Baked Quinoa (or Oats) with Pumpkin and Bananas (SRC)

I sure hope you aren’t tired of pumpkin yet! I have a delectable baked dish that can triple as breakfast, a quick snack or a healthy dessert…now that’s a win in my book.

baked pumpkin quinoaIt’s Secret Recipe Club time again this month, and I was assigned Laura’s darling blog, A Healthy Jalapeño. Not only does Laura have a laundry list of recipes I want to try, she seems like “my type of people”…and the way she describes herself as “having no special talents, but I am passionately curious” is one fantastic statement. I searched through multiple recipes that I debated on trying this month, but finally settled on Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Bananas. Not only is this a dish that’s appropriate for pumpkin and holiday season, I was enticed by the layered look and the combination of flavors. Prior to making this dish, I hadn’t combined pumpkin and bananas but I loved it!
baked pumpkin quinoa slice

Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I made a few changes based on preference and what I had on hand: I swapped out quick oats for quinoa flakes, used maple syrup instead of brown sugar and added maple extract to quinoa mixture. I wound up adding milk to the flakes as well because the mixture appeared to be a little dry for the middle and wanted to ensure it would cook. I also threw in 1/3 cup of pepitas in addition to walnuts (in lieu of pecans) for a little color and to play up the pumpkin flare.

I served this both warm and cold and thought it was delicious! If you don’t like it cold though, I blame it on my cold-pizza and refrigerated leftover fetish :) For a healthy dessert option, I drizzled my “yogurt glaze” over a slice to amp up the protein and to give it a more dessert-like feel.

baked pumpkin quinoa 2

Baked Quinoa with Pumpkin and Bananas (adapted from A Healthy Jalapeño)
Gluten-free, Oil-free, Dairy-free, Nut-free Option, Vegetarian, Refined Sugar-free

Ingredients
4 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2″ pieces*
1 (15 oz) can organic pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie)
1 tbsp honey
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or 2-3 tbsp coconut sugar, sucanat, or brown sugar)
1 cup uncooked quinoa flakes (or gluten free quick oats)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) – omit for nut-free and substitute more pepitas if desired
1/3 cup pepitas
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Almond milk, divided (or any milk you desire)
1 egg, whisked
1/4 – 1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Garnish and serving ideas  (optional)
a drizzle of maple syrup or honey
sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg
extra pepitas, walnuts or pecans
coconut cream
Greek yogurt
Yogurt “glaze”

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly spray a 9 x 9″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray or coconut oil (my favorite) or line with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon, honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft (I didn’t cook them until mushy though).
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the quinoa flakes (or oats), pepitas, 1 cup of milk, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt; stir together.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, maple syrup, maple extract, maple syrup/sweetener, remaining 1/2 cup of milk, egg, and vanilla extract.
5. Remove the bananas from the oven, then spread the quinoa mixture over the bananas. Next, pour the pumpkin mixture over the quinoa, spreading to make sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the the top.
6. Bake for about 32-38 minutes (mine baked for 38), or until the top is golden brown and the pumpkin and quinoa has set. Garnish with nuts/seeds/yogurt if desired and serve!

*If you aren’t a fan of bananas, try swapping out apples for a different taste.

baked pumpkin quinoa bite
For more recipes from this month’s reveal, please click here!

November 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm 7 comments

Better-for-You Butter Chicken (SRC)

Wow, I’m not sure where to start…. except thanks goodness I made it on-time for the Secret Recipe Club this month!

What follows is a “Cliff Note” recap of my recent cooking saga: I fully prepared in advance for my recipe and post, almost a week and a half to be exact. You see, my dearest friend’s birthday is in October and I wanted to make her some homemade goodies for her special day. I was assigned Asiya’s beautiful blog, Chocolate and Chillie’s, and had carefully picked out her Maple Granola to try and send as a gift to my friend.

granola homemade

iPhone photo…the only photo I have left!

1. I made the two batches of granola (Maple Granola pictured on the left)
2. I decorated cute little jars and personalized them
3. Staged and took the photos of the granola
4. Shipped the gift (I ate the small remainder of both after photographing and filling the jars…meaning I have no leftovers!)
5. Uploaded the photos….OOPS…I received an ERROR CODE when trying to upload and all of a sudden they were erased from my camera completely. This has never happened before so I was left with no photos to post and no more granola to re-shoot.
6. Freak out mode sets in…ahhhh I dont have photos for the Secret Recipe Club post in two days!
7. Quickly find another recipe that I can whip up with ingredients I had on hand—BUTTER CHICKEN, take photos and write up a new posting
8. Breathe, relax….I made it!

butter chicken2

With very little time to spare, I wound up making Asiya’s Low-fat Butter Chicken and it was scrumptious! I decided to experiment with a dairy-free option and changed up a few things based on what I had in my pantry and fridge. I increased the amount of ginger-garlic paste, used dried ground fenugreek seeds in place of the kasuri methi, and swapped out coconut sugar for regular white sugar. I typically use coconut oil as my cooking oil (just my preference) but any neutral oil can be used in it’s place. I also opted to add in a squeeze of lemon juice for a little more acidity, puree the sauce and sprinkle the finishing product with coarsely ground black pepper, mmmm.

I’d say that having to make two recipes this month for the Secret Recipe Club turned out to be a win-win situation :) I will be making this chicken again and again!

butter chicken1

Better-for-You Butter Chicken (adapted from Asiya’s recipe)
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free option, Soy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free option

Ingredients

For the Chicken Tikka:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts)
1 cup yogurt (can use plain dairy-free options such as coconut milk yogurt etc if needed)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp tandoori masala powder
1 tsp kasuri methi or 1/2 tsp  ground dried fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp canola oil, coconut oil or other neutral oil

For the Butter Sauce:
2 tbsp coconut oil, canola oil or other neutral oil
one medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp almond flour (if needed to be nut-free, you can omit)
1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp kasuri methi or 1/2 tsp dried ground fenugreek seeds
1/8 tsp sea salt or to taste
2 tsp coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
1/4 cup coconut milk, or greek yogurt or  low-fat sour cream (use coconut milk for dairy-free)
1 tbsp butter, ghee, Earth Balance (use Earth Balance for dairy-free)
squeeze of lemon juice, optional but I like the acidity

Directions

For the Chicken Tikka:

1. In a small bowl mix together cumin, garam masala, salt, cayenne pepper, tandoori masala and fenugreek/kasuri methi.  Rub on both sides of the chicken and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes.

2. Line a pan with parchment or foil.  In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil and ginger garlic paste.  Dip each chicken breast into the yogurt mixture.  Coat well.  Lay on prepared pan.

3. Heat oven to broil and cookl 10-18 minutes or until cooked through (depending on thickness of chicken), flipping them over halfway through.  When cooked through, let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then cut into 1 inch cubes.

For the Butter Sauce:
1. Heat the oil a medium sauté pan.  Saute onions until soft and translucent.  Add ginger-garlic paste and stir for about 1 minute.

2. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the coconut milk/ yogurt/sour cream and butter.  Cook on medium heat until thick.

3. Puree sauce in a blender (careful it’s hot!) and return to the pan. If you prefer a more chunky sauce, opt out of this step.

4. Add yogurt.coconut milk/sour cream and butter/Earth Balance.  Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.  If you prefer a thinner sauce, add a bit more coconut milk if you would like to thin it out.

5. Add the chicken and simmer for a few more minutes until heated through.  Serve hot with rice or cooked grain of choice and enjoy!

*Note:  If you would like a smooth sauce, puree the onions after they become translucent and then return to the pan.  Puree the tomatoes before adding.
butter chickenFor more recipes from this month’s reveal, click the link below!

October 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm 9 comments

Lightened-up Orange Chicken and a Cooking Technique (SRC)

Orange Chicken (or Beef) is a popular Chinese dish that I don’t usually get to order when eating out. I tend to miss out on the traditional stir-fries and specialties because I ask them to “leave off the sauce” because they typically contain gluten. When I’m in the driver’s seat in my kitchen though, I prefer to prepare dishes that are “off limits” when eating out to jazz up my menu choices…plus, then I won’t feel deprived!

orange chicken 1When I was assigned Karen’s Kitchen Stories this month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was drooling over all her homemade bread recipes… but I admit, I was intimidated to try and de-glutenize them while staying true to the original recipe. After reading that Karen participates in Wok Wednesdays, I was sold on both her Velvet Chicken and Orange Chicken recipes! I’ve always been intrigued with the way Chinese restaurants prepare their meats, I never could achieve the same texture or tenderness when using a wok…until now!

I opted to cook an un-fried version of Orange Chicken to lighten up the dish a bit (you know, so I could have more of it!). Taking cues from Karen’s Velvet Chicken post, I used the water velveting technique instead of the oil one…. woohoo! The result was very tender chicken! Turns out you can also prepare other proteins in the same way — beef, pork, shrimp — so I will have to try my hand at that soon.

orange chicken 2

I made a few adjustments to the orange sauce by subbing coconut aminos for the soy sauce, adding a bit of ginger, using honey instead of brown sugar and using crushed red pepper flakes in place of the cayenne. I also chose to use coconut oil for sauteeing and tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, but either works in this dish! I served the chicken with brown rice sprinkled with green onion and sauteed broccoli, carrots and onions — a balanced, healthy and yummy meal!

Lightened up Orange Chicken (adapted from Karen’s recipe)
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

For the Chicken

1 T coconut aminos (or tamari or gluten free soy sauce)
1 T rice vinegar (or dry sherry)
2 large egg whites
1 Tbsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
1 Tbsp canola oil or other neutral oil
 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (can use thighs or even beef, pork or shrimp)
For the Orange Sauce
1/3 C orange juice
1/4 C chicken broth or stock
1 T apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
1 1/2 T coconut aminos, tamari or gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T honey (or other sweetener) – increase by a couple tablespoons if you prefer a sweeter sauce
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

Sauce Preparation

1 tsp oil for sauteeing (I used coconut oil)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp tapioca starch (or 1 tsp cornstarch) dissolved in 1 T water or broth

Chicken Preparation

2 tbsp coconut oil, divided (or other oil)
For serving (optional) 
Cooked brown or white rice, or quinoa
Sauteed veggies

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, marinate the chicken in the combined soy sauce, vinegar, oil, starch and egg whites for about 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl, whisk and set aside.
  3. Saute the garlic and ginger in 1 tsp of oil in a saucepan for about a minute until fragrant, add the above sauce, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the starch/water mixture and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm.
  4. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring one quart of water and 1 tbsp oil to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken to the simmering water, stirring to prevent the pieces of chicken from clumping together. Cook until the chicken is opaque, but not cooked through, about 1 minute. Drain the chicken in a colander
  5. In a wok or large sauce pan over high heat, swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok. Add the chicken and saute for three minutes or until cooked through. Re-stir the sauce mixture and pour half over the chicken. Stir fry, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Toss with remaining sauce.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed rice/quinoa and sauteed veggies if desired!
orange chicken 3
For other recipes in this month’s reveal, click here!

September 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm 9 comments

White Turkey Chili

Yes, yes…YES! Fall is here! The breeze is cool, the morning air is crisp and I was able to break out a jacket this week! With Fall being my absolute favorite time of year, I was ready to jump in the kitchen and whip up some “comfort food”.

white turkey chili 1

Warming you to the core, this white turkey chili is packed with flavor, a bit of heat (if desired). protein and fiber. I garnished my bowl with a large scoop of guacamole, baby spinach (for some extra greens), and a squeeze of lime juice…and I was cuddled up on the couch with a huge grin on my face. Needless to say, I am quite the happy camper :)

Here’s to soup season!

Feel free to garnish your bowl with shredded cheese and/or sour cream/Greek yogurt (if you are not dairy-free), or crush a few tortilla chips over your dish for a little crunch if that makes you happy! This chili keeps well and would be a delicious option for get togethers or Monday night football.

white turkey chili 3

White Turkey Chili 
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Soy-free, Corn-free, Dairy-free

Ingredients

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or ghee (use oil for dairy free)
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey (beef or chicken or cubed chicken breast can be subbed)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 anaheim or poblano peppers, deveined, deseeded and diced
1 jalapeño, deveined, deseeded and diced
2-3 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp fajita seasoning
2 Tbsp coconut flour (or other gluten-free flour like arrowroot to help thicken broth)
2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth or stock
4 oz diced green chilis (I used canned)
16 oz sliced mushrooms
2 cups cooked white navy or cannelini beans (if using canned, rinse well and drain)
juice from 1 lime + more for serving
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1-2 tsp hot sauce or 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper to taste (only if you prefer a little kick)
sea salt and pepper to taste

diced avocado or guacamole for serving
leafy greens for wilting (optional) – spinach, kale, collards
shredded cheese (optional, omit for dairy-free)

Directions 

1. In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil/butter over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook for 5-7 minutes until starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
2. Add onions, garlic, both peppers and seasonings to the pan and cook until onions are soft, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes.
3. Add coconut flour and stir to coat vegetables and meat.
4. Pour in the chicken broth and then add in the mushrooms, green chilis and beans and stir. Let cook for 5 minutes until mushrooms start to cook through.
5. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Let cook for an additional couple minutes. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce/cayenne (if using) to taste.
6. If adding greens, place in soup pot and let cook for until wilted (2 minutes for spinach, 5-7 for more hearty greens).
7. Serve in bowls and garnish with guacamole or avocado, a squeeze of lime and/or shredded cheese or crushed chips. Enjoy!

Serves about 4-6

white turkey chili bite

September 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm 1 comment

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