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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Schererville, IN

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January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

December 17, 2020

Create Your Own Cookbook and Mr. Non-Compliant’s Favorite Vegetable

Those of us who attended the Zoom “Amazing Cookie Bake” had a delicious time baking our cookies. My cookie press was missing its piston—a critic

December 10, 2020

We’re Baking Cookies Together… Sort of

I’m baking cookies this coming Saturday morning, and I’d love for you to join me! Through the magic of ZOOM, we are all gathering to bake and soci

December 2, 2020

So, the Marshmallows Caught Fire…

Thanksgiving Day is but a faint memory, as we fast forward into Advent and the season of Christmas. It was quiet around the Slager home, until the mar

November 25, 2020

Cookies, Carrots, and Giving Thanks

Here it is November, and everything is still pretty weird. I find it hard to believe that we’ve almost blown through another year, even though it se

November 19, 2020

Are Bananas Good for You?

Bananas sometimes get a bad rap. The truth is, they have lots of redemptive qualities. They are among the most important food crops on the planet. Alt

November 12, 2020

What to Make for Dinner When the Power Goes Out

As I was writing this, my power went out. It wasn’t just a flicker. It was a full OUTAGE in our local area. Concerned that this could linger into th

Carob Brownies

(This recipe first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.)

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour                                        
  • 1/2 cup roasted carob powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar to sprinkle on baked brownies (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  3. Place dry ingredients (minus the sugar) in a bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
  4. In another large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and cream the mixture until fluffy and white. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients and nuts (optional.) Beat just until wet and dry ingredients are combined. Scrape brownie mixture into prepared baking pan. (If you make a double batch, divide the mixture evenly between two pans for best results.)
  6. For a metal pan bake for about 25 minutes at 350° F OR if using a glass pan bake about 35 minutes at 325° F. Check them for doneness 5 to 10 minutes before your timer beeps.
  7. Watch cooking times carefully. When a toothpick inserted into center of baking dish comes out clean brownies are done. Try not to over-bake as brownies are supposed to have a soft, chewy center.
  8. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional). Store in an airtight container.

Note: These have the taste and consistency of brownies made with cocoa. There are variations that lean to the healthier side that I’m happy to share if you wish to contact me. Reducing the sugar by about 10% is a good first step and will not affect consistency.

High-fiber, low-fat legume adds the flavor without the drawbacks of chocolate

(The following article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Online version

Most people I know are chocolate fans. Unfortunately, there are those who like the taste of chocolate, and it doesn’t like them. Allergies and sensitivities can bring on a variety of symptoms, such as headaches, stomach cramps, hives, to name a few. The caffeine present in chocolate can cause problems for some. Then there are those individuals with an unhealthy chocolate addiction that may be grateful for a bit of help.

Superfood carob to the rescue. An alternative to cocoa, carob comes from the pods of carob trees, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and cultivated elsewhere. Ripe pods contain a sweet pulp that is dried, roasted, then ground into a powder. It is classified as a legume.

Carob is less bitter than chocolate and has a roasted, naturally sweet flavor. The really good news is that there are numerous health benefits to consuming carob products.   

Health Benefits of Carob
High in insoluble fiber, so you stay fuller longer which may help you eat less and even lose weight. In addition, carob consumption helps decrease the amount of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) produced in the body, resulting in decreased appetite. High fiber foods are also helpful in controlling blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, preventing constipation, and contributing to overall gut health.

Provides calcium, an important mineral for bone health. Calcium also helps your heart, nerves, and muscles function well. Two tablespoons of carob powder contain 42mg of calcium, about 4% of the recommended daily value.

Does not contain oxalates, natural compounds found in chocolate and many other foods. Oxalates bind to calcium and are eliminated in the stool, therefore promoting calcium excretion. A diet high in oxalates increases your risk of developing kidney stones, especially if you have a history of this painful occurrence.

Good source of magnesium, iron, and potassium. Other minerals found in carob include copper, manganese, zinc, and selenium.

Rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Two of the main compounds, gallic acid and flavonoids, reduce oxidative stress, thereby helping the body ward off serious conditions linked to chronic inflammation such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer.

Free of gluten and caffeine.

Rich in pectin and tannins, carob bean juice has been used to treat diarrhea.

Tyramine-free and considered safe to eat if you suffer from migraines. Foods that contain tyramine, like chocolate, may trigger migraine headaches.

Virtually no fat and no sodium. One cup of carob powder has 51 grams of sugar and less than 1 gram of fat. One cup of cocoa powder contains 1.5 grams of sugar and about 12 grams of fat. One cup of semisweet chocolate chips has 92 grams of sugar and 50 grams of fat. The choice is yours, depending on your individual health goals. Carob with its natural sugar, fiber, and protein, has a low glycemic index and does not spike blood sugar the way that chocolate does. You may find that you can add less sweetener to recipes when using carob in place of cocoa.

Fido and feline friendly. Carob does not contain high levels of theobromine, a compound found in chocolate that is toxic to dogs and cats in large quantities. Those dog treats you see in the pet stores that look good enough for us humans to eat are made with carob, not chocolate.

Use carob powder as you would cocoa. Some ideas:

  • Add to smoothies
  • Sprinkle on yogurt or ice cream
  • Add to your favorite quick bread or pancake batter
  • Make a hot carob drink in place of hot chocolate
  • Make a creamy carob pudding
  • Replace candy bars with carob bars
  • Brownies
  • Substitute carob chips in any recipe that calls for chocolate chips    

Carob can be used in a 1:1 ratio in most recipes that require chocolate or cocoa. If you’re not sure about the flavor, you might first try swapping half of your cocoa chips or cocoa powder with the carob chips or powder. Carob can be purchased in many of the same forms as cocoa products, including chips, powder, extract, and syrup. They can be found at health food stores, specialty stores, and online.

The FDA has approved carob for consumption and as an additive in food, medications, and cosmetics. Carob allergies are rare.

As you relax and enjoy your carob treats, remember to drop a few crumbs for the dog.

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Or are you waiting for the perfect time to…                            

…learn a new skill?

…write the book?

…eat better and feel great in your body?

We often think that the timing must be perfect for us to begin something. We’ll start eating better after the weekend. We’ll start moving when we find the right exercise program. We’ll start making healthier meals when we’re not so busy.

Someday. Tomorrow. Never.

I heard a really good song this week, “Getting Good,” sung by Lauren Alaina and Trisha Yearwood. It speaks of life getting good once I fall in love, get the money, buy the car, have the house. Finally, the realization: “Once I learn to soak up every moment, I’ll realize my life’s already good!”

Give it a listen. I think you’ll like it.

There is no perfect time to do what matters to you. Take the moment of now. It’s risky. Waiting allows you to avoid possible failure.

It also keeps you from living a full life. When is your life getting good?

Whatever you’ve been putting off, it’s time to start. Take some kind of action. Find out how you can begin learning that new skill and sign up.

Plan one meal you can make this weekend and get the necessary ingredients. Put on your sneakers and get moving.

You may feel some resistance. You may forget your grocery list or misplace those sneakers. Keep forging ahead.

It takes time to go from “start” to “habit.” Give yourself grace.

Put it in your calendar. Do what you can with the time you have, even if it feels imperfect. Make a plan and simply start. Get support if you aren’t able to get started on your own and feel stuck.

Here’s an idea to help you try something new. Join me on Zoom and we’ll make tomato pie together! (If you’ve got tomatoes, you can make this with me.) Today, August 27 from 11:00am to 12:30pm central. Send me an email to reserve your spot and get the Zoom link. It’s my summer gift to you.

Sending you love,
Carol

I’m thinking, once I learn to grow right where I’m planted, maybe that’s when life starts getting good.”—Emily Weisband

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This recipe yields two 9-inch pie crusts.

  • 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend (Namaste and King Arthur are brands I’ve used) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons butter, well chilled
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 8 to 10 Tablespoons ice cold water

In a large bowl combine the gluten free flour blend and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly and the particles are the size of small peas. (You could use a box grater to shred the butter into the flour or cut into small pieces, then mix using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers.) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the beaten egg. Gently work it in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Be gentle and work quickly to keep the dough as flaky as possible. Overworking your pie dough results in a tough crust.

Add the iced water to the center, one tablespoon at a time, working it in by hand until you have a moist, crumbly dough. The crumbles should stick when squeezed together. Gluten free crust should be made with more liquid than a traditional pie crust, or else it will become very dry.

Shape the dough into a large ball and cut in half. Place each half onto a sheet of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with a bit of gluten free flour blend. Form each half into a smooth disk. Sprinkle with more flour blend and cover with another piece of parchment.

Roll each disc between the parchment paper until it is 2 inches larger than the pie plate. Carefully peel off the top layer of parchment. Pick up the rolled pie crust by the under layer of parchment, center it over the pie plate, and quickly flip it over onto the plate. Carefully pull the bottom layer of parchment off the pie crust. If the crust breaks in a few spots, and it probably will (so don’t panic), pinch the dough back together in those spots.

Note: If you plan to have the dough sitting out in a ball while you are preparing the filling, keep it covered with a lightly dampened paper towel, as it tends to dry out quickly. Gluten free pie dough is fragile, so a little cracking when transferring it to the pie plate is normal.