Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lunch Hack: Mediterannean Pita

Life has gotten so incredibly busy I often find myself resorting to fast food or coffee shop scones to get through the day. Gaining 10 lbs in the last year and feeling tired all the time tells me I need to get organized again and start packing healthier meals. This morning I had 5 minutes to spare so I looked in the fridge to see if there was something I could throw together to bring along.  This is what I came up with. It worked well for a day that I don't have access to a fridge and didn't have my chillable lunch box with me. I don't know that I would leave it in the car all day on a hot day but it certainly survived a few hours in the office and kept me out of the drive-though.

  • 1 individual sized pack (or about 2 tbs) Sabra Hummus
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 package leftover broccoli slaw mix (I almost always have this in the fridge or some type of homemade slaw - just the veggies, no dressing. Almost any variation of julienne veggies will work. I know, it's packaged food but this is one of the compromises I make in the winter when I'm not pulling fresh veggies out of my own garden anyway)
  • Pita bread (regular bread, crackers, tortilla chips, whatever...)
I did a quick blend of the hummus and lemon juice, poured it into a container with the slaw mix and viola! By the time I had lunch it had been well tossed and was ready to eat. My only regret is not grabbing a few of the lovely (nightshade free marinated) Greek olives from the fridge to add a little fat to the meal. As it was it was pretty satisfying but the olives would have been the kicker... or some feta... or a little chicken... maybe avocado...

You get the picture, it's not about a recipe here. It's about learning how to work with and make the most out of what you've got while still enjoying nutritious, yummy and SAFE meals.

*Note: sesame seeds can be cross-reactive to nightshade allergy. This means that even though they are not a nightshade, those with nightshade allergy may have trouble with them. I find that I'm OK as long as I don't have too much/too often. If you can't handle sesame seeds it's pretty easy to make your own hummus. Blend up can of garbanzos with1 tbsp lemon juice, pinch of salt, a little olive oil and as much water as needed to make it creamy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ugly Apple Cookies

They say baking is a precise art, but nothing in my kitchen is precise. I bake the way I cook, glance at a recipe to get an idea and then start putting things together until they are the way I want them. Most of the time it works. Sometimes I fail but sometimes I come up with something good enough to document so I can put it in my 3 ring recipe binder and forget about forever. 

I had a little extra time this evening, which is a rare thing. The boy child was enjoying what was possibly the last nice day of fall and my man was working late in the shop downstairs. I thought it would be nice to have some of his favorite Oatmeal Raisin cookies ready when he was done but I soon realized I didn't have any raisins... or butter... or eggs... and only 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Hmmm...

What I did have was 2 mushy bananas, a freezer full of apples from our woods and some dried cranberries. I combined my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from Paula Deen with the ingredients I had on hand, a glass of wine in the other hand, and a "devil may care" attitude and ended up with a pretty darn good (and healthy) cookie. Because there is no butter and very little sugar they didn't spread like cookies usually do. They almost have the texture of a muffin. Maybe next time I'll try them in a muffin pan and see what happens.

2 over-ripe bananas
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup rice milk (or any substitute)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground flax
1 cup diced apples
3 cups flour or GF all purpose baking flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups old fashioned oats 
2 tsp cinnamon, apple pie spice or any combination of cinnamon, ginger, clove, allspice
1 cup dried cranberries
*walnuts would be a nice addition but my kiddo is allergic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Peel and mash bananas in a mixing bowl. Add apple sauce, vanilla, rice milk, brown sugar and flax. Stir well. Add apples & combine.

In a separate bowl combine all other ingredients.

Stir together wet & dry ingredients. Add a little more flour or oats if it's too wet.

Drop spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen. Yummy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nightshade Free Salami

If you have food allergies you know how exciting it is to discover a new "safe" food, especially if it's a food that was previously considered off-limits. When you are diagnosed with a nightshade allergy there are some things that you just accept you will never taste again.  You will never have a plain old pepperoni pizza or bowl of spaghetti. Chili Verde is only a memory. Sausage & salami are no-no's.

We have this fantastic little market down the road from my house called Specialty Meats & Gourmet. I stopped by the other day because I had a coupon for free bacon. If you know me at all you know that bacon is my favorite food and Specialty Meats & Gourmet not only has fantastic bacon, but they also stock Big Fork brand bacon sausage. If you love smoky bacon you've got to try it. It's like a bratwurst but made of bacon and, most importantly, no nightshades! The first time I tried it I honestly cried. That may have had something to do with the fact that I had been starving in New Orleans for 3 days and it was the first food I found that wouldn't kill me, but it was also delicious.

I digress.

I made my way to the counter with my 2 lbs of all natural nitrate free bacon and 1 lb of duck bacon when a ray of light shone down from above on a basket of bliss right there on the counter in front of me. My eyes locked on to the magic words " No Spices Added!" on the package and I picked up the Bolzano Artisan Meats Pig Red All Natural Salami in disbelief. "Really?" I asked Steve, the owner. "Salami with no spices added? Do you have any idea how happy I am right now? There are ALWAYS spices I'm allergic to in salami."

"I think that's why they made it. Too many people with allergies to spices, garlic, onion and nitrates. And it's really good...reeeeeaaaaalllllyyy good."

After a long, detailed discussion about the product I added 2 to my purchases and skipped home like a 6 year old with a lollipop. Weeks passed as it sat wrapped on my counter top. There is something unnerving about eating something that you have always believed would send you quickly to the ER, even when you've been assured it is safe. It can almost feel like playing roulette but tonight I came home late from work. There are no leftovers in the fridge and it is really too late to cook anything. I have cheese, crackers and wine. It's time.

If I were a food writer I could wax eloquently about the flavors and texture of the salami, but I'm not a food writer. At the moment I'm just hungry and this salami is good. No, it is freaking good, oh my, thank you God for this rich, flavorful, wonderful, won't send me into anaphylaxis good salami. My world has just gotten a little bit bigger. Amen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

1 turkey carcass
6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
6 medium carrots, roughly chopped
herbs, chopped-sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 medium roughly chopped yellow onions
3 tbsp garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby arugula
16 oz wild rice blend
Notes / Directions
Put carcass, celery, carrot & onion in stock pot & cover with water

Bring to a boil & simmer 4 hours

Remove carcass, fat, bones, etc. pick meat from bones & return to pot.

Add rice, herbs & seasonings.

Simmer 2 hours, add arugula.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bhutanese Red Rice Salad

1 cup bhutanese red rice
1 can baby corn, cut in 1/2 inch segments
1 can straw mushrooms, cut in half
2 heads baby bok choi, washed & chopped
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon: ground ginger
1 tsp galangal, optional
1/4 cup soy sauce
Notes / Directions
Prepare rice according to package directions

Add mushrooms, corn & bok choi

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl

Pour over rice & toss

Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gluten Free Blueberry Scones

I took the day off work to sleep off this cold or flu or whatever it is dragging my butt down today. After almost an entire day on the couch watching back to back episodes of NCIS and compulsively checking Facebook for activity I got an uncontrollable craving for Scones.

I couldn't find a recipe that was free of all the things I needed it to be (wheat, eggs, dairy, nuts, potato flour or starch) so I pulled up a few and used them to come up with my own. I don't consider myself a baker and GF baking without eggs is very hit or miss for me so I am amazed at how well they turned out!

Servings: 12
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Category: Breakfast
3 cups Gluten Free flour blend
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp arrowroot starch
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg or egg replacer, i use ground flaxseed in hot water
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup, warm
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup warm water
2 small flats blueberries
cinnamon/sugar blend
Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl

Slowly add melted coconut oil, stirring continuously

Add remaining ingredients except water & stir

Add water 1/4 cup at a time until a firm dough forms

Remove 1/2 of the dough & form into a ball (be careful not to overwork dough)

Place on a cutting board & roll or flatten to 1 1/2 inch thick circle. Cut into 6 & arrange pieces on a baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush with a little coconut oil & sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 20 mins

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roasted Garlic Chicken with Root Veggies

Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs

1 whole chicken, pat dry
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
4 tbsp olive oil
1 oranges
1 medium roughly chopped yellow onions
1 cup swanson chicken broth
1 rutabaga, chopped
3 medium beets, chopped -reserve greens
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 small red onion, chopped

Notes / Directions
Preheat oven to 375

Combine 2 tbsp salt, 1/2 tbsp pepper and garlic powder, rub chicken with oil & seasoning. Put 1/2 orange & 3 garlic cloves in cavity.

Place chicken on bed of onion & remaining garlic in a roasting pan.

Add chicken broth, cover with foil & bake for an hour.

While chicken is roasting, prep veggies- clean & chop, wash beet greens, separate stems & leaves.

Combine root veggies in baking dish, toss with oil, s&p.

Remove chicken from oven, uncover, baste & return to oven. Turn heat up to 425.

Place roots in oven. Every 15 minutes stir veggies & baste chicken. Cook for 1 hour or until chicken juices run clear. Rest for 10 min. Reserve pan juices.

While chicken rests sauté red onion & beet green stems for 5 min. Add greens & cook until wilted. Add to roots & stir in with balsamic vinegar.

Spoon pan juices over chicken when served.

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