Entertaining Ideas, Part I: Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzers (Paleo!)

I am so done with this cold. It’s April 7th, and yet somehow, there’s still snow in the forecast. I realize that we’ve gotten snowstorms over the years before as late as April, but to be honest, ayeye! It’s cold, I want to go get my herbs to plant this year, and here we are, still wearing Winter jackets. One of these days, it’ll be about 75 degrees and I’ll wonder what happened to Spring. Well, that dingus groundhog saw his shadow (or something) and really stuck it to us with our 6 more weeks of Winter. What he meant was actually 10 more weeks of Winter, with no Spring, right into Summer. But, I digress.

During those fleeting moments of good weather, I absolutely get the itch for Springtime parties and the like. Entertaining, friends coming over, dinner parties, my FAVORITE. Fortunately, I had some time yesterday, so a little playing around with some flavors was in the itinerary. Now, I don’t really ever drink liquor – I especially don’t drink vodka (personal choice)… however, I realize some of my friends like it a little now and again. I have a mystery handle of vodka sitting in my freezer, and I had a thought – what about a little Springtime aperitif? The herbs at the grocery store are so beautiful, why not… drink them, too? I love spices, flavoring anything, so putting herbs in your drinks is perfect (hello, Mojitos!). And there it was – my Lemon Basil Vodka spritzer. My spring cocktail was born.

This requires a little bit of patience, and a few kitchen (or bar) tools, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s refreshing, and you can omit the vodka and soda and just have a nice lemonade. One editor’s note…. I don’t actually know how much vodka one prefers in their drink… so…. add that at your discretion. In fact, i’ll preface this recipe with the fact that drink ratios are all about preference. If you like sweet lemonade, add more sweetener. If you like to taste your alcohol, add more. Change it up!

Actually, another editor’s note – if you have Celiac’s disease, be cautious of your vodka brand. Though it’s a distilled spirit and there technically should NOT be any gluten in your vodka, a wheat-based vodka may be made in a facility that is cross-contaminated with wheat products. If avoiding gluten as a major health concern, stick to brands that are derived from wheat-free foods, such as Ciroc (grapes), VuQo (coconuts), or Karlsson’s (potato). Other brands such as Absolut, Grey Goose, Stolichnaya, SKYY and Smirnoff are wheat-based, so be cautious if wheat is a concern.

 

Lemon-Basil Vodka Spritzer (Paleo..!?)

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 25-30 min

Makes about 2 quarts

fullsizeoutput_717.jpeg

Ingredients

  • ~1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup (or sweetener of choice), plus more to taste if needed
  • 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
  • 4 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (6 to 8 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 cup club soda (sodium-free, if possible)
  • 6-8 shots of vodka….or more, or less, this is a guess

 

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan, muddle the basil with a tsp of water together with a wooden spoon, until the leaves are broken and bruised. Add 2 cups of water and sweetener, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until all of your sweetener has dissolved. Be careful not to bring your mix to a rolling boil, as you’ll burn off the basil flavor.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow the basil to steep in the syrup until cool – feel free to add any extra fresh basil if preferred. Once cooled, strain your mixture into a pitcher. Add 4 cups of water and the lemon juice, and stir well.
  3. Add your club soda, and continue to stir.
  4. To your preference, add your vodka – since this makes a pitcher, I’d add about a shot per drink serving, and since this will serve approximately 6-8 people, add 1 shot per person. Allow to cool completely before serving – serve over ice with a garnish of basil and lemon.

Enjoy!

-S

Spicy Crunchy Chipotle Chicken (Paleo)

Had a long weekend this weekend… fortunately spent a lot of it cooking, woo! I’ll have a lot of good recipes for you 🙂 I went out for a friend’s birthday to this place in north Philly called Urban Axes. It was really fun… something I never thought I’d say about drinking and throwing axes at a target. A little danger is fun.

The real fun happened afterwards — we went to eat and had the most delicious BBQ food at Fette Sau, in Fishtown (Philly). I got mac and cheese and baked beans as my sides, which were eh… but the MEAT. Omg, the meat. It was sold by the pound — I got some “burnt ends”, which is the crispy last pieces of the brisket, pork shoulder and pork butt. It was glorious… I love burnt food.

I was everywhere this weekend… I also went to Produce Junction in Exton, where I got 2 dozen roses for $5.00. Five dollars = happiness. I also bought some alstroemeria, which are the cutest little flowers that last forever. My sitting area is basically a garden. Which reminds me, I cannot WAIT to plant my herbs! I’m going to make a point to use them when I cook. Since the herbs got infected when they were brought in last year with little mites, I have to be careful to not let that happen this year.

Friday, I had the day off from work so I dedicated it to making some delicious recipes that I hope you’ll all really like 🙂 to start, how about some spicy chicken!??! The weather is poppin today, this recipe is poppin, I’m going to take my dog for a walk… just trying to make the best of global warming. For those of you that miss a good breaded chicken but can’t do any gluten, this is a treat for you. it has the crunch of a good panko, but is actually made from plantains and almond flour. Tasty, especially for picky eaters! Check it out.

Spicy Crunchy Chipotle Chicken (Paleo)

fullsizeoutput_68d.jpeg

Prep time: 20 min

cook time: 25 min

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced in half thickness-wise
  • 10 oz (1 large bag or 2 small bags) plantain chips, plain
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle

For the coating/extra sauce

  • 1 cup paleo mayo, or soy-free veganaise
  • 2-3 tbsp adobo sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease with ghee or coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your mayo, adobo sauce, garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper. Adjust flavors as needed. Scoop out about 3 tbsp, and set aside. You will need this later for your garnish.
  3. Crush your plantain chips until fine crumbs, similar to panko or as crumbly as you can get them. Add them to another large bowl, along with your almond flour, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper and chipotle. Mix with a fork until combined.
  4. Similar to chicken Milanese, this is a step by step process. Dip the chicken into the sauce, coating generously and thoroughly. Allow any excess to drip off, and place in breading, pressing to coat thoroughly. If you have any spots that are missed, make sure to cover. Place on your baking sheet, evenly spaced.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, until chicken starts to brown. Remove from heat and drizzle with extra mayo sauce.

Enjoy!

-S

 

Best 2017 Holiday Gifts for the Healthy-Food, Natural-Beauty and Causeworthy-Clothing Junkies

Some might say I get a little excited when it comes to gift giving. When I was younger, I used to buy birthday and Christmas presents for people, and in typical Sarah fashion, I would do it months ahead of time. The problem with this was that I couldn’t wait to give them their gifts and demanded they open it immediately.

Not a whole lot has changed about that, so I really have to fight the urge to hold onto presents when I have them for people. It’s hard. Life is hard.

The drawback with gift-buying these days is that the preference is digital, and since everyone’s super busy, it can be hard to really know your audience when gift shopping. When in doubt, I always aim for something healthy or sustainable

So – if I’m not thinking about food? I’m probably thinking about shopping. There’s definitely a LOT going on this season in terms of fun stuff at every price-point! See below for my favorite picks for this year.

$25 and under

Pacha Whipped Soap + Scrub – $12

Pacha

www.pachasoap.com

I absolutely love this stuff. The fact that it smells amazing is, oddly enough, the least cool thing about it (but a major selling point!). The owners of this company have embarked on a mission to provide underserved communities around the world with clean water and soap, and means to help them improve their situation. You can find this at Whole Foods.

Black & Decker CitrusMate Plus Juicer – $17.99

Black-And-Decker-CitrusMate-Plus-Juicer

www.vitacost.com

This is one of those things you didn’t know you needed until you have it. For those of us that hate pulp, you can even filter that out. This is perfect for recipes, measuring your juice, and just makes an all-around great little addition for someone you know that loves to do stuff in the kitchen. This makes it super easy and quick to make some delicious Lavender Lemonade…

HUM Nutrition Daily Cleanse Skin Supplement – $25

hum1

www.sephora.com

I really like this vitamin. It’s vegan, sustainably sourced, and is free of most major allergens. It has green tea extract, chlorella, MSM, and other beneficial plant nutrients. Sephora stocks a few different types to suit different skin needs, long with some other products in this line. Definitely worth a look.

Chef’n Kale & Greens Stripper – $7.95

www.chefn.com

I use this thing all the time… and quite frankly, what was life without it? For the amount of Garlic Tahini Kale Salad that we make, this is a huge time saver. It’s even great for tedious little herbs like Thyme and Rosemary. It’s easy to wash, compact to store, and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Youth to the People Cleanser and Cream Mini Duo – $20

kale spinach face

www.sephora.com

This little set is great for people who have allergies to a lot of other major skincare lines. While I’m a Clinique/Origins girl myself, I’ve tried this and really liked how smooth it left my dry skin. It is made with actual spinach and kale – like a salad for your face!


$50 and under

Cuisipro Fat Separator – $34.95

cuisipro

www.surlatable.com

If you’ve ever made a gravy, confit anything where you need to separate a liquid, this is a great tool to have. The little filter separates the pan drippings and solids, it cleans easily, and its BPA-free, which I feel is really important if you’re using plastic.

OXO V-Blade Mandoline – $39.95

mandoline

www.oxo.com

I have a mandoline very similar to this, and it has greatly reduced the time spent slicing potatoes, cucumbers, apples, onions, etc… as well as greatly reduced my fear of cutting my finger off (came very close, one time….) The great thing about this is that it folds up nice and flat, comes apart to clean well, and is adjustable using a little nozzle.

Gandy’s Flip Flops – $33

gandys1.jpg

www.gandysflipflops.com

This company was started after two brothers from the UK were traveling in Sri Lanka when the 2004 tsunami  hit – unfortunately both of their parents were killed. This was their motivation to create something that would help other orphans, specifically those impacted by the tsunami, by helping build orphanages in India and Sri Lanka. Your feet feel good, you feel good!

Kopari Coconut Multitasking Kit -$40

Kopari

www.everythingbutwater.com

This little set includes Coconut Melt, a nice blend of Kopari’s 100% organic coconut oil, as well as aloe vera, cocoa seed butter and beeswax. The Body Glow has to be the best part of this – well worth trying!

WHBM Living Beyond Breast Cancer Butterfly Print Scarf – $48

whbm scarf

www.whbm.com

I may be a bit partial to White House Black Market (I’ve worked there part time for almost 7 years), but I’ve been really touched by the company’s involvement with and contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer – an organization that helps women assimilate back into normal life once in remission from Breast Cancer. I’ve had a few family members and close friends that have experienced this, and it really touches me to know that there’s an organization out there that serves this purpose.

Antonym Certified Organic Baked Blush – $36

Antonym blush

www.antonymcosmetics.com

This blush has a great shimmer to it, is cruelty free and Ecocert certified. The naturally-derived mica flecks give a nice shimmer without nasty aluminum, or other harsh chemicals. I prefer the Peach color for lighter skin tones, but according to reviews, the copper tone is a really nice tone on darker skin. It comes in a fun wooden container, so makes a great gift.


$100 and under

Taaluma Totes – $60-100

taluuma

www.carryacountry.com

The concept of these tote bags is pretty  cool. Wool and cotton from all around the world is brought back to the US, where disabled adults are employed to construct each bag. As if that didn’t make you smile, proceeds from the sale go back to the fabric’s country of origin in the form of a micro-loan to farmers and small business owners. YET – there’s more – the repayment funds go towards purchasing even more fabric, so as to promote sustainable economic growth. Carry your bag, carry the world.

Gloss Moderne Clean Luxury Masque – $65

gloss moderne

www.glossmoderne.com

This super conditioning mask is great for curly hair – it doesn’t weigh your hair down and keeps everything super sleek with zero frizz. The smell is to die for – the company’s signature scent was created by a popular perfumery. The best ingredient? Cocoa Butter 🙂

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Covered Casserole – $100

le creuset casserole

www.lecreuset.com

This is another one of those things where, when you have it, you use it all the time and you can’t remember what life was like before you had it. A covered casserole dish is a great alternative to cooking things in a traditional dish with foil – the best part is, there’s no waste to remove and throw away. This one is big enough to fit all of your holiday side dishes, your fall mac and cheese dishes, your picnic salads… the whole nine yards.

Cuisinart Wine Opener – $99.95 – currently on sale for $79.96

cuisinart wine opener

www.williamssonoma.com

Remember those days in college when you would only buy screw-top wine bottles because you didn’t have a wine opener? Remember those days when… I still do that… because I’m lazy, shred a cork every now and again, and this screw-top Malbec was on sale? For days where I like to be a bit fancier, I really enjoy using a good ol’ shortcut… and this puppy can open up to 120 wine bottles on a single charge. It’s like a power tool! But, it’s safe! And for the kitchen!

 

Lilah B Perfection Eye Quad – $58

lilah b

www.lilahbeauty.com

This eye palette comes in 4 different combinations to cater to warm and cool skin tones. The best part? It contains aloe, marigold extract and coconut oil to give a creamy color that keeps your eyelids hydrated.

 

Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt and Pepper Mill Set in Copper – $79

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 9.06.41 PM.png

www.williamssonoma.com

These are absolutely beautiful, and are super simple to fill. All you do is flip them over, no work required! It grinds on its own. They stop as soon as you flip them back upright. They’re so pretty, you won’t want to hide them away in your cabinet.

Here you have it — my favorite picks so far for gift buying this year. Keep an eye out for more updates — definitely more to come! Be sure to share with your friends and follow on instagram @ thedivinekitchen for more fun!

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Sarah’s Picks – Best Thanksgiving 2017 Deals For Your Kitchen

The time is upon us where we indulge in food, shopping and all things consumer!

I’m not in the camp that shames America for being such a consumer-driven country. Do we have too much? Yes. Too much stuff, too much food, too much choice, too much free will, just a bunch of too-much. However – that doesn’t need you need to have “too much” of everything yourself. If anything, you could take the fact that there’s “too much”, and share it with those who don’t have enough.

I’ve been stalking all the Amazon Prime deals, the Macy’s deals, and I’m DROOLING at all the goodies!!! A few things, I actually bought to give as gifts… some other things, I bought because they are on sale and if I’m going to get it, now is the time to have it.

I’ve picked through some goodies to show you all the deals i think are worth indulging… take a look!

 

Stainless Steel Knife Sharpener by Zulay Kitchengadget 1.jpg

This little gadget is the best. At only $14.99 (less, if you’re a Prime member!), it’s definitely something to put in your grab-bag. A sharp knife is a safe knife! Make sure you’re prepared to chop, mince and cube this season.

 

Instant-Pot Duo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

gadget 2

This might be perhaps the best little gadget you’ll ever have. A smaller, less expensive version (only $59.99!) of the full size one, it’s perfect for people who don’t have a huge crowd to cook for.

 

Imarku 10 Inch Pro Chef’s Knife 

knives

Did I mention I like sharp knives? This is quite a deal – Imarku is a great brand, and this blade definitely stands up to those who are a little harder on their knives. For only $19.99, go grab them before they’re all gone!

 

Tools of the Trade 13-pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 11.32.58 AM

This is a crazy deal! All of these pots for under $30. This makes a great gift for a college student, new home buyer, or someone who needs to upgrade some of their pots and pans but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

 

LoveU. Silicone Oven Mitts

gadget 4

For anyone that wants something a bit more capable than your typical oven mitt, look no further, especially since they’re less than $13. These little oven gloves are a great gift for any baker or chef.

 

Royal Electric Fast Boiling Glass Tea Kettle 

gadget 6

This is such a great thing to have for entertaining — no need to sit around and watch a tea kettle boil. It’s sleek, and can boil right on your countertop. A great thing so that you can enjoy time with guests as you heat up your tea!

 

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine

gadget 7

If you have never had a great breadmaker to whip up some homemade bread, you’re missing out. This little one is on sale for $59.99, and even includes a timer so you can set it before work, and have fresh-baked bread right in time for dinner!

 

As much as I love a good deal, though… make sure you make an effort to first spend time with your loved ones, and THEN get to shopping. Enjoy – and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-S

Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

I’ve been a bit impulsive lately. Mainly with shopping, chores, and cooking, painting my toenails red – nothing dangerous (but if you knew me, my toes have never been anything other than white or French pink… so this is the real deal).

I bought a mandolin off of Amazon a few months ago. To be completely honest, I forgot I bought it, much like several other kitchen gadgets. I get excited, have an idea, buy a tool I need, get a recipe together, lose track of time, lose said-recipe, and *poof!* Just like that, a thought now gone far, far away.

I have been craving scalloped potatoes. I can remember my mom as a kid, making Betty Crocker boxed potatoes, and I absolutely loved it. I even tried to eat one of those dehydrated potatoes – PSA – they are not like potato chips. But, with the weird powder mix, the milk, the water…. It just didn’t really seem that appealing to me once I learned how to cook. As a potato connoisseur, I’m surprised I haven’t tried to make them sooner. A regular cheese sauce is easy… anyone can do that. But I wanted a challenge. After rummaging through my cabinet and finding a big old fat potahto, it came to me.

Homemade… dairy free.. why stop there!? Vegan scalloped potatoes, it was.

Now, everyone knows the best part of cheese is, well, cheese. It’s melty, delicious, can be put on pretty much anything. I am a cheese lover, and I don’t have a major sensitivity to dairy, but I respect that it should be used in moderation from a health standpoint… and moderation with cheese is just lame.

I ran to the store and grabbed the first dairy-free cheese that looked good – I landed on Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Cheddar Shreds, and hoped for the best. Let me just say…… this was the perfect choice, because the potatoes came out absolutely delicious.

Enough blabbering, you all need to make these ASAP.

 

Jalapeño Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

fullsizeoutput_468

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large baking potatoes, peeled
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup of Follow Your Heart’s cheddar shreds
  • ½ cup vegetable broth, plus more if needed
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tbsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped – ribs and seeds removed

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a mandolin, slice your potatoes into about 1/4 to 1/8 inch slices. (If you are very skilled with a knife, you can use a knife, but please be careful)
  3. Place the potatoes on a plate or baking sheet and gently pat dry with a paper towel. Add a pinch of salt – not to give a lot of flavor, this is more to help them dry out as you cook your sauce.
  4. In a medium sized saucepan, bring your coconut milk and vegetable broth to a boil. Once bubbling, turn down to medium low heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and jalapeno and continue to stir.
  5. Add your cheese – you may need to turn the heat back up to medium if you don’t see it start to melt. Using a whisk, ensure the mixture stays piping hot but does not burn, so that the vegan cheese can melt. If you find the sauce starts to get too thick, you can add more vegetable broth, a splash at a time. At this point – taste your sauce. It should have a good kick, perhaps more than you’d normally season a sauce – remember, the potato starch will absorb a lot of it, so you want some flavor!
  6. As the sauce simmers, arrange your potatoes into an 8×8 baking dish – no need to grease, the coconut milk prevents the potatoes from sticking to the bottom. Arrange the potatoes in several layers so that each slice is mostly flat but stacked on top of each other. If you use a different sized baking pan, this is fine – your potatoes may not stack as deep but that shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. Pour the sauce over your potatoes so that they are almost completely covered. If you feel you need more sauce, you can add a splash of vegetable broth to the top, and poke potatoes around with a fork to gently mix the sauce. The potatoes will absorb a lot, so no need to worry about mixing the sauce uniformly if this is needed.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top starts to get golden brown. Remove from heat and add a dash of salt and pepper to the top (this is added now rather than before, so that the potatoes don’t absorb and diffuse the salt right away upon cooking)
  9. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

 

Enjoy!

-S

 

8 Easy Paleo Alternatives To Your Every Day Diet

As a follower of the Paleo diet*, I try to adhere to the basic principles as best I can, unless I absolutely must eat French fries and drink beer. I have zero dietary allergies or restrictions, but do this more to maintain a healthy lifestyle with some flexibility.

A lot of people as why I care so much about eating things that follow the Paleolithic diet, and why I think it’s a relevant lifestyle in 2017. Let’s be honest, if it were 45,000 BCE and I were wearing a mammoth loincloth, running around barefoot and gathering nuts, seeds and berries for my young…. I probably wouldn’t be ordering Coconaise off of Amazon, or eating Dijon Crusted Chicken (which you should definitely try….).

But… that was then, this is now, and we have OPTIONS! Woo! The concept of the Paleolithic diet is to eat things in the purest form your body can tolerate. I don’t recommend tearing at raw meat as I’m sure someone out there does, but you don’t want to eat processed and refined foods if you can help it. The idea is to avoid an overabundance of carbs from the wrong sources, or to eat anything that inherently impacts the digestive system of an omnivore/carnivore. This part is debated — I am not a scientist, an anthropologist or anything certified to make assumptions about the human body– I have done my own research and have concluded that I feel best when eating this way, except with limited red meat.

So, how easy is it to make the swap on your favorite things? Easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and as always, load up on the spices. Always. Bland is only ok when you’re sick! Bring on the zest!

 

Milk

almond-milk

While I used to drink milk as a kid in my cereal, I have really grown out of the idea of dairy as a whole, but most importantly, no milk. My mom only ever bought skim anyway, so there wasn’t anything big as far as taste. If you’re dairy-sensitive, vegan, or just don’t feel like drinking another animal’s by-product, you can enjoy plant-based milks. I find almond milk to be the most versatile when cooking dinner, but specific ones can be used depending on your need. Almond, flax or rice milk work best in desserts, whereas coconut milk and cream work best when making a “cream-based” dish, like this Caprese Chicken recipe.

 

Butter

ghee.jpg

Though this isn’t a great swap for vegans, I love using ghee when cooking, whenever I can. It lends a nice richness to the dish, and is a good saturated fat, just like avocado. It’s good for people who have casein or lactose sensitivities, and it’s a great source of vitamin E. Also, it has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s great for the frying pan.

 

Bread

sweet potato

Who doesn’t love a fresh hot French baguette out of the oven? I mean, I do. But honestly, since I could and would probably eat an entire one myself, I’m glad to stick to a paleo regimen that avoids bread. If I’m making a burger, or want to eat a little crostini, I love to roast sweet potato or eggplant until crisp so that I can use it as a bun. If you want something a little more wild, put whatever you’re eating between a roasted slab of bell pepper.

 

Flour

flour

This one can be tricky, and you have to get creative. There’s a ton of alternatives to all-purpose wheat flour, and sticking to a paleo diet is great if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I tend to stick to almond flour, as it’s a 1:1 ratio to all-purpose flour, but depending on how “wet” the other ingredients are, sometimes it requires more egg or another binding agent. so the recipe might need to be altered. Cassava flour is also 1:1 and a great alternative. Coconut flour is on the rise, but is MUCH more absorbent than its counterparts. For a cup of regular flour, you’ll only need to use 1/4-1/3 of coconut flour. Typically, you’ll need to add more liquid or eggs. While baking, this usually means more eggs.

 

Breadcrumbs

breadcrumbs

Again…. I love bread, so it’s a disappointment when I have to think about giving it up. Especially panko bread crumbs! A great alternative to breading things with breadcrumbs is crushed plantains, flax meal, or crushed almonds. If you’re adding breadcrumbs to a recipe like meatballs, almond flour is a good alternative.

 

Soy Sauce

soy-sauce

This is for all my sushi lovers and marinade fans out there. I LOVE the nutty flavor of a good soy sauce or Tamari, but neither are 100% gluten free. This is where coconut aminos comes in – I love this stuff, and it only has two ingredients. Soy sauce, while tasty, contains phytoestrogens – these are unfavorable because of their association with hormonal disruption and disease. A little bit here and there won’t cause you immediate harm, but coconut aminos are a safe alternative.

 

Rice

rice

Rice…. The unfortunately delicious part of sushi. While I have yet to make “sushi” with cauliflower rice, I do like throwing it in the food processor and then a frying pan with some lemon, garlic and parsley. It’s light, a good alternative to rice, and a perfect standalone side dish when you add some flavor. The good thing is you can make it into pretty much anything – Mexican, Asian, Indian… add the right spices and you’ve got yourself a good staple.

 

Noodles

zoodles

Ever heard of a “Vegetti”? Think it sounds dirty? Because it does. Once you stop giggling about its name, it’s a lifesaver of a spiralizer when you want some noodles. Throw a zucchini on this thing and you’ve got yourself some delicious pasta! Another alternative, which I’ve made before but doesn’t absorb flavor as much (but is still good!) are kelp noodles. Both of which have the same texture as cooked spaghetti, so load on the spices and you’ve got yourself a great Paleo alternative.

 

Chips

plantain chips

Potato Chips. I love them. Honestly, I can remember when I was younger and they came out with Ketchup flavored potato chips, and I toured the Herr’s factory when they were giving out samples to see if the public liked them. They were gross, as expected, but there are so many other good flavors…. I’m drooling. The good news is, if you go get yourself a mandolin, you can make a chip out of just about anything. I prefer sweet potatoes, kale, parsnips, and really any other root veggie. Salt em a little with some sea salt and olive oil, and put them in the oven at 250 degrees F until they start to brown just slightly.

And there you have it! Not so hard – and you’ll find you get creative to start prepping things the way you like them. If you’ve made a swap for something paleo, gluten free or vegan and want to share, post in the comments!

Don’t forget to head over to my Instagram (@thedivinekitchen) and Facebook (facebook.com/thedivinekitchenblog) and like both if you’re a fan 🙂

Enjoy!

-S

*Note – Products or foods recommended on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not a medical doctor, licensed healthcare professional, or dietician, and should you have any concerns regarding your health, contact a healthcare practitioner.

These are a few of my favorite things….

Every time I say that, I think about the Sound of Music…. and cringe a little. I was never a fan of musicals, but I love to sing. I have mixed reviews of my singing abilities…. so I’m going to go with the notion of WHATEVER! I’ll sing WHENEVER! WHEREVER! As I sit here waiting for my brown sugar BBQ chicken to cook, and my sundried tomato orzo to absorb, I was thinking of a few of my favorite kitchen staples. Food, utensils, gotta have the goods. I may or may not have opened a bottle of wine my co-worker “sent me home with”, and I may be drinking it because I love a good Pinot Noir. Didn’t have to twist my arm on that one.

fullsizeoutput_26fGarlic Press – I love this thing. I have a hangup where I don’t like touching garlic, so I avoid mincing it whenever I can. This Little puppy, by OXO, is a godsend. I don’t even really have to get my hands smelly when I wash it, because you can press a lever and the thing comes apart! Wildly in love with it, highly recommend. You can find it here at Williams-Sonoma for about $20.

 

fullsizeoutput_288     Garlic Peeler – Did I mention I love garlic? This thing takes the agony out of getting the peels off of garlic. Just throw a clove inside, roll, and you’ve got all bare little clove of garlic. It’s a timesaver….and a lifesaver. Find one here on Amazon.

 

fullsizeoutput_273   A good silicone baking spatula – I found this in a bucket at Williams-Sonoma on Black Friday weekend last year, and I think it was mis-marked. I paid about $5 for it and I’ve been using it obsessively ever since. Le Creuset is a favorite of mine; their products really do stand up to the test of time. Mama 2 has a Le Creuset baking dish from when she got married…. I made some roasted veggies in it a few months ago when I was at their house. You do the math. Find it here for about $14.

 

fullsizeoutput_271

A (really, really, REALLY) sharp knife – Down the street at my actual house growing up, Mama 1 had some weird fear of sharp knives, so I never really grew up appreciating how convenient a super sharp knife is. This knife, by Shun, was a Christmas gift one year — runs you about $182. Trust me when I say you notice a difference — WELL worth the money. It’s my baby, and it slices a ripe tomato like a bodybuilder tearing a piece of tissue paper. That was terrible, please forget I said that. But i’m keeping it because I feel like you got the point.

 

fullsizeoutput_275

A good tea kettle – In my life, we don’t believe in microwaves. Anything that can voodoo-zap the moisture out of something until it heats up is freaking weird — don’t be jaded. This tea kettle (obviously very well loved, until I tried to get the tarnish off of it….) is by Il Mulino, which I found on sale and unfortunately haven’t seen once since. It’s used for everything — tea, tea, more tea, hot water for anything. I love it. A copper tea kettle is such a cool addition to your kitchen, we never put it away. It looks like it’s on it’s last leg, but it’s still kickin’.

 

fullsizeoutput_27d

Sundried tomatoes – I get these from a local natural foods store called Harvest Market, and they are so delicious. They’re organic, and not super crispy — I like to put them in boiling water to soak, but then i’ll mix them with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to liven them up a bit before I add them to things. Delicious addition to anything starchy, or chicken.

 

fullsizeoutput_279

Arrowroot powder – this is a paleo staple. Since regular wheat flour can’t be used as a thickener, this is a lifesaver. It’s 1:1 to cornstarch, but you use them for different things.  Arrowroot is used for sauces with acid like fruits, vinegar, etc, slow cooking over low heat, and things you want to freeze. Cornstarch is best for recipes with dairy, or things cooked in the oven, like pies. I use Bob’s Redmill Arrowroot powder, which is available on Amazon for about $8. A little goes a loooong way.

 

fullsizeoutput_26b

a good “normal” starchy side – I love couscous… there’s so much you can do with it. I realize that not everyone who comes over eats like a vegan, paleo or gluten-free person, so this is a great staple that i love to have on hand. It cooks quickly, can take on any flavor, and makes a ton once cooked. Pick yours up at Acme, or you can pick up at Amazon.

 

fullsizeoutput_277

Good cutting/serving boards – I use these for everything. They’re sturdy enough for normal use as a cutting board but pretty enough to display on (you may see some of them make a cameo in my photos…). Always a go-to for entertaining. Pictured – top is by Anthropologie circa 2010; the skinny one is by Cynthia Rowley.

 

fullsizeoutput_27f

Good cooking fats – I use olive oil on a lot of things, but I do love my grapeseed oil. Grapeseed and olive oil are the same in unsaturated fats and calories, but grapeseed oil has 2x as much Vitamin E… plus it’s a bit milder in taste. Available at Wegman’s, and Whole Foods!

 

fullsizeoutput_287

Quality vinegar(s) – I love making dressings for salads, and some just need a bit of something different. Apple cider vinegar is my staple, but I love balsamic for something different. The other one, Aronia Berry vinegar, by KeepWell, was picked up at a local farmers market.

 

Leave some comments on your favorite kitchen essentials — tools, ingredients, you name it!

Enjoy 🙂

-S