Brie And Green Apple Grilled Cheese

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I took some thin slices of prosciutto and laid them on a cookie sheet with some foil. I drizzled some grape seed oil, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper on top and baked at 400 for about 5 minutes, tops.

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Once they came out of the oven, I put them inside 2 slices of sprouted grain bread with fresh slices of Brie and Gouda cheeses, fresh slices of Granny Smith green apples and arugula. I heated the sandwich in a skillet with a little butter and flipped once it began to brown and the cheeses began to melt. Once the sandwich was browned on both sides, I removed from the heat and sliced the center.

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On the side, I sliced some English cucumber and plum tomato and put them together in a bowl with a little Red Wine Vinegar, Grape Seed Oil, fresh Dill, salt and pepper to taste. This was a DELICIOUS dinner and I would recommend it for any time of the day!

I enjoyed this dish with Napa River Sauvignon Blanc, which was perfectly paired with the green apple!! Every single ingredient from this dish was from Trader Joe’s, down to the wine!

A Little Moisture Trick!

Sometimes gluten-free ingredients are a little on the dry side, which if you’re a gluten-free goddess, you are well aware of! I made my favorite pancakes the other morning and decided to add a little almond milk..AFTER they were cooked..I poured a little bit of the milk over the pancakes like it was whipped cream and it was JUST what they needed:)

I still put some fresh berries and a little pure maple syrup..I think I’m gonna go make some more!

I ate these a lot pre-wedding in the morning to start my day. They are filling but won’t make you feel bloated or like you’ve over-indulged.

Gluten-Free Turkey Meatloaf

This recipe is by far the yummiest, most satisfying meatloaf I have EVER had and I don’t feel guilty in the slightest because the only 2 “fillers” are corn flake crumbs and almond meal! I use mushrooms (weird?) to add flavor and moisture and a little Worcestershire sauce for a little kick. Please make and enjoy!! If you want a glass of wine while you make and enjoy this dish, I had Bluefin’s Petite Sirah. At less than $6 a bottle at Trader Joe’s, can you really pass on it??

  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey Meat ($2.99 at Trader Joe’s!)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Chopped Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 Cup Corn Flake Crumbs (I used Kellogg’s)
  • 1/4 Cup Ketchup (+ another 2 Tbs. for topping)
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  •  1/4 tsp. Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 3 eggs, beaten, and the turkey meat. Mix well. Add the mushrooms and mix again. Put the almond meal and corn flake crumbs and mix once more. Finally, add all remaining ingredients and mix together, then pour into a greased loaf pan spreading evenly (I used Trader Joe’s Extra Virgin Italian Olive Oil Spray to grease the pan).

Take the extra 2 Tbs. of ketchup and spread evenly over the top of the loaf.

Bake for 45 Minutes and enjoy! 20160130_200224.jpg

Home Made Honey Wheat Pizza

OK! So it’s not paleo OR gluten free BUUUUT, it’s still relatively healthy and delicious! I didn’t feel overly full or too guilty about this one. I opted for all-veggie toppings, which cut back on the sodium (I don’t like chicken on my pizza unless it’s a BBQ or Buffalo, so I usually do prosciutto or pepperoni).

Here’s what I did:

  • Preheat Oven to 425 degrees
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (plus extra for kneading)
  • 1/4 oz. Pizza Crust Yeast “Fast and Easy”
  •  2 tsp. Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Hot Water
  • 3 Tbs. Grape Seed Oil (plus extra for greasing baking sheet)
  • 8 oz. Trader Joe’s Fat Free Pizza Sauce
  • 1/2 Large Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/8th Purple Onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Harris Teeter)
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and honey and mix together. Add the oil and slowly add the water while mixing with your hands. Slowly form a ball and place on a clean surface coated with more flour. Begin to knead the dough until the dough starts to pull back as you stretch. Add more flour to the surface, if needed and begin to roll out into a rectangle to fit your cookie sheet.

Grease cookie sheet (I used a 17 x 12 1/2 sheet and greased with oil and paper towels) and place the rolled out dough. Begin to stretch and cover the sheet corner to corner and brush the edges with oil. Place in the preheated oven and bake dough for 5 minutes. Remove and add all toppings. Place back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove and allow to cool before slicing….ENJOY!! (I did!)

The “Gluten-Free/Paleo” Life

Ok, so I say “gluten-free” and “paleo” BUT I don’t always eat this way. I try to eat mostly whole foods and stay away from breads, pastas and rice. TRY. Sometimes, like last night, I make a delicious dish that has rice in it and you just can’t substitute, like rice noodles for pad thai. I mean, zucchini noodles aren’t gonna cut it!

I drink wine. A lot. I love wine, I’ve been drinking wine since I was a little girl at my Nonna and Papa’s kitchen table. It’s not paleo and I could care less. These pictures were taken in Punta Cana for our wedding in November and you can bet your bottom I was drinking wine before the wedding…that shit was stressful.

When I do cut back on all the yummy things like pastas and breads, I don’t substitute them with gluten-free versions. I don’t have celiac disease, forcing me to improvise. I just feel less bloated and more toned when I avoid those simple carbohydrates.

Any advice I might give a future bride or anyone trying to get a bit more fit is to cut out the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating and replace them with whole foods that fill you up and satisfy your palate. Add weights into your workout routine. I was always a cardio queen. Give me an In Touch magazine, a stair-master and Rhianna radio on my Pandora and I’ll sweat my butt off and feel like I accomplished something, BUT it never toned my body. Adding Body Pump class (moderate weights with lots of repetition/total body workout) was what got me tighter and smaller. I always thought weights would make me bulky, but they did NOT. I didn’t drink soda or juices either. Ever. I’d rather have stevia in my coffee in the morning and wine during the week than a soda or glass of juice any day. I heard recently that one serving of soda has more sugar in it than you need for the entire week!

My go to substitutions to cut cravings and fill/satisfy me:

  • Avocado! I put this in salads, added it to veggies for side dishes or under a meat/protein
  • Beans! Especially black beans, I eat these in place of pasta or rice.
  • Zucchini! I made noodles under a sauce, diced and added to ground turkey for meatballs, cut up and sautéed to add to veggies to help fill me up
  • Mango! I know there’s a lot of sugar, so I would eat it early in the day and make ceviche with it, which included avocado, shrimp and lots of lemon and cilantro. I also ate it alone as long as I wasn’t going to have any other sugar for the day. It’s like candy!
  • Spicy sauces and seasonings! When you’re trying to eat well, you get bored after a while (or at least I do!) and start craving other food. Adding a lot of spice (if that’s your thing) REALLY helped me, and is actually great for your metabolism. I added siracha to eggs, cayenne pepper to bean salads and Frank’s Red Hot to pretty much anything, especially chicken tenders (a paleo version, found in my recipes) for a “buffalo chicken” dish with celery and carrots.
  • Protein muffins and paleo pancakes were perfect every morning with my cup of coffee (which I would rather cut off a limb than take away) and filled me up. (Both found in my recipes, as well)
  • Sparkling water with lemon and lime, MAYBE a splash of cranberry. This “mocktail” was my go-to when I was cutting back on the wine. I still put it in a fancy glass:)

Kind of regretting the 2 Hershey Kisses I had before this post:/ Oh well, no Nature’s Path cereal for dessert tonight! (something else I do).

 

Gluten Free Chicken Pad Thai

SOOOOOOO delicious!!

  • 1 Tbs. Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 Shallot
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 lbs. Chicken breast
  • 3/4 Fresh Cilantro
  • 3 Tbs. Chopped Scallions
  • 1 1/2 Cup Bean Sprouts
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Siracha
  • 1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Liquid Amino Acids
  • 1/4 Cup Oyster Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Crushed Peanuts
  • 16 oz. Flat Rice Noodles

In a sauté pan, pour a little sesame oil and heat over medium. Beat the eggs and pour into heated pan, scrambling as they cook. After cooked completely, set aside. Pour a little more of the sesame oil into the pan and throw in the chicken, cut into cubes.

While the chicken is cooking, stirring occasionally, cook the rice noodles as instructed (I boil for about 4 minutes because I like them cooked al dente).

Once the chicken has cooked thoroughly, remove the chicken, leaving the juice and add the diced shallot into the pan, stirring a few times while the shallot softens. Once the shallot has softened, add the egg and chicken back into the pan. Toss together and add the noodles. Finally, pour the liquid ingredients over everything and toss together. Finally, add the cilantro, peanuts and bean sprouts and toss once more. Serve immediately and ENJOY!!

I enjoyed this tonight with some Grower’s Reserve Chardonnay…because, you know…I like to drink wine while I cook…and eat;)

Blueberry Reduction Pork Chops

So sometimes (very often, actually), I don’t follow any recipe, nor do I write down what I’m doing as I do it. Last night’s dinner was a perfect example of that, but I’ll tell you what I did the best I can!

This was a thick-cut boneless pork chop. I had 4 total, which equaled around 2 lbs. In my cast iron grill pan, I sprayed cooking oil so the pork chops wouldn’t stick and heated over medium-medium/high. I placed all 4 pork chops and sprinkled them with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried parsley and a little cayenne pepper. Once they started to brown on the bottom, I flipped them over and repeated the same seasonings. Once they were about 1/2 way cooked through, I put them in a preheated oven of 350 for about 10-15 minutes.

In another cast iron skillet, I cut up parsnips and purple carrots. On the stove top on medium-medium/high heat I poured a little grape seed oil and added the parsnips and carrot. I then sprinkled them with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and a little pink sea salt. Once they started to soften, I put them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

The broccoli was simply steamed and sprinkled with lemon pepper!

But the REDUCTION SAUCE was to die for! I put a small container of blueberries with a little chicken broth on a small pot on the stove over medium heat. I mashed the blueberries with a potato masher and allowed them to cook down a little then turned the heat to medium/low. I added more chicken broth (only about 1-2 Tbs. each time), about 1 Tbs. whole grain Dijon mustard, about 1 Tbs. of honey, and about 1 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar. I allowed that to all slowly cook together and kept tasting it to see what it needed. This was a thick reduction and it was delicious!! My husband was really skeptical (I don’t know why he doesn’t just trust me at this point?!) but he put a little on the side. Once he tried it, he got up and poured this all over his pork chop!!

I paired this dish with Panilonoco Cabernet Sauvignon!

Paleo BBQ Chicken

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  • 2.5 Lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 6 oz can Organic Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup 100% Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbs Honey
  • 2 Tbs Molasses
  • 1 Tbs Grape seed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Minced Onion
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp 21 Season Salute (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

 

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the tomato paste, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Add the honey, molasses, grape seed oil and mix well. Add all of the seasonings and mix once more.

In your slow cooker on high, put the chicken breasts and pour your sauce on top. Spread it out and pour the other 1/4 cup water. Cover and allow to cook for about an hour and a half or until the chicken is easy to pull apart with 2 forks. After shredding the chicken apart, cover and turn heat to low. Allow to cook for at least another 1/2 hour.

I served mine over mashed cauliflower with fresh scallion!

(Mashed Cauliflower: Remove stems from half a head of cauliflower and steam the crowns until you can puncture with a fork. Drain and put in your food processor, blend until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl and add 1 Tbs half and half, cracked pepper and salt to taste. I also add a sprinkle of fresh grated parmesan! Top with scallions.)

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I have to admit, sometimes when I’m cooking, I don’t know what I’m really making until it’s done. This started out as a chicken tortilla soup, and about an hour into the slow cooking process, I decided to add a thickener, wild rice, lentils, peas and carrots. This soup was SO deliciously tasty and such a good snow day treat! My husband and I ate almost the whole crockpot full the first day! This soup was EVEN BETTER the 2nd day!

I didn’t write the recipe down as I went on, but here’s the basis of what I did and I hope you can recreate it in your own way. Please leave any questions below and I will happily give you any tips I can!

I started with 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, one small chopped shallot and about 16 ounces of organic, low sodium chicken broth. I covered each chicken breast in taco seasoning and a little cumin, and cooked the ingredients on high in my slow cooker for about an hour and a half. I added more chicken broth, uncooked wild rice (about 1 cup), lentils (about 1/4 cup), and some frozen peas and carrots. I covered it up again and allowed to cook for another hour or so, stirring occasionally. I then pulled the chicken apart with 2 forks (which was really easy) and added about 1/4 cup half and half. I took a little bit of butter (about 1/4 stick) and heated that in a small skillet on the stove until it melted. I added 1/4 cup low fat milk and finally, to thicken, about 1/4 cup Tapioca Starch (you can also use Arrow Root or Corn Starch to keep it gluten free) and continuously stir. This only takes a few seconds, as the mixture will thicken REALLY QUICKLY! Add this to the soup immediately and turn the slow cooker to Low.

Add salt, pepper, thyme, 21 Season Salute (from Trader Joe’s and GREAT in soups!), and the rest of the chicken broth (total of 32 ounces). Let this sit for as long as you can, as the soup will thicken over time. I served this with a few crackers and red wine (obviously).

I probably let this soup cook for at least 4 hours from start to finish before we ate any. I allowed it to cook on Low for the rest of the day and finally turned it off before bed. The next day, I heated it up with a little more chicken broth!! Soooooo good!

My wedding “diet”

Our wedding in Punta Cana was the best day of my life so far! I have never had so much fun and I got to come home married to the best guy I’ve ever known.

Like any bride, I stressed and wanted to make sure I looked my best and felt good about myself for the big day. I wanted to look back on our pictures with confidence and reflect how happy I am. I think a huge fear was that I would see pictures of myself and focus on my insecurities and wish I had tried harder to become my healthiest self. I knew I had the skill to create great recipes, I knew I had the determination and drive to get to the gym, but who doesn’t want a glass of wine or 2 at the end of the day?

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a glass of wine while I cook! Who doesn’t want to skip a day or 2 at the gym during the week? I do, and I did! Let me also just say, I am NOT a gym rat! I go to the gym on a regular basis about 3-4 times a week, max. I take Body Pump, which is a Les Mills program and also do the stair master for cardio. I like to sweat, it makes me feel productive.

I ate really well before the wedding, but got creative and looked forward to making these dishes because they were full of flavor. I discovered how to eat healthy food high in fiber and protein and low in sugar, salt and fat WHILE making sure I was full and satisfied. I did drink wine. Not every single day, but I did. I ate dessert, but it was usually a cup of Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax granola or a protein mini muffin and a cup of sleepy-time tea as opposed to something more fattening.

I will post as many recipes as I can and will happily answer ANY questions you have! I’ll try to give you any advice I can and tell you what worked/didn’t work for me. Just ask!