Far… 3.9 grams
  • Iron…25%DV …5.2mg
  • Magnesium…40% DV…160mg
  • Phosphorous…36%DVC…364mg
  • Potassium…9% DV…352 Mg
  • Selemium…19% DV…13.5mg
  • Vitamin B6…14% DV…0.3mg
  •  Zinc…14%…2.1 mg

 

 

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Other Health-Related Issues

In addition to all of these nutrients, amaranth also provides each of the he nine essential amino acids and aantioxidants.

Now let’s look at what all of these nutrients mean as far as your health…your muscles, bone, and skin…your cardiovascular health…your mmune system.

1. Controlling Cholesterol Levels…Amaranth is a considered a cholesterol-lowering food…having been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol…even by up to 50%.

2.  Controlling :Your Weight…Amaranth can help you maintain your goal weight for many reasons, including…

  • amaranth strengthens your bones, which means that you can exercise without having to worry so much about breaking a bone
  • fiber found in amarant keeps your digestive system regulated and reduces inflammation
  • high levels of lysine, an amino acid, helps your body produce carnitine, a nutrient that is important for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol
  • protein keeps you full longer and increases endurance levels

3. Dealing with Gluten Sensitivity…Many people are either allergic or sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat…but amaranth is gluten-free. Problems associated with gluten could include…

  • arthritis
  • bone and joint pain
  • celiac’s disease
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • infertility
  • miscarraige
  • poor memory.
  • skin rashes

4. Keeping Your Bones Healthy…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

5. Reducing Inflammation…Inflammation is caused by the accumulation of dietary and environmental toxins in the body…making your immune system so overworked and weak that it can no longer defend  body tissues against damaging defense cells and hormones.

Inflammation is associated with just about every health condition, including…

  • leaky gut syndrome
  • arthritis
  • fibermyalgia
  • irritable bowel disease
  • gout

Amaranth helps reduce this inflammation.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Perfectly A-Peelin’ Boiled Eggs

I play piano for church quite a bit…and have worked with severaql differeent singers and other instrumen talists…

And the one thing I have learned is that the songs that everyone knows and everyone and their brother requests that you sing—such as Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Aft…those songs that you’ve sung or played for only how long now….always end up being the hardest to put together because we take them for granted and each have our own version/expectation that we think that everyone else should prefer also.

The fact that the simpler and most common things are often the most difficult holds true in the cooking world as well.

Most of us have been boiling macaroni since pre-puberty and became brave enough to start boiling eggs the day after that.

You would think that we would all have the art of egg-boiling down well-mastered by now…

But are we really making the most perfect hard-boiled eggs that we could possible make…

Would we even know the perfect hard-boiled eggs if we ever saw it?

 

 

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The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

Before we start learning how to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs, let’s first consider what we expect from the perfect hard-boiled eggs…as far as color, the shell, texture, and the yolk.

  • Color…no nasty gray ring around the yolk
  • Texture…firm whites and yolks, but not rubbery
  • The Shell…slips right off, making peeling the eggs quick and easy
  • The Yolk…creamy and mellow

 

 

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Ingredients

Obvously the first thing that you will need to have whenever you are making boilee eggs is an egg. In addition to the eggs, you will need cold water, Ice, and salt.

 

 

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Equipment

As far as quipment, you will need…

  • Large slotted spoon
  • Saucepan or stockpot with a fitted lid
  • Timer
  • Tongs
  • Bowl for the ice water bath once the eggs have boiled
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Prep Work
Place a single layer of uncooked eggs in a large saucepan or stockpot. Do not stack the eggs on top of each other or overcrowd them.

Add enough cool water until there is about an inch of water over the eggs.

Add a pinch of salt.

Cover with a lid.

 

 

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Cooking

bring water to a rolling boil over high heat; Many people claim that adding salt, vinegar or baking soda to the boiling water makes the  eggs not only easier to peel, but also helps them taste better….so if you are going to use any of these, add them now.

Reduce heat to medium-high..

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, set the timer for the desired time. ..typically this will be anywhere from five to sevcen minutes…and boil them.

To be more specific…

  • 3 minutes for very runny soft-boiled eggs with just-set whites
  • 4 minutes for runny soft-boiled eggs
  • 6 minutes for creamy, custard-y “medium”-boiled eggs
  • 8 minutes for firm (but still creamy) hard-boiled eggs
  • 10 minutes for firm hard-boiled eggs
  • 12 minutes for very firm hard-boiled eggs.