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Mighty Christmas!

Wood Grain - Mighty Christmas | Tiffany Lane

Oh the joys and sorrows of Christmas. To many, this season brings peace and comfort; good tidings. To others, it’s filled with painful memories. To most in our society, Christmas certainly brings with it stressful shopping adventures and crowds aplenty.

Through all the flashing lights, sparkly tinsel and old, white haired men dressed in fluffy red clothes, sometimes it’s difficult to see the real meaning. The meaning that was born thousands of years ago, to later sacrifice himself to save us.

I know, I know, not everyone reading this (1) celebrates Christmas, and (2)  believes in Jesus. But I am here to tell you that I believe Jesus was born, lived, died, rose again, and now reigns with God the Father in Heaven. Thank goodness for freedom of speech!

My intent is not to push my beliefs on you, but to be honest about who I am, what I celebrate, and to ask that you atleast consider why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

On that note, I wish you and your families sweet memories and good tidings all year long.

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Recipe: Wheat Free Fig Bars

Wheat Free Fig Bars | Tiffany Lane Handmade

You’ve been waiting and now they’re here. Wheat Free Fig Bars!

Remember when I made these? And remember how awesome they were? Well I recently started reducing my wheat intake (as well as my dairy and corn intake) per my naturpathic doctor’s advice and decided to recreate my favorite fig bars, but wheat free.

Like most of my baked goods, these have just a touch of sweetness from the honey, so they’re wholesome enough for breakfast, yet decadent enough for dessert.

Wheat Free Fig Bars | Tiffany Lane Handmade

WHEAT FREE FIG BARS

Makes 1 8×8 Dish

Filling Ingredients

1 recipe fig jam (or about 1 1/2 cups thick fruit jam of choice)

Dough Ingredients
1 cup gluten free flour (coconut or brown rice work well)
1 cup coconut, finely shredded for baking
1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat) or other non-dairy substitute

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation
Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients until well combined and it forms a slightly sticky dough.  Divide dough in half and spread one half evenly into your greased baking dish, reserving the other half for the crust.  Spread filling on top into an even layer.  Take the remaining dough and gently spread on top of the filing towards the edges of the dish until it forms an even layer as the crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden and puffed, then remove from the oven to cool on a wire rack. Once completely cool, cut bars as desired and store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for 3-5 days or freeze for up to one month.  Storage tip: storing bars like these in the refrigerator may make the dough wet from condensation, which is why I prefer to store mine at room temperature.

Wheat Free Fig Bars | Tiffany Lane Handmade

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Recipe: Fig Jam

fresh figs - 2eat2drink[Photo Courtesy of 2eat2drink]

Sweet, fruity and decadent.

Figs are a favorite of mine and I can’t describe how excited I was to receive a pound of them in my CSA box a couple of weeks ago.  What better way to use them than to make another favorite of mine, fig jam?  And coming up I’ll share with you my new wheat free fig bar recipe!

Also, sorry I don’t have a photo of the finished product.  I made this the other night as part of my new fig bars and made the bars without taking a photo of the jam. Oops.

FIG JAM

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients
1 lb fresh or dried figs (fresh preferable), quartered
1/2 cup water (for fresh figs) or 1 cup water (for dried figs)
2 tbsp fresh citrus juice (orange works well)

1-2 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)

Preparation

Place diced figs into a small saucepan over low heat.  Add water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally.  Continue cooking until figs reach your desired jam-like consistency.  I cook mine for 20-30 minutes.  If the jam is too thick, add more water one tablespoon at a time (keep in mind, thicker is better for the fig bars).  Add citrus juice for flavor and preservation.  At the end, taste for flavor and add the honey or maple syrup if desired.  I find that I do not need any extra sweetener, but you may prefer a sweeter jam.

Keep up to date with me so you don’t miss my reinvented fig bars, this time they’re wheat free!

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Recipe: Maple Nut Granola

I love granola.

maple nut granola 1 - tiffany lane

That may actually be an understatement, but we’ll go with it.

For the past year or so, I’ve committed to making my own granola, and boy is it even tastier than the boxed stuff! But the one thing I’d really been meaning to do is create my own recipe. Something I could call my own.

maple nut granola 2 - tiffany lane

Of course I’ve gathered bits and pieces from recipes all over the web, specifically some of my favorites: Naturally Ella, 100 Days of Real FoodHow Sweet It Is, Eat Life Whole, Fox in the Pine. This, you could say, is a compilation of all my favorite recipes, with my most loved ingredients, in the proportions my taste buds go crazy about!

Something else I love about this recipe? It makes a lot of granola, which is great for me since I’m basically an addict and it leaves enough left over to give as heart felt, homemade gifts, without putting too much of a dent in my own stash.  Yes, I’m selfish when it comes to granola.  But it’s just that good.  Get ready to indulge.

maple nut granola 3 - tiffany lane

And in case you’re worried about getting bored with this granola (not quite sure how that could happen in the first place), here are some ideas for enjoying it: as breakfast (or a snack, or dessert) with whole milk and bananas; over plain whole milk yogurt (sweetened yourself with honey, maple syrup or homemade jam) and topped with fresh fruit; over ice cream or frozen yogurt; by itself right out of the jar; crunchy topping for chocolate covered bananas (or other fruit); a topping for mashed banana mixed with nut butter (great fresh or frozen).  Gosh, the list could just go on.  How are you planning on enjoying it?

MAPLE NUT GRANOLA

Makes Approx. 6 Cups (fits nicely on a standard size rimmed baking sheet)

Ingredients
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almond meal
1 cup flaked coconut, raw and unsweetened
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup cashews, chopped (raw or roasted)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (raw or roasted)
1/3 cup flaxseed, ground
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla

Preparation
Preheat oven to 275F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk maple syrup, melted coconut oil and vanilla until combined well. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir until all dry ingredients are coated evenly.

Spread onto a lined baking sheet (parchment or Silpat mat) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and toss, then return to oven to bake for another 20 minutes. Remove, toss and repeat process twice more, for a total baking time of 80 minutes, or until granola turns golden and toasted.

Remove granola from oven, toss and allow to cool. Granola will harden as it cools. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.

Doesn’t it make a lovely gift?

maple nut granola gift - tiffany lane

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Health: The Diet Conundrum

strawberries - naturally ella Photo Courtesy of Naturally Ella

I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of hearing about the latest and greatest diet.  It seems everyday someone has a newer, better, faster, cheaper version.  But what’s all the hype?

My diet is just that, my diet.  The term “diet” has this new connotation attached to it so hard (like super glue) that anytime I mention my diet, someone almost certainly asks me which one.  Huh?

The dictionary definition of diet is simply: “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats,” (Dictionary.com).  I habitually eat whole, unprocessed or minimally processed, mostly plant based foods.  All the research I have done (and continue to do) has helped me decide this is the healthy way I want to eat and live. Yes, it’s a lifestyle.

We’ve talked about processed foods here before (see Food + Recipes and Health), so I won’t regurgitate it all again, but a huge take away is that moderation is key (which should go for many aspects of life, not just eating).  I vary my diet between whole grains, nuts, beans/legumes, dairy, fruits and vegetables, with the very occasional seafood or meat addition.  Since I’ve been eating clean (as some call it), I feel better: more energy, healthy weight.

For the record, being healthy is not just about diet; hydration, exercise and rest are just as important.  It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.  The hardest parts for me are passing up sweets (which is why I make so many healthier sweets at home to satiate my sweet tooth); staying hydrated (since I forget to drink water – don’t ask me how or why), exercising as much as I know I should (since sometimes I am just tired and lazy), and getting enough rest (since my mind doesn’t always stop when my body does).

How do you live out your healthy lifestyle? What’s keeping you from fully experiencing a healthy lifestyle?

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Recipe: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

peanut butter oatmeal cookies - tiffany lane

These are the best gluten free cookies I’ve ever had.  I made them recently for some friends and no one even knew they were GF.  Sadly and happily, there were no leftovers.   These cookies were a hit!  Find the recipe below.

On another note, some of you may be wondering what the heck “gluten free” means and why there is so much buzz all of a sudden.  I came across two articles recently you might find interesting, both from real food diet perspectives: What’s the Deal With Gluten? via Nourish With Karen and Food Allergies: Gluten via 100 Days of Real Food.  Something to keep in mind: if you are allergic or have sensitivity to gluten, there are lots of overly processed foods labeled as gluten free.  I cannot stress enough that this does not make them healthy for you!  You’ve still got to read ingredient labels.

For the record, I do not eat a primarily gluten free diet, nor do I think everyone needs to eat a gluten free diet, contrary to some popular beliefs.  There are, however, many people with allergies to gluten as well as many others with sensitivities/intolerance.  This is not to say I don’t enjoy some gluten free foods every now and then, but that’s merely because some foods just happen to be gluten free and that I like to vary my diet, switching up my grains, and sometimes not eating grains at all.

Which brings up another good point: not all foods and meals need grains!  Studies have shown that the American population has drastically increased the amount of grains eaten with meals even from 40 years ago.  As a population, we eat more grains and meat than fruits and vegetables.  Does that seem a little backyards to you too?  My advice, eat more plants.  If you want a good read, check out Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food.  I love his tagline: “Eat food. Not too much.  Mostly plants.”

Thanks for sticking with me through all that.  Your reward?  The amazing recipe this post is about in the first place.  Enjoy!

OATMEAL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Adapted from Nourish With Karen

Ingredients
1/4 cup coconut oil, slightly melted
1 cup natural peanut butter (just peanuts, no sugar, vegetable oil, etc)
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup finely shredded coconut (for baking)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 3/4 cups rolled oats

 

Preparation
Preheat your oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, cream coconut oil and peanut butter together.  Beat in honey, eggs and vanilla.  Add the baking soda, sea salt, coconut, flaxseed meal and oats, mixing until well combined.

 Refrigerate batter for 15-30 minutes, longer is okay but not necessary (to solidify the coconut oil, otherwise batter/cookies will be too thin).

Drop 1 – 1 1/2″ balls of cookie dough onto a pan lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat (if you like a flatter cookie, feel free to press each down lightly with a fork).  Bake for approximately 10 minutes until tops and edges just start to turn golden.  Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes until firm enough to handle, then move them to cooling racks.

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Recipe: Whole Wheat Tortillas

For Christmas hubby got me a tortilla press.  Major score!  I’ve been playing around with corn and whole wheat tortilla recipes and found a great whole wheat tortilla recipe from who else but Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food.

whole wheat tortillas - tiffany lane

The recipe is perfect, so I didn’t change a thing (gasp)!  Jump over to 100 Days of Real Food for the Whole Wheat Tortilla recipe.

Need some ideas for your new favorite tortillas?  Over the weekend, hubby and I made a butternut squash and black bean enchilada casserole from How Sweet It Is.  Note, her recipe calls for actual enchiladas, but I found that there was much more filling than would fit into my rolled tortillas.  Instead, I put a single layer of tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish, poured in the butternut squash and black bean filling, added another layer of tortillas and topped it off with the sauce, cheese and extra sage.  It was delicious and completely worth the time, especially with the homemade tortillas.  Mmm…leftovers.

And I know I mentioned playing around with corn tortilla recipes too.  I haven’t found a recipe I like, so I’m planning on making some alterations to make my perfect corn tortilla with my organic blue corn Masa Harina (thanks, hubby).  I’ll keep you posted!

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