Jan 13, 2015

Cornmeal-flaxseed pancakes with maple berry sauce


Quick to whip up, wheat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free -- and still delicious! I've been making these for months, but just now got around to posting them. I'm trying life wheat-free for a while, and these are a great substitute for traditional wheat flour pancakes.

This recipe came about when I tried this recipe for Blueberry Flax Microwave Muffines via Spark People, I loved the ease, nutrition, and flavor of the original recipe, but the grainy texture just didn't seem right for a muffin.

So that actually became my inspiration. It reminded me of the texture of cornbread, and I LOVE cornbread! It's one of the things I missed the most when I went low-carb. When my kids were little (before I went low-carb), we would sometimes have cornmeal pancakes for dinner. Just swap out cornmeal for half the flour, and you've got a pancake with a texture somewhere between pancakes and cornbread. Soaked in melted butter and maple syrup; mmm...! Replacing some of the maple syrup with berries adds vitamins and fiber; a small nudge toward healthier fare.

But back to these wheat-free pancakes... Another drawback was that putting frozen blueberries in the muffins made them pretty ugly. Trust me: they looked NOTHING like the picture! Also, egg in the microwave has a super-fine line between undercooked and rubbery.

So to solve all these shortcomings but keep them quick and easy, I...

  • Replaced half the flaxmeal with corn meal
  • Turned them into pancakes, made stove-top
  • Took the blueberries out of the mix and served them on top as a sauce/syrup (I use whatever berries I have on hand: raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or a mix.)

Result? Quick, easy, tasty breakfast!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The dry ingredient amounts below make a batch of dry mix, which you then use a little at a time to make 1 or 2 servings. The mix is enough to make four single batches.

Cornmeal-flax pancakes with maple berry sauce

Dry mix:
1/2 c. flaxseed, freshly ground
1/4 c. + 2 T. cornmeal (gluten-free, if necessary)
2 tsp. baking soda
4 pinches salt
Combine and store in airtight container, at room temp or in fridge. Makes four single batches.

Single batch:
1 egg
1 T. coconut milk (or other milk of your choice)
3.5 T.  dry mix (recipe above)
1-2 T. butter

Whisk the egg and the coconut milk, then whisk in the dry mixture. Stir till well combined.

Cook as you would pancakes. Heat a non-stick frying pan. (You know it's the right temp when splattered droplets of water immediately skittle across the surface.) Melt the butter in the pan; pour the excess into a small bowl and set aside for later.

Pour batter into the pan to make one large, two medium, or three small pancakes. It starts out pretty runny; you may need to nudge the edges in a little with your spatula, especially on the smaller cakes.

When the edges look puffy and dry-ish, and bubbles coming to the surface slow down in frequency, flip them over and cook a little less time on the second side. They should be just slightly golden-brown on both sides.

Use the leftover melted butter and brush or spread it on both sides of the finished pancakes, then plate them and pour on the berry syrup. Syrup recipe below.

Makes three mini pancakes, two medium, or one large.

Maple-berry syrup 

4 single-batch servings

1-1/3  c. fresh or frozen berries
2-1/2  to  3 T. real maple syrup

Combine and heat briefly in microwave or on stovetop.
------------
Nutrition info, via myfitnesspal. Serving equals one whole single batch:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 1.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 397
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28 g43 %
Saturated Fat 15 g73 %
Monounsaturated Fat 6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 240 mg80 %
Sodium 730 mg30 %
Potassium 221 mg6 %
Total Carbohydrate 31 g10 %
Dietary Fiber 8 g31 %
Sugars 10 g
Protein 8 g16 %
Vitamin A13 %
Vitamin C18 %
Calcium9 %
Iron17 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Jan 10, 2015

Fighting fake hunger pangs -- and 7 other reasons to drink more water

image by susan burdick

Roughly 60 percent of your body is made of water. Drinking plenty vs not enough water affects how your body sends signals, regulates temperature, digests food (affecting nutrition), and more. Here are eight reasons to drink more water...

  • Being dehydrated creates fake hunger pangs that are really your body's cry for water, not food. Next time you want a snack, try having a glass of ice water (or other unsweetened drink), and find something interesting to do for 10 minutes. This may make your hunger pangs go away.
  • Did you know that skin is the largest organ in your body? Some toxins in the body can cause the skin to inflame, resulting in clogged pores and acne. Plus, any inflammation in the body is an additional drain to your immune system. 
  • Your stomach and colon need water to help them break down food, absorb nutrients, and flush out waste. If you don't drink enough water, waste will collect in your body, causing a myriad of problems.
  • Also, the less hydrated you are, the harder it is to poo. 
  • Your kidneys are also essential for waste removal, processing up to 200 quarts of blood daily, sifting out waste and transporting urine to the bladder. Not surprisingly, they also require fluids to work properly. 
  • Because dehydration affects the viscosity of the blood (makes it thicker), it forces your heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. 
  • Could drinking more water prevent cancer? Some research says staying hydrated can reduce risk of colon cancer by 45% and bladder cancer by 50% for men. (Women showed no statistical difference for colon cancer, and were not included in the bladder cancer study.) (Sources: colon cancer-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10404059;  bladder cancer - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/331514.stm)
  • My favorite? Drinking more water may improve your mental sharpness! Research looking at dehydration in atheletes "was associated with negative mood, including fatigue and confusion." (Source: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2009/091123.htm)


Are you hooked on pop? Here's a "baby steps" approach to weaning yourself off the sweet stuff.

Fact sources:
http://greatist.com/health/reasons-to-drink-water
http://breakingmuscle.com/health-medicine/10-life-changing-reasons-to-drink-more-water
http://www.butterflytherapies.com/top-12-tips-for-a-healthier-life-part-1/


Dec 26, 2014

Keeping a rotisserie chicken SAFELY warm for a few hours


I was looking this info up for myself; thought it was worth posting here.

What to do when you've bought a whole roasted chicken, still warm, but dinner doesn't start for an hour or more? Even putting it in a low oven is going to dry it out -- and they usually don't start out all that great. Putting it in the fridge requires more oven time to warm it back up, which will also dry it out. But is it safe to leave them out?

Here's what I found on a forum thread:

Original question: Dinner is about 1.5 hours away. The chicken was warm when I purchased it.

Normally, I buy earlier in the day and just stick it in the fridge. This time, though, it seems that it would be better to try to keep it warm. I keep picturing it lingering too long in the "bacteria growth" temp zone considering it won't be in the fridge very long before I pull it out to start reheating.

Is my thinking off? If it's okay to keep it warm, what's the best temp for the oven?

Answer 1: I just leave mine on the counter until dinnertime. Then I cut it into quarters, stick it on a cookie sheet and reheat in the oven at 350 F. I've been doing this for years and we're all still kicking.

Answer 2: It will be fine. It needs to sit out for a minimum of 2+ hours before you have to worry about getting sick.

Answer 3: Actually, you have 4 hours in the "temperature danger zone" from 40° to 140°F. If your store keeps the chicken at or above 140°, you have 4 hours after it is removed from the heater before it is considered unsafe. These are the numbers I was taught at culinary school and have followed without issue since.

Reply from original poster: Thank you all very much! Dinner was delicious! 

And a professional chef on another forum says:

Remember that the temperature danger zone is 40 to 140 F. When you buy a rotisserie chicken, it is being held at a higher temperature than that and they package them as such that they try to keep them warm for a decent amount of time. Then after that, once it drops to 140, it takes time for all those little buggies to grow, get married, and reproduce. The government states [the safe zone is] 4 hours to pass through the temperature danger zone. Add that to the 45-1 hour that it will take the bird to drop to 140, if left in packaging and considering the ambient room temp., and you have a considerable time before it becomes a microbe bomb. Of course, I probably wouldn't try to stretch it that long but 1-2 hours, following government safety standards, should be more than safe.

So, I tried it. I kept two rotisserie chickens in a tote bag on the counter, with a folded dishtowel below (to prevent heatsink from my granite countertop; if you have wood or laminate counters, no need for this). I also took one of those big flat insulated foil-looking bags and folded it over the top of the closed chicken packages, then clothes-pinned the top of the tote bag shut. It sat for about an hour and a half before dinner.

Result? The temperature was a bit on the lukewarm side. It would have been better with a bit of oven time, I think. Although the breast was dry, and oven time would have made this worse. Maybe oven time sealed up with some extra chicken broth.

As for intestinal problems, that was three days ago, and we're all good here!







photo credit: terren in Virginia via photopin cc