Monday, October 26, 2009



Don't you just love walking around your neighborhood in these days before Halloween? In my neighborhood, lots of people go all out in the decorating. There are huge spider webs, lights, scary ghouls, and of course, pumpkins.

Not only is your Halloween pumpkin the perfect holiday decoration, but it is also a source of pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Pumpkin seeds, with or without hulls, are incredibly useful in Welcoming Kitchen cooking. For that matter, so are the seeds from any winter squash, like butternut squash or acorn squash.

Most of you are familiar with the roasted, salted, in-the-hull pumpkin seeds that moms around the country cook up for their kids after pumpkin carving. Following this same treatment for smaller butternut squash seeds can lead to a savory ingredient to toss into a sweet and salty trail mix.

Hulling pumpkin seeds results in a green, nutty-tasting pepita. These pepitas can then be ground with basil and garlic for a lovely pesto, or heated in a dry pan and added to soup or salad for some extra crunch. You can also make pumpkin seed butter by blending these hulled pepitas with a little canola oil and salt. There are literally hundreds of uses for these protein-packed seeds.

The question is: How do you get the pepita out of the hull? There are lots of suggestions on the Internet, and I have tried several of these. Almost all of the more creative ideas did not work out for me. I ended up with crushed seeds and lots of shell. Though time-consuming, I think the best option is to peel each seed with your clean fingernail or a sharp paring knife.

If you are looking for a nut alternative that's not prepared in a plant that processes nuts, harvesting your own pepitas is the way to go. You can get hundreds of seeds from even a smaller pumpkin, so once you get those shells off, you can freeze whatever extra seeds you're not going to use.

Once you discover the fantastic gems hidden within your jack o'lantern, you just might pick up an extra pumpkin or two in the future!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan
We found this amazing list over at Sure Foods Living! As always, double check all the ingredients for each candy before you decide if it is safe...but this is a very comprehensive place to start!

Check out the list at Sure Foods Living

Thanks Alison!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One of the best parts of our Welcoming Kitchen work has been coming into contact with great people who are working to keep the world both safer and more joyful for folks living with restricted diets. The moms who started www.allergysense.com are hard-working ladies who have put together a truly helpful resource for people living with food allergies. As a food-allergy mom, I'm so grateful that there are people out there working to make our lives a little easier. We are excited to announce that we will soon be working with allergysense.com to help bring safe and delicious Welcoming Kitchen recipes to an even wider audience. We encourage you to check out their site.

Happy Cooking!

Kim and Megan
Turn This:



Into This!



What a great time of year! When my produce bundle from Growing Power (http://www.growingpower.org/) had the last of the summer's bounty and the beginnings of autumn's beautiful produce, I had to put them together for a warm-your-soul dish. Whether it's a soup or a stew depends on how much water you use. I did this in a slow cooker, but you could always cook it in a soup pot on the stove. The quantities for the vegetables are approximate (for example, two small green peppers equal one medium green pepper).

We shared this recipe with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.  Please check out the other recipes.

Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

Kernels from 3 ears of corn
1 medium green pepper
1 medium zucchini
5 small baking potatoes
2 cups lima beans (I used frozen baby lima beans)
1 small or medium onion
1 butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed
2 jalapenos, seeds and stems removed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Water to cover vegetables (approximately 6 cups)
2 cups chopped greens (chard, kale, collard, or spinach)

Preparation:

Chop all vegetables.
Combine all ingredients, except greens, in a slow cooker.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
Alternatively, combine all ingredients but greens in a large stock pot.  
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour or until vegetables are fork tender, but not mushy.
Add chopped greens to hot soup, stir to combine.
Let greens soften in soup before serving.

Happy Cooking!
Kim 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's a mom (or dad or friend) to do when facing the Oh-So-Scary combination of Halloween and food allergies? Be creative! Here are just some ideas of what you can do to keep your Fright Night from causing you an anxiety attack ...

Check out some treats that are safe for your goblin. At our house, Smarties and Dum Dum lollipops are ok for our little trick-or-treaters -- maybe there's a treat or two that work for you.

Enlist your costumed kids to hand out treats to neighborhood ghosts and ghouls. Tattoos, stickers, pencils and spider rings are all big hits (and completely allergen-free).

Distribute some safe treats to trusted neighbors, and then send your kids to those houses for some trick-or-treating fun.

Create new traditions. Visit a haunted house, go to a scary movie, or host a Halloween bash at your house instead of hitting the streets.

Trick-or-treat for your favorite charity! Your kids still get the joy of showing off their costumes door-to-door, and they get the good feeling of helping other children in need. Take some time to research where your family sends their money...it can be fun to have your child pick out there favorite charity...near or far!

You can also do a candy swap. Let your children trade their loot for safe treats, money to buy something cool, or for one larger, more fabulous goody. (In our house where baked goods are commonplace, an Enjoy Life chocolate bar is a huge treat!)

These are just some ideas to get you started. The holiday is about having fun more than it is about specific pieces of candy. Once you get going on things you can do to keep the fun in Halloween, it just might become your favorite holiday!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Monday, October 12, 2009

gluten-free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

In keeping with our October pumpkin obsession, here is a recipe for DELICIOUS Welcoming Kitchen-style chocolate chip cookies that include some canned pumpkin. The pumpkin keeps these cookies moist, while boosting the nutrition (a little bit). One of the best parts of egg-free baking is that it's completely ok to taste the batter as you're cooking. So go ahead and relive your childhood desires ... lick the spoon!

Makes approximately 48 cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups oat flour (blend GF rolled oats in a blender to a fine powder)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups allergen-free chocolate chips (like Enjoy Life brand)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin with baking powder.
Add oil, sugar and vanilla to pumpkin mixture. Combine well.
Mix dry ingredients into wet.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Drop by the tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets (or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper).
Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden.
Let cookies rest on cookie sheets for a minute or two and then transfer to cooling racks.

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan
We just wanted to thank Jenny who has the fantastic "The Nut-Free Mom" blog! She has welcomed us warmly into allergy blogland and we are so grateful! She has an amazing blog with wonderful ideas, tips, recipes, and links! She featured us today and you can read her post about our Welcoming Kitchen adventures here.

We are hoping to continue a wonderful "blogland" relationship with Jenny!

Thanks!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Just sharing some exciting news for our blog...

We have made the Whole Foods Blogroll!!

So excited for this opportunity to be a part of Whole Foods and
celebrate all things "Welcoming Kitchen!"

Click Here!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Wednesday, October 7, 2009




Dear So Delicious Coconut Yogurt,

How can I even tell you how much I love your creamy, allergen-free goodness? When I first started cooking the Welcoming Kitchen way, I had no idea that there would soon be a yogurt that we could use in so many ways. We love it on its own for a snack. It's wonderful mixed with granola or cereal. And don't even get me started on the many uses for the plain flavor! We use it as a base for dips and dressings and as an alternative to sour cream on baked potatoes. Thank you for making such a fantastic product!

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

vegan sweet potato cupcakes

Does it have to be a birthday to enjoy cupcakes? Here in the Welcoming Kitchen - No way! Go ahead and whip up a batch for any occasion ... even if it's only a Wednesday. If you are looking for an oat-free cupcake, substitute 1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for the oat flour. (Note: You can make your own oat flour by blending gluten-free rolled oats to a fine powder.)

We shared this recipe as part of Cybele Pascal's Allergy Friendly Friday; please check out the other great recipes.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1//2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, canola oil, applesauce and vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients into wet.
Stir apple cider vinegar into batter.
Pour batter into an oiled standard muffin pan.
Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Monday, October 5, 2009



There's nothing that says fall like pumpkins. Our family loves all-things pumpkin (pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie). This pumpkin butter is so easy to make, and it turns all sorts of foods into pumpkin delights. Spread it on gluten-free toast or "welcoming kitchen friendly" muffins, heat it up and pour it on sorbet or coconut-based ice cream, or drop a dollop onto our waffles or pancakes.

We shared this recipe as part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays  and Allergy Friendly Fridays; please check out the other great recipes.

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can pumpkin
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:

Stir to combine all ingredients.
Store pumpkin butter in a covered jar or container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan


This recipe is a sweet success! Using locally grown and in-season produce is a great way to improve your health and contribute to the health of the planet! Most of our ingredients came from our local CSA farm! My son loves to go each week to pick out the veggies from farmer Dan. If you are looking for an amazing CSA...check his and his wife's farm out at their website.

Yield: 2 halves of acorn squash

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup pomegranate or orange juice
1 cup apple cider
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup apple, diced
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. While oven is preheating, rinse quinoa thoroughly in a strainer. In a large dry skillet, toast quinoa for about 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the juices, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Cover pan and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

3. While quinoa is simmering, microwave acorn squash for about 3-4 minutes to make it easier to cut. Turn halfway through to avoid soft spots on the squash. Cut the squash in half and scrape out all the seeds (look for further recipes on this site about how to use your squash seeds!).

4. Brush inside of squash with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Place face down in about 1/2 inch of water, and place in oven for about 25 minutes.

5. Remove squash from oven and drain water. Turn squash over and fill each side with 1/2 of the quinoa mixture. Brush the exposed squash again with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Return to oven for another 10 minutes. It is done when you can pierce the squash with a fork easily.

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Frijoles Negros Volteados



These black beans are absolutely delicious! They are wonderful main entree served with rice and vegetables or with corn tortillas for bean burritos. Served with chips as a dip they make a wonderful addition to an appetizer buffet! In Guatemala, these are frequently eaten in the morning with fruit and tortillas for breakfast... a wonderful way to start the day!

8 servings

1 pound of organic dried black beans
2 medium onions
4 garlic cloves
salt to taste
2 Tablespoons of canola oil

Place 1 pound of black beans in a pot and cover with water. Cover the pot and soak beans overnight. Drain the beans prior to cooking. In a large pot, place the beans with 1 onion (quartered) and 4 cloves of garlic. Cover the beans with water and continue to keep them covered with water. Cook for about 4-6 hours on a low setting until soft. Salt to taste. In Guatemala, a lot of salt is added; however, experiment with the lowest amount of salt you can use...or omit all together.

Now...many people stop here and enjoy these delicious beans. My friends in Guatemala call these "Day One" beans and eat them as they are. Often, the next day, they are turned into "Day Two" beans and these are when they turn into "refried black beans" or Frijoles Volteados

So...

The next step it to take the above beans and put them in a blender to smooth out the consistency. Mince the other onion and saute it in the vegetable oil over a medium heat until clear. Add the beans and fry these over medium heat. It is important to stir them constantly to avoid them sticking to the pan.

Continue to stir them and cook them until all the liquid has evaporated and what is left is a thick mound of delicious black beans!

We shared this recipe as part of Amy Green's Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vegetarian Hash
Onion, Potato and Peppers Combine with Kasha to Make Vegan Hash

If you're looking for a great brunch entree to serve to a hungry crowd, this hash fits the bill. I tested this out on my carnivorous brother-in-law, and he loved it, so that passes my test for a Welcoming Kitchen recipe. (It's good for everyone!)  This recipe is from my book, Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes.

Serves 6

1 cup buckwheat or kasha
2 cups water
1 vegan gluten-free boullion cube
2 green peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons nutrional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425.
In a small saucepan, combine buckwheat, water, and boullion cube.
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
While the buckwheat is cooking, combine all the vegetables in a large bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to vegetables.
Spread on a baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes.
Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
Add thyme and cook for a minute.
Add vegetables and buckwheat.
Stir to combine.

I shared this recipe with Wellness Weekend.

Happy Cooking!

Kim 

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

Thursday, October 1, 2009


This soup has so much going for it. It's warm and comforting on a brisk fall day, and it's a beautiful bright golden-orange color, and it couldn't be easier to cook. And, if that's not enough reasons to whip it up today, it tastes great! This soup gets its creamy texture from the starchy corn and potatoes. If you want to add some crunch, you can mix in some crisp, steamed vegetables (broccoli would be nice) or top it with some crunched up corn chips or tortilla chips.

We shared this recipe with Allergy-friendly Friday and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Serves 6

2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 vegan gluten-free bouillon cube
5-6 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
Puree in a blender, and serve hot.

(You can also cook this soup on the stove top in a large stock pot. Cook until the vegetables are tender.)

Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan