Fall is officially upon us, which means we can finally celebrate all things pumpkin! For what it’s worth, I believe in waiting it out, slowing down and fully holding onto summer as long as we can. Each season flies by far too quickly, so I truly try to savor each moment and live in the present. The next season always comes.
But the time has come, where we can go hog wild on pumpkin everything. While there is a plethora of pumpkin recipes here on Tasty Yummies, these Spicy Pumpkin Fries may be one of my all time favorite pumpkin recipes. I shared these last year as an exclusive email list-only recipe and the response was so huge, I just couldn’t let these get lost in the abyss of email inboxes gone by, so here we are!
Savory, spicy and just a little crisp – this is what fries are all about, no matter what they are made from. Traditionally we know that fries out in the wild, are submerged in a vat of adulterated vegetable and seed oils, these oils are truly some of the worst things we can put it our body. (read more here) But, when made at home, baked with high quality oils, you can enjoy without the worry of toxic fats.
These Cast Iron Crispy Chicken Thighs are insanely simple, plus ready in under 30 minutes this super crispy, crackly and epically tasty chicken is a great weeknight dinner option.
In my continued efforts to bring you more of the simple, easy dishes that I cook on the weekly here in our house, along with solid fuss-free options for those of you transitioning to a more whole food focused, real food lifestyle – today, I give you a personal favorite of ours: Cast Iron Crispy Chicken Thighs.
These crispy, crackly-skinned chicken thighs are a staple around here and with varying spices and flavors, along with your desired sides, these are a simple weeknight option that you will never tire of. Plus it’s ready in under 30 minutes.
I know many of you don’t read my words, you look at the pictures, you scroll down to the recipe and maybe you make it. Or maybe you don’t. I get it. No offense taken. Good news for those of you in the no-words-please club, you’ll be excited for this post and maybe those in the coming few weeks. I have finals coming up and studying is of the highest priority but I can’t not create and share recipes, it’s my life blood, it’s my energy source, it literally fuels me. We’re also leaving town tomorrow, headed to Palm Springs for our wedding anniversary. I plan to sit by the pool, read my text books, study my flashcards and maybe sneak in some napping and cocktails while I am at it, too. All that said, writing words right now feels harder than any community projects, any tests and quizzes, essays or book reviews – somehow it’s weighing on me heavier than anything else.
While this fall has been one of the busiest I can recall, I have also been fortunate to be traveling a ton, living life to it’s fullest and doing my best to enjoy each and every moment. While visiting San Diego county a few weeks ago, in the adorable town of Julian, my husband, Mark, and I were walking the Main Street of this quaint old gold mining town. Julian is an enigma of Southern California, experiencing all 4 seasons, even including snow in the winter. It’s unlike any other place I have been out here. It was an instant love-connection for this east coast girl.
We went at the start of the fall season and autumn was already in the air. Crisp cool breezes, chilly nights, the leaves of many of the trees already changing color and the sweet scent of apple pie in the air. This town doesn’t mess around when it comes to apples. After the gold rush was over, the pioneers remained in Julian, as they began farming the rich land. While many crops were planted and animals raised, apples seemed to be their new “gold”. To this day, during apple season, you will find fruit stands filled with fresh organic apples, locally pressed real apple cider and pies galore. Oh the pies! Quite literally, Main Street in Julian is filled with the aroma of this spiced comfort food.
As we strolled the tiny Main Street, Mark was seeking out what he deemed to be “the perfect slice”. I am pretty sure we walked into every single bakery and he looked on as if he was making a major investment purchase. Only a few city blocks long, Main Street had near 10 bakeries, all specializing in their version of this American classic. I was convinced, being gluten-free, I would only be experiencing this as an observer, enjoying the smells and the smile on my husband’s pie-loving face. But alas, I found one amazing bakery, tucked away a bit off the beaten path, Apple Alley Bakery. The only bakery in ALL of Julian offering gluten-free pies. I opted for the Apple Boysenberry Crumb Pie and as soon as my slice was gone, I wanted more.
It’s quite fitting that my fifth and final recipe for this series of healthy travel snacks, I created with Albertsons, is being written from around 37,000 feet in the air. I am flying from California to the East Coast where I will be spending a total of 10 days between Maine and New York. As usual, I have a large selection of healthy snacks packed away for my travels. While I find when flying I have to be a bit more selective with my snack choices, homemade energy bars are always a must. They are super travel-friendly and so simple to whip up the night before my trips.
By now I am sure you’ve caught my tutorial on how-to make your own homemade energy bars, but if you haven’t get to it. It’s the perfect formula to create the perfect bars for your favorite flavors. These bars were one of the few that I have made more than a few times and inspired the ideas of the adaptable tutorial.
These tropical-inspired bars are a great, healthy snack for bringing along on your vacation, but they are also a wonderful way to bring the vacation to you at home. Coconut and pineapple always summons the tropics. Think fancy frozen drinks with umbrellas on the beach.
These particular energy bars are made nut-free, but you can certainly add nuts to fill them out a bit more, if you prefer. Almonds, walnuts, pecans – these are all great options.
Add saltiness to any sweet and I simply cannot pass it up. Salted caramel anything, now that is just swoon-level obsession. I just can’t even begin to imagine not indulging. Sadly, however, most times, I have to.
When you are mindful of what you eat, whether it be that you prefer, or are forced to avoid things like gluten, dairy and refined sugar, a lot of times that means deciding to go without things that you truly love and would love to partake in with everyone else. It’s not because you don’t want to treat yourself or indulge a bit, more so it’s rarely worth the surely guaranteed repercussions. So often these days I see posts on social media where folks that are without dietary challenges, making blanket statements like “oh just eat it, you only live once” or something to that effect. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, I feel like in this one life I am certain I have to live, I no longer want to spend it with a stomach ache. I don’t want to walk this earth with a bloated belly, chronic headaches, achey joints or a cloudy brain. Call me crazy!
I have found the beauty of this life lies within the challenges. This is where the magical and epic creation happens. What a better use of our energy, am I right? I’d actually much prefer to constantly be finding myself getting creative out of a need, rather than falling into complacency and monotony. I have discovered some amazing things about myself and the world within these challenges and needs.
For me, scent is a huge memory trigger. The aroma of something can waft my way and instantly I am transported back to another time. I always think of the old cartoons where the steamy aroma of a fresh baked pie, suddenly morphs into a hand, quite literally coaxing and lifting up the characters and carrying them right to the goodies. Think Mickey Mouse being tempted by the vapor hand from the scent of a Minnie’s freshly baked cake, right to her kitchen window. This is likely seconds before she slams the window down and says “ah ah ah”. For me rather than being taken to someone’s window, I find myself reliving memories, remembering people I love and those times gone by. It’s one of my most favorite things about cooking, especially since moving away from my family.
Being Greek, growing up I was constantly surrounded by all the delicious, home cooked meals. There are still smells to this day that remind me of my family and most specifically my late, Great Yia Yia and my Yia Yia. The smell of potatoes roasting with garlic, cinnamon and honey will always make me think of baklava syrup simmering away on the stove top, cinnamon in a savory tomato sauce will trigger my nose to think of moussaka or pastitsio and a big pot of homemade chicken stock will always make me want avgolemono soup. Of course, chocolate melting will also get me, since my Great Yia Yia had a full-blown candy making set up in the basement, from her days of owning the ice cream and soda shop. They made some delicious chocolates!
Lamb was another food served quite often, whether, roasted, grilled or used in dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Though not a food I make quite often, whenever I do prepare it, I think of all my family back home in NY, so I have certainly found myself making it more since we’ve moved out to California. It makes me miss our summer picnics with the huge Greek family, out at the lake, a big leg of lamb slowly grilling over an open fire, all day. Or my Yia Yia’s homemade Greek lamb meatballs, which my parent’s seemed to perfect quite well and made often when we were growing up.
Here’s the deal, in the heat of the Summer, on those real, super duper hot days, I can sometimes become a bit of a lazy, wanna-do-nothing-monster. I legitimately always try to find the easy way out for meals on days like this. See also: all the salads, crock-pot meals and the throwing of any and all things onto the grill! As someone that likes a little something sweet now and again, this same logic applies. I cannot justify baking and I don’t always have the patience to wait for popsicles to freeze.
I always consider it a small victory when I can create a recipe that not only tastes incredible and is healthy, but is super easy, too! I live for this actually! Eating well should not just be fun and tasty, but it should be simple and something we can all do. If it’s too difficult or challenging, this is when we revert back to the easy options, take out, processed foods, store bought ice cream loaded with god knows what.
So let’s vow right here and now, to keep all the summer foods as simple as possible. Less steps, less ingredients, less equipment and tools, starting with this 3-Ingredient Banana Matcha Ice Cream. I know we’ve all seen the banana ice cream phenom that has swept the internet over the last few years! If you are no stranger to this, than you will know that this ice cream is simply a fancy variation on this classic, easy recipe. It seriously doesn’t get much easier than this. If you are like me, a smoothie addict, you always have a few bananas in the freezer, just waiting for smoothies or banana ice cream.
Sometimes in life we can’t have things just as we want them. Concessions have to be made or we have to just miss out. We have an opportunity even in these littlest of moments to make a decision, we can either wallow and whine, feeling sorry for ourselves, or we can suck it up, make a new plan of action and be inspired to create something that works for us, in the here and now.
Back when I was doing the Autoimmune Protocol last month, I was feeling quite sad as Cinco de Mayo was approaching and every single other human (at least all the ones in my various social media feeds), were posting about tacos and margaritas, chips and salsa, burritos and the like. When you can’t have nightshades (so that’s no peppers of any kind or tomatoes, so basically salsa), any grains or corn, cheese, alcohol plus no meat for me at that time, either, all this stacks up making tacos or really any Mexican food at all, seem quite impossible.
It was time to get crafty and creative and put my brain to work! Honestly, I could have lived without tacos that day, but then I got to thinking about all of you that live with these dietary challenges and restrictions outside of just 30 days, maybe it’s part of every single day for you. That was the perfect motivation to come up with a taco recipe that could easily be adapted to whatever you need it to be.
Enter these amazing Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Mango Cucumber Salsa. Here’s the deal, I am sharing this recipe as I made them, to be totally Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Friendly. This also makes them gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, night-shade free, nut-free, seed-free and they also are meat-free (DUH). These tacos are the real deal, so much flavor, so many great textures and gorgeous colors. You won’t miss a thing.
Whether you to avoid consuming corn and grains because have an allergy/intolerance or maybe you just prefer to limit how often you eat them, either way we all know this makes eating Mexican food a challenge. I am next to certain this life isn’t worth living without tacos – I’m just sayin’. OK that may be a bit dramatic, but I for one don’t actually love the idea of never having a taco again, just because I want to make healthier choices.
With Cinco de Mayo and several trips to Mexico falling within a one-month period, tacos have definitely been on my mind and in my dreams! I decided rather than cry while everyone around me was indulging in all the tacos, I used this as inspiration to come up with an alternative.
Plantain tortillas are certainly not something I invented, I have seen plenty of adaptations, some call for eggs, some use the plantains uncooked. I have played around with many variations, but these seem to be what works best for me (lightly adapted from this recipe). The key is green plantains. The greens ones are starchy and less sweet than the yellow. For my money, these produce the most authentic tortillas. I also recommend cooking them first, it softens them and when you add some water the mixture feels just the way traditional masa feels when making homemade tortillas.
There are a few steps here, but they are well worth it, you’ll think so too, especially as you are enjoying epic tacos. Plus you can make the tortillas ahead of time, store in the fridge and cook up anytime within 3 days, or so.
I find adding the fresh lime zest to really tone down any sweetness and bring out the traditional tortilla vibes. I have also been known to add a pinch or two of chile powder or garlic powder, for extra flavor.
Let’s get to it…
I think we can all agree that with summer nipping at our heels, there are certain foods that conjure up feelings of quick, light bites perfect for our busy summer schedule that we all tend to pack solid. Quick meals that can be eaten outside on the deck or around the pool are usually on the menu in our house. I know for me, I think of burgers. Besides tacos, it’s the quintessential food that you can eat with your hands without much fuss. Unfortunately, if you can’t have grains this means rolls are either out of the question or you have to find a grain-free alternative that doesn’t require tons of prep.
I, for one, prefer to simply go without the rolls, after all it’s all about the burger, not matter what kind. I adore a good lettuce wrapped burger. I find that crunch is a great fresh texture. I also love a good homemade veggie burger. With the right ingredients and toppings, it can be a meal on it’s own. So many store-bought veggie burgers are loaded with legumes or grains/gluten, soy, gluten and other things we some of us may not be able to have. The list of ingredients can be quite long and by the time you’ve found a comfortable seat at the store to sit down and read through them all, you get to the end, only to find it just won’t work for you.
You didn’t think I would skip out on sharing a recipe for Cinco de Mayo, did you? I know when most of you think of Cinco de Mayo and Mexican food, you think of margaritas – I know I do. How could you not? But, today I am sharing the recipe for another traditional Mexican drink (also popular in Central America), this one non-alcoholic. Agua Frescas are traditional drinks, a blend of fruits, botanicals, seeds, etc., sweetener and water is added. It’s refreshing and a great way to celebrate what is in season. Of course, we already know how I feel about fruit infused water concoctions.
Happy 5th Birthday Tasty Yummies!!!
This week we are celebrating Tasty Yummies’ Birthday / Anniversary / Blogaversary!! I seriously cannot believe it has been 5 years since I sat down to share the first gluten-free recipe here. Where, oh where has this time gone? From the deepest depths of my heart, I thank each and every one of you for supporting me and this website over the last 5 years. I can say in all sincerity, this blog and my life wouldn’t be what they are – without all of you!!
Besides the usual feelings of excitement surrounding a big anniversary like this, it has also stirred up some unique emotions, as well. Given the state of things currently, I am reminded fondly on this special day of the idea that this blog was built from my desire to create a space, a virtual community where I could share my journey and my creations! I also always had the hope that in the process of sharing, I might help to empower others to find strength amidst a less than ideal situation with their health and diet. Here we are, 5 years later, continuing our journey together, with new struggles and challenges unique to us, yet still reminded that we are not alone.
Sometimes in life, you have to shift your focus and your energy, finding the positive in whatever situation you are in, no matter how challenging. Being in the middle of the autoimmune protocol, I have actually been finding so much joy in the restrictions. I get so excited I find myself dancing around the kitchen when I can pull together a delicious recipe that not only fits the long list of things that are not allowed but actually tastes good and makes me as happy as any other recipe would. This has all been so much more rewarding than the usual creations. With each recipe I develop, it feels like I have completed the most challenging board in a video game, I get my gold crown and I get to move on to the next level. I’ve actually have been quite enjoying this forced shift in my perspective, the encouragement and motivation to be creative in the kitchen – it’s all so invigorating and it makes each step and each day easier!
I won’t lie to you though, with all of the many restrictions on my diet currently, I nearly let this special celebration pass. I was worried that without some grandiose, pinterest-worthy baked good, a layered cake or dainty little cupcakes with cute little number 5s on them – that it wouldn’t feel much like a birthday. But that just simply isn’t true! So what, I can’t have my favorite grain-free chocolate cake right now? There is still so much celebrate and it’s just as special of a holiday, chocolate or not!
I previously eluded to the fact that I was starting an Autoimmune / Leaky Gut Protocol on Monday of last week and that I would a some point fill you all in on more details. So here we are. As a reminder, I was diagnosed last summer via kidney biopsy, with an autoimmune form of kidney disease, called IgA Nephropathy. It hasn’t progressed too far, my kidneys are still functioning at very high levels and I have been lucky enough to have had little to no symptoms. After the diagnosis I was placed on several pharmaceuticals to protect my kidneys long term, from this progressive disease which can, if left untreated, in some patients lead to kidney failure later in life. As soon as I started taking the drugs, I found myself feeling terrible. I was tired and lethargic, I had rashes and developed acne, I found myself with terrible stomach aches and pains, I was chronically bloated and gassy, etc. In speaking with my Naturopathic doctor at the start of this year, we have discovered I am dealing with leaky gut and we have decided it best to first heal my gut and get this under control so we can properly investigate my kidney disease further. I have since been taken off all prescription drugs and I am on a regime of supplements and herbs with my doctor to protect my kidneys, aid in the healing of my gut and more.
I will work hard to keep this as short as I can, I don’t want for this to become a how-to or a resource on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, many of those already exist online and in books and I honestly have no problem admitting that I am still a total newbie when it comes to all of this. Truthfully, I am slowly navigating my own way through this new journey, so I am far from an expert.
My plan is to follow this Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for a minimum of 30 days. I am very grateful to have somewhat minimal symptoms on the larger scale of leaky gut and autoimmune conditions, though they are there enough for me to want to get things under control and get back to feeling like myself. The plan is to give myself these 30 days to allow my body and my gut the time it needs to heal. I am really crossing my fingers that this will be enough time. After 30 days I will slowly begin to reintroduce foods and decipher my body’s response to each and go from there on deciding if I need to pursue this protocol further or not.
It should be said, this protocol isn’t necessarily a full list of ingredients to be avoided forever just because you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder or leaky gut. This is simply a plan to follow for a minimum of 30 days to give your body the opportunity to heal and the time to remain on the plan, from there differs for each individual.
For me, after just the first 7 days I have already noticed marked improvement. Less bloating and gas. I am still dealing with some discomfort with certain foods, usually my tummy seems to be most agitated when I eat too many fibrous veggies. That huge bowl of cauliflower with a sh*t ton of kale on top, maybe not the best idea. Woowee! I am also noticing some response to the changed diet. I am not sure if I can call them detox symptoms or “die off”, but I have certainly noticed some other new symptoms. But I am happy to report that I am already be getting some relief, so I am on the right track.
Here is a super quick overview on the details of the autoimmune / leaky gut protocol I am following for at least 30 days: