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My Favorite Guacamole!

My Favorite Guacamole

My Favorite Guacamole! Avocados are an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, and folate, along with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6. The many different anti-oxidants found in avocados help prevent inflammation.

Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

Baby Guacamole burgers with Muenster cheese and Low-carb buns

This is a guacamole recipe that I tweaked years ago, and I am often asked for the recipe when I take it to parties to share with friends. It’s naturally grain-free, gluten-free, Wheat Belly and primal friendly.

Tonight I’ve made a 1/2 batch to serve on grilled burgers with melted muenster cheese and grain-free, low-carb buns. Mmmmmm! It’s also great as a dip for veggies, low-carb cheese crackers and even pork rinds 😉 Low-Carb and lovin’ it!

The Low-carb bun recipe isn’t mine; it was posted by a fellow WB cook on the Wheat Belly Recipe Central page if you’d like to have a look! Check the “posts by others.”

My Favorite Guacamole

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 medium vidalia or white onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 canned roasted chipotle pepper, seeded and diced (or use fresh hot pepper to taste)
  • 1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Spicy Mussels with Cilantro, Fennel, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chilis {Grain-free, Low-carb, Primal}

Healthy, low-carb and flavorful!

Spicy Mussels

Spicy Mussels in broth.

Some dishes are naturally grain-free and low-carb. Mussles is one of those, though in the old days, I would have sopped this up with crusty bread. For the most part, we aren’t big on eating breads anymore (even the grain-free ones) but if you are, by all means, enjoy it with this broth!!

This is one of those thrown-together recipes that just sort of happens and is dependent on what I have on hand. We had a bag of mussels to use, so I decided to saute some diced vegetables in coconut oil, add some chicken broth and chopped cilantro, and use the broth to steam mussels.

Again, not so much of a recipe as a list of ingredients that can change depending on what you like and what you have on hand. This had a nice spiciness to it without being too hot, and the ginger, garlic and cilantro add balance. The sun-dried tomatoes are slightly tangy and sweet, softened in the broth, and the fennel adds a slight hint of sweetness as well.

Spicy Mussels

  • coconut oil
  • a few cloves of garlic, diced
  • tablespoon or so of chopped fresh ginger
  • several sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/2C fennel, chopped
  • 1 hot salsa pepper, chopped

Saute all above ingredients together until they begin to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

Sauteing chopped vegetables to soften.

  • 4C chicken broth
  • 1/2C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt, pepper and spices to taste

Add broth, cilantro and seasonings and bring to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

With broth, cilantro ans spices added in, brought to a boil.

 

Add mussels, toss, and steam, covered for several minutes or until mussels open. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)

Mussels steaming in broth.

Mussels steaming in broth.

 

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

Delicious bowl of mussels in spicy broth!

 

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Caprese, So Easy!

Fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, herbs and olive oil, tastes and smells just like summer!

 

It’s mid-May and Michigan is just gorgeous! Sunny weekend coming up with temps in the 70’s and 80’s, I feel so fortunate! We had an early spring that stayed moderate, with enough moisture, which should be good for all the growing things. Especially gardens… I get so excited for the vegetable garden to start producing, and I am especially looking forward to the tomatoes and basil!

While none of this is from my chunk of land (yet!) it still smells and tastes like summer, and is a delicious and easy side dish that goes well with all sorts of lighter meals.This recipe serves 3, but you can tweak it for more or less, this is just a guideline. The herb paste I used was refrigerated and in a tube; it was a combination of basil, parsley and oregano. (If you have fresh basil, layer the basil leaves in between the tomato and cheese, and drizzle with olive oil.) Cilantro would also yield a very fresh flavor maybe with a squeeze of lime, for a different spin. Mmmmmm, love fresh herbs!

Insalata Caprese (“Capri style salad“) is a very simple salad which is said to come from the Campagnia region of Italy. Ideally, every ingredient would be local and freshly harvested, but if you have good quality ingredients, it will still be delicious!

Layer in 3 individual dishes:

  • 9 fresh tomato slices (about 2 tomatoes)
  • 6 slices of fresh mozzarella (8 oz)
  • 2TB herb paste (made fresh or purchased)
    mixed with: 2TB good olive oil to make a pesto
  • 2TB pine nuts (optional)
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction (optional, I did not use it this time)

 

 

 

 

 

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SIMPLE Cilantro Salmon and Almond Feta Green Beans

Ooops we were hungry and I forgot to take a picture once it was cooked!

One of my favorite easy, healthy recipes is baked salmon (Omega-3’s baby!), or really any kind of fish. I think a lot of people assume that fish is tough to prepare well, due to numerous restaurant experiences of dried out, deflated, tough, tasteless and otherwise ill-prepared salmon, tuna or whitefish (and the list goes on), that probably cost you between $12 and $20! I cringe every time a plate of ruined fish is brought out, and I have become much less shy about sending it back. Why is it so rare to get a tender, moist and delicious piece of salmon at a restaurant? I have no idea other than maybe a tendency to overcook, or preparation by someone who doesn’t care for fish themselves. My husband and I split the filet you see here, which I bought on sale for under $5.

Fish is very easy to prepare, and baking it is a great way to skip the breading (carbs) and make use of fresh herbs and lovely oils. As a rule of thumb, for a thick piece of fish like salmon, I roast in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. That’s it. No flipping, turning, fussing, just bake it and check it. If it is still a little translucent in the middle, give it a few more min, but generally not more than 20 minutes total. If the variety of fish you use is thinner, start with a shorter cook time. Prep time is under 5 minutes 😉

SIMPLE Cilantro Salmon

  • Salmon filet (I used Atlantic salmon because of the rich flavor)
  • 1-2 TB fresh lemon juice (or lime)
  • 1 TB Olive oil (butter, coconut or walnut oil work well too)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro (try fresh fresh dill )
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Spread the olive oil in a baking dish, or in this case, I lined the dish with parchment to make clean-up easier. Rub the salmon face-down in the oil, then turn face-up and rub the skin side around to distribute oil and place in center of pan leaving skin side down. Cover in lemon juice, salt and pepper and cilantro. Bake for about 15 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before dividing and serving.

I use this method as a base and change around the seasonings as the mood strikes or depending on what I have on hand. Try minced garlic, thinly sliced sweet onion, lemon zest, fresh dill or parsley, cumin, cayenne pepper… the list is only limited by what you enjoy, so experiment!

Almond Feta Green Beans

Another favorite at our house is green beans, in just about any form, we all love them! Add the crunch of slivered almonds and the tang of feta and lemon, and you have a flavorful and versatile side dish.

Almond Feta Green Beans

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 C slivered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients on baking sheet or dish and bake for about 15 minutes, turning beans with a spatula half-way through. Add crumbled feta and cook for 2-3 minutes more until cheese begins to soften. Remove and serve. About 2-3 servings.

I am sure you can tell by the temp and the cook times that I was able to cook the salmon and beans at the same time, and whip up a healthy and delicious dinner in about 30 minutes. It tastes first-rate, looks pretty, and is of course, gluten-free!!

 

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Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup (GF of course)

So last night for dinner, we grilled a whole chicken with some smoker chunks thrown in, and afterward made a homemade chicken stock (kitchen tip to follow). Tonight I wanted to take advantage of the fresh stock and make some kind of chicken-based soup. I have already admitted that I don’t use recipes to cook most of the time, especially when it comes to food that I am comfortable with, but tonight I did make note of the ingredients that I used (just for you!) This has a nice Southwest flavor without the carbs from tortillas.

GF Southwest Style Chicken Veggie Soup

  • 2-3 TB olive oil
  • 4 leaves napa cabbage, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, finely diced
  • 3 quarts homemade chicken stock (or GF canned broth, or GF chicken base and water)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder dissolved in a couple TB water (optional for body)
  • 1 C diced cooked chicken breast
  • 1 can cannelini or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes and peppers
  • Cumin, paprika and oregano to taste
  • Sour cream and fresh cilantro as garnish (optional)

To make the soup: Heat olive oil in stock pot and add next 6 ingredients (fresh veggies). Feel free to add or omit anything that you choose, however if you add a tender vegetable like zucchini, you’ll want to wait until later in the cooking process so that it does not dissolve completely. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Slowly add chicken stock, followed by lime juice and cilantro, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are as tender as you wish them to be. We prefer them a little al dente’, so I use the shorter cooking time. Slowly stir in the arrowroot and water if you choose to use it. Add chicken, beans, Rotel and spices to taste, heat through. Serve as is, or garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

I have always had a tendency to favor fresh ingredients and clean flavors, which has translated well to a gluten-free diet so far. If you are vegetarian, simply substitute vegetable broth and skip the chicken. Likewise, if you are avoiding legumes, skip the beans. I feel that every recipe is merely a source of ideas, and encourage everyone to get comfortable with their ingredients and experiment freely.

Homemade Chicken Stock: No need to be intimidated by this task, it is very simple. Also, I tend to be frugal in the kitchen and like to make complete use of every ingredient. I can’t imagine just tossing the chicken carcass into the garbage, when I know how delish real stock is! This works just as well whether you have cooked your own whole chicken (or turkey), or if you have picked up a rotisserie chicken at the market for the sake of convenience.

To make the stock, simply collect all the bones, skin, and waste pieces from the chicken and throw them into a stock pot. Cover with water. Add a couple roughly chopped onions and cloves of garlic if you wish. Bring to a boil and cook at a medium heat (low boil), stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by at least half. I usually add more water at this point and continue cooking to reduce again, to get as much flavor as possible. Place a colander into a large bowl or pot and strain stock. This can be used immediately, or refrigerated or even frozen for later use. If you would like to remove the fat, simply refrigerate until the fat rises and becomes firm, then remove it with a spoon. Homemade stock takes a little time, but the effort is truly minimal, and you will be rewarded with a richness that you can’t get from a can or powder!

 
 

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Soy Sauce is Made of Wheat? You bet it is, Cupcake.

(Most soy sauces are, at any rate.)

In many products, the wheat and gluten is obvious. In other things… not so much. I have always used soy sauce in my marinades and with sushi, and I had no idea whatsoever that it contained wheat. This means that other products that use soy sauce may also contain wheat. Marinades, seasonings, salad dressings and some snack foods contain it as well. We were quite surprised when a package of beef jerky listed wheat as an ingredient! My son asked me why on earth they would put wheat in beef jerky (not just from the soy), and the fact is that it is used as a filler in a wide array of products. Wheat is cheap compared to other ingredients, and it makes other things go further. It might also explain why some of us feel awful when we were nowhere near a bowl of pasta or a slice of bread!

I was able to find GF (gluten-free) Tamari soy sauce online pretty easily at Amazon and Vitacost, but my local stores didn’t have it. I did find it in a neighboring town at Kroger, in both regular and low-sodium versions, and at a reasonable price.

If you usually buy prepared marinades, don’t despair, homemade marinades are a cinch, and usually taste a lot better too! So in honor of GF soy sauce, here is a combination of ingredients that I use as a wonderful marinade for meats. I say combination because honestly I do NOT measure when I put these things together, however I realize that not everyone feels comfortable using that method in the kitchen. For those that need measurements, please note that my quantities are approximations and that I just tweak it ‘til it tastes the way I want it to.

Asian Steak Marinade:

¼ Cup GF soy sauce
Juice from ½ lime
1Tb Olive Oil (walnut oil or sesame oil is nice too, though the flavor is stronger)
1 tsp Molasses (or honey)
1 Tb grated fresh ginger (I keep my gingerroot in the freezer, and just grate it as needed)
¼ tsp Cayenne pepper
1 Tb or so freshly minced Cilantro
1 or 2 thinly sliced scallions or a clove of minced garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp of toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients thoroughly, and pour over steak or chops, let rest at least 15 minutes, and grill or broil as usual.
This should make enough for 2-3 steaks or chops, just adjust the ingredients if you have more to marinade.

I want to stress that I really do just “wing it” and use a base and season it up from there. Soy sauce, some sort of citrus or vinegar for the sour, a touch of good oil, a touch of sweet, a touch of heat, and some herbs and spices, and you are good to go. I tend to use what I keep on hand, and that may differ from your kitchen, so if you don’t have exact ingredients, don’t let that stop you!

 

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