Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ginger Orange Chicken

I had a conversation with my girlfriends recently about cooking asian food. Some seemed to think that it was way too difficult and complicated to make at home, opting for take-out every time. I think it is easy to cook asian at home, and have been for years, since I was given a Williams Sonoma cookbook all about stir fries. And this recipe proves that it is easy... and so tasty... and so healthy (think, no MSG, no foreign meats, no who-knows-what-could-have-been-thrown-into-that-dish ingredients!). This is not a recipe from that cookbook, but rather just an off-the-cuff creation in one of my moments of creativity this afternoon. It couldn't have been more delicious. The chunks of ginger and subtle flavor of orange combine so well together. I served it with brown fried rice (with carrots, onions, and peas) and a side of steamed broccoli, making it super easy, super healthy, super balanced meal.

So go ahead... try it the next time your craving for take out strikes and I guarantee you'll be satisfied!

Ginger Orange Chicken

1 medium naval orange
2 tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
pinch crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped ginger
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

For the sauce, squeeze all the juice out of orange into bowl. Add Bragg's through crushed red pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile mince garlic and cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Once oil is hot, add garlic and ginger to pan. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken to pan, sprinkle arrowroot powder over chicken, and let cook for 7-8 minutes, until underside is cooked. Turn chicken pieces over so the pink side cooks for another 7-8 minutes (chicken should be almost completely cooked at this point).

Add sauce to pan and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon or spatula to deglaze. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly, until sauce is thick.

Serve with brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli for a well rounded meal.

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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Banana Walnut Pancakes

I've become an avid pancake maker over the last few years, since my oldest son started eating solid foods. He adores pancakes, mostly because he gets to drown them in syrup or agave, and swirl and swirl the pancake around in it, "Like it's driving on a racetrack," he explains. We usually make pancakes at least once on the weekend, when hubby is home and we get to enjoy a lazy breakfast together as a family.

And being as today is Saturday, pancakes were the requested food this morning. But I wanted to try something new, something different from my standby pancake recipe, something that would get my pancakes...

1) a little lighter
2) a little more golden
3) a little fluffier, like the gluten pancakes of my youth
4) sweet and crunchy, to make the pancake multi-dimesional

I think my recipe hits it right on on all accounts. The star ingredients: arrowroot powder, bananas, and walnuts!

I'm so happy to be adding this pancake recipe to my repertoire. I think I'll try it again next week, swapping out the bananas and walnuts for blueberries and pecans... try this recipe as is, then get you creative with the add-ins.

Banana Walnut Pancakes

1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (Xylitol)
pinch salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk, coconut milk, or cream
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 banana
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat nonstick griddle over medium-low heat.

Combine flours, flaxseed, Xylosweet, and salt in bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk eggs and add milk, water, and vanilla and whisk again. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine, getting out most of the lumps (add more milk or water if necessary to thin the batter to a pourable consistency).

Slice banana into thin slices and add to batter, along with chopped walnuts. Stir again to incorporate.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto preheated griddle and cook for 3-4 minutes, until bubbles start to appear. Flip over with a spatula and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes 8-9, 4 inch pancakes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mini Blueberry Muffins

I've been striking it right on with the kid-approved food lately. The other night, I made a version of Kelly The Spunkey Coconut's Spinach and Artichoke Pies, and the three of us (me and my three year old and 13 month old sons) devoured half of them for our special dinner in front of the fire. Then this morning, I made these mini blueberry muffins, and as of the time of writing this at 2:15 in the afternoon, 19 of the 24 are gone... (yes they're mini, but 19 in one day for three people? That seems like a lot!).

But it is winter, and we are stuck inside, so I guess snacking on healthy, gluten free, high protein, high fiber, no sugar mini muffins is an ok thing to do.


I'm experimenting more and more with stevia. Dr. Mercola sites it as one of the safest sweetners available; it has no calories and no impact on blood sugar levels. Since avoiding sugar is a major health endeavor of mine and my family, stevia is definitely a good fit. However, you can't just use stevia in the same proportions as you would sugar, as it is 300 times sweeter than sugar. So you have to get a little creative. I upped the stevia amount in these muffins to 1/2 teaspoon to try and decrease the amount of brown rice syrup. I was a bit afraid that the muffins would give off that unpleasant metallic taste that sometimes occurs when using stevia, but not here. It worked beautifully (as evidenced by the number of disappearing muffins on my counter...)! If you don't have stevia or brown rice syrup, you could substitute both of those for 1/4 cup of agave nectar (as agave is sweeter than brown rice syrup).

Mini Blueberry Muffins

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
pinch salt

1 large egg
1/2 cup almond (or other) milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24 mini muffin tin with mini paper liners or grease muffin tin with coconut oil.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg, then add almond milk through vanilla and whisk again.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient bowl and stir a few times to incorporate.

Gently set blueberries on top of the muffin mixture and with a large spoon, carefully stir the mixture, starting from the bottom of the bowl, moving it over the blueberries until they are fairly distributed into the mixture (you want to be very slow and gradual in this step so as to keep the blueberries from turning the mixture purple).

Using a tablespoon, scoop out muffin mix and place into prepared muffin tin, coming up to the top of the paper liners.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until muffins are golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes before indulging.

Makes 24 mini muffins.

Part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

I am from and currently live in Minnesota, where I'm pretty sure this soup was invented. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a chicken and wild rice soup around here that isn't loaded with cream (and wheat). Not that I don't love a good creamy soup every now and then (especially when I know the cream is raw- straight from grass fed cows- or as minimally processed as my state will allow for it to be sold at my local coop, such as Cedar Summit Farms cream), but I especially enjoy a hearty, broth based soup. It seems so much lighter on my tummy, allowing me to go back for seconds (or thirds... seriously). And I also enjoy simple soups, which this soup definitely is.

I love it so much, I've already made it several times this winter. And it's only January 9th, which means I'll probably be making it several more times since winter isn't anywhere near being over (at least not here in the frozen tundra).

I do recommend serving it with some of your favorite bread or scones. What fun is soup if you have nothing to dip in it?

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
3 carrots
2 stalks celery
6 button mushrooms
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 lb of chicken breasts (leave whole)
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a large soup pan over medium-low heat. Chop onion and mince garlic. Add to heated pot and stir a few times. Chop carrots, celery, and mushrooms into bite size pieces and add to pot. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until vegetables are slightly tender.

Add stock, wild rice, and chicken breasts to pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 40-45 minutes, until rice and chicken are cooked. Take the lid off the pot and remove chicken breasts. Shred into pieces with two forks and place back into the pot. Salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper in this soup, so give your grinder lots of really good cranks).

Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy with some hearty, seedy gluten free bread.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Classic Cheesecake

Happy New Year everyone!

My husband is one of those really lucky people who happened to have been born on New Year's Eve (please note the sarcasm in my tone), so every year since we've been married, we get to celebrate his birthday on this joyous day (which means we get to do what he wants to do!). But I am also so lucky that my husband is so caring and wants to throw a party instead of just making it all about him (as we should all be able to do on our birthday, right? No argument there!)

So this year, we celebrated with a feast cooked entirely by my husband. It is the one day that I relinquish complete control of my kitchen (this is a very hard thing for my Type A, control-freak-natured person to do). And it was fabulous! And it was a feast!

The one request that he had of me was to make him his favorite dessert: cheesecake. Now, I've never been a big fan of the stuff; I'd opt for a chocolate dessert-thingie any day over a cheesecake. However, I have come to love it in recent years, probably because I make it from scratch and put only the healthiest of ingredients in it.

This recipe just so happens to hit the delicious cheesecake mark so high, we end up eating whatever is left over for breakfast over the next few days. And it's totally ok to eat for breakfast as there is no sugar (and thus no spike in insulin levels); it is replaced by a small amount of Xylosweet (the particular brand of Xylitol I use), which is a natural sugar replacement derived from the sap of birch trees and other plant sources and is very low on the glycemic index (making it great for anyone with diabetes or glucose issues, or just for people who want to nix the sugar addiction, which should be all of us).

The secret to it's light and refreshing yumminess is in the lemon zest and juice. Not much (so lemon flavor doesn't overpower the taste), but just enough (to give it that, "Hmm.... what is that bit of surprising tang I taste...?").

A real winner, for cheesecake lovers and even those who are not, so try it for your next party and you'll have raving reviews!

Classic Cheesecake

Gluten Free Crust

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon agave


3- 8 oz. packages of cream cheese (or 1 1/2 pounds)
3 eggs
3/4 cup Xylosweet (Xylitol)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest and juice from half a lemon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch pie plate with coconut oil.

To make the crust, combine sorghum, almond, and tapioca flours in a bowl. Add baking soda and stir. Next add the oil, water, and agave and stir until a dough ball forms (use a pinch more water if it is too dry, but be care not to add to much water).

Press the dough ball down with the palm of your hand in the pie plate, and continue pressing out the dough until it is evenly distributed on the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, soften the cream cheese (pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute if need be). Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer until combined. Add the eggs and continue mixing until almost smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and give it one final mix.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Place pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake pie for 45 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake start to brown slightly.

Remove from oven, let cool for one hour on the counter, then refrigerate for a few hours until ready to serve.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and blueberries or cherries.

This is part of Slighty Indulgent Tuesdays...