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!

August 29, 2011

Pork Soft Tacos with Cabbage & Corn Slaw

In our house, mexican food is a common dinner. It's easy to throw together, it's cheap, and there are many different things you can create. For us, it's usually burritos. If I'm feeling lazy I sautee all the veggies we'll be using, cook the meat and set everything out on the counter for everyone to make their own burrito as they like. If I have a bit more ambition I'll put the burritos together myself, roll them so that nothing falls out and place on a baking sheet, brush with a butter/olive oil mix and bake at 400 until crunchy on one side, flip and cook until the other side is crunchy and serve! They are a bit more... up-scale and the crunch makes you feel like you're eating a chimichanga! (I'll post one of these sometime soon...)

However, I was feeling a bit creative and wanted something new and different. So... I came up with these lovely tacos... Here's what you'll need...

Ingredients for Pork
3 boneless pork chops (cut into thin strips)
1/4 c salsa (any kind you have on hand will work)
1/2 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp italian seasoning
salt & pepper

Ingredients for Slaw
1 c green cabbage (chopped into thin strips)
1/2 c corn (canned, frozen, or fresh is fine)
1/4 c veganaise (if you can tolerate dairy, use sour cream)
Avocado dressing or Avocado oil (or fresh chopped avocado...hmm that's an idea!)
1/4 c chopped cilantro + 1 tbsp
salt & pepper

To Prepare
In a medium bowl place all ingredients for pork and mix so that pork is throughly covered. Cover and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. When you are ready to cook transfer pork and marinade into a medium skillet (most of liquid should be soaked into pork, a little leftover in the bowl is ads flavor!). Cook until pork is cooked through. Set aside. 

In another bowl add cabbage, corn and 1 tbsp cilantro and mix. In a small bowl mix thoroughly the veganaise or sour cream, 1/4 c cilantro. Add spices to taste - if you like spicy add more cumin! Just before you are ready to serve mix slaw and dressing together to top the tacos. 

I used white corn tortillas (but be careful... they fall apart easily if packed to full!), add some of the pork mixture, top with the slaw and you are good to go! I didn't use beans or cheese, sadly because I can't tolerate either... but if you can have them give it a shot if you'd like. Personally, I think the flavor is delicious enough without beans or cheese but as I said before, you can cater mexican food to your liking!  We ate the tacos with fresh, juicy watermelon.. the spicy pork combines beautifully with the sweet watermelon and gives this dish the perfect summer feel. 


August 26, 2011

Delicious Zucchini Crumble

My parents are having a zucchini overload in their garden this summer - a burden for them but a benefit for me! Typical uses for zucchini are... zucchini bread, grilled zucchini, stuffed zucchini, zucchini in pasta, zucchini as pasta... am I missing any? I wanted to make something different.... the food gods must have been listening because the weekly email I subscribe to from Living Without Magazine was a Gluten Free, Dairy Free Zucchini Pie.

As you'll notice the crust of this pie racks up in calories, not to mention sugar... Being that it is still blazingly hot here in Colorado I modified this recipe to make something a bit lighter.. a Zucchini Crumble. I was once again helped by the food gods... well actually the Gluten Free Goddess (same thing!), which is where I found the crumble for this delicious dessert.

My Modifications:
I followed the recipe exactly for the zucchini  portion of the pie, but once prepared placed it into an 8 x 8 baking dish. Instead of discarding the sweet, delectable, syrupy liquid, I reserved it and used it in place of most of the butter/shortening that is used in the crumble. I can tell you I only used about 1 tbsp of butter in the crumble, the rest of the moistness came from the syrup (I can't tell you exactly how much you'll need, just make sure that you have a crumbly, somewhat dry texture).

Instead of baking the crumble on top of the Zucchini I baked it by itself until it browned, then crumbled once cooled. When you are ready to serve the dish simply place the crumble on top of the prepared zucchini and bake at 350 until the crumble is crunchy and the zucchini is warm. Enjoy!

**When you serve this, don't tell people they are eating zucchini... make them guess what it is! Chances are no one will get it right... the taste resembles an apple crumble...but better!**

I can't have dairy but if you can, a scoop of vanilla ice cream would take this off the charts ;-)

August 11, 2011

BLT Quinoa Pasta + a Quinoa Sidenote

Quinoa is... an acquired taste. The first time I had it I wasn't exactly thrilled, but through trial and error I've come to love it and have learned what forms of it are best and the best ways it can be put to use :)

Exhibit #1: Quinoa Flakes
They are okay as a hot breakfast cereal as long as you add the right amount of sweetener, fruit and whatever milk you can tolerate. They are also GREAT to use in baking recipes, they can (for the most part) be substituted for oats if (like me) oats are not part of your diet. I really fell in love with quinoa flakes when I made Karina's Quinoa Breakfast Brownies from Gluten Free Goddess. Make them!! I promise you won't regret it :)

Exhibit #2: Quinoa, the grain
Unless you plan to use it for something sweet I've found that the best way to cook quinoa is with a broth rather than water. Quinoa is cooked similar to rice, a 1:2 ratio. I have only used chicken broth but I'm sure vegetable would be great too. If you're still a little hesitant about quinoa, check out my Summer Quinoa Salad and I'm sure you'll change your mind.

Exhibit #3: Quinoa Pasta
Simply delicious in any form... hot pasta, pasta salad, leftovers - you name it! Which brings me to the BLT Quinoa Salad...

The boys in my house were going to have one of those boxed mac 'n' cheese dinners but this one is from Paula Deen... Creamy Cheesy Bacon Shells... sounds pretty good right? I knew they'd want some extra bacon to throw in which made me think... well if they're having bacon so am I!!! While I was cooking the bacon I noticed the fresh garden tomatoes I had just gotten from my dad and thus... the BLT Quinoa pasta was born.

What you'll need 
Quinoa Pasta (any of your favorite type of pasta will work here)
Fresh Tomatoes
Baby Spinach
Olive oil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Italian Seasoning
(*you'll notice I don't have specific measurements here, cook by taste! It turns out better and gives you more wiggle room)

Gather 3X the amount of spinach you actually want, it shrinks!

To Prepare
Cook bacon until crispy, then set aside. Cook quinoa pasta (takes 6 - 9 minutes), while cooking cut your tomatoes and gather spinach. Once pasta is cooked al dente drain and place back in warm pan but not over heat. Add about 2 tbsp olive oil to the pasta and immediately add the spinach. Stir and cover the spinach with the pasta, the heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach. Once wilted add the tomatoes and as much or as little spice as you'd like, and a little more olive oil. Serve in pasta bowls and top with crumbled bacon. This is a light, flavor-filled and nutritious meal made for a warm summer's night. Enjoy!

August 8, 2011

Hawaiian Meatballs with Red Pepper Mango Sauce

I have seen several recipes for sweet and sour meatballs, but all contained pineapple which I cannot have. I substituted with fresh mango and added spices as I went along - sometimes improvisation works better than set recipes! I hope you enjoy this fun, easy recipe as much as we did!

½ c diced white onion
1 lb ground beef
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried chives
1 tbsp olive oil

¾ c mango nectar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 red bell pepper (cut into bite size pieces)
2 ripe mangos (cubed)
¼ c water

Prepare all produce – dice the onion, cut the pepper into bite size pieces (about ½ inch wide), cube the mango and set all aside.
Combine the onion through dried chives into a large bowl, mix thoroughly with hands and shape into meatballs (I got meatballs, some 1-inch wide some 1 ½ inch – choose the size you like). Warm olive oil into a large skillet, place meatballs in skillet and let brown on all sides until done (about 15 minutes).
Once cooked through, remove meatballs from plan and set aside. Drain excess grease from pan (keep any onions or caramelization that has formed). Place ½ c mango nectar into skillet and warm until simmers. While the nectar is warming mix the cornstarch and ¼ c cool water. Once nectar is simmering turn off heat and slowly add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly until thickens. Add the remaining mango nectar and red pepper to mixture and heat on low for 5-10 minutes, or until peppers have softened. Add meatballs to warm through and serve immediately.

*We enjoyed this meal with fresh corn on the cobb – try grilling your corn for an extra treat! The boys also had biscuits with this meal, any gluten free bread or muffin would accompany this dish wonderfully as well.  


August 5, 2011

Gluten free, Dairy free, Yeast free Pizza

Mmm mmm good :) I haven't had real pizza in several months, and although past attempts have been good,  the missing cheese really does take something away. This pizza however, turned out wonderfully and to be honest, I didn't miss the cheese one bit!

I was ecstatic when I found this pizza dough recipe a few weeks ago and have been waiting for the perfect chance to make it. I found it at Funky Food Trisha, and let me just say... THANK YOU! Here's the recipe...

Yeast Free Allergy Friendly Pizza Dough
3/4 cup flour(quinoa, oat, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat, millet)
1/4 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease baking sheet.  Mix dry ingredients together and add in everything but water.  Stir in the water.  You are looking for a moist dough that easily forms a ball when kneaded.  Add a little extra water if needed.  Press onto baking sheet into whatever thickness desired.  Before topping, bake for about 5 minutes.  Then pull out and put your favorite toppings on, slide it back into the oven and enjoy when crust is slightly brown and toppings are bubbling.

*I added some italian seasoning to give it more kick

Once I made the ball of dough I took off a golf ball sized chunk, making about a 6-inch (very flat) pizza and a mini flatbread. I plan to cut the flatbread in half and make a delicious little sandwich in the days to come :) I also plan to make this dough again, perhaps with more spices or even a sweetener hmmmm... and make larger flatbread so I can finally enjoy sandwiches again on a daily basis. Check back to see how that goes!

I did as Trisha suggests and precooked the dough (both of them) for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, then topped the pizza with the:

Prego Garlic Herb pasta sauce
1 slice turkey lunch meat torn into pieces (I used Applegate Farms Organic Roasted Turkey Breast)
Sauteed zucchini 
Corn (canned is fine)
Sauteed bell peppers
Salt & Pepper to taste

We were making not allergy friendly pizza at the same time and had the oven cranked up to 475 degrees but I still had to keep my pizza (and flatbread) in for about 10 minutes to get the necessary crunch. If you're not a fan of crunchy crust keep the temp at 400 degrees and check every few minutes until you feel it is to your liking. 

Enjoy this! I certainly did :)

August 4, 2011

TV Dinner

Tonight, my boyfriend is having dinner with some buddies on the hill and our roommate won't be home until later. So... it's cooking for one. I actually really love these nights because the possibilities for dinner are endless! I can have whatever looks good or sounds good - and all I have to worry about is pleasing myself :-)

I've had the last bit of my smoked salmon in the fridge for a while and it needed to get used up so here is what I came up with...

1 serving smoked salmon (whatever brand/flavor you like)
1/3 c shelled edamame
1/3 c corn (I'll admit I used the canned sweet corn but it still works!)
1 serving sweet potato fries (or whatever sweet potato or other potato you have...leftovers are easiest)
olive oil

Mix it all together, microwave until you've reached the temperature you like best.

I know it doesn't seem like anything special but when you have the place to yourself, a TV in front of you and a few hours until Jersey Shore premieres...(yes... I've gotten sucked in... ) it's easy to relax with this comforting yet extremely nutritious meal!


Summer Quinoa Salad

As usual, I had my whole week of meals and snacks planned out… I was eating last night’s dinner of baked sweet potatoes, onions & garlic with apple-chicken sausages. The sides were sautéed yellow squash and quinoa. It was absolutely delicious and I thought it would be perfect for tomorrow’s lunch.
I woke up this morning feeling sort of… heavy… I wanted a light summery lunch… and VWALLA! It came to me…

What you'll need:
Cooked quinoa (as much as you are hungry for)
Sliced carrots (I used one large carrot sliced into rounds)
Dried cherries
Sautéed squash (zucchini would work well too)
Spinach (pack on the nutrients!)
Walnut oil

I love this recipe because it is so easy to throw together, and you can substitute or add any veggies/fruits/nuts you wish! I heated up the quinoa through squash until hot, then added the spinach and walnut oil and mixed everything together. It is light, summery, filled with flavor and leaves you feeling ready to take on the afternoon. Enjoy!

August 2, 2011

Spicy Pork Chops with Apple Chutney & Caramelized Zucchini

I found this recipe and after the first time making it I knew it was one to keep in the rotation! It comes from the wonderful Cooking Light magazine and guess what... it's already allergy free! You can modify it and incorporate different fruits along with the apple, or leave as is and let it melt you away... You can find the original recipe on My Recipes.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 cups (1/4-inch) cubed peeled apple (about 3 apples)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • Pork:
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork loin chops, trimmed
  • Cooking spray

  • To Prepare:
  • 1. To prepare chutney, melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cranberries and the next 6 ingredients (through allspice); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until apples are tender; stir occasionally.
  • 2. To prepare pork, while chutney simmers, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine chipotle and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper); sprinkle over pork. Coat grill pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Serve with chutney.
*I usually only use two apples, cut into small pieces. This time I used only one and substituted two ripe plums for the raisins (delicious!) Prepare the chutney as usual but wait to add the plums until the end to avoid them becoming to mushy. 

Caramelized Zucchini

2 medium zucchini (cut into rounds about 1/4 inch thick)
1/3 c sliced onion
salt, pepper, garlic (and any other of your favorite seasonings)

Warm a large skillet and add a small slice of butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump in the onions and let cook until translucent and have browned. Set aside. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and place your zucchini flat on the pan, add your spices, then layer on the rest of the zucchini adding more spice to the top. Let cook on medium heat until you begin to see browning. Toss and turn until all zucchini are evenly cooked. Enjoy!

Green Smoothie - YUM!

I got home from a good swim and was craving something filling, good for me and oh so delicious! I got out a banana and thought okay this is good but I want something crunchy... I took out a piece of celery and took a bite... yummy and healthy... keep going... SMOOTHIE! I've never just thrown together my own green smoothie before, I've always looked up recipes but they never seemed to suit me. Most suggest only water but it seems to take a lot of the flavor away. Here's what I settled on:

1 banana
1 celery stick (roughly cut into pieces)
handful of raw (shelled) sesame seeds
handful of romaine lettuce or spinach
fresh or frozen mango
1/4 c. vanilla hemp milk (I use Pacific Foods Vanilla Hemp Milk) + a little water

Blend until smooth and enjoy! I was literally scraping it out of the bottom of the glass to get every last drop!

[You can add more liquid if you like... this was pretty thick but I must admit it makes the smoothie stick with you long enough until your next snack ;)]