Monday, January 23, 2012

Spinach Brownies

For those of you who may or may not know, I have been competing in a round of Biggest Loser competitions with some friends and neighbors. Last fall, I came in second, missing the money prize by 0.12% of my bodyweight.  So close! This time, the pot is bigger, and so has been my motivation. So far, I'm in first place, but there is one week left to go. I have the munchies badly, and I am craving some sweets. As I was thinking about it, I remembered a recipe I made back during the first round that never got shared with you. I'm thinking about making it again this week. In case you do, too, here's the recipe.   It's from Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook called Deceptively Delicious, which is a collection of recipes that use vegetable purees in them, thus giving your kids (and you!) the nutrition they need in a sneaky mom sort of way.

I can't figure out how to get blogger to rotate the pictures correctly (it's correct on my hard drive, just didn't transfer to blogger right). At any rate, that is what her cook book looks like.

The recipe that most inrigued me in her cookbook, and the one I'm reviewing for you today is her Spinach Brownie recipe. Here's the ingredients:

3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/2 cup spinach puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp soft margarine spread
2 tsp vanilla
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

A while back, I was helping my mom go through her food storage and use up what was soon to expire. She had some carrot dices that were in dire need of being used, so we cooked them all up, pureed them all, then portioned them into small ziploc bags, perfect to be used as baby food, added to spaghetti sauce, smoothies, meatloaf, or in this case, brownies! So I already had my pureed carrots, I just needed the spinach. I popped open my can of THRIVE FD Spinach, rehydrated some in a tupperware with hot water (only takes about 1 minute), strained it out and stuck it in the blender.

When it's pureed, the Spinach turns into this green paste you see below. What a glorious shade of green!

So with my veggies pureed, I was ready to begin. Here are her instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease brownie pan.
  • Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over very low heat. 
  • In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in the egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 bars.

So what did I think of the recipe? Well, the batter is not the kind you can pour into the pan like store bought mixes. It is very thick, so you'll need to spoon it into the pan and then smooth it out with spatula.

And while they were brown, there was something a little off about the shade of brown. Not unappetizingly so, but it was a bit different. Not that they looked green, but well, see for yourself. Of course maybe it was just the lighting in my kitchen.

So here's the final result. Jessica does say in her book that its important to let them cool all the way before eating. If you eat them warm, she says you can taste the spinach, but cooled, you can't. I tried both ways, and I don't know if I was tasting the spinach while it was warm, but it definitely was better once it was cooled.

Now, I must confess, I had bought the wrong kind of chocolate. I used unsweetened baking squares, and tried to sweeten them with Splenda. After making them, I still thought mine taste a little bitter rather than sweet. It was a very chocolaty flavor, but not a super sweet chocolaty flavor. I also noticed that my newly purchased baking squares had already expired 6 months ago, so I took those back to the store for a refund. Next time I make these, I will probably just use 3 oz of semisweet chocolate chips. But even with that, if you want a gooey brownie to sastisfy your brownie craving, this is not the brownie for you. 

If you want a chocolate fix that's healthy for you, this is a good option though. If you cut them into 12 pieces, each one only has about 133 calories, and bonus! Each one has 3 grams of fiber.  They are a very dense bar of intense, though not very sweet, chocolate flavor. I've tried the Fiber One 90 calorie brownies, and while those are sweeter, they weren't as chocolatey nor as filling. So this is a decent brownie for dieters. But what about for kids? Will kids eat them and get some veggie power out of it without knowing? See for yourself.

If you want to order some THRIVE Spinach, Carrots, or anything else, just contact me and I'll help you get the best prices.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resolutions and 9 new Freeze Dried Foods!

What are your New Year's Resolutions?  Here are a few common ones I'm sure some of you have set.
  • Eat Healthier
  • Stay on Budget
  • Make More Time for Family
  • Prepare for Hardship
Well, I've got some great news for you -- THRIVE Foods and Shelf Reliance can help you keep all your resolutions! 
  • With no added sodium or preservatives, THRIVE Freeze Dried Foods are healthy and convenient. Stock your pantry with them, and you will have all kinds of fruits and vegetables, always ripe, ready to snack on, or ready to throw into any recipe to enhance its nutritional value.
  • The Q allows you to build your own  "home store" on a budget YOU determine. Set the amount you want to spend each month, what foods your want to accumulate, what day of the month you want the payment to process, and great-tasting, long-lasting healthy foods will automatically be shipped directly to your door each month until you've reached your goal.
  • THRIVE foods come pre-washed, pre-cut and ready to throw into whatever dish you're preparing, so you spend less time cooking, have fewer dishes to wash, and can get right to enjoying a home-cooked meal around the table with your family. Less time running to the store for milk or eggs, less time standing on your feed chopping, more time enjoy the things you love, with the people you love.
  • Shelf Reliance not only sells THRIVE foods for long term food storage, but they also sell generators, water purification, wheat grinders, 72 hour kits, first aid, emergency communication devices, and all kinds of supplies to prepare you for any hardship from power outages, to unemployment, to natural disasters and more.

Let me help you keep your New Year's Resolutions with Shelf Reliance. Contact me to get set up on the Q or place any one-time orders for food or other emergency supplies. 

In addition to the items currently available on the price list, Shelf Reliance has added nine, count 'em, NINE, new foods to their THRIVE line. The following items will be available to order on January 17th. The prices shown below are retail prices, but if you order through me, you will only have to pay the Q Club price, which you can see here on the new product flyer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Q-pons, good news, and a gluten free recipe!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday break and have already started 2012 off to a great start. I just recently got some great news from Shelf Reliance. Some of you might remember that Dec 31st, 2011 was the last day to purchase their discontinued items previously announced - dehydrated bananas, dehydrated pineapple, dehydrated sweet potatoes, dehydrated mixed bell peppers. I was particularly bummed about losing out on the mixed bell peppers, and apparently I wasn't alone, because the demand came back so strongly that while the others are still discontinued, the mixed bell peppers are staying in the catalogue! Woohoo!

It's a new season, and as such, the winter sale prices have been announced, effective today. I've updated the price list link on the right hand side of this blog, or you can click here to see the new winter prices. The price list will be effective for the next 3 months. But for the month of January, there are a few special deals on top of the regular winter prices. For Q club members, Freeze Dried Sweet Corn is on sale for only $12.19 for a #10 can. Not Q club member? Just talk to me and I'll help you become one!

For everyone (Q Club members and regular customers), the following items are also on sale for January:
 FD Banana Slices, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Cheeseblend, Chicken TVP, Mango Passion Drink, Elbow Macaroni, FD Ice Cream Neapolitan Bits, FD Green Peas, Freeze Dried Roast Beef, Sour Cream powder, and Hard White Winter Wheat.  To see all the prices for these sale items, click here. And when you know what you want to order, just contact me.

THRIVE Sweet Corn is awesome. My son loves to eat it straight out of the can. He thinks it tastes like the Corn Pops cereal, which I love, because there's no added sugar or anything else, so I don't mind him snacking on it at all. And I love how wonderfully and easily it reconstitutes in recipes.

I did a party for a friend who has gluten allergies, and needed a recipe that would work for her to eat as well. So I came up with the following Chicken Pot Pie filling - gluten free.

Here's the recipe:

Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie Filling
1/4 cup THRIVE FD Onion
1/4 cup THRIVE FD Celery
1/4 cup THRIVE Carrots
1/4 cup THRIVE FD Sweet Corn
1/4 cup THRIVE FD Potatoes
1/4 cup THRIVE FD Green Beans
1/4 cup FD Peas
1 cup THRIVE FD Chicken Dices
2 1/4 tsp THRIVE Chicken Bouillon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Gluten free Cornstarch
4 cups water

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

This filling goes great over rice, or if you have a gluten free pie crust recipe, this would fill it perfectly.

For my party, I saved half of this recipe out for those with Gluten Allergies, and the other half, I put in a stuffed loaf recipe. I can't find the recipe I used for the whole wheat bread, but when I do, I'll post it. But the idea might help inspire your own creativity - make some white or wheat bread dough, roll it out into a rectangle, spread the filling of your choice down the middle length-wise, then fold the other sides over so it's all wrapped up inside, and bake with the seam side down.

Once its done, you slice it up, and it made for a great presentation. My camera battery died while this was baking, so I didn't get the end result photos for you. But next time I do another stuffed loaf, I'll be sure to get all the recipes and photos for you.