Easy Egg Muffins with Pesto & Ham (GF with DF options)

Easy Egg Muffins with Pesto & Ham -- Perfect for breakfast all week or a packed lunch

By Alison Diven, Contributing Writer

Y’all, a week of breakfasts or light lunches doesn’t get any easier or more delicious than this. These little darlings? Five minutes prep, then bake. Done. No sautéing, no mixing, no mussed up bowls. And the flavor combinations are endless! This batch got all fancy with layers of leftover pesto, goat cheese, and ham, but I can also vouch for the simple pleasure of ham and cheddar. And what about in-season Hatch chiles and cheese? Oh baby.  I’m still all over the freezer burrito idea, but if you don’t watch your supply, you run out before you have time to make more. (Ask me how I know.) Egg muffins to the rescue!

One thing I love about this method is that, unlike scrambled eggs (which I also love), it showcases the glorious orange-gold yolks of pastured eggs. If you’ve never tasted a backyard-raised egg, you really owe it to yourself to locate some. Their flavor is so much richer that I now find grocery store eggs bland, even the fancy ones. We buy grocery store eggs too, of course, but every chance I get, I nab the “good stuff.” Farmers’ markets are a great place to look for them, and sometimes locally-owned health food stores will carry eggs from the community. You can also ask around. You want eggs from chickens that spend most of their lives outdoors being chicken-y–eating bugs, worms, and grass. Once you see and taste the difference, you’ll know the “pastured egg thing” isn’t just hype.

Pastured eggs, or eggs of any kind, are especially important for pregnant women like me. Egg white omelets may still populate the “healthy” menu at restaurants, but it’s eggs with their yolks that offer so much for general health and for building babies—including hard-to-get nutrients like vitamins A, D, and K, choline, zinc, and iodine. (Read more nutrition details from Kimberly here.)  These days, as I plod through the third trimester, I get as many egg yolks as I can for the brain-food choline, but scrambling eggs every morning gets really old. Adding in these egg cups and raw “milkshakes” with egg yolks has kept me going.

Recipe Notes:

Swap out ingredients freely! Don’t do pork? Skip the ham or substitute a slice or two of chicken sausage. Use any cheese your heart desires, or nix it altogether if you’re dairy-free. Some easy, no-pre-cooking-required flavor combinations to try:

  • Jarred roasted red peppers, ricotta cheese, and a basil leaf
  • Roasted New Mexico (Hatch) chile peppers with goat cheese or cheddar
  • Tomato, mozzarella, and a basil leaf
  • Thinly-sliced zucchini, monterrey Jack cheese, and cilantro pesto
  • Ham and cheddar

Do use paper muffin liners. While not strictly necessary, they help hold everything together since you’re layering, not mixing ingredients.

Eat ‘em hot or cold. They’re delicious fresh, of course, but I eat them cold throughout the week.

Other Bulk Breakfast Recipes You Might Like:

Individual Ricotta and Spinach Ricotta Omelets in a Muffin Tin
15 Freezer Burrito Hacks for Nourishing Cooks
Spiced Oatmeal-Apple Muffins (Dairy, Gluten, Egg-Free)
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Soaked)

Easy Egg Muffins with Pesto & Ham (GF with DF options)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
 
Egg muffins are endlessly versatile and a great way to cook breakfast or light lunches for a week. Pesto, ham, and cheese give these an Italian vibe, but you could go all-American with ham and cheddar or Southwest with green chiles and goat cheese. Let your imagination guide you! They are also delicious without the cheese, so don't let being dairy-free stop you from enjoying them.
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces sliced ham (I often buy Applegate or Organic Pastures)
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese or your favorite cheese, optional
  • ½ cup prepared or leftover pesto (use dairy-free pesto if needed)
  • 12 eggs, preferably pasture-raised and GMO-free
  • 12 paper muffin tin liners
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, line regular-size muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Chop ham and cheese into largish pieces.
  3. Distribute chopped ham among muffin cups. Then add a small spoonful of pesto to each cup. Sprinkle in the cheese. Crack a whole egg into each cup.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the yolks are set but not chalky. Let stand for 5 minutes. Eat warm or refrigerate for later meals.

 

Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce (dairy free option and maple syrup sweetened)

Apple cinnamon ice cream with salted caramel sauce (dairy free option and maple syrup sweetened)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Creamy coconut milk flavored with spicy cinnamon, maple syrup, sautéed apples in butter, topped with Kimi’s easy peasy caramel sauce. This is the perfect ice cream to try as summer gives way to fall. Local apples made their first appearance at our natural food store a couple weeks ago and I’ve been eager to start transitioning my light summer cooking to the more hearty flavors of autumn.

Apple orchards are bountiful in New England and, in season, local organic apples are incredibly affordable. The benefits of eating local produce, and supporting the families that grow it, is a priority for us. We don’t buy everything local and organic, but when we are able to it’s so worth it. Not only is local produce more nutritious, it’s highly sustainable, and some of the most delicious food available to us. Every September I’m sad to say goodbye to strawberries and tomatoes, but I’ll be embracing the local apples, squash and potatoes with open arms.

My husband and I recently welcomed an almost three year old little boy into our family from the foster care system. I’ve been having so much fun teaching him about different kinds of fruits and vegetables. He’ll try anything once, which has been such a pleasant surprise for me. I can’t wait to take him apple picking this fall and make one of his favorite foods – applesauce! For days, he had been looking forward to trying this ice cream, and with the speed it left his bowl and entered his little belly, I can confidently say it’s “toddler approved” :)

I love sweetening my ice cream recipes with raw honey or maple syrup. Maple syrup is packed with important antioxidant minerals like manganese and zinc, which helps boost the immune system. It’s a fantastic alternative to refined sugar and corn syrup. Be sure that your maple syrup is 100% pure, as most store bought syrups are mixed with corn syrup and other highly processed sweeteners.

I’m sad to say that I had never tried Kimi’s salted caramel sauce recipe until a few days ago. It’s so simple to make (Really! You don’t need to be an experienced candy maker for this one), and a decadent addition to this autumn flavored ice cream. My spoon has dipped into the jar more times than I can count since making it. Don’t skip this part!

Earlier this summer we invested in a long-awaited ice cream maker, which is necessary for this recipe. We have used it many times so far, and I’m confident it’s never going to collect dust with some of my other unused appliances. Homemade ice cream is just so good! We have this 2-quart ice cream maker, but I know Kimi and many others
love this smaller version as well.

Other ice cream recipes:

Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce (dairy free option and maple syrup sweetened)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
 
This delicious apple cinnamon ice cream is perfect for fall! Local apples, creamy coconut milk, and Kimi's salted caramel sauce makes this a decadent dessert that can be enjoyed all season.
Ingredients
  • APPLES:
  • 2 small to medium sized apples, peeled and cubed (any kind will do, but I used local Jonagold)
  • 4 Tbls butter (or substitute coconut oil to make it dairy free)
  • 2 Tbls coconut sugar (maple syrup or honey works too)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ICE CREAM:
  • 2 cans of full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbls ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • CARAMEL SAUCE:
  • http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2013/12/easy-peasy-caramel-sauce-dairycane-sugarcorn-syrup-free.html
Instructions
  1. Peel and cube the apples.
  2. Add the butter (or coconut oil for dairy free) to a heavy bottomed pan and allow it to melt, on medium heat, until foamy. Toss in the apple pieces, coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt, making sure to coat everything evenly. Sauté until the apples are tender.
  3. While the apples are cooking, put all the ice cream ingredients into a bowl, or a half gallon mason jar. I love using a hand blender to mix everything together, but a whisk works fine too.
  4. Place the ice cream mixture and the cooked apples, separately, into the refrigerator for about two hours. It's important that the ingredients are cold upon entering the ice cream maker.
  5. While you wait for everything to chill, prepare Kimi's salted caramel sauce (and try not to eat it all before the ice cream is made!).
  6. After everything is chilled, follow your ice cream makers instructions for making the ice cream. I typically blend the ice cream mixture for about 25-30 minutes, and then add the cooked apples for a final 5 minutes.
  7. Top with a generous drizzle of the caramel sauce.
Notes
I have a 2 quart ice cream maker and used two 13.5 oz cans of coconut milk. Use a bit less for smaller machines, maybe only 3 cups worth of the coconut milk.

 

Grain-Free Pizza “Pockets”

Grain free pizza pockets - These freeze well and are so fun!With a crunchy crust and a flavorful filling, no one complained about eating a grain-free meal last night! These flavorful pockets were very satisfying and filling, and make a very fun lunch or dinner (I’d recommend serving it with a homemade salad with a yummy homemade salad dressing!). We aren’t a grain-free family, but since we are gluten-free, our meals often end up being grain-free. And with beautiful foods like these homemade pockets, everyone is happy (even those in the family who CAN eat gluten!).

Proving that advertisement to children really does work, I still remember when “Hot Pockets” were a new and very cool product. I’m quite certain that I begged and begged my mother to buy me some. I think she did finally once, and I was pretty happy. But I’m not sure I was actually that pleased with the actual product. Regardless, I don’t remember much about my experience eating them, though I still remember exactly where they were placed in the freezer that day.

I think I will remember these ones for the flavor, not where I put them in my freezer ten years from now. ;-)

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My Inspiration

As I talked about yesterday, I have been really inspired to freeze more foods lately. I talked about being inspired by two of the books in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle (only on sale for a couple more days, by the way). What I didn’t mention was that this project was already on the schedule for my first experiment! They were inspired by the Grain-free Grab and Go eBook by Hayley from Health Starts in the Kitchen. This book is also part of the bundle (hey, when you have 73 eBooks, you end up with a lot of good stuff in there!). She has some a-m-a-z-i-n-g recipes in there. She has pockets for breakfast, pockets for lunch, pockets for dinner. Some are very American, some are Ethnic. They all sound great. I knew I had to try them.

Here’s Hayley’s book, among the other books in one of the categories of the bundle.

Following my own advice, I wasn’t so much trying to make huge amounts to freeze, but try out a few recipes to see what we liked best. These were such a hit, I’m definitely adding them to my list of recipes that are “good to freeze.”

Here’s what I tried out

I made three crusts. I made a slight adaption of Hayley crust from her book (I didn’t have the same seasoning, so I substituted), which was a tapioca and almond flour based crust. Technically, almonds are a food I am not supposed to have a lot of, so I wanted to also try out a very interesting alternative – yuca root crust. The third crust was completely accidental! When attempting to make Hayley’s crust the first time, I accidently poured in potato starch instead of tapioca starch! Turns out, it works just as well! I figured that was a good substitution tip to share with you all.

The almond flour/starch based crust firms up nicely, and is quite crunchy and delicious when cooked. The taro root crust is quite soft, yet still manages to be “bread-like” when cooked. We also lightly pan-fried these pockets for a crunchy outside, and then they were perfect.

I don’t have permission to share’s Hayley’s beautiful crust recipe with you all, since it’s part of her lovely eBook. However, if you aren’t able to purchase her book or the bundle right now, you could try this similar recipe here (just be aware that the ratios are different and I haven’t actually tried this recipe yet). For the amount of filling below, I’d double it.  I DO want to share my own tips with on making them however, and my own filling recipe.

You can also buy the bundle by clicking on the button below.

Grain-free Pizza pockets - These freeze well and are so fun!

For an almond flour/starch batter:

  • Don’t expect your first few to look perfect. Like most things it takes a little practice. At first I wasn’t spreading out the batter in the pan thin enough, so my pockets were too small for the amount of filling I should have been using. My first few were not beautiful, but they were still delicious!
  • Don’t overcook the batter when pan cooking your pocket dough. If it gets too crunchy, it’s harder to press together (if that happens moisten your fork with a little water).
  • Instead of pressing the edges together in the hot pan, I removed it to a plate, poured in batter for the next pocket dough, and while the first side cooked, moved to the plate, and pressed the edges together.
  • Put some music on and relax while you are making them! It does take a little time, but once you get a rhythm going, it goes much faster.

Grain Free Pizza Pockets - made with a yuca dough!

For the yuca crust

I got my recipe from Predominately Paleo, who I believe first created the “yuca dough.” Kudos to her for developing them!

A few notes:

    • The yuca has to be peeled, boiled, blended, and then cooled before you can work with it. This takes some time, but each step is very simple, and most of the time is not hands-on time, but waiting time.
    • The dough is very soft, and a fairly easy to break, so you have to make much smaller pockets.
    • Pan-frying them after cooking is the way to go. We also found that they could be cold in the refrigerator (as leftovers), and panfrying them warms them up perfectly. Win-win!
    • You absolutely should watch this video to see what you are going to be doing. It should take away any fears about the recipe.

  • Don’t overheat your blender when blending.
  • I loved the dough, but definitely think salt should be added to it. I’d recommend 1 teaspoon during the blending process.

To get the recipe for the dough (and another delicious filling) go here.

I also wanted to note that this method of freezing breakfast burritos would probably work great for these pizza pockets too!

Grain-Free Pizza "Pockets"
 
 
Next time, I am thinking of adding a red pepper, cubed mushrooms, and olives to the mix! This is enough to fill one recipe of the almond/starch crust, or the yuca crust recipe. Our favorite was the pork. Follow the instruction for filling the crusts per recipe you’ve chosen to use.
Ingredients
  • ¾ pound ground beef or pork, grassfed preferred for the beef
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • A generous pinch of thyme and oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or put through a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (we used goat), optional
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, brown the meat with the dried herbs and garlic. When cooked through, if needed, remove any grease with a spoon (tip the pan slightly to allow the grease to run to one side).
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and then salt generously to taste.
  3. If using the cheese, place a couple tablespoons on top of the meat filling before closing.

 

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and “The 5 Tastes” (or is it 6?)

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?)

Crisp-tender vegetables are sauteed in a lively and savory miso-ginger stir-fry sauce that is so out-of-this world you are going to want to eat it with a spoon. If you are stocked with basic Asian ingredients you might even be able to make this tonight!

The 5 Tastes

One thing I love about this dish is that it includes all of the 5 tastes. The 5 tastes refers to the collection of flavors we are able to distinguish. For each of these tastes we have a designated gustatory receptor – or unique section of the tongue that picks up the flavor.

  1. Sweet (bell peppers and, to an extent, sauteed onions and garlic)
  2. Sour (rice wine vinegar)
  3. Salty (tamari)
  4. Bitter (greens)
  5. Umami (miso, tamari)

I find that the more tastes that are represented in my meal, the more satisfied I am and the better I digest the food.

The more elusive tastes – Bitter & Umami

Bitter

Years ago, when I was reading up on Swedish bitters, I learned that the absence of one or more of the five tastes are thought to lead to a digestive imbalance. While sweet, sour and salty abound, the bitter taste is sorely lacking in the typical American diet. This is one reason that many people experience immediate relief from heartburn or bloating with Swedish bitters. This herbal concoction has medicinal qualities as well, but there is often a shift that happens as soon as it hits the tongue or is swallowed.

I’ve personally experienced this when taking Swedish bitters or having a sip of Becherovka (a famous digestif made in Czech Republic) after a heavy meal.

As my diet has become more balanced over the years, I have naturally included more bitter foods.

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?) - The Nourishing Gourmet

Lacinato Kale

Here is a list of common bitter foods:

  • kale (lately I’m loving lacinato kale!)
  • dandelion greens
  • bitter melon
  • radishes
  • eggplant
  • dill
  • arugula
  • coffee
  • dark chocolate

Umami (as I best understand it)

 Umami, officially identified  in the early 1900’s, is described as a delicious savory flavor and it can not be made by simply combining any of the other four tastes. It is unique. Umami foods have a common denominator – the amino acid glutamine.

Glutamine is found naturally in many foods, including meats, dairy (especially aged cheese), tomatoes and seaweed.

When food is prepared in certain ways such as microbial fermentation and grilling, the amino acids can get rearranged and some of the glutamine can separate from the other aminos and become free glutamate. This can make food taste really good! And many of these foods have fantastic health benefits. But they might cause issues for some people if eaten in excess.

When the processing gets more severe (even so-called natural processing using enzymes or extremely high heat) the amount of free glutamate increases. When it binds to sodium in the food it becomes mono-sodium glutamate (MSG).

The most common source of umami in the American diet is probably MSG. But for many people, MSG can be unhealthy or even dangerous. When Kimi wrote about the food and behavior connection in children, she mentioned MSG as a chemical to which many children are sensitive. I definitely agree.

When my kids are eating more foods that contain MSG (it slips in from time to time), their appetite gets whacked and they begin craving processed foods. And since MSG can cross the blood brain barrier it can definitely affect behavior, in some people more than in others. A little while back, I wrote about MSG and the blood brain barrier as well as who is vulnerable and how to avoid it (it’s not as easy as scanning the label).

When trying to make a move away from processed foods, finding natural sources of umami is critical for success. The umami taste is so alluring that unless it is in the diet, we might be tempted to seek it out in unhealthy ways.

Here are some good natural sources of umami:

  • seafood
  • sea vegetables
  • miso
  • shiitaki mushrooms
  • savory broths
  • cultured foods such as sauerkraut
  • anchovy paste
  • hard cheeses
  • ketchup (here’s a good homemade one)

A sixth taste?

Now it looks like the 5 Tastes may be bumped up to 6. Good news – the newbie is fat! Research shows that we may have a taste receptor for fat (and I’m pretty sure that mine is disproportionately large).

Why is spicy not considered a taste?

Spicy is not actually a taste – it’s a sensation. A pain sensation. This makes me question my obsession with jalapenos!

Quick Miso Stir-Fry and "The 5 Tastes" (or is it 6?) - The Nourishing Gourmet

This sauce isn’t spicy. It includes a good dose of ginger, but it mellows as it cooks. I like to add crushed red peppers to my own serving.

Pictured above are fresh ginger ice cubes. (The bowl was made by my brother’s lovely girlfriend and artist Maria Lucia Londoño – isn’t it pretty?)

I had a bunch of ginger that was showing signs of turning, so I peeled and roughly chopped it and threw it in the blender with just enough water to cover it, then liquified it and poured it into an ice cube tray to freeze. I happen to have baby food trays with a lid, but regular ice cube trays would work just as well if you transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or Pyrex container once they are frozen.

The last time I made this stir-fry I just popped one of these ginger ice cubes into the pan right before adding the sauce. They also come in handy for green smoothies and soups. For a quick ginger tea you can drop a couple into boiling water and if you have time add a little raw honey and/or lemon.

I also use this technique for saving fresh herbs before they go bad.

I hope your family gets to enjoy this dish soon! Here’s a tip for getting kids to eat it: chop the vegetables small, mix them into rice and call it fried rice.

Quick Miso Stir-Fry (And How to Freeze Garlic, Ginger & Herbs)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Stir-Fry
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2-4
 
This quick & simple miso stir-fry is a perfect for a busy night.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons miso (red or white)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
  • 5 cups of greens (lacinato kale is pictured here)
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil for sauteing
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients (everything except for the vegetables and olive oil).
  2. Heat the olive or coconut oil a large pan over medium heat.
  3. Stir-fry the pepper, onion and carrots, stirring occasionally until "crisp tender" (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add the greens and saute until tender to the bite.
  5. Add in the sauce and allow it to heat through gently (about 1 minute).
  6. Serve over rice or quinoa. Add chicken, shrimp or steak if you'd like!
Notes
I like to use olive oil when sauteing vegetables, but oftentimes I'll add a little water to the pan first (1/4 cup or so) to temper the heat since olive oil becomes unstable at high temperatures.