Tag Archives: vegan

A Review and a Giveaway: Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski

Think going gluten-free means resigning to cardboard-flavored, overly dry and crumbly desserts? Hardly. I take a firm stance against tasteless desserts. Only the good stuff in our household! So when my review copy of Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski arrived on my doorstep, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to devour every page. When it came time to test a recipe, I couldn’t decide on just one. After all, I should be doing my best to give you a thorough review of the book, right?

The first recipe I decided to make was her Grain-Free Chocolate Cupcakes. They seemed so simple to make, and was free of not only gluten, but also dairy and refined sugar. What was there to lose? I did opt to top it with some “buttercream” frosting (buttercream made with palm shortening instead of butter), so the end result did have sugar, but they were definitely a hit with Brittany. They weren’t overly sweet, but the cupcakes stayed moist enough and held together without crumbling – both big marks in the win column. Of course, they were chocolate – which automatically means they rank high on my “yum” list.

But I cannot live on chocolate cupcakes alone. I had to do something that was a bit different. So I additionally opted to make the mango sticky rice cake. Again, it was a simple recipe calling for relatively few ingredients. I did substitute coconut sugar for the brown sugar, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Warm from the oven, it was sticky, creamy, with the lovely savory-sweet flavor of coconut and the sweet, fresh flavors of the mango. It’s not the flashiest cake in the world, but it definitely makes up for that with real, honest flavors. I could have eaten it for breakfast.

What surprised me about this book was that there was more than just desserts. Carol also included a few muffin recipes and breakfast ideas! I am a muffin fan – I make them a lot more often than I let on here (you know, I think I should remedy that, come to think of it…). Next on my list is to make her Apple Cinnamon Muffins, which are dairy-free and refined sugar-free as well as gluten-free. They sound amazing.

But of course, many of you are here because I mentioned “giveaway” in the title of this post. I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are the details:

I will be giving away one copy of Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press, to one of you. The giveaway will end on Saturday, May 7, 2011.

To enter, you will need to leave me a comment telling me what dessert you would love to see made gluten-free.

But wait, there’s more!

You can have additional chances to win by doing the following:

“Like” Simply…Gluten-Free on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

“Like” Tasty Eats At Home on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

Follow Simply…Gluten-Free on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

Follow Tasty Eats At Home on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

That’s it! I wish you the best of luck!

 

And last, but not least, the recipe for the Mango Sticky Rice Cake.

Mango Sticky Rice Cake, reprinted with permission, from Simply…Gluten-Free Desserts by Carol Kicinski

Ingredients:

 2 mangos, peeled and sliced lengthwise into about ¼ inch slices
1½ cups sweet rice (mochi, pearl or sushi rice)
1½ cups water
1 cup brown sugar (packed) plus about 1 tablespoon – use divided (I substituted coconut palm sugar)
1 – 14 ounce can coconut milk
Pinch kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons butter or non-dairy substitute plus more for preparing pan

 Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides liberally with the butter or non-dairy substitute. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of brown sugar over the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Lay sliced mango on top of brown sugar in a nice spiral pattern.

Put rice in a large glass bowl and cover with enough water to come up about 1 inch over the top of the rice. Soak rice for at least 1 hour. Drain off water, rinse with running water and put back into bowl with 1½ cups fresh water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir rice thoroughly and return to microwave for another 5 minutes. Stir again. Rice should be tender, cooked through and sticky. If not, microwave for another 3 minutes and check again. Let stand covered for 5 minutes when done. Alternately you can cook the soaked rice in a rice cooker.

While rice is cooking, heat coconut milk with ¼ cup brown sugar and salt until almost boiling over medium heat. Do not cook it over too high of a heat or it will curdle. Cook until all the sugar is dissolved and it is very hot. Pour hot mixture over cooked rice; stir well and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter or non-dairy substitute over medium heat with ¾ cups of brown sugar until it forms a thick caramel. Gently pour over the mango slices in the cake pan. Add rice mixture and press down to pack it well in the pan. Smooth out the top with a rubber spatula.

Place cake pan in a sheet pan to catch any caramel that may bubble over and bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rice is lightly browned and the caramel is hot and bubbling. Let cool for 5 minutes and then run a knife around the pan to loosen. Invert on serving plate and let cool. The more you let it cool the easier it is to slice.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

Simple Quinoa Pizza Crust

This pizza crust recipe has changed my life. No more frozen pizza crusts. No more “going without” pizza. No more complicated recipes, complete with yeast and rise times and multiple gluten-free flours. As long as I remember to soak my quinoa ahead of time, I can have fresh pizza crust in a manner of minutes. And not “so-so” pizza. Good pizza. Chewy and slightly crispy on the edges, but soft in the center. It reminds me of a good New York style crust. Which, you can assume by my opening sentence in this post, is a good thing indeed.

I can’t take credit for the idea or the recipe, however. That credit goes to Charity Dasenbrock of For Life Personal Chef. She posted this recipe. Iris of The Daily Dietribe mentioned it a while back, and that’s where it caught my eye. It is supposed to be akin to socca, a chickpea flatbread that is also simple to make. (There’s a recipe in Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green – I happen to be giving away four copies of her book here – hurry! The giveaway ends April 23.) I’ve discovered I have a lot of trouble digesting chickpeas, so I have never had the opportunity to enjoy socca. This crust recipe, however, gave me hope. It was so easy, I just had to try it.

So the following morning, I soaked what quinoa I had left in the house (which turned out to be about a cup).  I came home, drained and rinsed it, and threw it in the blender along with a bit of water, salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I blended, and heated up my cast iron skillet in the oven with a bit of oil. When the oven came to temperature, I poured my batter, spread it out, put it back in the oven, and hoped for the best.

In a little over 10 minutes, I checked it. It was ready to flip, and was a lovely color of brown and crisp on the bottom. It flipped easily. I baked it for about 10 more minutes, and then placed some toppings on top and baked for another 5. The house filled with the aroma of pizza parlor. When it was ready, I was so ready to cut and sink my teeth into that slice. When I did, I just about swooned. Another bite, and another, and I’m suddenly blabbing and carrying on to my husband about how absolutely wonderful this pizza was. I declared that we would now have pizza every week. That’s probably not going to happen in actuality, but I did make more the following week. It was just as delicious as the first time. And the leftovers? They make a pretty great breakfast.

Another bonus about this pizza crust, versus so many other gluten-free recipes, is that it is 100% whole grain. No starches, no gums. It’s vegan, and it’s allergy-friendly. You can top it with whatever you like. You could even leave it plain and enjoy it as a delicious flatbread, perfect for tearing and dipping into curries, soups, or hummus. The possibilities are endless. But whatever you do, make it.

Quinoa Pizza Crust, adapted from For Life Personal Chef

1 c quinoa plus enough water to cover for soaking

1/4 c grapeseed oil or olive oil

about 1/2 c filtered water

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t Italian seasoning

Place the quinoa in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover the quinoa. Let it sit for about 8 hours to soak (I do this in the morning before I head to work, and then it’s ready when I get home).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Use a large, 12-inch cast iron skillet, and brush with oil. Place in oven to preheat.

Drain the quinoa, rinse thoroughly, and place the quinoa in a blender. Add most of the water and the seasonings and blend. Add more water as needed, until the batter resembles a thick pancake-style batter.

Once the oven is heated to temperature, pour the batter into the skillet and quickly spread it out evenly across the bottom. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the underside is well-browned and starting to crisp. Use a large spatula and carefully flip the crust. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, and top with desired toppings. (In the picture above, I used a homemade tomato-based pizza sauce, a bit of nacho cheese sauce from Go Dairy Free, sauteed crimini mushrooms, onions, a bit of organic pork sausage, and radish greens.) As with any pizza, be careful not to overload on toppings or the crust will get a bit soggy. Return to oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the crust is well-browned on the bottom and crisp. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board or plate. Slice and serve!

Makes one pizza – 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry your crowd is and whether a salad or other dish is served with the pizza.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw

I love spring. While I’m really not fond of knowing that our unrelenting Texas heat is just around the corner, I feel like the bounty of fresh produce that starts arriving in the farmers markets makes up for it. As I mentioned before, it just seems like I become inspired with fresh, quality food. Like kohlrabi. I picked some up from Good Earth Organic Farm (this makes twice now, actually, and I plan on getting more tomorrow morning!), and used the greens in smoothies (the greens are mild on these kohlrabi, so they work well in smoothies!). But I wanted to do something special with the kohlrabi themselves. I love it raw – it’s crunchy and relatively mild, kind of like jicama and broccoli stems rolled into one. (If you can imagine that…) I poked around for some ideas on how to highlight that crunchy flavor, and came across a slaw over at A Veggie Venture. (A hint – if you ever are at a loss for vegetable ideas, check out her blog. She has so many wonderful ways to cook countless numbers of vegetables.) Of course, I’d have to make it dairy-free, but that came easily enough, with the help of a bit of coconut milk.  I had some Fuji apples lying around, so I brought out my mandolin slicer (which makes quick work of the kohlrabi and apple, but you can use the shredder on your food processor or cut it by hand if you’d prefer) and went to town.

Within a few minutes, I tossed everything together, and stuck it in the fridge to cool for a bit, but I already knew the verdict: it was delicious. Cool, creamy, crunchy, and sweet – this was definitely a different slaw than those vinegar-heavy or mayonnaise-laden varieties, and I loved it. The parsley and mint heightened the freshness of the slaw. I enjoyed a generous helping as a side dish, and also loved it atop some mizuna as a salad, where the spiciness of the greens could contrast the cool and sweet slaw. I’ve made this twice already in two weeks – and fully intend to make it a third time, for Easter dinner, alongside a ham.

Dairy-Free Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw, adapted from A Veggie Venture

1/4 c coconut milk

1 T tahini

3 T lemon juice

1/2 T dijon mustard

1 T chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 T chopped mint

1/2 t honey (you can use agave nectar to make it vegan)

Salt and pepper to taste

3 kohlrabi (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into batons (or shredded)

2 Fuji apples (Granny Smith would also be good here), cut into batons (or shredded)

Combine everything except the kohlrabi and apples in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Cut the kohlrabi and apples and toss immediately in the dressing (if you wait, the apples will start to brown). Adjust seasoning as needed, and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Edible Containers (Nori Bowls)

This month for the Daring Cooks challenge, the sky was the limit.  Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers. She provided lovely ideas and recipes (a pumpkin bowl filled with creamy shrimp, or a fried noodle bowl), but we could also use our creativity and come up with our own idea, as long as our containers were edible and had suitable content for it.

For me, this was exciting. Rather than having to modify a challenge recipe to fit my dietary needs, I could come up with something completely from scratch! How exciting! But then I started brainstorming, and couldn’t come up with much. I had a few ideas – dips inside of avocado halves, a twist on deviled eggs, or some sort of roll-up thing…but nothing ground-breaking. So I enlisted my sister to help. (She is the artist in our family) I sent her a text message, asking her to think of some sort of edible container, and that the sky was the limit. She sent a message back: what about making nori sheets into some sort of paper mache thing?

Wow. I was inspired. Immediately, I dismissed my other ideas and focused on this one. I wasn’t sure how I’d get it to work, but I knew I had to. It sounded like fun. I had a few days before I would have time to actually make the bowls, so I instead spent time working out the issue in my head. What I loved about this challenge is that unlike some others, I actually didn’t do any research. This was all going to be playing around and going with my gut.

It wouldn’t exactly be paper mache, I thought. Paper mache involves some paste-like substance, and when I think of edible paste, I think of corn starch and water. That didn’t sound appetizing in the least. But I needed something sticky. Brown rice syrup. I purchased some to make Amy’s Slow Cooker Ketchup, and I loved the thick, neutral, not-too-sweet stuff. (Side note: there’s still time to enter into my giveaway for a copy of her cookbook! Check it out here!) I knew I was going to use it – it seemed like the perfect solution. I also knew I’d have to use some sort of mold in order to make and keep a bowl shape until it dried. I already planned on using my dehydrator to speed up that drying process, but as for the minute details? Those would have to wait until I was in the throes of making the bowls.

As it turns out, all that advance mental preparation helped. Making these bowls was a snap. Okay, well, not exactly a snap, as a snap implies speed (at least, in my mind it does) and they did take a while to dry, but they were easy to put together. Just a little brushing of my sticky brown rice and tamari solution, some time in my “molds”, and some time in the dehydrator, and I had a cute little bowl, perfect for filling.

Filling with what? Well, honestly, I did not spend much time brainstorming about that part. But as I surveyed my pantry and refrigerator, I quickly realized that I had the ingredients for a version of jap chae, and those flavors would go perfectly with the nori. I whipped it together (which really is a snap – jap chae only takes a few minutes to make), and I had a perfectly delicious, vegan meal in a cute nori bowl.

This was an exciting challenge, and my hat goes off to Renata.

Nori Bowls

2 nori sheets per bowl

Olive oil

2 T brown rice syrup

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

small bowls

1 recipe Jap Chae

Using kitchen shears, cut slits into the nori sheet, making sure you make them only about halfway to the center of the sheet, leaving room for the bottom of the bowl. (I cut the first one with slits as shown here, but then realized I should cut only 4 slits, one on each corner, for the second sheet. Sorry, no pic on that one, but you get the idea.)

Cut the second sheet of nori with slits and lay over the first sheet, offsetting the slits slightly so that the whole area is covered with nori. Lightly brush the bowl with oil on the outside, and place the nori sheets on top.

In a small, separate bowl, whisk together the brown rice syrup and soy sauce. Brush mixture along the cut edges, and press together firmly, against the bowl, until all of the nori is “sealed” with the syrup mixture. Brush oil on the inside of your second molding bowl, and place on top of your nori. Press together.

Using your kitchen shears, cut around the edges of your mold to remove excess nori. Repeat with additional nori sheets and bowls as desired. Let the molds sit for about an hour.

Remove the interior molding bowl, and place in dehydrator, right side up. Allow to dehydrate for an additional hour at about 130 degrees. Once the nori starts to feel less “wet”, carefully remove the second molding bowl and place the nori bowl back into the dehydrator. Continue to dehydrate for another hour or two, or until the nori is hard and no longer the least bit tacky to the touch. Trim the edges with kitchen shears as needed to clean up the look of your bowl.

It is now ready to fill! Prepare your jap chae according to recipe (or make another filling for your bowl) and serve. You’ll find that after a while, when the filling has had a chance to sit in the bowl, it will soften a bit, and you might be able to fold the sides and eat your jap chae-filled nori bowl rolled up, burrito style.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Vegetarian

Moroccan-Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet

I tend fall into a rut where I prepare meals in a somewhat traditional style (a protein, plus a veggie or two, maybe a starch such as rice or potato, or a salad), especially during the week. It’s simple, I don’t have to think or follow a recipe, it pleases those picky eaters that don’t always like a bunch of different vegetables mixed together, and I can easily customize each plate to some degree – meaning I can take my double-helping of whatever veggies are on the menu and everyone is happy. But when I am feeling more creative, I love to combine flavors and mix things. When time is no obstacle, this often results in complex dishes like menudo, curries, cassoulet, or stews. These generally not only take time, but also create more dishes than I’d like to tackle on a weeknight. So what’s an inspired girl to do to incorporate a lot of flavor without a lot of time or dishes?

Make a one-skillet dish! I came across Heather at Gluten-Free Cat’s Moroccan Yukina Savoy and Red Quinoa Skillet, and it intrigued me. A quick, filling, protein-and-veggie-packed meal that could be made in a single skillet? This was not only doable, but it sounded delicious. Of course, I tweaked it a bit, adding some additional spices (Which I realize makes it not as simple, but I have an arsenal of spices in my kitchen, so I love to put them to use. If you’d like, you can just use cumin and paprika, or come up with your own spice combination.), substituting swiss chard from my garden for the yukina savoy, and substituting raisins for the apricots. I also used regular quinoa rather than the red, because I only had a teensy bit of red quinoa left in the pantry. What resulted was a comforting, fragrant, filling dish that not only satisfied my hunger for complex flavors, but was stress-free to put together. In addition, the leftovers made for an amazing lunch.

Unlike so many “one-dish” meals that either require other “starters” or “accompaniments” (such as a salad, bread, etc) to complete the meal, this dish truly does stand alone quite well. I did find that a fresh orange at the end of the meal served as a perfect dessert, however. Unfussy, yet completely satisfying.

Moroccan-Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet, inspired by Gluten-Free Cat

1 c quinoa

1 T each paprika and ground cumin

1/2 t each ground turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 c sliced carrots

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 c raisins

1 c cooked white beans (I used navy beans)

3 c vegetable stock

1 large bunch of swiss chard, chopped (about 3 cups)

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

1/4 c sliced almonds

Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside.

Mix together all of the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium heat (I used my cast iron skillet). Add onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft, but carrots are still just beginning to soften. Add in the spices, lemon zest and juice, raisins, beans,  and stock. Drain the quinoa, add it to the skillet, and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes. Add in swiss chard and stir, and cover again with the lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chard is wilted. (If the quinoa is too dry, add a bit more stock or water.) Remove lid, stir well, and serve, garnished with parsley and sliced almonds.

Serves 4 generously.

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Filed under Beans, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: The Spunky Coconut

grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free cinnamon roll

This month, for Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger (a fantastic event, initiated by Sea at Book of Yum, where gluten-free bloggers “adopt” one another, cook one or more of their recipes, and share them with the world, in the interest of becoming more acquainted with one another and enjoying one another’s recipes), I adopted Kelly of The Spunky Coconut. The Spunky Coconut is a relatively “new to me” blog; one I’ve only been frequenting for the past few months. I discovered it around the same time I was given her latest book , Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts as a gift. I was immediately hooked – the recipes are nutrient-dense, simple, and delicious. I’ve made her vanilla bean cake and her coffee cake, both in the blog and in her book. I loved them so much, I purchased her first book as well – The Spunky Coconut Cookbook. I knew I wanted to adopt her, just as an excuse to try more recipes. So I did.

But what to make? There are so many choices! I did have a lot of raw nuts lying around, so I first opted to soak and dehydrate them, just so I’d have some yummy snacks (or potential nut butter beginnings!). Kelly outlines some easy instructions on how to do this.

All you really need is time (and a dehydrator – although I’ve also done this before on the lowest setting in my oven, in my pre-dehydrator days). Mine took around 24 hours to dry in the dehydrator at 115 degrees. The nuts were tasty and crunchy – perfect for snacking.

And then this morning, I turned my attention to cinnamon rolls. Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts has a lovely cinnamon roll recipe – and it’s completely dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free. The only change I made was that I added some raisins (about 1/4 cup) to the filling. They came out full of cinnamon-y flavor, but not overly sweet or sticky. They were a lovely “grown-up” breakfast treat, perfect with coffee.

These two recipes are just the tip of the iceberg of The Spunky Coconut. I encourage you to go. Visit. Browse around a bit. You might decide you want to try a vegan, raw-inspired caesar dressing for your salad. Or grain-free tortilla wraps (which are next on my list!). Or as it warms up outside, how about a chilled chia coffee drink? The recipes here are endlessly creative – I know they’ve opened up my mind to a lot of amazing possibilities in the kitchen!

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Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Vegetarian

Simple Sauteed Swiss Chard

Many, many of the recipes on this blog aren’t simple. I know that. It might lead one to believe that I endlessly slave in the kitchen, making intricate things with lots of ingredients, every night of the week. Truth is, while I’d love to spend all day in the kitchen, reality (a.k.a. chores, errands, projects, a full-time job, step-kids, or otherwise life) gets in the way. (It’s just that when I do spend all day in the kitchen, and something comes out well, I want to share it with you!) So on those hectic days, when I’ve just stepped in the door after commuting for over an hour from the office, I rely on fresh ingredients, prepared as simply as possible, to provide us a nutritious meal (and keep my sanity in check). Many times, this means some sort of quick-cooking protein such as chicken, fish, or the occasional steak (or even leftover protein from the day before, if I’ve planned well), and a variety of vegetables, such as baked sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, a tossed salad, or sauteed greens, such as collards, kale, or swiss chard.

Swiss chard has to be one of my favorite greens. That’s saying a lot, since I love greens of just about every kind, and eat them nearly every day. To me, swiss chard is slightly sweet, and doesn’t need much adornment, particularly when it’s at the peak of freshness. This particular chard in the photo was as fresh as one can get – I picked it from my garden. I’d never planted chard before, so I was excited to watch it grow and flourish (I’m pretty much a novice gardener). There’s something about eating something you’ve grown yourself. It nearly always tastes better, simply because of its freshness. But there’s more to it than that. It’s as if it deserves much more respect, care, and love than any “other” vegetable. It’s almost like it’s your “baby”, if that makes sense. While I’m still learning a lot about how to grow vegetables, I love the experience, from preparing the soil, to planting the seeds, to caring for them until it’s time to harvest and enjoy. It connects me to the Earth, to the seasons, to nature. I feel balanced and at peace.

But you came to read about swiss chard. So here you go. Like the title suggests, this is a simple, easy recipe, and I enjoy chard and other greens in much the same manner several times a week. A bit of onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper, and your greens are ready for your enjoyment as a delicious, simple side. Feel free to use other greens in this recipe as well – collards substitute well here.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

1 T olive oil

1/4 c chopped yellow onion

1 clove garlic, minced 

1 large bunch of swiss chard, rinsed well and stems and leaves chopped

pinch crushed red pepper

2 T water

salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add swiss chard and crushed red pepper and saute for another minute. Add water and cover pan, and allow to “steam” for another 2-3 minutes, or until swiss chard is wilted and the leaves are bright green. Remove the lid and season to taste with salt.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Gluten Free For Good and Sauteed Lettuce and Brown Rice Bowl

This month, Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger kind of snuck up on me. Lexie at Lexie’s Kitchen was hosting, and I read her announcement a week ago. I realized I hadn’t picked a blogger to adopt, and I knew that I was going to be swamped with a training class for work all week, leaving next to no time to cook. I really wanted to adopt Melissa at Gluten Free For Good, so I started scouring her site for recipes. I’ve made a version of her red chile enchilada pizza before with Udi’s crust (a deliciously evil treat!), but I didn’t have time for that. A long while back, I’d made a version of her sweet and spicy moroccan stew, and the warming spice blend in that recipe really tugged at me, but there was no time for that either. And then I came across her sauteed lettuce and brown rice bowl. I had lots of leftover romaine lettuce in the fridge that needed to be eaten, and while I was regularly incorporating it into green smoothies (a great alternative to the in-a-hotel conference/training breakfast, which usually consists of some variety of pastry or donut – while everyone else was likely crashing from an overload of sugar, my brain was primed with a nutrient-rich breakfast), there was more available than I could feasibly blend before it went bad. I decided that I’d whip up this recipe one evening for dinner – it wasn’t complicated, and it came together very quickly.

I already had cooked brown rice in the fridge (this is an often occurrence for me), so preparation simply consisted of chopping a bit of vegetables. I omitted the cheese in the recipe to make it dairy-free, but generously topped it with toasted sunflower seeds and some chopped parsley. It was a light dish, with a bit of crunch left in the ribs of the lettuce, but the wilted portions were silky and gave the dish a lovely textural contrast. The sesame seed (gomasio) topping really elevated the dish, reminding me of a lighter version of an Asian-style sauteed bok choy or other green. I enjoyed the leftovers the following morning, cold, topped with a bit of cold sliced egg omelette. Delightful, and it kept my belly happy all morning.

Melissa’s blog is one that I always enjoy reading. She shares recipes, sure, but perhaps even more valuable are her nutritional and health-based stories. I loved her “fuzz” post – worthwhile reading for anyone looking to keep their bodies free from stiffness and inflammation and generally happy and healthy. And her “does my butt look big” post was not only entertaining, but so much so that I couldn’t help but share with my husband. (who responded with a non-chalant “yeah, I already knew that” type of response – as if he always knew his “big-butt” wife was smart. I didn’t complain.) Melissa is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to health, nutrition, fitness, but most importantly, overall well-being, and she has a knack for making this information readily available to the average Joe. I still have more of Melissa’s recipes that I’d love to try – her pumpkin pecan boyfriend bait being my first choice. (I’m a sucker for anything pecan.) Soon, I hope, this will appear in my kitchen – because for me, pumpkin and pecan are year-round good!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Rice, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup)

Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.

Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.

I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food

2 T olive oil

2 medium white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 t sea salt

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)

2 t sugar

5-6 basil leaves

2 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1 t ground black pepper

1 qt vegetable broth

5-6 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.

At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Raw Apple Cinnamon Chips

A few weeks ago, the appliance that changed our lives forever arrived. That’s right, my dehydrator showed up on my doorstep. Soon after, the dehydrating fest began! I dehydrated sweet potato chips, zucchini chips, made beef jerky (recipe coming soon!), made gRAWnola, and made these apple chips. (I’ve actually made them several times – they just never lasted long enough for pictures!) This is quite possibly my new favorite appliance. It does take up a bit of counter space, but it’s been used SO often I just haven’t put it away. It is a great way to make healthy, whole food snacks, many times raw and still full of nutrients. It’s also so easy, you hardly need a recipe. I don’t have exact measurements – this is merely a guideline. Feel free to experiment. If you haven’t yet purchased a dehydrator, let me tell you – it’s worth your investment. I think that I will break even on my expense in a month or two, as I am not purchasing store-bought snacks (and organic, gluten-free, raw snacks can be super-expensive!)

Raw Cinnamon Apple Chips

3 organic Fuji apples (or your favorite variety), sliced thinly on a mandoline (mine were probably about 1/8 inch thick or so)

1-2 t ground cinnamon

Lay apple slices in a single layer on the racks of your dehydrator. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples. Dehydrate at 110 degrees F for 8-10 hours or until apples are leathery. Store in a sealed container.

Makes about 1 quart of apple chips.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes, Vegetarian