Fuel 2 Live

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Month: August 2014

Homemade Almond Milk

Like many others my husband is lactose intolerant. Though he isn’t a big milk drinker to begin with I would buy almond milk for him from time to time. Now I’m not dairy free or lactose intolerant but I do love to enjoy a nice cold glass of almond milk in the morning. I also enjoy it in my coffee because it adds a little nutty flavor. Sometimes we would enjoy a tall glass of vanilla almond milk after dinner because the sweet creamy drink would satisfy our craving for dessert. The kids on the other hand didn’t like it so much. I tried buying different brands but they never seemed to get into it.

I continued to buy it for my husband and I.  That is until I became more aware of the ingredients in products. Have you ever looked at the ingredients of store bought almond milk? Even the organic brands have quite a list. One common ingredient in most almond milks is carrageenan, which is a food additive that is derived from red seaweed and is used as a stabilizer. Because it is made from seaweed it is considered a natural additive but there has been some controversy over whether it is safe or not. Some scientists say it can cause inflammation, ulcers, and bleeding. That’s not very appetizing, is it?

After learning this I started looking into making my own almond milk. I found it to be extremely easy and the taste was 100% better than store bought! The kids even like it. That’s right, they drink it up like crazy.

So how easy is it? Well take a look.

AlmondMilk1All you need is some almond, dates, vanilla extract, salt and water. Really, That is it!

AlmondMilk2The first step is to soak the almonds overnight. I have had a lot of people ask me why is there a need to soak the almonds. Well there are a few reasons. First reason is that almonds naturally have a type of tannin called tannic acid. Tannic acid is stored in the brown skin of the almond and helps protect the nut from pest, sunlight, and other harmful elements. Tannic acid, when digested by humans, can interfere with the amount of iron the body absorbs. Soaking almonds helps release the tannic acid and you simply rinse them away. Another reason is that soaking will help your body digest the almonds better.

AlmondMilk3After the almonds have soaked overnight they will become plump and tender. Drain the water and give them a good rinse.

 

AlmondMilk4After you rinse the almond good you can place them in a blender. No need for a fancy $500 Vitamix. I have a regular $30 blender and it works great for this. Add 3 cups of filtered water and 2-3 pitted dates. Turn the blender on the highest speed and run it till the water becomes milky and the almond become very fine. Take a container, place a strainer over the opening, and a nut milk bag over the strainer. I use this nut milk bag here. Pour the almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid. Sorry I forgot to include a blender and strainer picture.

AlmondMilk5When you are done  straining add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the almond milk and save the almond pulp for later use in recipes. You could dry it out and you will have your own almond meal or almond flour.

See, I told you it was easy. I encourage you to make your own and taste the difference too. There really is no comparison. I will never buy almond milk from a store again.

Ingredient:

1 c of whole almonds, raw

3 c of filtered water (and more to soak)

2-3 pitted dates

1 Tbsp of vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Soak the almond overnight. When ready drain and rinse.

2. Add almonds, water, and dates to a blender. Turn blender to highest setting and run for a few minutes. Water will become milky and almonds will be broken down to very fine pieces.

3. Take a container; place a strainer over the opening and a nut milk bag over the strainer. Pour almond milk into the nut milk bag and strain the liquid out.

4. Once strained add vanilla and salt to the almond milk. Use the almond pulp for recipes or dry out it out for homemade almond meal.

Cook Simple Cowboy Chili & Sloppy Joe Review

Did you know that there is a Gluten and Allergen Free Expo? Well there is and this year it will hit 7 different cities. Back in May I volunteered for the Atlanta expo. It was the first time it was hosted in Atlanta and from the looks of the turn out, it will not be the last. Let me tell you how absolutely awesome this expo was. There were over 100 vendor booths. The booths were split into two sections, gluten free on one side and all other allergens on the other. There were not only brands like Glutino and Udi’s but there were also restaurants, beauty products, and home good products.

When you enter you are given a reusable bag and as you walk around you not only get to sample a ton of delicious food but the vendors also give you a load of samples and a stack of coupons that you can take home. Most of them had products that you could buy at the expo too. I left the expo stuffed and with two full bags of goodies.  If you are interested in attending the expo later this year or in the future her is the link for additional information.

Now I’m not gluten free and I don’t have any food allergies but because I am a dietetic student I naturally wanted to go. I learned so much and met a bunch of great people. I also found some brands that I had never heard of till then but now love. One of them was a brand called Cook Simple which is a line of boxed meals. Now these are not your everyday boxed meals that are loaded with a laundry list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce. These are something different. Each of the ten different varieties of meals are not only gluten free but they contain less than 15 ingredients, all of which are really food. The brand is also non GMO verified. How awesome is that?

 

Cook Simple Cowboy Chili

Cook Simple Cowboy Chili

Cook Simple Sloppy Joe

Cook Simple Sloppy Joe

After reading the ingredients and tasting the chili that they were giving out as samples I had to buy a few boxes. I was also given a few boxes of Sloppy Joe for volunteering. Both were an immediate hit with my family. Take a look.

Cook Simple Cowboy Chili with added Corn

Cook Simple Cowboy Chili with added Corn

Cook Simple Sloppy Joe with added carrots

Cook Simple Sloppy Joe with added carrots

 

Looks yummy huh? They are. The Chili contains cinnamon that gives it a little hint of sweet and quinoa that makes it filling. The Sloppy Joe has a nice undertone of turmeric and a really tomato taste. I can’t wait to try some of the other meals they offer like the Cranberry Wild rice and the Tamale Pie.

If you are tight on time these boxed meals come in handy, and are guilt free. I don’t feel bad at all feeding this to my munchkins when I’m too busy to cook a four-burner meal. If you are interested in trying Cook Simple you can order them online from here. They are only $4.99 a box or $15.96 for a four pack. There are also a few variety pack options you can choose from. Some super Targets, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Albertsons carry Cook Simple. To find a retailer near you click here.

Blue Cheese and Raspberry Pork

My husband, Tony, just discovered blue cheese. I know what you are thinking and you are right. His poor taste palate has been sadly deprived all these years. Until recently he has missed out on the distinctive aroma and sharp, creamy taste of this wonderful cheese. Tony is a self-proclaimed cheese lover but in truth he mostly loves sharp cheddar. He hasn’t really expanded is palate much beyond that. He has a pretty narrow taste preference. Believe me when I saw I have my work cut out with this one! But now since tasting blue cheese and loving it I am hoping that he might be more open to trying some new types of cheeses and other things.  I personal love goat’s cheese but that’s one that hasn’t flown well with him. I have to keep telling myself, “Baby steps Carrie, baby steps.”

Now that I had the husband’s stamp of approval to incorporate blue cheese into family meals I decided to make a flavorful dinner that married some of his favorites with his new tangy obsession. That’s the thing with Tony, he will periodically go through phases where he is obsessed with a particular food and quite often will eat it everyday till he is sick of it. Through the years he has gotten extremely better about his choices in which I am ever so proud of him for!

So what I came up with was crispy pork loin chops topped with creamy blue cheese crumbles and a tangy raspberry balsamic sauce. Here is the recipe for you to try at home.

Blue Cheese and Raspberry Pork

Blue Cheese and Raspberry Pork

Ingredients:

1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 lbs. thin sliced pork loin chops

For Sauce:

1/2 tsp of coconut oil

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 c raspberries, washed and patted dry

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

1/2 c crumbled blue cheese (this is an approximation)

Directions:

1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Mix the next 6 seasonings together and evenly rub on the pork loins.

2. When pan in heated, add seasoned pork loins.  Cook until outside in a golden brown. This is about 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Remove pork loins and let them rest.

3. In the same skillet heat 1/2 tsp of coconut oil on medium heat add garlic cloves. Cook garlic while stirring for about a minute. Be very careful not to burn the garlic.

5. Add raspberries and balsamic vinegar. Cook for about 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced and sauce has thickened.

6. Place pork loins on serving plates. Add even amounts of crumbled blue cheese over pork loins and spoon hot raspberry sauce over cheese. The heat will help the cheese to melt and fuse the flavors together.

I severed these pork loins with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Tip– For lunch meal planning double the recipe or use leftovers. Take cooked pork and cut into  strips. Serve over a bed of dark leafy greens, add blue cheese and raspberry sauce. You could also add sliced almonds or walnuts, chia or flax seeds, or even some extra fresh raspberries. This makes a wonderful and filling salad.

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