Archive for Wellness Weekends

Sweet Potato and Nut Butter Snack

Early morning Qigong sessions three times a week are energizing and really get my day off to a good start. It took me a while to figure out footwear – sandals, sneakers, or bare foot. I settled on some sneakers with plenty of toe room.

Did I want to eat before class or not? Just coffee, even with a goodly amount of coconut milk left me with a grumbling stomach by the end of the hour, not to mention the urge to eat the first available edible in the kitchen. Having a Breakfast Salad or a Smoothie in a Bowl produced internal gurgling sounds that I feared were amplified by the acoustics in our meeting room.

Several weeks ago a dear friend attended the annual East Texas Yamboree Festival  in Gilmer, Texas and acknowledging our shared love of all things sweet potato she brought me several freshly harvested sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a major crop in that area and if you are interested in some really decadent recipes you can find a couple at Tex Tater’s Home Page.

I love these golden gems pretty much straight up but a long time favorite mid-morning snack when I was working consisted of half of a small baked sweet potato garnished with cinnamon sugar and peanut butter. (That really helped to keep me out of the office donut box!)

You can ‘bake’ a sweet potato in the microwave – which works better if the sweet potatoes have dried out somewhat and do not contain a lot of moisture that steams up the microwave to the extent that opening the door rains moisture on your feet. Fresh sweet potatoes in the oven – oh my – the juices run out (don’t forget to pierce them like white potatoes) and caramelize on the pan!

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

Sweet Potato & Nut Butter Snack

For my early morning mini-snacks I scoop 2-3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato on to a plate, sprinkled cinnamon and sweetener, and added about a tablespoon of nut butter. I alternate between organic peanut butter and organic almond butter. Mashed together with a salad fork it doesn’t win a beauty contest so for a decent picture I scooped the mixture into a 3-ounce ramekin and took a quick picture before devouring all of it. A recipe looks something like this:

Ingredients for 1 serving:
3 tablespoons of roasted sweet potato
1.5 tablespoons nut butter (peanut or almond)
2-3 shakes of ground cinnamon
1 packet of your favorite non-nutritive sweetener of your choice
(really – sweet potatoes have enough sugar and you may not need any)
(a monster sweet-tooth like mine needs it)

Mash the sweet potato. Then mash in the nut butter. Add the cinnamon and sweetener as the mixture is coming together.
Put in a small container with a secure lid for transport or eat it right away :-)

One large roasted sweet potato will make enough for several days so it may work better for your schedule to mix up the whole roasted sweet potato and portion it out into servings. Knowing full well that I would eat it all at once I make one serving at a time. That is my version of ‘portion control’ that works for me.

Sweet potatoes are in season. If you like them and/or your family likes them consider this as a highly nutritious budget friendly alternative to packaged options.

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, November 7-11, 2013
at Ricki

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Breakfast (or Anytime) Salad

Smoothies, they’re everywhere! I don’t have and not sure I need/want a high-powered blender. After years of weight battles I long ago adopted the philosophy of only eating calories; never drinking them. But smoothies have an amazing combination of flavors and nutrition – what to do!

This morning I needed mega nutrients after a weekend of allergy misery and one full day mostly sleeping. I woke up too early and made my current favorite morning cup-of-coffee that includes coconut milk and coconut oil shaken together with stevia and vanilla for a caffeine kick plus gut healing.

I crawled back into bed and half-awake made a mental inventory of the nutritious elements in the refrigerator that needed using up this week. Plus, what could I have for breakfast? Somewhere in the middle of dozing I suddenly knew that I was getting out the food processor and chopping up my breakfast using some of those refrigerator goodies.

Breakfast (or Anytime) Chopped Salad

Breakfast (or Anytime) Chopped Salad

In the kitchen I quickly jotted down some notes as those foggy morning inspirations tend to disappear like clouds on a summer day. I took out celery, chickpeas (home-cooked), organic carrots, fresh parsley, walnuts (from the freezer), and a lonely pear leftover from making Grain-Free Autumn Fruit Crumble from *Ricki Heller’s fabulous new recipe book!

Breakfast (or Anytime) Salad
(Measurements are estimated)

1 1/2 cups rough chopped celery including leafy part

1 cup chickpeas, home-cooked (canned is OK)

1/2 cup carrot pieces

1 cup fresh parsley, cut up with scissors

1 fresh pear, cut up, peeled or not (an apple would work)

1/2 cup walnut pieces

12-14 Kalamata olives

Garlic powder

Sea salt

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse about 10 or 12 times. Check the consistency. Mine was finer than coleslaw but none of it was mushy. This amount made three packed 1-cup servings. There is a lot of space between the larger pieces that disappear when finely chopped and compressed.

Fast & Easy Chopping

Fast & Easy Chopping

I was amazed at how well this turned out as other ingredients were considered during the process. There was a jar that would not open, I could not remember where I put the balsamic vinegar, and another bottle (in the fridge) was empty. I had the sense of unseen helpers guiding my selections. :-)

Gretchen @gfedge

*Ricki Heller’s delightful publication, Naturally Sweet and Gluten-Free, is a recipe book of gourmet treats that just happens to be nutritious, allergy-adaptable food. ABC News featured article in their Lifestyle section was titled Gluten-Free Desserts You Have to Taste to Believe and the recipes from this book that are shared in the article will make you a believer!

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, October  10-14, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Grain-free Croutons – Searching for Perfection

A funny thing happened on the way to see the whales in Alaska. We spent an extra day in Seattle to do a bit of sightseeing and the restaurant where we ate dinner had a gluten-free menu. My salad arrived with small, spherical, delicately crunchy, slightly salty ‘croutons’. Best crouton substitutes ever! I decided in that moment that I had to learn to make oven-roasted chickpeas like these!

Chickpea, Macadamia, & Falafel Croutons

Chickpea, Macadamia, & Falafel Croutons

Such was the beginning of several weeks of experiments in search of those perfect croutons. I should have taken a picture because the only memory retained was the slight saltiness, the pale color, and the delicate crunch. Once back home the search began with home-cooked chickpeas.

Option 1: After several batches of chickpeas, different internet recipes, varying lengths of time in the oven; nada, none of the batches were even close I did not want to give up.  Friends sampled them and we agreed – the spicy taste was great but the texture was not, certainly nothing like my memory of those delightful little salad morsels. On the plus side I had plenty of roasted chickpeas saved in the freezer.

Chickpeas  Saved for Travel Snacks

Chickpeas Saved for Travel Snacks

Option 2:  Fast forward ahead to Sister’s Day with Mandie, who recently moved to Austin and much closer to me! I brought over a batch of  Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad  (inspired by Ricki Heller’s Recipe ) for our lunch. As we ate I described the dilemma with the mysterious gluten-free, grain-free crouton. I can laugh now when I think about the scenarios we brainstormed. We even considered soaking chickpeas in a lye solution as in making hominy to achieve the white color!

Mandie & Worn-out, Dozing Augie

Mandie & Worn-out, Dozing Augie

While we talked Augie Dog was barking louder than we could talk. Mandie banished him to the backyard but since it was blazing hot she threw him in the pool to cool off. If he was still barking when he dried out it was ‘back in the pool’! When he quit barking and curled up on the porch he was allowed back inside. He was finally quiet and fell asleep in her arms.

Munchy, Munchy, Macadamia

Munchy, Munchy, Macadamia

Then Mandie brought out a special treat that she and Eric love – macadamia nuts. These were the treasured CROUTONS! Toasty, tender, delicately crunchy, I bought a POUND of them. After nibbling a handful for several days I sadly realized that these are meant for a not-very-often, once-in-a-while treat. They just don’t agree with my system – BOO! HISS! I thought I was done with this kind of disappointment when I gave up gluten!

Option 3:
Back to the drawing board and the chickpea obsession rolled on as I remembered an earlier post and thought about the flavors of Falafel  (from August 2009!). What if instead of frying falafel patties in a skillet, the olive oil is added to the batter? Then the batter is scooped in to tiny little portions and baked in the oven? Could those be croutons? Out came the recipe and the ingredients.

1 cup (120 grams) garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon coriander, ground
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup hot water (not boiling)

You will need a medium sized bowl for mixing, a microwave-safe measuring cup for the liquids, and a flat baking sheet lined with parchment (it makes transferring and cleanup a breeze). I purchase parchment at the grocery store in the aisle featuring foil and waxed paper. Set your oven to 350*F. A small scoop is very handy (I bought mine a year ago to make gluten-free pfeffernusse cookies).

Combine all of the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix together thoroughly, a whisk is good, do not attempt to sift the flour. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and water in the measuring cup and heat the mixture in the microwave. Then add the hot liquid all at once to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Falafel Croutons Ready to Bake
Using a small scoop  or a teaspoon, measure out bits of the falafel dough onto the baking sheet. Move the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. When they are very pale golden brown turn off the heat and leave them to cool in the oven.

Go start the laundry, walk the dog, or go to a Qigong session. Take the falafels out of the oven after an hour, let them cool to room temperature, and put in a lidded jar. If they are not used up in a few days then label the jar and put it in the freezer. Makes about 36 falafel balls of this size.

Crispy Falafel Taste Test

Crispy Falafel Taste Test

My taste testing team at The Caring Place voted these the best yet. They are toasty, crispy, crunchy, and very close to what I was looking for. Maybe round is just too precious? It would be so easy to pat the dough flat with a spatula and cut into 2 inch squares and make falafel crackers.

So why don’t I just make croutons from stale, gluten-free bread?  I usually make my own gluten-free bread or go without. Homemade gluten-free bread is way too precious to allow it to go stale – leftovers get wrapped and frozen for future reference. These little falafel crisps are so simple and so easy; they are basically chickpea flour, seasonings, and hot water for the dough. Make a batch and you are set for two or three salads.

Gretchen @gfedge

Coming soon (September 12, 2013): Ricki Heller’s new cookbook will be released! As soon as I get my copy I will be joining the release party by making a recipe and posting about the other recipes. A pre-release order may be placed through Amazon for Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free.

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend, August 8-12, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Eggplant Over Easy

It has been REALLY edgy around here lately and I haven’t felt adventurous in the kitchen. I have cooked; mostly tried and true recipes which have already been posted. I am not holding back on recipes to publish a cook book. Blogging is challenge enough for me and my recipes are posted on the website whenever I think they may be of interest.

In the spirit of health and green living Rita and I have started paying way more attention to vegetables as well as eating local and fresh. Both of us have been enjoying salads all along. But I am now looking more into easy preparation of cooked vegetables while Rita is focusing on smoothies through her association with Green Smoothie Girl.

Savory Eggplant

Savory Eggplant

This dish made with fresh eggplant has been especially enjoyable. It goes together quickly in the morning before the heat of the day sets in and once it is cooked it can stay put in the oven, slowly cooling, until you are ready for it. It can handle more or less seasoning than suggested. If you have fresh garlic and/or basil then use them. If you plan to use this mixture as a sauce for other ingredients then really season it up and add more olive oil to it. This gets even better in the refrigerator as the flavors meld.

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning

Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Savory Seasoning


1 eggplant, about 1 lb

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry basil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can peeled & diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)

Set the oven to 350*F.
Add the olive oil to the bottom of a 9” square pan, preferably oven-proof glass. Add the salt, basil, and garlic to the oil.
Peel and dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces and add them to the oil in the pan. Stir the mixture so that the eggplant absorbs the oil and is coated with the seasoning.
Pour the entire can of tomatoes and juice over the eggplant and mix thoroughly.
Move the pan to the oven and bake for one hour. Stir about halfway through. Turn off the heat and leave the residual heat to evaporate much of the moisture from the vegetables.

This creates a very concentrated, savory eggplant mixture that can be used alone as a vegetable side dish or mixed with pasta, beans, or potatoes for a savory main course. It is also tasty served cold with or without salad greens.

Having nutritious food readily available helps to take the edge off when there are nerve-wracking days. We had recently had the air conditioning unit replaced (it is a rule that they will fail only in the hottest of weather) which was unsettling enough. But the changeable Texas weather also brought storms that did bad things to the roof – so three weeks later we were having a complete roof replacement.


Roofing Incident

Roofing Incident

The roofing supervisor guy had warned us about wall hangings, pictures, etc. that might need to be taken down before the pounding started. We thought we were prepared. The team stripping the old roof sounded like a pack of large squirrels running across the roof – not too bad. When the pounding started it was right in the corner of the office over my computer.

I had just sat down with breakfast and picked up the mouse. The roofers started nailing at that very moment. The big wooden Texas clock fell, hit the golf display, golf balls went flying, clock continued and hit my lidded ceramic jar containing wires, flash drives, etc. smashing it onto pieces, hitting my hand, golf balls bounced off my head. I am not sure what hit my breakfast bowl but it ended up on the floor, undamaged but containing a golf ball instead of my breakfast that was scattered on the floor. The clock was on the floor on the other side of my chair separated from its battery. I was unharmed but in a befuddled state of shock.

The roof looks good, the air conditioning works fine, and I have been inspired to use the cool mornings to do some maintenance on the flower beds. Chigger and ant bites, sore muscles from weeding and planting have done more collective damage to me physically than the roofing excitement.

Here’s to calm days ahead and good food ready and waiting for lunch and/or dinner :-)

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs







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‘Cheese’ Biscuits – Grain-free and Vegan

Low-carb baked goods, gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan sounds like an impossible task; and of course we want it to be delicious too! No wonder I haven’t blogged a lot lately when I set nearly impossible goals.

I made an awesome recipe for Cheddar Bay Almond Flour Biscuits (from Dianne at Delicious As It Looks) several times and everyone who tried them raves about them. Since they are gluten-free I didn’t think to offer one to my husband but he followed his nose to the cooling rack and asked ‘are these for anyone’? I was so delighted to share with him. He is slowly discovering that gluten-free food can be as good as or even better than gluten food.

A Dozen Perfect 'Cheese' Biscuits

A Dozen Perfect ‘Cheese’ Biscuits

Friends and family members are increasingly going to plant-based choices and I want to share my baked goodies with them. So I attempt to convert this treasured gluten-free, grain-free recipe to vegan. Vegan has the advantage that it also covers the situation for people who want to avoid eggs or dairy products whatever the reason. I am also happy to discover that vegan baked goods stay fresh longer which is a major advantage when traveling.

A Flatbread Experiment

A Flatbread Experiment

The almond flour that I use is from Honeyville. I order the blanched, 5 lb. bag when they have it on special. It has a finer texture than Bob’s Red Mill from the local grocery store although I use Bob’s when I need a coarser product. I use Bob’s for the coconut flour and golden flax meal in this recipe.

My vegan, smoky, cheesy sauce  prepared in the blender seemed like a good starting place. I modified it to eliminate the home-cooked beans and substituted more cashews. This version is very tasty although very, very dense. I may try a later version using the original cashew, bean, and coconut milk base which has a few more carbs and protein rather than so much fat. Or maybe not, did I mention that this is really tasty?

FYI: You do not need a high powered blender. My blender is about 15 years old, an Oster 10-speed that I use regularly and struggle with it at times. In this recipe it takes about 10-15 minutes to blend the cashews to a silky smooth consistency with constant encouragement from a spatula, scooping the mixture up from the sides, and pushing it towards the middle. We go through all of the speeds right up to 10 before it is done. When it gets to 8 it begins to sound like a single engine aircraft just before takeoff. Yes, the jar gets warm and the motor also. I have previously pushed this blender so hard that it was bucking on the counter and sending out smoke signals. It still hangs right in there with me!

Wet Ingredients
1 cup (150 grams) raw cashews, measured, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 cup canned, full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Wright’s Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Start with just the cashews and the coconut milk in the blender jar. By the time my cashews were soaked it had been a full day plus overnight in the fridge. They had started sprouting and had soaked up 60 grams of water for a total of 210 grams of drained, soaked cashews.

Start the blender running. It will hiccup and glurp as it works its way from chunks to coarse to smooth. Be prepared with a spatula to encourage it. The salt, garlic powder and liquid smoke seem to help it reach the satiny consistency it needs before adding the yeast which will absorb some of the moisture.

The 4 tablespoons of yeast is equal to 1/4 cup. But you will have to add it very slowly so just be aware. It will also do the hiccupping thing again. This makes about 1.25 cups of wet ingredients.

Dry Ingredients
4 tablespoons (26g) golden flax meal, finely ground
1 tablespoon (7g) coconut flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 cups (272g) almond flour

Place the oven rack in the middle position. Set the oven between 350 and 400*F (depending on your oven).

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

My Hamilton Beach Spice Grinder

Weigh out the golden flax meal and grind it to a powder using a small coffee grinder reserved for grinding seeds, spices, and coconut palm sugar. This step makes a big difference in the texture of the baked product.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl – DO NOT SIFT. Almond flour will totally gunk up a sieve so don’t even try. Use a whisk to mix all of the dry ingredients together. The almond flour will continue to lump but it is different lumps as you work so it eventually ends up evenly mixed.

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the Wet Mixture into the Dry Mixture

Dump the wet ingredients in with the dry. Stir until well mixed and the dough is holding together. Dump it out on a clean smooth counter top or a non-absorbent cutting board. This dough can be very clingy if there is something rough to cling to.

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

The Biscuit Dough After Kneading on the Counter

Knead it a few times like ordinary bread dough. There is no gluten to ‘develop’ but kneading will distribute the moisture and form a smooth shiny lump of dough. Then it is ready to shape it into biscuits.

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

Measure & Shape the Biscuit Dough onto the Baking Pan

A spring activated scoop is the way I make uniform pieces. Alternately you can use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup. Measure out the pieces of dough. Roll the pieces into a ball. Then patty-cake the pieces between your palms, gently shape them, and place them on your baking pan. When all the dough is formed move the pan into the oven.

Note: Baked goods made with starchy gluten-free flours start losing flavor and texture unless eaten soon after they are done. Baked goods made from nutritionally dense gluten-free flours like these improve in texture and flavor over a day or two (much like soup that keeps getting better). I think that’s weird but I am also grateful.

Gretchen @gfedge

PS – I use a small kitchen scale with a tare option to weigh dry ingredients as much as possible. It gives more consistent results plus it saves on cleanup of measuring cups and spoons (lazy me).

This post is linked to:
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Super Simple Savory Broth

Rita has not been available lately to taste test which has left me uninspired to bake much since she cannot help with the evaluation. We both plan to dig in on green smoothies soon but in the meantime I have been cooking my greens in a simple broth – the broth may just be my favorite part.

Greens and Savory Broth (with Walnuts)

Greens and Savory Broth (with Walnuts)

I have always loved beans and greens as a lunch combination. When I was working I made use of canned turnip greens and usually red kidney beans topped with some kind of salad dressing. Tasty, messy, odd looking, and initially subject to strange looks and curious questions. Sometimes I top them with nuts for a crunchy texture contrast.

Sourcing fresh greens at the grocery store has become very easy since the arrival of Glory brand one pound bags of washed and chopped greens . I have been going through a couple of these a week. Rita would prefer to steam them but I grew up in the Southern tradition of greens cooked down producing ‘pot liquor’, a local name for the savory broth.

Greens Overflowing the Pot

Greens Overflowing the Pot

Previous to gluten awareness I happily used bouillon cubes as seasoning for broth and gravy. Afterwards my ingredients changed to canned and boxed broth with the resulting cans and boxes going into recycle – not a positive solution to my way of thinking.

Finally Got the Lid On

Finally Got the Lid On

I gave up on prepared broths and now prefer this simple recipe from my spice cabinet which could not be any easier or faster.

Super Simple Broth
1 cup water
1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon @ summer savory, basil, thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

Add the ingredients to a saucepan. Turn on the heat and bring to slow simmer. Now you have broth!

Cooking Greens in Broth
The hard part is cramming the greens into a four quart pot where they will eventually wilt and shrink down to about one-quarter of the raw volume. You will need one pound of greens (collards, kale, mustard, or any of your favorite greens).

Make your broth in a four quart saucepan – a glass lid makes it easier to see what is going on. Add the greens in on top of the broth and push them down, really hard, into the pot until you can get the lid on. Turn up the heat to medium high. It will take a while until it you can see steam beginning to rise.

The greens on the bottom wilt first. Take a big spoon and bring the wilted greens up to the top so the next layer can begin to cook. At this point adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer. The greens will not cooperate in any orderly way but just keep checking and stirring about every 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes they will have all become somewhat wilted. Set a timer for 20 minutes. When it goes off stir the greens up again and set the timer for another 20 minutes.

You can quit cooking when the greens are tender. If you have prepared your own young fresh greens they will probably have cooked up in one cycle. The ones that come pre-bagged are fully mature and the stems have been chopped up as well as the leafy part so it can take several cycles to get everything to the tender stage.

Greens Are Fully Cooked

Greens Are Fully Cooked

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend February 28-March 4, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

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Smoothie in a Bowl

Rita and I have been considering green smoothies as a way to boost our intake of fresh, raw green vegetables. Being a savvy shopper Rita was able to scoop up a smoothie blender for each of us at a super-great clearance – more about those items as we get comfortable with them.

Right now I am juggling a few (too many) activities. To compensate I have been eating a wider variety of greens in salads, greens cooked as a base for some warm winter soups, and I extended my beloved Pumpkin Porridge by adding the additional plant elements of applesauce, ginger, and whole fruit.

I like to prepare this the night before so that the chia is really soft but in a pinch I put it together and declare it edible in about 10 minutes. It gets my system going with a powerhouse of nutrition. This is really helping me to get over the fact that I recently discovered that my beloved coffee, as an almond milk latte, is one of my  ‘cross-reactive with gluten’  foods :-(

This could easily be a smoothie beverage with additional water to dilute the coconut milk. The whole fruit could be blended in if that is your preference. Right now I go for the easiest and fastest preparation – hence ‘Smoothie in a Bowl’.

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Smoothie in a Bowl with Blueberries

Top with your locally available fresh fruit. We have had an amazing bounty of blackberries and blueberries at the local fresh food grocer. I also froze fresh local figs last summer and I started using these little gems as a special treat.

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Smoothie with Local Figs of Summer

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend January 24-28, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

Smoothie in a Bowl
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Author: Gretchen @gfedge
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 1
A plant-based blend of highly nutritious foods and spices
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 scoop (20 ml) chia seeds (whole)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat, from a can)
  • Vanilla, a few drops
  • Sweetener*, your choice, to taste
  • Fresh fruit, at least 1/4 cup or more
  1. Soften the chia seeds in the water – it makes them easier to work with this way.
  2. Add the pumpkin and the spices together – this prevents clumps of floating spices after you add the coconut milk.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  4. I use liquid stevia glycerite but taste buds are so different as to ‘sweet’ you should use what makes it taste good for you.
  5. Top with your locally available fresh fruit.

*There are non-nutritive sweeteners that are not exactly good for you but I still think the inflammatory property of sugar is the greater evil of alternative choices.

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Savory Sautéed Zucchini with Walnuts

My lifelong love of summer squash continues. Fresh, frozen, or canned makes no difference. Yellow or green are equally loved and I suspect if they began appearing in rainbow colors, stripes, or paisley it would make no difference.



As a teenager I used to simply wash, slice, and simmer them with Lawry’s Season-All Salt, my favorite condiment after catsup. I really love the Del Monte zucchini canned with tomatoes and sometimes use that as a quick sauce over nearly anything else that might be lingering in the fridge or over pasta (now gluten-free of course) :-)

Walnuts: In my opinion – one of nature’s most perfect foods. I go through about a pound of walnuts every two weeks. Often a handful of dried cranberries mixed with a handful of walnuts plus a latte make a quick ‘first breakfast’. This recipe with zucchini is one that goes back to when my children were in elementary school. It would have made two side servings but instead this batch made a hearty breakfast.

Currently with fresh zucchini available year round, this ‘recipe’ is my new favorite Pantry Quick meal.

Prepare the Zucchini

Prepare the Zucchini

Add the Walnuts

Add the Walnuts


Sautéed Zucchini with Walnuts
Recipe type: Side, Main, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Author: Gretchen @gfedge
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 2
Quick and easy to prepare – nutritious, savory, and satisfying.
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped, bite-size
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Handful of walnuts
  1. Use a skillet large enough so that the pieces of zucchini will have plenty of space so their moisture can evaporate as they sauté; otherwise you will have more of a stew.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in the skillet to a medium high heat and quickly add your prepared zucchini.
  3. Sprinkle the pieces lightly with sea salt to help draw out the moisture for evaporation.
  4. The object is to sear them quickly over medium high heat so the cut edges will begin to take on a light shade of tan.
  5. As soon as they are browned and tender remove from the heat, season lightly with pepper to taste, and add the walnuts.

I measure the walnuts as a handful. Everyone’s hands are different and proportional to their body. I regard them as the perfect measure for each person. Choose your zucchini size according to appetite or market availability.

Gretchen @gfedge
Rita @catqicatqi
Teresa @TravelingRD
(From Boot Camp to Homeland Security…This RD is on a Mission! )

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend January 10-14, 2013
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs


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Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake

This month there has been more excitement and much less blogging, but still cooking, baking and thinking about nutritious, delicious, gluten-free food. And a recipe for a dark, rich chocolate cake – I thought about that a lot :-)

Super Chocolate Fudge Cake

Super Chocolate Fudge Cake

Some of the excitement:
#1 Son came for a visit – Mom {me} was thrilled and Don and I both cooked up a storm.

Granddaughter Megan is graduating this month, I’ve been doing sewing and alterations for post-college wardrobe. The graduation celebration and Christmas gift exchange are being combined to reduce family holiday travel.

Rita is moving back to Texas mid-month and staying with us until she locates a new apartment. I had to finish the sewing, get it delivered to Megan, and put away the sewing machine and ironing board.

My sibs and I are selling some of our Grandpa’s farm property – much nostalgia involved and so far, over 100 emails. It is amazing that we will be able to complete this with two of us physically present at closing and the other two mailing and/or emailing the required documents.

Don and I spent some time cutting back shrubs in preparation for the exterior of our house to be painted. It was scratchy, itchy, tedious work. We did it ourselves because we wanted it done our way.

Freshly Painted Plant Stand

Freshly Painted Plant Stand

My tall metal plant stand for the front porch needed painting. I placed it out in the yard, away from the house, so the paint spray would be carried away by the breeze. Almost as soon as I completed spraying the stand was caught in the middle of a mass ballooning baby spider migration.  Many of the spiders and their silk strands landed on the plant stand. Fortunately they were so tiny and the paint had dried so quickly that none of them became part of the finish.

Finally I had time to think and plan and was able to put together a modification of the Pumpkin Bundt Cake  to create this Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake. This creation was intended to just be a dark, intensely chocolate cake. It came out so moist that I kept apologizing for it while everyone was saying ‘moist is good!’ Finally I stopped apologizing. It tastes like a blend of cake and fudge. I may tweak it but maybe not. Since it is so good I wanted to go ahead and share it. You will see from the ingredient list that it is not going to send you into sugar shock unless you are way more sensitive than I am. And since it is grain-free it does not trigger me to keep eating more and more – thank you to the dark lords of the chocolate underworld!

Chocolate Fudge Cake - Up Close

Chocolate Fudge Cake – Up Close

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil, unrefined
1 cup pumpkin
1 square unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chia seed
1/4 cup Truvia
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder {update 12-11-2012}
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (112g) almond flour
Optional: but highly recommended :-)
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

1. Set the oven at 325*F – gluten-free bakes better at lower temperatures and a little longer than gluten baked goods. Oil your pan(s) using a pastry brush and coconut oil. Alternately use a 7” Bundt pan, 12 cupcake molds, or 2 mini-loaf pans. Set aside.
2. Melt the coconut oil and the unsweetened chocolate together; allow to cool. Grind the coconut palm sugar and chia seed to powder. For sugar-free, substitute the sugar with more Truvia. You can use all Lakanto or your preferred baking sweetener. Measure chocolate chips and set aside.
3. Measure and sift together the dry ingredients, except almond flour, into a large bowl. Add the almond flour without sifting. It will not pass through a sieve.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, the cooled chocolate and oil, coconut milk, vanilla, and vinegar until blended.
5. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients. Continue folding just until the mixture comes together. Quickly stir in the chocolate chips. When using soda and vinegar for leavening it is essential to get the cake in the oven quickly.
6. Pour the batter into prepared pan(s). Smooth the top with a spatula.
7. For the small 7” Bundt bake for about 40 minutes and turn the heat off for 5 more minutes. Bake about 25 minutes total for cupcakes or muffin tops, and about 25-30 minutes for small loaf pans.
8. Cool the cake in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
9. Remove from pan and move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Choosing the ingredients:
I used canned pumpkin and have used it for years. It is one of my preferred pantry staples. I recently tried an organic brand but the consistancy is different. We will eventually become accustomed to it.

Unrefined organic coconut oil has a sweet note to enhance the sweetness of the cake without adding coconut flavor. Refined will work just as well.

You may use full-fat or light coconut milk. You may also dilute full-fat coconut milk half-&-half with unsweetened almond milk.

Coconut palm sugar tends to be very coarse. I grind it in a coffee bean grinder along with the chia seed so that both will dissolve and distribute better in the batter.

I use Bob’s Red Mill brand for the tapioca and coconut flours. Honeyville blanched (ordered online) is my choice for almond flour. Bob’s would probably work just as well but I don’t know for sure.

I hope others enjoy this just as much as we do!

Gretchen @gfedge

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend December 6-10, 2012
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

Comments (1)

Pumpkin Bundt Cake – A Long Journey

I have been distracted lately – probably for the last two years. So many things are going on that I constantly lose focus. When I do snap back I usually end up starting on something else and then lose focus on that. Now that it is pumpkin season again I am picking up on a thought that started about a year-and-a-half ago ;-)

I first found Karoline’s original recipe for Pumpkin Bundt Cake  in May of 2011 and wanted to make it gluten-free. The original recipe called for barley flour. Barley gluten is said to be different from wheat gluten but it is closely related as are several other grass grains. I have made many modifications to both the recipe and my baking objectives since then.

Initially this was a vegan recipe and one that I wanted to remain vegan. Being torn between paleo and vegan makes for a split personality in my recipe box but for the moment that’s where it’s at. In the meantime there are several other objectives driving the modifications with one of my current objectives being low glycemic load.

I first eliminated all of the grass (Poaceae) family of plants plus most of the seeds of plants except for the ones I grind up and use as egg replacers: flax, chia, and psyllium seeds. Experiments with agave and other sweeteners such as xylitol have led me to my personal tolerance/preference for erythritol, stevia, and coconut palm sugar. Then I eliminated dairy and substituted coconut products for their nutritional and healing properties; coconut oil, coconut flour, and coconut milk. Occasionally I use tapioca or potato starch in small amounts for texture and browning qualities.

Half recipe - 7-inch Bundt Cake

Half recipe – 7-inch Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Dessert, breakfast
Author: Gretchen Cormier @gfedge
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 14-16
A dense pumpkin cake made from nutritious, low-carb flours and filled with fruit and toasted nuts.
  • Full Recipe for a 10 inch Bundt Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, unrefined
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Truvia
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Half Recipe for a 7 inch Bundt Cake
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, unrefined
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup Truvia
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T. golden raisins
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground chia
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Set the oven at 325*F – gluten-free bakes better at lower temperatures and a little longer than gluten baked goods. Oil your pan(s) using a pastry brush and coconut oil. Then dust very lightly with tapioca flour. Alternately use 48 cupcake molds or 4 mini-loaf pans. Set aside.
  2. Sauté the nuts in a small skillet in the coconut oil. Set aside to cool.
  3. Measure and sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, the cooled oil and nuts, raisins, milk, vanilla, and vinegar.
  5. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients. Continue folding just until the mixture comes together. When using soda and vinegar for leavening it is essential to get the cake in the oven quickly.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Smooth the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes for full size Bundt, rotating the cake from front to back after 20 minutes, about 25 minutes total for cupcakes or muffin tops, and about 25-30 minutes for small loaf pans.
  8. For the small Bundt bake for about 40 minutes and turn the heat off for the last 5 minutes.
  9. Cool the large cake in the pan for 15 minutes, the smaller items for less.
  10. Move to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Any of your favorite tender nuts are suitable – for appearance and texture the pieces should be easy to chew. Toasting in the skillet enhances the flavor in the finished cake.

Dried cranberries, currants, chopped figs, dates, cherries, or apricots would all be nice; a mixture would make for a festive holiday fruitcake.

Unrefined coconut oil has a sweet note to enhance the sweetness of the cake without a coconut flavor. Refined will work just as well.

Full fat coconut milk may make the cake a little heavy. I used light coconut milk because it was in the pantry. Otherwise I would dilute full-fat coconut milk half-and-half with unsweetened almond milk.

Coconut palm sugar tends to be very coarse. I grind it in the coffee bean grinder along with the chia seed so that it will dissolve and distribute better in the batter.

The measure of spices should be adjusted to your taste and tolerance. For instance, although I love clove I cannot tolerate as much as my taste buds prefer so I reduce the amount.

I use Bob’s Red Mill brand for the tapioca and coconut flours. Honeyville blanched (ordered online) is my choice for almond flour. Bob’s would probably work just as well but I don’t know for sure.

My neighbors, Barb and Frank, agreed to taste test this recipe for me. I have their permission to share the comments they sent me:

Last night we sliced up your pumpkin cake and Frank said, “this is not bad.” Then he took another bite and finished it. Then he said, “this is really good. Can I have another slice.” So we both give it a thumbs up and we really thought it tasted very, very good. Keep up the good work!!!

I hope others enjoy this treat just as much!

This post is linked to:
Wellness Weekend November 1-5, 2012
at Ricki Heller’s Blog – Diet, Dessert, and Dogs

Gretchen @gfedge

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