Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homemade Cereal: Coconut, Pecans, & Oats

After numerous attempts at this recipe from The Healthy Home Economist, I finally found a combination that made my mouth happy.

I need coconut in my cereal to make it taste creamy, and the pecans help with that too. Oats keep the cereal crunchy when it's soaking in milk, and the spices add just a little more flavor. Cinnamon would be an obvious addition - I left it out because it gives the little guy a rash.

This recipe makes more than a gallon of cereal (it stays fresh and tasty for a long time in a closed container!), but it could easily be halved.

          Homemade Cereal: Coconut, Pecans, & Oats
(a.k.a., maple bunches o' oats, pecans, & coconut - yeah, catchy!)
3 c. old fashioned oats
3 c. whole grain spelt flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3 c. warm water
2 T apple cider vinegar (Bragg's organic raw)
3/4 c. coconut oil
1 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. molasses
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 c. chopped raw pecans (soaked and dehydrated)*

The night before, combine flour and oats in a large bowl. Add water and vinegar; stir and cover, and leave in a warm spot overnight.**

The next day, melt the coconut oil and add it and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Pour into two greased (I use coconut oil) 9x13s, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let the 'cakes' cool completely and then turn them out onto 2 rimmed cookie sheets covered in parchment paper. Crumble the cakes into bite size pieces (think of how big of a piece you and/or your kids would want to have on a spoon). Put into a 200 degree oven for 6-12 hours, stirring everything couple of hours.

The cereal will be done when it's crispy all the way through and not chewy. Try not to eat it all before putting it away... Oh wait, that was me.

Note: In my opinion, this cereal is amazing with fresh, whole milk, but it would be good as a 'granola' with yogurt, too.

*Soaking nuts: why do I do it?
**Soaking flour and oats: why do I do it?

-- Christine

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chicken Quinoa Soup

I make chicken stock every couple of weeks, and this time, most of it went straight into a pot of soup. I had a craving for chicken noodle soup, so I stole the stock from the pot a day early (usually I let it simmer for 48 hours). We didn't have any noodles, so I used leftover quinoa from the night before - I had tried it once before in a pot of sausage spinach soup and it was really good - as I find that using cooked noodles, rice, etc., works better than uncooked so that all of my stock doesn't get sucked up. I had cooked a chicken two nights before, too, so I had that all set.

It was meant to soup, that is. We all ended up getting colds the next day, so I was very thankful for all of the leftovers this made!

In this blog, I will post exactly what I used for the particular meal. I won't always use the same ingredients every time (for example, I don't always use organic), but my goal is to record exactly what I made, no generalizations. Here is the recipe:

Chicken Quinoa Soup
2 +/- quarts homemade chicken stock*
5 organic carrots
5 stalks of organic celery
1 organic zucchini
1 organic sweet white onion
3 cloves organic garlic
2 T unsalted organic butter
2 +/- cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat
2 +/- cups cooked quinoa (mine was an organic mixed variety from Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 T (approx.) sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in soup pot and process carrots, celery, onion, and zucchini in a food processor until the vegetables are small bits (we have some in our household who shun large chunks of vegetables in their soup). Cook the vegetables in the butter until they're soft. Mince the garlic finely and allow it to sit out for 10-15 minutes (don't add it to the soup yet**).

Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper, and oregano, and bring to a low boil. Cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add cooked chicken and cooked quinoa. Heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to boil the soup after the chicken is added so that it doesn't become tough. Just before stirring, stir in the minced garlic and test for salt. If needed, add more. I like my soup salty.

*I follow this recipe (loosely, sometimes) for making my stock.

**Mincing garlic finely and then letting it sit for a little before eating it lets it release the active agents that have health benefits for us. I try to get as much raw garlic into my family as possible because it really helps us fight winter colds. Normally, unheated is best.