Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

I've been on a blogging break lately. My world has been a bit crazy, as it turns out. In the last month, I've had my third child and moved into a new house (in that order). My dear parents and friends have been so supportive of me and my family during this time, providing us with lots of healthy, gluten free meals. I've been craving a lot of soup lately, and as it turns out, soup is a great meal to make for the new mom, especially one with a gluten sensitivity. (Check out Ali's post on nourishing the new mom for ideas on the perfect foods to feed moms during this phase of life.)

With all of these soups, stews, and chilis we've been eating lately, it's nice to have something "bready" to go along with them, so the other day I found a few minutes between nursing my newborn and chasing my toddler around the house to make this cornbread. The original recipe is one from Ali of the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen; I adapted proportions and made a few ingredient substitutions to fit what I had on hand in my pantry.

Overall, this is an excellent cornbread, getting rave reviews from my husband and four year old (in fact, I was told that it was "scrumptious" at dinner last night). And it is really easy to make, which is what I need right now during this postpartum season of life.

Pumpkin Cornbread

Dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup sweet brown rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (I used a puree from a roasted pumpkin pie pumpkin, but you could use canned pumpkin if that's all you have)
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish with coconut oil.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs through coconut oil until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Baby News

My husband and I welcomed with love our new baby, Cole Christian, into the world on Tuesday, November 22, 2011. He was born at home (planned home birth) with the help of two amazing midwifes, Kate Saumweber-Hogan and Melanie Gray. I am so in love with this new little miracle, my third son. I thank God that he is healthy and perfect.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Granola (gluten free)

I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin right now. And anything snackie. I decided to combine these two elements in my latest kitchen creation for a granola full of the flavors of fall. Perfect for breakfast or snacks, this addictive granola will have you giddy at the first bite (at least this is the reaction I got from my kids).

Although oats themselves have quite a bit of protein and fiber, I always like to up the ante of these super important nutritional aspects by adding in some nuts and seeds. I also like the use of maple syrup in here verses agave, as maple syrup combines so well with the pumpkin flavor. Of course, if you don't have any maple syrup on hand, agave would be a suitable substitute. A note about maple syrup: always make sure you buy 100% real maple syrup, and don't be afraid to buy Grade B- it's cheaper and I think it has a better flavor.

And I'm happy to report that Trader Joe's now carries a 2 lb. bag of certified gluten free oats for only $3.98! This saves a bit over the Bob's Red Mill brand of certified gluten free oats, ranging from $5.25 to $6.75 per 2 lb. bag. This is great news for a frugal gal like me.

Pumpkin Granola

Dry ingredients:
4 cups gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds (or a combo of both)
1/2 cup Xylosweet (xylitol) or coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon chia and/or flax seeds
pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger)

Wet ingredients:
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 drops liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Combine wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and, using a large spatula, stir a few times to make sure all dry ingredients are evenly coated.

Pour granola evenly between the two prepared baking sheets and, using the spatula, spread granola out to a single layer on each baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes. Stir granola. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Eat immediately or let cool on wire racks until completely cooled (at least an hour) before storing in an airtight container.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beef and Pumpkin Pasta Bake (gluten free)

The time has come for comfort foods. I'm craving soups and hearty one pot dishes a lot these days. This afternoon as I sat down to figure out what I was going to make for dinner, I had no particular ideas in mind, other than something quick and comforting and satisfying... a pasta bake idea started to percolate. Digging around in the fridge and pantry, I started pulling out ingredients, hoping to make some sort of sense of them all.

This is what came of it. It actually reminded me a lot of the Hamburger Helper's of my childhood past. A dish so great, everyone gobbled it up in a hurry. My almost two year old kept asking for, "Mooaaar" with his cute sign language hand motions.

I love that it has pumpkin in it, helping us to savor the flavors of fall. But yet it does not have an overtly "pumpkin" taste. Rather it just adds some rich creaminess and color, and is also a great way to add extra nutrients and "sneak" in veggies that kids don't really know are in there. (This is a handy tool these days as my youngest child refuses to eat vegetables... a constant source of frustration for me!) Hopefully soon he will learn to love his vegetables as his older brother does, and in the meantime, recipes like this one are lifesavers for mom's with a child like mine.

Beef and Pumpkin Pasta Bake

8 oz. brown rice penne
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt, pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Cook penne in a pot of gentle boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 9x13 inch pan lightly with coconut oil cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Chop onion and garlic and add to pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add beef and crumble as you cook until beef is browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, cream cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook until cream cheese is melted. Add cooked penne and stir.

Pour into prepared pan. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese in melted.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread (gluten, sugar, and dairy free)

We are overloaded with pumpkins right now: some from our CSA and some from the pumpkin patch. It seems we just couldn't resist stocking up on these lovely vegetables. Last week, I roasted a pumpkin and had the puree sitting in the fridge, waiting to be baked into something delicious.

I began scouring the internet for a gluten free pumpkin bread recipe but was unable to find one that fit the criteria of my gluten free pantry staples. I was also shocked at how much sugar the recipes I found called for: 1- 2 cups in some cases for one loaf of bread! Yikes! Needless to say, I was anxious to try my hand at my own recipe, one using a lot less sweetener (and a sugar free one at that) as well as incorporating some extra protein in for this pregnant body.

In this recipe, I state using a pumpkin puree, but to be honest, my pumpkin wasn't completely pureed... I actually used the flesh of the cooked pumpkin in the consistency it was when I scooped it out of the shell- a bit chunky. I thought at first that maybe this would impact the taste, but not at all. In fact, it gave the bread an almost rustic feel, where I noted a few chunks of cooked pumpkin in each slice. So wether you used pumpkin puree (from a can or fresh) or cooked pumpkin right out of the shell, either way will deliver a wonderfully moist pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Bread (gluten, sugar, and dairy free)

Dry ingredients:
1 cup Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour (or use 3/4 cup brown rice or sorghum flour + 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca powder)
1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup Xylosweet (xylitol) + 1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/4 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree (either fresh or canned)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a bread loaf pan (I used an 8x8 size) with coconut spray.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, then add EVOO, water, and pumpkin and whisk again until fully incorporated. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir a few times until batter is completely mixed.

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes before removing and slicing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Chia Pudding

I've been craving protein a lot lately. I think this is common with pregnancy, as I'm also told that protein is super important during pregnancy in general. I've had to get creative with my protein sources lately, as my appetite has been a little unpredictable. This pudding is packed with protein sources, thanks to the chia seeds, kefir, and almond butter. It's highly nutritious, has no added sugar, and fills you up for hours.

Chia seeds are so unique. I discovered them in my raw food days and have been a fan ever since. They are full of Omega-3's, protein, and fiber- for a triple packed nutritious punch. They also help stabilize blood sugar levels and are naturally gluten free. They can be used in all sorts of ways, such as add-ins for granola or smoothies, toppings for salads or soups, or my favorite way shown in this recipe: to make pudding. This tiny seed, when added to liquids and let set for several hours, becomes gel-like and thickens the liquid like crazy.

And so my craving for protein has led me to experimenting with this pudding for over a week now, each time experimenting with different proportions to get it "just right." Today I landed on it. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. (Please note: you will probably want to double this recipe so that you have lots of pudding left over for quick breakfasts or snacks. It will keep for at least three days in the fridge.)

Chocolate Chia Pudding

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup plain kefir or yogurt
1 banana
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 drops liquid stevia
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 cup water

Place all ingredients in the order listed into Vitamix or high powered blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Enjoy right away or refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the chia seeds to expand and become gluey, making the pudding really thick.

Speaking of pregnancy, I'm almost into my 32nd week now, and starting to feel that "bigness" that comes with the third trimester. And we are still waiting to move into our new house, so Lord help me that I don't have to have my home birth at my parent's house!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Dip

New addiction alert!!! Raw caramel apple dip for all of those wonderfully tart and sweet apples in season right now. Funny thing is, the ingredients in this recipe resemble nothing of the typical caramel dip you find in stores, which are full of sugar and nothing else (and often times it's not even real sugar). This recipe, however, is actually good for you. Who knew that you could eat your caramel apple dip and get your protein too? Well, this is proof that you can (thanks to my friend the cashew).

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogger's site, The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. Ali posted it about a year ago, and I've been waiting in anticipation for apple season this year to make it. It is divine, to say the least. Creamy, smooth, sweet... the apple's perfect dipping companion. I changed Ali's recipe up slightly: adding cinnamon, decreasing the amount of maple syrup and adding in a few drops of liquid stevia instead. I also found that I need to use the date soaking water to get this dip to the perfect creamy consistency.

My favorite way to inhale (I mean... enjoy this) is with sliced, raw apples, but it is also delicious as a dip for crackers, pears, or carrots, or as a spread for bread or icing for cinnamon roles. Or maybe you'll just want to eat it plain, right from the spoon!

Just to let you know how good it is, I've already made five batches of this in two weeks. :)

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Dip

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup dates
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 drops liquid stevia
pinch salt

Soak cashews in water for 2-3 hours. Soak dates separately in about 1 cup of water for 2- 3 hours (save date soaking water).

Drain cashews and put in a Vitamix or high powered blender. Remove dates from soaking water and add to cashews, along with remaining ingredients. Turn blender on low speed and slowly increase speed as ingredients come together to form a smooth consistency, adding a few tablespoons of date soaking water at a time to keep mixture flowing smoothly. Once it is flowing, run the Vitamix on high for 10 or so seconds.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Buckwheat Muffins with Carrot and Pear (gluten and sugar free)

Remember me saying it's been muffin mania around here lately? It's true, and I'll prove it by providing yet another delicious muffin recipe with you. This round I chose to use buckwheat flour as my main ingredient. I was intrigued by Ali of the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's Buckwheat Muffin recipe; she claimed that due to the properties of this particular flour, it creates an almost "stringy goo" which holds all the ingredients together, therefore no xanthan gum is needed. Since I was currently out of xanthan gum, I thought I'd give this recipe a try.

Results? Wonderful and gobbled by my kiddos and husband alike. I did tweak Ali's recipe slightly by halving it, using grated pear in place of the applesauce, adding almond milk (I found the batter too dry without it), and using chocolate chips in place of the raisins (my husband is not a fan of raisins, can you believe that?!). The proportions turned out just right and the flavor was fantastic.

I commented on Ali's post that I would be making variations of the buckwheat muffin in the weeks to come. I'm envisioning a pumpkin version with cloves and nutmeg in addition to the ginger and cinnamon... stay tuned. In the meantime, try this dazzling recipe. Let me know how you like it!

Buckwheat Muffins with Carrot and Pear

Dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot powder
1/ 4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1 cup finely grated pear (or applesauce)
3/4 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with silicone liners.

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together pear through grated carrot and stir to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir again to form the muffin batter. Add chocolate chips or raisins and stir once more to incorporate.

Evenly distribute muffin batter into prepared muffin tins, filling close to the tops. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banana Pecan Muffins (gluten, grain, and sugar free)

It's muffin mania around here lately. I've been cranking out the muffins a lot these days, as this seems to be the overwhelming breakfast request in my house. I love these muffins in particular because they are so high in fiber and protein, thanks to the coconut flour. Baking with coconut flour can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it (they require a lot of eggs to help them rise and not taste so "chalky"), you will love it for the sheer nutritional content.

This recipe only makes 6 muffins, so I usually double it to make sure we have a few leftover for snacks-on-the-go.

Banana Pecan Muffins

3 eggs
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
2 tablespoons almond or other milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup coconut flour
2-3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1/2 ripe banana
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 6 cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.

In a bowl, whisk eggs with coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla. Add baking powder, salt, coconut flour, and palm sugar. Whisk again until combined, removing as many lumps as possible. Slice banana into thin slices and add to batter, along with pecans and chocolate chips. Stir again a few times to incorporate.

Pour batter into prepared tin, filling close to the top of the liners. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.

Makes 6 muffins.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Simple Bread (gluten, grain, and dairy free)

My inspiration for this recipe comes yet again from Elana. Gosh, I love her. Her recipes are so simple and always delicious. Since the weather has cooled, my yearning to bake has come alive. And today I just needed a really good, gluten free bread. Everyone in our house has been eating a lot of toast lately (organic, yes, but filled with gluten no less), so I've been feeling a bit left out. This morning I sought to change that by making a gluten free bread that I can indulge in just like the rest of 'em.

I used Elana's Bread 2.0 recipe as a guide, but since she bakes hers in the Magic Loaf 7.5x3.5" pan and mine is currently packed away in the storage unit, I only had access to an 8x4" pan, which means I needed to increase a few ingredient proportions to make sure this bread did not come out of the pan completely flat. I also added some extra virgin olive oil to make this bread a little more savory and moist. I am very happy with the results! My kids seemed to gobble this up too, always a sure-fire sign that a recipe is blog-worthy. I love how the top of this bread gets nice and brown, slightly crunchy to the touch, giving it a rustic, comfort food feel.

Since I've had this bread at least three different times throughout the day, I've had ample opportunities to top it off with various twists: butter and honey, jam, plain, and almond butter. Elana recommends spreading it with goat cheese, which sounds divine. You can eat it for your morning toast, make a nice sandwich out of it for lunch, or serve it alongside some soup for dinner (we ate it with our Thai Coconut Chicken Soup tonight). Very versatile, very healthy, very high in protein and fiber; simply a bread you can eat and feel really good about.

Simple Bread

Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cups almond flour
3/4 cups arrowroot powder
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
5 eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1 teaspoon agave or honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan with olive or coconut oil.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, EVOO, ACV, and agave. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Use a small silicone spatula to remove from pan. Slice and serve.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

This recipe came to me from one of my girlfriends who makes a version of these that looks divine, but unfortunately for me, is not gluten free. So I've had to adapt the recipe to fit my gluten and sugar free dietary needs. And let me tell you, these granola bars take the cake! They are so delicious!

My first batch of these were devoured for breakfasts and snacks by my family, very quickly, proving their addictiveness. Although the list of ingredients seems a little long, this recipe does, in fact, come together very quickly.

So the next time you're craving one of those packaged granola bars for a quick breakfast or snack, try whipping up a batch of these instead. In this case for sure, homemade trumps store bought by a long shot.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquified
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan with coconut oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk egg and add remaining wet ingredients. Continue whisking until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir thoroughly. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars. Let set another 30 or more minutes before indulging.

Makes 16-24 bars (depending on your size preference).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cinnamon Honey Scones (gluten, grain, and dairy free)

I've sort of been on a scone kick as of late. I've always loved the things (see here and here for some of my other scone recipes) and with the crispness of the morning air the last week or two, these divine baked goods have been calling to me (either that or it's a random baby craving from my pregnancy... I'm really not sure). I've made these a few times and they've definitely satisfied not only my craving, but also my body with the high protein and high fiber content. My kids love to eat them spread with fruit-sweetened jam, and I think they are excellent with a dab of butter and some extra honey. Sometimes we eat them alone, but they are also a wonderful compliment to some eggs and fruit for a weekend brunch.

Cinnamon Honey Scones

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Xylosweet
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly spray with coconut oil cooking spray).

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined. Form into a dough ball and place dough ball onto prepared baking sheet. With slightly wet hands, press the dough ball into an 8 inch even circle.

Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the scone circle. Score the scone circle into 8 even wedges.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut through the scored wedges to separate. Place back in oven for 2-4 more minutes to allow the edges of the scones to crisp up a bit (I like mine a little crispy).

Enjoy with fruit-sweetened jam or grass fed butter and raw honey.

Makes 8 scones.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fresh Garden Salsa

Tomatoes are here! My dad has been bringing home tomatoes from my grandma's backyard tomato plants, which have been growing spectacularly. Mine, on the other hand, were complete duds this year.

(Whoa, back up. Did that sound weird to anyone but me? My dad has been bringing home tomatoes... Yes, it's true, I am now living with my parents. I am a grown woman, so let me explain. My husband and I sold our house this week and aren't able to move into the house we are trying to buy for another month, so it's purely transitionary living. Now that's not so bad, huh? Actually, it's kind of fun living with my parents again!)

And I'm super lucky that my parents get the whole "healthy eating" thing. In fact, they are bonafide aficionados of a local co-op and shop there weekly. Their counter and refrigerator are always full of fresh produce. They wake up to fresh fruit and veggie smoothies, lunch on simple salads, and enjoy cooking whole foods at every meal. Their kitchen is truly like my own kitchen. Isn't that grand?

So back to the tomatoes. When I saw them laying on the counter this evening, the salsa craving struck. My husband used to be the salsa maker in our house, but he's been just a tad busy lately with work and the move (!!!) of course, so I thought I'd pick up the ball and run with it. I'm glad I documented my salsa making experience tonight because it turned out perfect.

This is such a simple, delicious salsa, you'll wonder why you ever buy store-bought salsa again.

Fresh Garden Salsa

3 medium size tomatoes, quartered (about 3 cups)
1 zucchini flower, quartered
1 small serrano pepper, seeded
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped cilantro and/or parsley
1 tablespoon vinegar
3 drops liquid stevia
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in the order listed in a Vitamix or blender. Pulse on low speed until salsa reaches desired consistency.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eggplant Panzanella (gluten free, dairy free)

It's been a frustrating year of growing vegetables in my backyard. First, the weather has been quite A typical of a normal Minnesota summer. Lots of storms, lots of heat, lots of humidity, and all very early on in the season. Then there were the rabbits. And then there were (and still are) the Japanese Beetles. Oh boy. With that combination of farming nightmares (at least farming in my own little urban garden), I have only three out of my nine crops planted left: eggplant, peppers, and a very small portion of kale. All of my other plants had to be uprooted last week. It was very sad, especially when you think of the time, money, and patience put into the growing process. Thankfully, this is the first year we decided to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), so despite my lack of backyard produce, we have not been short of fresh and local veggies.

That being said, my eggplant not only survived the harshness of the season, it has flourished. And now I have a ton of it. That, combined with the zucchini and summer squash from my CSA, has pretty much filled up my crisper drawer. Time to put those fresh veggies to good use.

I've never been a "bread" salad kind of girl, especially after giving up gluten. However, I was watching an episode of Kelsey Nixon's Kelsey's Essentials recently during my workout, and she had an inspiring recipe for a fresh panzanella salad that looked divine. And as luck would have it, I just so happened to have a bag of gluten free bread chunks in my freezer just waiting to be used up. So I came up with a version of the panzanella salad, gluten free style. And now that I know how easy and delicious it is to make this (and gluten free no less), it will be a staple in my house this time of year when those veggies come knocking on my crisper door.

Eggplant Panzanella (gluten free, dairy free)

1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 small summer squash
1 green pepper
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (or 2 medium fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper

6 cups gluten free bread chunks or crumbs (I get a bag of GF bread chunks in the freezer section of my local coop)
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
salt, pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Chop eggplant, zucchini, squash, and pepper into large bite size chunks and place in a large bowl. Drain juice from can of tomatoes, or if using fresh tomatoes, chop into large chunks and add to bowl. Drizzle veggies with oil and salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each). Stir to combine. Spread in a single layer onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven.

Meanwhile, spread bread chunks evenly onto the other prepared baking sheet. Grate garlic cloves over bread and drizzle with oil. Bake for 6-8 minutes, during last part of baking time for the veggies.

Remove both pans from oven. Place bread chunks in a large bowl to stop from browning further. Let veggies cool on pan for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then add to bowl with bread chunks.

For the dressing, add vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of both salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl. Whisk in oil in a steady stream until emulsified. Pour dressing over bread salad. Stir to combine.

This salad can be served immediately, but flavors deepen if allowed to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Minute Steaks in Garlic Tomato Sauce

Ahh, the minute steak. The seemingly last cut of meat to get cooked out of my bulk purchase of 30 lbs. of grass fed beef from our local beef farmer. What to do with these guys? I am always asking myself. Usually I make chicken fried steak out of the minute steak, but the other night I wanted something different. Something juicy. Something comforting.

In my online research about the best ways to cook this often neglected cut of meat, I found that it really should be slow cooked in some form of acid to get it to a tender state. After some thought, I realized I haven't made a lot of tomato-based dishes lately, so that became my cooking-acid of choice. It worked out fabulously! My four year old told me the house smelled "delicious" while this was cooking on the stove, "just like a restaurant," (a sure sign that I've hit the mark on dinner).

In fact, it was so good, I raved to my husband about this dish (he unfortunately missed this manly meat-and-potatoes meal due to some work deadlines), and I'm not one to rave about steaks in general, let alone minute steaks. So I knew it had to make an appearance on the 18 Hour Kitchen as this will definitely be one recipe I'll keep coming back to when our next round of beef is scheduled for delivery and those minute steaks need to get used up quick!

Minute Steaks in Garlic Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. minute steaks (about three 1/3 lb. steaks)
1/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Chop onion and add to pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes until translucent.

Meanwhile, rough chop garlic and dredge steaks on both sides in GF flour, shaking off excess flour. Add steaks to pan and spread garlic around steaks in pan. Cook steaks 3-4 minutes per side, until browned.

Next pour the whole can of tomatoes over the steaks in pan (including juice). Sprinkle oregano over tomatoes and add a few shakes of salt and pepper. Stir to evenly distribute sauce over and around steaks.

Bring to a gentle boil, then turn heat down to low, cover, and cook an additional 20 minutes, until steaks are tender. Serve steaks topped with garlic tomato sauce.

This dish pairs wonderfully with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Asian Slaw Salad

I'm going crazy with CSA produce, now that peak season is here. Last week we had a beautiful head of napa cabbage in our boxes and I thought it would be perfect turned into a sweet and savory Asian slaw.

I whipped this up one night for dinner as a side to go with some grass fed beef round steak from our favorite beef farmer. The slaw turned out so good! It reminds me of the Asian Chicken Salad (sans the chicken) from Applebee's that I remember from my past (gosh, I haven't been to an Applebee's in years, thank God, but I am thankful for the inspiration from their standby menu).

The dressing is so distinct and the toasted sunflower seeds really shine as an added flavor dimension. You could turn this into a meal all by itself by topping it with shredded or chopped cooked chicken (ala Applebee's). And it does really well the next day too, once the dressing has soaked completely into the cabbage and given it even more depth of flavor. If you don't have napa cabbage, you could sub any of your favorite cabbage in its place.

Asian Slaw Salad

1 head napa cabbage
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Chop cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine dressing ingredients (mustard through sesame oil) and stir. While continuing to stir, whisk in olive oil in a steady stream until thoroughly combined. Pour dressing over cabbage, add cranberries and sunflower seeds, and toss to coat.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Walnut Cherry Muesli

I've been wanting cereal lately... oh God... if you are gluten sensitive or intolerant, you know what misery this can be! Have you ever walked the cereal aisle, hoping to find one of your childhood favorites suddenly converted to gluten free? (Think: raisin bran, cheerios, grape nuts... not to mention the now vast array of organic ones like Kashi and Peace brands.) Well, gluten free cereals do exist, but they are few, far between, and expensive (and, at least the ones I've tried, not very tasty). So my alternative to the cereal craving is usually granola. I just finished eating a batch of my grain free granola and wanted something a little lighter, such as my simply granola with gluten free oats. The problem is this: we do not have central air in our wonderful (yet old) 1925 bungalow. So when the temps rise to the dreaded 90 and 100 degree weather, the oven is absolutely off limits.

So no simply granola for this cereal-craving-pregnant chic. :(

Oh what to do! Lament in the pools of sweat dripping down my face? I think not! How about some no bake, super easy, just mix and serve muesli to cure that craving?

Just what the doctor ordered. Turn to this yummy muesli for your next gluten free-summer-cereal-craving and you'll be satisfied (just like I was this morning!).

Walnut Cherry Muesli

1 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with yogurt or almond milk and top with sliced bananas or fresh berries.

Speaking of pregnant chic, check out that bumb! Me and my babies (Cooper, 19 months, and baby boy Buffington. Yes, that's right, we're having another boy!). 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Curried Potato Salad (vegan)

This is a super simple potato salad that is dairy and egg free (no mayo). We had our first batch of red potatoes in our CSA box last week, and I was anxious to turn them into a delicious salad. Since we also got a big bunch of cilantro in our CSA box, I thought I'd pair the two together and add some curry for a creative take to the standard in American summer side dish: potato salad.

I used my curry vinaigrette (AKA "Liquid Gold", which by now I am keeping a jar of it pre-made in the fridge) for a quick, go-to way to dress this salad. And by keeping it free of mayonnaise, you can have more peace of mind to take this to your outdoor BBQ's and pick-nicks by not having to worry about keeping it refrigerated.

You can eat this salad right away after making it, but I think it's even better the next day when the potatoes have had the chance to absorb all the wonderful curry flavor of the dressing.

Curried Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds small-medium size red potatoes
salt, pepper
1 green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup curry vinaigrette

In a medium-large saucepan, place washed potatoes (skins on), and cover with at least 1/2 inch of water. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to gentle boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water, place potatoes in a bowl, and refrigerate for an hour or so to cool.

Remove potatoes from refrigerator and bowl, and chop into medium size chunks. Add back to bowl. Salt and pepper potatoes. Chop green onion and add to potatoes, along with cilantro. Top with curry vinaigrette.

With a large spoon, carefully stir potato salad to incorporate all ingredients and distribute the vinaigrette.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Artichoke Salmon Salad

I was in a salmon kick last week and made tons of it one night so I'd be sure to have plenty of it as leftovers throughout the week. And I did. I felt like I was eating salmon for lunch and dinner for days! By the end of the week, I needed to come up with a way to use my remaining salmon in a unique way.

Based on one of my staple tuna salad recipes, I simply replaced the tuna with cooked, flaked salmon and voila!, a new favorite recipe is born. This is really creamy and rich (thanks to the good fat and omega 3's of that wild, Alaskan caught salmon), but yet it perfect for a light lunch when paired with simple greens or tucked inside a brown rice tortilla.

A couple of notes: I used canned, water packed artichokes to save on time, and you could also used canned, wild caught salmon if you don't have any cooked salmon readily available.

Artichoke Salmon Salad

1 cup flaked, cooked salmon
1 green onion
3 artichoke hearts

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 drops liquid stevia
salt, pepper

Put salmon in a bowl. Chop green onion and artichoke hearts and add to salmon. Combine all dressing ingredients, whisk, and pour over salmon salad mixture. Mix until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curry Vinaigrette

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from my friend's CSA newsletter. She made their version of it and served it over mixed greens one night when we were over for dinner, and my husband and I could not stop raving about it. I came home and knew I had to come up with a curry vinaigrette recipe of my own. I am a curry lover, and if you are like me, you will swear by this vinaigrette. It's become my new favorite; I love it so much I've dubbed it "the liquid gold." 

I'm into super simple mixed green salads these days as a product of our extremely hot weather, so that is how I've been using this dressing the most. However, I also think it would be delicious drizzled over some steamed kale or grilled veggies. 

Curry is such healthy a spice to add into your lifestyle. The turmeric is what makes it that beautiful yellow-gold color and it is beneficial for preventing cancer and is healthful in so many other ways!

Curry Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey (preferably raw)
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
salt, pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add dijon mustard through apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine. While continuing to whisk, slowly stream in the olive oil until emulsified.

Serve over mixed greens or over any steamed or grilled veggies.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stevia Sweetened Lemonade

Since summer is officially here (and we've had the summer weather to prove it), I figured it's about time I post this recipe: stevia sweetened lemonade. I love this stuff, and so does my family. We make a pitcher of this almost daily when it's hot out. It's nice to have an alternative to water, something with no sugar whatsoever, so you can drink with absolutely no guilt. Light, refreshing, and healthy!

The cool thing about this recipe is that is serves as a base recipe for all kinds of lemonades. If you want to add a little flair, try crushing a 1/2 cup of ripe strawberries in the bottom of the pitcher before adding the rest of the ingredients. Or add a handful of fresh mint. Or switch out the lemon juice for lime juice and add some cilantro. The options are endless!

Stevia Sweetened Lemonade

4 cups water + 2 cups ice
1/2 cup lemon juice
12-15 drops liquid stevia

In a large pitcher, add add ingredients and stir.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Morel Mushroom Parmesan Pizza

This recipe I'm sharing with you today is quite possibly the best gluten free recipe on this blog to date. I mean, it's A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! My husband and I created this together, based off a suggestion from the morel mushroom guy at our local farmer's market a few weeks back. After talking with the guy, who not surprisingly was doting on the wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor of the morel mushrooms he was selling, we decided to buy a few (and I mean a few, as in no more than 4 ounces, which still ended up costing us $11!). He promised we would not regret it (and for $11 mushrooms, he'd better not be lying). His serving suggestion was to toast some parmesan topped french bread in the oven for a few minutes and top them with sauteed morel mushrooms. It sounded simply enough, and yes, delicious. The only problem is that we don't eat french bread in our house, or any bread that contains gluten for that matter. So it got me thinking... what about a morel mushroom topped parmesan pizza? I knew I had a few Udi's pizza crusts in my freezer that I could pull out...

So that's exactly what we did that night for dinner. And spent the entire dinner oohing and ahhing over this darn good pizza. My husband (who does not abstain from gluten completely) said it was the absolute best pizza he's ever eaten, gluten free or otherwise. And I agreed. In fact, it was so good that we made the same pizza a few nights later, trying it with portabellas instead (since we were out of those $11 morels the same day we bought them). The result of the second time around? Almost as good, the morel version was just slightly better in our opinion, but both versions delish.

So my recommendation is that if morels are in season in your area, and you can afford it, go for the gusto. If not, try some portabellas. Either way, you'll be floating up to heaven on a dreamy pizza cloud for the few minutes it will take you to scarf down this delectable pizza.

And please, let me know your thoughts if you try this recipe. (And you should try this recipe!)

Morel Mushroom Parmesan Pizza (AKA the best pizza known to man)

1 Udi's gluten free pizza crust
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
3/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces (approx. 1 1/2 cups whole) morel mushrooms or 2 portabella mushrooms
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over the top and add garlic. Spread both evenly over crust with the back of a spoon. Spread parmesan in a even layer over oil and garlic. Bake for 7-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan. Slice mushrooms and add to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.

When crust is done, pull out of oven and spread sauteed mushrooms over crust in an even layer. Slice and enjoy.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Herb & Olive Quinoa (gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

Doesn't this dish just look happy? Like a quinoa confetti of sorts. It's such a great dish to serve in the summer because it tastes great at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated. Not to mention (as I do in all of my posts about quinoa), it has amazing health benefits. The protein and amino acids alone! I love it because it is so full of protein and yet so light on the tummy. I always end up going back for seconds.

This dish is super versatile. Use any kind of olives and herbs you have on hand. For the herbs, I just plucked a variety from my new garden. I really like the purple basil in here because provides a beautiful contrast in color from the green of the other herbs. I purposely made this dairy free, but I think a handful of feta cheese would also be tasty.

Herb & Olive Quinoa

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 1/4 cups water
pinch salt
1 cup mixed green and kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup loosely packed mixed herbs (I used green and purple basil, cilantro, and mint), chopped
1/2 toasted almond slivers or chopped almonds

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over med-low heat. Chop onion and garlic and add to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add quinoa and cook and additional minute. Add water, bring quinoa to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

Once quinoa has cooked, transfer to a serving bowl and add olives, herbs, and toasted almonds. Toss to coat.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pear Cranberry Coleslaw (gluten free, sugar free, vegan)

I have really been on a coleslaw kick these days. I know it's the weather. Coleslaw screams summer to me, and we've been having warm, sunny days for a few weeks now, which means summer is here (at least we hope). Last weekend I made two separate batches of coleslaw, one with a creamy mayonnaise dressing and one with a vinaigrette dressing, such as with this recipe. I much preferred the vinaigrette version and decided to play with it a little more until I got it just right. I love the addition of the fruit here too. If you're not a pear/cranberry fan, you can definitely sub apple for pear and raisins for cranberries and it would be just as delicious.

I love to serve this raw, colorful, super healthy salad with some grilled, grass fed burgers and homemade lemonade (sweetened only with stevia- that recipe to come...). It's the perfect addition to your backyard BBQ.

Pear Cranberry Coleslaw

1 medium head green cabbage
2 medium carrots
1 pear
1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten free brown rice syrup, agave, or honey
10 drops liquid stevia
pinch of each: salt, ground ginger, and nutmeg
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Shred cabbage and carrots in food processor fitted with shredding blade. Add to a large bowl. Dice pear and add bowl, along with cranberries.

In a separate, smaller bowl, add apple cider vinegar through spices and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and add olive oil in a slow stream.

Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

Serves a lot. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Applesauce Rhubarb Muffins (gluten free, sugar free)

My mom just gave me some rhubarb from her garden and I've been anxious to make something with it. This morning I had the hankering for muffins and thought the rhubarb would be a great fit. The problem was, when searching online for a gluten free, sugar free rhubarb muffin recipe, I was hard pressed to find one. So I scoured my cookbooks, and low and behold, I found this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens Baking Cookbook. Of course, I had to make some changes to make this fit my dietary needs (sans gluten and sugar), but I would venture to guess that these are every bit as good as the original gluten and sugar laden recipe. These will definitely make an annual appearance at my house whenever rhubarb season comes upon us.

The flour blend I used here is a new one to me. I've been searching for a pre-mixed flour blend that makes gluten free baking a snap. I decided to try Bob's Red Mill brand of all purpose gluten free flour blend to see what I thought. I chose this brand because I love the combo of flours he uses: garbanzo and fava beans, potato and tapioca starches, and sorghum, making this blend rather high on the protein and fiber scale (which I love), with 3 grams of each in a 1/4 cup serving. I'd read all sorts of reviews that people thought the "beany" flavor was too strong, but I chanced it anyway. And I have to say that I do not detect a hint of "bean-y-ness" in this flour blend at all. In fact, it has produced the most wonderful baked goods to date. The other morning I made Belgian waffles with this blend and my husband says the waffles were the best I've made to date (quite the high complement from him!). So I give this flour blend a five star rating; it's that good.

Applesauce Rhubarb Muffins

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Xylosweet (xylitol)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup chopped rhubarb

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Xylosweet (xylitol)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 9 muffin tins with paper or silicone liners.

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients: flour blend through salt. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, applesauce, and coconut oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine (batter may be a little lumpy). Fold in rhubarb.

Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over the tops of muffins. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let rest 5-10 minutes before enjoying.

Makes 9 muffins.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rustic Buckwheat Cinnamon Raisin Scones (gluten free)

I just love scones. A good, hearty, not-too-sweet, a tad crumbly, baked piece of heaven. As I mentioned in an earlier post on my strawberry scones, I used to enjoy scones every morning with a cup of coffee on my way to early morning classes in college. This recipe is probably my favorite gluten free scone version I have ever had. When I say rustic, I mean rustic, just how a good scone should be. The buckwheat flour is really what gives it that over-the-top rustic feel, along with the warming cinnamon spice and chunky bits of raisins.

And this scone recipe is not-too-sweet, seeming almost more biscuit-like than dessert-like. With only a tablespoon of agave and the raisins alone to provide the sweetness factor, it's not overpowering with sugars. Since I gave up refined sugars a year or so ago, my taste buds have become particularly sensitive to sweetness in any food. Some desserts I simply cannot eat anymore, because they are just "too" sweet for me. It's actually amazing to me that once you give up refined sugars (and decrease sweeteners of any kind, even kinds that don't raise blood sugar levels, such as stevia, xylitol, agave, etc.), your body just doesn't crave them anymore. Don't believe me? Try fasting sugars and sweeteners for at least 21 days and just see what happens (after the initial detoxing period of a week or so is over!).

I can't take the credit for this recipe. It comes from Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's cookbook. It was the first of her recipes from this book that I tried, and have made a few versions of it, trying to get my perfect version. I use a different flour blend than Amy; one of my flours of choice here is buckwheat flour. And I offer substitutions to the butter and cream if you want to keep it dairy-free. I personally like using butter in this recipe as opposed to coconut oil because I feel the butter really enhances the richness factor (but either are good). I have also tried this recipe without the xanthan gum, just to see what happens. It's still good, but definitely a lot more crumbly. I opt to keep it in.

Probably my favorite thing about these scones is the smell. You'll swear you are baking cinnamon rolls when these bad boys are in the oven!

Rustic Buckwheat Cinnamon Raisin Scones

3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/2 cup arrowroot powder (could substitute tapioca starch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter or solidified coconut oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut milk beverage (such as So Delicious), almond milk, or cream
1 tablespoon agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
egg wash (1 egg, lightly beaten, with 1 teaspoon water added)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon Xylosweet (xylitol)

Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. (Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, and no need to preheat it in the oven.) Lay a 10 inch wide section of parchment paper on the counter.

In a small bowl, add the warm water and raisins.

In a food processor, add buckwheat through salt. Pulse several times to combine. Add butter or coconut oil in chunks and pulse a few more times until resembles a crumbly mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the coconut milk, agave, and vanilla. Add egg mixture to food processor and pulse a few more times until a soft dough forms. Drain raisin soaking water, add raisins to processor, and pulse a remaining few more times until raisins are coarsely chopped and blended into dough.

Form the dough into a ball and place on the piece of parchment paper. Wet your hands and gently press the dough ball into an even 8 inch circle. Score the circle into six even slices with a sharp knife. With a paint brush or silicone brush, brush the egg wash over the entire circle, making sure to get all sides coated lightly. In another small bowl, combine the cinnamon and Xylosweet, then sprinkle over the scones with a spoon.

Remove the pizza stone from the oven and place the parchment paper with the scones on top of the stone (or put the parchment paper with the scones on the baking sheet). Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cut through each scored scone as to separate them completely. Place back in oven and bake for additional 3 minutes.

Let rest about five minutes before enjoying.

Makes 6 scones.

This post is a part of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Power Bites (gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, raw)

I have been in love with Larabars every since my raw food days. Simple ingredients, sweet- yes (thanks to the dates), but packed with protein and fiber. I keep a Larabar in my purse at all times in case of a hunger emergency. The only problem with Larabars is the cost. At most grocery stores, they retail for about $1.29 per bar, although I can frequently find them on sale for around $1.00 (at which times I purchase about 20 to stock up!). Nonetheless, I've been on a mission to create my own, homemade version of the Larabar. I knew it must be an easy recipe to re-create, with the list of ingredients so few and no baking required. Then all of a sudden, bloggers started posting recipes for their own versions, and came up with names ranging from energy bars, power bars, power balls, superfood bars, etc... Elana has posted quite a few in the last month or so (she's often a source of gluten free inspiration for me), an I've taken queues from this version in creating mine. And when she says they taste like cookie dough, she's right!

I've made so many batches of these, changing up the ingredients slightly each time, and this version is one of my favorites. I love the sunflower seeds in here. It almost gives these little guys a peanut-y taste (without the peanuts). I don't know how long they last in the fridge (I assume it would be a week or two) because we eat them all within two days... :)

So simple to make- it literally takes about five minutes- you have no excuse for not having an energy food on hand when you need it most (at about three o'clock for me!). Also makes a great pre-workout snack!

Chocolate Cherry Power Bites

1 cup Medjool dates (about 8), pitted
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons dried cherries

Place dates, walnuts, sunflower seeds, salt, and vanilla in a food processor and process for about a minute, until a course meal consistency is reached. Stop processor and add chocolate chips and cherries. Pulse for about 30 more seconds, until chocolate and cherries are coarsely chopped and integrated into the batter. Using a spoon, scoop about 1 tablespoon of mixture into your hands and form into balls. Repeat with remaining batter. Freeze for about 30 minutes, then store power bites in the fridge.

Makes about 18 power bites.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Banana Chocolate Pudding Pie (with Avocado)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, last week I made a version of Kelly the Spunky Coconut's Banana Chocolate Cream Pie. And is it ever good! Free of grains, sugar, and dairy, it feels so much more like a super food or power food than dessert. Truly, you can feel completely guilt-free eating this. It's light, not heavy at all, which I like in dessert-like food. Although the list of ingredients is lengthy, I believe the end result is well worth the effort of gathering them all for this recipe. I've been shaving off slices of this a few times a day... for me and my baby (well, he's not really a baby anymore, he's 16 months now, but he's my baby!). I actually love feeding this to him because he's getting doses of fruits and veggies and protein in every bite, and he thinks it's dessert!

This would also be a good dessert to serve at your Easter gathering. I mean, who doesn't love chocolate? And after a meal that's probably a bit more heavy than usual (as holiday meals tend to be), a light and delicious pudding-like pie is just the ticket to get everyone in the mood to hunt for Easter eggs (that is if you participate is such pagan festivities, right Dad?). Well, whatever it is you do on Easter, be it hunt for Easter eggs or just simply go to church and get together with family, this dessert is a great choice.

Banana Chocolate Pudding Pie (with Avocado)


1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon flax
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted


2 ripe bananas
1 ripe avocado
5 dates
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
10 drops liquid stevia
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (xylitol)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, place all ingredients in a food processor and process until coarsely mixed. Press into a 9 inch pie plate and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the filling, place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until completely smooth. Pour into cooled pie crust, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for a couple of hours before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Quinoa and Chicken Chipotle Stuffed Peppers

I don't know what gave me the hankering for stuffed peppers, but I got one yesterday. I have never actually made stuffed peppers myself, but have a friend who makes them all the time and raves. So when I went to the grocery store, I stocked up on bell peppers to make this dish. Not usually my go-to produce of choice, simply because the organic peppers at my coop are a tad on the expensive side (this time of year anyway), due to the fact that they have to travel all the way from Mexico. So for this dish, in the interest of keeping it a bit more on the economical side, I bought conventional bell peppers: 6 for $5.99, about a buck a piece. Not bad. (Of course, if you make this in the summer with bell peppers from your garden, it would cost you probably only a buck or two for all six. Note to self: make this with all those sweet patio peppers this summer!)

And since we don't eat a ton of rice here at home, I wanted to change up a traditional stuffed pepper recipe and use quinoa instead. Adding a few unexpected spices to it also gives it a whole new spark. Talk about bold and pungent flavors: cumin, curry, and chipotle chile! It's the kind of dish that makes your whole house smell divine (or as my four year old put it, "Mommy, the house smells spectacular!" He's really into big words these days.)

I've said it before, and will say it again: because this dish is cheesy, it's so appealing to kids. Mine scarfed it down, faster than me, and that's saying something because come dinner time, I was hungry!

The credit for this recipe goes to Vegetarian Times. My favorite magazine and online recipe source, the fab crew over there has done it again (I make Vegetarian Times recipes almost weekly with astounding success). Not entirely the same recipe, but definitely the same concept. My version, of course, is not vegetarian, thanks to the chicken, but it would still taste wonderful without it if you want to nix the chicken on account of your vegetarian needs. Or if you like the extra kick of protein that you get from the meat (not that this dish needs extra protein; the quinoa and black beans alone provide tons of it), you could substitute taco meat in place of the shredded chicken. (We have leftover taco meat from grass fed beef all the time because tacos are, without a doubt, my husband's favorite meal. His nickname growing up was the "Taco King." You get the drift.)

Any way you dice it, this stuffed pepper dish was a winner at our house and is sure to make it back on a recurring basis.

Quinoa and Chicken Chipotle Stuffed Peppers

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 medium onion
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder (or any kind chile powder)
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked rotisserie chicken
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
salt, pepper
6 large red bell peppers (or any bell pepper color of your choice)
1/4-1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, heat coconut oil. Chop onion and celery and mince garlic. Add to pan and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and cook another minute. Next add tomatoes and spinach, put the lid on the pot for about 3 minutes, until the spinach is bright green and wilted. Then add beans, chicken, stock, and quinoa. Stir to fully incorporate. Add 1 cup of cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and stir again until the cheese melts. Bring to a gentle boil, turn heat down to a simmer, and place lid on pan, cooking for about 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is mostly cooked (it's ok if it's not fully cooked as it will finish cooking in the oven).

Meanwhile, slice bell peppers in half lengthwise and clean out ribs and seeds. (You can leave stems on or off depending on preference. I removed the stems.) Fill peppers all the way to the top with quinoa mixture and place side by side in a large baking dish (you may need either two 8x8 dishes or a 9x13 and another small dish). Pour 1/4 cup water in each dish, enough to just coat the bottom of the dish.

Place foil on baking dishes and bake in preheated oven for one hour. Remove foil, top each stuffed bell pepper half with remaining cheese, and bake uncovered an additional 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe is a part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe is a tribute to my dad. For years, as many as I can remember, every Sunday morning he would make a batch of muffins and he always put chocolate chips in them. It was like his trademark. And I loved it. Anything with chocolate in it, and muffins were no exception.

This morning, I was thinking about my dad's tradition of the chocolate chip muffins and decided I needed my own Sunday morning chocolate chip muffin recipe. I also wanted a naturally sweet muffin, since chocolate chips are sweet all by themselves, so I thought a banana version would be a great choice. And I love chocolate and bananas together, such a perfect combination. (I couldn't help myself when I saw Kelly of Spunky Coconut's Banana Chocolate Pie recipe last week; it looked so good I had to make it on Friday night... yummy!)

So here you go Dad. A chocolate chip muffin recipe that isn't out of a box, has tons of protein and fiber, and is just delicious. And I saved some extras for you!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (gluten free, dairy free, sugar free)

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk beverage (So Delicious), or almond milk
10 drops liquid stevia
2 tablespoons agave
2 ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (xylitol), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.

In a medium bowl, add dry ingredients and stir.

In a separate bowl, add wet ingredients and stir.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir together to combine. Add chocolate chips and stir gently to incorporate.

Pour into prepared muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Sprinkle the tops with Xylosweet, if using.

Bake 30 minutes, until tops spring back to the touch.

Makes 12-13 muffins.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strawberry Scones

We're somewhat regressing in our spring weather here in the north. I woke up today and it was colder than it has been the past few days. And I was just cold. So I needed the oven on, bad. I had a bowl full of beautiful organic strawberries sliced in my fridge and thought they would be delicious baked into scones. So off to scone-ville I went.

I used to eat scones all the time back when I was in college. Daily, in fact. An addiction? Quite possibly. It was my quick breakfast of choice as I was running to my early morning classes. They paired so perfectly with a cup of dark roasted coffee (also an addiction of mine in college). But since going gluten free, those days of grabbing a scone at my local bakery or coffee shop are long gone. Now when I have the craving, I have to indulge myself in my own kitchen. Not a problem, since being in my kitchen in now a new addiction of mine.

If you are not opposed to dairy, I think they would be great topped with either freshly whipped cream or grass-fed butter.

Strawberry Scones (gluten free, sugar free, dairy free)

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup sorghum or almond flour (or a combination of the two)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tapioca flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia (optional)
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (almond milk, hemp milk, or coconut milk beverage- such as So Delicious)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup strawberries, sliced thin
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (xylitol), optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir. Add coconut oil (not melted, it's best if it's somewhat solidified) and cut in with a fork or your hands until mixture coarsely crumbles.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine milk through vanilla and stir. Add to dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms. Add strawberries and stir gently (or use your hands) to mix until combined.

Place dough onto prepared baking sheet and, using your hands, press dough into an 8 inch circle. Using a knife, score circle into 8 even wedges. Sprinkle with Xylosweet, if using.

Bake 18-22 minutes, until a soft crust forms on the top of scones. Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing through scored wedges and serve.

Makes 8 scones.

As I was creating these, I thought they would be perfect for a Sunday morning Easter brunch. Therefore I am submitting these for the Spunky Coconut's Spunky Holiday Easter recipe roundup.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mexican Eggplant Lasagna

A few weeks back, I was just craving lasagna. Ooey, gooey, cheesy, hearty, classic comfort food. However, I have yet to find gluten free lasagna noodles. I know they're out there; I've seen them online. But unfortunately, I cannot access them locally at my co-op. Pondering an alternative, I wondered how eggplant would do standing in for the noodles... I decided to give it a try. So glad I did! They worked beautifully.

This lasagna dish isn't about classic Italian flavors though. I thought it would be fun to see how a one-pot, cheesy lasagna-ish dish would do in an earthly, smokey, cumin-scented bake. Superb, as a matter of fact!  Completely vegetarian, thanks to the black beans filling in for the traditional ground beef, makes this dish not only oh-so satisfying on the belly, but also on the wallet (a 1/2 cup of dried beans goes for mere chump change, while grass-fed beef can cost you $5-$6/lb.).

And because this dish is smoothed in cheese, it's a verifiable kid-friendly dish in our house. (Anything with cheese- I mean, everything with cheese- is the way my kids would have it if I let them!)

Mexican Eggplant Lasagna

2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 cup cooked black beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 scallions or 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or both)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay eggplant slices in a single layer on baking sheet (you may need two baking sheets). Drizzle olive oil over eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until soft (you don't want them crispy). Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan with remaining olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) over medium-low heat. When hot, add garlic and onion and saute until translucent (about 5-6 minutes). Add salsa, tomatoes, black beans, cumin, and oregano and stir. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cottage and shredded cheeses and stir to combine. Set aside.

To assemble, start by laying about 4 eggplant slices on the bottom of an 8x8 inch baking dish. Add 1/3 of the tomato/black bean mixture, then add 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat this layering process two more times, until all ingredients are used. Top with scallions or cilantro.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, take off foil, and let rest approximately 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-9.

(those little hands just can't resist anything with cheese!)

This recipe is a part of the Gluten Free Homemaker's carnival event: Gluten Free Wednesdays...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Creamy Pasta with Leeks and Mushrooms

This is such a yummy meal... so creamy and satisfying it just makes you feel comforted as you eat it. I left out meat altogether, opting for a vegetarian version and am really glad I did, as it allows the leeks and mushrooms to take center stage. I think leeks are so perfect here, as they themselves take on an almost creamy taste when sauteed. And the frozen peas not only give this dish some vibrant color, but I also love the way they "pop" in your mouth with every bite. (My kids happen to love peas, so any dish I can throw peas into, I know my kids will eat it!)

If you're not a goat cheese lover, I encourage you to try this recipe anyway. Although I do happen to love the stuff, my husband is not such a big fan. But to tell you the truth, he had no idea this recipe had goat cheese in it... and was ooohing and ahhhing with every bite. It seems like the pesto and veggies take the usual "bite" off the goat cheese, putting all the focus on the creaminess factor and less on the distinct "goat cheese" flavor. (And, of course, if you love goat cheese like me, then this recipe is a must try!)

Creamy Pasta with Leeks and Mushrooms

2 cups uncooked brown rice penne pasta (I use Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
2 leeks
10 button mushrooms
3 tablespoons pesto
5 oz. goat cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 tablespoons water (if needed)
salt, pepper

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain cooking water and set cooked pasta aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Mince garlic and add to pan, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Wash and chop leeks and mushrooms into slices and add to pan. Cook an additional 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Add pesto and goat cheese to vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate (until the mixture is completely creamy). Add in the cooked pasta, peas, and water (if needed) and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Apple Carrot Muffins

Muffin love! That's what these should be called. Every bite is full of delicious warm and cinnamonny love. I make a variety of muffins each week, as these are one of the most requested breakfast items in my house. These are so great, especially for kids, because there is a whole apple and a few carrots baked right in. They are also great because they're packable, so you can throw them in your purse, diaper bag, or backpack and you've got the perfect go-to snack when you're out and about.

Not that this needs mentioning, but reminders are always good... these are so healthy: packed with protein and fiber, very low sugar, and fruits and veggies included. No need to feel the slightest bit of guilt when eating these babies, or serving them to your loved ones (big and small). My husband is every bit as much a fan of these as are my children.

Apple Carrot Muffins
Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons agave
1 medium apple, shredded
2 small carrots, shredded

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (Xylitol), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper or silicone liners.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients (through agave) and whisk until fully combined.

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (through salt) and stir.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine. Fold in shredded apple and carrots.

Pour into prepared muffin tin, filling about 2/3 full. Sprinkle Xylosweet over the tops of each muffin, if using (this gives the tops a nice, golden brown crust).

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10-15 minutes in pan before serving.

Makes 8 muffins.