Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies

Sorry it's been so long since I've written! I must say its been crazy around here. But I couldn't hold out on you during Christmas...I am so excited to share my Christmas cookie recipes with you!

My family is all about tradition during the holidays. We've done everything the same way since I was little, including the recipes we make for Christmas. Last year, my mom and I decided to suck it up and eat wheat, dairy, etc. because we didn't want to bother adapting our old recipes. This year, however, I didn't feel like being sick all through the holidays and decided to change our old cookie recipes to become dairy and gluten free. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but let me say my family and I are thrilled with the results!

For all the recipes, I used Bavaria Mills' All Purpose Flour Blend. This flour blend is incredible. The xanthan gum is in the mix, so there is no extra work needed! This flour can be used cup for cup in place of regular flour in almost any recipe. It can be found exclusively at Lingonberries Market.

Clockwise from top left we have Almond Crescents, Peanut-free Peanut Butter Blossoms, Cherry Jewels, Sugar Cookies, and Kolackys (not pictured).

Almond Crescents

These are my dad's absolute favorite. They are originally from the Martha Stewart Christmas Cookbook. Enjoy!

2 cups All Purpose gluten free flour
1 cup unsalted butter or butter substitute
1 cup finely chopped almonds or nut of your choice
1/2 cup corn-free powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the dusting sugar. Mix well with your hands. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Form dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball into a 2-inch roll. Each should be narrow and the center slightly flattened to create a crescent moon when curved. Set 1 to 2 inches apart on baking sheets. 
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until set but not browned. Allow cookies to cool slightly then dusting with powdered sugar.

Peanut-free Peanut Butter Blossoms

Unfortunately, because Hershey doesn't make a Kiss that's entirely dairy free, this recipes can't be made officially dairy free.

½ cup butter or butter substitute, softened
½ cup nut butter (I used almond butter)
1 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract 
¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ cup GF All Purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
Hershey Kisses candy (45 or so – depending on how large you make the cookie balls)

In a large mixing bowl, use a mixer and blend the softened butter, nut butter, coconut sugar, egg, vanilla, and salt until nice and creamy. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until even. Roll dough into balls. The size is around the size of ping-pong balls. Try to keep all the cookie balls close in size. You may have more or less than 45 especially the first time when you’re learning to make these cookies. 

 Place cookie balls on baking sheet. Leave space – about two inches all around. They spread a bit. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375 degrees F in a preheated oven until the cookies are done. 

As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, press a Hershey Kiss in the center of each. Press firmly until the Hershey Kiss is nestled in the middle of the hot cookie. Do this before removing the cookies from the baking pan. Once you’ve put Hershey Kisses in the middle of all the cookies on the pan, remove cookies and let cool.

Cherry Jewels

Usually, we put halved maraschino cherries in the center of these babies. Since those are the most disgusting things on earth, I decided to go with sugar free strawberry jam this year.

1/2 c. butter or substitute
1/4 c. coconut sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c. GF All purpose flour
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. finely chopped pecans
Strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except nuts and jam. Chill dough for at least an hour. Roll into balls and roll in chopped nuts. Place on cookie sheet and make a thumbprint indent in each cookie. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Spoon jam into thumbprints.

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups corn-free powdered sugar
1 cup butter or substitute
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups GF All Purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar

1 pkg. Tofutti cream cheese
1 pkg. Ricemellow creme
Food coloring

Mix powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in two halves. Roll each half 3/16 inch thick onto heavily floured surface and cut out shapes. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 7 to 8 minutes. 

For icing, beat together cream cheese and ricemellow creme. separate into containers and add food coloring of choice. Frost cookies when cool.


Pronounced "koh-latch-kees", these are a Polish favorite. We do a lot of traditional Polish recipes on Christmas Eve so these are a perfect compliment to the meal!

1 c. butter or substitute
1 pkg. Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups GF All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Thick jam or canned fruit filling, corn free

Cream butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Combine flour and salt, add in fourths to butter mixture, blending well after each addition. Chill dough until easy to handle. Roll dough to 3/8 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut 2 inch circles or other shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make a thumbprint in each cookie and fill with jam. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Basil Cashew Tilapia

This recipe is not only delicious, its one of the easiest, quickest dishes I've made in a while. You can also use cod or halibut in place of the tilapia.

Basil Cashew Tilapia

2-3 tilapia filets
1/2 c. raw cashews
Fresh or dried basil
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In food processor, grind cashews and basil until fine. Do not over process or you'll get nut butter. Coat filets with mixture and place in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Bake 10-12 minutes or until fish is opaque and flaky.

Serves 2-3.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips

I have a new obsession.

I was wandering around Whole Foods the other day, looking for new stuff to try, and I spotted these little buggers hidden away on a top shelf in the chip aisle. I've tried, unsuccessfully, to make kale chips before but they really don't turn out that well unless you have a dehydrator so I was eager to try these. I was definitely not disappointed! They come in 3 flavors, Kool Ranch, Zesty Nacho (channeling Doritos possibly?) and Bombay Curry. I've tried the ranch and the nacho. The nacho is spicy, just a warning :)

So the coolest part about these chips is that they are raw, vegan and gluten free, and they are made entirely from vegetables, spices, vegan nutritional yeast and vinegar. And since they are raw, they contain more than your daily value of Vitamins A and C, not to mention one bag has 10g of protein and only 200 calories. What's not to love?

Rhythm Superfoods also makes a bar that I'm hoping to try, I'll have to see if Whole Foods carries it. I'll definitely keep you all posted!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Curried Chicken and Squash

There is just not enough time in a day. I wish I could make the blog more of a priority, I just feel like I always have so much going on! But I refuse to leave you hanging as long as I did last time, so I'll jump right into it.

I've been wanting to test out this recipe for while, but to be honest, I'm a little intimidated by cooking squash, cause I never know how long to cook it so that it will turn out perfectly tender. But recipes exist for a reason so I figured I should give it a shot! My parents are getting used to being the guinea pigs for my experimentation in the kitchen.

I must say, as usual, this turned out great! Such a good blend of flavors. If you like curry, definitely give this a try!

Curried Chicken & Squash

1 1/2 c. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 c. red onion, chopped
3 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. safflower oil
1 c. lite coconut milk
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. dried cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over med-high heat with onions and garlic until onions are transluscent. Add squash, chicken, jalapeno, pepper, and water. Cover and cook, stirring occaisionally, for about 15 minutes, until squash is fork-tender. Uncover and add both milks and curry powder and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Add dried cilantro (fresh works too, i just didnt have any), salt and pepper. Serve alone or with rice!

Serves 4-6

Sunday, August 15, 2010

South Park Restaurant

Hey all!

Wow...I just realized I've been MIA for wayy too long. It's been a crazy few weeks. I hardly have time to cook, let alone blog about it. I have been cooking almost every night, but what's been happening lately is me getting stuff together in the morning and leaving instructions for my mom on how to finish the meal. Between work, kickboxing and what seems to be an overflowing social calendar, the blog hasn't been one of my priorities. But I promise I'll try to be better about it! Especially because I've got a few exciting recipes coming up, including my childhood favorite blueberry pie that I'll be adapting tonight for my dad's birthday!!

So I wanted to review South Park because I went there with my parents last night and I was beyond satisfied with my experience. South Park is a seafood/steak type restaurant downtown Portland that I honestly haven't been to for years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only were most of the menu items gluten free, but the waitress was knowledgeable on the dishes and very accomadating. I always appreciate when servers are patient with my endless list of questions. I mean, its not like I'm trying to be difficult, I don't have a choice.

As an appetizer, we ordered a date dish that was basically warm dates, stuffed with marcona almonds and wrapped in a thin slice of cured ham. Omg they were soo delicious. I never in a million years would have dreamed up that concoction but it was truly amazing. I'm like still not over it.

For my main entree, I ordered a seafood, sausage and chicken paella. By the way, I don't know why but I have the hardest time pronouncing that word. Anyway, the only thing I had to ask them to leave out was the tomato...even the chorizo sausage was gluten free! And the dish was not only delicious, but the perfect portion size. I finished the whole thing and wasn't disgustingly full afterwards, which is always a good thing.

I'm always so happy to find restaurants that manage to make delicious food for me and still make my experience enjoyable. South Park definitely has that! I would definitely encourage you to try it out!

I'm going to try to stay true to my word and write more often, so stay tuned! I'm sure I'll have a lot to share!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moussaka Casserole

Wednesday is my day off, so I figured I'd use all my free time to get a jump start on cooking for the rest of my busy week. I seriously did work...made both Wednesday and Thursday nights dinner, and made a cream sauce for the pasta recipe I'll be making tonight. I knew I wouldn't be around much yesterday between an Abby's Table demo and then seeing Steve Miller Band at Edgefield last night, so preparing Thursday's meal ahead was a must.

So I'm in the middle of my cooking when my dad calls. My friend Jamie and I had been trying to win Justin Bieber tickets all week. We couldn't justify actually buying them, seeing as he's barely 16 and we are 22. But we figured if we won them, it would be fate. Well, we didn't win, but my dad calls Wednesday night around 5:30 asking if i can drop my plans for the night. He scored two Justin Bieber tickets; apparently one of the radio giveaway pairs that no one ever claimed. Excited as could be, I started getting ready in order to make it to the concert by 7.

Well another minor detail about my busy week, I booked myself to dogsit for one family and water plants for another, both things I had planned on taking care of that evening. So basically, I had to run all over town making sure I tended to those responsibilities, resulting in a major stress meltdown for me. It was rough. Thankfully, it all melted away when we got to the Rose Garden to see Sean Kingston perform "Fire Burning". But unfortunately, I didn't ever have the time or appetite to eat my Moussaka that I'd worked so hard on all afternoon. I'm happy to report that it did get the parental stamp of approval, so I'm sure you'll love it too!

Moussaka is a Greek dish that normally calls for tomato sauce and cheese, so I never actually tried it when I was living there. I found this recipe, which uses pumpkin in place of the tomato, and figured it was fate. You all know I can't pass up cooking allergy-free Greek food!

Moussaka Casserole

1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground buffalo
1 walla walla onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 c. pumpkin
1 c. water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice eggplant and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle oregano, basil and 1/4 tsp. of the thyme over slices. Bake 12-15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the buffalo, onions and garlic and cook until meat is no longer raw, about 8 minutes. Add the pumpkin, water, salt and remaining thyme and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat.

In an 8x8 baking dish, lay half of the eggplant slices along the bottom. Spread with half the meat mixture. Cover with the remaining slices, then spread the rest of the meat mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Buffalo Shrimp and Summer Quinoa Salad

I've always loved anything drenched in buffalo sauce. I love the flavor, the perfect amount of heat; it's seriously good on everything. It never occurred to me how easy it would be to make it myself.

Back in the days where I could eat anything, buffalo sauce was my go-to dipping sauce. Especially for fries, but I wasn't picky. I'll put it on burgers, chicken strips, fish, whatever. My friends and I used to go to this restaurant back at school called Wingers who had their own signature buffalo sauce that they put on all their specialty menu items. My days at Wingers are a thing of the past, but thankfully, my days eating buffalo sauce aren't!

My friend Jamie is another buffalo sauce lover. Like, probably more than me even. So of course, when I decided to make this recipe, she was the first person I invited over.

The quinoa salad is a fresh addition to these heat-packed shrimp, added to the meal to cool your palate between bites of buffalo. I made two versions, one with tomatoes for my parents and jamie, and one without for me.

My one word of advice is to be careful not to cook the shrimp too long, they can get a little rubbery if they are overcooked.

Buffalo Shrimp

1/3 c. olive oil
4 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1 pound jumbo shrimp, shells removed, tails on
1/2 c. Franks hot sauce
1/2 stick butter

Whisk together the oil, garlic and vinegar in a large bowl until it looks murky. Season with salt and pepper. Add the raw shrimp, toss with your hands until all shrimp is coated in marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once time is up, turn oven to the broil setting, about 500 degrees. Place the shrimp on a broil pan, coat with remaining marinade and put in oven, door cracked, for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, then stir in hot sauce. Bring to a low simmer, then reduce heat to low to keep warm. If shrimp begin to look pink, use tongs to flip them over, and let them go no more than 2 minutes on the other side. Once shrimp is pink, remove from oven and toss in warm sauce. Serve warm.

Summer Quinoa Salad

2 c. water
1 c. uncooked quinoa
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 can. artichoke hearts, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced (optional)
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, about 12 minutes. Let quinoa cool before adding other ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, cumin, salt and pepper. When quinoa is cooled, add jalapenos, tomatoes, artichokes, carrots and parsley. Add dressing and gently toss to combine.

Both recipes serve 4.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pumpkin Soup with Jicama Turnip Salad

I'm housesitting this week, meaning I've literally only been at my house to cook and eat dinner. Since I have a dog waiting for me to let her out at the other house, I can't spend a whole lot of time at home, so I've been preparing meals that can be made fairly quickly.

Housesitting has been awesome. It's basically been some much needed girls nights, complete with wine and 80s chick flicks. I seriously have the best friends ever.

Anyways, getting back on track. Last night's menu had a very autumn-y feel to it, and I'm so excited to bring this recipe back in the fall. The salad, at least, was light and summery, so it wasn't too bad a meal to eat in the 90 degree heat. But it will definitely make more sense in a few months.

Pumpkin Soup

1 tbsp. butter or butter substitute
1 can pureed pumpkin
2 medium sweet potatoes, baked and pureed
1/4 c. almond butter
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper

Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the pumpkin, pureed sweet potatoes, almond butter, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Add broth, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Makes about 4 servings.

Jicama Turnip Salad

1 medium jicama, chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped
1/4 c. cashews
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. wheat free tamari
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Combine jicama, turnips and cashews in a food processor and pulse until coarse, should look a bit like rice. Transfer to a large bowl and add tamari, vinegar and salt. Also great with a cup or arugala or spinach mixed in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mushroom Pie and Chutney's Indian Restaurant

I've got a 2-in-1 post for you today...I've been slacking a little. I'll say this, breaking up is hard to do.

BUT, as the old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get cooking! I may have changed that just a bit ;-). I'm glad that I can make people happy through food!

First off, I want to review Chutney's Indian Restaurant. This little spot is right off SE 164th, so really close to my house. I've driven by it countless times, but I've honestly never been to an Indian restaurant, or had real Indian food for that matter. My mom and I had been wanting to try it, so, with my dad out at a golf tournament all day, Wednesday night seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

I'm happy to report that almost their entire regular menu is gluten free, with the exception of the naan dishes, since naan is an Indian bread. My biggest downfall there was tomatoes, but the server was so helpful and knowledgeable that it made it a lot easier on me. Then, the owner came out and told me he'd put together something special that combined what I wanted with what I could actually have.

The result was fantastic. They made me a rice crepe filled with a mixture of lamb, bell peppers, onions and spices. Oh my gosh it was so good. Plus you get lentil chips as a precursor to the meal, and those were awesome and edible for me as well. Everything seriously rocked. I was so happy with it that the owner asked if he should add the dish to the menu. I hope he does, I'll go back for that anytime! You've gotta check this place out, I had absolutely no complaints. They were fabulous.

Since I knew I'd be working all day Thursday and had Wednesday off, I decided to make dinner early to eliminate prep time on Thursday evening. I'm glad I did because this recipe takes about an hour to put together. I actually found this recipe in Living Without magazine probably a year ago. There was a profile on jenny McCarthy, who feeds her son a gluten and casein free diet to help with his autism. At the end, she shared a recipe for mushroom pie. We've been eating it ever since, but its not exactly the healthiest gluten free meal out there (rings in at about 571 calories a slice...yikes!!), so I decided to give it a Vitortarian makeover.

Mushroom Pie, my way

Namaste pie crust mix
8 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 cup chopped walla walla onion
1 tbsp. safflower oil
1/2 cup arugala
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 container Tofutti soy cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the pie crust mix according to the package, and set it aside, uncooked. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the onions for about 1 minute, then add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add basil, arugala, and cream cheese and heat until cream cheese melts. Pour the filling into pie crust and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chicken Stir Fry with "Peanut" Sauce

When I started planning meals for this week, I knew today was going to be rough because my manager at Lingonberries asked me to close the store. I don't mind working later at all, but I knew my family would be more than ready to eat when I got home, so I had to be able to whip up something quick and easy.

On top of that, my sister surprised us all with a visit, so I found out I'd be cooking for her as well. Meaning, since she's the only family member free of any restrictions, I knew my cooking would have to be really good to impress her.

So, I figured, what's easier than throwing some pre-cooked chicken and a package of frozen stir fry veggies into a skillet? Normally, I'd use fresh, local, in-season vegetables for this stir fry, but like I said, I needed a quick fix. This is the perfect recipe to make if you are in a hurry or if you are starving and can't wait to eat.

The sauce was originally supposed to be a peanut sauce, but seeing as I can't eat peanuts, I decided to substitute almond butter instead. Just as I figured, it turned out great! True, I am a total almond butter addict, but I think even a peanut lover would enjoy this take on the classic sauce.

As usual, my family absolutely devoured this meal...another win for me!

Chicken Stir Fry with "Peanut" Sauce

1 large pre-cooked chicken breast, diced
1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. wheat-free tamari
1/4 c. unsweetened apple juice
1/4 c. almond butter
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken for about 1 minute. Add thawed vegetables and cook for about 3-4 more minutes. While the veggies cook, whisk together tamari, apple juice, almond butter, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Once veggies and chicken are heated through, add sauce to skillet and cook for about 1 minute. Serve hot over brown rice. I use Rice Expressions frozen rice packets because they cook in the microwave in 3 minutes and contain 3-4 servings a package. Throw in a side salad and you've got yourself a meal!!

Serves 4.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pasta Bean Soup with Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

When I was in Pullman, I did a Gallo wine sampling at a Taste of Home cooking show in Lewiston, ID. As a part of being there, I got a bag full of random stuff, including free issues of the Taste of Home cooking magazines. About a month ago, I went through and highlighted recipes I thought might be adaptable enough to try making. That's where this meal came from.

I was out walking with Meghan and Gorman (my big pup) and we got a little carried away, so I was super late starting dinner. I was a little worried that the recipes I picked out were going to take too long to make. Thankfully, my parents had a movie on, so they weren't in any hurry to eat.

The whole meal only took about a half hour; of course the chicken, broth and sweet potatoes were already cooked, so that made my life a lot easier. I'd recommend cooking a bunch of chicken and freezing it so you always have some on hand. Canned chicken breast also works if you're short on time, just make sure it's organic!! Same with chicken broth, its always better if you make it yourself, but make a huuuge batch then freeze it for future use.

Both recipes were a definite success, so I'm sharing them below. I also made gluten free, sugar free amaretto-hazelnut strawberry shortcake for dessert!

Pasta Bean Soup

1 cooked chicken breast, diced
1/2 Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. safflower oil
4 c. homemade chicken broth
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup. gluten free pasta of your choice

In a large skillet, saute celery, chicken, onion and carrot in safflower oil over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large saucepan, add water, broth, beans, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add uncooked pasta and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Discard bay leaf, and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes/yams
1/4 c. coconut milk
1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. Frank's hot sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

Poke holes in sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes, turning once. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp and mash in a large bowl with coconut milk. Stir in the syrup, ginger, hot sauce, and salt. Add walnuts and coconut. Spoon filling into shells and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Serves 4.

The Strawberry shortcake was easy. I just combined strawberries, a little stevia, amaretto and hazelnuts in the Cuisinart and poured the mixture over the shortcakes. I just use the Namaste Biscuit mix for the shortcakes, substituting stevia for the sugar. It is so easy to make and incredibly tasty! Plus, there is no added sugar in the whole thing, making it just about as healthy as dessert can get!

My family loved the whole meal, even my dad, who is still a bit hesitant about all the changes. It makes me feel great that my cooking tastes good even to those who don't have to follow the same restricted diet I do!

Hope you all had a wonderful fourth of July! More recipes to come!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The trick to green smoothies

I haven't been cooking much for the fam lately, as you've probably noticed by my lack of posts. We've been all over the place. Thursday night I went back to Dorio, my new favorite Greek place, and checked out their happy hour with my friend Kim. I got the hummus again, I can't get enough of that stuff. They don't have a whole lot of happy hour drink specials, but I tried this Greek white wine that is made from like the leftover wine on the walls of the barrel...I can't remember what its called but it was to die for. Kim got an "Aphrodite Sunrise", their happy hour cocktail, and that was pretty amazing as well. I just love that place.

Anyways, getting back on track here, I've been eating out a lot because my parents have been super busy and we haven't seemed to coordinate on dinner times so naturally, I'm not feeling as well as I could be. I keep reading about cleansing with green smoothies for breakfast on other blogs so I decided to give that a try; give myself a fresh start for the new month. So I put together a mix of watercress, celery, apple and flax; a recipe I'd seen on another blog. Um, no offense to that blogger, but it was absolutely terrible. I had to choke the thing down, all the while chewing on those nasty celery strings that didn't blend into the smoothie at all. It was a nightmare. BUT, I felt great! I made it through my intense morning workout with energy to spare and had such clarity of mind. So I know the green smoothies are a good thing, I just couldn't handle drinking them.

This morning I was making myself a normal fruit smoothie and noticed we had some kale that was starting to dry out a little. Oh yeah, I bought it for the green smoothies I was supposed to be making every day this week. Oops... Not knowing what else I was going to use the kale for (I hate letting fresh veggies go bad), I threw a few leaves into my smoothie, hoping it wouldn't totally ruin it. And guess what, not only did it not ruin it, it was actually really good! I totally tricked my taste buds into drinking a quasi-green smoothie!

Here's my recipe, I highly recommend trying it. Its a great way to get some greens in the morning without having to feel like you are eating veggies.

Green-ish Smoothie

1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. frozen peaches
1/2 banana
1 tbsp. flax seed
3 kale leaves
2 tbsp. coconut milk
1 c. water
6 almonds

Mix ingredients together in a blender and enjoy! I like to sprinkle a little granola on the top of mine, gives it a little something to munch on while you are sipping away.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nut-tritious Pumpkin Seed Butter Blend (Includes Pesto Pizza Recipe)

One thing I love about working at Lingonberries is trying new products. This product isn't new to the store, but I had yet to try it, so I bought some last week.

Backtracking a little, I LOVE nut butters. Almond butter is an addiction for me, but I truly love it all. Nut-tritious is a local company that makes healthy nut butter blends. They make almond, cashew, and macadamia among others.

So the other day I picked up some pumpkin seed butter to eat with one of my indian lentil crepes (recipe can be found on the blog), and it was pretty awesome. Then, Christina mentioned it is good on pizza as a substitute for pesto. Since I can't eat tomato sauce, I'm always looking for new pizza recipes. Last night, we had a little girl's night at Jamie's, which included us making homemade pizza. I brought all my ingredients with me and decided to try out the pumpkin butter-as-pesto idea since I didn't feel like going through the trouble of making red pepper sauce.

I can't even begin to tell you how good this was! I never in a million years thought pumpkin seed butter would taste like pesto, but it really does! It's my new favorite pizza topper!

So here it is, my girls night "pesto" pizza recipe - even if you don't have food allergies, its one to try!

Nut-tritious Pesto Personal Pizza

Crust: Any pizza crust or crust mix of your choice

2 tbsp. Nut-tritious pumpkin seed butter blend
1/2 c. diced cooked chicken
1/4 c. chopped spinach
1/4 c. artichoke hearts
1/4 c. daiya cheese substitute

Spread the nut butter as best you can over warm crust (helps it melt a little). Add toppings, cheese going on the very top. Cook at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 1-2.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mexican Supper with Quinoa

Mexican food is my absolute favorite, after Greek food of course. I always find myself frustrated at Mexican restaurants though... Right when I sit down, corn chips and salsa stare me in the face, taunting me, reminding me how difficult its going to be to find something on the menu that's safe. I can't drink margaritas or pina coladas because they're loaded with sugar. And anything made with any sort of tortilla or shell is totally out. Half the time, the guacamole has tomatoes in it, so I can't even eat that.

Then, once I do order something that seems safe, I have to remind the server to leave out the sour cream, salsa, and cheese. Then I have to ask if the rice is made with tomato sauce (which it usually is), and after that I get to drill them about the meat marinades. Eating out is such a joy isn't it?

Naturally, my solution to this problem is simple: I do it myself. If I'm in charge, I can make something delicious and satisfying that I don't have to think twice about eating. Enter Mexican Supper. This skillet has got it all: grains, legumes, veggies, and the perfect amount of spice, with a killer guacamole to boot. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did! Direct quote from my mom: "Well, you did it again babe!"

Mexican Supper with Quinoa

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped walla walla sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup quinoa
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 can pinto beans
1/4 cup chopped green chilies
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. dried cilantro (fresh would also be good, I didn't have any on hand)
Guacamole (recipe below)

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, pepper flakes and chili powder and cook until the veggies are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the water, salt, quinoa, red peppers, beans, chilies and honey. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cilantro and cook 5 more minutes, or until water is gone.

Top each serving with homemade guacamole. Makes 4 servings


2 ripe avocados
1 tsp. garlic
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until whipped. This will give it a light, fluffy texture. I completely made up this recipe today, and I promise I have NEVER tasted guac this good. Hopefully you yield the same results I did!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Be Well Tip: Out with the old

I have Mondays off work. Which is awesome when you have lots of fun plans in the sun with your friends, but that requires your friends to have days off as well. Yeah, doesnt work out that way. So instead, I took on a little project: cleaning out our pantry.

Going through shelf by shelf, I could not believe the stuff I was finding. Gravy flour that my mom says probably hasn't been used in 5 years, old meat seasonings ridden with MSG, beef granules (um..eww!!), lemon scone mix that was never opened...how we acquired this stuff I can only guess. We even had a half used can of UW Husky hot chocolate mix that turns purple when you add hot water. My sister and I both went to WSU...yeah that got dumped down the drain real fast.

Then there was the more obvious stuff, like corn starch, corn syrup, wheat pastas, flour, and powdered sugar, which used to get used all the time in our house, but haven't been touched in months. While my dad and sister could have been using this stuff, lets be honest, my mom and I are in charge of the food in our house, so it all just sits there.

My mom and I both have trouble throwing things away. I hate the idea that we paid for something, only to watch it go down the drain. Not to mention the fact that there are hungry people in our country and others who would happily take our half used box of popcorn. For this reason, anything that hadn't been opened, I donated to our church, who takes it to a food bank. However, I'm not sure what to do with the perfectly good stuff that has been opened. I haven't thrown it away yet, so if you have any brilliant ideas, please share!

I wanted to share this with you because I think its something that can really liberate you when you change your diet. Lately, I've been having a hard time sticking to mine 100%. Already, I feel more empowered now that I know that almost everything in my house is safe for me to eat. It motivates me to be better about my eating so I can truly heal. Plus, it feels great to give unneeded items to someone who needs them. It may be a little late for spring cleaning, but hey, summer cleaning has the same effect, I promise. So get rid of all that stuff thats weighing you down, and start getting well!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Take Back "Pizza Night" with Crab Artichoke Pizza

In the Vitort house, Friday night has always been pizza night. Since going gluten, dairy and tomato free however, we've been experimenting with new ways of making pizza that wont make anyone sick. I'm proud to say I've finally perfected my pizza recipe to the point where it is worth sharing!

Usually we just put Daiya cheese on it, but I was in Cannon Beach the other day, looking at the menu of our old favorite gourmet pizza parlor, Pizza a Fetta, and noticed they had a crab meat pizza. I looove crab so I figured I could test out my own crab pizza recipe. Let me tell you, first time was definitely the charm on this one. My mom and I both loved it; in fact, I'm getting ready to eat the leftovers for lunch as we speak!

Crab Artichoke Pizza

Dough: Your favorite pizza dough mix. I prefer Namaste Pizza Crust mix because its gluten, dairy, potato and corn free, and the recipe doesn't call for eggs. Chebe is also good if you like a chewier crust.

1 jar roasted red peppers
1/2 c. cashews
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

1 c. crab meat (don't use fake "krab", it isnt gluten free and its disgusting)
1 can artichoke hearts
1/2 pkg. Daiya mozzerella shreds (this cheese is dairy AND soy free and melts like regular cheese - its awesome)

Bake crust according to package directions. The Namaste bakes for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. In a food processor, combine the sauce ingredients and mix well. Spread sauce over warm pizza crust, top with crab and artichokes, then sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake 8-10 more minutes at 450 degrees.

Serves 3-4.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Go Greek, Eat Well (Review of Dorio Restaurant Plus Mediterrabean Chicken Recipe!)

This is a two part post, dedicated to the best 6 weeks of my life: my study abroad trip to Greece! I know I mention this all the time, but I can't help it, I'm obsessed. Hope you don't mind, because this won't be the last you'll be hearing of it ;-)

I don't do Greek restaurants often, because it makes me sad that I have to avoid the tatziki, feta, tomatoes, pitas, yogurt and anything made with phyllo dough and it absolutely breaks my heart. On top of that, the only Greek restaurant I've eaten at in Portland, Greek Cusina, went out of business sometime in the last year (not that it was very good anyways).

So I'm skimming the Oregonian a few weeks back (this has become my new morning ritual) and I notice a place called Dorio's Taverna highlighted in the Cheap Eats column. I read on, discovering that Dorio's is a new restaurant on NW 23rd that serves inexpensive, authentic Greek food. Obviously, I had to check it out.

Yesterday, I headed to Dorios with my mom and my boyfriend to grab some dinner. And let me say, I was not at all disappointed. The decor is classy, making you feel like you are in a much more expensive restaurant. The menu isn't extensive but it has all the Greek staples: Greek salad, Souvlaki, gyro sandwiches, Spanikopita, greek meatballs, moussaka, kalamari and greek fries. They even serve Ouzo!

I ordered lamb souvlaki, Greek salad sans tomato and feta, and hummus. Everything was beyond incredible, and very reasonably priced. My mom and Ryan shared greek fries (which I tried and were amazing as well), and Ryan ordered a gyro sandwich that he was also very pleased with. The souvlaki was perfectly seasoned, the salad was fresh and light, and I can't even begin to tell you how good the hummus was. Turns out the owner's son makes it from scratch and its his own secret recipe; none of the other restaurant employees know how to make it!

All in all, I would highly recommend Dorio's to anyone with or without dietary restrictions. The staff was very accommodating to my mom and I, and Ryan, who has no allergies, was happy with his meal as well. So no matter who you are, you should try it out!!

The second part of this post is a recipe I made my family the other night. Again, in the mood for Mediterranean cuisine, I made Mediterranean chicken with falafel. Everyone loved it, including my boyfriend Ryan who isn't used to allergy free cooking. So you can imagine I was especially proud of myself. This stuff is amazing, you'll love it! The chicken recipe is below, and the falafel was a packaged mix from Orgran that I got at Lingonberries market.

Mediterranean Chicken

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. white wine
2-3 cups precooked chicken, cubed
3 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 cup white win
2 tsp. thyme
1 tbsp. basil
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 c. parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and 2 tbsp white wine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until golden brown. Set aside.

Saute garlic in same pan, sans chicken, for 30 seconds. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add roasted red peppers and cook for another minute. Add 1/2 cup white wine and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add thyme and basil and simmer another 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet, add olives and parsley, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Add salt and pepper, remove from heat, and serve.

Serves 5-6.

Yamas! (Thats Greek for "Cheers" :) )

Monday, June 21, 2010

A little change...

Hey all,

Seeing as I'm all into cooking now and am getting some real training in the kitchen, my parents, who will soon both be working 40 hours a week, have decided to hire me as their personal chef. I will be planning the meals, doing the shopping, and cooking dinner every night that I'm available to do so. Since this will be a new and probably challenging venture for me, I've decided to blog about it. I will continue to post recipes and review restaurants, but my main focus will be on my everyday experiences in the kitchen, sharing with you what I'm making, how it turned out, what the verdict was, etc.

I'll probably get started on this next week, so here's a little background about my family and what challenges I'll be facing as I do this. My mom is sensitive to wheat, dairy, sugar, chocolate, caffeine, corn, peanuts and dehydrated garlic and onions. As of today, she found out she has candida, which will eliminate sugar from her diet altogether, including honey, agave nectar, and some fruit. They also found that she has antibodies for gluten and casein, so full-on celiac may be a possibility. She's also supposed to lower her intake of grains in general. This new information is really going to challenge me; I love using fruit and honey as sweetners.

My dad, as far as we know, is just lactose intolerant. He also eats a low sodium diet because of cholesterol or kidney something or other. He's easy when it comes to restrictions, but he will be harder to please with new concoctions. Thankfully, he's open to me cooking and I'm hoping that this diet will improve his an my moms health either way.

As you know, I stay away from wheat, barley, spelt, amaranth, dairy, eggs, corn, potato, tomato, sugar, peanuts and oranges. I also may switch to gluten free oats, because if my mom has gluten antibodies, I might too (haven't been tested).

My house is going to see a real change in the way we eat. I'm about to become the food allergy nazi, I kid you not. So I can promise that my blog posts from now on will be both entertaining and enlightening and I hope you will enjoy following me along my journey!

Black Bean Crackers

Don't get me wrong, I love me some rice crackers, but they do get boring after a while. Unfortunately, most other gluten free crackers are off limits to me because of potato flour, eggs, dairy, etc. These crackers are delicious and pack some protein into your crackers by using beans as a base. They are great topped with hummus or lunch meat.

Black Bean Crackers
1 c. canned black beans
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. rice flour
1/4 c. flax meal
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, puree black beans. Add remaining ingredients until dough ball forms. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and flatten on a cookie sheet with the bottom of a cup. Sprinkle with salt, then bake 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rice Balls

Funny story behind these little buggers...

My first night in Greece (well, technically the second since I slept from 3 p.m. till 9 a.m. the first day), our group went out to eat together in Athens and ended up at a Spanish bistro. The menu had a lot of really unique items I'd never heard of, so I went with something that sounded appetizing: Rice Balls. Basically, they are balls or rice and cheese rolled in bread crumbs and fried. Healthy right? But definitely delicious. The name struck my friend Kim and I's funny bones...we couldn't stop saying it all night.

Later, we were playing a lively game of kings cup in our hotel room, and someone made a rule that everyone had to nickname the person to their right and the name had to stick throughout the entire game. (little did we know, the names would stick throughout the entire trip). Still amused from our dinner convo, we decided to nickname our friend Paul "Rice Balls". I still call him that to this day.

So, of course, I decided to make them, sans cheese and with GF bread crumbs. Enjoy!!

Rice Balls

2 c. arborio rice, cooked
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. water
1 tbsp. tapioca starch
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 c. Orgran rice crumbs
salt and pepper

Mix rice, olive oil, pumpkin, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the veggie oil, starch and water. Form the rice mixture into balls, cover with the starch mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Fry in safflower oil in a hot skillet until golden brown, then flip to brown other side. Serve and enjoy!!

Salmon Fettucini with Basil Pesto Sauce

Ahh the wonders of untouched pantry items. My parents have decided that, since I need cooking practice, I am now the Vitort house chef. I do the shopping, come up with menus and prepare our dinners. Which allows me to convert my parents into full-on "Vitortarians". (Vitortarian = a word I made up to describe one who steers clear of common allergens, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and other gross chemicals, and tries to eat almost 100% organically). I now have control over what food gets brought into the house, therefore giving me all the dietary power :).

So anyways, as I'm making my dinner menu for the week, my mom starts rummaging through the pantry, trying to get me to use things we already have in my menus. We had a bunch of rice pasta, and randomly, two cans of salmon, and my wheels started turning. Some sort of salmon pasta perhaps? Then I came across a recipe for dairy free basil pesto in my Anti-Inflammatory Diet cookbook, and it clicked! Salmon fettucini (which i have the HARDEST time spelling) with basil pesto sauce!

Last night I tried out my experimental dish on my dad, and he loved it! And let me tell you, I was actually really impressed with myself as well. I'm really starting to get better at this whole cooking deal!

Salmon Fetuccini with Basil Pesto Sauce

1 pkg. DeBoles Rice Fettucini
2 cans salmon or pkgs smoked salmon
3 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 tsp. minced garlic

Boil 4 quarts of water on the stove. When water boils, add noodles, return to boil, and cook for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, add basil, oil, pine nuts and garlic to Cuisinart and blend. When noodles are cooked, drain off the water and rinse with cold water. Break salmon up into small pieces. Add noodles, pesto sauce and salmon to a serving dish and toss so that the sauce covers all the noodles and the salmon is distributed throughout.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Bars + Updates!

Hey all! Sorry I haven't been updating very consistently...I don't like to post without photos but my camera really sucks. So I'm giving in, sorry I don't have any photos this time but I promise you'll like this recipe so please try it anyways!

Before I hand that over, I wanted to do a couple shout outs.

First of all, if you are from the Portland area and haven't checked out Abby's Table, you are seriously missing out. She caters and does private cheffing, and best of all, she hosts a 4-course gluten, dairy and soy free dinner at her kitchen (609 SE Ankeny St. in Portland) every Wednesday. Cost is $18 per person and I promise, you get more than your money's worth. All you have to do is sign up ahead of time at her website www.abbystable.com.

Next of all, Lingonberries, the gluten-free grocery store I work at in Vancouver has some new exciting products. Snyder's of Hanover, which is a hu
uuge pretzel company, now makes a gluten free version of their famous pretzel! And not only that, they are cheap in comparison to the other GF pretzels out there. They still have corn and potato, so I personally stay away from them, but we've had them one day and are almost sold out!

Also, we accidentally received a product we didn't even order, Quinoa Macaroons. And let me tell you, they are my new favorite. I don't normally do GF cookies because one way or another, I can never eat them. But I can eat these and they are AMAZING! I've never seen them before so I'm guessing we are the only local store that carries them, so I recommend you high-tail it over to Lingonberries before they sell out too!

Now for the most exciting part: a new recipe. This is one of my favorite new things you guys, I swear by this recipe and I hope you'll love it just as much as I do!

Sarah's Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Bars
1 c. organic canned pumpkin
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. coconut sugar (we sell it at Lingonberries, I highly recommend it)
1 c. brown rice flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c raisins or fruit juice sweetened cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pumpkin, oil, and sugar in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients (except raisins) and blend until batter is smooth. Stir in raisins or cranberries by hand. Pour into a greased 8x8 glass pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let cool, then enjoy!

My whole family went nuts over these; I cut them in tiny squares and they were still gone suuper fast. And its a sneaky way to get a serving of veggies in thanks to the pumpkin!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shrimp and Bacon Fried Rice

Before I get to this recipe, I want to share some exciting news! As of yesterday, I am now a proud employee of Lingonberries Market, a gluten free grocery store in Vancouver. Its awesome; not only is everything in the store gluten free, but they have options for people with almost every food allergy. And I basically get to check out all the products and build my knowledge about food allergies. It is seriously the perfect job for me.

I've also been apprenticing at Abby's Table. Abby is a natural chef who caters healthy food for people with special diets, like myself. She catered my graduation party a few weeks back and her stuff is amazing. She also has a line of sauces that are absolutely to die for. So I'm learning the ins and outs of working in a kitchen. I'm also going to be assisting her with product demos for her sauces at various places. It's been such a great opportunity for me, I'm so happy with the direction my life has taken!

So, about this recipe. When I was in school, my roommate Emily would always cook absolutely fabulous meals for me and our other roommates. 99.9% of the time, whatever she made was something I should absolutely not be eating, but I ate it anyway because that girl could cook! One of my favorite recipes was her fried rice recipe. It's been on my mind for months, so I decided to recreate it with my own twist. Emily's secret was that she added bacon to the mix. You will not believe how good this stuff is.

Shrimp and Bacon Fried Rice

1 packet Trader Joe's frozen jasmine rice
1 leek, chopped
1 c. broccoli
1 c. red bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp. wheat-free tamari
2 c. precooked frozen cocktail shrimp
6 slices turkey bacon (we cook all the bacon and then freeze it, so you can reheat it whenever you need it without having to wait for it to cook)
Olive, sesame, or grapeseed oil

Thaw the shrimp for an hour or so before you begin cooking. Cook the packet of rice according to the directions. You can also make a batch of regular jasmine rice, I just love the TJ's stuff cause it cooks in 3 minutes in the microwave. Chop the veggies and put them in a large skillet with the oil. Once the rice is done, add it to the skillet. Chop up the bacon and add it and the shrimp to the mix. Add the tamari and saute all the ingredients until shrimp and bacon are cooked through. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

6 Products I'm Loving Right Now

1. Frank's Hot Sauce

I'm obsessed with this stuff. Since being back from L.A., for some reason I have a heightened taste for spicy food. I like everything spicer now than I did a few months ago. I honestly have no idea why that is. When I was at school, my roommates kept Frank's Hot Sauce around but never really used it, so one day I mixed it into a can of tuna and I've never looked back. Its the perfect balance of spice and flavor, and there are only a few ingredients, which I am always a fan of. I put it on stir fry, any kind of meat, dip veggies in it, etc. If you like spice, you'll love this stuff!

2. Namaste Pizza Crust mix

I finally found a pizza crust mix that I can truly eat without any adaptations. Let me tell you, this absolutely makes my day. Most crust mixes are ridden with potato flour, potato starch or cornstarch, making them off limits for me. This mix is not only free of those things but it also doesn't call for eggs, so I can make it just as directed and still feel fine after eating it. Not to mention it has a delicious blend of spices that make it totally craveable. And Namaste makes a bunch of other mixes as well, including brownies and cake!

3. Bear Naked Granola
Because I'm allergic to not only wheat but sugar, corn, amaranth, spelt, and barley, eating cereal is pretty much out of the question at breakfast. I usually live happily off oatmeal, but every once in a while, I'll treat myself to Bear Naked granola. Not all of the flavors are safe for my allergies, but there are a
few flavors I can eat. They contain no wheat or sugar, and are free of nasty additives and preservatives including high fructose corn syrup. They are pretty heavy in calories, but you only need a little to satisfy a morning sweet tooth!

4.Daiya cheese substitute
This stuff is amazing. I first tried it at Pizza Fusion, a pizza place on Sunset Blvd that serves gluten free vegan pizza. Ever since trying it there and loving it, I've been searching for it and they finally carry it at Whole Foods! This cheese melts well, tastes great, and is dairy, casein, soy and GMO free. Its made with like tapioca flour and canola oil. I have no idea how it works but it does and I love it. Thank goodness I can finally eat pizza, quesadillas and other mexican dishes I've missed so much.

5. Bob's Red Mill ground flaxseed

Lately, I've been adding this stuff to everything. Flax is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and it's nutty flavor makes it a great addition to oatmeal, smoothies, ice cream, you name it! I make sure to eat at least a tablespoon every day, usually at breakfast time. Plus, it makes a great egg replac
er. Just add a tablespoon to 3 tablespoons warm water, let sit for 10 minutes, and voila, you have a substance that has the consistency of an egg with a flavor that is to die for in baked goods.

6. Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss ice cream

I've covered So Delicious's line of fruit juice sweetened soy ice cream, but I've recently discovered coconut ice cream, which is safe for people with soy allergies. Luna and Larry use all natural organic ingredients, leaving out sugar and all the common allergens. There are multiple flavors to choose from including cherry amaretto, chocolate peanut butter and pineapple coconut (which used to be my favorite Haagen Daas flavor). Best of all, I can usually find at least a few different flavors at my regular grocery store!

I usually always have these products on hand because they are amazing. I'll probably be doing a similar product review every month because I just got a job at a family owned gluten free grocery store and I'll be testing out new products all the time! Great job right?

Anyways, if you haven't tried some of these products, please do, then leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it!

Looking forward to hearing your feedback :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Radio Room

I'm back, finally!

Sorry for the long hiatus. I moved back to Pullman, only to find myself immersed in the excitement of graduation and unmotivated to update my blog. In fact, I wasn't really even keeping up with my diet, so now that I'm back home I'm taking the time to get healthy again. Which means keeping up with my blog!

I also should probably inform you all that I am now back to eating meat. Its definitely a bummer since I really wanted that lifestyle for myself, but for health reasons, veganism isn't in the cards for me. My diet is already so restricted that it just wasn't feasible to cut out meat as well. However, I still loooove vegan food so I'll be reviewing restaurants and making recipes that are vegan, even though I won't be eating that way all the time anymore.

So, that being said, the reason for this post is to review the Radio Room.

The restaurant is located on Alberta Street in north Portland, where its more common to find vegan places than not. This particular place has a little something for everyone. They serve meat, but indicate which menu items are gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. I was thrilled. That meant I didn't have to ask a million questions about ingredients to find out if I could eat certain things.

But that's not even the best news.

One of their gluten free items was Calamari, a personal favorite of mine that I had to give up when I gave up wheat, since most calamari is breaded and fried. This calamari was dusted with rice flour and flash fried, meaning not only could I eat it, but its a little healthier than its deep fried cousins.

Because the calamari was an appetizer, I also ordered a side of seasonal veggies. Currently, their seasonal vegetable is asparagus, and it was sauteed in oil and some spices that were absolutely to die for. And I must say, it was nice that my friend Timur could enjoy a meal without having to follow my strict diet. He ordered a cheesesteak sandwich and fries, which also looked delicious and very, very off limits ;-). Best of all, the entire tab for both of us came to $15. I'm a sucker for places that suit my limited post-college pre-job budget.

I highly recommend you check this place out. Not only was the food great, but it seemed like it was very lively in the evenings; music, all sorts of stuff going on there. Plus, they post flyers for other events going on around Portland, so you can plan your whole social calendar with a single visit!

One little disclaimer: because of my tomato and corn allergies, the menu was a little more limited to me than those who are just gluten free or vegan. There are quite a few gluten free and vegan dishes that include tomatoes and corn, so if you can eat those things you've got yourself quite a selection. But I am in no way dissatisfied with my experience!

Well, its great to be back! I hope you all will stay tuned, because I'll be updating a lot more now that I'm settled back home. Looking forward to sharing some great stuff with you!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Indian Lentil Crepes

These savory crepes are awesome, and full of fiber, and best of all, they are cheap! All you need are lentils, brown rice, salt and water. Gotta love that in this economy!

Indian Lentil Crepes

2 cups uncooked lentils
1/2 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
Salt to taste

In two bowls, soak lentils and rice separately in water for 5 hours at room temperature. At the end of the 5 hours, grind lentils, rice and salt in a food processor with some of the soaking liquid. Mix until pancake batter consistency is achieved, the mixture should be coarse.

Warm coconut, olive, or grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, spread a spoonful of batter on the skillet. Let cook for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Flip and cook the other side.
For the filling, I sauteed chopped mushrooms, zucchini, green pepper and onion in olive oil until cooked through.
Spoon filling into the crepes and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

My goal in my cooking journey is to recreate food I loved before I learned I had food allergies. And my absolute favorite meal of all time was, you guessed it, fish and chips! I'm not kidding when I tell you I ordered that meal at every restaurant I ate ate before, and even sometime after, I found out about my allergies. So its only natural that I teach myself to make gluten free fish and chips.

Sarah's Gluten Free Fish and Potato Free Chips
Serves 3

1 lb. Cod Filet, cut into strips
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
3 tbsp. ground flaxseed
9 tbsp. warm water
sea salt to taste
olive oil (for frying)

Mix the flaxseed and the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes, until it is the consistency of an uncooked egg. Set aside. Mix the garbanzo bean flour and the salt. Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet. Once cod is cut into strips, cover each strip with the flax mixture, then coat it with the flour mixture:

Make sure the flour sticks to the cod, then put in the frying pan:

Saute the cod 3-5 minutes on each side, or until they turn golden brown (see above). Serve with my sweet potato fries and a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette and you've got yourself a well balanced, gluten free meal!
Absolutely delicious! Stay tuned, my first video blog should be out sometime this week! And as always, Live Free!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The other day at the 3rd and Fairfax Whole Foods I discovered PatisseRaw desserts. The adorable little things looked like cheesecake, but all the ingredients are raw, sugar free and gluten free! So I took down the address and the number and decided to get in touch with the owner.

I was fortunate enough to meet with Christina this morning, and let me tell you, it was the best part of my day! She was so inspirational! She basically followed her heart and it lead her to start PatisseRaw, and now shes distributing her goodies to markets all over Los Angeles! All because she had a passion for the raw food diet and educating people about eating better. She talked a lot about following her intuition and how that has single-handedly contributed to her success. It was so motivating for me because I'm trying to do something similar. Because my passion for this is so strong, I know it will work out. Now I just need to be in tune with my intuition so I won't miss any opportunity that comes my way.

Also, the desserts are truly delicious. I got to try the strawberry flavor, the chocolate eclipse (fudge), and the carrot cupcakes. WOW! I was shocked to find out how simple the ingredients were. They are seriously amazing, and I highly recommend them. Plus, the business is eco-friendly! They either recycle or compost all of their waste, and they deliver their treats by bicycle if you live in Venice! Plus, they are made with love by a genuinely awesome person.

Until next time, Live Free :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gluten Free, Sugar Free Blueberry Pie experiment

Today is my last day interning at E! Entertainment in Los Angeles. My supervisors and the other interns have seriously been so amazing and inspiring during my time here and thanks to that, I leave a more mature, ambitious and driven person. And more than that, I have a goal. And so help me, I'm never letting go of my dreams. They WILL become a reality.

So naturally, I wanted to thank them in the proper foodie fashion, by baking them some goodies! I had a frozen gluten free pie crust in my freezer at home and a bag full of frozen blueberries I needed to get rid of, so I looked up a blueberry pie recipe.

Naturally, the recipe's main ingredients were corn starch and sugar. So I substituted arrowroot starch and agave nectar into the recipe and voila! Out came a gorgeous, and delicious, blueberry pie.

I took it to work hoping people would like it. Once you've cut certain things out of your diet, you get used to the substitutes so you never know what other people will think of the things you eat.

Luckily, everyone loved it! Like, beyond loved it! I'm so proud of myself and it gives me an extra push knowing that I may be able to change people's eating habits if they realize that there are perfectly good substitutes right at their fingertips!

Unfortunately, my camera died so I couldn't get a picture of the finished product. But its cool cause I'm actually going to hold off on sharing the recipe. First of all, the crust is made with milk and eggs, and my slice of pie did not make my stomach too happy. Therefore, I need to learn to make my own pie crust. Also, my favorite dessert as a kid was my mom's blueberry cream pie, so I'm going to change this recipe from plain old blueberry pie to wheat free, vegan, sugar free blueberry cream pie. I promise you, that creation will be a masterpiece. So hold your horses on that recipe, I promise what I'll give you will be even better than what I gave them!

Thanks for reading, and Live Free!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My First Veggie Burger Experience

Happy Easter Everyone!!

I hope you all had awesome allergy friendly Easter dinners. I got to spend Easter with my aunt and uncle in Riverside, and they were nice enough to make tons of variations of vegetables for my Easter dinner, which I so appreciated. But since they were having ham, I picked up these little babies at Trader Joe's as my Easter "meat":
I've never had a veggie or boca burger before, so I was obviously a little skeptical. I mean, I remember the days when homemade cheeseburgers & OreIda fries were my favorite meal. I had them every year on my birthday because that's all I'd ever want. So for me, replacing burgers was going to be quite a task.

I'm so happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. Ok, so its no hamburger exactly, but the taste was phenomenal! I couldn't believe my taste buds! Thankfully, there were two in the package so I brought one home to cook up for this week. I have a feeling this is going to be one of my new staple items, along with almond butter and hummus :)

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Live Free, and have a tofu burger!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 4

Day 4...what can I say. It's been bittersweet.

I woke up feeling like a truck hit me, thankfully, my breakfast made that go away pretty fast. But needless to say, I didn't get up and work out this morning.

I spent a little time laying in the sun and let me tell you, the whole clarity of mind thing that this detox is supposed to cause definitely kicked in today. I was laying there in the sun and all I could think about was new ideas for my blog and my potential career. I actually got a lot accomplished sitting out there and thinking. Called two potential summer employers (unfortunately haven't heard back) and started making steps towards making this a video blog!! I won't give too many details yet, but this blog has to go somewhere and it's finally becoming clear to me what I need to do.

Unfortunately, I couldn't last out there too long cause the sun totally drains me, so I came in and did my castor oil and rested while watching (what else?) The Biggest Loser. That show motivated me to get my hiney off the couch :)

I was still too tired to exercise, so I searched the room I share with my friend Kami to see if she had any books I could read. The only one I found that wasn't school related was Chicken Soup For The Soul Living Your Dreams. I started reading it and wow, it was like the book was sent straight from God. It had so much great info about achieving success, and I got way into it. So that's definitely my book of the moment, I'm so glad I found it!

I made a bomb salad for dinner, chard, spinach, red bell pepper, cucumber, strawberries, and minced garlic. I needed that garlic flavor today. I'm so sick of bland food.

The reason I say this day was bittersweet is because I was so motivated to pursue my goals, and I didn't have the energy to do it. At least I wrote a lot of great things down, and I'll start on that path next week!

As for tonight? I was going to go out to Playhouse in Hollywood with my roommate, but, as you could probably guess, I'm in no mood to go to a club. So I'm off to do my Maundy Thursday meditation and listen to Marc David's podcast on Nutritional Consciousness. Is it weird that I'm excited about that?

Till tomorrow, Live Free.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Cleansing Day 3

Ughhh woke up this morning so tired again. To be expected I guess. I felt way more energized after having a grapefruit sprinkled with cinnamom (soooo good!)

Work today flew by. Anna and I had a ton to work on, plus I got to watch Biggest Loser during my downtime. I'm so hooked on that show. I drank a bunch of water and tea all morning, so when lunchtime came around I actually wasn't starving. And after my apple, carrots, snap peas and mango slices I was actually pretty full! This detox is so weird...I didn't think I'd make it this far without feeling like death. I did have a stomachache last night, I at least I know its working!

I had vegetable broth, half a papaya (which wasn't nearly as good as I was expecting) and a chard, spinach, cucumber and strawberry salad for dinner, plus some detox tea. I was stuffed, which shocks me. The upside is I was able to walk on the treadmill for a half hour without feeling tired. But I still feel really full. Strange...

I'm halfway through the detox, and I can't believe I've done so well! I'm hopefully going to be feeling like a new person by next week, I'm so sick of feeling crappy!

Wish me luck, and Live Free!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Cleansing Days 1&2

So, as promised, I'm writing about my detoxing experience this week. Let me explain a little bit about where I'm coming from.

I first read about detoxing in "Skinny Bitch" and I was automatically intrigued. You can do a water fast, a juice fast, or a raw fruits and veggies fast. Starting out, I didn't want to go too extreme, so I started researching raw fasts. Basically, you only eat organic, uncooked fruits and vegetables for a period of time. I decided to match my detox up with Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter), because detoxing is supposed to be a mind clearing and spiritual experience. My physical reason for doing it is that I need to flush my system out and rid myself of all the junk I've put into my body that I'm allergic to.

I started the detox yesterday with grapefruit for breakfast. I thought I'd be absolutely starving a short time later, but I actually wasn't! That grapefruit actually held me over longer than cereal does! All morning I had plenty of energy, I was so surprised because I'd read the first days of the detox are rough. For lunch, I had carrots, snap peas, an apple, and strawberries. Again, I had energy all afternoon, though it did start waning towards the end of my work day. For dinner, I had a cup of vegetable broth, a pear, a bunch of broccoli, blueberries and sliced cucumber. I also drank some detox tea after dinner to help the process along. I was definitely tired by that point, I'm sure as a combination from my weekend in San Francisco and the new eating pattern.

This morning I meant to get up early and work out, but I woke up with no energy so I skipped it, probably for the best. I had cantaloupe and strawberries for breakfast. I was definitely tired all day at work today. Luckily, I never really got the headaches that I'd been reading about. For lunch I had an apple, carrots and snap peas again. Its amazing how filling fruits and vegetables are! I never even realized that before, probably because I've never eaten enough fruits and vegetables. I started to get a bloated stomachache around dinner time, so I know the detoxing is finally starting. I'm so happy to be getting rid of those toxins! For dinner, I had a pear, a red bell pepper, and broccoli, and I even treated myself to "dessert": cantaloupe chunks, strawberries and grapes. Wow that sounds lame hahaha.

Overall though I feel pretty good about what I'm doing. I thought I'd be starving all the time, but I'm actually realizing that fruits and vegetables can totally fill you up, and I actually find myself eating less. I'm excited to see how this will affect me once I start eating real food again! I'm hoping it will noticeably lessen my food allergy symptoms. We'll see though.

Stay tuned, and Live Free!

Sweet Potato Fries and Bean Dip

So I've started my raw food detox, which I'll be writing about later, but I made these recipes last week and I promised my twitter followers I'd share them!

I love sweet potatoes. I thought when I went potato-free that I'd never eat a french fry again and I was so sad. But then I realized I like sweet potatoes bet
ter than potatoes, so I'd probably prefer sweet potato fries to regular fries as well! Unfortunately, I've always been a bit challenged when it comes to cooking potatoes. I don't know why, I could just never get it quite right. A fe
w weeks ago, I drove to San Diego to visit my aunt and her family, and lo and behold, she was cooking sweet potato fries for dinner! So I watched closely while she cooked and memorized the steps so I could do the same.

When I tried the recipe at home, they turned out great!

Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
Salt to taste
Oregano to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potato and cut into slices. Then, toss the slices in a large bowl with the olive oil and add the seasonings. When I made these, I actually used a Bulgarian seasoning that is my roommates, but I can't even read the label since none of it was in English! But if you are feeling adventurous, the package looks like this:

(sorry its sideways...havent learned how to fix that yet)

Once the fries are ready, put them in the oven for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, take them out and flip the fries over so they get crispy on both sides. Then, enjoy!

I ate the fries with this bean dip that I made, but it was a little heavy. I'm just not able to eat a whole lot of condiments, so if you can, be creative with what you dip them in!

This bean dip I actually got from an episode of "Ruby" on the Style network. Funny story, I was actually watching a rough cut of the episode for a project I was doing at work, and heard this recipe and jotted it down in my notebook. Last week, I was looking back through my notebook and found the recipe and decided to make it!

Cantenelli Bean Dip

1 can Bush Cantenelli (white kidney) beans
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt to taste
Other spices (thyme, oregano) to taste

I played around with this one a bit as well. I loooove oregano so I put it in everything, feel free to substitute other spices you like. Preparation is easy. Rinse the beans, then put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Refrigerate for a while after preparing, it tastes so much fresher cold. Serve with rice crackers, Terra chips, or veggies!

As I mentioned before, I started my detox yesterday, so I'll be posting again later tonight! Thanks for reading!

Live Free.