Kasha Krunch: A Healthy Homemade Cereal [Recipe]

So last week I went on a bit of a rant about cold cereal. I said that basically all cold cereal is garbage. And what I meant by that was that almost everything you can get in a box from the center aisles of the grocery store is … garbage (or TRAY-ISH, as my Texan grandmother likes to say). 

Of course there’s the obvious stuff: the sugar cereals like Lucky Charms, Cocoa Pebbles, or my personal college-era favorite, Reese’s Puffs. But don’t be fooled by the “high fiber,” “heart-healthy” cereals like Chex, Cherios, or Kashi Go Lean either. Sure these cereals are higher in fiber and lower in sugar than kids’ cereals, but those are basically candy. Better-than-candy does not = good. It equals less bad. And honestly, only very slightly so. Cereals that have gone through an extrusion process to turn the grain into an “o,” flake, puff, pebble, pop, whatever shape, contain proteins that are now denatured and potentially neurotoxic.

“… All Part of a Balanced Breakfast”

Remember the cereal commercials from the 80’s and 90’s that ended with “… all part of a balanced breakfast” and then showed you what an “ideal” breakfast looked like? Let’s talk about what’s in that picture. Extruded cereal puffs, milk, 2 pieces of toast with a pad of butter, fruit, and a glass of orange juice. Put a different way, that’s a picture of sugar, sugar, sugar, a little fat, and a glass of sugar. Wow! If I ate that, I’d never make it out of the house! Who said this was a balanced breakfast? I’d venture to say that most people don’t eat toast with their cereal, so let’s take that out. But we still have a whole lotta empty carbs, calories, and sugar with very little nutrient-density to show for it. 

healthy homemade cereal

Check out this super retro picture I found of another childhood favorite. image sourced from thefeedingdoctor.com through Creative Commons

Enter: Kasha Krunch – a Healthy Homemade Cereal

Two years ago, I gave this cereal as Christmas gifts to my friends and family — it was super cute in big mason jars with ribbons and labels. While getting through airport security with it was a bit of a challenge, the end result was my mom begging me to make more for her the next time she came to visit. Needless to say, it’s a winning recipe. It goes great with milk or yogurt — add fresh berries for some extra phytonutrients — but it’s also a perfect trail snack. Just stick it in a baggie and eat it by the handful. 

Kasha Krunch

Kasha (another name for buckwheat groats) is a pseudocereal, which means it’s more of a seed than a grain. It’s gluten-free, higher in protein than cereal grains (like wheat, oats, and rice), and is considered an “ancient grain” having avoided the selective breeding of big agriculture. It’s pretty much the same food as it was a hundred years ago.

I do feel obligated to say that if you’re strictly Paleo or sticking to a low-carb plan, this cereal might not be for you — pseudocereals are a debated topic in the Paleo community, but I think most strict followers don’t eat them. This isn’t a strictly Paleo or low-carb site, but since I do share recipes in those categories regularly, I felt the need to point that out.

Moving on!  Here’s the recipe.

  • http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Kasha1-150x150.jpg)">
    Kasha Krunch
    Yields 6
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    Prep Time
    3 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    Total Time
    34 min
    http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Kasha1-150x150.jpg)">
    Prep Time
    3 min
    Cook Time
    40 min
    Total Time
    34 min
    Ingredients
    1. 3 cups raw buckwheat groats (Click to buy a CWB fave)
    2. ½ cup raw almond butter (click to buy a CWB fave)
    3. ½ cup chopped raw pecans
    4. ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
    5. 2 tablespoons REAL maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
    6. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    7. pinch of sea salt
    8. ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit of your choice (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
    2. Spread raw buckwheat groats across a large cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, shuffling them around about halfway through, until slightly golden
    3. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl as best you can
    4. Immediately out of the oven, stir in warm toasted groats into the bowl until everything is evenly distributed (the heat from the groats will soften the nut butter and allow it to coat everything nicely)
    5. Let cool to room temperature
    6. Place in a tightly sealed glass storage container and store in the fridge
    Notes
    1. This recipe is super versatile -- you can switch out almond butter for your favorite nut butter, trade the seeds and nuts for other varieties, and play with the amount of maple syrup you use to vary the sweetness. Enjoy Kasha Krunch with milk, yogurt, or as a dry snack.
    Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/
     

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How to Make and Store Your Own Fresh Sweet Potato Puree

Happy New Year! 

It’s been a wonderful, relatively relaxing holiday season. I took a little break from the computer the last few days to rest my hand and my mind, and it’s been quite revitalizing. I’m happy to share that my new service offerings are getting some attention from interested readers, and that this year is already promising to be an exciting ride! If you’re on the fence about starting a wellness program with me, consider the free intro call to get an idea of what I do and how I might be able to help you achieve your goals, and we can take it from there. Simply send me a message from the Contact Me page to inquire, and I’ll get right back to you. 

Sweet Potato Puree

In this, my first post of 2015, I’m going to share a very simple set of instructions for creating an ingredient that often comes in a can — Sweet Potato Puree. I like making sweet potato puree myself, because I’m avoiding the BPA from the cans, and I’m also controlling how long it cooks and what varieties of sweet potatoes I use. (You’d be surprised at how many you can find!) It also just tastes better fresh, as most things do.

The most common use of sweet potato puree is probably to make pie around the holidays, but there are really quite a few delicious things you can do with this simple raw ingredient. This week and next, I’ll share an absolutely decadent Sweet Potato Soup and a simply delicious Sweet Potato Pound Cake, but those two examples are just the beginning. Sweet potato puree works great in smoothies, baking, gluten-free pancakes, and in casseroles. It works as a thickener in some recipes, and it’s even delicious as a snack mixed with Greek yogurt, chopped pecans, and a touch of maple syrup. Try it! It’s delicious. 

You Say Potato, I Say… 

Before we go any further, let’s clear up the difference between a sweet potato and a yam. It’s commonly thought that the root with bright orange flesh eaten around the holidays is called a yam. It’s not. It’s a sweet potato. Yes, a yam is a type of sweet potato, but very few true yams are sold in the US, according to the sweet potato experts over at North Carolina Sweet Potatoes. They get into the nitty gritty, so feel free to check out all the differences between a yam and a sweet potato there. An important distinction is that eating a raw sweet potato is perfectly harmless while eating a raw yam is bad news. 

I’m only going into this because I’ve been wrong about it in the past and was once again second-guessing my sweet potato taxonomy as I was preparing this entry. So there it is. In truth, this distinction in name doesn’t really matter all that much here in the US unless someone tries to correct you, in which case you can refer them to this post and tell them to shut their sweet potato pie hole. Aren’t you glad we cleared this up? I know I yam. 

homemade sweet potato puree

Roasting the Sweet Potatoes

The cooking step for making this puree could go a few different ways. The easiest way is to rinse the whole sweet potato, poke a few holes in it, wrap it in foil, and bake it for at least an hour. Then simply scrape the meat out, discard the skin, and pound out as I’ll show you in a moment.

Because my potatoes were peeled for a recipe that didn’t end up happening, I was left with 2 giant peeled potatoes that would have been a mess to bake skinless. This is why I roasted. As a side note, I thought it might take less time to roast this way, but in the end, it didn’t really. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Chop two large peeled sweet potatoes into equal-sized chunks
  3. Fill two loaf pans or one small deep pan (not a cookie sheet) with the chunks 
  4. Rinse and drain, then add in about an inch of water in each pan
  5. Scoop small amounts of coconut oil out of the jar with a spoon and place them evenly along the top of the potatoes
  6. Place in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes
  7. Remove the pans from the oven and stir, making sure the potatoes that were on the top are now on the bottom and vice versa to avoid any of them drying out 
  8. Check the bottom of the pan to make sure nothing is getting brown or burnt. If so, add a bit more water to the bottom.
  9. Place back in the oven and roast for another 30 minutes 
  10. Potatoes are done when a fork easily mashes the pieces

homemade sweet potato puree

Puree

For some reason, I wanted to complete this project without using my stove. But more importantly, my main goal was to end up with pure sweet potatoes, not watered-down mush that would be hard to store. The desire to skip the stove and not end up with a “baby food” consistency eliminated the immersion blender and brought out the kitchen mallet! The following instructions are the next steps whether you bake the potatoes whole or roast them in cubes. The puree should keep in your fridge for up to 3 months.

  1. Once the potatoes have cooled to room temperature, transfer them to a gallon sized freezer bag (I only needed one for 2 giant sweet potatoes, but just make sure you have enough room to work; otherwise split it into two bags)
  2. Zip the bag up leaving just about an inch or two of the bag open to allow for air to escape
  3. Using the flat side of a kitchen mallet, hammer out the potatoes until they become one smooth consistency
  4. If you’d like to portion out the potatoes into 1 cup servings, do so with smaller freezer bags, otherwise it works to freeze it all together
  5. Label with the date and freeze in the flattened state for a quick defrost when you’re ready to use it

NEXT UP: Sweet Potato Soup

Get excited for this decadent, warming soup that’s sweet all on its own. I didn’t add even a drop of maple syrup, and I couldn’t believe my taste buds! See you Friday!home made sweet potato puree

[VIDEO] Why Make Your Own Salad Dressing?

What would you do if you found out that your efforts to improve your health were actually sabotaging it instead? Would you want to know some simple kitchen hacks to right the wrongs? You’d be surprised at the hidden ingredients lurking in of some of the staple foods in your kitchen right now — foods you thought were contributing to your healthy diet.

Raise your hand if you consider salad a “health food.”

As the wellness program manager of a large hospital, people always assume that I will want salad for a company lunch. After all, salads are healthy and that’s my whole deal right?

Maybe.

It all depends on the details. What type of greens? What type of dressing? What else is on the salad? And very importantly, will I be NOURISHED after eating this salad?

There’s a big difference between a salad made with ice burg lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, croutons, and store-bought fat-free honey mustard dressing and one made with colorful mixed greens, fresh shredded cabbage, sunflower seeds, and a homemade Dijon vinaigrette. Ingredients matter — especially that dressing!

homemade salad dressing

so many choices, and none of them great

All salad dressings are not created equal.

The type of dressing you put on your salad can make or break the meal, both flavor-wise and nutrition-wise. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that ZERO store-bought dressings are worth buying, you’d be hard-pressed to find one without unnecessary additives that you couldn’t replicate without them at home. And I have my money on the one you make at home tasting better 100% of the time.

Put down that bottle!

Bottled dressings are often full of sugar and highly processed oils. The lovely pictures of vegetables you see on the front label doesn’t often reflect what’s actually inside the bottle (learn how to decipher food labels). Here are a few examples of labels found in the center aisle of the grocery store:

homemade salad dressing

Full Fat Ranch Dressing: As you can see, the first ingredient is soybean oil. Setting aside the fact that virtually all soybeans and a huge proportion of rape seeds (the seed used in canola oil) grown in the US are of the controversial GMO variety, both of these oils are highly processed, often bleached, deodorized, and heated at high temperatures, rendering the oils rancid before they are even added to this concoction. Add that to the fact that soy in general is tough to digest and can irritate your GI tract, and both are full of inflammatory Omega 6 fats — I think we can leave this one on the shelf. But isn’t “low-fat” healthier anyway?

homemade salad dressing

Low Fat Ranch Dressing: Let’s look at the main ingredients. Water (which is free at home) and 4 different words for sugar (corn syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, and modified food starch), make up 98% of what’s in the low-fat model — no, low-fat is not healthier. Using this sugar-filled dressing would completely undermine your good, nutritious intentions.

So far, we’ve only looked at Ranch dressing, and some of you might be thinking, “No one thinks Ranch dressing is healthy. She’s cheating! I only use vinaigrette on my salads.”

Au contraire!

homemade salad dressing

“Olive Oil” and Vinegar: Why is the third ingredient a blend of EVOO and soybean oil in a salad dressing labeled Olive Oil Vinaigrette? Because soybeans are cheap, subsidized products of agribusiness, the byproducts of which have found themselves in nearly every box and bottle on the shelves of your supermarket, including most chocolate!

Why would you pay a premium for water, oil, vinegar, and sugar, along with all those other unpronounceables that we’ve seen in all three of these labels? (by the way, “natural flavors” almost always means MSG, which you’ve seen explicitly listed on some of the other labels here as well.)

Make Your Own Salad Dressing

Now that I’ve convinced you that you’re buying garbage in the dressing aisle, let’s talk solutions. Watch me transform ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen into a delicious, nutritious dressing with real ingredients. This simple recipe takes seconds to prepare and if you double it, you can store it in a glass jar to use all week.

I’ll be posting additional how-to recipe videos in the coming weeks that will include more fun salad dressings, along with other “Why Make Your Own” favorites.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to ensure that you don’t miss out!

 

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