Poached Eggs over Winter Vegetable Hash

20140127-111847.jpgSince learning I was allergic to corn, I have opted to purchase pasture raised eggs. The first time I tried them I was astonished at the dramatic difference in color, flavor, and health benefits. I still never get over it! Such a creamy white, and such a brightly colored, orange yolk! I will never, ever go back. 

I once read on a website where someone said that man cannot make a better sauce than the oozing yolk of a good soft-cooked egg. I could not agree more! Although I used to think making poached eggs at home was never worth the trouble, finding such excellent eggs changed my mind real quick. It also helps that I found what I think is the perfect way to poach eggs! No more straggly egg white frothing in the water. Here is a neat poached egg with a perfectly glorious soft yolk! Continue reading

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Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash Curry Sauce and Lime Rice

20140121-162127.jpgI love curried food. Vegetables, meats, rice… I love all of it. Unfortunately, most curry sauces use tomatoes, potatoes, and/or carrots, which are all on my allergy list. This month, however, I vowed that I was going to make and enjoy chicken curry that was allergen-free. I created this recipe last week, and can I just say, I am beyond thrilled at the result! This chicken curry is easily on par with what I used to enjoy before discovering my allergies.

Now it is true that things taste better when you know the thought and work that went into making them, and I have been deprived for so long, I was just so happy to taste these flavors again. So I recognize that my opinion is probably biased! But you try it and let me know what you think!

Like most of my recipes, you don’t have to be allergic to certain foods to make this, and it’s not lacking any flavor just because they are made without “normal” ingredients. The chicken is juicy and tender and the sauce is creamy and uber flavorful! Lime rice is truly the perfect accompaniment; so much better than plain old normal rice! (I didn’t have any, but some fresh cilantro would be delicious to add to the rice! If you go this route, add it after cooking the rice.) And an additional plus, all of these ingredients are good for you! The butternut squash sauce is a great way to sneak in extra vegetables.

Please forgive me for the lack of photos below; I made this dish on the fly. And although it’s not beautiful, it sure tastes fantastic. I hope you enjoy this dish just as much as I do!

Chicken Curry with Butternut Squash Curry Sauce and Lime Rice

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the chicken:
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. curry
2 tsp. coriander
salt and ground black pepper

For the sauce:
1 1/2 c. butternut squash, cubed (how to peel and cut butternut squash here)
1 c. water
4 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tbs. curry
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt

For the rice:
1 1/2 c. jasmine rice
3 c. water
1 lime, juice and zest

In a large pan, heat the olive oil until it’s shimmery. When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs to the pan on at a time. Sprinkle the curry and coriander over the meat, and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Don’t worry about the seasonings being too even or pretty because we’re going to chop these babies up later. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes on each side.

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While the chicken is cooking, in a medium sized pot add all of the ingredients for the sauce, except the Greek yogurt. On low heat, cook the ingredients until the butternut squash is soft and can easily be pierced with a fork. Let it cool for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. I wanted my sauce to be smooth with a few chunks, but you can blend yours as much or as little as you want.

Once your chicken is done cooking, turn off the stove and remove the chicken from the pan. Cut the thighs into bite sized chunks and add the pieces to a large bowl. Spoon the butternut squash sauce over the chicken pieces and add the plain Greek yogurt. Stir gently until the chicken is thoroughly coated.

For the rice: In a medium sized pot, add the rice and water. Cook on medium high heat until it reaches a boil. Then turn down the heat to medium low and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water and is soft and fluffy. Remove from heat. Squeeze the lime juice into the rice and stir in the lime zest.

Serve the chicken over the rice and enjoy!

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Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

20140121-162409.jpgFinding out that I was allergic to oats was not nearly as earth-shaking as finding I was allergic to corn or soy or potatoes. But it has proved very difficult to find grab-and-go, healthy, fueling breakfast options that are oat (and nut) free!

So this month when planning my grocery list, I resolved that I was going to make a delicious, allergy-legal granola for cereal and yogurt parfaits. I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I am ECSTATIC about what came out of my little experiment! It’s the perfect blend of crunchy, sweet, and salty, with all kinds of wonderful textures. (Beware if you make this, your house will smell fantastic for days!)

Not only is this granola delicious and healthy, but portioning and storing it in mason jars makes it so easy to grab in the morning. I just add half a cup of milk, yogurt, or applesauce and run out the door. The protein and fiber in the granola are more than enough to hold me over until lunch.

Behold, nut-free, oat-free granola!

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

  • Servings: 6 1/2 c. servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 c. coarse wheat bran
2/3 c. unsalted, unroasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shell)
1/4 c. unsalted, unroasted sunflower seeds
1 c. Arrowhead Mills puffed rice or barley cereal
1/2 c. dried unsweetened cranberries
1/6 c. sunflower seed butter
2 tbl. raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the coconut with the wheat bran and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the bran and coconut has browned. Be sure not to walk away, because it can burn quickly!

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Pour the toasted wheat bran and coconut into a large bowl. Making sure that the baking sheet is clean of all bran pieces, spread the pepitas and sunflower seeds on the baking sheet in a thin layer and toast in the oven until browned as well. When the seeds are toasted, add them to the bowl with the puffed rice cereal and cranberries. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

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Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, add the sunflower seed butter, honey, sea salt, and vanilla. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until the mixture is smooth and blended well. Add this to the granola and stir gently until everything is covered.

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Spread this mixture in a thin layer on your baking sheet. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Bake until the granola has browned and the smells drive you crazy. Be certain to watch carefully during this step too, as burning happens quickly! Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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For easy storage and for grab-and-go mornings, portion out one half cup servings and store in pint sized mason jars.

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Whenever you need breakfast or a healthy mid-day snack, grab a jar, add milk/yogurt/applesauce/a spoon, and enjoy!

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What are your favorite healthy breakfasts?

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites | A legal sweet treat

20140120-143406.jpgLately, I have been on the quest for healthy alternatives to snacks, especially dessert. But it’s extremely hard to find desserts that taste good and are safe for my allergies! Fortunately, finding safe chocolate opened up the door for a lot of desserts, but making healthy options has eluded me for quite some time. Finally, I stumbled upon an awesome healthy food blog called Kellie’s Food to Glow! Among other healthy, delicious recipes, I found one for Chocolate Almond Butter Bites.

This little goodie is definitely a sweet treat, but uses healthy ingredients. The only sweetener is chopped dates, the dark chocolate provides antioxidants, and the protein-rich nut butter helps you feel satisfied with just one! And although I cannot have nut butter, sunflower seed butter worked perfectly in this recipe.

I just love taking the little mini muffin papers out of the refrigerator and unwrapping these delights. They’re the perfect size to satiate my sweet tooth, but not feel as though I’m overindulging! They do require a little work to get the chocolate right, but it is well worth the effort. I’ve also included quite a few pictures below to guide you through!

I hope you enjoy!

Sunbutter Chocolate Bites

  • Servings: 25
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 c. SoyFree Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 chopped dates
1/4 c. SunButter (or other nut or seed butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring consistently. While the chocolate is melting, separate and arrange your mini muffins papers on a baking sheet. When the chocolate is melted and stirred smooth, drop about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup.

20140120-143256.jpgUsing your spoon, spread the chocolate around the bottom of the paper and gently push it up the sides. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden, about 15 minutes.

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While your chocolate is cooling, add dates, sunflower seed butter, vanilla, and salt to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are blended and have formed a “dough.” When your chocolate is cool, remove the baking sheet from the fridge. Roll little balls of about 1 tsp. of dough and gently press into each chocolate cup.

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Reheat remaining chocolate over double boiler if necessary, and spoon a small amount over the sunflower seed butter filling. Use your spoon to push the chocolate to the edges of the paper.

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Set in the refrigerator or freezer again to harden for about 15 minutes. When they’re all done, they should look like this!

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Store in the fridge, and when you’re ready to eat, unwrap a candy and enjoy!

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What kinds of healthy treats do you like to indulge in?

Homemade Applesauce (no sugar added)

20140120-140146.jpgOn my trip to the farmer’s market this weekend, I saw a stand with baskets and baskets of gorgeous apples. As I work to eat healthier snacks, I knew that making my homemade applesauce again would give me an easy, healthy, packable snack option. And the best thing about farmer’s markets is that you can talk with the vendors about the practices behind their produce. I was thrilled to find that this seller’s apples are low spray, so much so that I didn’t react to the slice of apple she gave me to taste! Because I react to some spray or pesticide used on apples, I haven’t tasted a fresh apple in about 8 years! (I’ve never had a problem when they’re cooked.) It was truly a glorious moment! Anyway, I’m getting off track! I was able to collect quite a few of those pretty beauties and take them home for some delicious, nutritious applesauce.

It’s important to remember when you’re selecting apples for your applesauce- don’t just get the ones you like to snack on. When I could eat fresh apples, I loved the sweet-tartness of Pink Lady apples. However, when I make applesauce, I want it to be sweeter, and found Pink Lady applesauce wanted sugar. In order to make this as healthy and naturally delicious as possible, select naturally sweeter apples like Fuji or Gala. No added sweetener necessary!

You can peel your apples if you prefer an even, smooth applesauce, or leave the peel on for easier prep, added nutrients, and a little texture. Enjoy this applesauce with yogurt, granola, as a healthy substitute for butter in baking, or packed in small Tupperware bowls for breakfast or snacks throughout the week!

Homemade Applesauce

  • Servings: about 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 c. cubed apples (I used a mixture of Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large pot, add your chopped apples, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the apples have come to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

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When the apples are soft, add the cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir to coat evenly and let the apples cool a bit before blending.

In two batches, add the apple mixture to your blender and blend until you have reached the desired consistency. Add water if desired to reach the thickness that you prefer.

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Serve and enjoy, or store for later deliciousness! Keep in mind, applesauce freezes really well!

How do you like to enjoy applesauce?

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Green’s Gluten-Free Dubbel Dark Ale

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I tried this gluten-free beer, not because it is made without wheat, but because it clearly states on its label that it is free of soy, dairy, nuts, seafood, etc. As a person struggling to avoid a number of commonly found foods, I appreciate a brewery (or any company) that not only puts out a product that I can consume, but also makes sure to clearly state on its label that it is allergen free! Even though this beer is made without gluten and I am a lover of all “normal” beers dark and rich, I found this beer delicious.

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I thoroughly enjoyed finding the roasty chocolate and caramel flavors that I love in dark beer without the bitterness and abrasiveness that can sometimes turn me off. But, because I am no expert in reviewing beer (or anything for that matter), for you to get a full picture of what this beer is like, I will direct you to the following wonderfully worded and highly accurate reviews.

So read the reviews, grab a bottle, and see how much you enjoy this, whether you are required to be GF or not! And let me know what you think!

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How to Cook Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is an inexpensive, delicious, vitamin-filled winter vegetable, best enjoyed roasted (as many other winter veggies). However, this vegetable may seem a bit intimidating to tackle if it is bought whole. But this should never keep you from enjoying its goodness!

Below are step-by-step instructions with pictures to peel, cut, and roast butternut squash. Soon to come, a recipe featuring roasted butternut squash!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Peel your butternut squash with a peeler or paring knife. Cut off the top and bottom and cut the whole squash in half.

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      2. With a metal spoon, scrape out the stringy insides and seeds in the bulb part of the squash.

butternut coll      3. Place the flat side of the squash down on your cutting board and cut slices or “rings” about 3/4″ across. Then cut your slices into square chunks.

Note: I only used half the squash to make about 5 servings. If you are making it for a large group, use the whole squash. Otherwise, lightly spray a baking sheet, lay the squash cubes in a single layer on it, and freeze. Once the cubes are frozen, store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.

20140107-221024.jpg     4. In a large bowl, add the butternut squash cubes, 1 1/2 tbl. olive oil, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper, and 1-2 tbl. brown sugar. Add any additional seasonings you like (fresh thyme, paprika, cinnamon, and sage are all great to try with butternut squash. Not necessarily all at once though!) and stir to coat. Spread in an even layer on a foil covered baking sheet.

20140107-221032.jpg     5. Roast at 425 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Enjoy as a delicious side, and stay tuned for butternut squash featured in curry!butternut r