Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gluten Free Summer Meal Ideas

 I love summer, especially all the fresh produce!  But the last few weeks I haven't been posting as often for two reasons:  First, I've been making really simple meals trying to focus on summer produce.  Nothing wrong with that, I just haven't had a whole lot of actual recipes.

The second reason can only be explained as a healthy dose of nesting!  As strange as it may seem, about a month and a half ago it suddenly become more fun for me to clean my house than to blog (I know, very strange!).  With Allie, I was only nesting for a few days before she was born.  Jake was just shocked to find me scrubbing the floor behind the stove the day I went into labor.  I assumed it would be the same this time around, but it's been going on for so much longer!  I love it, but I need a break from it! Especially since scrubbing floors is not getting easier as my belly continues to grow!  I had Jake snap one last maternity picture last night.  Almost 39 weeks--I can hardly believe it!  

 So this post doesn't really contain any recipes. It's just a collection of photos of meals from the past month.  It can be challenging to come up with gluten free meals, and sometimes it's just easier to keep things simple.  So, here are some very simple (and delicious) summer dinner ideas.

Fish: one big, recent change, is I've been trying to make a lot of meals with fish.  It just seems lighter in the summer when it's hot.  I realized I hardly ever made fish before because I wasn't sure where to buy it, or how to make it, and it always seemed so expensive.  Somehow I decided to take the plunge and start purchasing more and it's been so good!  (My apologies for the very sunny pictures--dinner time is just not the ideal time to photograph!)

  (Brown rice, green beans (I love the frozen bags you can get from Trader Joes--it makes dinners so easy!), cherry tomatoes, baked salmon and homemade tzatziki sauce.  I've been cooking big pots of brown rice once a week and storing the leftovers in the refrigerator for quick sides.  It makes gluten free dinners so much easier!)

This is a pretty similar meal to the last one:  Fish (Mahi Mahi), summer squash, brown rice and tomatoes and basil. Jake's garden tomatoes are ripening and we've really been enjoying them!  Fresh tomatoes and basil have turned out to be one of my favorite sides of the summer.  I usually make a big plate of sliced tomatoes with basil, feta, salt and pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  It's so simple, but we love it.

To keep the kitchen cool, we've been grilling a lot too.  This meal came together so fast off the grill and I am still in love with it!  I seriously need to make it again soon!

Pulled barbecue chicken (I made it in the crock pot), zucchini spears with sea salt and lemon juice (inspired by a recipe from the Pioneer Woman), grilled sweet potatoes and some red pepper slices.  I was amazed how fast sweet potato wedges cook on the grill.  They usually take so long in the oven!

This next picture didn't turn out very well, but any post of meal ideas from our house wouldn't be complete without a Mexican inspired dish.  We love Mexican food and it's also something that is easy to do gluten free.  If  you look really hard, you can tell this is a picture of chicken fajitas (on a corn tortilla) with rice and beans.  Fajitas are one of my favorite meals to make, especially for a crowd.  So good!

You'll have to let me know what your favorite, summer dinners are!  In the meantime, we'll be enjoying Allie's new water table (for many long hours) and waiting to have a baby!

Take care! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Banana Almond Smoothie

I love smoothies, and this one is super easy.  It also tastes a lot like a milkshake, but it's totally guilt free! :)

Here's all you need:  

A banana (it works really well to use frozen banana slices, but you don't have to), almond butter, almond milk and cinnamon (optional).  Instead of cinnamon, you can also add unsweetened cocoa powder or vanilla.  If you use cocoa powder it seriously tastes like a chocolate milkshake!  

I love this smoothie because it's easy to have the ingredients on hand and the almond butter makes it really satisfying. 


Banana Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

1 banana sliced (I recommend frozen!)
1 cup almond milk
1-2 tablespoons almond butter (I usually use 2)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Add more almond milk if needed. 

I hope you enjoy it!  What's your favorite smoothie?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gluten Free Berry "Pretzel" Dessert

The name doesn't do this dessert justice!  (But it was hard to come up with the perfect name!)  This dessert is so incredible, especially the cream cheese and lemon filling.  It has the perfect balance of sweet, salty and tangy.  I hadn't planned to make a dessert today, but it's been raining all day (not that it stopped my crazy husband from going kayaking!), and so I was looking for an indoor project.  Then I started to think about the Fourth of July with my family growing up and some of the yummy foods we'd eat.  My favorite was always the raspberry pretzel bars: a pretzel crust, fluffy cream cheese middle and lots of raspberries.  I decided I needed to make a gluten free variation and this did not disappoint!

The crust is made with oats, almond flour, brown sugar, butter and coconut oil (but you could use all butter or all coconut oil) and a little extra salt to recreate the pretzel taste.

(I scored the crust after it cooled to make it easier to serve)

The middle layer came together with whipped cream, cream cheese, vanilla, sugar AND lemon zest.  The lemon zest was a last minute idea and it really makes the dessert.

Finally, it's topped off with fresh raspberries and I threw in some blueberries to make it more festive.

I was really happy with how well it came off the plate with the scored crust.  So pretty!


Here's the recipe!

Gluten Free Berry "Pretzel" Dessert

Ingredients and directions:


1 cup oats (I used old fashioned, but it probably doesn't matter)
1/2 cup almond flour/meal (if you aren't gluten free, you can use flour)
Scant 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to sprinkle on top of crust before baking
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil melted
1/4 cup melted or softened butter

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add the vanilla, coconut oil and butter.  Stir until combined.

Press crust mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan.  (You could use another pan if you want bars instead of wedges.)  Sprinkle with a little additional salt.  Bake at 350 degrees until edges are starting to brown (15-18 minutes).

Allow crust to cool completely. (I placed mine in the refrigerator after a few minutes to speed up the process).

When cool, score the crust.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tbsp
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup whipping cream

To make filling, cream the cream cheese and all the sugar together in a medium sized bowl.  Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix well.

In a separate large bowl beat the cream until whipped.  Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipping cream.

To assemble:

Spread the filling onto cooled, scored crust.  Wash and then gently dry the berries with a paper towel or soft cloth.  Top with as many berries as you'd like!

Enjoy!!  And happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

 Last week I decided it was time to try making homemade almond milk.  We go through about a gallon of almond milk a week between Jake's breakfast cereal and my smoothies, but I had never made it before. (Important warning: I sometimes go through random phases of making bizarre things from scratch: There was the sauerkraut phase, the sourdough phase and now I might just be on an almond milk phase!)   I thought it might save some money, but I'm not sure if it does or not.  I'll have to do a real price comparison over the next few weeks, BUT I do have to say that the homemade version tastes SO MUCH BETTER.  Seriously, I am in shock.  I never drink store bought almond milk plain (especially the unsweetened stuff--it's kind of gross plain), but I cannot stop drinking the homemade version.  Poor Jake hasn't hardly got a drop for his cereal.  Actually, I don't think I need to do a price comparison because I can tell you right now the homemade version is going to be much more expensive with the rate I'm going through it.  I've already made 10 cups of it!  It is sooo good!  It's also very easy to make!  Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, but since I made this for the first time last week, I am craving it constantly.

Note: I adapted this recipe from Angela Liddon's recipe here. 

Another note:  You don't have to use a vanilla bean, I just had some in my freezer I wanted to experiment with! 

Here's how you make it:

Step one:

Soak 1 cup of almonds in water overnight:

Step two:

Discard soak water and place almonds in blender with 3 or 4 cups of water (depending on how rich you like it)


 Step three:

Add flavorings--I added salt (1/4 tsp), cinnamon (1/2 tsp), the seeds from a vanilla bean (you can also use vanilla extract) and a touch of maple syrup (1 tbsp).

If you are using a vanilla bean, you can chop it up and throw the whole thing in, or you can split the bean and scrap out the seeds and simply add those.  Vanilla beans are so strange, and yet so good!  They are so expensive I usually don't have them, but I found them at the Dayton 2nd St Market for $2 so I had to stock up!

Step four: 

Blend until almonds and flavorings are well incorporated. 

Step five:

Strain.  You can use a cheesecloth, a tea towel, a nut milk bag (you can find one on Amazon), or line a colander with paper towels.  I chose the later method.


I used three paper towels to line my colander.  I was worried they might rip, but they didn't.  I poured the mixture in and waited for a few minutes.  When the draining started to slow down, I picked up the paper towels and gently squeezed out the remaining milk.  I was careful not to rip the paper towels and this method actually worked very well!

Here's a picture while the milk was still draining through:

Here's a picture after I squeezed the liquid out of the paper towels.  The ball sitting next to the bowl is the paper towels with the remaining almond pulp.  It looks a bit strange, but it works!

You can sample the milk and add more flavorings to taste!  This is delicious in smoothies, on cereal or just plain.  Almond milk is very alkaline, full of calcium and contains healthy fats.  And it's so refreshing in the summer!

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chicken Tikka

The other day I was at the gym watching the food channel while doing cardio.  One of my favorite shows to watch is Bobby Flay's Throwdown (though I must say I always feel bad when the people he competes with lose!). Anyway, the recipe of the Throwdown happened to be Chicken Tikka Masala.  Chicken marinated in yogurt and spices overnight and then added into a curry sauce.  It looks sooo good.  I decided that even though it was really complicated, I had to make it.  So I did, but unfortunately I was not a fan of the curry sauce.  Don't get me wrong, I love curry, but this particular recipe was far too spicy and unbalanced for my taste.  However, the marinated chicken was incredible! It was so flavorful and delicious and made my whole kitchen smell amazing.  So I decided to make it again with a few small adaptations.

The ingredient list is a little long, but I ended up having nearly everything in my spice cupboard and only had to buy the fresh ginger.  I snapped a quick picture of the ingredients that go into the marinade.  Like I said, it looks like a lot, but it's totally worth it!

This recipe is great because it solves two problems I constantly having:  1) My husband LOVES Indian food and I really don't know much about it   2) The chicken marinated in yogurt overnight is incredibly tender.  The acid in the yogurt really serves to tenderize it--no more dry chicken!

Here's my adaptation of the recipe:

Chicken Tikka

 (Slightly adapted from Bobby Flay)

2 cups whole milk plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons ground fennel (I only had seeds, so I had to grind them myself)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh giner
10 chicken tenderloins
salt and pepper
melted butter (or ghee)


Make the marinade by mixing together the yogurt, spices and ginger in a medium sized bowl.  Add the chicken and make sure each piece is coated by the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (8 to 24 hrs.)

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment paper and brush with melted butter.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off excess marinade (note: you really want to wipe off as much marinade as you can because otherwise the marinade is actually too strong once the chicken is cooked!).  Lay the chicken in the pan and brush both sides with melted butter.  Salt and pepper each side.

Place your chicken in the hot over under the broiler and turn the broiler on high.  Cook each side for about 6 minutes under the hot broiler (about 12 minutes total).  Watch closely to make sure it doesn't dry out!

Serve the chicken with hot basmati rice.  If desired use the juice from the pan as a sauce for the rice.  Drizzle a small about of plain yogurt on top the chicken and rice for extra flavor and moisture.  It is sooo good!

Here's a quick snap of the assistant chef:
(She's also the boss!)