Gluten Free Jambalaya

One of the things I love the most about traveling is learning different cultures through their culinary traditions. And when you think of cultures filled with vibrant life and joyful traditions I bet New Orleans comes to mind. Full of flavor and love, New Orleans cuisine satisfies the tummy and the soul!

I remember the moment I found out about sweet rice flour being a substitute for flour in a traditional roux (butter and flour cooked together to thicken a sauce). I felt like the heavens had just opened back up for me! Jambalaya was attainable! Gravy was once again possible! Just make sure you use sweet rice flour and not regular rice flour. They are not interchangeable!

Jambalaya

Yield: 8 servings

1 pound large shrimp (26-30’s), peeled and deveined, shells reserved

4 tbs + 1 tbs butter

4 tbs sweet rice flour

2 andouille sausages, cut in ½ inch thick coins

1  cup tasso, small diced (about 6 oz)

1 cup yellow onion, small diced

½ cup celery

½ cup green pepper

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tbs creole seasoning

2 qts chicken stock

1 ½ cups arborio rice

½ pound crawfish tails

½ pound crab meat, picked

salt and pepper to taste

2 lemons, zested

Place 1 quart of water in a small saucepot. Add the shrimp shells, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the shells steep for 4 minutes, then strain, reserving only the liquid.

In the meantime, make the roux by placing 4 tbs of butter and 4 tbs of sweet rice flour in a small saucepan, and cook on medium heat, stirring every 2 minutes or so, until it takes on a dark color, about the shade of roasted peanut butter.

Take a large enameled dutch oven and heat up the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the andouille sausages. Cook until golden brown and then remove from the pan. Reserve.

Cook the tasso in the same pan on medium heat until the fat is rendered out, about 8 minutes. Next add the celery, green peppers and onions, stirring occasionally.. Sauté for another 8 minutes, then add the tomato paste and creole seasoning. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

Add the chicken stock, shrimp stock and the rice. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low heat and cover the pot with a lid, stirring occasionally. Allow to cook for about 25 minutes, or until rice is just tender. Add more liquid if desired.

To finish the jambalaya turn the heat up to medium and add the shrimp, andouille and the roux. Stir them in and allow to cook for about 3 minutes, until the shrimp are starting to turn from translucent to pink and opaque. Add the andouille, crawfish and crab meat. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Serve hot or cool and refrigerate. Jambalaya will be good stored up to 3 days.

Caramel Chocolate Tart with Pecan Crust

I adapted this recipe from one I learned when I worked at the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room. I have to admit I’ve spotted this tart on a lot of menus around Atlanta since then. The original recipe has probably been circulated around so much because it is the best. Chef Bruno Menard came up with it, and his father is a very well respected chocolatier in France, and from what I could tell from working with him, a love for chocolate ran in the family.

I had two little problems with his recipe. The first problem was, it called for glucose. Not the worst of the inverted sugars, honestly, but I still wanted to try to avoid it. Maple syrup was the substitute I settled on, and I like it because instead of being an empty sugar, maple syrup provides vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and b6. On to problem number 2: it needed a crust. Originally, this dessert was “composed,” meaning it had an ice cream quinelle, a cocoa nib tuile, a wafer, and a small stick of tempered chocolate complete with a little piece of gold leaf waving like a flag off the end of it. Beautiful in the settings of a five star five diamond dining room, but I wanted something a little more rustic. So I developed a nut based crust not only for nutritive value, but because I think it stands up better than a flour crust could to the intense richness of that chocolate ganache filling.

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Caramel Chocolate Tart with Pecan Crust

Crust:

¾ cup raw pecans

¾ cup almond flour

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs soft butter

2 tbs maple syrup

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325*.

Pulse the pecans in a food processor until they reach a fine crumb consistency. Combine the ground pecans, almond flour, unsweetened coconut and salt in a large bowl. Add the soft butter and maple syrup, and mix until combined using a rubber spatula.

Line a 9 inch tart pan with the crust mixture, making sure it’s an even thickness all around. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool completely before filling it.

Chocolate Tart:

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs water

1 lemon wedge

1 cup heavy cream

1 tbs maple syrup

1 tsp of sea salt

1 ¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped

2 1/2 oz butter, diced

First make a caramel by placing the sugar in a small sauce pot with the water. Squeeze the lemon juice into the sugar (this will prevent the caramel from crystalizing).  Melt the sugar over medium heat and continue to cook until it turns a rich golden brown color. It will be extremely hot, do not touch it with your fingers. Add the heavy cream, cane syrup and pinch of salt. Stir until combined.

Place the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Pour the caramel cream over the chocolate and gently stir. Once the chocolate and cream are combined add the butter, one chunk at a time. Pour into the prepared tart mold and refrigerate. Once chilled it is ready to serve.

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Autumn Tonic

I’ve always thought that cranberries deserved a bigger role at thanksgiving. There’s plenty to thank them for after all. They are amazing little anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer vitamin C bombs.

I used to shy away from juicing. Diabetes runs in my family, and it just never made sense to me to drop a huge load of sugar (albeit natural) into my bloodstream with no fiber to mediate it.

So instead of super-sized pressed juices, I’ve been making really intensely flavored, nutrient dense 2 ounce shooters. Maybe it appeals to the party girl of my youth. Your mouth will pucker up just the same as it did in your twenties from that shot of tequila, but instead of getting drunk and making bad decisions you’ll be boosting your immune system and detoxing your liver. What a welcome change!

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Autumn Tonic

1 cup cranberries

1 cup filtered water

1 pear, quartered

2 ounces of ginger (or more depending on how spicy you dare to make it)

2 lemons

Place the cranberries and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the cranberries burst. Run them through a food mill or a blender (you’ll need to strain them if you use the blender). Chill the juice in the refrigerator while you juice the rest of the ingredients.

Using a juicer, juice the ginger and pear. Squeeze the lemon using a citrus reamer. Strain out the pulp and seeds. Combine all with the chilled cranberry juice. Store refrigerated and use as quickly as possible. It will last up to 4 days.

Flavor Bombs

Flavor isn’t the only thing this recipe provides. These little guys are packed full of nutrients and firing-on-all-cylinders level energy.

They are a perfect treat to take on a fall hiking adventure, and I also love packing them with me whenever I have to travel. This saves me from being forced to eat things that don’t make me feel my best. Making healthy choices begins by setting yourself up for success. These keep me on track with my meal plan, in addition to satisfying my taste buds.

Flavor Bombs
Yield: 12-15 balls

¼ cup pecan flour, or meal
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (preferred brand: Let’s Do Organic)
¼ cup cocoa nibs + 1 tsp cocoa nibs
2 tbs quinoa
½ tsp clarified butter or expeller pressed neutral flavored oil
1 cup almond flour
½ cup medjool dates, pitted
1 inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp maple syrup
½ orange, juiced

Puff the quinoa by getting a small pot with sides at least 6 inches high. Add in the clarified butter and quinoa, then cook on high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the quinoa starts to jump. Color should stay light.

Combine the pecan flour, coconut flakes and ¼ cup cocoa nibs in a small casserole dish and set aside.

Place the puffed quinoa, almond flour and dates into a food processor. Blend for one minute. Scrape down the sides and add the grated turmeric, cinnamon, 1 tsp cocoa nibs, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Blend for another 2 minutes until the mixture is combined. Adjust the consistency by blending in the orange juice. The mixture should be pretty firm and just a little sticky.

Fill a small bowl with water. Use the water to wet your fingers as you scoop the balls out of the processor with a small scoop or spoon. Roll them in your hands until they are a round ball, then coat in the pecan, coconut and cocoa nib mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Refrigerate if desired.

*If pecan and almond flour are unavailable you can substitute whole nuts that you grind in your food processor.

Preserved Lemons

You’ll love using preserved lemons in place of fresh lemons for a new twist on some of your favorite classics. Check out my top 10 ideas for incorporating them below this recipe.

I’ve never found a brand in stores that captures the subtly seductive flavor of a homemade version, and they are just about the easiest things in the world to make. They last forever in the fridge, just make sure you use clean utensils to remove them from the container each time.

Through the preserving process the entire lemon becomes edible, but my favorite part is the rind. I try to get all the meat of the lemon and the white part off as well and then I slice the rind really thin to use.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

10 organic lemons, washed thoroughly, a couple extra for juice if it’s your first batch
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme, optional
1 tsp black pepper, optional

Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl with the sprigs of thyme and black pepper.

From the top of the lemon, cut an X about half an inch down. This will allow you to pack the inside of the lemon with the salt and sugar mixture.

Lightly cover the bottom of a clean container with the salt and sugar mix. Start packing the lemons with the mix and lay them in the container, packing them as tightly as possible. Use all the salt and sugar. If you need to cheat on your first batch and add a little extra fresh squeezed lemon juice that will help to speed up the process. Cover with a lid and refrigerate.

The salt will start to pull the juice out of the lemon, and you will end up with a lot of liquid in the container. This is good! It helps to push the lemons down to submerge them a little more after a couple days. Remember you want them fully submerged. Your lemons should be done in about 30 days. You’ll know they are ready when the peel is tender and the texture is soft and silken. The flavor will be much milder than a typical lemon. Hold on to the salty leftover brine to help you start your next batch!

10 Great Uses For Preserved Lemons

  1. Garnish for grilled salmon or trout
  2. Garnish on top of roast chicken mixed with parsley
  3. Thinly slice the rind and add it to a salad
  4. Mince and add preserved lemon and pine nuts to quinoa to boost flavor
  5. Add to roasted beets
  6. Make a preserved lemon vinaigrette
  7. Great addition to sautéed kale
  8. Mix with roasted cauliflower and chickpeas to make a delicious side dish
  9. Preserved lemon butter on top of grilled artichokes
  10. Mix with fresh shaved parmesan and sprinkle on top of roasted brussel sprouts

 

Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

Don’t just think of this as a dip! It makes a great sauce on top of chicken or roasted veggies like cauliflower. It also makes a great veggie sandwich spread.

I love this dip not just for it’s versatility, but because of how nutrient dense it is. It’s full of vital, sustaining ingredients that will make you feel nourished and satisfied.

As a snack I suggest serving this dip with your favorite veggies for the most health benefits, it’s also great with gluten free bread or crackers.

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Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip

yield: 3 cups

½ cup roasted walnuts, chopped

¼ cup roasted pine nuts

3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded

4 small garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 tbs pomegranate molasses

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tsp fresh ground cumin, toasted in a dry skillet

1 tsp aleppo pepper

½  cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor combine the roasted peppers, nuts, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, aleppo and cumin. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor a couple of times. Add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, blend until combined.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with veggies or gluten free bread/crackers. If you’re not consuming it immediately, it will hold in the refrigerator for about a week.

(Substitute ⅓ tsp cayenne and ⅔ tsp paprika for aleppo if needed.)

(Pomegranate molasses can be purchased, but I usually just reduce pom juice down to a syrup consistency.)

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The Muscle Relaxer

Pineapple Core = Bromelain

Bromelain = Natural Muscle Relaxer (highly recommended post-surgery)

As you know, the pineapple core is really fibrous and chewy. Not so great for a snack, but it blends up really well in a smoothie. Whenever I snack on a pineapple I always save my cores by just throwing them in a baggie to store in the freezer.

Other benefits of this smoothie include:

  1. Almonds deliver some much needed protein to balance out all that fruit sugar and give us the energy we need to kick this day in the behind.
  2. Hemp seeds supply us with a healthy dose of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are essential for proper cardiovascular health. 90% of women have a risk factor for cardiovascular disease or stroke. Being proactive helps!!!
  3. Pomegranate juice is going to deliver a one two punch to cardiovascular issues, because it helps increase blood circulation. This is helpful for reducing the risk of heart attacks.
  4. Blueberries are really high in fiber, which is great for managing diabetes. High fiber foods naturally lower cholesterol, also making this even more of a heart friendly treat!
  5. Bananas are rich in potassium. Potassium helps lower blood pressure. That’s good news for your heart as well!

I might have to rename this smoothie something like the Bodyguard or the Heartguard. Seems like calling it the muscle relaxer doesn’t even tell half the story!

Bodyguard/Muscle Relaxer

yield: 1 pint

1/2 banana (just stick the other half in the freezer for tomorrow)

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 tbs slivered almonds

1/4 cup blueberries (frozen)

1/4 cup pineapple core (frozen)

1 tsp hemp seeds

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. I usually blend on high in my vitamix for no less than a minute.