Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Healthy and Comforting Meals...

When I think of comfort food I think of Macaroni and Cheese, Meatloaf, or Giant Stuffed Green Peppers.  I'm also reminded of the calorie and fat content, and how it's not exactly of any health benefit to my family; or is it?  Has anyone else noticed all of the recipes and/or pictures of food shown on people's Facebook updates?  It's always..this is what I'm cooking, this is what our dinner looks like, and wouldn't this be a treat?  I've been guilty of it myself in the past.  What really made them stick out to me was when they are also listing how they're going to go exercise or how they need to start.  Seriously?  Props to you for getting off your booties and doing some exercise; just realize that going home and eating homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes, mac 'n cheese, and cheesecake isn't going to benefit your exercise regimen.  I have started the new year with a commitment to yoga three times a week and I love it.  I haven't really seen a "change" in my body, but I have certainly noticed how much stronger I feel.  I sleep better and just generally feel better minus the sinus infection I am currently fighting.  There are some great yoga instructors who have made me feel super comfortable and are ready to assist with the "correct" way of the poses.  Hey, I'm trying.  I realized that there was no way I could be all about exercising and feeling great with my family and go home and cook a humongous calorie-loaded meal.  Yes, I'm a proud southern woman who loves her homestyle meals; but I have three other people looking to me to also set an example for a healthy lifestyle.  I decided that I could still make those down-home meals, but I could also make them healthier.  Here's the first recipe with more to come....

Crock-Pot Stuffed Green Peppers

4 large bell peppers with top and insides removed.
2 1/2 lbs of ground turkey
1 medium carrot or parsnip
1 small onion
2 small pieces of bread slightly stale (I used 2 slices of Udi's)
1 tbs salt
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs tarragon
1 can crushed tomatoes

The night before...  to food processor I combined the parsnip or carrot, onion, and bread; processed together to form binding ingredients.  Combined with ground turkey, salt, pepper, and tarragon.  Load inside the green peppers and place in fridge till morning.  The next morning; place peppers inside crock pot and pour can of crushed tomatoes over top.  Turn crock pot on warm or low setting and you'll come home to that great homemade comforting meal without all the work and fat.
Unless it's a holiday or I'm entertaining I don't make super large dinners and I've discovered that if the only sweets/desserts that we have are the ones I make... no one is consistently eating sweets.  There's nothing better than coming home to a comforting homemade meal without a ton of fuss; just fix a great side salad!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do You Waffle?

Isn't it great when you find that one recipe that you know by heart and can manipulate to suit your needs no matter how sweet or savory you want to go?  That recipe for me is in the form of waffles.  Maybe it's because I have two active kiddos, but waffles are great vessel for me.  I can make them sweet or savory; they can be served breakfast, lunch, or dinner; and they can be eaten by themselves or as a sandwich.  They are also a great way to get plenty of protein, energy carbs, fiber, fruit, veggies, and whatever else your body may be needing.  I have been known to add  1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice to my waffle batter to use as sandwiches.  Last night I added lemon zest and juice from half a lemon along with 1/4 cup poppyseeds for a version of waffles; top with yogurt and a drizzle of honey this morning for an energy packed breakfast.  Do you remember my post-Thanksgiving post?  I added left-over smoked turkey and dressing and made a cranberry maple syrup; I get hungry just thinking about it.  Sure, everyone knows to add your favorite fruits or nuts (if non-allergic); but have you ever tried adding a little cardamom along with those blueberries?  They won't disappoint.  For a sweet treat try adding 1 cup melted chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Brand at my house) and top with your favorite berries; it's make a great happy birthday treat in the morning!  You'd be amazed at what your imagination will come up with by thinking outside the box a little bit.  We top our morning waffles with some yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and I always add fresh berries when available.  Lemon Poppyseed waffles with fresh blueberries or mulberries can't be beat!  Go ahead and try one or all of these recipes and let your imagination take off from there.  Don't let plain old blueberry waffles or Fried chicken and waffles rule your recipes....

Here's my basic waffle recipe:

2 cups of your favorite A.P. allergy-friendly flour
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
*Mix dry ingredients well to make sure xantham gum is distributed well.
Add 4 tbs melted butter
3 eggs
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tbs honey.

Follow directions on your waffle maker; This recipe makes 12-14 waffles for my cheapie WM.  I place in freezer bag and heat-up as needed for those busy school and/or soccer mornings!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Change It Up!!

Hello Readers!  I have to admit that I have gotten into a cooking rut; you know how it is when you feel like you're making the same thing over and over.  It is destined to happen to those with allergy/intolerance diets.  I found myself doing what was easiest with pastas and sandwiches.  Easy? yes, Healthy? no.  I knew I could do better, so I cleaned out the fridge and took to the stores.  Two and a half hours later I returned with a much healthier take on our meals.  Although I appreciate Gluten free Rice Krispies, it is not what I want my kiddos eating on a daily basis.  I also put to use a Christmas gift I received.  A family member gave me a clay pot roaster that she bought at an auction.  I had never used one before so I got online to http://www.romertopfonline.us/ to check out my new gift and learn how to take care of it.  After cleaning it up, we decided to put it to use.  I decided to make braised rabbit for our introduction to it.  The rabbits (2) had already been cut up into sections; I drizzled light olive oil, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, and added salt and pepper.  Placed in pre-heated 250 degree oven on roasting convection setting and left alone for 2 1/2 hours.  I have to say that I was very impressed.  I'm hoping to play around with a chicken enchilada-type dish for dinner tonight.  I'll let you know how it plays out.  Changing it up helps so much with a food allergy diet.  It's easy to fall into a routine using the same things over and over.  That's also an easy way to gain weight.  Don't believe the stereotypical gluten-free fad.  Most gluten free items are made with rice flour that turn into sugar in your body.  It's easy to fall in love with all of the gluten free bakery items out there, but make sure you're balancing it out.  As you know, our entire family made the change to an allergy-friendly diet when my daughter was diagnosed.  I try to make it a point to serve at least one vegetarian dish a week.  It's usually a super simple dish such as roasted veggies over wild rice; veggies depend on the season.  In the summer it's much easier for us to eat healthy as we have veggie and herb gardens and a fruit orchard.  The difficulty is not eating those warm, comfort foods like macaroni and cheese every night.  In order to maintain enough fat and protein for an active family; don't forget the beans!  I cook a pot of beans every week and use them as much as possible.  Boil them simply with water or vegetable stock until done.  When cooled; place in freezer container or baggie and take out as much as you need on any given night.  You can add spices and/or veggies to make a great side or main dish.  You can mash them just enough to mix with eggs, flour, and spices to make bean patties to cook on your griddle; my family likes these with a dipping sauce.  You can even place in food processor to make your favorite hummus.  A lot of these recipes are already on my blog; so check them out.  Just remember that doing something as simple as changing your cooking method can open your eyes to entirely new recipes.  Get cooking!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bring On 2012!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and I wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year!  Have you started your New Year's Resolutions yet?  I have already started on mine!  My New Year's Resolutions are to make more time for myself; no really.  I've already started that in the way of Yoga.....and I am thoroughly enjoying it and look forward to every class.  I'm also making a commitment to my writing.  I've been doing a lot of interviews lately and getting a lot of encouragement for the book; it's great to here and I am really going to try to commit to it.  Even if I have to wait and do my writing after the kids are in bed or change my schedule to allow more "me" time in the morning.  Probably not going to be the latter, but you never know.  Make sure you all check out the upcoming issue of Kiwi Magazine..growing families the natural way.  The next issue has an article featuring food allergies, and even includes a little about our family.  I even have a New Year's Resolution regarding food allergies; to make more time for baking.  I love to bake and have felt disconnected from it for long enough!  Our family has been food allergy friendly for over a year now and there really is not an excuse to be had.  When people ask me how I do it; How do I not?  You just make the time, and it's time I make the time for all that bread making!  This is where I plan to start.....

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2 Tb. butter
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tb. instant yeast
  • 1/4 c. sorghum flour
  • 1/2 c. millet flour
  • 3/4 c. corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 – 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 pieces bacon cooked & crumbled (optional)
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • about 2 Tb. maple syrup
Warm milk and add yeast; leave to activate.  Combine dry ingredients; make sure to sift well.  Stir in wet ingredients and yeast mixture; do not over mix.   Place dough mixture between two pieces of buttered wax paper and roll into rectangle, remove top piece of wax paper and sprinkle filling evenly throughout.  Using bottom piece of wax paper to assist; begin initiating "the roll".  It should roll pretty easily.  Cut into slices and place in baking dish at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Pour glaze over top when cinnamon rolls are done.  

You should end up with at least 8 cinnamon rolls.  Try to go ahead and make the time to make multiple batches, It's worth it.