Monday, June 30, 2014

Watermelon Ice Cubes

I've still been working on creative ways to use up extra watermelon. We enjoy our watermelon dressing and I just made a batch of these watermelon gummies, I've also been adding the juice to my homemade kombucha. It occurred to me that the watermelon juice would make fun and tasty ice cubes. So I don't have a recipe today, more of a 'how-to'. These ice cubes make great natural pink lemonade and are perfect in a cocktail. Enjoy!

Watermelon Ice Cubes

Gluten Free, Vegan

About 5 cups watermelon, preferably mostly deseeded
Fine mesh strainer, nut milk bag, thin dish towel, or several layers of cheese cloth

  1. Add the watermelon chunks to a blender and smash them down with a wooden spoon
  2. Blend until completely smooth. I had to pulse several times and then let it run for about 30 seconds.
  3. Strain the pulp through a strainer, a nut milk bag, or several layers of cheese cloth. I ended up with about 3 cups of juice
  4. Pour the juice into and ice cube mold and freeze over night.
  5. Enjoy in lemonade or other beverages.

Notes and Substitutions

  • The resulting ice cubes will be a little sticky and not quite as sturdy as water-ice cubes
  • As they melt they will turn your lemonade pink. So fun!
  • I thought I would be clever and use my french press to strain the pulp, but the strainer was actually to fine. The nut milk bag worked the best.

Add watermelon to the blender

Smash down

Blend until smooth


Pour into mold

Freeze overnight

What are ways you like to use up watermelon?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cherry Chicken

I was catching up with my sister when she announced excitedly, "Did you know its cherry season?!" We then proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes professing our love for cherries and I explained to her what "the sherries" are (something I won't be explaining here). I all ready had about 2 pounds of the little gems in my fridge, but this got me excited to start working with them. We've been enjoying chocolate cherry shakes and popsicles (recipe coming soon) but today I was feeling something more savory. This recipe is the product of serendipity as I had all of these ingredients on hand and it worked out on the first try. This recipe is super adaptable so let me know any changes you make to it and the results in the comments section. Enjoy!

Cherry Chicken

Gluten Free

1.5-2 lbs chicken thighs or breasts, chopped
20 sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbl honey
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbl tapioca starch
rice or veggies to serve with

  1. Pit and chop the cherries into eighths, add to the slow cooker
  2. Chop the chicken into small bite size chunks, add to the slow cooker
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the tapioca starch, to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for 2 1/2 hours
  5. Once done, carefully ladle out as much liquid as possible into a small sauce pot, it's okay if you get a few cherry or chicken pieces in there
  6. Whisk in tapioca starch 1 tablespoon at a time until there are no clumps
  7. Place the pot on the stove on high and whisk until thickened and beginning to bubble, it should only take a minute or two
  8. Add the thickened sauce back to the chicken
  9. Serve warm over rice or add to sautéed veggies

Notes and Substitutions

Frozen chicken broth,
Tip: Make big batches and freeze into ice cube trays for quick thawing

  • This would work with other types of meat although it may change the cooking time.
  • If you are not gluten free you can use flour instead of tapioca starch, arrowroot would work fine too.
  • You can double this recipe and freeze half for later.

Add the ingredients to your slow cooker, stir to combine

Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours

Ladle liquid into a small pot, be careful its hot!

Whisk in tapioca starch 1 tablespoon at a time

Whisk on high for a few minutes until it thickens and starts bubbling

Add the thickened sauce back to the chicken
Enjoy over rice or with stir-fry veggies

What is your favorite way to use cherries?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Watermelon Ginger Dressing

I love watermelon. Though most people only eat it at BBQ's or poolside parties it is actually a great health food. It is packed with vitamin c, lycopene, and antioxidants. It is also a great thirst quencher and some serious bang for your buck. I can get a local watermelon for less than five dollars and we will eat on it for days. In a recent attempt to use up the last of a huge watermelon I created this dressing. It is light and refreshing and also looks fun. Enjoy!

Watermelon Ginger Dressing

Gluten Free, Vegan
Makes about 1 cup (enough for 4 salads)

10 chunks of watermelon (1 inch x 1/2 inch)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon juiced, 3 tbls
1 tbl apple cider vinegar, plain kombucha, or lemon juice
1-2 tbl chia seeds
1 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the chia seeds, in a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Add the chia seeds and pulse a few times to combine. The more chia seeds you add the thicker it will become.
  3. You can taste and adjust. If you want it sweeter add more watermelon and tangier add more lemon juice or vinegar. The flavor will develop more the longer it is refridgerated.
  4. Pour into a container and refrigerate for several hours. The chia seeds will thicken it up after a few hours. Give it a good shake before serving.
  5. Store in the fridge.

Notes and Substitutions

  • I used plain homemade kombucha instead of apple cider vinegar and it was really good, but anything acidic should work here.
  • If your watermelon isn't super sweet you may want to add a tablespoon of honey.
  • If you have a high-powered blender then it may pulverize the chia seeds. I would recommend pouring the dressing in a jar then adding the chia seeds and shaking vigorously. 
  • You can use fresh grated ginger instead of the powder. Start with 1/2 tsp and adjust to taste, it will get stronger as it sits.

What is your favorite way to use up watermelon?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lemon Ice Cream Bars

My husband loves lemons. I think he needs some of that tart to balance out all his sweet. Does sarcasm come through with typing? ; ) Since he truly is a sweetheart, I attempted to recreate a healthier version of his favorite lemon-y treat; lemon bars, but what I ended up with was a happy accident. Lemon isn't my normal desert flavor of choice but I love the bright flavor of these bars, and they are super simple to make. These are a great make ahead treat for a summer dinner! Enjoy!

Lemon Ice Cream Bars

Gluten Free, Vegan**
Makes 8x8 pan

For the 'bar':

1 cup blanched slivered almonds
3 medjool dates
1/8 tsp cinnamon
small pinch sea salt
coconut oil for the pan

  1. Lightly oil an 8x8 inch baking dish.
  2. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until it starts to stick together. You should see it sticking to the bottom sides of the processor bowl and it would hold together when you squeeze it.
  3. Firmly press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan.

For the 'ice-cream':

2 1/2 lemons juiced and zested (about 1/2 cup juice)
1/2 cup coconut cream* (see directions)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup wildflower honey**(vegan can use maple syrup)

  1. *To get the coconut cream; refrigerate a can of full-fat coconut milk over night (do not shake it) and scoop out the firm cream, leaving the watery part behind.
  2. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut cream, coconut oil, and honey to a small pot and heat on low. 
  3. Stir to combine and taste. Add more honey if desired but keep in mind the bar is also sweet.
  4. Pour over the bar.
  5. Set in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
  6. Slice into desired size, serve directly from the freezer.

Notes and Substitutions

  • You can use any type of nuts for the bars, walnuts are especially tasty.
  • You can use any type of honey but, to me, the wildflower goes best because it has a mild taste. 

What is your favorite lemon flavored food?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Vegan Protein Parmesan

Though we no longer indulge in spaghetti dinners around here, I have gotten really into using my spiralizer to make vegetable noodles. Zucchini, sweet potato, and celeriac all make really great noodle substitutes. I also love using 'spaghetti sauce' as a way of using up extra veggies like carrots and beets (I use them instead of tomatoes). Of course you can't have a plate of fake spaghetti with fake sauce without some fake parmesan! Many years ago when I first tried nutritional yeast I hated it, but like most things that are healthy, I learned to love it. Nutritional yeast has a flavor REMINISCENT of cheese and is full of healthy B vitamins. I paired it with protein packed hemp seeds for even more nutrition. I keep a jar of this in the fridge for sprinkling over my eggs and of course for fake spaghetti night!

Protein Parmesan

Gluten Free, Vegan
Makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup + 2 tbl Hemp seeds

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
pinch sea salt

  1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor or bullet type blender and pulse to combine.
  2. Taste and adjust ratio to your liking.
  3. Store in a jar in the fridge.

Notes and Substitutions

  • You can add other seasonings like garlic powder or lemon rind to change the flavor.
  • I like the protein and nutty flavor of the hemp seeds but you can use other nuts or seeds. Cashews make an even more authentic tasting parmesan. 

What is your favorite gluten free noodle alternative?

Where to buy? 

Friday, June 6, 2014

4 Favorite Things About The Big Island

I promise I haven't stopped blogging. We have been on vacation for a few weeks to visit family in Hawaii (yes be very jealous I have family in beautiful places)! We had a great time and debated on staying forever, but sadly the jobs and dog were back in Georgia so we headed back home. Hawaii, specifically the Big Island, is a gorgeous place somewhat untouched by time. One expects to see pterodactyls flying over head. With my feet in the sand and ocean breeze in my hair I really felt as if I was being called home. So in honor of our trip, and because I want to share pictures, today I am going to share my four favorite things about The Big Island. Regular food and mommy blogging will resume next week!

1) The Food

My time in Hawaii was spent on about 20% hiking, 30% napping, and 50% eating. I love all types of Eastern cuisine and lucky for me they have lots of it. There has been a lot of immigration in the past (that's how my great grandparents ended up there) from Eastern countries and the result is some of the best "asian" style dishes. We didn't stop there of course. I hit up every farmers market I could get to. They have some amazing fruit; apple-bannanas (perfect size for Mercury), lychee, and lilikoi (passion fruit) and lilikoi flavored everything. My favorite was fresh coconuts, we would drink the water inside and then crack them open to eat the soft flesh like pudding. It has ruined the canned coconut water for me! My other food favorite was the meat. Meat everywhere was grass-fed because it is cheaper to produce cows on the island. Believe me I saw where the cows were grazing and I was jealous. Similarly pigs are feral all over the island, and make for some of the best pork. I could go on and on about the food but it is making me hungry! Oh one more thing, you could buy avocados grown from peoples backyard for 50 cents!!!

2) The People

Being from the south people always think I'm nice. You hear the words "southern hospitality" pretty regularly growing up. Well I'm here to let you in on a little secret. People from the South aren't nice they are polite and there is a big difference. People in Hawaii are genuinely nice. Everyone smiles, and jokes, and laughs, and even though I haven't seen some of my family in 10 years they welcomed me and my new family like we were old pals. You can see how important family is to the culture and how loved and taken care of the kids are by the whole family. 

3) The Scenery

Hawaii is equally for beach lovers and mountain lovers. They have beaches with sand ranging from white to green to black; sheltered by palm trees and hiding vibrant coral reefs. At the same time they have emerald hills rolling into snow capped mountains. And in between beach and mountain are waterfalls, lava, and about a billion more stars than you ever thought were in the sky. We did a lot of hiking on our trip, partially because we love hiking and partially because that is just the only way to get to some places. I love that some spots are secluded because you have to work to get to them!
Had to climb in the Banyan tree, had to!

4) The Location

I have to admit that geography is my achilles heel (pat yourself on the back if you got the Scrubs reference). When you look at a map of the United States they always cut Alaska and Hawaii off and paste them closer to the mainland. It's not that I thought Hawaii was that close (okay maybe a little) but I just never realized how far away it actually is. It's not just far away from the mainland, it is far away from every land. At some point on our trip we looked out into the ocean and realized that's all you could see was ocean. There is something humbling about realizing you are on a tiny spec of active volcanic land in the middle of the great big ocean. When people say they 'want to get away from it all' this must be where they go.

Inside a lava tube

What has been one of your favorite places to travel?