Slow Cooker Overnight Brown Rice Porridge

May 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Such a year, so many changes and adaptations.  Our family has moved back to our beloved town of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.  Amidst a heartrending few months of sky-high emotional turmoil and loss (another post, for another time), I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been.  I found Yoga again: Iyengar and the way it makes me feel purposeful.  I buy myself flowers every Friday and went shopping this week for new clothes.  I am making an effort to take care of myself in every way.  I discovered that when I don’t, maybe I’m trying to focus on my kids or my husband too much, everyone ends up suffering immeasurably.  So introducing my new wellness challenge: goodbye sugar!

I’ve read too many articles and medical studies that show that sugar consumption is outrageously high and is negatively affecting our health.  Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, likes to call himself the “anti processed food guy.”  Here is his skinny on the obesity-sugar connection.

I’m lucky to have an amazing community of friends both in my neighborhood and online.  We’re going sugar free, and hoping that our families might too.

Yesterday was my first day off of sugar and it went surprisingly well (except for the peanut butter chocolate bar I wolfed down before bedtime and then felt as guilty as if I’d stolen it from the store).  This morning I woke up to the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon.  Before bed I set up the slow cooker on a timer and mixed together the ingredients for a whole-grain brown rice porridge.  It was piping hot when my kids and I woke up and was delightful with just a bit of honey and raisins on top.

Brown Rice Porri

Slow Cooker Brown Rice Porridge with Apples

Ingredients:

3 cups round brown rice (you can use standard brown rice or Basmati but the texture will be less porridge-like and more similar to rice)

9 cups liquid (I use a combination of unsweetened almond milk and water

1 tbsp cinnamon

1-2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

4 apples, peeled and diced

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp good quality oil (olive, coconut, etc.)

Combine ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Set the timer to cook on low for 7 hours.  My slow cooker is simple and doesn’t have an internal timer.  I use a clock on my outlet and set the time so the porridge starts to cook at around 11 pm.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Serve with a bit of honey or maple syrup and raisins.

My lucky stars + almond butter cookies

January 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve been experiencing an interesting phenomenon in the last week or so and I really can’t make heads or tails of it. I’ll be with my kids at home doing our thing, eating, making messes, general pandemonium. And then something will come crashing down. Literally. Last week I had just finished bath time and as I carry one toweled, dripping baby and chase a naked toddler I hear a huge crash of broken glass. Behind me the heavy glass light fixture in the bathroom had fallen onto the floor and shattered where we had been crouched together only a moment before. A few days later my baby was wandering around my bedroom and playing in my closet. The second she left the room a massive wooden shelf fell down right where she was playing. And today as I was making these cookies, she crawls into the kitchen saying “hot!”. She had CLIMBED onto the middle of the coffee table and pulled my fresh cup of coffee onto herself. She wasn’t crying, her fleece clothes protected every inch of her skin.

So what should I take away from these near disasters? My home is a death trap? I need to be even more careful? Well, there’s that. But I think more so that these were near disasters. As much as I can complain about the cold Jerusalem streets and navigating the social stratosphere, I have it so good. That’s it. Thankful. Alive and kicking, screaming and crying and laughing and eating and thankful.

Interesting transition into cookies, but I am certainly thankful for these, too. If you have ever made a traditional peanut butter cookie you’ll know they are naturally gluten free. Grain free, actually. After a delightful trip to machne yehuda shuk last night I am stocked up with fresh nuts. I wanted to switch up the flavor profile so I made a nut butter with pecans and almonds. Everything changed. It’s a different cookie entirely. Thin, crispy, ever so buttery never mind they have none. It’s the pecans, my friend.

Almond-Pecan Butter Cookies
gluten free, grain free, dairy free

1/4 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp canola oil
(alternately you could use 1 cup prepared almond butter)
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Grind pecans and almonds in a food processor, adding canola oil until it reaches the consistency of thick peanut butter. You may need to scrape down the sides frequently. Preheat your oven to 350 f (176 c). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add 1 cup almond butter, egg, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix until combined. Using a teaspoon measure, plop dough in small rounds onto the parchment lined sheet. These will spread significantly so a teaspoon is more than enough; take care to leave enough room between each cookie. Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the pan for a full 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. The cookies will get more crunchy as they cool. Keep in an airtight container for a week, or freeze. They get better as the days go on.

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Out of the funk

January 21, 2013 § 7 Comments

A few weeks ago my family moved to Jerusalem. My husband Gil is starting his own small business and I chose to move the family here instead of giving him over to the business for the initial first year of craziness. His office is in the next building and he can often pop home for a snack or to help me put the kids to bed. It is a blessing. And it is hard. Our previous community was warm and inviting, a place where people come to stay and raise their kids. We loved our block, I had my best girlfriends living within earshot. Our Rabbi, whose presence I think we miss the most, was wary of us going and now I know why.

Jerusalem is the holiest place on planet earth for Jews so naturally it seems to be the best place to live. However it is challenging in so many ways that I have found myself in a true funk. It is a transient city where many come to visit but eventually leave. True friendships seem rare. Because it is considered so holy, many groups have taken on extra stringencies and the overall practice is more strict. It is beautiful and cold and so many things at once.

My husband is highly instrumental in the un-funking process as he refuses to wallow but allows me the space to do so- for approximately ten seconds and then promptly pushes me out the door. A walk in the sunlight or some bluegrass fiddle music. A warm cup of coffee or a 2 hour nap. Sometimes I just need a little help and then I’m back on track. To be honest, I never wanted this blog to sound rehearsed. Half the time I don’t even edit. Truthfully, being a mom and wife and religious Jew who happened to be born non-Jewish is hard and every night I struggle with the decision to sleep or spend any time for myself. Right now I am literally playing fetch with my one year old just so I can type these few paragraphs. I hope to Gd she doesn’t realize I’m stalling her.

Recently I have been crowd sourcing my life’s purpose. This sounds insane which is also quite normal for me. I participated in a class this winter that was meant to help me clarify the goals I want to accomplish. A life’s purpose is meant to bring you energy, the drive to overcome challenges, and a joy unparalleled. You are supposed to imagine the 5 times in your life where you felt incredible, full of life, HAPPY. What were you doing? Now I’m not clinically depressed (maybe a little sleep deprived) but I’m having a very hard time remembering anything.

If you know me, maybe you can help. Leave me a message in the comments with a memory of me as a happy and energetic person. What was I doing? Also, what do you think your life’s purpose is?

My co-conspirator

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The Sun and Stars

December 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

Grace Potter, Stars

I stood, caught literally in a patch of sun. Ella is in my arms and this song is playing in the background. The beauty of this moment is overwhelming and I feel that familiar echo in my gut, the need to WRITE THIS. Paper, pen, anything. I need to write this. I don’t know if non-writers experience this phenomena. I stopped myself and let the sun wash over us, swaying in time with my baby. Not caring who sees me through the kitchen window clad in my bathrobe singing my heart out. I’ve been writing. Can I share some of it with you? Some is not nice or easy to swallow. Some is dark and unnerving. But I’ve been inspired by fearless writers, bloggers, women and men and children even. We all have so much more courage than we know.

Where have you been? And gluten free vegan bread (what else?)

September 24, 2012 § 5 Comments

Recently my good friend Tziporah decided to stop by.  She lives in my neighborhood but with kids and work its difficult to catch up sometimes.  She, with her wisdom and gift for insight, inspired me to continue writing even when its hard.  And ladies and gentleman, it is hard around here.

Where have I been?  I have two kids under the age of two and was resisting childcare.  That whole “I can take care of my OWN kids” syndrome.  I stuck it out for 9 months.  My son is now enjoying himself in a half-day nursery school and my 9 month old baby girl has never been happier to play alone without fear of being trampled or excessively kissed.  We needed a break.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my life has been in a total whirlwind since my last semester in College.  School, conversion, seminary, marriage, first baby, second baby.  I feel like I can breathe again.  Like I can sit down with a cup of coffee (alone!) and think about who I am and where I want to be.  It also helps that I started Rabbi Aryeh Nivin’s Personal Development Chabura.  I am investing in myself because a happy mommy means a happy family.  (Cheesy, yes.  True, 100%).  I cannot tell you how long it took me to believe that I am worth investing in.

I am also happy to report that as of several months ago I am pain and medication free.  On a recent trip to the States I met with my Rheumatologist who reported that I have perfect blood work.  That means I am completely in remission from Rheumatoid Arthritis.  How did this happen?  I stopped eating gluten.  I had dabbled before with the diet but I now avoid even trace contamination.  I’m not telling every person who might have arthritis or an autoimmune disease to try a gluten-free diet.  I know better.  But if you are not responding to medication and are at your wit’s end, there is absolutely no harm in trying.  I can pick up my kids, use my hands, climb the stairs, push a stroller, fasten my own buttons, cut my chicken, and I have not had this much energy since I was a teenager.  I could not say the same a year ago.

I’ve tried dozens of recipes for gluten-free bread.  When I discovered that my daughter is also sensitive to eggs and dairy, I had to get creative with recipes.  This is my favorite gluten-free bread I have tasted including those from the most popular gluten-free companies.  It contains nuts so it might not suit the needs of everyone.  But if you are looking for a vegan and gluten-free all-purpose dough  this recipe is for you.  (I’ll soon be posting a nut free bread that rivals any  fluffy dinner roll on the market)

I adapted it slightly from Ginger Lemon Girl.  She deserves the credit as I did nothing more than swap out a few starches and lower the amount of gums.  I prefer to bake gluten-free bread in small round tins (slightly larger and more shallow than a muffin tin), but this bread also slices beautifully in a traditional loaf.  I’m even trying it out as pizza dough this evening.  The sorghum and brown rice flour are easy subs for each other if you can only find one or the other. *If you can take the time to buy an inexpensive kitchen scale for weighing dry ingredients I would HIGHLY advise you do so.  Gluten free baking works exceptionally well when done by weight and it makes it even easier to convert traditional wheat recipes to gluten-free.

Gluten Free Vegan Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups almond flour (144 grams)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (71 grams)
1/2 cup sorghum flour (72 grams)
1 cup potato starch (140 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 tablespoons honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1/4 cup neutral tasting oil

In a medium bowl combine the honey (or agave to make it 100% vegan), yeast and warm water.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so until it bubbles like a cauldron.  In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well until it becomes a completely homogenous flour mixture.  Add oil to yeast mixture and stir to combine.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir well for 5-10 minutes.  Do not skip this step.  The dough (which really resembles a thick cake batter) will go from chunky to smooth as the gums start to develop.  This process mimicks gluten and is essential to a good crumb structure.  Cover and allow to rest in a warm place for an hour or two.  Preheat your oven to 350 F (176 C).  Spray shallow tart tins, muffin pans, or loaf pan with Pam or grease well with oil.  Divide dough equally.  Allow to rise for another 20-30 minutes while the oven preheats.  Bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans half way through baking time.  Bread is done when it is a deep golden brown color.  Remove the pans from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.  Remove the rolls or loaves and transfer carefully to a wire rack and allow to cool COMPLETELY before slicing.  These keep well for 1-2 days at room temperature, but I usually freeze what I cannot eat in one day.

Wake up your ears, I’ve got a song for you to hear

February 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

I am mad tired, yo. I woke up this morning to my son standing over me with one of my stilleto high heeled shoes from the old days. Then he crawled into the dog’s cage. With the dog. This whole “sleeping in bed with Mommy and rolling around everywhere and waking up at the crack of dawn” thing is not gunna cut it. Maybe he was on to something with that cage…

Wake up!

I’m Giving Up

February 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

The title of this post is completely misleading, but that’s ok. I’m multifaceted, like a gem. I’m currently in the States visiting my parents and am without my better half. The other night I had a conversation with my husband Gil which altered the way I feel about my life and my future.

Ingrid Michaelson says it best:

What if our baby comes in after nine?
What if your eyes close before mine?
What if you lose yourself sometime?
Then I’ll be the one to find you
Safe in my heart.

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