Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales (TaMOLLYs)

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Quinoa Sweet Potato & Pecan Tamales

When it comes to the title of a recipe, I have been known to get QUITE CHEESY (especially for a dairy-free cook). What can I say? Being that I am a momma bear, sometimes I have to sell my kids on the healthy foods I want them to love, and what makes selling easier than a catchy name! I’m just marketing :)! My sweet Molly Rose got quite a kick out of dinner being named after her last night.

We live in Texas, and in Texas, everyone knows what a tamale is. Traditionally, they are done with masa harina (corn flour).   I have been thinking about the execution of a corn free TaMolly for a while now, and yesterday, I had some sweet potatoes that were staring at me from the potato basket and some corn husks that were wanting to be used, and so began the makings of a ‘Meatless Monday’ masterpiece ~ a QUINOA TA”MOLLY”! They were so yummy and have oodles of potential for flavor and filling combinations. I can’t wait to post more as I make these again and again.

What you will need:

1 bag of Corn husks (found at most grocers)
1 cup Organic white quinoa
1-2 teaspoon Salt of choice (I like “Real Salt”)
2 Sweet potatoes
1/3-1/2 cup pecans, chopped (if you don’t soak and dry your nuts already, just soak them while you prepare the rest of the meal and drain them when ready to use)
1/2 teaspoon organic chile powder
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water (homemade stock is best, if buying, try to avoid yeast extracts in the ingredients)
1/4 cup coconut oil (straight from the jar, no need to liquefy)
A Steamer or way to steam the TaMollys (I use a stacking bamboo steamer basket like this one)

First, submerge your corn husks in water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. I like to do about half the bag so that I can choose the best of the bunch and have enough to cover my ingredients. (You can also do these in double batches or more and freeze for later)

Peel and dice your sweet potatoes. Cover with water in a sauce pot, add a nice pinch of salt to the water, and boil for 10-15 minutes to soften your potatoes. They don’t have to quite be fork tender because they will continue to cook in the tamale. Strain the water out of the pan and fork-mash a bit, stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a spice grinder, food processor, or blender, grate 1 cup of quinoa until you have a fine to medium-grained meal (similar to a corn meal texture).

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring together the quinoa meal, 1 3/4 cups of vegetable stock or water, 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Stir slowly and frequently just until the mixture comes together to a thick consistency similar to a breakfast porridge and stir for about 5 minutes to soften the quinoa. Remove from heat and set aside.
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Bring your 1/3 -1/2 cup of chopped pecans to the assembly party, along with your quinoa mixture, your sweet potatoes, and the soaked corn husks.

To assemble your TaMollys, simply spoon some of the quinoa mixture onto a soaked corn husk. I like to fold the husk over and use a pulling motion to spread the meal across. You will want about 1/4 inch thickness. Top with some sweet potato and a pinch of pecans. {You can see my photo of a layered husk before it is bundled up}. Now, Fold in the sides and place the bundle seems down onto a steamer tray. Try not to stack them directly on top of one another if you can help it. This bamboo steamer basket that I use was perfect!)   Continue with more tamales until your fillings are gone. I was able to get 11 tamales last night.

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Steam for 1 hour. Make sure you check our steaming water frequently and add more when needed.  Pull them out and get ready to open a little gift of food love.

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They may not look like much as you stack the corn-husk-bundles onto a serving tray…
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But when you unravel the contents inside, you find a delicious texture, very similar to that traditional corn-cake layer; and, inside, you have the deliciously mushy sweet potato and the perfect texture and nuttiness of the pecans. SO YUMMY!

For the vegan option, these were delicious served with a tiny drizzle of cashew sour cream*.  If you prefer the real deal dairy, then a regular or raw sour cream would be equally as yummy.

The best part of recipes like these are the endless possibilities for variety! I am already dreaming up some flavor combinations to try again very soon:
Chicken and Green Chile, Chicken Tomatillo, Braised Beef and Sweet Peppers, Chicken & Apple, Pumpkin and Black Bean ….. Okay, now I’m hungry again. I might have to make more of these today!

~Happy Eating, Everyone! Ole’~

* Cashew Sour Cream: Process or Blend 1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup pure water
1/4 cup organic lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
optional, garlic powder and/or onion powder to taste

Elvis-Cakes (Coconut Flour Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes, Gluten-free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free)

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Pancakes. One simple word. But I would be willing to bet my stainless-steel bowl collection that this one simple word can arouse oodles and oodles of memories. Some of you may be salivating jsut reading it. {…she types as she wipes the dribble from her chin.}

Most of us moms {and dads} who have braved the rough waters of a gluten-free or allergy-friendly diet have, somewhere in the beginning, been struck with the urge to recreate the all-time-kid-tastic-morning-wonderland of — PANCAKES —!  We’ve all gone there. Some of those gluten free pancake mixes that you can buy at the store produce this psuedo-cake, not truly worthy of the pancake title, that look close enough to the real thing; yet, when you dig the side of your fork gracefully into the pile, you find your grace leaving the table, trying to pull apart a gummy bite, most likely with a scrunched look on your face and not at all convinced that the bite you are about to take is going to satisfy the craving your tongue, tummy, and heart are having. Such a dissappointment. And after trying a few mixes, you begin to throw those boxes that promise a fluffy pancake into the same category as GMO’s, almost,  holding a burning grudge in hopes of honest labeling!

Admittedly, my very favorite breakfast treat is the gf crepe (which is a pancake of sorts, right?), but these Coconut Flour Pancakes are one recipe that visits our breakfast table loyally.  The original recipe with maple syrup is fine on its own, but the fun part for me, the mom-chef, is creating masterpieces of flavor and fun – suitable for very  ~happy eating~ !  I especially pride myself on getting them to scoff down a plate with something other than syrup – and, since we have a cane-sugar allergy, completely free of refined sugar.

This morning, I was channeling my inner-elvis. I had about 12 bananas getting over-ripe and ready to be moved to the freezer, and so I decided to pair them with a classic organic creamy peanut butter for.

I took the original recipe and added a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of our cinnamon sugar to the batter.  I cooked them up in coconut oil, and topped with more sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, sliced bananas, and a dollup of organic pb. Plates were cleaned. Pancake breakfast complete.

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Chocolate Lovers Chia Pudding

chocolate chia pudding
Mmmmm. Pudding.

I am always a sucker for a free recipe book, so when I ran accross a free kindle book all about Chia Seeds (Chia Seeds: Facts, Nutrition, Benefits, And Recipes For Weight Loss, Energy, and Overall Health) {phew} including a hundful of recipes, I one-clicked it immediately and excitedly.

The chocolate pudding recipe, above the rest, piqued my sweet interest, and after minor adjustments to the recipe, this pudding is a fave!

Chocolate Lovers Chia Pudding
¼ cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons Dark Cocoa Powder
2 tablespoons Organic Grade B Maple Syrup
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 heaping teaspoon black strap molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, syrup, black strap molasses,
and vanilla until you have a silky smooth texture. Add the milk and the chia
seeds and mix to incorporate. Let the mixture stand and set on the counter for
about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

Cover and chill for 2 hours (or overnight).

I transferred the chilled pudding to my vitamix and blended before serving, to
make the texture more smooth. Serve up as is, or decorate with your favorite
toppings. Some of our favorites:

Fresh Fruit
Coconut Flakes
Cinnamon & Coconut Sugar
Whipped Coconut Cream
A dollup of nutbutter

~Happy Eating~

Paleo Pita Tortillas

Pita Tortillas with Hummus
Pita Tortillas with Hummus

Over the years of our special diet, we have gradually lessened and lessened the amount of grains we eat. At the same time, we have switched our brains off of that once prominent desire for a bread every day or even at every meal. Now ~ even though we don’t feel deprived of our breads, we certainly ENJOY a bready texture every now and again.

I ran accross the idea on another blog site, Slim Palate. I varied the method a bit, but I thought the outcome was fantastic! These cauliflower tortillas have a super-short ingredient list. I love super-short ingredient lists!

Cauliflower
Eggs
Seasoning

For what I would consider minimal effort (trust me, I have seen MUCH more labor-intensive tortilla recipes!), you have a grain-free bread option that tastes, to me, like pita bread. My family has taste-tested these beauties a handful of times now and they are one of those magic-trick creations – they always do a dissappearing act! Hope you enjoy.

Tools you will need:
A food processor or blender
A food net or cheesecloth
A baking sheet
Parchment Paper ~ Unbleached
Preheat oven to 375 degrees f.

Ingredients:
2 small heads of cauliflower (you will need 4 cups of “riced” cauliflower)
4 eggs (preferably from pastured, humanely raised chickens)
2 teaspoons Real Salt Organic Seasoning Salt

Start by trimming the cauliflower to remove the stem. I used my vitamix to finely chop down the raw cauliflower into a “rice”. You could most definitely use a food processor. (I don’t own one.)

Next, place the cauliflower in a large stock pot and add a cup or two of water. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn off your heat, and let sit for 5 minutes, just to soften the tough cauliflower.

Next, I added the cauliflower, water and all, back to the Vitamix. I would NOT recommend an immersion blender here. Pulse a handful of times to be sure you chop down any of the larger pieces and get an even, gritty consistency.

Strain the cauliflower using a fine mesh bag or cheese cloth. Be careful not to burn yourself. Strain as much water out as you can.

Dump the strained cualiflower into a mixing bowl and add the 4 eggs and the seasoning salt. Mix well. Your “batter” will be kind of runny and gritty, but don’t be alarmed. These will surprise you!

You should be able to make 6 rounds on your parchment-lined baking sheet. Mine were about 5″ in diameter. I spooned the mixture on and spread it into a circle with the back of the spoon.

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Place in the oven for 12 minutes. You will see that the edges begin to look cooked (similar to watching for a pancake to know when to flip it). Carefully, peel the pita tortillas from the parchment and flip.

Place back in the oven for another 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. (Should make 16-18 pitas-tortillas)

Notes: The original recipe I saw had lower cooking times and called for the extra step of browning these off in a skillet. I found that I was able to achive the browned surfaces with the higher cook times and save myself a step. I may brown them before a future meal for a crispier texture if that specific recipe seems to fit that texture. But, we all enjoyed these as a pita-type bread. A delicious grain-free winner!

Plum Crazy Parfait

We heart parfaits! Breakfast, snacks lunches, sometimes even for dinner!

Plum Crazy Parfait
Plum Crazy Parfait

This week, I ran accross some deliciously plump organic plums at our local grocer (H.E.B.). They were glistening at me this afternoon from the fridge and I decided they needed to adorn an afternoon parfait.

I pulled out 2 cans of this week’s yogurt choice (So Delicious brand coconut yogurt) and some other add-ins: Frozen Organic Blueberries Fresh Organic Blackberries Dried Unsweetened Coconut Shreds 1 Banana

&

2 Juicy, Ripe Organic Plums (star of the show)

I layered everything beautifully in some stemless martini glasses just to enjoy the art of it all. Sweet treat that everyone was happy with!

~Happy Eating Always~

Pepi-Chia Herb Crackers

When I began on our special diet journey for our suffering then-3 year old, we removed in one fail swoop the triad of typical Standard American Eating : Wheat, Milk & Eggs. This is how my career-in-the-kitchen began.

Molly is our little canary in the kitchen, and we have since learned that her immune-dysfunction provides us with a perpetual game of guessing as to what her immune “soldiers” may be bullying around each day.  We have come an amazingly long way since those days of desperate prescription filling (with no avail). Her rashes were given so many names and so many treatments, but it was not until we removed the underlying cause of inflammation that we began to see big changes; and the bonus changes ~ her neurological issues associated with sensory processing disorder, obsessive compulsion, and Aspberger’s Syndrome actually began to improve.  Behaviors that we were settling in on with a “non-progressive but incurable” diagnosis were actually changing. Hope. Light. and a Passion beyond comparison to share this “Secret” with the world, just in case what worked for us may work for other suffering families.

As we began, I worked hard to mimic the flavors and textures that we were all used to eating. But once you go as far as I had to take out milk and wheat and eggs, and once you understand how calming that inflammation has long-lasting effects, effects that may mean the difference between her having to be put on dangerous drugs with very long lists of side effects, or the difference in her developing cancer in her 50’s or 60’s and her living a long a healthful, vibrant life, those choices don’t seem so difficult at all! Quite the contrary.  I get excited about finding new ways to promote our health through food!!

Since I started, I have been traveling ever-further into healthful choices in our kitchen, subsequently we actually do very limited grains now and have severely  down-sized our consumption of animal proteins.

We eat rices, and some quinoa, and occasionally gluten-free oats (on a 4-day rotation), but every once in a while, I still get that craving for a crunch that a simple nut won’t appease. Today, I was having such a craving.

We are relaxing at home today, football playing for dad, kids enjoying the cooler outdoor weather and making “gluten-free mud pies” and I have put on a pot of chili with beans and zucchini and some chopped greens and stewed tomatoes.  In our past life, I would have eaten my chili on a bed of frito chips and a large handful of cubed colby ~ not today.
We now are dairy-free (processed) and have recently decided to take corn out of the equation as well.  So today, I went into creative mode to come up with a cruchy cracker that fit the bill.

My challenge: No Grain, No Sugar, No Fruit, No Eggs, No Milk Crackers
My solution: Pepi-Chia Herb Cracker
My surprise: Everyone loved them, including our 2 year old grazer.


Pepi-Chia Herb Crackers

1 cup + 1/3 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

½ cup non-dairy milk (I like almond or hemp)

2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons raw shelled sunflower seeds (or more)

1-2 tablespoons dried parsley

1-2 tablespoons dried rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon Real Salt (optional)

In your food processor or spice grinder, grind 1 cup of the pepitas into a meal
or course nut flour.

In a medium mixing bowl, dump in your pepita meal and stir in the chia seeds, sunflower
seeds, herbs, baking soda and Real Salt. Now add the non-dairy milk (or you
could use water) and the oil and stir just until combined.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread the mixture into one even layer about
1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the remaining pepitas over top and bake at 325 degrees
for 25-30 minutes. Take out to and cool on baking sheet. Cut or break into desired shapes.