Paleo Mexican Chicken Zucchini Boats

One thing about living with food allergies is that sometimes they can seem to cut off access to various types of cuisines. For example, since finding out I had a severe corn allergy over a year ago, Mexican food has pretty much been off the table. Living in CA, I’ve always had excellent Mexican food options and especially when I lived in LA. One of my favorite food memories is senior year of college when my best friend Krae and I would meet at our favorite place, La Sirena Grill in El Segundo for endless chips and salsa, margaritas, the perfect burrito and girl talk. (If you find yourself in LA, I seriously recommend that place… it’s pretty much amazing and I would love to live vicariously through all of you!) But between the celiac and the corn allergy, Mexican food has kind of felt off-limits. One day, I decided to change that. After all, who says you need corn or a tortilla to have a fabulous Mexican meal? These zucchini boats are full of Mexican flavor and are gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, paleo and totally delicious!

Mexican Zucchini Boats GGGF

Ingredients

  • 5 Small-Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Chopped Green Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/4 C. Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1/4 C. Salsa
  • 1 Package Frontera GF Key-Lime Cilantro Skillet Sauce*
  • 2 Chicken Breast Cutlets (About 1 Lb)
  • 1/2 t. Oregano
  • 1 t. Cumin
  • Olive Oil Spray

* 1 cup of any salsa will work, this skillet sauce is my favorite one though!

Directions

  1. Spray bottom of crockpot with any nonstick spray (helps immensely in the clean-up process) and put 1/4 of salsa on bottom of crockpot. Layer chicken cutlets in, adding salsa between them and on top. Don’t worry too much about the layering process here as all will combine when you shred. Place on High and cook for 3 hours.
  2. When chicken is cooked, shred with forks and set aside.
  3. Cut ends off zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Hollow out inside of zucchini. People commonly use a melon ball scoop for this, but I used an apple corer and it worked like a dream, was fast and easy and ensured smooth boats! Set aside insides of zucchini that have been scooped out.
  4. Heat 4 Cups of Water in a bowl and drop zucchini boats in for 1 minute. You could do this with a pot of boiling water on the stove, but I just poured hot water into a bowl and it was so easy. Remove boats and set aside.
  5. Chop zucchini, onion and green pepper into fairy small pieces and set aside.
  6. Chop fresh cilantro until you have about 1/4 cup.
  7. Heat a large saucepan on the stove and 1 T. of olive oil. Add chipped onion and stir for about 3 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.
  8. Next, add green pepper, chopped zucchini and cilantro along with cumin and oregano. (If you want to up the spice factor, you could also add chili powder but my salsa had enough heat.) Cook for about 5 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add shredded chicken to mixture and stir to combine, cook on low to let flavors combine for a few minutes.
  10. Now it’s time to stuff the zucchini boats! First, spread 1/4 of salsa on the bottom of 9×12 pan.
  11. Use a spoon to fill the boats with the mixture until they are smooth and flat. Then, overstuff them by using rounded spoonfuls to pack on mixture. Carefully set in pan.
  12. Cover pan with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes and garnish with chopped green onions.

Question:

What’s your favorite Mexican dish?

Gluten-Free Chicken Pho

One of the hard things about having celiac is that many restaurants that I used to enjoy are now off-limits. It’s not only that I can no longer eat certain foods, but there is such a high risk of cross-contamination which makes dining out scary sometimes. This means that those really good, hole in the wall-type restaurants are off limits now. One of my favorites were small Vietnamese restaurants to get a steaming hot bowl of pho. After missing that deliciousness for far too long, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own- and it couldn’t have turned out better!

This recipe is so easy and can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. I used some great store-bought products for the base but did add my own twist with a homemade hoison sauce. I’ll admit that this wasn’t the original plan. I tried to get hoison sauce at Sprouts and was surprised to find out that regular hoison sauce contains gluten in the form of soy sauce and fermented wheat protein. Another sneaky gluten source! But I wasn’t going to let that deter my craving for pho, so I created my own and I think it’s just as good!


Gluten-Free Hoison Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 8 T. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (Coconut Aminos will also work if you can’t tolerate soy)
  • 4 T. Natural, Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 2 T. Honey
  • 4 t. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Clove Minced Garlic
  • 2  t. Siracha

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to combine.

Chicken Pho-GGGF

Chicken Pho

Ingredients:

*Pacific Foods makes Chicken and Beef Pho bases as well, but I also prefer using Vegetable broths in my soups, even when I add chicken.

**I love these noodles because the ingredient list is so clean- Only rice flour and water!

Directions:

1. Cook 2 chicken breasts by any method you like ahead of time, I used the crock pot and it was so easy! When chicken breasts are hot, use two forks to shred.

2. Bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil and add noodles, cooking for about 3 minutes at a boil.

3. Drain and rinse noodles and set aside.

4. Pout Pho base in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then add your noodles and chicken, let cook for about 5 minutes until flavors have combined.

5. Ladle into bowls and serve with bean sprouts, cilantro, mint, basil, siracha, lime and hoison sauce!


The Vietnamese restaurants I have visited don’t traditionally chop the herbs and only de-stem them. When adding them to your soup, you can tear pieces or enjoy them whole. The great part of this recipe is that everyone can customize it for their own taste by which ingredients they wish to add. It’s the perfect dish for a fun dinner but has only minimal prep so you can enjoy the evening with your family or guests!

Gluten & Allergy Free Expo

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend! They always feel too short but I am very excited that next week is a 3-day weekend! I had a great weekend and an amazing time at the Gluten and Allergy Free Expo. I’ve discussed my journey to my celiac diagnosis on the blog before (though full post will be on my About page soon) but I haven’t gone into detail about my other restrictions. Back at the end of November, my doctor put me on an elimination diet where I cut out a variety of things and then could gradually re-introduce them to see how I reacted to them. The list included but was not limited to: corn, soy, dairy, peanuts, vinegar, alcohol, chocolate, strawberries, beef and eggs. I’ve taken the reintroductions slowly and have found that I’m fine with alcohol and chocolate, however I have had reactions to both beef and vinegar. I likely won’t be re-introducing dairy or soy but I’ve tried corn on 2 accounts lately. The first was a complete and utter failure, as I found myself very sick immediately after eating. Since then I’ve been sure to stay away from corn, but on Saturday evening I ordered gluten-free pasta at a restaurant, but forgot to ask if there was corn in it. Big mistake. Minutes after eating I was fighting the urge to throw up, had a killer headache and was really miserable. As it turns out, more than 50% of celiacs are also allergic to corn! Corn also has gluten in it, but it’s a different type of gluten that hasn’t been studied so it’s on the “safe” list. However, since it’s very similar on a molecular level, the body often reacts the same. So for those of you fellow gluten-free guys and gals still experiencing symptoms, try cutting out corn!

After not the best Saturday night, I was determined to wake up feeling better since I had tickets to the Gluten & Allergy Free Expo that I’ve been looking forward to for months. A whole convention where everyone is like me and there will be food that I can eat available! Since I have the most supportive parents in the world, they too wanted to go and we had a great time together. It was such a wonderful conference and part of me wishes I would have gone both days so I could have seen all the speakers!

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One of my favorites was Mrs. Northwest International, Brandy Wendler, who gave a fantastic session on Heart Health & Celiac disease. I had no idea that celiacs are 30% more likely to develop heart disease than the rest of the population. After being scared by that fact, I was pleased to find out that the risk goes back to the normal population risk, after a celiac eats gluten-free. However, it is important to note that gluten-free products are not the solution. Almost every recently diagnosed person (myself included) begins to eat every gluten-free boxed product they can find because they are so excited to be able to eat something ‘normal’! However, those products are often laden with sugar and fat and overly processed. AKA not healthy and certainly not good for your heart. Therefore, the same rules apply as for the rest of the population, eat lean proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Brandy was a great speaker and was humorous while still being informative. She is doing so much for the gluten-free community and is truly an inspiration!

Now after all that talk about heart health, let me tell you the main event at the conference: eating! There were over 100 vendors and almost all gave samples of gluten-free goodies. I don’t usually eat any sugar except on special occasions, but this definitely qualified in my book! There were so many amazing things to try, many of which I’d never heard of! It was also extremely helpful that each table was labeled with a sign that specified which (if any) of the common allergens the food contained. That way, I wasn’t constantly having to ask if there was soy/dairy/peanuts/corn in any of the items and could happily much away. Since many of you are also looking for new fun products, here are some of my favorites!

Bella Gluten-Free: Bella  makes great flours and baking mixes but what I was ALL over was the fact that they were serving focaccia bread served with olive oil! I can’t remember the last time I had focaccia which the Italian in me greatly misses so this was absolutely fantastic!

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CheeCha Puffs: These light crispy puffs are absolutely delicious and if you see the allergy card in the left-hand corner of the picture, free of all the common allergens! The fiesta salsa were my favorite and you can have 2 cups for only 80 calories! How amazing is that when you just feel like snacking?!

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Home Free: I think these cookies were targeted toward kids but it certainly didn’t stop me. They were delicious mini-crunchy cookies and reminded me of those Famous Amos cookies you always see in vending machines, only these ones are allergen free!

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Coco-Roons: I’ve never been lucky enough to win one of the Fitnessista‘s famous roons giveaway, but I’d imagine they taste something like these. Every flavor I tried was amazing, but the Almond & Strawberry PB&J blew me away. They are absolutely amazing, organic and raw and I cannot wait to try them again!

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When I got home from the expo I was completely stuffed! You don’t think you are eating that much as the samples are small but I was definitely indulging! But some days it’s important to do that and today was definitely one of them! Tomorrow, I’ll be back eating lots of whole foods like I usually do! Of course, I couldn’t attend the event without buying some products and between my mom and I and our purchases and samples, this is all of our loot which I think is a great haul indeed.

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Questions:

-If you are gluten-free, are you also allergic to other foods?

-Have you ever attended an expo like this? What product would you most like to try?

Golden Globes Fashion and Pumpkin Chili

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a lovely weekend and had a fun time with your friends and family. I’ve been promising you recipes on GGG for a while now and today I’m finally delivering! I first made this pumpkin chili last week with my friends for an impromptu dinner party and it was a hit. Well last night I decided to make a batch again to enjoy while watching the Golden Globes and made a few changes that made it even better. But before we talk chili, I’ve got to talk fashion for a bit. Did any of you watch the Golden Globes last night? I always enjoy awards shows but I’ll admit, mostly for the fashion. “Who are you wearing” is the question I really care about during the evening and last night there were some definite hits and misses.

The Hits:

golden globes

These women didn’t take any huge fashion risks with their dresses but I think they all looked absolutely gorgeous. They defined classic elegance with simple silhouettes and classic colors. My favorite of these four looks though was definitely Kate Hudson. Not only does the woman seem to be aging backward, but her look was spot on for me in this fantastic Alexander McQueen dress. I also have to give a shoutout to Jennifer Lawrence as well who looked stunning in her coral dress- definitely my favorite red carpet look that she’s worn this season.

The Misses:

goldenglobesbad

Oh dear, where to begin. First of all, I think Jessica Chastain seems like a wonderful person and is a fantastic actress. But if I were her, I’d fire my stylist immediately. Her dress did nothing for her and I really wished someone would have fit that halter properly. But my real issue with the look was her hair- her hair stylist managed to age her and make her look as though she was balding. Poor Jess. I hesitated putting Lena Dunham on here because she really isn’t known for being a fashion plate, so I don’t generally expect to much from her. But- this dress was just bad. Next up, this dress was all wrong for the petite Julianne Hough and with such a pretty bodice, I wish this would have flowed into a more form fitting gown. Instead, it looks a little like a wedding dress gone bad. But hey, maybe this was her way of  signaling to Ryan Seacrest to put a ring on it. Lastly, Debra Messing. She has a great figure as well but this dress didn’t do her any favors with the parachute fabric on the bottom. I could have overlooked the dress though if it weren’t for the styling. The huge bangles on both wrists plus large earrings and a large dress, there was just way too much going on.

Now enough with the fashion, let’s talk food!

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Pumpkin Chili

Adapted from this Washington Post recipe

(Gluten-Free/Vegan/Corn-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Northern White Beans
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 C. Quinoa
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Medium Size White Onion
  • 1 Large Red Onion
  • 1 Can Pumpkin Puree
  • 28 oz. Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1.5 T. Tomato Paste
  • 4 C. Vegetable Broth (Check box to ensure it is gluten-free)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 T. Cumin
  • 1 T. Chili Powder
  • 1 t. Paprika
  • 1.5 t. Pepper
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Dash of All Spice
  • Dash of Salt
  • Dash of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions

  1. Chop onions, bell peppers and mince garlic.
  2. Using large pot, heat 1 T. olive oil and add the onions and bell peppers. Stir and let cook for about 5 minutes until the onions start to become translucent.
  3. In a separate pot, combine quinoa with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Leave for 15 minutes until all water has been absorbed.
  4. In your large pot, add pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add all spices to the large pot and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. When quinoa is finished, combine to pot and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. Garnish with avocado or cilantro and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I do and am already looking forward to having it for lunch!

Questions:

-Who was your best and worst dressed at the Golden Globes?

-Do you have a favorite chili recipe?