Healthy Recipes

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Low Gluten Multi-Grain Bread – version 1

Low Gluten Bread
Fresh out of the bread maker

I made this bread for Easter dinner. I should not experiment on a holiday I know, but Trader Joe’s was closed and I wanted a nice bread that wasn’t white and processed, and ideally gluten-free. Gluten-free bread takes too long because it’s not bread machine friendly, so I concocted this mash-up of 1/2 regular whole wheat and 1/2 gluten-free bread recipe for the bread machine. It’s not perfect, but it was good enough for Easter dinner.

1-1/2 C water, warmed in microwave
2 T oil
2 T honey
1 egg
1 t salt
1/8 C ground flax
2/3 C almond flour
1 C brown rice flour
1 C masa de harina
2/3 C Whole wheat flour
2/3 C white bread flour
1/2 C potato starch
1/4 C fat free milk powder
1 t xanthan gum
1 T yeast

Put in bread machine in this order, or in the order recommended by your particular machine. It’s a 2lb loaf however it comes out small and dense so a smaller machine could probably do it. Just make sure to put it on Dark crust so it will get a longer cooking time than a 1-1/2 lb loaf.

Eating notes:
– Tasty but not very sweet.
– Dense but makes good thin slices that toast well
– It freezes also freezes well.

Things to try next time…
– try 3 T ea oil and honey
– more flax meal
– lighter starch?
– replace almond flour with something else… spelt?

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NPR’s GF Cookies

I was searching for GF cookies for the holidays and lo and behold, found this super-yummy-looking recipe for Gluten Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/14/146875315/almond-butter-cookies

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo Credit: Nicole Spiridakis / NPR

Haven’t tried it yet, but they look promising.  Once I manage to try them I’ll surely come back and update you.  If anyone tries them before me, feel free to let us know the results.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

Whodathought you could make GF muffins that don’t taste GF?

I made these with freshly puréed roasted pumpkin that I made from a leftover Halloween pumpkin (uncarved!). I brought some to work and left them in the break room, and found this note stuck to the empty plate.

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P.S. I made these in a toaster oven with a convection option.

Lisa’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 C Butter
3/4 C Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C fresh pureed pumpkin (drained)

Dry Ingredients:
2/3 C brown rice flour
2/3 C gluten-free oat flour
1/3 C almond flour
1/3 C tapioca starch
1-1/2 t xanthan gum
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1-1/2 t pumpkin pie spice

Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, mixing after each one. Add vanilla and pumpkin and blend well.

2. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together well.

3. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet pumpkin mixture. Use mixer on low to mix until just blended. Do not over-mix.

4. Preheat oven to 350.

5. Wipe muffin tin cups with a light coat of oil. A non-stick 12-muffin pan is ideal.

6. The dough will be heavy and dense. Use a large table spoon to scoop dough into cups. It should mound slightly above the surface of the tin.

7. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Let cool slightly in the tin and then use a butter knife to gently pry each muffin out. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Venison (Deer) Stew Recipe

My husband’s friend at work is a frequent hunter so we were recently the beneficiaries of a three pound bag of this delicious lean meat. Last week we finally took it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the frig for several days. Today we have a huge pot of venison stew.

This big pot of stew cost us all of about $6 in vegetables and miscellaneous ingredients, since the meat itself was free!

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If you find yourself with a hunk of venison from a hunter-friend and you’re not sure what to do with it, give this a try, I really think you’ll be surprised at how wonderful this basic stew is. The meat is definitely the star of the show!

Ingredients:

3 lbs venison meat
olive oil
all purpose flour
2 large onions
4 stalks celery (plus some leaves if there are any)
2 large carrots
2 medium parsnips
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno peppers
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 C red wine
5 C beef stock
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
salt and pepper

Tools:

Large non-stick pot
plastic spatula
large plastic spoon
large santoku-style knife
small paring knife
several small to medium sized bowls
re-purposed scrubber
peeler
wood cutting board

Directions:

  1. First cut up all vegetables and place into bowls. Different vegetables cook differently so I find it helpful to put certain vegetables together: onions and celery, carrots and parsnips, garlic and jalapenos. Then I’ll add the vegetable “groupings” to the pot at the same time.
  2. Cut up the meat into stew sized pieces, cutting against the grain. Place meat in a large zipper bag.
    Add 1/3 C flour, salt and pepper (to taste) to the bag. Seal the bag making sure there’s plenty of air in the bag and shake up the meat to coat it.
  3. Put about 2 Tbsp oil in the pot and turn to medium heat.
  4. Dump half the meat from the zipper bag into the hot oil and brown meat on all sides. This takes about 4-5 minutes. [Don’t worry about doing this perfectly, just toss the meat around every half minute or so and you’ll get most of it browned.] Remove the meat to a large bowl and do the same thing with the other half. Add a little more oil to the pot if needed, about a teaspoon at a time. Remove the second batch to the bowl as well.
  5. Add a tiny bit more oil if you need to, and add the onions and celery to the pot. Saute these briefly until they start to soften.
  6. Add the carrots and parsnips and continue to saute until the vegetables start to brown.
  7. Finally add the garlic and jalapeno and saute for another minute or so.
  8. Add the red wine to the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula to release whatever yummy stuff has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let that simmer for a minute.
  9. Add the meat, tomato, stock, and seasonings to the pot and bring to a boil.
  10. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and let cook for an hour. Check it occasionally to make sure the simmer is low and that you aren’t losing liquid. You can add more stock to the pot if you like. Just don’t add stock or water within the last 20 minutes or the flavors won’t all have time to blend.

Serve with crusty whole grain bread, preferably home made!
[Note: Most seasoned makers of venison stew claim that slow cooking is the best method. Deer meat is lean but it is not super-tender in general. I would have to agree that if this stew was made in the slow cooker it probably would be a lot more tender. I have’t tried it yet since hunting season is over, but if you do try that please let us know how it turns out! If you’re wondering how, just put everything in your slow cooker at step 9 and cook it on low for 6-8 hours.]

Nutrition Information:

Servings: 6
Calories: 461
Protein: 55 g
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sugar: 8 g
Sodium: 646 mg

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An Easy Way to Pit Olives

I was making Moroccan Chicken in my new cast iron dutch oven tonight when I was faced with removing the pits from about 30 green olives.

Pitting Olives the Easy Way
Place the flat blade of your knife over an olive.

I had meant to buy pitted ones but I was in a hurry at the store and just grabbed the whole non-pitted ones without thinking.

So I did a little research and found this neat trick for pitting olives. It does make a bit of a mess of the olive, but when you’re just adding them to a stew, who cares?

[Note: Apparently olives with pits are moister than their pitted relatives and impart much better flavor to your food.]

Take an olive and place it on your cutting board. Take a large knife, and with the side of the blade press down on the olive until you feel it “give.”

Pitting Olives, Remove the pit
The pit practically pops right out of the olive.
Lift up your knife to reveal a flattened olive that’s been burst open on one end. Pick it up and pull the pit out with your fingers.

[Another Note: Look for the little stem that sometimes is still sticking to the end of the olive, and remove it. In my 1-1/2 cups of olives I found three with the stems, so just keep an eye out.]

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How to Prepare and Cook Kale

I’m sure a lot of people have never tried kale because they don’t know how to cook kale. I was one of those people too until just a few years ago. That was when I discovered that kale is a great tasting, highly nutritious leafy green vegetable, similar to spinach.

Kale is best when fresh, so cook it within a few days after you buy it at the grocery store. Make sure it’s a nice dark green with firm leaves and no brown spots or flimsy areas.

Kale is also very inexpensive, especially when you buy it in season. I can get a huge bunch of it in season (January-March) for about $1.29.

[Time saving tip: Make the whole bunch at once, even if you won’t eat it all that night. Store the rest in the frig for a few days. Then you can briefly microwave it and serve with another meal. That’ll save you a lot of time.]

There are three simple steps to preparing kale: wash, cut, and cook.

Wash the Kale

Rinsing the Kale
Rinse Kale Leaves Thoroughly

If it’s not organic, spray it with a natural fruit and vegetable cleaning spray first. This will absorb the fertilizers and toxins used in the growing process. It feels a little slimy when sprayed on, but when rinsed off it takes all that nasty gunk with it and feels nice and clean.

Kale has a lot of curly little nooks and crannies, so make sure to rinse it thoroughly under running water. Get all the little grains of dirt out. As you rinse it you can just dump it right into a big colander.

Let the kale drain in the colander for 5-10 minutes before cutting it. (Prepare some other part of your meal in the meantime.)

Cut the Kale

Cutting Kale - Remove the Stalk
Remove the Hard Stalk

Kale leaves have a big thick stalk, which tapers to a point in about the middle of the leaf. The stalk is very fibrous, chewy, and not as pleasant to eat as the leaves. Some people keep the stalk, but I prefer to cut it out, I just want the leaves.

Remove the stalk of each kale leaf by slicing up the side of the stalk on both sides with a sharp knife. Start at the base of the stalk, where the leaf starts to come out of the stalk, and move up the leaf.

At the top of the stalk it gets narrower and ultimately comes to a point. The leaf also gets thicker as you go up. Once you’ve sliced up both sides, the stalk basically comes right out.

There are also some little clingy leaves at the bottom of the stalk. You can just pull those off with your fingers and add them to your leaf pile.

Cutting Kale - Slice the Leaves
Cut the Kale Leaves into Bite-Sized Pieces

Still using your sharp knife, cut the rest of the leaves into bite size pieces. After you’ve cut out the stalk from maybe three or four leaves, stack them up together. Cut them crosswise into bands of 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide. You should have a large pot of cold water ready, right next to you, and you can toss them right into the cold water. Don’t turn the heat on yet though. Just keep going until you’re finished cutting the whole bunch

Cook the Kale

There are two things I’ve learned about kale that are worth keeping in mind.

1) It’s easiest to prepare by boiling. I don’t generally boil vegetables because it removes more of the nutritional value, but I’ve tried several other ways to cook kale. Boiling is easiest to get it right. Sauteing is better nutrionally but takes longer, at least twice as long as boiling, and the end result is not quite as appealing. Unless you are an experienced cook I wouldn’t recommend it.

2) It takes a lot longer than spinach. Since it’s to similar to spinach it’s easy to assume that cooking it for 3-5 minutes is plenty. It’s not. Boil it for 8-10 minutes. The exception is if you happen to get your hands on really young kale, it won’t take that long. Maybe 6-8 minutes. Young kale is smaller and thinner and not as dark as mature kale, and rarely seen in your local every day grocery store.

So you’ve got your chopped-up kale in a big pot of cold water. The kale floats so it’s hard to see when you’ve got too much water. You only need enough water to “cover” the kale, so push it around with a spoon to see how much you’ve got and remove some water if there’s too much.

Turn the heat on high under the pot of kale and let it come to a boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer the kale for about 10 minutes. Then taste it. It should be relatively soft but not as soft as spinach. Maybe as soft as a well-sauteed mushroom. I know that sounds odd, but that’s what comes to mind.

Boiling Kale
Boiling Kale

If it’s done you can pull it out with a strainer or slotted spoon. I like to use one of those chinese stir-fry spoons, with the bamboo handle and metal mesh scoop. Put it back in your colander and push down on it gently with your spoon to squeeze some more of the water out. [Note for those of you who watched my video on how to prepare kale: I did not drain the excess water out and I regretted that because it was too wet when we ate it.

Season to taste. Kale holds up well to a variety of basic seasonings. In the video I used olive oil and Mrs. Dash onion and herb blend. I’ve also used garlic, sauteed onions, garlic salt, butter, Adobo, and just plain old salt and pepper. Do whatever suits you — experiment a little.

Buen Provecho!

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Kale’s Nutrition

Serving Size: 1 Cup
Calories – 36
Fat – .5 g
Fiber – 2.5 g
Carbohydrates – 7 g
Protein 2.5 g
Kale’s other nutritional benefits: Cancer fighting food, high in antioxidants, Vit C, Vit K, Vit A. Also a moderately good source for calcium and iron.