Chicken Quinoa Soup

 

There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day, and if it's chicken soup that's even better!  It warms you from the inside out!   I like mine with lots of vegetables, big chunks of chicken and the extra nutrition of quinoa.  I have tried many different recipes for chicken soup and they all seemed to be missing something, they were just a bit too bland.  I knew there must be some spice that would make my chicken soup extra yummy.   I finally tried it with oregano and just a bit of garlic, and I love it!

 

Instead of the traditional chicken and rice soup we have switched to quinoa.  After some debate, we did finally learn how to pronounce it, "keen-wah".  It is a great addition to a gluten free diet, gone are the days when celiacs were limited to rice!

   

 Five fun facts about quinoa:

  1. Rather than a true cereal, quinoa is known as a pseudo cereal, and is closely related to beets and spinach.
  2. First cultivated by the Incas, up to 4,000 years ago, quinoa was known as " the mother of all grains" and was considered sacred.
  3. Quinoa comes in many different colours including white, red and black.
  4. Quinoa is a complete protein and high in iron, magnesium, and antioxidants.
  5. The glycemic index of quinoa is 53 , which is considered low and is great for keeping blood sugar levels even. 
 

Chicken Quinoa Soup

  • 1 lb. chicken parts, bone in
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped 
  • 3 cups chopped carrots 
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. oregano 
In a large pot add the chicken and water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.  Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.  Add 2 cups of water to the pot to replace what has evaporated.  Add remaining ingredients, bring it back to a boil, cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes.  Remove chicken from bones, cut into bite-size pieces and return to pot.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Gluten Free Roasted Vegetable Pizza

       
For many people who discover that they are Celiac or gluten intolerant one of the hardest things to give up is pizza.  The chewy crust, spicy toppings and gooey cheese are just too good!  
 
Luckily no one has to give up pizza.  Many pizza restaurants are now offering gluten free options,  the freezer section of most grocery stores now carry them as well.  I have had a few requests for a recipe for home made gluten free pizza and here it is. The gluten free crust is great!  It is soft and chewy and easy to make.  I just mix it with my hand mixer then spread it onto two pizza pans, no kneading required!
   
Everyone has their favourite toppings: spicy pepperoni or sausage, Hawaiian or barbecue chicken. These days, as we try to eat healthier, maybe traditional pizza doesn't fit.  This Gluten Free Roasted Vegetable Pizza is a great choice!  I Love the flavour of the veggies that have been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and then roasted as the pizza bakes.

Five reasons to add more vegetables to your diet:

  1. People who eat seven or more serving of fruit and vegetables a day reduce their chances of getting arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
  2. Vegetables are high in both soluble and insoluble fibre which are great for digestion and lowering cholesterol.
  3. The calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K2 found in vegetables will keep your bones healthy and strong.
  4.  Your skin will glow from eating more vegetables because of the vitamin C and beta-carotene; some even suggest it will slow down aging.
  5. Some of the best foods for fighting chronic inflammation include, dark green vegetables, beets, peppers, garlic and onion.

 

Gluten Free Vegetable Pizza 

Yield: 2 twelve inch pizzas.

Crust:

  • 3 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. GF baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. Apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
 

Toppings:

  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce 
  • 4 cups grated mozzarella or marble cheese
  • 6 cups chopped vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, onion, mushrooms)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder 
For crust, mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Add honey, vinegar and warm water and mix with an electric mixer for one minute.  Spread dough on two, greased, 12 inch pizza pans.  Let rise for 20 minutes then bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with tomato sauce and cheese.  In a medium bowl toss vegetables with olive oil, sea salt and garlic powder.  Spread vegetables on pizza and top with a small amount of cheese.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until pizza is lightly browned.    

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

 

 

 
 We are a breakfast loving family.  We have even been known to enjoy breakfast foods at other times of the day, omelettes for lunch, eggs Benedict for supper, and of course pancakes are good anytime!  We also have some special family brunch memories , including Sunday brunch at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg and at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney.  Most days however, breakfast isn't that exciting. 
 
A healthy Breakfast is important.  It's a great start to the day and my "house rule" is that breakfast has to include protein.  There are lots of studies that have shown how important it is for kids to eat a morning meal containing protein.  They can concentrate better, score higher on tests and anyone who eats a healthy breakfast is more likely to eat less calories later in the day.
 
 
A few years ago we had four kids in the house and so mornings were busy with breakfast, making school lunches, and last minute homework.  Throw in a few early morning extracurricular activities and some days I needed a nap by 9:00 am.  These days the house is much quieter with only one child left in high school.  The question is still the same though, what to have for breakfast?  Some days you're not in the mood for eggs and there is no time for French toast or pancakes so porridge makes a nice change.
 
                     

 

Five healthy ingredients to kick-start your morning:

  1. Oatmeal is the original super food. It has a low glycemic index, giving a slow release of energy which helps you to stay full all morning.  Among many health benefits, it helps to lower cholesterol.
  2. Flax Seeds are considered to be one of the world's healthiest foods.  They are very high in omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent source of fibre.
  3. Hemp Hearts have a slightly nutty flavour and are high in protein with 5 grams per tablespoon.
  4. Apples are a great source of fiber, antioxidants and bioflavonoids and may reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  5. Cinnamon is one of the top spices for health benefits.  It is known to lower blood sugar levels which helps to reduce disease causing inflammation.
                     
 
 

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal 

  • 1 cup old fashioned, gluten free oatmeal
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 large (or 2 small) mackintosh Apple, peeled and shredded
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 3 Tbsp. ground flax
In a medium size pot bring water to a boil.  Add oatmeal, sea salt, and shredded apple. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add maple syrup, hemp hearts and ground flax and stir.  Serve with milk of choice. Yield: 3-4 servings.

Red Pepper Basil Hummus

Hummus is very popular these days but I have to admit I was reluctant to try it until just recently.  
When I stopped eating gluten I made the decision to go out of my comfort zone and try new foods.  I have since discovered many wonderful foods to replace the things I can no longer eat.  Hummus is great with Gluten Free Crackers, and I can't get enough of it spread on my Gluten Free Sandwich Buns. 
This recipe is different than the usual creamy, smooth hummus.  I have added minced red pepper and red onion.  I love the flavour combination and the interesting texture.
Five reasons to add Hummus to your gluten free diet:
  1. Hummus is a versatile dip or spread that helps add more legumes to our diet.
  2. Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus are a great source of protein with 14.5 grams per cup.
  3. Like all legumes chickpeas are high in fibre which helps in lowering cholesterol.
  4. Chickpeas are high in micronutrients such as folate, copper and manganese.
  5. Hummus contains lemon juice, high in vitamins C, which helps to absorb the iron found in chickpeas. 
 
 

Red Pepper Basil Hummus 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbsp. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Montreal steak spice
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dried or fresh basil, chopped
In a blender or food processor, grind cashews to a fine powder, add chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, sea salt and steak spice. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Serve chilled on crackers or bread.  Store extra in the fridge for up to three days.

Gluten Free Sesame Crackers

Welcome 2016!  A new year is like a clean, empty book waiting to be filled with new projects, activities, and wonderful new memories.  It's a fresh start and often a time to make the decision to improve on things in ourselves.  Often this involves healthy eating and exercise.  
I think it is human nature to strive for change and then find it is not easy to follow through.  We need encouragement and reminders until our new endeavour becomes a habit.  This is why I look at healthy eating as a journey.  It doesn't happen overnight, but by adding one healthy ingredient at a time.  
 
One basic ingredient that I have started using as part of a healthier diet is Sea Salt.  This doesn't seem like a huge change but it took a little while before I was completely comfortable with it.  Some sea salts are not white like regular table salt and they can clump together a bit.  Now that I am used to it I don't even think about it. 

Five reasons to switch to Sea Salt:            

  1. Our bodies need salt.  The chemical compound sodium chloride helps to regulate our fluid balance and helps our nerves and muscles to work properly
  2. Most table salt has been heat processed and stripped of it's natural trace minerals, bleached, then treated with a chemical anti-caking agent.
  3. For an alkaline diet sea salt is s great choice.  It helps the body get rid of excess acid through elimination.
  4. Sea salt helps our bodies maintain a healthy electrolyte balance.
  5. Real sea salt contains an abundance of essential trace minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and iodine that are readily absorbed by our bodies.
Since giving up gluten I have tried various types of crackers from a few different stores and I found one that I really liked.  Guess what, the store stopped carrying them!  Don't you hate it when that happens?  So I had two choices, order them by the case from Amazon or make my own.  Since I didn't want to wait for delivery I opted to make some myself.
These Sesame Crackers have a nice mild flavour so they are great with your favourite cheese ball and they have a nice texture.  They are also easy and can be ready in about half an hour.
   

Gluten Free Sesame Crackers

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (plus more for sprinkling) 
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp.  olive oil or melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. cold water
In a medium sized mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine liquids and add all at once to the dry.  Stir until mixture comes together to form a ball.  Divide the dough into two equal balls.  Cut three pieces of parchment paper to fit two of your cookie sheets and spread a small amount of oil on all three.  Roll out one ball of cracker dough between two sheets of parchment.  Remove the top sheet and place the bottom piece of parchment along with the cracker dough on one cookie sheet.  Using a pizza cutter cut crackers into squares and sprinkle with some sea salt.  Repeat with the second ball, reusing the top sheet of parchment.
 
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until crackers are starting to brown.  Remove from oven and let the crackers completely cool on the cookie sheets.  Break crackers apart and store in an airtight container.