Tag Archives: #gluten-free

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

191/365 If this is health food, I'm all in. Crockpot Bolognese on the blog tomorrow #365project #seekarencook

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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.

191/365 If this is health food, I'm all in. Crockpot Bolognese on the blog tomorrow #365project #seekarencook

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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

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Mint Snack Cake (with a secret ingredient)

no-flour and nearly-no-sugar...it was the dark choc chips...I couldn't help myself #seekarencook

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When my friends ask what I’ve been up to lately, my answer is “chopping vegetables”.  Seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, I hinted about a major lifestyle change that I was about to make.  Well, you guys, I have completely changed the way eat.  No, not just the way I eat.  I have completely changed the way I think about food.

Last year, I gave up all gluten and refined sugar after suffering from three major allergic reactions between February and June.  I mean the kind that get you a quick trip to the emergency room.  Diagnosed with systemic candidiasis — that basically means that my body had grown a whole lot more candida albicans than the average person — I started taking medication and gave up the breads, pastas, and sweet treats that I loved.  Turns out candida loves them more.

What I have learned over the last year is that I had been suffering symptoms from candidiasis well before February, but I always attributed my feeling bad to something else.  Within a month of not eating gluten and refined sugar, my weekly migraines stopped.  How do I know it wasn’t something else that changed?  Because I’m a cheater.  I would eat just one little brownie or a teensy slice of bread thinking “what could it hurt?”, and whammo, migraine headache.  No cheats; no headaches.

Yay!  Right?  Well, I never got completely well.  I was better, but I still had a ton of gastrointestinal issues.  And a battle with completely unexplained, stubborn weight gain around my belly.  And a bunch of other symptoms too boring to discuss in this forum.  Have you ever heard people say that they were sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Sounds like a corny bumper sticker, right?  Except that’s me.  I finally reached my breaking point three weeks ago, and I decided that it was time to make a change.

If you are familiar with addiction treatment terminology, then some of the words I’m using may resonate.  That’s because I am addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Why else did I repeatedly eat things that I knew would make me sick later?  In an effort to explain my behavior to friends, I actually caught myself likening it to drinking too much while knowing that there would be a hangover to follow.  Truth is most of us are addicted to flour, sugar, and salt.  Um, the food manufacturers are more than well aware of this.

HungryForChange

I am not at a point where I am well enough to be the teacher about how we are hooked on food that hurts us.  If you want to know more, watch a documentary like Hungry for Change.  There are also tons of books, especially anything by Michael Pollan or Dr. Mark Hyman.  Or just look around at how — please excuse my frankness — fat we all are.  Even many thin people are fat when it comes to body composition.

Have I peaked your interest in my new journey?  Well, how about this: I lost 8 pounds in the last 10 days.  And I ate really awesome food 5-6 times a day.  Grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, avocados, every tree nut and just about every seed you can imagine, fresh herbs, and lovely, beautiful, in-season vegetables. 

Okay, now why in the heck am I showing you a recipe for cake after all of that?  Two reasons.  First, like any addict, I need to be able to manage my environment.  Having this cake, which has no flour, very little sugar, and tons of good-for-me ingredients helps ease my fears about NEVER BEING ABLE TO EAT SWEETS AGAIN.  My approach to wellness is more harm reduction than cold-turkey, for a lot of reasons that I hope to speak more eloquently about when I’m on the other side.  The second reason?  I baked this cake on Sunday.  Since then, I have only eaten a single 2-inch square of it.  Before I made the cake, I promised myself that if I started to obsess about the cake sitting on my kitchen counter, or if I felt out-of-control around it, then I would either throw it away or take it into work for my hungry friends.  But that hasn’t been an issue.  So the biggest reason to share about this cake is that I’m so proud of myself for conquering not only my cravings, but also my fear of them.

182/365 no-flour snack cake using fresh chocolate mint and a secret ingredient #365project #seekarencook

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I got the idea for this recipe while searching for a way to use up the rest of my locally-grown fresh chocolate mint.  Delighted Momma’s Flourless Zucchini Brownies got me straight up off the couch and into the kitchen to try my own version.  I had to find out how a vegetable, almond butter, and a single egg could result in a baked good worth eating.

Were they?  You betcha!  Zucchini is my new favorite secret ingredient.  I think the texture is more cake than brownies, though, so I switched up the name.  Next time, I will experiment with adding either almond or coconut flour for a more brownie-like texture.  If it works, I will definitely share. 

I had the chocolate liquid stevia on hand, but you could use regular or vanilla liquid stevia if you prefer.  Or powdered stevia.  When my system is more calibrated, I may use raw honey.  The point is to make this work for you and your health.  I also used the small amount of gluten-free dark chocolate chips that I still had on hand after my pantry purge.  Next time, I will probably use cacao nibs as a sugar-free alternative.  Also, allow this cake to cool completely, because it makes a huge improvement in the texture and flavor to let this baby come to room temperature.

no-flour and nearly-no-sugar...it was the dark choc chips...I couldn't help myself #seekarencook

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Chocolate Mint Snack Cake

2 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 c. almond butter
1 egg
1 t. liquid chocolate stevia, or sweetener of choice
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
approximately 20 fresh chocolate mint leaves
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9×9-inch baking pan with coconut oil spray and set aside. 

In a food processor, chop the zucchini until finely minced.  Add the next eight ingredients and pulse until well combined.  Remove the bowl from the food processor and stir in dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs. 

Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Slice, serve, and enjoy.

Indi-Mexi-Italian Fusion: Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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I have yet to meet a chutney that I didn’t love, but mint chutney is on my must-have list.  Like ketchup is a must with hot, crispy crinkle-cut French fries.  So one would think that when I had both mint and cilantro in my fridge, whipping up a mint chutney would be a no-brainer.  Right?

Right.  Except that I was craving pesto with lots of olive oil and served up with a gluten-free crostini.  Especially after I found this  pumpkin seed pesto recipe from Flourishing Foodie.  My idea was to replace the fresh sage with cilantro to up the Mexi-flavor.

farmer's cheese crumbles over mint pumpkin seed pesto with sesame blues chips | annumography.wordpress.com

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And then I did what I do and married all of these ethnic flavors into one kick-butt fusion pesto.  I crumbled farmer’s cheese over the top and served it up with Sesame Blues.  You could also stir this pesto into cooked pasta or rice, spread it on a sandwich, whisk it with vinegar for a salad dressing, or mix it into a compound butter.  The fusion flavors just make it that much more versatile.

149/365 Indi-Mexi-Italian fusion: mint pumpkin seed pesto #365project #seekarencook

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Mint Pumpkin Seed Pesto

3/4 c. pepitas
1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
kosher salt, to taste

Toast pepitas in a skillet on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on the edges.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the cilantro, mint, garlic, and ginger into a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped.  Add the pumpkin seeds and process until combined.  Leaving the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  Add lime juice and salt and pulse a few more times to combine.

Store unused pesto in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Makes about 2 cups.

Linking to the awesome parties listed here.

Pantry Raid: Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

148/365 Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce #365project #latergram #nofilter

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I wanted eggplant in garlic sauce.  But I didn’t want to go out, and we can’t get good takeout delivery in my neighborhood.  (Unless you know something I don’t know fellow near-Eastside Indy dwellers.)  I went online for inspiration and found this Sichuan Eggplant from Appetite for China.

Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce | annumography.wordpress.com

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Of course, I didn’t have all of the ingredients in my pantry.  Still not wanting to go out, I would have to figure out some substitutions.  To be honest with you, this is one of my favorite parts of cooking.  Behind the eating.  And making others happy.  And the compliments.

Making substitutions also allowed me to choose gluten-free and refined sugar-free ingredients.  And it gave me some small satisfaction to use what I had on hand.  If you don’t have the ingredients listed below, I encourage you to make your own substitutions.  Let me know how it turns out.

148/365 Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce #365project #latergram #nofilter

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Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Sauce

3/4 lb. eggplant
1 T. chicken stock
1 T. red curry paste
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. cooking rice wine
1 t. honey
1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 t. cornstarch
1 T. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, minced
Thinly sliced green onions, if desired

Peel and seed (if desired) eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes.  (I used a thick-skinned Italian eggplant, and I prefer to remove both the skin and seeds.  For Asian eggplants, I would skip this step and simply cube it.)  Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine chicken stock, red curry paste, tamari sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice wine, honey, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Stir and set aside.

Heat wok or non-stick skillet over high heat, then add oil and swirl the pan so that the bottom and sides are coated. Add cubed eggplant and stir-fry until golden-brown, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.  Pour the sauce mixture in the pan and stir to coat the eggplant.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Serve eggplant over rice and garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Makes 2 servings (or 1 large serving)

Linking to the awesome parties listed here.

Create and Inspire


Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes (Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

139/365 sweet & savory gluten-free cornmeal pancakes #365project #seekarencook

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Do you ever have cravings for a particular food that you haven’t eaten in years?  Just out of nowhere?  That’s me with these cornmeal pancakes.  So when I found this gluten-free recipe for sweet or savory cornmeal pancakes, I was a happy camper.

Except why, I thought, do I have to choose between sweet or savory?  Why not both?  And that, children, is how we got Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes.  You are welcome.

139/365 sweet & savory gluten-free cornmeal pancakes #365project #seekarencook

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Sweet & Savory Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 t. salt
3/4 c. milk, or more as needed
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 c. chopped chives
3 slices crispy bacon, crumbled
2 T. bacon drippings
1 large egg
1 T. walnut oil, or preferred oil

Combine the cornmeal, salt, and 1 1/2 cups boiling water in a bowl. Stir and let sit until the cornmeal absorbs the water and softens, approximately 5 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the egg and set side. Stir cranberries, orange peel, chives, bacon, and drippings into the cornmeal mixture. Add the egg and stir until combined. Slowly add milk, until the batter is the desired consistency — thin enough to spread on the pan, but not too thin.

Put a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add a drizzle of oil to the pan. Spoon out the batter, making any size pancakes you like. Cook until edges and underside are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook on the other side until golden.  Serve with maple syrup.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

123/365 Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream #365project #seekarencook

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I set out to make gluten-free Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies.  But if you follow me on Instagram, you know they didn’t quite turn out the way I expected.  They tasted awesome, but couldn’t be served as brownies.  I started thinking about scooping them out of the pan and serving them with vanilla ice cream, when it occurred to me that I should just use them to make ice cream.

To make this ice cream, you can use your favorite recipe for an 8×8-inch pan of brownies — including a box mix.  Just add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper to give them that Mexican hot chocolate flavor.  Also, if you don’t have Mexican hot chocolate tablets, you can substitute 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

I have the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, so I churn the cream mixture for 20 minutes, add the brownies, chopped chocolate, and pepitas, and continue to churn until I hear a clicking sound (about 10 minutes later).  Your ice cream maker’s instructions may be different, so follow them accordingly.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can pour the cream mixture (with brownies, chocolate, and pepitas added) into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer, stirring every hour until it reaches the desired consistency.

If you are visiting from Anyonita Nibbles Tasty Tuesdays, WELCOME!   I love comments, visitors, and followers.  You can also find me on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

123/365 Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream #365project #seekarencook

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream

1 recipe for an 8X8-inch pan of brownies
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cayenne pepper
2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. raw honey
2 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 Mexican hot chocolate tablet, chopped
1/4 c. pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)

Prepare the brownies, adding the cinnamon and cayenne before baking.  Allow the brownies to completely cool.  Crumble or cut the brownies into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Combine heavy cream, milk, honey, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble, stirring to prevent a skin from forming on the cream mixture.  Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.  Pour the mixture in a covered bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Pour the cream mixture into an ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s directions, adding the brownies, chopped chocolate, and pepitas toward the end.  You can eat right away, if you prefer the soft-serve consistency, or place in a freezer-safe container to enjoy a more firm ice cream later.

SeeKarenFollow: This Week

I’m feeling like a rabbit in Wonderland (I’m late, I’m late!) with this post.  I’ve been catching up with myself after having a week full of down-time from sinus headaches and such.  But sick is boring, so let’s see what else I did on Instagram this week.

It rained.  A lot.  I learned this morning that we will likely break the Indiana state record for wettest April.  Did you read that?  WETTEST APRIL.  Because an ordinary April isn’t wet enough, spring showers and all.  Anyway, this naughty little girl (with inadequately wiped paws from all that mud that comes with the wettest April) jumped up on our bed, “dug” off most of the covers, and dirtied up our white sheets.  Sweet, isn’t she?

116/265 we stayin in bed this morning #365project #dogsofinstagram

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But I can’t stay mad.  Look how sweet both pups are as they keep me company in bed on Friday.  Yes, I said both.  That’s Buddy in the foreground, but look carefully at the reflection in the mirror.

In the meantime, we are still making progress on our guest bedroom re-do.  Yesterday, though, we spent most of the afternoon replacing an old, broken-down door on our old garage.  It was just too pretty to stay indoors.  I got the chance to soak up some much needed sun.  My hubby beams with pride at his new door every time he looks outside.  Everybody wins.

Not so many pics this week, but more down-time means more web time and pins on Pinterest.

  1. I will be using this tutorial for a floating art frame today to frame an odd-sized print for my hubby’s new office.
  2. Still can’t get over the idea of plastering a map on just about anything?  Then these awesome chairs are for you.
  3. Have a fabric pattern that you love and want to show off?  This cloth-covered wreath shows you how.  And the flower tutorials are a bonus!
  4. This chevron canvas tote is inspiring another Sharpie project for me.
  5. How cute is the idea for these paper earrings?  I have so many paper stock scraps just waiting for a project like this.
  6. The best thing about these diagonal color-block t-shirts, except how gorgeous they are, is that you have two new fun shirts when you finish.
  7. Will someone please pour me on of these chipotle whiskey sour?  Not right now, but later today at a more appropriate cocktail hour?
  8. I think this Greek quinoa salad would be great served warm or cold.
  9. When you look at my recipe pins on Pinterest, you can see that I love a good gluten-free dessert idea.  This gluten-free apple tart is going on the list.
  10. I am absolutely intrigued by this Mexican Cacao, Rice & Amaranth drink.  Aren’t you?

Make the most of your Sunday!  I’m on my way to do the same.