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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Vegetarian Lentil Chili… nourishing and very filling!

If any of you read my last post, I announced I had just started online classes to go for my Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition. I have been wanting to write a new blog post recently, but the transition back into school is more challenging than I expected. Also, my husband has been doing a Cleansing diet these past two weeks and my cooking has been very, very basic. He’s been eating only vegetables, fruit and lentil chili. His lentil chili recipe is very good! It’s sweet and slightly spicy and very filling.

This recipe makes enough chili to last him several days! I eat it once or twice, but I need a little more variety for dinner than chili every night…

The chili is cooked in a crock-pot/slow cooker for most of the day. It makes the house smell like a Mexican restaurant – yum! If you prepare it the night before and cook it during the day, then when you come home after a busy day at work, dinner is ready to eat. Add a little shredded cheese, a few tortilla chips, a nice salad and voila’  – an easy meal.

Lentils are legumes and are very nutritious. They are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron and other important minerals like phosphorus and manganese. They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Lentils make a healthy addition to any eating plan!

Enjoy!!

Sweet and Spicy Vegetarian Lentil Chili 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1½ cups dried lentils, rinsed

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups water

1 cup apple juice

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cook about 30 seconds longer. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and seasonings. Stir in the water and apple juice, cover and cook on Low for 8 hours. Add more water if chili gets too thick. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Tinkyada Pasta… a staple in our gluten-free kitchen!!

My husband is a pasta-lover! Sometimes I tell him he has spaghetti sauce running through his veins instead of blood. He could eat pasta with red sauce three meals a day for an entire week and not get bored with it. Now, I like a good Italian meal, but not to that extreme. Also, I want to clarify that we don’t really eat pasta all day, every day – because I do most of the cooking and I like variety!

When we had to switch our cooking style to gluten-free, we tried so many brands of rice pasta and corn pasta that we did eat it often. It was like being Goldilocks with the three bears – this one is too soft, this one is too hard. Then we found the Tinkyada brand. I’m not saying this will ever replace a fresh semolina wheat pasta dish from a really good Italian restaurant – but seeing as that would send my husband into days of illness, the Tinkyada brand has really been a great substitute.

I can purchase this brand in my local grocery store in their organic foods section. It comes in several different shapes and pasta-types – spaghetti, linguine, ziti, elbows, spirals, and probably more. Ask your grocer to stock it if you don’t see it – maybe they will.

I have also tried using it to make a cold pasta salad, which did not work as well as I’d hoped. It turned out too tough and chewy as a cold dish. So, my suggestion is keep it hot and covered with a yummy sauce of your choice. As with anything I suggest, your personal taste preferences are what matters the most. If you like it – great! If not, move onto the next product and keep trying to find the one you like best…

Enjoy!!

P.S. Some fun news from Gluten-Free Medley… I have just started a Masters of Science program in Holistic Nutrition! It’s an online course and it will take me about 2-3 years to complete. I’m very excited about this program and I hope to incorporate some of the information I will be learning into this blog, so stay tuned…

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Ingredients/Products

 

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Sea Grass Bistro in Yarmouth, Maine…phenomenal food and gluten-free!!

Photo courtesy of Sea Grass Bistro Facebook page.

Last night, my husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We usually go into the city of Portland and eat somewhere we’ve been before and know the menu has gluten-free options. We wanted something different this time, something special. I let my husband decide where we would go, because he’s the one with the diet restrictions and I wanted him to feel comfortable with a new restaurant. So, he did a general search for gluten-free menus in the Portland area. I’m not quite sure how he found this restaurant, but I’m very glad he did! It’s the Sea Grass Bistro and it’s located in the town of Yarmouth, Maine – about half way between Portland and Freeport (home to L.L. Bean‘s flagship store).

The majority of the menu items are gluten-free and they are clearly marked with a GF on the menu. We both enjoyed an appetizer – my husband had a creamy risotto with roasted red peppers and I had a small piece of grilled tuna with pea pods. We followed this with a very light and tasty salad of local mixed greens. Our entrees were melt-in-your-mouth delicious! My husband enjoyed a parmesan crumb-crusted pollack filet and I had the pan-seared breast of duck. According to our server, the menu changes every three weeks. All of my food items were gluten-free, too, and I let my husband taste each one. For dessert, he had a flour-less chocolate torte and I had home-made coconut ice cream.

Remember the movie “When Harry Met Sally” and Meg Ryan did that scene in the diner? My husband thought his chocolate torte would qualify for that kind of scene!!

So, if you are ever in this area of Maine, make a visit to the L.L. Bean store and for dinner, head down Route 1 and eat at the Sea Grass Bistro. Maybe you’ll see us there – we will be going back, often!!!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Dining Out

 

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Brown Rice Crackers…make your own, any flavor you like!

Rice Crackers with Chili Powder

On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I bought some brown rice tortillas. I was hoping they would be a nice change for a sandwich/roll-up. When my husband and I tried them later, the tortillas broke apart and the fillings fell out all over our plates. Maybe they would’ve worked better if we’d heated them on the stove or in the microwave, but I don’t like warm bread, personally. So, I had to find another use for them because I don’t like to waste food.

These crackers are pretty simple to make and you can use whatever spices you like best – chili powder, garlic, rosemary, lemon-pepper, cayenne, dill, basil, sesame seed, cinnamon and sugar,…. the list is endless! Let your imagination run free!

Rice Crackers with Rosemary and Garlic

I didn’t do a price comparison ounce for ounce, but they may be cheaper to make yourself than buy the bags of rice crackers at the grocery store. Plus, my husband liked that he could customize them with his favorite flavors! It will also work well with soft, gluten-free, corn tortillas. If they last long enough, they will store well in an airtight container. Our batches were gone by the end of the day!

Write to me and let me know what flavors you like best…

Enjoy!!

Brown Rice Crackers

1 pkg. (12 oz.) Brown Rice Tortillas

olive oil spray

salt

chili powder

dried rosemary

dried garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil spray. Stack half of the tortillas on top of each other and hand cut them into cracker-sized pieces. Spread evenly on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Spray the tops of the tortilla pieces with olive oil spray. Batch #1: Sprinkle salt and chili powder evenly over the pieces. Bake in oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove and transfer to a plate to cool. Stack the remaining tortillas and cut into pieces. Spread on the cookie sheet and spray with olive oil. Batch #2: Sprinkle salt, rosemary and garlic powder evenly over tortilla pieces. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate to cool.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Appetizers/Snacks

 

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My perfect scrambled eggs!

I have never been a fan of scrambled eggs. Their consistency and texture just didn’t feel right, all rubbery and lumpy. I’ll still eat them because I know the health benefits of eggs, but I don’t enjoy them. I do remember liking my mother’s scrambled eggs – probably because she cooked them in leftover bacon fat. She always had a small container of bacon fat in the refrigerator ready to slather into a fry pan for whatever needed frying. Those days are long gone in my house, in favor of healthier oils. But they sure tasted good – salty and dripping with grease…

Never mind the bacon fat… I have finally learned how to cook my perfect scrambled eggs. It’s all thanks to the April 2012 issue of “Bon Appetit” magazine. They have a great article on how to cook eggs many different ways – poaching, scrambling, making a souffle’, making carbonara or aioli sauce, and making flan. Even this old dog can learn some new tricks!

For my perfect scrambled eggs, there is no recipe. It’s the technique that’s most important – cooking slowly over low heat and stirring constantly. I made them two days in a row for breakfast using two different types of pans, just to be certain I could duplicate them. (That’s the scientist in me!) They came out creamy and rich each time!

I started by breaking two eggs into a small mixing bowl. I added a small amount of water – about 1 tablespoon – and using my whisk, I beat the eggs very well. I like my eggs simple so I added a dash of salt and pepper, but any spice could be added at this point. Whisk in the spices, too. I set the heat under my fry pan to medium low and added 1 tablespoon butter. Once the butter melted, I added the eggs. This part is critical – the eggs must be continually stirred/whisked while cooking, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the eggs are just beginning to thicken. Turn the heat down if they start sticking to the pan. Keep stirring, but don’t let them dry out. Total cooking time is about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and serve. Yum!!

The article mentions the reason for the constant stirring and whisking is to keep the eggs from forming large curds. It aerates them so they will cook evenly and be fluffy.

Enjoy and happy cooking!!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Breakfast

 

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Kale again? Our new favorite veggie!!

Kale

Kale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I realize I just posted a recipe using kale not too long ago (Kale Chips). But, at the dinner table Sunday evening, my husband said something like this… ” I never thought I’d hear these words come out of my mouth…this kale recipe is so delicious!!!” 

This may not sound so odd, but a few weeks ago when our son was home for Spring Break, he bought kale and prepared a tasty, warm kale salad. (I also made the kale chips mentioned above.) My husband was less than enthusiastic about eating it. He has never liked kale. Even though he enjoyed my son’s recipe, we did tweak it a little when we tried it again. What I created for Sunday’s dinner was yet another tweak, with a few new exotic ingredients.

Unlike spinach or beet greens, kale keeps it’s structure when cooked. You start off with a good amount and it stays intact, not shrinking down to nothing. Also, this side dish isn’t soggy, like so many cooked greens. Those are the reasons my husband enjoyed this recipe so much. It still had “oomph” to it! We are definitely adding it to our regular list of side dishes. My husband even asked me to add kale to the grocery list this week!

Please use the following amounts as a guide. Once you taste it, adjust anything to suit your own tastebuds. Try not to heat the walnut oil too high – it can be delicate and may change its flavor and lose some of its health benefits. Some of the ingredients may be in the Exotic/International food section of your grocery store or you may have to go to a specialty store in your area. It’s worth it!

Warm Kale Greens 

2 tablespoons walnut oil

1 medium shallot, chopped fine

1 large bunch fresh kale, rinsed, large stems removed, chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (sometimes called “syrup”)

¼ cup sliced almonds

salt/pepper to taste

Heat the walnut oil over medium heat, in a large wok-type pan. Add the chopped shallot and cook for a couple minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the chopped kale and stir to coat the greens. Continue to stir/toss for about 3-4 minutes to cook the kale. Add the red pepper flakes and the pomegranate molasses. Stir/toss to blend. Cook for another minute. Add the sliced almonds, mix in with the kale and remove from the heat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Side Dishes

 

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