Category Archives: Vegetables

Daring Cooks: Sri Lankan Beef Curry and Carrots with Tropical Flavors

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I won’t go too much into Appam, as I didn’t make it. Right now, I am not eating grains or yeast, so I figured making a yeasted rice flatbread wasn’t in the cards. However, if you want to read about how to make these (and they look like the perfect accompaniment to a saucy curry!), check them out over at Mary Mary Culinary.

I did, however, jump right on some Sri Lankan curry! I love curries made with coconut milk. Spices + coconut milk = comfort food. (I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post about a Thai-inspired curry, but it’s really true!) This curry was different than most I’ve made; it used fresh curry leaves and tamarind pulp. Lucky for me, there is an Indian grocery not far from our house, and I was able to pick up the necessary ingredients.

As this curry simmered on the stove, the intoxicating aroma of spices filled the house. I could hardly wait until it was ready. I served it with spaghetti squash for me, brown rice for the hubby, and some amazing carrots with lime, peppers, shallots, and cilantro that was bright, fresh, and lightened up the heavier curry. It was a lovely meal. Next time, I think I might opt for a lower temperature when cooking the meat, and perhaps swap out the beef for a lamb or goat. The London Broil I used was a bit too lean, and ended up a tad dry for the dish. However, the flavors were sensuous and won me over.

Sri Lankan Beef Curry, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb boneless beef (I used London Broil)

1 T coconut oil

10 fresh or frozen curry leaves

1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped

generous 1 c  finely chopped onion

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T tamarind pulp (I had a jarred tamarind pulp with no seeds)

3 c water

1 T arrowroot powder

Dry Spice Mixture:

1 T coriander seeds

1 t cumin seeds

one 1-inch piece cinnamon or cassia stick

seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom

1. Cut the beef into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.

2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing!

3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.

4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.

5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Add the tamarind pulp to the 2 cups of water. Whisk in the arrowroot powder.

7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Carrots with Tropical Flavors, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb carrots, about 5 medium, peeled

1 T coconut oil

about 8 fresh curry leaves

2 T minced seeded green cayenne chiles

3 T minced shallots

2 t rice vinegar (I used lime juice)

1 t salt

¼ t honey

½ c coconut milk

¼ c water

coarse salt, optional

cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish

1. Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside.

2. Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.

3. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar/lime juice, salt, honey and mix well. Increase the heat and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid.

4. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5 minutes or so, depending on size. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away and add a little more water if it is almost dry.

5. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

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Filed under Beef, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Raw Zucchini Noodles and a Thai-Inspired Chicken Curry

Do you know what this is?

It’s zucchini noodles!

What are zucchini noodles? Well, they’re not really noodles, but rather, they are very thin strips of raw zucchini. I have a spiral slicer, and thought I’d put it to use making noodles. I wanted something grain-free to eat with a chicken curry, and this was just the thing.

The spiral slicer does make this super-easy, but if you don’t have one, you can use a vegetable peeler to make wide, flat noodles. Just peel the zucchini lengthwise into long strips, rotating as you go, until you get to the seeds. If you want, you can saute the noodles really briefly (like for a minute, tops), but I even enjoy them totally raw. They make the perfect base for any saucy dish. While I enjoy spaghetti squash as well, zucchini is a lovely change. (and since zucchini is in season, why not?)

So how about that curry?

This is definitely an easy weeknight curry. I didn’t make the curry paste from scratch. (shocker, I know) I used Thai Kitchen red curry paste. This made the whole dish come together much more quickly. While it’s not a traditional Thai curry (I haven’t seen many Thai curries with red cabbage and yellow squash…I just threw them in there because I had a ton of vegetables in the house that needed to be eaten, and it sounded tasty to me.), the flavors still worked well together. It was warm, slightly spicy, and comforting – all great attributes in a curry. (Aren’t saucy curries like, the ultimate comfort food? They are to me – and it doesn’t matter if it’s an Indian curry, a Thai curry, a Jamaican curry, or a totally-new-invention curry. They all make my belly happy.) And those zucchini noodles? They kept it from feeling heavy. In the summer, that’s a definite plus.

Thai-Inspired Chicken Curry

2 T coconut oil, divided

1 T Thai Kitchen red curry paste

1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

1 c coconut milk

1 5-inch piece lemongrass, smashed with side of knife (you can find this at Whole Foods or an Asian grocery, or omit)

3 Kaffir lime leaves (you can find this at Whole Foods or an Asian grocery, or sub a bit of lime zest)

1 medium yellow squash, sliced

1 ½ c sliced red cabbage

1 tomato, chopped

2-3 T cilantro, chopped

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Swirl to heat, and add curry paste. Stir the paste around for a few seconds to get it sizzling. Season the chicken with a bit of salt and pepper, and add to the skillet. Stir until the paste is evenly coating the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, and Kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened well and flavors have melded. Adjust seasoning to taste.

While the curry is simmering, heat another skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining coconut oil and swirl. Add the squash and cabbage and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until the squash is lightly browned and the cabbage is starting to wilt. Add the tomatoes and stir for a moment. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vegetables to the curry and stir. Serve on top of zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, or steamed rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

A few weeks ago, my husband surprised me. Little did I know he’d been tucking away money, but he sat me down, whipped out some cash, and told me that it was for a new VitaMix. I nearly cried, I was so excited. I ordered it right away, and it arrived at my doorstep a few days later.

Of course, the first things I made with it were my morning smoothies. No real recipe there – often I toss a fruit or two, some spinach, some protein powder, and give it a whirl. But now, the smoothies are creamy. No more chewing bits of spinach! This Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie is even more of a delight in my new blender. Lately, I’ve been throwing fresh, ripe peaches in the blender and making creamy peachy concoctions. Delish.

But the VitaMix can do so much more than just make smoothies. You can actually “cook” soup in the blender – just blend on high speed for a few minutes, and I promise you, your soup will come out creamy, smooth, and HOT! It’s amazing. But it can also blend batters for baked goods. My first attempt? A chocolate zucchini muffin – without the addition of oils.

I wanted a little treat for breakfasts that wouldn’t be too rich, too sweet, or too indulgent. This muffin definitely delivers. You’d never know there was zucchini in the batter, as the VitaMix takes care of all of those little pieces. The muffin is denser than some, but I found it really enjoyable. Just the right amount of texture for a good, hearty muffin.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1/4 c brown rice flour (30 grams)

1/4 c potato starch (35 grams)

1/2 c sorghum flour (60 grams)

1 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

2 T cocoa powder (12 grams)

1/4 t guar gum

1/4 t salt

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t allspice

1/4 c egg whites

1 t vanilla extract

2/3 c coconut palm sugar (100 grams)

2 c coarsely chopped zucchini (255 grams)

1/2 c chopped pecans

1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with papers.

Combine brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, guar gum, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl. Whisk until completely blended.

Place egg whites, vanilla, coconut palm sugar, and zucchini into blender and secure lid. Select Variable 1, then turn machine on and quickly increase speed. Blend for 15 seconds or until everything looks uniform. Stop blender and add dry ingredients. Secure lid and continue to blend for 20 seconds or until everything is uniform. If necessary, use tamper to press any ingredients into the blades.

Stop machine and pour mixture into large bowl. Mix in nuts and raisins by hand. Spoon into muffin papers 2/3 of the way full. Bake 16-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 1 dozen.

This post is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free, hosted at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

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Filed under breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Menu Plan June 27-July 1, plus a Summer Squash Chicken Frittata

Where have the menu plans gone? You might be asking. They haven’t been posted on my blog for a few weeks now. Well, long story short, I was on vacation for 2 weeks. While I had vague ideas of what I planned on cooking, I was in the midst of testing so many recipes for my upcoming book, and our schedule was so lax, that I didn’t have an actual “plan.” (In fact, there were evenings where, after hours of cooking and testing recipes, my husband asked what was for dinner, and my only plan was something like “There are brownies, a cake, crackers, bread, some tomato jam, and I’m working on a meatloaf. Would you like any of that?”  I had tons of food around, but often, there wasn’t a cohesive meal in sight.) Last week, I was still in post-vacation recovery mode, and a lot of the meals were last-minute compilations of what we needed to use up. Finally, this week, we’re back into the swing of things.

One of the recipes I was testing during my time off was a recipe I debuted last year, albeit in a slightly different form, as an appetizer for a crowd of guests (gluten and dairy eaters) that were visiting. Originally it was called an “appetizer square”, and was made with zucchini and crumbled pork sausage, rather than summer squash and chicken. It obviously went over well, as the pieces were gobbled down fairly quickly. When I came across it again, I remembered the abundance of squash in the refrigerator, and decided to make a different version. It turned out to be even better than the first, in my opinion.

What’s lovely about a recipe like this is that it’s versatile. Zucchini or summer squash can be used – and this time of year, most of us have more of both of these veggies than we’d like, so it’s a great way to use it up! Any leftover cooked meat can be used – or even beana (I could imagine black beans tasting scrumptious here!). Spice it how you’d like. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer. The sky is the limit here.

Summer Squash Chicken Frittata (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

½ c olive oil, divided

½ c diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t minced fresh sage

½ lb diced cooked chicken

½ t ground cumin

1 t herbs de Provence

1 t chile powder

4 whole eggs

½ c almond flour

¼ c coconut flour

1 T baking powder

3 c grated summer squash or zucchini

½ c Daiya cheese (or other non-dairy cheese)

1 T nutritional yeast flakes

½ t salt

¼ t ground black pepper

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions to skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and chicken and sauté for another minute. Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Grease a 13X9 baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until blended, and add the rest of the oil and whisk. Add in the flours, baking powder, onion-garlic-chicken mix, grated squash and remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Makes 16 appetizer servings.

And now, for the menu for this week!

Monday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomato

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast, leftover veggies from Sunday dinner (grilled asparagus, green beans)

Dinner: Chicken with mole sauce, steamed brown rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday

Breakfast: Smoothie with strawberries, spinach, protein powder, almond milk and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites with Daiya cheese

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast with baby carrots and steamed spinach, unless there are leftovers from dinner

Dinner: Garden salad, Meatballs

Wednesday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Garden salad with roasted turkey breast or tuna

Dinner: Brined pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed cauliflower and spinach

Thursday

Breakfast: Smoothie with acai berry, protein powder, banana, spinach, and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites

Lunch: Tuna, shredded carrots, and spinach in a brown rice tortilla wrap

Dinner: Grilled salmon, okra and tomatoes, grilled potatoes

Friday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Creamy tomato tofu soup, gluten-free crackers

Dinner: Fried brown rice with shrimp, green beans

Snacks this week will include fresh peaches, black bean dip on brown rice cakes, and apples with peanut or almond butter. I also have Tanka bars on hand if I need a bit of protein.

Want more great menu ideas? Check out Celiacs In The House and the Gluten-Free Menu Swap!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Appetizers, breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Meal Plans, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

Daring Cooks: Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Of course, I’ve made potato salad before. My mom has a straightforward recipe that I love (and have blogged about before – scroll down towards the bottom to view the recipe). But for this challenge, I wanted to make a bit of a different potato salad. Immediately, capers came to mind. Their briny, piquant flavor would compliment the creamy potatoes well. Of course, I’d still want to add some creamy texture, so a nice high-end mayonnaise would be needed. In the interest of keeping the salad lower in calories, though, I tried to keep the amount modest. Some fresh dill, dijon mustard, and smoked paprika helped round out what became a full-flavored, potato salad – a perfect accompaniment to any backyard barbecue.

Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

1 lb small red potatoes

Salt

1 T lemon juice

3 T diced red onion

3 T olive oil mayonnaise (such as Spectrum)

1 t dijon mustard

1 t honey

1 T capers

1 t fresh dill, chopped

1/4 t smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with a generous amount of salt and enough water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes or until pierced easily with a fork. Drain and allow to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 inch) and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and red onion. Stir to coat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and honey. Add capers, dill, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add in the potatoes and eggs and toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Southwestern Omelet and a Call for Recipe Testers

I love eggs. They’re not only healthy, a great source of inexpensive protein (even happy, free-range eggs don’t cost much), and one of the speediest things to cook, they also are SO tasty. One of my favorite ways to enjoy an egg is simply cooked sunny-side up, followed closely by poached. But sometimes, I want something with a little more flair, and more ability to incorporate the plethora of veggies in my kitchen. This is when an omelet is just the thing.

Omelets don’t need to be complicated. Of course, mine aren’t as delicately fancy and thin as some, but for my everyday breakfast, that’s fine by me. Just a single fold – enough to allow the filling inside to get all warm, melty, and mingled with the egg – works for my quick and healthy breakfast. I’ll save the fancier stuff for fancier occasions.

Another bonus about omelets – each one is customizable. That way, if you’re making omelets for other family members, everyone can pick out their favorite fillings. Today, I opted for a Southwestern style – a sauteed mix of shallots, diced tomato, serrano pepper, and spinach, topped with just a tiny bit of Daiya cheese. It was spicy, fresh, and packed with powerful flavors, but light enough so that I had energy to get on with my day. My kind of breakfast.

Southwestern Omelet (makes 1 omelet)

1 T olive oil

2 T sliced shallots

4-5 slices fresh serrano pepper (or more if you’re daring – my chile was HOT!)

1/4 c diced tomato

1 large handful of baby spinach

2 eggs, scrambled

2 T Daiya (or other non-dairy) cheese, or omit

1 T fresh chopped cilantro

Heat a small skillet (mine was about 8 inches) to medium heat and add half of the oil. Saute the shallots and serrano chile for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add tomato and spinach and continue to saute until spinach is wilted. Remove and set aside in a small bowl. Wipe out the skillet and add the rest of the oil. Swirl to coat well. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the eggs. Allow eggs to sit without stirring for a minute. Once eggs start to cook on the bottom, take a flexible spatula and carefully pull the edges of the eggs away from the skillet and allow the runny part to fill the space underneath. Do this all the way around the omelet. Repeat this once or twice more, or until the egg is starting to set up more. Once nearly set, add your veggie mixture on one side of the omelet and top with Daiya cheese. Top with a bit of cilantro. Then carefully flip the empty side of the omelet over onto the filling, holding the top in place for a moment or two, if necessary, until the egg stays folded. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds or so, and carefully remove from pan and put onto plate.

Enjoy.

Okay, by announcing it here, this makes it official, right? Are you ready? (Am I ready? Eeek!)

I am working on my first e-book! This book will be filled with gluten and dairy-free recipes that are tasty and healthy for the whole family, made from whole foods and real ingredients. But I need your help to make this happen. I will be furiously working on recipes here at home, but I need testers! If you’re interested in testing out recipes, please send me an email at alta2924 (at) hotmail (dot) com. I hope to be able to have recipe testing start in the next month or so. Thank you in advance for all of your help! This is a huge step for me, and I have so many dreams for this book – I certainly hope it’s as exciting for you as it will be for me!

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Gluten-Free Goodness

This month for Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger I chose to adopt Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness. Cheryl’s a relatively new bloggy friend of mine; I “met” her through Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl. Cheryl is a Registered Dietitian and nutritionist, as well as a health and wellness coach. She helps a lot of people enjoy a healthy, gluten-free diet. Cheryl has several food allergies, and while that might frustrate some in the kitchen, Cheryl handles it with grace and innovation. She is always coming up with something delicious, healthy, and allergen-free. It definitely makes choosing just a few recipes to try that much more difficult!

Somehow, I managed. I had to choose one of her dessert recipes, and came across these amazing Brazil Nut Chip Cookies. Brazil nuts, however, are not something I adore, so I improvised a bit. (Okay, more than a little bit…but I wanted to use what was on hand.)I used almond butter instead of the brazil nut butter, substituted raisins for the chocolate chips, and used 1 whole banana instead of the avocado. My gluten-free flour blend was 1 part teff flour, 1 part millet flour, and 1 part coconut flour. These came out of the oven tasting like banana-y oatmeal raisin cookies – one of my favorite cookies of all time. I’m definitely making these again and again. They were superb.

Another recipe I have tried (more than once) from Cheryl is her coconut curried greens recipe. I opted to use canned coconut milk, and did not add chicken, as I made this a side dish. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients here – these greens are craveably delicious. I had to make them twice – after the first time, the flavors haunted me. It’s a good thing collard greens are arriving in my CSA box in large amounts lately!

While this is all I’ve made so far, I definitely found more recipes I want to make in the future. Cheryl has a Nana Skillet Bread that looks comforting and delicious. I can imagine it as tasty breakfast treat. Her Sniffle Stew looks like a go-to recipe, especially in the winter. (I don’t think you need the sniffles in order to eat it – I can imagine it’s the perfect lunchtime soup as well!) And who could pass up her Chocolate Raspberry Pie? That looks killer.

Need some healthy, easy recipe inspiration? Check out more of Cheryl’s recipes here. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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Filed under Baked goods, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian