Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Stuffed with Peanut Butter Cups

Oh my. You are going to love these cookies. Full disclosure: these are less "healthful" than they are "play," but we need both in our lives! These cookies are really, really good - and very rich. And fortunately, they're something your gluten intolerant friend can enjoy as well. Those of you with kids (or grandkids) will also enjoy this minimal-ingredient recipe. Making it for your significant other? You'll look like a goddess - or god - in the kitchen!

These cookies are pretty big, so they're perfect for splitting with a friend. Plus, cutting them down the center lets you see the surprise peanut butter cup inside!

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Start by making the extremely simple gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I featured last fall on my blog. Note: instead of making this recipe with M&Ms, use only chocolate chips (and used the whole bag of chips because I love my cookies chocolate-y). I also used chunky peanut butter because that's what I had on hand.

Next, flatten a round of dough on a prep surface or cookie sheet.

Place a Reese's peanut butter cup on top of the "bottom" layer and press down gently.

Add an additional round of dough on top of the peanut butter.

Press the sides of the top and bottom layers together to conceal the peanut butter cup.

Arrange evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, making sure to not burn the bottom.

Remove the cookies when they're still slightly soft on the top, since the bottom tends to darken more quickly.

Cool on a cookie sheet and serve with a glass of cold, organic milk or almond milk.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Creamy Chive Sauce

As the seasons change and it gets (hopefully) cooler, many of us crave hearty dishes for dinner. This recipe, adapted from EatingWell's Sauteed Chicken Breast with Creamy Chive Sauce, tastes like gourmet comfort food but is extremely easy to make. I ended up doubling the sauce, though I did not reflect it in the quantities below, and used it as a topping for steamed carrots. We are definitely sauce people around here, and this recipe was great!

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce


  • 4 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, (about 1 pound), trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour, divided
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream (I used regular organic)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives, (about 1 bunch)


Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch.

Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat.

Add wine, broth and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 6 minutes.

Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce.

Stir in chives and serve immediately.

We served it with organic corn from the farmer's market topped with a bit of pasture butter, lit some candles, and pretended it was cold outside!



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fresh Fig Vinaigrette - and the Only Bottled Salad Dressing I Use

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on your salad dressing? I bet you will be surprised to find out that it's likely made with soy, vegetable, or canola oil - not with olive oil. I recommend avoiding highly processed vegetable oils such as soy and canola because they are likely to be genetically modified and are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. They're cheap and more shelf stable, which is why manufacturers use them, but they do not impart the benefits of first-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Fortunately, I have found a salad dressing line made with olive oil as the only oil. It is from Bragg's, the company that also creates raw apple cider vinegar. Their two varieties, Healthy Vinaigrette and Ginger & Sesame, contain whole, real ingredients that are also organic. It's $4.99 at Whole Foods.

It's also really easy to make your own salad dressing! I hope to share more salad dressing recipes in the future, and today I will show you how to make the Fresh Fig Vinaigrette, a recipe I created myself. Figs are currently in season and offer a great texture and mildly sweet taste - plus they're chock full of nutrients and are really pretty! Both black and green figs are available at farmers markets and even Trader Joe's right now. Both taste fine, but black figs offer a more interesting color for this dressing.

This dressing stays in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. My husband gobbles it up - always a plus!

Please note that quantities are approximate. You can use more or less, depending on your taste. I recommend using a mini food processor, but you can also use a blender or larger food processor.

Fresh Fig Vinaigrette

4-8 figs, washed with stems removed
2-4 T. extra virgin olive oil (first cold-pressed)
4 T. balsamic vinaigrette
Dash of stevia
1 tsp. garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper

Assemble your ingredients:

Pretty, right?

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree.

Pour over a salad made with your favorite fruit (try pomegranate seeds, cut figs, or strawberries), fresh greens, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baked Polenta with Spinach and Chicken Apple Sausage

I know I say this a lot about the recipes I post on my blog, but I really mean it: this meal was absolutely delicious. I mean, lick the plate (mindfully) delicious. I came across this fun blog called "Oui, Chef" when searching for polenta recipes. Blogger Steve uses Oui, Chef as "an extension of [his] efforts to teach [his] kids a few things about cooking." The recipes are fun, creative, and feature a lot of real and whole foods.

Steve's Baked Polenta with Spinach and Chicken Apple Sausage, originally featured at Whole Foods, uses few ingredients and is a great alternative to lasagna. It's appropriate for people with gluten intolerance, as polenta is made with corn meal. Make sure to get organic polenta to avoid genetically modified corn. (Shopping tip: organic polenta can be found at Trader Joe's.)

Also, make sure to read the ingredient list when shopping for marinara sauce. Opt for organic marinara made without soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup. The Trader Joe's brand is made with soybean oil, so I used Whole Foods generic organic marinara sauce (made without any added sweeteners and with olive oil).

Give this recipe a chance - you will be happy to be eating its leftovers the next day for lunch!

Baked Polenta with Spinach and Chicken Apple Sausage


2 18 ounce tubes of pre-cooked polenta

1 medium sized yellow onion, finely chopped

1 pound baby spinach

2 pounds chicken sausage (use any flavor that you like, we used "apple")

3 cups marinara sauce

12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese



Preheat the oven to 375 ℉, and grease a 9"x13" baking dish with butter.

Open cooked polenta, and working with your hands break it up and press it into an even layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Work it well with your fingers to eliminate any lumps and ensure a nice even texture. Season this layer with a little kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, and cook the onion about 3-4 minutes until just starting to take color. Add the spinach, and season with a little salt and pepper, cook until wilted and spread evenly over the polenta.

Remove sausage meat from casings. Add a little more oil to the pan, and over medium-high heat, cook the de-cased sausage meat until nicely browned on all sides, breaking the meat up into small pieces as you go. When just cooked through, add the marinara to the pan with the chicken and stir well to incorporate.

Spread the chicken mix over the spinach, top with the shredded mozzarella and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the cheese is light brown and bubbly.

Serve immediately with a nice side salad, and some rustic bread. I made crusty, warm gluten-free bread in the bread maker and also served this with steamed zucchini and carrots topped with raw shaved parmesan; a pomegranate, raspberry, and mixed greens side salad with fig dressing which I will feature next week; and raw, healthy fudge for dessert.