Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

Grain-Free Deliciousness

Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies are chewy, moist, and delicious! They are not overly sweet, using maple syrup and dark chocolate chips as the only sweeteners.

This recipe does not use any gluten-free mixes that often contain refined starches, xanthan gum, and bean flours (which can be bitter and/or difficult to digest). Almond meal or flour is used in place of any grain-based flours making these cookies more nutrient-dense, grain-free, and gluten-free.

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

Only 7 Simple Ingredients in Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies have only 7 ingredients.

There is an option to add baking soda. They get slightly puffier, but I can’t really tell the difference. I’d just leave it out if you like a nice, dense, chewy cookie!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24-30 cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted grass-fed butter or virgin coconut oil
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups almond flour or almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and add butter or coconut oil. Heat until just melted (it should not start to fizz or bubble), then remove pan from heat. Whisk in maple syrup.
  2. If mixture is not too hot, whisk in egg and vanilla. If mixture is too hot, transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in egg and vanilla.
  3. Add almond meal, baking soda (if using), and sea salt. Mix until well combined.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a rubber or silicone spatula, put cookie dough into a storage container and refrigerate until firm, about an hour (or overnight).
  6. Preheat oven to 350 °F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Take cookie dough out of the refrigerator and place walnut-sized balls onto lined baking sheet about ½ inch apart. Gently flatten out cookie dough to desired shape. The cookies will not spread out much since they are made with almond flour. Just make the number of cookies you'd like and save the rest of the dough in the refrigerator for the next time you need some more cookies!
  8. Bake 12 minutes and carefully rotate cookie sheet 180 degrees. Bake another 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. This will help them to firm up. Using a metal spatula, place cookies onto cooling rack or large plate.
  10. Store extra cookies in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies • Cook Love Heal by Rachel Zierzow

Try More Dessert Recipes on Cook Love Heal:

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)

Golden Milk Latte with Turmeric and Cardamom

Pistachio and Rose Petal Coconut Ice Cream (vegan, GF)

Chocolate Coco Truffles

Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil

photo of Mediterranean pasta with broccolini, artichokes, and fresh basil on white plate

Mediterranean Pasta Dish Full of Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

This Mediterranean pasta dish is loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, like artichokes, zucchini, broccolini, tomatoes, fresh basil, and if you wish, olives or capers. If you’d like to make this into a complete meal, you can add some protein likes cooked chickpeas, cooked white beans, or chicken.

Winter Substitutions for Fresh Basil and Tomatoes

Although I often make Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil in the summertime when fresh tomatoes and basil are in season, it is also a nice holiday dish because of the vibrant colors. You can just substitute sun-dried tomatoes and parsley if tomatoes and basil aren’t available. Here is a brand of sun-dried tomatoes I like.

closeup photo of Mediterranean Pasta with broccolini, artichokes, and fresh basil

Italian Cooking Class at Con’ Olio this February

On February 5, 2020 I’ll be teaching an Italian coking class for Valentine’s. I hope you can make it! My cooking class calendar is listed here.

Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces penne or bowtie pasta (Jovial brand GF variety recommended)
  • sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered
  • 1 bunch broccolini, stems and flowers, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), sliced or ½ cup baby tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans or 1 cup cooked, cubed chicken (boneless breast or thighs)
  • spring or filtered water (if needed)
  • ½ cup fresh basil or parsley (chopped)
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Add pasta and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring back to a boil, then turn to medium low and boil for recommended time on package (about 8-12 minutes). Test for doneness a little before you think it’s ready to prevent overcooking. Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with a little cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about a minute. Add olive oil, onion, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, zucchini, and artichokes and sauté a few minutes more.
  4. Add broccolini and sundried tomatoes and sauté about 1 minute, or until broccolini is bright green. If using fresh tomatoes, wait to add those in with the fresh basil.
  5. Add chickpeas or chicken and a splash of water, if needed, to prevent sticking.
  6. Add cooked pasta and gently stir to combine with vegetables.
  7. Turn off heat and garnish with fresh basil. Sprinkle with olives and/or capers if desired.
  8. Serve with a side salad.

 

pinterest photo of Mediterreanean pasta dish

Try some other Mediterranean/Italian recipes on my blog:

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon

Caponata (Sicilian-style summer vegetables)

Almond-Orange Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

 

 

Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle

wild rice pilaf with roasted vegetables in wooden bowl

Wild Rice Pilaf is a Nutrient-Dense Holiday Dish!

If you’re needing something to bring to a holiday party or have on hand for lunches, try this Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle. It is nutrient-dense, plant-based side dish that is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Whenever November rolls around I am ready to make this dish. It is full of so many fall and winter ingredients that I look forward to having the whole year long!

Wild rice pilaf is hearty and flavorful with baby arugula and pecans added at the end for freshness and crunch. Serve as a side dish or spoon into baked acorn squash halves.

wild rice pilaf in acorn squash halves

What exactly is Wild Rice?

Wild rice is the fruit from a grass from the Zizania genus and is technically not related to rice. It was a traditional staple food of many Native Americans and was considered a gift from the Great Spirit. Read below an excerpt from Eden Foods’ story about wild rice.

Wild rice is not just a traditional food, or source of income for Native Americans. It is a gift from the Great Spirit, and a sacred component of their culture, honored in their ceremonies and embedded in their way of life. Wild rice stands are also a vital part of the ecology of thousands of lakes and rivers. As the grain ripens and during harvesting, some of the grain falls into the lakebeds, reseeding the beds for next year’s harvest. The rice stands provide a unique habitat for thousands of waterfowl, fish and other wildlife who rely on it as a food, and they are an important nesting haven.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle
 
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Wild rice pilaf is hearty and flavorful with baby arugula and pecans added at the end for freshness and crunch. Serve as a side dish or spoon into baked acorn squash halves.
Author:
Recipe type: Holiday Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pilaf
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 2 cups sweet potato, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
Instructions
Vinaigrette
  1. In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together first 5 ingredients, then whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
Pilaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Heat medium saucepan with a lid over medium heat for a minute. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, celery, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in wild rice being careful not to break the grains. Add water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes, then turn heat off and let sit with the lid on for 15 more minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Spread evenly on sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown. Turn sweet potatoes with a spatula halfway through to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  5. Place rice into a large bowl and toss with roasted sweet potatoes, baby arugula, parsley, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. Plate wild rice pilaf on a platter or shallow bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette just before serving.

 

How to Make Variations on this Recipe

Feel free to vary the vegetables and nuts and use what you have on hand. I have tried this recipe with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccolini, and butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes and really loved it. Instead of pecans, you could use toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or walnuts. Let me know in the comments how you made yours or share a photo on Instagram with #cookloveheal tag.

wild rice pilaf wth roasted vegetables
Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Broccolini, Carrots, and Cauliflower – I made this version without the dressing

Taking the time to make nourishing meals during the holidays will help to keep you and your loved ones healthy throughout the cold winter months. Here is a collection of healthy holiday recipes from my blog that I put together last year. Enjoy!

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos

photo of two roasted veggie and black bean tacos on corn tortillas

Tacos are a Great Anytime Meal!

Living in Texas the past 23 years has taught me one thing for sure… Tacos can be eaten any time of day, and they make an especially good breakfast! Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos are nutrient-dense and plant-based, and loaded with flavorful veggies, so try them the next time you need a taco fix!

At our house we have tacos for breakfast more than any other time, but on weekdays they usually consist of some leftover beans, avocado, and cilantro. Sometimes we will sauté a little zucchini, mushrooms, or onion on the side. On the weekends, we get more elaborate and roast some veggies or make a homemade salsa.

Vary Your Toppings

Don’t worry about following the recipe exactly. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, such as yellow squash, butternut squash, sweet corn, or other kinds of mushrooms.  I also love to top my tacos with homemade ume pickles. The possibilities are endless!

Make a Big Batch of Beans

You can make a big pot of homemade black beans once a month and freeze the leftovers in quart-sized ziplock bags. Once a week, take out a bag to thaw and reheat it with a little olive oil and salt to freshen it up. Sub pinto beans for black beans if you prefer.

If using canned beans, I’d take the time to sauté some onions and garlic, add the beans (that have been drained and rinsed), season with some sea salt, add a little water, and simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Beans right out of the can have no taste and usually need to be softened up too.

photo of two roasted veggie and black bean tacos on corn tortillasPlease Pass the Salsa!

For me, salsa is optional. For others, a taco isn’t a taco without a spicy salsa! Here are some of my favorites if you’re into salsa!

No-Nightshade Verde Sauce

Salsa Doña, a creamy green salsa made with roasted jalapeños and garlic (inspired by my favorite Austin taco chain Tacodeli)

Classic Pico de Gallo, a chunky fresh salsa with tomatoes, onion, peppers, cilantro, and lime.

Cassava Tortillas are a Grain-Free Alternative

Have you tried Cassava tortillas? If you’re looking for a grain-free or corn-free tortilla, give them a try. There are at least 2 brands available in my area but I think the Siete brand Cassava tortillas are my favorite. They are much more expensive than corn tortillas but they are super delicious and will not break apart (tapioca flour makes them more pliable). Stock up when they go on sale and store extra packages in the freezer.

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos
 
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We love to make these tacos for breakfast in the fall and winter, but you can also serve them for lunch or dinner! Make extra veggies to have on hand at your next meal as a side or to make more tacos.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 tacos
Ingredients
  • 1 medium zucchini, small dice
  • 1 medium sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked and seasoned black beans
  • 1 package non-GMO corn tortillas, El Milagro brand recommended
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced or cubed
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line large sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss together zucchini, sweet potato, and sweet corn, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Spread vegetables onto prepared sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Toss veggies to make sure they cook evenly and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. Check again and remove from oven when edges are starting to turn golden brown. If you have too many veggies for one sheet pan, you can do them in batches.
  4. Place roasted veggies back into mixing bowl and mix in fresh cilantro. Cover and set aside.
  5. In a small to medium saucepan, heat up black beans with a tablespoon of olive oil. When black beans are soft, mash with a fork or potato masher. Add a little water if needed. Season with a little sea salt if needed.
  6. Heat a cast iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat for about a minute. Add a few drops olive oil and place tortilla on hot skillet. Using a pancake spatula, flip tortilla every 10-15 seconds to heat up evenly on both sides. Remove to a plate or a tortilla warmer and make sure to cover with a clean towel or pot lid. Repeat with as many tortillas as you need for your meal, about 2 per person. Tortillas can also be kept warm in a 200 degree oven by placing in an ovenproof dish (like a pie plate) and keep covered with foil.
  7. At the table, pass around the tortillas and each person can fill their tacos with roasted veggies and avocado. Garnish with a squeeze of lime.
Variations
  1. Substitute some other vegetables, such as sweet corn, winter squash, red onion, or yellow squash.
  2. Add some fresh baby arugula or some finely shredded green cabbage on the top of each taco.
  3. Use pinto beans instead of black beans.
  4. Serve with cassava tortillas (Siete brand) if you prefer them to corn tortillas.

Share Your Roasted Veggie Tacos

Enjoy making your Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos! Share your taco photos on Instagram with hashtag #cookloveheal so we can benefit from each other’s creative ideas.

Taco fixings set up to make tacos including yellow squash, corn, green beans, cilantro, guacamole, scrambled eggs, sauteed red onions, and pinto beans
Make Your Own Tacos Kids’ Cooking Class – Summer 2019

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette

arugula, fennel, and nectarine salad on fancy white plate

Summer Salads Are Cooling

It is mid-August and the weather is hot in Austin, Texas! We make a salad at least once a day to help us stay cool. We are in love with Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette as it is cooling, crunchy, and full of flavor!

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad Goes Well with Italian Menu

This summer arugula salad was born the other night when we were having a friend over for dinner and needed something to go with baked white fish and butternut squash risotto. In the fridge we had some baby arugula, baby tomatoes, a little fresh fennel, fresh basil and mint, and a lemon.

As I put the salad ingredients together, I saw a nectarine ripening on the counter, and wondered if it would go with the other ingredients. It turns out it was the perfect complement to the basil and mint, and the sweetness of the nectarine balanced out the bitterness of the arugula.

The third time I made this salad I added some organic feta cheese which made it look extra beautiful. If you’d prefer, you could put some toasted sliced almonds, pistachios, pecans, or homemade croutons on top of the salad instead of the cheese.

fennel and nectarine salad on fancy white plate

Add Fresh Herbs to Arugula Salads for Flavor

In addition to arugula greens, this salad has fresh basil and mint. The herbs on my back porch are doing great, thanks to daily watering and a burlap shade structure (from Costco) my husband hung over part of the deck. It’s just enough to block some of the harshest sun in the afternoon.

Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the dressing, I used a white balsamic vinegar to go along with some lemon juice and olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette. But feel free to use any high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil combination you like. I think a dark balsamic would work well here, as would a flavored white balsamic vinegar like lemongrass-mint or peach. I especially like the balsamic varieties at Con’ Olio. The sweetness of the dressing helps to balance out the bitterness of the arugula.

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: New American
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 5 ounces baby arugula (about 5-6 handfuls)
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced
  • zest of 1 or 2 lemons (yellow part only)
  • 2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
Dressing
  • juice of 2 lemons (~6 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
Salad
  1. In a large prep bowl, toss together arugula, fennel, basil, mint, and lemon zest.
  2. Using tongs, lightly dress salad with some of the lemon-white balsamic vinaigrette (below).
  3. Place salad onto individual salad plates or one large salad bowl or platter.
  4. Decorate the salad with nectarines and tomatoes. Drizzle with a little extra dressing, if desired.
Dressing
  1. Whisk together lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil (drizzle in slowly), a couple large pinches of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Variations
  1. Add some crumbled feta cheese, cubed fresh mozzarella, or some kind of toasted nut (sliced almonds, pistachios, or pecans) to the top of the salad along with the nectarines and tomatoes.

Other Summer Salads from Cook Love Heal

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

 

Bon appétit!

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)

chocolate almond butter truffles

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles are Dairy-free, Gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles are one of my favorite desserts for dinner parties, holiday get togethers, and hostess gifts as they are beautiful as well as  dairy-free and gluten-free (and paleo friendly if you use a very dark chocolate).

Truffles Make a Great Holiday Gift

Truffles are super cute arranged in little cupcake liners on a colorful platter. You can also box them up in little gift boxes to give as gifts. Just make sure to refrigerate the truffles until it’s time to gift them.

Use Different Coatings for Variety

Get creative with coatings for your truffles– I use toasted almonds and cocoa here, but you can try any of the following:

  • chopped toasted pistachios
  • dried lavender flowers (see image below)
  • dried rose petals (make sure they are the edible variety found with bulk teas)
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • chopped roasted peanuts
  • carob powder 

truffles with lavender buds

Tips for Making Dark Chocolate Truffles

Set aside some time for the truffle mixture to chill in the refrigerator before forming into balls, perhaps an hour or so. If you need to leave them longer than that and the mixture gets hard, no worries, just set out at room temperature for 30 minutes and they should be ready to roll.

You’ll need to work quickly when forming the truffle balls, using your fingertips, until coated with cocoa/almonds. Do not try rolling truffles in the palm of your hand, or they will melt! Otherwise they are really simple to make.

 

Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (fair trade recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons smooth, roasted almond butter
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • generous pinch unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup blanched almonds, toasted and chopped finely
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted (fair trade recommended)
  • 24 mini baking cups
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler or saucepan with heavy bottom, gently melt chocolate being careful not to burn or introduce any water into the chocolate. Stir with wooden spoon, heat-proof spatula, or whisk until almost melted, then turn off heat and let sit until completely melted.
  2. In pot or separate bowl, add almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Mix until smooth and transfer to a glass or metal bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and firm to the touch.
  3. Meanwhile, set out two bowls— one with almonds and one with cocoa.
  4. Using a melon baller or small rounded metal teaspoon, scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture. Working quickly (without rolling between warm hands), roll 2-3 chocolate balls at a time in either cocoa or almond mixture. You may want to coat half of the balls in each for variety. Once chocolate balls are coated, you can form into neater balls with clean, dry hands if needed.
  5. Place each truffle in a mini baking cup and place on a plate or platter, alternating almond-coated and cocoa-coated truffles around the platter.

 

Chocolate almond truffles recipe card
Print recipe card for your friends for the holidays!

Check out my upcoming Austin cooking classes here.

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Asian mushroom lettuce wraps are the perfect start to an Asian-themed meal or any gathering. I brought these to a potluck last week held in honor of a friend visiting from Asheville, NC. By the end of dinner, all that was left was one lonely lettuce leaf!

I wanted to make these lettuce wraps healthier than the restaurant variety, so added more vegetables, and left out the soy, sugar, and gluten! Instead of soy sauce or tamari I used Coco Aminos (I like the Big Tree Farms brand) which is naturally sweet and savory.

If you like your filling a little sweeter, you can always add a dash of maple syrup or agave, but you probably won’t need to.

 

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF)
 
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This recipes is a vegan, gluten-free version of Chicken Lettuce Wraps served at Asian restaurants.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian, Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil
  • ½ cup leek, spring onion, or sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 cups mushrooms (crimini, shiitake, and/or oyster), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • ½ cup water chestnuts or celery, finely chopped or sliced
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (Big Tree Farm brand recommended)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head green or red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, or Romaine lettuce
Instructions
  1. Heat large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Make sure all ingredients are prepped so they can be added to the pan quickly. Add sesame oil and swirl to coat pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and a pinch of salt. Sauté for about a minute. Reduce heat a bit to prevent burning.
  3. Add carrots, zucchini, and another pinch of salt and sauté a few minutes more.
  4. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through.
  5. Add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
  6. Season with brown rice vinegar, coconut aminos, and sea salt (to taste).
  7. Put mushroom filling into a serving bowl in the middle of a large plate or platter. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Place lettuce leaves around the bowl or on a separate plate. To serve, take a lettuce leaf, place a spoonful or two of mushroom filling onto the leaf, and eat like a taco.
Variations
  1. For a heartier appetizer or main dish, add ½ lb. cooked chicken thigh cut into bite-sized pieces. Adjust seasonings.

Chef Rachel Zierzow is available for group classes, private dinners, and corporate team building sessions. Contact her below to find out more.

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Over the years, this Italian Chickpea Soup has been a family favorite and has always gone over well with children visiting our home.The addition of pasta makes the soup heartier, like a minestrone, and can definitely be considered a one-pot meal.

I recently had the opportunity to teach a cooking class at my daughter’s elementary classroom where I decided to serve the soup with pasta and bread, which was a real hit! An added bonus is how economical this recipe is. We made this recipe X4, which fed about 35 people, using all organic ingredients, for under $2 per person including soup, pasta, bread, and butter.

Day 1 of our cooking class involved walking to the grocery store, selecting our groceries, and carrying our groceries back in a wagon! When we got back to the classroom, we soaked the chickpeas so they would be ready to cook the following day.

Day 2 of our cooking class involved cooking the chickpeas in the pressure cooker, and slicing, dicing, and sautéing vegetables for the soup.

The secret to making this soup delicious is to make your chickpeas from scratch. Make your chickpeas in advance, as it takes a good 8-10 hours to rehydrate the dried chickpeas (I usually do this step overnight), and some more time to cook them. I use a pressure-cooker to make my chickpeas, but they can be made in a regular pot (it just takes longer). I recommend making a big batch of chickpeas and freezing some away in quart-sized freezer bags that you can use later on to make hummus or another batch of soup. Here is my recipe for Homemade Chickpeas.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Italian Chickpea Soup with Pasta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 recipe Homemade Chickpeas or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into rounds or half moons
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into half or quarter moons
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 organic bay leaf
  • ½ cup fresh parsley or basil leaves, chopped, divided
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (such as farfalle, fusilli, twists, wheels, or shells)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Follow instructions for making Homemade Chickpeas. Set chickpeas aside. Do not drain, as the chickpea cooking liquid will be used in the soup. If using canned chickpeas you will need to drain the liquid from the can.
  2. In 3- to 5-quart soup pot, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt for about 10 minutes over medium or medium-low heat. Add rosemary and stir to coat onions. Add another tablespoon olive oil, celery, carrot, and another pinch sea salt and sauté about 10 minutes more. Adjust heat if necessary to prevent burning. Add zucchini and sauté a minute more.
  3. Place chickpeas and chickpea cooking liquid into soup pot and add stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover, and simmer until zucchini is soft, about 8 minutes. Add half of fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve pasta in soup bowls and pour chickpea soup over the pasta.
  5. Garnish each bowl with remaining fresh herbs and/or grated cheese (if using).
Notes:
  1. Make this recipe gluten-free by using a gluten-free variety of pasta.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, add 3 cloves minced garlic along with carrots and celery.

By noon our cooking crew was ready to serve their homemade soup, pasta, and bread to the class.

Enjoy making soup on a cold winter day and share with some friends!

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds

Guacamole is one of my favorite dips of all time. There are so many versions of guacamole out there, but regardless of your recipe, the most important thing is that you use perfectly ripe avocados (not too hard, not too soft, and not bruised) so that your dip is creamy, bright green, and fresh tasting. The way I ensure perfect avocados is to buy large avocados when they are mostly green at least a week in advance. Ripen at room temperature until black on the outside and then refrigerate (so they don’t become too ripe) until ready to use.

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds is my favorite way to serve guacamole during the holiday season, because pomegranates are abundant, the flavors go well together, and the colors are perfect for the holiday table. Take this dip to your next holiday gathering to go with tortilla chips, tamales, or vegetable crudité.

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 large avocados, ripe
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • ½ serrano pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut avocados in half, remove pits and any bruises, and scoop flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork until it is a chunky consitency (do not overblend).
  2. Gently mix in other ingredients.
  3. Adjust sea salt to taste.
  4. Put guacamole into serving bowl.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Note
  1. Umeboshi vinegar goes really well with avocado owing to its salty and sour tastes. However, if you don't have any, you can use more lime juice and sea salt in place of the umeboshi vinegar.

We’ll be making this at my upcoming Holiday Tamales Workshop in Austin this weekend. More photos to come!

Upcoming cooking classes with Chef Rachel Z in Austin, TX

7 Healthy Holiday Recipes from Chef Rachel Z

All recipes on chefrachelz.com

Please keep in touch!

photo of guacamole with pomegranate

7 Healthy Holiday Recipes (GF, dairy-free)

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

I wanted to share some of my favorite healthy holiday recipes with you. My definition of a great recipe is one that is simple (not too many ingredients), wholesome (fresh, whole foods), and hearty (nutrient dense, nourishing), and one that you feel good about feeding to your whole family.

In the fall, we are blessed with an abundance of wonderful ingredients– a true harvest time. Fresh rosemary and thyme, fragrant apples, juicy pomegranate seeds, sweet winter squashes, brussels sprouts, and dark leafy greens are just some of my fall favorites! With Halloween and the World Series behind us, it’s time to start planning some holiday get togethers and make some delicious, homemade food that nourishes the body and soul.

Here are 7 of my favorite holiday recipes that I gathered together for you to try. If something isn’t available in your part of the world, feel free to substitute another ingredient. Please share your cooking adventures in the comments section of each recipe or at the end of this post. I look forward to hearing from you!

Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing is amazing to bring to a potluck or include in a festive holiday menu:

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Creamy Corn Soup with Dulse is comforting, soothing, and super sweet. Pan-fried dulse is crispy and savory garnish to compliment the sweet soup. This soup satisfies the sweet tooth without eating any refined sugar!

photo of creamy corn soup

Wild-Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary is a great alternative to turkey, or can be prepared the day after Thanksgiving to go with all of the leftover side dishes!

photo of wild caught maple roasted salmon, green beans, and rice

Maple-Roasted Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a hit with adults and children alike!

Photo of Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Creamy Polenta with Sweet Corn is a great gluten-free side dish instead of stuffing! Leftovers can be heated up for breakfast (like old-fashioned grits) after your holiday meal.

photo of creamy corn polenta

This zesty Cranberry Sauce wth Orange and Ginger is so much better than canned varieties and you can use leftover sauce for a cranberry-apple pie or to add to turkey sandwiches!

photo of cranberry sauce with orange slice

For a sweet treat that is easy to make ahead, try these dairy-free Chocolate-Coco Truffles:

photo of chocolate coco truffles

Enjoy these recipes and others found in the recipes section of my blog. You can type in a search word (like salad, soup, or avocado) and recipes on my site containing those keywords will come up.

Interested in learning how to cook and meeting others that love healthy food? I teach group classes in Austin, Texas (see schedule) as well as private classes, workshops, and dinner parties (contact me below for more information). If you have a group of friends that you’d like to host at your home for a cooking class or dinner party, I’d love to help you with that.

images for healthy holiday recipes

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Questions?

Call or email me to schedule a consultation or talk about one of my services. I love meeting with people, and I’m always happy to chat!

(512) 217-1259

rachel@cookloveheal.com

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Join the Cook Love Heal Community, and I’ll send you my Natural Health Starter Kit for free and you’ll find out about the online course as soon as it is available. I’ll also keep you updated with amazing recipes, yoga ideas and tips for how to live a balanced life. Look forward to meeting you!

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