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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

This nutritious breakfast is a delicious combination of yogurt, whole grains, and fresh fruits in season. Here I chose blackberries and nectarines, but you can use any fresh, ripe fruit.

Use whole milk yogurt made from cow, sheep or goat milk. Or, for a vegan version, substitute yogurt made from soy.

Use clear glass dishes (or sturdy drinking glasses) if you want to see the colorful layers.

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
1 heaping cup fresh blackberries
1 cup chopped ripe nectarine
1 cup granola (recipe follows)
2 tbsp raw hemp nuts or ground flax seeds

Whisk together the yogurt and honey until smooth.

In each of two serving dishes, layer the parfait as follows, starting at the bottom:

1. A few black berries
2. ½ cup yogurt-honey mixture
3. ¼ cup of granola
4. ½ cup chopped nectarine
5. ½ cup yogurt-honey mixture
6. ¼ cup granola
7. ½ cup blackberries
8. tbsp hemp or flax

Serves two.

Home-Made Granola:

3 cups milled multiple whole grain cereal or old-fashioned oats
¼ cup warm water
2 tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil
Dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup raw nuts, roughly chopped (cashews, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts)
1 cup raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp)
1 cup unsweetened shredded raw coconut

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add the whole grains to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the water, honey or maple syrup, and coconut oil. Pour the mixture over the whole grains and toss to coat them evenly. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes; stir. Bake 10 more minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cooled whole grain mixture, raw cashews, pumpkin seeds and coconut. Store the granola in an air-tight container inside the fridge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lavender Lemonade

This refreshing summer drink is elegant and easy to make. If you don’t have lavender, consider experimenting with a fresh herb, like rosemary, mint, or lemon balm. If you’re using fresh herbs, omit the lavender and use 2 tablespoons of chopped leaves in this recipe, and reserve some springs for garnish.

2 cups water, divided
1 rounded tablespoon dried lavender flowers
2 tbsp agave nectar (optional)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3 to 5 medium lemons
4 lemon slices* for garnish

Bring 1 cup water to a boil. Pour it over the lavender flowers and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and pour the tea into a small pitcher. Add the agave nectar and stir to dissolve. Add lemon juice and 1 cup cold water. Stir again. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 hours or more.

Taste before serving and if the lemonade is too strong, dilute it with water as desired. To serve, pour it over ice in individual glasses and garnish with lemon slices.

Or, freeze in freezer pop molds until frozen.

Serves 4.

* Cut slices from the center of the lemon and use the ends for juice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Freezer Pops

Although children love them, freezer pops are not just for kids. These healthy alternatives to store-bought Popsicles make easy and imaginative snacks and desserts, without any undesirable additives like sweeteners, artificial flavors or colors.

Some pops also make cool breakfast items on hot summer days, especially those that contain fruit and yogurt or coconut milk.

Others, like Green Tea Pops or frozen fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, can even be served as appetizers or palate cleansers between courses.

If you don’t have freezer pop molds, get creative with small paper cups or sturdy shot glasses fitted with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stainless steel or bamboo cocktail skewers, or wooden tooth picks. Freezing times will vary, depending on the shape and size of your molds. Before serving, dip the molds in a bowl of warm water to loosen and release them.

Green Tea Pops:

Tea pops are a healthy way to hydrate in hot weather. If you don’t have green tea - or simply favor another flavor - substitute any herbal tea. Other good choices include peppermint, rosehip, hibiscus, ginger and licorice.

2 cups brewed green tea
1 to 2 tsp honey (optional)
1 to 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Brew the tea slightly stronger than usual and stir in the honey. Allow it to cool to room temperature. Add the lemon juice and stir again to make sure the honey has dissolved. Pour it into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Raspberry Watermelon Pops:

Each pop contains one serving of fruit.

3 cups cubed watermelon
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Puree fresh or frozen fruit and portion into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Frozen Yogurt Peach Pops:

If you don’t have peaches, substitute apricots, plums, nectarines, or fresh berries.

1 very ripe peach, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups organic plain whole milk yogurt
1 to 2 tbsp honey

Spoon the chopped peach into 4 four-ounce freezer pop molds, filling them 2/3 full, loosely packed. Whisk together the yogurt and honey until smooth. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chopped peach, filling each mold. Put the sticks in place and freeze until frozen.

Yield: 4 four-ounce pops

Coco-Banana Pops:

Banana goes so well with coconut milk, but you can substitute any fruit that is fresh, ripe and local. Use fruit that is perfectly ripe or slightly overripe, and naturally sweet.

1 ripe banana or other ripe fruit, 1 piece or ¾ cup roughly chopped
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour into freezer pop molds. Freeze until frozen.

Yield: 3 four-ounce pops