Oatmeal Two Ways

I kept up on the sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free diet for exactly two full months. It felt more like two full years. Last Sunday at my two daughters’ birthday party, I decided I would eat whatever I wanted, mainly because I was making a cake that is the best cake ever. Long story short, I didn’t eat that much that day, but I felt a satisfaction that I hadn’t felt for two months. At the end of the day, I said to my husband, “I feel great!” So that was the end of that. Though I am still going to do my best to keep my sugar consumption to a minimum.

Sometime within the last year, my doctor warned me that I was headed down the road toward type-2 diabetes. This is one of my nightmares. I love baking and I love sweets. It’s just part of who I am. Instead of giving up the baking of sweet things that I love, I decided to cut out sugar in other areas of my life. I no longer sweeten my coffee. I didn’t think I would ever be able to drink coffee without sugar, but I have gotten used to it. Along the same line, I also quit eating sweet oatmeal. You might not think that either of these sacrifices really constitutes as a sacrifice, but I used to put two tablespoons of sugar per cup of coffee. And I would drink two cups of coffee each morning. That is 1/4 cup less sugar every morning. I also used to sweeten my oatmeal with 1/4 cup of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar!!

My grandfather had type-2 diabetes for the last decades of his life. Every morning he would eat oatmeal with butter and salt and pepper on it. I always thought that his oatmeal must be disgusting. When I decided to cut the sugar from my oatmeal, I decided to try a little different take on his oatmeal. Have you ever read the directions on a box or can of oatmeal? It says to cook the oatmeal in water with a little salt. Who eats their oatmeal that way? From what I read on the steel-cut oats can, this must be a traditional Scottish way to eat oatmeal. I’m not there yet and I’m not interested in ever getting to that point. I hope my Scottish blood line will forgive me.

You have heard it at one point or another that breakfast is the most important part of the day. I completely agree, but you need to make good choices to fuel your body for the day ahead. This first recipe for oatmeal is hearty and satisfying and will keep you from getting hungry for quite a while. Pair it with some protein, like a handful of almonds or a scrambled egg, and you’ll keep yourself fueled and keep hunger at bay for several hours.

Buttery Oatmeal

My younger daughter, very excited to have buttery oatmeal, that she requested, for breakfast! She won’t eat the sweet oatmeal.

Oatmeal Two Ways — First Buttery Oatmeal, then Sugar and Spice Oatmeal:

Buttery Oatmeal

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup organic whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup organic whole rolled oats
  • 1 Tablespoon organic butter

Bring water, milk and salt almost to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add oats, reduce heat to low and stir. Cook oats until they are almost to the consistency that you like them, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on what temperature your stove thinks is low. Stir occasionally during cooking. Remember that oats will thicken as they cool, so you don’t want to cook them until they are at the consistency that you like, otherwise, they will be too thick once they are cool enough to eat. Put your oats into a bowl and add butter. Stir and enjoy. You can always add a little more milk, cream or half and half to your oats to thin and cool them. This recipe makes one to two servings, depending on how much oatmeal you like to eat at breakfast.

For extra protein, nutrition and flavor, you can add chopped nuts, chia, hemp or flax seeds to your cooked oatmeal.

Now, for those of you who have children that I cook for on a regular basis, you might want the recipe for the oatmeal that I make for your kids. This is also the way that I used to eat my oatmeal, and the way that my older daughter prefers it. She has gotten used to the buttery oatmeal though. This recipe should make enough for two to three kids, or one to two adults.

Sugar & Spice Oatmeal

  • 2 cups organic whole milk
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon organic clove (optional, I don’t always have it, so I don’t always use it)
  • 1 cup organic whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Bring milk, sugar and spices almost to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy saucepan. Add oats, reduce heat to low and stir. Cook oats until they are almost to the consistency that you like them, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally during cooking. Follow what I said about oat consistency in the above recipe. When oats are ready, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve and enjoy. As with the previous recipe, you may add more milk, cream or half and half to thin and cool your oats. Just remember, if you eat your oats this way, don’t do it everyday. Otherwise, you may have your doctor giving you a diabetes warning. This should be considered a special treat, comfort food kind of breakfast.

Try them both and leave a comment below letting me know which one you like better and why.

 

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Besides boiling water, how much more basic can you get than scrambled eggs? I’m not that big of a fan of eggs by themselves, therefore, I try to find new ways to eat eggs that make them more palatable to me. With this grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free eating that I’m doing these days, eggs have become an essential part of my diet. I have noticed that my body craves more protein now that I have cut out sugar, grains and dairy. It’s always important to listen to the queues our bodies give us.

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

With summer’s heat blazing on, there is a bounty of fresh in-season vegetables available. I decided to take advantage of the vegetables that I had in my kitchen and make a scrambled egg invention. It turned out marvelously! In the past month, I have eaten this at one point or another for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but not all on the same day. This recipe provides a good dose of protein as well as more than one serving of vegetables. And it’s really great, because it will keep you satisfied and energized for hours. This recipe makes one large serving for one person as a complete meal, or it can be the main course at a meal with a variety of other sides. It would also be a great addition to a breakfast or brunch buffet!

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

  • 1-2 Tbsp. organic extra-virgin coconut oil, or bacon grease (a Southern favorite and my personal favorite)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 organic zucchini, grated
  • 4 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 handful of organic baby spinach, cut into ribbons
  • 2 small Campari tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large, organic eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 Tbsp. water
  • sea salt to taste

Heat oil in a large (cast iron, if you have it) skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms and salt to taste and continue to cook for about another 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and tomatoes. While this cooks, beat your eggs with the water and salt to taste. I beat the heck out of my eggs in a glass bowl with a fork. I’m convinced that this makes my eggs lighter and fluffier. Pour the eggs over the skillet full of sautéed vegetables and use a silicone spatula to stir it around. At this point, you might want to put a lid on your skillet and then open it to stir it occasionally until all the eggs are cooked. Once all the eggs are cooked, plate, sit and eat. Bon appétit!

Best-Ever Scrambled Eggs

 

Have you tried this recipe? Do you have an even better recipe for scrambled eggs that is also dairy-free? Let yourself be heard in the comments section below!

orange cream chia pudding

Orange Cream Chia Pudding

With a sweet tooth like mine, it doesn’t take long to start coming up with dessert ideas, even if I’m following a sugar-free diet. I’m not totally sugar free. I consider naturally occurring sugars in fruits to be okay. I am not using added sugar, i.e. granulated sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, etc. To sweeten anything exclusively with stevia, in my opinion, is completely revolting. I have found that a little bit of stevia to boost the sweetness where fruit or fruit juice is used is fairly undetectable, as long as you don’t use too much.

I had made chia pudding before, when I was still using traditional sweeteners and liked it. Plus, there’s no cooking involved, so it’s really easy. There is a waiting period while the chia seeds soak up the liquid and make the pudding-esque texture.

Chia seeds have come a long way from the Chia Pets that used to be advertised on television in the ’70’s. For several years now, chia seeds have been moving into the mainstream of the American diet. I picked up my last bag of organic chia seeds at Sam’s Club. How much more mainstream America can you get, other than their close relative Walmart? But you can probably buy them there too. Chia seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. They are packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and the list goes on. Do a quick Google search on benefits of chia seeds, and you will find a ton of information.

Who doesn’t love an orange creamsicle? Especially in the long, hot days of summer? This recipe is a healthier take on that idea. It tastes great and is great for your health. You can also make a pineapple cream version of this by substituting freshly blended pineapple for the orange juice. My husband, mother, two daughters and I all loved both varieties. Whip up a batch today to start enjoying the delicious heath benefits of the tiny, but mighty, chia seed!

orange cream chia pudding

Orange Cream Chia Pudding

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed organic orange juice
  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 packets of your favorite brand of organic stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Put chia seeds into a bowl that will hold at least one quart. Add the rest of your ingredients.

orange cream chia pudding

Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve alone or garnished with fresh fruit.

orange cream chia pudding

As I said above, you can also make a pineapple cream chia pudding by substituting one cup of blended freshly cut pineapple for the orange juice.

pineapple cream chia pudding

Do you have a favorite way to use chia seeds? Please let me know in the comments below!

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

I know it’s hotter than Hades right now. And maybe soup is the last thing you want to eat. But, summer doesn’t last forever, except here in Florida. And some people still do eat hot soup in the summertime. Otherwise, why would restaurants like Panera still be making it everyday?

In my last post, I told you that I have given up sugar, dairy and grains. This causes one to be more creative in what one eats. As I said before, this is not that Paleo diet thing. I have a wider variety of things that I can eat, like potatoes and beans. I have never been a big cream of broccoli soup fan. I think I never ordered it once back in the days when I actually ate at Panera. But someone asked me how you make it the other day, and it got me thinking. How would I make it so that I can eat it with the constraints of my current diet? The very first experiment that I did produced a winner!! I have often read the blogs of other people who are doing the Paleo diet and variations of clean eating. Many times I have read them say, “It’s so good, I didn’t even miss (insert prohibited ingredient here)!” I have also thought to myself every time that I have read a statement like that, “Yeah, right!” Well, this recipe actually turned out so good that I really think it is better than the original that is made with cream, milk, butter and flour. This soup was really easy to make, which is also a big bonus. Besides a cutting board and knife, all you need to make it is one pot! And it makes enough for freezing for future use for one person or for dinner for a family. And if you are vegan, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this work for you.

I’m so excited about how well this recipe turned out that I’m dying to make a cream of mushroom variety and a creamy butternut squash soup too! Those will probably be coming up in future posts. I have also come up with some desserts for future posts also. I will quit making you wait and get on to the recipe.

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

Dairy- and Grain-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 medium sized organic yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken base (or vegetable variety if you’re doing a vegan version)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 pound organic frozen broccoli florets
  • sea salt to taste

Heat your coconut oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add your onion and garlic and about a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and sautée until translucent. Add your potatoes, chicken base, water and coconut milk. Raise the heat and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until the potatoes are smooth. Now, add your bag of frozen broccoli florets and let it cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Once again, use the immersion blender and blend the soup until the broccoli is in small pieces. Taste it to see if you need any more salt. Adjust it to how you like it, and voilà! You have just made a delicious, healthy version of a classic favorite soup.

FYI: I don’t usually buy organic onions or garlic. I buy my organic potatoes and organic canned coconut milk at Whole Foods. I buy my sea salt, organic Better Than Bouillon and organic frozen broccoli florets at Costco.

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

Paleo Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins

No, I have not gone Paleo. But I have decided to cut out grains, sugar and dairy. I am two weeks into it at this point. I did this a little more than a year ago for about three months. I’m hoping to stick with it this time for good, only cheating on special occasions, like birthdays and holidays. What’s the difference between what I’m doing and what Paleo dieters are doing? I eat beans and potatoes and don’t use honey or maple syrup.

When I tell people that I have gone grain-free, sugar-free and dairy-free, they usually respond with, “What’s left for you to eat?” That’s kind of how I felt when I first did this last year. But you still have meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, nuts, seeds and oils. Eating is very important to me, so I figured it out pretty quickly. There are actually lots of things left to eat. And I find that I get a lot more creative eating this way. And if you’re a self-professed sugar addict like me, you are going to get a bit crazed trying to get a sweet fix. This is where my creativity really comes out. Usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings I will make a special breakfast for my family. It’s usually some type of special pancakes or muffins. This morning I wanted to make a special breakfast that I could eat, but that the whole family would also enjoy. I researched several recipes and this is what I came up with. I plan on changing up the flavor combinations in the future and will post the variations as I come up with them.

I was really happy that everyone loved these muffins. My two year old ate two of them. My twelve year old ate three and probably would have eaten more if I had let her. And my husband asked what was in them, because they were so good. He couldn’t believe it. I have a feeling that variations on these are going to be the normal breakfast around here for a while. Let’s get to the recipe!

Organic Paleo Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins

  • 5 organic large eggs
  • 3/4 cup organic apple sauce
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut flour (I use Nutiva)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil (melted or solid, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 packet of organic stevia
  • 1/2 cup organic blueberries (I used frozen)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with cupcake papers. Put all ingredients except blueberries into a bowl and mix with hand mixer or an immersion blender. You could probably do this quickly in a blender or one of those smoothie bullet-blender things also. Stir in your blueberries. You will end up with a thick but moist batter.

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

Spoon your batter evenly into the 12 muffin cups. I used a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop and a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop for each muffin.

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. When they are finished baking and cool enough to not burn your fingers, take them out of the muffin pan and put them on a cooling rack for a few minutes.

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

Place them on a plate and serve them to your family!

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

 

The muffins turn out very fluffy and moist, which is an amazing feat for a coconut flour muffin recipe. I’m still trying to figure out how to make them look as pretty on the outside as a traditional muffin. The inside is looking good though!

Paleo Coconut Flour Muffin

Here are some flavor variations. I will add more as I create and test them out.

  • Banana Nut: Leave out stevia and blueberries. Grind 1/4 cup raisins with a tablespoon of your already measured out coconut flour in a coffee grinder. Add your ground raisins, 1 tablespoon of organic Ceylon cinnamon before you mix. After mixing, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans.
  • Chocolate-Cherry: Leave out banana. Change it two packets of stevia and 1 cup of applesauce total. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of organic raw cocoa powder and 1/2 cup of diced organic cherries.
organic pizza dough

Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

For many years I have known that the key to fantastic pizza is the crust. The crust is the base for everything that gets added on. You must always start with a good base. Everyone has his or her preferred toppings, but the base or crust remains the same.

I have tried different recipes for different pizza crusts over the years. It was always a frustrating and disappointing experience. Within the last year, I read the book American Pie by Peter Reinhart, which is a book about the authors search for the best pizza. He traveled the United States and Italy eating all different kinds of pizza. Reinhart shares the story of his travels in the first half of the book and then shares recipes in the second half. After reading the stories, I decided to try his recipe for Napoletana pizza dough. The first time, I made the recipe exactly the way the recipe is written. It turned out well, even if the pizza crusts weren’t exactly round or even in thickness. I’m not a professional pizzaioli. I decided to tweak the recipe to make the dough a little easier to work with, healthier and a bit more tasty.

So here’s what I did. By using a mixture of organic all purpose flour and organic whole wheat flour, I made the dough stronger, so that it doesn’t tear so easily, more healthy and tasty. I also added more salt that Reinhart called for. I use sea salt instead of kosher or iodized salt. If you don’t like as much salt or are on a low-sodium diet, you can cut the salt in my recipe by half. Now, here’s how you make it.

As you may know from reading earlier posts, I like to weigh my ingredients. Having exact measurements, especially when dealing with breads and bakery products, is extremely important if you want it to turn out the same each time. Even then, temperature and humidity differences can change your end result as well, but we don’t necessarily have control over those factors. Therefore, it is important to control the factors that you can. With that said, I am going to give you the recipe with the flour and water by weight. If you want to convert it to cups, one cup of all-purpose flour weighs 4.25 ounces and one cup of whole wheat flour weighs 4 ounces.

First, combine 15 ounces of room temperature water with 1 teaspoon of instant yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let this sit while you do the next step. Combine 12 and a half ounces of organic all-purpose flour, 10 ounces of organic whole wheat flour and 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Mix these together with your mixer’s dough hook. Add this flour mixture to your water/yeast mixture. Mix with the dough hook on medium speed of your electric mixer for 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix at medium/low speed for 2 additional minutes.

organic pizza dough

 

When you have finished mixing the dough, you will want to turn the dough out onto a floured surface, working the dough into a smooth ball.

organic pizza dough

Oil a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl with your favorite oil (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.). Put your dough ball into this oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in a warm area where it will not be disturbed for an hour and a half.

organic pizza dough

 

After the hour and a half has passed, put your pizza dough bowl into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then, take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator at least two hours before you are ready to make your pizza. You have to get the dough back to room temperature before you will be able to work with it. During all of this time in and out of the refrigerator, the yeast will be working its magic on the dough. If you would like to know more about how yeast works on dough, Peter Reinhart has another book at explains it called, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Once your dough has reached room temperature and you are ready to make your pizzas, put a pizza stone into your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you don’t have a pizza stone, don’t worry about it. You can still make pizza without it. I bake my pizza on the middle oven rack with a pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you might want to move your oven rack down a bit lower. Experiment with it to see which level turns out the best pizza.

Generously flour your work surface where you will be shaping the pizza dough. Remove your dough from the bowl as gently as possible and place it on your floured work surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough into four or six equal pieces. For me, since my pizza dough stretching skills are limited, six dough balls makes six personal sized pizzas, four makes normal small sized pizzas. If you are going for making those 18-inch pizzas, the you might want to just cut the dough in half. Form the cut pieces into smooth dough balls.

organic pizza dough

Take one of your dough balls and start stretching it evenly to form a circle. After a few, I decided that if I roll it with a rolling pin a bit, then work it with my knuckles from the edges, it turns out better. I even tried doing the pizza toss thing, and the dough held up fine. Just be sure you don’t drop it on the floor. My advice is to shape the dough however it is the easiest and least frustrating for you. As you can see, my first one didn’t turn out as a perfect circle.

organic pizza dough

 

Once you have your dough formed, you have a choice. If you have a pizza peel and know how to use it. Then proceed with preparing that and all your toppings. I don’t have a pizza peel. I have a pizza pan that has holes in it, so it still works on the pizza stone. If you have a pizza pan, then move your dough to the pan so that you can start putting on your toppings. Red sauce is not my favorite, so it is rarely on my pizza. Instead, I brush the dough with organic extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle garlic granules and a little bit of sea salt over the whole thing and then proceed with the rest of my toppings. Pesto is another one of my favorites to use as a base sauce. You know what your favorites are, so do it the way you like it.

organic pizza dough

 

On this pizza, I went very basic and just used pesto, mushrooms and shredded mozzarella cheese. If only I had some sun-dried tomatoes!

organic pizza dough

 

Bake your pizza in the oven, depending on the size of your pizza and the amount of toppings, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking. If you made your pizza crust extra thick, you may need to bake it longer. Or bake a shorter time if you made your crust really thin. Keep an eye on it. Pull it out when you think it looks like the perfect pizza to you. I like my cheese a bit on the well done side, so my finished pizza might not appeal to you, if you like yours cooked for less time. It’s all about customizing it to your own taste. That’s why you are making it at home. So you can get exactly what you want!

organic pizza dough

 

Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

  • 12 1/2 oz. organic all-purpose flour
  • 10 oz. organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 15 ounces water, room temperature

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water and yeast. In a large bowl, combine flours and salt. Mix flours and salt together well. Add the flour mixture to the yeast and water mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again on medium-low speed for 2 additional minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and work the dough into a smooth ball. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl turning to coat the dough on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, undisturbed area for 1 1/2 hours.

Move bowl of dough to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove dough from refrigerator at least 2 hours before you are ready to make pizza, to bring dough to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut dough into 4 or 6 equal pieces. Form your pizza crusts. Top with your favorite toppings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of your pizza and your own preferences. Remove from oven. Let cool 5 minutes. Cut and enjoy!