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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Food Allergy Kids and School Inclusion -

I wrote the post below 5 years ago when Casey was in 3rd grade. Now he's in 8th grade and all I can say is, "The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It definitely gets easier when your child is older. They aren't doing arts and crafts using food, and he is better able to negotiate food-related situations. There is the occasional issue of food-allergy teasing or bullying, but overall it's better.

It's not better for little kids who have food allergies and other intolerances, like celiac, though. Recently some friends were talking on Facebook about how difficult it is for their little ones when adults offer them food in school or there is food in the classroom for a class activity or reward. 

I thought it was time to give this conversation a kickstart again. What are your thoughts about inclusion in school? I'd love for you to join the conversation in the comments below or on the Welcoming Kitchen Facebook page. 


In the context of school what does it mean?

I have been thinking about this for quite a while (probably since my 3rd grader started kindergarten), but especially this week.  This week our school is having an Inclusion Week.  My children are fortunate to attend a public school that is committed to trying to create a welcoming environment for children with all kinds of strengths and challenges.

Food Allergy Kids and School Inclusion -
For Inclusion Week, children made squares indicating what makes them unique; then they were joined into classroom quilts.

I applaud the efforts of the parent volunteers of our Inclusion Committee and our school leaders to focus attention on how we can create an inclusive school community.

How does all of this work when the challenge your child faces is food allergies?

I have written here about concerns about food in the classroom and safety.  Inclusion is a slightly different matter.

If a child is allergic to dairy or is gluten-intolerant, how does he or she feel when a classroom reward for good behavior or achieving a fund-raising goal is a pizza party?  How different would they feel if it was a movie day or extra gym time or playground time?

If children fundraise by having bake sales or selling candy, how does that make the child feel for whom those foods are dangerous?  How might they feel if they were selling non-food items instead?

Why not make a log cabin out of craft sticks and glue instead of pretzels and frosting? 

Every time a family of a food-allergic child has to decide whether to speak up that an activity puts their child at risk or has to bring an alternative when there is food in class highlights the child's challenges and can make that child feel different (maybe not quite so included).

If the family does speak up and request an alternate activity, how does that make the child and his classmates feel when the other classes are enjoying a "treat" that they are denied?  Will the other children in class hope not to be with the food-allergic child in the future, so that they can still have the "treat?"

With food-allergy rates for children around 1 in 12 children, or 2 per classroom, I urge school communities to rethink inclusion as it impacts children with food allergies.  Sometimes food is a necessary part of education.  When it's not, or when there's an easy alternative, we can create a more-inclusive environment for many of our children by sticking with something else.  

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! You can also find tasty recipes in Super Seeds and Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Airfryer Crispy Smoky Polenta Snacks from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen, vegan, gluten-free, food allergy safe

One of my favorite gifts this year was an AIR FRYER. I LOVE fried food, but never deep-fry anything -- too messy, too bad for you, etc. A kitchen gadget that could give me the feeling of fried food without frying?! Count me in!

I have been having a blast playing with it. I have had some really good successes that I'm excited to share with you (onion rings, cheese sticks, breaded eggplant) and some other attempts that need improvement.

I thought I'd start out the Air Fryer love with a delicious, easy and totally resolution-safe snack. These polenta snacks are crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside and really flavorful. I like them plain or with a cup of soup. My son likes to dip them in ketchup.

The proportions here are for one serving. I like to keep the extra polenta in the fridge, so I can cook up a small batch over a few days and enjoy a delicious, hot, fresh treat right when I want it. If you want to cook the whole tube of polenta, just multiply the ingredients by 4.

Airfryer Crispy Smoky Polenta Snacks -

AIR FRYER CRISPY POLENTA SNACKS (vegan, gluten-free, top 8 allergen free)
Makes 1 serving


  • 1/4 tube of polenta
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees (F).
  2. Cut the polenta in 4 equal wedges, and then slice each wedge into approximately 1-inch pieces.
  3. In a lidded container or in a zip-top bag, shake together spices.
  4. Add the polenta slices, and shake to coat.
  5. Cook in the air fryer for 10-12 minutes, shaking once halfway through.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Decadent Chocolate Brownies - vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free -

My kids always ask me what my favorite foods are. When it comes to treats, brownies top the list for me. I have brownie recipes in every book I write, because you can never have enough brownie options in my opinion. 

These brownies are probably my favorites, though. I make them again and again, and I always get rave reviews. The melted chocolate chips really give a pure chocolate flavor to these very moist brownies. 

Decadent Chocolate Brownies - vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free -

It's a breeze to cut these soft, extra-rich brownies if you refrigerate them first.

Decadent Chocolate Brownies (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, food allergy friendly)

Makes 12 Brownies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (canola, safflower, or sunflower)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, divided (I like Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • non-stick cooking spray

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square pan.
  2. Combine sugar, oil, and water in a microwave safe bowl or small saucepan. If using a microwave, heat on high for 1 minute. If using a saucepan, heat over medium heat, stirring until hot, but not boiling (about 2 minutes). Stir half of the chocolate chips and the vanilla into the sugar mixture until the chips are melted. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour ,baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Combine apple sauce and baking powder. Add the apple sauce mixture to the chocolate. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture, one half at a time. Add the remaining chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One of the best parts of being a member of the allergy community over the past several years has been meeting (virtually and in person) so many smart, caring, interesting people who I am proud to now call my friends. One of these friends is Lisa Cantkier. Lisa is a holistic nutritionist and a dynamo in the gluten-free and natural foods world.

Lisa has teamed up with another holistic nutritionist, Jill Hillhouse, to write a new book, The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution. They asked me to review it and share a recipe.

This book is full of information about Type 2 Diabetes and their approach to address it through a paleo diet. As a vegan, I don't agree with some aspects of a paleo diet -- eating animal products like meat, fish and eggs -- but other aspects of the paleo approach work with my food philosophy. Lisa and Jill advise focusing on unprocessed whole foods, while steering clear of preservatives and trans fats. That I agree with!

I also know the need to adjust your eating to maximize your health, and I support anything that works for you. 

Even with a vegan diet, there was a lot I could enjoy or adapt in this book, though to be honest, there were several recipes that did not work for me. Some recipes that I'm looking forward to trying are: 

  • Beets in Mustard Sauce
  • Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
  • Avocado Mint Sauce
  • Coconut Banana Soft Serve
Lisa and Jill have generously offered to share the recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato Saute with us. I think you will really enjoy this dish!

Kale and Sweet Potato Saute

Kale and Sweet Potato Saute
Credit for recipe + image:
Courtesy of The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution by Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Kale and Sweet Potato Sauté, page 161
Makes 4 servings
If the sweet potato cubes are larger than 12 inch (1 cm), they may take longer to cook.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (approx.), divided 30 mL
  • 112 lbs sweet potatoes (2 medium), peeled and cut into 12-inch (1 cm) cubes 750 g

  • 412 tsp ground cumin, divided 22 mL
  • 3 tsp chili powder, divided 15 mL
  • 34 tsp sea salt (approx.), divided 3 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 2
  • 1 bunch curly or Lacinato kale (about 10 oz/300 g), center ribs and tough 
stems removed, leaves shredded 1
  • 1 tbsp filtered water 15 mL
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Stir in 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin, 2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder and 12 tsp (2 mL) salt. Add more oil if the pan seems dry. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown and tender. Transfer sweet potatoes to a bowl.
2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil and garlic over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle (do not let it brown), add kale, a little at a time, until it all fits in the pan. Turn kale with tongs to coat with oil. Add the remaining cumin, chili powder and salt. Stir in water and cook for about 5 minutes or until kale is wilted and tender.
3. Return sweet potatoes to the pan and toss together. Cook for about 2 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

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, November 9, 2016

Vegan Lentil Soup - Welcoming Kitchen (Allergen-free and Gluten-free)

It's soup time! 
Soup is my go-to dinner in fall and winter. I eat the leftovers for lunch and send soup with my husband in a Thermos for his lunch at work. This Lentil Soup is just what I like -- filling and hearty. Since it's food-allergy friendly, gluten-free and vegan, you can serve it as a meal for company without any special-diet worries.
If you use a food processor to dice the vegetables in this easy recipe for lentil soup, it can be prepared in minutes. You can either use 7 1/2 cups of homemade or prepared vegetable stock or 3 vegan bouillon cubes mixed with 7 1/2 cups of water.  Adjust salt to taste, especially if the vegetable broth is low-salt or salt-free.

Lentil Soup (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, food allergy friendly)
From Welcoming Kitchen
Makes 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 7 1/2 vegetable broth (or 7 1/2 cups of water and 3 vegan bullion cubes)
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes with liquid (either fresh or canned)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add water and remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

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.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw (vegan, gluten-free, allergen free)

Coleslaw seems like a summer food to me. But why? There's really no reason.

Crunchy cabbage lightly coated in tangy dressing should be enjoyed year round.

This is a basic, but delicious coleslaw for fall. The purple cabbage has that rich color that seems autumnal to me. Apple cider adds a hint of sweetness with a nod to other fall flavors. And dijon mustard? So good!

You don't have to keep this salad simple, though. Feel free to turn it into a hearty main-dish salad by adding sunflower seeds, dried fruit, rich avocado and sweet peppers (or anything else that strikes your fancy)!

You can serve this slaw alongside your favorite fall entree or put some on a sandwich to add some crunch (hummus would be nice).

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw (vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free, food allergy friendly)
Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage (just slice up with a sharp knife)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tablespoons apple cider

  1. In a small bowl or jar, combine mustard and cider.
  2. Toss cabbage with dressing.
  3. Enjoy right away, or let it sit for a while and it gets even better!

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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

DIY Grain Milling -- MockMill KitchenAid attachment for milling grain at home

You know that I'm a huge fan of baking and cooking with a wide range of grains. For goodness sakes, I wrote a book about grains ... ANCIENT GRAINS.

DIY Grain Milling -- MockMill KitchenAid attachment for milling grain at home

It can be a conundrum, though, when you want to cook with a wide range of ingredients, but you don't want to break the bank. Anyone who follows a special diet (food allergies, celiac, etc.) can tell you that it's expensive having to buy lots of specialty ingredients. If you don't work variety into your diet, though, things get boring and fast!

One way to expand your menu is to begin milling your own grains at home. I received a Mockmill from the Wolfgang Mock Company to try and let you know what I think. I have used a variety of methods to make my own flour from whole grains in the past. I've used a coffee grinder, nut and seed grinder and a blender. These methods all have challenges. The coffee grinder only grinds up a tiny bit of flour at a time, making it cumbersome to mill enough flour to do some substantial baking. My nut and seed grinders have been prone to breaking, and the blender just doesn't get my flour fine enough.

DIY milled flour using Mockmill

I have seen other home mills, but they were very expensive (over $400) and would take up valuable counter or cabinet space that I can't spare.

What I liked about Mockmill.

I love being able to buy a bag of whole grain -- like sorghum -- and use it in a variety of ways. I can use whole sorghum in Mushroom Sorghum Soup (from Ancient Grains) or I can grind some up to use in a flour blend. I don't have to buy whole grain and flour and worry about not using it all before it goes rancid.
DIY Grain Milling -- MockMill KitchenAid attachment for milling grain at home

You know I love oat flour. I use it all the time. It's way cheaper to make your own than to buy pre-milled oat flour, but I've always felt that the texture is better to use milled flour than the flour I can grind up at home if I'm doing a lot of baking. Tossing steel cut oats in the hopper of my Mockmill yielded beautiful flour!

Wolfgang Mock Company is offering us a deal. If you use the welcomingkitchen promotional code, they will give you an $80 discount on a Mockmill promotional set that includes a Mockmill, a variety of whole grains (they have a gluten-free option), and a book that gives you tons of information about home milling. They will also pay me for each mill that gets sold using the promotional code. 

If you have ever thought about milling your own flour, this is a great time to start! 

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.