Staying healthy during such a busy time can be tricky. One of my suggestions is to eat more veggies. That can sometimes be tricky though, especially with kids. Here are five ways we get in more veggies that are easy, and won’t make you feel like a cow grazing on grass all day. These fit […]
Tag Archives | gluten free
Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Oat Bars
My 8-year-old daughter loves to cook. Like… LOVES to cook. There are days I open my fridge and it looks like a science experiment exploded. It’s full of glass containers of “salad dressing,” “spice dip,” “flavored water,” and “soup.”
That face represents the pride that comes when you design and make your own oatmeal.
Yesterday, I couldn’t find my cocao powder in the pantry and rather than think I was going insane and skipping over it with my eyes (which I do regularly), I knew better. I asked my daughter, “Do you have my cocao powder?” She immediately ran up to her room and brought down a reusable grocery bag full of spices, crackers, marshmallows and… my cocao powder. Just an average day in our house.
She even delivers!!
We watch “The Pioneer Woman” together, read cookbooks before bed, and she’s a big fan of helping me meal plan. She claims she’s going to be a chef… right before she’s a teacher, but after she’s a waitress and an author. Astronaut and veterinarian are in there somewhere as well, but I can’t remember the exact order. Ambition, right?
So last week she brought me a picture of some oat bars and proclaimed she was going to make them for dessert. We tried to find a promising recipe, but in our house, to make food we can all eat it has to be gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and refined-sugar free.
Together, we came up with this recipe and it’s a hit! It’s easy enough my 8-year-old could “make it” (I helped a bit), it comes together fast, and is customizable and really yummy.
We used almond butter because that’s what my daughter chose, but you can easlily change the flavor by changing the nut butter. I wanted peanut butter because the combination of peanut butter and chocolate yields a result even more beautiful than if Henry Cavill and Scarlett Johansson had a baby. Am I right!? But this was her thing, so I let it go. Next time!
The flavor is also influenced by the type of sweetener you use. Using coconut sugar will give it a more carmely flavor, maple sugar more of a maple flavor and raw sugar just a sweet flavor. We actually used Lakanto Monk Fruit sweetener because I have to keep my sugars (even natural ones) really low right now.
Because she’s all about the bling, we had to add something on top. She wanted 3 different kinds of chocolate, edible glutter and several types of candies. We settled for one type of chocolate, and one type of candy that happened to come in three different colors. I think she was satisfied.
So when my daughter is a famous TV chef, we’ll look back on this post and laugh. Or at the least, when my daughter has a daughter 0f her own who steals all her ingredients, hides food in her room until it’s moldy, and uses half a bottle of safron to make her mac-and-cheese look pretty, we’ll laugh. Or I’ll laugh… a lot… maniacally.
Happy baking (with your kiddos)!
Pizza Spaghetti Squash
My love for spaghetti squash is no secret. I recently wrote a post about how much I love spaghetti squash, how to make it, and how to use it (click here to read the post).
But here’s the thing you have to understand. Spaghetti squash is delicious because it’s spaghetti squash, not because it has the taste and texture of thick, gluten-filled spaghetti noodles you can buy in a pack and boil. You can’t slurp a spaghetti squash “noodle” to romantic music and have it end in a kisss (even if you are a cartoon dog). You can’t twirl spaghetti squash around a fork and you don’t throw spaghetti squash at a wall to check if it’s done. It’s not a replacement. This is something I hear from clients all the time. “It doesn’t feel like spaghetti. It tastes different from spaghetti.” Well… it’s a vegetable. It’s not spaghetti.
I totally understand how people would make this assumption, since so many recipes claim, “It tastes just like spaghetti!” And, “Eat healthy without giving up your favorite foods.” It’s jut not true. Spaghetti squash is delicious and helps me get all my “spaghetti fixes” in because it’s a great way to deliver so many of the flavors we’re used to associating with pasta in a much healthier way, but it is its own food.
Eating healthy does require change, including a change in our taste buds. My dark chocolate doesn’t taste like a maple-glazed donut; but it’s a much healthier way to get a sweet fix in. The point is (yes my rambling does have a point), if you decide to change the way you eat, expect to… change the way you eat. The flavors, textures and ingredients will be very different. That doesn’t mean they won’t be delicous. This is a chance to discover new foods and develop new tastes.
That said, I miss pizza. I know if I eat gluten and cheese my skin will break out for a month, my tummy will rumble (that’s the G-rated version) and my joints will hurt. It’s not worth it. But I love pizza! So I decided to make a new kind of pizza using my beloved spaghetti squash.
The whole family was happy. And since this is a dish you layer in each individual bowl, everyone had what they wanted. My husband and daughter had cheese, and I had olives. We all had different veggies and we were all satisfied.
Start with a bowl of spaghetti squash. To find out how to best cook spaghetti squash, check out my spaghetti squash blog post.
Then top it with ground pork seasoned with classic pizza seasonings. If you’re not a fan of pork, feel free to use chicken, beef or even just diced ham or pepperoni. We are making pizza after all.
After this, everyone can add their favorite pizza ingredients. I added roasted veggies to mine because I LOVE veggies on pizza. This is a part you can totally customize. I used broccoli, bell pepper, and onion. I LOVE broccoli on pizza. This was an option at Mod Pizza and I was hooked. If that’s not your jam, use a different veggie or leave it out.
Then come the olives, the warmed sauce and the optional cheese. I left the cheese off and was still very satisfied.
So enjoy your “pizza.” It won’t taste exactly like pizza. It won’t feel exactly like pizza. But it will be a delicious, healthy dinner that even picky kids will enjoy.
Best Gluten-Free Substitutions
I’ve decided to start a series of posts to share my favorite allergy-friendly food substitutions. We’re going to start with the biggest offender: gluten. Gluten sensitivity is becoming more and more common. Luckily, with all the great alternatives, it’s becoming easier all the time to go gluten-free. Here are some of my favorite gluten-free substitutions.
Healthy Remake: No-Bake Cookies (Vegan, No Sugar)
When I was a kid, I was basically a professional at making no-bake cookies. This was kind of awesome because my mom (who is a great cook) could not make them. Since she loved them so much, I got to make them a lot. My BFF and I still reminisce about how we used to come home from school and make no-bake cookies in my mauve and mint Formica-clad kitchen. Awe the 90’s.
Fast forward a couple of decades. I’m still a big fan of no-bake cookies. There are few better treats in my opinion. The problem is, the butter and milk are a problem for me. I cannot do dairy unless I want to spend the next week covered in rashes and acne. Since I don’t think it’s fair to have acne and gray hair, I try to avoid dairy (and I don’t really like scratching all day).
But being the amazingly caring wife I am, I told my husband I’d make him ANYTHING he wanted for his birthday dessert. His answer: no bake cookies. I looked at him for a moment like he’d just kicked my childhood puppy. How could he do this to me??? I couldn’t even lick the pan! I decided to put my wants aside and make him his treat… sort of.
Yes, I made him a batch of standard no-bake cookies full of butter, milk and sugar. They were fabulous, of course, but I knew my self control would get the better of me. I got out a smaller saucepan and made some dairy-free no-bake cookies at the same time. The success had me almost in tears. I licked the pan, I ate the cookies and I was even able to keep them all to myself because they all wanted Daddy’s cookies. It was pretty awesome.
Since I was making my own batch and since sugar doesn’t exactly make me feel awesome either, I used Lakanto sugar substitute (monk-fruit/erythritol combination). You could use plain cane sugar instead, but I was very satisfied with the substitute.
The thing I really love about these cookies is that they are stable at room temperature. So often when I make a “substitute” it has to be kept in the fridge or freezer or it will just turn into a puddle. These stored fine at room temperature in a glass container. Not that they were around long…
This recipe is gluten-free and vegan so it’s versatile enough to take to events or share with friends. Now my husband can ask for no-bake cookies anytime and I can still be an awesome wife without sulking.
Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Cauliflower Hummus
I love hummus! I eat it on veggies, on wraps, on hot dogs (way better than ketchup) and on a well-rounded spoon. I decided I wanted to make my own, but I also wanted to up my veggie consumption. Since vegetables are amazing and we all need more, I’m always trying to find a way to get more in my diet. So I decided to replace the beans with roasted cauliflower and see how that worked out for me.
My life will never be the same. It’s DELICIOUS! If you’re not a big fan of cauliflower, give it a try and see what you think. The addition of tahini and the red peppers, plus the smoky flavors from the cumin and paprika cover any cauliflower taste and make this amazing! I mostly use this as a vegetable dip for broccoli and carrots, upping my veggie intake even more. This is also delicious with crackers or plantain chips. If you’re sensitive to tahini, cashew butter works as well, but the tahini gives it a bit more flavor. If I use cashew butter, I sometimes add a bit more cumin and paprika.
I’m also willing to make this homemade “hummus” because it’s super easy to make, freezes well, and lasts longer in the fridge than traditional hummus. Because I line my sheet pan with parchment paper, the only big dish I have to clean is the food processor bowl.
I just throw it all in together to mix, so there is no order to the ingredients. The only part that takes effort (if you can even call it effort) is scraping down the sides of the food processor bowl between blending. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to use a blender. Just make sure to continue to scrape down the sides.
I’m so happy with the results, I plan to change up the flavors and see what else I can come up with. Stay tuned!
Gluten-Free Brownie Pudding Cake
When I was a kid, my mom would make brownie pudding cake on cold, wet days. It was so comforting topped with a big scoop of whipped cream that melted into the gooey chocolate. It really doesn’t get more comforting than that. One bowl of that and every problem would disappear. It was basically unicorn tears topped with whipped unicorn tears. Tears of joy that is. There’s no room for sadness here. Best. Thing. Ever.
A few weeks ago we got one of those miserable spring snow storms. Snow in winter is expected, but snow when I’ve spent the last week in skirts and flip flops? Not cool. I needed some warm gooey comfort. But I didn’t want the next day sugar/gluten hangover I get. So I set out to make a grain-free, low sugar version. I was so pleased with the results, the unicorns and I cried together.
This brownie pudding cake is super rich and dark. If you don’t like it that dark, up the sugar and down the cocoa powder. But I can’t image finding comfort from chocolate that isn’t dark chocolate. That’s just me though…
The reason this is so good is that it’s a moist rich cake with a gooey, smooth inside. I topped it with whipped coconut cream that melted into the warm cake just like the version from my childhood. It was so nostalgic I felt like putting on my rainbow bright leg warmers.
This cake comes together in three layers that all come together to make a gooey bowl of joy.
The cake layer:
The topping layer:
The boiling water which makes a crispy top and a gooey middle:
You can’t look at this without smiling.
Grain-Free Chicken Parmesan
My daughter has eczema. She comes by it honestly. She inherited it from me. I inherited it from my mom. My mom from her mom; her mom from her mom, etc, etc, etc. We may be able to trace this back to Eve. Two years ago I gave up grains because my joints are awful and I found a grain-free diet helped a lot. I also noticed that after over 30 years, my eczema cleared up significantly. YAY!!
So when my daughter was on the ground sobbing because her legs were bleeding I decided she should try to go gluten free. A month later, her legs looked completely different. I was shocked at the improvement. I think they’d clear up even more if she gave up dairy, but I want it to be her choice and she said she’d stick with giving up gluten for now.
The point is, with her dietary restrictions and mine, we’ve had to get creative. A few weeks ago she and I were watching The Pioneer Woman (one of our favorite bonding activities) and drooling over her chicken Parmesan. My daughter asked, “Can we please make that?!” I couldn’t let her down so we gave it a try. I wanted to make a grain-free but delicious version of this classic comfort food. We were all pleased with the results.
The process was similar to classic chicken Parmesan. The only difference was the mixture.
Rather than use bread crumbs, I made a mixture of almond flour, tapioca flour, Parmesan cheese and spices.
After I coated the chicken in eggs, I dipped it in the “breading” and fried it in a skillet with a little coconut oil. I used chicken thighs because I like them better than breasts, but use what works for you. The process is the same.
Here is where you have to make a decision. If you like your chicken Parmesan crispy, remove it from the skillet top it with hot marinara sauce and sprinkle the cheese on top. If you want it softer, pour the marinara over the chicken and sprinkle the cheese on top while the chicken is still in the pan. Let this heat until the cheese melts.
My husband and daughter prefer this over gluten-free spaghetti noodles. I serve mine over a huge handful of spinach. The heat from the chicken wilts the spinach a bit but it gives it great flavor and crunch. Plus it’s a great way to add in some extra vegetables.
A word about marinara sauce. I’m happy to report that it’s becoming much easier to find a marinara sauce without sugar. But be sure to read your labels! The cheapest I’ve found is the Trader Joe’s brand that comes in a can. No sugar, low price and delicious. If you want to save even more money, make my No-Sugar Marinara Sauce.
Healthy Remake: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Soup with Apple Relish
A few weeks ago I was more stressed than usual. I decided the thing that would decrease my stress would be to organize my pantry. I know this doesn’t make a ton of sense, but you people like me (Type A and slightly OCD) understand how a well-organized pantry can lower stress.
In my organization, I stacked 13 cans of pumpkin puree. Thirteen!! That’s when I knew I had a problem. But since it is fall, I decided to put that pumpkin to good use and not just for pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes… I really want some pumpkin right now.
I immediately thought of this amazing pumpkin soup I had a few weeks ago. My friend had a pumpkin party (best idea ever, right?) and made this amazing pumpkin soup from Rachael Ray (click here for original recipe). But I was sad when I saw the recipe and realized it included flour and diary. The soup is actually pretty healthy in its original version but if you are like me and swell up in your joints and gut if you eat gluten or dairy, you’ll appreciate my dilemma.
I decided to make the soup but change the ingredients and adjust them to still get the same creamy consistency without the flour. I also wanted to up the protein with some chicken. I’m pleased to report I was very successful. My whole family loved this soup.
The best part is that it comes together in one pan. Start by sauteing the vegetables in the butter.
The bulk of this soup comes from three cans. How easy is that?! Just a can of chicken stock, a can of pumpkin and a can of coconut milk.
Then it gets some great flavor from the nutmeg and bay leaves.
After this simmers together, just add some cooked chicken pieces. We use thighs because we like them better than breasts, but any chicken will work great.
As far as the relish goes, I left it completely the same as the original recipe but replaced the Craisins with raisins. It’s close to impossible to find dried cranberries without added sugar, so I opted for the raisins. The flavor was still amazing. I also left out the chili as I knew that would not impress my 5-year-old.
Now I have 12 cans left of pumpkin in my pantry. Guess I’ll have to try one of these (click here for a link to some great pumpkin recipes).
The Easiest Meatballs You’ll Ever Make
You know what makes me crazy? (I promise it won’t be a long tirade this time) Meatballs. By the name we should be able to infer it’s just a delicious ball of meat. Sadly this is not the case. Next time you go to the store, check the back on a bag of meatballs. All meatballs are made with bread crumbs but often also have soy, sugar and even corn syrup. Why must we defile a beautiful ball of meat this way?
Because meatballs are an important part of life, I came up with my own recipe with, wait for it… MEAT! Aside with the meat and an egg to bind it together, the only other ingredients in these meatballs are Italian spices and seasonings to make said meat taste amazing. The best part is, these meatballs are SOOO easy to make. Way easier than a meatball full of strange ingredients.
At first I chopped my onion and garlic with a knife. I realized they weren’t chopped finely enough but decided I was way too lazy to try to chop them smaller. I threw them in my mini food processor and they were finely diced in about five seconds. That moment changed my life. I decided to never use a knife to chop onions again. I feel a freedom I haven’t felt since the day I graduated from college.
See that cute, little hand. That’s my 5-year-old daughter. She loves to help me cook.
The key to a tender, juicy meatball is to mix everything but the meat together first. I learned this tip on the Food Network. Thanks celebrity chefs. After I mixed the onion, garlic and seasonings together with a fork, I added in the meat.
Another key to a great meatball is to use your hands to mix it together once you add the meat. No it’s not your most glamorous moment, but you can’t mix everything properly with a spoon. You need to use your hands.
I like to bake my meatballs rather than fry them because it’s a lot less work. Once you bake them you have two options. At this point, you can stick them in a freezer bag and have delicious, Italian meatballs for another day. Or, you can simmer them in my sugar-free marinara sauce (click here for recipe).
When I make them for my family, they eat them over a whole grain pasta. I eat mine over a bed of spinach. I love the slight wilting the heat gives the spinach, which makes it warm but still slightly crunchy.