Saturday, September 28, 2013

Kid Approved Slow Cooker Goulash

       Ah! The ever famous crock pot.  A very common wedding or house warming gift that often remains hidden the attic or garage until the next yard sale.  Guilty? Don't worry, you are not alone.  I confess I kept my pretty white one inside the kitchen cabinet for years too.
        Recently though, the slow cooking craze has resurrected with a bang.  If you haven't joined the group yet, I suggest it's time to bring out that dusty, almost brand new gift and start using it.  I'm pretty sure in no time,  you will fall in love with it too.  Who wouldn't want to arrive home with a warm delicious meal waiting for them?
          Are you inspired now? The stews here can easily be made using the slow cooker method.  Even the soups. Sometimes  I might prefer to brown the meats first.  This is for extra flavor.  If you are short time, you can just put together the ingredients and let the crockpot do it's magic. 
        Speaking of recipes, this slow cooker goulash is a nice example that you can make something really good with just the things you have on hand.  Traditionally, most goulash recipes call for beef or lamb, I used pork shoulder in this one.  Why? Well, during the time my kids requested me to make a goulash, it is only type of meat I have left in the freezer.  Since they liked the end product so much, we kept it as it is.  If you want to stick to red meat, feel free to use whatever you prefer.  It will turn out great too.
          Do you have some favorite slow cooker recipes? Love to hear them too.
- Roz


4 lbs. pork shoulder cut into 2 inch cubes
2 cups chopped white onions
2 Tbs. garlic powder
3 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbs. salt (you can add more depending on the type of stock you used)
1 tsp. sugar
3 pcs. bay leaf
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups stock (you can use beef, chicken or vegetable)
1/2 tsp. chili flakes (more if you like it a little spicy)
1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Combine the stock, paprika, garlic powder, sugar, ground black pepper, bay leaf, tomato paste and 1 Tbs. salt in the slow cooker.
2. Add the meat, tomatoes and onions.
3. Mix well. Make sure that all the meat is coated with the sauce. 
4. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. 
5. Once done, stir in the parsley and chili flakes. 
6. Serve over rice, pasta or potato pancakes.  Great with Greek yogurt or sour cream too (if you aren't dairy free that is).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eggs Substitutes in Baking

           When I first learned about my children's food allergies, I freaked out!  Literally.  How can I possibly bake something without wheat, egg, dairy, soy and even nuts? 

           As most gluten free people out there know, eggs are the best alternative for gluten in baked goods.  For vegans, soy and nut purees are the way to go.  What happens then, if all the essentials of baking must be avoided? 

           After more than a  year of research, trial and error and endless meltdowns, I'm finally sharing my favorite baking substitutes.  For this post, I'll be focusing on egg alternatives.  Just to be clear, those mentioned here are intended for to be used on recipes wherein eggs act as binder.  Examples are cakes, muffins, easy breads, donuts and even meat loaves.  If you are trying to make meringue or soufflé, I suggest not to use these unless you got a proven recipe. 
            Without further intro, here are my favorite egg substitutes:

1. Flax Meal Goo
           This is so far my most favorite egg substitute.  I can replace up to four eggs with this goo and produce excellent results.  The taste is neutral which makes it good for both savory and sweet dishes.  I even use this as a binder for meatballs and meat loaves. Flax is also an excellent source of fiber, plant based omega 3 essential fatty acids and lignans that have antioxidant properties.  A big plus for us trying to be healthy.

            As a rule of thumb, 1 Tbs. of flax meal + 3 Tbs. lukewarm water = 1 egg

2. Chia Goo
            Instead of using flax meal, chia seeds are combined with lukewarm water to make a Chia goo.   This egg substitute works quite well as a binder too.  The end product however, has some crunch from the seeds.  My kids are not a big fan because they feel that they have nuts in their baked goods.  If you don't mind the extra texture, go ahead use it and enjoy the extra benefits of chia in your diet.  It will be 1 Tbs. of chia seeds + 3 Tbs. lukewarm water = 1 egg.

3. Tapioca Gel
            This baking binder or thickener is made by combining 1 Tablespoon tapioca starch and 1 cup cold water.  The mixture is then cooked (heated) until it becomes translucent and slightly thick.  Once in room temperature, you can used about 2 teaspoons of gel to replace 1 egg. 

              I like using this egg substitute when I am baking a light colored cake or vanilla cupcakes.  Since there are no visible brown flecks or seeds, the end product is as pretty as its regular egg filled version.  It is also the most affordable.
4. Egg Replacer
            There are different brands available in supermarkets and online.  Most are made with tapioca and potato starches combined with leavening ingredients.  Though I have some successful products using this, I am not a big fan.  Aside from being a bit pricey, it doesn't provide extra health benefits. Also, it can be a little temperamental.  Some recipes tend to be gummy when this is used.

             You might notice, I didn't add fruit purees or applesauce as an egg substitute.  Though there are articles written about using it,  I never liked the outcome of directly using the purees in place of eggs.  Let's just say that it can't it can't actually replace the eggs in baked recipes.  Though it might add some moisture to the end product, it does little on texture and stability.  However, I like combining the above mentioned egg substitute with some purees for extra flavor and sweetness.

              How about you? What's your favorite egg substitute? Love to hear it.

- Roz

Monday, September 23, 2013

National Family Day

          Today, September 23rd is National Family Day.  Who knew there's such a thing?  I felt so embarrassed when my youngest asked what  was the special event printed in our calendar for today.  I confess, I am totally clueless since I rarely pay attention on those pre-printed events.  Thank you manufacturers!
          What was this day all about? To get answers, I went online and did some research.  Guess what?  I wasn't able to get that much information either. Looks like it's not as famous as Donut day, Ice Cream day or what have you day. 
         Anyway, here's what I did find about it. Family Day was launched by CASA Columbia.   It is a national movement that celebrates parental engagement as a tool to help America's kids substance free.  The group emphasizes the importance of parent's involvement in a child's life.  Simple daily tasks such as helping with the homework, eating together or doing after school activities together have lasting effects in a child's life and their ability to make the right choices.  Sounds good enough right?
                                                    hoto courtesy of CASA Family Day
         So, going back to the question earlier on how to celebrate today, the group encourages families to eat dinner together.  What's so special about that? Reality is, having family dinner can be quite a challenge especially during week nights.  Some parents have different work schedules while  other members have after school activities.  The existence of computers, television, tablets and phones haven't helped either. 
        For tonight, families are being asked to sit down and enjoy eating dinner together.  If you need some easy dinner ideas, click here.  Short on time? Takeout or pizza is fine.  As long as everybody is present.  Oh don't forget to turn off those gadgets.  It's family time after all.  So, are you up for the challenge?
- Roz

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Freebies: Be Healthier this Fall with Natural Remedies Ebooks

       This weekend is the official start of Fall.  As majority enjoy the gorgeous changes of the leaves and cooler temperature,  many, including our household are now suffering from seasonal allergies.   Ragweed, pollen, dust mites are some of best enemies.  What's yours?
        Though we have prescriptions on hand, I am always in a look out for natural ways to alleviate the symptoms of runny nose, headache, sneezing and so on.  As along as there are no bad side effects, (which most medicines have anyway), I am more willing to try anything. 
        For those who are interested in trying natural remedies, check out these freebies I found today.  From simple headaches, to sneezing and even asthma, there are so many recipes you can try.  Personally,  I think these are handy to have since we all have a long and challenging fall- winter seasons ahead.
       What are you waiting for? Click away! 
- Roz

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Freebies: Tips on How to Clean your Home Faster Ebooks

         Yesterday was the first day of CCD for three of my children.  Boy! I just had a reality kick on what my whole year will be. For those who have after school activities during the middle of the week, you absolutely know what I mean right?

        In my house for instance, papers have already piled up.  Why do schools have to send in so much?  Then there's the clothes chaos.  Thanks to the unpredictable fall temperature, both summer and winter outfits are everywhere. 

        With all the daily commotion, for most of us, home cleaning and upkeep are often left at the bottom of the list.  If you or your kids have seasonal allergies though,  it is essential that we keep our house as allergen free as possible.  Sad to say but the only way to do that is to be on top of our least favorite chore.  

        Do you need more inspiration? Then check out what I found today. Three E-books filled with tips to help us clean the house faster.  Isn't that cool?  Best part, it's free to download now.  

- Roz

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Freebies: More Healthy Juicing Recipes Ebooks

          We made it!  The first full week of school that is.  I can't believe my body is already craving for more sources of energy.  After chugging on cups of coffee for days, I have this strong urge to clean my system and detoxify.

           What's my favorite detox program? To be really honest, I have none.  I never even attempted to try any of those fad detox programs.  For me, there's no sense in starving myself and keep on drinking unlimited amounts of water with a diluted pill of some sort.  If ever I fast, which is usually 4 separate days a year, I do it for something far deeper than vanity.   

           So what do I do? Well, there is only one type of  detox regimen that I feel comfortable and actually felt some results.  Drum roll please. Be a Vegan for a couple of days.  Okay, what I am trying to say is, to remove most of the toxins from the body, we simply eat only fruits, vegetables and seeds for least 3 days.  Sounds hard? I believe you.  Meat and potatoes gal here. That's when I realize the importance of juicing or smoothies.  Personally,  I find it a lot easier to drink my food instead of  chewing salads.  Do you agree?

            There are so many combinations out there.  But the concept is still simple, all plant based ingredients and no added sweeteners.  If you are like me who easily gets bored with the same combinations, I have a special treat for you. 

            Check out these free downloadable e-books filled with recipes and never ending combinations.  Trust me, you will never get bored. 

             Hurry up! Click away and get them while they are still Free. 

             Enjoy your weekend.      
- Roz 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mighty Mini Meatloaf Muffins

              School is in full swing and here I am struggling to keep up with the kids' school lunches.  Sounds familiar?  Whether your children have food allergies like mine, are on a special diet or none at all, I'm sure you will agree that packed lunches are always a mom's dilemma.
               We are not being picky. We just want to prepare something that is easy, fast, healthy and most of all the kids will actually eat.  Right? Ah, the frustration of seeing the untouched food at the end of the day!  Okay, let's not get emotional here.
              Anyway, with those important factors in mind, I'm sharing with you today the recipe for our beloved Mighty Mini Meatloaf Muffins.  Sounds really catchy? Well my kids made it up around the time they were obsessed with the Power Rangers and it stuck. Admit it, you know the song.
              One day, while I was preparing to make some Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Child #2 asked if I have the time to also bake some muffins.  When I asked her what flavor she likes, Child #3 who wants to be silly, started saying "You want meat muffins?" Then both child starting asking me if there is such a thing as a Meat muffin.  Feeling adventurous, I told them "Let's make some."  The idea of meatloaf cooked in muffin tins was born.
              Since Meatloaf is an excellent dish to sneak in some veggies, I went all out and put a whole pound of carrots.  These not just provided extra vitamins and nutrients, it also gave the dish some sweetness which the kids love.  Most traditional recipes require stale bread for  texture.  Of course, I don't have any gluten free bread laying around the house.  What I do have on stock is rice cereal.   So I made a gamble and use it instead.  The end result is very pleasing. No more leftover cereals!
               Have you noticed that each meatloaf is portion sized? This makes it really portable and an ideal lunch box insider.  My kids like it at room temperature which is a big plus. I like to make it ahead of time because it freezes really well. 
               Are you excited?  Then give it a try.  Hopefully you and your children will love it too.  One day covered.
- Roz      


3 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. carrots, finely chopped
1 cup chopped onions
2 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup crushed rice cereal
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used flax milk)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. coconut aminos (You can substitute gluten free soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce)
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
olive oil for greasing the pans

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease 2 (12 pcs) standard sized muffin pans. 
2. With the help of a food processor, finely chop the onions, carrots and rice cereal. 
3. Transfer the vegetable and cereal mix to a big bowl. 
4. Add the salt, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, non dairy milk, vinegar and aminos.  Mix well.
5. Using your hands, slowly mix in the ground beef.  Make sure it is well combined.
6. Fill each muffin cavity to the rim with the meatloaf mix.  Using the back of a spoon, pat the meat to remove any air spots.
7. Top with about a teaspoon of ketchup. 
8. Bake for 16 - 20 minutes.
9. Take the muffin tin out of the oven and let the meatloaf rest in its juices for 5 minutes. This makes sure that the meatloaf stays moist.
10. Serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Freebies : DIY Organic Beauty Ebooks

        Kids are out! Time to get pampered my dear Moms.  If you are a bit hesitant on spending big bucks on a spa treatment or splurging on pricey cosmetics, don't worry, I have a treat for you today.   I found these free ebooks filled with recipes on how to make your own organic scrubs, body butter, creams and more. 

         After scanning all three ebooks, I am so excited to find out that making your own spa treatments are not that difficult at all.  There are no harsh chemicals to play with too.  The best part is that almost all the ingredients are already in the pantry.  That means major savings! 

         Click away and download now. Then try it this weekend.  You definitely deserve it.

- Roz

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Andouille Sausage and Potato Hash Breakfast

         School is in full swing.  Though it is only the first week, I can already feel the pinch of having bigger kids.  Homework, that are more challenging, starts to come in.  The after school activities are now written in the calendar.  Pretty soon, the fast paced routine will kick in.   
         As the days become more hectic and crazier, I often rely on the help of a well stocked fridge and pantry for quick and healthy meals.  Breakfast in particular, can be the most daunting.  With a little planning though, I'm sure we all can provide something delicious that can make everyone actually eat and start the day right.
         One of my go to recipes for breakfast is this sausage and potato hash.  Loaded with veggies and protein, this is a complete meal that is very easy to prepare. You might notice that the recipe has a big yield.  Don't worry because it is also prefect for a packed lunch.  
          If you are like me, I would chop everything the night before and keep it on a big plate in the fridge.  That way, all I need to do in the morning is sautéing. Isn't that neat? 

- Roz


1 package (4 pcs) Cajun Andouille Sausage chopped (I used Chef Bruce Aidells)
4 cups potatoes diced
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1. In a medium heated sauté pan, brown the sausage bits in olive oil.
2. Once the sausage pieces are browned to your liking, transfer it on a plate.  We like ours cooked a little crunchy.
3. Using the same pan and oil, fry the potatoes for about 7 minutes.
4. Add the garlic, onions and bell peppers to the potatoes. 
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Return the sausage in the pan with the vegetables. 
7. Let it cook until the potatoes are soft but firm enough to hold its shape.  Depending on the size of the potatoes it may take at least 5 minutes.
8. Turn off heat and sprinkle with parsley.
9. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

$1 off Coupon any AppleGate Farm Product

         School is in full swing.  That means we all need extra help not only putting food on the table but in lunch boxes as well.  One of my favorite food allergy friendly meats is from Applegate Farm. They have hotdogs, cold cuts, burgers, bacon and more.   Many of their products are gluten and dairy free. Most importantly, they make soy free items.  Something that quite tricky to find. 


          Want to try them out or need some savings? Click to get your printable $1 off coupon now.

- Roz

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Giveaway: 2 Tickets for the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo in New Jersey

       Time really flies so fast.  I can't believe it is almost a year since our family started converting our home to an allergy friendly one.  That meant we successfully lived without wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, egg, peanuts and nuts in our diet.  Okay, I confess, I did cheat a few times but in general, our family did quite well.

        The past 12 months has been a real roller coaster ride.  From finding which products are safe for the kids to cooking and baking tasty food that the whole family will actually eat, dealing with food allergies is really a never ending adventure.  If only there is a store that is completely food allergy friendly, everything will be a lot easier.
         Earlier last month, I think my prayers were answered.  I learned that the Gluten Free and Allergen Free Expo will be heading to New Jersey this September.  With a twist of faith, I became an official blogger for the event as well. 

           With more than 150 vendors in one venue, it is definitely a food allergy mom's dream come true.  Aside from being able to talk to companies directly, there will be product sampling and coupons to be handed out.  Oh did I mention that one of the sponsors, Holy Crap Cereal is also hosting a giveaway for the attendees?   Plus there are free informative classes available. Can you feel my excitement?


             Now, I got something even better for all of you.  The wonderful people of GFAF Expo has provided me TWO (2) adult admission tickets to giveaway.  That means 2 of my lucky readers will be able to go to the event for FREE and experience first hand what I am talking about. 

              What are you waiting for?  Enter now and share it to your friends and family.  Who knows? Maybe we could hang out there too.

              Happy September!

- Roz
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