Videos now online.

I have finally gotten around to putting some of Linda’s cooking videos online.  Under the tab “Your Pantry” you will find 2 series of instructional videos. 

Your Pantry

The first series is “After School Snacks”.  It consists of 5 new videos for making great gluten free after school snacks.

The second series is called “Gluten Free Whole Grain Quick Breads”.  It also has 5 different videos showing you how to make great whole grain quick breads that are all gluten free.

It always was Linda’s intent to have them available and be shared.

Cocoa and Chocolate are Good for You

Happy Hearts

February is a natural time to talk about love. Isn’t it best when we start with a healthy heart? And add chocolate?

cocoaheartsflickr

hot cocoa with hearts photo by dan taylor

There are good but preliminary scientific studies that show the cardiovascular benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate. The studies have serious sounding names.

For example, Effects of Low Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure and Bioactive Nitric Oxide. Or Acute Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Ingestion and Endothelial Function. In everyday language, the say that a small serving of cocoa or dark chocolate lowers high blood pressure.

And there are reports of either no effect, or an improvement on total, HDL, and LDL cholesterols. (Don’t stop taking your medications though).

Nutritional Benefits

One ounce of cocoa is a very good source of fiber (yeah), iron (double yeah), magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.

A 1-1/2 ounce serving of dark chocolate offers similar amounts of antioxidants as a serving of green tea, red wine, or blueberries.

Both cocoa and dark chocolate are very low in sodium and have no naturally occurring cholesterol. It truly is happy heart health food.

The most nutritious choice is natural cocoa powder. Nothing is added to it. Dutched cocoa is a reasonable second choice for cocoa, it has been treated with alkali. It has lighter color, milder flavor, fewer antioxidants, and mixes with liquids more easily.

When choosing chocolate, choose dark, the darker the better. Look for at least 65% cacao. The higher the percentage of cacao, the lower the amount of added sugar. Sugar reduces the cardiovascular benefits.

And white chocolate? Pfff! It lacks the nutrition and flavor of dark chocolate, so does not even count as chocolate to me.

Add five minutes of happiness to each day.

Pop a small piece of fine dark chocolate in your mouth. Close your eyes. Savor the silky texture and deep flavor as it slowly melts on your tongue. Quietly say “mmmmm.”

Or try some tasty ways to add cocoa to your day.

  • Toss gluten-free breakfast cereal with a spoonful of natural cocoa before adding the milk.
  • Make a smoothie. Cocoa with raspberries, strawberries, bananas or peanut butter are classic combinations.
  • Add a tablespoon to a recipe of chili, sloppy Joes, or BBQ.
  • Revive your afternoon with a steaming mug of hot cocoa, made from scratch. Put 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa, a tablespoon of sweetener, and a tablespoon of milk (any kind) in a mug. Stir until the cocoa dissolves. Fill the mug with milk and microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add some to a gluten-free spice rub and use it on pork tenderloin or chicken with the skin. Roast meat at 400-degrees until it is tender inside with a dark, flavorful coating.

give me the chocolate and nobody gets hurt

photo by procsilas

Or make a treat.

I eat chocolate in some form everyday. Usually just as plain dark chocolate, that “mmmm” thing. But I consider cocoa and chocolate as noble ingredients. And sometimes you want something a bit more special. Here are some suggestions.

Tofu Mocha Smoothie

Cocoa Quinoa Waffles

Cocoa Cherry Muesli

Silky Tofu Chocolate Pudding aka Chocolate “Moose”

Dangerous Three Seed Brittle

Chocolate Melt Away Cookies

Chocolate Angle Food Cake with Teff Flour

Cocoa Bean Brownies

Monkey Tails

And just to be careful, how to determine if your chocolate is gluten free. Does this have gluten in it?

What is you favorite way to enjoy cocoa? Chocolate?

Dangerous Three Seed Brittle

three seed brittle

pepita, black sesame seed, yellow mustard seed brittle photo by vsimon

Look at those shards, they could put an eye out.

This is not your grandma’s brittle. First off, there are no peanuts. Just seeds. Green pepitas (pumpkin seeds), black sesame seeds, and yellow mustard seeds. 

Grandma added baking soda, it foamed and added air to her brittle. But that also makes it opaque. I leave it out so the crisp sugar stays clear, and you can see the colorful seeds. 

And I slather it in dark chocolate, of course. It is dangerously good. So good it will become a holiday tradition at our house.

Move fast

This recipe comes together quickly, so quickly you must be prepared for every step before you start cooking. And it is dangerous to make. You boil sugar until it browns and emits tiny wafts of smoke. Then you have to work very, very quickly to add the rest of the ingredients, and thinly roll the molten sugar between two sheets of parchment paper.

You MUST read the recipe thoroughly and completely before starting. Have everything measured and all your equipment ready before you start cooking.

Caution

And this in only slightly in jest, put yellow caution tape around the kitchen before starting to protect small children, pets, and curious bystanders. At least tell everyone to Stay Out Of Your Way! This stuff is like lava, it is HOT.

3 seed brittle close up photo by vsimon

Three Seed Brittle

makes approximately a 8×12 inch 2-ply slab metric measures
1 cup pepitas 140 gm
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds 20 gm
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds 24 gm
1/2 cup granulated sugar 110 gm
1/4 cup light corn syrup 60 ml
1/8 tsp salt pinch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 5 ml
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips 100 gm

necessary equipment

2 12×18 inch pieces of parchment paper

a rolling pin

Measure seeds and put together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan put sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, just a few minutes. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. A rubber spatula will melt.

Cook until the mixture is the color of the toasted sesame oil. It will start to smoke. Remove from the heat.

Add the sesame oil and seeds. Quickly stir to combine. Return to heat briefly if the mixture has become too stiff to stir.

Immediately pour mixture onto one sheet of parchment paper. Top with the other piece and use the rolling pin to flatten to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Again, work quickly.

Remove the top piece of parchment and scatter the chocolate over the top of the warm brittle. Allow to melt, this will take 5 to 10 minutes.

If the brittle is too cool to melt the chocolate, you can put the paper with the brittle and chocolate in a 150-degree oven for a few minutes.

When the chocolate is melted, smooth with a knife or an off set spatula. Put brittle in the refrigerator to harden the chocolate, 20-30 minutes. Break brittle into irregular pieces.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. A pretty tin is best.

$10,000 Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest

This brittle was an entry into the annual Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure contest last year. This contest pairs their chocolate with a different list of “adventure” ingredients each year.

This year there are two $10,000 prizes!! One for sweet recipes, one for savory recipes. You can still enter. The deadline is January 3, 2010. Many Scharffen Berger products are gluten free. Click here for their statement.

Last year the adventure list included several seeds and palm sugar. This recipe was originally written with palm sugar. It is worth stocking in your pantry. But I am guessing that more of us have white sugar than palm sugar in the cupboard. The amount is the same, no matter which you choose to use.

Are you making candy for the holidays?