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Friday, April 11, 2014

gluten-free, vegan roasted tomatoes with spinach pasta

I am a fan of fresh, bright flavors when the spring comes. In winter, I'm all about soups and stews, but just like my sweaters, I need to put them away now.

This pasta has delicious, straight-forward flavors, and it tastes amazing. I know it's simple, but sometimes you don't need a lot of flash for something to be really special. 

You can also use fresh herbs, but I think the dried herbs soften up nicely with the juices from the tomatoes and make a special "sauce." Keep the seeds in the tomatoes, because they contribute to a more tomato-y flavor.
Pasta with Herb Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach
Serves 2
  • Pasta cooked according to package directions (I used rice noodles, but your favorite pasta will work well.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fresh)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fresh)
  • sprinkling of sea salt
  • fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Approximately 4 cups of spinach washed and stems removed
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Cut tomatoes in quarters and then cut each quarter in half.
3. Toss tomatoes in half the olive oil.
4. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle herbs over the tomatoes.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. In a small skillet, heat remaining olive oil.  Saute spinach until wilted, stirring constantly.
7. To serve, top prepared noodles with half the spinach and the tomatoes.  Mix it together so the juice from the tomatoes coats the pasta.

Happy Cooking!

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Curried Greens photo from 12 Terrific Detox Recipes courtesy of Stephanie Weaver.

We're all busy. I'm not saying anything you don't live with all day long. 

As much as I love looking through a beautiful cookbook filled with endless possibilities ... and I do love that, I am ever so grateful to find the short, but sweet, e-book series Stephanie Weaver has produced. Hopefully, you know Stephanie from her delectable, but healthy, blog Recipe Renovator. If not, you should hop over there right after you finish reading about her e-books! On her website, Stephanie takes favorite dishes and transforms them into a healthier version of themselves. Who couldn't use a little more healthy deliciousness in their lives?

Stephanie has created a really wonderful series of electronic cookbooks. Her series, called 12 Terrific, each features 12 perfect recipes on a central theme. (Though her low-sodium condiments book actually boasts 20 recipes.) Not only that, but each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photo. 

Some of the titles in the series include:
 I reached out to Stephanie because I wanted to review one of her terrific books for you. I just couldn't pick one, though, because what I really love is all of them! I think you will, too. I figured it was better to just tell you about the series, so you could discover them yourself.

Required Disclosure: I have received some of these e-books from Stephanie Weaver, but the opinions here are my own.

Happy Cooking!

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

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cooking Vegetables with a Sous Vide Supreme, Potato Salad

I have been having a good time trying out my Sous Vide Supreme. After I made the Orange and Cinnamon Butternut Squash, I thought I'd give potatoes a try. 

I am not a fan of traditional potato salad. It's just not my thing.  I do, however, love the idea of creamy, toothsome, potatoes blended with other tasty ingredients. The roasted potato salad in Welcoming Kitchen is one of my favorite bring-along summer dishes.

Potatoes in the Sous Vide Supreme seemed like the ideal way to make potato salad. You don't risk over-boiling the potatoes and ending up with water-logged, mushy bites. I was right! I ended up with potato chunks with just the right texture. Fork tender, but still with a bit of bite. They were a blank canvas on which I could add any flavors I wanted, instead of having to work with the roasted flavor of oven-baked potatoes.

For this potato dish, I kept it simple. I cooked potatoes with red onion, jalapeno peppers and olive oil. Salt and pepper were the only condiments. I served it warm. It was lovely.

For a cold potato salad, I would toss it with a dash of red wine vinegar or a fancy herb vinegar.

This potato salad/dish is one more example of how a Sous Vide Supreme can work beautifully in vegetarian cooking.

Potatoes with Jalapenos and Red Onion
Serves 4-6

  • 3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cubed 1-inch
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, small dice (more seeds = spicier, fewer seeds = milder)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Add all ingredients in cooking bag.
  2. Shake to combine.
  3. Vacuum seal.
  4. Cook in Sous Vide Supreme at 183F for one hour.
  5. If serving cold, put bag in refrigerator.
  6. Toss with a splash of red wine vinegar or herb vinegar before serving, if desired.
 Note: If you do not have a Sous Vide, you can parboil the potato chunks. Then, saute the jalapenos and onion in olive oil until soft, and then add the potatoes until cooked to desired tenderness.

 Required disclosure: I received a Sous Vide Supreme to create 3 recipes. The opinions are my own, and I received no other compensation.

Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sous Vide vegetarian cooking

Have you heard about the Sous Vide water oven?  Maybe you've seen one on a cooking show, or you know that they are used in some of the finest restaurant kitchens.  The makers of Sous Vide sent me one of their new Sous Vide Supreme water ovens.  This compact appliance is just the right size for home cooks.

The funny thing about getting this cool gadget was other people's reactions. Almost every person I told about it said, "But that's for cooking meat!" I understand that it is a fine method for cooking meat, but obviously, that was not what interested me about it.

The Sous Vide Supreme cooks food that's been vacuum-packed in sub-boiling water. This keeps the color, natural sugars, and vitamins intact while keeping the texture fork-tender without being mushy. This excited me to get cooking with my new water oven.

One of the first foods I tried was butternut squash. I frequently roast it, or bake it and mash it. I wanted to see how the texture would marry with bright flavors. Cooking the squash in my Sous Vide Supreme kept the color vivid, the texture tender, but not mushy, and the flavor with my light seasoning was sunny and warm.

sous vide butternut squash vegetable recipe
Dicing the squash was all the effort required for this dish!

It really was easy to use the Sous Vide Supreme. I peeled and chopped my squash. Then I vacuum sealed it in a food-grade bag. Set the oven to 183 degrees Fahrenheit, and dropped in the bag. An hour later, it was hot and ready to eat. One of the bonuses of this kind of cooking is that you can cook several batches at once, and freeze the packages for later use. As a busy mom, that's pretty appealing.

Despite the reactions I got, I can tell you that the Sous Vide Supreme is a useful tool in vegetarian cooking. 

sous vide vegetarian recipe butternut squash

Sous Vide Butternut Squash
Serves 4

  • 3 cups medium diced butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  1. Peel and dice butternut squash.
  2. Preheat Sous Vide Supreme to 183F.
  3. Add squash to bag.
  4. Add remaining ingredients.
  5. Shake to distribute.
  6. Vacuum seal the bag.
  7. Cook for 1 hour.
 Required disclosure: I received a Sous Vide Supreme to create 3 recipes. The opinions are my own, and I received no other compensation.

Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ranch Dressing, food allergy, soyfree, glutenfree, vegan, dairyfree

This has been a winter for the record books where I live. Snow. Freezing Cold. Repeat.

I confess, this has not made me crave salads. It has, in too many instances, crave chocolate and red wine. 

Even I cannot live -- or hope to thrive -- on chocolate and red wine alone.  (Though my Red Wine Chocolate Cake is pretty perfect melding of the two!)

Sometimes a girl needs to eat some vegetables.

How could I bring my desire for comfort food to some fresh greens?

Ranch Dressing! How to make it Welcoming Kitchen-friendly was the question.  I needed to make a ranch dressing that is vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free and that includes soy-free.

You might be asking ... Can you really have a creamy, rich ranch dressing without dairy?
Of course!

I had a jar of Soy-free Vegenaise that the folks from Follow Your Heart wanted me to try. Its cool, creamy deliciousness makes a great vegan mayonnaise alternative. That seemed a good starting point. Mix in some of my favorite creamy ingredient -- non-dairy yogurt -- and I just needed to add some herby goodness.

I added a dollop to a baked potato and mixed in some fresh baby spinach. I loved this lunch so much, I ate it for the next few days.

Vegan, Soy-free Ranch Dressing
Makes slightly more than 1/2 cup


  • 1 6-ounce container plain-flavored coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious brand.)
  • 1/4 cup Soy-free Vegenaise (or other vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients.  
Store in sealed container for up to one week.

Disclosure: I received a jar of Soy-free Vegenaise from Follow Your Heart for review. All opinions are my own. I received no other compensation.

Happy Cooking!

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

food allergy candy, glutenfree, vegan Valentine candy
It's February. 

February means Valentine's Day. Right?

Grocery stores are filled with big red hearts filled with candy. What can you do if that's not the right treat for your sweet?

Maybe you need something allergen-free.
Maybe you want something more natural.
Maybe you need a vegan or gluten-free treat.

What can you give?

How about Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Hearts?
The Surf Sweets company sent me their gummy heart-shaped candies to review. We loved them. They are tangy sweet, chewy, and super cute.

We all tried them as an early Valentine's treat yesterday. They were a hit. When I was shopping this weekend, I saw nice size bags of them at Whole Foods. 

Allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan Valentine
Vanilla Rice Pudding and Strawberry Parfaits

Want to make your own treats? Here are some ideas:

Surf Sweets sent me Organic Fruity Hearts to try and review, but all opinions are my own.
Happy Cooking!

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

vegan glutenfree allergen-free cauliflowe popcorn

Are you looking for a healthy snack to add to your game-day spread?

Hummus, guacamole and salsa all are great options for snacking. Popcorn, even chocolate-covered popcorn, adds whole-grain crunch to your buffet.

One of my new favorites are these smoky, roasted cauliflower bites. The trick is to cut or break your cauliflower into little bits, toss them in a flavor-filled spice mix, and cook them up until they are still tender, but have a bit of crunch.

Smoky Cauliflower Popcorn (vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free)
Makes 2 generous servings

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small bits (about 1/2-inch or so)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread olive oil on paper.
  4. In a small bowl, combine seasonings.
  5. Spread cauliflower on paper
  6. Top with spice mixture.
  7. Stir to evenly coat cauliflower with oil and spices.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  9. Cauliflower is done when it is dark brown in spots, but not burned. 
I shared this with Gluten-free Fridays.
Happy Cooking!

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

Vegan Stock or Broth, glutenfree,
I reuse jars from jam, coconut oil, etc. to store my stock.

I told you about the slow cooker class I ran at our local food pantry.  

One of the things we talked about in the class was how to turn your kitchen scraps into a rich, flavorful vegetable stock.

Kitchen scraps? I mean the odd bits of carrots, onions, onion peel, garlic bits, broccoli stems, scallion greens, etc., that you don't need for a recipe and that often end up in the trash or compost.

Vegetable Broth or Stock, gluten-free, vegan
Kitchen scraps straight from the freezer ready to become stock.

Instead of tossing all those odds and ends, gather them up in a freezer-safe bag or container and put them in the freezer.  Keep adding to your container any time you have some vegetable scraps. You can even include the papery exterior of onions and garlic. Just make sure everything is washed before you cut them up, and you will know that your scraps are clean.

Once you've collected a fair amount of scraps saved (for this batch, I used two quart-size freezer bags), you're ready to convert them into a lovely stock.

Dump the frozen vegetable scraps into your slow cooker. Top with water, leaving a couple of inches at the top. You could be done with it cooking on high for 4 hours, but the flavor will be deeper if you let it cook for 6 to 8.
Slow cooker vegetable broth or stock, vegan and glutenfree
Just add water!

When it's done cooking, strain it through a colander. Use the back of a spoon to press down on the vegetables and get as much liquid out as you can.

You can refrigerate it in jars or freeze it in 2-cup batches for later use.  

This is a basic, unseasoned stock. You can add salt, pepper and other flavors to your liking either when you're making the stock or after it's finished.

With 2 quart bags full of scraps, I got over 3 quarts of vegetable stock. 

You can use your stock as a base for soup, as a cooking medium for rice, quinoa or amaranth.

I shared this post with Wellness Weekend and Gluten-free Fridays.

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, January 16, 2014

vegan glutenfree pumpkin muffins food allergy
Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Over the years that I have been writing cookbooks and this blog, I have been on a journey.

Part of this journey has introduced me to ingredients that I had never heard of before. Some of these ingredients have changed the way that my family and I eat (oat flour, coconut palm sugar, date paste, and on and on). Some have not been good fits for us. (I'll keep those to myself in case they're on your new favorites list.)

Friends have brought new ingredients into my kitchen. For example, Ricki Heller and Amy Green encouraged me to try stevia through their creative recipes found in their books (Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free and Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, respectively) and websites.

I'd like to introduce you to a new friend, Debbie Adler and the ingredient she brought into my kitchen.

In her beautiful new book, Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats: Allergy-free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery, Debbie Adler crafts cookies, cupcakes, donut holes and muffins from organic whole food ingredients and using low-glycemic sweeteners.  Each of the recipes is vegan, gluten-free and free of the top 8 allergens.

I was particularly intrigued by Debbie's use of coconut nectar. She frequently combines coconut nectar with powdered stevia to provide her recipes with some natural sweetness. I had never tried coconut nectar before trying these recipes, and I am so glad Debbie brought this sweetener into my repertoire. It has a caramel-like sweetness and a syrupy consistency. Yum!

We made a couple of recipes from the book, Pumpkin Pie Muffins and Oatmeal Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies. Both were hits with my boys. They had a nice consistency and good flavor, though, neither was overly sweet.

Debbie is generously offering her Pumpkin Pie Muffin recipe to us, and one lucky reader will win a copy of her cookbook.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins (as featured in Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats, used with permission)
Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons sodium-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut nectar
  • 3/8 teaspoon stevia powder
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened plain rice milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. Whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum and salt in a large bowl. make a well in the middle.
  3. Add the grapeseed oil, coconut nectar and stevia and stir to combine. Add the pumpkin puree and rice milk, and stir until the liquid is absorbed and the batter is smooth.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing it evenly. Each cup should be about three-quarters full. Dust the top of each with a sprinkling of cinnamon.
  5. Bake the muffins for 16 to 18 minutes, or until they are golden orange and bounce back slightly to the touch. Rotate the muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking.
  6. Transfer the muffin tin from the oven to a wire rack and let sit for about 10 minutes before removing the muffins to cool completely.
  7. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was give a copy of this book to review, but the opinions here are my own.  I did not receive any other compensation.

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

As a food allergy mom, I have sent so many pieces of cake, slices of safe pizza and other treats along with my kids as they negotiate birthday parties, play dates and sleepovers.  Sending our own food has made it possible for my food-allergic and vegan children to fully participate in fun times with friends, while remaining safe and well-fed.  After losing one-too-many of my lidded glass bowls, I realized the beauty (and necessity) of the reusable plastic container for these kinds of occasions.  An added bonus: I can easily write my child's name and food allergies on the container so that even if I'm not there, the adult doling out the snacks will know what belongs with my son and why.  That is why I am happy to share with you this guest post from my friends at Hefty.
Happy Cooking!

Sending a kid with allergies to a birthday party is always a little nerve-wracking for mothers. Thoughts of “What if my child eats the wrong thing?” will most likely enter your mind, but giving your kid an alternative lunch or allergy-friendly piece of cake is always a good way to help reduce the risk that your child will eat something that they are not supposed to. Sending alternative meals is probably something that you are already familiar with, but finding the right container can sometimes be tricky. It is always good to have several plastic food containers on hand, because they can be reused while not breaking the bank if one or two is misplaced or lost.

Sometimes the toughest part is encouraging your child to eat the food that they brought with them. Try some of these tricks:
  • Decorate the containers so that your child can feel excited about bringing their alternative meal. For example, try using stickers of your child’s favorite TV show.
  • Ask the parent who is planning the birthday party what the menu will be. You could pack something similar so that your child does not feel like he or she is missing out on anything.
  • Put the lunch together in fun ways, like using cute cutouts of fruit.

These tricks can transfer over to regular school lunches, too. For example, you could look at what the lunch of the day would be in the school cafeteria and make an allergy-friendly version of it. Plastic food containers come in handy for school lunches, too. Healthy lunches are usually harder to pack than prepackaged foods, since items like cut fruit need to be stored in something that will keep any liquids from escaping. Plastic food storage containers rise to the challenge! They can also be great for storing small finger foods, too. In fact, you could even steal these containers for your own use! Potlucks are always fun, but choosing how to bring the healthy item that you just cooked can sometimes be a task. The containers make this a little easier, then.

In the end, managing your child’s allergy is not easy, but it doesn’t always need to be hard, either. Making your child’s favorite foods and sending it with them in their lunch or for a birthday party will help them to accept that eating differently from other kids at school can be fun!

Author Bio: This is a guest post by Katie F. on behalf of Hefty®. Visit to find products like trash bags and more to help you out over the holidays.

Image courtesy of tiverylucky at

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Vegan Food Trucks!

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that in October I headed down south to the the Texas Veggie Fair. (If you don't, c'mon join the fun!)

When I told my friends up here in the big city, that I was heading to Texas for a vegan festival, they were incredulous. Texas is the land of bigger-is-better barbecue! What kind of vegan food are you going to get? You're going to be the only person at the fair!

What veg fest is complete without rescue dogs?

This could not have been further from the truth.

Food, Fun and Music!

If you find yourself in the Dallas area next October, I strongly urge you to join the thousands (yes, thousands!) of vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous folks who joined in a day of fun, food, music and rescue dogs that is the Texas Veggie Fair.

I'd eat at Spiral Diner every day if I could.

No trip to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is complete, though, without a trip to the FANTASTIC Spiral Diner! With options for any special diet (loaded salads, GF pasta options, soy-free ice cream options, GF chocolate cupcakes, smoothies and so much more), you will want to eat many meals at this homey restaurant.

Happy Cooking!

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Here are some holiday treats that will delight all of your guests, while being safe for pretty much everyone. These sweeties are all gluten-free, vegan and free of the top-8 allergens.

Enjoy this fun-filled, end-of-the-year holiday season!

Happy Cooking!

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