recipe: healthy chocolate peanut-butter fudge

Yes.  It does exist.  Let me explain:

Coconut oil is a fantastic substance that is known to provide all sorts of health benefits.  The key here is to not be afraid of the word “fats.”  Mainstream culture has given us the idea that fats are bad and that natural fats in food will make YOU fat.  Not true.  Eating refined sugars, refined carbs and junk food and not living an active lifestyle can make you fat.  Eating natural, whole, healthy fats can actually help you maintain your weight and help the foods you’re eating deliver their health benefits to you much more effectively.

Coconut oil is pretty easy to digest and it aids the body in absorbing minerals, fat soluble vitamins, B vitamins, and some amino acids.  Many people also say that coconut oil helps you LOSE weight because it increses your energy, boosts your metabolism, and helps improve thyroid function — all of which are beneficial to losing weight.  It doesn’t negatively effect your blood cholesterol and it is a known anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties. 

This is a semi-raw, dairy free healthy fudge recipe because one of the main ingredients is coconut oil as well as cocoa and one of the most natural sugars you can find — honey. 

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup raw honey (may add a bit more if you like your fudge sweeter)
1/2 cup peanut butter
dash of salt

Method:

Place your coconut oil in a glass or heat-proof container.  In a sauce pan, boil some water.  Place the coconut oil-filled container in the water and allow about 1/3rd of the coconut oil to melt.  Do this to help preserve the “raw” qualities of the coconut oil, thereby, preserving its nutritional benefits. Once partially melted, pour all the coconut oil into a blender or a bowl for a hand mixer.  Add in the rest of your ingredients and blend or beat till mixed together.  Important: I’m not sure why, but if you mix the ingredients too long, the coconut oil will separate as you can see that mine did a little bit.  Be careful to get your fudge JUST mixed and not overmixed to avoid separation.  Take a small baking dish and line it with parchment or wax paper and pour your fudge into the dish and spread it out equally.  Chill for 1 hour.  Cut and serve.

This recipe is gluten free, grain free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, and vegetarian.  While I’ve not used agave nectar, I’m sure some experimentation could be done to make this recipe vegan as well.

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recipe: grain free butternut squash and goat cheese pizza

Oh yeah.

This is where it’s at.  I love pizza and it’s something that I’ve missed about being gluten free.  My wonderful friend, Sarah, who has her family on the GAPS diet introduced me to the idea of a grain free pizza crust.  Other gluten free pizza I’ve had seem too spongey and chewy.  But after seeing her recipe and researching a few others, I was able to come up with one of my own for a grain free pizza crust that I’m in love with.  It’s pretty versatile — put on whatever toppings suit you.  Last night, I tried an entirely new pizza — butternut squah and goat cheese pizza.  Mmmm….

Grain Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil (I used my herb infused olive oil again for extra flavor)
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs coconut flour
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbs oregano
1 tbs basil
salt
butter for greasing a pizza pan.

Method:

Preheat oven to 375.  Whip eggs till beaten and bubbly in a bowl with a hand mixer.  Add in garlic and yogurt and blend some more.  Pour in olive oil and spices and beat again till well blended.  Pour in coconut flour to the liquids and beat till well mixed.  You want your batter to be around the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough — it won’t be thick enough to roll or form like traditional pizza dough and it shouldn’t be soupy like pancake batter.  Right in the middle is perfect.  Grease your pizza pan (I like stones the best) VERY liberally with butter.  Spare no butter on the stone!  Spoon crust batter onto the pan and with a spoon or spatula spread it out onto the pan.  It will be more of a thin crust pizza, but not TOO thin!  Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes till the edges brown and the dough is cooked through.  Take the crust out, place your desired toppings on it, and bake the pizza again till done.


Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza crust
1/2 medium to large butternut squash
1/4 cup butter
olive oil for sauteeing
1 small to med size onion, chopped and diced
1/4 cup parmesean cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
sage
salt

Method:

Bake your butternut squash. (I do this by slicing the squash lengthwise in half, placing it meat side down in a baking dish with 1-2 inches of water in it and baking it in the oven for about 1 hour on 350.)  Once squash is baked, scoop out the meat into a mixing bowl and add in your butter.  With a hand mixer, beat until mashed.  (I cooked the whole squash and just kept the remainder of what I didn’t use as leftovers. If you want to just cook what you need, I used about half a squash on one pizza.) While squash is baking, chop up your onion.  Pour olive oil into a pan and allow to heat.  Saute onion in the olive oil till just caramelized.  Spread mashed squash onto the pizza.  I like mine pretty thick since it’s the main ingredient, but don’t overload it either!  Sprinkle sauteed onion over the pizza.  Pour crumbled goat cheese over everything and dash it all with sage and salt of your desired amounts.  Bake in the oven at 350 for about 15 to 20 minutes, till ingredients are heated and goat cheese is mostly melted.

This recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, grain free, and soy free.

recipe: sweet potato brinner

Brinner.  Breakfast for dinner.  I can’t think of anything more delightful.  It’s become a Sunday tradition in our house — something you just expect to happen!  I decided to switch up the normal menu though by adding in Emily Levenson’s breakfast hash.  Well, more like improvise upon it.  Her recipe calls for black beans.  Which I have.  Except they’re dried.  I forgot to soak them.  Oops.  So, I just left them out, but everything else turned out awesometastic. On our food menu this week we have two of Emily’s recipes, actually.  This one and another that you may see later on.  What can I say?  The woman knows food!  I’ll post her original recipe here below:

Breakfast Hash

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato peeled and cubed
1 sweet onion, diced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 tbs dried oregano
3/4 cup broth (Emily’s calls for vegetable, I used bone broth)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper
olive oil

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet — add in onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and saute another 5-7 minutes until they brown.  Add garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and saute till fragrant (1-2 minutes).  Add broth and cook till all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Add black beans and corn and cook till heated through.  Toss in and stir fresh parsley.  Serve.

I served this with bacon and scrambled eggs prepared with galic, oregano, and topped with fresh goat cheese.  It all made a delicious breakfast trio!

The breakfast hash can be both vegetarian and vegan if made with vegetable broth.  It is gluten free, wheat free, egg free, and soy free.

Recipe: lemon herbed salmon over rice

It was only last year that I got into eating fish.  Before then, I’d just never explored it.  But now, fish — expecially salmon — is one of my favorite foods.  And wild caught salmon is SO good for you with its healthy fats and omega 3’s!  I must confess, I didn’t cook this meal in its entirety — in the middle of chopping carrots for our side dish, I cut my finger.  And I mean, I CUT my finger! So a big thanks to our roommate, JR, for helping me finish dinner and making some executive decisions on how the salmon should turn out while I tended to my wounds!

Lemon Herbed Salmon over Rice

Ingredients:

1 Salmon fillet (ours served five people!)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon
Herbs de Provence
(note: this is a French spice blend that includes thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, and lavender flowers, if you’d like to make your own.)

1 cup brown rice
1 cup wild rice
1/4 cup herb infused olive oil (optional)

Method:

Prepare your rice as normal and add in herb infused olive oil for some extra flavor if you wish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat liberally a baking pan/dish and place the salmon skin side down in the pan.  Drizzle olive oil onto the salmon to your liking.  Sprinkle the Herbs de Provence onto the salmon — about 1-2 tbs. (The lavender created such a wonderful and interesting dimension to the flavor!) Thinly slice rings of lemons and place them on top of the salmon.  Bake in the oven for approx 18-20 minutes, till the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.  Slice into individual portions and serve over a bed of the cooked brown/wild rice with your choice of side dish.  (We chose candied carrots)

This recipe is gluten free, egg free, and soy free, and the salmon alone is grain free.

Project Food Budget: Jan 1-6

I am so excited to be joining Project Food Budget, hosted by Emily Levenson over at her {Custom Made} Blog! This is part of my New Year’s goals — to do weekly menu planning and be more mindful of the budget, so her project is PERFECT! Let’s dive in, shall we?

This week’s goal:  $60
Actual: $52

(Since this was my first week of project food budget and a new year, it’s a bit off from the norm.  I took an inventory of my pantry and discovered there were a lot of foods I had to use up, so the majority of what was bought was additional!)

Menu:

Coffee Chicken with leftover Mashed Acorn Squash
Roasted Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Corn
Mexican Meatloaf with Green Beans
Baked Salmon with Wild Rice and Candied Carrots
Curried Chicken and Rice
Ground Beef Casserole with Baked Apples

——-> I will be posting a few of these recipes in the next few days, so check back for them! 

Also, be sure to check out the other awesome bloggers participating in Project Food Budget by heading on over to Emily’s {Custom Made} Blog.

The Benefits of Broth

This is the post in which I lose all of my vegetarian readers. 

I used to be vegetarian too, and I have nothing against it.  In an age of fast food, it can be a decent lifestyle to live.  But when I started experiencing issues with my fertility and my health, I began researching how the foods I eat play a role in how my body functions.  It may seem obvious that what we eat has a lot to do with our overall health, but I discovered its true benefits to depths that I never even considered before.

And that’s when I turned to traditonal foods and slow cooking.  I learned about how traditional foods contain essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep my body healthy, promote optimum nutrition, and can even work towards healing our body of various issues that weigh us down.  In the midst of modern diet fads, I’ve learned that the most healthy, nourishing path I have found is traditional foods — the whole foods that have stood the test of time and have been used for centuries by healthy societies. 

One of the most valuable foods I have found is bone broth

Bone broth/stock is one of the most traditional and oldest foods out there.  You’ll see it in every culture for centuries down the line.  And there’s a reason for that.  Bone broth is extremely healthy.  It is high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and trace minerals.  Bone broth is also known to give great relief to those suffering from arthritis and joint pains and inflammations because of the glucosamine and chondroiton it contains.  Most people know bone broth as a healer for colds, but it’s also important for people with Celiac to help restore vitamins and nutrients that we have a hard time absorbing in addition to helping heal digestive issues from Celiac along with other issues such as acid reflux and ulcers. 

The gelatin that comes from bone broth is also important in its own right.  French researchers found that gelatin aided many health concerns such as ulcers, diabetes, infectious diseases, and it helped to improve digestion in small children.  It contains non-essential amino acids that help detoxify your body.  Gelatin is also a supplemental protein that helps support your joints and connective tissues.  (And ladies, it will also help your hair, skin, and nails grow strong and shiny!)

A cure-all in traditional households and the magic ingredient in classic gourmet cuisine, stock or broth made from bones of chicken, fish and beef builds strong bones, assuages sore throats, nurtures the sick, puts vigor in the step and sparkle in love life–so say grandmothers, midwives and healers. For chefs, stock is the magic elixir for making soul-warming soups and matchless sauces.  — Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation

Hang tight, because this week, I’ll show you some tips and recipes to make your own bone broths at home.  You’ll be surprised at how easy and inexpensive it is to make your own broths and the many ways in which you can incorporate this super food into your diet.

(all images in this post were found via Pinterest)

Recipe: coffee chicken

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You may not think of coffee and chicken going together, but oh it certainly can! This recipe turned out to be quite different and was unlike a lot of other chicken recipe varieties that I’ve tried before, but both the husband and I liked it and it was good for a unique twist!

Baked Coffee Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

Three boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbs freshly ground coffee beans
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 tbs melted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take a baking dish and line it with aluminum foil. Place chicken breasts in the dish. Pour lemon juice and butter over the chicken. Mix together your coffee, brown sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper and spoon on top of the chicken breasts liberally. Cover the baking dish with more aluminum foil and bake in the oven till chicken is done, approx 45 minutes.

I served this wish a side of leftover mashed acorn squash and it was delicious! There’s a slight bit of roasted bitterness from the coffee that is nicely balanced out from the sugar. Due to the bitter accents of the chicken, I found that serving it with a sweeter side such as squash or baked apples paired quite nicely.

This recipe is gluten free, grain free, egg free, and soy free.