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Monday, September 22, 2014

Probiotic-rich Vegan Banana Chai Smoothie

Do you have belly troubles? You know what I'm talking about ... I'm not going to spell out all the digestive woes one could be confronting!

Over the past few years, I have hardly had to think about my belly's workings, thanks in large part to probiotics. What's a probiotic? Helpful bacteria that help your digestive system work its best. Since I started taking a probiotic supplement every morning, I haven't really had to give my tummy a second thought. And that's just how I like it.

The folks at GoodBelly sent me coupons so I could try their 12 Day Challenge. I was very excited to give their probiotic juices and shots a try. They are vegan, though not all of their varieties are gluten-free (some use non-gluten-free oat flour). Look for the green cap if you need it to be gluten-free.

Why a 12 Day Challenge? The folks behind GoodBelly believe that you need a little while (12 days) to give these helpful bacteria a chance to do their thing, so you can reap the positive results. Like I said, I have been taking a probiotic every morning for a few years, so I already had the good effects.

I really enjoyed trying different products and seeing how my family (particularly my sometimes fussy kids) would enjoy the flavors of the GoodBelly products. We really liked them.

Of course, just trying the juices straight wasn't enough for me. I had to mix them up into a recipe. This smoothie combines the probiotic goodness of GoodBelly with fiber- and potassium-rich bananas, protein-loaded hemp seeds, and one of fall favorites -- chai. To make this a quick breakfast, break ripe bananas into chunks and freeze them so they will be ready when you need them.

For gluten-free, use the fermented coconut water, if you don't need it to be gluten-free, you can use the Vanilla Chamomile shot.

Banana Chai Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free)
Makes 1 serving

  • 1 serving of GoodBelly probiotic drink (fermented coconut water for gluten-free, vanilla chamomile shot if you don't need it to be gluten-free)
  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1 cup brewed chai (I used a caffeine-free roobois version.)
  • 2 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds or hemp hearts (I used Bob's Red Mill.)
  • sprinkling of cinnamon

  1. Blend all ingredients, but cinnamon, until well combined.
  2. Sprinkle on cinnamon before serving.

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lunch Ideas (vegan, gluten-free, food allergy safe)

One of the best parts of blogging over these past several years has been meeting new people who have become friends. One of my friends, Shirley Braden from Gluten-Free Easily, recently introduced me to someone I hope will become a new friend. Sunny from And Love It Too writes a wonderful gluten-free and dairy-free blog that features lots of great recipes.

Sunny has been hosting a month-long feature of Healthy Lunchbox Ideas. I am flattered to be included among the many other fabulous contributors. I included a tip and a recipe in my post.

My tip is this: I compile a list of no-complaint lunches with my boys. This is an agreed-upon list that I feel comfortable sending, and my kids will eat. Each of these lunch entrees meets their need for lunches that not only taste good, but have an acceptable texture after sitting in a lunchbox for the morning and are cool enough to unpack and eat in front of friends without ridicule. This is a tall order with a middle schooler! 

Although I fantasize about adorable Bento box lunches as seen on Pinterest, our fare is much more straightforward. If I pack a lunch from the list (for example, hummus sandwich, sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich, mac & cheese in a thermos, pizza, etc.) they agree to eat it and not to complain. So far, so good!

Chocolate Sunflower Spread for Lunch (vegan, gluten free, food allergy safe)
Chocolate Sunflower Spread

I don't often pack a treat, but once in a while I like to wow them. The Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan, gluten-free and food-allergy safe) that I shared on And Love It Too do just that!

Need some No-Complaint Lunch Inspiration?

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Strawberry Hemp Milk (vegan, non-dairy milk)

I came up with the original idea to write Super Seeds, because I over the past few years, I've been using these little power-packed beauties to easily boost the nutrition in my everyday meals. Quinoa, flaxseed, amaranth, hemp seed and chia seed make it easier than ever for me to ensure that my family is eating well.

Last week, I told you about how to make basic hemp milk, using shelled hemp seeds (or hemp hearts) and water. In my house, we don't usually use straight hemp milk for drinking, but rather use it in recipes.

Non-dairy, nut-free strawberry hemp milk

One way that we've been enjoying our hemp milk is to turn it into Strawberry Hemp Milk. Inspired by a kids' favorite, "I'm Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed," by Lauren Child, where pink milk is served to three tigers, we wanted to make our own pink milk.

You can feel good about serving this pink milk to any tigers (or people) who might need a bedtime drink.

Strawberry Hemp Milk (vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free)
Makes 4 cups

  • 1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1-2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups strawberry slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Ice (optional)

  1. Blend all hemp seeds and water thoroughly.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend well.
Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Win a Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher, $69.95 value

For someone who writes recipes, maybe surprisingly, I use a fair amount of convenience foods. Even though I like to make my own pasta sauce, I almost always have a jar or two of sauce in my pantry. The same goes for refried beans. Life with busy schedules and juggling jobs, means sometimes (often) I need a little help wherever I can find it.

Even though I buy packaged non-dairy milk (and there is an ever-increasing variety available!), I am thrilled that I can always make some healthy, protein-rich hemp milk whenever I need it for a recipe or for my coffee or tea or to add to cereal or oatmeal.

Combine hemp hearts or hemp seeds with water to make your own hemp milk.
Shelled hemp seeds and water combine to make do-it-yourself hemp milk.

Making your own hemp milk could not be easier! All you need are shelled hemp seeds (or hemp hearts, as they are sometimes called) and water. Then you blend them together. That's it. You can add some sweetener like agave or maple syrup and a pinch of salt for taste. You can filter it through a nut bag or coffee-filter-lined strainer for texture. For basic hemp milk, though, all you need is hemp seeds and water. I used hemp milk all the time while I was writing the recipes for Super Seeds. It's packed with nutrition from the hemp seeds -- fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and zinc -- and it's creamy, easy-to-use and delicious. 

Check back for a recipe for Strawberry Hemp Milk (or Pink Milk) in a few days. 

Basic Hemp Milk
Makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 5 to 6 cups water 
  • Optional: agave, maple syrup, coconut nectar, pinch of salt

  1. Blend all ingredients.
  2. Strain if desired.

If your water has a distinctive taste, though, you are going to want to use filtered water. The folks from ClearlyFiltered sent me a water filter pitcher to try. I really like this pitcher. According to the company, the filter will last for up to 200 gallons, unlike the 26 or 40 gallons that other brands can filter. Their literature also states that ClearlyFiltered can eliminate almost all chlorine, fluoride, lead, mercury, & chromium 6.

I love that you don't have to remember to change the filter all the time. I also love that I can offer one of these pitchers to one lucky reader! The folks at ClearlyFiltered sent me two pitchers. One to try and one to giveaway. This giveaway is only for readers from the United States or Canada, sorry!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received two ClearlyFiltered water pitchers from the company; one for my consideration and one I am giving away. Any opinions are my own.  

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Have you ever had a friend who makes you want to be a better version of yourself?

I have a friend like that. My friend Stacy Snyder, the no-BS mama behind the awesome parenting blog, Parent Unplugged, makes me want to be a braver version of myself. When I see her face life head-on, she makes me want to try new things, too. 

On my road to living life more bravely, I participated in a live storytelling event at Martyrs' in Chicago. This is an incredible music club (and I have been to a whole lot of music venues). They book awesome acts, have a great stage and a really cool vibe. 

Kate Hill, one of the owners of Martyrs' is a creative and community-building force. She and a partner, Dee, have put together a new live storytelling monthly event called Louder Than A Mom. They asked me to tell a story, and I took a deep breath, and worked on one that fit the theme of summer camp or summer vacation.

I thought I'd take a break from food and share it with you. 

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Glutenfree, Nutfree Chickpea Hemp Vegan Burgers
These tender burgers don't need many ingredients to taste delicious.

We just got back from a family vacation that involved a 14-hour drive. That equates to a whole lot of not-so-great-for-you food if you're in my family.

After indulging on vacation, and then eating a lot of easy food on the road, I really needed something fresh (but easy, I'm still unpacking!) that I could feed my guys.

These burgers use one of my favorite ingredients, hemp seeds for their nutty flavor, high protein content and lots and lots of nutrients. (They are one of the seeds featured in my new book, SUPER SEEDS.) They get a freshness punch from parsley and rolled oats (gluten-free if you need it) helps hold them together.

I served these tender burgers with a baked potato and some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. You could also wrap them in a lettuce leaf or tortilla or serve them on your favorite bun.

I hope you're enjoying easy-going days and tasty treats this summer!

Chickpea Hemp Vegan Burgers (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free)
Makes 4 burgers

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed or 1 3/4 cups cooked
  • 2 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds (or hemp hearts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats or old-fashioned oats (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, but not brown (a couple of minutes).
  3. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients including sauteed vegetables until blended together. The beans should still have some texture, but there shouldn't be any whole beans left. Don't wipe out skillet.
  4. Reheat skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Form bean mixture into four patties.
  6. Cook on each side until brown, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side. 
Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Pigs! Chickens! Goats! Cows!

On our summer trip, my family and I visited the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. While were there, we learned a lot about the hardships faced by farm animals, and we got to meet and pet and play with some pretty amazing characters!

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Our tour guide, Scott, taught us a lot about the suffering farm animals face in our modern animal agriculture system. We saw veal crates, hen cages and other artifacts. We learned about the strong bond between mother animals and their babies (did you know that a mother hen can communicate with her chick while its still inside the egg?!), and the relationships among animals. Seeing the hens playing together and the goats hanging out together and the cows nuzzling each other was one of the best parts of the tour.

My favorite part of the experience was interacting with the animals. Right when we got there, we were greeted by two goats who were just hanging out. There were chickens and turkeys walking around. Once the tour started, though, that's when we really got to meet some of the feathered and furry residents of the sanctuary.

Woodstock Animal Sanctuary

It turns out, pigs LOVE to get their bellies rubbed. 

Our trip was full of beautiful and exciting experiences, but both of my boys will tell anyone who asks that visiting Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary was the high point of the vacation. If you find yourself in upstate New York, I strongly urge you to visit. If you want to donate to a good cause, check 'em out for that, too!

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

SUPER SEEDS: The Complete Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Chia, Flax, Hemp, Quinoa & Amaranth

I am so excited for you all to see the beauty that is SUPER SEEDS! I can say that since I had nothing to do with the gorgeous photos or super-cute design. All of the recipes are vegan, almost all are either gluten-free or have a gluten-free option, and almost all have a nut-free and soy-free option, too.

This week I whipped up a batch of the brownies from SUPER SEEDS. They use chia as the egg replacer, and I since I almost always have some on hand, it was easy to indulge our desire for a sweet treat.

Seeing that container of brownies sitting on my counter gave me an irresistible urge to transform those chocolatey treats into an ice cream. With a container of light coconut milk in the pantry and my ice cream maker ready to go, we were enjoying this delicious ice cream for dessert in just a couple of hours!

Vegan, gluten-free Brownie Ice Cream from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a lidded container, and fluff with it a fork every half hour or so, until it's frozen.

Since you don't have the SUPER SEEDS brownie recipe yet (though you can pre-order the book, so you're ready as soon as it ships), you can use the one from Welcoming Kitchen.

Vegan, gluten-free, allergy-safe brownie ice cream?  Now that's something to scream about!

Brownies & Cream Ice Cream (vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free)
Makes 4 servings

  • 1 14-ounce can of light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar (evaporated cane juice or coconut palm sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups brownie chunks

  1. Combine all ingredients except brownies in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir over heat until sugar is completely dissolved (2 or 3 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat, pour into a non-reactive bowl, and chill in refrigerator for an hour (or more.)
  4. Prepare according to ice cream maker's directions.
  5. Add brownie chunks in last couple of minutes of freezing.
  6. Ice cream will have a soft-serve consistency straight from the machine.  For firmer ice cream, chill in the freezer for another hour or two. 
Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer is here, and it's time for cool treats. One of my favorite ways to dress up ice cream is to puree some fruit and turn it into a sundae!  Any fruit can work beautifully in this. Try pureed peaches with vanilla ice cream or raspberries with chocolate. Add spices or liqueurs to jazz things up.

Dairy-Free Fruit Sundae 

(Makes 4 Sundaes)

1 cup hulled strawberries
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 pint strawberry coconut milk ice cream (or another flavor)
1/4 cup coconut flakes

In a blender, puree strawberries and pineapple.  (Or use other fruit of your choosing.)
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toss coconut flakes until very lightly toasted, approximately one or two minutes.
In a glass or dessert dish, spread a layer of sauce, add a couple of scoops of ice cream, and top with flaked coconut.
Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I used to work in a building that housed a senior citizen center. There were chess classes, discussion and exercise groups and Scrabble tournaments. I got to know a lot of wonderful people at the center. One of my favorites was a woman named Helen. She was funny and smart and had a super-sunny personality. She also was a phenomenal baker. She introduced me to some of my lasting favorites, including pineapple upside cake.

Pineapples have been pretty affordable lately at my market. I couldn't resist giving Pineapple Upside Down Cake a Welcoming Kitchen makeover. This cake is gluten-free, vegan and free of the top 8 allergens. I also made a couple of other adjustments. I used succulent fresh pineapple sliced super thin instead of canned pineapple, I left out the dye-filled maraschino cherries, and enhanced the tropical beauty by using coconut milk.

You can freeze the leftover coconut milk for later use or sub out a different non-dairy milk, if you prefer. Also, I used brown sugar and evaporated cane juice to keep it more the way I remembered it. If you prefer coconut palm sugar, you could sub it for both of the sugars.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, allergen-free)
Makes 8 slices

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut palm sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, gently melted
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) oat flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (evaporated cane juice or coconut palm sugar)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (light is ok)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cover the bottom of a springform pan with a piece of parchment paper. Snap the sides onto the pan.
  3. Spread melted coconut oil over the bottom of the parchment-covered pan. Also, oil the sides a little.
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bottom of the pan. Lay pineapple in a single layer on top of brown sugar.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  6. Mix in applesauce, coconut milk and vanilla.
  7. Stir apple cider vinegar into batter.
  8. Spread batter over pineapple.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Remove cake and set on a cooling rack.  Loosen sides of cake pan. Let cool 10 minutes.
  11. Remove sides of pan.  Invert cake onto a serving plate.  

I shared this recipe at Totally Talented Tuesdays!

Happy Cooking!

My new book, SUPER SEEDS, is available for pre-order now. You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Gentle Barn Book Review by Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

I am a person with small dreams. I am content working for someone else (for the past 11 years, a non-profit that works with homeless women and victims of domestic violence, WINGS). Although I support big causes, I do it in little ways. I make a donation, I volunteer, I host a mini-fundraiser.

Maybe that's why I am so awed by other people's big accomplishments. I cannot even begin to fathom how you would go from an idea to a huge organization.

That is exactly what Ellie Laks did with The Gentle Barn, an animal rescue sanctuary that couples caring for animals with outreach programs for at-risk youth. How did she get to the point that she has saved so many animals and reached the hearts of hundreds of children?

She spells out her journey in her memoir, My Gentle Barn. When faced with adversity, whether personal, financial or even catastrophic, Ellie continued on her journey one step at a time to build a place of peace and caring. I am glad that she did.

If you want to learn more about Ellie's journey to create The Gentle Barn, her book will show you. If you want a story about how one person's dream can be transformed into a reality that affects the lives of many, her book will do that, too.

Required FTC discosure: I received a copy of My Gentle Barn to review. I received no other compensation, and any opinions are my own.

Happy Cooking!

Find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freedom Foods, allergen-free, gluten-free cereal

When my son, Casey, was first diagnosed with food allergies about 10 years ago, trying to figure out what packaged foods might work for us was a real challenge. Today, that job is so much easier (not to mention tastier)! There are more and more companies catering to folks with food allergies and intolerances, and the products out there -- from cereal to yogurt to cookies -- get better all the time.

Freedom Foods, a cereal company from Australia, contacted me to tell me that their cereal line is now available in the United States. They sent me 6 kinds of allergy-safe cereal to try. 
  • Tropic Os
  • Maple Crunch
  • Pro-Teen Crunch
  • Ancient Grain Flakes
  • Corn Flakes
  • Rice Flakes

Their contamination-prevention policies are really fantastic. They explain it in great detail on their website, but basically they control what goes into their cereals from field to box, and they test along the way to be sure it's safe. All of the cereals are free from gluten, wheat, nuts, soy, eggs, dairy and sesame.

We ate the cereals for breakfast and I worked with them a bit in the kitchen. They are not overly sweet, which I appreciated and the flakes were really crunchy. They were all pretty popular, and we ended up going through all of the boxes without leaving any behind. The Tropic Os were not a huge hit, but my family doesn't really care for fruit-flavored cereal, so it might have been just due to preference.

I couldn't just leave it at cereal and non-dairy milk! I had to give them a little workout in the kitchen. I tried to make a natural rice crispy treat with the Rice Flakes. That didn't work out too well, as the cereal got soggy.

Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups, gluten-free & vegan

These Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups, though, were fantastic! They are crunchy and chocolaty with just a hint of toasted coconut goodness. If Freedom Foods hasn't made its way to your town yet, you could make these with any crispy rice cereal.

Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free)
Makes 18 candies 

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Flakes cereal (or crisp rice cereal)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

  1. In a dry pan over medium heat, lightly toast coconut flakes until lightly golden and fragrant (a minute or two).
  2. Mix coconut with cereal.
  3. In a small pot, melt chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring continuously until halfway melted. Turn off heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.  
  4. Mix cereal mixture into chocolate. Stir to coat.
  5. Drop mixture by the tablespoon into candy papers.
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour to harden.
Disclosure: I received 6 boxes of cereal for review and no other compensation. The opinions are my own.

Happy Cooking!

Find more tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.