Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Carrot & Black Cherry Baby Jellies

The huz was telling me just yesterday (after the Little Guy threw his chicken, then potato and then asparagus on the floor during dinner) that this is payback for me always playing with my food. However, I say playing and throwing are two different things. My playing was usually artfully sculpting a pool out of mashed potatoes with gravy as the water and carrots as the diving board. Little Guy, I swear, just likes to break my heart by throwing my most time-consuming meals directly on the floor for the dog to eat.

In his defense, he's 14 months old and it has to be really awesome to watch a furry animal with big teeth gobble anything he gives him.

But I digress. This is post is about playing with a fun, wiggly, shiny food. Food I apparently loved as a kid.

Meet jigglers. Or, "baby jellies" as the recipe card my mom gave me calls them. I'm not sure the origin of the recipe; I just know my mom's been using the recipe since I was a wee-one and it's great because you can control what goes in them. There's no added sugar in these and no chemicals - it's straight up juice (of any kind really) and gelatin (which isn't for everybody). I've made them with 100% carrot juice and 100% black cherry juice and Little Guy eats more than he throws. (Score!)

This recipe is so simple, you really can't mess it up.

Carrot or Black Cherry Baby Jellies 
 gluten-free, dairy-free

8.5 oz carrot or black cherry juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin

In a small saucepan, sprinkle one envelope of gelatin over juice. Let stand one minute. Stir over low heat until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Pour into a small glass "pan" - I used a Pyrex 3 cup glass container (a glass loaf pan will work too). Chill until firm in the refrigerator (about 2 hours) and cut until squares (or use fun cookie cutters).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peas as Protein & Why I'm So Pissy

I am all armed out. For the past week (and for another additional week) I am on doctor's orders "not to use my legs."

I can do everyday stuff, like walk around the house, but I'm not to go for walks, run, bike or use the elliptical or stair climber. I'm going a bit crazy.

For me, breaking a sweat on a daily basis is almost a required event. If I don't, I get cranky and tired. So, for the last week I've been trying to get good workouts in without using my legs.

And, well, It's been challenging.

I've been boxing which is a great workout and I've been lifting - a lot. But really, that's all I can come up with. No squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers. No one-leg dead lifts. No lateral jumps. Those were all my go-tos. (And I already mentioned no running. No classes at the gym either.)

I should explain why I'm not supposed to be using my legs: I have stitches in the hamstring of my right leg. I had to get a weird calcified cyst removed and biopsied (haven't heard from doc; no news is good news).

I've been thinking about putting together a little video of the arm workouts that have been successful for me; I have a handful that get my heart rate up, but I just look so dorky when I'm doing them. One of these days I'll get over my vanity and post it :)

Oh! There's a point to this post. A recipe, and a good find that I'm happy to share.

There are many studies that show you need to consume protein shortly after lifting to help build muscle. This article explains it best I think:

"A recent study found that addition of just 10 grams of protein to the post-exercise carbohydrate resulted in a net increase of protein uptake."

Many people use chocolate milk as a recovery drink because of the mix of protein and carbohydrate. I do that too (though I usually choose an added protein nondairy beverage, like the So Delicious brand and Ovaltine - make sure you get the chocolate and not "malt" one), but I recently stumbled on pea protein. Love and Peas, specifically.

I've known it existed for years as an alternative to whey and egg white protein powders, and I've eaten it in foods before but I decided to buy it as a supplement because in the winter I tend to do more resistance training than aerobic. And you guys, I really like it.

It's sweet, but not too sweet and has a mild vanilla flavor. If you use a lot of it, it can taste chalky, like many protein powders, but I tend to stick with one rounded scoop per drink. The best part is, because it's not dairy or egg based, it's good for sensitive stomachs like yours truly.

Here's how I've been eating mine lately:

Banana Peach Pea Protein Smoothie

1 rounded scoop of pea protein powder
1 frozen banana
4-5 slices frozen peaches
large handful spinach
about a cup of coconut milk beverage
(if you like cinnamon - a pinch is a nice touch)

Blend and drink. (A more decadent smoothie I also make with it includes the protein powder, the banana, a scoop of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of Ovaltine and non-dairy beverage - that one tastes like an awesome chocolate peanut butter milkshake) 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Creamy Dreamy Peppermint Mousse

All Mondays should begin with chocolate.

And really, you can't feel guilty about eating this chocolate because it's made with avocado, cocoa and agave. (And it's Valentine's Day week, so, you're supposed to have chocolate multiple times a day... at least in my world.)

This post is part of the "Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger" event that Sea at Book of Yum started. I've loved this idea ever since I started blogging back in '07. There's a talented and supportive gluten-free community out there and "adopting" is a fun way to sample other bloggers' goods (and my, are they good!)

I chose Allergy Free Test Kitchen as my adoptee; her site is relatively new to me (only because I had a bit of a blogging break while I was figuring out the whole being-a-mom-thing). Everything she posts looks and sounds amazing - and she's really informative too. It was pretty difficult to choose just one recipe to make, but with Valentine's Day coming up, I decided her Creamy Dreamy Peppermint Mousse had to be in my belly. Here's the recipe.

Putting together the mousse was super simple: you throw everything into a food processor (I used my Vitamix) and press start! It comes out creamy, rich and oh-so chocolately. Can you believe there's no dairy in this? It's referred to as mousse, but I really think it's more like a deep, dark pudding. And the peppermint - if you're a dark chocolate/peppermint fan like me - it's refreshing and dare I say - sophisticated? I think it'd be the perfect Valentine's Day dessert. (And if you don't like peppermint, just don't add it. It'll still be awesome.)

Thanks to AFTK for coming up with such a tasty and healthy treat and to Sea for hosting this! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Weekend in Photos

Smoothies, snow, sledding and a fun birthday party (for a little girl who I knew when she was in her mama's belly! Such a special thing to see). Also, A-man and I also got a night out for a fire company event, but of course failed to take any pictures all dressed up.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Ricotta Sauce

This sauce is the boss. (That phrase has to have a copyright. Hmph. There's a sauceboss and bosssauce. I'll let them sort it out...)

The lasagna that cradled it was good too, but the sauce. Guys, I've been dreaming about it. I licked the blender that I made it in. I dipped day-old kale chips in it. (And gave it to my baby boy so he could sip it in a tiny cup. Shhhh.)

And although I haven't tried it, I really think it could work veganized too (replace the ricotta with soaked, blended, raw cashews and up the spices).

The best part of it all? It was super-simple to make.

I love when that happens.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ricotta Sauce in Gluten-Free Lasagna
makes about 4 cups

For the sauce

2 cups roasted butternut squash (using defrosted or boiled squash would work too here; it just won't have that sweet, roasted flavor)
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh sage (if dried sage, use less)
salt, pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon each)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup milk, depends on how thin you want it (I used whole milk)

Place the butternut squash (sans skin), ricotta cheese, sage, salt, pepper, garlic powder, parmesean cheese and milk in a blender and blend (start on a low setting and work your way high) until it's nice and smooth.

The lasagna

1 box Tinkyada gluten-free lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups ricotta
1/4 - 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs

If you want to put yours in lasagna, here's how I made mine: I used Tinkyada gluten-free lasagna noodles (I like their pasta best so far), followed the directions on the package for cooking, then layered it in an oiled 9x12 inch glass pan, placing three noddles down, then the sauce, then dollops of ricotta cheese until I was out of noodles, then I covered the top with more sauce and gluten-free breadcrumbs and cooked at 350 degrees, covered with foil, for 45 minutes. I then took the foil off and let it bake for another 15. Let it rest out of the oven for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Turkey Soup with Gluten-Free Noodles, Grandma-Style

When it comes to family, I know I'm lucky. My Grandma lived just four houses down from where I grew up. She was a huge part of our lives.

My sister and I spent a lot of time at her house, but strangely, some of the fondest memories I have are of when I was there sick. Mom was an elementary school teacher and Dad ran his own business, so it was hard for them to take days off when my sister and I weren't feeling well, so happily, off to Grandma's we'd go. 

There we'd get back-rubs, a comfy couch or bed to lounge on and heart-warming, make-you-feel-better food. (And that one-of-a-kind love that only a Grandma can give.)

You know how some people talk about making their food with love? That you can feel the love when you take a bite? Grandma had that down. Her chicken noodle soup was a warm hug from her strong and aged arms.

And like many Grandmas, her chicken noodle soup was her go-to when one of her kids was sick.

The soup was great, but the noodles were my favorite part. They were rustic and thick - almost dumpling-like; it was such a simple recipe that I remember it easily: one cup of flour, one egg, a little salt, oil and water. She'd knead the dough, roll it out and cut it into whatever shape she wanted.

And fortunately for me, they're easily made gluten-free (and with turkey, because that's what I had on hand this week). 

Gluten-Free Turkey Noodle Soup
(with homemade gluten-free noodles)

For the stock:
1 turkey breast carcass (with some meat still left on the bones)
scrap vegetables (like celery leaves, carrot peels, onion peels)
salt, pepper, herbs you may like
water to cover

Place the turkey carcass in a large pot and cover with water. Add the scrap vegetables, salt, pepper and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered, for at least two hours (I've let it simmer for as long as five). Remove the carcass and any meat still on the bone (add the meat back to the stock) and take out the scrap vegetables.

For the soup:
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks of celery, sliced

Meanwhile, bring the broth back to a boil and add the carrots and celery. (They should cook until fork tender, about ten minutes). Then...

For the noodles:
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup superfine brown rice flour (plus 2 tablespoons for flouring your work surface)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl; make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add egg, oil and water. With your hands, incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Flour your working surface with the extra two tablespoons of flour and place dough on top. Roll out dough with a rolling pin until desired thickness (1/4 an inch is usually how I like mine). Cut into desired shape and add to boiling broth. Cook at boiling for three minutes. Eat!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Photo Friday: Social Media

I'm on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Are you? I'd love to connect!

That's a picture of a Pinterest success on my Instagram account (though I've had my share of failures). You take baking potatoes, slice almost all the way through them, lightly coat with oil and salt and bake on a baking sheet at 425 for 40 minutes. 

They're super tasty and crispy.