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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Snack Time!

If you pay attention to any of my meal plans, you will notice that we have 3 sets of snacks- AM, PM and Evening. We may not eat this many sets of snacks each day but we strive to eat a balanced diet. This mainly started when I was struggling with my weight. I lost a significant amount of weight very fast so I had to start eating several smaller meals during the day in hopes to maintain my weight and energy levels. I also found I was starting to lack in several nutrients. Therefore, my husband’s smoothies were born. I will probably randomly post these recipes but I can’t take credit for them as he makes them for me in the mornings to take to work. We tend to eat really lean during our meals, so it doesn’t hurt us to have the extra calories. Overall, our goal for snacks is to make them wholesome, nutritional, filling and fun. My son prefers cheese sticks all of the time. My daughter may turn into a blueberry. I prefer almonds. We try to incorporate all of these into our snack time. During the week, my kids are in a daycare and they get their healthy snacks there. So mainly these snacks are for me. Anyway – here is a list of different snack ideas that we use.
·         Various fruit/veggie smoothies
·         Pre-made fruit/veggie smoothies or juices. We like the “Naked”, “Bolthouse Farms”, and “Sambazon” brands
·         Fresh fruit with mixed nuts
·         Cheese sticks – typically low fat mozzarella or Colby jack.
·         Yogurt (zero or low-fat Greek, almond milk, or coconut milk)
·         GF Granola (I really like the “Love Foods” and “Kind” brands, or make your own!)
·         Fresh veggies with dip (“Ranch” dip using yogurt)
·         Hummus (regular, red pepper, chipotle, etc.) with GF Crackers
·         Snack bars (We like “Larabar”, “Kind” bars, etc)
·         Trail mix
o   We make our own trailmix using dried fruits, GF pretzels, baked chips or crackers, GF cereals, GF granola, mixed nuts, coconut flakes, etc.
o   Our evening snack is typically our splurge – this is where we eat our smore’s, cookies or other baked goodies (in moderation of course).
o   Because my husband and I both have busy full-time jobs, we prepare our snacks for the week on Sunday’s. Whether it is cutting up fruit/veggies, making trail mix, etc., it is nice to be prepared in case we have busy days during the week.
o   It may seem like a lot of snacks but if you watch your portion sizes and what you are eating for your main meals, you can maintain a proper level of fat and calorie intake. Like I said, we don’t always have three snacks a day. Obviously, if we have eaten more than we should have (or unhealthy choices) we don’t have extra snacks to fill the calorie void. Either way, we like to have our options!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas - sort of

Okay – one of my biggest complaints about going gluten-free is tortilla shells. I’m not a huge fan of corn shells-I’ve even made my own and was still not that impressed. I really just like flour ones, especially the spinach wrap shells, tomato wraps, etc. My first GF tortilla shell was a package of large 10” teff flour wrap shells. They are really dry and do not “wrap” at all – more like a solid crumble. Anyway, I had them for a while and thought – let’s try enchiladas. They still did not hold together well so it ended up being like an “open-faced” burrito but tasted great. Give it a try (and if you have any suggestions for better GF tortilla shells, send them my way!)

2 chicken breasts, thawed, trimmed
2 tsp of taco seasoning (homemade or store bought)
1 cup of water
1 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup onions, diced
¼ cup green pepper, diced
2 cups brown rice, cooked
½ cup low fat sour cream or plain yogurt
4 10” teff flour tortilla shells
Shredded cheese or cheese slices (we used leftover thick mozzarella slices)
  •  First step is to cook chicken. I cooked mine in my pressure cooker, which is why you need the water. I threw my chicken breasts into the cook pot with the taco seasoning and water and pressure cooked for 12 minutes. If you want to grill your chicken, bake, pan fry, whatever – you just won’t need the 1 cup of water.
  • Once chicken is cooked, shred it and put into a skillet with olive oil.
  • Add onions, peppers and brown rice and cook until heated through.
  • Slowly stir in sour cream (you may want to add a little extra water with the sour cream if you want the mixture a little creamier)
  • Place ¼ of the chicken mixture into the middle of a tortilla shell and roll up like a burrito (or at least try, like I said the shells fall apart).
  • Place enchilada into a 9x9 baking dish. Repeat with the next three shells.
  • Sprinkle or place the cheese slices on top of the enchiladas and bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes or until the shell edges start to crisp and the cheese is melted.
    • NOTE: This may be messy trying to get this out of the baking dish onto the plates without it falling apart. If it does, no worries – just scoop up mixture with fork and eat
    • NOTE: Serve this with fresh corn, salsa verde and extra sour cream. We always like to make our own “pico” with tomatoes, cilantro, onions and avocados.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Salted Caramel Gluten-Free Bread Pudding

I love it when unexpected recipes pull together perfectly. This happened to be one of those, but I have my fair share of failures too (don’t worry; you won’t see many of those). My mother makes a wonderful bread pudding – which she learned to make from her mother. My grandma is where I got my love for baking. I will forever keep her cookbooks with handwritten notes in quick reach. I haven’t been able to use any of the recipes from her because they are simply not in my diet. Nothing that I make calls for lard, white refined sugar, bacon grease, Crisco or Velveeta. However- I do try to glance through to get some ideas and to remake one of our favorites. Bread pudding was a must try as my husband loves it. I’ve found that my cooking ideas work best when I just cook rather than analyze or get precise measurements, etc. I’m sure glad I decided to just go with this one…

½ loaf of stale gluten free bread, cubed (about 6 – ½” slices)
1 cup eggs (whole, white, any combo. I used 1 whole egg and enough egg white to make a cup)
1 cup milk (I used almond/coconut blend, but you could use regular or evaporated)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ cup sugar (I used Stevia powder blend or your could use ¼ cup honey)
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup caramel sauce
1 tsp sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 350°F and grease or spray with cooking spray a 9x9 baking dish.
  • If your bread slices are not stale or you need to crisp them up, put them on a cookie sheet and bake for a few minutes. You want your bread to be dry and crumbly but not too hard like a crouton.
  • Once your bread is the desired crispness, break into about ½“cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the eggs, milk, cinnamon, spice, oil, sugar and vanilla in with the bread crumbs. Mix together with your hands (so you can tell when you have the right texture).
  • Massage ingredients together until you get a very wet dough. It should resemble a chunky cake mix after mixing. You may need to add in a little more milk to get the dough wet enough – if so, add a tablespoon at a time.
  • Pour into the baking dish and bake for 25minutes or until almost completely cooked.
  • Remove from oven and pour over the caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cooked completely through (when a knife comes out clean).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Italian Veggie Pizza

So tonight the weather was extremely rare. Typically at the end of July it is close to the 100°F mark and dry as a bone… However, last week it rained (significantly) everyday and this weekend has been wonderful – temps in the 80’s. Tonight it is about 73°F with a light rain. It makes me ready for fall. Also – “Shrek” is on TV so in honor of the lovely weather and one of our favorite movies, we decided to make Gingerbread Man Veggie Pizza and snuggle on the couch. My mother-in-law recently gave me a big gingerbread man cookie pan and I have had no use for it (obviously it is the middle of summer – no gingerbread cookies here). Anyway it worked perfect tonight.

1 GF pizza crust mix (homemade or bought – tonight we used Hodgson Mill’s packaged mix)
1 cup pizza/marinara/spaghetti sauce (we made our own – I’ll post later)
4- ¼” slices of egg plant, cut into small strips
3 oz sliced mushrooms (about 12-1/8” strips
¼ cup sliced zucchini
¼ cup diced onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
½  tsp parsley
½ tsp basil
1 cup shredded cheese (we used apple smoked Gruyere cheese)
Parmesan cheese
  • Make pizza crust according to package instructions. Spread onto greased pizza pan or cookie sheet and let rise for about 20 minutes. Pre-bake for about 10 minutes.
  • While crust is pre-baking, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, parsley and basil in the olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes (veggies will still be slightly crisp – this is what you want).
  • Once crust is ready, add sauce and toppings. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and parmesan cheese evenly. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is crisp and cheese is melted.
    • NOTE: You can use other veggies if you’d like, but this is what we had on hand. Feel free to add in pepperoni or sausage, etc.
    • NOTE: After filling up our gingerbread pan with pizza dough, we had about enough dough to make a 8 inch pizza. Otherwise, depending on the crust mix you have, this should make about 2 – 12 inch pizzas.

Gluten Free Coconut Orange Baked Donuts with Chocolate Glaze

I do not have a picture of these donuts. This was totally by mistake but turned out pretty good! For my son’s 5th birthday, he requested donuts with corn on the cob for his birthday dinner. So – that’s what he got. Now the donuts we eat are never fried, always baked. These were no different, however; I had never made gluten free donuts before. I tried to convince him to have pancakes but he refused – so then it was a mission. How can I make gluten free donuts that did not taste like hockey pucks? I had convinced myself these were going to be something that everyone pretended to like but secretly threw away. However- the opposite happened. All six were gone in minutes.

1 cup gluten free pancake mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
¼ cup white sorghum flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp oil
¾ cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)
zest from one orange
¼ cup honey
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
·         Mix together all the above ingredients and bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes or until slightly brown.

While the donuts are baking, make the glaze below:
½ cup gluten free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
1 Tbsp orange juice (from orange you just zested)
1 Tbsp almond milk
·         Melt chocolate chips in microwave and mix with the other ingredients.
·         Once donuts are done baking and have cooled slightly, dip top of donut in chocolate glaze.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meal Plan - Week of 07/28/13-08/03/13

Good Morning all -

Here's this week's meal plan! Notice we have Friday night as "Kid's Choice". We have personally struggled with trying to get our 5 year old son to eat dinner (happily) with us. Granted, it is partially my fault. Poor kiddo started eating before our diets were forced to change. Some of his first foods included McDonald's happy meals, hot dogs, chips, etc. I get a lot of kickback from other parents (and my own) about not letting him eat these things anymore. Instead of chips, he gets asparagus. Instead of regular ice cream, he gets homemade almond milk ice cream or frozen yogurt, cookies made with applesauce, etc. I now pay attention to what goes on his plate and in his body and I simply cannot allow him to eat some things anymore. Anyway - he gets one night (sometimes more) where he gets to pick exactly what he wants and I will recreate a "healthy" version. Typically it is "breakfast that looks like dinner", which is basically just breakfast for dinner - and let's face it, who doesn't love that? Let your kids help with the planning - they will love it and hopefully have more incentive to eat better at meal time!  Have a lovely weekend!

PB & banana
scrambled egg
w/ PB
w/ cheese
"chips" &
lettuce wrap
w/ veggies
roasted chicken
black rice
grilled shrimp
swai (fish)
baked potatoes
sweet potatos
granola bar
ice cream
fruit pizza
chia pudding

Friday, July 26, 2013

Breakfast Quesadillas

Here I’m going to give you two versions of this tasty meal : sweet & savory. My son loves quesadillas – I love hearing him trying to pronounce it (ha)! If you haven’t noticed, I like my recipes easy and customizable. This is both. Feel free to substitute whatever you’d like – I’m just giving you a base to use your own ideas. The possibilities are endless!
Sweet Breakfast Quesadillas
8 corn (or flour) tortilla shells (6”)
3 oz of cream cheese (or cream cheese spread), softened
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup fresh berries, chopped (or fruit mix – we like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc)
  • Mix together cheese, honey and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  • On a griddle place 4 tortilla shells, spread with cream cheese mixture onto each shell.
  • Divide fruit equally among the 4 shells and put on top of the cheese mixture.
  • Top this with the remaining tortilla shells. Cook on the griddle on about 400°F until edges of shells are brown (flipping to cook both sides).
    • NOTE: We’ve also tried the following mixtures: Peanut Butter & Banana, just plain cinnamon, cream cheese & pinapple.

Savory Breakfast Quesadillas
8 corn (or flour) tortilla shells (6”)
3 eggs
2 Tbsp almond milk (or regular)
¼ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup diced green onions
Shredded cheese (whatever flavor you prefer)
  • Scramble the eggs and almond milk in a hot skillet until cooked through.
  • On a griddle, place 4 tortilla shells and add the scrambled egg mixture on to each shell.
  • Sprinkle the diced tomatoes, onions and cheese over the egg mixture on each shell.
  • Top with the remaining tortilla shells and cook on the griddle on about 400°F until edges of shells are brown (flipping to cook both sides).
    • NOTE: We’ve also tried the following mixtures: Egg, Spinach & Mushroom, Egg & Asparagus, Egg & turkey sausage/bacon.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Apple Crisp

My husband is a sucker for apple crisp and we love anything with rhubarb. I planted some rhubarb this year and had just enough to make this crisp. The fruit can easily be substituted for whatever you like: pears, peaches, any combination, etc. I’ve even added a pit of pineapple chunks to this to give it an extra flavor! This recipe is one of my go-to favorites because it is so easy and is such a good comfort food dessert.
Fruit Filling
2 cups of chopped fruit (we love strawberries, rhubarb and granny smith apples)
¼ to ½ cup of fruit juice or water (depending on how juicy you want it)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp starch (corn or tapioca)
¼ cup maple syrup or honey
½ cup GF oats
¼ cup quinoa flakes (or omit – it just gives it a little extra texture)
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup GF all purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup brown sugar (or Stevia, or regular sugar)
·         Mix together the ingredients for the fruit filling.
·         Mix together the ingredients for the topping. It should resemble a course crumb texture.
·         Place topping mixture into a greased pie plate. Then sprinkle the crumb topping over the top of the fruit. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly brown on top.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

These were my husband’s creation, so I can’t take full credit for them (I did buy the groceries though so that has to count for something right?). He loves spicy food but I do not, so we don’t have things like this often. I even tried them though and they were good!
6 jalapeno peppers, whole – seeds removed.
3 slices of turkey bacon, cut in half
mozzarella cheese slices (the equivalent of 3 cheese sticks cut in half)
  •  While wearing gloves (so you do not burn your hands, skin, eyes, face, whatever else!), cut the stem end off of the peppers. Then cut a slice down the pepper, lengthwise. You want to be able to pull apart the pepper slowly to add the cheese but you want it to keep its shape for cooking.
  • Add the cheese slices into the peppers. We used a fresh mozzarella role and just cut strips long enough to fit in the peppers. *NOTE: it helps to freeze the cheese strips for about 15 minutes so the cheese doesn’t melt out while cooking.
  • Wrap the bacon pieces around the cheese stuffed peppers and secure with a toothpick.
  • Grill or bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes or until the bacon is cooked.
    • NOTE: I’m not kidding about wearing gloves while dealing with hot peppers. Some people have skin of steel, others of us aren’t so lucky. My one and only experience with cutting jalapenos without gloves ended poorly. I was about 12 helping my mom make salsa and started cutting them bare-handed. I had jalapeno oils under my nails and on my face. For a couple of days I was miserable… so be forewarned – glove it! J

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Amazing. That’s the only thing I have to say about this one. Well – and the fact that I got a remarkable response out of my 5 year old. He told me, “Mom, this tastes even better than asparagus AND corn on the cob!” He hates asparagus but corn on the cob is his absolute favorite food. Therefore- we know this recipe is a keeper!
1 large chicken breast
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small head of broccoli, cut, steamed or cooked
1 small onion, diced
½ cup mushrooms, diced
1 cup brown rice
1 cup water
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp sage
1 ½ cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 Tbsp starch (corn or potato)
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into small chunks
½ cup GF bread crumbs
  •  In an electric pressure cooker (or other method of cooking rice-just adjust water amount), cook rice and water.
  • While rice is cooking, sauté chicken in oil in a large skillet until cooked through. Add in onion, mushrooms and cooked broccoli and cook until onions are tender.
  • Add in cooked rice and mix together. Then pour into a large baking dish, probably 2 quarts.
  • Combine milk, spices and potato starch until starch is well blended.
  • Spread mozzarella chunks evenly over the top of the casserole mixture. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the dish.
  • Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and bake at 375°F for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly and the bread crumbs have started to brown

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cheater Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits

I love bread – like so much so that most would consider it a problem. I was the one that HAD to have some type of bread for every meal. My idea of an evening snack was toast with peanut butter – not Oreo’s. When I found out I had a gluten sensitivity my first initial thought was “OMG – I’m going to die without bread.” Well, obviously, I didn’t but for a good few weeks I thought I was going to. Slowly I started finding some gluten free bread mixes and even made a few loaves of my own. My mother-in-law (one of my biggest support persons) went to a Whole Foods store and bought me TONS of gluten-free items. One of them was a box of Chēbē Cheese Bread Mix. That’s where this easy recipe came about. It saves TONS of time using a pre-made flour mix. One of these days I’ll try to recreate my own version but for now – enjoy this time saver!
1 7.5 oz box of Chēbē Cheese Bread Mix
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup water
¾ cup soy mozzarella cheese (use whatever shredded cheese you’d like)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced (*use gloves to cut this!)

Follow baking instructions on bread mix package. You could follow the package baking instructions and just add the pepper, but I did slightly tweak the amount of water and varied my cheese types.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gluten Free Graham Crackers

Smores are quite possibly our favorite treat. During the summer, we eat them practically every night. It’s not uncommon to see us “roasting” some in the oven during the winter also.  Going gluten free was a struggle because packaged GF graham crackers are just not the same as good ol’ Honey Maid grahams. Actually, they resemble pretty cardboard. These however are very flavorful and crunchy. I  LOVE the fact that I know what is in them. Anyway – this recipe was my first major GF accomplishment so I very happy to share it with you – enjoy!
¾ cup sweet white sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup potato starch
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup cold butter or shortening (in pieces) (I like to use ½ c cold soy butter, ½ c coconut oil)
¼ to ½ cup cold water
½ cup honey
2 tsp extract (vanilla, maple & almond are my favorite!)

·         Mix together dry ingredients first. Then cut in cold butter/shortening until you get a crumbly mixture. Unfortunately I have found the easiest way to do this is to use your hands – it’s quicker and much messier.
·         Add in honey and vanilla (or other) extract. Start with adding just ¼ cup of water and mix together. You want to have a nice ball of dough when you get done mixing so gradually add in enough water to get there. I typically use ½ cup and it works fine.
·         Once your dough is the right consistency, divide into three sections.
·         The next step is up to you really. You are going to need to place the finished squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The dough tends to fall apart during transportation if you just try and move by hand. I find the best method is to roll out the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. Once you get to the desired thickness (1/16-1/8th of an inch), place the bottom piece of parchment paper with dough onto the baking sheet.
·         Pierce the dough with a fork all over and delicately slice into squares. Repeat with the remaining dough.
·         Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375°F. Makes (roughly) 15 3” square cookies 1/8 inch thick.
o   Note: The baking times of the crackers will depend on the thickness of the dough. It may take a little longer if your dough was rolled into thick squares, or take less time if the crackers are really thin. It all depends on your preference.
o   My kids and I also like to use cookie cutters to cut the crackers into fun shapes.
o   Store these crackers in a sealed container or bag and they keep for about a week.