Buffalo Cauliflower

I’m back in the U.S. and I’m going to try to keep up with more posts now that I am back! First on my list is these little babies. Buffalo Cauliflower… before you go judging this dish give it a chance! I think it is absolutely delicious. It satisfies my weird cravings for buffalo chicken wings even though I have been a vegetarian for years. My boyfriend also loves them even though he has been known to scarf down plates of buffalo wings. These are delicious, and much healthier than the deep fried chicken wings slathered in oil. The original recipe is from Persnickety Plates. I wanted to make these gluten-free, so I actually replaced the regular flour in the original recipe with chickpea flour. The chickpea flour gave the batter a wonderful, smooth, consistency and they tasted delicious. You can find chickpea flour at most health food stores and in the baking aisle of some grocery stores (Wegmans!) I have also made them with regular flour and they were just as delicious! Enjoy your Friday night by popping some of these in the oven, they are fantastic with beer!

BuffaloCauliflowerSorry the pictures do not do this recipe justice. I will just have to make it again and retake them. But these are seriously so good that they get scarfed up too quickly to take any decent pictures. Eh, whatever. Here we go!Buffalo

This is a fantastic dish to serve as an appetizer. It is a much healthier version of the popular chicken wing. And although you won’t be fooling anyone…no it doesn’t taste like chicken. These are still surprisingly delicious! Even cauliflower skeptics will enjoy them!
CauliflowerI did a poor job at coating these evenly. When I took this picture I used the dip tactic instead of the..throw-it-all-in-a-bowl-and-toss-it tactic. So they didn’t come out to even. Still tasted great, there was just some cauliflower stem exposed. Either way they still turn out great. Enjoy!

 

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Healthy Holiday Sides: Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again… Brussel sprouts can taste delicious! Don’t agree? Try this recipe! These oven roasted sprouts taste much better than the squishy green balls you were forced to eat as kid. They are smoky, crispy, and savory. I love how the balsamic turns into a thick glaze in the oven. And brussel sprouts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat! So along with all the cookies, cocktails, and treats you’re enjoying, sneak in some of these wholsome veggies. Maybe we should give brussel sprouts a new name…any ideas? While you think, I’ll get cooking!Balsamic Roasted BrusselsOven Roasted Brussels

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse your sprouts. Then chop the ends off of the brussel sprouts and cut them in half. Add the garlic and brussel sprouts to a bowl. In another small bowl mix the vingear, olive oil, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the sprouts and toss until covered. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flip halfway through. That’s it! Brussels, before and afterThis is a perfect side dish to go with your holiday dinner. I might even try to convince my mom to add it to the Christmas dinner, and she HATES brussel sprouts…oh how the tables have turned. What side dishes are you having with your holiday dinner? I need more ideas in case she turns this one down! 🙂

Homemade Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is an easy grab-and-go, healthy snack. There are some great options in the grocery store, but many contain added sugar, sulphur dioxide, or other preservatives. Fruit, especially dried, is sweet enough without more sugar poured on, and I don’t want to eat chemicals! The ‘Peeled’ snack line of dried fruits are a great option. They offer many delicious flavors of organic, sugar-free fruit snacks.

From their website…”We source the highest quality organic and natural ingredients without the use of refined sugar, oil, or preservatives. Peeled Snacks provide a natural source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free.” I Love these sweet snacks!PeeledImage Courtesy of Peeledsnacks.com

You can also make your own dried fruits at home! If you own a dehydrator, it as simple as laying the fresh or canned (with no added sugar) fruits on the mats and plugging in the machine…then waiting, and waiting. Dried fruit takes time, that’s for sure. Here are the general time and temperature guidelines for drying your own fruit in a dehydrator.
DryingFruitMake sure the fruit is cleaned and pitted. Taking off the skin will speed up the process. Most fruits should be sliced 3/8″-1/2″ thick. If it is sliced too thin, it will shrivel up too small as it dehydrates. I also found that if strawberries are cut up too small they just shrivel up into little gooey, seedy, things that are not too tasty.

Fruit can also be dehydrated in the oven. Turn you oven on the lowest it will go. If it is close to 130-140 degrees-(which most ovens are not) the times will be similar to the dehydrator. The higher the temperature of your oven the less time the fruit will take. Keep checking until the fruit is the consistency you desire. You can dry your fruits on a silpat or parchment paper covered baking sheet. A cooling rack on top of a baking sheet also works well! The following table is for a 200 degree oven with fruit placed on baking sheets. Drying times will defer depending on thickness of fruit slices and ovens.DryingFruitDried fruit is a great snack by itself, on top of yogurt, or sprinkled on cereal. Add it to a homemade trail mix, or add it into baked goods!

6 Reasons I Prefer A Dehydrator:
1. A dehydrator is much safer than a open oven. Even though it is a low temperature the open oven could be dangerous for young children, and pets.
2. You don’t have to stay at home while the dehydrator is running
3. A little easier on the environment
4. Most dehydrators can fit more food than a standard oven can, at one time
5. Herbs, vegetables, and meats are also great to dry in a dehydrator!
6. Drying your own fruit is much less expensive than buying it in the store!

Do you own a dehydrator? Do you prefer the oven method?

4 Step Overnight Marinara Sauce

I always thought it was difficult to make and freeze my own marinara sauce, but it’s pretty simple- as SO worth it. I HATE that almost all store bought spaghetti/marinara/tomato sauces have so much added sugar in them. For instance, Ragu Marinara contains high fructose corn syrup, and natural flavors-whatever that means. It is difficult to find a truly healthy sauce- many contain hydrogenated oils, or artificial colors or flavors. Not only that, but when you make your own the ingredients are at their freshest, they are at the peak of their nutritional value, and you know exactly what is going in it!
ragu(Source)
Foodfacts.com gives the Old World Style Ragu marinara an “F”.

Now, I will be honest this marinara is delicious, but it does not taste like the store bought kind, which I think is a good thing! But! It does take a little while to get used to it- I prefer it now, but it is different. There are only 6 ingredients in this recipe, each can be tweaked to your own preference! I’m pretty sure I make it different every time because I never write the whole recipe down. Until now!Marinara Sauce2

1. Boil a large pot of water. Have a large bowl of ice water next to your pot! While you are waiting for the water- core the tomatoes, don’t worry about chopping them up yet. After the water boils, turn it to low and allow it to simmer. Place 4-5 of the cored tomatoes in the water to blanch them. Leave them in the water for 40 seconds-1 minute. Spoon them out of the pot and place them in the ice water. Leave them in until they are cool enough to handle, and the skins should peel right off of the tomatoes. (If not-put them back in the boiling water for a minute)

2. We gut some of the tomatoes- just using our fingers so that the sauce isn’t watery and seedy, but it is all  up to you. Leave the guts in, if you please. Chop up the tomatoes into chucks, or smaller if you want a smoother sauce.

3. Place chopped tomatoes into a crock pot. Bring the tomatoes up to a boil then turn the pot to low. Cover and go to bed!

3.5 If you would like to prepare the onions and garlic the night before adding them it will save you some time in the morning. Finely chop onions and garlic. Sautee the onion until translucent then add the garlic in for a couple of minutes- don’t burn the garlic!Tomato sauce

4. The next morning add the onions, garlic, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Let simmer on low or warm for 5-8 more hours. Let cool and place in freezer bags! That’s it!

Marinara Sauce

*If you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes you can use 3 (28oz) can whole or crushed tomatoes- or a combination of the two, as well as 1 (6oz) can of tomato paste.

Rosemary Sea Salt Hummus

P1100667I’m on such a chickpea kick. I have a whole slew of recipes using these little magic beans and I can’t wait to share them. First up is my rosemary sea salt hummus. I love love love rosemary, it has such a unique flavor that compliments many different dishes. I picked the rosemary from my garden, but you can find it in any grocery store. Try to buy garbanzo beans /chickpeas that are canned only in water with no other ingredients. Dry beans are also a great option!
Rosemary Hummus

Yum! I love this dip with warm fresh pita! Look out for a new gluten-free pita recipe soon! Also, try this awesome Garlic Hummus recipe!

Fresh Basil Lemonade

 When life gives you basil…
Make lemonade!
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Another recipe from my best friend! This lemonade is the perfect thirst quencher for these sweltering, sticky, summer days. It is so refreshing! Bonus that it is also so good for you! Fresh basil is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is a great source of Vitamin K and iron!
Basil LemonadeThe more you drink this the more you love it! If you want to make an adult version, it blends nicely with vodka! According to a very trusty bar tender! 🙂
P1100203The ingredients are adjustable to your preference, if you like it tart- add more lemon. Want it sweeter? Drizzle in more honey…You get the picture. Perfect summer drink! Thanks Aud!

Homemade Stevia Extract

SteviaExtractHomemade

Stevia leaves can be eaten fresh, put in teas and foods, dried, or made into extracts. I am making an extract as a healthy sweetening alternative! The leaves of the stevia plant have 30–45 times the sweetness of sucrose-or white sugar.

There are many species of Stevia, belonging to the same family as sunflowers. The one I am referring to here is commonly called sweetleaf, or just stevia. Its leaves are extremely sweet, extracts made from this plant can be up to 300x sweeter than white sugar. It is a natural and healthy alternative to processed sugars.
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There are many companies creating stevia extracts, powders, and other sweeteners. But many of these so called stevia derivatives are far from “natural”. Probably the most well-known is Truvia-owned jointly by The Coca-Cola Company and Cargill. Stevia must go through 40-steps, be processed and combined with other ingredients to make Truvia. This white processed powder seems quite opposite from the green plants growing in my garden.

TIP: When purchasing stevia from a store make sure the ingredients are 100% pure stevia without any additional ingredients.
But! As always, to make sure you know what’s in it…make it yourself! Making your own stevia extract isn’t too difficult. This is a great article that clears up a bunch of the confusion on good vs. bad stevia.

I found the original instructions for making stevia extract at Common Sense Homesteading.

A friend gave me small stevia plants she found at a Farmer’s Market, just like any other herb could be purchased. You can also grow stevia from a seed. If you don’t have access to fresh stevia leaves you can sometimes find dried leaves at health food stores.

P1100049These are two of my four stevia plants in my garden. They are about 1-2 feet tall. (Sorry the background is terrible, just a sea of green!) Many people don’t know what to do with the leaves after they have grown their stevia plants. Making extract from fresh leaves is just one possibility! There are many other options, which I will explore throughout the summer. For now, here are my tips for extract making.Stevia Extract
The extract should last up to three months in the fridge. A large number of leaves makes a very small amount of extract. The simmering boils off most of the alcohol leaving a thicker and very concentrated mixture. I used a coffee filter to strain this mixture into my bottle. A very small drop goes a loooong way, this extract is very sweet! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m looking forward to using it in iced coffee!

I am going to try making an extract from dried leaves next time!