Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu 2011

I'm rather embarrassed that it has been 2 months since I last posted. Life has been incredibly busy and stressful, but mostly good. However, I have not had much time to keep up the blog.

So, Thanksgiving is just about here, and I'm sure most of you have your menus all planned. However, if you are in need of any last-minute inspiration, here is my plan for the big dinner.

Well, technically, we are having 2 Thanksgiving dinners. Wednesday night, we're having a smaller feast, with just the two of us. On Thursday, we're headed to Grandma's house to celebrate w/ the in-laws. They should have some safe foods for me, but I always like to be prepared, just in case. So I'm sure I'll have a Tupperware or two of leftovers hanging out in my purse.

As far as my meal plan goes, this is the rundown:

For the bird - I have my brine soaking my 12-pound free-range turkey right now, a delicious-smelling concoction from Pioneer Woman (also, check out her tips on controlling saltiness post-brine). I plan on following this recipe to actually cook the turkey tomorrow.

I LOVED this cranberry citrus sauce last year, so I am making it again. But I am struggling to resist the gorgeous photos of this tart recipe, so I think I'm going to halve the first recipe, and make a half-batch of The Food Lovers primal cranberry sauce too! Funny that I never touched this stuff as a kid, and now I can't get enough cranberry sauce!

Rolls - I had planned on making Carol's beautiful GF/DF dinner rolls...but laziness struck, and I hit up the health food store to see if I could find any rolls from my new favorite local bakery! Success! They are a bit pricey, and not at all paleo (but still GF of course), but after my first bite, I decided they're definitely worth the cost! Hopefully I will have the self-control to save the rest for dinner tomorrow.

Since we're on a pretty paleo diet these days, I thought I'd skip the stuffing this year, since I'm the only one who likes it anyway. Hopefully the rolls will be enough to give us our carb-fix (and I'm sure my husband will get his fill of mashed potatoes on Thursday).

Another favorite recipe from last year - Irvin's GF/VEGAN green bean casserole. I've been having dreams about this dish, and can't wait to taste it again! I'm trying an onion-free experiment to see how my body does without them, so I wanted a substitute for the absolutely divine shallot crisps in this recipe. I think I'm going to give this almond "bread crumb" topping a go.

I don't ever remember eating butter pecan sweet potatoes, but someone mentioned them in a blog post the other day, and I started fantasizing. So I did some searching, and came upon this recipe. Knowing Martha, she won't disappoint.

We're bringing a couple appetizers to the big dinner on Thursday. I've got a veggie platter in the works, as well as my favorite cheezy dip from Kristen's Raw. I'm also contemplating baking some bacon-wrapped dates. I wonder how many of those would still be on the plate when we get to Grandma's...

On to desserts.

I keep coming back to this paleo pumpkin pie recipe. I love that it looks like a creamy, fluffy pumpkin filling, but there's no coconut in it! I'm sold! For those who can tolerate coconut, I suggest this chocolate mousse pie which has me salivating. As far as my own chocolate fix goes, I'm also planning on making my chocolate pecan tart recipe again, but I'm wanting to paleoize it if I can. We'll see how that goes.

There are so many great resources out there for paleo/gluten-free/dairy-free and other allergy-friendly recipes, if you can find them! I hope some of the recipes I've listed have inspired you! I can't wait to hear how everyone's meal goes :)

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins - Paleo Style!

Funny story: My husband said to me on Tuesday night, "Did you know that it was National Celiac Awareness Day today?" I responded that I was aware, and asked him if he knew that. He said he did now, and I asked how he found out. He said he read it on Failbook, which is a website dedicated to sharing people's failures (it's rather hilarious, but can be crude). His statement cracked me up for some reason. We rely on social media to keep up to date on our friends' birthdays, the news, pretty much everything!

Anyway, things are going pretty well these days. Extremely busy, but it is what it is. Luke's writing up a storm, trying to get applications and essays in to 7 business programs, as well as working full-time and juggling a full load at school. Work is keeping me on my feet as well. I feel like when I'm at home, I do nothing but cook and wash dishes thanks to our paleo lifestyle, but other than that, the diet is going great! Been working out more too, which has been fun! Plus, the sun is back, for the next few days at least, and that makes me happy :)

I wanted to share a recipe that has literally saved me since my husband joined me in this paleo venture. I don't seem to have a hard time finding things to eat...but I really enjoy vegetables. Unlike my husband, whose repertoire of favorable veggies is rather sparse. So, in attempts to keep him fed, and from getting burned out on salads, chicken with (fill in the veggie blank), and bunless burgers, I have tried to find filling, satisfying snacks for him to enjoy. 

This recipe is gold.

We both love banana bread, and I really appreciate that this form of said food can be enjoyed without all the non-paleo ingredients, such as sugar, wheat, etc. It's an easy recipe to make, makes a lot, and the muffins are delicious when warmed with a bit of melted butter on top. 

Paleo Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from the recipe in "The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook" by Elana Amsterdam

3 c blanched almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large eggs
4-5 very ripe bananas
1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-18 muffin cups with liners.

Put the bananas into a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mash up the bananas. Add the oil and eggs, and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour, salt and soda. Mix well. Add the walnuts, and combine. 

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown. Check with a toothpick if desired. Let muffins cool in the pan for about half an hour, then serve.

*Note: The original recipe says that this recipe makes a dozen muffins. I don't know if I just have a small muffin pan, but I've gotten 15-18 muffins every time I've made it. 

These muffins freeze well, and travel well. They are great warm, but are just as good at room temperature. 


Thursday, September 08, 2011

My New Favorite Chicken

Sorry I haven't posted a lot lately. Cooking paleo-style for two is much harder than I'd anticipated. I feel like I'm running the dishwasher every night, and I've made 3 trips to various grocery stores (2x to COSTCO!!) in the last 2 weeks. Sheesh! But, if nothing else, my husband has been well-fed.

I've been trying to come up with delicious and easy recipes that we both enjoy. It's been a challenge, but I'm persistent. Chicken is something that we often tire of, as we eat it frequently, and I usually make it one of two or three boring ways. Well, no more! The funny thing is, I was going to post a different chicken recipe that I found, and liked...but it has been sent to the back burner tonight. I've also got a couple more treat recipes to share soon.

I was a bit skeptical of this recipe at Everyday Paleo at first. Yes, easy and amazing are both words in the title. But I was still apprehensive. Could it really be that easy? Plus, as I've mentioned before, I have this squeamishly irrational fear of bones, skins and tendons in meat. Yes, it's cheaper to buy those cuts. But it's also grosssssss!

However, in the name of all things paleo, I was determined to try this recipe. With my beautiful, new 5 lb organic, free-range bird. I knew I had to do something great with it!

So worth it! And it really is that simple. 3 ingredients. 1 hour. Incredible results! I really did not stop talking about this chicken at dinner. I am pretty sure I ate a whole pound of meat tonight. It was amazing! I'm already planning my next trip to costco, where I can grab two birds at once for a better price! Seriously, this recipe is a must-try!

Easy and Amazing Roast Chicken
(adapted from this recipe at Everyday Paleo)

1 4-5 lb chicken
salt (I am gonna guess and say I used almost a tbsp)
1 tbsp butter, if desired

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and dry the chicken w/ paper towels. Place, breast down, in a roasting pan (I just used a 9x13 glass baking dish). Sprinkle with salt all over the outside and inside. Smear the butter around the surface of the bird as well. Bake for 1 hour (mine was just right after exactly 1 hour). Chicken is done when the outside is golden and crispy. I didn't even cut into mine to check it. I just pulled it out of the oven, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then carved. It was perfect! Very tender and juicy on the inside.

Also, the drippings were to-die-for! The flavor reminded me of KFC dinners from my childhood. I think it was the butter :) I kept taking a spoon to the baking dish, and drizzling more juice over my chicken. I was literally tempted to get out a straw...lol.

I am planning on saving the bones, and any leftover drippings, and making stock as soon as we've eaten all the meat off the bird. I bet the flavor is going to be delicious!

The oven did get a bit splattered, just for the record. I don't really mind, it was already dirty. But if you care about the inside of your oven, this may be something you want to be aware of prior to making this recipe.

Hope you will try this soon! Let me know how much you love it too!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Wellness Challenge complete! Vote for me!!

As you all know, I have been following the Paleo diet for a month and a half now. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but definitely more ups! A new development in my life is that last Saturday my husband came to me, and said he wanted to try eating Paleo for a month. He's trying to get in shape, and hopefully bulk up a bit. Being so tall and lean, he's struggled w/ this in the past, and thinks changing his diet may help his chances. So, I'm cooking Paleo for two now! Well, more like three, since he eats almost twice as much as me...

At my husband's request, we are also trying a more strict Paleo diet for his first 30 days, meaning organic, grass-fed meats and eggs (and veggies, when available). Whew! That's gonna be pricey! Although I found some killer deals at costco, so I'm a little more excited about this aspect!

We've also been eating a lot of fresh veggies out of our garden, which I think rocks!

Conveniently, around the same time as I started my Paleo journey, Katie over at Wellness Mama decided to issue a 30 day Wellness Challenge, chock full of advice, mini-challenges, and spectacular giveaways. I decided to follow along, and started my own Wellness Journal to track my progress, and keep me motivated through the first month of this diet.

The challenge was so great! I learned a lot of great things, from my own documentation, as well as from the others participating. It was a lot of fun too, to be involved in a community of people all striving for the same goals.

Even better, I was chosen as one of the finalists for the grand prize! You can head over here to read my full story, and if you feel so inclined, you can VOTE for me here!

We're headed camping tomorrow, but when I get back, I plan on doing some serious catching up on the blog. I have so many fantastic recipes to post! The one I'll be dreaming about tonight (and hopefully photographing before consuming tomorrow) is Primal Breakfast Burritos!!

Now I'm off to make some banana bread muffins.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paleo Challenge - Day 30 - Report and Celebrate

Today is Day 30 of my Paleo diet challenge! How am I looking, feeling and performing?

Officially, I've lost 4 lbs as of last Tuesday (though I expect that number to have gone up since yesterday). I'm going to man up and make my husband take bikini pictures of me tonight, so I have something to compare to how I looked a month ago. I have had a few people comment that I'm looking healthier, or that something looks different about me, so I'm hoping to see good things in the pictures. I haven't really seen a marked difference in the mirror from day to day.

Verdict is still out on how I'm feeling. Some days are good, some are not so good. Not worse than usual, but I was expecting to have my GI issues clear up a bit more. However, I have been eating more red meat, bacon, butter and kale, all of which I have wondered about in the past. Now may be the time to start experimenting with which of those may be triggering my discomfort.

I have definitely been performing better. Yestereday was a testament to that! We did our annual trek up Mt Timpanogos. It was a blast! Finished in 12 hours exactly (w/ a lot of breaks in there). Pics and food log coming soon!

The best part of the day was that I felt like I owned that hike! We've done this hike several years in a row now, and every time, it's kicked my trash! This year, it was still hard, but at the end of the day, I wasn't dead. Which is insane, because last year, I had been working out and hiking quite frequently to prepare myself for this hike. And I did BETTER this year. The only thing I can think of to attribute it to is MY DIET! Paleo living helped me perform better than I ever have!

I also didn't eat as much as I was expecting to on the hike. I consumed about 1500 calories before and during the hike. I couldn't even finish my BLTA sandwich at the top of the mountain!

Then we got home, and after freshening up, headed to dinner. I didn't *feel* overly hungry, considering I'd just burned about 4000 calories! I did end up eating about another 1000 calories, but my deficiency was huge!

Overall this past month, I've been hitting about 1500 calories daily, and have been averaging around 20% carbs, 25% protein, and 55% fat. I'm feeling really good about it. The past 30 days have been quite an adventure, but so awesome!

So ready to jump into month number two!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paleo update and this week's favorite links

No recipe post tonight, just saying hi, and spreading the blogworld love. I will, however, share what I ate for dinner, because it rocked!

Scrumptious Slow Cooker Chicken...and indeed it was! I followed the recipe as posted by Sarah, only I subbed 2 large chicken breasts for the thighs. Oh, and olive oil for the coconut. It was amazing! And my husband liked it too! I picked the onions out of his, of course ;) Next time, I am adding TWICE as many carrots and parsnips though. I seriously felt like I was cheating and eating real potatoes. An awesome dinner to come home to after a long day at work. Ate it w/ some salad fixin's fresh from my garden. Yum!

If you want to know details on what I've been up to over the past week as far as my 30 day paleo challenge goes, head over to Wellness Mama's forum, where I've started a wellness journal. I'm posting my food log, thoughts, plans, workouts, etc. I'm having loads of fun exploring her site, and am excited about some great giveaways too!

You can't fix a body you hate: This is the post I wish I could send to my past self (anytime 2-6 years ago), and to all my beautiful friends who don't feel comfortable in their own skin. Thanks Sarah and Jason for sharing it! It makes me appreciate who I am today even more, flaws and all! Thanks also to my amazing, supportive husband who has always praised my body, even when I felt I was at my worst. Jason has some great points to make. I'm excited to read more from him on his blog, plus he's already super cool in my book, being a fellow Oregonian (can I still count myself as one, even though the last third of my life has been lived in Utah?). Anyway, read the post!

Need more motivation to go paleo/grain-free/eat bacon? Primal Toad's got you covered with his 11 tips to living an awesome life. It really is an awesome way to live your life. I agree wholeheartedly with this post, but my favorite tips would have to be #2 and #9 ;)

Speaking of the good life, the hubby and I are taking the day off tomorrow for some R&R. He's taking the GMAT on Saturday, and we're using tomorrow to charge the batteries. I'm so excited! Massages, movies, lunch, and hopefully some time in the sun. I'm even more excited to have the whole thing behind us, and finally see my husband again (I feel like it's been months!!). Maybe we'll even get to go on a hike together before the summer is over!

Me and Grok on top of the world.

It's taken me almost a year, but I'm finally living this paleo/primal life...
and I LOVE IT!

Week three has been a tough one, in ways other than the diet mostly, but I have had some discouraging days where I'm unprepared to eat. I've found that I'm eating more at the beginning of the day, and not as hungry in the evenings, which helps. I've made some incredible food, which I'm so excited to share (at a later date). Well, it's almost 9:00...which means bedtime (for two more nights)!


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Banana "Ice Cream" Variations

Remember this post? I don't know whether to thank or curse my friend for turning me onto 1-ingredient ice cream! It has been a serendipitous, healthy treat to have on hand as I've transitioned onto the paleo diet.

I have been playing with this dessert over the past couple of weeks, and have come up with some great variations.

This one has been my favorite so far.

Chocolate Cherry Banana "Ice Cream"
(Cherries Garcia, anyone?)

1 1/2 frozen banana pieces
1 tbsp cocoa powder
A handful of cherries, halved and pits removed
1-2 squares dark chocolate, grated/chopped

Put the banana pieces in blender or food processor. Blend until the banana becomes thick, like ice cream. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add cocoa powder, and continue blending.
Add cherries and chocolate, and pulse a few times to blend, and chop the cherries.
Scoop into a bowl. Either enjoy right away, or put in the freezer to firm up for a bit.

One of these days, I will take the time to use my food processor to make this recipe, which I think will make this look more ice-creamy.

Avocado Goodness "Recipe"

I mentioned this fantastic recipe in this post, and figured I'd share my favorite way to enjoy it. It's so easy, it really doesn't even need a recipe!

Sarah at Everyday Paleo created this little delight and I love her for it! It makes a great post workout snack or a fantastic side to most dishes where you want to add some delicious fat.

Avocado Goodness
Recipe adapted from Sarah at Everyday Paleo

1 avocado, halved, w/ pit removed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch each garlic powder and salt
A sprinkle black pepper

Arrange your avocado halves on a plate. Either whisk together the remaining ingredients and drizzle over the avocado, or just pour on top of the avocado, and enjoy.

Paleo Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado "Sandwich" - 2 ways

Ok, it's recipe time!

I have always been a fan of the BLTA/turkey club sandwich combo, so I had to try both of the paleo recipes I came across. I couldn't decide which variation of my paleo club sandwich I liked better, so I will share both with you!

First up, we have the Portobello Sandwich. This sandwich was inspired by Sarah @ Everyday Paleo's Chicken Sandwich (doesn't that look delicious?!).

Paleo Turkey BLTA Sandwich #1

2 portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
A few slices quality turkey lunch meat
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
A handful spinach or lettuce
Half a tomato, thinly sliced
2-3 pieces bacon, cooked
1 tbsp mayo (I know there are some paleo recipes out there, but I haven't delved that deeply into the lifestyle yet. Still using up the ol' Best Foods)

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, and add mushrooms, cap side up. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook 5 minutes more. The tops will turn a golden brownish color. Remove from pan.
My mushrooms decided to sweat, and so I put them on a plate w/ paper towels to soak up the excess liquid for a couple minutes.
Spread the mayo on underside of the mushrooms. Pile the remaining ingredients on top of one of the mushrooms, then top w/ the other.
Enjoy, and try not to freak out!

The next variation of my sandwich comes from Mark Sisson's cookbook, Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals. This was the first recipe I bookmarked when flipping through the book. Great foresight!

Paleo Chicken BLTA Sandwich #2

1 chicken breast (1/4-1/3 of the top cut off)
1 tbsp mayo
2 slices bacon, cooked
A handful of arugula or spinach
Half a tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Butterfly the chicken breast (cut lengthwise through it so it can be opened up like a book).
Heat a little butter in a pan, and cook the chicken, opened up, for 4-6 minutes, or until browned. Flip chicken over and cook, covered, for an additional 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness). Don't overcook the chicken, or it will be dry!
Remove from pan, and spread the mayo on the inside. Add the rest of the ingredients, and "close" the chicken breast. Dig in, and revel!

Notes: The original recipe called for a whole chicken breast, but I had a larger-sized piece of meat, so I decided to trim it a bit. I probably cut of about 1/4 of the breast, and may even take off more next time. Keep an eye on your cooking times if reducing the meat.
This one was pretty messy, and the hinge broke, so everything slid out a few times. No biggie. It was good and messy fun!
The cookbook suggests eating either warm or cold. I have only had this warm, but I bet it would make an amazing lunch and plan on trying it cold soon!
This sandwich was much more filling, thanks to the massive amounts of protein, I'm sure. I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the day (5-6 hours).


I ended up with less than half of an avocado leftover w/ both of these recipes, not really enough to save. So I made some Avocado Goodness to go along with each sandwich. I would highly suggest you do the same. You won't regret it!!


Also, if for some reason you need any encouragement to enjoy either of these sandwiches, head over to Primal Toad's blog for 5 Reasons Why Loving Bacon May Be The Healthiest Thing In The World ;) Then you can enjoy your bacon without feeling guilty!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Paleo Diet Update

Today is lucky #13 (days paleo)! The past two weeks have been rather interesting. I've had a few slip-ups here and there. I've had a couple of unprepared meals of whatever I could scrounge up last minute. I've had a slew of other things occupying my time and energy (family drama, health/medical drama, work stress, husband-about-to-take-a-very-important-test-next-week drama). But overall, I feel like I've done really well!

My withdrawals seem to have been pretty minimal, probably due to my already low-sugar, gluten-free diet (and my toying w/ grain-free eating over the last few months). I had a couple days of irritability/headaches, a couple of days where I could not get enough food in my body (!!), and a couple of days with constant sugar cravings.

A few people have asked me about what I'm eating, so I thought I'd share links to some of the recipes that I've relied on. When I have a little more time to breathe, I will post a recipe or two of my own as well!

Sweet potato chowder from Chrissy at Growing Up Paleo - The only changes I made were subbing almond milk for the coconut milk (I also added a couple drops of coconut extract, since I can't tolerate the real thing but wanted the flavor), 1 tbsp onion powder instead of an onion, and after the first couple bowls eaten, I opted to puree the soup completely (kept getting jalapeno chunks! Love the flavor of the pepper, but not a big ol' mouthful!). This soup was great for my lunches, very tasty and filling. Will definitely make again!

Avocado goodness. The name describes it all. Literally, when I tried my first bite of this recipe, the words that came out of my mouth were "Oh my goodness!" I'm HOOKED! Thankfully my local HFS had a sale on avocados 2 weeks ago (I bought 15), so I've been enjoying my avocados to the fullest (almost out already!). This is a great snack, side dish, or even just a way to use up a leftover avocado half. Praises to Sarah over at Everyday Paleo for this delight (and many other great dishes)!

Smoked Paprika Chicken - Check out Bill and Hayley's awesome blog, which has so many fantastic recipes that I am excited to try! Made this one for dinner the other night, and I loved the way this spiced up my ordinary chicken dinner! I used breast meat, and threw it in my foreman grill, rather than baking. Also, this cute couple has a cookbook coming out soon! I can't wait to get my hands on it!!

I totally dig this salmon, lemon, cucumber and avocado salad. I'm a huge fan of smoked salmon, and this dish hit the spot! Thanks Jessi!

Of course, my first favorite "primal" recipe, Grok-Amole has been added to the rotation, as have numerous recipes from Mark's cookbook Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals.

I've been enjoying simple foods as best I can. Kale salads, fresh veggies from my garden (TONS of zucchini!), and lots of easy snacks: carrots, celery dipped in almond butter, berries, banana "ice cream" (need to post my variations on this sweet treat stat!), and a square of dark chocolate here and there. I have tried to limit my fruit to 1-2 servings a day, to try and reprogram my insulin sensitivity, but I haven't been over-stressing it either.

More to come, I'm sure. This experience has been eye-opening, as I've become more aware of what I'm feeding my body, and appreciating it. I'm hoping to start seeing changes soon, and may even post my before/after pictures someday if I'm brave enough ;)

P.S. If you need some UPlifting thoughts, head back over to Sarah's website for this great motivating post. It's always nice to have a reminder to appreciate this awesome life to the fullest.

Speaking of living life, you made it to the bottom of this wordy post, so the least I can do is throw in a picture of me doing so ;)

I know, it's not exactly food-related (other than the paleo-fueled girl on the left)...

This is me, my husband, and my BFF at the top of Provo Peak on Saturday. The BFF told me last week that she is going to start trying to eat a more paleo lifestyle too! Yay! It's spreading :D

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So Paleo

I'm so excited! I am finally doing it. I'm eating Paleo/Primal! Go me!! I sat down last week, made a list of all the recipes I've found, snack ideas, etc. And I laid it all out on a calendar. I then went grocery shopping, and did some cooking. And here we are.

Had a bit of a rocky start on Saturday, but I'm still going strong. Not feeling sick yet, thank goodness. I attribute that to the fact that I've been making a lot of paleo recipes lately, so I've been eating less carbs/sugar already. I haven't been eating perfectly paleo, but I'm trying as best I can, and not stressing over the rest.

Today was the weirdest day so far. I was STARVING all day. I ate a 3-egg omelet w/ veggies for breakfast, and by the time I got to work (an hour later), I was busting out the almonds. I then went for some sweet potato chips. Then some pistachios. Then it was lunch time. I had a bowl of sweet potato chowder (loaded w/ veggies and chicken). Finished that off w/ some grape tomatoes. Then another helping of sweet potato chips (I know I OD-ed on the sweet potato today, my bad). Finally started to feel satiated. Yeah...this all went into a 5 foot 3, 110ish pound girl, who has not worked out for 2 days. CRAZY!

Once I have some time, I will post some of the recipes I've been enjoying. I'm keeping a food log, may even share that. This has been an exciting change for me, and I'm excited to see the results in my body and overall health.

BONUS: Went to lunch w/ my husband yesterday and was telling him how the plan was going so far. We also went into some of the parameters of the diet, and what I CAN eat. He then said he would be willing to eat paleo with me! WIN!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Ingredient Ice Cream

I am still testing the waters of going paleo. I've read lots and lots of websites and books! I'm building my own 30 day meal plan to do my one-month-trial. I am pretty sure everything I bought at the grocery store last week was paleo-friendly! Honestly, right now I'm eating 80% paleo. But I'm still hesitating to take the plunge.

Sugar is still one of my big hang ups. I'm trying to incorporate more fruit instead of treats. I'm chewing gum or drinking water whenever I have a craving. Mostly it's working. Still a work in progress though.

A friend posted this recipe on facebook tonight, and I thought, well, at least I know I have the ingredient. So, I ran downstairs to give it a try.

One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
Original "recipe" here

Easy enough: Slice up a couple bananas and throw them into the freezer for 1-2 hours. Lucky for me, I had some already waiting for me in the freezer (the benefit of having two people in the house who get tired of eating fresh bananas after like, day three of me buying them...).

Put the banana slices into a blender or food processor (I used my Vita-Mix, of course). Process for a minute or two, until things start to get creamy and thick. You will have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times.

When it starts to look ice cream-y, stop and taste it. I did, and while I like bananas, I don't LIKE bananas. So I threw in a tablespoon of dark chocolate almond butter. Blend a little more.


Delish! This is very thick, almost like a frozen pudding. I didn't put mine back into the freezer, just ate it, and it was great!

Next time, I think I will try some cocoa powder and almond butter, for a treat with even less sugar.

I am definitely adding this to my list of paleo-approved foods!

This recipe is linked to Linda @ The Gluten Free Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesdays, and Amy @ Simply Sugar and Gluten Free's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I love strawberries! I like to eat them plain, throw them in my smoothies, enjoy in a bowl of cereal, or add to some creamy and/or chocolate-y dessert.

I know I'm a little behind strawberry season with this post, but I had a carton of gorgeous red berries in my fridge, and wanted to do something spectacular with them. I dehydrated several pints of strawberries last month, and they were fantastic, but a lot of work for a treat that only lasted me a few days. I figured I ought to do something a little easier with this bunch of berries.

I jumped online, and drooled over a few recipes that I've been dying to try...

In the end, I decided on a strawberry shortcake. I followed recipes from Elana's cookbook, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook, substituting out the whipped cream called for in her recipe.

First, I made the drop biscuits, similar this recipe, which calls for butter instead of oil.

Then I made her vegan Creme Patissiere (pastry cream - here's a great non-vegan recipe and video) recipe, which uses cashews. YUM!

I then layered the creme and berries in a biscuit sandwich. And there you have it!

Strawberry Shortcake
Recipe adapted from The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook

1 batch pre-made drop biscuits (see recipe, below)
1 batch creme patissiere (see recipe, below)
1 pint fresh strawberries

Clean, hull and slice the strawberries.
Cut the tops off of the biscuits.
Arrange biscuits on individual serving plates.

Note: Elana's original shortcake recipe called for 4 cups whipped cream. I managed to get 2 cups of the creme patissiere, but didn't double the recipe.

Classic Drop Biscuits
Recipe adapted from The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook
(makes 8-10)

2 ½ c blanched almond flour
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
¼ c olive oil
1/4 c agave nectar
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix together oil, agave, eggs and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients on top, and mix together until thoroughly combined.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet w/ parchment paper or oiled foil.
Scoop the batter onto the baking sheet, about 1/4 c per biscuit, and situate them about 2 inches apart. I managed to get 10 from my batch.
Bake for 15 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown. Check w/ a toothpick, if desired. Cool briefly on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Creme Patissiere
Recipe adapted from The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook
(makes 1 1/2 - 2 c)

1 c raw cashews
1/2 c milk/substitute of choice (original recipe called for all water.I needed to use up some almond milk)
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp water
1/3 c agave nectar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp arrowroot powder

Combine cashews, milk, 1/2 c water, agave and vanilla in a blender. Puree on high for 1-2 minutes, until mixture is smooth.
Pour into a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
While it is heating, mix together the arrowroot and remaining 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Stir to create a paste. Keep nearby.
Once the cashew mixture boiling, whisk constantly for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, and mix in the arrowroot paste. Whisk constantly for another minute, until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a glass jar, and cool completely.
Will keep, refrigerated, for 2 days.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rainbow Cookies - Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free!

My dad is coming to town this week to visit. I'm so excited! Part of what I do to prepare for a visit from someone I love is bake. Yep. I make cookies, scones, cake, brownies...something delicious to wow them with! My dad, who has such a sweet tooth, is always pretty excited to sample what I've created.

I know I mentioned a little bit about my dad here, but I wanted to share a little more about the father I respect, honor and love. Our relationship hasn't always been perfect, but he has always loved me, and done what he thought was best for me.

Food has always been a big part of our family, and I remember spending time with my dad in the kitchen, out at the grill, and in the garden preparing food for us to eat. He taught me the importance of hard work, and the reward that comes from that labor (both with food, and in other areas of my life).

Mexican food has always been his favorite, and we ate it quite often growing up. I have fond memories of family vacations, eating out, and hanging out at home. We traveled a lot, but many of my fondest memories are of small things - canning homemade salsa, riding wave-runners out on the lake, yard work, beach camp-outs and kite flying, bike rides, birthday parties, sitting around the fire pit in the backyard, Bryce Canyon family reunions, watching movies and reading together.

My dad is a very smart, spiritual, patriotic man. He works with computers, and knows more about them than anyone I know! He loves sci-fi (I practically grew up on Star Trek), good movies, "classic" literature, See's chocolates, Red Vines, cinnamon candy, music from the 70's and 80's, and photography. He helped publish the local paper when he was younger, and did some of the paper's photography. Thanks to him (and our very own dark room!), I was able to develop my own passion for the art.

I know my dad is going to love these cookies! They are flavorful, yet light, and have a great combination of almondy-nuttiness, mixed with a light fruity taste from the jam. And they're chocolate coated, to boot! Who wouldn't love 'em?

Now, on to the cookies themselves:

When I first laid eyes on this post by Britt @ GF in the City, I knew I had to try it! I've now made these cookies twice. The recipe is a bit time consuming, but breaking it up into two parts helps it feel like it's not taking too long. She did a great job adapting from this Bon Apetit recipe.

Rainbow cookie

I keep forgetting to take a pic, so I borrowed this one from Britt! Yay for Mexican flag-resembling cookies for Dad!

Other than a few substitutions, I followed Britt's recipe pretty closely. Therefore, I am going to suggest you head over to her blog, and follow her well-written, detailed instructions on making these cookies.

My Substitutions/Notes

*I subbed 1/2 c sorghum flour for the millet flour.
*I then subbed 1/3 c millet flour for the brown rice flour.
*I used all tapioca starch instead of a tapioca/potato starch combo.
*I used 1 1/2 sticks of earth balance butter sub.
*I used room temperature eggs. My friend tried to make this recipe, and her eggs didn't stiffen. I think that was why.
*I forgot to buy marmalade both times I made this! So, I used strawberry jam w/ a splash of OJ the first time I made it and raspberry jam w/ a splash of OJ the second. So good!
*Also, I simmered the jam/juice combo a bit longer, to try and reduce the liquid. I ended up needing more than 1/3 c both times.
* I am pretty sure I used more than 2 oz chocolate both times (I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips). More like double that!
*Be really careful, and don't rush putting this cookie together. Especially the chocolate part. It seemed my chocolate didn't want to spread well, and I had to go slow, or it wrecked the coating.
*Also, I just used regular baking sheets to spread my dough on, since I didn't have three 8x8 pans and was impatient. They worked well. Try and spread the dough as evenly as you can.
*Cut the cookie up pretty quickly once you remove it from cooling the chocolate. I did 15 min in the fridge, instead of freezer, and the chocolate was a little too settled, and cracked in some places. Next time I'd try 10 min in the fridge.

This recipe is dedicated to my dad. I can't wait to share these cookies with him! I am also sharing this post over at Living Free, where Aubree Cherie is hosting a very special Dads' Celebration of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free!, the great monthly carnival coordinated by Naomi at Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried.

New Reads

So excited to be reading these books! When I'm not caught up in the latest Orson Scott Card book, that is ;)

I bought The Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals and have found some amazing recipes so far! I have created quite a grocery list from this cookbook.

I won a copy of Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells...but I can't remember who gave it to me! It's a lovely book, with some delicious-looking salads.

I also won a copy of by Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone. Thanks to Shirley @ Gluten Free Easily for the giveaway! I can't wait to try some of these mouth-watering gluten AND dairy free recipes!

What are you reading these days?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Dad

My dad and me (2009)

I wanted to take a minute to honor my dad on this Father's Day. I mentioned in this post that I was able to do some baking today, and even though I couldn't spend the day with my dad, I did make a couple of goodies in his honor. Well, not just in his honor...he's coming out to visit in a couple of weeks, so I'm stocking the freezer w/ gluten free goodies to share ;)

I have a great father! He's such a kind, caring man, and has always been a good example to me. We're both living very hectic lives, and don't get to see each other or talk often enough, but he is always in my heart. He's often encouraged me to follow my dreams, and pursue my passion for food. He's a great mentor. I'm so thankful to have him as my dad!

Stay tuned for a recipe dedicated to my dad, via Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! hosted by Aubree Cherie at Living Free.

Giving in to (gluten-free) bread

Gluten free perfection a la Karina

Ever have one of those days? Where you try to think about everything and anything except for the one thing you're craving most?

Today was one of those days. I know in my last post, I talked about heading down a more grain free path. I've actually been doing pretty good so far. Not strictly Primal/Paleo, but I've been trying to reduce the number of carbs and actual grains consumed. The problem I've run into is being sick.

In the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, I awoke with severe cramping. It wasn't just my stomach, or my usual food reaction or womanly cramping either. No, these cramps started just below my breasts, and traveled in waves down to my pelvis. This was the weirdest pain I have ever felt, with waves of pain traveling down my body every 5-10 seconds. I went downstairs and heated up my corn bag. I tried laying in different positions (lying on my right side seemed the least unbearable). I tried going to the bathroom, drinking water, stretching, everything I could think of. In the end, I just cried. And, yes, to answer my husband's favorite question, it helped! Ok...no, not really.

Finally, after an excruciating hour, I woke my husband up, and asked him to go downstairs and get the Pepto (didn't feel like I could make it down and up again). I took it, but was still really worried. My husband got online and did some googling. We figured, whatever was going on, most serious stomach problems seem to develop over a period of 12-24 hours. So, we went back to bed, and made plans to call the doctor in the morning. The Pepto finally kicked in, and I was able to sleep again.

I got up for work a couple hours later, and the pain seemed to be at bay. I was hesitant to go to the doctor if the pain hadn't returned, considering I had a busy day ahead of me. So I waited. I wondered if it had been food related, so I trashed everything I'd eaten the day before that was out of the ordinary for my diet.

The lack of sleep caught up to me mid-morning and threw me into a headache. Which wasn't helped by the fact that starting around lunchtime, everything edible sounded repulsive to me. So I had a hard time choking down food. Then in the afternoon, I started feeling some cramping/aching. Not as severe as the nighttime episode, but also unlike cramps that I normally experience.

And I've felt like that ever since. Any time I bend over, turn to the side, basically move my core in any way, I feel the pain. Also when I'm just sitting, I can feel the ache. And the nausea/selective appetite has been pretty bad. I still don't know what's going on, but I plan on calling the doctor tomorrow morning.

So anyway, back to that mouth-watering photo above. What does all of this have to do with me and my plans for a grain free diet? Well, one of the only things that has been remotely appealing the past few days has been Corn Chex cereal with homemade almond milk. I've been eating that for breakfast (and even a dinner or two).

I have had a hard time eating breakfast over the last few years, dealing with some nausea, which my doctor believes to be related to my hypoglycemia. I love breakfast foods, and I generally eat within an hour of getting up, but some days it's a struggle. That's what this week has been, only it's been pretty much the same story with every meal of the day. So finding appealing foods has been difficult, especially when trying to eliminate one of the staples in my life - gluten free grains.

Ever since Karina, everyone's favorite Gluten Free Goddess, posted this recipe on Tuesday, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Up until today though, I've been so busy, and haven't even had time to think about baking. But I woke up this morning, and it was pouring rain. What did this mean? Baking!!

Yes, having a day cool enough to bake in June in Utah is not common. If I plan on baking something during the summer, normally I will do it at the very end of the day, when I can open the windows to cool the rest of the house.

Luckily, I had a few recipes that needed making this week!

So, I gave in and made the bread. It turned out to be pretty good. It is denser than a lot of breads, but it's hearty. I loved the tang of the olives in it (would probably double them next time), and it made for a great dipping bread. I had it for dinner with some tomato soup.

I substituted a couple of things - sorghum flour instead of brown rice, buckwheat instead of rice bran (I couldn't find anything online for a good sub for rice bran, so I just guessed).

I will keep you all up to date on my stomach issues. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them my way!

And if you feel like baking on a cool summer's eve, make this bread!

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Grain, No Pain - the 5 year anniversary - and changes

I started this blog 5 years ago, right after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The world as I knew it had been transformed. I was starting out on a new adventure - to conquer gluten free eating!

It seems only natural that within a 5 year period, the average person would have developed and changed in many ways. I know that I have.

Physically - here's what I looked like in 2006:

And here's how I look today (well, okay...last week):

Most of the changes to my body I attribute to how I eat, as well as correcting a hormonal imbalance. More details on my body's (40-50 lb!) roller coaster ride here.

Where I am in my life has also changed. I've been working at the same place for longer than I was in high school. I love my job, but the past couple of years have been harder and filled with more challenges and responsibilities than anything I have undertaken, other than marriage ;)

It's been an incredible growing experience!

My marriage has definitely transformed, too! I'm pretty sure I can finally say I've grown up (mostly). It only took 8 years of being married to do so.

Five years ago, we were buying our first house. We were living paycheck to paycheck. Everything we did was looking forward to the future.

Today, we still live in that house (and pay less on our mortgage then when we were renting!). We've bought and paid off two new cars. We're working harder, but we're having more fun, and the rewards are better.

Other than this chronic pain in my lower back/tailbone, I'm feeling pretty well health-wise. So long as I avoid certain foods...obviously.

Since 2006, my reasons for keeping up this blog have also changed. I started the blog to help myself and others have a resource for good gluten free recipes. The name of my blog has been a source of much chuckling these days in my house. What was initially a play on words to describe my attitude towards gluten - No Grain, No Pain - has turned into something more in depth. I don't know if the universe has had a hand involved in the road my life has taken me since starting the blog, or if the path I am on is one that many people dealing with food intolerances visit.

I have gotten many emails over the years asking if I am grain free, due to the name of my blog, and I've had to apologize and explain that this was pretty much just a gluten free site (and then dairy free, and then coconut free, and so on and so on). But over the last year, a seed has been planted in my mind, and it has continued to grow. What is that persisting thought, you ask?

Going grain free.

No grain, no pain.

I've been searching for answers to my continual digestive issues for awhile now. I've always known my body has a hard time with sugars and sweets, so I already tend to avoid them.

In the midst of my studying, I stumbled across an amazing lifestyle. I'm talking about the primal/paleo way of living. No grain, no sugar, and fresh-from-the-earth kinda foods.

Photo courtesy of Mark's Daily Apple.

Check out this great link w/ tons of fantastic resources! And watch the video at the end - Paleo in a Nutshell. It's the perfect summary to what paleo eating is.

Paleo makes sense to me. And so I've dabbled. And read. And read even more! Yet...I haven't been able to take the plunge. Why?

*I'm scared of change/the cost involved/the work involved/cleaning out my pantry/having to give up a lot of my comfort foods.

*I'm lazy.

*I work full-time.

*I have a family and a home to take care of (well, a very overworked husband and spoiled cat).

*But mostly I think I'm lazy.

Here's the deal. It's going to happen. I am determined to at least try this thing for 30 days, and see how I feel. I even stocked up on 10 lbs of grass-fed hamburger that was on sale at the health food store last week!

Those of you who know me know that I am not a jump-in-with-both-feet-first kind of girl. I first test the waters, I work up my nerve, I prepare myself mentally before I make the plunge. That's what I am doing now.

But for those of you seeking grain free foods on my blog, yes, you will be seeing more recipes/advice here on eating and enjoying life, grain free.

Some of my favorite paleo/primal resources have been:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Easy Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

The other day, a friend and I went on a hike at Sundance Resort. I wanted to test out my very out-of-shape body, and see how I handled a climb.

It was a beautiful day, and we had a blast!

On our way out of the parking lot, guess what we spotted:

A moose! This guy cracked me up! I've always wanted to see a moose up close. Thankfully, I was safe behind the wheel of my jeep, but I did manage to get a few good shots.

I keep thinking about that moose, and how he was just chilling in the parking lot. I've been to the tops of mountains. I've hiked miles into the wilderness. And all this time, my moose was just waiting for me at the bottom of a mountain, in a parking lot :)

I think I love moose.

And I think I really love chocolate mousse!

I stumbled upon this great recipe after checking out a recent post by Elana from Elana's Pantry. She made a beautiful mousse, which I was so excited to try! Unfortunately, I can't have coconut foods, so I was out of luck on her 'licious looking recipe.

However, she did have a few links to other mousse recipes, one of which was Kelly's over at Celiac Chicks. She got her inspiration from Rhee at Pioneer Woman.

This mousse is amazing! I haven't had mousse since I was a kid and visited my great grandma at her nursing home. I think I ate three little cups of mousse in one sitting. It was love at first bite.

Well anyway, check out the recipe, and make it! And if you're more patient than I am, you can let your mousse refrigerate for the alloted time, and it will look more like Kelly's pictures, and less like mine. But if you're not as patient as some (that would be me), chill your dish in the freezer for 20 minutes, stir, and it will still be divine!

My adaptations:
I halved the recipe, and it worked fine in my Vita-Mix blender.
I subbed half of the eggs for carton egg whites (due to lack of eggs in the fridge).
I didn't quite have enough chocolate, so I added a scoop of cocoa and a splash of oil. The chocolate I did use was 1 bar of Green & Black's dark chocolate (so I suppose there was a little bit of dairy in there) and a few ounces of Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

I wanted to share this great find, because it is a new favorite. I will be playing with this recipe more. I want to make it sugar free, if possible. Stay tuned!

For those of you who have been following my health situation, I am still dealing with the pain. My 2nd round of physical therapy went really well, and we made some great improvements. However, everything plateaued about a month into the treatment, so now I'm doing home-care for now, and just dealing with the pain. It's less intense, but still definitely there. BUT!! (no pun intended) The hike went well, with no adverse side effects! This gives me hope!

Mt. Timpanogos, here I come :D

Recipe shared @ Linda's GF Wednesdays and Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Head to these great sites for other amazing recipes!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day is just around the corner, and amidst the scrambling to find gifts for my dad and my FIL, I keep thinking about Aubree Cherie's challenge this month for Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free.

I don't participate in the monthly events often enough these days, due to my (and my husband's) hectic schedule. But this one, I'm going to. Why? Because I'm a girl who loves good food. Because my boss is going to a conference this weekend, so I have a *little* extra time. Mostly, because I'm a daddy's girl. I've got a big ol' soft spot in my heart for my father. I get misty-eyed every time I shop for cards for him. I know that every card he gets from me will bring a tear to his eye as well. And hopefully a smile :)

I have a lot of food-related memories involving my dad.

We canned homemade salsa and applesauce in the summers from our garden crops. We planted and worked in that dang garden too!

He was the family grill master (and to this day, I still don't know how to use one of those things).

He loved Mexican food (except for onions), and we ate it frequently.

His favorite cake was German chocolate.

He once ate Ritz "sandwiches" made by my little sister, which consisted of two crackers, stuck together with peanut butter and a little lick of her tongue :P

He loved candy and usually had something stashed in his den - hot tamales, jelly belly's, old fashioned root beer, salt water taffy, and truffles.

I have so many great memories of my dad, and I am so thankful to have him in my life!

Instant Gratification Gardening

Isn't this the cutest little guy you ever saw?

Each night as I water and inspect my garden, I come in the house and report to my husband on my new findings. Dill growing! Lots of lettuce popping up. I see my first bean stalks peeking through the soil. And just last night, I discovered 10 mini bunches of grapes on my vine. That is 7 more than I've ever had produced in a year! I'm so excited!!

My husband is so great, listening and pretending to care about my little garden.

I'll admit, I get to feeling a little frustrated by the lack of growth of some of my crops. I planted them weeks and weeks ago! Where are they???

If you're at all like me, it can be helpful to have something to get you through the slow months as the plants are taking root and gaining strength.

Check out Karen's easy how-to on growing your own sprouts! It only takes 4 days (by day 2, I was jumping up and down as the sproutlings had grown right before my eyes!), and you have great, delicious sprouts ready to eat!

I know she mentions using a fancy little lid that she made, but I was lazy, so I just used a folded paper towel and a hair band to keep it in place. I poked holes in the the towel w/ a tooth pick, and replaced it each day. It worked, as far as I know...

We've been trying to find creative ways to consume the sprouts the last couple of days.

Note to self: 2 tbsp of sprouted sprouts is far more than we need in our house at one time :)

Anyone have any good suggestions for how to enjoy sprouts?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paleo Breakfast Pizza

I know I've mentioned my interest in following a paleo/primal lifestyle on this blog before. It's still an idea that frequently visits my mind. And occasionally I'll pick up and peruse my copy of The Primal Blueprint, which resides in the magazine pile in our bathroom. Mostly I've been too busy to try and change things up lately.

The other day, however, I stumbled across this great blog, and it renewed my interest in paleo/primal eating. The following evening, as I was driving home from a long day at work, doing a mental inventory of edible food in my fridge/pantry, I remembered I had all the ingredients to whip up this quick and easy breakfast pizza. I may have driven a little bit faster in my desire to give this recipe a try.

My version turned out really well! I overcooked my "crust" a bit, I think, but it was still delicious. I would also suggest adding bacon or ham, to give the pizza another dimension of flavor. I think this meal was a bit confusing to my taste buds, as I couldn't decide if it was more "breakfast-y" or more "pizza-ish." In my opinion, bacon would have married the two nicely, as it is a flavor that compliments both dishes.

This is definitely going to be a repeat recipe in my book.

Paleo Breakfast Pizza
Adapted from this recipe

8 eggs, whisked
1/2 tsp (ish) garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried basil
A few shakes salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c marinara/pizza sauce
1/2 lb Italian ground sausage (I used basil chicken sausage)
add BACON here. Lots and lots of bacon!
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 c sliced black olives
2+ tbsp nutritional yeast or nooch-eez
Other toppings of your choice

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet (my pan is cheap and sucks, so I coated it with pan spray, and added a little less oil).

Combine eggs and seasonings, mixing well. Pour mixture into skillet, cover, and turn heat down to medium. Cook for about 3 minutes. Eggs will be firm on the bottom. Do not stir!

After 3 minutes, remove the lid, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Turn on the broiler, and let broil for about 3 minutes, until the top firms up.

Remove from the oven, and spread the pizza sauce over the surface. Pile on the rest of the toppings, and sprinkle on the nooch.

Return pan to the oven, and broil for an additional 5 minutes.

Slice and serve immediately.

Note: Be sure and use an oven-safe skillet. I don't think mine was. The handle swelled a bit, and it started to smell a little funny in the kitchen.

Also, I don't know how many servings this makes, but I managed to eat half of it in one sitting. Oops ;)

I've shared this recipe over at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free, The Gluten Free Homemaker, and The WHOLE Gang. Check out some great carnivals, filled with amazing recipes!

Nooch-eez (Parmesan cheese sub)


Or as Gena calls it, Hemp-esan (but I couldn't remember what she termed it, when I was explaining it to a friend, so I came up with the name Nooch-eez). Whatever the name you call it, this high-protein, dairy free recipe totally rocks!

It's one of the easiest "recipes" I've ever made, and it's been one of the top 3 staples in my kitchen of late. I smother bread with it (pre-toasting) to enjoy with eggs for breakfast, I sprinkle it on my salads, soups and even pizza. I'm even considering shaking up my traditional kale chip recipe by adding some of this goodness before baking.

How do I make this, you ask? Well, I'll tell you...brace yourself. It's so simple!

Measure into your blender/food processor/coffee grinder (maybe?) equal amounts of nutritional yeast and shelled hemp seeds. I usually do 2-3 Tbsp at a time. I also like to add a splash of garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Then just blend away!

And there you have it.

To enjoy it on toast, simply spritz or drizzle your bread with some olive oil, then apply liberal pinches of the nooch-eez. Toast to desired crispiness in a toaster oven. It will sizzle and brown, but it is still very loose atop the bread, so handle with care.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fudge Babies/Brownie Bites

These are amazing! Hard to believe that something that tastes so good is so full of healthful ingredients! But they are.

So you shouldn't feel guilty.

Even after you consume half a batch.

In half an hour.

Especially when you were going to take these to work to share.

You can always make another batch.

Better make it a double...

I came across this recipe on Elana's site, and knew I had to try it. Dates + nuts + chocolate = win in my book! I tried her recipe, but subbed half the walnuts for cashews. I loved them! But I thought I'd made them wrong. They were so crumbly. So I ended up adding a tbsp of almond butter. Still delish! I ended up eating most of the batch with a spoon.

Then I made Katie's recipe, from where these delectable bites originate. Even with a higher date to nut ratio, they were still crumbly. I thought it was supposed to resemble fudge, something thick, pasty. I even added extra dates. Didn't make a difference.

Then I figured, this is probably how the recipe is supposed to be. These ones held together better when I played with the mixture. So, when you make them, yes, this is supposed to be crumbly, you didn't do anything wrong!

I am not a huge walnut fan. Don't love the flavor much. But I try and eat them, because they're pretty healthy. I've found a nice trick for eating them plain - if you soak them in water for half an hour or so, some of the bitter taste leaves them.

I was pleased to discover in this recipe that the walnuts did not overpower the taste. Honestly, I could hardly taste them!

I forced my husband to try a bite, even after making the mistake of telling him what was in it first (dates!). He said it tasted a lot like a brownie. I concur!

Fudge Babies/Brownie Bites
adapted from recipe @ Chocolate Covered Kate

1/2 c walnuts
1/2 c cashews
1 1/3 c dates - I used a mix of Medjool and regular ol' dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp cacao/cocoa powder (my favorite blend has been 2 tbsp cacao, and 2 tbsp dark cocoa)
dash of salt

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped.
The mixture will look like a good potting soil - crumbly and dirtish. Pinch a bit between your fingers, to make sure it's sticky enough to hold. If not, you can add more dates, or some nut butter.
Mine ended up having lighter bits in it (from the cashews I think), where Katie and Elana's bites look darker. No complaints here :)
Pour the mixture into a bowl. With your hands (or if you're weird like me, with ziploc-covered hands), form the mix into bite-sized balls.
Try not to consume all at once. Unless you're really hungry.

I'm looking forward to taking these along with me as yummy traveling/hiking snacks.

Check out Katie's Fudge Babies FAQ's and tips. I can't wait to try more variations!