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A healthy dessert alternative – Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

19 Aug

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I love me some coconut. And not just food, coconut everything. Coconut oil, candy, body wash, body spray, shampoo, soap, candles, beverages. You name it. I haven’t met something with coconut anywhere in the description that I didn’t like. Seriously. As many of you have picked up, I am working to lead a healthier lifestyle. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat well or live a good life. I still enjoy food, and the whole act of eating. I just choose to make better choices. Organic as often as I can, growing and preserving as much food as possible, and doing much of my cooking from scratch. I have cut back on my beer consumption since that and too large portions are what contributed to my weight gain (fall beers are starting to arrive though, so I’ll have to be strong!!!) I don’t follow any particular diet or eating fad. I’m not gluten free, paleo or vegan. I like meat. I like dairy. I like bread. I don’t stop myself from eating the things that I like, I just limit myself to how much I’m eating. I’ve stopped boredom snacking. When I have a craving for something that may not be the healthiest food choice, I wait a few days. If I still have the craving, I indulge in a small bit of whatever it is I have a hankering for. Like a slice of pie, or a piece of cake. If the craving goes away, it was just a random craving. I certainly don’t exercise as often as I should. My days have been pretty busy as of late with cleaning, gardening, and taking care of my 10lb back surgery dog. So I’m not sitting around. I have actually lost 10lbs of the 30 that I want to lose, and that is mostly with diet changes. It’s amazing how great it feels when a pair of pants that had previously not fit FIT. Like you can button them up and not struggle to breathe. There is no muffin top or unsightly bulge. It’s a total victory. I’m not FAT, but I’m certainly not at my healthiest weight. So this lifestyle change is working, and I can see results. Therefore I choose to continue making healthy food choices. BUT…that doesn’t mean this girl doesn’t want something sweet from time to time. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have it be a healthy sweet treat. Enter in the Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites – aka Coconut Klondike. Coconut is a healthy fat to ingest. Coconut oil has so many benefits I won’t even go into listing them all here. Dark chocolate is also beneficial. One of these little Coconut Bites satisfies a craving without blowing your daily progress and on a hot day, the frozen texture of them helps give you a mini cool down. I love that they are a 2 bite treat (on if you are a man and toss the whole thing in your mouth), there are no added sugars, no processing, no ingredients that can’t be pronounced or identified. They are actually a HEALTHY treat!!!  Go figure!

Your yield for these can vary depending on how much you fill up those muffin liners. I got 30, but know I could have gotten less if I would have packed in the coconut. I also chose to add in some more of the shredded coconut – probably 1/4 cup more so I got a larger yield. The original recipe called for making these in the standard size muffin papers but I chose to do mini so having 2 would feel like a real indulgence.

If you like coconut, are trying to be healthy, or both definitely give these a try. I’m so glad I did!

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Dark Chocolate Frozen Coconut Bites

Yield 20-30

Adapted from PaleOMG

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut

½ cup coconut butter

½ cup organic coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of your food processor, add all of your ingredients with the exception of the dark chocolate chips. Blend it until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed and you have a silky texture with bites of coconut.

Line your mini muffin pan with paper liners, adding a scoop of coconut mixture smashing down the mix with the back of a spoon to level it. You will fill your liners ¾ of the way full, leaving room for chocolate.

After filling all of your muffin cups, melt your chocolate chips. To melt, I used a double boiler, but you can also use the microwave if you want to do it quicker.

Top each coconut cup with melted chocolate until tops are completely covered.

When done, place muffin pan in the freezer for 20 minutes until coconut cups are set and firm. Remove from freezer, transfer to an air tight container and store in freezer.

When you want to eat one, remove it from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes to let the coconut and chocolate soften a little.

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Healthy Meal Idea – Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

22 Apr

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Not because I’ve been overly busy or anything. More like I’ve been trying to enjoy the lovely weather when it comes about. Catching up on some spring cleaning chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and run. Trying out new recipes, and revisiting old ones. I am always on a mission for easy, healthy, simple and QUICK meal ideas. Have you ever noticed that most of the easy meals tend to be unhealthy because you are either eating a premade meal made who knows when, preckaged stuff that has so many preservatives you feel almost pickled after, or it’s laden with fat to compensate for flavor? Blech. Enter in the Spinach & Bacon with White Beans. It’s fast. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s LOW FAT. Even with the butter and bacon. Ya, that’s right. But it’s REAL butter. Not margarine. Not anything that’s 1 step away from being plastic. If you are going to ingest a fat, make it a natural one. BUTTER people. BUTTER. Say it with me….BUTTER. End rant.

Anyways, back to this meal. It’s filling. Because of the beans. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for you, keep you full fiber. It was delicious. No added salt or pepper was needed. I used precooked bacon because it’s quick, and it’s lower in fat and calories, and we always have some on hand. Don’t feel like you HAVE to. Don’t feel like you have to use bacon either – you could use some chopped country ham, prosciutto, salami. Whatever. And you can mix up the greens too – collard greens, mustard greens, kale. I just had a big ass container of spinach, which I happen to love, and wanted to use it up. Boy, I’m glad I whipped this up. I think hubs wished I made a double batch. He wanted more. So, I guess I should say this would serve 2 as a lunch sized portion. Double the recipe if you’ve got a big meal eating man in your life. Next time I make it I think I’ll cook up an egg over easy and top the greens & beans with that. And a little parmesan. Wow. I want that right now.

Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

1 pound fresh organic baby spinach

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 pieces pre cooked bacon, chopped

2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon REAL butter

shaved parmesan

Add butter to a large skillet, letting melt. Add in your garlic and bacon, cooking until bacon is crisp and garlic is starting to get a little crispy looking – about 3 minutes. Add your beans, tossing to coat with the bacon garlic butter mix. Keep tossing until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add your spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring the mixture around to let the spinach wilt and cook through.

Serve immediately, and sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese for an extra hit of flavor!

Sriracha Salt. You’re Welcome.

11 Mar

Nope. You read that right. Sriracha Salt. In the wild world of flavor, this salt is an odd yet flavorful addition to your spice cabinet. I don’t know if Randy Clemens, the author of the Sriracha Cookbook is the originator of the recipe for this tasty salt or not, but I’m just going to go with that.

I don’t have his cookbook. I like sriracha, but not enough to justify giving primo shelf space up for something devoted completely to this one condiment. I don’t know what his exact ratio of ingredients is for his personal mixture, just that it contains kosher salt, sriracha, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. I decided to keep it simple and make up my own mixture. I refused to research any further something as simple as a flavored salt. The process is pretty simple. Measure, mix, dehydrate. Boom.

My suggestion would be to use this as a flavor booster on already cooked foods. Sprinkled on eggs – scrambled or over easy. Sprinkled on roasted veggies, chicken, sandwiches. This would be a great replacement for season salt on wings. Anywhere you would season your meal with salt, this would generally be a decent replacement.  Using it in soup would be something I’d avoid. I think you’ll lose the garlic and sriracha flavor with all that liquid. Although the originator does suggest using the salt to rim glasses for adult bevs – this would be fabulous for a bloody mary!

If you make this, let me know what you think! Don’t feel like making it? Lucky for you, you can buy it from Randy Clemens via Etsy. Buying it’s a bit lazy. This is so easy, just do it yourself!

sriracha salt

Sriracha Salt

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/3 cup sriracha hot sauce

1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix them up. Put a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and spread the mixture in a thin layer over the parchment. Place in the oven on the lowest setting it will go. Once the oven reaches temperature, turn off the oven and let the mixture sit overnight to dehydrate.

The  next day, check the mixture. If it’s still moist, stir it, spreading it into a thin layer again. Put it back in the oven to dehydrate for an hour or two, until totally dry. Once the mixture has cooled, add it to a food processor and pulse until chunks are broken down, and it looks like orange red kosher salt again. Store in an airtight container and use on what you want whenever you want!

Lighter Snack & Lunch Idea – Lightly Pickled Shrimp!

4 Mar

Every time a new year arrives, the gyms flood with people trying to set new goals with their brand new good intentions. The produce aisle and whole grain sections at the grocery stores are cleared of all things healthy as people embark on a quest for better eating habits. Then it dies off, at the latest, in early February and most people go back to their bad food choices and lazy ways. I never make healthy eating or fitness a new years resolution because it’s like setting yourself up for failure. Healthy eating, fitness, lifestyle changes – you can’t give them deadlines. You’ve got to be mentally ready for the challenge. YOU have to want to do it. I think I’m mentally ready to start getting back into shape again after too much good food & beer. I’m cutting back on the good beer, but not cutting it out. Cutting things out leads to binging on those things because you feel deprived. I need REAL life changes and choices, not a quick fix to drop some weight right now, just to gain it back when I get back to normal.

So for the first week I started getting a little more creative with my lunch choices. I wanted meals that would keep me full and give me the most bang for my buck calorie and nutrition wise. That’s why I started eating Spinach & Cheese Toasts – and I wanted to add in something that had some more protein than the mushrooms I was eating with it and it to be light, healthy & flavorful. So I decided to do a quick, light pickling of some medium sized shrimp. Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of “pickled” shrimp. These aren’t anything like eating a kosher dill pickle. These are brightly flavored without being too “pickled” tasting. They have zing from the apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There is a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and garlic. They are just layered with flavor and I love it! I think these will be a great snack and lunch addition, as well as be a great option to take to a summertime picnic or BBQ as an appetizer to share! And the brine? Don’t let it go to waste. It’s lovely smeared on some crusty, whole grain french bread with a couple of the shrimp on top. I think it would also be great as a pasta salad, brining the shrimp overnight and then tossing the jar of ingredients into some pasta. Or quinoa. Next time I make this, I’m going to add in a couple extra shakes of the pepper flakes for a little more zing!

Feel free to double this recipe if you are making it for a group. I made this small batch because I wanted to only have what I would consume over a few days for lunches.

pickled shrimp

Lightly Pickled Shrimp

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, raw, tails off

1 tbsp old bay seasoning

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

couple shakes of red pepper flakes

2 pinches parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into half moons

Fill a small pot halfway with tap water and add the old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil and add shrimp, cooking until pink – about 2 minutes. Dump your shrimp into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. (you are using the mesh strainer so that you don’t lose much of the old bay seasoning!)

Take your mustard seed, celery seed & the couple shakes of red pepper flakes and pulse them through a food mill or grinder  a couple of times just to break them up a bit and release their flavors. Add your salt, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, stirring well to combine. Give it a taste and add more salt or vinegar to get the desired tang and flavor you are looking for.

In a mason jar, put a layer of shrimp, then a layer of onions, and keep layering until you run out of shrimp and onions. Pour the marinade mixture over your shrimp and onions, top with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors melt together.

Before serving, let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes. This will let the olive oil easily mix back in with the vinegar and lemon juices. Right before eating, give the jar a good shake to get everything mixed back together. Enjoy as an appetizer, alongside a sandwich, add to pasta, quinoa, rice – whatever your heart desires! Consume within a few days.

When the chickens give you fresh eggs, make Homemade Brown Sugar Custard Egg Nog!

17 Dec

christmas tree 2012

If this is the first time you are tuning in to Seasoned with Sarcasm, I’ve got chickens. Those hens (and duck) give me eggs daily. Even with it being sporadically cold out (mother nature has our temps all over the place – 25 degrees one day, 52 the next) and it’s getting dark at literally 5:10pm, they are still producing at least 3 eggs per day. That being said, with the holiday baking all completed and us really only eating eggs on weekends, we have a plethora of eggs.

Right around Thanksgiving, I get a hankering for spiced rum spiked egg nog. Especially when I start decorating for Christmas. I’ll buy one of the cardboard cartons from the store and hubs & I will enjoy it until it’s gone. Sometimes I’ll buy a second carton. Or a half gallon. This year, while sipping on a store-bought glass of the stuff, I thought damn. Why don’t I just make my own? It certainly has to be better than the overly sweet store bought stuff. And, I mean, eggs don’t get any fresher than straight out of the nesting box that evening. So I whipped up a batch. Man, I’m glad I did. The hubs and I are really enjoying it. This is my second batch, which I have improved upon with the addition of molasses. This recipe is for a custard like egg nog. If it is too thick for your liking, add a little more milk or cream. Since it is cooked, it will last a little bit longer than its uncooked counterpart. For best quality and flavor, consume within 5 days.

Why is it called BROWN SUGAR Custard Egg Nog if there isn’t actual brown sugar IN the recipe? Because all brown sugar is white sugar mixed with some molasses. I decided to use white table sugar and add the molasses for a more concentrated flavor. Plus, I was fresh out of brown sugar from all my baking.

Feel free to use whatever type of sugar you like. Splenda, Stevia, brown sugar, raw sugar, agave nectar. Whatever floats your boat! Just remember to adjust according to what you are using. I have made this with Stevia liquid as well and it’s just as delicious. Don’t like spiced rum? Spike it with some whisky, scotch, vodka. Or leave it virgin. I like the additional spice flavor added from the spiced rum. I use The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. It’s extra dark and takes this egg nog to the next level. And every time I pour some I say “Release The Kraken!!!!”  just like Liam Neeson in Clash of the Titans.

eggnog

Homemade Brown Sugar Custard Egg Nog

serves 4

  • 2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks, preferably fresh
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces spiced rum
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Add your eggs to a medium sized bowl (or stand mixer bowl). Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and molasses and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add your milk, heavy cream, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove your saucepan from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixer with the egg/sugar mix. Return everything to your saucepan and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat and stir in the spiced rum. Strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any thick custard like pieces of egg nog. Bottle and let chill overnight.

Serve with an additional sprinkle of nutmeg and whipped cream if desired. For a kid friendly version, skip the spiced rum.

The DIY Life: Homemade Bruschetta Mix

31 Oct

Round 3 of tomatopalooza resulted in 14 jars of this loveliness called bruschetta. The house smelled amazing. The jars looked gorgeous. I was going to mince and chop the tomatoes so fine that I wouldn’t mind eating it, but decided against that. I rough chopped them and thought hey, if I want to eat it, I can take the immersion blender to it so it’s a little smoother and less chunky for my liking. I love everything tomato but the actual tomatoes – so I don’t like them in chunks either. Salsa for me has to be fairly smooth. I know I know. It’s the texture. That firm mushiness just gives me the heeby jeebies. I can’t help it.

I did this with fresh tomatoes because I had some around. I have tons in the freezer too but think recipes like this are better suited for the fresh kind. I got this recipe straight off of the ball canning and preserving website. I didn’t have dry white wine, so I used a dry red. Instead of the dried oregano, I used dried chives. Instead of plum tomatoes I used Roma’s. Everything else I followed, because in the canning world, you don’t mess with acid ratios. Nope, no way no how. I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes on hand that it didn’t make sense not to. I will certainly be gifting some of this loveliness come the holidays. And we will be enjoying it come the holidays.

For the recipe, click HERE.

For photos, look no further than below this sentence. Gorgeous!

Simple and tasty appetizer – GF Spicy Shrimp Cups

15 Oct

I love shrimp. And sushi. And cucumbers. And Sriracha hot sauce. Combine all those things and you have something FANTASTIC!!! I saw the idea for this appetizer over at Big Red Kitchen, where she puts everything and anything into jars. There are these little “grab a pint” mini meals to take on the go. She posted an option for spicy shrimp rolls. I drooled on the keyboard and wanted to eat the screen. I LOVE spicy shrimp rolls. When we go out for sushi, I get spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy lobster – you get the point. So I thought to myself, I’ve got to adapt this into an appetizer option for a larger crowd AND make sure it’s Gluten Free so my SIL can grub on it. Hence the cucumber “cups” – they are the perfect bite size option. They are a way healthier appetizer option since they are not fried and you are getting a veggie from the cukes and a nice bit of protein from the shrimp. I’m not going to lie. I could have eaten the whole tray of these by myself. And there was not one of these little cups left at the end of the night. They were being eaten like potato chips.

I ended up using 2 1/2 of the english cucumbers for my batch, so be sure to buy at least 3. Or buy 2, and then eat any leftover spicy shrimp mixture on a piece of bread. Or a cracker. Or just with a spoon shoving it straight into your pie hole. Whatever works for you!

After my shrimp mixture had sat in the fridge for an hour, there was what appeared to be a lot of liquid, like they had let a little more water out. So I put the mixture into a fine mesh colander and drained off the excess so I didn’t have soupy shrimp cups. This may not be an issue for you, but if it happens, you’ve just been given a solution!

Feel free to add more or less Sriracha to suit your tastes. I felt the heaping tablespoon was sufficient for the crowd I was feeding, but you might think it too spicy. Or not spicy enough!

While my adaptation was to make it an appetizer, this is also great as a lunch option for a couple of days, kind of like a shrimp salad but better. Healthier. I gave it a try as a twist on the lobster roll – whole wheat baguette, some baby spinach and arugula plus the spicy shrimp. It was a fantastic, healthy and filling lunch!

Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp Cups

adapted from Big Red Kitchen

2-3 English cucumbers (long seedless cukes)

1 12oz bag frozen small shrimp – thawed and drained of excess water

3 tablespoons Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo – see note

1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

Black Sesame Seeds for garnish

Take your thawed small shrimp and add them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop up the shrimp.

Add chopped shrimp to a bowl along with the mayo and Sriracha. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, peel your cucumbers and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the seeded section, leaving a thin bit on the bottom to create a “cup”.

Add a scoop of the spicy shrimp mixture to each cup and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Keep chilled.

Note: Hellman’s mayonnaise is Gluten Free. If you are not concerned with the recipe being GF, feel free to use whatever you like. If you are following a GF diet and have other alternatives of GF mayo, you may substitute that for the Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo.