Category Archives: Budget-Friendly

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake

Check out this chocolate sheet cake. Fudgy, chocolatey goodness. It’s gluten and dairy-free to boot. But what if I told you that it was a tad healthier than a traditional chocolate cake? And that there was a secret ingredient in this cake that contributes to it’s “healthy” status? Furthermore, no one can tell that this is anything but a fudgy, indulgent treat.

Wanna know what that secret ingredient is?

Head on over to The Balanced Platter, where I’m sharing the recipe for this chocolate sheet cake. I’ll be divulging all of my secrets and more!

 

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes)

Okay, well, as you can tell by the photo, this sweet potato is stuffed with more than just that simple radish top pesto I made the other day. (See, I told you it was good for lots of things!) There’s all sorts of delicious, nutritious goodness stuffed in there – specifically black beans, shiitake mushrooms, and red bell peppers. It’s a filling, healthy, meatless mish-mash of flavor. Perfect for a quick little meal, or a side dish – whichever you prefer.

Never stuffed a sweet potato before? Well, don’t you fret – it’s not hard. In fact, this version of a stuffed sweet potato is just one of many (and exists merely as a result of my desire to utilize the available produce hanging out in my fridge). Hallie over at Daily Bites made a Broccoli and Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potato a while back, Gena from Choosing Raw has a super-healthy Kale and Quinoa version, and Kate from Eat, Recycle, Repeat shared a Bacon, Mushroom and Onion version as well as a sweet Chestnut, Apple and Coconut version over at Paleo Parents. Clearly, we love our sweet potatoes out there in the blogosphere!

Personally, I am partial to my version topped with my radish top pesto. That fresh, creamy pesto added a lovely flavor and texture that married all of the other ingredients together wonderfully. Back in the day, I would have reached for cheese as an easy way to achieve that result – now, it’s liberating to find new ways to combine flavors and textures and still satisfy the way cheese used to. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I miss cheese, but with flavors like this, those days are few and far between.

Next time you’re looking for an easy meal idea, try stuffing a sweet potato! This version, with smoky beans, sweet bell pepper, and the rich umami of the mushrooms, topped with pesto, is definitely a win in my book.

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes) (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

2 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender (bake in 375 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes)

1 T olive oil

8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14 oz can black beans (I like Eden Organic), drained

1 t ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Radish Top Pesto

Bake sweet potatoes. While they are baking, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute until the mushrooms soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or until garlic is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat black beans over medium-low heat, adding ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until warmed through.

Once sweet potatoes are baked through, cut a slit in each sweet potato. Open enough to expose a good amount of the flesh inside. Season with a bit of salt, and then top with mushroom-red pepper mixture and black beans. Finally, top with a healthy dollop of radish top pesto.

Serves 2.

Radish Top Pesto with Walnuts and Hemp

Radish tops – have you ever eaten them?

Up until recently, it never occurred to me that you could. After all, when you visit the grocery and buy a typical bunch of radishes, the green tops are usually wilted and past their prime, and really, they don’t look the least bit appetizing. I just assumed they were something you threw away.

Once I started purchasing radishes from the farmer’s market, however, one of the farmers mentioned to me that the tops were delicious as well. Eat the tops?, I thought. What a novel concept. I sautéed them once or twice after then, but never really thought them anything special. I’d eat them, sure, but if I was to choose between them and another leafy green, chances are I’d choose arugula, kale, or chard over radish tops. But this weekend, I was faced with a huge bunch of radish tops after harvesting radishes from our garden. (A side note: If you are new to gardening, I suggest planting radishes. They’re easy, and they go from seed to harvest in what seems like record time. These took a little over a month.) They were better-looking radish tops than even most I’ve seen, even at the farmer’s markets. I’m not trying to brag on my gardening skills, which are far from spectacular; it’s just that they were perfectly green, healthy-looking, with no blemishes to speak of. I felt I really needed to highlight them, not just throw them in a skillet and sauté. So, I put a shout-out on Instagram and Twitter. After I received the suggestion from Ali at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen to throw it in smoothies, I made plans to add a good amount into my green juices. But I still had plenty left.

And then, like magic, it came to me. Why not make pesto? I’ve seen basil pesto (and have even made some), arugula pesto, and even kale pesto. Radish tops could be made into pesto too! The next thing I knew, the food processor was out and in a matter of minutes, this pesto was born.

This little condiment is a bit milder than a basil or arugula pesto – there isn’t that overly herbal or peppery bite to it. Instead, it adds a lovely freshness to anything it graces. It would be delicious in a sandwich, in a chicken salad, on top of eggs, in potato salad, on a burger, or as a dip for raw veggies. I could keep going. Basically, I think pesto could be added to everything. Because, well, why not?

If you happen upon some lovely radish tops this spring, don’t just toss them – give this pesto a try!

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto with Walnuts and Hemp (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

4 cups radish tops/greens, packed

1/4 c walnuts, toasted in a skillet

1/4 c hemp seeds/hemp hearts

1/4 c nutritional yeast flakes

1 T green garlic (young garlic – 1-2 cloves of regular garlic can be substituted), roughly chopped

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t black pepper

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Place radish tops, walnuts, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until the leaves are broken down. With the processor going, drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until everything is pretty smooth and no large chunks remain. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Makes about 2/3 cup. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for about a week.

Farmer’s Market Quinoa “Bibimbap”

While I know some of you might still be dealing with snow (even though it’s mid-April!), down in Texas, Spring is definitely here. The farmer’s markets have opened for the season, and they’re full of greens, asparagus, spring onions, carrots, beets, and more. There’s even some zucchini from East Texas. I didn’t hesitate to grab as much as we could possibly consume this week when I went this past Saturday, and possibly a little too much. I tend to get really ambitious when I see so much fresh produce, and I buy like there’s no tomorrow. Does anyone else have this issue?

Of course, in my usual fashion, I arrived home after my farmer’s market trip late in the morning, famished. I had to get something tasty in my belly that wouldn’t take a ton of time. With all the veggies in the house, and cravings lately for all sorts of Asian flavors, I suddenly had an idea strike. What if I made bibimbap?

Bibimbap is traditionally a popular Korean dish consisting of rice topped with a mixture of seasoned and/or cooked vegetables, and often beef and a raw or fried egg. The vegetables I’ve seen in bibimbap are typically cucumber, bean sprouts, carrots, daikon radish, spinach, and the like. I figured that I could take some liberty, and use what I had on hand (along with some quinoa instead of the traditional rice, just for fun) to make a unique version of this dish. I grabbed some of my wares from the farmer’s market: zucchini, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, green onions, and mizuna (Mizuna is a Japanese green, slightly peppery and spicy, although not as spicy as arugula. It’s one of my favorite greens). Next thing I knew, this new “bibimbap” was born.

This could be my new favorite Saturday meal, to be honest. It’s endlessly versatile and can be modifed throughout the season as different vegetables are available. It also helps take care of that “OMG, what will I do with all this stuff?” dilemma that so often accompanies a big farmer’s market purchase. And with an egg or two on top, plus a little Sriracha, how can you go wrong?

Print Recipe

Farmer’s Market Quinoa Bibimbap (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

1 c quinoa, rinsed

Sauteed shiitake mushrooms (see instructions below)

Sauteed asparagus (see instructions below)

Sauteed mizuna (see instructions below)

1 medium zucchini, cut into strips

2 carrots, peeled and cut into strips

1-2 T coconut oil

8 eggs

1 sheet toasted nori, crumbled

1/2 c chopped green onion

Kimchi

Additional wheat-free tamari

Sriracha

 

Prepare the quinoa as directed on the package. Once cooked, divide among 4 bowls. Prepare the shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and mizuna, and divide among the bowls. Divide zucchini and carrot strips among the bowls as well.

Wipe out the skillet used for sautéing vegetables and add coconut oil. Heat over medium heat. Fry eggs just until whites are set, 2 at a time, adding more oil as needed. Remove eggs and place on top of each bowl of quinoa and veggies.

Serve bowls with crumbled nori, green onion, kimchi, additional tamari, and Sriracha as desired.

For the mushrooms:

1 T coconut oil

1 t sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

½ lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 t wheat-free tamari

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil and sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are cooked through. Add tamari and toss to incorporate. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

For the asparagus:

Additional coconut oil as needed

2 c asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch lengths

Salt and pepper to taste

Using the same skillet, add a little additional oil if needed. Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus spears and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

For the mizuna:

Additional coconut oil as needed

1 bunch mizuna, leaves torn into pieces (can substitute spinach or another leafy green)

1 t wheat-free tamari

1 t sesame seeds

In the same skillet, add additional oil if needed. Once the oil is hot, add the mizuna and a splash of water and sauté for a minute, just until wilted. Add tamari and sesame seeds and toss. Remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.

 

 

 

Roasted Beet “Hummus”

It’s no secret I love beets. I’ve proclaimed my love for them before. Well, here I am again, sharing yet another beet recipe with you all. But this one’s different. Yes, you still get that vibrant, amazing color, and yes, you still get all the nutritional benefit of beets, but this “hummus” has a more approachable flavor than some other beet-centric recipes. Dare I say, it’s one of those that could convert a beet-a-phobe!

Check out this recipe and more over at The Balanced Platter today!

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Flatbread

I know it’s not really the height of sweet potato season. That being said, it’s sweet potato season around our house for much of the cooler months. Plain and simple – they’re healthy, easy, and we love them. Most often, we enjoy them in the form of a sweet potato puree. Of course, as evidenced by this recipe, we often end up with leftovers. That’s when I get creative.

In fact, I was so excited by the crust from that quiche that I’ve since been playing with the recipe, coming up with various ideas based on the same theme. In fact, I made sweet potato puree just so I could have “leftovers” for this flatbread. I highly suggest you do the same. This flatbread is that good. It’s perfect with a salad, but really shines alongside a soup, or even roast chicken with some gravy or au jus, so you can use it to mop up the soup or some sauce. You could definitely use it as a pizza crust. Whatever you do, you’ve gotta try it out.

Print Recipe

Sweet Potato and Rosemary Flatbread (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

2 egg whites

1 egg

1 T psyllium husk powder

1 T ground flaxseed

1 c sweet potato puree (follow instructions on how to make sweet potato puree here, omitting maple syrup)

2 T coconut butter* (also called creamed coconut or coconut cream concentrate)

1/2 c white rice flour

1/2 c blanched almond flour (I used Honeyville)

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t baking powder

1 T chopped fresh rosemary needles

Additional coarse salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the psyllium husk powder, flaxseed, sweet potato puree and coconut butter (warm this a bit if it is too hard) and stir until well-blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the rice flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well-blended. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and press out evenly into a rectangle about 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. If the dough sticks to your fingers, oil them with a little olive oil before pressing. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and the middle springs back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and cut into 8 pieces. (I found using a pizza cutter to be the easiest way to do this.)

Enjoy!

*NOTE about creamed coconut/coconut butter/coconut cream concentrate: It’s all the same thing; it just depends who makes it. Let’s Do Organic calls it creamed coconut , Artisana calls it coconut butter, Nutiva calls it coconut manna , and Tropical Traditions calls it coconut cream concentrate. Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen made some from scratch. I have used several of these brands with success, and have even made my own. Any of those will work just fine in this recipe.

 

Turnip “No Potato” Salad with Grainy Mustard, Bacon, and Pickled Red Onions

Potato salad is a staple side dish in just about any household. I’ve had many versions – salads heavy on the mayonnaise, versions with a ton of pickles and yellow mustard (like my Mom’s recipe), German-style potato salad, and I’ve even made a dill and caper salad for a Daring Cooks’ challenge. I imagine that there are as many recipes for potato salad as there are summer barbecues in the United States.

But what if you are trying to stay away from potatoes? Many people on gluten-free diets also steer clear of nightshades as well in order to keep inflammation down. Many people following a paleo diet also stay away from potatoes. In those cases, how do you satisfy that potato salad craving? If you’re like me and a) have several turnips lying around from your local box and b) are looking for a unique twist on this traditional comfort food, this might just be the answer to a “no potato/faux-tato” salad!

I’ve used turnips before as stand-ins for traditional potato dishes, like in this turnip-rutabaga mash. They’re a great budget-friendly root vegetable, and one that stands up to longer-term storage quite well. They’re tasty in pickles and are lovely roasted. But I do believe that this salad has become my new favorite way to enjoy them.

Of course, part of what makes this salad so bright and fresh (even when it’s still winter, and bright and fresh aren’t descriptors for much of our food this time of year) are the pickled red onions. Many times, I forget how a simple pickle can transform a creamy, heavier dish into something that really pops. The tart, sour taste of the pickle balances out the fat in a creamy sauce so perfectly. Such is the case with these simple pickled red onions. They’re not just good for this salad, though – I enjoyed them on top of some pork carnitas the other day, and I can imagine they’d be wonderful on a burger or to garnish a pot roast. The recipe makes plenty, so you’ll have some for enjoyment on all sorts of dishes.

But back to this salad. It’s a relatively simple mix of some of my favorites – a good, grainy mustard, homemade mayonnaise, bacon, and the red onions. You get a mouthful of creamy, salty, piquant, sweet and sour, all in one bite. Pair this with some barbecue, with roast beef, or with a good soup, and you have a delicious, simple comfort food. In fact, this is my contribution to this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! – Comfort Foods. (It’s not too late to join us, either! Just check out how to participate here.) This salad will definitely show up at a future barbecue around these parts, as I gear up for spring and break out my smoker!

Print Recipe

Turnip Salad with Grainy Mustard, Bacon and Pickled Red Onions (gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly)

4 c diced turnips

3 slices bacon, diced

¼ c mayonnaise (I used homemade, based on this recipe)

¼ c coarse/grainy mustard

½ t freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

3 T diced pickled red onions (recipe below)

¼ c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add turnips and reduce to medium-high heat. Boil until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain turnips and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium heat and add bacon. Cook bacon, stirring every minute or so, until crisp. Remove and set on paper towels to drain.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper. Add the turnips and bacon and toss well to combine. Add salt if needed and toss again. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 2-3 hours.

Once chilled, add the pickled red onions and parsley and toss again. Serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

(This recipe makes a lot more pickled onions than are needed for this salad. Enjoy these onions on burgers, in other salads, on tacos, or as a garnish on top of rich, heavier dishes such as pot roast or chili.)

Pickled Red Onions (gluten-free, vegan)

¾ c apple cider vinegar

¼ c red wine vinegar

2 T lime juice

1 T natural cane sugar (for vegan) or honey

1 T kosher salt

1 bay leaf

½ t black peppercorns

½ t cumin seed

½ t coriander seeds

½ t whole allspice

1 large or 2 medium red onions, sliced thinly

Combine everything but the onions in a medium saucepan and whisk together. Add the onions and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat. (It’s okay if the onions aren’t covered by the liquid at first. They’ll cook down.) Reduce to low and partially cover. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not falling apart. Transfer the onions and liquid to a glass lidded container or a jar and allow to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

Fall In Love With Beets

beets harvested from my garden

Do you love beets? Wish you loved beets? Today over at The Balanced Platter, I’m sharing some reasons to love these beauties, as well as a collection of delicious beet-ful recipes, guaranteed to turn even the beet-averse into beet-lovers. Head on over and check it out!

Italian Herb Crackers (Grain-Free, Nut-Free, Vegan)

On a day-to-day basis, I am a simple eater. It’s partially by choice, but very much driven by necessity. Trying to eat a whole foods-based, mostly grain-free, dairy-free diet with a full schedule means you often choose the fastest option. Snacks are often simply a handful of nuts or some fruit and vegetables. In fact, it’s rare when you can’t find some nuts in my desk drawer at work – right now, there are macadamia nuts. These kinds of things are my “fast foods”.

But when I do have a bit of time, I try to make up something that’s a bit different. Something that feels a bit more special. Like beef jerky, (although most of that goes to my husband, as it’s his favorite snack.) or a trail mix. This time, however, I wanted something a bit different. Savory and satisfying. I was drawn to crackers.

I’ve made crackers before (they’re really pretty easy!) using almond flour. Only this time around, I wanted to challenge myself and make some crackers that are even more allergen-free and omitting the nuts. So I reached for the stash of pumpkin and sunflower seeds in my fridge.

Both of these seeds can do wonders for grain-free, nut-free baking. I’ve played with pumpkin seeds before (making some pretty awesome chocolate cherry cookies!), and so I figured I could try the same with sunflower seeds. Little did I know that simultaneously, Matt from Paleo Parents was playing around with sunflower seed flour! It’s one of those little wonders of the universe. Maybe it’s a sign of a new revolution in grain-free baking? Who knows. In any case, it seems sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are making quite the splash.

I can see why. In just a few moments, I was able to throw together some incredibly satisfying crackers. These crackers have the mouthfeel and look of a rustic “multi-grain” cracker, with a wonderful herbed punch. They’d be a great base for a bruschetta or a tapenade, a macadamia nut “ricotta” cheese, or alongside tomato soup. For me, as most of these things are, it’ll be most likely that they will be in my snack stash, eaten out of hand as a quick snack. They’ll be a welcome change from the usual!

Print Recipe

Italian Herb Crackers (grain-free, nut-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

1 c raw, hulled pumpkin seeds

1 c raw, hulled sunflower seeds, divided

1/4 c ground flaxseed meal

2 t Italian seasoning

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t onion powder

1/2 t paprika

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 t salt

1 T coconut palm sugar

1 T coconut oil, melted

3 T water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pumpkin seeds, half of the sunflower seeds, the flaxseed meal, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper, and salt. Process until ground and no chunks of nuts remain. Add the remaining sunflower seeds, coconut oil, water and coconut palm sugar and process again until the dough comes together and the sunflower seeds are in smaller chunks.

Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter and transfer the cracker dough to the paper, “smooshing” it together with your hands to form a flattened ball. Cut another sheet of parchment paper and place on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the two sheets of parchment paper, lifting and repositioning the paper as needed, until the dough is about 1/8 inch or less and is as rectangular in shape as you can get it. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper. Using a pizza cutter, cut a grid of 1-inch squares.

Carefully transfer the entire sheet of parchment to your baking sheet, keeping the grid of crackers in tact. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until crackers are golden brown. Remove from oven and run the pizza cutter along the cut lines again. Allow to cool, then separate and serve.

Makes about 30 crackers.

 

Dijon and Honey Pork Chops

Let me start by saying this could possibly be the easiest pork chop recipe ever.

Seriously.

Historically, I haven’t been much for pork chops. Growing up, they tended to be tough (sorry, Mom!), and even as I became an adult and started cooking for myself, I found it difficult to make tender chops. I did find over time that certain techniques (like brining) yielded delicious chops. Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has shared a maple-brined pork chop recipe that is divine. For a long while, that has been my go-to for successful pork chops.

Until a few weeks ago, that is. You see, while brining isn’t all that time-intensive or difficult, you have to remember to actually do it in advance. I’m typically a great meal planner and keep a pretty good routine for dinners from night to night. It keeps me sane. But sometimes, life gets in the way. I’m caught at work, or am not at home the night before to make a brine, or it’s otherwise been a hectic, crazy week. It’s then that I don’t look ahead to the following day. I forget to take meat out to thaw, and so am instead quick-thawing in a sink full of water, hoping I can have dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Such was the case with some pork chops. So I thawed them out, and decided to wing it.

I seasoned the chops and decided to sear them in a cast-iron skillet using the same method I use for both steak and my lamb chops, since that method takes all of about 10 minutes to make. I admit – I was slightly doubtful that we would have anything but tough chops that night. But I went with it, being careful not to overcook them. As they started in the pan, the idea of a quick sauce came to mind. I quickly mixed together dijon mustard and honey, and once they went into the oven, brushed some onto the chops.

After a quick little rest and a visit onto our plates, what resulted was a small miracle. These chops were tender, moist, and delightful! The honey and dijon glaze perfectly complimented the flavor of the pork without overwhelming it. I typically plan for leftovers, but there were none – my husband and I both ate more than our fair share. If it was polite to lick our plates clean, we totally would have.

Of course, just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke (or a particularly excellent set of chops), I tried this once again last week with a leaner chop. Again, success.

So while most of the time, preparedness is key to a good meal in our home, this time, winging it served me well. This will definitely be a repeat in our home – I  hope in yours as well!

Print Recipe

Dijon and Honey Pork Chops (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb pork chops, about 1-inch thick

Salt, pepper and your favorite herb seasoning blend (I currently adore Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight) to taste

3 T honey

3 T Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and herb seasoning. In a small bowl, stir together the honey and mustard until blended.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add the chops to the skillet and allow to sear for a minute or until brown. Flip to the other side and brush with a bit of the honey and mustard blend. Place in the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, turning the chops halfway through and brushing with more of the honey and mustard blend. Remove from the oven and place on a plate (don’t leave in the hot skillet, or they’ll continue to cook!) to rest for 3-4 minutes, brushing with any remaining sauce.

Serves 3-4.

What are some of your favorite quick, healthy meal ideas? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

This post is linked to 5-Ingredient Mondays over at The Daily Dietribe and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.