Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Grandma's Zucchini Bread & Muffins...A Great Reason To Plant A Garden!

I guess when something is great, don't change it. Right? And my grandma had a great love for making people her zucchini bread... especially for my dad.

The only thing I did different, was not peel the zucchini. I like the color the peeling adds to the bread.  Okay, I did add one more thing to my grandma's recipe....added chopped apples. Delicious addition for sure, but it's optional. Maybe try it in half the recipe and see what you like. We decided to make our bread into muffins, because they are easy to freeze or pack as a snack. Either way I am happy to share this wonderful recipe, and hope you find it to be a tasty treat.

If you count weight watcher points, each muffin has 7 points.

This recipe can be made gluten free by simply replacing the all-purpose flour with a gluten free baking mix like Bob's Red Mill or Pamala's Gluten Free Baking Mix. Remember with Bob's Red Mill or a homemade mix you will need to add Xanthan Gum to the recipe, 2 1/4 tsp.

Grandma's Zucchini Bread & Muffins        Makes 2 loaves or 24 muffins
Preheat oven to 350
Prepare loaf pans with cooking spray and line bottom of pans with wax paper,  prepare muffin tins with cooking spray.
3 eggs (egg substitute if necessary)
1 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, grated
1 apple (optional, but delicious) peeled and chopped
3 cups flour (gluten free mix if necessary plus 2 1/4 tsp Xanthan gum, if not Pamela's brand)
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a small bowl add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and walnuts. Mix
In a large mixing bowl add eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Mix well.
Add zucchini and apples(optional).  Mix.
Add flour mixture and stir until mixed. Don't over mix.
Pour into prepared loaf pans or muffin tins.
Bake loaves for 55 minutes and muffins 25 minutes. Check 5 minutes early in case of oven variations.
Cool loaves on rack 10 minutes before removing from pans, and I let muffins sit a minute or so before removing from tins, as this helps them hold their shape.
Let cool completely on wire racks.
Then enjoy and share this recipe with many, it would make my grandma happy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Just Like Pulled Pork - Easy Barbecued Pork Roast. (Gluten free option too)

Have you ever thought you came up with something new in the food world, just to find out everybody's already tried it?

Well that happened to me when I thought I came up with this great idea for pork roast. No one in our family really liked pork roast, including myself. So we never ate it.....I never cooked it. But after having pulled pork in Hawaii, a few years ago I absolutely fell in love with it. I had never tasted anything so good. I will admit, they have a magical way of cooking it, but it also got me curious.

So I bought some really nice cuts of pork roast and started experimenting.  I tried sauces, rubs, herbs, but nothing came even close to what I had eaten in Hawaii.

One day I had some left-overs in the fridge that nobody seemed to want, and I was seriously considering giving them to our dog, Charlie.

My teen-age son hadn't had lunch yet and I got this idea.....what if I added some bbq sauce to the left over pork and tried to make it look like it had been shredded and served him a hot bbq sandwich? I gave it a try, and he loved it. He even said, "I didn't know we had any of this stuff, I just had this over at a friends house too."  And then a light bulb went off in my head and I thought, why couldn't I add the bbq sauce to the roast while it was in the slow cooker?

Apparently everybody already does this.....jokes on me. Oh well. Huge success, so I decided to share my new revolution with you anyway. And the best part is a lot of bbq sauces are made gluten free now.

The only thing you will need along with a pork roast is some bbq sauce. I purchase my pork roast  from Costco, Premium Pork Sirloin Tip Roast, 98% fat free. I like the way they are packaged, and I always cook two at a time. Left overs are never a problem, in fact there are usually not enough left overs. Yes,...it's that popular with my family.

 Since I cook two at a time I use a larger slow cooker. For one roast the smaller size is perfect.

Rinse and pat dry the pork roast and place in cooker.  Pour a fair amount of bbq sauce over the roast.
My favorite bbq sauce is, Sweet Baby Ray's. Exact measurements aren't that important, just get a nice covering on the roast.

Cover and cook on low for about 9 hours. Check to make sure it's all cooked inside. 
The finished product will look like this.

At this point I remove the roast from the slow cooker and place in a large dish and cover with foil. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Or until you are ready to pull apart.
While you're at it, this would be a good time to remove any meat that you don't want extra bbq sauce on, for example if you are following weight watchers. Remove some of the meat from the inside not the outside edges where the sauce is and each ounce of meat will still be 1 point. If you then want to add some extra sauce to your serving, then you can easily add a measured amount. Two tablespoons of this bbq sauce is 2 points. The roast is delicious with or without the extra sauce.  But it's nice to enjoy what everyone else is eating. 

Grab a knife and start slicing and pulling apart the meat starting at one end, and just slowly work to the other end.  On the edges I cut that area up into small pieces, but the rest will shred nicely.

I like to add even more bbq sauce to moisten and flavor all the meat. Keep tossing and stirring until the meat is evenly covered. Taste as you mix.....yummy!

I use a large serving fork to mix the sauce with the meat, it seems to work well.

Cover with foil to keep warm. I actually keep the prepared bbq pork in the oven on warm until ready to eat.  Toast up some buns, these make a great sandwich. Perfect for a crowd.

These work great on gluten free breads and rolls as well, The Best Gluten Free Sandwich Rolls

Lunch the next day is easy with these left overs!  Just reheat in the microwave and you've got a tasty and hearty sandwich. My husband likes them with shredded cabbage or coleslaw. Try my grandma's recipe.

If you want to make your own barbecue sauce check out this recipe,  Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce  it's delicious too.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Blueberry Buckle Regular & Gluten Free

I was shocked when my husband said he had never heard of Blueberry Buckle! What? And I thought all farm boys grew up with this tasty "cake like" treat.  I can honestly say he was pleasantly surprised after making fun of the name all afternoon. He ate the entire pan except for one piece that he asked me to please take to my mother. This man was out of control!!   I hope you enjoy it too!

I've added a recipe for regular Blueberry Buckle, with all-purpose flour, and a gluten free version shown below.

Blueberry Buckle - Regular          Makes 9 servings
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk, or a non-dairy substitute (I used soy milk)
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the Topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cold

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9"x 9" baking pan with a non-stick spray.
In a medium size mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing after each addition. Fold in blueberries.
Pour into prepared pan. 

Prepare Topping:
Combine sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small mixing bowl. Add cold butter and cut into dry mixture until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle over top of blueberry mixture.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Test with a toothpick, it should come out clean when inserted around the center of the buckle.  Cool on a wire rack.
It's delicious plain, but it is nice with ice cream or a whipped topping too. 

Weight watcher followers will want to save this those extra weekly points on this one.  Each serving will count as 8 points.

Some Simple Steps:

Buckle batter will look like frosting after mixed.

Gently fold in blueberries until completely mixed through.

Spread in prepared pan.

Cut cold butter into sugar and flour mixture with a pastry cutter. A knife works too, but is not as easy.

Mixture should look crumbly as shown here.

Nicely browned and ready to take out of the oven.

Continue for gluten free version.

*Because of my own food sensitivities I don't use egg or dairy products, but they can be substituted just fine.

*Also note the temperature change and cooking time for the gluten free, as they are different.

Gluten Free Blueberry Buckle             Makes 9 servings
1/4 cup butter, I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, I used Ener G Egg Replacer
2 cups gluten free flour blend, home made or purchased. I used 1 cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour, and 1 cup coconut flour.
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup milk plus 2 Tbsp, I used 1/4 rice milk and 1/4 soy milk and 1 Tbsp of each.  Any will work.
2 cups fresh blueberries

For The Topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup any gluten free flour. I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter, I used Earth Balance.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 9"x9" baking pan with a non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium size mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing after each addition. Fold in blueberries.
Pour into prepared pan. 

Prepare Topping:
Combine sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small mixing bowl. Add cold butter and cut into dry mixture until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle over top of blueberry mixture. Bake 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick, it should come out clean when inserted around the center of the buckle.  Cool on a wire rack.
Serve everybody up!


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Quick & Easy Allergy Friendly French Toast - with Gluten Free option

No eggs or dairy needed! 

My husband is crazy about French Toast, he would probably eat it every day.  Here is a recipe that is so delicious you may want to do just that! It's also very quick and easy to put together....so let's get started! And since it is allergy friendly, everybody in the family can enjoy it.

Quick & Easy Allergy Friendly French Toast               Serves 4
1 cup soy milk, or other non-dairy milk.
1/3 cup flour, any gluten free is fine too.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 slices of bread (your choice) gluten free if necessary.
1-2 Tbsp butter, non-dairy substitute,  or canola oil.
toppings of your choice

In a shallow bowl or pie plate whisk together all ingredients. Let sit about 3 minutes.
Heat a large skillet or griddle on medium high. Heat a thin layer of the butter, non-dairy substitute, or oil.
Dip bread one slice at a time into mixture, coating both sides.
Place bread on hot griddle or pan and cook until golden on both sides. About 3-4 minutes per side. 
Serve up!
If you need to keep the cooked french toast warm until all 8 pieces are ready, a warm oven at 225 works great. Make sure to use an oven safe plate or platter.

Dip bread in mixture, coating both sides.

Cook in a large frying pan, turning to brown both sides to a nice golden brown.

Serve it whole stacked up.......

                       or cut bread in half to serve.

Top with syrup, fruit, nut butters or all three!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Asparagus…A Tasty Mood Lifting Vegetable!

I have heard that  foods can actually be mood lifting, and that asparagus of all things, is one of the best.  Ok, I am slightly sensitive to this food at a moderate level, which means I can rotate it in if I don't find it to cause any problems. So I sat down and started taking some notes.

I tried two new ways to eat asparagus. One is in scrambled eggs, duck eggs for me. (I am highly allergic to chicken eggs) And the other way, is one I came up with on my own. I was roasting some brussels sprouts the other night and had some left over asparagus, so I just added them to the pan. WOW! They were so good I ate them all before I ate the brussels sprouts, they were like tasty little crunchy straws.

With my eggs and asparagus I decided to add a little ham and a touch of cheese. Ok…yes! I am cheating a little! But sometimes I just crave a flavor or am curious about a food…like now.

First I cut up 1 oz of  ham and a nice handful of asparagus tops. I sauteed them in a small amount of Smart Balance Light.

Then I added my scrambled duck egg mixture of 1 whole egg, 2 whites and a couple Tbls soy milk.

When eggs are done top with 1/2 serving of Weight Watchers Mexican Style Blend Reduced Fat Cheese.   If you are very careful about rotating foods you are sensitive to, sometimes you can get away with this once or twice a week. I don't suggest rotating allergic or sensitive foods until you have followed a strict diet of elimination for a full year first. And remember, some foods you will find can never be rotated. Believe me, you will know which ones when you try. For yeast free diets, no cheese.

Ok, back to this dish…because it's ready to devour!

This was so amazing I got up early to make it for my husband before he left for a meeting. He also loved it. The asparagus really blends nicely with the egg. I hope you give it a try....it is sure to make you smile!

Weight watcher points with ham and cheese, this dish has 5 points. Ducks eggs are an extra point due to their larger size.

The other way I mentioned preparing asparagus was with my roasted brussels sprouts.
Here they are seasoned and cooking.

I usually just rinse the brussels sprouts and remove loose outer leaves, and dry them off on a towel. For the asparagus after rinsing and drying I broke them in half using the top half. The goats got the bottom half  : )

I roast my brussels sprouts on the pure convection setting at 400. If you do not have a convection oven set to 425.

Place fresh vegetables in a large bowl add toss with 1 Tbl olive oil. When they are well coated shake some sea salt over them or McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak and toss again.

Place vegetables on a large baking sheet prepared with Pam, even though there is oil on the vegetables I still coat the baking sheet with Pam.

Bake for about 20 min, maybe check after 15, for preferred doneness. Also turn them over and roll them around a bit for even browning. The more browning on the vegetables the better in my opinion. Depending on your taste, you might like the asparagus at this point.

 As I mentioned I like them really brown, so I continue to bake everything for 5 min or more.

These are so good you won't even need butter! But if you do Brummel & Brown is an excellent low fat alternative. I have found occasional use of this product, and Smart Balance does not bother me even though I am very allergic to all dairy.

Even if you do not like brussels sprouts, try them roasted. I actually find them very offensive prepared any other way. Roasting some how makes them less bitter.

Weight watcher points will only count the oil you add. I find 1Tbl of oil goes a long way. For each Tbl of Olive Oil you add 4 points plus, and by tossing the vegetables in a large dish you can get enough coating on the vegetables with that small amount. Divide that by 4 servings and you have 1 point for each.

Brummel & Brown has 1 point plus for each Tbl. so if you add a teaspoon on top of your serving vegetables and let it melt over all, you have just 1/3 of a point. I really like Brummel & Brown because of it's great flavor and it actually does melt!


Monday, February 20, 2017

My absolute favorite fish is Tilapia.

The light flavor of Tilapia and it's versatility has made it my favorite fish to cook. It can be baked, used in fish tacos, makes a great fish sandwich and is yummy in seafood fettuccine.

Since fish is such a healthy choice I try to keep the added fat very low, but just a little adds a nice little crunch on the outside and the fish is moist and delicious on the inside.

In this recipe I use frozen Tilapia from Costco, I have been very happy with the quality of this product. I keep a bag of the frozen fish on hand, and can quickly prepare it on the spur of the moment. It is an excellent choice for those counting weight watcher points, only 2 points for 3 ounces cooked.  Each fillet is about 4 oz and made with this recipe would average to about 3.5 points. So let's get started.

4 Defrosted Tilapia fillets. (defrost in microwave if necessary)
2 Tablespoons melted Original Smart Balance
McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning
McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning

Preheat oven to 400
Spray baking sheet with Pam.
Place defrosted fish on baking sheet.
Melt Smart Balance in microwave. (a custard dish works well)
Brush lightly the melted Smart Balance over fillets.
Heavily sprinkle both McCormick Grill Mate Seasonings over each fillet.

Place in hot oven uncovered. Bake 30-35 minutes. Serve with cocktail sauce, tarter sauce or just as is. It is delicious. Reheat leftovers the next day. (if there are any)

This is also a great recipe for cod. Cod is a perfect for fish tacos and fish sandwiches too.  The two types of fish can easily be swapped for each other in recipes.

Here is a delicious way to use any left over fillets:
Toast a bread roll, Best Gluten Free Sandwich Rolls, will be perfect for a gluten free fish sandwich. Warm up a left over piece of seasoned fish, add some lettuce, tomato and tarter sauce, and that's a delicious and healthy fish sandwich.


Start with a good quality Tilapia. These come individually wrapped, which is really handy. You can grab as many as you need for any meal.

Remove from individual wrap and defrost if necessary in the microwave on a plate for 4-8 min.

Place defrosted Tilapia on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Brush melted Smart Balance over each fillet and season generously with McCormick Grill Mates, Montreal Chicken and Roasted Garlic & Herb.

Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve.

Okay...does that not look absolutely delicious?

 I hope you enjoy this recipe over and over again.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Perfect Salads - Dressing Up An Every Day Salad With The Fresh Fruits Of The Season

I love to add fresh fruits to my greens.
I try to eat a giant salad of greens and raw vegetables for one meal a day. I like to add a large variety of raw vegetables to my salads. I combine about 7 or more different raw vegetables including romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, mushrooms, cabbage and purple onion.

I also add garbanzo beans, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. During the winter months I enjoy grapes and oranges on my salads, but in the summer my salad rises to a whole new level with fresh berries, cherries and kiwi. The variety of flavors and textures are fantastic, sweet, crunchy, chewy.... and this is so great for our bodies.

Instead of unhealthy croutons, I crunch up Trader Joe's Lentil Chips, Sea Salt & Black Pepper flavor.  These chips are full of flavor and baked with only 3 grams of fat per serving.

I make a giant salad once or twice a week and store the whole thing in a recycled lettuce or spinach container or fill mason jars, as you can see in my Food Tips. This keeps my salad as fresh as the day I made it. I don't add the beans, sunflower seeds or fruit until ready to serve.

Meat eaters can add cut up leftover chicken and turkey with some cheese as another addition to a salad.

And finally in this salad I've added sweet peppers cut in rings, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and a yummy quinoa & brown rice mix from Seeds of Change. Love this one! 

There are so many options it's fun to experiment, and the salads are gorgeous as well as nutritious!

So, come on!    Eat those greens!!