Almost time for the holidays? Try a meatless main dish! Bursting with seasonal cranberries and rosemary flavors, try this Quinoa Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash at your next holiday meal! Feed that Healthy Gut! This stuffed acorn squash may be the main star […]
Tag: gluten free
The fall season is finally here! Why not cozy up with a warm cup of this naturally gluten-free and vegetarian Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup? With hints of lemon and topped with parmesan cheese, this healthy version of a broccoli soup classic is sure to […]
Tired of oatmeal every morning? Try breakfast polenta as
your next sweet or savory brunch alternative!
Are you more of a sweet or savory breakfast eater? Most days I crave eggs during the week, but on weekends I am ready for a plate of fluffy pancakes drizzled in Vermont maple syrup! Some of the typical sweet breakfasts are now showing up with a savory twist. Hot cereals are making a come back; even more, using unique grains such as quinoa and amaranth. A well known breakfast staple, oatmeal, for example, is now seen topped with eggs, chorizo sausage, and bacon! Move over grits and cream of wheat, there is a new breakfast grain in town. Polenta!
This naturally gluten-free grain made of stoneground cornmeal is mostly recognized in italian cooking. Whether it is creamy soft or served as thick slices, polenta is extremely versatile at any meal. Topped with meat, seafood, or vegetables, polenta makes a great substitute for rice or pasta in savory recipes. So, why not as a breakfast polenta?
Last month, I finally made polenta from scratch instead of the usual packaged form seen in a round casing. I was shocked at how easy (and tasty) it was! I couldn’t decide on a savory or sweet version, so I decided to make both! For a sweet take, I topped polenta with sauteed apples, dates, and walnuts. Those craving a savory breakfast, try this version with sundried tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan cheese!
I would also like to thank my new favorite local gourmet shop in Boulder, Le Frigo. Whenever I am on the hunt for delicious cheeses and gourmet products, such as the polenta used in these recipes, they are always my go-to!
Cooking tips for Polenta
Many of us shy away from this cornmeal favorite because of its reputation for overcooking. Why so scared? In reality, it is actually hard to overcook polenta as long as you follow the key cooking basics. These main factors for making polenta include the liquid ratio, cooking method, and cooking time. For more on polenta, check out this excellent article by Serious Eats here.
Ratios for Polenta
First, make sure you have the right dry polenta to liquid ratio depending on the desired texture:
- For a firm texture combine 1 part dry polenta to 3-4 parts liquid.
- For a softer polenta mix 1 part dry polentia to 6-8 parts liquid.
- The most common liquids used in polenta cooking are milk, broth or stock, and water.
Basic Cooking Method
Second, to prevent lumping, follow one of these two methods according to the Rouxbe online cooking school:
- In a medium pot, whisk cold water and polenta then turn on medium-high heat to bring to boil. Once the polenta is evenly combined, bring the heat down to simmer.
- Bring liquid to boil first, then whisk in polenta meal slow and steady and turn heat down to simmer.
For both methods, whisk together polenta and liquid for the first 10 minutes, then simmer partially covered (to avoid splattering) for up to an hour. For more on cooking polenta feel free to read this article by The Kitchn here.
- 3 cups cooked polenta*
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
- 4 cups raw spinach leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan (additional for topping optional)
- Cooked eggs for topping, optional (poached, scrambled, fried, etc)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Set aside the cooked polenta (see directions for cooking polenta mentioned in post). If you prefer the polenta topped with eggs, cook the eggs to your liking while the vegetables cook. Prior to serving polenta, divide into 1/2 cup servings.
- In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat, saute the tomatoes and spinach until the spinach leaves start to welt, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and seasoning, continue sauteeing for an additional 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove from heat.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese.
- Top the vegetable mixture over polenta (1/2 cup servings).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional: Top with cooked eggs and/or additional grated parmesan
- 3 cups cooked polenta*
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
- 1 medium apple, chopped
- 6-8 dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts, chopped
- Set aside the cooked polenta. Distribute into 1/2 cup servings prior to serving.
- In a large pan, heat olive oil or butter on medium heat. Saute the apples and dates until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Stir in the cinnamon, walnuts, and drizzle of maple syrup; toss to combine.
- Pour the apple mixture evenly over cooked polenta servings.
- Drizzle additional maple syrup, optional.
A new summer treat filled with healthy fats and protein! Try my new Strawberry Chia Pudding with a chocolate peanut butter topping! I received free samples of the NuGo nutrition bars mentioned in this post. I was compensated for this blog post. You could say […]
Try a delicious, gluten and dairy-free flatbread for your next sweet treat or savory meal! If you’re craving a pizza, crepe, or taco shell, Socca is simply satisfying!
This delicious and versatile flatbread, originally from the regions of France and Italy, is naturally gluten, dairy, and nut-free. Made from chickpea flour, Socca is usually served hot and enjoyed as is. It can be enjoyed as a simple flatbread, or can even be used as a pizza crust, taco shell, or crepe with your favorite jam!
The Truth About Food Reactions
Millions of Americans each year suffer from food allergies and reactions to foods. So, if this flatbread alternative is calling your name, you are not alone! Many even mistake the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity.
When our immune system responds to a food substance (a protein), that is a food allergy. Symptoms can be minor, such as itchy eyes or a runny nose, although other symptoms can be much more severe. The most common food allergies, causing almost 90% of food reactions annually, are: dairy, eggs, seafood, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and wheat. Food allergies should always be taken seriously. Whether you are at a restaurant or family gathering, informing others about your food allergy is important.
Food intolerances, on the other hand, are not life threatening, but they are unpleasant. A sensitivity occurs when our body cannot properly digest a food substance. Some examples, gluten, the protein commonly found in wheat, or lactose, the sugar in milk. Symptoms can range from abdominal cramping to diarrhea, and even migraines.
Think you may have a food allergy or sensitivity? Talk to your doctor first. He or she may recommend a blood or skin test to determine if it’s a food allergy. Food sensitivities are not as easy to determine. Health professionals may suggest keeping track of your symptoms in a food log and taking part in an elimination diet to narrow out the food triggers. For more information on food allergies and sensitivities, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
In this recipe….
I decided to make Socca as a light and healthy pizza with sauteed mushrooms and fresh arugula. The options for toppings are endlesss! If you prefer to go dairy-free, use a little drizzle of olive oil or a cheese alternative. To make the batter savory, add in your favorite fresh or dried herbs and spices. Socca is simply a 1:1 ratio of chickpea flour to lukewarm water for the batter.
Use socca as a pizza crust, taco shell, and even to serve with your favorite dip or spread!
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (half for the batter)
- Salt to taste
- Optional add-ins: fresh rosemary, thyme, cumin, garlic powder
- Prior to cooking, whisk together the chickpea flour and water, one tablespoon of olive oil, and any additional herbs and spices. Set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Once the batter is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.*
- Place a large (10-12 inch) cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven to heat up.
- Carefuly remove the hot skillet from the oven and swirl one tablespoon of olive oil in the pan. Slowly pour in the batter evenly to cover the bottom of the hot pan.
- Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the batter is cooked through in the middle and the edges are slightly crisp. The batter should resemble a thick pancake. Drizzle additional olive oil on top to prevent dryness, optional.
- * If you prefer cooking on the stovetop, cook the socca on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes each side.
Socca is a great alternative carbohydrate choice for anyone with food allergies and sensitivities. Thanks to the simple ingredients of only chickpea flour and water it is naturally free of gluten, dairy, nuts, and soy.
Does your kitchen need spring cleaning? Try this simple and versatile recipe for Dukkah! Move over fairy dust! Dukkah, a delicious Egyptian blend of nuts and spices is pure magic! This versatile topping combines a sweet, savory, and nutty taste all in one. Use it as a crust on […]
Try a plant based twist for Taco Tuesday! These King Oyster mushroom tacos with a pineapple miso dressing make a unique, Asian inspired meal the whole family will enjoy! Let’s “taco bout” it! Taco Tuesday has become very popular on social media lately and for good reason. […]
A new takeout alternative is here! Try this healthy and delicious Crispy Baked Cara Cara Orange Tofu for your next restaurant craving!
Are you a fan of Chinese food takeout on the weekend? Join the club! Making your own favorite recipe with healthy modifications saves you money and calories! Instead of deep frying, these crispy textured tofu cubes are baked! I know we all love a weekend splurge, but this orange tofu recipe will make you want to eat in instead of ordering out! Can we all say Fri-yay?
Citrus Fruits that Brighten Winter
When it comes to citrus fruits many of us think of delicate cocktails or smoothies in the summer. Citrus fruits are actually in season during the winter! What better time to get a boost of vitamins and minerals to get us through the cold and snowy season! Citrus, such as the Cara Cara orange in the recipe, is loaded with Vitamin C, folate, and dietary fiber. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to fight free radicals and aids in building collagen to keep our skin glowing.
Besides having a cute name, Cara Cara oranges give a beautiful pink hue and tangy taste. Some say the taste reminds them of cranberries! These gorgeous, seedless citrus favorites are in season during the winter to early spring. Try them in a smoothie, a winter salad, or as a marinade!
What’s the Deal with Soy?
In today’s food industry, soy has come a long way from the previous fears and misleading health claims. This plant-based, complete protein (containing all of the essential amino acids our body needs) comes from the soybean. There are numerous forms of soy out there besides the soybean, edamame. Tofu is the beancurd from soy milk. It works great in stir fries, soups, and desserts! If you want another option for sneaking soy in your diet, try tempeh, soy sauce, or miso. Or, if you want to try an alternative to cow’s milk, try a fulfilling glass of soy milk.
As we know, soy is an excellent source of protein, but it also provides calcium, iron, unsaturated fats, and fiber. Soy also contains isoflavones; mostly recognized is the estrogen-like compound, phytoestrogen. Because these compounds function like hormones, many feared an increased risk of hormone-related cancers. Current research mentioned in the Harvard School of Public Health newsletter has found that soy consumption as early as in adolescence may reduce risk for breast cancer occurence and recurrence.
Further research is ongoing for cardiovascular disease risk and blood pressure. However, replacing meats high in saturated fats, such as red meat, with soy foods suggests a beneficial outcome for the heart. This is because soy contains unsaturated fats, vitamins, and minerals.
In this Recipe…
In thirty minutes, you will have a tasty restaurant-style tofu with better nutrients and less saturated fat! Compared to the deep fried method, the tofu is coated with corn starch and seasonings, and then baked for a delicately crispy texture. For this crispy tofu method I was inspired by Cookie and Kate’s Crispy Tofu recipe (see here). Prior to coating the tofu, make sure to press the tofu with clean towels (or paper towels) to soak up the extra water and moisture. While the tofu bakes, make the sauce to save time. You will even have enough time to cook a side vegetable and whole grain to make this a complete meal. I added broccoli and kale with brown rice as a foundation for the orange tofu.
Corn starch is naturally gluten free, but for those gluten sensitive I recommend a certified gluten free corn starch product. In addition to gluten free corn starch, you will also need to substitute Tamari or coconut aminos for the soy sauce. For those that prefer a vegan option, substitute maple syrup for the honey to give sweetness to the sauce. Any meat lovers that are still not convinced to try tofu? Feel free to bake a lean protein like pork or chicken; the coating will still work great for any protein source. For cooking with meat, make sure the internal temperature is within the recommended range. Also note that cooking times for different protein sources will vary.
I would like to also take the time to give a very special thank you to our dear friend, Jordan Edwards. He has been a best (and loyal) friend of my husband’s since early college days and living abroad in Ireland. With his amazing culinary skills, especially in Asian cooking, he helped me create this delicious recipe. I still can’t believe we created an amazingly crispy textured tofu with half the calories! In addition to feeding my husband and I often with his cooking talents, he has also welcomed us into our new city of beautiful Boulder, Colorado. This recipe would not be as tasty without his help!
- Coating for Tofu:
- 1 15 ounce package extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (or more to coat)
- Salt and pepper, garlic powder to taste
- Orange Glaze:
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Juice and Zest of one Cara Cara Orange (or another type of orange), approximately 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, low sodium (or tamari for Gluten Free option)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Additional toppings: chopped scallions, sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the coating and toss the tofu to coat.
- Spread the coated tofu on a greased or non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- While the tofu bakes, make the sauce (below).
- For the Sauce:
- Combine in a small bowl, the juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and broth.
- Heat the sesame oil on medium heat and saute the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the bowl of wet ingredients to the saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5-7 minutes. To thicken the sauce, mix the cornstarch and a small amount of water to make a paste prior to stirring or whisking in the sauce. Once the sauce reaches the desired consistency turn off the heat and set aside.
- Once the tofu is baked to desired level of crispiness, remove from the oven. Toss the tofu and sauce in a medium bowl and serve. Top with scallions and sesame seeds, optional.
If your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier or eat more vegetables for 2017, try this delicious Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad! Salads aren’t just a summer thing! These beautiful and delicate blends are good all year round. To keep up with the winter season choose vegetables such […]