Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photo by Julie Han

Hundreds of kids lining up to eat their vegetables?!  Can you believe it?  Yep ... it's true.  How did we accomplish such a feat and throw in a little environmental education to boot?

Make Your Own Pasta Salad!

This year for our school's Family Green Night, I volunteered to do an activity that focused on the environmental impact of your diet.  Since this is an elementary-school, feel-good event, we focused on the positive.

For the education side, we featured information from the Meat Free Monday campaign highlighting how eliminating meat and dairy from your diet one day (or more) a week can significantly reduce your environmental footprint.  We also had a copy of Michael Pollan's Food Rules for folks to flip through.  We had an e-mail sign-up sheet so we could send out links to Meat Free Monday, the Environmental Working Group and their list of most pesticide-laden produce and to Welcoming Kitchen, of course!

The real highlight of the event was a Make Your Own Pasta Salad made up of entirely organic ingredients.  This idea also shows how easy it can be to create an entree that is safe for all of your guests.  We boiled up whole wheat pasta and brown rice pasta (separately, of course).  We tossed each of the pastas with an Italian herb vinaigrette, and let them chill in the refrigerator until it was time for the event.

We then set out a buffet of ingredients.  We had bowls of grated carrots, halved grape tomatoes, defrosted frozen corn and peas, chopped orange peppers, and seeded and diced cucumbers.  We also had raisins, garbanzo beans and edamame.  Folks could choose what they wanted to add to their pasta salad to make it the way they wanted it.  Everyone started with a scoop of the pasta of their choice, and then went to town with the toppings!

It was a huge hit.  I am definitely bringing this idea back for a casual dinner party, because it was fun and delicious.  It also worked for everyone who came through the line.  There were plenty of toppings to suit anyone's needs and restrictions.  Interestingly, the brown rice pasta was the choice of lots of people, whether or not they needed a gluten-free option.

I was so fortunate to have two great ladies helping me out.  This activity would have been a big flop without the awesome help of Karen and Val!

Next time you're in a rut for what to serve a group, think about Make Your Own Pasta Salad.  I think you'll be glad you did.

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I couldn't wait to get started trying out some of the samples that I received when we were at the Gluten-free Cooking Expo Vendor Fair.  The first one on the docket -- Doodles Gluten-free Nut Butter Cookie Mix.  Doodles Cookies have a whole line of cookie mixes that not only are gluten-free, but also organic.  You can check out their other offerings at

I used sunflower-seed butter as the nut butter, soy-free Earth Balance for the softened margarine, and 1/4 cup applesauce mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder to take the place of the egg called for on the package.

Since we're huge fans of chocolate, I added 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the batter.  I have to tell you, these cookies were really good!   They had a nice texture and flavor.  Although I think that scratch baking is always the best option, having a mix on hand can be so much more convenient.  (Think about having to whip up a batch of cookies for an unexpected get-together.)  If you have a good mix on hand, and a few common ingredients, you can have tasty cookies in a jiff.

I'm excited to try out some of the other products the generous GF vendors shared with our Welcoming Kitchen!  Stay tuned for more reviews ...

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wow!  The Gluten-free Cooking Expo was such an amazing experience in so many ways.  We had a fabulous time meeting friends, trying out new products, and selling our books.  The vendor fair was incredible with so many companies and individuals out to make living with allergies easier!  We got a bunch of samples, so we'll have plenty of great Welcoming Kitchen-friendly products to review in the next few weeks.

It was so much fun to be selling and signing our books.  By the end of the weekend, we actually sold out of the books we brought so that was an unexpected surprise!  We talked with hundreds of people who are living gluten-free for a wide range of reasons -- from people living with celiac or food allergies to others who are trying to manage symptoms related to autism spectrum disorder, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis.

We also had a great time visiting with some outstanding folks who are working hard to make the lives of people living with dietary restrictions a little sweeter, sometimes literally!  Jen Cafferty of the Gluten-free Cooking Expo really outdid herself.  I can't even imagine how she was able to pull off such a well-rounded event that catered to over 1,000 people over the course of the weekend.  Kudos to Jen!  We were honored to be a part of it.

Spending time with Rhonda Lewis of AllergySense was also a treat.   We have "met" Rhonda through our website, and they have been amazingly supportive of our Welcoming Kitchen and we are so grateful!   If you haven't checked out their website yet - you should.  It's a wealth of information for people with all sorts of food allergies and restrictions.

One of the true highlights of the weekend was meeting fabulous cookbook author and fellow allergy mom, Cybele Pascal.  She is a true inspiration and we were so happy to get to spend time with her!  It was fun to spend time with someone who is so amazing.  Her encouragement of our efforts and support was remarkable!   Her book, The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook is chock full of yummy treats.  Can't wait to start baking up her treats...

We also got a chance to visit with Scott Mandell from Enjoy Life.  If you read our blog, you know how much we love our Enjoy Life chocolates!

Coming up next is our review of Doodles Cookies nut-butter cookies.  Until then ...

Happy Cooking!
Kim & Megan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Want to come and meet us at the Gluten-Free Cooking Expo?? Professional chefs, cookbook authors, nutritionists, and exhibitors will educate, share recipes and demos, and encourage taste-testing of a wide variety of foods. Expo highlights include: Cooking demonstrations, a large vendor fair, sessions for gluten free children, budget buying techniques on a gluten free diet, nutrition sessions and meal planning.  

Advance registration is required for the Gluten Free Cooking Expo cooking sessions. The Vendor Fair is open to the public. For additional event information and to register for the Gluten Free Cooking Expo, visit or call 847-217-1317. The Gluten Free Cooking Expo is produced by Gluten Free Classes, LLC, which was founded by Jen Cafferty in 2007 and produces gluten-free cooking programs and gluten-free restaurant educational series throughout the United States.  

Jen Cafferty has been an amazing resource and cheerleader for us!  Kim and I are thrilled that we have been asked to participate in this amazing opportunity! We are looking forward to interacting with all the fabulous speakers and attendees that come to this incredible event. We will be there selling our latest book and will be available to answer questions, sign books, and meet many amazing GF followers! Come visit us at the Vendor Fair!
Happy Cooking!  

Megan & Kim

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

As you know, checking labels can be a matter of life and death when you're dealing with food allergies.  What happens when a product is mislabeled?  That's where the ELL (Eating, Educating and Living Life) Foundation comes in.  Not only are they an organization dedicated to education and advocacy on behalf of all people living with food allergies, but they also send out e-mails alerting folks to ingredient mislabels.  For more information or to register for the alerts, visit .

Happy Cooking!

Kim and Megan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I have been experimenting with chia seeds over the past few weeks. As I wrote earlier, I tried them with good success in the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe from our upcoming Welcoming Kitchen book.

I tried them in cake and muffins, too. I would say that the results in a softer-textured treat are a little more mixed, in my opinion. Making the chia gel (instructions to follow) definitely worked as a great egg replacer -- giving good lift and binding to both. The seeds didn't completely dissolve, though, so the finished product had a little bit of crunch that I didn't love. My boys, though, didn't seem to mind.

On the plus side, it's nice to know that you can add a little more fiber, protein and nutrients to your baked goods than you can with applesauce or powdered egg replacer.

I am also experimenting with using the chia gel as part of breaded vegetables. My first attempt was kind of gross, so I'm going to keep working on that before I give a final verdict.

Here's a recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Muffins from our book, The Everything Guide to Cooking for Children with Autism with chia seeds and water taking the place of the applesauce/baking powder mixture. Although the title of this book indicates that it's for kids with autism, it's really a gluten-free and casein-free cookbook, so good for anyone who needs GF/CF recipes. You can click on the picture of the cover on the side of the blog if you're interested in ordering it.

Chia Seeds as Egg Replacer in Gluten-free Pumpkin Muffins

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins


2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
1 (15-ounce) can solid-packed pumpkin
1/2 cup dried cherries


1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Oil a standard muffin pan.
3.  In a small bowl, combine chia seeds and water.  Let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
5.  In a large bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin and chia seed mixture.
6.  Mix dry ingredients into wet, one half at a time.
7.  Stir dried cherries into batter.
8.  Spoon batter into oiled muffin pan.
9.  Bake 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Note:  These muffins will taste best if served warm.  Toast for a couple of minutes.  They taste pretty great with Earth Balance or jam!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan 

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

If you live with someone with food allergies or restrictions, you should check out the wonderful, information-packed website, This site provides a wealth of information and support. They asked me to write a guest blog post for their site, which appears today. Click here to link with their site. As a food-allergy mom, I am grateful that there are wonderful people and businesses out there helping our family to live safely and happily.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Phew ... my first TV appearance happened today, and I think it went ok.  I was a little flustered, but overall, I think it went pretty well.

Here is my TV Debut as seen on the WGN Midday News in Chicago.


I owe the hugest thank you to WGN for this opportunity.  Thank you, also, to Enjoy Life foods, who generously provided me with chocolate chips to practice at home and for my demo today.  (Really, thanks to Enjoy Life for making chocolate chips that I can serve to my family and guests with confidence in their safety!)

Megan and I are on a journey here -- cooking, talking, and writing about how to make every kitchen a Welcoming Kitchen.  We hope these recipes help make your Welcoming Kitchen a little sweeter this spring.

Thanks for all of your support!

Happy Cooking!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome to Our Kitchen 
-- Our Allergy-Free, Gluten-free, and Vegan Kitchen--

Here are our recipes that are on WGN Lunch Break today! If you are a regular follower, thanks for checking in - we so appreciate your support and encouragement. If you are a new follower today, please sign up for our email notifications or become our follower on Facebook or Google!

We are thrilled that you found us! Kim and I have been on quite an adventure together to develop our Welcoming Kitchen...and we are loving it! We are a dynamic duo of a dietitian and a mom-taught cook! If you want to know more about our history and who we are: please click here or here!

Here's a Welcoming Kitchen apple crisp that not only is gluten-free, but also oat-free. The coconut oil gives it a hint of coconut flavor and the topping is really crispy.  

Here is our first recipe from our WGN Lunch Break segment!

Crispy Apple Crisp  

Makes 6 servings (or 4 more-generous servings)
Serve this apple crisp on its own or with sorbet or coconut-based ice cream.  

6 medium-sized apples 
1 1/2 cups gluten-free crispy rice cereal 
1/2 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup coconut oil  

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil a 2-quart baking dish or square baking pan. Finely crush 1 cup of crispy rice cereal into a powder. (A food processor works well for this.) 

Peel and thinly slice apples. Lay apple slices into the baking dish. In a small bowl, combine cereal flour, remaining cereal, syrup and coconut oil. Pour topping over apples, pat to cover. 

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  
Serve and Enjoy!!

Happy Cooking!
Kim & Megan

Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

This recipe is a sneak peak of a fantastic recipe from our upcoming Welcoming Kitchen book due out next spring.  This recipe is a great example of Welcoming Kitchen cooking ... Even when you are living with dietary restrictions, you can still enjoy delicious treats!

(Note: Since some commercially available sunflower seed butter is made on shared equipment with soy, you can make your own if you need to by grinding lightly toasted sunflower seeds in a food processor.  Add a little canola oil if you need a smoother consistency.)

Chocolate-Sunflower Seed Butter Cups
Makes 24

1 cup crispy rice cereal
2 cups allergen-free chocolate chips

Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners.
In a food processor, combine rice cereal and sunflower seed butter.  
Blend together until cereal is completely broken down.

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring continuously, 
until chocolate is half-way melted. 
Remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.

Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons melted chocolate into each muffin paper.
Top chocolate with 1 teaspoon sunflower seed butter mixture.
Top each candy with 1 1/2 teaspoons melted chocolate.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Keep candies in the refrigerator before serving, as the chocolate will begin to melt in a warmer room.

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 for pre-order now. Super Seeds, is available now! You can also find tasty recipes in Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes.