Taco Bell’s Chicken Cantina Bowl – **UPDATE – MAY CONTAIN GLUTEN**

Chef Lorena Garcia helped to create some healthier options at Taco Bell.  The Cantina bowl is one of those items and it happens to be listed as gluten-free.  The bowl contains citrus marinated grilled chicken, black beans, guacamole, cilantro rice, pico de gallo and a cilantro dressing.  This bowl was flavorful and really hit the spot.  You can also get this bowl served with steak or vegetarian style.  The chicken version has 560 calories, but this item does contain a lot of sodium so if you are watching your sodium intake you may want to skip this menu item.

Glad to see some fast food options that are trying to be on the healthier side!

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Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

 

I watch the Food Network show Cupcake Wars every week and I’ve always wanted to tackle making one of those filled cupcakes with a super yummy light buttercream on top and this past weekend I did just that.  The result was a delicious chocolate cake stuffed with a strawberry compote and frosted with a strawberry buttercream.  It was heaven on a plate and it was all gluten-free

Cupcake Ingredients:

1 c Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flour

1 c granulated sugar

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa

1/2 tsp fine powdered instant espresso

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

pinch of fine sea salt or kosher salt

1 stick of unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp creme de cacao

1/2 c hot water

Preheat oven to 325F and line 12 cupcake tins with liners or spray cupcake pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment mix flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso, salt, xanthan gum and baking soda.  Add eggs, vanilla and creme de cacao to the melted butter and whisk with a fork.  Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix for one minute.  Scrape down sides and pour in half of the hot water.  Mix for one minute and then pour in remaining water and mix again for one minute.  Fill cupcake tins about 2/3 full and then bake for 12 minutes.  Rotate pan and then bake for 8-10 minutes more (toothpick should come out clean).  Cool completely.

Strawberry Compote Ingredients:

1 c fresh strawberries, diced

4 T granulated sugar

1 T lemon juice

2 tsp cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in pan on the stove over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and then boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and let cool and then refrigerate.

Strawberry Buttercream Ingredients:

1 1/2 c fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and coarsley chopped

4 large egg whites

1 1/4 c granulated sugar

3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temp

Puree strawberries in a food processor until completely smooth.  Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and set it over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, whisking constantly until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is no longer grainy.  Attach the bowl to your stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes).  Reduce the mixer to medium-low and add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time.  The frosting will look curdled, but just keep beating and it will come together.  Scrape down sides and add strawberry puree.  Beat until combined.  Again, it may look curdled, but just keep beating.

Core out middle of cupcakes and fill with strawberry compote and then frost with strawberry buttercream.

Watermelon Mint Salad

The kids are all back in school, summer vacations are all over and everyone is getting back to the “real world”.  As we say goodbye to our summer I will leave you with this simple salad that is refreshing and will take you back to 4th of July if you want to go there.

Ingredients:

1/2  seedless watermelon, chopped into bite size chunks

1/4 c chopped fresh mint

1 c sliced fresh strawberries

1 tsp granulated sugar

pinch of coarse salt

Toss watermelon, mint and strawberries together in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar and a pinch of salt.  For some more pizzaz you can add some chopped vidalia or red onion and a splash of balsamic vinegar if you wish

Addicted to Granola

This past weekend I was staying with some friends at a cabin in the mountains and one of the ladies in the group brought some french vanilla yogurt and this gluten-free granola to try out for breakfast.  It was quite yummy!  I had heard of Trader Joes, but I had never frequented their store before.  Today at lunch I got a craving for that yummy yogurt, granola combo again so I found a nearby Trader Joes store and paid them a visit.

This store is loaded with yummy organic and gluten-free goodies.  I grabbed the items I came in for and left with a few more that I didn’t plan on purchasing, but everything looked so good.

This granola is sweet, nutty and packed with fiber.  I highly recommend this gluten-free goodie!