Modifying Original Recipes to Fit Your Needs!

A blog about healthy eating, healthy living and happiness. Join me and I'll show you how easy it is to substitute, modify and enhance your favorite recipes to accommodate your special diet, all without missing a thing!

December 29, 2011


Larabars... have you heard of them? Of course you have because they can be found in any grocery/health food store, are gluten-free, vegan and contain all raw ingredients. Bring on the health!

These bars come in so many different flavor combinations, you'll never get sick of them, in fact, you may just want to have one in every location where snacking tends to take place... the office, car, your purse, backpack, gym bag... you get the picture :-)

They aren't as sweet as most bars out there because they don't have any added sugar, a major bonus since most things we buy have sugar added (in any form). The sweetness you'll taste comes from healthy dates and any other fruit that they pack into these amazing nutritious treats.

My personal favorites are Cashew Cookie and Blueberry Muffin. Give them all a try and you'll have your favorites soon enough!

La Tortilla Factory Gluten Free Ivory Teff Wrap

Yet another product that fits into the "well...there goes that" theory. These wraps are a bit expensive (in my opinion) for the number you get in the package, but let me tell you, they are worth it!

You'll be jumping for joy when you purchase these - a wrap so large, delicious and good for so many uses! Here are just a few examples...

Teff Chips
Sweet and Savory Quesadilla
Ooey Gooey Quesadillas, Dairy Free!

They also work great for burritos and lunchtime sandwich wraps!

Okay... after showing you so many delicious ways to use these wraps I do feel a little bad about ragging on the price... to make up for it let me share with you that you can find these at your local King Soopers - no natural food store hunting anymore, woo hoo!

For the ingredient list and the nutritional info visit the product page here.

Sandwich Petals

Let me first explain to you how ecstatic I was when I first came across these Sandwich Petals... ya know that feeling you had when you were a little kid on Christmas morning and you opened the present that you had been hoping for since the Christmas one year earlier? Yeah... it was kind of like that.

I was on a losing streak of trying to make homemade tortillas that were flexible and had no breakage when used for a wrap, especially past the day of making them. It was because of this losing streak that my excitement level for this product was so high. These Sandwich Petals come in three flavors - Spinach Garlic Pesto, Chimayo Red Chile and Agave Grain (original). Surprisingly, the original is the only one I have yet to try. The Spinach Garlic Pesto and the Chimayo Red Chile are equally delicious but bring different flavor profiles to suit the meal or snack you are making. These petals are flexible, won't crack and make great chips! (To make the chips - lightly brush with olive oil, use a pizza cutter to slice into triangle shapes and bake at 350 for 6 - 8 minutes.)

In addition to their great flavor, they are super healthy! They may be hard to find, I've only had luck buying them at Vitamin Cottage but as you can see on their site they do have free shipping! So tomorrow you're going to do to what? That's right... go purchase yourself some Sandwich Petals ;-)

EnerG Foods Yeast Free Brown Rice Loaf

I know what you must be thinking... "Really?! Another yeast-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free store-bought bread?!"

Yes my friends, it is true.

This loaf is a much better fit for sandwiches than the previously mentioned Brown Rice loaf. It is much lighter, more flexible and is great toasted or not. The flavor may take some getting used to, but heck, almost any "anything-free" food takes more than one bite before you fall in love with it. The taste of this loaf resembles sourdough bread but with the right additions you can make it delicious! Try the Classic BLTs I made using this product!

This bread, as with any gluten free bread, stays fresh for much less time than a typical bread. What I like to do is take half the loaf and freeze it for later use. The easiest way to do this is to wrap two pieces at a time in foil. This way when you go to grab your bread from the freezer the portion you want is ready to be popped into the microwave, or placed in the fridge to thaw the night before you plan to eat it. I know, I know... good thinking Melaina!

For the full ingredient list and to find other great products from the Ener-G brand visit their site here.

Food for Life Yeast Free, Wheat, & Gluten Free Brown Rice Bread

Ahhh bread... it is quite a luxury when you are gluten-free, dairy-free, and especially yeast-free. I'm sharing this product with you because it truly fits the "well...there goes that" theory I discuss on the main Product Reviews page. Specialty items such as this one tend to be twice the price of their allergy-ridden counterparts, and I strongly believe you have the right to know about the product before you spend twice the dough (no pun intended).

After searching high and low for these "specialty" breads online, reading many ingredient lists in the freezer section of natural food stores, and with the help of a lovely lady at Vitamin Cottage, I found this yeast-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free bread. Whew!

When you pick up the loaf out of the freezer you'll be a bit surprised at the density. This loaf is heavy - plain and simple. It seems like a great thing because you assume there must be tons of protein and fiber in there... right? Well, as with any gluten-free (store-bought) bread, there isn't much of either in these slices. But don't get too upset... if you top it with a nut butter and a banana you'll be ready to tackle the morning! Check out how I do it in my Simple Fulfilling Rice Toast with Sunbutter & Banana.

I haven't tried this bread without toasting it. I haven't tried it for a sandwich. I created a delicious breakfast that I have at least twice a week and I'm stickin' to it! The reason for this is because the slices are a bit dry and inflexible. Give the sandwich idea a try and let me know how it goes, or make the amazing breakfast mentioned earlier and you may not be worried about a sandwich at all ;-)

This bread, as with any gluten free bread, stays fresh for much less time than a typical bread. What I like to do is take half the loaf and freeze it for later use. The easiest way to do this is to wrap two pieces at a time in foil. This way when you go to grab your bread from the freezer the portion you want is ready to be popped into the microwave, or placed in the fridge to thaw the night before you plan to eat it. I know, I know... good thinking Melaina!

For more information on the Food for Life brand and on this bread loaf click here.

Enjoy Life Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies

If you've had traditional home made snickerdoodle cookies (in your earlier life where food allergies/sensitivities were not a problem) you know how incredibly, melt-in-your-mouth-good they can be. Enjoy Life's version is a bit sweeter and tastes like what might be if a gingerbread cookie and a snickerdoodle had a cookie baby (haaa what an analogy!) 

These cookies are soft and hold true to that melt-in-your-mouth texture you remember. The whole line of soft-baked cookies, along with the ingredient and nutritional info can be found on the product page here.

Give these little treats a try, but be warned, it's hard to limit yourself to just two!

Enjoy Life Cocoa Loco Chewy Bars

These bars are delicious, dense and definitely satisfy that chocolate craving. Don't be disappointed when you open the wrapper... the bar is pretty small but eat it slowly and in small bites and you'll be fulfilled!

They are a great dessert, which is when I usually eat them, but would be great to stash in your purse or car for a quick go-to snack.

Enjoy Life has several other similar bars that you can find here. While I haven't tried the others yet, I'm sure they are just as great as this one! You can visit the product page for the ingredient list and nutritional info on the Cocoa Loco bar.

Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax Cereal

The best way to describe this cereal is to have you think of Grape Nuts. If you haven't always been gluten free there's a chance you've had them... a crunchy, cracker-tasting cereal that goes well with any topping you put on it. This Flax Cereal is plain enough for a snack or to add to granola, but most importantly makes a great breakfast cereal that truly does hold you over until lunch. Another great thing is that it is rice-free. If you have to avoid gluten and dairy (and probably several other foods), rice tends to be in almost everything you eat. For a brief break from rice, try this cereal!

With 3/4 cup as the serving size it packs 7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber into your morning routine. Enjoy it my favorite way as revamped morning cereal and you'll be hooked!

Tofu Spinach Lasagna

I'd heard it done before, but it still sounded a bit weird... turning tofu into ricotta? Hmm... I had to try this out for myself.

I found this recipe on the lovely Whole Foods website. Seemed pretty simple and I had most of the ingredients, so with the following minor substitutions this lasagna was born...

Ingredients (with my substitutions)
1 (14-ounce) package soft tofu (not silken), drained 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 large onion, finely chopped 
1/2 pound italian sausage
14 oz package button mushrooms 
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
12 oz package frozen cut spinach 
2 cups tomato or marinara sauce 
2 eggs, beaten 
1 tbsp potato flour
1 (16-ounce) package gluten-free lasagna noodles (I use DeBoles - they are precooked!)

To Prepare
For the filling, coarsely crumble tofu onto a lint-free dish towel. Wrap tofu in the towel and lightly press out excess moisture; set aside. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add italian sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until mostly cooked through. Add mushrooms, garlic, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper and spinach, cook until spinach has fully thawed (about 10 minutes). Add a heaping spoonful of the marinara sauce and stir to incorporate. 

Whisk eggs and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Add potato flour and whisk until well blended and slightly thickened. Unwrap tofu, crumble it into small pieces and add it to egg mixture. Stir well; set aside.

If you are using precooked noodles move to the next step. If your lasagna noodles are not precooked, cook noodles according to package directions in salted boiling water, but reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes. The noodles should be slightly firm, as they will continue cooking in the oven. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Begin assembling the lasagna: ladle a spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spread it out evenly. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Place 1/2 of the tofu mixture on the lasagna sheets along with about a 1/2 of the sausage/spinach/mushroom mixture, distributing it evenly. Repeat layering one more time with 3 lasagna noodles, the rest of the tofu mixture and the sausage mixture. Finish by covering the top layer with shredded mozzarella (if you tolerate dairy) or, my favorite, use Diaya Mozzarella Style Shreds. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove foil and turn on broiler for 2-3 minutes until cheese just begins to brown. Remove from oven, set aside uncovered and let stand about 5 minutes, then slice and serve. 

As there isn't much sauce in the lasagna itself I heated about 1 cup marinara sauce to top each slice when plated. Make a simple salad to accompany this dish and there you have it - Tofu Spinach Lasagna! Mmm Mmmm so good!

Side note: I didn't tell my roommate there was tofu in it (because I knew he wouldn't eat it) and ya know what he repeatedly had to say about it? "This is really good!" Give this recipe a try and don't tell your guests what the filling is... I promise they'll never know! ;-)

December 24, 2011

Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Crunch Granola

I have to be honest, this granola is better as a crunchy, grab-a-handful-and-sit-on-the-couch kind of snack. The times I tried it with a diary free milk, it was okay but I definitely preferred it dry. It is rather crunchy but also sweet and filled with chocolate flavor so it satisfies both sides of the "snack" realm.

The best part of this delicious snack is that it packs 3 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving (1/2 cup). So it is not only satisfying but also meets my nutritional requirements for a proper snack.

You can find it at any health food store and expect to pay between $4.00 and $5.00 per bag.

For the ingredient list and more allergen info you can visit the product page here.

December 23, 2011

Sweet and Savory Quesadilla

The inspiration for this sweet and savory quesadilla came from the apple and brie mix you often hear about or indulge in over the holidays. I had been cleaning up the house all morning and then squeezed in a little weight lifting session. After all that and several hours post breakfast I was starving and looking for that one particular taste that would satisfy my hunger.

What better than a quesadilla?! Now, I have talked about my ooey qooey quesadillas before but that is more of a dinner dish, a bit heavier and much richer in flavor. What I wanted for lunch was something light but satisfying... the amazing combination I came up with includes a ripe pear, Diaya Mozzarella (dairy free cheese) and a few slices of ham.

How to prepare this delicious snack:
You can use whatever gluten free tortilla you prefer, my fallback is La Tortilla Factory Ivory Teff Wraps. The best way to make it flexible for the quesadilla is to warm it in the microwave for 15 - 20 seconds.

Next, cover half of the tortilla with your Diaya Mozzarella Style Shreds. Lay 2 - 3 ham slices on top of the cheese and lightly salt & pepper. Thinly slice the pear into pieces and place as many as will fit on top of the ham (feel free to snack on the extra pear slices and you are cooking your quesadilla!) Add a little more of the cheese on top of the pear and fold over the other half of the tortilla.

Warm a medium skillet and lightly butter the pan and the top of your tortilla. Carefully place the quesadilla in your pan for about 3 minutes. Grab a spatula and quickly (but carefully) flip. The quesadilla is ready when each side is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Cut the quesadilla into 3 slices and you are ready to chow down!

Halfway through the first slice I got a sweet idea... agave nectar! Pour 1-2 tsp on your plate for a sweet and simple dip!

December 19, 2011

Banana Berry Protein Cakes

 As you may have noticed with the last few posts... I have been experimenting with ways to add more protein to my diet. The truth is... I need to gain weight. I know... what a burden right? Most people would say, "I'd love to be in your shoes!" or as my dear friend said the other night, "Oh, you poor thing."

Let me share with you a little background...

Ever since my tummy troubles began about... 4 years ago, my eating patterns (obviously) changed. With that came a loss in weight.. and let me tell you that being 5'2", a healthy eater and a lover of fitness and exercise... there isn't a whole lot of weight to be lost in the first place. Anyway, as the pain got worse I continued losing weight. Not to fear! I did gain some back and was holding steady for several months, still underweight but only by about 5 pounds. Then, once I discovered my food intolerances and had to cut even more things from my diet, my weight dipped about 2 pounds, which is where I have been holding for sometime.

The point being... extra calories and protein are what my body is calling for and that's exactly what I'm trying to give it.

In search of these types of snacking recipes, I stumbled upon the Healthful Pursuit website a few weeks ago and have been obsessed with it ever since. The pictures of Leanne's recipes are irresistibly beautiful and absolutely charming. I had made her Chocolate Jam Packed Protein Cake about a week ago and slightly overcooked it leaving it a bit dry. Determined to create something as delicious and protein packed as her pictures depict, I continued searching her Recipage and decided to make her Grain Free Vanilla Berry Protein Cake. I wasn't thrilled about using egg whites so I spun my creative baking wheels and came up with this...

Banana Berry Protein Cakes (makes one cake, or double the recipe for 2)
1/4 c ripened mashed banana
2 tbsp hemp protein powder
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp melted coconut oil
2 - 3 tbsp apple sauce (start with 2, add 1 more if the batter seems stiff and dry)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 c frozen blueberries
turbinado sugar for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly spray a ramekin or a 1 cup oven safe dish with canola oil, set aside. Combine all ingredients except blueberries in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Fold in the blueberries and put into your oven safe dish. Top with turbinado sugar if you so please and bake for 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick for doneness. The cakes will seem a bit soft but if the toothpick is clean they are done. Leave the cakes in the ramekins and let cool on a wire rick. Eat immediately or cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for a healthy, delicious and protein filled snack whenever your heart desires!

The texture of this cake is soft, sort of like a flourless chocolate cake mixed with a mousse.

Hemp protein powder can be a bit grainy in texture but once you have it a few times you won't notice it. You can purchase this protein at any health food store, it may be green in color (as mine is) or may be white, which will make your cake a bit more appealing to the eye. If you don't have hemp or don't like it, feel free to use any other protein powder you have.

You can also sub in any other fruit puree for the mashed banana, and any frozen fruit can be used in addition to or in place of the blueberries. Let your mind wander and create something delicious!

Enjoy! I know I sure will! (Also, be sure to visit the Healthful Pursuit website for other amazing recipes!)

December 16, 2011

Protein Packed Purple Smoothie

The idea for this smoothie came about this morning, knowing I needed a healthy protein packed snack after my mid morning cardio workout. I usually have to plan what my post-workout snacks are going to be ahead of time because after my cardio sessions, nothing sounds all that delicious. I have also found that planning or at least thinking about what you'll refuel with ahead of time leaves you feeling better during and after you've eaten the snack.

Here's what you'll need for this protein packed snack:
1 tbsp chia seed
1 c vanilla hemp milk
1/2 frozen ripe banana 
1 c greens (I used romaine lettuce)
3/4 c frozen blueberries
3 tbsp hemp protein powder

For this smoothie, you'll need to do just a bit of prep work, but it will be well worth it in the end! Are you ready?

Mix the chia seed and 1/3 c hemp milk in a bowl. Place in the fridge. (Yup, that's it!)
I let mine sit for about 2 hours, you don't need to wait this long but make sure to let it sit at least 15 minutes so that the chia begins to form a gel. It works great to throw this together before your workout, put it in the fridge, and it will be ready when you get home!

To Prepare the Smoothie
When you get home and are ready to make the smoothie, throw the chia gel and the rest of the ingredients (including the remaining 2/3 c hemp milk) into the blender and mix until smooth. The consistency of this smoothie is pretty thick (I actually ate mine with a spoon!). If you aren't a fan of super thick smoothies add extra hemp milk, juice or water until you reach the thickness you like. 

Now, to please those of you who always like to know the nutrition info on what you are eating, and because I'm claiming this smoothie as being "protein packed", I thought I'd break it down for you.

Hemp milk - 3g
Chia seed - 3 g
Hemp protein powder - 11g
Total Protein = 17 grams

Chia seed - 5g
Blueberries - 4g
1/2 Banana - 2g
Total Fiber = 12 grams

Go ahead and cheer... I already know you are ;-)

To break it down even further... my workout consisted of a 20 minute cardio challenge on the stationary bike followed by 15 minutes of inclined running on the treadmill followed by a 5 minute cool-down walk. With a total of 40 minutes of cardio and 17 grams of protein in this smoothie... that means I got just about 2 grams of protein for every 3 minutes I worked out. How's that for a post workout snack?? 

Protein up and enjoy!

December 12, 2011

Cocoa Quinoa Chia Muffins

Have you ever eaten something so delicious and rich in flavor but had that thought in the back of your mind, "I'll work it off tomorrow"? Of course you have.

Have you ever eaten something so delicious and rich in flavor and knew that you could even have two if you wanted because of how many health benefits it had? You have now!

I purchased a bag of chia seed about a month ago and have been on the hunt for different ways of using it beyond the typical chia pudding. 

After some googling and linking to different blogs, I found the original recipe for these muffins here. Seeing as how I didn't have mesquite flour and hadn't the slightest idea of where I could find it AND didn't have the patience to wait another day.. I decided to try some substitutions, and here is what I came up with...

1/4 c coconut flour
*1/4 c quinoa flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 c chia seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c white sugar

Ener-G Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (or 2 eggs if tolerated, I'm sure you could use flax eggs or chia eggs)
1/2 c + 1 tbsp vanilla hemp milk (I use Pacific Foods brand)

To Prepare
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Make your egg replacer, whisk until frothy and add to the dry ingredients, add hemp milk and stir until all ingredients are mixed together. You should get a mousse-like texture. Lightly spray 6 sections of a muffin pan with canola oil (or use paper liners). Fill each section as close to the top as you can, wet fingers and smooth out the tops. Sprinkle a dash of turbinado sugar on top for a sweet crunch (optional). Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. 

These muffins are great warm or cold, they can be kept in an air tight container or plastic bag on the counter for about 4 days, then I would suggest keeping them in the refrigerator. These are perfect for a mid-morning snack, delicious as a dessert or a great way to lightly fill you up before bed. Top with soy ice cream or berries for a real treat ;-)

These are so satisfying that you'll start to crave them as soon as you run out! (Trust me, I've made the recipe about 4 times now in the last 3 weeks... and yes I do share them). 

*As far as substituting the quinoa flour, you can use more cocoa, carob powder (the cocoa and carob mix is delicious), quinoa flakes will work but make the muffins a bit more crumbly. Amaranth flour will allow for added protein and a denser muffin. I'm sure rice flour/sorghum flour would work but would also probably create a more crumbly, less stable muffin. 

**Adding dried fruit at the end would be a wonderful idea, particularly dried blueberries/cherries! 

Give these a try and let me know what you think! And most of all... enjoy these healthy yet sinful little treats!

December 11, 2011

Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese

I have to be honest... I was a little skeptical of how this recipe would turn out when I first started making it. But guess what? It turned out fantastic!

The plan for dinner was to make homemade mac 'n' cheese for the boyfriend and roommate, and to make a gluten and dairy free version for myself. Sounds like a great plan right? I thought so ;-) Here's what you'll need...

1/2 c rice milk
1/2 c dairy free cheese (I used Diaya Vegan Cheese, the cheddar version)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp herb de provence (or another spice mix you like)
salt & pepper to taste
*1/2 tsp nutritional yeast

**your choice of protein (optional)

2-3 oz gluten free pasta (I think a shorter pasta works better to hold the sauce rather than spaghetti, I used DeBoles Brown Rice Spirals)

To Prepare
Cook pasta according to package directions (be careful not to overcook, gluten free noodles tend to get mushy when over cooked). As the pasta cooks slowly heat the rice milk in a small pot over medium heat. When you start to notice the milk bubbling on the sides, turn the heat to low and add the cheese. Mix with a whisk until the cheese has fully melted. Turn off heat. Add the spices and nutritional yeast, adjust amounts to suit your tastes. Drain the pasta and add to the cheese sauce, mix until noodles are covered in that creamy deliciousness. Add in whatever protein you are using and you are ready to serve! This dish is great with a side salad or any vegetable of your liking.

*If you are on a diet that doesn't allow for yeast or are worried about the nutritional yeast in this recipe, let me say from experience that I didn't experience any side affects of adding the yeast to this sauce. I had to eliminate yeast from my diet for 3 months and still try to avoid yeast breads but I found this nutritional yeast to be just fine! It is a deactivated yeast and is a great source of protein and vitamins. The taste is cheesy and slightly resembles the powdered cheese that comes in those box mac 'n' cheese versions. If you are still skeptical, the Diaya cheese will provide enough of that cheesy flavor to the sauce but if you are a bit daring, give the nutritional yeast a try!

**I added some leftover sausage we had in the fridge for a protein boost, feel free to add whatever protein you like. Grilled chicken, meatballs/crumbled beef, or italian sausage would all be great! 

December 8, 2011

Nutritional Powerhouse Bites

These are truly the most amazing little "bites" you'll ever have! They are so simple to make, very versatile and can be made with almost any dried fruit mix you have on hand, and can have as many additions as you want! So what are they to be such a "powerhouse"?

Nutritional Powerhouse Bites
14 dried figs
10 dried apricots
1/4 c walnuts
1 tbsp chia seed
1 tbsp sunbutter (or any nut butter you have on hand)
1 - 2 tbsp dairy free chocolate chips (or chop up some dark chocolate for even more superfood power!)
a touch of water as needed

Place all ingredients in your food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are fairly chopped and mixed together. Take off the lid and check the consistency... you want it to be pulling away from the sides, and able to stick together if you pick some up with your fingers. If it's not quite there add 1/2 tbsp water at a time until you get to the right "sticky-point". Use a spoon to take out about 1-2 tbsp of the mix and form a ball in your hand, they should be just smaller than a golf ball - using this approximate size I came out with 10 balls. Put the balls into an air-tight container or a plate covered with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator (they will hold together better this way).
*I couldn't wait for them to cool, I had one... and then another one right after making them ;-)*

Suggestions for Additions/Substitutions
*Any nut would be great in place of or in addition to the walnuts.
*Dried figs are a great base because they are naturally sticky, but any dried fruit (or mix of fruit) would pair beautifully! ...Mango, pineapple, cranberries, blueberries... the options are endless!
*Any nut butter can be used in place of the Sunbutter, you might also give mashed banana or pumpkin a try!
*I love the chia seed because it is so great for the body but it is a bit expensive. Substituting flaxseed would keep those Omega-3s, fiber and protein benefits and still provide many vitamins and minerals.
*If you want to add even more of a boost you could add other seeds like sunflower or pumpkin. And if you are feeling adventurous add some protein powder - though I would stick with only 1 tbsp and would add an equal amount of a "wet" ingredient (i.e. nut butter, banana, juice may even work!)

Now that you know how to make them, do it... now! You won't regret it, I promise! Then once you have made them you can come back here and read about how much your body will appreciate you for eating these delicious and nutritious little bites.

Can these really be called nutritional powerhouse bites?
YES! And here is why...

Figs: A great source of fiber and B vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, selenium, copper, and zinc. B vitamins help metabolize carbs, proteins & fats. Calcium is great for our bones, potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and heart function, iron is a mineral that almost everyone is deficient in so you can never get enough!

Apricots: Another good source of fiber, full of vitamin A which helps with vision and combats free radical damage, and because of their rich color they are a great source of beta carotene.

Walnuts: A great source of protein, healthy Omega-3s and vitamin E. Walnuts have continued to move higher on the ladder of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits which help to protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes. Whew!

Chia Seed: Chia is the new craze! It is a great source of fiber and protein, has high amounts of Omega-3s, contains antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals, and not to mention is gluten free! They are easily digested, have been shown to increase energy, aid metabolism, and help with regularity. *Chia seeds are also great for athletes as they can prolong hydration and help our bodies to retain electrolytes. (For more info and recipe ideas click here!)

Sunbutter: Another great source of protein and an alternative to peanut butter. It contains 27% of your daily allowance of vitamin E, and is also high in iron and fiber.

Chocolate Chips: Good for the soul! If you use dark chocolate, you are really getting that superfood power as dark chocolate is packed full of antioxidants and has also been shown to lower blood pressure.

Convinced?? I thought so! Now go make these (or whatever version you would like) and eat them guiltlessly as a snack, dessert or as a delightful addition to any meal!

December 3, 2011

Gluten Free Yeast Free Bread Loaf

I have to start this out by saying one thing... if you are on a starch-free or reduced carb diet... QUIT IT and go make this bread now!!! Bread is a luxury for those of us who are gluten, dairy and yeast free and when you find a recipe that resembles real bread in taste and texture... all bets are off ;-)

I have been waiting for the opportunity to make this bread for a few weeks now but today was the day! Saturday morning... not a ton of homework but a ton of snow outside... what better situation than to bake?!

I found this recipe on the Celiac Chicks website, and was overjoyed to see their beautiful picture of a sturdy-looking, tall-risen loaf of yeast free bread. Although this bread did take a bit more prep time than your typical flatbread or muffin recipe... As I smell it cooking in the oven I know it is worth it. You can find the original recipe here, but here it is with my modifications:

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 c potato starch
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c ground flaxseed
1/2 c hazelnut meal/flour
1/2 c potato flour (this is actual potato flour, different from potato starch mentioned above)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients
2 c water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Extra water as needed

To Prepare
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and lightly flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 bread pan, set aside. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix, adding the extra water as needed, until the dough forms a ball that doesn't stick to the sides of the mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bread pan and smooth out to fill entire pan. Lightly wet your hands to evenly flatten the dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and lightly spray with canola oil. Cover the bread pan with foil and cook for 60 minutes. Remove foil and cook another 10 - 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the dough is fully cooked (insert a thin knife into loaf, if it comes out completely clean the bread is done). Let loaf cool in pan for a few minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

*My original thought in using a smaller loaf pan was to half the recipe... It seemed like the perfect amount of dough when I first put it in the pan but as there is no yeast, it really didn't rise at all - this may also have been because of my substitutions. The loaf ended up working perfectly in the end once I discovered a different way of slicing it! - However, for your first attempt I do recommend using the full recipe (as listed above).
**This bread is absolutely delish fresh from the oven or slightly toasted. As with most gluten free baked goods it will dry out after more than a few days. I would recommend cutting the whole loaf into pieces once cooled, and freezing half for later use.

Be sure to leave comments if you try this recipe or the original or if you make any further modifications!

December 2, 2011

Roasted Veggie Pepperoni Pasta

This was definitely one of those... spur of the moment dinners.

I can't, well I try to avoid serving something for dinner that *gasp* doesn't have any meat. My boyfriend and our roommate well, if there isn't meat they are back in the kitchen in less than the usual time after we've finished dinner. (Yes... I'm saying they are grazers ;-))

I got home from a long day at school and had pasta on the mind. Perfect! A quick and easy dinner... but wait, it's the end of the week and we're running low on any meat besides chicken.. but wait! There is still some pepperoni in the fridge from our homemade pizzas a few nights earlier.. great! But it still needed something else... and to satisfy the boys without satisfying the cook... well that would just be wrong! What better way to satisfy the cook (*cough* me**) than to load the pasta with veggies!!

I decided to try a new way of cooking frozen vegetables rather than the typical steaming method.. and that's where the dish was born.

Your choice of pasta (I used gluten free angel hair)
Pasta sauce (whatever you have on hand is fine)
Mixed frozen vegetables (or if you aren't pressed for time use fresh!)
Pepperoni slices
Olive Oil
Seasonings of choice

*I realize these are all store-bought ingredients but hey... give it a shot!*

To Prepare
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Begin to boil water for pasta and cook as directed. Line a cookie sheet with foil, place all veggies on the sheet and lightly cover with olive oil and whatever spices you like (garlic powder, salt, pepper, italian seasoning - just some ideas). Place in oven and let the veggies roast until they start to brown (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, heat up your pasta sauce in a medium saucepan (I always like to throw in extra seasoning just for good measure). Continue to check on veggies until they seem done, then turn oven off and remove the veggies from the oven. When the pasta has just a few minutes left to cook, add the pepperoni slices to the veggies and put back in the oven to warm. Drain the pasta and plate with sauce. Take the veggies and pepperoni out of the oven and lay ever so beautifully on top of your pasta. Grate some fresh parmesan (optional) and you are ready to eat!

This dish is simple yet pleasing to the eye. The slight spice of the pepperoni mixed with the roasted veggies transform your typical spaghetti night into one that your guests will be asking for weekly! Use different veggies, fresh or frozen, as the seasons allow and let your mind wander with spice!

As always, most importantly... enjoy!

November 26, 2011

The Best Pumpkin Pie You'll Ever Love

Yea... It's that good... the picture is coming first. ;-)

I have to admit I am still giving myself major credit for how delicious this gluten free, dairy free, vegan pie came out! Everyone at the dinner table loved it and were dying to know how I made it. The real credit, however, must go to the artist herself, the Gluten Free Goddess, Karina Allrich. I also have to admit that this is one recipe I did not modify - I followed her recipe exactly and my pie came out perfect.

Although Thanksgiving has past yet again, the holidays are still in full swing! And that is exactly why I highly recommend that you make this pie for your next family get-together. They will probably say, "Didn't we already celebrate Thanksgiving?", and you will say, "Why yes, yes we did. That is why I made this delicious Pumpkin Christmas pie." Which you will say with a cute little smile, of course ;-)

One more thing.... I know making a gluten free pie, especially the crust, can seem like a daunting task. But I promise you that this is one of the simplest pies I have ever made, and it is well worth the effort!

Enjoy this beautiful pie as much as I did, or maybe as much as I do seeing as how I still have some yummy leftovers in the fridge ;-)

Here are a few more pictures for good measure...

November 7, 2011

Cookies for Breakfast

What a wonderful title huh? I mean really... who doesn't want to eat cookies for breakfast?!

These amazing pumpkin spiced cookies are from the Whole Living Blog and the best thing is, you don't have to feel bad about eating them! These cookies are definitely not your typical sweet treat - they sort of resemble oatmeal pancakes. If you like your jumbo cookies really sweet I would suggest adding some brown sugar, or use maple syrup in place for the agave, as the original recipe calls for. I, however, think they are perfect as is, especially when paired with sweet little raisins.

Here is the recipe with my minor substitutions:

2 c gluten free oats
1 cup mashed pumpkin (the can version works perfectly fine)
1 ripe banana
1/3 c pecans, chopped
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp sea salt
handful of raisins (optional)

Combine the pumpkin, banana, agave nectar, pumpkin pie spice and sea salt in a medium bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Fold in the oats, pecans, flaxseed and raisins (if using). Shape into 7 large cookies (about the size of your palm - yes, really!). Place onto a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with canola oil. Bake at 350 for 13 - 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack (or until cool enough to eat ;-))
Store the leftovers in the fridge, or freeze in aluminum foil and microwave 30 seconds for a quick breakfast on the go.

I made these after the CU football game this weekend and had one for a bedtime snack and one for breakfast the next morning. To accompany the jumbo cookie I had a banana, a handful of raisins and a delightful cup of coffee mixed with vanilla oat milk. Ahh it makes me happy just thinking of how perfect this breakfast was, enjoy!

Blackberry Syrup Cornbread Muffin

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day... and it just so happens to be my favorite meal of the day. Which is why I've decided to start posting more of my breakfast concoctions for your enjoyment :-)

This breakfast's inspiration came from my amazing boyfriend :) I made these cornbread muffins to accompany our Beef & Butternut Tagine dinner last night but the muffins came out a little... crumbly and not super special...hmmm :-/
Now I'm not blaming the original recipe, I know it is because I only made half the recipe and cooked them as muffins which only took half the suggested cooking time (true cornbread should take some time to cook so the cornmeal completely breaks down and softens). However.... my boyfriend used his family's tradition of mashing up the cornbread with butter and syrup and poof, just like that, the not so special cornbread muffin was like a dessert!

That gave me the idea for this breakfast - blackberries... real maple syrup... cornbread muffin... butter... banana chips...

So simple yet so delicious! Feel free to add additional fruit and perhaps a real banana, but the combination of the sweet-tart blackberries, the sweet cornbread and the crunchy banana chips is an absolutely delightful way to start any day - especially a Sunday morning before 2 hours of yoga ;-)

November 6, 2011

"Cinnamon Toast Crunch" (no gluten!)

Think back to when you were a kid... remember those deliciously sweet, sugar-coated cereals that you oh-so loved?

Fast forward a few years...

You see those cereals in the aisles at the super market and are brought back to the "good old days" when you could eat whatever you wanted without any sort of stomach or body ache... Well, I'm here to tell you that it is possible to make your very own version of those yummy cereals, but with a bit of a makeover. I found the recipe for Cinnamon Toast Cereal on the Peas and Thank You website. The first day I saw it was of course a day, more like a week, that I didn't have any free time to make it. So there it went into the "breakfast" bookmark folder until the time was right.

The "right time" came soon enough...

Saturday night! I's the perfect time! Of course I'm not going to be doing homework on a Saturday night.. I should be out partying and living up my 21-year-old life... right?! Well... it just so happens that many Saturday nights I prefer to spend my time in the kitchen, debating over which recipe to try next. Yes, you might say I'm a bit of a nerd... but hey that's the way.. uh huh uh huh... I like it ;-)

My substitutions to the original recipe:

  • amaranth flour in place of the garbanzo/fava bean flour
  • about 1/8 - 1/4 less than the water suggested (I always say it's better to start with less and add more if needed)
A few notes:

  • The batter will be runny and thin - this is how you want it.
  • Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and move it around so that the batter spreads out and is very thin (don't worry, again, this is how you want it).
  • I made just half the recipe this time and cooked it for 12-14 minutes. Whether you make half or the full recipe, just look at the edges, when they begin to brown and look crispy take it out.
  • I used a spatula to carefully separate the parchment paper. I then used a pizza cutter to cut the mass of cereal into square pieces. Place them all back on the cookie sheet for 4-6 minutes. Then take it out, turn them over and cook a minute or two more. Once all pieces seem crispy let them cool on the cookie sheet.
  • I stored the cereal in a plastic tupperware container but found most of the crunch to be gone the next day... I removed the top and let the cereal sit open to the air so the extra moisture would evaporate. My advice, if you aren't going to eat the cereal right away, pour some into a bowl about an hour before you want to eat it, or pop it back under the broiler for a few minutes to get that real crunch to come back. 

I'm definitely going to be making this again, trying out different flours and additions (perhaps cocoa) to the mix. I'll let you know how it goes! In the meantime, have fun with this... it really does make you feel pretty talented to make your own cereal ;-)

November 5, 2011

Tahini Chocolate Chippers

These cookies sparked my interest at Lauren Loves Good Food blog. I had bought some tahini a few weeks earlier and didn't want it to go bad before I had a chance to use it. My friend just introduced me to some awesome new food blogs, which is exactly where I found these quick little tahini cookies.

If you don't know much about tahini it is a paste ground from sesame seeds. The texture is similar to a nut butter, though slightly less thick. By itself, it resembles the taste of a nut butter... well, sort of. It is most commonly used in hummus, but hey, it is a good source of protein with little sugar so.. why wouldn't you make cookies out of it?!

There are a few things that are really great about these cookies:
1. they have only 6 ingredients
2. they take hardly any time to make
3. they taste just like peanut butter cookies (which is a definite plus if you are someone like me who no longer gets to enjoy that wonderful taste)

Here are those 6 simply lovely ingredients:
(I found this recipe to make about 18 cookies, give or take a few)

1 cup tahini
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp chocolate chips or raisins (optional) - I used Enjoy Life's dairy free chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl with a large wooden spoon. The batter will seem runny at first but as you keep mixing it will thicken (it's like a science experiment!) Lightly spray a baking sheet with canola oil. Form the dough into balls, a little smaller than golf balls, place on the cookie sheet and flatten lightly with the back of a spoon. (I didn't decide to flatten them until halfway through baking but I definitely think it is a better idea, as they will cook more evenly.) Bake at 325 for 10-14 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully transfer to a wire rack to fully cool. Be aware that the cookies are extremely delicate when they are still warm but will hold together as they cool. They still have that crumbly texture but - like I said they taste and act like peanut butter cookies! I hope you enjoy these yummy little treats! Go tahini!

Yes, that on in the middle has a bite out of it... I couldn't resist trying them!
And then remembered to take the picture ;-)

November 4, 2011

Strawberry, Orange, Carrot Smoothie

Settle down now... I know seeing "carrot" in the name for a smoothie threw you a little off-guard. Rest assured that this smoothie is sweet, delicious, and ever so good for you!

Here are the simple ingredients that I'm sure you already have on hand!

5-6 fresh strawberries
5-6 baby carrots or 1 regular sized carrot
1 cup orange juice (I used Tropicana, less sugar and only pure ingredients)
1 small ripe frozen banana

First, you'll need to steam (or microwave - I'll admit this is how I did it because I wasn't patient enough for steaming!) the carrots until tender and can be pierced with a fork. Run them under cold water and let sit a few minutes. Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Add more fruit or more OJ to get the smoothie to your preferred thickness. That's it!

I enjoyed this smoothie as a post-workout snack along with Soy Crispettes from Whole Foods. (One serving of these light delicious crisps gives your body 8 grams of protein!) Enjoy!

Not Your Average Kale Chips

Kale... it's somewhat of a "trouble" food... most people know it is good for you but just can't get it down. I've tried it in smoothies but eating kale as chips is definitely my favorite way to go!

I have made kale chips once before and they turned out okay but nothing picture worthy. I found this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Kale Chips on The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen website. If you've never visited their site, do it now! They have so many incredible recipes that already match most allergy needs, but are also super easy to modify if need be.

As far as the kale chips.. they're great! Crunchy and satisfying for an afternoon snack or in my case.. to pair with my sunbutter and jelly flatbread sandwich - it was the perfect lunch to have during my massive study session ;-)

I followed the recipe exactly for the kale chips, but do be warned, the dressing may not taste very spicy at first but as the kale chips sit after being cooked... that spice sure does show up! If you'd prefer less spice, I think 1/4 tsp cumin or chili powder would work really well with the other ingredients in place of the crushed chili flakes.

One last note, I cooked mine at 275 rather than 250 hoping to speed up the process, but they still needed about 40 minutes to get the ultimate crunch. Be patient my friends.. this healthy snack is well worth it!

October 19, 2011

Decadent Raspberry Chocolate Smoothie

This smoothie tastes so decadent and dessert-like I just had to put it into a wine glass!

I needed a morning snack that was quick and something I could take on the go (and no I didn't take the wine glass in the car.. the smoothie got transferred into a plastic cup). What comes to mind? A smoothie of course! Although this one really tastes more like a milkshake, it contains only healthy ingredients and is not too thick so.... a smoothie it is.

What you'll need:
6-10 fresh raspberries
1/2 ripe banana (fresh or frozen is fine)
1/4 c vanilla hemp milk + water as needed for the right consistency
1 packet (or 2 tbsp) Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Put all ingredients into blender and blend until thoroughly mixed. Feel free to add any extra fruit, I personally think mango would be delightful ;) The combination of hemp milk and nut butter adds a decent amount of protein but if you are looking for more of a protein shake you can add hemp protein powder but make sure to also add more liquid as well so it doesn't get too thick.

That's it, now go enjoy!