Pecan Butter changed my world.

I went on a nut butter rampage recently. Ever since I saw a post on Pinterest a few months ago about doing it yourself I’ve had it on my to do list. If that’s how you are, push that sucker right up to the top of your list! I started with Almond butter and put a little salt and honey in it. delightful, but not overwhelmingly better than my store bought Mara Natha brand. Then I tried roasted Pecan butter. Ohhhhhhhh my lord. I can.not.stop eating it! I’ve been putting it on anything I can think of. Like a spoon. I have two versions, one with honey, and one without. I just started Whole 30 yesterday, so am only eating the one without honey currently. If you aren’t restricting your sugar intake though I highly recommend the pecan butter with honey. I seriously think about it all the time. Put it on a baked sweet potato. It’s sweet potato pecan pie. This recipe isn’t really a very strict one. I am not sure of my measurements, and didn’t calculate the nutrition data for myself. I just figure that the one without honey is about the same as a store bought pecan butter (213 cals/2 TB) and that the one with honey is just a bit higher since I only added 2 tsp of honey in about a cup and half of pecan butter. I tried pistachio butter also and its really yummy too! My problem with that one is that its too salty. I made the mistake of using pre roasted and salted pistachios! sadly a bit too much salt, so I don’t eat it quite as often as my other butters. I will be trying that again. And I want cashew butter too, and macadamia nut butter… the list goes on and on! Either way, whatever nut you like, go make yourself some nut butter! Because it tastes good, and its fun to say “Would you like to taste my nut butter?”

Ingredients

about 2 cups raw pecans

kosher salt to taste

food processor, I think you can use a blender but I wouldn’t want to try.

  • Roast your pecans on an ungreased cookie sheet at 320 for about 10 minutes, or until your nuts are toasty and fragrant. I even like mine to have a few burnt nuts, (not charred, just a bit burnt) it really adds a great depth of  pecan flavor.
  • Put your nuts into the food processor and let it go. The nuts go through several stages in the processor: chunky, chopped, finely ground powder, then a big ball clump, then it smooths out into a nice butter. Mine is usually done in about 10 minutes, but sometimes needs longer to really get the nuts to release their oil and become super smooth like I like it. Some nuts never get that smooth though, so beware of burning out your processors motor! sometimes the machine needs a little break.
  • Anyway, after the butter is all smooth and gooey, add in a bit of salt and whatever else you want. Some people use cinnamon or other spices and honey or maple syrup. Spread the nut butter on whatever you have handy and enjoy! My favorite snack right now is some fresh berries with a drizzle of pecan butter. Heaven.
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    Why is there so little left!! Oh yeah, I ate it all. That thing was full not too long ago…

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    so smooth and yummy

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    Favorite snack. the pecan butter container kinda looks like a creeper back there.

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    74 g blueberries, 83 g raspberries, 1/2 Tb Pecan butter.
    138 cals, 6 g fat, 19 carbs, 9 g fiber, 2 g protein.

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Dutch Oven/Crockpot Lime Cilantro Shredded Chicken

IMG_4998Dutch Oven/Crockpot Lime Cilantro Shredded Chicken

Yummmmmm. That’s what I have to say about this recipe. I love finding new ways to make chicken since I eat it a looooooooot. My family is addicted to all things tex mex, we ate homemade mexican about 2-3 times a week growing up and we all loved it. We usually had ground beef however and I never even questioned it! I am branching out in my adulthood =) This recipe was spur of the moment but it happened to turn out Gluten free, (bonus!) and super easy as well. The lime and cilantro skillet sauce is fantastic alone, but I like to up the flavor factor by adding in my own spices, onion and garlic. Since I love spicy food I did use 1/2 tsp cayenne and that might be too spicy for some. Feel free to add or subtract from this recipe according to your taste and how convenient the ingredients are. I’ve only made mine in the dutch oven, but I imagine its just as good in the crockpot. My only warning is- don’t skip the sauteing steps! I hate the way onions taste cooked in the crockpot from raw. blech. Follow the steps and you’ll have yourself one delicious dish that everyone will enjoy!

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yield: 10 servings, 4.2 oz each

Nutrition

Calories: 147

Fat: 3.1 g

Sodium: 434.6 mg

Total Carbs: 4.4 g

Fiber: 1.6 g

Sugars: 1.6 g

Protein: 26.1 g

Ingredients

½ Tb coconut oil

2.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

8 oz onion, diced. 1 med-lg

4-5 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp each: cumin, coriander, chili powder, smoked paprika, kosher salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1lime, juiced and zested

1 pouch Frontera skillet sauce Key Lime Cilantro flavor (gluten free!)IMG_5140

  • If using a dutch oven preheat oven to 310°. If not, get your crockpot out of storage and plug in!
  • Heat coconut oil in a large skillet or your dutch oven.
  • Add in diced onion and garlic and saute until onion is almost translucent, 7-10 min.
  • Measure in all the spices and salt and pepper and let them cook with the onions and garlic to develop flavor.
  • Nestle chicken breast into the bottom of the pot, move them around a bit first to get them coated in the spices.
  • Cook a few minutes, them turn them over to cook and coat the other side. They don’t need to cook through.
  • Once the chicken has cooked about 7 minutes total add in the juice and zest of the lime, and the skillet sauce. You can substitute salsa if you cant’ find the Frontera sauce, but the sauce is delicious!
  • Stir in the sauce, juice and zest.
  • If using your dutch oven, put the lid on and place the pot in the oven. Cook in the oven for about 50 min to an hour.
  • If using a crockpot, pour everything in your skillet into your crockpot and cook on high for an hour, or on low for 2 hours. You want it cooked through, but not overly done to where the meat loses its juices and gets dry.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with two forks and let it sit and absorb the sauce for about 10 minutes. IMG_5141

This was amazing over quinoa with avocado slices. It is also great wrapped in a corn tortilla with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt! Pretty much anything you can do with shredded meat this would be wonderful with. (Taco bar for a Mexican themed party!) When I’m heating up leftovers I usually am picking at the cold meat and it is also delicious! I hope you enjoy this recipe, its easy and tasty as heck!IMG_4999

(Almost) Paleo Date Paste Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Cookies are never far from my mind. One day while I was checking out (read:stalking) my friends’ diaries on MFP I saw that Cora had been eating oatmeal almond butter cookies. That sounded way too enticing for it to be healthy, so I immediately messaged her to ask what the deal was about these cookies. She sent me the recipe link http://cleaneatsinthezoo.com/index/2013/02/20/peanut-butter-or-almond-butter-oatmeal-cookies/and I checked it out. That is the recipe that inspired mine. They are pretty similar, but I had to try it with date paste since thats been my sweetener project lately. I also changed a few other proportions and added cinnamon, but wanted the flavor to be about the same. The texture was amazing, nice and crumbly crisp with a nice chewy nutty center. mmm. I literally ate 4 cookies as soon as they came out of the oven. I am that cookie crazy. I just had one after my lunch and am trying to resist going for another right now. I might keep messing with the recipe (that is inevitable with me) and try it out with a few different ingredients, but let me tell you, these things are darned addicting and it certainly won’t be my last batch! Image

 

(Almost) Paleo Date Paste Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

yield:35 cookies

nutrition per cookie

calories: 128

fat: 10.4 g

sodium: 58.9 mg

total carbs: 6.9 g

fiber: 2.1 g

sugar: 1.6 g

protein: 3.8 g

ingredients

2 eggs

3 cups almond meal/flour (if you want these to be paleo skip the oats and add an extra cup or so of almond flour)

2 cups old fashioned oats

½ cup coconut oil, melted

½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter if you like that flavor better, any nut butter will work)

2 ½ oz date paste

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder (gluten free, aluminum free)

½ – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 350° and grease two large cookie sheets, or use parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix together dry ingredients: almond meal, oats, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a smaller mixing bowl beat together the eggs, almond butter, coconut oil, date paste and vanilla extract. Then add the wet and dry ingredients together in the large bowl.
  • Either roll cookie dough into balls with your hands and place on cookie sheet or use two spoons and place mounds of dough on the sheets. I tried it both ways and you need to squash the dough down slightly with both methods.
  • Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are cooked through and crisp on the bottom.

My cookies were amazingly delicious, however I had a few notes that I will point out to others. You can taste the salt a lot in these cookies since they are not overwhelmingly sweet. I am thinking about either upping my date paste amount or decreasing my salt on my next batch. I originally used 1 tsp salt but may try a little less next time. Or not, I really loved the way this first batch turned out. Almost like it was salty on purpose. You could almost make this a savory cookie by adding an herb like rosemary or thyme and leaving out the cinnamon. I am thinking of adding raisins next time and leaving the rest of the recipe as is. The raisins will add a pop of sweetness in each bite. Just try it out, see what you think and adjust as needed. Also, if you (like me) enjoy the cookies as they are, do warn people that they are a bit salty and not too sweet before their first bite! My uncle was very surprised when he tasted these without a forewarning! However my mother who is used to my experiments loved these. She’s used to my ‘healthy crap’ as my husband calls it. 😉

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ENJOY!

Spring Vegetable Bulgar ‘Risotto’

IMG_4950No, this is NOT a real authentic style risotto. Please don’t be too dissapointed! I Love real risotto, but didn’t even think about making a risotto style dish until my bulgar was already cooked. I had planned on making it into a cool grain salad with fruit and herbs, but then became inspired while staring into the depths of my fridge to use up some veggies and make a risotto. I know I say this about all the dishes I make, but, holy cow is it delicious! I am in love with the nuttiness of the bulgar and the bright flavors of the veggies. Peas and asparagus (asparagi?) is one of my favorite veggie combos but I tend to forget this fact until I am tasting them!

I rarely cook bulgar, but happened to have some in my pantry and as it happens I am trying to do some spring cleaning on my pantry and use up old items. Sometimes I wish I did this more often as I tend to come up with some gems! Bulgar is great as a side dish, and if you add some protein in it can be a great main dish as well. If you’ve never tried it I encourage you to buy some and check this risotto recipe out, I plan on maing this every week now, or some variation thereof!

Spring Vegetable Bulgar Risotto
Yield 5 servings 6.8 oz each

Nutrition

Calories: 175

Fat: 4.4

Sodium: 153.5 mg

Total Carbs: 29 g

Sugar: 1.3 g

Protein: 7.4 g

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Ingredients:

1 cup bulgar wheat, dry *(use quinoa for Gluten Free option!)

2 cups water

1 tsp kosher salt, divided

freshly cracked black pepper to taste

4 oz asparagus, diced

4 oz zucchini, diced

2 oz white onion, diced, about ¼ cup

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2/3 cup frozen peas

1 cup chicken (or vegetable) stock

1 tsp butter

2 Tb grated Parmesan cheese

 

  • First, cook the bulgar wheat. Heat water and ½ tsp salt to a boil and add bulgar. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Mine was nice and fluffy by the time it was done cooking. Set aside until later.
  • Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and remaining ½ tsp salt and pepper and saute til the onions start turning opaque.
  • Add in the asparagus and zucchini and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until veggies are tender-crisp.
  • Add the peas in and saute briefly to heat them.
  • Turn heat to medium high then add bulgar into the saucepan along with ½ cup of the chicken stock.
  • Stir until chicken stock is absorbed and then add the remaining stock.IMG_4949
  • Let most of the stock be absorbed by the bulgar then remove the pan from the heat and stir butter and Parmesan in.
  • Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper for taste.
  • EAT.IMG_4951

Breakfast indecision.

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Yield: 1 serving
Nutrition
Calories: 408
Fat: 12 g
Sodium: 69 mg
Carbs: 57 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 26 g
Protein: 21 g

Ingredients:
1 pineapple chobani 2% yogurt (6 oz)
1/2 cup dry oats
10 g raisins
10 g slivered almonds
Stevia to taste
1/2 cup water, or enough to cover the oats.
Place oats, raisins and almonds into a cereal bowl with the water. Mix it up and add in the yogurt. Then taste and see if you need sweetener. I used a little bit of stevia, maybe a tsp. You can do this before your shower and let the oats sit in the fridge, or eat it immediately like I did! I couldn’t wait! I got the idea from Christians breakfast, leftover oatmeal from yesterday and Greek yogurt. We both loved every bite of ours 🙂

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

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This is such a beautiful bread.

 I know, I know! It’s not fall anymore and therefore the craze for pumpkin is way,waaaaay over! Well spring had sprung, and then it decided to snow 10 inches in Saint Louis over this past weekend. So I decided pumpkin bread was the only solution! Ignore the seasons, just like nature, and make pumpkin bread while the snow falls! I recently bought some all-purpose gluten-free flour in hopes of creating something delicious for my gluten-free friends. I am a gluten-free flour novice and thought that an all-purpose baking blend was as good a choice of flours as any to start with. I am going to venture into others as soon as I use up this bag. Which certainly won’t be long with this recipe around!! I am usually counting every calorie like a miser counts his gold, (think: Scrooge hoarding his gold coins, that’s me, seriously), but I really wanted this bread have a good texture and wasn’t sure how my usual baking method (zero oil, sub greek yogurt) would work with the new flour. I used a bit of coconut oil and holy moly did it turn out great!! I hope you all try this and tell me what you think. Any tips/variations on flours would be helpful too. I would love to do more gluten-free/paleo baking. This may have been my first endeavour, but it certainly won’t be my last!

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C and I, playing in the snow the day after it fell. It had already melted a ton!

Yield: 10 Servings, each 81 grams

Nutrition per serving

Calories: 165.6

Fat: 7.8 g

Sodium: 300 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 20.3 g

Fiber: 3.6 g

Sugars: 5.1 g

Protein: 4.9 g

 

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil

½ cup baking stevia

3 whole eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 ¼ cup canned pure pumpkin puree (Libby’s, always)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

¾ cup water

4 Tb dry buttermilk

1 ¾ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bobs Red Mill brand)

1 ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

¾ tsp kosher salt

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Dry buttermilk is great way to add lightness to your baking recipes.

  •  Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Coat a loaf pan with coconut oil or non stick spray. I lined the bottom of my pan with parchment so it would come out easily. Worked like a charm.
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    I took this picture after adding the eggs. It was depressing not being able to actually cream sugar and butter, but hey, big calorie and health savings.

    In a large mixing bowl attempt to cream together your stevia and coconut oil. I say attempt because they don’t really cream like butter and sugar would. I used a whisk and did my best.

  • Add in your 3 eggs and vanilla extract and continue whisking.
  • Add in the applesauce, pumpkin puree and water.IMG_4819
  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the dry ingredients: gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder, dry buttermilk,cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.IMG_4817
  • IMG_4820

    mix slowly until…

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    voila! batter!

    Combine wet and dry, adding the dry to wet a little at a time.

  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.IMG_4824
  • Bake uncovered for an hour, then test for doneness by piercing with a knife or toothpick. If it comes out clean, its done. If not and it starts browning too fast, tent lightly with aluminum foil. Mine never needed tenting and its total cooking time came to an hour and 13 minutes.
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Ok, I need to make more of this. Right now.

 

Pumpkin is like crack to me. I ate the whole thing (practically by myself!) in about 2 days! I usually freeze any baked good within a day of making them so that they don’t go bad. I couldn’t bring myself to do that to this deliciously dense and moist bread! It looked nothing like a healthy food and I was enthralled! Christian thought it was pretty darned good too and did his part helping me take the whole pan down! It was great straight out of the oven, but even better the next day toasted and spread with coconut oil and honey. Mmmm…bliss. I will warn you that because of its lack of sugar (preservative) it should be refrigerated with a day or so of making to discourage any bacteria from growing.

 

*I thought this bread was wonderful! It was a lot like Starbucks in density, texture, and flavor. Which was exactly what I was going for. However the stevia wasn’t quite up to the sweetness level that I prefer in my pumpkin bread. I am going to try adding a bit of honey or date paste next time I make this. I might also amend the stevia to ¾ of a cup and see how that goes.IMG_4835

 

What’s for lunch?

 

Tuna my way.

Canned tuna can be a super easy and quick way to put a lunch together for yourself that is tasty and filling. If you like tuna that is. If not, you’re out of luck on this one. I make mine with diced apples, celery and caraway seeds. I use light mayo and a lot of lemon juice, salt and pepper too. I love the caraway seeds because I used to eat tuna on rye, but since I have cut most bread from my diet I usually just use romaine hearts to eat my tuna in. Little tuna lettuce wraps that still have the rye flavor mixed in. I love it. Yesterday I had mine with just some baby carrots that my wonderful mother in law brought me from her food co-op. (She is always bringing me her extra produce and I love it!) I also stuck some leftover avocado into my tuna and it really added some creaminess to it.

Yesterdays lunch breakdown:

Romaine: 5 large leaves

1 can solid white tuna (starkist)

1 Tb Light mayo

1.1 oz avocado

78 g celery, about 2 sticks

3 oz apple diced, about 1/3 of a medium fuji

lemon juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper and 1 tsp caraway seeds

3 oz baby carrots

lots of water!

Total calories: 341