Monday Meals: Butternut Squash and Spinach Rice Bowl

This is a spin on last week’s Monday Meal (click here for Zucchini Noodles and Rice).

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This is no less true than trying to cook for a road trip because of food intolerances. Happily, shredded butternut squash was on sale at Kroger last week, so I snagged a bowl, along with two pounds of beef and a bundle of spinach.

The following recipe makes 4 meals. I ate one as a freshly cooked dinner. The other 3 were simply 1/2 cup each of rice, beef, and shredded butternut squash layered and frozen for my on-the-road meals.

This recipe is great for making lunches or just having a homemade freezer meal to reheat on a busy night. The meals reheat beautifully without losing flavor or getting mushy.

*note: I do not use much added spices to flavor this meal. I relied on the caramelized flavor of the cooked squash and salt to round out the meal. The more I cook simply for my diet, the more I enjoy the distinct flavors of the food itself that can be otherwise masked with other flavors. The savory flavor of the beef with the hint of sweetness from the squash is a great combination.

1. Brown 2 lbs of lean hamburger meat, salted to taste. Save grease and set meat aside to drain/cool.

2. In the same skillet, sauté 2 cups shredded butternut squash in 2 Tbs. of hamburger grease. Season with salt (and ginger, if desired). Cook about 10 minutes on high heat so that the squash is cooked through (but not mushy), and getting some crispy-ness and caramelizad for extra flavor.

3. In a smaller skillet, sauté 1-2 cups of spinach on high heat with 1 Tbs. oil and some salt to taste. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

4. Top 1/2 cup warm, cooked rice with desired amount of beef, squash, and spinach. Divide the remaining beef and squash with rice (see notes above) for freezer meals. Enjoy!

Monday Meal: Zucchini Noodles

1 cup zucchini noodles sautéed in 1tsp. grapeseed oil and 1-2 Tbs tamari sauce (gluten-free soy sauce). Allow noodles to caramelize a bit for extra flavor. (10-15 min)

Serve on top of 1/2 cup cooked white rice.

Delicious as a side dish or a quick lunch!

Baking Day: Spice Cakes

Which one is gluten free and which one isn’t?

Click here for delicious “regular cake” and cream cheese frosting recipe from Cooking Classy.

Click here for the equally tasty gluten, dairy, oil, soy, and egg free version from The Vegan 8 with my modifications.

Rainy Day Pancakes

Rainy mornings call for pancakes. I wanted to experiment with different flours… trying to get in more fiber, iron, and protein while reducing carbs. After comparing flours, I decided to go with Almond (low carb, good fiber and iron, high fat), oat, and sweet sorghum (higher carb, low fat, good fiber and iron).

Almond Flour Compared to…

General purpose gluten free flour (which is still great for cakes, but I’m trying for “cleaner” baking).

Here were the oh-so-very delicious and filling results.

The recipe:

To make these nut free, use either sorghum or oat flour in place of the almond meal and coconut milk for the almond milk. Also watch the consistency of the batter. Extra milk might be needed with the nut-free version.

I used slightly less than three cups milk for the above recipe.

They bake up so nice and thick, even without a lid on the skillet.

Recipe makes about 18 4-5 inch pancakes. Serving size is pancakes. If you put syrup on them, you might want to go for 2 to start. These are super filling!

Here you can see me trying to figure out the nutrition facts:

Best as I can tell… without factoring in the less than 1tsp. Honey for each pancake, here are some basic facts:

For 3 Pancakes:

419 cal.

15.25 g. fat

60.3 carbs (about 20%)

8.6 g. dietary fiber (about 33%)

13 g. protein

22.7% daily iron

Easy to whip up, even easier to eat! 😋 Enjoy!

Oat Breakfast Muffin

It’s no secret that I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately… well, the last 4 months. This past week, I thought more about the flour I’ve been using. Four years ago, I was very strict about the flour I used. No blends, no tapioca, no potato flour, no bean flour. Oh, and I definitely didn’t use sweetener outside of honey, fruit, or unsweetened applesauce.

I wanted to get back to that cleaner way of baking and eating. I really do feel better, even though I almost never stray from gluten and dairy free.

I also wanted to get the best deal nutritionally from my flour. (But more about that in a later post.)

All this led me to bring back an old muffin recipe and tweak it just a bit (click for original post). One thing I remember is that the muffins were good, but crumbly and the taste could have been better.

As soon as I tasted the first muffin, I remembered how much I enjoy the taste of honey and the homey, comforting flavor of these flours without the add-ins of a blend. These muffins are so smooth and NOT crumbly, it’ll be hard to eat just one. AND these are dairy-gluten-egg-soy-nut-refined sugar free. It’s a tall order for a muffin, but it comes through!

So, without further ado, Oat Breakfast Muffins!

Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe:

1 c. Brown Rice Flour

1 1/4 c. Oat flour (plus extra if needed)

1 c. Sweet Sorghum flour

1 scant tsp. salt

1 tsp. Cinnamon

2 tsp. Baking soda

2 c. Unsweetened applesauce

2 Tbs. Apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Gluten-free vanilla extract

Flax seed egg (2 Tbs. milled flax seed + 2-3 Tbs. cold water and sit for 5 minutes)

2 Tbs. melted coconut oil (plus some for greasing pans)

6 Tbs. raw honey (I *may* have used a bit more)

  • Preheat oven to 380F. Grease pans with the extra coconut oil. (This recipe makes 18 muffins.)
  • Whisk dry ingredients together
  • Add wet ingredients and stir until mixed. If mixture seems loose, add a couple Tbs. of oat flour.
  • Scoop into prepared baking pans. Filled cups 1/2-3/4 full. These muffins don’t rise a whole lot, so keep that in mind.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  • Let set in pan about 10-15 minutes to firm up. Let cool on wire rack or plate.
  • Enjoy as they are, or with honey or fruit spread! Oh, and coffee. ;-)

Sugar Cookie Mini- Muffins

I was going for doughnuts. And I got them, but the flax seed spots don’t look very doughnut-y. However, the taste is delicious!

As a mini-muffin the spots are not as noticeable. When I have more free time, I’ll try these without the flax seed.

This is a variation on the chocolate doughnuts (click here).

Ingredients:

1c. Oat flour

1c. General purpose gluten free baking flour (rice based, Bob’s Mill blue bag)

1/4 c. Pure cane sugar

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Salt

Whisk these ingredients together and then add:

Prepared flax seed egg – 2 Tbs. milled flax seed and 4 Tbs. water (or leave out and see what happens) 😉

1c. Dairy free milk or coconut milk french vanilla creamer (I used the later… because I’m out of milk)

2 tsp. Vanilla extract (gluten free)

4 Tbs. melted coconut oil

Stir until mixed. Grease a mini-muffin or doughnut pan with coconut oil. Use a ziploc bag with a corner cut to pipe the mixture into a mini- muffin pan or a doughnut pan.

Bake in pre-heated 375F oven for 10-14 minutes. Let set in pan 10-15 min, then cool completely on wire rack.

Make some coffee and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

The latest in adventures of gluten-free baking involved experimenting with various vanilla cupcake recipes. After much tweaking and several trials (see this post), the cupcakes tasted good, but the consistency was strange. I figured this was the result of trying to make a thick cake without eggs or gluten. I tried using my chocolate cake recipe, but modified slightly to make a vanilla cake.

Several things I discovered:

  • Gluten, dairy, and egg- free baking lends itself more to thinner goods… cookies and thin cakes.
  • Chocolate covers up the “gluten-free” taste of the chocolate cake, which means I had several tries just to get the taste “vanilla cake” tasting.

Notes for this cake in particular (read before making):

  • Do not over mix.  Unless you want a cake with the consistency of rubber. Seriously. And don’t use a mixer. Wooden spoon works the best.
  • Clear vanilla extract might help make the cake less yellow… just make sure it is gluten-free.
  • Lemon juice helps give the cake a crisp flavor and mask the coconut oil.
  • Use pure cane sugar. The taste is remarkable. Refined sugar works, but pure cane sugar is the best.
  • All dry ingredients need to be sifted to have a lighter texture. My sifter has been contaminated with wheat flour, so I used a metal mesh strainer similar to this one.

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After a couple trials, this is the deliciously addictive result! (especially paired with this coconut-vanilla icing!)

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Coconut Vanilla Cake

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a round cake pan with coconut oil. (Or put liners in a 12-cupcake pan.)

In a small bowl, measure out:

  • 1 3/4 c. general purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Baking Flour) general purpose gluten free flour
  • 1/4 c. brown rice flour
  • 1 c. pure cane sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Sift these ingredients into the mixing bowl. Pour in:

  • 1/3 c. melted coconut oil (not hot)coconut milk creamer
  • 2 Tablespoons French Vanilla flavored coconut milk creamer (note: this is the only ingredient I used that is manufactured in the same factory as tree nuts, otherwise this recipe is nut-free)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 c. cold water

Stir these ingredients until just blended. Seriously, if you want to leave a few lumps, that will be OK.

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Pour into pan and bake 30-38 minutes. (Note: This cake takes longer to bake than the chocolate version and is more moist. I started checking the cake at 30 minutes. I waited until the top was browning and my finger did not leave any indentation when testing it. See the picture below. It is mostly done, but 5-7 more minutes would make it even better (notice the finger indentation).

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Let the cake sit in the pan at least 1 hour. Remove from pan and ice with this delicious coconut-vanilla icing. Or eat it plain. It’s really that yummy. I keep this cake in the refrigerator. It is delicious served room temperature or cold!

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