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My BIG FAT Grain Free Life: September 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Swiss Chard with White Wine and Tomato

If you're really interested in what's going on in my life right now, see my post from the other day.  Still in waiting mode, but we know the Lord has everything under control. 

Thank you all for kind and encouraging words, and most importantly, praying for us.

And now, moving on to food...

My  BFF and I were traveling to some important destination (ROAD TRIP!) and visited a Whole Foods that served up something along the lines of this recipe.  It was so delicious that when I got home, I tried to recreate it.

According to Rebecca Katz, author of "The Cancer Fighting Kitchen", Swiss Chard is "anti-inflammatory and loaded with beta-carotene, fiber and vitamins A and C."  

For my daughter and me, personally, it is a soft green that is easy to digest. 

Swiss Chard with White Wine and Tomato

1 bunch of Swiss Chard (either green, rainbow or red variety)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ghee
1/4 cup white wine
1 ripe tomato, diced (or use 4 roasted tomatoes)
1 clove garlic, minced
water, if needed
salt and pepper 

Wash chard and chop.  Heat large saute pan on medium to medium-high heat.  Once heated, add olive oil and ghee.  Add onion and saute until soft and getting brown.  Add tomato and cover.  Steam for a few minutes to draw juice out of tomato.

Remove pan from heat and add garlic.  Stir for about 30 seconds.  Add white wine and stir.  Add chard and cover saute pan.  Allow to steam, stirring occasionally.  If it's getting a bit dry, add some water.

Chard is done when tender but still maintaining color.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!  (Of course you can always throw some Pecorino Romano on top.)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Carrot Beet Salad with Dates and Toasted Pecans

If you knew what was happening in my life right now, you'd wonder why I was blogging...Sometimes you just have to employ yourself.  

My husband and I have been trying to add to our family via adoption and started this process five years ago.  We signed with a local adoption attorney a couple of months ago, and just found out that we were "picked" by a birth mother.  Oh!  And by the way - she's due in three weeks.

So, I've been a little busy nesting, (deep cleaning, preparing food for the freezer, sewing and BUYING BABY STUFF).  Yippee!

Well, three weeks have flown by and we're in the waiting room now (been here 4 1/2 hours) and hoping to meet our new little girl soon.  There have been tears, prayers and comfort knowing that so many are praying for us and all of the surrounding circumstances.

So, how do you transition from meeting a new little person who is a gift from God and will change your life forever to Carrot Beet Salad with Dates and Toasted Pecans?

I have no idea.  I'm losing my mind.  But, I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Carrot Beet Salad with Dates & Toasted Pecans

4 large carrots, peeled and shredded
2 small beets, peeled and shredded
2 small golden beets, peeled and shredded
6 dates, pitted and chopped
pecans, toasted and chopped  

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of:
  garlic powder
  onion powder 
  salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 

Toss shredded carrots, red beets and golden beets into bowl.  (I use food processor to shred carrots and beets.)

Meanwhile, if your dates are not soft, soak them in warm water for a few minutes.  Once soft, carefully slice in half, remove pit (if not already pitted) and chop into small pieces.  Add to carrots and beets.

To make the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar with Dijon mustard and spices.  While whisking, slowly add olive oil in steady stream.  This will allow oil to incorporate evenly. 

Toss carrots, beets and dates with dressing.  Serve with toasted pecans on top.  

Note:  This salad is pretty sweet.  The chopped pecans help to cut the sweetness.  If it's too sweet for your taste buds, eliminate the dates.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuscan White Beans with Shrimp, Spinach, & Roasted Tomatoes

I threw this together for dinner last night and it was soooo easy!  I made the beans earlier in the day, along with the roasted tomatoes (which can be made ahead and frozen or kept in the fridge for about a week), then threw it all together at dinnertime. 

If you're not a shrimp fan, you could leave it out altogether or substitute chicken in its place.  If you try that, please post in the comments and let me know how it went!

One more thing - I have to admit something to you if you haven't noticed it already....I cook for crowds.  It's something my husband and friends have teased me about for years.  I can't help it!  It's part of my Italian roots.  After all, you never know when some hungry person might pop in.  That said, this probably makes enough for 6-8 people, easily.  My kids LOVED it, ate seconds and we still have a good bit leftover for lunch today.  

My son informed me that I need to make this for dinner every week.  Nuff said.

Tuscan White Beans with Shrimp, Spinach & Roasted Tomatoes

1 (16 oz.) pkg. white navy beans, soaked 24 hours or overnight
1 (3/4" thick) slice of pancetta (ask the deli to slice it)
2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and left whole
1 onion, diced

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 oz. fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, cleaned and deveined (Whole Foods will do this for you at no extra charge.  Yippee!)
sea salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup minced fresh basil
lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese, to serve 

Prepare beans - Drain soaked beans.  Heat a stock pot on medium to medium-high.  Add pancetta and cook until crispy.  Add diced onion and saute until starting to get soft.  Next, add soaked beans and smashed whole garlic.  Add enough water to cover the beans by about an inch or two.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for a couple of hours.  You can cook them until the water is almost all evaporated or cook until soft and drain.  Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan (very large) on medium to medium high heat.  Add olive oil, then spinach and saute until wilted.  Remove spinach and set aside. 

Add roasted tomatoes, minced garlic and white wine to saute pan.  Heat through, simmering well.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until shrimp start to curl up around the edges.  

Next, add spinach with accumulated juices and cooked beans and stir well.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Stir, and adjust seasonings. 

Sprinkle the top with fresh minced basil and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese!!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Coconut Mango Scone

Scones and a proper cup of tea make me feel like I'm in one of the BBC movies I'm addicted to.  A scone and some Jane Austin, Elizabeth Gaskell or Charles Dickens "would set me up forevah."  (Spoken by Mrs. Bennett in the REAL "Pride and Prejudice" with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.)

I've been informed that many Europeans pronounce scone "scawn" (rhymes with lawn) but there are some of the upper class who pronounce it "scone" (as in phone) like Americans do.  Does this mean we can thereby deduce that Americans...are really classy?  Hmmm...

After trying an incredible recipe for Blueberry Scones from one of my favorite bloggers, Nourishing Flourishing, I had to try the recipe with some of my favorite combinations.  Here's one of them.  May you enjoy your scone...I mean scawn...I mean scone.

Coconut Mango Scones (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville Grain)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup diced ripe mango

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and vanilla.  

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate.  Fold in mango.

Drop about 1/4 cup of scone batter onto baking sheet, a couple of inches apart.  With moist hands, shape batter into triangle.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  These scones taste best eaten fresh.  Store leftovers (if you have any) in an airtight container.  Reheat in toaster oven.

NOTE:  My resident taste testers do not like coconut.  I absolutely loved the coconut mango version of this scone, but, just to be sure, I contacted my friend Marti - who is a coconut lover, master baker, and an honest friend.  (The kind who will tell you if you have spinach in your teeth...while laughing hysterically.)  She loved these scones and heartily recommended I share them with you.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tabouleh (grain free, gluten free)

I'm not sure how much of an expert an Italian can be on Tabouleh, but I CAN say I love this stuff!  It's light and refreshing and even tastes good along side a mound dollop of White Bean Hummus.  I adore Middle Eastern food.  Actually, I enjoy a variety of ethnic foods.  OK, I just enjoy food.

You probably know that Tabouleh is made with bulgur wheat, which, of course, is a grain not allowed in my big fat grain free life.   

Just when despair had set in, I found a recipe in my new, amazing cookbook, Eat Well, Feel Well by Kendall Conrad for Tabouleh without bulgur.  She actually explains a brilliant technique of pulsing zucchini in a food processor until it resembles tiny grains of bulgur wheat.  Fantastic.

Kendall's Eat Well, Feel Well cookbook contains over 150 mouth-watering recipes that are all SCD compliant.  It has given me hope that a restricted diet doesn't have to restrict our taste buds.  The book has received rave reviews - even from one of my favorite "Italians" Giada.

Here is my "interpretation" of Kendall's Tabouleh recipe.

Tabouleh (grain free, gluten free)

2 bunches of curly parsley, washed and trimmed of stems
4 scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
6-8 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 zucchini
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste 

Spin parsley in salad spinner to remove excess water.  By hand, finely chop parsley.  (Not my preference to use a food processor here.  It can turn the parsley to mush.)  Put parsley, scallions, cucumbers and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.

Trim ends of zucchini.  Cut into large chunks.  In food processor fitted with blade, add zucchini and pulse until it resembles fine grains.  Add to mixing bowl and toss.

Add fresh lemon juice and olive oil to taste, coating well.  Add salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning.  Cover tabouleh and marinate in fridge for at least an hour. 

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

This recipe came to me as I eyed some goat cheese that had been in the fridge awhile looking lonely and forgotten.  My kids don't eat goat cheese and my girl, especially, does not tolerate soft cheeses well.  

I, on the contrary, do - and since no one else in my family likes nor tolerates goat cheese, my motto is "More for me."

Below are some ways to enjoy this spread.  Post in the comments and let me know how you might use it.

1. slathered on grain free crackers
2. dolloped on scrambled eggs
3. in an omelet with spinach or swiss chard, tomato and onion
4. in any omelet
5. spread on a piece of gluten free roast beef and rolled up
6. on carrots, celery or any cut up veggie
7. stuffed inside a mushroom cap and baked
8. spread on a sandwich made with Yummy Grain Free Bread
9. the possibilities are endless!

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread 

1 small log goat cheese
2-3 tablespoons cashew milk (or any well-tolerated unsweetened milk)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil 

In small bowl, mix everything together with wooden spoon.  Yup, that's it!

Here are some delicious recipes for grain free crackers...

Rosemary Crackers from Elana's Pantry,
Savory Grain Free Crackers by Gluten Free Goddess, and
Cheese Crackers (SCD) from Straight into Bed Cake Free and Dried

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Just Peachy" Barbecue Sauce

I wanted to re-post this BBQ sauce with an update:  

I made a huge batch of it tonight using mangoes in place of the peaches and it turned out really yummy!  I canned it for easy storage in my pantry.  

We use this BBQ sauce almost on a weekly basis, as it's a shoe-in for an easy meal, so I like to keep it on hand.  

Whichever fruit you decide to use, it's imperative that it's ripe.  This will make or break the sauce as the recipe contains no refined sugars and heavily relies on the sweetness of the fruit.  

I like to slather this BBQ sauce on chicken thighs and broil them for an easy weeknight meal.  Here are a couple of other recipes that utilize this great BBQ sauce:  World's Best Burgers, Smoked BBQ Turkey Legs 

I've been searching high and low for the perfect BBQ sauce that doesn't contain refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup, is sweet and tangy, not too tomatoey and satisfies everyone in my family.  (not an easy task)

After checking labels, it became clear I would have to make my own.

We've been enjoying peaches this season and it came to me, "What about a BBQ sauce that has peaches in it?"


The recipe below is the result.  It comes together quickly, doesn't have to cook all day, and tastes great - even without the added peaches.  Next time around, I'm going to substitute pureed mango or apricot for the peaches.  If you try any substitutions, let me know how it goes! 

I used this BBQ sauce last night in World's Best Burgers and it was a hit!  Post in the comments and tell me your favorite way to use BBQ sauce.

I store unused sauce in a sealed container or mason jar in the fridge for about a week.  I made a quadruple batch yesterday and canned it in 20 pint sized jars and can keep it safely in my pantry for ease of use.  Follow the directions for water bath canning from a reliable source.  In my case, it was my brother Nicky (the motorcycle riding organic gardener) and the National Center for Home Food Preservation 

"Just Peachy" BBQ Sauce 

1 onion, peeled and cut into eighths
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 oz tomato paste
3 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (I use Badia brand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped

Place onion in food processor.  Pulse several times until the onion is very fine.

Heat saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and then onion.  Saute for a few minutes.

Add the next 13 ingredients (tomato paste through pepper).  Whisk together to mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil, then turn down heat.  Keep sauce simmering at a low boil.  Cook for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree peaches in food processor or blender.  Once 20 minutes is up, add pureed peaches to sauce and whisk.  Continue to cook for about 5-10 more minutes.

Note:  See my recipe inspiration by Paula Deen.