Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cornmeal Pancakes

I made these pancakes for dinner the other night, yes dinner. Who doesn't like a little breakfast all day long? Well, I for one don't mind. This breakfast favorite with an egg kale scramble has enough protein, nutrients and freshness to love for any meal. The thing I loved about this pancake recipe was the cornmeal. They are hearty bites of goodness are fulfilling more to just the sweet tooth kind of person. In fact, these pancakes are not really about the sweetness, as much as they are about hearty whole grains. I also have to confess, that I have been dreaming up this recipe for a few weeks now. Literally, dreaming about biting into this tasty treats. I know, I am a little obsessed about food. Lately though, I have an excuse... at least I have been blaming it on that. I am pregnant. Yes, that's right. Very pregnant with my first baby. This whole journey has been a very interesting experience being a gluten-free and health freak. And maybe it has gone un-noticed, but my posts and recipes have been a little less in the past months for my lack of desire to cook in the first few weeks. Lately, I have just been HUNGRY. So, we'll see where this goes for cooking and creating recipes. Hopefully, it doesn't get too scary... and I promise I won't make any weird pickle coconut ice cream or something....well, here's for hoping at least!
Now to the recipe you will want to remember...

Cornmeal Pancakes Recipe
1/2 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup of sorghum flour
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/2 ts of xanthan gum
2 ts. of baking powder
1/4 ts of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
3 TB of sucanat
3 TB of light olive oil
1 cup of almond or other non-dairy milk (or water will work too)
2 large farm fresh eggs

I just want to say here that if you have an allergy to corn or you are trying to avoid corn, then you can sub the corn meal for millet flour, and the corn starch for potato starch... that is if you are looking for good subs. I use organic corn products to avoid genetic modification and to keep things more pure and real. I really loved these pancakes just the way I made them above because they were perfect in every way!

Mix all the the pancake recipe ingredients together in a mixing bowl and let sit for a few minutes to let things mix and start to bubble. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel griddle with a light olive oil and make sure to have the pan warm but not burning hot when you dump the batter in. I used a 1/4 cup to pour the amount of batter into the pan. I was able to do 3-4 pancakes in a pan and this recipe makes about 12-15 pancakes. Double the recipe if you are thinking of making more or having left overs :) I topped my pancakes with some fresh strawberries, lemon juice and agave nectar. But pure maple syrup or raw honey are other good options for a touch of sweetness. Or, add some cinnamon or nutmeg to the mix if you are looking to spice things up a bit. Other favorite toppings for pancakes are blueberry sauce, strawberries sauce or homemade applesauce.
I made a farm fresh egg, kale, and potato scramble as a side and to add protein and nutrients to the meal. (I roasted the potatoes first, about 1 cup cut, then added 1 cup of chopped kale, and then 4 eggs whipped with a touch of water....I just let them all cook under medium heat and whipped up an easy scramble...adding fresh herbs and italian seasoning for flavor). I used a cast iron skillet that I recently invested in and can I just for a minute brag about how much I love the skillet. It made the perfect scramble, and I really felt like I was getting so much more out of the dish. More color, flavor and nutrients, and hopefully vitamins. I switched to the cast iron to try and gain more minerals and iron into my food. Apparently, when you cook something containing iron with something acidic you get more iron in your food as well. So spinach with lemon, or beans with some vinegar or tomatoes... those are just some of the tips I have heard thus far. I am excited to see where this skillet takes me. My new favorite cooking toy!
I hope you give these pancakes a try. I really was oooing and aahhhing the whole plate-ful and if you don't believe me, you can ask my husband! And remember, pancakes at any meal can be delicious and wonderful in a Mary Poppins kind of way!

Much love to you today! Hope you feel loved and nourished.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crock Pot Slow Roasted Shredded Chicken Tacos

A good dinner recipe doesn't mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen. Just maybe like 10-15 minutes. Take that Rachel Ray. Well, I like Rachel Ray, so, I guess forgive me for showing off. I'm really just sharing a favorite, but easy, recipe that has made it's way into my home. I have been making BBQ venison (or beef) for years this way, but then why not chicken? And why not for a fresh and juicy taco? All those delicious fresh ingredients that are naturally gluten-free. You don't even really need a corn tortilla, you could just pile these ingredients on a plate and eat up. It's a great way to start the weekend, that's for sure. Or this is one of those recipes that is easy to share with a large group of friends that is gathering. Every guest could bring a topping and viola, dinner for a group made easy! I enjoy eating meals with people. It is something scared and set apart from the every day busy life. It's a celebration whether you are celebrating something significant or not.
The things is, if you eat gluten-free, then eating with friends or at parties can be a little intimidating. I suggest that if you are not the host, to talk with the host to find out more about the menu, or ask to contribute a dish or side that you know you can eat. This means you could bring the salad, or the dessert, or something you can guarantee is gluten-free. I bring this up with this recipe because this is a meal recipe that most people will love but will forget it is gluten-free naturally. So, if possible suggest you bring the main dish. Prepare this dish in the crock pot and have all your friends provide the toppings, and in no real effort you have a great dinner party ahead of you. There is less stress for you, which is not good for your digestion either. Maybe a stress-free meal with friends is just what you need to help aid in the healing of your gut. Sometime love, laughter and friends is just the medicine you need to aid in the healing journey!
And with all the fresh toppings to add to this great meal, you will find yourself loving this most any time of the year, but especially when you can make fresh garden salsa from the backyard.

Crock Pot Slow Roasted Chicken Taco Recipe: Serving 12-15 people.
1.5 pounds of raw chicken boneless breast meat (organic or local is best)
1.5 pounds of raw chicken boneless thigh meat (organic or local is best)
28 ounces of canned diced tomatoes
2 small yellow onions
2 TB of chili powder (or 1 ts of ground garlic, oregano, chili, and cumin)
1 ts of cumin
1 ts. of coriander
1/2 cup of water
1/2 of lime or lemon freshly squeezed for juice or 2 TB of juice
optional: 1 small Anaheim pepper (peal out all of the seeds if you are trying to keep the spiciness down).

Put all of the raw chicken in the crock pot. Slice the onions into large rings and throw them into the pot. Then blend the canned diced tomatoes in a blender to liquify, and/or a few tomato chunks are fine too. Pour the tomato mixture into the pot, then pour the 1/2 cup of water in. Pour all of the spices in and the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Then if you want to add some kick add one pepper sliced in half for cooking. But don't slice it up, keep it close to whole so that you can pull it out after cooking. Then stir with a wooden spoon to distribute the spices over the chicken. Add a dash of sea salt and cracked pepper and then put the lid on. Cook on a 8-10 hour lower heat. Cook for 8 hours in the pot and then open the lid and see if the chicken is pull-apart-able. Take 2 forks and pull the chicken into shreds and then mix with the juices and sauces. Let in sit in the juice on a warm heat until you are ready to serve. Then to the toppings...

Use corn tortilla if you want to make tacos, and just pile on a plate if you want to eat with a fork or with corn tortilla chips.

Some other great base ingredients:
brown rice (soaked and cooked)
black beans (soaked and cooked)
sauteed peppers, onions, and other veggies

Preferred Toppings:
fresh chopped cilantro
avocado chunks
fresh salsa
tomato pieces
fresh chopped lettuce
goat cheddar cheese, or other farm cheese
strained Greek plain yogurt (or sour cream)
Now it's time to put it all together and take a bite. Is your mouth watering yet? It should be! Yes, you have to wait hours to make your taco, but when it is done, you will have enough to serve your whole family or a bunch or friends, Or, if cooking for one or two, it is an easy dish to eat once and have for leftover or put half into the freezer for a later date. A great, easy gluten-free meal. Love it!

I hope you enjoy, and have a great week. Much love to you!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Cake

I recently found some organic strawberries from California at the local grocery store. I was excited. I really love this adorable berry. So, I bought a quart sized container, and then a few days later I drove back to the store for another. It will be a few months before strawberries show their beauty here in Michigan, so I figured I better try my share of California strawberries in the meantime :)

At heart, I am a simple girl. Little things make me happy like peaceful sunrises, bouquets of freshly forged wild flowers, and bright colors. I don't need the latest and greatest pieces of technology, and most would laugh if they saw my ancient phone that it's only app is to dial numbers and call people. Being at the brink of the culture is not that important to me, it's the little things that really bring me joy. Like special moments with those I love. My husband's great grandmother's hand-me down 1920's golden flower coated love seat. Or my stack of outdated food magazines that I turn through time and again for inspiration. Really, simple joys in life are so much more special than the stress of the modern world. So it's no surprise that fresh foods bring me pure happiness in life of fake processed muck. freshness like strawberries. Especially after weeks of cold, frost-bitten life. So, I celebrate a little luscious red berry in my kitchen with a breakfast cake treat. It's a good day. Thank God for fresh food!
Strawberry Oat Breakfast Cake Recipe
1/2 cup of flax meal ( or grind whole flax seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor)
1/2 cup of sweet white rice flour
1 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
1 ts. of ground ginger

3 ripened smashed bananas
2 farm fresh eggs
1 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup of coconut oil, or light baking olive oil
1/4 cup of raw honey, or raw agave nectar

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then add in the mashed bananas. And then all of the wet ingredients. Mix well together until your cake batter is fully mixed and ready for pouring into a 8x8 or 9x9 pie circle pan, or square pan works too. Make sure to grease the pans with a little coconut oil before pouring. After you pour, pat down the batter and sprinkle a little cane sugar or sucanat and then about 1 cup or so of fresh strawberry slices. You can add as many slices of strawberry as you want. Or it's your preference on how large the slices you desire. I used about 1 cup of slices strawberries. Then bake, at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until there is no gooey middle in the cake. Slice the cake arm and serve with your morning coffee or tea and it will almost be like you didn't miss a beat with your morning bowl of oatmeal, instead you are enjoying in a slice, and a side of strawberries. Enjoy!

Some other things I have been enjoying my strawberries include...strawberry milkshakes, strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, and fresh strawberries slices over my spinach salad. HMmm.

Much love to you friends! Hope you enjoy the simple things in life today, like fresh berries.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fabulous Five Bean Soup

Friends, I must tell you that it is beautiful here in West Michigan. The trees are in full bloom, and the grass is green. The neon buds are glowing and I really don't even mind a little rain here and there. Today the forecast is sunny and 80 degrees! Fabulous, right?! Well, yeah! Until, the sneezing, dipping and sinus pressure kicks in and you realize that all this spring beauty comes with a little price called "seasonal-allergies." It seems like it is worth it to have spring again... the sun, the promise of summer and the fresh farmer's market. But in the midst of allergy flair-ups it hard to find the promise. So, what are some of the tricks to help out with the spring allergy season flair ups...let me share some of my favorites...

First of all, allergens are allergens. So, this time of year it may be helpful to reduce the digested allergens like dairy, peanuts, gluten (duh), soy, sugar. You will notice that if you have allergies and if you eat more of the allergen foods you may have more symptoms or issues. It's true that when you have a high count of allergens in your body you will have more of a negative reaction to the environmental allergens. Does this make sense? So, the basics are to try and stay away from sugar, dairy, and gluten and you may have a better chance of getting through the pollen season. Hey, it's worth a try if you are miserable, right?!

Another helpful supplement is adding herbal teas to sooth the symptoms. Some of the best this time of year is nettle root, or nettle leaves. Also, dandelion root or leaves are powerful agents of cleansing and re-booting the liver to help keep your immunities high. They have so many benefits for allergies, hay fever, eczema, coughs and asthma. Plus intestinal issues. So many benefits, and really wouldn't hurt to try and see how it may relieve your symptoms without medications. Dandelion tea I posted about before as being a cleanings herb to help with the liver this time of year and it does that and also helps prepare the lungs and heart for warmer weather. If you are interested in more info on these teas look into Also, look for these teas loose at your local health food store. You can brew the leaves in a tea sack, or french press pot. Try it out!

So, why a bean soup for spring? Well, let me explain myself...

Beans are a great addition to any diet really, any time of the year, and in any climate. They are full of vitamins, minerals, iron, protein, and fiber. Really you can't go wrong with beans unless you have serious digestive issues and the beans may cause more unrest. My suggestion to helping beans digest better is to soak dry beans for 8-12 hours in seaweed, or apple cider vinegar to help break them down and make them more digestible. Do this before cooking and then rinse, and then you can also cook the beans in more clean water and more seaweed. The seaweed has salt and minerals that help break the beans down. Also, I am also a fan of adding beans quickly to a meal with using canned beans. make sure you buy the best quality though. Ones that have been soaked and canned with minerals, and organic is always best. I used canned beans in this recipe, which helps in saving time in a last minute need for a nourishing meal.

So, to have a soup that will sooth scratchy throats, itchy eyes and sinus pressure with vegetables and beans you cannot go wrong. And like I said before, avoiding diary, sugar and gluten may really help relieve some symptoms as well so this kind of dish helps you accomplish that as well. So here is the recipe...

Fabulous Five Bean Soup Recipe
1 cup of diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup of sliced carrots
4 minced cloves of garlic
2 TB of olive oil
4 cups of vegetable broth
8 cups of pure water
1 cup of chopped kale
1 TB of ground cumin
1 TB of chili powder
1 ts. of ground coriander
1 ts. of dried rosemary
1 14 ounce can of each kind of bean: adzuki, great northern, kidney, and pinto
1 cup of red lentils
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots in the olive oil in a large pot. Saute for 5 minutes or so until the veggies are softer. Then pour in 4 cups of veggie broth and 8 cups of pure water. Let the liquid get hot and pour in the rest of the ingredients except the fresh parsley. Let the soup cook at a higher heat for 30 minutes or so, and then you can turn to medium to lower heat to simmer and add in the parsley. You can simmer this soup as long as you like. Serve with fresh herbs or gluten-free bread. This recipe makes a lot, so you may want to make to share with friends or bring some to a neighbor. Or it could be put in freezer proof containers and saved for a later date. Just make sure you enjoy a bowl first, and let the good nutrition make you feel loved, strong and good.

Much love to you today! Enjoy spring for all it's new life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet and Sour Peanut Stir-fry Rice Noodles

This easy dinner is in celebration for the spring weather and pulling out the grill again. I love it when we can use the grill. Some people may say it's not the healthiest, but seriously haven't people been cooking over an open flame for thousands of years. So, why not have some grilled chicken? Or you could easily make this recipe without grilled chicken and have a vegan meal with lots of stir-fry veggies and rice noodles. So, it can be versatile if need be. My husband said to me the next day when he was packing some for a leftovers lunch, "That this might be the best made-up dinner you've created yet!" I didn't really believe him because how could this be better than spring time pesto pasta or squash pasta sauce, really? Maybe it was because I haven't cooked anything that special as of late, so maybe he was just happy to have a nice meal. Or maybe it was the sunshine coming back into our lives.
You know, the sun does strange things to people. It was 83 degrees here on April 1, and everyone thought it was a joke. Seriously, what is happening?! It's true though, it is spring, and the trees are growing their neon green buds and it has also rained on and off for the last few days. Daffodils and crocuses have bloomed and the next thing on my mind is... what about my garden? I am going to plant a full garden this year in my new space behind my home. This is a big deal compared to my apartment deck pot garden of years past. It will be a new adventure that I am looking forward to. It's hard work though, clearing space and making time to learn up on some good techniques and ideas. Unfortunately you can't just throw seeds in the ground and hope for a bountiful crop. You have to plan, toil, and then you can reap the benefits. So, my friends, we will see how this year goes. I am still going to wait a few weeks here in Grand Rapids, because there is rumor for more snow later this weekend. You just never know here. The best time is end of April or even mid May some say to make sure the plants survive any last frost days. So as I am busy preparing, this is an easy dinner to whip up with some tangy flavors and freshness in each bite!

First, if you want to prepare some grilled chicken to go along with the noodles:

Marinate some chicken in wheat-free Tamari based sauce ( I used the San-J Thai peanut sauce, which I like a lot ) or you could even marinate the chicken in the sauce below used on the noodles, but just make sure to whip up on a bowl before stirring over the raw chicken. Marinate overnight, or just for 15-30 minutes. Grill on an outdoor grill if possible, or use a nifty indoor grill pan on the stove top. Both will result in flavor-full chicken.

Sweet and Sour Peanut Stir-Fry Noodles
2 TB of olive oil or sesame or peanut oil
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 cup of diced carrots circles or matchsticks
1 cup of diced red pepper
1 1/2 cup of diced broccoli florets

1/4 cup of wheat free low sodium tamari sauce
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
3 TB of creamy natural peanut butter (organic is always best)
1 ts. of ground ginger powder
1/2 ts. of cayenne pepper powder (or flakes could work too)
1 TB of agave nectar (honey is another alternative)

In a large wok or frying pan, saute the veggies in the garlic and oil for a few minutes to soften up the veggies. Then after a few minutes of letting the veggies cook down, add in the rest of the sauce ingredients. This will start to cook and thicken with the peanut butter and create a tangy sweet and sour sauce to toss with the noodles. Which in the meantime, while sauteing, start to boil a large pot of water, and then drop the large cut oriental style rice noodles in the pot. Use as many noodles or as little as you want. I think I used about 2/3 of the package, so probably around 8 or 9 ounses. It will take about 5-7 minutes for them to soften in the boiling water. make sure to stir a few times to make sure there is no sticking happening...

1- 12 ounce package of oriental rice noodles (vermicelli noodles) *You can find these for a very decent price at most local Asian market stores. These noodles are most used in traditional Thai cooking and make sure to check to see if the ingredients are just rice, water and possibly corn starch or rice starch. It should be those few simple ingredients and nothing more.

Turn the veggies and sauce down to a simmer and then when the noodles are just a touch away from being done, strain them from the water and add them to the sauce and veggies. Then use a large tong to toss the noodles int he sauce to get completely covered in the sauce and let the veggies spread themselves out throughout the dish.

Now, it is ready to serve! Serve the grilled chicken over the noodles if you wish. Or without if you are vegan. And some good fresh toppings include: fresh cilantro, green onions, crushed peanuts, or bean sprouts. Enjoy also with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Viola! A sweet and tangy dinner to satisfy all your taste bud's needs. I hope you enjoy! Much love to you!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sweet Peach Scones (vegan)

Are you looking for a perfectly sweet and fruity breakfast treat? Well if you are reading this here you might be interested in making something gluten-free, refined-sugar free, and possibly vegan. This recipe has it all! When I make scones I don't necessarily need a special occasion, although it is nice to have one to share and enjoy. In this case, considering Easter Sunday is tomorrow and you may be looking for a special brunch treat to share with your friends and family. I would suggest peaches. It's by no means a spring season fruit, but I did still have some frozen from last summer that were more than ready to be used. Not to mention that this recipe is just as easy as brewing a pot of french press coffee. So, my friends, try it. It's easy, delicious and it will be like you morphed into a professional baker overnight.

Sweet Peach Scones Recipe
1 cup of millet flour
1 cup of sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup of sweet rice flour
1/2 cup of potato starch
1 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of xanthan gum
2/3 cup of peach butter (apple butter could work too, but I was trying to stick with the peachy theme here (sugar-free is possible, sweetened only by fruit)
1/3 cup of sucanat (or agave nectar)
4 TB of organic palm oil shortening
1 cup of fresh or frozen diced peach pieces

Mix all of the dry ingredients first in a large mixing bowl. Mix well and then fold in the peach butter and palm oil shortening with a spatula or fork. Make sure you do no over mix the batter. It should be a little sticky, but a firm biscuit like batter. Then add the frozen chunks of peaches. You could use fresh peaches as well if that is easier. But frozen works just fine...just make sure you do not let the peaches get defrosted while sitting out because it will add more water to the process before baking. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Or until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy on the outside and moist in the middle.
Pull those babies from the oven, and let them cool 10 minutes before moving. Then enjoy warm from the oven with your choice of beverage, or you can let these cool for a while and they still are a great treat at anytime of the day. Hopefully you find a way to share and enjoy with others, but if you want to freeze them individually in wrap or a freeze proof container they would be a great defrosted treat on the go.

It's that easy. Don't let eating healthy and sticking to your special diet be depressing. Make something special like this treat and let yourself enjoy. I hope you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter and enjoy these next few weeks where spring is showing its new and beautiful face!

Much love to you!