best sister ever

My sister has a nice streak in her.  She lets it out every once in awhile… ;).  One instance of her niceness is that she let me live rent-free from February through July this year when I first had an unpaid internship, and then I was unemployed after graduation.  See what I mean?  Nice streak.  Well, I had said I would eventually buy her something once I was employed to thank her for those months of “free” living (although I did buy mostly all of the groceries to still help out).  I decided a blender was something nice to buy and definitely not something she would treat herself to (see, she’s a money hoarder).

Well, a marvelous Kohl’s 30% off coupon came to my mom so I thought this was a great opportunity to buy a blender – so I purchased a Ninja, thinking it would be somewhat comparable to a Vitamix.  I was definitely dreaming of nice and smooth green smoothies!  Unfortunately, the ninja did not live up to its name at all… I like ninjas and this thing could not do any superhuman ninja moves.  There were two too many stringy smoothies coming out of the kitchen…  Even the Magic Bullet beat it times 100.

Sadly, my hopes for a new blender went away with the Ninja as I did not have a ton of money still to make a bigger purchase like that.  Well, the morning Kinley and I went to the State Fair, she could not get the Vitamix out of her head!  She said she almost bought one right then and there but held off (money hoarder getting not so hoardy).  And then we get to the fair… and this happens.

Yup.  Exactly.  Who knew there were Vitamix stands at the Wisconsin State Fair?!  And TWO of them!  Although we did not make it past the first one…  Kinley buckled.  She bought the Vitamix.  She even got an extra year added to the warranty (a total of EIGHT years) and a free dry mixer thing too (to make your own flours – a $150 value).  She then proceeded to walk through the fair toting this around, and I kept saying Green Spinach Smoothie so people would give me weird looks.  I love it when I make people think I’m more of a freak than I actually am in real life, although I do love green smoothies.  And they should too!

So I basically got out of buying a blender at all.  I think I’ll just not say anything and hope she forgets I offered to buy her something…  Aw man, she probably just read this in her Google Reader….  But anyways, is the Vitamix everything I dreamed it to be?  Well, just look at the green smoothie and you tell me.

Spinach, almond milk, banana, frozen mango + pineapple.  Beats the looks of my previous creation by about a million.  More smoothies recipes coming soon!

meatless monday fiesta

I like simple things.  I especially like simple things that are really, really good.  You know what else I like?  Creating a whole meal out of things you (could) have on hand any day.  I also like gardens.  Surprisingly, our garden had not given up just yet.  A few things have had to be “removed” due to their size and productivity level.  The heirloom tomato plant looks pathetic… and yet we’re still getting tomatoes.  Lots and lots of heirloom tomatoes that have been made into delicious pasta sauce, put into weekly salads, and made into delicious and fresh salsa.  Actually that last one is a lie… or it actually hasn’t happened yet (but it will).  The tomatoes I used in this particular dish came from a co-workers garden as did the peppers.  So absolutely incredibly fresh and delicious it had to be made into a meal.  So here, for your Meatless Monday, you get two recipes.  Salsa + a base.

Simple Salsa

  • tomatoes
  • jalapeno peppers
  • salt
Cut up tomatoes and jalapeno peppers and toss in a bowl with salt.  I cut off the tips of the jalapenos and took out the seeds and the salsa ended up bring pretty mild, but delicious.  I also do not have measurements because I used what was left!
Tostadas
  • brown rice tortilla (or a corn tortilla)
  • refried beans
  • cumin, to taste
  • lettuce
  • salsa
1. Preheat the oven to 400′.
2. Put a tortilla on a baking sheet and pile on the beans and cumin.  You could also have some cheese if you’d like.
3. Bake for 10ish minutes until the tortilla is crispy and the beans are hot.
4. Top with whatever toppings you’d like!  I was pretty simple because we didn’t have a whole lot to put on top, but it was sooo good.  We’ve always had these as tacos where the tortilla was a shell, but it always ended up breaking apart.  This way there was no breakage until I purposefully dug into eat ;).

And if you’ve already eaten dinner tonight?  Taco Tuesdays sound pretty fantastic as well…

Yay for one of the toughest days of the week being over!  Only 4 more days til the weekend :).

a new kind of cookie

I have a major sweet tooth.  But I’m sure if you’ve read this blog before you’re aware of that fact ;).  But the strange thing is that when I switched to eating unprocessed foods, my tolerance for sweet things went waaay down.  I used to almost always choose milk chocolate over dark in a Russell Stover box – obviously I needed the higher sugar content.  I have even on more than one occasion (I refuse to count), made this Martha Stewart Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe using two – yes, two cups of sugar.  And then proceed to eat the whole batch (well, not by myself obviously) over the course of a weekend.

Now, I am more likely to eat dark chocolate than even semi-sweet, and never milk chocolate.  Sugar in baked goods has gone down (or become non-existant) in all of my recipes.  Oh, and my love for coconut has increased significantly.  I used to think unsweetened coconut was, well, unsweet.  Now?  Oh my, it’s absolutely delectable.  Coconut flakes are pop in your  mouth good and coconut butter tastes like frosting.  Last night, Kinley and I purchased Coconut Flour for the first time.  Now combining all of my previous ramblings into one recipe?  Don’t mind if I do.

Gluten Free Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 2 dozen

  • 3/4c sorghum flour
  • 1/4c + 2T coconut flour (Let’s Do… Organic®)
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1 stick earth balance (or butter)
  • 1/4c organic natural sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2t vanilla
  • 1c semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard – made in a gluten free facility!)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the sorghum flour, coconut flour and baking soda.
2. In a large bowl, combine room-temperature earth balance and sugar with a handmixer until fluffy and smooth.
3. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix.  One of the best things about gluten free flours is that there is no chance of you over-mixing!
5. Time for the chocolate chips – so, so good.  Put them in and mix.
6. Scoop and roll (these won’t change much during cooking so what you put in will look pretty much like what comes out) and place these on a baking sheet and put in a 375′ oven for 8-10 minutes.
These cookies are a nice change from the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies I have baked recently since they used oat flour as the base (as did the Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies).
I do kind of love how the non-rolled ones look like coconut macaroons.  I have big ideas for the not-so pretty and semi-crumbly ones but I’ve got to talk the sister into going along with it ;).

granola for friends

I love granola much more than I should.  Yes, it is healthy, but not eaten by the handful like it so commonly is (in this household anyways).  After the gluten episode this past weekend we were forced to re-evaluate our oat consumption.  I was going on a nice streak there for a while where I had oats every breakfast – and I mean each and every breakfast.  Sure, there were a couple of other things thrown in their occasionally, but usually it was oats.  Regular oats, steel-cut oats, oat bran, overnight oats, dough-boy smoothies…  Because of the sheer consumption of oats and a new employee budget, gluten-free oats was not something that I even wanted to think about.  Yes, I will pay $2 for more oats and avoid paying $6 for just making sure they’re not cross-contaminated with wheat.  Well, as I now know – gluten-free oats should be the star of the show here.  Unfortunately we had over half of a big tub of good ol’ quaker oats to use up and I was not going to throw away any more food.  And there’s no better place to use up food you can no longer can eat than on your friends!  I surprised one of my good friends with a big ol’ bag of this granola.  And I will definitely be making it again for myself and sister with gluten-free oats.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Granola adapted from Coffee & Tea Warehouse 

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2c light brown sugar
  • 1/4c oat flour (or whole-wheat)
  • 1/2t salt
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 1/3c grapeseed oil
  • 1/4c honey
  • 1t vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 300′ and get out a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place rolled oats into a large bowl and add in the brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Mix to distribute.

3. In a small sauce pan, heat up the oil and honey until they just come to a simmer.  Take off heat and add vanilla.

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Put on the baking sheet and bake for around 40 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.  You can add nuts, seeds, dried fruits, cacao nibs… anything your heart fancies.  This was always my go-to granola recipe a few years back and I am not quite sure why I ever gave up using it!  I always added 1c of sunflower seeds in with the oats and it was awesome.

I highly recommend making this and having a bowl full of granola with the milk of your choice.  Just doesn’t get much better than that.

Want a more natural and gluten-free version?  Here’s what changes I will make next time for us!

  • 4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2T sucanat
  • 1/4c oat flour
  • 1/2t salt
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 1/3c grapeseed oil
  • 1/4c honey
  • 1t vanilla

I would consider decreasing the oil a bit as well… but it is just so darn good I don’t think I want to mess with it too much!  But I think decreasing the amount of sweetness and using sucanat instead of brown sugar will be the perfect alteration for our taste buds.

Now where are those gluten-free oats…

falling for meatless monday

In my mind, August is always unbearably hot and so humid you can almost see the water in the air.  Something is definitely different this year.  The mornings and the evenings are cool and crisp, making it seem more like fall than mid-summer.  I even had to forego my Tae-Bo dvd this morning for a walk outside to enjoy the outdoors!  Naturally, my fall taste buds have kicked into high gear.  Good thing we always keep a supply of pumpkin in our pantry!

Kinley actually came up with this recipe – we didn’t even know what we were going to make until tonight and we had all the ingredients to pull this together.  Easy peasy.  Pumpkin in the sauce and pepitas on top.

Gluten Free Chickpea and Pumpkin Pasta

  • 1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just pure pumpkin)
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4t italian seasoning
  • 1t onion powder
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t sucanat or organic sugar
  • 1/8t nutmeg
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • 1/4t cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8oz brown rice pasta
1. Mix together all of the ingredients except for the chickpeas and the pasta.
2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the chickpeas for the last few minutes.
3. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse with hot water (helps the gluten free pasta not stick together.
4. Put the pasta back into the pot and add the sauce.  Stir to combine and heat through.
So simple.  So delicious.
I know Fall will be here before I know it and in some ways I’m excited.  Apple orchards, pumpkin fields, beautiful fall colors, and of course my birthday.  But Fall, I’m not quite ready for you yet.  Give me a few more weeks of summer, please.

cinnamon + sugar donuts

After feeling not quite right yesterday even until going to bed, I knew today’s food was going to be hit or miss.  Kinley and I decided to drive to Alterra this morning for some Iced Americano’s – I love Alterra and it made this day start out great and I think the caffeine helped perk me up to help me continue to recover!  For breakfast I had scrambled eggs, some sauteed potatoes (leftover from dinner last night) and a piece of Sami’s Millet & Flax toast.  It was just what I wanted!

Well, there seems to be something about me and egg-filled breakfasts.  For some reason I get hungry pretty quickly afterwards even with all of the protein from the eggs and carbs from the potatoes and bread (which is why my usual breakfasts consist primarily of oats or buckwheat!).  It’s a good thing I had found a delicious looking recipe from Multiply Delicious for Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Baked Doughnuts to make for a ‘mid-morning snack’ ;).  I have been in the mood for cinnamon sugar recently as well as donuts (thanks to Ashley’s recent gluten-less creations 🙂 ).  I took tips from both recipes and came up with these little guys.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts makes 6 regular + 6 minis
  • 1/2c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2t cider vinegar
  • 1 flax egg (1T flax + 2-3T water)
  • 1 egg
  • 2T organic sugar
  • 2t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t xanthan gum
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/4t nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c quinoa flour* (I misread the amount on this so had to add the water to counteract the excess dry ingredients – whoops!)
  • 1/4 c water*
Topping
  • 2-3T melted earth balance
  • 1/4c organic sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
*You could do 1/4c quinoa flour and no water instead.
1. Preheat oven to 350′ and spray a donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Spray well!
2. Mix together the almond milk and cider vinegar and set aside.  Mix together the flax and water to make the flax egg and set aside.
3. Combine the sugar, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
4. Add the almond milk mixture, the flax mixture and the egg to those dry ingredients and whisk together.
5. Sift in the flours and combine.  Add water and stir to combine.
6. Scoop into the prepared donut pans and bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
7. Once slightly cooled, dip into melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar.

By the way, is it donuts or doughnuts?

The next time around I will definitely not use Bob’s Gluten Free mix – I am not a fan of garbanzo bean flour and that’s a big component in the mix.  I had it leftover from our first weekend going gluten free when we thought it was a baking necessity.  I’m going to pick up some coconut flour this weekend so the next time a donut craving hits I can use something similar to Ashley’s combo of Coconut, Sweet Rice and Oat flours.  The original recipe also did not call for any eggs, but I knew Ashley’s did and they would help puff up the dough better.  You could easily make these vegan if you wanted – but I was in the mood for a puffy cake-like donut!!!

Love this little ‘donut family’.  Happy Sunday!

dessert pizza

Kinley and I took a trip to New York City this past January.  I loved it.  I have always loved big cities and this was my first time in NYC – although it had been a longtime ambition of mine to get there.  It’s actually quite funny now, we decided to eat vegetarian when we were there in order to help with cost savings – and now that’s all we do :).  We ended up finding a bunch of really good restaurants even without pre-planning anything.  We had a couple stops in mind, but those were mainly for cupcakes.  One night we were really struggling to find something to eat was the night we went to see a show on Broadway, American Idiot.  We were walking around and around and could only find expensive prix fixe meals that didn’t even sound good!  Luckily, on probably our tenth loop around on side streets, we stumbled upon a small Italian Bistro.  I forget the name of it (I do have their business card somewhere), but I remember it was extremely delicious food.  I had some sort of pasta dish but Kinley had a pizza that was to die for.  And what was even more to die for than her meal pizza?  Dessert pizza of course.  Pizza Crust + Nutella + Marshmallows.  We changed it up a bit due to ingredients we had on hand, but the variability of this idea is what will make anyone happy :).

Dessert Pizza makes 1 pizza

1. Preheat oven to 350′.

2. Pre-bake the crust for a couple of minutes, if desired.

3. Top crust with your desired pizza toppings.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until nut butter is warm and marshmallows have melted.  You could also use a broiler to help the marshmallows puff up a bit ;).

Mine was PB2 – Kinley’s was Raw Almond Butter.  Both were incredibly delicious.  To make it even more like the original, break out that Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

There will be more of these in the future.  Many, many more.

oatmeal chocolate chip

I am currently procrastinating packing…  Well, not serious procrastination.  It might be worse – I’m waiting for laundry to be done so I actually have clothes to pack.  Which could have been done right away when I got home at 5pm.  But no, it’s 9:30 and the stuff just went in the dryer.  Whoops.

It’s a little nerve-wracking packing for my first business trip.  Having to pack a bunch of ‘dress-up’ clothes that will need to be ironed at the hotel (shocker!), shoes, plenty of workout clothes (hoping I won’t have to get up super early to do it!), all my getting-ready goodies.  Not to mention my food.  I have no clue what there will be for gluten-free, dairy-free vegetarian offerings.  My guess is not much – if even that much.  So I have oats and a box of almond milk to make overnight oats in the fridge in my room so at least I’ll have a nice and filling breakfast in the morning.  I even picked up a few individual packs of Justin’s to have on top!  I also bought a pack of rice cakes today and have a myriad of Lära and Clif Bars as well as some raw almonds.  This way, I will at least have some options available to supplement what I am guessing is going to be a fruit and salad-filled weekend.  And a long weekend at that since it is Wednesday – Sunday.

I am all checked in – after an incredibly long phone call with a guy from AirTran.  For some reason my payment wasn’t going through for a checked bag that was holding up the whole process and took much longer than it even needed to…  Good thing that right as I got off the phone, these little guys just happened to be waiting for me to eat them ;).

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 c oat flour
  • 3/4t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/3c melted earth balance (or other butter)
  • 1/4c organic sugar
  • 1T molasses
  • 1 egg (or flax egg)
  • 1/2c non-dairy milk
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 c mini non-dairy chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients except for the oats and chocolate chips (you could sift them as well).

2. Whisk together the melted earth balance, sugar and molasses.  Add in the egg, milk and vanilla.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and add the oats and the chocolate chips.

4. Scoop into little balls, roll, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Bake in a 350′ preheated oven for 10 minutes.

6. Eat!

These cookies are similar to the Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies I made awhile back but with more chunks due to the oats as well as puffier because of the egg addition.  These are also way cut down on the sugar (only 1/4c for over 3 dozen?).  I thought they were a good sweetness, not an over-the-top sugar high but enough so it tasted like a treat!

Who knows what I will be experiencing this weekend, but I have been told it will be an ‘ease’ into what some business trips will be like in the future, so enjoy it while I can ;).

latin monday

Can you believe it’s yet another Meatless Monday?!  This was the first real ‘weekend‘ after starting my new job so it was even more enjoyable – and even more depressing that it was Monday!  Although knowing there was a delicious dinner in store for tonight helped – except not when I found myself snack-less and hungry this afternoon!  We had a latin-inspired dish tonight that was taken from an idea in Appetite for Reduction, an awesome vegan cookbook.  Changes were made, per usual, and it was delectable.

Latin Lentils

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 small (or one large from the garden!) cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 8 kalamata olives
  • chili powder & cumin, to taste
  • 1/2T lime juice
  • 1/4c salsa verde
  • salt, to taste
  • brown rice tortillas (or your favorite tortilla/wrap)

1. Cook lentils either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.

2. Saute zucchini in a little olive oil (or on a nonstick pan) over medium-high heat.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Serve on tortillas (like tacos) or serve with tortilla wedges for dipping!

You could add anything else you’d like on top as well – such as tomatoes, lettuce, more salsa… pretty much anything you’d put on a taco you can put on here.  So good.  I loved the bites with the olives ;).  Such a delicious dinner after a hectic Monday!

chickpea reci{peas}

I absolutely love chickpeas.  Or garbanzo beans.  Whatever you’d like to call them.  I have even started eating them straight out of the can – well, after draining at least.  Is that weird?  Even if it is, I don’t care.  If chickpeas are in something, you can guarantee I’m going to love it.  Chickpeas have often popped up here from time to time…

Whether it was a trio of {hummus recipes}…

In a beans grain green recipe {honey-mustard millet & Beans}…

Served on top of Injera at an {Ethiopian restaurant}…

Added to the delicious {Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad} by Daily Garnish

Let’s not forget how good it is on {gluten-free vegan pizza} either…

And last but certainly not least how awesome chickpeas made Oh She Glow’s {Heat Wave Summer Salad}…

Obviously, we go through a lot of chickpeas, and this recipe makes them go quite fast as well.  It does slow you down from just eating them from the can however ;).

{Spicy* Baked Chickpeas}

  • 1 can chickpeas (sometimes referred to as garbanzo)
  • 1T grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2t paprika
  • 1t cumin
  • 1/8t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4t black pepper
  • 1/2t salt

*The recipe wasn’t actually that spicy, so adjust the spices accordingly.

1. Drain the chickpeas.  Place into a plastic bag.

2. Add the oil into the bag and toss to coat.

3. Sprinkle in the spices and roll around until all the little chickpeas are covered.

4. Bake in a 400* oven for 30-45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Make sure to not burn them.  Mine burnt due to a too high of oven (the temp is adjusted here), but they were still all eaten within a matter of days.

Feel free to play around with the spices to change the flavorings or spicy-ness.  You really can’t go wrong.

Oh my chickpeas.