Apr 262012
 

Yep, you read the title right.  Cookies for breakfast.  If that doesn’t make you excited then I don’t know what will.  I know what you’re thinking…cookies are pretty un-cook-tush-like as it is, especially at 9 in the morning.  But these “cookies” are incredibly healthy, filling, and delicious, and even though I’m calling them breakfast cookies, they can be an any time of the day healthy snack.  Special bonus, they’re gluten free AND vegan!  





I found this recipe on another blog, and my expectations were absolutely blown away.  These we soft and chewy in the center and crunchy on the bottom.  They had a great nutty flavor from the pecans, coconut, and oats, and just a hint of sweetness from the agave, mashed banana, and dried blueberries.  I was expecting these to fall apart like other granola bar type recipes I’ve tried before, but I was shocked at how sturdy these were.  They’re absolutely perfect for an on the go breakfast, snack or dessert.





Nutritional highlights:  These cookies have tons of fiber from the oats, protein and healthy fat from the coconut and pecans, and these things are what will keep you full all morning.  If you have trouble getting your kids to eat a balanced breakfast, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to say no when you offer them a cookie in the morning.  They’re basically like little bundles of baked oatmeal perfection, and I’m going to come back to this recipe again and again.  





Blueberry-Coconut-Pecan Breakfast Cookies
adapted from Kumquat

1 1/2       cups gluten-free rolled oats
1             cup unsweetened coconut flakes 
1             tablespoon golden flaxmeal
1/2          teaspoon salt
3/4          cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/2          cup dried blueberries
3             very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4          cup coconut oil, warm enough to be liquid (I used regular vegetable/canola oil because coconut oil was pricey and I know that it’s very high in saturated fat)
1             tablespoon agave nectar (can substitute honey if you don’t have agave and don’t care about this being vegan)
1             teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine oats, coconut, flaxmeal, salt, pecans, and blueberries. Stir in bananas, oil, agave nectar and vanilla until well combined.

Press 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Continue with remaining mixture.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until fragrant and golden. Cool on pan.
Yield: about 15 cookies.
Apr 182012
 

Free time has been a little non-existent for me lately.  If I’m not at work, then I’m in class, or babysitting, or at a cappella rehearsal, or doing homework, or complaining about how busy my life is these days.  And as many of you can probably relate, when life gets busy, nutrition takes a back seat.  When I finally had a little time in the kitchen, I wanted to make something packed with the nutrients my body was missing, and something that I could get a few meals out of.  So I made this forbidden rice salad with edamame, sweet potato, red pepper, green onion, and sesame.





Let me tell you, this salad is awesome.  I can’t take full credit for the idea…it was inspired by this salad I’ve had at this cute little cafe in Chappaqua.  It’s flavorful, filling, and easy to make.  You can have it as a side dish with chicken or fish, or as on it’s own for lunch.  It’s a great mixture of texture and flavor–between the nutty black rice, the sweet and tender sweet potatoes, the crunch from the red pepper and green onion, and the light sesame honey dressing pulls it all together.  And it’s just a bonus that it’s ridiculously healthy.





Nutritional Highlights: I’m calling this a “superfood” salad because it has so many ingredients that keep popping up on those “healthiest food” lists.  Edamame is packed with protein, B and C vitamins, and is one of the few natural sources of vitamin E.  Red pepper has tons of vitamin C and A (carotenoids) and it also adds and important crunch to this salad.  Sweet potato gets it’s orange color from carotene, fiber, and works as an antioxidant.  Black rice is packed with antioxidants as well as iron and fiber.  Bonus–this recipe is vegetarian, vegan, AND gluten free, so it can satisfy all your dietary needs :)


Forbidden Rice “Superfood” Salad


Ingredients:
For the salad-

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1 large sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • Optional: chopped cilantro and sesame seeds for garnish
For the dressing-
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Directions:
 
Cook the rice according to the directions on the package (for mine it was 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cups water, bring to a boil and cover and simmer for 30 minutes).  Meanwhile, chop the sweet potato into small cubes, and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  
 
Cool the rice and sweet potato cubes.  Combine the rice, sweet potatoes, edamame, chopped red pepper and green onion.  Combine all ingredients for the dressing and toss with the salad.  Top with cilantro and sesame seeds and enjoy!
 
Apr 072012
 

When I was a younger, it was a tradition to decorate easter eggs every year.  We would hard boil eggs, then die them various tie-dye patterns, and later they would meet their demise and be transformed into tasty deviled eggs.  Even though I won’t be home this year to celebrate easter, I had to keep the tradition going somehow, but this year instead of actual eggs, I made brown rice crispy treat eggs, dipped them in chocolate, and covered them in various goodies.  They were quite egg-celent.  Ok, too cheesy even for me….


You start off making regular old rice crispy treats which are possibly the easiest dessert ever to throw together (I used brown rice crispies to create an illusion of healthiness).  I shaped them with my hands into little eggs.  



You could just stop there and still have a pretty cute treat.  Or you could be crazy like me and proceed to dip them in white and dark chocolate and cover them with all sorts of nuts, sprinkles, and other goodies.  



Nutritional Hightlights: Not many.  Brown rice crispies gave them a little fiber and whole grains, I guess.  Rice crispy treats in general are a little lighter than many other heavy desserts.  I tried to keep some of the toppings “healthy”, like pistachios, coconut, and low fat graham crackers, but I still threw in some sprinkles for color.  They’re also individually portioned as little eggs so you have portion control built in.  But it’s a holiday…it’s ok to indulge a little :)



Brown-Rice Crispy Treat Easter Eggs


Ingredients:

  • 6 cups brown rice crispies
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Dark chocolate and white chocolate for dipping (chips or bars are both fine)
  • vegetable oil
  • Various toppings: I used graham cracker crumbs, coconut, chopped pistachios and sprinkles.  You could also use any other type of nut or candy that you like!
Instructions:  Start by making the rice crispy mix.  Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Add the 4 cups of mini marshmallows and stir until melted.  Remove from the heat and mix in the rice crispy cereal.  Rub a little oil on your hands and shape into individual little eggs.  You could also use those plastic egg molds if you have them but my hands worked just fine!

Get ready for some decorating.  Prepare all of your toppings and put into in separate small bowl.  Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and add a teaspoon of vegetable oil.  Microwave the chocolate, stopping every 10-20 seconds to stir.  Be careful not to over cook/burn the chocolate.  Once the chocolate is melted, dip the eggs and sprinkle with the desired toppings.  Repeat with the other type of chocolate.  Refrigerate for an hour so the chocolate can solidify.  Be creative, get the whole family involved, and enjoy these tasty and beautiful eggs!

Apr 042012
 

I have to admit that after an amazingly relaxing week in Cabo with my family, I’ve had a little bit of trouble jumping back into the swing of things.  Juggling work, school, and my million other activities just isn’t as appealing as spending all day lying on the beach drinking margaritas.  Cooking after not lifting a finger for a week seemed daunting, so I’m taking babysteps back into reality with about the easiest meal I could put together.  Panini’s are an amazingly simple meal but totally satisfying and tasty.  Here’s one of my favorite combinations:  turkey, granny smith apple, brie, arugula, and spicy raspberry mustard.  





This panini is a total knockoff of my favorite sandwich at one of my favorite spots in NYC, Grey Dog’s.  The only thing I always wish when I order the sandwich is that it could be grilled and melty, because let’s face it, everything is better grilled and melty. So that’s exactly what I did. Constructing it was easy: start with a fresh seedy loaf of whole wheat, lather on the raspberry mustard, add a thin layer of brie, sliced granny smith apples, a handful of arugula, and a few slices of turkey.  Brush a little olive oil on the outside of each slice of bread and grill on your panini maker or george forman grill for 3 minutes on each side or until the bread is toasted and cheese is melted.





Nutritional Highlights: The sandwich was a brilliant invention.  Not only are they A-mah-zing, they also have almost every food group packed into one little package.  Whole grains in the bread, protein in the meat or cheeses you choose to add on, veggies in the lettuce and other toppings, and this one even has some fruit too!  Now brie isn’t necessarily the healthiest cheese (and as we know all cheese is very high in saturated fat), but I chose a light brie and cut it as thin as possible to keep it relatively healthy.  If you choose healthy bread and toppings, panini’s can be a healthy and delicious meal, on the table in 15 minutes!





Turkey, Apple & Brie Panini with Raspberry Mustard

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of good whole grain bread
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz brie cheese, thinly sliced (light or lowfat if possible)
  • 1 small handful of fresh arugula
  • Raspberry mustard (I mixed 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard with 1 tablespoon low sugar raspberry preserves and it was prefect, but you can also buy a prepared version).
Instructions:  Heat your panini grill.  Construct the sandwich:  Brush olive oil on one side of each slice of bread and put that side face down on a place.  Generously spread the raspberry mustard on other side of the bread.  On one slice, add a thin layer of brie and top with the arugula.  On the other slice, thinly layer the turkey and apple slices.  Carefully close the sandwich and place onto the grill.  Cook for about 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Press down lightly on the top of the grill to compress the sandwich a bit.  Once the bread is toasty and the cheese melted, take of the sandwich and cut it in half.  Enjoy the fastest dinner you’ve ever made!