I have never been one to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon; unless of course a person has a true gluten-intolerance or celiac disease diagnosis. This isn’t to say most Americans aren’t eating too many refined grains and total grains containing gluten, however! But that’s a whole other post…. In a nutshell, I’m always interested in […]Read More
I love roasted cauliflower and serve it at least once a week as a side-dish for dinner. Since it’s been so cold lately here in usually-warm Charleston, I decided to use the roasted cauliflower in a soup. I love how roasting veggies bring out the natural sweetness in many veggies, and I have a thing […]Read More
I first made these decadent chocolate avocado cupcakes 4 years ago for my friend Natalie’s son. It was his first birthday and he had a dairy allergy so I was in search of a vegan chocolate cupcake. I came across this recipe from Vegetarian Times. I’ve tweaked it a bit but in all fairness have given […]Read More
I am a big fan of Food for Life foods, especially their sprouted grain product line (e.g., english muffins, tortillas, bread). I recently saw they offer a sprouted grain corn tortilla and my cousin recently told me they worked great in her family’s favorite enchilada recipe. What I love about Food for Life products are […]Read More
Happy Monday! We still have a bit of chill in the air in Charleston and when it stays cold for so long, the only thing I crave is comfort food. When one thinks of “comfort” food they tend to think of fatty foods or dishes like beef stew, steak and potatoes, homemade mac n cheese, […]Read More
I have never been one to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon; unless of course a person has a true gluten-intolerance or celiac disease diagnosis. This isn’t to say most Americans aren’t eating too many refined grains and total grains containing gluten, however! But that’s a whole other post….
In a nutshell, I’m always interested in trying a new product. Enter: Simple Mills, a company dedicated to gluten-free/grain-free baking mixes. They offer three muffin mixes to date: banana, chocolate or pumpkin. I was at Whole Foods the other day and a friend of mine suggested trying them, as her children have gluten-intolerance. Although the price of the mix is not for the faint of heart (each mix retails at $8.99), I have to say I was impressed with their simple and clean ingredients list: almonds, coconut nectar, arrowroot powder, bananas, vanilla beans, baking soda and celtic sea salt. All you add is some coconut oil (1 Tbsp) or other oil; some water (2/3 c) and an egg (or egg replacer).
I was extremely impressed with how nicely the batter mixed together. Previous gluten-free mixes I have used end up being difficult to mix, clumping together in a big mass of goo. This mix felt like regular batter should feel… moist enough to pour into the individual muffin tins – a plus in my book! And after baking 15 minutes at 375, these muffins were golden brown, moist and very tasty. My kids loved them!
I have two comments to make about this product that I think should be noted:
1. The bag of mix only makes 9 muffins….why 9? Why not add more ingredients to make a dozen?
2. They claim 0 grams saturated fat per muffin (130 cal/serving). This cannot be true. If you use coconut oil at 1 Tbsp per mix that’s 12 grams of saturated fat … a little over 1 gram per muffin. Just need to note this!
There’s 3 grams of fiber per muffin, 270 mg sodium, 7 g total fat, 17 g carbs and a hefty dose of vitamin E and magnesium to boot! Give these tasty muffins a try, especially if gluten sensitivity is an issue.
I love roasted cauliflower and serve it at least once a week as a side-dish for dinner. Since it’s been so cold lately here in usually-warm Charleston, I decided to use the roasted cauliflower in a soup. I love how roasting veggies bring out the natural sweetness in many veggies, and I have a thing for slightly crisp and caramelized veggies.
I searched online for some recipe ideas, and was a bit annoyed by how high-fat, and dairy-rich most cauliflower soups are. So I made my own, using flavor combinations that are warming to me. I hope you enjoy – we sure did!
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Recipe by Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4 cups water
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil or lightly spray a cookie sheet. Spread cauliflower evenly over the cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in oven to roast for 25 minutes, turning cauliflower over half-way through roasting. Roast until fork-tender and slightly golden. Set aside.
2. In a large stockpot, heat some additional olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Saute until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add roasted garlic, cumin and coriander and sauté another minute. Add water and mix in vegetable base and bring to a simmer.
3. Using a hand-held blender (or carefully transferring in small batches to a blender), puree until soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper and any additional cumin or coriander as desired. Serve immediately, topping with fresh cilantro. YUM!
I first made these decadent chocolate avocado cupcakes 4 years ago for my friend Natalie’s son. It was his first birthday and he had a dairy allergy so I was in search of a vegan chocolate cupcake. I came across this recipe from Vegetarian Times. I’ve tweaked it a bit but in all fairness have given you the recipe link if you want to make theirs. I enjoy a good frosting, and this homemade one I came up with below is a WINNER in our house! It is decadent and creamy and is not made from hydrogenated oils. Alternately you can try the glaze recipe found on the Veg Times link below.
The addition of maple syrup in the cupcake means fewer processed sugars, and using an avocado replaces the egg and most of the oil which keeps the cupcakes moist and decadent while slashing some saturated fat.
I’d bet money your honey won’t even notice the avocado! Hope you make them for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day ~ Enjoy!
Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from VegetarianTimes.com by Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD
Makes 12 cupcakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
1 cup pure maple syrup
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
To make cupcakes:
Icing – yes this has powdered sugar, which is a highly processed sugar. Alternatively you can make a glaze for these cupcakes using tofu and chocolate, but my family dives into this icing when I make it (and it’s only once a year).
½ cup Earth Balance natural buttery spread made with olive oil (trans fat free)
1-2 cups packed confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
To make icing:
These cupcakes are around 300 calories each, compared to store-bought cupcakes which can range from 400-550 calories!
I am a big fan of Food for Life foods, especially their sprouted grain product line (e.g., english muffins, tortillas, bread). I recently saw they offer a sprouted grain corn tortilla and my cousin recently told me they worked great in her family’s favorite enchilada recipe.
What I love about Food for Life products are their simple, unadulterated and straightforward ingredients. In the case of these corn tortillas there are four ingredients: organic sprouted corn, filtered water, sea salt and lime. Notice there are no parabens in there. The reason I say this is because I was floored when I went to Publix the other day and the corn tortillas they carry contain PARABENS! I have been trying to avoid parabens in my family’s hair care and body products for years, and cannot believe they are present in some foods too! No thank you.
At 120 calories, 2 g fat (o saturated or trans), 10 mg sodium, 3 g fiber and 3 g protein this is a perfect corn tortilla to pick up for your favorite enchilada or tostada recipe. Tonight we are going to enjoy some chicken tostadas. This recipe is simple and quick – especially if you cook the chicken, corn and bean mixture ahead of time. All you have to do is assemble and broil! Top with your favorite guacamole (preferably homemade) and salsa (my FAV is Garden Fresh Gourmet and you have a show-stopping meal everyone will enjoy!
Easy Chicken Tostadas
Recipe by Melissa Ohlson
Makes 10 tostadas
1 pound cooked boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts (I poached in a covered pan with a little water for about 20 minutes), shredded
10-12 organic sprouted grain corn tortillas (Food for Life)
Spectrum canola cooking spray (for tortillas)
sea salt (optional)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can or 2 cups frozen and thawed organic sweet corn, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp cumin
1 8 oz bag Frontera red chile enchilada sauce
4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded monterey jack cheese
Shredded romaine lettuce
Thinly sliced green onions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place six corn tortillas onto a baking sheet and spray top with a little cooking spray and season with a little sea salt if desired. Place in oven and let bake until sides begin to lift and entire corn tortilla is crispy and golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Remove from sheet and set aside. Repeat with remaining 4 corn tortillas.
2. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When oil shimmering, add black beans and corn and sauté for about 4 minutes. Season with cumin and add enchilada sauce. Stir to combine and allow cook until liquid is at a simmer. Take off heat and set aside.
3. Set oven to broil now.
4. Place the first six corn tortillas back on baking sheet and top each with a large spoonful of the chicken, bean and corn mixture. Top each with 2 Tbsp of cheese. Broil for about 3-4 minutes until cheese melted, watching carefully to avoid burning.
5. Take out of oven and top each tostada with shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomato, guacamole, salsa and sliced green onions. I generally serve 2 tostadas per person. Enjoy!
Happy Monday! We still have a bit of chill in the air in Charleston and when it stays cold for so long, the only thing I crave is comfort food. When one thinks of “comfort” food they tend to think of fatty foods or dishes like beef stew, steak and potatoes, homemade mac n cheese, creamy soups. In our home, that doesn’t fly: I want to feed my family foods that comfort the body but don’t wreak havoc on it at the same time.
Enter mushroom ragu. This dish is rich in flavor, hearty with the use of mushrooms (a great beef substitute), and warm and comforting on a cold winter’s night. I made this last night and could not wait to blog it, it tasted sooooo good.
Try this dish tonight for your Meatless Monday dinner! It’s rich in iron, b-vitamins, selenium, and zinc. The addition of spaghetti squash (as a substitute for pasta) and sautéed spinach ramps up the antioxidant phytonutrient quotient of this meal to make it truly a nutrition powerhouse.
Mushroom Ragu over Spaghetti Squash
Recipe by Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I used MycoLogical)
2 cups water
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large or 3 small cloves garlic, minced
2 8-ounce containers baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups of the reserved porcini liquid (see below)
1/3 cup 2% organic milk
1/2 cup grated grana padano or parmesan cheese, more if desired
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 pinches dried rosemary
1/2 pinch dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: Spaghetti squash
1. Bring 2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Once you hit boiling point turn off the heat, add the dried porcini, and let sit, covered, about 30 minutes. After 3o minutes, carefully strain the mushrooms in a colander OVER A BOWL so that you do not lose any of the porcini liquid. This is liquid gold! You’ll use it in the recipe. Give mushrooms a rough chop and set aside.
2. While porcini are soaking, prepare spaghetti squash: preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and spoon out seeds. Fill a roasting pan with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water at bottom. Place squash halves cut side down and pierce the skin side a few times with a knife. Place pan in oven and roast until a fork can easily be pierced through skin of squash, about 20 minutes. Take out of oven and once slightly cooled (enough to handle squash) take the tines of fork and “scoop” out the squash by scraping the squash from top to bottom – the squash will appear like thin spaghetti noodles. You should be able to scrape all the way to the skin, with very little pulp left near the skin of squash at all. Place in a bowl and drizzle a bit of olive oil over. Set aside.
*If you choose not to serve ragu over squash then just prepare noodles as directed.
3. While you are waiting for the squash, heat a medium cast iron or nonstick skillet. Once heated, add olive oil and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Mix in bella mushrooms and season with salt and pepper, sautéing about 7-8 minutes. Add in porcini mushrooms and wine and sauté until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then add 2 cups of the porcini cooking liquid and let simmer for about 30 minutes, until half of the liquid is evaporated. After 30 minutes, add the milk and cheese and stir. Mix in the herbs and let cook for another minute. Turn off heat.
4. I prepared sautéed spinach while the ragu was finishing up, but you can make any vegetable side that you wish.
5. To assemble onto plate: place about 1 cup of spaghetti squash on the plate and top with 3/4-1 cup of ragu, topping this with additional parmesan or grana padano cheese. Serve immediately with a side of steamed spinach. Enjoy!