Protein Loaded Pizza Sauce

pizza-sauce

We love pizza, but finding gluten and dairy-free pizza in a restaurant is hard. So we make “pizza night” into a fun activity to do with the kids! It’s great, until my daughter has a breakdown after she slops the sauce onto the edge of the crust or doesn’t spread the cheese evenly (I keep my Tranquil Roll-On handy with this child at all times). Sometimes she complains that sauce is too spicey too. So, I set out to make my own. I found a recipe on food.com that included fennel seed, and I changed it a lot. I hate that most sauces have cane sugar and parmesean cheese. If I’m going to have cane sugar, it better be a very tasty dessert – preferably with chocolate.

I’m always trying to find more ways to increase protein in our diet. I was at Fresh Thyme looking for Baking Powder, and I came across Bob’s Red Mill High Protein TVP (textured vegetable protein). The bag says “it takes on the flavor of whatever recipe to which it is added.” I thought it would be great not only for the pizza sauce I was making, but also chili and soups. The sauce turned out great, and you wouldn’t know that I added anything to the sauce by the taste. It does have soy; if you have a soy allergy, make the pizza sauce without it!

This recipe makes 4 small gluten-free pizzas, and I tripled it in order to make 4 small gluten-free pizzas, and an eggplant pizza bake. I love it when I can to turn one dish into two for multiple nights! Plus, it’s always convenient to make extra sauce and have it ready in the freezer!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • ½  cup shallots finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery (~1 stick) finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic tomato sauce (I used Kirkland brand from Costco)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Redmond’s Real Salt
  • ½ teaspoon coconut sugar
  • ¼  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill High Protein TVP (textured vegetable protein) (optional)

 

Directions

  1. If you are going to include Bob’s Red Mill High Protein TVP, boil the water. Add a little less than ⅓ cup of boiled water over ⅓ cup of protein. The bag recommends 1 cup protein to ⅞ cup water, so that’s how I did the math as best as I could. Set the protein mixture aside and let it set for 10 minutes.img_0779
  2. Finely chop shallots and celery (I sliced the celery stick into 4 tiny strips and then chopped it).img_0778 
  3. Smash your garlic with the flat part of your knife and then mince.
  4. Sauté veggies in a large skillet until very tender and almost translucent.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients and let simmer for 30 – 60 minutes.
  6. Get your pizza ready!!!img_0804

Dairy and Gluten-Free Mac And Cheese

vegan-mac-cheeseLike most American families, Mac and Cheese was an staple in our diet. And, we have  missed it A LOT since we cut out wheat and dairy. However, my kids never liked a fancy dish baked with breadcrumbs or paprika; they ate organic mac and cheese from a box. And, the Daiya Gluten Free Mac and Cheese from a box, is gross. Once, I created a cashew cheese baked mac and cheese that I enjoyed, but what a waste! My kids spit out the one bite that they tried. In my defense, I didn’t think it was bad! So I worked to find the best tasting no-thrills “box-style” vegan gluten-free recipe! 

In Gluten Free and More Magazine, there was a mac and cheese recipe FromJessicasKitchen.com, in which she used coconut milk, coconut creamer, and vegan mozarella and cheddar to make the sauce. However, her recipe is another fancy dish; so I took her sauce idea, and I changed a lot to make it more like a traditional box dish that my kids would eat. This dish has changed our dinner! They would eat it every day if I let them! 

Noodles

  • 6 quarts water
  • 1 box gluten-free pasta shells

Ingredients for Sauce

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Directions

  1. First, prepare your noodles. Boil water, add pasta shells, and cook according to the lowest time provided on the box, because gluten-free noodles are often mushy.
  2. To start the sauce, melt the 4 tablespoons vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add coconut milk, coconut creamer and Redmond’s Real Salt. Stir the mixture frequently until it begins to boil; watch carefully so that it doesn’t come to a full boil.
  4. In a small boil, combine cornstarch, almond flour, and water. Stir until it is smooth.img_9617
  5. Pour cornstarch mixture into the milk mixture, and increase the heat to medium high. Whisk for 1 minute. 
  6. Reduce heat to medium low, and whisk until the cheese thicken to a pudding-like consistency. (approximately 2 minutes)
  7. Add the vegan cheddar and mozzarella. Whisk constantly for approximately 3 – 5 minutes until cheese is melted and smooth. img_9624
  8. Drain the pasta, and add it to the cheese sauce.
  9. Mix gently until pasta is evenly coated.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve and enjoy! My kids ate it up and I admit, it was delicious!!! img_9631logo-small

Sweet & Spicy Peppers In a Taco Bowl (Paleo)

We were leaving out of town, and I was trying to avoid going to the grocery store. We didn’t have much in the fridge, but whatever we had – I wanted to use up! Then, I got an idea after looking at these 2 gorgeous green peppers – taco bowls! I was out of fresh lime, but I had Young Living Lime Essential Oil, so at least it didn’t stop me from making dinner! 

First, start your rice. I selected an organic short grain that I cooked with veggie stock instead of water to add extra flavor. Next, pick your protein; I put a can of organic black beans in a small pan, and turned it on low. A pack of organic bison is great, to include an easy tasty lean protein; feel free to sub any protein to make it vegan. Personally, I like Beyond Meat in this recipe. It sounds like a cliché, but you will NOT know that it’s not from an animal. It’s only available here in St. Louis at Whole Foods, and it’s made of pea protein.

The Best Taco Meat EVER

  • 1 lb bison or lean beef (organic grass-fed preferred) or Beyond Meat for a great vegan option
  • ½ packet of Taco Seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 can organic tomato sauce (I used Kirkland’s from Costco)
  • 1 tablespoon organic blue agave syrup
  • ½ onion
  • 1 clove garlic

Directions:

  1. Brown your meat in a large pan. Drain the fat, if you’re using beef or bison. You may want to use an non-stick spray or add a little avocado or olive oil to the pan if you are using the Beyond Meat, because it can have a tendency to stick.
  2. Add in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and blue agave syrup.
  3. Keep the heat on low and let it simmer.

I got this idea of including agave syrup from my favorite chef Erin Thero! It’s the key to creating a spicy and sweet mix.

While I was waiting for my meat to brown, I prepared my peppers…

Sweet & Spicy Peppers & Onions

*options: I love garlic. If I add 1 clove of garlic in this recipe, then I use 1 full lime or 6 drops of Young Living Lime Essential Oil

Directions:

  1. Slice your peppers and onions long and thin
  2. Coat the 3 tablespoons avocado oil in a medium skillet on medium high
  3. Sauté the onions and the peppers
  4. Add the taco seasoning, salt, and Young Living Lime Essential Oil (or a couple slices of fresh lime)
  5. Continue to sauté the peppers until they are tender, but slightly crisp.
  6. Stir in the blue agave syrup and remove into a bowl so that they don’t overcook.img_9192

Pretty much this dish works with any pepper!img_9470-update
I plated the bowls with scoops of beans, rice, meat, peppers & onions, and avocado.Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, Non-Hydrogenated Plain is my personal favorite addition. I also served it with organic blue corn tortilla chips to add a little crunch. This bowl is the perfect mix of spicy and sweet!img_9197

If you haven’t cooked with Young Living Essential Oils, you should. Message me about them, because you will love the flavor that they add to veggies!

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The Best Vegan Chocolate Sauce

I am a chocolate fanatic, and this chocolate sauce has inspired so many of my desserts; you can even use it to make hot chocolate or put a scoop in your coffee for a homemade mocha! It is quick, easy and delicious.

The Best Vegan Chocolate Sauce

Directions

  1. Melt vegan butter over medium low heat in a saucepan.
  2. Add vegan chocolate chips and stir until incorporated and smooth.
  3. Add pure maple syrup and slowly add evaporated coconut milk.
  4. Bring to a boil and stir frequently; reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 8 minutes.
  5. Continue to stir while it bubbles.
  6. Remove from heat, and store in a glass jar for several weeks in the refrigerator.IMG_9444.JPG

I used this chocolate sauce to create a Dairy and Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Boston Creme CakeDulce De Leche Chocolate Cashew Pie (Vegan & Gluten-Free) and a Chocolate Dulce De Leche Hot Fudge Cake! Yummy!!!

FYI – If you refrigerate this is, it will be a thick spreadable chocolate – similar to a “Nutella” texture. However, it quickly returns it to a liquid form in the microwave.

 

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Vegan Dulce de Leche

During my study abroad in Argentina, I was obsessed with dulce de leche; I would eat it on bananas, ice cream, and biscuits. If you don’t know what it is, it is a very thick, sweetened milk. If you want to drool – google a “torta de mil hojas.” I might be talented enough with my gluten-free vegan baking to recreate that cake one day.

This dulce de leche will take 45 minutes. It is not a difficult task, but it takes patience; so take your time, and it will be worth it!

Vegan Dulce de Leche

Once, I attempted to make caramel sauce with coconut cream and maple syrup with no luck. Then, I found Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk; I bought it at Fresh Thyme. They also sell it on Amazon. It thickens greatly in this dulce de leche, and is divine!

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Ingredients

  • 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. Combine the sweetened condensed coconut milk & maple syrup in a small saucepan. The maple syrup will make it a slightly tan color.
  2. Stir over medium-high heat just until it starts to boil. Do not let it boil over, and remove from heat if necessary.img_9409  
  3. Add 1 ½ tablespoon gluten-free vanilla.
  4. As you see it start to combine, remove it from heat, and add ½ teaspoon baking soda.
  5. Mix well, and place back on the stove.
  6. Reduce to low heat or a setting that will allow for a gentle simmer.
  7. Stir the dulce de leche approximately every ten minutes for the next 30 minutes until it looks darker and thicker.  
  8. When it becomes a darker golden color, start stirring it every 5 minutes.img_9413
  9. When it becomes thicker, and an even darker golden color, test it to see if it’s done.IMG_9414.JPG
  10. Pour a spoonful onto a plate and run the back of the spoon through the middle of the dulce de leche.  If the dulce de leche does not come together, then it’s done!IMG_9427.JPG
  11. It makes ~8 ounces. Scoop it into a couple of jars, and use it on ice cream, bananas, apples, or cakes. I’ll be sharing a Dairy and Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Boston Creme Cake, a Chocolate Dulce De Leche Hot Fudge Cake, and a No Churn Vegan Chocolate Dulce de Leche Ice Cream soon!IMG_9437.JPG

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Day 3 – Roma

After our late arrival to the meeting, we headed to see the Colosseum and the Forum. img_0295img_0297We stumbled across Gustando Roma, and I had some spaghetti. I felt like a kid eating noodles and sauce. I need to research what makes their simple noodles taste not so simple! I also ordered a lemonade. It was obviously fresh-squeezed, but when I got the bill it was 10 euros! It was as much as my spaghetti!!! People are crazy.

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IMG_0323.jpgWe met outside of the Wedding Cake and did a guided walking tour of the Forum. The Forum was originally built by Julius Caesar to address overcrowding in older public spaces, and was “discovered” during Mussolini’s reign when he ordered the construction of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, which would connect the Colosseum to the Piazza Venezia. img_0362

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img_0482img_0488img_0494img_0496img_0499img_0497Then we headed to the Colosseum. I was just amazed at how it has been standing since 72 A.D. Marble is strong. I learned (1) there is an aqueduct below and they did naval battles there, (2) 1 million people lived in Rome at this time, (3) it was built by 10,000 slaves, and (4) the ground was made of sand to soak up the blood (ewwwww…)

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Former bleachers where people sat

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img_0278img_0285After our tour, we had free time, so we headed to the Ancient Theatre, and the Jewish District. img_0565img_0563img_0574img_0579

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synagogue

I was a little hungry (go figure), so we tried Sheva, a little restaurant that offered a wine tasting that came with a meat and cheese plate for 10 euros; they were kind enough to make me a salad instead. I was a little hidden gem! Then, everyone enjoyed a delicious tiramisu, and again – I didn’t have any. Boo.img_0599IMG_0594.jpgIMG_0597.jpg

 

Since I was deprived of tiramisu, I was determined to find more gelato. This place declared theirs to be homemade, and it certainly tasted like it! I had the strawberry and dark chocolate orange. I wished I would have had just two scoops of the dark chocolate instead. It was delicious.img_0607

We headed back to the Piazza Popolo and shopped along the way. I bought souvenirs for Weston (he’s been loving his race-track lately so I got him a Ferrari hot wheels), and a little bracelet for Eiley. I couldn’t help it. I missed them!!!

From there we went to a group dinner at Trattoria. IMG_0628.jpg

Here is where I made a mistake – yet again. I need to stop trying to offend people, and just say what I want. My friends are probably shocked that I have the ability to actually keep my mouth shut! The dinner was included for everyone with the tour, but they had different dishes planned for me. It started off well with this zucchini and eggplant appetizer.IMG_0635.jpg

Next, they served me a smoked salmon; it was cold. I just couldn’t. Carmen and another friend said how great it was. Maybe it’s a texture or fish taste…regardless, after my fiasco with cold seafood salad yesterday – no gracias! I didn’t want to be offensive, but I was starving. Instead, they gave me a salad with an apple for dessert.

I came back to the hotel at 10:30 pm to eat another pasta dish with tomatoes. They even had gluten, dairy and egg free bread. Amazing!IMG_0650.jpg

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My lesson for Spain when I go in June is: (1) I need to say no when I really cannot eat something. I know it’s hard serving me at a restaurant. It makes me feel like a pain, and although I try to eat whatever they say is safe (for my stomach’s sake) – I have to draw the line and stop worrying about offending people. (2) Keep nut and protein bars in my purse at all times!

In the end, Rome was beautiful! I will definitely come back one day.

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Day 2 – Roma

We had training in Saturday morning with EF Tours. I woke up exhausted, but luckily after a quick-lunch and a trip to the Vatican – I was energized! It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

For lunch we went to Tradizione & Fantasia; it was near where we were supposed to meet our group, and we saw some other teachers inside eating pizza.

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I wish I would have made a better selection. The eggplant, spinach, and zucchini dish sautéed with olive oil and garlic was yummy; if I would have had three plates of them, I might have been full.img_9903

I ordered a gluten-free pasta with mushrooms – since the mushrooms the day before were so delicious. Well, 25 minutes later, the waitress informed me that the pasta had eggs. Boo. So she recommended the sea food salad. It was not my cup of tea. The salad itself was delicious, but cold octopus, fish, squid, and musels made me want to gag. Blah. This is what I got for being adventurous, and trying to avoid getting sick. Nevertheless, I picked out the seafood, put on some DiGize (it is a must for traveling!), and headed to the Vatican. Soon after I felt better, and I forgot about that nasty cold seafood on my plate.

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Although I’m Christian, I’m not Catholic, and I didn’t think that I would have loved the Vatican as much as I did. I stood staring at the beautiful marble statues, artifacts, history, gold tapestries, architecture, and paintings for 4 hours. I was always the last one behind the group.

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Threads of gold

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I can’t explain the awe that I felt in the Sistine Chappel, and a deep respect for Michelangelo – not only for his incredible talent, but also for the physical suffering that he must have endured in his body (especially his neck and back) for his faith and passion for art. He really earned his reputation. How did he paint 399 people in that ceiling in only 4 years? Just insane. I don’t have any images of it, because photos aren’t allowed.

From the Sistine Chappel, we moved outside and then went into St. Peter’s Basilica.

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After our tour, we went to the Vatican Shops, and I picked up a Papa Fransisco (Pope Francis) card and coin for my sweet friend. She has a picture of the Pope in her Spanish classroom; once a student asked her about the photo – and she replied, “It’s culture! He’s Argentine!” I also got a little necklace for my daughter; hopefully she likes it.

For dinner we explored on our own, and came across Vitti. img_0240img_0221I loved the decor – reminded me of a typical European movie. img_0225img_0235The waiters were sweet and so accommodating with my allergies. I asked what was the safest thing for me to eat – and he said steak is the only thing they guarantee to be safe and not cross-contaminated. Done. Here’s my take – these carrots were steamed and plain, but I know how to add salt. The salad was good (I love how Italians do natural olive and vinegar instead of our processed dressing); the steak was very filling, a little fatty, but sometimes that gives meat more flavor. I was starving. Presentation was a lacking…

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I wish I could have tried some of the desserts. One was a cheesecake with apples at the base and raspberries on top. I might try to steal their idea and make them dairy, egg, and gluten free!

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After the dinner we explored the city; we checked out little stores with beautiful purses and shoes, and ordered gelato. I have to say Wonderful Ice Cream lived up to its name. Since I was torn between both the dark chocolate and the mango – I got both. A medium was not enough; I should have gotten a large. It was amazing!

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IMG_0244.jpgWhile walking the streets on the way to the Piazza Popolo, we met some other teachers from our Tour Group. They were eating gelato as well. The guys in the shop were telling me that their gelato was better than Wonderful Ice Cream’s. So they had me do a taste test with their dark chocolate. I have to say, Wonderful Ice Cream won. Sorry. Although, I couldn’t have the candy bar ones…img_0247

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That night Carmen and I came together in solidarity to relax; I turned on 10 hours of relaxing rain sounds from YouTube to block out any snoring (sometimes I talk too in my sleep) and put a couple drops of Cedarwood on my feet. We also applied some Cypress and Panaway to our low-back and neck. (If you haven’t tried these oils, message me, and I will show you what you are missing! They are a must have for traveling!) The discomfort from looking up at the Vatican’s ceilings was worth it though. When Michelangelo painted ceilings, you will take the back tightness gladly that comes after a half a day at the Vatican of staring upwards.

However, I would have splurged for a decent bed if I had been given the opportunity to do so; they were sooooo hard. Would you rather have a mattress that’s too hard or sagging in the middle? Decisions decisions… Let’s just say it wasn’t a Marriott.

In the end, whatever we did – it worked too well. We overslept, and missed an hour of our Sunday morning meeting! Agh!!!! It made me think of what we called the “walk of shame” back at Ole Miss – watching college girls walk down fraternity row at 9 am on a Sunday in their clothes from the night before. I felt awful, doing my “walk of shame” into that meeting, but at the same time I was very rested. Lesson learned – maybe I don’t need the rain noise up that loud!

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