Meatloaf Two Ways

My boyfriend and I are on a new financial mission…we’ve decided to kick our debt to the curb and start saving and investing for our future. What does this have to do with food, you ask? Well, we have a limited grocery budget ($80 per week to be exact) so we must pick and choose our meals wisely. This meatloaf dish was a great way to stretch our grocery budget because it yielded roughly five meals . We bought the meat on sale at Whole Foods Market  (keep an eye out because they frequently have specials and they’re meat is incredible.)

Pasta with Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef (grass fed)

½ lb ground lamb

1 ½ cups gluten free breadcrumbs (I used Glutino brand.)

1 egg

½ cup milk (or your favorite alternative)

1 large green pepper, diced

1 medium-size onions, diced

4 oz button mushrooms, sliced thick

(1) 14 ½ oz can chopped tomatoes

(1) 32 oz jar prepared tomato sauce

Chicken stock, as needed

Butter (or your favorite alternative)

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 package pasta (I used gluten free spaghetti)

Put ground meat in a large bowl and mix with hands, gently pulling apart to incorporate the two varieties. Make a hole in the center of the mixture and add ½ cup breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and add it on top, then pour in milk. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix everything together with your hands. Set aside.

Sauté peppers, onions and sliced mushrooms in a medium sized pot, adding just enough chicken stock to keep from burning. Cook until tender, about five minutes. Add about a third of this to the meatloaf mixture and set the rest aside.

Pour remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs on a plate. Form three small loaves* out of the meatloaf mixture and roll each in the breadcrumbs to coat. Melt about a teaspoon of butter in a large, deep pan and brown meatloaves over medium-high heat for about ten minutes. Flip each loaf with a long spatula to brown the other side, covering with lid both times.

While loaves are browning, add diced tomatoes and ½ of the spaghetti sauce to the pot with the sautéed mushrooms, peppers and onions. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes, then add the mixture to the pan with the meatloaves. Cover pan, turn heat down to low, and let loaves cook through, about 45 minutes to an hour.
10 minutes before meatloaf is done, cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and add the rest of the spaghetti sauce to the noodles to keep them from sticking. Serve with a slice of meatloaf on top. Enjoy!

* Think of the size and shape of a chocolate croissant

 Meatloaf Sandwich_Cropped

 

Meatloaf Sandwich

 

2 slices of your favorite bread

1 slice prepared meatloaf (from above)

Cheese of your choice to taste (optional, or use an alternative cheese)

Fresh tomato, sliced

Avocado (optional*)

*My boyfriend swears by the avocado. I suppose I can’t rag on it because I didn’t try the combination myself, but I can’t help but think that it’s a bit odd. Nevertheless, he loved it, so try if you’d like!

Build sandwich to your liking and toast on a skillet with butter (or your favorite alternative.) Serve hot.

A Healthy Lunch on the Go

This hearty salad is a summer go-to for me. It is so satisfying yet simple and makes a great lunch. As you can see, I pack mine in Tupperware and bring it with me to work. The round yellow vegetable in the background is a lemon cucumber that was picked from our garden. They are very mellow in flavor with a crisp exterior. They are tough to pick because of the thorns, but quite delicious. This is a great alternative to tuna salad (and makes a tasty sandwich too!)

 Salmon Salad_cropped

 

Salmon Salad

1 small can wild caught Alaskan salmon

Mayonnaise, to taste

1 carrot, chopped or grated

1 celery rib, finely chopped

Dried dill, to taste

½ Apple, diced (optional add in)

Pinch sea salt

 

Fresh, organic spinach

Cucumber (my favorites are lemon or Persian)

Tomatoes of your choice

 

White wine vinegar

Olive oil

 

Open can of salmon but do not discard lid. Press the lid  against meat and turn upside down over a sink to release all water. Place salmon into a small bowl and add first six ingredients. Stir to combine and set aside. Rinse and chop tomatoes and cucumbers.

Lay spinach on a plate and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil and white wine vinegar then top with salmon salad, cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. Enjoy!

Gluten, Dairy & Sugar Free Zuchinni Muffins

I love baked goods. There’s something so enjoyable about them. I suppose it could be considered a comfort food of sorts, to me at least because my mother used to bake fresh scones on Sundays. Unfortunately baked goods don’t like me quite as much as I like them. They wreak havoc on my body, which is why I love experimenting with alternative ingredients such as stevia and gluten free flour as in the recipe below. These muffins are so satisfying! They came out immensely moist with just the right touch of sweetness and they are…packed with vegetables? Gotta love that. Not only do I feel good after eating something like this, I know that I can enjoy the types of things I love while nourishing my body. Here’s to our health!

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Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

30 drops stevia

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut water

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cup grated zucchini

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with paper or by greasing it.

Combine gluten free flour, almond meal, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine eggs, coconut oil, coconut water and stevia. Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix sparingly until just combined. Fold in zucchini, raisins and nuts if using.

Fill lined muffin tins with batter. If you have more muffin tin than batter, fill unused holes with water. (This helps the muffins to rise.)

Place on the middle rack of your oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins comes out clean, they’re finished. Let cool slightly and enjoy! Serve with butter or a butter alternative and jam-or simply as they are.

Great for breakfast or snacks-and super easy for on-the-go.

Chocolate Covered Gooseberries!

Have you ever tried a gooseberry? At first glance you might mistake it for a tomatillo, but removing the husk will reveal a small golden nugget. They have a very unique flavor unlike anything I’ve tried before. My boyfriend, who had discovered them in Italy, introduced me to this wonderful fruit. For years he thought he had eaten cherry tomatoes, until one night when he was reading through a gardening magazine. He got this funny look on his face as though a light bulb had just gone off and then came the excitement. “All this time” he said. We mail-ordered the seeds from a special heirloom seed company and to our delight the plants grew easily in our climate. The harvests were abundant, so I decided to surprise him with the delicacy that had prompted the purchase in the first place. They were even more delicious than I had imagined!

Chocolate Dipped Gooseberries

Chocolate Dipped Gooseberries

 

1 pint fresh gooseberries (you can sometimes find them at Whole Foods Market)

¼ lb 70% Valrhona Chocolate (I purchased the discs as opposed to a bar to make the melting process easy.)

 

Line a baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Melt chocolate over a double boiler. While the chocolate is melting, work with the gooseberries by peeling back the husk of each one. Do not remove the husk however, because they make an excellent handle to grab while transporting the tasty morsels into one’s mouth.

One by one, grab the gooseberries by the husk and gently dip into the chocolate, rolling as necessary to cover the entire fruit. Return to the cookie sheet and repeat, until all of the gooseberries have been coated in chocolate.

Place sheet with gooseberries in refrigerator and allow chocolate to set (about 20 min.)

Gooseberry Husks

Apricot & Blackberry Crisp

What to do with the 2 lbs of Blackberries I harvested from the garden this morning? Make a crisp, of course! This is a great dessert, but also makes a nice breakfast. You can eat it warm from the oven or cold from the fridge.

Apricot & Blackberry Crisp

Apricot Berry Crisp

(Gluten & Dairy Free, No Sugar Added)

1-2 cups pitted sliced apricots (skin on)

5-6 cups fresh blackberries (you should have a total of 6 or 7 cups of fruit.)

1 teaspoon dry stevia, divided
1 ½  cup gluten free quick cook oats

2 tsp cornstarch
¾  cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela’s gluten & dairy free all purpose.)
½  cup almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup melted coconut oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 8-inch square baking dish with either coconut oil or dairy free butter (I used Earth Balance spread.)

Spread the chopped almonds onto a jellyroll pan and toast 5-7 min or so. (Shake pan gently every 2-3 minutes so as not to burn.) Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium bowl gently mix together apricots, berries, cornstarch and ½ teaspoon stevia. Pour into prepared baking dish.

In another medium bowl stir together oats, flour, almonds, remaining ½ teaspoon of stevia and coconut oil.

Sprinkle oat mixture over the fruit. Bake for 1 hour or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown.

Let cool 5 minutes and enjoy!

* Stevia is very sweet so be careful not to add too much. Taste your fruit before adding, and if the fruit seems sweet enough by itself you may choose to omit this or use less.

Springtime in Southern California

Jacarandas

I love springtime in southern California! The jacaranda trees bloom creating an almost fairy tale-like wonderland…the landscape becomes saturated with color and our garden starts to burst with delectable flavors. It’s the end of May and as of right now we have fresh artichokes, blackberries, gooseberries, kale and yellow wax beans waiting to be turned into a culinary work of art. The best thing about fresh produce from one’s own garden is that you don’t have to do much to it. The flavors are already so rich that you just add a dash of salt, maybe some balsamic vinegar and you’re good to go! The recipe below is one such example. I had leftover meat from a rotisserie chicken and when I walked out into the garden for inspiration, I noticed that we had a good handful of ripe blackberries. Those two ingredients made a great starting point for a satisfying summer salad. Use the recipe below as a guide but try mixing it up by adding a second or third type of berry, incorporating nuts (pecans?) or adding a small spoonful of Dijon mustard to the vinegar to give it a kick. The possibilities are endless!

Blackberry Salad

Blackberry Chicken Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Fresh blackberries

Rotisserie chicken

Fresh greens (I used a spring mix)

Good balsamic vinegar

Flaky sea salt

(you can add pepper to taste if you like)

That’s it! Super simple. Super yummy!

A Decadent Gluten Free Sandwich

Final_sm

This sandwich is a delightful treat. The white truffle honey truly sets this lunch apart, bringing it to a whole other level.

2 slices sandwich bread

herb goat’s cheese

toasted walnuts, chopped

white truffle honey

1 crisp apple sliced very thinly (I used a Fuji)

optional: sliced meat (I used chicken but prosciutto would also be delicious)

Baby spring lettuce (alternatively you could use micro greens. Just be sure to use a mild mixture.)

Spread goat’s cheese on both slices of bread. Set one aside while you build the sandwich on the other slice. Start with the walnuts, pressing them into the goat’s cheese. Drizzle with truffle honey. Add meat if desired and apples. Top with baby lettuce and other slice of bread. Enjoy!