Kitchen Sink Muffins… or loaf

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45-55 minutes

Yields: 6 Muffins or 9 Squares

Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan option, refined sugar free

My best friend’s mom used to make the craziest muffins when we were teenagers. They were always loaded with fruits and vegetables (mainly vegetables) and never contained sugar.

I made Big Al’s banana bread for John the other day, so I set out to making an alternative for myself. I wasn’t thinking about Cynthia’s muffins when I started, but then the memory hit me so hard. We still have a few (several?) weeks left living on Sao Miguel before we head back to the states, and while I will miss it here, I am glad to be going home to things like my friends who have mom’s who used to make crazy muffins.

Here is what I made the other day, but you could easily swap ingredients depending on your tastes/what you have in your kitchen:

  • 1 cup zucchini, grated AND squeezed dry
  • 1 carrot, grated AND squeezed dry
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 eggs (or egg replacements like chia eggs or flax eggs–I used one real egg and one chia egg and one flax egg)
  • 1 T honey or maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400F.

I started by mixing 1 T of chia seeds and 1 T of flax seeds with 6 T water and putting in the fridge to use later. I then began mashing up my banana in a bowl.  I made the mistake of grating the zucchini right into the same bowl. I had some leftover zucchini middles from making zucchini pasta, so I didn’t use the peel, but you definitely could and it would add flavor, texture, and color. This made my batter very wet, so make sure you grate the zucchini (and the carrot!) onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to absorb some of the liquid.

Once I had grated the zucchini and the carrot I folded it into my banana. I added one egg and the chia egg and flax egg I had made first. Then I added 1 T honey. Once I had mixed all my wet ingredients, I began adding the almond flour. At first I only used 1/2 cup, but it soon became clear I would need more. This is probably because I had so much excess water due to the zucchini and carrot mishap. I would start by adding 1/2 a cup and then adding more as needed.

Place in greased muffin tins (should make six decent sized muffins), loaf pan, or 8×8 Pyrex dish and bake for 45-55 minutes. The batter will not rise, but will become golden brown and firm. I used an 8×8 pan and cut 9 squares.

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Almond Corn Pancakes (GF, refined SF, DF)

I love pancakes. I basically run for my love of pancakes. I use my love of pancakes to get through long training runs (alone, up gigantic hills also known as lombas). Each week after my 10-, 12-, or 14-mile run I indulge in a re-fuel pancake session. However, since cutting gluten and refined sugar, I’ve had a hard time finding a pancake that doesn’t taste like a soggy oatmeal cookie (not that I don’t love those, too).

This week after my 10 mile solo lomba run, I made pancakes with almond flour and corn flour instead of my usual oats. I topped them with honey, slivered almond, and bananas. They were so good. They were so good that I will continue to run just so I can eat them again. And again. And again.

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Yields: 1 serving (I got 6 silver dollar cakes out of my batch)

Prep & Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 corn flour (not corn starch)
  • 2 egg whites (or one egg)
  • 3 tbs soy milk (or almond… or coconut)
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

Toppings:

  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs slivered almonds
  • 1 sliced banana
  • or whatever you like!

Beat the eggs with non-dairy milk until fluffy. Add in flours and baking powder until just mixed (some lumps are good–they make for fluffier cakes!). Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, melt a little butter or coconut oil (whatever your style is) and turn heat to medium-high. Pour batter into skillet, about 1/2 ladle-full for each cake. Cook 4-5 minutes before flipping (cakes will be slightly golden) and cook another 3 minutes on the second side. Transfer pancakes to serving plate and top to your choosing.

Homemade Azorean Meat Sauce

Since we arrived in Portugal I’ve had to learn how to do lots of things I didn’t know before. I have had to learn how to tell when bananas are ripe, I have had to learn how to do laundry, and I had to learn how to cook sauce from nothing. I fully admit that I never tried to make sauce before I lived on this island; I would buy a jar of Newman’s Own, Barilla, or Classico warm it up, and put it on some pasta. I would call it a meal.

One of the first nights we were here, John had practice with the junior team. He had told me which sauce to buy at the supermarket, since I had not learned yet how to translate Portuguese labels, and I tried to make dinner for when he got home.  What we had purchased was in fact tomato paste (polpo do tomate) and my old routine of warming it up and putting it on pasta was probably not going to suffice. I have come along way and tried many different ways to make sauce using polpo do tomate, but this is the best I’ve done.

Prep & Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 people

You will need:

  • 1 small can (or large bottle, if you happen to live in Portugal) of tomato paste, or polpo do tomate
  • 2 ripe, medium-sized tomatoes (roma are great, but really anything larger than a cherry tomato should do the trick), diced with juices
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 lb lean beef
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbs Azorean pimenta paste (this I do not yet know how to acquire in the states… I will update ASAP)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan, warm-up the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (I even let some of them get a little caramelized… it’s up to you!). Add the garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the oregano and cook until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to separate from pulp. Once the tomatoes are nice and soft (10-15 minutes), add the ground beef. Stirring until brown and spread evenly throughout sauce. Add 1/2 cup tomato paste and mix thoroughly. Add pimenta if you are lucky enough to have it. They literally sell it by the gallon here on Sao Miguel in every type of store. Simmer for 10 minutes to 8 hours. Eat at your leisure.

Serving suggestions:

I eat mine over zucchini “pasta” but John eats his on spaghetti. Get wild.

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Chia Almond PB Balls

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This is a recipe I’ve made differently each time I’ve made them. I will explain some of the other alternative ingredients, but here’s my favorite so far.

Prep time: <10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

*Preheat oven to 350F

You will need:

  • 1 fairly ripe banana (no brown spots is OK)
  • 50gr oats (gluten-free if available)
  • 3 tbs peanut butter (I have not experimented with natural or homemade PB.. use at your own risk! Hell, comment if it works out for you)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 4 tbs chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Start by slicing and then mashing the banana in a mixing bowl by itself. Add in oats, PB, and chia seeds and mix well. Fold in almonds and raisins.

Grease a glass baking pan and place teaspoon sized balls of dough onto pan (if you have a small ice cream scoop, I’m sure this would be easier–I use two teaspoons). After I have measured out all the dough, I pour a little oil on my hands and roll them into balls.

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Yields between 12-14 balls. Place in oven at 350F for 15 minutes to set. Take out and allow to cool.

I have also made them with more oats, less chia seeds, no raisins, and with chocolate chips. Take out anything you don’t like and try out something you like.

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I wrap them individually in tin foil so I can take them with me easily. However you choose to contain them, make sure you keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to take them or pack them for a snack.

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Big Al’s Banana Bread– full of gluten, dairy, and sugar!

This is my mom’s classic banana bread. I can’t remember now where the recipe originally slipped into our family (Betty Crocker?) but it has been a staple comfort food in my house. While I also have a fabulous gluten-free option, here is the original!

*Preheat oven to 350F

You will need:

  • 3 overly-ripe bananas (the more brown spots, the better), sliced
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups white flour
  • Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, chocolate chips, blueberries…

Wet Ingredients:

In a food processor (or by hand, just slightly more time consuming) place sliced bananas, sugar, softened butter, milk, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.

Dry Ingredients:

Put flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss lightly to spread baking soda & powder throughout flour. Slowly add the wet ingredients until mostly smooth. Some clumps are good as they will help keep the bread fluffy and less dense.

If you are going to add walnuts or chocolate chips (or blueberries… the possibilities are endless), now is the time. Fold them in slowly.

Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray and pour in batter. Smooth out the top with a spoon until the mixture is spread evenly throughout the pan. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes, checking with a toothpick. Top of bread will brown and split.

Honey Banana Cornbread–gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free

A gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free spin on one of my favorite recipes.

My mom (who I don’t credit for being good in the kitchen) has made this banana bread recipe for as long as I can remember, and I have copied her for years. I haven’t always been known to cook a lot either, but people remember my classic banana bread.

I have been missing it since I went (mostly) gluten-free, and since I always have bananas on hand, I decided to give it a go. I picked up some corn flour the other day, poked around on Pinterest for inspiration, and here is the final product:

*Preheat oven to 350F

You will need:

  • 3 overly-ripe bananas (the more brown spots, the better), sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs butter alternative (I used Planta vegetable spread, but you could use coconut oil, applesauce, smart balance, earth balance, etc)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy, because you do what you can here on Gilligan’s island–but almond or coconut would work, too)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups corn flour (I guess Bob’s Red Mill is commonplace in the States, corn flour is easy to come by in the Azores)

Wet Ingredients:

In a food processor (or by hand, just slightly more time consuming) place sliced bananas, honey, egg, butter/butter alternative, and non-dairy milk. Blend until smooth.

Dry Ingredients:

Put flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss lightly to spread baking soda & powder throughout flour. Slowly add the wet ingredients until mostly smooth. Some clumps are good as they will help keep the bread fluffy and less dense.

Spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour in batter. Smooth out the top with a spoon until the mixture is spread evenly throughout the pan. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes, checking with a toothpick. Color of batter will become slightly more golden.

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Honey-Soy-Garlic Chicken Lettuce Wraps w/Black Bean & Corn Salsa

While the name is incredibly cumbersome, the recipe, I assure you, is not. I am mostly about quick, easy, whole food, nutrition, and these wraps fit the bill.

Prep & Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

IMG_1784Runner, blogger, fitness enthusiast, blah blah blah. One thing I am not is a photographer.

You will need:

Chicken:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (can use gluten-free)
  • 1 garlic clove

Salsa:

  • 1/2 cup canned corn (or fresh, should you have it)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinse and drained
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (can use gluten-free)
  • 1 garlic clove

Wraps:

  • about 10 full lettuce leaves, washed and dried

For the chicken. Put the oil, honey, and soy in a skillet and bring to medium heat. Cut the chicken breasts into one-inch cubes and mince the garlic. Once the pan is warm, add the chicken and garlic to the skillet and stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through; about 15 minutes. While this chicken is cooking, you can make the salsa. Once the chicken is cooked through, turn the heat up to high to get a nice, crispy sear on the chicken. Turn off heat and transfer to serving dish.

For the salsa. While the chicken is cooking, cube the tomato and roughly chop the onion and garlic. Put these three ingredients in a food processor and pulse on low until desired texture (smaller than originally chopped, but still chunky). Put the corn and rinsed beans in a bowl and add the tomato/onion/garlic mixture. Add soy sauce and honey and stir well. Salt & pepper to taste.

Use utensils (or fingers!) to place chicken inside lettuce leaves and garnish generously with salsa. This should yield about 5 wraps each for two people.