Dried Apple Chips

So the Wheat Belly diet is slightly restrictive when it comes to dessert, especially when you don’t have the right gluten-free or sugar substitute ingredients on hand.

I had some sad little organic apples I bought from H-E-B (which, between you and me, really influenced my shopping trip to my beloved Whole Foods), and I just couldn’t bring myself to eating them raw. I thought this would be a perfect time to try drying them. I figured that would intensify their flavor in a much better way and make them crispy/chewy and snack-like.

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I had originally wanted to make dried rings, but I ended up using my apple corer first and completely forgot about the rings. After coring, I sliced the wedges even thinner to make nice slivers. In hindsight, I probably would go with rings that are a bit thicker so they’ll have a nice chewy consistency. I soaked the slices in lemon water for about 30 minutes so that they wouldn’t brown. I patted them dry before lining them up on the sheet pan.

imageMy final product was not so much chewy snacks as they were delicate apple chips, which were still rather delightful. These aren’t donuts or ice cream, but they still did the trick in giving me that little sweet treat after a meal. I will definitely be trying this again.

Dried Apple Chips

Sauteed Greens and Shrimp with Avocado-Tomato Salsa

I bought a new green the other day called broccoleaf, which is essentially broccoli leaves. People say it tastes like a cross between a sugar snap pea and kale, but I think it leans more toward the latter. It’s a nice, hearty green with beautiful flat, large leaves. I decided to chop these up and saute them with onions, garlic, and some green olives. After sauteing them up together for about 8 minutes, I threw in some nice shrimp (that I of course shelled and deveined first). The shrimp cooked up quickly and I soon took the pan off the heat.

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I saw this little trick on a cooking show to throw in the hard stems of greens right at the beginning so they’d cook up and give the meal a nice crunch. I chopped the broccoleaf stems up really thinly, which worked out well since they soaked up a lot of flavor.

This alone would make a nice, salty, flavorful meal, but I decided that it would benefit from something fresh and sweet. I threw together an avocado and tomato salsa with a little salt, lemon, and cilantro. I know it sounds completely strange, but the salsa gave the meal a nice bit of acid and sweetness.

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The end result was a nice blend of different flavors and textures, and it was altogether quite satisfying.

Sauteed Greens and Shrimp with Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Tuna Melt Tomato Cups

I saw a picture of these on Pinterest, and I just had to make them. I’m not a big canned tuna fan, but anything topped with cheese can make me think twice.

I also bought these beautiful heirloom tomatoes just for this purpose– and, I have to say, heirlooms are definitely worth the hype. I scooped out the tomato insides and ate them just as they were. So delicious.

For the filling, I mixed two cans of white tuna, finely chopped celery, finely chopped red pepper, chopped green onions, about a cup of Vegenaise, a tablespoon of yellow mustard, and some shredded cheddar. For someone who doesn’t like tuna salad, I had to help myself to a few spoonfuls of it.

So I filled those beautiful heirloom tomato cups with the tuna filling and baked them at 375 for about 10 minutes. I then topped them with some more shredded cheese and broiled them for a couple more minutes.

imageMmm, such great color.

imageIt definitely becomes more decadent with the melty cheese topping– but, all in all, it was still a relatively healthy, fresh-tasting meal. This is certainly a must-do-again.

Tuna Melt Tomato Cups

Swiss Chard, Sausage, and Ricotta Muffins

For the first recipe inspired by my rainbow bounty, I decided to try a twist on a tried-and-true favorite. My friend and I have been making bacon, sausage, and cheese muffins since the first time we embarked on the Wheat Belly diet. Since I decided the husband and I should try our hand at the Wheat Belly diet again, I thought it would be fitting to experiment with a different take on this breakfast muffin favorite. I found this great recipe using some beautiful red-stemmed swiss chard, which I sadly don’t use often enough.

I chopped up some of that great chard and sauteed it with garlic and onions. Then I mixed up ricotta, some grated fancy swiss cheese (which I unfortunately can’t remember the actual name of), and several eggs in a bowl. I lined the bottoms of my muffin cups with a tablespoon or so of mild Italian sausage, topping the cups with about three tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and a bit more shredded swiss.

imageI salted the greens really well, so they were extremely flavorful on their own.

imageSadly, I’ve never been known for cleanliness in the kitchen.

imageThe result was a little Italian muffin of goodness. I honestly thought the sausage was a bit overpowering for the delicate ricotta topping, and I wanted to taste more of that delicious chard, but it was overall a successful dish. It was also a plus that it made 24 muffins, so I was able to refrigerate the majority of it for future breakfasts, lunches, or snacks. I know this isn’t exactly the healthiest recipe ever, but it’s a nice way to start this adventure of being wheat-free.

Swiss Chard, Sausage, and Ricotta Muffins

What a Way to Start the Year

2014 ended on such a high note. The husband and I took a road trip that encompassed driving 27 hours through four states over the span of three days. We saw sun and snow, palm trees and Joshua trees, beach sand and dunes sand, smog and fog, mountains and valleys, canyons and forests, and then we finished our adventures in a 22-foot teepee.

2015, though, began with a terrible cold, deep exhaustion, and a bacterial infection. I was literally in bed for nearly 46 out of 48 hours. My back was in pain from all the laying down, but I couldn’t make myself get up. I started feeling miserable and low. You know, good ol’ “whoa is me” kind of stuff. I was unhappy about my physical situation, my job situation, my appearance situation, my life situation, everything.

But then I ended up reading a friend’s blog, and she was so encouraging and joyful in her words. I really felt sheepish about my petty complaints and issues. So I did things that I knew would snap me out of my funk.

1) I visited my former workplace. Seeing my friends and a place that has brought me a lot of joy really boosted up my mood. I so easily become lost in myself when I’m at home all day, but this reminded me that there’s a world and people out there– and a new year to enjoy it all.

2) I bought a rainbow of organic (or local) fruits and vegetables. I haven’t been eating well over the past couple of months, and my body has been craving good things. And, honestly, I love exploring the different ways to use all this God-given goodness. I am really excited.

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3) I bought some body care items that would inspire me to take better care of myself and make an effort to love me just the way I am. I’ve never had a particularly good self-image– and as I get older and my ailments begin piling on top of one another, I easily feel unmotivated and unhappy with myself. But, honestly, I am still young and have much more life to live.

4) I decided to write again. No wonder I have been feeling so unlike myself. I have worked with food or written about food for most of my adult life– and aside from working at a grocery store this past year, I really haven’t had the chance to express my love of food in a creative way. The husband says I should blog for money– but that really isn’t practical, considering all the food bloggers out there. At the very least, I just need to blog for the pure enjoyment of it. So here we go.

What a Way to Start the Year