Wednesday
Nov282012

Gluten-Free (and eel-free) Eel Sauce

 

I wing it in the kitchen ... often. If I don't have a particular ingredient on hand or have a strong distaste for an ingredient a recipe calls for, I improvise. And that's just what I've done with this Eel Sauce—a tasty drizzle for sushi and one I recommend to serve at your next Hand Roll Sushi Party.

This is not your traditional Eel Sauce. There's nothing "eel-y" about it. I wouldn't have it. You see, I am not a snake person and eels fall into the same category of "creepy and slithery" and I'd rather not eat them.

I shudder when I think back to the day my friend Aldina and I (we were 5 or 6) came screeching to a halt in her grandfather's kitchen. There in the middle of the linoleum floor was a five gallon bucket. Coiled inside that five gallon bucket was THE biggest, fattest eel I'd ever seen—a 6-footer at least! He was icky and slimy, and grinned at us with razor-sharp teeth, I was thoroughly grossed out. I remember not asking what was for dinner.

And then there was the time off Wailupe Circle. Us kids would dive off the pier into deep blue. To get back ON the pier you had to swim over a bit of reef. I'll never forget coming face-to-face with a sizeable Moray eel. If I could have walked on water, I would've that day. 

So long story short, when I set out to mix up a version of eel sauce you can bet I left the eel part out. And you know what? Fish sauce worked juuuust fine.

Gluten-Free Eel Sauce Recipe (to Serve with Sushi)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons RICE WINE
2 tablespoons gluten-free SOY SAUCE or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons HONEY or sugar
1 teaspoon FISH SAUCE (available from Thai Kitchen or Asian markets)
1/2 cup WATER
1 tablespoon ARROWROOT STARCH or corn starch

 

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan bring rice wine, soy sauce, honey, and fish sauce to a gentle simmer.
  2. In a small bowl combine water and arrowroot starch to make a slurry.
  3. Wisk starch slurry into simmering mixture. Heat just until thickened and remove from heat.
  4. Let cool and drizzle over sushi. 

 

More Sushi from Lexie's Kitchen

Throw a Hand Roll Sushi Party

Spicy Shrimp Sushi Filling (coming soon!)

Inari Sushi

Inside Out California Roll

Monday
Nov262012

The Hand Roll Sushi Party

Last weekend my sister and her beau treated us to an Asian feast. It was my first ever sushi hand roll party and all I can say is that I'm hooked! I'm not sure what part of the evening topped the other—all of us in the kitchen slicing, dicing and gabbing away or the rolling and eating part!

Gotta love a dude with skills in the kitchen. Here's the beau mixing up some spicy tuna.

If you're looking for an easy and engaging dinner party idea, look no further, throw a sushi hand roll party! Just toss some sushi rice, offer a few starters, set out some fillings, and leave the rest to your guests.

The sis in the kitchen.

Marisa over at In the Kitchen with a Southern Sushi Chef has more great tips for throwing a sushi hand roll party including a shopping list for a party of 10. Stay tuned for a tasty spicy shrimp filling and a gluten-free (and eel-free) eel sauce—that sweet and tasty brown sauce I liberally dip sushi in.

The Starters

Miso Soup (don't do soy? this broth is a winner!)
Pot Stickers (here is a gluten-free pot sticker recipe or maybe you can get these near you)
Edamame 

The Rice & Nori

Gently fluff 4 cups warm cooked sushi grade rice with 1/4 cup naturally gluten-free Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar (or make your own, here is my recipe). Seasoning the rice is optional. 

Cut sheets of nori in half.

The Veggies

Shredded Carrots
Shredded Radish
Cucumbers
Avocado (ripe but firm)
Shiitake Mushrooms
Green Onions
Asparagus (blanched)
Daikon Sprouts
Takugan (pickled radish)
Watercress 
Lettuce 
Jalapeno 
Whatever suits your fancy 

The Protein

Spicy Tuna or Spicy Shrimp Filling
Smoked or Grilled Salmon
Sushi Grade Raw Fish
Cooked Shrimp
Cooked Crab (most imitation crab meat contains gluten—eeks!)
Tofu
Egg Omelette Slices or Tamagoyaki
Teriyaki Chicken
Cream Cheese Substitute (or cream cheese if tolerated)
Ground Peanuts

The Extras & Drizzles

Pickled Sushi Ginger
Prepared Wasabi
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Gluten-Free Eel Sauce
Chili Sesame Oil

Let Your Guests Have at It

Set out one or a couple of communal rice bowls. Arrange fillings on a platter and let guests roll their own hand rolls. Here is a how-to video so that you can give your guests some pointers. Have fun! We did!!!

 

Other Sushi Recipes from Lexie's Kitchen

THROW A HAND ROLL SUSHI PARTY

GLUTEN-FREE (AND EEL-FREE) EEL SAUCE

INARI SUSHI

INSIDE OUT CALIFORNIA ROLL

Saturday
Nov242012

Snow Cones for Hot Heads

It's that time of year. The sickies are making the rounds. A friend once told me "when your kids enter school, you will be sicker than you've ever been." It's the absolute truth.

The past four weeks have gone like this. Cough. Low ox levels. Really bad cough. Low energy. Fever. Repeat. I turn to antibiotics only when absolutely necessary—we're on round two—that's how bad it's been. Our little guy has had a real rough go of it this month.

Last night as we watched his oxygen levels plummet yet again, my nerves got the best of me. I found myself shaking with fear. My body was emotially and mentally taxed. I tell you, aside from the one time I had to revive my child, viral-induced asthma flare-ups have been the most frightening thing I have dealt with as a parent.

My hat's off to all you mammas and pappas who stand guard on "asthma watch." It is a tiring and frightening chore. 

Hopefully, with the worst behind us, I can sit down and share this simple recipe for an Immune-Boosting Snow Cone Syrup. I mixed it up to serve over snow cones to bring some relief (and fun) to my hot-headed boy and to ensure he remained hydrated.

The snow cone machine you see here is decent. It was a Bed Bath & Beyond impulse buy. I really have nothing to compare it to. If you are in the market for one, now or next summer, shop around and read reviews. You may come across one that's higher rated. 

One of the ingredients in this syrup is a fruit anthocyanins concentrated liquid. Anthocyanins are the largest water-soluble pigments in the plant kingdom. They are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors in fruits and vegetables and are known for their antioxidant properties. 

We use Dr. William Mitchell's blend which is only available through certain wellness providers. Scientific studies have have shown that the particular fruits and berries contained in his blend—red grape, elderberry, blueberry, aronia berry, pomegranate and red raspberry—have extraordinary health benefits. If you can't find a source for Dr. Mitchell's blend, try this one

Immune-Boosting Snow Cone Syrup

Ingredients:

1 cup no sugar added CHERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE (like this one)
1/2 cup COCONUT WATER or water
1 tablespoon FRUIT ANTHOCYANINS CONCENTRATED LIQUID/SYRUP (like this one or this one)
1 tablespoon LIQUID VITAMIN C (like this one)
Sweetener to taste (see notes)

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a squirt bottle.
  2. Squirt liberally over snow cones.

Notes:

Sugar is your immune system's enemy. If you absolutely have to sweeten the mixture, I suggest using a little liquid stevia concentrate (my favorite) or slightly warmed Manuka or other raw honey (for those over 1 year old). 

Got Asthma?

If you are new to asthma like we were three years ago, here are some things that have given us some peace of mind when our little boy has had flare-ups:

Have an Asthma Action Plan. Formulate one with your child's doctor and tape it to the inside of your medicine cabinet. In the wee hours of the morning it will help you think clearly and know what to do and when. 

Own a Nebulizer. Your doctor has probably already prescribed one. Be sure to be stocked with rescue meds.

Know Your Child's Trigger. For our son, it's an innocent viral infection. If he is going to flare, he usually does so within 24 hours of the first sign of illness. We have learned that we dare not take him into a humid shower to "relieve congestion"—that's landed us in the hospital twice. Everyone's triggers are different.

Get a Stethoscope and OximeterThese tools can buy a lot of peace of mind. With them I can monitor oxygen levels and be alerted to the first sign of wheezing. But symptoms like retraction, fitful sleep, moaning, rapid breathing without fever, and rapid-fire cough always trump the stethoscope and oximeter. That is when we head to the ER. 

Hang in There. This too shall pass. Be sure to take care of you! I ramp up on supplements that support my adrenals, try to eat well, hydrate, and thank my lucky stars for a husband to tag team with. If you are the lone guard, get some help so that you can get some rest. Even if it's just for an hour or two to catch up on sleep.

Thursday
Nov152012

Entertaining the Kids on Turkey Day

Some tasty bites brought to you by Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and Jeanette's Healthy Living.The big day is just one week away. Mom's eyes will be on the roasting turkey, the boiling potatoes and the baking pies. Dad's eyes will be on the game. So whose eyes will be on the kids?

Today I hosted Robin of Mother Nature Network, Jeanette of Jeanette's Healthy Living, and Sarah of Sarah Bakes Gluten-Free for a Google+ Hangout to talk about ways to keep our little ones blissfully entertained, contented, and (ahem) out of mischief this Thanksgiving day.

Tips to Highlight

1. Start the day off with a finger-food breakfast. Fruit and these Cinnamon Roll Muffins fit the bill.

2. Put the kids to work prepping vegetables, mashing sweet potatoes, hauling in groceries, rearranging furniture, or writing little messages to go into these Thankful Rolls—the cutest thing ever!

3. Keep kids' hunger at bay with easy, prep-ahead finger food like these 5 Kid-Friendly Dip Recipes.

4. Put kids to work setting up and decorating a Kids Table that the adults will envy!

5. Set up a craft table. Here is a fun idea. For more craft ideas, visit Kids Activities Blog and do a "Thanksgiving" search.

I hope that because our family doesn't do the football game scene doesn't make us TOO un-American. Ha! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Thursday
Nov082012

Maple Syrup-Sweetened Marshmallows

New Pinterest Board!

Looking for a Pinterest board dedicated solely to Gluten-Free Goodies? Look no further. Check this one out and begin following along. Just click the badge below.

A few weeks back I tempted you with some cane sugar-free, corn syrup-free, egg-free marshmallows. I promised the recipe, and it's finally ready. We've had some medical stuff to deal with and so I thank you— you've been incredibly patient.

Mad Science in the Kitchen

These past weeks in my mad marshmallow experimentation I have learned that you cannot substitute agar agar for gelatin when making these marshmallows. I have learned that the type of sweetener used can make a difference. Believe it or not, marshmallows have a preference for sucrose over glucose. And, I have learned that as temperamental as they can be, marshmallows are pretty easy to make! I feel I have a lot more to learn and so I will continue my education in the field of Marshmallow Science. I wonder if Alton Brown would want to come over and play? Alton? 


The Sweeteners

I tested a slew of sweeteners ... and here's how they fared.

HONEY
First up were honey-sweetened marshmallows using this recipe from Z's Cup of Tea. Its a goody! An intense "honey" experience, fur shure. Oh and if honey is your thing, Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut has a great recipe for Honey Marshmallow Fluff in her Dairy-Free Ice Cream cookbook.

COCONUT NECTAR
Next up, coconut nectar—that insanely expensive, lower-glycemic, caramel undertoned sweetener that I love atop my almond milk frappucino. Well, the jury is still out on this one. This batch bound up on me to the point I couldn't even scoop it out of the bowl! I plan to try coconut nectar again to ensure it wasn't an error on my part, but after my initial "fail" I moved on to ...

GLUTEN-FREE BROWN RICE SYRUP
These marshmallows (pictured in the tutorial below) turned out nicely—not as fluffy as the maple syrup version (I used a smaller measure of water), but more on the soft and tender side. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the brown rice syrup aftertaste. That said, I might make these again, but I'd likely flavor them with a fairly strong extract (peppermint was great) to mask the brown rice syrup aftertaste. But really, I thought they were the bomb until I tried ...

MAPLE SYRUP
YES! These were the ticket! Tonight, as we finished off a batch of Maple Marshmallows, my son said "Mom, these are the best ones so far," and I had to agree. These marshmallows were fluffy and on the stiffer side. 

Three Tips

Before we dive into the recipe, I am going to to give you three pointers.

FIRST: 235-245˚F is what we call the soft-ball candy stage. I found that it's best to remove the boiling sweetener from heat the instant it hits the 235˚F mark and certainly before the 245˚F mark. A syrup hotter than 245˚F may cause the marshmallows to flop.

SECOND: Do not over beat. Beating and beating and beating in hopes of creating a mile high pile of fluff seems to cause the mixture to cool to the point that it begins to set. This may not be the case for all marshmallow recipes ... but seems to be for this one.

Beat just to the point when the mixture turns white, thickens up, and gently falls in ribbons (versus thin stream) from the beaters. Beat much longer—to soft peaks or when you feel the mixture pull at or climb up the beaters—and the mixture will begin to set and will be nearly impossible to spread (but not to worry, they'll still be good to eat!).

THIRD: No two batches of marshmallows have turned out exactly the same for me. So just roll with it and enjoy the fruits (however they turn out) of your labor!

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows

Ingredients:

1/3 cup, plus more as needed, ARROWROOT STARCH, potato or corn starch
1/2 cup cold WATER
2 teaspoons pure gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1/4 teaspoon fine SALT
2-1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered GELATIN
1 cup pure MAPLE SYRUP
1/8 teaspoon CREAM OF TARTAR (recommended but not necessary)

Directions:

  1. Lightly coat an 8x8" square pan with oil. Generously dust sides and bottom with starch. Set aside.
  2. Add water, vanilla, and salt to a deep, wide mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly sprinkle gelatin over surface of liquids to bloom. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan slowly bring maple syrup and cream of tartar (if using) to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, slowly increasing temperature to medium-high until a digital or candy thermometer registers the syrup at the low end of the soft ball candy stage—235˚F. Immediately remove from heat!
  4. Working quickly and carefully, slowly beat hot syrup into bloomed gelatin using a handheld or stand mixer. I have a handheld and do this in the sink in case of splatters.
  5. Beat until the mixture thickens, turns white, and gently falls in ribbons when the beaters are lifted from the bowl—about 5-6 minutes. 
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared 8x8-inch pan. Quickly smooth top with oiled rubber spatula or fingers.
  7. Dust surface with additional starch and let set 2-3 hours at room temperature or until firm to touch.
  8. Unmold from pan onto a starch-dusted surface and slice into desired sized cubes (large or mini) with a sharp starch-dusted knife.
  9. Dust marshmallows in starch as needed to prevent sticking.
  10. Store in air-tight container at room temp for up to one week or freeze.

Notes & More Helpful Hints:

Like 'em Super Firm:  If you like firm and structured marshmallows (like Kraft Jet-Puffed), add an extra 1/2 tablespoon gelatin, bringing the measure up to 3 tablespoons.

And I Bet You're Wondering... : Yeah, no, these beauties do not perform fireside or atop a sweet potato casserole. They don't "toast," they melt. But that's okay by me, I am just glad to know that I can make these fluffy treats for my kids to enjoy as is or floating in a mug of hot cocoa.

The Mixer: Gasp! I don't have a stand mixer, and sure wouldn't refuse one (hint, hint KitchenAid, this one would be sweet!). For those of you who do, I'd love your report. Did your marshmallows turn out insanely fluffy?

For Mini Marshmallows: Spread the whipped mixture in a slightly larger pan to achieve a height of about 1/2 inch.

Flavors: For chocolate marshmallows, add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder in the last minute of beating. For peppermint marshmallows, add 1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) of peppermint extract. For an extra vanilla kick, add a couple teaspoons of this powder (does contain a small amout of cane sugar) to the your final dusting starch. Mmmmmm. Still dreaming up more!

Wednesday
Nov072012

Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party

Grab a napkin and sample some bites at Cara's Cravings Clean Eating Cocktail Party 2012! Today over at Cara's Cravings I am sharing a quick and easy recipe for Mac Ricotta. Paired with your favorite gluten-free cracker, this macadamia nut "cheese" spread makes the perfect base for all kinds of toppings—sweet, savory or both.

Like you and I, Ms. Cara is a lover of clean food. Her blog event runs through the month of November and will showcase a host of like-minded and "like-eating" food bloggers.

Stop by Cara's Cravings each day this month for healthy hors d'oeuvre recipes that will be the hit of your holiday party.

 

Thursday
Oct252012

Google Hangout with Mother Nature Network

Last night I hungout with some very cool ladies in a Mother Nature Network Google Hangout on Air. We exchanged ideas for going "greener" this Halloween. I did mention the touches I added to our entry (above)—a branch the kids and I pulled out of the wooded area behind our house, construction paper crow cut-outs, cobwebs, spiders, and pumpkins. Quick, easy and fairly "green."

We didn't cover all the topics we had planned to but did talk a bunch about treats and ideas for making Halloween allergy-friendly.

Here are some treat options that might not break the bank:

For more inspiration, head on over to Mother Nature Network.

Wednesday
Oct172012

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Buttercream Frosting

Party Time!

It's party time at your local school. For many of us that means baking and sending ghoulish "safe" treats to class with our little ones.

If you're up for taking the quick and easy route, give these cupcakes a try.

Start with a Cake Mix

First, grab a gluten-free cake mix. Included in my recent TasterieBox was a package of one of my favorite deliciously dark chocolate cake mixes—so that's what I used. It is easily prepared using your favorite milk and egg substitutes. I used chia eggs. Another stellar mix to prepare with flax or chia eggs is this one.

Next Comes the Icing

Last week I posted a Sunflower Coconut Butter recipe that "kinda sorta" resembles peanut butter. I had some leftover so whipped up a "Peanut" Buttercream frosting. Yum! Recipe follows.

Top it Off with Creepiness

Get creative with toppings for this cupcake. These flies were a Michaels clearance item last year. Definitely grody (I'd rather not know what these bug-gers were sitting on before landing on my cupcakes. Ha! Realistic, no?.

Plastic spiders—another good and grody idea.

Looking for edible? These candies would be fun. Or how about cute little Jack-o'-lanterns (recipe follows). I picked up the candy molds at a thrift shop but am sure you could find something similar at your local craft store.

Have a great week everyone!

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Buttercream Frosting
Inspired by the buttercream frostings found in Paleo Indulgences by Tammy Credicott

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Palm SHORTENING
1/4 cup Sunflower Coconut Butter or Sunbutter®
2 tablespoons COCONUT OIL
1/4 cup MAPLE SYRUP
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
1/8 scant teaspoon SALT

Directions:

  1. Ensure shortening and coconut oil are room temperature. Not melted, not super hard.
  2. Using an electric mixer whip all ingredients until smooth and light.
  3. Spread or pipe onto cake/cupcakes. For a more structured frosting, refrigerate 5-10 minutes.

Notes:

  1. For these cupcakes I piped the frosting on using an un-tipped icing bag. For this effect you will want to pipe on the frosting immediately after whipping it up. For a structured frosting, refrigerate 5-10 minutes until it just begins to firm up. It will firm up quick so keep an eye on it.
  2. This frosting melts at higher temperatures. I refrigerate the cupcakes after decorating and pull them out 5-10 minutes before serving.
  3. A tablespoon or two of arrowroot starch may be added to enhance the texture.

Peanut-Free "Peanut" Butter Cup Candies

Ingredients:

Sunflower Coconut Butter (or other nut/seed butter that solidifies when refrigerated)
Chocolate chips (like these)

Directions:

  1. Gently heat a small amount of nut butter and fill candy molds 3/4 full.
  2. Transfer to freezer and freeze until set.
  3. Gently heat chocolate chips and top off candy molds.
  4. Freeze until set.
  5. Serve frozen.
Tuesday
Oct162012

Almost Like Peanut Butter but Peanut-Free!

This post is linked to: Allergy-Free Wednesday Week 39

A good peanut-free peanut butter substitute is hard to find. This sunflower coconut butter is the closest I've made in taste and texture to honest-to-goodness peanut butter.

Nut-Free Peanut Butter-Like Spread

We've gone without peanut butter for a while now ... and we really miss the stuff. To satisfy our cravings we've been eating jar after jar of Sunbutter®— also known as sunflower butter, the most common (if not only) nut-free (but not coconut-free) substitute for peanut butter's creamy goodness. 

My kids love sunflower butter. I like it enough to eat it, but just find the roasted sunflower taste a wee bit overpowering.

So I thought about taming it.

But how?

Coconut!

To my surprise, this combination of toasted sunflower seeds and coconut is the closest substitute I've found, in taste and texture, to that of creamy peanut butter.

For the creamiest spread, you will need a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, OmniBlend, or Vitamix. I ran a batch in my food processor and got a butter (after 15 minutes), but it was far from smooth. In a high-powered blender, friction and the resulting heat causes the mixture to liquefy. Once poured into jars and allowed to cool at room temperature, it should firm up to a creamy spreadable butter.

Peanut-Free "Almost Like Peanut Butter"
Sunflower Coconut Nut Butter Spread

Ingredients:

1/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR or granulated sugar
4 cups finely shredded COCONUT, unsweetened
1 cup raw SUNFLOWER SEEDS
1-1/2 tablespoons COCONUT OIL
1/4 heaping teaspoon SALT

Directions:

  1. Add coconut sugar to container of high-powered blender. Blend 10-15 seconds or until powdery. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet toast sunflower seeds over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the majority of seeds are golden in color. Transfer to blender container.
  3. Add to skillet coconut. ***Coconut toasts quickly*** Over medium heat warm coconut flakes until heated through and some of the shreds are golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Blend sunflower seeds on low until a fine powder forms.
  5. Add coconut oil and blend again, increasing to medium speed and pausing to scrape sides as needed.
  6. Blitz on high for 10 seconds and stop.
  7. Add 1 cup coconut. Blend at medium speed for 20-30 seconds then increase to high for 10, pausing to scrape sides as needed. At this point butter should be forming and liquefying.
  8. Repeat step seven, 1 cup of coconut at at time.
  9. Once all coconut has been incorporated and mixture is runny, add sugar and salt and blend on high to achieve desired smoothness, about 60-90 seconds.
  10. Mixture will be HOT and runny. Pour into jar(s), cover and cool at room temperature until firmed up. This can take 8-24 hours depend on temperature of your kitchen.
  11. Store at room temperature for up to a week or in fridge up to a month.

Notes:

  1. As the blender pulverizes and liquefies the mixture, you may notice what appears to be smoke wafting out of the blender container. No worries, this is an oil mist. No harm is being done to your blender. That said, if your blender starts to smell like hot rubber, let it rest and crank the speed down a knotch.
  2. ***If you are dealing with a severe (anaphylactic) peanut allergy, ensure your source of sunflower seeds can guarantee no cross contamination with peanuts or other foods you are allergic to***
Friday
Oct122012

Marshmallows in Progress

POST UPDATE:  Marshmallows are done! Here is the recipe.

_____________________________________________________________________

Since making a batch of honey marshmallow fluff following a recipe in this book, I have been obsessed with marshmallows—and making them with natural sweeteners.

Though I haven't landed on the perfect flavor combo yet, I thought I would tease you with these.

Aren't they adorable!!

Every night after dinner it's been "chocolate milk with marshmallows on top for dessert, mom!"

Want the recipe? Let me know in a comment.

Any good flavor ideas? I'm thinking peppermint? Or how about pumpkin spice?

Thursday
Oct112012

New Cookbook! Super Healthy Cookies

Today I had a great visit with Hallie Klecker of Daily Bites.

In a Google+ Hangout we talked about juicing, her mother's influence on her in the kitchen, and her latest cookbook Super Healthy Cookies: 50 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Delicious & Nutritious Treats. If you missed it, you can watch it here:

 

Hallie is a shining star in the gluten free, whole foods community. This new book is just an example of the kind of contribution she is making.

I don't know about you, but I am seeing an encouraging trend. More and more people are swinging back to a purer, wholesome way of eating—making wiser choices, adding more vegetables, good fats, and quality proteins to their diet.

As we make these positive changes Hallie reminds us that, for most, the occasional treat is okay ... when made with healthier ingredients. Hallie skillfully coaches us on how to sparingly, but effectively, sweeten treats with the natural sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and dried fruit versus cups upon cups of refined sugar.

I have made four recipes from this book. And each one has satisfied! Hallie has agreed to share her recipe for Chunky Monkey Cookies (pictured above, page 26). I finally had to stick them in the freezer. Leaving them on the counter was just too tempting :).

For those with food allergies and/or sensitivities, the appendix of Super Healthy Cookies is full of helpful tips on how to substitute healthier ingredients in your baking as well as a guide for quickly finding the recipes in the book that are nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and even vegan. Nuts and some grains are used (like oats and rice) ... refined sugar is not.

You can bet that this will be my holiday gift to friends and family. A little indulgence without all the guilt.

Oh, and I am happy to say that I played a little part in producing this baby. When I am not blogging or "mommying" I freelance as a graphic designer and this project was my first book design gig. Thank you Hallie for trusting me with the design and production of this rockin' book. It was an absolute joy to work with you.

Win a Cookbook!

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations Traci who commented "Looks like an awesome cookbook! Need healthy cookie recipes :)" — you won!

Hallie would like to send one Lexie's Kitchen reader a copy of Super Healthy Cookies. Enter by 4:00 pm (PST) October 15, 2012.

1. FOR ONE CHANCE TO WIN, leave a comment at the end of this post.

2. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

3. For a yet ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, add me to your circles on Google+ (what is Google+) OR post this review to your Google+ stream and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

Tuesday
Oct022012

How to Make a Chia Egg (or Flax Egg)

Gel eggs (chia or flax) are my secret weapon in egg-free baking. Pictured: Chia gel.

The last few days I have been working like a mad woman cooking and shooting food. A huge [HUGE] thank you goes out to my sister who has been visiting ... and doing dishes ... and playing sous chef ... and entertaining my kids. Without her I wouldn't have been able to nail 15 shots in two days!

Needless to say, I am a little pooped.

So, today I'm keeping it simple and sharing a tip for those who have never heard of or used gel eggs as egg replacers in baking. Way back when, I used the powder Ener-G egg replacer, but it wasn't until I began using chia and flax eggs that my gluten-free, egg-free baking really took off.

This "recipe" is for making one egg replacer. You are pretty safe using gel eggs in most baked goods that call for two eggs or less. Gel eggs "bind." Unfortunately they do not add much in the way of fluff as would be achieved with eggs in a souffle or sponge cake. Nor would I make a quiche with gel eggs (ewww gross)!

I encourage you to experiment and play. Gel eggs may not work in every recipe, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. My go-to special occasion birthday cake is this one. I substitute the dairy milk with any non-dairy substitute and the eggs with gel eggs. The results are fantastic! Moist, great crumb, great flavor!

To make gel eggs only requires one tool—a grinder like a Magic Bullet or coffee/spice grinder for grinding the raw, whole chia or flax seed to meal. I use the later—a cheap-o one I picked up at Target.

Chia Egg & Flax Egg Replacer

Ingredients

1 tablespoon CHIA MEAL or FLAX MEAL (seeds that have been ground)
3 tablespoons WATER

Instructions

  1. Whisk meal and water together and let stand 5-10 minutes until thick, gelatinous and gloppy.
  2. Use in baking as you would one egg.

Tips

  1. Chia and flax seeds may be purchased online and at most natural grocery stores.
  2. Always start with fresh seeds. I never buy pre-ground. The fragile oils go rancid quickly.
  3. Grind seed just before using.
  4. Leftover gel may be kept refrigerated. Use within 3 days.
  5. Store whole seed in airtight containers. Chia may be kept in a cool dark place for years. Flax seed is best refrigerated.
  6. Opt for White Chia and Golden Flax. The darker varieties can leave your baked goods with a pepper-flaked appearance.
  7. Some sources suggest that the refrigeration of the gel for 15 minutes is a must. Too high-maintenance and I don't notice a difference.

Monday
Oct012012

An Apology for an Oversight

This day has not gone the way I thought it would. I had a slew of chores to tackle. But they had to be dropped because …

… I slipped up … and I am so sorry.

You see, today I received a comment from Nancy on my coconut yogurt post. She wrote:

“I see the Vegan culture [Cultures for Health Vegetal] is processed in a plant with a lot of no-no's for me. I would love to try the coconut yogurt but am leery of the starter you use. Anybody have trouble with it because of cross contamination?”

I halted in my tracks. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Had I failed my readers?

Apparently so and I am profusely sorry.

It is my aim to be diligent about reading labels and recommending only products that are free of gluten, dairy, and eggs and/or any possibility of cross-contamination with gluten, dairy, and eggs.

I have spent the morning researching Nancy’s claim. And she is absolutely right.

Right there on the Vegetal Yogurt Starter label it reads:

“Produced in a facility that also manufactures wheat, soy, eggs, nuts and fish.”

How did I miss this!? I am beside myself.

But wait, it got worse!

I called Cultures for Health who referred me to their source for Vegetal. That source pointed me to the manufacturer’s spec sheet.

It’s not every day that the average consumer reads a food manufacturer’s spec sheet and had I not I wouldn't have even discovered that barley and soy are used as "fermentation nutrients" in the production of Vegetal. I take that to mean that the bacteria is fed barley and soy and that the barley and soy (and gluten in the barley) is completely consumed by the bacteria? I sure hope so.

The spec sheet goes on to say:

“Danisco [the manufacturer] has determined that fermentation nutrients [barley and soy] are outside the scope of US and EU food allergen labeling requirements. Local regulation has always to be consulted as allergen labeling requirements may vary from country to country.” 

I am not sure what THAT means and I am no food scientist (can one pipe in?), but until I can verify that this product is indeed completely “safe,” I can no longer recommend it. Fortunately we have not had any problems with it. For all I know it may be a non-issue. But I will remain on the safe side for your sake.

With all this said. I apologize once more for not doing my homework and for this oversight.

And I thank Nancy for bringing this all to our attention. I need my readers!

I will be returning to using 35-40 billion CFU's (colony forming units) of Klaire Labs Ther-Biotic Complete probiotic capsules per 2 quarts of liquid for making yogurt. The only downside with Klaire Labs is that they do not sell direct. Products are sold exclusively to healthcare professionals, authorized distributors, and patients with a physician-supplied authorization code. However, because it is impossible for me, a consumer, to oversee every step in the manufacturing process, I must leave it up to you to research and decide which yogurt culture or probiotic is safe for you and your family. I use Klaire Labs, but defer to you to find decide on which product you will choose to use.

The one tip I can provide when selecting a non-dairy yogurt starter or priobiotic capsule is to select one that includes the lactic acid-producing bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In the United States, the USDA defines "yogurt" as containing these two strains bacteria.

Thank you for being a loyal Lexie’s Kitchen reader. I made a oversight and hope you will forgive me.

I will leave the Cultures for Health shopping link on my site as some of you do not have issues with soy and gluten and/or may deem this product “safe enough” for your personal use.

Today I did not accomplish what I set out to do, but I have learned TWO great lessons:

1. Scrutinize labels—each and every time! Manufacturing processes can and do change. Ingredients and manufacturing processes used one day may not be the same the next.

2. Admit when you are wrong. The kind and understanding people will forgive knowing that you are doing your best. We all make mistakes and oversights.

xoLexie

Sources: Yo-Mix™ Vegetal 7 375 DCU Product Description www.danisco.com

Thursday
Sep272012

New Cookbook! Paleo Indulgences

All you paleo/primal peeps. Are you ready to indulge?

Want to win a copy of a great new cookbook?

Okay ... well let's get to it.

Tammy Credicott and I hung out this week to talk about her new cookbook, Paleo Indulgences. Tammy is an absolute delight! We hit it off and had a great time. I hope you will get acquainted with her via this Google Hangout on Air, over at her site, and through her cookbooks The Healthy Gluten-Free Life and Paleo Indulgences. I look forward to connecting with her again soon in another Google Hangout. We could've talked for hours!

 

And for those interested, Tammy's husband Cain is the publisher of Paleo Magazine—the first, and only, print magazine dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle. Check it out. Can't wait to receive my first issue! The Credicott's may make a convert of me yet!

Win a Copy of Paleo Indulgences!

This giveaway is now closed. Jessica (Jesswil28), you are the winner of the cookbook Paleo Indulgences. Please contact me with your shipping address.

Tammy would like to send one Lexie's Kitchen reader a signed copy of Paleo Indulgences. Enter by 4:00 pm (PST) October 2nd, 2012.

1. FOR ONE CHANCE TO WIN, leave a comment at the end of this post.

2. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

3. For a ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN, add me to your circles on Google+ (what is Google+) and leave an additional comment saying you did so.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday
Sep232012

My Cleaning Friend, My Bon Ami

For decades I used good old Comet to scrub the tub, kitchen sink, and other surfaces with stuck on crud. Then a couple years back, in my attempt to go "greener," I started using Bon Ami Powder Cleanser.

I will never go back.

You see ...

Bon Ami was a green company long before "green" became a product category. They didn’t start out striving to be green. They just started out with simple ingredients and simple processes to make products that work without dangerous chemicals, and that are biodegradable, nontoxic and hypoallergenic.

Take my favorite, Bon Ami Powder Cleanser for example. It's made of five simple ingredients.

  • Alkyl polyglucoside (glucose and fatty alcohols inherent in the natural oils of corn and coconut)
  • Feldspar
  • Limestone (calcium carbonate)
  • Soda Ash (sodium carbonate)
  • Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)

The result is a natural, effective cleaner.

How I Use Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

In our home, there are two cleaning applications where the Bon Ami Powder Cleanser really shines—in removing scorch marks from cookware (stainless and enamel-coated) and dissolving soap scum.

Cleaning Cookware

Bon Ami products will not scratch enamel-coated cookware like Le Creuset. Thanks goodness! Since I use Bon Ami on mine all the time. Bon Ami is great at removing cooked-on—even burnt-on—food from enamel cookware. But do note that over time and with lots of use, the enamel itself will start to deepen in color. The pros call it "curing," and are rather proud of it. It isn't really possible to take the enamel back to new. But that curing does not hurt future meals in any way. To remove heavy-duty messes from cookware I make a paste of water and the powder cleanser and apply a coating over the cooked-on food or scorch mark. After letting is sit for 30 minutes, I use a little elbow grease and a sponge and voila, sparkling clean!

Cleaning the Bath and Shower

Moving on to the bath and shower, I can't begin to tell you how impressed I am with how sparkling this cleanser leaves my acrylic tub and walls. I give the entire surface a quick spray down with water and then apply a thin coat of the powder cleanser with my hand. I let it sit for 15-20 minutes then wipe down—using a little elbow grease as needed. You will feel the grime release. Please note that when it it comes to shower and bath surfaces it's always best to test a small, inconspicuous place.

Use with Care on Glass

You may know the famous tagline the Bon Ami chick chirps, but not many know why she says “Hasn’t scratched, yet!” Well, just as Bon Ami won't scratch surfaces, a brand new baby chick doesn't yet scratch at the earth for the first few days of its life. Hence, Bon Ami’s promise to be tough on messes, but gentle as a baby chick.

Bon Ami has traditionally been the go-to product for cleaning glass and mirrors. And it's still safe for glass if you are absolutely certain that what you are cleaning is only glass. That's because the feldspar in Bon Ami is a softer material than the silica traditionally used to make glass.

That said, these days not all glass is only glass. Safety glass, UV coatings, tinted windows, non-shattering windshields, and other window materials are all coated with various kinds of plastic. These coatings make life safer, but they need non-abrasive cleaners. 

Lexie's Kitchen Readers Love it Too!

Now let's hear from some rockin' Lexie's Kitchen readers on how they use Bon Ami Powder Cleanser!

"I have used this product for many years and started using it to polish my stainless steel fridge, dishwasher, and wall oven. In addition, I used it to totally clean my outdoor grill. Everything always looks so beautiful, clean, and polished when I am finished using this product."

"I use it almost everywhere and my favorite natural food store now carries Bon Ami in liquid form for cleaning and washing dishes. Yeah!"

"I've been using it for oh, 30 years now because it doesn't have weird chemicals and chlorine in it. I use it everywhere in the house to scrub, including in the bathroom along with vinegar and tea tree oil."

"I love Bon Ami! I use it on my white ceramic sink. It gets out all the scuffs and stains...making it look like new. It's cheap, I can get it at Target, and it works great!"

"I use it for my sink, but just the other day I used it on the outside of my stainless steel Kitchen Aid bowl to get the hard water off!"

"Toilets, ceramic sinks, tubs, shower, glass shower door, stainless steel, and grout! Just a few places really!"

Tuesday
Sep182012

Southern Corn and Green Beans Recipe

I cherish the stories my grandparents share of the days of their childhood in North Carolina. And I especially love those revolving around food.

Recently I asked my Tutu if there was a story behind her Southern Corn and Green Beans.

"Of course," she chuckled. "I remember mother had stepped out of the kitchen and father came in to steal a peek at what was simmering on the stove. When he saw that it was corn and beans he exclaimed 'this woman just don't know how to cook beans!' and marched across the kitchen, cut a couple of slices off a hunk of back fat, and returned to throw them in the pot."

This is my Tutu's adaptation of that Corn and Green Bean recipe. She takes after her mother in that she leaves out the back fat. :) Either way, I love this dish!

Southern Corn and Green Beans

Ingredients:

2 ears fresh-picked CORN, husked
1/2 pound fresh GREEN BEANS, trimmed
1 cup CHICKEN BROTH, divided
1-2 tablespoons BUTTER SUBSTITUTE (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free), optional
2 teaspoon ARROWROOT STARCH or corn starch
SALT and PEPPER to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice corn off cobs (see top below).
  2. Cut beans French-style by slicing thinly on the diagonal (here is a video to show you how) or by using this gadget or this gadget.
  3. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup water and arrowroot starch. Set aside.
  4. Add green beans to pot along with remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. Cover and simmer until tender-crisp.
  5. Add corn kernels and simmer another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in butter substitute and arrowroot slurry. Return to simmer and cook another minut.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Notes:

  1. I make big batches of Corn and Green Beans and freeze in zip top bags for a quick weeknight side dish. Just need to reheat and done.
  2. Slicing corn off the cob is a breeze when you use a tube pan (like a bundt or angel food). Just prop the ear of corn in the tube and slice your way around. All the kernels neatly collect in the bottom of the pan.
Friday
Sep142012

Giveaway: Nourishing Meals Cookbook

***This Giveaway is Now Closed***

Congratulations to Julia M and Kelly A. You are the winners. You have been contacted. Enjoy your new book! xoLexie

If you missed the review I shared of Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre's new cookbook and guide Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family, be sure to check it out here.

This book is one of the best healthy gluten-free cookbooks I have seen in a long time.  Some of the cookbooks publishers send me to review are keepers—some not. This one definitely is a keeper. In fact, if you wanted my copy you'd have to wrestle me to the ground and tear it out of my hands (I am that way with my favorite cookbooks). So, to keep things civil, I am happy to say that I am giving away TWO *signed* copies of the book, courtesy of the authors.

***This giveaway is now closed***

Enter to Win the New Nourishing Meals Cookbook

Today through September 18, 2012 (4:00 MST) enter to win a copy of Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family. To do so:

1. Leave a comment at the end of this post.

2. For an additional chance to win, share this post with your friends on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or other social media and leave an additional comment saying you did so. Help spread the word about this great new cookbook!

 

Wednesday
Sep122012

New Cookbook! Nourishing Meals

Grind your own buckwheat (so easy) and bake up a batch of these Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls. A recipe from the new cookbook Nourishing Meals.

The long-anticipated cookbook and guide Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family has released! The super duo Alissa Segerston and husband Tom Malterre, MS, CN have teamed up again and produced a masterpiece. Seriously, a masterpiece!

I am in complete awe of this book. Tom and Ali have poured their knowledge of whole foods and talent for recipe development into a 538-page cookbook that delivers a range of recipes and flavors, and provides answers to some of our greatest diet-related questions.

Why eat whole foods?

What is a leaky gut?

What are the best foods and meals to prepare to combat specific nutritional deficiencies?

Why the recent rise in food allergies and sensitivities?

How can you best nourish your child?

I have learned so much!

Then there are the recipes—lots of them—and all made with nourishing, whole food ingredients.

This afternoon I baked a batch of Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls (pictured above, from page 140), and though my finished product wasn't as pretty as Ali's they tasted mighty good. Tender, wholesome, with a great crumb. I also made the sweet potato Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting (page 474) Ali suggested to top it with. Yep, another winner. Because orange sweet potatoes were what I had on hand, my rolls and frosting came out, shall we say, a festive Fall orange. But we didn't care, in fact the kids just each gobbled down two for an after school snack, and I'm not divulging how many I had. I think we'll have them for dinner too!

Next up:

Low Fructose Green Smoothie

Baking Powder Biscuits

Moroccan Lentil and Cabbage Soup

Kohlrabi Apple Slaw

Slow Cooked Mexican Beef Roast

Oven Roasted Pizza Sauce

Buckwheat Chia Tortillas

This book is a must-have for anyone following a gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free diet. Eggs are used (mostly in the breakfast section), however there are plenty of recipes (including pancakes) that are egg-free. Ingredients commonly used are the likes of chia seed, flax seed, buckwheat groats, rice flour, almond flour, psyllium husk, teff (and other ancient grains), and coconut oil. Sweeteners commonly used are applesauce, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.

I just can't put into words the magnificence of this book. All I can say is that I've had it for a little over a week and it's already showing signs of wear! It will be a keeper for years to come. A definite BUY!. You can pick up a copy here.

Sunday
Sep092012

Angry Birds Cake & Cupcake Toppers

Maybe you've been in these shoes of mine.

Our 4-year old has been asking me in his sweetest, most optimistic little voice ...

... every single day for the past eight weeks ...

"Today my BIRFday????"

"No, but pretty soon!" I've replied ...

...every single day for the past eight weeks!

And each time, without fail, 1) out comes his lower lip and 2) in his best whiney/demanding voice...

"my birfday TO-DAY!"

Well, I COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! I just couldn't take it.

So you know what!?

He got it.

Today he got his "birfday." We celebrated it 19 days early.

And IT'S OVER AND DONE WITH, and mom couldn't be happier.

When it comes to birthdays, my kids pick out the theme months in advance. Our little man's choice for his 5th birthday was Angry Birds. No problem! With fondant, you can create anything.

A big thank you goes out to my sister-in-law for helping me pull off a last-minute party and for making these Angry Bird cupcake toppers.

I've shared in past posts how I use fondant and food coloring for creating toppers for cakes and cupcakes. It's a fun, easy, and flexible medium to work with—we just don't eat the stuff (the combination of the corn syrup and sugar in the fondant and the artificial colors in the dyes spell one big fat tummy ache). The kids know it's "just for decoration."

Well, we had a great little party and our guy was absolutely thrilled with his cupcakes. We thought they were pretty stinkin' cute, too! So had to share them with you.

Thursday
Sep062012

What's in the Lunchbox?

This week I am contributing to the Healthy Lunchbox 2012 event over at And Love It Too. Sunny has hosted a slew of bloggers over the last weeks, each sharing their fun, creative and healthy lunchbox ideas.

So please head on over for my contribution.

I packed a couple of sample lunch boxes and shared a few of my kids' favorite lunch quesadillas.

You'll also get a peek at the home lunch "system" we use. I have finally landed on one that works for us. Roomy enough to hold a Sistema Klip It Lunch Cube, a 9-ounce LifeFactory Glass Beverage Bottle and a Kids Konserve Squiggle Sweat-Free Ice Pack (my favorite accessories) the Sugarbooger Zippee! Lunch Tote line has been a proven winner. It is BPA, phthalate, lead and PVC-free and meets or exceeds U.S., Canadian and European safety standards. They come in a bunch of cute motifs and are priced right.

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