Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freedom Foods, allergen-free, gluten-free cereal

When my son, Casey, was first diagnosed with food allergies about 10 years ago, trying to figure out what packaged foods might work for us was a real challenge. Today, that job is so much easier (not to mention tastier)! There are more and more companies catering to folks with food allergies and intolerances, and the products out there -- from cereal to yogurt to cookies -- get better all the time.

Freedom Foods, a cereal company from Australia, contacted me to tell me that their cereal line is now available in the United States. They sent me 6 kinds of allergy-safe cereal to try. 
  • Tropic Os
  • Maple Crunch
  • Pro-Teen Crunch
  • Ancient Grain Flakes
  • Corn Flakes
  • Rice Flakes

Their contamination-prevention policies are really fantastic. They explain it in great detail on their website, but basically they control what goes into their cereals from field to box, and they test along the way to be sure it's safe. All of the cereals are free from gluten, wheat, nuts, soy, eggs, dairy and sesame.

We ate the cereals for breakfast and I worked with them a bit in the kitchen. They are not overly sweet, which I appreciated and the flakes were really crunchy. They were all pretty popular, and we ended up going through all of the boxes without leaving any behind. The Tropic Os were not a huge hit, but my family doesn't really care for fruit-flavored cereal, so it might have been just due to preference.

I couldn't just leave it at cereal and non-dairy milk! I had to give them a little workout in the kitchen. I tried to make a natural rice crispy treat with the Rice Flakes. That didn't work out too well, as the cereal got soggy.

Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups, gluten-free & vegan

These Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups, though, were fantastic! They are crunchy and chocolaty with just a hint of toasted coconut goodness. If Freedom Foods hasn't made its way to your town yet, you could make these with any crispy rice cereal.

Crispy Rice and Coconut Chocolate Cups (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free)
Makes 18 candies 

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Flakes cereal (or crisp rice cereal)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

  1. In a dry pan over medium heat, lightly toast coconut flakes until lightly golden and fragrant (a minute or two).
  2. Mix coconut with cereal.
  3. In a small pot, melt chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring continuously until halfway melted. Turn off heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted.  
  4. Mix cereal mixture into chocolate. Stir to coat.
  5. Drop mixture by the tablespoon into candy papers.
  6. Refrigerate for at least one hour to harden.
Disclosure: I received 6 boxes of cereal for review and no other compensation. The opinions are my own.

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.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Did you ever get a treat in the mail that was even better than you had hoped? That is exactly how I feel about my copy of The Blender Girl Cookbook by Tess Masters. Not only does it contain 100 easy, healthy gluten-free and vegan recipes, but it is chock full of tips, information, advice and Tess' warm personality.

This book delivers on its promise for "super-easy" and "super-healthy" recipes. I had friends over yesterday at the last minute to celebrate a friend's new baby (the beautiful Eden). I needed a company-worthy dish that came together quickly and that wouldn't burn the baby if we dropped some on her head! I whipped up the watermelon gazpacho from The Blender Girl Cookbook, and it was delightful. It was fresh and summery and made the lunch feel like a party.

Each of the recipes is gluten-free and vegan (so egg, dairy and animal-free), but nuts and soy are present in a fair number of the recipes. I think the book is still worthwhile, even with those allergies, though, because there is so much information that will be helpful to anyone interested in healthy eating, and there are many recipes that will work regardless of restriction.

Did I mention that this book is GORGEOUS? 
My soup turned out beautiful, but I could not come close to capturing is prettiness like the picture in the book does, so I'm going to show you that one (with permission, of course)!
Photo Credit: Anson Smart

This recipe for Watermelon Gazpacho is provided courtesy of Tess Masters and The Blender Girl Cookbook.

watermelon gazpacho is the bomb!

The name says it all. Gazpacho rocks, and this concoction delivers a surprising taste

explosion with every spoonful. A happy blend of sweet and spicy, the flavors in this

chilled first course or main mellow nicely with time. In fact, the change in flavor

is quite pronounced. This is particularly true of the onion. Like a fabulous sangria

(see page 174), this soup is better the next day. But, it’s delicious a few hours after

preparing, so don’t feel like you have to wait beyond the three-hour chill.

  • serves 8 as a starter, 6 as a main
  • 4 cups (640g) roughly chopped seedless watermelon, plus 6 cups (960g) diced
  • 2 cups (300g) diced tomato
  • 1 cup (145g) peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup (70g) diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced green serrano chile, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon natural salt, plus more to taste
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the 4 cups of chopped watermelon into your blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds,until liquefied. Pour into a serving bowl. 

Add the 6 cups of diced watermelon and all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine well. Tweak flavors to taste (you may want more onion, lime juice, chile, or salt).

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably 12 to 24 hours to allow the flavors to fuse and the vibrant red color to develop. Before serving, tweak flavors again (if it’s too spicy, add some lime juice). Pass additional lime juice and salt at the table.

Some of my other favorites from this book are: 
  • Ginger Apple Pear Butter
  • If You're Chilly Grab Some Chili 
  •  Cheerful Chimichurri Bowl
  • Pineapple Vanilla Sangria
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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

gluten-free, vegan roasted tomatoes with spinach pasta

I am a fan of fresh, bright flavors when the spring comes. In winter, I'm all about soups and stews, but just like my sweaters, I need to put them away now.

This pasta has delicious, straight-forward flavors, and it tastes amazing. I know it's simple, but sometimes you don't need a lot of flash for something to be really special. 

You can also use fresh herbs, but I think the dried herbs soften up nicely with the juices from the tomatoes and make a special "sauce." Keep the seeds in the tomatoes, because they contribute to a more tomato-y flavor.
Pasta with Herb Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach
Serves 2
  • Pasta cooked according to package directions (I used rice noodles, but your favorite pasta will work well.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fresh)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fresh)
  • sprinkling of sea salt
  • fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Approximately 4 cups of spinach washed and stems removed
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Cut tomatoes in quarters and then cut each quarter in half.
3. Toss tomatoes in half the olive oil.
4. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle herbs over the tomatoes.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
6. In a small skillet, heat remaining olive oil.  Saute spinach until wilted, stirring constantly.
7. To serve, top prepared noodles with half the spinach and the tomatoes.  Mix it together so the juice from the tomatoes coats the pasta.

Happy Cooking!

This  recipe was shared with Allergy Free Wednesday.

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Curried Greens photo from 12 Terrific Detox Recipes courtesy of Stephanie Weaver.

We're all busy. I'm not saying anything you don't live with all day long. 

As much as I love looking through a beautiful cookbook filled with endless possibilities ... and I do love that, I am ever so grateful to find the short, but sweet, e-book series Stephanie Weaver has produced. Hopefully, you know Stephanie from her delectable, but healthy, blog Recipe Renovator. If not, you should hop over there right after you finish reading about her e-books! On her website, Stephanie takes favorite dishes and transforms them into a healthier version of themselves. Who couldn't use a little more healthy deliciousness in their lives?

Stephanie has created a really wonderful series of electronic cookbooks. Her series, called 12 Terrific, each features 12 perfect recipes on a central theme. (Though her low-sodium condiments book actually boasts 20 recipes.) Not only that, but each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photo. 

Some of the titles in the series include:
 I reached out to Stephanie because I wanted to review one of her terrific books for you. I just couldn't pick one, though, because what I really love is all of them! I think you will, too. I figured it was better to just tell you about the series, so you could discover them yourself.

Required Disclosure: I have received some of these e-books from Stephanie Weaver, but the opinions here are my own.

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.