Salmon Fish Tacos

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During the summer months, there’s nothing that I love to eat more than small plates and tiny bites of food. With excessive heat and moments of lethargy from the aforementioned, scarfing down big meals is just not as appealing as it would be during the cooler seasons. No, comfort foods will just have to wait until September!

One of my favorite small plates are fish tacos. There’s a Mexican restaurant in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia called El Camino Real that makes a delicious take on this classic dish. As with many of my old favorite foods, I often am looking for alternative ways to make them a tad bit more healthier or suitable to my dietary needs. Here’s a recipe:

Salmon Fish Tacos

Wild Salmon

1 Cup Brown Rice

½ Cup White Quinoa

Chopped Onions or Leeks

Spinach

2 Brown Rice Tortillas

½ Tsp Coconut Oil

Soy Honey Sauce:

2 Tbsp tamari sauce or Coconut aminos sauce

2 Tbsp Honey

  • First, make the fish taco sauce by blending together the tamari sauce or coconut aminos with the honey (the coconut aminos will make a sweeter sauce overall).
  • In a large pot, or using a rice cooker or pressure cooker, make a brown rice and quinoa blend (perform proper soaking measures ahead of time),
  • In a medium or large pan, sear the salmon in coconut oil on medium-high heat, cooking for about 3-4 minutes on both sides, or until golden brown on the outside and cooked evenly on the inside.

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  • In a separate pan, sauté the onions or leeks for a couple minutes to maintain their crisp. Then, add to your cooked rice and quinoa blend.
  • In a pan, cook your tortillas on both sides for about a minute on medium-high heat until golden brown, but not crunchy. When the tortillas are cooked, using a knife or pizza cutter, divide into sections to make small triangles or “chips.”
  • Divide the cooked salmon into small squares or chunks. On each tortilla, add a few leaves of spinach, a spoonful of the brown rice and quinoa medley, and a couple chunks of salmon. Then, drizzle on each taco the soy honey sauce and serve immediately.

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Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Waffles

gluten-free vegan waffle

I absolutely love waffles! Put them up against pancakes, and for me a waffle will win out any day. I enjoy the airy, buttery nature of pancakes, but am a bigger fan of the crunchy texture of a waffle. Literally, the war of waffles vs. pancakes has been enduring for centuries, but this post is not to provide definitive evidence that waffles are superior!

As with most of my posts, I love to provide a vegan and/or gluten-free alternative to some of my favorite foods. Typically, waffles are made with wheat flour, eggs, milk, and even vegetable oil. All of these ingredients are not particularly damaging, but for some sensitive individuals, they can cause a whirlwind of problems. Today, wheat and dairy are large contributors to a host of inflammatory issues within the human body.

So, here’s my spin on the traditional Belgian waffle using all-natural ingredients sans the gluten, dairy, eggs, or hydrogenated oils.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Waffles: (yields 6-8 waffles)

1 large banana, mashed

1 ½ cups almond milk or other non-dairy milk

½ cup olive oil

1 tbsp organic maple syrup

1 tbsp organic cane sugar

1 cup buckwheat flour

1 cup brown rice flour

4 tsps gluten-free baking powder

¼ tsp sea salt

½ cup chopped or sliced almonds

½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Sliced bananas or strawberries

  • Heat waffle iron.
  • In a large bowl, beat banana, almond milk, olive oil, maple syrup, and sugar.
  • Stir in gluten-free flours, baking powder, and sea salt until ingredients are mixed
  • Mix in nuts and chocolate chips
  • Spray waffle iron with non-stick greasing agent and pour an appropriate amount of batter onto the iron
  • Bake for a few minutes (the waffle iron will have its own indicators for when a waffle is done: less steam, sounds, or even start and stop lights).
  • Add slices of whatever fruit you desire and organic maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or syrup alternative

This was my first attempt at making gluten-free and vegan waffles and I was very impressed with the results. The texture was reminiscent of waffles I had at Ruby’s Diner many, many, many years ago, the first time I fell in love with this delicious breakfast food. Enjoy!

gluten free vegan waffle

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Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

As I type this entry, the weather is in the mid 60’s. Regardless of the abnormally warm conditions for Philadelphia this time of the year, the winter season is upon us! For many, festive events are the hallmark of this period due to its many seasonal holidays. And with this period comes a plethora of goodies and dishes that are so rich and filling, there’s little wonder as to why people start the new year lamenting weight loss goals!

The winter season has always held a special place in my heart (I love the cold!), especially in my past life. Cookies, cakes, brownies, pies, eggnog, hot chocolate; you name it! I loved it all. As seen in my previous entries, I am a huge fanatic of cookies. So, the previous night I decided to fuse my love of this treat and my current dietary needs with the flavor and style of the season!

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: (yields 12-14 cookies)

1 cups brown rice flour

¼ cup buckwheat flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

¾ cup organic cane sugar

¼ cup organic brown sugar

¾ cup coconut oil

½ mashed banana

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsps hot water

1 tsps vanilla

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1 large candy cane (crushed)

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Grease baking sheet with a little coconut oil
  • In a large bowl, cream the cane sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil. Then, stir in vanilla
  • Stir in the mashed banana until all ingredients are evenly mixed
  • Sift the two flours and cocoa powder into the large bowl
  • Add the hot water and baking soda to a small bowl, and stir together.
  • After this is combined, add the mixture and xanthan gum to the large bowl. Mix everything evenly

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  • Add chocolate chips to the large bowl and stir
  • After the chocolate chips are evenly distributed, chill the dough for a few minutes to settle coconut oil.
  • With a large spoon, scoop out the dough, and with your hands form medium-size balls
  • Place these on the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove cookies from oven and sprinkle crushed candy cane over them. Then, let these cool. (I added the candy cane after baking to prevent melting).
Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

I would love to introduce my double chocolate peppermint cookies. These treats are gluten-free and vegan, fusing both cocoa powder and chocolate chips for a decadent, rich flavor. To top it off, I added a seasonal ingredient, crushed candy cane (peppermint would do also).

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookie

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Pesto Spaghetti With Shrimp

Everyone loves a home-cooked meal! Over the last few years, I have had my share of exploration with different recipes, but sometimes you have to go back to the basics! And you cannot get more basic than pasta! Ok, this is not a basic pasta recipe. In fact, I took something simple that I found in a Walgreens health magazine, and tailored it to my liking.

Italian cuisine is not my personal favorite (that’s my mom!), but there’s something amazing about al dente noodles with a tasty tomato sauce, or in this case, olive oil with a perfect pesto! The following recipe definitely took me to a new realm of do-it-yourself foods, this being my first time making a pesto!

For those who are looking for a delicious, easy to prepare dinner, here you go: pesto spaghetti with shrimp!

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Pasta:

2 tsp olive oil

1 lb frozen raw shrimp

1 large zucchini, spiralized

½ lb brown rice spaghetti

Pesto (prepared or fresh)

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  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add frozen shrimp and cook until pink, or cooked through. Remove shrimp and set aside in a large serving bowl.
  • Add another tsp of oil to the pan with spiralized zucchini and cook for a couple minutes (I used a julienne peeler, but there are others that do a better job). Feel free to spiralize some yellow squash, or even carrots for a vibrant splash of fall colors. Remove zucchini and add to shrimp.

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  • Add spaghetti to the same skillet used to cook the shrimp and zucchini and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. Add spaghetti to the large serving bowl with shrimp, zucchini, and now pesto*, tossing the ingredients.

(I used a blend of brown rice and quinoa pasta that I purchased from Trader Joe’s, but brown rice or another gluten-free pasta will do.)

Pesto*:

¼ cup dry basil

½ cup pine nuts

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup almonds

sea salt

pepper

  • In a food processor (or nutribullet in my case), combine all of the ingredients and blend well.

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This pesto is a vegan version of the classic Italian favorite. That means no dairy, so I apologize to all of my cheese lovers out there, but I promise you will not miss it. For a more “cheesy” flavor, you can add about 2-3 tbsps nutritional yeast, an ingredient that is packed with. . . well, nutrients, but also provides vegan dishes an alternative to cheese with its rich, nutty flavor.

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Sweet & Savory Cellophane Noodle Stir-Fry

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Over the last two to three years, cellophane noodles have been a staple in my cooking. Surprisingly enough, prior to my exploration as a self-proclaimed “chef,” these noodles found their way in some of my favorite East Asian dishes! Yes, although they’re not commonly known by their name, cellophane noodles are quite popular in Chinese, Thai, and even Vietnamese cuisine. You may know them best as “glass noodles,” due to their translucent color when cooked.

These noodles in their uncooked form resemble a coiled, white nest. Typically, cellophane noodles are made from various starches, such as mung beans or even sweet potatoes. And something that I was thrilled to learn, is that they are gluten-free. So, for those who are celiac or gluten intolerant, these noodles are perfect if you are tired of the usual rice noodle alternative.

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I love pairing these noodles with fresh vegetables, sesame oil, and tamari sauce and/or coconut aminos. Here’s one of my favorite dishes using the noodles:

Sweet & Savory Cellophane Noodle Stir-Fry

1 pack of cellophane noodles

Leeks (½ a stalk, sliced)

Mushrooms (4, sliced)

Mini Bell peppers (4, chopped)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsp tamari sauce

Coconut aminos sauce

  • In a large bowl of warm water, place 2-3 nests of cellophane noodles and allow these to soak until softened. After softened, drain the noodles and place them in a separate bowl.
  • Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, mushrooms, and bell peppers and cover the pan, cooking for about 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add sea salt, cumin and pepper to the vegetables and stir.
  • Add cellophane noodles to the skillet with 2 tsps sesame oil, and stir for a few minutes, or until noodles have a brown hue. (Prior to adding the noodles, consider cutting the cellophane noodles in half with a knife or cooking scissors. This will allow you to manage them better in the skillet.)
  • Pour tamari sauce over the stir-fry and mix until noodles have absorbed it completely. Serve the cellophane noodle stir-fry with coconut aminos sauce for added rich flavor.

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This recipe is definitely one of my favorites. I have made it countless times, even making a variation as a soup with miso Continue reading

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Delectable Gluten-Free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Who does not love cookies? Whether they are soft, chewy, crunchy, or airy, cookies have warmed the hearts and stomachs of many for an untold amount of years. In terms of a dessert, they are the perfect fit. They are not as overwhelming as a slice of cake or pie, but not as lousy as a handful of candy.

Once again, I’m showing my sweet tooth with this blog post (check out my last entry about gluten-free vegan brownies). But fear not! By the title of this entry, you already know that I am not talking about your grandmother’s famous recipe, unless she’s hip and down with the “trend.” I jest! My take on gluten-free and vegan baking is not a means to play into a marketing scheme as many would like to call it. No, my choice of gluten-free and vegan eating involves sensitivities that I have outlined in previous posts. I’m sharing this recipe for those who have a similar lifestyle as mine, and also desire to eat a sweet or two now and then. No, this is not about losing weight; there’s still sugar in this recipe!

Although I do not condone a lifestyle of excessive sweets and sugar, especially for children, I hope to put a smile on the face of a young child who may have been diagnosed with celiac disease, or someone who is allergic to dairy. So, here’s my very own recipe for gluten-free and vegan chocolate chip cookies!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2 cups brown rice flour

½ cup buckwheat flour

1 ½ cups coconut sugar

½ cup organic brown sugar

1 cup coconut oil

1 mashed banana

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsps hot water

2 tsps vanilla

1 tsp xanthan gum

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 ½ cups brown rice flour

½ cup buckwheat flour

1 ½ cups coconut sugar

½ cup organic brown sugar

1 cup coconut oil

1 mashed banana

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsps hot water

2 tsps vanilla

½ tsp xanthan gum

1 cup vegan chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350° F
  • Grease baking sheet with coconut oil
  • In a large bowl, cream the coconut sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil. Once these items have been mixed, stir in the vanilla

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  • Stir in the mashed banana until all ingredients are evenly mixed
  • Sift the two flours into the large bowl
  • Add the hot water and baking soda to a small bowl, and stir together. After this is combined, add to the large bowl with the xanthan gum. Mix everything evenly
  • Pour the chocolate chips into the large bowl and stir

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  • After the chocolate chips are evenly distributed, with a large spoon, scoop out the dough, and with your hands form medium-size balls
  • Place these on the baking sheet and bake until the cookies are plump and golden brown (if you chose the chewy recipe)

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If you chose the crunchy recipe, your cookies should not rise much, if at all. This variation has less dough, so the oil really makes these bad boys crispy. Be careful to not burn them. They should appear as in the photos below, enjoy!

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I love eating these cookies on a cool winter day, similar to the time I first made them. Grab a glass of your favorite non-dairy milk to top of these delectable treats!

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Gluten-Free Vegan Double Chocolate Brownies

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It’s no secret how big of a sweet tooth I have. From a young age, I always had my hand in a batter of cake, a half-gallon of ice cream, or even a box of cookies. I simply love sweets! The problem is, I have a hard time finding sweets that fit my particular needs.

Due to my food sensitivities, I typically avoid sweets altogether, or go for expensive options that you can find in the organic aisle of your local supermarket. Even then, it’s not as fulfilling as making something of your own. A few years back, I caught a “baking bug” that has only grown since. I love baking cakes, cookies, brownies. . .mmm brownies, among other things. Up until now, I still baked all of my popular recipes for other people, full of gluten, dairy, eggs, etc. But wait, what about me? Why not make something that I can enjoy? Finally, here is my journey with gluten free and vegan baking.

Now, please do not make the mistake of assuming that this recipe is healthy. It’s healthier in some ways, but I’m sure that’s up to debate depending on who you speak to. For those who follow my blog because of my Virgin Diet journey, this is not a recipe for you, and I’ll admit it; there is sugar (coconut). I try my best to limit the amount of sugar I consume, and recipes like these do not fill my stomach too often. This right here is a special treat!

Here are my gluten-free and vegan brownies:

Brownies

1 mashed banana

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 ½ cup vegan chocolate chips

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup coconut oil

½ cup brown rice flour

½ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup almonds (or other tree nut)

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tbsps sunflower seed butter

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Grease baking pan.
  • Sift together coconut sugar, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt in a bowl and mix together.
  • Heat on a low flame one cup of vegan chocolate chips and coconut milk until melted, and then stir in sunflower seed butter and vanilla.
  • Pour melted mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients with coconut oil and mix until evenly combined.
  • Mix in mashed banana and cup of almonds
  • Use a big spoon to spread mixture into the greased pan evenly.
  • Bake batter for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Then, sprinkle ½ cup of chocolate chips over it.
  • Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes and use a toothpick to test if brownies were cooked completely. Once tested, let the brownies cool before serving.

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I absolutely love this brownie recipe. I originally experimented with a recipe that a co-worker brought to my attention. I liked it, but it was a bit too fruity in taste for me; I needed something that had the texture and richness of brownies from my childhood. This refined recipe did just that. I literally ate several batches of brownies before I was satisfied.

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These brownies are not just chocolatey, but are layered to perfection with a nice chocolate drizzle on top and a slight bite of almonds blended in. Unlike some gluten-free brownie recipes I have had in the past, this actually is edible. That being said, I hope you love them as well!

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