Gnocchi with Zucchini, Corn & Basil

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Summer in Boston doesn’t always arrive in June like it should. With a sunny, 75-degree weekend, though, we’re almost there! This dish has warm-weather flavors in every bite with lots of sweet corn (frozen from last summer) and fresh basil. I added chicken sausage to make the meal more filling, but you could leave it out to make the dish vegetarian.

When I started eating for acid reflux, the new pasta prep methods were so tough to get used to. Pasta needs to be dressed lightly, as too much oil leads to heartburn; tomatoes, onions, and garlic are all forbidden. When I saw this recipe on the Iowa Girl Eats blog, I knew it was perfect for The Low-Acid Kitchen. I used gnocchi because their texture lends them to being enjoyed plain rather than smothered in sauce.

If you’re looking to impress a dining companion, I recommend using regular gnocchi in this dish; the color contrast with the sausage would look nicer. In these photos I used whole-wheat gnocchi to get the extra fiber. You will enjoy the meal either way!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 16 oz whole-wheat gnocchi
  • 2 links sweet Italian chicken sausage (optional)
  • 2 tsp lemon olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sweet corn, frozen
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped and divided
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add gnocchi then spread in one layer and saute undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Toss them and continue sauteing at medium heat for 3-4 more minutes. Remove from the skillet and set gnocchi aside.
  2. Meanwhile, if you’re using the sausage, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Chop the sausage and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the lemon oil to the gnocchi skillet at medium-low heat, and then add the zucchini, corn, onion powder, thyme, and coriander. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt to taste, add half of the basil, and saute for 30 more seconds.
  4. Turn off the burner. Add the broth and parmesan cheese to the corn mixture and stir to combine. Add the gnocchi and sausage and stir, adding more cheese to taste. Serve topped with the remaining basil. IMG_5498
  5. To reheat leftovers, add a spoonful of broth (or water) to each portion and heat in the microwave. Top with parmesan cheese and more fresh basil, if you have it.
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Serves 4. Active and total time 20 minutes. Adapted from http://iowagirleats.com/2013/02/14/crispy-gnocchi-with-zucchini-sweet-corn-and-basil/

 

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Zucchini-Almond Snack Bites

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I found this recipe while on the hunt for a no-bake way to use up some old zucchini. The combination of zucchini and cinnamon sounds weird, and I had reservations about these balls when I started to put them together. But they are pleasant and are such an easy office snack.

I also was hesitant to feature these on the blog because a heartburn-friendly diet is supposed to be low in fat. A good portion of this recipe is almond butter, so it’s not low in fat by any standards. For me, reducing acid in the diet is much more effective at stopping GERD than is avoiding fat—but see what works for you. I can eat one of two of these (with a banana to round out the snack) without seeing side effects.

These bites are eaten cold and stay very moist. The texture is a cross between muffins and ice cream. The down side to this recipe is that it uses a good amount of almond butter, which is expensive—but the cost is worth it if it stops me from eating processed food from the vending machine.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups oats (gluten free if desired)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • cooking spray
  • scant 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp honey or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini, packed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix the oats, almonds, and sesame seeds in a bowl.
  2. Spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with cooking spray, and use it to measure the almond butter. Stir the almond butter, honey, and cinnamon into the oat mixture until well combined. IMG_5370
  3. Hold the grated zucchini over a small plate and squeeze out the excess liquid. Discard the liquid and use a paper towel to blot the zucchini dry. Add it to the oat mixture and stir well. IMG_5372
  4. Mound the mixture into the middle of the bowl, and use a spatula to make a cross on it, separating it into quadrants. Use your fingers to roll each quadrant of the mixture into 5 balls.
  5. Place the balls on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 week.

Makes 20. Adapted from http://www.cookincanuck.com/2013/08/no-bake-zucchini-bread-granola-bites-recipe-gluten-free-vegan/

Baked Falafel

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Falafel is my favorite street food. I love the combination of textures, the starring role of vegetables, and the tart Middle Eastern flavors. Since “no deep frying” is one of the cardinal rules of the reflux diet, I’ve been sorely missing this treat. I also hate being made aware that my “healthy” falafels have been deep fried all along 🙂

The vegetarian blog Eats Well With Others shared a baked falafel recipe that I knew I would love. I tweaked it for heartburn suffers by removing the lemon; reducing the almonds, tahini, and oil to lower the fat content; and adding more spices to make up for the lack of garlic. I also substituted zucchini for raw onion to keep the patties moist.

After spending 30 minutes in the oven, these falafel patties are a crispy delight. At first I followed the inspiration recipe’s suggestion of serving them as a lettuce wrap, using Swiss chard leaves instead of pita. But it was even better the next day, when I chopped and sauteed the leftover chard with olive oil and served it topped with falafel and the tahini sauce. I’ll add a photo when I make it again!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 sprigs cilantro
  • 7 sprigs parsley
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp oat or whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup zucchini chunks
  • 10 grinds sea salt
  • 6 large Swiss chard leaves
  • 2 carrots, grated
FOR THE SAUCE:
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 5 grinds sea salt
  • 2 tbsp water, divided

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pulse cilantro and parsley (both leaves and stems) in a food processor. Add almonds and pulse until chopped into small pieces.
  3. Add chickpeas, oil, cumin, coriander, onion powder, flour, baking soda, zucchini, and salt to taste, and blend until a slightly chunky puree is formed.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use your hands to form 9 falafel patties from the mixture. Space out evenly on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Then flip the falafels and bake for 15 more minutes.
  6. Grate the carrot and the wash the chard leaves. Remove the thick ends of the stems, and save them for another meal.
  7. To make the sauce, combine vinegar, tahini, honey, oregano, salt, and 1 tbsp water in a bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, and then stir until smooth, adding up to 1 tbsp more water until desired consistency is reached. (The sauce will be separated when you begin to stir; take heart, it will come together!) IMG_4480
  8. Place 1 or 2 falafels, a handful of carrot, and a drizzle of sauce on each chard leaf. Wrap and enjoy!
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Veggie-Quinoa Muffins

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Since starting this diet, I’ve been at a loss for office snacks. I like to munch on something every hour or two, but my usual choices (apples & cheese, fruity yogurt, my beloved Famous Amos cookies) are too high in acid or fat. To keep myself from overdosing on pretzels and crackers, I had to make something at home.

These muffins are an oatmeal/salad mash-up. If that doesn’t sound appealing, bear with me. The texture is moist and dense, and the flavors are versatile enough for a savory breakfast or a snack. These give me the satisfaction of a carby snack and allow me to sneak in vegetables on the go.

The small amounts of onion powder and parmesan cheese in this recipe shouldn’t cause heartburn. But if you’re on a very strict diet, you can omit the onion powder and swap out the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast flakes. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $15 for a jar of yeast, but I’ve heard it’s a cheese-like dream for vegans.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spinach or spinach/arugula blend
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups oat flour (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • scant 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup plain soy milk
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add quinoa and broth to a small nonstick pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove the pot from heat to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shred and chop the veggies and herbs.
  3. Put the oat flour in a large bowl with baking powder, and stir with a fork to incorporate. Add the cooled quinoa and mix.
  4. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a 1/4 cup measuring tool, and fill the rest of the 1/4 cup with applesauce. Add to a small bowl with egg white and soy milk. Stir with a fork and then pour the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients. Then add the veggies, herbs, cheese, and spices. Mix just until you have a uniform, thick batter.IMG_4398
  5. Use a 1/4 cup measuring tool to transfer batter into a standard muffin pan with paper liners. Each muffin cup will be very full. Wet your fingers and push the batter into the corners of the cups, if necessary. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Refrigerate or freeze uneaten muffins, and reheat in the oven or microwave if desired.

Makes 12. Adapted from http://thefitchen.com/2013/06/23/savory-quinoa-cakes-gluten-free-vegan-dairy-free/#more-2262

Best Zucchini-Banana Muffins

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These muffins are one of the most popular baked goods I’ve made. Everyone loves the sweet banana flavor, and no one can tell that they’re made with whole grains and produce, and without oil or butter!

Besides leaving out the oil, I reduced the amounts of cinnamon and cloves. I added ground ginger to make up for it, and it’s a great combination. These are THE best muffins. Start saving your bananas so you can make them ASAP!

The crumbly walnut-brown sugar topping makes these muffins feel special. They hit the spot for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. They also freeze really well.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat white flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (2 medium bananas)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded
FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 3 tbsp walnuts
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add all of the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until just combined.
  4. For the topping, put 3 tbsp walnuts and 2 tbsp brown sugar in a food processor and pulse until crumbly.
  5. Add 12 standard liners to a muffin pan and fill each with about 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle topping over muffins and press lightly into the batter with your fingers.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool before removing from pan.
Makes 12. Active time 15 minutes; total time 35 to 40 minutes. Adapted from http://littlemisskimberlyann.blogspot.com/2013/05/healthier-zucchini-banana-muffins.html