Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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I created a vibrant, fresh potluck menu for VegNews.  

Next time you're invited to a barbecue, pool party or picnic, whip up one (or all) of these summery offerings.  You'll eat well, even with a restricted diet, and the other guests will be wowed by how delicious vegan, gluten-free and allergy-friendly fare can be! (Click on the links for the recipes.)

Pineapple Tomatillo Salsa

Start the party out with a raw Pineapple Tomatillo Salsa You can add avocado to transform that salsa into a fruity guacamole.

Brown Rice and Chickpea Salad

Here's a tip: Bring a hearty main-dish salad.  That way, you'll be sure that you have something substantial that you can eat.  This Middle Eastern-inspired salad is built around the filling base of brown rice and garbanzo beans.

Vegan Gluten-free Lemon Cookies

 Finish off your outdoor feast with frosted lemon cookies. They have a little hint of coconut flavor, too.  

Happy Cooking!

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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Today on Facebook, I saw a link to a story from the  TV program, The Doctors.

In full disclosure, I didn't see this show when it aired, but I watched the clip on the Internet.  You can see it here

As part of a series giving tips on how to achieve an ideal weight for summer, a plastic surgeon, a real doctor, suggested that people tell waiters that they have a butter allergy when visiting a restaurant to get less fat in their meals.  He goes on to say that the only way to be sure that the restaurant will take you seriously is to say that it's an allergy.

Wow!  Where to start?!

First of all -- what is a butter allergy?  I'm quite sure he is not implying that diners pretend that they have a dairy allergy.  Just the butter.  Hmmm.....

It's hard enough to get people to understand the severity of a REAL food allergy -- to take it seriously.  How much more difficult is that task when an expert is encouraging people to just go ahead and make up allergies?

So with it common knowledge that people are making up allergies to lose weight (if this advice is heeded), how seriously will restaurants take the safety precautions that are required for food allergies?  It's extra effort, which translates to extra expense, for a restaurant to ensure that cross-contamination doesn't occur to keep allergic diners healthy.  If they suspect the claim is bogus, will they take those extra steps?

Food allergies, a potentially life-threatening medical condition, is not a joke.  How can a medical professional go on national television and treat the healthcare needs of MILLIONS of people so cavalierly?

Shame on you, The Doctors.  I only hope that if the food-allergic community helps shine a spotlight on this issue that in the future they will be more responsible. 

What do you think?

Happy Cooking!

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

We have a winner!  The winner was chosen by   I have contacted the winner, glutenfreehappytummy.  Thank you so much for your interest.

My food-allergic son is finishing up the 3rd grade soon.  Sometimes it seems like a million years ago that he started school.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

I can remember, though, in addition to all of my hopes for him -- that he would make caring friends, that he would like his teacher, that he would blossom in school -- my worries.  

Although every child's experience is unique, I think that most parents of children living with food allergies face some degree of anxiety when their child is starting school.  Will he be safe?  Will other kids exclude him because of his differences?  Will he be able to speak up for himself when necessary?

We have been extremely fortunate.  Our school community has been very welcoming of my son.  We have had bumps in the road as I wrote about here, and I think there is always work that could be done to make improvements as I wrote about here, but friends and parents have gone out of their way on a continual basis to keep my son happy and safe.  I am eternally grateful for that.

Children who are going to enter the school environment for the first time next fall have a new tool to ease their transition.  Sharon Chisvin has written a picture book illustrated by Carol Leszcz that simply and in child-friendly rhyme introduces the issue of food allergies to children.

It might help the other children in class to understand food allergies and become a little more compassionate if a teacher or parent reads The Girl Who Cannot Eat Peanut Butter at the beginning of the school year.  In a cheery way, it illustrates that children all have things that make them unique and that food allergy is just one of these qualities.  Though upbeat, this book does not sugar-coat the risks that food allergies pose.

Would you like to win a copy of this picture book?  Leave a comment for one entry.  If you "like" Welcoming Kitchen on Facebook, leave that in another comment.  If you follow Welcoming Kitchen (welcomekitchen) on Twitter, leave another comment.  I will pick a comment using a random number generator on Friday, June 1.

Good luck! (By the way, this is my first giveaway.)

Happy Cooking!

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

Monday, May 21, 2012

We always say in the Midwest (possibly to make ourselves feel better) that we appreciate the summer so much more than folks who live in warm climates year-round.  

How could a Californian know the joy of the first real spring day?

Could someone from the South really know the excitement of the first day that the pool is open?

As a food-allergy family, we get that same giddiness when we find somewhere we can all safely eat that isn't home.

A couple of years ago, we found an Italian ice parlor that serves a wide range of dairy-free, nut-free frozen treats that are safe for my food-allergic son and appropriate for the rest of my vegan family.  They have a dedicated freezer for their Italian ices and use separate scoops so there's no cross-contamination.

Being able to take my boys for an "ice cream" on a hot day for the first time brought my husband and me to tears (though they were quickly dashed away). 

Yesterday it was over 90 degrees and sunny.  A perfect day for ice cream, right?

Not so much!  Our Italian ice parlor is right near Wrigley Field (our historic baseball park), and we were in the middle of the Crosstown Classic when the Cubs play the White Sox.  There was no way we were going anywhere near there!

Lemon Strawberry Ice

What could we do instead? Make our own Italian ice.  Not only is it vegan and  allergy-friendly, it is refined-sugar-free.  And, my boys got an extra serving of fruit for their dessert, all the while knowing they had helped create a vividly colored, tart yet sweet, refreshing treat!

Before the recipe, though, I want to let you know what we'll be having for Meatless Monday -- a taco bar with all the fixings!  Everyone has fun when they can choose what to add to their own custom taco.

Strawberry Lemonade Italian Ice
Makes 4 generous servings

Juice of 6 lemons
2/3 pounds strawberries, hulled
2 cups melon chunks (I used musk melon, but honeydew would work well, too.)
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. (I used my Vita-Mix.)
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

(If you don't have an ice cream maker,  you can freeze the mixture in a freezer-safe dish.  Every half hour, scrape the mixture with a fork to keep it fluffy.)

I shared this recipe with the Chillin' and Grillin' Event and  Wellness Weekend, Healthy Vegan FridaysAllergy Friendly Friday, Allergy Free Wednesdays, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A gaggle of boys.

A sports-themed birthday party.

What could be better for my sons?

You wouldn't thing anything could top this already AWESOME combo.  

But there was something.  My humongous-hearted friend, Liz, added fun and compassion to this festive mix by introducing a Make-Your-Own Custom Cupcake activity.

Decorate Your Own Gluten-free Cupcake
What a custom cupcake!

With two food-allergic kids and one non-allergic vegan kid in the group, Liz baked up some safe cupcakes (chocolate and vanilla, since one buddy doesn't like chocolate) and provided a buffet of safe toppings.  She had small zip-top bags filled with individual portions of chocolate or vanilla frosting that we snipped off the corners so they could frost without mess.  She had allergy-friendly chocolate chips and sprinkles.  She had cut-up fruit and berries and vegan marshmallows (no one had a soy allergy).  

Decorate Your Own Gluten-free Cupcake
Another creative cupcake!

Each boy gleefully decorated -- and then gobbled -- his own cupcake creation.

Everybody felt both included and unique.  

It was truly one of the best birthday parties EVER!

Looking for some recipes?
I shared this post with Eat, Make, Grow and Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love.

Happy Cooking!


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

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dairy-free Soy-free Cream Cheese Frosting
Dairy-free, Soy-free Cream Cheese Frosting!

May 13-19 is Food Allergy Awareness Week this year.

What?  You mean there's an actual week that focuses on food-allergy awareness?

As the mom of a food-allergic child, at first this strikes me as a little funny.  

Food-allergy awareness comes into our lives on a daily basis.  
  • Lunch in the cafeteria 
  • Snacks after baseball games
  • Pizza and cake at birthday parties
  • Playdate treats

Oh right ... thinking about food allergies isn't the norm for families not living with it on a daily basis.  Food Allergy Awareness week can help get the word out about allergies to folks who might not be thinking about it at this very moment.  In fact, there are some helpful resources on the FAAN website about how to inform others about the needs and challenges of people living with food allergies.  

That calls for a celebration.  (Ok, ok, in my mind almost anything is cupcake-celebration-worthy, but this really is a big deal.)

So, I will give you the recipe for the yogurt-based frosting that I made to go with my Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins/Cupcakes that I made last week.   The tang of the yogurt provides just that little bit of sourness that you get in a yummy cream cheese frosting, but without the dairy and the soy.  Since these cupcakes and frosting are free of the top 8 allergens (like everything here at Welcoming Kitchen), you can serve them up to pretty much anyone who needs a little celebration.

But first, I'll let you in on what we're eating this Meatless Monday.  (Because it's Monday.)

  • Leftover muffins from our Mother's Day extravaganza with dairy-free yogurt for breakfast.
  • Leftover macaroni and cheese with garbanzo beans and fruit salad for lunch.
  • Popcorn for snack.
  • I think pot pie will be dinner, but I'm not sure yet.  
 I shared this recipe with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Allergy Free Wednesdays.

Dairy and Soy-free Cream Cheese Frosting (Yogurt Frosting)
(Makes more than enough to frost 9 cupcakes or a one-layer cake)

2 tablespoons soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread
1/4 cup vanilla-flavored coconut milk yogurt (I used So Delicious brand.)
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar 

In a food processor, blend together Earth Balance and yogurt.
Add in powdered sugar, and process together until smooth.
Refrigerate frosting to allow it to firm up before spreading.  (If you know that you want a pretty firm frosting, you can add more powdered sugar in that step as this is a softer frosting.)

I am sharing this post as part of TasteSpotting's focus on Food Allergy Awareness Day on May 18.  They have requested that we add this disclaimer:

** Disclaimer ** for any and all recipes associated with Food Allergy Awareness Day on TasteSpotting: “Please note that this recipe has not been reviewed by FAI or medical experts. Avoidance is the only accepted course of treatment for food allergy. Always verify ingredients or food products by checking with the manufacturer and/or your physician to ensure that any foods are safe for your unique allergy issues.”

Happy Cooking!

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


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Double Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes - Kim's Welcoming Kitchen

Bloggers all over America are baking cupcakes.  


To bring attention to the need for gluten-free food labeling laws.

May is Celiac Awareness Month and what better way to bring attention to the needs of the gluten-free community then to head to the kitchen? 

As a food allergy mom, I know first-hand the difference that food labeling can make.  When my son was first diagnosed with multiple food allergies, the grocery store was like a mine field.  There was no easy way to know if packaged foods were safe or not without memorizing lots of technical terms (albumen, for example) and a lot of guesswork.

Once the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 was passed, it made life a lot easier.  (Though it's not perfect.)  Gluten is not included in the law, though, and there has yet to be a legal answer to ease the minds of consumers.  That, however, is about to change.  Lawmakers are set to announce rules regarding gluten in September.

To celebrate how the new rules will affect each person, the American Celiac Disease Alliance is hosting an event featuring cakes-for-one (cupcakes!).  To see all of the delicious entries, go to the ACDA Facebook page There are drawings for prizes there, too.

I baked up Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes and topped them with Vanilla Frosting.  Yum!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Makes 15 Muffins (or cupcakes)


3 cups gluten-free oat flour (or 3 cups GF all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 t. xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or evaporated cane juice)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups raw grated zucchini
1 cup allergy-safe chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350.  Oil muffin pans or line with muffin papers.

In a medium bowl, combine oat flour (or all-purpose flour and xanthan gum), baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder; stir with a whisk.

In a large bowl, combine applesauce with 3/4 teaspoon baking powder.  Add sugars, oil, and vanilla to applesauce.  Thoroughly mix zucchini into applesauce mixture.

Mix dry ingredients into zucchini mixture.  Stir chocolate chips into batter.

Spoon into oiled muffin pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Happy Cooking!

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quick and Chunky Vegan Pasta Sauce
Quick and Chunky Pasta Sauce

 This Meatless Monday, I want to tell you about some of my favorite pantry staples.  

I, as I tell you all the time, am not a super-organized person.

That makes it all the more important to have some basics on hand for when my elaborate meal planning does not come off as anticipated.  (All the time, in my case!)

So what do I keep in stock for those times when I can't whip up the elaborate casserole that I intended, but still need dinner after baseball practice?

Some, but not all, of my favorites include:

  • canned tomatoes in a variety of formats (diced, paste, sauce, fire-roasted)
  • canned beans (black beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans)
  • canned pumpkin
  • canned artichoke hearts
  • a variety of grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • spices
  • olive oil and coconut oil
  • pasta (there are a wide range of gluten-free pastas available -- brown rice, quinoa, corn)
  • boxed non-dairy milk alternatives
  • dried cereal (In particular crisp brown rice cereal on its own or as an ingredient)
  • applesauce
  • frozen spinach (Though not technically in my pantry, I always buy it at the store so I'm never out.)

With these ingredients, I can figure something out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Obviously, fresh foods play an important role in my kitchen, but sometimes my day gets away from me and I don't get to the store, or I don't have time to make the lovely dishes that populate my imagination.  It is at those times that I am grateful that I have these items on hand.

My husband has been teaching children with autism for 25 years.  He has always focused on helping his kids to find their joy and their true selves.  He brings music and yoga and art into their daily lives, and they form friendships and a sense of community that is truly heart-warming to experience.  I am so fortunate that I get to share this part of his life by cooking with his kids every week.  Last week, we made an easy, chunky, pantry-based pasta sauce that I wasn't sure if they'd like.  They loved it.  Several of them had three servings.  One boy had four!

This Meatless Monday, I thought I'd share this recipe with you so that even if your best plant-based plan doesn't come off due to your hectic day, you can still whip up a quick, nourishing and delicious dinner. 

I shared this with Allergy-friendly Friday, Allergy-friendly Lunchbox Love, Wellness WeekendSlightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Allergy Free Wednesdays.

Quick and Chunky Pasta Sauce
Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove of garlic (or 2 small cloves)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Smash and mince garlic, add to olive oil.
Cook for 30 seconds, add dried spices and stir.  Cook for another 30 seconds or so.
Add drained tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer for 10 minutes (or longer if you have time).
Serve over pasta, polenta, rice or quinoa. 

Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vegan, Refined-sugar-free Cookies

I have had a blast the past few weeks cooking up sweet (but refined-sugar-free) treats from Ricki Heller's cookbook, Sweet Freedom.  

Today, over at The Balanced Platter, I have a review of this dessert-filled resource.  If you love sweets, but would like to cut back on your refined sugar, this is a book to check out! 

Happy Cooking!

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