sesame zuccumin crackers

Last week at the market (August 1), a palate-savvy young customer asked if I made anything with sesame. Though I do have a pumpkin sesame cracker recipe, it occurred to me that, with pumpkin season a couple months away, I should come up with something a little more summery to go with sesame. This cracker pairs fresh zucchini, onions, and tomatoes with organic flax, sunflower, millet, and sesame, cumin, and brava sea salt from generous fellow market vendor Jane Gregg of Spanish Food Works. I’ve been looking for a cracker to use my beloved Egyptian Walking Onion, which creates small bulblets at the top of the stalk (not underground, like most onions), and this was the one.  In late spring, the plant is glorious and alien (see photo below)– by now, the bulblets have made the plants so top-heavy that their dry brown stalks lay on their side, seeming to nap on hot August Days. 

The resulting cracker is more subtle than the vegan three seed pesto cracker I have been making the past few weeks, meaning that it could be good to eat with a variety of bean or pepper dips.

Ingredients:
organic zucchini (Whisper Hill Farm), organic millet, organic flax seeds, organic raw sunflower seeds, organic sesame seeds, egyptian walking onions, cherry tomatoes, filtered water, organic extra virgin olive oil, brava blend sea salt (Spanish Food Works), lemon juice, organic cumin

paleo zucchini mini muffins

Months ago, I swore to myself I would never again use coconut flour. In fact, I said it out loud, in the presence of others, more than once. Frustrated with weird, unreliable textures characterizing many a baked good I tried to make in the pursuit of nut-free paleo baked goods. If you read sites like Paleo Mom, Against All Grain, or other grain-free food blogs, then you probably know that coconut flour brands matter, as does the quantity and temperature of the eggs. Well, I couldn’t handle all the variables, knowing that coconut flour is very non-local (in fact, much of it comes precisely from the opposite end of the planet) or explaining to people why my muffins had the spongy texture of frittatas, and I back-burnered the challenge to make completely grain-free muffins that were primarily locally grown ingredients. But knowing how much kids love muffins, I set to work again, and think I’ve created the ideal morning treat that’s perfectly sized for little hands! By weight, the proportion of coconut flour to other ingredients is pretty small, and the eggs pack some quality protein, too. Applesauce and dried figs add a subtle sweetness, with no other added sugars.

Ingredients: local pastured eggs (Modesto Farm), zucchini (Little Hat Creek Farm), organic applesauce, organic coconut flour, organic dried currants, organic dried figs, coconut oil, tapioca flour, sea salt, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, fresh ginger, nutmeg

 

mexicali green bean crackers

With the spinach season waning for my local source (Broadhead Mountain Farm) and most other farms in the area, I set to work finding a replacement for tangy three seed spinach crackers, which seemed popular at market these past two Saturdays. What green vegetable could I transform into something crunchy, savory, and snackable? 

Our garden had the answer. Back in mid-March, when no one in their right mind would plant summer crops without some kind of row cover, my husband and his visiting father dutifully heeded my suggestion to go make themselves useful in the yard.  When he told me he planted peas and bush beans, I rolled my eyes? “Beans? Seriously? It’s way too early.” Scoff I did, and those few little seedlings struggled sadly as if to substantiate my skepticism. But now, three months later, they are going gangbusters. And in perfect garden irony, volunteer cilantro thrived temptingly right next to the tomato plants that we still a month from fruiting to salsa satisfaction. Every year, I bemoan the fact that by the time tomatoes are ripe, the cool-loving cilantro has bolted, set seed, and become bitter enough to ruin any attempt at salsa.  So I enjoy it when I can, making cilantro bean dips and salad dressings throughout the spring. Thus, in the garden, the inspiration for this new cracker was born, and I like how thin and crisp they can get if I keep a watchful eye to prevent burning!

I jokingly called this the Seedy Mexican Cracker around the house (it’s like two bad racial jokes in one!), but thankfully one of my farmers market customers offered an alternative that allowed me to re-name version 2.0. By weight, they are mostly fresh green beans and golden flax seeds, but the cumin and cilantro shine through nicely without overpowering. Next time, I might add some sun-dried tomatoes (we still have some from last year’s garden) for some specks of color.

p.s. Props to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for selling a Provider Bush Bean that can survive planting in a wet chilly spring. Here’s to good genetics!

Ingredients: homegrown green beans, organic flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic seedless raisins, extra virgin olive oil, homegrown onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sea salt, organic cumin, organic garlic powder, organic orange extract.

superstar & mighty mint bars

This is the perfect portable “treat” for the kiddos (you don’t have to tell them that there’s little bits of kale inside), or a great chewy re-fuel after a workout. In slightly more than 200 calories, each bar is a good source of protein (10 grams!), iron, Vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, & manganese, a very good source of Vitamin K, and contains about 1,900 mcg of omega-3 fatty acids from four kinds of seeds. Since just enough certified organic raisins and dates are used to hold the bars together, it wouldn’t technically be lying to call this a “chewy raisin bar” for the little ones particularly wary of new foods.  This is nutrient density at it’s best! 

mighty_mint_omega_bar
mighty mint omega bar

Flavors include superstar (vanilla rosemary) and mighty mint (cacao nibs with peppermint)

Ingredients (superstar bar): organic raw sunflower seeds, organic raw pumpkin seeds, organic seedless raisins, organic medjool dates, organic flax seeds, organic chia seeds, raw hemp seeds, local organic kale, sea salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, fresh rosemary

 

Order here.

tangy spinach crackers

Last Monday, I helped the PB&J Fund wrap up the semester’s Chef-in-Training program, working alongside Chef Harrison of Brookville Restaurant.  The challenge to the two teams of middle-schoolers was right up my alley: “Here is what is available from farms locally right now. Make a meal.” Spread on their prep tables were:

  • 3-4 pounds of fresh chicken drumsticks and thighs from Timbercreek Organics
  • a quart of fresh strawberries
  • a big bag of fresh Red Russian kale (baby leaves)
  • asparagus
  • a gigantic bunch of fresh tarragon

I was shocked at how quickly the two teams plunged in and rolled up their sleeves, leaving Chef Harrison, the PB&J staff, and myself to mill around for a while, making observational comments (kinda lame ones, in my case) and offering minimal suggestions as a sous chef and dishwasher. I won’t bore you with the menu details, but they definitely deserve some kudos for creativity and speed!

 

As I walked home with a little of the leftover tarragon in my pocket, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with it, excited by a little kitchen challenge of my own. Somehow, I had gotten through life thus far never growing or cooking with tarragon, and I was a little at a loss for what to combine it with. So… (insert “doodily-oop doodily-oop doodily oop” fast forward time warp a la Wayne’s World here), I researched online and played around with a test batch of crackers, adding some curry, anise, and a little sweetness from currants to my standard base of sunflower seeds, flax, and spinach. I really like the result, and might be experimenting more with tarragon!

Each bag contains two servings of 1.5 by 1.5 inch crackers, which are a good source of Vitamin K, Manganese, and Magnesium, with only have 2 grams of sugars (from the raisins) per serving.

Ingredients:
organic golden flax, organic millet, local organic spinach, organic pumpkin seeds, filtered water, organic raisins, organic extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, sea salt, locally grown tarragon (Planet Earth Diversified), organic curry, organic anise seed

 

Mint Mayhem

Minty Superfood Saucers with Kale (Beta)

We have a small bed in our garden that gets full sun, drains very quickly, and has come to be known as the “death bed.” This is partly an homage to Patton Oswalt* as well as an admission that every time we’ve attempted to plant even heat-loving vegetables there (sweet peppers, eggplant, and basil), each are met with a stunted, slowly dessicating demise.  So when I came into a chocolate mint plant at a Master Gardener sale a couple years ago, I knew exactly where to put it.  I discovered chocolate mint about 15 years ago, on the organic farm where my husband and I both once worked (when we had spry knees, hideous tan lines, and could be bribed into long hot hours of heirloom tomato transplanting with cans of Natty Boh). There, it sprawled vigorously along the outside walls of the greenhouse, out-competing other weeds. Sometimes, at the end of a hot day, I’d grab a sprig and rub the crushed leaves on my neck so that I could hide from my own stench for a while. It made a refreshing, richer-than-peppermint sun tea, too, which I guess is what I should have been drinking more of instead of Natty Boh. In any case, no one who has ever tried to grow a little mint will be surprised when I say our little chocolate mint turned the death bed into a vibrant purplish-stemmed jungle of fragrance, even creeping several feet out into the lawn. Even I can’t drink this much tea.

Thus, my inspiration for a Minty Kale Superfood Saucers was born. I had debuted the saucer at City Market this past Saturday, but wanted to experiment with new flavor that didn’t come out of a bottle, or resort to adding cacao nibs. Who wants to risk a potentially napless afternoon with an energetic toddler simply for a snack that had even a tiny bit of caffeine? Caffeine can be mommy’s little helper, sure; but only when it’s in HER hands.

If you haven’t heard my empty calorie rant, or my frustrations with “energy bars,” then I will only say briefly here that these saucers, like all my experiments, are designed to have a significant amount of vegetables (organic kale from Brightwood Vineyard & Farm) and lots of healthy essential fats from whole food ingredients. No isolates, syrups, sweeteners, unpronounceable preservatives, gluten, nuts, or dairy.

After getting some feedback from vegans on Saturday, I made a few changes in this beta recipe (Mint Modification V1.0), that allowed to me make a completely raw, vegan version. That means the texture is slightly different, with the sunflower seeds, chia, and flax more thoroughly puréed. Nevertheless, I am always looking for ways to improve size, texture, shape, and other attributes in order to make things most appealing to kids. Who cares how many vitamins are in something if it never gets to their mouth?

Ingredients: organic raw sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic unsulfured apricots, organic medjool dates, organic flax seeds, local organic kale, organic chia seeds, organic virgin coconut oil, chocolate mint, sea salt, organic vanilla extract

By now I understand why most energy bars are in opaque packaging. They are ugly, and I lack the food-porn photoshopping skills or hipster craftiness to make them look sexy with a little jute twine and parchment paper. Little help, anybody?

Until I find the magic packaging solution for these, each bag has four saucers, which are about 100 calories a piece and packed with vitamins and healthy fats from seeds. Order here for pick up at ACAC downtown on the mornings of Tuesday June 2nd or Thursday 4th. Add a comment if neither of those times work for you and you want to arrange another meet-up.

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*If you have read this far and are afraid to raise your hand and ask what the heck Patton Oswalt has to do with gardening, well, he doesn’t. But please watch his “Death Bed” stand-up sketch after the kids have gone to bed. There are rather superfluous F-bombs.

Millet & Fig Crackers with Rosemary

These crackers were inspired by the Millet Crackers featured in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food (page 509). As I gushed in my recent book review, I adore the book’s simple, practical language, and brief, to-the-point recipes. Of course, this recipe absolutely fails to uphold the simplicity principle, as her recipe instructions are a mere three and a half lines while mine are at least, um, well, just see for yourself. Crackers are a fickle art; what can I say? In any case, I found this to be a successful experiment in adding essential fatty acids, protein, salt, and sweet without crystalline or liquid sweeteners, nuts, or gluten. A groggy post-nap Fionn gobbled several after sneaking them from the still-warm cookie sheet on top of the oven. Enjoy (and thanks, Ruth)!

Millet & Fig Crackers with Rosemary
Serves 16
A crunchy, sweet, nutty cracker with pepitas, figs, and rosemary.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
92 calories
12 g
8 g
4 g
2 g
2 g
29 g
76 g
1 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
29g
Servings
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 92
Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
6%
Saturated Fat 2g
10%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 8mg
3%
Sodium 76mg
3%
Total Carbohydrates 12g
4%
Dietary Fiber 2g
8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
1%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup raw millet
  2. 3/4 cup pepitas
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup hot water
  5. 4 dried figs
  6. 4 tablespoons butter
  7. 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
Instructions
  1. Remove any stem pieces from dried figs and cut each in half. Place the halves in a glass or metal measuring cup and add 1/2 cup hot water. Add the butter so it can melt. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Grind millet and pepitas in a blender (I use a Nutribullet) until a coarse powder consistency. Place this powder in a medium bowl and add the salt. Then crush the dried rosemary with your hands as you add it to the bowl, stirring everything until thoroughly combined.
  3. Blend the fig/water/butter mixture in a blender until the figs are pretty well blended (some small chunks are okay, but nothing larger than a pea).
  4. Combine the fig slurry with the dry ingredients, stirring thoroughly until the dough is a thick and just a little sticky. With oiled hands, roll into a two equally-sized firm balls, then flatten them to about 1 inch thick.
  5. Put them them back in the bowl, cover with a cloth, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  6. Roll out a large sheet of parchment paper (at least 2 feet long) and place one of the dough balls in the center. Fold the parchment over the ball and then continue to roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick. Trim off jagged edges and score the rolled dough into 1 by 2 inch rectangles. Delicately move this sheet over to a cookie sheet.
  7. Add the trimmed dough to the second ball and repeat step 7. For any additional jagged edges, you can flatten then into cracker pieces with your hands or roll them into balls and let your kiddo taste-test them.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the crackers out of the oven and spread them out on the sheet, flipping each over to make sure they cook evenly. Turn off the oven and put the cookie sheets back in the oven, setting a timer for 5 minutes. Check them at this point, removing all the crackers except those that still seem too soft in the middle, putting them back in the warm oven for up to 5 additional minutes.
  9. Let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. This recipe will yield about 80 1 by 2 inch crackers. I estimate a toddler serving to be about 5 crackers.
beta
calories
92
fat
4g
protein
2g
carbs
12g
more
Adapted from Millet Crackers from Super Baby Food (p. 509)
https://goodphytefoods.com/

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins

With spring “officially” arriving tomorrow, I wanted to give winter squash one last hurrah. Pumpkin is truly the main ingredient in these whole wheat, honey-sweetened spice muffins. They are not gluten-free or paleo (sorry, diet dogma police!), but have that perfect chewy-fluffy muffin texture that is sure to please. While I haven’t tried alternative flours with this exact recipe, I think some combination of oat, quinoa, and a little bit of coconut flour might yield good results (let me know if you try!).  The shredded coconut and curry add a slightly more sophisticated flavor without being “weird” for the pickier ones in your household…

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Serves 24
Pumpkin is truly the main ingredient in these whole wheat, honey-sweetened spice muffins.They are not gluten-free or paleo, but have that perfect chewy-fluffy muffin texture that is sure to please. The coconut and curry add a slightly more sophisticated flavor without being “weird” for the pickier ones in your household!
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204 calories
34 g
31 g
7 g
4 g
2 g
82 g
273 g
15 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
82g
Servings
24
Amount Per Serving
Calories 204
Calories from Fat 57
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
10%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 31mg
10%
Sodium 273mg
11%
Total Carbohydrates 34g
11%
Dietary Fiber 2g
10%
Sugars 15g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
80%
Vitamin C
2%
Calcium
3%
Iron
14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash purée (20 ounces of canned pumpkin)
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons molasses
  5. 3/4 cup honey
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  8. 1 cup dried currants or raisins
  9. 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  10. 1 cup wheat germ (or 1/2 cup wheat germ 1/2 cup ground flax seed)
  11. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  13. 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  14. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  15. 1 teaspoon curry powder
  16. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  17. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or insert muffin liners into regular (12) or mini (24) muffin tins. I like to do one large loaf and use the rest of the batter for muffins, some of which we can eat fresh after I bag a dozen for the freezer.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add the pumpkin purée, eggs, oil, and honey, mixing until well blended. Once blended, add the currants and coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, curry, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and stir just until blended. Some lumps are okay.
  4. Scoop into the prepared pans and/or muffin tins. For muffins fill each to almost full in order to get a nice, full result complete with “muffin top.”
  5. Bake the large loaf for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Mini muffins take between 20-25 minutes. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
Notes
  1. I like to divide this recipe by making about 36 mini muffins and one loaf (you know, for the grown-ups). If you used all the batter for muffins, you'd end up with about 48 mini-muffins-- plenty to freeze and to share! I assume that one serving for kids is two mini-muffins.
Adapted from Simply in Season
beta
calories
204
fat
7g
protein
4g
carbs
34g
more
Adapted from Simply in Season
https://goodphytefoods.com/