Tag Archives: health food

Just the Basics with Jenna: Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

11 May

Can you think of a more nostalgic snack than cold milk and chocolate chip cookies? I’m sure when you think back to your childhood, you picture your mother or grandmother pulling a hot, fresh batch of cookies out of the oven, or you immediately smell the aroma of baked cookies and melting chocolate filling your house. Sadly, I don’t really have those memories. When I think of milk and cookies, I think of a bag of Chips-A-Hoy cookies dipped in a glass of whole milk. I’m sitting in front of the television watching Full House. My mom is working, full-time, to support us. But, in those moments, I was completely happy. I had a wonderful upbringing, filled with lots of love. I had a big family, a warm house, a dog, a pool, a trampoline. I was never lonely, or neglected. Still, it’s strange how my life has changed so much from those days. The days when I gave about as much thought to what foods I put into my body as I did to tying my shoes. It just happened, everyday, without so much as a second thought. I think the reason it never mattered was because I was always thin and I was rarely hungry. Between picking at one meal a day and being blessed with skinny genes, eating a bag of chocolate chip cookies was the least of anyone’s worries in my house.

See, when I picture my mother and grandmother, I see style, confidence and beauty. Lose the apron, add a pair of heels, a swimsuit and a bottle of tanning oil. My mother and grandmother’s ability to be the most generous women I’ve ever known and yet never step foot into a kitchen with the intention to cook, is how I formed my belief about the woman’s role in a household. Their charisma and love was always more than enough to outweigh those seemingly meaningless traits of cooking and cleaning. But still, perhaps because of this non-domestic approach my mom and grandmother had to raising our family, I have begun to develop this vision of myself as a mother, pulling a tray of warm cookies out of the oven as my kids run in from school. I’m probably wearing a floral apron, as well. I think we all want something for our children that we missed out on.
Today, May 10, is my grandmother, “Bargee’s”, birthday. It always falls around Mother’s Day and my memories of her are overwhelming. Although mom and Bargee never taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies, or roast a chicken, or sew on a button, they raised me to be the person I am today. They showed me what it means to be beautiful and different, and how wearing flashy jewelry, high heeled shoes, bright lipstick and a bikini at any age is only as glamourous as you believe yourself to be. For the two most special women in my life, with your encouragement and strength, I have grown to be an independent woman, I have taken everything you taught me, and adapted my life to suit me. And while I will probably transition to a one piece bathing suit sometime after my kids are born, and I will make food and nutrition a big priority, I will also remember the importance of shoes, big christmases, saying “I love you”, not letting them out of the house when it snows and calling every single morning. These cookies are for you.
Bargee’s Birthday Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free **Contains Nuts and Eggs
Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup gluten free coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond butter in natural oils
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (beverage)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chip cookies, or enjoy life chocolate chip cookies
  • 1/2 tsp gluten free baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 medjool dates, pitted
Directions:
  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. In food processor, combine flour, almond butter, coconut milk, egg, baking soda, vanilla and dates.
  3. Process until a semi-thick, semi-cream batter forms.
  4. Add more flour, if desired, but the batter is not meant to be as thick as regular cookie dough.
  5. Remove blades and stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Download the .pdf of this recipe: Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jenna comes to the Frugal Flambe with delicious allergen-free recipes for the busy family. A writer (see her blog: The Paleo Project) and experimental photographer, after several years of food sensitivity and skin problems, Jenna decided to begin a paleolithic lifestyle. Paleo eaters tend to stick to the pre-agriculture food groups: meat and fish, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, nuts and herbs. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no peanuts, nothing processed. Just whole, organic, healthy foods that work well with the human body, eliminate auto-immune diseases and improve food related ailments. This allergen-free diet is Jenna’s new way of life and she is constantly teaching herself new ways to cook and feed her body what it needs.Every Wednesday, she’ll share her her dishes with families who suffer from allergies, or people who are looking to change their eating habits.  No sugar? No dairy? No grain? No problem!
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Recipe: Chickpea and Tomato Salad

10 May

Have you ever felt like you needed another weekend to recover from the weekend you just enjoyed? This past weekend was like that for me- and when I say I enjoyed it, I mean I really enjoyed it. For the the first time in ten years, my mom and I spent Mother’s day together. (She lives in Colorado, I live in Minnesota.) It was wonderful; we ate, we laughed, we spent copious amounts of money at Ikea to re-decorate my apartment in preparation for baby #2, and we loved every second of it. (We didn’t even get in an argument this time- and for two chatty-cathies like ourselves, that’s worth a mention.) It was heavenly.

And yet, I feel tired, emotional, and I’ll admit- a bit cranky now that she’s gone. It’s normal. Whenever she leaves I get a little down for a week or so, then start looking forward to the next visit, which is only a few short weeks away! She, my dad, my in-laws, and some friends will be celebrating with me as I graduate college- SO stoked.

In an effort to keep my spirits lifted, I’ve thrown myself back into my cooking, and a new challenge that I’ve found to be piqueing my interest: getting a photo of mine accepted onto http://www.foodgawker.com. Seriously you guys, I’m dedicated. Hopefully you’ll see my photos improving- practice makes perfect, right?

This recipe comes from one of those I found while surfing foodgawker, actually- The Merry Gourmet. LOVED all of these photos and recipes, but this one stuck out to me especially because of its fun flavor combinations and bright colors.

Chickpea & Tomato Salad

Adapted from http://www.merrygourmet.com/2011/04/chickpea-salad-with-feta-and-herbs/

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
  •  kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine chickpeas, sliced cherry tomatoes, mint and basil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar until combined. Pour over chickpeas and toss together. Add cheese and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Do you have a healthy salad recipe for summer? Share it in the comments!

Download the .pdf of this recipe: Chickpea & Tomato Salad

Recipe: Creamy Garlic Shrimp and Pasta

7 May

I. Love. Red. Lobster.

I know, I know- it’s not the highest of highest restaurants in the world. When I tell people that it’s my first and foremost choice for special dinners and celebrations, they roll their eyes. (Not that there’s anything WRONG with Red Lobster- but let’s face it- it’s no gourmet anomaly.)

That being said, I love it anyway. I would eat there for every birthday every year if I could… and I do.

One of my favorite dishes there is the shrimp fettuccine alfredo- it’s so rich, so good, such a diet-killer.

So, in true Frugal Flambe fashion, I found a healthier option. And, it’s not $13 a plate. WIN.

Creamy Garlic Shrimp and Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 (9 ounce) package fresh linguine
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons (3 ounces) light garlic and herbs spreadable cheese
  • ½ cup fat-free milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • oregano sprigs
  • ¼ cup tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup green onion, diced

Directions:

  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large dutch oven; add pasta and shrimp. Cook 3-4 minutes or until pasta is tender and shrimp are done. Drain and keep warm.
  2. While pasta and shrimp cook, combine wine and next 4 ingredients in a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
  3. Add pasta and shrimp to sauce in pan, tossing to coat. Add tomatoes and green onions. Cook for two minutes. Stir in chopped oregano just before serving. Garnish with oregano sprigs.

Do you have any favorite (and perhaps not gourmet) make-it-at-home but still restaurant-inspired recipes? Share them in the comments!

Download the .pdf of this recipe: Creamy Garlic Shrimp and Pasta

Recipe: Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

6 May

So, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s high time I tried to eat more healthy. One thing I haven’t mentioned, though, is that I’m Italian. Well, in reality, I’m “Heinz 57”- a biological mutt. But you know, I figure it’s my prerogative to claim the Italian percentage (however small it might be) as my “main” ethnic background- aside from Caucasian. And, to top it off, I claim the standard well-known “attributes” of the Italian community: I’m loud, I’m proud, and mama-mia, I LOVE to eat. Pastas, breads, sauces, and spices- all of it makes me happy. Now that I’m working on being healthy, all the pastas and breads and cream-based sauces are constantly circling my head, taunting me. So I went on a mission: I want to eat flavorfully, but yummy-fully. This recipe perfectly fits that bill.

(Lovingly and thankfully borrowed from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato dressing, divided
  • 2 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Place a large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup dressing and seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing. Refrigerate 10 minutes (I marinate it all day if I remember in time). Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.
  3. Grill chicken on uncovered side of grill for about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 dressing, tomatoes, cheese and basil.
  4. Turn the chicken over and place cooked-side up, on foil on the grill. Top with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill 8 minutes or until chicken is done.

*Sometimes we add a splash of balsalmic vinegar to give it a bit more zip.

Do you have a favorite classic dish you’ve converted to a healthier version? Share it in the comments!

Download the .pdf version of this recipe: Bruschetta Chicken

Just the Basics with Jenna: Simple Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

4 May

While it may seem like all I do is stuff my face with gluten free sweets, I must admit the staple item in my home and on our shopping list each week is meat. We grill it, we roast it, we bake it, we stuff it with things, we dip it, we marinate it, we coat it. It’s pretty much our lifeline these days. If you ever thought that eliminating bread left you starved, meat is a never fail option that we have incorporated into almost every meal of the day in our home. Our energy levels are naturally high, our stomachs are happy and surprisingly, we aren’t breaking the bank. Maybe because we make big dinners and have the leftovers for lunch each day. Maybe because we rarely eat out, or maybe because we have found budget friendly ways to eat healthy foods.

I wouldn’t say we’re picky about our meat, we just have a few requirements. Our chicken must be free range, organic, antibiotic and hormone free. Our beef must be organic and grass-fed. Our seafood must be wild. That’s not really picky, is it? If that seems like too much for you to worry about while you’re shopping for meat, than I suggest you reevaluate and raise your standards, quickly. It’s a travesty and a shock really, that with the amount of information available today, people are still purchasing poor quality meat, consuming it in large quantities and worse, exposing their children to it. And, please, I don’t want to hear about the price. Yes, it’s more expensive to buy organic foods than to buy non-organic foods. But do you know what costs even more than that? Hospital bills. Doctor’s visits. Prescriptions. Things that you’ll be forking over a hefty amount toward if you don’t start concerning yourself with the meat, or the anything, you are eating.

You’re talking to a girl who makes below minimum wage here, and we’re able to eat this type of meat and fish every night. Think about it.

In order to get the best bang for your buck, I’ve thought of a few tips that have helped us maintain our healthy meat eating lifestyle without going into debt.
  1. Watch for Sales. I know at Whole Foods they have a sale almost every week on chicken, beef and seafood. Sure, it may not always be exactly what we were looking to eat that night, but that’s a compromise you need to make to accommodate the needs of your family. These sales are not hard to spot, look for a big sign, with the letters S-A-L-E on it. You can do it.
  2. Find your local farmer’s market, ask questions, get informed. Don’t assume that just because meat is being sold at a farmer’s market that it is a. organic and b. grass-fed. Please remember to ask about the meat you are about to purchase. If you’re lucky, they will have a variety of price points and you’ll be bringing home the bacon (two kinds).
  3. Shop at Trader Joe’s (or a similar store). I’m not sure that every area has a Trader Joe’s, but if you do have one, this is a great place to stock up on chicken and seafood. We buy frozen wild salmon, ahi tuna steaks, seafood blends of shrimp and scallops, tilapia and anything else we can find. We are never disappointed. The prices are extremely reasonable and we can fill our freezer with weeks worth of dinner. Just remember to remove the seafood from the wrapper when thawing so that it doesn’t sit in the melting water and cause your fish to lose its freshness and consistency.
  4. Buy whole chickens. Seriously, this is an extremely economical way to feed any family and they come in under ten dollars. In my house, we’ll roast a whole chicken on Sunday and both have lunch for the next day. Pair this with a salad, and you have yourself a filling, nutritious, allergen-free dinner at an affordable price.
Simple Whole Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary
Ingredients:
  • 1 4-5lb whole chicken
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbs rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbs olive oil
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Wash chicken, remove innards, place in dish.
  3. Cover in olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, salt, pepper and rosemary.
  4. Stuff the chicken with crushed garlic cloves.
  5. Roast chicken for 15 minutes in the preheated (500 degree) oven. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 450 degrees F and continue roasting 15 minutes. Baste chicken with pan drippings, reduce heat to 425 degrees F and continue roasting 30 minutes, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Jenna comes to the Frugal Flambe with delicious allergen-free recipes for the busy family. A writer (see her blog: The Paleo Project) and experimental photographer, after several years of food sensitivity and skin problems, Jenna decided to begin a paleolithic lifestyle. Paleo eaters tend to stick to the pre-agriculture food groups: meat and fish, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, nuts and herbs. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no peanuts, nothing processed. Just whole, organic, healthy foods that work well with the human body, eliminate auto-immune diseases and improve food related ailments. This allergen-free diet is Jenna’s new way of life and she is constantly teaching herself new ways to cook and feed her body what it needs. Every Wednesday, she’ll share her her dishes with families who suffer from allergies, or people who are looking to change their eating habits.  No sugar? No dairy? No grain? No problem!

Recipe: Mild Coconut Curry Chicken

29 Apr

Let me begin by first acknowledging the fact that yes, it is Friday, and yes, this slot is normally reserved for our awesome Healthy Bites with Holly column. This week, Holly’s been gallivanting around the country on business, so she asked if I would take over her post for today. I said yes, she said thanks, and here are.

Now, a confession:

I’m getting fat. Well, that’s not really accurate. I was already over my ideal weight, (by quite a bit), when I got pregnant. From there, I started staying home with my son, finished my bachelor’s degree, started this blog, and decided it was a good time to go house-hunting. All good things in themselves, but added together, they make for a wicked stress cocktail. And do you know how I handle stress, my dear friends? If the content of my blog doesn’t give you a hint, then I’ll just come out with it: I cook. Then I eat. Then I repeat.

Having repeated this three-step-stress-reliever over and over for the past four months, you can probably understand why my doctor looked at me with that disapproving look I know too well and said, “Shellina, you’re up in your weight this month. What do you think might be contributing to that?” I only had one response to this question. I laughed. He gave me a quizzical look, the said, “I’m serious.” I admitted to my emotional eating, he told me to stop doing that, I agreed, and we moved on with the exam.

And then came the hard part, you see, because I had agreed to stop doing that, so now I have to stop. And part of stopping includes not making terrible (if not delectable and amazing and mouth-wateringly tempting) food for myself and my family. I need to become the HEALTHY Frugal Flambe, or something close to it. And I shall… slowly.

This recipe is my first step in doing so- a healthy option that still fits the requirements of a Frugal Flambe recipe: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cost-effective, and above all, it tastes darn good.

Mild Coconut Curry Chicken

Recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3-4 cups cooked white rice
  • fresh lime slices for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to broil.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup of the yogurt on the chicken breasts.
  3. Place the chicken directly on the top rack of your oven and broil until the chicken is cooked through, and slightly charred on the outside, about 4-6 minutes per side.
  4. Remove chicken from the oven and set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onion slices until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  
  6. Add the curry and turmeric and cook for a minute longer. Add the coconut milk and honey. Salt to taste.
  7. Slice the chicken into slices and stir it into the curry mixture.
  8. Serve over rice with lime.

Have you recently made the switch to using healthier ingredients in your cooking? If so, we’d love to see your recipes! Share them in the the comments.

Download the .pdf version of this recipe: Coconut Curry Chicken

Just the Basics with Jenna: Raw Chocolate Cashew Dreamcake

27 Apr

Whatever your reasons for celebration this past Sunday, we can all attest to the fact that holidays are challenging. Not just allergen-free families face these challenges, but vegans, vegetarians, paleos, dieters, just about everyone who has taken a step toward a healthier lifestyle has their own obstacles to overcome each month. Perhaps the most challenging part of these highly anticipated days, is what American culture has done to them. October begins and with it, the countdown to the most sugar-filled day of the year, which is only the beginning of four more months laced with gluten and dairy, sugar and chocolate, heartburn and weight gain. It’s hard enough as adults trying to side step the bowl of halloween candy that sits in the kitchen until Thanksgiving rounds the corner and we toss the bowl, only to fill it with cupcakes that look like turkeys and taste like cavities. We finish off the treats just in time for the annual Christmas cookie contest at Aunt Nora’s. By the time Christmas actually comes around, we’ve all entered sugar-induced comas, force-feeding ourselves for next few days at mom’s, then Grandma’s and finally at home for our own personal leftover party that lasts well into the new year. All the while telling our children to step away from the treats and have a carrot.

We somehow survive until February, and now we’re proclaiming love for everyone around us just for an excuse to give and receive more chocolate. We’re physically addicted to anything that comes wrapped in foils of pink and purple and gold and we remind ourselves that it’s winter, it’s okay, bathing suit season is far away, I’ll just eat this bag of caramel hearts and start my diet on Monday.

And here we are, almost through April, almost rid of the winter insulation we packed on, and the Easter bunny knocks on our door asking us to give in just one more time. To wear comfortable pants, shovel four times our average calorie intake onto our plate and create diabetes-baskets for our children. It’s a twisted chain of events and we’re almost all guilty of it. What’s worse, our children have begun to not only expect a treat-filled holiday, but demand it. I’ll admit I woke up yesterday morning with a pang of disappointment that my mother no longer put together a basket of sugar for me. And I’m 23.

The balance of health and holidays is probably the most difficult one to find and maintain because it is constant and concrete. As soon as one ends, the countdown to the next begins. If we’re lucky, we spend two months in a year not planning for, celebrating or cleaning up after a holiday that has been designed for the taste-buds.

This year, I anticipated Easter with new anxieties. I wanted to enjoy dessert, but I wanted it to fit my new needs. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a pie that looked beautiful, tasted light, left my stomach happy and the ingredients would please every paleo while the taste would please any non-paleo crowd. I hope this recipe can do something wonderful for you.

Raw Chocolate Cashew Dreamcake

~Adapted from My New Roots *Contains no dairy, gluten, grains, refined sugar or soy **Contains tree nuts

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
  • 1/2 cup soft Medjool dates
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, overnight is best
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract)
  • 1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid.)(Vegans use agave nectar.)
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy, soy & nut free)

Directions:

  1. Place almonds and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 9” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate lined with saran wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.
  2.  Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (you decide which one has the most torque) place all filling ingredients (except chocolate chips) and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient). If you have a Vita-Mix, absolutely use it.
  4. Pour about 2/3 of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Melt chocolate chips and pour them into the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour this mixture onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.
  5. To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Freeze leftovers.

Sadly, my niece is allergic to nuts and her mother was unable to enjoy this treat as she is still breast feeding. It’s true, not every recipe I provide will adhere to every allergy, but eventually, my hope is to feed every family with my assortment of recipe findings and creations. I’m off to begin Memorial Day cookout plans!

Jenna

Download the .pdf version of this recipe: Raw Chocolate Cashew Dreamcake

Jenna comes to the Frugal Flambe with delicious allergen-free recipes for the busy family. A writer (see her blog: The Paleo Project) and experimental photographer, after several years of food sensitivity and skin problems, Jenna decided to begin a paleolithic lifestyle. Paleo eaters tend to stick to the pre-agriculture food groups: meat and fish, vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, nuts and herbs. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no peanuts, nothing processed. Just whole, organic, healthy foods that work well with the human body, eliminate auto-immune diseases and improve food related ailments. This allergen-free diet is Jenna’s new way of life and she is constantly teaching herself new ways to cook and feed her body what it needs. Every Wednesday, she’ll share her her dishes with families who suffer from allergies, or people who are looking to change their eating habits.  No sugar? No dairy? No grain? No problem!

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