Rhubarb & Apricot Compote Parfait

What is one of the best ways to sneak an extra serving of vegetables in at breakfast or dessert? Pretend the vegetable is a fruit!

Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, despite its famous use in strawberry-rhubarb pie. It is also delicious in savory dishes, but one of my favorite ways to eat it is in compote form, which is just a fancy way of saying a sauce you can use like a jam or finishing syrup.

First, I chopped the rhubarb (just the stalks, not the toxic leaves) into approximately 1 inch slices,

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Then I chopped a few fresh apricot, adding sweetness, color, and great flavor to the mix.

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The fruit, along with honey, water and a vanilla bean were all added to a large pot and simmered together for a few minutes. The vanilla adds a lovely undertone, but if you don’t have any handy, this compote will still be scrumptious if you skip it – I promise.

The end result is a sweet-tart, delicious mixture that is the consistency of thick applesauce.

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Once it cooled, I layered it generously with some Greek style vanilla yogurt and topped it off with my favorite granola.

This has been a great way to start my day this week, and soo easy to put together. It even did double duty as dessert one night!

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Rhubarb & Apricot Compote Parfait
Compote
1 lb fresh rhubarb, chopped in 1 inch slices
½ lb fresh apricots (about 4), pitted and chopped
½ cup clover honey
½ cup water
1 vanilla bean

Parfait
Rhubarb-apricot compote
20 oz of Greek style vanilla yogurt
granola for garnish (optional)

 

Add the rhubarb, apricots, honey and water to a large pot. Scrape the seeds out of the center of the vanilla bean, and add both the seeds and the pod to the pot. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb has started to soften. Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla pod from the pot, and let the rhubarb mixture cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes ~2.5 cups of compote.

To make the parfait, layer equal amounts of the Rhubarb & Apricot Compote and Greek style vanilla flavored yogurt in a glass. Garnish with granola and serve. Makes 5 parfaits.

 

 

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Does Color Affect Taste?

When you pick up a sports drink or your favorite mineral infused water, do you chose by its flavor, nutrients, or color? Does the color of your food or beverage impact the way you think it tastes?   beverageColors These questions intrigue me and have actually been on my mind for decades. When I was in middle school, I had the pleasure of being an unsuspecting test subject for another student’s science fair project. He secretly colored apple juice different colors and recorded how each person thought the drinks tasted. I don’t remember his results so why not conduct a similar experiment with my family?

I decided to test this concept using mashed potatoes. Yes, I colored perfectly good, made-from-scratch mashed potatoes with food dye, but I thought it was a worthy cause in the name of science (and my curiosity). coloredFood The toddler poked each color, and ultimately chose the blue potatoes to taste . . . and then spit out. However, I don’t think the spitting out is related to the color, he later spit out the non-dyed potatoes. coloredFood_what to taste My preschooler started with the pink potatoes, and cleared her plate of every color. Either she doesn’t care about the color of her food, or she remembered our experiment earlier in the day (read on to see what I mean).

My husband’s first reaction was, “That looks like Play-Doh®”. Then after scanning the color options he took a bite of the blue potatoes (which he must really trust me if he thought it could be modeling clay). This bite was eaten with a grimace, since he expected something sweet, not mashed potatoes. Later he explained his selection process: he thought the pink looked like cotton candy, and the yellow and blue also appealed to his candy taste buds, but he chose the blue since it was the closest to his reach.

Interesting, but inconclusive results.

Why didn’t I just use the colored water in the variety of hues pictured above? The short answer is it didn’t have the element of surprise. My daughter helped me color the water,

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and then after photos, mix each colored sample together to create what I would call a drab olive green. drabolivegreen Which she wanted to drink.

According to her it tasted good, and tasted like water. Yep, I can’t fool the three year old.

Consequently, I think the element of not knowing that all the colored items are the same food or beverage is key to the success of this experiment.

Clearly my sample set of three isn’t enough to get a convincing answer, though it was still fun to try. Plus you don’t have just my data, research by Hoegg and Alba suggests that color DOES impact beverage choice .

If you or a budding scientist in your house decides to try a similar experiment, I’d love to hear about it. Just remember (especially if the work is being used for a science fair) that the informed consent rules apply since it involves human participation.

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No-Bake Amaranth & Currant Cookies

To add variety to my family’s diet and explore gluten free options, I have been trying different grains. Amaranth is a gluten free, pseudo-cereal (it’s actually a seed) that packs an impressive amount of nutrients – it is high in calcium, iron, potassium, and protein – in its small frame. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as bread, a substitute for other grains in salads or soups, and a porridge-like breakfast cereal. While I personally find that the earthy tones are a bit over powering when eaten like a porridge, I love the unique flavors it adds to these no-bake cookies.

You may ask why no-bake, and the simple answer is laziness. While this recipe could easily be tweaked if you are following a raw diet, I really just wanted to try a simple and quick recipe that could satisfy pestering kids or a craving for sweets. The added bonus is they are a guilt-free solution with very little sugary ingredients.

 

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The nutty flavor of the little yellow seeds (which are fun to play with in a sensory bin kind of way, according to my preschooler) is enhanced with a quick dry toasting.

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This nutty flavor is balanced with the buttery taste and mouthfeel of the almond meal and coconut oil. A bit of currants and almond slivers add just the right amount of texture.

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It is hard to believe that such a small amount of oil and honey can hold these cookies together, but it works. With no oven heating either, this recipe is going to be a year round favorite in my house.

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The true testament to their tastiness is the fact that my picky toddler kept begging for more, and my husband polished off the plate shortly thereafter. Perhaps I should have made a double batch.

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No Bake Amaranth & Currant Cookies

1/4 cup amaranth grain
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/8 cup almond slivers
1/8 cup dried currants
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 ½ tablespoons honey

Pour the amaranth grain into a non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. Toast the seeds until they turn a light brown color and a few seeds pop. Remove from the heat and pour the seeds into a large bowl.

Add the almond meal, amaranth flour, almond slivers, currants, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl and stir together.

Add the vanilla, coconut oil, and honey, then mix until the dough holds together (add more coconut oil if necessary to get the dough to hold together). Form into balls or cookie shaped disks, moving quickly to prevent the heat of your hands from melting the coconut oil.

You can eat them right away, but they firm up nicely after a few hours in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 dozen, 2-inch diameter cookies.

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A Start of Something New

 

After years of intent, I have finally made this blog happen. Since it is meant to be a celebration of my food adventures, it deserves a proper start with a proclamation of goodwill & thanks – a cheers.

Traditionally, cheers involves the clinking of glasses and well wishing. To my daughter, cheers involves clinking together whatever she is holding, and most often a fork. How fitting for a food blog!  With fork raised high, I thank you for joining me on my journey and encourage you to dig in.

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