Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baking Cookies on Saturday Afternoon

When I first made gluten-free cookies, using a mixture of almond meal and ground flax seeds, a couple of weeks ago, I had a hunch that they would become a favorite... but I did think that they could be improved on... at least a bit!

I love cookies... and I have been missing them since I first gave up gluten several weeks ago.  I need a basic cookie dough that I can rely on to give me a tasty and authentic cookie when I want one!

So, today I made them again, but I used less almond meal, and replaced it with more ground flax... and I baked them for 2 minutes less as well.  They are delicious!

I scooped the dough with a one-tablespoon measure and they made 13 cookies. You could certainly make them smaller if you like.   And of course you could use any flavor baking chips or dried fruit or nuts as well.

The Captain and I both enjoyed a couple of them, still warm from the oven and we agreed this recipe is a keeper!  I love the nutty flavor of the ground flax seeds and the texture is really good.... soft but chewy.  It doesn't need any more tweaking.... hurray!

If you are looking for a good gluten-free and grain-free cookie, I hope you will give these a try!

Gluten-Free Almond Meal and PB Chip Cookies
Makes 13 cookies
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs agave nectar
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix the almond meal, flax, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir in the peanut butter chips.
  3. Combine the egg, vanilla, and agave together in a small bowl.
  4. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until well blended.
  5. Scoop dough by the spoonful and place on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.
  6. Slightly flatten each cookie.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes and allow to rest for a few minutes before removing to baking sheet to finish cooling.
Per serving of 1 cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 93; Protein 3g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 6g; Fibre 1g.

Gluten-free Grain-free and delicious!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes

I am a big fan of quinoa and I love sweet potatoes.... those dark-orange fleshed ones that we like to incorrectly call yams, to distinguish them from the drier, yellow-fleshed variety.  They are so flavorful and I am always looking for new ways to sneak them into my day!

These Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes from Clean Food Creative Fitness make up very quickly and can be enjoyed so many different ways.

When I first made them, I had 2 for lunch on a bed of salad greens and an assortment of chopped veggies... I added a hardboiled egg for more protein and I was really full all afternoon!

I stored the leftovers in the refrigerator and then had 1 of these delicious cakes for breakfast the next morning with a poached egg.  Wonderful!

They are good cold, too.  I packed a lunch for a golf outing and The Captain and I each had one of these cakes on a pile of coleslaw, as part of our noon picnic. So filling and nutritious.

And the last one... enjoyed it cold on a pile of salad greens, topped with crumbled feta cheese.  Mmm.

You can make them sweet or savory.  The original recipe calls for cinnamon, but I knew that wouldn't work for me in the ways that I wanted to use these cakes, so I used a sprinkle of salt, oregano, and thyme in my mixture.  I think that the next time I make them, I will plan on having them for breakfasts, with syrup and yogurt and fruit, so I will add cinnamon to the mix.

Or you could leave out the herbs and spices altogether, and then just season as you eat them up.


Fall Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes
Makes 6 cakes
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup dry cooked in 1 cup water)
  • 3/4 cup baked sweet potato, peel removed
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 Tbs cinammon  *
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup of the cooked quinoa with the flesh of the baked sweet potato and mash together.
  3. Add in your egg white, applesauce, and cinnamon and continue to mix.
  4. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup of quinoa to the mix.
  5. Form into 6 patties and place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and flip the cakes. Then bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Serve and Enjoy!
Per cake.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories ; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 16g; Fat 1g; Fibre 2g.

* If you plan to use these cakes in salads I suggest you use oregano, salt, and thyme instead of cinnamon.  The cinnamon would work well with sweet accompaniements.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Form into 6 patties and then bake.
Really pairs well with an egg.
And I loved it cold with feta cheese on this bed of salad greens.

Monday, September 24, 2012

White Bean and Kale Veggie Sauce

My simple pasta sauce, which is really more of a stew, took on a life of its own!

I started out wanting just to chop some veggies and then stir in some canned tomatoes, to make a quick and simple pasta sauce for our dinner.  It turned out to be so much more and so much better!

When I got out my large skillet and began cleaning and chopping vegetables, I decided to make enough sauce to have a few portions to freeze for future meals. It's always good to have something on hand to thaw for quick dinners or lunches, don't you think?

Then, when I decided to add some torn pieces of kale to the mix, I recalled a really nice kale and white bean soup that one of my Weight Watchers buddies told me about a few months back.  So I got out a can of white kidney beans, rinsed them,  and added them to my sauce pot.  By the time it was all cooked and ready to eat, I realized it was as thick as a stew.... and it was delicious.

I served it over pasta for The Captain, and cooked spaghetti squash for me, but I can easily envision it over cooked quinoa, or rice or even by itself with some cooked chicken or beef strips added to i,or on top of scrambled eggs or omelets.  It would probably even be good cold with cooked and cooled quinoa.


Kale and White Bean Veggie Sauce
Makes 13 half-cup servings
  • 5 cloves garlic, peedled, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 2 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced zucchini
  • 3/4 cup torn kale leaves
  • 1 - 15 oz. can of white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 Tbs Italian herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Coat a large skillet with non-stick spray and place over MEDIUM-HIGH heat.
  2. Add garlic, onions, peppers and cook still translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, zucchini and cook another 8 or 10 minutes till all veggies are cooked through.  You may need to turn heat to MEDIUM during this time so veggies do not burn. Add a bit of water to pan if things are sticking.
  4. Add the kale leaves and beans, and cook a few minutes more till the kale leaves are limp.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes and the Italian herbs,  Bring to a light boil then turn down to simmer and cover.  Meanwhile cook the pasta and the spaghetti squash - this will take about 10 minutes.
  6. Plate the pasta and the spaghetti squash and then top with 2 or 3 ladles of the sauce.  If you like, garnish with a tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese.

Per 1 cup serving, sauce only.
Weight Watchers P+ - 3.  *
Calories 122;  Protein 7g;  Carbohydrate 23g;  Fat 0g; Fibre 6g.

*The amount of beans in a 1 cup serving of this sauce works out to Calories 68, Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 11g; Fat 0g; Fibre 3g and is equal to only 1 P+ value in the N,.I. calculation.  It is up to you as to how you want to count this in your program.

This is such a filling and delicious sauce! 

Cooking the vegetables.

Adding the beans and tomatoes.

Served over spaghettini and topped with freshly grated parmesan.

And over spaghettti squash.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Grain/Gluten Free Wrap with Olive Oil

I revisited this gluten-free grain-free wrap because I really enjoyed it the first time I made it... and because I think the recipe can be improved to bring the calorie count down somewhat.

My most recent version was made with 2 tsp of olive oil instead of 1 Tbs of coconut oil... it improved the flavor significantly, I think, and certainly changed the Nutritional Information as well.  And, it had no negative impact on the texture of the wrap.

I am going to keep playing with this recipe and perhaps try it with egg whites only next time.  I will be sure to keep you posted!

Grain/Gluten Free Wrap, with Olive Oil
Makes 1 serving
  • 3 Tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • dash of salt
  1. In a smallish bowl, mix together the ground flax seeds, baking powder,  and salt.
  2. In a small bowl combine the the olive oil, egg, and water, and blend well.
  3. Coat a flat microwave-safe plate with non-stick spray.
  4. Pour the flaxseed mixture onto the plate and spread thin. It will be about 9 or 10 inches in diameter.
  5. Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes then remove and allow to rest at least 5 minutes. It will firm up a bit as it cools.
  6. Gently remove from the plate and flip over to fill with desired ingredients.

Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+= 7.
Calories 274; Protein 12g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 23g; Fibre 6g.

Before cooking.

What do you think?  Have you tried making your own wraps?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Quinoa and Bean Salad... Easily Portable and Gluten-Free

When were were living on the sailboat, all of our dishes were made of white melamine.  They were very practical and serviceable and I brightened our salon table with a variety of colorful linens.  Now that we are land-based, it has been fun for me to collect a few brightly colored dishes.  I was really pleased when The Captain spotted some cute,  shallow ceramic bowls in an antique store window while we were out for a walk last week, and insisted that we bring them home.

I have been thinking about coming up with something new to serve in them and decided to kill 2 birds with one stone... so to speak!

Things have finally started to feel somewhat normal to me now that we have mostly finished furnishing and  decorating our new apartment.  It seems that we have a couple of days coming up with no planned commitments and so finally have a chance to get out and do some golfing... good thing the hot Summery days are due to last for a few more weeks!

We always take a cooler with lunch and snacks along with us when we head off in the car for the day.  I prefer to know what we are going to eat, rather than be at the mercy of a fast food vendor or a convenience store, or even worse yet... go hungry!

When we were travelling around the Maritimes a few years ago, I got into the habit of making up lunch boxes for us each day... I like to call them bento boxes.    They usually consisted of some grain-based salad mixture, a hard-boiled egg, and some veggie sticks.

So, I decided to make a salad that would look good in my new colorful bowls, and also keep well in the fridge overnight to put in the next day's bento boxes.  Here is what I came up with... a salad that is very easy to throw together, and you likely have the ingredients already on hand.   Use any kind of beans you like.  It is gluten-free, too, which is a nice bonus.

The dressing is a bit different... I mixed ingredients together till I liked the taste!  If you have dijon mustard, use it certainly.

I used chunks of ripe yellow tomatoes, freshly picked from our balcony container garden for garnish, and I toasted and buttered a couple of small slices of dark rye bread for The Captain.


Quinoa and Bean Salad
Makes 6 cups (4 servings of 1-1/2 cups each)
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 medium bell pepper,  your choice of color, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 can dry red kidney beans, rinsed and drained - approx 2 cups
  • 2 mini cucumbers, halved lengthwise and then sliced
  • 2 Tbs cilantro chopped coarsely
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs dark balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Dash of  Splenda or sugar or honey
  1. Cook the quinoa in a small covered saucepan in 1 cup boiling water for 15 minutes and then turn off heat.  Leave for 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff with a fork.  Allow to cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Meanwhile mix the diced bell pepper, sliced green onions, rinsed kidney beans and chopped cilantro in a medium to large bowl.
  3. Add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the oil, vinegars, mustard and sweetener of your choice.  Pour over the salad and chill for at least an hour before serving.
Per serving of 1-1/2 cups.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 239; Protein 11g; Carbhohydrate 38g; Fat 6g; Fibre 9g.

Mix the vegetables together...

and stir in the cooked and cooled quinoa.

The Captain's plate.

Lunch is served on the balcony.
Bon apetit!
With an egg and some veggies for a take-along cooler lunch... don't forget the forks!
Lunch before heading out to play golf.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chocolate Protein Pops

I recently won a set of popsicle makers in a giveaway I entered at a blog I love called spabettie.  I have been waiting for just the right day to try them out... and trying to decide what to make in them.

I finally realized that I can never go wrong with a chocolate pop so I got out some ingredients and went to work.

The first thing I did was to determine how much volume I would need to fill the 6 moulds.  I filled one up with water and poured it into a large measuring cup 6 times, just for accuracy sake.  My 6 new moulds hold 3 cups of liquid.

I like to use protein powder because I feel it offers more nutritional value than just plain cocoa would, and the yogurt gives these a nice creamy texture.

I am so happy our hot weather is holding on into September so we still feel like eating frozen treats!

Here is how I made them up.. you could easily use a different chocolate protein powder, and change the amounts of the ingredients to meet your own needs.

Chocolate Protein Yogurt Pops
Makes 6 (3 cups liquid, approx.)
  • 109g GNC Rebuilt Mass protein powder, chocolate brownie flavor
  • 1 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1-1/8 cups Vanilla Almond Breeze
  1. Mix all the ingredients very will and then pour into moulds and allow to freeze for several hours.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 90; Protein 7g; Carbohydrate 13g;  Fat 1g; Fibre 0g.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Creamy Coconut Chicken

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is called Gourmet Runner.  Vanessa lives in Georgia with her husband and 3 kitties, and among other things, she writes about running, working out, travelling and food.  We seem to have similar tastes so I like to keep an eye on what she is cooking!

Recently she posted a recipe she calls Coconut Chicken Curry and the ingredient list looked very intriguing. I knew with a couple of very minor changes, I could make it work for us, too.  There really is no curry involved so I have dropped that from the title and am just calling it Coconut Chicken.

If you are a fan of coconut milk you will love this recipe... and even if you don't like spinach, don't be deterred... by the time it is all cooked and plated, you will see it, but not taste it!  I think it is just there for the sake of a bit of color and some added nutritional value.

I served it over brown rice,  and The Captain loved it.  He told me while it was cooking that it was making his mouth water... the aroma of the steaming coconut milk, garlic, and ginger coming from the kitchen.  We will definitely be making this again and again.  Thanks, Vanessa!

We used coconut oil in this dish, but if you don't have any, use a vegetable oil of your choosing.  It won't affect the flavor too much, I don't think.  And one more thing, do check out the original recipe that Vanessa posted, to see how she made it up, too.  This recipe can easily be doubled and the leftovers saved.

Coconut Chicken
Makes 2 servings
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 8 oz. raw boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes
  • 200 ml canned low fat coconut milk (1/2 can)
  • 1 Tbs grated ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
  1. Pour the coconut oil into a large skillet and place over MEDIUM heat.
  2. Put the chicken pieces into the heated oil and cook till the edges of the chicken are white and seared, about 3 or 4 minutes.  It will be pink in the middle.
  3. Meanwhile, shake the can of coconut milk very well before opening.  Measure out 200 ml and pour it over the chicken in the pan, then add the grated ginger root, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and brown sugar.  Stir to mix.
  4. Spread the spinach leaves over the top and then cover with a lid.
  5. Simmmer for 30 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.
  6. Cook rice and then plate.  Divide the chicken mixture over each serving of rice.  Serve hot.
Per serving, not including rice.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 207; Protein 19g; Carbohydrate 6g; Fat 12g; Fibre 1g.

Just before covering and leaving to simmer.

After cooking for 30 minutes. 

Served over brown rice and ready to enjoy!  Smells delightful!

If you are wondering what to do with the leftover coconut milk, here are a couple of ideas... we will be having the butterless Butter Chicken ourselves this week!


Monday, September 10, 2012

White Tuna is the Star of This Avocado and Tuna Salad

We always have canned, water-packed chunk tuna in the cupboards, and I often have it on greens for lunch.  But recently we shopped at  Costco, and they had water-packed solid white tuna on sale.  I couldn't resist as I think it is so much nicer than the light, when it takes centre stage on my plate.

I had an avocado that was just ripe and so I created a really nice lunch salad for The Captain and me, and even he approved!

If all came together so quickly and easily.  I didn't use an oily dressing on this salad, only a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice.  There is enough healthy fat in the avocado, and I didn't want to overpower the delicate tuna.  Of course I used some of the fresh cilantro that is growing on our balcony right now.

Avocado and Tuna Salad
Makes 2 servings
  • 4 or 5 cups of mixed lettuces and baby spinach, cut to desired size
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 can tuna, drained (133g solids after draining - approx 4 ounces)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Dashes of salt and pepper
  • Fresh cilantro as desired
  1. Wash and cut the greens and divide between 2 serving plates.
  2. Add half the grated carrot to each plate and toss into the greens.
  3. Break the tuna chunks up with a fork and layer over the greens mixture.
  4. Slice the avocado and place over the tuna.
  5. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the salads.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 190; Protein 17g; Carbohydrate 10g; Fat 12g; Fibre 7g.

Plated and ready!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Gluten Free Almond Meal and Raisin Cookies

Since I gave up gluten I have only eaten one cookie!

It was from a batch made by a lovely gentleman who was giving a lawn bowling lesson to The Captain and me, a few weeks ago.  After the lesson, several of us went into the clubhouse for tea and he offered these lovely looking homemade cookies... I didn't have one because I assumed that they were a traditional, flour-based cookie.  But, later, when he was putting the lid back on the container, he mentioned that they were gluten-free... of course my ears pricked up!

He said that he had simply substitued ground flax seeds for the flour that his recipe called for.  I decided that I must try one... and it was pretty good!  I  have been jonesing for a cookie ever since. 

So I looked in my baking cupboard and found some almond meal that I thought should be used and came up with these.  They are very tasty and certainly met my need for a cookie fix!  Actually, I ate 3 of them, and had to put off lunch for a couple of hours.

The raisins give them just the right amount of sweet.  What I should have done though, is bake them for a minute or 2 less than I did so will give you a range of baking times because your oven may be a bit different from mine.

They are grain-free and that is important to me right now so I think now that I have come up with a basic formula, the possibilities for add-ins and flavor changes will keep me satisfied for a long time to come... other dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips... I am one happy cookie monster now!


Gluten-Free Almond Meal Raisin Cookies
Makes 15 cookies
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 Tbs ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs agave nectar
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix the almond meal, flax, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins.
  3. Combine the egg, vanilla, and agave together in a small bowl.
  4. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until well blended.
  5. Scoop dough by the spoonful and place on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.
  6. Slightly flatten each cookie.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and allow to rest for a few minutes before removing to baking sheet to finish cooling.
Per serving of 1 cookie.
Weight Watchers P+ = 2.
Calories 72; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 4g; Fibre 1g.

But really, who ever eats just one cookie?  Here is the N.I. for the little snack I made of them:

Per serving of 3 cookies.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 217; Protein7g; Carbohydrate 21g; Fat 13g; Fibre 3g.

It is a sticky dough and easy to scoop out of the bowl with a spoon.

Parchment paper is much easier than a greased cookie sheet.

These cookies do not spread so you can crowd them on the sheet a bit if you need.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Celebrate Labor Day with a Special Coffee

Here is a fun little summer drink idea... a special tribute to the last lazy days of Summer as Labor Day rolls around again...

Brew a pot of coffee and fill an ice cube tray with it.

Place the tray in the freezer and leave for several hours or over night, until the coffee cubes are frozen solid.

Then, when you are ready for a lovely cold drink on a hot Summer day, remove several cubes from the tray and place them in a large drinking glass.

Cover them with your favorite milk.  I used unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze, about 8 ounces.

The coffee cubes melt slowly as you sip and give your milk a really nice light coffee flavor.  The longer you can leave it before you start drinking it, the more the ice will melt and the more coffee flavor your drink will have.

And, if you still have some iced coffee cubes left in your glass when the milk is about half gone...

fill up the glass with hot coffee.  The frozen coffee cubes melt quickly into the hot coffee, cooling it, and the Almond Breeze gives it a rich and creamy texture!

Can you think of other ways to enjoy these iced coffee cubes?

Do you think this might work with flavored teas as well?