Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coconut Sunflower Seed Cookies- Gluten Free!

These yummy cookies taste the best when fresh, unprocessed ingredients are used to make them. So I urge you to go to your local health food store or whole foods (or even online) and buy fresh ingredients!!   ** Variations listed below for those who want regular(not gluten free) version!
Some of the bigger grocery stores will sell shredded coconut- but for a price. Here is a list of what shredded coconut could contain: Coconut, Sugar, Water, Propylene Glycol (Preserves Freshness), Salt, Sodium Metabisulfite (Retains Coconut Whiteness). Believe me, I dont want to eat Propylene Glycol on a regular basis. Do you?  Read more about it here: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=240
Save yourself and choose a shredded coconut without all the extras. Whole foods sells it in Bulk and it is also availble on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Unsweetened-Shredded/dp/B000ED9LIU
And one of my favorite websites for healthy foods is vitacost.com. They sell coconut flakes and shredded coconut. Here's the link: http://www.vitacost.com/lets-do-organic-coconut-flakes-7-oz-each-pack-of-2-1?csrc=GPF-PA-043181009254&{ifmobile:298346236}&ci_sku=043181009254&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw={keyword}&gclid=CPWkyJP_6rQCFcKPPAodLgcABA
I would always rather foods that don't contain additives, preservatives or added sugar. I add my own sugar to my recipes. And I usually choose a healthy sugar such as palm sugar. This one actually contains vitamins, minerals and is low glycemic:

So now you know where to get these ingredients fresh, here's the recipe! Enjoy!

1/2 (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp ground flax   (Keep this ingredient in the freezer to keep it fresh for a long time!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup arrow root starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 tsp baking powder- alumminum & gluten free


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*For this recipe, I prefer a crispier cookie since the coconut gets toasty and gives a nice flavor.
Put butter, flax and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy and blended. Add egg, vanilla and salt and beat again until just blended. Stir in shredded coconut and sunflower seeds. 
In a separate bowl, combine coconut flakes, brown rice flour, arrow root starch and baking powder. Mix well.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stir until combined.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet, spacing them about an inch and a half apart. These do not rise or spread out much. Bake until golden brown- about 5-7 minutes. These cookies will give a very fragrant smell when ready. Enjoy!

**Variations for regular cookies: Use 1 cup all purpose/whole wheat pastry flour instead of arrow root starch and brown rice flour, and use 1 cup oatmeal instead of coconut flakes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pasta Primavera- Gluten Free or Regular

This recipe can easily be made gluten free or with regular pasta. My favorite type of gluten free pasta is organic brown rice pasta:
I have been able to find this brand at my local grocery store. Its not mushy and has a great taste, perfect for pasta primavera.

Pasta Primavera


8ounce package of penne pasta (gluten free or regular depending on dietary needs)
2 medium bellpeppers(I used red & orange), seeded and chopped into 1 inch square pieces
1 cup of sugar snap peas
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (These are easy to buy pre-shredded)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup grated Romano. (1/2 cup goes in pasta, the rest is used to sprinkle on top)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp GF tamari (or regular soy sauce for a NON gluten free version)
salt and pepper to taste
Please refer to this post on how to chop vegetables, if needed: http://wholesomelysweet.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-chop-vegetables.html
Step 1: Rinse and cut vegetables, grate cheese. Get all ingredients ready and measured.
Step2: Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse pasta and save 1 tbsp water. Toss pasta with 1 tsp olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together and set aside.
Step 3: While pasta is cooking, Cook bell pepper, snap peas, squash and zucchini in a large skillet or wok on medium high heat with 2 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 to 7  minutes until all veggies are tender.  If needed, add more olive oil to keep from sticking. Season with salt, pepper and tamari sauce. 
*Dont overcook or you will end up with mushy vegetables!
Step 4: Add pasta and 1 tbsp reserved pasta water to veggies. Season to taste with salt, pepper and romano cheese. Mix well.
Step 5: This dish should be served immediately and topped with additional cheese.

How to Chop Vegetables

**For Those of you who are just learning to cook, I found this knowledge very helpful with recipes. Knowing how to cut your vegetables is key in getting the recipe turn out the right way.

 First, lets start with How to slice a bell pepper: Video by Chef Tony from bbqguys.com

Next, here's a video on how to cut an onion, also Chef Tony, bbquys:


Here are some other helpful basics:


  1. Peel vegetable. Trim ends.
  2. Slice vegetable into 2-inch x 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Stack the slices and cut into lengthwise 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch strips.


  1. Roughly chop vegetable on cutting board with chef's knife.
  2. Continue to chop until vegetables are very finely chopped.


  1. Slice vegetable into 2 inch x 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Stack vegetables and slice into 1/2 inch vertical slices. Hold slices tightly with hand and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch intervals


  1. Repeat as above except cut pieces into 1-inch pieces.


  1. Slice vegetable on the diagonal at 1/2-inch intervals with knife held at a 45 degree angle during slicing.
How to cut vegetables, provided by: http://www.lhj.com/recipes/easy/cut-vegetables/

Now put your skills to work! Pasta Primavera Recipe up next!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's for Dinner? Easy Baked Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa

I want to start off by saying that I took a nice long break to focus on planning and enjoying our beautiful wedding! I couldn't ask for a sweeter husband and more supportive family, it was an amazing time!! Here's a glimpse of our beautiful ceremony:

With that being said, now I can continue..
 One thing my husband tells me the one thing he enjoys the most about my cooking is how good his stomach feels afterwards. Let me explain. Sometimes when you go out to eat, or eat unhealthy foods, you are left with rumbling in your stomach and feelings of extreme fullness. Heartburn, indigestion, etc. are signs that you ate something that your body is not digesting well.
Over time, poor digestion leads to malnutrition and, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to various health problems, including fatigue, depression, weakened immune system, anemia, muscular weakness, digestive, lung and heart problems and poor skin integrity. Poor digestion equals poor health.
That is why I strive to use natural ingredients that are whole foods in my meals so that after the meal, you are left with a happy tummy and a healthy body!
Eating healthy can be easy once you get used to cooking your own meals. Here is what I made for dinner with a break down of 3 easy recipes: Baked Chicken with Lemon & Herbs, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa and a light salad. Please read through all recipes and follow the steps to see how to prepare them so that everything is ready at the same time. This takes practice but comes easy over time.
Baked Chicken with Lemon & Herbs
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp dryed basil
1 tsp dryed oregano
Step 1: prepare chicken and put in oven for 50 minutes total.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken thighs into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare marinade by mixing olive oil, butter and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add in herbs and mix well. Pour marinade over chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinade for 10-30 minutes in the fridge. Once chicken has marinated, layer the chicken out into a large baking dish, skin up and cover dish with aluminum foil. Place in heated oven. total cooking time is 45 minutes plus an extra 5 minutes for browning.
 *Add sweet potatoes to oven with chicken after 15 minutes. Once you remove the sweet potatoes, remove the aluminum foil, turn heat up to 450 degrees and allow chicken to brown for about 5 more minutes.
Roasted Honey Sweet Potatoes
2 lbs sweet potatoes (or 4 large), rinsed and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Step 2: Cut and rinse sweet potatoes, toss with glaze and place in oven with chicken for 30 min.
Place cut sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Make a simple glaze for the potatoes by mixing olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Add in honey, mix well. Pour over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt and lightly with pepper. Spread out the sweet potatoes evenly onto a large baking sheet. Place them in the oven once chicken has been baking for 15 minutes. The potatoes will take 30 minutes to fully cook and you should toss them around half way through to make sure the cook evenly. Remove from oven once tender. *You will then need to brown the chicken for 5 more minutes on high heat. Allow potatoes and chicken to cool some before serving.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin for flavor
Step 3: Rinse quinoa well and cook for 15-20 minutes until fluffy
Once well rinsed, add quinoa and water to a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add butter and simmer for 15-20 minutes until fluffy. Season with salt and cumin once cooked.
**Optional: add in finely chopped veggies such as squash and zucchinni, carrots, spinach or bellpepper half way through cooking. Other ideas for flavor:  use 1 cup water and 1 cup broth. Which ever option you choose, dont over do it. Quinoa has a great nutty flavor and doesnt require much additions, it tastes well just lightly seasoned. And of course, it's gluten free! It is very nutrient dense and is a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids. Read more about it here:  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice

Chopped tomatoes
Chopped avocado
Coconut vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 4: Create a light, easy salad to go with your meal for added veggies.
Toss some awesome veggies with a light dressing, salt and pepper right before your meal is ready. I have been using coconut vinegar on my salads along with olive oil and it gives such a great taste. It also is very low glycemic, and is an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. Its very healthy and inexpensive. The Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Vinegar can be ordered at my favorite site: www.vitacost.com.

If you followed the steps and watched the timer, all items should be ready about the same time.  Here's my finished meal:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gluten Free Pancakes

These pancakes taste even better if you make them the night before and let the flours soak overnight. Gluten free pancakes tend to taste a little grainy compared to the regular ones. Allowing the mix to sit in the fridge overnight helps the grains to soften up and taste more like regular pancakes.


2 tsp ground flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup arrow root starch
1/4 cup brown rice flour
Optional* 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup kefir or buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp butter melted and cooled slightly
2 tbsp honey or sugar (I used coconut sugar)

Preheat a skillet to medium heat.
Mix all dry ingredients well in a large bowl. 
Mix egg yolks with kefir and vanilla in a small bowl. 
Separately, whip egg whites with a whisk until frothy. 
Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add honey and butter, mix well. Next, blend in egg whites until fully mixed. 
Add about a tsp of coconut oil or butter to preheated skillet. Scoop or ladle about 1/4 cup of mixture at a time, allowing it to brown a few minutes before flipping. When it is ready to flip,  you will see bubbles starting to form around the edges, as shown in the picture below. The second side should only take about 1 to 2 minutes before ready. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scrambled Eggs, Veggie Style

Add some spice to your morning routine! We are trying to incorporate veggies into all our meals and this is a great way to start off your day with them. Of course, you could try different veggies. This is just one example how you can add veggies to breakfast.

6 eggs
4 tbsp milk or water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Start off by preheating a cast iron skillet or other skillet to medium heat.
In a medium size bowl, about 4 tbsp water or milk and eggs. Whisk well.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and olive oil to skillet. Allow them to heat about 30 seconds and then add eggs. Stir eggs as they cook. Once almost cooked, add chopped spinach and mix well. Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sharing Homemade Tiramisu with my Lovely Sister!

I made a yummy gluten free Tiramisu this week and was able to share it with my sister. Desserts are even better when you can share them with the people you love!
This is a very easy recipe to make. But, it does require espresso, which gives it a rich flavor. Since I don't have a good espresso maker, I found myself at Starbucks asking for 10 shots of espresso.. hehe!
Tiramisu happens to be a dessert that both my sister and I love, and we were happy to indulge in this one since we both eat gluten free. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
*And of course, you could use regular lady fingers if you do not eat gluten free.

One taste of Hazelnut coffee and she's hooked! It's even more delicious when paired with Tiramisu!

Good until the last bite! 
A special thanks to my sister for being my model and enjoying my homemade Tiramisu with me!

1 (5.3 oz) box or 15 gluten free lady fingers 

About 8 or 9 shots espresso (you could use coffee, but it wont have as rich of a flavor!)
2 tsp dark or golden rum
2 1/2 tbsp cane sugar
8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Pour espresso into a large shallow baking dish to cool. Once cooled, place lady fingers in espresso for about 10 seconds on each side, allowing espresso to soak in. Don't over soak them, as this may cause them to fall apart. Remove and layer half of lady fingers evenly into a smaller, 8 inch baking dish. Set the others aside, out of the espresso.
Blend sugar and egg yolks in a mixer at medium speed for about 5 minutes until pale yellow and thick. Add rum and 1 tbsp espresso. Mix well.
Add half of the mascarpone mixture evenly on top of lady fingers. Sprinkle half of cocoa powder on top evenly. Add the rest of lady fingers on top of cocoa. Add the rest of mascarpone mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle the rest of the cocoa powder on top. Now you have two layers of lady fingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder. It just needs to sit at least 8 hours in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. 
**We tasted ours early and the lady fingers were still crispy. This is how you know it is not ready. The longer it sits, the better it will taste. After one full day, the lady fingers will absorb more flavor and soften. This is when it's best. Enjoy!!

**Caution is suggested in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.