Easy Lunch/Snack: Rice Cakes, Sprouts and Tuna

In addition to eating healthier in 2017, I am trying to minimize our weekly grocery expenses. I am always looking for fun ways to spice up our meals while still staying close to a budget. The other weekend I was so bored with everything in our refrigerator and I decided to make a makeshift sandwich out of rice cakes and tuna. The end product looked pretty pinterest-worthy and also tasted great. Thought I’d share for some weekday or weeknight inspiration.

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Rice Cake, Sprouts and Tuna Ingredients:

  • 2 Rice Cakes
  • 1 Can of Tuna
  • 1 tbsp of Chipotle Mayo (Vegan – I like the Just Mayo brand)
  • 1/2 of a Celery Stalk (diced)
  • 1/4 of an Avocado
  • 1 Cup of Wilted Spinach
  • Organic Radish Sprouts (other sprouts are perfectly fine but I like the little kick that radishes provide)

This recipe doesn’t require much prep work except to warm up and wilt the spinach. This is super easy to put together on a weeknight when cooking feels like the last thing you want to do. Simply stack all the ingredients on the rice cake in the order you see fit and then you have a fun dish to eat!

 

 

 

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Summer Cookies!

This one’s a quick one, guys. For me, summer is a time to be outside, and I eat as much raw food as possible during the hot months because a) it’s quick, light, and cool, and b) it somehow just feels right to spend as little time as possible at the stove/oven. But since I still want to bake on a weekly basis, I look for fast, easy, and delicious recipes in the summer months.

Enter the super fast Lemon Ginger cookie! These cookies are light, melty, and delicious! They are also vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and have no refined sugar. They’re perfect ice-cream companions, too!

lemon_cookie

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (I used even less)
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Grated fresh ginger to taste
  • 1 and 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/8 t salt
  1. Mix the coconut oil, honey, lemon zest, ginger, and lemon juice.
  2. Slowly add the almond meal, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. The batter will be soft.
  3. Let the batter sit for five minutes and then refrigerate it for another 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. On a lined baking sheet, form 6-9 cookies and bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to another rack. They are pretty soft but firm up as they cool.

(recipe adapted from http://www.texanerin.com/paleo-lemon-cookie/#recipe)

Smores

 

Gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free

Cost of Ingredients: $ /$$         Time: 10 minutes

Smores truly don’t require a recipe, but camping with allergies can be a bit complicated, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on this delicious summer treat. It took a bit of planning, but after several trips to the grocery store I was prepared for a weekend in the woods with friends. Of course we ended up bringing more food than we needed, but I would rather carry a bit more than go hungry!

In addition to normal Smores ingredients (graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate), I also bought some slightly fancier chocolate that is allergy friendly (no dairy or soy lecithin). I couldn’t find gluten free graham crackers that are also dairy free, so I bought gf/dairy free ginger snaps (Mary’s Gone Crackers makes some great ones). The hint of ginger worked really well with the slightly minty dark chocolate I used, and of course the perfectly toasted gooey marshmallow.

Sometimes it’s ok to try a new take on an old favorite. I think we will make more on our grill next weekend, I’m sure they’ll be just as good in our driveway as they were by the fire in the woods! And the flavor combinations are endless! What kinds of cookie/chocolate combinations would you try? Let us know in the comments!

Nina’s Pantry Staples

Here is part 3 of our pantry staple series!

I (Nina) have a pretty long list of food intolerances, but the main things I try to stay away from completely are dairy, gluten/wheat, and soy. I try to bring lunches to one of my jobs, and on days that I spend in the studio I make lunch at home. My other job is at a restaurant, so I don’t usually bring food there, but it also means I’m not cooking on those nights. But when I do cook I generally make as much as possible from scratch, and I try to use local ingredients when possible.

Here are some of my staple ingredients. It was actually quite difficult to narrow it down, there are a lot of things I use regularly (and many of them are already on Annika and Marissa‘s lists).

chickpeas

  1. Chickpeas: So versatile! I often make a coconut curry with these, some coconut cream (see below), curry and other spices, and spinach. Great for lunch on a cold day!

coconut cream

2. Coconut cream: I don’t know how I would cook without this. It’s creamy and not super sweet, so it works in savory sauces (it does require a bit more adjusting than heavy cream or sour cream would, but it works), dishes like creamed spinach or corn, and when cold it can be whipped for dessert or turned into chocolate mousse. It’s a bit thicker than canned coconut milk, and while that means it has a bit more fat, I think it’s absolutely worth it!

eggs

3. Eggs: (I’m sorry, Marissa!) I stayed away from eggs for a year and a half before reintroducing them, and aside from cheese (which I still miss dearly), they were the thing I missed the most. I usually just soft-boil or poach them and eat with roasted potatoes, or hard-boil them to put on a salad. Eating eggs also means I can eat mayo again (at least the whole foods store brand, because it doesn’t use soy oil, unlike most regular mayo brands), which is great in dressings and when making spicy mayo or aioli to have with french fries, which leads me to the next number:

potatoes

4. Potatoes: (Confession: I think french fries are my favorite food). Potatoes are so versatile, I think I could eat them every day. Roasted with herbs, as gnocchi, or mashed (try adding a bit of coconut cream when mashing them), they’re amazing. And since I can’t eat wheat, they’re a solid starch that replaces bread or pasta as a side.

honey

5. Honey: I don’t think I’ve ever not had honey in my pantry. These days I eat it with a little peanut butter on rice cakes (both also staples), and put it in tea. And sometimes you just need a spoonful to make the day better. I also eat local bee pollen regularly, to help with my seasonal allergies.

Do you have any staples you can’t live without?

Rosemary Syrup

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free

Cost of Ingredients: $          Time: 30 mins

rosemary syrup 1

As a former bartender, I often try to think of ways to make simple drinks a little more interesting. I recently bought some habanero shrub that adds a great bit of spice to a smokey mezcal margarita. In the winter I make various spice syrups that work equally well in an old fashioned or a latte. But these days it’s starting to feel like summer around here, and one of my warm weather go-to drinks is a cold gin and tonic, preferably with lime and lemon (yes, both, try it, you won’t regret it!).

rosemary syrup 3

While I try to grow my own herbs often, I seem to have no green thumb at all, so when we bought a grill recently (stay tuned for food recipes using this new gadget!) I decided to buy some herbs to add to our dinner. While my partner was cooking outside, I prepped some quick cocktails to enjoy in the sunshine.

rosemary syrup 2

Simple syrup is just that, super simple. Combine equal parts water and sugar, and heat until dissolved. Once cooled, store in a jar or bottle in the fridge. This is a great way to sweeten iced coffee without ending up with a layer of sugar granules in the bottom of the cup. And it’s a great way to add a variety of flavors to drinks!

rosemary syrup 4

I let this mixture just barely boil before taking it off the heat to cool down. The rosemary infuses as the mixture cools, and it will be ready to use in about 30 minutes.

rosemary syrup 6

The syrup will keep for a week or two in the fridge, so I make small amounts to make sure I use it all up. A one cup of each of water and sugar fit perfectly in these little bottles, and they make pouring the finished syrup mess-free.

rosemary syrup 7

I didn’t have any fresh lemons and limes on hand when I made this G and T the other night, but the rosemary syrup added a nice bit of earthy and fresh flavor.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar*

1 cup water

herbs of your choosing**

  1. Add water to pot, turn to medium heat.
  2. Add sugar and herbs.
  3. Heat until just barely boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and let infuse and cool for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Strain into bottle or jar.
  6. Mix drinks and enjoy! ***

*I used white granulated sugar for this one, brown sugar also works well, the syrup will be a bit darker in color and have a bit more of a caramel flavor. Honey is also an option!

**I used a few sprigs of fresh rosemary in this version, but feel free to experiment! Lavender makes a great floral simple syrup, make a citrus version with orange and grapefruit peels (remove as much of the pith as you can), add a few drops of rosewater, or use some fresh sage leaves. Let me know what combinations you come up with! When it gets colder outside I’ll make sure to post the cinnamon spice syrup recipe, too.

***In a 16oz glass with a few ice cubes, add 1.5 to 2 oz of gin (Hendricks is great, but Tanqueray is our less expensive go-to, if you can find it, Half Moon Orchard Gin is my favorite!), add few slices of lemon and lime (or a splash or two of lime juice) and top with tonic water.

Traveling with Food Restrictions

Eating nutritious food while traveling is difficult enough when you don’t have any allergies, but throw in a few food restrictions, and it gets infinitely more complicated. I have my fair share of junk food cravings while on a road trip, and always want something salty when flying, so the key to enjoying any trip (and not getting hangry!) is being prepared.

One thing I try to always have in my purse is Cashew Cookie Larabars (I get them here and I’m pretty sure I packed about 10 of them for this trip, with allergies, you never know if a wedding buffet will have the right food!). They are made from only cashews and dates, have a bit of sweetness, and are filling enough for in-between meals. They are a life-saver during a busy shift at a restaurant, a traffic jam, and when we got stuck overnight in the delta terminal at the Detroit airport recently.

Turns out spending the night in a terminal is not as much fun as Tom Hanks made it out to be! And while we didn’t get much sleep, we managed not to go hungry, despite the lack of actual restaurants that are open past 10 in that particular airport (we arrived at 10:30, and due to a rain-delay and missed connection stayed until 5am). Luckily one newsstand was still open when we got there, so we stocked up on some overpriced snacks to make it through the night. I thought I had prepared well enough by bringing my own snacks, but I had been prepared for a 6 hour trip, not a 24 hour trip…

In addition to the Larabars I had brought some salted pistachios. I’m allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, so despite wanting the variety of a bag of mixed nuts, I opt for the more boring but safe single variety. One way to still have some variety is to buy the smaller bags of various nuts or seeds, but even when buying these ahead of time at my local grocery store the price adds up. So single variety it is!

Pistachios and granola bars do not make a meal, so I picked up some sea salt Pop Chips at the newsstand. I generally don’t travel with crushable snacks, who wants a bag of chip crumbles? But arriving in Detroit hungry, having missed dinner due to the delayed flight, I wanted something in addition to the pistachios. The pop chips are simple, but they are not as high in calories as some other chips, and the ingredients are simple enough to be safe. Another brand I love is Food Should Taste Good. Just salty enough, and a variety of options without unnecessary ingredients.

To add in some variety, and balance the salt with some sweet, I also bought a bag of gummy bears (actually this was a mixed bag of bears and worms, yes, I felt like such an adult sitting in an airport terminal at 3 am eating gummy worms!). I had meant to bring some coconut caramels that I recently found here. But they accidentally spent the weekend in my kitchen cupboard. So the gummy worms hit the spot.

I also packed a few Justin’s single serving peanut butter pouches, which almost replace a meal with Suzie’s thin rice cakes (here). Because we were flying I didn’t bring the rice cakes (again, crumbles, but they are great for a road trip!), so I had a packet of peanut butter with a Larabar as an early breakfast around 4am.

Fresh fruit would be another great thing to bring (though make sure to pack bananas in a container to prevent banana puree in your purse), but I have allergies to most fresh fruit that travel easily (apples and various other stone fruit). So while my terminal meal was not the healthiest, I managed to replace dinner with some travel snacks that weren’t completely terrible for me.

Packing snacks is much easier for a road trip, where space isn’t limited to what you can (and want to) carry in your purse for hours at a time. In addition to something sweet and something salty I always make sure to bring seltzer water. The bubbles help keep motion sickness at bay, at least for normal trips, driving on curving mountain roads requires a little extra help.

Do you have any trips planned for the summer? What’s your go-to road food?