Breakfast Time

What do they always say?  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?  I do agree that it is very important to start your day with a good meal.  There are many reasons why you should not skip breakfast but two of the most important reasons in my book are:

  1. If you are trying to lose or maintain your weight, breakfast is the meal that is going to kick start your metabolism. If you don’t eat something in the morning, you are wasting valuable time where you are not burning calories.  Calories in versus calories out is the mantra.  So if you don’t eat in the morning, your metabolism doesn’t start to burn calories, and now you are behind all day long.
  2. Starting your morning with a breakfast that contains some protein allows your body and it’s blood sugar to be more balanced all day long.  Try it out for yourself.  If you eat protein at every meal and every snack, you will NOT have that dip in energy in the afternoon. If you have too many carbohyrdrates in the morning and it is not balanced with protein, no matter what you eat the rest of the day, your energy will not be as even and you will experience dips throughout the day.

Experiment with it and see what makes you feel good all day long.  Is it eggs and toast? Oatmeal with nuts? Chicken Soup?  Every person is different.  See what makes you feel the best.  If you like something hot to eat in the winter time, then try out this yummy breakfast!

Hearty Morning Cereal

*This is another delicious recipe based on one in “Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair. This was my go to cook book for a long time.  The cereal is like a cream of wheat, but more nutritious and packed with protein. You may use any grain that you like in place of the oat groats, millet and amaranth. I just like this combination because it offers some natural sweetness to the cereal. Oat groats do not contain gluten so if you are gluten free, then this combination will work for you.

½ c. oat groats

¼ c. amaranth

¼ c. millet

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup sunflower seeds

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Lightly toast all of the above ingredients in an un-greased skillet. Toast only until a distinct nutty aroma is apparent. Grind all ingredients in a coffee grinder or blender, until fine. Cook 1/3 cup of the ground cereal with one-cup milk, milk alternative or water in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until thick. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Store the rest of the ground cereal in the refrigerator or freezer.

Kitchen Experiments – Millet “Pizza” with Greens

Growing up in an Italian household, my Mom would make something that she called polenta pizza.  I am not sure why they called it pizza but it must have something to do with the italian word for pizza because pizza it was not!  It was more like a thick polenta with a delicious crust on the outside and a firm center.  She always made it with minestra which is basically greens and beans.  In recent years she has made it when my uncle would come to visit as a bread substitute since he has celiac and can’t eat wheat or gluten. As a kid, I did not like the greens and beans but I loved the polenta pizza.  We would eat it with maple syrup making it more like a dessert.

Since doing the ALCAT plan, I have not been able to have corn, cornmeal or polenta but I can have millet, which when ground is pretty similar to cornmeal. So I decided to give millet pizza a try.  What I love about this pizza is the crusty exterior!  It is very simple to make and yet versatile and delicious.  My family and I still love it smothered with real maple syrup.

millet pizzaTo make the pizza, you need to have a cast iron skillet.  Well, maybe not need, but I think the crust is best when cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Basically you make a thick polenta or millet by cooking 1 cup ground millet or cornmeal with 2 cups water.  Spray or grease your cast iron skillet with olive oil and then spread the millet or polenta in the skillet and spray or grease the top of the mixture as well.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 35 – 45 minutes, then flip the pizza to crust up the other side. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.  I found the cooking time to be a little less with the millet than with the polenta.  Serve warm!

When I made it the other night for dinner, I sautéed escarole with some sun-dried tomatoes and butternut squash and then added cannellini beans and served it on the side with the millet pizza.  It was delicious.

millet and greensFor dessert we had millet pizza with maple syrup!  It brought back some good childhood memories.  Enjoy!

Kitchen Experiments – No Bake Nut Butter Cookies

So I was thinking one day about cookies.  What kind of cookie could I make on day 3 of my rotation diet when there are no eggs and the grain is millet?  Sometimes this Alcat diet presents some very critical problems!  Well, somehow I remembered that I had a recipe somewhere for some no-bake cookies, so I decided to take a look.

The recipe looked interesting but of course I could not have all of the ingredients that it called for so it was time to experiment.  Basically the no bake recipe included peanut butter, sugar and oats mixed together and then rolled into balls.  So, what could I do if I had millet instead of oats?

chocolate ballsI decided that I needed to have a nut butter cookie that included chocolate, so my first attempt was peanut butter, agave syrup, cocoa, puffed millet and shredded coconut.  They were very good but the texture was a little strange with the puffed millet.  I liked them but I forgot to write down how I made them.  Well, time for another try.

The coconut in the recipe inspired me to have a nut-butter cookie with cocoa and coconut.  This was a winner!

nut ballsPeanut butter was good, but I recently was able to add back in pistachios and cashews – so I pulled out the Vitamix and made some cashew-pistachio butter.  Yummy!  That is a good combination! I decided that the texture of the millet was too weird and instead just used the coconut.  I rolled them into balls and then rolled them in extra coconut.  You have got to try these.  They are so simple, but they are delicious! Here is the recipe:

2/3 c. nut butter

1/2 c. agave syrup

1/2 c. cocoa

1/2 c. coconut + extra for coating the outside of the balls

I mixed the nut butter with the syrup first, then added the cocoa and mixed it thoroughly.  I then added the coconut.  Roll them into balls and then roll the balls in the extra coconut.  Done!  Takes about 10 minutes and it makes about 25 balls depending on how large you make them.

Try them!  Use any nut butter you have on hand and substitute any liquid sugar you like, maple, brown rice, or even barley syrup.  Roll away and you will not be sorry!  A healthy snack to have at anytime!

Kitchen Experiments – Stuffed Zucchini

It was millet day again on the Alcat Rotation Diet and I was once again trying to find something new to make.  Millet day also includes zucchini, butternut squash and cannelini beans.  I thought about what I could do differently and then I remembered seeing a recipe in a magazine once of stuffed zucchini made with the whole scooped out zucchini instead of the typical halved and scooped out zucchini.  I thought I should give it a try.

For ease sake, I cut the zucchini into 3 pieces and then used a melon baller to scoop out the flesh.  I put the zucchini in a pan with some coconut oil and cooked it over medium heat.  I added some thyme and some frozen butternut squash cubes and let it cook until the zucchini was soft.  I added the cannelini beans at the end and also cooked leftover millet.  Basically, I made a stuffing using the vegetables and millet.

I placed the zucchini open side up in an 8″x8″ pan that I sprayed with oil. I stuffed the zucchini with the millet stuffing mixture and covered the pan with foil.  I baked it in the oven at 375°F for 30 minutes.

stuffed zucchini I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a very tasty dish and that it froze really well.  I just had leftovers last night for dinner and it was just as good the second time around.  I will be putting this on the menu for this summer when I have an abundance of zucchini growing in my garden!

Eat well!

Kitchen Experiments – Millet Roti

I have been sitting on this recipe for about 3 months, afraid to try it because it just looked like it would take a long time to make.  Then a lovely lady named Nafisa came to the office and we got talking about my restricted menu since starting the Alcat diet and how we are always looking for new recipes to try with the grains that we can eat, like millet.  She said that as part of her diet, she makes a millet flat bread every week for her husband and she would be happy to teach me.  Her idea reminded me that I had this recipe for a millet flatbread tucked away waiting to be made. She inspired me to pull out the recipe again and take a look!

Well, she was right!  It was really not that complicated, though it is time-consuming!  Basically you take millet flour, or in my case fresh ground millet, and you place it in boiling water for just 2 minutes and then let it sit.  After it sits, you mix the millet and the water to form a soft dough.  It really is surprising how easily it pulls together into a soft ball.  After allowing it to cool, you take it and form it into balls.

roti ballsThe recipe suggested that you roll the balls between the sheets of a cut plastic bag but I used a bottom sheet of wax paper and a small rolling-pin and rolled them flat.  It was pretty simple.

rolled rotiTo cook the roti, I used a cast iron skillet sprayed lightly with olive oil.  I wish that I would have had something bigger so that I could have done more than 1 roti at a time because it did take a long time to cook them individually.  Now, I have made pita before so I was familiar with the cooking technique, but if this is your first time trying a flat bread, don’t be discouraged; it really is an art to get them to puff. Most of mine did not fully puff though I did get a few.

puffed rotiThe cookbook Flatbreads and Flavors describes the technique really well in their pita bread recipe.  This is a beautiful cookbook for anyone interested in making some fabulous breads!

  flatbreads-flavors-jeffrey-alford-hardcover-cover-art

Basically the technique is all in the flipping!  Flipping early and often in the beginning for some reason allows the bread to puff.  Well, puffed or not, the roti was delicious.  I slathered mine with ghee and ate it hot out of the pan.

I hope you won’t be intimidated like me and not try this roti millet flatbbread because it was well worth the effort!  And it froze beautifully so you might as well make a double batch!

Click here for the recipe!