Tag Archives: gluten free

Red White and Blue Popsicles

Strawberry, Coconut & Blueberry Popsicles

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

My ugly but delicious dairy free popsicles!

No one is ever going to tell you I make pretty food.  I make tasty food that is usually pretty good for you but it usually looks like a train wreck.  But that’s ok with me if it’s ok with you.  Don’t judge my ugly 4th of July popsicles by their outer appearance.  It’s what’s on the inside that counts.  And if you make these yourself you won’t have to go dig up some change when you hear the ice cream man’s music come rolling through the neighborhood. The best part about these popsicles is that you don’t need to worry about gross ingredients like food coloring and high fructose corn syrup and since they contain real fruit you are giving your kids (and yourself) a treat that you can feel good about.  Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of most store popsicles?  They’re usually not even food. I’m looking forward to trying these with other fruits – I’m thinking mango & lime juice would be good too! This made 6 good sized popsicles out of small solo cups.  Despite using small solo cups they were still pretty large popsicles.  I think if you are using molds you’ll get a few more out of the mixture. It’s strawberry season right now in NH so by all means, use fresh if you can get them!

Ingredients
3/4 can full fat Coconut Milk
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen strawberries
8 – 10oz organic fresh or frozen blueberries
4 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

Directions
If your honey is very thick or crystallized, you’ll want to melt it first.  You can do this by heating it in the microwave but I prefer to put it in a glass measuring cup and then setting the measuring cup in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes.  Once the honey is melted, blend the strawberries with 1 tbsp + 1 tsp of honey, plus a dash of vanilla and a tiny bit of salt.  Once they are well blended, scrape the blender out and set the strawberry mixture aside.  Rinse the blender and then do the same with the blueberries (+ honey, vanilla and salt) and again with the coconut milk, setting each one aside in a separate container.   Once all have been blended, spoon a heaping tbsp of the strawberry mixture into each popsicle mold, then a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk, then a heaping tbsp of the blueberry mixture and so on until you run out of the mixtures.  Freeze for at least 4 hours before eating.

Freaking out because you don’t have popsicle molds? If you don’t have popsicle molds (I certainly don’t!), you can use small plastic or paper cups instead!  The popsicles won’t look as fancy and they may be a little awkward shaped but it will do. You just pour the mixtures in then cover with plastic wrap and make a small hole for a popsicle stick or plastic fork/spoon, then insert one into each hole.  The plastic wrap will keep the stick in place.  Pop into the freezer and wait patiently.  When the popsicles are frozen you may need to run the sides of each cup under warm water for a few seconds to release the popsicle from the plastic cup.  If you use paper cups you can probably just peel them off.  We used plastic forks in ours in place of popsicle sticks (since we didn’t have those either) and the cool thing about that was as your popsicle starts to melt you can just stick it back in the cup and eat it with the fork that has been acting as your stick.  So fancy.

You don't need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles.  Look around your kitchen, you'll find something that you can use.

You don’t need popsicle molds to make your own popsicles. Take a good look around your kitchen and I’m sure you probably have stuff you can use in a pinch!

I will totally be having one of these tonight! Yum!

Untitled drawing (1)

Secret Green Chocolate Banana Smoothie

 

chocsmoothie

Green Smoothies!  They’re all the rage these days, aren’t they? They’re a great way to get some veggies in, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare vegetables or you don’t really like them.  But, if you are really squeamish about veggies, the idea of a “green” smoothie is about as appealing as eating grass clippings as you mow the lawn.  That’s where sneaky secret green smoothies can help!

I published this one on social media before I even thought about putting it in a blog post.  My veggie hating clients really enjoyed it and that was a big win and I wanted to share.  I figured I should probably have it in a more permanent place too so up on the blog it goes!  This is a sneaky little bastard.  It doesn’t look or taste like there are any vegetables in it.  It tastes like Chocolate Banana pudding and it’s so thick (especially if you use chia seeds) that you can actually eat it with a spoon.  It’s so good!

This badboy has about 15 g fiber, 15 g protein and 15 g fat to get you through your day.  It is a meal replacement more than just a snack. I can drink one of these at 9 am and not need to eat anything else until at least 2pm, sometimes later. So filling!

It also has almost 100% of the Vitamin A you need each day, 30% of your Iron, 50% of your calcium and it’s also a great source of potassium and magnesium. To help absorb the iron, have a glass of water with lemon with your smoothie. And it has less sugar in it than most protein bars out there (the banana is the sole source).

Secret Green Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1/2 cup cooked oats (i like steel cut) or 1/3 cup raw rolled oats
1 heaping tbsp cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 banana, peeled
1 tbsp unsweetened nut/seed butter of your choice
1 tbsp chia or hemp seeds
1 cup of unsweetened almond, rice or hemp milk
1/2 cup romaine lettuce
1/2 cup baby spinach

Directions
If using raw oats, blend them with the cocoa powder and chia seed first until ground finely, then add the rest of your ingredients blend, chill and enjoy! It also freezes well but be sure to stir well after defrosting (before drinking).

This recipe is gluten free (if you use gf certified oats), dairy free, soy free and vegan.

I prefer to use cooked oats in mine – I think it adds a creamier texture!  You can also use water in place of any of non-dairy milks.  It will change the color/texture slightly but the chocolate banana flavor will still dominate.  If the 1 cup of greens in this freaks you out as a first timer, start with just a few leaves.  If you feel ok with that, add a few more each time you make it.  And someday you’ll be amazed that you even needed your greens to be masked!

Do you hate your veggies? Try this and let me know what you think and please share with your friends if you think they would enjoy.

 

Wild Cod with Parsley, Lemon & Shallots and Arugula Salad

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots - can't go wrong.

Wild Cod with Lemon, Parsley and Shallots – can’t go wrong!

Yay for summer!  I secretly (or not so secretly) love heat and humidity but that doesn’t mean I love being in a hot kitchen on those days (like today!).  When it’s a perfect summer day outside, I want to minimize the amount of time I have to spend indoors so I love having quick dinners at my fingertips and that’s where fish and a raw salad come in.

Wild cod takes just a few minutes to cook and a little chopping and slicing is all this arugula salad takes to make.  You can have healthy and delicious dinner on the table in 15 minutes tops.  Feel free to use any white mild tasting fish for this recipe.

If you are brave (and have amazing grill skills), feel free to grill your cod outside.  I find fish a little too delicate to do on the grill with my clunky bear-like coordination (unless it’s on a wood plank).  But by all means show me up with your gracefulness and report back.  And then come over and get grilling, thanks!

A tip for you:  Keep things like parsley, lemon, shallots, garlic, vinegars and oil/butter regularly in your kitchen.  Why?  Because almost anything tastes like you slaved over it when you add some of those ingredients.  Almost any combo of those ingredients makes a delicious salad dressing, chicken marinade, pasta or potato salad dressing and of course in this recipe, a topping for fish.  Get into the habit of keeping a few simple ingredients in your kitchen and you’ll always be able to whip up something delicious at a moments notice.

Ingredients
4 Wild cod fillets (skinned/skinless)
1 tbsp olive oil

1 organic lemon zested and juice reserved*
2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp pastured butter
1 large shallot, minced
sea salt to taste

Arugula Salad
4 cups baby arugula, chopped (try other baby greens if you don’t have arugula)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 large carrots, shredded or sliced thinly
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste

*it’s really important to use an organic lemon in any recipe that uses the peel or zest.  That is where all the pesticides are and they are not easily washed off.  If you are just using the juice of a lemon, conventional is ok but please go for organic when using zest (and rinse well before using anyway).
Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Arugula salad -a simple and quick way to get a spicy new green into your diet.

Directions
Cook cod in a hot sauce pan with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. When hot, cook the cod for 3-4 minutes on one side, flip and then immediately put in hot oven.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes in the oven (exact time will depend on the thickness of your fillets) and remove when fish is opaque and flakes easily.

While the fish is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a small saucepan, cook shallots for 3 minutes or until softened/browning.  Turn off heat and stir in the lemon juice and zest, parsley, sea salt and remaining butter.  Spoon over fish.

Make the arugula salad before you begin making the fish or during (it takes just 5 minutes to make). Chop and prepare all your veggies and then dress with the oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.  Serve the cod and salad immediately.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

Untitled drawing (1)

Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)


giardiniera3
I have a confession to make. I love sausage. I know that’s probably odd coming from someone whose business is health coaching. I’ve recently realized that sausage is my favorite meat.  It just adds so much flavor to anything you put it in!  My husband finds this hilarious because when he met me, the only animal protein I ate was fish, chicken and turkey.  On the rare occasion that I did decide to eat pork or beef it could not be what I referred to as a “circle” meat – meat that was cylindrical in shape and was comprised of lots of bits of unknown things (think salami, bologna, sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni etc).  I just never liked it and frankly they grossed me out (bologna and hot dogs still do).  It wasn’t until I started to learn to cook after I moved in with him that I even considered the possibility that sausage could have a place in my diet.  These days, it appears on our dinner plates at least a couple times a month.  I get local when I can (our meat share from our CSA at Middle Branch Farm provides some) and the rest of the time I purchase chicken or pork sausages whose ingredient lists only contain things I recognize (applegate organic, aidells, organic prairie and al fresco are some brands that have simple ingredient lists that I see where I live).  They all have more salt in them than I would like but let’s be honest that’s partially what makes them so delicious.

This week, during one of my sausage cravings, I decided to make a fast version of italian giardiniera salad and serve them together. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out (cold salad & hot sausage?) but it was a good idea and very filling!  The actual making the salad only takes about 10 minutes (between chopping and lightly cooking the veggies) but you’ll want to serve it chilled so throw it into the fridge for an additional 20 minutes or so.  The flavor of the salad will get better the longer it sits (real giardiniera is marinated for a couple days usually before eating) but I wanted crunchy, tangy cold veggies right away so 20 minutes it was (and that’s why this is the super fast version).  Super yummy.And don’t feel like you need to serve this with sausage or any other meat – it’s pretty delicious on it’s own.  This may make an appearance at a few BBQs this summer.giardiniera2giardinieraI know you’re wondering, where’s the starch? carb? bread? grains? for this meal or for most of my recipes. I do eat grains (whole ones mostly) and starches but I find filling up on vegetables, protein and fat for most of the day keeps me the most satisfied and least bloated.  And, the less I eat grain/starchy carbs the less I get urges to binge or eat uncontrollably because my blood sugar isn’t being subjected to spikes.  I probably eat only one or two servings of grains or starch a day. I know this may not work for you but it’s something to think about if cravings or binging are something you struggle with. It’s taken me my entire adult life to get in touch with how the food I eat affects me physically (and emotionally) so I’m sticking with it.  The key is making sure I get a good amount of fat and protein plus bulk (from the veggies). Okay, sorry I’ve gone off on a tangent (but one that I love to talk about).  Here’s the recipe!!!

And my apologies for the blurry photos.  I was in a rush to get this into my belly and really wasn’t thinking it would be blog worthy before I ate it.

Giardiniera with Chicken Sausage (Super Fast Version)

Ingredients
1 small head of cauliflower
2 large carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 roasted red peppers, diced (make your own or buy them)
14 green olives, chopped (I used pitted unstuffed ones but anything you like goes!)
2 green scallions, diced
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste (I use Light Grey Celtic Sea Salt by Selina Naturally)
freshly ground black pepper

4 – 5 links chicken sausage, casings removed (skip this if you bought pre-cooked sausage*)

Directions
Bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in the cauliflower, carrots and celery. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes, then drain water and put veggies in a big bowl.  Add in the rest of the ingredients (except for sausage) and stir well.  Put in the fridge to chill.  Cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Once cooked, set aside for a few minutes until your giardiniera is cold enough for you then top the giardiniera with the warm sausage and get crunching.

*If you are using pre-cooked sausage, leave the casing on, dice up and then just cook until warmed through.

Serves 4 (and assuming you choose gluten free sausage, this is gluten free & dairy free)

I ate the leftovers cold (both the sausage and salad) for lunch the next day and it was even better!  I’m thinking this would also be delicious with some white beans and pepperoncini mixed in.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

I know we’re still a few months from Brussels Sprout season but I can’t help myself! Despite trying to eat what’s in season most of the time, I go out of my way to eat Brussels sprouts year round.  I may have hated them as kid (me and everybody else) but as an adult, they are one of my favorite veggies! Roasted, pan fried, steamed – I don’t care! I think they are fab!  This is one of my favorite ways to make them.  It’s super fast (the thing that takes the most time is trimming the sprouts) and simple to make.  Plus, you don’t even need to be much of a cook to pull this one off.

As usual, with most of the food I make, this recipe is a loose guide – if you don’t have cranberries or sunflower seeds, skip them or substitute raisins, chopped dried apricots, fresh blueberries, pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews or hemp seeds.  If you don’t have lemon, use fresh lime juice/lime zest or even vinegar.  It’s no big deal.  The main reason they’re in this salad is to add some additional texture and take some of the bite out of the sprouts.

Not only do they taste amazing, but Brussels sprouts are crazy good for you! They’re an amazing source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and a pretty good source of folate, potassium, B Vitamins (there’s some B1, B2, B3 and B6 in there), fiber and choline.   Try this salad next time you’re looking at sprouts and wondering what to do with them.

Ingredients
4 cups Brussels sprouts, base trimmed, loose / damaged leaves removed
1 tbsp olive oil, butter or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup dried organic cranberries
1/2 cup organic raw sunflower seeds
1 lemon, juiced & zest reserved
1.5 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I’m a fan of California Olive Ranch these days)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

photo 1c copy
Directions
After trimming your Brussels sprouts, slice each one 3 or 4 times (so it looks like somewhat shredded cabbage when you are done).  Heat the olive oil (not extra virgin) in a 3 or 4qt pan over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add the sliced/shredded sprouts and saute for about 5 – 7 minutes (or until your desired doneness), stirring occasionally. I like to saute them just until some pieces begin to brown and get crispy but the rest are still pretty firm.

Take them off the heat and toss with lemon juice, lemon zest and the extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and dress with the cranberries and sunflower seeds. Serve warm or at room temperature.  This is a great salad to bring to cookouts when sprouts are in season in late summer!

Makes 4 hearty servings.  Make this a well balanced meal by adding grilled chicken or cannellini beans on top.

Easy BBQ Spice Roasted Chickpeas

photo 1 copy I hosted a vegetable gardening workshop at my home yesterday afternoon (thanks to the kind and knowledgeable Leslie Stevens of Sidewalk Farms in Portsmouth) and since I’m a foodie, I provided lots of snacks for my guests (most of them healthy).  Apparently, my roasted chickpeas were a hit so I thought I would share the recipe here.

One of the things I want to teach people in my coaching practice is that eating healthily doesn’t have to be a ton of work.  Simplify and get creative. If you’ve never had roasted chickpeas, you’re in for a treat.  They get crispy and crunchy and are a great stand in for protein rich snacks like roasted or spiced nuts. In addition to being little protein powerhouses, chickpeas are a great source of fiber, folate, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron and zinc – minerals and nutrients we all could use more of. This is a snack you don’t have to feel bad about. And they’re super kid friendly!

There’s barely any work to make them (you just need a half hour or so of oven time) and if you have any leftovers, they make a great high protein topper for salad or mixed into a stir fry or pilaf. They will lose some of their crunch after several hours but you can refresh them by putting them back in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. For this recipe, I used a BBQ Spice rub (modified and inspired by the one here) but you can roast chickpeas plain or with any other spices you like.  I also like them with coriander, cardamom and cumin. They’re crazy versatile.  If you put together this spice rub, you will have leftovers.  Try the extra rub on chicken or on sweet potatoes.

Ingredients
2 15oz cans organic chickpeas / garbanzo beans
1 tbsp olive oil

BBQ Spice Rub / Mix
(use organic spices if you can)
3 tbsp organic brown sugar
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt cayenne pepper to taste (optional) photo 2 copy

Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then dry off well with paper towels.  If you have OCD, pick off all the little chickpea skins (but they can stay on if you don’t).  Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and then rub with a couple tablespoons of the bbq spice mix (at least 2, but feel free to go heavier!).  Spread the chickpeas out on a cookie sheet and then bake for 30-40 minutes until crispy and lightly browned.    Serve immediately or at room temp.

Just a note: The brown sugar in the spice mix will encourage browning (burning even) so check on them once towards the end of cooking so that they don’t brown beyond your liking.  The burned ones still taste pretty good if you ask me. If you try these, let me know what you think!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

 

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

 

photo 4Warmer weather is here so that means I’m ready to eat more raw foods. I spend all winter eating rich roasted root vegetables and steamed greens. Spring calls for crisp lettuce and crunchy carrots but it’s still a little chilly so I need to have something warm with my raw food.  These Turkey Lettuce Wraps help fit that bill. This is a fantastically filling yet light meal that looks impressive and takes only 25 minutes to make (and I’m the slowest cookin the world).  Also, they are delicious.  I used to serve these with some sort of dipping sauce but they honestly don’t even need any.  These are gluten free and dairy free.

One of the reason I love this meal is that it’s really versatile.  Don’t have mushrooms? Use bell peppers or snow peas.  Don’t have mung bean sprouts? Try alfalfa sprouts.  Don’t have sherry wine? Use mirin or rice vinegar.  No turkey? Ground beef or thinly sliced pork could work! The only thing I wouldn’t substitute here is the type of lettuce.  I once tried to make these with red leaf lettuce and they tore way too easily, leaving me with hoisin sauce dripping down my arms.  Not a good look.  Boston/Bibb lettuce is super soft and flexible.  It can hold all the fixings without leaking and doesn’t really have thick ribs which means they won’t snap when you take a bite.

This serves 3-4 for dinner (depends on how big of an eater you are) but this would make a great appetizer if you let everyone make their own wraps.

Ingredients
Turkey Mixturephoto 1
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup chopped portobello or white mushrooms
20 ounces ground turkey
1 large shallot, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1inch of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp gluten free hoisin sauce (Joyce Chen brand makes one)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sherry wine (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

For Serving
1 cup mung bean sproutsphoto 2
1 head Boston or Bibb Lettuce, roots/core cut off, leaves washed

Carrot Salad
5 carrots, shredded
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1tbsp reduced sodium tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

Directions
Heat the olive oil or coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet overphoto 3 medium heat.
When hot, add mushrooms, shallots and onion and sauté 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Push the mushrooms and onions to the side of the pan and add ground turkey.  Cook the ground turkey through, breaking up with a wooden spoon. When the turkey is mostly cooked, add the ginger, celery, basil, water chestnuts, gluten free hoisin sauce, fish sauce, sherry (optional) and toasted sesame oil and cook for two minutes, stirring a few times.

While the turkey mixture cooks, mix the grated carrots with the cilantro, tamari and sesame oil to make a carrot salad.

For each person, serve 5 or 6 lettuce leaves, some mung bean sprouts, carrot salad and the turkey mixture on a plate (put some of the components in a small bowl if you like).  Then spoon a small amount of each item into a lettuce leaf, fold over with your hand and eat like a taco or a little dumpling.

photo 5

Untitled drawing (1)

Dairy & Gluten Free Beef Stroganoff

Healthier stroganoff!

Healthier stroganoff!

I was craving my Mom’s beef stroganoff recently but as I’ve mentioned in other posts, the husband and I aren’t eating wheat or dairy much these days so I didn’t want to make a dish that uses both and feel bloated for days.  I also didn’t feel like driving to the grocery store (a common problem when you live in the boonies like we do) so I used what I had on hand.

Zucchini & carrots for noodles and I had some homemade df & gf sour cream on hand. It would have to do.

It did awesomely!  The picture I took with my phone doesn’t do it justice.  It was delicious, creamy comfort food and it will be going in to our rotation on a regular basis. You should add it into yours too, especially if spring continues to keep her distance!  Also, this is tasty enough to serve to people who eat dairy & wheat but are looking for something a little lighter – I promise!

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper or 2 stalks of celery, chopped
12 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lb grass fed organic ground beef
1 tbsp potato starch
1/2 cup unsalted organic beef broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 – 1 cup cashew cream
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley
optional: a little smoked paprika
2 medium organic zucchini
2 large organic carrots

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat until hot, then add onions, peppers (or celery) and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are browned and the onions are slightly soft. Cook the garlic with the vegetables for the last minute of cooking. Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.

While your veggies are cooking, make your “noodles”.  Wash your carrots and zucchini well and leave the peel on if they’re organic. Using a regular vegetable peeler (you don’t need a spiralizer or a fancy peeler for this), carefully peel your veggies into long strips.  Keep peeling until you can’t peel them any more.  You may need to rotate them or lay them flat on a cutting board firmly to get as much peel as possible.  These vegetable peelings are now your noodles!

Saute the ground beef in the same pan until browned, breaking up with a wooden spoon occasionally.  When the beef is just about cooked through, add the mushrooms, peppers (or celery) and onion back to the pan, sprinkle the mixture with the potato starch and stir well.  Cook for one to two minutes then add the beef stock, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid begins to thicken. Turn the heat source off and stir in your cashew cream (or use sour cream if you eat dairy). Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the “noodles” or serve the stroganoff over the noodles depending on your preference (I like to stir the noodles in to take the chill off so they’re warm). Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and some smoked paprika if you like.

Makes 4 hearty servings.

Untitled drawing (1)

Recipe: Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apricots & Pumpkin Seeds

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’m a meat eater but I like to try to have a couple of vegetarian days a week.  I feel more balanced when I don’t eat too much of any one thing.  The husband is a little less thrilled about vegetarian meals than I am so I have to make sure the dishes are substantial and hearty or he’ll be in the kitchen looking for a snack as soon as he puts down his fork.  I’ve had to get creative!  This one is a winner!

This meal can take center stage and hold it’s own next to any meat filled main course.  Buttery acorn squash, hearty wild rice, crunchy vegetables, apricots, pumpkin seeds and warming spices will taste good on your tongue and it will make your kitchen smell like happiness.  The flavors are reminiscent of stuffing at Thanksgiving (my recipe anyway).  If you’re like me and your kitchen wouldn’t know a sharp knife if one came crashing through the window, then you can relax – we cook the squash whole in this recipe!  Save your fingers and a trip to the emergency room by cutting in to the squash after it’s cooked.  Is it conceited if I call myself genius? Probably, but I don’t care.  This is a good one!

Sometimes I serve it topped with a dollop of hummus, half an avocado or a fried egg (or a combo of two!).  So satisfying I’ve even eaten the leftovers for breakfast!

Ingredients

2 whole acorn squash
1 cup Lundberg Wild Rice blend
1 cup Apple Cider or 1 cup water + 1 medium apple diced
3/4 cup of water
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup organic raw shelled pumpkin seeds
8 organic turkish apricots, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp dried basil leaves
black pepper and salt to taste
optional:  1 tbsp of butter for each squash half

Turn oven to 375 degrees.  Wash the skin of your acorn squash, dry and then put on a cookie sheet and carefully place in the oven (they might try to roll around).  It’s okay if the oven isn’t fully heated yet.  Cook the squash for 45 minutes, then check it for doneness.  You should be able to insert a knife easily into it’s flesh.  If still firm, keep cooking until soft.  When done, let cool for a few minutes, slice in half and then scoop out the seeds and fibrous membranes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

While the squash is cooking, bring the apple cider (or chopped apple & extra water) & water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Pour in the wild rice, return to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low so it simmers.  Cook for 45 minutes then turn off the heat and leave the cover on for a few more minutes.

When the rice is almost done cooking, heat a large skillet to medium heat, add the olive oil and when oil is hot saute the onion, celery, bell pepper and poblano peppers until they begin to soften.  Add sage, basil and allspice and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the chopped apricots and pumpkin seeds and add the rice when it’s done cooking.  Fill each acorn squash half with 3/4 – 1 cup of the rice and vegetable mixture.  I like to place a tablespoon of pastured butter (try Kerrygold if you don’t have a local source) in each squash half before filling with the rice mixture.  This is optional of course, but it adds a lot of flavor and richness which will keep your satisfied for hours. This meal is vegan if you leave it out.

Pop the filled squash back in the oven for 10 minutes or so just to warm the squash back up.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

Untitled drawing (1)

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Mayo

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Olive Oil Mayo

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Olive Oil Mayo

Last weekend, John’s dad was coming over for dinner and I wanted to make an appetizer that was relatively healthy with whatever we had on hand.  After scouring the kitchen for a half hour, I realized I still had a bunch of organic sweet potatoes to use up from our awesome CSA at Middle Branch Farm.  I decided to turn them into baked sweet potato fries and serve them with a homemade olive oil based mayonnaise seasoned with smoked paprika.   The combination was AWESOME.  Everyone liked them.  In fact, it was hard to snap a picture of them without someone’s hand digging in the basket and the pic above is the best I could get. Haha!

If you want your “fries” to stay crispy, don’t pile them all up in a basket when serving like I did.  The smoked paprika mayo is perfect for these and you’ll have plenty of mayo leftover to use for other things during the week (try it on scrambled eggs or steamed kale – OMG!).  Once you start making your own mayo, you’ll never go back to store bought ever again, I swear!  And making it with olive oil is so much better for you than the junk that goes into commercial mayo.

Try these and let me know what you think!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika Mayo

For the Fries
4 Medium Sized Sweet Potatoes, Scrubbed and Peeled
2 tablespoons 100% olive oil (not Extra Virgin) or melted coconut oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease two large cookie sheets.  Slice sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch thick fries.  It doesn’t have to be exact but you want them to be close to the same thickness so they cook at the same rate.  Toss sweet potatoes in the 2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and then spread the sweet potatoes onto the two prepared cookie sheets but don’t let them touch each other!  The fries need to be spaced apart. You may need to use three cookie sheets to accomplish this.  If the fries are touching, you’ll end up with steamy, soft fries and that’s not what you want!  Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 15 minutes more or until cooked through on the inside and browned on the outside.   Serve with the smoked paprika mayo (below) or ketchup.

For the Smoked Paprika Mayo
1 cup 100% olive oil (not Extra Virgin)
2 egg yolks from organic pastured eggs*
1 & 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp – 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp tarragon leaves
1 shallot, minced
sea salt and black pepper to taste
optional: a dash of fresh lemon juice or hot sauce for a little zing!

Whisk the 2 egg yolks with the dijon mustard until they are evenly blended.  Slowly add the olive oil by pouring it down the side of the bowl in a very thin stream and continue whisking the entire time.  Don’t use extra virgin olive oil here because the flavor would over power the mayo.  If you pour the olive oil in too fast, you will break the emulsion so go slow with the pour and whisk like your life depends on it! Pour it slower than you think you need to. Once you’ve whisked in all of the oil and you have a thick creamy mayo, add in your seasonings: shallots, tarragon, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and optional, a little lemon juice or hot sauce.  Make the mayo an hour before serving for best flavor.

*Eating raw egg can pose some health risks to those with compromised immune systems.   Pastured eggs have a lower risk than commercial eggs of carrying salmonella but there is still some risk.  Eat at your own discretion.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 1 of my healthy tip filled campaign called 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More.

Untitled drawing (1)