Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grilled Veggie Burritos: How to Cook for a Carnivore and Vegetarian in the Same Meal

People often ask my husband how he "survives" being married to a vegetarian.  He's a big meat eater, and I think that everyone is under the impression that I force-feed him tofu and wimpy iceberg salads 7 days a week.  Well, fear not:  he visits the butcher about once a month to stock up on all of his favorite meat lover's treats.  We work it out so that the meals we prepare can be served veg style or in a more carnivorous fashion.  Last night, for example, we had friends over and we prepared shish kabobs.  Some skewers were exclusively vegetables, and others were loaded with marinated chicken and pork.  Tonight for dinner, I used our leftovers to make myself a delicious vegetarian burrito bowl, and packed a tortilla full of the same ingredients for him - adding some pork and chicken.  We were both quite happy with the results.



1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried minced onion
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Several dashes of chili oil
Your favorite burrito toppings.  I like farmer's cheese, greek yogurt, and sometimes lettuce
Grilled vegetables (and meat!) of your choice*

*Here, I used red peppers, yellow peppers, onion, zucchini, button mushrooms, and  red onion

1.  Chop vegetables and cook on skewers using a charcoal or gas grill.  If they were grilled previously, reheat them in the oven while making the rest of the recipe.  If you're experiencing cold weather right now, you can still grill!  We like to enjoy grilled foods year round.  I have to admit, though, that my husband is the one who braves the cold to operate the grill in frigid temps.

2.  Heat oil in pan, then add garlic.  Saute until garlic begins to turn a light golden brown color.

3.  Quickly stir in chili powder, cumin, and minced onion.  I like to have my spices pre-measured in a small prep bowl nearby, so I can just pour them all in at once without having to stop to measure each one individually.

4.  Add rice, beans, and tomatoes.  Cook on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.  Add sea salt, pepper, and chili oil to taste.  (I like a lot of salt, so I won't embarrass myself by including the actual measurement I use...) :)

6.  Spoon mixture into a bowl or tortilla.  I choose to eat my burritos in bowls most of the time, since most grocery store tortillas contain processed ingredients.  It's always a treat, though, when we have sprouted grain tortillas on hand so I can enjoy a more traditional burrito.

7.  Add toppings of your choice:  cheese, greek yogurt (my sour cream substitute), lettuce, etc.  Add grilled veggies and meat.

8. Enjoy!
Heat oil in pan, add garlic and saute until golden brown.  Quickly add spices and stir.
Add rice, beans, and tomatoes.
Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
Add sea salt, pepper, and chili oil to taste.
Spoon mixture into a bowl.  Top with your favorite burrito fixings and finish with grilled vegetables.

Meat Lover's Alternative:  Add grilled chicken or pork.  If you don't mind eating some not-very-highly-processed-food:  Wrap it all up in a delicious flour tortilla and serve with chips and salsa.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vanilla Hazelnut Granola

 Most people feel they're doing something great for their bodies when they eat granola cereal.  For the most part, this is true.  Granola contains whole grains, fiber, and protein.  Still, many store-bought granola cereals also contain high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and other strange ingredients such as BHT and guar gum (?).  Because of this, I like to make my own granola.  I've actually been trying out granola recipes for over 10 years now, and this is the end result:  a little of this and a little of that from each recipe I've sampled over the years.  I love it, and I hope you do, too!


3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (or nut of your choice)
1/4-1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger*
1/2 tsp. nutmeg*
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. pure Mexican vanilla
4 tbsp. coconut oil (or butter)

*Ginger has long been known to help settle upset stomachs.  I used to chew on candied ginger to help with my stomach problems before I started this diet, and I've heard from some women that it can help keep morning sickness at bay when pregnant.

*Did you know that nutmeg is an anti-inflammatory?  It can actually help regulate your GI tract, and it also has anti-bacterial properties.

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

2.  Add BOWL A ingredients to a large mixing bowl.  Stir until combined.

3.  Pour ingredients into greased baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Meanwhile, combine ingredients for BOWL B and pour into a small pan on stovetop.  Heat on medium, stirring constantly until coconut oil is melted and all ingredients are combined.

4.  Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Pour liquid ingredients (BOWL B) over dry ingredients (BOWL A).  Stir to combine.  Use a spoon to press granola into baking dish.

5.  Bake about 10 minutes, then remove and stir.  Use spoon to press granola into baking dish.  Bake another 5-10 minutes, until oats are crisp and golden.

6.  Set on cooling rack until baking dish is cool enough to touch.  Use a spatula to scrape granola from bottom and sides of dish.  This is important!  Don't let your granola cool completely before you attempt to scrape it - it will turn into a rock hard mess.  Trust me, I know... : )

7.  Enjoy!  I like to eat my granola as a cereal; but it also works as a trail mix, an ice cream topping, or an addition to some oven-baked fruit.

Gather Ingredients.

Combine BOWL A ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Pour ingredients into a greased pan and bake for 25 min, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, heat BOWL B ingredients on stove over medium heat until coconut oil is completely melted.  Stir constantly.

Pour BOWL B ingredients over BOWL A ingredients and stir to combine.  Press into pan using a spoon.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stir, and press into pan again.

Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until oats are crisp and golden brown.

Scrape from pan before granola has completely cooled, but when pan is cool enough to touch.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hearty Banana Coconut Pancakes

Aaaahhh... breakfast.  I really think it's my favorite meal of the day.  When my brother and I were kids, my mom would sometimes serve us "breakfast for dinner" if my dad was working late (he wasn't a big fan of pancakes and waffles at 6pm).  I LOVED these meals, and still eat breakfast for dinner myself when my husband is working late (sadly, he is also not a fan of the post-meridian breakfast).  Once I switched to a whole foods diet, I missed my beloved pancakes.  I just couldn't figure out how to make them work without using highly processed flour.  Then, I recently found this recipe, which uses oatmeal to lend some heft to rice flour pancakes.  I played around with it a little, adapted some ingredients to better fit my diet, and ... voila!

(adapted from Bob's Red Mill Rice Flour and Oat Pancakes)


BOWL #1 - 2 large egg whites

BOWL #2 - 1/4 c. ground rice flour
                    2 tsp. baking powder
                    1 tsp. baking soda
                    1 1/2 tsp. organic sucanat* (or other sweetener)
                    1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
                    1 c. oats
                    1/4 tsp. sea salt

BOWL #3 - 1/4 c. melted coconut oil
                    1 3/4 c. milk of your choice (dairy or non-dairy)
                    2 egg yolks
                    1 tbsp. Mexican vanilla

EXTRAS - 1 large banana, thinly sliced (I like to use a slightly overripe banana)
                  coconut oil or olive oil to grease pan
                  100% maple syrup

*Sucanat is an alternative to highly processed sugar that can be used in cooking and baking.  It isn't stripped of valuable vitamins and minerals like regular white sugar, so it's much better for you.  Check here to find out more about sucanat.

1.  BOWL #1:  Use a whisk to beat egg whites until they have a light, foamy consistency.  Set aside.

2.  BOWL #2:  Mix all ingredients with a spoon.  Set aside.

3.  BOWL #3: Use a whisk to whip together all ingredients.

4.  Add contents of bowl #3 to bowl #2.  Mix well, then let stand for 5 minutes.  Fold in half the contents of bowl #1, then fold in the other half.

5.  Pour batter into an oiled, medium hot griddle.  Top with banana slices.

6.  Spoon a small amount of batter on top of each banana slice.  Check pancakes while cooking, and flip when bottom is golden brown.

7.  Serve topped with 100% maple syrup.  Yes, it's much more expensive than the "syrup" with "natural and artificial flavors" you can get in grocery stores, but it's much better for you, and it tastes AMAZING!  : )

***UPDATE:  I just tried something a little different with this recipe, and I loved it:  In Step 4, blend the contents of the two bowls together in a food processor, adding 1/2 - 1 ripe banana.  This makes the pancakes very moist and a little sweeter, and it brings out the banana flavor even more.  I still added bananas to the top of each pancake, too.  ***

Gather Ingredients.

1.  Beat egg whites. Set aside.

2.  (not pictured)  Stir dry ingredients together; set aside.  3.  Whip together wet ingredients.  

4.  Mix contents of bowls #2 and #3.  Let stand 5 min.  Fold in egg whites.
5.  Pour batter into a medium hot pan and top with banana slices.

6.  Spoon a small amount of batter on top of each banana slice.

7.  Serve topped with 100% real maple syrup.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

DIY Natural Home Fragrance

 I have to admit... even though I'm very aware of what I put into my body, I'm not always as conscious of what I surround myself with.  I know that there are a lot of very good reasons why I shouldn't use chemical-laden cleaning products, scented candles, and plug-in air fresheners; but they just smell so darn GOOD I can't give them up!  I'll go through phases where I clean with baking soda, vinegar, etc... but I always end up going back to the cleaning products I love (to smell) so much.  For some reason, the house just seems a lot cleaner to me when it carries the scent of lemons or pine.  Or soap.  Or even bleach.  : )

That's why I was so excited when I saw this post on The Yummy Life blog.  Monica writes about how to scent your home naturally, with ingredients you can find in and around your house.  Five minutes after reading, I had one of her recipes simmering on my stove.  She didn't specify measurements for each ingredient so I just winged it, and the results are HEAVENLY!

She listed five different scent recipes, but I chose to start with this one for several reasons.  The most important of these reasons is that it combines three of my absolute favorite scents:

Rosemary.  Honestly, I love this stuff.  I grow it in the garden every year, and don't actually cook with it all that often.  I just like to run my fingers over the leaves to release the scent as I walk by.

...with lemon...

...and vanilla.  Monica wrote that this combination is close to the scent found simmering
in most Williams-Sonoma stores.
 This last photo somewhat shows the amount I used of each ingredient.  I ended up with a medium-sized handful of fresh-cut rosemary, one whole sliced lemon, and a tablespoon of vanilla.  I just plopped them in a pot, added enough water to cover everything, and brought it to a boil.  I then reduced it to a very low simmer, and since then my house just keeps smelling better and better!
This potful of ingredients has been enough to bring fragrance to my kitchen, living/dining room, 3 small bedrooms, and bathroom.  Mind you, we have a small house so these rooms are pretty tiny.  I can even detect a faint scent when I walk down the stairs to our basement.
When my husband came home from work today, he said, "Wow... what smells so good?"  He's never made that comment about a candle or a new bathroom spray, so I think this just might be the better option.  : )

UPDATE:  I tried a new combination today, and it's just lovely.  I used fresh lavender, vanilla, and a few orange slices (not an entire orange).  It's simmering on the stove now, and our house smells amazing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Almond Pesto Margarita Pizza

WARNING:  THIS IS NOT A RECIPE!!'s more like assembly instructions.  Still, it's very worth your time.  : )

I LOVE Margarita Pizza!  The combination of fresh garden basil,  flavorful tomatoes, and slightly browned fresh mozzarella just gets me every time.  I've been searching for quite some time for a good whole foods pizza dough recipe, and I recently found a great rice flour pizza crust recipe on   I may make a few changes the next time I make it, but it turned out pretty well this first time around.


10-Minute Toasted Almond Pesto
Pizza crust of your choice (see above, or I also like sprouted grain pizza dough from Cybros)
1 small handful of fresh basil
2 -3 roma tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thick

1.  Prepare pizza crust according to directions.

2.  Spread pesto directly onto crust.  I tend to make a very thick layer of pesto since I love it so much, but you can use your own discretion.

3.  Layer sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on top of the pesto.  Add basil, if desired.

4.  Bake (following pizza crust directions) until cheese is slightly browned.  Remove from oven and add fresh basil - or more basil if you already added it before baking.

5.  Enjoy!

Gather Ingredients.

Layer pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  Add basil if desired.

I like to layer my pesto extra thick!

After baking, the cheese should be slightly browned.  Add more fresh basil before serving.