Archive for July, 2012

Gluten-free Honey MELT® Banana Bread

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I decided to take a stab at converting my all-time favorite banana bread recipe into a grain/gluten-free version using organic coconut flour and Honey Melt, and made with ONE-THIRD of the added sugar. This banana bread recipe came out yummy, moist, almost gooey. Warm organic whole cream would be sublime over a slice of this bread!

Have you ever heard of the health benefits of coconut flour? Have you ever tried baking with it?

Nourished Kitchen describes the unique challenges of baking with coconut flour, which I have summarized below with my own adaptations for this recipe. Baking with coconut flour requires certain techniques before it will yield good results because it does not perform the same as grain-based flours. It is well worth the trial and error, however, as coconut flour is a very nutritious alternative to wheat flour.

What is Coconut Flour and How is it Used for Baking?

Coconut flour is a soft flour produced from dried coconut meat as a natural byproduct of coconut milk production. I purchase Coconut Secret Organic Coconut Flour.

When coconut milk is pressed from coconut meat, bits of solid coconut meat are leftover that are then dried at low temperature and ground until producing a soft, fine powder suitable for baking.  Popular among those adhering to grain-restrictive diets such as paleo diets, the GAPS or SCD diet or any grain-free diet, coconut flour offers a gluten-free and protein-rich alternative to traditional grain-based flours.

Benefits of Baking with Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is rich in protein, fiber and fat which makes it very filling. Coconut flour is also a good source of lauric acid, a saturated fat thought to support the immune system and the thyroid. Like most healthy fats, lauric acid also promotes skin health.

Coconut flour is an exceptionally good source of manganese which helps you to better utilize many nutrients including choline and biotin (found in eggs), vitamin C and thiamin. Manganese also supports bone health, nervous system function, thyroid health and helps to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.

Tips for Baking with Coconut Flour

If you are frying or sautéing and need to dredge meats or vegetables, you can use coconut flour in an amount that is equivalent to wheat flour. In baking, you cannot substitute coconut flour for wheat or other grain-based flours at a 1:1 ratio as they are not equivalent.

Coconut flour is highly absorbent so very little coconut flour is needed to successfully produce a recipe. In baked goods, you generally want to substitute 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup coconut flour per 1 cup of grain-based flour.

Coconut flour is dense and can also be dry. You will also need to increase the number of eggs. As a rule of thumb, for every cup of coconut flour you use, you will need to use four to six beaten eggs in your recipe plus approximately one cup of liquid.  You can also add cooked, pureed or mashed fruits or vegetables to your baked goods to increase the moisture.

Coconut flour is clumpy so it must be thoroughly sifted with the other dry ingredients in your recipe.

GLUTEN-FREE HONEY MELT BANANA BREAD

Ingredients

1 square Honey MELT Organic, melted

¾ c. sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

2½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

Grated orange rind

 

1 c. organic coconut flour

¾ c. tapioca starch flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp nutmeg

2 tsp cinnamon

 

2 c. mashed overripe bananas in…

1 c. strong, black coffee

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a hand mixer, beat Honey MELT and sugar together in a large bowl, adding each egg one at a time until thoroughly blended. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and grated orange rind last and beat until light-ish in color.

In a separate mixing bowl, sift together – TWICE – the coconut flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Add flour mixture and banana-coffee mash alternately to the Honey MELT mixture, beginning and ending with flour (flour – banana – flour – banana – flour). After each addition mix gently to combine, but do not beat or over mix as this will toughen and dry out the bread.

Generously butter two loaf pans with Rich & Creamy MELT Organic. Divide batter and bake for 55 – 60 minutes. Use a butter knife to check the center of the loaves prior to removing from the oven.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan then remove to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Honey Melt® Organic Blueberry Smoothie

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

When we say Rich & Creamy Melt and Honey Melt are made with our Perfect Blend of organic plant- and fruit-based oils, we mean it: this recipe provides you with almost 1000mg of Omega 3s and a healthy dose of medium chain fatty acids in a delicious smoothie that is just right for breakfast. For everyone who is health-conscious like me, this delicious smoothie can also provide a dose of raw greens that your body is craving. All of your Good Fats plus your raw greens in one mouth-watering smoothie? It’s a match made in heaven that your body will love. This Honey Melt smoothie will keep you going all morning long.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp Honey Melt Organic, softened
1 cup plain organic whole yogurt or kefir
½ cup frozen organic blueberries (if you use fresh, add ice)

For You Health Geeks Out There, You Can Also Add:
1 handful chopped organic parsley
1 handful chopped organic cilantro
1 tsp raw chlorella powder
(These additions will need drops of liquid stevia to taste.)

Making the Honey Melt Blueberry Smoothie:
• Puree the yogurt/kefir and blueberries together in a food blender. Add a little water if necessary.
• Pour the Honey Melt into the puree while the blender is running.
• Add liquid stevia drops to taste; without the greens, I personally don’t need any.


• OPTIONAL: make this a Super Green Honey Melt Blueberry Smoothie by adding parsley, cilantro, and chlorella powder to the puree. This step will likely require adding drops of liquid stevia to taste.

NOTE: The parsley, cilantro, and chlorella powder are best taken together because of how they nutritionally support each other: the chlorella powder and cilantro work best eaten together for gently, but effectively, detoxing heavy metals from the body. The parsley supports the kidneys for eliminating the toxin load. It’s a bit of an intense taste for the uninitiated, but once you get used to it, you will notice that you crave it.

Enjoy!

Grilling Perfect Salmon with Honey Melt®

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I am originally from Seattle, Washington, home to some of the best seafood in the country. Wild salmon is my favorite fish of all – the most flavorful, salmon is a local food with a long cultural tradition that is an integral part of the Pacific Northwest at the most basic ecologic level.

Fatty, full of vitamins and omega-3s, I love eating wild salmon in almost any form: grilled, smoked, pan-seared, sushi, and sashimi. Nutritious, delectable, and easy to cook, and yet there are so many ways salmon can go wrong. Farmed salmon are best avoided for many reasons. Overcooked salmon looms large as a chewy, dry reminder of what it could have been. Breaks my salmon-loving heart.

There are no salmon-haters, only those who have never experienced correctly prepared salmon: fresh, flaky, flavorful, moist.

The secret lies in selecting the right salmon and serving it slightly underdone.

Selecting Salmon

Only exceptionally fresh WILD salmon should be eaten (e.g., within 24-48 hours of being caught). If it has a fishy odor, the salmon is no longer fresh and will have an off-taste. Fresh salmon has NO smell. Ask when it was caught; confirm they received the whole fish, and not pre-filleted, so you know are buying freshly filleted salmon. If you cannot trust your local store to properly handle salmon in the meat case, buy it the same day they receive and fillet the fish. It should look firm and bright, not dull. If in doubt ask to smell it first – your nose will tell the entire story.

Choose belly fillets (with the thickest flesh) instead of the tails. Belly fillets have more fat and the thickness gives the fish better consistency. King (a.k.a. Chinook) is the fattiest and finest of all, and my personal favorite.

Once in a while the butcher will open up a king salmon and discover it’s a “white” king – this is an exquisite treat. The flesh is cream-colored instead of pale pink and has a higher fat content giving it an incredible flavor. (I was told once the difference in the flesh color is due to a slightly different diet from the others.)

Look for nice, pronounced fat lines.

Fresh is better than frozen. Fresh has better consistency. Frozen is okay if you can’t get fresh.

Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington have more sustainable salmon fisheries than other locations.

GRILLED SALMON WITH HONEY MELT

Ingredients

2 tbsp Honey Melt® Organic Spread
Healthy pinch of sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Juice from ½ juicy lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 scallion, finely sliced, including the green
1 salmon fillet (2/3 lbs, or two servings), preferably belly

How to Cook (NOT Overcook) Salmon

I am a purist about my salmon and believe that less is more. A truly fresh, quality piece of wild king doesn’t need to be dressed up with intense sauces. It can and should stand on its own with careful enhancement.

1. Make a pan out of aluminum foil by doubling up layers of foil large enough to hold your fillet. Place the foil onto a cookie sheet. Lay the fillet onto the foil with the skin side down.

2. It will be easier to thoroughly cover your salmon with Honey Melt if it’s a little soft. Once your Honey Melt has softened slightly, generously coat your salmon filet with Honey Melt.

3. Take a generous pinch of salt and sprinkle the flesh side of the fish. Follow up with some fresh ground pepper to taste (but not too much).

4. Squeeze the juice from 2 lemon quarters into a small bowl. If you are using a “dry” lemon, then juice the all of the lemon into your bowl.

5. Crush the garlic into the lemon juice and swirl around a little bit so the garlic flavors mix nicely with the lemon juice.

6. Pour your garlic-lemon juice over the salmon, making sure the lemon juice and Honey Melt are contained in the foil.

7. Pour the finely sliced scallion over the salmon and snugly around the sides.

8. Depending on your mood, you have two options: resting on a cookie sheet, either carefully fold the aluminum foil on itself so it creates a sort of “salmon calzone” (for a slightly poached effect) – the slides are not sealed, but folded up to contain the ingredients, and the top foil is folded tightly over itself. Or, you can leave the foil open but shaped enough up to keep all of the ingredients contained. Allow this to marinate for 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, preheat your grill on “high” while your salmon marinates.

9. When the salmon and grill are ready, carry your salmon to the grill on a cookie sheet and slide the foil off of the cookie sheet and onto the grill. Cover with the lid, turn the grill down to medium-low heat, and grill the fillet for ~7 minutes per 1 inch of thickness. My salmon was about 0.5 lbs, 1.5 inches thick and 8 minutes was perfect.

10. Here’s how to tell when your salmon is done:

• The top is slightly brown and/or tiny bits sticking up get a little charred (with foil open).

• A little whiteness appears at the sides from the fat.• A wooden spoon pressed on top gives back a little resistance but not too much.

• MOST IMPORTANTLY: gently cut into the thickest part with a butter knife.  You should have some translucent, raw-looking fish. Don’t be afraid of the darker pink! This fish is easily parted with a butter knife.  If it was truly raw, then the flesh would not be able to separate and would need another moment on the grill. Otherwise, do NOT cook the salmon any longer! The fish is most moist and delicious when you leave this translucent area as is.

Photo evidence: This salmon is perfectly done! I chose to have a slightly poached effect with the foil on top folded over itself; it smells amazing and is delicate and delicious to eat.

Serve salmon simply with a summer salad or side of steamed vegetables (I made a simple summer salad out of mango, avocado, and watermelon). The skin of the salmon is delicious and nutritious – you can lightly sear the salmon skin in a pan after gently removing any leftover grey flesh. The skin burns easily so you want to fry it on medium-low heat and only long enough to get a golden crispness to the bottom, which will be for only a moment or two.

Enjoy!

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