Portobello Mushroom Egg Pizza

Sometimes, dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) just has to be fast. Easy. A no-brainer. And sometimes, you just didn’t adequately plan ahead of time so that you could make this happen. Then what do you do?

This was my story, the evening after I ran Warrior Dash. I came home and scarfed a bit of leftover salad from the fridge, showered to get rid of the 1,000 pounds of mud from my body, and made myself presentable enough to take the kids out for a promised pizza dinner. (Yes, sometimes the kids get junk food.) By the time we got back home, I was suddenly famished (obviously, my salad “snack” wasn’t enough) and craving pizza. I hadn’t made plans for a meal beforehand, since we were taking the kids out. I figured I would rummage something up for myself. Only for some reason, I’d underestimated a) how hungry and b) how tired I would be.

So my “rummaging” turned up some portobello mushrooms that needed to be used up, some eggs, and a few pantry ingredients – tomato paste, olives, and a bit of Daiya cheese I’d stashed in the freezer. I was going to make some sort of pizza, I’d decided. It might not be traditional, but it would be nutritious, easy, and hopefully tasty.

Indeed it was. I had the “pizzas” ready to go into the oven in about 5 minutes (although it took longer than that to allow the oven to heat up) and could relax for a few minutes while they baked in the oven. In less than 30 minutes, and with the few dishes I used already washed (a bonus!), I had dinner – two gigantic portobello pizzas, enough to serve 2 people (with a side salad, perhaps). I paused just long enough to get this somewhat decent photo taken for you before both were gone. And I’m not apologizing for that.

These indeed hit the spot. They were delicious. The portobello provided a lovely, meaty base for the “pizza”, and the olives and seasoned tomato paste gave it the “pizza” flavor I was after. The egg just gave it a delicious, rich sauce, as I only baked it long enough to set the whites, leaving the yolk all warm and runny. So. So. Good.

All of a sudden as I’m writing this, I’m hungry for another one of these. I might have to accidentally-on-purpose make some more this weekend.

Portobello Mushroom Egg Pizza

2 large portobello mushroom caps, stems hollowed out

Olive oil or baking spray

salt and pepper

1/3 c tomato paste

1 t Italian seasoning or pizza seasoning

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t onion powder

8-10 black olives, sliced (I used Kalamata)

1/4 c dairy-free cheese (such as Daiya)

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray or brush mushrooms with oil and season the insides with salt and pepper and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder. Spread the sauce over the inside of the mushrooms. Sprinkle olives and dairy-free cheese over. Carefully crack one egg on top of each.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set to your liking. Remove and serve.

Serves 2, or one very hungry person.

Note: You can use any toppings you like on these pizzas. Roasted red peppers, pepperoni, cooked crumbled Italian sausage, ham, jalapenos, artichokes – anything goes!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.





Expanding My Grilling Horizons (Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples)

I love to grill. It’s a great thing that I live in Texas, where I can practically break out the grill year-round. But when the days get longer and we all long to be outdoors, that’s when our grill really pays for its place on our back patio. Any night of the week, I can throw a few steaks, some chicken breasts, or even a burger or two on the grill, and with a quick salad, we have a delicious meal. Less fuss and fewer dishes. It’s my kind of cooking!

But this year, I’m going to expand my grilling horizons. Far too often I reserve the grill for cooking meat. Sometimes, I’ll throw a portobello mushroom or two on there, but generally, all of the side dishes are prepared indoors. Well, friends, no more! I’ve decided that nothing is off-limits when it comes to the grill. Vegetables, desserts, salads – they’re all fair game. Okay, beverages might be difficult…but never say never, right?

(Okay, I don’t think my glass of ice water will be used for anything except possibly putting OUT fires on the grill…)

To get this project off on the right foot today, I decided to start with a salad. Since our kale is still growing in full force in the garden, I opted to use it. (A side note: I do love grilling because it reminds me to water the garden in the evenings – the garden is lucky I opted to grill today!) Since I had some apples and grapes that were longing to be used, I thought a waldorf-inspired salad was in order. I made up a quick dressing (using my homemade mayonnaise I made following this recipe) and tossed together the kale, some walnuts, grapes, and celery. And grilled apples.

Yes. I grilled the apples. Ever had a grilled apple? It’s essentially all of the deliciousness of a baked apple, only in a fraction of the time and with the added fun of being outdoors. And it’s a perfect addition to a salad.

That’s it! A super-easy salad that involves no grilling of any meat whatsoever. I’m feeling like my horizons are expanded already, and it’s not even summer!

Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples

1 large apple, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick

juice of 1 lemon, divided

1 T honey

1 T mayonnaise

1 t Dijon mustard

Pinch salt and pepper

1 large bunch kale, leaves torn

1/3 c sliced celery

¼ c toasted, chopped walnuts

¼ c grapes, sliced in half

Heat the grill to high heat. Meanwhile, brush the apple slices with half of the lemon juice and lightly brush with honey. When the grill is hot, oil the grates and grill the apple slices just until they have grill marks but retain some firmness, about a minute on each side. Remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together any remaining honey, the other half of the lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Toss the kale leaves with the dressing and coat well – massage with your fingers to really soften up the kale leaves. Add the celery, walnuts, grapes, and apple slices (cut into smaller pieces if you desire) and toss again.

Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Salad will last a day or two in the fridge.

Want to win a $25 Sears gift card? For your chance to win, tell me why, aside from the food (which is my favorite part, but not killing the garden comes in pretty close), you love to grill?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sears. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

“Strong Is the New Skinny?” How About “Body Appreciation Is the New…Everything?”

Strong Is the New Skinny. It’s the latest meme out there, and it can be seen everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a great many fitness and healthy living blogs. It usually accompanies a photo of some insanely ripped, ultra-muscular woman, meant to inspire the masses of women to not strive for Kate Moss-esque thinness, but instead work towards fitness and strength as a goal.

But after seeing this for a few weeks, it just doesn’t resonate with me. Sure, the intention is there, and I have no doubt that those responsible for making “strong is the new skinny” popular had the female population’s best interests at heart. Yes, fitness and strength are great things to strive for. But when they are accompanied by yet another impossibly idealistic photo of a woman with muscle definition that most of us could not attain, or maintain without intense dedication? For the majority, this makes for yet another ideal that we cannot achieve, causing dissatisfaction at falling short of what is “in”. Basically, unattainable one body image has been traded for another.

About a month ago, I ditched my scale in an effort to work towards a healthier relationship with my body. Until that point in time, I’d been weighing myself several times a week and counting calories almost daily, which was only succeeding in driving myself a little bit mad. Even though I knew I needed to work on appreciating my body (and myself) for what it is and what it can do, my actions were preventing me from moving forward.

It wasn’t just the scale, either. In the past few years, I’ve started to really focus on fitness as well, making sure I do something just about every day. Now, I don’t by any means consider myself an athlete, and the idea of referring to myself as “fit” even sounds strange to me. (I didn’t grow up doing anything athletic, unless you count choir a sport.) But I’ve started to push myself in various new ways – running, learning how to strength train, practicing yoga, participating in events like JailBreak and Warrior Dash, and of course, soccer. For the most part, this process has been great – I’ve learned that my body is stronger and more capable of things than I ever gave it credit for, and it’s exciting to see progress (and I’ve had a lot of fun!). But even fitness can get out of hand. There were times when I’d beat myself up for missing a workout (or not allowing myself to miss a workout, even if I was exhausted or feeling ill), because that meant I was weak or lazy or somehow didn’t meet the ideal “fit” image. Even if I ran a 5K without walking, and ran a great time, there were times I would still beat myself up for not running harder/faster. In yoga, I’d be frustrated if I couldn’t perform the more advanced variations of a pose, instead of realizing how much stronger I’d become or how I could maintain my balance more than I could a month prior. And even if I felt fit and strong one day, if I looked in the mirror and didn’t see that ripped, buff image in my reflection, that feeling of strength lessened. Whether it was the “skinny” image or the “strong” image, I wasn’t fitting either.

In short, I was missing the point.

Since I ditched the scale and have made a “pact” with myself to work towards a healthier image, I’ve felt a bit freer. A bit more in tune with what my body wants and needs. Does this mean I don’t fall into old habits or old ways of thinking? Of course not. It’s a process. And judging by the responses I received on my blog post about this topic, I’m not alone. A great many of us struggle with what we think is our “ideal” body, whether that’s “skinny” or “strong” or whatever, and some of us beat ourselves up about it all too much.

So what should be the new “skinny”? “Strong” has its shortcomings. “Healthy”? Health is an excellent goal, and heck, Tasty Eats At Home is more or less a healthy eating/living blog. But I think even then, that can cause trouble, as not everyone is in perfect health (some have chronic diseases that, while they can be managed, could prevent them from achieving an ideal of “health”), and constantly striving for perfect health can cause that same mental anguish as any of the other “images”. I’m not sure anything should be the “new”…anything, truthfully. I’d rather we forego the “new skinny” thing entirely. Body image shouldn’t be a trend. Instead, why not strive for appreciation?

Instead of trying to be the “new” anything, appreciate your body for what it is. Be okay with who you are, and love that you are unique. Strong is a good attribute, but don’t measure it against an image. Be strong in your convictions, and be strong in your confidence. Be strong in your sense of self. And be appreciative of what your body can do. Set goals, but also be accepting of where you are today. You may not run the fastest 5K, but at least you can run or walk. You may not be able to do a pull-up (I can’t), but at least you are trying and working at it. Some people are simply working to recover from serious illness, so being able to make it through the day is enough. Most of us can hear music, feel the warmth of the sun on our face, walk unassisted, love friends and family, and have the ability to pursue our dreams and happiness. These are gifts. Be thankful for them, and be thankful that you have the ability to challenge your mind and body. Allow yourself to just “be”.

There is not a more beautiful image than someone who is appreciative and respectful of his/her body, and that image is as unique as every one of us. If we were to treat ourselves and one another with that in mind, health, strength, and so much more would just fall into place.


Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Vegan, Grain-Free)

I’m a fan of alliterations, aren’t you? Especially when they involve chocolate and cherries. These little treats definitely fit the bill: delicious chocolate little morsels filled with dried bing cherries with just the right amount of sweetness. They may not be the flashiest, prettiest little dessert, but after a long stretch without sweets (I’ve just finished a Whole30), these were heaven. They’re still paleo-friendly, as they’re sweetened only with fruit and a touch of stevia, but that was more than enough.

They’re also grain-free, nut-free, and vegan – something that is rare in any baked good. A while back, Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake shared a chocolate chip cookie recipe using pumpkin seed flour. Pumpkin seeds, a.k.a. pepitas, are a great alternative to nuts, especially if someone in your family has an allergy, or your children attend a nut-free school. Just process them in a coffee grinder until finely ground, and you have yourself a nutritious flour! I couldn’t wait until I got my hands on some pumpkin seeds so I could try out this method. So after grinding away, and poking around in my pantry to see what fun ingredients I could throw together with this new flour, I came out armed with some cocoa powder, dates, prunes, and cherries. Next thing I knew, these cookies were born.

Which isn’t surprising. If I wander into the kitchen to bake, chances are, what I will be baking is cookies. It’s my go-to dessert. Maybe it’s because I’ve always adored cookies, even back when I was a gluten-eater. I’d snub most cakes and other treats, but a cookie? Oh yes, I was game. Now that I bake gluten-free and dairy-free (and often grain and sugar-free as well), cookies are an easy thing to create. Cookies don’t have to be light and airy and have that perfect cake crumb; they’re not tricky like gluten-free breads. Maybe it’s just my point of view, but cookies are a lot more forgiving. Besides, they’re delicious. Who doesn’t like cookies?

Especially chewy chocolate cookies with cherries?

That’s what I thought.

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Paleo)

10 prunes

3 Medjool dates

1 ½ c pumpkin seed flour (grind raw shelled pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder)

3 T cocoa powder

¼ t baking soda

2 t cinnamon

¼ t sea salt

2 T applesauce

2 T coconut oil, melted

1 ½ t vanilla extract

¼ t almond extract

¼-1/2 t vanilla stevia extract

¾ c dried bing cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a small bowl, heat water until just boiling. Add prunes and dates and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, whisk together pumpkin seed flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt in a medium bowl.

Remove prunes and dates from water and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add applesauce coconut oil, and extracts and process until it forms a paste. Add pumpkin seed flour mixture and process until well-blended. Adjust sweetness level to your liking with stevia, blending well. Stir in cherries.

Using oiled hands, roll tablespoonfuls of the dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Flatten with the back of a spoon or the heel of your hand.

Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 1 ½ dozen.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Interested in learning about gluten-free baking? Join me and other Community Leaders at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 7 PM CDT to discuss gluten-free baking! Just visit this link to attend!