A great big welcome to Lexie's Kitchen & Living. I hope you enjoy the recipes and ramblings. For the story behind this site read here

Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Check out my recently released cookbook

 

 

 


 

 

 

Monday
Apr022012

Making the Switch: Nick's Story

Hey everyone! Meet my brother, Nick.

Nick — CH-46 Crew ChiefFresh out of high school Nick signed on with the U.S. Marines. Five honorable years later, he has traded in his flight suit and helicopter for sweats and a mountain bike and attends Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado. 

I remember visiting Nick on base and sizing up the "kitchen" in his "cozy" barrack—it was the bathroom sink, a fridge, and a microwave. Not the most conducive set-up for healthy eating. He ate his share of take-out pizza and frozen dinners. And of course I worried.

But let me tell you, I have nothing to worry about now.

Early his freshman year, Nick declared Agricultural Business as his major. I really think that this course of study—the classes and the people he has surrounded himself with—have shaped him in a big way. On Sunday afternoons he volunteers with an organization in Ft. Collins that plants gardens in residential yards. The bounty goes to local food banks. He is learning literal and figurative lessons in sowing and reaping. And there's nothing like getting your hands in the dirt and growing your own food to make you conscious of what food is and what it isn't. 

I am so impressed with the choices my brother has made. His interest in his health and well-being make him smart and cool!

A couple of months ago Nick and I got to talking about green smoothies. I told him I had a great blender he could test drive.

I think that was the beginning of his green smoothie addiction.

When I went to borrow that OmniBlend blender back while my Blendtec was being repaired, I practically had to pry it out of his hands. In preparation for my taking it away, he and his roommate had blended up—no jokethree gallons of green smoothies for the week ahead. My stomach lurched, but I was proud. Thankfully Blendtec made a quick turnaround and the buys got their blender back!

Here's what Nick has to say about his green smoothies:

"Kale, spinach, carrots, almonds, banana, strawberries, mango, peaches, protein powder, flax seed. It all combines into a smoothie that tastes delicious and keeps me full past midday. Having a powerful blender really allows for making a great smoothie, there is no comparison to cheap under-powered blenders that strain to blend frozen fruit. By substituting a smoothie for a meal each day (usually breakfast) I physically feel much healthier. The nutrients provided by the green super food kale along with the spinach give a mental boost as well. Almonds and the protein powder fuel me. The fruit takes a backseat to the green veggies and serve mainly to smooth out the flavor."

Impressive, right!

Given the right tools, a high-powered blender being one, I'm convinced that anyone can eat right on a budget and even in tight quarters. I think an OmniBlend or a Blendtec would be a dynamite graduation gift (and that season is fast approaching), don't you? Talk about an investment in one's future, in one's health!

Snap shots from my brother. Here's what goes into his morning green smoothie.

I am an affiliate for OmniBlend. By ordering here, you are supporting Lexie's Kitchen. For my blender review, click here. Thanks!

Navigating College Life Gluten-Free

I'll leave you with another college student who is taking control of her health and diet away from home—and happens to be a star athlete and gluten-free. Read more about Shelby Kaho and how she navigates gluten-free living while away at school:

Dorm Survival Guide for Students with Food Allergies and Sensitivities by Shelby Kaho
Gluten-Free Dorm Room Survival Tips by Shelby Kaho
Gluten-Free in College Blog Series

Shelby blogs at One Hurdle at a Time

Shelby Kaho. Photo by: Drew Casey and Kim Johnson/Wabash College

________________________________________________________________________________

Making the Switch, spotlights everyday people journeying on to better health and well-being by choosing pure food over processed. For some, it has been gradual. For others it was a complete about-face. 

Putting the modified diet focus of this blog aside, Making the Switch is open to all. The point being to bring personal stories to light that encourage young and old to get back into the kitchen to cook real food. As Jamie Oliver puts it, “make only a few small changes and magical things will happen.” Whether it’s weight loss, improvements in a child's behavior or the regaining of health, magical things will happen.

WHAT'S YOUR STORY? Be featured on Making the SwitchClick here and drop me a line telling me a little about yourself. Someone is waiting to be inspired by YOU!

OTHERS WHO HAVE MADE THE SWITCH

Nick's Story
Sherri's Story

Sarah's Story

Christy's Story
Shelly's Story
Moriah's Story
Stacy's Story

Kimberlyn's Story
Jen's Story
Seek's Story
Angie's Story
Lisa's Story
Cheryl's Story

 

Thursday
Mar292012

Jelly Bean Macaroon Nests

I've drilled into my kids that candy is reserved for special occasions. They know not to ask for that bag of Skittles® at checkout—unless, that is, they want to hear the old “NO, but we can have a rice cake when we get home.” Sheesh, I am such a mean mom.

I just figure that depriving my kids of candy 360 days out of the year makes the 5 days it IS allowed that much more special. You should see their faces light up. They do little happy dances around the room. It's as if life couldn't get any better. It's priceless. Maybe I'm not so much a mean mom as a warped mom!

Anyway ...

In our casa, Easter is a designated "candy" holiday. It's one of the few times a year that this health-freak mamma loosens up and the kids get to indulge.

That said, I do consult with Mr. Easter bunny in advance. This year we’ve struck a deal. He’s honored my request to abstain from going overboard and will scatter a light trail of dairy-free chocolate and fruity Surf Sweets® jelly beans. In exchange, he’s expecting a plate of his favorite macaroons—done up all festive like.

This week I was tickled jelly bean pink to receive news that this recipe for Jelly Bean Macaroon Nests placed 3rd in the Surf Sweets® Jelly Beans Blogger Bake-Off. In the words of the contest judges:

"[We] felt that your recipe for Jelly Bean Macaroon Nests met, and exceeded,
Surf Sweets Jelly Beans Blogger Bake-Off criteria for taste, originality, creative use
of Jelly Beans and presentation. Quite frankly, we loved the
m!"

Woohoo! Thanks Surf Sweets! This health-conscious mom sure appreciates your using natural, organic ingredients free of trans fats, GMOs, corn syrup, gluten, artificial colors and flavors. And I know that those with anaphylactic kiddos appreciate your products being made in a dedicated allergen-free production facility (free of peanut, wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, tree nuts, shell fish, and fish). Check out the entire line of Surf Sweets® candy here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

xoLexie

Jelly Bean Macaroon Nests

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Tree Nut-Free (exception of coconut) | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian

Ingredients:

1/3 cup Artisana® COCONUT BUTTER (see notes)
6 tablespoons pure MAPLE SYRUP
1/2 teaspoon pure gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1/8 teaspoon SALT
2 cups finely SHREDDED COCONUT, unsweetened
Surf Sweets® JELLY BEANS
Optional 1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut tinted with a few drops of India Tree Natural Decorating Colors

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.
  2. Melt coconut butter in large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Stir in shredded coconut and combine well.
  3. Gently pack coconut mixture into golf ball-sized mounds using hands or a small cookie dough scoop. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Using thumbs create a small indent. If using tinted coconut, sprinkle some over the nest.
  5. Place three jelly beans in each nest.
  6. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer cookie sheet to refrigerator and chill. This step helps cookies set.
  8. Store in air-tight container.

Notes:

Coconut butter is a densely nutritious spread made from whole, raw coconut flesh (not just the oil). It has been heralded for its medium-chain fatty acid-rich oil, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. It contains no additives—simply pure, unadulterated coconut. Coconut butter gives these crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside macaroons a double dose of coconut goodness.

Tuesday
Mar272012

Grain-Free Granola Balls

Today the lovely and talented Hallie of Daily Bites is here to share one of her most popular snackin' recipes. If you've not met Hallie, I hope you'll head on over to her blog and get acquainted. On her site, Hallie shares gluten-free (and usually dairy-free) recipes featuring fresh, natural ingredients. 

Hallie is a nutrition educator, professional recipe developer, passionate foodie and author. Her book, The Pure Kitchen, is available from Amazon.com and The Pure Kitchen e-store. This cookbook offers readers and food-lovers a unique but easy approach to fortifying their diets with whole, natural, pure foods. While eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet can be daunting in a world of packaged convenience foods and take-out, learning to cook at home is essential to adopting a healthy lifestyle. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and gluten-free whole grains is quite possibly one of the healthiest around. From energizing breakfasts to mouthwatering desserts, The Pure Kitchen is chock-full of recipes, tips, and tricks for eating well, living pure, and maximizing good health.

 

Guest Post: Grain-Free Granola Balls by Hallie Klecker

There are few things I miss from my pre-gluten-free days. Honestly, I could care less about banana bread and carrot cake, whole grain toast or English muffins, pasta or pizza. Give me a plateful of sweet potatoes or brown rice any day. Gluten-full foods don’t mean that much to me.

With one exception. Granola.

Just a year or two before I went gluten-free, I crafted the most addictively good and ridiculously easy granola recipe. Laden with oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, natural sweeteners and spices, that stuff was incredible. Drizzled with just enough almond milk to coat the crunchy clusters, it was heaven in a bowl.

I was sorely disappointed when I tried the same recipe with gluten-free rolled oats only to find that my body doesn’t jive with them. A few here or there in a baked good is tolerable, but when it comes to eating straight oats in something like granola or oatmeal, it’s a no go.

So, quite miserably, I’ve given up granola for the last few years. It’s one of the very, very few “gluten foods” I actually crave from time to time. But ever since a few bad experiences with gluten-free oats, I’ve laid aside all hope of enjoying it again.

But when January 20 rolled around—National Granola Bar Day—something fluttered in my stomach. Like an old highschool crush coming back to haunt me, I recalled my love for granola with an ache in my chest. In a bar or in a bowl, it doesn’t matter. Granola is heaven in all forms.

So, armed with nothing but passion for my deepest culinary love and a pantry full of nuts, seeds and dried fruits, I set out to make what I hoped to be an oat-free granola knock-off that would satisfy even my strongest cravings.

As I mixed together my favorite combination of usual granola suspects—walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, honey, cinnamon—I felt a surge of hope flood through me. Maybe this would work after all.

Pinching the mixture between my fingers as I was about to spread the granola out in an even layer on a pan, the thought occured to me: why not turn this granola—my favorite anytime snack—into a bite-sized ball?

I took the idea and ran with it. These balls, firm enough to hold their shape but not so much as to break a jaw, are a testament to the fact that even our most cherished recipes can be modified to fit a new lifestyle. Enjoy these balls alongside a cup of tea and you favorite newspaper (or, if you’re like me, food magazine). For all you winter travelers, these are exceptionally transportable, too. They’d make a healthy (and incomparably delicious) alternative to airplane peanuts.

The results of writing this recipe have confirmed my belief that granola in all forms—be it by the bowl, bar, or ball—is completely and utterly perfect.

I cannot think of any other word in the English language to describe it. So perfect will do just fine.

Grain-Free Granola Balls

Makes: 12-14 balls

Ingredients:

½ cup raw SUNFLOWER SEEDS
½ cup raw PUMPKIN SEEDS
½ cup blanched ALMOND FLOUR
1 teaspoon ground CINNAMON
½ teaspoon SEA SALT
1 cup raw WALNUTS, chopped
¼ cup dried BLUEBERRIES
¼ cup RAISINS
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon good quality HONEY
2 tablespoons ALMOND BUTTER
1 tablespoon WATER
½ teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse for ten 1-second pulses to form a coarse meal. Transfer to medium bowl.
  3. Stir in the walnuts, blueberries, and raisins.
  4. Then add the honey, almond butter, water, and vanilla. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Dough will be thick and stiff.
  5. Using wet hands, form dough into tightly-packed balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown. Balls will still be soft to touch. Cool completely before serving or storing. Balls will set up as they cool. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)
Monday
Mar192012

Dairy-Free Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

Are you living dairy-free? Who says you have to swear off a silky chocolate cheesecake?

Of all things, this chocolate cheesecake recipe was inspired by a pan—yep, a pan. Specifically this pan.

Last Thanksgiving my sister made the most adorable mini raw pumpkin cheesecakes using this pan (well, raw except for the pumpkin part). They were almost too cute to pop in my mouth! So on Black Friday you can bet what I was out hunting for. A mini cheesecake pan of my own (and let me tell you, it was hard to find—I finally resorted to Amazon). I just had, had, had to have one and that meant I had to come up with a sweet something to fill it with to justify the expense.

I think this recipe justifies it. No?

The base of the recipe comes from this Mini Strawberry Cheesecake post. To lighten it up a bit (raw cheesecakes are usually a combination of cashews and coconut oil ... sometimes tofu ... but we don't do soy ... so ...), I added some non-dairy yogurt to the mix. The result; a cross between a cheesecake and frozen yogurt! These are the bomb when frozen and then allowed to thaw a bit prior to serving—oh, and topped with a decadent dairy-free Kahlua Ganache, of course.

Instead of recreating the wheel, I asked our friend—Kelly of The Spunky Coconut—to recommend a graham-cracker-like crust. She pointed me to this one. The only addition was a bit of cocoa powder to make it a chocolate graham cracker crust. Perfect!

You'll get the silkiest results with a high-powered blender like the OmniBlend, Blendtec or Vitamix.

Let me know what you think!

Chocolate sells—here's the proof.

Oh but wait, before we get to the recipe, I have a funny for you. Let's call it the Blogger Tip 'O The Day. Looky here at this chart.

See that spike? That's 4,200 of you stopping by Lexie's Kitchen over the course of one day to get your chocolate fix.

This graph shows daily traffic to my site. You see that spike there? Wanna know what caused it? A simple but ooey gooey chocolate recipe (this 5-Minute Microwave Mug Brownie). So if you're blog is stalling a bit, my advice is to post a decadent chocolate recipe. You're bound to see that traffic rebound in a jiffy. The proof is in the pudding—or ahem, in the chocolate brownie—WE LOVE CHOCOLATE!

Mini Chocolate Silk Cheesecakes with Kahlua Ganache

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | Sesame-Free | Yeast-free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Easily Vegan (use alternative liquid sweetener in place of honey in crust)

Serves:  12

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
Make 1/2 a batch of this WALNUT-BASED PIE CRUST, adding 1-1/2 tablespoons COCOA POWDER.

For the Filling:
1 cup raw CASHEWS, soaked for 4 hours and rinsed well
1 cup non-dairy vanilla YOGURT (I use So Delicious)
1/3 cup COCONUT OIL, liquefied
1-1/2 tablespoon fresh LIME JUICE
1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR (or sugar of choice)
3 tablespoons COCOA POWDER
8 drops vanilla liquid STEVIA (or sweeten to taste with more sugar)
1/4 scant teaspoon SEA SALT

For the Ganache:
1/3 cup COCONUT CREAM (see notes)
1/3 cup "safe" CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Optional 2 tablespoons KAHLUA LIQUEUR

Directions:

  1. Make crust according to Kelly's directions. Just add 1-1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the mix.
  2. Divide crust evenly between, and press into, 12 mini cheesecake pan molds (like this one).
  3. Bake 350˚F for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool 10 minutes.
  4. Blend all cheesecake ingredients in a high-powered blender until super smooth, scraping sides.
  5. Fill cheesecake molds with cheesecake mixture. 
  6. Transfer to freezer.
  7. To make the ganache; heat coconut cream over medium heat in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and liqueur. Continue stirring until smooth.
  8. Remove pan of cheesecakes from freezer 15 minutes prior to serving. Push them out of molds, remove the metal disk, and transfer to individual serving plates. 
  9. Top with ganache and serve.
  10. Store leftovers in freezer or refrigerator. It just depends if you prefer a firmer or a creamier texture.

Notes:

Coconut Cream: Set a 14 fl. oz. can of Thai Kitchen full-fat coconut milk in a cool spot for 24-48 hours. Open can and spoon off 1/3 cup of the white solids. This is "coconut cream." Use the remainder of the can in a smoothie!

Tuesday
Mar132012

Maggie's Gone Crackers

You know when you meet someone for the first time and instinctively know that you're going to hit it off? That's how I felt about Maggie Savage when I met her at a conference a year ago. She is a beautiful person inside and out and so comfortable to be around. Our families eat much the same way and there isn't a recipe recipe of Maggie's that I've tried and not loved.

Maggie is the author and creator of She Let Them Eat Cake, a gluten-free blog about life as an allergy-friendly family. She was pushed in that direction when her husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease seven years ago and more recently with the shift to raise her two young children gluten-free as well. Maggie does a great job debunking the myths of a gluten-free lifestyle and shows us that allergy-friendly living is not only healthy, but also yummy! Maggie is also the co-founder of The Balanced Platter.

Guest Post: Rosemary Onion Crackers by Maggie Savage

I recently had the chance to shop at a Whole Foods (food bloggers dream about this) and I bought some really yummy crackers. They inspired me to make my own. Look out Mary!

These aren’t your every day "Mommy can I have some peanut butter and crackers?" crackers, although I think they taste super yummy with almond butter. They’re a little fancier—whip up a batch next time you’re having your friends over for dinner. Trust me, they will love them and will be totally impressed. No one will notice that they’re naturally gluten, dairy, and egg-free—and even qualify as grain-free!

These crackers taste even better the next day because the flavours have a chance to get all comfy with each other! So go ahead and make them up a day ahead if you’re serving them for guests.

There are so many uses for these delicious crackers: croutons, as garnish on a warm bowl of homemade soup, or slathered in almond butter for breakfast. You could even use them as crunchy bread crumbs.

Rosemary Onion Crackers
aka "Maggie's Gone Crackers"

Here's what you'll need to make up a batch of these crackers. 

Ingredients:

Flax Seed
Sea Salt
Rosemary
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Maple Syrup or Agave

Directions:

For measurements and directions, please head on over to She Let Them Eat Cake.

Happy snacking!