Flaxseed, Millet, and Black Pepper Crackers

How does time go so fast?  I can’t believe it is almost November already.  When I was a young child I remember things taking so long to occur.  All I wanted was for the day to be over so that I could put my halloween costume on and go fill my pillow case up with candy.  Hours passed slowly.  Days passed slower.  Weeks felt like years… especially when Christmas was involved.  Couldn’t we just make it so that everyday in December gave birth to baby Jesus?  And therefore presents… my little brain didn’t quite understand.

Now time seems to flash by, each year leaving me feeling a little bit farther behind in the things I’d like to do, make, see, and read.  There is balance that I’m slowly learning year by year.  Each season offers different adventures, and of course, we want to do them all.  But sometimes that gets overwhelming.  Sometimes that take the joy out of the experience because the doing becomes more important than the being.

All week long I’ve been thinking that I need to make doughnuts for this post.  That was my plan!  I had to get it done.  (And I really wanted a doughnut.. duh).  But as life was happening I began to slowly come to the reality that my time table was not going to work out.  There were old friends to be around and new friends to make.  There was work and workouts.  There was sleeping in a little bit later because its too dark in the morning to actually want to get out of bed.  Doing was not going to happen.  Being was a better idea.  Engaged in the life that was actually swirling around me as opposed to planning for the things that I need to get done.

 Can I real talk you for a second?  I actually made these crackers several months ago and have yet to share them with you all.  Thats real life.  I sort of got excited about other things and these took to the back burner.  Does that mean that weren’t that good?  Absolutely not!  They are full of flavor and texture, perfect on there own or accompanied with a creamy, salty cheese.

These crackers are relatively easy.  Butter gets cut into the dry ingredients which includes two types of flour, flaxseed meal, salt, pepper, baking soda, and millet seeds for an added crunch.

Buttermilk gives this flour/butter mixture a big drink and hydrates them all up!

After a few turns on the table and rest in the fridge, the dough is all set to be rolled out and cut into perfect circles.

A prick of the fork ends the process before the oven takes over, browning these crackers to oblivion.

As far as crackers go, I suppose these could be considered “healthy.”  Whole grains and millet seeds provide lots of fiber and flaxseed have the benefit of omega 3s.

I would mostly just consider them tasty.  The black pepper adds a great savory quality that I think would be offset perfectly with a creamy cows milk cheese and blackberry jam.

Thats just my imagination talking though.

Flaxseed and Black Pepper Crackers

Recipe slightly adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  Set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flaxseed, flaxseed meal, flours, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Add the butter and work the butter into the flour using your fingers.
  3. Make a well in the center of the butter flour mixture.  Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a fork to bring the ingredients together.  All the dry ingredients should be moistened by the buttermilk.  The dough will be shaggy
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead together about 10 times to bring dough together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. When chilled, cut dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Use a 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out crackers.  Prick each cracker with a fork and place on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake crackers for about 15-18 minutes, until slightly browned on the edges.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.  Crackers will last for about 4 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

I love that food has the ability to take me back to another place in time.  One bite of something familiar and memories flow back as if it were yesterday.  Our taste buds can be path to the the past.

When I first moved to Portland I was going to culinary school in the evenings from four to nine.  I’d usually eat a late dinner afterward throwing something together that resided in my fridge.  On Friday nights the boyfriend and I would go to Whole Foods.  I got just about the same thing every week– soup, my favorite was mushroom barley, a seeded roll, and a container of granola that they made in-house.  I am definitely a creature of habit and that was my standard for a long time.

This stage of my life consisted of lots of strange, you could also say obsessive, habits.  I’d eat two crunchy kashi bars everyday- one with my cup of coffee that I ventured out to get around 2 o clock and the other at night before bed (except for weekend nights).  I did the same workout everyday.  Lots of cardio machines.  I had to be slightly insane to keep that boring nonsense up for so long.  I can’t recall what I had for breakfast but assuredly it was the same thing everyday.  I wrote my calorie intake down before I’d go to bed every night.  If it was over 2000 kcal I’d make note and go way under the next day.

This is just a glimpse of my crazy brain.  Needless to say I was in an unhealthy state regarding my relationship with food, one that had been taking place for several years prior to coming to Portland.

As I made and then ate this granola fresh from the oven Sunday my taste buds took me back to that time in my life.  It seems so long ago now.  Habits have changed, obsessions have been worked through.  But, nonetheless, I remember that state I was in.  Completely wrapped up in the outside of myself while ignoring all that was going on inside, the true driving force behind my behavior.

Food has been a double edged sword for me for quite some time now.

I love food.  I love the experience of baking, eating out, or having a meal with friends and family. I enjoy and look forward to the next meal.  I love to taste, smell, and admire the beauty that food offers our senses.

But while I greatly enjoy food I have feared it equally as much.  The fear comes from deeper places of desiring perfection or a “better” figure.  But the fear manifests itself in the same thing that I love and am passionate about.  It’s strange how that happens… one thing causing both excitement and anxiety.

I am glad to reflect on that time only to see how far I’ve come.  As I bite into this homemade granola I am transported back but I am also made aware of where I sit currently; a place where I can eat without the fear that each tiny calorie will add to my frame.  I sit more in a place of acceptance than of judgement for myself.  A place of continually seeking a healthy balance.

Alright, enough blabbing about my past food troubles.  If you made it through all that you a high five. Or pat on the back.  Your choice!  If you skipped to this part where I’ll talk about the granola, I totally understand.

This granola makes my taste buds so happy.  Its crunchy.  Its nutty.  Its crunchy some more.  Slightly sweet from honey and sugar it also has a bit of a salty bite every once in a while.  The cocoa powder adds a hint of chocolate flavor but nothing over powering.  The coconut oil lends itself beautifully against the nutty oats and toasted hazelnuts.  And millet seeds.  Oh millet seeds.  I adore them.  I really have no words.  They just make this granola a 1000 times better.  Trust me.

I enjoy my granola most topped with a little milk.  Maybe you like yours mixed with some fruit and yogurt.  Or perhaps on top of some ice cream with a touch of honey.  How-about just a handful right out of the jar?  Yeah, I do that a lot too.

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 11/2 Tbsp honey
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, hazelnuts, coconut, millet seeds, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, and coconut oil.  Place saucepan on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and bubbling occurs.  Remove from heat and pour over oat mixture.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir granola and continue baking for 10 minute intervals until golden and fragrant.  (mine was in for about 25 minutes)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Banana Ice Cream

Dear Future Me,

Its me.. I mean you.  Uhhh same thing.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned lately that you might want to remember.

One:  Wear a suit to an interview.  You might feel like your body is in some strange universe since you’ve been wearing stretchy pants for the last five months, BUT a suit is the way to go.  You’ll be looking mighty sharp next to all the people wearing t-shirts and jeans.  Also, bring cookies with you if you are telling them that you went to culinary school and like to bake.  It will be a good move.  Promise!

Two: Don’t be self conscious about going to the movies by yourself.  Yeah maybe you’re seeing a sappy love story sitting all by your lonesome while everyone else in the theater is sitting next to their best friend or significant other.  That says nothing about your self worth.. it just builds character.. somehow.  P.S.- Peanut m&ms build character too.

Three: Buying the Whole Foods brand of peanut butter might not be a good idea.  Yes, it tastes so good and reminds you of Peter Pan peanut butter cups but those four or five spoonfuls will catch up to.

Four:  Quit being a worry wart.  Its just unnecessary stress that leads to a dead end. Nothing good comes of it.

Five: Listen to people.  I mean like eye contact lots of empathy type listening.  It will make them feel loved and understood.  Its what you really want. We all need that.

Six: Write a handwritten letter to someone you love, appreciate, admire, or are thankful for.  Bring snail mail back in vogue.  The receiver will be delightfully surprised.

Seven: Make banana ice cream.  Again.

Let me tell you about this “ice cream.”  No cream.  No eggs.  No sugar even.  Its just bananas.

Yep, thats it!  Peeled. Frozen. Pureed.  Its that easy.

The result is a creamy, ice cream like treat that lends itself well to a multitude of toppings. I made three types from this batch; plain with a little cinnamon on top, peanut butter with a touch of cocoa powder, and chocolate chocolate.. cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and chocolate sprinkles.

The possibilities are many.  Let your imagination guide your taste buds.

Banana Ice Cream

I first saw this from Zuzanna a while back.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 frozen bananas (I used 2 and it made about 11/2 cups)
  • Extra toppings- nut butters, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, fruit, coconut, vanilla extract, etc.

Directions

  1. Peel, then cut bananas into bite sized pieces.  Place in freezer for 2-3 hours.
  2. Remove from freezer and place in food processor.  Process bananas until they blend into a creamy ice cream like consistency.
  3. Mix in any extras you’d like.
  4. Enjoy!

*Store any extras in air tight container in freezer.

Lime Curd

You guys!  Guess what?  I’m finished with college.  Yep, totally finished.

I was excited.  I gave myself a high five.  That was about it… slightly anti-climatic.

I wanted to eat like 5 cupcakes and relish in my accomplishment.  I want to travel the world for a little bit.  I want to bake a lot… with expensive chocolate.  I want win a bunch of money and just be set for a while.  Or maybe someone who really loves me a lot would just want to fund all of my travel/baking adventures… maybe take me on a shopping spree or two?

No?  Thats not gonna happen?  Shoot!

In the mean time, while the rain is pouring down and I’m avoiding sifting through job listings, lets talk about limes!  And curd!

I had a large bag of limes leftover after catering my friends wedding this past weekend so I decided to turn those green gems into something really tasty.

First limes get washed, zested, and juiced.  Time to pucker!

Next it’s time to separate eggs.  This curd uses two whole eggs and 4 yolks.  All those eggs  create a rich, smooth, creamy curd.

Butter and honey get satiny together and are whipped up before adding in the eggs and lime juice.

After a little heat, stirring, and lime zest your curd is finished!

Seriously, this curd is good.  I’m usually not a huge citrus fan but I really enjoyed this.  It has the perfect balance of tart and sweet.   Its smooth and creamy and literally melts in your mouth.

I just took another bite to be sure I was correctly describing this.  I was but I might need another bite just to be sure…

The yellow hue with dots of green zest make it perfect for spring.  Its like Easter in a jar.

Speaking of Easter, these little parfaits would be a perfect addition to an Easter brunch.

Really, they’d be a great addition to anything… breakfast, a lunchtime dessert, a healthy snack, or light after dinner sweet.  Layers of greek yogurt, lime curd, strawberries, and hazelnuts are a treat for both your eyes and your tummy.  Yes!

Lime Curd

Recipe from Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft and cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated lime zest

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream butter and honey.
  2. Add egg slowly, beating until incorporated.
  3. Pour in lime juice and mix until combined.  Pour mixture into a non-reactive saucepan.
  4. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes.  Be sure to continue stirring through the whole process to avoid the eggs curdling or mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Once the mixture is about at boiling point it will thicken quickly.
  5. Remove curd from heat and stir in lime zest.
  6. Pour into glass jar and let sit until completely cool.  Once cooled, screw on the lid and store in the refrigerator.  Makes about 2 cups.

Cashew Maple Bars

This past weekend was girls weekend.  Nine of us went to the Oregon coast for a few days and spent time relaxing, laying back, watching movies, and reading books.

The weather was rainy off and on with peeks of sunshine.  It was so nice.  And so needed.

Everyone kept saying how great it was to have no agenda for the weekend.  To have a day or two where errands, to-do lists, and obligations were none.

Getting caught up in life is so easy.  Being overwhelmed by all that we have to do and get done each day can be overwhelming.

We all need those days.  Those breaks.  We all need to step out of the busyness and just be with others (or by yourself) for a while.  Its refreshing and renewing.  It offers perspective about what is important in life.

My favorite part of the weekend was dinner on Saturday night.  Nine of us sitting around this small kitchen eating home made chili, arugula salad, and tortilla chips.

Eating together, laughing together, talking about life.  Its one of my favorite things in the world.

And then we started playing games.  Dang it.  I’m not really a game person but my team won so at least I had that.    Once the games started I broke out these cashew maple bars.  They were a hit!

Simple and sweet.  Pure and healthy.  These bars are made up of five ingredients.  Cashews, maple syrup, oats, dates, and cinnamon.  Okay, six if you add a pinch of salt.

At any rate, they are incredibly easy to make and are a great, healthy snack or dessert to have on hand.  Perfect for busy days or ones when you throw out the to-do list all together.

Cashew Maple Bars

Recipe from Shutterbean

Ingredients

  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw oats (I used gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • coconut oil for pan
  1. In a food processor blend together the dates, cashews, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt for 30 seconds.  Dough will look similar to oatmeal raisin cookie dough.
  2. Transfer to oiled 8 x 8 inch pan.  Press dough into pan with fingers making sure it is even throughout.
  3. Cover with parchment or wax paper and place in freezer for at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove from freezer and cut into 1 in. by 2 in. bars.
  5. Eat a bar right away!  or store in freezer for up to 2 months in an air tight container.  Make sure to store in the freezer otherwise the bars will be sticky and hard to eat.

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie


“As long as I am alive in this body, there is good work for me to do…” -Philippians 1:22-

I kind of freak myself out a lot.  I get overwhelmed by details.  I stress myself out by thinking I have to have life all figured out.  I get down on myself for feeling like I don’t have anything figured out.  Then I get all dramatic and think I’ll never really find what I’m supposed to do in life and I’ll end up working some job I can’t stand and hating every minute of it.

Oh man, I need to take a chill pill… like, for serious.

All this stuff going on in my brain has been stressing me out!  But then, faithful as he is, God shows me the verse above — reminding me that good work is everywhere, waiting to be had.  It may not be glamorous.  It may mean waking up at 4:30 (am) sometimes.  It may not make any sense, but I do have a purpose in this place in time.

Ahhh, what breath of fresh air… words I need to hear and hold close.

When I’m stressed out I like to try to take advantage of things that make me feel good.  Eating well gives me a boost of energy inside and out, and helps me feel like I’m doing something good for myself… loving myself well.

The new year is full of resolutions to eat better and this smoothie is a great thing to add to your list of “healthy stuff.”  Smoothies in general can be a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet in a tasty and satisfying way.

This one is pretty simple:  spinach, a banana, a scoop of chocolate protein powder, flax seed meal, ice, and water.  I usually drink this or something similar after a workout, but its great to start your day with or as a refreshing snack in the afternoon!

You can switch it up however you’d like.  Add things in or take things away.  Smoothies are totally versatile… like a dress you can wear to work and out on the town or that pair of shoes you could wear with any outfit.

Pretty much if you make a smoothie you’re gonna be winning.  Just accept it.  Give someone a high five.  And know that you did good work.

Chocolate Banana and Spinach Smoothie

Makes one large or two small smoothies

Ingredients

  • About 2 cups spinach
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup water
  • About 1 cup ice
  • 2 Tbsp flax seed meal

Directions

  1. Blend together spinach, ice, and water until spinach is blended into small bits.
  2. Add banana and chocolate protein powder and blend until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour into a glass and top with flax seed meal.
  4. Enjoy!

*Don’t have protein powder or hate the taste of it?  Try adding in some greek yogurt and chocolate syrup instead.  You’ll still get the chocolate flavor and a some protein too!