Simple Quinoa Rice Pilaf

So I have a confession, I am totally in love with quinoa. There is such a nice flavor that comes from quinoa. It is almost a nutty and savory taste that is accompanied by a slight crunchiness that sends your tastebuds on a journey. When I first was introduced to quinoa I was hesitant, but after just one taste I was hooked. What makes quinoa so intriguing is that it is an ancient grain that is actually a good source of protein as well. Yes… you heard me right..  a grain that is a protein.  Let that sink in for a moment.

I have come up with a simple recipe that can accompany any great meal. There are so many ways that you can personalize your own special pilaf to suite your tastebuds, or even the occasion. Let’s gather up our ingredients.

Simple Quinoa Rice Pilaf

1 cup Quinoa

1 cup Brown Rice

4 cups Water

2 tsp Granulated Beef Boullion

1 stalk Celery, diced

1 medium Onion, diced

1 medium Carrot, diced

2 tbsp Garlic, minced

3 tsp Italian Seasoning

1 tbsp Vegan Butter

Notes:

-Quinoa comes in a lot of different varieties that each have a unique profile. Feel free to experiment and find the type that you like the most

-You can also add sliced nuts such as almond to the mix as well as cranberries or raisins. Remember, feel free to make this recipe your own.

 

Now that we have all the ingredients together. Let’s get started!

1)Gather up your vegetables and make sure to clean off the celery and carrot.

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2)Dice up the celery, carrot, and onion into small dices.

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3)Place the olive oil in a saute pan and heat up over medium heat.

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4)Dissolve the bouillon into the water, making sure that all the bouillon has been completely dissolved.

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5)In a rice cooker place the bouillon water, brown rice ,and quinoa. Turn the rice cooker onto cook. (You can also cook the rice and quinoa on the stove as per manufacturer instructions if you do not have a rice cooker)

 

6)Gather together the diced onions, diced celery, diced carrots, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning.

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7)In the heated saute pan, add the minced garlic and saute until lightly browned.

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8)Add the carrots, celery, and onion and continue to saute.

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9)Once the vegetables are softened and have a little color added to them, add the Italian seasoning and stir well.

 

10)Add the vegan butter to the pan and saute together until the butter is melted and the vegetables are just undercooked.

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11)Once the vegetables are done being sauteed, add to the rice/quinoa mix and stir completely. Allow the rice to complete cooking.

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12)Once the rice/quinoa mix is done cooking, mix together well in order to ensure that all the seasonings are completely incorporated.

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13)Enjoy!

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Emergency Preparedness

Living in Florida, I have become accustomed to an occasional disastrous hurricane here and there. No big deal, right? When I was younger, I lived through Hurricane Andrew in Miami and witnessed devastation first hand. The one thing I knew growing up, was to watch the weather channel and always be prepared for hurricanes. This year was different. As Hurricane Michael approached the gulf coast of Florida, a harsh reality hit… what would I do if we lost power for food?

Let’s face it… my Color Me Sensible diet has placed me in the position of eating freshly prepared meals and refrigerated meals. There is not much in the way of non perishable items that really fit into the Color Me Sensible diet lifestyle. So .. I set out on a mission to discover ways that people like me can prepare for disasters and keep themselves safe and healthy. Here are some of the tips and suggestions I have come up with. Hopefully they can give you some ideas for your your own disaster preparedness.

  1. Canned Meat Items
    • This is definitely an item that you can tailor to your own. I went with Chicken Breast and Tuna myself. There are so many other options you can choose from. I also got some extra condiments from a sandwich shop in order to tailor these items and keep them nonperishable. My goal was to make some sort of Chicken or Tuna Salad and eat them with some Gluten-Free Crackers. Keep in mind, if you have no refrigeration you will need to eat it in one sitting, so I went with small cans just in case. There are so many other options, so just keep an eye out on the ingredients and have fun with it.
  1. Nuts & Trail Mixes
    • Nuts are a great source of protein that is nonperishable. There are so many options and varieties to choose from. Decide based on what your diet can handle and go from there.
    • Trail mixes are also a great source of protein and energy that are nonperishable. They offer a variety of options to include dried fruits and granola pieces as well. EnjoyLife has great trail mix options that are major allergen free. Feel free to check them out.
    • Dried Fruits & Vegetables are also a good option to add to your nonperishable list. They offer nutrition and variety to your Color Me Sensible diet. Keep in mind family allergens and just be creative.
  2. Cereal
    • Never underestimate the role that cereals can play in nutrition during your day. There are multiple companies that make Gluten-Free and Allergen Friendly cereals to spice up your nonperishable diet.
    • If you want to get really creative feel free to mix cereals, nuts, and other items together to make some great trail mixes that are nutritious and packed with energy.
  3. Cereal Bars
    • There are several companies that offer Gluten-Free options for cereal bars that will offer some variety and options to your Color Me Sensible diet.

 

Remember this is just a general idea list for you to get ideas to include in your own disaster preparedness kit.

Above all else be safe when it comes to preparing for disasters.

  1. Make sure that you have a plan for yourself and your family members.
  2. Make sure that you have a list of all current medications and medical issues for all family members.
  3. Make sure to have resources available to you in case things go awry.
  4. Make sure to have important documents and emergency contact information handy as needed.

Help each other through times of need and work together as a community.

 

Savory Lasagna

I don’t know about you, but when I think about lasagna, I think about my mom spending hours in front of the stove to create this amazing masterpiece that would make Garfield drool. Growing up, lasagna was a treat meal. With a large family, it was hard to afford to make lasagna too often due to the cost of the ingredients. If there was one dish that I was upset about not being to have after my surgery, it was lasagna. The creaminess, the savoriness, all the yumminess. I knew this had to be remedied. So I sought out to create a lasagna that not only tasted great, but was a meal that I could eat without worry. With some creative ingenuity, I managed to do just that.

Savory Lasagna

3 Vegan Burger Patties

9 Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles

1 jar Spaghetti Sauce

1 package Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Shredded

1 container Non-Dairy Cottage Cheese

1 medium Green Bell Pepper

1 medium Carrot

1 medium Yellow Squash

1/2 a medium Onion

 

Important Notes:

  •  You can change around the veggies if you like, You can even add more as well. Make it your own.
  • While I used cottage cheese for mine, You can also use ricotta cheese. There is a whole line of products available made from almond milk that is vegan and delicious.

 

Alright now, tie up your apron, straighten your cap, and let’s get started!

1.Gather up your veggies, making sure to wash them off.

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2. Dice up the Yellow Squash, Green Bell Pepper, and Onion. Grate the carrot.

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3. Place the Vegan Burger Patties in a prepared saucepot on medium heat.

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4. Cook the vegan patties making sure to chop up the patties into small pieces.

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5. Add the veggies to the burger mix and continue to cook over medium heat.

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6. Cook the veggies and patty mix together until the veggies are tender. Add small amounts of water if needed in order to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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7. Using a small amount of olive oil, grease a casserole dish that will fit the lasagna noodles.

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8. Spread a small amount of the pasta sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish.

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9. Place 3 of the lasagna noodles side-by-side in the bottom of the casserole dish. Make sure that the noodles do not overlap, in order to ensure that they cook properly.

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10. Spread half of the patty/veggie mix over the noodles in the pan.

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11. Spread half the container of non-dairy cottage cheese over the patty/veggie mix.

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12. Spread pasta sauce over the other layers in the pan, making sure that all parts have sauce on them.

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13. Sprinkle cheese over the layers to cover the sauce.

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14. Repeat steps 9-13.

 

15. Place last 3 noodles on top of casserole. Add sauce to cover and sprinkle with cheese to top.

16. Bake in oven at 350F for approximately 20-25 minutes. You want to cook lasagna until the cheese on top begins to melt, the sauce is bubbling, and the lasagna has cooked to at least 165F.

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16. Once the lasagna is done, you want to remove from oven and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes so that way the juices can settle before you cut it open.

17. Enjoy!

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Stir Fry for All

If you had to ask me what I thought was the most versatile food on the planet, my answer would have to be stir fry. The whole concept is just amazing. You take some meat, veggies, seasonings, and mix them together and serve them on whatever vessel you desire. The versatility and flexibility that stir fry provides is pretty much unmatched. No matter what portion of the Color me Sensible diet you fall on, you can create the perfect stir fry for your liking. This is definitely a dish that you can customize to your favorite flavors and have so much fun doing it. I  have included a recipe here that is a general guideline for how to make a stir fry. Feel free to get your imagination going.

Stir Fry for All

1 pound Top Round Steak

1/2 medium onion

1/2 medium green bell pepper

1 celery stalk

1 medium carrot

1/2 yellow squash

1/2 zucchini

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

 

Important Notes

  • You can substitute out any veggies or meat for the ingredients I have listed. Remember my recipe is a guideline only. Get creative and make it your own.
  • Stir fry can be served over rice, noodles, lettuce, or whatever else you would like
  • You can buy precut  stir fry veggie mixes in the frozen food sections if you have a hard time getting fresh produce. Those mixes work really well for a quick stir fry if you need to throw something together real quick.
  • You can also precut your meat and veggies, portion them in bags, and freeze them for quick dinner throw togethers. You can plan out several different types and have them ready for when you need to throw dinner together real quick.

 

Now that you have gotten your imagination flowing. Let’s get started!

  1. Gather your vegetables and make sure that they are washed off.

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2. Cut vegetables into thin strips. Try to make sure that they are around the same thickness and size in order to ensure that they cook through properly.

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3. Place olive oil into saute pan and heat over medium heat.

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4. Take out meat and trim any fat necessary from meat.

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5. Cut meat into thin strips.

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6. Sprinkle seasoning on meat.

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7. Add prepped meat into the prepared saute pan.

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8. Saute the meat until halfway cooked through.

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9. Add minced garlic and continue to saute until meat is almost cooked through.

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10. Add your veggies to the mix and stir often to saute.

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11. Cook together until the vegetables are tender and the meat is completely cooked through.

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12. Serve your stir fry over your choice of base. Whether it is rice, noodles, lettuce, etc.

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13.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Tangy Shrimp Tacos

Every once in a while I have a craving for tacos, but not just any tacos, sophisticated tacos. Then I go through the steps of deciding what that means. LOL… This time around I made some shrimp tacos that were out of this world. Not only were they incredibly delicious, but they were allergen friendly to me and oh my goodness so amazing. So I decided I had to share this recipe with the world.

Tangy Shrimp Tacos

2 lbs Cooked Shrimp (I used Salad size, but you can definitely use bigger sized)

1/2 Yellow Squash

1/2 Zucchini

1/2 Medium Onion

1/2 Green Bell Pepper

Blackening Seasoning

Prepared Zesty Remoulade Sauce

 

Important notes:

– Feel Free to Switch up the vegetables in the mix for a different flavor

 

Alright time to head down to the beach. Let’s get started!

 

1.Gather together your Veggies and make sure that they are rinsed off

 

2.Cut the Veggies into small strips kinda like shoestring potatoes.

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3.In a saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.

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4.Once pan is heated, add your veggies and saute.

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5.Place your shrimp in a bowl, make sure there are no tails left on the shrimp.

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6.Add Blackening Seasoning to the shrimp. This is a judgement on your part, it really depends on how spicy you want the shrimp to be. I say start small and go from there.

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7.Make sure to stir the veggies every now and then. Cook them until tender.

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8.Once veggies are ready, add the shrimp to the pan. Make sure to not just dump in the shrimp with all its extra water, it can make the veggies go very soft.

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9.Saute the shrimp and veggies together until thoroughly heated and the sauce has thickened.

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10.Now time to get your creative juices flowing with the toppings. Set up a spread for your family to create your own. You can use hard tacos, soft tacos, or even make a taco salad with the shrimp. It is only limited by your imagination.

 

11.I top off a gluten-free tortilla with some lettuce, the shrimp mixture, and a drizzle of my Zesty Remoulade Sauce.

 

12.Enjoy!

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Sensible Tacos

Nothing says family night more than tacos! Okay well at least in our family. Taco night is a time honored tradition in our household. It may be because they are so delicious and it may be because they were the first food other than chicken nuggets and fries that my son and daughter would eat. Either way, they are full of delicious morsels of nutritious goodies.

This recipe is the first recipe I adapted for my kids to create a healthier and more nutritionally complete meal. It was not until the twins were teenagers that they discovered the secret, but it didn’t matter they loved them. As you will see in the recipe, my son knows the tricks and even helps make tacos now.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your liking. It can be adapted to be vegan, different veggies used, and you can also use a different meat. The possibilities are endless and totally up to you.

Sensible Tacos

1 pound ground turkey

1 pint baby portabello mushrooms

1/2 medium green pepper

1/2 medium onion

1 package taco seasoning of choice

2/3 cup water

 

Important notes:

  • You can substitute a different meat for the turkey, just use same weight.
  • You can turn this vegan by substituting a Ground Meat substitute mix found in your freezer section of the grocery store.
  • You can also substitute the turkey with diced tofu if you would like

 

Now time to get the fiesta started. Let’s get started!

1.Take your mushrooms and slice off the end of the stem.

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2.Using a food processor, finely chop up the mushrooms.

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3.You want the pieces to be about the size of ground up pieces of meat.

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4.Use the food processor to also chop up the onion and green pepper.

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5.Again, you are looking for very fine pieces to blend into the taco meat.

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6.Add 1 tbsp olive oil into a saucepot and turn on medium heat.

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7.Cook up the meat, making sure the break up the meat into small pieces, until it is about halfway cooked through. (It helps to have a willing assistant for this part)

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8.Once the meat is cooked about halfway through, add the veggies to the meat and continue to cook through.

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9.Once meat is completely cooked, add the taco seasoning and water. Turn the pot down and simmer for 4 minutes.

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10.I cook until the sauce has thickened on the meat and their is little water left in the pot.

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11.Place tortilla shells on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 3 minutes or until a golden brown. This helps them to be nice and crispy.

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12. Once shells are done, take them out and get ready to assemble the tacos to your hearts content.

13. Enjoy!

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Side Notes:

  • Topping ideas are endless, you can set up a whole spread and make it a create your own taco bar like we do.
  • You can use hard tacos, soft tacos, gluten free tacos, taco salads, or even supreme nachos with this. Let your creativity be your guide.

 

 

Yummy Cauliflower Crust Pizza

There is something so delicious and nostalgic about fresh pizza. When you have to change your diet to be gluten-free, dairy-free, or just healthier in general, it can mean giving up on pizza. However, this recipe is a great way to have delicious pizza that won’t upset your diet. With a little prep and planning, this cauliflower crust can become a family favorite. I encourage you to try my recipe and adapt to your desire. Here’s to creating new memories within a Color Me Sensible Diet World.

Yummy Cauliflower Crust Pizza

4 cups uncooked riced Cauliflower

1/3 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 egg (or replacement for egg)

1/3 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese

1 tsp Italian Seasoning Blend

1 tsp Minced Garlic

Pizza Toppings as Desired

 

Important Notes:

  • You can find riced cauliflower in the grocery store freezer vegetable section for easier prep.
  • You can change the flavoring of the crust just by changing the seasoning of the crust.

So now get your creative juices flowing and Let’s Get Started!

1.Take a head of cauliflower and cut up into florets.

2. Using a food processor, chop up the cauliflower until it is like tiny rice grains.

3.Cook the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water until it appears translucent. This will take about 7 minutes or so.

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4.Once completed, lay onto paper towels to cool down.

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5.Once the cauliflower is completely cooled down. Squeeze the cauliflower in the paper towel in order to get all the excess water out of it.

 

6.In a bowl, place the cauliflower, flour, egg, cheese, and seasonings. Mix together until completely combined.

7.Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or greasing it. Place the mixture onto the pan, flattening to around 1/3″ thick form a pizza crust to desired size. We go with around a 9″ size circle.

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8.Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes at 425 F or until the edges of the crust start to get golden brown.

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9.Place the desired toppings on pizza.

9b. For sauteed vegetables to top pizza, take your desired vegetables and slice them into small bite sizes. Saute the vegetables into a slightly oiled pan and season as desired. Once the vegetables are to desired softness, remove from heat and set aside.

10. Bake for another 15 minutes or until desired color and doneness.

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11. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes to allow the crust to set up.

 

12. Slice and Enjoy!!

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Savory Homemade Marinara Sauce

So many good pasta dishes call for a great marinara sauce and let’s face it, there are a lot on the market that are not necessarily allergy friendly. So i worked on creating a marinara sauce that I knew I would be able to eat and not regret later. This pretty simple marinara sauce can be made quickly or even done in the slow cooker. Feel free to add it to your favorite pasta dishes and create delicious & nutritious recipes.

Savory Homemade Marinara Sauce

3 cups tomato puree

1 medium green bell pepper

1 medium carrot

1/2 a medium onion

2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 cup water

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp parsley

1 tbsp olive oil

Now that you have all the ingredients… Let’s get started!

1.Gather up your veggies and make sure to wash them!

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2. Finely dice the green pepper, celery, and onion.

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3. Using a grater, finely grate the carrot. (I use a microplane personally. It is quite possibly my most favorite tool in the kitchen)

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4. Place olive oil in a medium sauce pot and turn it on medium heat.

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5. Add to the heated sauce pot your green peppers, carrots, onions, and celery. Cook them until they are slightly tender. This will take approximately 5 minutes.

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6. Once the veggies are ready, add the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, parsley, balsamic vinegar, and water to the sauce pot and stir together.

7. Simmer on low for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry in the sauce. Keep warm for service.

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8. Add this marinara sauce to your favorite dish. Enjoy!!

 

 

Gluten-Free Homemade Gnocchi

If you ever wondered what it was like to eat delicious soft pillows of yumminess for dinner, then this recipe is for you. Gnocchi is an amazingly soft pillowy pasta that can be served in a variety of sauces. It takes a bit of patience to pull off this recipe, but trust me… IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Gluten-Free Homemade Gnocchi

1 large Russet Potato (needs to be at least 8 oz)

1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce

Parmesan cheese, for serving (I prefer shaved, but any type will work)

 

Important Notes

  • You can substitute any sauce for the marinara sauce that you would like
  • Here are some suggestions:
    • Basil Pesto
    • Alfredo
    • Carbonara Style

I don’t know about you but I am excited. So let’s get started.

1.Bring a pot of water to a boil and then add potato, prick a few holes in it,  and boil until tender and a fork can go through it easily. This may take anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Once the potato is done, transfer it into a bowl that is filled with ice water.

3. Once completely cooled down, carefully peel off the potato skin.

 

4. Use a grater to grate the potato into fine pieces. You will need 1 cup of potato that is tightly packed for the recipe. (You can also use a ricer for the potato if you happen to have one)

5. In a large bowl add your 1 cup potato, gluten-free flour, salt, and olive oil. Mix together well.

6. Take your dough and place it on a light floured surface. Knead the dough together for 2 minutes. (Be mindful that because there is no gluten in the flour this may take longer and you will also need to be a little tender to the dough)

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7. Separate the dough into 4 pieces.

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8. Roll the dough out into long rope pieces as best as you can. (Because this is Gluten-Free Flour it does not bind as well together.. I try to get it as best as i can into a rope and then cut it into pieces)

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9. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces. You want to make sure that the pieces stay separate on the cutting board so that they don’t get stuck. Take the cut pieces and kinda smush them together with your fingers to create a more solid form.

10. Bring a medium pot of water to a slow boil, add salt to the water. In another medium pot, heat up your sauce.

11. Once water has come to a boil, add gnocchi into the water using a slotted spoon and lowering it into the water.

12. Once gnocchi begin to float, they are ready to be removed. This takes about  to 3 minutes.

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13. Using slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi into sauce. Repeat steps 11 to 13 until all gnocchi are cooked.

14. Serve gnocchi with Parmesan and Gluten-Free Garlic Toast.  Enjoy!

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Friendly Chicken Salad

Growing up one of my favorite sandwiches was a chicken salad sandwich on a toasted croissant. Just thinking about it brings back such wonderful memories. The sweet crunchiness of the croissant married with the smooth creaminess of the chicken salad was something this side of heaven. Now in my life, I cannot enjoy my childhood favorite like i used to. However, I was determined to find a way to enjoy chicken salad that would not only be healthy, but delicious, nutritious, and not send me to the hospital. For all the chicken salad lover out there, this one is for you!

Friendly Chicken Salad

2 pounds chicken breast

1 medium carrot

1 apple

1 stalk of celery

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 tbsp Avocado Oil Mayo

 

Important Notes:

  • You can switch out the cranberries for raisins, currants, dates, dried plums, dried apricots or whatever other type of dried fruit you like
  • You can exchange out the apples for grapes, pears, or another fruit, just be mindful that citrus will seep out juices that can cause the salad to break down so avoid those if possible
  • You can also add sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, or even sunflower weeds to this salad if you want to add just a slight level of saltiness to it

So now that we have all our ingredients. Let’s get started!

1.Lay out your chicken breast onto a prepared sheet pan. Season with your desired seasoning. (I just use poultry seasoning for this, but make sure no matter what seasoning you use, check ingredients as some will contain gluten and dairy)

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2. Bake chicken breasts in oven at 350F until they are completely cooked. This can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending upon the thickness of the breast and if it was completely thawed or not. (Make sure to check the internal temperature of the breasts to ensure that it reaches 165F for 15 seconds)

 

3. Set aside chicken breasts, once completely cooked, so that they can cool down.

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4.  Gather up carrot, apple, and celery. Make sure to rinse off all 3 under running water.

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5. Dice up the apple and the celery. (I like to keep the skin of the apple on, but you can peel it if you would like)

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6. Finely grate the carrot using a microplane or similar item. (If you prefer you can use larger grates, or even just finely dice carrot. I prefer the fine shreds of the carrot as a different level of texture)

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7. Once chicken breast is cooled completely, dice up the chicken into bite size pieces.  (For added variety, you can also shred the chicken to create a different consistency and texture.)

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8. Add cranberries into the mix. (At this time, you can add any nuts or additional items as well)

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9.  Add your avocado mayo and mix together.  (The total amount of mayo that you use depends upon how creamy you would like your salad to be. If you prefer drier salad, then use less. If you prefer creamier, then use more. It is totally flexible. )

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10. Enjoy!

You can enjoy you chicken salad in a variety of ways.

  • In a wrap of your choice
  • On toasted or untoasted bread
  • In a large tomato
  • By itself
  • With a stash of crackers to put it on
  • In a bed of lettuce

However you choose to enjoy your Friendly Chicken Salad, is totally up to you. Just remember to make sure it is Delicious & Nutritious!