I’ve been eating eggs for breakfast for like… ever. Especially while pregnant, I’m always looking for more ways to add protein and healthy fat into my daily meals so I can stay energized while eating for two. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of having some morning eggs, toast, and fruit in our household. This meal has been ingrained in me since childhood! Not to say there is anything inherently wrong with bread and fruit… but they are not protein-rich and tend to lead to energy crashes if it’s the only thing you eat in the morning. To better balance your hormones and energy - we need protein and healthy fat to start the day. I tried out these nut flour muffins this week and have to say, although they don’t feel like a classic muffin, they are tasty and much healthier for you (gluten free as well!) than toast with jam. Try ‘em out with your eggs and a side of wild boar sausage for a mega-fueled breakfast of champions!
Nut Flour Muffins:
1 ½ cups raw, organic nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and/or pecans)
¼ cup maple syrup
3 eggs from pastured chickens
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Zest of one lemon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a blender (VitaMix is best), grind nuts until flour-like consistency; use a spatula to scrape sides if it becomes sticky. Add maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and salt and blend together until there is a smooth consistency.
Pour into sprayed or buttered muffin pan. Bake ~12 minutes, until golden brown and your toothpick comes out clean. Slather generously with grass-fed butter and enjoy hot! Makes 6 standard-sized muffins.
Who doesn’t love girl scout cookies? Come on, most of you are craving them every time you pass by their little stands outside of Walgreens or the grocery store - I know I do. Problem is, they are really bad for you! I will praise the day when the girl scouts stop using hydrogenated oils and so many processed ingredients in their treats. I mean, it’s about time, right!
My all time favorite girl scout cookie is the Samoa:
Dark chocolate, coconut, caramel, shortbread cookie. I crave these things normally during girl scout season, BUT this year my sister sent me a “fake samoa” recipe that was full of healthy stuff, and I thought - I’m gonna break the cycle and try these instead! I think it worked. They have been in the freezer for a few days now, and I haven’t missed a real samoa at all. They are different, mind you - the texture is different and they need to be frozen, but the flavor is very close to the “real thing”, even though the “real thing” is more full of “fake” ingredients than these are. Get me? See what you think.
Almost Raw Samoa Cookie Bars:
(modified from Cooking a la Mel)
For the “shortbread base”:
- 2 cups walnuts, or walnut and pecan mix
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut
- ¼ cup raw honey
- 1 t vanilla extract
- ¼ t sea salt
- 1 ½ cups dates, soaked for about 10 minutes in hot water
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 t vanilla
- 1/8 t salt
- 1C unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 C dark chocolate chips
For the shortbread base:
In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and coconut together until in fine crumbs. Add in the honey, vanilla, and sea salt, and process until a moist dough forms.
Press the dough into a parchment lined 9×9 inch baking pan.
Toast the shredded coconut at 350ºF for about 5-8 minutes, until golden (be careful not to burn it). Allow it to cool while you make the “caramel.”
After soaking the dates, drain the water, and pulse in a food processor until a paste forms. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and salt, and process until smooth. Add the shredded coconut, and pulse until just combined.
Scoop the coconut “caramel” mixture out, and spread it evenly across the top of the “shortbread” base.
Transfer to the freezer for about 15 minutes, until set.
Place the chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl, and microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until fully melted.
Remove the bars from the freezer. Transfer the melted chocolate to a ziplock bag using a rubber spatula. Snip off the corner of the bag, and drizzle the chocolate over the bars.
Place back in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate has hardened, then take out the whole sheet of cookie with parchment paper (it will be hardened and set firmly), cut it into squares large or small. Place them in an airtight container & store in the freezer.
They get melty the longer they are outside of the freezer, so enjoy cold and eat often.
My sister emailed me a recipe for gluten-free pancakes a few weeks ago and claimed they were the B.E.S.T. After my mom made them, and my DAD claimed the same thing, I decided I had to try them, at least once. See, I’m no big pancake eater or maker, for that matter. But I was drawn to the idea of a gluten-free, no refined flour, low sugar, higher protein, and still tastes great and looks great pancake. My first batch wasn’t all that. But after tweaking the recipe to my liking, I found these to truly be pancakes worth sharing. When you are in the mood for that little indulgence and don’t want to feel guilty or gross afterwards - here’s what you do:
½ C gluten-free whole oats*
½ C whole milk cottage cheese
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
¼ tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
small pinch sea salt
½ tsp natural vanilla extract, optional
Makes about 4 medium sized cakes.
That’s it. It’s super easy. Blend all these ingredients in a blender until batter is smooth. Use some coconut oil to grease your pan and start flipping away! These cook rather quickly; once you flip them once to the second side, you will the see the pancake rise in the center and inflate a bit. Once it stops rising, it’s done. Add some fresh fall fruit or pumpkin puree on top and enjoy (with only a slight drizzle of maple syrup and butter if desired). That’s all they need! A true treat. These also don’t taste an inch like cottage cheese, if you are not a fan. Tested on a husband who avoids it like the plague. :)
You can also double this recipe and make for the whole family, or save some batter for yourself in the fridge to use throughout the week for a fast and delicious breakfast.
*Oats are naturally gluten-free, but most companies package them in facilities where contamination from other gluten sources is inevitable - so certainly for a serious allergy, look for a brand that states gluten-free on the label.
Nourishing Breakfast: Congee
Congee, at its most basic, is a lot like oatmeal: warm, porridge-like grain soup served in bowls. But cooked over long periods of time and garnished with additional healing foods (made savory or sweet), congee can be the spark that leads to weight loss, increased metabolic function, healthier digestion, and stronger immunity. It is the standard Asian healing food for the sick or malnourished. Congee is also generally gluten-free, classically made with rice. You will notice that congee is very easily digested, you will feel hungry again about 1-2 hours after eating it! This meal is a great way to kickstart your digestion and metabolism and allow your body to fully absorb nutrients upon waking. Adding in meats, nuts, egg, fish stock etc will add protein for a fuller meal.
Today I made a sweet & simple congee, although I do like the savory versions as well - even for breakfast - so I’ll describe a few alternatives to this recipe you may want to experiment with. Made this way, it’s enough for the whole family to enjoy in the morning - with no prep work for you!
Brown Rice Congee:
1 C short or long grain brown rice
6 C water
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large handful dried goji berries (gou qi zi)
Place all ingredients into a slow-cooker or crock pot and set on low. Cook overnight, or for about 8-9 hours on the low setting. Serve with garnishes of your choice (see below).
- for this congee I made a topping of walnuts, sliced almonds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds & goji berries, mixed with a drizzle of olive oil, honey, and sea salt. Stir this nut mixture up and use as a garnish for congee, plain yogurt, or smoothies. Keeps in the fridge for about 10 days.
- for creamier sweet congee, sub 1 C coconut milk for 1 C water and cook as directed.
- for savory congee, instead of goji berries, add bamboo shoots, diced carrots or sweet potato, or ½ C dried mung beans and cook as directed. Also try cooking in half chicken or fish broth, half water. Or garnish with diced boiled egg, pickled veggies, sea salt, pepper, & olive oil.
Curry has many ingredients, but once you gather everything together and chop a few items, it’s real easy from there - and fast! This is one of my favorite curries to make, especially in the summer when it’s hot and you can sweat a bit. It’s adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe. It’s very herbaceous and colorful and has a rich source of spices that stimulate the digestion and help with weight loss and even joint pain. Pile some extra fresh herbs on top with wedges of lime and you have a perfectly balanced meal with all 5 food flavors - pungent, sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.
Thai Seafood Curry
You can substitute several of these items - use tilapia or shrimp as your seafood or a combination of two would be great (halibut, although pricey, is perfect in this), use a red chili for the fresno pepper if you like spice, use soba noodles instead of rice, or make vegetarian with zucchini and green beans added in (although the seafood gives it a wonderful flavor you won’t have otherwise!). Whatever you do, don’t use tempeh - it was a big, huge downer.
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, large chop
3 shallots, chopped
1 red fresno pepper, fine chop
1 in. piece ginger, grated
2 limes, use zest (~1.5 tsp), squeeze one lime for 2 Tbsp juice & reserve other
8-10 shakes of fish sauce
3 tsp red curry paste (maybe 4 if you like it spicy)
1 can UNsweetened coconut milk
½-¾ lb fresh fish; halibut, tilapia, shrimp work well or a combo
½ C each basil and cilantro, chopped (think about thai basil)
Saute first 4 ingredients on medium heat for 5 minutes until peppers soften. Add next 4 ingredients (with lime zest and juice) and stir well. Add coconut milk ½ can at a time, stirring often to get spices well blended and simmer while stirring about 5 minutes. Lightly season fish or shrimp with salt and pepper and add. Simmer until just cooked through about 5 minutes more. Add most of both herbs, stir to incorporate 1 minute, then serve hot in bowls with ½ cup rice, more herbs on top, and a wedge of lime.