More Kefir Creations…

After reading about the numerous health benefits of Kefir, I have been looking for ways of incorporating it into my diet. You all know I am an ice cream fanatic. Naturally, that’s where my brain went. You can make ice cream from coconut milk and frozen yogurt from coconut milk yogurt. Why couldn’t I make something “ice cream like” with Kefir. The resulting dessert tasted more like a sorbet than a frozen yogurt or ice cream. It was, ans is, delectable. Tangy and sweet, this frozen dessert is sure to become a healthy household favorite!

Strawberry Kefir “Sorbet”

Ingredients:

– 30 oz. Vanilla Coconut Milk Kefir
– 1/2 cup Sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon Xanthum Gum
– 10 oz. frozen Strawberries, defrosted

Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Transfer to your ice cream maker and process about 30 minutes.
Serve as soft serve or transfer to a freezer safe container and allow to harden further.

GF Guy had 2 bowls! I think that should count as a golden seal of approval! The name, however, needs work. Does anyone have a better name idea? I originally called it Strawberry Kefir-Cream, but nixed that for obvious reasons.

Daily dose of Dickens time! GF Guy and I have been working looong days, so Dickens has been going to his Great Grandparents’ house. He loves the car rides!

He is such a little man!
Have a fabulous Monday, everyone!

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KEFIR! Gesundheit…

Working at a health food store I see all sorts of interesting products and foods. Kefir seems to be popping up all over the place lately. After reading up on the health benefits of Kefir I understand why. First, lets answer a few questions (answers courtesy of kefir.net)…

What is Kefir?
– Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem.” More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins.

What are the health benefits of regular Kefir consumption?
– Easily digested, it cleanses the intestines, provides beneficial bacteria and yeast, vitamins and minerals, and complete proteins. Because kefir is such a balanced and nourishing food, it contributes to a healthy immune system and has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. Its tranquilizing effect on the nervous system has benefited many who suffer from sleep disorders, depression, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The regular use of kefir can help relieve all intestinal disorders, promote bowel movement, reduce flatulence and create a healthier digestive system. In addition, its cleansing effect on the whole body helps to establish a balanced inner ecosystem for optimum health and longevity.
Kefir can also help eliminate unhealthy food cravings by making the body more nourished and balanced. Its excellent nutritional content offers healing and health-maintenance benefits to people in every type of condition.

Is Kefir just full of healthy bacteria, or does it contain other beneficial vitamins and nutrients?
– In addition to beneficial bacteria and yeast, kefir contains minerals and essential amino acids that help the body with healing and maintenance functions. The complete proteins in kefir are partially digested and therefore more easily utilized by the body. Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids abundant in kefir, is well known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Because kefir also offers an abundance of calcium and magnesium, which are also important minerals for a healthy nervous system, kefir in the diet can have a particularly profound calming effect on the nerves.
Kefir’s ample supply of phosphorus, the second most abundant mineral in our bodies, helps utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for cell growth, maintenance and energy.
Kefir is rich in Vitamin B12, B1, and Vitamin K. It is an excellent source of biotin, a B Vitamin which aids the body’s assimilation of other B Vitamins, such as folic acid, pantothenic acid, and B12. The numerous benefits of maintaining adequate B vitamin intake range from regulation of the kidneys, liver and nervous system to helping relieve skin disorders, boost energy and promote longevity.

Now, I know what you are all thinking. “But Katrina, Kefir is made out of dairy. You can’t eat dairy….”
Well, the folks over at Turtle Mountain have done it again. They have created a line of Coconut Milk Kefir that is out of this world delicious and comes in three awesome flavors: Original, Vanilla, and Strawberry.

I can not wait to begin experimenting whith all the different flavors. Coconut Kefir Ice Cream, anyone?
I poured the Strawberry Kefir into popsicle molds.

We will have Kefir-sicles for dessert tonight! YAY!
Yesterday morning I added a few spoonfuls of the Strawberry flavor to my hot cereal, and this morning I switched to Vanilla.

The Kefir gave the cereal a creamy texture and a hint of sweetness that made my tummy very happy!
Thank you, Turtle Mountain, for making experiencing Kefir possible for us dairy free people!

Monster Fruit…

The produce guy called me over about a week ago. He received a new shipment he thought I would find particularly interesting. This is what the shipment contained…

Monstera Deliciosa – “Delicious Monster”

These “Monsters” are organically grown at Glaser Organic Farms in Miami, FL. A native fruit of Mexico and Guatemala, they are harvested at Glaser Farms from July to October. Our store receives one shipment of Monstera Deliciosa per year. ONLY ONCE A YEAR?! I had to try it!
Monstera Deliciosa’s peel themselves. The exterior is covered in small, scale like sections that fall off as the fruit ripens. The interior flesh is white and on a hard core. It reminds me of a fruit version of corn!

Immediately upon arriving home, I placed my Monstera Deliciosa in an empty glass, stem side up and waited.

It took about 5 days before any “action” occurred, but it happened over night. I woke one morning to find this…

Naturally, I squealed for GF Guy to “come quick”! Being the amazing husband that he is, he set up my laptop so he could control it from his work computer. He took pictures of the Monster’s peeling progression throughout the day. This is what happened while we were at work…


The little “scales” bounced all over the table and floor! It was a violent occurrence!

The next morning, only half of the fruit was “peeled”, but I could wait no longer. The smell was like a little sniff of the tropics. I dug in! Using a knife I cut away the soft, white fruit from the inner core. It didn’t really require much cutting. The fruit fell away from the core rather easily.

The taste: The fruit tasted like a cross between a Pineapple and a Banana. Very tropical, no?! I ate a few bites and put the rest in the refrigerator for later.

What is the craziest fruit/vegetable you have ever tried?

The Stuffin’ Muffin Man….

Do you know the Muffin Man?
The Muffin Man.
The Muffin Man….

I have a serious love of muffins. They are like perfectly portioned little gifts. Muffins can be sweet or savory. They are easy to freeze. Muffins can be mini, regular, or just the tops. In short, muffins are… perfect!
The other day I made Celebration Stuffed Chicken Breasts and ended up with leftover stuffing. What’s a girl to do with her extra stuffing, you ask?
I’ll tell you!…

MAKE STUFFIN’ MUFFINS!!!!!!!! The concept is as simple as the recipe. These muffins are perfect for a buffet style Thanksgiving meal. Stuffin’ Muffins are also delicious cold, which makes them a delightfully healthy lunch box treat! Plus, they are fun!

*A WARNING- You are about to see pictures of my sad looking bakeware. I use bakeware that was my Great Grandmothers. I’m being serious! I really do! It has been scoured and scrubbed and is 100% Gluten Free. BUT, this bakeware definitely looks like it belonged to my Great Grandmother. Don’t judge. Embrace the nostalgia! 🙂

Stuffin’ Muffins

Ingredients:

– leftover Stuffing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Spoon leftover Stuffing into the muffin tin and pack firmly. (This will help the muffin stay together. Don’t be timid. Firmly press that little guy into place!)

Bake 25-30 minutes, until done.
Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan. (Otherwise they will fall apart!)

GF Guy and I have enjoyed Stuffin’ Muffins for the last 2 Thanksgivings. Thanksgiving foods remind us of the spirit of that holiday. We are so blessed right now that every day feels like Thanksgiving in our house. Why not promote that same feeling in your own household. Thanksgiving in August, everyone! With school starting up again, it feels like a time of new beginnings. Let’s all make the most of it!
As this new school year begins, what are you most thankful for?

* In blog news:

Thank you for your feedback concerning my blog. I added a search widget on the right side just above the Post Archive. I am also in the process of adding Labels to each post. If you click on an “Entree” label, for example, all posts labeled “Entree” will appear for your perusal, etc….. Again, thanks for the feedback. It is VERY helpful! I’m sort of technologically challenged, to say the least! Give me a kitchen any day, but spare me the keyboard!
Have a fabulous day everyone! I am thankful for each and every one of you!

Honey Baked… Lentils?…

I had plans to made roasted vegetable salads for dinner tonight. The, 6:00 hit and I no longer felt like going to the grocery store. Does that happen to any of you. You make grand plans for dinner. Then the late afternoon slump hits and all those plans go flying out the window. Instead, I scoured the pantry and internet and came up with another Katrina Classic! You all know I LOVE being able to make up a new recipe using only the ingredients I have on hand. It’s like an ultimate Iron Chef moment for me! I know, I know… I’m a dork. But you love me anyway! My inspiration for this recipe was a classic Honey Baked Ham recipe, one of my husbands’ favorite things. After eating this, I think he may have forgotten all about ham! This recipe is super inexpensive, super delicious, and super easy. The leftovers are even better. I can’t wait to eat them for lunch today! Enjoy!

Honey Baked Lentils


Ingredients:

– 1/2 pound dried Lentils
– 1 1/4 cups Water
– 1 1/4 cups Low Sodium, Organic Chicken Stock (can use all water to make this vegan, just add a bit of salt)
– 1 Bay Leaf

– 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
– 1 clove Garlic, minced
– 1 stalk Celery, chopped
– 1 Carrot, chopped
– 1/4 teaspoon Ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon Dried Mustard
– 1/2 cup Water
– 1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
– 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 1/4 cup Agave Nectar (I didn’t have any honey)
– 1/4 cup Orange Juice

Place Lentils, Water, Stock, and Bay Leaf in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.
Once Lentils are cooked remove the Bay Leaf.

In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour cooked Lentils into a glass loaf pan.
Pour remaining ingredients on top of the Lentils and stir to combine.

Cover pan with foil.

Bake, tightly covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

We enjoyed our Honey Baked Lentils over brown rice and steamed broccoli and spinach. I plan on eating the leftovers in a salad today! (SUPER EXCITED!)

In other news:
Dickens is being a little dickens lately!
He will not listen lately. Maybe he is getting too comfortable. Today, GF Guy and I both work 10 hour days. We are taking him to Tita’s house so he won’t be alone all day. We’ll see how he does, and how she does! Tita loves to spoil dogs with Cuban Crackers and Pup-peroni. As you know, Dickens is on a completely Gluten Free diet. Crackers and Pup-peroni are not on his meal plan! Here’s hoping they both survive! 🙂

Also, this is how my morning started…
1) Make coffee.
2) Pour coffee.
3) Decide to make my coffee extra special.
4) Remember the unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk in the frige.
5) Open frige, shake Almond Milk.
6) Discover Almond Milk lid was not shut properly…
7) CRUD…..
8) ……………..
9) Drink mocha coffee.

Questions:

Do you guys like my new approach to the blog? What would you like to see more of?

CHOCOLATE!!!!!!…

It’s that time, ladies. It’s that time when chocolate becomes a necessity, not a luxury. The time when your loved ones know to just let you be and not ask questions if they want to live…. I think you get the picture. Last night, all I wanted was chocolate and a glass of wine. I am happy to report I got both, and a new recipe was born!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread -or- The Monthly Mood Lifter


Ingredients:

– 1 cup Almond Meal, packed (leftover from making Raw Almond Milk)
– 1/2 cup Millet Flour
– 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
– 1/2 cup Garbanzo and Fava Bean Flour blend
– 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
– 1/2 cup Sugar
– 1 teaspoon Xanthum Gum
– 1/4 teaspoons Salt
– 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
– 2 teaspoons Baking Powder

– 2/3 cup Chocolate, Unsweetened Almond milk, mixed with 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice (allow to sit 10 minutes before using)
– 3 small ripe Bananas, mashed
– 1 Egg, beaten
– 1/4 cup Agave Nectar
– 3 tablespoons Canola Oil

– 1/2 cup Pecan pieces
– 1/4 cup dairy free Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until completely blended.
Stir in pecan pieces and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for 1 hour.
After about one hour, tent bread with foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes. Bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

This bread is slightly sweet with little bursts of chocolaty goodness. It would be A-MAZING with a layer of creamy peanut butter. (that’s for you, Jenny).
This story has a happy ending. I got my chocolate and GF Guy got to live.

…and they all lived happily ever after. THE END!

Stuffing and Stuff…

Tonight, I wanted to cook something special for GF Guy. He is starting a new job this week, so I wanted to create a dinner especially for him. GF Guy is not a picky eater. He will eat almost anything I put in front of him. However, there is one thing that definitely impresses him… stuffed stuff! I needed a gluten and dairy free recipe that involves stuffing something. Behold….

Celebration Stuffed Chicken with an Apple Cider Reduction


Ingredients-

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Salt and Pepper
– 2 Organic, Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts

For Stuffing:


– Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 2 Bay Leaves
– 1/4 yellow Onion, diced
– 1/2 Apple, cored and diced
– 1 stalk Celery, diced
– Salt and Pepper
– a small palmful of Poultry Seasoning
– 1/4 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
– 4 slices stale Gluten Free Bread, cubed
– Low Sodium Organic Chicken Stock, to moisten

Heat Oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.
Add Bay Leaves, Vegetables as you chop them, Salt and Pepper, and Poultry Seasoning. Continue to cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Add Parsley and cubed Bread.
Add just enough Chicken Stock to moisten bread.
Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the thickest part of the chicken breasts, cut a pocket.
Stuff pocket with stuffing.

Season chicken breasts with Salt and Pepper on both sides.
Place Chicken Breasts in a pan with a dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium high heat. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side.
Place Chicken Breasts in a casserole dish.
Place casserole dish in the preheated oven and cook about 15 minutes, until cooked through.
Meanwhile, prepare the Apple Cider Reduction.

For Apple Cider Reduction-

– 1/4 cup White Wine
– 1/2 cup Apple Cider
– 1 small Shallot, diced
– 1 1/2 teaspoons Poultry Seasoning
– 1 1/2 teaspoons Agave Nectar

In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to reduce by about two-thirds.

GF Guy and I enjoyed our Chicken on a bed of Steamed Spinach and Butternut Squash Puree.
I am proud to report, GF Guy was very impressed and cleaned his plate! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

An Ode To The Freezer…

I now have a new appreciation and love for my freezer. Yesterday, less than one hour before we needed to be at Tita’s house for lunch, I received a text message asking if I was aware we were planning on celebrating Aunt Susie’s birthday at lunch. WHAT?! Apparently GF Guy got the memo, but neglected to pass on said pertinent information. Instead of spinning in to a panic, I put on my thinking cap. A few weeks ago when I first began experimenting with recipes to use the leftover Almond Milk Almond Meal, I baked a dozen Mini Banana Almond Cakes sweetened slightly with banana puree. We did not end up eating them right away. So, I put them in a freezer safe Ziplock bag and popped them into the freezer where they were promptly forgotten. Luckily, I remembered their existence yesterday! I pulled the mini cakes out of the freezer, defrosted them in the microwave, and slathered them with a Gluten and Dairy Free Cream Cheese Icing. A sprinkling of Cinnamon created picture perfect Birthday Cupcakes in a Pinch!

I’m not gonna lie. I felt like the perfect little Martha Stewart-esque homemaker. “It’s no problem. I just happen to have a batch of gluten and dairy free cupcakes right here!” Even better, they were a success. We returned home with a clean plate!
As a rule, I will freeze my extra gluten free baked goods for up to 2 months. (…if they last that long! We tend to eat them by about the one month mark!) Freezing baked goods retains their freshness. It is like having freshly baked goodies every time you defrost them!
Freezing baked goods also helps with portion control. How many of you have used the excuse, “Well someone needs to eat them or they are going to go bad” before diving in to a plate full of chocolate chip muffins? Instead of gorging yourself, eat one muffin and freeze the rest for later! Perfect!

Southern Comfort…

Last night, I met the perfect Southern gentleman. He had a voice as smooth as molasses and a drawl nearly as thick as he crooned out his song. His black suit was impeccably pressed, his matching shoes perfectly shined, and his shock of silver hair combed expertly into place. He was kind, attentive, and exuded Southern gentility. His name… TAYLOR HICKS!

GF guy happens to be friends with the stage manager of the national tour of Grease in which Taylor is starring. He hooked us up with tickets and a private backstage meet and greet with the man himself, Taylor Hicks. Cool, huh? In honor of our meeting, I prepared a Southern classic. Conveniently, my mother just gave me a ham bone. She figured if anyone would know what to do with one, it would be me. She was correct! I took one look at the ham bone, one look at the bag of dried black-eyed peas in my pantry, and an idea was born. It is prepared completely in the slow cooker. Low stress slow cookin’, just the meal for a Southern Gentlemen like Taylor.

Slow Cookin’, Southern Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Ingredients:

– 1 lb. dried Black-Eyed Peas
– 3 cups Water
– 4 cups Chicken Stock
– 1/2 cup Orange Juice
– 1 Ham Bone, with a lot of meat still on
– 1 medium Onion, diced
– 5 stalks Celery, chopped
– 1 Bay Leaf, crushed
– 2 cloves Garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh Parsley
– 1-2 tsp Chili Powder
– Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste

Rinse and pick over Black-Eyed Peas.
Place in a bowl with about an inch of water covering them and soak Black-Eyed Peas overnight.
The next day, place all ingredients in a Crock Pot.

Cook on low about 9 hours, until peas are tender.

Serve as a soup or over rice. Both ways are delicious! My favorite was to eat it is over Brown Rice with Steamed Broccoli and Diced Tomato.

I’m not sure what the next post will feature. It will be a surprise for all of us! Have a fabulous Friday!