Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Being Thankful

I recently started practicing a form of power yoga called Baptiste. Baptiste yoga focuses on the integration of the mind, body and soul. It combines vinyasa yoga, where the poses flow from one to another in a sequence, and personal empowerment that keeps you focused on making positive choices in your life.

Having to cook from scratch so often I usually overlook the positive choices I make in my life daily. Whole eating, or something close to that… Fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and unprocessed meats – all things that offer me nourishment and health.

The journey I’m on today has caused me to pause for a moment and be thankful for my food limitations and the positive life they are giving me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

There are many nights when I’m in the mood for a hearty pasta dish but only have around 45 minutes to spare. On these nights, one of my go-to-meals is spaghetti with an easy meat sauce. This can be made with ground beef, pork or turkey. The red wine really helps to add flavor and depth while the basil brings a nice freshness. When choosing a store bought tomato sauce, I’m a fan of Classico. It’s both gluten & dairy-free and it really has a pleasant taste and texture.

Serves 4
start to finish: 45 minutes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, pork or turkey
  • ⅓ cup red wine
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 32 oz jar of Classico tomato sauce, (I used tomato & basil)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning (blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and savory)
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • garlic salt and black pepper to taste
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 16 oz. brown rice pasta

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Mix in the ground beef and continue cooking and stirring until the meat is brown and crumbled, about 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and allow to cook until the wine has nearly evaporated.

Stir in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, thyme, red pepper flakes. Mix well, then season with garlic salt and pepper. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add fresh basil and additional garlic salt and pepper (if needed).

Serve over cooked pasta and enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stella's Lounge

Jon and I meant up with another couple this past weekend, for a night out in GR. We started our evening at Stella's Lounge, the perfect punk bar to chill and dine.

The interior is very dark with unique murals painted on the walls. Diner style tables and chairs line the floor and a mini vintage arcade is located at the back. They have a well stocked jukebox and a full service bar.

The service was impeccable. The staff seemed very familiar with food allergies and anytime they did not know the answer to a question they made sure to double check with the chef.

The menu features mostly vegan cuisine, with the exception of their cheese stuffed burgers (which I am told are amazing). Currently they only have 3 completely gluten & dairy-free items on their menu… But they are worth it! Vegan chili, hearty and filling with a little kick of heat. Vegan coleslaw, creamy and crunchy with a lot of dill to enjoy. Vegan nachos, corn tortillas piled high with beans, vegan sausage, vegan cheese, lettuce, fresh pico de gallo & avocado. Amazing!

The prices are very competitive for the portion size and you won't leave hungry.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Roasted Pepper Sauce with Pasta

Over the past few months I have been taking the time to oven roast vegetables. It’s a very easy thing to do and the flavor is amazing. This week I decided to create a Roasted Pepper Sauce that is versatile, easy and bursting with flavor. The red peppers create a light and sweet taste while the jalapeño adds a nice warmth without overpowering. This sauce can be used over pasta or drizzled over meats and vegetables. If you are pressed for time, peppers can be roasted in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Enjoy!

note: If you don’t appreciate a little heat just skip adding in the jalapeno. :)

Serves 4
start to finish: 30 minutes (not including the roasting time for the peppers)
  • 3 large roasted sweet bell peppers, chopped (I used 2 red, 1 yellow) about 3 cups
  • 1 large roasted poblano pepper, chopped about 1 cup
  • 1 roasted jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 10 basil leaves
  • ½ tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 14 oz. brown rice pasta, fettuccine style

Combine roasted bell peppers, poblano, jalapeño, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, basil, and salt and pepper into a blender. Blend until sauce has a smooth consistency. note: add a little cooked pasta water to the sauce if it feels too thick

Transfer the pepper sauce into a large saute pan and warm over low heat, while pasta cooks.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until pasta is al dente, drain pasta and toss with roasted pepper sauce. Garish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

To oven roast peppers:
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lightly coat bell, poblano and jalapeño peppers with olive oil. Slice peppers in half, lengthwise, remove seeds and place skin side up in casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until the skins blacken and blister. Remove from oven and place peppers in a plastic bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow peppers to cool and then remove all skins. If you desire more heat, do not remove the seeds from the jalapeño.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Smooth Dave Hummus

SmoothDaveHamm, this hummus is just for you. It’s basic but still delicious. I hope you enjoy. :)

start to finish: 10 minutes
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2–4 garlic cloves, smashed (depending on your taste)
  • 4 lemons, juiced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans (if using caned beans, rinse well and drain)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)

Combine tahini paste, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice into a food processor. Blend together well. Add in garbanzo beans, water, garlic salt, pepper and lemon zest. Blend until hummus is a smooth consistency (2–3 minutes). Note: you can add more water if it seems too thick, if it isn’t thick enough add a few more beans until you reach your desired consistency. Optional: Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle with olive oil and parsley and serve.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pan-Seared Tuna

The true beauty about this meal is that it only takes 10 minutes to make. If you enjoy fish, this is a very easy recipe and tuna steaks are a nice alternative to chicken or beef. They can be prepared very rare, are easily flavored and they can be grilled or pan seared. The bonus: they are good for you!

Serves 2
start to finish: 10 min
  • 20 green olives, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 garden tomatoes, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 5 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 6oz tuna steaks
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl mix together the olives, tomatoes, parsley, 2 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice.

Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan, on high. Add the tuna steaks and sear for 1 minute, on one side. Turn the steaks over, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 3 minutes.

Plate tuna and top with olive and tomato mixture. Serve with a salad and gluten-free bread.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brick Road Pizza

This past Saturday Jon and I decided to head out to the Brick Road Pizza Co. for dinner. It’s a laid-back hipster environment, that features live music from time to time and makes great tasting fare, including gluten & diary-free pizza. :) I love it. Pizza in GR that I can eat and that I didn’t make myself! It really can not get anymore awesome.

Their menu is quite extensive and includes soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, a large selection of Vegan options and pizza. The gluten & dairy-free pizza is quite delicious. The crust is thin and can be topped with about anything you can imagine. My favorite pizza is topped with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, artichoke hearts, banana peppers and the tangy house marinara (one of the best I’ve had).

Now for those with severe gluten sensitivities, simply eating prepared food at any restaurant that has gluten present might not be an option for you. But if your tolerance isn’t quite that extreme than this is definitely the place to go.

To help assure that your pizza remains as gluten-free as possible (in a gluten environment) they place each pizza crust into it’s very own pie tin to help prevent it from coming into contact with the oven’s cooking surface. Great idea. Thank you Brick Road.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mixed Bean & Lemon Hummus

One of my favorite go-to-recipes is hummus. Always incredible, always tasty and definitely filling. But sometimes you need to mix it up a bit and give your taste buds a new flavor profile to consider. So this afternoon I decided to make a mixed bean and lemon hummus. The great thing about this recipe is that you can add more of what you like (perhaps garlic) or less of the things you don’t like (maybe red pepper flakes). It’s so easy to customize and still tastes delicious.
  • 2 cups cooked beans (choose any variety of beans you enjoy)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (or tahini paste)
  • 7 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons, juiced (about 4 tbsp)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 20 stems cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 5 stems parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the beans, olive oil, sesame oil, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, garlic salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice into a food processor. Blend to a puree. Add in cilantro, parsley and lemon zest. Blend to combine. Note: you can add a bit of water if it seems too thick, if it isn’t thick enough add a few more beans until you reach your desired consistency.
Optional: Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle extra olive oil and cilantro.

Serve with fresh cut veggies and warmed corn tortillas.

Gluten-Free Bread, Crusty Boule

I have spent a lot of time over the past several years trying different bread recipes from cookbooks and blogs. Most of the bread I’ve run across is usually pretty dense and the consistency can be somewhat questionable. Of all my exploration, so far, this is the best gluten-free bread recipe I’ve found. The bread is still on the dense side, but the texture and taste are wonderful and for a moment you will think, “Wow, this can't be gluten-free bread!”

Gluten-Free Crusty Boule by Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes enough dough for at least four 1-lb loaves.
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1½ cups sorghum flour
  • 3 cups tapioca starch (flour)
  • 2 tbsp granulated yeast (I use Red Star Active Dry Yeast)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp xanthan gum
  • 2⅔ cups lukewarm water
  • 4 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup neutral-flavored oil (I use olive oil and enjoy the taste it adds)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  1. Whisk together the flours, tapioca starch, yeast, salt, xanthan gum in a 5-quart heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).
  2. Combine the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl and gradually mix them with the dry ingredients, using a spoon, until all of the dry ingredients are well incorporated.
  3. Cover (not airtight, I usually throw a clean kitchen towel over the top) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises, approximately 2 hours.
  4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days. The flavor will be best if you wait for at least 24 hours.
  5. On baking day, use wet hands to take out a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of refrigerated dough. Quickly shape into a ball and just gently press it into a shape. You might need to wet your hands a little to prevent the dough from sticking and to create a smooth surface, but don’t use too much water as to make the dough soggy.
  6. Allow the dough to rest, loosely covered with plastic, on a greased cookie sheet lined with parchment, for 90 minutes. (40 minutes if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough)
  7. 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  8. Just before baking, slash the loaf with ¼ inch deep parallel cuts, using a serrated knife.
  9. Slide the loaf, on the baking sheet, into the oven and bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm. Remove the parchment paper and baking sheet ⅔ of the way through the baking and place the loaf on the oven rack for the remaining bake time.
  10. Allow to cool on a rack before slicing or eating.