The Oscars and a Freestyle Mexican Dip

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Last year I went all out for the Oscars.  We ordered pizza.  I ate 2 slices and washed it down with some Barq’s Root Beer.  Then I proceeded to push out a 9 lb baby in our bathroom 5 hours later 😉  Glad I won’t be doing that again!  3 boys and done!

This year I decided to keep it simple.  Some freestyle Mexican inspired dip: refried black beans, minced beef, and some delicious guacamole.

There will be no more Oscars and pizza nights in our house since I’ve finally made the leap into being 100% gluten free.  I’ve been wanting to do it for years but I never tried hard enough because I was scared to let go of some much loved favourites: pain au chocolat, really good bread, and wood oven pizza (specifically Cremini Mushroom Pizza at Pizzeria Libretto if you’re a Torontonian. Yum!).  But as I continue on this health journey I couldn’t deny my body what it needed, and that’s a very clean diet.

Thankfully it’s not a very big leap from our current diet since our kitchen has been 100% gluten free for years.  We saved the gluten for the occasional pizza, wings, or restaurants.  I’m super excited to see the me I can be without gluten!

Alright, here’s what was on tonight’s menu:

Refried Black Beans

I’m not entirely sure this is the Mexican way, but it’s my way, and it’s delicious!

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Place onion, garlic, and butter in a large pan and cook over medium/low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the black beans and mash with a potato masher.  Add the cumin, sea salt, and chicken stock, and mash once again.  Once they’re as mashed as they’re going to get – you’re done!

Mexican Minced Beef

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (more if you like spice)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Brown the beef and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes to boil off some of the tomato water.

Guacamole (this amazing version not pictured because I was also watching an overtired and crying baby while preparing dinner)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 avocados, mashed with a fork
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • optional: 1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Mash avocados with a fork and then add the rest of the ingredients.  If it doesn’t taste amazing, then there are 2 things you have to play with: the amount of sea salt and the amount of lime juice.  Play with these until this is the best guacamole you’ve ever tasted.

Other potential players:

  • tortilla chips (non-GMO)
  • diced tomatoes
  • organic old cheddar cheese
  • olives
  • hot sauce
  • jalapenos
  • whatever else you want to eat with your delicious freestyle Mexican dinner!

A shout out to Yuri for taking the beautiful photo while I wrestled the food to the table for our 3 little boys!

I put the dishes in individual serving bowls and let the kids assemble their dinner as they wished, which meant that Oscar ate a bowlful of guacamole and Luca ate 2 tortilla chips after filling his plate with them, declaring “I done!” and running away to play with a truck puzzle.  While they ate, I put Arlo out of his misery by giving him a bottle and then put him to bed.  And then I finally got to eat!  Dinner as usual in our house!

 

German Chocolate Cupcakes

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These babies have been a long time in the making.  I’ve been working on the recipe on and off forever, making them now and then but never really getting excited about them – until now!

I’m really glad I didn’t post them earlier because I’m on a low carbohydrate mission in all of my recipes these days.  There is so much unnecessary sugar in modern day food – it drives me crazy.  I had a muffin last week in a moment of weakness and I went into a sugar coma immediately after.  No wonder I was a walking zombie every day in high school, having delicious sugar-rich cookies every. single. day.  I literally lived off of sugar!  I do not want my kids suffering the same fate, but I also don’t want to deprive them of treats.

I made so many cupcakes testing this recipe that we had them for breakfast the next day along with 2 pints of blueberries.  No sugar crash.  No mommy guilt.  And very happy kids.

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 16 drops stevia (I use Now’s French Vanilla)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 silicone cups individually greased with coconut oil.

Mash up the banana very well, then add the eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and stevia.

Combine almond flour, cocoa, sea salt, and baking soda, and add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Stir well.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (dry).

Let cool in the pan at least 20 minutes.  Hollow out the middle with a tsp.  Ice liberally with the chocolate ganache (careful not to fill the hole) and fill with the coconut filling!

Filling:

  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup coconut cream (solid mass in a can of full fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 16 drops liquid stevia

Place egg yolks and 1 tbsp water in a large bowl.  Place the bowl over an inch of  barely simmering water, and whisk until the eggs thicken, about 5 minutes. Add coconut cream and stir until melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in pecans, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and stevia. Set aside.

Ganache:

  • 8 oz good quality 70% cacao chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat source and add the coconut cream. Stir to melt the cream. The coconut cream brings down the heat of the chocolate. The mixture will thicken and you can immediately ice the cupcakes (after they have cooled a little).

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Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

When I started this journey into healthy eating it became apparent straight away that I was addicted to sugar.  While my eating habits have changed completely over the past 10 years, the sugar monster remains at some level.  My sugar of choice has always been chocolate, and although I eat the healthiest form of it, I am still guilty of eating too much of it sometimes.

Taming the monster.

The best defense is a good offense, so traditional candy doesn’t make it into the house.  But I do have a healthy stock of organic, fair trade, 70% or more cocoa chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and chocolate chunks.  Under normal conditions, I don’t reach for them.  But as soon as you add the stress of parenting 3 young boys, I can eat an entire 100g chocolate bar in just a few minutes!

Wanting to dive into the chocolate this morning in a fit of stress, I decided that I would only have a little piece.  And this time, I knew that’s all I would have.  Usually a little bit turns into a lot of little bits, but this time was different because I had a plan.

This hot chocolate is the best defense I’ve had in awhile.  I didn’t add any sweetener at all – just whatever is in the 70% chocolate itself, but you may add a little stevia, erythritol, or honey if you wish.  Though, I challenge you to drink it as written – without any added sweetener.  I liked it immediately and didn’t need any sugar, but of course, I am motivated to limit my sugar intake in the name of health.  This just may be the sword that slays my inner sugar monster for good.

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Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 0.5 oz 70% cocoa chocolate (amount pictured above)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat and whisk until both combined and desired temperature is reached.

 

 

“Cheesy” Turmeric Broccoli

I think I’ve teased you all long enough with the pictures of this delicious sauce!  It reminds me a lot of the cheese and flour sauce that my mom used to make to get us to eat cauliflower.  But now, the sauce is made of cauliflower!

The nutritional yeast gives the sauce its cheesiness so make sure you have it on hand.  Don’t worry, it’s an inactive yeast so it won’t add to any candida issues.  Plus, it’s full of B vitamins to give you an energy and nutrient boost!

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Cheesy Turmeric Broccoli

  • 2 heads of broccoli – about 8 cups of florets

Cheese Sauce:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

In a large soup pot, sauté the onion in coconut oil over medium heat. After 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the cauliflower and chicken stock to the pot and cover.  Cook over medium high heat until the cauliflower is tender.

Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a high speed blender and add the nutritional yeast, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Blend well.

Lastly, place the broccoli in a large pot with an inch of water in the bottom.  Steam the broccoli for 3-5 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.  Drain broccoli and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the broccoli well, transfer to a bowl and top with cheese sauce.

Coconut Macaroon Cookies

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I’ve been meaning to make something like these for a long time and finally got around to it yesterday!  As always, I made sure to get the sugar down to a minimum, and these certainly don’t disappoint.  Everyone who has tried them has said, “These are healthy?”  Well, they’re as healthy as I could get them!  I mean, they’re not a spinach salad.  They’re still cookies!

But unlike a lot of the Christmas goodies you’ll cross paths with, they’re extremely low in sugar, which means you can eat them and not turn into the grinch 30 minutes later.  Each cookie has only 1/2 tsp of maple syrup.

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Coconut Macaroon Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 15 drops stevia (I use Now’s French Vanilla flavour)
  • ½ cup coconut milk, canned, full fat
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp sea salt

For the chocolate topping:

  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 325F and place a silpat sheet over a cookie tray.

In a large bowl, mix together the coconut, almond flour, and sea salt.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, and then add the stevia, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract.  Stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.

Drop dough in tablespoon amounts onto the silpat sheet.  Roll them into balls and then flatten them with your fingers.

Cook at 325F for 22-25 minutes.

As the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate.  Place an inch of water in a medium sized pot and bring it to a simmer.  Place a bowl over the simmering water and add the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  Stir frequently until all the chocolate has melted.  If you need to thin the chocolate, you can add more coconut oil.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and drizzle over the cooled cookies.  Refrigerate.

Keep the cookies in the fridge until ready to serve!

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Pear Crisp with Salted Caramel Sauce

Our family loved apple crisp growing up.  I can still recall the taste of it – So sweet.  When I got older and started making it myself, I cringed at the amount of sugar used in recipes!  This revamped recipe calls for pears for the sole reason that I didn’t have any apples and didn’t want to go to the store.  This recipe has 3 tbsp of maple syrup instead of the TWO CUPS of sugar the original called for…yikes.

If you choose not to make salted caramel sauce, I would recommend doubling the amount of crumble.  I went light on it knowing that I was going to pour a little extra sugar on top, and the result was perfect.

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Pear Crisp

Filling:

  • 6 cups chopped organic Bosc pears
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp gluten free flour

Topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup almond four
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cut up the pears and mix in the cinnamon and flour.  Pour into an 8×8 inch pan.

For the topping, place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well, melting the coconut beforehand in a pan if need be.

Using your fingers, drop the topping mixture on top of the pears.

Cook at 350F for 35-40 minutes.

For the salted caramel sauce, if you’re lucky enough to have runny almond butter, just mix the ingredients in a bowl.  Otherwise, place all ingredients in a blender.  If your sauce isn’t runny, add more coconut milk to thin it out.

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Lamb Zucchini Boats

Lamb, rosemary, and mint.  The perfect combination to sail away in a zucchini boat!

Yes, it is a little annoying to hollow out the boats, but I love the presentation of it and it really doesn’t take that long.  If you aren’t partial to boats you can just chop up the zucchini and add it to the pot with the lamb mixture.  I won’t take it personally.

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Lamb Zucchini Boats

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Wash and cut the stalk end off of the zucchinis.  Cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Place the zucchini on a baking tray and set aside.

Set oven to 400 F.

In a pot over low/medium heat, cook the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the ground lamb and cook until no longer pink.

Add the mint, rosemary, lemon juice, spinach, salt and pepper, and cook until the spinach wilts.

Carefully spoon the lamb mixture into the zucchini.

Cook at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Here is my go-to recipe for snack day at my kids’ school.  It’s simple enough that you can make it even when a baby is crying for a bottle, and up to two other kids are driving you nuts – and you need to get them all in a car 20 minutes from now. GO!

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Roasted Garlic Hummus

  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil for frying
  • 1 can chick peas (19 oz), liquid reserved
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • ½ tsp salt
  • olive oil to garnish

Put the garlic cloves and coconut oil in a pan over low heat and cook until fragrant but not burned. About 5 minutes

Place garlic, chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, and salt in a high speed blender with about 1/4 cup of the chick pea liquid to get the blender moving.  Blend until smooth, using the temper as much as needed to push the blending mixture around.

Add as much or as little liquid as you would like to get the thickness you desire. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with a good quality olive oil.

Creamy Chicken Soup

There are a lot of soups that I used to enjoy as a kid that came out of a can.  Cream of chicken soup was one of them.  I’m almost certain that I would feel ill if I tried to eat them today.  And while making soup from scratch take a little more effort, you are rewarded with amazing flavour and quality that you can feel good about feeding your family!

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Creamy Chicken Soup

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 5 cups organic chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste (I think I used approx a tsp of sea salt)

Chop up the onion, celery, and carrots and place in a large soup pot with the coconut oil or butter over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Add the flour and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken broth and thyme and bring to a boil. Chop up the raw chicken breast into bite sized pieces and add to the boiling soup. Turn down the heat to low/medium and simmer for 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked.

Transfer soup to a high-speed blender and add the coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Return soup the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

Roasted Tomato Salmon

On a day when I thought I had no food in the house, this recipe was born.  I’d never attempted a fish recipe before because admittedly, I am NOT a fish person.  Historically, the only fish I’ve ever really liked is smoked salmon, and even then it had to be accompanied with loads of cream cheese, capers, red onion, dill, and lemon juice.

SO, when I came up with this recipe it was a pretty big shock at how amazing it is.  I think it’s probably the new house favourite.  It was so good that I had seconds.  Everyone had seconds – even the kids.  I would go so far as to say that this is probably my new favourite dinner recipe, so if you’re reading these words I kindly ask you to make it asap and report back here!

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Roasted Tomato Salmon

  • 2 lbs salmon (3 fillets)
  • 1 14 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, milled (or powdered coriander)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, milled (or powdered fennel)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 400F.

Place two large pieces of tin foil side by side on a baking sheet and fold them together accordion style so they make one large piece of tin foil.

Chop up the onion and garlic and toss it in a large bowl along with the diced tomatoes (including the juice).

If you have coriander and fennel seeds, place them in a coffee grinder and grind until fine.  I like to grind my seeds myself so they are fresh and aromatic. I find buying seeds in their powdered form don’t have quite as much flavour.  Add the fennel, coriander, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper to the tomato mixture and stir well.

Spoon 1/4 of the tomato mixture onto the middle of the tin foil and place the salmon on top, pink side up.

Spoon the rest of the tomato mixture over the salmon and then fold the foil together on top followed by the sides so that it is airtight.

Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes at 400 F.

When you take the salmon out of the oven, the salmon should be slightly pink/raw in the middle. This is exactly what you want. Let it sit and rest for 5-10 minutes so it can rest/finish cooking and then enjoy!