Category Archives: SeeKarenCook

Easy Weeknight Meals: Roasted Cauliflower with Dates & Capers

cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

When friends and family ask me what I’ve been up to lately, my response is typically “Chopping vegetables.”  Though I love my improved health and reduced symptoms (and weight loss…25 pounds so far) from foregoing gluten, sugar, and dairy, I do admit that cooking almost every meal at home is seriously taking away my free time.  My me time.  So this weekend my hubby grilled a plethora of meats, and I cleaned and prepped an entire refrigerator full fruits and vegetables, in an effort to save time and have (almost-) ready-made meals on hand throughout the week.

Advanced planning aside, though, some nights I dread the clean-up more than the meal preparation itself.  Last night was one of those nights.  Since this is my first week following the autoimmune protocol, I didn’t want to skimp on yummy food just to avoid doing the dishes.

Browsing through my saved recipes on Pinterest, I re-discovered this roasted cauliflower recipe from Running with Tweezers.  Dates?  Olives?  Rosemary?  Yes, yes, and yes.  With recipes like this, how could I miss tomatoes and peppers?  But I wondered if I could be lazy get creative and simplify the recipe.  Remember, the fewer dishes, the better.

easy weeknight cauliflower -- annumography

I plopped my bag of prepped (cleaned and chopped) cauliflower in a shallow pan and tossed it with olive oil.  Right in the pan.  While the cauliflower roasted, I combined more olive oil with chopped dates, fresh rosemary, and…wait for it…capers in a small bowl.  I decided to swap the capers with the olives, because it saved some chopping time.  And I love cauliflower with capers.  Using olive oil in place of butter allowed me to eliminate the need to melt the butter in a separate pan.

After roasting the cauliflower until the edges began to crisp up a yummy golden-brown, I took it out of the oven and pushed it all toward the center of the pan.  Then I dumped the date/caper mixture right on top of that roasted goodness.  Yup, right in the pan AGAIN.  A few quick tosses, and I popped it all back in the oven for another five minutes.

easy weeknight cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

Then the cauliflower went straight from the pan to my plate.  Above is what I’m calling the beauty shot.  You could add salt and pepper to taste before plating, but I found the capers seasoned the dish enough to more than please my palate.  And I’m avoiding pepper in this early phase of AIP.

This dish is definitely a do-over.  One bite hits all the right flavor notes: sweetness from the dates, salt + sour from the capers, and a slight bitterness from the rosemary.  And I especially love that I only had one pan, one bowl, and a silicone spatula to clean at the end of the night.

Sharing this recipe at Sift, Stir, and Savour, Mostly Homemade MondaysEasy Green MamaReal Food Forager, and The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

cauliflower with dates and capers -- annumography

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates & Capers
Adapted from Running with Tweezers

1/2 head of cauliflower florets, cleaned and sliced to approximately 1/2″ thickness
4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
10 pitted dates, roughly chopped
3 T. capers, drained
1 T. fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
sea salt and black pepper, to taste if desired

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.  Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the dates, capers, and rosemary in a small bowl and set aside. Toss the sliced cauliflower florets with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.  Place the pan in the oven and roast the cauliflower for 25 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and push the cauliflower together into the center of the pan.  Pour the date/caper mixture over the cauliflower and toss.  Return the pan to the oven and roast the mixture for another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper if desired.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2 large portion servings (or 4 servings if you put some other vegetables on that plate). 🙂

Goodbye Grain-Free Eggplant (No-)Parmesan, Hello AIP

eggplant no-parmesan on annumography

I know, right?  This grain-free eggplant parmesan recipe from Miss Dot’s is seriously something that needs to be in your gluten-free cooking repertoire.  I skipped the cheese and added sausage, Local Folks Foods pizza sauce, and crispy basil (basil quick-fried in olive oil), and I used olive oil in place of grape seed or coconut oil.  Just so you know, we didn’t miss the dairy AT ALL.  My hubby ate leftover eggplant the next day with his favorite spicy muffalata.  Yum!

It is with some sadness, however, that I post this culinary triumph.  You see, I am weaning myself off a host of foods on which I rely daily.  I’m going to give the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) a try.  The answer to my friends’, family, and co-workers’ “So, what do you eat?” is going to be that much more challenging to address.  And I can’t help thinking that I have to re-learn everything that I’ve been so successful in learning over the last few months.  But I think it will be worth it in the end.

What is AIP?  Check out The Paleo Mom for a great, easy-to-understand resource about AIP (it’s where I started).  I’m a HUGE fan of her blog; an evidence-based approach to the paleo lifestyle and managing autoimmune disorder symptoms, whaaat?  The list below is from her post on AIP. 

      • Eggs (especially the whites)
      • Nuts
      • Seeds (including cocoa, coffee and seed-based spices)
      • Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, cayenne, red pepper, tomatillos, goji berries etc. and spices derived from peppers, including paprika)
      • Potential Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods
      • Fructose consumption in excess of 20g per day
      • Alcohol
      • NSAIDS (like aspirin or ibuprofen)
      • Non-nutritive sweeteners (yes, all of them, even stevia)
      • Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

So this is what I won’t be eating for the next two weeks.  Or month.  Or forever.  I’m not ready to talk in much detail about why I am planning to “go AIP”, but I promise more information on the why’s and my results in future posts.   Why not now?  Because I am still waffling between the Contemplation and Planning stages of change (Transtheoretical Model, or TTM).

 

TTM

(source Wikimedia Commons)

Okay, stay with me.  What you may or may not know is that I have a master’s degree in social work, and this may be the closest I ever get to using it.  But as I have noticed my own transformation from first ignorance, then denial (pre-contemplation), then a desire to learn more and seek advice (contemplation), and now finally beginning to prepare in a VERY PUBLIC way, I recognize that this is a process.  I can’t quit cold turkey and succeed (i.e. know thyself).  And TTM isn’t as linear as it looks.  If I fail to move on to the action stage, it’s more likely because I have slipped back down into contemplation (or…Lord help me…pre-contemplation) stage where I need a little more time/work.  But what better way to avoid slipping than to be accountable through sharing my intent to change and my progress on this blog.

I like this diagram of TTM, because it reminds me of a hill (or mountain) to climb.  And in that image, I’m the little engine that could.  (Taking deep breaths.)

Sharing this post on Allergy Free Wednesday.

 

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancake - annumography

It’s been almost nine weeks, since I embarked on this new lifestyle without grains, sugars, and dairy.  Most days I would tell you that I haven’t missed a thing.  This weekend, though, I wanted doughnuts.

Knowing that giving in to these cravings would only make me sick for the next two days, I resisted the temptation to hop in the car and head to Long’s.  But just barely, until I remembered pinning these German Apple Pancakes from the Civilized Caveman.  (Umm, yeah.  That’s a lot of links in one paragraph…but they are worth it, trust me.)

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes - annumography

And so are these mini German pancakes.  Even though I set off our fire alarm five times while they were baking, because I forgot to place a pan under my muffin tin to catch any potential drips.  No joke.  They were even worth the scrubbing I gave my stove afterward.

Typically I forego all sugars – even the non-refined ones – while I am healing.  For this recipe, however, I decided to leave the two teaspoons of maple syrup in the batter.  Since I planned to bake these in a muffin tin, I doubted that 2 teaspoons divided by 12 would have any negative impacts on my health.  It’s all about moderation, right?  So I eliminated the two tablespoons of honey in the apples.  I instead used a combination of organic Fuji and local, organic Gingergold apples; I found these to be sweet enough for my taste.

To enhance the flavors, I added a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to the batter.  I also reduced the number of eggs to five and used apple cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice.  Why?  Because I only had five eggs and no lemons in the fridge when my craving struck.  You could increase the number of eggs to six and use the juice of half a lemon, but I was happy with my results.  All of that vinegary flavor cooks off, I promise.  And yes, I am headed to the market to restock my fridge today.  Lemons and eggs are ESSENTIAL to my quality of life.

One more tip.  When I added the melted coconut oil to the cold-from-the-fridge almond milk and eggs, the coconut oil hardened into chunks too large to whisk into a smooth consistency.  Never fear.  My immersion blender made quick work of breaking down the solidified coconut oil, and whipped together the other ingredients into a lovely smooth batter.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, I recommended whipping the batter ingredients with a stand mixer or blender.  Or you could allow the almond milk and eggs to come to room temperature before adding the melted coconut oil.

Sharing this recipe on: Nourising Treasures, Easy Green Mama, Real Food Forager, The Gluten-Free Homemaker, Allergy Free Wednesday.

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancake - annumography

Low Carb Mini German Apple Pancakes
Adapted from Civilized Caveman

Coconut oil spray
5 eggs
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
4 T. coconut oil, divided
2 t. vanilla
2 t. Grade B maple syrup
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt
1 1/4 t. nutmeg, divided
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 medium apples, diced

Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.  Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and allow to preheat as well.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with coconut oil spray and set aside.

Whisk eggs, almond milk, 2 T. melted coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup in a large bowl with an immersion blender (see notes above).  In a smaller bowl, combine coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, and 1/4 t. nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and whisk or blend until you have smooth batter.

Melt the remaining 2 T. coconut oil in a medium pan.  Add remaining 1 t. nutmeg, cinnamon, and apple cider vinegar, and cook for 1 minute.  Add the apples and saute until the apples just begin to soften.

Divide the apples evenly among the muffin pan cups.  Top the apples with the egg mixture; the cups will be almost full.  Place the muffin pan on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 425°.  Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 6 servings (2 mini German pancakes per serving)

If you are visiting from Easy Green Mama or The Gluten-Free Homemaker, WELCOME!   I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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Sugar-Free Made Simple: Spiced Pickled Peaches

I’ve said it before, but I love me some pickles.  Unfortunately, most store-bought pickles have some form of sugar in them.  So do most of my homemade pickle recipes.  (I see a whole lotta recipe revamping comin’ on.)

This spiced peach recipe, however, is not one that I’ve made before now.  I found it while searching for new ways to use my fresh chocolate mint.  If you haven’t tried chocolate mint yet, I highly recommend it.  I steep it in warmed coconut milk in the evening, and I also used it to make this gluten-free chocolate mint snack cake.

My inspiration recipe started with canned peaches in syrup.  Looking for a healthier alternative, I chose to use fresh peaches.  Remember – I’m kicking my sugar addiction here.  I also made some substitutions with the spices to use what I had in my pantry.  One of the things I love about pickling is that you can customize it to suit  your taste.  You also know exactly what is going into the food that you eat, when you use whole, fresh ingredients.

Aren’t they gorgeous?  I almost couldn’t wait the 24 hours in the fridge before trying my first bite.  Patience is not my virtue.  But then I decided that eating a too-sour, too-unpickled slice too soon would be a waste of peach.  It’s all about choices.

If you don’t have chocolate mint, you can substitute regular fresh mint.  You could also double, triple, or quadruple the recipe, if you have a bounty of peaches while they are in season.  I think these would also do well, if you wanted to preserve them for a longer period of time through a sterile canning process.  Me?  Remember, I’m not patient.  A quick, refrigerator pickle is more my style.  But let me know how they turn out, and I will envy your canning prowess.  And admire your patience.

Spiced Pickled Peaches
Adapted from Skirt in the Kitchen

3 sprigs fresh chocolate mint
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch fresh ginger, sliced
1 c. rice vinegar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. whole cloves
1/4 t. whole peppercorns
1/8 t. anise seed
1/2 t. sea salt

In the bottom of a pint jar, place the mint, cinnamon stick, and sliced ginger. Set aside.

Place enough water to cover the peaches when they are submerged in a medium saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut a small “X” at the bottom of each peach.  Place a medium-side bowl of ice water near the stove top.  When water is boiling, submerge the peaches for 30-40 seconds.  Remove the peaches from the boiling water and place in the ice water bowl for approximately a minute.  Remove the peaches from the ice water and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.  The skins should easily slip off, but use a paring knife for any spots that don’t easily peel.

Slice the peeled peaches in half and remove the pits.  Fill the prepared jar with the sliced peaches.  If they don’t all fit, set them aside.  You may be able to sneak more in once the liquid is poured over the peaches.

In a small saucepan, bring rice vinegar and the next 8 ingredients to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour the vinegar mixture over peaches in the prepared jar.  If you had any leftover peach slices, try to fit them in now.

Put the lid on the jar and allow the peaches to come to room temperature.  Place the cooled jar in the refrigerator and allow to “pickle” for at least 24 hours.  The peaches will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.

Sugar-Free Made Simple: Crock Pot Bolognese with a Grain-Free Pasta Alternative

Now that I don’t eat a single thing that has more ingredients on the label than I have fingers, I am amazed at how much sugar is in EVERYTHING.  Since I’m not eating sugar, this means that I’ve had to give up more than a few of my favorite convenience foods.  What do I miss the most?  Jarred mushroom marinara sauce.

Weird that I would pick pre-made spaghetti sauce?  Maybe.  But spaghetti with meat sauce was always one of my go-to weeknight comfort food meals.  As the pasta cooked, I would brown ground beef with onion, garlic, and spices and then pour on the sauce.  Dinner in less than 15 minutes.  Even after I stopped eating gluten-laden noodles, I would still top quinoa pasta or spaghetti squash with my meat sauce.

Why, oh why, does marinara sauce need to be loaded with sugar?  The answer: it doesn’t.  Convenience?  This sauce is great for busy weeknights, because I can throw the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and come home to perfectly simmered sauce in the evening.

And don’t let me forget about the pasta.  When I went grain-free, gone too was my quinoa spaghetti.  So you may be asking, “Why is there fettuccine on your plate, Karen?”  It’s actually Shirataki Fettuccine…completely grain-free.  I will admit that, at first, I was scared of these noodles in their water-filled plastic bag.  But now I’m wondering where these babies have been the last year of my life.  Simply drain, cut, season, and heat…done.  I leave mine a little on the long side, because I love that I can twirl pasta with a fork and spoon again.  To me, comfort food is just as much about the experience as it is the food itself.  And I love to play with my food.

I have also topped some coconut bread with this sauce, and my husband put it over salad yesterday.  I may or may not have just eaten this straight out of the bowl with a spoon.  It’s that good.

Crockpot Bolognese
Adapted from Hungry Girl: 300 Under 300

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
1 c. minced yellow onion
1 c. chopped green bell pepper
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. chopped mushrooms
1 28-oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz. can organic, fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz. can organic tomato paste
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1-2 clove garlic, minced
1 T. minced fresh, or 1 t. dried, oregano
1 T. minced fresh, or 1 t. dried, basil
1 T. minced fresh, or 1 t. dried, rosemary
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
sea salt, to taste
coarsely ground pepper, to taste

Crumble the raw ground beef in the bottom of the crock pot and season with salt and pepper.  Top the meat with the vegetables: onion, bell pepper, carrot, and mushroom.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Pour the tomato mixture over the meat and vegetables in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, stirring after at least one hour to further break up the ground beef.

Makes 8-10 servings