Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Houston, We Have A Problem.

I have recently lost some weight. Almost 25 lbs.  Without being hungry and without hours of exercise.  I am not telling you this to boast or brag.  Nor, am I fishing for complements or encouragement.  I am telling you because it has posed a problem.  I started this blog on the premise of posting "healthy" recipes and sharing my love of cooking/lists/eating.  But here's the deal. I have changed.  My habits, my lists, my diet...(meaning the food I eat to live) have changed.  I decided to take the Paleo plunge a couple of months ago and I am a convert. It wasn't such a far stretch for me considering I already steered clear of most carbs by following an "Atkin's-type" lifestyle. But cutting out legumes, quinoa and all grains has really changed my body. And my mind.
Now this in and of itself is no big deal. I mean, people change. Who cares, right? But when you start a blog, put it all out there by declaring your undying love of quinoa and then one day decide, oh nevermind.  Well, it tends to be a bit problematic.
For one, the things I have been cooking lately require no recipe and pretty much no imagination. For instance, meat. Grill, eat.  Bacon.  Crispy, done.  Eggs. A dozen different ways to make them but none requiring much skill. A few fresh greens. An apple and walnuts on occasion. And well, that about completes the realm of my culinary endeavors lately.
So much for captivating my blog followers. 
And another thing, I did have a pantry full of beans, brown/wild rice, organic quinoa and steel-cut oats...which I am sure my blog compelled you to stock up on too.  I thought I was eating healthy food and yet my body kept insisting I wasn't. I have since donated or removed all those ingredients from my home and in turn, completely thrown myself for a loop.  I am having to rethink my staples and recreate recipes without grains.  A bit more difficult than I expected.  Hence the recent diet of bacon and eggs.  
So here is what I am considering as a solution.  I am going to try recipes new to me, Paleo recipes, and give you some pointers, suggestions and reviews.  I am getting a bit board with my weekly meal plan and need some new ideas. (My poor husband, God bless him. The man is a saint.) I hope to post at least one new recipe a week.  (Starting next week. Sorry, just need to get some lists going first.)  Let me know what you think of the "new format" and feel free to chime in, ask questions or block me.  Whichever you see fit.  If you are interested in learning about eating in a more primitive way, here are some books and sites you might check out to get you started.  See ya next week!

http://thepaleodiet.com/
http://chriskresser.com/
http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com/
http://www.primal-palate.com/

Thursday, March 29, 2012

If Yan Can Cook...


So Can You.  One of my all time favorite cooking shows. For those of you who aren't familiar with my friend Yan, let me fill you in. 
Growing up my parents opted for us to not own a television for the better part of my childhood.  And by that I mean, our set went out and they just didn't buy another one until I was in 7th grade.  (Yes, I know, it is a miracle that I can function in society.)  However, that year Nintendo was wildly popular and I was in Middle School so it was time to give in. I think my parents realized the whole not having television in our house thing was starting to backfire a bit because my brothers were increasingly becoming mesmerized by television any time they had a chance to watch a show. It was like time stopped. They totally disengaged from their surroundings and were in a trance. So for Christmas we each got a TV. Which meant, I got my own and they had to share. Life is so unfair. Anyway, they didn't care much because they also got a Nintendo and that seemed to justify the sharing.  I was at the age where Saturday morning cartoons had lost the ability to hold my interest, and in fact I am pretty sure I never woke early enough to catch them anyway.  Most Saturdays were lazy, catch-up type days around our house.  Enter public television.  Yes, at age 12 I was watching KERA religiously.  I loved the cooking shows. Julia Child with her, "Bon Appetite", Martin Yan and "If Yan Can Cook, So Can You" and Justin Wilson's, "How ya'll are?" all became engraved in my memories from this time in my life.  I still love a day of nothing but cooking shows or cookbook reading.  I don't even try to explain it, it just is what it is.
So one of the things I loved about Yan was he really made me think "I could too".  His crazy good knife skills were a little scary to me (perhaps that was because there had been one too many knife injuries in our household requiring an ER visit) but getting into the kitchen, opening a cookbook and thinking I could make anything in it seemed to boost my cooking interest and confidence; if for no other reason than me just thinking that I could.  I don't remember my mom teaching me how to cook per say but she always gave me permission to "play" in the kitchen.  As a matter of fact, I remember a day she came home and said, "You made that? I don't even make that."  She was pointing to a 3-layer cake covered in seafoam frosting.  That's the kind of frosting made by beating egg whites then cooking them by slowly pouring boiling syrup into the whites while you continue to beat them into a foamy, sticky cloud.  I can't imagine the panic she must have felt knowing what disaster/injury could have been found instead of the beautifully frosted cake before her.  But she hid her panic and just went on and on about the cake.  No one told me that seafoam frosting was difficult to make.  It just looked really pretty and impressive.  I guess I was right.
My point to all of this is, You Can Cook.  Pick up a cookbook and find something you never would even consider trying to make and then set out to overcome your cooking fears.  Turn on Food Network and soak in some tricks used by famous chefs to navigate the kitchen then try them out for yourself.
(I personally wouldn't start with knife skills but to each his own.) It might take a little practice and a little time to become comfortable in the kitchen but that's ok.  And sure you may scrape off some burned parts, add some salt after the fact or simply utter the words, "I won't try that again".  But I have faith in you.  You can cook.  And who knows, you may even start to like it.
So today I am sharing a recipe that my aunt shared with me.  It is for a soup that will make you feel a little
chef-like having served it.  There is just something rewarding about totally deconstructing a raw food and then making something wonderfully yummy from it that makes you want to pat yourself on the back.  And this soup is sure to earn you such reward.  It would be a perfect first course for upcoming Passover/Easter/Spring meals.  I hope you give it a try and take some time to enjoy making it.  And remember, "If Yan Can Cook, So Can You."


Moroccan Carrot Soup

2 tbs butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 pound raw carrots, diced/chopped 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion;saute 2 minutes.  Mix in carrots.  Add broth; bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes
Remove soup from heat.  Puree in batches in blender until smooth.  Return to same pan.  Whisk in honey, lemon juice and spices.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls.  Place a dollop of yogurt in the center of bowl and serve.

*Remember organic ingredients are best
** If you are short on time or hate chopping, buy frozen chopped onion and pre-sliced carrot chips to speed up the prep time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tex-Mex Chicken Quinoa

Ok, so today I am back with another quinoa recipe of sorts.  It is more of a dump this, dump that, mix, bake and serve type of recipe.  I have found this blogging recipes thing is kinda hard for a person who very rarely cooks with a recipe and never makes a dish the same way twice.  Hmm, maybe I should have thought this blog thru a little better before I started?  Too late for hindsight. Instead of beating myself up about presenting this to you in proper "recipe" format, I am just going to throw it out there.  Trust me, this dish is easy to make and tastes great.  How you get to that point doesn't really matter, does it?  We are going to pretend, at least for now, it doesn't. Enjoy!



Tex-Mex Chicken Quinoa

cooked chicken breast meat chunked or shredded- enough to feed your crew
cooked quinoa- more or less depending on your carb intake. I usually use 1 cup per 3 ck breasts
canned tomatoes- undrained, mexican recipe. I use one can for the ratio above but add if you need
shredded cheddar cheese- some to mix in and some to put on top
chipotle seasoning-I love Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle (season to taste)
1/3 block softened cream cheese or several The Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle wedges (see below)
chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all the ingredients together, pour into a glass Pyrex that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, top with extra cheddar and bake at 350* until cheese is melted.  Serve with tex-mex condiments.

Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle for a Cheese Lover's Diet

I love to use these wedges in place of cream cheese.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Breaking The Rules

So I am one of those rule followers.  I abide by the law, play by the rules, walk the straight and narrow.  I even create my own rules.  I tend to like the word "guideline".  I keep out of trouble and for the most part, I  "mind my own beeswax".  (I love that saying.) But today I am breaking the rules.  Throwing caution to the wind.  Playing with fire and I don't care who knows it.  I am posting 2 recipes.  One contains WHITE FLOUR and the other is chock-full of SUGAR.  I know, I know.  But what can I say?  Some rules are just meant to be broken.

First of all, let me tell you a little of my medical history and how I came to the place I am today.  I began eating a low carb diet about 9 years ago.  I had been fighting "unexplained" hypertension for a few years and was at an all time low as far as my health was concerned and at an all time high on the scale.  I was 26, miserable, fat, tired and sick.  After years of suffering I had decided to become my own advocate and find a doctor who might actually do something other than add to my 7-pill-a-day regimen.  I began the Atkins diet at the advice of an amazing nephrologist who specialized in hypertension.  In order to lose the pounds I had gained from all the meds I had been taking to control my blood pressure and to deal with the life I had created and become trapped in; he suggested that the first step was to get my weight under control by cutting carbs.  Honestly I was shocked that a doctor, let alone a kidney specialist, would recommend the Atkins diet when there was so much hype in the media about how hard it was on the kidneys and frankly "unhealthy".  Not to mention the fact that he was the first doctor who even cared enough to question me about my diet and exactly what I ate on a daily basis. Shocked, but trusting his advice I began cutting carbs and exercising more frequently.  Within the year, I had lost 60 pounds and I was down to 1 medication.  I still see that doctor regularly and credit him with saving me in so many ways.  I have continued to eat an "Atkins-type" diet and am happy to say, I am completely off medication.  My weight still fluctuates and I have to really be careful with carbs due to PCOS, a hormonal imbalance that tends to make my body store them regardless of my exercise level but it also explained so many of my other health issues that its diagnosis was welcomed. During that time in my life I also had developed some pretty severe gastrointestinal issues.  One of the discoveries I made when I stopped eating bread, pasta and cereal was that my digestive problems resolved.  Yet I made another discovery when I started adding whole grains, specifically whole wheat, back into my diet ALL those digestive issues returned.  Like, within days.  Some even within hours. That's when I began eating a gluten-free diet.  I learned I have an intolerance to wheat gluten.  I can eat a little flour on occasion, pop a few Gas-X and deal with the pain if I find that I really "need" a bite of pasta or some little pastry that is calling my name. But for the most part, sugar and flour are no friends of mine and they just aren't worth the havoc they wreak in my body.

HOWEVER, there are times I break the rules.  The 2 recipes I am sharing today in fact break the rules/guidelines I set for myself.  I am sharing them with you because they still have their good points and I know not everyone follows "my rules".  (My family is snickering to themselves right about now.)
I hope you enjoy the recipes and I also hope that sharing my struggles can be a help or give hope to someone else with a similar story.  Everyday I find a little more peace with my body.  I live in a house that is full of love and have a heart that is content.  I seek help when I need it.  Make better choices when I know better.  Remain mindful of my past without dwelling in it and give myself the freedom to start over everyday...regardless of the rules.

Flourless Chocolate Cake


Yes, as a matter of fact, I did make this.
 Here it is my friends.  Below is the link to the "gluten-free goddess" blogspot where I found Nirvana. Or pretty close.  But I have to say, this cake should come with a warning.  Technically it doesn't have one so I am providing one a gratis because I want you to keep following my blog and love the food I love.  So here it is- 
WARNING: Don't eat too much of this cake. 
Meaning, eat a slice and stop.  It is super rich and while it tastes so good that it leaves you wanting more, don't do it. Back away from the cake, put the fork down and save yourself.  Like I said, it doesn't come with a warning so I am passing this bit of knowledge on to you.  Feel fortunate. And ENJOY!
http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/01/flourless-chocolate-cake_11.html

Roast Beef 101

Or maybe the title should be "Roast Beef 102", as I am not really a roast beef aficionado?  I found when I first started making roast that it was much easier to make a bad roast than I thought.  I have since perfected my roast recipe and eliminated many of the typical roast ingredients. No bags, packets or cans.  No fancy pans or cooking methods.  Just a simple recipe yielding a simple meal. 
* This recipe contains a small amount of white flour.  It can be omitted but it makes a much better "gravy" with it.

List of ingredients:

Eye of Round Roast cut - pick a roast with a modest amount of fat down the side. This cut is tender if cooked properly but can become tough and dry, especially if all the fat is trimmed.

1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour

salt and pepper grinders

1/2 cup minced dried onion

water

veggies for roast- I used red potatoes and carrots

Heat a 6qt pot on high heat to sear meat while prepping roast.  Dry the roast with paper towels and place on cookie sheet.  Pierce roast with knife on all sides.  Cover roast with liberal amounts of salt and pepper.  Rub spices into meat.  Sprinkle flour on roast and rub until entire roast is covered.  Dust off any excess.  You may need more or less flour depending on size of roast.  Next sear the roast fat side down first, then rotating until all sides are brown.  Once roast is seared on all sides, place the roast fat side up in the center of the pan.  Pour water over roast until it is 1/2 covered.  Bring water to a boil then turn heat to low and cover.  Simmer until tender.  For an average size roast, about 3 hours.  Check roast periodically.  Make sure water level doesn't drop.  If so, add more water.  About an hour into cooking add the onion to the pan, flip the roast and recover.  Add your veggies the last 30 mins of cooking.  If there is not enough room in your pot for all the veg and meat, remove the roast, let it rest in the oven and cook veggies in the roast gravy.  When veggies are fork tender, slice the roast  and return it to the pan.  Spoon the gravy over the meat to moisten the roast and serve at once.  



*The key to this roast is the sear.  Make sure you render the fat first so that the roast doesn't stick to the pan when you sear the other sides. You can also sear the meat on the stovetop and then finish cooking it in the Crock-pot.  It is not the preferred method but it does work if you need to make it that way.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Checked Your Oil Lately?

I have been reading a lot about oils these past few weeks.  Jealous? Interesting subject, I know.  But hey, I am a self-proclaimed nerd and an article I read about Canola oil got me thinking.  So I set out to find some truth on the subject and do a little research.  I have to say that even with my eclectic taste in "light reading", spending hours researching oils and their benefits held my attention much longer than I expected.  Wanting to do a little experimenting of my own, I set out this week to purchase and try a few oils that peaked my interest.  And a little disclaimer before we get started, I am not endorsing any brands or medically prescribing any of the of the following oils.  I am merely passing on information, making suggestions and relating my experiences.  Ok, now that I can keep my nursing license, let me tell you what I purchased and discovered.

1. Grapeseed Oil- I purchased this oil in hopes to find an oil with healthy properties, similar to those of olive oil, but with a higher smoke point.  If you cook with olive oil very often you know what I mean and how easily it burns.  Grapeseed oil did not disappoint.  I made a stir-fry and didn't have to worry about balancing the heat between searing the food and burning the oil.  As far as taste, it didn't seem to taste per se but I did notice it had a very light viscosity, almost watery, so I didn't have to use much to coat the pan.  I am not going to go into all the details about its benefits but I will suggest you looking it up and picking up a bottle to replace your current vegetable oil.

*I would like to note that after years of using Smart Balance oil, I have since thrown it out.  A little research into Canola oil and it just lost its appeal. Canola oil is the first ingredient in the Smart Balance blend.

2.  Sesame Oil- This oil is extracted in several different ways which lends to various depths of flavor.  It can have a toasty, nutty flavor or little to no taste.  While researching oils I came across a practice in Ayurvedic medicine called oil pulling.  This act of prolonged swishing one's mouth with oil to rid the body of toxins was intriguing to me so I purchased some sesame oil and gave it a try. Sesame oil is commonly used in the Eastern world in everything from cooking to massage and is one of the oils recommended for oil pulling. (Sunflower oil being the other.)  It is rich in the anti-oxidant vitamin E as well a list of other vitamins and minerals.  I have to say, the oil pulling was a little weird/awkward the first few times but I am going to keep it up and see if it has any results.  I purchased an organic, expeller-pressed oil which can also be used in cooking so either way it wasn't a waste of money.  I will mention here that some people may have an allergy to sesame oil.  So if you know you have a nut or seed allergy you may want to steer clear of sesame oil.  If you are able to eat hummus, which contains tahini or sesame seed paste, then you are most likely not allergic.

3.  Argan Oil- Ok people, I saved the best for last.  I am just going to say I have found this stuff to be a miracle worker and I am completely infatuated.  This Moroccan oil has been used for thousands of years for cooking and medicine in the Eastern world.  Once again I am not going to bore you with all the details of how it works or all its claimed benefits, as I would hate to take such prize winning literature off your personal reading list, but I will strongly suggest you checking it out.  So far I have only used the oil on my hair and skin but I am completely won over.  It has healed my dry and torn cuticles within days of use, softened my heels better than any goopy cream I have ever used and improved my complexion beyond any prescription medication or expensive serum ever has.  To say I am beyond impressed is an understatement.  I purchased 100% pure organic oil from Sephora in a kit by Josie Maran which contained other wonderful Argan oil products.  It was worth every penny, in my opinion, but you can also find Argan oil at some health food stores, beauty supply stores and online.  Just remember you usually get what you pay for. 

I hope to be back on track with recipes next week but just really wanted to share this information. Hope you try out some of these oils and feel free to post your thoughts, questions and comments.  Look forward to hearing from you!

* This blog contains some information sourced from Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No Time For Chit-Chat

Not sure where time has gone these past 2 weeks or why it has eluded me as of late but I have a pile of ironing that continues to grow while the "laundry fairy" attempts to keep the dirty laundry from overtaking the closet floor.  She is putting up a good fight but her powers are waining.  Meanwhile, I have found it is near impossible to keep a food blog going when you haven't made time to the grocery store in weeks and you only have some cheesesticks and almonds in the fridge. My to-do and to-call lists are lengthening and the mental list to keep up with the physical lists wakes me at 2am to obsess about its priorities.  So today is catch-up day.  Washer is washing, ironing board is set up, grocery list is ready to go and I am blogging.  I will sleep well tonight. So enough of this chit-chat.

Below you will find a recipe of sorts for a stir-fry I made last week.  It uses Baby Bok Choy and if you have never tried this veg; this is a great introductory recipe.  Bok Choy, aka a super food, is a little sweet, has a bit of a crunch and great Asian flavor.  I use the term "recipe" loosely, as it is really more of a list of ingredients I threw together and called it a stir-fry.  Look at your spice rack and play with the flavors.  Add other veg or meats if you wish.  Stir-fries are great go-to meals as long as you steer clear of the soy sauce and MSG found in most ready-made mixes.  Give these spices a try. You won't miss the soy sauce one bit!

Baby Bok Choy and Grass-Fed Beef "Stir-Fry"

Meat Marinade:
olive oil- enough to cover meat
smoked paprika* this is my secret to great meat dishes. it has amazing flavor.
garlic pepper grinder
steakhouse pepper grinder
ground ginger
Combine spices and oil a baggie, add in meat, toss and refrigerate until ready to use.
*Don't be shy with the spices.  Make sure all the meat is covered. Taste the marinade before you add the meat if you aren't sure about amounts.

I cooked the meat and veggies separately just because I didn't want the marinade to take over the taste of the veggies but you can cook them together if you want. Cook the meat in a a hot pan with olive oil until desired doneness.  (Don't let the olive oil smoke) Serve over veggies. I salted the dish right before serving but no other sodium was added.

Veg Portion:
baby bok choy-cleaned and chopped on the diagonal
purple onion-chopped in proportion to bok choy
matchstick carrots
Heat pan, add olive oil and onions.  Once onion begins to caramelize, add bok choy and carrots.  Cook until just tender. 



Friday, February 10, 2012

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I have to admit, I love a good peanut butter cookie.  And while I try to make good choices about everything I choose to eat, I am a realist.  So when the "realist" in me, "really" wants a peanut butter cookie, this is my go-to recipe.
Peanut butter cookies have a special place in my heart. They remind me of my great-grandmother and memories of her mixing up a batch in her peach colored melamine cookie dough bowl.  (How weird is it that I loved that bowl? Who loves a bowl?) Anyway, my job was to roll the dough into the exact same sized sticky spheres, place them on the cookie sheet in perfectly spaced columns and rows, then mash them with fork tines until they were all precisely criss-crossed and ready for baking. Little did my great-grandmother know, this process only fostered my OCD tendencies.  So many precise details.  And I loved every minute of making these with her.
My great-grandmother, who I wrote about in a previous blog, made her peanut butter cookies with Crisco, "the bad" peanut butter, white flour and salt.  This recipe I am sharing today is made with none of those and yet it tastes even better.  I am not going to pretend that these cookies are healthy but they are a great alternative to most standard recipes.  As with any sweet, moderation is key. This recipe is easy to double or triple for a party and they store best in an air-tight container after completely cooled.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups all natural, no sugar, no salt, chunky peanut butter (1 regular size jar)*
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar*
2 tsp baking soda- look for no sodium baking soda or it can be left out completely to lower sodium content
2 eggs*
2 tbs vanilla*

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Form into balls, press with fork and bake for 8 mins at 350*.  I use my cookie scoop for consistent amounts but a spoon will work too. Do not over bake.  I set the timer for 4mins, spin the cookie sheet a half turn, and then finish baking them for the last 4 mins to get evenly baked cookies. Let cool on sheet for 2 mins then place on paper towels until completely cooled.  The paper towels help draw out excess oil.  Also, I pour out a little of the peanut oil from the jar if it is really separated. Yields apx 24 cookies.
*Organic, all-natural and fresh ingredients make the best cookies

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Quiche By Any Other Name

Ah, Quiche Lorraine.  Smokey bacon and Swiss cheese in a yellow custard all baked and gooey. Always a crowd pleaser because who doesn't like cheesy, bacon goodness?  However, quiche of a "no-name" variety has become a regular around our house lately.  I found an Atkins' recipe that works well for low-carb diets and I just throw in whatever veg or meat I have in the fridge. (just for the record, the buttermilk pancake recipe from yesterday is a rare treat in our low-carb/gluten-free world, crustless quiche is our reality) It is a great way to use all those veggies in the fridge before they have to be thrown out.  I eliminate the meat for meatless meal days and am still left feeling full.  I have found the key to a good quiche is making sure all the moisture is cooked out of the veggies before adding them to the egg/cream mix. Very important! This eliminates a watery quiche because nobody wants that. Below I have listed the recipe I use for the low-carb version but search the internet and find a recipe that fits your diet restrictions if this one has too much fat for your eating plan.  Regardless of what filling you come up with, try it without the crust.  You will not miss it.  The pic to the left is from last night's dinner, aka today's lunch.  This quiche is made with green onions, bacon, kale, Tabasco, spinach and cheddar. Last week's version contained Swiss, red bell pepper, green onion, chicken sausage, mushrooms and kale.  The combinations are endless.  Oh, and be sure to double or triple your recipe so you have leftovers.  It is a great fast breakfast/lunch, reheated or cold. 

Crustless Quiche from Atkins

Ingredients


    4 oz. bacon *look for low sodium and nitrate free
    1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    6 eggs *farm fresh eggs make all the difference
    3/4 c heavy cream *organic
    2 boxes (10 oz. each) frozen chopped broccoli or spinach, thawed and squeezed dry *organic
    1/2 pound Swiss cheese, shredded *low sodium
    1/2 tsp salt *I eliminate this
    1/4 tsp pepper


Directions

1. Heat oven to 350*F. Butter a 10-inch tart pan or 9-inch deep pie plate ( I used a square 9 by 9 glass baking dish).
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels; coarsely chop.
3. Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from skillet. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, until softened but not brown. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, broccoli, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir in bacon and onion.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes (tenting with foil, if necessary, to prevent over-browning) or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Number of Servings: 8
*recipe copied from sparkpeople.com
*italics are iheartgroceries remarks

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cooking Light Buttermilk Pancakes

These are a breakfast favorite.  I add some cinnamon, nutmeg and blueberries if I feel like going all out but they are pretty darn good all by themselves.  If going gluten-free, try using Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Mix in place of the flour mixture.  Also, if you don't have buttermilk just add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to a cup of milk, let it stand for 5-10mins then use in recipe. This recipe is copied from Cooking Light.

Buttermilk Pancakes

To freeze any leftovers, place wax paper between pancakes, and wrap them tightly in foil.

5.0 13
Outstanding
Yield: 9 (4-inch) pancakes (serving size: 1 pancake)
Recipe from Cooking Light

Ingredient

sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.
  2. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.

Cooking Light Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This is one of my favorite go-to meals for meatless dinners. It gives a little twist to regular lasagna and I promise your kids will love it! *This recipe is copied from Cooking Light

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

A meatless and easy-to-eat alternative to traditional lasagna, these spinach lasagna rolls make a pleasing weeknight dinner.

5.0 2
Outstanding
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3 lasagna rolls)
Recipe from Cooking Light

Ingredients


  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (15-ounce) carton lite ricotta cheese 
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 9 cooked lasagna noodles *choose whole wheat or gluten-free if allergy
  • Vegetable cooking spray 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
  • 4 (8-ounce) cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preparation

  1. Combine 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and ricotta cheese in a large bowl, and stir well. Add spinach, and stir well.
  2. Spread 1/3 cup spinach mixture on each lasagna noodle. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, beginning at narrow end. Cut lasagna rolls in half crosswise, using a serrated knife; arrange, cut side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Combine chopped tomato and next 6 ingredients in a bowl, and stir well. Spoon tomato mixture over lasagna rolls. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.

Let's Have A Heart To Heart, Shall We?

Hearts. That is what February is all about, isn't it?  So being in the spirit of Valentine's Day and National Heart Month, I thought I would start the month off with an important heart health message.
The leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, according to the American Heart Association, is heart disease.
Yep, that is it.  One statement. That is my important message.  I even decided to add the bold, italics, red and underline so you could grasp the importance.
And do I think most people care about this statement? No.
Do I think most people understand the gravity of this statement? No.
Do I think most people tune out almost everything that follows this statement? Yes. 
And why do I think these things?  Because (enter fast-food restaurant name here) continues to serve billions every day.  Because hospitals barely have room for the constant flow of heart attack patients that enter their doors. Because our schools consider pizza a vegetable. Because American children are becoming obese in rising numbers. Because tobacco is a multi-billion dollar industry. Because we spend more time and money on television than exercising. Because stress is commonplace. Because prescription drug sales are at an all time high. And finally, because the obituary section of local newspapers proves my thinking true. Simple as that.
So for those of you who are still reading,(Hi Mom) I want you to know, I get it. I get the complacency. We make something a "National Campaign" and for one month out of the year we may consider making some changes. We might even check our blood pressure or sign up to attend a local health fair to get our cholesterol number if we are really in the spirit. We glance at a magazine article about, "How To Lose 10lbs Fast" and buy the latest diet drink in an effort to lose some weight and prevent a heart attack...if not for the long-term, at least for this week. We live in a world where the leading cause of death for men and women is heart disease for crying out loud...I understand.  But what if instead of becoming a statistic you started with just one choice? What if you chose to eat fruit over chips; not just today but from here on out? You walked your dog when you got home instead of crashing on the couch. You ordered grilled fish instead of fried and your car rarely ever pulled up to a fast food drive-thru again. (I am being realistic here, I said "rarely".) You discovered the value of deep breathing and relaxation. You vowed to stop smoking and meant it. You thought of your heart as an irreplaceable treasure, more valuable than any amount of money you could ever make or any amazing gift you could ever hope to receive. You have the power to do all of these things and more.  You have the power of prevention.  (Sorry I couldn't resist the emphasis.)
This week I plan to post several heart healthy recipes...minus the soapbox.  I, for one, plan to be more mindful of my heart; not just this month, but from here on out. 
I think Hippocrates said it best, "Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food". 
I know several of you loved the quinoa recipe so look for another this week. I also plan to post my favorite flourless cookie recipe, a meatless meal full of protein and a few of my favorite Cooking Light recipes.  But before I go, one last note. I would like to say thanks again to all my readers! I passed the 1,000 pageview mark in my first month.  That just seems crazy to me.  I seriously can't believe it. I hope you continue to read, leave comments, repin and cook along with me. It has been a blast so far and it truly makes my heart happy!

 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hearty Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

I've got a lot of laundry and house cleaning going on today but thought I would take a minute to post a recipe for the soup I made last night.  It was delish! I purchased some beautiful kale yesterday but the chicken I had planned to cook with it was not completely thawed when I got ready to cook.  Don't you just hate that? So instead of microwaving it, I remembered a quick potato and kale soup "recipe" I hadn't made in a while. I had some sausage in the fridge, so I decided to throw it in for some extra protein. Remember, most everything I make can be added to or taken away from in some fashion and still taste good. Don't be afraid to substitute beans for potatoes, spinach for kale, ham for sausage or you can leave out the sausage all together.
One more note, make sure and check your meat labels for nitrate/nitrites, MSG, preservatives and fillers/gluten. You want to purchase sausage that is uncured or free of any of those other ingredients that I listed. It is going to cost more. Period. I know, I hate paying the high prices too. But you can skip meat a few times a week and take the money you have saved on those meals to buy better protein sources for the meals with meat. Your body will thank you for it. Applegate Farms has some really good meat selections. There is a link to their website under "Places to Purchase" on my blog to the right. You can also find many of their products at Target.

Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

1 onion chopped*
1 package Kielbasa/link sausage chopped (lower the fat %, the better)*
6 small yellow potatoes diced*
4 cups kale chopped (be sure to remove the fibrous stem from the entire leaf)*
2 qts low-sodium chicken broth*
1/2 tsp granulated garlic*
1/4 to 1/2 cup Half and Half (less is few calories, more equals richer soup)*
fresh cracked pepper to taste
*Organic and local products are best

In a large pot, heat sausage and onion until onion is tender. Add stock and turn heat to medium. Skim any fat off the top then add potatoes and cook for apx 15mins or until potatoes are almost done. Skim the fat again then stir in garlic and kale. Turn heat to simmer, add cream and cracked pepper. Simmer until kale is just tender and the potatoes are soft.  This serves apx 4-6.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just For the Record

You know that saying, right?  And what about "Never say never"? Familiar with that one too? Well, just for the record, I have never eaten a bite of bologna. Never.  Not even when my grandmother, who I love and respect, tried to talk me into "just a bite".  I still remember that day. It was a close call. Nor did I eat it when my dad tried to convince me it was "just like eating pizza" because he had so wittingly put a slice of processed cheese over it to hide its greasy pinkness before cutting it into triangles "like a pizza". That day there were some tears involved. But I stood strong and once again I did not eat it. While I will give my dad points for creativity and even a few for using a simile, you just can't out wit some one's taste buds. Not at age 7 and not at thirty-something.  So when my husband asked me to try some of his Brussels sprouts he had ordered, I told him the story of the bologna pizza and explained to him there are some things I never eat. This is how that list reads:  bologna, beets, Brussels sprouts, lima beans, tofu...(there are a few more). It isn't a long list but you get the point.  Not all of those foods turn my stomach the way bologna does, but let's just say I have tasted them and see no need to taste them again.  Now with all that being said, I have to admit I was surprised to find my husband liked something I didn't. Pretty sure it was a first because most of the time it is me trying to get him to taste something that I can't imagine he won't like as much, if not more than I do. (I also can't imagine that he could find my prompting to try new foods the least bit annoying. haha!) You know how the scenario goes. Anyway, before the meal was over I ended up taking a bite.
So you remember that saying I mentioned, "Never say never"? It got me. I have loved Brussels sprouts since that day.  I found the key is in the preparation, as is the case with most foods.  (excluding bologna-sorry Dad, no amount of prep can disguise that one) When Brussels sprouts are boiled or steamed they taste horrible. I don't know why anyone would eat them that way. Yuck. But something magical happens to those cute, little cabbage mini-me's when they are sauteed and get all toasty and caramelized. They become slightly sweet, a little nutty and so yummy.  Below I have listed some steps for prepping the cruciferous cutie-pies and a couple of simple ways to cook them.  I hope you find the info helpful and add Brussels sprouts to your next grocery list. And just for the record, bologna will never be on mine.


How to clean and prep Brussels sprouts:

1. Cut off the stalk end and discard it.
2. Tear off and discard any bruised or damaged leaves.
3. Cut in half, lengthwise.
4. Rinse and drain.
That's it. Easy enough.


I have found sauteing Brussels sprouts on the stovetop to yield the best caramelization.  However, they can be broiled on a cookie sheet if you are cooking a large quantity.


For stovetop- Heat saute pan to med-high heat. On occasion I use a piece of bacon cut into small pieces for flavor. If you choose to use bacon, render the fat and place the sprouts, cut side down, in the grease. If you would rather, use 2 tbs of olive oil or other healthy oil, add the Brussels sprouts once oil is hot. Do not let olive oil get too hot, as it will burn and smoke.  Cook uncovered until brown, stir once and cover. Turn down to low heat and continue cooking until just tender, apx 5 mins. *Be careful to not let them turn to mush or they will taste and smell like sulfur. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at once.

For oven- turn oven to broil. Place Brussels sprouts on cookie sheet, cut side up, after tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Broil until brown. Turn broiler off and turn oven to 350 degrees. Stir sprouts and return to oven until tender. Serve at once.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Look Ma, No Cans!

No Cans Chicken and Rice
Have you ever used a can of condensed soup?  If you live in the South you know those cans of creamy goo are the basis of almost every cheese and cracker topped casserole recipe in existence.  Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners would consist of little else other than turkey if it weren't for the goopy stuff and just forget about Sunday pot-lucks after church.  So needless to say when I decided to eliminate almost all canned items from my diet, especially ones full of contents I could neither pronounce nor decipher their origins, condensed soup was at the top of my "Do Not Buy Again" list.  (FYI-My grocery lists tend to have addendums and my "Do Not Buy Again" list is one such addendum.)  With those cans off the purchase list, I wondered just how in the world would I ever make a casserole again?  After a few trial runs, I soon realized my fears of never making another creamy, cheesy comfort food were completely unfounded.  I haven't purchased a can of condensed soup in years and have yet to miss cooking with it. I hope this simple recipe for "No Cans Chicken and Rice" is an incentive to chunk the condensed soup in your pantry and remove it from your "Things To Buy" list and delve into another area of cleaning up your diet and ridding it of all those preservatives and whatever else all those words on the back of said cans mean.  Seriously, read the back of the cans if you still need more incentive.   

No Cans Chicken and Rice

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
2 1/2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts boiled, shredded
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tbs Smart Balance or butter
1 cup 1% milk
salt and pepper to taste
poultry seasoning to taste (optional)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (optional mix-in)

Heat water to boil and add rice.  Stir, return to boil, reduce heat and simmer per instructions on packaging.  I usually subtract 5 mins from the time for a chewier rice consistency. Once rice is done, add chicken, cheese, butter and milk. Stir and continue to simmer until creamy. Add seasoning and any mix-ins.  Serve from stove top or pour into casserole dish, top with additional cheese and bake until melted. Serves 4.

This is the rice I used
-If you like a creamier dish, adjust the butter, cheese and milk accordingly.  This recipe still has a creaminess to it without extra calories. 
-You can also omit the wild rice if your kids are like my nephews and won't eat "the black things".
-I always serve this with peas and carrots, yum!



   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Soup's On

If I were to list my favorite foods, soup would certainly rank near the top.  Ask my hubby, we eat A LOT of soup. However, it never tastes exactly the same way twice.  I am always adding different veggies, changing up the spices  or the base so it doesn't grow tiresome. Soup is a great comfort food and easy to make gluten-free, low calorie and low carb. Here is a soup I threw together the other night.  I made a list of ingredients but feel free to make it your own and add whatever veg or spice you have on-hand.


Last Minute Soup

Here is a list of what you will need.

1 lb. ground meat (I usually use beef or bison but turkey, pork or chicken work great too)*
3/4 cup matchstick carrots
1/2 white onion chopped or equiv. dried chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery or equv. dried celery flakes
1tbs minced garlic
1 quart broth (I used low-sodium, organic chicken)
1 14oz. can tomato sauce
1 can beans, rinsed and drained (I used red kidney beans)
granulated garlic to taste (I start with a tsp and go from there)
italian seasoning to taste (I use a grinder-about a tbs)
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish (I used dried b/c the fresh didn't look very good at the store)
* look for meat with no antibiotics or hormones, as well as grass-fed for best nutritional value


Heat a medium saucepan to medium-high heat and brown meat. Drain fat from meat.  Add onion, carrot, celery and spices and continue cooking until veggies are just tender. If using the dried celery and onion go ahead and add them here and give them a little color.
Add broth, tomato sauce and beans.  Bring soup to a boil and reduce to simmer. This soup doesn't need much time to simmer, apx 10 mins depending on your use of dried or fresh ingredients. Add additional seasoning, salt/pepper if desired and chopped parsley before serving. If using dried parsley add it a few minutes before serving so that is has time to absorb liquid.
Serves 4.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Repeat After Me, {KEEN-wah} Gluten-Free Cajun Quinoa



Gluten-Free Cajun Quinoa

I have mentioned Quinoa a few times here and there and publicly professed my love of the stuff.  I discovered quinoa on my quest for a gluten-free grain and well, it was love at first bite. This versatile wonder is a South American seed containing all 8 amino acids, is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron and contains no sugars.  It is prepared like rice and while it has a somewhat nutty flavor it can accompany most any dish. It can be eaten hot or cold and can even be served as a breakfast cereal.  I could go on and on.  I buy Nature's Earthly Choice Organic Quinoa in 4 lb bags at Costco for about $9 a bag and 1 cup of the stuff goes a long way. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is a "Kristin Original" so let me know what you think.

Gluten-Free Cajun Quinoa

Here is a list of what you will need:

1/2 cup quinoa*
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth*
2 cups kale chopped*
1/2 red bell pepper chopped*
1/2 green bell pepper chopped*
2 green onions chopped (only the green ends)*
2 tbs dried chopped onion or 1/2 onion chopped (I cheat with dried, as I hate to chop onions)*
1 tbs dried celery flakes or 1/2 cup chopped celery (the celery didn't look very good this week)*
2 oz andouille or any keilbasa type gluten-free, nitrate-free sausage chopped
1 lb raw, shelled, deveined shrimp
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Old Bay low sodium seasoning
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning (I used Tony's)
Ziplock bag
*organic if available

Gather ingredients and prep veggies, sausage and shrimp.  Place the thawed, clean shrimp in baggie with olive oil and Old Bay seasoning then return to fridge.










Heat a large skillet to medium heat, add sausage, onion and celery. Cook until onions are lightly carmelized. Add peppers and stir while continuing to cook over medium heat. Once the peppers are slightly soft, add quinoa then stock. Bring stock to a boil while stirring, reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for apx 15-20 mins. When quinoa is ready (it will have spiral-like projections from the seeds) add cajun seasoning, shrimp, stir and return heat to medium. Cook on medium until shrimp are opaque, add the kale, cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for 5 mins or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat, garnish with green onions. Serves 4.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pant-Pantry Connection

My Pantry
I believe I have discovered a truth.  The contents of my pantry have a direct correlation to my pant size. Don't believe me?  Think about this. I am "hungry" and go to the kitchen to check out what might be hiding out just waiting for me to devour.  Surely, something yummy has made its way to my kitchen. I know I last checked out the situation about 10 mins ago but something must have appeared while I wasn't there. I go to the fridge. Milk, eggs, butter, cheese, yogurt, several salad dressings and all the veggies tucked neatly in their compartments. Oh sure, there are some nuts and lunchmeat. Some leftover fruit salad next to the jars of pickles and olives. But that's about it. So I move on. There must be something in the freezer. Fruit for smoothies, more veggies, more meat and ice. On to the next stop. THE PANTRY.  The place where food can sit forever and a snack can always be found even if I haven't darkened a grocery store's door in weeks.  Cereal, chips, crackers, cookies and to round out the "C" words, Carbs. They lure me in and before I know it I have consumed a mile's worth of calories in minutes. Happened to anyone else? 
Now I am not saying everything in a fridge is worthy of consumption. Lord knows, a pizza box fits nicely into both a fridge and freezer. You know the spot, right next to the box of microwavable stuff and ice cream purchased "for the kids". Because kids will only eat processed, breaded stuff and ice cream.(sarcasm) Have I gone a little too far? Hit a nerve, no apologies, but you get my point. Unhealthy food makes its way into our homes. And part of it isn't completely our fault. I mean sure, we buy the stuff and bring it home but the grocery store is about 25% whole, unprocessed foods while the other 75% is filled with processed stuff just waiting to take its place in innocent pantries. Not to mention all the TV ads and the media bombardment filled with temptations for the junk. Preservative, dye and chemical filled junk. Junk to fill my pants and junk to fill your pants. (bad pun, I know, but sometimes I just can't stop myself) But think, when is the last time you saw an ad for fast food? You probably even have the jingle memorized. And now think of the last time you saw one for an apple? No jingle, huh?
Any of this sounding familiar? So you may wonder how you can revamp your pantry and in turn, your pants. While I am no pantry guru, I have figured out when my pants get a little snug it isn't from all the meat, cheese and eggs I have around. It is from the gluten-free crackers I just had to try or the Organic Tortilla Chips that I know can't be all that bad for me. Corn, salt, lime and oil. And Organic, hello. But the truth is painfully obvious and the more I fill my pantry with beans, quinoa, brown rice, steel-cut oats, sweet potatoes, onions, spices and tuna; the less space I have for the foods that shrink my pants.
I have come up with a list of staples I keep on-hand so that eating at home is easier. Maybe "easier" isn't the correct word, as no one comes in and cooks the meal for me (now that would be easy)  but at least I have all the stuff I need to whip up a quick meal without much thought. These items keep my pantry full of good, healthy choices and keep me on track. I hope this gives you a starting point if you need one or maybe a new item to add to your grocery list.

Pantry Staples:
Dry Beans- Red, white, black, lentils, garbanzo, pinto,etc. Whatever they have, I buy.
Canned Beans- I use these in a time crunch. Cans are lined with BPA and can be loaded with other added stuff. So when I use them I make sure I rinse them first.
Canned Tomatoes- look for organic, BPA-free and low sodium and sugar ones. I buy stewed, sauce, diced and Mexican varieties.
Fresh Tomatoes- Cherubs are my fav but I buy seasonal varieties as well. And yes, fresh tomatoes should be kept at room temp.
Condiments- Mustards, vinegars, pickles, olives, peppers, hearts of palm, all fruit preserves, sauerkraut, etc.
Pasta- We eat pasta on occasion and have grown to like the taste of corn, rice and quinoa based pastas. If gluten is not an issue for you try a whole wheat version of the white stuff.
Rice- Brown, wild, short grain, long grain. Again, look for organic.
Quinoa- Love this grain! Planning a week of blogs dedicated to the stuff. Costco sells organic for the best price I have found.
*Again, if gluten is not an issue, try barley, couscous and other grains.
Onions- purple, sweet yellow and white
Potatoes-fingerling, sweet and various others
Broth- Chicken, veg, beef. Look for organic, low-sodium and no MSG or yeast extract.
Snacks- Popcorn, peanut butter, raw unsalted nuts, fresh fruits, dried fruits and if you choose crackers and chips- look for ones with ingredients you can pronounce, low sodium and sugar content like the ones by Food Should Taste Good.
Canned fish- salmon, tuna, sardines and anything else you can stomach. (not my favorite foods)
Cereal- Kashi has great ones without much sugar and lots of protein, Nature's Path has several gluten-free varieties. Steel-cut oats, way better than rolled but keep some rolled on-hand too. Bob's Red Mill makes some great varieties of gluten-free hot cereals.
Baking supplies- organic sugar, agave nectar, organic flour or gluten-free substitutes, cornmeal, Smart Balance oil and Pam, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder.
Misc.- Extra virgin olive oil, every variety of Mrs. Dash, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, assorted pepper grinders, smoked paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, various extracts, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay, poultry seasoning and anything else that looks interesting.
Tea- I have a variety on-hand all the time. I read a study once that found people with a cup of something warm to drink in their hands immediately felt happier and relaxed.  I believe it. My fav right now is Stash's Lemon Ginger but I fit in a cup of Green Tea any chance I get.
Coffee- I order organic, free-trade, whole bean coffee from Back Country Coffee Roasters by the case on Amazon.com. Their No-Trace Decaf and Coyote Blends are AMAZING. Check them out.

So there you have it. My pantry in a nutshell. I hope you consider adding something new to your pantry and giving yourself some healthy options when eating at home.  If you have a chance to add something today, pick up some quinoa for tomorrow's Cajun Quinoa recipe. As always, please feel free to share your ideas, site suggestions and comments. And remember, it's all about the PANTry the next time you grocery shop.

This Blog Is Kinda Kinky

Meaning it has some issues. Some kinks. Which according to Webster, are imperfections likely to cause difficulties in the operation of something. Therefore this blog is indeed kinky. Geez, people. It is a blog about food and healthy eating.  What did you think I meant?
Several of you have tried to become followers, even though you have been told all your life to be a leader not a follower; and you have yet to succeed.  I have tried everything I know how to do to fix the issue...yes, BOTH things I know how to do and neither of them have helped solve the problem. So try following me by email. It won't put your pic up as a follower but you will get the blog and that is really the whole point, right?
Also there have been some issues with leaving comments. And no, no one is purposely blocked from commenting.  All nice and polite comments are welcome. Just keep trying.  Try every option until you find one that lets you do what you want to do. That is the tactic I have found most useful in adventure.  So hang in there with me and if you are a follower who has figured out the comment feature please feel free to leave a comment sharing your skills.  This is your time to shine. 
Thanks for all the encouragement and motivation I have received so far. Look for another post later today. About food. Enough of this kinky stuff.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sometimes A Girl Just Needs A Cookie

No-Bake Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies


 A chocolate one at that.  And yesterday was just one of those days. It was not a bad day by any means. Actually, it was a wonderful day and so why not top off a wonderful day with a cookie?  For those of you who don't know me, I really do eat as I say on my blog. Healthy, whole, organic foods with very little (for lack of a better word) junk. Also, I realized a few years ago that my belly and my immune system like me so much better when I stay away from gluten; so I usually eat as gluten-free and low-carb as possible. Now with all that being said, I am sure you are wondering how a cookie can possibly fit anywhere in these guidelines? Well, my aunt sent me a recipe for one that meets most of the requirements and other than the sugar, it is pretty good for you.  These No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies are super easy to make, easy to double for a larger quanity and are gluten-free. I often mix in some chopped walnuts and ground flax for a little extra protein and Omega-3's but you can go with what you have on-hand or leave them just as they are.

Here is a list of what you will need.

1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane juice organic sugar)
1/4 cup organic 1% milk
1/4 cup all natural organic peanut butter (I like smooth but crunchy is good too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 stick organic butter
1 tbs organic cocoa
1 1/2 cups gluten-free organic rolled quick-cook oats (Bob's Red Mill)



In a saucepan heat the sugar, milk, vanilla, butter and cocoa to a boil. Let this boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the oats, peanut butter and any other mix-ins you are adding.


Scoop mixture onto wax paper or foil and let cool. Yields 16 cookies.

Friday, January 6, 2012

With A Side of Caviar, Please

So after yesterday's computer debacle and hours of trying to figure out the address of my pics, which seemed to have picked themselves up and moved to the virtual land of "Blogger" without sending me a "Hey, We Have Moved" note; I figured I might start my day out with a little good luck. I mean, it has been 5 days since my last helping of black-eyed peas and maybe a little extra serving of those lucky legumes would do me a bit of good. And just for the record, they aren't really peas, they are technically legumes (beans). See how much you have learned already? Anyway, I have never been a huge fan of black-eyed peas but being the good southern girl that I am, I eat them every New Year's Day and maybe a few other times a year. I would guess this is probably the case with most people because come on now, just how lucky can those little guys be? I found this recipe for Texas Caviar years ago and it has become one of my favorites. It has even convinced a few black-eyed pea haters to join in on the NYD tradition. The original recipe comes from the above cookbook given to me by my mom. (thanks, mom) I have modified the recipe a bit, sorry Mr. Perini, so that it has more of a salsa consistency.

Here is a list of ingredients.

1 cup to 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas* super easy to do in the crockpot and no extra sodium or BPA
3/4 cup seeded/chopped tomatoes (i used Cherubs)*
1/2 red bell pepper chopped*
1/2 purple onion chopped*
1 small bunch fresh cilantro chopped* use scissors to make fast work of chopping this
4 green onions chopped (white and green parts)*
2 tbs minced garlic*
1 tbs garlic powder*
3 tbs Smart Balance oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Frontera salsa (blue label) *secret ingredient-or it was secret before today. HEB carries it.
1 Ziploc gallon sized bag
*use organic and local every chance you get


Note the cutting "board"...one of my fav things.
 

Pour all the ingredients into the Ziploc baggie and shake them up. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight is even better. I usually flip the bag a couple of times during refrigeration to stir up the marinade. Drain the excess liquid and serve cold. And just so you know, I will be eating this with every meal until it is gone.
Bring on the GOOD LUCK!

Texas Caviar


Gluten-Free Moroccan Carrot Soup

Tex-Mex Chicken Quinoa

Baby Bok Choy And Grass-Fed Beef Stir-Fry

Gluten-Free Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie

Crustless Quiche

Hearty Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

The Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

No Cans Chicken and Rice (Gluten Free)

Last Minute Soup

Gluten-Free Cajun Quinoa

Pantry Staples

No-Bake Gluten-Free Oatmeal Cookies

Flourless Chocolate Cake gluten-free

Flourless Chocolate Cake Gluten-free

i heart groceries' Texas Caviar

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