Posts Tagged celery

Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce

    Rita is a full-time student this semester and Mom is in the background supporting her efforts as best I can. It is most important these days to keep up the nutrition and avoid the gluten. Many of the new gluten-free products becoming available are still in the fast-food, empty-calorie, snack-food category that we try to avoid. And so we cook.

    This started out as a hearty chili recipe tailored to eliminate some of the elements that Rita is trying to avoid in addition to the gluten. One of those is all nightshade foods, especially tomatoes. The initial recipe caught my eye because the tomato in the recipe was replaced by pumpkin. We are both fans of all things pumpkin so we were very enthusiastic about the possibilities. The lean white pork also met with our approval although it can be substituted with a vegan option or eliminated entirely.

    I printed out a starter recipe and carefully noted every little change as I went along. The seasoning changes strayed so far from the original recipe that it had me quite anxious about the final result. Toward the end I emailed Rita what I had done so far and asked for her input on the choice of beans to be added. She chose navy beans but any favorite bean can be substituted.

    The result is something that I think is very tasty. Rita admitted to me that she liked it so well that she was having a bowl for breakfast as well as for dinner. So I am hoping that this is useful for all the nightshade-challenged individuals trying to stay healthy!

Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce
1/2 pound navy beans, soaked overnight, and cooked until tender
1 pound lean white pork, bite-size diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
14 oz. water
1 15 oz. can pumpkin

1/3-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Fresh cilantro (optional)

    Put the beans on to soak a day ahead of time so they can be cooking while you prepare the sauce. Drain, rinse and add enough water to cover and cook the beans in a 2-quart saucepan. Do not add salt as this can cause the beans to be tough. Cook gently on the lowest heat necessary to keep the water bubbling. When they are tender remove the lid and leave on low heat. Reduce the liquid to retain the nutrients without excess liquid when you add the beans to the remainder of the recipe.

    Use a 4-quart, heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven to prepare the sauce. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the pork (or substitute) over medium high heat until it is lightly browned. Stir in the onion and celery. Cook and stir for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the cumin, coriander, garlic powder, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, savory, and marjoram. Also add the water and pumpkin. Bring the heat up slowly and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.

    When you taste the sauce it will seem very flat. This is where the cider vinegar comes in. It adds the sweetness and tang that you are looking for in a chili. Start with 1/3 cup and taste to see if you want a bit more. The difference is quite amazing. Add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes. Top with the fresh cilantro if you are using it.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

PS – There were no pictures. I was too anxious to remember while in process and it went directly into the freezer until I was able to get it to Rita.

    However, here is a picture of my breakfast this morning. Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  is writing a new cookbook centered on gluten-free breakfast dishes for those battling Candida infections. This was SO yummy – flavor, texture, and nutrition all wrapped up in one bowl of hot cereal!

Blended Cereal with a Boost

Blended Cereal with a Boost


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Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad for a Potluck

   I do not, really, do not know what led me to try Ricki’s Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad. The idea of a warm salad didn’t grab me immediately – maybe because our Central Texas weather is warming and the birds are singing, building nests, flowers are blooming, weeds popping up, etc. I like chickpeas okay and the same with artichokes. Maybe it was Ricki’s picture with all the herbs. But it kept hanging around in the back of my thoughts until I finally felt compelled to try it. I bought a can of artichokes and with the can of chickpeas on hand put it together. It was good – some things are better than the sum of their parts and this was unexpectedly one of those. A few days later I decided to repeat the recipe with home-cooked chickpeas. That was even better. Plus I added chopped romaine and had it as a cold salad. Then I shared it with Ann and then Andrea who both loved it. Then our neighborhood had the spring potluck earlier this week and I made a TRIPLE batch of this salad. I have been craving this salad like it was cookies and wonder just what is going on with my taste buds.
   Starting with dry beans adds greatly to the overall taste and experience. I soaked the dry beans for over 24 hours until they swelled to double the original size and looked like they were going to sprout (drained and the water replaced after about 12 hours). Then they were drained again and cooked in fresh water with a lid on the pot. The liquid needs skimming occasionally as the white foam bubbles up. Then they simmer quietly on the stove for 90 minutes. Quickly drain them and return the hot chickpeas to the pot. Put the lid back on and set aside to continue cooking in the residual heat and to finally cool down. You can continue the salad from this point but I prefer to do this prep the day before I start the second phase. They are stored in the refrigerator until needed.
   The second preparation phase involves pan-roasting the chickpeas and artichokes, separately. While Ricki’s warm salad came together very quickly this one takes me a couple of days staging for everything to marinate before adding the fresh greens. (Sighhh, the extra time is so worth it)
   The third and final preparation step is to chop a head of fresh romaine and mix with the marinated chickpeas and artichokes – no other embellishments required. I had leftovers only because 1) I made a huge punch bowlful and 2) there were 5-6 other bowls of fresh homemade salads.

Roasted Chickpea and Artichoke Salad – 4-6 servings
1-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, well drained (1 cup dry chickpeas before cooking)
6-8 artichoke hearts (about one large can), well drained and quartered
1/3 cup natural almonds, coarsely chopped or sesame seeds or pepitas, totally optional

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I used celery leaves :-))
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more, to taste
Romaine or other seasonal salad greens

Prepare the chickpeas and set aside.
Open the artichokes and drain them well. Cut into quarters and set aside.

Pour 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into a skillet. When the oil is hot add the chickpeas. Cook over medium heat until they are a light golden color (10-15 minutes, longer if you double/triple the batch). Remove the chickpeas to a salad bowl large enough to contain your completed salad.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the quartered artichokes and roast them over medium heat turning them very gently occasionally so as to not break them (they are already very tender). Add the garlic and dry herbs along the way. When the artichokes are roasted and the herbs are fragrant add them to the chickpeas in the salad bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Mix the ingredients together so that the herbs and dressing are distributed throughout. Cover the bowl and put the salad into the refrigerator to marinate and mellow. It is really good if you have a full day for this – although it is not critical as there is plenty of flavor going on.

To complete the salad you will add chopped greens of your choosing. I like to use romaine. You can add more or less to your liking. If you add more greens you may want to add a bit more dressing as the chickpeas seem to absorb quite a bit during the marinade process.

The first time I made this I used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. An oil and vinegar dressing of any type is good once you have the basic seasonings in place. The very nutritious main ingredients are rather bland on their own – it is the seasoning and dressing that makes it great!

BTW – Ellen DeGeneres has gone vegan and sugar-free and Ricki wants to be the expert that is invited to appear on The Ellen Show and cook for Ellen. Ricki needs support for her ‘Quest for Ellen’. Please read about it and then link to Ellen’s page and compose a request citing Ricki as just the expert she needs!
Click right here ->EL-LENd Me A Hand! Thanks!


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Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup

   I always loved my mother’s homemade lentil soup. Ever since then lentils and carrots seemed to me like a naturally ordained pairing. When Sprouts opened a new store nearby in Round Rock their prominently displayed gluten-free labels brought the Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup to my attention and I decided to try it. This is really good soup. Not fancy, not too pricey, and just perfect to have in the pantry for a quick meal when there are no leftovers to be found in the fridge.
   The ingredients are simple organic vegetables, organic olive oil, sea salt and spices. The label specifies that the herbs and spices contain no hidden ingredients. While the facility does process wheat, I have personally had no gluten reaction. Instead my tummy is full of warm soup and I have an overall feeling of contented well-being after a bowl of this tasty, balanced, nutrition-packed soup.
This is not to be confused with the basic Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup which has fewer vegetables – read the labels and pick the one you like. I choose the one with more veggies (and spices)!


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Cream of Celery Soup

    When you clean out your email messages you need to be careful that you do not delete something you meant to save! Rita and I often communicate by email because of our varying time zones and activity schedules. I found notes that we exchanged months ago about this quick, hot soup when she was in the middle of one of her very limited diets.
   This soup is tasty, fast, nourishing, and warm for those days when you are looking for comfort food without a heavy load of carbohydrates to drag you down. OK, Mom note here: it is fast if you have a ready supply of diced, boiled celery in the fridge (Mom has that Celery Obsession). Otherwise there is some preparation of the celery.

Boiled Celery
The coarse outer ribs and dark green leaves from a stalk of celery, chopped as fine as you prefer
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Simmer the ingredients together in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the celery is tender. Tough celery may take a while. Store in the fridge until you need it for Lentil Patties, Rice and Beans Casserole or this soup.

Cream of Celery Soup
1 heaping cup chopped boiled celery including some liquid
garlic powder, chili powder, and sea salt – a sprinkle of each
1/4 cup coconut milk

Mix the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl and heat in the microwave if you want it hot. It could also be served cold for a summer pick-me-up or with a salad for lunch. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.


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Lentil Patties

   The Lentil Rissoles that Ricki featured on Diet, Dessert, & Dogs reminded me of how much I love the combination of lentils and carrots. Lentils were in the pantry, carrots in the fridge, good to go? Um, well not so much I discovered when those lentils were already simmering on the stove. No fresh onions in the house, peas don’t agree with me (even if they are adorable peeking out from a rissole), no gluten-free bread for breadcrumbs – this was going way off track. By then inspiration had cooled and ground walnuts turned into Bob’s Red Mill almond meal from the freezer. As if for the coup-de-grace bread crumbs morphed into basic flour but surprise! The amaranth flour finally found a really excellent and tasty application. Sometimes accidents turn into ‘keepers’ and I’ve repeated this recipe several times now just to be sure. These freeze well, reheat in the microwave, and make a quick, substantial and nutritious breakfast, lunch, or snack. For breakfast these go really well with Rita’s Cranberry Drink.

1 cup lentils, picked over and washed
2 cups broth or bouillon
2 Tbsp onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

1 medium carrot, finely diced or shredded
1/2 – 1 cup finely diced celery or other veggie

2/3 cup almond meal
1/2 cup amaranth flour or chickpea flour

1 Tbsp olive oil

Put the lentils in a saucepan, add the broth, and place over medium heat on the stove. Add the onion, garlic, cumin and coriander. Slowly bring to the boil, add the carrots and celery, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are thoroughly cooked and pulpy, stirring frequently to stop them from sticking and/or scorching. Remove the lid during the last 10 minutes to evaporate any remaining liquid. The mixture should be fairly mushy and there should be no liquid visible on the bottom of the pot.

Fully Cooked, In the Pan

Fully Cooked, In the Pan

Allow the mixture to cool. Stir in the almond meal and flour. Form into eight 3-1/2” round patties. Cover and refrigerate until they are firm.

Ready to Freeze or Brown in Olive Oil

Ready to Freeze or Brown in Olive Oil

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties about 5-6 minutes on each side, until the outsides are browned and crispy and they are heated through. If they are frozen I heat them in the microwave for one minute before sliding them into the skillet with the olive oil. This recipe makes 8 patties that may be frozen before or after browning.


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Mexican Eggplant

   I brought this casserole to last month’s volunteer potluck luncheon meeting. It is a recipe clipped from a grocery store magazine sometime in the late ‘70s. It features nutritious seasonal ingredients and is easy to put together.
   We had a pound of lean pork sausage in the freezer that I used for the ground meat. My green pepper was very large and probably equivalent to a full cup. I also added a cup of finely chopped celery (love that stuff). Sometimes I substitute a drained can of kidney beans for a vegan version. Add a teaspoon of chili powder for a spicier dish when not using sausage.

1 1-lb. eggplant, diced, peeled if you prefer
1 lb. ground meat or a drained can of beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1 16-oz. can stewed or diced tomatoes

Sauté the meat and vegetables in a large saucepan or skillet (a wide skillet is better for cooking these watery vegetables). If not using meat then sauté the vegetables before adding the beans. Add the seasonings. Simmer until the juices are totally reduced to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and simmer over low heat until the green peppers are thoroughly cooked.

Serve alone as a low-carb stew or over rice or your favorite gluten-free pasta.


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Tuna and Macaroni Salad

    This salad received many complements at the volunteer potluck luncheon meeting Friday. They were surprised to find out that it was gluten free. YES! This is the quality of food that is my heartfelt goal.
    The basic recipe makes enough for 3-4 people as a side salad or two main dish servings. Double or triple the recipe for a main dish salad for four or more. The vegetables make it nutrient dense and calorie light. Substitute fresh veggies in season or what you have on hand in the fridge. You may even use canned or frozen-cooked for the veggie component but for me the green onion is the flavor essential of this salad.

Ingredients for Basic Recipe:
3/4 cup dry whole grain rice pasta (Tinkyada)
1 can olive oil packed tuna
1/2 cup light GF mayonnaise (Hellman’s light)
    (note: I am still working on creating homemade egg & soy free mayo)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3/4 cup finely chopped celery & tops
4 cups finely chopped romaine
1 carrot, finely grated (I use a Microplane *)

    Boil the water plus salt for the amount of pasta that you plan to use in a pan that has a lid. Add the pasta and boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot, and set the timer for 20-25 minutes. This is an ‘energy sparse green’ technique advised on the package and it works very well. When it is done you will turn it into a colander and rinse well with cold tap water to stop the cooking process.
    Dump the tuna and oil into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and mix these together very well. Season the mixture to taste with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. This mixture will season the vegetables and pasta so make it quite intense.
    Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well. Add the cooled and well-drained pasta and toss gently to distribute all of the ingredients evenly. Refrigerate until serving.


* Microplane USA has a line of food graters that are interesting in design. The cutting edges work forward or backward but yet are so low that you cannot seriously injure yourself by accident – a bonus for someone like me with poor eye/hand coordination!

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