Red Lentil Balls

I love the versatility of meatballs and in my quest to cook meals that don’t rely on meat, I’ve had to use my imagination a bit. I recently picked up Vegetarian Everyday from the library and was pleased to discover a bean based “meatball” recipe, perfect for the gluten-free vegetarian. The couple that created this cookbook is from Sweden (they have a lovely blog I follow called Green Kitchen Stories) and they call these tasty legume-balls, polpette (which is a fancy word for meatballs, as far as my research can tell me). But anyway, the words flows off the tongue in such a beautiful way.

The photo does not do justice to the deliciousness of this meal, in fact it makes it look rather unappealing, but we loved these! I served them over a bed of zucchini and carrot noodles (long julienned veggie that I blanched in salted water) and we topped them with a little marinara sauce and a little arugula pesto.

Red Lentil Polpettes

RED LENTIL BALLS
(from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl)
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1 c. red lentils
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 c. rolled oats (use gluten-free, if needed)
1 tsp paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
sea salt to taste

Rinse the lentils and place in a saucepan with 2 1/4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and cool slightly.

Mash the lentils with a fork. The consistency you want is mashed but still with some lentils left whole. Place in a mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until everything is combined. Place int he fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form balls and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 17-22 minutes. If you want, turn balls halfway through to get a more even shape and color.

Prepare pasta or veggie noodles and whatever sauce you want.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Here’s a delicious treat for your weekend! This is a recipe that I posted a long while back, but it is buried in a post with another recipe. And since it is quick and fairly healthy, I decided to re-post. Plus, it’s summer, so who doesn’t love some ice cream?!

I should note that the original recipe is  not mine; however, I do not remember where I found it. This time around I did add a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, which was a nice twist.

IMG_1763

CHOCOLATE COCONUT MILK ICE CREAM
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2-14 oz cans full-fat coconut milk
2/3 c. sugar or agave nectar (I used coconut sugar)
1/4 c.  unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2  tsp vanilla extract (feel free to replace 1/2 tsp of vanilla with 1/2 tsp almond extract)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour into the bowl of an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serves 4.

Collard Green Wrap

Today’s post is not really a recipe, but rather a concept. 🙂 Overall, being gluten-free isn’t altogether difficult, but there are times when I miss the ease of everyday breads, tortillas, and other baked goods. It takes more effort to make or more financial investment to purchase adequate alternatives.

My pantry typically includes corn tortillas for soft tacos or enchiladas, rice cakes for snacks, and Rudi’s Multigrain GF Bread for toast, garlic bread, and pb&j sandwiches.  Occasionally I splurge on gluten-free tortillas (other than the corn variety) so I can make hummus veggie wraps or bean and grain wraps.

Recently I tried using blanched collard greens for wraps and it worked out quite well. Once blanched the greens do not have a strong flavor, so you’re able to enjoy the filling. Not only does it save some money to use collard greens, but it also facilitates eating more leafy green veggies, which is excellent for all of us. I’ve seen this idea on a few healthy eating oriented blogs, but I followed the directions in the Nourishing Meals cookbook (are you getting the idea that I used this cookbook all of the time?!).

Collard Green Wraps

BLANCHED COLLARD GREEN WRAPS

To prepare the collard greens for wrapping: Wash the greens and cut the stem off the bottom of each leaf. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the collard greens by submerging them in the boiling water for about a minutes. Gently remove them with tongs and place them on a plate to cool.

To assemble your collard green wrap: Place a collard green on a cutting board. Spoon your desired filling near the stem end of the the green. Fold in the long ends of the collard green about 1 inch on each side and then tightly roll.

Zucchini Noodles

A couple of weeks ago I came up with the amazing and revolutionary idea to make zucchini noodles. While I’m more than certain that many people before me have done this very thing, it still felt like my idea. 🙂 While this post doesn’t contain an actual recipe, I’m going to share with you how I made my zucchini noodles. Perhaps it will inspire you as well!

I took my Pampered Chef julienne peeler (a birthday gift last year that I’ve used many, many times!) and cut down the length of a washed and trimmed zucchini, creating zucchini “noodles.” Once I’d sliced all my zucchinis into noodles, I placed the lovely green pile into a fine mesh colander and salted them with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (the salt draws out some of the water from the zucchini).

Then I left it to drain for about 30 minutes, squeezing out the excess moisture before sauteing in a little butter and olive oil for about 5 minutes. I seasoned them with a little more salt, pepper, and Italian spices before topping the noodles off with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, a little sausage, and marinara sauce. It was delicious! I might even like it better then the pasta. And, if you’re a spaghetti noodle twirler, zucchini noodles will twirl around your fork too!

If you too would like to make zucchini noodles and don’t yet have a julienne peeler, I highly recommend you get one. 🙂 It’s a small gadget, but well worth the space it will take up next to your vegetable peeler. I also like to use it to matchstick carrots for salads or stir-fries (they cook up much more quickly!).

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

We love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! We don’t eat them often because I’m anti-all the garbage additives. So, I thought I’d give this refined sugar-free recipe a try (unlike usual, I followed the original without any alterations). While they aren’t Reese’s, per se, they are sweet, peanutty and chocolatey, all good things! 🙂 With coconut oil in the ingredient list, these definitely have coconut undertones, if that’s not your thing, you could try butter and see how that works. If you want a thicker layer of chocolate (I think I might), just double the ingredients for the chocolate layer. I hope you enjoy!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUP
(from lifemadewhole.com)
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For peanut butter layer:
3/4 c. natural peanut butter
1/4 c. coconut oil
2 Tbsp raw honey

For chocolate layer:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp raw honey

For the peanut butter layer: Line mini-muffin pan with papers. Melt the coconut oil, then mix together with the peanut butter and honey. Carefully pour into prepared pan. Place in the freezer while preparing the chocolate.

For the chocolate layer: Melt the coconut oil and butter together. Add the cocoa powder and the honey. Stir until smooth. Remove the pan from the freezer and evenly pour the chocolate into each cup. Freeze for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Store in the fridge or freezer. Makes about 24.

Carrot Cake Bites

It’s time for another no-bake healthy treat recipe…

For my 5th birthday I requested carrot cake for my dessert. It’s been a standby ever since. (Though I’m sorely disappointed if I ever encounter carrot cake that has raisins lurking inside!) I have to admit to loving the cream cheese frosting that is the usual accompaniment and adds to my all-around love of the cake.  It’s been months, maybe even a couple of years since I’ve eaten a slice of my beloved carrot cake, so I was intrigued by this recipe for raw carrot cake balls I stumbled across on Pinterest. These are cream cheese frosting free, but I still thought worth sampling.

These don’t taste exactly like carrot cake, but they certainly are reminiscent and they are both tasty and healthy little morsels that make you feel like you’re getting a treat. So, they come with my recommendations. I did tweak the original recipe by adding nuts and spices. I’m sure coconut and perhaps a little nutmeg would be good as well. And maybe if you want to go really fancy, you can make a sweet cream cheese dip. 🙂

CARROT CAKE BITES
(adapted from gracefulfitnessblog.com)
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10 dates
small handful raw walnuts
1 c. gluten-free rolled oats
1 medium carrot, finely grated
zest from one lemon
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
finely chopped walnuts for rolling, opt.

Rough chop the dates and walnuts and then put them in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until date pieces are about the size of raisins.

Add the oats and process until the oats are ground.

Add grated carrot, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and process until the ‘dough’ comes together in a ball. If it seems a little dry, add a few drops of water and process again.

Use clean hands to form into balls. Roll in chopped walnuts, if desired and store in the fridge. Makes 12-15 balls.

Peanut Butter Fudgy Bites

Jeremy and I have a rather bad habit of wanting something sweet after dinner. I didn’t grow up having dessert every night, but I find that my mind wanders to a bite of sweet almost every evening. Most often we’ll enjoy a little dark chocolate, but I’ve been experimenting lately with finding some “healthy” treats for us to enjoy. The next few recipes I plan to share with you are some these sweets. So, perhaps you too can healthfully satisfy your post-supper sweet tooth.

First up, is a recipe that I now can’t remember where I found; however, in typical fashion, I’ve adapted the recipe anyway to suit our tastes. We love the classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate, so are fond of these. As they are raw treats, be sure to store in the fridge. (Sadly, these little bites are really unattractive to photograph…I hope that won’t deter you from trying them. :))

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGY BITES
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15 pitted dates, rough chopped
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. shredded unsweetened coconut (my coconut is larger flakes, so I’ve been using a packed 1/2 cup instead)
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp chocolate chips

Place the dates in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and process into smaller pieces. Add the remaining ingredients and process until thoroughly combined and ingredients form a “dough.” Roll into balls.

Green Soup

I don’t think I’ve shared with you all yet the deliciousness that is Green Soup! Who doesn’t need more leafy greens in their life? This pureed soup packs a nutritional punch! I like to serve a small bowl before supper for an extra serving of veggies. Variations are rather endless, so find your favorite combination of greens and spices. Perhaps the first time you can try the “original” recipe, but then your brain and palate can lead you from there.

The soup is a bit labor intensive, but it is worth the effort every time.

I must credit Anna Thomas for this recipe. She published a wonderful cookbook a couple of years ago called Love Soup. I’ve checked it out from the library many times. The cookbook is sectioned by season and she offers several menu ideas. And for those that care, her recipes are all vegetarian. Every time I flip through the pages I see more soups I want to try. She includes a half a dozen Green Soup recipes.

I know winter is coming to a close, but this soup is light and year-round worthy, in my opinion. I hope you enjoy (despite the un-photogenic nature of the soup!). 🙂

GREEN SOUP
(from Love Soup by Anna Thomas)
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1 bunch of chard or spinach (8 oz)
1 bunch kale (8 oz)
4-5 green onions, sliced
1/2 c. loosely packed cilantro
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
3 Tbsp Arborio rice
1 medium onion
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Marsala or dry sherry (opt.)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2-3 c. vegetable broth
fresh ground pepper
cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Wash the greens thoroughly, trim off stem, and slice leaves. In a large soup pot, combine the chard or spinach, kale, green onions, cilantro, Arborio rice, 1 tsp salt, and 3 cups water. Bring water to a boil, turn down to low, cover the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the onion, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion with a small sprinkle of salt over medium until it is golden brown and soft. This will take up to 30 minutes. Don’t hurry, just stir it once in a while. Once cooked, you can deglaze the pan at the end with a bit of Marsala or sherry.

Add the caramelized onion to the soup. Put remaining 1/2 Tbsp oil in the onion skillet and stir the garlic in it for about a minute. Add garlic to the pot and simmer the soup for 10 more minutes.

Add enough broth to make the soup a soup–it should pour easily from a ladle–and puree it in the blender, in batches, or use an immersion blender and blend in the pot.

Bring the soup back to a simmer, and taste. Add more salt if needed, grind in a little black pepper, add a pinch of cayenne pepper and a Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir well and taste again. Adjust any seasonings to taste.

Garnish with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

Simple Supper: Bacon-Wrapped Salmon

Salmon is a staple simple supper in our house. (If you have an Aldi close by, that’s the perfect place to buy salmon at $4 a pound in their frozen food section!) I usually just wing the seasoning, but occasionally I like to try out a “real” recipe. 🙂

This recipe is delicious and so simple. In just 20 minutes supper was on the table. The bacon keeps the salmon super moist. And seriously, who doesn’t love bacon-wrapped food?!

BACON-WRAPPED SALMON
(adapted from Epicurious.com)
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4 center-cut pieces skinless salmon fillet (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
4 bacon slices
Special equipment: 4  metal skewers (which I didn’t have, but would have made it all easier!)

Preheat broiler and place broiler pan about 4-6 inches from heat.

Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread curved sides with mustard. Lay 1 bacon slice lengthwise along top of each fillet, tucking ends of bacon under fillet (ends will not meet). Thread 1 skewer through length of each fillet, entering and exiting through bacon to secure it.

Arrange fish, bacon sides down, on preheated rack of broiler pan and broil 3 minutes, then turn over and broil until fish is just cooked through and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more.

(Cooks Note: If you are using frozen fillets, let them thaw slightly first so they cook evenly.)

As a bonus, I’m going to share a roasted asparagus “recipe” to cook and serve alongside the salmon.

LEMON PARMESAN ROASTED ASPARAGUS
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asparagus, woody ends removed
olive oil
salt
lemon-pepper
Parmesan cheese
fresh lemon juice

Break off woody ends from asparagus. Wash and pat dry. Lay asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper. (Use your discretion with quantities.)

While salmon is broiling, slide asparagus into oven. When you take out the salmon to flip it over, remove asparagus and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, continue to broil until salmon is cooked through. Just before serving, sprinkle asparagus with fresh lemon juice.

(Cooks Note: If you’re not making this alongside the salmon, preheat oven to 425°F instead of to broil. You’ll have to cook just a couple minutes longer.)

Gluten-Free Goodness: Apple Carrot Breakfast Cake

I made this breakfast “cake” this weekend. With fruit, veggies, and flax seed, it’s quite healthful and ideal for breakfast, brunch, snack, or even dessert. For a gluten-free recipe it’s quite easy and by using palm sugar (also called coconut sugar) the recipe will be easy on the blood sugar. I think you’ll find kids and adults will both enjoy this treat.

APPLE CARROT BREAKFAST CAKE
(from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free)
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2 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cup palm/coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed
3 eggs
2 apples, unpeeled, cut in wedges
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots (about 3 medium)
Optional toppings: Whipped Cream, Cream Cheese Frosting, Yogurt, Maple or fruit Syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan.

Mix the 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed with 2 Tablespoons of boiling water to make a slurry. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, palm sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Combine the eggs, vanilla, apples, carrots, and flax seed slurry in a blender or food processor. If using the blender, start on a low speed and quickly increase to high until thoroughly mixed. If using a food processor, pulse many times until combined and then process until smooth. Batter will be thick.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold them in with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan. Top with freshly whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, yogurt, or syrup.

Cooks Note: Sorghum flour and palm sugar can both be found at health food stores, as well as online.