Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Veggie Burger, black beans, vegan and gluten-free
Black Bean Burger with Salsa on Greens

I am swamped. Too much work, too little time.

Still, my family needs to eat. That was what motivated me to write Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen and Gluten-free Vegan Recipes. I needed food that I could whip up quickly and simply that tasted good and was safe for anyone I was serving who had allergies or intolerances.
 Food Allergy Cookbook

When I'm overwhelmed with deadlines, chores, and other time consumers, I pull out my little Welcoming Kitchen book and cook something from what I have in my pantry that will nourish my family.

These Black Bean Burgers fit that bill perfectly!

I shared this recipe with the Meatless Monday blog hop.

 Black Bean Burgers
 4 burgers
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup corn kernels (either fresh or frozen and thawed)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon oil (olive, canola, etc.)

Mash black beans with a potato masher or fork.  Mix in salsa, corn, onion, and cornmeal.  Form into 4 patties.
Heat oil in a skillet.  Cook burgers in hot pan, cooking 2-3 minutes per side.
Happy Cooking!

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

straws and containers for smoothies

What to do with a picky lunch eater?

I have tried it all. Begging, bribing and threatening! 

What helped most?  Asking what would be a good lunch. (Now, why did it take me so long to figure that out?!)

My boys want a lunch that they can eat as fast as possible so they can maximize recess.

I want them to have enough fuel in their bellies to make it through the day. (Ideally, there would be some nutrition in there, too!)

They decided smoothies would be fast, nutritious and delicious. Even better when that smoothie is in the form of a chocolate shake!

How to get a smoothie to school was the next dilemma.

I found these lunch-box sized thermal containers that keep drinks cold until lunch. If I prefill it with ice-cold water while I'm making the smoothie, it keeps them even colder. Just pour out the cold water and pour in the smoothie.

My boys like to drink their smoothie with a straw. At home we use glass straws (made from thick Pyrex), but when I sent them to school, one broke. We now have stainless steel straws for school. The little straw brush that came with my glass straws keeps both types clean.

Allergen-free Vegan Chocolate Shake
Chocolate Shake with Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple

This Chocolate Shake that I made for The Balanced Platter is a favorite lunch.

I shared this with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Wellness Weekend.

Vegan Chocolate Shake 
Makes 4 servings 

  • 1 cup sweet potato, baked, mashed and refrigerated
  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons date paste (pitted medjool dates either pre-soaked in hot water and pureed, or pureed with a little water)
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk drink (I used unsweetened coconut milk beverage.) 
  • 1 cup ice, or more to taste
  1. In a blender, combine all ingredients, except ice. Blend until well combined.
  2. Add ice, and blend until thoroughly combined.

    Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vegan, Gluten-free Popped Amaranth

While working on a new project (I'll tell you more about it later!), I have been struggling with the best way to pop amaranth.

What is amaranth and why would you want to pop it?

Amaranth is a power-packed seed (kind of a pseudo-grain) that hosts a whole range of nutrients, including all of the amino acids, high protein, lots of calcium and iron. 

Normally, I cook amaranth like a grain (as in Cream of Amaranth or Cheesy Amaranth) or use it ground as a flour. It adds a nutty flavor and boosts the nutrition of a whole range of recipes.

I wanted to pop it. Why? It pops up into itty bitty popcorn-like puffs. These puffs can be eaten as a cold cereal, used in a trail mix, eaten out of hand (though they're very small) or mixed into other recipes where you would use crispy rice.

The dilemma is that because of their size, amaranth grains are just as likely to burn as to pop. 

After much trial and error, this method worked best for me. I recognize that the amounts being cooked at one time are tiny. If you use too much, the seeds won't have enough contact with the hot pot bottom and won't pop. If you keep the heat on, hoping to pop them all, you will definitely burn some and then the whole lot will taste burned.

I shared this post with Gluten-free Fridays and  Wellness Weekend.

Popped Amaranth
Yield: Popping increases the volume by about 3x.

  • Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • When a drop of water immediately balls up, add 1 teaspoon amaranth. Spread to evenly distribute over bottom of pot, cover and turn off heat.
  • Most of the amaranth will pop, the seeds that don't pop will still have a nice toasty flavor and crunch.
  • Pour into a bowl, and repeat until you have the desired amount.
  • Note: If you use a soup pot, you can cook up to 1 tablespoon at a time.
Happy Cooking!

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

sugar-free granola, gluten-free and vegan

It turns out my kids don't eat too much lunch at school.  Why?  The faster they eat, the sooner they can get out to play at recess.

I have worked hard to make lunches that will be so enticing that they will eat some of it (even a sunflower seed butter and chocolate chip sandwich when I was really desperate!). 

My main nutrition strategy, though, is to give them breakfasts that have lots of good stuff, so even if they just eat a bit of lunch, they won't be too worse for wear.

On The Balanced Platter today, I highlight some of my favorite ideas for breakfast (and have my recipe for fruit-sweetened granola). Please stop by and add some ideas of your own.

Happy Cooking!

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

Monday, August 5, 2013

Travel with allergies
Lucy relaxing on vacation.

Summer is a pretty good time to be a dog.

My pooch, Lucy, just had the time of her life on vacation with our family.

She swam, hiked, played with the boys and got to be with us 24/7 for two weeks. 

Lucky for Lucy, the things that make it easier to travel with food allergies also make it better for being a dog on vacation.

Vacation with Food Allergies

Our number one travel tip is: Have some control over where you stay.

  • Go camping. Pack up coolers with safe and delicious foods, and enjoy the great outdoors.  
  • Stay with friends or family. Send along a list of preferred brands and safe foods before you go, so that there are no surprises. You can also go grocery shopping together to plan safe meals to enjoy.
  • Rent a house or cottage, rather than staying in a hotel. If you have your own kitchen to use, you don't have to rely on unfamiliar restaurants that might or might not be able to accommodate your needs. 
This summer, we rented a cottage on a small lake. We had campfires, went hiking, and swam. We stayed up late looking at stars and hung out during the days reading books. It was peaceful and fun.

Lucy got to be with her people 24/7, and we all enjoyed our time together.

Having a pet helps make our lives richer. (We also have a cat, but she couldn't come along.)

My friend, Stephanie Weaver of Recipe Renovator, understands the connection between people and their pets. She has written a beautiful book about pet love and loss, called Golden Angels. Stephanie has undertaken a Kickstarter campaign to get her book into print and to help spread the word through a book tour. If you are a pet lover, please check out her site and find a recipe for yummy dog treats. She is offering some nice thank you gifts for people who donate to her campaign.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Happy Cooking!

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