Food · Recipes

Easy but Delicious Lunch with Roasted Vegetables

I’m in the middle of cooking for the week again. My crock pot chicken is almost done so I’ll have that for lunch. I’ve already made the rice/ quinoa medley, so I’ll move on to roasted vegetables next. Roasted root veggies are so easy to make and I can eat those all week as well. They are fabulous when combined with other foods to make satisfying and easy meals. Continue reading “Easy but Delicious Lunch with Roasted Vegetables”

Food

Simple Spicy Coconut Sauce

The mouth-watering aromas of spicy cooking from foreign lands….yum….is there anything better? My simple coconut sauce is a blend of tastes from around the world. With this recipe, you are making a kind of Thai sauce with the coconut milk, lemon and hot pepper flakes. There is also an Indian/Moroccan  influence with the turmeric and ginger plus the sweet and sour punch of Asian cuisine. Sounds like a lot of different sauces, but all of the flavors meld together beautifully to combine one tasty sauce to pour over rice, noodles or vegetables. OH! And it can also be used as a simmer sauce for chicken, fish, tofu shrimp, stews: the list goes on and only capped by your imagination. Continue reading “Simple Spicy Coconut Sauce”

Food

Prepping for Eight Easy and Healthy No-bake Tart Fillings

All of these variations on tart fillings are no bake. The bit of baking that you may want to do is for the tart shells themselves. They only take about fifteen minutes prep and fifteen minutes to bake. Not so bad, right? Of course you can use purchased shells, but these are nutty and filled with healthy goodness. So to do them right (in my humble opinion – grin), step one is to use my version of mini tart cups. The basic dry ingredients of the cups are  1/2 gluten free honey grahams and 1/2 pecans. With the addition of the sun butter, the cups are very low in sugar, delicious and full of nutrition. What more can you ask for in baked goods?

filled tart cups
Gluten Free Festive Holiday Tarts

You can make the shells ahead of time and store them in a dry, airtight container. Do NOT store them in the fridge. They will get too soft. They will keep for at least a week. I’ve never kept them around for longer so I don’t have that information.

Now for the fillings. I wanted to give you some background on the fillings and possible substitutions for you. At the end of this post, there is a gallery of the cute little deserts with a link  for the actual recipes. I started out including them in this post, but HOLY COW! With eight recipes, it made for a very long post. So read this first and then click on over to the actual yummy recipes.

three filled tart shells
three filled tart shells

I’ve experimented and come up with eight different, relatively low cal and sometimes sugar free fillings for you. Even though these tarts are technically deserts, they make nutritious and energizing snacks for anytime of the day. The filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. All of the  fillings keep well for at least a week. To maintain a more crisp tart shell, I only assemble just before presentation whether it’s for a pot luck or just for myself. Of course, they can still be filled ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator, but it will make for a softer shell if you have to wait too long to serve. Not gross at all, but I like a more crisp tart cup myself.

three tarts
three filled tart shells

All of these fillings are easily adaptable to whatever your preferences are. If you want a sugar-free version, substitute Stevia for the sweetener. Remember, a little Stevia goes a long way, so for every cup of filling that I make, I only add 1/2 to 1 packet of Stevia. And that depends on what the filling is. For the very tart Greek yogurt, I add the full packet, but for anything less sour, I only add 1/2 packet of Stevia. Try it with 1/2 packet and then add more if you need to.

Other interchangeable sweeteners that go well with these tarts are Wax Orchard’s Fruit Sweet, honey, pure maple syrup, maple butter and Agave. I’ve tried them all and am happy with the taste of them all. Spoon for spoon, the Wax Orchards fruit Sweet has the same amount of calories as honey. BUT, it  is twice as sweet as honey. So, to use it, you would only put 1/2 of the amount of honey called for in the recipe. Thus, you are only eating half the calories. Know what I mean jelly bean?

A note on maple butter: it’s just whipped pure maple syrup. You can buy it like that in the health food stores. I like to use the butter for the fillings because it keeps the filling a little more firm than if you use the syrup.

Use whatever fruit you like. I like fresh, but frozen fruit works as well. Use whatever nut butter that you like. What? You say that you don’t like peanut butter? Then substitute Sun Butter. It’s made from sunflower seeds and is delicious. In my opinion, it’s better than Almond butter. If you’ve never tried it, give it a go. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Click here for all eight of the tart filling recipes

Here it comes: the Mother-knows-best part of the post.  I do not want to take all of the fun out of enjoying these super cute little treats. But, as a reformed sugar addict I have to add a word of caution here.  As far as deserts go, these are relatively healthy but they do have sugar in them. Even Stevia is a natural sugar and your body will metabolize it as such. If you are a sugar addict like I am, then you MUST be aware that you will need to share these treats. And “treats” is the key word. Have one or two and then push the platter away and move on to the veggies. That way you will avoid those awful sugar cravings that are sure to come when you over indulge in treats.

Food

Healthy, Delicious, Gluten Free and Almost Sugar free Mini Tart Cups

Just in time for your holiday baking – Try my gluten free, graham cracker mini tart crusts. I made them so that I could make fabulous but still healthy mini tarts to take to work for a holiday pot luck. Of course they had to be healthy, but not taste “healthy and gluten free” if you know what I mean.

mini tarts
mini tarts with graham cracker crust

They were a hit! Even the people who pooh-pooh my brown bag lunches didn’t guess that they are made of exactly what I often eat- – Gluten free honey grahams, nuts, and sunflower butter. They all ate their cake tarts and had to admit that these are delicious. One of my sugar-junkie non- believers even said that he could eat these all day long. And, seriously, so can I. Let’s just say that I have to do a LOT of taste testing when I make these little cups filled  with everything from fruit yogurt, diced poached pears or pumpkin pie desert topped with coconut whipped cream. YUM!

I’m calling these mini crusts “almost sugar free” because there is a little honey in the recipe and a little sugar in the purchased graham crackers. Since my recipe calls for a cup of pecans, it cuts way down on the graham crackers as well. You can certainly make the tart cups have even less sugar by substituting Stevia for honey. Speaking of substitutes, there is an excellent chart of baking substitutes found on Greatist. Click to see and print it out.

tart cups

Recipe for Almost Sugar Free Mini Tart Cups

  • Servings: 12 mini cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Before you get started, you will need an un-greased mini tart or cupcake baking pan and a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 6 gluten free honey graham crackers
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup sunflower butter
  • 2 tbs honey (can substitute 2 packets  Stevia or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
spice for mini graham cracker tarts
Ingredients for mini graham cracker tarts. There is coconut oil in the back cup, but you can’t see it in my photo. I’m still working on taking better food photos.

Into the food processor, toss the dry ingredients and whirl them until they are all crushed up. Add melted coconut oil and sunflower butter and process until smooth and pebbly.

Drop spoonfuls of the cracker mix into the baking pan. Use your fingers to press down into the cups and up along the sides.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for fifteen minutes. When they come out of the oven, the cups will be a little raised and puffed up. Use a dowel or small jigger glass to push them back down so that they are nice and flat on the bottom. Cool and fill with whatever you like.

trio of tarts

Food

AWESOME Recipe with Edamame Spaghetti noodles

Shrimp scampi with Organic Edemame Spaghetti
Shrimp scampi with Organic Edemame Spaghetti

My newest favorite food is Organic Edamame Spaghetti. It is made with only edamame (green soybeans) and water. Clean, right? No weird stuff added that I cannot even pronounce. One serving of these noodles contain 11 grams of fiber, 21 grams of carbs and a whopping 24 grams of protein per serving. Plus, they are gluten free. You have to understand that I’m coming down off of a lifetime of boycotting green stuff. Since I am trying to get healthier, I set aside my prejudices and (gulp) went in for a taste test at Costco. They tossed the cooked noodles with a little olive oil and a little salt and pepper. They are delicious! I was hooked the instant that I tried them.

edamame_spaghetti_1280__45997.1411510593.1280.1280

Now regular white pasta seems way too pasty to me. The edamame noodles are just right. I happily bought them,  brought them home and quickly logged onto the internet to see what kind of recipes I could find for these noodles and guess WHAT??? Except for a shorter cooking time, it looks like you treat them just like any other spaghetti noodles.

At __(lots of years) old, I am a relative newbie at cooking. I mean, I can follow a recipe, but making stuff up on my own…hmmm…not so much. Plus, for the first time in my life, I am trying to cook ( sort of) gluten free, clean, organic and with lots of vegetables.  Shrimp scampi with butter/ lemon sauce, here I come. OMG! It turned out delicious! Here is how I made the edamame noodles and scampi this time.

edamame noodles

  1. Bring unsalted water to a boil. Drop noodles in and cook for about four minutes. Yep, It takes about half of the time as regular. white flour noodles take to cook.

spices for Organic Edemame Spaghetti

2. Sprinkle a drizzle of olive oil in a fry pan and add spices. For this dish I used a packet of IL Casale Garlic and Chili Spices for pasta and MRS. Dash Fiesta lime seasoning. Just one tablespoon of each will do. Heat in the olive oil for just a couple of seconds to release the delicious aromas.

Organic Edemame Spaghetti with spices3. Pour oil/ spice mixture onto the drained edamame noodles and toss to coat. The dish is very tasty as is. But, this time I decided to add shrimp scampi to it.

Cooking Shrimp scampi with Organic Edemame Spaghetti

4. To make shrimp scampi, drizzle about 1/4 cup olive oil into a fry pan. Add about a tablespoon or two of butter. Heat to melt and then add peeled and de-veined shrimp plus a couple cloves of diced garlic and squeezed juice from one lemon..

Cooking Shrimp Scampi

5. Toss and cook together until the shrimp turn pink and opaque white. If you like, you can add salt and pepper to taste. I added only a little pepper and dried parsley since I already had the Mrs. Dash on my noodles. The dried parsley isn’t necessary- I use it just because I think that it looks pretty on the final dish.

Shrimp scampi with Organic Edemame Spaghetti
Shrimp scampi with Organic Edemame Spaghetti

6. Drizzle over the noodles, toss and enjoy!