Stuffed Acorn Squash

As with so many of us, we used January as a time to reset our healthy eating habits. I feel like we really feel off the rails from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and by December 31, we both felt like rolly pollies! This month we have been focused on clean eating and dry January.

We were doing great with our clean eating until we had to go to New Jersey for my grandmother’s funeral. While it wasn’t unexpected, it wasn’t planned either. Needless to say, we took a detour on clean eating, as we couldn’t not have breakfast at the diner or enjoy a glass of wine in memory of my grandmother.

My grandmother and me at her 90th birthday party

My grandmother was an excellent cook. She wasn’t a fancy cook, but everything she made tasted delicious. Maybe it was because love was always sprinkled in whatever she made. When I was living in New Jersey, we had dinner together weekly, where she would always send me home with a container of lentil or escarole and bean soup. She also made the best cheesecake! It never cracked, just like what you find in the dessert pastry counter at the diner or bakery.

Grandma making homemade ravioli

Acorn squash is another versatile and healthy vegetable that, while is considered a winter vegetable, is grown and eaten year round. The health benefits of acorn squash make it a great clean eating food.

Health Benefits of Acorn Squash

  • Boots immunity with vitamin C
  • Help keep you eyes and skin healthy with vitamin A
  • A single serving contains 9g of fiber – great for keeping blood sugar levels regulated
  • Regulates blood pressure with high levels of potassium
  • Keeps your bones strong with a wide variety of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron

This stuffed acorn squash recipe is delicious. I use two ground meats for additional flavor – beef and pork. If you don’t eat beef, blend turkey and pork; or just use one type of ground meat. The acorn squash may take up to 40 minutes to roast. I like to start with the squash face down. I check the squash at 15 minutes, where I flip it over and let it continue roasting for another 15-20 minutes.

This is a good weeknight dinner, as it doesn’t take long to cook and assemble. While the acorn squash is roasting, you can prepare the stuffing. You may have additional stuffing left over, which makes for an egg-free, high protein breakfast or lunch.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

2 acorn squashes, cut in half and seeds removed

¼ cup of melted coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 shallots, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, finely minced

1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary, finely minced

1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef

2 cups of kale, coarsely chopped

Kosher or Sea salt (to taste)

Ground black pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To prepare the acorn squash, cut each squash in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard.
  3. If need, melt the hardened coconut oil. You will need about ¼ cup of melted coconut oil. I usually just place my glass jar (with the lid removed) in the microwave in 30 second increments until the oil has softened and become liquid. You could also scoop out the hardened oil and place in a separate glass container to microwave and soften.
  4. Using a pastry brush, oil the inside of the squash. Make sure to get inside the middle, where the seeds have been removed. Generously salt and pepper the squash halves. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with alumni foil or parchment paper. Place each squash half cut side down on the baking sheet. 
  6. Roast for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip the squash so the cut side is facing up. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the insides are soft. The squash will be done with the inside is soft and can easily be scooped out. 
  7. While the squash is baking, prepare the stuffing. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and ground pork. I used my hands to combine the meats, like you do when preparing meatloaf. 
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet. Add the minced shallots and garlic and let cook until the shallot is translucent and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  9. Add the ground meat to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, or until the majority of the meat is no longer pink. Add the rosemary and thyme. Stir to combine.
  10. Let cook for another 5 minutes. Add the kale and stir to combine.
  11. Let cook an additional 5-10 minutes, until the kale is wilted and the meat is fully cooked.
  12. Once the acorn squash is cool enough to handle, gently scoop out the inside of each half and place into a large mixing bowl. The skins will become very fragile as you remove the inside, so be careful not to tear the skin. 
  13. Add the cooked meat to the squash and stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  14. Scoop the squash and meat mixture back into each half of the squash. You may have leftover meat; if so, this can be stored and used in stuffed peppers or as a healthy egg-free breakfast.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

New Year’s Eve Pasta Aioli

Happy New Year’s Eve! I can’t believe that the last day of the year is here. Where did 2018 go? It’s been a pretty amazing year for me – one of the best, in fact. I launched this blog, saw my favorite Broadway play, Les Miserables, when it came to Dallas, took Brad to New York City and showed him a little piece of my old life, and traveled to see friends and family in New Jersey, Atlanta, and Phoenix.

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We are celebrating tonight with a small group of friends but calling it an “early bird special” because we will be home by 10 pm. By the way, did you know that the TV stations don’t delay the ball drop?! My first NYE in Dallas I was all prepared to watch the ball drop at midnight and it dropped at 11 pm! Now, I DVR the broadcast so I can watch the ball drop at midnight.

This past week I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming year and all that it has in store for us (I’ll post more on that as the exciting events unfold). I’m also thinking about some things I want to improve upon to help make 2019 even better. For the first time ever, I put pen to paper and wrote down my vision for the new year. I spent about an hour really thinking about each area of my life, including my career, personal growth, spiritual health, finances, and home, and what small steps I can do to make positive improvements in my life. I’m really blessed and have a pretty amazing life. It wasn’t always easy, as I have lots of setbacks, but coming out of the other side, I can really appreciate how fortunate I really am. I have an amazing partner for life, supportive family and friends, and this blog that was a dream for so long is now a reality.

Resolutions are easy things to make and hard things to keep. I didn’t want to create a long list of things to change about myself only to give up by the end of January. That’s why I took a different approach and wrote down my vision for the year. And the motivation is a bit different for this year, as if I want certain things to happen, I have to put in the hard work. What is your vision for the new year?

If you are looking for a delicious and easy meal this New Year’s Eve, try my Pasta Aioli. It’s super easy and only requires a few ingredients. It doesn’t take long to cook and won’t keep you in the kitchen while your friends and loved ones party it up in the other room.

Pasta Aioli

PastaAioli_FAF

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

1 package of gluten-free spaghetti or linguini
8-10 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 bunch of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
¼ – ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you like things hot!)

Directions

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. For additional flavor, add 1 tablespoon of Kosher or sea salt to the pot prior to boiling.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slowly heat the olive oil in a medium to large sauté pan. There should be about 1/8” of oil in the pan, as this is your sauce so you want to have a good amount of olive oil in the pan.
  3. To test the heat of the oil, add one or two little pieces of minced garlic. When dropped into the oil, you should see a few small bubbles around the garlic. You don’t want the oil to be too hot or else you will burn the garlic. If the garlic immediately begins to fry, your oil is too hot. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Turn the heat on low and re-test the garlic to make sure the temperature has come down.
  4. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta. Bring back to a boil and cook according to the package instructions. Typically, gluten-free pasta cooks between 7 and 10 minutes.
  5. Once the oil is at the right temperature and your pasta is cooking, add the minced garlic. Let the garlic cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well and turn the heat to low. Keep an eye on the garlic and if it starts to look overcooked or starts to brown, turn off the heat.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the stove, but don’t drain the pasta. The little bit of pasta water will be good for the sauce. Using tongs or a pasta fork, remove the pasta from the water and transfer to the hot oil and garlic sauce. Stir to coat the pasta well.
  7. Transfer to serving plates and enjoy with your favorite red wine.

Red Curry Rice Bowl

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe with you. Things have been a bit crazy as the year winds down – my parents relocated to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, my Dad (finally) retired, and they celebrated 50 years of marriage. And, it was Thanksgiving, and that involved lots of eating with friends and family.

Now, I’m trying to squeeze so much into the remaining days of the year. Where did this year go? It’s been a pretty great year and I am anticipating 2019 is going to be a really exciting year for Brad and I. And I promise to keep you up to date on all our future developments.

This time of year is full of rich and decedent meals and lots and lots of sweets. It all tastes delicious, but sometimes you feel like you need a healthy meal to feel a little better. This Red Curry Rice Bowl is full of yummy deliciousness with butternut squash, broccoli, zucchini, and grilled chicken. Topped with a red curry sauce, this meal is great for dinner. You could also pre-cook each of these on Sunday and then assemble the bowl during the week for a quick weeknight dinner.

This dish has a lot of steps, so make sure you have about an hour to prepare it. It’s not complicated, it just there are lots of ingredients that make up this rice bowl. Start by making the chicken marinade, so it can marinate for about an hour, which is about how long you will need to cook everything that’s included in the bowl. You can then cook the rice and move onto the three vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, and butternut squash). Lastly, grill the chicken and prepare the red curry sauce. The red curry sauce should be the last thing to prepare as the sauce is best served warm.

Note, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can eliminate the chicken and have this as a brown rice veggie bowl.

Red Curry Rice Bowl

IMG_0965Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt or Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

Rice Bowl Filling
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 head of broccoli (or one 16-oz bag of broccoli florets), steamed
1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
2 c. cooked brown rice
2 c. chicken stock
4 tablespoons coconut oil

Red Curry Sauce
1 cup of full-fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons red curry sauce
2 teaspoons peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. To prepare the marinade, combine the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, dried oregano, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  3. Transfer the marinade to a Ziplock bag or another airtight container.
  4. Add the chicken to the Ziplock bag. Close and toss to generously coat the chicken.
  5. Let marinate for one hour. After about 30 minutes, toss the bag to mix the marinate and recoat the chicken.
  6. As the chicken is marinating, begin cooking the rice. If using a rice cooker, follow the rice cooker’s instructions. My rice cooker is a one-to-one ratio; for cooking two cups of rice, I add two cups of brown rice to the rice cooker and two cups of chicken stock or water. If cooking on the stove, add two cups of rice with two cups of chicken stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook about 30 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the rice so it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the saucepan. If you find the liquid is reducing faster than the rice is cooking, add a bit more stock to the pan and turn the heat down to low.
  7. If you are using a whole butternut squash (versus buying pre-cut squash), use a fork and poke holes around the squash. Place the squash in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and use a knife to remove the skin, top and bottom of the squash. By microwaving the squash first, it softens the skin and makes it much easier to peel the squash.
  8. Cut the squash into cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
  9. Toss the cubed butternut squash with the coconut oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste (about 2 teaspoons of each spice).
  10. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the 400°oven for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, toss the squash and rotate the baking pan for even roasting.
  11. While the squash is roasting, prepare the zucchini. Slice the zucchini into slim round pieces. Using a medium sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan. Once heated, add the sliced zucchini to the pan. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  12. If not using pre-cut broccoli, roughly chop the broccoli head. If steaming on the stovetop, add about an inch of water to a sauté pan. Let come to a boil and add the broccoli. Cover and let steam about 12 minutes. If using a vegetable steamer, cook according to the steamer’s directions.
  13. Once all of the vegetables are cooked, the chicken can be grilled. I prefer to grill chicken using a cast iron grill pan but a regular sauté pan or frying pan works just a well. Heat the pan over medium heat and add the cubed chicken pieces. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°.
  14. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and cube the chicken into bite-size pieces.
  15. Lastly, prepare the red curry sauce. In a medium sauté pan, combine the full-fat coconut milk, red curry sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, and minced garlic. Stir consistently until the sugar melts and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
  16. To assemble the bowls, add the cooked brown rice to a bowl. Going around the bowl in a circle, add the chicken, butternut squash, broccoli, and zucchini. Drizzle the red curry sauce over the top and garnish with crushed cashews, if desired.

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s a day to reflect on the past year over a delicious meal with friends and family. But for those of us with food allergies or sensitivities, this food-filled holiday can be anything but enjoyable. Don’t worry – I have you covered this year!

My mom loves Thanksgiving – it’s her favorite holiday. She has a Thanksgiving folder with all her recipes, notes, and menus from years past. Most years, she hosts and for a few days leading up to Turkey Day, she is busy prepping and cooking. Food is overflowing from the kitchen and you won’t be surprised to find non-perishable foods in the laundry room, waiting to be brought into the kitchen. The dining room table is set with her fine china and crystal. Cooking duties and chores are divided up between us and we all pitch in to help.

The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, my mom made me my own Thanksgiving folder. She made copies of all of her recipes and taught me how to plan for cooking such a large meal with so many different dishes. We made a checklist and assigned duties to everyone. Luckily, she was there to help, guiding me along the way.

RecipeFolder

The first year I was diagnosed with food allergies, I didn’t think we would be able to cook our traditional dinner. Gravy – made with flour; mashed potatoes – has milk and butter; stuffing – made with a loaf of bread; dessert – forget about it! I thought my plate was going to be filled with turkey with no gravy, sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Luckily, I have an amazing mother who took her recipes and converted everything she could so I wouldn’t be left out. There are still some dishes that I can’t eat, like green bean casserole, but I don’t mind because I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Some years we serve soup, other years we omit that course so we have more room to enjoy the main event. Every year we start out with Pistachio Cheese Crisps. OMG, they are so delish!

Planning ahead is the key to a successful Thanksgiving. A few weeks leading up to the big day, plan your menu. Gather all of your recipes; print them out and put them in a folder. If you are converting family favorites to be gluten, dairy, and egg-free, make notes on what changes need to be made. You can swap dairy milk with whole-fat coconut milk, substitute butter with Earth Balance buttery spread (remember, if you are avoiding soy, Earth Balance has a soy-free spread), and replace wheat bread for cornbread.

After reviewing your recipes, determine what can be made ahead of time. I like check lists, so I make a big list, writing out everything that needs to be accomplished, who is responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed by. Many of the foods can be baked at the same time, since the baking temperature is the same.

The week of Thanksgiving is busy and fun. We go grocery shopping on Monday or Tuesday and start cooking on Wednesday. Since we do a lot of prepping and cooking on Wednesday, we have time to enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ease into cooking on Thursday. We typically eat around 3pm, so our turkey goes on the grill around 10 am. By grilling the turkey, our oven is free for baking everything else. The kitchen is a beehive of activity – we are all cooking and the dogs are underfoot, waiting for something to drop their way.

The following menu is delicious and I promise you won’t be able to tell there isn’t any gluten, dairy, or eggs anywhere to be found. Just follow the links to the individual recipes but scroll down for the main event – the turkey and gravy!

Menu

Appetizer:
Pistachio Cheese Crisps

Main Course:
Turkey with Gluten-Free Beer Basting and Giblet Gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Steamed Broccoli with Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice and Olive Oil

Dessert:
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Thanksgiving2018_Gravy

Grilled Turkey with Giblet Gravy

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: approximately 20 minutes per pound
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

1 (approx. 12-lb) turkey
1 celery stalk, with leaves
12 ounces of gluten-free beer
8 tablespoons of honey
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small aluminum pan filled with water
1 medium aluminum pan for under the turkey to catch the drippings for gravy
Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

Directions for Cooking the Turkey:

  1. If using a frozen turkey, follow the package directions to defrost the turkey. A good rule of thumb is to thaw at a rate of 1 day per 4 lbs. of turkey. A 12-lb. turkey will take about three days to defrost.
  2. One day prior to cooking the turkey, remove the innards and giblets to make homemade stock (recipe follows).
  3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 350 degrees. Place the medium aluminum pan under the grate in the center of the grill and place the small aluminum pan with water on the grate.
  4. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and wash under cold water. Pat dry. Do not let the bird rest at room temperature for an extended period of time.
  5. To make the basting, combine the gluten-free beer and honey in a tall glass. Mix well to combine. Place the celery stalk leaves side down, into the basting mixture. You will use this to baste the turkey as it cooks.
  6. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the cornbread stuffing. Use kitchen twine to close the cavity of the turkey.
  7. Lightly coat the bird with a thin layer of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper the turkey.
  8. Place the turkey on a roasting rack and transfer to the grill. Close the grill and let the temperature rise back to 350 degrees. Roast for 15 minutes and then baste the bird.
  9. Baste the turkey in 15-minute increments, using the celery as a basting brush.
  10. Keep an eye on the aluminum pan with water. Refill if needed. The water helps to keep the turkey moist.
  11. Cooking times will vary, but it usually takes between 15-20 minutes per pound. A 12-lb turkey will take approximately 3.5 hours to cook. The turkey will be cooked when a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
  12. Once the turkey has cooked, remove the bird from the grill. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.
  13. Carve and serve with the giblet gravy (recipe below).

Giblet Gravy

Author: Originally printed in the November 20, 1980, edition of the Contra Costa Times; modified to remove gluten and dairy.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3-4 ½ hours
Resting Time: 24 hours
Serves: 6-8 people

Step 1 – Make the Stock 1-2 Days Before Thanksgiving

Ingredients:

1 celery stalk
1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Kosher salt to taste
The innards that come with the turkey, except the liver

Directions:

  1. At least 24 hours before roasting the turkey, make the broth for the gravy.
  2. Coarsely chop the celery, onion, and peeled carrot.
  3. Remove the giblets that come with the turkey. Discard the liver and place the remaining giblets in a stock pan or deep sauce pan. Add the celery, onion, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns, and Kosher salt.
  4. Add water to the pan, covering the entire contents of the pot. The water should fill the pot but not be too full that it will overflow once the liquid comes to a boil.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Let simmer 3-4 hours.
  7. Transfer to an air tight container and cool overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2 – Make the Gravy When The Turkey Is Cooked

Ingredients:
2-4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/4 – ½ cup of full-fat coconut milk
Turkey stock

  1. Remove the turkey stock from the refrigerator.
  2. When the turkey has finished roasting, pour the drippings into a fat separator. Once separated, pour the drippings into a sauce pan over low to medium heat.
  3. Add one tablespoon of corn starch to the sauce pan. Whisk consistently to incorporate the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Slowly pour about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk to the gravy. Continue to whisk.
  5. Slowly pour about ¼ cup of broth into the gravy mixture. Continue to whisk.
  6. Continue to whisk and add the corn starch and coconut milk until the gravy thickens. If the gravy becomes too thick, add more broth. If it needs to be thicker, add more corn starch and coconut milk. Remember to continually whisk the gravy so it doesn’tburn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  7. When the gravy has thickened to your likening, transfer to a gravy boat and serve. Pro tip – add hot water to the gravy boat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Pour out the water and add the gravy. The boat will be warm and the gravy will stay warmer a little longer than adding to a cold gravy boat.

Roast Chicken on A Rainy Sunday

Today is the first day in Dallas it actually feels like Fall! I don’t think the cooler temps are going to stick around, but I’ll take it, even if it’s just for a day. It’s been overcast and raining all weekend so we are spending a quiet day at home watching football…and catching up on blogging.

A rainy Sunday is the perfect day to roast a chicken. It can cook slowly in the oven and fill the house with delicious aromas. Served with mashed potatoes and green beans, it’s the perfect Sunday dinner!

When I buy chicken, I try and buy organic chicken. I know it’s more expensive, but as I’ve educated myself on non-organic vs. organic, I am learning there really are benefits to eating organic.

How Foods Are Labeled “Organic”

For foods to be labeled “organic”, it must adhere to the guidelines outlined by the USDA. These guidelines indicate how fruits and grains must be grown and how livestock must be raised. In order for livestock to be labeled organic, it must meet the following guidelines:

  • Live in healthy conditions with access to the outdoors
  • 30% of the feeding must be done in a pasture during grazing season
  • Be fed an organic diet that doesn’t include antibiotics or growth hormones
  • Live on a farm that doesn’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides

Reading Organic Food Labels

Food labeling can be very confusing. Something labeled “all natural” or “free range” doesn’t mean that it is also organic. Anything labeled as “all natural” means there are no added sugars, preservatives, or flavors. Eggs or chicken’s labeled “free range” or “hormone-free” doesn’t guarantee the farmer followed all guidelines for organic farming. If a product has the USDA Organic label, the food manufacturer or farmer has adhered to all of the guileless and have been certified by the USDA.

USDAorganicThe USDA Organic seal can be included on labels if manufactures can verify the food item is:

  • 100% Organic – can only be used when fruits, vegetables, eggs, or meats are grown or raised using all organic means. Multi-ingredient foods may be labeled 100% organic if all parts are 100% organic.
  • Organic – can only be used when multi-ingredient foods are 95% organic. The non-organic items must be grown or provided by manufacturers that are approved by the USDA.

The following can’t use the USDA Organic seal, even though parts of the product contains organic items:

  • Made With Organic – this verbiage indicates that one or more of the items are organic. For example, some cereals use organic oats along with other non-organic ingredients.
  • Organic Ingredients – usually on multi-ingredient items, this indicates that 70% or less of the items are organic. The label will indicate which items are organic.

Non-GMO Project Verified – What Exactly Is This?

NonGMOThe other label found on many foods in the all-natural aisles of the grocery store is the Non-GMO Project. Founded in 2010, this non-profit organization works to verify non-GMO foods and products.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are basically foods created in a laboratory. These foods don’t naturally occur in nature and have been modified to withstand things such as frost or pesticides. For example, the Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) enzyme in Granny Smith and Golden Delicious Apples causes them to brown and scientists have figured out a way to remove this enzyme, thus causing the apples not to turn brown.

Below is a list of the most common GMO foods – I was shocked to learn that zucchini and yellow squash is on the list!

  • Aspartame
  • Alfalfa
  • Canola / Canola Oil
  • Corn
  • Papaya
  • Soy
  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash
  • Sugar Beets
  • Diary / Milk

I know many times is easier and cheaper to just buy “regular” chicken, but being aware of what goes into that chicken is important. For those of us with inflammation issues, eating more organic or natural foods can help keep inflammation away and helps to keeps us healthier in general.

Sunday Roast Chicken

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour + 10 minutes to rest
Serves: 4

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_75bIngredients
1 whole roasting chicken
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, halved and juiced
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Kitchen Twine (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the whole chicken from the packaging. Some whole chickens include the liver and neck in a separate pouch inside the cavity; remove this and discard if you don’t want to make broth. If you want to make broth, reserve this for later use.
  3. Wash the chicken, making sure to rinse the inside cavity. Pat dry with paper towel.
  4. In a roasting pan, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil on the bottom of the pan. You don’t want standing oil, but enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Peel 10 cloves of garlic.
  6. Juice one lemon. Keep the lemon halves, as you will put them in the cavity of the chicken.
  7. Wash the bunch of thyme. Take half of the thyme and chop finely. Reserve the other half of the bunch of thyme.
  8. Place the chicken in the pan, breast side up. Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity.
  9. Using a knife, gently lift the skin off the chicken. You don’t want to fully detatch the skin, but find little pockets that you can insert the garlic cloves into. Scatter the garlic cloves throughout the chicken and if you have any left over, place inside the cavity.
  10. Using a basting brush, brush olive oil over the entire chicken.
  11. Lightly pour the juice of one lemon over the chicken.
  12. Sprinkle the minced thyme over the chicken. Salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemons, remaining thyme, and garlic. If you have kitchen twine, tie the chicken legs together.
  14. Place the chicken in the oven and let roast 30 minutes. After roasting for 30 minutes, use a pastry brush or baster to baste the chicken with the juices from the pan. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
  15. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
  16. You can put the cooked garlic in a bowl and use it as a garnish for the chicken or use it in your mashed potatoes.

Quick Pasta Pomodoro

When I was single, cooking was something I didn’t do on a daily basis. Cooking for one is really hard. I would cook a “real meal” on Sunday, along with a pan of baked chicken and vegetables to eat during the week. The problem is that I’m kind of finicky about leftovers and don’t like to eat anything more than two days old. So, by Wednesday, I would’t eat any chicken that was left…but Lulu benefitted by getting shredded chicken mixed in with her kibble.

One dish that is eat to prepare for one is pasta. Garlic and oil is super easy, since it’s just olive oil and minced garlic; you can also add capers to add a bit more flavor. When I would make my traditional tomato sauce, I always ended up with a lot of leftover sauce. I would freeze the remaining sauce, but most of the time I would forget it was there and didn’t have the patience to let it defrost. To solve that problem, I came up with a simple pomordoro sauce that comes together in the same amount of time it takes for the pot of water to boil and the pasta to cook. I also always have the ingredients on hand, so I could throw it together whenever I needed.

We have had a pretty low key weekend. I got caught up with work on Friday, so I didn’t get a chance to run to the grocery store, so our refrigerator was looking pretty bare by Saturday night. I made Brad a frittata to use the bell peppers but since I can’t eat eggs, I had to figure out what to make for myself. So, I pulled out my tried-and-true one person meal of pasta pomordoro. It was perfect for a rainy Saturday night at home.

Quick Pasta Pomodoro

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time:
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients
IMG_7203
1-2 cups of gluten-free pasta
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon Daiya mozzarella shreds

Directions

  1. Using a 2-quart saucepan, fill with water and bring to a boil. For additional flavor, add 1 tablespoon of Kosher or sea salt to the pot prior to boiling.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauté pan. Add the minced garlic. Make sure not to over heat the olive oil so the garlic doesn’t immediately burn when added to the sauté pan. Let the garlic cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the can of diced tomatoes and all of the spices. Stir well and let simmer.
  3. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta. Bring back to a boil and cook according to the package instructions. Typically, gluten-free pasta cooks between 7 and 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and add back to the saucepan. Pour the Pomodoro sauce over the pasta and mix well.
  5. Spoon into a bowl and if desired, sprinkle dairy-free mozzarella on top of the pasta.

Pizza Party!

What a crazy two weeks it has been! Time management is one of my stronger skills but trying to balance working, blogging, and entertaining my parents who were visiting for 10 days was definitely a challenge! Luckily, I’m finally caught up and getting back into my routine.

If you haven’t heard, we are having a bit of a heat wave here in Dallas. Last week, my car temperature got up to 116°! We have had over 10 days in a row of 100°+ heat. You know when you open your oven and get a burst of hot air? That’s exactly what it feels like when you step outside. So, we decided to cook inside a few days last week to try and stay out of the heat. A fun family-friendly activity is making homemade pizza. My parents have their own “pizza night” on Friday, so we decided to have one during their visit.

When I was diagnosed with my food sensitivities, I had to give up or make adjustments to a lot of my favorite foods. One food that I thought I had to say good-bye to was pizza – it has all three of my allergens. However, I have found that while I can’t go out for pizza or order it for delivery, I can make it in the comfort of my own home. It does take a little bit of prep but making your own pizza is fun and can be creative.

I have found the best pizza dough is Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix. I can usually find it in the gluten-free aisle at my local grocery store, but you can also order it on Amazon. It is easy to prepare, but just remember that the dough needs to rise for at least 20 minutes. I usually make the dough and then prep all the ingredients while the dough is rising.

The fun part about a homemade pizza party is getting to pick your own toppings. I love lots of veggies on my pizza and Brad likes a meat-lovers style pizza. My parents like fresh mozzarella and basil. We each got to make our own pizza and enjoy it just the way we like it.

While I don’t ever use jar tomato or pasta sauce for my pasta, it does work really well for pizza. Just make sure to read the ingredients! Like so many canned and packaged foods, there are lots of ingredients that don’t belong in it – like added sugar and soybean oil.

The size of the individual pizza crust makes about six medium slices so you will have enough for leftovers. Anyone else like cold pizza for breakfast?

Pizza Party!

Ingredients:

APC_00221 package of Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix (note: one package makes two individual pizza crusts)
3 teaspoons of Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer plus 4 tablespoons of warm water (the equivalent of two eggs)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1-1/2 cups of warm water + one package of yeast (included in the pizza crust mix)
1 8-oz package of Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce. I personally like Muir Glen Organic Pasta Sauce with Italian seasonings.

Toppings:

Whatever you want! For this particular night, I loaded up my pizza with fresh basil from my herb garden, olives, turkey pepperoni, artichoke hearts, and fresh tomatoes. I also put my cheese on last for optimal melting.

Directions (based on the pizza crust package):

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the warm water and the package of yeast that is included in the pizza crust. Let rest for five minutes.
  2. In small bowl, combine the 3 teaspoons of the egg replacer with the 4 tablespoons of warm water. Mix well to dissolve any clumps.
  3. In the large bowl or stand mixer, add the olive oil and the egg replacer to the yeast. Add the pizza dough and mix well. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook and mix on medium for about 3 minutes. If you are making two pizza crusts, divide the dough in half and place in two separate bowls. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 425°.
  5. As the dough is rising, assemble your desired ingredients.
  6. Use either two 12-inch baking sheets or one 16-inch baking sheet. While the package says to put the dough on the baking sheet and use a piece of plastic wrap and a rolling pin to spread the dough, I find it easier to use my fingers. The dough will be sticky, so I dust my hands in gluten-free flour and work the dough to the edges of the baking sheet.
  7. Bake the dough (with no toppings) for about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and add all of your yummy toppings and cheese. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. I usually set the oven timer for 15 minutes and then bake in 2-3 minute increments after to make sure nothing burns. The Daiya cheese can take longer to melt than dairy cheese but you don’t want to burn the crust. If you are enjoying your pizza party with someone who can eat dairy cheese, your pizza will take longer because of the way the cheeses melt differently.
  8. Once the cheese is melted to your satisfaction, remove from the oven and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. Slice the pizza and enjoy with a glass of wine or gluten-free beer.

 

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

It’s no secret that I love tacos. I could really eat them every day. Mexican food is one of the easiest cuisines for me to eat because so much of it is based on corn, not flour. The tortilla chips are corn and I order corn tortillas instead of flour. And, it’s easy to have the restaurant hold the cheese and sour cream.

I have two favorite taco places in Dallas – Velvet Taco and Gloria’s Latin Cuisine. We have two Velvet Taco’s close to us, which is great because it’s always packed. Velvet Taco serves delicious street tacos. We have a tendency to over-order and then feel obligated to eat them all because they are just so yummy!

Velvet_Taco_Dallas

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine is within walking distance to our house, and when it’s not a super hot summer night here in Dallas, we walk there for dinner. There are a lot of options on the menu for those of us with food sensitivities. I alternate between fish, tacos, the ceviche trio, or sharing fajitas with Brad. And the nice walk home helps us digest our meal.

Glorias_Latin_Cuisine_Greenville_Dallas

When not fried, fish tacos can be a light and tasty meal. I like fish in general, and a fish taco is a nice alternative to the traditional chicken or steak taco. I was in Trader Joe’s last week and saw a jar of mango salsa on the shelf and the light bulb went off – I need to make fish taco with mango salsa! You can use any white, flaky fish and I selected tilapia. It cooks ups quickly and not a lot of prep works is required to flavor the fish.

The mango salsa can be prepared a few hours in advance. Letting the flavors marinate help bring out the sweetness of mango and the spiciness of the jalapeño. I made two versions of the salsa – one with avocado and one with bell peppers. The tilapia was cooked in a cast iron skillet. If you are using a cast iron skillet, don’t forget to pre-heat the pan in the oven. I usually put the oven on 200 degrees and heat the pan while I’m preparing the fish and setting the table. That way it’s nice and hot when it’s time to cook the fish. If you like a little more spice, feel free to add more diced jalapeño. I used one teaspoon in the recipe.

Mango_Salsa

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time: 1 hour
Serves: 2

Mango Salsa #1

FullSizeRenderIngredients:

1 cup mango, finely cubed
8 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator and let marinate 30 minutes to one hour.

Mango Salsa #2

Ingredients:

1 cup mango, finely cubed
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon jalapeño, finely diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Place in refrigerator and let marinate 30 minutes to one hour.

Tilapia:

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
2 tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing the fish
1 tablespoon of olive oil for the skillet
4 corn tortillas

Directions:

Combine all of the spices in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, coat each side of the tilapia with olive oil. Sprinkle the spice evenly on both sides of the fish.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Once heated, place the fish into the skillet and let cook about 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another 4-5 minutes. The fish is done when it easily flakes apart with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, warm the corn tortillas. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper bowl and microwave for 15 seconds.

Transfer the fish to a cutting board. Rough chop the fish and place in a serving bowl.

Now it’s time to build your fish tacos with the mango salsa and enjoy!

Easy Kebabs for Entertaining

I can’t believe I’m finally writing my first blog post! I’ve been thinking about starting a food blog for a while and after several months of preparing and testing recipes, I’m finally ready to debut my little passion project to the world!

And, it just so happens that the launch somewhat coincides with Brad’s birthday. We had only been dating a few weeks last year when it was his birthday, so we were in the awkward stage of what to get someone you just started dating. Having discovered he loves milk chocolate, I baked him chocolate cupcakes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cake Mix Doctor, and took him to the Jimmy Buffett concert the next day. Now, a whole year later, we are still keeping it low key but I can indulge a bit more.

I love entertaining and having friends and family over for a delicious meal and Brad’s birthday is a perfect excuse to have a party. Since I’ll be in control of the menu, I can make sure everything on the menu is free of diary, gluten, and eggs – and most of the time, no one knows these ingredients are missing.

We have a Webber kettle grill that works great but we have been talking about purchasing a gas grill for a while; unfortunately something always seems to jump in front of the line of purchase priority. So, I decided to give Brad a Broil-Mate™ One Tough Grill for his birthday. It’s going to be great to have the option of cooking over charcoal or gas. During the week, it’s just easier to turn on the gas grill than preparing and waiting 30 minutes for the charcoal grill to heat. I convinced Brad to open his gift a day early so we could use it during the birthday barbecue. We tested it out the night before by grilling chicken – delish!

Brad loves kebabs, so I’m making chicken and steak kebabs, dairy-free potato salad, and fruit salad. Most everything on the menu can be prepped ahead of time, leaving me time to mix and mingle with his family. And for the vegetarians and vegans out there, you can use the marinade on veggies – just swap the honey for Agave nectar.

Kebabs_06.12.18Balsamic-Honey Chicken Kebabs

Author: The Food Allergy Foodie
Prep Time:  1-1.5 hours
Serves: 8-10 people

Ingredients

Marinade:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Kebabs:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brined and cubed
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes
2 zucchini, sliced into ½” pieces
1 container, Crimini mushrooms
1 red onion, cut into large pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into large pieces
8-10 metal or wooden skewers

Directions:

  1. One hour before you are ready to assemble the kebabs, brine the chicken breasts in a salt water bath. In a large mixing bowl, measure ¼ cup of Kosher or sea salt with cold water. Whisk until the salt is dissolved. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The longer you brine the chicken, the juicer it will be.
  2. While the chicken is brining, prepare the marinade. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the marinade. Whisk well to combine the oil and vinegar.
  3. After the chicken is done brining, rinse well under cold water. Make sure to really rinse the chicken because you don’t want to taste the salt from the brine. Pat dry the chicken.
  4. Cube the chicken into 1-1/2” pieces. You want to make sure the pieces are large enough so they won’t fall off the skewer while cooking. Place the cubed chicken into a Ziplock bag and pour half the marinade over the chicken. Close the bag and shake to cover the chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes. You will need the remaining marinade to baste the vegetables.
  5. If you are using wooden skewers, now is the time to soak them so they don’t burn during grilling. I use a baking sheet and fill it with water and soak the skewers for at least 30 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables for the kebabs. I like to make “stations” for each of the vegetables so I get out all of my mixing bowls, one for each vegetable. As I cut each vegetable, I add them to a bowl for easy assembly.
  7. After the chicken is done marinating, it’s time to assemble the kebabs. You can build the kebabs any way you like – you can do chicken – vegetable – chicken, or vegetable – vegetable – chicken – it’s up to you! As I build each kebab, I placed the filled skewers on a baking sheet. Once all the kebabs are assembled, brush each with the remaining marinade.
  8. Heat the grill to 375 degrees. Once heated, place the skewers on the grill and let cook about 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 165 degrees.
  9. Plate and enjoy!

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute the honey in the marinade with agave nectar and create delicious veggie kebabs.