GF Avocado Rosemary Biscuits

gluten-free avocado biscuits.gluten-free avocado biscuits.
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The best things are born out of necessity. Like this morning when I ran out of fat to bake with ( no butter, coconut butter etc) and decided to use avocado instead. OH. MY. YUMMMMMM!! Yes, all of those exclamation points are necessary.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. & grease 3 cups in muffin tin
1/2 cup GF biscuit mix from Red Mill
1/4 avocado cubed
Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of rosemary, dried or fresh (optional)

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Blend flour mix with avocado and salt until well mixed.
Add egg and milk and blend.
Scoop into muffin tray and bake for 22 mins until golden brown and test knife comes out dry.
Eat them all because they’re delicious. Wait, what?! 😉

Is it okay to hate Quinoa….and chia??

Is quinoa better than brown rice?
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Is quinoa better than brown rice?

Is quinoa better than brown rice?

Is it me or is every other popular blog post recipe about something made out of chia or quinoa? Luckily, I like both… well, quinoa more than chia since I’m allergic to the latter. Still, what if you have never tried either OR if you have and don’t like them? is it even necessary to force yourself to try these so-called super foods? Well, let’s figure out why they’re super, shall we? Foods with that label typically have a higher concentration of antioxidants than on other foods in their category (fruit, vegetable, grain).

Take quinoa for example; can’t you just stick to brown rice and get the same benefits? Well, first: congrats on making the switch from useless, diabetes instigating white rice to it’s browner sister.  Off the top of my head I know that brown rice is high in fiber but this handy infographic from the Prevention.com blog spells out why quinoa wins the competition.  Hint: quinoa has more protein , fiber, and folate per cup than the same amount of brown rice.

Verdict: give quinoa a try. You might not like its nutty flavor as a newbie but you can start by mixing it with your brown rice or buying it that way. You can also cook it in low sodium chicken stock to add more flavor if you like.

The chia seed is not only high in antioxidants but this little Mayan powerhouse is also high in protein, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Wait, didn’t we JUST fall in love with flax seeds for the same reasons? well, chia has higher amounts of the aforementioned nutrients than flax does AND you can eat the seeds whole ( flaxseeds need to be ground up in order to be absorbed). People that like chia usually sprinkle it on other healthy foods or mix it into liquids to make chia pudding as the seeds turn gelatinous when wet.

Basically, the ideas is that chia seeds can make a healthy meal even healthier by boosting its nutrient content but here is the catch I  found: There IS so much as too much of a good thing when it comes to the fat soluble vitamins  (chia has 15 IUs of Vitamin A), allergy potential ( I got a bad rash) and tummy troubles ( chia with a side of bloating, anyone?).  In short, try it sparingly first before throwing yourself wholeheartedly into it. Actually, this is a good rule of thumb for most “fad” foods!

Final Verdict: as our world gets smaller (AND bigger) new foods that make eating more interesting and beneficial will come and go. Your goal is to enjoy your meals while getting the most out of them nutritionally. Foods like quinoa and chia can boost your nutrient level quicker than their more traditional counterparts so explore your options.

High protein muffin: version 3.0 (has dairy)

The latest FabU high protein, low carb muffin.
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The latest FabU high protein, low carb  muffin.

The latest FabU high protein, low carb muffin.

Eureka! This is one version of my muffin adventures that turned out moist and yummy. The catch? This one is NOT dairy free BUT the batter has 30 grams of protein and 20g of carbs. It serves 4 so each has 7.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbohydrates.

FIRST:

*Grease muffin cups with non stick spray & heat oven to 375-400

1/4 cup almond meal
2/3 cup coconut flour
2 whole eggs
2/3 cup cottage cheese (I used full fat)
1 tsp ghee (coconut oil/butter works too)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt and either 1.5 tbsp of coconut sugar for sweet version OR herbs for savory.
Mix together in blender and pour mixture into 4 cups and bake for 20-25 mins.

Cauliflower pizza crust is WOW!!

Gluten free, starch free and low carb
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Gluten free low carb starch free cauliflower pizza!

Gluten free low carb starch free cauliflower pizza!

I just made this and aside from a few hiccups it came out as one of my favorites pizza crusts of ALL TIME. Like most, I’m a big review reader and one very astute reviewer solved the soggy cauliflower issue with the addition of a quarter cup of coconut flour. My mistake? Not greasing the parchment paper and so my pie came out stuck to it. I baked the pie for 15 mins per the recipe and then added pizza sauce, a few sage leaves, cooked ground turkey and then baked it for another 5 mins.
5 out 5 Forks up!
Pros: low carb, low carb and starch free.
Caution: not a dairy free recipe; lots of cheese! (Took 6 Lactaids!!)

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5 Tricks to afford healthy living

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Stay healthy by working out and eating well.

Stay healthy by working out and eating well.

There seems to be a general consensus that a healthy  lifestyle is expensive. Sure, it can be since fresh produce seems to cost more than packaged foods and gym memberships can also be pricey. But what if I told you that it is less expensive than you think if you choose more selectively? Here are some tricks I use to afford being healthy and yes, I know that the opinion of  childless person might not be applicable to everyone and every situation but some might be.

  1. Reform your expense perspective: Gas is expensive (well, by U.S. standards), cable is expensive, your Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts habit is expensive, dining out adds up in more ways than one,  as does going out for drinks regularly or that 2 wine bottles per week to calm your nerves tendency. For me, at least half of those things can be done without or reduced to increase cash flow for other things. For example: I make my own coffee drink so that I can afford organic chicken and I don’t have cable so I can afford life ( cable is expensive!!)
  2. Be more active in your daily life so that the gym is just a bonus: Take more stairs, park farther away, bike, walk your kids to school, make after dinner walks and interactive video games a family time staple. Don’t just rely on getting to the gym to get moving. The local YMCA or recreation centers also have great rates if you want an indoor workout and there are often adult sporting leagues nearby. At the very least, find a couple of DVDs to get an at home workout.
  3. Avoid recipes provided by manufacturers: You’ve seen recipes on the side of containers like Pillsbury crescent rolls and even Velveeta cheese right? Understand that they simply want you to buy and use their products and could care less if they’re good for you. Avoid those products all together and opt for your grandma’s version ( minus the huge amounts of lard etc). Want dinner rolls? then try this recipe or this one;  they’re probably healthier store version AND you can substitute the types of flours you like. I’m not advocating you overindulging in sweets and baked goods (easiest way to pile on the pounds, folks) but I’d rather have you making your own cookies the old fashioned way than from pre-made dough.
  4. Plan ahead for weekly meals and make large batches to eat and freeze: Casseroles, stews and soups, slow cookers and one pot meals are your friends. Think about the flavors you want to taste and build up your “go-to” recipe list. Structure your plate to include protein (beans, fish or meats) , complex carbs (grains and vegetables), and heathy fats (avocados, olive, coconut, grape-seed oils). *Skip cured deli meats like hams etc and buy a rotisserie chicken for quick meals on the go. Personally, I really like knowing where my food comes from so I make 98% of my own meals knowing that I will have leftovers for days.
  5. For most fresh veggies, buy enough for the week and choose frozen for the rest. How many times have you had to toss veggies that went bad before you got to use them? Buy just enough for the meals you plan to make that week and FYI: to get the best vitamin benefit,  try not to chop them up until right before cooking. Canned veggies is the low man on the totem pole of vegetables because they (a)  use tons of salt to preserve them and (b) all of the nutrients can fade over time. If you do hav eto buy them then stick to canned beans.
  6. Learn to fuel yourself proactively instead of eating reactively: Eating for fuel and not just because you’re hungry can make  a huge difference on your energy levels, waistline and pocket book. When you’ve waited too long to eat, then the meal you eventually choose is one that is calorie heavy because your body is ravenous. Piling in so many calories at one time can cause weight gain because your body only processes so many at once and stores the rest for later. Don’t wait for that moment when you just can’t pass up that expensive take out and instead, have a decent sized breakfast and lunch with a couple snacks throughout the day. Fruit is a perfect snack because it comes pre-packaged so I toss some into my carry-all along with a boiled egg or 2 if I know it will be a long day. Oh and for those of who argue that takeout is cheap where you live: consider the one plate you buy probably costs 1/3 to make and has 2x the calories than if you made it yourself.

My version of Thom ka gai

yummy coconut milk and tumeric soup.
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Should I even mention the weather? It’s been C-c-cold EVERYWHERE! That, plus nursing a nasty respiratory infection, means only one thing in Casa Stacey : soup! To be honest, this coconut based soup is what happened after I chopped some root veggies, added come coconut milk and chicken broth and realized I had no chicken. It came out so fragrantly because I really sautéed the half cup of chopped onions and tsp of garlic in a couple tsps olive oil; then added a bay leaf and a tsp of turmeric. Brought it to a boil, let it simmer for 30 mins and then added a handful of chopped kale and voila! I love happy accidents!

Savory Mini Chicken Pies

Gluten free high protein meat pies
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Gluten free high protein meat pies

Gluten free high protein meat pies

These pretty little things were created to deal with my urge for baked carbs, my most troublesome feature of Seasonal Affected Disorder. I try to keep 2 days weekly for mostly cruciferous veggies but the weather is rainy and a bit on the dull side so that craving for something warm and chewy hit hard on one of those days. Usually my forays into baking are to bring you experiments with the recipes of other bloggers. That’s where I learned all about playing with low-carb and gluten-free flours ( NOT the same thing, btw) and getting the types of texture that soothe my chewy carb tooth. I figure now is a good time to start making more of my own recipes since we only have 3 weeks left in 2013, right? These mini meat pies use in a cupcake tin:

1 cup Almond flour

1/2 cup flax meal

2 egg whites

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1tsp thyme

black pepper to taste

2 tbsp COLD butter, coconut oil or ghee

1/4-1/2 lb of chicken

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt together. Crumble fat ( butter, coconut oil, ghee) into dry mixture with your fingers until you have pea and marble sized pieces throughout. Add egg white and mix into dough until sticky and cohesive. Spray cupcake openings with nonstick coconut oil. Press tbsps of dough into 4 cupcake openings then press indentation in middle for meat.

* Prepare chicken last to prevent cross contamination!

Place raw chicken in processor with 1/2 tsp of salt, thyme and black pepper. Pulse until well blended. Scoop into center of dough mixture. Sprinkle each with thyme if you like. Bake for 30 mins.

Review: These came out a bit dry so I will be refining the recipe even more to add moisture. Your comments and tips are welcome!

The 4 Thanksgiving Food Commandments

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ImageBaked, broiled, roasted, toasted, sauteed, brined, pulled, toasted, aged, savory, sweet…the food preparation is afoot…and endless! Do you have your eating plan ready? Hope so! Otherwise you could be getting upwards of 3,000 calories at that dinner table. Thou shalt avoid feeling guilty or bad at all costs. So let’s avoid all of that nonsense with some pre-ememptive damage control, shall we?

Rest:. I know it’s tempting to start the party early the day before but alcohol can interfere with your sleep. A tired brain and body = an increased craving for high fat high sugar foods. 

Quench: Thirst can mimic hunger AND lead to a wicked hangover. Start drinking water well before you start eating and in between cocktails if you’re boozing. 

Green: Eating in courses can be really helpful and starting with the salad course will ensure that you get the vegetables in and don’t gobble  up the rest out of hunger. Think of it as the foundation for the rest of your favorites. 

Be Picky: It’s a just a day so don’t get crazy, folks. You WILL see food again!! That being said, pick the dishes you very rarely get to enjoy as your indulgences and watch the portions. Personally, I think it’s best to pick 1-2 of your most favorite items and  call it a day. 

 

 

 

 

Grain-Free Apple Pie Pancakes Review (from Primally Inspired)

Paleo grain-free pancakes
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ImageOk, forget cool FALL air, it is COLD like Winter in the BK now. Make that, it is colder in my apartment than it is outside because my windows are poorly sealed and my landlord is loathe to turn on the heat for more than 4-5 hours at a time (9pm-2am usually). Cold weather makes the Afro want nothing but chai lattes and chewy carbs so since I’m a low-carber (diabetes occurs in my Jamaican family history) I had to think fast.  The fact is that if I want to stay lean over the Winter, I have to fight this urge to nest and stuff my face full of pancakes, oatmeal and all flour based everything. Enter this grain-free apple pie pancake option by the awesome Kelly at the blog Primally Inspired.  Kelly actually makes things that taste as good as they look! Her recipe caught my eye the very day I brought home that bagful of apples  from Warwick, NY and luckily enough I still had a few left to make this stack of goodness. 

Review: 5 Forks up! I made 5 of these and got through almost 3. They are very filling and protein rich so no need for anything else. The sauce really adds something special. 

Pros: Fragrant, nice mouth feel, very low carb and nutrient dense.

Cons: High in fat because coconut powder soaks up A LOT of liquid so I kept having to re-grease my skillet. Longer time to cook, be patient. 

Greek inspired chicken and tzatziki plate

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ImageI sit before you a satisfied woman because I literally just licked my plate  after eating tonight’s creation you see here.

Recipe

1lb chicken, chopped

1.5 TSP Sea Salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP olive oil,

1.5 TBSP curry powder (optional )

Tzatziki Sauce

6-6 oz Greek yogurt ( I used  Fage 2% because I wanted it creamy)

3 TSP cayenne powder

3 Tsp lemon juice,

4 slices cucumbers, finely chopped

1 pinch dried thyme

1 pinch dried basil

1 pinch sea salt

Mix all garlic, salt, curry and olive oil with chicken and refrigerate to marinate for at least 30 minutes ( I left mine for a few hours).

Cooking

Mix all ingredients for tzatziki sauce together and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees to prepare for pita; warm pita for 5 minutes

Brown chicken in saute pan on medium high heat in 1 tsp of olive oil until golden brown- about 3 minutes per side . Add 2 TBSP water  to pan and lower heat to medium. Cover and set timer for 20 minutes, turn periodically. 

Serve with chopped lettuce to get your greens in too!