Monday, January 23, 2012

Morning Green Juice & Using Your MIXER As a Juicer

This. Is. Good. Stuff.

I've been drinking a lot of this green goodness lately. And can I let you in on a little secret? I'm using my KitchenAid mixer and attachments for juicing. 

Yes, I've turned my mixer into a masticating juicer. I have NO more room in my kitchen for another countertop appliance, so I figured out a way to successfully use a current counter-top appliance in place of an additional juicer. I may at some point pull out my mother's gigantic Champion juicer or even invest in a more compact quality juicer, but for now I'm happy with this setup. I'll tell you how to make it below.

I actually took a hiatus from juicing last week because I had surgical biopsy to rule out some things. I'm so THANKFUL to report that the biopsies were benign and the health issues I've been experiencing have nothing to do with a very scary diagnosis. (Thank you to those of you who were praying for me and keeping me in your thoughts.) It was a little stressful for a while, thinking it could be. I'm getting back to drinking this green juice this week now that I'm recovering, if moving a little slower.

If you read this blog with regularity, you've noticed that I've been missing for a few weeks. You've also noticed that things slowed down the last few months, and that I've mentioned health issues in a post or two. What I'm experiencing could still be attributed to the recurring and chronic active Epstein Barr virus (mono) I've been diagnosed with - the dreaded illness of my late teens coming back to bite me from getting too run down and stressed. It could also have been triggered by something we haven't figured out yet, but regardless, I'm greening it up these days.

I'm NOT giving up my beloved sweets, eggs and other acidic foods at this point but I AM making greens first and everything else step in line behind them, thank you very much. I already, like many of you, eat better than the average American. Probably even better than the above-average American. BUT I've been reading a lot lately about alkaline and acidic foods and realized that while I was eating well, I wasn't eating more alkaline than acidic on most days.

On a friend's recommendation, I picked up a copy of Crazy Sexy Diet. While I don't enjoy the profanity liberally lacing the pages of this book (I read a plethora of crime and legal thrillers that might contain such words, but my kids know adult books on my nightstand are off-limits - I like, however, to be able to keep a reference and cookbook out and not have to keep it out of my reading children's reach), I have learned quite a bit on the alkaline diet. I've also been enjoying the Alkaline Sisters blog.

I've been reading how disease has a harder time living in an alkaline body, and started thinking that making my diet more alkaline combined with more rest and new ways to refocus my stress might be key to getting over all of this and back to normal. It might be a slow process, but at least it will be a process in the right direction.

So, in the mornings I'm trying to drink fresh-squeezed lemon in warm water first thing. Then, trying to drink only juice until lunch. For lunch, I'm eating a huge amazing salad. Then I'll eat anything I want for supper as long as I include some greens. I'm also sprouting my own sprouts and adding them to everything. The family is loving it, and I'm not being sarcastic. It's wonderful! (I'll tackle sprouts in another post.) If I get hungry between meals, I let myself snack on some raw almonds or other alkaline snack, and perhaps a bite or two of very dark chocolate. 

If I "cheat," I don't sweat it because I don't consider it cheating, and I don't consider this a diet. I'm just making sure I get more than enough of my greens in most of my days - and it's really easy to do if you juice them or make a smoothie in the morning and have a huge salad at lunch. Even if you only did this once a week, which would be beyond easy, you'd be better off than not doing it all!

My morning green juice recipe is inspired by a couple of juice recipes that Kris Carr gives in Crazy Sexy Diet, but I've done my own thing with this to create a juice that is delightfully refreshing to my taste. Before this, my idea of "green" juice was juiced fruit with a bit of spinach and/or kale. Other than some lemon, there's no fruit in this juice and it's delicious! I've found that for me, lemon is key in making a true "green" juice delicious to me. It gives a great tang that I love.

Projected prep time: 5-10 minutes; Projected juicing time: 10-15 minutes, depending on your juicer (some are faster)
This recipe will give you about 9 ounces of juice using the mixer juicing method.
1 organic cucumber (organic so you can keep the peel on - peel it if it's not)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
2 stalks kale
1 small carrot (scrubbed & peeled if necessary)
Half of a whole lemon - peel, seeds and all

Cut cucumber, carrot and lemon into smaller pieces. It's not necessary to chop the spinach or kale.

Place pieces into feeding tube a few at a time and continue feeding until everything is turned into pulp or juice. If necessary, feed the pulp back through a few times to extract even more juice. 

Pour and/or strain juice into glass and enjoy!

If you are using the KitchenAid mixer method, you'll need the food grinder attachment and the fruit & vegetable strainer attachment. I already had the food grinder so only needed to buy the fruit & vegetable strainer. I noticed that they are sold together, but I priced them and it's cheaper to buy them separately. I had been eyeing this setup and wondering about juicing with it for a while. I noticed that some people wrote that they were using it to juice in reviews - even for juicing grasses - so I figured I'd give it a try. It works!

Again, like I said above, at some point I may pull out the Champion juicer I'm currently storing for my mom or invest in a smaller quality juicer but for now this works for me. It may take a little longer this way, but it's worth it for me to not have another counter-top appliance taking up space I don't have to spare.

Position a bowl to collect juice beneath the spout of the fruit & vegetable strainer attachment piece and another bowl to catch the pulp.

You'll be pushing the vegetables or fruit into this tube at the top:

The pulp first dropping into the bowl will be large and there is plenty of juice left in it.

Run it through again.

Run it once or twice more, and you'll hardly have any left:

Now, you'll see a finer pulp coming out of the sleeve at the top, where the auger is pushing it through:

A little of this will probably fall into the juice bowl, but you can easily strain it out with something like this strainer as you pour it into your glass. If you see a large amount falling into the bowl, grab it and put it on the tray to feed through the tube. When you are finished juicing the larger pulp, scrape this finer pulp off and place it in the tube to juice it. You'll get A LOT of juice out of this.

One more tip: I'm not sure how clearly I can explain this without you trying it yourself, but you'll notice that the auger doesn't reach all the way to the back of the tube until vegetable pieces are pushing the spring back. If you start out making sure that the pieces fall directly on the auger and give it a chance to push the spring all the way back behind the tube, then start to put more pieces in (don't jam the tube, though) then the pieces will be pushed forward and won't get stuck behind. Even if they do get stuck behind, it's not a huge deal and they'll find their way out. Just a little something I learned.

Now you're finished! For cleaning, I find that a metal cake tester or kabob stick is useful to push into the tip of the auger, which will have a little veggie pulp stuck in there. I also love the Avent bottle brush to clean out every nook and cranny and scrub the little holes. I have an older model of this brush, but I'm assuming this newer one is just as good.

Drink up that goodness!

Do you juice? What are your favorite vegetables to juice? I'm just getting started - I've been experimenting with several flavor combinations and plan to share more juice recipes from time to time. What juicer do you use? I'm curious to see if any of you with other juicers will get a different volume from this same recipe. Please let me know!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whole Grain Pecan Drop Biscuits

There is something about homemade biscuits that has always made my mouth water. Long before we were gluten-free, I made biscuits by rolling them out and cutting them. They sure were good, but became too time consuming for a busy family life.

Lamenting to my aunt one evening about making a really quick dinner, she suggested biscuits and eggs. The only problem was, I said, biscuits take too long. Why in the world wasn't I making drop biscuits (and in a muffin tin to make it easier!), she wondered. A really quick, easy and delicious drop biscuit recipe out of my Joy of Cooking? After that night, I never went back. Sure, I'd eat those great rolled and cut biscuits if others made them, but I would forever enjoy the simplicity - and taste - of drop biscuits.

And so it continues, even gluten-free. (I've been using Pamela's baking mix for them.) When I found out that biscuits would be our challenge for this month's Gluten Free Fatio Rally, I immediately knew I wanted to make drop biscuits, but with a whole-grain twist and the addition of pecans. A restaurant we loved before going gluten-free made the best (rolled and cut) pecan biscuits.

Many thanks to Gretchen of Kumquat blog for hosting this month's rally. Be sure to head over to her delicious sweet buttermilk biscuits recipe and also check out the recipes all of the other participants baked up for you this moth. Gretchen has all of them listed with links.

Logo designed by Anile Prakash

If you aren't familiar with the Gluten Free Ratio Rally, you can check out my rally page here, where I list all my other ratio rally recipes as well as the first rally month introduction/host post by Shauna Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. Baking and cooking with weight and ratio gives you independence in your kitchen that you can't imagine is possible until you try it for yourself.

I used Michael Ruhlman's ratio for biscuits in this recipe, adding a little more liquid for the drop biscuit factor. Ruhlman's biscuit ratio is 3:1:2: 3 parts flour: 1 part fat: 2 parts liquid.

One new thing I tried for this recipe is ground Salba (chia - Salba is just brand of chia I prefer) seeds. Usually when making recipes like this that don't contain a binder like egg, I might use a milled/ground flax slurry. I've been wanting to try ground chia, though, knowing how well chia sticks to everything when moistened, and Shauna's last rally post convinced me to try it. I'm so glad I did -- this is the way to go! And I always feel I need to make the slurry when using flax, but this isn't necessary when using the chia. I even tried it and it would have been a disaster to try to mix that sticky glob into the biscuit ingredients! I just added it into the dry ingredients and it worked like magic.

Can you see how tender these are?
When I first took these biscuits out of the oven, my hopes fell a little - they were cracked a little on top and must surely be hard and dry. I was delighted to be WRONG - the biscuits were delicious, tender and had a wonderful texture. We all loved them, and I hope you do, too.

(Happy New Year, by the way! I wished you all a happy one here, but just realized that this is my first post of 2012 - what a great way to start out the year with fellow gluten-free bloggers!)

Projected prep time: 15 minutes; Bake time: 20 minutes
(Printable Recipe)

3 oz. (84 g) brown rice flour
1 oz. (29 g) teff flour
1 oz. (29 g) sweet rice flour
1 oz. (29 g) millet flour
1 1/2 oz. (43 g) tapioca starch
1 1/2 oz. (43 g) potato starch
1/4 oz. (6 g or 1 tbsp.) ground Salba (chia) seeds
2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (2 oz. or 58 g) chopped pecans
*1 tsp. lemon juice or distilled white vinegar in cup to make:
*7 oz. milk (see above, or use soured milk)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease 12 regular-sized muffin tins.

Mix flours together with ground chia, baking powder and salt.

Place a teaspoon of lemon juice or distilled vinegar into cup and then enough milk to make 7 ounces. Let sit while you work the butter into the flour.

Cut or pinch butter into flour until crumbly. Mix in chopped pecans.

Make a well in the middle of the flour/butter/pecan mixture and stir the milk in until a dough is formed.

Drop spoonfuls into the muffin tins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until done in the middle. Bake on top rack if using a gas oven.


Don't forget to check out Gretchen's sweet buttermilk biscuits and all of the other amazing biscuits baked up for the rally this month. Thanks again, Gretchen!


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