Creative Cooking: Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

“Yes, a pick me up….”

When I was a younger mom with younger children, no one told me that I should consider those the “easier” years of being a mom. Perpetually exhausted from lack of sleep, newly learning how to be a parent, mentally and emotionally perplexed by each new developmental-stage challenge, it can seem like those parenting years are the most difficult.

Today, as an older mom of both grown and teenage children, I sometimes yearn for those- what I know now to be – “easier” days of parenting. Back then, there were challenges but most everything was within our control as parents. We could enforce bed times, make rules for behavior, put the children in car seats and strollers to keep them safe, and find a myriad of books which told us how to toilet train, get them to sleep in their own beds, and encourage their emotional abilities to interact with the world around them.

With older children, the challenges are much more challenging and mostly out of our control to fix, the children are not bound by anything we say or offer, and the few books which are out there agree that all we can do is be there for our children and hope and pray for the best.

So, some days, I just need a little pick-me-up, a treat, to keep me going in the middle of a long day of driving between colleges and home or helping with a problem long-distance by phone. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you already know that I fully believe in comfort eating now and then. Obviously, you don’t want to overindulge all the time in too many “not as good for you” foods, nor do you want to use food as a way of dealing with your problems, because it doesn’t work. At the same time, a well-timed small treat once in a while when you’re in need of something to give you a bit of energy – physically, mentally, and emotionally – is not necessarily a bad thing.

Hence, this week’s post on vegan, gluten free chocolate chip muffins. They hit the spot, as they say. I like to make them as mini muffins because just one mini muffin usually does the trick for me, but the children prefer them regular size because otherwise they’d be likely to eat three or four of the little ones.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened vegan/plant based milk (we use soy or flax or oat)

1 tbsp vinegar (choose white, apple cider, or raspberry)

2 cups your favorite gluten free flour blend (I like King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup coconut sugar or monk fruit golden sweetener

6 tbsp plant oil (we use safflower or avocado or extra light olive oil)

2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract

Baking Instructions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 regular-sized muffin tin or 24 mini-muffin tin with appropriately sized cupcake liners or grease the tins with your preferred method, and set aside.
    2. Mix together the “milk” and vinegar to make a “buttermilk”. Allow it to thicken.
    3. Combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and chocolate chips.
    4. Add to the “buttermilk”, the coconut sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
    5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
    6. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin tins of choice.
    7. Bake in the preheated oven until puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Larger muffins will take about 20-25 minutes. Mini muffins will take 10-15 minutes.
    8. Let the muffins cool in the tins for 5 minutes; then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
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Healthy Habits: Baked Pears

“He has to be careful about his levels….”

Every summer, we head to the Adirondack mountains to work at the family forest my husband’s family has run for over 60 years. Since I am allergic to everything God has created in nature, I act as the chief cook as opposed to wandering around in the woods, measuring and counting trees. As the chef, I am often cooking meals for anywhere between eight to 20 people for any given meal. This means often taking into account not just my own food allergies but other people’s food restrictions as well.

This year, I needed to be careful about foods which would spike glucose levels for diabetics, so I was trying to avoid making a lot of cakes and cookies, and I opted instead for fruit desserts like a blueberry cobbler which I made with oat biscuits which used no sugar for either the blueberries or the biscuits.

This morning, however, I needed a dessert for a brunch and wanted something healthy but not necessarily a lot of work. At the store, I noticed that they had ripe Bartlett pears on sale, so I purchased those and set about making something for the brunch. As I googled, I noticed that the most common pear dessert is to poach them, but that required watching them on the stove and thickening syrups and such, all of which was too much work.

So, I decided that I’d simply bake them with a little bit of cinnamon and honey and whole rolled oats.  The result was a nice, light dessert, which was perfect for the brunch and well received. One person said that she didn’t usually like pears but liked the dessert. So, I call that a success.

Baked Pears

Ingredients:

8 ripe Bartlett pears

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp hot water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp very finely chopped ginger, almost like a paste

1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tbsp vegan soy free butter, melted

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut pears in half, remove stems by pulling them down the middle to remove the hard core, and then core out the center seeds. (I just use a small spoon.)
  3. Lay the pears in one or two pans, which are large enough to hold them.
  4. Mix together the honey, hot water, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until well blended. Drizzle over the pears.
  5. Combine the oats with the cinnamon, cloves and melted vegan butter. Spoon them evenly into the holes left by coring out the seeds.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 30 minutes (will depend on the ripeness of your pears) until the pears are golden and warm.
  7. You can eat them as is or serve them with ice cream or whipped cream.

Healthy Habits: Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

“It’s been soooo long….”

If you were to peruse the recipes on this site, you would notice that the cake recipes far outnumber cookie recipes. There are several reasons for that. The first is that cookies require so much more time than cakes. When one is pressed for time to make a dessert, cookies are not the most efficient to make.

The second is that “healthy” cookies are trickier to make. Adding fruits and vegetables to cakes is easy. Using them in cookies usually just means a really soft cookie which won’t keep for more than a couple of days. Swapping whole grain flours adds some protein and fiber but if you want a cookie which isn’t dry and crumbly, you still need a substantial amount of fat because cookies don’t usually require much in the way of liquid ingredients, which precludes using liquid plant oils, which affects the taste and texture of cookies anyway. And while there are many options on the market to substitute for the sugar, the fact is that they do affect the texture and taste of cookies.

The third is that I find that folks have a way of eating a whole lot of cookies in a sitting because their size and lack of filling makes eating many easy to do. This, of course, is not healthy eating, so it is easier to make cakes and control the portions.

This week, however, my son asked if I would make cookies. As he reminded me, I haven’t made any since Christmas which is when I usually spend weeks making many different type of holiday cookies for the season.

I wanted to make a cookie which I would feel good about my son eating, and of course, I also wanted it to taste good, because it’s not worth eating something that doesn’t, in my opinion. And I wanted it to be a cookie where one would fill him and not make him want a second or third or more in one sitting.

After some thinking I decided that I’d make an oatmeal cookie because oats have protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I also decided I’d make them with chocolate chips so I could use the sugar from the chips as opposed to adding sugar, and I would use dark chocolate chips because dark chocolate chips would have less sugar and more beneficial flavonoids. I also opted to make them vegan so that I could make them in the future for the vegan side of the family. Finally I added some chopped non-crystalized, candied ginger for a special flavor.

The cookies came out great and fit all my parameters. They had healthy oats, less sugar, a great taste, and eating just one was satisfying.

Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, processed into oat flour

1 1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, as is

1 1/2 cup whole grain gluten free flour blend

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

2 to 4 tbsp non-crystalized, candied ginger (use less if you just want a hint; more if you want a more pronounced ginger taste)

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

3/4 cup vegan, soy free butter

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

Baking Instructions:

  1. You will wait to preheat the oven because the dough needs to be refrigerated first.
  2. In a food processor, process the one cup of oats until you have something resembling flour. To the oat “flour” add the whole rolled oats, gluten free flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the one cup of dark chocolate chips with the candied ginger until you have small, fine pieces. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Stir in the remaining one cup of dark chocolate chips.
  5. In a mixer, cream the vegan butter. Add the applesauce and honey and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the dough is well blended.
  7. Cover the bowl and put the dough into the fridge for at least one hour and no more than 24.
  8. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Using a quarter cup scoop, place level, quarter cup portions of the dough onto the cookies sheets with space in between to spread. Use a fork to crisscross the dough into a slightly flatter circle.
  10. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies are browned, larger, and slightly stiff to the touch.
  11. Put the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the cookies to the wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
  12. They can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

NOTE: These are large cookies because I always keep in mind that summer is a good time to make ice cream cookie sandwiches. *grin*  You can halve the size by using 2 level tablespoons instead and reducing the cooking time.

 

Summer Delights: Lemon Raspberry Cake

“I want it to taste like summer….”

I’m sure folks will understand when I say that certain items trigger memories for me. For example, whenever I see marbles at a store, visions of lying on my stomach in the dirt, shooting marbles with friends in the summertime immediately come to mind.  The smell of ginger always makes me think of my mother and all the wonderful gingery Korean foods she cooks. Hearing bells reminds me of the first time I went to a Christmas service at a church.

When it comes to food, I tend to have associations, too. For example, anything with lemons and berries conjures images of summer for me, and recently I wanted to make a cake for dessert which tasted like summer. By that, I meant a dessert which was light in both taste and texture, a cake which wouldn’t weigh heavily in the stomach after eating it on a hot day. A lemony cake with berries was the perfect choice.

I found a cake recipe online but, of course, it needed to be revamped to fit my allergy needs as well as needing to be altered to reduce all the sugar and fat.

The original recipe called for 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp of baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/4 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup buttermilk, and 1/3 cup lemon juice. I swapped in a whole grain gluten free flour blend for the flour; reduced the salt by 1/2, adding 1 tsp of lemon peel instead; cut the butter in half and used a vegan butter in its place; reduced the sweetener by 1/2 and substituted 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup truvia; used 1/4 egg whites plus 2 eggs instead of the original 4; and made my own “buttermilk” with 1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of flax milk.

The result was a tasty, lemony cake which I just needed to “dress up”.

Raspberries are a wonderful complement to lemon, so I decided I would use Polaner’s Raspberry All-Fruit in the middle of the cake layers and put fresh raspberries on top. I just needed a frosting. Since I was feeling a bit lazy, as well as not wanting to wait, I didn’t want to take the time to make an ermine frosting which is the lightest frosting I know to make.  So, I opted to create an ermine-like frosting with store-bought items. I used Simple Mills vanilla frosting and mixed it with some tofu cream cheese and lemon juice, and I was delighted to discover that the texture was exactly like ermine frosting.

To complete the cake, I sprinkled chopped, fresh mint from my husband’s garden.  The cake was a hit.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Cake Batter Ingredients:

3 cups favorite gluten free wholegrain flour blend

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup truvia

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup liquid egg white

2 eggs

1 cup flax milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice (to make “buttermilk”)

1/3 cup lemon juice

Frosting Ingredients:

10 oz tub of Simple Mills Frosting

4 oz Toffuti cream cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

Additions Ingredients:

Polaner Raspberry All Fruit

Fresh raspberries

Fresh mint leaves

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon peel. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth, scraping down from the sides as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the truvia and honey until well blended.
  5. Add the egg whites and eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
  6. Alternate adding and mixing the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Blend in the lemon juice.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake layers cool in the pan on wire cooling racks.
  10. Make the frosting by mixing together the tub of frosting with the cream cheese and lemon juice until the frosting is light and airy.
  11. When the cake layers are cool enough, place one layer on your cake plate and frost it with a layer of the frosting.
  12. Using a spoon, drop small spoonfuls of the raspberry all fruit and carefully spread it over the frosting.
  13. Place the second cake layer on top of the all fruit layer, and use the remaining frosting to completely cover the sides and top of the cake.
  14. Arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake, and chop and sprinkle the fresh mint leaves around the raspberries.

Healthy Habits: Make Your Own Pizzas

Crusts from cauliflower?

I don’t know how many folks have eaten artichokes, but growing up in Korea and Japan, artichokes were not a food I had known even existed until my in-laws served it to me when I was dating my husband. The idea of using one’s teeth to scrape off tiny bits from the leaves and working your way down to the small “heart” in the center was strange to me. But then, to my husband, being served sauteed octopus for dinner by his future in-laws was a bit disturbing, to say the least.

Because we grow up in different parts of the world where certain foods are prevalent or because our family ethnicity favors specific types of food, often the variety of foods we choose to eat are limited. In this day and age, though, where food is shipped from everywhere and where companies are creating almost anything they can imagine, we can expand our food options in ways we could not before.

For folks with food allergies, this is a great thing, and an item I have come to appreciate recently is the cauliflower crust for pizzas. In the beginning, most contained cheese which was sad for someone with dairy allergies, but now companies are making them without the cheese, so folks who have gluten, dairy, and nut allergies are able to partake.

This has opened up wonderful possibilities for homemade pizza making. While companies are making gluten free pizza crusts, most of them are made with rice flour which has no nutritional value. The cauliflower crusts offer some value, and they are tasty if you prefer a thinner, crispier crust for your pizzas. By making pizza homemade, you control how healthy the pizza is. You can eliminate items like sugar (which is often in the sauces), reduce sodium and fat (which are often in the toppings), and increase the nutrients by adding vegetables other than just peppers and broccoli (which are the usual offerings from delivery places).

Here are some ideas if you want to make homemade pizzas:

The Crust:

  1. You can buy both regular and gluten free pizza crust in box versions where you add the necessary ingredients and make the crust yourself.
  2. You can go to the cold section of your grocery store and by pre-made regular and gluten free pizza dough which you just spread onto your pan.
  3. You can purchase already made, formed, partially cooked regular and gluten free pizza crusts. These usually are in the pasta-sauce-pizza sections of the grocery store and come wrapped in plastic. You just open the package and put the crust on your pan.
  4. You can find frozen regular and gluten free crusts in the freezer section of your grocery store. This is where I get the cauliflower crusts which I prefer to use.

Sauces:

  1. Traditionally folks use a pizza sauce made from tomatoes. You can find many on the market. Choose ones which have no sugar and are made with olive oil. You don’t necessarily need to use “pizza” sauce, though. You can use a marinara or spaghetti sauce which you like as well. I like Victoria’s brand which is made just with tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil, and herbs. You just spread the amount you prefer on the crust. You can also make your own by cooking down tomatoes with herbs until the sauce is nice and thick.
  2. If you prefer a white sauce, you can make your own in a couple of different ways: One is to heat over medium/low heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan with garlic, onion and your favorite dried herbs. Then add two tbsp of a gluten free flour like oat or sorghum flour to the oil and stir until completely mixed. Add one cup of a favorite dairy free milk like oat or flax milk and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened.  Add fresh, chopped herbs of your choosing and spread it over the pizza crust. A second way is to cook over medium/low heat a cup of coconut cream in a pan with garlic, onions and dried herbs of your choosing, simmering until the cream thickens, and then adding a couple of tsp of nutritional yeast and fresh, chopped herbs before spreading it over your crust.
  3. If you prefer a non-saucy alternative for your pizza, you can simply slice ripe tomatoes, drain the juice in a colander, and then layer the tomato slices over the pizza crust. As well, if you have no nut allergies, you can consider putting a cashew nut cheese spread over the crust.

Topping Ideas:

  1. One type of pizza we like is to saute mushrooms, spinach, and butternut squash, diced into small pieces, with garlic, onions and herbs spread them onto the pizza.
  2. Another option is to saute diced zucchini with garlic, onions, and herbs, and mix it with diced pieces of a favorite turkey or vegan sausage and sprinkling them onto the pizza.
  3. A third way we like to eat our pizza is to saute broccoli, cut into small pieces, with garlic, onions and herbs, and mix it with small, leftover pieces of cooked chicken and spreading that onto the pizza.
  4. A fourth suggestion is simply using whatever vegetables and meats you have in the fridge and coming up with your own combinations.

For the “Cheese”:

  1. If you don’t have a dairy allergy, then using any combinations of mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, or romano cheeses works.
  2. For folks with dairy allergies, one option is to use dairy free cheeses like Daiya mozzarella. I find that flavoring the vegan cheeses with garlic, herbs and onions goes a long way to intensifying the taste, and I will add a tsp of olive oil and a couple of tsp of nutritional yeast to help the cheese melt better.
  3. Another option is to just dust the toppings with a vegan parmesan like Follow Your Heart parmesan.
  4. If you don’t want “cheese” altogether, you can drizzle the toppings with a glaze like a balsamic vinegar reduction where you simmer 1/4 to 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar until its reduced and thickened.
  5. You can also simply cover the toppings with freshly chopped herbs like basil or mint.

Cooking:

  1. For the best results you should always cook pizzas at a high heat. I use 500 degrees, but if you’re not comfortable with that, don’t go lower than 425.
  2. If you are using any type of pizza dough, you should oil the pan and sprinkle it with cornmeal or flour so it won’t stick. You should also cook the dough just as it is first until it’s almost done.  At 500 degrees, that’s just five to ten minutes. Then you add the sauce, toppings, and cheese and finish cooking the dough for another five minutes until the cheese is melted or the toppings are heated through.
  3. If you are using a pre-made crust, whether from the aisle or frozen section, you add the sauce, toppings, and “cheese” options and then cook the pizza for about ten minutes (if cooking at 500 degrees). Pre-made crusts usually don’t need you to do anything to the pan like oiling because they’re already mostly cooked and won’t stick.

Recipe Revamping: Lemon Berry Tart

“It’s for Mothers’ Day….”

I confess: I’m not fond of Mothers’ Day. Not because I don’t believe mothers should be appreciated, but because the way it’s celebrated in the U.S., Mothers’ Day seems to be about getting my children to take me out to a restaurant where I can’t eat the food, buy me flowers and chocolate which I’m allergic to, and/or make one more thing for me in school for me to find someplace to put and then dust for years to come.

It’s true that it’s nice to receive a card in which each of my children have written in their own hand how much they appreciate me, but even that, I also confess, is a bit tainted because I’ve caught them too many times hastily writing the script the morning of Mothers’ Day on a card which one of them quickly made because they forgot to do anything ahead of time.

To be completely honest, the best gift I could receive on Mothers’ Day is that the family would resolve to clean up after themselves the other 364 days of the year.

Since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, though, instead, I’ve made Mothers’ Day a time when the family has to what I’d like, whether they like it or not. So, one year I dragged them to an art museum. Another time, we saw a “mama” movie. This year, I decided it would about food I enjoy, so I spent the day making a number of items the family doesn’t consider a “favorite” – foods like grilled eggplant and roasted asparagus and baked tofu in white wine sauce.

Since I spend the other 364 days of the year catering to the family’s food tastes, I figure the Mothers’ Day meal can be about me for a change. So, for dessert, I made a lemon berry tart instead of what the children wanted, which was cake, which frankly I’m quite tired of eating. I wanted something that tasted like Spring.

Most of the recipes I found, though, seemed to use a lot of sugar and heavy cream, and of course, the tart crust was all white flour with lots of butter. So, I did a little bit of revamping. Instead of white flour, I mixed gluten free oat flour with whole rolled oats, added orange peel and nutmeg, and used just a bit of honey and vegan butter for a nice whole grain, protein filled crust. Then for the filling, I combined some tofu cream cheese with freshly squeezed lemon juice and again, a bit of honey. I arranged fresh berries in a pretty arrangement and topped it with sliced mint leaves.

It is everything I could wish for Mothers’ Day this year.

Lemon Berry Tart

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free whole rolled oats

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp vegan butter

1/4 cup honey

one 8 oz tofu cream cheese

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

blueberries

raspberries

blackberries

mint leaves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp Polaner Raspberry All-Fruit

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 9.5 inch pie pan with your preferred method.
  2. In a food processor, combine the oats, oat flour, orange peel and nutmeg and zoop until crumbly.
  3. Add the vegan butter and zoop until well combined.
  4. Add the honey and zoop until a small dough ball forms.
  5. Using your clean hands, shape the dough to match the shape of the pie pan.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the crust and let it cool completely.
  7. In a mixer, whip the tofu cream cheese until it is smooth.
  8. Add the honey and lemon juice and mix until everything is well combined.
  9. Spread the filling into the prepared crust and top with the berries.
  10. Sprinkle the top with the sliced mint leaves.
  11. Melt the Polaner All Fruit and drizzle over the leaves and berries.
  12. Refrigerate the tart until you are ready to eat it.

 

Healthy Habits: Easy Allergy Friendly Company Meal

Help….

This past weekend, my family traveled to New Jersey to celebrate my niece’s First Communion. The reception afterwards was at a beautiful, well-reputed restaurant where my brother had rented a room, complete with a buffet of assorted options from seafood, beef, and chicken to pasta and rice to salads and roasted vegetables. Of the ten items to choose from, I could eat three. The rest were all cooked in butter.

Fortunately, my brother had arranged for a special plate to be made for me, but it can be sad to be the odd person out, watching folks enjoy food you can’t have. This experience was fresh in my mind when a friend called to ask if there was something quick and easy she could make that would also be a “nice, company meal” because she was hosting a dinner where one person had severe food allergies. No wheat, eggs, dairy, nut, soy, or citrus foods could be served.

I applauded her desire to make something which everyone could eat and immediately thought of one of my go-to meals, chicken and vegetables. This may seem like a ho-hum meal to serve company, but if you roast whole carrots with sliced zucchini and bake tender, seasoned chicken breasts and serve both with a beet sauce, the experience becomes more than ho-hum, and if you look at the pictures, the food looks pretty, too, which enhances the appetite.

What’s even better, is that the entire meal takes only about 45 minutes from beginning to end to make, which gives you plenty of time to hang with your guests. While the veggies roast, you work on the chicken, and while the chicken cooks, you work on the sauce.

Company Baked Chicken Breasts and Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

2 lb bag of whole carrots, peeled (normal size, not crazy, huge ones)

Zucchini, sliced lengthwise into quarters, about size to eight medium-sized ones

6 chicken breasts, 4 ounces each (palm size portion, not crazy, hormone-induced size)

olive oil

onion powder

garlic powder

oregano

thyme

tarragon

red pepper flakes

black pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked beets (I buy precooked, ready to go ones in the vegetable section)

1 cup unsalted, no sugar chicken bone broth (I find this at my local grocery store)

1 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp chopped onion

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground ginger

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat the carrots with olive oil and place into a large oven proof pan which will hold the carrots in a single layer with space left for the zucchini to be added.
  3. Roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the carrots.
  4. Remove the pan, stir the carrots, lightly coat the zucchini quarters in olive oil, and add them to the pan.
  5. Roast for 5 minutes, remove the pan and stir, adding onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, tarragon, red pepper flakes and black pepper – all to your liking.
  6. Roast for another 5 minutes and arrange the vegetables on an oven safe, serving platter, and set aside. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees.
  7. While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and lightly brush olive oil on both sides of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, tarragon, red pepper flakes and black pepper – to your taste and liking.
  8. Cover the chicken breasts with another piece of parchment paper, tucking the ends in around the chicken into the pan.
  9. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit, exactly as it is with the parchment covering it, and turn down the heat to 300 degrees. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes to reabsorb its juices.
  11. Put the veggies which have been transferred to an oven safe serving platter into the oven to finish cooking while the chicken sits for the 10 minutes.
  12. While the chicken breasts are resting and the veggies are finishing, put the cooked beets into a blender with the bone broth, garlic, onions, cumin and ginger, and puree until completely smooth.
  13. Pour the sauce into a microwave safe, serving pitcher, and microwave for a minute at a time until the sauce is warm.
  14. After the 10 minute resting time, remove the parchment paper from the chicken, remove the veggie platter from the oven, and serve both with the warmed beet sauce.