At the end of December, I caught the cold that was going around. I wasn’t the only one though, as almost every single member of my family and all my friends were down with it as well. When I was sick, the one thing that I was craving was soup. There’s something about a hot soup that just makes any cold or cough a little bit better. I’ll admit that I’m a big soup fan year-round and am constantly making soups to have on hand. While I often opt for pureed vegetable soups, when I was sick I was craving chicken noodle soup. Not only is it proven to make colds better but it’s a classic. Of course, being gluten-free makes things a little difficult as I couldn’t run to Whole Foods to pick some up, and the canned gluten-free stuff just isn’t very good. So I decided to make my favorite recipe for chicken zoodle soup, using spiralized zucchini as the noodles. It’s one that I’ve perfected over the years and thought it was finally time to share it with you. I promise that you won’t miss the wheat noodles and even my Grandma, who’s often dubious of gluten-free/paleo foods, loves it! The best part is that the recipe only takes around 30 minutes so you won’t have to be sniffling and stirring at the same time.
Paleo Chicken Zoodle Soup
Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
- 10 Small Carrots, chopped (approx. 3 cups)
- 3 Stalks Celery, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
- 7 Small (Or 4 Large) Zucchini, spiralized
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Chicken Breasts, shredded
- 8 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
- 1/2 T + 1 t. Dried Oregano
- 1/2 T + 1 t. Dried Basil
- 1 t. Dried Thyme
- 1 1/2 t. Sea Salt
- 1 t. Pepper
- 1 T. Olive Oil
- Chop both ends from a zucchini and spiralize, using the blade with the small triangle holes. Continue until you have spiralized all your zucchini and set aside.
- Chop onion, celery and carrots and mince garlic and set aside.
- Heat 1 T. olive oil on high heat in stock pot.
- Add onions and sauté until they become slightly golden and soft.
- Add 3 cloves minced garlic and sauté together for 1 minute.
- On medium heat, add carrots, celery and vegetable broth. Heat together for 5 minutes.
- Add your zucchini noodles to your pot on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring to combine every 5 minutes which will get easier as your noodles cook down.*
- Add in chicken and spices and let cook together for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
*When you first put the zucchini noodles into the soup it will look like you have way too much. Don’t worry though because as zucchini are 95% water, they reduce in size dramatically and will become soft and easy to eat in the soup.
-What do you crave when you have a cold/flu?
My usual spotlights are centered around the Bay Area, but I thought it would be fun to tell you about great gluten-free spots in other cities I’ve visited. When I went to Dallas for Thanksgiving, I found some wonderful, safe places to eat, but the best was Unrefined Bakery. When I heard about Unrefined, I knew I had to check it out as they are not only certified gluten-free but they are also soy-free, all-natural and organic! As a rule I generally only eat all-natural, whole foods, so I loved that they specialize in this, making it safe food that you can feel good about. Fellow friends with other allergies, this is the place for you too, as they are 99% corn and dairy-free, as well as 80% egg-free. Basically this is a dream come true for those with food allergies. What really surprised me though, was how paleo friendly they were as well! That was something that I was so impressed with in Dallas in general, and found the city to have many more paleo offerings than the Bay Area!
As I try to eat mostly paleo, those are the items that I really wanted to try. I’ve had paleo offerings from other places before but they are often very egg-y, due to a high number of eggs and low ratio of coconut flour. As someone who isn’t a fan of eggs, that’s not what I like when it comes to my baked goods! Unrefined got it completely right though. Their paleo pumpkin muffins were absolutely delicious! They were hearty without being dense and had the perfect amount of spice to them. I’d like to say that my family enjoyed them as well, but I didn’t share these. They were just that good! These come frozen, in a 4-pack which is ideal because preservative-free foods don’t tend to last long, so it’s nice to be able to heat them one at a time.
As it was Thanksgiving, the other items I tried were holiday specials. They offered traditional cornbread stuffing and to my delight, paleo stuffing. The paleo stuffing was absolutely delicious and perfectly flavored. It was so good that my family didn’t even realize that it wasn’t the more traditional, cornbread one! Success! Off to a great start with the muffins and stuffing, I was excited to see how their pies would fare. I tasted their dark chocolate paleo pie in-store and it was absolutely amazing, with a rich chocolately flavor and a flaky crust. If there had been room for 2 pies at my celebration, I definitely would have purchased this. Instead, I went for the paleo pumpkin pie and it was one of the best pies I have ever tasted. So good in fact, that I may have had another slice the next day before I went to the airport. And by may, I mean definitely. If you live in Dallas and are gluten-free (or just enjoy really great baked goods) run to one of their three locations. Oh, and please tell me all about it because I’m wishing I lived closer!
When I first found out that I had celiac, one of my inital thoughts was of all the things I was never going to eat again. Most of that was unnecessary thinking because there are great companies out there that make breads and pasta and treats. But what about those traditional family recipes? The favorite in my family is my Grandma’s German Chocolate cake. Every birthday growing up, my siblings and I would request it and no other store-bought version could ever compare. For my brother’s birthday this year, I was making him dinner (his fave paleo pad thai) and wanted to make him a cake as well. But because my kitchen is completely gluten-free and I can’t handle gluten ingredients, making him the original was out. So I decided to challenge myself a bit and see if I could transform Grandma’s traditional cake into a paleo one. I scoured the internet for recipes and couldn’t find a single one for a paleo, two-layer, German chocolate cake! Finally, I found this recipe for the chocolate cake but instead of making it as a bundt cake, I made two traditional 8-inch round cake pans. But the frosting was still alluding me because nothing looked like my Grandma’s recipe, which was always the best part and star of the cake. Working from my Grandma’s recipe I transformed it into a paleo one and was so pleased with the results. It had the same amazing flavor and stayed together perfectly on the cake! One thing to note is that this isn’t a truly healthy recipe, it’s definitely one for a treat! But since it was his birthday, I was going for paleo + taste above all, rather than how healthy I could make it which is how I generally cook.
Paleo German Chocolate Cake Frosting
- 2 Cups Coconut Sugar
- 1 Can Coconut Milk
- 6 Egg Yolks
- 1 Cup Earth Balance Coconut Spread or Coconut Oil
- 2 t. Vanilla
- 2 2/3 Cups Shredded Coconut
- 2 Cups Chopped Pecans
- Mix coconut sugar, coconut milk, egg yolks, coconut spread/oil and vanilla in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It’s a serious arm workout and all stoves are different, but it took mine about an hour to thicken up.
- Once thickened, combine saucepan mixture with shredded coconut and pecans in a large bowl.
- Mix all ingredients together until well combined and frosting sticks to a spoon when you lift it up.
- Leave to cool and set on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Frost cake!
My Grandma always uses a double batch of frosting (that’s what the above is) so that there is lots of frosting on the cake. When you go to cut a piece, there should be a very generous amount of frosting in between the layers and on the top and sides. When it all came together, I was so happy with how it turned out and then it was time for the true test- did my family think it tasted similar? It was met with rave reviews and was absolutely delicious! It’s not the easiest recipe, given how long it takes to stir the frosting, but it is definitely worth it, so pull up a chair and start stirring. I promise it won’t disappoint!
-What’s your favorite family recipe?
Oh, do I have the spotlight for you today. I’ve been saving this one because this is my favorite gluten-free discovery to date. As much as I love cooking and baking, there is something so fun about going to a bakery. I’ve been to a few gluten-free bakeries before that are great, but Pushkin’s Bakery easily became my favorite because everything is gluten-free and dairy-free. Jackpot. This means that I can eat everything in there and don’t have to ask which items are dairy-free. If you haven’t experienced life with food allergies, let me tell you, the opportunity to go into a restaurant or bakery and eat anything there is incredibly exciting and liberating! Pushkin’s is located in Downtown Sacramento which is a bit of a drive from the Bay Area but is totally worth it! For the sake of research for my blog post (ahem, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) I may have tried quite a few items so that I could report back on them.
Walking into the small storefront, you are met with a bevy of options ranging from muffins to cookies to cupcakes to something they affectionately call Awesomes. Spoiler alert: everything that I tried was absolutely amazing. When deciding what to order, my family and I all had things that were on our “must-try” lists. One of those was the Awesome, which is a miniature lemon poppyseed poundcake. I’ll admit that poundcake isn’t something that’s usually at the top of my list, but I wanted to see if they lived up to their name. And oh my goodness, they did. It was perfectly moist and had just the right amount of tart and sweet. Another breakfast-type favorite was the zucchini bread. I don’t think I’ve had zucchini bread since becoming gluten-free, and this was absolutely delicious. The ideal small loaf, this is the type of bread that you cut off a slice of, and then find yourself back cutting another one 2 minutes later. Also worth mentioning was the maple walnut scone which was fabulous and not too crumbly which is often the case with gluten-free scones.
In the cupcake arena, I’ve had some great gluten-free cupcakes before so I was going in with pretty high expectations. Luckily, Pushkins did not disappoint. We tried three of their vegan cupcakes: the Barracuda Cupcake (chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache), the chocolate coconut cupcake and the chocolate cappuccino cupcake and all were winners in my book. Also sense a theme here? Clearly my family likes chocolate.
All of the things I mentioned were fabulous, however, the star of the show was the chocolate crinkle cookie. First, a bit of background story. Of all the cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies have always been my absolute favorite. For about 7 years my Mom, Grandma and I would attend plays together and at intermission they would serve the best cookies. As soon as intermission came, you know I was standing in line for our cookies and hoping that I could get a chocolate crinkle before they sold out. They were perfectly moist and chewy with powdered sugar on top that I had to eat carefully so it wouldn’t get all over my outfit. Needless to say, I have many happy chocolate crinkle cookie memories. I’ve had a chocolate crinkle cookie since going gluten-free from a different bakery that was delicious but didn’t recreate that memory. Well that all changed once I tasted the one from Pushkins. Not only did it look like the ones I remembered from my childhood but it was every bit as good. I can wholeheartedly say that this is the best gluten-free baked good that I have ever had. I know that’s a bold statement but it’s 100% true. A few weeks later, I found out I wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Sacramento News & Review held a blind taste taste with three of their food critics to determine Sacramento’s best cookie. As the only gluten-free cookie in the mix, I think it came as quite a shock to many that it won! But that’s just further proof of what I’m saying- this cookie is the best of the best! (Sidenote: I’d suggest calling ahead and putting a chocolate crinkle on hold if you plan on visiting later in the day. I failed to do this last time and my beloved cookie was sold out. Next time, I won’t be taking any chances!) Also, they are now offering sandwiches that look absolutely amazing and I will definitely be trying one on my next visit!