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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stir Fried Quinoa

I've been dreaming about food lately. Kinda like Carolyn over at Dreaming About Food... (you must check out her blog... I perused it for over an hour the other day, drooling all over my desk as I scrolled through her delicious-looking recipes!). I've been dreaming about food because I've been a tad stressed lately. And food is what I do when I'm stressed. Not eat food per say, but cook food, create recipes, and be in my kitchen (ah ha! that's where those last 18 hours went!). And to say I'm stressed is not entirely accurate. I am stressed with the house thing, keeping it clean for showings and open houses. I am stressed with my 16 month old son who is walking now and all over the place and into everything. But that's about it. The rest of my life is bliss. So I think I'm dealing with my stress better than I could if I didn't have a kitchen and access to some really wonderful organic food.

So what food have I been dreaming about? Oh you name it baby! Fresh vegetables in all colors, flavors, and textures (eggplant, snow peas, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes, beets, kale!). Decadent desserts (brownies, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream!). Super green smoothies, granola, pasta, quinoa, lasagna, tuna, black beans, hummus, apples, raw cheddar cheese!

What to do with all this dreaming about food? Get thee into the kitchen. I've kicked out some awesome recipes this week, at least one blog-worthy one every day, so I am ready to roll them out. Since quinoa has really been at the top of my craving list, I decided I'd share this one first. (Note: this is so delicious, you may want to double the recipe so you have leftovers. I ate this all by myself in one day, although not for the same meal, but you get the idea...?!)

Stir Fried Quinoa

1/2 cup water or chicken stock
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
4-5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup snow peas
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach
1 cup rotisserie chicken, cubed (optional)
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce (such as Bragg's)
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

To begin, cook quinoa by placing water or stock in a small saucepan and adding quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes. Then add ginger through chicken and stir fry for 7-8 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove veggies from pan and place in a bowl.

Add whisked egg to saucepan and cook until soft yellow curds form. Add cooked quinoa to pan and stir fry with the egg for 2-3 minutes.

Add vegetables back to pan with egg and quinoa, along with vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and toss in scallion and cilantro.

Serves 2-3.

This recipe is a part of Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Celery Walnut Salad

This salad is such a hit in my house. My four year old just loves it. He's eating his veggies and mama can't complain. My husband says it reminds him of a D'amico & Sons salad (one of my all time favorite places to eat).

Speaking of D'amico & Sons, if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and you have kids, you should know that kids eat free on Sundays after 2 pm. The kids meal options are awesome! Not your typical hot-dog/hamburger/french fries/chicken fingers (meaning fat laden/greasy/unhealthy/non-food) kids meals. Instead, they have fresh pasta choices (albeit not gluten free), sandwiches, fruit, and fun salads.The food is all fresh and hand prepared by the restaurant chefs. It's been our special "date" night with our boys the last few weeks. And it really is so kid-friendly. Check it out for sure.

Back to celery salad: I think this recipe is perfect for spring. Loaded with celery, which is in turn, loaded with water, making it a great meal for hydrading your body and skin. Feel free to sub a different nut/dried fruit combo, such as toasted almond slivers and dried cranberries or pistacios and raisins, for a slightly different take. Experiment; you can't go wrong!

Celery Walnut Salad

5 stalks celery
3 scallions
1/3 cup frozen peas, dethawed
3 tablespoons organic plain yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 drops liquid stevia
salt, pepper
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup dried cherries

Chop celery and scallions into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Add the peas and stir.

For dressing, combine yogurt through stevia in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add dressing to celery salad.

Next add in walnuts and cherries and stir again.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

African Peanut Soup

Ahhh... my worst fear has come upon us... more snow. I woke up this morning in utter dismay, cringing at the sight of the newfound four, five, six, or more inches of snow that was covering the ground, with even more coming down. Just yesterday, my son shrieked in excitement that he could see almost all the grass. I agreed excitedly back at him. But alas, today is proof that we just can't seem to escape the fate of the snowy month of March.

I was hoping to be able to start posting some fresh spring recipes by now. But no. We're back in the land of warm, comfort food. Which brings me to this recipe.

African Peanut Soup. I'd seen recipes for this here and there along my recipe hunting escapades. The pairing of peanut butter and tomatoes in a thick and hearty, almost stew-like dish has always intrigued me. I'd never tried making a soup like this though, as I'm not the biggest of peanut butter fans (I prefer a creamy almond butter to peanut butter anyday). But I just so happened to pick up a jar of organic creamy peanut butter from my coop a few days ago and, in a moment of creativity, decided to try my hand at my own version of African Peanut Soup.

What a hit! Rich, creamy, satisfying, with hearty chunks of vegetables and chicken in every bite. This is definitely one recipe I'll be making again and again (just hopefully not until next winter- fingers crossed!).

African Peanut Soup

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 sweet potato
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 14 oz. (or 1 28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 - 1 cup chicken stock
1 pound cooked chicken breast
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chile powder
salt, pepper
2 tablespoons chopped jalepeno

Heat oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.

Chop onion and sweet potato, and mince garlic. When oil is hot, add to pan along with ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, place one can chopped tomatoes and peanut butter into a blender and blend until smooth. Add to pot along with remaining can of tomatoes and chicken stock (start by adding 1/2 cup of stock and add more gradually if you prefer a thinner soup).

Add chicken and seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, and stir soup to combine all ingredients.

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft.

Add jalapenos and stir once more.

Serves 4-6.

This recipe is a part of Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tuscan Chicken Sausage and Chickpeas

My husband and I are just about to put our house on the market. This has been a long journey, spanning many months, of praying and discussing this major life decision. Seven years, a whole lot of remodeling, decorating, nesting, and it may just be our time to move. I've been quite the emotional person lately (poor hubby, he'll never quite understand the emotions of a woman), but am trusting for God's guidance and direction. 

This morning we signed the paperwork with our realtor, making it pretty darn official. To prepare, we woke up early to finish some last minute details. I have to say, as much work as it has been so far, it was such a good feeling to de-clutter throughout this whole process. I feel clean. I can relax. Even if we weren't going to sell our house, I would love continuing to live without so much stuff. I hope that where ever we end up next (or even if we stay in our current house) we will live more simply, both needing and wanting less... things. 

I can honestly say that for the first time, we have spring-cleaned. And it feels sooooo good!

I haven't quite spring-cleaned my recipes just yet. Therefore I'm posting this recipe as probably the last of my hearty, warming dishes for this winter season. I got some major thumbs up for this one. All of my boys (hubby and the kiddos) loved it. I had it as leftovers the following night and it may have tasted even better. My recommendation is to use a really good quality chicken sausage (I get mine from the butcher counter at my co-op), as this is really the star of this dish.

Very soon I hope to be posting fresh, light, springtime recipes. (Let's just pray that we don't get anymore blizzards!)

Tuscan Chicken Sausage and Chickpeas

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery
1 pound sweet and/or spicy Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons pesto
salt, pepper

Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Chop onion and celery and mince garlic. Add to pan. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add chicken sausage and, using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage into bite sized pieces. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until chicken sausage is cooked through. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, chicken stock, and pesto. Stir to incorporate. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5- 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Favorite Winter Smoothie

I hate to say it, but it's technically still winter here in the frozen tundra. Thankfully, it's not quite that frozen anymore. The temps rose above 32 degrees today and the sun was shining, all of which helped to melt a great deal of snow. This lifted our collective spirits and put a spring (no pun intended) in our steps. People were outside in shorts and t-shirts: jogging, walking their dogs, talking to their neighbors. It was a glorious day.

As the season draws to a close, I think we all want to feel fresh again. Not just fresh weather, but fresh bodies, skin, hair. One of the best ways to achieve this is through smoothie-ing. I got out of the smoothie routine sometime mid-winter, when the blistery cold, snow, and wind howled outside my windows. The thought of any food that wasn't hot, or at least warm, didn't appeal to me at all (fresh or otherwise). But the craving for fresh, whole foods in the form of smoothies returned a few weeks ago and I've been faithful to my Vitamix for this exact purpose every morning since.

This is my favorite winter smoothie. It's hearty, thanks to the hemp protein powder, with easy-to-find ingredients when not much in the way of fruit is in season (at least here). I keep a 4 pound bag of frozen blueberries on hand in my freezer at all times, so I can have fresh smoothies year round.

Favorite Winter Smoothie

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
5 drops liquid stevia
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1/2 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4-1/2 cup water
1-2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

Place all ingredients into Vitamix or other high powered blender in the order listed. Blend on high for about 30 seconds, until everything is blended completely (adding more almond milk or water to achieve desired consistency).

Pour into a tall glass and enjoy the freshness this smoothie brings to your day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Orange Biscuits

When you're living without gluten in your life, there are certain things that you crave every once in a while from your pre-gluten free days. For most people, it's the bread-y things: scones, muffins, french rolls... I don't crave these things anymore because I have been able to come up with a gluten free alternative for almost all of it.

This recipe is a perfect example of taking something traditionally very glutenous and not only making it gluten free, but making it soar on the nutritional scale. That's why I love using almond and coconut flours so much; they are naturally gluten free and super high in protein and fiber.

I like these biscuits for breakfast every once in a while, but they would also be great served alongside a bowl of stoup or with bistro chicken salad. They are so delicious, you'll want to eat them at every meal (which I have done so far today!).

Orange Biscuits

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
5 drops liquid stevia
half a naval orange

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 tablespoon Xylosweet (Xylitol), optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk eggs in a bowl, and add almond milk, coconut oil, and stevia. Zest the orange and squeeze its juice into wet mixture. Stir to incorporate.

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

Add dry ingredients to wet and stir again until a wet dough forms. Divide the dough in half with a spatula, then divide each half into four equal portions (for a total of eight).

Spoon one portion at a time onto baking sheet, forming it into a biscuit round. Sprinkle the tops of biscuits with Xylosweet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown.

Enjoy alone or serve with honey butter.

Makes 8 biscuits.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sausage, Tomato, and Sweet Potato Stoup

We are all just holding on, hanging on, counting down the end of winter. Spring is coming... we tell ourselves. And I am just too much the eternal optimist not to believe it. But, well, it is not here quite yet. So what do we do while we wait? Celebrate the end of this long and cold and snowy (but beautiful and quiet and cozy) season with a steamy, hot bowl of stoup.


It's a Rachael Ray word. I stole it. It fits so perfectly for this recipe. Too thick to be called soup and not thick enough to be called stew, alas, it's stoup. (Isn't Rachael so clever? I just love the gal.)

This stoup is the ultimate in comfort food. When I created this recipe, I was craving, craving, craving something with tomatoes (tomato dishes always seem to make the most amazing comfort food- think spaghetti and meatballs, classic tomato soup, bruschetta... you get the idea). I had ton of leftovers in the fridge and the practical side of me told me I should eat them, but I just knew I would not really be satisfied. And this recipe satisfies. (I think my mouth is watering as I write, seriously.) I did however use up some leftovers in this recipe: mashed sweet potatoes from the other night. If you don't have any, just use regular ole sweet potatoes, cooked until soft, and mashed with a potato masher or fork. The chunkiness of the mashed sweet potatoes is what gives this stoup its amazing depth.

This recipe is a part of Seasonal Sundays @ Real Sustenance...

Sausage, Tomato, and Sweet Potato Stoup

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 pound sweet italian chicken sausage, casing removed
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 14 oz. cans chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon oregano
salt, pepper

Heat oil in a large soup pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken sausage, onion, garlic, and celery and cook for 5-8 minutes, until sausage is browned, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon as you go.

Add chicken stock, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes and stir to combine.

Next add chile and curry powders, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir again.

Bring stoup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add more salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle into bowls and serve piping hot.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vegetable Curry with Sweet Potato

I'm on a bit of a sweet potato kick these days, as I mentioned in my post yesterday. I've been developing hordes of recipes with them, and will be sharing a few of those recipes this week. This sweet potato curry combines both my love of sweet potatoes and my love of curry into one super delicious, easy, and hearty vegetable dish.

I think it's so important to eat lots of warming spices during the winter to help keep our immune systems in tip-top shape. Think: cumin, cinnamon, curry, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, paprika, cayenne, ginger... the list goes on (these are just my staples that I use daily in the winter in soups, smoothies, on meats and vegetables, in baked goods, etc.).

Speaking of smoothies, I have been on a smoothie kick lately! I have been one with my Vitamix, using it to whip up those glasses of liquid nutrients faster than you can make a cup of coffee. I've shared my all-time favorite smoothie recipe on my blog before- grapefruit and cilantro with cinnamon- and it's divine. But lately I haven't had my hands on any cilantro, so in its place I've been using dark, leafy greens of all varieties: beet greens, spinach, collards, kale. And it is just as delicious.

(A tip when making smoothies using dark, leafy greens: add a few tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, or a half of a lemon or lime squeezed in. For whatever reason, it just helps to take the "edge" off the green-ness, and makes the smoothie not just palatable, but amazingly delicious. I will be sharing my favorite winter green smoothie soon, so stay tuned.)

How about you? What food is getting you through the winter? Curries and sweet potatoes and smoothies like me? :)

Vegetable Curry

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 yellow onion
2 carrots
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 medium sweet potato
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Mince garlic cloves, and chop onion and ginger. When oil is melted, add to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, chop carrots, sweet potato, and yukon gold potatoes into bite sized pieces. Add to pan along with tomatoes, chicken stock, and spices.

Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add peas and cook an additional five minutes.

Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I just love sweet potatoes. No two ways about it. Lately I have been buying them pound after pound,  keeping them stocked on my counter, and making variations of them three or four times a week. I love them roasted, in soups, adding purees to cakes or muffins or pancakes, and mashed, of course. That's why when I saw Lauren of As Good As Gluten's post for mashed sweet potatoes, I knew I had to try them.

I adopted her for this month's Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger event hosted by Lexie of Lexie's Kitchen. As I was perusing As Good As Gluten's site for recipes to try for this event, I was instantly hooked on the sheer number of easy, kid-friendly recipes. Lots of crockpot dishes and one-pot wonders. This is my kind of simple, convenient comfort food, especially with two small children and especially as the winter here in Minnesota seems to keep dragging on. (Snow again tonight? Another six inches forecasted? And it's March 8? Come on?!)

Lauren's mashed sweet potato recipe is the first of her's I've tried yet (as I just love sweet potatoes, have I mentioned that already?), but surely will not be the last. I'm already dreaming about the chipotle mac n' cheese and steak and shake chili... take a look for yourself and give some a try!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chocolate Pudding (with Avocado)

Here I go again with Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious. This recipe was inspired by her Chocolate Pudding recipe, which is cooked over a stove and calls for 1 cup of powdered sugar (that's a lot of sugar, yikes!). I simplified the recipe by eliminating the need for cooking and instead opting for a one minute wiz in my Vitamix. And I cut out the sugar and replaced it with a significantly less amount of powdered Xylosweet (I use either my Vitamix dry blade or my coffee grinder to turn my Xylosweet granuals into powder) and a tad of stevia. (Not sure about sugar alcohols? Check out this post on Mark's Daily Apple. Not sure about stevia? Check out this post while you're there.)

This is my go-to recipe of choice when my avocados are on the brink of going bad (or are already there). You don't need the avocado to look perfect or pretty. The beauty of this recipe is that you don't even know there's an avocado in here. With the presence of cocoa powder, it naturally makes the pudding a deep brown-chocolately color. Bad avocados no more!

This pudding is so good. I mean, it is so good. I mean, it is so good I literally lick my Vitamix to make sure I get as much out of it as possible before washing. Hard to believe the main ingredient is an avocado, which is just brimming with nutrients. Oh heavens me, I eat this stuff for breakfast!

Chocolate Pudding (with Avocado)

1 large avocado
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup powdered Xylosweet
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup water or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder + 5 drops liquid stevia

Place ingredients in the order listed in Vitamix or other high powered blender. Process on high for a minute or mixture is completely smooth (adding more water or almond milk if necessary to facilitate blending).

Makes 4 servings (or 2 servings for a hungry mommy and her four year old).