recipes

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I call these my “grown-up” rice crispy treats. They’re the more mature and sophisticated version of the original marshmallow treat. That is, as mature and sophisticated as a treat you lick off your fingers can be…

With real ingredients, all natural sweeteners and protein-rich peanut butter, could it be that one of the funnest foods ever created could be healthy too? Don’t tell the kids!

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups organic brown rice syrup
3/4 cup organic peanut butter*
2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil
6 cups brown rice cereal (gluten-free)
1/4 cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips (optional)

*I used fresh ground, organic peanut butter. Look for one with as few ingredients as possible – just peanuts and oil. No sugar or anything you can’t pronounce.

Directions:

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper covers the bottom and all four sides of the pan. In a small sauce pan, heat the brown rice syrup over medium heat. When the syrup begins to bubble, add the coconut oil and peanut butter and continue stirring until you have a good mixture.

Place the rice crispy cereal in a large glass bowl. If you like, stir in some cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips for some added chocolate flavor. Slowly stir in the warm syrup mixture using a silicone spatula to evenly coat the cereal. The syrup will bind the cereal together.

Pour the mixture into the lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly to cover the bottom of the pan and extend to all sides and corners. Press the surface with a spatula, or use your hand with a sheet of parchment paper to flatten and smooth it out.

Chill in the fridge for about an hour, until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into squares with a knife.

recipes

Veggie Pot Pie

It’s December 27 and if you’re in the same boat as me, you had one too many of those (fill in the blank).  After a weekend of indulgence, there’s nothing better than a little simplicity to balance you back out. And this magic pot of veggies will help do just that. I say magic because this thing has two whole bunches of leafy greens in it. Like magic, a towering pile of torn greens – that literally covered my counter space and had to be heaped by the armfull into the pot – shrinks itself down and practically disappears. Every time I cook leafy greens and watch them reduce to a fraction of their original volume I am amazed.

For such a fresh and nutrient-loaded meal, you wouldn’t know it by the time spent slaving in the kitchen. For the peas, corn and even carrots you can use frozen. That just leaves the onion, garlic and greens. Cut the onion into crescents. Mince the garlic. And after washing the greens, team up with your roommate, husband, kids and go to town tearing them into bits. Remove the hard stems and rip those leaves a new one. After a long day, I find this can actually be somewhat therapeutic. Take it out on the vegetables.

As for the crust, this recipe uses a combo of millet and amaranth. A what? I’ve actually had amaranth in my pantry for some time now but this was my first experience with the ancient grain. Amaranth was a native grain to the Aztecs and was so important to them that they used it in rituals and, in particular, what was the equivalent of their Christmas celebration. The conquistadors didn’t approve and outlawed it along with other “false idols.” It disappeared, but has been sort of rediscovered. The high-protein (5g per 1/2 cup cooked, versus 2g in wheat), gluten-free grain has resurfaced. And some even seem to think its resurgence will only continue given that it can grow just about anywhere and is easily cultivated, oh ya, and cheap. Millet is another grain alternative to wheat and is incredibly versatile. It can be prepared smooth, like a mashed potato consistency, or grainy, like rice. It’s high in magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, important minerals for heart and bone health.

Together, the amaranth and millet make a bread-y, crust topping that’s sort of like cornbread. No ancient grains on hand? Shocking. Instead, you could use cornmeal or polenta to make a cornbread-style topping. Or you could make one out of rice like I did here.

Warm, comfy, cozy – everything you want this time of year. Comfort. And joy. In a pot.

Veggie Pot Pie

What you need:

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
1 bunch kale
1 bunch collards
1 1/2 cup corn
1 1/2 cup peas
1/3 cup amaranth
1/3 cup millet
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp arrowroot*
2 tbsp mirin
parsley
salt and pepper

What you do:

In a sauce pan combine amaranth, millet and 2 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer, about 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, fold in parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

In a dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and carrot and saute about 5 minutes, until tender. Add peas and corn and stir. Stir in mirin and add greens in batches. Allow greens to cook down, 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine arrowroot, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and stir. Add sauce to the vegetables and stir until it begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. Flatten out vegetable mixture and top with grains, spreading out evenly across the top to make a crust. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Place under broiler about 10 minutes, or until the crust browns.

Let it cool before serving.

* Arrowroot is used to thicken the sauce. No arrowroot on hand? You can substitute with cornstarch, as long as that’s OK for you. Be sure to look for non-GMO.

recipes

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to bearing the cold. I’m the girl in the gloves and scarf when the temperature drops to 50 degrees. And once we get near freezing and if precipitation is involved, I may not even leave the house (read: icepocalypse 2011). I’m perfectly content on the couch with anything warm — soup, tea, flannel PJs, a comfy blanket and some good company – be it a person, book or TV show.

On Sunday I made a big pot of chicken soup for the week. It’s simple. It’s warm. And the best part is it’s in the fridge, ready and waiting to warmed up for dinner.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

What you need:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 qt chicken stock
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

What you do:

In a large pot, pour 1/2 cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add chicken and poach 4 min per side until opaque. Remove chicken and broth from pot and shred chicken, set aside. In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and saute 7-8 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Pour in remaining broth and stir. Cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. When vegetables are tender, return chicken to pot. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make it a bit heartier, add some cooked brown rice. Enjoy now or store in the fridge to warm up later (it’s always better the next day).

Stay warm!