Mediterranean Ratatouille

Mediterranean Ratatouille - Under the Monkey Bars

Ratatouille is a French dish loaded with succulent Mediterranean vegetables. Think juicy tomatoes fresh off the garden vine, giant zucchini ready to split, and of course shiny purple eggplant.

This is an easy weeknight meal that makes a giant pot full of yum. I can practically promise you leftovers. Serve Mediterranean Ratatouille in a bowl on its own, with crusty bread, over risotto or even lentils. Maybe add a side of grilled chicken or make it a Meatless Monday! Ratatouille is super heart healthy, high in fiber, and low on the glycemic index. How could it not be with all of those veggies!

Speaking of veggies, do you have a CSA? We have been getting lots of eggplant with our weekly Boston Organics deliveries and I’m so glad I remembered this recipe. Save it for when you have more eggplant and zucchini than you know what to do with!

Ratatouille is a fantastic recipe for anyone with food allergies or sensitivities because it’s naturally gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, soy free, and nut free. That’s a long list!! Keep this Ratatouille recipe in mind for your summer cook outs too. Or pair it with the Disney movie movie and maybe the monkeys will be more apt to eat it!

Bean will devour two bowls of Ratatouille whereas Sweet Pea asks for a small bowl without eggplant. I make a few dishes with eggplant and occasionally she will eat one or two pieces but she’s not a huge fan of the texture. I’ve always been flexible with the foods that the monkeys don’t like. However, I continue to serve them and never leave them out of a meal. I firmly believe that you have to try a food at least 10 times before you can say you don’t like it. And that’s not just for kids! Grown-ups too. Our palates change over time and you never know – you might surprise yourself!

Cómelo todo!

Mediterranean Ratatouille
Serves 6
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 2 large onions, finely chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic
  4. 1 large eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
  5. 3-4 medium peppers, cut into 1" chunks
  6. 4-6 small zucchini, cut into 1/4' slices
  7. 5-6 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped, or 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon coconut or date sugar
  10. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Warm the oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  2. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Add the eggplant and peppers and cook for 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the zucchini, tomatoes (with juice), salt, sugar, and oregano.
  5. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Adjust the seasonings and serve hot or cold.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
  2. - Cooks beautifully in my dutch oven.
Adapted from Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2005
Adapted from Eat Up Slim Down Annual Recipes 2005
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
Note: If you’re in the Boston area, definitely look into Boston Organics. We’ve been a customer since last year and have been impressed with the convenience and quality. I absolutely love choosing what we don’t want to receive for produce week to week; the “No List” is the best. Use this code for 10% off your first delivery: 8319bob6jc.

Banana Carrot Bread

Banana Carrot Bread Recipe from Under the Monkey Bars Blog. Gluten Free, vegetarian and paleo friendly.

I’m a big fan of baked goods. There’s just something about sitting at a coffee shop with a cup of tea and a slice of yummy banana bread. Few shops can accommodate our dietary restrictions, so I try to re-create that experience for us at home. Every week, I bake muffins, breads, bars, and/or cookies for the monkeys so that they don’t feel deprived. It’s tough enough on a grown-up to not be able to eat certain things. I can’t imagine how hard it is on the girls.

Banana Carrot Muffins recipe from Under the Monkey Bars blog. Gluten free, vegetarian and paleo friendly.

This moist Banana Carrot Bread is my own recipe that I’ve tweaked over the years. You can use it to make muffins too! It’s gluten free without weird flours like tapioca starch or xanthum gum. I use a combination of almond flour, coconut flour, and protein powder to make a bread that’s higher in fiber and protein than your typical loaf of banana bread. It will leave you feeling full and satisfied longer too.

I started making this recipe with just bananas and it was a little dry. A pastry chef once told me that gluten free baking tastes better with a little yogurt or sour cream. What a great tip! The 1/4 cup of yogurt in this recipe doesn’t bother me and it makes the batter less dense (try using an alternative if you’re allergic). Carrots also add moisture so one day I threw in some carrot pulp from my juicer and the monkeys couldn’t get enough of it. Banana Carrot Bread was born. The apple pie spice really brings all of the flavors together. You’re going to love it!

Banana Carrot Bread
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Cook Time
35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour
  2. 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  3. 1 tablespoon flax or protein powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 2 teaspoons apple pie seasoning
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 1 cup of carrot pulp from juicer (or grated carrots)
  10. 1 ripe mashed banana (about 1/2 cup)
  11. 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  12. 1 tablespoon raw honey
  13. 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  14. 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  15. Optional: 1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips or raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan if it’s not already liquid.
  3. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper.
  4. Whisk all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  5. In a separate larger bowl whisk the eggs, carrot pulp, mashed banana, yogurt, honey, syrup and melted coconut oil. Don't worry about it being lumpy; lumpy is good.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet, combining well with a wooden spoon.
  7. Scoop batter into loaf pan. Press mini chips on top, if using.
  8. Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Notes
  1. - Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
  2. - To make muffins, bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. - We’re in love with the flavor of apple pie seasoning. If you don't have it on hand, use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
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German Pancake Two Ways

SliceGermanPancakeGermanPancakeSkillet

I’ve been dying to tell you about our new favorite weekday breakfast, but I had to perfect the recipe first! Everyone loves pancakes, but it takes time to flip all of those little silver dollars. What if I told you that you could make a pancake in the oven? Introducing the German Pancake — two different ways!

When we stayed at Stowe Meadows last month, Erich made us the most delicious German Pancake for breakfast. I had never heard of it before! After the trip, I found a recipe from Real Simple and have been tweaking it ever since. I’ve made German Pancakes for breakfast every week, and the monkeys have been cheering! I’m not a fan of using a gluten free flour mix. There’s always weird ingredients that I would never normally eat, so why would I eat them now? I prefer to keep things simple and natural. I like to know exactly what’s in my food.

I’m excited to share two variations of this German Pancake with you. If you don’t have food sensitivities or allergies, you can follow the original recipe or try mine with your choice of flour. My recipe below is gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, soy free, and really good! And how easy is an oven pancake for Mother’s Day brunch? It’s coming up, people. Let’s get our recipes in order.

If you’re gluten free and/or nut free, use 1/4 cup of oat flour and 1/4 cup of rice flour with your milk of choice. For a paleo German Pancake, use 1/4 cup of coconut flour and 1/4 cup of almond flour.

For mix-ins, we love both cinnamon apples and blueberries in our German Pancake. Get the apples going before you start mixing together the batter. I slice up a whole apple and throw it in a pan with a generous pad of butter and some cinnamon or apple pie spice. If you choose to use frozen blueberries, leave them in the freezer until you add them or the batter will turn blue — unless of course you’re going for a Cookie Monster Pancake!

We love bacon with pancakes. I’ve timed it perfectly with this recipe for a fast, filling weekday breakfast. Bake some Applegate turkey bacon in the oven at 375 for 8 minutes while you’re making the batter. Then increase the oven temperature to 400, flip the bacon to cook for another 5 minutes, and at the same time put the skillet in the oven to melt your butter. When you take the bacon out, the German Pancake goes in the oven and you’re at the table in 18 minutes. Voila!

German Pancake
Serves 4
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Cook Time
18 min
Cook Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1/4 cup oat + 1/4 rice flours OR 1/4 cup coconut + 1/4 cup almond flours
  3. 1/2  cup almond milk OR milk of choice
  4. 2 teaspoons of coconut OR date sugar
  5. 1/4   teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR almond extract
  7. 2  tablespoons butter
  8. pure maple syrup for serving
Mix-ins
  1. thinly sliced apples sautéed with butter and cinnamon
  2. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla and mix until incorporated; set aside.
  4. Put the butter in a cast-iron skillet. Transfer to oven until the butter melts.
  5. Add your mix-in of choice to the batter.
  6. Remove skillet from oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot skillet.
  7. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 18 minutes for a 8-inch skillet, or 15 minutes for a larger skillet.
Notes
  1. - The almond extract really compliments the almond flour when baked with blueberries.
  2. - If you choose to mix-in apples, add some cinnamon on top.
  3. - We prefer coconut sugar with the coconut/almond flour combo and date sugar with the oat/rice flour blend.
  4. - After you pour the batter into the skillet, swirl the top of the pancake with a knife to combine the butter that reaches the surface.
Adapted from Real Simple
Adapted from Real Simple
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
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Black Bean Chia Brownies

 BlackBeanBrownies

You read it right. Yes, I put black beans in our brownies. Crazier things have happened in my kitchen!

When Bean was a toddler (what seems like ages ago), I used to bake with Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook to sneak veggies onto her picky plate. I still think it’s a great idea even without toddlers in the house. Never miss a chance to eat more nutrients and whole foods!

Black Bean Chia Brownies have a fudge consistency, but unlike regular brownies, they are high in protein, folate, iron, and fiber. You can’t taste the black beans at all! These brownies are gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and paleo friendly with no refined sugar. You don’t need a high speed blender for this recipe. I made these brownies before I got my Vitamix and they came out just as tasty.

BlenderBrownies

If you’ve never had cacao nibs before, I’d recommend adding them to half of the brownies to start. Peeled and crumbled from whole cacao beans, nibs have a pure (not sweet!) chocolate flavor and are crunchy (read: hard), which is why I recommend pressing them into the brownies. Cacao nibs are a rich source of antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and fiber. If you like them, go for the 1/4 cup.

I found this recipe in my grocery store’s monthly magazine (Nature’s Market Basket), and this isn’t the first! So many great health tips and recipes in that little freebie. Definitely ask if your grocery store has a magazine or health flyer.  They seem to be popping up more and more.

 

Black Bean Chia Brownies
Serves 9
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  4. 1/3 cup coconut oil at room temperature
  5. 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  6. 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a food processor or high speed blender, combine black beans, eggs, coconut sugar, coconut oil, cacao powder, chia seeds, and vanilla. Process until smooth.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Level with a spatula. Sprinkle with cacao nibs (or other topping) and press lightly into mixture.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Lift brownie out of pan using parchment paper and let cool on baking rack.
  7. Cut and serve!
Adapted from Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting by Joy McCarthy
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
Notes:
– Buy organic ingredients whenever possible.
– Use raw cacao powder instead of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Raw cacao is a good source of fiber and contains minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium.
– We like Enjoy Life Mini Chips because they are free of the eight most common allergens.
– I buy these black beans. The cans are BPA free and the beans are organic: win-win.
Coconut sugar is unrefined with naturally occurring nutrients like magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and amino acids. Try it 1:1 as a replacement for white sugar.
– I use parchment paper a lot for our gluten free baking. It makes for a much easier clean up too!

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Simple Coconut Chocolate Bars

CoconutChocBar

Sweet Pea had a coconut allergy for two years that she outgrew last June.  Practically every company has jumped on the healthy coconut bandwagon, without being required to label for coconut as an allergen.  It was the worst of all of the allergies so far, sending us to the ER twice.  We were so happy to say goodbye to yet another allergy, and hello to coconuts again!

Do you like coconut?  These bars from The Paleo Mom are awesome!  Mini chips are key in this recipe as they disperse themselves throughout the bars, keeping them moist and delicious.  We like Enjoy Life Mini Chips because they are free of the eight most common allergens (note: the bar in the photo has chocolate chunks because I’m out of mini chips!).  Let’s Do Organic shredded, unsweetened coconut works great in this recipe without adding any sugar — and it’s organic.

With only four ingredients, you can throw these bars together super fast.  We usually make Coconut Chocolate Bars twice a month.  When you cut them into long bars, you can eat them instead of grabbing a granola bar.  They make a perfect snack at school and hold up well in a coat pocket for ski days. 

Simple Coconut Chocolate Bars
Yields 8
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Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  2. 2 pastured eggs
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk egg and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl.  Add coconut and chocolate chips. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Line a 8X8 square baking pan with parchment paper.
  4. Scoop mixture into prepared pan. Flatten out and pat down with the back of a wooden spoon or pasty roller.
  5. Bake for 22 minutes until edges turn golden brown.  Let cool.
  6. Cut into bars and enjoy!
Adapted from The Paleo Mom
Adapted from The Paleo Mom
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
 Cómelo todo!