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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

When I transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a full vegan diet 17 years ago, one of the things that I worried about was how difficult it would be to eat fully plant based. How I wish I had a copy of Laura Theodore's new book, Vegan-Ease, back then!

Not only is this book full of delicious recipes, but Laura's concept makes cooking plant-based completely approachable. She breaks the book into Ease Levels -- based on availability of ingredients and time spent prepping and cooking. 

You might be familiar with Laura and her work on the Jazzy Vegetarian show on PBS and Prime video or her radio show on the Unity network and podcast. Laura brings an upbeat attitude to all things vegan. 

Laura is well versed in what it takes to make cooking and eating vegan enjoyable, and she includes mountains of tips -- from menus to shopping lists to full nutrition information -- to take the worry away from being vegan.

I really love the concept of this book. (Note, that many of the ingredients contain common allergens, as this is not marketed as an allergy-friendly book. All recipes are free of milk, eggs, fish, and shellfish.)

Laura shared her recipe for Lentil, Brown Rice and Carrot Stew with us today. Thank you, Laura!

Photo reprinted from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease.

Lentil, Brown Rice and Carrot Stew

Recipe excerpt from: Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease

Makes 6 to 8 servings / Ease Factor 3          

This delightfully fragrant and satisfying stew makes impressive fall fare. The garlic adds real pizzazz without overwhelming the other ingredients. Make this dish the star of your menu on a chilly late summer evening or cold autumn night.

4½ cups cubed zucchini (cut in 1- to 1½-inch cubes)

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 2⁄3 cups sliced carrots

1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed

1 cup green lentils, sorted, cleaned and rinsed

1 small sweet onion, chopped

¼ cup sliced fresh garlic

2 large vegan bouillon cubes

1½ teaspoons tamari

10 cups water

3 cups lightly packed, thinly sliced kale

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put the zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, rice, lentils, onion, garlic, bouillon cube and tamari in a large soup pot. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Add the kale, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the basil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are soft. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot with crusty whole-grain bread and a crisp green salad on the side.

Photo Credit: Laura Theodore


Recipe from Laura Theodore's Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet  ©Laura Theodore 2015, 2020. Reprinted by permission. More information at Signed copy on sale, available here. Available on Amazon here.


Happy Cooking!


My new book, The Oat Milk Cookbook is available now!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Vegan Lasagna

Getty Images Plus/iStock: IriGri8

One of the things I love most about working with oat milk is how incredibly versatile it is. Of course, it's creamy and delicious in coffee drinks, but this versatile plant-based milk can do so much more than that.

Some of my favorite recipes from The Oat Milk Cookbook (and really I love them all) are:

  • Vegan French Toast
  • Raspberry Muffins
  • Mixed Berry Baked Oatmeal
  • Frozen Hot Chocolate
  • Pesto Pizza
  • Spinach and Artichoke Strata
  • Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup
  • and Chocolate Pudding
The Oat Milk Cookbook

Really, though, I'm a huge fan of lasagna. This one gets its creamy lusciousness from Cauliflower Oat Cream. Use your favorite lasagna noodles (gluten-free work beautifully) and layer away to a comforting, company-ready dinner!

I had a great time talking about all things oat milk with the amazing Laura Theodore of The Jazzy Vegetarian. You can hear our conversation from her radio show here. One of the recipes we talked about was the Cauliflower Oat Cream featured in this lasagna. 

Vegan Lasagna

Makes 9 servings


1 pound lasagna noodles

3 cups pasta sauce

1 batch Cauliflower Oat Cream (see below)

1/2 cup vegan mozzarella shreds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375.

Prepare the lasagna noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles.

Spread a layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Place a layer of lasagna noodles on top of the pasta sauce.

Using a soft spatula, spread one-third of the cauliflower oat cream over the noodles.

Cover the cauliflower oat cream with pasta sauce. Place another layer of lasagna noodles over the pasta sauce and top with another layer of cauliflower oat cream.

Repeat for one more layer.

If you'd like to use them, sprinkle the vegan mozzarella shreds over the top.

Bake the lasagna, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Cauliflower Oat Cream

Makes approximately 2 cups


1 head cauliflower, chopped, leaves and stem removed

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

3/4 cup oat milk


Preheat the oven to 450.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft.

Place the cauliflower mixture in a blender. Add the oat milk and puree until the consistency is smooth and creamy. 

Happy Cooking!


Monday, August 10, 2020

I am so excited about my new book, The Oat Milk Cookbook! Oat milk is so versatile and delicious. The book is chock full of recipes from coffee drinks to entrees to baked goods and desserts. 

The Oat Milk Cookbook has recipes for almost every dietary need:
  • All of the recipes are vegan.
  • Most of the recipes are gluten-free or have a gluten-free option.
  • Most of the recipes are soy-free.
  • Most of the recipes are either nut-free or have a nut-free option.
Most importantly, all of the recipes are easy and delicious. 

You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookstore or online at:

Thank you for your support over all of these years!

Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Creative Solutions for Food Allergy Problems

All cooks face the question, "What should I make?"

Answering this question takes on added challenges when facing the constraint that is the reality of cooking for someone with food allergies (or other special diets).

You can see the challenge as a hurdle, or you can view it as a puzzle that requires creativity to solve.

I choose to embrace the challenge that multiple food allergies has provided our family.

What are some of the tools that I have utilized to meet the test of food allergies?

Creative Solutions for Food Allergy Problems

  1. I take full advantage of the ingredients that are still available to us. I relish the many flavors and textures of foods that are safe for our family. There is a wide world of fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and seeds that are absolutely safe for my son and our family.
    Creative Solutions for Food Allergy Problems

  2. I seek out new ingredients (new to me) that make it easy to substitute for foods that are not safe for our family. That is what has led me to embrace chia seeds and flax seeds as egg substitutes or hemp seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) as a nut alternative and sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.
    Creative Solutions for Food Allergy Problems

  3. I also adapt recipes from traditional sources to make them safe for my family and guests. For example, I substitute gluten-free oat flour for all-purpose flour; I use non-dairy milk (coconut, oat, hemp, etc.) for cows' milk; and I use safe ingredients like allergy-free chocolate chips instead of brands that aren't safe.
    Creative Solutions for Food Allergy Problems

  4. I make from-scratch alternatives to processed foods that my kids covet and can't have. Added bonus -- when I make my own versions I have complete control over the ingredients!

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life), and  Super Seeds are available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.



Monday, October 22, 2018

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie (Gluten-free, Sugar-free)
Photo credit: Julie Han

Every morning, I make a pot of coffee for my husband and me. We each have a cup, and he takes a to-go cup with him to work. Depending on my day, sometimes I have more coffee, and sometimes I don't. If I don't have a second cup, that can lead to some wasted coffee. So sad.

That got me to thinking. What could I do with that extra coffee if I don't get around to drinking it? The same thing I do with fruit that I won't get around to eating -- freeze it and turn it into a smoothie!

Pour that coffee that you don't need to drink today into ice cube trays. When frozen, transfer those coffee ice cubes to a freezer-safe container for later use.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie (Gluten-free, Sugar-free)

Then, when you need a treat in the afternoon, you can grab a few cubes and blend them with some lovely all-natural ingredients. (Have you ever seen the ingredient list of some popular pumpkin spice lattes? Yuck!) What could be better than a pumpkin-y, spicy, frothy coffee treat? Not much!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free, sugar-free)
Makes 1 2-cup smoothie


blend all ingredients thoroughly.

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Classic Gazpacho - vegan, gluten-free, and food-allergy friendly -

One of my favorite memories is having lunch in the summer with my stepmom. We would have cold gazpacho and talk about everything that was on our minds. 

I still love the fresh, spicy zing of this cold vegetable soup. After a quick trip to the farmers market, I can have lunch for days -- I make a double batch, so I don't eat it all up at once! 

If you think that a cold soup sounds weird, I ask you to give this one a chance. It's delicious and the perfect alternative to a salad on a hot day. Because it's naturally vegan, gluten-free and allergy friendly, it's a great option if you're having friends over for lunch, too.

Classic Gazpacho - vegan, gluten-free, and food-allergy friendly -

Gazpacho (from Welcoming Kitchen)
Makes 4 servings


  • 4 roma (plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 2 tablespoons diced chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Seed and chop tomatoes
2. Chop green pepper.
3. Peel and seed cucumber; then chop.
4. Remove seeds from jalapeño and dice.
5. Toss all ingredients together. Pour into a food processor or blender. Blend until very finely chopped and well blended.
6. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Happy Cooking!

My new book,  Ancient Grains: A Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Millet, Oats, Spelt, Farro, Sorghum & Teff (Superfoods for Life)is available now! Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

As I've said before, our pediatrician suspected that my son had food allergies almost right away. He had severe eczema, breathing problems and vomiting. Though she wanted to wait to test him until he was two, he had already gone to the emergency room several times, and she didn't think we could wait to get more information. She referred us to a local allergist when he was around one year old.

Finding the Right Allergist for You -
This started our journey to find the right allergist for us. Although that first allergist was a nice person, she did not fill us with confidence. She skin tested our baby and told us that he was allergic to peanuts, milk, corn and "a little allergic" to eggs. She did not seem very precise in the testing or in her advice. This was all the advice we had, though, and we were terrified. Learning that the food I was eating, and thereby giving my baby through my breast milk, could make him very sick was beyond frightening. I tried to follow her advice to the T. We went to see this doctor a few times, but felt we were getting differing advice every time. This added frustration on top of constant fear. Needless to say, we were not feeling too good at this time.
Finding the right Allergist for You -

We changed allergists. Our new allergist was affiliated with a top hospital. Her office was very clean, and her staff was kind, knowledgeable and precise. They tested his skin and his blood. We learned that our boy was allergic to walnuts, eggs, and milk. We were advised to avoid all tree nuts and peanuts, too. They gave us specific resources to learn how to read labels for each of his allergens. They taught us how to use the Epi-pen. We had the utmost confidence in their care. The allergist herself was not very warm, but that didn't matter to us. 

We continued with that allergist with annual testing and visits for several years. When our son was six years old, his allergist decided that he should have a dairy challenge. The food challenge is the "gold standard" of food-allergy testing. In a food challenge, your child eats or drinks his allergen in ever increasing increments under the doctor's supervision. We were very nervous before his challenge. I wrote about that experience here

Our son drank the first little bit of chocolate milk, and then they left us to wait. Immediately, he said his tongue was itchy. We called in the nurse, and she examined him. She said he was fine. They left us again. He started vomiting on the floor. The allergist came into the room and told us she would have to stop the challenge. She then told us that we had made him so nervous, that was probably why he vomited. She sent us home feeling awful and unsure.

Although we stayed with her for a few more years, we never felt good about our care again. We trusted her authority, because she was a top allergist in the area and the country, but by blaming us for his reaction, she lost our confidence in her as a care provider.

We changed allergists when my son was 9 years old. He is now 15. Since then, he has had several food challenges with mixed results. In every instance, we have been treated by everyone at our new practice with kindness, caring and with the highest level of professionalism. 

My son was supposed to have a milk challenge again this year. They tested his skin beforehand to be sure it was a good idea. He had a pretty significant reaction to that test, and the doctor decided that he was still allergic without the need for a challenge that would put him at risk of an anaphylactic reaction. I'm going to say that again. He is still allergic to milk 9 years after the challenge the last doctor said we caused him to fail by making him nervous. He did not fail because we made him nervous. He failed because he was allergic to milk.

When he failed his challenge to walnuts, his first symptom was an itchy tongue. Then his eye turned red, which was an unusual reaction, so the challenge continued. It ended after he vomited. He then had an anaphylactic reaction that included hives and impaired breathing and only stopped after getting epinephrine. Itchy tongue and vomiting? Sounds familiar.

I am telling you this story because it took us a long time to find the right allergist home for us. I am fighting tears as I type, because I am so incredibly grateful that we found the doctors and nurses that now help us keep our teenager safe and healthy. If your doctor is not the right fit for you, try another one. It seemed crazy to leave such a well-regarded practice, but I am so glad that we did. (Our current practice is also very well-regarded.)

Happy Cooking!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A review and recipe from Eat Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming -

My friend, Alisa Fleming from Go Dairy Free, has written a comprehensive book for people who eat dairy free. Not only are these recipes dairy-free, but most have been tested with gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free options, too.

I have really been enjoying cooking from this cookbook. I made a batch of the Rich Thai Dip, but I omitted the sesame oil, because I know that some of our Welcoming Kitchen readers need to avoid sesame. I also used sunflower seed butter to keep it nut-free. It was delicious. The tip about steaming the sweet potatoes instead of baking them made this dip a lot quicker to prepare, too.

My family has been enjoying the Cowgirl Cookies in their lunches, and I can't wait to try the Roasted Carrot Bisque. There are so many recipes in here that are solidly delicious. It launches today, so I recommend that you run out and get a copy of Eat Dairy Free.

Rich Thai Dip with Broccoli Trees from Eat Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming 
Makes 6 Servings 

From Alisa: While I truly enjoy this savory, sweet, and spicy thick dip with steamed broccoli, it also goes nicely with bell pepper strips, baby carrots, snap peas, or blanched cauliflower. 

  • 3 or 4 broccoli crowns 
  • 1/2 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (see Sweet Potato Tips below) 
  • 6 tablespoons creamy unsalted almond butter (use sunflower seed or pumpkin seed butter for nut free) 
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons non-GMO soy sauce, wheat-free tamari (for gluten free), or coconut aminos (for soy free) 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or loosely packed brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil 
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger 
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • Water or unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage, as needed 
1. Cut the broccoli into stalks and steam for 3 to 5 minutes. For dipping purposes, broccoli stalks that are relatively crisp-tender work best. 
2. Put the sweet potato, nut butter, 2 tablespoons lime juice or vinegar, soy sauce, sweetener, oil, ginger, and crushed red pepper in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste, and if desired, blend in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon lime juice or rice vinegar. 
3. Serve the dip immediately with the steamed broccoli stalks, or cover and refrigerate it for 1 hour to thicken before serving. If it becomes too thick, whisk in water or milk beverage, 1 teaspoon at a time, to thin. 
4. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

Sweet Potato Tips: To cook whole sweet potatoes, peel and cut them into 1/2-inch disks, then steam for about 15 minutes. Steaming preserves more of the flavor and nutrients than boiling. For a super-fast dip, you can use canned sweet potato puree. If you don’t have sweet potatoes or sweet potato puree on hand, squash, carrot, or pumpkin puree makes a tasty substitute. 

Credit for this Recipe: This recipe is reprinted with permissions from Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets by Alisa Fleming (BenBella Books, 2018). Photo by Nicole Axworthy.

Happy Cooking!