Tag Archives: baking

Seeduction Muffins

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I used to be obsessed (I mean, obsessed) with this bread at Whole Foods called Seeduction bread. It’s the heartiest, nuttiest (or seediest) bread I think I’ve ever had and it’s so so tasty. If you’re not avoiding gluten or grains, I highly recommend it on pure taste alone. You know those breads that are light and fluffy and are actually more air than bread? This is not one of those breads. You know what I mean, right? Have you ever taken a piece of regular white or wheat bread and tried rolling it up into a tiny little ball? If you haven’t done this before with conventional bread, try it. Do it with your kids, it’s tons of fun. You see, most conventional breads on the shelves don’t have much to them and are actually more air and sugar than whole grain. To make sure you’re getting something of substance when shopping the bread aisle, look for the words 100% whole grain; the first ingredient listed should be whole grain, not whole wheat. Whole wheat is tricky. That phrase could still mean that the grain has been processed to separate the bran from the starch. With 100% whole grain, you can be sure you’re getting the nutrition of the whole grain and not just the starch – which to your body is pretty much just sugar.

It’s been about three years since I’ve had a real piece of bread. People ask me, do I miss it? And, you know, I really don’t most of the time. It’s funny how you adjust and adapt to a new way of eating and before you know it it’s just the new norm. But one day I saw that seeduction bread and I had to have it. So I decided to try making my own gluten-free, grain-free version… I got inspiration from one of my favorite blogs – My New Roots. Sarah B. has what she calls her Life Changing Loaf of Bread which gave me inspiration for my own seeduction bread – or muffins. And they’re every bit as hearty and delicious as the one Whole Foods makes.

More Fiber, Please
Without flour, grains or gluten, you may be wondering what’s holding all those seeds together here? It’s a little trick with one super ingredient: psyllium seed husk. Psyllium seed husk comes from a plant and is extremely high in soluble fiber. You may have seen or used it yourself mixed with water as a supplement to, you know, get things moving. Psyllium seed husk’s fibrous qualities happen to make it a good substitute in gluten-free baked goods as well because it works to bind ingredients together.

Like other foods high in soluble fiber, psyllium seed husk is thought to be effective in lowering cholesterol and controlling certain types of diabetes. Look for whole psyllium seed husk or psyllium seed husk powder. A little bit goes a long way, you’ll notice in this recipe it only uses 2 tablespoons.

To get the full benefit of adding the extra fiber from psyllium to your diet, be sure to drink plenty of water too.

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Seeduction
These muffins have five different seeds in them, all with their own health benefits. There’s a healthy mix of Omega-6s and Omega-3s, two essential fatty acids we must get from food while making a conscious effort to maintain the right balance of the two. Most seeds and nuts are higher in Omega-6 which promotes inflammation in the body. When our ratio of Omega-6 far outweighs the amount of Omega-3s we’re getting in our diets – which is usually the case – we end up with way too much inflammation that can end up as the basis for ailments and disease. The key is to make sure you’re getting plenty of Omega-3 fats as well from plant-based foods like flax and chia seeds, walnuts and greens, as well as animal sources like wild salmon and other seafood. Staying away from processed foods and foods prepared with refined seed oils like sunflower, safflower and canola also helps keep your Omega-6 count in check.

I am sort of obsessed with pumpkin seeds. I love adding them to salads or just snacking on them all by themselves. For salads and snacks, I love Go Raw’s sprouted pumpkin seeds. Sprouted seeds and nuts are easier to digest because the sprouting process neutralizes inhibitors and releases enzymes that are dormant when raw. Once a seed is sprouted, it becomes alive all the nutrition packed into that tiny little seed gets activated. Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, zinc and iron.

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Just the Flax
We know flax seeds are one of the best plant based sources of Omega-3 fat but that’s not the only reason to add these golden flecks to your baked goods and smoothies. Flax seeds are high in antioxidants and have been associated with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and decreased insulin resistance. Flax seeds are also a the No. 1 source of lignans which are another type of antioxidant and phytoestrogen. Sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are high in lignans as well.

Flax seeds should always be ground first before consumed so that they can be more easily digested and absorbed. Because of the delicate nature of the oils in flax seeds, ground flax has a much shorter shelf life. So, as a general rule it’s always better to purchase whole flax and grind it yourself. You can store both in the fridge or freezer for a longer shelf life.

I usually grind mine with my Magic Bullet, but a regular ol’ coffee grinder or food processor will work too. In fact for this recipe I pulsed all of the seeds individually in the Magic Bullet and then added them to the mixing bowl one by one. In this recipe, you pulse each just enough to get a coarse chop, but not pulverize completely. The result is a hearty seed mix that’s still crunchy.

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Seeduction Muffins

Ingredients

2 tbsp psyllium husk powder
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp virgin coconut oil, melted
dash of stevia

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, combine psyllium husk powder and water and stir. Set aside – after about 5 minutes it will for a thick gel. Meanwhile, place all seeds in a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Transfer seeds to a large bowl and add salt, stevia and coconut oil. Stir to combine evenly.

By now the psyllium husk and water should be thick. Add the melted coconut oil to mixture and stir. Pour the liquid into your seed mixture and mix it up well. Cover and set aside for an hour – this allows the seeds time to absorb some of the liquid and the dough will become firmer. (Note: This step does make for a better end product, but you can skip it if you are pressed for time.)

Grease your muffin pan with coconut oil and then spoon the dough into the pan, filling each muffin slot to the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Recipe yields 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins.

The Megg Salad Store

You may have noticed a few of the food items listed above are linked. These links take you to the new Megg Salad Store on Amazon.com. I’ve pulled together many of my favorite ingredients, food products, books and tools and organized them in a convenient little online store for you. I get asked all the time for product and brand recommendations so I decided to create a place where you can easily find the items I recommend and use in my own kitchen. Full disclosure: As an affiliate of Amazon I receive a small percentage of any sale made from my website.

The store will be available on meggsalad.com shortly… just as soon as I can figure out how to add it. Any WordPress whizzes out there? 🙂

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Oh-Mega Apple Muffins

oh-mega apple muffins

We finally got the rest of our kitchen unpacked this weekend (woo hoo!). And I realized something; it’s amazing what you find you don’t need after your things have been in boxes for three weeks. In that short time I managed to get bitten by the minimalist bug. Yes, me the same person who spent the better part of last year on One Kings Lane shopping for bookshelf accessories. Times change and we change with them I suppose…

Anyway, the thought of having to pack a kitchen twice in a year inspired us to edit our gear to the bare essentials. And we managed to keep six boxes packed up in the garage – stored away and ready to go to our next stop in a year. That was, until I got the itch to make muffins… In my ruthlessness the baking accessories didn’t make the cut. But now they were essential. It was raining. We were cozy. And we just needed muffins. So back to the garage we went (I say we but let’s be honest, it was all Ross – he saved the day again!).

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While he hunted pans I took to the pantry to see what I could possibly turn into a muffin worth eating. Our pantry staples are in need of replenishment but with a little creativity I was a able to scrounge up a pretty ingenious combo if I do say so myself.

Oh-Mega Dose of Omega-3s
Crammed into these muffins are the three top plant-based sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids – flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. What are Omega-3s you ask? They help regulate inflammation in the body and they’re called “essential” because we must get them from our diet – our bodies cannot make them on their own. The challenge with Omega-3s is that they’re sort of scarce in our food supply – you have to know where to look to find them and then make sure you’re eating those foods, like the ingredients mentioned here, plus salmon, sardines and dark leafy greens regularly.

To make matters even more complicated, Omega-3 has an essential fatty acid cousin, Omega-6. The two work together like two sides of a coin. While Omega-3 works to decrease inflammation, Omega 6 promotes it. In the body they perform a sort of balancing act to protect our cells; we need both in the right ratio. But the problem is most of us are getting loads more Omega-6 in our diet than Omega-3 (some 14-25x more) so we’re skewed toward the inflammatory side, which over the long term is not good. Omega-6s are abundant in things like nuts, seeds, grains, cooking oils and out of the box snacks.

You can keep your Omega-6 intake in check by cutting back on the processed foods and opting for olive oil over oils like soy, corn and vegetable. Grass fed meats are also less inflammatory because the animals are getting more Omega-3s from the grass rather than more Omega-6s from grains and seeds. And of course you can get your fill the vegetarian way with the flax, chia and walnuts in these muffins. Wild salmon is a sure bet source as well.

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The Sweetest Thing
You know what else causes inflammation? Sugar. So it would be silly to cancel out all the great inflammation fighting benefits we’ve got going on here by adding something that’s going to take away from that, am I right? Not to worry, the only thing sweetening the sauce here is fruit – no refined sugar, or unrefined for that matter either. Just apples. And you know what they say about apples….

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Oh-Mega Apple Muffins

Ingredients

3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup apple sauce (2 individual packs)
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried coconut, shredded
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 small apple, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 315 degrees. In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda and salt and whisk until evenly distributed. Add applesauce, melted coconut oil and water and stir to mix. Stir in walnuts, coconut, chia seeds and apple. If batter seems dry or too flaky, add a bit more water and stir/mash until batter holds together.

Spoon batter into lined muffin pan and bake at 315 for 40-45 minutes. Cool before serving.

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Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)

pumpkin granola

Are you tired of pumpkin yet? Ya, me neither.

You know what I am tired of though… my Pinterest feed showing me delicious looking pumpkin treats that I can’t eat. I swear if I see that two ingredient pumpkin brownie recipe one more time…

So, instead of taking my frustration out on the iPad, I went to the kitchen – determined to partake in the pumpkin extravaganza. And also contribute a little pumpkin something to the Internet for all us gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free folks. So here goes… grain-free granola that puts that brownie in it’s place.

ingredients

The recipe starts with canned or boxed pumpkin, but be sure to get the pumpkin puree, not the pumpkin pie (sugar). Combine pumpkin with the applesauce (for sweetness), vanilla, and spices.

mix ingredients

Then mix in the nuts, seeds and coconut and stir to coat everything evenly with the wet ingredients. I used almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds, but you can really use whatever you want – walnuts would be good too, or cashews…

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Spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, smoothing evenly to cover the tray. Pop in the oven and bake 40-50 minutes – stirring and respreading about half way through the bake time. When browned and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool and harden. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Snack by the handful or bowl and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Granola (Grain-free)

Ingredients

1/2 can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmetg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes

Directions

In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients and mix well. Add in the nuts/seeds and coconut and stir until they are evenly coated with the wet ingredients.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread out the granola mixture so it covers the sheet evenly.

Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Check granola at half way point and move around to help it cook evenly. After baking, allow to cool and harden.

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Lemon Drops

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Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday. I know I sure enjoyed myself. If you’re anything like me, here in the first few days of the new year, you’re struggling to get back into what was once your routine. And maybe wondering how you even got into that routine in the first place. The good news is, new years are new beginnings. After the holidays have turned our routines upside down and given us some distance from our own little hampster wheels (whatever that may be for you), coming back, we shouldn’t just jump back on and go right back to what we were doing before. With distance we gain perspective and are given the perfect opportunity to shake things up, do something different, try something new.

Maybe it’s the gym – you haven’t been in a while and you realize you really just have no desire to go. Don’t force it. Maybe you just really don’t like the gym. And it’s time to give the yoga studio down the street a shot. As you get back to your routine, go easy on yourself and listen to your inner voice to shape a new routine that’s going to make you happier and healthier in 2013.

After weeks of indulgence, going cold turkey on that sweetness we crave can be suicide. Start by weaning yourself off processed sugar. These little lemon cookies are perfect way to ease the transition. They’re made with honey so you’re not going to get that high and low you typically do with sugar and are full of good things for you like almond, coconut and lots of lemon. Lemon is high in vitamin C to help fight colds and flus and has an alkalizing effect on the body – just what we all need after eating lots of acidic foods like white flour and wine. Lemons also help to cleanse the liver and aid in digestion. Plus, that fresh tart taste can’t help but make you smile. Even better, add a lemon wedge to your water to get all these benefits throughout your day. It can be part of your new and improved 2013 routine.

I wish you all the happiness and health you handle in the New Year. Here’s to fresh starts…

lemon coconut cookies

lemon zest

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Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 pinches of salt
6 tbsp honey
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla (I use vanilla powder)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to lowest temperature possible (ours settled at 170 degrees).

In a mixing bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, dried coconut and salt. Whisk to mix well.

Depending on size, you’ll need about two or three lemons for the zest and juice. Zest lemons then set aside. Juice lemons into a separate small bowl. In another small bowl, add the honey, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer, add dry ingredients and begin to mix. While the mixer is running, slowly add wet ingredients.

To melt coconut oil, place in a small pan over medium heat until it becomes a liquid. Once the oil is in liquid form, slowly add to the batter while the mixer continues to run.

To make cookies, roll batter in balls (about 1 inch diameter) and place on a coconut-oil-greased baking sheet. For less mess, use plastic baggies over your hands to grab and roll dough.

Bake for one hour or until the outside is dry and firm.

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Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is having a big breakfast at my parents house. Even though we’re all grown up now and (almost) out of their house (the front door is a revolving one these days, but I think they like it that way…), we spend the night on Christmas Eve and wake up in the home we grew up in. Things aren’t quite the same – I have a husband. And my old room is now an office. So my brother gets bumped to the couch to give us old marrieds his bed (sorry, Michael). But for one night we’re all under one roof again and it makes me smile.

It’s the thought that years ago we were waking up at the crack of dawn, sneaking out to see what Santa had brought us. And now we will be trying our hardest to sleep in as long as possible. And then, instead of going straight for the presents, we’ll go for the coffee (it will be needed after a late night of drinking wine, talking and laughing with aunts, uncles and cousins). And in the morning we’ll have a leisurely breakfast with our traditional foods and some new additions (gluten and dairy free of course).

This year I’m making these gluten and dairy-free pumpkin muffins that are full of holiday spice and fresh orange for Christmas. Oh, and I threw in some chocolate too… They’ll be an addition to our traditional bacon, eggs, waffles, coffee cake and (drum roll) Pilsbury cinnamon rolls. When we were kids, we’d fight to the death for that “middle one.” Ooh, and the extra icing. This year, Ross, I’m tagging you to represent — Don’t be afraid to use those elbows. That warm, gooey center is worth it.

So maybe not that much has changed…

I hope you have a wonderful holiday full of indulgences… but most importantly love, laughter and memories. Merry Christmas to all!

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Orange & Spice (and everything nice) Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch sea salt
1 can pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut, rice…)
2 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1/2 chocolate chips (to keep these dairy-free, you can use vegan, available at Whole Foods) (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Either line muffin pan with liners or grease using coconut oil. This recipe makes about 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins. Or mix it up like I did with 24 minis and 6 large.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, large enough to hold all of the wet ingredients, beat the eggs. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture (or vice versa) and stir to combine. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into muffin tins to a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden on the outside and baked through. You should be able to stick a toothpick through the center and pull it out clean.

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Homemade Cereal

I’ve always had a serious appreciation for cereal. As a kid, I loved it so much I wouldn’t even put milk in it – I never understood why one would one do such a thing as to dampen that satisfying crunch. Like most kids, I went through stages of favorite boxes. The childhood staple was hands down Frosted Flakes. Then Oh’s – do you remember those? In my more mature high school years I gorged on Raisin Bran Crunch and Honey Bunches of Oats. And in college I rediscovered the greatness of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Mmmmm.

Up until I went gluten and dairy free I still had my cereal just about every morning for breakfast. It’s easy, filling, and goes perfectly with a cup of coffee and/or orange juice. The problem is most out there are loaded with sugar and empty calories that set you up for a spike in blood sugar and energy followed by a just as rapid decline later in the morning. We feel it as adults. So just imagine what that kind of roller coaster does to kids who eat these sugar-laden flakes before heading out the door to sit in a classroom. Um, can you say disaster?

When shopping for a cereal, like all boxed foods, check the labels. Read the ingredient lists closely. A lot of popular cereals list sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) as the second or third ingredient. Ingredients are listed in quantity so that means there’s more sugar in it than just about anything else. If there’s any sugar at all in your cereal of choice, it should be way, way, down on the list. Like, last. What you want to see is “whole-grain” and it should be pretty high up there. The more whole-grains, the more satisfying and filling you’ll find a cereal to be. Whole-grain means the fiber is intact, which happens to the most nutritious part of a whole grain – and it helps to regulate the breakdown and absorption of the starch into your blood stream. That means no more highs and lows and a more sustainable energy to last you through the morning.

As I mentioned, I ate cereal almost daily for breakfast up until going gluten-free. My favorite cereals were some of the harder food items for me to part with. I know there are gluten-free cereals out there, and I’m sure some are quite good, but, oh, those labels. Instead I opted for rice cakes and peanut butter, smoothies, and fruit and nuts in the morning. Until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I craved that crunch. So I went to the blogs and sure enough Sarah B. didn’t disappoint. I found her Simple Gourmet Granola and I’ve been keeping my pantry stocked with the stuff ever since.

I remember making the cereal that same morning, popping it in the oven, and feeling frustrated that I had to wait for it bake rather than pouring it from a box. Is this what my life has come to?  I have to make everything?! Ugh. When it was finally ready and I snuck a few flakes to taste, I remember that crunch… I thought, “THANK YOU GOD!” grateful to be reunited with an old go-to. I have the same reaction whenever I discover or make anything gluten/dairy-free that I thought I might never enjoy again. And you know what? Often the new version is even better than the old. Or maybe it just tastes that way when you appreciate it that much more.

Homemade Cereal

Ingredients

4 cups whole rolled oats*
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup coconut flakes
4 tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup honey
¼ tsp salt

*If gluten-free, make sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large baking sheet with coconut oil.

Heat a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil and honey to the pan to melt. Stir the two together to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, add oats, almonds, coconut flakes and salt. Stir to combine.

Slowly pour coconut oil-honey mixture over the cereal. You want to cover as much of the cereal as possible so drizzle over the surface to cover, then stir to mix evenly.

Pour cereal mix onto baking sheet and spread evenly across sheet.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Spiced Apple Muffins

I love that you can take anything, make it miniature, and it’s instantly cute. Baby shoes, cute. Little nail polishes, cute. Mini Tobasco, cute. And of course, bite-sized muffins… cute. This is a universal truth. I made these little spiced apple muffins for Easter brunch a few weeks ago. They started out as an experiment with a new gluten-free flour blend, but turned out so well that I thought I’d share.

You’ll notice the recipe calls for a whole-grain flour mix. You can use plain ol’ whole wheat flour or your favorite gluten-free flour blend. There are pre-blended mixes out there, or you can try making your own by combining your gluten-free favorites (almond, buckwheat, brown rice, tapioca, etc.). I’ll post more about gluten-free flour blends soon. G-free folks, stay tuned!

Spiced Apple Muffins

Ingredients:

350 grams whole-grain flour mix (about 1 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs (or whisk together 2 tbsp ground flax seed + 6 tbsp water = 2 eggs)
300 grams milk (cow, almond, rice, soy…your choice)
1/2 cup applesauce
50 grams coconut oil, melted
1 apple, peeled and diced small

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pan (12 large or 24 mini).
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom). In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and applesauce. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in diced apple.
Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

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What’s All the Fuss About Coconut Oil?

Move over olive oil… it’s coconut’s time to shine.

It seems everyone is talking about coconut oil these days, so I thought I’d take a stab at explaining what all the fuss is about. Coconut oil is a saturated fat (gasp!)…. Hold it right there…I know, after all these years of putting saturated fat on the same level as the devil himself, we’re hearing a different story. It turns out not all saturated fats are created equal and we’ve learned the body actually needs saturated fat for really important things like brain cells and hormones. The real demons are now the ones treated artificially — liquid fats that are manipulated to make them solid at room temperature by adding hydrogen (aka “hydrogenated”) to create “trans fats.” Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature all on its own making it naturally more stable and capable of handling higher temperatures without burning and creating free radicals — those things that cause major cellular damage (ie. signs of aging, inflammation, cancer, etc.).

Aside from being able to handle the heat, coconut oil is oozing with health benefits. It’s linked with boosting metabolism, improving heart health, supporting the immune system and maintaining a lean body. Our bodies actually burn coconut oil differently than they do other fats. The fatty acids in coconut oil are much smaller so they’re easier for the body to use. That means we’re able to burn the fat quickly and use it up as energy, instead of storing it (Now, that’s my kind of non-fat!). As if that weren’t enough, this little miracle worker does wonders for the skin too. Use it as a substitute for butter in baking, to saute vegetables, as a moisturizer, eye-makeup remover… you can even take it daily as a supplement. Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? If so, this is my Windex!

To truly reap the benefits, look for these buzz words on the label: virgin, organic, unrefined, and cold pressed or expeller pressed. There are coconut oils out there that are refined or processed to neutralize the flavor and extend the product’s shelf life. You don’t want that. When buying coconut oil, go for the pure stuff. Also, you might see some that are labeled “extra-virgin,” which is not really a thing as it is with olive oils. For coconut oil, virgin is as good as it gets. Just so you know…

Fun fact: Coconut oil was actually what movie theaters originally used to pop popcorn until saturated fat became a no-no. But the stuff they were using was far from the pure coconut oil we’re talking about here. I’d imagine it did give those kernels that perfect combo of sweet and salty though.

Want to give it a try? Use coconut oil as you would olive oil to saute vegetables. Itching to bake? Here are a few recipes that use coconut oil:

Banana Nut Muffins
Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Raw Cheesecake

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Go-Bananas Banana Nut Muffins

Ba. Nanas. That’s all I can say about these unbelievably, crazy, so-delicious-you’ll-go-bananas banana nut muffins. That, and literally, they really are just bananas. It’s pretty easy to make healthy baked goods when the star ingredient is naturally sweet all on it’s own. Plus, all the moisture from the bananas lets you get away with a heck of a lot less fat and zero sugar in this recipe. That’s right, these guys are 100% sugar-free. There’s not an once/bit/speck of sugar in here.  Zilch. Zero. Nada.

The trouble with most baked goods is the combo of sugar (the refined white stuff) and flour (the other refined white stuff) and unhealthy fat. Traditional white flour and sugar has been processed to remove the fiber and virtually all of the nutrition right along with it, leaving not much other than sugar and starch (which to the body might as well be sugar). Whole grain flours (and whole sweeteners too) still have their fiber and nutrition in tact, which helps to slow the absorption of sugar/starch in the blood stream. That, plus the added fiber from the bananas, keeps you from feeling those sugar highs and lows. You get a steadier energy and can finally exit the sugar roller coaster ride.

Once the batter is whipped up, I add chopped walnuts and also dates, which give some extra whole-food, natural sweetness. These little treats are my new favorite breakfast, snack, bread and dessert. Wholesome. Sugar-free. Dairy-free. Gluten-free. Sweet. Dense. And soul-warmingly delicious. Ba. Nanas.

Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients:

1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 bananas
3/4 cup ground flax
3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a food processor or blender, combine the almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla and bananas. Blend until smooth.

Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the banana mixture and stir until evenly mixed. Fold in the nuts and dates.

Pour the batter into a greased or lined 12-muffin pan. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Makes 12 muffins.

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I call these my “grown-up” rice crispy treats. They’re the more mature and sophisticated version of the original marshmallow treat. That is, as mature and sophisticated as a treat you lick off your fingers can be…

With real ingredients, all natural sweeteners and protein-rich peanut butter, could it be that one of the funnest foods ever created could be healthy too? Don’t tell the kids!

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups organic brown rice syrup
3/4 cup organic peanut butter*
2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil
6 cups brown rice cereal (gluten-free)
1/4 cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips (optional)

*I used fresh ground, organic peanut butter. Look for one with as few ingredients as possible – just peanuts and oil. No sugar or anything you can’t pronounce.

Directions:

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper covers the bottom and all four sides of the pan. In a small sauce pan, heat the brown rice syrup over medium heat. When the syrup begins to bubble, add the coconut oil and peanut butter and continue stirring until you have a good mixture.

Place the rice crispy cereal in a large glass bowl. If you like, stir in some cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips for some added chocolate flavor. Slowly stir in the warm syrup mixture using a silicone spatula to evenly coat the cereal. The syrup will bind the cereal together.

Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly to cover the bottom of the pan and extend to all sides and corners. Press the surface with a spatula, or use your hand with a sheet of parchment paper to flatten and smooth it out.

Chill in the fridge for about an hour, until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into squares with a knife.

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