October 29, 2008

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins!!!

One of my favorite things about fall is winter squash (which includes pumpkins, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, etc). Not only does the winter squash “family” taste good, it’s also good for you! Winter squash is extremely high in vitamin A and antioxidants, and is a great source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber. So I say, bring on the squash! Being that Halloween is right around the corner, I’m going to focus on pumpkin for these recipes. But check back next week for more recipes with other types of squash. Keep in mind that when cooking with pumpkin, you should use sugar pumpkins. These are a smaller pumpkin that you can find at the farmer’s market or the grocery store. The pumpkins that you find at the pumpkin patch are great for carving, but tend to be stringy and do not taste as good.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds - The easiest recipe ever!
  • Preheat oven to 400

  • Scoop out the inside of the pumpkin (sugar pumpkins have the best seeds!)

  • Rinse off the seeds and pat dry.

  • Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt

  • Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes

  • Variations… Instead of sea salt, you can use the following: sea salt and pepper; mince fresh herbs and sprinkle on top; cayenne pepper; grate parmesan cheese on top; cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger… the list goes on and on… experiment and see what you like best!

    Chicken and Pumpkin Curry

    2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks, sprinkled with salt and pepper
    2 Tbsp. olive oil
    2 Tbsp. butter
    1 onion, chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 Tbsp. curry powder
    ¼ tsp. cloves
    2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1 pound sugar pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    salt and pepper

  • Heat oil and butter in a large pan. Add chicken, onion and pepper. Sauté until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

  • Add curry powder. Cook for a couple of minutes and stir to make sure the curry powder is well combined.

  • Add cloves, tomatoes, pumpkin, salt and pepper. Stir well to mix.

  • Cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally. When pumpkin is tender (15 – 20 minutes), stir in garlic and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes.

  • Serve hot over brown or wild rice.

  • Pumpkin Bread
    (So, I’m cheating a little on this one and using canned pumpkin. This is my grandmother’s recipe and my mom has made it since I can remember. It’s just not fall in my house without the pumpkin bread!)

    3 cups sugar
    1 cup oil
    4 eggs
    1 ½ tsp. salt
    1 tsp. nutmeg
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 2/3 cup of warm water
    2 cups canned pure pumpkin
    3 1/3 cups gluten free flour blend
    2 tsp. xanthan gum
    1 cup chopped walnuts

  • Combine sugar and oil, add the eggs. Stir in salt and spices and mix.

  • Stir in water with soda dissolved in it. Add pumpkin and mix well.

  • Gradually add flour and xanthan gum. Mix well.

  • Add nuts and mix into batter

  • Pour into 2 large, greased & floured loaf pans (9” X 5”)

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. It might take longer, depending on your oven. Check with a toothpick.

  • This can also be made in small muffin tins. Adjust baking time to 15 minutes.
  • October 27, 2008

    Flour Power

    While I prefer to bake without flour, sometimes it is necessary. With the holidays coming up, I will definitely be working on some recipes that will require flour. I have tried numerous gluten-free flour conversions and recipes over the years. This one, however, is by far the best. (Please note, though, that while this flour is great for cookies, cakes, muffins, etc, it is not good for making bread). You can blend it yourself or buy it. If you choose to buy it, Authentic Foods, www.authenticfoods.com , has this exact blend already packaged. It’s their GF Classical Blend. If you choose to blend it yourself, make sure that you blend it well and keep it in an airtight container.

    Gluten-Free Flour Blend
    2 cups brown rice flour
    2/3 cups potato starch
    1/3 cup tapioca starch

    You can use this blend cup for cup, if you are converting a recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 1½ cups of regular flour, you will use 1½ cups of this flour blend. It is also necessary, when using gluten free flours to add xanthan gum. Add approximately 1 tsp. of xanthan gum for each cup of gluten free flour blend.
    Happy Baking!!!

    October 22, 2008

    Pineapple and Cashew Quinoa

    Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is one of my favorite grains. There are so many wonderful properties of quinoa – great flavor, high in protein and oh so easy to prepare! Quinoa is a grain that is somewhat new in the United States. However, it has been a staple in the diet of South Americans for thousands of years. Quinoa is high in protein – 6 grams per ¼ cup (uncooked). And, even better, is that it is a complete protein, meaning it provides all eight of the essential amino acids! Quinoa is also a great source of manganese, magnesium and copper. It has a nutty flavor, is great by itself or with lots of ingredients added to it, and can be served hot or cold. It is important to rinse the quinoa before cooking, though. Just put it in a large bowl, cover with water and rinse it well. Pour it all into a fine mesh colander and you’re ready to cook!
    Here is one of my favorite ways to eat quinoa. It’s a little bit involved, but trust me, it is worth it!

    Pineapple Cashew Quinoa

    1 cup quinoa – don’t forget to rinse it!
    1 cup pineapple juice
    1 cup water
    ¼ tsp. gluten-free tamari
    ½ cup cashews, unsalted
    3 Tbsp. peanut oil
    2 scallions, thinly sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 inch piece of ginger, minced
    1 red bell pepper, diced
    1 cup of cooked edamame
    handful of fresh basil, chopped
    half a handful of fresh mint, chopped
    1 cup fresh pineapple (bite-sized chunks)
    3 Tbsp. gluten-free tamari
    3 Tbsp. chicken stock
    1 Tbsp. mirin


  • Make the quinoa – Combine quinoa, pineapple juice, water and tamari to a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook for approximately 14 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked (slightly translucent). When done, uncover and let cool. Once cool, place in the refrigerator until needed (can be left over night)

  • In a large skillet or wok, heat the cashews until lightly toasted (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.

  • On medium heat, add peanut oil, scallions and garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle, add the ginger and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and edamame. Stir fry until the edamame is bright green.

  • Add the basil and the mint, stir for a moment, then add the pineapple and the quinoa

  • In a small bowl, combine the tamari, chicken stock and mirin. Pour this mixture over the quinoa. Stir well and evenly coat the quinoa mixture. Continue to stir-fry for approximately 13 minutes. Be careful not to let the quinoa mixture burn. You will want to stir often.

  • Once the quinoa mixture is very hot, take off heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!
  • October 21, 2008

    A Nice Fall Treat - Poached Pears Recipe

    This past week I was in the Bay Area for a nutrition conference. It was a wonderful conference with a lot of great speakers and I am so glad that I attended. On the last day of the conference, one of the seminars was all about gluten-free and dairy-free cooking/baking with less sugar. It was like it was made just for me! Chef Rachel Albert- Matesz was the presenter and she demonstrated a few of her recipes, too. Chef Rachel is the author of two cookbooks, including The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes and Sauces. While I do not own the book, I am familiar with some of the recipes and would like to share one today. This recipe for poached pears is so good! While most recipes for poached pears have loads of sugar, this one has NO refined sugar in the recipe. And, trust me, you will not know that it is missing. This is a great dessert for fall and the cooler weather months. So, enjoy!

    Poached Pears with Raisins & Dried Apricots

  • ½ cup of raisins

  • ½ cup dried, pitted, unsulphured apricots, chopped coarsely (Turkish apricots work best here)

  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

  • 6 medium-sized pears

  • Zest of ½ and orange

  • 1 1/3 cups filtered water, divided

  • 1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

  • Directions:
  • Chop dried apricots into ¼ inch pieces. Combine them with the raisins and cinnamon in a large sauté pan.

  • Wash and peel pears and cut in half from end to end. Scoop out and discard the seeded center.

  • Arrange pears cut side down over the dried fruit mixture. Add orange zest and 1 cup of water. Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.

  • Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat – do not stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the pears are tender.

  • While the pears are simmering, dissolve the arrowroot in ¼ cup of cold water and set aside.

  • When pears are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a platter or individual serving bowls. Leave the dried fruit mixture in the pan. Stir the arrowroot mixture and then add it to the pan. Simmer over medium-high heat and stir until think and saucy. Spoon this mixture over the pears.

  • Serve warm, top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
  • October 14, 2008

    Snack Time

    It’s 4pm, lunch is over and dinner is still a few hours away. You feel the need for a little something to eat. That’s a good thing! It’s healthy to eat every few hours. It helps keep your glucose levels steady and energy and metabolism up… as long as you are eating the right things. Rather than reaching for a pre-packaged snack item, here are some easy, healthy and naturally gluten free snack ideas.

  • an apple or banana with almond butter

  • baby carrots, celery or bell pepper dipped in hummus

  • organic yogurt sprinkled with chia seed

  • a handful of raw almonds

  • a small can of tuna

  • hard boiled eggs

  • a small bowl of fresh berries

  • a handful of pumpkin seeds

  • a handful of sunflower seeds

  • half of an avocado - save the other half for tomorrow
  • October 12, 2008

    Restaurant - Leaf Cuisine

    Leaf Cuisine is my newest obsession. It's a great little restaurant that serves salads, wraps, soups and all sorts of smoothies and specialty drinks. They have locations in Culver City, Sherman Oaks and Redondo Beach and some of their items are also available at local Whole Foods Markets. I have to say that they have excellent food! To be fair, I have not tried EVERYTHING on the menu, but so far I am a huge fan of their smoothies, breakfast items and wraps. Yes, it is a raw food restaurant, but you don’t have to be a “raw foodie” to enjoy their food. Trust me – I do not adhere to a raw food diet and I would eat at Leaf any day of the week! Their smoothies are fabulous – I highly recommend the Tropical Trip. The Cinnamon Buns and the Oraweo Mousse are both heavenly – you would never know that they do not contain gluten or sugar. The best part? They use only organic, natural, whole foods – no refined sugars or factory produced ingredients here! They are also very careful to indicate which menu items contain gluten. Anything that contains gluten is clearly marked with a “G” next to it. Healthy food that is gluten free and tastes good? Now that’s a perfect combination!

    October 8, 2008


    We all remember the Chia Pet. Come on, who could forget?! However, long before the Chia Pet craze, the chia seed was a staple of Aztec and Mayan diets. It has even been documented that Aztec warriors subsisted on chia seeds during battle. I recently discovered just how good this seed could be. Not only does it taste good, is it a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and extremely rich in antioxidants. It is high in fiber, as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. Wow! That’s a superfood… and it’s gluten free! I like to sprinkle chia seed on top of yogurt or put it in a fresh fruit smoothie. It has a nutty flavor and adds a nice little crunch. It can be hard to find, but Whole Foods seems to have it on a regular basis. So, give it a try… and let me know what you think!

    October 6, 2008

    Recipe - Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

    Last week I posted about gluten free oats and the next day I came across a great recipe in Clean Eating Magazine. I made the recipe over the weekend and it was SO good. The perfect breakfast for a fall morning…

    Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

    ½ cup organic milk or almond milk
    ½ cup water
    1/3 cup gluten free oats
    couple pinches of cinnamon
    couple pinches of nutmeg
    1/8 cup canned pumpkin (Libby’s is gluten free)
    handful of sliced almonds
    agave nectar, to taste (optional)
    1/8 cup of water
    ½ scoop vanilla protein powder

  • In a small pot, bring milk and water to a boil over medium heat. Add oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed (7 – 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

  • Mix in pumpkin, almonds and agave (if using). Top with a little extra milk and stir.

  • In a separate bowl, combine water and protein powder. Mix until dissolved. Pour protein mixture over oatmeal, top with additional almonds and serve piping hot.
  • October 3, 2008


    So are oats gluten free or not?! Believe it or not, that’s a pretty big question! Naturally, oats do not contain gluten. However, gluten is often found in oats because of cross-contamination. The oats are harvested right next to the wheat or are planted in soil that used to contain wheat, so they become contaminated. But now, a gluten free family in Wyoming is offering gluten free oats. That’s right – you can have your oats and eat them too! The company is aptly named Gluten Free Oats. Their website contains quite a bit of information on their oats and their testing practices. I started buying their oats last year and I love them! It’s so nice to be able to have a bowl of oatmeal again. If you do decide to purchase their oats, try a little bit at a time to see how you react. Better safe than sorry!

    One of my favorite ways to prepare oatmeal…
    Just before it is done, add half of a chopped apple and some cinnamon. Add a touch of raw honey or pure maple syrup, if desired, for added sweetness. Top with slivered almonds or chopped walnuts. Your own apple-cinnamon oatmeal – without all the preservatives and chemicals of the “fake” stuff!

    October 2, 2008

    Sweet Tooth

    So your sweet tooth is calling, but you want to be healthy? This is a common occurrence for me! When a banana or some baby carrots just won't cut it, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite, easy to assemble sugar alternative snacks. All gluten free, of course… Sinfully yummy, without the added sugar!

  • Blend frozen peaches, rice milk, honey

  • Mash a frozen banana with walnuts. Not only does it taste good, but also the walnuts will help slow down the absorption of the sugar. Top with a little bit a coconut milk for a real treat!

  • Blend frozen bananas with coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamom

  • Blend a frozen banana, frozen organic blueberries, hemp milk

  • Dates mashed and mixed with coconut butter. Roll into balls, lightly coat with coconut oil and sprinkle with desiccated coconut

  • Yam or sweet potato custard...add milk/cream, eggs, blend with cooked yams, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and nutmeg. Bake in the oven in a bain-marie

  • Coconut butter mixed with organic cocoa and raw honey. Add a mashed banana to this for a little more sweetness

  • 1/3 cup of organic heavy cream and whip until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Add 1 cup of frozen organic dark cherries or frozen organic blackberries and blend in with the cream. If it’s not sweet enough for your taste, add a few drops of agave nectar or stevia. (This makes enough for more than a few servings)
  • October 1, 2008

    Recipe - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

    Each week I will post at least one recipe. It will be gluten free of course, but I bet your friends and family won’t even know. Just because you’re gluten free doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on taste or quality! Of course, I’ll try to post healthy recipes, but every once in a while a little dessert is in order!

    So, today, to kick off the recipes for this blog, I’ll start with Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. This is an easy one! It does not require any flour substitutes, thus no gluten-free flour conversions. And, these cookies are always a hit! I often have people ask for the recipe. They are perfect for a BBQ, to take to someone's home, or just to keep on hand every once in a while for a treat.
    Enjoy! And let me know how you like it...

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    ¾ cup sugar
    1 large egg, slightly beaten
    ½ tsp. baking soda
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ¾ cup of dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
    ½ cup raw peanuts, roughly chopped

  • Preheat oven to 350

  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper

  • In a large bowl, stir peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined

  • Stir in chocolate and peanuts

  • With wet hands, roll dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet

  • Bake until cookies are golden and puffy – approximately 13 minutes

  • Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack
  • Living gluten free... naturally