Guaya Popcorn (think trail mix-ish)

Makes 8-10 cups

Snacks became an important part of my diet when I first got pregnant.  It was the only way to quell the incessant nausea.  It was relentless for about 17 weeks, after which I couldn’t complain because I was lucky to find 2nd trimester bliss where I know many women who felt ill throughout.  The good news is that the worse you feel, the better it is for the baby growing inside!  Knowing that bit of info was one thing that got me through it.  This popcorn/trail mix was another!

Corn has gotten a bad rap lately and it’s for good reason.  Because we produce so much of it here, and it’s heavily subsidized, it sneaks it’s way into EVERYTHING we eat!  It becomes our sugar, oil, starch, and animal feed, so that the burger (not the grass-fed one) you’re eating is also CORN!  But, corn, in its whole form is full of wonderful health benefits.  It is high in Vitamin C and manganese and is a great source of fiber.  Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and plays a key role in leveling blood sugar too, particularly when combined with protein which corn is naturally high in.  The different colors offer a wide range of antioxidant phytonutrients.  That’s good news for our cardiovascular health.

Ready for more good news!  Drying corn, whether separated as kernels or still on the cob, doesn’t significantly lower the corn’s antioxidant potency.  Traditional cultures such as the Native American tribes (in all Americas) relied heavily on dried corn throughout the cold winter.  One need not look further than how traditional cultures prepared and ate their food.  They were connected to the land that bore their food and understood it in a way that is lost upon us, as a whole, now.  But rest assured, it is the most healthful and most delicious way to eat.

If you have the chance to pick up some heirloom kernels, do so! They’re smaller and come in all those beautiful colors that will indeed up the gourmet-ante on this delicious snack.

You’ll need:

1 C organic corn kernels

2 T refined coconut oil

Sea salt, to taste

1/2 C raw almonds, chopped

1/2 C raw cashews, chopped

1/2 C pumpkin seeds

1/2 C raisins

2 T organic butter, (pastured if possible:)

1/3 C honey

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t cardamom

To make:

1. In a large (deep) stock or soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat.  After a couple of minutes, drop 2-3 kernels in to test.  When they pop, take pot off the heat and add the full cup of kernels to cover bottom of pot in one layer.  Add some sea salt and then bring back to medium heat.  Keep partially covered.  When you hear the popping, give the kernels a hand by shaking the pot back and forth a bit, to prevent any from burning.  Keep this up till you have a nice full pot of fresh popped corn.

2.  Spread the popcorn out on 1 or 2 sheet pans.  Add nuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins.

3.  In the pot, melt the butter and honey and add spices.  Add this mixture to the popcorn mix and blend well.

4.  Optional step:  I sometimes (time permitting) throw these sheet pans into the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes just so that everything gets extra crispy.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get to this step, but it does last longer and stays crispier.

5.  Enjoy!

P.S. For a vegan version, substitute the butter for the same amount of extra virgin coconut oil and sweeten with agave instead of honey:)

Update; April 14, 2012:

Just found this article – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120325173008.htm  It talks about the antioxidant level in popcorn!  Check it out!

Dreamy Creamy Oatmeal

Serves 4


Sometimes there’s nothing better than a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning.  There are a million different way to dress up oatmeal, but this is an easy and delicious way.  It’s also one of my favorite.

Steel cut oats are superior in that they are more “whole” or less processed than quicker cooking rolled oats.  Oats are incredible blood sugar stabilizers.  They are a good source of complex carbs and soluble fiber and do well to lower cholesterol, regulate the thyroid and soothe the digestive system.  My sister, who is studying to become an herbalist, would be proud of this next tidbit of oat info :  oats are the one adaptogen grain, which means they improve resistance to stress and support a healthy state of balance.  (See Rebecca Wood’s, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia for more info.)

Oh, and regular organic milk works beautifully in this recipe, too.

You’ll need:

1 C steel cut oats, soaked overnight in 2 cups water and 1 T lemon juice

1 C coconut milk

¼ C dried fruit, raisins or cranberries or cherries or blueberries, etc

1 T ground flaxseeds or chia seeds

1-2 T maple syrup

¼ t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/8 t fresh nutmeg

1 t vanilla extract (optional)

¼ C chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans or almonds or pistachios

a handful of pepitas

To make:

1.  Place oats with soaking water, coconut milk, dried fruit and spices in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered until oats are tender and oatmeal looks creamy, about 20-30min.

2.  When oatmeal is creamy, stir in flaxseeds or chia seeds and vanilla if using.

3. Dress each serving individually, placing ½ cup of oatmeal in a bowl and top with nuts, a dash of cinnamon and 1t maple syrup.

4. Enjoy!

Note:  For variations, use fresh fruit such as bananas or berries instead of dried fruit.  Add 1T almond or cashew butter.  There are no limits to how you can play with oatmeal!

GF Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 24 cookies

 

As much as I love to cook, I love to bake.  I particularly enjoy experimenting with healthy versions of all the goodies out there.  I favor organic flours and natural sweeteners just because they are healthier.  Of course, binging on these isn’t a good idea either…trust me!  But when you’re in the mood for something sweet, there’s no need to head to the refined alleys of dessert-ville.  There are a myriad of choices out there (some better than others) especially if your diet is somehow restricted.  I have had better luck with my GF baking experiments than I’ve had with vegan ones, though I just made a delicious vegan and GF tart that just may have to make its way to these pages!

This version of the cookie uses very little sweetener because I relied on the sweetness of the dried cherries.  Dried fruit goes a long way.  Cherries are very low in sodium and high in vitamin A and dietary fiber. They support joint health and are helpful for those with arthritis, rheumatism and gout.  The one catch is that this dried fruit is a bit higher on the sugar content than other fruits.  If you don’t love this idea, any dried fruit would work wonderfully!  If you do experiment, please leave me a comment and let me know how they came out!

You’ll need:

1/2C organic butter (1 stick), softened

1/4C coconut or date sugar

2 large organic eggs

1 t vanilla extract

1C almond meal or hazelnut meal

1C Brown Rice Flour

1/3C oat flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you want them chocolatey)

1/2 dried cherries, roughly chopped

a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

1. In a food processor, add butter and coconut sugar and process until creamy (about 30 seconds should do it).  Add the eggs and vanilla and process to blend.

2. Add the almond meal, rice flour, oat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and process until dough forms.

3. 2 options: 1. You can add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to blend.  This will break up the chocolate chips and make chocolatey ‘streaks’ in your cookies.  Or 2. Place dough into a bowl and using a rubber spatula, incorporate the chocolate chips, cherries and pepitas.  (I go with the first option because it’s easier and there’s less to clean…every little bit helps when you’ve got a 5 month old to look after!)

4. Make walnut size balls (I use a heaping tablespoon as my measure) and press down lightly on each one.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely before digging in!

5. Enjoy!