Homeade n’ Hearty Gluten-Free Pizza

Last night I created a homemade gluten-free, dairy-free veggie pizza that had my taste buds dancin’ for more…it was fabulous (to say the least).  Here are the easy and delicious recipes for my pizza crust, sauce and topping.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice milk
  • 2 large eggs or egg substitute
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ripened avocado, mashed and slightly melted

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, beat together milk and eggs.  Add flours and salt.  Slowly add in avocado.
  • Transfer mixture to a 12 inch circle on a baking sheet or round pizza pan. Be sure to leave a thicker crust along the outsides to keep the sauce and vegetables from running onto the pan.
  • Top with sauce and vegetables of your choice (see below).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pizza is golden brown and fully cooked.

Gluten-Free Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce can) organic tomato sauce
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp. sage

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine all above ingredients and mix well.
  • Spread evenly atop unbaked crust.
  • Top with the following or any toppings of your choice:

Pizza Toppings

  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 1 Fresh small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Fresh small summer squash, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Fresh button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Fresh red peppers, diced

Simply add any or all of the above toppings to your pizza.  I enjoy sprinkling nutritional yeast and ground flax seeds atop my pizza…it adds a perfect nutty, cheese-like taste without the dairy!

Now that’s what I call a seriously delicious (and healthy) New York pizza!  Enjoy.

Cranberry Butternut Squash Soup

butter

O, the excitement of my new kitchen continues…I’ve been busy whipping up hearty harvest recipes this week and last night I created a savory butternut squash soup with an extra kick of fresh cranberries from the local market.

This tasty winter squash is quite similar to a pumpkin, yet it has more of a nutty, sweet bite.  Not only is butternut squash deliciously hearty, it’s a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, vitamin B6, calcium, niacin and three hefty grams of fiber per cup.

My butternut squash soup is quick and easy to whip up; simply seed and cube the squash, add it to the spices, cranberries, flax seeds and harvest root veggies,; simmer, then transfer into your handy-dandy blender and puree until smooth.  As in this recipe, I often choose incorporate ground flax seeds, which add an additional nutty flavor and are a great thickener for my soups and stews.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 large parsnips, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. rosemary, finely crushed
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • Sea salt and crushed white pepper, to taste
  • Toppings: Greek plain yogurt and fresh basil leaves

Directions

  • Seed and cube the butternut squash.
  • In a large pot, combine chicken broth along with cranberries and root veggies: onion, carrots, parsnips and garlic.   Add cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, ground flax seeds and sea salt and crushed white pepper; cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes or until squash is tender.
  • Lower heat to a simmer; cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • Transfer soup mixture to a blender; puree until smooth.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt and freshly chopped basil leaves.
  • Enjoy.

Here are a few news clips in the Nutrition/Health field that I’ve come across within the last week and thought I’d share with all of you:

Food Cos. Dropping Smart Choices Labeling

Loose Weight By Eating More

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really That Bad For You?

Tighter Belts Mean Thicker Waists

Egg-alicious!

Exciting news…I just moved into my very own apartment and I am thrilled to have my  own full kitchen! It’s beautiful and incredibly spacious…perfect for my cooking soirées and recipe testing…just in time for the holiday season.

eggs

I have eggs on my mind today…Sunny-side-up, poached or scrambled? Or shall we get creative and whip up an omelet or frittata? Eggs are an inexpensive protein-packed food that are rich in vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and folate. Quick and easy to prepare, eggs can be transformed into your breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner menu! We’ve all heard the stories about eggs having a bad rap over the years, however, contrary to belief, an egg a day may not impact your cholesterol levels. One egg has simply 76 calories…not too shabby.

But if you’re not hopping on the egg-bandwagon anytime soon, have an egg allergy or are Vegan, not to worry because you can substitute ground flax seeds for eggs in baking recipes. Simply add one tablespoon of ground flax seed to 3 tablespoons of water for the equivalent to one egg; allow to stand for a few moments to plump before adding to batter.

egg

Walking into the so-called ‘egg aisle’ of your local food store can seem like a maze with the abundance of varieties stacked onto the overflowing chilled shelves.

Conventional Eggs. Typically from chickens stacked in small cages, which are not fed organic feed and may contain hormones and/or antibiotics.

Brown Eggs. These are usually conventional eggs with a brown colored shell, which has nothing to do with the quality, nutritional value or taste. The shade of the eggshell color simply depends on the breed of the hen.

Organic Eggs. Made from caged hens, however, this variety is antibiotic free and fed organic feed. I personally believe it’s worth purchasing organic eggs over conventional.

Omega-3 Enhanced Eggs. These eggs are fed a diet of fish oils and flax seed, which means you reap the benefits. Compared to regular eggs, this variety can have up to seven times more Omega 3 fatty acids than regular eggs.

Processed Eggs. These eggs are packaged into cartons and may contain preservatives, flavor or color additives. Theses include liquid eggs, liquid egg whites and dried egg whites. What type of eggs do you prefer?

I’ve put together two of my favorite egg creations that you can prepare in no time.

Healthy Blueberry Blintzes

blintzes

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar or stevia sweetener
  • 2 Tbsp. Greek plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup blueberries

Directions

  • In a large bowl, whisk egg, egg whites, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sweetener for 4-5 minutes until mixture becomes airy and fluffy.
  • Spray a skillet with cooking spray; add whipped mixture and cook over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes and flip to the other side to ensure even cooking.
  • When eggs are fully cooked, transfer to serving dishes and top with a dollop of Greek plain yogurt and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds and blueberries in the center.
  • Fold the eggs over the yogurt and fruit.
  • Enjoy.

Harvest Frittata

frittattaa

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. warm water
  • ½ ripe avocado, mashed
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 yellow squash, shredded
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • Pinch of curry powder
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites and water. Set aside.
  • Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray, heat over medium heat. Add onion; stir until becomes translucent. Add zucchini and squash shreds; cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with basil, curry powder, sea salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies in the skillet, covering them entirely.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and let cook until the egg mixture has set around the edges of the pan; approximately 10 minutes. Be cautious not to overcook the egg mixture as it will become tough.
  • Slice the frittata into 8 wedges and serve.
  • Enjoy.

Pumpkin Bran Cookies

pu

Earlier this week I was in the mood for some serious pumpkin…it must be the fall foliage and autumn breeze that spark my yearning for harvest foods.  These are the days when Central Park is remarkably beautiful; the leaves turning beautiful shades of auburn and rust…reminds me of pumpkins and produce-packed cornucopias.  It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is next month, although we still have time to enjoy these October days I’m eager to whip up new tasty seasonal recipes.  And what better ingredient to use than good ‘ol pumpkin?

For this particular recipe I used canned pumpkin, which can easily be found in your food store.  Be sure not to purchase ‘Pumpkin Pie Mix’ because the can looks quite similar to regular ‘Pumpkin’.  I always reach for Libby’s canned pumpkin as it has a delectable taste and is incredibly delicious eaten directly out of the can (Yes, you caught me…I have been known to scoop a few spoonfuls of Libby’s right into my mouth).  In this case, try not to eat all of the pumpkin as you’ll need 1/3 cup for the recipe.  I do recommend, however, purchasing another can of Libby’s pumpkin as it is incredibly inexpensive and is wonderful when mixed with a dollop of Greek yogurt and cinnamon for a tasty treat.

I have yet to test this recipe with fresh pumpkin, however, I will be experimenting soon and I’ll be sure to fill you in on the recipe.  For this particular case, canned pumpkin is a perfect option for a quick and easy way to create these healthy treats.  When I’m short on time, but desire flavor I reach for canned pumpkin and it always does the trick.

As for the bran crumbs, they can also be found in your food store…just take a peak down the baking aisle and you’ll be amazed to see numerous boxes, all of which are perfect suited for this delectable recipe. Bran crumbs are a fantastic way to enrich your recipes with a hearty crunch and a dose of heart-healthy fiber.

Not only are these cookies incredibly tasty, but they’re chock full of fiber and pack scores of beta carotene, as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup rice milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup butter (or butter substitute), melted
  • 2 cups bran crumbs or (stale bread mashed into crumbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine wet ingredients, then add to dry mixture.
  • Slowly add melted butter and bran crumbs; mix well until it forms a cookie dough consistency.
  • Drop teaspoon sized spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until done.

There are ways to enjoy these fiber-ific pumpkin cookies.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Pumpkin Cookies crumbled and sprinkled atop morning oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fruit parfait, applesauce or whipped banana pudding.
  • Frozen Greek yogurt sandwiched between 2 Pumpkin Cookies, then rolled in chopped nuts to make ‘Flying Saucers’.
  • Add soft baked Pumpkin Cookies (cut into quarters) to your trail mix or popcorn for a harvest taste.

What is your favorite way to enjoy fiber-rich cookies?

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Continuing with my fall harvest theme, I have created a delectable Pumpkin Bread Pudding that will knock your socks off, leaving your taste buds yearning for more.  I was excited to use a fresh loaf of Nature’s Pride Soft 100% Whole Wheat bread, which has an incredible consistency and is perfectly suited for bread pudding.  Thanks to the pumpkin, whole wheat and ground flax, this tasty treat packs a healthy dose of beta carotene, whole grains and fiber.

pumpkin

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 can can canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 slices of Nature’s Pride Soft 100% Whole Wheat bread, cut into cube-like pieces
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Plain Greek yogurt, for topping
  • Ground flax seeds, for topping
  • Handful of fresh mint, for topping

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, pumpkin, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly add in milk; mix well.
  • Fold in Nature’s Path Soft 100% Whole Wheat bread cube piece, chopped macadamia nuts and dried cherries.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites until peaks form.
  • Slowly fold egg whites into the bread mixture.
  • Transfer into a baking dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
  • Serve warm with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, fresh mint and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds.
  • Enjoy.

Almond Encrusted Salmon with Homemade Raspberry Salsa

salmon

Last night I enjoyed this delicious salmon dish.  The sweet raspberry salsa makes this salmon a perfect summertime meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 Salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, dried
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • Nu-Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For Fish:

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  • Grind almonds with wheat germ, flax seeds, Nu-Salt, pepper and dried cilantro together in a food processor
  • Wisk together 2 eggs in a small bowl
  • Dip fish into the egg mixture and then immediately coat in the almond mixture
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown

For Salsa:

  • Mix together raspberries, red onion, lemon juice, honey and Nu-Salt and pepper.
  • Spread salsa over baked salmon and enjoy!