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!

September 28, 2011

Ooey Gooey Quesadillas, Dairy Free!

I can honestly tell you that I don't have the words to describe how excited I was to have a REAL quesadilla that actually tasted like a one! I have had a few bites of cheese here and there over the last several months but not a full meal... Dairy has probably been the hardest thing for me to give up but.. my body seems to be happier without it so I have managed to fight my cravings.

I found shredded soy cheese at Vitamin Cottage and thought I'd give it a try (they have many brands, try them all and find your favorite!) I was a little weary about it at first since my last dairy free cheese purchase turned out a little less than... tasteful.

When I opened the bag and tried a little sample I was AMAZED! The best way I can describe the flavor is to relate it to the box mac 'n' cheese you had when you were little... that Velveeta-type, melts-in-your-mouth deliciousness ;-)

Back to the recipe... we had lots of leftovers in the fridge that were at that "eat it or throw it out" stage so I thought hmm what to have for dinner.... QUESADILLAS! They have endless possibilities for fillings and can be personalized to your liking. I filled mine with leftover homemade sloppy-joe, you can find the recipe here. This time around I made it with ground turkey instead of beef, give it a try if you don't eat beef, both taste great but I must say the beef has just a touch more oomph in flavor. I follow the recipe to the tee (except for adding twice as much carrot) and it is always a huge hit.

To prepare your quesadilla follow this tried and true method:
Gather the ingredients you'd like for the filling, place on one half of a tortilla (I use teff tortillas, you can use whatever you have on hand), top with the delicious soy cheese. Warm a medium skillet, use butter or any butter-like spread you have and grease the bottom of the pan. Carefully place the tortilla into the skillet and butter the top side. Wait a few minutes and flip, wait a few more minutes and there you have it! Both sides of the tortilla should be crispy and the filling should me melted. Use a pizza cutter to slice the quesadilla into as many pieces as you like. Eat as is or serve with salsa. Last but not least... enjoy!

September 26, 2011

Yeast Free Mini Bread

Whenever I find a bread recipe that doesn't have yeast I am ecstatic! I found this recipe for Paleo Bread on Elana's Pantry, and only made two modifications - substituting hazelnut meal/flour for the almond flour and substituting canola oil for the coconut oil.

Here is the recipe I followed:

3/4 c. hazelnut meal/flour
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/8 c. golden flaxseed meal
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/8 c. canola oil
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

To prepare:
Pulse first 5 ingredients in a food processor (through baking soda). Add in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar and pulse until smooth.
Bake at 350 for 22 minutes. Let cool in pans 5-10 minutes then remove and let cool completely on wire racks.

I made half the recipe this first time (I usually do this with new recipes so as not to waste ingredients!), and used two mini bread pans. I thought the batter would fill about 4 mini pans but.. I was wrong... I filled 2 pans to the top... take a look at how they turned out.

I know they don't look that small here... take a look at this one...

The left is a standard size bread loaf from the grocery store, the right are my cute little mini loafs!

Now you can really see how small and cute they are :)

The taste of this bread resembles the Hazelnut English Muffin/Bun/Bread I have made several times, although the texture is a bit more delicate. Once the loafs cooled I placed them in a plastic bag and have stored them in the refrigerator. I'm hoping that by being cooled they will be strong enough to hold up for a mini-sandwich!

Regardless of their size they are delicious, not sweet, very bread-like and most importantly yeast free!

Play around with this recipe and let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

September 18, 2011

Sunday Pancakes with Strawberries & Sunbutter

It has become a rare occasion when my boyfriend and I enjoy the same big, hearty Sunday breakfast. Ever since late May of this year, when I found out about my many food intolerances, breakfast is a lovely time we share but not a meal we share.

Knowing that this coming week is crazy for the both of us, I decided last night that today's Sunday breakfast would be something we could enjoy together.

I have tried two other gluten free pancake recipes, one from a box and one from another blogger. I highly recommend making your own!! The blogger pancakes were delicious but more of a crepe like breakfast, very light and kind of melted away in your mouth. I was yearning for a more 'typical' pancake, one with substance, not too dry and stays with you for the majority of your Sunday activities (for me it is studying...)

I found this recipe from Ginger Lemon Girl, and made only a few small changes. Here is the recipe...

Dry Ingredients
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. potato starch
3 tbsp GF Oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
1 tbsp ground flax seed + 2 tbsp very hot water
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 c. vanilla hemp milk + 1/4 c. water (or use all hemp milk)
1 tbsp canola oil

Fresh cut strawberries
Sunflower seed butter
Real Maple Syrup

To Prepare
Mix the flax seed and hot water in a small bowl or teacup and let sit while you mix all other ingredients.
Place all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly mixed.
In a small bowl mix together the wet ingredients, adding the flax seed mixture at the end.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until most chunks are gone (make sure to do this otherwise you'll have some dry flour chunks in your pancakes!)
Warm a large skillet and spray with canola oil or butter the pan, add about 1/4 c. batter to the pan (trust me this is the perfect size). Flip when the edges begin to look cooked and the middle shows some bubbles. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side.
*This recipe yields 11-12 pancakes. They are not too sweet but with the suggested toppings they are wonderful :)
*I am planning on using two pancakes as "bread" for a lunch sandwich.. I'll let you know how it turns out ;-)

I hope these bring smiles to your Sunday morning as they did to ours!

September 13, 2011

Tuna Cakes & Sauteed Spinach

This recipe comes from The Allergy Self Help Cookbook . I bought this cookbook online when I found out that my summer would be spent eliminating the 23 foods I tested as being reactive to. The recipes in this book are free of all common food allergens (corn, gluten, egg, sugar, wheat, milk, soy, yeast). I saw the book in Barnes & Noble and was thrilled!

It gives a great deal of hope for those who are just starting on their allergy-free journey. I will say one thing - if you are new to gluten-free flours and the tastes, just keep an open mind with some of these recipes! Before you know it you will love these natural, earthy flavors and your body will be much happier as well.

The recipe for these Tuna Cakes, or Tuna Burgers as called in the book, are as follows:
1 can (6 oz) no-salt added water-packed tuna, drained
1/4 c. minced onions
2 tbsp honey-sweetened or fruit sweetened ketchup (I used Annie's)
1 tbsp prepared mustard (I used Dijon)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (or vegenaise) 
2 tbsp minced parsley or cilantro (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
1 starch: 1 small cooked white potato OR 1/4 c. toasted amaranth flakes OR 1/3 c. quinoa flakes OR 1/4 c. oat bran
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil (canola is fine)

To Prepare:
Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor, process for 10 to 20 seconds or until well mixed (you'll need to stop halfway to scrap the sides into the middle).
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Shape mixture into 4 very small tuna cakes or 3 normal sized cakes and place on pan. (The book says to drop the mixture onto the pan and flatten with a spatula, but my method worked perfectly and I think held the cakes together better.) They will cook about 5 minutes per side, or less if your pan is hotter - you'll know when to flip them when the sides begin to turn golden.

*Note: The recipe says "serves 4" but it was just enough for the 3 tuna cakes. If you want leftovers I would suggest doubling the recipe. You could try adding one more can of tuna but you'd probably need to add more of the wet ingredients for it to hold together.

For the Spinach:
Semi-thaw one bag of chopped spinach. Place contents into a medium skillet, add 1/3 cup water and cover. Let boil until all of spinach has thawed and is warm. Drain excess water. Add 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, a good dose of salt & pepper, italian seasoning or any of your favorites. I added a few drops of rice wine vinegar - this seemed to make the flavors stand out a bit more. And finally add in your choice of cheese (if you can tolerate it). I am just now beginning to try dairy again but parmesan seems to be okay (thank goodness!) If you cannot tolerate cheese don't worry, the spinach still tastes delicious and fresh.


I had to add this one to showcase the wine, essential for this meal :)

September 12, 2011

Simple Fulfilling Rice Toast with Sunbutter & Banana

I'm not sure if I can really call this a recipe, but what I can call it is happiness, filling, healthy and such a wonderful way to start any day.

If you've ever been able to have regular bread (that is, bread with gluten, yeast & dairy) and peanut butter you know how delicious a  peanut butter, banana & honey sandwich can be. This is an allergy free spin off of that but made for breakfast.

The bread I use for this is Food for Life Yeast Free Brown Rice Bread. It is very dense and has a taste similar to sourdough bread. It is so dense that it really only works if it is toasted, and even then I'm not sure I would use it for a sandwich. However, for morning toast, especially toast topped with sunbutter and a banana it is perfect.

This breakfast is very simple to prepare - Toast the bread (I always make two pieces), when it is ready top with your sunbutter of preference (I use Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter), add a sprinkle of cinnamon to both slices, cut up the banana and add to toast, top with a drizzle of honey and enjoy with a large cup of green tea :)

I know it is simple and may not seem like much but to me it is one of those comfort foods that always sounds good and always satisfies.

I hope this brings a fresh idea to your mornings, enjoy!

Breakfast Meatloaf for Dinner

When I was a kid I was never really a fan of meatloaf... something about it just didn't appeal to me and there was never a time where the flavors blew me away. When I first got together with my boyfriend several years ago his mom made meatloaf for dinner one night. I wasn't super thrilled but of course, I kept an open mind. It turned out to be DELICIOUS, and from then on, meatloaf has been in my repertoire.

I came across this recipe on Affairs of Living. While this is not a traditional meatloaf it packs a whole lot of flavor in a non-traditional way. I followed the recipe exactly except for a few modifications -
*Instead of using all breakfast sausage I used about 3/4 breakfast sausage and 1/4 italian sausage.
*I also added some extra carrots just on principle.
*In substitution of the aleppo pepper I used a mixture of chile powder, cumin & paprika.
*Lastly, butter or another oil is fine to use in place of the coconut oil.
I topped with Annie's Ketchup instead of the suggested sauce but if you make it with this please let me know how it is!
You can find the original recipe here.

To accompany the meatloaf I made glazed carrots (yup.. this dinner was carrot crazy!). My boyfriend and roommate had rice as a starch and I had some of my delicious flatbread toasted with butter.

The meatloaf is simple to prepare and leaves your kitchen with smells that will have you counting down the minutes until it is done. I hope you like it as much as I did!

Jambalaya.. More like Upside down Shepard's Pie

The title of this post may have you a little confused... Allow me to explain...

The refrigerator in my condo is 'apartment size'... meaning it is smaller than a typical refrigerator. This also means that our freezer has been absolutely packed for quite some time. Because of this I resolved to create meals that use what is currently in the freezer rather than buying new foods. Sounds like a good idea right?

I knew that we had four Bison Hot Dogs  (yes, bison! You can find them at Costco, they are delicious and healthy!), and plenty of homemade Italian Sausage from my boyfriend's dad's restaurant - Benders Brat Haus (Aurora, Colorado).

I also had bought Millet quite some time ago and had yet to use it. I think that I slightly overcooked it because the texture resembled that of sticky oatmeal or when rice sticks together... The taste is very neutral which went well with this dish but by itself would definitely need some added flavoring.

In my head I was thinking of creating a fish-less Jambalaya with the ingredients we had. As I said earlier,  it ended up looking more like upside down Shepard's pie - but the flavor was still very good.

4 Bison Hot Dogs (precooked)
Italian Sausage (about 1/2 pound)
Diced Canned Tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted)
2 Roasted Green Chiles (fresh if you have them leftover from any Farmer's Market you may have visited, if not canned will work just fine)
1 c. Millet
1 c. Peas (plus any other veggies you want to throw in)

How to Prepare
Cook millet according to package directions (warning - 1 c makes a lot!).
While millet cooks, cook the italian sausage or any other spicy sausage you have on hand.
Cut bison dogs into rounds.
Chop 2 gloves garlic and add to sausage along with green chiles.
Add tomatoes (and their juice) to pan with sausage and garlic. 
Add peas to pan and continue to let mixture simmer until peas are heated. 
Taste and add any extra seasoning, salt & pepper. 

By now the millet should be done and you are now ready to eat!

The way I served it was by placing a good amount of millet in the middle of the plate and topping with the meat mixture.

It didn't take long for all of us to mush everything together... the flavors blend better and it looks almost as pretty...

This dish can be made with so many different ingredients. Use whatever you have on hand and throw in as many extras as you like! Enjoy!

September 6, 2011

Teff Chips

This is probably the simplest recipe I will ever post but I think it is very blog-worthy and I'm hoping it brings smiles to those who are tired of the same old rice cracker or rice chip. I have made several of my own crackers, and while they turned out...okay...they didn't have that crunch that I always long for in a snack.

I found these gluten free teff tortilla wraps several months ago and one day had the idea that they could be baked and turned into chips...

Mission accomplished! Simply preheat the oven to 350, lightly brush the tortilla with olive oil and use a pizza cutter to cut into the desired size chips you like. (I get about 23 wheat-thin sized chips. Also, if you prefer a salty snack, sprinkle with kosher or sea salt before baking.) In my oven 9 minutes usually does the trick, but be careful... not all ovens cook the same and when they begin to brown they'll brown quickly.

Once they are to your desired doneness let them cool on a wire rack and enjoy! I love how quick these are to make, how well they'll keep if you want to make more than one batch, and mostly I love that they are gluten free, crunchy and not made of rice!

Yes they are simple but sometimes... it's the simple things in life that really make you smile :)

Hazelnut, Yeast free English Muffin/Bun/Bread

Go ahead... check the title again... that's right! Its a recipe for bread that can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It's incredible I know! And I must immediately say THANK YOU to Iris from The Daily Dietribe. I adapted this recipe from her Gluten-Free English Muffins (Vegan, Yeast-Free, Sugar-Free). Sadly, I can't have almonds so I tried out another nut meal - Hazelnut. Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Meal is the only one I have been able to find in stores, and yes one day I will have enough motivation to grind my own but that day has not yet arrived because this recipe works and tastes so well! **I've also used hazelnut meal in place of almond flour for a few other recipes and they always seem to work. Make sure you like the taste of hazelnuts first, but it is a mild nutty flavor that goes with several different tastes.** One other substitution I made is using Bob's Red Mill Creamy Buckwheat Cereal in place of the Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal.

I strongly encourage you to check out The Daily Dietribe for yourself, but here is the recipe (with my modifications). 

English Muffin/Bun/Bread:
1 1/2 c hazelnut meal/flour 
3/4 c potato starch
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Creamy Buckwheat Cereal
2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum or guar gum
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup oil (I've used olive, canola, walnut and all work great)

How to Prepare:
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
Stir water and oil in a small bowl. Pour into dry ingredients, stirring until completely mixed. *(The batter may seem too moist at first but it will thicken. The moisture is also nice because the muffins won't crumble or fall apart later on!)
Grease a cookie sheet and scoop the batter up into heaping 1/3 cups. Makes 6 scoops. Bake for 40 minutes. You want the edges to begin to turn golden brown to make sure the insides are cooked thoroughly. *(In my oven, 38 minutes cooks them perfectly, they will feel hard to the touch but will ease once cooled and the bottoms will be slightly browned.) Let them cool and when you are ready to enjoy cut in half. I like to keep them whole until I plan to use them, I think this allows them to stay moist longer. 

Now the fun part! How I've enjoyed them...

I've used these for breakfast... toasted with Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter... a delicious way to start out any day! I keep enough batter in the bowl for one or two muffins and then add baking spice or plain cinnamon, raisins or other dried fruit, and fold in. Place on the cookie sheet along with the others and cook to perfection. (Just remember which ones have the additions!)

I've used them for lunch and made a sandwich! I get excited because there isn't a lot of sturdy bread in my life anymore... so any type of sandwich such as this is a real treat ;-)

I've also used them for dinner as a bun for a burger (pictured) or you can shape them as a hot dog bun and use for a brat or hot dog. (I did this for a camping trip with brats cooked on a stick over the fire... it was to die for!)

However you use them, I hope they bring as much happiness to your meals as they have to mine. Thanks again Iris! 

September 5, 2011

Classic BLT and Zucchini Soup

Homemade Zucchini Soup, courtesy of The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, and a classic BLT sandwich... This was the perfect way to end the long weekend before going back to the craziness of every day life.

I love when simple dinners come together perfectly and everyone is pleased with the outcome!

I had wanted to make this soup several days ago but after an outdoor workout, the heat changed my mind about having soup for dinner. However, I still had two mondo zucchini from my parent's garden taking up space on the counter and decided that tonight was the night. When thinking about what to have with soup my mind instantly thought sandwich, the perfect pair! We had just had grilled cheese sandwiches the other night so I had to think of something new... I saw the fresh tomatoes (again from my parent's garden, thanks dad!) and a lightbulb turned on.. BLTs!

To create this delicious meal I followed the directions for the soup exactly except for substituting cooked quinoa for the rice, and adding a little rice wine vinegar and other spices at the end.

For the sandwiches... well if you know what a BLT is then you know how to make it... Cook up some crispy bacon, slice several fresh tomatoes, clean the lettuce and you are ready! Toasting the bread is something I always do but if you'd prefer a softer sandwich that is entirely up to you. The bread I used here is from Ener G Foods, their Brown Rice Yeast Free Loaf.

The flavor of this bread is well, different at first bite, but the more you have it (as with most gluten free things) the better it seems to get. It's great for sandwiches (it actually stays together, no crumbling whatsoever!) and is also good for breakfast as toast with jam or nut butter. 

To assemble the sandwich I lightly buttered both sides along with some vegenaise. I put lettuce on the bottom piece, added as many tomatoes as I could fit, 2 pieces of crispy bacon, more lettuce and topped with the other piece of bread. And there you have it... an absolutely delicious and simple dinner... Enjoy!

This last bite was savored for quite some time... I'm sure you'll want to do the same!

September 2, 2011

Flatbread Grilled 'Cheese' with Chicken & Tomatoes

The hardest part in eliminating my reactive foods has definitely been cutting out CHEESE. No matter how many alternatives you try, or the different 'nut' cheeses you make... nothing can substitute cheese. One day while I was wandering the aisles of Vitamin Cottage I found a dairy free cheese... there are several actually but this one was the only one I could find that didn't have yeast. By itself the taste is...similar to plain rice milk with a hint of cardboard... (sorry Galaxy). With something the taste completely disappears and it tastes like... nothing really... So I guess lesson learned is that if you are intolerant to dairy but crave a grilled cheese every time your boyfriend makes one... Suck it up and eat the cheese! Sure you may have a slight stomach ache but hey... you only live once!

Anyway... Back to the recipe of this post!
The plan for dinner was for me to make a homemade soup and delicious filling for a grilled cheese on the side. The soup idea fluttered away once I got home from a very hot and long bike ride, but my determination to have a grilled cheese was still in sight. 

Using the recipe I posted for the Gluten free, Dairy free, Yeast free Pizza, I made flatbread!

For the pizza I used Quinoa flour, Amaranth flour and Millet flour (which held together nicely and when toasted gave a great crunch!) For the flatbread I used Amaranth, Millet and Sorghum and added 1/2 tsp of sugar. This was yet again delicious but did crumble more than the pizza. Without toasting the flatbread feels a bit soft and may actually hold together better than when heated (if you try this let me know!), but you can't hope for rice cheese to melt without heat so yes.. I assembled my sandwich and put it into the George Foreman. The cheese didn't really melt at all but the warm sandwich was still nice. 

What I love about a grilled cheese for dinner is that there are endless possibilities for what can accompany the cheese and bread. In this case here's what I did... 

For the Chicken:
2 c shredded rotisserie chicken (I always keep some in the freezer for nights when you want to get creative!)
1 1/2 c mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic
a generous amount of italian seasoning
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar (or more to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh sliced tomatoes

How to prepare:
Heat oil in a medium skillet, add mushrooms and sautee until soft. Add garlic and sautee with mushrooms until fragrant. Add shredded chicken, spices and vinegar. That's it! Feel free to cater the spices to the type of sandwich you are craving, or use fresh spices if in season. 

Assemble grilled cheese as normal (if I could have cheese I'd put one slice on the top and bottom pieces of bread), add as much of the chicken mixture as you like and grill! (If you don't have a George Foreman or a Panini Press you can use a skillet.. it'll work just fine!) Wait to add the tomatoes until the sandwich is ready, the moisture will make your bread soggy. 

And voila! Dinner is served! 

One more note, if you have a certain bread you like or can tolerate store brand GF bread, Udi's makes a great one for sandwiches! However, you'll give yourself even more praise for this truly homemade sandwich ;-)