“Cheesy” Sourdough Crackers

"Cheesy" Sourdough Crackers - The Clean Gourmet

These are my favorite crackers.  Super umami and just the right amount of snap,  they’re incredibly satisfying.  If you’re not into making sourdough bread, then I recommend you find a friend who does, or make some sourdough starter yourself, if nothing else, just for these crackers.

Sourdough Crackers - The Clean Gourmet

Since I really hate waste, I couldn’t stand to see the starter discard get, um, discarded when we started making sourdough bread.  So, of course, I went on a spree of finding ways to utilize that stuff.  These crackers have now become a reason in itself to make starter.

The combination of sourdough and nutritional yeast makes anyone who tries these crackers swear there’s cheese in them.  But there isn’t.  I do, however, like to eat these with cheese.

Sourdough Crackers - The Clean Gourmet

“Cheesy” Sourdough Crackers

1 cup whole spelt flour  (trying ½ cup oat flour + ½ cup Emmer instead)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup cold unfed discarded sourdough starter

2 tablespoons unsalted softened butter or vegetable shortening

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Maldon or other large flake salt, for sprinkling on top

Procedure:

Combine all ingredients except for Maldon salt and knead briefly.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and flatten.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Remove dough from refrigerator and place between two pieces of parchment.  Roll to about ¼” thickness.  Remove top layer of parchment and sprinkle tops with Maldon salt.  Return parchment to the top of dough and gently smooth with your hands to allow the salt to stick to the dough.  Remove parchment again and cut dough into 2” squares.  Do not attempt to separate the squares.  Slide parchment onto baking sheet and bake 16 minutes.

Remove from oven, flip and separate crackers, and bake another 9 minutes.  

Remove pan from oven and transfer crackers to a cooling rack. If any in the middle are still soft, return pan with underdone crackers to spent oven for additional time until done, about 10-20 minutes.  Transfer remaining crackers to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Adapted from: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-crackers-recipe


Smoky Beet and Feta Tart with Whole Wheat Crust - The Clean Gourmet

Smoky Beet and Feta Tart with Whole Wheat Crust

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This tart is a showstopper.  For the crust I use leaf lard, which, believe it or not, is lower in saturated fat than butter (not that you should completely avoid saturated fats, as your body needs some, but an overabundance taxes the liver) and makes for the flakiest crust.  Also, the savory flavor of lard contrasts with the sweetness of the balsamic, giving the tart an almost meaty taste, especially combined with the texture of grated beets.  Of course, butter or olive oil will do if you haven’t come around to lard yet or don’t have any.

I think these would be really nice as mini tartlets for a party.  Just press small crust rounds into a mini muffin pan, blind bake with pie weights, and fill.  You’ll want to decrease the baking time by about half if you go this route.

I’m a fan of beets as a circulatory and workout recovery aid, so I think it’s wise to incorporate them into your meals at least once a week.

I streamlined the recipe to be quick enough to do on a weeknight.  Serve it alongside garlicky sautéed greens (such as the greens from the beets you use here) or an endive salad with mustard vinaigrette.

Smoky Beet and Feta Tart with Whole Wheat Crust

Makes 1 pie

Ingredients:

For the crust:

150 grams whole wheat flour

50 grams all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

100 grams leaf lard (butter or olive oil will do as substitutes), chilled (remove from fridge just before using)

1/4 cup very cold ice water

For the filling:

400 grams trimmed beets, then peeled and grated over large holes of grater

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium/large yellow or red onion, minced

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

scant cup water

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

2 teaspoons grated fresh horseradish (a 1/4 teaspoon of wasabi paste dissolved in a teaspoon of water is a fine substitute)

pinch salt and black pepper, plus more to taste

150 grams feta, crumbled (double cream smooth is best)

2 eggs, beaten with 1/3 cup creamy almond milk or whole milk

1/4 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped, to serve

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and make the crust.

Whisk flours and salt in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle chilled fat over flour and cut in with a pastry cutter, fork or the tips of your fingers.  Keep going until flour looks like fine sand.  Incorporate cold water, using your hands, being careful not to overwork.  Form into a ball and flatten.  Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate 15-30 minutes (or up to overnight).

Roll dough between two pieces of parchment until 1/4-inch thick.  Remove top piece of parchment and place open side of pie dish onto rolled crust and flip, transferring crust onto pie dish.  Remove parchment carefully, pressing crust against pie dish.

Blind bake crust: Get a fresh piece of parchment and place on top of crust, then fill the cavity with pie weights or a pot that fits inside.   Bake 10 minutes, then remove parchment and pie weights/pot.  Bake another 5 minutes and remove from oven.

While the crust is chilling and baking, begin work on the filling:  in a large high-sided sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté a few minutes, until softened and about to brown.  Add grated beets and balsamic and sauté until balsamic has mostly evaporated.  Add thyme, smoked paprika, horseradish, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until beets are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

Taste to adjust seasoning, then transfer all but 1 cup of filling to baked pie crust.  Crumble feta over filling, then add remaining filling.  Top with beaten egg and milk mixture and bake 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and, just before serving, top with chopped toasted pistachios.

Adapted from: http://www.sugaretal.com/2014/07/09/beetroot-and-feta-tart/


Warm Kale Salad with Citrus and Spice Roasted Kabocha Squash and Fennel

I crave a salad of this nature-sturdy greens with warm roasted vegetables-at least once a week in the fall and winter.  Here is one of my favorite variations so far.

Notes:

If you’re making this in advance, instead of blanching the kale, you can just toss the raw kale with all of the other ingredients, then warming the prepared salad in a pan as you need it.

I don’t add extra oil to the salad, as I think the oil from the roasted vegetables provides enough when mixed with the kale.  Of course, this is my preference and you can add more oil if you feel it needs it.

The fresh cranberries add a nice touch of bitterness that offsets the sweetness of the kabocha and orange.  If you don’t like bitter, feel free to omit the fresh cranberries or toss in some dried cranberries (which are usually sweetened) at the end.

I sometimes add rainbow chard stems to the roasting vegetables, as they get nice and tender when roasted and I’ve always got chard stems on hand.

Warm Kale Salad with Citrus and Spice Roasted Kabocha Squash and Fennel

Serves 3-4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

For roasting:

1/2 kabocha squash, deseeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 head fennel, halved lengthwise and cut into wedges with core in tact

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

heaping 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

pinch salt, preferably flaky sea salt

about 3 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to coat the vegetables well)

For the salad:

1 bunch purple kale, stems removed and leaves cut into chunks

1 cara cara or navel orange

black pepper and salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds or poppy seeds

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar

crumbled feta, to serve

What to do:

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Combine roasting ingredients and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until vegetables browned and tender.

While the vegetables roast, place kale in a large strainer and pour boiling water over to soften.  Allow to drain fully and place in a large bowl.  (See note above if making in advance.)  Zest the orange over the kale.

Remove remaining peel of the orange with a knife.  Cut orange into segments and add to kale.  Toss with salt, nigella or sesame seeds, and vinegar.

When the kabocha and fennel are roasted, remove from oven promptly and add to kale.

Taste and adjust for salt, vinegar, and oil.  Serve warm.


Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins

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Pumpkin is still going strong!

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Kefir is a cultured milk product similar to yogurt, except it has different, more potent strains of bacteria, and is thin enough to drink.  It’s a great alternative to buttermilk in baking and pancake recipes, thanks to its similar consistency and acidity to buttermilk.  Kefir is also a perfect base for smoothies!

Maple Hill Creamery arguably produces the best kefir, because they use the highest quality milk from third party certified 100% grass-fed cows.  Not only is grass-fed dairy better for you, as I discussed here, supporting grazing cattle also promotes the natural ecology of the planet and preserves various perennial grass species, which are at risk of extinction.  Grass farmers (the farmers who raise grass-fed cattle) have a vested interest in using a variety of grasses to support the cows’ health.  These cows then preserve these perennial grasses  by clipping them at the right moments so that the grasses can form deep roots.  The cows are also responsible for aerating the soil with their hooves, which allows water to penetrate the soil more effectively.

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Also, Maple Hills flavors cannot be beat. Maple, Strawberry, and Vanilla, to name a few, are naturally flavored and only gently sweetened.  Of course, Plain is a classic option if you prefer something more neutral.

Now about these muffins.  They’re a sophisticated twist on pumpkin spice with hazelnut and espresso.  However, if you don’t like hazelnuts, almond flour should be a fine substitute and if you don’t want caffeinated muffins, you can easily substitute with decaffeinated espresso or espresso powder.  Just try to look for water processed decaf, rather than chemically processed so that you’re not exposing yourself to unnecessary toxins.

If you prefer a loaf or bundt, go ahead and bake this in a loaf or bundt pan.  Just add extra baking time and check it until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups spelt flour or gluten free flour mix (1/2 cup arrowroot + 3/4 cup brown rice flour is a great ratio.  Cup4Cup and ATK all-purpose mixes are great too.)

3/4 cup hazelnut meal/flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (DIY: 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder or 1 shot of espresso

3/4 cup pumpkin purée, room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Hill Creamery 100% Grass-Fed Plain, Vanilla, or Maple kefir, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup coconut sugar (more or less depending on preference for sweetness)

1/4 cup coconut oil (liquid) or neutral oil (avocado is best)

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Raw pecans, for topping

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease or line a standard muffin pan with 9 muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, kefir, coconut sugar, oil, egg, and espresso powder. Mix until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix gently until just combined.

Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle pecans over the batter in each muffin cup.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 minutes.

Allow muffins to cool in pan. Remove and store in an airtight container for up to one day, or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Pumpkin Hazelnut Espresso Muffins - The Clean Gourmet


Tahini Apple Snack Cake

I have to share this adaptation of a recipe from one I saw on Thrive Market’s blog last year, as I get this requested at least once a month by clients and friends.  I’ve reduced the sugar, subbed buttermilk with grass fed yogurt, and I use apple instead of pear since pear ripeness is so unpredictable.  I also like baking in mini loaf pans, as it’s easier to share and bakes much faster.

So here you have it!  A perfect balance of nutty and a hint of sweet, it’s a unique way to savor fall.

Tahini Apple Snack Cake

Makes 3 mini loaves or 1 regular loaf

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose mix (plus 1 tablespoon, separated)

1 cup blanched almond flour

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (sub 1 tablespoon with black sesame seeds if you can find), plus a little extra for sprinkling on top

2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup softened butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil

1 cup + 1 tablespoon unbleached sugar

1/2 cup tahini (if you keep yours in the fridge, bring to room temperature)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup European style grass fed yogurt

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans with butter, oil, or nonstick spray.

Toss apple chunks with 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk flour, almond flour, sesame seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk butter or oil with sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Add egg and egg yolk and mix again until pale and light, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in tahini and yogurt.

Fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until halfway incorporated.  Add apple chunks and fold gently, being very careful not to overmix, until the dry is fully incorporated with the wet.

Pour batter into prepared pan/pans and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.  Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes for large loaf, or 45 minutes for mini loaves, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tahini Apple Snack Cakes - The Clean Gourmet

Adapted from: https://thrivemarket.com/blog/nutty-tahini-complements-delicate-pear-in-this-light-tea-cake


Mesquite Banana Bread

No, this is not barbecue flavored banana bread.  Mesquite powder (or “flour”) is what boosts this banana bread.

Mesquite powder is made of dried and ground pods from the mesquite plant.  It has a toasty, sweet flavor, yet it’s extremely low on the glycemic index.  Renowned for its nutrition density, mesquite is high in protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  Also, thanks to its high proportion of fiber, it actually reduces the glycemic load of whatever you’re adding it to (baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.), giving you sustained energy and fewer snack cravings.

This banana bread is loaded with flavor and nutrition.  Aside from the addition of mesquite, it’s gently sweetened with bananas and a hint of coconut sugar, and is made with whole wheat and almond flours for extra fiber and minerals.

Mesquite flour tends to have stubborn clumps, so make sure to sift it, or else you’ll end up with pasty clumps of mesquite flour in the finished product.

To make it pretty, top with banana slices or pecan halves before placing in the oven to bake:).

If you find you love mesquite as much as I do, I highly recommend you try Warm Pecan Mesquite Milk– perfect for cozy fall and winter nights, it’s essence of mesquite in a mug.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mesquite flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Scant 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)

1/3 cup grass fed butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup European style yogurt (preferably grass fed cream on top) or buttermilk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup pecan halves, broken into pieces

What you need:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper (alternatively, makes 2 mini loaves).

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat butter and coconut sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, mashed banana, and yogurt.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing with a large spatula until just incorporated.  Fold in the pecans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes (30-35 minutes for mini loaves), or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie - The Clean Gourmet

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Cucumber is actually a melon so, technically, the name is redundant, but no one probably cares.  I love a good theme, and cucumber and cantaloupe fit the melon theme perfectly.

I love cantaloupe (like other melons) for smoothies because its mellow sugar and flavor let you still appreciate a good homemade nut milk, while the low acidity makes for a super creamy smoothie that could almost pass off as a milkshake.

If you can’t have dairy, sub the yogurt with coconut cream.  You can either buy a can of it or open a can of regular coconut milk and scoop out the solids (a.k.a. the cream) that have separated from the liquid.

Note: If your cantaloupe and cucumber aren’t frozen, I recommend adding a few cubes of ice or frozen nut milk.

Cucumber Melon Mint Smoothie

Serves 1-2 

Ingredients:

⅔ cup nut milk (I love almond sesame milk from scratch for this smoothie) or grass fed cow’s milk

1 ½ cups cantaloupe chunks (ideally frozen)

½ medium cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks (ideally frozen)

1 teaspoon cold milled flaxseed

4 fresh mint leaves

½ teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

⅓ cup yogurt or 1/4 cup coconut cream

1 Medjool date

Optional: 1 scoop protein powder (I use Tera’s Whey Grass Fed Plain)

What to do:

Place all ingredients in blender and run at high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 


Breakfast Beets with Yogurt - The Clean Gourmet

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

This is the sweet breakfast for savory breakfast fans, but a healthier, yet satisfying alternative for those who prefer a sugary start to their day.

Personally, I don’t tolerate much sugar, including fruit, first thing in the morning, but beets have a low/moderate effect on blood sugar (a.k.a. glycemic load).

If you exercise often, then I highly recommend regularly incorporating beets into your diet, as they’ve been shown to aid in muscle recovery, thereby boosting future performance.

For a dairy-free version, replace the yogurt with a drizzle of cold-pressed flaxseed oil.

Breakfast Beets with Yogurt

Serves 2

Ingredients:

3 medium beets, steamed until tender and cut into quarters

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon unhulled sesame seeds

Juice of 1 lemon

⅛ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup whole Greek yogurt (dairy-free version: 1 tablespoon cold-pressed flaxseed oil)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Chopped toasted nuts and seeds (pictured: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds)

What to do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately.


Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

This is a real muffin.  As in, not a breakfast cupcake.  As in, not that wolf in sheep’s clothing you see at Starbucks or your local bakery.  This muffin is barely sweet and is full of protein and fiber, so you avoid a morning insulin spike and imminent sugar crash, followed by sudden hunger pangs.

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There are 10 grams of protein within a modest 191 calories per muffin.  Not that I’m into calorie counting, but just to give you an idea…

Fluffy and deceptively flourless, these muffins have a gluten-free and highly nutritious base.  Just plant protein, coconut, oat bran and flax (if you’re celiac, make sure the oat bran is certified gluten free, as oat products are often cross-contaminated with wheat).

I love oat bran and flax, because they are extremely high in soluble fiber, a gelling agent that removes cholesterol from the blood stream and makes you feel full for a very long time.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

High quality protein powder, combined with MCTs (a.k.a. medium chain triglycerides, a.k.a. metabolism supporting fats) in the coconut gives you energy and keeps your blood sugar stabilized.

These muffins are gently sweetened with bananas and raisins.  No sugar or liquid sweeteners added. If you do prefer a sweeter muffin, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of honey to the batter, or just put a smear of your favorite fruit preserves.

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins (GF, sugar free)

Yield: 9 muffins

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups oat bran

¼ cup ground flax

¼ cup Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla Protein Powder (or other protein powder, preferably without stevia)

¼ cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins or 1/3 cup dried currants

1 cup milk or nut milk, room temperature

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 cup mashed very ripe banana, from about 1 1/2 bananas (don’t need to mash if you use blender for liquid ingredients)

2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted

Optional: 1-2 tablespoons honey, if you prefer a sweeter muffin

What to do:

Heat oven to 400º. Line a muffin tin with 9 muffin cups. Whisk together oat bran, flax, protein powder, coconut, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and raisins/currants in a medium/large mixing bowl.  Whisk together remaining ingredients in a smaller bowl, or simply blend in a blender to get an extra smooth consistency and not worry about mashing your banana!  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and fold until fully incorporated.  Fill muffin cups with batter until almost full.

Bake 20 minutes, or until a knife poked in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin tin 15 minutes and remove.  Store at room temperature for one day and in the refrigerator for up to five days. (These are also very freezer-friendly!)

Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins - The Clean Gourmet

 


Sweet and Smoky Rosemary Pretzel Mix - The Clean Gourmet

Sweet and Smoky Rosemary Pretzel Mix

The holidays aren’t over yet!  Whip this up for 2016 New Year’s Eve bash or make it for you to keep all for yourself.

Be warned though- this crunchy snack is super addictive and will go FAST, thanks to the satisfying combination of sweet and salty, followed by a subtle kick of smoky spice.

To up the nutrition, I recommend using Newman’s Own spelt pretzels. If you’re gluten free, don’t let that stop you- gluten free brands, such as Gratify or Glutino, work perfectly.

Note: If you don’t have flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, reduce salt to 1 teaspoon.  For smoke lovers, up the smoke factor by substituting half the salt with smoked sea salt.

More importantly: I strongly recommend serving with rosemary gin martinis or a good IPA;).

Sweet and Smoky Rosemary Pretzel Mix

Ingredients:

300 grams (about 3 cups) small pretzel twists, preferably unsalted

250 grams (about 2 cups) mixed nuts

4 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil

5 tablespoons organic sugar crystals

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

3 tablespoons minced rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon or fleur de sel)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Weigh/measure pretzels and nuts and mix in a large bowl.

Melt butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat or in a small bowl in the microwave.  Stir in sugar, maple syrup, cayenne, paprika, rosemary and salt.  Pour over pretzels/nut mixture and incorporate with a large spoon.

Spread onto lined sheet pans and bake for 40 minutes, stirring at least once, until glaze is set.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on pan before serving or storing.

Sweet and Smoky Pretzel Mix - The Clean Gourmet