Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Freedom Bread

Finally and wonderfully -- Chocolate Chip Banana Freedom Bread.  Banana bread that is free from dairy, gluten, soy and sugar (but with a sprinkling of chocolate chips, so there is a teeny weeny itsy bitsy amount of cane sugar if you include the Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips).

What's best, though? It tastes delicious. And the almond flour is so full of good fats that no butter or oil is needed; it keeps it nice and moist.

I'm on a continuous quest to create dairy-free and soy-free foods for my sweet daughter (gluten- and sugar-free is just a bonus for me, wink, wink) and wonderfully enough, this banana bread hits the spot for the entire family. My oldest is passing up Oreo cookies for a slice of this banana bread. No joke.

Just a word of warning: Don't spray your pans with cooking spray if you're looking to avoid soy. It's loaded with soy lecithin and I unfortunately realized this while the mini loaves were cooling. Instead, buy one of these pumps and fill it with your oil of choice.

Chocolate Chip Banana Freedom Bread

Makes 3 Mini Loaves (24 Slices Total)


3 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
3 ripe medium bananas, mushed
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I use these.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three mini loaves (or one regular-sized loaf pan) with oil. Set aside.

Mix first five ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, vanilla and vinegar. Add honey and mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine. Add bananas and mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Divide batter among three pans. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan, pop out and cool on racks.

These little guys are so moist from the almond flour and because they're baked in mini loaf pans, they make the perfect little snack.

I slice these loaves into eight pieces per loaf and either bag them and freeze them or I simply store them in the refrigerator. Sometimes, though, if I'm heading over to someone special's house, I like to wrap these loaves up with ribbon and leave them with something sweet and healthy.

Nutrition Information Per Slice: Calories 199; Total Fat 15g; Total Carb 13g; Fiber 4g; Sugars 6g; Protein 7g

This post has been linked to the following blog hops:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cheesy Beef Sandwich with Peppers, Onions and Loads of Garlic

I have this thing for beef sandwiches. Maybe it's the Chicago in me. Every since I was little, I would love when my mom made a roast for dinner because that night or the next day, I was guaranteed a beef sandwich on garlic bread. (There are times when I think I could give up red meat easily, but then I remember my love of beef sandwiches and realize there is no way in hell I can give it up. I've had to give up too many things lately -- and not by choice.)

When I came across this lovely recipe from this lovely lady, Cooking with Mel, on Facebook, I had to try it. As with most things creative, you've got to add your own touches that jive just right with your family, so here's my take on her wonderful creation.

Vampires need not apply.

Cheesy Beef Sandwich with Peppers, Onions and Loads of Garlic

Makes 4 Sandwiches


Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground chuck
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon, minced dried onion
1 green pepper, julienned
1 onion, julienned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Hamburger rolls (I use Udi's Gluten-Free Hamburger Rolls -- seriously delicious)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Swirl a little oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add ground chuck to the pan and break apart the meat with a wooden spoon. Add the minced dried onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Stir and continue to cook. Season with salt. Once browned, drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat another swirl of oil in the same pan over medium heat and add peppers and onions. Sweat for about four minutes and add the remaining garlic. Season with salt and continue to cook until soft. Transfer to the same bowl as the meat.

Stir to incorporate. Add cheese to same bowl and mix completely.

Load each bun with meat mixture and place in the oven for about ten minutes or until cheese is melted and bun is toasty.

Serve immediately. My husband had a great idea and added some hot giardiniera to his sandwich. This will definitely make it into our rotation.

And I'm serious about the Udi's gluten-free hamburger rolls. They are unbelievable.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Roasted Veggies with Quinoa

If you've never had quinoa, you don't know what you're missing. It's a delicious, nutty grain loaded with protein and fiber. And it's a breeze to digest.

I had some quinoa hanging out in the pantry and while I love my Vegetable, Bean and Quinoa Soup, summer just doesn't scream bean soup. So I decided to roast some veggies in extra virgin olive oil and toss it in quinoa -- much like the Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Vegetables and Orzo.

I originally was going to use a small eggplant in the mix, but as I cut into it, it was brown and yucky, so I walked outside and picked a zucchini from my garden. There really is nothing like picking a veggie from your garden and walking inside and using it immediately.

When I was at the grocery store, I saw these super cute little balls of fresh mozzarella -- perlini -- I thought would be absolutely perfect tossed in. If you're looking for a dairy-free option, just leave them out. This is a light, but filling dish perfect as a side for a summer gathering or a quick weekday meal. It's extremely easy to pull together during the day and simply warm up on a summer busy night.

Roasted Veggies with Quinoa


1 green pepper, chopped 1-inch
1 yellow pepper, chopped 1-inch
1 zucchini, chopped 1-inch
1 red onion, chopped 1-inch
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup perlini fresh mozzarella
4 scallions, sliced thinly


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Place all of the diced veggies on the baking sheet and toss with your hands. Top with the garlic, olive oil and salt.

Mix well with your hands. Smooth out the veggies so they are in an even layer on the baking sheet.

Place in the oven for 40 minutes (or until soft and nicely roasted), tossing once with a spatula at the 20-minute mark.

Meanwhile cook quinoa according to directions. (I place one cup of quinoa with 2 cups of salted water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. The quinoa is cooked when you see the outer edge pull away from the grain and appear and the liquid has been absorbed.)

Add the cooked veggies to the quinoa.

Top with the mozzarella and scallions, resalt if necessary and serve.

This is perfect warm, room temperature or cold, which makes it great for summer picnics or outings -- toss some in a tupperware and go!

This post has been linked to the following blog hops:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who Put the Oats in My Meatloaf?




You know, any which way it's said, it's just not an appetizing-sounding word. It conjures up, well, images of meat in loaf form, which isn't exactly what I think people sit around craving. Or do they?

Well, they would this meatloaf because quite frankly, it's awesome. As Meatloaf did indeed say: I would do anything for love this meatloaf. Okay, okay. He didn't say that exactly. But I am!

This meatloaf is really special because it uses a secret ingredient to keep it moist -- good old fashioned oatmeal. (The science of food astounds me.)

When I was little, meatloaf was in my mom's dinner rotation and each time she made it, I would drizzle ketchup over my slice and mash down the entire piece with my fork. It was delicious. Old habits die hard. Really hard.

I Would Do Anything for Meatloaf 


1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 large egg
1/4 cup ketchup
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup oats


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large bowl, add beef, pork, egg and ketchup. Using a handheld grater, grate in onion and two cloves of garlic.

Add salt and mix well with your hands. Add the oats and mix well once more. Do not over mix.

Dump the mixture on the baking sheet and form a loaf with your hands.

I don't use a loaf pan because I think there's the possibility the meatloaf may end up steaming in its own juices versus roasting.

Place a thermometer in the middle, being careful not to push it all of the way down to the baking sheet and set the alarm for 160 degrees. Put it on the oven and forget about it until the alarm sounds.

When it's done, allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Leftovers make a wonderful sandwich.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beat the Heat Guilt-Free: Cherry Vanilla Fro Yo

It's like a heatwave burning in my heart. But, Martha and the Vandellas, the heatwave isn't in my heart. It's in my backyard. And from what the news is telling me, it's in most of my fellow Americans' backyards as well.

It is hot.

So hot that the poor plants I slaved over all summer are dying slowly, no matter how much water I give them. The grass is getting so yellow and sharp it cut the bottoms of both my big toes.  But with all dark clouds (or scorching suns) comes at least one silver lining. And yesterday's silver lining was cherry vanilla fro yo (frozen yogurt).

Luckily yesterday was Monday. Monday is my cleaning and laundry day. The house is always in such shambles after the weekend. So I take the whole day on Monday to clean every inch and knock out as much laundry as possible. This way we have a nice clean house all week and the kids and I can go swimming, run errands and enjoy the summer the rest of the week.

I said luckily yesterday was Monday because it was 105 degrees outside. Ain't nobody going outside when it's 105 degrees outside. But everybody should be eating guilt-free, sugar-free cherry vanilla fro yo when it's 105 degrees outside. Mmm, mmm, good.

Cherry Vanilla Fro Yo


1 32 ounce container light vanilla yogurt (I used Dannon Light and Fit)
1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered stevia


Line a sieve with cheesecloth, place yogurt in sieve. Perch and drain the yogurt on a bowl overnight. See more detailed directions here.  

An hour before you're ready to churn your yogurt in your ice cream maker, prep the cherry jam. Pit and chop the cherries. 

Add the cherries, lemon juice and stevia to a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally.

After 15 minutes or until the cherries have cooked down in their own juices and thickened, remove from heat. The consistency of the cherries should be like that of jam.

Put in the refrigerator to cool. 

Empty your drained yogurt into your ice cream and follow your manufacturer's directions. I churned mine for 14 minutes. Then add the cooled cherry mixture and churn for 3 more minutes or until fully incorporated. Spoon out of barrel and enjoy.

Or store in an airtight container in the freezer to enjoy later. Perfectly light. Perfectly sweet. (Perfectly sugar-free.) 

Simply perfect.

Note: For soft serve-like fro yo, this is best served immediately. If you prefer to freeze and eat later, microwave for at least one minute to loosen up or leave it on the counter for 20 minutes. Because of the low fat content of this fro yo, it forms more ice crystals than a full fat fro yo. 

P.S. This post has been linked to the following blog hops:

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