Aug 28, 2017

Gluten Free Falafels


We absolutely love falafels!  Whenever my daughter and I go out to eat Meditarranean food we aim to find gluten free falafels, however, this is not an easy task. Many restaurants use flour as a binder. I have been trying to make these delicious little balls of chick peas and spice for some time now.  This is probably my fifth time trying and finally I got it right!

The problem I had was getting the right texture so that they do not fall apart when you cook them.  I also wanted to make them light so my goal was to bake them.  However,  no matter how many times I tried they were just super dry.  I mean they were edible but that's not enough for me.

  

I like the WOW factor! If I can't eat them and then want to stick a piece in everyone's mouth around me for them to taste, then I won't post it.  After several attempts, I have decided that baking them just didn't do it for me.  So I decided to use some canola oil and pan fry them.  Using the oil increased the smart points but they are so worth it.  
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Also,  I made these falafels from dried chick peas not canned.  They are so much better and so much tastier when they are made fresh.  I cooked the chick peas in the pressure cooker for 50 minutes.  As you can see from above, the end result was dough like.  The reason for this is simple.  If you are going to deep fry the falafels then you would not cook the chick peas all the way through, but if you are baking or pan frying them you have to cook it through or it will taste like you're eating sand.  This makes a lot of falafels, 42 balls to be exact.  So unless you're having a party, you may want to freeze half.  I gave my half to my daughter, since she lives on her own now.  She deep fried them and could not stop talking about them.



So I cooked them in the pressure cooker, drained the water, added all of the ingredients except for the egg and sesame seeds (I added after) and pulsed it the food processor in batches. When it was done, I added the egg and sesame seeds. I then split the dough in half, gave one half to my daughter and rolled the other half in my hands, into 21 little balls (a little over an ounce). I froze them for 10 minutes.  Lastly, split that into 2 batches and in a non stick pan I added one tbsp of canola oil and pan fried till brown.  So, I cooked each batch (aprox 10 balls) in one tbsp of oil.



So obviously, if you want to keep the calories down you would eat this in a salad right?  Hell to the NO!!  Not when I have a batch of Naan dough in my refrigerator and some fresh tzatziki sauce!  I would rather skip a meal and eat all of my calories here!


Actually,  the total points for this meal is 11 smart points. Which is very fair for dinner.  I calculated 5 points for three falafel balls, 4 points for the Naan, 1 point for 2 tbsp of tzatziki sauce and 1 point for 1/2 tsp of olive oil my salad.   This was filling and I wouldn't have had it any other way, on that day.  However,  that being said there are days where my focus is on point and the salad and the falafels, topped with tzatziki sauce would be perfect! just not on this day 😜😝

Aug 24, 2017

Tzatziki Sauce





I really don't think this sauce needs an introduction except to say that it is a lighter version of my favorite sauce.  Its the perfect addition to almost anything.  I top my falafels, my salmon and even my chicken with this.  It will elevate any dish,  Add a little hot sauce and yum, yum, yum is all I could say πŸ˜‹



Jul 15, 2017

Grilled Indian Inspired Spicy Cauliflower and Chickpeas




This gluten free, vegetarian dish is probably the best cauliflower I have ever made.  Did you know that besides chickpeas being high in protein and fiber there are also many other nutritional benefits? Chickpeas contains what's called resistant starch.  That's a starch that isn't fully broken down and absorbed.  This is a good thing for many reasons such as: stimulating blood flow in the colon, increasing nutrient circulation and helping to prevent us from absorbing toxic/carcinogenic compounds. But, also the rate of digestion changes absorption, increasing satiety, which means it keeps us full longer.  



I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture but I marinated the cauliflower in a yogurt sauce with Indian spices.  When I originally made this dish, I was thinking I could have this like a taco: a meatless taco of course. I was going to make my Naan bread but make the bread thinner and rounder so it would be taco like.  However,  as I was making it some unexpected company showed up and so this was served up with some grilled salmon kebobs instead.




I cooked the cauliflower and the chickpeas separately and made a side of mango slaw which would have been the topping on the taco. You don't have to make this cauliflower with the chickpeas, you can have the cauliflower by itself or as a side dish.  I forgot to take a picture of the grilled chickpeas after it was done cooking. You can make them as soft or as crispy as you like.

Jul 6, 2017

Banana Bread


The one thing that I can promise you is that I would NEVER post a recipe that is not as perfect as it can be.  This gluten free banana bread is absolutely perfect!  I dare anyone guess that this is gluten free. I drizzled it with chocolate because I love the combination of chocolate and banana but you really don't need it.  The picture has extra chocolate because I made a mess drizzling it and attempted to fix it by adding more. It is delicious without the chocolate, especially with a cup of coffee...yummmm




I tried this recipe at least 3 times and in my previous attempts the loafs were too dense. This is delicious and moist the way a banana bread should be. I made 3 mini loafs but you could totally make these into muffins.  This would make exactly 12 muffins since there is one cup of batter per loaf which would be 1/4 cup of batter per muffin. I like the mini loafs because you can freeze two of them until you are ready to eat them. 



So because my first two tries were unsuccessful, I will tell you what I did differently.  First, whisk the wet ingredients well but once you add the dry ingredients, do not over mix, don't even use a whisk, just use a rubber spatula to mix.  Also, I originally used the refrigerated buttermilk but maybe I used too much.  I went with the powdered buttermilk and it was perfect.  Lastly, do not over bake!  Cook for no more then 25 minutes.   

Jul 3, 2017

Puerto Rican Pinchos/ Beef Kebobs


In Puerto Ricao we call these Pinchos, which is Spanish for "spikes" and they are commonly sold off the side of the roads or in kioskos, which are like makeshift kiosks.   These are basically beef kebobs but using traditional Spanish seasonings. They are definitely better marinated overnight.




These Pinchos are usually served with a piece of bread on top.  I serve them hot off the grill with just a little hot sauce.  I always make larger amounts of meats because it's easier for food prepping.  Usually I will only cook what I need and freeze the rest.  The flavor only gets better and it's less work to do during the work week.  I don't like BBQ sauce, never did but Pinchos are usually topped with BBQ sauce and hot sauce.  I like to use the same marinade to make a sauce. Once you skewer the beef, set the marinade to the side.  In a small pan, heat the marinade, you can add a little beef stock or water to make sure you get it all off the pan, add 2 tbsp of raw honey, 2 tsp olive oil and a little hot sauce and simmer about 8 min. Brush the meat with this in the last 1-2 minutes of cooking.  

 

Most Latin people like their meat well done. I know for most of you this is unheard of but that's how most of us grew up eating meat.  I like it medium, with just a touch of pink but not bleeding.  So timing on these Pinchos will vary for all of us.  I cooked mine for a total of 7 min.  I cooked each side for 3 min and then used my marinade and turned it to the sides for an extra minute.  I also used metal skewers, but if you like yours medium rare you should probably use the wooden skewers (soak them in water for 30 min first) because the metal will heat the core more than you would want.  My pictures show 2 servings on each skewer.  There is about 8 oz on one skewer.        

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, Camarones Coctel


Looking for an amazing gluten free, 4th of July appetizer to impress your guest? Inspired by a small hole in the wall Mexican spot in Elmhurst Queens that doesn't even have a sign on the outside.  They make these amazing shrimp cocktails in 3 different sizes; small, medium and large.  They are loaded with shrimps, drowned in their homemade sauce (which they are very secretive about), olive oil, clam juice, white onions, cilantro, avocado and finally hot sauce! It was amazing!! and it was so loaded with shrimps that I didn't even need a side.  

  

The sauce is EVERYTHING in this dish.  Since the Mexican spot was not about to up their secret recipe I decided I was gonna give it a shot and make it myself.  I played with it the different ingredients that is used in any cocktail sauce until I got the flavor that I desired.  I think it's perfect! the only thing I might have done differently is use a little fresh horseradish and bought larger shrimps.




These little cups dress any table up and make you look like a superstar! The sauce is amazing! did I say that already?  Let me say it again, AMAZING!  It's like a cross between a shrimp cocktail and a gazpacho soup!  I have to say I have never been interested in making a gazpacho soup because cold soup has NEVER appealed to me until now.  I drank that sauce like I was drinking a Bloody Mary😜



I made this dish really quickly.  I wanted to bring it to a BBQ I was going to and didn't make the sauce the day before (which is probably the best way) but I made it work.  I grilled the shrimps on the grill because I just didn't feel like using the stove since it was so hot out, but you can just as easily boil the shrimps and make it more of a traditional cocktail.  I also, used fresh tomatoes and grilled those as well to give the sauce more depth.  Look at that cup! Fancy, smancy right??!! lol These could be made as large or small as you want. I made 8 cups with 6 shrimps,  the pictures have larger cups so I used more shrimp.  Also, I used about 1/2 cup sauce in each cup but the measurements I give you made 6.5 cups of sauce.  I plan on making the dish again on the 4th of July so I don't need to make more sauce.  Lastly,  I used Sir Kensington's ketchup because regular ketchup has high fructose corn syrup and I didn't want that in my recipe.

Jun 29, 2017

BBQ Honey Lime Boneless Chicken Thighs



There is nothing like grilled anything in the summer! These gluten free chicken thighs are so scrumptious it was hard to stop at two. You can eat them as they are or even shred them and make tacos, chicken salad or even enchiladas. I ate them with a side salad and asparagus.



They taste best marinated overnight but if you're in a rush, marinate for at least 1-3 hours to let the flavors bind. I added the pique, which means hot sauce, for an extra kick but you don't have to.

Jun 22, 2017

Summer Berry Cake



Sponge like gluten free cake with blueberries and raspberries....yummmy!!! This is a perfect desert for your 4th of July BBQ. I wanted to top them with coconut cream to complete the red, white and blue but I forgot to refrigerate the can, and you have to refrigerate the can to get a cool whip texture.  I thought about taking the pics the following day but I knew they wouldn't go the night without being eaten 😜



I made a smaller portion just in case the recipe didn't work, because as I said in previous posts, I am not a baker.  It is all trial and error but there was no error in these little babies! πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‹ I was going to  make them as muffins but I wanted to try my new little springform pans.  I think the only thing I would've done differently was add more fruit.  This would make 6 muffins if you made them in muffin tins. It was a little less then 3/4 cup in these small springform pans. So a serving is 1/3 of these.

Jun 19, 2017

Enchilada Sauce



This is my favorite sauce because it's so versatile and naturally gluten free! You can use this to make anything: dips for the tortillas, Casseroles, Enchiladas or tacos.  This sauce is awesome alone or as a part of any dish.  Best of all you can double this and freeze some for future recipes.

Jun 17, 2017

Southwestern Quinoa Platter with Shrimp



If you are planning a Father's Day BBQ this is the dish to bring! Quinoa is a very versatile gluten free complete protein rich grain, complete meaning it has all nine essential amino acids with twice as much fiber as most grains. It is hailed as the super grain and interestingly enough I didn't even know what quinoa was up until about six years ago when my Bolivian friend introduced me to it and now I can't get enough of it.  Quinoa is not a staple for Puerto Ricans so it took us some time to even learn the proper pronunciation!  



When I first brought this dish to a family BBQ, there were a lot of questions  The first question was what the hell is this? and where the F&#%@ is the rice???? We take our rice very seriously! Luckily, I had arranged for my aunt to bring the rice so the natives calmed down. I watched to see who would be the first to eat it.  Everyone put a little taste on their plate but it was obvious they were really leery of this new character on the table.  But, by the end of the BBQ it was clear who the winner of this battle was........MY Quinoa Platter!! Unbelievable, but yes the quinoa platter was almost gone and the rice tray was still half full. Now I am tasked to bring this at almost every event! Success! and now we all love the super grain, even my not so healthy eaters!!  


I shouldn't be that surprised considering all the delicious ingredients that go into this dish.  Look at how pretty that looks!  But as I said, Puerto Ricans take their rice very seriously.  So this is a great way to convert your family to a healthy lifestyle, especially our diabetics.  This is a much healthier option then rice.

  

I don't always use shrimp for this dish.  It's expensive to buy enough shrimp to accommadate the amount of quinoa in this dish.  I usually make just the quinoa if it is a side dish.  However,  this is never my side dish, I add the shrimp when I want to make it a complete meal.  If you are taking this to a family BBQ just omit the shrimp since there will be many other sides to choose from.   

Jun 6, 2017

Grilled Ratatouille (Vegetables)


Ok so usually I make the meat the center of attention in all of my meals but this dish is clearly the star of the show.  I have been working hard to make my veggies so good that I won't miss the carbs and boy oh boy did this dish rise to the occasion.


Just look at all of the vibrant colors! It's funny but while I was grilling the veggies I smelled pizza.  It's interesting how certain aromas can trick your brain or bring you back to a distant memory.  It seems cruel but whatever I still didn't miss the carbs!  This is a great dish!  It looks like a lot but it actually made 6 full cups after it was grilled.
 


I grilled them in two batches on a copper infused grill mat called Yoshi sheet that is designed to go on the grill and it was awesome! I am excited to try cooking fish on it.  

Jun 5, 2017

Mediterranean Chicken Kebobs



These Kebobs were marinated in a delicious yogurt sauce and were spectacular! My co-worker is from Armenia and she gave me this delicious gluten free recipe.  I modified it a bit to make it lower in fat but the results are still fabulous.  I wanted to food prep for myself and my family and decided to try this. It's a large amount of chicken but no reason you can't modify it and make half. I cooked half of the chicken and froze the rest.



I marinated the chicken overnight and cooked it the next day, anything more then that will cause the chicken to be mushy.  This was probably the best kebobs I have ever had.  I didn't make a sauce but I think a tzatziki sauce would be nice as well.  The red onions and different colored peppers were a great addition.  I ate this with a salad but my son had it with Jasmine rice.


I packed the chicken in different sized containers since my goal is to lose weight and my children are trying to gain weight.  So I made 4 oz containers for myself and 6 oz containers for my kids. If you were packing with the goal of losing weight this would make 8 four ounce servings.




May 14, 2017

Green Eggs and Ham



Made these perfect little gluten free, dairy free breakfast muffins on a whim.  I had some dough left over from my Naan recipe and used it for this quick and easy egg muffin and it was perfect! Perfect Mother's Day breakfast and only 4 Smart Points for one muffin so I ate two! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ Something about ham and eggs that just makes any breakfast whole, then add some avocado to that and it's like a perfect marriage! 


I loved these and and so did my family. I will definitely use them for food planning because they heated nicely even after two days.  I know most of us don't have the time to make breakfast in the morning and this is the perfect solution.  Best grab and go breakfast ever!



I didn't add any cheese to this muffin but you can if you wanted too.  I thought they were perfect as is and I hope you do too!  I used half the size of the dough that the Naan bread recipe required.  For the Naan, I used a 1.4oz ball of dough per Naan, for this recipe it was only .7oz for the ball of dough.    

May 12, 2017

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Naan Flatbread


If you want to see tears of joy on your gluten free mama's face on Mother's Day, make these delicious little flat breads!! I swear if I didn't know how to cook and someone made these for me I would cry! That's how yummy they are!  Did I mention they are also dairy free! I have been trying to make these for quite some time and have tried many different flours.  These are by far the best I have made and so worthy of being posted. 


I have tried several different white rice flours. My absolute favorite white rice flour was one I found in Home Goods.  Unfortunately, I threw the empty bag away and forgot to take a picture of it. I am hoping to find it again.  In any event, the one thing I did learn from this experience is that not all white flours are created equal and each of them had different amounts of liquid to flour ratio.  So when you make this recipe use Bob's Red Mill if you want it to work.  I tried Arrowhead Mills but I found it to be too gritty.     


I ate these plain but I served them with a side of garlic rosemary oil for my family.  The oil definitely kicked the flavor up a few notches but if you're counting points leave it out, they are great on their own. 


The dough is light and billowy. The best way to make them is using plastic wrap and an empanada press.  I rolled the dough into cigars, pressed them and then rolled them down a bit with the rolling pin. This recipe comes together really easy.


I tried baking them too.  However, they come out best on the cast iron pan, cause you get the nice charred crust.  



I absolutely love the texture and the bite on these Naans and they are so easy to make, you'll never want a store bought packaged one again! I also made them larger and used them like a wrap/pita bread for falafals, recipe coming!

May 7, 2017

Baked Garlic Yuca Tots



Remember when I made the Yuca Empanadas, I told you to to save some of the yuca flour you grated for future recipes? well this is one of the recipes I made with my leftover yuca flour. These were pretty easy and really good. 


I went to a place in Florida called Funky Buddha where they had these amazing fried yuca garlic tots. I ate them and was sick for 3 days! They said they were gluten free but I'm pretty sure they shared a fryer with some breaded stuff πŸ˜–πŸ˜§ the struggle is real! So this is my lightened up version.




I used my avocado dressing for these but you could really use just ketchup.  This is a quick and easy side dish for any meal.  I didn't make a lot because I was just testing the recipe, they were gone before I could even serve them up!