“Detox” Soup

On Friday I got home from a fantastic trip to New Jersey and NYC. It was a little bit of a challenge to stay on my diet, but it was definitely worth it. I didn’t get sick at all and got home feeling remarkably well. Oftentimes after traveling I would spend a week recuperating or would arrive home feeling overwhelmed by all the junk food I consumed during the trip.

All of that to say, I didn’t really feel like I needed to detox or anything, but I saw an interesting recipe for detox soup on Pinterest and thought it might be fun to try. As usual, I did quite a bit of modifying to the original recipe.

Much of the detoxifying properties supposedly come from the large amounts of spices and herbs added to the soup. So I started with sautéing some ground beef and about four cloves of garlic. I added some water and a bouillon cube. After letting it simmer for a bit, I threw in the carrots and sweet potatoes. And lastly, broccoli. Throughout this process I was generous with the garlic powder, chili powder, ginger, onion powder, curry powder, basil, italian seasoning…and cinnamon. I feel quite confident saying that this soup tastes unlike anything you’ve ever eaten.

I made about 2 1/2 quarts of soup, so I put it in mason jars to have throughout the week. When I warm a serving of it,, I cook a few rice noodles and add a handful of kale leaves about 5 minutes before I’m ready to eat. In hindsight, it might have been good to do this with the broccoli too because it is pretty overcooked at this point. I like having a base soup that I can just grab, but also having the option of adding other ingredients just before eating. This keeps the noodles from getting soggy or the kale from being overcooked.

I am also really happy with the flavor of it. I tend to think of veggie soups as being on the bland side, but this has a little kick to it which I really like. I don’t know how detoxifying it all is, but at the very least, it is a healthy and easy meal option for busy days!

Advertisements

Fish Taco Salad

One of my favorite meals is fish tacos. There is a local restaurant that has pretty good ones, but the best was definitely down in Galveston, Texas. Nothing like eating fish tacos as you overlook the Gulf of Mexico!

With my limited diet now, it is really easy to get into a rut of making the same two or three dishes every day. At least it is easy for me to do that because I don’t mind eating the same thing several times a week, and it saves me from having to find another recipe with acceptable ingredients.

But last night as I pulled some tilipia fillets out of the fridge, I decided to do something adventurous. After looking through some recipes for inspiration, I settled on trying my own fish tacos.

Since I haven’t found a tortilla or tortilla substitute that works for me, my fish tacos would become a fish taco salad, which works out better for my ketosis diet anyways!

There are three elements to this meal: the fish, the salad, and the salsa.

I made the salsa first so there’d be time for the flavors to meld. This is not a traditional tomato based salsa. The primary ingredients are: peaches, corn, celery, onion. All these items were finely diced (besides the corn). This is what I happened to have on-hand, but you could certainly experiment with other veggies or fruit, such as mangoes or peppers. I added a little olive oil and lemon juice to give it more of a salsa consistency. For seasoning I put in salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic salt.

For the fish, I decided to just bake it. I put the fillets in a pan with a little lemon juice and butter. I sprinkled the fish with salt, pepper, and chili powder and baked it at 400 deg for 10 minutes. It ended up with a lot of extra liquid in the pan. On the good side, the fish was very moist! However, for my salad I wanted the fish to be on the drier side, so it didn’t get soggy. I drained the excess liquid, shredded the fillets, and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. So next time I might not put so much butter or lemon juice on it.

For the salad, I shredded some greens, drizzled the salad with olive oil, and sprinkled some salt and pepper on it.

When the fish was done, I placed it on the lettuce and then added the salsa.

This was definitely one of my all-time favorite meals. The spice was nicely balanced by the sweetness of the corn and peaches. It was very satisfying, and yet not heavy. You could easily scale this up for a larger group or offer several options (fish or chicken, tomato salsa or peach salsa, etc…) for a unique buffet meal.

Clean Snack!

After finding out that I have quite a few severe food allergies, my diet has been pretty limited. I am also trying to loosely follow a ketosis diet because I’ve discovered I feel better when I really reduce my carb intake.

So…this doesn’t leave a lot of options for sweet or easy snacks! But this week I experimented with homemade peppermint patties, and these delicious morsels of goodness are staying in my diet!

The peppermint filling has melted coconut oil, finely shredded coconut, a tablespoon of honey, and about a teaspoon of peppermint extract.

It took some time to find the right consistency. It also helped to put the mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to thicken it up. I used a teaspoon measuring spoon to form each patty. By the end it was warming up and harder to form, but everything held surprisingly well.  After making each of the patties, I melted some dark chocolate and a tablespoon of butter. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the chocolate. When it was melted, I just dropped a dollop onto each of the patties. Again, I was pleasantly pleased by how the chocolate stayed in place and did not make an enormous mess.

I then put the patties in the fridge to harden. I sampled them about 30 minutes later. Über delicious! There is very little extra sweetener, and these snacks are full of healthy fats.

The only possible drawback is that they’ll melt quickly, so it would not be a good snack to take anywhere. But easy to grab one from the fridge on your way out the door!

Comfort Food :)

So this week I was really craving some of my favorite comfort food: pizza and mac & cheese. I already had a gluten-free pizza in the freezer for a movie night on Thursday, so it took all my self control not to eat that on Monday night when I just need something comforting. Instead I decided to try making my own gluten-free macaroni and cheese! I also wanted it to be mostly dairy-free. I am okay with mozzarella cheese, but I wanted to use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk.

I actually surprised myself with how good it turned out! It was amazing. Really. So…since I improvised and made it up as I went, I will explain the process…

Firstly, I used rice pasta. For some reason, I have an aversion all rice pasta besides the spirals. I even pay an extra 30 cents just to get the spirals because the straight noodles and elbow noodles look so unappealing. Anyways…the spiral rice pasta is really good. It has a great texture, and I honestly don’t even notice any difference between wheat pasta and rice. I think that if you reheated a dish with rice pasta, it might not be so good, but  freshly cooked, it is excellent!

So as my rice pasta was boiling, I melted a little butter in a saucepan. I then added 1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut milk. I wasn’t measuring it, but that’s my guess. I whisked the butter and milk together and let it heat up.

I didn’t time it too well, so the milk mixture was ready long before the pasta. I just took it off the burner and stirred it every couple minutes until the pasta was ready.

Oh, and because I wanted a little bit more substance, I added some frozen peas to the pot of pasta and prepared a can of salmon to add at the end.

So after the pasta was done, I put the milk/butter back on the stove and warmed it up (which only took like a minute because it had been hot already). I then added about 1/2 – 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese. I was afraid it would get all “goopy” at this point, but I just whisked vigorously as the cheese melted, to keep it from congealing into a big lump. I then poured it over the pasta,  and added the salmon.

Ahhh…so good! It was very rich and creamy, with lots of delicious cheese! I didn’t notice any coconut flavor, so I think it just melded with the other flavors.

Anyways…this is definitely going on my list of favorites! : )

Sweet Potato Truffle Balls

With the holiday season upon us, I am excited to try some healthier treats. My first experiment was with Sweet Potato Truffle Balls. These are for my family’s Christmas tree trimming party tomorrow. I wanted to make sure there’d be enough for the gaggle, so I avoided any recipes with a lot of nuts or nut butters because that gets pretty expensive. I still haven’t had my fill of fall flavors, and the idea of sweet potatoes as the base for these “truffles” sounded pretty good! There’s a cookie recipe I want to try out, but since I didn’t have time to make anything until 9.30 tonight, I figured I should go simple.

My truffle batter is chilling in the fridge right now, I’ll finish it tonight or tomorrow morning. I improvised by adding raisins and chocolate chips too. I’ll also be rolling them in the shredded coconut as suggested by the recipe. I played around with the sweeteners, and used a combination of agave nectar, honey, and maple syrup. 

Update: I just checked on the truffles, and after over half an hour in the fridge, it hasn’t solidified at all. I have this bad habit of not tasting food while I make it (a habit which makes no sense, I admit) so I sampled the dough. It lacked some sweetness, and just had a strong sweet potato flavor. So I added a bit more honey. I also decided to put the shredded coconut into the batter. I’m not sure why, it was just an impulsive intuition I guess, haha.

Anyways…I am hopeful that they’ll turn out to be at least tolerable! I’ll update with pictures tomorrow!

Update 2: My sister was kind enough to take pictures as I making the truffles, but my WordPress phone app isn’t cooperating, so I can’t upload photos. So…final verdict: Eh.

They were okay, but not that compelling. I felt like the sweet potato taste was too strong, and not sweet enough. I’d be interested to try with homemade sweet potato puree, to see if there’s an improvement. But I probably wouldn’t make them again. :-/

Making It Up As I Go

In my new food endeavors, I have realized that I am not really into recipes. I look for recipes just to give me ideas, and then I basically do my own thing. It is kinda like the Doctor, as he and his friends were confronted with the Weeping Angels, he assured everyone he had a plan. When River inquired as to the details of his plan, he admitted, “Don’t know yet, I haven’t finished talking.” So my plans for cooking basically happen as I am doing it. Things just happen. Anyways…This means I probably won’t post a lot of recipes, as proper recipes, but simply just ideas for meals that are a rough sketch of recipes.

Case in point…

I’ve found it works well to make a huge pot of soup on the weekend, because then I have plenty of meals for my week. Since I’d been eating chili for nearly two weeks, I decided to do something different for this week. This soup turned out to be my “everything” soup. I literally spent 2 hours throwing together everything I could find in my kitchen.

It started with sautéing some garlic and onion in olive oil. After that, I added a little water and veggie broth with carrots and sweet potatoes. As these things cooked, I just continued adding other ingredients. I had a few partial bags of frozen veggies, so I decided to use those up. Since I was cooking chicken for some other meals, I threw some of that in, too. For more protein, I put in a can of kidney beans. As I was going, I made sure to put in plenty of seasonings. Lots of salt, pepper, all-purpose seasoning, and basil. Of course it needed more liquid with all this other stuff, so I added more water, veggie broth, and a bouillon cube.

I was thinking you could also add quinoa, rice, or another grain (or maybe even rice pasta?), but I am trying to limit my intake of carbs, and I’d rather have rice in my stir fry instead of soup, so I left that out.

After it had all been simmering for a while, I decided it was too watery. I like my soup a little bit thick (think stew-like). While I wanted to avoid cornstarch, I read that arrowroot doesn’t hold up well with prolonged heat, so I did add a mixture of cornstarch and water (what is that called? Flurry? Slurry? Anyways…) which helped to thicken it up. So yeah….that’s my soup of the week. It was even good enough to offer to my friend. She said it was excellent! So that’s proof you don’t need a recipe…just an adventurous spirit! : )

An Adventure with Curry

I seem to have an insatiable craving for Asian food. I’ve branched out in the last year from egg rolls and stir fry to other dishes, like curry. Since I eat a lot of rice and chicken anyways, I figured it’d be fun to try making my own curry. I found a dairy free recipe here which uses coconut milk. So last night I was in the mood to experiment, and made my first curry! I was ready for it to be an epic fail, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out! I halved the recipe for just one serving, but then I ended up having to add more broth and milk at the end because it had reduced so much. I didn’t want the rice to absorb all the curry, I wanted to have some extra sauce. I also didn’t have all the seasonings on the list, so I made do with curry power, chili powder, lots of garlic, and my all-time favorite seasoning: ginger! It was a bit on the spicy side, which I didn’t really mind. I don’t have much tolerance for spice, but I do enjoy eating foods that are a little too spicy. Maybe I like the sensation of my tongue burning? Haha…

I’ve been reading up on ways to  improve circulation, since I think I might have Raynaud’s Disease. Everywhere I read, they say to eat spicy foods! That should also help with the remaining congestion I have. So I am excited to have another delicious spicy food recipe!

I couldn’t remember what veggies traditionally go with yellow curry, but I didn’t have a lot of options anyways, so I threw in a mix of frozen Thai-style stir fry veggies. It was okay, but probably isn’t the ideal veggie complement. So I’ll have to do some research before my next curry and try something else!

But overall, it was surprisingly successful. I thought making curry would be this very difficult and daunting process, but it was a lot easier than I had anticipated.