Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Slow Roasted Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

It was a sad day indeed when I found out from my Dr. that I could no longer eat garlic.
I mean I LOVE garlic. I would put garlic ON my garlic!!!
But apparently garlic stimulates the wrong side of my
immune system so no more savory garlic goodness for me......
I realized that shallots have a mild garlic taste and are actually
from the onion family.
Oh happy days are here again!
I can substitute shallots where ever garlic is called for!
So here is one of my newest favorite recipes:

Slow Roasted Garlic (Shallot) Chicken and Potatoes

2 tblsp sea salt
1 (4 - 5 pound) whole chicken
4 heads of garlic or 2 large shallots - minced
2 tblsp olive oil
1 medium lemon
1 medium yellow onion - quartered
2 cups organic chicken broth
2 - 3 pounds russet potatoes

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and cut potatoes and place in roasting pan. Add about 3/4 of the chopped garlic (shallots) and the quartered onion to the potatoes. Wash chicken and pat dry. Rub skin with olive oil and sea salt. Cut the lemon in half and place 1/2 of the lemon into the chicken cavity along with the remaining garlic (shallots). Take the remaining 1/2 of the lemon and cut it into 4 pieces. Place in pan with the potatoes. Pour chicken broth over the potatoes. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 1 hour. Remove foil, brush chicken with pan juices and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Roast, basting occasionally about 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cream of Pumpkin Soup.....yum :)

It's been a bit chilly here in Sunny Southern California
this past week.
Highs only in the 60's and overnight lows in the 40's.
This weather makes me want comfort food.
Something warm and creamy......

Cream of Pumpkin Soup

3  tblsp olive oil
1  large onion, finely chopped
2  cloves garlic minced or 2 tblsp shallots minced
1/8 to 1/4  tsp cayenne pepper
1  quart free range chicken broth
1/2  cup uncooked wild rice
1  13.5 oz can coconut milk (it doesn't taste like coconut)
1  15 oz can pumpkin puree
2  tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large stock pot saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boiling. Stir in uncooked rice. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir coconut milk into rice mixture. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Stir in pumpkin and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste. It's super yummy and has just a bit of heat from the cayenne.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mock Peanut Butter Cookies (aka Sunflower Butter Cookies)

If you know anything about me,
you know I love peanut butter cookies!
My mom would make them from time to time
and suprise me with my very own tin of cookies :)
Yes, I'm 50 years old and my mom still bakes me cookies....so what? :)
Since pretty much every ingredient in regular peanut butter cookies
is on my "poison" list these days,
I've been wanting to find a replacement.
So today, the Mock PB Cookie was born!

Mock Peanut Butter Cookies (Revised 3/2/12)
G/F, Casein Free, Corn Free, Sugar Free

1/2 cup homemade Sunflower Seed Butter (find recipe here)
1 cup Coconut Crystals (sugar alternative)
2 free range eggs
1/2 tsp g/f pure vanilla
1/4 cup Coconut flour (sifted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together sunflower seed butter, coconut crystals, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in sifted coconut flour.

I use the back of a spoon and sift it directly into the bowl.

The batter will be runny but it will thicken a bit after a few minutes.
I bought this "whoopie pie" pan at Michaels with my 50% off coupon.
It's made by Wilton and works great for lots of g/f cookies.
It gives them a nice uniform shape.
Use the backside of a slightly wet spoon to shape the cookies into nice flat rounds.
Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.
Cool on wire rack. 
Try not to eat them all in one sitting :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade Chicken Broth

Today is a big day for me for lots of reasons.
First let me start by saying how excited I am
to finally own a cast iron stock pot.
For the past 15 years I have been so weak and so full of daily pain
that I couldn't even lift one of the lids on these beauties.
 I thought for sure I'd never be able to cook with one.
But low and behold, no more pain for me
 and this gorgeous red pot is mine.
So for her maiden voyage (so to speak)
I'm making homemade chicken broth.
The only store bought chicken broth that I can have
with my food sensitivities costs about $4.00 per quart.
This pot will yield 2 quarts plus a beautifully cooked chicken as well
for around $12.00 total.
( I pay about $10.00 for a whole free range chicken)

Homemade Chicken Broth

2 1/2 pound whole free range chicken
2 organic celery ribs
3 organic medium carrots, cut into chunks
2 organic medium onions, quartered
2 bay leaves
4 tsp sea salt (optional)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
8 whole peppercorns
2 quarts cold water

Place all ingredients in a soup kettle or dutch oven. Slowly bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Set chicken aside until cool enough to handle and remove all meat from the bones. Strain broth. I add the cooked vegetables to some cooked rice along with some of the chicken for a tasty meal. Refrigerate the broth overnight and remove cold layer of fat if desired. I've noticed that with the free range chicken there is almost no fat the remove the next day. So that's it! Super easy and healthy! AND cost effective! Try it.....you'll like it!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gluten Free & Sugar Free Pumpkin Muffins

One of my favorite things about the fall is
pumpkin bread and muffins!
One of the things I've noticed about gluten free baking is that most people who go gluten free for health reasons, totally overlook the ill effects of cane sugar.
For me it's not an option because I am glucose intollerant.
Coconut crystals have been a real find for me. They look and taste like brown sugar and are made from the coconut flower. Coconut crystals have 1/2 the glycemic index of sugar and that makes it a great alternative for me and my baking!
I've been playing around with some different recipes and so far this one is my favorite.
The house smells divine while they are baking and these yummy little bundles of deliciousness are free of gluten, gliaden, corn, dairy, and sugar.

Gluten Free Sugar Free Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup + 1 tblsp fine brown rice flour (or white rice flour)
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup coconut crystals (natural sugar alternative)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp g/f corn free  Hain baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp guar gum
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 of 15oz can Organic Pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 free range eggs (at room temp)
1 tsp g/f pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together and with a whisk add in wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spray muffin pan with olive oil spray. Pour batter into muffin tin about 3/4 full. Gluten free batter doesn't rise the way regular flour does so you don't need to worry about it overflowing during the baking process. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. I like these better after they have cooled. The taste and texture actually improve the next day.....if you can wait that long!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower Seed Butter

2 cups raw sunflower seed (shelled)
3 packets Sweet Leaf Stevia
1 Tablespoon Coconut Crystals (sugar alternative)
4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

First let me just warn you that this stuff is addicting. I mean seriously yummy! For those of us who can't have tree nuts or peanuts, this is heaven!!! I tried making this without toasting the seeds first and just leaving them raw (because I'm lazy sometimes) and it was awful! I threw the entire batch in the trash. It tasted like olive oil....period. Yuck.

Ok...so on to the recipe. First toast the seeds in a dry pan over high heat, stirring constantly until they become a lovely golden brown and you can smell the nutty goodness :)

Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then transfer them to your food processor. Chop the seeds until they they resemble beach sand. This can take up to 15 minutes depending on the power of your food processor. (only took 1 1/2 minutes in my new Kitchen Ninja...
but that's a story for a different day)
Add in the Stevia, Coconut crystals and salt and pulse to combine. Then slowly add in the oil through the top of your processor. After a few minutes you'll have Sunflower Seed butter!

You need to store it in the refrigerator. I have no idea how long it will stay good because I've been eating it all in about 2 days :)

Super tasty on an organic brown rice cake :)
Also super tasty right out of the container with a spoon
while standing in front of the open refrigerator......

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

A bit of Cuban Flavor :)

One of my hubby's favorite foods growing up in a Cuban household is "Platanos Tachinos".
These are Plantain bananas that have been fried twice.
And I found out after doing some on-line research that plantains are actually anti-inflammatory and have lots of great health benefits!  I knew I had to add them to our diet. These are delicious and very quick and easy to prepare.

Platanos Tachinos
2 Green plantain bananas
olive oil
coarse sea salt

First of all, use only green plantains. If they have begun to yellow, they will not work with this recipe. Green plantains are not sweet and remind me of potatoes.
Peel plantains. Cut into 3/4 to 1" slices. Pour about 1" of olive oil into heavy frying pan. When the oil is hot, (340 degrees) not smoking, add plantains and fry 3 minutes. Remove from the oil to a cutting board layered with paper towels. I use the smooth side of my meat hammer to pound the fried banana chunks into flat discs. It usually only takes one well placed hit from above. This is a great way to work out any aggression as well! Re-heat the oil and return the discs to the hot oil and fry for another 3 minutes. Remove from oil and sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt.

                                                     Aye Que Bueno!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's getting better every day!

Grilled Free Range chicken breast with grilled red peppers and onions, organic refried black beans, organic avocado and plantain chips with sea salt.

Free Range Organic eggs, Free Range Turkey sausage, Coconut flour blueberry muffin and Organic avocado with green tea.

This is what I ate last night and this morning. It's definately getting easier to  find yummy ways to prepare the foods that won't cause an auto-immune response in my body. I told my husband the other night that this is the best possible diet I could ever be on because it's like when you are training a puppy with a rolled up newspaper.........if I eat something wrong......it hurts me physically....ALOT! Like getting hit with a rolled up newspaper! The pain I experienced with Fibro used to vary from maybe an 8 to 10 (on a 1 to 10 scale) on a daily basis. Pain was normal for me. For the past 15 years I've lived with it. So now that my pain is between a 1 and 4 most days, I am doing my very best to make sure that I eat only the foods that will heal me and not hurt me. On my good days I almost forget that I'm sick.....almost :)
Inflamation causes pain. So it makes sense to eat anti-inflamatory foods. You can find great articles and food lists over at http://www.livestrong.com/ 
Just type anti-inflamatory foods in the search box.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh So Tasty Quick and Easy Vegetable Meatball Soup

I'm really feeling a shift in my attitude from focusing on the awesome things " I can" eat and not all the things "I can't" eat. I needed a easy recipe for a soup that I could keep in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner during the week. Being prepared is half the battle. So I came up with this super quick and easy and Oh So Tasty Meatball Soup recipe.

Vegetable & Meatball Soup

32 oz Free Range Organic Chicken Broth
1 lb Grass Fed Organic ground beef
14.5 oz can Organic diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 of a 1 lb bag of frozen Organic peas & carrots
1/2 of a 1 lb bag of frozen Organic cut green beans
1/2 head of Organic cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tblsp Italian Herb seasoning
1 tsp Sea Salt

Mix Italian Herbs and sea salt into ground beef and form into small meatballs. Brown the meatballs in a pan until cooked through. Add all remaining ingredients, including cooked meatballs to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered about 30 minutes until vegetables are cooked through. That's it.....easy and super yummy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Coconut Flour G/F D/F C/F Brownies!

I'm so excited about coconut flour! It doesn't taste like coconut and it has more than double the fiber of other flours. And because I can't have tree nuts, almond flour is out of the question for me. One of the most amazing things about coconut flour to me is that it takes so little to make something wonderful! This recipe only takes 1/2 cup of flour and it makes an 8 x 8 pan of brownies! The texture and taste is fantastic! You won't be disappointed :)

Coconut Flour Brownies
(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Corn Free)

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs
1 cup coconut crystals (natural sugar alternative)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips (optional)

In a saucepan at low heat, blend together coconut oil and cocoa powder. Remove from heat and let cool. In a bowl, mix together eggs, coconut crystals, salt and vanilla. Stir in cocoa mixture. Whisk coconut flour into batter until there are no lumps. Pour batter into greased 8 x 8 x 2 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips across the top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Italian Chicken & Rice Soup :)

I make lunch for our family of 11 every Sunday after church. With my new diet and my daughter in law with Celiac and my 2 oldest grandsons g/f and casein free, I'm constantly looking for meals everyone can enjoy together. This quick and easy soup was a big hit with everyone!

Italian Chicken & Rice Soup

2- boneless Organic Free Range chicken breasts - cut into bite sized pieces.
2 - 32 oz containers Organic Free Range Chicken broth
1 - 26 oz Organic meatless spaghetti sauce
2 - large  Organic zucchini - diced
3 to 4 cups cooked rice (depending on how thick you like your soup. I added 4 cups)

In a large pot combine chicken, zucchini and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through. Add spaghetti sauce and cooked rice and heat through, about 10 minutes. Makes 10 - 12 servings.

I served this with french bread for those who can eat gluten, and made coconut flour honey biscuits for the g/f crowd. I'll share that recipe next time.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Little Pancake Therapy :)

As I continue down this road towards health, I find myself struggling with sadness that has been hard to shake. The realization that I can never have coffee or cheesecake again is hard to take. So much of who I am in wrapped up in the foods I make. I've always shown my love for others through food. I enjoy baking and preparing meals for my family and friends. It seems that every important event in life involves sharing a meal together. Right now I feel like someone took my brand new box of 64 crayons and took out all the colors and just left me brown and gray. I know this will pass, but I'm trying to be honest about how I'm feeling right now. I guess my job will be finding some new colors for my crayon box.......

 This morning I made some coconut flour pancakes. I thought they were really good. I'm not going to say they are better than buttermilk pancakes slathered in butter and maple syrup, but that's no longer an option for me, so I am happy to have these as the alternative. I drizzled a tiny bit of honey over the top, but next time I'm going to cut up some fresh strawberries.

Coconut Flour Mini Pancakes
( They do not taste like coconut)

2 eggs
2 tblsp coconut oil, melted
2 tblsp coconut milk
1 tsp coconut crystals (or sugar)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tblsp sifted coconut flour
1/4 Hain (corn free) baking powder

Blend together eggs, oil, coconut milk, sugar, salt & cinnamon. Combine coconut flour with the baking powder and thoroghly mix into batter. Spray pan with olive oil and spoon batter onto hot pan making pancakes about 2 1/2" to 3" inches in diameter. Batter will be thick, but will flatten out when cooking. Makes about 8 pancakes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who takes care of YOU?

This morning's breakfast : Coconut flour muffins, hormone free turkey sausage, fresh strawberries and green tea.
I don't know about you, but if I'm told that my hubby or children, or grandchildren have a specific need or want.......
that's all you had to say.

Consider it done.

 It makes me happy to find ways to serve them.
I have no problem baking g/f cupcakes for my little grandsons and daughter in law. But what I've come to realize through this whole process of healing my body through nutrition is that I really don't want to take the time to do these things for myself. Most of my meals when I'm alone are eaten in front of my computer screen or out of a zip lock baggie while I'm driving somewhere. I'm annoyed that I have to actually prepare foods that are only going to be consumed by me. Why is that? I feel that God is teaching me so much through all of this. Maybe by the time this is all over and I settle into my new lifestyle I will have come to a new appreciation of who I am and my own sense of worth.

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful; I know that full well. 
 Psalm 139:13-14

Monday, October 3, 2011

Goodbye Tree Nuts......I'll miss you

I am constantly amazed at the workings of the body.......
or in my case, the malfunctions of this body.
My immune system apparently reacts adversely to these delicious little tidbits of goodness. I found out quite by accident that tree nuts cause me extreme pain. The funny thing is that since I started my new way of eating a few months back, I've been eating nuts as snacks and substituting Almond milk for regular milk in my morning smoothies. I have been having such incredible pain in my hip joints and knees that walking and finding a comfortable position to sleep in was almost impossible. Then quite by accident, I had a nut free day and guess what? I slept like a stone and woke up being able to walk normally first thing in the morning! Who knew? I never would have made that connection. I've had this pain before. I've struggled with Fibro "flare ups" for years so I didn't even think about eating almonds or cashews as the cause of this crazy flare up. I went online and found post after post of people just like me who found that eliminating tree nuts from their diet alleviated their joint pain.  Even though I loves me some almonds, cashews and hazelnuts (can you say Nutella?) I will happily give them up forever to be able to walk without pain. So right now I'm enjoying a hot cup of Zen tea and some tasty muffins still warm from the oven.
Yep.......I can live with this :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Zucchini Fritters.....yum :)

(This awesome photo is from the blog site : thepistachioproject.blogspot.com)

Yesterday morning I attempted to make pumpkin muffins. Let's just say they were not stellar. Ok....let's be honest, they weren't even a little bit tasty.
So it's back to the drawing board for the pumpkin muffin recipe.
In the meantime I wanted to share a recipe link to some truly wonderful Zucchini Fritters I found while I was cruising around on Pinterest (It's my latest obsession!....)
My friend Amy said it best when she said that Pinterest is like a shiney new FREE magazine to look through every day!
These fritters are wonderful and even the hubby enjoyed them. I substituted coconut flour in place of the whole wheat flour and they turned out great! I'll be adding some finely diced onion to my next batch. I have found some great recipes and "pinned" them onto my "Gliaden free, corn free and casein free" board on Pinterest. If you are interested in checking them out you can click on the red "follow me on Pinterest" link at the top right hand of the page.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let the baking begin!!!

So yesterday my flour shipment from Vitacost arrived. I love Vitacost. Free shipping on orders over $49.00 (which is easy to do with g/f). I also buy our cleaning supplies, bath products and vitamins from there as well. You can even sort through things like shampoo using Gluten Free as a filter. Now I feel like I'm ready to embrace gluten free baking :) Something that I didn't realize before today is that you need to refrigerate or freeze your g/f flours and then allow them to return to room temp before baking with them.

Fortunately for me, we inherited an old dirty refrigerator that we keep in the garage that will now become
my g/f  "fortress of goodness".
I guess that means I need to deep clean it in the next few days...............

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today is the day :)

I have have come face to face with some really hard truths in the last few months. You see, I have struggled with my health (Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia and Insulin Resistance) for more than 15 years now and pain and sleepless nights have been my "normal". I was introduced to a Holistic Dr. by my son-in-law and this Dr. is helping me to allow my body to heal itself the way God designed our bodies to do through proper nutrition. I have been angry.....grouchy....and over-all whiny through a lot of this process. I have felt deprived and punished that I can't eat the foods that other people can. Through the multiple blood and saliva tests I have found out that I can never have coffee again, *sob*, no corn, no oats, no tapioca, no quinoa, no dairy, no rye, no barley, no sorghum, no sugar and no gluten. I have also found that most gluten free foods that are on the shelves even at Whole Foods contain some form of corn or tapioca in them. So I'm faced with the realization that I will be making my own foods. I also learned that I have autoimmune inflammatory issues and I need to eliminate any foods that cause inflammation as well. The good news is that I now sleep deeply through the night. I'm down 21 pounds and I have less pain (and it's only been about 2 1/2 months) I feel like I'm finally getting to a place of acceptance. I have the choice to be happy. I have the choice to live a healthier life. I've also been using natural soaps, shampoo, deoderant, etc. So I'll be sharing recipes and products that I find helpful along the way.

Today I'm sharing a muffin recipe that I made for the first time this morning :)

Gluten Free/ Dairy Free Coconut Flour Muffins

3 eggs
2 tblsp Organic Coconut Oil -melted
2 tblsp coconut milk
3 tblsp Coconut crystals or honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp real vanilla
1/4 cup Organic Coconut flour
1/4 tsp corn free baking powder (I use Hain Gluten Free)

Blend together eggs, butter, coconut milk, honey, salt and vanilla. Combine coconut flour with baking powder and thoroughly mix batter until there are no lumps. Pour batter into greased muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes 6 muffins.

*Note: there is no coconut flavor in these muffins at all :)

This is a great basic recipe. Next time I'm going to add some sliced almonds to the top before I bake them. I'm also going to experiment with adding some pumpkin :)