On the Quest for a Better Girl Scout Cookie

It’s that time of year again.    Everywhere you turn there is someone offering you a Thin Mint.

I fondly remember the days when I sold Girl Scout cookies.  Going door to door asking people I’d never met to buy cookies.  My Mum stood at the end of the sidewalk,  smiling and supporting.   I was the always the leading cookie seller in our troop, and I was REALLY, REALLY  proud of that fact.

Times have changed.  A LOT.   I can’t imagine sending Grant, who’s now 6,  door to door to sell anything.   What they ask our kids to sell, at least food wise, isn’t anything I would ever even consider buying at the store myself.   So do I need to buy it to support my kid?   I don’t think so.  Will I still support my kid, or the Girl Scouts?   You bet!

I have no problem just writing a check, or handing the girls selling cookies a $5 bill.    But it does tend to take people by surprise!  I think our PTA president was shocked when I emailed her to ask her how much they would make if Grant had sold 50 tubs of cookie dough (which turned out to be shocking low)  so I could write a check instead.    She gladly let me know AND she got more money out of the deal.

So are you wondering why I won’t even consider eating a Girl Scout cookie these days (aside from the gluten)?  Check out Fooducate’s reviews of what is actually in Girl Scout cookies.    No thank you to hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and potentially GMO ingredients.  I’m sure that they were just as bad back when I sold them.      The difference is, I know better than to eat this stuff now.

That being said, I still want a taste of that nostalgia.  Selling all those cookies also meant I ate A LOT of them.   Thin Mints and Carmel deLights  in particular.     Did anyone else ever eat an entire row of Thin Mints in one sitting or was it just me?

I’ve noticed a slew of recipes popping up by great bloggers I love.   I thought it was time to put them all in one place and start testing them out.

Here are a few I’ve found so far…

GF = Gluten Free , SF = Refined Sugar Free, DF = Dairy Free

Thin MintsGF – from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Thin MintsGF / DF – Silvana’s Kitchen

Thin Mints GF/SF, Paleo – from Elana’s Pantry (added 2/25/13)

Samoas (Carmel deLights) = GF/SF, Paleo – from Elana’s Pantry

Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties)GFfrom Gluten Free on a Shoestring

Do-si-dos (Peanut Butter Sandwiches) – GF – from Easy Eats (subscription required to view)

Lemonades – GF – from Gluten Free on a Shoestring  (added 2/25/13)

and because it just looks SOOO good….

Girl Scout Cookie Lara Bars – GFfrom Chocolate Covered Katie

For those of you that are not GF and want a cookie that contains wheat, do a Pinterest search and there are tons of homemade recipe options for you to try!

And remember…
Cookies are still cookies!  These recipes are real food, NOT health food.   Please eat in moderation! (yes, this as much to myself as it is to you !)

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Getting Back on Track… and Cookie Dough Balls

It’s been a while, hasn’t it.   Sorry about that.    WP_000032

The last two months have been filled with craziness, sickness and tears.  I lost my Grandpa just after Christmas.   I haven’t felt like doing much of anything.   I’m off track in so many ways right now.    But, I’m not going to beat myself up over it  (ok I will, but I’m trying really hard not to).   I’ve decided that I’m going to declare February 1st as the start of my New Year!

With my “New Year”  some exciting things happening……

I’m FINALLY going to try Plan to Eat (a meal planning service) and will keep you posted on my thoughts.

I’m taking two FREE classes through Coursera:  An Introduction to US Food System (via John Hopkins) and Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (via UCSF).  I’m sure I’ll have lots of wonderful things to share from both classes.  If you are interested, you can still join either class.

And just because I wasn’t feeling good, doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about great things to write for you.   Coming your way soon….

    • A better way to fight the Crud
    • Beating Motion Sickness
    • Better Pain Management Options
    • How we went Gluten Free
    • Updated resources & a reading list.

Sorry, I’m rambling.    I do that.    I can hear you, you’re saying just give me that recipe already!  Right??  Well, here you go.

Cookie Dough Balls from Chocolate Covered Katie.   She actually calls them Cookie Pops which is a cute idea too.   I call them Cookie Dough Balls because that’s EXACTLY what they taste like.   Nothing’s better that raw chocolate chip cookie dough – except these, because they have no eggs and are safe to eat!    I made them with them with GF oat flour (which you can make by grinding oatmeal in your food processor – just measure after grinding).    They are highly addictive and a HUGE hit in my house!  Enjoy!

I’ll talk to you soon 🙂

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

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It’s hard not to like this simple dish.    It’s even won over a few cauliflower “haters” I know.   It works just as well for a weeknight dinner as it will Thanksgiving and is easy to double or triple the recipe.   I can’t tell you how well it reheats, there’s never been any left to find out.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower – chopped into 1 to 1.5 inch florets
Olive Oil (for coating – 1 or 2 tbsps)
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   In a 8×8 glass Pyrex dish toss the cauliflower and the olive oil.   Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.    Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.    Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast for an additional 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted but not crunchy.   Serve warm.

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s Veg Out on Thanksgiving

Oh, if only I wasn’t talking about food…  but alas, I am.

Earlier this week I talked about changing up your Thanksgiving menu.  Here are some of the yummy things I’ve been testing for my contribution of side dishes.

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This is the Wild Rice, Fruit & Pecan Stuffing that I had mentioned.   It’s not my recipe – I stumbled across it and OMG and I glad I did!   This stuff is WONDERFUL!    Crunchy, sweet,  nutty…. it’s a downright party in your mouth.    It’s SO good no one will even care that it’s healthy!

A couple of notes:
1.   This has the recipe wonderful benefit of never having to see the oven and can be partially prepped the day before.

2.   Wild Rice takes a long time to cook and different brands cook differently.    Make it ahead (it reheats great) and plan to babysit it a bit unless you already know how the brand you are using will cook.

3.   You may want to make a double batch(or second if you don’t have a big enough pan to double).   This stuff will go really fast.  And if not, aren’t leftovers the best part of thanksgiving?

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This is my yummy Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower.   Simple and easily multipliable.   It doesn’t look like much, I should have put it in a pretty bowl, but trust me it’s great.   Glenn would never eat cauliflower before and now even asks for seconds!

I’ll leave you with a few more delicious things that have hit my inbox this week.    Watch this weekend for Cranberry recipes yet to come.

Here are some other great recipes to try…

Vegetarian Thanksgiving  – Take Part

Brussels Sprout Salad with Red Onion and Pecorino  – Not With Out Salt
(Brussels Sprouts are still on my “Scary” list and this still looks good!   I’ll have to try it after we get back from Thanksgiving!

Sweet Potato Casserole (Grain Free / Paleo) –  Deliciously Organic

A Grain Free Thanksgiving – Against all Grain
I really want to go to her house for Thanksgiving!  Great recipes for every course!

Holiday Recipe Guide – Klesick’s Family Farm

And some resources:

EWG’s Healthy Thanksgiving Guide

10 Ways to Healthify  Your Thanksgiving, Stay Sane and Eat Like Royalty  – Fooducate

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gluten Free Focaccia Breadsticks

Since we found out that my son, Grant,  was gluten sensitive, bread has become a big issue in our house.    Grant LOVES bread.   Even before his diagnosis, I had been baking all of my own breads.    I was having issues with all of the preservatives in bread.   My body DID NOT LIKE THEM.    I’d eat a piece of bread for lunch – I’d feel like I’d been hit by a truck all afternoon.   In retrospect,  this was probably a gluten and preservative issue.  But have you looked at your bread label lately?   If not,  go do so!   Do you know what everything in there is?   I’ll have a post coming soon on wonderful breads (regular & GF) that you can make your self at home – simply! (I already hear your skepticism – but really you can!)

For now, here’s a yummy for you….

This recipe is super easy because it uses Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix as a  flour base so you don’t have to pull out 5 different kinds of flours.   For those of you that don’t eat Gluten Free (GF) – this is still a great 100% whole grain option that passed that test with dinner guests who didn’t know it wasn’t made with wheat!

Gluten Free Focaccia Breadsticks

1 Bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF Pizza Crust Mix  (see purchasing notes at bottom)

1.5 cups  Warm Water

2 Eggs (or 2 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed +6 Tbsp water for egg free option – let sit for 5 minutes before using)

4 to 6 Tbsp Olive Oil – Divided

2 Palms full / about 3 Tbsp Dried Thyme (you can use fresh and reduce the amount by about half – just didn’t have any when the idea struck!)

GF Cornmeal or GF Flour for pan

Sea Salt to top

Parchment Paper

Get out your stand mixer.    Empty the yeast packet (included with the mix) into the bowl and add 1.5 cups of warm water.   Let sit for about 5 minutes to let the yeast activate.   After the 5 minutes is up, add in your eggs (or replacement) and 2 tbsp olive oil.  Mix until blended on low speed.  Still on low speed, add in about half the flour mix, add the Thyme and then the rest of the mix.  Blend on low until all flour is taken into the dough then mix on medium high for about a minute.

Now comes the messy part.   If you’re an experienced GF baker – you know to expect sticky dough – and this fits the bill.    For those of you that aren’t used to working with GF  dough, now is the time to roll up your sleeves, take off your rings and get your hands doughy.    I’ve found the easiest way to work with this dough is with wet hands.   Any spoon or spatula you use just makes a mess.

Wet those hands and use them to scrape the mixer blade of the dough and then divide the dough into to two sections.   (If the dough is sticking to your hands – go get them wet again!)

Cover (go eco and use a stainless bowl instead of plastic wrap) and give it a good 30 minutes to rise in a warm location.   I like to preheat my oven to 425 degrees and place the bowl by the vent.   Your oven will get good and hot and it will help the rise.   That said – don’t expect a big rise out of this – you won’t get it and that’s OK!

While your dough is rising, pull out your baking sheet, parchment paper, cornmeal (or flour) and sea salt.    Line your pan with the parchment and give it a good coating of cornmeal  (think of the amount used for rolling out a pie crust).

Note:  the mix makes enough for 2 batches.   You can refrigerate the 2nd portion and use within the next 3 days.  If you want to make it all at once, I’d do it in 2 bakings to avoid mushy centers.

When your timer dings – go wet your hands again, pull a section of dough from the bowl, and place it in the middle of the parchment .   (At this point you will be spreading the dough – if your sink is more than a step away from the pan – you’ll probably want a small bowl of water to dip your hands in to keep them wet. )   With wet hands work the dough into a rectangle, re-wetting hands as needed.   You want your dough to be about 1/2 inch thick.    Don’t worry about making it too pretty.   Rough edges = Artisan!

After you dough is spread take a serrated knife and cut it into about 12 – 14 pieces.   I cut across the middle and then divide according to what looks right.  (Don’t worry if they close back in on each other a little bit – they’ll still break apart after baking.)  Brush with olive oil until nicely coated but not dripping.   Sprinkle with Sea Salt.

Bake for 18-24 minutes on center rack of oven.   Check after about 15 minutes for browning.   You want a nice crispy crust – medium browned.    Edges should be slightly hard to the touch on tapping.

Cool enough to handle, then break apart and enjoy!   Best when still warm – they didn’t last long in our house!

Another option you can try is to spread in a jelly roll pan (dough about 1/8″), top as noted above and bake for 14-19 minutes.   This comes out more like a flat bread/cracker – but still very yummy.

I plan to play with different herb combinations with this.   I will keep you posted on what I find that I like.   If you try something and it turns out yummy, please let me know!

*Purchasing Notes:   Bob’s Red Mill products can be found in the health food sections of most traditional grocery stores. I tend to buy mine online (and in bulk) from Vitacost or Amazon because the pricing is so much better.

 

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blueberry Bliss French Toast

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Doesn’t this sound fancy?  Well, it couldn’t be more simple.

Simple is what I needed yesterday morning.     I had gone to bed early  (ok, fell asleep on the couch) and was the first one up.    Reveling in the glory of a quiet house, I snuck downstairs,  fixed a pot of coffee and fed the dog (there’s no peace until you do).

Before the coffee was done brewing my sleepy eye 5-year old, Grant, rambled into the kitchen and proclaimed he wanted cartoons.    With a deep sigh, I sent him back upstairs to find his Dad.   Oh how I had longed for a quiet morning to sit and read in the seldom seen Pacific Northwest sun.

Well, I got it.   Grant went back upstairs, crawled into bed with his dad and they both slept for 2 more hours.  BLISS!

I sat in the sun, sipped my coffee, crunched on a crisp apple and finished reading a novel.     The end of a book always brings a great sense of satisfaction for me.   I love when I have a few minutes to sit and contemplate.

This morning though, I wasn’t thinking about the book.    I was thinking about how good it felt to have 2 hours of interrupted time to myself and ALLOWING myself to do what I wanted to do.    It’s all too often that I let my to-do list dictate what I do with my  kid-free time.    Sound familiar?

I told you I’d give you a challenge each week.   Here’s the first one:

CHALLENGE 1:   Take an hour this week to do whatever it is that brings you bliss.   (or get REALLY crazy and take an hour a day)

It’s guaranteed  to make you smile.  Smiles = healthy!

And in honor of this, Grant got one of his favorite Sunday breakfasts.   French Toast.

Blueberry Bliss French Toast

It’s easiest to start the syrup first and let it cook down while you make your French Toast

for the French Toast
6 pieces 100% whole grain bread (gluten free works too!)
4 eggs (preferably organic, free range)
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
Butter for pan

In a low, flat dish (like a small glass casserole) crack your eggs, whisk them up, then wisk in the cinnamon.  DSC_4164 Soak your bread in the egg mix until it soaks up the egg mixture, flip and duplicate for other side of bread.  You want your bread soaked through, but not soggy.   (How long this takes depends on the variety and freshness of the bread.)   Preheat your griddle.  Once hot, give it a quick once over with a stick of butter.    Cook each piece of toast 1-2 minutes a side until nicely browned.  Top with Blueberry sauce.

for Blueberry Syrup (start before French toast)
2 cups frozen blueberries (preferably organic)
2 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup (preferably organic, should read 100% Pure on the label)

Place frozen blueberries and maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat.    Bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat and simmer until French Toast is done. Spoon over French Toast and ENJOY!DSC_4183

© Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Alicia Myers Leifheit and FoodisaJourney.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.