Friday, February 24, 2017

Favorite Muffins Made Healthier

I regularly make a batch of applesauce muffins for my husband which he loves in his lunch that are awesome, the recipe for which I posted on my dog blog, but they are also pretty high in sugar and fat. Wanting a muffin I could pack in MY lunch with less than half the fat and significantly less sugar as well as a flour I can digest, I came up with these. Made with  Einkorn flour from Italy, an ancient grain which is completely different DNA wise than American flour; it's one  I can digest a portion of each day, even with an allergy to hybridized wheat protein. Plus it's also much lower in gluten than American all-purpose flour, not suitable for Celiac sufferers but found to be good for many with just gluten sensitivity. It's a bit pricey but well worth trying if you have difficulty digesting white all- purpose or whole wheat flours.

They turned out pretty darn good - ,moist, sweet but not TOO sweet, and soft.

Healthy Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup gluten free oats (oats themselves are gluten-free but many of the cheap brands are processed where there is cross contamination - I use Bob's Red Mill).
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 large egg or equivalent egg replacer
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup Einkorn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins, optional


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners or grease the muffin cups. Set aside.

In a medium bowl with a small hand mixer on high-speed, cream the softened butter (or coconut oil) and sugar until fluffy.  On low-speed,  mix in applesauce and egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (and cranberries or raisins if using). Make a well in the center and pour in the applesauce mixture. Stir with a spoon until just combined (don't overmix or the muffins will be door stops).

Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-19 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This is a more of a moist batter than many muffins, when the muffins are done, a toothpick inserted inside will come out clean, but the top will still look a bit moist, this is normal for this recipe.  When the toothpick is clean and the edges are light brown they are done.

Remove the muffin pan to a  wire rack.  When muffins are mostly cool, remove to a plate - cooling the muffins completely in the tin can make them dry.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Time for Thai

I love Thai food but it can be on the heavy side on both oil and palm sugar so I'm learning to make my own so I have some control over that.

Cashew Beef is one of my favorites.  I often make it with the Gardein beef strips for meatless days, but sometimes we splurge on some pasture raised beef and have it with steak strips.

I was able to find all of the ingredients in the oriental section of a large grocery chain or through Amazon. The dark sweet soy sauce is NOT the same as regular soy sauce and is very similar to the sweet soy sauce in the Indonesian kecap family — the essential ingredient in the much-loved Pad See Ew , fried flat rice noodles with sweet dark soy sauce. It is also heavily used in Chinese-influenced red-cooked or braised dishes that are found in Thai cuisine. Nothing else can quit mimic its salty but sweet, caramel-like but almost smoky flavor. I order the Healthy Boy brand from Amazon.

This may look like a lot of ingredients, but it takes just a few minutes to mix up and chop and just a  minutes to cook.

I like extra sauce to save as a dipping sauce for wontons or egg rolls later (it freezes well), you can cut ingredient amounts in half and it will be enough to cook the meat).


1 Tablespoon regular soy sauce (or Maggi seasoning sauce/Golden Mountain sauce)
3 Tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fish sauce (I like Red Boat brand from Amazon)
3/4 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon water
2  and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Mix sauces and honey in medium-sized bowl and set aside.
In small bowl mix water with cornstarch and set aside.


2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (or small handful bok choy)
1/3 onion, cut into small slices  (or substitute some or all of it water chestnuts, up to a small handful, sliced - I had both some green and sweet onion and water chestnuts and used a combination)
6-8 finger-length dried  Thai red chilies, seeded and cut into halves (from amazon, less than $4)
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts, rinsed and drained
8 oz beef cut into thin  bite-sized strips
one small can pineapple chunks, drained
1 carrot thinly sliced
handful of baby corn


Heat up a wok and add the oil over medium-high.  (if you use too low of a temp the meat will poach and be limp) When the oil is heated, add the garlic, onion (or sliced water chestnuts)  dried red chilies, corn, carrots and pineapple and stir-fry until fragrant or when you smell the spicy aroma of the chilies. Add the cashew nuts and follow with the beef. Stir-fry the beef until the outside is browning nicely, but meat isn't completely cooked through. Add in the medium bowl of sauce ingredients into the wok and continue to stir-fry until the beef is cooked, stirring in the small bowl of water with cornstarch the last few minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

Note: If serving to people that don't know NOT to chew up the big pieces of chili, I remove before serving.   They're quite edible and add just the right heat to the sauce but they are also pretty hot if you bite into them.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Meatless Monday - Getting the Most out of those Kitchen Appliances

Juicing is a great way to get additional phytonutrients in your diet as well as use up any uneaten produce. It's also a nice little addition to Meatless Mondays around here. This is a Brevel juice which I got for less than $100 at Amazon and it's great.  I compared it to my friend Jan's Jack LaLanne juicer and even though hers was cheaper, she said mine was much faster, though use and ease of cleaning is the same.

I needed it this morning.  We seriously ate too much yesterday (homemade from scratch biscuits and gravy) and followed it up with some pizza and wine so let's just say I was LESS than chipper this morning.

Your morning person as defined by your astrological sign.

Stretches to the sound of birds chirping, broad smile n their face:
Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Virgo, Aquarius

Will probably kill you.  Violently.  With alarm clock, eyes still closed:
Aries, Leo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces, Libra, Sagittarius

I'm a LEO, I also have red hair.

So, my husband carefully escaping with his life (and a couple extra of the homemade biscuits ) I set out to plan some healthier meals for "meatless Monday.

I make my juicer juice drinks with various fruits and veggies, though when using beats use the golden beats which have a much milder taste than their red cousin.  Also go easy on beat greens as they can have a strong flavor.

So today on meatless Monday I'm going eating much lighter, breakfast being an Amy's gluten free burrito for breakfast so I could get something quick, leaving me time to get dinner in the crock pot and log on to telework today.

This was my lunch today. I make my blended juice drinks with various fruits and veggies, though when using beats use the golden beats which have a much milder taste than their red cousin.  Also go easy on beat greens as they can have a strong flavor. Today I used the rest of the produce from last week (I usually grocery shop on Monday or Tuesday when the stores are less crowded).

This was a great combo though.
3 oranges
1 large cucumber
a big handful of spinach
a piece of celery and a good handful of carrots

Made 1 large glass.

Usually, I make the pulp into muffins, but as cold as it's been I put it out by one of the trees in our unfenced side yard for the rabbit that lives under our big hedge before going back to work.

Dinner is in the crockpot and whether you make it with Veggie "ham" or the real thing - it's really a tasty and super easy pot of beans.

Creamy White Beans (Crock Pot)

Sort and soak 1 pound white beans in water overnight and drain.
place in crock pot  in the morning and cover with FRESH water (about 2 inches above beans)
add 1/2 onion chopped or a Tablespoon of dried onion (or celery if you don't eat onion)
1/4 teaspoon cloves (yes, cloves)
a small package of YVES veggie "ham" cut into pieces (added at the end of cooking time)

Cook bean on high 2 hours and low for 4-6, adding in the veggie protein the last hour of cooking. When beans are soft when poked with a fork, remove some of the beans, about 3/4 cup (remove any "meat" bits) and throw in blender with a few tablespoons of the broth  Add back into beans.This is a favorite meat-free meal around here and super cheap to make (sometimes instead of the protein we just add extra veggies such as carrots and celery and season with thyme and a bay leaf instead of the cloves - also very good).

Paired with some stone ground glute free cornbread and a salad this  will make a nice dinner.
So take advantage of your kitchen appliances and come up with a healthy meal of your own.