Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding

Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding - Top View

Our pudding is referred to as “Toasted Coconut,” because it has that appearance of being toasted as we used coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is like brown sugar in appearance, but doesn’t have the same effect on blood glucose in the blood stream. In other words, it does not spike your sugar levels.

The Glycemic Index of coconut sugar is 35 as reported by the Philippine Coconut Authority, the largest supplier of coconut sugar along with Indonesia. 35 is classified as a low glycemic food.

Coconut sugar has many natural occurring nutrients, including magnessium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and amino acids. Because it is unprocessed, the nutrient content is intact, unlike refined white table sugar.

Coconut sugar is actually more sustainable than sugar cane. The coconut palm tree produces up to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar, while only using 20% of the resources.

Now for the featured recipe: Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding, and here is what you will need.

1/2 cup organic coconut sugar

1/3 cup organic arrowroot starch

1/2 teaspoon organic Himalayan salt

3 cups silk Coconut milk (or your preferred organic brand)

3 tablespoons organic coconut butter

1 teaspon organic vanilla extract

About 30 to 40 organic vanilla wafers

3 ripe organic bananas

Toasted organic coconut for garnish (optional)

Organic heavy cream, whipped for topping (optional)

mixing ingredients in sauce pan to make Toased Coconut Banana Pudding

Whisk together coconut sugar, starch and salt in a medium saucepan.

Slowly whisk in coconut milk, oil, and vanilla. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.

Lower heat and simmer whisking occasionally until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

layering sliced bananas and vanilla cookiesTo assemble spread a layer of vanilla wafers in a 9 X 9 inch square baking dish, or a 9-inch round baking dish (your choice) top with half of the banana slices and half of the pudding.

Continue with another layer of vanilla wafers followed by remaining bananas and ending with remaining pudding, spreading to cover all banana slices.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 to 5 hours or overnight.

Toasted Coconut Banana Pudding - Side ViewTo serve, line a dessert glass or small dessert bowl with some vanilla cookies, and top with fresh organic whipped cream and toasted coconut.

This is a gluten free and all organic dessert. Enjoy!!

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Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

February is National Canning Month in the United States. Why, you may ask in the middle of winter? I am not really sure why. It would seem that the mid summer months  on in to October would seem more appropriate, when most summer fruit and vegetables are at there peak and are being harvested.

To honor the occasion, Registrar Corp is presenting important information about U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registration regulations for Food Canning Establishments (FCE), according to PRWeb.

The process of canning food in the United States dates back to May of 1862 when Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Agricultural Act that established the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By 1901 the canning company who went by the name “Norton Brothers” joined with 60 other firms to form the American Can Company. Canning food back in the early 1900’s was fairly new, and food was canned in different containers, including glass jars and tin cans.

pickling  seasoning with salt and coconut sugarDuring the early years of commercial canning, there were numerous cases of botulism outbreaks. But the industry canned on, until they got it right.

Salt as well as sugar is the secret to canning. Salt flavors and preserves. It also creates a hostile environment for microorganisms that would otherwise spoil foods.

This is why the amount of salt you put in most brined pickle recipes is critical. It also applies to caning other food products.

Salt helps keep the brine and canned food at a balanced pH level that prevents bad bacteria from forming. Sugar can do the same thing, such as in canned jams and jellies.

Good bacteria also need nutrients to grow. In our canning we used Himalayan salt, which contains 72 trace minerals., minerals we thrive on for good health. We tried something a little different in our recipe, we used coconut sugar, in place of white refined sugar. Because of that our pickling brine is not clear, but it has good flavor.

Let’s get started with our feature canning recipe and here is what you will need:

10 ounces mini sweet peppers (yellow, red and orange), ends cut off and remove seeds

2 fresh Serrano peppers, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 cup water

mini sweet peppers marinating in brine1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)

2 tablespoons pickling spices

1 1/2 tablespoons Himalayan salt

Place peppers in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside.

In a medium stainless steel saucepan combine water, vinegar, sugar, pickling spices, and salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until sugar and salt has dissolved.

mini sweet peppers in jar waiting for brinePour hot vinegar mixture over peppers and cool, until brine temperature reaches about 75 to 80 degrees.

Transfer to two 4 cup glass containers with lids. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 month.

seeding and veining Serrano chiliesSerrano peppers can be hot, because of their volatile oil content. When seeding them as well as removing the veins, you need to be careful not to touch your eyes, as they will burn.

Avoid direct contact with chilies as much as possible. When working with chili peppers, use a spoon to remove the veins and seeds. First cut the stem, then cut in half from the top to the bottom of the pepper.

Grab the bottom tip of the chili with one hand and slide a spoon under the seeds and veins to completely remove them. Then cut into strips and cut in half each strip depending the length of the chili pepper.

Each jar has 8 servings each. Each serving is 1/4 of a cup.  Enjoy 3 sweet peppers per day, as they provide 200% of your daily need for vitamin-C, your epidermis (skin) will thank you.

 

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Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes

Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes

According to the Health News Library, you don’t have to wait for Autumn when pumpkins are normally harvested to enjoy their cancer fighting benefits. They write saying that research performed at Tufts University with pumpkins showed that 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin has five times the daily quota for beta-carotene (vitamin-A) per day.

If you were able to read our article Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup, and was able to prepare it, you would find yourself with some left over pumpkin. Well, no worries, as the 1/2 can of left over pumpkin can be used in our featured recipe: Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes.

Here is what you will need…

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes - close up3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 tbsp. coconut oil

4 to 5 strips crumbled cooked bacon

 

Whisk together in a large bowl the first 6 ingredients, and set aside.

In a separate medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, coconut sugar, and coconut oil.

Gently stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Heat a cast iron griddle coat with butter over medium heat. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto griddle to form a 3 to 4 inch pancake. Drop some of the crumbled cooked bacon. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes each side.

Plate and drizzle with real maple syrup.

Prevention magazine (October 2012 issue) says, to better absorb the beta-carotene in the pumpkin add a healthy fat to the recipe, and in this case it  is the coconut oil. If you choose, you can use olive oil. If you cannot get your hands on some coconut sugar, then you can substitute raw honey.

 

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Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup

 

Curried Apple-Pumpkin Soup

We found this recipe Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup, in the October coconut sugar2012 issue of Prevention. This soup is a gluten-free and vegan food.

Pumpkin is full of cancer fighting properties, which includes beta-carotene (read more here: Pumpkins Ability to Fight Cancer). For better absorption of this phytonutrient, pair it with a healthy fat, which we did using coconut oil.

Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are natural occurring chemicals that help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. In turn when you eat the plant food and its phytonutrient, you get that protection as well.

Okay, enough of the science, and on to the featured recipe. Oh, by the way, you will note we used coconut sugar in the recipe.

Coconut sugar is a perfect 1:1 replacement for refined sugar. It has naturally occurring nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and 8 vitamins and amino acids.

Here’s a FACT: The coconut palm tree produces up to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar and uses only 20% of the resources.

Coconut sugar will not spike your blood sugar, making it a great food for diabetics.  Coconut sugar is a vegan food and great for gluten-free cooking and baking.

ingredients for Curried Apple Pumpkin SoupOn to the featured recipe, and here is what you will need:

1 large Granny Smith apple

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp. red curry powder

2 tbsp. ginger, fresh, grated or chopped

1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 cups fresh water

2 cups pureed pumpkin

Himalayan salt and coconut sugar to taste

Preparing Instructions

Melt oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Next add chopped apple and cook until golden in color. Next add onion, curry powder, ginger, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring until soften and when you are able to smell the onion and garlic.

Stir in the water and pumpkin (add more water if too thick). Simmer stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Season the soup with Himalayan salt and coconut sugar, if desired. Serves 4 soup bowls.

We found the soup has a warmer flavor of ginger when aloud to set for a day or two. Enjoy!!

 

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Healthier Baking with Sugar Substitutes

Healthier Baking with Sugar Substitutes

Sugar is a tasty ingredient that enhances everything by making it ‘sweet,’ and everyone now and then craves sweets.

It goes without saying, however, that anything in moderation is better, including sugar, because when sugar is consumed to excess it can wreak havoc with the way your body processes it, which leads to a rise in blood sugar levels and insulin secretion from the pancreas.

After a while the pancreas stops producing insulin because of extreme sugar consumption, and that’s never a good outcome for anyone. High sugar foods are also very fattening, and loaded with calories and is a culprit increasing the risk of  type II diabetes and heart disease.

For the sugar-health-conscious, there are quite a few sugar substitutes that people have been using for years to counter the effects of an over consumption of white processed sugar.

Sugar is used in so many food products that it can be difficult to avoid. However, there are many healthy choices that can be substituted for sugar when cooking.  All the sugar substitutes listed below are viable, practical and health-wise alternatives to processed sugar.

The difference in nutritional value alone should make anyone at least want to try to begin substituting and hopefully after a while sugar alternatives will become a way of life. It only takes a little bit of time to get used to living a sugar free lifestyle, and once you kick the habit, your body will love you for it.

Natural Sugar Substitutes

Pure Maple SyrupThis is an excellent substitute as it is wholly natural, tapped straight from its source, the maple tree and it has a boat load of antioxidants to keep your body in-tune while it fights off those nasty buggers called free radicals as they roam the body. Be sure, however, it is 100% pure maple syrup and not a ‘white sugar’ laden substitute.

Honey – An obvious choice, as it too is loaded with antioxidants and has been used for years by tea lovers around the world, but, don’t stop at your teacup. This gem can be added to anything that calls for plain white sugar and is undeniably a better choice. To get the most out of your honey, you may want to consider buying some that is locally and strawberriesorganically produced without any additives or preservatives. This will give you the best nutritional value from the honey in your cooking.

Pureed Fruit: Fruit has sugar, but, it is a natural sugar and so not nearly as harmful as the processed variety. Using pureed fruit in baking instead of sugar is a great option for healthier baking. Bananas, apricots and berries work great.

Apricot Puree: Apricots are high in nutrients with vitamin C, fiber, and iron. Add to baked goods in lieu of sugar, also eat it as a snack by mixing with plain non-fat Greek yogurt or enjoy it with hearty whole-grain bread.

No Sugar Added Applesauce: Another excellent substitute, as it’s sweet, natural and some bakers even prefer it to processed sugar because baked goods such as cookies are more because of it.

Raisins: Perhaps raisins used as a sugar substitute may not be your first plan but think about it. They’re sweet wholesome and delicious and when broken down in a food processer and added as a sugar substitute to your favorite dishes you may be pleasantly surprised how good your recipe tastes using raisins instead.

Cinnamon: This spice is grand for flavoring your favorite drink, hot or cold and many baked goods that you would normally add sugar to. Plus it has no calories and is great for an cocoa-powderimmunity boost, too.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: This one is another great sugar alternative, plus it satisfies the chocolate craving. If you want to kick it up a notch create your favorite beverage, unsweetened, and toss in cocoa powder with a dash of vanilla. It will soothe the senses without the extra sugar buzz.

Cranberries: If you love cranberries this is the sugar alternative for you. They’re tart and sweet at the same time. Enjoy delicious multigrain pancakes, scones or muffins loaded with cranberries instead of sugar. Cranberries, too, are loaded with antioxidants, so give your taste buds a treat and remember cranberries aren’t just for the holidays.

Dates & Figs: Both add flavor, dimension and tons of nutrition as a sugar substitute to a slew of recipes. Baked goods such as cakes, muffins, even hearty breads will soon become a staple in your breakfast, lunch or dinner regimen using figs and dates as a substitute for sugar.

Orange, Lemon or Lime Juice: If you love citrus you’ll do well to squeeze a handful of either into your next hot or cold drink and forego the sugar, besides your body will show its appreciation, especially around flu season, as citrus is loaded with vitamin C.

Coconut Sugar: One great alternative to refined sugar is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is made by heating the sap from coconut palms until it has been reduced to granules that can be used in the same way as regular sugar.

coconutIt has a similar flavor to brown sugar, but a lower glycaemic index, which means that it has less effect on blood and insulin levels within the body.

If you adore coconut, here’s a way to enjoy some without the guilt. Simply swap out the refined sugar with coconut sugar added to your favorite smoothie and clothes your eyes. You’ll think you’re on a tropical island and best of all it’s full of potassium, and let’s face it, are any of us really getting enough potassium in our diet, chances are a big ‘no.’  This also makes a great substitute in several baked goods.

Erythritol: This is a sugar alcohol that comes in powder form and made from a plant. It has been deemed safe and approved by the FDA.

 

 

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