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Posts tagged ‘grain free’

Ants on a Log, Deconstructed

Call me juvenile, but when I think of raisins, I think of “Ants on a Log”.

You know, celery, filled with peanut butter, topped with raisins (aka “ants”)?

ants on a log

When I ordered raisins in my CSA box last week, primarily for my middle child who is pretty sure the world revolves around raisins, I of course thought about Ants on a Log…which is really the only recipe I use raisins for.

As a kid I wouldn’t eat them. I hated celery, peanut butter belonged on sandwiches, and raisins were just grapes that’d had the life sucked out of them.

As an adult, I recently discovered I like celery, peanut butter can’t go on sandwiches because I’m not supposed to eat BREAD, and raisins? Yeah, they may still be grapes that have had the life sucked out of them…but they aren’t so bad considering what they’ve been through. 😉

Now, no matter what your cooking experience level is, I wouldn’t dare assume that you need a recipe for Ants on a Log. In fact, this post is less about cooking, and more about eating.  Let me show you what I mean:

shoppers_guide

In case you’ve never heard of it, “The DIrty Dozen” is a list of vegetables and fruits that, if at all possible, should be purchased organically grown. I am fully aware that organic foods can be very expensive (which is part of the reason why I am such a huge advocate for CSA and Farmer’s Market shopping…much cheaper!) But this list gives you a guideline for what items should be purchased organic if you can budget some, but not all.

Notice number ONE.

CELERY.

Which, by the way, is the LOG. (Ok, so maybe this blog is a little bit about the log.)

Where I live, celery is not in season right now, but you bettah believe I’m buying it organic. It is maybe a dollar more than conventional, and I am HAPPY to spend it.

While I’m on the subject of what’s in season, I’d like to point out that where I live (and I realize it varies around the country), apples, spinach, kale, collard green, potatoes, and raisins (aka GRAPES) are all readily available right now. My CSA has most of those items available right now, which means, most of them are in my fridge….except the potatoes. Those are in the pantry. 😛

Ok, so we have established we need organic celery.

On to peanut butter.

Remember when we were kids, and we were told which brand choosy mom’s choose?

Let me show you the ingredients label:

JifPB

This is the part where I try really hard not to dissect every ingredient. Let’s focus on this: It contains “fully hydrogenated vegetable oils” (which makes it so they can label it “No Partially Hydrogenated Oils!”) What does this mean? It means that Jif is poisoning their peanuts with disgusting oils that were heated to 400* then pumped with extra hydrogen atoms. The result? A smooth, creamy peanut butter that doesn’t separate. Oh, and the oil turns rancid, toxifying your system. It’s foreign to your body, so instead of using it, your body has to work harder to essentially fight it off as as free radical (which is a known cancer causing problem.)  These oils are usually (and I only say “usually” to cover my back side) made from GMO ingredients as well.

Choosy moms boycott JIF.

Alternative? Many stores offer fresh ground peanut butter (Sprouts, Winco, Whole Foods) that you grind yourself. You can choose (in most cases) between plain (aka, no sugar or salt) or honey roasted (my favorite!)  Another good option if you have a costco card, is “Brad’s Organic” peanut butter.

peanutbutter

Ingredients? Organic Peanuts”. The end.  I will add local, raw, organic honey to mine. 🙂

Always look for an organic peanut butter, and READ THE LABELS guys!

The last stop on our Ants on a Log journey? The “Ants”.

Organic raisins, or dried grapes, are remarkably good for you. They are rich in boron, iron, potassium calcium and the B vitamins, and are a good source of fiber. They are great for your eyes, can protect against gum disease and cavities, and are really high in resveratrol, the good stuff in wine. 🙂

Conventional raisins, however, not so much. In tests done on raisins grown on conventional farms, up to 26 pesticide residues have been found. Want a better understanding of what that means to YOU?

8 were known or probable carcinogens (aka cancer-causing)

11 were suspected hormone disruptors

5 were Neurotoxins

5 were developmental or reproductive toxins

and

9 were honeybee toxins, which is a serious problem…unless you don’t mind losing the majority of our fresh produce from the planet.

The solution? Organic Raisins. It’s not just what all the cool kids are doing, guys. This is a real, scientific issue, in so many ways.

As I said, this post wasn’t about teaching you how to make a favorite childhood snack. it’s about deconstructing that snack (and perhaps our current food system) in an effort to encourage you to treat yourself and your body better. As a result, you will be contributing to a far superior, sustainable, privately owned food system.

In short? We could change the world.

One raisin at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grain Free Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

Although I do not always stick to a grain free diet,  I try. I shoot for 60-70% success and call it good. I have found that there are some things that  I just can’t give up, and have to have on rare occasion:  My mom’s chicken dijon over rice. The occasional bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Red Vines.

One thing that was also on my list for a while? Pizza. It has been so great since I discovered I could make a pretty decent cracker-type crust without any grains! The possibilities are endless, but the other day I made my fave pizza ever. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Arugula pizza. YUM. For added flair, I added some lemon balm leaves that were calling to me from my CSA box. SO yum. Here’s how I did it.

For the crust, you will need:

1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/3 cup raw shredded parm cheese (I love TJ’s)

4 TBSP of refined coconut oil or other high-heat oil such as high-oleic sunflower

1 TBSP water

1 organic egg

Combine all ingredients. It will be sticky and kind of gummy.

Prepare 2 pieces of parchment paper the same size as your pizza pan ( you can trim the edges later)

BRUSH BOTH PIECES OF PARCHMENT WITH OLIVE OIL. IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS, YOU WILL END UP WITH A STICKY MESS.

Scrape the batter/ dough onto the first piece of parchment (on the greased side.) Now lay the other piece, greased side down, onto the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the crust out into a circle.

Peel the top piece of parchment off and discard. Put the crust, parchment and all, onto your pizza pan.

Next up, TOPPINGS. This is where you can do whatever you want. One suggestion? Don’t use anything too wet, like fresh mozz. It will make your dough gummy. I also find that while a good thick tomato based sauce works, a dense pesto does better. This recipe only calls for olive oil drizzled over it first, but a thick fig butter or would have been amazing.

For this recipe:

Drizzle the dough with olive oil, and brush to spread evenly.

Top with slices of mozz cheese (NOT the fresh one…too much water)

Top with prosciutto slices and bits of lemon balm (and then take a poorly lit crappy cell phone pic of it):

pizza1

 

Pop it in the oven. Bake at 400* for about 15-20 minutes. You want the crust nice and golden.

Once it comes out, top with the fresh arugula. I mixed mine with a bit of mesculin greens and some more lemon balm. 🙂 Some peeled, sliced fresh pears would have been awesome too, but I thought about it after the fact.

pizza2

 

Crispy, spicy, flavorful and satisfying. I think, for me,  “satisfying” is the most important aspect here, as sometimes, my meals are anything but.  I also feel a certain sense of satisfaction when I am using foods in the height of their freshness…bought locally, purchased in season, and used shortly after buying them.  I guarantee the fresh arugula I brought home, fresh out of the ground, is a million times tastier than the one at the store in July. You just can’t beat in-season, organic, local produce. That said, bagged arugula is better than *no* arugula. Work with what you’ve got around you, just make sure you’re eatin’ the good stuff.

Your beautiful self is worth it.

 

 

All Hail Kale!

So excited about greens right now. I love “green’s season”! I am most excited about my favorite leafy love, KALE.  While I enjoy kale cooked in many ways, my favorite is the fairly newly popular kale chip. Crispy, satisfying, and easily consumed without having to try too hard, (aka, you don’t have to force yourself to eat them), the kale chip my favorite way to stock up on the goodness of greens.

Why eat kale? Here are a few reasons:

KALE-Info-largeMy recipe for kale chips can be found HERE. They are quick, easy, cheap and DELICIOUS. Season however you like. I prefer mine with a little sea salt and garlic powder, but I have heard they are delicious dusted with nutritional yeast too. 🙂

Kale is available at most grocery stores, but being that it is time for greens in so many areas, check your local farmer’s market to see if it is available locally grown. Go with organic whenever you can…especially with tender plants like greens. I ordered some in my CSA box this week and am so looking forward to bakin’ it up. So grateful to live in an area where so much fresh food grows. Even more grateful for the local farmers that take the time to grow our food without chemicals, pesticides and franken-seeds. 🙂

Take just a few minutes to prep these yourself, and save LOADS on the packaged ones. Homemade kale chips are a million times better than store-bought, and I prefer to know exactly what went into the process.

Love yourselves, ladies…from the inside out. 🙂

 

Quick Meals – Round 2!

When I was a kid, we had “breakfast for dinner night” at least once a week. As a child, I thought my mom was being creative…maybe even a bit daring – breaking all the meal time rules.  As an adult, I know the truth. It was fast, cheap, full of protein, and everyone would eat it.

My kinda meal.

We have breakfast for dinner at least once a week around here. What used to be pancakes and sausage or french toast and eggs is now far more protein packed, and entirely lacking in fluffy goodness, but still delicious.

A recent trip to my favorite Grocery Outlet resulted in a freezer full of these:

applegatesausage

 

Quality sausages made by a reputable company for $1.49? Yes please! These puppies sell for $5.99 at my Whole Foods so I did not hesitate to buy a huge stack of them. If you have a Grocery Outlet near you, check it out. It’s not at all what it used to be. Great way to provide awesome food to your family on a frugal budget.

Back to the food.

These sausages are pre-cooked, so all you have to do is crisp them up.

While they were frying, I scrambled up a dozen organic, free-range eggs (I’m feeding five here!) in some good quality butter…and yes, some sausage drippings. My CSA has amazing eggs, but I missed out on them this week, so I grabbed a dozen from my mama’s backyard hens. If you don’t have access to free-range eggs, organic is the next best option. Grocery Outlet usually has those, too!

I chopped up some seasonal fruit from my CSA box, served up some iced  mint tea,  and called it dinner.

breakfast for dinner

I always serve eggs with some of my fresh salsa too. It adds loads of flavor, and is a great way to toss in a few extra nutrients for everyone. I am realizing more and more how valuable it is to preserve things from my box each week. A little salsa in the freezer, a little mint, dried and stored in a jar. Little by little, I’m finding ways to not only extend the life of my food, but ways to plan ahead even more than I already do.

If you eat potatoes, they would be so awesome with this meal,  cooked up with onion and jalapenos. Every week, when I place my CSA order, I see potatoes on the list, and it is so hard to resist them every time. I allow myself potatoes once or twice a month, and my next two recipes with feature two of the dishes I use them for (including a potato, bacon and arugula frittata!)

This girl loves a potato.

And breakfast for dinner night.

 

 

 

California Cooking

I’m a California girl, in every way. When it comes to fashion, give me flip flops and a maxi skirt over just about any other outfit. I prefer thrift stores or flea markets over any mall, and my idea of paradise is listening to Incubus while on a road trip to the beach, stopping for In-N-Out on the way.

Tonight’s dinner was a definite nod to California. Crisp, light flavors, a slight hint of cultural fusion and, perhaps most the most “California” aspect:  Locally sourced, organic ingredients.

On the menu tonight? Grain-free coconut chicken strips, forbidden rice drizzled with salted honey butter and spicy peach/mint salsa. Not only was it delicious but it came together in less than 45 minutes. Also, I used 5 ingredients from my csa box!

Here is how it came together:

Start with the rice. It takes the longest to cook, but requires little effort. Forbidden rice gets it name from the fact that it used to be reserved for the Emperor of China. No one else was allowed to eat it. Can you imagine? I so love food with a history lesson. I also love food that makes me feel fancy and important…food like forbidden rice. It’s not just a cool story, though…its crazy healthy too. Loaded with antioxidants, forbidden rice is a great choice if you are eating grains. I don’t eat many, but have really enjoyed this fun ingredient.

To feed my family of five, I made two cups of rice. Use 2 cups of water for every one cup of forbidden rice.

In a large pot or sauce pan, combine 2 cups rice and four cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and drop heat to low. Cook in low for 35-40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

While rice is cooking, prepare your salsa. Gather the following:

1/2 one white onion
3-4 peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 of one green bell pepper (So glad I put up those peppers!)
2 serrano chilies
Juice of one lime
Pinch of salt
2 TBSP fresh mint
2 Tsp raw honey

image

Pulse onion, pepper, lime, salt, honey and peaches in a food processor or blender. If you plan to serve salsa cold, add the mint now. If you want your salsa served warm, heat over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add mint for the last 30 seconds of heating.  Set aside.

Now, let’s get the chicken going!

For our family, we used four large boneless, skinless breasts, sliced into one inch strips. Put chicken strips into a mixing bowl containing four beaten eggs. Set aside.

Prepare your coating:

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Whisk together, set aside.

In a stainless or cast iron skillet, heat extra virgin coconut oil over medium to medium high heat. You want the oil about 1/2  inch deep in the pan. We are pan frying, not deep frying, so you only need the oil to come halfway up the chicken.

Heat oil to about 350* or until a bit of your coating sprinkled over the pan results in a hearty sizzle.

Pull the chicken out of the egg bath, dredge well in your coating.

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Once coated, drop in the oil. Fry about 3-5 minutes in each side, until golden and crispy (and cooked thoroughly on the inside.)

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Drain on a cooling rack placed over a plate, paper bag or newspaper.

Once your rice is done, stir in about 3 tbsp of was honey, 3 tbsp of butter and a generous pinch of sea salt. Stir to coat.

Now, all that’s left to do is plate up!

image

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh mint. I served this with mint tea, which was perfect.

The flavors are fresh, the contrasting elements work well together, and the Incubus playing in the background almost convinced me that I was headin’ down Hwy 101.

Almost.

Sugar Free Jam *without* Artificial Sweeteners!

I don ‘t know about you, but I am loving fruit right now. I already told you about the amazing peaches I’ve been getting from our CSA, but have I mentioned the plums? How about the berries from the farmer’s market? Or the figs that are making an appearance now…

I really try to limit fruit but sometimes you just need something sweet, and fruit is a great direction to go in when that craving hits.

I have also learned how to make jam without sugar, or any other nasty sweeteners. (Heads up! Splenda is NOT healthy.)

It is a super simple process, and you can do it with most fruits that typically work well in jam.

You only need three ingredients and about an hour:

1 TBSP chia seeds

1TBSP water

1 cup fruit

Pulse the water and chia in your blender for a bit. Add your fruit and blend. Pour into a jar and refrigerate for an hour. Voila…Jam! No added sugar, no preservatives…no guilt!

Also, its a great way to get chia into you, which is awesome. Why eat chia? Let me tell you…

chia-seeds-y-e1351642136350

It is awesome on these coconut flour crepes! (Especially if you add a dollup of coconut cream!)

Enjoy!

Peaches!

I love peaches. I’m trying not to eat too many peaches, but I love peaches.

Ordering “seasonal fruit mix” in my CSA box is always a risk. I could end up with 2 pounds of plums, which may result in me eating 2 or 3. There is always the chance, however, that I will end up with delicious, amazing peaches, in which case, I will likely eat all but 1.

The texture of the peaches I have been receiving is unlike any peach I have ever eaten. It almost has a gelatin quality to it. So creamy…delicate, but not smooshy. Really, really exquisite. Just look at the color:

fayalberta

I wasn’t sure if they were so amazing because they were some super special variety that I have never heard of (like the purple long beans that surprised me a few weeks ago) or if they were that delicious simply because they were organically, patiently grown. SO, because I know my farmer, I asked her. Here is her response (which also filled my “you learn something new every day” quota):

“Fay Alberta…super fragile old school variety. We often have our crew pick them with gloves on ’cause they bruise at the touch! Enjoy 🙂 Glad they arrived looking good!”

So there you have it. Fay Alberta Peaches. My new favorite.

As awesome as they are right out of the box, they are also really great in baked goods. I don’t do much baking these days, but I really do love to bake. In fact, I miss it.  I tend to avoid baking these days because grain-free baking usually tastes gross can be hard to execute well.

This recipe from White Apron Health  for grain-free apple cinnamon bread is one of my faves, though. Want some amazing peach and cinnamon bread?  Sub 2 peeled and diced fresh peaches for the apple, preparing the bread according to the recipe in every other way. Top it with a cinnamon/honey compound butter, and you’re set. Add a cup of coffee, and prepare for paradise.

While you’re there, take a look around. Brigitte is a wealth of information.

Soak it up, gang…summer only comes once a year. Which means peaches only come once a year. Head out to your farmer’s market and try something new. You may never know what a peach is supposed to taste like until you do. 🙂

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