Monday, July 21, 2014

Freeze String Beans Without Blanching


fresh string beans

Can you freeze string beans without blanching them first? You bet you can, and I'll tell you how. 
I picked 4 quarts of string beans from my CSA the other day. It was Thursday, and I realized that we had a full weekend of eating out planned, so I wasn't going to be able to cook all of those beautiful organic beans that I spent 1/2 hour picking in the hot July sun.

I considered cooking them up with a tomato sauce recipe that we like and then freezing them, but I really didn't have the time. I just wanted to freeze them quickly and worry about cooking them on another day. It was already late and I was tired, so I wondered if I could just freeze them without blanching the large bunch and then have to put them in ice water. Well, after a quick Internet search, I found my answer on a blog called An Oregon Cottage .

It turns out that I was not the only who wanted to skip steps. I was glad to know that Jami ( of An Oregon Cottage) actually tried the quicker method and she said it works great! According to Jami, skipping the blanching doesn't make a difference. Jami and her family like the taste results just as well without blanching the string beans as they do with blanching them. 

In fact, Jami said she sees no difference in taste. Jami experimented and told about it in her post.  I'm trusting Jami and  I'm simply washing, drying, snipping off the ends and freezing in zip lock baggies.

Jami had another clever trick on her site as well. She uses a straw to vacuum seal the baggies. I didn't have a straw, so I couldn't try it ( I know it's hard to believe I didn't have a straw) . But according to Jami it works great . I'm now following Jami's blog. She has lots of helpful ideas !

I'll let you know how the freezing works out. I left my beans whole, although I could have chopped them into bit size pieces. The uncut string bean works fine for us. If you have smaller children, most likely you would want to cut the beans into smaller pieces prior to freezing. 

fresh string beans
I washed them and dried them well to avoid any ice crystals forming when I freeze them
I still have a few zucchinis to use up too from my CSA this week, so I'm going to make Nona's crust-less zucchini quiches and freeze them. They will be perfect for my next party! They take about me about 5 minutes prep and 40 minutes to bake. I'll bake them before freezing them since they have eggs in them. 

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paleo English muffins ( Quick)

Grain Free English Muffins on a plate



Grain Free English Muffins

Why am I making a Paleo recipe? I have been gluten free for 14 years, but I've only been grain free for 6 weeks.I'm trying add more variety to my grain free diet. Paleo baked recipes are usually fabulous, low carb and healthy.  This recipe makes one muffin and only has 2.5 net carbs,

There are three reasons that I like a recipe which only makes one serving .
1. It's really quick and easy ( I can make it fresh for my own breakfast)
2. I won't over eat ( portion control) It only makes one muffin
3. Leftovers won't end up getting stale. ( sometimes I make things with coconut flour,  and if we don't eat it immediately by the next day it starts to dry out)

Did I mention that I'm trying to lose weight ( yes again- that 10 pounds just won't stay away) and low carb works best for me not only for weight loss, but to also help stabilize my blood sugar. I've been eating mostly vegetables, nuts,  and proteins but I'm craving something more. I think this low carb grain free English muffin will do it! Since I'm doing low carb, I can put butter on it! Yum!

I would consider following the ever popular Paleo diet, but I'm a vegetarian and it would be difficult and  limiting. I think the concept and way of eating is a good one. I think in general we eat way too many processed foods that are not real food and too much sweets ( even fruit) .

Today's fruit is not like fruit of years ago. Today's fruit is much bigger, much sweeter, and much more plentiful. People used to eat fruit in season- they even gathered their own berries and ate less. That may have been a good thing.

Today's fruit is mostly hybrids that have been developed to be larger, sweeter, and more beautiful . The larger size and sweeter fruit may be more than our blood sugar can handle. I believe that today's fruit is just way too full of sugar.Despite being a fruit lover, I've cut back on the amount I eat, and truthfully I feel better and my blood sugar is more stable. I concentrate on eating berries which our the lowest glycemic index fruits. ( This was a result of reading Wheat Belly by Dr, Davis and Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter- two new books by doctors who say grain and sweets are setting us up for diabetes, all kind of autoimmune disorders, arthritis, skin problems, and even brain fogginess, learning problems and dementia.

I had been feeling tired, foggy, and had a lot of mood swings. I was craving sweets and overeating. Since I cut out the grain and limit the fruits- I actually feel better. I feel like I'm less foggy, I stopped craving sweets, and the mood swings are gone. I have more energy too.

I saw this grain free bread recipe on a site called Simply Vegetarian Paleo  . The site posts recipes from lots of bloggers.

This Paleo English Muffin recipe came from a healthy blog called Beauty and The Foodie.  .I liked the blog so much , I am now a follower. Kathy posts lots of recipes worth checking out. Apparently there are ways to be a vegetarian and follow the Paleo diet. This is my adaption of Kathy's recipe.

Ingredients:
1 egg beaten
1 Tablespoon of Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon of coconut flour **( if you are not on a grain free diet, you could try gf flour mix)
1/2 Tablespoon of coconut oil ( or olive oil)
1/8 teaspoon of aluminum free baking powder
optional: if you like it a little sweetness  add 1/2 tsp honey and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Beat the egg in a bowl add then  remainder of ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth. Transfer batter to a single ramekin and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.( Stacy from  Beauty and The Foodie  said you can also microwave the ramekin for 1 and half minutes -I don't usually microwave- but it would be fast)

Once baked. Take a knife and loosen the sides of the ramekin and the muffin will slide right out. When cool enough to handle, slice the muffin in half and toast it in a frying pan, making sure to press it down.
 It's uncanny  how it looks exactly like an English Muffin. 

** MY OPINION: Personally, I liked it but it didn't exactly taste like an English Muffin to me. It tasted a little egg-ier at first. However, I found a way that I did think it tasted more like an English muffin. After toasting and cooling, I placed it in the refrigerator uncovered for a few hours. It wasn't eggy and was dry and crisp- more like an English Muffin.( you could probably put it in the fridge for 1/2 hour)

 Spread it with nut butter or fruit spread and enjoy. It holds together very well and is grain free, gluten free, healthy with the looks and has the consistency of an English muffin.

I now make mine the night before, and leave it in the fridge so I have it in the morning .

It's so fast an easy, why not try it for yourself and let me know your opinion.


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black ramekin
 My ramekin

black ramekin with batter
ramekin with batter

Paleo English Muffin
After baking 


untoasted English Muffin
I cut the baked muffin in half with a sharp knife


I placed the muffin halves in a sprayed pan and cooked on each side ( don't forget to flip it over) 


Place a plate on top of the two muffin halves to press them down or use a spatula

Paleo English Muffins



Paleo English Muffin with herbs
I made another batch with chopped herbs from my garden

Books I recommend 



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Monday, July 14, 2014

Asian Peanut Coleslaw

Super coleslaw with peanuts and thai dressing


Need a salad to bring to our next party? This Asian Peanut  Salad looks and tastes spectacular. My friend Melissa is an amazing cook. We attended a BBQ last Sunday, and she brought this healthy delicious salad. It's an Asian version of coleslaw with peanuts, peanut butter and edadame. It tastes sensational and is easy to assemble.

If you are looking for a salad to bring to party or serve at your next gathering, this could be a good replacement or addition to your traditional BBQ  salads. It's gluten free, grain free, vegan and has a wonderful flavor that everyone seemed to love. In addition, it looked beautiful and inviting. There was not one morsel left in the large bowl that my friend brought to the party!

After one bite, I began to take pictures and am sharing the recipe because it was such a big hit with everyone.I loved the crunchiness of the peanuts and the Asian spices. The salad itself is easy to make. You can start with a basic bag of coleslaw  mix of green and red shredded cabbage and some shredded carrots that is available in most supermarkets ( or make your own  in the food processor).add a few red peppers, scallions, and cucumber and you have almost the full salad base.

The dressing is made quickly in the blender and is fresh and spicy. As usual, I don't like things hot so I will leave out the hot pepper flakes.

Cabbage is full of fiber, cancer protective antioxidants, and vitamins. It's a great choice for a healthy addition to any meal.
                        thai dressing over peanut coleslaw

Melissa said it was her husband Stu who actually found the recipe online. It was from a blog called Once Upon A Chef. Jen posted lots of step by step pictures and has a fabulous blog with lots of fresh real food. She is worth visiting. In fact,  I just started to follow her. Other than leaving out the red pepper flakes and cutting out the sugar, I just made some minor personal taste adaptations.



Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing

Ingredients

For the Thai Peanut Dressing

  • 1/4 cup creamy almond butter or peanut  butter
  • 2 tablespoons  rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • salt to taste

Ingredients For the Salad

  • 4 cups chopped Napa cabbage or shredded coleslaw mix 
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • red bell pepper, very thinly sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • optional: 1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients except for the cilantro in a blender and process until completely smooth. Add the cilantro and blend for a few seconds until the cilantro is finely chopped. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. For the salad, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. If serving right away, drizzle the peanut dressing over top and toss; otherwise, serve the dressing on the side so the salad doesn't get soggy.

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