Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Monster Cookies (gluten free)

These are hands down my favorite Christmas cookies. Every year, my best friend's mom would make these and save some just for me, as she knew I liked them so much.

Well, the last few years since I've gone gluten free, I have really missed these cookies making their appearance during the Christmas season. This year I decided to change that and create a gluten free, refined sugar free version (except for the M&M's of course) that tasted just like the ones I remember from my childhood.

I am so happy to report success in this venture. My kids love them, my friends love them, my hubby loves them, and I love them! The only complaint my eldest son had was that they didn't look like monsters (after all, isn't that what a monster cookie is anyway?)!

I took my cue from Lori's recipe (aren't her photographs wonderful?), changing several things to fit my dietary profile, and here are the results for your Christmas (or anytime) enjoyment.

Monster Cookies (gluten free)

3/4 cup almond butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup xylitol
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch cinnamon and salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 M&M's*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three large cookie sheets** with parchment paper.

Mix almond butter through stevia in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Once creamed, add eggs and vanilla and mix again to combine. Add oats, soda, cinnamon, and salt and mix with a large spoon to combine. Lastly add the chocolate chips and M&M's and stir once more to combine.

Drop in large rounds onto cookie sheet and press lightly with the palm of your hand to flatten. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the bottoms are just golden. Cool on wire racks for about 10-15 minutes** to "set" the cookies a bit before enjoying.

Makes approximately 3 dozen.

*If you are super sensitive to sugar, swap the M&M's for dark chocolate chips or chopped walnuts.

**If you'd rather make these into bars, you can press the batter into two 8x8 inch square baking pans or one 9x13 inch pan and bake for about 35 minutes until the sides start to get golden.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Dessert Smoothie

I call this recipe a dessert smoothie because that's exactly what it tastes like to me... dessert. Though not overly sweet, it has that hit-just-the-right-spot quality that makes it seem more luscious than just your average snack.

I make it thinner like a smoothie rather than thicker like a pudding because I prefer it to be drinkable. However, it you would rather eat it with a spoon, simply omit the water in this recipe and serve it in mugs with dollops of freshly whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon on top. (Maybe, just maybe, this will become your new favorite Thanksgiving dessert! Say goodbye to sugar-laden, calorie-laden, grain-laden pies for this light, refreshing take on the good ole' pumpkin pie!)

Pumpkin Pie Dessert Smoothie

1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
1 cup pureed pumpkin or other winter squash
1 cup water
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger

Place all ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until creamy consistency.

Pour into glasses and drink as is for a refreshing smoothie. Or for a thicker dessert option, omit the water from the recipe and pour into small mugs, then top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs and Curried Veggies

Busy mom, busy young kids, busy days mean I need quick, easy, nutritious meal plans in my back pocket, oh, just about... everyday. I've been making versions of this recipe for weeks now. I sure hope my kids don't tire of it as I plan on making it at least once a week through the cold months when we all want a hearty, warm dinner for those busy nights.

This recipe calls for several kinds of veggies, because I like variety, but use what you have on hand: think butternut squash, parsnips, broccoli, kale, or cabbage... use grass fed ground beef in place of the chicken... use cumin or cinnamon in place of the curry... you get the idea. Experiment!

Whatever the combo you choose, I think you'll fall in love with the ease of preparation and the deliciousness of the meal, busy or not!

Slow Cooker Chicken Meatballs and Curried Veggies

1 lb. ground chicken
salt, pepper

1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 inch stip of fresh ginger, peeled
4 carrots
6 small potatoes
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice (figs, dates, prunes, or raisins)

2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon curry powder

Cilantro and/or parsley

Place chicken in a bowl and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Gently mix in the salt and pepper while forming the chicken into 1 inch size meatballs with your hands. Evenly distribute meatballs in the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker.

Coarsely chop all vegetables and dried fruit and, in the order listed, place atop of the meatballs, spreading around the slow cooker so they are evenly distributed.

Whisk curry powder into chicken stock in a small bowl and pour over the meatballs and veggies.

Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 3- 3 1/2 hours, until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.

Serve with cilantro/parsley as a garnish.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Honey Mini Muffins (grain and sugar free)

My kids have been begging me for mini muffins lately. So this past weekend, I went out and bought a mini muffin pan, knowing full well that it would get lots of use. Bright and early Monday morning, we set out to make our first batch in our new muffin pan.

Since I've been sticking to mostly GAPS friendly ingredients lately, I decided to make these with honey. I also know that honey is the sweetener of choice for my kiddos (they ask for it at least once a day), so I knew they'd go bonkers for "honey" muffins. (They've also been reading a lot of Berenstain Bears books lately; maybe that has something to do with the honey fettish?)

These turned out so good, I knew I had to blog about them. To prove just how good these muffins are, I'll tell you that I've already made them a couple of times this week (they go that fast!). And I know they'll be requested yet again by the time the weekend rolls around.

I don't mind my kids noshing on these yummy muffins one bit; not only are they delicious, but they are also nutritious. Try them for breakfast, as a simple snack, or as a side with some soup or chili.

Honey Mini Muffins

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
6 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 24 cup mini muffin tray with paper liners.

In a bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk all liquid ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until completely incorporated (batter will become thicker upon standing).

Pour batter into prepared mini muffin try, filling about 3/4 of the way to the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until tops are golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip (or Raisin) Cookies- Grain Free/GAPS Option

We've been in GAPS mode for a few weeks now, after having completed the GAPS intro diet for 7 days. I'm loving this diet! It's completely free of grains and sugar, with the exception of honey, and the food on the diet is just so nourishing. My skin is loving it too. I don't think my face has ever been so soft as it was after the intro diet.

We began it as a way to jumpstart the renewing of our bodies through nutrition, to clean out our guts, and to hopefully just feel better overall. I can say that both my husband and I do feel better, lighter. For a few years now, I've been in and out of a grain-free phase and I seem to keep coming back to it time and time again. Using my body as my guide, it tells me that I do better on a meat-and-veggies-diet more than anything else, so for now, that is what I am going with.

The GAPS community is growing too. Any google search will prove that. I think more and more people are realizing the connection of nutrition and health and it is exciting to read about the amazing results people are having when they truly commit to healing their bodies through nutrition!

While the bulk of the GAPS program is bone broth-based meals, including meat and veggies, there are GAPS "legal" ways of getting to enjoy the occasional treat, such as these cookies. They are so good, it's hard to believe they are so good for you. My husband actual words were "so phenomenal" (a high praise for a no-holds-barred critic of my cooking!). So whether you are following a GAPS, grain free, paleo, primal, etc. diet or lifestyle or just want a tasty, healthy, high protein treat, these cookies are for you!

Chocolate Chip (or Raisin) Cookies- Grain Free/GAPS Option

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or raisins for GAPS option

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one extra large or two small cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate, smaller bowl, melt coconut oil and add honey. Stir. Add vanilla and stevia and stir again. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Add in chocolate chips (or raisins for GAPS option) and stir until fully incorporated.

Using you hands, shape dough into small rounds about an inch in diameter, place on prepared cookie sheets and flatten slightly with your palm. Repeat with remaining dough. You should have approximately 14 cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before eating.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes (with Beets)

I have young ones, and don't all young ones love cupcakes? Well, mine do at least. They've been asking me to make cupcakes for a while now, and happily, I obliged them with this healthful version of the iconic kids dessert.

This recipe brings me back to the Deceptively Delicious days, when I was putting pureed veggies into nearly everything I cooked. I'm out of that phase now, mostly because I currently don't have any babies eating pureed foods. My focus now is on getting my children to eat veggies- whole- and this proud mama must say that they are really good veggie eaters. (Of course some days they still refuse, but I keep trying!)

But with these cupcakes, there's no need to coerce anyone to eat their veggies, as you can't even tell they're in here. The beet puree lends these cakes to their nice moist consistency (and added nutritional value). As noted, you can also use a squash or pumpkin puree in its place, or a combination of any of the three, without notice to the overall taste.

Cupcakes they may be, but indulge my friends, completely guilt-free, as these babies are so good for you!

Chocolate Cupcakes (with Beets)

Wet ingredients:
1 1/4 cups beet, squash, or pumpkin puree (or a combination of these)
1 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
4 eggs
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon stevia powder
pinch salt

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

Add all wet ingredients in the order listed in a Vitamix or other high powered blender. Blend until completely smooth.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add blended wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour mixture prepared muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Let set for 15-30 minutes before eating.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Taco Pie

This recipe is an ode to my Minnesota heritage and our famous hot dish.

A simple, delicious one-pot meal that will leave you filled and satisfied.

I have served this dish to several friends and family and always have requests to make it again, from kids and adults alike. Gotta have those go-to, no-fail, crowd-pleasing recipes on hand, and this will hopefully become one of those for you like it has for me.

Taco Pie 

1 tablespoon coconut oil or grass feed butter
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
1 pound grass fed ground beef
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
salt, pepper
1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup green olives, sliced

1/2 package Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix 
1 egg
1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup almond milk or raw cow's milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

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

Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Chop onion and add to pan. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Mince garlic and add to onions. Cook about a minute, stirring once or twice. Add beef and, using a wooden spoon, break the beef up as it cooks. While the beef is browning, add spices (cumin through salt and pepper), stirring occasionally. Once the beef is completely browned, add tomatoes and olives and stir to combine.

Pour contents of half a bag of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix into a bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk eggs with coconut oil and milk. Add to dry cornbread mix and stir to combine.

Pour beef mixture into prepared baking dish. Add cornbread mixture to the top, spreading out to evenly coat. Sprinkle cheese over the top of the cornbread mixture.

Cover hot dish with foil and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the cornbread mixture is set and cheese is melted. Remove foil, let stand about five minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Raw Corn and Avocado Chowder

I've been waiting for over a year to make a raw corn chowder. I only eat corn in the summer, and it has to be locally and organically grown. My CSA (community supported agriculture) has had corn in our boxes the last few weeks and it is good. My son loves to eat it lightly cooked right off the cob with butter and salt (it is his favorite food of all, he says), but I love to eat it raw. The idea of a raw corn soup came from my raw, vegan days when raw food was all I ate for 6 months.

This soup is so great to eat in the summer, when produce is at its peak of freshness and the warm weather calls for some cooling foods. It's creamy and satisfying. I can eat a bowl of this all by myself in one sitting (and often times do), but if I leave a bit leftover I think it tastes even better the next day.

Raw Corn and Avocado Chowder

2 ears organic corn, husked, washed, and kernels removed
1/2 avocado
1 cup water, almond milk, or raw grass-fed milk
1/2 lemon, peeled
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Salt, pepper

Place corn kernels and remaining ingredients into a Vitamix or other high powered blender in the order listed. Turn on lowest setting (Vitamix- 1), then gradually increase speed to low-medium (Vitamix 3-4) and run at this speed for about 30 or so seconds until all but the corn kernels are fairly blended (the corn kernels should still be somewhat in tact). Either pour and serve in this chunky consistency or continue blending until desired consistency is achieved.

Serves 1-2.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Marinara from Fresh Tomatoes

If you're wondering what to do with all those tomatoes that are rapidly coming into season, this recipe is for you. I am thrilled at how easy and delicious it is. Very little effort is required and the result is a tantalizing marinara that is unbelievable rich.

The uses for this marinara are plentiful. Serve it over brown rice pasta for a traditional take, or do as I do and serve it over grated zucchini for a take on "raw" pasta. It's also great for topping over chicken, spicy chicken sausage, or fresh white fish. It even makes a great dip for vegetables.

Slow Cooker Marinara from Fresh Tomatoes

18-20 roma tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 medium yellow onion
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt, pepper

Place roma tomatoes in a large slow cooker. Chop onion and mince garlic and add to tomatoes. Drizzle oil, vinegar, and agave over tomatoes. Add seasonings and stir.

Turn on lowest setting and cook for about 4 hours. About halfway through cooking time, mash mixture with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, then stir before putting the lid back on.

This marinara really cooks down, so if you're feeding a crowd, double the recipe. You can always freeze leftovers.

As a side note, I left my marinara really chunky, the way it gets from mashing with the potato masher. If you like a smoother marinara, by all means take an immersion blender to it or blend in a high powered blender for a bit until it reaches the desired consistency. My husband does not like chunky tomatoes, so if he would have been home for this dinner, I would have pureed it a bit before pouring over zucchini.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zucchini Banana Bread (grain and sugar free)

I am on zucchini overload right now, as it is just flowing in from my CSA like the land of milk and honey. I love the stuff; I've been sautéing it in grass-fed butter, roasting it, grilling it, and of course, using it in zucchini bread. I've made this bread several times now, each time changing up a thing or two to get to the "perfect" consistency. And this is it!

The key to this bread is in wringing out the excess water from the shredded zucchini before adding it to the batter. Otherwise the bread becomes too soggy (although still very good) and harder to cut without it falling apart.

I'm getting back on my high protein/fiber kick, and that is where this recipe really shines. Made exclusively from blanched almond flour, it is a sure fire way of getting the muscle-building protein and digestion-pleasing fiber in, while ditching the grains altogether. And the truly amazing thing about baking with blanched almond flour is that there is no need to add xanthan gum to bind things together. For some reason, it just works without it (something very rare in gluten free baking). Some people have sensitivities to xanthan gum; I personally don't, but if you do, it's just another reason that you will love this recipe.

Zucchini Banana Bread (grain and sugar free)

Dry ingredients:

3 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup xylitol
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 heaping cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 4 mini loaf pans with coconut oil cooking spray (I use Pampered Chefs stoneware mini loaf pan).

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then add milk, vanilla, and banana and stir. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.

With a paper towel, wring out the excess water from the shredded zucchini, then add to the batter and lightly stir a few more times to fully incorporate the zucchini.

Pour the batter into prepared loaf pans, lightly spreading the tops of the loafs with the back of a spoon to even out.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loafs come out clean. Cool in pans for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

The bread can be left out on the counter for the better part of a day, but thereafter wrap the loaves in a paper towel, seal in a ziplock bag, and store in the fridge.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chocolate (Raw Milk) Milkshake

It's been hot, hot, hot here. So we've needed lots of foods that cool our bodies. My Vitamix has been getting a ton of use these days, as I've been whipping up milkshakes in the afternoon for our snacks. This is one of my favorites. It's creamy, smooth, filling, and super refreshing on a hot day. And, as with all of my snacks, contains a hefty dose of protein to keep those little bodies (and Mama's too) satisfied until dinnertime.

Chocolate (Raw Milk) Milkshake

2 cups ice
4 cups raw milk
1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons xylitol (or sweetener of choice)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 banana

Place all ingredients in the order listed in a Vitamix or other high powered blender. Turn on high for 10-15 seconds, until completely blended. Serve immediately or store in the fridge and add more ice as desired.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Favorite Creamy Dressing (for Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Chicken Salad, etc.)

I'm finally getting around to posting my favorite dressing. This is the dressing I use whenever I need a creamy dressing for salad: potato salad, coleslaw, chicken salad, caesar salad, etc. You can play it up very easily too by adding fresh, chopped or dried herbs for a fresh take, or add curry or garlic powder for a more savory dressing. Sometimes I want it a little sweeter, so I just up the agave or honey by another tablespoon (or add a few drops of liquid stevia). It is so versatile!

The secret here is the milk. It is a secret my grandma shared with me about her famous potato salad. She says you need the milk to thin it out and make it really smooth. I agree with her, and have been making it this way (with the milk) ever since. If you don't have regular cow's milk on hand (we are now so thankful to have a supply of fresh raw cow's milk every week!), you can use almond milk in its place.

I hope you like this dressing as much as I (and my family) do.

Favorite Creamy Dressing

1/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave or honey
salt, pepper

Whisk all ingredients in the order listed in a small bowl until creamy consistency is reached. Makes about 3/4 cup of dressing. Pour over your salad of choice (see above for ideas).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Black Bean Pineapple Salsa

I'm super excited to be back blogging again. I have been out of blogging commission lately. We've had some ups and downs with our most recent home remodeling projects, and a few vacations in the mix over the last few months, all of this contributing to a schedule that has been anything but predictable. I guess with all of that going on, I sort of lost the momentum to record my recipe happenings.

Oh, but I have been busy in the kitchen! I've had a lot of inspiration as of late, with the bounty of fresh produce at my fingertips due to this amazing summer weather. My new CSA is showing a very promising harvest this year. My anticipation takes flight on Thursday afternoons when I get to pick up the week's share. The last few weeks we've had a wonderful supply of green onions, and I've been using them in darn near everything, from salads to burgers to kabobs to salsas (see below).

I had been ruminating about this black bean pineapple salsa idea for over a week, thoughtfully organizing its contents in my mind. I finally decided to put it all together the other night, and the results were even better than I expected. I mean, this is good stuff. Perfect for those summertime BBQs.

Black Bean Pineapple Salsa

1 15 oz. can or 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed
1 cup pineapple
1/2 of a red pepper
1 whole green onion (both white and green parts)
1/2 cup cilantro

1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon raw honey or agave
salt, pepper (a couple of good cranks on the grinder)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place black beans in a medium bowl. Chop pineapple and red pepper into bite sized pieces and add to bean bowl. Chop white bulb of onion and thinly slice green tops of onion and also add to bean bowl. Mince cilantro and sprinkle on top.

In a separate, smaller bowl, combine mustard, lime juice, honey, and salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Slowly add EVOO in a steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified.

Pour dressing over black bean mixture and stir to combine.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cinnamon Bread Mini Loaves (gluten free, sugar free)

These mini loaves are so good and baking them makes your house smell amazing. I love anything with cinnamon in it (and in fact use it on a daily basis, multiple times). There is something so grounding, so warming about this spice. It makes for the ultimate comfort food (I even put it in my chili). And it provides the main attraction for these wonderful bread loaves.

My son wanted to bake something special for his Awana teachers, Miss Jill and Miss Bonnie, so I suggested these. He thought it sounded like a great idea. So we'll be wrapping up one of these for each of his teachers and we'll enjoy one for snack time. I've made this recipe several times, the original inspiration coming from the blogsphere somewhere, I really wish I could remember where so I could give proper credit to its source, but alas it was quite some time ago and my recipe revisions are all that remain. I did, in fact, change many things from the original version, but nonetheless it always good to site back. So please forgive me this one time. :)

I bake my mini loaves in the Pampered Chef stoneware with the four mini loaf dividers. I've had this stoneware for years, getting it as a gift from my father in law back when my husband and I were newlyweds (almost 10 years ago now!), and I only started using it in the last few months since we moved. I had always been intimidated about baking in stone (don't ask me why), but now that I've baked in stone several times, I love it. It makes the best baked goods. I highly recommend stoneware for baking. In fact, I aim to add more stoneware pieces to my collection in the years ahead.

Either way you bake this, be it in stoneware or glass, you will be super impressed with this delicious, gluten and sugar free cinnamon bread.

Cinnamon Bread Mini Loaves (gluten free, sugar free)

Dry ingredients:
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup xylitol
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg
1 1/4 cups almond milk or raw cow's milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three mini bread loaf pans with coconut oil (I use the stoneware from Pampered Chef).

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg with milk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir again to fully incorporate.

Pour batter into prepared bread loaf pans, spreading out the tops evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let set about 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken and Parmesan Spaghetti (gluten free)

This is the real deal. You would never know this delicious dinner recipe is gluten free, which is one reason I love working with brown rice pasta. I made this for my family tonight and after the first bite, my five year old asked if I could make it again. Of course, he loves noodles and was extra excited for the "cheese snow" (AKA grated parmesan) that I let him add to the top of his noodles.

Not only is it a super kid-friendly meal, it's also super easy, which is just what a mom of three young boys needs. I especially love the extra kick the red pepper gives this dish, however you should note that a little bit of crushed red pepper goes a long way, so if your kids are sensitive to spicy foods, keep the red pepper to a minimum (the adults can always add extra red pepper to the top of their individual dishes).

Chicken and Parmesan Spaghetti (gluten free)

1/2 pound gluten free spaghetti noodles (I used brown rice spaghetti noodles from Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or grass-fed butter
1 medium yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
1 pound ground chicken
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt, pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
1/4 cup grated parmesean

Cook noodles according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat oil or butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Chop onion and add to pan, cooking for about 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Mince garlic and add to onion. Cook about 1 minute. Add chicken and spices (through red pepper). Using a wooden spoon, cook the chicken until cooked through and no longer pink, breaking it up into small crumbles as you cook. Add tomatoes and stir.

When the noodles are done cooking, drain the water and add the noodles to the chicken sauce and stir to coat the noodles. Add the parmesan and stir again.

Serve topped with additional parmesan (or cheese snow, as my five year old calls it!), if desired.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blueberry Biscuits

Sometimes it's all about marketing, even to a five year old. This morning I was asking my kids what they wanted for breakfast and listed off several options: pancakes, eggs, smoothie, fruit... "No, no, no," they said.

"Hmmm," I replied, "How about scones?"

"No!" my five year old exclaimed back.

Well, ok, I really wanted scones. So what to do? One more option, "How about biscuits?" (that are really scones in disguise, just marketed differently.)

"YEAH!!!" they cheered.

Biscuit-like scones it is! I wasn't really in the mood for something savory, so I decided to make my biscuits just a tad sweet by making them into blueberry biscuits. At any rate, these biscuits were a hit, gobbled by the mouthful by my kids. Breakfast success! And they are so easy to make, you can whip them up in mere minutes.

If you are avoiding grains (as I often am), just replace the sorghum flour with almond flour.

Blueberry Biscuits

Dry ingredients:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 drops liquid stevia

1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries

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

In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, then add remaining wet ingredients (through stevia) and whisk again to combine.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until thoroughly combined. Add in frozen blueberries and carefully stir again as to not break the blueberries up too much that they cause the mixture to turn blue.

Spoon drop biscuits onto prepared baking dish and slightly flatten the tops with your palms.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.

Makes about a dozen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Raw Milk Hot Cocoa (sugar free)

I've been making this hot cocoa all winter long; it's such a delicious and satisfying, sugar free treat to warm those bones when the temps dip low. And today was hopefully the last day I will be making hot cocoa for many, many months. We've been having such amazing spring weather lately that I didn't think I'd be making hot cocoa again until next winter. But for some reason, my son has been asking me to make him hot cocoa for three days now. I wasn't able to make it for him until today, when our raw milk supply was replenished. I thought I'd better document this recipe now so I won't have to fidget with the ingredient ratios again next winter.

A few notes about this hot cocoa: 1) Since we're using raw milk here, be sure to heat it on the very lowest possible setting on your stovetop to preserve as many of those healthful properties in the milk as you can. It really doesn't take long to get this yummy treat warm enough to enjoy, maybe five minutes, so be patient (i.e. no microwaving!) and the payoff will be worth it. 2) I like to thin my hot cocoa out with some water to save a little money (since raw milk can be a bit pricey), but if you like yours really creamy and thick, omit the water and use 1 3/4 cup raw milk, or use some raw cream in place of the water.

Raw Milk Hot Cocoa (sugar free)

1 cup raw milk
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
12 drops liquid stevia

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan. Turn heat on low and whisk thoroughly to combine. Cook over low heat for about five minutes, until desired temperature is reached, whisking occasionally.

Ladle into mugs and enjoy.

Serves two.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Warm Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

I've been rather uninspired in the cooking department lately. I literally sat outside for 25 minutes today thinking of what to make for dinner, and nothing came to mind.


This is not like me. Maybe it's the season, or the weather, or the fact that I haven't had any inspiring fresh produce the last few days... I'm really not sure. But nonetheless, we had to eat dinner, so I had to think of something...

So I went into my pantry and started foraging for dinner ingredients. My eyes landed on the sweet potatoes, which I love. But I didn't want to just fix them in the same old boring way (even as delicious as this boring way is): roasted wedges. I wanted to turn them into a delicious salad, a warm salad, the perfect kind of salad for spring weather.

Finally, inspiration! This recipe just sort of came to life, and I decided it needed to be documented on this blog, especially considering I may find myself in a un-inspirational mood in the not-so-distant-future.

With it's delicious blend of spicy (thanks, ginger) and sweet (thanks, sweet potatoes and cinnamon), this salad will knock you off your feet. I'm especially fond of how the cooked sweet potatoes lightly "cook" the baby kales to take off their raw edge and make them all yummy and soft.

Hopefully it will please your palate as much as it did mine.

Warm Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

2 medium sweet potatoes
4 cups baby kales (or spinach, or torn swiss chard)
1 Granny Smith apple

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 minced clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
10 drops liquid stevia
salt, pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Chop sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in medium pot. Cover sweet potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and gently boil for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place baby kales in a large bowl. Chop Granny Smith apple and add to baby kales.

Mix all dressing ingredients (ginger through salt and pepper) in a small bowl. Slowly stream in the EVOO until emulsified.

When the sweet potatoes are done, drain and immediately place on top of the baby kales and apple. Let rest for a few minutes, until the warm sweet potatoes turn the baby kales bright green and semi-wilted.

Add the dressing and toss to coat.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Coconut Brownie Power Bites

The quest for yet more great snacks has led me to create a new power bite recipe (see my other power bite recipe here). You can't help but just love these. They're raw, refined sugar free, full of protein and fiber and omega-3's... and they will get you pumped up with energy too. These make a great pre- and post- workout treat.

Did I mention they're also super kid-friendly? My kids would eat and eat and eat these babies, all in one sitting, if I let them. Instead, I allow them the indulgence of one or two of these healthy treats for a bedtime snack, and feel no pangs of guilt whatsoever. It truly brings a smile to my face when I know my kids are eating healthy and loving it.

Coconut Brownie Power Bites

3 cups walnuts
3 cups Medjool dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch cinnamon and salt

Grind walnuts to a coarse grind in a food processor. Add dates and pulse for 30 seconds to a minute, until a dough-like consistency is achieved. Add shredded coconut, coconut oil, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt and pulse again until all ingredients are incorporated evenly.

With a small spoon, scoop out the dough and, with your hands, form into balls of desired size. Store in the refrigerator.

Did I mention my kids love these?!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chile Spiced Seeds

It's time to post another high protein snack recipe. I'm finding myself in a snack rut these days. Now that I'm home with my kids full-time, I am on snack duty three times a day (at least). I let my kids choose their snack of choice (with some wise counsel, of course), and they are really good about incorporating some kind of vegetable or fruit and protein with each snack. I often find myself making a different snack for me as they prefer fruit to veggies (shocker, I know) and I try to limit my fruit intake much more so than is necessary for a child. And these days I am in major need of protein; my body just craves it.

So what do you do when you get sick and tired of celery with almond butter or grain free granola? Toast some spiced seeds!

Chile Spiced Seeds

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch salt

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add seeds and spices; stir to coat. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, shaking the skillet frequently to move the seeds around and prevent burning. Pull skillet off the heat once the seeds start making a popping sound. Let cool and enjoy by the mouthful.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Indian Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew

I love a good stew. And I love Indian spices. The pairing of these two loves made dinner tonight: a hearty, healthy, spicy, rustic stew perfect for a cold winter's night. This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Ali Segersten's The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. This has become one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. I adore the creativity in each featured recipe. I find myself scanning this book every afternoon, looking that night's dinner recipe. And I've been so pleased with everything I have tried from her cookbook thus far. I usually end up tweaking a few things from her recipes to make them my own (as is the case with this recipe), but I have to give her due credit for the inspiration!

This stew was so good it surprised me. The dried fruit really sweetens this spicy pot of stew up like a dream. It's packed with antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties, thanks to the assortment of spices and veggies alike. It's a great meal to make if anyone in your house is fighting the cold so persistent in these winter months.

And it makes quite a large pot! Plan on enjoying this with your family and friends.

Indian Spiced Chickpea and Chicken Stew

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt and black pepper
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup assorted dried fruit (I used a combination of dried figs, prunes, and raisins equal to a 1/2 cup total)
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium to low heat. Chop onion and add to pan. Cook 3-5 minutes, until translucent. Mince garlic and chop carrots and sweet potatoes into bite size pieces. Add to pan along with spices (through black pepper). Cook another few minutes. Add remaining ingredients to the pot (except parsley) and stir.

Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blueberry Scones (gluten, dairy, and sugar free)

If you follow this blog at all, you'll have realized by now that I have this thing for scones... I love them. I adore them. I (often) dream about them... the crisp, crumbly, fall-apart-in-your-mouth feeling you get when you eat them. Scones define good coffee house atmosphere for me. Unfortunately, though, there aren't any coffee houses that I can go to to order a scone with my coffee, because coffee house scones are never gluten free (at least not the coffee houses I have been to). Hopefully this will change in the future as more and more restaurants and coffee shops are realizing the huge impact that gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivities is having on our population.

Thankfully, I love eating at home, and cooking and baking my own food. Therefore I can make gluten free scones anytime I want.

Last night the scone urge hit me again, so I started browsing the internet for a new recipe to try. I stumbled upon Jennifer Esposito's website, Jennifer's Way, where she has a host of great gluten free recipes and information in general on Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I tried out her scone recipe, making a few changes along the way. I am really happy with the results. I know I say this way too much, but these might quite possibly be my favorite scones to date. If you like rustic scones that are just a tad sweet, I think they'll become your favorite too.

Blueberry Scones (gluten, dairy, and sugar free)

Dry ingredients:

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 coconut flour
1/2 tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:

1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup GF brown rice syrup
1/2 cup ripe mashed banana
2 tablespoons coconut oil, liquified
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 drops liquid stevia
1/2 cup blueberries (can be fresh or frozen; I used frozen)

1 tablespoon xylitol, optional

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

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk all wet ingredients (except blueberries) in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. Add blueberries and gently stir again until a dough ball forms (you may have to use your hands).

Place dough ball onto prepared baking sheet and form into a large oval, about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with xylitol. With a wet knife, score scone dough into desired shape (I cut mine crosswise four ways to make 16 scones).

Bake 18 minutes. Remove and cut all the way through the scored dough to separate the scones, so that all sides of each scone are exposed. Put back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up all sides of the scones.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gluten Free Yeast Bread

When you're craving bread, you're craving bread. I don't have this craving often, but for some reason, I've been wanting a warm, yeasty bread to use for toast in the morning, smothered with some nut butter and fruit-sweetened jam. This bread is perfect for that (and would also be perfect for sandwiches), reminding us gluten free folks that we can have our bread and eat it too.

I use Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour here. I really like this stuff as the main ingredient is chickpea flour, lending this blend to it's high fiber and protein count. I have to admit, I was a little nervous that using this blend would give the bread a "bean-y" taste, but was pleasantly surprised that this taste disappears completely once the bread is baked.

I always think that baking gluten free bread is going to be a daunting task, but time and again find that it really is very simple. If you hesitate in making this bread due to the time involved, let me encourage you that it will go faster than you think, and once you smell that delicious bread baking in the oven, your woes over time spent will vanish. In fact, a great idea is to double the recipe and make two loaves at one time. You can use one loaf for your bread needs over the first few days and with the other loaf, simply cool, slice, and freeze it in a plastic bag (with all the air sucked out) for future use. This way you will have great gluten free bread anytime the craving calls.

Gluten Free Yeast Bread

1 1/4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (ACV)

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour blend (Bob's Red Mill is what I use)
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup arrowroot powder
2 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x4 inch baking pan with parchment paper or coat with coconut oil cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, and palm sugar and stir until mixture gets bubbly. Let rest for about five minutes. Then add eggs, EVOO, and ACV. Stir again.

In a separate bowl, GF flour blend, sorghum and arrowroot flours, xanthan gum, and salt. Stir. Add yeast mixture and stir until a dough forms. Place dough into prepared baking pan, cover with a kitchen towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour (until loaf doubles in size).

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest in the pan for at least 5 minutes before removing, slicing, and eating.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brown Rice and Lentil Curry Salad

It must be the fact that I'm lactating, because never in my life have I been craving brown rice and lentils like I am right now. I created this salad a few weeks ago and have made it at least three times already, enjoying it for days on end. It just hits the spot, every time.

(My baby must like me eating it too, because he is just such a good baby.)

I think our bodies have a way of telling us what to eat by our cravings. And this particular craving is so darn healthy that I have no problem indulging (well, it feels like indulging to me) in it at each whim. Thanks to the lentils, it is full of protein, another thing that both pregnant and lactating women need in abundance in this stage of life.

Brown Rice and Lentil Curry Salad

1 cup long grain brown rice, uncooked
1 cup brown or green lentils, uncooked
4 cups water or chicken stock
1 medium or 1/2 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups lightly packed spinach
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup curry vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel and cube butternut squash into bite size pieces. Place on prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, until fork tender.

In two separate medium sized saucepans, heat 2 cups of water or stock in each. Add brown rice to one pan and lentils to the other. Bring both to a bowl, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook the brown rice for approximately 40 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Cook the lentils for approximately 25-30 minutes (ok if not all the liquid is absorbed).

Drain lentils and place in a large bowl. Add cooked brown rice, roasted squash, spinach, and raisins to lentils. Pour vinaigrette over brown rice mixture and stir to combine.

Enjoy right away warm or refrigerate and enjoy cold.