Saturday, September 20, 2014

Planning a Weekend Cook-Up

Eating clean, healthy food has always been a priority for us. I love to cook, so that's not ever been the challenge, however, time often has been! For the past several years, my goal has always been to prep like crazy on Sundays in order to make the week easier. Well, that's great if we don't have anything else going on, but the stress sneaks in when there are a million other errands on the list, or we just want to spend the afternoon with friends or be out and about.
This school year I decided to have a different approach. I wanted to do just as much prep- but less often. My goal is to only prep cook every 3-4 weeks, on a weekend when we don't have much else going on. I definitely cook at other times, so we have fresh meals to supplement, but when there isn't time, I have an arsenal of options in the freezer! I've done 3 cook ups so far, and I really think I'm onto something. 


Here's what happened this weekend:

Breakfast

English Eggy Muffins

6 English Muffins, split; I've used Food for Life Gluten Free and Glutino muffins- both were awesome, so just use whatever you like best.
6 eggs whisked with salt, pepper, and a splash of milk 
2 cups of vegetables, pre-cooked; I'm liking kale and broccoli these days... but whatever you're in the mood for or have on hand will work
2 cups of pre-cooked meat; I used ham that I cooked up with an onion
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese- whatever you want to use is awesome

Have everything ready for assembly.
Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Dip each muffin half in the eggy mixture giving it time to soak everything in.  Lay them out on the cookie try, then top with veg, meat, and cheese.  Bake at 400 for 15 min or until the egg is set and they are lightly browning.  Remove right away to a plate for cooling.  Once they are cool, wrap each individually, put into a zip lock bag, and freeze! I keep plates at work and microwave them for a minute. 

Ready for the freezer!

Lunch

I bought a 1.5 pound antibiotic and nitrite free ham nugget (I'm not sure why, but the word nugget always makes me giggle) at Whole Foods to use for the breakfast muffins.  They sell them where they have pre-cooked packaged sausages.  After cutting up what I needed for the muffins, I cut up a second batch diced for a future recipe, then cut the remainder into slices, which I weighed out in 2oz portions. (17g protein!)  I wrapped each in a little foil and then placed them all in a zip lock.  If you get them out the night before, you'll be set to make a sandwich in the morning, or just throw it in your lunch box with a Baby Bell and some crackers.  I've done this same thing with a turkey breast sold in the same section.  Instant lunch!

Wedding Soup

Whole Foods had a sale on grass fed beef for $4.99 (vs. $7.99) so we bought 10lbs.  We used 3 pounds of it to make meatballs.  Two pounds we froze in bags of one pound each, and the 3rd pound we used for wedding soup.  I consulted Giada DeLaurentiis for her Italian expertise, but changed it up a bit to make it my own.

1 pound of meatballs (recipe below) rolled smaller than you would normal meatballs, maybe 1/2- 3/4" in diameter
3/4 pound of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
12 cups chicken stock (3 boxes- buy the case at Costco!)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt, pepper
Pasta, optional (I used about 1/2 cup gluten free Allenini, but next time, I'll just use 1/4 cup)  If you use pasta, use tiny itty bitty pastas.


Bring 12 cups of chicken stock to a boil and add the meatballs, reducing the heat a bit.  Give them about 8-10 minutes to simmer before adding in the spinach and pasta if you are using it.  Once spinach is wilted, whisk the two eggs with the Parmesan cheese and stir into the soup.  Allow to simmer for everything to come together and for the pasta to cook if you are using it.  
This soup is so delicious!  We ate it for dinner that night, saved enough for 2 lunches this coming week, and still had 4 servings to freeze. 

Meatballs

1 large yellow onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated
3 eggs, whisked 
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices of bread, crusts removed, torn into tiny bits
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, some hot pepper flakes if you want... 
3lbs 85% grass fed beef.  You need some fat in meatballs, if you do a leaner beef, I'd sub some out with some pork, or if you use all lean, I'd add in some evoo.  That's my opinion on it anyway.


Giada had an awesome, yet obvious, tip.  Put everything in a bowl except the meat and mix well.  Then, add the beef.  Just mix until fairly well distributed.  I'm always worried about over working the beef when trying to incorporate all other ingredients, but never thought of just mixing everything else first?!?!  
Who knew Date Night could be so productive?
I highly suggest making this amount of meatballs with some help... Make it date night in like we did.  We opened a really nice bottle of wine, put videos on vemo on apple TV and had a blast.  There may have been spontaneous dancing... the best done by my very talented husband with a dish towel on his shoulder... and we might have sung Katy Perry songs a bit too loudly.  I never said you couldn't make food prep weekend super fun... 
Score the beef into 3 fairly even sections and get out plates for each section.  Roll, Roll, Roll each section into the size you'd like.  We did one section small for the soup, and the other two more normal size meatballs for whatever they end up in.  They might end up in wedding soup as good as it is, I'll just have to cook the meatballs longer.  

Place the plates in the freezer for about an hour, or until they are on their way to being frozen.  Remove and place the 1/2 frozen meatballs into separate freezer bags- pre-freezing will keep them from mushing all together.  If they stick to the plate, use a tea towel to help them off.  Get them right back in the freezer after bagging.
OR wake up at 2am remembering you never put them in freezer bags, stumble downstairs, remove from the freezer and give them 5 min so you can GET them off the plates- work quickly- you don't want them to thaw at all- and then bag and go back to bed.  There are options.


Dinner

Both of these meals were inspired by Kirstin at kojo-designs.com.  
I've not executed either of these meals yet, but... I did prepare a former chicken freezer/crockpot meal the following day, and I'm a little nervous.  The chicken breast was so dry!  Ew.  I've slow cooked chicken breast before, and it's been fine- but, never chicken that had been frozen.  I did thaw before cooking and cut back on the low cooking time for that reason, but maybe not enough?  A lunch time chat with some other teachers confirmed that it's not just me having this issue.
My thoughts for future meals is to use high vs. low and to check the chicken as I go, serving as soon as everything is cooked through, hopefully this will keep it from overcooking, which I'm thinking COULD be the issue.
I also may just do what I've done before with freezer meals and thaw, then cook in a casserole vs. slow cooker.
Because, really? Who is only away from their house for 6-8 hours anyway?  I've been slow cooking freezer meals on Sundays in order to keep them from overcooking (or trying...) and then we have them to warm up for the week.  If it's a busy weekend, we'll just have that for dinner that evening too.  If not, they are portioned out for a couple lunches, and the rest in a large container to eat for a couple dinners that week.
I should add that when I have used chicken thighs, they are totally fine and yummy- not dry at all- so there's that too.  Depending on what happens with these two meals, I may just switch to always using thighs.  
One more tip- Our wonderful ESL teacher said she always subs 1/2 cup of OJ or apple juice- depending on the recipe- for a 1/2 cup of whatever liquid chicken or pork recipes call for when cooking.  She said it will help tenderize the meat.  Thanks, Ginny! 
If you have tips, pul-eeze share.  That said... here is exactly what I did and my fingers are crossed that they will be awesome when prepared...

***See updates at bottom of post!  

Peanut-Braised Chicken

In Freezer Bag:
2lbs chicken, cubed
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups carrots, I matchstick cut them, but whatever
2 cups broccoli florets
zest of a lime and the juice
4 garlic cloves, minced

To Cook:
In crock pot:
Whisk together:
2 T tamari (or soy sauce)
2 T brown rice flour (or AP flour)
3 T peanut butter
¾ cup chicken stock

Cook 5-6 hours on low  (I'm going to start checking the chicken for doneness at 3 hours and go from there to try to serve (or remove from cooking) as soon as it's done...)
5 minutes before serving, stir in a can of coconut milk and a bag of frozen peas.  Serve as is, or over rice.




 

  

 

Rosemary Honey Chicken

In Freezer Bag:
1.5 pounds chicken, cubed
cup balsamic vinegar
cup honey
cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t salt
Allow to marinate for several hours before placing in freezer.

To Cook:

Thaw completely before cooking.
In crock pot:
1 cup water and contents of bag
6-8 hours low, 3-4 hours high

Take out some liquid and whisk with a little cornstarch to thicken sauce before serving if it’s too thin.
I'm not sure how I'm going to approach this one... I'll thaw it and decide.  I'm sort of thinking casserole and oven.  I'll decide after thawing if I should add water, but at the moment, I'm thinking no.  Maybe 400 for 30 min or so... until the chicken is 165 degrees.
I imagine serving with roasted or mashed sweet potatoes and something green. 


 

COOK-UP TIPS


Menu planning:  Planning menu items that share ingredients helps a lot when it comes to the grocery bill and to the convenience.  I've done better in the past, but here was my thinking on this weekend:
  • We had spinach and kale chicken salads for 2 dinners this week, so that was an easy way to use up the extra greens from the soup and breakfast.  I used broccoli to prepare breakfast and one dinner, and used extra for green stuff for our lunches this week.
  • Both dinners used chicken breast, so I planned fresh meals this week that would also use chicken.  I bought about 6lbs of chicken breast.  Whole Foods has their chicken at .50 less per pound when you buy family packs.  
  • The ham for breakfast is cheaper when buying the nugget (hee hee) and allows for several more servings for lunches.
Check out what meat is going to be on sale when menu planning.  As soon as I knew I could get grass fed beef so cheaply, it made the meatball decision come quickly- then the wedding soup.  It can help you narrow down what you want to make if you base it on what you can get the best price on.  Expect your grocery bill to be higher on cook up weeks, but know it will be much lower on off weeks! 

When building your crock pot freezer meals, label your zip lock bags w/ the meal and even w cooking directions if you choose.  The date can be helpful too.  What I then do is take a post-it and put it near each bag w/ everything that needs to be in the bag.  It makes it easier when you have a lot of ingredients that overlap because you can do all of the chicken, then the onions, the carrots, and so on.  Make sure to have your kitchen scale nearby as well.   




I hope these recipes and ideas will inspire you to prep ahead so that you and your family can eat healthfully and happily- and most importantly- stress free!  Enjoy!  

Grocery List 

If you would like make the exact cook ahead that I did this weekend, here is your grocery and pantry list all combined!

Protein:
Blackforest Ham Nugget- only 2 cups worth if you don't want to have extra for freezing for lunches
3lbs Grass Fed Beef
3.5lbs Chicken Breast

Dairy:
11 eggs
2 1/4 cups Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheese     

Produce:
1 small bunch Dino kale- I really like Dino kale b/c it's flatter and easier to work with, but regular kale, or red kale... it doesn't matter
2-3 large broccoli florets
2 large yellow onions
3/4 lb fresh spinach
3-4 large carrots
1 small bunch rosemar
1 lime
7 garlic cloves 
1 bunch Italian Parsley 
 
Grocery:
1 pack of 6 English Muffins
13 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup tiny pasta 
1 can coconut milk

Pantry/Refrigerator:
Milk 
3 slices bread
Tamari or soy sauce
3 T peanut butter
3 TBSP flour  
Honey
Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Salt and Pepper 
 
UPDATE:  I have prepared both frozen meals- and I decided against the crock pot in both situations after reading TONS of information about crock pots and chicken breastsA summary from all of my research:  Just don't do it.  Chicken breast simply doesn't have enough connective tissue, so it's going to pretty much always overcook and dry out in the crock pot.  Stick to legs and thighs.  

For the Peanut Braised Chicken:  I defrosted it completely, then dumped the entire thing in a large non-stick saute pan that I'd prepared with a TBSP or so of EVOO.  I prepared the ingredients to add- stock, tamari, peanut butter, and rice flour- then added that to the ingredients.  I covered and allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It looked a little odd, but I was staying positive! 
As soon as the chicken was done, I added 1/2 a can of coconut CREAM- I only had cream on hand- so- if I were to use coconut milk, I think I'd have just used 1/2 of the stock.  After a taste test... a turn or two of tamari in the pan, 2 more TBSP of peanut butter, and 1/3 of a jar of green chile paste.  FOR REAL... this is SUPER good, but it needs some chile paste, or it's just too mild.   
I also added in the peas- about 1/2 bag seemed right to me.  We served it over a little rice and topped it with chopped cashews.  SERIOUSLY, this is so freaking amazingly awesome and good... Scott is already asking when I am making it again!  I've had leftovers once already and it's one of those meals that only gets better.  

For the Honey Rosemary Chicken: I defrosted it completely, then baked it in a casserole on 350 for 30 minutes.  I did not add any additional liquid.  The sauce is delicious.  I still think I cooked it for too long because the chicken was still a little dry.  The chicken in cut into small chunks, so I probably could have pulled back on the time 5-10 minutes.  I would make this again, though.  I do think I would like it better with thighs.  The sauce would just be better with chicken thighs in my opinion.  This would also make preparing in the crock pot an option.  We ate it with roasted sweet potatoes and green beans from the farmer's market.

ENJOY!  

 

 
    
 
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Roast a Chicken, Create Stock, Mash a Rutabaga...

I've wanted to make my own stock for a very long time, even when the only stock I'd have considered making would be veggie.  It's one of those things that seems (is) so easy, but that I just never did. 

I've recently learned that bone broth is a great source of a couple amino acids: proline and glycine.  Apparently, we can make both of them on our own, but it's more efficient if we get them from our diets.  I've always loved really brothy soups, so the thought of sipping my own rich stock as a snack or part of a meal was even more appealing after learning the health benefits of doing so. 

To make chicken stock, I'd need bones and bits.  This meant that my other contemplation of roasting a whole chicken was going to have to happen as well. 

So, first up: Dinner.

Roasted Whole Chicken

I read a lot of recipes for roasting chicken, but they were all pretty fussy.  I decided to keep it simple for my first go-round.  

I bought a 4lb chicken at Whole Foods.  I made my wonderful husband deal with unwrapping it and taking out the envelope of bits.  I put the envelope of bits into a ziplock and into the fridge for their moment the following day.  Next, I asked him to stuff the cavity with a lemon and an onion that I'd quartered, as well as about six garlic cloves.  Next, I brushed a roasting dish with grass-fed butter and once I (he) got the chicken settled, I liberally brushed it with the butter as well.  I followed with a heavy seasoning of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Into the oven- I don't think it could be any easier.
375F for about 80 minutes.  You want to go about 20 minutes per pound, and your meat thermometer should read 165F.  I checked it at 60 minutes, but it needed the full 80.  Make sure you don't hit bone when you take the temperature.  Here's a picture of where you should place the thermometer.

After you have dinner, pick the chicken clean and store the leftovers for soup or chicken salad or for midnight snacks.  This is SO much easier to do when the chicken is warm, so it's worth doing even if you'd rather just put it away and watch a movie.  Leave the carcass in the roasting pan.  Remove the lemons, but you can leave the other aromatics.  Wrap the dish and put in the fridge for the next day.

***Auto-immune friendly if alternate fat was used to brush over chicken.  Bacon fat would be yummy.

Scott did a great job stuffing in all the aromatics!

Golden Brown

When the chicken was about 45 minutes away from being ready, I started the Rutabaga Broccoli mash.  I saw this idea in a cookbook I was perusing at Barnes and Noble, but I cannot remember which one to give credit.  I didn't write down the recipe, so this is what I did with the idea.

Rutabaga Broccoli Mash

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and diced into about 1" cubes
chicken or veggie stock (or water)
1-2 cups of steamed brocolli florets, chopped
(2 small crowns, cut into florets and put in a covered pan with a bit of stock or water and salt.  Cook until tender over medium heat)
1 TBSP half and half (had I had a can of coconut milk already opened, I'd have preferred to use that, but I didn't and didn't want to open one for such a small amount)
1 TBSP ghee (you could use grass-fed butter or coconut oil instead)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 TBSP dried chives
salt and pepper to taste
***Auto-immune friendly if coconut milk and oil are used





Place the diced rutabaga into a small sauce pot and cover with stock or water.  Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender.  Drain and return to pot.  Using a potato masher, mash rutabaga and add in all additional ingredients.  Combine and season to taste.

This turned out so well, totally surpassed my expectations.  This would be good beside any protein, but would also be a hearty addition to a vegetarian plate, or as a base under a lentil dal or bean stew.


Dinner was delicious.  Even more exciting was that I was going to make stock the next day as a result of this awesome meal!

Chicken Stock

I think you could add/omit pretty easily here... I love bay, so I added 3 bay leaves, but if you love thyme, a bunch of thyme would be good too.  And I think any root veggies or squash would work.  I don't think you could do much to mess it up considering you will strain everything out in the end.  

1 chicken carcass and bones
1 envelope of the innards and bits
2 medium carrots, chopped into a few pieces
4 stalks of celery- ideally the leaves from the heart of celery too, chopped into a few pieces
1 medium onion- I had 1/2 of a yellow and 1/2 of a red, so I just used those
5 garlic cloves, or more if you aren't using the ones you roasted with
3 bay leaves
good pinch of salt
Filtered water


Once you get everything into a heavy bottomed dutch oven, (I used a 7qt) cover with the filtered water and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat and simmer for at least 6 hours, uncovering for the last hour.  You can let it go longer if you want.  For like a day or two if you really want to.
When it's done, strain from one pot into another with a mesh strainer.  Discard the bits, or eat some of them as Scott did, and once it's a little cooled, transfer the stock to containers.

The next day, the layer of fat will be easy to remove.

The next day, there will be a layer of fat on top of the stock.  That's totally ok, it's super good for you.  Once it warms it will be perfectly smooth and velvety.  I warmed some up in a small coffee cup to sip one day, and on another I warmed it on the stove and added some of the leftover chicken and a couple tablespoons of tiny tiny circle corn pastas to make a soup. I plan to have a little each day, but it could easily be frozen for your next pot of soup.  I couldn't help but think just how rich a smooth butternut squash soup would be with this as the base... and that could happen because after this weekend, I no longer fear roasting whole chickens or making stock- in fact, I have NO idea why I was ever intimidated because both really require so little from the cook. 




Sunday, January 19, 2014

AIP Rant and Plantain Crackers

Disclaimer:  I really have to tell you- I sorted out a lot writing this post.  This is the crap I've been thinking about constantly for days and days and getting it down has been incredibly therapeutic.  That said... unless you are going through auto-immune issues, you may cry from boredom.  So, if AIP isn't your thing, just scroll down and take note of the incredible crackers I made.  

I'm so type A.  I'm so black or white, this or that.  I've been like this my whole life, and even though it's been many years since I realized this about myself and am able to (mostly) pinpoint when I might be in a negative zone of this personality trait, it still happens.  Like constantly.

My moving toward an Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) diet has been no different.  I was cool being 80/20 there for a bit, but once the new year hit, I thought I was ready for the next big step.  And when I wasn't, it really... I guess it hurt my feelings?  I felt like I was failing myself. 

So, then the stress and anxiety over failing set in.  Of course it did. 

When it comes to auto-immune symptoms, mine are few compared to many.  I battle with anxiety and depression, but have a generally good handle on it.  (Thank you to my gym addiction and to Rhodiola.)  I have the joint pain thing, but keeping nightshades mainly out of my diet and Turmeric supplements in my diet seems to be key.  There's my vitiligo... which thankfully has grown slowly over the past 11 years... and it's not super noticeable with my pale skin.

It does seem I'm starting to deal with more sinus issues... And some mild skin issues have popped up too- dermatitis and even a bout of Rosacea (my trigger seems to be oranges, so I feel lucky there.  Although I love and miss oranges, I'd die if exercise was a trigger like it is for some.)

Nothing is out of control, and this is why I wanted so badly to commit to AIP because I don't want it to get out of control.  Through reading, I am learning that many auto-immune women (where are the men?! I know they exist, but they don't write about it.) were like me- until they had children.  And after giving birth, all hell broke loose.  Interesting because it was only after having me that my mom's vitiligo spread like wild fire, although she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 16.  Giving birth doesn't seem to be in my future, but it doesn't mean I couldn't experience more serious symptoms as I age because aging seems to be bringing additional mild symptoms.   

When I realized I just wasn't ready, I spent a lot of time thinking.  I know I'm willful.  I know I can do things I decide to do, so it was perplexing.  I don't have some great reason as to why I felt like I couldn't do it other than I really love some of the foods that aren't included in AIP.  I love cooking and I love to eat.  I love going to great restaurants and having new food experiences.  I love the social aspect of food.  Whatever reason, thinking of giving foods up was stressful and anxiety causing and that's really SO not the goal.  If eating an AIP diet was going to cause me so much issue, wasn't it sort of counter-productive?  I also found the more I read, the more caught up I got, and it just all ended up increasing my anxiety.  I need to pull back a bit. 

I came to the conclusion that maybe I could just take one more step toward the goal.  Maybe my previous step was too big.  I need to go back to what I said a few posts ago- one habit change at a time, just like I did to lose 100lbs.  It didn't happen all at once.  I just need to back up a bit.

Here is a run down of the AIP no-no's that I am finding issue with and my thoughts for improvement. 

1.  Corn.  I heart popcorn and tortilla chips and corn tortillas... When you are gluten free, you get really close with corn. You kinda know it's wrong, but, you just can't help yourself.  Corn is the bad boy you hate to love. 
Fix- Cut out popcorn as a snack on a regular and put in "treat" category.  Cut down on tortilla chips.  I need to go from having a handful a few times a week to having a handful maybe once a week- and more importantly- be sure to only buy non-GMO.  So long Frito Lay Cantina... you will be greatly missed.  Green Mountain Gringo are really good, though. 

2.  Coffee.  Holy Hell.  I was all on board using coconut creamer and still keeping the coffee for a bit, but cutting down.  Cutting down is going ok... but, eff coconut creamer (see #3).  I can't lie to myself anymore, it's not half and half. Coffee as a morning ritual is also something that's important to me.  Although I love tea and drink it daily, I really love having coffee in the morning. 
Fix- Having one small cup of organic coffee per day with organic grass-fed half and half.  One day a week I get a Starbucks treat.  (Not 3-4 days/week.  That habit is so easy when students love to give Starbucks cards as gifts.) 

3.  Dairy.  Half and half, ranch, and sour cream really, really get me.  And cheese to an extent, but I leave it alone more easily than the other three.
Fix- Organic Grass-fed and limited amounts.  Same with butter.  I still use butter.  My goal is to make my own Mayo and then my own ranch with coconut milk.  That's on the list.  For now, I buy the cleanest ranch I can find and continue to cut it with homemade balsamic vinaigrette on my salads. 

4.  Nuts.  Almonds.  I can more easily give up every single other nut and seed.  Almonds are in a class by themselves.  Larabars, almond milk, almonds on my salads, almond meal and flour in gluten free baking, almond butter... need I go on? 
Fix- I got nothin' on this right now.  Moving on.

5.  Eggs.  I have pulled back from depending on eggs for breakfast.  Overall, I am eating fewer eggs for sure.  I'm skeptical if I really even need to eliminate eggs because eggs make me feel really good when I eat them.  I buy organic, local eggs hatched from free roaming happy hens.  They're fantastic and have almost orange yolks that are delicious.  The downside is that hens, when given the freedom to hatch as they'd like and to do their thing, don't always produce eggs.  This means that sometimes you can't buy them. 

6.  Nightshades.  Not a huge issue.  I've cut back substantially when I made the connection to my joint pain and it's not been that hard.  I seem to be okay with nightshades if I just have a few bites here and there. 
Fix- I've stopped making tomato based food and I don't eat nearly the amount of peppers I used to.  I am not cooking with nightshades at all, other than a tablespoon of tomato paste here or there, and in some seasonings... although I am mindful.  

7.  Alcohol.  I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a drink beside my computer at the moment.  To give myself some credit, it's only because I opened a lovely craft cider (Potter's Sorachi Ace) on Friday, and if I don't finish it, it will go to waste.  It's too expensive (and delicious) to go to waste. 
Fix- As a general rule, I am limiting drinks to twice/week and no more than two drinks each time.  This is an improvement, even if that is hard to believe.  I went 10 days without a drink and I will admit- that was really difficult.  Soda water with some lime or pomegranate juice is helpful though.  For some reason, that really does work if it's a Friday night and I don't want to drink but I feel deserving.  (Why do I feel I DESERVE a drink? hmmmm.) 

8.  Chocolate. So, sad, right?  
Fix-Green and Black's Organic 85% Dark Chocolate... it's always been my favorite, so now it should be my only.

9.  Beans and Legumes.  Not too much of an issue outside of hummus- also hitting a seed here with the tahini made from sesame seeds.  But, I am not missing beans much and haven't had them in some time- outside of hummus. 

10.  Rice.  I love rice chex.  But, I can go without eating cereal pretty easily.  Just once in awhile... once in awhile, I HAVE to have cereal- and not always with milk. I just like to snack on it.  (I could add in gluten free certified oats/granola to the cereal issue too.) I also use rice chex for breading and binding.  Rice crackers are pretty freaking great too. 
Fix- I don't have any ideas when it comes to cereal, but... I can learn about alternate binders and make my own crackers occasionally... which leads to...

Finally- a recipe!  Thanks for sticking with me.  

thepaleomom is a great site.  She's super smart and has great recipes and ideas.  I need to stop reading her articles on auto-immunity right now, but I am glad to know she is there when I am ready.  I may or may not have wanted to strangle her when she said my body could think coffee is gluten, but, she means well. 
These crackers are her recipe and you can find it here.  She also talks at length about plantains in youtube video at the end of the post.  I knew jack about plaintains, so that was helpful for me. 
I've wanted to make these for awhile now, but the plantains I bought initially weren't green enough.  So, then I had to let them sit for a week or so, and then I made her plaintain pancakes once they were super ripe.  Each weekend I would look for green plantains, but they were never green enough.

At Whole Foods yesterday, I finally found GREEN plantains! 



Plantain Crackers

2 large GREEN plantains, peeled (see her video if you are like me and clueless about how to go about this.)  It should produce 2 cups once pureed.  I thought mine looked like 2 cups, but I didn't measure it.  She says give or take 1/4 cup and I really felt good about it.
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp salt (I thought, this is it?  What about some garlic?  Chives?  Something?  Nah.  Doesn't need it.  On. Point.)

Place the peeled plantains cut into chunks, along with the melted coconut oil and salt into a food processer.  You will need to process it for a good 2 minutes, but stop it now and again to scrape the sides.  When its enough, it should look like hummus.  Ironically. 



Line a large cookie sheet with parchment and pour out the batter.  Use a spatula to patiently spread it out to pretty much fill the sheet.  Once you get it pretty good, you really have to have a light hand to spread it the rest of the way.  It's sort of calming. 


You bake it for 10 minutes on 300, then taken it out and score with  pizza cutter. Back in.  She says 50-55 minutes, but also that she's gone up to 70 minutes.  I went a full 70 and then turned my broiler on high for about 3 minutes.  They seemed really oily and I wasn't sure that was ok, but.  They're fine.  I pulled them out and got them onto a cooling rack pretty quickly. 



The cooler they get, the crunchier they are.  Crazy good.  Really, you're going to love them and be super excited. 

Although they are fabulous just on their own, I should probably let you know how well they pair with Cava Mezze Kalamata Hummus...

one step at a time, indeed.