The Blissful Blueberry

a journey into mindful living and wellness

Month: November 2014

Slow-cooker Cocoa & Carrot Chili

 

Slowcooker Cocoa and Carrot Chili

The snow is falling fiercely today. The day before Thanksgiving–apparently Mother Nature wants to make sure everything looks festive for us! 😛 Looking out my window I can see no more grass. Luckily, I had this one garden project to finish this morning, which I did, just before the snow started falling. (I’m attempting a garden compost project I pinned on Pinterest forever ago.)

Snow bird

In spirit of this cold snap here in lovely Herkimer, I decided to make some chili. I had discovered a recipe in Practical Paleo that I wanted to make, but it needed some serious modifications to account for my budget, items in my fridge, and my low-FODMAP needs. But, it was a solid foundation. Not even the title will be recognizable though!

Thankfully, I am a traitor vegetarian because low-FODMAP calls for no beans. I lived on beans as a vegetarian; now, frozen chicken. Slightly more expensive. But less damaging gut-wise for sure. This recipe omits the beans and adds in plenty of veggies and lean meat to keep the health benefits high.

Ground-beef-for-the-chili

In the original recipe, it called for bison. I’m not sure even where to buy bison, but I wanted to keep it red meat, so I went with lean ground beef. I decided to keep it clumpy so it could turn out like little meat chunks when it was done. Mmm…meat chunks.

Carrots-for-health!

My carrots were starting to go a little south in the fridge, so I knew I needed to use them up quickly. The original recipe called for butternut squash and onions (high-FODMAP), so in went carrots, trusty ol’ spinach, and red pepper (hiding under the spinach).

Spice-blend-prep

Boy, do I love making spice mixes. I’ll sniff and sniff and sniff until I feel a little dizzy. So pretty. So fun. This was a mix of smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin (original called for chipotle powder [didn’t have it]), cinnamon, cocoa powder, sea salt and pepper. The original also called for garlic (high-FODMAP), so I omitted it. But, as most people love garlic, if you have it, add it (3 smashed cloves).

All of this lovely spice was added to a big can of crushed tomatoes. The original called for diced, but I was all out. That seems like it might hold up better in a slowcooker, but I really enjoyed the texture of mine, so go with what’s in your cupboard. In 6 hours, I’m sure it all looks like crushed tomatoes.

Pre-cooked-cocoa-chili

Plop it all into the slowcooker. And set it and forget it–or whatever that infomercial says! 😛 While it cooked, I tossed the frisbee with the dog, watched the kitties try to jump off of things, and watched the news. And probably a lot of other things because I let it go for 6 hours–although if doing ground beef (instead of cubed meat) and crushed tomatoes, you could probably do less time. I just got antsy to get it going.

Cocoa-Chili

Voila! Delicious and smoky (with a bit of heat) chili. My husband said it’s his favorite chili I’ve made so far. High compliments! Flourish with a cinnamon stick for prettiness and tortilla chips for crunch.

And to melt your heart with your mouth: here’s a kitty mouth! And kitty cuddle!

kitty-mouth

Kitties at rest-ish.

Slow Cooker Cocoa and Carrot Chili
Serves 4
A bean-free healthy, smoky, spicy chili that can't be beat!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbs smoked paprika
  2. 2 tbs chili powder
  3. 1 tbs cumin powder
  4. 1 tbs cinnamon
  5. 1 tbs cocoa powder
  6. 1 1/2 tbs sea salt
  7. 2 tsp black pepper
  8. 28 oz. crushed tomatoes (or cubed or fresh [4 cups])
  9. 1 1lb. lean ground beef (or bison)
  10. 1 small package baby carrots (or 4 large, cut into smaller pieces)
  11. 2 cups spinach (instead of carrots and spinach, try sweet potatoes, zucchini--or anything yummy)
  12. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  13. Crushed tortilla chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix all of the spices.
  2. After mixed, add in the tomatoes.
  3. Place the beef and vegetables in the slowcooker, and cover with the tomato mixture.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  5. Serve with crushed tortilla chips.
Adapted from Practical Paleo
Adapted from Practical Paleo
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

Sweet Potato Mania: Sweet Potato & Blue Cheese Frittata

Sweet Potato and Blue Cheese Frittata

The sweet potato-ness continues! Mostly because I had some leftover potatoes from the salmon recipe. :) Also, I needed a recipe that I could make rather quickly–as we have a new addition to the household…

Hobo takes a whiff of the rescued kitties

We found these two crying under our neighbor’s shed that backs into our yard. One had come out and was crying loudly enough for us to hear as we were out playing with the pup. My husband was about to take off for an overnight work trip, so it all happened very quickly. His ride shows up, I grab kitties, he puts them in a tote, and off he goes. With me, the kitties, and the puppy staring off into a long day.

I had no idea what to do with them so I started calling local shelters and posting the dilemma on Facebook. Apparently, Central New York is in a “Kitten Crisis,” so every place was too full to take them and Animal Control told me right up front that they would have to “get rid of them.” :( Oh, no. I will not take part in that.

Kitten formula

I realized I would quickly need to help them survive  on my own, then, and went to the store and picked up replacment milk for them and a mini bottle. Freakin’ cute.

Hobo isn't sure what to do other than  run

Armed with a heating pad, some old blankets, and the faux-mother’s milk, I followed the directions carefully and went about practicing for motherhood. Exhausted, but amused. The puppy isn’t quite sure what to make of them still–although he does enjoy licking the spilled milk off of them. Great! Replacement mothering! He does seem to want to paw at them and knock them over though–gently, he knocks them over gently…just to see what happens. I watch him like a hawk.

So, yeah. That happened and when the husband came home the next night, I needed a quick way to feed the hard-working boy. Hence, this quick frittata.

After reading the book, The Complete Low-FODMAP Diet: A Revolutionary Plan for Managing IBS and Other Digestive Disorders, by Shepherd and Gibson, and, after doing some preliminary research, I decided that this could be the answer to my stomach and skin issues. Fingers crossed! Another reassuring part? Beer and cheese came back on the table. Phew! Yes! Score! Woot woot! Goodbye gluten- and dairy-free diet, and hello gluten-free (except beer) and lactose-free life! Low-FODMAP living, here I come! I think the most difficult part will be no onions, garlic or avocados. Eep. They’re my favorites. And they’re in everything.

Hobo watches over the kitties

With the dog acting as kitten guardian, I went to work on this delicious and easy meal from Shepherd’s book. It’s the first recipe in the casserole section. Oh, how I missed casseroles. Gooey, yummy squishiness of heaven.

Start off with the delicious mix of eggs and cheese

About halfway through prepping the meal, I had to check on the kitties to make sure Hobo hadn’t tipped over the tote and devoured them. Safe. And he was sleeping by the side of the tote. Adorable! Also, odd. He usually stays near my feet as I cook in case he can catch some drippings. :)

I added more spinach than the recipe called for

Difficult to mix spinach.

So obsessed with sweet potatoes

Too much spinach?

I don’t think it has too much spinach but, goodness, me! I can’t even see the rest of the meal in there. :) If I didn’t need to cook the sweet potatoes first, I think I would have liked to cook down the spinach just a tad to get it wilted and less offensively overtaking the meal. But, less cooking means more nutrients!

Sweet Potato & Blue Cheese Frittata

With just a little wiggle check. It was ready for consumption! I missed cheese. Now, I want nothing but cheese. And blue cheese offers the perfect amount of sassiness in a meal.

I will definitely make this again. It’s a sure winner. Fast and easy. I might even play around with the ingredients. Sweet peppers instead of sweet potatoes. Sharp local cheddar instead of blue cheese. Kale from the garden instead of spinach. We always have plenty of eggs in the house because I have two sources of farm eggs at work. The bright-yellow yolk and extra thick shells are unbeatable in local farm eggs. Makes you think you are being extra healthy–and I love supporting the local community.

My husband might have said he really loved this, or he might have asked how the kitties were doing, or we might have devolved into Jeopardy watching. Not sure. I just know I love it. I hope you will, too!

Sweet potato, spinach and blue cheese frittata

Sweet Potato & Blue Cheese Frittata
Serves 4
A quick and easy meal that is great for any time of the day.
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil (or fat of your own preference)
  2. 2 small sweet potatoes, diced
  3. 2 overflowing cups of baby spinach leaves
  4. 1 cup lower fat crumbly blue cheese
  5. 8 eggs
  6. coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a 7-inch skillet (needs to be ovenproof!) over medium heat. Add the diced sweet potatoes and cook for approximately ten minutes, or until tender.
  3. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl. Add the spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour into the pan with the sweet potatoes and bake for 20 minutes (or until the center firms up--give it a wiggle test).
  5. Remove from the oven. Let it stand a few minutes while preparing plates and drinks. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from The Complete Low-FODAMP Diet by Shepherd and Gibson
Adapted from The Complete Low-FODAMP Diet by Shepherd and Gibson
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

Lemon Rosemary Salmon and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Broiled Salmon Recipe

I hate the cold. But I do like comfort food and I’ve started craving mashed potatoes lately, so I thought I would whip something up. I always have various recipes lying around whose ingredients I actually have on hand, so I rifled through the pile and saw: Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots. Couldn’t wait! I had ripped out a page from Cooking Light magazine’s November 2014 edition. (Original recipe found here.)

Now, what to pair with it? Rifle, rifle, rifle. Lemon Rosemary Broiled Salmon! This one is from the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. (Book found here. Online recipe found here.) 

Now, both of these items don’t actually take all that much time to cook, so I waited until my husband gave the “I’m coming!” text to start the heat, but the prep work I did before.Sugary onions. Yum!

I heated 4 teaspoons oil (I used coconut, but the original recipe called for EVOO.) in a medium skillet over low heat. Then I added in one whole onion (You can use a different vegetable for low-FODMAP–try red peppers!) sliced into little slivers. (The original recipe called for shallots, but I didn’t have those on hand–too fancy.) I cooked the onions for about 10 minutes, stirring whenever I stopped looking at my phone. Grabbed a heaping teaspoon (1 1/2-ish) of brown sugar and tossed it in, cooking and stirring for about 15 minutes. Once done, I put them in a bowl and let them wait, too, until I was ready for those delicious suckers. Sweet potatoes looking beautiful in a blue bowl.

The sweet potatoes were tackled while working on the onions. I peeled and diced two large sweet potatoes.(Recipe calls for 1 1/3 pounds but I hate weighing.) I put them in a medium saucepan covered with a bit of water in the bottom and let them wait on the stove until I was ready. 
Prepped salmon with butter, lemons and rosemary salt

Then, I prepped the salmon. I used frozen salmon (Isn’t it all frozen first anyway?), so I thawed it quickly in some warm water in a bowl in the sink. Snipped off the little packages, patted dry, and placed them on a plate. I took my Pampered Chef stoneware casserole dish out and added some coconut oil to the bottom to coat it (approximately 2 tbs.). I put the salmon down and little pats of vegan butter on top of them with lemon half slices.

How to dry herbs in style.I then sprinkled on rosemary salt (rosemary from the garden I had hanging under a skull in the kitchen and coarse sea salt). I didn’t measure–just sprinkled some in a bowl and stirred. Use your judgment for how much salt you want. Plenty of rosemary allowed though! Ready to pop under the broiler!

I just let that sit to the side and waited for the text message from the hubby. Ran outside with the pup for a few minutes and then back in. Text arrived!

Now for the finishing parts. I brought the potatoes to a boil; cooked them 6 minutes longer (or until tender depending on how small you cut them). Drained in a colander and placed them back in the original pot with the lid on.

I turned the broiler to low (or “lo” as the oven says. :) ) and popped the salmon in. I turned the light on in the oven, so I could peak in on occasion, but I set the timer for 10 minutes. 

I grabbed two plates, two cups, silverware and napkins. Filled the water glasses with lemon-infused water and set the table. (I lie. I set up tray tables and turned on Jeopardy.) Yummy mashed sweet potatoes with rosemary and sea salt (and caramelized onions).

Back to the sweet potatoes! I plopped in the onions, some rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, and a dib dab of olive oil. Then I used my emulsion blender to make them all nice and creamy. I put the lid back on the pot and waited. If your timing is a bit off,  you can turn the burner on simmer and stir before serving. Rosemary and lemon broiled salmon

Husband walked in! Oven timer went off! Puppy excited! I pulled the salmon out, gave my husband a chance to settle down, and then I plated the meal.  I try to put a bed of greens underneath most meals so that I don’t feel like I’m forcing a salad down, but I eat a lot of the greens with mouthfuls of delicious food. Lemon and rosemary roasted salmonSpinach under everything!

He said the sweet potatoes are totally going in the make-again book. :) He said they were surprisingly savory. Oh! I thought the salmon was great, too, with just the right amount of lemon and rosemary. Next time, maybe I’ll get fancy and use thicker pieces–they happen to not dry out as easily. But…frugality wins!

So great! Super easy and delicious. And don’t forget healthy! :)           Lemon and rosemary broiled salmon with mashed sweet potatoes 

 

 

Lemon Rosemary Broiled Salmon with Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 3
A delicious low-calorie Paleo dinner.
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Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
For the mashed sweet potatoes
  1. 5 1/2 teaspoons coconut oil
  2. 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions (1 small--or omit if low-FODMAP)
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  4. 1 1/3 pounds sweet potatoes (or 2 large), peeled and diced
  5. 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  6. 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the salmon
  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  2. 1 pound salmon
  3. 1 lemon
  4. 1 heaping teaspoon rosemary salt
For the mashed sweet potatoes
  1. Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add onions to pan, cooking 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with sugar, cook for 15 minutes more until golden, stirring occasionally.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes back into pot; mix with an emulsion blender until creamy. Add remaining ingredients; mix again. Top with the onions and a drizzle of the remaining oil.
For the salmon
  1. Preheat oven to a low broil setting.
  2. Spread coconut oil over the bottom of a baking dish. Place salmon in the dish and sprinkle with rosemary salt. Add pats of butter and slices of lemon.
  3. Broil on low for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the salmon is cooked to your liking.
Adapted from from Practical Paleo and Cooking Light
Adapted from from Practical Paleo and Cooking Light
The Blissful Blueberry http://blissfulblueberry.com/

 

Living Locally: Spotlight on Little Falls Historic Canal Place

Historical marker at the Little Falls Canal area

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Little Falls, New York, these days. Some of it has to do with the yoga studio I frequent (Yoga and Wellness) but the majority of it is shopping related. :)

photo 3 (13)The shops at Historic Canal Place are quirky little nuggets. Shocking for a bedroom-only community, it’s becoming quite the hippie mecca with antique shops, all-natural health and cleaning products, handmade everything, and a neighborhood co-op only a couple blocks away. I could spend many posts writing about this quaint little town, but we will save others for later…one about yoga and alpaca perhaps. 

The Stone Mill of Little Falls is certainly a local gem with its ginormous two-level antique and specialty shops. It has Ole Sal’s Cafe & Creamery–which I can’t have because of my dairy-free-ness but it looks yummy. I can have their flavored coffee, though, so don’t feel too bad for me. They have a local bookshop and friendly, knowledgeable staff. I go here for my furniture needs because buying things new is so basic. Our dining room table, coffee table trunk, and various crafty items have come from here. More to follow for sure. photo 4 (5)

One of my favorite spots is the Mustard Seed (partly because I love the design of all the products) and because it’s soooooooo good for the gift-giving season. I sometimes wait to  buy their products until the craft fair (this coming weekend!) at Herkimer College because they have excellent deals. I know someone who would love those soaps…Parks & Rec Beer Soap and Cranberry Bog Body Bar. Smell great!

I walk around the Mustard Seed smelling and feeling every bottle. I’m not sure why I think they’ll change from the last time, but I do it nonetheless. I swear the smells change a tad. My favorite one of the week changes depending on mood and weather. That’s why I want to purchase them all; you never know what one will lift your spirit when you wake up that day. I wish they had a sink so I could get a “feel” for the texture and moisturizing properties of the different products, too.They would have to kick me out, I think.Lavender Patchouli Body Bar 

After a quick shopping trip, it’s always nice to go for a walk around Moss Island. The squishy ground helps the balls of my feet that are destroyed from teaching in heels.

Which way to go? Cute signs in Historic Canal Place with gorgeous view.If you’re in the area, I highly suggest checking out the antique mall and The Mustard Seed. If you’re on a road trip, stop into the local co-op for some dried figs. :)

Oh, and did I mention the views?