Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Breakfast Foods and Nutrition Bars

I miss big fluffy gluten loaded pancakes. If the pancake was good, I did not like syrup on it. If it was so-so, I covered it with either blueberry or cinnamon syrup.
Once I was visiting one of my Sisters in Little Rock (AR) and wanted to go out for breakfast. She went work, so Brother-in-law George said “Let’s go to Perkins”.

I had never ordered from the senior’s menu. So I said to George that we should order from the menu to see how much food we get.

We were really surprised, when the waitress kept asking if we wanted more orange juice or pancakes. I don’t think that is what is normally done, but she was definitely working for a big tip. She definitely got one. It was more than what we paid for breakfast!

There are some advantages to being in the ‘Senior Citizen’ category; discounts!! I can’t take advantage of restaurant Senior Citizen discounts now, because most of the restaurants still offering them are not Gluten-free.

One of the ‘senior retired’ surprises this year was when I received my Auto Insurance renewal bill. It had dropped about 31%.

But on the downside of health insurance, my former employer (who promised fee free insurance for life), reneged on the promise about 6 years ago and has been steadily increasing premiums each year. It was stated in the annual stockholders proxy document that the money was needed to retain good board members.  Maybe that is why the former CEO is spending time in prison.

The increase over last year's premium is approximately 40%. I now pay $5520.00 in health insurance premiums per year. The co-pays have also increased. The primary physician (non specialist) is $25. Any other doctor, physical therapist, ophthalmologist, lab tests at hospital or other facility other than doctor’s office at the same appointment is $40.00. Once, I was in for multiple tests, was told I was finished. Later I received a call saying that I had not finished all testing to come back. I was charged an additional $40.00 for that error made by the testing facility. 

When the financial woes get you down, cook something!

It is a lot easier to just make mixes suitable for different things that use flour. I have several mixes that I use frequently. A self-rising gluten free mix that I use is shown below. I see a lot of recipes, so I can’t remember if I borrowed it or I combined it. I rarely make any recipe the same more than two times. I am always tweaking them.

Self-Rising Flour Blend
Use this blend for muffins, scones, cakes, cupcakes or any recipe that uses baking powder for leavening.
1 1/4 cup sorghum flour
1 1/4 cups white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients into a bag or lidded container and shake to mix thoroughly.
Store in a cool dry place and label as shown
Yield: 3 cups

Since I was making a new mix and had some that would fit right in with this one, I used some of it.
Buckwheat Pancake and Waffle Mix
2/3 cup Self-Rising Flour Blend
2 1/3 cups buckwheat flour
2/3 cup Maseca (Corn Flour - Masa)
1/3 cup cornmeal
4 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp TBS powdered milk
2 tsp egg replacer
Mix all ingredients in a lidded container and shake to mix thoroughly
Yield: approx. 4 cups of mix, 12 waffles

Pancakes  or waffles
For each cup of mix add:
2 TBS oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dried or canned (drained) blueberries, optional
Additional water by the tablespoon

If more water is needed, add by tablespoon as needed
My camera quit for about a week, so I do not have many pictures


Each cup makes approximately 3 waffles.
If the batter thickens too much, add a tablespoon of water at a time to get to the desired consistency.

Anyone who has not been gluten-free for a long time will remember all of the junk food that they liked. I miss the Kashi and Slimfast bars, which has at some nutrition in them. I started buying Soy Joy bars and have acquired a taste for them. They are not the best bar around. Most of the bars that are gluten free are expensive. I have tried making ‘nutrition’ bars a couple of times. My latest one comes out pretty good.

Soy Nut and Fruit Nutrition Bar
The ingredients are listed according to processing method
Food Processor
3/4 cup Soybean flour
1 cup dried unsweetened desiccated coconut reduced fat
1/2 cup Dried Apples
1 1/4 cup Almonds, Whole Natural
3/4 cup Dried Mango
1/2 cup Dried Apples
3/4 cup dried pineapple
Mixing Bowl
1/2 cup milled flax
1 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 tbs arrowroot starch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1 pinch salt, (optional)
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs Coconut Oil, melted
1/2 cup Vanilla or plain Silk Soy Milk

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cover a heavy 10X13 baking pan with parchment paper. I use a heavy shiny pan.
Combine all Food Processor ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined and chopped. Do not over grind; you do not want a gunky blob!

Mix all Mixing Bowl ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour Food Processor Ingredients into mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. If any clumps, use a fork to break them up.
Combine all Liquid Ingredients in a small bowl or mixing cup, gradually add to mixing bowl. Stir and mix everything thoroughly. The mixture will be thick and damp, not watery.

Spread the mixture evenly over the parchment papered pan. Use fingers or spatula to press it down and shape the corners, so that the mixture does not overlap the parchment paper.

Bake for 20 minutes on middle rack of oven. Reduce oven to 250 F and continue baking for 10 minutes. Do not over brown. Let cool completely. Slide bars with paper to cutting board. Cut into bars.

I do not like sweet bars, so these are not too sweet.  If you want a sweet bar, add about 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar during the mixing bowl stage.

Yield: 30 - 2 inch bars
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/30 of a recipe.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount per Serving
Calories 105.7
Total Fat 5.37g
Saturated Fat 1.22g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 19.15mg
Potassium 150.69mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.24g
Fiber 2.52g
Sugar 6.3g

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Kicking Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

The big weather has warmed up about 30 degrees since the Holidays.

I wanted pasta, spaghetti or lasagna ANYTHING PASTA. Well I am still trying to maintain the New Year’s resolutions, so I made spaghetti squash.
I make a vegetarian pasta sauce with everything but the kitchen sink that is quite satisfying.
Vegetarian Pasta Sauce
1 large container of baby Bellas (Costco size)
1 1/2 large red bell peppers
1 1/2 large green bell peppers
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 bulb garlic, minced
12 large plum tomatoes
4 1/2 inch wide zucchinis
1 small eggplant
2 cans Tomato Paste
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 /2 tsp sea salt in mortal
2 tsp basil leaves
2 tsp crushed parsley leaves
2 tsp crushed cilantro
1 tsp ground Thyme
1 tsp powdered parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp sugar or other equivalent powdered sweetener

Prepare all ingredients and set aside
Wash and skin tomatoes, dice
Wash and remove stems from mushrooms, slice thinly
Wash and remove stem and blossom end from zucchini, cut into small cubes
Wash and remove seeds from peppers, dice
Wash 2 celery stalks; remove any leaves, dice finely
Peel garlic, mince
Wash and remove stem and blossom end from eggplant, slice lengthwise in half, slice thinly

Grind the Herbes de Provence and sea salt using a mortar and pestle
Combine that mixture with the remaining spices in a small container, set aside

Prepare an 8 qt slow cooker, turn on low
Add tomatoes to slow cooker
Place 1 tbs olive oil in a large iron skillet, on med high heat
Sauté mushrooms until reduced to about 1/3, water will be mostly gone
Add mushrooms to slow cooker
Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet
Add garlic to skillet and sauté about 2 minutes, add celery and continue cooking about 2 minutes, add peppers and continue cooking about 3 minutes
Pour this mixture into slow cooker.
Stir the slow cooker to mix everything
Open one can of tomato paste and add it to the slow cooker
Stir and place lid on slow cooker.
Add 1 tsp oil to skillet; add zucchini to skillet and sauté for about 2 minutes on high.
Add to slow cooker, stir again
Add 1/2 of the spices and stir
Add the remaining can of tomato paste and stir
If the mixture needs liquid, add 2 cups v8 juice and stir.
Place top on slow cooker
Cook on low for about an hour, stirring after 1/2 hour
Taste for seasoning and add remainder as needed
In the meantime
Sauté the eggplant in the skillet until tender and set aside
The finished product

Microwave Spaghetti Squash

Wash squash and remove stem, if any.
Slice lengthwise. Place squash in a microwaveable container.
Sprinkle with a pinch of Cajun spice.
Cover with cellophane wrap
During the last 20 minutes of cooking time for the pasta sauce, microwave on high for 9 minutes.
Remove and test for doneness, if needed, microwave 1 minute more. Do not overcook.

Use fork to separate squash into spaghetti, going across the squash. Lift to separate any clumps. Serve in squash shell or a plate.

Top with Vegetarian Pasta Sauce and the sautéed eggplant.


I was so hungry, forgot to add some eggplant.
The Clean Plate

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great Northern Beans Brownies

After the Feast - New Year’s Resolutions

There are always the New Year’s resolutions that are set forth with real intentions to keep.
When one is employed, the real resolution is not to kiss any Boo-Tay, just to get good projects and a raise at the end of the year.
Luckily, in retirement, there are none to kiss. Oh Happy Days!

About a week before Christmas, I began to think about all of the time spent creating and TASTING cookies over the past 5 months. I knew I had to come up with several New Year’s resolutions and stick to them or look like a beluga. First, cut back on the cookies. Second start preparing healthier meals. Third, yes number three, start using the exercise bicycle at least ten minutes a day for the first two weeks and increase to thirty minutes a day. Fourth, if I make sweets, there must be some nutrition along with the ‘not so good for you’ ingredients.

First installation of Nutritious – not so good for you

Bean brownies
Dry ingredients
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs tapioca starch or flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup dry milk
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
Bean Mixture
1 (15  to 16 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, pureed
1 egg
1 tsp Almond extract
Cocoa Mix
1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs Black Cocoa
1/2 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1/3 cup Walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Combine dry ingredients and set aside
2. Rinse and drain Beans.  Process beans in food processor until puree.
3. Pour bean puree into a large mixing bowl. Mix in egg and almond extract

4. Place butter, sugar and cocoa in a pot. Heat on medium heat, stirring as butter melts. Remove from heat when butter has melted. Continue mixing until blended
5. Combine cocoa mixture with bean mixture.

6. Gradually add dry ingredients and continue mixing until blended. Batter should look like brownie batter.

Fold in nuts.

7. Spray a 13X9 " pan. Spread batter evenly over pan.
8. Bake at 350º for 25 to 30 minutes. Check as usual during cooking time

Servings: 24
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/24 of a recipe (1.6 ounces).
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount per Serving
Calories 141.25
Total Fat 6.05g
Saturated Fat 3.07g
Cholesterol 20.7mg
Sodium 87mg
Potassium 123.42mg
Total Carbohydrates 20.19g
Fiber 2.22g
Sugar 9.19g
Protein 3.23g

This came about after reading “Bean Cookies” in Native American Christmas Cookie Recipes Post at nativerecipes.blogspot.com
I had made black bean brownies before.
This brownie has a milder taste than the ones made with black beans. More of the chocolate flavor comes through.