Coconut Basil Curry Chicken

gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian option / grain free option

 

In my house, Mondays are slow cooker days. They are one of the busier days for our family and it’s also one of my non-blogging days which means I’m not preparing delicious meals all day. Side note…they are not always delicious, but rest assured ONLY the delicious ones make it here!!! I also find that Mondays seem to be the day when all hell breaks loose. So I FINALLY figured out that when we are transitioning back into our routines after the weekend and trying to find our groove again that it is SOOOOO nice not having to scramble to put dinner on the table. I mean…I don’t know about you, but I would much rather sit down with my cocktail of choice (that is a MUST in this scenario), play with my kids and enjoy the fact that some machine just did 98% of my job AND that dinner will actually be served on time.

I found this recipe via The Food Charlatan. She is a new favorite of mine and I find that I can convert almost all of her recipes to be gluten-free with ease!!! I made a few minor changes to the recipe but all in all it is pretty much the same. I swapped out the bone in skin on chicken thighs for boneless and skinless. Mainly because it was less fat but as a happy by product it also eliminated a bit of work towards the end of the recipe. I also messed a little with the spice ratio but again nothing major. I just needed to make it a bit more kid friendly in regards to spice level.  I believe this recipe originated from Better Homes and Garden.

Slow Cooker Meal

Basil Coconut Curry Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4-5 hours on high, 6-8 on low

Ingredients

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs; if you are vegan/vegetarian sub Crispy Tofu
salt and pepper to season chicken
1 TBS oil
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk; I use one light and one full fat coconut milk
2 TBS dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 TBS sweet curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 large red onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped; if you want less spicy for kids start with 1
1 TBS gluten free cornstarch
1 TBS cold water
1- 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced; depending on your level of love for ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper each side of the thigh. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add 3-4 chicken thighs. Make sure not to over crowd them in the pan. Leave a little space inbetween each thigh. Cook for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned. Then flip the chicken over to brown the other side for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process with remaining chicken.
  3. In the crock pot combine coconut milk, basil, salt, pepper, sweet curry, and chili powder. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the chopped red onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Add the browned chicken and stir to combine.
  5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Once it is done you can shred the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with two forks. Go ahead and add the ginger.
  6.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Add this to the crock pot and stir.
  7. Return the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve with rice or Cauliflower Rice.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Crunch Bowl with Salmon

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

Food bowls….not necessarily a new invention but they are definately the cool kids of food presentation right now. For starters, practically any meal you make looks bigger and better when you put it in a bowl.

Notice how I said looks bigger???  When your meal in a bowl instead of on a plate you are likely to eat less because of the structure of the bowl, i.e. less surface across and higher sides. But in the same breath you feel just as satisfied with less  because your food is stacked and mounded giving the illusion of more food. And that makes your brain and belly happy!

Food bowls are also aesthetically more pleasing than looking at your food on a plate because the bowl allows you to layer your food which gives you the most appealing mouthful possible. This creates adventure for you mouth..aka a “party in your mouth” which is how my five-year old so adeptly describes eating cake.

I think Asian food also presents really well in a bowl because of its elemental structure. Most Asian food is served with either noodles or rice as a base and is then finished with sautéed vegetables and the protein of choice. This bowl is amazing both hot and cold, as I found out the other day when I had the leftovers for lunch. So next time you want to switch things up or you are looking for an easy way to eat less and still feel satisfied, try a bowl!! FYI….kids also love to help make their bowl and it can get them more engaged with the food you want them to eat!

Makes 2 bowls

Ingredients:

Bowl

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of chicken broth or water

3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 large red pepper; thinly sliced

1 package of edamame, thawed

1/2 of a small red cabbage; cored and thinly sliced

8 ounces of skin on  wild caught salmon filets or 1 pkg of extra firm tofu to make vegan

2 teaspoons of chopped dry roasted peanuts (optional)

 

Thai Suace for Salmon or *Tofu (see notes at end for prep)

1/2 cup of GF soy sauce or coconut aminos

4 cloves of garlic; minced

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1-2 teaspoons of Siracha Chili Sauce; I use Lee Kum Kee brand

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

3 teaspoons of fish sauce

2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil

Juice of 1 lime

Sesame Peanut Sauce

2 TBS. of natural creamy peanut butter

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

1/2 TBS. sesame oil

1 teaspoon of lemongrass seasoning; we get ours at Penzey’s

1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Combine all the ingredients for sauce in a bowl. Place the salmon in another bowl and pour marinade over the salmon. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Periodically brush or baste salmon with the marinade. If you are using tofu, put the sauce in fridge until you need it in Step 6.
  2. Place quinoa and 2 cups of chicken broth or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 mnutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your sesame peanut sauce and vegetables.
  4. Once salmon has marinated for at least 30 minutes, remove from the fridge. Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a medium skillet. Place skillet on medium high heat.
  5. Once oil is hot, remove the salmon from the marinade and reserve the marinade to use with vegetables. Place salmon skin side down and sear for 3-4 minutes or until cooked about halway up the filet. Flip salmon over, place pat of butter on filet and put in oven for  another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cutting board or plate.
  6. Wipe out the skillet and put back on stove on medium heat. Put a swirl of oil in the pan and add vegeatbles to pan. Saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the reserved marinade and continue to saute until the vegetables are fork tender, another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Put quinoa in the bottom of your bowl, followed by the vegetables and place the salmon on top. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (if using), and drizzle sesame peanut sauce on top.

Tofu Option:

If you are using tofu instead of salmon follow the recipe for Crispy Tofu. Note that to prep the tofu you need to let it sit overnight so plan accordingly! Follow steps 1-3 from above. Jump down to Step 6 and in addition to the vegetables add in the Crispy Tofu and the sauce you prepared in Step 1.

 

Crispy Tofu

gluten free / vegan / dairy free

 

Meat. I don’t know about you guys but I have a love/hate relationship with it. I try to go meatless at least 3-4 times a week. Primarily, because it is the best for our bodies to be on a plant based protein diet rather than an animal based diet. And while I could spend hours (which I don’t have) telling you why that is I will instead just include a link to view a clip of an amazing documentary called Forks Over Knives. This documentary examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. It is a truly eye opening film whether you are looking to go vegetarian permanently or like me are looking for the perfect balance of both. I also began to contemplate the idea of being vegetarian because since the birth of my son in 2014 I have developed quite an aversion to certain meats like poultry and sometimes pork. I can only eat chicken in certain dishes and have to vacate the room if anyone heats up poultry or pork in the microwave, as the smell makes me beyond nauseous. And finally, but not any less important is what my consumption of meat means to our environment. Unfortunately, animal agriculture is a pretty big negative when it comes to the health of our enviornment.  It requires massive amounts of land, water and energy to raise and slaughter the animals and contributes to more than half of the green house gas emissions currently plaguing our earth. If you want to learn more check out this article from PETA on the enviornment and meat. So, while I can take down a steak with the best of them I know that in the long run it is not in my best interest personally or as a member of our planet to eat meat 24/7. So, here is a great protein alternative!

My hubby, aka the Weekend Chef makes killer tofu. It is light and crispy on the outside while having a firm yet creamy texture on the inside. Since I started eating tofu more regularly I have realized this is not always on easy feat to accomplish. More often than not, tofu can turn out either mushy or like rubber. The recipe below is a basic preperation for tofu.No bells and whistles so it can be a great protein base for almost any recipe. Just prepare it as written below and add to your recipe. I use this tofu alot when I am preparing curry or asian inspired dishes. I will make the sauce and add in the tofu near the end so it can soak up some of the flavor. If I am using the tofu with a aslow cooker recipe, I add it in about 15-20 minutes before serving. Tofu quesadillas are another great (and easy) family meal!!  Let everyone choose their own toppings and dinner is served! Enjoy!! nom nom

 

1 pkg of extra firm Tofu; we use Nayosa’s organic tofu

1/4-1/2 cup of neutral tasting oil; we use Grapeseed oil

  1. Drain liqiud from package. Place tofu block on cutting board and cut it into desired shape; cubes, patties or matchstick are common forms.
  2. Place tofu on a wire rack, place in fridge and allow to dry overnight.
  3. When you are ready to cook the tofu, place your skillet on medium-high heat and add oil.
  4. Once oil is hot, place the tofu in the skillet and “fry” until crisy and light golden brown on all sides. Approximately 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Remove from oil and place the tofu on a lined plate to drain off excess oil.

Chocolate Truffle Balls

gluten free / vegan / dairy free / refined sugar free

 

Chocolate truffles. These two words in my book are synonymous with decadence, elegance and an almost orgasmic level of bliss. And yes…I said orgasmic. Why do I say this? Simply put, a good truffle… say one from a patisserie in Paris; can quite literally transport you to a place of satisfying happiness and contentment. Quite like…you guessed it! An orgasm!!!!

But it gets better, especially for all you non-bakers or cooks. If you don’t know how to cook, make chocolate truffles. Truffles are the simplest of candy to make. They are traditionally made with cream, chocolate and something a lot of us do not have, time. So imagine my glee when I was given this recipe by my Arbonne wellness coach.  I know….I know…there are those of you who are now thinking “Crap, these things are going to be healthy and taste like fucking wet sand.” And you will now want to close your browser window and forgot you ever visited this blog. But stay with me!!! Because I promise, THESE ARE THE BOMB! I have served these at holiday parties and given them to clients or guests at wellness fairs and they think these are truffles from a candy store. 9 times out of 10 they are incredulous when I tell them what is in them. They are full of vegan protein powder courtesy of Arbonne’s nutrition line, almond butter for a compliment of healthy fat and are then rolled in heart healthy melted dark chocolate. And if you want to make them fancy there are any number of toppings you can roll them in, I made a few suggestions below. These pair exceptionally well with a cup of hot tea in winter or a bowl of fresh fruit on a hot summer day. Either way, I promise you will be left feeling happy and satisfied. Enjoy!! nom nom

Makes 16-20 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Total Time: 2 hrs 10 min

4 scoops of Arbonne chocolate or vanilla protein powder; I prefer the chocolate but vanilla is great too!

2 TBS almond butter, room temperature

1/3-1/2 cup almond milk or preferred milk; start with a 1/3 cup and add more if needed. You want the mixture to be moist and form a ball without cracking.

1 dark chocolate bar or chips; I use either Lily’s Vegan Dark Chocolate orEnjoy Life’s Vegan Chocolate. If being vegan is not a must for you then Valrona or Guittard are good brands!

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a bowl, combine protein powder, almond butter and almond milk. Mix until all the ingredients are throughly incorporated.
  3. Roll into balls that are slightly bigger than the circumference of a quarter.
  4.  Place on baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour
  5. Remove from freezer. Melt the chocolate on the stove using a double boiler or in the microwave until completely melted.
  6. Using a spoon, drop the balls into the chocolate and roll until they are covered in chocolate. Place back on the baking sheet and freeze for another hour.
  7. Keep in the fridge and try not to eat them all yourself!

Optional Toppings:

  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • chopped nuts; pistachios work great!
  • chopped dried cranberries
  • crushed pretzels
  • sea salt

After you roll the truffle in chocolate, immediately roll in desired topping and place on baking sheet to freeze.

 

 

Spinach and Black Bean Casserole

gluten-free/vegetarian/dairy free option/kid friendly

Whew! What a whirlwind ending to April!!! We have been in Florida for the past week enjoying the sun and sand and having a long overdue family reunion with my dad’s side of the family. And we were super blessed to have 80 degree weather and cloudless skies the whole time we were there. The warm weather and lazy days on the beach got me thinking about dishes that are quick and easy to prepare and that highlight the yummy produce I still have frozen in my freezer that need to disappear to make room for all the new yummy produce that is coming our way over the next few months. And since Cinco de Mayo is in a couple of days I thought this recipe would be perfect!! Serve it with guacamole and margaritas and you are guaranteed to have a fantastic Cinco de Mayo gathering!

This dish was originally made as enchiladas using flour tortillas but once I became gluten-free this dish morphed into what you see today. At first I attempted to make the enchiladas using corn tortillas but more often than not they would crack and break creating more of a messy casserole than enchiladas. So instead of fighting it I went along for the ride and switched things up! I also realized that by making it a casserole and not enchiladas I shaved about 10 minutes off my prep time, which is always a good thing in my book! But if you are jonesing for enchiladas or are using flour tortillas I made some substitution notes at the end of the recipe. Enjoy!! nom nom

 

1 15.5oz can of black beans; rinsed

4 oz can of green chilies

10 oz package of frozen spinach; thawed, squeeze out excess liquid

1 cup of frozen corn; omit if doing 30 day and replace with peppers or pinto beans

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese or non dairy shredded cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 16oz salsa

1 package of small corn tortillas

  1. In a medium bowl mash half the beans. Add the spinach, green chilies, corn, cumin, 1 cup of cheese, remaining beans and salt and pepper. Mix to combine
  2. Spread 1/2-1 jar of salsa in bottom of casserole dish. I use an oval casserole dish but a 13×9 pan would work as well.
  3. Place a single layer of tortillas down, tearing if necessary to cover any gaps. Spread approximately 1 cup of black bean mixture evenly across tortillas, then 1/2-3/4 cup of salsa, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat this process again.
  4. Bake at 425 for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly

Substitution Notes: If you make these as enchiladas using either flour or corn follow steps 1 and 2 as written above then lay the tortillas flat on the counter and divide the mixture evenly among the tortillas. Roll and place seam side down in a 13×9 pan. Finish recipe as written above.