Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe: Grain-free granola

It’s no secret that I have difficulty planning meals for myself. Feeding myself has always been more of an afterthought, but with the pregnancy “afterthought” is no longer an option.

I really struggled during the first trimester just trying to find food that I wanted to eat for more than 2 minutes at a time. While the second trimester has been easier, I still don’t know how long I’m going to want a particular food. Breakfast has proven to be especially difficult to plan for. I really would like a simple bowl of cereal, but that’s not a possibility, so after a month or two of eating breakfast muffins I decided I needed a change.

Right after Andy and I switched over to grain-free eating, I found a recipe for granola that used nuts and seeds as the base rather than oatmeal. While I couldn’t remember where I had found the original recipe, I had a pretty good idea I could figure it out on my own. And let me tell you this granola hits the spot! Most mornings I eat a little bit over some plain Greek yogurt with sliced banana, but if I’m feeling even lazier, I’ll just pour a small bowl and eat it with some kind of milk (usually almond or cow).

Granola is super forgiving (as long as you don’t burn it!). If you don’t like walnuts, swap in some extra almonds or cashews. Prefer ginger and nutmeg to cinnamon? Go for it! This recipe isn’t super sweet, so you can always add more sugar if you want, but I think it’s perfect just as it is.

One last thing–because this granola base is all nuts and seeds it will fill you up faster than you realize. Start with a small amount and go back for seconds if you need it.

Ingredients:
– 4 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I usually go for a combo of almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pepitas, but feel free to use your favorites)
– 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
– 2 Tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil*
– 3 teaspoons sugar**
– Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger to taste (I usually go for a Tablespoon of cinnamon and a quick grate of nutmeg)
– Pinch of salt
– 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl combine nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes. Add butter, sugar, spices, and salt. Stir till everything is combined and evenly coated.

Shake granola onto a cookie sheet making sure to spread everything out.

Bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola in the pan, then bake until golden brown (usually another 10-15 minutes). Watch the granola carefully as it goes from golden to burned very quickly!

Allow granola to cool to room temperature then add cranberries. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe notes:
* If I’m feeling really decadent, I’ll add a small amount of cocoa butter as I’m melting my butter. It adds a little hint of “What is that amazing flavor???” to the granola without making it too chocolatey.
** Any kind of sugar will do here–white, brown, coconut, maple syrup, honey. Go with whatever you have. Lately I’ve used either maple syrup or coconut sugar.

Recipe: Chicken, mushroom, zucchini skillet (with bacon!)

This dinner came about through delicious happenstance. I was interested in making a sausage and veggie gratin, but that felt a little too heavy for the warm(ish) weather we’ve been having lately. I decided to lighten it up with chicken and zucchini. The bacon and mushrooms add amazing flavor, and the leftovers taste even better than right out of the oven.

Look at all that melty cheese!
Look at all that melty cheese!

1 Tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 small- to medium-sized zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2+ chicken thighs, cooked and chopped*
4-6 ounces bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
4 ounces cheese, grated (optional)**
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and saute the onions with a pinch of salt until translucent. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown and let off some of their water. Add zucchini and another small pinch of salt (small being key. The bacon is pretty salty on its own, and you don’t want to over do it!). Give it a good stir and let it cook until the zucchini starts to soften just a bit.

Stir the chicken and bacon into the veggies, taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with the cheese if you’re using it. Pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melty and just starting to brown. Serve with a side salad if you feel you want an extra serving of veggies!

Recipe notes:
* I find that 2 chicken thighs is perfect for me and Andy. The bacon and all the veggies make this a complete meal without a huge amount of meat. If you’re serving more people, increase the chicken thighs by 1 per extra person.
** I don’t specify which type of cheese, because really melty cheese is melty cheese. I’ve made this with a hard English cheddar and it was just as good as when I used pepper jack. Check your fridge and use what you have on hand.

Recipe: Cabbage skillet casserole

Growing up my family made up names for certain foods. On Thanksgiving and Christmas my youngest brother and I would fight over the “pink stuff” (to all you mid-westerners out there, I believe you call it Jello salad) a fluffy concoction of raspberry gelatin, Cool-Whip, canned pineapple, and cottage cheese. Totally gross. Totally delicious.

My brothers’ favorite meal was Yummy Boulet (rhymes with “Goulet”, as in Robert). To the best of my recollection Yummy Boulet consisted of ground beef, tomato sauce, and elbow macaroni. It wasn’t on my top 10 list, but the name stuck.

All this being said, I’ve carried on the tradition with my own cooking, and I want to share with you what Andy and I lovingly refer to as “cabbage meat thing”. It started out by trying a recipe for deconstructed cabbage roll casserole (for the life of me I can’t find the original recipe). Basically you chop and saute cabbage with traditional stuffed cabbage ingredients and bake it like a casserole. The second inspiration for this dish was the Garbage Stir fry from Nom Nom Paleo. At first glance neither the casserole nor the Garbage Stir fry seem like much, but they were so good! I found myself making them every other week or so.

This got me thinking, if Cabbage + Meat + Onion + Sauce was such a winning combination, maybe I could branch out into other flavors to shake things up. And that’s how cabbage meat thing was born. The flavor possibilities are limitless, it’s typically less than 5 ingredients (outside of the oil, salt, and pepper), and it can be made and baked in a single skillet. All of these add up to a winning weeknight meal for us.

Here are the basic components followed by some ideas for changing up the flavors. Enjoy!

1-2 Tablespoons oil
1 onion diced
1 pound ground meat (see below for recommendations)
1 medium head of green cabbage, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2-3 teaspoons seasoning (see below for recommendations)
1 -2 cups of crushed tomatoes or sauce of your choice (See below for recommendations)
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Heat the oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook till translucent. Add the meat with another pinch of salt and stir, breaking it apart, until brown and cooked through. Stir in your seasoning, and tomatoes or sauce if using.

In batches, add a handful or 2 of the chopped cabbage at a time, tossing everything carefully together. The cabbage will add a lot of “heft” to the dish initially, but it’ll cook down. Continue to add the cabbage and toss with the saucy meat until everything is incorporated.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cabbage starts to look a little “crispy”. I like a little char. You may not. If you prefer your cabbage to be silky not crispy, start checking it at the 15 minute mark.

Recipe notes: Here are a few of our favorite flavor combinations. Use these as a jumping off point, and share if you come up with something brilliant!

– Italian: 1 pound bulk Italian sausage + dried oregano + 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
– Mexican: 1 pound ground beef (or turkey) + cumin + 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
– BBQ chorizo: 1 pound chorizo + 1 cup BBQ sauce (I typically use homemade so it’s not overly sweet. If you use bottled, you may want to cut it with some crushed tomatoes.)
– Enchilada: 1 pound cooked shredded chicken (or ground beef/turkey) + cumin + 14 ounces enchilada sauce (bought or homemade).

 

 

Recipe: Chorizo (breakfast burrito) cauli-rice bowl

One of our favorite dinners is this chorizo rice bowl. I always get an air fist “alright” from Andy when I tell him that’s what we’re having for dinner. It’s easy, super spicy, can be dressed up or down, and has the perfect combination of protein and veggies.

When I started looking for weekend breakfast ideas, this is where my mind turned. The only real change I made to my original recipe was to top the bowl off with a few scrambled eggs. When I make this for dinner, I skip this step.

The chorizo I buy is super spicy. Like, clear out your sinuses for hours spicy. It’s right at the threshold of what I can handle. I’m a wimp, but it’s still hot. If you’re not into the idea of a spicy breakfast, swap the chorizo for a nice breakfast sausage and you’re good to go! One more note on chorizo–if you can, try to find a good natural source. The prepackaged stuff in the refrigerated section of your grocery store often has questionable “animal parts” ground up and that’s just icky. If you’re adventurous, you can also make your own.

For the rice:
1 cauliflower head
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound chorizo
Salt*
Pepper

Toppings:
Scrambled eggs (or fried, or poached …)
2 tomatoes chopped
1-2 avocados, sliced (or make guacamole, yum!)
Sour cream**
Shredded cheese**
Pickled jalapeños (our favorite!)
Salsa
Sriracha (Andy loves this, but it burns too much for my tastebuds)

Run the cauliflower through a food processor using the shredding blade, or grate it with a box grater. Set aside.

In a large skillet (I use my 10″ cast iron), heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions with a small pinch of salt and saute until onions start to get a little color. (I like a little char, I think it goes nicely with the spice.) Add the chorizo, stirring to break it apart, until browned and cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

Once the chorizo is cooked, carefully stir in the cauliflower so the chorizo is evenly distributed. My skillet has a hard time holding everything (and it’s a good-size skillet) so stir with care. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and the chorizo flavor is all soaked in. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. We’re really into pepper right now so we’ve been adding it to everything.

Top with your favorite “fixins” and enjoy for breakfast or dinner!

Recipe notes:
* I try to use a light hand with salt. Just a pinch to get the onions going and maybe a little more at the very end after I’ve tasted the dish. Depending on who makes the chorizo, the dish could be salty enough, and you don’t want to over do it.
** If you can’t do dairy, the sour cream and cheese aren’t necessary. We usually don’t use them, but it is an option and the sour cream especially helps cool the spice of the chorizo.

Recipe: Texy Mexy skillet

After Andy’s Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, we had to relearn how to eat. No longer could Friday nights involve 2 large pizzas (1 for each of us! Don’t judge. There were leftovers. Sometimes.), and we couldn’t pop into the 24 hour donut place down the street at midnight on Saturdays just because “we felt like it”.

At first we struggled. Veggies just didn’t hit the spot the way a blueberry cake donut did. But we adjusted out of necessity, and then out of actually wanting to adjust. We realized that as our lifestyle changes took effect, we felt better than we ever did before. Not to mention the weight loss and blood sugar numbers coming down.

I read a lot of food blogs and there’s a lot of food out there that Andy and I can’t eat. I’ve learned how to take the idea of a recipe and update it with ingredients that Andy and I love. This recipe–based on this recipe from The Kitchn–is a testament to how our eating habits have evolved. The original recipe includes rice, corn, and beans–a classic Tex Mex combination–all things that Andy and I avoid, or at least try to keep to a bare minimum. I knew that I could add extra peppers, onions, and swap the rice for cauil-rice and have a great meal. And indeed it is!

You’ll notice the lack of protein in this dish–Andy and I typically eat this with fried eggs and salsa on top.

1 head cauliflower
1-2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil (I use avocado)
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
1-2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained of as much juice as possible
4-6 ounces grated cheese (optional)
salt
pepper
sliced avocado
salsa

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Run the cauliflower through your food processor with the shredding blade attached. Alternatively, grate the cauliflower until it is the size of rice. Set aside.

In an oven-proof skillet saute the onions and both peppers with a healthy pinch of salt until onions are translucent. Add the spices, stir to combine, and let cook for a minute or two until everything smells “toasty”. Add the tomatoes and stir again.

Stir in the cauliflower with another large pinch of salt and a few grinds of the peppermill. Make sure all the onions and peppers are distributed and the cauliflower is fully coated with the spices. If you’re adding cheese stir it in now and pop the entire skillet into the oven for 20-25 minutes until brown and the cheese has melted thoroughly. I like ours with little charred bits of cauliflower on top. If you’re not of that persuasion, keep an eye on it around the 15 minute mark.

Serve with eggs (fried or scrambled), sliced avocado, and copious amounts of your favorite salsa or hot sauce.

If you’re curious about the name “Texy Mexy”, it’s an inside family joke. Ask me about it in person sometime and I’ll tell you.

Recipe: Grown up hot chocolate

There’s something very special about Fridays. Whether it’s the end of the school week, the work week, or both, I’ve always felt that Friday was worth celebrating. When I worked downtown, my Friday “lunch” would often be a Starbucks vanilla latte (iced when the weather was warm enough) and a slice of lemon pound cake. This combination would carry me happily through the remaining hours of the week until I got home and could fully embrace the weekend.

When Andy and I gave up wheat in the fall of 2012, my Friday treat would simply be a piping hot latte (I’d grown flavor-averse by this point). The coffee guy in my building knew how to foam milk and every latte would have an inch of foam floating on top. I have yet to find any coffee company that could replicate his skillz.

By the time my last job rolled around my Friday coffee ceased to be a treat so much as a necessity. Fridays were my heaviest deadline day and I would find myself in the office no later than 5:15 every Friday morning to hit a 10 o’clock deadline that couldn’t be missed. Thankfully, a local drive-through coffee joint opened at 5 o’clock and I could swing through and grab something on my way in.

Fast forward to now. My corporate job has fallen by the wayside–a victim of poor planning and international relations–and while I find myself at home during this season of rest I still feel that Fridays are worth celebrating. As much as I relied on coffee to get me through certain days at my last few jobs, coffee and I fight more than we get along. Sure, I love the initial rush of caffeine, but then comes the fall, the headache, the stomach ache, the jitters, the shakes, and the anxiety.

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I know. You’re wickedly jealous of my unicorn mug. It’s pretty sweet!

Enter brewable chocolate. A former coworker introduced me to the concept and after a little research I found it on Amazon. I prefer this brand/flavor, but play around. Chocolate has just as many flavor profiles as coffee. For me this hits the “treat spot” and makes me feel indulgent without weighing too heavily on my pocketbook or stomach.

Quick word of warning–this is not a sweet drink. If you’re looking for flashbacks to the Swiss Miss you enjoyed as a child, you will be disappointed. Also, I’ve found that if I have this later in the afternoon I occasionally have difficulty sleeping that night. Chocolate doesn’t have caffeine, but the theobromine may cause its own energy/sleep complications.

3-4 tablespoons brewable chocolate grounds
16 ounces boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean pod scraped*
2-3 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk**

Makes around 1 serving

Brew the chocolate per the instructions on the package. I make mine in a French Press: Add the grounds to the press, pour in 16 ounces of boiling water, let set for 12 minutes or so, press the plunger.

While the chocolate is brewing stir together the coconut milk and vanilla in your mug. I have a battery-operated milk frothing wand that does the job marvelously, but a fork or small whisk works, too. When the chocolate has been pressed, pour it into the mug with the coconut milk. Depending on how cold the coconut milk is, you may need to give it a good stir to fully combine. Again, my little wand is perfect for this. Enjoy the richness and toast a happy Friday!

Recipe notes:
* If you’re feeling adventurous a pinch of cinnamon is also delicious. As, I imagine, almond extract would be.
** In addition to coffee, I’m trying to cut back on dairy. If you don’t have any dairy issues, half-and-half totally works. Feeling even more indulgent? Lightly sweetened whipped cream would be heavenly.

Recipe: Dreamsicle green smoothie

Whenever I try to tidy up my eating habits my biggest concern is how my food tastes. I’ve mentioned that I’m a picky eater, and there’s nothing worse than knowing I can’t have some of my favorite treats all the while being stuck eating bland, blechy, blah food. If my taste buds are bored, I can promise you I will cheat.

When I first started the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) back in January I played around with smoothies for about a week before I came across the combination I’m sharing today. The 21DSD allows you either 1 green-tipped banana, 1 grapefruit, or 1 Granny Smith apple a day. For this smoothie I combined 2 halves of the allowed fruit to come up with a breakfast that is easy, filling, and oh so tasty.

Classic creamsicle flavors are orange and vanilla. I’m not a huge fan of orange (unless it’s an orange cranberry scone, in which case get out of my way!), and oranges aren’t allowed on 21DSD, so I thought grapefruit might be a nice substitute. The vanilla rounds out all the flavors and the two combined give a vague hint of something tropical. The avocado and coconut milk provide enough fat to sustain me until lunch, and the greens, flax, and maca are filled with fiber that keeps my digestion happy.

1/2 green-tipped banana
1/2 ripe avocado
1 large handful of spinach, kale, or other greens
1/2 grapefruit juiced
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean scraped
1 tablespoon flax
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
Water

Combine all ingredients except water in a blender* and process till smooth. Add water if the smoothie is too thick. I find that the banana, avocado, and coconut milk are thick enough without adding additional ice, but if I want the smoothie to be a little colder I throw 2-3 ice cubes in my glass as I’m drinking.

* I don’t actually have a fancy high-powered blender. I make all my smoothies with my Cuisinart immersion blender and it works just fine. Every now and then I’ll find something that didn’t get processed, but it’s never enough to really bother me.

Recipe: Andy’s chili

I (Liv) originally started making this chili for Andy 4 years ago for his lunch. One batch would typically last a week. After a few months, Andy took over making this and adjusted the spice level a little more to his taste. These days a batch of chili lasts about a month (he freezes each weekly portion and thaws it out each Friday for the following week). This combined with roasted cabbage and steamed broccoli gives him the perfect amount of fat, fiber, and protein to get him through his day.

Chili base:
1 TBL olive oil
2 onions, chopped (yellow or red–whatever you like)
20 oz lean, ground turkey

Spice blend:
4-5 TBL chile powder
3-4 TBL cumin
TBL red pepper flakes
TBL oregano
TBL chipotle powder*

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of (14.5 oz)black beans, rinsed
2 bell peppers, chopped (red, yellow, or green–whatever you like)
1 package of frozen stir fry veggies (onions and peppers)
2 cans water

Heat your pan or pot over medium-high. Add olive oil, pinch of salt, and onion. Cook onion until translucent. Add turkey and another pinch of salt.

Brown the turkey, then add all the spices to the meat. I like to combine all the spices in one cup and sprinkle them around so it distributes evenly.

After the meat is thoroughly coated with the seasoning, add the  tomatoes and 2 cans of water. Stir, then add the beans and chopped pepper. Stir again and allow to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring regularly so the bottom doesn’t scorch. You want as much water to cook off as possible without the chili becoming paste-like.

*This amount of chipotle makes for a very spicy chili–too spicy for Liv. If you have a more sensitive palate, you may want to scale back significantly.

Recipe: Grain-free crumble topping

A crumble topping is something I figured I’d never have again once Andy and I gave up wheat in September 2012. Crumble toppings require one main ingredient–flour (or breadcrumbs if you’re going the savory route), and flour was out entirely.

Imagine my joy (I may have squeaked–I do that when I get excited) when I realized I could make a grain-free crumble topping (sweet or savory) with just a few ingredients I already keep in my pantry.

I’ve provided two variations here–one sweet and one savory. I use this on everything from apple crumble to chicken divan. Feel free to trade up the spices in either version to suit your preference. I like the option of being flexible.

Base ingredients:
1/2 cup almond flour (I prefer Honeyville, but as this is a crumble topping something coarser will do)
2 TBL cold butter, cut into small pieces and stored in the refrigerator until just ready to use*

Sweet version:
1–2 tsp. cinnamon (or a combination of warm spices including ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom)
1–2 tsp. granulated sugar (I like brown or coconut palm)

Savory version:
1 tsp. garlic powder
a pinch of salt
a couple grinds of black pepper

Stir together the almond flour with either the sweet or savory ingredients. Add the butter and cut in with either a fork or your fingers until the mixture resembles small pieces of gravel. If you use your fingers, the butter may get a little melty. Don’t worry, you can pop it into the fridge to chill so the butter is nice and cold going into the oven.

Evenly sprinkle the mixture over your pie, coffeecake, or casserole. Pop into the oven and bake per your recipe’s instructions. (Almond flour can be a little sensitive when it comes to high cooking temps. Keep an eye on it– if it starts to look a little dark, just cover it with foil while the dish finishes cooking.)

* Don’t want to use butter? You can use melted coconut or olive oils, just use a fork to stir until the mixture gets a little clumpy. I find that coconut oil can be a little too sweet for savory dishes, but that’s just me. Coconut and I have a complicated relationship. If that’s all you have, go for it!

Recipe: Mexican green cauli-rice

One of the things that most definitely had to change after Andy’s Diabetes diagnosis was how we ate. It took some time, but we’ve been able to create a completely new way of eating that is healthy and delicious.

One of our favorite side dishes is cauli-rice. It’s a fantastic substitute for standard white rice, and is endlessly customizable. Add cumin, turmeric, coriander, and a dash of cinnamon for a Middle Eastern flair. Scallions and a bunch of summery herbs (parsley, basil, maybe some dill) will give you the perfect partner for some grilled chicken or fish. But the one I make most often is a little south of the border. This is a great accompaniment for carnitas, grilled chicken cauli-rice bowls, or any of your favorite Mexican dishes. Enjoy!

1 (or 2 or more) poblano peppers, tops and seeds removed, cut into large chunks*
3 scallions, whites and light green tops roughly chopped
1 handful of Italian parsley, rinsed
1 handful of cilantro, rinsed**
1 TBL cumin seeds***
a pinch of salt
1 head of cauliflower
1–2 TBL olive or avocado oil

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, pulse together the poblanos, scallions, parsley, cilantro, cumin seeds, and a pinch of salt until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine almost like a pesto without the oil.

Remove the blade of the food processor and replace with the shredder blade. Cut cauliflower into pieces and process through the shredder blade. (You’ll have a layer of green herbs and flavorings at the bottom with the snowy white cauliflower on top.)

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high. I usually make this in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. The shallow sides make it a little messy, but that’s just how I roll.  It works just as well in my 10-inch aluminum saute pan with higher sides.

When the oil is hot, dump the cauliflower and herb mixture into the pan and let it sizzle. Add another healthy pinch of salt and start stirring gently to incorporate the herbs throughout the cauliflower. This is where things turn really green. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed–it will most likely need more salt. Possibly some extra cumin.

Continue to cook until the cauli-rice is done to your preference. Cauliflower lets off a fair amount of liquid and kind of steams itself. I like ours with a tiny bit of bite–nobody likes mushy rice. Just before serving, fluff with a fork to separate the cauliflower pieces a little.

Recipe notes:
* Like your rice a little more spicy? Replace one or all of the poblanos with the hot chile pepper of your choice.
** Cilantro isn’t a necessity here. A lot of people really can’t stand it. (Even Andy’s not a huge fan, but I sneak it in…) If you choose to omit it, add a little more scallions and parsley and maybe a pinch more cumin.
*** You may want more or less cumin. Adjust to your own taste. I prefer the cumin seeds because they keep the rice really green. If you don’t have them, ground cumin works just as well.