Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Flu Bug Bites!

Four days of the worst flu bug ever! I'm sad to say the flu hasn't flown the coop yet but, I'm hopeful that with a few more days rest I'll be as good as new. I miss the days when my Grandma used to bring me a tray of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, cinnamon toast and rub Vicks on my neck when I was sick. Of course, now that I'm gluten free, I can no longer use some of the remedies I remember from childhood. I do miss Grandma's loving care, but thankfully, I have my loving husband and children to see me through this nasty bug.

Though Grandma's remedies were great, here are a few alternatives:

I try to drink a green smoothie every day. It is the ideal fast food packed with tons of nutrients. I typically replace breakfast or lunch, since they are pretty filling. A nutritionist friend of mine recommended sticking to yellow, orange and green fruit and vegetables while I was sick. Yellow and orange fruit and veggies are high in vitamin C and help fight free radicals. She especially recommended pineapple for it's anti-inflammatory properties for body aches associated with flu. Pineapple contains the enzyme Bromelain, which is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Pineapple also contains Vitamin C, which has been proven to reduce the severity of an infection.

Tropical Green Smoothie
Active 5-7 min, Inactive 1 min
1 cup frozen tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya)
1 banana, peeled
1 tbsp raw coconut creme
10oz cold water, coconut milk or rice milk
1 large handful of greens
4-6 ice cubes
*Optional (I like mine on the "earthy" side, but if you don't try adding these)
1 packet of stevia
1/4 tsp vanilla

Add all ingredients with the greens on the top to your blender, preferably a vitamix or blendtec for the best result. Blend on medium at first and then on high until completely liquified. Add more liquid if necessary.

My recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup is loaded with orange and yellow veggies. I also use a great deal of fresh cilantro. Cilantro is an excellent source of vitamins, including vitamin C. It is an anti-oxidant and it may help you to have more restful sleep. It has also been shown to help those with cardiovascular issues and diabetes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Active 15-20min, Inactive 4 hours
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
4 cups homemade chicken broth
(I also like the Costco organic chicken broth)
1 can organic diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 can red enchilada sauce, 10oz
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup canned black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin
2 bay leaf
Juice of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with tortilla strips, diced avocado and cilantro

Place all ingredients in the crockpot except last four into crockpot. Next, add cumin, bay leaf and lime juice. Cook for 3-4 hours on high, 6-8 on low. Remove bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and garnish with tortilla strips, cilantro and diced avocado.

Whenever possible, I try to use more natural products. Especially since I have had a particularly difficult month with illness and asthma yuk. I have used way more western meds than I normally would (which may be why I have been sick 3 times in 2 months, but that is another story). After reading all the unnatural chemicals in the commercial vapor product, I decided to make my own.

Homemade Vapor Rub
Active 5 min
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
10-20 drops eucalyptus oil
5-10 drops peppermint oil

Add the eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil to the melted coconut oil. Start with the least amount of drops of each oil and make the mixture as strong as you are comfortable. Be sure to test the strength by rubbing a small amount on your skin and smelling it. Pour mixture into a small lidded container.

Although, I hope you don't need these recipes because you are under the weather. I hope they will help anyone who may need them. Flu season is almost over!! Yay!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oatmeal Monkey Bites

These delicious little bites are my kids' favorite. Healthy enough to eat for breakfast, but delicious enough to eat for dessert. These bite-sized snacks are a nutritious alternative to a cookie, no matter what time of day. I have been making different versions of these for the family since my eldest son was in kindergarten. He was quite a picky eater as a little guy, but what child would turn down a cookie?? Sneaky!!
Gluten Free Oatmeal Monkey Bites
Active 10 min, Inactive 20-25 min
Makes about 36 cookies
2 c gluten free rolled oats
1 c almond meal
1/4 protein powder
2 stevia packets
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c allergen free mini chocolate chips
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 c rice milk (or your favorite DF milk or dairy milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix first seven dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix mashed banana, milk and vanilla extract. Pour banana mixture in to the dry ingredients bowl. Mix until all ingredients are wet. Let stand for 5 minutes so the dry ingredients can soak up the moisture. Using a small cookie scoop or a teaspoon place the scoops two inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a rack. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa

I LOVE Mediterranean cuisine. It is definitely a family favorite too. I love the flavors, the aroma, and the health benefits. I think my love affair with this cuisine began when I worked for a local family owned Greek restaurant in high school. The restaurant made everything right there in the kitchen, some of which I actually got to prepare. It was my first experience with trying new and unfamiliar ethnic food. I was always a cheeseburger and pizza girl in high school, so trying new things like moussaka, falafel and souvlaki was a stretch. By far, my favorite dish there was the chicken souvlaki. It is a grilled marinated chicken that is so flavorful a and so moist, it practically melts in your mouth. This dish is my homage to that time in my life and my own take on some of the things I learned.
Mediterranean Chicken Quinoa
Active: 30-45 min, 4 hours inactive

4 chicken breasts, cut in to strips

1/4 c red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 c quinoa
1 1/2 c chicken stock
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp white truffle oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, julianne
1/2 medium onion, strips

1/4 c feta cheese
2 sprigs of Italian parsley for garnish

In a gallon size storage bag, marinate chicken strips in the marinade for at least 4 hours and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Prep and cut bell pepper and onion.

Soak quinoa fine mesh sieve inside of a large bowl of cold water. Rinse the quinoa in cold running water. This will release any of the saponin remaining on the quinoa which can give it a bitter flavor.

In a 2 quart pot, bring quinoa, garlic and chicken stock to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on. Add white truffle oil, fluff quinoa gently with a fork, salt and pepper to taste. Keep covered until chicken and vegetables are cooked.

Over medium-high heat, cook your chicken in a ridged grill pan (Cook half of the chicken at a time and cover cooked chicken with foil if the pan will not fit all the chicken at once.) or plancha grill for approx 4 min on each side, until chicken temp reaches 165 degrees. Cover chicken with foil and set aside.

Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil in your hot pan and add the bell pepper and onion. Grill vegetables for approximately 4-5 minutes until onions become slightly translucent.

Serve chicken and grilled vegetables over quinoa and garnish with feta cheese and Italian parsley. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gluten Free Clean Brownies

When you just have to have some chocolate, a brownie is always my first choice. Ok, so this recipe isn't exactly low fat or low in calorie, but by using less processed and wholesome ingredients, you can at least make it a lot easier for your body to process. Hence, clean brownies :) I like to portion out my desserts in a small ramekin, like the one shown above. It's enough to get your sweet fix, without breaking out your horns and pitch fork. We added a melon baller scoop of dulce de leche ice cream to the top, which really knocked it out of the park. Happy baking and enjoy your chocolate love!!
Gluten Free Clean Brownies
Active 10-15 min, Inactive 20-25 min
2/3 c almond meal, pecan meal, or cold milled ground flax
1/3 c sweet sorghum flour (or sub you fav gf bake mix)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 51% cacao chips)
6 tbsp organic coconut oil
1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 c raw sugar simple syrup
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If you need to prepare the raw sugar simple syrup, see instructions below as the syrup will need to cool while you prepare the rest.
In a measuring cup, combine the almond meal and sweet sorghum flour. Set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, salt and coconut oil. Heat on medium heat (50% power) for 30 seconds, stir, then heat for another 30 seconds, stir again. If your chips have not completely melted, heat for 10 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted. DO NOT OVER COOK. Chocolate burns very easily. You could optionally use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then add your vanilla extract and simple syrup and stir. Add your eggs, one at a time and mix until all the wet ingredients are well combined. Add the remaining ingredients and mix approximately 40 strokes.
Line your 8x8 baking dish with parchment and a small amount of cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the brownies are set around the edges and a soft crust forms. The center will still be very soft. A toothpick test should reveal a moist crumbs, but no liquid. Cool completely on a baking rack. Cut and enjoy!!

*Raw Simple Syrup is my go to for subbing sugar. It packs that sweet punch without the gritty raw sugar texture.
Raw Simple Syrup
(Yields 1 cup)
2 c raw cane sugar
1 c water
In a small saucepan, stir the sugar and water together. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear.
Let cool to room temperature. Use now, or cover and refrigerate indefinitely. An easy option is to store the syrup in a glass jar.