Monday, November 21, 2011

Blackberry Pear Crisp -- Oh so yummy!

Yesterday we had some friends over for dinner and I was wishing for some dessert that I could eat while not sabotaging my weight loss efforts (6 pounds gone so far!)  I have plenty of raw food desserts up my sleeve, but I wanted something warm and without any kind of flour.

I noticed some blackberries in my fridge and thought they would taste wonderful in the oven.  So I went through the options.  Pie?  No.  Cobbler?  Another no.  Crisp?   Oooh, I love apple crisps or any of those fruit crisps with the crumbled oatmeal topping.  But those have butter, sugar, sometimes flour, and yes, oatmeal.  The only food I'd allow was the oatmeal.  So I started to think. . . If I started out with a raw food recipe, but cooked it, it would still be whole foods and would be better than the traditional crisp recipe.

I remembered that I can make a cookie dough like paste from equal parts of walnuts and dates.  So I blended up a cup of each.  Then I mixed it by hand with a cup of oatmeal and had my crisp topping!  How simple is that?

Next I got out the berries (I had 2 cups) and saw that it wasn't quite enough for a crisp on its own.  I wanted enough to be able to share with guests and not just have my own private dessert while they ate the brownies I'd already made.

I remembered I had some pears in the pantry that were perfectly ripe and thought, "Oooh, yes, I love baked pears!"  So I washed and cut 3 pears and mixed them with the berries.  I chopped the bigger berries in 1/2 just to get them more mixed in with the pears and added a tablespoon of pure maple syrup since store-bought blackberries aren't nearly as flavorful as handpicked. 

Then I put the berries in a round baking stone, topped it with the oatmeal mix and realized I should add a little holiday flavor.  So I sprinkled about 1/2 t. of pumpkin pie spice over the top of the mix.  That could have been blended in earlier, but it worked this way for me.

I baked it for about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees and covered it in foil after about 5 minutes because I could see that the topping was browning far too fast (perhaps due to the oil content in the nuts?)

It was much tastier than I had expected.  It's definitely a keeper!

 Blackberry Pear Crisp

2 c. fresh blackberries (frozen may work, but I haven't tried it yet)
3 large pears, cut into small squares
1 T. pure maple syrup (optional)

Mix fruit together in a bowl and set in a baking pan

1 c. walnuts
1 c. dates (not soaked)
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (you may want to increase it to 1 t. if you really love the flavor)

Blend nuts and dates in a food processor until completely smooth.  Mix in oatmeal and pumpkin pie spice by hand. 

Plop the oatmeal dough on top of the fruit to almost cover the fruit.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Take foil off and let top brown for the last few minutes.

If you want it to serve more people, you can double the fruit and make it a deeper dished dessert.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Smash -- Jamba Juice style!

I've tweaked a few Jamba Juice recipes that I found on-line for Pumpkin Smash and came up with a few that my kids and I love!  I want to work with it a bit more to see if I can take out the soy creamy, but for now, this is where it stands.  We've made it two ways and both are yummy.  I tend to make it with the peaches to give me more nutrients and to save a few calories.  I'll give you both recipes since I add a bit of soy milk to the peach recipe to keep the creaminess in.  The full-fledged soy ice cream way is super creamy, though and quite wonderful.

Pumpkin Smash Smoothie

2 c. vanilla soy ice cream **
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. vanilla soy milk
2 T. agave or 3 T. real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 c. ice

Blend it all up in your blender on high until smooth.   Divide amongst 2 tall glasses and savor.  Ahhh!

Pumpkin Smash Smoothie w/peaches

1 c. vanilla soy ice cream **
1 c. frozen peaches
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 1/4 c. vanilla soy milk
2 T. agave or 3 T. real maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 c. ice

** I use Soy Creamy from Trader Joe's.  It's about 1/2 the cost of any other soy ice cream and is really tasty.  The only other brands of soy ice cream that I like are So Delicious and Purely Decadent.  Don't confuse So Delicious with SOY Delicious.  The latter is nasty tasting stuff!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pomegranate Salsa -- Raw Recipe!

I promised a birthday friend yesterday (Hi Lareesa!) that I'd post my newfound Pomegranate Salsa recipe for her birthday.  It's a bit belated, but I'm sure her pomegranates haven't gone bad yet.  I should just call it Birthday Pomegranate Salsa because my friend Thira made this pomegranate salsa for my birthday. (She brought it to a picnic we had with friends out on the grass by the lighthouse.  It was so wonderful!)  Thira had heard me talk about how pomegranates are my very favorite food and she told me I needed to try her recipe.  Well, I loved it!  I probably ate 1/2 of it that day! I finally bought all the stuff I needed and made it the other day and once again, tasty and heavenly!

I will admit to trying to just mix pomegranate seeds with the salsa I already had (which is my favorite fresh salsa from where I used to live -- Casa Lindra.  I wish they sold it everywhere, but you can only get it within about 100 miles of Humboldt County.  I have friends bring it to me when they visit).  But it wasn't spectacular with the pomegranate thrown in.  I needed to make Thira's recipe. 

When I ate it the first time, I had some tortilla chips, but these last few days, I've just been eating it with carrots.  The salsa is not blended up at all, just mixed, so it's harder to dip veggies in.  So I just broke my carrots into bitesize pieces and threw them in and ate it with a spoon.  Tasted great!

Try it yourself and let me know how you like it!

Pomegranate Salsa

Pomegranate seeds, extracted (either 2 small or 1 very large)
2 avocados sliced into small chunks
2-3 diced tomatoes (she said 2, I ended up using another one)
1/2 red onion
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 t. coriander
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Mix all together.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post-poning your cravings

This morning I made my healthified brownies for the early morning Seminary class that I teach.  I try to have some food for them each morning in case they have to leave their house without eating first.  I'm on the weight-loss quest right now, so the plan was for me not to eat any.  I was fine whipping them up and taking them out of the oven.  I knew I could resist them without a hitch.

A few hours later, I walked into the house after taking some of my kids to school and I saw the rest of the brownies on the counter.  All of the sudden my memory of not being tempted by them had vanished.  I wanted some brownies.  They were much more tempting and I started evaluating my need to stick with my plan.  I figured another day without reaching my goal wouldn't hurt and was about to eat one (or two or three -- it always spirals from there). 

Thankfully, I paused to ask myself if this is what I really wanted.  Was the brownie more important than my goal to fit back into most of my clothes?  No, it wasn't.  Would I ever be able to eat a brownie again?  Sure.  I could make more another day and could eat one then if I wanted.  But it wouldn't be today. 

I love the power of post-poning my cravings. I can save them for another day.  And the great thing is that cravings are temporary.  They may seem so strong at the moment, but if you let them pass, later on, it's quite possible that they won't be so powerful.  You just have to beat them in the heat of the moment.  It's so empowering to do that!  Give it a try and you'll get closer to your healthy eating goals, too.  TTFN!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oatmeal a' la Jamba Juice! -- Recipe

I absolutely love Jamba Juice.  I love their smoothies, I love their friendly employees, I love their baseball caps and t-shirts,  I love their fun signs and playful font, and I love how there's always a lot of sunshine coming in through their windows!  If I could get them to make me a smoothie every day, I would.  (Pumpkin Smash*, 5 Fruit Frenzy, and Peach Perfection are my favorites).  I've tried to get my kids to get a job there so they could bring me one home after work, but I've only found the Job Applications on the bedroom floor afterward.  Oh well!

My latest discovery is their steel cut oatmeal.  Granted, I've only tried one flavor, but once I find one I love, I have no need to try another.  I absolutely LOVE their Blueberry & Blackberry oatmeal.  I always have them OMIT the brown sugar crumble topping and just have the oatmeal with the berries.  I make oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon at home quite often, but it's not as dreamy as this oatmeal.  Theirs is so soft and super tasty.  I just love it.

The sad part is that:
  1. It's expensive unless they are offering their "Do you want some oatmeal with your drink for $1 off?" deal, but usually I don't want oatmeal when I already have a smoothie.  
  2. They never seem to have it when I'm there.  I usually go into Jamba Juice after school with my kids and they've started stopping (I know that sounds weird to write start and stop together, but it's how it happened in my head) selling the oatmeal after 3:00 at our closest store.  Once I got there at 2:30 on an early release day and they had run out.  !!!
I just have to insert my sad oatmeal airport story.  A few weeks ago, I flew to Arizona for a wedding.  When I was at the airport waiting to depart, I passed a Jamba Juice.  I had already eaten breakfast and was quite content.  I just didn't have room for Jamba Juice.  But I made a mental note that it would be wonderful to have some of the oatmeal when I got to Phoenix since I had a layover in L.A. and knew I'd be hungry again.  (Who in their right mind would want those honey peanuts they serve on the plane? -- Blech!)

When I got to the Phoenix airport, I walked out of my way hunting for a Jamba Juice, but never found one.  I was busy enough while I was visiting that I couldn't stop at one, but the craving was still planted in my heart and I did indeed think about it.  On the way home, I was determined to get some oatmeal back at my airport when I arrived.  It was only going to be noon, so they couldn't pull the, "We don't serve oatmeal after 3:00" trick on me.  I got off the plane and smiled as I saw the Jamba Juice sign so bright and cheery.  I walked up and ordered a Berry Oatmeal and they said they weren't selling it that day.   I was so sad!

So I determined that I need to figure out how to make oatmeal just as wonderful as theirs and not depend on them to have it anymore.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.  I still haven't found a good Pumpkin Smash recipe, but I'm going to work on this today.  My euphoria from figuring out the oatmeal is giving me the belief that it can be done!

First I just Googled it, but didn't find anything even worthy to try.   I knew the basic ingredients were the oatmeal, soymilk and berries and figured they had sweetened the berries a bit even w/o the brown sugar.  Here's what I came up with and oh was it heavenly!

Jamba Juice Berry Oatmeal

1 c. old fashioned oats
2 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. organic plain soy milk
1 c. berries (I used the frozen 3 berry blend from Costco)
1 T. pure maple syrup

I use a rice cooker for my oatmeal and cracked wheat. It keeps me from burning my grains and keeps it warm for me when I walk away and forget about it.

Put the oatmeal and water in the rice cooker.  Click the "Cook" setting.  When it's all cooked (it probably took 15-20 minutes) and has changed to the "Warm" setting, then add the soy milk and stir in.  Let it sit and warm for a few minutes.  I was amazed at how soft and fluffy this made the oatmeal.

Stir the berries in a pot with the maple syrup on top of the stove.  Bring to a boil and let boil out most of the liquid that develops when the frozen berries thaw.

Scoop the oatmeal into a bowl and add the berries on top.  Should be enough to serve 2.  Enjoy on these cold November mornings!

* Just wanted to clarify that when I get the Pumpkin Smash smoothie, I have them substitute frozen peaches for the frozen yogurt.  It's just wonderful and doesn't give me the refined sugar or the dairy.   There's only been one time that the worker totally messed it up.  I took a sip, it was soup-y and weird and went back to tell him it should be more frozen.  He tried adding ice and then it was just ice-y and weird.  So he offered to make a new one and I explained how the other people had done it before - just sub frozen peaches for the frozen yogurt and it turned out just fine.  They are great at guaranteeing satisfaction!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Plan around your Vegetables

I found a way to plan a menu!  It's not my dream of planning my whole day's menu and absolutely sticking to it (I'd be militant in my life with things like this if I could).  And it's not planning a weekly menu where I can look at the calendar and see what I'd be eating that whole week for dinner.  (Maybe that will come later).  But it IS figuring out dinner before 5:00 that night so I actually make dinner and eat with my family.  I even eat a decent breakfast and lunch on occasion, too.

What I've been doing this past week is each day, I think in the morning of what I'd like to eat that night that would give me at least 2 or 3 vegetables amidst.  Usually I work with what is in my pantry or fridge, but if I have to run down to the market for some mushrooms or spinach, I can do it and it works well.  Even with my other meals, I try to think vegetables first.  I don't always feel like eating vegetables for breakfast.  Most of the time I eat fruit.  Sometimes I choose oatmeal or cracked wheat instead.  But occasionally I'll want some eggs with salsa, spinach and mushrooms stirred in.  At lunch, I think soup, beans or sandwich with veggies.  I should be thinking salads or green smoothies, but I've been stubborn with that lately.  Maybe it's my move (I love blaming my inability to get back to my usual goals on moving, have you noticed? -- but it's almost been a year, I need to shape up and get my good groove back). 

So that's my healthy hint for the day.  Think about what vegetable dish sounds good, then build your meal around that.  Simple is fine, as long as you get your ever so nutrient dense veggies for the day.  TTFN!