Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cilantro-orange Slaw- gluten-free

Hi guys!  Cinco de Mayo just came yesterday!   And I just realized that today's recipe has mayo in it 😝.  Ugh, why are my puns not punny!  Anyways, today's recipe is the perfect, lightened addition to whatever Mexican fare you may have on your table (woot woot Taco Tuesday!)

To me, coleslaw is one dish that has so much contrast in texture.  You have the crunchy veggies and the creamy dressing stirred together to create a toothsome, yet velvety texture in each bite.  It amazes me.

Unlike most coleslaws, the one for today is lightened with one of my fave ingredients:  plain yogurt!  Packed with protein, creaminess, and not a lot of fat, plain, low-fat yogurt makes this slaw something that you can feel good about eating.  Y'all probably know my love for using yogurt to lighten a recipe.

In addition, I also used light mayo.  Again, this adds richness but still keeps fat in check.

I know that there's a big debate on whether cilantro is super tasty or horrible.  To some, it tastes earthy and bright, to others, soapy and gross.  I tend to think that cilantro is great.  However, I will admit that too much cilantro can overwhelm a dish and give it a soapy taste.

I hope you enjoy this versatile side dish ( and make the above picture your screensaver, lol 😆)

Cilantro- orange Slaw
·       1 medium red cabbage, shredded
·       1 carrot, shredded
·       1/3 cup orange juice
·       1/3 cup light mayonnaise
·       ¼ cup plain yogurt
·       2 T. apple cider vinegar
·       2 ½ T. cilantro, very finely chopped
·       1 tsp. sriracha hot chili sauce
·       Salt and pepper to taste

1.      In a large bowl, stir together the cabbage and carrot
2.     In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients
3.     Pour the contents of the medium bowl into the large bowl and thoroughly stir everything together to evenly coat.
4.     Best if you let the slaw sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.

5.     Enjoy stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Almond Joy Cookies- gluten-free

Hi guys!  Happy Friday! Today's recipe is the marriage of a classic, beloved candy with gluten-free ingredients.  In this recipe, the classic almond joy is being incorporated into a rich cookie for an amazing treat.  Let's talk about how each of the classic components of the almond joy candy are melded together in a chewy cookie.

1.   The Coconut
Arguably the most important component of an almond joy, the coconut adds tropical flare to an otherwise boring candy.  (Yes, almonds with chocolate are delicious, but boring, IMO) The coconut in this recipe does this as well, but it also adds structure to the cookie.  This cookie needs structure because it lacks the classic heap of flour that most cookie recipes call for.

2.  The Almond
It's half the name of the candy, so the almond better be the star.  In the classic candy, the almond adds crunch and adds texture variation.  Likewise, in this cookie, the almond adds light crunch and combines with the coconut to form the base of the cookie.

3.  The Chocolate
My personal favorite part of almond joys, the chocolate holds the almond and coconut together and also gives the bar a rich, velvety mouth feel.  In this cookie recipe, the chocolate adds richness and a nice pop of color to the light cookies.  Unlike in the classic almond joy candy, dark chocolate chips are used to cut the sweetness and make the cookie not quite so sugar-laden.

So there you have it!  A lightened, gluten-free cookie that has all the flavors of one of the most loved candies.

I didn't think of today's recipe.  Instead, I tweaked this recipe from Minimalist Baker (a great blog for people who are avoiding certain foods or have food sensitivities, BTW)  :
Almond Joy Cookies
·       1 ¼ cup almond flour
·       2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
·       ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
·       ½ tsp. baking powder
·       ¼ tsp. salt
·       ¼ cup brown sugar
·       1 large egg
·       3 T. butter, melted
·       ½ tsp. vanilla extract

1.      In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, dark chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar.
2.     In a small bowl, beat egg until light and fluffy and loose peaks have formed.
3.     To the egg, add the melted butter and vanilla and beat or whisk to combine.
4.     Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
5.     Loosely cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
6.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7.     Scoop out 1.5 T amounts of dough and form into small disks, placing them on a cookie sheet, in 3 rows of 4 cookies.
8.     Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Be careful not to burn them, especially on the bottoms.
9.     Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.
10.  Carefully loosen them with a spatula.
11.  Enjoy, storing the leftovers in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 days or 1 month in the freezer.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Better-than-the-movies Popcorn- gluten-free, refined-sugar free

Happy Monday!  If you have a post-spring break slump, ya gotta try this recipe today.  It's salty, it's buttery, and it's fun!  I didn't make up this this post title.  I gave some of this popcorn the other day to my friend (Hi Julia!) and she said something like: "This popcorn is better than the movies!"  And that's when it hit me- that's a perfect name for this post!  After hearing that claim and you still  don't feel motivated to make this delicious popcorn,  here are some reasons that might motivate you.

1.  Popcorn is Easy to Make

Seriously.  Like 4 ingredients plus a popcorn popper (or pot) plus like 10 minutes.  That's it.

2.  Popcorn is Cheap to Make

Think about it.  Corn, oil, and salt are some of the cheapest ingredients ever.  Plus, a bit of butter never broke the bank.

3.  Popcorn is Delicious

Let's face it:  Studies that have not yet taken place show that 99.9% of people love popcorn 😉.  But seriously, who doesn't like popcorn?  (If you don't, don't talk talk to me 😜.)

So there you have it:  All the inspiration you'll ever need to make an awesome snack that beats the Monday slump.  Have fun!

*Better-than-the-movies Popcorn
·       1 cup popcorn kernels, divided
·       ¼ cup canola oil, divided
·       3 T. unsalted butter, melted
·       Salt to taste

11.   Grease your popcorn popper with 2 T. of the canola oil.
22.   Let the oil heat up and test its heat with 2-3 popcorn kernels.
33.  Once the oil is hot, add ½ cup of the popcorn kernels and crank away until the crank stops and/or until popping sounds are infrequent.
44.   Repeat steps 1-3 with the other half of the divided ingredients.
55.  Drizzle with butter and top with salt, mixing until all the popped corn in coated evenly
66.  Enjoy for up to 3 days, storing at room temperature.

*Note:  The amount of kernels and oil will differ depending upon the popcorn popper you use.   I used the Whirley-Pop popcorn popper.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Italian Vinaigrette- dairy free, refined-sugar free, gluten-free

Hey guys!  Today in this recipe, I'm going the savory route for a change and I hope to be doing that more in the future.

Salad dressing is one of those condiments that we often take for granted.  But really, it's the crux of a good salad as it adds so much flavor and moisture.  Unfortunately, some of the salad dressings from the store are expensive, salty, sugary, and fatty.  Today's dressing is different.

That being said, a vinaigrette is one of the simplest condiments to make at home.  But before you get started, here are a few key elements of vinaigrettes that make them so tasty.

1.  The Fat
A good vinaigrette has got to have some kind of fat.  If you've ever looked at the ingredients of one from a store, it might contain canola oil.  In today's vinaigrette, I use good EVOO (extra virgin olive oil.)  This gives the dressing body and cuts the acidity of the vinaigrette.  It also adds some heart healthy fat to whatever you choose to use the vinaigrette on.

2.  The Acid
No vinaigrette is complete without acid.  Without an acidic, vinaigrettes are oily, fatty, and bland.  The acid in this vinagrette, red wine vinegar, brightens the dressing and makes it go farther.

3.  Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice
You COULD make a vinaigrette just out of oil and vinegar and it would be good, but spice amps up the flavor and makes your vinaigrette cuisine specific.  In today's recipe, Italian seasoning and garlic powder add earthy, herbacious, and peppery flare to the otherwise flat vinaigrette.  With all that acid, oil and spice, the vinaigrette is pretty intense.  While some store-bought vinaigrettes have corn syrup or other refined-sugar, today's vinaigrette is sweetened naturally with a bit of honey.  This doesn't make the vinaigrette sweet, rather it adds balance and keeps the dressing zesty but not overwhelming.

This vinaigrette can be used for way more than dressing salads.  Marinate chicken with it, top slices of mozzarella cheese with it, or dip chunks of crusty bread in it.  You could even drizzle it atop Italian-style zucchini .  As you can tell, this vinaigrette is versatile and delicious.

Italian Vinaigrette 
·        ½ cup + 1 T. olive oil (not light tasting)
·        ½ cup red wine vinegar
·        1 tsp. Italian seasoning
·        ½ tsp. garlic powder
·        2 tsp. honey
·        Salt and pepper to taste

1.       Mix all the ingredients thoroughly together.
2.       Enjoy for up to one week, storing in the refrigerator.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola- Vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar free

Hi guys!  Happy Easter!  Hope you all had a wonderful time with your families and friends.  Today's recipe doesn't scream springtime, but its a homey treat that everyone will enjoy, no matter what time of year it is.

Is it possible to make nutritious granola that has all the flavor of a rich, oatmeal raisin cookie?  The answer is yes!!  You just gotta nail the most important factors of the cookies.

1.  The Chew-Crunch Factor
Arguably the most important part of a stellar cookie, the chew-crunch factor is essential.  All it means is that, in my opinion, the best cookies are those that are crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle.  In this granola, the oats add hearty crunch while the raisins add sticky chew.

2.  The Sweet Factor
A cookie isn't a true cookie unless it's sweet.  That's why in order to give the granola a healthy dose of sweetness, I used maple syrup in lieu of brown sugar.

3.  The Rich Factor
Y'all know that a good cookie is rich and buttery.  It seems impossible to make a cookie-like granola rich AND healthy, but it's possible.  All I did was use a bit of canola oil instead of butter.  This gives the granola umami, which if you've seen my post on spring rolls ,  is explained.  In case you missed that post or forgot the fancy lingo, umami is basically how your taste buds perceive rich, fatty flavor.  For example, a good burger is full of umami.  Likewise, canola oil adds  richness to this cookie-like granola.

4.  The Toasty Factor
Last, but by no means least, another crucial element of a great cookie is toastiness.  This is especially true for oatmeal raisin cookies.  For this recipe, maple syrup adds toasty sweetness as does molasses.  Though there's only 1 tablespoon of molasses in this granola, it lends this amazing toasty flavor that is signature of a good oatmeal raisin cookie.

So there you have it!  That's all the elements of a good oatmeal raisin cookie packed into a hearty granola.

I didn't compose this delicious recipe; I slightly tweaked it from a great gluten-free cookbook:  "The Gluten-Free Cookbook for Families" by Pamela Ellgen.  I got this cookbook as a gift from my cousin and her husband (Hi Eric and Tina 😊!)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Granola
  • ·       6 cups gluten-free oats
  • ·       1 cup raw walnuts, finely chopped
  • ·       5 T. canola oil
  • ·       5 T. maple syrup
  • ·       1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ·       1 T. ground cinnamon
  • ·       1/8 tsp. salt
  • ·       1 T. molasses
  • ·       1 cup raisins

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2.  In a large bowl, stir together the oats and the walnuts.
3.  In small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
4.  Pour the liquid mixture over the oats and stir to coat them thoroughly.
5.  Spread the oats of a rimmed baking sheet.
6.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
7.  Use a spatula to stir the granola so that the granola on the edges moves toward the middle and 8.  the granola that was facing down on the sheet is facing up.
9.  Bake for 5 minutes more.
10.  Stir again.
11.  Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown.
12.  Slightly cool the mixture before stirring in the raisins.
13.  Store the granola in a covered container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long 😉!)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Scones: Gluten-free and Refined-sugar-free

What do you think of when you think of Easter flavors?  I think of lemon.  It's bright, zesty, and fragrant, perfect for the warm weather of spring.  And what goes better with lemon than blueberry?  Ya gotta admit, lemon lover or not, it's a classic combo.  The perfect vessel for carrying the flavors of lemon and blueberry are scones.  The only problem (ok more of a problem for people who are trying to eat healthy)  with scones, though, is that they are very rich-often filled with empty flour, sugar, butter, and cream.  For today's recipe, I decided to skip most of those ingredients.

For one thing, I used a recipe that was gluten-free.  Note:  gluten-free does NOT I repeat does NOT mean healthy.  However, when nutrient-dense almond flour and coconut flour are used in lieu of empty all-purpose flour, things get healthy.  Next, forget refined sugar.  I used honey as a natural sweetener and binder for these hearty scones.  Although honey isn't a health food (it's still sugar), it's natural and unprocessed.

Often, scones are rife with butter.  True, butter makes everything better...but everything in moderation, right?  So in these scones, I used a recipe that has a hearty, yet healthy amount of butter.  Lastly, who needs heavy cream when you've got creamy, protein-rich milk?  especially since this recipe is higher in fat initially (it's made with almonds and coconuts), there's no need for rich heavy cream.

So there you have it!  A quick, healthy, and oh-so-delicious scone recipe that will satisfy your spring cravings and make a great treat for gluten-sensitive guests (or anyone for that matter) at your Easter celebration.

I can't take credit for this delicious recipe.  I adapted it from a recipe my aunt gave me. (Hi Aunt Trish 😊!)

Lemon Blueberry Scones
  • ·       1 ¾ cup almond flour, sifted
  • ·       3 T. coconut flour, sifted
  • ·       ¼ cup honey
  • ·       1 egg
  • ·       ¼ cup milk (any kind), divided
  • ·       3 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ·       1 ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • ·       ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ·       ¼ tsp. salt
  • ·       ¾ cup blueberries

1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2.      Sift almond and coconut flours into a large bowl.
3.      Add honey, 3 T milk, butter, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt to the flours.
4.      Mix until a loose dough forms.
5.      Gently fold in the blueberries.
6.      Use a biscuit cutter to fill with equal amounts of dough.
7.      Press the dough down with your hands to form a circular shape and then place on greased cookie sheet.
8.      Brush scones with the reserved milk.
9.     Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
10.  Let cool slightly before removing from the baking sheet and eating, then enjoy!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Chocolate Almond Power Bars

Hey guys!  Y'all know that I love power bars, so I've decided to bring you today a variation of my cinnamon apricot power bars that will be the perfect, healthy addition to your Easter brunch, especially since they can be mad ahead of time.

Sometimes, we crave healthy, chocolaty, filling treats.  This recipe today meets these criteria perfectly.  It's packed with nuts, seeds, and whole grains that will satisfy your nagging sweet tooth and grumbling stomach.

You may be wondering how I switched up the recipe.  It was actually pretty simple and also somewhat because I was in a pinch.  I didn't see any applesauce so I swapped in an equal amount of mashed banana.  There weren't any grape nuts around so I threw some oat flakes into a food processor and ground them up, tossing them into the mix.  We were out of walnuts so I added almonds.  I wanted some chocolate so I threw into the mix some dark chocolate chips.  As you can tell, this recipe is highly adaptable and the flavor combos are endless and totally up to you.

Here's the link to the recipe that I adapted these bars from.  This link is also included in my Cinnamon Apricot Power bar post

In addition to being a healthy dessert, these bars also make a nourishing breakfast or snack- mid-morning or midnight-  I won't judge 😉...

Chocolate Almond Power Bars
·       2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
·       1 cup whole wheat flour
·       1 cup crushed oat flake cereal (e.g. Annie’s)
·       ½ tsp. cinnamon
·       2 beaten eggs
·       ½ cup (about 1 small) ripe banana, mashed
·       ½ cup honey
·       3 Tbs. brown sugar
·       ¼ cup vegetable oil
·       ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
·       1 ½ cups raw almonds, chopped
·       1 cup dark chocolate chips

1.      Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2.      Line a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.
3.      In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, cereal, and cinnamon.
4.      Add the eggs, banana, honey, brown sugar, and oil, mixing well.
5.      Stir in the sunflower seeds, almonds, and chocolate chips.
6.      Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
7.      Bake 30 minutes, or until firm and lightly brown on the edges.
8.      Let cool.
9.      Use the foil to lift from the pan.
10.   Cut into bars or squares and store in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a month.