A Day at NCNM…

Yesterday I visited a potential grad school program for Nutrition here in Portland (at NCNM, “National College of Natural Medicine”). I have to say, I picked the best day ever to visit. I went to 2 classes — Micronutrient Lab and Gluten-Free Cooking (an elective). I seemed to do a good job of avoiding the classroom-classes because both the lab and the cooking class took place in their fancy new kitchen. And yes, there was cooking AND baking involved. I’m easily convinced and won over by tasty, healthy food. Especially when it’s fo free. They did a good job.

Okay, so first class — Micronutrient Lab where we had discussions about lipid soluble micronutrients and Celiac Disease. I learned that during the recovery stage of Celiac Disease (when people find out they have it and need to heal their gut), it’s important to eat soft foods and to include good fats in all your meals to help with nutrient absorption. So it made sense that the dish we made was a Pumpkin Coconut Red Curry.
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Yummm fresh pumpkin chunks.

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So many veggies in a sweet and spicy red curry coconut milk sauce. Smothered over some rice. Topped with chopped cashews, fresh basil and sriracha (of course). Perfecto.

Up  next: Gluten-Free Cooking! And it just happened to be holiday baking day. So many gluten-free AND dairy-free treats.

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I was on team Cranberry Pecan Biscotti. It was a 2 man job.

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First bake, done. Now time to cut up and pop back in the oven to get nice and crunchy.

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Ok, so we ran short on time and ended up taking them out early, so they were much softer than your average biscotti but still pretty tasty.

Cranberry Pecan Biscotti (all recipes came from class…)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup agave or honey
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chunks (forgot these in ours, definitely would have brought them to the next level)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 pecans, roughly chopped

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine agave, eggs and vanilla and blend with a hand mixer until fluffy – about 5 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl combine almond flour, salt and baking soda. Pour dry into wet and stir until combined. Then add in the cranberries, pecans and chocolate chips.
3. Transfer dough to parchment paper lined baking sheet and form a log about 12 in long and 3 in wide.
4. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Transfer log to cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal.
5. Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, then turn slices over and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown
6. Remove from the oven and let cool until crunchy — about 20 minutes.

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‘So Yummy’ Stuffed Apples. Scooped out apples with a raisin, cinnamon+nutmeg, pecan, maple-cider  filling topped with a hefty amount of coconut oil and….

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….baked to perfection. Apple pie anyone? I would have made a little oat crumble on top of the filling to make it more apple-pie-like.

‘So Yummy’ Stuffed Apples
Ingredients:
6 medium golden delicious apples
1/4 cup raisins
4 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice or cider
6 tbsp of coconut oil (or butter cut into 6 squares)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the apples in half and remove core. Remove some of the flesh to make room for the filling and set aside the flesh. Cut a tiny bit of the apple off on the uncut side so that they don’t wobble around.
3. Combine the raisins, pecans, maple, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/4 cup of apple juice. Fill each apple with mixture and then place in a casserole dish. Place 1 tbsp of coconut oil or butter on top of each opening.
4. Pour the remaining apple juice into the dish surrounding the apples. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until apples are tender. Baste with juices every 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool a bit because they will be hot!

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Cinnamon Roll Muffins. When I heard the words ‘cinnamon roll’, my ears perked up and eyes lit up. I LOOOVE cinnamon rolls. Let’s be real, it’s really hard to beat an actual fresh baked cinnamon roll, but these muffins + that frosting did a pretty good job all things considered.

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Um, the frosting was CRAZY GOOD. I would have liked the muffin to frosting ratio to be more like…1:1?

Cinnamon Roll Muffins (makes 6 regular or 18 mini muffins)
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil of your choice, melted (we used coconut oil)
2 tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

Cinnamon Topping (this is where the moneys at)
Ingredients:
1 cup dates, pitted (about 8 medjool)
1.5 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coconut oil (or butter), melted
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a blender*.
2. Combine all wet ingredients (including vanilla bean seeds) in a bowl. Add to blender.
3. Blend until batter is very smooth. Pour into greased muffin tin, filling them 2/3 of the way.
4. Bake for 10 minutes. DON’T OVERBAKE or they will be DRY
5. For the frosting, place dates, cinnamon and coconut oil in food processor and process until a thick spreadable paste has formed. Place coconut in a small bowl and set aside.
6. Remove muffins from oven. While still warm, spread a generous amount of the ‘frosting’ onto the muffins, then roll in the coconut and enjoy!
*Blending the mixture makes the batter super smooth which can be difficult when using nut flours.

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And now we feast. Who knew gluten-free baking could be so simple, so tasty…I mean I’ve had some pretty amazing gluten-free baked goods in my day, but there were all made for me by gluten-free professionals.
Can I come to this class every week?

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