Indian Spiced Creamy Avocado Chickpeas

Yesterday was a fantastic day! What made it so fantastic? Well, in honor of the brave men and women who serve our country, I decided to conquer when of my fears…. I painted!

I have always been a lover of art. GF Guy and I love going to art museums, galleries, and art festivals. It has always been a dream of ours to collect original works of art. We took our first step in that direction in November when we purchased 2 large photographs of Spanish street scenes that we fell in love with at an art festival. They were our first big art purchase and we love them!
That being said, I have always considered myself to be “art retarded” and unable to trace a circle. I tried painting once when I was young and immediately became discouraged because my tree didn’t look exactly like the tree I was attempting to recreate. So… I quit. I refused to even attempt my hand at painting again.

That has always been a pattern with me. If I didn’t immediately excel at something I quit. I was too scared of failure, of not being perfect.
One thing I have been working toward these past 6 months has been accepting my imperfections, loving them, and releasing my fears. All fear does is hold you back from greatness, be it in life, work, or simply great joy.
As a part of my “therapy”, I am releasing my fear and challenging myself to revisit all those things I “failed at” as a child and to accept where I am in these endeavors. Yesterday, it was painting. A friend and I set out a table in her backyard, soaked up the sunshine, chatted, sipped wine, and painted. We laughed and simply enjoyed the creative process.

So you see, my painting represents far more to me than just artistic expression. It represents conquering my fears and living life to the fullest!

Speaking of full…. my dinner was pretty fulfilling, too! While not the most photogenic, the combination of spices and cool, creamy avocado made this dish I stand-out, flavor packed winner!

Indian Spiced Creamy Avocado Chickpeas

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Dried Garbanzo Beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup Water, as needed
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sweet Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Avocado, mashed
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp dried Cilantro
  • 2 large handfuls Baby Spinach

Directions:

  1. Place soaked chickpeas and bay leaf in a saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water.
  2. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for one hour, or until chickpeas are tender. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the avocado and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, saute’ onion until soft and translucent. Add spices and cook about 1 minute until fragrant.
  5. Add the garlic and saute’ a minute more.
  6. Deglaze the pan with sherry and stir in the tomato paste.
  7. Stir in the chickpeas and mashed avocado. Add water to thin, as needed.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the cilantro and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
  10. Serve in a baked sweet potato.

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

This post is also linked to Friday Foodie Fix and Diane’s The Whole Gang.

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Chocolate Chia Oatmeal Muffins

Happy Memorial Day!

I awoke at 7:30 this morning with a recipe idea on my mind. Does that ever happen to you?

Before my first sip of coffee, the spice grinder was out and chia seeds were pulsing away. By the time my coffee had cooled to a drinkable temperature, muffins were in the oven and the dishes were glistening on the drying rack. Something tells me it is going to be a productive day!

Full of fiber, these Chocolate Chia Oatmeal Muffins are an excellent on-the-go breakfast option. They are sugar-free and low-fat, as I subbed Pumpkin Puree for the usual oil.

My first bite was delicious, just a hint of sweetness that perfectly balanced the rich cocoa flavor. I then pulled a “me” and spooned pumpkin puree “icing” on top of the remaining muffin. Can’t get enough of my pumpkin puree! 😉 Enjoy!

Chocolate Chia Oatmeal Muffins

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups Gluten-Free Quick Cooking Oats (or Quinoa Flakes)
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Chia Seeds
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Water (add an extra 1/4 cup if cooking at a high altitude)
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined.
  3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup, should yield 12 muffins.
  4. Bake 9-12 minutes.
  5. Cool 3 minutes in the muffin tin before transferring to a cooling rack.
  6. To store: In an airtight container, refrigerate for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 180 days

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

This post is also linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays at Tessa the Domestic Diva!

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

I am keeping with my “Simple Recipes” theme this weekend.

Sorry to all of those kitchen warriors out there who’s one desire is to spend 2 hours sculpting the perfect meal. I will post a recipe for you later! Instead, here is a “fix it and forget it” meal that is delicious and decidedly wallet friendly!

Confession: Contrary to popular belief I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I like meat. I do! I just don’t eat a lot of it.

The reason I am not a huge carnivore is the cost. Meat is expensive, my dears! Beans, Lentils, and Tofu are exponentially cheaper and still an excellent source of protein and fiber. Since I am just as happy with a piece of Salmon as I am with a plate full of Honey” Baked Lentils, why not go with the less expensive option? Additionally, eating less meat makes for a smaller carbon footprint. With all the traveling I do, it’s only fair that I make every effort possible to live a more earth-friendly life in my off-time.

That being said, every once in a while, when a serious meat craving strikes, I will give in. I watch the sales at Whole Foods and buy cuts of meat that are on sale and then freeze them for later use. These particular cuts of meat aren’t always the most “user friendly”. Generally, they are bone-in, skin-on and require a little labor. That’s okay with me, but if you are squeamish (as I was at first) you will need to mentally prepare yourself!

To make today’s slow cooker recipe, I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are extremely inexpensive and versatile. From Arroz con Pollo to Oven-Fried Chicken, these little beauties can make it all!

Bonus Tip: Save and freeze the chicken bones and skin to make homemade Chicken Stock! $$$$ Saver!

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Chicken Thighs, frozen
  • 1 jar Green Mountain Gringo Medium Salsa
  • 1/4 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

What are your tips for saving money in the kitchen?

Lentil Bolognese

I’m finally back home in Denver and it feels so good!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong. It was awesome seeing my family and being a part of my little sister’s wedding. My sister looking like a brunette Barbie doll, and GF Guy and I had an awesome time giving you “Wedding Sexy” on the dance floor.

BUT…. it feels so good to have a kitchen and my own bed again! I slept in until 9am, (Talk about luxurious.) and now have supper cooking away in the crock pot. Errands are on the list as is a killer BodyRock.tv couplet workout. Basically, today is going to be awesome!

Even better, I got to Skype with my little brother who is studying abroad in Italy for the summer. He said there are tons of Gluten-Free food options everywhere in Italy, and the food is amazing. People actually take the time to cook and enjoy their food, a concept totally foreign to most Americans. I am definitely adding Italy to my list of “Must Visit” places.

Okay, now on to the recipe. Friday, I worked from 7am to 6pm with only a 30 minute lunch bread, during which I went grocery shopping. By the time I got home that night, a simple dinner was a necessity. My brain was already done for the day. This simple recipe was easy to make, nourishing, and left me with enough leftovers for a second meal. It is the perfect recipe for a newbie vegan or cook looking to break away from boxed meals. Enjoy!

Lentil Bolognese

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried Green Lentils
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce
  • 2 large handfuls Spinach

Directions:

  1. Place lentils, water, and bay leaf in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 35-40 minutes.
  2. Once lentils have cooked, remove the bay leaf.
  3. Add marinara sauce and spinach to the lentils and stir to combine.
  4. Increase heat to medium-low, cover and cook until gently bubbling.
  5. Serve over pasta or, my personal favorite, spiralized zucchini “noodles” and steamed broccoli.
  6. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast flakes before serving.

Curry Spiced Kale and Eggs

What I eat is generally pretty boring.

When left to my own devices (aka not cooking for anyone else), my meals are generally variations of 2-3 quickie recipes. You will probably recall seeing a very similar version of this same meal a few weeks ago. This time though, I spiced things up by adding two unexpected flavors, cumin and curry. The effect was delightful!

Curry Spiced Kale and Eggs

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls Baby Kale
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • dash of Cumin
  • dash of Curry Powder
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 Tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 Avocado, chopped
  • 1 large Egg

Directions:

  1. Place kale and water in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and cook 3 minutes or so until wilted.
  2. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add spices and cook 1 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add chopped tomato and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. Move kale and tomato to the edges of the skillet and crack your egg in the center of the pan.
  6. Cook until egg is cooked and yolk is warmed through.
  7. Slide onto a plate and garnish with chopped avocado.

Do you have a favorite go-to quick meal that you tend to eat once a week?

 

Avocado Chai Tea Cake

I turned a catastrophe into cake!

Friday during my lunch break is when I normally do my grocery shopping for the weekend. It gives me a chance to get out of the office and stretch my legs. This week, I ran up to a Super Target where they had perfectly ripe avocados on sale! I couldn’t believe my luck! That is until I got home and discovered one of the avocados had been thrown in the bottom of my bag and unceremoniously squashed…..

Not wanting to waste a perfectly good avocado, I set about creating a new baked good. Don’t ask me where this idea came from. Heavens if I know! It just occurred to me that the fat in the avocado could be a good replacement for butter or oil in a recipe. Then it occurred to me that Chai tea would be an fantastsically flavorful liquid component and the rest is history. I decided to freeze the leftovers so i will have decadant, spice-laden treats for weeks to come!

Avocado Chai Tea Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup strongly brewed Chai Tea, cooled
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthum Gum

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the wet ingredients and the spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 square pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until done.
  6. Cool completely before cutting.

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker and to Allergy Free Wednesdays at Tessa the Domestic Diva.

Sugar Free Chocolate Mug Cake

It was a cold and rainy night. My cable wasn’t working. I wanted chocolate cake.

So, by golly, I made chocolate cake! It was the perfect addition to my pitiful evening!

I have a strict policy not to make cake unless I am taking it out of my house. I don’t need that temptation sitting on my counter. Since I had no occasions to take a cake to, I found a recipe on the web for a delicious sounding mug cake for one. This recipe was different because it didn’t call for an egg or egg replacer!

I modified the original recipe slightly to make it gluten free and sugar free and was very satisfied with the results. I served it atop some pumpkin puree for a surprisingly healthy dessert!

Chocolate + no guilt? Sign me up!

 

Sugar Free Chocolate Mug Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Based on this recipe by Get Healthy With Heather

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp Unsweetened, Plain Almond Milk (I need 4 because I am at a high altitude, but start with 3 and add more as needed)
  • 12 drops Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia

Directions:

  1. Stir together all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Pour into a microwave safe mug lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

 

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Amy’s blog Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

Miniature Spinach Souffle

The strangest thing just happened…

I accidentally made a mini souffle!

I really don’t know how it happened. I just started layering random ingredients, like I always do, and voila, a souffle! I used a jumbo muffin tin to make 2 individual sized souffles, though I consider two of them to be one serving. It’s another simple, healthy meal I will be happy to add to my arsenal. It will also be fun to play with the flavors to make different varieties.

What ingredients would you add to your dream souffle?

Individual Spinach Souffles

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Egg plus 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened, Original Almond Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Vegan Gourmet Non-Dairy Sour Cream
  • Herbamare (or Sea Salt) and Black Pepper, to taste
  • 5 oz frozen, chopped Spinach, thawed and drained, divided
  • 2 slices Tomato, each about 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (400 for high altitude)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, vegan sour cream, herbamare, and pepper until smooth and frothy.
  3. Now it is time to assemble the two souffles. Using a Jumbo Muffin Tin, spray two muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Place one tomato slice in the bottom of each jumbo muffin cup.
  5. Top each tomato slice with half of the spinach.
  6. Pour half of the egg mixture into each of the muffin cups.
  7. Sprinkle 1 tsp of nutritional yeast over each of the souffles.
  8. Bake in preheated oven until puffed, golden, and eggs are set, about 30-40 minutes.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of each souffle to release them from the pan.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

I don’t have a photo of this meal, but it was so delicious I simply had to share it…..

Friday night after work, I hurried home, changed into a pair of comfy socks and a fuzzy sweater, and drove over to my friend “G”s apartment for a dinner/movie/wine night. He is my BFF in this city and it had been far too long since we had hung out. Feeling rather lazy, we wrestled back and forth between being sensible and making dinner or being lazy and ordering from the Cuban restaurant next door. In the end, sensibility (and the fact that it was raining and we didn’t feel like venturing out to pick up our food order) won out and I made an impromptu dinner. We sipped red wine and caught up on life as the sweet potato baked and the quinoa simmered. I warned him that I had no idea how this “recipe” would turn out, but he is used to such warnings from me. He has become a very amiable “guinea pig” for my recipes these past few months. In the end, I need not have worried. We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed this dish. To quote “G”, “This is much better than the pasta I was going to make myself!” Coming from the mouth of an Italian, I take that to be high praise.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Wrap the sweet potato in foil and place in a 400 degree oven. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. When potato has been cooking for 30 minutes, begin preparing the rest of the meal.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the water, quinoa, and vegetable stock base and bring to a rolling boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 15-20 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
  4. In a large skillet, heat the smoked olive oil over medium-high. Saute the sliced onions 5 minutes, or so. Add the sliced carrots and cook until tender.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add the thawed broccoli florets. Cook about 2 minutes.
  6. Add cumin, paprika, cilantro, herbamare, and pepper and stir until combined.
  7. Toss the kale and salsa into the skillet and cook until kale is wilted.
  8. To serve, start by placing a bed of raw Baby Kale in the bottom of a bowl. Top kale with quinoa and half of the baked sweet potato, cut open to form a pocket.
  9. Stuff sweet potato pocket with the vegetable filling and top with sliced avocado.

Italian Inspired Quinoa Bowl

I’m finally home!!!!!

image source

….for 3 days….

But, at least I’m home. It felt amazing to sleep in my own bed, to cook in my own kitchen, to fall asleep on my own couch while watching Psych on Hulu…..

It truly is the little things in life that give us the greatest pleasure.

I arrived home around supper time on a Thursday night after being gone for a solid 3 weeks. Immediately, project “Scrape Together a Meal” commenced. Scouring my cabinets and freezer for ingredients that could slightly resemble a meal, I set to work creating one of my infamous “Bowl Meals”.

I have waxed poetic about my love of “Bowl Meals” before, but in case you missed it…..

  1. Fewer Dishes – Less clean up time… ’nuff said
  2. Balance of Flavors – Everything is mixed together so you get the perfect balance of flavors in each bite
  3. Nostalgia – Eating out of a bowl inspires feelings of childhood nostalgia in my heart that make me want to turn on cartoons and snuggle under a fuzzy blanket

If you love me, you must learn to embrace the Bowl Meal. You will be eating them often. Love them as you love me and we will get along just fine. 😉

Now, on to the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this turned out! Initially, it was intended to be two servings, one for dinner and one for lunch at work the next day. …..I ATE THE ENTIRE THING! Apparently, I missed my own cooking and was hungrier than I at first thought. So, no judgement if this only feeds one for you too!

Italian Inspired Quinoa Bowl

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1/8 tsp powdered Vegetable Stock Base
  • 5 oz frozen, chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen Peas, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp Sundried Tomatoes packed in Oil, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Vegan Gourmet Non-Dairy Sour Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
  • Herbamare (or Sea Salt) and Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place water, rinsed quinoa, and powdered stock base in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer 13-17 minutes until water is almost completely absorbed and quinoa is fluffy.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients until Earth Balance is melted and ingredients are evenly incorporated, adjust seasonings, and enjoy!