Grain free for a week? Challenge accepted.

We changed our eating habits over six months ago and while we have more energy we haven’t seen much change in our appearance so we decided to try something different for a week. Our regular diet includes a lot of whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, rice, and quinoa.  I don’t remember eating so much pasta when I was younger but when you come home at 7 am after working all night hungry all you want is something quick and easy so you can get to sleep! Enter pasta.  Easy, quick, and filling.  Or if I’m not in the mood to cook then there are always Triskets and cheese.

That is why we decided to try the grain free.  Wheat free would have been much easier but we still rely heavy on a lot of grain during the week.  It has been a long week with meetings and weird shifts for the both of us so I’m going to do my best to remember what we had since we didn’t stick to my meal plan. 

  • Friday:  Spaghetti squash used as noodles topped with a meat sauce.  Grain free pumpkin bread. 
  • Saturday:   Quinoa stir fry with zucchini and yellow squash. Quinoa is technically a seed even though in some people it is digested like a grain, I soaked it overnight to help digestion.
  • Sunday: Buckwheat pancakes! We were craving something like carbs.  Even though it has wheat in the name it is a seed, too!
  • Monday: Cottage pie. (Veggies topped with mashed cauliflower and cheese)
  • Tuesday:  Tortilla soup with sour cream, avocado, and cheddar cheese
  • Wednesday: Beef taco bowl
  • Thursday: Quinoa pasta topped with lemony tuna and asparagus

 

 Breakfast usually was an omelette or yogurt.  Lunch was the hardest part for me since I’m used PB&J or leftovers.  There weren’t many leftovers this week and no bread! I literally had a carrot and celery stalk one day.

We  tried baked Quinoa crackers which were to be honest kind of weird.  They didn’t have the crunchy cracker taste to it even after baking them longer so I might try to fry them a little in coconut oil next time.  I also made grain free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.  There were good but had a strong sucanat after taste to them, but I was out of vanilla so that may have been why. 

I do feel more alert throughout the night which is great because I’ve been feeling exhausted lately.  J is really excited about it and wants to do a second week.  We are going to have REAL pizza (mmmm doughy deliciousness) tomorrow, then off to a wedding Saturday, and then on Sunday start week 2!

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Homemade Ranch Dressing

     Finding dressing in the store that isn’t loaded with chemical preservatives is difficult nowadays.  Most of them have EDTA added to them to preserve freshness.   It is a widely used preservative that can even be found in baby foods. You know what also has EDTA in it?  If you have ever had your blood drawn the vacutainer tubes that they collect your blood in are loaded with anticoagulants, including EDTA!   I’m still looking into the difference in its functionality between ingested and vacutainers but still, the fact it is in something that we use to prevent blood from clotting and we are ingesting it has always freaked me out. Additional information on EDTA .

     Even the organic dressings are not always the best option as some are full of evaporated cane juice, aka sugar.  My taste buds must be changing because the store-bought brands seem very bitter to me now.  My husband is a big lover of Ranch dressing so I have experimented with different homemade ranch dressings and this is what I came up with. 

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4-1 cup buttermilk, depending on desired thickness (or plain milk with 1 tbsp of lemon juice added to it)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp dried dill
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley (try half cilantro for an added kick)
  • 1 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to your preference

If you have fresh herbs on hand they will taste even better you just may have to use slightly more to get the same taste (i.e. 3-4 tbsp fresh parsley).  This is easily adapted to taste so add more or less of what you like!  I am not a fan of mayo so I use yogurt but you could swap that. 

Pumpkin Whoppie Pies and Pumpkin Bread

I usually have pumpkin puree on hand because I have found that not only is it delicious, it is great for dogs.  Over the summer our Blue heeler, Jax, decided it was a GREAT idea to get into the cat litter while I was in the other room.  He was very proud of himself until 12 hours later when he got incredibly sick. I don’t think the poor boy has ever been that sick before.  We tried to wait it out hoping he would get better quickly but he would seem better and then go back to being sick the next day.  I was planning on calling the vet in the morning when I remembered that pumpkin was soothing on doggie stomachs so I figured it was worth a shot.  Both of our dogs gobbled it right up, which was great since we couldn’t get Jax to eat very much at the time.  After that he was back to his old energetic self!  At least he is smart enough not to get back into the cat litter, nope he’s moved up in the world, on to cat food!

Like everyone else when the weather starts turning chilly and you can see the leaves changing colors you start to think fall and fall foods.  I was in the mood to bake something and I came across this Pumpkin Whoppie Pie recipe months ago and it sounded like a great idea now that it’s starting to feel like fall.  I found the recipe on the Deliciously Organic website http://deliciouslyorganic.net/pumpkin-whoopie-pies-with-maple-cream-cheese-frosting/ .  I have been waiting to make this because I couldn’t find maple sugar but when we made a trip to Pumpkinville in Ellicotville, NY a few weeks ago I hit up their maple stands.  Boy, maple sugar is expensive!  I bought the smallest one they had and it was still $5.  In this recipe, I used 1/4 cup maple sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar plus I added about 2 tablespoons of real maple syrup in at the end to get the consistency I wanted.  They turned out well!  It was my first time using Sucanat and it wasn’t what I was expecting.  I have read about it and it is made directly from the sugar cane by crushing it.  It is then heated and paddled to create the Sucanat.  Since it still contains the natural molasses it is apparently a good brown sugar replacement.  I suppose, that is why I was expecting it to smell sweet like brown sugar.  I don’t think it smells sweet at all and it is made of rather large granules instead of the fine sugar I’m used to.

Granule Size

The size of the granules

Finished product

After the dogs got a spoonful of puree I still had some leftovers so I made pumpkin bread!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Beat together the oil  and honey then beat in the eggs.  Mix in the spices followed by the whole wheat pastry flour, until just combined.  To help the baking soda work mix it in the warm water first then add it into the mixture.  Pour into a greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan.  Bake for an hour or until when you dip a toothpick in the center it comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the loaf pan to cool for another 30 minutes prior to cutting.

My aid in the kitchen, Kodiak.

Hubbard squash in a crockpot

After my traditional birthday lunch with my family my dad said he had something for me in the car.  What he gave me wasn’t what I was expecting.  He pulled out this ugly blue thing and a butternut squash (which is the only reason I could figure out what the first one probably was).  Apparently, it was a hubbard squash.  I have never heard of such a thing and when I got home started googling ideas of what I could do with it.  I found that it was supposed to taste similar to how a pumpkin would, which I think is false.  I decided to do a stuffed hubbard.  I work the night shift and with the squash taking about 2 hours to cook in the oven there was no way I could make it for a week meal that way.  I went for the crockpot!  Crockpots are probably the best thing when you work nights! I chopped the hubbard in half with some effort, thick skin, and scrapped the seeds out.  Put some extra virgin olive oil on it with salt and pepper to taste and put on high for 4 hours.  My crockpot will keep warm after it is done with the time so I woke up to a soft squash but not overcooked.  Awesome! The filling I made when I got up.  This was the perfect amount for two people who like to eat but you could make more if you had more squash.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 1 Onion
  • tbs garlic
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • can of stewed tomatoes
  • sharp cheddar to top
  • tsp season all
  • tsp sage
  • fresh parsley

Dice the onion and saute until soft in olive oil (or coconut oil).  Add the garlic for about a minute until fragrant, followed by the ground beef.  Cook until no longer pink.  Add Season all and Sage (nutmeg, or allspice would be nice too).  Stir the spices in for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes.  Allow them to heat through.  Once it is nice and warm put the halfed squash in a baking dish and fill them with the filling.  Top with fresh parsley and top with freshly grated sharp cheddar, whatever amount you’d like.  (if you are like us then lots of cheese is needed!).  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Taste test:

The hubs didn’t care for the hubbard. I enjoyed it but I did think it was different.  On the plus side, I am really excited about cooking the squash in the crockpot.  Fall and Winter make perfect weather for stuffed squash and now I can make then even though I don’t get up til 7pm some days!

Hubbard squash in a crockpot

After my traditional birthday lunch with my family my dad said he had something for me in the car.  What he gave me wasn’t what I was expecting.  He pulled out this ugly blue thing and a butternut squash (which is the only reason I could figure out what the first one probably was).  Apparently, it was a hubbard squash.  I have never heard of such a thing and when I got home started googling ideas of what I could do with it.  I found that it was supposed to taste similar to how a pumpkin would, which I think is false.  I decided to do a stuffed hubbard.  I work the night shift and with the squash taking about 2 hours to cook in the oven there was no way I could make it for a week meal that way.  I went for the crockpot!  Crockpots are probably the best thing when you work nights! I chopped the hubbard in half with some effort, thick skin, and scrapped the seeds out.  Put some extra virgin olive oil on it with salt and pepper to taste and put on high for 4 hours.  My crockpot will keep warm after it is done with the time so I woke up to a soft squash but not overcooked.  Awesome! The filling I made when I got up.  This was the perfect amount for two people who like to eat but you could make more if you had more squash.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 1 Onion
  • tbs garlic
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • can of stewed tomatoes
  • sharp cheddar to top
  • tsp season all
  • tsp sage
  • fresh parsley

Dice the onion and saute until soft in olive oil (or coconut oil).  Add the garlic for about a minute until fragrant, followed by the ground beef.  Cook until no longer pink.  Add Season all and Sage (nutmeg, or allspice would be nice too).  Stir the spices in for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes.  Allow them to heat through.  Once it is nice and warm put the halfed squash in a baking dish and fill them with the filling.  Top with fresh parsley and top with freshly grated sharp cheddar, whatever amount you’d like.  (if you are like us then lots of cheese is needed!).  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Taste test:

The hubs didn’t care for the hubbard. I enjoyed it but I did think it was different.  On the plus side, I am really excited about cooking the squash in the crockpot.  Fall and Winter make perfect weather for stuffed squash and now I can make then even though I don’t get up til 7pm some days!