The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


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Lemon Chia Balls

Lemon Chia Balls | The Half-Crunchy MamaI have already shared one of the recipes that I regularly make from from this book, the Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips, but this one is even more popular. I rambled on a bit in that post about the health benefits for chia seeds and why they have become such a thing these days. I don’t like to repeat myself, so please go check that post out for some great information about this great little superfood.

As with all the recipes that I use from other people, there are a few tweaks here and there. The author calls for raw nuts, but that’s just not usually in my budget. I will tell you that regular ones from Trader Joe’s, Costco, or wherever will work fine. Ideally, you want the raw, so if that’s in your budget, go for it!

A great deal that I have been able to get at Costco is on pitted dates. A ginormous three-pound container ended up being about half the cost after doing the math, depending on where you shop. If you see this at your local Costco, pick it up! They were gone last time I went, but I was able to get a huge bag of Kirkland pitted dates for a steal, too. If you are cooking and baking with dates a lot, this is the way to go. Not all dates are equal, and I have only bought and used these or Medjool, so I would steer away from regular “pitted dates” from the store.Lemon Chia Balls | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Why dates? Dates add the sweetness to baked (or no-bake goods in this case) without added sugar. The simple sugars from fruits are less likely to exacerbate your inflammation, acne, etc, and as dates are also high in fiber, they are digested slower than typical sugars to make it easier on your blood sugar. Medjool and other quality dates are also a good source of copper, potassium, magnesium, and manganese that many people are not getting in their diet anymore. Add the benefits of the dates with the protein and healthy fats from the nuts and chia seeds, and this is a satisfying snack for when you want something sweet.

This recipe is so quick, the only annoying part is making the balls. They are so sticky {get your mind out of the gutter} that it makes it a real pain, but they are SO worth it in the end. I promise. Just put everything into a heavy-duty food processor (I specify that because I’m fairly certain that this is what broke my smaller one 😦 ) and once it looks like this, it’s time to make the balls.

Lemon Chia Balls | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture to make each ball. It’s more like smooshing together instead of rolling into balls, and I usually have to rinse my hands a few times during this stage to unstick my hands. As you make each one, roll them in finely shredded coconut to coat them entirely. Don’t use regular shredded coconut as it doesn’t stick well to the balls. I know this from experience. They were still delicious, but they are so much better with a finer shred of dried coconut.
Lemon Chia Balls | The Half-Crunchy Mama

And just look how pretty they are! Everyone loves them, even Sugar Bee, and no one can have just one! They are also trainer approved as I brought two to the gym one day. Try this and see for yourself!

Lemon Chia Balls | The Half-Crunchy Mama


Lemon Chia Balls

Combining the benefits of fiber- and mineral-rich dates with protein and healthy fats from the nuts and chia seeds, you will get a satisfying snack that is perfect for when you want something sweet. This one is loved by everyone and yields about 20 balls.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup almonds (raw, if possible)
  • 1/2 cup cashews (raw, if possible)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (I have found more is better, especially if the nuts are not raw)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3+ Tbsp of finely shredded dried coconut

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients except for coconut in a food processor. Pulse into a coarse and slightly sticky mixture. If too dry, add a bit more lemon juice and process again. If too watery, add a few more nuts and process. (It should stick together when you press it between your fingers.)
  2. Roll about a tablespoon at a time into a ball.
  3. Coat it in coconut.
  4. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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A Half-Crunchy Thanksgiving

If everything had gone according to my plan, this would have been finished up on Tuesday or Wednesday. Life. It gets in the way sometimes. So what am I cooking this year?

For the past several years, we have been celebrating Thanksgiving with Sugar Bee’s Godparents and their boys. They are an extension of our family and we love them very much. What’s even better is that we all eat in a similar way. There’s not a lot of questions about what we can make or what the other family can eat, so it becomes pretty easy to celebrate with them. No awkwardness about our diets, as in the way we nourish our bodies, not a “diet” as most people think. It’s the way we live.

So every year we split up the responsibilities so that neither family is responsible for the entire meal. This year, I am in charge of two desserts, three sides, and biscuits that we can all eat without getting all sorts of digestive issues. I’m throwing this quick post together of what I’m making (some I have already made ahead yesterday…WIN!), so you can pin them for next year. Actually, some of these will get made again for the Christmas season, too 🙂 You can find them all on my Pinterest Holiday board.

Tuesday night, I made the cranberry sauce. It was done in the slow cooker and is Paleo-friendly. YUM! With fresh cranberries, pears, ginger, and orange with honey and coconut sugar to sweeten, this recipe was so easy and is the perfect one for me to bring to dinner. 2014-11-25 19.29.37

2014-11-26 08.51.01

Paleo slow cooker cranberry sauce

The next thing I made is my usual for both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinner, Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole. I LOVE this recipe, not only because it’s super easy and only requires me to dirty my KitchenAid stand mixer (fast cleanup!), but you can assemble this the night before and just finish it off in the oven the next day before dinner.2014-11-26 23.15.31 The next thing that I was able to cross off the list was a request. I made these for the first time last year. They are Pecan Pie Bars from Paleomg and they are amazing! I think that they are going to be even better this year because I made them yesterday, so they have had lots of time to firm up.

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They spent several hours in the freezer yesterday afternoon and they have been in the fridge since last night. Can’t. Wait.

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After getting home from Thanksgiving Eve beverages last night with my friend, I assembled my first ever breakfast casserole. Why in the world have I never made one of these things before?!?! Of course, it’s a gluten-free recipe so Sugar Bee can eat it, and let me tell you…with all the cheesy, bacony goodness, you would never know OR care! Oh my LORD it was good!

2014-11-26 23.13.00I assembled it, covered it, and put it in my garage fridge overnight. When I got up this morning, all I had to do was take it out and leave it on the counter while I preheated the oven. Once the oven reached 325 degrees, this amazing mess was ready for us to eat in less than an hour. Make this. I used the light GF white bread from Whole Foods because I figured that the consistency of their gluten-free bread would be perfect and I was 100% right. This one is a keeper!

2014-11-27 09.17.59Now for the things that I have left to make. (I will try and remember to update this post tonight or tomorrow with pictures of my finished products.)

This will be my second dessert, Crustless Pumpkin Pie by Gluten Free Easily. I’m really looking forward to this one!

My other side is going to be Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables. I’ve been making this other dish for holiday dinners for the past several years, Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Glaze. I decided to try one of the others that I saved and have never tried. Here’s the recipe for the honeyed version.

The last thing that I will be making are GF biscuits. I have made these before with a great mix that I buy at Aldi. It calls for shortening (yuck), so I will be swapping that out with some expeller-pressed coconut oil. Expeller-pressed doesn’t have the coconut flavor that could ruin the biscuit taste. This is the one that I use.2014-11-27 11.55.25Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I will be getting back to more regular posts now that life and travel have both calmed down. Whew! October and November kept me BUSY!! Have a blessed day!!

***UPDATED***December 2, 2014

A few more pictures….

The Honey Root Veggies were so good that my husband only got leftovers the first night. I ate all the rest.

2014-11-27 15.32.40

This is the crustless pumpkin pie. Oh. My. God. As my friend said, it was so good that you really don’t even miss the crust. It was just incredible. And easy! Mine looks much darker than in the photo from the posted recipe, but I think this is because I didn’t use fresh pumpkin and I don’t really measure spices.

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No picture of the biscuits (although they looked the same as when I made them a few months ago and posted on Instagram), but I advise to either add flavor to them if using the expeller-pressed coconut oil over the shortening, or use Kerrygold butter in place of the shortening like I did the first time. They still had a great texture, but no flavor. At all. We have been putting Nutella on all the leftover ones, so they are still getting eaten.

Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine!


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A Twist on Gram’s Tuna Salad

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Me and Gram in her kitchen – circa 2003

Gram was a Depression-era kid. She knew how to make the best and most delicious things out of anything and wasted nothing. Her soups, egg sammies, applesauce, chicken paprikash (BEST. EVER.), and her tuna salad are the first ones to come to mind. As I mentioned in the post for my Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata, I often feel like she’s with me in the kitchen. As the anniversary of her passing is coming up (has it really been 5 years?!), I thought this would be a good time to share my Gram-inspired tuna salad recipe. She always made the best tuna salad and I was privy to a few of her “secret” ingredients. Through the years I have made some of my own twists to the recipe, but I always think of her when I’m making a batch. The Russian loves when I make it, often asking for it, so I usually make 2-3 cans at a time. It still doesn’t last and I’m lucky to see half of it. But that is what makes me happy…content bellies full of my food.

A word about the tuna I use. I no longer splurge on the white albacore filet kind. What I have learned is that you should look for the cheap stuff that is made from baby tuna. They have had less exposure to the environment, so the theory is that they will have less toxic things in them, like mercury(1),(2). So I get the huge pack of cans from Costco of regular old Chicken of the Sea chunk light in water. Or whatever is on sale at the supermarket. It’s best to pick up tuna in water in order to retain most of the naturally occurring omega-3s in the fish. When it’s packed in oil, the omegas can leach out into the oil (oil to oil) and you end up pouring this down the drain, but when packed in water, the omega oils stay with the fish – oil and water don’t mix.

On to the recipe. I vary this off and on based on my mood, but this is a good base recipe. Leave out anything you don’t like and add in things that you think would make it better. I love to play around with canned tuna and salmon, switching things up now and then to play around. Here are the basics: tuna, celery, onion, mayo, Dijon, horseradish, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Gram used to add pickle juice (one of the “secrets”) and I do the same if I have some in the fridge. The veggies are the key. Gram always used fresh vegetables in everything and what a difference they make to the flavor. In a pinch, I have added celery flakes and dried onion pieces from the spice cabinet along with some pickle relish, but fresh is always best.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Celery is one of those things that I only buy organic. Because of this, it doesn’t always last as long and it sometimes looks a little uglier than the rest at the store. If there are some ugly spots, I just shave the celery with a peeler and then it’s perfect and ready to use.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 Take the cans, drain them, and put them in a large bowl to flake with a fork.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

I LOVE my mini chopper that I have shared with you in the past. This cuts down chopping time and makes the celery and onions come out so finely diced that they blend perfectly with the tuna. Chop up 2-3 stalks of chopped celery (don’t forget the leaves as they add lots of extra flavor!) and a good half of a onion. Add them to the tuna and combine. I like to combine a few things at a time because I feel that it mixes better.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Then add a few tablespoons of chopped parsley. Stir again.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

For three cans, I add about 2-3 teaspoons of horseradish, 2-3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and several tablespoons of mayo…maybe 4? I’m sorry, but in case you haven’t learned by now, I am not much of a slave to measurements while I’m cooking. This is why I don’t care much for baking. It’s too rigid and I can’t be free to play. And this picture was the first round of condiment additions…I pretty much doubled what you see here after tasting. Then came the garlic powder, salt and pepper, also done to taste. I would guess a good 1+ teaspoon of each. Taste and find what works for you.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

So many ways to eat tuna salad. You can put it on a salad of greens, in a wrap, on bread with tomato and cheese and then broiled…mmm…I love tuna melts. Or try one of the following options. I ended up putting a slice of cheese on this oversized tuna cracker because cheese is my downfall.

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Served on one of Gram’s plates. I inherited the set 🙂

The next day, I hollowed out this amazing tomato form the market, filled it with the tuna salad, put a slice of cheddar on top, and baked it in my toaster oven, finishing it off with a quick broil at the end to brown the cheese a little. Yum!

A twist on Gram's Tuna Salad | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Another serving option


 A Twist on Gram’s Tuna Salad

Following in the footsteps of my Gram, I whip up some pretty darn good tuna salads. Here is one of my many versions that I wanted to share. So many variations and different ways to eat tuna. This recipe is for three cans, but you can easily cut the quantities if you are only making one or two cans. I hope you like it!

INGREDIENTS

  • Three cans of chunk light tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 2-3 stalks of finely chopped celery, including leaves
  • Generous half of a sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tsp of horseradish
  • 2-3 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 4-5 Tbsp of mayonnaise
  • 1+ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine flaked tuna with celery and onion. Then add chopped parsley and stir to combine.
  2. Add the horseradish, Dijon, and mayo, stirring well until evenly distributed.
  3. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, tasting to find what works for you.
  4. Make a melt, a green salad, a wrap, or whatever comes to mind. Enjoy!


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Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata

I love channeling my Gram in the kitchen when I use her old cast iron skillet. In fact, there are a lot of times that I’m cooking when I feel like she’s with me, especially around the holidays. I have several of her pans and skillets, but this cast iron one is by far my favorite. I miss her a lot (she passed in 2009, just shy of her 93rd birthday), but I feel her presence every time I use it. My mom says that my fried egg sandwiches taste just like Gram’s and that is the best compliment ever. I don’t use this skillet as often as I should and would like to, but it’s the best thing for frittatas, frying foods (not that I do that very often), and cooking/braising meat. It’s 10.5 inches across and 2 inches deep. Made in the USA, as was almost everything back then.

In case you missed my Cheesy Broccoli Egg Muffins post, breakfast is my favorite type of food and I would eat it all day long if I could. My favorite way to eat breakfast for dinner, or brinner, is in the form of a frittata. To me, frittatas are so much tastier than an omelette and way healthier than a quiche. And you can make up any kind of frittata combinations you want! Trust me, I do it all the time. This combination was created based on what was in the fridge since I was feeling too lazy to get to the store. We love all salmon, especially lox, and I usually have a thing or two of goat cheese in the drawer. Easy peasy.

The easiest way that I have found to deal with packaged lox (the pieces can be very sticky to each other) is to take the slab of slices and cut them all in long strips.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Then I loosen them up and separate them as best as I can. I hate when they all clump together in the egg mix and you are left with huge bites of smoked salmon in random places of the frittata and nowhere else.
Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 The same thing goes for the goat cheese. I have struggled a few times with how to handle the brick of cheese that I usually have in the fridge. Of course if you buy or have goat cheese that is already crumbled, this next part won’t apply, but it’s cheaper to purchase this way and now I have a trick to share.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

I cut it up while it’s still in the package. Goat cheese is so soft and very difficult to cut no matter what way you want it to be, so I have learned to do it this way if I want it to be close to the size of crumbles. I make cuts both vertically and horizontally in the package, and everything stays in the plastic until I’m ready to dump it in. It still isn’t as perfect as prepackaged crumbles, but you never know what else might be included in those packages to keep the cheese clumps all nicely separated.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Now I’ll talk about my butter. Unless I’m about to do a bunch of baking for a party or something that will involve a lot of butter, I usually only purchase Kerrygold from the store. If you have time and patience to make your own or spend extra pennies on something better, by all means. For me and my cheap, half-crunchy bum, I’ll go with this one. And I swear it tastes different than the rest of the ones in the dairy case at your regular supermarket. When using cast iron, I don’t bother with anything of low quality. My pan is perfectly seasoned and I’m afraid of using anything that isn’t close to what it has been used to its whole life. You know, like food. Not “organic,” not “non-GMO,” not “grass-fed,” “free-range,” or “rBGH-free” because these things never existed back in Gram’s day. Animals and crops were naturally raised and we dealt with bugs and disease. People still ate. Farmers were respected. People didn’t have all sorts of crazy allergies to food and the environment, and the general population was not nearly as sick as we are today. Okay, I’m getting off my soap box now. Sometimes I just have to rant and get this stuff out.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Back to the recipe. After prepping the salmon and cheese, it’s time to get going on the onion and garlic. Chop a small onion finely and mince two cloves of fresh garlic. Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute about 3 minutes.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 While they are sauteing, whisk 10 eggs in a large bowl with 1/4 milk, if you do dairy, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. If you don’t do milk and have nothing else to add in its place, use a tablespoon or two of water to help make the eggs fluffy. Add the sliced smoked salmon, the goat cheese, and 2-3 Tbsp dried dill (fresh is WAY better if you have it, but I was all out) to the egg mixture.  Pour egg mixture over the onions and garlic, slightly stirring to combine.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until the edges start to firm and climb up the side of the pan a little and bubbles start to appear.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 Transfer it to an oven preheated to 350ºF and bake for about 25 minutes. It should look nice and golden on the top when finished, and a toothpick should come out clean from the middle.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

Slice and serve! It goes well with a nice green salad with a mild dressing.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama

 One last shot to show how well a wonderfully seasoned pan can work. It helps that this pan is older than me and that I have loved on it just as my Gram did. Once you get used to using one, you will be in love as much as I am.

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Frittata | The Half-Crunchy Mama


 Salmon Goat Cheese Frittata

This simple recipe can help you get dinner on the table in about 35 minutes with very little prep work. It goes well with a small side salad for dinner, and the leftovers are great for any meal!

INGREDIENTS
  • 6 ounce package of smoked salmon, sliced into small strips
  • 4 ounce package of goat cheese, cut into small pieces (or packaged crumbles)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter, lard, or oil of your choice
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 milk (or other liquid, I’ve only used water)
  • 2-3 Tbsp dill (dried, but fresh would be better)
  • 1/4+ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8+ tsp fresh ground pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a deep or large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Once melted, saute onions and garlic for about three minutes.
  3. While onions and garlic saute, whisk together the eggs and milk/liquid, salt, and pepper. Add salmon, cheese, and dill to the eggs and stir to combine.
  4. Pour egg mixture over the onions and garlic, give a quick stir, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the edges start to firm and climb up the pan and bubbles start to form.
  5. Transfer pan to the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Serve with a lightly dressed green salad. Enjoy!


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Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips

I have two very good friends of mine that have embarked on their own healing journey after (finally) listening to me and going to my naturopath.  I have some stubborn friends…that I love to death..and their stubbornness is working in their favor. My voodoo doc is really so incredible and I’m beyond thankful for all she has done for me and my family, and now I have been witnessing theCinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips | The Half-Crunchy Mama transformation within these two fantastic and important women in my life.

Their journeys are very different from mine, yet I have tried to give them all the support that I can. My journey was difficult for very different reasons and I didn’t have anyone aside from The Russian (who thought I was even crazier for a bit) and my mom who was all the way back in New York to lean on for support and understanding. I hope that I have helped raise these women up to meet their challenges as they are both very dear to my heart. For some, the natural path can be extremely difficult to walk. Especially when there are serious things to deal with.

Even though I have dietary things to follow (and I’ve been slacking lately and feel like crap), nothing compares to what these two have been dealing with. Interestingly enough, they are ridiculously similar in the way they need to eat, probably for the rest of their lives. I’m used to eating and making strange things for meals and snacks, so I always look forward to getting together with either of their families because with all of our dietary restrictions, we all eat the same way and there are no stupid questions asked like, “What are you eating these days?” or “Why can’t you eat (insert whatever)?” when trying to plan the menu and who is bringing what. No embarrassment, no feelings of needing to explain ourselves, just feelings of acceptance and a level of comfort that puts us all at ease.

So the reason for my post. These two can’t eat much these days. One of them is a lot farther along in her healing and has started adding some foods back in, but there are lots of things that will probably never re-enter her diet. And for my other friend…what a trooper she is trying to be. She keeps testing the limits of her “new” body, but finds out rather quickly that she needs to cut the crap out and find other ways to fulfill her cravings. This is where I come in. Or at least I’m hoping to.

Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips | The Half-Crunchy Mama

This past May, my gym had a contest going called “The Biggest Mover.” It was to see who attended the most classes for a month or something, I really don’t remember the rules, but all you had to do was have your instructor initial a paper and then you drop it in a box on the way out. Sure, why not? The first week (I think it ran for 6 weeks), I won that week’s prize. I think that was a random drawing, but I won a nifty gym bag that I have been using since.

I ended up winning the whole damn thing and my prize was the basket in this picture. I was actually pretty excited about it. The loot was 4 cans of coconut water (I don’t like plain ones, but whatever), a bag of goji berries, a bag of golden berries, a bag of shelled hemp seeds, a bag of chia seeds, and a great little cookbook. I have been playing around with the recipes when I have time, and have been hopeful to give my friend some snacking ideas. This one was a big hit with my other friend’s family, and mine.

So I thought she could eat sweet potatoes, but as I was writing this, she tells me she’s going to try and pull them. WTH? I’m putting this out there for her and all my Paleo folks as they are allowed sweets, as I like to call them. I literally told her in our Facebook message, “Maybe with the spices and chia seeds, you can handle them as those additions should handle the inflammation that it casuses. Just my uneducated-i’m-not-a-doctor-but-know-some-things opinion.” Then she reminded me that she can’t do ANY seeds. BULLSH#T! So of course she will leave them out, as will any of you that need to follow the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol for anyone that doesn’t know what that means) diet. Regardless of her leaving them out, at least she can quickly and easily make a potato chip that will satisfy both the need for sweet and salty, with a crunch!

There are a few other recipes from this book that I will be sharing as I work through the book and tweak ones as I see fit. One in particular has been a BIG hit with my other friend’s family and my own, and another I have fixed up a little to be easier to work with and enjoy. Stay tuned for more tasty recipes that can be traced back to this book.

Why chia seeds? Rich in fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants, and amino acids, and almost all the carbs in them count as fiber.

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

Chia can aid in weight loss as they can help reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper. They can help you feel fuller faster because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel. They are often used as hydration for athletes because the “chia gel” can hydrate the body. They may reduce your blood pressure as evidence has suggested that they can reduce blood pressure. They are rich in Omega-3s, and are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon! They can also be beneficial for diabetics because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, and studies indicate they can control blood sugar, leading scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics. And they are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground up. Give them a try! Add them to yogurt, smoothies, baked goods, anything that you can think of. They are annoying and a pain to clean up (not to mention they can hang out in your teeth – pet peeve!), but they are worth it!


Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips

This is a great sweet and slightly salty, crunchy treat to replace store-bought potato chips. I go a little overboard on the spice quantities because we like flavor in this house. Figure out how spicy you want to make them. These are cheap, fast, and easy to make, and barely make it through the day in our house!

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 lb)
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Few pinches of sea salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.
  2. Peel the potatoes and slice into paper-thin disks, or however thin you can get them. A mandoline would probably be best for this. (I had success using the flat blade from my spiralizer after using a hand-held mandoline slicer last time that made the chips a little too thick and chewy.)
  3. In a large bowl, coat the potato disks with the EVOO and chia seeds. In a small bowl, combine all the spices.
  4. Spread the chips out in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet(s) and sprinkle the seasoning over them, and then sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp, flipping about halfway through. (I seem to end up baking between 30-35 minutes, so the time depends on your oven and how thick they end up being.)
  6. Store in an airtight container, if you don’t eat them all before nightfall. Enjoy!

Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Chips | The Half-Crunchy Mama


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Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle (yes, it’s gluten free!)

How I came up with this recipe is twofold. It was partially due to what I was craving and knew I had in the house, and the rest was inspired by a recipe used for the photo on this box of pasta. I had found myself scoping out the egg pastas as I was craving some egg noodles, hoping to find some gluten-free ones so that Sugar Bee would be able to eat whatever I ended up making. All of the ones at the particular store I was at contained wheat. This was my very first time trying this brand (whether egg or plain pasta) and the success from this meal was the reason I ended up using this brand for my Eggplant Ragout one night. My thoughts that I shared in that post about choosing the spaghetti are identical to when I first picked this box up. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this was my first experience with Jovial pasta, but egg pasta IS different from regular (as regular as GF can be), so I think those thoughts are still valid here. I took one look at the box and between the “100% organic” and “Product of Italy” on the label, I was sold. Italians know what they are doing with pasta, glutened or not.

Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle - The Half-Crunchy Mama

Upon further inspection of the recipe on the box, I realized I had most of the ingredients at home and I could make a dish like this with minimal investment during this trip to the store. I was getting close to payday, so of course I was short on funds and looking to maximize my spending. This was so cheap, fast, and easy…just how I like my weeknight meals to be.

I took a large zucchini and julienned it, giving me about 3 cups of shredded zucchini. Then I sliced a sweet onion into pieces that mimicked the shreds. That was the extent of my prep work.

I melted 3 tablespoons of Kerrygold butter in a pan over medium heat. I threw in the onion and about 2 teaspoons of minced garlic from a jar, and sauteed for about 2 minutes. I threw in the zucchini shreds and about a cup and a half of  matchstick organic carrots from a bag (no prep!), tossing everything in the butter to coat. After adding some sea salt and fresh ground pepper, I let this all cook for about three minutes until the veggies started to soften a little, but kept their bright colors. I removed the veggie mixture from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving behind any leftover butter drippings.

Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle - The Half-Crunchy Mama

 I cooked the pasta according to the directions on the box and then returned the saute pan to the stove over low heat. I added 3/4 cup of regular whipping cream and a cup and a half of grated Parmesan-Pecorino cheese, stirring until the cheese had melted. I then returned the veggies to the pan, tossing to coat them well in the creamy cheese sauce.

After cooking and draining the pasta, I returned the noodles to the pot and poured the creamy veggie sauce over them, combining well to plate a perfect summer pasta dish.

Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle - The Half-Crunchy Mama

 The absolute best part? This dish reheated PERFECTLY, unlike a typical Alfredo or cream sauce that you would make for a pasta dish. Bonus!

Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle - The Half-Crunchy Mama

 


Creamy Veggie Tagliatelle

A jazzed-up version of a recipe on a box of pasta, with extra cheese, added garlic, and lighter cream. I would think you could serve this over spaghetti squash, too, in case you are living completely grain free.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (I used jarred)
  • 1 large zucchini, julienned (about 3 cups)
  • 1.5 cups matchstick carrots (bagged is perfect)
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (heavy cream not necessary)
  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan-Pecorino cheese
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the zucchini, carrots, salt, and pepper, and toss well to combine and coat in butter. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Cook the GF tagliatelle according to package directions. When finished, drain and return to pot.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, return the saute pan to stove over low heat. Add the cream and grated cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted. Return the veggie mixture to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce, heating until warmed through.
  5. Pour creamy veggie sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine well. Serve and enjoy! (Even leftover!)


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Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

My creation for dinner Saturday night. A bag of frozen cooked shrimp, a few zucchini, some fresh herbs, and items that are always in the house gave birth to deliciousness.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

As I mentioned in my post for Creamy Zucchini Noodles, I love my spiral slicer. We love zucchini noodles and they are a healthy alternative to pasta for whole food and grain-free diets. So I made some noodles.

I took this next picture to share with you another of my favorite kitchen tools, the Microplane grater. I zested the whole lemon before squeezing all the juice, using both for the sauce.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

 Aside from making the noodles and handling the lemon, the only prep that was needed was getting the garlic ready for the mincer. My favorite kind of meals are ones that are fast, cheap, and easy. This one checks all of those boxes.

As usual, I tossed the noodles in olive oil that was preheated in a skillet over medium heat. I shook some salt and fresh ground pepper over it and cooked them for about 5 minutes until they softened, but were still a little firm. I removed the pan from the burner and set it aside.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

 Then it was time for the sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter (I use Kerrygold) over medium-low heat and then added 6 cloves of freshly minced garlic, cooking for about 2 minutes. Then I added 1/4 cup of white wine, the lemon juice, and zest, bringing it to a boil.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

After about a minute or two of boiling, I added the thawed shrimp. I heated the shrimp in the sauce over medium until they were heated through. (You can tell when they are heated enough when they have shrunk a little and the sauce starts to boil again.) I removed the shrimp from the pan with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Then I added a tablespoon of gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill), whisking constantly to combine. I also added a little salt and fresh pepper after the flour.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

Once the sauce had thickened, I returned the shrimp to the pan and coated them in the buttery lemon sauce.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

I threw in about 2 tablespoons each of freshly chopped parsley and basil from the garden, tossing well to coat the shrimp.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

I divided the zucchini noodles into our bowls and topped them with the Lemony Shrimp Scampi. Oh. my. It was so good that this is the fastest turnaround for a recipe post from me. Ever.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi


Lemony Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Scampi

The amount of shrimp should probably be for three servings, but I only had two servings of noodles (portion size is not something the Russian and I do well), so I would suggest that you add another zucchini to the noodles if you don’t want to eat 6 ounces of shrimp in one meal. Another thought that I had was it may not be easy to find a 12 ounce package of shrimp, so if you can only find a 16 ounce one, use two additional zucchini and increase all the sauce ingredients slightly. If you are friend of mine, you can probably eat the portions that this recipe makes – perfect for two!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles with a spiral slicer (or julienne peeler)
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 6 cloves of garlic, freshly minced
  • 1/4 c white wine, preferably on the dry side
  • Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (about 2 1/2 Tbsp)
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 12 ounce package of frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper to pan and toss to coat. Cook for 5 minutes until noodles have softened, but are still firm and bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in another skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for about two minutes until garlic is soft and fragrant, but not browned. Add wine, lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a boil and cook for about 1 minute.
  3. Turn heat to medium and add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Cook until heated through (when visibly shrinking and liquid starts to boil again). Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add flour, salt and pepper (to taste) to the lemon butter sauce and whisk constantly until flour dissolves and sauce thickens.
  5. Return shrimp to pan, add fresh herbs, and toss to coat.
  6. Serve zucchini noddles topped with shrimp, drizzling extra sauce over the top. Enjoy!