Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4 Ingredient Almond Milk

It is really hard to milk an almond. My fingers are way too big. 

  I have to share homemade almond milk.  I use it in my protein shakes for creamy texture and I love it in a lot of my recipes. We've had some great success with making almond milk from natural blanched almond flour here at our house! It is one of those simple recipes I've made for a long time and wondered why I haven't shared it. So today I thought I'd share how I do it!  I use my favorite Almond Flour because it is all natural and easy to use for baking and also for almond milk! I use it a lot.  This recipe says 4 ingredient, but the last two ingredients are optional.  I use the stevia to add a hint of natural sweetness to the milk and I use the xanthan gum to add some emulsification assistance to keep the milk from separating when it is chilled.  If you don't want to use it, you can omit it. 
 My Chef Tess 4 Ingredient Homemade Almond Milk
1 cup Almond Flour (about 80 g)
4 cups very hot water
15-20 drops stevia (optional)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Vitamix Directions: Combine almond flour and 2 cups of the very hot (closer to boiling) water in a blender.  This helps release the fat in the flour and helps with the emulsion.  Allow to sit 5 minutes.  Note:  I use my Vitamix Professional because I know it will really blitz the emulsion.  The engine on that thing is amazing.  After the 5 minute sitting time, cover tightly  blend on the liquefy setting for 30-40 seconds until bright white and smooth like milk. Turn off the blender and add the remaining water.  Mix a second or two more. 

If you don't have a vitamix or stronger blender, I highly recommend the use of a little xanthan gum to help with the emulsification process. It is gluten-free. Follow the blender directions above, blending 2-3 minutes for best smoothness. 

Transfer to a quart sized jar and place in the fridge. Chill 2-3 hours.  
Use in any recipe that calls for milk.

Nutritional information:
serving size, 1/2 cup prepared. 57 calories. 5 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 1 g fiber, 

There you go! Onward and upward my darlings!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Skillet Stewed Zucchini and Ravioli Eggs

So, I had one of those trips to the doctor that I hate. You know the ones where the doctor looks at you, looks at your chart, and gives that sigh of, "well, you've done better in the past." 
First, I know she didn't mean it that way. {Inserting the benefit of the doubt here} She probably had a long day and here I was, the chubby cute girl,coming in to get a check-up when she'd been dealing with wheezing golden folks from out of town all day. Literally looking at her, I realized that I had put off coming in to see her because I was a bit afraid of "that look." 
I'm a perfectionist. I'm perfect at being a perfectionist.
 If I mess up, I freakin' beat myself up forever about it. I didn't want to feel like I had done anything less than my personal best.  I also didn't want to admit that again, I needed the accountability of getting weighed every few weeks by total strangers to keep me on track.  
Guess what?  Since August, I've gained back about 12 lbs. I have no excuses for why that may be.   Except that apparently losing weight is not like losing your virginity and this will be a battle I will have to keep fighting for the rest of my life. 
Though I do realize at some level that the scale doesn't really reflect anything about me but my gravity, today I really allowed myself to get a little crazy about it.  I got in the car after the doctor's office and I bawled like a baby.  Then...I said to myself, "Suck it up sister!" 
I went home and made this healthy zucchini skillet dinner.  I hit the exercise bike for 45 minutes...and I said, "I'm getting back to the blog!" Why blog? Because when I blog, I feel like I'm accountable to the whole stinkin' awesome world! I may or may not have anyone who actually reads this...but to me, it makes me remember why I'm doing this! Plus...there's joy in the journey when the folks you love share it. There's accountability to myself when I write it down. 

Skillet Stewed Zucchini with Ravioli Eggs

26 oz stewed diced tomatoes
1T butter or olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced (4 cups)
1/2 cup minced onion
2T minced garlic
4 eggs
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 12 inch covered deep skillet, saute the zucchini, onions and garlic in butter until the onions are clear, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer  over medium high heat for about 5 minutes more.
Push the zucchini to the side of the pan and crack the eggs into the center with the tomato sauce.
Sprinkle with basil (and cheese if desired)
Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 12 minutes, until eggs are set.

Serves 4.

Stewed Zucchini Ravioli Eggs

Serving Size, 1/4 recipe:
Calories: 150, Fat 6 g, Carb 7 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 6

There you go my darlings! I'm back!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Black forest Almond flour Brownie-Bite Cookies

A weight loss challenge and I'm sharing a cookie recipe?!! 

Yup. That's because these are healthy and low calorie! In fact, each cookie only carries 73 calories, 2 net carbs, and 5 grams of heart-healthy fat from almond flour! You can't go wrong with that. Did I also mention they are sugar-free and gluten-free? can they taste like a black forest brownie and still be good for me? I'm not asking. I'm just eating. Two cookies for a snack and I'm good to go for the rest of the afternoon.  Happy. Giddy happy! Dancing around the test-kitchen happy! Does dancing around the test kitchen count as cardio? Pump up the Broadway show tunes...because I'm making it count! Bwhahahaa! Now there's a visual...I'd just as soon not show you...

On the other hand, here are some cookies I think you'd like to see. 

 My friends at North Bay Trading sent me some gorgeous Freeze Dried Organic Cherries to try out and I have to tell you I've been addicted! Adding these to the cookies have been pivotal.  I love cherries anyway, but these have been so cool! I love the crunch, the tartness and the absents of guilt associated with eating these! 
 Nutritionally, they are as close to picking cherries right off the tree as I can get. Calorie wise, they are low and I don't feel guilty. Did I mention the guilt again? you go. Look for yourself.
 Have you ever met my favorite Almond Flour? On this one I'm brand specific for a reason. This is the finest milled almond flour I can find and it has remarkable texture in baked good. I didn't want almond meal. I wanted a flour that would bake remarkably well. Thank you Honeyville! To find out how I'm connected to Honeyville, go here.

I've done a lot of tips and techniques on baking with Almond flour Here

At any rate, here's the recipe for the cookies. I think you'll really enjoy them. I know we do!

Black forest Almond flour Brownie-Bite Cookies 
2 cups Almond Flour 
1/4 cup  organic coconut flour
1/2 cup Granular Erythritol (natural sugar-free calorie free sweetener)
1/4 cup egg white powder*
zest of one orange
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup Freeze Dried Organic Cherries

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Dough will be stiff.  Divide into 20 cookies and roll into balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart, smashing lightly.  Bake 350 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool on the sheet, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.
*Note: If you do not have egg white powder, you can use 1/2 cup of egg whites and omit the water.

Nutritional information: Yield 20 cookies.  Each cookie contains 73 calories, 5 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g fiber (2 net carbohydrate).

There you go darlings! Let's rock the weight loss and healthy whole food eating! Ya know, it isn't about losing weight so much as it is about making sure I take care of this body that God gave me. It is a gift to be alive. I'm treating it that way. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, February 14, 2014

3 Ingredient Stuffed Pork Loin

As a professional chef there are days when I just want to shoot myself for knowing exactly how to make what I want. I love food. I love everything about it. I wear my addiction. So, I have to be careful. This one can easily be done low fat and delicious. Here's the skinny...

Fruit and Rosemary Stuffed Pork Loin

The first time I ever smelled fresh rosemary was as a nanny. I was fifteen years old and had been hired as a caretaker and cook for two year old twins the summer of my Junior year in high school. In Arizona, rosemary grows in bushes the size of Juniper shrubs and we use electric chainsaws to trim it. It sounds like a horror movie to all of you in the climates who have to nurture the little shrub-lings in tiny pots in your window boxes and cover them with towels to protect them from frost. Having spent most of my young life in the cold, I had not seen the herb growing wild. Yet here I was, new to Arizona, and my boss insisted there was some rosemary herbs growing in her yard. She also insisted that I could surely benefit greatly if I used her weeds in making dinners. She proudly pranced over to the shrub and tore off some of the tender shoots. Timidly I held the plant to my nose. I instantly fell in love. I think I walked around with a sprig up my nose the better part of the day. I was alone with two year old twins. I had a lovely green mustache for doing impressions of the Muppet's Swedish chef. I realize now that perhaps I was setting a bad example of how to carry herbs around the house. Hopefully the girls didn't need years of therapy after that display. I have no defense. I couldn't help myself! Rosemary was intoxicating. It was woodsy and hearty, unlike any of the dry pine-like needles I had seen in anemic jars in the kitchen spice rack. Fresh Rosemary is the aroma of breakfast sausage cooking on Christmas morning and inviting me to wake to a warm yellow glowing tree adorned with gifts. It was the scent of the first kiss I gave Ace after an Italian dinner where he asked me to be his wife. It's everything I adore. Now...we grow it in our garden as well. I have stopped walking around with sprigs up my nostrils. I'm sure that's a relief to hear.
This recipe is being shared on Freezer Friday...because I like to have it already made on hand for whenever I want a touch of simple elegance shoved between the bags of frozen hot dogs in my practical freezer. It just seems to classy up the joint. Let's face a mother, there are golden moments where dinner may not be gourmet...but it can be first class. Am I right? My kids eat this meal without reservation. Ace the vegetarian...well, he gets a lot of beautiful grilled vegetables and homemade bread. I don't hear him complain about the dinner. I also bake this one in our Solar Oven on especially hot days. That's the other bonus of living in the dessert...we get Solar cooking adventures. I like this one because you only need 3 ingredients!
Fruit and Rosemary Stuffed Pork Loin
2 lb lean maple marinated pork loin, cut open so it lays flat (I use D Dog BBQ maple rub overnight. )
6-7 dried apricots, plums, apples or golden raisins (or any combination of dried fruit you desire)
3T fresh rosemary, chopped
Arrange fruit on the fillet that has been butter-flied open (see photo). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary.
Place on a 2 foot section of very heavy aluminum foil that has been lightly oiled. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll fruit and rosemary into the meat.
Tightly roll in the foil and twist the ends closed.

Bake at 375 degrees until a meat thermometer registers 175 degrees (about an hour). Remove from the oven, cool and then place in the fridge. When cold, transfer to the freezer or slice and transfer individual servings to smaller freezer friendly containers.

To serve: Defrost stuffed pork in fridge overnight.
Heat out of foil in the microwave 5-7 minutes or individual slices 3-4 minutes.

However you do it...enjoy. There you go.