Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatfree Monday Menu Ideas

A couple of weeks ago, our school had Family Green Night.  The school opens up its doors in the evening and families are invited in to explore a bunch of different activities and displays related to the environment.

I was in a classroom (with my great friend and yoga teacher, Karen) that focused on plant-based eating.  Why plant-based eating?

As my kids will tell you, eating vegan is better for the Earth, better for us and definitely better for the animals.

For Family Green Night we focused on giving some basic information from the United Nations and the Humane Society of the United States about the environmental impact of livestock farming. 

We also had computers set to so families could calculate their carbon footprint.  We had tips and substitutions to make it easier to eat veg, and we had lots of cookbooks with scrap paper so folks could jot down appealing recipes.

The art teacher helped kids put together their own cookbooks featuring plant-based recipes, too.

What about folks who aren't interested or ready to adopt a wholly plant-based (vegan) diet? 

Try eating only foods that come from plants one day a week.  (Or even one day a month.)  It will significantly impact your carbon footprint.  You also might find that you're eating more fresh produce as a result.  You also might discover that you LIKE eating this way and maybe you'll change up a few more meals during the week.

To make it easier, I have been sharing our family's Monday menu so that you can see what the reality of a family's vegan diet can look like (even with dietary restrictions).

Here's what we're eating today:

Breakfast -- Crispy Brown Rice with non-dairy milk and strawberries and bananas.

Lunch -- Leftover black bean and sweet potato enchiladas from Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet cookbook.

Snack -- Zucchini Bread and non-dairy yogurt

Dinner -- Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Chickpeas

Dessert -- Coconut-milk ice cream

What are you eating?

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chocolate Pepita Cups

A few weeks ago, I got a package from Gerbs Pumpkin Seed Co.  They produce a line of pumpkin seeds (mostly shelled, roasted pepitas) with a variety of flavors.  They also have sunflower seeds and shell-on pumpkin seeds.

What's special about these seeds is that they are allergy-safe.  Unlike lots of other commercially available seeds, they are free of nuts, tree nuts, soy and sesame. 

 They also taste great.  What is also special, too, is that Gerbs is offering Welcoming Kitchen readers a 10% discount off that total order by using the word "welcoming."

I use pepitas frequently in my cooking to take the place of nuts, due to my son's nut allergy.

These pepitas work perfectly in my recipes.

For example,  
Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Phew ... I'm coming in just under the wire.  

April, it turns out, is National Grilled Cheese Month.

As a true-blue fan of this sandwich art-form, I had to create a special sandwich for this month-long celebration. 
Spicy Crunch Grilled Cheese - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen
Spicy Crunchy Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You might be thinking that grilled cheese sandwiches might not be on the menu in a Welcoming Kitchen.  No gluten?  No dairy?  Honestly, it's no problem!

This sandwich is gooey and crispy, while tasting fresh and spicy.  The structure of the sandwich is a quesadilla made from corn tortillas (or other tortilla of your choosing) with the flavorful new Daiya offering Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Style Wedge.  (If you read this blog, you know that I'm a huge fan of Daiya.  No, they didn't provide me with anything to sing their praises.)

The center of the sandwich has marinated cabbage, a little chives for that onion-y flavor without the bad breath, tomatoes and avocado.

I bet you're drooling now.  You'd better hurry up and make this before April ends.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I eat grilled cheeses all year round!

I shared this recipe with Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love , Allergy Friendly Fridays and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Spicy Crunchy Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh-squeezed, if possible)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon agave nectar
dash of salt 
a couple of grinds of pepper
1 tablespoon chives, finely diced 
1 cup shredded cabbage
4 corn tortillas
2 ounces Daiya Jalapeno Garlic Havarti Style Cheese Wedge (or other vegan cheese)
tomato slices
avocado chunks

1.  Combine lime juice, olive oil, agave and salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
2.  Add chives and cabbage to dressing, toss, and set aside.
3.  Over a medium flame, cook 2 quesadillas (tortilla, cheese, tortilla stack for each) until cheese is melted, flipping halfway through -- about 3-4 minutes total.
4.  Remove quesadillas from heat, cut in half.
5.  Make a sandwich with one half of a quesadilla on the bottom, half of the salad, tomatoes and avocado in the middle, and the other half of the quesadilla on top.  Repeat for second sandwich.

Happy Cooking!

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

Discovering that my son had multiple food allergies and changing our family's diet eight years ago was the beginning of a journey with many unexpected joys in addition to the obvious challenges.

One of the greatest gifts of this journey has been the humongous-hearted people who have entered our lives!  One of these amazing people is Tess Masters, aka The Blender Girl.  Her website, is a wealth of information, giggles and most-importantly delicious recipes.

Tess is giving away a 7-quart KitchenAid Stand Mixer to one lucky reader this month.  To make the giveaway even more fun (and what could be more fun than winning a kitchen superstar worth over $500?), she is featuring a different gluten-free blogger every day this month.  Today the featured blog is Welcoming Kitchen!

Please stop by and enter the giveaway.  (I won the last one, a VitaMix, so I can tell you dreams really can come true!)  When you're there, please take time to see all of the tongue-tingling baked goods that bloggers came up with this month.  I assure you, you won't want to leave your kitchen for a long time! 

Also, it's Monday, so I want to give some ideas of what we will probably eat today in case you're looking for some Meatless Monday inspiration!

Breakfast--Crunchy Topped Apple Coffee Cake (of course!) with non-dairy yogurt (So Delicious makes a soy-free, coconut-based yogurt if you need to avoid soy.)

Lunch--Sandwiches and fruit for my guys (hummus for one and sunflower seed butter and jelly for the other two men in my life) and fruit.  I'll probably have a baked sweet potato topped with a little sunflower seed butter.

Snack--A fruit and kale smoothie (a standby in our house)

Dinner--Thai-Inspired Rice Noodles from the Welcoming Kitchen cookbook with a salad.

Dessert--Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies from Ricki Heller's Sweet Freedom cookbook.

What are you making that's meat-free?

Please "like" us on Facebook (Welcoming Kitchen) and follow us on Twitter (@welcomekitchen) to keep the conversation going!

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One of the amazing people I met at the Gluten and Allergen-free Expo in Chicago this past weekend was Gigi from Gluten-free Gigi.

Gigi runs an information-packed website that I think would be helpful to anyone negotiating a gluten-free lifestyle.  She comes at recipe creation and nutrition from a science background, so you really learn a lot when you listen to her.

And you can hear what she has to say tomorrow!  Gigi is offering Welcoming Kitchen readers a discount on one of her very popular webinars.  Tomorrow's topic is about negotiating multiple food allergies.  The price for her often sold-out webinars is usually $29.95, but if you click on this link, you can get in on the action for $14.95! 

Here's what Gluten-free Gigi says she will cover in this session:

1. You’ll learn to create a Master Grocery List that takes ALL food allergies in your household into account.
2. You will discover REAL ways to save money at the checkout while boosting nutrition in your family’s meals!

3. I show you simple ways to combine incomplete proteins to get complete meatless proteins on your table fast!

4. We’ll discuss macronutrients (Protein, Fat, Carbs) and how to get the BEST ones on your table at every meal and snack!

5. You’ll become a PRO at disguising nutrients in everyday dishes your family loves... and no one will ever know!

6. I give you tips on how to put boredom at mealtime behind you with exciting, balanced, delish meals every single day!

7. I’ll show you exactly how to develop a plan to cook once and fashion multiple meals from your efforts, complete with specific ideas on meals and even a few simple recipes!

8. I share my extensive trial and error on substitutes for common allergens like dairy, eggs, and corn in your gluten free allergen free cooking and baking... this is a mini-webinar in itself!!

9. You’ll see what happens to 1 muffin recipe when I use 5 different egg replacements... fascinating results you can use for successful results in your egg free baking!

10. I’m also dishing up tips, tricks, and experience on keeping an allergen free kitchen, the TRUTH about dining out with multiple food allergies, and giving you the BEST of meals on the go for kids and adults!

I'm excited to be able to pass this great deal along to you!  Check out Gigi's site for more info!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, April 16, 2012

   I just got back from Nourished, a food blogger conference.  

Wow!  Did I learn a lot!  I want to better communicate with you, and I want you to be better able to communicate with me.  In one day, I heard so much about what I could do to make our Welcoming Kitchen more, well, welcoming.

One change that I will be making is to better utilize Facebook and Twitter to let you know when I hear about things that I think might be useful or interesting.  For example, I will pass along information about product recalls, yummy-sounding recipes I find on other sites, giveaways here and elsewhere.  I also hope that you will share what you're finding interesting at our page. 

Would you please "like" Welcoming Kitchen on Facebook

Would you please "follow" Welcoming Kitchen on Twitter (@welcomekitchen)

Another thing that I'd like to do is let you know what we're eating on Mondays.  Whether you need some menu ideas to avoid getting bored or you're thinking about trying to eat less meat and dairy and are unsure how to do that within the context of a restricted diet, I'd like to give you a few ideas.  

Two of my favorite kids (aside from my own), Gavin and Noah, decided they wanted to try to go meatless once a week to lesson their impact on the environment.  For more information, check out what the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has to say about food and the environment

So, what are we eating today?

Breakfast: Oatmeal with dried, sweetened cranberries, a little maple sugar and non-dairy milk.

Lunch: Falafel with chopped salad for me, leftover mac and cheese (made with soup base in place of water) and strawberries for the boys.

Snack:  Apple

Dinner: Cream of Broccoli Soup (with Daiya for Evan, without for Casey) and biscuits

Dessert: Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins

What are you eating? 

Happy Cooking! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes is a Nautilus Silver Award Winner in the Food/Cooking/Healthy Eating category.

I'm so excited, I might just have to cook something!!!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A few weeks ago, the Sandwich Petals company sent me a package of their flatbreads to try and review.

Sandwich Petals are a new gluten-free flat bread (the company calls them, "The Ultimate Gluten-Free Flat Bread) that come in three flavors.  The flatbreads are not only gluten free, but dairy free, soy free, nut free, egg free, and non GMO.  They're made from a blend of 10 grains and grain-like seeds, including corn, flax, sesame, buckwheat, brown rice, sorghum, millet, quinoa, teff and amaranth.

They come in three flavors: Agave Grain, Spinach Garlic, and Chimayo Red Chile.

As you can imagine, there are not too many packaged products that meet the Welcoming Kitchen formula -- allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan, so I'm always excited to pass along news of a product that works for us.

We tried all three flavors in a couple of different ways.  As recommended on the label, these flatbreads taste so much better if they're heated.  Our favorite uses were sunflower seed butter and chocolate chips melted in the Agave Grain version and quesadillas made with refried beans, salsa and Daiya melted in the Chimayo Red Chile.

I checked on the Sandwich Petals website to see if they were available in a store near me, but they are not.  You can order them straight from the website, though, if you want to give them a try. 

I'm getting ready to go to Nourished and the Gluten and Allergen-free Expo at the end of this week.  If you're in the Chicago area, you should definitely check out all of the information and samples available at the Expo! 

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Vegan Snack Ideas

Spring has sprung here in the Midwest!

Though a little early this year (by a month!), our trees are in full, gorgeous bloom and our gardens are bursting with daffodils and tulips.

My boys and I are loving life!  We are riding bikes and running around and playing with friends!

What we need for this new, on-the-go lifestyle is an assortment of healthy snacks to fuel our fun.

Check out my post on Balanced Platter this month for healthy snack ideas and Ricki Heller's wonderful review of Welcoming Kitchen.  Then, after being swayed by her review, you can buy Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes for half-off over at Amazon!

Happy Cooking!