Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yummy 3-Ingredient Organic Breakfast Cookies





Organic Breakfast Cookies (rainbow effect thanks to a crystal on my kitchen window sill)
You may already have come across these delicious breakfast cookies but thought: "hey, where's the good stuff? The sugar? The eggs? The fat?"  Well, the good stuff is all in the ingredients-- this is a whole food recipe which means we aren't using derivatives, we're using the real food, and it doesn't need to be gussied up with animal products to have incredible mouth appeal (that is what fatty, sugary, salty, custard-y textures and tastes contribute).  So, I say, try 'em and if you're disappointed, well, add some of the other ingredients...

INGREDIENTS (all organic and non-GMO)
    • 3 well-mashed Bananas
    • 1 C. Old-Fashioned Oat Flakes
    • 1/4 C. Chia Seed Gel
You can go with these 3-- pretty delicious by all counts-- or you can add in one or several of the following:
  • 1/4 C. chopped Nuts (I like pecans) or Seeds
  • 1/4 C. unsweetenened Coconut shreds
  • 1/4 C. Raisins or dried berries, figs, apricots, etc.
  •  1 tsp. grated fresh Ginger or 1 tsp. Cinnamon or 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, etc.
  • 1/4 C. Apple Sauce
  • Sprinkle of Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1/4 C. Carob powder with 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ?? (what did you try that isn't listed above? How did it turn out? Please tell in comments below.
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F./180 C.
  2. Combine everything until well mixed
  3. Drop 12 cookies onto a cookie sheet covered by a silicone mat or parchment paper
  4. Bake for 15 - 25 minutes (different preferences, different ovens)
  5. Cool.  Eat in-hand as a cookie or, as my husband prefers, in a small stack with almond milk on top (like a super-rich, sticky banana porridge). However you eat them, they are 'natural' and yummy and easy on the digestion!
Here is a link to a very interesting presentation on the nutritional status of GMOs -- explained very clearly by Dr. Thierry Vrain, a soil scientist who worked for Agriculture Canada for many years.   If you are still confused about whether GMOs are over-played by the health nuts or terrifyingly justified by the Frankin-monster agro-industrialist supporters, this is a good video to watch for basic scientific understanding. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Make Your Own Seed Mats (for Tiny Seeds)




This year I am excited to be trying a new technique (or me) for carrot planting... I am going to make my own seeding mats!

Have you ever planted carrots and either been overwhelmed by all the seeds that burst through in one spot, making it difficult to thin them without pulling up too many, or just feeling how wasteful it is to be aborting all those potential wonderful carrots?

PLANTING CARROT SEEDS IS THE HARDEST PART OF GROWING CARROTS

Carrot seeds are teeny-tiny.  It is difficult to see them when you plant and because they are so light you will sometimes find them flying about willy-nilly.  Here are some methods you can use to lessen these frustrations:
  1. Buy "pelleted seeds"-- these are various tiny seeds with a clay coating that make them easier to see and work with.  The coating needs to be kept moist during the planting process and eventually falls away.  They are fairly pricey ($6+ for 100 seeds).  Order HERE.
  2. Buy Seed Mats or strips.  These are generally tiny seeds stuck to a sheet or 'tape' / strip of  light fibre paper (newsprint quality) that breaks down as the seeds are watered and as they germinate and grow.  The idea is that the seeds are arranged in the intervals that you would use if they had already been thinned.  This saves time and money.  
  3. Make your own Seed Mats or Strips!  Save money and time when you are getting pretty close to a carrot with every couple of seeds you plant**!  Recipe below.
WHEN TO PLANT CARROTS

Carrots generally like a cooler start, so it is good to plant at the optimal Spring planting time in your area (April-May generally).  However, most plants will respond if planted during the later part of the Spring, and carrots for our area can be planted at three week intervals until July, as well as sown in August for a winter crop (until freezing).  I'm LATE getting started with my garden this year because we spent a delightful week+ with our granddaughters.  It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make!

PREPPING THE SOIL

Dig the soil deep.  Carrots like a loose, well-drained bed.  My organic farmer son suggests that a sandy soil works well for carrots.  He grows monster carrots.  I'm going to use something a little more like Mel's Blend (the Square Foot Garden Guy) because I'm using round containers to plant this fussy, beautiful Rainbow blend.  

Don't walk on your carrot beds-- they need to be kept loosy-goosy-- which is why container gardening (or square foot or raised beds) work so well for growing carrots.  I'm going to use a blend of an organic black top soil that is from an "ancient" un-farmed bog area somewhere on the Island where I live (hope it wasn't a septic field-- sort of smells like it) along with some of our own compost and maybe I will mix in some precious (read: expensive and hard to locate) vermiculite.  

If you are a novice carrot gardener, you can find some soil blends here.  If you are using a container, you could always opt for the ready-made-up container blends for veggie growing.  If possible, opt for organic and non-GMO (read: NOT Miracle Gro).

MAKING THE SEED MATS
  1. Using some rough paper (undyed, untreated as much as possible) you can clip it to the shape of the container you are going to use, or into strips or squares that you will fit your square foot garden.
  2. I put my raw tissue paper (it had been used to pack some dishes I bought and seems pretty natural) on a pizza sheet for easy transport and designed it to fit my large planter container.
  3. Make up the "glue" by cooking together (stirring or whisking constantly to keep smooth) 1/3 C. of Corn Starch to 1 C. Cold Water.  When finished it will resemble lemon pie filling.
  4. Set the "glue" aside to cool.
  5. When it is cool, spoon the goop into a baggy where you have clipped out  a corner (or use an icing bag) and deposit pea-shaped globs at the intervals on your sheet indicated by your seed packet (example: my packet reads that small plants will need to be spaced about 1 1/2 - 4" apart so I will do my globs accordingly.)
  6. Drop 2-3 seeds in each glob and let dry.
PLANTING THE MAT
  1. Before planting, even out the soil with a rake or hand, and tamp down gently.  Water well.  Lay down the paper mat, seeds facing upwards, and mist or lightly shower until the paper and seeds are completely wet.  Cover (lightly) the paper mat with vermiculite, light potting soil or moss.
  2. As the carrots begin to germinate (taking 2-3 weeks) and grow, you will likely want to water them up to several times a day to keep the paper wet at all times.  The carrots will eventually push through whatever paper is left and begin their rooty-tooty descent downwards as their lovely ferny tops grow upwards.
  3. If you decide to produce your own seed (which will only happen with fertile seed, not with more hybrids), just let a carrot continue to live underground with unmolested tops.  In time-- with the right carrot-- it will produce a flower head that resembles the Queen Anne's Lace that you may have growing as a weed in your yard.  Then you can go ahead and save your own seed for next season's planting!

**Getting a carrot for every seed you plant is, of course, conditional on: (1)the germination rate of the seed you are using-- example, my Rainbow Blend is listed as having a rate of 60% (or more than half of all seeds planted) for seeds that are under  3 years old, (2)keeping the seed bed moist during germination, (3)the weather conditions, (4)your soil conditions, (5)whether those "pesky wabbits" are lurking about awaiting your crop.  Don't worry though, because carrots generally produce enough if they germinate and you look after them sufficiently during the course of the season.  The mats will cut down on the initial having to 'thin' out redundant seedlings and make for a nice orderly seed bed.
Aren't these pretty??

A TASTE OF OTHER CARROT BLOG POSTS:

Eating A Rainbow of Carrots
Crazy Carrot Cake Oatmeal Porridge recipe
Pan Fried Roast Carrot Sticks
Chickpea and Carrot Curry

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pan-Fry Carrots (Roast Carrot Sticks)



Pan-roasted carrots (with some potato fries mixed in)
Our younger son grows organic vegetables, fruit and berries on an off-grid community farm in the interior of BC.  We stopped in to see him the other day and came away with a load of last year's carrots, still as carrot-y flavoured and plump as the day they were dug from the ground, thanks to the hill-side root crop storage cellar.  

Our granddaughters opted for fish and chips today for lunch, and some of the 'chips' were carrot chips.  They are also a great base for a roast carrot soup.  When you roast veggies, you get extra delicious flavour.

PAN-FRY CARROTS (Roast Carrot Sticks)
Wash and scrape carrots.  Chip or slice into strips, as desired.
Preheat Oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine:
  • 1-2 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp.  Celtic Sea Salt
  • 4-6     large straight Carrots, cut into chips or strips (as desired)
Lay chips out on a cookie sheet.  I recommend using either a silicon mat or parchment paper on the pan to cut down on clean-up after the baking.

Bake in pre-heated oven for about  25 minutes or until soft and fragrant.

Enjoy with ketchup, or throw into a roast veggie soup.



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Friday, May 1, 2015

Eating a Rainbow (of Carrots)




A few days ago I had some dental surgery and am still chewing gently on one side only. Peas and carrots are a childhood comfort food that I can virtuously squeeze into my healthier-eating adult menu (other comfort foods were chocolate bars and maple-walnut ice cream cones, not what the dentist ordered).

How sweet that my husband picked up a package of organic Rainbow Blend Carrots yesterday!  I've eaten these (pricey) babies before, and not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are truly yummy!

These ones come all the way from California-- but I have a package of West Coast Seeds-- untreated,
Aren't they pretty?  Rainbow Blend Carrots
organic, and GMO-- so that maybe the next time we eat these babies, we'll be doing the locavar thing!

He's out (conversing in Spanish with his weekly group who meet at the Starbucks upstairs in the Courtenay Quality Foods).  I'm hungry and am going to have one of those simple, cut-to-the-chase lunches we may all indulge in from time to time (?).  No salad.  No bread.  No dessert.  But I did make a quick little pretend-cheese sauce to go over the veggies (oh, and I added some brown rice shells into the mix-- this is one of Dr. McDougall's starchavor meals I guess.  Not unhealthy-- maybe not that appealing to people who don't have carrots and peas and rice pasta on their 'comfort food' list.)  Some of you might like it as much as I do!

  1. Prepare the Carrots the way you like them, i.e., boil, steam, stirfry, or maybe put them in a parchment pouch in the oven.  Cook up the peas and pasta.  Combine the carrots, peas and pasta.
  2. Make the Sauce and ladel it over the veggies and pasta.
  3. Enjoy.

The Cheezy Kreem Sauce Recipe (or just use one of your own cream sauce recipes)
  • Assemble the ingredients beforehand-- makes it so much easier to do up quickly!  This is a 'bland' sauce because my post-op instructions forbid curry powder and peppers and anything acidic.  I have no desire to have to get something redone-- like having more sutures in my gums, for example-- so this recipe reflects that.  You, on the other hand, can use what spices you really like.  The ingredients are:  
  • 2 T. Oil (I use coconut... you might prefer olive oil?)
  • 1 1/2 C. non-dairy, unsweetened Mylk (I used Almond)
  • 2 T. Tapioca Starch
  • 12 T. Nutritional Yeast
  • 4 tsp. Dijon Prepared Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt (to taste)
  • scant teaspoon Turmeric Powder (optional, but nice for a yellow-y color & the health benefits)
  1. Heat the oil on medium low for a couple of minutes
  2. Whisk Mylk and starch together in a 2-C. measuring cup until all lumps are gone & it's smooth
  3. Pour mylk  and starch into pan and continue to stir until thickening begins (around 5 minutes)
  4. Add in Nutritional yeast and stir to mix in
  5. Whisk in other ingredients
  6. Continue to stir until it is a nice smooth sauce... if too thick add some water (a little) and stir until the right consistency
  7. Either put sauce in a small sauce dish and let guests ladel on their own or combine it now with the veggies and pasta in major serving dish.
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                      To hear the 2015 speakers in the Food Revolution Summit, click HERE.