Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sneaky Spinach Dip - Dairy Free

        Super Bowl is just a few days away and most of us are now busy preparing for THE Big Game.  Though this Sunday, is considered one of the biggest calorie loaded feast in American calendar, I know most of the ladies and some men out there would like to enjoy something a little healthier in the menu. After all, it's only been a month since we promised to lose some weight right?
        So, how can we entertain and feel better at the same time?  I think this easy recipe for a Spinach Dip will be handy.  By sneaking in healthier alternatives and keeping the yumminess, I'm pretty sure the guys wouldn't notice any difference at all.
         When I first created this recipe, counting calories is not even my intention.  My children were diagnosed with food allergies a few months ago and I was challenged to re-create the dishes my kids love without having gluten, dairy, egg, soy and even nuts.   If cooking without those ingredients isn't hard enough, how about getting the same taste and flavor the kids were so used to. 
          After a few trial and error, I am confident that this version of Spinach Dip is the closest to the real one.  It has passed the four children taste test with flying colors.  As what my eldest would say, "It's okay to double dip as long as no body sees it."   
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
1 15 oz can cannelli beans
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp rice vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Rinse the beans in running water and drain.
2. Using a blender or food processor, puree the beans, half of the spinach, salt, pepper, garlic powder and rice vinegar.
3. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle the olive oil. 
4. Add the remaining spinach and pulse a few times until you get your desired consistensy for the dip and size of the spinach.  If you find the dip too thick, thin it up with adding a teaspoon of olive oil at a time. 
5. Transfer to a microwavable bowl and heat it up for about 1 - 2 minutes on high. 
6. Serve hot.
* If you like to have that gooey goodness and extra yummies, mix in 1/2 cup of shredded Daiya Jack Style cheese substitute before heating. 
* If your diet allows you to have regular cheese, feel free to add your favorite mozzarella and pepper jack cheese before heating.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

         Last Saturday, I had another Julia Child meltdown.  What is that exactly? Well, it's my nicer way of describing myself angry over something and bringing out my frustrations in the kitchen. Remember the scene in the movie Julie & Julia where a furious young JC was chopping tons of onions in her kitchen? 
        Anyway,  I was up early last Saturday to try the zucchini bread recipe from a very beautiful cookbook I borrowed from the library.  Oh you should see all the pictures --- artfully taken, food looks so healthy and appetizing.  Not to mention, the recipes in that book were supposed to be served at a high end spa. Since there are very limited recipes on baked goods that are gluten, egg, dairy and soy free and the book was made by experienced Chefs, I decided to go for it. 

       Doubts slowly built up, right from the minute I measured the flours the recipe required. As I meticulously follow each step, my gut kept on telling me that there is something wrong.  First, the flour combination contains a big percentage of soft flours or binders that can make the end product gummy.  Then, the batter was too watery.  Lastly, after the 55 minute baking time, the middle is still liquid after the toothpick test was made.  
        Since I've already spent a great deal of time and precious ingredients, I kept on praying that the product will be something worthwhile. Though a big part of me wants to dump the baked "bread" asap, I still gathered some more faith and waited for it to cool down.  Then the big reveal.

      If the sight of what supposed to be bread isn't enough to give you a meltdown not to mention the time, ingredients and dishwashing involved, how about looking at the faces of 4 young children who patiently waited for that treat?  Since there's no vegan bakery on call, I have to put aside what other plans I have that day and bake again.  This time, the tried and tested Apple Cinnamon Cupcake came to the rescue.  I rarely frost the cupcakes I serve my kids but for this occasion, I went all out.  Of course, this didn't disappoint. 

- Roz


1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup arrowroot
1 cup sugar (I use organic)
1/4 cup sunflower oil (you can also use canola)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1 cup grated apples (I used golden delicious)
2 Tbs flaxmeal in 6 Tbs lukewarm water

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soyfree buttery spread (room temperature)
1/8 tsp sea salt (pick the small grind)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 Tbs non dairy milk ( You can use Hemp, Flax or Rice Milk)

For extra flavor and topping grate :
 Cinnamon stick
 Nutmeg (nut)

1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare cupcake pans by lightly greasing with oil or use cupcake liners.
2. Prepare flax goo by combining flaxmeal and water.  Set aside for 5 minutes before using.
3. In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix thoroughly.
4. With an electric mixer, blend the flaxgoo, sugar and oil until light in color.  About 2 minutes.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
6. Fold in the apples in the batter and spoon into the cupcake pan.  About 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. After you took it out of the oven, let the cupcakes stay in the pan for 2 minutes before transferring on a wire rack.  Cool before frosting.

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and slowly add the powder sugar. About one cup at a time and scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition.
2. Add the ground cinnamon, salt and 3 Tbs milk.  Mix on high until light and fluffy. About 3-4 minutes. If the frosting is a little thick, add the remaining 1 Tbs of milk. 
3. Use the icing as soon as possible because it will harden a bit.  This frosting is great when used with icing tips because it will hold it's shape. 

* After you frost the cupcakes, finish it off with grated cinnamon and nutmeg on top.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kid Friendly Chicken Curry

        It's nice to be blogging again.  Did you miss me? Awww... Anyway, I am so thankful that the flu virus had totally left our home and everything is back to normal.  I can't believe what a big relief it is to finally hear some or should I say too much noise from the children. 
         Since the appetite of the gang is back too, I've decided to make their favorite Chicken Curry. My husband adores Indian food but we rarely go to Indian restaurants because the dishes tend to be too spicy for the kids' palate. By cutting back on the heat, this kid friendly version will surely surprise any picky eater.  In fact, my children can feast on just the rice and sauce only.  Don't be afraid to make the whole batch.  The leftovers still tastes great (even better) after 2 days. 
1 lbs chicken breasts (boneless, skinless and sliced thinly)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp garlic (minced)
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
8 oz can coconut milk
12 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 in fresh ginger (cut into strips)
2 Tbs. sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp of chili flakes (you can add more if you like)
a handful of fresh parsley chopped
1. In a big pan, heat olive oil and pan fry the chicken in batches. About 2 minutes on each side. Then transfer to a plate.  Set aside.
2. On the same pan, saute tumeric, curry powder and garam masala for about 4-5 minutes. Stir often so that the spices will not burn.
3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions become transluscent.
4. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the spice mixture. Stir and bring to a boil.
5. Once the sauce starts to boil, add the coconut milk and cooked chicken.  Make sure the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the sauce.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes to prevent the sauce or chicken from sticking to the pan.
8. Turn off heat.  Sprinkle with chili flakes and chopped parsley. Serve hot on top of steamed rice.
      Since I serve this to small children, I only used chili flakes.  If you like this recipe to have some kick, add a tsp or more of cayenne pepper.  Taste before you add extra cayenne pepper.  It can be really spicy. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Feel Better Italian Wedding Soup - Gluten free

      I can't believe the flu bug just visited our place. Last week, 5 out of 6 family members were on bedrest for the whole week. With just one "nurse" to attend to everybody's needs, (yup I was the last one standing), I decided to make my favorite comfort food - Italian Wedding Soup.

       In this version, I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Quinoa -- 14 oz instead of the traditional small round pasta. I like the quinoa because it's gluten free, loaded with protein and doesn't get soggy when reheated.  Once the meatballs were cooked through, this recipe can also be transferred to a crock pot so it stays warm and ready when someone needs to eat.  A big help especially when having a nice family meal isn't possible.

        Whether you have someone who's sick at home or have a very hectic schedule, I suggest you give this easy to prepare comfort food a try.  I'm sure it will definitely make you feel better. 

        Stay healthy this winter.
2 lbs ground beef
2 pcs multi grain crackers (crushed into bits)
1 medium sized onion
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs ground flax meal
6 Tbs lukewarm water
fresh parsley (about 3 tablespoons finely chopped)
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 small onion chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup carrots chopped
3.5 Quarts Chicken broth
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2/3 cup quinoa
2 cups kale (torn into bite size pieces)
pinch of chili flakes
1. Mix the flaxmeal and water to make a goo. Set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Using a food processor, finely chop the parsley and onions. 
3. In a big bowl, combine the onion-parsley mixture, crushed multi grain crackers, flax goo, salt, pepper and garlic powder. 
4. Add the ground beef and using your hands, mix it thoroughly.  Form into balls about 1 tablespoon each. Set aside.
5. In a big pot, saute garlic, onions, celery and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the stock and bring to boil. 
7. Once the stock starts to boil, slowly add the meatballs and quinoa. Let it boil again and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes. 
8. Add the kale pieces and simmer for another 15 minutes.
9. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with chili flakes.
10. Enjoy!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Words of Wisdom

      Whenever we feel that we are just drifting in life... 
         Here's something to think about.
- Roz

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January Healthy Reading - Hungry for Change

          I am a firm believer that knowledge is an important component of a healthy mind.  So for 2013, I will be sharing with you the books I am reading every month. 
          For January, I decided to grab a copy this book by James Colquhoun and Laurentine Ten Bosch from the library. This book caught my attention because it contains insights, recipes and tips for healthy body using food as medicine. Quite interesting especially for us with food allergy concerns.

Hungry for Change: Ditch the Diets, Conquer the Cravings, and Eat Your Way to Lifelong Health 

          Have you read this book?  I love to hear what you think.  If not, I hope we could read this book or cook together this month. 

- Roz        

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Comfort food - Chicken Tinola

      My eldest daughter has fever since last night and is home right now.  Well, make that 2 sick daughters because my other one just arrived home from school with a high temperature. I was about to try my new recipes for stuffed peppers and pan seared salmon but have to change the menu to this all time favorite Chicken Tinola (Chicken with Ginger and Rice Soup).

      When I was growing up, this simple Filipino traditional chicken dish when served with rice is my perfect comfort food.  My grandmother used to make a big batch every time someone in the family has a bad cold or flu.  The warm clear soup loaded with ginger and spinach,  not to mention the healing powers of slow cooked chicken is perfect for this winter weather blues. 


2 1/2 to 3 lbs Chicken pieces (I used bone in thigh and 2 breasts)
2  Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. garlic minced
1 medium sized white onion sliced into half moons
2 inch chunk of fresh ginger sliced
6 cups water
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 cup fish sauce (if you have fish allergy, feel free to use 3 Tbs sea salt)
1 lb fresh spinach

1. In a big dutch oven, saute garlic, onions and ginger for about 3 minutes. 
2. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and sear for 4-5 minutes.  Flip and sear the other side for 3 minutes.
3. Pour in water and stir. Make sure to scrape the inside bottom and sides of the dutch oven.
4. Bring to boil and simmer to 40 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Remove excess oil on top of the soup.  If you have time, you can let it cool and skim the fat on top.
6. Season with fish sauce (or sea salt) and ground black pepper.
7. Add the spinach, cover with the lid and turn off heat.
8. After 5 minutes, stir and serve with rice.

Stay healthy!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Farewell 2012 - Sweet & Sour Meatballs

        As we start the New Year, it is nice to look back at 2012 and see the changes that made life an exciting one for all of us.  In our household for instance, the past year was a big learning experience. 
       From a bargain grocery shopper who likes to experiment in the kitchen to make healthier recipes for my family, I became a Food Allergy mom.  Though I can say I know my way around the kitchen, the need for immediate diet change was not easy.  The gluten, egg and dairy free Pancake Meltdown which happened just five months ago seemed like history now. 
        One of the biggest surprises for me last year was how my four young children remained positive after learning about their food restrictions.  They were so gracious to try each successful and oh no! dishes that came out of my kitchen. 
        Call it luck or blessing that we were able to eat well without any Epi-pen episode.  All I know is that this 2013, I or any mom with or without food allergy concerns surely need tips for healthy budget friendly recipes. This coincidentally is what this blog is all about.
        Speaking of luck, here's one of the dishes we had to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Since we didn't have the traditional menu most Filipino families serve during this feast, we decided to stick to the  round or circle theme.  In the Philippines, eating round food at 12 midnight brings good luck for the coming year.
         Here's to a healthier and richer 2013!
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup red onions finely minced
1 cup oats (I used the gluten free one)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbs flaxmeal
6 Tbs warm water
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs garlic minced
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbs sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
To make the meatballs,
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Mix the flaxmeal and warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes before using.
3. In a big bowl, stir the flaxmeal-water goo and the rest of the meatball ingredients except for the ground beef until well combined.
4. Add the ground beef and mix well using your fingers.
5. Form into balls (about 2 tablespoons per ball)
6. Arrange the meatballs in a foil lined baking pan and bake it in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes.  No need to grease the foil since the natural oils and juices from the beef will prevent it from sticking.
To make the Sauce
1. Saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, vinegar, sugar and carrots. Bring to boil.
3. Once the sauce starts to boil, add the meatballs and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  The longer the better so that the meatballs stay soft and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
4. Serve over pasta or as appetizer. 
Happy New Year!
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