Asparagus


Asparagus is a classic sign of spring—its bold energy breaking cold ground, stretches tall to greet the warming sun. With a happy, enlivening spirit, asparagus acts to announce the awakening life and possibility that we associate with spring.

 

Like many greens that also come to life in the spring, asparagus is bitter in taste and acts to eliminate excess moisture and toxins. Asparagus stimulates the kidneys to purge excess water from the system, while also reducing cholesterol deposits in arteries.1

 

Asparagus and Pea Soup with Basil (Serves 6)
This is a wonderful soup bridging the time when asparagus is plentiful and spring peas first arrive.
1 ½ pounds asparagus, well -washed
1 cup fresh-shelled peas
2 onions, peeled and diced
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
½ cup light cream
Salt and pepper
Basil leaves, finely sliced as garnish

 

1. Cut off the asparagus tips. Simmer tips and fresh peas in an inch or two of boiling water for about 4 minutes, until tender. Drain and reserve.
2. Cut the tender part of the asparagus stalks into 1-inch lengths.
3. Saute the onion in butter or ghee uncovered, for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the asparagus pieces and cook, stirring occasionally for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Add the stock or water, cover, and simmer the soup for 30 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
5. Puree the soup with an immersion wand or blender, and then pass it thru a food mill.
6. Return the soup to a clean pot, add cream and heat, but do not boil.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Serve in heated bowls, topped warmed tips and peas, garnished with basil.

 

Simple Green Pea and Asparagus Soup (Serves 8)
This is a non-dairy, easier variation of the above, again combining fresh asparagus and peas.
1 ½ pound green peas, shelled
1 ½ pound asparagus, well-washed, with ends removed, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter or ghee
1 ½ cup sliced onions
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Garish: finely sliced basil leaves

 

1. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and cook onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add peas, asparagus, stock and cook for about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve garnished with basil.

 

Skillet Asparagus (Serves 4)
This is my favorite way to cook asparagus. It is quick, easy, and needs no special steamer.
2 pounds fresh asparagus, well-washed and trimmed
Butter or cold-pressed olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Garnish: Fresh lemon slices and chopped herbs, as desired

 

1. Place asparagus in a large skillet with tips aligned. Cover with cold water.
2. Bring to boil in the open skillet until stalks are just tender when tested with a knife, about 8 minutes or so.
3. Remove and drain, and place on serving platter.
4. Drizzle with melted butter or olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and serve with fresh slices of lemon.

Copyright 2010 Pathways4Health.org

  1. See Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, 536-537. []

Blueberries


Blueberries in Peak Season: July is National Blueberry Month
Available at the market from May through September, it is July that blueberries hit their zenith of flavor, just in time for July 4th barbeques and celebrations. How fitting! Blueberries are truly American, since the blueberry is native only to North America.

 

In terms of nutrition and health, blueberries have a low glycemic index, are loaded with iron, and provide a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, including vitamins A and C, as well as anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, flavonols, and tannins. Nutrient dense, they are thought to play a role in the prevention of a variety of chronic disease, from cancer, to Alzheimer’s, to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Anthocyanin, which gives blueberries their color, appears to protect the signaling neurons in the brain from oxidative stress, aiding neurological function and memory. It is this component that is especially associated with blueberries’ anti-aging benefits.1

 

Interestingly, this modern-day conclusion about blueberries’ anti-aging health benefits agrees with the model offered by traditional Chinese medicine: the blueberry is associated with the water element, the kidneys and the adrenals, and our “kidney essence”… our life-force energy that we acquire at birth.

 

Pathways4Health Sugar-Free Blueberry-Almond Compote
2 cups coconut water or organic apple or pear juice, divided (1 cup to dilute kuzu)
2 pints fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
¼-1/2 cup kuzu, diluted in 1 cup liquid, above (more kuzu will result in a firmer jell)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1-2 T. maple syrup
1-2 t. vanilla flavoring
1-2 t. ground cinnamon & a pinch of ground cloves (optional)
1 cup chopped or slivered almonds

In a 3-4 quart sauce pan, bring 1 cup of apple juice to a boil. Add blueberries and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until all berries have popped open. Add kuzu diluted 1 cup juice/coconut water and boil, stirring constantly until kuzu turns clear. Add lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and almonds. Adjust sweeteners and flavorings to taste. Pour into individual serving dishes. Can be eaten hot or chilled.

 

Cantaloupe Soup with Blueberries (Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or dessert)
1 ripe peach
1 cantaloupe
¾ cup unfiltered apple juice
2 t. fresh lemon juice
½ t. vanilla extract
2 T. fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ pint blueberries for garnish

Peel and chop the peach; cut the cantaloupe into small chunks. Place the fruit in a medium saucepan, and add the apple juice. Cook over medium heat until the fruit is soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and vanilla.
Puree the soup in a blender or a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the chopped mint leaves. Chill for 2 hours. Garnish with blueberries and serve.
Source: Annemarie Colbin, The Natural Gourmet.

 

Blueberry-Couscous Cake (Yield: One 9” by 14” Cake…a dessert or for breakfast)
This is a luscious cake, dense, moist, and rich-tasting because of the blueberries, yet fat-free. Serve it topped with unsweetened raspberry or strawberry jam or orange marmalade, thinned with a little water

6 cups organic apple juice
1 T. vanilla extract
3 cups couscous
1 pint blueberries

Pick over the blueberries and wash them gently under cold water. Set aside on paper towels to dry thoroughly.
Place the apple juice, vanilla, and couscous in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Stir continuously, until the couscous has thickened and all the juice has been absorbed.
Gently fold the blueberries into the hot couscous. Pour immediately into a 9”X 14” rinsed, undried shallow baking pan. Chill until set, about 2 hours.
Source: Annemarie Colbin, The Natural Gourmet.

Copyright 2008 Pathways4Health.org

  1. See www. Blueberry.org; and Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Datatbase, a database on hundreds of plant phytonutrients, at www.ars-grin.gov/duke/p []

Strawberries


When I think of June, I think of celebrations—especially graduations and weddings—and, l think of strawberries. 1 At their peak and bursting with flavor, strawberries herald the long days of summer, with its change of pace and its promise of possibility. Strawberries are a lively, “happy” food: like raspberries, they are one of the few fruits with “fire energy” which, like other “fire”2 foods—chocolate, popcorn, chips, and salsa—fit so well parties and special celebrations.

 

Strawberries, a rich source of vitamins C and K, flavonoids, and fiber, also bring their own health benefits. The deep red color of strawberries is associated with its special mix of flavonoids which helps to protect against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. Almost all (some 80 percent) of the strawberries produced in the United States are grown in California, but if you are fortunate as we are to have access to pick-your-own strawberry fields, I hope you can venture to enjoy the delights of strawberries picked fresh from the vine. In our family, early-June trips to the local strawberry fields ushers in summer and its promise of fun, in a similar way that unpacking the holiday decorations each December brings with it the anticipation of seasonal joys and good times.

 

Whether you pick your own or not, strawberries are delicious washed and eaten fresh, served with fresh whipped cream, in smoothies, or mixed into salad greens. Because strawberries are one of the fruits with a high pesticide levels, it is best to buy those raised organically.

 

Strawberry Soup (Serves 4-6)
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 cup half and half
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon brandy extract
1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into chilled soup bowls.
Source: Cooks.com

Strawberry-Apple Kanten
(serves 6 to 8)
3 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold apple cider
1 pint fresh strawberries
¼ cup agar flakes
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

 

1. In a blender, combine 1 cup of the cider and 1 cup of the strawberries and liquefy. Stir through a fine mesh strainer of cheesecloth to get 1 ½ cups strawberry juice.
2. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the strawberry juice, 1 ½ cups cider, and the agar3 flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the agar dissolves.
3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons cider and arrowroot powder and mix well. Add to the saucepan and simmer for 1 minute. Pour into a shallow 2- to 3- quart-capacity pan and refrigerate.
4. While the kanten is cooling, slice the remaining cup of strawberries.
5. In a blender or food processor, blend the chilled kanten until creamy. Fold in the sliced strawberries and serve, accompanied by pralines if you choose.
Source: Peter Berley


Strawberry-Couscous Cake (one 9” x 14” cake)
6 cups organic apple juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups couscous
1 pint strawberries

 

1. Wash and stem strawberries. Set aside on paper towels to dry thoroughly. Then slice.
2. Place the apple juice, vanilla, and couscous in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Stir continuously, until the couscous has thickened and all the juice has been absorbed.
3. Gently fold the strawberries into the hot couscous. Pour immediately into a 9” x 14” rinsed, un-dried shallow baking pan. Chill until set, about 2 hours.
Source: Annemarie Colbin

 

Copyright 2010, Pathways4Health.org

  1. For a small portion of the population, strawberries can cause allergic reaction. And, because they contain oxalates, eating excessive amounts can increase the risk of kidney stones for people that have calcium oxalate…Michael Murray,The Healing Power of Foods []
  2. See Chinese Five Phase Theory, Resources tab of my web site. Other “fire” foods include alcohol, coffee, and tobacco. []
  3. Agar, derived from red seaweed, is a natural gelling agent. To dissolve agar flakes, stir or whisk the flakes into cooking liquid that has been brought to a boil and then reduced to simmer. Simmer for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until all flakes have disappeared. []

Stone Fruits


Summer Endings…Stone Fruits, Plums, Peaches, and Apricots
Summer heat and humidity linger into late summer, and so do stone fruits. It is our last chance to savor these before fall brings the apple/pumpkin harvest season. When I think of late summer, I think especially of plums. Their sweet-tartness and cooling, hydrating nature make them a perfect choice during the late-summer, steamy days when everyone is called back to the structure and confines of daily living. While cooling and hydrating, plums also aid digestion and, with a low glycemic index, are good for diabetics. Peaches, which are a cousin to the plum, are also sweet-tart in nature, cooling, hydrating, low in sugars (compared to apples and pears) and aid digestion. Peaches and plums can be used interchangeably in most of the recipes below. Apricots, while a bit past peak, also deserve mention, as a stone fruit that offers one of the broadest array and richest sources of antioxidants, particularly the carotenoids. Before summer stone fruits fade we can seize the moment when these fruits are at their peak of perfection. It is a good chance to revive the memories of summer as we share nature’s bounty around the dinner table. All recipes are selected for ease of preparation, in recognition of the harried pace that goes with transitioning back to the return to routines.

 

Baked Peaches (or Apricots)
4 large ripe peaches
5 T. apricot jam
2 T. honey
1 cup water
1 T. lemon zest
2 t. fresh lemon juice
4 t. sugar (sprinkle ½ t. over each peach half before baking)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pits and place the peach halves cut side up in a 9- by 13- inch shallow earthenware baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, through lemon juice, and spoon mixture over peach halves, and sprinkle each with ½ t. of sugar. Bake 30-45 minutes, until the peaches are tender. Very ripe peaches will cook faster. Check several times during baking, basting them with their juices each time you do. Serve warm, with ice cream. Drizzle the juices over the top for a delicious sauce.
Source: Alice Waters

 

Warm Plum Sauce
3 pounds Italian prune plums, or any semi-ripe plums
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup apple juice
2 (3”) cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 vanilla bean

Pit and halve the plums. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the plums, maple syrup, apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Drop in the bean, as well. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat, and boil for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove and discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks. Cool slightly. Serve sauce over cakes, ice creams, fruits, waffles, or puddings.
Source: Peter Berley

 

Frozen Peach (or Plum) Pops
5 medium peaches (about 2 ½ cups)
½ cup white grape juice
Puree fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add grape juice. Pour the pureed fruit into frozen popsicle molds or paper cups (with a wooden stick). Leave ½ inch of space at the top to allow the exposure to expand when freezing. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run the mold under hot water for a few seconds, if necessary.
Source: Alice Waters

 

Apricot Delight
3 dried apricots, soaked
¾ cup water
½ cup macadamia nuts
1 drop lemon grass oil (optional)

Process macadamia nuts in a food processor with the “S” blade until a fine meal. Add apricots and water and blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in lemon grass oil. Serve over morning fruit or a dessert.
Source: Gabriel Cousens

 

Spiced Plum Soup
2 pounds very ripe purple plums
2 large pieces orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 3” piece cinnamon stick
4 cloves
½ t. cardamom
½ t. ground coriander
1/3 to ½ cup mild honey, to taste
½ cup buttermilk
Orange flower water (optional)
1 ½ t. balsamic vinegar
Fresh mint leaves

Leave very small plums whole and cut larger ones roughly in half. Don’t worry about removing the pits. Put them in a pot with the orange zest and juice, spices, and 1/3 cup honey. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the flesh easily falls away from the pit, about 30 minutes. Transfer the plums to a food mill set over a bowl and begin to turn it. It will grate against the pits and loosen the flesh. Pick out the pits, cinnamon stick, and cloves as you come across them and continue to work the plums through, skins and all. Whisk the buttermilk and 1 t. orange flower water into the plum puree and chill. When the soup is cold, stir in the vinegar, taste again and correct seasonings, adding more spice, honey, or orange flower water if needed. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.
Source: Deborah Madison

 

Plums (or Peaches) Poached in Orange Sauce

1 cup fresh orange juice
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t. grated or minced lemon zest
½ cup honey
8 to 12 ripe plums or peaches

Combine the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer and add the plums. Cover the pan and turn the heat as low as possible. Simmer gently, turning the plums once or twice, until they are tender but still whole, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size and their ripeness. Remove plums to a platter and turn the heat to medium-high; reduce the liquid by about half. Pour the syrup over the plums, cool, and serve chilled.
Source: Mark Bittman

 

Peach (or Plum) Mango Frappe

2 peaches
1 large mango
1 ½ cups yogurt or buttermilk
Vanilla to taste
6 ice cubes
Fresh lemon or lime juice, to taste

Peel and slice the fruit, then puree in a blender or food processor with the yogurt, vanilla, and ice until smooth. Add the lemon or lime juice to taste and serve.
Source: Deborah Madison

The following is a modified version of an old family favorite. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like, depending on whether you make an exotic crust, or simply opt for the store-bought kind.

 

Rustic Plum Tart
Your Favorite Pie Crust Recipe
1 ½ pound plums, halved, pitted, each half cut into 6 slices
6 T. sugar
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground cinnamon
1 T. all flour
2 T. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten to blend (for the glaze0
¼ cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss plums, 4 T. sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a bowl. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12 ½ inch round. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Mix 1 T. sugar and 1 T. flour in small bowl; sprinkle over dough, leaving 2” plain border. Arrange plums in concentric circles on dough, leaving 2” plain border; drizzle with melted butter. Fold dough border in toward center. Brush border with egg glaze; sprinkle wit 1 T. sugar. Bake tart until plums are tender and crust is golden, about 45 minutes.
Stir preserves in saucepan over low heat until melted. Brush over plums. Cool tart 1 hour on baking sheet. Run long thin knife under tart to loosen. Using 9” tart pan bottom, transfer tart to plate; serve at room temperature.
Source: Epicurious.com

 

Copyright 2008 Pathways4Health.org


Pumpkin


Pumpkin is versatile and can be incorporated into any meal, from breakfast through dinner. Pumpkin is a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient that helps protect the mucus membranes of the lungs and digestive system against infection. It helps the body retain vitamin C, and it counters acne, asthma, bronchial infections, and cholesterol. Pumpkin also helps regulate blood sugar balance, so it works well into sweet breakfast and dessert treats. Pumpkin, like winter yellow/orange squashes and tubers, aids digestion because it supports the pancreas’ secretion of digestive enzymes neutralizes stomach acids.

 

Pumpkin seeds, which are especially high in zinc, provide a good accompaniment to some of the recipes below.

 

Pathways4Health Cinnamon Pumpkin Oatmeal
3 long cinnamon sticks
4-5 cups almond or oat milk or filtered water .
¼ cup honey
1 cup pumpkin puree .
1 ½ cups steel-cut oats

 

Simmer cinnamon sticks in liquid about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon.
Add pumpkin and honey, stir.
Add oats, stir, and simmer over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until cooked, a dente.
Serve with your favorite toppings.

 

Pathways4Health Pumpkin Waffles
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 ½ cups milk
3 eggs, well beaten
2 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup sifted whole-wheat flour
2 Tbs. baking powder
Pinch salt
2 Tbs. sugar
Pinch nutmeg

 

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.
Stir until thoroughly combined.
Bake in a waffle iron.
Serve with your favorite toppings and syrups.

 

Pumpkin Soup (Serves 6)
1 cup solid packed pumpkin,fresh or canned
3 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth
2 leeks or 1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour, preferably whole wheat
Fresh nutmeg

 

In a stock pot:
Saute vegetables in butter until soft.
Sprinkle flour over vegetables and blend.
Add pumpkin and broth.
Simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Blend in food processor or with and immersion wand.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Grate fresh nutmeg on top each serving, to taste.
Source: Beverly Reich

 

 

Pathways4Health Baked Pumpkin Pudding (A great breakfast treat, warm or cold)

3 cups pumpkin puree
½ cup honey
2 T. molasses
Pinch of powdered cloves
1 Tbs. cinnamon
2 t. ground ginger
Pinch of salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups scalded milk

 

Mix in order given.
Pour into a round, buttered baking dish
Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or until set.


Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Cooking with Sun-Dried Tomatoes1

The sun is a mighty force. It works to pull fresh shoots from the ground in the spring, provides energy throughout the growing process, and then lends its energy to help preserve its bounty after harvest.

Sun-dried tomatoes first became popular in Italy before the days of easy canning. Tomatoes were spread out on top of tile roofs, to dry in order to be used in cooking throughout the winter months.2 While not as popular in Italy in the present day, sun-dried tomatoes have burst to the forefront in the United States, where they are appreciated for their robust flavor, versatility, and ability to add novelty to just about any dish.

No problem if you are afraid of heights or have no tile roof. You can still make your own sun-dried tomatoes. It might be a fun adventure to try with the family. This is one place where the blazing noonday sun will be more than welcome.

Homemade Sun-dried Tomatoes
Any type of uniform sized tomatoes (Roma, with few seeds and relatively more flesh are
best). Uniform size means the tomatoes will dry at about the same time.
Salt and herbs of your choice.

Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a raised screen. Sprinkle with salt and herbs, if you choose. Cover with cheesecloth (raised off the tomatoes) to protect against insects. Place the tomatoes in the hot sun to dry. Bring the tomatoes in at night to protect against morning dew. This method takes from 4 to 10 days, depending on weather conditions. Ten regular tomatoes yields about one ounce of dried tomatoes.

You can also use a dehydrator, or dry tomatoes at a low temperature in the oven. The grocery store is, of course, the easiest route of all.! Source: Peggy T. Filippone.

Sun-dried Tomato Sauce for Baked or Grilled Fish
2 T. butter or ghee
2 T. shallots, minced
1 T. lemon juice, strained
½ cup dry white wine
6 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), finely minced
½ t. sea salt
½ t. freshly ground pepper

In a medium-sized skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté, stirring constantly, until light golden, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice, wine, and sun-dried tomatoes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until sauce is reduced to ½ cup, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over baked or grilled fish fillets.
Source: Derived from Peggy Filippone.

Easy, No-Cooking Sun-dried Tomato Sauce
½ cup softened sun dried tomatoes, with their oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt
4 chopped basil leaves, optional
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. pignoli nuts
Additional olive oil if necessary.

Place the tomatoes and a tablespoon or so of their oil in a small food processor along with the garlic and a good pinch of salt. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the basil and lemon juice and pulse the machine to blend.
Remove the paste from the machine and stir in, by hand, the nuts and just enough additional oil to make the mixture silky, but not oily. Adjust seasoning.
Sauce will keep, covered with a thin layer of oil, refrigerated in a tightly covered container, for at least a week.
Use: sparingly for a sauce for pasta, a spread on sandwiches, a dip, a condiment for fish or chicken, as a sauce for bland vegetables.
Source; Marc Bittman

Chicken Scaloppine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Peas
6 organic, boneless, skinless chicken half breasts
¼ t. salt
1.4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup flour
6 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
½ cup full-bodied red wine
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. chopped Italian parsley

Remove the tenderloin from each breast and cut each half across the grain (widthwise) into three slices (to make 3 pieces from each half breast). Reserve the tenderloins for another use.
Pound each piece lightly between pieces of wax paper and dredge in flour to which you have added the salt and pepper. Shake off any excess flour.
In a large saucepan/Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat and quickly brown the chicken on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do this in batches and remove each round to a platter, covered with foil, to keep warm.
In the same saucepan with oil remaining but chicken removed, add onion, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes until garlic begins to brown. Add wine and sauté for 2-3 minutes more, deglazing the pan. Add the tomato sauce and stock and bring to a boil. Add the peas, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Return chicken to the sauce until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Source: Nick Stellino

Barley, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Scallions
3 T. butter or ghee
1 ½ cups pearl barley
1 medium bunch scallion (green and white portions), sliced thin
10 oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, chopped into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups chicken broth
2 ½ cps hot water
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add barley and stir-fry until it begins to turn white, about 2 minutes. Add scallions and garlic, stirring constantly for an additional minute. Carefully add chicken broth and water, while stirring with a long-handled spoon. Add sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until barley is tender to the bite, about 40-45 minutes. Serves 4.
Source: Peggy Filippone.

Marie’s Broccoli Rabe with Sun-dried Tomatoes and White Beans

1 bunch broccoli rabe
Pinch of salt
2 T. ev olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 ½ cups cooked cannelini or great northern beans
½ t. red pepper flakes
6 sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated until soft, drained and minced
2-3 T. parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste

Cut broccoli rabe into bite sized pieces. In a medium pot, bring 3 quarts of filtered water to a boil. Add salt and rabe and boil until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Shock greens in cold water and drain.
In a medium sauce pan, heat oil. Add garlic and cook on low heat until just tender, but do not burn. Remove garlic. Add beans to pan with pepper flakes, tomatoes, and rabe. Cook two minutes. Add cheese if using, season to taste and serve.
Source: Sue Baldassano and Ellen Arian.

  1. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, known to move calcium in the body. If you suffer from arthritis and joint pain, you might want to substitute another ingredient or eliminate the tomatoes from these recipes. []
  2. Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, Your Guide to Home Cooking. []

Quinoa


Quinoa:  The “Mother Grain” of the Ancient Incas and a Powerful Grain for Modern Times

Quinoa (pronounced “keen wah”) is a relatively new discovery.  Thought of as a grain, it is actually related to the leafy Chenopodium (beets and spinach) family.  Grown in this country only since the mid-1980s, it has gained popularity because it ideally fits the needs of so many:  for the athlete, endurance; for the scholar, brain food (the brain is the only organ of the body that demands glucose for energy); for nursing mothers, its ability to stimulate breast milk; for allergy-sufferers, a non-gluten grain for rotation; and for those interested in bone health, a high-fat and high-calcium non-dairy food (it leads all grains in both these two categories).

Quinoa has an especially well-suited balance of amino acids to supply our nutritional needs, since it is high in three amino acids that are deficient in grains…cysteine, lysine, and methionine.  It is a nearly-complete protein and has an essential amino-acid profile that is at least equal to milk in protein quality.  “While no single food can supply all of the essential life-sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the vegetable or animal kingdom.”1   Ounce for ounce, quinoa has four times the calcium found in milk.  Quinoa is also a rich source of vitamin E, the B complex vitamins, fiber, and the minerals iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

Compared to grains, quinoa has a huge germ, or embryo portion, which explains its sustaining and regenerative qualities.  While the germ of most grains like wheat and rice are a tiny dot at the end of the grain, quinoa has a germ that spans its whole circumference, a fact that explains its high protein and fat content, as well as its ability to grow in harsh conditions.  It is little wonder that quinoa helps tonify and strengthen the whole body and is particularly beneficial for the kidney (“essence”).  It is warming in temperature and sweet and sour in flavor.  It is a great choice at any season and for any individual.  It is perfect should you want a change of pace or want to rotate grains because of allergies or other health issues.

Quinoa is about the size of sesame seeds and is similar to couscous in texture.  Mother Nature coats it with bitter, inedible saponin (this protects the grain from birds feasting upon it).   While sometimes removed in processing, it is a good idea to wash quinoa thoroughly and then soak it overnight to remove (as in other grains) its “anti-nutrients.”2

Quinoa with Oats or Millet  
1 cup quinoa                                                     
1 cup rolled oats or millet (soak millet)                
3 cups water                                                                     
Salt to taste

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes.  Let sit 5 minutes covered.  Serve with stewed fruits and nuts.

Quinoa Tabouli
Make your favorite tabouli with parsley and other ingredients, but substitute quinoa for couscous.  This is especially good dish for stronger bones, because parsley teams up with quinoa as good source of calcium.  Parley provides not only calcium, but it also contains ergosterols that make it a good source of vitamin D.

Quinoa Hot Cereal (Gluten-Free Alternative)
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cups filtered water
1 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit

Bring water to a boil in a heavy pot.  Add quinoa and cranberries.  Reduce heat and cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.   Serve, topped with your favorite chopped nuts, seeds, oils, etc.

CRUNCHY QUINOA SALAD
Quinoa (try half regular and half red quinoa)
Carrots, cubed or half-mooned
Scallions, sliced
Celery, sliced
Roasted Almonds (or tamari almonds), cut in half across width
Arame, optional (small quantity,  about 1/4 Cup for 1Cup grain type of thing)
Shoyu
Tahini
Mirin

Cook quinoa separately and let cool (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, pinch of sea salt per cup, boil open lid, cover simmer, about 15 minutes)

Cook arame separately (rinse a few times; pre-soak about 10-15minutes or until soft; cook in a little water, open lid boil; then cover, simmer 10-15 minutes.  Add a few drops Shoyu, then cover and simmer for another 5 minutes of so.  Drain.  Set aside and allow to cool.)

Once quinoa and arame are cooled, mix with carrots, scallions, celery, almonds and toss.   (You may want to leave vegetables raw for summer, since they are more cooling this way; and blanch the carrots and celery for cooler times of year.)

For the dressing, mix and whisk together: Equal parts, shoyu, mirin, and tahini.

Add dressing to quinoa salad, toss and enjoy.

                                                                                                                     Source: Gina@theorganiccoach.com

Quinoa Pudding (Serves 4-6)

Quinoa pudding is smoother and more nutritious than rice pudding.  It is delicious as a dessert, snack, or even for breakfast.
1/2 cup coconut sugar or maple sugar
2 T. soft butter or coconut oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk or nut milk
1 T. vanilla
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. ground nutmeg or cardamom, optional
½ t. sea salt
2 cups cooked quinoa
~ ½ cup chopped toasted almonds
1 cup dried berries (blueberries, goji berries, etc.) or raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.  Cream sugar and butter.   Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until blended well.  Add quinoa, nuts, and berries/raisins and mix well.  Grease a 1 ½ quart casserole or soufflé dish.  Pour mixture into the casserole and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Bake for 40 minutes or until just set.  To serve, loosen the edges with a knife and invert pudding onto a plate.

                                                                                                Source:  Adapted from Rebecca Wood

                                                                              Copyright 2010 Pathways4Health.org

  1. Philip White, “Nutrient Content and Protein Quality of Quinua and Canihua, Edible Seed Products of the Andes Mountains.” []
  2. Sources:  Nourishing Traditions, Healing with Whole Foods, Whole Foods Encyclopedia, and Quinoa, the Supergrain. []

Natural Sweeteners as Substitutes for Sugar


Refined white sugar is a highly concentrated chemical. It is 99 percent pure sucrose, stripped of its natural nutrients. Sugar depletes our body of vital nutrients because just for its metabolism, we must tap into our stores of vitamins and minerals. Because our body is programmed to expect foods in their natural whole form, sugar creates a state of imbalance and a sense of emptiness that can set up cravings for its missing fiber, water, and nutrients. As a depleting food additive, sugar fosters acute disease by depressing the immune system, and it fosters chronic disease by upsetting the delicate interplay and intricate balancing of the endocrine-immune-digestive-assimilation systems of the body.



Indeed, we are supposed to like sweets. Nature planned it this way, giving us a plethora of sweet taste buds to steer us toward sweet foods that are also nutrient-dense, in order to encourage our survival. Nature also created an abundance of sweet, whole foods in the plant world to nourish us and for us to savor and enjoy.

 

Attracted to sweets, civilizations have for centuries consumed natural sweeteners for pleasure, energy, and health. Early healers understood, for example, that in minute doses honey could even be used medicinally. Because natural sweeteners do come with a host of vital nutrients that aid metabolism, they are a better choice than sugar.

 

Still, because all natural sweeteners are highly concentrated foods, they need to be used sparingly. Recall that it takes 17 feet of sugar cane to make one cup of sugar and that the 12-15 teaspoons of sugar in a typical bottle of Coke represent the sugar-energy concentrated from over four feet of sugar cane. Like sugar, all natural sweeteners are highly concentrated forms of energy. A tree must surrender 40 gallons of maple sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. Between eight and 12 gallons of sorghum juice are needed to make one gallon of sorghum syrup. And, close to five pounds of fruit are required to make one pint of concentrated fruit juice. These comparisons make it easy to see why natural sweeteners are concentrated foods that, like sugar, can quickly elevate blood sugar levels.

 

* * * *
A Word About Artificial Sweeteners
Today we must deal with a vast and confusing world of sweeteners and sweetener combinations. Store shelves offer a variety of natural and artificial sweeteners, as well as a wide array of packaged/processed food products that incorporate them. Sometimes these sweeteners also include sugar alcohols, an effort by food companies to take advantage of the way they can be combined for synergistic and offsetting/ complementary effects (since sugar alcohols mute the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners). Each category of sweetener, as well as each specific product, differs in terms of how it is made, how it is metabolized, and how it affects the body. Our focus in this newsletter is limited to natural sweeteners, which are the only sweeteners that qualify as natural products.


Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin (Sweet-n-Low), aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal), and Acesulfame-K (Sunett and Sweet One) are made by chemical (not food) companies. Like many artificial food colorings and flavorings, they are synthetic products derived chemically from decayed petroleum and natural gas by-products! 1 Constructed from “dead” underground matter, as opposed to living, organic, above-ground foods, these products are not something Nature programmed our bodies to recognize. Monsanto manufactures saccharin and aspartame (Monsanto bought Searle, the company that originally discovered aspartame), while Celanese, maker of synthetic fibers, created Acesulfame-K. Even sucralose (Splenda), which is the only low-calorie sweetener made from sugar, is a chemically-manipulated product created in the lab. Sucralose/Spenda seems no more deserving of the “natural” label than its other no-calorie cousins.


Rather new to the market are the sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, and maltitol. These are created chemically by hydrogenating a type of carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols are becoming very popular because they can be combined with artificial sweeteners to help mask the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. (We might wonder what our body is trying to tell us by the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. Perhaps it isour taste buds rebelling to something so foreign. Little wonder when we consider how they are made:saccharin, by combining anthranilic acid, nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, and chorine with ammonia; and,aspartame by joining the isolated amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine with the alcohol, methanol.2 In addition, because sugar alcohols do not feed oral bacteria, they can be used in chewing gum and other sweets without fostering tooth decay.


According to a 2007 survey by the market-research firm Packaged Facts, almost half of all households in America purchase and consume no-calorie sweeteners. Beyond this direct use, Americans consume more artificial sweeteners, of course, through packaged-processed foods where chemical sweeteners are hidden either singularly or in combination. One has to wonder what these chemically-manipulated sweeteners, some of which are petroleum-based, do to our systems. How does the body recognize them? Or, deal with them?

…And Weight Control Many people use artificial sweeteners to try to control weight. Yet, research suggests this can be a self-defeating strategy: A 2005 study by the University of Texas found that the use of diet drinks correlated with weight gain, as the sweet taste set off a craving for energy-rich foods: “People think they can just fool the body. But maybe the body isn’t fooled. If you are not giving your body that food energy you promised it, maybe your body will retaliate by wanting more energy.” 3

 

 

 

Animal studies appear to confirm the link between the use of artificial sweeteners and weight gain. The sweet taste triggers a release of insulin, creating a dip in blood sugar, and a subsequent craving for more calories to stabilize blood sugar levels. Prolonged use of artificial sweeteners leads to an increase in daily calories and weight gain, as well as a loss of the natural checking tendency to eat less at the next meal.4


Natural Sweeteners, the Alternatives of Choice
What are “natural sweeteners” and why they are preferred over refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup? Meredith McCarty defines natural sweeteners by the four advantages she believes they have over sugar:

 

1. They are derived from a natural source that may be organically grown.
2. They use relatively simple, chemical-free processing techniques.
3. They may contain maltose and complex carbohydrates that break down more slowly in the body than the simple sugars sucrose, glucose, and fructose.
4. They may contain vitamins and minerals necessary for their metabolism.5

 

Every natural sweetener has its unique character. Sweeteners vary in taste. Some that are bold in flavor can add special interest or flare to your favorite dessert recipe. Or, maybe the unique flavor of certain ones will not suit at all. Some are particularly low in sugar and may be especially helpful for anyone trying to control blood sugar.

 

Besides nutrition, another reason to substitute natural sweeteners for sugar is to preserve the sense of taste. Sugar, when eaten in large amounts over time, depletes the body’s reserves of zinc, and zinc is necessary for normal taste perception.6 The more sugar we eat, the more we need: Excessive sugar can dull our taste, creating the cravings for more and more sugar in an effort to satisfy.
* * * *

Alternative Sweeteners and How to Substitute for Sugar in Your Favorite Recipes
Just as every natural sweetener has it own unique character, perhaps each has its own experienced expert-advocate. In my own research, I have turned to some of my favorite authors, including Paul Pitchford, Sally Fallon, Evelyn Roehl, Ann Louise Gittleman, and Meredith McCarty, all of whom have written about natural sweeteners. Each seems to have a unique “flavor” of ideas and recommendations.

 

Of all the natural sweeteners, both Paul Pitchford and Meredith McCarty prefer malted grain sweeteners (barley malt and brown rice syrup) because they are “the least concentrated, least sweet, and most nearly whole-food sweeteners.”7 Not highly processed, they are made in a natural and safe way that mimics the conversion of grain into sugar when we chew: Malting grains involves the amylase enzyme, similar to the way saliva in the mouth digests starches into simple sugars when we take the time to chew our food. Malted grains, which are only a third as sweet as refined sugar, also come with the major advantage that they metabolize very slowly and uniformly and do not create the spike in blood sugar that is associated with the simple sugars sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Meredith McCarty believes malted grains are “the most healthful of all” because they are processed naturally and “provide a slow but prolonged source of energy that is calming and soothing in comparison to other sweeteners.”8

 

Malted grains are also available as granules, an advantage in recipe conversions. But their distinctive taste may not always be appropriate for the flavor and texture that you are trying to achieve. This is where experimentation comes in. Play around using your favorite recipes. See what happens. Have fun!

 

A baked product made by substituting a malted-grain sweetener may even help to calm and soothe young family members. It is all interesting information. Just pay attention to how you feel.

 

The list below reflects my best effort to meld the information from the sources cited above, but please know that you may find some differences in advice and information depending upon whom you choose to read. Also, to provide you with better tips for baking, I have asked for advice and help from Ellen Arian, a wonderful friend who is a professional whole foods chef, and who bakes often for her clients, workshops and lectures, in addition to her husband and three children (www.ellensfoodandsoul.com). I am indebted to her for many of the baking tips that follow.

 

Agave: Rather new to the market, agave is already creating controversy. Critics point out that agave “nectar” is not truly derived from cactus, but rather from the starchy agave root bulb, which is converted to “nectar” by a method that is similar to the process used to transform corn to high fructose corn syrup.9 Because agave has a neutral effect on blood sugar levels and is used in small amounts (it is 50% sweeter than sugar), it may serve a role for some people, particularly diabetics who are trying to control blood sugar levels. It is more neutral (tasteless) than maple syrup or honey, and it works beautifully in homemade sorbet recipes in place of refined sugar. Agave is better as a supplementary sweetener for occasional use rather than as a mainstay.

 

Amasake: Derived from fermented rice, amasake is less than 40% maltose sugar (compared to white sugar at 99% sucrose). Maltose is a complex form of sugar so it is metabolized more slowly than sugar/sucrose. Amasake is one of the least potent sweeteners because of its low sugar content (it contains the least sugar of popular natural sweeteners) and because, as discussed above, maltose is slowly absorbed by the blood stream.

 

Barley Malt: The fermented extract of roasted barley sprouts, barley malt is only 50% maltose sugar so it, like amasake, is relatively easy on blood sugar levels. It is very strongly flavored so it is not always suitable. It can work in spice cakes and with root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots (e.g., sweet potato pie or carrot cake). It also browns beautifully and sweetens home-baked bread. Barley malt is not as sweet as honey and it offers slight amounts of vitamins and minerals. Because it is thick, it should be warmed or brought to room temperature before measuring. Helpful tip: Lightly oil measuring spoons or cups that you plan to use so it slides out easily. When baking, you might develop the habit of measuring fats and oils before sweeteners. This will make it easier to clean measuring utensils.

 

Brown Rice Syrup: Like barley malt, brown rice syrup is made from fermented brown rice, and is just 50% maltose sugar. It is the mildest flavored of the liquid sweeteners and is less destructive to the body’s mineral balance, providing some of its own trace minerals. Brown rice syrup is about half as strong as honey and can work well when paired with maple syrup in baking. It is best suited to recipes where a crisp topping is desired and less suited to cakes and muffins. This is because it tends to become hard and sticky with baking, an effect that works well in a crisp or crumble.

 

Date Sugar: Made from finely-ground, dehydrated dates, it tastes similar to brown sugar and is rich in nutrients, with most still intact. Date sugar, which is more than 70% sucrose, is very sweet, and it provides fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals. It is high in tryptophan, so it can help calm hyperactive children. Unfortunately, because it does not readily dissolve, has a tendency to burn, and does not result in a pleasing texture, it may not substitute easily in your favorite baked goods or in hot beverages. For baking, maple crystals are a better choice. Date sugar is better used as part of a sweet crisp topping, or as a solo topping for hot grain cereals. (Date sugar may be hard to find on store shelves.)

 

Fruit Juices: Fruit juices are about 10% sucrose. Try to make your own since high heat used in commercially processed juices can destroy nutrients. Fruit juice is versatile and can work in all types of desserts, and pairs well with maple syrup in baked goods. Like all ingredients, it should be brought to room temperature before using. Fruit juice requires a lower baking temperature, which means you will also have to experiment with baking times. Try reducing the oven temperature 25 F degrees from what is called for and begin checking about 10 minutes in advance, and in 5 minute intervals, from what is outlined in your recipe directions.

 

[Fructose]10

 

Honey: Made from flower nectar, it is highly refined and processed, in this case in the stomachs of bees. It is important to buy organic honey whenever possible, since honey is not the pure product we might imagine it to be. Sugar waters, insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides are used in the rearing of bees. Also , in fighting mites, many beekeepers use highly toxic coumaphos strips. Traces of all these pesticides can be found in commercial brands of honey. Honey is 85% sugar, three-quarters glucose and one-quarter fructose, and is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Honey has a strong taste, which is much sweeter than sugar. In minute doses, honey has some medicinal benefits, both for inflammation and as an anti-microbial.

 

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is boiled-down sugar-maple tree sap and provides a host of trace minerals incorporated from the tree roots growing deep in the ground. It deserves a central place in baking since it is local to the Northeast, has a long-standing history, keeps well in the refrigerator, and provides a gentle sweetness that works well in all sorts of baked goods. For people trying to control blood sugar levels it may have to be used conservatively since it is concentrated; it is 85% sucrose. Maple syrup has a strong flavor all its own, which imparts a wonderful taste to many baked goods and especially dairy-based desserts. (Avoid commercially-processed brands that often employ formaldehyde. Buy organic maple syrup and try to purchase it in glass bottles to reduce the risk of lead contamination.) You might want to use Grade B syrup in baking because it often costs less and has a fuller flavor, while Grade A is an option for anyone who wants a lighter flavor and does not mind paying a little extra. Maple syrup can be mixed half and half with brown rice syrup or apple juice, so enjoy experimenting.

 

Maple Crystals (Maple Sugar): Maple crystals are a wonderful, all-purpose sweetener that substitutes easily for refined sugar in nearly all recipes. It is especially good for children transitioning away from refined sugar. It is very versatile, though it may disappoint when baking cookies since it does not always produce the same crisp product achieved with sugar. Made from what is left after evaporating all the liquid from maple syrup, it is rich in trace minerals with a unique maple flavor that adds depth to foods. It has a tendency to clump, but a quick trip through a spice grinder can quickly rectify this. Since maple crystals can be costly, it is worth buying them in bulk. A good source is www.coombsfamilyfarm.com.

 

Molasses: The byproduct of the sugar refining process, unsulfured molasses is made from the juice of natural cane and is very sweet. Medium/dark molasses, from the second extraction, is moderately sweet. Blackstrap molasses, which is 65% sucrose, is made from the last extraction, so it is the most concentrated in minerals, especially iron, calcium, zinc, copper, and chromium; but it is also the most concentrated in toxins such as lead and pesticides.

 

Rapadura: Unrefined evaporated cane juice, it contains minerals, especially silica. It resembles sugar and so is a direct and easy substitute for sugar in baking. Like sugar, it is pure sucrose.

 

Sorghum Syrup: Sorghum, 65% sucrose, is made by boiling down cane juice. Because sorghum cane attracts few insects, it is rather free of pesticides so it is a good sweetener for those seeking chemical-free sweeteners.

 

Stevia: A sweetener derived from an herb native to Latin America, it does not affect blood sugar levels and can be used successfully by those unable to use other natural sweeteners. Choose only the green or brown extracts or powders; the white and clear extracts can create imbalance because they are very refined and are devoid of nutrients.11 A powerful sweetener, stevia must be used sparingly; and because it has no bulk, it is not appropriate for baking. Stevia was only recently approved to be sold as food, rather than as a supplement. Because it is a plant, it cannot be patented, so it does not have a strong marketing force to foster its use.

 

Sucanat: The abbreviation/trade name for Sugar Cane Natural. It is pure, naturally dried sugar cane juice with its molasses content remaining. The molasses content leaves brown flecks in baked products. It also clumps, so you may need to sift or grind it in a spice grinder before using. It is 88% sucrose, but with most phyto-nutrients of the cane still intact. It has a mild flavor with a molasses accent and can be substituted 1:1 for sugar.

 

Note concerning turbinado (raw) sugar and brown sugar:
Turbinado, which is often advertised as a nutritious natural sweetener, is best avoided. As the first extraction from molasses, it can contain insects, molds, and bacteria, unless heated and sanitized. It is actually highly processed.
Brown sugar is simply refined white sugar with a bit of molasses added to add color and taste.

 

The Chart below can be used flexibly. Sweetening foods is a matter of taste and also depends upon where you are on your own personal journey transitioning away from sugar. You can use this guide as a starting point and then adapt it to your own tastes and preferences. Experiment, but you cannot go wrong following these suggestions.

Sweetener
Amount in Cups
Reduce Liquid/Cup Sugar
Add Baking Soda:
Barley Malt1 1/31/4 cup1/4 t.
Date Sugar
(not for baking)
1 1/2------
Fruit Juice2/31/3 cup1/4 t.
Honey2/31/4 cup1/4 t.
Maltose1 1/2slightly---
Maple Syrup2/33 T.1/4 t.
Maple Crystals3/4-1 ------
Molasses1/2------
Brown Rice Syrup1 1/31/4 cup1/4 t.
Sorghum Syrup2.3slightly---
SucantEqual---1/4 t.

 

June Recipes: Sweet Breakfast Treats for June Celebrations
June is a special month. The longest days of the year bring weddings, graduations, reunions and other special times when friends and family gather. When we look ahead to these occasions, having a few delicious breakfast treats baked ahead of time can be helpful, particularly if we have house guests of various ages and sleeping schedules. The following recipes can be made in advance and are as delicious a day later as they are fresh-baked from the oven. In your times of celebration, we hope they please the guests while they also take pressure off the host and hostess.

 

Apple Upside-Down Biscuit Cake
For the topping:
3 T. unsalted butter
2 T. maple sugar
1 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thin wedges
For the cake:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 T. maple syrup
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
5 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 F.
For topping: Heat butter in an ovenproof 10-inch heavy skillet (preferably well-seasoned cast-iron) over moderate heat until foam subsides. Stir in maple syrup and remove from heat. Spread mixture evenly in skillet and arrange apples, overlapping in one layer.
For cake: Blend flour, syrup, baking powder and soda, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and add buttermilk, stirring just until mixture is moistened. Drop batter on top of apples and gently spread, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the skillet so cake can expand. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20¬-25 minutes. Cool cake in skillet on a rack 3 minutes, then invert onto a platter. Replace on the cake any apples that stick to the skillet. Serve warm with crème fraiche or sour cream.
Source: Ellen Arian

 

Breakfast/Snack Raisin Squares (18-24 squares)
Filling:
3 cups seedless raisins
1 ½ cups filtered water
1 cinnamon stick
3 T. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup kuzu or arrowroot, dissolved in
2 T. water
Crust:
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ t. salt
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup maple syrup or barley malt

Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
2. Discard the cinnamon stick. In a blender or food processor, puree the raisins and return them to the saucepan. Add the dissolved kuzu and cook over high heat, stirring until thickened and clear; set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9-by-14 inch cake pan.
4. Crust: Place the oats, flour, and salt in the container of a food processor. With the machine running, drop in the pieces of butter, one at a time, until well mixed (Or, cut the butter into the flour in a bowl, using 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly.)
5. With the food processor still running, slowly pour in the syrup or barley malt (or stir it into the flour in the bowl) until well mixed and you have a soft dough. Divide the dough in half.
6. Roll out one-half between two pieces of wax paper, to fit the cake pan. Remove the top paper. Invert the dough into the pan and carefully peel off the bottom paper. Gently press the dough into all the corners of the pan, then fold over or press down the edges so that the crust is flat with no border. Spread the filling evenly over the crust, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
7. Break up the remaining dough between your fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle the crumbly dough evenly over the raisin filling, covering it completely. Press down lightly.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Let cool, then cut into squares.
Source: The Natural Gourmet

 

Banana-Nut Muffins (Makes 12 Muffins)
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup butter or ghee, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup maple syrup
Two large eggs
Two teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Three small or medium bananas, about 2 cups, well mashed
Two cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. fine sea salt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with parchment paper liners.
Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes (about 4 minutes for pecans). Cool,chop and set aside.In a large bowl, mix together the butter or ghee, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and bananas.
Over a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, adding the nuts as you stir. Be careful not to overmix.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about ¾ full.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins feel well set. Turn the muffins out of the tin and cool on a rack. Source: Ellen Arian

 

Blueberry Muffins (10-12 muffins)
8 tablespoons butter at room temperature
3/4 cup plus
Two tablespoons maple syrup
Two large eggs
Two cups whole wheat pastry flour
Two teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup whole milk (or 1/4 cup buttermilk + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda)
2-1/2 cups organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place parchment liners in muffin cups.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the maple syrup and continue creaming until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Then add them alternately with the milk to the butter-maple mixture. Mix only until just combined.
In a small bowl, crush a handful of the blueberries with a fork and mix them into the batter byhand, along with the remaining blueberries.
Source: Ellen Arian

 

Copyright 2009 Pathways4Health

  1. Library.thinkquest.org/Coo5271F/chemistry. []
  2. See New York Times, Showdown at the Coffee Shop, 4/15/09 []
  3. www.webme.com/diet/news/20050613/drink-more-diet-soda-gain-more-weight. []
  4. S.E. Seithers, A Role for Sweet Taste: Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats.Dx.doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.122.1.161. []
  5. Mary McCarty, Sweet and Natural, 17. []
  6. Biochemist Paul A. Stitt, quoted in Beyond Antibiotics, p. 84. []
  7. Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods, 193. []
  8. McCarty, 18. []
  9. The Weston Price Foundation, Wise Traditions, Spring, 2009. []
  10. I do not believe that fructose belongs on the list of natural sweeteners since it is often made from refined corn and can deplete the body of chromium and copper stores. Although metabolized more slowly than sucrose, like sugar, it has no nutritional value. []
  11. Paul Pitchford. []