Friday, December 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie SOP

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is over and you're probably still swimming under leftovers of all kinds! Now with New Years celebrations around the corner, no doubt everyone is going to be looking for some sort of lighter fare.

Photo credit - Healthy Green Kitchen

For my Cell and Molecular Biology class last spring, we were required to make presentations that used the science template for outlining procedures in the laboratory.  We could choose any subject we wished, the more creative the better, and it did not have to be science related either.  The procedure we chose had to be outlined in a specific format and presented in front of the class using a PowerPoint presentation while simultaneously demonstrating what we were talking about.  SOP is the abbreviation for "standard operating procedure" and each of us made our own.  Presenting SOPs is very common in the scientific community, so it was necessary for us to learn this skill.

I decided to do mine on smoothie making.  My professor really enjoys food and I figured that a smoothie would be a great option since I could easily demonstrate it and have samples :)

I have made my original Word document into a PDF.  To view the Smoothie SOP PDF where I outline everything you need to know about proper smoothie making click here.  The SOP also features my favorite peanut butter banana smoothie recipe.   Photos in the SOP are courtesy of Google searches.  You can even download the PDF to your computer and print it for later referencing, or for sharing with a friend who needs some help with creating smoothies!

Enjoy, be safe and healthy in this coming New Year! Happy smoothies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten-free Yule Log / Buche de Noel - Step by Step with photos

When planning the menu for your own Christmas day meal or holiday party out, it can be really difficult!  Usually everyone wants to bring their own traditional or favorite dish to holiday gatherings, but with all of these Christmas parties going on, it's hard to bring what you truly would like, since sometimes there simply is not time to do it all.  At some point it's just easier to throw in the towel and make something really easy like nourishing protein bars, trail mix or deviled eggs.  

In my family, it is tradition to have what we call yule log, or more commonly known as a Buche de noel.  Yule log is a thin, rolled cake filled usually filled with fresh whipped cream, covered and decorated with buttercream and shredded coconut as "snow."  The process, however, can look a little daunting since it requires baking the cake, flipping it out onto a towel, rolling it up, rolling it back out, filling it up and assembling the log.  For a novice baker, this several step process can be a challenge, but if you make your game plan ahead of time and enlist the help of your favorite "sous" chef, the whole process can go smoothly and is actually a lot of fun.  It is honestly not as scary as it looks.  My mom and I can whip up a Yule log quite efficiently now :)  In fact, for my mom and dad's wedding, per my dad's request, my grandmother made yule logs from scratch!!  They've been married 32 years this month!

Yule log "pre" frosting.

Here's the recipe - I've posted the text below, and there are now pictures also with step-by-step instructions.  For yule log success, read through all ingredients and instructions before beginning.  You will want to lay out some tools in preparation for each step.  The recipe will easily serve 12 or more people, depending on how think you slice it, but it also freezes very well and will keep in the fridge for about a week.  So don't worry if you can't consume the whole thing, leftovers stay good!

Gluten free Yule Log / Buche de Noel
    makes one log, serves 12-14

    4  happy eggs, from grass-fed chickens
    3/4  cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour and 1 Tbsp coconut flour (both to total 3/4 cup)
    1 1/4  tsp baking powder
    1/2  tsp xanthan gum
    3/4  cup organic cane sugar
    1/2  tsp sea salt
    2  heaping Tbsp cocoa powder  (I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened)
    1  tsp vanilla
    2  cups raw milk cream (for inside)
    1  deep cookie sheet 10x15 (edges of the pan need to be at least an inch tall)
    real butter, from grass-fed cows (for greasing the pan) - see ingredients page for sources
    wax paper
    organic XXX sugar (for dusting)
    1  tea cloth (I used an old linen calendar)

Chocolate Frosting: feel free to use your favorite recipe, or use my estimates
    2   cups confection sugar
    1/4   cup cocoa powder
    1 1/2   sticks grass-fed butter, softened
    6   Tbsp raw whole milk

Prepping for the Yule Log:
    1.  Preheat to 400 degrees.
    2.  Place the cookie sheet in front of you.  Take a hunky of soft room temperature butter in your fingers and rub it onto the bottom and sides of the cookie sheet, enough to grease it very well, but not in excess.  The most important thing to keep in mind here is that this step is designed to prevent sticking, so better to err on the more greased side than not enough.  Make sure to cover all the surfaces of the sheet, especially all the corners and sides.  The cookie sheet should look shiny and feel slimy.
    3.  Measure out a piece of wax paper to fit the pan, and place it on the buttered cookie sheet.  Press the wax paper down onto the sheet so it fits into corners and stays put to the edges.  The wax paper will stick to the cookie sheet since it is covered in butter.  It will also hang off the sides a little.  It does not have to be perfect, but you will need a few inches on both sides of the pan to remove the paper from the cake after baking, so don't cut off the ends too short.
    4.  Butter the top of the wax paper that you just pressed into the buttered sheet.  This makes a total of two layers of butter, one on the sheet and one on the wax paper, like this: sheet - butter - paper - butter.

Making the cake:
    5.  Using an upright stand mixer, add 4 eggs and sea salt, and beat until thick, glossy and lemon colored. Don't worry if it has bubbles, but don't try to make them.
    6.  In another small bowl, mix sugar and cocoa powder together.  Gradually add this mixture to the eggs, beating well after each addition.  Then add the vanilla.
    7.  In another small bowl (you can use the same one that you mixed the sugar and cocoa powder in), mix together the xanthan gum, flour and baking powder.  Add this gradually to the egg-cocoa mixture and beat until smooth.  Thoroughly scrape the sides to make sure all the ingredients become incorporated.  The batter may be a little thin or slightly thick depending your ingredients.  Either is fine and will not affect the final product.
    8.  Pour the batter evenly into the greased/waxed papered pan; smooth batter with a spatula, do not neglect the corners.
    9.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (usually it will be on the quicker side, but some ovens run hotter than others).  Cake will feel spongy to the touch, but is cooked through.

10.  While the cake is baking, lay out a tea towel and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar.
    11.  When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and loosen the edges of the cake.  Grasping the edges of the pan, flipping out the cake, wax paper and all, onto the sugar covered towel.  Do this fast- take it out, and tip it right over.
    12.  Gently peel off the wax paper from the cake and carefully roll up the cake in the towel.
    13.  Let the cake cool on the counter wrapped in the towel.  This is an important step to make the rolled shape. 
    14.  While the cake is cooling, whip up the cream.  I highly recommend putting the attachments and mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the cake, then all the utensils will be really cold for whipping the cream, and the cream will whip up more easily.  
    15.  When the cake has cooled, gently unroll it (do not force it flat) and frost the inside with the freshly whipped cream.  Then carefully roll it back up, but without the tea towel this time.
    16.  Gently lift the yule log and place it on the platter you plan to serve it.  Cut off one of the ends, or both if it gets a little burnt or if it is uneven.  If some cream squirts out of the log during cutting, just spoon it into the stump and frost over it.
    17.  Make the chocolate frosting with your stand mixer.  Frost the log. 
    18.  Using one of the rolled up ends, place it on top of the log to mimic a stump.  Frost the stump.  
    19.  Decorate however you like.  The traditional way is to sprinkle coconut on top of the chocolate frosting to look like snow.  Fork marks in the frosting make the log textured and resemble bark.  You can also put some red and green MMs on top near the stump to look like berries and leaves.  If you do not have MMs or cannot eat them (I cannot) then just use whatever you can.  Have fun with it!  I have even used strawberries before!
    20.  Put the yule log in the fridge to set overnight.  Before serving, remove from the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Slice into half inch or one inch slices.  Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Step by Step in pictures!

Grease cookie sheet with butter.
Smooth some wax paper down on top.
Butter the sheet again on top of wax paper.
To start making the cake, get out your stand mixer and add sea salt.
Add eggs.
Beat until glossy and yellow.
Add mixed cocoa powder and sugar gradually.
Add mixed flour, powder and xanthan gum into eggs, gradually.
Batters should look like this, happy and homogenous.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out, be careful to get all the corners!
After the cake has baked, flip it over (do not wait for it to cool) onto a tea towel that has been covered in powdered sugar, and remove the wax paper gently.

Gently roll up the cake in the towel and let the cake cool.
Whip up some chocolate buttercream frosting.
When the cake has cooled (should not feel warm to touch), gently unroll the cake, do not force it flat, and smooth whipped cream out on the surface of the cake, cover it thick and out to all the edges.
Place the yule log on the desired serving platter, cut off at least one end to save for the stump.
Stuff any left over cream in here.
This side has been cut.
Frost the log and then place the stump on top.  Stuff an extra whipped cream into the stump, too.
Frost the stump and finish frosting the whole log.
Make fork "bark" marks and add coconut as "snow" and any other decorations desired.
In this version I used unsweetened coconut, chocolate and India Tree Christmas sprinkles.

This is my second time blogging about yule log. The old OLD post (probably my first post when starting this blog three years ago and was still new to photography and photo editing) can be found here, gluten-free yule log

Don't be afraid, this recipe is tried and true.  Unlike some other gluten free recipes floating around out there, it WILL work.  I've been making gluten free yule log for several years now.  The regular version my family has been making for over 50 years.  This is not a recipe just pulled from a hat.  You can rely on this one coming out well.  

My favorite part of the whole yule log - the cream inside!!

On another note, this basic Yule Log recipe is not mine.  It has been passed down in my family for years.  The back of my mom's recipe card has a cut out from some newspaper or magazine.  My grandmother started the tradition years ago, so we are not quite sure where the original recipe came from.  I do want to give credit to whoever the person that originally created this recipe.  All edits to be made gluten-free or more "real food focused" are mine, but the basic recipe template is not.  In other words, the adaptions to make it gluten free, etc, are entirely my own.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions (or problems?) you may have!

MERRY CHRISTMAS -- To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving ideas including CORNBREAD!

I have been a fan of cornbread ever since I was a child. I really used to enjoy almost any decadent homemade recipe which were staples of either friends or family, however, I would not touch any sort of dry cornbread. Crumbles everywhere? No, thank you. No matter what anyone tells you, cornbread should never, EVER be dry. This recipe stomps all over those notions and is full of nutrient dense saturated fats from raw milk and grass-fed butter.

Now I am revisiting my favorite recipe just a few days before Thanksgiving. It's simply the greatest recipe. For the past few Thanksgiving holidays, I've been responsible for making the cornbread. My "family" and friends have been so happy to help themselves each year. It's a real treat when it comes piping hot from the oven :) I created the original recipe back in 2009, and I've never looked back since. It's too good! And that's one reason I try to make it ONLY once a year ;) Someday I hope to created an even better version nutritionally by soaking or sprouting the corn. Making it GAPS legal would be a feat too. For now, I don't have time to mess with perfection. Maybe next year. Even though it is not grain-free and does not use soaked/sprouted corn, I think that once a year I can make an exception, a very tasty exception.

Golden brown top :)

Unlike most cornbread recipes, this bread is so moist that you don't have to slather it in butter to make it palatable. Another great thing is that it gets even better as it ages. Sitting in the fridge for a week (be sure that for storage, you refrigerate after you bake) only makes the cornbread better! It warms up nicely in the oven as well. That is if you have leftovers, which I doubt it ;)

Moist and buttery inside :)

The Best Cornbread
    makes one 9x13
    1 cup  uncooked polenta - I used Bob's Red Mill
    1 cup  MASECA "Masa" Instant Corn Masa Flour or equivalent masa
    2 cups   stone ground cornmeal - I used Bob's Red Mill
    2 cups  raw whole milk
    1 cup  organic cane sugar
    4 tsp  baking powder
    1 tsp  baking soda
    1 tsp  sea salt
    4  real eggs
    2  sticks unsalted grass-fed butter, softened
    2  heaping cups fresh cut off corn off the cob or frozen corn*

To make your cornbread:
    1.  Mix polenta, masa, cornmeal, baking powder + soda, and salt in large bowl.
    2.  In a small bowl, cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high speed until fluffy.
    3.  Add 2 cups of milk to the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir with a spatula until well combined.
    4.  Gently fold in the butter mixture into the bowl of milk/cornmeal. Make sure to FOLD in (do not stir) until combined.
    5.  Lastly, fold in the cut corn. You can leave it out, but I would not suggest it with regards to both flavor and texture of the cornbread.*
    6.  Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan (use coconut oil, old butter wrappers or olive oil spray MISTO and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. You will know the cornbread is done when it springs back like a cake in the middle, a poker will come out clean, and the top is a lovely golden brown.

*The addition of fresh corn "off the cob" into the batter gives the bread a whole other dimension of both taste and flavor. If you don't have fresh corn, use frozen corn, but be sure to look for NON-GMO and organic so you do not consume any genetically modified corn.

Now I also want to share with you some other great Thanksgiving ideas that I've found my own archives and from fellow real food bloggers. Because Thanksgiving isn't ONLY about the cornbread ;)

Easy pre-festivities breakfast
     Two versions of pumpkin pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes, Primal Pumpkin Pancakes
     Grain-free waffles
     Pumpkin Smoothie

Before dinner munchies
     Grain-free crackers
     Nourishing Protein bars
     Grain-free pumpkin bread or grain-free pumpkin muffins
     Raw veggies with some savory dip and also guacamole
     Deviled pastured eggs with real mayonnaise
     Spicy nuts

Beverages throughout the day
     Eggnog (with raw milk, pastured eggs, raw honey and NO HFCS!)
     Fermented apple cider
     Hot apple cider
     Hot chai cocoa 
     Coconut milk dark cocoa
     Raw milk

Making the perfect turkey
     Brining [pre-roast prep]
     Making chicken (turkey) stock [for basting]
     Where to buy the perfect turkey (if you don't have a local farmer as a source)

And if you're feeling adventurous... TURDUCKEN! 
Check out this funny commentary:

     Roasted Brussel Sprouts with special additions
     Cranberry Sauce or Cranberry-Onion Compote
     Faux Potatoes
     Traditional Mashed Potatoes a little bit different
     Roasted Sweet Potatoes
     Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes

     Primal Pumpkin pie
     Maple Walnut pie
     Grain-free Crunchy Apple Cobbler
     Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
     Homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream
     Homemade peanut butter cups
     Pumpkin swirled brownies
     Fresh whipped cream

Enjoy these Thanksgiving recipes! (Still looking for more ideas? Take a look at my recipe roundup from last Thanksgiving!) And remember everyone, this is not your typical dry cornbread. This bread is moist, decadent and lovely. Eat up! And of course, be sure to share some with your favorite people. I promise it will disappear as fast as mine!

Remember that our abundance ultimately comes from the Lord!

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NKJV)
1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
      Come to the waters;
      And you who have no money,
      Come, buy and eat.
      Yes, come, buy wine and milk
      Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
      And your wages for what does not satisfy?
      Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
      And let your soul delight itself in abundance. 
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.
      Hear, and your soul shall live;
      And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
      The sure mercies of David.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Grain-free Unsweetened Primal Pumpkin Bread.

One of the cool things about Blogger is that I can see what people are searching for on my blog. These past few weeks one of the most popular searches involved PUMPKIN! Must be that time of year! Which makes the timing of this post perfect :)

This past Sunday night I was feeling antsy, and I quickly diagnosed myself specifically with baking antsy. There's really only one remedy for baking antsy and that's... baking!

Baking antsy: a phenomenon in which an individual must bake something immediately to release creative juices and simultaneously make a delicious product

Can you see the flecks of cinnamon and nutmeg?

Have you experienced this before? Fortunately for those in my house, this is not an entirely rare occurrence for me, but on the other hand it's not grossly common either (both of which are probably good ;). One reason why I enjoy cooking so much is the creative aspect. Going to the kitchen, pulling out the mixing bowls and getting something into action and watching to see the turn out is fun. Blogging about it is like sharing the fun, which allows YOU to bake the fun later. What a happy way of viewing baking!

Grain-free Unsweetened Primal Pumpkin Bread.
   makes one medium loaf pan (~4x8)

    1 cup  blanched almond flour
    1/2 cup  organic coconut flour
    3 happy eggs - mine were large
    1/2 cup  coconut oil - mine was spreadable soft, soften on the stove top if your's is rock solid
    1 1/2 cups  pumpkin puree
    1 tsp  baking soda
    1/2 tsp  sea salt
    1 Tbsp  raw apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp  ground nutmeg
    1 Tbsp  cinnamon
    2 tsp  vanilla
    20 drops  clear stevia
    5 drops  vanilla stevia
    Water as needed - probably about 1 cup
    Coconut and almonds, for topping, optional

To make your unsweetened pumpkin bread:
    1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. My oven in my apartment is NOT convection (at least, I think so since there isn't a blower).
    2.  In a large bowl, add almond and coconut flours, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, whisking to combine.
    3.  In the center of the bowl, add eggs, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, apple cider vinegar and stevia, mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula. Mixture will have a thick "pate" like consistency.
    4.  Add water to batter to make more fluid. Batter should appear like cake batter, not too runny but not too stiff. Remember coconut flour likes moisture, but too much will affect the action of the leavening agents and prohibit adequate rising height from being acheived.
    5.  Pour the silky pumpkin batter into a medium sized (this is key) glass loaf pan. DON'T forget to GREASE the sides using either coconut oil, butter or olive oil. This time I used olive oil. Pay special attention to the bottom of the pan.
    6.  Smooth out the top, and if desired sprinkle finely shredded coconut and push in some almonds along the top. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until top begins to brown. Check for doneness with a cake pick. Return to oven with a foil tent for a remaining 10-20 minutes until middle is well cooked. Keep an eye on it, overcooked bread is hard to enjoy and undercooked bread is just soggy!

Overall, I was very pleased with this recipe... how it rose, the texture and mouthfeel of the bread, the color and appearance. The first recipe came out a little on the salty side, so I've decreased the amount of salt here. Next time if I have some molasses on hand, I might add a tablespoon of that; I also want to add some ginger and allspice, but didn't have any in my pantry.

Look at the texture!

I am pleased to finally present recipe for us grain-free individuals who want to watch our sugar intake!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Grain-free Pumpkin Lasagne And An Update

It's been a while since I posted. I am back at school and am busy.

Here's a lightening fast update:

1. I live in an apartment now, not a dorm and that means I CAN COOK my own meals!

2. This vegetable lasagne was one of my latest. It features layers of spinach, cabbage, onion, pumpkin, ricotta cheese, mozarella cheese, organic ground beef and fresh italian herbs.

"Lasagne" - Primal/grain-free, gluten-free, soy-free, full of cheese and veggies and meat, complete with one side "ketchuped"
Here's a mini view of the kitchen - notice the saurkraut fermenting in the background!

3. The recipe is coming!

I miss blogging, but don't worry I am still here!
More frequent posts are hopefully in the near future :) Currently I am swimming in microbiology, genetics and several other fun classes.

❤ ♡ ❤ ♡ ❤ ♡

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grain-free Zucchini Bread

Every once and a while I find a recipe that just tastes SO good! A recipe that you just can not stop eating. It happened especially with my original banana cake, nourishing protein barschocolate chunk bark, the best cornbread, gluten-free gingerbread men, and now it's happening again. I'll admit, while this phenomenon of finding an excellent recipe is preferable, it is a problem. Recipes that are just too good are a problem simply because it's extremely tempting to eat the final product in one sitting. Eating a whole batch of baked goods in one sitting (while it may be delicious) is not recommended for good digestion or my girl-ish figure. May this be your warning that this grain-free zucchini bread is quite good :)

Great texture!

Summer means zucchini, zucchini means zucchini bread, and zucchini bread means happy stomach. But only if you're baking with real fresh eggs, health fats and simple ingredients. This bread has all of that! For lack of a better word (augh here it comes) this bread is moist, sweet, and nutritious. Anyone else not like using the word "moist"? Bananas, eggs, and zucchini make the bread moist/soft/creamy; the banana, coconut sugar and maple syrup make the bread sweet (I am going to cut back next time); and the zucchini, eggs, and cinnamon make this bread super nutritious.

Grain-free Zucchini Bread
     Makes one standard loaf 

     4  real eggs
     38 g  coconut sugar (palm sugar)
     4.1 oz  maple syrup (I use grade B)  
     70 g  organic coconut oil - softened
      2 g  cinnamon
      4 g  vanilla
      2 g  sea salt
     88 g  organic coconut flour
     81 g  natural almond flour (unblanched - I use Honeyville)
     35 g  arrowroot flour
     4 g  baking powder
     50 g  organic coconut flakes
     176 g  ripe banana (2 medium)
     12.2 oz  organic farmer's market zucchini - shredded (weighed after draining)
     80 g  organic raisins
     chopped walnuts for topping

To make your zucchini bread:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees convection.
  2.  In your food processor, grate zucchini. Turn zucchini into a tea towel and squeeze out the natural water of the zucchini. Let sit while preparing other ingredients, and squeeze hard once more before adding to bowl.
  3.  Place first three ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously together by hand one minute.
  4.  To that bowl, add next four ingredients and whisk until combined. Small lumps are ok.
  5.  To the same bowl, add next six ingredients and mash together.
  6.   Finally, fold in zucchini and raisins. Pour batter into a greased (with old butter wrappers or coconut oil) standard loaf pan. Top with ground walnuts if desired.
  7.   Bake in oven until bread rises, cracks slightly on top, walnuts are browned, sides have pulled away from pan and a stick inserted in the middle comes out clean; about an hour.

These measurements are given in grams or ounces, and I do not know the cup or metric conversions. I have found that baking with a food scale, not only is easier, but takes much less time. After my experience baking and in food service, it's hard for me to use measuring utensils, as I am used to "scaling out" every ingredient.

Yummy walnut topping!

Also, as I mentioned earlier, this bread is very sweet. I included my original measurements in this recipe, but next time I know I will use less coconut sugar and maple syrup. I enjoy the sweetness, but it makes this bread just too good and a bit too sweet for my taste. Enjoy this grain-free version of zucchini bread :) I sure did!