Gluten & Sugar Free Avocado Key Lime Pie

Gluten & Sugar Free Avocado Key Lime Pie

avocado key lime pieIngredients
For the crust:
1/2 cup figs or dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)
2 TB coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 TB melted butter
1-2 TB honey
1 tsp vanilla

For the filling:

Zest from 3 limes
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (3 limes; Can use lime concentrate to make 1/2 cup)
3 TB unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups ripe avocado (2 1/2 avocados)
1/3-1/2 cup honey (to taste)
1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 drops lime essential oil
1/8 tsp lemon extract



Preheat oven to 325 F. Soak dates in warm water. Combine dry ingredients in food processor or blender and chop coarsely. Chop dates. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix until it sticks together. Pat into pie plate. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Zest & juice limes. Heat lime juice in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Add gelatin and stir until smooth. Combine with remaining ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour over crust and chill 4-6 hours

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

Sometimes you just need a fast dinner that isn’t full of processed ingredients and preservatives. Sometimes you just want light, simple meal that satisfies your palate. This recipe fits the bill for both those situations. Even my young teenager can prepare it, and it tastes good. With simple ingredients like garlic, fresh mushrooms, and parmesan cheese this Garlic Mushroom Pasta is a great alternative to the traditional canned spaghetti dinner. Add some fresh vegetables on the side, like asparagus or grilled zucchini, and you have a simple, nourishing meal ready in less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

2 TB  olive oil
12 oz mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Cool pasta in boiling water until tender. Reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain and return to pot.

While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in frying pan. Add mushrooms and garlic, add salt and pepper to taste,  and cover. Stir occasionally until mushrooms have softened and released liquid (about 7-10 minutes). Once softened, uncover pan and cook another 3-5 minutes.

Add mushrooms and parmesan to drained noodles. Toss to combine, adding as much reserved pasta water as needed to create a light sauce (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup).

Sprinkle with additional parmesan and serve immediately.

Simple Tofu Stir-fry

My children are funny; one of their favorite foods is tofu. I didn’t even know what tofu was for sure until I had a roommate in college who ate it. I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as one of my top foods. However, they like it, and they will both eat some pretty healthy foods if tofu is in the dish. So, I learned about tofu and how to cook with it. This Simple Tofu Stir-fry is one of the earliest recipes we enjoyed; it is easy to make with whatever vegetables you have on hand and like to eat. Perhaps you can even encourage your picky eaters to try a new food if it is mixed with some of the things they like. (I’m still crossing my fingers that it might work for a child in this house – good luck!)

Simple Tofu Stir-fry

1 package of firm tofu, diced
1 1/2 lbs broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced with seeds removed
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp ginger grated
2 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp soy sauce

4 tbsp rice vinegar
optional: other vegetables as desired (carrots, peas, green beans, zucchini)

Prepare the tofu by rinsing gently in water while still in the container. Pour out liquid and place tofu onto a soft towel to pat dry. Blanch broccoli in salted boiling water
Heat a frying pan with the oil and fry the tofu, red peppers, and green onions in 1/2 inch cubes until tofu is brown. Add broccoli, garlic and ginger to pan and toss together.
Whisk remaining ingredients together in bowl and add to pan
Stir together until coated and serve on rice.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Soup

When I was a growing up, my mom used to make Cream of Broccoli Soup on cold winter days. As a child, I was NOT excited to eat it, but once I left home, I used to search out good Cream of Broccoli soups on cold days or when I missed home. I finally got the recipe and learned to make my own because there really wasn’t much that was as good as Mom’s.

I have adapted my recipe to make it somewhat lower in calories than the original. We like to serve it in bread bowls or with a hearty roll if we have them on hand. Pick up some fresh rolls from a local bakery to eat along with this for the perfect, simple winter meal.

Cydne’s Cream of Broccoli Soup

2 cups chicken broth (can be made with bouillon)
16 oz broccoli, chopped*
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1/2 cup flour
1/4  cup butter
1 can evaporated milk
2 tsp mustard
1 cup grated cheese, plus extra for serving

In a large pot, cook broccoli and onion in broth until tender. In a separate saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour, milk and mustard and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened.  Add sauce to the broth & broccoli and mix. Add cheese and heat until melted. Serve hot with grated cheese on top, in a bread bowl or with a roll on the side.

*Cauliflower or mushrooms can be substituted for some or all of the broccoli

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Zuppa Toscana Soup

When my family visits, they always like to visit Olive Garden for dinner; I am fine with their meals, but what I really love is their Zuppa Toscana soup. An internet search produced the original recipe, but it made nearly FIVE gallons at a time – just a bit more than my family eats at a typical meal. I adapted it and made a few slight changes to come up with the recipe that follows. Now you just need to pick up some soft rolls from a local bakery to dip in your soup in place of breadsticks and you are all set for your very own OG experience without leaving home!

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Yield: 2 1/2 qts (10 cups)
2-3 slices diced bacon
1/2 lb ground sausage
¼ – ½ tsp crushed red pepper (according to taste)
¼ lb yellow onion, grated (~1/2 onion)
2-3 minced cloves garlic
5 cups hot water
2 TB chicken soup base
1 1/4 lbs yellow potatoes, ¼” sliced (~2 large russets)
2 oz (1/8 lb) fresh kale, 3/4” cut (~ 1 cup, chopped)
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp mustard powder
Cook bacon in microwave; save grease. Preheat pot to Med-High heat. Add sausage & red pepper. Cook until internal temp reaches 165 F, approximately 10 minutes. Break up large pieces. Remove from pot & drain well. Place bacon & onion in pot. Cook until onions are transparent, approximately 15 minutes. Add garlic puree, sauté 1 minute. Add water and chicken base. Stir with whisk until base is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to Med. Break up potatoes with masher. Add kale, sausage, and cream. Simmer 5 minutes.
*mustard greens also work in place of kale
Butternut Squash Soup & Sopapillas

Butternut Squash Soup & Sopapillas

We have beautiful butternut squash from our garden this summer, so here are two recipes to warm you up and satisfy your taste buds. Butternut Squash Soup & Sopapillas are the perfect companions. The first, Butternut Squash Soup, is the perfect meal on a cool fall evening – thick, creamy and warm – and sopapillas are great for sopping up the extra. Squash sopapillas are moist and, surprisingly, don’t taste of squash! So, if you have squash-haters in your family, these sopapillas are a great way to use your squash and slip some extra nutrition into your meal!

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs squash)
2 large sweet apples, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp curry powder
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use more for a thinner soup)
8 oz sour cream or plain yogurt*
2 tsp salt
sour cream and croutons (optional)

Peel and cube the squash and apples into small pieces. Dice the onions.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir one minute or until curry is fragrant.
Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat.
Carefully ladle 1/3 of mixture into a blender (do not attempt to mix all of the soup at one time!). Leave the plug in the lid slightly open to allow steam to escape and pulse the blender until no chunks remain. Pour into a mixing bowl. Repeat one more time. Mash the remaining soup mixture and add to the puree.
Return to pot and whisk in sour cream and salt until completely incorporated. Return to heat and bring to a simmer again.
Remove from heat and garnish with sour cream and croutons if desired.

*I like to use homemade yogurt that has been strained for several hours

recipe adapted from The Pampered Chef

Second Day soup – Thai inspired vegetables and rice
Add cooked vegetables (whatever you have – carrots, zucchini, green beans, snap peas, mushrooms) and shredded chicken (leftover Turkey, anyone?) to the leftover soup and serve over rice.

Butternut Squash Sopapillas

1 1/4 cups Butternut squash
4 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 TB (1 cube) butter, melted
2 cups oil, for pan-frying

  • Peel, seed and cube the squash. Place in a covered microwave safe dish and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until squash is easily pierced with a fork.
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Stir together the squash and melted butter. Stir the flour mixture into the squash until blended. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and satiny, adding a little more flour if necessary. Cover dough and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and cut into 3″ diameter circles. Poke each circle with a fork in the center to prevent it from ballooning when frying.
Pour vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat over med-high heat until hot. Place several of the circles into the oil and cook until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Cook remainder the same way.
Serve with whipped butter, honey, jam, honey-butter, or soup.
recipe adapted from
Grilled Garlic Baby Red Potatoes

Grilled Garlic Baby Red Potatoes

I lived in Idaho for a brief period of time as a child, and the one thing I remember is that we truly did eat potatoes often. Our favorites were the baby red potatoes, and they are still a favorite today. Red Potatoes have a more tender and thin peel than the traditional russet potatoes used for baking. This means that  you can wash them, cut them, and bake them without having to peel them. Raise your hand if no peeling sounds good to you (My hand is up!) Even my children will eat the skins of Baby Reds, and that means that they are getting all the good nutrition that is found in the skin. This recipe for Grilled Garlic Baby Red Potatoes is my favorite kind of cooking because it is simple, delicious, easy to clean up, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen in the summer!

Grilled Baby Red Potatoes with Garlic
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 lbs redskin potatoes (or substitute Yukon Gold)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat grill to medium heat (375 F). Tear off a sheet of foil about 2 feet long; rub a bit of olive oil on the foil to prevent sticking. Wash potatoes and cut into 3/4″ cubes. In a medium bowl, toss potatoes, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Transfer potatoes to the foil sheet. Wrap the foil around the potatoes and crimp edges together across top and then sides. Place on a plate to carry to grill. Place packet on the preheated grill and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from grill to plate and carefully open packet (watch out for steam!) Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.

Serves 4

Country Chicken Noodle Soup

Country Chicken Noodle Soup

Country Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my husband’s comfort foods. His mom made it when he was growing up, so eating it means that “all is right in the world.” If you aren’t a fan of de-boning chicken (my husband does that for me), you can substitute boneless chicken breasts as mentioned in the recipe. If you do use a whole chicken, however, you can enjoy the added nutritional benefits of bone broth without actually having to collect and boil bones. Want to learn more about bone broth? The Nourished Kitchen has tons of information about bone broth and some of its nutritional benefits. Additionally, Country Chicken Noodle Soup uses lots of fresh veggies and herbs, so you can feel really good about feeding it to your family. Having grown up in a home where our soup usually came from a can, I can say that if you can plan ahead enough to make soup from scratch, the flavor is soooo much richer and more satisfying.

 Even a small chicken will yield enough meat that you only need to use part of it. Save the remainder of this moist, flavorful shredded chicken for another quick meal like California Beans & Rice, and get two meals out of one!
Country Chicken Noodle Soup
2 onions chopped
2-3 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. basil (or 2 tsp. fresh, chopped basil)
¼ tsp. leaf thyme
3 TB dry parsley flakes (or 3/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley)
1 10 oz pkg frozen peas
1 2 ½ lb whole fryer
(or 1-2 lbs boneless chicken breasts)
4 cups water
1 cup noodles (egg noodles)
Place all ingredients in crock pot, except noodles, in order listed. Cover and cook on low 8 hours (high 4-6). One hour before serving, remove chicken and cool slightly. Remove meat from bones and return half of meat to pot. Add noodles and turn heat to high. Cover and cook 1 hour.
Mock Cabbage Lasagna

Mock Cabbage Lasagna

In college, one of my roommate’s favorite meals was Mock Cabbage Lasagna.The first time she mentioned it, I thought she was insane. “Who even eats cabbage?” I thought. “And why would you ruin a good lasagna with it?” (My limited experience with cabbage consisted of boiled cabbage mush.) Obviously, I had much to learn because I was wrong. Very, very wrong. I love this meal, and my 10-year-old loves it, and my husband loves it, and my neighbors love it, and you will love it. Best of all, it is faster to prepare than regular lasagna because you don’t have to pre-boil the noodles or make sure everything is covered perfectly so that you don’t have hard noodles. AND it is HEALTHY. Bonus!


Mock Cabbage Lasagna
1 sm head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 lb ground beef
1/2 c chopped onion
1 can tomato soup
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 c rice, uncooked
1/2 c grated cheese
Place rice in bottom of greased 9×13 pan. Top with half of cabbage.  Brown hamburger with onion in skillet, salt & pepper to taste.  Spoon half over cabbage.  Whisk soup and water together.  Pour half over ground beef mixture.  Repeat layers of cabbage, meat and sauce.
Bake covered at 350° for 1 hour. Remove and top with cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This recipe can be prepared in a pressure cooker. Brown hamburger and layer as above. Cook on high pressure (9-10 psi) for 5-6 minutes. Release pressure, top with cheese and cover 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Pear Gorgonzola Salad

Pear Gorgonzola Salad

I am a reformed picky eater. As a child, I was very sensitive to textures and my stomach was easily upset. As a result, I was very hesitant to try new foods.The rule at our house was that we had to try at least one bite of everything in order to be polite, and I remember politely smiling while I swallowed my one required taste (while tasting it as little as possible). Fortunately, I have a patient husband, who has introduced me to the pleasures of well-flavored foods, and I have greatly expanded my palate. One of my favorite taste combinations now is the contrast of bitter and sweet. The contrasting flavors of sweet pears, bitter Gorgonzola cheese, and tart cranberries in Pear Gorgonzola Salad blend well with the vinaigrette dressing. No single ingredient dominates the taste experience. This is a great special occasion salad – simple to prepare, but full of ingredients and flavors that step beyond the everyday mundane and into the realm of celebrating life.
Pear Gorgonzola Salad
1 head of green leaf lettuce
3 pears, peeled and sliced
Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, to taste (we use about 1/2 of an 8 oz. container
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix together lettuce and pears. Top with cheese, walnuts, and cranberries. Serve with dressing.

1/2 c vinegar
1/c vegetable oil
juice from 1 lemon
2 1/2 TB. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. finely chopped red onion

Mix together in a blender. Shake before serving.

Sofrito Sauce

Sofrito Sauce

If you haven’t heard of Sofrito, you aren’t alone! My husband proudly brought home a jar of it one day for a meal he had planned. I had no idea what it was. Much to my surprise (after looking at the ingredients), I really liked it, so I looked up what it was and found some recipes.

Sofrito is a base for many dishes in Spanish and Latin American cooking. It consists of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and sometimes garlic. The exact recipe varies based on the country of origin; similar sauces are used in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and Haiti just to name a few.

Our family thinks it tastes similar to Taco Seasoning and tomato sauce (but better), and it is much healthier than the dry, preservative-filled packets from the store! For convenience, I like to make a large batch and then freeze it in meal-sized portions so that we always have it on hand.

1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
*optional 10 cilantro leaves & stems

Remove seeds from peppers and peel onion and garlic. Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until it makes a thick sauce, much like a non-chunky salsa or spaghetti sauce.

This recipe is incredibly forgiving; use what you have on hand. As long as there is tomato and onion, you can probably call it Sofrito. We have even used tomato sauce when we were low on real tomatoes. Sofrito adds an excellent flavor to all sorts of dishes. It can be used in place of taco sauce, as a sauce for meat, as a soup base, with meat inside empanadas, or even as sauce for a casserole or southwestern-style stir-fry.  Even the onion and pepper-haters at our house like Sofrito-flavored dishes!

Snappy Sun-Maid Salsa

Snappy Sun-Maid Salsa

Recently I discovered this recipe for Snappy Sun-Maid Salsa in a cookbook I have had for years. We happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so I mixed up a batch. Really, there isn’t too much better than fresh salsa on a warm day. We ate this with chips just like traditional salsa, but the recipe recommends serving it on bruschetta – grab some yummy artisan bread from the bakery and serve it before your next party as an appetizer. I have also seen several recipes featuring a similar salsa served on grilled halibut. Now that is a real summer treat (Father’s day is coming soon) !

You can find this recipe and many others featuring dried & fresh fruit in Family Favorite Recipes.
Snappy Sun-Maid Salsa
adapted from Family Favorite Recipes
1/2 c. red pepper, diced
1/2 c. yellow pepper, diced
1 c. Sun-Maid NaturalRaisins (or another dried fruit), chopped
1 c. pineapple, diced
1/2 c. red onion, diced
Optional: 1/2 c. jicama,chopped
1/4 c. fresh cilantro or freshparsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. jalapeño pepper,seeded and minced
2 to 3 T. lime juice1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. salt