Venison Jerky


deer jerky 1
I have a hard time finding jerky that is gluten-free, usually due to the use of soy sauce in many jerky marinade recipes. Finally having some spare time to experiment, I decided to go ahead and try to make my own with the dehydrator I received for Christmas. This recipe can also be done in a low heat oven, but I would highly recommend using a dehydrator, as the results are delicious!

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally believe it is Spring. Thanks Mother Nature for pulling all of those sneaky tricks on us. Warm-cold-rainy-warm-snowy- sunny…let’s have it stay warm! I do not think I have been more ready for summer. Thankfully, there isn’t too much of this semester left! Now for the food.

My friend Kailey and I decided to make some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies the other night, and well let’s just say they didn’t turn out well. It was a bummer because it was the classic case of me trying to prove to one of my gluten-eating friends that gluten-free can taste good. Apparently not. So, I just had to create a recipe for cookies that would make up for it and change her mind. And that is how these babies came to be. I am happy to say that I have successfully changed Kailey’s mind about gluten-free baked goods. Phew, that was a close one.
photo

Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of quinoa flour

½ cup sorghum flour

½ cup oat flour

2/3 cup melted coconut oil

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup coconut sugar*

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup chocolate chips

¼ cup cacao nibs*

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl cream together sugars and coconut oil. Add egg and egg yolk, beat on medium speed for two minutes until light and creamy. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients on medium speed until well incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and cacao nibs. Put dough into refrigerator for 10-15 mins. Roll into 2 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are just barley brown. This will produce a chewy, not crispy cookie. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

** Feel free to skip the coconut sugar if you do not have any by replacing with a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. If you do not have cacao nibs on hand, I recommend getting some, but you can always sub them for additional chocolate chips!

Italian Inspired Lentils

I am now officially in my second semester at Virginia Tech and all of my new classes are underway. All 17 credits of them, that is. Self sabotage? Hopefully not. I’ll keep you updated on that one.

After a much needed winter break, Brice and I headed back to the ‘burg and I just did not feel like cooking so I threw together this recipe that came together very nicely, despite the short list of pantry items. Feel free to substitute any lentil into this recipe, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. Brice and I ate this for a couple of days and then thought it was a perfect freezer candidate, so now we can thaw it whenever we are in a pinch.

 

italian lentils

Italian Inspired Lentils

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

A quick, easy, and inexpensive vegetarian dish that yields a ton of food!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (16 oz.) brown lentils
  • 1 container diced tomatoes- I use Pommi Brand **
  • 1 carton (32 oz.) Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or more to desired spiciness
  • 1 tsp salt (less if using full-salt veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. 1 Wash lentils in a colander and pick over
  2. 2 Add lentils, broth, and tomatoes to a larger pot. Bring to a simmer.
  3. 3 Add spices and stir.
  4. 4 Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!
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I served this with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which was delicious.

**After reading this article I decided to finally make the change from canned tomatoes to Tetra Pak or glass jarred tomatoes. We have all heard for a few years now that BPA is not good for us. You can find it in the linings of cans, plastic water bottles, food storage containers, and the list goes on and on. Well, the acidity in tomatoes reacts with the BPA lining in cans, resulting in higher concentrations of BPA . I have switched to buying my diced tomatoes less often (due to the price difference) and I would like to keep synthetic estrogen that leads to many diseases out of my body, thank you very much! ;)

I heard that Trader Joe’s carries boxed tomatoes, but I have yet to see them…fingers crossed!

Stay warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allergen-Friendly Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Whew. It’s been awhile.

Now that I have successfully moved to Blacksburg  and school has started, I can start to post what kind of food I have been making. It has been interesting getting used to my super small kitchen. I seriously have about 24 inches of free counter space and I make sure to utilize other surfaces (i.e- the top of the washer, window sill, and the floor…just kidding). I do love having the kitchen to “myself”. In my previous living situations I was sharing my kitchens with roommates and this time it’s just Brice and I, and I have volunteered to do the cooking if he helps clean :)

I have been meaning to post more of course, but Organic Chemistry and my 5 other classes take up most of my time. I have become great at plugging my crockpot in and coming home to a fully-cooked meal! Today, I had an SNDA (Student Nutrition and Dietetics Association) Club meeting/”guilty pleasure” potluck and I naturally had to bring something that combined two of my favorite things–pumpkin and coconut.

 

Here’s a simple recipe for a special kind of macaroon that is perfect for fall!

pumpkin macaroons

 

Pumpkin Macaroons

Gluten, egg, dairy, and nut free!

Ingredients

2 cups unsweetened finely-shredded coconut

3 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tbsp coconut flour

pinch of salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup pumpkin puree ( canned or roast and process your own)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips (these make this macaroon free of all common allergens!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper onto cookie sheet (I stacked one on top of the other to stop bottoms of cookies from burning)

Mix shredded coconut, pumpkin pie spice, salt, coconut flour, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add pumpkin puree, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract. Stir to combine. Add in chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon to measure out dome shaped cookies onto cookie sheet. Knock tablespoon on side of bowl to release a cookie in a perfect dome shape! About every 5 cookies I wiped a little coconut oil onto the tablespoon to stop the sticking. Bake in oven for 18-20 mins, or until golden brown.

Let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container, or even better pop ‘em into the fridge and try not to grab one every time you walk by.

This recipe makes about 24 small cookies. I would definitely double the recipe if serving to a group. 

AND here’s proof that going to a football-centric school makes even the non-sport fans excited about football
brice and olivia vt football game

PCOS-Friendly Recipe, Rosemary Flaxseed Crackers

If you would like to skip straight to the recipe scroll down to the bottom where you will find the recipe! Otherwise, enjoy this story. 

I have been putting this post off for way too long now. So I’m just going to get right to it.

I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which is a hereditary condition that affects the regulation of hormones in the body. WebMD describes it as, “a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance…It can make it difficult to get pregnant and cause trouble with periods. If it is not treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes, and heart disease.” I was diagnosed about 6 months ago and it was surprising, but wasn’t at the same time since people in my family do have it. Due to the fact that I was on birth control pretty much since I got my period at 13 because of acne, it masked the symptoms leaving me thinking I got away scot-free. Nope.

Sounds fun, right?

As I sit here writing this, I feel like I should withhold writing about my side effects due to their nature, especially because they have to do with my lady parts ;) BUT I won’t. We are all humans and we all deal with weird shit that we should be able to talk to each other about.

Over the past few years I have taken control of my health, lost 50 pounds, fell in love with the gym, and added new hobbies like hiking, running, and yoga. I started a blog based on eating healthy and feeling great. And then I started to not feel so great. It feels like I woke up one day and went from being the picture of health, to the complete opposite. All of my symptoms began when I decided to stop taking birth control.

Some of my symptoms include, but are not limited to:

-Hair loss. This is especially sad. There is something about having hair and being a woman and when that is taken away, well, it’s just sad and it has gotten much worse since I started to take Metformin. To be transparent, this is what makes me cry on a daily basis, despite the effort I put towards to maintaing a positive attitude.

-Weight Gain. It’s weird. Although I have only gained 5 pounds I have lost a lot of my muscle (due to an injury and back pain…I’ll explain later)

-Nausea. Caused by the wonderful/horrible medication Metformin. When my doctor prescribed this to me, it was like a blow to the gut. “Here is a diabetes medication that will regulate your blood sugar” and I thought, “But I eat SO well! Ok, I admit I eat frozen yogurt about once a week and I can hardly walk by the fridge without grabbing a scoop of nut butter, but the last thing I thought I needed to take any meds for would be diabetes!”

-Mood. As you may know, hormones control just about everything in your body, including mood. I have found that I am not the chipper, happy-go-lucky gal that I usually am.

-Skin. Acne, dry patches, oily patches, ingrown hairs.

-Abnormal Hair Growth on Body. You’d think since people lose their hair when they have PCOS, means that they would also loose body hair. Not the case. I slowly began to notice more hairs growing on my tummy, back, ummm everywhere. Not like I could quit school and take a job in the circus, but enough to be like, um what the heck is this?!

-Periods. I haven’t had one since I went off of birth control, so it has been over a year. Some people who have PCOS either have too many, too little, irregular, or none at all.

-No Babies. I don’t know this for sure, but my doctor has advised me to not get pregnant due to two issues. Getting pregnant on Metformin would not be good for the baby, and if I were to miraculously get pregnant, the chance that I could carry it to full-term would be about 10 percent. It’s not the right time in my life to get pregnant now, so I don’t have to worry about this aspect quite yet,but getting the news of this was devastating. I am a nanny and have been a babysitter to my dolls and then when I was old enough I watched every kid in the neighborhood. I am one of those girls who say, “I have been put on this earth to have kids and to be a Mom.” Thankfully, there are alternative methods to help in getting pregnant and there’s always adoption. Still, it does not make getting the news any easier.

My days are filled with going to one doctors appointment to another and I am getting to know my doctors better than I have ever wanted BUT I am trying to stay positive. Either I could cry every once in awhile or I could cry and be upset all the time. I chose happiness.

I guess I was waiting to write this post until I had an end result or some great changes or maybe a solution. I have none of those things yet. What I do know is that this experience has taught me many important things. Yes, that sounds cliche except it’s true. My guilt about not going to gym or not being as active as I used to be has been removed completely. I have had chronic shin and back pain for almost a year now and after x-rays, MRIs, massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy, it still persists. Where does one turn when they feel like they have explored all avenues? Are the “injuries” related to PCOS? My back pain is close to the ovaries and the acupuncturist says that the area on my shin where the pain is located is a pancreas pathway.

I want me back. I want my love for life back. I want to feel strong. I know my situation could always be worse, I’m sure some of you are thinking, “This girl needs to turn her attitude towards abundance, instead of scarcity.” I do that as much as possible. The bottom line is: This has been the most humbling experience of my short life so far, and I know I am not alone in this whole experience.

 

Mark my words: One day I will be able to help people who are struggling with this, because I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. 

 

and I won’t have to take this every morning…

PCOS Pills

 

Since I am trying to avoid foods that spike my blood sugar, here is a recipe that is low in carbohydrates and it is also easy on the wallet.

Rosemary Flax Crackers 2

Rosemary Flax Crackers

  • 1 cup whole Flax seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • a few cranks of the Himalayan salt grinder
  • 1/2 cups fresh herbs chopped small (I used a combo of basil, rosemary (dried), parsley, and chives)

1.Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Combine flaxseeds and water, let sit for one hour.

3. Add ACV, salt, and herbs. Mix.

4. Prepare large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

5. Spread flaxseeds onto paper using wet hands, until it is as thin as you can get it. Score dough with a knife (this will make breaking them apart once they are done soo much easier!)

6. Bake in oven for 1 hour, flip, then bake another hour, or until it is not soft to the touch.

7. Let cool completely, then break apart. Store in an air tight container.

Rosemary Flax Crackers1

 

Thanks for listening :)

Cleansing and Mending

I won’t go into the reasons why I haven’t posted in awhile, but they are good ones, I promise. I blame school and it is doing a nice job of filling up my time, which leaves little to no time to write blog posts! On a happy note,my hard work has paid off and I have been accepted into Virginia Tech for this coming fall! I am so stoked and equally scared at the same time. It’s a bummer to have to move and leave all the things I have come to love in Charlottesville, but Blacksburg, Va here I come.

On a completely separate topic, I have been thinking about doing another 3-day juice cleanse mainly because I have been feeling bloated and have put on some weight. I’m going to wait until after finals to do it since I like to pair it with lots of yoga and meditation, and well school is the complete opposite.

Although I eat healthy and exercise about 3 times a week, the injury to my left shin is still bothering me, even after 4 months. After countless doctor appointments, x-rays,and  MRIs, I am finally doing physical therapy and hopefully it will do the trick. So since I have been injured for over 4 months now, that means 4+months of no running/ any kind activity that involves repetitive pounding of my feet. I have to say it has been an extremely humbling experience. I used to think that if I missed one day of working out I’d be doomed forever. Rest is good, and now I am ready to get back to it, especially since it’s hiking season!!!

On Saturday I was feeling snacky (real word? Probably not but I’m using it anyway :) ) so instead of eating an entire bag of tortilla chips (I have been craving these recently), I made a green juice. This is not a “normal” green juice recipe since I was trying to use the last of my veggies. Let me know what you think!

Green Juice

Don’t mind the A&P flashcards and dirty desk in the background ;)

The Greenest of Green Juices

A great juice to make when you need a boost of caffeine-free energy. Also a great way to use up those veggies in your fridge!

Makes: 4 cups

3 Large collard green leaves, stalks and all

2 Broccoli stems, cut into 1″ rounds

1 Head of celery

1 Large unpeeled cucumber, cut into about 4 pieces

1 Large apple, cut into 4 pieces (do not remove core or seeds)

1 Inch piece of ginger

1 Large orange, peel removed

Instructions:

Prepare all ingredients and run through juicer. At the end squeeze bag full of juice pulp to make sure all the juice has been extracted. I use a mesh paint strainer bag that I bought at the hardware store for under $1 and it works great!

Until next time…

Balancing Act

As you can probably tell, I have not been posting very often lately. I won’t go into all of the details, but working two jobs and going to school full-time might have a little something to do with it ;) Today, I decided to leave one of my jobs so that I can focus more on my studying and my sanity! I would also MUCH rather be experimenting with recipes, writing blog posts, or finding gluten free dishes to try at local restaurants. Believe me. That will happen in the future and in the meantime I will post as frequently as possible. I read many blogs per day and I am in awe of the bloggers who not only have a full-time job, they also have a family AND they write a blog post every day. Impressive!

 

Onto the food. I am totally, absolutely obsessed with all things basil. I just can’t get enough, so when I saw the large container of organic basil at Trader Joe’s today, I knew I needed to make something with it, not knowing exactly what until I got home. Pestooooo!  Turns out there was no parmesan in the fridge and no pine nuts in the pantry (too expensive!), so I got creative. This recipe will most likely be added to my weekly rotation of meals.

 

{Vegan} Cashew Pesto

Cashew Pesto

 

Cashew Pesto 2

 

 

 
 
Cashew Pesto
Print
Cuisine: Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Yeast-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Egg-Free deliciousness. Serve on toast, over pasta, or on a sandwich for a flavorful addition to any meal!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (Or less for thicker pesto)
  • ¾ cup raw, unsalted cashews
Instructions
  1. Add basil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic cloves, salt, and cashews to a food processor or high-speed blender.
  2. Process until chopped.
  3. With blade running, add olive oil until desired consistency.
 

 

Feel free to replace the cashews for other nuts or to add parmesan cheese for a more traditional pesto.

 

Time for a nap!

 

 

 

Snow (Rainy) Day Carrot Ginger Soup

After hearing the word “snow” on the news, I immediately started doing an imaginary little jig. I have been the most snow-deprived this year than I have ever been, so after hearing the weatherman calling for 6-8″ of snow, thoughts of hot chocolate, soup, and movies took over. This may be due to the fact that I purchased my first pair of skis and boots, or that I just got back from skiing at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia, however I’m itching to get back out on a mountain.

Snow has always brought about feelings of comfort, some of my best memories coming from snow storms and rigorous days of sledding. Since this is a blog about food I will share a recipe that will warm anyone up from the frigid temperatures outside (please get colder outside so this rain can turn into snow!!)

Anyone remember that Campbell’s soup commercial that ran during the winter months when a snowman melted into a child after eating chicken noodle soup? Loved that one. Ok here’s the recipe:

Easy Carrot Ginger Soup

  • 8 large carrots cut in thirds and then in half (or however you like in order to steam evenly)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups veggie or chicken broth or more, if needed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Cut carrots and steam for 5-7 mins, or until tender. In a separate pan heat coconut oil, add onions and garlic. Cook until slighly brown and translucent. Measure broth in high speed blender (I used a Vita-mix, but food processors and other blenders will work), add carrots and onion mixture. Start off at a slow speed and gradually increase. Add spices and ginger, run until smooth. I served this with a dollop of greek yogurt, which was divine!

 

Ok, back to filling out college transfer applications and studying! :)

 

Tuscan Bean and Kale Soup

Well since it seems as if we completely skipped Fall and went straight into winter here in Virginia, I deemed it necessary to make a big ol’ pot of warm-you-from-the-inside-out soup. I knew it had to include kale because of this MASSIVE bunch I found at our local farmer’s market.

It takes up half of my fridge.

Ok, now for the recipe. I had to improvise a little since I only had 1 can of chickpeas and 1 can of cannellini beans, yet it turned out delicious! (My apologies for the horrific photo…it was a very dreary day so natural light photography was out of the question)

Tuscan Bean and Kale Soup

4-6 servings

5 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Whole medium onion, chopped,

2 Cans of cannellini beans (I used one can cannellini + 1 can of chickpeas since that’s all I had)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 Cup tomato sauce

1 Large 28oz. can diced tomatoes

6 Cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

1 Bunch of kale

Handful of fresh sage, basil, oregano, and parsley (or 1 tsp of dried, each)

Instructions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato sauce and chili flakes and cook for an additional minute.

Add canned tomatoes and herbs. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Pour in chicken stock. Stir and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste

Rinse kale and tear into bite-size pieces. Add to the pot and allow to simmer and additional 5 minutes. Add any additional seasonings.

Enjoy!

 

I hope everyone is safe after Hurricane Sandy. The wind is still a blowin’ here in central Virginia, but nothing in comparison to up north. Warm (soup) thoughts to everyone.

 

 

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Granola

Whenever I have the excuse to use pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. I do. It may be one of the main reasons why I love Fall. The leaves changing colors and the crisp, cool air isn’t so bad either :)

I went to the grocery store and promptly bought 6 cans of pumpkin. If you are a fellow pumpkin lover, then you remember a couple of winters ago when there was a pumpkin SHORTAGE! I don’t want to take any chances. I am also a Chai lover and If you knew me in high school, then you know I had an addiction to Starbucks’ Chai Tea Lattes. That’s how this recipe came to be.

So, instead of tending to some important homework, I made this:

Pumpkin Chai Spiced Granola

1/3 cup (canned) pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

3 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats

1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

1/3 cups raisins

1/3 cup sliced almonds

pinch of salt

1 tbsp or more of chai spice* see recipe below

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300°F, making sure rack is positioned in the middle
  • Combine pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut oil, chai spice, and salt
  • Combine oats, sunflower seeds, and almonds
  • Mix together wet and dry ingredients
  • Spread mixture in a single layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 40-45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes **Watch it towards the end to make sure it doesn’t burn!
  • Once the granola is cool, add raisins
  • Store in an airtight container

 

Homemade Chai Spice     

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1tbsp ground cloves

1tbsp ground cardamom

1/2 tbsp ground coriander

1/2 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp groung white pepper

pinch of salt

  • Combine all ingredients and shake! Store in an airtight container. Use in any recipe that calls for fall flavor.
All this talk of Chai brings me back to the short couple of years I spent at Hebrew school.  Whenever I read ‘Chai’ on a package, I laugh a little. It’s sort of fitting, really. Chai in Hebrew means life and my life wouldn’t be complete with Chai!
I think pistachio chai muffins will be my next chai adventure…