Dairy Free Ranch Dressing a la Ree Drummond

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I love the Pioneer Woman. I love everything about her and her recipes. I also at the moment can’t eat dairy, because our little guy is allergic and still breastfeeding. But one of her recipes has been a godsend in my dairy free hell. Her ranch dressing recipe is the best, except that I would double all the herbs. I like my ranch close to green goddess dressing in herbiness, it lets you cut way back on salt without missing any flavor. Store bought dressings have absolutely hideous amounts of salt, even the organic ones (which aren’t diary free, or vice versa) and not many herbs at all. So, I make our own dressing, about once a week during the summer when we’re eating a ton of salad. This recipe is for a double batch, to share with a friend or if you really flipping love ranch dressing–or just cut it all in half.

Kinda-organic dairy-free ranch dressing

  • 16 oz jar organic mayo
  • unsweetened nut milk to taste (I prefer cashew milk)
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp cayenne hot sauce
  • 1/3 c chopped fresh organic chives
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley (or equivalent fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill weed (or equivalent fresh)
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic, pressed, or smashed and minced
  • 1 heaping tsp low sodium salt

I didn’t go picture happy because, well, you mix it all in a bowl. The one thing I did take a picture of because it’s so cool, is the garlic clove peeler that came with my new garlic press. It’s a textured silicone tube that you roll the garlic in using firm pressure and the paper peels off flawlessly. I was skeptical, I’ve always done the smash and peel, but it works amazingly well.

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Mix all the ingredients except the nut milk, and then thin it out a tablespoon at a time to your desired consistency. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, then stir, taste, and adjust.

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Nourishing No Bake Chocolate Cheesecakes

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  • 4 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 c hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 t high quality gelatin
  • 1/3 c pasteurized egg whites
  • 2/3 c plain or vanilla greek yogurt, prepared
  • 2/3 c raw sugar
  • 1/4 c  Benefiber
  • 1 t vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • Chocolate wafer cookies

At least a full day before you plan to make this, leave 2/3 of a cup plain greek yogurt open, covered with a paper towel or cheese cloth to let some moisture evaporate out of it (this will make it more similar to cream cheese). Dissolve the gelatin in coffee, and microwave chocolate in a microwave safe mixing bowl about 45 seconds until mostly melted. Whisk gelatin mixture into chocolate and add sugar. Continue to whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add egg whites, yogurt, and salt, and whip. Place wafer cookies (I used Keebler fudge strip cookies) in the bottom of small pyrex cups, or if the wafers are slightly smaller you can use muffin cups. Cover with filling mix and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

It won’t taste sinful or decadent. But, you can eat it without feeling a little sick after only a sliver. I love a good, rich, dense chocolate cheesecake, but I can only eat a few bites before I feel ill these days, my body isn’t used to eating that way anymore. So, I like this recipe because it’s lighter but still silky, sweet and a little tangy, chocolaty without being rich.

Serves 4

Nutrition Info per serving (151 g): Calories-308, Fat-16 g, Carbs- 52g, Fiber- 9g, Protein- 11g Also: 17% of your daily calcium, 26% magnesium,  27% of your iron, 35% copper, and 56% manganese

*These are my best calculations by nutritiondata.self.com based on the exact amounts of ingredients and brands that I used. You should always calculate for yourself.

For comparison, according to Fitday.com, your average 150 g of chocolate cheesecake has:  Calories- 589.9, Fat-37.7 g, Carbs- 57.4g, Fiber- 2.2g, Protein- 9.7g and FIVE times the sodium!

Gelatin Experiment

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Some days, I get totally caught up in researching a new health trend I read about, looking for the people who claim it is not actually a miracle, citing studies it is not actually safe, etc. If I don’t find any cause for grave concern and enough people are saying it personally makes a difference for them, I’m game to give it a quasi-scientific shot. Today’s curiosity: gelatin.

In short: Gelatin is made from boiling bones, which extracts the collagen. Collagen is what makes our skin supple and elastic. I’ve seen people claim it helps with hair and nails too, but they are made of keratin, so I’m a little skeptical about that. The collagen in gelatin has been hydrolysed (chemically altered by water), another reason to be skeptical. However, it is also an inexpensive, low fat protein and it really can’t hurt anything. So, I’m going to try including 1t of gelatin into my diet daily for 8 weeks and see what comes of it. I’m just hitting that age where my skin is a little less smooth, a little less elastic, and anything that promises to slow down cellulite is worth a shot, especially if it costs so little and makes really delicious recipes.

My first recipe is an adaption of a number of home made pudding recipes.

Almond Milk Gelatin Chocolate Pudding Recipe

  • 2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate
  • 1 full scoop Garden of Life Chocolate Raw Meal Replacement (or 1 additional ounce bakers chocolate)
  • 2 packets of knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 c demerara/raw sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t organic vanilla

In a sauce pan I heated the milk and chocolate, while whisking in the gelatin. The trick to home made pudding is whisking a lot, end of story. When the gelatin is well dissolved, about 2-3 minutes, add the salt, sugar, and chocolate powder (yes, I know cooking raw food stuff denatures a bunch of the goodness out of it, but honestly, the mix makes me gag, so I’ve been using it up in baking recipes, and it works great as a substitute for thickeners like flour or cornstarch in chocolate based recipes). Whisk on medium-low heat for another 4-5 minutes, then let cool, whisking occasionally and add vanilla extract, give it a good whisk, and chill, covered,  in the fridge for 2+ hours.

I am lovin’ this pudding. I would make it just as a wholesome dessert if it wasn’t part of my experiment. It actually came out so thick that I added a splash of french press coffee from this morning and it added such a nice depth of flavor (as coffee always does to chocolate). It does have a slight graininess from the powder which doesn’t bother me because it tastes a lot like brownie batter, but if you want a really silky luxurious pudding, I would go with a second square of baker’s chocolate instead. It’s also cheaper 😉

Hopefully soon my grass fed uber-duber gelatin will arrive and I can try it. I hear it’s worlds apart from regular knox, and it’s significantly more eco-friendly and less expensive in a jar than lots of little packets.

Fast Easy Low Carb Taco Bowl

Fast easy scratch made taco bowl

This is one of my favorite meals for when I want easy comfort food but can’t afford to eat badly (like when my sister-in-law’s wedding is next week, YAY!). It has 8 ingredients, and by mid-summer, 2 of them come from my garden.

The first layer is ground beef (93/7 fat ratio), browned with 3T of my home made taco seasoning. I’m counting all “seasoning” as one ingredient, fair enough? Add a 1/4 c of water once it starts to really sizzle and cook until it has a very lightly sauced consistency. For adult taco nights, sometimes I deglaze the pan with lime juice and tequila instead of water.

The seasoning mix is very simple, and if you buy the spices in the larger jars it is just pennies per serving. I recommend making this first as one batch, testing and tasting and then tweak to your own taste, especially when it comes to heat. This recipe makes just over 3T which is perfect for 1 lb of meat. Once you’ve got the ratios you like, mix a quadruple batch in a recycled jar and shake it well before each use to make sure it stays blended. Hint: quadruple of 1 teaspoon is 1 Tablespoon.

  • 1 heaping teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, demerara sugar, paprika, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder and salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • cayenne to taste (go easy!)
  • 1 T arrowroot or corn starch or flour (thickening agent)

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Then, mix up the guacamole, which is worth a post in its own right. Mash together:

  • 3 avocados- slice around the pit and open it up, then scoop out the green stuff
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced (with seeds if you like it hot)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper

Don’t add garlic, tomato, cilantro, or anything else until you’ve tried it this way! The pure clean flavor of this simple recipe tastes like summer. Just throw it all in a bowl and mash with a fork. The longer you let it sit the hotter it will get, as capsaicin is fat soluble and avocado is full of heart healthy fatty acids.

Okay, now make your bowl! Beef in the bottom of the bowl, cover with cheese of your choice, and put pickled jalapenos on top (I love the vinegary tang) and microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Serve topped with fresh guac and broken tortilla chips.

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As pictured at the top, this recipe has about 1o net carbs with about 5 full chips worth of Tostitos multigrain scoops pieces. It isn’t exactly low fat, but with extra lean ground beef and low fat cheese, the fat from the creamy avocado is not excessive, and in fact our bodies need fat. We just don’t often eat the right balance of fats. You can also add all sorts of beautiful veggies. This time I added chopped green onions from the garden. It’s also great with shredded lettuce instead of chips.

This is also great for leftovers for days with just a minute to microwave as you assemble. To store the guacamole, sprinkle with some more lime juice and press plastic wrap down on the whole surface of it to prevent it from oxidizing and turning a light brownish/greyish color. It won’t kill you, but it’s not too aesthetically pleasing. Also, this dish is actually visually stunning with blue corn tortilla chips if you want to dress up your comfort food to impress.

Condensed Recipe: Fast Easy Low Carb Taco Bowl

  • Extra lean ground beef browned with 3T taco seasoning
  • Colby Jack cheese
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Home made guacamole
  • Multigrain Tostitos

Microwave the first three ingredients together, then top with guacamole and chips.

If you enjoy this, keep an eye out for my mini tostadas recipe coming in the next few days. It uses many of the same ingredients but is totally finger food, and great for parties.

Sourdough Brioche Rolls

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I adore brioche bread, and have been using this recipe for years. Now that I’m trying to cut out instant yeast, I am going to attempt it with sourdough starter. I came across one other attempt at a sourdough brioche roll recipe, and it is based on a Smitten Kitchen recipe, another favorite food blog of mine. But then, I didn’t have milk. And I really want these rolls today. So…I’ve heard of using yogurt in sourdough starter. Wouldn’t greek yogurt make a nice rich creamy high protein milk substitute? Of course with sourdough you have to fiddle with the moisture content, so this is, purely from eyeballing things one tablespoon at a time, my best attempt at the right dough texture:

  • 1 ample half cup starter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ c honey
  • ½ c Greek yogurt
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 4 T melted butter
  • 1 c whole wheat white flour
  • 1 c unbleached bread flour
  • egg for egg wash
  • sesame seeds

Brioche 1

Mix up the starter with the wet ingredients, and then slowly add the flour. Knead with a dough hook if you have a stand mixer. If not, it’s a fairly wet dough, and I sometimes leave it in the bowl and first squeeze it through my fingers and then do a lazy version of French style kneading. Stick your fingers in it, then pull one end up and flop it over in half, trapping some air. Turn, pull, fold, turn pull fold. It may not pass the windowpane test very well, but it will hold together nicely after 5-10 minutes. Form into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Brioche 2

Once it has doubled in size (with sourdough, expect at least 4 hours depending on conditions), knock it down and cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball and then flatten down on a cookie sheet. Brush with either egg white or whole egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Leave to rise again, preheat oven to 425 F. They are ready when you poke the side in an inconspicuous place and it springs back most of the way. Bake time depends on a lot of variables, after 12 minutes check every 3 minutes through the glass for nice color to develop on top.

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These were delicious! A little bit denser than the originals, but I was also in a hurry and did not give the first rise as long as I would have liked. I think for natural leavening they are actually remarkably soft and light, and would have been even more so with a proper first rise. Enjoy your greek  yogurt sourdough brioche!