Gluten Free Fitness

recipes

Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Review

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Have you noticed I’ve done a few chocolate chip cookie recipes?

Well, even if you haven’t noticed, I have.  I seem to have a bit of an obsession with chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are just such a soothing, all-American treat.  When I was a kid pre-celiac diagnosis, I had a chocolate chip cookie obsession then too.  Soft Batch cookies, remember them?  Oh, yeah.  Heated up for just a few seconds until the chips were all mice and melty…heaven in a bite.

Now that I’m a bit older, gluten free, and aware of nutrition, I try to have some redeeming qualities in my treats for the most part.

As a part of designing my diet to provide maximal quality and nutrients, I try to use coconut products on a regular basis.  Coconut is not a miracle cure for anything, and please run screaming from anyone who tries to tell you so.  However, it is a food that has some very interesting and unique properties.  And, it tastes pretty darn yummy.

Funny random fact about me: I like coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, and coconut flavor in general.  However, I don’t like actual coconut.  Like, the shredded kind.  I hate macaroons.  I think it’s a texture thing.  But I digress.

Coconut oil is also not the devil as opponents to saturated fat may try to state.  Actually, saturated fat itself is not the devil.  Saturated fat in combination with refined carbohydrate may in fact, be the devil.  But again, I digress.

I feel compelled to say that coconut products contain calories.
Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

Tropical Traditions Coconut Cream Concentrate

This seems obvious, but I have heard stories of people adding large amounts of calorie dense coconut products to their diet and expecting the laws of thermodynamics to no longer apply.  As much as that would be fabulous, it is in fact false.  If you add calories in, you have to take some out from somewhere, or you will gain weight.

Tropical Traditions is where I get my coconut flour and coconut oil.  I saw they had a product called coconut cream concentrate, which I had never heard of/tried before.  They very kindly supplied me with a complimentary sample to try.

Coconut Cream Concentrate is pretty cool stuff.

From the Tropical Traditions website:

Coconut Cream Concentrate is certified organic whole coconut meat in concentrated form. It contains no additives* (not even water). The dried coconut meat is ground very finely, giving it a creamy consistency due to its high fat content. Since it is 70% fat, it is a rich source of pure coconut oil. Note: this is a food, not a cooking oil.

It reminded me a lot of natural nut butter, how the oil separates and comes to the top?  Same gig.

I highly recommend watching the video provided by Tropical Traditions on how to prepare your concentrate to use.  Me being me, I skipped that part thinking I could stir it like nut butter.  No, you can’t.  Warm it first.  What’s really cool about this product in my opinion, is that you could theoretically pour off the top coconut oil and use that, and then use the meat part to make coconut milk (they recommend a couple teaspoons per 16 ounces of water, and it will be “grainy” due to the fiber in the coconut.)  It’s pretty darn versatile.  I mixed up a couple tablespoons in a quart jar with water and use it in my coffee.

Here is my coconut cream chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Have you used coconut cream concentrate?  What’s your favorite way to use coconut?  Hit it up in the comments!

Zucchini: The Naturally Gluten Free Veggie of the Day and Not Really Recipe Fail

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Actually it’s the naturally gluten free veggie of the summer.

Actually, all veggies are naturally gluten free.  (That is, in their natural state, and barring any preparation styles using gluten, of course.)

Score!

Zucchini

Zucchini is an incredibly prolific vegetable in the summer.  Around here, it’s everywhere-which is great, because it’s local, in season, tasty, and less expensive than some other veggie counterparts.  It’s also an incredibly versatile vegetable.  I wrote about one use of it here in my post about shredding it up with some carrots. It has an extremely mild flavor, and it takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with.

So it can be used in both savory and sweet applications.

Double score!

Market ingredients

Once again at the market this weekend I found myself face to face with some gorgeous huge organic zucchini.  And they were cheap!

There were some mushrooms that looked lovely, so into the basket they went.

And tomatoes.  I love me my tomatoes.  (Yes, I know they are a fruit, technically so is zucchini, but lets not split hairs shall we?)

I had cooked up a couple pounds of pork tenderloin the other day, so I knew that would be my protein source for dinner.  Why cook one pound when you can cook extra and have leftovers?  Prepare ahead and set yourself up for healthy gluten free eating success.)

Now as you may know, I don’t generally follow recipes.  I’m really bad at it.  I forget to measure all the time.  That’s why I do “not-really-recipes.”  A guideline, a template for which to alter as you see fit and with what you have on hand.

This is great, it creates a sense of freedom and creativity.

Cooking fail

Sometimes it also creates spectacular cooking fails.

Zucchini pancakes

I decided I wanted to make zucchini pancake type things.

Without consulting any resources (which I should have done) I proceeded to shred the zucchini with a box grater.  I thought I was so smart when I remembered to salt it to draw out the water and squeeze it dry.  I decided it would be fantastic to add in the chopped mushrooms to give the zucchini a bit of a meatier texture.  I threw in some sea salt, garlic, hot sauce, one egg (beaten,) mixed it up and called it good.

Heated up my pan with a bit of coconut oil (from the Misto-love that thing) and proceeded to form little round piles of goodness.

And what to  my wondering eyes did NOT appear?

Browning.  They were steaming and cooking, but no lovely carmelization and browning.  The pancakes weren’t sticking together.

The mushrooms.  They also have a high water content.  Too much moisture=no browning for Erin.  Between the mushrooms and the zucchini, I was toast.  (Figuratively)

Undeterred, I mixed it all up into a pile and cooked it.  And boy was it tasty!

So the moral of the story is this:

Sometimes Not Really Recipes don’t work out the way you think, but taste good anyway.

Sometimes that may happen with real recipes-not to worry!

There are a bunch of great zucchini recipes out there.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Bring on the zucchini!  What’s your favorite way to prepare it?

What do you Mean You Don’t Like Veggies?

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What do you mean it’s too hard to make them taste good? It’s really not hard if you keep an open mind and take advantage of what is available.

I am very lucky to have a nearby market where they feature locally grown and mostly organic produce.  I stop by there on the weekend and pick up whatever looks and smells good to me.

Last weekend, there was a bunch of beautiful bright orange carrots and some zucchini (aka summer squash-as I understand it summer squash can be either yellow or green, and the green variety is zucchini.)

It’s in season now, and was very reasonably priced.  I loaded up my basket with those and some other goodies.  Had I a clue of how I was going to prepare them?  Nope.  But, I knew I could figure something out.

In my opinion, that’s a key to preparing your own gluten free and healthful food.

Keep your options open if you are at a market such as this.

See what looks good and is reasonably priced.  When you start with fresh, local ingredients, generally you will have a much more flavorful start to your meal than if you are starting with something that has been shipped and/or processed.  You won’t need fancy sauces or preparation methods to make them taste good.

So here I am with my zucchini and carrots.  My Dad is in town for Fathers’ Day, and Jeff is at work, so it’s dinner for me and Dad.  It was Sunday, so it’s my cook ahead for the week day.

I had been marinating chicken breasts in lemon juice, fresh garlic, and lemon pepper seasoning (this is my favorite) for most of the day.  That would be our protein source.

I remembered seeing an idea to make pasta-ish ribbons from zucchini using a vegetable peeler.  I thought that sounded good, so I scrubbed my veggies with water and a veggie brush and pulled out the peeler.  2 peels into it I decided that would take far too long.  I am definitely not that patient.

I do have a mack daddy food processor which I love.  I pulled it out and gave myself a quick tutorial on how to use the shredding blade.  It worked fantastically.

I had a beautiful big pile of shredded zucchini and carrot.

Now what to do?

My theory is you can never go wrong with some fresh garlic.  Not in the amount that would protect you from vampires, but just a touch for some flavor.

Dinner is almost served…

I poured a tablespoon of coconut oil into my pan, and let it warm up over medium high heat.  Then I used my garlic press on 1 medium clove of fresh garlic and added that to the pan, stirring frequently as not to burn, just get that toasty garlic aroma floating through the house.

This is when my Dad was drawn into the kitchen by the smell of garlic, and I chased him off.

The chicken was in the oven cooking away while I was doing all this, and some sweet potatoes were keeping the chicken company in the oven.  Especially in Florida in the summertime, if you’re heating up the oven, you may as well make the most of it.

Add the shredded zucchini and carrots to the pan, and stir.  They cook quickly, about 5 minutes or so is all you need.  I added a couple shakes of sea salt and grinds of black pepper, and that was it.

We had a lovely meal of chicken, the shredded veggies, and sweet potato.  All naturally gluten free.  All wonderfully full of flavor, and easy to prepare.

You can see in the photo the eggy breakfast casserole in the background, and the pot in which I was cooking rice.  You can do this also, and get a bunch of good food prepared ahead of time.

What’s your favorite way to prepare vegetables?  If you have tricks, please share!