Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Make Powdered Coconut Sugar



I like to use coconut sugar when making a treat for our family and friends. It has a rich, caramel-like flavor that isn't too sweet. Plus, coconut sugar doesn't have that heart-palpitating affect like cane sugar does. This powdered coconut sugar recipe can be used to make icing for cookies and cakes, or used wherever powdered sugar is called for in a recipe.

Coconut sugar is a low-glycemic granulated sweetener, with an index of 35. Compare that to honey with a glycemic index of 75, cauliflower at 30, lentils at 35, and watermelon at 100.

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm blossoms. It is dried and granulated making it perfect for cooking and baking. Use it to replace any other granulated sweetener in equal amounts. Coconut sugar is dark so keep in mind that it will turn your "white cake" brown. It is best used in chocolate or spiced molasses type treats. Use it in sweet or savory sauces and in marinades. Use it basically anyplace a granulated sugar is called for. Now you can also replace regular powdered cane sugar with coconut sugar using this method.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Make Turkey Stock


For many of you Thanksgiving revolved around a turkey, right? You can make good use of the leftover bones and skin and create a nourishing bone broth. Stock made from leftover vegetable scraps and the bones of animals is extremely economical. Think of how much that box of organic chicken broth costs at your local grocery store? And think of the added flavors and strange ingredients in those store-bought stocks. A gigantic pot of homemade stock can be made for less than the cost of one store-bought carton of stock.

Turkey stock is dark and richly flavored. It can be used to make soup (such as wild rice and veggie soup or turkey-noodle soup), turkey tetrazzini, turkey meatballs, in sauces, or simply heated with garlic and herbs to sip on if you have a cold. And it is remarkably easy to make! All you need to do is add veggies, water, and the leftover turkey bones and skin. Then cover and walk away from it. Come back a few hours later and strain into jars. That's it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yam Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping (Grain-Free)


This is my healthier take on the traditional Thanksgiving yam casserole recipe. It has a delicious grain-free crumble topping made from ground pecans, a little arrowroot, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and real butter. I think the topping would also work on top of an apple or pear crisp/crumble. It could also be the streusel topping to an apple pie. Lots of ways to use it!

Please read my last post on possible gluten cross-contamination in coconut sugar before making this recipe. I like to use coconut sugar because it is a low-glycemic sweetener, meaning it doesn't cause huge fluctuations in blood sugar. Plus, I can't stand how sweet cane sugar is now if I ever try it, yuck! But I also don't crave sugar. Ever. When I was pregnant I craved raw sauerkraut and ate it daily. Large bowlfuls with quinoa, avocados, and toasted sunflower seeds. That was my first trimester staple! However, if you want to use something other than coconut sugar, you could try maple sugar, brown sugar, or Sucanat.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cranberry-Pear Sauce (refined sugar-free)


This year's cranberry sauce recipe uses ripe pears to sweeten up the tart and tangy cranberries. I've added a smidgen of coconut sugar to help balance the flavors but I imagine that stevia could be used instead. Coconut sugar is a low glycemic sweetener but stevia is a "no-glycemic" sweetener meaning it doesn't raise blood sugar at all. This recipe can be made days ahead of the big day and served cold or warm.

If you are gluten intolerant be sure that the coconut sugar you are using is gluten-free. Anything that is dry or granulated like sugar, flours, cornmeal, polenta, etc. can be processed in a facility where wheat or gluten products are processed. I use coconut sugar from Big Tree Farms, which is sold under the brands, Sweet Tree and Essential Living Foods. Our wonderful local food co-op also stocks coconut sugar in the bulk section but it is NOT gluten-free. It comes from Glory Bee Foods. I called them and none of their products are anywhere near gluten-free, so beware. Our other health food store in town, Terra Organica, sells coconut sugar in bulk and it comes from Essential Living Foods so it is okay. My friend Melissa from Gluten-Free For Good made a comment in the post we recently did on gluten cross-contamination pointing out that some coconut sugar brands are contaminated with gluten. Other than the one I mentioned above, I have not seen any sold around here. If you know of one, please leave a comment to help each other out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Black Quinoa and Roasted Pumpkin Salad



Ever tried black quinoa? It is delicious, and very nutty-flavored. A bit fibrous. Great for salads. Cooks up quickly like its white counterpart. This quinoa salad embodies the flavors of autumn. Roasted sugar pie pumpkin with a hint of cinnamon combined with dried cranberries, roasted pecans, shallots, and a zesty dressing. Perfect for a simple, nutritious lunch or as part of your Thanksgiving feast.

Black quinoa is colored by a class of compounds called anthocyanins which protect the plant against oxidation and UV damage. Anthocyanins act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that when ingested, protect our bodies against chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Our modern lifestyle has caused many people to become chronically inflamed. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, elevated toxins in our environment, and lack of sufficient antioxidants causes our bodies to produce higher levels of cytokines which cause inflammation and tissue damage. Cancer cells grow and reproduce under inflammatory conditions. Anthocyanins decrease inflammation and cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis).

Not only is black quinoa a rich source of anthocyanins but also are blueberries, black rice, black beans, blackberries, black raspberries, purple broccoli, purple cauliflower, red cabbage, cherries, and many more. Just think black, purple, dark blue, and dark red.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lentil and Kale Dal + a Video!



Lentils are what we make for dinner if I have not planned ahead of time to soak beans or buy ingredients for a meal. Lentils are inexpensive and cook quickly without the need for soaking. However, if you are gluten-sensitive or celiac, there is one thing you need to know about lentils. They are often cross-contaminated with gluten grains. We made a short video in our kitchen to show you. Hope you enjoy!