Veggie and G/F Enchiladas

Vegetarian and Gluten Free EnchaladasThese enchiladas are bursting with zucchini, a bit of peppers and rounded out with some cheese and spices. I’ve made them light – and shared an easy homemade enchilada sauce because finding a gluten free sauce isn’t always easy to find at the store. These are great for a warm summer’s night when you have friends and family over, and can be topped off with fresh salsa, guacamole, or sour cream.

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

For the enchiladas:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 large zucchinis, grated
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup yellow corn
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium scallions, diced
6 large gluten free tortillas
1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese blend

veggieenchalada4In a medium sized saucepan place the olive oil with the garlic, cumin, and chili powder and saute. Add the tomato sauce and vegetable broth, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.


veggieenchalada3Preheat the oven to 350F.  In a large skillet place a tablespoon of olive oil with the garlic, onions, cumin, chili powder and salt. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the zucchini, peppers, and corn and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove any excess water from the pan and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese into the vegetables and allow it to melt.


In a 9×13 baking dish, cover the bottom with just a bit of the enchilada sauce. Scoop the vegetable mix into the tortillas, evenly dividing among the tortillas and fold them seam side down into the baking dish. Top off with the rest of the enchilada sauce, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and scallions and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with toppings of choice. Enjoy!

*For premade enchilada sauce, use 22 oz can.


Bunches of Blueberries Cheesecake Bars (gluten free)

Bunches of Blueberries Cheesecake BarsI’ve had the baking itch for awhile now, however it’s been so hot and humid that I’ve not wanted to turn the oven on. Today however, it’s lightened up and I’m not missing my chance, I’m baking! With the majority of my desserts and treats – this isn’t very sweet. I’ve gone to agave as my sweetener to let the blueberries be the stars with a hint of lemon.

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups gluten free graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For the filling:
16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup agave syrup
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups blueberries

*If you prefer a sweeter dessert, switch out the agave for 1/2 cup of sugar.

blueberrybars4Preheat the oven to 325F. Mix together the crust ingredients and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper. Spread the graham mixture evenly across the parchment and place into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized bowl mix the cream cheese until smooth, and then beat in the eggs, agave, lemon juice, and mascarpone. Mix together until completely blended. Carefully pour over the crust, and using a spatula even out the top. Top off with the blueberries and press them into the cheesecake just a bit to allow them to sink down just a bit. Place into the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. The middle will be a bit wobbly in the center still, but the outsides will be a slight brown.

blueberrybars3Allow the bars to cool completely on a wire rack before placing in the fridge to finish cooling. Allow them to cool in the fridge 2.5-3 hours before serving (hard I know!) to fully set. Once done lift the parchment from the pan and slice into bars. Makes 9-12 bars. Enjoy!

Mango and Avocado Salad

Mango and Avocado Salad This light and fresh summer salad is perfect for an outside lunch or picnic, and takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. The mangos really give it that summer fresh taste – and give a great contrast against the avocado. The salad vanished fast off the table!

2 avocados, sliced
2 mangos, cubed
4-5 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
3/4 cup plum tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, mangos, avocados, tomatoes, and cilantro. In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle the dressing over top the salad and carefully toss until the salad is lightly coated. Serve immediately, makes 4 servings. Enjoy!


Black Bean Chili with Cilantro and Lime

black bean chiliI’d been in a mood for a good bowl of chili lately so I made one with a bit of summer flair. It has some of those wonderful traditional chili flavors we all love, and I added some fresh cilantro from the garden, fresh lime juice and cumin. Yum!

1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 quart reduced sodium beef stock
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

*extra toppings like sour cream or cheese if you desire

blackbeanchili3In a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and onions. Cook until translucent. Transfer them to a large stock pot and place them with the beef stock over medium heat and bring to a low boil.

In the skillet brown the beef and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Drain any excess fat from the beef and transfer it to the stock pot. Next add rinsed black beans, diced tomatoes,  and spices to the stock pot. (Everything other than the lime juice and cilantro.) Reduce the heat to medium low and allow to simmer for an hour.

Add lime juice and cilantro and cook another 10 minutes. Top with additional toppings of choice. Makes 4 large bowls. Enjoy!


Toasted Almond Chicken

Toasted Almond ChickenThis chicken dish goes from pan to plate in under 30 minutes. It has a light gravy and topped off with roasted almonds. I’ve served it over rice – however you can serve it over another grain or even cauliflower or another veggie.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 white onion, diced
1  1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup unsalted almonds


Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika on both sides.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until no longer pink. Remove from the pan.

Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is clear. Add the milk, and slowly stir in the cornstarch. Add the chicken back to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

In a small skillet over medium heat (using a heavy bottom pan is best) place almonds in the skillet and stir them frequently, every 30 seconds or so – to prevent them from burning. Roasting on the stovetop is the fastest way and they’ll be done within 3-5 minutes, and will have browned edges and have a fragrant smell. Remove from the pan to fully cool.

If you want the almonds to stay crisper, top the chicken just before serving, otherwise add to the gravy and allow to simmer with the chicken for a few minutes.

Serves 4.


Strawberry Peach Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Peach Smoothie

I made these creamy smoothies for breakfast, and the secret if you want them to be really creamy is frozen bananas. It makes them more like a thicker milk shake, which I do crave that texture at times and is a nice change from the normal. Freezing the bananas are easy – just peel them and place them in the freezer in a plastic bag for a couple hours. I did that before I went out on a walk and came back and blended up this as a well deserved breakfast treat.


1 medium banana, frozen
1 large ripe peach, pitted and sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced and stems removed
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

In a blender place all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad

beet and quinoa saladI’ve been wanting to give beets a bit more love lately as they’re so delicious and I think they often get overlooked so I made this salad and paired them with quinoa (which is a great way to use leftover quinoa!) some orange, and walnut pieces for a little bit of crunch. The result was a healthy and flavorful dinner for two.

3 large beets
3 cups cooked quinoa
3 medium valencia oranges
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon orange zest

beetandquinoasalad3Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the beets and wrap them in aluminum foil and place them on a baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until they are able to be pierced with a fork. Allow to cool before handling.

While the beets are roasting, cook the quinoa to package directions. Make sure to give it a good rinse before. Cook about 1 cup dry to get 3 cups total cooked. Fluff and allow it to cool when done cooking.

When the beets have cooled, trim the tops and remove the outer skins.  Dice them up and place them and the quinoa together in a bowl.

Segment the orange and cut them in halves again. Place them on top of the beets and quinoa and top off with the walnut pieces.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over top the salad.

beetandquinoasalad2Can serve warm or cold. Serves 2 as a full meal or 3-4 as a side dish. Enjoy!.


hummusI was excited to make a sandwich (gluten free bread of course!) today and load it with this hummus – fresh spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts.  It’s a fantastic condiment and not just a dip, as great of a dip as it is.

The secret to making great hummus is skinning each and every one of the chickpeas. It’s really not as time consuming as it sounds – It takes me 10-15 minutes to do all of them and I sit down and watch some TV or listen to some music, and I’m not the fastest at it.

1 15 oz can chickpeas
water reserved from the can of chickpeas
1/3 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional 4-5 large black olives, diced, 2 tablespoons parsley
toppings of your choice

hummus2Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Remove the skins from the chickpeas and place the skins in the food processor (or blender) and discard the skins. Blend until the chickpeas look sandy or crumbly. Add the tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic and blend until smooth. Slowly add the reserved chickpea water. I don’t add quite all of it – add a few tablespoons at a time and blend until smooth. There is usually 3-4 tablespoons leftover for me, I don’t like my hummus too thin.

hummus3Allow to chill a bit (if possible!) for a bit before serving and top off with toppings of choice. I love black olives on my hummus. Other great additions are paprika, parsley, olive oil, cilantro, basil, nuts, pomegranate, and feta.

Homemade Tahini Paste

tahiniI’m going to be making some hummus in the next few days so I wanted to get my tahini made beforehand. Tahini is great for many other things as well – it goes great for salad dressings, other dips,  and falafel to name a few. It’s very easy to make and costs much less to make it at home than it does to buy at the store, and you aren’t getting any of the preservatives.

2 cups white sesame seeds (about 10 oz)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F and spread the seeds on a baking sheet. Gently stir them every few minutes and let them become lightly golden, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow them to completely cool. Place in a food processor with the salt and start to blend. Slowly add the olive oil to the seeds and keep blending. (I have to stop every 30 seconds or so to scrape the sides with a spatula, my food processor isn’t the best.) Blend until the tahini has become creamy. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


Spring Roll Salad

Spring Roll Salad

I’ve taken lots of my favorite ingredients that are in spring rolls and made them into a fresh salad. It’s hearty enough to serve for a meal by itself and the dressing is made up of some of the flavors of the spring roll dipping sauces. It’s perfect to enjoy outside on a hot night.

5 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
4 oz rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchstick thin strips
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into matchstick thin strips
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into matchstick thin strips
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely diced

5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon g/f soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced

springrollsalad3Start with preparing a large pot with water to a low boil for the noodles. While waiting for that prepare the vegetables. I found it easiest to place the napa cabbage in a large bowl by itself, the cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, bell peppers, and cilantro in another.

In a small bowl whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.

To cook the noodles, these noodles are typically very fragile – and what I suggest is placing them in a bowl and pouring the water very carefully over top of them until they’re submerged and then only stirring every minute or two to keep loosening them up.  Test them after 3-4 minutes. When they are fully cooked, remove from the hot water and rinse them with cold water until completely cooled, then drain all the water.

Add the noodles to the bowl with the napa cabbage and add about half of the dressing, and mix well allowing the noodles and cabbage to absorb the dressing. Next add the rest of the vegetables and other half of the dressing. Toss to coat, and serve immediately. Serves 4+. Enjoy!