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One of the first outings I went on with my husband was to P.F. Chang’s.  We had been at a coffee shop all afternoon.  He finally convinced me that I needed a study break, we got in his little red rally car, and headed across midtown in the snow.  He had Orange Peel Chicken, one of his favourites.

Several months later, when we were dating, I decided to try to copy their recipe and make Orange Peel Chicken at home.  It was good, and I modified the recipe several times.  I also gave myself several second-degree burns (let’s just say there are two reasons I don’t fry food).  I had taken what was a pretty good copy of P.F. Chang’s recipe and turned it into something that suited both of our tastes a little bit better.  Then we became vegetarians.

I modified the recipe a little bit more today to make it gluten-free and sugar-free.  Now I can’t imagine why it needed either to begin with.

Orange Peel Vegetable Stir-Fry
    Sauce:
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 onion, sliced
    2 green onions, sliced
    1 cup tomato sauce
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
    juice of one orange (about 1/4 cup)
    1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
    1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
    1 tablespoon corn starch

    Stir Fry:
    1 bell pepper, chopped
    1 carrot, julienned
    1 head broccoli, cut
    1/2 cup edamame
    1/2 cup mushroom, sliced
    peel from 1/4 orange, julienned

Prepare sauce by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions.  Quickly add the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water (before garlic browns).  Add orange juice, chili flakes, and soy sauce.  Combine corn starch with 1 tablespoon of water.  Slowly stir in to sauce.  Bring sauce to a boil and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Turn off heat.

In a wok heat 1 tablespoon oil.  Add mushrooms.  Cook until lightly browned on one side.  Add bell peppers and cook lightly.  Add carrots, broccoli, and edamame.  When everything is cooked through, add orange peel.  Cook for 20-30 seconds.  Add sauce to the pan and stir until heated and combined.

Serve over brown rice.

*I only put mushrooms on my husbands serving.  This dish would also be good with tofu, but my family does not like it.  Feel free to use whatever vegetables your family likes.  This is what I had on hand today.

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Nearly two years ago our little family became vegetarian.  In the beginning it was rather challenging.  I could cook without meat, that wasn’t a problem.  It just seemed that we had the same four or five meals all the time.  Slowly I became more comfortable and confident cooking a wider variety of foods.  We added new grains to our diet, like quinoa and barley.  I learned to cook new vegetables.  It has been a great adventure.

Since my first pregnancy I have had some recurring health problems.  I’ve tried to control it with medication, but that has only helped a little.  After much research, I decided that I need to switch to a gluten-free, sugar-free diet.  I also have to avoid mushrooms and yeasts.

I don’t think the switch to gluten-free will be that difficult.  A part of me is actually looking forward to figuring out how to bake with 20 different flours at once.  Not having any sugar (including honey or agave) is going to be hard.  It looks like my only option as far as sweeteners go is stevia.  I haven’t tried any yet.  I think my real challenge is going to be giving up yummy, yeasty breads.

Right now, the rest of the family isn’t planning on joining me with all of this dietary change.  Hopefully this will all be worth it and I’ll consistently feel better.

My older daughter just turned two-years-old. Two of her favourite things are expressing herself artisticly and peanut butter.

We have tried homemade salt playdough on several occasions. Most times she plays for a few moments and then starts eating it. I don’t know how she can stand it. It doesn’t taste good. Today we made all-natural peanut butter playdough.

Using natural peanut butter (with nothing but peanuts) requires the addition of more honey than usual. This type of peanut butter also requires refrigeration, and thus it works best to chill the dough for a little while before letting your little one play with the dough.

Peanut Butter Playdough
   1 cup all-natural peanut butter
   4 tablespoons honey
   1/2 cup evaporated non-fat milk
   (more or less depending on peanut butter used)
Combine peanut butter and honey. Mix until consistency is smooth and creamy. Add dry milk slowly and mix with your hands until dough reaches desired consistency. Chill 5 minutes. Store extra playdough in the refrigerator.

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