Posts made in April, 2013

walnut taco “meat”

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in entree | 3 comments

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It’s Meatless Monday, and my family is having these walnut tacos.  We actually had them last week too.  Rob was having his physical and blood work done (which ended up being better than his previous results!), so he asked if I would make something “light” for dinner the night before.  I have heard of making ground meat with walnuts, so I decided to give it a shot.  Oh…and I’m glad I did!  It was a huge hit with my whole family, kids included.  Even my triathlete husband filled up on these tacos.  Like most raw recipes, this one takes minutes to make, and the clean up is even easier.

 

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The “meat” of the recipe is the walnuts.  Shaped like a brain and good for your brain, walnuts pack in 2.5 grams of plant-based omega 3s per ounce as well as other mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Eating walnuts helps lower your bad cholesterol and reduces the risk for heart disease.

 

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In my food processor, I combined the walnuts with a few soaked sundried tomatoes (soaking water discarded) for flavor and a little moisture.  Sundried tomatoes wrap up all kinds of goodness in a dried little package – lots of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, Bs, C, and K.  I prefer to pick up my sundried tomatoes from the produce section instead of buying canned or jarred.

 

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I seasoned the walnut taco “meat” with typical taco spices – chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, sea salt, and a little cayenne.  After processing together all of the ingredients, I made sure to taste test the result just like I would with any raw recipe.  My family likes spicy food, so I added a good amount of spice to the “meat”.

 

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So it would taste more like the taco meat my family is used to eating, I warmed the “meat” over medium-low heat for a few minutes before serving.

 

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We are eating our tacos tonight using a romaine “shell”, but a gluten-free tortilla would also make a delicious taco.  Or, try a taco bowl or salad by layering the ingredients and drizzling lime and salsa over the top as a dressing.

 

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4.0 from 2 reviews
 
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces walnuts
  • ¼ cup soaked sundried tomatoes, soaking water discarded
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne, to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and process until it is the consistency of ground meat.
  2. Taste test, and add more spices if desired.
  3. Optional: heat in a skillet over medium-low heat for 5 - 10 minutes.

 

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butterscotch cookies

Posted by on Apr 26, 2013 in desserts, featured | 7 comments

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I used to think gluten free baking was intimidating, but now I realize it’s much easier than even my old gluten filled favorites.  And my family agrees.  They now prefer (and ask for) cookies and cupcakes made with almond flour over the traditional Nestle Tollhouse type recipes.

 

Second to chocolate, butterscotch has to be my favorite flavor.  My grandmother made a butterscotch pie for her family every week while my dad was growing up, and when my parents married, my mom took on that tradition of making my grandmother’s recipe for every special occasion.  It is still my dad’s favorite splurge, and with his birthday coming up next week, I am sure my mom will be busy in her kitchen preparing his pie.

 

Butterscotch is a flavor similar to both caramel and toffee.  All three are made with butter, sugar, milk, and maybe a little vanilla.  The difference between caramel, butterscotch, and toffee is in the type of sugar used:  caramel calls for white sugar, and butterscotch calls for brown sugar.  Caramel ends up tasting sweeter while butterscotch is a bit richer.  Toffee is basically butterscotch that has been cooked a little bit longer to make it even richer.

 

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To create the butterscotch flavor with paleo and vegan “clean” ingredients, I made a couple of simple substitutions.  I started out with almond flour as the base, but substituted coconut oil for the butter.  Instead of using brown sugar as a sweetener, I went to honey.  Brown sugar is just white sugar with a little molasses added, so I added a little bit of molasses to these cookies.  I love molasses.  It’s a thick liquid sweetener with a robust flavor and lots of energizing minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.

 

My spice cabinet is filled with lots of different extracts.  They make it so easy to add a familiar taste without adding many (if any) calories.  Extracts are basically a concentrated form of the flavor made by brewing the spice or ingredient with alcohol (some are alcohol free like those made by Frontier) and water.  I used a little bit of butterscotch extract to give these cookies that rich buttery taste.  You can purchase butterscotch extract online, or try using English toffee liquid stevia (purchase at Whole Foods) as a substitute.

 

 

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After mixing up all the ingredients in a medium bowl, I formed balls of dough (about 20 balls), and then used my fork to stamp them like I would a peanut butter cookie.

 

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I baked the cookies for about 8 – 10 minutes, and YUM!!!  A little sweet something for my Friday.

 

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5.0 from 1 reviews
butterscotch cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon butterscotch extract (or English toffee liquid stevia)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together almond flour, coconut oil, honey, molasses, butterscotch extract, and sea salt until a dough forms.
  3. Form balls with the dough using your hands, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Flatten cookies gently by stamping with a fork.
  5. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges.

 

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crunchy asparagus fries

Posted by on Apr 22, 2013 in featured, side dish, snacks, vegetables | 2 comments

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I think one of the most frustrating things about meal time with my children is getting them to eat their vegetables, especially green ones, beyond the obligatory two bites.  Vegetables taste and look exactly the opposite of anything that is remotely appetizing to a child thanks to all of the fun, colorful, sweet, and flavorful packaged convenience foods they like so much.  But these perfectly crunchy asparagus fries are ready to take on the kid taste test challenge, as they combine two aspects in food that at least opens the door for kids to try and maybe even like (?) a green vegetable.

 

First, asparagus fries are a finger food!  All kids (even big ones) like foods they can eat with their hands.  Any time you can package a food in a way that looks less intimidating is a step in the right direction.  The thin green stalks of asparagus, when hidden by a little gluten free breading and spices, make a decent attempt at mimicking an all time kid favorite – the French fry.

 

Second, asparagus fries can be dipped.  Condiments work miracles on any food.  To a kid, ketchup makes everything taste better.  Plus, dipping his or her food in the condiment of choice allows a kid to personalize the taste and have a say in how he or she is going to enjoy the food.  Every parent knows that kids love have a say in just about everything, including what and how they want to eat their food.

 

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Asparagus is one of the many green vegetables that comes in season during spring, and like other green vegetables, asparagus is loaded with all kinds of nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, and K and folate plus some trace minerals like chromium, which helps regulate blood sugar.  Asparagus is also particularly rich in the “mother of all antioxidants” – glutathione – a strong detoxifier and immune system booster.  And, asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, which is a natural diuretic – every lady’s best friend.

 

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To make asparagus fries, I first dusted some clean asparagus stalks with a couple tablespoons of almond flour.

 

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Next, I prepared a breading for the fries by combining almond flour, flax seed meal, and homemade vegan parmesan cheese.  To make my parmesan cheese imitation, I processed together some pine nuts, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

 

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I cracked an egg into a long enough bowl to fit the asparagus and dredged the stalks in the beaten egg until they were completely coated.

 

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I then rolled the egg-coated asparagus in the breading and placed the stalks in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Another option would be to lay them out flat on a parchment lined baking sheet.

 

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I baked the asparagus fries for about 22 minutes and made sure to taste test for desired crunchiness before turning off my oven.  Although my kids prefer to dip theirs in ketchup, my dip of choice is a lemon hummus I picked up at Whole Foods.

 

crunchy asparagus fries
Author: 
Recipe type: snack, side dish, vegetable
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and ends removed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup almond flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ cup flax seed meal or finely ground flax seed
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On a large dish, lay out asparagus and dust with 2 tablespoons almond flour.
  3. In a food processor, process together pine nuts, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper to make a vegan parmesan cheese.
  4. In a small bowl, combine this vegan parmesan cheese, almond flour, and flax seed meal to make the breading for the fries.
  5. Transfer the breading to a large plate.
  6. Crack the egg into a long bowl, and whisk with a fork until beaten.
  7. Dredge asparagus stalks through the beaten egg.
  8. Then roll each egg-coated stalk in the breading mixture.
  9. Lay the breaded asparagus stalks in a single layer in a greased baking pan or parchment lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until desired crunchiness is achieved.
  11. Enjoy with your favorite condiment.

 

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tuesday tips: natural ways to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in tuesday tips | 0 comments

bigstock_Beauty_In_The_Grass__2230I am a lifelong sufferer of allergies.  I’m pretty much allergic to everything, year round – all grasses, trees, weeds, dust, and pets.  Although my symptoms have improved drastically over the course of the last 10 years as my body has healed, without fail I get the itchy eyes and runny nose this time of year.  I really try to take the least amount of over the counter or prescription medicines and focus on eating and living as clean as possible instead.  However, I am also thankful for those same medicines when all my natural remedy “go-tos” are just not enough.

 

Over the last several years, as I’ve tried to reduce my use of Zyrtec, I’ve experimented with every known holistic remedy I could find.  I’ve tried chiropractic work and acupunture as well as countless body detoxes and eating programs designed to heal my gut and tame my overactive immune system.  I’ve also tried many “at home” practices, some of which I continue to do regularly because I’ve found great relief in them.

 

So as we go full speed ahead into the worst time of year for you seasonal allergy sufferers, I thought I’d share my favorite natural ways to ease my allergy symptoms.

 

bigstock_Fruit_and_vegetables_on_Boquer_18393353First, I eat clean with a focus on lots of fresh, raw foods.  Diet has done more for me to help my allergies than anything else I’ve tried.  Eating clean for me means this: minimizing processed foods, sugar, obviously no gluten, no dairy, and pretty much no grains either and maximizing vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, farm fresh eggs, and wild fish.  Once I cut out all grains (not just the gluten), I experienced a big bump in relief from my allergies.  Grains promote inflammation in my body, and allergies are an inflammatory condition.  Any way I can eat to help reduce the overall inflammation going on inside me, I jump all over. An anti-inflammatory diet means I choose those clean foods that do not spike my blood sugar nor trigger my intolerances while also feeding my body all the needed nutrients to cool the fire within.  Since grains and dairy are off the table, you may be thinking, what’s left to eat.  A lot!  All the foods I mentioned above are naturally gluten and dairy free – vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, meats, and fish.
Second, I rinse my sinuses often.  Like pretty much every day or twice a day or three times a day during allergy season.  Most allergy sufferers have heard of the netipot.  For those of you that haven’t, it’s a little ceramic pot that you fill with water and a little bit of salt.  You then lean over a sink with your head turned to the side, one ear up.  Pour the water from the spout into the nostril on top.  The water travels in one nostril and out the other and takes with it all of the allergens that are causing uncomfortable symptoms.  I have a netipot, and I like it, but I love the NediMed, which is a bottle with a nozzle on top, so you can squeeze and add a little pressure to the salt water as it moves through and cleanses all the irritants out of your nasal passages.  I highly, highly recommend one of these if you have allergies.

 

Third, I drink apple cider vinegar every morning.  Apple cider vinegar has long been known as a cure-all for all kinds of conditions like diabetes, obesity, and other inflammatory conditions.  Even though it is acidic, it has an alkaline effect on the body.  And, it also has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effect, which makes it a friend to all of those with allergies.  To drink apple cider vinegar, it must be diluted.  Add one spoonful to about ½ a cup of warm water and drink it – just try to get it past your teeth to avoid damage to your enamel.

 

Fourth, I love nettles.  I take it in capsule form daily.  Like apple cider vinegar, it also has an anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effect.  Nature’s Way has a good nettles supplement.

 

 

Fifth, I have found relief for my symptoms in homeopathic products.  When I was in the throws of my sick years, I saw a homeopath every month.  She introduced me to the “quacky” practice of homeopathy.  At first, I though it was a bunch of baloney, but I decided to try her “remedies” because I was sick and feeling miserable all of the time and figured I had nothing to lose.  I have no explanation as to how homeopathic remedies work, but they really do work if you find the right one.  That’s the trick – finding the right one, and it can take a few experimentations.  Typically homeopathic remedies come in these little blue cylinders, and they look like tiny little white balls.  You put the recommended dose under you tongue.  Another way to take these remedies is to make a magic potion by dissolving them in water and then sip on the water throughout the day.  The remedy I found to give me the most relief years ago is Kali Bichromium. I could almost feel my sinuses open up as soon as I put the remedy under my tongue.  A combination remedy that I still really like and use regularly is Sinusalia.

 

Sixth, a couple more homeopathic allergy symptom easers:  eye drops and nose spray.  When I’m about to go nuts scratching my eyes or when the helicopter is taking off (Rob’s term for the way it sounds when I itch my nose), I go to these two products: Similasan Allergy Eye Relief and Sinus Relief.

 

Seventh, I take supplements:  vitamin C, quercitin, and bromelain complex.  Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant famous for reducing inflammation, protecting our cells from damage, and strengthening the membrane of our cells.  Quercitin is a flavonoid and bromelain is an enzyme (from pineapple), which both also help to reduce inflammation in the body.  Allergies are an inflammatory condition, so boosting anti-inflammatory promoting nutrients in a supplement form helps.

 

These are just a few of the ways I naturally combat my seasonal allergies.  I am not a doctor, so ask you doctor first before trying any natural remedy.  Even though these solutions are not a prescription or over the counter medicine, they can have side effects.  Your doctor will know if they are right for you to try.

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brussels sprout bok choy slaw with creamy walnut fig vinaigrette

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in salads, side dish, vegetables | 0 comments

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This weekend, my daughter has a 3-day volleyball tournament.  It will be a busy weekend, but one I am looking forward to.  It’s been a fun season getting to know all of the parents, watching the girls come together as a team, and being initiated into the club volleyball scene.  The only thing I really don’t like about these weekends is the lack of access to descent food or any food with even a sliver of nutritional value.  Before the weekend, I decided to make up a few easily transportable salads to sneak in my tote of a purse each day.  This Brussels sprout Bok Choy slaw is one of those salads.

 

Since all the leafy greens are in season and look so fresh, I try to pick up several different varieties each week when I’m at Whole Foods.  Bitter greens are a great alkalinizing food.  Our bodies are constantly striving to maintain homeostasis, and part of that is keeping our bodies in a slightly alkaline state, so we can function like the well-oiled machine we were intended to.  The Standard American Diet can be quiet acid forming and therefore make it quite a chore to keep a body pH of slightly above 7.  To achieve an alkaline state when acid forming foods are repeatedly eaten, our bodies pull calcium from the best resource we have – our bones.  Leafy greens, especially in the raw form, are an alkaline promoting food, so eating them assists our bodies in achieving that necessary slightly alkaline pH.  Leafy greens are also great bone builders, as they have more vitamin K than any other food, which is crucial for the bone building proteins to function properly.

 

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Today, I decided to make a slaw.  Slaws keep and travel well, they’re raw, and they’re speedy to prepare.  Any leafy green can be made into a slaw, but I chose Brussels sprouts and Bok choy both because I have them on hand and because they’re two shades of green, so I thought the result would look pretty and appetizing.

 

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Making any leafy green into a slaw is as simple as pressing the “on” button on your food processor.  I just tossed the Brussels sprouts in the food processor bowl, and pulsed until they were thoroughly shredded.  Then I repeated with the Bok choy.

 

To make the walnut fig vinaigrette, I combined all of the ingredients in the Magic Bullet and blended them together.  I chose Lucini fig balsamic vinegar, which I love.  Over time, I’ve built up a variety of infused vinegars and oils as well as other interesting condiments in my pantry.  Every time I go to the grocery store, I try to throw a new one in my cart.  I think it’s the easiest way to prepare and cook different tastes with little effort.

 

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I also added some walnuts (I slightly toasted mine for extra flavor) and dried figs to the Magic Bullet, which ended up contributing a lot of taste and a creamy texture.  The figs with the help of a little maple syrup are also the perfect amount of sweet to combat the bitter taste of the leafy greens.

 

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After whipping up the vinaigrette, I just tossed and refrigerated the slaw, so the flavors could marinate a little.  Slaws are a sweet and crunchy way to eat your leafy greens.  You can easily store or transport them for busy lifestyles.  Even though I used Bok Choy to go with the Brussels sprouts, any dark leafy green would work – try kale or collard greens too.

 

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brussels sprout bok choy slaw with creamy walnut fig vinaigrette
Author: 
Recipe type: salad, vegetable, side dish
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bag or 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 head Bok choy, stalks removed
  • ⅓ cup fig balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2-3 dried figs, chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts, slightly toasted
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash Brussels sprouts, and transfer to food processor bowl. Process until finely shredded.
  2. Wash Bok Choy, remove stalks, and transfer to food processor bowl. Process until finely shredded.
  3. In a magic bullet, combine vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, figs, walnuts, thyme, and salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and creamy. Add a little water if you need to thin out the dressing.
  4. Pour dressing over greens and toss to coat.
  5. Refrigerate.

 

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