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Zucchini Pizza Boats!

If you are like me, you are so happy when fruits and veggies come in season.  They are cheaper, more readily available and they taste better.  It’s even more exciting when you are growing your own, or can share what is growing in your neighbor’s garden.  But what happens when all your zucchini comes in at once?  Or you buy a ton of it at the Farmer’s Market because it looks beautiful and you can’t resist?  Zucchini Pizza Boats!

Zucchini Pizza Boats are a great meal anytime, one of my favorite leftovers (yummy for a quick lunch or afternoon snack), and they also makes a really fun appetizer.  Just cut them up into bite sizes and serve – your guests will love them.  They are so easy, too.  Get all your favorite pizza toppings out and let everyone make their own!

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Zucchini Pizza Boats

I’ve seen lots of recipes for these, but I took my inspiration from Paleo Indulgences by Tammy Credicott

Preheat oven to 400º.  Clean the zucchini, then split in half lengthwise and scoop out part of the center and seeds to make a shallow trough.  Place the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with parchment with the hollowed-out side up.

Fill the hollowed-out center with pizza sauce, your favorite marinara sauce or bruschetta topping and then start layering all your favorite pizza toppings.  I use turkey sausage and mushroom and I’ve also made some using turkey canadian bacon and caramelized onions.  (Just make sure that the toppings, like sausage, are already cooked).  Quick Note:  If using dairy-free cheese (I use Daiya), I typically put the cheese over the sauce and then put toppings on top of that.  It seems to melt a bit better for me that way.

Bake about 30-40 minutes or until toppings and sauce are bubbling and zucchini is soft.  After cooling a bit, serve as is or slice into 3-4 bite-sized pieces if serving as an appetizer.

 

Make a Healthier (and easy!) Pancake

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten a pancake.  Ok, quite a while, actually.  Although gluten-free pancakes are pretty easy, grain-free is a different story, especially for those of us who find almond flour too tough too handle.  Then I saw something online (I think it was on Facebook) about making pancakes from eggs and a banana.  Seriously!  Well, I was so curious I just had to try it.  It works!  I’ve made them a few times now, and I have been pleasantly surprised.

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The recipe is easy – 2 eggs, beaten + 1 smushed banana.  That’s basically it, although I usually throw in a dash of cinnamon and a couple drops of vanilla, just because.  As you can see in the picture, they aren’t as thick as a “grainy” pancake, more like a thicker crepe. Still yummy, especially smeared with almond butter.  (Fair warning:  a pretty strong banana flavor so if you aren’t crazy about banana, this recipe might not be your favorite).

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It’s Citrus Season!

Have you noticed all the different types of citrus in the stores lately?  This is prime time for all those beautiful oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and more.  I, personally, have become quite the pest at my local Trader Joe’s, waiting a bit impatiently for the cocktail grapefruit to come in.  They usually show up for a very short time in January or February, and only at Trader Joe’s.  They are delicious, but they aren’t here yet!

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While we wait, you might try something a bit more exotic than your typical navel orange like these beautiful blood oranges.  Aren’t they gorgeous?  I cut into this one and didn’t want to eat it until I took pictures because the coloring was so amazing.  Did you know that they are considered an anti-aging orange?  Maybe it’s because there is even more vitamin C in blood oranges than a regular orange?

Then I sliced open a Cara Cara orange – have you tried one yet?  You can see them with the blood oranges in the banner on the front page.  They are bright orange outside and look like a regular navel orange, but they have beautiful rosy colored flesh inside that is seedless and so sweet!  According to the Sunkist website, they are a cross between  the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel, and were first discovered in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela.

While reading about Cara Cara oranges, I found a really helpful resource from Sunkist – it is all the nutrition information for different types of citrus.  Check it out here when you want to feel good about adding some citrus into your meal plan!

 

Home Grown Produce Is The Best!

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I did some traveling this summer and was lucky enough to stay with good friends along the way.  One of my friends has a beautiful garden in her backyard, with all kinds of wonderful growy things to choose from when preparing a meal.  The tomatoes were just coming into their own, and the fresh herbs were happy and healthy.  What a feeling of abundance it is to go out the back door and pick dinner!

The best thing about home grown produce, other than knowing how it was grown and what is and isn’t sprayed on it, is the quality of the food.  When you slice up a tomato that has just been picked off the vine, nestle in some fresh basil leaves, all you need to do is sprinkle with a good quality olive oil, maybe some salt and pepper, and you have got the most amazing dish!  It can’t be any simpler than that, and really…. it can’t get much better, either.

 

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Eating healthy meals can be so easy, especially when you start with high quality produce.  If you can’t grow any of your own, find the farmers markets in your area, or get to know your neighbors who have gardens.  Many times they are happy to share or barter.  Getting something that is fresh, full of flavor and full of nutrients – way worth getting your hands dirty!

Because I was out of state for most of the summer, I didn’t get a lot of time to grow things, but since our weather has been so nice, I did just plant herbs in hopes that I will have at least several months of use.  Along with mint and rosemary that survived the winter, I just planted dill, basil, cilantro and parsley.  I still need to find some tarragon, although that is usually the toughest one to locate.  What about you?  Let us know what you are growing this season!

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I found this recipe on www.101cookbooks.com, the original name is Nikki’s Healthy Cookies (click here to check it out, along other great recipes) and I was so excited to get this recipe and play with variations.  Although this is pretty close to the original, this is a good recipe to use when working with substitutions for food allergies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid (or alternately, olive oil)
  • 2 cups GF rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 – 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

2. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning.

Substitutions:

Substitute applesauce or other fruit purees for the bananas

Substitute raisins or other dried fruit for the chocolate chunks

 

Espresso Brownies

Espresso Brownies

Once again, the original recipe comes from Elana Amsterdam.  She is such a great resource for grain-free snacks.  Her books are great, and her website is such a valuable resource.  You can see the original recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons decaf espresso powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour

Directions:

1. Melt chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat

2. Add coconut oil and stir until completely dissolved

3. Stir in ground espresso and remove from heat

4. Blend in eggs, coconut sugar, vanilla and salt to mixture in pan using a handheld mixer

5. Blend in almond flour and coconut flour

6. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish

7. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes

8. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour

9. Serve

Coconut Bars

Coconut Bars

This recipe was adapted from the Coconut Bars recipe from Elana Amsterdam.  Click here to find the original recipe, then check out the rest of her site.  She as great recipes, cookbooks, and all things yummy for people wanting to eat healthier.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup honey*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt

Directions:

1. Mix eggs, coconut milk, oil, coconut nectar, and vanilla in a food processor

2. Pulse in almond flour, coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt

3. Transfer ingredients into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes

5. Cool for ½ hour, then place in refrigerator and serve when chilled,

* Note:  Original recipe calls for honey instead of the coconut nectar, and an added 1/8 tsp. stevia.

 

Roasted Veggie Dip


Roasted Veggie Dip/Spread

This has become one of our all-time favorites.  It is Ina Garten’s recipe (click here for original recipe) and it is great as a dip, to top chicken or fish, and wonderful used as a healthy spread on a wrap.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.

Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

 

Fabulous Eggplant Dip


Eggplant Caviar

This is the original recipe for what we all refer to as the Fabulous Eggplant Dip.  This is one of the few recipes that I don’t mess with – I like it just the way it is.  It tastes great on sliced cucumbers!

By Nora Kogan, originally published in Real Simple

Makes 1 1/2 cups (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1  large eggplant (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)
  • 1/2  small onion, finely chopped (1⁄4 cup)
  • 1  clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon  red wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  mayonnaise (optional)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Cut-up vegetables, for serving

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400° F. Using a fork, prick the eggplant all over. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes.

2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise and scrape out the flesh, discarding the skin. Finely chop the flesh and transfer it to a large bowl.

3. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar, mayonnaise (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine. Sprinkle with additional parsley and serve with the vegetables, if desired.

Southwest Chicken Soup

Southwest Chicken Soup

This recipe came about from a “once around the kitchen” dinner night.  I threw in everything I already had that I thought might work together.  I really like southwestern flavors, and you can easily add some chopped jalapeño and cayenne pepper if you want it spicy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery,chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • Rotisserie chicken, picked
  • 1 can pinto beans with just a bit of liquid
  • 1 sweet potato/garnet yam, chopped
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 4-5 big spoonfuls of your favorite salsa
  • Dried oregano (about 2 tbls. or more)
  • Ground cumin (start with 2 tsp. – I usually add a bit more)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of half a lime

Directions:

Sauté onion, carrots and celery until soft. Add rest of ingredients except for lime. Bring to boil, then simmer for awhile till combined. Swish in lime juice at the end and check seasonings.

Notes:

Try it with cilantro, avocado, and dairy free mozzarella-type cheese on top.