Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Pancakes

Gluten free sweet potato pancakes
I have been trying to find the perfect gluten free pancake for a long time now. I read recipes online about mixing eggs with bananas alone, which worked out pretty decently texture-wise, but I felt like it was too eggy of a flavor for me. I also tried adding a little coconut flour or almond flour to the mix but I still wasn't satisfied with the results.

Finally I decided to try something different, sweet potatoes! They added a nice sweet flavor, and the texture worked out beautifully. Is it the perfect pancake? No, probably not. However, they are the first gluten free pancake I've had that actually tasted like a pancake and I really enjoyed eating. They had a slightly spongy-like texture and the perfect balance of sweet and spice. I did use regular whole milk in the recipe, but I think coconut or almond milk would also work to moisten the batter if you are trying to go dairy free. With fall just around the corner, this is a great breakfast for the season. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Bars

Blueberry Banana Ice Cream Bars

Don't you just love the summer time? So many wonderful fruits available, and usually on sale! Blueberries were going for really cheap the past couple weeks at the grocery store, so I stocked up and decided what better way to use them than a cool summer treat like ice cream? With this heat, it just seemed like the perfect dessert. I decided to do something a little different than just regular ice cream, so I made a chocolate brownie crust with nuts and dates and turned them into ice cream bars!

As you can see in the photos, the ice cream is super smooth and creamy, even though its 100% dairy free. It's made with a blend of coconut milk, bananas, blueberries, and honey. So it's naturally sweet and creamy, without any heavily processed foods! It also contains no eggs, so if you're a vegan you can probably substitute the honey for maple syrup or agave nectar and I'm sure it will taste just as good.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Toasted Coconut Nut Butter Cookies

Toasted Coconut Nut Butter Cookies

If you've read my last post, Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies with Cashew Butter-Cream Spread, you'll know I recently got a Vitamix and since then have been making fresh nut butter on a regular basis. I eat it plain a lot or with fresh fruit (especially bananas!), but I've found it is also a great ingredient to cook with. Which leads me to my latest dish, Toasted Coconut Nut Butter Cookies.

In this dish I have combined raw almonds and cashews to form a thick, creamy butter, along with some toasted coconut for a little crunch and extra flavor. The eggs alone were enough to poof up the cookies, and the nut butter helped them hold a uniform shape, so no flour was needed! They tasted kind of like chunky peanut butter cookies. I decided to drizzle a little chocolate over top too because...chocolate. I feel that chocolate makes every thing better, but if you are a big nut butter fan these cookies are good on their own as well, so feel free to leave off the chocolate sauce if you like. :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies with Cashew Butter-cream Spread

Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies with Cashew Butter-cream Spread  

As some of you may know, my husband got me a Vitamix for our 3 year anniversary. Isn't he the greatest?? Anywho, I have been experimenting with various nut butters since I got it, and my most recent one is cashew butter. I have had it at the store before, but I don't like that it usually has added safflower oil, salt, and whatever else they put in there. I love making my own nut butters because there is always just one ingredient....nuts! And you may be surprised, but they are super creamy just like store bought ones. Not as sweet, but you could always add a little sweetener if you like.

My husband has been asking me for brownies over the past several days, so I decided to combine my love for nut butter, cashew in particular, with his love for brownies. I must say, they turned out to be delicious! I decided to use almond flour instead of coconut flour, and olive oil instead of my usual coconut oil for the base, and it actually worked out nicely. The brownies are pretty fluffy, but they are a little dry. However, the cashew cream adds a nice moistness and compliments the brownies very well. And best of all, these brownies are gluten-free,dairy-free, and made from natural ingredients, so you don't have to feel so guilty about eating them. :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lemon Parsley Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Artichokes

Lemon Parsley Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Artichokes

Trying to eat healthy can be a hassle when you work until 6 every day (sometimes 7...) So when I get home I try to cook meals that can be done in 30-45 minutes whenever possible. I'm usually lucky if I can get a nice meal on the table by 8!

I have a feeling this dish is going to become a regular go-to meal on my work-night menu. It is one of those simple dishes that I can throw together pretty quickly and still feel healthy about it. I did use canned artichokes and roasted red peppers from a jar to make things go faster, but if you have the time I'm sure this dish would be even better with home-made roasted peppers and steamed artichoke hearts instead.

The lemon compliments the buttery flavor of the artichoke hearts really well, and the red peppers add a slight smokiness and beautiful color. Then there's the garlic and parsley, which give it a slight Italian feel. The chicken of course makes the bulk of the dish and absorbs all these wonderful flavors. I was surprised at how well this dish turned out because I don't cook with artichokes very often, but I must admit I rather enjoyed it. The husband even liked it...actually he said it was really good! :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chocolate Cake Roll with Strawberry Cream Filling

Chocolate Cake Roll with Strawberry Cream

I made myself a mixture of avocado, strawberries, and lemon juice together to go with my lunch at work yesterday. It was actually quite tasty, so I thought I would try to incorporate avocado and strawberries together into a dessert somehow. I had a couple of cans of coconut milk chilled already in the fridge, so I wanted to incorporate those into the mix as well. I decided to stick with a chocolate base, since...well...chocolate just makes everything taste better!

While this dessert doesn't really feature the avocado as much as I originally planned, you can still taste a slight hint of it within the cake. The main features are chocolate, strawberries, and creamy coconut flavors. I will warn you though, it's not as sweet as it looks. I did not use any baking soda or baking powder either, so it's not very fluffy. But overall, it still tasted pretty good. Not the best cake in the world, but certainly not the worst. Plus it's gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, contains no leavening agents, and is made with real wholesome ingredients! Now I don't have to feel so guilty when I have a slice. :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Greek Cauliflower Salad

Greek Cauliflower Salad

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. Both of my sisters are due in April, as well as my sister-in-law, so I have been super busy shopping and planning baby showers. I just haven't found the time for blogging. That doesn't mean I haven't been cooking though!

The idea for this dish actually came from my sister's shower planning. She had requested that we try to bring lots of healthy foods, preferably gluten-free. When trying to come up with ideas I decided to create a gluten-free version of a Greek pasta salad that was always served at family events when I was a kid. It must have turned out well because I got several compliments at the shower. In fact, I'm making it again for my other sister's shower tomorrow! I hope they like it too. :)

The cauliflower texture in this dish is a mix between couscous and rice. I think it really goes great with the strong flavors of the capers, olives, and Feta cheese. Then you have the juicy grape tomatoes to mellow out all those salty flavors. Best of all, it is great cold so you can prepare it ahead of time if you need to. This does makes several servings, so if you are making it at home for 2-4 people you may want to halve the recipe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quinoa with Spicy Chicken Marinara

Quinoa with spicy chicken marinara

So I have a new found love for quinoa these days. It's light fluffy texture is similar to rice, but contains less carbohydrates, more protein, more iron, more fiber, and just a slew of vitamins and minerals. Is it something I should eat every day? No, probably not due to the carbohydrate content (about 29g in 1 cup when cooked) but I feel much healthier eating quinoa than something like rice or pasta. It tastes great too!

I decided to turn it into a mock-pasta Italian sort of dish tonight using chicken, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic (of course!), and jalapenos to really give it a kick. I used a whole jalapeno and it was SUPER spicy, so you may want to tone it down to 1/2 jalapeno if you can't handle the heat. ;)

All in all, I'd say it was a success. My hubby ate his whole serving, even though he was complaining about it being too spicy throughout the meal. :-p

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chocolate Covered Caramel Banana Pops

Chocolate covered caramel banana

I tried baby bananas for the first time a couple weeks back. If you've never had them, I encourage you to give them a try! They are kind of similar to bananas, but compare closer to a fully ripened plantain. They have a very nice sweetness to them, more so than a banana, and are less mushy as well. That's why they are the perfect candidate for these chocolate covered caramel banana pops!

I decided that it has been far too long since I've had a chocolate covered banana pop, and I thought what better way to make them then by adding caramel? When I was a kid my mom used to make chocolate covered frozen bananas occasionally, and they were always so delicious. Sometimes she would roll them in nuts or sprinkles before the chocolate hardened, and they were so good. I didn't do that for this recipe, but of course you are more than welcome to do so yourself.

I made half of these with baby bananas and half with regular banana halves. The baby bananas worked out much better since they were firmer and held their shape on the sticks better. The regular bananas kept trying to slide off. Both were tasty, but I preferred the baby bananas personally.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Banana Mocha Ice Cream Cake

Banana Mocha Ice Cream Cake

This is actually my second attempt at this cake. The first attempt didn't go so well. The cake itself worked out just fine, and I'm sure it was delicious. However, I was unable to actually try the cake in it's entirety. After I finished decorating it, I had placed it back in the freezer to harden back up. That's when I heard a loud clunk. I opened the freezer to see all my hard work pouring down the side of the door... I guess that's what I get for trying to perform a balancing act with my latest dessert project. I saved about half of the cake, which was pretty much ruined at that point. I scooped it into a container and ended up eating it as ice cream instead.

In any case, I learned my lesson and bounced back this week with a perfected recipe and better pictures, oh, and a cleaned out freezer too. ;) I must say I am actually kind of glad about what happened. This cake turned out much better in the end!

I know there are a lot of components to this cake which makes it seem a little complicated, but it's actually pretty easy. If you want to make it a little simpler you can omit the cashew cream and coffee sauce, but I think it really adds to the flavor of the cake. I admit it's a little time consuming, but trust me, it is totally worth it!

The ice cream portion of the cake tastes like a creamy chocolate banana soft-serve ice cream with a hint of coffee. The coffee cream and sauce really help bring out the mocha flavors the most though. The crust is a little salty, which I think adds a nice balance to the sweet richness of the cake and cream. If you are watching your sodium, you may want to omit the salt from the crust, or lighten it to 1/8 of a teaspoon. I think everything goes together perfectly as-is though. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Quinoa (with Broccoli & Mushrooms)

Lemon Rosemary Quinoa with Broccoli and Mushrooms

This dish was actually a cheap dinner idea I thought up on the fly one day. I had lemons and quinoa already on hand when I was planning out my grocery list for the week, so I wanted to try and think of something that I could use those in before going to the store. You know, try to save a little money by having to buy less for dinner. ;)

Then I thought, why not put them together? I thought it would be a great combination with some herbs, and maybe some other vegetables. I decided to use rosemary this time, but I think I may experiment in the future with other herbs, too!

The quinoa itself was quite tasty. Light and fluffy with a tangy lemon flavor and the wonderful rosemary aroma. I think this dish would go great as a rice substitute to serve with your favorite fish dish. I decided to add some broccoli and mushrooms to mine to make the dish feel more like a meal than a side, and it was actually quite filling! If serving as a side, you can omit the vegetables all together if you prefer, although the broccoli makes it especially tasty.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread

Okay, so my husband has been asking me for weeks to make him some banana bread, but we've been eating so many bananas lately that they never got ripe enough to work with! I just noticed yesterday that there were 3 overly ripe bananas that needed to be used, so I figured banana bread would be the perfect way to do it!

I tried to switch it up by adding two different flavors swirled together; one chocolate and the other cinnamon. I didn't exactly get the swirled effect I was hoping for, but you can sort of tell there are two different flavors in there...anyway it still tastes good, and that's what matters anyway! It is also quite fluffy for a coconut flour loaf. It is a little dry, but I found it went very well with some fresh banana slices and a glass of milk!

The version I made is mix-in free, but I think it would be lovely with some walnuts or raisins mixed in. I'd also like to note that I prefer a slightly bitter taste to my chocolate, so if you have a sweet tooth you may want to add in some extra honey. Adjust the recipe to fit your personal preference, there's no rules in the kitchen. :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Coconut Caramel Icing

Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Coconut Caramel Icing

So when browsing the grocery store a couple days ago I saw that pomegranates were on sale. Believe it or not, I had never actually had a pomegranate before now. I've had the juice before, so I had a pretty good idea of what they tasted like. But WOW! I never would have guessed the seeds would be so juicy and delicious. They just release a wonderful burst of flavor in your mouth when you bite down on one. Oh yes, and they are definitely a wonderful compliment to caramel and chocolate (but then again what doesn't compliment chocolate??)

Since this was my first pomegranate experience, I actually had no idea how to prepare one! So, after doing some research online, I found several people suggesting the best way to prepare them is by scooping out the seeds under water. How cool is that? I read several pages talking about how the seeds badly stain clothes and counter tops, so I am glad I researched it before diving right in!!

You'll see in the recipe below I also used some of the water from soaking the pomegranate seeds in my cake and icing. It didn't make a whole lot of difference flavor wise, so feel free to use regular water if you prepare your pomegranates using a different method, or if you buy pomegranate seeds alone.

And for those of you who may be wondering, this cake is actually not as dense as most coconut flour cakes. It is lighter than a pound cake, but heavier than an angel food cake. Its a very nice weight and tastes decadent and moist.

 I really had a lot of fun with this recipe! As you may be able to tell from all of the pictures in this post...I just couldn't help myself. Pomegranate seeds are just so lovely, almost like tiny rubies! They are so fun to decorate with, and definitely fun to eat. :)