Grain Free Pesto Chicken Flatbread

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These are Oh. SO. Good.

And the best part is that they’re easy to make and look gorgeous. They work for a casual dinner or lunch with family or for a more special meal with guests –  paired with a big salad, a great bottle of wine, and a fresh sorbet for dessert.

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Grain Free Pesto Chicken Flatbread

*Makes 8 Flatbreads

1 Package of Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenders

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasoning Herbs

1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Few Grinds of Fresh Pepper

1 Package of Chebe Focaccia Mix

1 Egg

1/4 Cup of Avocado Oil

1/2 Cup of Water

8 Tablespoons of Vegan Pesto 

1 teaspoon of Sea Salt

16 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 of a Small Onion, thinly sliced

1 Cup of Chopped Baby Spinach

2 Cups of Goat Gouda Cheese

2 teaspoons of Italian Seasoning Herbs

1/4 Cup of Freshly Chopped Oregano

1/4 Cup of Freshly Chopped Basil

Marinara Sauce

Heat the 2 TBS of avocado oil in a medium skillet. Place thawed chicken in the skillet and sprinkle both sides with the Italian Seasoning, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Saute until done and set aside to cool. When cool, chop chicken, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line three baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Combine the Chebe Focaccia Mix, egg, 1/4 cup of avocado oil, and 1/2 cup of water and knead until smooth and dough is easily formed into a ball. You may need to flour hands (I use arrowroot). Cut the dough into 8 equal parts and pat out into rounds on the parchment covered baking sheets. Prebake the flatbread rounds for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Heat the marinara in a small sauce pan and simmer on low until you’re ready to serve the flatbread.

Spread a TBS (or more if you like) of the vegan pesto on each round. Using 1 teaspoon of Sea Salt, sprinkle each. Top with the chopped spinach, onions, chicken, and 4 tomato halves each. Top each flatbread with the cheese. Sprinkle with the Italian Seasoning. Bake for 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly bubbling on the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chopped fresh basil and oregano.

They also freeze well. I wrap mine individually with saran wrap and then store in a double bagged ziplock. To reheat, remove from plastic and thaw on counter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flatbreads on a parchment covered baking sheet and heat for 10-15 minutes.

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Sunday Cinnamon Rolls

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Just in time for your weekend.

The best gluten free and dairy free cinnamon rolls that will ever pass your lips!

Don’t be intimidated if you’re not necessarily a baker. These cinnamon rolls are really easy and the result will wow everyone in your family. Follow along with the directions and step by step photos below and I’ll walk you through the entire process.

Happy Baking!

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Cinnamon Rolls

*Makes 12

For The Dough:

4 Cups of Mama’s Almond Blend Flour  (plus more flour for rolling)

4 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

4 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

2 teaspoons of Baking Soda

1 1/4 teaspoons of Sea Salt

1 3/4 Tablespoons of SAF Instant Yeast

6 Tablespoons of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup Sugar (I used granulated white sugar but you can use coconut sugar – it will change the color of the rolls)

1 Cup of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I use Arroy-D)

1/2 Cup of Avocado Oil

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Scrape down the bowl and add the coconut milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Mix on medium until incorporated. It make look a little curdled, that is OK.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium for about 1 minute until fully incorporated.

Place a large sheet (or multiple sheets if you use the pre cut sheets – I use 4) of parchment on the counter and sprinkle with flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured parchment and pat lightly into a rectangle. Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin and roll out to about a 25×17 (approximately) rectangle. Top with filling below.

For The Filling:

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter (mash with fork to soften)

1 1/2 Cups of Dark Brown Sugar

2 3/4 Tablespoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

Couple Pinches of Sea Salt

Gently spread the softened but not melted butter across the entire top of the dough with the back of a large soup or serving spoon being careful not to tear the dough. (Once you soften it with a fork, it will be easy to spread with the back of a spoon) Sprinkle the brown sugar all over the top, spreading it out with your hand. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon across the top and then sprinkle with the sea salt.

Take the edge of the parchment closest to you and use it to roll up the edge of the dough. Continue rolling the dough using the parchment (but don’t allow the parchment to roll up into the dough!) until you have one large log. Pinch the ends of the dough shut and carefully go down the log squeezing it and making sure it’s uniform and the end edge is pinched or at least flat up against the rest of the dough.

Coat a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick spray. Slice the rolls (starting in the middle) into 12 somewhat even pieces. Place them in the treated pan and top each one with a little (about 1/4 teaspoon) dollop of dairy free butter.

Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a piece of plastic wrap and lay the sprayed side lightly over the top of the rolls. Cover with a light towel and set the rolls on top of the stove to rest for 45 minutes.

Remove the towel and plastic wrap. Don’t panic if they don’t look like they have risen, they will rise in the oven. Place on the middle rack and bake (I use convection) for about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

For The Frosting:

5 Cups of Powdered Sugar

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

3 1/2 Tablespoons of Pure Almond Extract

A Little Water for Spreading Consistency

This is just your typical powdered sugar frosting but flavored with almond extract rather than vanilla, very easy! Melt the butter and add it and the almond extract to the powdered sugar. Whisk to combine and add a little amount of water at a time (2 Tablespoons at a time) until the frosting whips smooth but spreadable and not too thin.

Top the rolls with the frosting. Let set for 30 minutes. You can serve them right away or they will stay fresh and delicious on the counter very lightly covered for up to 24 hours.

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Stray Thought Thursday ~ A Big Salad A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

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How’s your vegetable intake? Better than it used to be? Freaking fabulous? Or are you having a hard time trying to train yourself to like vegetables?

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(Purple cauliflower. Eat colors!)

Sometimes when we have to change our diets, or even when we choose to change up things to simply feel a bit healthier, we can get stuck with the same old same old. We have that idea of what a salad “should” look like and after a week of experiencing that with a low-fat vinaigrette or lemon juice, even dry rice cakes sound better than another salad.

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(Arugula, roasted onions, roasted mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, avocado, grilled chicken, white balsamic.)

I like food that is satisfying, full of flavor, and food that makes me feel like I’m sitting down to something meaningful that is not only healthy but tasty and nice to look at. There’s no excuse to eat a boring salad when there are so many choices!

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(Mixed vegetable salad, leftover grilled hamburger, roasted sweet potato, roasted beets, blue corn tortilla chips, and salsa.)

Maybe when you change your diet you have the mindset of eating like a “skinny” person? Skinny is not synonymous with healthy. A strong body with a strong immune system is a healthy body. Our bodies need proper fuel to build muscle, feed our brain, manage life, and to burn stored fat.

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(Micro greens, arugula, roasted mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, roasted purple sweet potatoes, roasted onions and garlic cloves, Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, roasted salmon, and white balsamic.)

For most of us, food is an important part of life. It’s not just simply energy. We gather with family and celebrate with food, it surrounds every holiday, and if you’re anything like my husband and I, it’s a huge part of every vacation and weekend getaway. Healthy food can be fun and it can be satisfying.

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(Micro greens, avocado, cucumber, cassava flour tortillas spread with TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, roasted chicken breast, sugar peas, TJ’s Balela Bean Salad.)

The only requirement is that you set aside that mindset of having a “before and after” life. Healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do for a while to fit into a pair of summer shorts or to temporarily please your cardiologist. If you look at dietary changes as a punishment or something short-term whether the changes are due to allergies or weight or cholesterol numbers, you’re going to be miserable and it will always be a struggle.

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(Mixed vegetable salad with TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, micro greens, roasted beets, Bubbie’s Fermented Sour Kraut, and green olives.)

Instead, think of your life full of fresh colorful vegetables and fruits as your “new norm”. Throw everything you thought a salad looked like out the window and fill that bowl with healthy foods that are packed with different flavors, colors, textures, and topped with a satisfying and flavorful dressing. There’s a reason why we all love looking at magazines and cookbooks with gorgeous food photos. Bloggers and photographers and chefs are not the only people capable of making beautiful and healthy food that people are excited to eat. Your plate can look like that too!

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(Romaine, spinach, roasted brussels, raw red cabbage, hard boiled eggs, green olives, raw red peppers, olive oil, and white balsamic.)

Don’t tell me you ‘don’t have the time’ to prepare a salad every day for lunch or to take 45 minutes here or there once a week to roast some veggies, or make some meatballs, boil some eggs, or roast a chicken or some salmon for healthy meal prep. It CAN be done. And you will love how you feel when you aren’t rushing to work snarfing down an egg mcmuffin and a Coke or a jelly filled doughnut and a cigarette – or heading to the vending machine at lunch to grab a snickers and a Mt Dew or even worse, skipping breakfast and lunch and living on energy drinks and coffee with 6 spoons of sugar.

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(Mixed vegetable salad with lemon & olive oil vinaigrette, roasted purple sweet potatoes, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, leftover sautéed mushrooms onions & garlic, and grass fed beef kielbasa.)

What you put into the body directly and dramatically affects what you (and others) get out of your body physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s time to shift the scales and balance properly. Healthy 95% of your week –  treats and special indulgences 10%. Most people have those numbers flipped and they are paying a very high price for their choices.

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(Romaine, spinach, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, roasted purple sweet potatoes, sliced and peeled english cucumber, raw red cabbage, roasted cauliflower, roasted beets, Bubbie’s Fermented Sour Kraut, baked meatballs.)

If you want to read an absolutely miraculous story about how healthy vegetables and fruits can heal a broken body, I would highly recommend Dr. Terry Wahls book “The Wahls Protocol”.  Dr. Wahls had severe MS and healed herself right out of a wheelchair with food. She talks all the time about the healing properties of food. She recommends great diet tweaks but the most important one is 9 cups of different varieties of vegetables and fruits a day. Two of those cups, colorful fruits and berries. It takes some serious mindfulness to get all of that on your plate throughout your day and it doesn’t leave much room for all the other junk you’re used to self medicating with. It won’t take long before you notice an incredible positive difference in how you feel. You can also watch a great talk she does on YouTube called Minding Your Mitochondria.

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(Romaine, chicken tomatoes peppers red cabbage onion and cilantro mixed with olive oil mayo and apple cider vinegar, avocado.)

Remember, if you get stuck, message me! I’m always here to support you and help with ideas and diet tweaks. Every one of these meals was made easily by me and if I can do it, you can do it!

Nine cups of vegetables and fruits a day is your “work up to” goal. Like most things in life, if we want to form a good habit we need to start small and be consistent. Start with 1 large salad a day and a piece of fruit and a cup of fresh berries. When you feel like you’ve got that down as a good daily habit, you can then start incorporating vegetables and fruits into every meal and snack. Sautéed spinach or kale and roasted vegetables with your eggs in the morning, baggies of fresh veggies with some pesto dip or humus for snacks, two kinds of vegetables with dinner – one step at a time, I have faith in you.

Scroll down for more salad ideas and some tips on roasting vegetables!

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(Romaine, spinach, micro greens, red onion, bell pepper, cucumber, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing, roasted new potatoes with olive oil sea salt rosemary thyme and oregano, leftover grilled steak.)

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(Mixed green salad with vegetables, white balsamic and olive oil, shredded roasted beets, avocado, steamed broccoli, and roasted sweet potatoes.)

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(Mixed vegetable salad with english cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and sliced sugar peas, tossed with and olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing lightly sweetened with coconut sugar.)

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(Skipjack tuna on top of spinach and arugula with olive oil and white balsamic, and sliced mandarin orange.)

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(Romaine, spicy shredded chicken red onion, tomatoes, chopped avocado, cilantro, and topped with salsa – not shown). 

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(Mixed vegetable salad, arugula, spinach, shredded chicken, sliced and peeled english cucumber, roasted purple sweet potato, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto, TJ’s Green Goddess Dressing.)

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(Micro greens, roasted cauliflower, roasted purple sweet potatoes, roasted beets, Balela Bean Salad, baked meatballs, TJ’s Vegan Kale & Basil Pesto.)

You’ll notice there’s a lot of roasted vegetables in my life. I love them and roasting them brings out such amazing, satisfying flavors and textures. The best part is that roasting  is incredibly easy and it keeps well in the fridge so you can add whatever you’ve roasted to numerous meals throughout the week.

For basic vegetable roasting I line a pan (or two or three) with parchment paper. The parchment is my preference because I don’t want to waste a half hour scrubbing pans when I’m done. I typically drizzle the veggies with olive oil or avocado oil and season them with sea salt and either fresh herbs or dried herbs. I roast them at 425 degrees (I use convection) until they are fork tender (or a little crispy on the edges for potatoes). Feel free to experiment! Remember though, different types of vegetables have different roasting times so keep an eye on them. Zucchini roasts very quickly and will get mushy if you overcook it, as does asparagus and the tips will burn if left for too long. Broccoli doesn’t like high roasting temperatures so I’d turn that down to 375 degrees and cut them small -ish.

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(Beets, cauli, and sliced purple sweet potato headed into the oven.)

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(You can roast meatballs too! These are grass fed ground beef, 1 egg, sea salt, pepper, and diced onions, peppers, garlic, and chopped spinach.)

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(Sliced purple sweet potatoes, cauli, onions, mushrooms, and brussels.)

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(Roasted squash and sliced sweet potatoes. Brushed with avocado oil and sea salt and roasted open side down. If you roast open side down they retain more moisture and caramelize.)

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(Tri color potatoes headed into the oven for a roast.)

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(Cubed sweet potatoes, purple cauli, and brussels, ready to roast.)

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(Acorn squash roasted open side up with dairy free soy free butter, coconut sugar, and sea salt.)

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(Roasted zucchini – cut thick if you’re going to roast it with other veggies because it roasts quickly, red onion, yellow beets, mushrooms, yellow bell pepper, and cauli.)

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(Roasted tri color beets.)

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(New potatoes and asparagus headed in for a roast.)

If you’d like more daily inspiration you can follow me on Instagram where I post a lot of our weekly meals, juicing, smoothies, and special treats. 

 

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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I made these delicious cookies a couple of weeks ago but wasn’t sure they’d turn out, so didn’t take any photos…

I was very pleased when they did end up turning out perfectly but by the time they came out of the oven, I was out of daylight and wasn’t about to give you a photograph with hideous kitchen lighting. I do have a light box but it’s in the basement and it’s big and somewhat laborious to set up – and I guess the real story is that we just wanted to sit around eating cookies instead of taking photos of them.

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Now that the long weekend has come to an end and life has quieted down, today was the perfect day to test them again and make sure I had some daylight for photographs.

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They turned out just as well as the first batch and I love their flavor and texure. I don’t eat oats often so when I splurge, I only settle for the best possible treat.

They’re versatile too. You could just do chocolate chips or chocolate pieces if you’re not into raisins. Or, you could add dried cherries instead of raisins. You could also do a variety of dried fruits, you could add your favorite nuts, and if white chocolate doesn’t give you issues…well, white chocolate chunks and dried cherries in these would be to die for. The options are all up to you so have fun!

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes About 15 Cookies

1 Cup of Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

3/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 Cups of Bob’s Redmill Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats

3/4 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

1/2 Cup of Earth Balance Soy Free Dairy Free Butter

1 Organic Egg

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup of Organic Raisins

Add dry ingredients (except raisins) to a medium bowl and whisk to combine – set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter (about 2 minutes). Scrape down sides and add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until fully incorporated and creamy. Scrape down sides. Turn mixer to the “stir” setting and add the dry ingredients. Stir until fully incorporated. Add the raisins and mix until combined. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I do all of my baking and cooking with convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment and place spoonfuls of the dough onto the sheets. About 2 Tablespoons each. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, and cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Grain Free Spinach Tortillas

2018-05-02 16.11.04A few weeks ago I tried to make the plain tortillas on the back of the Otto’s Cassava Flour bag, they were really dry and I had to keep adding liquid. The final product was stiff and not so appetizing.

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This time I tried more oil and water and I also wanted to add some more nutrition and color with the spinach.

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The result was a much smoother dough that was easy to work with. After kneading it I covered it with a damp paper towel to make sure I didn’t lose any moisture when it came time to roll it.

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I tried a few different ways of rolling but the tried and true method of rolling out tortillas between parchment worked the best. If you’re using the sheets like I did, you can stack them and cut them in half. I’m sure you could also use a tortilla press but I would be mindful of the plastic wrap and either go without and lightly flour the press or lightly flour the plastic wrap.

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Get them all rolled out first rather than rolling and cooking one at a time. You’ll be working with a very hot pan and it will get too hot if you roll between cooking tortillas.

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I haven’t perfected my rolling technique to have perfectly round edges yet – but I really like the rustic look after they’re cooked.

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Wait for it to bubble and it should slide around in the pan when it’s cooked on the underside when you tip and swirl the pan.

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The first time I tried making homemade tortillas I learned the hard way not to use a plastic spatula for flipping. I had melted plastic all over the pan! I have special directions in the recipe below.

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Loved the texture and they also got two thumbs up from the hubby.

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Grain Free & Dairy Free Spinach Tortillas 

*Makes about 8 Tortillas

1 1/2 Cups of Otto’s Cassava Flour

1 1/2 Cups of Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves

1/4 Cup of Water

1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt

5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup of Water

Puree the baby spinach and 1/4 Cup of water in a blender or NutriBullet. Whisk the sea salt and flour together and add the pureed spinach, olive oil, and 1/2 cup of water. Knead until completely smooth. Cover with a damp paper towel and set aside.

Cut 16 pieces of parchment paper (for rolling the tortillas). Split the dough into 8 somewhat equal pieces, form into balls, and place in the middle of a sheet of parchment. Press down the dough ball with your palm to form a flattened circle then cover the top with another piece of parchment and roll out into a thin circle. Continue with the remaining dough.

Heat a medium stainless steel or cast iron skillet on medium high (no oil). Hold the tortilla (in its paper) on your hand and flip it over. Loosen the bottom sheet first then flip back over and carefully remove the top parchment sheet (if you rub it lightly all over with your hand, it will peel off more easily). Holding the tortilla with the bottom parchment sheet, flip it into the hot pan. When it begins to bubble, life the edge and check to see if it is slightly browned on the underside. It should also slide pretty easily in the hot pan when it is ready to flip. **DO NOT use a plastic spatula to flip the tortillas because it will melt and leave streaks of plastic in your pan. Use a flat wooden spatula or you can also slide a butter knife under the tortilla and hold the top with your other hand to flip it.

Remove the cooked tortillas to a cooling rack to cool or tortilla holder if you’re serving them immediately and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.

**For the tortilla in the header picture, I mixed some garlic and herb goat cheese with a little olive oil mayo, and pepper – poached some boneless skinless chicken tenders, and then added micro greens, onion, broccoli, and bell pepper and rolled the tortillas with a folded piece of parchment so they were easy to hold and eat.

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Stray Thought Thursday – Stepping Out Of Survival Mode

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Welcome to Stray Thought Thursday, a new addition to the blog! Every now and then I’ll be posting about health and lifestyle information, subjects we talk about behind the scenes in your messages (anonymously of course) that I think would be helpful to others, and just some stray thoughts I think you may find helpful or interesting. If there’s something specific you’d like me to focus on in one of my Stray Thought Thursday posts, shoot me a message and I’ll do my best! 

Stepping Out of Survival Mode

Ever feel like you get caught in that endless loop of survival? I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Some of us more than others. Or maybe you’re so caught up in the mode, you don’t realize that’s what you’re experiencing? Slowing down causes reflection and reflection makes you think. That kind of slow living and deep thinking comes with a lot of emotions and baggage attached. So you stay busy instead. Busy, busy, BUSY, until your body, finally out of sheer disgust with you says, “Enough is enough!”

Commence crash and burn.

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Survival mode usually starts because we’re burning the candle at both ends, juggling too much, or there’s an undercurrent of worry or fear running in the background about one thing or another that we dread dealing with. It’s all about control, isn’t it? Fear of lack of control or fear of too much control over things we don’t want control over. When we’re sick, overworked, injured, dealing with life issues –  we don’t want to give in to it so we push further when we should be resting. When we’re upset, that feeling is uncomfortable so we distract ourselves – social media, food, Netflix, friends, hobbies, or we disconnect from the world. When something needs to be addressed but communication is an issue with that person, we cram it down not wanting to rock the boat and add more stress to our lives – which of course, has the same result if not worse in the long run. On the flip side, when certain issues arise whether they’re ours to own or not, we jump into fix it mode because the reality of just living with the outcome of no solutions to a problem – are often hard to wrap our minds around.

Any of this sound familiar? You don’t have to have major issues going on in your life to get caught up in survival mode. Maybe there’s just a consistent stream of little things running like a current under the surface that wear you down?

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Survival mode inevitably starts to feel like running around with a back pack full of all the heavy stuff.  Stress, anxiety, overwhelm, exhaustion, and dread. You lug that pack everywhere with you even though the straps are digging into your shoulders, your back is sweating, and the weight of it is pulling you backward. You shower with it, work with it, relationship with it, eat with it, and go to bed with it. When more things to deal with pile on, you simply unzip it and stuff them in to handle at “a later date” weighing you down further.

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That backpack also comes with your special hiking frenemy – nervous energy. Let’s call it Zippy. Zippy is fueled by stress, nightly tossing and turning, rash decisions, refined sugar, and too much caffeine or booze or both – all the things you know break your body down, but Zippy talks you into anyway. Initially Zippy makes you feel like a rock star, cheering you on with that buzz of energy. “You’ve GOT THIS! No problem. You can handle THIS!” Zippy runs alongside convincing you that you’re just fine with that pack… that will eventually bring you to your knees.

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You’re on Zippy’s high until suddenly you’re not, and that bottoming out is a harsh one. You crash and burn on that trail to nowhere. The straps finally split from the weight of everything you’ve been avoiding and you’re left with bloody shins, bruised knees, and scraped up palms.

That’s when you’re reminded Zippy is more enemy than friend. You try to stand up but you’re legs feel like wet noodles and you’re drenched in the sweaty stench of bad decisions. Wired and tired, exhausted but jumpy, you realize you’ve been duped. There you are, swirling around at the bottom of, “Why do I do this to myself?”

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Where do you go from there? First, Zippy and everything it promotes, gets the boot. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, Zippy!

Mindfulness is where we need to be focused every waking moment of every day in order to avoid the survival mode trap. Aware of our diets, how much movement we’re getting, how we are feeling about our mushy insides that we try so hard to protect, what messages are running through our heads behind the scenes, the state of our relationships and friendships, and most importantly, awareness about where we are in life. Are we experiencing joy? Peace? Fulfillment? Health? Are we voicing our gratefuls every day? There is no such thing as the perfect life in every area,  but if you can’t say yes to all of those questions above on at least a semi regular basis – you’re in survival mode and your one and only fantastic life, isn’t being lived.

I know, I hear you!  Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing you need to be more mindful. It’s such a trendy buzz word these days. We’re so used to seeing it on our path  we just jump right over it on our way to bad decisions. If ‘mindfulness’ bothers you, we can switch it out with Awareness, or Watchfulness, or my personal favorite found on Dictionary.com – Gingerliness!

Let’s go through life Gingerly shall we?

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The definition of gingerly is ‘with great care or cautious manner; delicately‘. Let’s do life with great care. Great care by paying attention to what serves our health and spiritual well-being, even when we are in the midst of ongoing stress, a seemingly impossible situation, or a crisis. Let’s remember to stay on track no matter what life throws at us large or small. Let’s do life with a cautious manner by avoiding negative old patterns of escapism and survival mode. By ditching unhealthy relationships – unhealthy foods and eating patterns- unhealthy choices – and ALL situations that do not serve us or the ones we love, our goals, or our health.

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Let’s live life delicately. Taking deep breaths, being truly present, minimizing chaos, seeking things to be grateful for, responding to life rather than reacting, speaking from the heart, learning how to let go, ditching validation, and filling our cups with the exact opposite of just surviving.

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 Repeat after me, “I will live my one life with great care. With a cautious manner, paying attention to what feeds me and makes me whole, physically and spiritually. I will live – gingerly“.

You were not created to live life in survival mode.

Blessings of peace to you ~ Gluten Free Zen

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All photos taken by me in the beautiful Methow Valley. 

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

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These gluten free and dairy free rolls are my all time favorite! Everything about them from texture to taste is perfect thanks to My Gluten Free Kitchen. I’ve been using Michelle’s recipe for several years and it never disappoints! They are delicious with dairy free butter, jam, dipped in soup or stew or gravy, used as a sandwich bun, and I’ve even sliced them and popped them in the toaster for breakfast.

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Gluten-Free Pull Apart Dinner Rolls

(One batch recipe makes 9 rolls, if you want to double it you’ll need to also increase the flour by 1/4 – 1/2 cup)

2 3/4 Cups Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons of SAF Instant Yeast

1/4 Cup Sugar (I have also used coconut sugar but it darkens the color of the rolls)

1 1/2 teaspoon of Salt (I use sea salt & add 1/2 teaspoon to her original 1 teaspoon)

1 Cup of Warm Water

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter (I use Earth Balance Soy Free)

1 Egg

1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

In the mixing bowl of your electric mixer, mix together flour, xanthan gum, instant yeast, sugar, and salt. With mixer running on low speed, add in the water, melted butter (or substitute), egg, and cider vinegar. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. The batter will be very soft. 

Spray 8″ or 9″ round cake pan or pie plate with cooking spray. Using a 2″ scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop dough into 9 mounds in the pan. I place one mound in middle, then scoop 8 mounds of dough side by side all the way around the pan.

Dip your fingertips into warm water and use to smooth out the tops of the rolls, continuing to wet fingers as needed. Cover with a dry towel (I spray a sheet of plastic wrap and lay that lightly over the rolls with a towel on top) and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes to 1 hour.

During the last few minutes that the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 400°. Bake in 400° oven for 26-28 minutes. Tops should be golden brown and if you measure temperature of dough, it should measure 200°. Brush rolls with additional 1/2-1 Tablespoon of melted butter (I omit this step).

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

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This casserole is very easy to make and you can use any combination of cheeses, herbs, and seasonings you like. I went with goats and sheep’s milk cheeses because cow dairy doesn’t agree with me. I also omitted the typical sour cream in a potato casserole for obvious reasons but after some thought, have decided the next time I make this that I’ll try a home made high fat dairy free plain yogurt and see how that works as a stand in for sour cream. I’ll let you know!

There are also other potato options you could try. You can use packaged frozen hashed browns if you don’t want to go through the process of baking the potatoes first and then scooping out the filling. I’ve also seen recipes where they cube and bake the potatoes. I like mine to seem more like a mashed potato casserole with some chunky potato texture, so I prefer to use baked potatoes and do a light mash.

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Even though I forgot to take pictures of everything coming out of the oven and the food on the table on Easter, I did manage a shot of the table and a shot of a little bit of all of the leftovers the next day. Next time I’ll have to write myself a note to remember to take food photos!

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I absolutley love 2nd day leftovers for breakfast, and clearly that morning my priority was the cherry fluff.

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Twice Baked Potato Casserole

10 Large Russet Potatoes Washed and Wrapped in Foil, baked

About 3/4 Cup Dairy Free Milk, heated (I used diluted full fat coconut milk)

3 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced or grated

3 Tablespoons of Mixed Herbs (I used oregano, rosemary, and a little thyme)

3 Heaping Cups of Cheese (I used goat cheddar, goat gouda, and Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese)

5 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

Sea Salt & Ground Pepper to taste

6 Slices of Crispy Bacon

1/2 Cup of Green Onions, sliced

Bake and cool the potatoes. Scoop potato meat out of skins into a large bowl. Add the heated coconut milk and 3 Tablespoons of butter and lightly mash the potatoes.

Spray a 13×9 inch casserole dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fold in the 3 heaping cups of cheese, the garlic and herbs, and season generously with sea salt and ground pepper. Dollop the top with the 5 Tablespoons of butter. Transfer to the casserole dish and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes. While the casserole is baking, slice the onions and fry the crispy bacon (or you could prepare the bacon the day ahead like I did).

Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the onions and bacon. 

Cherry Fluff Salad

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I made this for Christmas with cranberries and with cherries for Easter and it got rave reviews both times. Everyone loves a traditional “fluff” salad that takes us back to holiday meals at Grandma’s house.

Cherry Fluff Salad

16 ounces of Pitted Dark Cherries, thawed & drained

8 ounce can of Crushed Pineapple, drained

1 Cup of Sugar

2 Cups of Mini Marshmallows

6 ounces of Soft Goat or Sheep’s Milk Cheese

1 Tablespoon of Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

2 Cups of Sweetened Vanilla Coconut Milk Whipped Cream (I make this the night before so it has time to really chill and set up. Some coconut water will separate, just pour it off before folding the whipped cream into the other fluff ingredients)

Chop the thawed, drained, cherries and toss them in a small bowl with the drained pineapple and 1 cup of sugar, chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Drain off excess juice.

While the fruit is chilling, bring the goat cheese to room temperature. Beat the cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1 TBS of sugar until smooth and fluffy. 

Remove the coconut milk whipped cream that’s been in the fridge chilling over night and drain off excess coconut water. Fold the cheese and whipped cream together carefully. Don’t overwork it. Fold in the fruit mixture and marshmallows and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Easter Breeze

2018-03-31 15.35.06Easter weekend has come and gone and still, our typically warm spring is nowhere to be found! At least the Robins have arrived so we there’s some guarantee that warmer weather is around the corner.

We were hoping to have our Easter meal, or at least cocktails out on the patio with a nice fire this year but the weather didn’t cooperate. But high winds and a nip in the air didn’t stop me from going ahead with a fun spring cocktail.

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Easter Breeze

2 Large Whole Pineapples (peeled & juiced or you can use store bought pineapple juice – about 20 ounces)

15 ounces of Organic Pure Cranberry Juice

2 Limes (one for rim slices and one sliced for the cocktail mix)

15 ounces of Ciroc Vodka (more or less depending on how strong you like your cocktails)

Sparkling Apple Cider

Sea Salt & Sugar For Glass Rims

Make this cocktail mix the night before serving so the flavors have time to come together. Juice the pineapple and add the cranberry juice, lime slices, and vodka. Refrigerate over night. Rim the cocktail glasses with the sugar and sea salt mixture and a slice of lime. Fill the glass 3/4 full and top with a little sparkling apple cider.

Had to have a little taste test before the mix went into the fridge for the night.

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Pomegranate Crunch Salad

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Well, in true form I forgot (once again) to take photos of all of the Easter food when it hit the table. I did take some photos as I was going along on IG and did a few Stories, but as for “professionally” staged and delicious looking photos…I’m sorry to say there aren’t any. So bear with me on my next few blog posts as I present to you pictures of leftovers so that I can at least get the recipes we love to you and you have an idea of what they look like. The leftover photos don’t do them justice of course, but I can promise you that I never share anything with you that I don’t absolutely love.

Pomegranate Crunch Salad

1 Package of Brussels Sprouts, bottoms trimmed, peeled, and sliced (About 2 Cups)

1 1/2 Cups of Red Cabbage, thinly sliced then cut in half

1/2 Cup of Parsley, chopped

1/2 Cup of Green Onion, chopped

1 Large Honey Crisp or Gala Apple, cored and cubed

1/2 Cup of Pomegranate Seeds

(For The Dressing)

1 Avocado

Zest of 1 Large Lemon

Juice of 1 Large Lemon

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil Mayo

1/2 Cup of Fresh Parsley

1 Small Knob of Fresh Ginger

2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tablespoons of Raw Honey

A Few Grinds of Pepper

Pinch of Sea Salt

Toss all of the salad ingredients together and chill while making the dressing. In a blender or NutriBullet, add all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing and let chill for 1 hour before serving. 

 

 

Cranberry Pepita Bread

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This makes a really delicious, dense, loaf of semi-sweet bread. My husband doesn’t like nuts in his food so I had it all to myself. He really missed out!

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One day I had it with breakfast topped with dairy free butter and raw honey. The next day I toasted it and topped it with sliced avocado. The other afternoon I was craving something sweet so I toasted it and topped it with dairy free butter and a little bit of raspberry jam. Another day, I ate it plain with a salad. It’s very versatile. And of course, you can add any fruit and nut/seed combo you like. Or all fruits or all nuts, or chocolate, or dried ginger, you could add cacao to the recipe to make it really dark and chocolaty, or you could also lower the coconut sugar and make it savory with herbs and garlic.

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It’s egg free, grain free, refined sugar free, and dairy free. I’m going to work on more egg free, limited ingredient breads over the next couple of months. Most of us with food allergens have the basics on hand but I really love a simple, delicious recipe that we can whip up easily whenever we get the craving.

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Cranberry Pepita Bread

2/3 Cup of Arrowroot

1 Cup of Chestnut Flour

3/4 Cup of Coconut Flour

2 teaspoons of Xanthan Gum

3 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 teaspoons of Cinnamon

3 Tablespoons of Active Yeast

1/2 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

3 Tablespoons of Grass Fed Gelatin

1 Cup of Warm Water

1 Tablespoon of Vinegar

1 Cup of Organic Dried Cranberries

1/2 Cup of Raw Pepitas

(You’ll need parchment paper and a dutch oven for this recipe.)

Cut two pieces of parchment to line a medium bowl and set aside.

In an electric mixer whisk the arrowroot, chestnut flour, coconut flour, xanthan, baking powder, coconut sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, and yeast to combine. Work the butter through until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Measure the cup of water and add the gelatin into the water mixing quickly with a fork so it doesn’t clump. Microwave for 30 seconds. Add the gelatin mixture and the vinegar to the dry mixture. Beat on medium for 1 minute scraping down sides once or twice. Fold in the cranberries and pepitas.

Lightly form the dough into a ball and place in the parchment lined bowl. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees, cover the bowl with a light towel and set it on top of the stove to rise for 1 hour. At the 30 minute mark, place your dutch oven in the oven with the lid on. If the lid handle isn’t metal, remove the handle by unscrewing it.

At the 1 hour mark, carefully pull the rack out and remove the dutch oven lid. Set it somewhere safe because it will be HOT. Pick up the sides of the parchment and transfer the dough and the parchment to the dutch oven and replace the lid.

Bake for 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove bread to cooling rack before slicing.

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