Saturday, May 28, 2011

As my step-dad would say, my mom has a black belt in parenting.  She is an extraordinary mother. 

So many of the little things that I do with my kids to make them feel special come from her.

Signs all over the house for your birthday (or anything else special).
Favorite foods for celebrations.
Constant "I love yous."
Telling my kids to take a shower, because it will make you feel better.

And...making sure the seeds are out of the watermelon chunks.  My mom served us watermelon all summer long, and she always cut it into chunks and scraped out the seeds.  I thought everyone did this, until I went to other kids' houses and saw that their moms kept the seeds in and the kids spit them out.

My son has been sick for the past couple of days, and I wanted to give him special treats to make him feel better.

His favorite carrot cake muffins (from the book, of course!)
And, of course, watermelon chunks with the seeds removed.

My mom has made me and my sister feel special every day of our lives.  I work hard to make sure my kids know that feeling, too.

(My mom also made sure that we said thank you to those who have been kind to us.  The amazing Amy Green at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has been so supportive of us that she has our immense gratitude!  Please check out her site and her wonderful cookbook.)

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Monday, May 23, 2011

It has been crazy busy around here! 

We just found out that the publication date for Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes is going to be one week later than we thought.  Its release date is now June 14th.  That's publishing for ya!  It's good news for anyone thinking they want to buy our book, though, since that gives you another week to buy it at the very-discounted pre-order price. (It's 33% off!) Just click on the title above to go right to Amazon. 

As I've said before, one of the best parts of this whole journey has been making new friends.  We just found a community that seems like it was just made for us.  See the cute badge on the side of our blog?  It says that we're a vegan, gluten-free blog?  There's a whole community of bloggers who have come together at XGFX.ORG.  Even if you're not vegan or gluten-free, these bloggers have some delicious offerings that happen to be safe if you can't eat wheat, eggs or dairy.

We're so close to having copies of our cutie book in our hands!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's funny to me when I hear this question (kinda frequently).   It seems that I think about food all of the time between planning blog posts, reading others' food writing, creating recipes and cooking.  In my mind, there are so many choices of what to cook and eat that I sometimes get overwhelmed by choice.

Because I'm busy living my life, I forget that to others our diet might seem wacky.  My kids and I are vegan (so is our dog), and my husband is probably 97% vegan.  (He occasionally eats some cows' milk cheese if he's out.)  We also have a nut-free household.  Although we do eat gluten and soy in our home, we try not to over-rely on them, and eat a variety of gluten-free and soy-free foods, too.

I know from talking to other folks following special diets, that they also are asked a lot about what they can possibly eat.

Well ... the list is endless, really.

Fruits and Vegetables all sorts of ways
Seeds and Beans and Whole Grains
Soups and Stews
Muffins and Breads
Pizza and Pasta
Cakes and Pies
Risottos and Casseroles
Snacks and Dips and Chips

And so much more!

"What's Cooking?" has so many answers that I can only quietly chuckle when someone asks about what we eat.  The question in my head is, "How much time have you got?"

What have you been eating lately?

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

Maybe "good for you" is a stretch.  These muffins do feature whole grain oat flour, flaxseed meal, lots of nutrient-rich strawberries and coconut oil.  They're gluten-free and vegan, and completely free of the common allergens, that makes them healthy, right?
Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins -

I had so many reasons to go to the kitchen today.  First, my neighbor had an accident, and I wanted to give him a treat to feel better.  Second, it's Food Allergy Awareness Week, and I wanted to celebrate with something special.  And last, as my husband could tell you, I can't seem to stay out of the kitchen!

As any food-allergy mom will tell you, it's always Food Allergy Awareness day/week/month here at my house.  Living with someone with food allergies affects your life on a daily, even hourly basis.  I am so grateful that there are organizations like FAAN (the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) working to bring attention to the needs of folks with food allergies.  This week, in particular, the role that education and advocacy can play in keeping our kids safe has been highlighted for me.

As I wrote about earlier this year, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have introduced a new Breakfast in the Classroom initiative.  As initially conceived, every child would have breakfast (including milk, eggs and even nuts and peanuts) in the classroom.  This caused a lot of parents a great deal of anxiety.  Luckily, parents, Children's Memorial Hospital and CPS worked together to mitigate the risk.  Nuts and tree nuts were eliminated from the menu across the school system.  Schools could choose an egg-free option.  Classes that include kids who have potentially anaphylactic allergies that cannot be avoided (cows' milk is a mandatory part of the menu) will eat as a class in the cafeteria.  It's not a perfect solution, but it keeps my child safer.  Ideally, all children would eat in the cafeteria or a designated eating place.  This would protect the children who know they have food allergies and have a 504 plan in place, the children who don't have a 504, and the sizable percentage of children whose first reaction is at school.  Hopefully, the hard work of improving this program will continue.  I am so relieved and grateful that people in decision-making positions were willing to listen to our concerns, though.  I don't feel like I have to go to school with my son to keep him safe.  (I already completed second grade!)  Events like Food Allergy Awareness Week help bring attention to what we can all do to keep children and adults living with this serious health concern safe.

Now... on to the sweet stuff!

I was inspired to try this recipe because of two products that I was given to sample recently.  The first is the Mega Chunks from Enjoy Life . These are like chocolate chips on steroids.  They're huge bites of chocolate deliciousness! The other is Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil This fair-trade coconut oil is ultra luscious.

If you're looking for some great music to get you inspired in the kitchen, check out Kick Bricks (my wonderful and talented husband's band)!

Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins (allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan)
Makes 24 mini muffins (depending on the size of your pan)

2 cups gluten-free oat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
3/4 cup sugar (I used vegan cane sugar, you could use coconut palm sugar instead)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup rice milk
2 cups chopped strawberries (I used a 10 ounce bag of frozen strawberries, not thawed, chopped in the food processor)

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly oil a mini muffin pan.
In a medium bowl, combine oat flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and salt with a whisk.
In a large bowl, combine applesauce with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder.
Add flaxseed meal, oil, sugar, vanilla and rice milk.  Stir to combine well.
Add strawberries to wet ingredients and mix well.
Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet.  Be careful not to overmix.
Mix in chocolate chunks.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan.
Bake approximately 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  (If your muffin pan makes very small muffins--your yield is more than 24--reduce cooking time accordingly.)

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We just had the most amazing weekend.  For those of you who made it to the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo, you know what we're talking about.  For those of you that couldn't make it this year, mark your calendars for the Expo in Dallas or next year back in Chicago.

Here's a little recap of some of the highlights (though it's entirely possible we'll need a part two because our overwhelmed brains have missed some really fantastic bits) ...

On Friday afternoon, we went on a tour of the Enjoy Life factory and met their dedicated team.  These folks are so attentive to the needs of food-allergic and food-intolerant snackers.  Hearing them lay out their safety procedures made us loyal for life!  (They gave us bags of goodies, too.  So keep your eyes open for some rave reviews in the future.)

What made the tour even more ENJOYable was the group that we got to spend the afternoon with.  We definitely made some new friends that day!  Some of our friendly co-tourers included Jennifer Harris the gluten-free writer at the Examiner in Atlanta, who actually went on to introduce us for our cooking demo on Sunday; the beautiful and oh-so-nice Chelsey from; Lee Tobin (Whole Foods Gluten-free Bake House) with his lovely wife; chef-extraordinaire Joel Schaefer;  raw foodie, Jennifer Pohlman; and Alicia Woodward, editor at the essential Living Without magazine.

The rest of the weekend we were full-on Expo-ing!  We tasted amazing gluten-free and allergen-free products (which we will be telling you about and cooking with over the next several weeks).  We had a great cooking demo of Comfort Breakfast Foods from our new book.  We showed how to make biscuits, biscuit-based French toast, and blueberry syrup to an enthusiastic group.  Best of all, though, by far was getting to know so many amazing people who have been working with energy and dedication to making life better for people living with restricted diets.

Lucky for us, we got to spend time with some of the most incredible group of women:

... and a whole lot of other wonderful, interesting, and caring folks!  We are so thrilled to have so many new supporters in the gluten-free community.  They welcomed us into their world with open arms and we are so greatful!  Looking forward to more fun times ahead with our new friends.

Thanks to Jen Cafferty and the Expo team for showing us such a good time!

Happy Cooking!
Kim and Megan