Zucchini Griddle Cakes or Latkes

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We all know someone who’s over productive zucchini plant fed the whole neighborhood.
One year, the seed company had messed up, and the Charantais Melon seeds turned into zucchini plants… And unfortunately for us ( and our relatives and neighbors) that was in addition to the 3 zucchini plants my parents purposefully planted. In their defense, this was when zucchini were still a fairly new thing to grow for the home gardener in my area.
We had zucchini steamed, filled, grilled, stewed, we gave a way zucchini, and after we could no longer get excitement out of people, we left them on their door step and tip toed away… We learned, after having 6 plants that summer… Have since never had more than 1 maybe 2 plants. I could not eat or smell zucchini for literally years. Thank goodness, I have since then recovered from my zucchini overdose and can happily eat it again. And here is one of my fun new ways of using up that bounty of summer, or since now it is early fall, maybe just conjure up that a last feeling of sun kissed earth!
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa flakes
  • 2 Eggs, beaten (or for began option: flax seed ‘egg’ = 1tbsp ground flax seed, 3 tblsp water, let sit 3 minutes)
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped Onion
  • 1 tbsp chia seed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Make them!

  1. Mix zucchini, onion and beaten eggs until combined.
  2. Add quinoa flakes, chia seed and salt, stir to incoropate.
  3. Drop by the heaped tablespoon into a heated skillet, flatten out each blob (yep, that’s a scientific term) to 1/4″ thickness.
  4. Cook until golden brown, flip over adding more olive or coconut oil to the pan, as needed.

They can also be baked instead.
Heat oven to 375 F and cook about 8 minutes per side.

Makes about 8. Serve them as a side or a savory breakfast.

Hmm, maybe I will try the rest with salsa…
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They are light and I almost want to say fluffy, and the pictures DO NOT do them justice…

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Perfectly Roasted Chestnuts

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Every day I drive past these trees which in the past week or so have started dropping their load of chestnuts onto the street. I was contemplating stopping and asking if I could pick some, when this morning there was a sign: “chestnuts for sale!” Awesome, I love chestnuts! I think part of their fascination is, they are one of the only true seasonal food left.
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my freshly bought treasure, at home on the deck

I love fall, the colors of the leaves, seeing you breath in the crisp morning air…

Just as much as pumpkins are a symbol for fall throughout the new world, in Switzerland where I was born,  it’s chestnuts that ring in the shorter days.
Warming your hands on a bag of freshly roasted chestnuts while walking through the Christmas market in November, and of course, our annual family vacation to the italian speaking part of Switzerland: Ticino

Ascona, TI

Valle Verzasca, TI: of course the pictures are from pretty weather 🙂

where we would don our rain coats (it usually rained A LOT whenever we were there in the fall) and boots and go pick bags of chestnuts, trying not to let them sting you under your fingernail (I remember that pain too). Then at night my Dad would make a fire in the fireplace and we would roast and eat the bounty of the day.

I will not go into details about the one time we decided to take a couple of bags back home after vacation and kept them in the kitchen, just trust me, whenever you have chestnuts, keep them OUTSIDE on the balcony, or you’ll be chasing the inhabitants of the bad chestnuts paying the price for weeks…

🙂 Ah memories! I also remember that although fresh and good, they were not always easy to peel. We scored them, even got the special ‘chestnut scorer’ tool, but often the inner skin would stick and you’d have to gnaw it out of the shell…

But today after researching, I have found the perfect, fool proof way to roast fresh chestnuts so they are easy to peel, ust like from the street vendor!

Ready?

    • First you need fresh chestnuts (they should look full and plump and shiny if they are dull pass on them, they are not fresh and might be moldy or dry)
    • score them either across or in a X pattern through the shell on one side. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way I found is to hold the chestnut either on a cutting board or up in your hand and cut with a serrated knife or small paring knife.
    • Bring a pot of water to a boil,  (this is the whole trick, yes, you boil them first) drop the chestnuts in and cook for about 10 minutes.

imagepre-boiled chestnuts in my grill basket, ready to go on the grill

  • Drain and roast.
  • Again two different ways this can be done, the easiest is your gas grill outside, using one of those grilling baskets. (Or in a baking dish in the oven: Preheat to 425, roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring twice)
  • Grill about 5 minutes per side, and  WIN! you will have perfect chestnuts!

imageYummy! 

(the whole ‘…roasting on an open fire’ might be more romantic than practical, but the grill works GREAT.

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…and they are gone

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Surprise Visit ‘Cake-to-Biscotti’ (Vorrats Cake)

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My sweet tooth hijacked me completely today. I think it the days getting shorter and the nights colder. Makes me wanna eat cake. Or at least make some and have on hand for when I want some, or need some because of a surprise visit or something (okay, this might just be an excuse, since I am really not sure just how long I will be able to keep my hands off of them)
The German title translates to something along the lines of stock/supply/storage cake since it is baked in canning jars and can then be kept for up to 6 months
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( yeah right, as if anyone is going to manage that)

The idea is that before you serve it or gift it, you remove cake from the jar, slice it thin and bake it up till crisp, = biscotti.
imageIdeal with tea or coffee 🙂
In the background: that’s what they are supposed to look like, foreground, ‘first try’ with 12 oz jelly jars… I basically had to carve the cake out of the jars and slice them lengthwise

You wanna make sure you use wide mouth pint jars from Ball. Or any other jar that is truly straight on the inside and DOES NOT curve in at the top for the lid to thread on. I tried it with 12 oz jelly jars, they LOOK  straight on the outside, but as we all known, it’s the inside that matters much more than the outside 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 4-5 canning jars, pint size
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups (+ 2 tbsp*) Flour
  • 1 cups ground almond or hazelnuts, divided
  • 1/2 cup almonds and/or hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

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Directions

  1. butter and coat jars with 1/4 cup of the ground almonds
  2. In a big bowl in warm water bath, beat eggs, salt and sugar until light and airy
  3. remove from water bath, beat a little more then stir in vanilla and gently mix in flour, baking powder, ground almonds and whole nuts
  4. fold molten butter into mixture
  5. Fill canning jars about half with mixture, tap several times to remove any air bubbles. Close jars and cover lids with aluminum foil
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place large rimmed baking sheet in lower part of the oven and fill as much as possible with hot water, place jars right above that on the rack.
  7. Bake 1 1/2 hours. Let cool in the glass.
  8. To enjoy, open jar, remove cake. If you got the truly straight pint jars, it’s a piece of cake (could not resist that one) will keep up to 6 months
  9.  When unexpected guests show up, not to worry, you’re prepared! Pop a jar open, cut into 1/4″ thick slices and bake in a 250 F oven until crisp!

imageMmmmhhh!

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only fill about half way up

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baking (this time the right jars…)

imagethis is the lemon versions ( will be up soon, still lives in metric land right now)

imagesliced and ‘biscotti-ed’ 

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Sprouted Quinoa Broccoli and White Bean Salad with Pesto Dressing

In the colder months I do rarely eat salad. It just seems to go against my nature. And since the temperatures suddenly dropped below 50, (last week it was 80-some in the afternoon) I prefer something warm right now. You can enjoy this both warm or cold, we had it warm as a main dish first, and then as a side cold from the fridge the next day. Taking advantage of late summer’s bounty of fresh broccoli and if you’re lucky enough to get some fresh shelling beans, that would probably be double awesome! I didn’t and it is fantastic no matter what. I do generally like to cook my own beans, instead of using canned. For a lot of the varieties, the flavor is incomparable, so be warned, once you start there is no going back… If you use canned beans, be sure to rinse them real good to get some of that excess salt off of them before using.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1/4 cup white quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli ( stems and florets)
  • 1 cup white kidney beans (cannellini)
  • 3 heaped tblsp homemade pesto (or a good store bought variety)
  • 5 tblsp Greek Feta dressing with Buttermilk

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…soaking the quinoa until it sprouts…

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Directions

  1. Rinse and then soak Quinoa in enough water to cover by 1/4″, cover, let stand overnight or up to 20 h(You could skip this step and just use the Quinoa plain out of the box)
  2. Pour Quinoa and water into a sauce pan and add water to just cover the sprouted grains ( If you skipped the sprouting, you most likely need a bit more water), bring to a boil and cook until tender and all water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, steam the broccoli pieces in a seperate sauce pan until crisp-tender and bright green, drain and set aside
  4. When the Quinoa is just done (the white grains will look translucent) add the beans to heat them up.
  5. Mix the pesto and the greek feta dressing in a large bowl, add the quinoa and beans, and the broccoli, gently mix until the dressing is mixed in

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Enjoy hot or cold!

Serves 2 as a main, 4 if used as a side dish/salad

Yum!

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Greek Feta Dressing with Buttermilk

Honestly, the only reason I eat salad, is because I like dressing. There I said it. I do think salads are yummy when they contain more than just lettuce, but I guess I still have not grown out of my childhood, when my Dad used to say that the slugs in the garden ate more lettuce than we (my brother and me)!

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I know raw foods and leafy greens are healthy, but don’t be fooled, stay away from Iceberg lettuce, there is nothing in there if nutritional value, nope nada, it’s just crunchy water.

In the spring and fall, when my garden is producing lots of lettuce, I have to get creative and not only use up the prolific stream of salad greens coming out of my garden  but also the various herbs I grow.

I like the fresh and asserting flavors of Greek dishes: lemon, thyme, Greek oregano, garlic and salty feta cheese (it makes you feel like a sunny vacation). So I decided to get working and turn that into something good. Using Buttermilk and Cottage cheese gives the dressing body and thickness without the added calories of mayonnaise.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • 1 md clove garlic*
  • 1 slice Feta cheese ( about 1″x 1/2″x 4″ ) chopped
  • 2 tbsp chives, fresh, chopped, divided*
  • 1 tsp oregano (from 2 fresh sprigs, leaves only)*
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme*
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns, freshly ground in Mortar

* I used all fresh herbs and ingredients. If you are using dried herbs, adjust the quantity down

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Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients except 1 tbsp chives, oil, vinegar and buttermilk in blender until smooth.
  2. Add buttermilk, oil and vinegar, pulse to combine. Remove from blender and stir in remaining chives. Ready to enjoy!

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So far I have used it on various lettuce & vegetable salads (muuuch better than just lettuce). And the sprouted Quinoa White Bean Broccoli salad I had today. Thinking that using it as a marinade might be good as well…
If you’re in need of an idea,
try the warm Sprouted Quinoa Broccoli and White Bean Salad‘ I had today (recipe coming tomorrow)

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Pumpkin Muffin Bites

Alright, i admit it: I am suffering from a pumpkin addiction at the moment, and while were at it, I have an obsession with bananas. It all started with trying to use up all those severely ripe bananas in the summer. I would buy bananas, thinking:’ good snack, conveniently packaged’ and then have an apple instead.
So I have come up with countless ways of using up those ‘end of the week, less than pretty, by themselves inedible’ (I prefer them just a bit green) bananas without having to whip up banana bread every time. Now it’s gotten to the point where I purposely buy extra bananas to let ripen fully. They are cheap, readily available and much better for you than sugar. And get quite sweet when they get to ‘really ripe’ status. So I  started using bananas as natural sweetener. (Using alternates to sugar has become more and more important to me since my boyfriend was diagnoses with diabetes last year.

And telling everyone about my quest for the perfect pumpkin latte (recipe to come soon) and my woes in finding canned pumpkin, I had several friends donate cans they found at stores. Soooo… Now I have lots of seasonal pumpkin and once a can is open, well you better use it up 🙂
That’s where these come in:

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Pumpkin Muffin Bites!

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Ingredients

  • 1 Mashed very ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tblsp cashew butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-3 tblsp Sucanat*, Rapadura or date sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 cup Ground almonds/ almond flour
  • 1/2 cup Chickpea flour
  • Pecan halves for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line mini muffin pan with muffin cup liners.
  2. Mash up the ripe banana, add the pumpkin and the nut butter and stir until no lumps remain. Add Sucanat, stir.
  3. Stir in vanilla and spices, then add the chickpea and almond flours along with the baking powder and mix until combined
  4. drop into mini muffin pan lined with paper muffin cups by the teaspoon full and garnish each one with a pecan half.
  5. Bake in middle of preheated oven at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool on rack.

* Sucanat and Rapadura are dried sugar cane juice, not bleached, not refined

Super yummy, but the color before they are baked is rather questionable…just saying

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Bootcamp SPINACH Omelette-Frittata aka Green Eggs…

At my early morning Bootcamp I always emphasize how important nutrition is, and how especially important it is to fuel your body properly after a hard workout.

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No matter if you are looking to drop body fat percentage or trying to increase endurance or strength. And as a post workout (and weight loss) option, I love spinach frittata, no let me correct that, SPINACH frittata. More like: Spinach with Omelette, speak: lot’s of spinach

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This one’s called ‘Green Eggs’ for a reason. Plenty of protein for breakfast will keep you full longer and the healthy carbs from the spinach, let alone all the other super green nutrients in there are going to fuel you right! It’s simple, just three ingredients and you can omelet or frittata it. Depending on your mood, there are a couple of different ways to make it:

First off the ingredients though

Serves 2

  • 2-3 packed hands full of baby spinach,
  • 5 eggs ( or 8 egg whites)
  • 1 piece (about 1/2″ x 4″ x 1″ ) Feta cheese, cut into chunks
  • 1 tblsp Coconut oil (or oil of choice) for cooking

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Here served with fresh pineapple (the enzymes found in fresh pineapple help break protein down quickly, making it more readily available for your body to use)

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in skillet on medium, and swirl to coat
  2. Add the spinach and let crackle and cook until some of it starts to wilt.
  3. In the meantime, scramble the eggs/egg whites in a bowl, beating with a fork or whisk until mixed and bubbly
  4. Pour eggs into pan, ‘wiggle’ the spinach a bit with a fork so the eggs can get underneath the spinach lumps.
  5. Distribute the feta cheese over top and cook until eggs are set:
  6. Once the eggs are in you can:
  • A) stick the skillet in the oven, preheated to 350 F or under the broiler ( make sure you are using a heat proof skillet, and DON’T touch the handle, no matter what, it’s very tempting, best to put a potholder over it, trust me I tried…)
  • B) flip the Omelet over or fold in half, cooking until set or crispy brown, depending on how you like it.

Just remember, only HALF of this is YOUR serving.

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I make “frittata-omelets”: browned and crisp!

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Did I mention, lots of spinach?

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After this, you’re ready for some good eats!

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Sweet Potato Apricot No-Bake Macaroons

I was searching for Pumpkin Puree (the one that conveniently comes in cans) ALL OVER town, after seeing this lovely  Pumpkin Spice Smoothie — Healthful Pursuit recipe from Leanne and the Pumpkin Spice Latte over on Averie’s blog…

After three (3!!!) grocery stores without pumpkin, a store manager telling me they were out since last December, still due to  a shortage last year every one making those delicious looking lattes and smoothies, I suspect 😉

Craving the sweet, orange fall flavors, I started with the sweet potato I had on hand and went from there. At first I thought, maybe I will just adapt the smoothie or latte and use the sweet potato instead (I argued it might work, it’s sweet, orange and creamy when cooked, add the right spices, they make sweet potato pie filling…) At 9 pm after being up since 4 that morning, that seems like a great idea, trust me. And maybe it would have been…

I have to admit though, courage left me after cooking the sweet potato and here’s what I have come up with instead:
Sweet Potato Apricot No Bake Macaroons. I really wanted to call them: Sweet Potato Coconut Apricot Banana Almond Balls, but that would have been a bit ridiculoso!

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No, sorry no drink recipe (yet)

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They are kind of like those Energy Chunks at the Health Food store, but more tender, fresher, sugar free and softer in texture, enjoy!

No cooking/baking involved, except for the sweet potato:

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, cooked, mashed
  • 1 really ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 cup coconut shredded fine
  • 1-2 tblsp chopped dried apricot
  • (optional) 1 tblsp maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 1 tblsp chia seed
  • more coconut and almond flour for coating

Directions

  1. cook, let cool a bit and peel sweet potato, chop roughly
  2. add very ripe banana, chia seed, sweet potato (and sweetener if using) to food processor (can be done by hand as well) pulse to combine
  3. combine  chopped apricots, almonds and coconut with the food processor contends, mix until incorporated
  4. form 1 1/2″ dia balls, using a spoon to measure it out, roll between your palms, then roll in a mixture of more coconut and ground almonds
  5. Refrigerate and enjoy!

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Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Rainy Day Banana Pancakes (Egg Free)

So last weekend it was gray and rainy outside and I was cleaning the house, (not my favorite chore, it’s so unsatisfying, don’t you think? As soon as you’re done, you gotta start all over) listening to music is a good option to make it more fun, right? Well, my Ipod played “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson.

Take a listen: Amazon.com: Banana Pancakes: Jack Johnson: MP3 Downloads.

It made me hungry, it made we want to have some, right then and there. I could smell them… So on the list for Saturday Breakfast they go 🙂 As I happily, pj’s and all, was ready to start the project: NO EGGS. What to do now? Option A: get changed and go to the store, option B: figure out how to make it without. It’s Saturday and I really don’t want to face the world, the rain is pouring down here in PA (probably some other leftover part of another tropical storm?) so I went about my quest for egg-less pancakes. There’s a German saying: Not macht erfinderisch (transl: Need makes one inventive 😉

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I could have used Bananas as a topping, but there were these peaches on my counter, waiting to be eaten.

A dollop of greek yogurt…

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… and a drizzle of maple syrup
Success!

Turns out it’s not the eggs at all that make the pancakes fluffy and light, but the baking powder/soda. Good to know

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup (non dairy) milk ( I used almond milk, unsweetened)*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tblsp (coconut) oil
  • 1 tblsp suconat, or sugar, honey (optional)
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the milk, oil and banana.  Moisten a paper towel with some oil, wipe the skillet, heat, and add the pancake batter by the 1/4 cup full. Flip over when bubbles appear on the surface.
Serve with:
-Sliced ripe peaches, greek yogurt, and maple syrup
-Banana and caramelized pecans
Serves 2, (Makes 6-7 pancakes)
* you can also use buttermilk, or coconut milk, make sure you stir/shake the can well and since it’s thicker, you may need to spread out the pancakes a bit while they start cooking.  I use oat flour, I like the bit nutty flavor it gives the pancakes. Enjoy!
What kind of substitutes in needy time have you had success with?
                          You can also make waffles …
And the best part? Make the whole recipe, or double and keep the extras individually wrapped in the freezer, pop in the toaster oven until yummy! for those morning when you have no time…
Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

If you can’t make it yourself…

garden bounty

Lately I have found myself sucked into the computer and browsing food and recipe blogs for hours on end (…in my defense, it was rainy all week end). Sorting my thoughts on how to go about writing this cookbook I have been thinking about for some time now was my excuse for the countless hour leaking into the internet. Until it dawned on me, that maybe starting a blog about cooking (I love food), making healthy food choices and meals (I am a personal trainer and sports nutritionist) might be a good place to start sorting and organizing all the recipes (or new ones, no need to look back, right?) that in the past have lived in a 0.99 cent compositions book . And I have lots of them, notebooks with recipes that is.

I remember creating this recipe for a layered chocolate heart when I was a little girl back in  Switzerland, and how exited I was when I showed my Mom (Looking back she seemed a bit more concerned with the sticky mess I may have left behind in the kitchen, than exited about my ‘creation’, lol)

I love to make everything from scratch, because, it just plain tastes better and is better for you. If you can’t make it yourself, don’t eat it. I am not saying that I always make everything myself, but I will stay away from things I could not make, even if I had the right tools and would put all the effort into it. I have tried to make everything from sushi rolls to goat cheese to gluten free baked goods, just to see if I can do it (…and I am a very curious person and how stuff is made intrigues me), but more on that another time.

I believe healthy food should be flavorful, super yummy and not leave your wallet empty!

Welcome to      Simple. Healthy. Homemade!

🙂 Simone

 

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.