It turns out that I’m not the only one that needs an onion ring every now and then. For those of us who can’t eat gluten and dairy, craving breaded fried foods can pose a problem. As you already know, that’s my goal here on this blog. Proving to people that an allergen free life doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. While it may be a problem finding these types of foods when you’re eating out, it’s not a problem if you’re willing to make them at home.
Sometimes, it’s just necessary to eat comfort food and enjoy an onion ring…or 10. It’s as simple as that. Just like every now and then, I need a piece of cake for breakfast…but that’s a story for another time.
I hadn’t planned on posting this so I don’t have any prep or process photos and the photos I do have are lacking excitement…or so I thought. I posted a couple pictures of last night’s dinner on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page and on Instagram and received a few messages asking for the recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe. There’s a few steps involved, but once you get that down, making them at home is worth every. single. bite.
Gluten Free Dairy Free Onion Rings
*You’ll need a dutch oven or deep fryer and a deep fry/candy thermometer, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or tin foil if you don’t want an oily mess, and 2 cooling racks that will fit on top of the baking sheets. You will also need a large slotted spoon or tongs.
50.7 ounces of Avocado Oil (About 1 1/2 bottles of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil, I buy mine at Costco)
5 Medium to Large Sweet Onions (Peeled and sliced save middles for something else)
3 plus 1 Cups of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend)
3 Tablespoons of Arrowroot
3 teaspoons of Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon of Sea Salt plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper
3 teaspoons of Bragg’s Seasoning
2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar
1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Beer (I used Green’s Amber Ale the dark ale would work well too)
1 Cup of Perrier (or any sparkling mineral water)
1 Large Egg
Pour the oil into the dutch oven, insert the thermometer, turn the burner on medium or slightly higher, and heat to between 325-350 degrees. This will take some time.
(It’s easiest if you set up an ingredients “station” right next to the stove top.)
While the oil is heating measure the flour, arrowroot, garlic, sea salt, cayenne, Bragg’s, and sugar into a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. Dredge all of the onion slices in the larger amount of flour mixture and set aside on a paper towel or plate.
In a medium bowl combine the beer, sparkling water, and egg. Pour into the larger mixture of flour and whisk to combine.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the prepared baking sheets in the oven.
Once the oil reaches temperature:
Remove the thermometer. Take an onion and dip in the liquid flour mix, then dredge quickly in the smaller dry reserved flour mix, dip quickly one more time into the liquid mix and then put into the oil. Repeat with 6-7 slices at a time but don’t overcrowd. I let the oil heat up a bit more between each wave of onions. The onion rings won’t brown as much as traditional onion rings. Allow to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the onion slices are. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs onto the racks and season with more sea salt. Try a piece (or two) from the first batch and see if they’re crispy to your liking, then you can adjust the cooking time from there. Keep warm in the oven. Serve as soon as all the onions are done.
Olive oil mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. I use about 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Amount will depend on how seasoned you like yours and how many people you’re feeding.
I sat down the other day and got myself organized.
I don’t know how you feel about organization. For me, it’s imperative. When things get too out of hand, I don’t like it. I’m not one of those who thrives on chaos.
An organized environment helps foster an organized and calm internal environment. For me anyway. I try to organize things here and there a couple times a week. I find it easier to keep up on as I go, instead of ending up dealing with a great big mess.
This week I focused on putting some menus together and gathering up some blogging ideas.
I had recipe ideas and menu ideas in piles, numerous note pages on my phone, ideas scratched on pieces of scrap paper, notes on napkins, recipes torn out of magazines that I wanted to tweak gluten free and dairy free… Organized piles, but piles none the less.
Then, when I would want to come up with something different to cook for dinner, it was too overwhelming to deal with all that and I began slipping right back into the same-o same-o meals. Even food bloggers get in a rut.
I put together 12 or so weeks of dinner menus to choose from, summer cocktails I’d like to try, dessert ideas, side dish ideas, and sweet and savory blog ideas all in a nice binder that I am now keeping in the pantry.
Handy, easy, and organized.
Just that small act of organization which probably took roughly 2 hours because I had several piles, made me feel tremendously better and added a big dose of peace to my evening mealtime prep.
There are days when I’ve used up all my energy throughout the day and when dinner hits, I’m not in the mood to come up with something innovative and fabulous. Having things figured out somewhat ahead of time, helps.
Now at the end of each week I’ll grab the binder, choose a few menus and jot down my shopping list. When the new week hits I have all the groceries available for those menus, I can choose which one I want to cook depending on my energy level each night, and there’s barely any hassle at all that goes into it. It gives us the opportunity to try new things and makes dinner exciting again.
When I get close to running out of menus, I’ll sit down and replenish with new menu ideas. I’m often writing them down and tearing ideas out of magazines, so replenishing will never be an issue. Also, I can set aside the menus we really liked and make a “favorites” tab in the binder for future use.
We used my grain free, dairy free, dinner rolls for buns – you can find the recipe HERE. Other good options would be a lettuce wrap as a bun, or an Udi’s gluten free hamburger bun. They hold together pretty well. You could also sandwich the chicken burger with two grilled portobellos or stack it with avocado slices. Lots of options!
South Of The Border Chicken Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Makes 8 burgers
*Preheat oven to 425 degrees
About 1.7 lbs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 teaspoons of Cumin Powder
1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
2 oz (about 1/2 can) of Mild Green Chilies
3 Sun Dried Tomatoes (the ones packed in oil)
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Large Clove of Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of Avocado Oil
In a food processor (you can also use ground chicken and just chop and mix ingredients in), add all the ingredients and pulse several times. Then turn on low until all ingredients are incorporated (see picture above). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon 8 mounds of chicken onto the parchment and lightly form into a patty. Set aside.
Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
I have found that one large sweet potato works well for 2 of us. Adjust accordingly.
1 Large Sweet Potato, cut into 1/8 to 1/4 inch sticks
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sweet Potato Flour
About 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato sticks with sea salt and garlic powder, be generous. Then toss with the sweet potato flour until all the sticks are lightly coated. Drizzle with the avocado oil and season and toss again until coated. Line them on the parchment covered baking sheet leaving a bit of room between them to allow for crisping.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven and flip. Place them back into the oven along with the chicken burgers. Bake the chicken burgers for 15-17 minutes. Keep an eye on the sweet potato fries, if you feel they are becoming too dark, remove them and continue cooking the burgers.
*I cut up red onion, tomato, and lettuce as toppings. Also, the last couple minutes of baking, I topped a couple of the burgers with Daiya Jalapeno “Cheese”.
While the burgers and fries are cooking, make the sauces:
Cilantro Lime Sauce
3/4 Cup Mayo
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Cilantro
1 Small Clove of Garlic
1 teaspoon of Oregano
Juice of 1 Lime
2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar
Pinch of Chili Powder
Pinch of Sea Salt
I used a Nutribullet to mix mine together but a blender would work fine too. Just add all the ingredients and mix.
Spicy Sweet Potato Red Sauce
This is the easiest sauce to make! We love it on sweet potato fries and beef burgers too. I haven’t ever measured, I just eyeball it and fit it to our spice preference which is very spicy.
If I had to guess I’d say 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a couple Tablespoons of the Sriracha sauce. SO tasty!
I’ve heard from numerous people that they’re afraid to use their Instant Pot.
I can tell you firsthand, there’s nothing scary about using the Instant Pot. It is absolutely SIMPLE! I mean truly, an 8 year old could run it.
Seriously people, I’m not joking.
It’s self-contained, self-regulating, easy to run, easy to understand, unbelievably convenient, extremely easy to clean, and it’s completely safe.
It’s not at all like the old pressure cookers so please stop fretting and start enjoying what will become your new favorite kitchen appliance.
My experience has been great and it makes my life so much easier! There are many times when I use up the relatively small amount of energy I have during the day and when it comes to dinner time, I’d rather just get in the bathtub and go to bed and read.
Kind of like the last few days. I’ve been working on granola gifts and body care gifts and last night I was incredibly thankful to make one pot spaghetti sauce in roughly 8 hours less than it would take normally.
Eight hours less…that should be music to anyone’s ears.
The sauce only takes 20 minutes to cook, the bread 35 minutes, and the GF pasta noodles 15 minutes. Easy, easy, easy.
Prep for everything was maybe 25 minutes. The bread and sauce cook at the same time and the pasta cooks the last 15 minutes.
The sauce was rich and thick and tasted like it’d been simmering all day. My husband and I both kept remarking on how fantastic it tasted.
And the best part….it was a wonderful meal that I didn’t have to spend all day keeping my eye on or fussing over.
Absolutely Simple & Safe Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce & Grain Free Flatbread
For The Sauce:
1 lb of Organic Ground Italian Sausage
1 lb of Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef
1/2 of an Organic Medium Onion, diced
2 Jars of Your Favorite Organic GF Spaghetti Sauce
1 6oz Can of Organic Tomato Paste
1 8 oz Carton of Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
3 Tablespoons of Organic Vegan Pesto
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano
2 Large Cloves of Organic Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt, plus a bit more for seasoning when done
For The Olive Oil & Herb Spread:
About 1/4 Cup Organic Unfiltered Olive Oil
4 Cloves of Organic Garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons of Dried Organic Oregano
1 teaspoons of Dried Organic Basil
1 teaspoon of Dried Organic Rosemary
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt
For the Flatbread:
2 Boxes of Chebe Foccacia Bread Mix
4 Organic Eggs
5 Tablespoons of Organic Unfiltered Olive Oil
3/4 Cup of Filtered Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle
For the Pasta:
I used Tinkyada brown rice spaghettie noodles. You can also do zoodles. You can go here for how to make zuchinni noodles AKA – zoodles.
Step #1: Place the entire Instant Pot on top of your stove under the vent fan. Click the saute button and brown the ground sausage, beef, and onion. Remove the entire Instant Pot from the top of the stove and place on your counter. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
Step #2: Make the olive oil mix in a small bowl and set aside.
Step #3: Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Make the flatbread – Pour the ingredients of both boxes into a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil, water, and seasoning and stir with a fork until wet. Knead with hand until relatively smooth and in a ball. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Pat each piece into a circle on the lined baking sheet. Brush generously with olive oil mixture.
Step #4: Fill a pot with water and sea salt and turn on to boil for gluten free spaghetti noodles (or you can do zoodles).
Step #5: Put the flatbread in the oven (bake for 35 minutes), secure the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Press the manual button and set timer for 20 minutes.
step #6: Add spaghetti noodles to water and boil to aldente.
Step #7: When the flatbread is done, brush again with the remaining olive oil mixture. Drain pasta, let steam out of the Instant Pot if it hasn’t already regulated itself, and serve!
According to Dr. Terry Wahls who healed her Progressive MS with a nutrient dense diet that she specifically designed for her mitochondria and her brain, we should be eating 6-9 cups of leafy greens and colorful vegetables per day. Per DAY. The largest part of our diet should be vegetables. Many people don’t eat 6-9 servings of vegetables in a week.
In fact, here’s a visual of what most American’s yearly diets look like. And don’t let the vegetable category fool you. The most highly consumed vegetables among most Americans are corn and potatoes, which are actually considered a starch, not a vegetable.
Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with MS in 2000, by 2003 she was at stage 2 on heavy duty drugs including chemotherapy to fight the MS. The medications and therapy didn’t help and she continued to get worse. Slowly, each night after seeing patients all day, she began to research and read everything she could get her hands on that involved MS. She started researching vitamins and nutrients that were important to the brain and overall health and began integrating them into her diet. Then, in 2007 she discovered functional medicine and redesigned her diet. She used the knowledge she had from medical school, what she had learned in medical literature, through functional medicine, and through her research of nutrients to design a specific diet where she could get the majority of the nutrients necessary for healing through food. This diet is now called the Wahls Protocol. She was in a reclining wheelchair and headed for a life in bed when she started that diet in 2007. Within one year, she was able to walk through the hospital where she was a physician without a cane, and even complete an 18 mile bicycle tour.
Why do we need such a nutrient dense diet? Why can’t we just pop a few vitamins and continue on with unhealthy eating or eating like “normal”? Well, let’s talk about our mitochondria. According to Harvard Medical School, “In some way, just about every cellular process is linked to mitochondria. Malfunctioning mitochondria have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even resistance to radiation therapy. There’s also a set of rare, inborn metabolic diseases that stem from genetic changes that alter the function of mitochondrial proteins.”
Your mitochondria need a certain type and a certain amount of nutrients to function properly. If your mitochondria isn’t healthy and being fed what it needs to perform its job, then you aren’t healthy either. The mitochondria in your cells manage the energy supply for your cells. Dr. Wahls chooses to get the majority of her nutrients directly from the food she eats. She feels that although we know some things about the benefits of fruits and vegetables to our bodies, we don’t know about all of the benefits we’re getting from eating whole foods. Her theory was why take a supplement with one nutrient or a synthetic form, rather than eat the actual food and get all of the nutrients naturally?
If you haven’t read Dr. Wahls book, I would highly recommend it. Not only is her story quite amazing, it’s inspiring and you’ll learn valuable information about how to feed your body well and heal it naturally.
I have a few different ways I try to integrate as many vegetables as possible into my diet. My favorite routes are via smoothies, salads, and large batches of roasting. All are extremely simple and an excellent way to get multiple servings of vegetables in one meal. I also saute a lot of vegetables for our meals. If we’re eating something that can have a vegetable added, I add it. We eat vegetables with every lunch and every dinner and the majority of our breakfasts. If you’re new to eating large quantities of vegetables, I would start with 1-2 cups a day via salad. Then the next week add a cup and so on until you are able to consume 6-9 cups a day with no intestinal issues. Your body will adapt very quickly. Make big salads and trays of roasted vegetables to keep in the fridge for easy snacking. Keep fresh sliced carrots, celery, broccoli and other vegetables you like in small batches in baggies so they’re easy to grab on the go. 6-9 cups of vegetables may sound like a lot, but over time it will become habit and your body will crave them. In fact, you’ll find yourself on many days easily eating that amount without even a thought about it.
Simple Roasted Vegetable Lunch
Organic Red Cabbage
Organic Carrots, unpeeled
Organic Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
Organic Ginger, peeled and sliced
Organic Olive Oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
The quantity will depend on how many people you’re serving. But know that if this is my entire lunch meal, I can eat at least 1/3 of a baking sheet of roasted veggies! So if you have people with a big appetite for veggies, it’s always better to make more than you think you’ll need. They refrigerate and re-heat nicely and are also good cold.
Slice vegetables so that they are all relatively the same size. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Load with the veggies, ginger, and garlic cloves. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and sea salt and toss.
Roast for about 30-40 minutes until aldente and fork tender, stirring once . Don’t cook them too much!
Have you ever had a kale chip? They are the most intriguing thing.
So feather light, but they pack a crispy, satisfying crunch.
You can probably put almost anything you want on them. A variety of oils, herbs, salts, and seasonings. Whatever you like. I made two batches today out of one head of kale. Making kale chips is incredibly simple. Just make sure you remove the stems all the way up the leaf, that your kale is completely dry, and remember that a little oil goes a long way. I drizzle maybe 1/2 a Tablespoon, then season, then massage the oil around and toss the leaves, and then season again.
The first batch is Sweet, Salty, & Spicy. A little drizzle of olive oil, a couple pinches of coconut sugar, sea salt, and a couple pinches of ground chipotle. SO good.
The second batch is equally as simple. A little drizzle of olive oil, a few sprinkles of sea salt, and garlic powder. I would say one head of kale makes about 2 cups. It shrinks significantly once it’s been baked.
So simple, so delicious, and a healthy alternative to potato chips. Enjoy!
On Monday we found out that my schizophrenic aunt, Nan, had been evicted from her apartment a week prior and had been taken to a shelter by the apartment management. The management had my mother’s phone number in her file and never bothered to tell anyone what they had done. Her things were packed and stored and will be kept for 45 days. Then, at 45 days the manager told me they usually “dispose of it”. Her apartment was filled with her mother’s, my grandmother’s, family heirlooms and antiques and everything Nan owns in this world. We were also told we would either need Nan’s notarized signature or a court order to remove any of her things from their storage.
After trying to track her down, Tuesday we found out that she was not at the shelter that the apartment manager supposedly said they took her to, nor at any other shelter in town, and we were advised to file a missing person’s report.
The authorities told us that if “they happened to see her” they would pick her up, but they wouldn’t seek her out. Tuesday morning came and took us all on a fast track in the direction of the worst possible scenarios… that try as you might, you absolutely cannot get out of your head. I grabbed mom and we ran errands in hopes of trying to control the worry welling inside of us. Samantha, her oldest daughter, had to deal with these feelings while in training for a new job in Seattle and handling phone calls from the sheriff and mom and I. And the youngest daughter, Amanda, I’m assuming was trying to figure out the impossible task of concentrating in class in her first semester in college.
Yesterday, after a fitful night of sleep I decided to post a bit of the story and prayer requests here on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I had already been praying of course, but when people band together, miraculous things can happen. “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them”. ~ Matthew 18:20 This is where my BIG TIGHT HUG to all of you comes in. I was so blessed and amazed by all of the support, kind words, and prayers. You will never know what it means to our family that you took time from your own lives, busy schedules, and your own issues, to pray for our family and to pray for Nan’s safety. Your comments here and on Facebook kept the panic from getting completely out of control. Within 2 hours of posting those prayer requests, a story that could have ended in any number of terrible and life changing ways for our family, has a happy ending.
There were some conflicting stories with the complex management yesterday, but luckily my mother took matters into her own hands and visited the police station. An extremely kind detective sat with her for over an hour and did some serious detective work to try to figure out what had happened. Long story short, she had changed hands between a few police officers, shelters, and a hospital. She was dropped at a shelter by police, but then was not cooperating. New officers took her to the psyche unit at the hospital where she was evaluated. Then the hospital moved her to another psychiatric facility which I’m guessing is run by the state.
She is safe and she is in a psychiatric facility where they are evaluating her. The facility was given her daughter’s number so that if Nan chose to, she could call us. With the current mental health laws, family members are at a complete loss when it comes to helping another family member with mental illness unless that person requests help. They wouldn’t even tell us the exact facility where she was being held.
The great news? Nan called Samantha yesterday afternoon. They are stabilizing her meds, she was thinking clearly, and she asked for help. Samantha also mentioned that Nan told her she loved her numerous times. Something Samantha hasn’t heard in a very, very, long time. Nan agreed to sign the paperwork so we could get her things that are being held by the apartment complex. Sam will be coming this weekend and Nan is looking forward to the visit. The facility will not let her leave until she has housing. All huge blessings and prayers answered.
There’s always a reason for everything. I have a difficult time remembering that when something so seemingly impossible to handle comes along. There is a huge dark cloud, but it definitely has a silver lining. The dark cloud of course, is that this isn’t the first time and most likely won’t be the last time we will have challenges with my aunt because this type of mental illness is relentless and evil. The silver lining, is that had she not run out of money, had she not stopped paying her rent, had they not evicted her, and had the police not been involved, she wouldn’t be getting the help that she is getting right now.
The state does not intervene in any way unless someone is broke and has proven to be dangerous to themselves or others. Now that she is homeless, broke and mentally ill (some of all of our worst nightmares rolled into one)…where you would think that prevention instead of waiting until things are in their worst possible state would be the way to go… this backward process of helping the mentally ill, will now after about 15 years of hell, be helpful to her. She will be assigned a case worker and will hopefully begin to get the counseling, medication monitoring, and housing that she so desperately needs. And this time thankfully, all of the pieces came together quickly and the outcome is so much better than what we were bracing ourselves for.
Every. Thing. Happens. For. A. Reason. Even when it seems awful, even when it is awful. Even when it doesn’t happen the exact way you want it to or the timeline or the details don’t make sense. Things must work out a certain way to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. That is a simple enough statement to understand, yet an enormously complex reality when you’re in the thick of something terrible.
Thank you again for your generosity of heart and prayers. From those of you we know well, and those of you we have never met. You will never know the depth and impact that kind of love has on us.
Blessings and Big Tight Hugs, from my family to you.
Cilantro Lime Avocado Dressing
This recipe is adapted from my mom’s recipe.
2 Ripe Avocados
1 1/2 Cups of Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
3 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup of EVOO
2-3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing
1 1/2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1/2 Cup (maybe a bit more to thin it out) of Filtered Water
Place all the ingredients in a Nutribullet, blender, or food processor and blend until smooth. You may have to shake and scrape the sides once or twice to get it all incorporated. Serve on anything you like, it’s absolutely delicious!