Chicken Pot Pie

In one of our After School Cooking Programs, we are learning all about Comfort Foods. The children are having so much fun filling up their little bellies with warm, nutritious and absolutely delicious foods from Turkey and Bean Chili to Pasta Fajioli, Morning Glory Muffins, Buttermilk Biscuits and Corn Chowder, just to name a few!

chicken pot pie 2

Well, in yesterday’s class, we made Chicken Pot Pie. OH MY! It was so scrumptious that some of the kids were licking their plates, seriously, I saw them. I don’t blame them, I had a tiny bite of the bottom of the casserole dish and wanted to lick it all up myself.

chicken pot pie

First of all, this makes me so proud. Some of these students have really become expert little chefs and they have all grown such an appreciation for good quality, fresh food, I just love it!

This recipe for Chicken Pot Pie is superb, so easy to make, just please be sure you make the pie dough from scratch, like we did. The recipe for the Homemade Pie Dough is so simple, just five ingredients from your pantry. It literally takes just a couple of minutes to put together and it makes all the difference in these recipes. Besides, the list of ingredients in the store bought pie dough is a mile long, many of which I can’t even pronounce.

pie dough

I know you will all enjoy this recipe and you too will be licking the bottom of your plates!

P.S. If you are a vegetarian, you can easily substitute the chicken for other vegetables such as mushrooms, cauliflower or broccoli and it will taste just as good!

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Cauliflower

This cruciferous vegetable is one of the best anti-cancer fighting vegetables. Besides being an antioxidant, it can also help decrease inflammation in your body and improve digestion. Plus, it’s loaded with tons of vitamins and fiber.

Cauliflower

I always enjoyed cauliflower (aka “white trees”). Their flavor is very mild so you can easily add it to any soup, stew or roasted vegetable dish and now you can use cauliflower to make pizza crust and “bread” sticks. It’s amazing.

At first, when my dear cousin introduced me to the idea, I was skeptical, I have to admit. I mean, cauliflower pizza, that doesn’t sound very appetizing to me. However, then I heard Dr Oz talking about all of the health benefits of eating more cruciferous vegetables so I thought, why not give it a shot. I am so glad that I did, because I love it and so does the family. Plus, it’s another gluten free option!!!

cauliflower pizza

So, next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a head of cauliflower and try this delicious Cauliflower Pizza Crust and Cauliflower “Bread” Sticks.

cauliflower bread sticks

Let me know what you think. Bon Apetito!

 

My Oat Flour Obsession

As most of you know, I have been on a gluten free cleanse for over 30 days. I have gradually started adding it back into my diet to see how my body reacts to it. So far, it really seems to depend on what and how much of gluten I am eating, smaller portions is definitely better and most times, I prefer keeping it gluten free as it makes me feel a bit more energetic.

When I first started exploring a gluten free diet, I did as probably most people with wheat allergies start, I purchased some gluten free products from the local supermarket. I quickly realized these products are mostly made of starches and white rice flours,  which isn’t the healthiest option for your body. Potato, tapioca and corn starches are full of carbohydrates and refined ingredients which quickly turn into sugar in your body and they don’t provide as many essential vitamins and nutrients found in whole grain ingredients.

gf flour

Then, one day, I discovered a recipe for banana pancakes made with oat flour. That was the beginning of my Oat Flour Obsession! Oat flour is made from ground up rolled oats. It was so easy to make. I poured a cup of whole rolled oats into my food processor and pulsed until I got oat flour, so easy! However, if you don’t have a food processor or the time to make your own oat flour, you can certainly purchase it. My family and I loved the pancakes and I have to admit, I liked them better then wheat floured ones.

oat four

Oats are a natural gluten free, whole grain ingredient. Oats are  full of fiber and can help prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease and it makes a perfect substitution for gluten flours, such as all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Plus, you don’t have to add any xanthum gum or guar gum.

oats food processor

I was so excited to find a great tasting, whole grain, gluten free option and quickly started transforming all of my muffin, bread, pancake, waffle, cookie and cake recipes using oat and almond flours.

So, now I want to share some of these delicious recipes with you so you can substitute some of your wheat baked goodies into whole grain, gluten free baked goodies. Remember, it’s a good idea to keep your metabolism going strong and a little change and balance between foods is always a good idea.

Today, I’m going to share some of my new favorite breakfast baked good recipes from Chocolate Zucchini Bread, to Banana Maple Oat Bread, Cinnamon Crumb Muffins, Morning Glory Muffins and Oatmeal Pecan Breakfast Cookies. These are truly some of the most delicious, wholesome breakfast foods and I hope you love them just as much as I do.

chocolate zucchini

oat morning glory

As always if you have any gluten free or allergen free recipes or tips that you’d like to share, please let us know. I am always excited to try new things!

Italian Wedding Soup

When it’s cold and snowing outside, I like to fill up my belly with a warm, savory bowl of Italian Wedding Soup, a true comfort food.

wedding soup

I love this soup, it is one of our favorites! My friend Lisa introduced me to it a couple of years ago and I’ve since made my own adjustments to it. For example, instead of using the traditional escarole, I use chopped frozen organic spinach. It’s easier and full of iron and fiber. I also add beans to my soup. I really enjoy a nice hearty soup that can suffice as our entire meal. I guess you could say it closely resembles a minestrone soup with mini meatballs.

italian wed soup

For the meatballs, I keep them light and healthy, by using ground turkey instead of beef and adding grated onion, carrots and zucchini. This keeps the meatballs so moist and full of flavor. I use this exact same recipe for traditional meatballs that I cook with marinara sauce. Absolutely delish!

meatballs

If you’re gluten free, you can substitute the whole wheat bread crumbs for brown rice bread crumbs and the regular pasta for corn pasta. If you’re vegetarian, you can substitute with tofu meat or omit them all together. Your options are endless.

This soup is a winner in our family and in my Food Jules classes. The kids enjoy it so much that they ask for it each semester. It makes me very proud that they are so excited to eat such a nutritious meal.

Hope this delicious soup warms you up on this cold, winter day.

Whole Grain Quinoa Bites

Grains are an important part of our five food group daily consumption, however, when choosing your grains, be sure to keep them Whole Grain!

gluten foods

Grains are the seeds of food plants that have been harvested and include foods such as wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley etc. Grains are high in carbohydrates which provide energy to our brain and muscles. There are two types of grains: Whole Grain and Refined Grain.

Whole Grains are the entire seed of the plant and contain the entire grain kernel. Whole Grains are rich in vitamins, fiber, protein and iron.  Whole Grain foods include brown rice, oats, barley, spelt, quinoa and whole wheat products such as whole wheat bread, pasta etc.

quinoa

Refined Grains are processed grains and are missing some of these important nutrients. Refined grain foods include white rice, pasta, white bread and foods made with white, all-purpose flour such as cookies, cakes, muffins etc. We should be consuming limited quantities of refined grains as they provide us with limited nutritional benefits and breakdown into unnecessary sugar in our bodies.

pasta

Quinoa is one of my favorite whole grains with a “nutty” flavor plus its packed with protein. These Zucchini Quinoa Bites are a delicious addition to my recipe book. They remind me of little quiches without the phyllo crust, making them gluten free.

quinoa bites

These quinoa bites are a perfect vegetable side dish to any meal or as an appetizer. They are super easy to make and so very yummy, a perfect whole grain food. I liked them so much, I’m going to make a couple other versions and will post the recipes later this week.