Slow Your Roll Recipe FAIL: Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This recipe comes from Aimee at Simple Bites. It’s one of the more complicated slow cooker recipes I used, but the comments on the blog were so positive, I thought it was probably worth it. I modified it to work with my freezer bag system, but otherwise I didn’t change a thing. However, what came out was kind of bland. It was still edible, but I wasn’t psyched to eat it–which is a shame because it smelled AMAZING. There are a few things I may have done wrong here: I couldn’t find fresh ginger, so I used dried ginger, and my curry wasn’t of the best quality. (I also skipped the cornstarch since I’m corn-free, so my sauce was a little thin but I was expecting that and leaving out cornstarch doesn’t affect flavor). I’m also starting to wonder if freezing my recipes dilutes the flavors. I may add extra herbs and try this one again since it smelled and looked so delicious.

Any suggestions on how to up the flavor factor in this recipe?

The good news is that this recipe makes a LOT of food, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck.   Husband and I each ate 2 servings as is. Then I chopped up the rest (2 additional servings) and turned it into curried fried rice with plenty of Sriracha chili sauce and gf soy sauce for some flavor and kick. That took care of both of us for dinner and I had enough left over for a big lunch the next day.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Coconut Ginger Chicken and Veggies

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 inch cube of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled, quartered
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), cut into four
  • 2 cans coconut milk, not shaken
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup peas or frozen vegetables of your choice

For the spice blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt

IN THE BAG: Combine ingredients from the spice blend together and set aside. In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger and onion and pulse until it forms a paste. In a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and melt butter. Add pureed aromatics and stir well. Cook for a few minutes, then add spice blend. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Move aromatics to one side of the pan and add chicken pieces to the pan. Cook chicken slightly on all sides, using a sturdy wooden spoon to move it around the pan. It should get thoroughly coated with the spice mixture. Open the cans of coconut milk and remove the cream from the top using a soup spoon. You should have about 1 cup. Pour the coconut milk over the chicken and with both cans, it should just barely cover the chicken. Let cool and then store in freezer bag. In a smaller bag within the larger bag, store coconut cream whisked thoroughly.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 4 hours. Add coconut cream and stir well. Add frozen peas or other vegetables of your choice. Cook for another half an hour or until you deem the chicken cooked and the vegetables hot.

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A Day in the Life, Phase 1

Good gravy. Three of our four GFG team members have been clobbered by the out-of-control pollen in middle Tennessee this last couple weeks. I feel bad that we’ve all be suffering, but I take some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one. Some solidarity goes a long way. I think we’re all looking forward to a new week and to feeling normal and healthy again. In an effort to make that happen, Molly has gone to Phase 1 for the time being, and I think it might be smart for me as well. So let’s talk about how to survive Phase 1 (click here for a refresher on the rules for Phase 1).

Phase 1 kicked my butt at first. Then I whined and had dreams about bread and potatoes. And then it kicked my butt again and more and harder. I was starving all the time during those first two to three weeks. My body (more likely my brain) didn’t know how to feel full without grains and dairy. My body was going through quite a detox and what I now realize was a healing crisis. I already felt so crummy because of the allergy and autoimmune issues. Add detoxing, and it felt like climbing a small mountain every day just to do the shopping and prep work. I believe that the addictive properties of certain foods also contribute to a feeling of withdrawal. I was definitely experiencing some French fry and coffee DTs on any given day during those first weeks.

In order to survive, I decided to stick to a small number of repeated meals. I didn’t want to get bored, but I also didn’t feel well enough to get creative and grandiose with my meal plans. Sticking closely to the restricted diet was the most important thing to me. I needed the allergic reaction to stop, for the inflammation to go down, for my thyroid to start working, and I desperately wanted to feel better. It was difficult though! All my go-to foods of the past were off limits—potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, cheese, yogurt, coffee, Coke, ahem, Chick-fil-A. Food prep does take longer with this lifestyle; be prepared for that. One of the easiest ways for me to stay on target was to repeat my breakfasts and lunches. It’s not the end of the world to eat the same breakfast and lunch every other day! If and when I do Phase 1 again, I’ll have new ammo in my arsenal. I already know which foods to rely on, and I will add juicing and smoothies now that I have both a juicer and a Vitamix. Just adding juicing and smoothies would greatly shorten the withdrawal time, I believe. I also have some recipes with coconut and almond flour now (as well as using almond flour to bread chicken). Many more options!

Below is a very basic breakdown of the foods/meals I relied on for the first eight weeks. Anything in italics will eventually have a recipe posted. Please be patient. I don’t have recipes for some of these things and will need to retrace my steps and update this post occasionally with recipes. Most of these are no-brainers (everyone knows how to make a good veggie scramble, right?), but if you have questions, just let me know in the comments. I’m happy to share cooking tips, recipes, etc. 🙂

Always have food with you. That is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember during Phase 1 (and always, really). Very little pre-made food in grocery stores or restaurants is acceptable, so you need to be prepared at all times.

On hand for snacking:

  • raw almonds and other approved nuts and seeds
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • fruit and vegetables
  • almond butter
  • Kind Bars (but only in case of emergency, as these have cane sugar, dried fruit, and puffed rice)

Breakfast:

  • green tea with a little stevia or agave (I switched to half-caf coffee after a few weeks and now prefer that with a bit of unsweetened almond or soy milk and no sweetener)
  • sliced apple with almond butter
  • banana and berries topped with slivered almonds
  • hard-boiled egg and tomato cucumber salad
  • veggie scramble
  • turkey wrap (veggies, goat cheese, and homemade vinaigrette wrapped in slices of Boar’s Head turkey)
  • fresh-pressed juice or smoothie (add approved protein powder as desired)

Lunch:

  • salad with loads of veggies; chicken, steak, or tuna; goat cheese; and homemade vinaigrette
  • homemade soups (no grains, potatoes, or pasta)—the options here are too many to count!

Dinner:

  • veggie scramble with goat cheese and salsa (sometimes with turkey sausage too)
  • steak or chicken and veggies
  • stir-fry with cauliflower “rice” (no soy sauce, no rice)
  • paleo pancakes with butter, almond butter, and fruit
  • oven-roasted veggies with over-easy eggs and crumbled goat cheese on top
  • salad

Bedtime:

  • herbal tea with stevia or a little agave (don’t go bonkers with the agave though)
  • fruit and nuts or eggs

I know this probably doesn’t look very exciting, but keep in mind that every lunch/dinner dish includes veggies, and the options there are pretty much limitless. Do lots of peppers in your veggie scramble one night; the next, roast broccoli and asparagus with poached eggs on top. Do a chopped salad one day with olives, artichokes, tomatoes, and turkey; the next, do spinach, raspberries, goat cheese, and almonds. Flavor options are endless, really. There’s no reason to be bored by this plan. Remember, you are cooking everything in coconut oil or butter only and using olive oil only for making vinaigrettes.

Recipes to come . . . Happy eating!

* All pics are from Phase 1 meals. They look pretty tasty, huh?

Phase 1: Detoxing for Dummies

I didn’t know what to expect when I first started seeing Dr. WooWoo. After that initial allergic reaction, I’d been on a prednisone and Benadryl bender and generally felt jumpy, sick, and miserable. Any kind of solution that didn’t involve a drug was exactly what I was looking for. Someone who had seen Dr. WooWoo a couple years prior had shared some of the diet changes, so I knew some restrictions were coming my way. This was all a little bit scary to a girl who had been on a junk-food-a-palooza for the five months prior.

Let me tell you: those first weeks were hard. Some nights after work, I would wander around Whole Foods, sniffing loaves of bread, whispering sweet nothings to the boxes of pasta, cradling wedges of brie, looking longingly at everything in the deli cases and food bars, all of which I couldn’t eat. The doctor wasn’t kidding about how saturated all our foods are with these three key food groups I had to cut out for the first eight weeks. I learned pretty quickly that the absolute only way to hold to this eating regimen was to cook for myself–and to set aside adequate time for all the prep, which was a little daunting at first.

You’re probably thinking, Hey, Jen. It’s so rad that you’re telling me about this terrible eating plan that is so hard and made you miserable. Sign me up!

I’m really selling it, huh? No cheeseburger-colored glasses here! I just want to put it out from the get-go that that this isn’t a piece of cake. (See? Already I’m preparing you. There is NO CAKE in Phase 1.)

But there is a huge and compelling reason to give this lifestyle change a try: you will feel awesome after a couple weeks. This gluten-free thing for me is about more than finding cheats or replacements for all my former favorite foods. I’m trying to change everything about the way I care for my body, and I can tell you that it has made a huge difference in my well-being. Some days are harder than others and I’ve had to re-learn and re-think many things, but the payoff has been undeniable. Take what you will from this, and feel free to ask me questions! I do love blabbing about this stuff . . .

Some notes:

  • The goal of Phase 1 is multifaceted: a gentle detox from all the garbage that has built up in your system (refined, processed foods; empty white products; SUGAR; bad fats), an overall reduction of inflammation in the body, alkalizing your system, and kind of a reset button on your cravings (especially sugar).
  • This isn’t a “diet.” You are not depriving yourself. It’s not some kind of fad or quick-weight-loss gimmick. It’s not low-carb, sugar-free, cabbage soup, or any other get-healthy/thin-quick plan. There is no counting of points, no carbs vs. protein, no “fruit is bad.” It’s a new way of life based on whole foods, the way they’re found in nature.
  • Some of the elements might seem counterintuitive to you. I understand that. Americans have been programmed to consume low-fat, high-grain, high-dairy. I challenge you to research anything on this list that doesn’t fit your current mentality. I think you’ll be surprised, like I was, about how truly backward many of our mind-sets are.
  • Try to shop organic if you can. Refer the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen so you can make some distinctions. Be prepared to shell out a little more dough at the grocery store. I don’t know what to tell you: real food is more expensive. But I think you’ll find relatively quickly that you are spending less eating out and that you are in a pattern that is doable. There are ways to make lower-cost items go further (eggs for example), and once you get to Phase 2, costs should go down further. Prepare to shop more often as well since you’ll be consuming so many perishable items. Here’s a good reminder: if it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, skip it!
  • Remind yourself that this isn’t forever. Phase 1 is only eight weeks. You can do it! And remember that you are giving your most valuable resource–your body–a chance to heal by truly feeding it, maybe for the first time, with real and life-giving foods. If anything, look at this as a vacation for your body–a chance to revel in easily digestible and healing foods.
  • Try new things! The Internet is a wealth of ideas and information. Look for recipes. Try new produce. Open your mind. It’s kinda fun, people.
  • Complete legalism will only make a person stumble. Give yourself a couple cheat meals every week. It makes a huge difference to allow yourself this in the early stages. Down the road? Those cheats will likely become less intriguing.
  • I’m only going to share a rough outline of what the naturopath and many sources online laid out for me. If you want more specific or thorough details, I suggest you find a Dr. WooWoo of your very own or take charge of your health and start doing some research. I’ll answer as many questions as I can, but I’m not an expert by any means. I will lay out what NOT to eat, a few key things to add, and a basic list of foods you can have on Phase 1.

Here are the three big things you will AVOID during Phase 1:

  • DAIRY (anything from cow’s milk)
  • GRAIN (all grains; that means NO bread, pasta, no rice, and pretty much all packaged foods)
  • SUGAR (anything refined–this does not refer to fruit)

Here’s a big “no duh”: NO artificial anything. This stuff is poison. No fake coffee creamers, no diet soda, no artificial sweeteners, no “low-fat,” no “fiber added.” For now, you also won’t be having “gluten-free” products–no mixes or pre-made stuff. You will naturally be eating gluten-free by cutting out all the grains. Don’t add any empty GF stuff in Phase 1. And no fast-food, chips, candy, soda, or any of that other junk.

Here is what you will be eating:

  • GOOD FATSstart cooking with coconut oil! I’m serious. Your body needs fat. It’s just doesn’t need garbage fat. America has this all backwards. Coconut oil is incredibly healthy (see Lisa’s torrid love letter to coconut oil), full of medium chain fatty acids and healing properties. The only fats you should use for cooking are quality coconut oil and butter. Use olive oil only for dressings (lower smoke point = carcinogens. You feel me?).
  • MEAT: (NO pork or roast beef; if you buy deli meat, buy quality preservative-free and nitrite-free ).
  • EGGS: you might be eating a lot of these.
  • GOAT’S MILK PRODUCTS: chevre saved my life. I’m not kidding.
  • NUT/SEED MILKS: almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk.
  • NUTS/SEEDS: (NO macadamia nuts, peanuts (butter), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios).
  • VEGETABLES: (NO potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, jicama, waterchestnuts).
  • BEANS/LEGUMES: (NONE on Phase 1!).
  • FRUIT: a few restrictions here based on glycemic level; otherwise the sky’s the limit! (NO dried fruit, canned fruit, apricot, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapes, guava, kiwi, mango, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, quince).
  • CONDIMENTS/DRESSINGS: (NO pre-made); make your own vinaigrette (I’ll share recipes later!).
  • SWEETENERS: agave, honey, and stevia for now, and even these should be limited.
  • BEVERAGES: water, green or herbal tea, fresh-pressed juices.

I know it probably looks like I’ve just given you a long list of NO. Believe me, the list of YES is so much longer! Just go the produce department and wander. Do you honestly consume everything that is there for the taking? I think you’ll be surprised by how much delicious whole food you’ve been missing out on.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of my meal plans from those first eight weeks. (This isn’t as fun as cookies and Yumm sauce, but I think it’s important! You’ll get to these things in time.) Believe it or not, I’ve been out of Phase 1 for over two months, and I still haven’t added back dairy, sugar, or most grains (I do enjoy occasional brown rice and quinoa). I feel so much better and am so satisfied that I haven’t felt the need or urge to add these things back in. I’m truly shocked that this lifestyle change has stuck . . . but it has. I feel so much better that the bread/brie/pasta makeout-fest I dreamed of all those months ago mostly leaves me cold. Amazing, no?

Now I’m off to enjoy a veggie scramble with goat cheese and a quiet evening of cuddles with my fat cat. See you here again soon!

A Setback and Some Perspective

Over the weekend, I took care of a sick husband. I disinfected. Made soup. Juiced. Took lots of supplements. Washed my hands religiously. This was no man cold; it was actual illness. I may have overshared about phlegm and coughing and sent “I don’t want to get sick” texts to a couple friends. When he could barely stand or hold his eyes open on Sunday, I took him to urgent care. (Spoiler alert: several hundred dollars later, we walked out with no remedy.) After watching a young woman stagger past us clutching a barf bucket and seeing the look of terror on the check-in lady’s face as Andy wheezed and coughed while trying to decipher the text on the intake form (“Am I a mildly frowny face of pain or a stern frowny face?”), I asked the nurse how she stays well. My hopes of a medical career were thwarted years ago by my extreme disinterest in getting sick. Like, it’s probably a bit of a condition how much I avoid sick people.

“Hand washing,” she said. “I don’t get sick, and I wash my hands like crazy.”

“Don’t you worry, Nurse Nancy. I’ve got that COVERED.” In neatly lined-up, OCD spades. Andy was barely conscious for most of the doctor visit, but I have no doubt he saw the look of victory on my face when she affirmed my hand washing rules. I do love being right. After my mom’s cancer battle and bone marrow transplant, I never let go of the thorough hand washing and hygiene practices we ratcheted up during that time. I figured I was one-upping the nurse with my super healthy lifestyle these days. I’ve got this. After we got home, I continued to disinfect, juice, smoothie, and herb myself and Andy and hope for the best. And then . . . I started to feel the beginnings of an ache in my joints, a scratchy throat, my sinuses filling.

At that point my complaining reached new levels. I’m not sure how people stay friends with me on the Internet, let alone in real life. My personal life is a little, well, solitary, so Facebook sadly gets to hear about my every move (sorry, people! hide me from your feed!). My immediate situation apparently dictates all I’m capable of acknowledging in the world at large: I’m sick. Hear me. I am incapable of talking about anything else. Oh, the drama that is mine.

Thing is? I really hate it when people talk about that kind of stuff on Facebook. I get irritated with updates about which kid is vomiting, who had a long night, and so forth. And then I go and do the same thing!? Also . . . it often seems like the people who talk the most about being sick are the ones doing all the healthified stuff. I don’t want to be that person.

By Tuesday, I was ready to pack it in. This whole “lifestyle change” obviously hadn’t delivered on its promises. A little over two weeks ago, I replaced my allergy prescriptions for one day with an herbal supplement and was almost instantly overtaken by an allergy attack. (I hadn’t done the gallbladder flush Dr. WooWoo had prescribed, which still sounds weird and gross to me, but still.) Then this darn flu. I shouldn’t be sick. I have forsaken dairy, gluten, and sugar (mostly) for the last few months. I have supplemented appropriately for what my body needs. I have started sleeping for the first time in 15 years. I have felt stronger. The minute I took a turn for the worse, I was ready to have a Coke and a box of donuts and say a big, fat “Screw you!” to all this effort. Tons of people neglect their health and don’t get sick. If I went back to my eating habits of yore—coffee, Coke, bread, chips, fries, sweets, eating out, and more—I probably still would have gotten sick. But at least I would be happy! Mouth full of HFCS and MSG! Gut full of garbage! Clutching a half-eaten cookie and passed out in front of the TV, where I belong!

I’m all tangled up. I can’t understand why dear friends and family—who take good care of their bodies, far better care than I ever have—are battling serious illness. How does that work? You know what? It doesn’t. Amid my confusion and self-centeredness, I’m trying to remind myself of a few things:

I didn’t get as sick as I might have in the past.

Perhaps this is due in part to my body being able to fight the germies with a little more stamina? Normally, after one day of a cold, I’m already at the doctor’s office with a sinus infection, bronchitis, what-have-you. That hasn’t happened. Lord willing, tomorrow will be much better. My body seems to be miraculously fighting this on its own.

have felt much better the last few months.

Some days I’m truly shocked that I wake up a) having slept and b) without being miserable. I get through my afternoons without a ginormous Coke or iced tea. My afternoons are productive. I know other people have noticed the change as well. My energy is different, my mood and emotional well-being are consistent, and my brain is sharper (most days). As of Tuesday, I had completely forgotten that reality.

I am catching up with a pretty hefty nutritional deficit.

Although I had made one healthy lifestyle choice a year ago, I hadn’t even tried to clean up my eating. When I started working out of the home again last May, I basically stopped cooking altogether and spiraled even further into processed garbage. Those first six months at my job are the unhealthiest I have ever eaten. I don’t know why. Transition? Laziness? Stress? Add an autoimmune disorder, and I was a hot mess.

Getting sick isn’t a nutritional failure.

Part of me is embarrassed that I’ve preached this healthy lifestyle nonsense for the last few months and then been knocked down hard twice in the last two weeks. Who am I to be spouting off about gluten-free this and no-sugar that if I’m still going to be a “delicate little flower,” a family nickname that has always upset me? I don’t want to be annoying and false and wrong, you know? (See “obnoxious ‘healthy’ and yet sick people,” above.) (See also “girl with uncontrollable need to be right.”) I’m also embarrassed that the flu or an allergy attack even register on my radar. This isn’t cancer. I obviously have some personal work to do in this area.

Healthy choices don’t equal immunity.

The healthiest person on the planet could drop dead tomorrow. The unhealthiest could live to be 100. There is no magic formula.

And I guess that’s where I’m still tripped up.

Why am I doing this? Why do I feel the need to evangelize? Is it all in my head? Where is the balance? (I’m going to ask myself that again in a week, when I presume I’ll be feeling fully myself again.) And why am I convinced that this has changed my life and could be a positive change for you? The biggest part is my personal experience. Part of it is based on a lot of reading and puzzling over statistics and figures (although we all know that food science seems to change rapidly and often, so I’m not going to hold to anything too tightly). Part of it is trust in the naturopathic doctor who hasn’t led me astray so far and has gotten me off one prescription med completely and gotten my thyroid working again. Part of it is my gut (ha). This lifestyle makes sense to me. I feel like I’m feeding my spirit instead of my flesh—and that feels really good (even if cake pops aren’t part of the deal).

I read an article on NPR Monday night, and one line immediately made me laugh: “People who consumed about one serving of red meat (beef, pork or lamb) per day had a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, compared with those who were eating very little meat.” My mortality could be reduced by 13% if I cut out meat? Immortal! But without steak or bacon? What would be the point, I ask you?

I guess this lifestyle change and the blog come down to one thing for me: stewardship. I want to care for the body I’ve been given and to feel energized and interested in experiencing the world around me. I want to have energy for creativity, relationships, and adventure. And in a brief amount of time, I’ve already seen the fruits of changing my stewardship (with a little bacon-y risk thrown in every week). How could I not evangelize? I’m not saying that being gluten-free or dairy-free or cutting out refined sugars is right for you, but I would love for you to know that there are options, that there is another way to eat and live than what Americans are accustomed to, a balanced approach that can be healing to your body and spirit—and that it’s not that hard and doesn’t involve deprivation or dieting. An amazing array of life-giving foods is here for the taking.

And I can’t wait to tell you more about it . . . as soon as I stop sneezing.

Recipe Rip-Off: Yumm Sauce (à la Jen)

There is a great restaurant chain in Oregon called Cafe Yumm! If have the opportunity to visit my lovely home state, definitely check it out. I don’t want to take away from their business in any way by posting a knock-off recipe, but I can’t live without the sauce and I’m 2,500 miles away! You can find copycat recipes all over online, but none of them has been quite right (and a couple are downright WRONG), so I’ve made some tweaks that I think get it pretty close to what I remember of the original. Even if it’s not exact, it’s still dang good—for a rice/bean/veggie bowl, on a salad, as a veggie dip, whatever.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce. I find it easier to just whir up a big batch and either share with friends or freeze half of it. I know some people shun soy altogether. I try to avoid it, but for this recipe, it’s such a small amount per serving that I’m willing to include it. Also, it’s highly critical that you use nutritional yeast, not brewer’s yeast, which is what some of the ripoff recipes online list. They are two very different things. It must be nutritional yeast (which I promise will find its way into other areas of your cooking, like on popcorn). Okay, enough nagging. Let’s get Yumm-ing!

Yumm Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup organic canola oil (preferably cold pressed) OR sunflower oil {see this chart if you’re interested in info on oils}
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (for a creamier sauce, use almond meal/flour)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (freeze the rest or make hummus)
  • 1/2 package+ silken tofu (add more or use the rest in smoothies; I use about 3/4 of the package)
  • 1/2 cup+ filtered water (important for flavor)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh is best)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (small to medium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro {something I never thought I’d purchase}
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (available at Whole Foods in the supplement area or online)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon citric acid (optional; helps preserve the color and adds an acidic kick)
Directions:
  1. In a food processor or blender, blend almonds, beans, tofu, and oil until smooth. In my new Vitamix (wheeee!), the sauce comes out much smoother than in the food processor.
  2. Add all other ingredients, and puree until creamy smooth. Add more water and/or lemon juice until it reaches the consistency you desire.
  3. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator for one hour.

This will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for 7-10 days. I’ve also frozen the sauce, and it has thawed fine. However, we usually end up scarfing it up before we ever have a chance to freeze it.

Yumm Bowl. Here’s what you want to do. Layer a bowl with the following:

  • brown rice or quinoa or this sprouted rice/quinoa blend I’ve been loving lately
  • beans or the protein of your choice
  • a generous layer of Yumm-ish sauce
  • veggies: tomato, black olives, shredded carrots, scallions, avocado, peppers, etc.
  • shredded sharp cheddar (if you’re doing dairy)
  • sour cream (again, if you’re doing dairy)
  • fresh cilantro

Bam.

Put it on a burrito. Dip your crudites in it. Dress a salad. Eat a spoonful of it in front of the open fridge door at midnight. Oh, wait. That’s just me. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free, high in protein, and SO, so flavorful. Really, the sky’s the limit. Let me know what you think and what other ways you find to use this delicious sauce!

Comfort Food: Molly’s Meatloaf

When I was first diagnosed as gluten-free, the foods I missed the most inevitably fell under the designation of “comfort food,” so over the past nine years I’ve created my own recipes to fill the void left by my favorites. Now, not all of these are super-healthy, but they aren’t all that bad either. I’ll share one of these a week! First up is my “meatloaf;” This doesn’t make a nice loaf-pan style meatloaf and it contains very few ingredients that you might be used to seeing in traditional meatloaf, but it hits the spot and it one of my husband’s favorites. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef (grass-fed is best!)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2-1 9oz bag of baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 C. gluten free oats (for a dryer loaf, you can sub in almond meal for the oats)
  • 1/3 C. slivered almonds (or any other nut you love!)
  • 1/3 C. Ketchup (I use all-natural versions with no corn and no wheat)
  • 1/4 C. gf, low sodium worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 C. goat cheese or parmesan cheese (optional)
  • a squirt of lemon juice
  • a squirt of your favorite hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic to taste
  • a teaspoon of Oregano (optional)
  • a teaspoon of Oregano (optional)
  • a teaspoon of Rosemary (optional)
  • 1/3 C. Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Directions:
1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2.) coat a 9″x13″ baking dish with olive oil
3.) mix all ingredients together in a large bowl using a large spoon, a stand mixer, or your (squeaky clean, of course!) hands

4.) Spread mixture into pan and bake for about 30 minutes

5.) A build-up of juices may accumulate on the top of your loaf if you aren’t using the leanest possible meat. I skim this off the top and dispose of it, but you can leave it for a “juicier” loaf.

6.) Serve piping hot!

This recipe feeds about 6 people and the leftovers make excellent meatloaf sandwiches using gluten-free bread!

Keep an eye out for my mac & cheese next week!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These are inspired by Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Healthy Deep-Dish Cookie Pie. I’ve made some tweaks to her recipe and halved it (it’s just not smart for me to have more than this amount in my house at a given time!). These are incredibly gooey and delicious and a total sneak for people who are leery of “weird, healthy food” (I get this line a lot at my own house). I’ve taken them to work and to a party. Everyone who tried tried them said they never would have guessed that the primary ingredients are garbanzo beans and oatmeal.

{Note: this is no Pioneer Woman or Smitten Kitchen, so don’t get all fired up about the possibility of beautiful step-by-step photos. Or high-quality photos of any kind for that matter. I will just tell you right now that most photos on my recipes are likely to be taken with my iPhone in my dimly lit and windowless kitchen. I’m sorry. I hope that will change down the road. I promise you that I won’t post a recipe unless I truly believe it’s fantastic. Hopefully that will be enough to make you consider giving it a try, lousy photo or not.}

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

  • 1 can unseasoned white beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed {I used garbanzos}
  • 1/2 cup quick oats or certified-gf quick oats
  • 3 medjool dates {don’t forget to take out the pits!}
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c Sucanat and 1/3 c agave
  • 1 1/2 T canola oil {I plan to use coconut oil for the next batch, as it’s much healthier}
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips {if you’re feeling frisky, why not try a blend of the two?}
  1. Blend everything except the chips very well in the food processor. {Be aware that your mixture won’t smell very good at this point. It will smell like beans with vanilla, which is, well, weird. Never fear! I swear that once you bake the bars, you’ll never remember that the base is beans.}
  2. Stir in chips, and pour into a small oiled pan (I used a small pie plate; a double batch fits nicely in a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish).
  3. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Cut yourself a mammoth slice and enjoy! Once they have cooled, I store them in the fridge. When hot, these would be fabulous with your ice cream of choice (dairy or non-dairy) and chocolate sauce. This morning, the cooled cookie bars had a melt-in-my-mouth fudgy consistency. Divine. And I didn’t even feel guilty about eating one for breakfast.

I plan to play with this recipe as a base for breakfast bars with add-ins of dried fruit, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes. I think a big batch would freeze well individually wrapped and would make a great breakfast go-to on rushed mornings. I’ll keep you posted.