Peanut Butter Compost Cookies

by Amanda Paa on February 1, 2015

Chewy peanut butter cookies made with chocolate chips, coconut, crushed Chex cereal & pecans. Use up those bits & pieces hiding in your pantry!

Peanut Butter Compost Cookies | with chopped nuts, cacao nibs, coconut & chocolate chips
Being held captive indoors on super cold days does it have its benefits, like knowing there’s nothing else to do besides the chores you’ve been putting off. For me that includes cleaning out the pantry, rustling up the shrunken vegetables in the refrigerator and tossing the half-used bottles of condiments that “just weren’t that good”.

As I was digging through the baking drawer I found little bits of this and that. Coconut flakes, a handful of chopped pecans, crushed corn Chex in a mason jar (that I had used for gluten-free breadcrumbs), a near empty bag of chocolate chips and some cacao nibs. And then there were three different jars of peanut butter, all opened. Seriously Amanda.

Peanut Butter Compost Cookies | made with chopped pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, cacao nibs & corn chex
Peanut Butter Compost Cookies | gluten-freeLots of sweet components…. I couldn’t let them go to waste, so I convinced myself that making treats from them was being resourceful. I’m calling it “Green” baking.

Certainly all good on their own but completely irresistible when put together in the form of these chewy Peanut Butter Compost Cookies.

They resemble a “grown-up” version of my mom’s monster cookies that she’d make for an after-school snack – hers super peanut buttery and packed with oats, chocolate chips, and M &M’s.

Peanut Butter Compost Cookies | gluten-freePeanut Butter Compost Cookies | heartbeet kitchen [click to continue…]

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Winter Curry Grain Salad with Butternut Squash

by Amanda Paa on January 23, 2015

Winter Curry Grain Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, a bright burst of color and naturally gluten-free.

Winter Curry Pilaf with Butternut Squash & Pomegranates | heartbeet kitchen
I debated whether or not I should post this recipe. Why would anybody want or need another squash recipe – with all the other great ones floating around the internet, and oh I don’t know….. the fact that I have a cookbook full of them?

But after savoring the leftovers for a few days and each time the salad just getting more flavorful, I realized it was a keeper. I owe all of my inspiration to Laurie’s fabulous Wild Rice, Roasted Squash & Kale Salad. Using what I had on hand, this Winter Curry Grain salad is a combination of rice and millet, kale, roasted vegetables and pomegranate seeds dressed in a citrus curry dressing.

It’s nourishing and colorful, hearty yet fresh, and celebrates in-season eating.

Winter Curry Pilaf with Butternut Squash & Pomegranates | heartbeet kitchenAlthough I prefer kabocha and buttercup squash for baking and sturdy red kuri for braising, butternut is a great choice for roasting. Since it has more moisture (and less starch) than other varieties, the high heat dries it out, resulting in more concentrated flavor and helps to sweeten this relatively vegetal tasting squash.

I know pomegranate seeds have been all the rage the past few years, but I’m just starting to use them more. I particularly love adding them to salads and side dishes for their contrasting tartness and crunch. Their garnet color and pretty shape reminds me of jewels.

And this Citrus Curry Dressing…. As I mentioned, the recipe is based on my talented friend Laurie’s. She’s brilliant in the kitchen, and one of my best girlfriends. The only things I changed were to take out the minced red onion because I roasted some for the salad, and I reduced the amount of fresh orange juice because I only had one on hand. I also added cilantro because it brightens the curry even more.

Jeweled Butternut Squash & Curry Grains Salad {gf, vegan}Now that you have a gorgeous salad to put on your menu for next week, whether that be a healthy main dish or leftovers for breakfast with a poached egg, there’s something I feel like I need to talk about.

I haven’t mentioned it to many people, but the last few months have been trying in terms of my health. I’ve been gluten-free for 4 years, after a long time coming. My past includes several autoimmune issues that show in my nervous system and skin issues. Things like severe chicken pox, shingles for the first time when I was in 8th grade and subsequent times thereafter, solar dermatitis, hives if I exercise outside, rashes on my legs & inflammation. I finally figured out the gluten issue when I began to have severe occipital nerve pain (the two large nerves that run on top of your brain) & painful sores all over my scalp. Yuck, I know. And ouch ouch ouch. It was horrible and no one could figure out what was going on. I saw 7 doctors over the course of a year and finally one of them suggested the correlation between gluten/autoimmunity/inflammation.

Cutting out gluten made me feel a lot better, but in the last six months, worsening heartburn, intense headaches and a “I just celebrated my 21st birthday hangover” are what I wake up to nearly every day. It comes with a dull throbbing in my right ear along with inflammation around my forehead and eyes happens frequently. It intensifies immediately after drinking even a sip of alcohol, eating any type of soy, beans or cured meats. Little did I know they have something in common – high levels of histamine.

I was always curious why the hives and solar dermatitis didn’t stop when I cut out gluten, but the occurrences were less. Not fun, but I’ve felt like I could just live with it. However with all of the other symptoms, signs now point to a leaky gut + a histamine intolerance. I’m doing lots of testing with a doctor who specializes in auto-immunity and thyroid issues, hoping to come up with the answer so I can try to start healing.

Jeweled Butternut Squash & Curry Pilaf | heartbeet kitchen Low-histamine and mast cell disorders have not been studied as much here as in the UK. Chris Kesser explains it best by saying,  “Histamine is a biogenic amine that triggers the immune response. A primary cause of histamine intolerance is an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that make histamine from undigested food, leading to a buildup of histamine in the gut and overwhelming the body’s ability to catabolize the excess histamine. This causes a heightened sensitivity to histamine-containing foods and an increase in symptoms that are commonly associated with allergies.”

So why am I just feeling the effects now? Well, basically our gut & its lining keeps degrading over time if there is an underlying issue. We keep filling “the bucket” and at some point it will overflow, which is what I imagine is happening now. Because there is so little information on it and some of the symptoms can mask themselves as other things, I’m waiting for the test results and doctor’s recommendation.

If it happens to be this, healing of my gut will have to be done through food, because truly food is the best medicine. The low-histamine protocol is similar to AIP, but different because of the high levels of histamine in such things like fermented foods. And in the end, everyone’s triggers are different so it will be a matter of experimenting.

Winter Curry Grain Salad with Butternut Squash & Pomegranate

serves 8, adapted from Relishing It

1 (2 pound, medium size) butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
½ of a medium red onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup long-grain white rice, thoroughly rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked millet, (about 3/4 cup dry) using this method (about 2/3 cup dry millet)
1 medium bunch of lacinato kale, leaves removed from stems and cut into very fine, thin strips
½ cup of pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then spread onto a large baking sheet. Toss the red onion with remaining olive oil and salt, then spread onto another baking sheet. Place both in oven, and check on onions after about 8 minutes. Take them out when they are browned and have shrunk. Stir the squash at this time and roasting squash for another 25 minutes, until it can easily be pierced with a fork, but not mushy.

While vegetables are roasting, add the rice to a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. And cook for about 35 minutes, or until rice is tender, but not mushy. Taste to be sure. Drain rice and return to empty pot. Set on stove and cover, letting steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep warm.

Add roasted vegetables, kale and cooked millet to a large bowl. Pour hot rice over the top of it and mix all together. Cover with a cloth so that the warmth stays inside and the kale will wilt slightly from the heat. After 5 minutes, stir again and add dressing along with 1/2 of the pomegranate seeds, stirring to combine. Pour onto a platter or nice salad bowl for serving and top with remaining pomegranate seeds. Can be made one day ahead of time, will last for 4 days in refrigerator.

Citrus Curry Dressing (barely adapted from Relishing It)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet curry powder
1/4 cup hazelnut or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, simmer the orange juice until slightly reduced, you should have about 1/3 cup juice. Let cool, then add all ingredients to a tall glass jar and use an immersion blender to puree. It should be creamy and completely uniform. You could do the same with a regular blender too. Will keep in refrigerator for one week.

37 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Fall, Featured Recipes, Main Dish, Recipe Box, Salad, Seasonal, Vegetarian, Winter

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce | heartbeet kitchenTomorrow marks 31 years I’ve been trying to figure out this thing called life. Some stumbles, some falls, a few leaps and even a couple of cartwheels. Regardless, they’ve made me who I am today. We have all times when we wish we could change certain things about our lives, or control the outcome more often, but I feel like the surprises are what make life worth living.

With one year in the 30’s under my belt, I’m finally starting to feel like an adult – most days that is. Let’s just forget about the time this summer when I locked myself out of the house with a pan of cookies in the oven. Can you say crispy critters?

At 30 I became a published author (still crazy to write that), spent a glorious week in Aruba, left a job but found out the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and definitely decided that brunch is the star of all meals.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce | with Cascadian Farm organic berriesAfter making slow mornings more of a habit, it was time to buy myself a waffle maker. Hip hip!

I’ve been experimenting, but I have to say, these Simple Gluten-Free Waffles are just the way I like them. Light and crisp, naturally sweet from the whole grains, and the perfect vehicle for this juicy Blueberry Cardamom Sauce. Or anything for that matter.

It’s peak season for citrus right now, but even being an adult isn’t going to make it my favorite choice. If both fragrant grapefruit slices or juicy blueberries were in season, I’d pick the berries every time. But you probably know, the fresh ones in the produce section right now are bland, with no sheen or sparkle, and void of their vibrant flavors.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce |heartbeet kitchenHence the reason I rely on Cascadian Farm organic blueberries, and their whole selection of frozen fruit during the winter. Like the potatoes that I wrote about in this brunch recipe, berries are in the top 15% of conventional produce grown with pesticides. A major reason why buying organic for these priority fruits and vegetables is so important.

Frozen when plump and juicy the fruit is perfect for baking, smoothies, and delicious extras like this bright and flavorful blueberry sauce. And just like the waffles, it’s super simple – cooked on the stovetop for 10 minutes with just a touch of maple syrup, the cardamom and a pinch of cornstarch to slightly thicken it.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce |heartbeet kitchen The waffles are adapted from the Einkorn Flour Cookbook, the beautiful work of my friends Shanna and Tim who write the blog, Food Loves Writing.  They were some of the first people I met through blogging. Just step into their space and you’ll be drawn in by the wonderful writing, stories and gorgeous real food recipes too.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce | heartbeet kitchenIf you haven’t heard of Einkorn flour, it’s an ancient grain that many who can’t tolerate wheat are able to digest properly. Compared to modern varieties of wheat, Einkorn is lower in gluten, as well as higher in minerals and antioxidants. Although my auto-immune system didn’t tolerate it several years ago, many of my gluten-intolerant friends have found success with it so definitely give it a try!

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce | heartbeet kitchenSince Einkorn behaves much like gluten-free flour in baking and has the nutty taste of whole grains, it’s quite easy and natural to be able to adapt the recipes from the book. I love these waffles because not only are they delicious, but they’re quick and easy, no overnight proofing. And they’re naturally sweet from the oat and millet flours I used, just a touch of maple syrup just a tablespoon of maple syrup is all the batter needed to make it just right.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles with Blueberry Cardamom Sauce | heartbeet kitchenI’m off to bed for a quick sleep, and then birthday waffles to celebrate. Hope you enjoy them too. Xo

Many thanks to Cascadian Farm for sponsoring this post, a company I regularly use in my kitchen. I’m so grateful they provide all of us with accessible, organic fruits and vegetables. And thank you for understanding that I carefully choose the brands I work with that help make this site possible. All opinions are 100% my own.

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles

Simple Gluten-Free Waffles | adapted from the Einkorn Cookbook

makes 4 belgian waffles, adapted from The Einkorn Cookbook

85 grams millet flour*
50 grams oat flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup melted, cooled butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With your fingers, rub in the lemon zest so that its scent permeates throughout the dry mixtures. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, vanilla, egg, milk and maple syrup. Slowly add wet mixture to dry ingredients, whisking as you go to fully incorporate. There should be no flour streaks showing. Let batter sit while you preheat your oven. I turn mine to the #5 heat setting, #7 being the hottest. I like mine crispy :) Pour a scant 1/2 cup batter onto waffle iron and cook until browned and crispy. Serve warm with blueberry sauce.

*You can use 1 cup (125 grams) of Einkorn or regular all-purp0se flour in place of the millet and oat flours.

Blueberry Cardamom Sauce
8 ounces frozen Cascadian Farm organic blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (freshly ground is preferable)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Add blueberries, maple syrup and cardamom to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir into cornstarch. Turn heat down a bit and cook for another 5 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Can be made three days ahead of time, stores well in refrigerator.

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Spaghetti Squash Hash with Bacon & Kale

by Amanda Paa on January 7, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Hash | with bacon & kale (gluten-free, paleo)Oh Minnesota…… these bone-chilling, dress like an “abominable snowmen” days make you so hard to love sometimes. But you know what? I still do. In fact I think it makes my heart grow fonder.

There is a reason for you.

Without the frigid temperatures and gray days, there are things that would not feel the same.

Spaghetti Squash Hash | hearbeet kitchenLike the softness of your favorite wool socks being slipped on as you climb out of your warm bed, shielding your feet from the cold and creaky wooden floors.

Like sinking into a hot bubble bath with a new book and a glass of red wine, letting your mind escape to another place.

The crunch of the snow, the smell of birch wood burning in real fireplaces.

Spaghetti Squash Hash with Bacon & Kale | heartbeet kitchenLike the comfort of beef braised all day long while a big pot of creamy polenta bubbles on the stovetop, keeping the house warm.

And slow mornings with a hot, savory breakfast like this Spaghetti Squash Hash, specks of crispy bacon and slivers of wilted kale in each bite.

Spaghetti Squash Hash with Bacon & Kale | gf, paleoIt works beautifully as a nourishing lunch or dinner too. Full of color and different textures, it’s the type of thing we need when we’re dreaming about the bright green grass and sun of warmer days. And of course it features some squash love of the spaghetti variety. The golden strands are truly a work of beautiful vegetable art.

Spaghetti Squash Hash with Bacon & Kale

I made this hash to serve one, a perfect fit in my new Minnesota cast-iron skillet given to me and made by American Skillet Co. out of Madison, WI. (it’s about the size of an 8 inch skillet, and the recipe can be doubled to serve two in a 10 inch skillet.)  It’s just what I needed to add some more Midwest pride to my kitchen. They’re currently manufacturing 4 states and are ramping up to continue making their way to all 50. The skillets are coated with organic flax seed oil and are pre-seasoned by hand over a hardwood fire. I love the passion they put into their work. And how great of a gift?

If you’ve had trouble with spaghetti squash getting mushy that comes from overcooking it. I have detailed tips in the recipe to prevent this.

1 small spaghetti squash (mine was 1 ¼ pounds) or half of a larger one
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
4 small leaves of kale or 2 large, cut into skinny threads (called a chiffonade)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash in half vertically and scoop out seeds. Rub inside of flesh with olive oil and 2 big pinches of salt. Place cut side down on a sheet pan and roast for 12 minutes. Turn over so cut side is facing up and bake for another 15-20 minutes (this helps pull some of the moisture out so it won’t be as soggy), or until flesh is softened and will pull into strands when you use a fork to remove them. Be careful not too overcook – which is common with spaghetti squash. When the strands will pull away from the outer skin, it is done. It should be al dente like pasta. Remove from oven and use a fork to remove the strands, much like you would do to pulled pork. (Use strands from one half if you are using a large squash.)

While squash is roasting, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Let it get hot, then add bacon. Cook until crispy, turning heat up slightly if needed. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. Crumble it when cool.

Leave about 1 tablespoon bacon grease in the pan and dump the rest. Add onion and garlic to pan and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes, until translucent. Stir in kale and about 1 tablespoon water. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until kale is wilted. When squash is done roasting an you have removed its strands, place them in a towel and squeeze some of the water out.

Add the spaghetti squash to the pan and use a fork to gently stir and combine, so kale distributes itself through the squash. Stir in bacon, vinegar, black pepper and 2 big pinches of salt. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Make a well in the middle of the hash, that reaches the bottom of the pan, and crack one egg into it. Cook on medium heat until the yolk is as set as you prefer. Enjoy!


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Salt-Roasted Beets and Carrots

by Amanda Paa on December 29, 2014

Salt Roasted Beets & Carrots | heartbeet kitchenAfter having a brown Christmas (quite unusual for Minnesota), we received a blast of bright white snow that’s now snuggled on the branches of big pines and house canopies, much like these Salt-Roasted Beets and Carrots. And to tell you the truth, they look mighty cozy, don’t they? Kind of how I feel on a cold day covered in blankets with a good book and a cup of joe.

And here we are, at the end of another year! Filled with both joy and sadness, trials and tribulations and so much to be grateful for.

Salt-Roasted Beets and Carrots | heartbeet kitchenSometimes I get overwhelmed with all the talk about about diets to start the new year, everything classified as good or bad, with no in-between. Instead I like to focus on it being a clean slate, so fresh and ready to painted with more rich experiences. With new people that will come into our lives and change it for the better, and new opportunities we may have never dreamed of.

Salt & Herb Roasted Vegetables | heartbeet kitchenYou won’t find me talking about a detox or cleanse like you’ll see in every magazine or plastered all over Pinterest. I’ll be eating and writing as I always do, striving for healthy balance. That is nourishing myself with real food, mostly plant-based and baking sweet treats in moderation.

Even throughout the holidays, when the buzz is all about warding off extra calories at parties and gatherings, I try and honor my body’s want for a little indulgence and the need for rest, a way of mindful living. I try and shut out the negative noise, and look forward to the time with others, the reasons for gathering, and the food, all of which nourish the body and soul.

Salt Roasted Beets & Carrots on a bed of Lentil Quinoa PilafAnd that’s one of the things I’m going to try and do more throughout the entire year – to be in the present. And be glad. Sometimes I get caught up thinking about the things I need to do in the next few days and all of a sudden I’ve missed part of a conversation. Or I’m trying to multi-task as I eat, send an email, check my voicemail, etc.

Things like taking the time to enjoy your meals without distraction can be so satisfying. I’ve started putting away the computer and phone, just focusing on eating as an experience. It allowed me to really taste the nuances of the herbs and the sweetness in these beautiful salt-roasted beets and carrots, a technique I’ve been wanting to try since Laurie posted about it.

Salt-Roasted Beets & Carrots over a Lentil Quinoa PilafYes, it’s a lot of salt, but don’t let that turn you away. They don’t taste too briny, in fact they’re perfectly seasoned from the outside in without any work.

The sugars caramelize inside their skins as they roast, and they cook evenly, becoming soft enough to pierce with a fork and moist. Interestingly they don’t leach any color like when you roast them in aluminum foil; the snowy salt stays perfectly white.

Some recipes suggest mixing the salt with egg whites to make the crust, but I was out of eggs so I did a dry-roast as Leite’s Culinaria suggests, barely adapting the recipe. As you can see, the salt creates a thick layer around the vegetables and eventually starts to crack. It feels like the end of science project when you break open that outer shell, a nerdy food-lovers heaven.

Salt-Roasted Beets and Carrots | heartbeet kitchenMore than ever, thank you all for being here, for reading, for listening and enriching my life. Cheers to another great year for all of us, xo.

(p.s. – These pictures were taken with my iphone and at the time I didn’t plan on posting about it, but after tasting the vegetables I just had to share! Hope you don’t mind.)

Salt-Roasted Beets & Carrots

Barely adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

This is more of a loose recipe, depending on the size of pan and amount of vegetables you use. Beets and carrots work well because they have an outer skin that works very well for the outside-in seasoning technique. I used a shallow 9 x 13 pan and about 3/4 pound carrots and 4 beets, both red and golden. We ate them straight out of the oven as we peeled away their hot skins, but they were so delicious served upon a bed of brown lentils & quinoa (here’s a recipe for a similar pilaf), with some mashed avocado as shown in the pictures above.

1 pound kosher salt
2 tablespoons mixed, whole peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 springs fresh rosemary
3/4 pound carrots, cleaned and trimmed
4-5 beets, cleaned and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large shallow pan, add half the kosher salt, peppercorns, rosemary, and thyme, mixing them thoroughly. Nestle the carrots and beets in the salt mixture, then cover with remaining salt. It’s okay if they mostly covered, but completely. Bake until the veggies are tender throughout, 35-40 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly. Take out the beets and carrots, then peel the skin off, using a knife to get a start. You can run them under water and use your fingers to rub the skins off if you are having trouble. They are amazing when they’re hot, and they make great leftover salads when served at room temperature.

Salt-Roasted Beets and Carrots | heartbeet kitchen

25 comments   • • •   as featured in:   Fall, Main Dish, Recipe Box, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian, Winter