Winter Minestrone Soup

Winter is here and with its transition I tend to shy away from cold, refreshing smoothies and find myself craving hearty soups and tea. Soups are a staple favorite of mine because the extras freeze well and come in handy during late work nights or lazy Sundays. Don’t get me wrong, I love broths and thin soups but nothing truly satisfies me like a dense, full-bodied soup overflowing with seasonal and flavorful ingredients. This soup has everything you need to get you through these cold winter months. The beans are a great source of protein, the kale, radish, winter squash and red potatoes are packed with vitamin C, the garlic has major medicinal properties and the carrots are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants. If you are sick or simply wanting to prevent illness this winter, this soup is for you.

Having great kitchenware to enjoy this soup on the couch or in bed doesn’t hurt either. Bering’s Hardware here in Houston has always been a place I love to shop for my home, meaningful wedding gifts, baby showers and baptism’s. Bering’s Hardware literally is my one stop shop and for many others here in town. I seriously cannot get enough of these adorable Juliska Le Panier Berry Bowls; the second I saw them in the store I knew this soup would be the perfect fit. Add in this versatile Vesta large cheese board, a Karen Lee Ballard Droplet Napkin and Bistro soup spoons and your table is set.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

5 carrots, sliced

1 white onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups butternut or acorn squash, peeled and diced

1 cup yellow squash or zucchini

2 cups red potatoes, diced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 can (15 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 cans (15 oz) kidney beans

4 cups chopped Lacinato kale

1 box (8oz) gluten-free pasta shells, cooked according to package directions

Garnish with slices of radish and kale

Directions:

Heat a large stock pot to medium and add the avocado oil. When heated, add carrots and onion. Stir and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add minced garlic, stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Add both diced squash and potatoes, stir and cook for a minute or two. Add tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes, stir to coat. Add vegetable broth, salt, pepper and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer about 40 minutes, or until vegetables are mostly softened.

Add drained and rinsed kidney beans and kale. Stir and let simmer for additional 10-15 minutes. Add cooked pasta before serving. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Bering’s Hardware..

Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Informal Grub possible.

Grain-Free Fish Tacos

fullsizeoutput_2656

Grain-Free Fish Tacos

It’s been over 2 years since I have written a blog post and I feel its only right my return consist of tacos! In the last week, no joke, most of my meals have consisted of tacos. May it be breakfast tacos from Topo Truck, my fave vegan jackfruit tacos from Verdine for lunch or Eight Row Flint’s brussels sprout tacos that are walking distance from my home. Any time I scan a menu my first option is always tacos.  My inner voice tells me to change it up, but who are we kidding? My name is Casey and I’m addicted to tacos.

Whenever I have friends over for dinner, I tend to cook things that can be made in bulk, can please many of those with dietary challenges and come with changeable fixins’. Insert TACOS!

This dinner was made with redfish that my sister’s husband caught but it can definitely be made with other types of fish like salmon, halibut, red snapper or cod. There are also many veggie options for those who do not ingest fish or meat. You can change this recipe up with some great alternatives like spicy cauliflower, coconut crusted avocados, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, black beans, lentils, etc.

 

Grain-Free Fish Tacos

{serves 4}

Ingredients

4 white fish fillets, each 4 to 5 oz.

1 tbs grapeseed oil, plus more for brushing

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced, this can be used as a topping too

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

pink salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

8-12 grain-free tacos like Siete brand

2 limes cut into wedges

chopped onions for toppings

chopped tomatoes for toppings

chopped mango for toppings (optional)

micro greens for toppings

2 avocado, sliced for toppings

How to Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. To prepare the white fish, brush the bottom of a pyrex dish with grapeseed oil and then add the fish
  3. Brush the fish with grapeseed oil and season with chili powder, paprika, minced garlic, pink salt, PP and top with diced and deseeded jalapeños (keep the seeds if you like it hot, hot, hot)
  4. Place fish into the oven and cook for 9 minutes or until the fish becomes flaky
  5. While the fish is cooking, add the onion, tomato, jalapeño, mango and lime juice to a bowl and refrigerate
  6. If you have double stacked ovens, turn your second oven to ‘keep warm’ and add the tortillas straight onto the rack. If you only have one oven, once the fish is done and cooling, add the tortillas straight to the rack, but turn off the heat and simply close the oven door. The leftover heat with heat the tacos up. The tacos should be done in 3-5 minutes
  7. Plating: Grab your tortilla and top with fish, mango salsa, avocado, micro green and some extra lime juice or hot sauce
  8. Enjoy!

When Life Gives You Limes…

When Life Gives You Limes…

IMG_6964

When life gives you limes…you make Pad Thai

I do make A LOT of my meals but there are many days where I am tired and lazy and I just want to eat take-out out on the couch.

One evening we were craving chicken Pad Thai but there lies one issue…Pad Thai contains soy sauce which contains gluten. After calling 5+ Thai spots in Houston, none said they made their Pad Thai with GF soy sauce or Tamari (gluten free equivalent). Insert the huge void that filled my heart. Damn you Celiac Gods…you finally got in the way.

That is, until I decided to make my own Pad Thai at home aka my GF safe zone. I wanted to create something simple but still extremely satisfying. The ingredients may seem like a lot at first but once you have the staples for the sauce in your fridge, you will be able to whip this up in no time, time and time again. This truly has become our households staple comfort meal–The leftovers are even awesome.


GLUTEN FREE CHICKEN PAD THAI

(FEEDS 2-4)

1 box of rice noodles/pad thai noodles

2 eggs, scrambled

1 shallot, minced

green onions, diced

2 limes

1/3 cup peanuts, crushed

2 chicken breasts, cubed

1/8 cup rice vinegar

1/8 cup fish sauce

1/8 cup sriracha (gf)

1/8 tamari (gf soy sauce)

1/4 cup brown sugar

sesame oil

  1. In a medium sized skillet, on medium heat, add 2 tbs sesame oil, minced shallots and chicken. Cook through (10-15 minutes). Set aside in a bowl.
  2. In new skillet, heat 1 tbs sesame oil and scramble eggs, set aside in another bowl.
  3. Dice 1/3 of a group of green onions, set aside in bowl.
  4. Crush peanuts, set aside in bowl
  5. Boil large pot of water, bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off heat, add rice noodles and let sit for 8-10 minutes. Strain noodles, rinse with cold water and toss in 1 tbs sesame oil. Set aside.
  6. In a small bowl add rice vinegar, fish sauce, tamari/gf soy sauce, sriracha, brown sugar, juice of 1 lime. Mix and set aside.
  7. Place noodles, chicken, peanuts, green onions and pad thai sauce in large sauce pan. Place on low heat and cook 5-10 more minutes. Stir until mixed.
  8. Garnish with green onions, limes wedges and peanuts, serve when ready.
  9. Enjoy!

12 DAYS IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY! (PERSONAL RECORD SINCE CHANGING MY EATING HABITS: 214 DAYS)

 

-C

What Do You Mean He Don’t Eat No Meat?

What Do You Mean He Don’t Eat No Meat?

IMG_5579

If you aren’t a Big Fat Greek Wedding fan, then you probably don’t understand today’s post title. If you are, then I hope you are firing me up some lamb on a spit in your front yard 😉

Let’s be honest, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding we all judged Ian Miller a little bit when we found out he “didn’t eat no meat.” When it comes to dietary trends or “fads” that we don’t understand it’s very easy to judge if they don’t fall in line with our own beliefs.

Did I ever think I would go meatless or at least attempt it, no? Did I also think I would be diagnosed with a genetic mutation of my collagen, definitely not. Before I had educated myself I thought animal protein was our only protein source. Not only that, but I felt there was no a way a human could be healthy without it. Boy, was I wrong.

I realize that .05% of my friends will cut meat because of me but next time you’re buying meat, all I ask if that you buy for the quality and not from the discount bin. We spend so much money on material things like designer clothing, the latest Apple product, Daily Starbucks runs and maintaining our car(s) but we roll our eyes at locally sourced, non hormone injected food because it’s priced too high? Why do we care more about making sure our car runs properly or outfits are on point but won’t splurge on what it makes us well? I don’t understand that.

WHY GO MEATLESS?

Some of you may have noticed a new trend going around called #MeatlessMondays on social media. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. And going meatless once a week can also help reduce our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fossil fuels and fresh water. Not only that, but you can save some money when grocery shopping!  Tip: avoid the aisles and stick simply to the produce section. I went shopping for the week on Sunday and guess what my bill was at Whole Foods aka Whole Paycheck? $21! You know why? Because I didn’t buy packaged, processed crap and I didn’t need to buy meat.

I truly did not become passionate about this until my Geneticist encouraged I go meatless but the onion has been peeled and now that I am informed, it truly cannot go ignored. I feel better than I ever have by eating mainly fruits and vegetables and encourage this dietary lifestyle to anyone who feels ill often, or has any family history of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc.

Start slow and see the changes for yourself.

For this upcoming Monday, Go Meatless with this delicious taco recipe. DO IT!

COCONUT CRUSTED AVOCADO TACOS

INGREDIENTS

IMG_5682

KIWI SALSA

3 kiwis. peeled and diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/4 cup packed cilantro, chopped

1 small red pepper, sliced (or to taste)

1/2 fresh lime, juiced

pinch of sea salt

CASHEW LIME CREAM

1/2 cup raw cashews

2 tbs lime juice

pinch of sea salt

COCONUT CRUSTED AVOCADO

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

a squeeze of lime juice

3/4 cup shredded coconut (or as needed to coat)

THE BEANS

1 tsp coconut oil for cooking

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 can of beans (depending on party size)

1 tbs tomato paste

1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed

Prepare the kiwi salsa:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, set aside in the fridge.

Make the cashew cream:

  1. Rinse and drain the cashews. Place them in a blender with all of the ingredients and blend on high. Add water as needed, small amounts at a time, until you get a nice smooth consistency. Set aside in the fridge.

Cook the beans:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until tender (2-3 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add cooked beans, tomato paste, jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes and leave heat on simmer until the entire meal is complete.

Prepare and cook the coconut crusted avocados:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pit and slice the avocados into thin wedges and place onto a cookie tray lined in parchment paper. Squeeze lime juice all over the avocado slices, getting them nice and soaked. With your hands, sprinkle the shredded coconut covering the avocados until fully coated. Place into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Assemble the tacos:

  1. Warm up the tortillas in either the oven (wrap in foil) or microwave (wrap in damp paper towels). Place a spoonful of beans in the center of each tortilla, top with 2-3 avocado slices, top with pico, drizzle the cashew cream and enjoy!

IMG_5702

196 IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY!!

 

-C

Scream + Shout for Brussels Sprouts

Scream + Shout for Brussels Sprouts

IMG_5534

BRUSSELS SPROUTS // maintain the health of your skin, teeth and gums

Vitamin C is essential for normal growth and development. This nutrient keep your immune system strong and helps maintain the health of your skin, teeth and gums.

Vitamin C protects your cells from damage as well, which can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

A 1/2 cup serving of brussels sprouts contains 48 milligrams of vitamin c, which is about 50% of what men need each day and about 65% of what women need.


I have been gluten free for 15 months now and I could not be more happy with that decision. I haven’t felt this healthy in a long time and I know this is just the beginning. With that being said, it still is hard eating outside of my safe gluten free kitchen because it truly seems like EVERYTHING has gluten in it.

My sweet and thoughtful friends always attempt to eat gluten free around me to not torture me but I assure you, it’s just not worth it for me and my body of oddities.

When we go out and there are brussels sprouts on the menu, you know those bad boys are getting ordered. What’s unfortunate for me and other Celiac’s like me is that 9 times out of 10 these delicious brussels sprouts have soy sauce in them which has gluten in it.

After coming across this issue so many times while eating out, I decided to take matters into my own hands…replicate the very delicious dish that plagues me at most restaurants. Since I was already happy with my current brussels sprout recipe I decided to just add some tamari sauce (gluten free soy sauce) to the recipe.

The stars aligned for this one ya’ll…you’re welcome 😉 I have officially made it multiple times this week and am craving it to the point where I will be making sandwiches and tacos stuffed with these brussels sprouts. So happy about this tweaked recipe. This is what I like to call glass half full…because of my crappy diagnosis, I have found something delicious and enjoyable that will in return boost my immune system. Suck on that, Celiac.

Here you go!

IMG_5604

SWEET TART BRUSSELS SPROUTS

INGREDIENTS

brussels sprouts halved

3 tbs grapeseed oil

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 lemon juiced

1-2 tbs tamari sauce or soy sauce

S + PP to taste

  1. Cut the bottoms off of the brussies and then cut in halves, place into saute pan
  2. Once all brussies are cut up, add oil and turn to medium heat
  3. Add your salt, pepper and tamari/soy sauce
  4. Once the brussies start turning to a light green and softening, turn the heat to low, add the juice of the lemon (zest, too if you’re feeling fancy) and sprinkle the brown sugar on top
  5. Cook on low until you are ready to serve dinner
  6. Enjoy!

185 DAYS IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY!

-C

You Mango Me Loco

You Mango Me Loco

IMG_5223

MANGOES // rich in beta-carotene

Beta-carotene is a powerful carotenoid. This element of mango helps to enhance the immune system and make it impervious to bacteria and toxins.

Excess beta-carotein is also transformed into Vitamin A. This is another antioxidant vitamin and gives you additional protection from the free radicals that harm your internal systems.

Mangoes increase your chances of living a disease-free life.


Today’s post is one that is near and dear to my heart currently.

Starting around 2005 I was getting sick nearly every 30 days. I paired it with living the life of a college student; poor sleeping hours, binge drinking  at Bogie’s bar and Canes chicken fingers on repeat.

Fast forward to my post college life where I started cleaning up my diet and drinking less. I was still getting sick almost every 30 days…colds, light fevers, bronchitis, sinus infections, repeat.

When I had learned I had Celiac Disease, it finally made sense as to why I was always sick. Celiac disease wrecks your immune system but not only that, I was not fueling my body with the correct nutrition. For starters, I was harming my body by eating gluten but also I wasn’t making fruit and veggies the main focal point of my meals.

After my Cardiologist and Geneticist both encouraged new dietary restrictions, I knew it was time to take the plunge; take the sarcastic comments from those who aren’t in the know on nutrition acting as medicine nd heal my body the right way..with clean eating. Think gluten free + Vegan + fish…but sometimes chicken and beef. Moderation and source is key with your animal products. I one day hope to be solely vegan plus fish but until then I will ingest the best local sources of my animal products.

After being committed my new diet (lifestyle) I now can say I am 5lbs from my target weight set by my Geneticist and have not been sick in 174 days!!!

You guys seriously don’t understand how HUGE this is for me and others who struggle with this disease(s). Imagine being sick for over 10 years around the clock, struggling to gain weight, dealing with the harshness of people/strangers comments that can’t see the struggle and still moving forward with a plan people don’t fully comprehend.

I have made it my life goal to live well and feel well despite my diagnoses and I love seeing the strides I have made.

With that being said, let’s get started on this delicious Mango Salsa recipe!

The other weekend, I got to spend some time at my sister and her husband’s beach cabin. With the weather being so hot, we wanted to have something refreshing for dinner. Whenever I think of refreshing meals, I always think of lime juice which then makes me think of ceviche. After some more brainstorming, we settled on shrimp tacos with a mango salsa. Yum!

This salsa is super versatile. It can be paired with shrimp, scallops, salmon, white fish, chips, etc. etc.

IMG_5202

MANGO SALSA

1/2 mango diced

1 heirloom tomato diced

1 small red onion diced

handful of chopped cilantro

1 fresh lime juiced

  1. Add all above ingredients in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until main dish is cooked
  2. Top desired dish with mango salsa or use as a dip
  3. Enjoy!

174 days IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY!!

 

-C

 

 

Life’s a Peach

Life’s a Peach

IMG_4819

PEACHES // the zen fruit

Peaches are often referred to as the “Fruit of Calmness” in Hungary.

Peaches are a healthy stress-reliever that help reduce anxiety. Who new something so tasty could be so beneficial?


There are two things that I love so much…summer salads and peach season! Today’s salad basically encompasses both of my loves and it’s also a crowd -pleaser.

Who doesn’t love something cool and refreshing during the Houston melt-fest that is our summer?

This past weekend, I got to spend sometime with my family at the beach which was so nice but we all couldn’t help to notice that even the nice coastal breeze was hot! When we were planning dinner, all we were craving was light and refreshing. I knew it was a great time to whip out this salad recipe.

I am a big fan of simple recipes and quick to whip up –this salad is definitely those things. If you’re in the market for a new summer salad, see below!

IMG_4506

PEACH SUMMER SALAD

2-3 peaches

2 heirloom tomatoes

1 ball of mozzarella di bufala

1 small bundle of basil

6-8 slices of proscuitto

 2 heads of greens of your choosing (I now have used kale, arugula and spinach)

1/4 cup EVOO

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  1. Rinse and dry the lettuce and rip larger leaves in shreds
  2. Slice the peaches and tomatoes into wedges
  3. Assemble the salad by laying the lettuce down on the bottom, scatter the peaches and tomatoes over the lettuce
  4. Tear the mozzarella over the salad
  5. Spread the basil over the salad
  6. Lay slices of prosciutto throughout the salad
  7. To make the dressing, whisk together the EVOO and balsamic vinegar
  8. Drizzle desired amount on top of the salad
  9. Enjoy!

169 DAYS IMMUNE SYSTEM HEALTHY!

-C