Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Not the best pictures. It was an early morning experiment!
I was looking for pancake muffin recipes and came across a two ingredient "pancake" recipe. After making them, I've decided to call mine "bancakes."

I happen to love bananas. I think if I had to pick a favorite food it would be bananas. I put them in my green smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, eat them with peanut butter and on top of yogurt and ice cream. But I've found that not everyone shares my love for bananas. If you don't like bananas, this isn't your recipe. But if you love them like I do, you'll dig these. They're actually more like a crepe than a pancake. There's no fluffiness. It's more like sponginess. They come out pretty thin and cook up quickly. I added a teaspoon of pumpkin spice to the mixture because it's my favorite spice. It worked really well. You can add any spice you fancy and top with syrup, fruit or even chocolate chips! I think if you were to blend it finer than I did, you could get them super thin and roll them like crepes.

You'll find quite a few of these pancakes on Pinterest (some with much better pictures than mine!). And once you're there, you'll likely get inspired to make other variations like this one. I'll be trying it tomorrow! So if you like/love bananas, you should give this a try. I ate mine plain, I didn't even use a fork. But like I said, these can be dressed up any way you like.

Adapted from here.
Made three cakes

1 Banana, ripe and mashed
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice

Combine banana and eggs. Add spice and mix until well blended. Spray a pan with cooking spray (I used coconut oil) and heat to medium. Pour batter in pan as you would pancakes and cook for about a minute per side.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Energy Scoops, Balls, Handfuls or whatever you want to call them!

These things are fantastic. Really. My sons and I did a happy dance the first time we ate one. This recipe comes from Eating Rules, a blog that I frequent. I've been participating in the October Unprocessed 2013 over there. It's been challenging. I thought I ate mostly unprocessed but I quickly realized that I do rely on a decent amount of food that is considered processed. Not "highly processed" but not "unprocessed." So the month hasn't been perfect but I'm learning new stuff like how easy it is to make my own almond milk. I'll be doing that ASAP. If you want to learn about how Eating Rules defines unprocessed, click here. They have a guide you can download as well.

Okay, back to the yummy mounds of goodness. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of leaving mine in the shape of the scoop I used. This recipe is versatile. You can use any nut or seed butter, you can leave out the chocolate chips (I wouldn't!) and make them any size. They kind of taste like oatmeal cookie dough to me. I encourage everyone to make these. They're easy, affordable and make a great potluck or party item. I've also started to put them in my son's lunch on Fridays as a special treat.

Energy Balls
Original recipe here.

1 cup rolled oats
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup peanut or almond butter
½ cup chocolate chips
8 medjool dates (pitted)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

1. Place all ingredients in food processor.
2. Mix thoroughly. Mixture will look crumbly.
3. Scoop or roll into balls.
4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Homemade Almond Butter

My almond butter!
Almond butter is great but it sure is expensive. So is anything outside of peanut butter for that matter. I've also found there is a big difference in price between non-organic and organic versions of almond butter. Because I use so much of it, some would say I should be using the organic but it's just not in the budget.

The MaraNatha brand is the most economical I've seen. But again, the price varies widely within this brand depending if it's organic, all natural, raw, organic raw, no stir, etc. I don't frequent Costco much but they do have the best price for the MaraNatha All Natural Almond Butter. It's a large jar, 26 oz., I think. It's approx. $11. I've seen 12-16oz. jars of other brands from $7 to $18 depending on the variety.

I've always heard making your own almond butter or any other nut or seed butter is easy and possibly cheaper. Almonds can be pricey so it may or may not be cheaper if you compare ounce for ounce but making something yourself is rewarding in my opinion so that's gotta worth something, right? I hadn't planned on making my own almond butter any time soon but the place I buy it from was out and only had really expensive alternatives. I decided to just go without. I'll get some next week. Well next week came and they were still out! What the heck? After getting home, I found a half bag of almonds in the cabinet. The husband said they were stale. They were a little stale I guess but not bad. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making almond butter. I researched recipes and methods. I settled on just winging it. I knew the almonds were unsalted and unroasted so I started with roasting them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. I watched them carefully because they can burn quickly. I then let them cool. Once cooled (mostly), I put them in a food processor and started processing! After the almonds started to become creamy, I added sea salt. I'd add a little, blend then taste. And continued until it tasted good to me. I then scooped it into a mason jar and, boom, I had almond butter!

I can get a 16 oz. bag of raw almonds (not organic) for under $5. I can't get a jar of almond butter for that. My first batch was not a full bag and only filled the 8 oz. jar half way (pictured). I have since made a full bag and it filled the entire jar. It is thick and yummy. It's better than any almond butter I've had from the store. My almond butter is simply roasted almonds and salt - consistent with what you'll find on the shelf (minus the love, haha). Although, some brands do add sugar and oil so if you don't want those things, make sure to take a look at the ingredients before purchasing. My next adventure in "butter" making will be sunflower seed butter. I'll use the same process and see what happens.

PS: It's my brother's birthday. I love my big bro very much and hope he is having a wonderful day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

All things pumpkin

Tiger pumpkins are cool.
Pumpkin pops up everywhere this time of year. I happen to make and eat pumpkin (pie spiced) all year around but I love seeing it in abundance this time of year. Everything from yogurt to air freshener. I've seen a lot of things already this season that I haven't seen before like Thomas' Pumpkin Spice English Muffins. Sounds good, hu? It sounded so good to me that I had to pick up the package to read the ingredients just in case by the off chance the ingredients were good enough to eat. Well no surprise, they weren't and there was even Caramel Color, Yellow 5 Lake and Yellow 6 Lake. Gotta make it look like pumpkin without using much real pumpkin, right? That's okay because this product is another example of why I started my blog. Learning what products to skip and why is important. It can feel confusing or maybe even daunting for some but it's like anything else you learn to do - if you keep at it, it gets easier. I used to stare at ingredient lists for quite a while at first. I would often use my phone to look up ingredients I couldn't identify. Sometimes I'd leave the store with a headache and nothing in my cart but sometimes I'd come out with most of what I needed and feeling good about it even if there were a few words that weren't all that straightforward. For example Niacinamide (it's actually Vitamin B3), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6) and Soy Lecithin (an emulsifier often made from cheap GMO soybeans).

So because all things are not created equal, there's a lot of pumpkin food and food like items you'll need to take an extra moment to assess. As usual, because I shop at Trader Joe's often (we have a love/hate relationship), I have run into the most items there. I think they have more pumpkin things this year than ever before. So far I have seen pumpkin waffles, pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread mix, pumpkin bar mix, pumpkin croissants, pumpkin macaroons, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin granola, pumpkin cereal bars, pumpkin (and cranberry) scones, pumpkin pie, mini pumpkin pies and pumpkin cream cheese. I know there's gotta be a few more. Also, did I need to write pumpkin before every single item? Oh well, I did. Anyway, Target is where I saw the Thomas' English Muffins, Yoplait pumpkin something yogurt and Eggo Pumpkin Spice Waffles. Since I did purchase the pumpkin waffles at Trader Joe's ($1.99 for 8), I thought I'd compare them to the Eggo brand. This is a great example because it's one of the tougher comparisons. Here's why:

Kellogg's Eggo Seasons Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Waffles Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Oil (Soybean And Palm Oil), Sugar, Eggs, Contains 2% Or Less of Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Molasses, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Pumpkin, Maltodextrin, Whey, Allspice, Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Lecithin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Vitamin B12, Citric Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). Contains Wheat, Egg, Milk And Soy Ingredients.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Waffles Ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid), Whey (Milk), Pumpkin, Canola Oil, Water, Contains 2% or Less of: Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Soy Lecithin, Eggs, Organic Cane Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Spice, Sea Salt, Beta Carotene (Color), Wheat Flour, Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Vitamin B12, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Folic Acid.

They both have five main ingredients. And they both have 17 (I grouped the spices as one for Eggo) "less than 2%" ingredients. I'd say that is darn close. And the difference may be negligent enough for some folks. My choice though would remain with TJ's version. The things that stick out to me are pumpkin vs. dried pumpkin, wheat flour vs. yellow corn flour and canola oil vs. vegetable oil. Concerning the oil, I don't use canola oil or vegetable oil when cooking or baking but canola oil ranks a smidge higher than vegetable oil with the masses. Another reason I would pick TJ's is they say they source non-GMO ingredients for all their private label foods. This is especially important, to me at least, because soy and corn are major sources of GMO and in just about every processed food. And Kellogg's is in the business of making highly processed foods so... if I'm going to buy boxes and bags for my family on a regular basis, I'm going to choose the ones that are less likely to contain the cheapest ingredients.

Although it can be hard and also a challenge to resist pumpkin temptation (did someone say pumpkin bread pudding?), take a few extra minutes to read product labels before buying. It may sound awesome, unique and crazy good and you may think "it's once a year, what's the big deal?" but still read the labels and see if there is a better version out there. And for my family, my boys are big eaters and if they like something, they want it again and again and again. I feel better giving them something I took the time to research "again and again and again" than introducing them to a crummy product and having to perform an intervention later.

A note about the blog: Summer was crazy and so was I, which got in the way of the migration of the site. My tech guy (aka my husband) and I have created a new timeline and will update as necessary. If you were a reader before my hiatus and stuck around, thank you and I appreciate you very much!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm moving... Soon!

Hello family and friends of Medium Food Mama. It's been quiet around here, hasn't it? I have been working on posts and having fun researching new foods to chat about here on the blog while juggling some changes. One of those changes will be a move to a WordPress site and a proper domain - The migration has not started yet but I will update once it does. I am looking forward to a fresh start on the new site (all old posts will move with me) and I have lots of posts in progress. I'll be writing as much as possible while the site is created/migrated and stick them in the queue, which will translate into more posts more often, cool, right?

I may post a few more times here as I do have some posts ready but it depends on how long the switch will take. So keep hanging on, please. I've got some good info on granola bars, frozen waffles and easy homemade jam, just to name a few.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Overnight Oats

I may be a little late to the overnight oats (in a jar) party but I'm so happy that I discovered this super easy and nutritious breakfast or any time snack.

It's funny, for the last six months or so, I've been saving glass jars. Any and all jars - fruit spread, salad dressing, pasta sauce, applesauce and spice jars. I decided to start saving them for storing food in, using in future craft projects, to make my own vanilla extract and for drinking out of or serving cute desserts in. So when I rediscovered this recipe I saved a while back, I was equipped!

Honestly, I wasn't sure if I was going to dig it. Maybe that's why it took me so long to get back to it. Well, I did like it and find myself thinking about all the different combinations I can try. My husband loved it, too. He's already suggested a peach combo once they're in season. Sounds awesome to me! My first time making overnight oats, I used banana and blueberries. The second time (pictured above), I used bananas and mixed berries. Both were great. The mixed berries I used are the organic frozen mixed berries from Trader Joe's. Makes using berries more affordable.

One of my goals this year is to use new ingredients. This recipe provided the perfect opportunity - chia seeds. I've had chia seeds in a drink I bought and I liked it but hadn't added them to anything myself. They're sorta plain, maybe a little nutty in flavor. They can also be expensive. The best price I've seen is at Trader Joe's. $4.99 for a 5.3 ounce bag. I feel like I'm always saying Trader Joe's but it seems they almost always offer the best price. I still can't find coconut oil cheaper anywhere even when ordering bulk. Chia seeds provide fiber (5 grams per tablespoon) and omega-3 fat. Flaxseed or hempseed would also work well in overnight oats and provide healthy benefits as well. Now that I think about it, I'm gonna add hempseed to my list of new things to try since I haven't tried it yet.

Now for the recipe. Give it a try. The combinations are endless.

Overnight Oats
Makes one serving
Adapted from here

1/4 cup quick oats
1/2 cup almond milk or any milk of choice
1/4 medium banana, sliced
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup blueberries or other fruit
1 tsp maple sugar or brown sugar
pinch cinnamon
1 tbsp chopped pecans, granola, etc. (for topping)

Put all the ingredient in a jar, cover and shake then refrigerate overnight. Add pecans or other crunchy topping right before eating. Yum!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Welcoming 2013, finally. Pancakes, anyone?

Pizza, coconut water, zucchini muffins, pancakes
Happy belated New Year! In typical fashion, I am  late. And, I haven't posted since mid November. My excuse? Well I have many but honestly the real reason is blogging is a passion of mine, certainly not a business, only a hobby and frankly my passions and hobbies seem to hang out at the bottom of the priority list. With two kiddos, a kindergartner and a preschooler (a preschool dropout actually, lol), it goes with the territory. So bear with me if you would, please? I have been in the kitchen whipping up some new foods and will be sharing as often as possible. See over there in the picture - Those are some recent "gems" and I will be sharing.

The start of a new year inspires us to make changes, do new things, etc. And although I'm not a "resolution" maker, I do feel a sense of renewal and motivation when a new year arrives. This year January brought me some sorrow though so it hasn't felt so inspiring thus far. One of my dear friends died suddenly. For the past nine months or so, I had been assisting my friend with getting healthier. She needed to lose weight, she needed to eat better. Her doctor told her it was imperative. I am not privy to the exact cause of death but I do know she was found unresponsive early on a Sunday morning. By the time the paramedics arrived, they said there was nothing they could do. I talked to her a few times the day before. And texted her the next morning, Sunday morning. We usually share weight loss info on Sunday mornings as we both were doing Weight Watchers. She never replied. In my heart, I feel this was a situation of too little too late. My friend needed to make some major changes. It was terribly hard for her. She would start and stop and start and stop and start again and stop again. She was finally being fairly consistent with walking on the treadmill with me two to four times a week. The food part was not consistent and was the toughest part for her. I look back on our text messages and see that she wasn't feeling well. She postponed our walk because she was feeling weak. She said it was because she hadn't been eating protein (because of her new braces making her teeth hurt). She also complained of a headache. At her service her sister-in-law told me she complained of a headache to her too as well as neck pain. Three days later, she died. I will likely never know if it was a stroke, a heart attack, or something else. I only know that my friend was unhealthy and was trying to change that. She tried but did not get a chance to get there.

With my friend passing, my mission to eat/make/share more real food and less processed food has become that much more important. Although my inspiration and motivation has been slowed, I am inspired to experiment more in the kitchen, challenge myself more (as a mom, a woman, a wife, an artist), to be organized enough to send birthday cards to my friends and family and to think positively. I'm going to turn my loss into more love for myself and others; more good food for my family and friends; and more recipes for you. And that's the short list. To kick off my 2013 recipes, let's eat pancakes! The base is the same as my whole wheat flax pancakes but this version has added spices. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. Oh, and if topping with maple syrup, be good to yourself and use the real stuff!

Whole Wheat Cardamon, Nutmeg and Flax Pancakes

2 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp cardamon*
1/4 tsp nutmeg*
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 C buttermilk
2 eggs
2 egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, flax meal, cardamon, nutmeg, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.
3. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir JUST until combined (do not over mix).
4. Gently fold in beaten egg whites.
5. Proceed with your usual method for making waffles or pancakes.

I used a large cookie dough/ice cream scoop for my pancakes and the recipe made 18 pancakes.
*I doubled the spices but I love cardamon and nutmeg! I also added sliced bananas to my pancakes during cooking - it was awesome!