Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time To Eat!

Here is what our school lunch line looks like!

First off let me say that there are days that my 'lunch line' does not look this well put together.  The kids always joke with me that I am their 'lunch lady' and I guess I technically am these days.  ;-)  For the most part though everything I serve is basically Paleo style cooking, or just generally healthy fare.  Being a homeschooling mom of 3 requires that everything you do have some forethought in it, and cooking is no exception.

However I have found a few things like this that are super simple for me to put together.  I think I prepped this entire meal in about 15 minutes & the burgers grilled for about 20 while the asparagus roasted in the oven for the same.  Don't kid yourself if you think that it takes too long to eat healthy.  It can be done because I do it every single day.  Most of my prep work comes mid morning while the kids have started on their math assignments or are in the middle of their writing curriculum.  I work the school schedule around my lunch prep requirements so that I don't feel super rushed to get 'something' on the plate for everyone at the last minute, and also so the kids can be doing more independent work while I am cooking.

Generally in the afternoons I can also throw together a bath of muffins, or bake a loaf of Paleo style bread while dinner is marinating in the fridge.   I always used to love cooking .. then when I first became a homeschooling mom it became more of a burden.  While we were eating just a gluten free diet (as if that is simple in itself) I found myself drawn to more of the ready made gluten free options for lunch.  They were FINALLY available in the markets, and I became spoiled.

Now that I look back I am grateful for the move over to Paleo .. the food industry hasn't quite caught up to me yet (again!!) and I am back to where I was 10 years ago with gluten free .. making it myself.  ;-)  In doing so, I refuse to let it become a chore again.  I am going to darn well enjoy the process of making it and eating it. I will not be rushed.  Life is like that sometimes and I have to remember to .. slow down .. make time for the things I enjoy doing .. and find JOY in things that used to be just a chore.

** By the way .. I wanted to let you all know of a new endeavor I have started!  On top of blogging about my Paleo Cooking, I am also a Beachbody Coach!  My life has changed tremendously in the past year since becoming one.  I am finding that not only do I love talking about nutrition, but I also love talking about fitness.  I have an amazing private Facebook group of women that I get to encourage, and get to watch them encourage each other!  I work out every day with one of Beachbody's amazing fitness series, and all the while get in the best shape of my life!  If you would like to contact me then pop in for a visit at www.fitwithsadonna.com **  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza - Hawaiian Style!

I must admit to a couple of food addictions of late .. Cucumbers & Cauliflower.  Well now that I think about it you could add Almond Butter to the list, but that is a whole other post.  Having been gluten free for almost 10 years, I had found myself in a comfortable merry-go-round of nutritional options.... Hot Rice Cereal for breakfast with eggs, perhaps a stir fry with rice for dinner.   However once going Paleo my typical food choices condensed a bit more down to meat, veggies, nuts & fruit.  If I was going to be successful at Paleo it would mean opening the door to vegetables that had up until then been abruptly dismissed from my plate.

Over the years when my son & husband would specifically request cucumbers and cauliflower, I would think, "Really?"  ... Looking at my son questioningly, "Are you 'really' going to eat that cucumber if I buy it for you?"  I mean we aren't talking Nestle Chocolate Bar here .. we are talking cucumbers & cauliflower.  Thankfully that same son led me down the path of cucumber & cauliflower righteousness .. due to his inability to digest anything BUT meats, veggies, nuts & fruits I had to become more openminded.  Who knew all along he was 'trying desperately' to tell me what his body needed.

Little did I know there was an entire world out there experiments with cauliflower in my absence.  Gone were the days of just steaming it in the pot.  Now you can have Cauliflower Fried RiceMashed Potato Style Cauliflower, and my new personal favorite Cauliflower Crust Hawaiian Pizza!  Unbelievable I tell you!  It literally takes minutes to prepare .. it's Over The Moon healthy for you, and Bonus it tastes amazing!!  Granted the Pizza recipe isn't fully Paleo to some as it does include mozzarella cheese, but so far my little dude seems fine with cheese so this pizza is a 'go for launch' in our home on a regular basis!

Now just wait until you see what can be done with a cucumber!  ;-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Tacos

Thanks to Earthy Girls Fresh Market, I came home last evening with a selection of fresh peppers. Although there are many to choose from, my favorites have always been Poblanos. They are just the right amount of spice that my husband is satisfied, and I can still get the kids to eat them. Fast forward to this morning, as I sat perusing Sunset magazine. I came upon a small article about a Seattle restaurant selling Spicy Yam & Caramelized Onion Tacos. That sounded perfect for lunch, and since there wasn't a recipe given, I came up with my own version.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Tacos

2 sweet potatoes, cut into small 1-2" wedges
1 onion, sliced
1 poblano pepper
1 chicken breast, skinless & boneless
1 avocado
1 lime
taco seasoning
olive oil
6 corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Defrost your chicken breast in the microwave. Put a rather large pot of water on the oven to boil, and put the sweet potato wedges in it. Boil until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and place the sweet potatoes on a sil-pat lined cookie sheet. Add to them the sliced onion & coat with about 1-2 TBSP olive oil and sprinkle with taco seasoning until well coated. Now slice the chicken breast down the middle, creating two chicken breasts of the same size that are now thinner. Drizzle olive oil and taco seasoning, or chicken seasoning of your choice, over the top of the chicken. Place both cookie sheets in the preheated oven to cook for 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are nicely roasted, onions are caramelized and chicken registers 180 degrees.

While the items are in the oven, roast your poblano pepper over an open flame if possible; blackening the skin entirely. If this is not an option, you can wait until the other items have cooked and quickly turn the oven to broil to complete the step there. Place the pepper in a bowl & cover with a dish cloth to allow it to sweat for a few minutes, then peel off the skin, remove the seeds and slice thinly.

Prepare your avocado by slicing it thinly, along with your lime wedges. Warm your corn tortillas slightly in the oven, so that they are pliable but not hard. Assemble your tacos, and place the lime wedges on the plate. Serve with salsa & sour cream on the side, or turn the avocado slices into guacamole. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Birthday Lunch

A fantastic Fall birthday lunch. Bocconcini Salad, Sweet Cucumber Salad & Chili Chicken Soft Tacos
Chili Chicken Soft Tacos - can also be served with guacamole & salsa
Bocconcini Salad - Such a simple salad to make, and tastes divine.

As a good friend and I sat visiting in her kitchen the other night, I heard the faint call of peppers & tomatoes beckoning me from outside her kitchen window. It's not just that I am envious that I don't have my own garden this year, or even that I had some sense of desperation at the mere chance of all of that gorgeous produce freezing soon. It's that her garden is a true representation of her spirit. She pours herself into each and every section of it, and you can see that she has the same kind of love for it as she does a child. It's hard NOT to want a piece of that for your table.

It didn't matter that it was pitch black that evening. The minute my friend saw I had some interest in the garden, she dutifully donned a miners headlamp, along with her garden boots (I realized afterwards that you definitely NEED outside boots, especially at night!) and we set off through the maze of chicken suburbia towards the garden gate.

I knew that my husband's birthday was coming up, and some of his favorite things were awaiting me in that garden. So, with headlamp on, we dug through and I came home with several bags of ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers along with mildly spicy Poblanos, a fresh bunch of basil and a dark green cucumber.

Today I made him a fantastic array of all of his favorites. Chili Chicken Soft Tacos, Bocconcini Salad & Sweet Cucumber Salad. I thought I would share the recipes and remind everyone that the hourglass is slowly running out on this beautiful summer weather. I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy some of summer's greatest achievements before that crisp fall weather arrives!

Bocconcini Salad

Slice Fresh Mozzarella & ripe tomatoes and arrange in layers on a serving tray. Drizzle with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), and sprinkle chopped fresh basil over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt & freshly grated pepper to finish.

Sweet Cucumber Salad

Slice cucumber thinly (2 mediums or 3-4 small) Place in a deep serving dish that you can cover. Mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1/2 cup cold water and melt over the stove in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix thoroughly and pour over your cucumber. Store in the fridge until ready to serve cold.

Chili Chicken Soft Tacos

Set the oven to broil and place 2 - 3 fresh Poblano Peppers on the top rack. Turn every few minutes to blacken the skin. When all sides are blackened, take out and place in a bowl and cover with a towel to steam. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

Roast 4 chicken breasts in the oven. I generally cut the breasts down the middle to make two thinner versions from one breast. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper then roast at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until temp. is around 180 degrees internally.

While the chicken is roasting, pour 2-3 TBSP olive oil in a saute pan and saute 1 thinly sliced onion along with 1 large sweet pepper (red in this picture). Cook them on medium low temps to soften and caramelize, but not burn. Once cooked, sprinkle with sea salt (about 1 tsp, but according to taste... you want it semi salty to taste). Then remove from pan onto a serving tray.
Remove skins from the broiled Poblano Peppers and slice open to remove the seeds as well. Thinly slice and add them to the tray of onions and sweet peppers.

Once the chicken is done roasting, remove from oven and thinly chop. Heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in your saute pan and saute 3 finely chopped garlic cloves in the oil for about 30 seconds. Then add in the chicken. Juice one lime over the top of the chicken and garlic and saute for a minute more, then scoop the mixture on the serving tray next to your onions and peppers.

Warm corn tortillas in the oven and serve with guacamole & salsa. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes ... with a healthy twist!

I have been STARING at the slow decomposition of 2 avocados in my fridge for almost a week now. Leave it to Costco to give me like a dozen of the best darn avocados out there, then I have to figure out what to do with them before they go bad. We can enjoy a good bowl of guacamole around here the same as the next family... but every night, for two weeks? Not so much.... so THEY. SAT. THERE .... staring back at me. Crying for me to figure SOMETHING out that would make the kids beg for more. Well, little did I know this is a common dilemma among health foodie bloggers, as I was able to find the perfect Avocado Icing from Straight into Bed Cakefree & Dried to go on top of my Chickpea Cupcakes... yes... I said it.... Avocados & Chickpeas for DESSERT!!

Please, before you turn to the next blog in your reader, hear me out. This stuff is tasty, no joke. I went into it challenging myself to make the cupcake equally as healthy as the icing, and while perusing my cabinets found a can of chickpeas. "Why not?" I asked myself. So go ahead, give these to the kids for breakfast if you must.... indulge in them yourself... it's health food people!

Yummy Chickpea Cupcakes with Avocado Icing -

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin liners in muffin pans and get out your food processor.

3 eggs
4 oz semi sweet chocolate baking bar, melted in microwave
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, washed & drained.
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Process the chickpeas in the food processor, then add in the eggs and process a bit more. Add in the remaining ingredients and process again. Use a 1/3 cup scoop to fill each muffin liner (total of 12). Bake in the oven for 20-23 minutes, remove & cool.

Avocado Icing -

2 ripe avocados (you know the ones.... staring at you from the fridge)
1/2 cup honey
4 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee

Blend in the food processor (wash it first from the batter you just did in it) until it is smooth and creamy and has no grains of avocado left... after all, you wouldn't want to give it away.

Although my kids were rapt with curiosity as I was doing all of this, eager to have a sample or two. They thought the icing tasted GREAT! When spread on the Chickpea Cupcakes ... even better!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homemade Bumble Bars

It has most definitely been "a while" since my last post. House building and kid raising will do that to a gal. I have noticed lately though that in my attempt to be a "super mom", I have had to resort to buying pre-packaged "health food" snacks for my kid's lunch boxes, such as Lara bars, Bumble bars, Clif kid bars, etc... instead of finding the time to make my own. Nothing wrong with those choices for sure, but over time they do take a toll on the ole' pocket book. My son's favorite treat are the bumble bars, so I decided to stop off at my favorite whole foods bulk aisle and give these a try. I rounded up bags of raw sesame seeds, golden flaxseeds and the like and this morning I dug in. When I tried these out on the kids later on the "Thanks soooooo much mom!" "These are soooooo good!" was all the praise I needed. *I did come up with the recipe below and then wondered if perhaps someone else had tried the same thing and found a post here that was a bit different than mine, but looked just as tasty! Enjoy!

Homemade Bumble Bars -

1/4 cup crushed slivered almonds
1 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup golden flaxseeds
3 TBSP brown rice syrup
3 TBSP agave syrup
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

After mixing all of this, it will most definitely be sticky and messy. Press it into an Pam sprayed square baking dish and cook in the oven at 170 degrees for about 2 hours. When you pull it out, it will still feel soft, but will firm up upon cooling. I almost think they were a bit too crunchy for me, but I may have kept them in longer than two hours and not realized it. You will all have to play with the times a bit depending on whether you want them chewier or crunchier. Either way though, they were a very close substitute to the same bar I pay over a dollar each for!
*The hubby thought they were a little crunchier than the bars you buy. So I would say maybe cut down on cooking time and pull them out after 1 1/2 hours and see what you get.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best Gluten Free Biscuits .. A Sunday Morning Dream

There is something so necessary about a good biscuit. A biscuit you can make up on those cold Sunday mornings, or perhaps for those Sunday evening breakfasts we are so fond of in this house. Something that is so good that the kids AND the husband keep going back for more ... until you know what... you are out of biscuits and they are asking for more. These have quickly become a regular on our table. Enjoy!
Fluffy, Buttery Biscuits -
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup + 1/3 cornstarch
(don'task me why those measurements.. I just kept adding until I liked what I saw and haven't bothered to update the recipe)
4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
8 TBSP sugar (again with the measurements)
1 cup butter, cold & cubed
4 eggs
1 cup rice milk (or your choice)
2 TBSP sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. mix dry ingredients in a food processor, then add in cubed butter and pulse until crumbly. Finally add in the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a rice floured work surface, and sprinkle the top with a little rice flour. Then lightly press out to about 1 1/2 − 2 inches thick & cut with biscuit cutter. (I flour mine to help with sticking) Place in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until top is browned, and biscuits have risen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baby It's cold outside... but I'm warm in the kitchen

Leaves are changing color, tumbling one after the other across my lawn. I love watching the world go by out my kitchen window as I am busily baking warm, yummy creations in the oven. I ran across this Apple Danish recipe at Flour Arrangements
It looked to good to resist. So I got to work. The wonderful thing about gluten free goodies, especially yeast risen ones, is that they don't require a lot of fuss. You mix, shape, and wait a bit to rise, then bake. No all day double rises required. Frankly, us gluten free foodies deserve something to be a little easier in our lives, don't we? The only modifications that I made from the original recipe were to replace the tapioca flour with cornstarch, and the corn meal with corn flour. Also, when I make it again I will definitely double the appley filling.. I love the taste of it.
After the fun of baking and braiding, I had to get on with the realities of the day, and paired the yummy danish with gluten free cornbread muffins, and a layered chicken salad. Both have become such a staple in our home that I know the recipes like the back of my hand. I must say, the cornbread recipe is by far the best that I have ever tasted (if I do say so myself), better than the original for sure.
Gluten Free Cornbread Muffins
* can also be poured into an oiled cast iron skillet that has been prewarmed in the oven.. for that crispy outer crust.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
mixed together, then create a well in the center of the bowl and add:
1 cup hemp milk (or whatever you like)
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
Mix... mix...mix, then pour into your oiled muffin pans and bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes... more if you are baking in the skillet.
They are DELICIOUS.. especially when served warm along side a chilled
Layered Chicken Salad
Simple to make, if you do a little prep.
in a 13 x 9 in deep dish pan layer:
organic lettuce greens
frozen green peas
sliced organic carrots
quartered boiled eggs
thinly sliced roasted chicken breasts, cooled
a handful of chives, chopped and sprinkled over.
In a separate bowl mix:
1/2 cup or more Canola Mayonnaise
1 - 2 tsp of sugar
Spread over the layered salad, then topp with grated mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle with more chives if you desire.
Dinner is SERVED!!! Time to go play with the kids.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chili Steak Stew

Rainy days mixed with sick kids has me thinking about warm & spicy bowls of soup. Not too spicy, but just enough to kick start the immune system and make you feel warm and fuzzy all over. That's a lot to ask from a bowl of soup, I know.... I sort of went the route of a Stew & Chili combined. A little kick mixed with a hearty blend of round steak & vegetables.
Chili Steak Stew
1 1/2 lbs round steak, cut into small bite size cubes
1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion chopped
1/2 sweet green pepper, chopped
1/2 sweeet red pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped jalepeno pepper
1 can organic adzuki beans, drained & rinsed
1 can organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1- 2 cups organic low sodium chicken broth
2 TBSP mild chili powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
couple dashes of hot sauce, to taste preference
Heat 1/2 the oil in large stock pot and cook the vegetable for about 5 minutes or until slightly cooked. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil and brown the steak in it. Drain off liquid and any fat. Put the vegetables back in the pot, along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower temperature to simmer for several hours. In my case I think I started it right after lunch and let it go until around 5 pm. It was probably ready long before that, just allow it to cook until a good thick broth forms & the meat is fork tender.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sweet Potato Pita - Gluten Free

I woke up this morning with energy to burn... that is a rare event when you have a toddler. So, I decided to make good use of it and bake up something in the bread department that might be used for school lunches, and dinner tonight. Like always, I turned to my fellow bloggers for inspiration. This day I happened upon a gal all the way from the UK. ... she had several wondeful recipes for pita's that really struck me. First off, let me say to those of you that are new to the gluten free world. It's not unusual for most of your baked items to be more "white flour-ish" less "whole grain-ish" than I prefer. I am going for the baked items to be a healthy alternative to the whole wheat we can no longer eat. So, when I saw this recipe.. all those different whole grains & the sweet potato really jumped out at me. The one problem... converting the ounces by weight into standard cup measurements.. basically something I wouldn't need a scale to make. Luckily I had one of those scales that I use for soap making.. so I got busy.. I think that they turned out to be fantastic. The sweet potato really adds to the subtle sweetness of the pita, and luckily all of mine popped up in the oven just like normal pitas would . We have already begun feasting on them, as they made a great "home from school snack" stuffed with almond butter & bananas. As for tonight, they are going to be stuffed with Ginger Lime Chicken Salad. Thanks go out to http://www.milkforthemorningcake.blogspot.com/ for her creativity.

Sweet Potato Pitas

1 1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup teff flour (she listed millet, but I substituted)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast (possibly more for a bigger rise next time)
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1 organic egg
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup roasted sweet potato, skin removed

Mix dry ingredients first, then add in the wet. Leave for 5 minutes in the bowl while you ready the area for rolling out the dough. I used saran wrap & a little rice flour to coat each "egg sized" ball before rolling it out into an oval shape about the size of my hand. I left on the silpat lined baking sheets for about 30 minutes, as I prepared the rest. Preheated the oven to 390 degrees, and sprayed them down with a spritz of water & a sprinkle of seeds before popping them into the oven for 10 minutes. I rotated the pans about half way through. Removed from oven, cooled, sliced & used a knife to pry them open in the places where the bubbles didn't form.

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