easy-peasy granola

GRANOLAIMAGE-01 I love, love, love a good bowl of granola in the morning (or at lunchtime...or for dinner :)) We try to stick mostly paleo, with a few modifications. For instance, I know that GF oats do not mess up my stomach or trigger headaches, and to break up the monotony of eggs every day for breakfast (and to temper the sting of never having bagels--which still hurts from time to time) I eat granola fairly often. This particular recipe is my tried-and-true and I wanted to share it with you!

I adapted a recipe originally from Epicurious and modified it a bit to taste better (in my opinion.) Here are the ingredients:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (I use gluten free oats from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced almonds (do get sliced--slivered aren't great and whole are impossible to slice yourself)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or you can use coconut to be extra healthy!)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375. Grease a shallow glass baking dish, or line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper (I find that parchment paper really does work the best, vs. foil or even greased foil. But a glass dish has been the best for even cooking in our gas oven--and I tried all different ways of cooking!)
  2. Toss together oats, almonds, coconut and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together oil, honey and vanilla, then stir into oat mixture until well coated.
  4. Spread mixture in baking dish and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (15-22 minutes in my temperamental gas oven)
  5. Let cool completely before spooning into container.

I usually make a double batch and store it in a big glass canister in our cabinet, and it lasts Matt and I over a week. Most mornings I eat it topped with berries with almond milk, like cereal, but it is also delicious mixed with yogurt if you're a dairy eater, or mixed together with sliced bananas, sliced apples and almond butter for a protein-packed breakfast or snack.

Enjoy!

 

 

the best gluten-free berry cobbler

One of these days I'll do a full post about my struggles with migraines that led me to my gluten/dairy-free lifestyle. At first, I thought avoiding dairy and gluten would mean I would never have anything good again, ever. Totally wrong! I am so grateful to have found so many downright delicious recipes that are easy to make, amazing to eat and best of all, don't give me migraines! This berry cobbler is one such recipe.

I think the crumbly biscuit topping is what makes this cobbler SO good. Not too sweet, not too dry or too juicy. It's the perfect recipe to use those last berries leftover from the summer! I used blueberries and blackberries in my version, but I'm sure it would be just as delicious with some raspberries and strawberries thrown in.

Here's the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the Blueberry Filling

  • 6 cups (30 ounces or 850 grams) fresh blueberries, sorted, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons (22.5 grams) gluten-free flour, such as King Arthur or Cup4Cup

For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping

  • 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (157.5 grams)  gluten-free flour, such as King Arthur or Cup4Cup
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.2 grams) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick or 84.75 grams) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
  • 1 large egg (mine weighed 52 grams w/o shell), slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (12.5 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, optional

 

PREPARATION

Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly butter 10-inch round quiche plate, pie plate or 2-quart baking dish. I like to use my 10-inch round French White Corningware® Quiche/Pie Plate.
Prepare the Blueberry Filling: Place blueberries into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. (I like to work the zest into the sugar with my fingers to release the essential oils for maximum flavor.) Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle mixture evenly over berries in prepared baking dish and toss gently. Make sure the sugar and flour mixture is evenly distributed over the fruit with no mounding in the center or in any one place. This will ensure the sugar will caramelize and the flour will thicken evenly throughout the cobbler with the berry juices. Set aside.
Prepare the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with small pea-sized pieces of butter. In a small bowl, whisk vanilla into beaten egg using a fork. With a fork, gently toss beaten egg and vanilla into flour mixture until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue to toss and blend gently with fingertips until well combined yet taking care not to overwork the dough.
Assemble the Cobbler: Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping evenly over fruit filling. Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping with sugar and, if desired, dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Alternatively, dust with cinnamon-sugar combining sugar and cinnamon before sprinkling over topping. If desired, dust freshly grated nutmeg over cinnamon-sugar.
Bake the Cobbler: Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.
Serve the Cobbler: Serve cobbler warm a la mode or with fresh whipped cream…or both!

**recipe originally from wicked good kitchen

the truth about juicing

Matt and I recently bought a juicer and jumped into the world of freshly juiced fruits and vegetables. I really had no idea what I was doing at all! I just kept seeing people with full glasses of delicious and healthy-looking juice on Instagram and thought, how hard can this be? So we ordered one on Amazon, stocked up on every kind of produce at Kroger and started our juicing experiment. There was a definitely a learning curve that we did NOT anticipate (I had a headache for ten days straight!) so I wanted to share some tips and tricks, if you're looking to add a bit of healthy kick to your diet! And, to be clear, we just added juices to our already existing diet of three regular meals a day (sometimes more--oops!) There are full-on juice cleanses that many people do, but I wasn't interested in that. I simply wanted to pack some more fruits and veggies and vitamins and antioxidants into my diet without forgoing real food entirely.

Here are four important tips to make your first juicing experience better!

1. DRINK TONS OF WATER  I think this may have contributed to my extended headache. I jumped into drinking 2 or 3 juices a day, and my body was rapidly ridding itself of the toxins, which is so good! But it's super important to aid that process by drinking tons of water. Basically, all of the good stuff in the fruits and vegetables puts your body into a sort of detox process, and it's pretty common to experience headaches or even flu-like symptoms for a week or so while your body adjusts. After all, even though it's good, your body probably is not used to the sheer amount of raw goodness it's now being fed! I normally drink 2-3 of my Camelbak water bottles in a day, but I had to step it up to 5, which equals 3.75 LITERS. Prepare to go to the bathroom a LOT!

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH I solicited some advice from friends via the reputable survey mechanism known as Facebook, and jumped into juicing by trying recipes that I was given. My first-ever juice was a dense green machine packed with spinach, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger. Whew! It was pretty good, but it was INTENSE for a first drink. And then I learned that kale, being such a super-food, can cause some intense "detox" symptoms and you should really work up to it! I know it can be overwhelming looking up information regarding health--everyone seems to disagree--but try your best to read up and maybe even follow a juicing plan as you ease into it. Here's a handy website with lots of great tips!

3. PREP AHEAD OF TIME I quickly learned that juicing can be pretty time-consuming if I didn't prep my ingredients beforehand. Rinsing, scrubbing, coring, chopping, peeling, every. single. time? No thank you! Not to mention the cleanup time afterwards. Now, I rinse and prep my produce as soon as I get home from the store that way it takes me less than 5 minutes to actually whip up a juice when I get the urge. Here's a great vinegar soak to get your produce pesticide-free! Of course, it's always best to buy organic and/or local, but I know that budgets don't always allow for the extra expense.

4. DRINK IT RIGHT AWAY + CLEAN IT RIGHT AWAY

The thing that makes juicing so great is all the raw nutrients that you are absorbing straight into your body. When you don't drink your juice right away, and store it instead, a lot of those nutrients are lost and no longer active by the time you consume it. I know, I know, it's tough with busy schedules! Morning is the hardest for me, but I know those extra vitamins and anti-oxidants are worth it! It's super important to clean the juicer right away, too. We rinse and wash all the plastic parts, which goes pretty quickly, and then let the pulp collector soak in a bath of HOT water, Dawn dishsoap (no other brand works as well!) and a few squirts of lemon juice. The soak loosens up all the pulp and then it's super easy to clean with the brush that was included with our juicer. I'll throw it in the soak for ten or so minutes while I get something else done, like folding laundry or straightening my hair.

 

I hope that helps! And just for fun, here are three recipes to get you started (I recommend the yummy, fruity one first!)

FRUIT PUNCH

2 green apples 2 kiwifruit 1/4 lemon with rind 1/4 lime with rind 2 oranges, peeled 1 pineapple 1 peach handful of berries

GREEN MACHINE

1 cucumber

3 stalks celery

1 lemon with rind

3 green apples

1 pear

1 handful kale

1 handful spinach

1 inch raw ginger, peeled

THE ORIGINAL V-8

2 carrots

3 celery stalks

1/2 cucumber

2 handfuls of parsley

1/2 sweet green pepper

1 cup spinach

3 medium tomatoes

the paleo adventure

A week ago TODAY I jumped on the Paleo train! "Paleo" is becoming kind of a buzzword and I have always been extremely skeptical of all the trendy fad diets that pop up constantly. I have always been small and thin, I've always had a great metabolism (knock on wood!) and I've never had to give a second thought to anything I ate. I've never counted calories--I don't even read labels. In high school when I was a varsity soccer player, I would eat two snickers bars and some french fries before playing a 90-minute game and have no problem. Food was fuel and I never thought twice about anything I was consuming. My thoughts on food have changed drastically over the past several months. For one, my younger brother is extremely health-concious and has been really influential in getting my parents to think about the food we're eating as a family. We started getting all-organic food and in an effort to cut down on my headaches, I cut all processed foods out of my diet, along with known "migraine trigger" foods. No more Easy Mac or ramen noodles. Nothing with MSG or sodium nitrates. Goodbye, $1 frozen pizzas. I started reading every single label before throwing it into the cart. And I felt a little better...sort of. But then migraines came back with a vengeance and I was super discouraged. I did allergy testing, which revealed I was allergic to a plethora of things, most severely to wheat and milk (the jury's out on whether "milk" actually means "all dairy"--I'll know more when I have my follow-up with the allergy doc.) It seemed like all signs were pointing to a serious diet overhaul....

So I started Paleo. It was an impulsive split-second decision. Last Tuesday evening I was suffering from a migraine that had lasted over 24 hours and I was so done with it. I was tired of refilling my migraine prescription every two weeks. So I went cold turkey. The basics of Paleo are this:

"Paleo is short for Paleolithic, and the premise of a Paleo diet centers around the idea that our bodies have not adapted sufficiently to eating foods that weren’t available to us 10,000 years ago. It is thought that more than 70% of food consumed today was never available in Paleolithic times.  We put so much processed food into our bodies; most which us unhealthy.  The advances in agriculture and mass food production have caused us to move away from eating real food; food meant to work with our bodies for optimal health.

 A Paleo diet involves eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little starch, some fruit and no sugar.  It means no grains, legumes, dairy or alcohol.  It means staying away from all processed foods. It means eating as our hunter-gathers ancestors did." (taken from Paleo Practical Living)

So in one fell swoop, I cut all that stuff out. No rice, no quinoa, no beer or Reese cups. No more $5 Little Caesar's pizza. And I replaced it with lots of organic fruits and veggies, meats, almond milk, coconut flour, etc. I'm surprised at how well it's going and how much better I feel!

I've had no headaches for one week. This is huge, for me.

Here is a quick breakdown of what I eat most days:

BREAKFAST: scrambled eggs with meat mixed in like organic breakfast sausage, bacon or ham / some fruit on the side/ orange juice / I also love this espresso protein shake

MID-MORNING SNACK: a banana or something sweet like a Paleo brownie or bit of lemon cake

LUNCH: half of an avocado with tuna salad scooped into the hollow where the pit used to be (I make my tuna salad with canned tuna, egg, relish and mayonnaise) / chicken breast or other meat / salad with grilled chicken and Italian dressing (organic dressing is best--no MSG!) / fruit / veggies

AFTERNOON SNACK: corn chips + salsa (some super-strict Paleo guides say no corn, but I'm not going by that because I'm not allergic to corn and I really crave something crunchy to munch on) / nuts like pistachios or almonds

DINNER: chicken or some other kind of meat/fish like salmon or tilapia, salad, veggies

DESERT: Paleo brownies are my new favorite

I've also gone out to eat a couple restaurants without much trouble. I had barbeque ribs at one place, which were delicious, along with french fries. Again, some super strict Paleo sites will tell you no potatoes, but mostly that's for people who are using Paleo to lose weight because potatoes have a high glycemic index (I can't believe I know what this is now). With my high metabolism, I don't think potatoes pose much of a risk for me. I also went out to Buffalo Wild Wings and had boneless honey-bbq wings with french fries and again, felt fine.

I'm still getting into the Paleo swing and have a couple cookbooks on my wish list, like this one and this one, both recommended by friends.

There have definitely been some hard moments, like when my family was eating Domino's pizza (pizza is my FAVORITE) and I was gingerly nibbling a Paleo pizza with a crust that just was not quite right, or Easter morning when I used lots of expensive baking ingredients to make blueberry muffins I hoped would taste like normal but instead they were gritty and weird. It's all a learning process. I did eat a mini Reese cup two nights ago because I was craving it SO bad and it didn't even taste good, so that feels like a huge step.

If you eat Paleo, what are some of your favorite recipes? I am so encouraged by how good I'm feeling after only a week and can't wait to discover more delicious things to cook for myself!