Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole + Thanksgiving

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving craziness to you! 
There is so much shuffle and bussel and 
I wish you well in the preparing and making. 
And most of all I wish you well 
in the resting, celebrating, thanking, and enjoying 
your loves and gifts in life.
This year I am in charge of some GF sweet potatoes and GF stuffing at our family gathering. I realized that I never posted my "healthified" sweet potato recipe that I have been making the past few years. So that is what is below. Which if you ask me, it isn't Thanksgiving without the sweet potatoes. Ok maybe the pumpkin pie, but the sweet potatoes are pretty much just as important. I must have a thing for orangey beta-carotene filled goodies. Because who doesn't love a dessert that is actually a dose of vegetables and vitamins?!
Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

4 large sweet potatoes, pealed and chopped in chunks
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1 cup of non-dairy milk: I use coconut or hemp
1 TB of pure vanilla
1/3 cup of warmed coconut oil
4 eggs (to veganize use 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 ts. of sea salt

either 1 1/2 cup of oats, quinoa flakes or crushed GF rice or corn cereal (like either flakes or chex-like)
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup of warmed coconut oil
1/2 cup of either pecans or raw sunflower seeds

Peel and chop 4 large sweet potatoes and put them in a large pot and just cover with water. Boil for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork soft and then drain and put back in the pot. 
Then, add all of the other non-topping ingredients and whisk with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on high power. Until the mixtures is fully mixed and there is a bit of a whipped appearance. 
Then pour the batter into 1 9x13 pan or 2 9x9 pans. I made two small pans. One to be nut-free and the other would have the pecan topping. Then, in another small bowl mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the sweet potato batter.
You can at this point put in the fridge to bake off at the later dinner time or if you are making this day of, you can put in the oven covered with foil for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, and then take off the foil for the topping to get a little crispy for another 15 minutes. Total 40 minutes baking to make sure the whole pan is bubbling hot and baked to perfection. 
Here (above) is a picture of my rice cereal and pecan mix topping. The picture below is of a oat and sunflower seed topping. You may want to add some spice to this dish with some cinnamon or orange. But let me tell you, there is something very simple and special about sweet potatoes, vanilla and coconut oil and sugar. Oh not to mention the maple syrup! Super simple and buttery-delish dish.
Obviously, I make this simple treat for Thanksgiving, and sometimes Christmas, but really you don't have to just have this during the holidays. It would actually make a superb breakfast and you could have it all week long to warm up every morning if you so desired. It is a great way to add some veggies to your morning oats and fiber.
I will be bringing my pecan-topped one for the big day, but I have been enjoying the oats and sun seeds this week to get excited for Thanksgiving food. It is so fabulous...but of course I have raved about my love for sweet potatoes long enough. So just make sure you don't forget them for the big feast.
This is supposed to be a side dish, but could easily just be part of the dessert table as well. It is best warm from the oven, but is so good and simple that it would be just as wonderful cooled down as well.

I hope you enjoy and try this simple (way too simple) recipe out, even if it is next week with some of the leftover (on sale) sweet potatoes you have lingering in the pantry.

I want to also share some of my other most favorite Thanksgiving dishes below...ENJOY!
And many Thanksgiving Blessings to you and yours.

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
(gluten-free, dairy-free soy-free)
(mostly egg and nut-free as well)

Locally Raised Fresh Turkey and Gravy

Creamy Whipped Mashed Potatoes (vegan)
8-10 pounds of Yukon Potatoes pealed and roughly chopped
boiled in a large pot of water until extra soft
drained in strainer and then put back in large pot
with a hand-held mixer blend hot potatoes
with vegetable broth and Earth Balance soy-free
sprinkle sea salt and black pepper to you taste
using an "egg-white" whisk in the mixer will make it extra creamy
you can add finely chopped herbs or other spice to your taste...

*I am actually going to try a variation of a Martha Stewart Stuffing recipe with my oat baguette bread this year. I will post if all goes well in time for a Christmas dinner feast*

Some of my other Thanksgiving-worthy recipes 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread

This bread recipe comes just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. I have been making this loaf almost every day for the last few weeks. It's my new favorite bread and perfect for almost anything you would use bread for. Soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, breakfast, toast, and butter and jam. Perfect...healthy... gluten-free bread!
It is soft and chewy, but with a hard crust and well, it's perfect. It is also very simple to make with very simple ingredients. It can be made within an hour with no trouble in waiting for the yeast or any other complicated step that homemade bread may require.
And with no yeast, sugar, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy or nuts, this just may be the friendliest allergy-free bread I have ever made. I am totally hooked.
 Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread 
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut and sugar free}

3 TB of psyllium husk powder (must be powder, not seed or husk)
1 cup of pure water
1 cup of non dairy milk (I use unsweetened hemp or coconut)
2 TB of apple cider vinegar
2 TB of raw honey
2 TB of olive oil

2 cups of finely ground fresh GF oat flour {start with adding 1 1/2 cups for dough then add 1/4-1/2 cup more flour for kneading and firming up and dusting tops before baking
(grind 2 cups GF rolled oats in high powered blender)
1 cup of brown or white rice flour or sweet sorghum flour

1 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. aluminum free baking powder (I use Hain brand)
1 ts. of baking soda

You may need 1/4-1/2 cup more of flour (rice or oat) to knead and get less sticky

optional: sprinkle to 1/4 cup extra rolled oats for topping

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the psyllium husk powder, water, milk and apple cider vinegar together. It will turn into a thickened blob in a few minutes, then whisk in the oil and honey in together. *You can sub the honey for maple syrup if you are a strict vegan* 

Then, add all of the dry ingredients. Start with 1 1/2 cup oat flour and 1 cup rice flour and see how it feels, if it is sticky add 1/4 cup more oat flour until the dough is firm. Mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until all of the flour is blended, but be careful to not over mix and make it too clumpy.  

It will be spongy and you can dump the dough on a parchment paper and roll out with your hands with a little kneading as well, until you get the loaf the size you want. Don't be afraid to use extra rice or out flour to roll out if it is still sticky and not moldable.  Try and roll out a 12-15 inch loaf and roll out as many creases as you can. 

Then finally pat the loaf with a drop of water and sprinkle the oats on the loaf. The water helps the oats stick while baking. Then put in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, but can last for 60 minutes if you want a thicker crust.

Pull from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into. This will be hard for you because this bread makes your kitchen smell heavenly!
Seriously, this bread smells like bakery heaven. And it comes out looking like you a pro baker who has been slaving away all day to make one perfect loaf! Surprise, totally the opposite!
Then, take that first bite and it will be hard to not want another slice. The bread is known as 'soup bread' by my son because it has made soup at dinner time way more interesting to him. It is a great dipping, NO CRUMBLING, gluten free bread. Go ahead, friends, try it out and ENJOY!

Much love to you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sweet Potato Quinoa Nuggets

Another sweet potato treat. These nuggets are perfect for a half pint's dinner, or let's be honest, they are perfect for two full grown adults to share as a snack, dinner or fun appetizer too. Super simple ingredients and full of nutrition, protein and flavor. Healthy food doesn't have to be hard to swallow and eating crappy processed food shouldn't be a crutch to fall on. 
Friends, you deserve to feed your life goodness. Yes, I am referring to food, but also all forms of life, hope and good. Your body and life will give back to you what you put in it and if you are feeding it processed crap, then what do you expect?!
So choose life and goodness today. And whip some of these sweet and crunchy sweet potato nuggets to spice it up a bit. This dish could also be a fun finger food at any holiday party. Or perhaps a great addition to any game-day spread. You can serve with your favorite aolli, ketchup, BBQ, or even a Greek yogurt (or vegan alternative). I mixed up some veganaise, organic ketchup and a dash of chili powder to my serving plate. I love sweet potatoes with a little kick of spice. 
Sweet Potato Quinoa Nuggets Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut and egg-free, vegan}

2 cups pre-cooked quinoa (cook 1 cup dry quinoa and with 2 cups veggie broth for added flavor)
3 cups of pre-baked sweet potato mash (bake 2-3 small sweet potatoes in foil at 350 degrees for 1 hour)
1 cup of garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional: added for flavor only)
2 TB of olive oil
1 ts. of each paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, tumeric, cumin, sea salt and black pepper
1/2 - 1 cup of finely chopped kale
2-3 TB of finely chopped fresh cilantro
Mix all of the above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. 
The 'dough' will almost be like a sticky cookie dough. Then form small TB sized patties in your hands and  place the nuggets on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Drizzle the nuggets with olive oil and even press down with a measuring cup to help them flatten and have a flatter or more even surface.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. You can flip them half way if you want them to have even crispy sides. This recipe should make about 35-40 nuggets depending on how big you make them.

They come out crispy on the outside and chewy soft in the middle. Serve with your favorite dips: ketchup, BBQ, vegan mayo, mustard, plain or Greek yogurt....the list can go on....
Kids will love these finger foods too. Just make it fun for them to dip them in a yummy sauce or yogurt. Or have them help you mix up the batter and get their hands dirty too. That is the one thing that I have found with my picky 3 year old eater is that if he helps make it there is a higher chance we will actually eat it too! And even if you don't have any little ones to share this with, I hope you try these nutritious treats out and have fun too!

Much love and ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi (gluten and dairy free)

Tis the season for sweet potatoes. They are on sale at your local market. You can buy them jumbo, small, organic, or conventional. Most all are on sale this month for the big day in two weeks...yes, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Let's just say, I have been known to stock pile sweet potatoes in November. They are just so loving and beautiful. I mean...it's a vegetable...and it's sweet too. Well, without shame I have bought many pounds again this season and have a few sweet potato recipes up my sleeve. This one is more than perfect for a cold fall evening at home.
Homemade gnocchi is a favorite comfort food around here. A family favorite for sure. I even call my son my gnocchi, translation: potato dumpling. And, my husband says kind things about my cooking and baking most days of the week. But this dish....it gets an extra whomping of compliments. And that of course makes me want to make it again and again. For my man. But also because it is so darn delicious. And it makes me feel like I am some kinda Italian momma with a special ingredient to never be shared outside "the family". And yet, here I share it with you ;)
Pretty simple too. Only a few ingredients. And I have a few step by step pics to help you out too. So roll up your sleeves and get your apron on...this one's gunna get your hands and counters dirty!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe
{gluten and dairy free}

2 cups of baked sweet potato mash
3 farm fresh eggs
1 1/2 cup (plus another 1/2 cup for dusting and cutting, so 2 cups total) of all purpose GF flour*
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of garlic powder
1/2 ts. of black pepper
1 ts. of Italian herb seasoning (or 1 TB of fresh chopped sage)

*Flour notes:
I used a favorite Namaste brand- bought from Costco on a special 5lb bag for 9 dollars deal. BARGAIN! Super easy to have around if you need a GF flour to fall back on or even just get special for the holiday treats and baking going to happen this season. Go check it out if you are a Costco member like me. 

If you don't have a favorite all-purpose GF flour on hand, then mix up 2 cups of flour using: 
2/3 cup of each 
brown rice flour 
potato or tapioca starch
and then lastly either millet or sorghum flour 

That mix should just about do it perfectly for this recipe.

First step: Bake 1 jumbo or 2-3 small sweet potatoes in the oven, wrapped in foil, at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 90 minutes to get super soft and buttery. Then, let it cool to almost room temperature and cut and scoop out the sweet potato insides to add to a large mixing bowl.
Second step: Add all of the above recipe ingredients. Only 1 1/2 cup of the flour and save 1/2 cup of flour for your cutting board.
Here is the picture of my super big bag of Namaste GF flour from Costco. I like having it around for recipes just like this one. Or as a sub for most "normal" recipes that call for all-purpose flour.
Step three: Take a wood spoon and mix all the ingredients together, but not too well as to make it too soft. Then cover a counter top with a large piece of parchment, dust the paper with 1/2 cup flour and plop out the dough and pat down into a large square or oval. Then cut into 4 close to equal parts.
Step four: Take each section and roll out the corner of dough into a large log. Like 12- 15 inches long and 1 inch thick. Take a pastry knife or clean blade knife and cut 1 inch thick pillows from your dough log. Then roll with a gnocchi paddle or a fork can work too. Or just forget it being "fancy" and go all rustic and messy look.
Each piece should be separated and ready for dropping into a pot of boiling salted waters.
Step five: Boil a large pan or pot of sea salted water and drop the dough pillow or logs into the boiling water. After hanging out in water for a few minutes they will float to the top and you will having floating gnocchi ready to put out.
Use a pasta ladle with holes to drain water and pull gnocchi from the pot. Lay on a dry sheet pan or plate for drying.
Then lastly, serve with your favorite marinara sauce topped over lightly or drench the gnocchi in a bowl with lots of yummy sauce to lick up. You can also fry the finished gnocchi in some brown butter and sage if you prefer.
If you want to make it easy. Serve it with a saved canned jar of marinara or a store bought favorite for this occasion.
Serve and enjoy! This recipe is enough for 4 adult servings. Easily doubled and can be frozen as well.

Hope you enjoy! Serve with a side of greens or salad and you have yourself one great meal. One to comfort and warm you after a long cold day.

Much love to you! xoxo

Monday, November 11, 2013

Homemade Dairy-Free Hot Cocoa Dry Mix

There's something about drinking something steaming hot on a cold winter day. It's sustenance. Snow and hot cocoa go hand in hand, and since today marks the first day of snow for this coming winter....yes, it is ONLY November 11th. We are going to have many many more days of cold and snow ahead of us before next spring. And that is why this cocoa dry mix is a fabulous addition to your pantry. Mix up a big batch and have it there ready to drink when you need some encouragement or have a moment of creativity or quiet "you" time.
Or perhaps you will want to share some of this great mix and bottle it up in some pint jars with a cutsie note and some peppermint candies and viola, you have a super cute and special homemade christmas gift for friends, teachers and grannies.
I made this mix from 3 main simple ingredients. The main difference than any other homemade mix is that I used rice milk powder. Like milk powder, but from rice milk and of course dairy-free. I was impressed with its taste and texture. Super fine and silky. So a perfect addition to a hot cocoa mix.

I bought this rice milk powder from Vitacost, but I bet you can find some at a local health store if you are desperate to search for it and buy it right away.

FYI: Now is the time to stock up on healthy holiday baking alternatives from Vitacost. Order today to guarantee you get it here before the holidays and to get the best sale and supply. I buy my coconut palm sugar, coconut oil, and some favorite GF flours. I bet you could find anything you usually bake with around the holidays...except cheaper than the "health" grocery store and maybe you'll even find a healthier alternative too!

Right now a great sale you can buy Wholesome Sweeteners Coconut Palm Sugar, 1 and the other 50% off. Vitacost brand is also offering their organic coconut oil for $16.99 right now which is a great price (5 dollars less than the usual price). There is also Enjoy Life chocolate chips that I love to use because they are allergy-friendly and good.

Also, if you are a first time buyer, you can get a $10 dollar coupon from me for your first order HERE. Super awesome to have a free $10 towards your grocery order, so take advantage and then spread the savings yourself!
Homemade Dairy-Free (vegan) Hot Cocoa Dry Mix Recipe
2 cups of rice milk powder
1 cups of dutch processed dark cocoa
3 cups of powdered coconut palm sugar
  (blend the 2 1/2 cups of sugar with 3 TB of arrowroot powder in high powered blender)
1 ts. of sea salt
1/2 - 1ts. of ground cinnamon
optional additions:
 1 ts. vanilla powder
 1 ts. of pumpkin pie spice
 1 ts. of ground ginger or cardamon
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. Then use a funnel to scoop the mix into a canning jar to keep in the pantry or to share as a gift. The mix makes about 3 pint jars full and can easily be doubled or tripled to make enough if you use for gifts. 

To make the hot cocoa, put 2TB of the mix into a 8 ounce mug and pour boiling water or non-dairy milk into the  mix and stir quickly to have it dissolve.  Add some cold non-dairy milk to cool it down and cream it up.

Stay warm and enjoy!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

So for those of you that have noticed....it's been awhile since a recipe. Six months to be exact. And because of lots of friendly nudging and bugging I decided it was about time to get back into posting recipes. A lot has happened sine I last posted. Let's see...I missed the whole summer on the blog. I passed 1,000 likes on my Hope for Healing Facebook Page. (That's just crazy to me!!!) Then, oh yeah, I had a beautiful baby girl and she is just gorgeous and perfect in every way. An angel baby. Yes, a miracle in more ways than one, and has left me enjoying every second of her new born world. I had bit of a traumatic birth and have needed the time to recover and spend no time thinking about recipes and blogging and only about healing and figuring out life as a new mommy again. I won't get into details about my birth story, but I am grateful to be alive. And I'm not being dramatic. 
And I am reminded of the birth of this blog as well...trying to spread a little more HOPE for the HEALING journey towards health and life after going gluten-free (or whatever health and healing journey you are on!) So I decided to pick up my pen and apron again... I may a bit slower to post with two little ones, and there may be less small talk and just recipes, but I'm pretty sure that's what keeps you coming back for more anyways ;)
We have been eating lots of simple meals and old favorites of late. Lots of my go-to meals and trying to get my 3 year old to eat anything fresh. We have been eating lots of fresh foods from our backyard and local farmer's market. There is no food better than the one's from your backyard. Fresh, ripe and perfectly delicious. And now here we are fully into the fall season with gorgeous squash and pumpkin to add to everything. Including a vegan mac and cheese to make it fall-licious!
Here is a simple fall favorite that I have been making at my house for a while now, but haven't posted for some weird reason. And as we have had it a few times already this fall, I thought it would be a good easy recipe to post after such a long leave of absence. And, my favorite comfort food for sure would be mac and cheese. No questions asked. It was my favorite food as a child. My quick answer to the 'favorite food' question and now as an adult it has only morphed into something creamier, more nutritious and with no actual cheese!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe
(gluten, dairy and nut-free)

1 medium yellow sweet onion
3 finely minced cloves of garlic
2-3 TB of olive oil, ghee, or even leftover bacon grease to add extra flavor

2 TB of white rice flour (or tapioca or arrowroot flour work just as well)
2 cups of non-dairy milk (I like to use So Delicious coconut milk beverage here)

1 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of fresh ground black pepper
1 ts. of ground paprika
1/2 ts. of ground tumeric
1 ts. of Italian seasoning blend or just ad a dash of dried rosemary, oregano and basil
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
optional: 1- 1 1/2 cups of Daiya shreds 'cheddar flavor' cheese

2 cups of butternut squash puree 
(make ahead of time by blending a medium baked butternut squash with a splash of water)
2-3 cups of fresh pure water
1 16 ounce package of elbow rice noodles. I only use Tinkyada brown rice elbow noodles here

Fresh chopped parsley to serve.

In a large pot or dutch oven (10-12 quart), saute the chopped onion and garlic until translucent and soft. Then sprinkle in the flour and make a little bit of a rue substance, then add the milk and wisk fast to blend in the flour and milk with the onions and garlic. You should get a thickened cream-looking sauce. Then add the seasonings, nutritional yeast and dairy-free cheese. Let the sauce come to a boil and then  add in the creamy butternut squash puree, water and dry pasta noodles. You are going to cook the noodles in the sauce. To do this, you need to turn the heat to medium and stir CONSTANTLY to make sure the noodles don't stick and to ensure a creamy mac and cheese. It should take 12-15 minutes until the noodles are cooked and you will notice they start to plump and add thickness to the sauce. It's a marriage of dry and wet and ends in a creamy goodness. I said to add 2-3 cups of water because depending on how thick your butternut squash puree is you may need a little more water or "wet" to get the noodles to soften properly. When the noodles have taken over the sauce. It is finished. Take off the heat completely and let sit for 10-15 minutes to soak together and cool off. Then ready to serve! Serve with a big sprinkle of fresh parsley or other favorite fresh herb blend. 

You can also pour into a 9x13 pan, top with your favorite GF bread crumbs and olive oil, and then save or freeze to bake in the oven for a later date. Serve big boy slices after warmed in the oven for 30 minutes with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Happy Fall and Enjoy!