Tag Archive: product review

Blended coffee

The idea of putting something hot into a blender?  Ummm…side eye…orrrr…not?

To be honest, the reason I never looked into the whole bulletproof coffee thing (and all the iterations of recipes that have been born since that one was trademarked) wasn’t because I thought butter and coffee shouldn’t mix (I don’t, nor do I think it’s an adequate replacement for breakfast, but that’s not the main issue), but because I feared whizzing steaming coffee would end in some kind of disastrous burn.

Turns out, it’s not as scary as I thought.  Not at all.  But!  Ever since doing it, I’ve come up with a short cut that others with similar steamy blender aversions may appreciate.  So I thought I should share.

First things first, I don’t do dairy, so coconut oil is my fat of choice.  And I’ve fallen in LOVEEEE with Sports Research’s products.  Remember how I’m using their collagen peptides in my smoothies?  Their products are top quality.  So now I’m all into the MCT oil.  It’s made from organic coconuts!  And unlike other supplements I’ve taken in the past, it doesn’t have any fishy stink, whatsoever.  It’s pure MCT oil sourced from non GMO coconuts (in a BPA free container too), so of course it’s vegan and gluten free.

For me, 1 tsp of oil is plenty, since I’m not looking at this drink as a meal replacement. Much more than that can lead to some GI effects anyway (anyone who eats coconut oil regularly knows what I’m talking about). From a supplemental standpoint, coconut oil has soooo many awesome health benefits.  And that has a lot to do with the oh so popular medium chain triglycerides, aka MCTs.  Man are these guys getting their moment in the spotlight!  I’m having flashbacks to my college bio classes thinking about their glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains. I won’t go into any more nitty gritty chemical details, but suffice it to say, they are a decent source of energy, are reasonably easy to metabolize, and potentially promote fat oxidation (there are mixed studies). All good stuff!  And when sourced from quality places (ie coconuts), there’s really no downside to including them in your diet.

Ok, the next thing I use is almond milk.  But you don’t need much because it gets frothy in the blender and Somehow tastes like creamy magic without, well, cream.

And finally, liquid chocolate stevia.  You could do plain stevia, obviously, but I like the mocha thang this does.

Here’s the thing.  I use room temp coffee.  If you make your coffee fresh every morning, you can easily do this with hot coffee (in a blender with a vent) OR you could do what I do and use your (leftover) coffee from the day before.  I don’t even keep it in the fridge (although making this with iced coffee is probably just as amazing).  I leave it on the pot and just pour it in the blender when I’m ready for a cup.  It’s weirdly perfect at that temp.  And I’m saying this as a hot coffee loverrrrr. Maybe it’s the summer heat.  Or maybe I’m on to something with this combo.  But whatever it is, this drink is bomb.

  • 1 cup room temp / chilled coffee
  • 1 tsp MCT oil (this one is made from coconut oil)
  • 2-3 tbsp almond milk
  • 3 drops liquid stevia (this chocolate is the best!)

It gets so foamy and delicious you guys HAVE to try it!  It’s definitely something I look forward to every morning…it tastes great and it’s healthy 🙂

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain

I’ve been following Danielle’s blog for a while and she frequently alludes to recipes in her various cookbooks that sound delicious.  Her blog is very allergy conscious, which is one of the many reasons I started following it (back when P was diagnosed with multiple allergies).  She also comes from an SCD background (similar to FODMAPs) and so that was another key thing that intrigued me (because so few people are knowledgeable in both cooking/recipe writing AND IBS dietary treatment protocol).  So I decided to check out her cookbook from the library to see if it might be worth the purchase.

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And in the few weeks I had it, I managed to make a BUNCH of recipes…

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Thanks to the WF #onedaysale a couple weeks ago, I got to test out the recipe for home-made stock.

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Then I shredded a bunch of meat to have on hand for other recipes that week.

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First I made the Mexican chicken chowder (p 92) which was kind of like tortilla soup but with sweet potato and spinach.

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Since we are not a grain free family (at all) we enjoyed ours with tortilla chips on top and on the side and all around.  🙂

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The lime juice at the end really made the recipe pop.  Kyle commented on the flavors and I definitely agreed.  It was delicious for how simple it was.  I cheated and used jarred tomatillo salsa because it’s winter and I don’t have access to tomatillos (or time to make my own salsa).   Also, TJs makes a great salsa verde so why not.  I like meals that the whole family digs into enthusiastically.

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I also used the shredded chicken for her curried chicken lettuce cups (p 102).

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I bought mint just for this recipe and then forgot to use it so now I need to figure out a use for mint.  I’m thinking the mint ice cream recipe in her book may be the answer (Kyle’s definitely hoping for the same).  Truth be told, this recipe isn’t exactly novel, but it was still great and I found myself adding it to the menu two weeks later.

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And you guys!  P was SO CUTE with these.  Initially, I gave him a scoop of curry chicken separate from some ripped up pieces of bibb lettuce, but he was watching us and decided to make his own lettuce wraps.  And he did it so well!  It was so cute.

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Obviously his portion couldn’t have nuts, so I added cashews to ours after we scooped it out and onto the lettuce.

The second time I made it, we used golden raisins in place of grapes (because we couldn’t find any organic grapes) and it was still awesome.  I also remembered the mint.

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Crackers!

You all know I’m into making my own crackers, but it was nice to try a new recipe out.  Her cheesy crackers (almond crisps p. 218) were sorta fluffier than the ones I make.  That’s probably because mine use a ton of coconut oil, but I also may not have rolled the ones I made with her recipe out thin enough.  They had baking soda in them, so I thought that was a little odd, but maybe that is why they were a little softer and puffier too.  Either way they were good.

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P and I both liked them.  He definitely tolerates nutritional yeast and I feel comfortable giving it to him now as long as it’s not from bulk bins (I order it from Thrive).

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They were awesome kale salad accompaniments.

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Next up was the banana bread (p. 224).

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It’s pretty rare for me to follow any recipes for quick breads – even my own.  I make banana breads SO OFTEN that I hardly measure things, I just go by look.  This one was done by the books though.

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The center sunk a little overnight but it was still very tasty.  The texture is one I’m familiar with in terms of grain free baking – extra moist (sorry) on in the inside without the bread-like crumble.  I don’t mind it since I’ve been baking with almond and coconut flour for years.

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I added walnuts and Enjoy Life chocolate chips for fun.  I ate it mostly myself but P did have some.

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Kyle’s not a sweet breakfast person, but he does occasionally like banana bread.  Still, he skipped this loaf because I already baked kumquat poppyseed muffins for him.

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Here’s a glam shot of those bad boys (to be clear, these were not from Danielle’s book) with extra butter on top.  I’m making another batch soon.

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P and I made the spiced pumpkin muffins (p 228) for a brunch date.   I liked that they weren’t too sweet and offered more nutritional oomph than your average gluten free carby treat.  P ate the leftovers for breakfasts over the next couple of weeks (they lasted a long time in the fridge).

Her final recipe I have to share was the one I was most excited about when I first got the book, and that is her hamburger “buns” recipe (p 242).

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They were definitely more labor intensive than the quickbreads I make so I saved them for a weekend (when Kyle was home to watch the kiddos while I did my thing in the kitchen).

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I omitted the sesame seed topping (because P is allergic) and I made 6 rolls instead of 4 (because I wanted them to last me longer and I wasn’t planning on using them as buns) and they came out perfect.  I bought raw organic cashews from Thrive especially for this baking project.

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And that’s all!

I take it back.  Once more thing.

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Based on her recipe for butternut squash soup with pork (p 94), I made this but tweaked the crap out of it thereby making it an entirely new recipe (vegan, in fact).

I know it’s not the most appealing.  In terms of aesthetics….brown sludge doesn’t photograph well.  But the flavors were out of this WORLD.  And did I mention this was a winner for the whole family!?!  As in, all of our diverse palates and allergies and number of teeth enjoyed this dish!

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Butternut White Bean Soup [vegan, gluten free, soy free, dairy free, nut free]

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (feel free to use fresh garlic cloves and olive oil)
  • 3-4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh pepper
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp crushed bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 can white beans

Directions:

Add the onions and the olive oil to a large pot and cook until translucent, then add the rest of the vegetables (squash, celery, carrots).  Cover with a lid and cook until softened enough to pierce with a fork relatively easily.

Then add the spices and white beans and let it simmer a little bit more.

Finally, using an immersion blender, puree as much (or as little) as you’d like.  I left parts a little chunky but pureed about half of the white beans to thicken up the broth so it would have a creamy smooth texture.  I feel like it gave the soup some oomph (broth just seems too weak to carry a meal sometimes) while still letting you have stuff to chew (because I don’t necessarily want to drink my whole dinner).

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I thought this soup was SO GOOD.  And I’m not even a big soup person.  Seriously, Kyle and I kept commenting over and over again about how much depth there was in the flavors.

Normally I don’t like leftovers, but this was one I was SUPER excited to eat again and again.  P and V were both big fans as well.

Hummus sauce chilaquiles

You could certainly go a bunch of directions with this recipe, but I kept it vegan because…LOOK!!!

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Chilaquiles are obviously a traditional Mexican dish, so this is not in the realm of authentic.  However, I wanted to tweak the idea of a dish with fried tortilla strip topped with a spicy tomato sauce and cheese (which is what chilaquiles are) using a hummus sauce as the base.

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Also, it’s super bowl season and Sabra is the “official dip sponsor” so obviously I had to get involved.  Check out dip zone.com for more info on how Stacy’s and Sabra are working together to get some yum into your face on game day.

They are having a BUY SNAP SAVE promo that gets you a $5 gift card (just for buying and eating foods you will already want and enjoy!!!).  Yes please.

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Ok so let’s get this recipe going.

There are options aplenty, but I’m going to tell you what I did.

VEGAN HUMMUS SAUCE CHILAQUILES [vegan, gluten free*, soy free, dairy free, nut free]

Ingredients:

  • 3 large handfuls of corn tortilla chips
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tub Sabra hummus (I used original but any of the spicier varieties would be stellar)
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 2-3 tbsp enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • kale/avocado/lentil salad
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • handful cilantro
  • [optional toppings] eggs, sour cream, lime juice

Massaged kale lentil salad

  • 2 heaping cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 tub (4 oz) Sabra guacamole
  • 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the kale salad by massaging the greens with olive oil until the greens start to break down a bit.  Then toss with lentils and guacamole until it’s uniformly mixed.

Heat olive oil on the stove in a 9″ (oven safe) pan. Add chips to coat the whole pan and let them fry in the oil, tossing as needed to brown.  Turn down heat while you make the hummus sauce.

Combine the hummus, salsa, and 1 tbsp of enchilada sauce then pour over the chips and turn the heat back up.  Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce on top, along with corn, and let cook until sauce gets hot and bubbly throughout.

Finally add the kale mixture and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

Once out of the oven, add the cilantro and green onions, and dig in.

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*If it’s necessary, be sure to read the label of your enchilada sauce to note that it is gluten free.

This is pretty much the perfect game day food.  You can make a massive skillet and it only takes a quick time in the oven to get a nice crispy top, and then you place it down on the table and have at it.  If you’re having a Super Bowl party, make the meal a family style event!!  The lentils and kale get such a nice texture with that oven time.  And thanks to the greens, it’s kinda almost like you’re eating a salad while watching the game, right????  Totally.

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There are tweaks galore, as you can imagine, like swapping black beans for the lentils or red onions for green ones.  If you’re not vegan, crack a few eggs on top before sending them to the oven and you’ll get some nicely poached beauties after an extra ten minutes or so.  And while I don’t think cheese is at all missing from this equation, I won’t fault anyone who wants to double down on the dairy.

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Ok now tell me all your Super Bowl predictions??  I’m thinking Carolina is going the distance, but you never can count out Mr. Brady…

Hippie hygiene musings

IMG_0462A few years ago I switched from face lotion to plain old oil.  I have used coconut, jojoba, and kukui (and maybe others I can’t recall).  I have always loved Caribbean Sol’s products, although you can get coconut oil everywhere these days.  Then my MD gave me crap (rightfully so) for not using something with spf.  So now I use oils in winter and something with spf the rest of the year when I’m actually in the sun for longer than parking lot walks.

I previously blogged about block island’s sunscreen because it’s totally awesome.  And now they are diversifying their line because they have a night cream!  And a facial cleanser!  I don’t use night cream, so this is my new every day face lotion (which the label says is cool).  At least for winter when you don’t need UV protection from the sun.  It’s made with good stuff – no sketchy crap for my face thankyouverymuch.

Recently I thought about making my own all natural skin/hair care products.  Thoughts?  Kyle thinks it’s a way hippie move and isn’t sure he wants to be lathering up with my home-made concoctions but the Thrive catalog I got last week has super simple “recipes” for shampoos and conditioners with stuff I basically already have on hand.

Who is into the essential oil scene?  I know it’s way popular right now, but if I were to invest in a few, which would be the ones to start out with?  Lavender?  Peppermint?  Rosemary?  I’m thinking a little goes a long way, but they are still kinda pricey.

Incidentally I burned my arm (badly) last week and was googling natural remedies and essential oils were all up in those.  I ended up making a vinegar/water soak and it soothed it quite nicely.  I’m starting to think you can solve all the world’s problems with either vinegar or baking soda.  No joke, I use them for every single purpose these days – cleaning and beyond.  Those combined with Dr. Bronner’s castile soap is essentially my entire cleaning repertoire.  Which is why I think I could do my own hygiene thing!?

Anyway, those are my hippie musings for today.

BTW, most of these are still the same products I use today.  EO and Dr. Bronner’s are definitely my favorite brands.  You can totally get them on Thrive for $ less than elsewhere.

Deep dish polenta casserole

I have a limited rotation of breakfasts that I make for Kyle, usually strata or coffee cake (with days of cereal in between if I can’t get my act together in time).  It’s because those are the easiest things to make and then last a while which streamlines mornings for us all.

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But then this idea came to me when we had all the ingredients for a strata but no bread.  Polenta!  And to make it last a while, why not make it in a big baking dish?  YES.  YES YES YES.  And it was so super simple to make.

Let’s talk ingredients.

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You guys know my favorite hummus ever is SABRA, so don’t act surprised that this features the roasted pine nut flavor.  It’s Kyle’s second favorite so I get it just for him.  His number one is the basil pesto for the record.  I am a classic and roasted red pepper girl (nothing new, why mess with perfection?).

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So yeah.  Kyle’s lunches have Sabra hummus like every day.  Which you’d think would mean he would be sick of having it for breakfast too, butttttt…he’s married to me for a reason…hummus lovers for life. [We just have to be secretive about it due to Pacman’s sesame allergy]

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Total contraband right there.  We legit eat hummus in hiding like nervous teenagers trying to hide $*# from our parents.  Anyway, I am getting off topic.

Back to the deep dish polenta casserole.

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It looks weird going in to the oven but you just have to have faith.  It will work out, I promise.

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See?  Told ya.

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This was a big hit and managed to last Kyle almost two weeks!  That’s completely unheard of for his breakfasts.  Btw, this would make a nice vegetarian dinner too.  Ready for the recipe?  Great!

Deep Dish Polenta Casserole [vegetarian, gluten free, soy free, dairy free*]

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry corn grits/polenta
  • 3 1/2 cups boiling liquid (I used water, but milk or a combo would work)
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tub Sabra roasted pine nut hummus
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (use dairy free – i.e. Daiya – if needed)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a large baking dish** (7×11 is the size I used and it was perfect) with olive oil.  Toss tomatoes and onions in the oil, then add the polenta and hummus, followed by the boiling water.  It’s essentially like a dump cake in that you don’t need to mix it much.  It’s a very low fuss recipe.  Feel free to stir the hummus a bit to break it up and disperse it, but you really don’t have to.  Then place it in the oven (still without cheese).

Once it has baked for ~20 minutes, take it out of the oven and add the cheese on top.  Most of the liquid should have absorbed at this point.  Then place it back in the oven and let it bake until it is mostly set (another ~5 minutes).  It can still be a little jiggly, but definitely shouldn’t have visible liquid.  Let it cool a bit before serving.

The longer this cools the more it will “set”.  Serving it right away will make it an eat-with-a-spoon kind of meal.  But if you make it in advance and store it in the fridge, by the next day it will be a more firm (like polenta) casserole.

*I used a three cheese mix for this one, but any combo of cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan would work.  For a dairy free/vegan version, use an appropriate substitution, such as Daiya.

**The size dish you use does matter here because a thinner polenta (with more surface area exposed to the air) will bake faster.  If you use a larger or smaller one than mine, expect shorter or longer baking times (respectively).

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Below is what it looked like before I added cheese.

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Then cheese.

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And voila.

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All that herb-y roasted pizza flavor in a beautiful savory bite.