Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cannellini Bean Meatballs

I love a good meatball.  Yes I do.  Smothered in tomato sauce, in spaghetti or on a bun.  I saw this recipe and since my new resolution has been to focus on more meatless meals, I thought I'd give a whirl.  I adapted it to fit our dietary needs.

Adapted from the kitchen of Cookin Canuck.
  2 cups Cannellini Beans cooked
  1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  2 tsp. onion powder
  2 cloves garlic, minced
  1 TBSP dried parsley
  1 ½ tsp dried oregano
  1 egg
  ½ cup dried GF breadcrumbs
  ½ tsp kosher salt
  ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  3 cups spaghetti sauce (your favorite kind)
  Parmesan cheese for grating (Eat in the Raw parma for a dairy free option)

  Cook your GF spaghetti, rinse with cold water and set aside
  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
   Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with Spectrum Shortening
  In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans and dried tomatoes. 
  Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.(although, you can if you like!)
  Scrap out of blender and combine with onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper until well combined, in a medium bowl
  Using a spoon, scoop a portion of the bean mixture, form “meatballs” by rolling between the palms of your hands (I suggest greasing hands) . Place the “meatballs” on the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  Bake until the meatballs are firm to the touch and have developed a light golden brown coating, 15 to 25 minutes depending on the size you make them.
  In a large saucepan, heat you favorite spaghetti sauce over medium heat until simmering. Add “meatballs” and stir to coat. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes, add in pasta to warm.
  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

(My boys loved these so much, even the grown-up boy, that I made a triple batch and froze them for easy meals!!!!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pasta Salad

One of my favorite foods in the summer is my mother-in-law's pasta salad.  I decided to finally try and convert this bit o' heaven to something the boys could enjoy.  Here it is...

Pasta Salad
1 lb gluten free pasta (preferably spirals), cooked and cooled and drained
1-16 oz Italian dressing
5 stalks Celery chopped
1 can Black olives, drained
1 can Green olives, drained
1 jar Mushrooms
½ green pepper chopped
½ cup dairy free parmesan cheese (optional)
 ¼ to ½ cup Daiya  Shredded Mozzarella cheese or 8 oz. cubed mozzarella cheese

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Birthday Fun Foods

My oldest LOVES hockey!  So when I asked for his pick for a birthday cake theme, I assumed it would be hockey SOMETHING... but he said, "How about a violin cake?"  We can to an agreement on cupcakes and sugar cookies.  To add some fun, we did some 'kabobs, as my kids call them.  We did Rainbow Fruit and my mother-in-law did chicken with cucumbers.  YUM!

Fruit Rainbow
Red= Strawberry
Orange= Cantaloupe
Yellow= Pineapple
Green = Kiwi
Blue= Blueberry
Purple = Grapes

Place all items on a skewer in order.  Rainbow ‘kabob.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shamrock Shake

1 whole  avocado
1 can coconut milk
1 TBSP coconut oil or butter
1 cup crushed ice
2-4 TBP cane sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 tsp mint extract or about 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves

I have seen a recipe similar to this on several sites and had to give it a whirl.  We froze the leftovers to make mint Popsicles.  So yummy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Love Affair with Coconut

Settle in for a long post....

The coconut’s “real" name is Cocos nucifera. When the early Spanish explorers first experienced it they called it coco, which means "monkey face. The coconut has three indentations (eyes) on the outside of hairy nut, which makes it resemble the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."  Therefore, nut bearing monkey face is its real name. 

The coconut is an absolutely amazing complete package.  It provides a meat, a drink and an oil all in one neat sweet little food item.  The coconut also contains a full range of vitamins, minerals and is high in fiber.  Due to its health benefits and nutrients you will see people call it is a "functional" food.  I am sure you have seen recently how it has begun to climb in popularity because of its health, dietary and healing properties.  Some cultures go as far as calling this amazing nut "The Tree of Life."
If you study how people of various cultures use this monkey face nut, you will find they treat things like kidney stones, burns, colds, constipation, coughs, asthma, wounds, tumors, and so much more using coconut in some form.   The list which they use it for is staggering.  Also, in those countries, cancer and heart disease are at noticeably low and non-existent rates.
Modern medicine is now catching on and using coconut to treat illness, injury and disease.  Here are a few things some published studies have found.
·         Has potential to kill some viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and yeasts.  Caproyl Acid is one form that kills off Candida (I have first hand experience on its success with one of my sons.)
·         Is a great food for diabetics or those who can't tolerate carbs or grains due to coconut's ability to improve insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose, think sugars, flour, soy sauce alternative….
·         Great for the external body.  Helps with dandruff, great for skin conditions, protects the skin from the sun (think sun screen!!!), minimizes and reduces wrinkles, sunspots... and so much more!  I personally love it as a moisturizer for my face and skin.
·         For people with damaged guts or food allergies/sensitivities it improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including minerals, amino acids, and vitamins.  It can reduce the inflammation of the gut. 
·         Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be greatly helped when using coconut oil.  ***Just Google PCOS and coconut oil and many links like these will pop up. 
·         Can help to relieve stomach and intestine issues such as ulcers, colitis, Crohn’s disease. 
·         Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
·         May help people absorb vitamins such as magnesium and calcium.  Thus, strenthening bones which in turn can help fight osteoporosis.
·         It is heart healthy, helps protect teeth, can aid in cancer prevention...
The list goes on and on.....

Coconut Oil
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.
People once thought that coconut oil was unhealthy due to high saturated fat content, it is now documented that coconut oil’s fat is different and totally unique in its properties and how it affects our human bodies.  I have seen it called “the healthiest oil on earth”.  In fact, in blogs and recipes it is the new go-to oil for cooking and baking.
So…WHY is it good for you and how is it different???
When you consume fats, you have a few choices as to their composition.  We can classify them two ways.  First are fatty acids, which you are probably familiar with, uses words like saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats…. Second is a system of classification on the molecular size or the length of carbon chains that are in the fatty acids.  This system uses words like, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
If you look at the standard American diet, our majority of fats and oils intake, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). It is estimated in our diets we are consuming about 95-100% LCFA..
We need to look at the second way of classifying fats.  The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Human bodies metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size (LCFA, MCFA etc).  While coconut is saturated fatty acids, it is important to note coconut oils are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. (MCFA)
Let’s take a brief look at MCFA verses LCFA.  MCFA do not have a negative effect such as increasing cholesterol and can actually help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.  There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.
Type of products
Coconut milk (full fat in a can)
Coconut Flakes
Coconut Crème

Important notes about cooking with coconut flour and products:
Coconut is naturally very low on the glycemic index.  This makes it ideal for people who struggle with sugar/diabetes.  Coconut is also grain-free, which is a very healthy choice for many people with food allergies and sensitivities.

When cooking with coconut flour, it is important to sift it before incorporating it into wet ingredients.  It has a tendency to clump.  Coconut flour and eggs go hand in hand.  I personally have not tried any recipes using coconut flour with egg replacer, nor have I seen coconut flour and egg replacer used together in any recipe.  Coconut flour and almond flour are used often together in recipes.

Coconut baked products have a tendency to get VERY brown on the bottom.  It isn’t an error in cooking; it is just the result of how they turn out.
For detailed information on coconut research here is a great link.

Look for recipes to come!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Semi-Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken
1 1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 cup potato flour (not starch!)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt

2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk

Other ingredients:
Coconut milk for soaking
Coconut oil for frying

1.)     6-24 hours prior to cooking chicken, soak in coconut milk.  I use a large gallon zip lock. 
2.)     Preheat oil in a cast iron pan to about 350 degrees or just before smoke point
3.)     Beat eggs and milk together to create wash
4.)     Mix dry ingredients together.
5.)     Remove chicken from bag and dreg in wash and then coat in flour mix.  Repeat 1-2 times for a thicker coat.
6.)     Place 2-3 pieces of chicken in pan at a time.  Brown each side.  Remove and place on wire cooling rack to let grease run off.
7.)     Preheat oven to 400, place chicken in oven
8.)     Bake chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165.  Times vary according to bone in or boneless chicken

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

I recently posted about how I soaked black beans... for the very first time... here.  And now, dang it all, I have to actually DO something with the equivalent of 6 cans of beans!  No, no, just kidding, in all truth I already have a huge stack of recipes to try with black beans. 'Cause I am the recipe junkie, remember?

Now, my dearest and I, did NOT grow up eating beans.  Also, I am just a wee, bit texture sensitive and beans seem super mushy to me.  But I really want to expand my boy's diets and beans seem a good way to go.

The first recipe I am tackling is a Black Bean Burger Recipe.  It was recommended to me by a good friend who has a child with similar food allergies.  Her family LOVED it.  So I combed the internet and found several recipes.  Basically it consists of black beans (well duh!), bread crumbs, an egg, some seasonings.

After some tweaking, here is what I came up with:

Black Bean Burgers Allergen free version

3 cups soaked and cooked black beans
1/2 onion minced or 2 tsp onion powder
2 garlic cloves or 2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer or 1 egg
2 tsp chili powder (or less if this is too spicy for you!)
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs (GF of course)

Tabasco sauce (I added three good shakes)

I simply pulsed all the ingredients in my blender then blended on high until I was happy with the consistency

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I was Scared, but I Got Over It!

How many of you grew up eating beans?  I didn't, nor did my dearest.  It doesn't help that I have a bit of squeamishness about the mushy texture of beans.  It could be that I have only eaten canned beans, where as, dry beans soaked and cooked at home are a lot less mushy. 

I have been scared at trying to cook beans at home and, well, that my family might not eat them.  But seeing the price difference between canned and dry beans, I felt I finally had to give it a go.

I have been trying to figure out more meatless meals while keeping the meal balanced with protein, so beans seemed like the most likely route to make a nutritious/balanced meal that is meatless.  Also, I had a couple people to tell me to try this or that recipe....  Remember, I am a recipe junkie?  I have a great friend whose recipes I always love, who keeps giving me black bean recipes to try.  Also, the two recipes recommended to me lately by various people are black bean brownies and black bean burgers by various.  Both were said to be out of this world, so I figured black beans (aka turtle beans) would be a good place to start.

I followed this tutorial on soaking and cooking beans by Wardeh on GNOWFGLINS.  I searched all over the web and this is the BEST one I found.  Easiest to do, easiest to understand.

Here are some photos of my attempt.

rinsing the beans

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Needed Break

It has been a while since I posted regularly and I have good reasons (and not so good reasons! LOL)

*Been busy trying new recipes
*Birthdays, birth (I got a new niece!), and babysitting 
*Camping, concerts, and (in general) chaos
*Developing, writing, and teaching food allergy classes
*Finishing up our homeschool year
*MACHE homeschooling conference
*I am hopelessly and shamelessly addicted to JERICHO, MADMEN and DOWNTON ABBEY
*It has been a beautiful spring and we are doing yard work and I made 6 garden boxes (so excited!)
*Been trying to get some workouts in at the YMCA
*And finally, I just plain am enjoying bits and pieces of me time (what a concept, I know!)

But good news is I have over a month of posts coming your way... full of recipes and adventures.