Tag Archives | Gluten Free

HOMEMADE CHIA PODS: VANILLA CINNAMON, CHOCOLATE & BLUEBERRY (GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, & VEGETARIAN)

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Have you heard of Chia Pods? They’re these cute little things that look like yogurt, but they’re actually a chia seed pudding. A coworker of mine had them and I was intrigued, since chia seeds are the current “it” food and I’ll try anything to create an easy healthy eating habit that I can actually maintain. Okay, it might’ve been the really cute packaging (that little orange spoon in the lid!) that caught my eye but still. The healthy factor still stands. I hunted the Chia Pods down at our local Fresh Market, but YOWZA. I was kind of taken aback by the price. They run $3-3.60 per pod here in Columbus, depending on where you shop. I used to think the Fage Greek yogurt w/ honey thingies were expensive at $1.50 a pop, but I think I eventually just got used to the price. Is $3/pod not that bad and I’m prematurely freaking out b/c I’m an occasional cheapskate? Maybe? But I tried one anyway. I thought “I’ll try it, see how I like it, and if I’m obsessed then I’ll figure something out.”

Well, I tried it. It was good. I wasn’t like OH MY GOD I’M IN LOVE but I was in love with the healthy aspects of this little thing. Chia seeds are packed with Omega-3s, and according to the company’s website, one pod contains your daily recommended dose of Omega-3’s. Take that! That’s pretty awesome. Plus, there’s fiber and protein. The other thing I love? They’re made with simple, real ingredients. SO SIMPLE, in fact, that I saw the side of the container where the ingredients were listed and thought “Really? That’s it?? Hell, I could make this myself.” So I did just that. I can’t remember if I did it that night or the next day, but I knew I had chia seeds sitting around, some almond milk in the fridge, and really, everything else on top would be a bonus.

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I started out slow. I used 1/4 cup chia seeds and slowly added liquid. First 1/4 cup almond milk, then I let it sit. A few minutes later, I had a cemented lump of chia. Not what I was going for. Bring on another 1/4 cup of almond milk…then another 1/4 cup… and pretty soon, I was at just over 1 cup of almond milk. A sprinkle of cinnamon, a little honey, and by golly, it was actually really good. I even added a 1/2 tsp of instant coffee, being inspired by the Coffee Bean flavor of Chia Pod. I divided the mixture into little jars and let them gel overnight. The next day, I had a pretty satisfying chia snack that’s an awesome copycat of the store-bought Chia Pod. After making the first batch, I tested my next versions, refined the proportions, and had a recipe for chocolate and blueberry chia puddings.

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While these things still aren’t “cheap,” (because chia seeds are kind of ‘spendy) they are a lot more sensible on the pocketbook, especially if you have 15 minutes in your schedule for prep. And yes, they really do only take about 15 minutes—amazing, right? I have three recipes for you. I like to think of the Vanilla Cinnamon as a good “base” recipe (minus the cinnamon, if need be) if you want to play around with flavor variations. Feel free to experiment and figure out other combinations!

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::: VANILLA CINNAMON CHIA PUDDING POD :::

Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pour almond milk into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into almond milk, stirring well. Add honey and cinnamon, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 3 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating. 

— • — • —

::: CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 3 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 1 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla-flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1 1/2 tsp local honey
• 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Repeat same process as above, replacing cinnamon with cocoa powder.

— • — • —

::: BLUEBERRY CHIA PUDDING POD :::
Yield: 4 – almost 4 oz (just under 1/2 cup)

• 3/4 cup blueberries (about 115 g by weight)
• 1 cup + 1/4 cup vanilla flavored almond milk (Note: if you want to use unsweetened or “original” flavored almond milk, just increase the amount of honey you use)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 4 1/2 tsp local honey

Puree blueberries in food processor, adding almond milk. Pour mixture into medium bowl. Sprinkle chia seeds into blueberry/almond milk mixture, stirring well. Add honey, stirring for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is incorporated. Let sit for 5 minutes, to allow chia seeds to start the swelling process. Pour mixture into a large measuring cup and pour into 4-oz mason jars. You will yield 4 jars that are just slightly under 1/2 cup in volume. Let jars sit several hours or overnight before eating.

I know, they look pretty weird. They look like funny little fish eggs or frog eggs or whatever you want to call them. The texture is jiggly and hilarious, but promise me to just give it a chance. I don’t eat tapioca pudding but supposedly they’re kind of like tapioca pudding. They’re smooth, but ever so slightly crunchy. I mean, for the health benefits and simple ingredients? How can you NOT give them a whirl??? Make yourself a batch and let me know what you think. And better yet, try your own variation and share what you created! And wait always remember to get guided with your health by visiting this site www.neuropathyhelp.co.

ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES

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Y’all, I have been posting nothing but JUNK for the past few weeks. Junk, junk, junk. Don’t get me wrong. That junk is DELICIOUS, but it’s junk food, I’m not going to lie. I don’t eat junk all the time. I promise. So even though it’s not exactly health food, I’m going with something a little better this time. At least it’ll be real food and not just baked goods (which are still my favorite topic. It runs through my veins, I can’t help it).

You know what I love? Potatoes. Who doesn’t, amiright? Mash ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em, scallop ‘em—I love them all, except for those au gratin ones (ML + cheese = yuck. Sorry.). My father instilled a love of potato pancakes in me when I was young. I don’t quite know why. It’s not a family tradition or anything, but we are Polish so I’m just going to assume the connection stems from there. Though we didn’t make them that often (probably only once or twice, really), I remember grating a bunch of potatoes with our metal box grater and it was a total labor-intensive mess. But you know what? These days I have a food processor and that food processor has a disk that grates things. Hallelujah!

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This potato/zucchini mash-up version has been circulating in my brain for awhile, but I just never made them a reality. (I mean, as much as I love potato pancakes, how often do I really need to eat them?) It also seemed like the perfect opportunity to throw some kale in there. I’ll admit, we’re still pretty unexperienced with it comes to kale. I’m intrigued by kale. I want to like kale. And it’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t know what to do with it. When you buy it you just get SO MUCH and we’re always like “Sooo…what do we do with the rest of this kale?” It only goes so far in salads. Hiding it in other foods seems perfect. I went easy on the amount since this was my first trial, but I’ll cover that more in the notes. Secondly, there’s beer in the “batter.” I actually got the idea from Martha Stewart. I couldn’t remember if potato pancakes required a lot or a little flour, so I wanted to scout out some other recipes for research. Martha Stewart adds a little beer, which helps to make a mixture like this a little lighter. So you know what I said? “Why the heck not?!”

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I went light on the amount of kale. I used 1 1/2 cups (torn into small pieces) in my recipe because I didn't know how it would affect the taste. It barely affects the potato-y-ness (yes, that is a technical term). You could easily bump it to 2 cups. Healthy stuff! Ka-pow!
This recipe is not gluten-free, but I believe it easily could be. Instead of using AP flour, replace it with another gluten-free flour of your choice (buckwheat, chick pea, you tell me). Instead of beer, use club soda. All the recipe really needs is a little bubbly carbonation.
Remember my garlic-infused olive oil and butter mixture? From the Pizza Baklava? That's what I used to lightly fry these little gems. Seems like a good use, no? If you want to make it, then knock yourself out. If not, then using vegetable oil is a-ok, too.
I made my pancakes in the 3-4" range. You could definitely make them smaller for a cute party appetizer with applesauce and sour cream as dips. The quantities of ingredients in this recipe are very easy to manipulate (i.e.: double, cut in half, etc). Making smaller pancakes would also be super fun for kids!

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: : : ZUCCHINI KALE POTATO PANCAKES : : :
Yields: 15 – 3″ pancakes

• 1/2 zucchini, peeled
• 1 russet potato, peeled
• 1 1/2 – 2 cups small pieces Tuscan kale (use lesser if you’re nervous, more if you seriously <3 the kale)
• 1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled
• 1 egg, beaten
• 2 TBSP flour
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 1 oz beer (Yes, seriously just 1 oz. But that just means you get to drink more!)
• garlic-infused olive oil/butter mixture or vegetable oil for cooking
• sour cream and/or applesauce – optional – for serving

1. Tend to the kale. Remove the leaves from the thick ribs. Set aside.

2. When the zucchini, potato, and onion are all peeled, divide into two piles: the grate pile and whiz pile. You will grate the zucchini and potato in the food processor. As for the onion and kale, you’ll just whiz those into little pieces, also in the food processor. This is why the food processor is your best friend for this recipe.

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3. Grate the zucchini and potato. Place in large bowl. If you end up with large chunks of zucchini or potato that didn’t get grated due to the physics of your food processor, no problem! Add them to the “whiz” bunch. Whiz the onion and kale in the food processor, then place them in the same bowl. Mix content together (honestly, I found my hands the most efficient way to do this).

4. Add the other ingredients: the beaten egg, flour, salt, pepper, and the beer. Mix thoroughly.

5. Heat a very large non-stick page over medium-high heat. Place 1 TBSP of oil/butter mixture OR 2 TBSP vegetable oil. When pan and oil are hot, carefully place pancake mixture in pan. A heaping tablespoon will give you a pretty solid 3.5″ pancake. Spread it out so it’s not too thick. I used my 12.5″ ScanPan for the job and fit about 5 in the pan at a time.

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6. Fry each side for 3-4 minutes, or until toasty, delicious, crispy brown.

7. Remove from pan onto cookie sheet lined with paper towels to sop up the extra oil.

8. Serve immediately. If not serving immediately, then heat in the oven to bring back their crispy qualities.

After I was finished cranking them out, I gave the first bite to George. He took a second to analyze them but then cheerfully said “This is nice!” Not sure whether or not he was trying to be polite to his wife or if they’re actually legit, I took the next bite. They make the potato pancake lover in me VERY happy. And knowing that theres a lot of zucchini and some kale in here, I feel much better about eating them! We stored some in the freezer for guests next weekend (side note: I hope this freezing this works! #nervousface). I can’t wait to break them out for breakfast and serve them with a poached or sunny-side up egg. Can you imagine this with a runny egg yolk??? Oh, sweet baby Jesus that sounds divine!

MILKSHAKE MONDAY: BARELY BOOZY HOMEMADE SHAMROCK SHAKE

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Does anyone else have fond memories of Shamrocks Shakes or is it just me? You know, the McDonald’s pastel green, mint-flavored shakes that pop up in March in honor of St. Patrick’s Day? I can hear you now, “Ohhhh yeeeaahhhh…those things…” For some reason I loved them when I growing up. It’s not like I’m an especially huge fan of mint-flavored sweets but the idea of them just makes me all smiley.

The story behind the Shamrock Shake is actually pretty awesome! The shake was created as a promotional item to raise money for charity. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Fred Hill had a daughter suffering from leukemia, and after seeing all of the families who travelled to visit their young, sick loved ones but had no place to stay, Hill and other team members decided that something had to be done to raise money to fix this. Thus, the seasonal shake was added to the menu and the first Ronald McDonald House was built from the profits. Cool, huh? Talk about “pimpin’ joy! You can read all the details here on Irish Central. (Also, if you’re confused about this “pimpin’ joy thing, it all started with the Bobby Bones Show out of Nashville. You can read more about the awesome movement here. #pimpinjoy)

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Image via Irishcentral.com // Image by McDonald’s. I’m lovin’ it.

The last time I got a Shamrock Shake it wasn’t quite as magical as I remember, unfortunately. They’re in the new (i.e. not circa 1989) McDonald’s clear cups and it was marbled in color because the green minty flavoring wasn’t mixed in that well and it was just such a bummer! And is it just me, but does its green color look a little weirder than it used to? It was my first Shamrock Shake in YEARS and here it was, all its magical glory stripped away. Le sigh. It’s all about the presentation, people!

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This year, this girl’s doin’ it for herself.

Ice cream. Milk. Creme de menthe. Bada bing, bada boom! I chose to use creme de menthe as my mint flavor because I have it in my cabinet. Yes, it’s that cut and dry. Also, I didn’t think straight up peppermint extract would do the trick because the shamrock shake is NOT just straight, clean, peppermint flavor. And it’s not really straight spearmint either. So what do you do? Other references online mention using mint syrup, like a coffee-flavoring. If you want to go that route, go ahead. But we’re more likely to use booze (hello, creme de menthe in hot cocoa is kind of awesome) so c’est la vie. It’s also what supplied the green coloring, as our creme de menthe is the bright green stuff, as opposed to the colorless kind. If you want to pump up the color, add a few delicate drops of green food coloring.

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: : : BARELY BOOZY HOMEMADE SHAMROCK SHAKE : : :
• 2 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
• 1 1/2 TBSP creme de methe
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1/4 TSP mint extract (whatever you have—peppermint, spearmint, etc. It’s just a light dosage to pump up the flavor)

: : : For Sprinkle Rim & Garnish : : :
• 2-3 TBSP chocolate syrup
• 3 TBSP sprinkles
• whipped cream
• cherry or raspberry (I had raspberries so there you go)
• cute straws are a bonus!

1. Place all ingredients in pitcher of blender.

2. Whiz blender for a few seconds, just enough to get everything well-mixed but not overly runny.

3. If garnishing, skip to next steps. If not, pour into glasses and enjoy!

If garnishing…
1. Place chocolate syrup on shallow dish, like a saucer for a teacup. Place sprinkles on second shallow dish.

2. Dip glasses in chocolate syrup, then dip in sprinkles. Carefully turn glasses over so sprinkles stay in place.

3. Carefully pour milkshake mix into each glass. You did it without making a mess? Yay! Good job!

4. Top with whipped cream and cherry or raspberry. Grab a few straws. Cheers!

The painful part of talking about McDonald’s milkshakes is that it makes me want the fries. That is something I haven’t indulged in in…well…a really long time. Dang. Distract yourself, ML. Think about puppies. Rainbows. Salads taste just like french fries (yeah, right).

On another note, how do you guys feel about a semi-regular milkshake feature? Because doesn’t Milkshake Monday feel like a good way to brighten up a case of the Mondays?? What do you think? Are you into it? Or not at all?

SUNDAY NIGHT GLUTEN-FREE QUINOA OATMEAL

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With the new year just beginning, I thought I’d share one of my (relatively) healthy recipes with you guys. Let me start out by saying very clearly that I do not have Celiac Disease. I generally do not have a problem digesting gluten. But after reading a bunch of stuff on people who have gone gluten-free, I decided to give it a try. I kept coming across articles or hearing from other people how giving up gluten helped solve some of their random health issues. People had less sinus problems. Less muscle aches. Headache problems went away. Skin problems cleared up. Other allergies seemed to disappear. Is it merely a coincidence? Or was gluten really the culprit? I suffer from headaches the majority of the time; it’s more rare for me to NOT have a headache of sorts. Then I somehow, totally randomly, came down with asthma a little over two years ago. Where the heck did that come from? The headaches were bad enough, so I’ve been curious about trying to go GF for awhile. I assumed it would be really hard and didn’t put enough time and energy into figuring out how to make it work for my eating habits. A friend turned me onto quinoa pasta, which we’ve actually been using for probably the past three years. And you know what? It’s good! But that’s about as far as I got because it just seemed really daunting.

The final straw came after our honeymoon. The Sunday night after our wedding—the night before we were supposed to leave for our honeymoon—I got the stomach flu. Awesome. Fabulous. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, I’ll thank my lucky stars for that, but we still had to postpone our trip one day and take a trip to the emergency room at 4:30 in the morning. Hey, in sickness and in health, right?? After a few IV bags of fluid and some prescription nausea meds, I was doing much better. But it still took several days to be officially back to normal and I’m not sure I ever got back to 100%, honestly. Even after we were back, even three weeks later, I noticed a change in my digestive system. I was on a soup kick (after being sick I found it comforting and just stuck with it), and Campbell’s just didn’t sit right. I used to eat Lean Cuisines at lunch (easy, affordable, could keep a stash in the freezer at work, pair it with a salad and stay in a good calorie range) but those, I noticed, weren’t digesting quite right either. I don’t know if it was the stomach flu that made me notice these things or what, but that was when I finally decided that I needed to make a change. I wanted to try eating cleaner. I’m not completely clean—I don’t do organic everything—but this processed food thing has got to change. And while I’m at it, it’s a good time to see if that gluten-free thing will help as well. Read More →