Friday, September 30, 2011

Morning Mango Muffins

Confession: I am a terrible breakfast eater.

Yes, I know. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I try, I really do. But I'm just not hungry in the morning. Needless to say, my blood sugar the rest of my day is pretty screwy. So I'm trying to be better.

My first step is to always have something in the house I know I will eat. Unfortunately, it's harder than it sounds. I don't eat cereal and I have texture and dairy issues with yogurt. I can't eat too much fruit as it spikes my blood pressure too high. I've been trying to make things I can eat...muffins, breakfast bars, power bars, etc.

This means you'll be seeing a lot a breakfast posts on here. All healthier versions than what you can buy anywhere; most of them grain-free, egg-free, vegan and dairy free.

This recipe is based on a gluten-filled recipe I found at Alisa Cooks. I'm a huge fan of her website because she cooks dairy-free.

Now, these muffins are full of good fiber and natural sweeteners. They are dairy free with a vegan option and they can be modified to include whatever fruit puree you like!

Morning Mango Muffins
Modified from Marvelous Honey Mango Muffins at Alisa Cooks

1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp basking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mango puree
1/2 cup agave plus 1 tablespoon (set aside for later)
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied
2 eggs - either large organic or chia/flax for vegan
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mango, diced

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

If using chia eggs, combine ground chia/flax with warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, combine together almond flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl combine fruit puree, agave, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in two parts. Stir together just so dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in diced mango.

Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes for regular, 40-45 for jumbo. Muffins will be browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the tablespoon of agave over the tops of the hot muffins. Let them cool for 15 minutes in the pan and them remove muffins to finish cooling completely.

Store in an air tight container, freeze if necessary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins

There are so many things about these muffins that I love! The Greek yogurt makes them moist, dense...almost like the real thing. The spices make them lovely and warm . The smell that permeates the air of the kitchen is intoxicating.

Now, they don't have any molasses, so they aren't exactly like gingerbread, but the spices are lovely and delicious and makes it super close.

I have to say, these are the closest to gluten-filled muffins I've ever made!! Even though they are full of Fall, I may just have to start making them year-round.

Gingerbread Muffins

1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 almond milk (any dairy free will do)
2 eggs **see note for egg free
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 cup agave

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flours, salt and spices. Sift together to evenly combine. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until light in color. Add in almond milk, yogurt, vanilla, coconut oil and agave. Combine until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Don't over-mix.

Fill muffin tins to 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffins and 25-30 minutes for jumbo. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan to finish cooling. Leaving gluten-free baked goods in the pan to cool can make the bottoms mushy.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. Wrap individually and then freeze in airtight container.

For egg-free, you can use either flax eggs or chia eggs. Just add an additional 1/8 tsp baking powder PER EGG!
Chia egg: For one egg, mix 1 tsp ground chia with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes.
Flax egg: For one egg, mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I love Fall. I'm fairly certain I could start every post for the next few months that way. I don't think there is one specific thing that makes Fall my favorite. I love the smells, the changing temperature, the changing leaves and the food....the warmth and depth that cinnamon and ginger give to soup, muffins, etc.

We went to our local farmer's market last weekend and it was full of Fall. Pumpkins, squash, rich maple syrup flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and apples. I was in heaven. As we wandered through the stalls, my mind raced with thoughts of soups, muffins and breads. There were so many options, but I knew that I couldn't take it all home. My kitchen is pretty little :)

As we wandered toward the end, my eye was caught by this beautiful butternut squash. Now, I've never really been a squash fan. I like zucchini, but the thanks. But this squash looked beautiful. Maybe I should broaden my horizons and try it. But how? I'd never cooked it before. I knew I didn't want it plain. They only thing I could think of was soup. The temperature has dropped into the 50's quite regularly. Soup would be perfect.

This was totally new for me; something I've never tried before. And I have to was SO good!!!!! Its a little more sweet than savory, but its thick, creamy and extremely filling.

Now, the squash we bought was huge! I only roasted half of it and that was about 4 pounds. This soup is very easy to cut in half, or double, depending on the size of your squash. It would also be pretty easy to make it savory rather than sweet...just change up your spices a bit. Use some thyme, sage, ginger, maybe curry powder or a little cayenne pepper. Modify until your heart's content! :)

An item of note: I don't tend to measure my spices when I cook. These measurements are approximate. When you're cooking, always start with less and add until it tastes the way you want it to.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

4 pounds squash
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small apples, chopped
1 cup coconut milk (can use half and half)
5 cups homemade chicken broth (can use veggie broth for vegan soup)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 scant tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (sea salt is different than table salt..its less salty)
1/4 cup agave (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Using a fork, poke the skin side of the squash 6-12 times. Drizzle the cut side with a little olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired. Roast until squash is soft to the touch. A fork should easily pierce through the flesh. You want it super soft. It will take around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your squash. Remove from the oven and cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot over med to med-hi heat, depending on your stove. Add carrots and celery; saute for 7-8 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Continue to saute until all the veggies become very soft, adding the apples last. The carrots will take the longest to cook. Don't add the onion and garlic too soon or they will burn.

Scrape the flesh out of the squash skin. I actually found it easier to turn the squash flesh side down and peel the skin away instead of trying to scoop the flesh out.

Add veggies and squash to the food processor. (Due to the quantity, I ended up doing this in two batches.) Add about 3 cups of broth. Puree everything until smooth. You may need more broth in order for everything to move well in your food processor.

Before you return the mixture to the soup pot, make sure that you wipe out any remaining veggie bits that didn't make it to the food processor. You don't want those little bits in your soup.

Return the soup to the pot. Add coconut milk and additional broth until you achieve desired consistency. I used 1 cup coconut milk and 5 cups broth. Our soup was still plenty thick and creamy. Add spices and salt. Stir to combine. Simmer until warmed all the way through.

If your food processor didn't puree everything the way you wanted, you can always use an immersion blender in the soup pot to break down any additional chunks.

Serve with creme frachie or sour cream.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Asian Style Turkey Burgers

I've never really been a big red meat fan, but I LOVE cheeseburgers. I used to know when my body was lacking in protein based on my burger cravings. That is definitely one thing I truly missed since going gluten-free. Yes, I know I can wrap them in lettuce, but it just isn't the same. That is, until recently.

We've replaced most of our red meat consumption with ground turkey and chicken. (The Hubby still enjoys a good steak every now and then.) Unfortunately, both can get really dry due to the minimal fat content in the meat. Often times, it leads to an unappetizing burger and generally, a disappointing experience.

Last week started with a burger craving, which I knew meant I was in need of some additional protein in my diet. I decided I was going to make decent turkey burger to quench the craving. The key was adding some water to the mix. Yes, it made the meat mixture very wet and sloppy. It almost wouldn't mold into burgers. I just kind of had to form it as best I could. However, they cooked very well and held together perfectly.

SUCCESS!! They were moist, juicy and overall wonderfully flavored. We love Asian food, so these fit in very well with our pallets. If you don't like spice, you can leave out or reduce the sambal oelek (spicy chili paste). Remember, you do have to cook turkey all the way medium-rare burgers here. BUT....don't over cook them! The water will leak out and they will be come dry and flavorless.

We served ours with lettuce buns (and they weren't lacking, I promise), avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper, tomato, and cheese. I topped mine with sambal oelek mixed with some Miracle Whip. Hubby topped his with some homemade Thai peanut sauce.

Asian-Style Turkey Burgers

1 small/medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey (I used 93/7)
1 can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and diced
1-inch ginger, grated
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sambal oelek* (or to taste depending on your heat preference. I'll probably add more next time as this wasn't very spicy)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute onions until the soften and begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and saute until both are soft and golden in color. Remove from the stove a cool just a bit.

In a bowl, combine onions, garlic, turkey, water chestnuts, ginger, soy sauce, sambal oelek and cilantro. Add water slowly, combining everything with your hands. Depending on your altitude and the humidity, you may need more or less than 1/2 cup. You want a wet mixture, but on that will still stay together. This DOES NOT form together the same way ground beef does. That's ok. They will cook up just fine. Form into 4-5 patties, depending on how big you like your burgers. Grill about 5 minutes per side, but watch them carefully so they don't become over-done and dry.

Enjoy with your favorite burger toppings or favorite Asian toppings.

I buy the majority of my Asian ingredients at our local Asian market. I find they are much cheaper than the regular grocery store.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You'll Never Believe These Are Good For You

A couple weeks ago, I went home for a friend's wedding. While hanging out at my parent's house, I decided I wanted some muffins to eat for breakfast. I had seen a recipe on the Food Network for some muffins made with carrots and zucchini. Lately, I've been trying to incorporate more veggies into each meal and these muffins peeked my interest.

Now, when I made these back home the first time, I wasn't sure what to expect; but let me tell you...the taste surpassed anything I could have imagined. The were dense, moist, soft and the cinnamon gave a wonderful warmth and depth to the flavor. If you have kids and want them to eat more veggies...they'll never know they are in here. You can't even taste the carrots or zucchini. They melt right into the muffin.

The only problem was, they didn't rise at all. In fact, they sunk a bit in the middle. I tried again when I returned back to Saint Paul, making a couple changes. I substituted for the brown rice flour to make them grain free and added a reactant for the soda to help them rise. These ones were still wonderfully delicious, but a little more fluffy than the first ones.

They are both delicious, grain free, sugar free and can be made egg free. If you want a denser muffin, leave the apple cider vinegar out. If you want them fluffier, leave it in. Its a recipe that adapts well to change! I personally prefer them more dense and sunken...without the vinegar.

Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Muffins

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour (can sub brown rice flour but they won't be grain-free)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup good maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (leave this out if you want a denser muffin - I choose to leave it out) **see NOTE at the end
1 egg ( or 1 chia egg...1 TBSP ground chia mixed with 3 TBSP warm water, let sit for 5 min to gel)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Line muffin tin with liners.
Combine together almond flour, sorghum flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, syrup, vinegar (if using) and egg. Stir in carrots and zucchini. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Fold together to combine but don't over mix. Fold in cranberries or raisins.
Fill tines 3/4 way full. (If leaving out vinegar, you can fill them almost all the way.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

I frosted a couple of mine with a mixture of 2 TBSP cream cheese and 1 tsp honey.

They keep well for a couple days in an air tight container on the counter. Then freeze the rest. (We didn't have any left to freeze!)

The muffins with the vinegar were great the first day, but they were fairly dry the next day. If you are going to eat them all the morning you make them, they work well with the vinegar to keep them fluffy. If you are making them as a week-long breakfast item, I suggest leaving the vinegar out. They stay moist much longer that way.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comfort Food

Everyone has their favorite comfort food; that one thing you want to eat when you're sad, depressed, having a bad day, or often when its just ugly and cold outside. For some, its a warm bowl of soup and a nice, doughy roll. For others, its a steaming serving of mashed potatoes.

For a long time, I never really had one dish that just seemed to make everything better...until I started eating gluten free. I realized how much I loved tomato sauce and sausage. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside, or inside, when I crave comfort food, I want spaghetti sauce and sausage. The problem was, this is a dish usually eaten over pasta.

In the beginning, I didn't like any of the gluten-free pastas. I found one made from quinoa that I enjoy the most, but I still don't love anything out there on the market. Then, when we moved further towards a grain free and starch free diet, I just started eating the sauce plain. Plain just didn't seem to be quite as comforting as I remembered.

Enter cannellini beans. I first fell in love with these beans making soup. I love the warm, creamy texture they give and since I'm not a huge meat-eater, the protein the provide was a wonderful addition to my then lack-luster diet. I had these beans in a greek-style tomato dish once and I began to wonder if they would be a decent supplement for pasta. Man, was I surprised. The creaminess of the beans mixed with the spiciness of the sausage was absolutely fantastic. Comfort food or not, this dish has become a menu staple at our house.

PS - it stores very well in the frig and reheats wonderfully in the microwave or on the stove top. I often take leftovers to work for lunch.

Sausage and White Beans

4 Italian sausages, hot or mild
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth (I make my own. If using store bought, use low-sodium.)
2 cups (1 14-oz can) diced tomatoes
4 cups (2 cans) cannellini beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
2 handfuls fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

In a tall sided pan or a larger pot, brown and cook sausages. Remove and allow to cool enough to slice.

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the same pan and caramelize onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Use either chicken broth or 1/4 cup red wine to deglaze the pan. When deglazed, add remaining chicken stock to pan. Add in tomatoes, beans, basil, parsley and sliced sausage (remember to add the juice from the sausage on the plate). Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste...season with salt and pepper.

Right before you're ready to serve, stir in spinach just so it wilts. Serve.

You can serve this over rice, pasta or quinoa if you want. We eat it plain.