Category Archives: Neutral

Gluten Free Kid Friendly Neutral Paleo Recipes Vegan Vegetarian

Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

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spiced-nuts2It’s a hot day here in Southern California, although that’s probably the equivalent of saying “pizza pie”, isn’t it? Anway, I was itching to get into the kitchen but the heat was zapping my energy so I settled for something quick and easy and for me that means – no measuring. Hopefully you all will be able to appreciate how easy it is to cook to your own taste without measuring exact amounts or ingredients.

I’d roasted a Delicata squash the other night and had saved the seeds. I’d given them a rinse and rubbed them to remove the squash goo, but had put them wet into a little container and refrigerated them. So the first step was to dry toast them.

I placed the seeds in a cast iron pan on the burner and heated it to medium. I stirred them occasionally and when they were no longer wet I added some nuts that I had soaked and dried last week. So in went pecans, almonds, and cashews. I continued toasting everything, stirring occasionally until the Delicata seeds started to pop.

I swirled in a little coconut oil, then stirred in a small handful of pumpkin pie spice, a pinch of sea salt and a couple pinches of monk fruit (sweetener). You could really use any sweetener that you have on hand, stevia, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, rapadura, sucanat … and continued stirring occasionally for five minutes. I removed a couple of nuts. Let them cool, then tasted them and adjusted the seasoning. When I liked the seasoning I removed the pan from the heat and allowed the nuts to cool before packing them in a glass jar and storing in the fridge.

Then I read that a Penn State study had determined that eating 35 almonds a day resulted in a 1/4 cup loss of fat around the belly. One more reason to enjoy these almonds :)

Gluten Free Living Food Low Calorie Neutral Paleo Recipes Vegan Vegetarian

Bacon Eggplant Jerky – Paleo, Vegan, & Gluten Free

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eggplant jerky recipe

You can find various recipes for eggplant jerky all over the Internet. I don’t claim to have invented this one, but I do believe that I’ve worked to make it as simple and tasty as possible while giving you easy ways to alter it according to your own diet or taste preferences. There are so many ways you can change up this recipe within a certain framework that will still  end up with the chewiness of jerky and tasting like bacon.

Start with an eggplant that has a smooth and shiny skin. While I don’t like to remove the peel, its so full of nutrition and honestly, its one more step to get to the end result, but I do prefer this without the skin. My compromise is to slice it so that not every piece has skin attached to it. In the end the few pieces which were mostly all skin were the crispiest.

I tried to use a mandoline, as well as a food processor to slice it but that was a complete fail – a combination of the tough skin and the sponginess of the flesh. I tried peeling it and running it across the mandoline but the spongy flesh still fouled up the process, so out came my favorite chef’s knife and my bamboo cutting board and three minutes later I had a pile of bacon shaped pieces of eggplant. Well really you wouldn’t have thought they looked like bacon at this point, but since I knew where I was going with this, it was already starting to look like bacon to me. Do you think that positive thinking helps in the kitchen?  I do. I’ve noticed that when I’m feeling less than confident or unexcited about a new recipe it often turns out badly.

In the interest of making the recipe as simple as possible I used a Tandori spice mixture which has paprika, garlic, and salt. You can use any spice mixture which has a paprika base. I used garlic flavored olive oil, but you can of course use plain olive oil, just be sure it’s extra-virgin. Your taste buds will thank you. And I used balsamic vinegar because I love the rich flavor, but you can use apple cider vinegar if you prefer. I didn’t use black pepper but if you want to add some be sure it’s freshly ground.

I like my version of the marinade because you don’t get a lot of runoff like many of the recipes I found on the Internet. You don’t get oil dripping off into your dehydrator and you don’t have to use towels to sop up the oil after dehydrating them. Still I think my recipe would be better with a little more oil. Flavor-wise, it won’t matter much, but it will help the jerky to be a little less dry.

All of the recipes tell you to mix up the marinade, pour it over the eggplant, and stir to coat. That really doesn’t work very well when you’re working with what is basically a vegetable sponge. The first few slices soak up all the marinade and then you have to press on them to release enough marinade to coat the other slices which still don’t get evenly coated with the marinadde. So I covered the bottom of my bowl with a thin layer of marinade. Placed half the eggplant slices in the bowl, drizzled with half the marinade, added the rest of the eggplant, the rest of the marinade and tossed to coat.

I dehydrated my first batch for 12 hours and while I liked the end result, there were a few pieces which weren’t as dry which I liked even more. So my next batch will go for maybe 8 hours.

Ingredients

2 large eggplant

1/2 cup coconut aminoes, or low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Tandori or Cajun spice mixture

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, optional

Instructions

Trim the bottom and top from the eggplant. Discard.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Stack 4 or 5 rounds and slice into strips.

Place all marinade ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake well.  Coat the bottom of a large bowl with marinade. Working quickly, place half the eggplant in the bowl, drizzle with half the marinade, the remaining eggplant and then the remaining marinade. Toss to combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but you can leave it there all day or overnight.

Place strips on dehydrator trays being careful not to overlap the slices. Depending on your dehydrator you should have 5 to 6 trays. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8 to 12 hours. Take a few pieces out after 6 hours. Let them cool down and see if you like the consistency. If you do then stop the process. If you don’t then let them go for another hour or two and check them again.

And there you have it – your basic recipe for eggplant jerky. The next time I make it I’m going to make the following tweaks to see if I get an even better result:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut aminoes, or low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Tandori or Cajun spice mixture

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

I’m sort of resisting adding the maple syrup because I don’t like to add sugar when it isn’t really needed, but I want to see what happens to this jerky with the addition of the rich amber flavor. I’m also going to use 1 eggplant and 2 medium zucchini. I don’t see why zucchini wouldn’t work and then the tough skin wouldn’t be an issue and it can be easily sliced on the mandoline.

I’ll update this post after trying out the new version. Happy eating!

Gluten Free High Protein Living Food Low Carb Neutral Paleo Vegan Vegetarian

Paleo Creamy Coconut Lime Salad Dressing

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coconut-lime-dressingIf you’re doing Paleo or completely off dairy, you may be missing creamy salad dressings. I was experimenting with coconut cream (I bought a TON of it when there was a sale at Whole Foods) and decided to try it in place of buttermilk in a salad dressing – and it worked!

You can substitute toasted sesame seed oil for the olive oil for an Asian flair.

This dressing is good over greens, or roasted vegetables.

Ingredients

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

zest from 2 limes

1/4 cup coconut cream (stir the contents of the jar first)

1 tablespoon honey, agave syrup or equivilent Stevia or monkfruit

1 tablespoon hot sauce, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Place all ingredients except oil in a blender and buzz until smooth. Keeping the motor running slowly pour in the oil until it’s emulsified into the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Living Food Low Calorie Neutral Recipes

A Very Simple Salad

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lettuce-salad

 

I’ve been working on recipes for the new cookbook for so long that I’ve gotten into the habit of more elaborate meals and it feels good to not only enjoy but look forward to an easy lettuce salad with a very simple salad dressing and one garnish.

The Salad

Fill a bowl with lettuce torn into bite-size pieces. Toss with dressing. Garnish with one item.

The Dressing

Shake or whisk together fresh lemon or lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust to your taste.

The Garnishes

  • avocado
  • hard-boiled egg
  • toasted nuts or seeds
  • shredded chicken or turkey
  • bacon
  • sliced pepperoni, pastrami, corned beef, or prosciutto
  • feta cheese
  • blue cheese
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • orange slices
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • artichoke hearts

Now go enjoy your lunch :)

 

 

Beverages Gluten Free Kid Friendly Living Food Low Calorie Neutral Paleo Recipes Vegan Vegetarian

Delicious Easy Nutritious Coconut Milk

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freshly made coconut milk

freshly made coconut milk

Recently I discovered that the “organic” nondairy milk that I’d been buying wasn’t so organic. It’s right there on the ingredients label, I was just blinded by the “organic” in big letters on the front of the package. I’ll add more to this post next week detailing what I learned, but for today I wanted to give you all who saw my post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter this super simple recipe for coconut milk.

Once I figured out that the only way I was going to get nondairy milk without all the junk added to it was to make it myself I started looking around for the easiest and least expensive way to do this. Almond and cashew milk are fine, but pretty expensive when you’re buying organic nuts AND it’s a little more work than I want to invest.

I’ve yet to try making brown rice milk, which I will and will post about later, but today I had a bunch of coconut flour and shredded coconut and decided to give coconut milk a try.

For my first batch I went with the coconut flour method mostly because I could skip the blender step.

Coconut Flour Milk

Ingredients

4 cups filtered hot water
1 cup organic coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Ingredients

Mix the water, coconut flour and sea salt in a large measuring cup. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. Pour through a very fine sieve, cheesecloth lined colander or nut milk bag. You could also pour through a coffee filter set on top of your coffee pot. Once no more milk is coming through the sieve, press down on the flour to express as much milk as possible. Most people discard the coconut flour that’s left over but I used mine to make a nondairy cream cheese. You could also use it to thicken sauces, stew, soup, or gravy.

My Review: the milk tastes flat and watery, not a lot of flavor. I’ll use it to make a smoothie but won’t make it this way again.

 

Shredded Coconut Milk

Ingredients

4 cups filtered hot water
2 cups organic shredded coconut

Instructions

Pour the water over the shredded coconut in a blender. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or until the water has cooled enough to safely blend. Blend for a few seconds. It doesn’t take much. Pour through a very fine sieve, cheesecloth lined colander or nut milk bag. You could also pour through a coffee filter set on top of your coffee pot. Once no more milk is coming through the sieve, press down on the flour to express as much milk as possible.

The left over shredded coconut can be used in any recipe calling for shredded coconut, however it won’t have as much flavor or fat since these were expressed into the milk, but you will get the bulk and the fiber. You could also just add to your smoothies, pancake batter, home made bread, or yogurt.

My Review: the milk tastes fabulous! I don’t drink milk, even nondairy milk but I had to stop myself from drinking the whole batch and calling it breakfast. I thought I would have to add some sea salt at least, if not vanilla and sweetener, but this milk doesn’t need a thing.

The milk will separate as it sits, just shake it up before you use it. I don’t worry about skimming the fattier cream off the top because I try to add coconut oil to my diet every day anyway.

Beverages Dessert Fruit Kid Friendly Living Food Neutral Recipes Vegetarian

More Fruit Smoothie Recipes

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Basic Fruit Smoothie Instructions:

Place ingredients in a blender – a food processor won’t give you a smooth puree, an immersion blender will work, but not as easy as a counter top blender.

 

Mixed Fruit

1 frozen banana
2 cups mixed fruit
1 cup fresh fruit juice

 

Papaya – Nectarine

1 papaya, peeled, seeded, cut into chunks
1 medium nectarine, pitted, cut into chunks
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup nondairy milk

 

Creamy Pineapple

I prefer this shake made with dates, almond extract and orange juice, and no rum extract. But that’s me, you may love it without dates and with rum extract. When I make this drink for guests I make it how I like it, and pour it into glasses for some of my guests. Then I add the rum extract for the rest of my guests, and viola! everybody’s happy.

1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks
1 banana
1/4 can coconut milk(there is a light version that most supermarkets carry in the Asian foods section which I think tastes watery, but you can boost the flavor with coconut extract)
3 dates, chopped (or 2-3 tablespoons honey, date or maple sugar)
(almond extract )
(rum extract)
(juice from 1-3 oranges)
 

Creamy Pineapple Berry

This is a variation of our Creamy Pineapple Smoothie

1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks
1 banana
4 large strawberries, tops removed
1/4 can coconut milk(there is a light version that most supermarkets carry in the Asian foods section which I think tastes watery, but you can boost the flavor with coconut extract)
3 dates, chopped (or 2-3 tablespoons honey, date or maple sugar)
almond extract, optional
rum extract, optional
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

 

Raspberry – Watermelon

2 cups seeded watermelon, cut into chunks
1 cup raspberries(fresh or frozen)
1 cup ice cubes or 1/2 cup fresh apple or pear juice
2 tablespoons date or maple sugar

 

Creamy Almond

2 bananas
1 apple, cored & peeled
1/4 cup almond butter
dash of sea salt
glug of vanilla

 

Coconut Orange Cream

4 oranges, peeled, sectioned, membrane and seeds discarded
1 banana
2 cups coconut milk (if you use light coconut milk, bolster the flavor with coconut extract)

 

Tropical Cream

Grind to a fine crumb in blender:

1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup date pieces

Add and blend until pureed:

1 tablespoon vanilla
(1/4 cup honey)
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 bananas
2 cups sliced peaches, peeled, fresh or frozen

 

Beverages Living Food Neutral Recipes Vegetarian

Juicing Smuiching – We’re Having Smoothies!

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I promised you some of my veggie smoothie recipes, which if you think about it is really a drinkable soup. Still you can’t just pour soup in a cup and go, well you can, but it won’t be a smoothie, it will be a cup of broth. It’s best to have a smoothie that tastes good cold and is, well smooth (chunk free).

I’m really enjoying taking a veggie smoothie with me when I’m out running errands. Eliminates the need to stop for nourishment, keeps me hydrated and I like having something delicious to sip on as a change from drinking plain water.

If you want a perfectly smooth smoothie then you’ll want to peel and de-seed all vegetables. I don’t always (as in never) have the time and I like to get the nutrition contained in the peels and seeds, so I leave them in.

When pureeing vegetables, roughly chop the veggies, place a little liquid in the blender, then the veggies and buzz until smooth, adding more liquid if needed. Once the veggies are pureed, then you can add the rest of the ingredients and buzz until well mixed.

Depending on the broth or tomato juice that you use you may or may not need to add salt or pepper to your smoothie. So my suggestion is to make the smoothie without adding any salt or pepper, taste and add if needed.

 

Cucumber Salsa Smoothie

1 medium cucumber
1 large tomato
1/4 cup fresh salsa
1/4 fresh cilantro
1/2 cup salsa juice, tomato juice, vegetable broth or water

 

Virgin Bloody Mary

This recipe didn’t take much imagination on my part but it sure is delicious!

3 stalks celery from the heart, including leaves
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
dash Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 dashes hot sauce, or to taste
2 limes, juiced
1 (48-ounce) bottle tomato juice

Chop the celery, including the leaves, and puree in a food processor or blender. Once the celery is pureed add the remaining ingredients and buzz until smooth. Pour the mixture into a large pitcher, add the tomato juice, and stir.

 

Cucumber Dill Smoothie

1 large cucumber
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup silken tofu or yogurt
1/4 cup fresh dill or 1 to 2 tablespoons dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
Add more broth if needed.

 

Mediterranean Smoothie

This recipe is based on one of my favorite soups. I substituted cucumber for the eggplant in the original recipe as eggplant does not taste good raw – trust me, it does not.

3 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 large cucumber, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
3 cups canned tomato juice
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as tarragon, thyme, or parsley), chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt
cayenne pepper

If too thick thin with additional broth or tomato juice.

 

Creamy Tomato Smoothie

I love creamy tomato soup so I came up with this recipe for a creamy tomato smoothie. You can change it up by using 1 cucumber in place of 2 of the tomatoes.

1/2 cup plain yogurt or silken tofu
1/2 cup tomato juice or vegetable broth
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
If smoothie is thick thin with broth or tomato juice.

 

Smoothie de Tortilla

Since Sopa de Tortilla is one of my favorite soups, I was looking forward to developing a smoothie recipe that incorporated the same flavors.

If you can’t find a Sopa de Tortilla broth you can use a canned Sopa de Tortilla as long as it doesn’t contain pieces of chicken.

2 cups Sopa de Tortilla broth
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked corn
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Thin with additional broth or water if needed.

High Protein Living Food Neutral Recipes Vegetarian

Prepare Ahead Packable Low Calorie Low Carb Salads

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Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge so hungry that you can’t even think. No? Well I have plenty of times. For those of you who are often in the same quandry I’ve put together a selection of easy (no measurements and infinitely customizable to use what you already have) make-ahead salads that will be ready to go when you are. Plus they’re perfect to pack up and take along to work, on a hike, to a picnic …

Note: if you’re looking for a Neutral or Vegetarian salad instead of a Protein salad just leave out the meat, cheese or egg. It won’t hurt these recipes at all. Infinitely customizable :)

Spicy Peanut Cucumber Salad

Diced or sliced cucumber, green onion (both white and green parts), tossed with Trader Joes Spicy Peanut Vinegarette.

Optional Garnishes:

  • toasted sesame seed
  • toasted pumpkin seed
  • toasted sunflower seed
  • diced waterchestnut
  • crumbled dried seaweed
  • baked tofu

Ranch Coleslaw

Toss a bag of shredded coleslaw with any sugar-free ranch dressing. Add one or more of the following if you like:

  • chicken or turkey
  • shredded carrot
  • sliced celery
  • diced or shredded jicama
  • diced or shredded zucchini

Orange Cucumber Salad

Diced or sliced cucumber dressed with Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegarette and tossed with one or more of the following:

  • tomato
  • bell pepper
  • zucchini
  • ham or proscutto
  • radishes

Optional Garnishes:

  • feta cheese
  • green or red onion
  • crumbled bacon
  • diced hard-boiled egg
  • olives
  • toasted nuts: walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • toasted seeds: sunflower, pumpkin or pine nuts
Living Food Neutral Recipes

Watermelon Salad

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I LOVE watermelon salad! It’s the perfect thing for lunch or dinner on a hot day. There are so many variations and they’re all fabulous. I’m going to give you this recipe without any measurements because i’s summer and we want to be casual.

Basic Watermelon Salad

  • cubed watermelon
  • sea salt
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • julienned mint leaves

Toss and serve ice cold.

You can add one or more of the following to the basic recipe:

  • cucumber
  • lime juice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • red onion
  • jicama
  • cilantro
  • cumin
  • flat leaf parsley
  • hot pepper
  • crispy bacon
  • crispy pancetta

What will you add to your watermelon salad?

 

Kid Friendly Neutral

Neutral After School Snacks

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There’s nothing like a quick and easy snack that contains no starches, no proteins and is essentially a “neutral” snack. Neutral foods are made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and/or soy.

Apples with Cheese: top apple slices with thin slices of non-dairy cheese.

Apple Peanut Butter Sandwiches: slices of apple topped with peanut butter.

Baked Tofu: slice baked tofu into sticks.

Banana Peanut Butter Bites: slices of banana topped with peanut butter.

Coconut Milk Yogurt: eat as is, use as a fruit dip or freeze in popsicle molds.

Frozen Grapes: freeze grapes. Eat directly from the freezer.

Roasted Endamame: pour one layer of shelled soybeans into a pie plate. Spray or drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and garlic or chili powder if you like. Roast at 450 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 to fifteen minutes. These are more delish than you can imagine!

Soy Yogurt: eat as is, use as a fruit dip or freeze in popsicle molds.

Veggie Sticks: dip radishes, celery, carrot, jicama, cucumber, bell pepper … into your favorite lo-cal dressing or stir lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper and a little garlic into lo-fat yogurt.