Saturday, August 23, 2014

Grain Free Hoppin' John

I actually eat this stuff for breakfast.  The inspiration came from a few sources actually.  The first was my mother who suggested that I start thinking outside the box in terms of breakfast food.  Restrictions on eggs, grains, and dairy left me with few good, quick options in the morning.  This has bacon in it so it totally counts as breakfast.  The second inspiration came from my sort-of southern roots.  I've known about Hoppin' John since I was a kid.  I loved the American Girls series and my parents had gotten me some of the cookbooks for Christmas.  Traditionally it's made with rice, but since that wasn't an option, I decided to add more beans.... plus some veggies and spices.  After living in Virginia for 4 years and then going on an allergen friendly diet, I was actually craving some good old Southern cooking.  Unfortunately in the South, everything gets breaded, fried, dipped in cream, and smothered in butter.  While all of these things make Southern cooking the wonderful cuisine that it is, they are not on the approved allergy list.  That made Hoppin' John, a good option for a blog post.  Just a side note, I'm presently attempting to think up a recipe for fried chicken with Kamut flour and no dairy.  I'll let you know how that works out.  Until then, enjoy some grain-free Hoppin John for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or all three.  This dish is both easy to make and budget friendly so you can eat a lot of it and feel great about it because it's good for your body, and your pocketbook.

 Traditionally, Hoppin' John is made with rice.  If you would like to add rice feel free.  Just substitute any amount of beans for an equal amount of rice.  I also use pickled jalapeño.  It adds a great flavor to the dish, and it tends to be a little milder than fresh jalapeño.  It also keeps for long periods of time (we aren't big jalepeno eaters here).  However, I have used fresh jalapeño in a pinch and it came out great.

Grain Free Hoppin' John
3 slices bacon
1 clove garlic
1 green pepper
1/2 cup onion
1 Tablespoon pickled jalapeño (or fresh)
3 cups black eyed peas (2 cans)
1 cup black beans (1 can)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste 
  1. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon until it is crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, pepper, jalapeño, oregany, thyme, salt, and maple syrup to the pan and sauté until tender.  I just use the bacon grease to sauté the veggies.  It really enhances the flavor of the whole dish.  However, if you are looking for a leaner option, you can just use a little olive oil. 
  3. Drain off the extra grease.
  4. Add the beans, and heat through.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School Special: Chocolate Almond Power Smoothie

This week marks the start of the 2014-2015 school year for the students here in Salt Lake.  It is also the week that I return to work after a summer that was way too short.  I can't believe it's already time to go back.  There were so many things I still wanted to do, most of which involved cleaning, sewing, and going to the zoo.  Oh well, perhaps next summer I will get more done.... maybe.... probably not sewing.... and who am I kidding, I'm not going to clean either.  Anyhow, this post is a Chocolate Almond Power Smoothie.  It's loaded with protein, omega-3's, and essential fatty acids that will jump start your brain and give your body energy so that you can focus on learning.... and recess.  It's also super quick and easy to make, which makes it the perfect before-school breakfast that your kids will love.  I used my dad's vita mix to make this one and it turned out amazing!  I must get one as soon as I have funding to buy a $300 blender.  Fortunately any blender or food processor will work in the mean time.
Chocolate Almond Power Smoothie
1/3 cup almonds (soaked)
1/2 of a banana (frozen)
1/2 of an avocado
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
2 teaspoons hemp seeds
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/2 cup almond milk
Fresh fruit, granola, whipped cream (optional)
  1. Soak the almonds in water for 4-8 hours or overnight. 
  2. Drain the almonds and place them in a blender or food processor.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  4. Serve with fresh fruit, granola, or whipped cream if desired.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Millet and Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge

When I found out that my daughter was allergic to basically every grain except for kamut, millet, teff, and amaranth, I was at a complete loss as to what I was going to do.  Grains make so many wonderful things, especially things that are easy to grab for a quick snack such as cereal, crackers or granola.  I had no idea what to do with ANY of these grains.  It's not like they make crackers made out of only teff or only kamut (although they really should).  After doing some research on kamut, it quickly became my grain of choice.  As a form of wheat, I could pretty much sub it in place of any recipe that called for wheat and have it come out ok.  Unfortunately it's a little dry, but it's organic and non-gmo so I really can't complain too much since gluten free cooking can be a bit more problematic.  That still didn't solve the problem of what to do with the other grains, however. Teff is good but incredibly dense, and I didn't care much for the amaranth.

When a colleague suggested that I use millet as a replacement for rice, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.  One of the things I had been craving like crazy was my grandmother's rice pudding.  It was actually more of a custard than a pudding; creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, goodness.  Sadly, the three main ingredients were milk, eggs, and rice, all of which were forbidden foods.  I decided I'd try to make it anyway without the three main ingredients using millet instead of rice.  The end result (this recipe) was nothing like my grandmother's pudding, but it is still very tasty and has become one of my favorite breakfast foods.  I like to make a big batch of it so that I can eat it for a few days.  It's easy to fix and keeps fairly decent in the fridge, although you will need to add a little extra milk to it as millet also tends to dry out a bit.  Millet is also incredibly cheap which is also a plus. 
In addition to being a good replacement for rice, the cooking process is also similar.  The only difference is that millet comes out better when toasted first.

I think that soy milk gives this recipe the best flavor, but I have used other milks in a pinch and it tastes just fine.

Add some puréed banana (Believe me you don't want to skip this part... unless of course your are allergic to bananas).

Millet and Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge
1cup millet
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/3 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk of choice)
1 Tablespoon Chia seeds
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup raisins
1 banana
  1. In a saucepan, toast the millet over medium-high heat until it begins to turn golden and smell fragrant stirring frequently.  It will burn quickly so keep a close watch on it.
  2. Add the water and a drop of oil (optional) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Try to resist the urge to remove the lid as the millet will come out better if it is left covered.  Millet tends to be a bit crunchy so cook it longer if you want it a little softer.  Just don't overcook it or it will turn into mush.
  3. While the millet is cooking, heat 1 cup of the soy milk and the chia seeds over medium-high heat stirring continuously until it reaches a low boil.  Do not heat too hot or it will boil over.
  4. Add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and raisins to the soy milk mixture.  Set aside.
  5. In a blender or food processor puree the banana and the remaining 1/3 cup of soy milk.
  6. Add the banana mixture to the soy milk mixture and stir well.
  7. Add the soy milk mixture to the millet and mix thoroughly.  If the porridge seems dry add a little extra milk until it reaches your desired consistency.
  8. Top with fresh fruit if desired.