Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spicy Cilantro Lime Sauce with Sesame

Happy weekend, everyone! I have to admit I have not been to the grocery store since Monday (at least) and its been slim pickings around here. However, I did find on last sweet potato and a few parsnips for roasting up...... And this of course means I needed a sauce to pair with these yummy root vegetables.

After a deeper search, i also found the following lurking in my kitchen: cilantro, lime, and sesame seeds...... YUM,

So, into the blender went:

2T canola mayo (On a side note, I avoid soy like the plague and soybean oil is in every other type of mayo on the shelf, even the olive oil mayo. It's crazy. I use Spectrum brand canola mayo...Anyone else found soy-free mayo?)
1c sesame seeds
1/2 bunch cilantro
Juice of 1lime
Few shakes of hot sauce (I used cholula)

I blended everything together, added a small drizzle of olive oil because it tastes good with sesame, and then some water until it was the right consistency for dipping. Of course, adjust the other ingredients as necessary.

And that's it! Easy peasy!

Oh, one final note: parsnips are my new favorite veggie... Seriously. I cut into strips, removing most of the tough core, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper (my standard MO). I roast at 400 until they are crispy.....and like magic, they become amazingly sweet little morsels of (healthy) goodness. They almost taste like apples, and may in fact inspire me to try a pork recipe or two. Even my picky eater gobbled them up! Ah, success :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Turkey Meatballs and Caprese Boccatini

Day 10 of being wheat free. Can I hear a woot-woot!?

And with meals like I'm about to share with you, I don't need no stinking wheat. Ha! (.......Until I pass someone eating a cinnamon roll, sigh. Keep on keepin on, right?!) today's meal is an homage to my husbands heritage: Italiano!

I think when most people think of Italian faire, they think of heavy, delicious, carb laden food. Which is true, most of the time. In fact, today's meal was inspired by a visit this weekend to our favorite family-owned Italian restaurant. (Quick shout to Marechiaro's on 2nd Street! Support your local businesses!) Though Marechiaros has long been a favorite spot, this was my first visit there since being wheat free. (If you are wondering why I would subject myself to the aromas of pizza and garlic bread, my husband the paisan wanted his people's comfort food. :) It was the least I could do after a long week. Also, wheat-free is never gonna work if I don't find something to eat even in the most unlikely of places.) The menu left little options for the wheat-free diet. However, after several questions to the chef (via our very nice and understanding waitress), I settled on a meal of caprese, lentil soup, and antipasto salad. A bit of a disjointed mix of food, but super tasty nonetheless. (I had even inquired about veggie lasagna without the noodles, lol, but that was gonna be rather difficult.)

So today, after surrounding myself with the irresistable aromas of Italian food, I found myself craving it once again. Here is my fresh, grain free take on the classic flavors of Italy!

Turkey Meatballs and Caprese Boccatini

I assembled my standard turkey meatballs (check out this post for the original inspiration, but was rather more heavy-handed with the basil and oregano. Today I used the following:

1lb ground turkey
1/2 handful each fresh oregano and mint, minced (this is rather Greek, but since discovering this flavor combo, I can't depart from mint in my turkey meatballs. Another match made in heaven)
1 handful fresh basil leaves, minced
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic
1 egg, beaten

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Note: Food network is always saying to use meat that was been raised to room temp so that it doesn't seize up during cooking and become tough. I'm sure this is valid. However, I find a more practical reason to do this is so my hands don't freeze to death while mixing and forming the balls. Seriously. I despise that feeling. Oh, and I use an ice cream scoop to form the balls and ensure they are uniform in size.

Heat a few T of olive oil in a skillet. I prefer cast iron for cooking these. Add meatballs to HOT pan in order to get a good, golden crust on one side and flip halfway through to get a crust on the other side. Should take 10-15 minutes to cook. Set aside.

Caprese Boccatini
1/2 bunch basil leaves
1/2 c Boccatini mozzarella (you can find in the cheese aisle, it's usually packed in water)
1 tomato, cut in small wedges
Olive oil

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl and adjust proportions to your liking. I always end up adding more cheese. Assemble a portion on the center of your plate, along with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground sea salt and some pepper. Note: I have found that fresh ground sea salt and a little oiive oil is absolutely VITAL to a good Caprese. Vital.

I made my plate with the salad in the center and meatballs surrounding....not only was it pretty, but it made it easy to scoop up all the deliciousness in one bite. The complimentary flavors make one cohesive plate.....and presto! Italiano is served, fresh and light!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spinach, strawberry, and pineapple smoothie: Kid-approved!

Our grain free breakfast was courtesy my husband today (thanks, babe!) and consisted of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, and avocado, served on a bed of arugula. Pretty yummy! It was definitely enough to stand on its own. Half way through, however, I remembered the chopped pineapple in my fridge that was on its last leg.....and my poor daughter can't eat pineapple on its own without the citric acid irritating her mouth and lips. Soooooo, solution?

Smoothie time!

I know it's been awhile since I've done smoothies, but I must have been inspired by our sudden 80 degree winter weather..... BLISS!

So here's my instant, delicious, and nutritious green smoothie of the day:

1 thick slice fresh pineapple, chopped
10 strawberries
1/2 bunch spinach, including stems
3 apple slices (only cuz my daughter wasn't finishing her apple and I didn't want to waste it!)
2 c ice

Simple and delicious. And hopefully helps stave the flu off till I get my shot!

Note: Thanks to my beloved Vitamix, I was able to leave the pineapple core, strawberry stems, and apple skins and seeds intact, so none of the fruit's fiber or nutrients were lost..... I heard someone say once to eat food the way God made it -whole. I adore my Vitamix for making this feat just a bit easier. Though make no doubt, I still have a long way to go! P.S. This was an unpaid plug for Vitamix.... I truly love it!

My daughter loved the smoothie so much she wanted to share it with her new puppy :) Also, I know the last photo is random, but it was so good, I was looking at the bottom of the glass in no time! Plus, if you hadn't realized it by now, I sort of love photography. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quinoa, Arugula, Golden Beet, & Goat Cheese . . . oh my!

This, I promise, is a little bit of salad heaven.  Added bonus: it's not just wheat free -- it's gluten free!  Most important: the FLAVOR. 

Pause.  Before I get started, let me just say, I have to add beets to the long list of vegetables that were victim to my undeserved derision. But only golden beets. Still not a fan of the red variety, but for any of your red beet lovers, I do wholeheartedly approve of their color if that helps? And I'd love any recipe suggestions to change my mind. :)

Here is a preview of how amazingly delicious AND beautiful this salad is. 

Now that I have your attention, and have tantalized your taste buds, I have to tell you this salad contains several cooked components so requires a bit of time.  HOWEVER, 1) I promise it's worth it, and 2) all the cooked items can be made ahead of time and tossed in at the last minute.  This gem of a salad is good warm or cold!
For this bit of salad heaven (3 large entree salads) you will need:

1. Roasted Golden Beets
  • 9 golden beets, washed with stems/tops removed
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place beets in a roasting pan and fill with water until beets are 3/4 submerged.  Cover with foil and roast for 1-1.5 hours.  Remove from oven, let cool, then remove skins and chop.  Let cool.

2. Quinoa
  • 1 c dry quinoa
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
While chicken is  cooking, use a medium pot to boil chicken broth and bay leaf.  Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and cover again.  Let stand for 15 minutes (this steam time is critical!!! Otherwise your quinoa will be dense and slightly crunchy; more like grape nuts than fluffy, yummy sprouted quiinoa)

3. Exploding tomato mixture
  • 1 c grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil, s/p for tossing
(Adapted from Rachael Ray) Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place on cookie sheet and roast until tomatoes start to pop.  Moisture from the tomatoes will keep the onions and garlic from burning.  And your kitchen will smell fabulous.

4.  Grilled Chicken (OPTIONAL, if making entree salads and someone in your family insists on eating meat . . . at every meal . ..  not naming names :)  love you, babe ;) )
  • 1lb chicken breast, cut into strips
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried oregano
  • s/p
  • 1 T olive oil
Heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat.  Rub chicken breasts with dry ingredients and cook until done, getting a nice golden color on both sides.  Set aside to cool.

****If knocking this out all at once, let your cooked ingredients cool before assembling salad.  You don't want wilted arugula****

Combine the above cooked ingredients in a large bowl with
  • 1 package baby arugula
  • 1/4 c goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin

And phew!  You're ready to chow down.  It was a little bit of work, definitely more fit for a weekend meal, but YUMMMMMMMMMMM.  Anything that looks this beautiful has got to taste amazing!

I adore this salad for many reason.  Its layers of flavor, its color, its nutrients, its balance . . . but what I love most is the surprises.  When I get goat cheese and roasted beets in the same forkful -- oh my goooooooodness!  Who knew that goat cheese and golden beets are such an amazing pair?!  This revelation alone is worth the prep time . . . and don't be at all surprised if you start seeing a lot of meals from me utilizing this new pair. 

Quinoa, Arugula, Golden Beet, and Goat Cheese Salad, I love you.  You've got your greens, your protein, your essential fatty acids, your antioxidants, your fiber, and your TASTE all in one amazing little (ok, big) bit of salad heaven.  Eat up! (We did.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tahini Lime Sauce with Roasted Veggies

My husband loooooooooves his veggies. LOVES. Crazy, right?! I, on the other hand, have really struggled with a bad case of veggie phobia. My previous solution was always to bury veggies in other flavors, For instance, veggie omelettes, veggie pizza, veggie fact all my early recipes on this blog stemmed from that veggie phobia. I am a master at hiding vegetables in other food deliciousness. Turns out pretty well, overall.

Then, i discovered roasted veggies..... And everything changed. It started with the brussel sprouts i described a three or four posts ago. Who knew that a little olive oil, salt & pepper, along with roasting, could make vegetables (especially brussel sprouts) so delicious?! Something about that beautiful golden color makes them taste amazing, I promise.

So, in keeping with my wheat free diet, I made a roasted vegetable dinner last night. Cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes, a serving of grilled chicken, and a side of TAHINI LIME SAUCE for dipping. Y-U-M. Note: pinterest totally inspired this dinner (I adore pinterest) with a recent pin for tahini lime sauce..... But the recipe is my own!

Tahini sauce
(note: I used a vitamix to make my own version of tahini, but you could skip the first several steps and just buy tahini at the store)
1. Toss 1 c sesame seeds with 1 tsp paprika
2. Toast in skillet on medium heat until the seeds are golden (you will be able to smell them when they are done)
3. Put toasted seeds in vitamix, add 1 garlic clove, and blend until all seeds are puréed consistency should be like peanut butter, add some olive oil or water if needed to purée
4. Transfer to bowl and whisk in: juice of three limes, salt, and a little mayo
5. Alternate adding water and olive oil until you have the desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
(if using jarred tahini, add paprika to sauce with the limes, etc)

Grilled chicken
1. Mix 1/2 T each of: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder in a small bowl
2. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix together
3 rub on all sides of 1 lb of chicken breasts
4. Heat 1 T olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook until chicken is cooked through

Veggie prep
1. Set oven to 425
2. Slice red potatoes into wedges, sweet potatoes into fries, and cauliflower into slices so all have a flat side to lay on a cookie sheet.
3. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
4. Roast until golden brown on bottom and cooked through

Pile your plate high with roasted veggies, chicken, and a side of tahini for dipping.


30 Days Wheat Free: A Fresh Start on Day 1


Orange Ginger Icelandic Skyr (like super thick Greek yogurt, with MORE protein)
////UPDATE: Skyr is available at our local health food store in the yogurt section. I use the Siggi's brand on the top shelf)/////
Fresh pomegranate seeds (I used half a pomegranate)
Orange zest

Mix together and YUMMMMMMMMM.

Believe it or not, I had never had pomegranate seeds until last October when I visited my dear friend Jessica (check her out at Capture Photography -Grant & Jessica Flynn on Facebook. She's brilliant.) I have since asked my mom, and she confirmed that she never bought them because she didnt't know how to extract the seeds without spraying juice all over the kitchen). Jess probably doesn't even realize it, but I paid exceedingly close attention as she immaculately extracted pom seeds, and have been hooked ever since.

/////UPDATE: my best attempt to explain how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate is as follows.... 1) hold pomegranate so stem is pointing upwards
2) cut the fruit horizontally (across the equator) -- super important to get this cut right!
3) hold one half of the Pom and basically invert it. It will sort of break apart and you will see little "pockets" of seeds. Continue inverting sections of Pom to expose the seeds
4) gently guide the seeds out with your finger tips (once exposed, they will almost fall out on their own)
5) if this doesn't help, tell me and I'll put something on you tube :)

On a whim, shortly after discovering pomegranate goodness, I added a TON of seeds to my favorite orange ginger yogurt. The skyr mentioned above is quite thick, so the Pom seeds play two roles- adding juice to thin it out a bit, and adding crunch akin to granola (without the granola calories). Topped with orange zest, the result is magic! And quite pretty too.

On a final health related note, I researched poms today and discovered they are perhaps the most super of all super foods. They have some of the highest antioxidant levels you can find in nature, plus special cancer fighting properties unique to them. Whole food is amazing!

Chef's Block and a Cure

Hello blog world! I am sure I have lost all followers after almost six months of blog silence, but I think I am ready to start again. First, i think i started too much at once . . . On the heels of opening this blog, i also started a creative party planning endeavor AND a creative photography project. Just a bit over zealous, don't you think??? Though both are fun efforts, I got so overwhelmed that I lost my culinary creativity . . . . By the holidays, I was suffering from the culinary version of writer's block-chef's block, as I say. I didn't even cook or bake for Christmas! (sigh)

However, a random Facebook post and the associated blog about dealing with food allergies (THEEVERYTHINGFREEMOMMY.BLOGSPOT.COM) suddenly inspired me to FINALLY do what I've been meaning to for ages . . . . 30 days wheat free!

You may be wondering why I am actually excited about this. (I so am!) Much of it has to do with anticipated results, since I am 80% sure I am indeed allergic to wheat. For someone with the allergy, benefits of cutting it out of your diet include less bloating, increased immunity, and increased weight loss, and decreased joint pain, headaches, and acne (which mysteriously showed up when I turned 30). Aside from all that, I am honestly thrilled at the challenge it presents in the kitchen. I believe the previous food blog posts on here were already wheat free, but I have NOT been holding true to that. Not in the least. Plus, making a cake or delicious burger are easy when you can use bread and flour!

So thus begins a new foray into healthy eating AND healthy cooking. I am intrigued, challenged, excited ..... Here I go!