Category Archives: Gluten-Free

quinoa for days

raw quinoaQuinoa, the ever popular super grain. This splendid grain is popular for a reason (actually many!)- it has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains. It is also a complete protein, contains more calcium than milk, is high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, and Vitamin E, is gluten-free, strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs, and is ideal for endurance and energy. This mother grain is also very easy to digest and is a warming food. Phew! These little colorful beads really are so full of ancient wisdom and nutritional power. Quinoa has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America. And now today, it has become a popular grain of choice with many uses.

Just one cup of quinoa cooked in two cups water yields four servings. I like to make a bunch and use it throughout the week, especially if I am super busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook. You can find white, red, and black quinoa but there is also a rainbow variety that I like to buy. Pretty much anything that has the word rainbow in front of it (rainbow chard, beets, carrots, etc.) I am a sucker for.

cooked quinoa

spicesCook extra quinoa to use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some examples of ways to use quinoa and make it last you at least a few days. And make use of your spices! Depending on what you like, they can add warmth, zest, or a kick to your dishes.

For dinner, I like to cook quinoa and pair it with brussels sprouts roasted with maple syrup or avocado, black beans, sweet potatoes, corn, and hot sauce. Quinoa pairs perfectly with so many different veggies and proteins so go crazy! I like to add turmeric, paprika, cumin, or curry powder to my savory quinoa dishes.

After dinner, I store my extra quinoa in an air-tight container in the fridge. Then the next morning, I combine it in a pot with oat milk (or any plant-based milk) and leave it on the stove just enough to warm it up. Then I add whatever I am in the mood for: nuts, seeds, maple syrup, almond butter, raw honey, raisins, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cardamon. Quinoa is a higher protein subsitute for oats, so add whatever you usually like in your oatmeal.

For lunch, you can take some more leftover quinoa and make a warming soup. Combine water, miso paste, basil, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, sprouts, and seaweed in a pot and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Add the already cooked quinoa and cook for another minute or two. Enjoy!

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Market Things & Gluten-Free Pizza

marketthingsThe outdoor market is one of the highlights of my week. It’s my chance to pick up some plump Medjool dates, pick out bunches of fresh veggies, and get my hands on some amazing Italian cheese. It’s also a great chance to practice Italian with the local merchants. Today is that much brighter after buying fresh flowers, carrots, spring garlic, spring onions, and fennel.

carrot IMG_4418

To be honest, I had only eaten fennel a handful of times before coming to Italy, and boy, was I missing out. Fennel is a staple in Italian cooking and I am so grateful for the different versions I have been exposed to. I adore fennel’s slight liquorice flavor and its wonderful versatility. It is great raw or cooked, added to salads for some crunch, or baked in the oven with some cheese, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. Fennel sauteed with coconut oil, raisins, and pine nuts is heavenly. Fennel is anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

I am also discovering the magic of fennel seeds, which add delicious depth and flavor to sauces and soups. Sometimes I even nibble on them to freshen my breath. I recently made this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories and wooooah baby was it packed with amazing flavor!

fennel spring garliccoatedfennel

I left the market feeling some powerful fennel inspiration and so I decided to make this gluten-free pizza with caramelized fennel and goat cheese for my host family. I joked to my host mother that I must be breaking some sort of Italian law with this gluten-free crust but it turns out they loved it! I mean, can you really go wrong with sweet caramelized fennel and goat cheese?

GFpizza

Gluten-Free Fennel & Goat Cheese Pizza

Inspired by My New Roots’ recipe

Makes one medium-sized pizza

Ingredients for topping:

1 large fennel bulb

1 large tomato [optional]

1/2 cup soft goat cheese

olive or coconut oil

2-3 tbsp. fennel seeds

2 tbsp. balsamic glaze [can also use honey or maple syrup]

sea salt

bunch of arugula

Gluten-free crust:

1 small head cauliflower

1 egg

3/4-1 cup shredded mozzarella

sea salt

2 tsp. herbs of choice [I used oregano and garlic]

Directions for crust:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive or coconut oil.

2. Wash and dry the head of cauliflower and then cut off the florets. Place the florets in a food processor and process until cauliflower resembles rice. Place in a bowl and microwave for 5-6 minutes.

3. While cauliflower is cooking, mix the egg, cheese, salt and herbs in a separate bowl until combined. Drain cooked cauliflower in a sieve, pressing with a spoon to drain as much water from the cauliflower as possible. Add the cooked cauliflower to the egg & cheese mixture and mix well.

4. Spread mixture onto the covered baking sheet and spread until your preferred thickness [I like mine to resemble more of a flatbread]. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.

Directions for topping:

1. While crust is cooking, prepare the topping. Wash fennel and remove fronds. Cut vertically into thin slices.

2. Heat coconut or olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Place fennel on the pan, making sure the pieces are flat and not overlapping. Sprinkle with sea salt.

3. Wait for the fennel to become golden-brown on the underside and then flip the pieces over. Let the other side become golden-brown.

4. Add the fennel seeds and balsamic glaze to the pan and toss to coat. Cook fennel for another minute and remove from pan.

Assembly:

1. Once the crust has cooled, drizzle with olive oil. Lay the fennel pieces on top [and slices of tomato if using] then place pieces of goat cheese evenly over the top.

2. Bake in the oven for another 3-5 minutes or until the goat cheese has slightly browned. Remove from oven and dress with fresh arugula.

Enjoy lovelies,

Sarah D.

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Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Bread

bakedbreadfull

To call me a banana lover would be an understatement. Anything banana, I will eat: bananas, banana ice cream, banana bread, bananas foster, banana pancakes, dried bananas, banana baby food. Yeah, you heard that last one right. Baby food. I absolutely love the smooth, delicate texture of banana baby food. There is something about a jar of Gerber’s and a little spoon that I find both delicious and comforting (is it too soon in our relationship to reveal this information?) Maybe I’m just trying to hold onto the wee las deep down inside of me. Maybe I’m crazy. Possibly both. I know one thing’s for sure: I am bananas for bananas.

Lately, I’ve also been loco for all things coco: coconut water, coconut milk, coconut, coconut oil and coconut sugar.  I fell in love with coconut again during my trip to Costa Rica, where coconut–in one form or another– is used in everything.  And I mean everything.

And as the kind of girl who can’t pass up a warm slice of banana bread, I decided to marry bananas and coconut in this oh-so-satisfying sweet bread.

cocosugar

Coconut sugar is a completely natural sweetener, made from the sap of coconuts.  It has a low glycemic index, meaning that our blood sugar doesn’t shoot up when we ingest it.  Coconut sugar also has a high mineral content and is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. This sweetener also contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, which enhance immune and nervous system function, promote cell growth and division, among many other benefits. Compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has twice the iron, four times the magnesium and over 10 times the amount of zinc! [1]

     Flavor profile: molasses, deep, rich.

cocooil

Coconut oil has been getting some long-deserved recognition recently.  I came across this book and was fascinated by it but also thought about how places like Costa Rica must be laughing their blue zone butts off that we haven’t discovered it sooner.

Pacific Islanders believe coconut oil to be the cure for all illness and regard it so highly that they refer to the coconut tree as “the tree of life.”  Coconut oil is used widely throughout the world as both food and medicine as it has been known to cure a whole host of conditions. It is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine as well as other traditional medicine practices.

The magic of this oil lays in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA [2]

Our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA are the main reason for these health benefits of coconut oil:

  • Promote weight loss
  • Help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many other degenerative diseases
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Improve digestion
  • Prevent premature aging of the skin
  • Beautify skin and hair

    Flavor profile: coconuty! This oil weaves a subtle coconut flavor through food that has been cooked in it.

I also used almond flour and greek yogurt to make it gluten-free and amp up the protein content. This recipe was inspired by my friend glutenfreefitchick and adapted from a Chez Us recipe. I realized I made this bread on the eve of daylight savings.  No better way to celebrate extra daylight than a warm slice of banana bread.

mashedbanana

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unbakedbread

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slicedbread

Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt (add a 1/4 cup more if batter seems too thick)

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 tbs agave nectar

1 egg

2 ripe bananas, lightly mashed

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a bread loaf pan or line with parchment paper.  Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl; set aside. Beat coconut oil in a measuring cup or separate bowl until soft.  Add greek yogurt and continue beating for a few minutes.  Add sugar and mix until fluffy.  Add egg, bananas, and agave and mix until combined.  Add dry ingredients in two parts until combined. Pour into loaf pan.  Top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar and coconut flakes (optional).  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Enjoy!

Cheers to longer days and tropical memories,

Sarah D.

Sources:

[1] http://www.sugarcoconut.com [2] http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/

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