Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gluten-Free Vegan Apple Crumble Pie

I love apple crumb pie. The best part of this pie is that it is so packed with good stuff that you can eat it for breakfast and not feel guilty (maybe skip the ice cream).

Crust (&1/2 the crumble)
3/4 cup of garbanzo bean flour
1 cup of almonds (ground to a fine flour)
3/4 cup of gluten-free oats (ground to a fine flour)
1/2 cup hemp seeds (ground to a fine flour)
1/2 cup of chia powder
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of coconut oil
a dash of salt

1/2 the crust ingredients
1/2 cup of gluten-free whole oats
3 tablespoons coconut butter (or coconut oil)
1/3 cup light brown (or dark brown) sugar. I like Sucanat or Lakanto if I want to reduce my sugar intake.
A handful of crushed walnuts

Pie Filling
2 cups of thin sliced apples. I like honey crisp, but empire and gala apples work well too.
the juice of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of apple juice
1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger

Preheat oven to 375

To make the pie crust mix all of the crust ingredients in a large mixing bowl. It should have the consistency of dough.
Take out 1/2 of the mixture and press it into a pie tin. You want to make sure it is thin and consistent.

The other 1/2 of the mixture will be used for the crumble mixture so set it aside for right now.

For the pie filling take the sliced apples, lemon juice, ginger, maple syrup, and apple juice and cinnamon and mix together in a bowl (I actually used my juicer and juiced 1/2 a lemon, 1/2 and apple and a piece of ginger and poured that mixture over the apples with the cinnamon and maple syrup)
We ran out of ground cinnamon so my son grated a cinnamon stick into the filling mixture. A little more high maintenance but it worked.

Put the pie filling mixture into the pie crust. 

For the crumble, take the other 1/2 of the crust mixture. Add the whole oats, sugar, walnuts, coconut butter, and mix thoroughly.

Put the crumble mixture onto top of the pie. Press it down a couple of times so that the crumble stays in place.

Bake in the oven for @45 minutes.

I like to serve this with a little non-dairy, vanilla coconut ice cream for an a-la-mode dessert. Coconut Bliss is our favorite.

When I have it in the morning, I eat it with some kefir or all by itself. It tastes so good you could eat it all day long...It's so good for you that you can. That makes everybody happy.

 It tastes good hot, cold or at room temperature. It also makes a good lunchbox item.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Coconut Milk Ice Pops

Vanilla Rocket Pop
Chocolate Star Pop

Clearly I am obsessed with ice pops. I love them. What I love most about them is making ones that are super tasty and good for you, too.
This recipe came from a dinner we had with friends. My friend, Michelle, came over with coconut based ice cream that she'd made in her ice cream maker. I swear, it was the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. We were all licking our bowls. All I could think of was how to translate that into an ice pop.
That is how these coconut ice pops were born. They can be vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, strawberry, cantaloupe or any other flavor that strikes your fancy.

You will need:
1 can of coconut milk
3 tablespoons of REAL maple syrup. Not the fake stuff that is just rice syrup with maple flavoring
a dash of salt -Pink Himalaya Salt is preferred but Sea Salt is fine.
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

This is your base.

To make the chocolate version, add 1 teaspoon of raw cacoa powder.
For any of the fruits, add about a 1/2 cup and blend together in a blender.
Pour into your ice pop molds and pop them in the freezer. It takes about 6 hours.

Blueberry Bug Pop                                               Strawberry Rocket Pop

We have rocket pop, star and bug pop molds. I have seen robots, sailboats, and jewels. Basically if you give a child a slightly sweet frozen treat shaped like something cool they will love it. I have seen the molds on Amazon, at Target, and TJ Maxx. They are usually under $10 for a set.

Coconut milk is super nutritious. It helps to maintain blood sugar levels, gives a healthy boost to the immune system, helps build strong bones with a good dose of Phosphorous, reduces inflammation in the joints and is a good source of iron.

I would much rather give my child this than the sugar laden ice pops you find in the supermarket. Also, many of the ice pops you find in the market use synthetic dyes to achieve their fun colors. Blue tongue anyone? Synthetic dyes, especially when combined with refined sugars, have been found to have dramatic effects on children's behaviour and health. They have been linked to ADD, ADHD,  and certain cancers. Whatever ice pop you choose to serve your children, please take care to avoid these dyes. Look for brands that use more natural dyes like Tumeric and Paprika.

Have a delicious, happy, healthy summer.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins

These carrot muffins make a great snack or breakfast. They are packed with protein from the garbanzo bean flour, omega 3's from the chia powder, vitamin C and beta-carotene from the carrots, and lauric acid, which helps the body fight infections, from the coconut oil. The palm sugar has a low glycemic index so it doesn't make your blood sugar spike. The muffins are also filled with dietary fibers which help keep you feeling full as well as keeping your digestive system on track. For me, they are another example of how easy it is to bake without using any refined flour or refined sugars. 

3/4 cups garbanzo bean flour 
1/3 cup chia powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 tsp Xantham gum
3/4 cups palm sugar
3/4 cups coconut oil
2 cups freshly grated carrots
1/2 cup pf chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350

Put the flour mixture, baking soda, and xantham gum in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Place eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar and coconut oil and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the flour mixture keeping the mixer on low. Increase the speed as the flour gets incorporated until the batter is smooth.
Fold in the grated carrots, walnuts and cinnamon.

I like to make mini muffins. I find that when I make full size muffins my kids never finish them. The mini's are kid size, so they happily eat one or two. The best part is, I don't find 1/2 eaten muffins lying around the house. 

Fill the muffin tins 1/2 way up. Bake for @15 minutes.  If you are making full size muffins they will take about twice as long to cook. Stick a toothpick in a muffin to see if it is done. If it comes up clean, they are ready.

You can also add a little frosting on the top and make carrot cupcakes. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Healthy Version of Milk and Cookies

This is my untraditional take on milk and cookies. The"milk" is a nut milk sweetened with medjool dates. The cookies are almonds, oats and dark chocolate chips. Both are tasty and good for you.

Here is how you do it.

Nut Milk:
1 cup of mixed almonds, cashews and brazil nuts, soaked overnight in water. 
5 medjool dates soaked overnight in water (make sure to take the pits out)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups of water
a dash of salt

Rinse the nuts until the water is clear.

Put all of the ingredients, including the water that the dates were soaked in,  in a blender and blend until smooth.
Strain the almond milk either through a cheesecloth, a strainer with a paper towel, or a nut bag . That gets out all of the nut and date bits, so it has the consistency of milk.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
You will need:
2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/4 teaspoon Xantham gum
1/3 cup chia powder
1/3 cup hemp seeds (ground to a fine flour)
1 cup rolled oats (ground to a fine flour)
1 cup raw almonds (ground to a fine flour)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil 
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350•

Grind the almonds, oats and hemp seeds. I find that a coffee grinder works very well. You can also use a blender.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Heat the coconut oil until liquid. At room temperature it has the consistency of margarine. Add the syrup and the oil to the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Mold the dough into cookie size shapes. This dough does no act like traditional chocolate chip cookie dough that 'melts' into a cookie shape. These will come out of the oven in the same size and shape they went in...
Bake 15 minutes on parchment lined baking tray. Don't overcook them. They will turn into rocks.

We should all limit our sugar. As recent studies show, sugar, in large amounts, can be very damaging to our health. Sugar gives pleasure, so cutting it out altogether is no fun. Instead, we should spend our sugar dollars wisely. Eat sugars in small amounts and eat ones that have additional health benefits, like the vitamins and minerals in maple syrup and dates, and the antioxidants in dark chocolate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Organic vs Conventional

You can reduce your pesticide exposure level by 90% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. You cannot get rid of the pesticides with extra washing or peeling.

This list is from Kelly Dorfman's book "What's Eating Your Child?"

The Red Zone             So-So Levels                     Better                             Ahhhhh
avoid unless                 use caution                         but not                            the best of
organic                                                                   perfect                            the bunch

Peaches                       Spinach                              Applesauce                    Broccoli
Apples                          Grapes                               Raspberries                   Orange Juice
Sweet Bell Peppers     Lettuce                                Plums                            Blueberries
Celery                          Potatoes                             Grapefruit                       Papaya
Nectarines                   Green Beans                      Tangerine                      Cabbage
Strawberries                Hot Peppers                        Apple Juice                   Bananas
Cherries                      Cucumbers                          Honeydew Melon          Kiwi
Carrots                        Mushrooms                         Tomatoes                      Canned
Pears                          Cantaloupe                          Sweet Potatoes             Tomatoes*
Frozen Winter             Oranges                              Watermelon                   Asparagus
Squash                        Fresh Winter                       Cauliflower                    Mango
                                    Squash                                                                      Canned Pears
                                                                                                                      Sweet Corn**
                                                                                                                      Sweet Peas

My additions:
*Careful when buying canned tomatoes. Buy BPA Free cans or buy the tomatoes in the cardboard box. Tomatoes are very acidic, so the BPA easily leaches into them.
**Most corn is Genetically Modified. You don't need to buy organic corn but you do need to avoid GMO corn. Look at the barcode. If it says 9 it is organic. If it says 4 it is conventionally grown. If it says 8 it is a GMO.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

 Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods around. They are very high in vitamins, minerals,  and complex carbohydrates as well as dietary fibers and protein. The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one most nutritious vegetable because they such are so nutritionally rich. The best part is that they are naturally sweet, so kids like them.
Homemade Sweet Potato Fries are an easy way to get kids to eat this great root vegetable. And they are so easy to prepare.  Just chop the sweet potato (skin on), toss with oil and salt, spread them out on a baking tray and pop them in the oven at 375 for 1/2 an hour. I like to broil them on low for the last five minutes of cooking, because it makes them a little crispier. You can add additional spices if your family will go for that. My kids like spice, so I add a little caynenne pepper.
The other fun thing you can do is use cookie cutters to cut them into cool shapes. That is a fun afternoon project that you can do with your kids that turns into a yummy dish at dinner.

You can even make super heroes!

 It is very important that you buy organic when you purchase potatoes of any kind. The potato acts like a sponge with chemical pesticides. Peeling it doesn't help because the chemicals are absorbed by the potato. Also, much of the iron and dietary fiber is in the peel.
The quality of all fruits and vegetables is determined by the quality of the soil they are grown in. If they are grown organically, in a sustainable way, then they will have the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals. The more burnt out the soil, and the more chemicals used, the less nutritious they are. So buy organic for your health, and the health of the planet.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Sinus Tea

When that all too familiar pressure behind my nose starts to build, I know where to turn: Sinus Tea. This happens to me twice a year, if I am lucky. More, if I am not. When it happens, this tea really does the trick.

You will need:
The peel of an organic onion. Organic is important because you are using the skin. Red onion is better but white works as well.
1/4 inch piece of ginger (about the size of the tip of your thumb,) diced.
A few sprigs of thyme
Honey. The less processed the better.

Put the onion peel, ginger and thyme in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the temperature to medium and allow to simmer, uncovered, for around 7 minutes.

Add honey until it is sweet enough for you. I find one teaspoon to be enough for me.

The reason it works;
Onion, the skin in particular, has many medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammtory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It is also an expectorant, so is especially good for sinus and respiratory issues.
Ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It aids in circulation so, theoretically, will help you get over your cold more quickly. It is a warming root, so it is soothing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties
Thyme works as an antiseptic and an antihistimine. It is especially good for bronchial issues.
Honey is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and has tons of anti-oxidants.

I find this tea to be very soothing. The anti-inflammatory action takes the pressure off of my nose. It also  loosens the tightness in my chest. You should drink lots of fluids when you are sick, so two cups of this a day is helpful. The steam from the tea also help to open up nasal passages and generally feels good going down. Ahhhhhh...relief.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

True Food Kitchen

"Great tasting food that's good for you."

True Food Kitchen rocks. It is a perfect restaurant. The philosophy behind it is to serve good, recognizable food made with high quality ingredients.  It is my new favorite place. I just wish I lived near one.
My husband, 94-year-old father-in-law and 2 kids (ages 2 and 5) went to the one in Scottsdale when we were there visiting over spring break. It was a tough crowd to please especially at a "health food" restaurant. I admit, I was a little nervous.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how cool it looked. True Food has a sleek, modern design with an open kitchen. It is not what you visualize when you think of a health food restaurant. You know what I mean. Tables too close together and people sporting too much body hair. Not true here. It was hip and cool and filled with well dressed people who were out for a nice meal. Phew.
The food was awesome. The kids had a crudite plate with hummus and ranch dressing. Then, they split a cheese pizza. My father-in-law had turkey tacos and my husband and I split a kale salad followed by Panang Curry. I couldn't have been happier. All of the ingredients were fresh and organic. Everybody cleaned their plates.
True Food Kitchen's philosophy is that simple, sustainable, seasonal foods are the best for you and the environment. Developed with health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, their menu is filled with dishes made from local organic meats, produce, and whole grains. The most amazing part was that it was very reasonably priced. The most expensive thing on the menu was $19.
True Food Kitchen currently has four locations, two in Arizona and two in California. If only they would open one in New York then I would be truly happy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Packed with Spinach Lasagna

Spinach is a beautiful vegetable. It is also chock full of vitamins and minerals. "But, my kids won't eat it, " goes the universal lament. Don't worry. If they eat lasagna they will eat this.
The key to this recipe is blending some of the spinach into the tomato sauce. That way the goodness gets into them without them even knowing it. And, there is a bonus. The red and green vegetable combination is a powerhouse.  The benefits of red vegetables supercharge those of the green vegetables and vice versa. Anytime you can put both color vegetables into a meal you are getting even more benefits than when you eat either one alone.
I sneak fresh spinach into every crook and crevice of this lasagna. I put in as much as I can get away with. You can adjust this recipe to adapt to what your kids will tolerate.
Here is what you will need:

I box of lasagna noodles.
1 bunch of spinach if your child has a green aversion. 2 if they will eat it.
1 8oz container of Ricotta cheese. I use Coach Farms goat ricotta because goat's milk is easier for your stomach to digest than cow's milk. Any ricotta will work.
1 quart or 1 jar of tomato sauce. I buy my sauce from a local Italian market. This way I know it is fresh.
1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

This recipe should take 1/2 and hour of prep time and 45 minutes of cooking time. It is possible to make in advance and heat up later. In fact, I think it is better the second day. You can also make a few at a time and freeze them for a healthy meal when you don't have time to cook.

Preheat your oven to 350.
Combine the mozzarella and parmesan with salt and pepper.
Cook the noodles per the box's instructions.
While the noodles are on the stove, wilt the spinach in a pan. The wilting process should only take about a minute.
Put your tomato sauce and 1 bunch of the wilted spinach in the blender and mix. Here you can add additional cooked vegetables to the sauce if you want to. Carrots, squash, brocolli and zucchini are all good choices. Tomato sauce is the perfect place to pack in the vegetables. You would be surprised what you can get away with.
If your kids have a green aversion then skip this next step. If they are cool with the green then go for it. Take the 2nd bunch of wilted spinach and chop it coarsely. Mix 1/3 of it into the ricotta cheese.  Mix some of the tomato sauce into the ricotta cheese as it makes it easier to spread.
Pour 1/5 of the sauce into a 10X7 oven safe pan. Add a layer of noodles. Then a layer of ricotta cheese, spinach (again, if you have a really "green" averse child you can skip this too), a sprinkle of the cheese mixture and then some sauce. Repeat this more 3 times. Make sure the top layer has sauce and a full layer of the cheese mixture.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Take out of the oven and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.

This makes a great next day lunch box item, too. Put the left-over lasagna in the oven or toaster oven for @20 mins to warm it up,  and pack in an insulated food container. sells one by LunchBots.  I use these containers every day for my kid's lunches. Keeps food warm and safe from food contaminants.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Berry and Kale Smoothie

Kale? Seriously? Ewwwwww......

It's actually amazing. You can't taste the kale in the smoothie at all. I start by putting frozen organic fruit in the blender. Bananas, strawberries and blueberries or blackberries. You need a dark fruit in there unless you want to produce a green smoothie which I fear most kids would reject on color alone.

You will need:
4 strawberries
1/2 cup of blueberries and/or blackberries
1/2 banana
1 cup of chopped kale
1/2 cup of apple juice
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon full of calcium powder (optional)

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

The leftover fruit I use is perfectly good but not very pretty. If your kids are anything like mine then one tiny little brown spot will kill the whole piece for them. Squishy blueberries and 1/2 eaten bananas that would otherwise go to waste go into the fruit bag I keep in the freezer. Fruit, especially organic fruit, is very expensive. You don't want to waste a single bite.
To supplement the fruit bag I use Cascadian farm organic frozen berries. Frozen organic fruits and vegetables are a very good choice. They are picked at their prime and frozen so they retain most of their nutrients. They are more widely available than fresh organic fruit and are less expensive.

I freeze the kale in large bunches. What I do is buy organic, curly kale in the summer and fall from a local organic farm so it will be top quality and fresh. Usually 10 1 gallon freezer bags will get us through the winter. Cut out the middle ribbing. Wash and chop the remaining green leaves. I grab a handful for each smoothie. 

I add a spoonful of calcium to my kid's smoothies. This addition is up for debate. My kids eat very few dairy products. They get most of their calcium from greens. It never seems like enough for growing bones. Calcium also supports muscle contraction and nerve conduction as well as providing additional immune support. As important as I feel calcium is, giving any child a supplement has to be a choice that a parent must make for themselves. Consult your pediatrician and consider the rest of your child's diet before adding any supplements. All of that being said the calcium supplement I use is from Standard Process. It is an excellent company and makes a pure product. 

For a liquid I use a fresh pressed organic apple juice and water. The liquid should come up to about 3/4 of the bulk of the fruit and kale in the smoothie. If you use too much liquid the smoothie gets diluted. Too little and and it's too thick. I err on the side of too little as you can always add a little more liquid as you are blending.
When the smoothie is done it should be a consistent texture and free of any chunks.
Pour it into your kid's favorite cups and you can give them a tasty breakfast or snack.

Seriously, any time your kids eat kale or anything close to that nutritious, you should do a victory dance. 
I know a recipe is a winner when Swiper the Fox (aka Sam, my youngest)) comes and steals it during the shoot. I had just set up my first shot when this happened...

Literally, stolen right out from underneath me.

"If you are what you eat then I am a Sau-ci Shrimp Cocktail"

“If you are what you eat  then I am a Sau-ci Shrimp Cocktail”

I grew up in the era of Hamburger Helper . Hungry Man Jack dinners were a treat my sister and I would have when my mother went out.  I remember the frozen dinners going into the oven looking like a science project and coming out bubbling and smelling delicious. My favorite part was the apple crumble that beckoned and encouraged you to finish the turkey with gravy so you could eat the sweet loveliness. Another big treat was the Sau-ci  Shrimp Cocktails, miniature shrimp in cocktail sauce that came in their own glass jars which my mother then used for juice glasses. She still has them. I shudder to think how many preservatives there were in those little glass jars.

My mother, who was not an enthusiastic cook, often made recipes from the “I Hate to Cook Book,” like Hama-Lima supper and  Stayabed stew. Nary a fresh vegetable in sight. The recipes always called for canned veggies.  My mother used to bake chicken a lot. I remember loving that. She baked it flooded in butter. The crunchy skin was always the best part.

         This was not the era of health food.
We have come a long way since then. We have learned how much impact our diets have on our health. Good quality fruits and vegetables are available all year round and yet we are still not making good food choices.
All my research shows how important food is and how it is inexorably connected to how our immune system functions. Most significantly how the first 8 years of a persons life can determine their health for the rest of their lives. The food a child eats is what gives their little bodies the tools that they need to build their immune system. If they are served American standard kid fare they are not getting that. It is very simple. Give a child real whole foods and their bodies can do what they are meant to do. Build an efficient immune system.
Great. Now that we have determined that the big question is HOW?????
My future blogs called Tapp's Tips will address just this question. I will show the foods that are doing us harm and why. I will give the good store brands that are committed to producing less processed more healthy foods as well as recipes that even the picky little ones will eat.
I hope you tune in.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Keep food fun

One of the keys to kids eating well is to keep it fun. You don't need to be an artist to make a simple face. Avocado eyebrows and hair. Organic strawberry eyes. A cornichon for a nose and an Applegate roasted turkey breast mouth.
I love the Applegate Organics lunch meats. If your kids are meat eaters it is a wonderful lunch choice. Their products have no added nitrates and are organic so they are good quality meat.

Dessert is a Vita Coco rocket shaped ice pop. It's just straight coconut water in a rocket shaped ice pop mold. He thinks he is getting a big treat. Meanwhile he is eating something that is actually good for him.

Children's food

I have always been interested in nutrition but I really didn't get totally involved in it until about 6 years ago. Kids nutrition in particular. It all happened when I had my first son. I looked at this perfect little being and I just didn't want to mess him up. When he was ready for solid foods I went to the grocery store to look at the baby food and was not happy with what I saw. I checked out the organics and wasn't too happy with those choices either. I bought a few and tried them but they tasted awful! I mean, why would you want to feed your little baby something that you wouldn't want to eat yourself? I started doing some research on kids nutritional needs and decided to make my own baby food.
From that point on I dove in deep. I looked up every food and found out what the nutritional value of that food was. I researched food combinations and found out which foods enhanced each other and which foods detracted from each other. I was a woman on a mission.
I looked at the standard children's menu and was deeply distressed with what I saw. How could we go out to eat when the only options on the kid's menu were completely void of any nutritional value? I realized at that point that we as a nation have a very big problem. The kid's menu is basically a road map of what to feed your kids. When you have a  young child you look to what is 'normal' and run with it. You go to the children's food aisle and buy what is there. You accept what you are being fed.
I remember listening to a commercial for a local restaurant. The song went like this "If your kid is like everyone else's and will eat nothing but chicken fingers and french fries then come to our place. We have the best ones in town."Did no one else see that this was a problem?
After I had my second son I became very sick with Lyme disease. Now I was in even deeper. I was feeding 2 children and now had the task of trying to get myself back to good health. For anyone who has had lyme disease you know that this is no small task.
Now my mission reached a fever pitch. The more I read about kids nutrition the more I saw the correlation between what kids eat and how that affects their future health. If I wanted my kids to have a strong immune system and have them be able to fight off the nasty bug that floored me, and whatever future bugs they might encounter, I knew that they had to have a strong immune system. That meant eating a good diet including lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, good whole grains and organic meats and not allowing the junk that is passing as kids food.
Now, nearly 3 years later, I am finally able to see what I hope is the end of my lyme tunnel. I have gone back to school for nutrition so I can cement my status as a healthy food advocate. I hope you will join me.