Creamy Low Carb Italian Dinner

Last week, I decided to change up an old standby recipe and make it Italian. I’ve tried it two ways and the one I prefer is here. This is a crock pot recipe and really blends the flavors well. If you work from home or fix this on a weekend, you get to smell the aroma of the vegetables blending all day! The sweet peppers really add the punch needed to make this special. The mozzarella ‘cheese’ turns the tomato juice in the petite diced tomatoes and water released from the zucchini into a lovely cream sauce for the meat and vegetables. (I tried it with an extra zucchini the second time, but it made the second attempt too watery for the cream sauce to come through well.) As with all my recipes, this one is guten and grain free, dairy and soy free, low carb and low cholesterol.

Ingredients:

1 pkg. Jennie-O ground turkey, lean (I didn’t like it with the extra lean. It was too dry for me.)

1 organic sweet onion, large, chopped

2 cans petite diced tomatoes

1 pkg frozen organic chopped spinach, or 2 pkgs organic fresh spinach

2-3 small organic sweet Italian peppers, chopped (not bell peppers, though if you wanted to try that, it would make the dish something entirely different)

1 pkg Daiya Mozzarella Shreds

about 1/2 to 1 tsp of garlic powder, basil, and oregano (basically to taste; start smaller and add more later to the pot if it still needs it for your particular taste buds.)

*Optional, try adding 1 lb. organic cut asparagus with the onion, peppers, and spinach

Procedure:

Chop the onions, peppers, and if you choose, the optional asparagus. Put the ground turkey from the package into the crockpot. Add the vegetables you’ve chopped, and include the two cans of diced tomatoes. Add in the seasonings. Turn the crockpot onto high and put the cover on. After about 3-4 hours, chop the zucchini and add it along with the spinach and the package of Daiya cheese. Check seasonings and add more if you feel it needs the extra boost of flavor. This recipe should be complete after about 6-8 hours depending on your crockpot. If you know your crock pot needs a full 8 hours to be ready, wait until about 5-6 hours before adding the zucchini, spinach, and cheese. I prefer my zucchini soft, but not mushy. The house smelled wonderfully Italian all day! The cheese really surprised me with how lovely and creamy the sauce turned out. I felt this could become a serious favorite for me. It has turned out to be a quick and easy gormet dinner. I hope you agree!

 

 

Coconut Flour Polentas

Taos may be my muse for recipes! Here’s another truly delicious recipe using coconut flour for all those who are not just gluten free, but low carb as well!  Coming up with sides for Italian dishes without having to use pasta is difficult at best. As I was looking through a recipe magazine, okay, it was Cooking Light, I came across a polenta recipe and automatically thought, ‘I wonder….’ So that evening, I gave it a try. Olive oil, coconut flour, and more chicken stock than I thought it would take, a few seasonings, and punch the sky! Wow! I loved it! A coconut flour polenta! Since I’m corn free due to allergy to corn, I love that coconut flour makes a polenta in less than half the time it takes to make a corn polenta! I’ve made it in several varieties at this point and these options will be posted at the end. I’ve decided that the Daiya cheese makes it richer and creamier, so I made it a part of the recipe. If you can’t use Daiya cheese, the recipe will still work without it. A new category of flavor with coconut flour! I’m really pumped!

Also, since I’ve gone off eggs too, (yeah, I know, I can’t eat anything!), the coconut flour bread recipes I’ve made need revision to include the egg substitute I think works best with coconut flour in my bread recipes. Until that happens, I’ve got this recipe to change up in multiple ways to make meals more interesting.

Recipe may be doubled, tripled, etc.

Ingredients:

3 T organic olive oil

1/4 – 1/3 C organic coconut flour

2 C organic chicken stock (if vegetarian or vegan, try vegetable stock)

1/4 t each onion and garlic powder

4 oz. Daiya Cheese (I prefer Cheddar shreds)

Instructions:

Put the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and add the coconut flour, stirring until it gets warm. Begin adding the chicken stock a half cup at a time. The coconut flour will thicken up quickly(!) after each addition of stock so stay with it until its saturated. It will remain as thick as you like. If you prefer more liquid for a thinner polenta, just add extra stock untill you are satisfied. Add seasonings and Daiya cheese. Continue to let it cook for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixed into the polenta completely. Ready to enjoy immediately, or store in the sauce pan in the refrigerator until needed. I sometimes use mine for a late night snack when I’m out of other allergy free snack foods. As always, this recipe is gluten and corn free, dairy and soy free and low carb.

Options:

for a Mexican Polenta, add half a package of Daiya PepperJack shreds instead of the cheddar, 1/4 t each paprika (I use the smoked variety, or try a chili powder of your choice if the cheese isn’t providing the heat you crave) and cumin, or even go with chopped tomato, onion, and poblano or jalepeno chili pepper. You could top with avocado slices.

for a more traditional Italian Polenta, keep the 1/4 t onion and garlic powder, and add 1/2 pkg Daiya Mozzerella shreds, and you could try shredded basil or oregano too…or both! This recipe could also handle chopped roasted garlic (instead of the powdered version),and chopped roasted Roma tomatoes.

for more Gormet Polenta options, try adding chopped mushrooms, capers, chopped olives, chopped pecans (or pine nuts or pistachios), chopped red bell pepper, etc

for a Holiday Polenta, add the chopped mushrooms, pecans, celery, onion, and dried cherries or apples, also chopped, and rubbed sage. Use it to replace the usual  stuffing or dressing with your holiday bird by using less stock and baking it in a pan next to the bird.

I’m beginning to think the options may be endless!

Jazzed Zucchini

Here I am at the cabin in Taos, and I need to fix a vegetable dish. I have the zucchini, some cilantro for a Mexican dish, and sun dried tomatoes for Italian salads. Hmmm, zucchini works for both Italian and Mexican vegetable dishes, so…what if I put them together with some bacon?! It won’t be Italian, Mexican or any culture’s quisine, but a totally new dish. One, of course, that I might cross off the list as a flat failure, but risk brings some surprising rewards. Lucky for me, it worked! The flavors blend beautifully! I have repeated it several times, altering spices, exchanging bacon for olive oil, but I like the original inspiration the best. Here it is:

Ingredients:

2 organic zucchini squash, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 c jullienne cut, herb sun dried tomatoes

1/3 bunch organic cilantro, chopped

two slices natural uncured bacon, such as Hormel Natural

Instructions:

Pan fry the bacon in a medium hot pan until just crisp, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan to flavor the rest of the ingredients. Chop the zucchini and add to the bacon drippings. When the zucchini begins to brown on the edges, turn the heat down to warm and add the sun dried tomatoes. Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro and the crumbled bacon. Its really just that quick and easy! A visual feast for the eyes as well as for the taste buds!

If you are vegan or watching cholesterol closely (I actually take off the large sections of fat on the bacon), try olive oil rather than the bacon. It will diminish the overall effect, but is still quite good.

Serves 2-4.

Another great gluten free, dairy free, soy and corn free recipe from Becky! Enjoy!

 

Garlicy Italian Bread

This recipe was one of the bread recipes that occurred to me  when I was planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas, creating recipes that would work for the family and for my serious allergies. This one works well as a bread, as crutons for salad or French Onion soup, and even for stuffing/dressing for the turkey. Its simple to make and delicious to eat, and solves several bread issues we, who cannot use any grain or higher carb breads, normally encounter. As with all my recipes, this bread is gluten and dairy free, soy and corn free, and low carb.

Ingredients:

1 C organic coconut flour

3/4 C organic olive oil

3 Eggland’s Best organic eggs

6 organic egg whites in a carton

1 T onion powder

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 t dried basil

optional: 1 pkg Dayia Mozzarella style cheese shreds

1 t baking soda

1/2 t cream of tarter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; coat a loaf pan with olive oil. Mix together the coconut flour, olive oil, eggs, seasonings, and leavening agents. The batter will be thick, so it won’t pour, but more like ‘plop’ into the loaf pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean, but not much longer as coconut bread can get dry and crumbly. This bread is delicious with Italian dishes, soups, salads, and can be used in stuffing/dressing for Thanksgiving. Its one of my staples in my allergy free kitchen! I hope you enjoy it!

For French Onion soup crutons, slice and quarter each slice, then toast, using two quarters for each bowl of soup.

For salad and stuffing crutons, slice bread, cube, and toast. For the stuffing you won’t need as much as you do with ordinary bread cubes, as this bread is more dense and holds up well to the mixing and cooking methods used for making bread stuffing.

For Thanksgiving or Christmas stuffing, cube bread as you would for other versions, only that for this one you’ll need less bread as it is much more substantial than grain breads. I would suggest about a third to half less. Add to your traditional vegetables and herb/spice combination and blend just before serving.

 

 

 

Coconut Flour Sausage Balls

Once I found out that I couldn’t handle even nongluten grains, I came across coconut flour, and my world began to open back up a bit. When I found Daiya cheeses, it opened up again even more. When the holidays rolled around again, I decided to make Sausage Balls, only this time using coconut flour, Daiya cheese, turkey sausage, and olive oil. They made a great substitute for the original, and most of the family couldn’t tell the difference. If you have multiple allergies as I do, you might want to give it a try! They make a great brunch recipe, light lunch or supper recipe, holiday recipe, or a snack to carry with you if you think you may need to eat before you get back home from your errands. I’m living right now without dairy, grains, soy, corn, and low carb, and this recipe fits all these food issues.

Ingredients:

3/4 C organic coconut flour

8 oz package of Daiya cheese, I use the cheddar version, shredded

1 1lb. organic bulk turkey sausage, uncooked (I found mine at Whole Foods)

enough olive oil to get the coconut flour to bind with the other ingredients to make the balls

Procedure:

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the coconut flour, Daiya cheese, sausage, and olive oil together in a medium mixing bowl; I use my hands, which is a bit like playing with Play Dough. Make the 1-2 inch balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat in your oven. When they look golden brown, pull them out and let them cool a bit. A great treat for those of us who have multiple allergies!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

I am a chocolate fanatic! Going through a cleansing diet and not having chocolate was one of the hardest parts of the diet. Luckily, it turned out I wasn’t allergic to chocolate, just to the dairy, soy and corn that are often in chocolate treats. I also later found out I couldn’t handle even non gluten flours or sugars of any type, due in part to being hypoglycemic but also due to candida, a possible irritant to auto immune related health issues (see musingsonsanctuary.com/candida alert). This is a coconut flour bread so that it is low carb and  gluten free. It is also dairy free, soy free and corn free. Besides all that, hey its good!

Ingredients:

1 C organic coconut flour

1/2 C organic cocoa (if you are allergic to cocoa, try carob instead!)

1 C Earth Balance soy free buttery spread

1/2 C organic olive oil

3 eggs ( I use Eggland’s Best) (If you can’t use eggs, try flax seeds; I understand they make a great egg alternative for baking; I can’t use flax as it has too much phosphorus for my body and make me achey.)

7 organic egg white (see above note about egg allergies)

4 droppers full of liquid Stevia (I can’t use Truvia right now as the erythritol is corn based)

1 T ground cinnamon

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t cream of tarter

1 t salt (only if you feel the need; I never bake with salt!)

Add a dollop of coconut cream with a dash of vanilla and a dusting of cocoa for a dessert!

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees; grease a medium loaf pan. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and plop (yes, plop! The batter is thick, so it doesn’t pour!) into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. If your oven heats warmer than average, check the bread a couple of minutes early. Pull it out when a toothpick comes out of the center clean, but before it gets more than slightly browned on top. Coconut flour does not rise as much as grain flour breads do, so don’t think you’ve made a mistake if its not as high as you thought it would be. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Coconut flour baked goods can crumble if handled too early, and can stick to the pan if left too long. You might try adding 1 C nuts and or chocolate chips…or both! I can’t do them right now, but hope to in the future! Chocolate Cinnamon Bread…mm-mmm! and so good to know its without so many of the common allergens, dairy, gluten, soy and corn free, and low carb. Great to know a breakfast or dessert bread can be so healthy too!

Lemony Lemon Bread

Once I started working with coconut flour for allergy free and low carb bread products, I started experimenting with flavored breads. Cinnamon Apple, Italian, Chili Cheese, Chocolate Cinnamon and Lemony Lemon Bread. Some of these are great with dinner and others are wonderful as a breakfast bread or dessert bread. Lemony Lemon Bread is one of the latter. I’ve made it twice now, so I think the recipe is secure enough to post it for you! I’m toying with the idea of creating several sauces to put with it, but for now, the recipe is delightful on its own!

Ingredients:

1C organic coconut flour

3/4 C organic olive oil

9 organic eggs or 3 organic eggs and 6 organic egg whites

2 droppers full of stevia

3 T lemon juice

1/2 t lemon extract

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t cream of tarter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium loaf pan or two small ones. Mix flour, eggs, oil, and the rest of the ingredients together. Batter will be thick. Turn out the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes depending on your oven. The bread should have risen some (though not as much as a grain bread would) and the peaks should be a golden or light brown. Take it out and check for doneness with a toothpick in the center. If it’s still unset, let it bake for another couple minutes…only. The goal is to have bread that is cooked just enough to be soft because coconut flour, when it gets dry, is very dry and much less enjoyable. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan. It can stick if left much longer, and if attempted as soon as it emerges from the oven, it may crumble. Coconut has different qualities than gluten based or grain based breads and needs different treatment.

This delicious bread has satisfied my dessert needs many an evening. The lemony flavor is surprisingly sweet enough to be mouth watering and completely delightful. I usually divide it and put half in the freezer and the other half in the refrigerator for regular use. Enjoy!

 

Candida Alert!

Well, It seems that the reason I’ve not been getting well, and therefore not posting as often as I’d like, just might be due to Candida. I may be one of those rare people who lives with Candida hidden in the body organs and body systems without realizing it. I have had several severe Candida overblooms (what we call a Candida ‘infection’ since the body always has Candida in it.) One came the year of my separation and the first year I taught, while trying to get my kids back to believing they were valuable human beings. I had ignored my own body while taking care of so many new and critical needs around me. I was swimming in responsibilities. It turned out that I had three versions of Candida in my body: the traditional yeast infection, Thrush, and urinary. When the symptoms left with the medications I’d taken, I thought Candida was a thing of the past. However, a year later, I showed up lactose intolerant. Speed forward another ten years and I felt that the weight I’d been gaining and the lack of energy I’d been feeling might be a thyroid problem. It turned out another ten years later that it was, but by then, I had had another bout with Candida that took six months to get rid of. Or so I thought. I’d already come down with Fibromyalgia while doing my parents’ estates, and had a very itchy, sore, rash on my elbows. That turned out to be Psoriasis. Now all these health issues are autoimmune related, so the solution was to go off gluten, dairy, and do a cleanse to see what other allergens or irritants I had.

While working on this diet and testing grains and sweets occasionally, I had three more Candida overblooms that each left me feeling as bad as I had before starting the cleanse. By the fourth, I decided to check the internet for information about Candida and autoimmune disease. BINGO! there it all was. Candida can be the root cause behind all my allergies and autoimmune symptoms. I immediately began a tougher regimine than I’d already been on. The reason? Candida feeds on carbs, whether starchy or sweet ones. Okay, I’d already figured out that sugar was hard on me and so were beans and grains. Now, no fruits, except blackberries and an occasional very tart apple. EEK!!! Fruit had been my dessert three times a day. This was as difficult as the entire cleansing diet was without grains, beans, nightshades, nuts and seeds. Fruit has always been a major staple in my diet, and became even more important after starting the cleanse.

After being on the new meds and off fruits, and going through a long ‘die off’ period, the time when one’s symptoms get worse because the Candida is dying and being removed from the body, and suffering through a reaction to A-FNG, I’ve begun to improve. I know I will probably need to up the meds again in order to continue to improve, but for now, I am extrememly grateful that there is such a thing as free internet where people can post their experiences and how they dealt with them. More updates later!

Allergy Free Broccoli Cheese Soup

I began trying dairy free recipes with Daiya cheese about a year ago. This and allergy free sausage balls were the first to come out of the creative process. Its not the Velveeta version; that would be overly extravegant since vegan cheese is an expensive process, but it is sooooo delicious when cooked! And this version really warms and fills the belly on cold winter days! Add an apple, pear or small salad to get your crunch for the meal!

This recipe can be made vegan by simply changing out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Ingredients:

1 organic yellow Texas onion, chopped

1 pkg frozen chopped organic broccoli (if you want to cut up your own broccoli, one good head should be relatively equivalent)

Several Tbsp olive oil

1 container organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegan version)

2 C organic coconut milk (or other alternate milk such as almond or flax)

1 pkg Daiya cheddar cheese, either shredded or solid (which would need to be cubed)

Several dashes of nutmeg

Pepper and optional salt, to taste

Instructions:

Heat skillet with the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion and broccoli; let cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the broth and seasonings and allow to simmer till reduced by about half. Add the coconut milk and Daiya cheese and reheat until simmering and the cheese is melted. Its ready to enjoy! oo-oo-oo! I have some in the fridge, and my taste buds are telling me I will have to eat it tomorrow! As with all these recipes, this is dairy and gluten free, soy and corn free, and low carb!

 

 

Allergy free Cream of Asparagus Soup

I gave this one a whirl when I first started making my own allergy free recipes, but somehow I neglected getting it onto the blog. Its really one of my very favorites! I restrain myself until late winter, spring and early summer bring in the smaller and more tender stalks. Baby asparagus! Mmmmm! They also go on sale sometimes during this season. I’ve been watching! It’s almost upon us! Give it a try! As with all my recipes, this one is dairy and gluten free, soy and corn free, and low carb. If you find an ingredient you have a personal allergy to, please eliminate it or make a substitution.

Ingredients:

1 bunch organic asparagus

1 organic yellow onion

several Tbls olive oil

1 clove organic garlic, minced

1 container organic chicken broth

2 C organic coconut milk (substitute almond, flax or some other milk if you are sensitive to coconut)

Sprinkle or two of nutmeg

Sprinkle of back pepper (and Kosher or sea salt if desired)

Instructions:

Chop the onion and cook over medium heat until tender and nearly transparent; chop the asparagus, add to the onions and continue cooking untill tender. Add the garlic, nutmeg, pepper, and optional salt. Combine well. Add broth and allow it to reduce to about half. Add coconut milk; adjust seasonings. Mmmm! I almost can’t get enough of this one!