Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinnamon Banana Apple Stew - trial run

I am always on the lookout for desserts...that split the difference between sweet and complete indulgence...HERE is a yummy-looking one that is on the trial block for tonight!!  :)

Update?  OH!!!!   SO GOOD!!!!  You NEED to try this!!!!

This recipe was adapted from All You Magazine, by Super Healthy Kids blog. The original recipe included butter, and ice cream, and omitted the bananas, and corn starch.
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (potato starch totally works, too)
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • 1 banana
  1. Mix water and corn starch together until corn starch is dissolved.
  2. In skillet, pour water/corn starch, lemon juice, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon. Turn skillet on medium until sauce begins to warm and blend.
  3. Add chopped apples and bananas and stir to coat with the sauce.
  4. Continue to cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Scoop apple/ bananas into a bowl or hollowed out apples.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Aussie Meat Pie Rip-off

Remember my Pie-less Pots?  Mix it all up the same:

Dice chicken breasts and "brown" in a skillet(I use about 4 or 5 large ones for my family of 6)
take a can of chicken broth/stock, mix with whatever you can pour off your chicken, 1-2 tsp of sea salt, and whisk in 2 or 3 TBSP of corn or potato starch, pour over your chicken, throw in mushrooms or whatever, wait til your "gravy" bubbles and thickens...*

I use deer burger, but whatever lean burger you prefer is fine...1-2 pounds
saute 2 cups of sliced mushrooms in 1-2 TBSP of olive oil
pour in beef stock , salt, and corn or potato starch, pour over your meat and mushrooms, wait until your "gravy" bubbles and thickens....*

*Then throw the chicken or hamburger in pitas for a homemade version of the Australian Bakery Cafe...Charlotte fell in love with and has requested it for her birthday!! 

You can season with curry or jerk or add a smidgeon of Guiness or whatever sounds good to you...I love pie and stew recipes because they always have a little play in them for your tastes!

(Oh, and I have since the original recipe tried the potato starch, Bob's Red Mill has a great one for those avoiding corn...it's pretty cheap, and it works great!)

Light and Guiltless Buffalo Chicken

I threw some chicken in the crockpot yesterday.  I had planned to put barbecue sauce on it and serve it in bread for sandwiches.  I usually put in 3-5 chicken breasts in with enough water to cover it and cook it for however long it takes, 3-4 hours on high in mine...  When it's ready, I drain off the water and shred it.  Yesterday, we abruptly decided to mix it with buffalo sauce (ours is dye-free, you'll have to check if yours is safe).  We topped it with a small amount of shredded mozzarella (when that ran out we used some provolone, we are at the end of the month and that happens a lot around now!)  and put some plain Greek yogurt instead of blue cheese or ranch or cream cheese to offset the "burn".  When we figured out how many calories, we realized it has almost no guilt and is delicious!!!!  You can eat it plain with a fork or jam it in a pita for a really excellent sandwich!!!! 

We served it with frozen corn and black beans mixed together...and even put some in the pita, and it was surprisingly good together...

Yet another random trial with awesome results...hope you enjoy it sometime soon!! 

*hint* the Superbowl is coming, and this would be great for dipping and would taste like a treat and keep you from overstepping your diet a bit!  :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Skillet Stir-Fry

Make some rice.  Whatever you like.  I found some long grain brown JASMINE rice today!!!  Score!!  I threw mine into my pressure cooker, but whatever your thing is...cook some rice...

Okay, take some lean sliced beef or some jerky cut deer meat, about 1-2 pounds, cook it in your largest skillet. (I had to make two skillet-fulls for my 2 pounds today)  You can spray some olive oil in the skillet or just cook it in a non-stick...  Get it cooked until there is the tiniest bit of pink showing in the centers...

Mix up:
1 cup of organic tamari or soy sauce
1/2 can of beef stock, maybe 3/4 of a cup?
about 1/4-1/2 teasp of fresh ground pepper
about 1/4-3/4 teasp of garlic salt
1 TBSP sorghum molasses
1-2 heaping teasp of corn or potato starch
2 TBSP apricot preserves (or not at you like your sweet and salty)

pour the above mixture over your meat that is sizzling, add you veggies of choice:
sugar snap peas
water chestnuts
bean sprouts
(really whatever makes you happy)
for my kids I used our staple frozen peas and carrots

Cook until you like how the veggies look...

Pour the meat, veggie, and sauce mixture over the rice that you already made...Serve and Enjoy!

Homemade Jerky

We LOVE jerky.  It is SOO good, but have had a harder and harder time eating it with all the preservatives in it.  I have a lot of allergies to preservatives and my son and husband have both gotten headaches from MSG, which is in a LOT of jerky...and now, pushed by the Little Miss, we are reassessing our options. 

My brother and his wife got me a small dehydrator from Ace Hardware for my birthday.  I cannot tell you how excited I am about it...and so here is my favorite and most successful jerky recipe:

1.5lbs of meat (deer!!!) lean beef sliced thinly, a little thicker is moister and tasty, but different than you may be used to...

1/4 teasp garlic salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 teasp sorgum molassas
mixed into 1/4 cup of soy sauce....pour over into meat...it's supposed to soak into the meat for 2-4 hours.

Then put in oven at 150* for 4 hours or cook in skillet until not pink, then put into dehydrator for 1-2 days. I recommend deer cube steak, deer tenderloin, or deer hams jerky cut.

Store in an airtight container until it's gone...a couple of days, here!!  :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Salad that I LOVE!

Chicken Salad
I am always hunting good chicken salads.  Mostly because I don't like chicken salad.  I know that sounds seriously wierd, but hear me out.  I like the IDEA of chicken salad.  I like chicken.  I like chicken and fruit together.  So you wouldn't think this would be so tricky.

Here are two that I really like.  One could be very fatty with tons of ingredients, and is nice for a treat.  One is very light and could be eaten often...that I totally tweaked from a Biggest Loser Cookbook.

Debbie's Chicken Salad:
3 lb chicken (dice and cook or cook and shred)
8oz sour cream
8 oz miracle whip
8oz mayo
Salt pepper
1/4 cup sugar
1tbsp curry
1Lb red grapes
1 lb chopped pecans
8 oz sliced almonds
The juice of one lemon
Biggest Loser Chicken Salad Tiffany Tweaked*:
Diced chicken, cooked (I used about 3 or 4 large chicken breasts)
Halved red grapes, maybe a cup?
Dice 1 medium apple
1/4-/12 Cup plain greek yogurt
2-4 dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
opt: celery, I don't tend to use it...saute chicken in olive oil
*I left out the celery and olive oil, way upped the apples and grapes, and my proportions were different....I like there to be a lot of "sauce" and I like it to be less mustard-y.  But that's the beauty of recipes, change them until you like it!!  Recipes are not laws.

Jerk Bowl Hodge Podge

I love mixed bowls... I mean, love them!!

This was an impulse mix-up, hodge podge.  I WAS making this all separate, but decided to mix it, and then added some stuff...and it turned out spectacularly!!

I cooked up my diced chicken with Jerk Seasoning.  While thawing my staple frozen peas.  And speedily pressure cooking my brown rice.  That's what I fed my kids.   And they begged for soy sauce.  Weird combo, I know.  For myself I proceeded to mix it all up, and then decided something sweet would set it off nicely, and added a handful of craisins. And then added a dollop of apricot preserves (Polner has served to be a safe jam/preserves for us).  And then I added a tiny bit of soy sauce to amp up the apricot flavor.  And wow.  A new favorite was born.  Seriously!!

Faster, Less Ingredients Pancakes

1 egg
1 c. low fat milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Beat egg, milk and vanilla together. Combine remaining ingredients and stir into the batter, just until somewhat smooth, but slightly lumpy. Don't over mix.
To make pancakes; pour a little batter onto a hot griddle. Leave at least 2" of space between pancakes. Allow them to cook until the tops of pancakes are bubbled, then turn with spatula. Cook just until the underside is lightly browned.

Makes 10 (4") pancakes. Recipe may be doubled. Unused batter may be stored in the refrigerator. Thin with a little cold water if batter becomes too thick.
Found this while Googling...I really just didn't have the energy to make the flax oatmeal pancakes, and these were very quick...I found them HERE.  I really love that they don't have any sugar, because, let's face it, most toppings we use, certainly have enough in their own right!  Plus, their flavor, I think, enhances the flavor of the toppings!

* If you decide that you NEED your pancakes sweeter, add a TBSP of brown sugar and/or a couple of good shakes of cinnamon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Larabars

Okay, so snacks have become the biggest problem in Charlotte's eating overhaul.  I have spent the most amount of money in this area.  You can make scratch meals more easily, I think, than making snacks that look like everyone else's...

The costs are what's making me more desperate to find my options.  In my joy about Larabars, I posted about them on Facebook...and a friend posted this link up for me:  Oh, She Glows offers homemade options...and they turned out brilliantly.

I even packaged them individually for snack travels...I am going to have to find a short-cut for that one...it took longer to wrap them than to make them.

I then realized that it was more a proportional thing than a real recipe per se so I experimented with it am came out with this:

Almond Honey Bars*
1 cup of dates (no pits!)
1/2 cup of quick oats
2/3 cup of raw almonds
2 TBSP almond butter
2 TBSP honey

Throw everything in a cuisinart chop/mix it.  To me, it tastes very Baklava-y...delicious!!

*These are "-ish" measurements, I am not a scientific cooker...you will know it came out right, if  you can take a pinch out and mold it into a ball...

Pie-less Pots

I have always loved Pot-Pies for their buttery pie crusts...unfortunately, 1) they tend to be fatty and unredemptive and 2) they tend to have things that will tear Charlotte completely up...so here are my tweaks:

Chicken Pie-less Pot
dice chicken breasts and "brown" in a skillet(I use about 4 or 5 large ones for my family of 6)
thaw a bag of frozen peas and carrots
take a can of chicken broth/stock, mix with whatever you can pour off your chicken, 1-2 tsp of sea salt, and whisk in 2 or 3 TBSP of corn starch, pour over your chicken, throw in your peas and carrots, wait til your "gravy" bubbles and thickens...serve and gobble it up!

Hunter's Pie-less Pot
I use deer burger, but whatever lean burger you prefer is fine...1-2 pounds
thaw a bag of frozen peas and carrots
saute 2 cups of sliced mushrooms in 1-2 TBSP of olive oil
take a can of beef stock/broth, add either drippings (deer has virtually none) or half a Guiness (or both), 1-2 tsp of sea salt, and whisk in 3 TBSP of corn starch, pour over your deer burger, mushrooms, and peas and carrots, cook until your "gravy" bubbles and thickens...serve and gobble...

Of course you can put either of these in your pie crust of choice or serve with bread, or whatever makes it the perfect comfort meal for you!  :)

If cornstarch is safe at your house, it can be used to thicken any broth as a safe alternative to pre-packaged gravys!  I've heard you can do the same with potato flakes or flour and some others, here is a LIST...but I haven't tried those yet.  Salt and pepper to taste!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Smashed Sweet Potatoes With Coconut Milk
discovered thanks to  jillianmichaels.com
1 1/2 pounds potato(es), sweet, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup(s) coconut milk, light
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch nutmeg, ground
Place the sweet potatoes in a glass microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high until very tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the hot, cooked potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, salt, and nutmeg. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and combine with the other ingredients. Serve.

I've also used regular milk and almond milk, and it's just as good either way...

Less Evil Macaroni

My Less Evil Macaroni is pretty painless. Make up a box (1 Large [Barilla] or 2 Small [Kraft type]) of elbow macaroni, your choice, but I would encourage whole wheat pasta. Add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Add frozen peas. My kids are all fans. And it isn't quite as processed as the actual box's "cheese" powder, but just as fast and, I think, yummier. Because parmesean cheese is hard, there seems to be less latose and it doesn't bother Charlotte's tummy...much, if at all.

Chili Time Options

I can totally live on chili from October til March...and here are some recipes...

1-2 lb deer meat, or lean turkey or hamburger
1 bag of dried red kidney beans
2 cans of diced organic tomatoes (Or just diced tomatoes!)
3-4 TBSP of chili powder
1-2 TSP cinnamon
1 can organic tomato paste or tomato soup
Water to your pleasure, do you like it soup-y or stew-y? 1/2- 2 cups of water...
opt: jalepenos, corn, black beans
Brown hamburger, cook beans, mix and season, allow to simmer or put in a crock pot.

White Tex-Mex Chili
1 bag of northern beans or navy beans
4 chicken breast halves, diced
black beans (I used one can when I made this, I added this on a whim, I'd probably add 1/4 to 1/2 bag of dried black beans)
half a small bag of frozen corn kernals
1can chicken broth
1-2 TBSP of Fajita or Taco Seasoning (I'm still hunting the perfect homemade mix, but as yet, Charlotte has not reacted to McCormick Taco Seasoning)

Oh, and Quaker Corn Bread or chips are great with these...

Red Beans and Rice and Cornbread

Red Beans and RiceBrown long grain rice, cooked according to the box
Dried red beans, cooked according to the back of the bag
Mix together
Add a creole seasoning, generously. I really like Konriko Creole Seasoning. I claims to be wheat and gluten free and without MSG. So far, Charlotte has eaten ALOT of this and has never reacted.

I have just received a pressure cooker, and am slowly learning how to make things with it. Once I get brave, I like to think I'll be able to make this MUCH faster.

My very favorite corn bread recipe is Quaker's. It used to be on the box, but now it's hit-or-miss. It can be used with ANY cornmeal, but NOT a cornmeal mix, however, as I learned!!)

Here is the Cornbread Recipe:

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Quaker (or whatever you have) enriched corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 F. Grease 8 or 9 inch pan. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in milk, oil and egg, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve warm.
(Fast and one of my all time favorites!!)

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and Cucumber SaladThanks to a BBQ restaurant we went to once, generously dice cucumbers and tomatoes, mix with a light Balsamic Vinegarette dressing, and chill. Delicious!!

Squash and Zuccini Bake

Squash and Zucchini Bake
Slice a couple of squash and zucchini
spray with olive oil (THIS is a GREAT purchase!!)
roll in bread crumbs
bake at about 350 degrees (Almost as good as fried!!)

Apricot Scallops

Apricot ScallopsPan sear scallops with a tiny bit of olive oil sprayed on pan so it doesn't stick. Serve with apricot fruit spread. Yummm!! A little of cinnamon is fantastic on it, too. This was my quickie invention based off a delicious appetizer at a Moroccan restaurant Ethan and I went to a few years ago.

Dijon Oven-Fried Chicken

Dijon Oven-Fried Chicken
(This is a hodge-podge from several different recipes that I merged off of the cornocopia of Google)

Take chicken breast, roll in Dijon mustard, roll in seasoned bread crumbs, lay in an olive oiled glass cookware. Cook at 350-400 depending on your time available.

Make as much as you need to feed your people.  :)

Breakfast recipes

Oatmeal-Flax Pancakes courtesy of Livestrong
1 1/2 cups Quick Oats
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or whatever whole wheat or all purpose flour you've got)
2 tbsp Sugars, Brown
1 1/2 cups Skim Milk
2 egg
2 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup Flax, Ground
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix and cook in a pan or griddle...Serve with syrup or apple butter or fruit spread...Enjoy!!! (These are SO much more filling and nutritionally wise than Eggos or similar items!!)

Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats
(Seriously the best change I've made!! And these are the best of the best!!)

Cook according to directions. Add honey, cinnamon, and bananas. Or brown sugar and cinnamon. Or honey and raisins. Or...the list is endless and it ALL good!!!


Rice BowlInsanity Nutrition Guide
(single serving recipe, multiply accordingly)
1 cup cooked Brown Rice
2oz Chicken breast cooked (or you can scramble an egg and substitute it in)
1/3cup yellow frozen corn
1/3 cup frozen peas

Mix. Serve. You can serve it with soy sauce, but it is great all by itself!! My kids beg for this. Even the ones that won't eat the veggies on their own!!

Quinoa Bowl
(variation on a theme from the rice bowl)
(again, single serving recipe, multiply accordingly)
1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 oz chicken
1 Tbsp Thai peanut satay sauce

Mix. Serve.

Shrimpo de Gallo

Shrimpo de Galloby The Pioneer Woman
1 pound Cooked Shrimp (tails Removed), Chopped
½ whole Red Onion, Diced Finely
½ cups Green Or Black Olives, Chopped
2 whole Tomatoes, Diced
2 whole Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, Minced
2 whole Avocados, Chopped
2 whole Limes, Juiced
Kosher Salt To Taste
2 cups Cilantro, Chopped
*(I like to add a healthy glug of white vinegar for a little bite!)

Preparation Instructions:
Combine shrimp, red onion, olives, tomatoes, and jalapenos in a large bowl. Add lime juice to taste, then a dash of kosher salt. Add cilantro. Stir gently with a spoon, then taste on a tortilla chip so you’ll have an accurate gauge of the salt content. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.
Chill until serving. Note that the avocado will brown if too much time passes, so if you want to make this ahead of time, leave out the avocado until just before serving.
Serve with tortilla chips!

Hi, I like to learn things the hard way

Charlotte, my littlest, has a rip roaring batch of allergies that have rocked our world and changed our lives. For starters, she was lactose intolerant. We didn't know this for a very long 1.5 years. Want to know why? Because "intolerances" were totally blown off by the pediatric doctors we happened to visit. (In hindsight, I should have insisted on her older sister, Elise's primary doctor.) Nevermind that we are discussing poltergeist-like vomiting, reflux, horrible stomach pains, colic, and diaper-rashes from HELL. For the record, just because your body does not have an IgE reaction to a substance does not mean that it does not hurt or damage the body. All it really means is that you won't probably have an anaphalaxis reaction that will kill you.

Enter allergies. Charlotte currently has had allergic reactions to the following. Officially. Diagnosed and confirmed by an allergist. Who was so disconcerted by her reactions that we now have an epi-pen and have been told to keep it on us, "EVERYWHERE".

1. Red #40, 3, 33
a. We've been told to avoid and assume she's allergic to amaranth as it has been used to make artificial red dyes.
b. We are watchful of Annatto, it appears safe, but I try to limit it anyway.
c. Red #33 is in shampoo and medicines. Fantastic.
2. Blue #1, 2 (this is annoying, because it is in a lot of things to make the color "crisp", like white marshmallows.
3. Yellow #5, 6

4. Sodium Benzoate. This is (so far) our only confirmed preservative, but both the allergist and myself are suspicious of other preservatives as well. This is made particularly difficult as, apparently, the FDA does not require the disclosure of substances that equal to less than 2% of the product. (Other baddies can fall under this as well, the only requirement is that it be labeled "artificial colors/flavors".)

5. Vanillin is also on our watch list. I am afraid it will be added officially, soon.

The Beginning of the End is the story how how we were tipped off to the crazy that is now taken over our lives.

Also, since the origination of this discovery we have learned that dyes in particular (and vanillin by suspicion) affect her temper and emotional well-being. Not only do we have hives, eczema, and rashes, but she will be almost impossible to live with for 24-48 hours after eating one of her no-no's. Benedryll will fix the physical reactions, but does nothing for her psyche. While this factoid will make going out tricky, it does explain a few things and enables us to help us help her. 

I LOVE this introduction by a bloggy friend who has been dealing with some of the same issues and has started a separate blog to chronicle her son's path. These thoughts actually mirror many of my own.
Coal Mine Canaries

This has been an amazing resource!!
Die, Food Dye
Her blog roll in her side bar has also been fantastic.

This packet has been ordered. I will let you know how it goes. I am currently reading flippin' everything, everywhere. This association does much of the homework for you, and requires the companies included to disclose the 2% as well. So, can you do it on your own? For free? Absolutely. Is it worth it to me to save a little time sanity? Um, yes. I need it for going out and quickie cooking.
The Feingold Diet

I will post up more as I find it. But as I have another few friends that are coming up behind me, I thought I'd compile all of our issues to one place.  Also, for my own compulsive need to have everything in one place, I'm posting up recipes.  It is significantly easier to find what your kid cannot eat, than what they can.

Why is this the hard way? 

I like to cook fast.  I like to get stuff done and over with.  I learned "one pot meals" and vegetarian food from my mother, who was a primarily scratch cook.  I learned "southern cooking" and how to cook meat from my husband plus frying, gravies, and the over use of starches.  I learned cheap cooking from Chef Boyardee, Hamburger Helper, and Ramen.  I am slowly learning that you can cook from scratch, but have multiple dishes.  Meat can be yummy even if it is not fried.  You can eat healthy for cheap.  And starches can be used in moderation.  Trying to lose weight and having a child that cannot eat pre-made food have made a lot of changes in my life.  And in hind-sight, this is not all bad.  I wish that I had realized this first, before I had 13 years of bad choices behind me...because it helps us feel better, have more energy, concentrate, and stay healthier.