Tomato-corn pie with grain-free crust

A thing I’ve had to truly mourn this year: Tomato Pie.

It’s like summer in a pie plate. Like someone sat down one day and wondered, How can I fit all of summer into this pie dish? And that is what was born. Garden tomatoes, basil, and really good cheese baked into a delicate pie crust.

However, sadly… there is no tomato pie for the grain-free. And while I hear that really good pie crusts can be made gluten-free, grain-free is an impossibility.

But I refuse to be doomed to a life without my own pie plate full of summer. Just had to think outside the box a bit.

I’ve long heard praises sung for this recipe for a Corn-Tomato Pie over at Smitten Kitchen. And while I still don’t believe it’s as good as the pure unadulterated tomato-ness of my classic, it’s still a darned good pie. A bit richer, with its lemony-mayo and layers of summer corn. And as luck would have it — very adaptable to a grain-free crust.

This pie was loved by all but two of my three children. Which in our household means a winner. I’ll be making it again, likely long after I’ve re-embraced grains in my life. It will just be added as a distant cousin to the first and favorite savory summer pie in my repertoire.

If you are still among the grain-consumptive, definitely check out the original recipe (I’ve made very minor changes to the filling in the version below), which utilizes a double-classic pie crust. Otherwise, there’s still time in these weeks before September 22nd for the grain-less among us to get our fill of sunshine on a plate.

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Tip Tuesday, no. 4

Green smoothies are all the rage, right? All over pinterest, in the to-go mugs of lululemon moms everywhere. They’ve been one of my favorite breakfasts since I went grain-free and my standby granola went by the wayside.

Most smoothie recipes call for grabbing a bunch of fresh leafy greens and grinding them to liquid with some other yummier items (bananas or other fruits). This is what I did most of last summer, pulling straight from our garden, where our little patch of kale was prolific for many months.

But then I kept reading things about raw greens* containing chemicals that can worsen the effects of hypothyroidism. My thyroid has lately tended to be slightly weak — so while I loved getting my greens in my morning smoothie, I thought it best not to eat them raw every day.

Solution: cook a batch of kale, puree it down in a blender or food processor, and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop out and store in a zipper bag. When it comes smoothie time, just grab a cube and stick it in the blender with the rest of your ingredients. You get your serving of dark greens, but they’re cooked to inhibit those goitrogens.

If you drink green smoothies every day, you might consider keeping these kale cubes in your freezer to alternate with raw green smoothies (of course you could do this with any green, I just prefer kale). Perfect for those days you’re clean out of fresh greens — the flavor is still mild, usually overcome by fruits, and you start the morning with a serving of veggies.

* Goitrogens are not present in lettuce greens — so eating all the salad you want doesn’t effect thyroid function. It’s the sturdier greens, including spinach, along with cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

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Looking for a great way to add immunity-supporting probiotics to your smoothie? Check this Kid’s Probiotic Smoothie — it’s for grownups too (delicious with kale cubes added)!

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday.

Kids’ power smoothie

Sometimes, it feels as though 90% of my energy on any given day is spent figuring out how to get as many nourishing foods into my kids’ bodies as possible, given their standard-fare pickiness, a limited budget, and their battle-weary mom.

Another 5% is spent doing the laundry.

I don’t know if you’re keeping up with the math, but that leaves 5% of my energy for doing things like brushing my teeth, showering on occasion, keeping up with social media, and watching my library-loaned copies of Lark Rise to Candleford (a BBC period-dramedy chosen specifically for its solid escapism capabilities).

I’m not (always) bitter, just constantly surprised by how much energy it takes to feed kids well. And looking for better solutions.

Thankfully, last spring I landed on an easy, sure-fire way to get loads of good probiotics into the bellies of my kids: the smoothie. We’ve been enjoying them all summer, but school starts Monday (!) — and my goal is to pack them full of friendly gut-flora, daily, year-round, to give their immune systems that much-needed school-year boost.

The great thing about smoothies? You can sneak things into them. Things like greens, kombucha (a how-to-make-your-own post is coming soon!) beet kvass (a lacto-fermented beverage made from beets — great for the liver, not-so-tasty for the kids), or brain-boosting fish oil (tastes like lemon!). I like using probiotics from multiple sources — yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and a powdered kids’ probiotic supplement — to get as much variety as possible in beneficial bacteria.

If you want a protein boost, you can add a spoonful of nut butter (almond and cashew butters are more neutral in flavor than peanut butter). For constipated kids, grind some flaxseed and throw it in (1 tsp should do). And my personal favorite for getting some extra brain-boosting fats? A quarter of an avocado makes the smoothie thick and creamy, and you can’t taste it at all.

The best part of all? No complaining. At afternoon snack time, when my kids hear the blender running, it’s like a Pavlovian reaction — they come to the table, ready to drink. It keeps them satiated until dinner, and gets those good bugs into their adorable little bellies.

Leaving me just enough time to switch out the laundry, check twitter, and change out of my pjs before dinner.*

* Of course I’m kidding. I’m totally done with laundry by dinner.

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Zucchini-corn fritters (gluten-free)

I like petite zucchini. There’s just something about the scale of a giant summer squash that seems, I don’t know, wrong. I know it’s not wrong, that this is just some silly subconscious preconceived notion about what should be the limits of squash growth, something probably covered by Freud in one of his texts. But reasoning with myself on this does no good. I will fish out the little guys from the bin at the farmer’s market, loving them for their convenient circumference and polite volume of seeds.

But of course, I also won’t turn down a big specimen, not when offered one from a friend’s garden.

Which is what happened a few weeks ago — my in-laws came through town, and I was handed a large zucchini, fresh from their vegetable patch. I brought it home with gratitude, and within a few hours had it shredded down to the perfect amount for making up a batch of zucchini fritters. I had leftover grilled corn cobs in the fridge to use up, with the challenge of making this batch grain-free. The skillet was heating up as I was stripping the corn of its kernels.

I ended up using the fritters as a base for dinner — one that involved sautéed kale and an over-easy egg on top. But several inspirational recipes included dips of sour cream cut with a little lime juice and spiked with chopped chives, or creme fraiche (easy to make at home). The sweetness of the corn (with a smoky component if you use grilled) perked up the texture and flavor of my usual standby fritter. My kids rejected them outright, so that left me with about 10 fritters all to myself over the next day or two — which I had no problem consuming, they were that good.

Good, and able to clear my conscience of squash discrimination.

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For this recipe, it can help your knuckles if you have a food processor — this one is my favorite. You’ll also do well to have a good pre-seasoned cast-iron pan.

 

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This post was linked up to the Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Zucchini at GNOWFGLINS.

 

 

Avocado popsicles

I have a story coming out in this week’s NUVO, about a new food cart in town that sells handmade popsicles (I love this company, by the way — they are making really amazing popsicles, use recyclable materials and are conscientious about giving back to the community — if you live in Indy and run across their cute retro-styled bicycle cart, give your support!).

They have a list of interesting, not-your-run-of-the-mill flavors, and one of them was avocado. When I saw it, I was immediately reminded of the avocado ice cream from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop — I made it a couple years ago, and then turned it into an avocado licuado con leche (Español for avocado milkshake) — resulting in an amazingly creamy and delightful summer drink. I immediately had in mind to figure out my own honey-sweetened version of an avocado pop.

I had a few duds before I found a winner. The losers all included dairy — I started with David’s ice cream recipe, which includes sour cream, and replaced it with yogurt. But it was a bit muddy in flavor, so I ended up ditching the milk and keeping it simple — just the avocado, honey, water, and lime juice. I love the results — very creamy, not-too-sweet, and a perfect refreshing and healthy afternoon treat.

Full disclaimer: this flavor is unusual. The avocado is very present, and I can see how it could mess with your head a little, being cold and sweet. These are not a favorite for my kids, they eat them about half the time, and the other half turn up their noses — but that’s fine by me, since it means a four-pack of pops lasts me more than just one afternoon.

If you’re looking for more homemade popsicle recipes, check these out:
Raspberry Sherbet Popsicles
Mango Popsicles
Chocolate-Coconut Popsicles

 

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Recipe: Avocado Popsicles

: makes about 4 pops, depending on mold size

Ingredients

  • one ripe avocado, cut in half and pitted
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup mild honey (can sub sugar)
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado into a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth.
  2. Spoon thick puree into popsicle molds. Freeze until firm. Run molds under cool water to easily loosen pops from molds.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

Apricot chutney

chutney-serving

I had forgotten about chutney.

I’m not sure how it happened. But it just popped back into my head one day, like I walked down into the basement, moved a few boxes around, and saw it laying on the floor, forlorn & discarded, and remembered, CHUTNEY!

(Metaphorically, of course. While there are lots of food items in my basement, there is, to my recollection, not a random jar of chutney lying at the foot of my never-used golf clubs.)

chutney-ingredients

I love this spicy-sweet condiment. It was once my go-to topping for a pork roast, and a frequent side to curries. It’s one of those condiments that provides a huge return on investment — ingredients are easy to keep stocked, can be modified to your liking, and keeps for many days refrigerated.

As a bonus, people are always impressed with chutney — it’s just not something that gets made at home very often. And what are we doing when we invite people for dinner if not simply trying our darndest to impress them?

chutney-inpot

I tend to cook dried fruit chutneys, because that’s the easiest fruit to keep lying around. But by all means, if you have an abundance of fresh fruit, this is a great way to use it (you’ll need to change up the ratios a bit, a quick google search should help with that). I’ve been lacto-fermenting my jar by reducing the vinegar and adding a little whey after it’s cooked — this just adds a probiotic benefit. Read the note with the recipe to see this optional step.

I’ve served this as a vegetarian meal with my red lentil and squash curry — the fresh ginger works well with Indian spices. But this week we’ll have it with a pork roast (I’d forgotten about those, too — makes me wonder if a traumatic incident sometime in 2005 had me repressing my love for this meal?) — it’s just that versatile.

And not to be forgotten again.

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Recipe: Apricot Chutney

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups

To lacto-ferment the chutney, reduce apple cider vinegar to 3 Tbsp, and add an additional 2 Tbsp water. After chutney is cooked and cooled, stir in 2 Tbsp whey. Let sit covered at room temperature for 12 hours before refrigerating.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots (unsulphured if possible)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • (1) 1″ piece fresh ginger, cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except apple in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped apple, re-cover, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until apple is tender.
  3. Serve at room temperature (remove ginger strips before serving). Keep leftovers in a capped jar in the refrigerator for up to a week (or longer for lacto-fermented option).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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The elusive grain-free muffin

blueberry-grainfree-muffin

When I first gave up eating grains, I searched high and low for any and all recipes that would replace bread products in my life. Pizza dough, muffins, scones, sandwich bread, crackers. I googled, experimented with alternative flours, and baked like my life depended on it.

And day after day, I was sorely, even desperately disappointed. Gluten-free is one challenge; grain-free is a whole other ball game — and when it comes to beloved sandwich bread, it’s a game I have forfeited. Nut flours are an entirely different creature than their grain counterparts, and in most cases do not behave remotely the same.

I had to learn to change my expectations. For the most part, I think I’m there (though I still long for the day when I can once again have pizza, because right now there’s nothing grain-free that compares to an airy, stone-baked crust).

So far, the thing that seems easiest to replicate is the muffin. But it’s not as simple as replacing wheat flour with almond flour — you’d end up with a crumbly, dense almond ball. My local GAPS-friend Jen shared a banana muffin recipe that called for no flour at all — just almond butter and eggs — and it had the lightest, most delicate crumb of any recipe yet. Wanting a blueberry muffin, with a little less banana, I decided to develop my recipe from that no-flour starting point. After a few failed tweaks, I ended up with a keeper (though a 1/4 cup of almond flour did find its way back into the mix). So good, my kids beg for the muffins, even though they know they are “mommy’s special breakfast,” (I *might* guilt them every time their greedy, fat little fingers unwrap one for snack — while also secretly loving the fact they want them, being the high-protein, low-carb treat they are).

Not too dense, not too eggy — these muffins are just right. Goldilocks would have gobbled them up.

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Recipe: Blueberry Crunch Muffins (grain-free, dairy-free, GAPS-friendly)

: makes 10-12 muffins

Since this batter can be thin, it works best for blueberry distribution if half of the berries are reserved for dotting on top of the batter (otherwise they all sink to the bottom of the cups). Feel free to substitute ghee or butter for the coconut oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup almond or cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tsp coconut oil, divided (room temperature ok)
  • 3 Tbsp honey, divided
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp blanched almond flour, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Have ready a standard 12-cup muffin tin, either very well-greased or lined with muffin cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana to a pulp. Add the eggs, nut butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 Tbsp honey, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Using a fork or whisk, mix vigorously until well-combined.
  3. Sift together 1/4 cup almond flour, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Add to the liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the chopped nuts with remaining 1 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 Tbsp almond flour, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  5. Add half of the blueberries to the batter, and fold in. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Divide the remaining blueberries among the cups, pushing into the batter.
  6. Break off small pieces of the honey-nut paste and dot on top of the batter, dividing evenly.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are golden and centers are set.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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