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Friday, March 13, 2015

Traveling with Food Allergies: Tips from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Taking it on the road with food allergies.

Over the years, new families are dealing with food allergies and others are finding my blog for the first time. I love sharing recipes with my readers, but I also think that it is important to share some of the experience I've gained as a mom with a food-allergic child.

I am going to launch a series of food allergy posts that will run a couple per month over the next several months. Some are posts that I've written in the past that I hope might find a new audience, and some are new. Over the years, we've had mixed experiences with food challenges, finding the right allergist, traveling, sleep overs, field trips and more. 

I hope that you will add your experiences through comments on the post or on the Welcoming Kitchen Facebook page. We can all learn together.

Here is the first post in the series:

We just got back from a trip across the country.  Two boys, one dog, one mom and one dad.

When we started on this food allergy journey, I would have been totally freaked out about having to travel with such restrictions.  Seven years later, it's old hat.

A few tips and tricks I've learned along the way made it a lot easier for us to have a great trip, and maybe they'll help you, too.

1) Plan, plan and plan (and make lists)!  When you know that you can't just stop at the rest stop and pick up a quick bite, you have to think about what you'll need before hand and get it all ready.  Write it down!  Shop, cook, and use your freezer to spread out the work.

2) Bring a variety of snacks -- sweet and savory-- and drinks so that you don't have to munch on the same old trail mix for hour after hour.

3) Take advantage of help when it's available.  

Traveling with Food Allergies: Tips from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Cookies are a fun treat in the car!

How do these tips translate into a real-life vacation?

The first part is obvious.  Write down what foods, drinks and medications you need to make your travel enjoyable and safe.  Then, write down shopping lists divided by store, so that you get all the ingredients you need in one shopping trip.  Make sure you have all the medications you are going to need.  For us, that's not just EpiPens and Benadryl, but allergy medicines and inhalers, too.

We also pack our own soap and shampoo, even when we're going to a hotel or family member's house that will have them.  When you have a nut or milk allergy, fancy soaps can be dangerous!

The second part is fun.  Part of the joy of traveling by car is eating stuff you wouldn't normally get to enjoy with such abandon!  For this trip, I baked zucchini muffins and blueberry muffins.  I baked them in papers so they'd travel better, then wrapped them in sets of four in aluminum foil and popped those in freezer-safe bags.  I froze the muffins as I made them, so that I wouldn't have to be overwhelmed with work at the last minute.

I also baked up a double batch of granola.  I made little sandwiches with Sunbutter and jelly and others with hummus.  I bought some chips and dry cereal and juice boxes.  We had non-dairy milk boxes and coconut waters for the grown-ups.  We had grapes and apples.  We also got squeezable pouches of apple sauce and apple/banana sauce and fruit leathers.

Each boy got a snack pack, which was his own bag filled with little bags of the snacky-type foods.  That way, they got to have a little control over what they ate and when.  I gave out the muffins in the morning and the sandwiches at lunch time.

The third part is crucial.  We look for help from hotels that we stay at.  Whenever possible, we choose hotels that have a refrigerator and a microwave when we're going to be there for more than one day.   This does not have to be a big, extravagant hotel.  Last summer we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express with a kitchenette that worked out great.   On this trip, we stayed one night at the beginning of our trip and one night at the end at a little motel near my mother-in-law's and it had fridge.  I could unpack my cooler and the ice pack and re-chill everything while we slept.

Traveling with Food Allergies: Tips from Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Fruit is a safe and readily available snack on the road.

We ate dinner at my mother-in-law's house.  She was not comfortable buying all the food we would need for dinner, as she doesn't have the experience we have in reading labels.  So, we brought pasta and sauce and cookies with us, and she provided salad and fruit--foods she could feel confident providing.

Before we left, I emailed my sister-in-law with a short shopping list.  I listed brand names of the basic foods I would need to get my family started when we arrived in Virginia.  This was a life saver.  After traveling for two days, I didn't have to jump in the car again to go grocery shopping.  My boys had Beanadillas (refried beans, Daiya and tortillas) for dinner with fruit and more of the cookies I had baked in Chicago.  Later, we were able to go shopping together, so that we could make meals that would work for everyone.

That just left the return trip.  Again, my sister-in-law took me shopping and hung out with me while I baked more muffins (zucchini and apple pie) and made more sandwiches.  I also made a Mexican Lasagna for us to take with us to my mother-in-law's on the way back.

We really had a wonderful vacation, and I can tell you that I didn't worry about food at all.  I have followed these tips for short trips to hotels, car trips, plane travel, and camping. 

All it takes is being prepared and asking for help.  (Shameless plug--a copy of Welcoming Kitchen also came in handy!)

Please share any tips you find helpful in the comments.

Happy Cooking!

This post was shared with Allergy Free Wednesday.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vegan Chipotle Coconut Bacon

Ever since I went vegetarian and then vegan, folks have asked what I missed. You know, "Don't you miss cheese? Bacon? _____ (fill in the blank)?"

Really, honestly, the answer is no. Especially these days with so many super high-quality substitutes. When I first gave up dairy, I didn't miss cheese too much, but I'm darn glad there is Daiya, and there are some new Vegan Gourmet cheeses coming out that are really good.

Even though the whole world has been bacon obsessed for the past few years, I haven't really given it a thought.

However, coconut bacon is making it impossible not to notice this vegan food trend all over the Internet.

Vegan Chipotle Coconut Bacon

I wanted to make a version that is Welcoming Kitchen-friendly, that is to say, vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free.

I had some left-over chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from some recipes that I'm working on for my new book.  I thought the smokiness of them would be a good fit with a faux bacon. What do you need for a bacon facsimile? Sweet, salty, and smoky. This recipe combines that smokiness with the sweetness of maple syrup and coconut and some salt. 

Do they taste like bacon?

Vegan Chipotle Coconut Bacon

I couldn't really tell you, since I haven't eaten meat in a really long time, but I don't think so. I think they are crunchy, smoky, salty, sweet bites that add flavor to vegetables, salads, or straight out of your hand.

Give it a try.

Chipotle Coconut Vegan Bacon
Makes 1 cup of bacon bits

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together all ingredients, except coconut.
  4. Add coconut and stir until completely coated.
  5. Remove pepper and discard.
  6. Bake 12 to 14 minutes.
  7. Eat warm or cooled. 
  8. Store cooled bacon bits in a covered container for four days or freeze for future use.

Happy Cooking!

This recipe was shared with Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eye-D Band Giveaway on Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Photo provided by Eye-D Bands.

Here's a confession.

I have a habit.
A jar habit.

I find it incredibly difficult to get rid of my empty jam jars, salsa jars, applesauce jars.  You get the picture. I wash them, save them and store stuff in them.

The problem is that sometimes I'm not sure what I put in there. I have tried a variety of systems to mark them -- all problematic.

  • Tape. The problem with tape is that it can leave a sticky residue when you peel it off.
  • Sharpie. The problem with using a permanent marker is what if I want to put something different in the jar after I've emptied it and washed it?
  • Memory. I think the problem there is pretty obvious. 
You can imagine my excitement to learn about a new company, Eye-D Bands. These wide rubber bands are pre-printed with a wide variety of ingredients. You can use these bands to quickly identify the contents of containers, jars or canisters. When you change what you put in the container, you just need to change the band to the correct one. The wide bands have a nice grip, so they don't slide down the jar and stay right where you put them. There's no sticky residue when you're finished, and the bands are printed on both sides, so you get two labels with each band.

There are a wide range of bands for ingredients commonly found in special-diet kitchens. For example, there are bands for chia seeds, quinoa, gluten-free flour, brown rice, etc.


Eye-D Bands Giveaway on Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Photo provided by Eye-D Bands.

One lucky reader can try some! Eye-D Bands is giving away a set of bands worth $50 to one winner from the United States or Canada!  Good luck!

Required disclosure: Eye-D Bands provided me with a collection of bands to try. All opinions are my own. Eye-D Bands will provide the randomly selected winner with a set of bands worth $50.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Cooking!

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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Gluten-free, Vegan cookbook Living Candida-Free
My own copy of Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller.

How to feel satisfied and still live within a restricted diet? That is the challenge facing so many people, whether it's due to allergies, intolerance, or other health issues.

For years, my friend, Ricki Heller, has been providing folks who live with Candida Related Complex (CRC) with a feeling of abundance. She has written hundreds of recipes for her website,,  that are not only gluten-free and vegan, but also reside within the confines of the the anti-candida diet.

Candida Related Complex is a condition where the candida yeast (a normally occurring yeast that makes up part of the human biome) grows excessively, resulting in a host of symptoms ranging from the inconvenient to the debilitating.

Ricki's newest book, Living Candida-Free, written with nutritionist Andrea Nakayama, is so incredibly informative about the basics of digestion, how CRC develops, and what is necessary to do to get your body back in whack. I love how thoroughly researched this topic is by two incredibly smart nutrition-educated women. Ricki writes with such a friendly and accessible voice, while holding your hand through complex information.

If you or someone you know is struggling with CRC (or wondering what might be contributing to health conditions ranging form digestion woes, skin issues, joint pain, thrush, etc.), I encourage you to read this book, Living Candida-Free. It will provide you with the information you need to talk to your own healthcare provider about whether candida is the culprit.

Once you get past the information, though, you get to the recipes -- recipes that bring hope for a full, rich diet while traveling along the road to improved health.

Ricki was generous to share a recipe with us. This soup is exactly the kind of soup I enjoy. Flavorful broth supporting tender greens and creamy chickpeas. 

Photo by Nicole Axworthy

Quick and Easy Chard and Chickpea Soup
Reprinted by permission from Living Candida-Free by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN (DaCapo Press, 2015)

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil, preferably organic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bunch chard (6 to 8 leaves), stems removed and chopped, leaves shredded (2 to 3 cups leaves)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or stock (homemade or use organic with no sugar or additives)
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, or 1/4 cup fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taaste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion is translucent, for about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the lemon juice, and bring to a light boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer until all the vegetables are soft and the flavors are well combined, for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice; stir and adjust the seasonings. 
  5. Serve.
  6. May be frozen.
Want to try some more recipes from Living Candida-Free?
Spabettie shared Raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (Yum!)
Recipe Renovator shared Single-Serve Pancakes (Great idea!)
The Blender Girl has a thorough review along with the recipe for Chard & Chickpea Soup.

Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gluten-free Vegan Sunflower Pate & Book Review

As I've said before, one of the fun parts of writing this blog is being introduced to new products and people. 

Recently, I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity to read the new novel, Off the Reservation by Glen Merzer. Off the Reservation is the first book from a new publishing house, Vivid Thoughts Press.

This novel tells the story of a Congressman, Evan Gorgoni, who decides to run for President. They asked me to review it, because Gorgoni is a vegan, and vegan themes run through the book. There are also 20 recipes in the back of the book that Glen's wife, Joanna Samorow-Merzer created. The recipes reflect meals that the Congressman and/or his family enjoy throughout the book.

I really enjoyed this book. I'm a lover of fiction. I like to be swept away by a story, and Off the Reservation really brought me into this crazy presidential campaign. I loved how Congressman Gorgoni tried to run an honest campaign, talking about the challenges facing our country as he sees them without throwing out a lot of fake promises and platitudes.

I read this around the holidays, and this book was just what I needed -- a little escape from all the to-do list activities that come around then.

The publisher is generously sharing one of the delicious-sounding vegan recipes from the book with us.

Sunflower Pate (recipe by Joanna Samorow-Merzer as featured in Off the Reservation).
vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free
Serves 10 as appetizer

  • 1 medium-to-large raw yellow-skin potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

In the food processor, chop the sunflower seeds coarsely. Add the remaining ingredients and process into a smooth consistency. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (to avoid use of oil). Pour in the mixture and bake uncovered for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let cool to thicken before cutting into slices and serving. 

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

My new year started out with a bang! I was fortunate to get to share some healthy cooking with WGN TV on New Year's Day.  I made Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili from Super Seeds. This recipe is truly one of my favorites. It's quick to come together, it's nutritious, and it's really delicious. In case you didn't get to see it, I'm sharing the recipe here, too. Also, here's a link to my segment.

Super Seeds by Kim Lutz

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili (from Super Seeds: The Complete Guide to Cooking with Power-Packed Chia, Quinoa, Flax, Hemp & Amaranth)

Makes 6 Servings


1 tablespoon olive oil

3 medium onions, cut into medium dice (approximately 3 cups)

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium dice

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (3 cups)

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 ¾ cups cooked black beans)

1 cup prepared quinoa


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, and sweet potato. Saute approximately 5 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through. 

    Happy Cooking!

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vegan, Gluten-free Recipes for New Year
Cucumber Chickpea Salad

I have really done it up this holiday season. Lots of treats, plenty of cocktails and very little self-control.

Should I keep the party going in the new year?

Should I craft a list of foods/ingredients that are now permanently off my menu?

Or might there be a third way?

Vegan, Gluten-free Recipes for New Year
Slow Cooker Vegan Soup

I don't do very well with the absolutes of resolutions. I might be able to cut sweets with refined sugar out for a month (a pretty good goal for this sugar-loving lady), but I think I'd rather approach the new year from a positive perspective, rather than a negative.

Vegan, Gluten-free Recipes for New Year
Blueberry Coffee Cake from Super Seeds

  • I will eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. 
  • I will include my little friends, the super seeds (quinoa, flax, hemp, amaranth and chia) into my diet on a regular basis. 
  • I will look to naturally sweet fruit to enliven my desserts (which I need to have!) and fragrant herbal teas to provide my afternoons with a treat.
Vegan, Gluten-free Recipes for New Year
Cocoa Dusted Pepitas

What will you do to ensure that you are eating healthfully in 2015? 

Shared with What's Cooking Wednesdays!

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seeds are Super, Chicagoan’s cookbook shows


Hemp Seed Hummus

Hemp seeds stand in for tahini in a party-pleasing hummus. | Reprinted with permission from Super Seeds © 2014 by Kim Lutz, Sterling Publishing Co.  Photography by Bill Milne

We often hear that seeds are packed with nutrients. We want to include them in our diets, and often wonder what to use where.

Well, Chicagoan Kim Lutz provides a wealth of answers in her cookbook “Super Seeds” (Sterling Publishing, $14.95).

Head Shot Kim Lutz

Lutz’s name may sound familiar. She is the Kim behind Kim’s Welcoming Kitchen, a site popular for its allergy-free, gluten-free, and vegan recipes.

She starts with a quick primer on the good points of each of the seeds — chia, quinoa, flax, hemp and amaranth . For instance, did you know the vitamins in them all can contribute to shiny hair and good skin?

Because they are natural pairs, Lutz includes in her more than 75 recipes several for salads and smoothies that include them. But then she includes chilis, patties, soups and desserts where the seeds share the spotlight.

There are things you don’t often see, such as heating up a taco-flavored stuffed avocado. That intrigues me.

Super Seeds Cover

She also includes other recipes that can be used with the seeds, such as a DIY spice mix for taco flavoring (instead of those in the package) and a recipe for a richer broth that doesn’t rely on cream.

Throughout the book she sprinkles in little facts about seeds and other ingredients as well as tips about usage. There are a lot of solid tips for people wanting to embrace seeds in their diets in ways I hadn’t particularly considered.  (I liked her easy method for making flour.)

It’s party time, so I thought Lutz’s recipe for a hummus that uses hemp seeds instead of tahini would be a good choice. Those of you with sesame seed allergies will appreciate her take on hummus. And for those of you who don’t, just serve this without blabbing about the ingredient switchup. Your guests will find a fresh and intriguing dip.


Hemp seeds do double duty in this recipe. First, they take the place of the traditional ingredient in hummus, tahini (some people are allergic to sesame seeds). Second, they bring crucial phytonutrients, including zinc and magnesium, to this tasty, satisfyingly textured dip. It makes a great snack, served with crudites
such as baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery sticks, and strips of crunchy bell peppers. In addition to making superb sandwiches, hummus is also a salad’s
best friend. Try adding a healthy dollop on top of your green salad and you
will have a flavorful, filling meal.

1¾ cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Reprinted with permission from Super Seeds © 2014 by Kim Lutz, Sterling Publishing Co.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Coffee Blend, and Easy DIY Gift
Dress your homemade coffee blend in a pretty bow with a spoon for a hostess gift!

I like to think of myself as pretty crafty. I enjoy making gifts for family, friends and neighbors during the holidays. There is nothing I like better, though, than a quick-to-come-together gift that everyone loves.

My friend, Karen, is a star at the holidays, because she puts together a coffee blend that everyone looks forward to. Holiday Spice Coffee is a great gift to have on hand, because it takes only minutes to stir up. Put it in some coffee bags, tie it with a big bow, and attach a tablespoon, and you have a gift that will thrill every coffee drinker on your list!

Holiday Coffee Blend, and Easy DIY Gift
You probably will want to keep a bag for yourself, too!

Holiday Spice Coffee

These are the proportions for a pot of coffee.  Make as much as you want to gift, but keep these proportions.


  • 10 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (Ground cinnamon will clog your pot.)

  1. Mix all ingredients together, and bag up in a sealed coffee bag.
Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  

We continued our new tradition (started last year) of "adopting" a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. This is a picture of Gable, the turkey my boys chose to support at this fantastic farmed animal rescue.

Wishing you and yours a love-filled holiday season!

Happy Cooking!

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