Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (Low Carb)

Another crazy recipe idea that I had recently was for gluten free, low carb cookie dough that I can enjoy while slimming down.  This is nutritious and very rich.

This is admittedly not a photo of mine, but this is the closest image on the web to what mine look like.  I actually like the way mine look better than this though.  :)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites 

(Low Carb and NO Bake!)

6 Brazil Nuts (ground)
1/8th cup Roasted Almonds (unsalted)
4 Walnut Halves (ground)
1 Tbsp Coconut Flour
2 tsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
15g (or 32 chips) Semi Sweet Choc. Chips
1/8 c. hot water
Stevia to sweeten (everyone's Stevia measures differently so just make it to your taste).
pinch of sea salt
(I added a pinch of espresso powder too)

Grind nuts and flax seed till smooth.  Add Coconut flour, butter, vanilla extract, stevia, and salt then stir.  Add whipping cream and hot water and stir till stiff dough forms.  Add chocolate chips.  Form into balls and store in the fridge until you want to eat them.  No need to bake these.  They're perfect raw and have such a rich deep flavor to them.  I honestly have no idea what would happen if you DID try to bake these...  Probably would crumble apart from the lack of sugar (glue).  3 servings.

The breakdown per serving:
183 calories, 8 carbs, 3 fiber, 3 protein, 14 fat, 4 sugar
(Most of this fat is from nuts and flax seeds).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

GF Chocolate Power-Punch Cake (Low Carb)

When I want something, I want it now and am willing to substitute crazy things if necessary.

This cake is one I literally threw into a bowl on a whim.  It consists of nut flours you will grind yourself and also contains eggs and dairy. Unless you have something against any of those, this cake is very nutritious, full of fiber and protein. If you don't have all the ingredients, substitute the equivalent.

Perfect to take the place of lunch, it's high in protein and fiber while low on net carbs.


6 Brazil Nuts (finely ground)
1/8 cup walnuts (finely ground)
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp Flax Seeds  (ground)
1/4 tsp of Baking Powder
Stevia to sweeten to your taste
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
1 (round) Tbsp Ricotta Cheese
1/4 c. Coffee (brewed)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. Chocolate chips, if desired
1 tsp. Butter

Grind nuts as finely as you possibly can in whatever you have that can grind.  Food processor, coffee grinder, blender, etc...  Add all ingredients in large mug.  Stir well.  Add a bit of water, if it looks too dry and thick--it shouldn't be soupy.

Microwave in one minute intervals until completely cooked through (mines takes 3).  If necessary, turn it out onto a plate, once the sides have finished cooking and cook for another minute.  Now you have a nut cake that goes nicely with coffee. (Two servings).

Without chocolate chips, this comes to:  9 carbs, 4g fiber, 9g protein, 23 fat, 255 calories per serving. (Net carbs 5).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Michele's Home-made LOW CARB Gluten Free Pizza Crust

WARNING: This recipe is a product of last minute desperation crying out for pizza.  It is not intended for the OCD gourmet chef who needs everything to be exact and precise.  Merely think of this as a guide for the creative chef who loves adventure...  This comes out to 7 Net Carbs and 100 calories 6g of protein per 2 slices--crust alone!

I wanted pizza.  I grabbed a jar of amaranth seeds, poured 1/4 c. of them into my (clean) coffee grinder and whirred them around with some chia seeds.  Then I added a tablespoon of flax seed mill and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  I sprinkled in a pinch of garlic powder and added water until it became a stiff dough.  I coated my pizza stone with olive oil and spread, patted and mashed the 'dough' out into a very very thin 9"-10" circle on the stone.

After that, I baked it for a few minutes at 400F degrees until it began to sizzle. It seemed to look lightly cooked and so I pulled it out and added my toppings.  My choices were sauce, 6 cheese Italian blend, broccoli and mushrooms.  I baked until toppings were hot and melted and the crust was very crisp.

I removed it to a baking rack as carefully as I could by slicing it into pieces first.  This was a great quick, low carb pizza!  It turned out to be everything I could have wanted.

So, to recap:

1/4 c. of amaranth seeds ground finely into flour
 (or probably any kind of flour--maybe a pinch more because it fluffs up as it grinds)
1 tsp. of chia seeds grinded (this adds proteins, healthy fats and fiber)
1 tbsp. of flax meal  (I grind my own and keep it in the freezer)
1/2 c. shredded blend of cheese (I used a Mexican blend because it's what I had)
Garlic Powder (optional)
a bit of water to form dough--maybe an 1/8 - 1/4 cup?  Sorry, not sure.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400F

Remove.  Top with toppings, turn heat down to 350F and bake till desired 'doneness'.
4 servings.

I topped mine with broccoli and mushrooms.  This photo was taken the next day, cold.  Sorry...
This is the carb and calorie breakdown without toppings.  7 net carbs.  100ish calories, according to

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is It Shameful for a Married Woman to Try to Stay Slim?

I've heard other women in my region of the country complain about married ladies who diet and try to exercise.  Like it's sinful to want to be thin and trim and those women who do are just trying to catch a man's eye.  I hate that false stereotype, so here are my REAL reasons for watching what I eat:


1.  I love buying new clothes, but I HATE BEING FORCED TO BUY NEW CLOTHES because I outgrew all of my old ones and can't squeeze into them anymore!  :P

2.  I truly have a hard time feeling confident and outgoing when I secretly hate the way I look.  I know I'm extremely aware of myself when I'm carrying around an extra 20-40 lbs, when I am (and believe me, it's easy to get there!)   Maybe I'm shallow, but I know what it takes for me to feel free to be myself and convey that sense of security to others.  No one wants to hang out with someone who's so insecure they can't make eye contact.

3.  I hurt, I ache and I have low-no energy when I'm pulling around the extra 20-40 lbs.  And I KNOW it's because my body is not healthy.  My arteries are probably clogged, my cholesterol is soaring and I can't breathe or catch a breath after going up a flight of stairs.  Who wants that?!?

4.  My kids need a mom with energy!  They deserve a mom with stamina.  Being a mom who constantly has to lay around on the couch is a drag.  That's how I feel when I'm on my way up instead of on my way down the scale!

5.  I want my husband to say, "Wow! That's my wife!"  And I don't want to be distracted by how awful I look when we're being intimate.  He admittedly doesn't notice, but I DO and that ruins things for him.

6.   I love karate!  I'm currently a purple belt!  If I gain too much wait, I know I'll be tempted to quit.  It's already hard enough for a mom of three to find time for karate as it is without throwing another excuse into the mix.  My oldest son also enjoys taking lessons with me.

7.  I don't believe God would want me to completely destroy my body with a gluttonous, lazy lifestyle.  Like when I give my kids a present.  They have this brand-new toy that I've just gifted to them.  Then they toss it across the room, trample on it or leave it out in the yard to be destroyed.  It seems so ungrateful.  I want them to appreciate what they've been given; take care of it; enjoy using it for as long as possible.  Why wouldn't God want the same thing from us?  Appreciation for the body, the home, the animals and the earth that He's given us. He also wouldn't want me to be obsessed with my body (the earth or animals), so I try to keep balance.

I'll add more as I think of them.
But I'd also like to add that I just came through a time when I divulged on treats labeled as 'diet foods' or low carb alternatives (dozens of Atkins Bars, Sugar Free Chocolates and diet soda--< insert scream!!!!!>), which contained some really unhealthy chemicals and products.  That's no way to diet.  I've stopped eating those things and gotten back on track.  That was the wrong way to do it.  I'm going to eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can, each day and drink plenty of water as the main portion of my diet now.  Other things will of course be added in each day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Perfect Low-Cost GF Flour Substitute

This flour substitute recipe was passed on to me from a friend.  That's the perfect way to find a new recipe--your friends are tried and true and you know their recipes will be too.

This works cup for cup for any recipe you want to bake.  So for every 1 cup of flour, you use:


1/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch {Argo is GF}
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 tsp xanthan gum

that little recipe is equal to every cup of flour that you would if you need 3 cups of flour, just multiply it by 3.   It's been used to make muffins, bread, cakes, and cupcakes--which all turn out perfect....much better than the GF mixes that stores sell.

Below is the recipe for Classic White Cake from Food Network if you'd like to try out this GF flour substitute.  No one will ever know!

Classic White Cake

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 (9-inch) diameter by 1 1/2-inch deep layer pans or 1 (13 by 9 by 2-inch) pan, buttered and bottoms lined with parchment or waxed paper


The fine moist crumb of this cake complements any type of filling and frosting -- the perfect celebratory cake.
Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Combine egg whites, milk and vanilla extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to butter mixture then add half the milk mixture. Continue to alternate beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape bowl and beater often. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and smooth top with a metal spatula. Bake cake(s) about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, remove paper and let cool completely.
CLASSIC YELLOW CAKE Substitute 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk for all of the egg whites above.

Gluten Free Lasagna

The lasagna was a BIG hit. It's not often that I cook a meal that all three of my kids want to eat seconds of. My oldest child won't stop talking about how much he loved it. My husband said I should post the recipe so here it is.

Lasagna Noodles:
1 1/4 c. rice flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/4 c. tapioca flour
3 eggs
1/4 c. water

2 cans tomato paste
1 can stewed tomatoes (I prefer italian seasoned)
4 cloves garlic
2 T basil
2 T parsley
1 T oregano
2 T Romano cheese--shredded (optional)

Cheese filling:
12oz ricotta
16oz cottage cheese
5 oz. parmesan cheese--grated (more if desired)
Additional ingredient:
1 lbd Mozzarella Cheese Shredded

For noodles:
Mix dry ingredients, then add the eggs and stir. Add the water as needed. Add more water or flour as needed to form a stiff, not sticky yet soft dough.
I recommend rolling it very thin with a rolling pin on plastic wrap and just laying a large piece down for each layer. I did use my pasta machine, but next time I think I'll just roll it out. One helpful tip: I found that it sticks to everything but plastic wrap. I layed the pieces on plastic wrap then transferred them by laying the pieces on the lasagna plastic wrap side up and peeling the plastic wrap off carefully.

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Microwave the sauce in a glass dish for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool a bit.

For cheese:
Mix all of ricotta and cottage cheese. Stir in 2/3 of the parmesean and reserve 1/3 for topping the lasagna. I found that my ricotta was very unflavorful and seemed low quality, so I added 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of skim milk to the mixture.
Assembling the Lasagna:
Preheat oven to 375 F.
I used a large glass pyrex casserole dish. Start with a generous layer of sauce on the bottom then a layer of noodles. Next add a generous layer of the cheese mixture, followed by a layer of mozzarella, then a generous amount of sauce. Lay down the next layer of noodles, cheese mixture and mozzarella then top with the parmesean cheese. Cover with aluminum and bake for 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake 15 - 30 minutes longer. Cheese should be bubbly and toasted.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so to allow the juices time to reabsorb and solidify.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Breakfast by the Doctor

I can't say I agree with this philosophy...because feeling well means so much to me.  Anyone who's lived in pain or felt awful for weeks or just not had the motivation or desire to keep going on, knows it's not worth making your self sick over yummy food.  But I do love Doctor Who and enjoyed this quote by Matt Smith.'s gluten free.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The "Farm" Life

Yippy!  Spring is almost here in our first year of Big City Family goes Farm Folk...  I just wanted to share some pictures and update you on our baby chicks.
Daffodils are springing up everywhere!
We have quite an abundance of these buttery beauties.
A trail through the woods.
We started out with two cats.  Stars and Stripes.  But we were quickly adopted by the above kitty, which we named Impostor Stripes.  The original Stripes is napping below.
Resting peacefully--I had to animate this one.
Our baby chickies.  All grown up and ready to start laying soon.
This is Copper.
This is Roo.

The Field is turning green again.  It's time to get my seedlings potted and start the garden.

*************UPDATED WITH PICTURES OF OUR EGGS!!***********
Colorful eggs from our chickens.

This is what happens to mean roosters who try to peck children's eyes out...

A homemade egg basket--fresh from the field.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Little Miss Muffett...Not!

Sticking with the fairy tale theme, I'm moving on to Little Miss Muffett for breakfast.  A lot of celiacs struggle with good breakfast ideas...obviously--ask the average Americans what they eat for breakfast and 95% of the time it's going to be: cereal, waffles, pancakes, toast, bagel, muffins, biscuits, etc...
You're probably hoping that I'm not about to promote curds and whey.  It does sound gross.  Some scientists actually hypothesize that it was not the spider that truly scared Miss Muffett away, but the curds and whey itself.
Haha, but seriously, did you know that Ricotta and Cottage are made from curds and whey?

Cottage Cheese is the curd and Ricotta is made from the whey when all the curds are removed.    So combine these two and technically, you've got curds and whey...right?
"Way Out" Curds and Whey:

2 Tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
2 Tablespoons Cottage Cheese
Fresh Oregano--a few leaves
Fresh Basil--a few leaves
Cherry Tomatoes (or diced)
Sunflower seeds 1 Tablespoon
Bacon (Optional)
Portobello Mushroom--a few slices (optional)
1 teaspoon Romano or Parmesan Cheese
Fresh/dried Garlic--a pinch
Pepper--a pinch

Layer a serving bowl with lettuce.  Scoop the cheeses on top--mix around a bit.  Add the other ingredients to suit your tastes.  Eat.  Fall in love with your food.

Sometimes I eat something that was so delicious that my glutton side takes over and demands "MORE!"  So...I decided to relent in a not so naughty way and share a few scoops of my Pepa's sweet pecans (organic!) with my family.  ....And sip on some Bolthouse Farm Mocha--sooo smooth and yummy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Run! Run! As Fast as You Can!

Actually, let the gingerbread man do the running--your tummy can relax with this recipe.

We read the story of the Gingerbread Man this morning during a good thunderstorm.  It was the kind of day that made me feel something special was in order.  So we decided to make our own GF gingerbread man.  I knew my kids would love that.  And to get an idea of the size of this guy, look closely. those are almonds and raisins.  The eyes were chocolate chips and the nose was a peppermint (spearmint) just like in the book we read.

We used a Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix.
1 egg
2 teaspoons of Vanilla
1 stick of melted butter
(a teaspoon or two of water if needed)

Now, the cake mix becomes a cookie mix.  Just add a teaspoon or two of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and ginger and you have a sort of gingerbread dough.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix all ingredients.  On a  large foil lined baking sheet, put a ball for the head, a chunk for the body, arms and legs and smoosh and shape it into a gingerbread man.

For garnish use:
Almonds and other nuts,
Raisins, dried cranberries or blueberries
chocolate chips

Add eyes, nose, mouth, bow tie, buttons, arm and leg bands.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Allow to cool and ice if desired.

2 Tbsp. Butter
1  tsp vanilla
1  cup powdered sugar
a few teaspoons of water as needed

Mix all until thick and smooth.  Put into an icing bag or ziploc freezer bag, which you can snip the end off of with scissors and use as an icing bag.

These are their disappointed little faces when they both suddenly noticed that his peppermint nose had melted and sunk into his head!  Hilarious.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who Your Friends Are

I've been playing Russian Roulette lately.  I know McDonad's french fries directly contain wheat starch, so I never eat them   But I have been eating Burger King fries.  And that's okay, if they use a designated friar.

Unfortunately, I know my BK doesn't.  They don't even know what that means.  Sooner or later I was bound to regret it and this morning, I'm so nauseous and gassy that I'm very very sorry.  Maybe I have a stomach virus.  That could be my problem. But I know I started feeling lousy not long after I had supper last night.
On a side note (not that I can stand the thought of food right now) it is worth mentioning that replacing the bun with a layer of french fries on the top and bottom of a burger is a satisfying--though messy--way to replace the bun.
Sometimes in life, we have to come to terms with who our friends are and who our friends aren't.  In fact, I'd say it's a dire part of gaining maturity when we can discern this sort of thing.
The popular, wild kids who always want to party and stay up late having fun...probably not really your friends.

The vindictive punk that let's you hang out with them when they're bored--but always finds some way to get you into big trouble--is definitely not your friend.

The nerdy, geeks who encourage you to join Quiz-bowl competitions and computer club and study groups...good friend choices, right?! would you categorize sugary treats like icecream?
Popular fun crowd.

Fried delights like donuts?
For me, that would be the vindictive punk that makes me really sorry afterwards.
Definitely not a friend.  More like an enemy.

Fruits, veggies, salads and the like?
Yep. You've got it now.  The nerdy friends that guide you down the right road and help you to have a brighter future.

Sugar is not my friend.

Gluten is certainly my enemy.

My true friends are the wholesome foods.

I hope I can keep that in mind this week and stop sneaking away to hang out with icecream, burgers and sodas.  The veggie bunch has been calling  me for way too long to keep ignoring.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We have had the exciting experience of raising baby chicks!  My industrious husband bravely attacked Craigslist for candidates and found 20 newly hatched chicks for sale not too far away.  He drove several hours to get them and I constructed a fabulously stylish styrofoam home for them, haha.  It was pretty redneckish, honestly and it sat IN OUR LIVING ROOM for 4 weeks (I promise we're not crazy, just dedicated).  But it worked and the baby chicks were sooo cute and funfunfun to watch.  Quite a mix of muts.

We first decided we wanted to raise chickens while we were still living in Los Angeles.  We watched Food Inc. and read You Can Farm, in which, the inhumane and unhealthy practices of the egg business are really laid out.  Yes, it's just as bad for the meat industry, but you have to start somewhere and we decided we'd like to start with eggs.  So, this should be a healthy and educational experience for the whole family.  And hopefully, not tooooo expensive.  It should get easier on the wallet, after we can start growing food for our chickens (corn, millet, oats, sprouts, etc...) But we use a LOT of eggs anyway, so this could be a good way to save eventually.

Since this blog is supposed to be about gluten free food, I'll close with my favorite GF way to eat eggs:
An omelet.  If you don't know how to make an omelet, please go to Youtube and watch Julia Child make one.  She is the queen, in that respect.  But I like to add onions, bell peppers, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese to mine.  Top it off with a bit of fresh salsa and it's even better.  Yes, I do have odd tastes.  It runs in my family like glitter and puff paint on a toilet seat.  :S

Monday, January 3, 2011

Overdue Post

After arriving in the south east,  I tried to start a garden, asap.  Arriving in mid August made my chances of seeing that garden come to fruit, very slim.  Broccoli, cauliflower, brusselsprouts, collard greens, Swiss Chard, butternut  squash, winter snap peas, and two unlikely candidates, donated by my mom:  a tomato plant and an eggplant plant.
Believe it or not, everything came to fruit!  I still have a hard time believing this because I'm still new to gardening and these things all seem like miracles to me.  My tomato and eggplant didn't do so hot, but they both bore a small bit of fruit.  Nothing is more satisfying than cooking and eating your OWN home grown vegetables.  Skimpy as they might have been...
One incredible blessing I've experienced is having my wish to find edible wild mushrooms, fulfilled!  One morning, my oldest son came in and showed me that he and daddy had discovered lots of big mushrooms in the back yard.  I knew what they were when I saw them:  Puffballs!  But I didn't know for sure if they were a safe, edible variety.  After a lot of researching and testing, we were confident that they were indeed edible and delicious.  So, I sauteed  some in butter and garlic and tried a tiny bit.  It was good and I had no unpleasant side effects, so that was the green light to eat more. My favorite way to prepare them was stuffed with mozzarella cheese,  GF breaded, pan fried and served with marinara sauce.   There was a large quantity of them--15 or so, all fist sized.  I shared them with friends and had them fairly often.  I can't wait to find them again next year.
We've also discovered a few places to buy gluten free products locally--Yippee!  Thank you Krogers and Wal-Mart.  But I still miss you, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Moving...can't post now!

Sorry everyone.  We're deep in the process of moving from California to Tennessee.  We've been yard selling and packing for weeks.  I just can't even think of an inspired topic to blog about.  But I need brief escapes from the stress, so leave a comment with your blog URL and I'll come visit your blog!

Thanks everyone!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My History in the Kitchen

My mother began teaching my older sister to cook when I was probably five or six.  My sister never truly enjoyed it that much and probably enjoyed it even less because her little sis was always poking her nose in the way.
I couldn't help it!  I have a love of all art forms, and to me, cooking is one more art form.  My mom taught me to bake and cook as she made dinner each night.  By the time I was 13, I had the experience of making the entire meal--completely by myself.  Of course, my mom wasn't far away and it probably wasn't the greatest meal in the world, but I was so excited to be able to say 'I made dinner'.  I can't remember what it was, but I do recall green beans and corn bread were part of it.
After I married, (at the age of 19) I experimented a lot more.  I spent several years learning everything I could from Great Chefs of America, and Great Chefs of  the World--the TV shows, haha.  (Did you think I meant culinary school...?)   I'm sure that doesn't sound like much, but I devoured every cooking term and cooking method I could, then tried it out in my own kitchen later on.
 I checked out a lot of cook books and especially loved one that I found called The Lottie Moon Cook Book.  It was over a century old, and clearly, the recipe methods of cooking back then are a whole 'nother world!  I learned about what I now call 'the eyeball method' and what it means to have a 'fast oven' or a 'slow oven'.  This was a new concept to me.
So, measurements don't actually have to be precise?  And temperatures don't have to be exact?  But America's Test Kitchen makes it all seem so scientific!  

I threw exactness out the window because it had always been a hindrance to me anyway--when you think about it, aren't all ovens slightly varied in their temperatures and heating abilities and all measuring cups are not the same.  I loved the idea of complete freedom in the kitchen.  You don't have to have a recipe to make something.  You just have to have had the experience of baking something similar with a good recipe.  After that, you know the general idea, the mix of ingredients, the 'chemistry' of what goes into it.  Now you can explore, add and create.  Substitutions are never ending!  It's an awesome feeling to not be stuck at a road block because you happen to be out of eggs or milk or whatever.
I spent a year as a cook for my college's (Clear Creek Baptist Bible College) cafeteria in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky.  We made almost everything from scratch.    I have probably baked hundreds of cookies and roasted more than 30 turkeys.  I've cracked hundreds of eggs at a time when we were making breakfast for Alumni Conferences and peeled many many many potatoes.  After a few months, I was promoted to 'head cook'.  So...yes, I do actually have a bit of formal training under my belt, however lowly a cafeteria job might seem.   It was very good food.  How many cafeterias do you know where you can get homemade, cornbread-battered catfish with hushpuppies and homemade tartar sauce and coleslaw?
From there, I've just enjoyed the chance to create new and different meals each week, learning as I go.  The internet has really made cooking easy.  If you can't find a recipe in the cookbook you're browsing, I know you'll find it on the web.  And probably even a YouTube video of the entire process!
My advice to any cooking newbies is to have fun with what you cook.  Substitute and customize as you go.  Create and enjoy.  I guess that's what it means to put your heart into what you cook.  
(That sounded kind of gross, but you know what I mean!)