Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Healthy Chick-Nuts (Homemade Chickpea baked snacks)

Healthy Chick-Nuts. They taste like a cross between a peanut and a corn-nut. They're loaded with protein, fiber and love. 

Day 9 of the 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge. Yup. One-tenth of the way through.  At weigh-in this morning I was down 6 lbs and 3 inches.  I'm pretty excited about that. Mind you, I have a long way to go, but I am greatly encouraged by good results.  I'm not as excited about the pounds as I am the inches! We're on our way darlings!  How are things in your world? How are you doing with the working out and drinking enough water? 

Today I am sharing a new healthy recipe for an easy snack that keeps me satisfied.  I snack on veggies all day (whenever I'm hungry) and use these little nuts as a great addition of crunch.  I've loved these little nibbles for years. I've seen some very high fat varieties that use a lot of oil. Though these high fat recipes work for the cripsy snack, they also work for adding a ton of calories to an otherwise very healthy nibblet. I like this recipe here the best. It uses a lot less oil. They do take a little longer to cook in the oven because of that, but I don't mind it.

You will need 1 lb dry garbanzo beans aka chickpeas...aka GONZO beans at my house. I buy gonzo beans in bulk 25 lb bags because we use them a lot. If you don't want to cook them as directed in the recipe, you can use pre-cooked canned chickpeas (2 15 oz cans) just be sure to rinse them well and get all the goo off of 'em. 

  • Soak dry beans overnight in 8 cups hot water. Drain. Put in a heavy pot and add 8 cups more unsalted water.  Simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours.
  •  Drain well. 
  • Pat the beans dry with a clean paper-towel or flour-cloth. 

For baking you will need: 

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  I've seen some people bake them at 400 degrees, but I've never been fond of the burny flavor that I get at that temperature.
 Drizzle garbanzo beans with with olive oil and spread out over a full sized baking sheet. 

Bake 45 minutes, stir halfway through baking.  After 45 minutes, turn off the oven and allow to sit in oven with the door closed  for 2-3 hours until very dry and crunchy.  Season to taste with a highly flavorful spice blend of your choice.
Yield 5 cups. 10 servings.  Serving size 1/2 cup.
Nutritional information:   Calories 289. Fat 2 g. Carb 45. Fiber 15 g. (30 net carbs), 15 g protein.

There you go my darlings! Make some healthy chick-nuts!  I eat them with a big glass of ice water and some veggies. Enjoy!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dutch Oven Baking Temperature Guide for outdoor camp baking!

I'm excited to share the segment that we did on Fox 10 Phoenix!  I had a lot of fun there with my Dutch oven and some camping stoves.  There's a lot to cover in 3 minutes and I'm certain I missed some details! 

Basic Baking in a Dutch Oven:
It turns out there is a very technical way of knowing the internal temperature of a dutch oven.
  • I use a Lodge Camp Dutch Oven 14 Inch wide and 5 inches deep. It is just about the perfect size for a 9 inch pie pan or pan of dinner rolls. The deeper 5 inch pan is preferred for baking.
  • To determine the temperature of the oven, you use what is called, "the rule of 4." If the oven is 14 inches, you subtract 4. You will need 10 coals on the bottom of the dutch oven and twice that many on top of the dutch oven to get the internal temperature to 325 degrees (preheating 20 minutes). Adding 5-7 minutes to the baking time on most items.
  • Add two coals to the bottom and 4 to the top for every additional 25 degrees you want inside your oven. So...for 400 degrees we added 4 to the bottom and 8 to the top.
  • Once hot, use a metal hook to take off the lid, with the coals still on top: A fruit pie generally takes about 45 minutes to bake (50-55) in the dutch oven. Pizza or rolls, 30-35 minutes.

Get the printable of the Dutch oven baking temperature guide here

Number of Coals per Baking Temperature for Dutch Oven Cooking
by Lodge® Mfg.

Oven Size
(Second column is the # of coals on top/bottom)

(slow - moderate)
(moderate - hot)
(very hot)

I used the Volcano 2 Stove for holding up the Dutch oven. 
I highly recommend the EcoZoom Rocket Stoves
For firestarting, I love to use AZ Prepper's Firestarting Kits.

There you go my darlings! Onward and upward!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Saturday, May 25, 2013

4 Ingredient Simple and Natural Homemade Almond Milk

 It is really hard to milk an almond. My fingers are way too big. 

Day 6 of the 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge...and I have to share homemade almond milk.  I use it in my protein shakes for creamy texture and I love it in a lot of my recipes. We've had some great success with making almond milk from natural blanched almond flour here at our house! It is one of those simple recipes I've made for a long time and wondered why I haven't shared it. So today I thought I'd share how I do it!  I use my favorite Almond Flour because it is all natural and easy to use for baking and also for almond milk! I use it a lot.  This recipe says 4 ingredient, but the last two ingredients are optional.  I use the stevia to add a hint of natural sweetness to the milk and I use the xanthan gum to add some emulsification assistance to keep the milk from separating when it is chilled.  If you don't want to use it, you can omit it. 
 My Chef Tess 4 Ingredient Homemade Almond Milk
1 cup Almond Flour (about 80 g)
4 cups very hot water
15-20 drops stevia (optional)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Vitamix Directions: Combine almond flour and 2 cups of the very hot (closer to boiling) water in a blender.  This helps release the fat in the flour and helps with the emulsion.  Allow to sit 5 minutes.  Note:  I use my Vitamix Professional because I know it will really blitz the emulsion.  The engine on that thing is amazing.  After the 5 minute sitting time, cover tightly  blend on the liquefy setting for 30-40 seconds until bright white and smooth like milk. Turn off the blender and add the remaining water.  Mix a second or two more. 

If you don't have a vitamix or stronger blender, I highly recommend the use of a little xanthan gum to help with the emulsification process. It is gluten-free. Follow the blender directions above, blending 2-3 minutes for best smoothness. 

Transfer to a quart sized jar and place in the fridge. Chill 2-3 hours.  
Use in any recipe that calls for milk.

Nutritional information:
serving size, 1/2 cup prepared. 57 calories. 5 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 1 g fiber, 

There you go! Onward and upward my darlings!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, May 24, 2013

Simple No-Bake Homemade vegetarian protein bars

Day 5 of the 90 Day Weight Loss Challenge and I have to share this simple no-bake recipe for homemade protein bars. There's no cooking involved on the stove either!  I've had these on-hand for snacking and so far they've been the perfect to satisfy my need for a chewy cookie-type delectable niblet of love. I love the addition of some freeze-dried raspberries and peanut butter.   Here's the recipe my darlings! 

Chef Tess' Simple No-Bake
Homemade Vegetarian Protein Bars 
1 cup soy protein isolate (or 4 scoops Chocolate shakeology)
 2 cups quick cook oatmeal or 4 grain rolled cereal
½ cup coconut, unsweetened
2T Baker's cocoa
1/2 cup Granular Erythritol (natural sugar-free calorie free sweetener)
½ cup freeze dried raspberries, crushed
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

 ½ cup natural, creamy almond butter or peanut butter ( I use Nutzo organic 7 nut and seed butter)
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix well.
2. Add almond milk and nut butter to mixture. Mix well with clean hands.
3. Press mixture into 8x8-inch baking pan; cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
4. Cut into 18 bars. Store in the fridge, in an air-tight container until ready to eat.

Nutritional Information (per serving): Calories: 150, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 3mg
Sodium: 61mg, Carbohydrate: 14g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 7g

There you go! Onward and upward my darlings! How are things going with your weight loss goals?

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Vegetarian Healthy Black Bean 7 layer Dip

Day 4 of the 90 day weight loss challenge. Dinner. I love Mexican food. I do. 
I don't love being overweight. It is sooo not my favorite. Yes, I know I'm beautiful. Honestly, I've never had so many gorgeous e-mails from all of you letting me know that I'm good looking! Thank you all! {Blushing}  That being said, I'm not trying to lose weight to look good, though that is a a perk. I'm wanting to do what is best for my overall health.   Plus, maybe when I've lost all the weight, Dr. Oz will want to have me on his show...just kidding. Hi Dr. Oz. I love you, by the way. 

So, today I decided I needed to have this delicious black bean 7 layer dip for dinner. Sounding as evil as it possibly could be, it is actually a very healthy choice! Including baked chips, and fat free dairy options, it is a great vegetarian dinner.  I think even Ace will approve!

Healthy Black Bean 7 Layered dip

2 cup black beans, low-sodium, cooked and mashed
1/4 cup  plain yogurt or fat free sour cream
1/4 cup salsa ( I love my Roasted tomato salsa)

1 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 cup field greens (or lettuce), shredded
4 ounce shredded fat free cheese
8 slices jalapeños (optional)
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp Chef Tess Southwest Fajita Seasoning ( Here)
cracked black pepper to taste
4 ounce corn tortilla chips (corn), baked, unsalted

Directions: Mash black beans with a fork or potato masher. Divide between 4 serving dishes. Spread sour cream  and then salsa evenly over bean spread. Wash green onion and lettuce. Chop onion finely and shred lettuce. Layer onion, lettuce, cheese, then jalapeno (chopped) in the order listed over lettuce. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, Chef Tess Southwest seasoning and cracked pepper.  Serve with chips (one ounce is about 11 chips)

Nutritional information: Yield 4 servings. Calories 300, Calories from Fat 80, Total Fat 9 g, Total Carbohydrate 40 g , Dietary Fiber 10 g, Sugars 5 g, Protein 24 g

Onward and Upward my darlings! There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gon-zo Bean Summer Salad

Day 3 of the 90 day weight loss challenge. Lunch. I have lunch every day, and this one is being added to my list of  "freakin' YES"  food! Can we have a list like that? I think so.  We're calling it Gonzo salad because our bums are going to be "Gone-zo-soon"...right? Actually...there's a story here on the beans.  But, in the meantime, here's the recipe. Under 300 calories and  a full plate! Eat up darlings!

Tess Gon-zo Bean Summer Salad
2 cup mixed baby field greens
1/2 cup garbanzo beans or white beans (cooked or canned without salt)
1/3 cup yellow onion, medium, sliced paper thin
2 carrot, shredded in ribbons
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds, hulled, dry roasted, unsalted
2T chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano and basil)
1 fresh minced clove garlic

Preparation...I cook beans. I love them. My favorite are these Pueblo beans called Mortgage Lifters.  If you've never made beans before, you can see the basic class information in the Beans 101 Notes . Or, you can just buy a can of cooked white beans or garbanzo beans.  We call garbanzo beans Gonzo beans at my house. Seriously. Don't ask me where that started. I think it was because we'd eat them so fast that they'd be gone-zo-fast...but I think it is because my husband Ace likes the Muppet's and Gonzo was such a lovable bear...who never cooked beans.  Like I say. Don't ask me where that name started.  After the funeral we had a lot of ham and I always have a lot of beans. So, I cooked up a pot of Mortgage Lifters with a good amount of ham and some lovely carrots. Random side note...if organic carrots are on sale at your local farmer's market and your kids put 5 bags in your cart...just buy them. It was the best dollar I ever spent. 
 Combine greens, beans, onion, and carrot in a large bowl. I like to use my vegetable peeler for the carrots and shred them like ribbons. They just give me a good crunch. 
 Blend lemon juice in a small bowl with herbs and garlic. Drizzle over salad. I recommend chopping the herbs first. 
 Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Hey, did you know that 2T of sunflower seeds has 9 grams of fat and 81 calories?  I know right? That's something to watch when you go to a salad bar. 

This is what the finished salad looks like. For under 300 calories I had a full plate of happy, 12 grams of fiber, 11grams of protein and 29 net carbs. Happy girl. Happy dance around the test kitchen. Are we seeing a trend here on the dancing around the Tess kitchen?  
Nutrition Facts: Yield 1 serving
Calories 290, Calories from Fat 90, Total Fat 10 g, Total Carbohydrate 41 g, Dietary Fiber 12 g
Protein 11 g, Vitamin A 380%, Vitamin C 70%, Calcium 10%, Iron 20%

Onward and upward my darlings! There you go!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Healthy Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Black Forest Brownie-Bite Cookies

Day two of the 90 day weight loss challenge and I'm sharing a cookie recipe. Yup. That's because these are healthy and low calorie! In fact, each cookie only carries 73 calories, 2 net carbs, and 5 grams of heart-healthy fat from almond flour! You can't go wrong with that. Did I also mention they are sugar-free and gluten-free? can they taste like a black forest brownie and still be good for me? I'm not asking. I'm just eating. Two cookies for a snack and I'm good to go for the rest of the afternoon.  Happy. Giddy happy! Dancing around the test-kitchen happy! Does dancing around the test kitchen count as cardio? Pump up the Broadway show tunes...because I'm making it count! Bwhahahaa! Now there's a visual...I'd just as soon not show you...

On the other hand, here are some cookies I think you'd like to see. 

 My friends at North Bay Trading sent me some gorgeous Freeze Dried Organic Cherries to try out and I have to tell you I've been addicted! Adding these to the cookies have been pivotal.  I love cherries anyway, but these have been so cool! I love the crunch, the tartness and the absents of guilt associated with eating these! 
 Nutritionally, they are as close to picking cherries right off the tree as I can get. Calorie wise, they are low and I don't feel guilty. Did I mention the guilt again? you go. Look for yourself.
 Have you ever met my favorite Almond Flour? On this one I'm brand specific for a reason. This is the finest milled almond flour I can find and it has remarkable texture in baked good. I didn't want almond meal. I wanted a flour that would bake remarkably well. Thank you Honeyville! To find out how I'm connected to Honeyville, go here.

I've done a lot of tips and techniques on baking with Almond flour Here

At any rate, here's the recipe for the cookies. I think you'll really enjoy them. I know we do!

Black forest Almond flour Brownie-Bite Cookies 
2 cups Almond Flour 
1/4 cup  organic coconut flour
1/2 cup Granular Erythritol (natural sugar-free calorie free sweetener)
1/4 cup egg white powder*
zest of one orange
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup Freeze Dried Organic Cherries

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well. Dough will be stiff.  Divide into 20 cookies and roll into balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart, smashing lightly.  Bake 350 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool on the sheet, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.
*Note: If you do not have egg white powder, you can use 1/2 cup of egg whites and omit the water.

Nutritional information: Yield 20 cookies.  Each cookie contains 73 calories, 5 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g fiber (2 net carbohydrate).

There you go darlings! Let's rock the weight loss and healthy whole food eating! Ya know, it isn't about losing weight so much as it is about making sure I take care of this body that God gave me. It is a gift to be alive. I'm treating it that way. 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, May 20, 2013

Healthy Chocolate Truffle-o-Power Cracked Wheat Cereal in a Jar

 I'm kicking off the 90 day weight loss challenge here on the blog today! My boys got up with me for protein shakes this morning.   I'll be adding many new and amazing healthy recipe choices! I hope this will motivate you as much as it motivates me! In all honesty, I already have a lot of really healthy recipes here for using whole grain and eating whole foods, I'm just going to be a lot more consistent about posting the new recipes I'm making.  I think it will help me to have some accountability and you to see how much fun we're having along the way!  We've already starting family walks and I will be doing Turbo Fire everyday. 
If you've already e-mailed me about joining me on the 90 day weight loss challenge, then welcome aboard! We're in this together now!!  Let's go!

Today's breakfast was this bowl of delicious chocolate happiness...

 I bought 100 lbs of gorgeous non-GMO Cracked Wheat a few months ago because it was on sale.  After reading this Living Strong Article on Cracked Wheat as well as the  article about the Benefits of Cracked Wheat , I am getting excited about using more of it.   Now, I know there are many of my readers who are wheat-free and gluten-free. For more of those whole grain recipes, see the recipe index for grain-surgery-101.  
I use wheat often here as well as offering gluten free options.  So today I want to share a new recipe for a meal in a jar for those who are trying to lose weight and watch their calories and use whole grains like wheat.   One more reasons to eat wheat...if I have to give you one,  is  the prebiotics in whole grain that help promote a healthy digestion system. This was cool to me!
 " Prebiotics, sometimes referred to as fermentable fiber, are nondigestible nutrients that help promote the development of good intestinal bacteria, according to Some evidence suggests that eating lots of prebiotic-rich foods can improve intestinal disturbances. Prebiotics may even improve your ability to absorb calcium and fight off illnesses. Many nutritious foods you can find at your local grocery store contain prebiotics. Read more: here"

I've added oat fiber flour. Two tablespoons of this flour (about 10g) will give you an amazing 9 grams of fiber in your diet, with only 2 added calories. Awesome stuff for helping me to stay full longer.  Now here's the cool thing, this meal has 152 calories, 18 grams of fiber, 23 net carbs, 6 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of fat. Drip a few drops of your favorite stevia or non-calorie sweeteners on the finished cereal and you'll have a delightful treat!

Chocolate Truffle-o-Power Cracked Wheat Cereal in a Jar
1/4 cup  Cracked Wheat
1T baker's cocoa powder
2T natural granular erythritol (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
dash of salt

Directions: Shake the milk powder, erythritol  and cocoa down into the wheat. Store in an airtight container up to a year. I use a wide mouth half pint jar. Up to 10 years with an oxygen absorber. 

To prepare: Combine with 1 cup boiling water and simmer low 8-10 minutes until thick.  Add natural sugar-free calorie free sweetener to taste.  I love berry or english toffee Sweet Leaf Stevia drops

This will make 1 servings per pint jar.
Total nutritional value per  serving:
Calories, 152
Fiber, 18 g
Protein, 6g
Fat,  1 g
Carbohydrates, 23 net

There you go my darlings! A great recipe for some creamy Healthy delightful cracked wheat! Enjoy! What are you having for breakfast??!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, May 17, 2013

Graveside Memories and Tender Mercies

 Today we buried my Father in Law. It was a really tough day and one I will never forget. I called him "Mr. Putt Putt" here on the blog because we had the joy of watching him putt around the house with his walker for the last few years. I don't really have a lot to say, but I will share my thoughts on a few of the highlights.

One. We were driving behind the casket when it went under the covered bridge leading to Dad's hometown. If I think about the hundreds of times he passed under that bridge and how it felt as he passed under it one last time, I bawl. He loved that town. 
Second, I've visited this quiet cemetery many times...but never to bury a friend. It was really emotional, but the Spirit of the Lord was with us and we had incredible peace.  
Third, I got to sit on the front row next to my Mother in Law and see a unique perspective as the Navy officers brought her the flag from his coffin.  It was incredible. It was humbling. It broke my heart to see her face as they handed her the flag on behalf of the US Navy and the citizens of this country. I'm so thankful for that experience. 
 Fourth, as we walked away, I knew without a doubt that we'd see Dad again. I'm thankful for our Faith in our Savior Jesus. He brings us so much peace. 
 Finally...a tender mercy.
As everything was winding up, my nieces and grand-nephews brought over a unique treasure...a toad. I was so happy that the children were able to find this new pet during something so difficult for everyone else. Just another reminder to me that the Lord, in his mercy, has joy for us, even during times of adversity. 
And caterpillars that will turn into butterflies when it is all over.

There it is.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Onward He Goes

Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.

 Those of you who have followed the blog pretty regularly will remember that I have had the honor and privilege of having my sweet Father in Law living with our family during his older years.  It has been one of the crazy-funnest things on earth to have him putt around with his walker.  My children have spent the last 5 and a half years at his feet learning about the world from a Navy veteran of world war two. Yes. My father in law is almost eighty seven years old. My husband was born when his dad was in his forties. 

Over the last few weeks his health has deteriorated immensely.  Thursday and Friday, most of his children, grand children and great grand children trickled into our home in a steady stream to have a grand sending off party. He wasn't awake, but he was embraced and loved by all that came to see him.  
Yesterday morning, in the peace and quiet of our home, he passed from this life. It was the most bittersweet and amazing experiences of my life.  I can't really put into words how it felt to see his body laying there, yet knowing that he was gone from it. I've never had such mixed emotions. Part of me is joyful. I'm so relieved that he is able to be free of pain, rejoicing with his Heavenly Father, Savior, and dear family who have passed before him. I'm happy for him. Elated for him. Joyful that he lived a good life.  There is the other part of me that misses him terribly. 

That part that misses him is the same part of me that wants to be better, do better, live better. That part of me that misses him wants to be ready to meet my own Savior at any given moment with a prepared heart. That part that missed ever thankful that I know that God lives! I know that my Father in Heaven is real and loves me. I know he hears my prayers.  I know he loves us all.  I know we will live again. That part that misses him knows that we will be together again...and it makes the part that is joyful, even more happy.

That being said, this week I will be planning a funeral, making arrangements and connecting with my family. Thank you all for the love and support you give me. It keeps me moving onward.  Onward and upward my darlings!...Off he goes. 

There it is.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess