Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Challenge

I had to remind myself to think of things to be grateful for last week. It's so easy to think of the events not going as you expect them to. It was amazing how it made me feel to spend extra time focusing on the things I really appreciate. It was a reminder how my thoughts really affect how I feel.

It also feels really good to hear other people tell you how much they appreciate what you do for them. So, this week instead of just telling myself what I am thankful for, I am going to see how many times I can thank all the people who do things for me. It's so easy to take people for granted.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Party Time

One of the things I had a hard time with when removing dairy from recipes was coming up with dip to use for veggies and chips. Yes, dip is perfect for parties, but let's face it. Dip is just fun any old time and the healthier you make it the more you can eat it, right?

I love avocados...the taste, the creamy texture. And even though they are high in fat, a lot of it is monounsaturated fat (the "good" kind). I wanted an avocado dip that could work for veggies or chips. This one is very simple. Feel free to add more of your favorite flavors.

Fresh Avocado Dip          Print Recipe

2 medium avocados
     (peeled and cubed)
1/3 c. chopped tomato
     (skinned and seeded)
2 T. minced onion
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 T. plus 1 t. lemon juice
1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/8 t. pepper

Mash avocados in a bowl until creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients until blended. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to blend flavors.

Note: If you wish to spice it up a bit for a party, try adding in 2 T. of GF mayonnaise and a dash of hot sauce (optional). Sprinkle two pieces of crumbled bacon on top. Definitely not as healthy but yummy.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Challenge

We all want to stay healthy and feel good. We spend time and money on improving the nutritional value of the food we eat. It's certainly part of the equation. It's amazing how we can also affect how we feel by what we choose to think about or dwell on.
I challenge you to an experiment. Each day this week think of at least three things you are truly grateful for and remember those things throughout the day. See if you feel any different at the end of the week.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Granola Is So Easy

One thing my whole family really enjoys is homemade granola - for breakfast or snack. A batch just doesn't last long in our house. And it's so easy to make. My favorite flavor is cherry pecan. Use your favorite dried fruits and nuts. Our local health food store just started carrying bulk gluten-free oats which made making gluten-free granola much more economical.
                                                                                  Print Recipe

Homemade Granola    
4 1/2 c. rolled oats
3-4 T. ground flax seed
     (or rice bran)
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts
    (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
1/2 T. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
3 T. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 T. gluten-free vanilla extract
3/4 - 1 c. dried fruit of choice
     (coarsely chop large pieces
      like cherries)

Combine oats, flax seed or rice bran, nuts, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Combine brown sugar, honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a full boil. Add oil and vanilla. Pour over oats and mix well. Spread in a large cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake at 250 degrees F for about 1 3/4 hours or until lightly browned/toasted. Loosen in pan immediately. Cool and add fruit. Store in airtight container.

Simple and delicious!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chas' Chips

My kids are "starving" when they get home from school. They love chips, of course. And to make them is even more fun.

Chas likes his homemade chips both sweet and salty. He likes them sprinkled with sugar and pumpkin pie spice. He also likes to sprinkle non-dairy cheese shreds (we use Daiya) on them, sometimes mixed with chopped natural salami. Waiting for them to get done is the hardest part.

Print Recipe

Homemade Tortilla Chips              
one medium rice tortilla
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Cut tortilla into 12 wedges with pizza cutter. Arrange on cookie sheet. Combine sugar and spice and sprinkle over wedges. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 7 - 9 minutes or until lightly browned and crunchy.

Note: If you desire savory chips, try lightly sprinkling with sea salt and herbs of your choice or non-dairy cheese as mentioned above. If you use the cheese, bake at least 3 - 4 minutes longer to melt the cheese and dry out the chips. The Daiya cheddar style shreds work well on the tortilla and get extra crunchy where the cheese bakes against the pan. Yum!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Organizing Gluten-Free Flours and Other Goals

January is a time when many people think about their goals for the year. I have a couple of books I want to read on health and of course I want to get more sleep and exercise. And I'm always looking for more ways to organize myself. I figured out a way to store my frequently used gluten-free flours and sugars in my Lazy Susan that really works for me. Remember that flour that won't be used up for a while should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.

I bought some stackable rectangular storage containers (4 half size and 3 full size) and labeled them. They make 2 1/2 stacks side by side. I can stack as many as 4 small or 2 large or a combination. By leaving an empty spot that would fit one more large container, I can easily move the containers around and grab what I need without juggling an armful or having to bring them up to the counter.  It reminds me of a plastic game that was hand held with a 4 x 4 grid I had as a kid. It had 15 flat, interlocking pieces with one missing in the corner. You had to slide the pieces left, right, up or down to unscramble the picture.

Another area I am working on is creating colorful cookies and cakes with more natural colors. Food art (including cake decorating) has always been one of my favorite hobbies. It's fun for kids, too. As I became interested in providing more natural food for my family, I stopped making some of those things. There are many vibrant colors in natural foods. I have yet to try natural food color. This year I'll have to.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oops! Turning Not So Good Into Delicious

My husband really liked the thyme dinner rolls I made for Thanksgiving, so I made them again for Christmas. For some reason they were dry. Were they over baked? Maybe the egg whites were smaller than last time? Not sure.

Nevertheless they were not as popular this time. My husband was willing to eat the leftovers. I hesitated...then thought, I'll toast them in thin slices. I love crackers.

I thinly sliced the rolls and put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer with just a little sea salt. I toasted them at 400 degrees F turning and checking every 4 minutes (more often at the end when they started to dry out). They were delicious with our soup. What a great way to save a bread recipe that didn't turn out the greatest.

Next time I think I'll try tossing the slices with olive oil, salt and spices before baking. Baking them at a lower temperature like 250 degrees F for a longer period of time may be better. Mine got a little brown in spots. I would still check them fairly frequently depending upon the size and thickness.

Gluten free bread can be tricky. If you make a recipe that just isn't a hit with the crowd, try recycling it in creative ways. My friend recently made her favorite stuffing recipe out of a loaf of bread that had bean flour in it. She didn't like the flavor of the bread plain, but it was delicious as stuffing.

What creative ways have you found to use bread?