Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

The sauce in this recipe was one of those lick-the-plate kinds for me. It was the perfect blend of rich tomato flavor, spice, and creaminess. Though there is a small amount of prep work involved, the sauce and nut cream can be made a day ahead, so the next day you can have a meal ready in 30 min! (My favorite kind of meal!)

Some notes about the ingredients I used:
I made this recipe with 8 chicken breast tenderloins, which I thought seemed equivalent to 4 chicken breasts at the time, but I ended up with much more sauce than was appropriate for the amount of chicken. Hence, the potatoes. So as you'll see below, I put what was originally listed along with what I did. I had so much sauce that I needed to spread it out by mixing in something else, so I boiled some diced potatoes until they were just tender and mixed those in. (You want the potatoes just soft enough for fork to easily puncture; you don't want them to be super soft, because then they turn to mush when you mix them in). Anyways, potatoes are beside the point of this post. (If you're really interested, if you ask me, I will be happy to explain the potato bit more). Onto the deliciousness of the masala sauce!

I tagged this as vegetarian and vegan because this could easily be adapted, taking out the chicken and replacing it with vegetables, legumes, seitan, tempeh, or whatever meatless protein or starch you prefer. I am not too familiar with tofu products and seitan, but I'm sure you can find something on the web where it explains how to sauté or otherwise prepare these to be incorporated into a recipe. 

Makes 4 servings


  • 8 chicken breast tenderloins, cubed  [original: 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed*]
  • 2 medium potatoes [original did not call for this]
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

[*If you go with the 4 chicken breasts, don't bother with the potatoes]

Masala sauce:
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 hot cherry chili peppers, deseeded, chopped (2-3 tbsp, or to taste) (these are technically 'medium' hotness, as a reference for substitutions)
  • 3 garlic cloves (1 tbsp minced)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled, grated
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala (spice blend)
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-1/2 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan, non-dairy margarine)
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro OR 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Additional/optional garnishes:
  • chopped roasted cashews
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Puree masala sauce ingredients, from tomato paste to the olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan (preferably one with a thick bottom for more even cooking) on the stove, medium heat. Cook chicken, stirring to turn over pieces occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until outside is lightly browned.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high, and mix in the masala sauce. Bring to a low bubble, then reduce heat to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. If sauce gets too dry, add a little water. Stir often to avoid burning the sauce on the bottom. 
  4. When chicken has cooked through, mix in the cashew cream, and cook through on low for several more minutes. 
  5. Serve hot with rice or vegetables. Optional: Sprinkle with chopped cashews and/or cilantro.

I have only skimmed the cookbook that has the original recipe, but I bought it as an ebook and even though it's a small book, it's full of recipes that actually seem doable, not full of complicated ingredients, techniques, etc. as some special dietary (gluten-free) cooking sometimes appears. And they all look delicious, of course, too!

Cheetham, G. (2011). Simply gluten-free & dairy-free: Breakfasts, lunches, treats, dinners, desserts. London, U.K: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cashew Nut Cream

I used this recipe to make the Vanilla Cashew Cream variation, for my strawberry muffins, but it can be a neutral creamy base for many other ideas. I think it tastes just like regular dairy cream, only thicker. It is not heavy like a nut butter; it's surprisingly light, and has that creamy richness of dairy cream. Using different herb/spice blends, you could probably make this into a variety of different vegan 'cream' sauces. I made this to be used later in a chicken tikka masala recipe, but since I couldn't wait to eat some, I mixed some up with a little vanilla and stevia, to make my breakfast muffin extra special.

Basically all you have to do is soak raw cashews in cold water over night, and then in the morning, drain & rinse them. Then purée them in the food processor with some water until it completely smooth. It's that easy! 

Cashew Nut Cream
Makes about 2 cups 

1.5 cups raw cashews*
3/4 cup cold water

1. Put cashews in a bowl and fill with enough cold water to cover them. Cover and let soak overnight/12 hrs.
2. Drain and rinse cashews. Add to food processor. Start running processor, and slowly stream in 3/4 cup cold water. Continue to purée until smooth, periodically stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. 

*Depending on the recipe you want to use this for, you could sub in roasted cashews, but I would suggest not using salted ones  

Vanilla variation:
For 1 big dollop

1.5 tbsp cashew nut cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp stevia

Recipes using Cashew Nut Cream:

Strawberry Chia Seed Muffins
Chicken Tikka Masala (coming soon)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pineapple-Ginger Marinade & Broiled Salmon

Broiled salmon filets with marinade semi-reduction
Yum. What is great about this is that the citrus and sweet flavors mask any hint of fishiness that might have been without the marinade. I’m fairly new to liking seafood, and still really only tolerate the freshest, non-fishy fish like halibut, sole, and tilapia. I have been wanting to love salmon too, and hadn’t really found any preparation I liked, other than those in which the salmon is swimming in some kind of teriyaki sauce.

From The New AHA Cookbook.


  • 6 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp reduced-sodium tamari
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sesame hot chili oil 
  • 1 tsp canola oil

Marinate the salmon filets (makes enough for about three 4-oz filets) in the mixture for 30 minutes. To cook the filets, spray the broiling pan will cooking oil. Broil them about 5 inches from the broiler, for 5-6 min on each side. While the filets are cooking, transfer the marinade mixture to a sauce pot, and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, and cook on a low-boil for about 10 min, or until it has thickened slightly and reduced. Pour over the finished filets when serving.
Broiled salmon with steamed vegetables and lemon-thyme rice

Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage

Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe.
Makes about 2 quarts

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic
6 oz andouille sausage, sliced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves
2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
1-1/4 cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (I like Franks Red Hot)
14.5 oz can no-salt diced tomatoes
1/2 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp
1 tbsp dried parsley 


Sauté sausage in large Dutch oven Until browned. Remove from pot and set aside, and add olive oil to heat  over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook for about 5-10 min or until tender and lightly browned. Add garlic and spices, stir, and cook about a minute. 
Add rice, water, broth, tomato paste, and other remaining ingredients. Bring just to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for 40 min. or until rice is cooked. Add shrimp and cook for 5 min or until pink and no longer translucent. 
Discard bay leaves before serving. 

Another option with the shrimp is to get already cooked shrimp and just toss them in at the end, heat through, and then serve. 

Original recipe found here:

Chicken Salad with Grapes & Toasted Pecans

Chicken Salad
TMP Adaptation
Serves 4
½ cup eggless light mayo
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 packets of Truvia or Stevia zero-calorie sweetener
⅓ cup diced celery
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked, cubed
⅓ cup pecans, toasted, chopped
2 tsp chia seeds
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

What directions? Mix these goodies up in a bowl, cover & chill in the fridge for a while, and enjoy!

Nutrition data for adapted version (from, per serving:
283 kcal
17 g fat
25 g protein
11 g carbohydrate
2 g fiber
6 g sugar

Whole Foods Sonoma Chicken Salad
Serves 4-6

“This chicken salad is one of our classic Whole Foods Market dishes. The tender chicken breast, crunchy pecans and sweet grapes in each bite are hard to top.” -From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook


1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer on a baking pan. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through (Juices should run clear; no pink in the center) Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan; let cool for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing.

Strawberry chia seed muffins

Oooh these were really yummy. Many gluten-free recipes I come across seem to have a whole lot of sugar added to them, and thankfully, when I came across the one that inspired this, I had to try it out, since it didn't add too much. Of course, since my cooking and baking tends to be spontaneous and I rarely plan ahead, I have to adapt things to whatever I have already at home. So my recipe actually has even less grams of sugar, because I used a zero-calorie stevia sweetener. Some of the other main things I adapted: I didn't have oat flour, so I ground up some rolled oats instead, and I swapped out the tapioca starch the original recipe called for for potato starch. I also added chia seeds to pack in more nutrients, which is the most likely reason I needed to use nearly twice as much milk in my recipe, because they soak up a lot of the liquid.

Anyway, I thought they turned out great, and I like that they are only lightly sweet, and filling enough with their fiber content to satisfy me (I ate two, since they are kind of little). They will be perfect to freeze and have a nice take-along breakfast or snack!

Adapted from Gluten-free Strawberry Whole Grain Muffins by Gluten-free Goddess

Makes about 17 muffins

Dry ingredients:

1/2 cup fine almond meal or almond flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Wet ingredients:

Egg substitute:
2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 6 tbsp hot water 
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Truvia or other zero-calorie granulated baking sweetener with Stevia
1 tsp almond extract 
1-1/2 cup flax milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk) 
1-1/2 cup chopped strawberries, thawed from frozen or fresh 
Optional: 1/4 cup slivered almonds 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Line cupcake tins with 18 paper liners and spray the liners lightly with cooking spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients except the oats in a large bowl.
Grind oats in food processor to make about 1/2 cup medium-coarse ground flour. Add to dry ingredients. Whisk ingredients together well.

Make the egg substitute in a small bowl and let it sit for about 2 min. Add this to the other wet ingredients, except for the milk and strawberries. Add this mixture to dry ingredients. Add about half of the milk, and mix ingredients well. If the batter is too thick, keep adding milk until you get a semi-thick muffin-like batter. It should not be soupy like pancake batter though.

Gently fold in the strawberries. Fill the muffin liners to the top (about 1/3 cup each).
Optional: sprinkle slivered almonds on top of muffins before baking.

Bake for about 35-40 min.
Let cool in pans for about 5 minutes, then place muffins on cooling racks.

Once they are completely cooled, you can put them on a baking sheet, cover, and put them in the freezer to keep them fresh for later. (once they are frozen, you can pile 'em back up in a freezer bag or container to save space, but initially they need to be spaced out like this for even freezing)

Nutritional data from for 1 muffin (of 17 muffins):
149 kcal
7 g fat
3 g protein
22 g carbohydrate
4 g fiber
6 g sugar

Here is a shot of a muffin with sinfully-delicious-yet-guilt-free cashew nut cream (see post):

Friday, February 21, 2014

Peach-blueberry ice cream pie

I know this is rather out of season, but I was going through my recipe book, and this one was too yummy not to post here.

This stuff is just heavenly. Sweet and a little spicy, it is the perfect treat to pull out of the freezer on a hot summer day. Or, if you just gotta have some ice cream whenever… Maybe fireside in the winter, so you don't freeze?!

This is one of those do-ahead desserts. It's easy prep-work; most of the time it takes to make this is just waiting for things to cool and freeze.

If you can find TruWhip, you can sub-it in for the fresh whipped cream. It is more stable and lower calories/fat. It's a non-dairy whipped topping that doesn't use nasty hydrogenated oils that most other nondairy whipped toppings do (like CoolWhip). It does contain a tiny bit of sodium caseinate (a milk protein), so it's not entirely vegan, but apart from that it is a great "nearly vegan" tasty topping.

I made this gluten-free by using Mi-Del gluten-free gingersnaps, but you could use any kind of good gingersnaps.

ALSO, if you chop up some extra crystallized ginger and mix it into the ice cream, you'll get an even more yummy pie.

This pie makes 8 servings.
It can be made up to 2 days ahead.


  • 6 ounces Mi-Del gluten-free gingersnap cookies
  • 2 tablespoons softened Earth Balance or coconut oil, melted (or use any non-hydrogenated, vegan margarine)
  • 1 tablespoon So-Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Non-dairy Creamer
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pint peach ice cream, softened in refrigerator for 20 minutes*
  • 2 cups TruWhip All-natural whipped topping
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
*Originally I used Alden’s organic peach ice cream (so good!), but if I want to make this dairy-free, I would substitute this for coconut milk ice cream, and mix in about ¼-⅓ cup of pureed peaches (or more or less, depending on how peachy you want it, I guess! Too much though would change the texture of the ice cream and make the pie too hard when it re-freezes). One little snack cup of peaches in juice could be an easy way to do this.

Here's how to assemble this ridiculously yummy pie:

First, grind up the cookies in a food processor until you get a fine crumb without any big chunks. You should have about 1-⅓ cups of ground up cookies when you’re done.

Put the cookie crumbs into a medium-sized bowl, and add the margarine and creamer. Mix well. Press the mixture firmly onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Then pop it in the freezer for about 30 minutes, so it can firm up.

Toss 1-3/4 cups of the blueberries plus sugar and lemon juice in another bowl, and set this aside for about an hour at room temperature, for the flavors to marry.

Next, transfer the blueberry mixture to a heavy-bottomed pot, and cook on medium heat, for about 10-15 minutes. This will soften the berries and release their juices. 

Strain the berries through a fine-mesh strainer, over a medium bowl. Reserve the berries and juice in separate bowls, cover, and chill.

When everything is nice and cold: In a bowl, gently fold the blueberries into the softened ice cream. This is also where you can mix in a couple tablespoons of the crystallized ginger, if you want. Spread the ice cream into the crust, and smooth out the top. Next, spread the whipped topping evenly over the top, and then sprinkle with the remaining blueberries and crystallized ginger. 

The reserved blueberry juice is meant to be drizzled over the pie when you serve it, but this is optional. 

Finally, put the the pie back into the freezer to firm up, about 6 hours or overnight. (You'll want to put the pie into something that you can cover it in a way that won't smush the top.)

Just before you're ready to serve it, put the pie in the refrigerator for 10-15 min, or until it has softened just enough to slice. At this time, you might want to cut the whole pie, and make it a little easier to get out single servings (so you don't have to soften the whole pie next time you want a piece!). 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good grains

Whole grains are a great source of fiber and energy, and some are even great vegetarian "complete proteins," (meaning they contain all 9 or 10 of the essential amino acids) just as meats, fish, and eggs are. 

A number of them contain gluten though too, and as some of us have unfortunately discovered (bread can be so yummy!), our digestive systems simply aren't compatible with this protein. 

So, when I had started a gluten-free diet, initially I had no clue what the heck I would be able to eat, since wheat and other 'gluteny' grains are so prevalent in foods. Nevertheless, with a bit of searching, I eventually found there are still plenty of good grains that I can eat without triggering GI problems.

Photos like the one posted on @eatlivepurefit's Instagram- can be handy as references. This one shows 10 grains that are either low in gluten or gluten-free!

Here's a list of a few
Gluten-free grains & flours: