Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gluten-free, Vegan Cookies with Chia

I've been reading about the wonders of chia seeds for a little while -- high in Omega-3s, fiber and protein.  But, I was hesitant. Really ... I'm gonna use the same kind of seeds that come with a Chia Pet in my cooking???

The folks at Nuchia sent me a sample of chia seeds to try.  Even then, I was still a little reluctant.  Some of the blog posts I've read from other vegan or gluten-free cooks reported that chia can have a strange gel-like consistency that might not work well for all foods.

I decided for my first trial to take it easy.  I used chia seeds soaked in water as an egg substitute.  (I used 1 tablespoon chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons water for 15 minutes.)  To ensure that it was a good test, I made one of our family's favorite cookies, the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that I created for our upcoming Welcoming Kitchen book (due out next spring, yeah!!).  I knew that it was tried and true, so if the chia mixture worked we would know right away, and if the cookies were no good, we'd know what to blame.

The verdict is in for trial one.  Chia seeds worked great as an egg substitute in cookies!  More trials to come...

Next time, I'll provide a recipe!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's almost impossible to be stuck in a menu rut when you belong to a CSA.  Every week I'm surprised and excited by what Growing Power (my CSA) sends in my market basket.  This week, I had only one thought when I unpacked my bag.  SALAD!

Grapefruit Salad Dressing

I don't make a lot of salads in the winter months.  I'm much more drawn to soups and one-dish meals, like casseroles.  But, it was impossible for me not to be swept away by the crunchy goodness of pea shoots and watercress.

Join the conversation, "like" Welcoming Kitchen on Facebook.

Mixing up a salad of pea shoots, watercress, and cilantro with an easy grapefruit vinaigrette reminded us that spring is right around the corner.

We shared this recipe as part of Wellness Weekend and  Allergy Friendly Fridays.  Please check out the other great recipes.

Fresh Pea Shoot Salad
Serves 6


1 bunch pea shoots
1 bunch watercress
generous handful of cilantro
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
salt and pepper to taste


In a large salad bowl, combine vegetables and garbanzo beans.
Toss with olive oil.
Then add grapefruit juice, salt and pepper.  Toss to combine.

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In the middle of winter, what could be better than a treat called Surf Sweets?  Not much, it turns out!

 The folks at Tru Sweets sent me some of their Surf Sweets candies to try.  They have a few varieties that are Welcoming Kitchen-friendly (allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan).  My boys (including my husband) and I tried the Gummy Swirls, Sour Berry Bears and Fruity Bears.  They were a yummy treat. 

Want to feel even better about your snack?  The folks at Tru Sweets are helping to support The Ocean Project.  They also use organic fruit juice (but also cane juice, so they're not health food) and some varieties are fortified with Vitamin C and calcium.

This is my opinion, and the folks at Tru Sweets didn't pay me to give it.  If you want more information, visit

We hope you have a sweet day!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cookies? Candies? How do you decide on one Valentine's Day treat?

Combine the two!

These chocolate-dipped cookie bites combine our gluten-free sugar cookies with a melted chocolate topping. How can you go wrong with that combo?

Chocolate-dipped Cookie Bites

Depending on the size of your bites, this makes about 60.

1 cup allergy-free chocolate chips
1 recipe Welcoming Kitchen gluten-free sugar cookies

Prepare cookie dough according to directions.
Pat into two 1/2-inch-thick disks.
Wrap prepared cookie dough in plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours until very firm, or overnight.
After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350.
Remove dough from plastic wrap.
With a sharp knife, cut dough into approximately 1-inch squares.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove to a cooling rack.
In a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips over medium heat.
Stir constantly, until chips are halfway melted.
Remove from heat, and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Set aside.
Dip the top of each cooled cookie bite into the melted chocolate.
Let chocolate cool and set.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It was Tuesday afternoon and I opened my inbox to a few emails from our contact at the publisher and from Jennifer Huget looking to interview me for her "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy" Column in the Washington Post. Typically, I am actually one to be shy of the media and interviews and my first inclination was to ignore the request (terrible, I know - but need to be honest!).

But...I have been working on this...So, I got brave and quickly called her back before I could chicken out! She was a delight and I talked with her for a little while about how we decided to participate in our GF CF Cookbook. She asked me a few questions and we chatted about the role that diet can play in the treatment for autism. Here is our opinion, in a nutshell...

My stance on this diet has always been open. I believe that the science behind the GF CF diet and it's role in autism is still emerging and is difficult to complete accurately. I also know that people are very polarized about the diet and its role in therapy. However, I do know many, many families who decide to give it a try. I decided to participate in this book for those families.

I am not here to claim that this is the cure to autism or will even help your child. Every child's experience is unique. Some families might see some dramatic changes in their children when on the diet, some might see a few small changes, and some might see no changes at all. But, there are so many families who are interested in the diet and are looking for recipes to try to initiate and success on a GF, CF diet which is a very difficult and restrictive diet to follow.

Kim and I work so well as a team to adjust and modify recipes for different restrictions so we decided to go for it. Our entire goal was to provide safe and reliable information as well as kid friendly recipes that would be able to be enjoyed by whole families.

When I hung up the phone, I got nervous about how I sounded, did everything I say even make sense? What if she got it all wrong and I would have to hide from this article? ;)

My fears were relieved when I read her article... So...Here is the link to the article:

Autism and Diet: Many questions to digest!

Overall, I think that she took my message and correctly described my position! There are only 2 things I would change, and except for other dietitians, not sure that anyone else would care!

I wish I was called a pediatric dietitian instead of nutritionist. Anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist" but only a registered dietitian can be called a "dietitian". The only other statement that I wish was changed was that anyone on this diet should be followed by a physician and a dietitian to monitor for adequate calories and growth on this diet and monitor for potential micronutrient deficience, specifically bone health.

Other than was great! I am no longer afraid of the media...bring it on ;)

And thanks to Jennifer Huget for taking it easy on me!

Megan Hart MS, RD

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vegan Broccoli Cheese Soup

This Christmas, my step-mom came through for me in the gift-giving department. She got me an immersion blender.

As you might have noticed, I'm a big fan of soup. For all these years, I've been scooping my soup out of the pot and pureeing it in my regular blender. I watched the Food Network and coveted the immersion blenders of the stars. (I guess I never really thought about going over to the store and buying one for myself!)

Now, I no longer need to covet my neighbor's small appliances. I have my own. And, yes, you can make this soup with a regular blender, but the immersion blender is so much fun!

Although not called for in the recipe, if you have some yummy Daiya cheese (vegan, soy-free cheese) on hand, go ahead and toss that into the hot soup before blending, if you so desire.

We shared this recipe with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays; please check out the other great recipes.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 stalk of celery, diced (It's ok if it has leaves.)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 baking potato, peeled and diced
1 bunch of broccoli (enough to make 4 cups chopped)
2 vegan gluten-free bullion cubes
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups rice milk
fresh-ground pepper to taste
salt, if using salt-free bullion cubes otherwise omit the salt

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high flame.
Add celery, carrot, onion and garlic.
Saute until softened, about 3 minutes.
While vegetables are cooking, cut off the ends of the broccoli stalks.
Peel the remaining stalks with a vegetable peeler, and chop the broccoli from flower to stem.
Add the potato and broccoli to the vegetables. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add bullion, water and rice milk.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until softened.
Blend soup with immersion blender or blend in blender.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Sunday, February 7, 2010


It is game day...time for fabulous food and friends. This day can be a real challenge to those of us who need to serve allergy free- and gluten-free foods for our families and friends!

Here are is one quick and easy last minute idea for your super bowl party!

Chocolate Covered Popcorn


Allergy-free chocolate chips
Fresh popped popcorn


Pop batch of fresh batch of popcorn.
Melt Allergy-free Chocolate Chips

Drizzle melted chocolate chips on top of popcorn!


Happy Cooking!
Kim & Megan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tonight, I'm giving a talk to a Gluten Intolerance Group. When Jen Cafferty from the amazing Gluten-free Cooking Expo ( asked me to come to this group, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to talk about.

Then it came to me: Abundance (In this particular case, gluten-free abundance.)

Don't you just love the richness of that word?

Sure, there are tons of great products out there for people living with restricted diets, whether they're avoiding gluten or dairy or meat or soy, etc. But, there is also a world of great foods and ingredients that are naturally free of those issues, too. Let's celebrate the bounty that nature has provided!

Even though you might be allergic or intolerant to anything, there is so much that you can have.

So, I'll be celebrating corn and cornmeal and polenta; rice and risotto; kasha and quinoa; potatoes and beans; and all the beautiful produce that shows itself at farmers' markets and in CSA baskets and at the grocery store every season.

I spend a lot of my time thinking about and working on recipes that take the place of foods that we can't or don't eat. It's good to remember that there is so much that we can enjoy.

Let's celebrate ABUNDANCE!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Photo: Shelf Life

Valentine's Day is fast approaching...What better way to show someone that you love them then by serving them safe and allergy-friendly food! As parents, serving our children allergy friendly foods is easy to do with these quick and easy treats!

Check out Kim's article on an allergy-friendly Valentine's Day that was posted by Mothering just in time for the Valentine's holiday last year:

Welcoming Kitchen Valentine Treats

And be sure to make her yummy recipe for Crepes with Strawberry Filling and Coconut Créme for breakfast on that special day!

Love and Happy Cooking!

Kim & Megan