Surviving a hurricane with spelt and squash

Over the last few days, hurricane Sandy has roared through our area.  It was the biggest and longest storm I have ever rode out and it was a little unnerving.  Whenever we have a big storm hit the area, I prepare by using up whatever fresh food we have in the house.  I try to turn what I can into easy to eat, grab and go type food.  This serves two purposes: 1) it uses up what is in my fridge lest we lose power and the food spoil, and 2) if I cannot cook because we have lost power, we have some ready to eat food at our fingertips.  Muffins and quick breads are some of the things that I usually make.

When I am in survival mode, I am not at all concerned about carb content or the health benefits of what I am feeding the family.  This isn't to say that I don't care about what we eat, rather I am more concerned THAT we eat.  If I can manage a healthy twist on whatever I make, that is a bonus.  Saturday, when I was preparing for Sandy to hit, I was able to make something healthy and delicious and I wanted to share it with you.

I started with a recipe for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread which I found on All Recipes.  Since I was working with groceries on hand, I decided I could sub out the butternut squash puree for the pumpkin.  I cooked up my squash (bake, uncovered, for 75 minutes until it was fork tender) and sat down with the recipe to see what else I could do to low carbify the mix.

I recently picked up a bag of spelt sprouted flour at the organic market.  The flour is high in fiber and low in carbs so it sounded promising and almost too good to be true.  The makers claim that it can be substituted one for one with regular whole wheat flour.  The spelt flour has a slight bean-y smell to it, but since this bread is so full of spices, I thought this would be a good choice.  Not being totally sold on the sprouted spelt, I decided to use some almond meal too.  I had some walnuts in the cupboard, which I thought would add a nice crunch, so I pulled those out to work with.  I also had just enough coconut oil in the pantry to replace the vegetable oil in the mix.  Finally, I noted that there was a fair amount of water which I could eliminate and instead use agave as my sweetener.  With these changes in mind, I set about to make the bread.  I was a little dubious about making so many changes, but I had a whole cooked squash to use, so I decided to jump in with both feet and just went with it.
Image my delight when these loaves not only came out looking amazing but tasting amazing too.  The texture, which is always a problem with you use alternative flour or agave, was spot on and the taste is to die for.  The loaves are moist and tender and being filled with all kinds of spicy goodness, have a deep, rich, autumnal flavor that I just adore.  I have eaten this three days running smeared with cream cheese in the morning.  That paired with a steamy cup of coffee have made the perfect breakfast for these stormy, cold days.
Sprouted Spelt and Squash Quick Bread
Makes 2 large loaves
2 c butternut squash puree
4 eggs
1 c coconut oil (we have no cholesterol problems here - if that is an issue, sub vegetable oil)
2 c agave syrup
2 c spelt sprouted flour
1 3/4 c almond meal
1 c walnut pieces (optional)
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two large loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together squash puree, eggs, oil, and agave until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, nuts, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
A good healthy slice of this bread (enough for a decent breakfast serving) comes out at around 250 calories and has 0.7 g of sugar and 2 g of fiber.  It is also rich in in vitamin A and it yummmmmmy!

The Light Liam

Years ago, when I worked for Corel, this was my favorite breakfast at our in-house cafeteria.  The Liam sandwich was named after a fellow employee who ordered this special nearly every day. 

The original Liam is made with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, a thick slice of tomato and loads of crispy bacon.  This morning, I felt the urge for my old favorite and made a light version instead.  If you are counting calories, this one checks in at around 200 calories.  Serve this with some fruit on the side and it makes an excellent light and yummy start to your day.

The Light Liam

1 Bagel thin (choose something with a decent fiber content to counteract the sugar from the processed grain - mine has 4 gr of fiber per bagel)
2 T cream cheese
1 slice ripe tomato
S & P to taste

Toast bagel thin in oven or toaster.  Spread with cream cheese.  Top with tomato and salt and pepper to taste.

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Crockpot "refried" beans

Today I decided to give a nod to Meatless Monday. I know today is Tuesday, but it is the first day back from the Christmas holidays so in my mind it is Monday. You are just going to have to go with me on this one.

If you have ever read my blog, you know of my love for the humble black bean. I cook with them a lot. Black beans are chock full of vitamins, fiber, have a low GI value (around 35, even when mashed) and are an inexpensive source of easily digested protein. Last night I was riffling through the cupboards and found a long lost bag of dried black beans. I had been reading a new favorite blog - 100 Days of Real Food - and had read an article about crock pot refried beans. I figured that black beans would work so today I gave it a try. I am happy to report that the beans worked out really well. I will be making these again with pinto beans soon.

Tonight I served the beans on toasted low carb flour tortillas (to toast, place tortilla on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 until crisp, about 8 minutes), sprinkled with cheese and topped with sauteed orange and red peppers.  Everyone, including the kids, raved about them.

Crock Pot "Refried" Beans (adapted from this recipe at 100 Days of Real Food)

1 lb. dry black beans (pinto will obviously work well too)
Water to cover
1/2 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t chili powder
S & P to taste

Empty beans into a large bowl. Rinse well and remove any rocks, seeds, funky beans, etc. Cover with cool water and let soak overnight.

In the morning, drain the beans. Place the beans in a slow cooker and add enough water to completely cover the beans by one inch. Add onion and garlic. Turn cooker on high and cook 8 hours or until tender.

Drain remaining liquid from beans (trust me, there is lots of juice under those beans!) and set aside. Remove large pieces of onion and discard.  Mash beans with potato masher, adding reserved liquid as you go, until they reach your desired consistency. Season with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

P.S.  These come out at 309 calories a piece as I served them (also to note that they are low in sugar, very high in fiber and vitamin C and high in vitamin A.)

Cal: 309
Fat: 12.1 g (19%)
Carbs: 35g (12%)
Fiber: 16.5g (66%)
Sugars: 2.2 g
Protein: 13.8g

Nutritional analysis from Calorie Count.