Monthly Archives: June 2012

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Hope For Healing

This month, Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, the fun little blog event created by Book of Yum, is being hosted over at Enjoying Gluten-Free Life. I’m glad to be participating again this month – I always love adopting a gluten-free blogger and learning more about them through their recipes!

I adopted Stephanie of Hope For Healing this time around. I’ve followed her blog for a few years now, as she always manages to post some delicious gluten-free, healthy dessert and baking recipes. Like this strawberry custard pie she just put up the other day? Oh, my, gonna have to add that to the “must try” list! It looks so cool and creamy.

Anyway, Stephanie and I share similar experiences when it comes to how we eat today and why. She doesn’t have celiac disease, however, she experienced a lot of the same ailments I did before going gluten-free: fatigue, brain fog, stomachaches, etc. She since has turned to a gluten-free, healthier diet to find a place of healing and health. Since then, she became a Holistic Health Counselor, and helps others with digestive ailments find health again through food. Stephanie shares her story on her blog.

I love the way she approaches cooking and baking. Sometimes, it stems from a need to use leftovers (well, in my mind, cooked quinoa is leftovers), like with this Quinoa Protein Bread. I’m all about using leftovers! But overall, I love that she uses whole gluten-free grains, unrefined sweeteners, and yummy nuts, seeds, and coconut. All things I love to play with in the kitchen! I had to narrow down the list though – there were so many of her recipes I was dying to try.

First on the final list: I chose to make her Blueberry Cornbread (shown above). A sweeter cornbread, mixed with other whole grain gluten-free flours, plus blueberries? Yum. And it was. It’s a perfect, subtly sweet breakfast “cake” that was delicious with coffee. Our youngest, Brittany, really enjoyed it as well.

Another recipe that made it to the final list was her Cashew Summer Granola. I love, love LOVE making granolas. I also had quite a few cashews around. So I threw this together, subbing regular raisins for golden, but otherwise keeping the recipe in tact. It was delicious – I especially love the maple syrup. Perfect for on-the-go snacking.

I also realized, when going through her Recipe Index, that I’ve made her Stevia-sweetened Lemonade before. Last year, I attempted to grow a stevia plant, and so I used some of the leaves for this purpose. It’s a lovely, lighter (read: less sticky) beverage, perfect for hot summers.

There are so many more delicious treats I would love to make. Stephanie’s definitely a genius in the baking department, and I’d love to spend an afternoon snacking on one of the many treats I’m sure she’d be baking up!


Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples, Gluten-Free Grilling Tips, and a Giveaway!

I love to grill. It’s a great thing that I live in Texas, where I can practically break out the grill year-round. But when the days get longer and we all long to be outdoors, that’s when our grill really pays for its place on our back patio. Any night of the week, I can throw a few steaks, some chicken breasts, or even a burger or two on the grill, and with a quick salad, we have a delicious meal. Less fuss and fewer dishes. It’s my kind of cooking!

But this year, I’m going to expand my grilling horizons. Far too often I reserve the grill for cooking meat. Sometimes, I’ll throw a portobello mushroom or two on there, but generally, all of the side dishes are prepared indoors. Well, friends, no more! I’ve decided that nothing is off-limits when it comes to the grill. Vegetables, desserts, salads – they’re all fair game. Okay, beverages might be difficult…but never say never, right?

(Okay, I don’t think my glass of ice water will be used for anything except possibly putting OUT fires on the grill…)

To get this project off on the right foot today, I decided to start with a salad. Since our kale is still growing in full force in the garden, I opted to use it. (A side note: I do love grilling because it reminds me to water the garden in the evenings – the garden is lucky I opted to grill today!) Since I had some apples and grapes that were longing to be used, I thought a waldorf-inspired salad was in order. I made up a quick dressing (using my homemade mayonnaise I made following this recipe) and tossed together the kale, some walnuts, grapes, and celery. And grilled apples.

Yes. I grilled the apples. Ever had a grilled apple? It’s essentially all of the deliciousness of a baked apple, only in a fraction of the time and with the added fun of being outdoors. And it’s a perfect addition to a salad.

That’s it! A super-easy salad that involves no grilling of any meat whatsoever. I’m feeling like my horizons are expanded already, and it’s not even summer!

Print Recipe

Kale Waldorf Salad with Grilled Apples

1 large apple, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick

juice of 1 lemon, divided

1 T honey

1 T mayonnaise

1 t Dijon mustard

Pinch salt and pepper

1 large bunch kale, leaves torn

1/3 c sliced celery

¼ c toasted, chopped walnuts

¼ c grapes, sliced in half

Heat the grill to high heat. Meanwhile, brush the apple slices with half of the lemon juice and lightly brush with honey. When the grill is hot, oil the grates and grill the apple slices just until they have grill marks but retain some firmness, about a minute on each side. Remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together any remaining honey, the other half of the lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Toss the kale leaves with the dressing and coat well – massage with your fingers to really soften up the kale leaves. Add the celery, walnuts, grapes, and apple slices (cut into smaller pieces if you desire) and toss again.

Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Salad will last a day or two in the fridge.


Want to win a $25 Sears gift card? For your chance to win, tell me why, aside from the food (which is my favorite part, but not killing the garden comes in pretty close), you love to grill?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sears. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.


Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

Today we are continuing with the leave-the-oven-off theme at the Tasty Eats At Home household. While I did have the oven on for a while this past weekend (in order to bake some rhubarb-walnut muffins – and yes, I’ll share the recipe with you soon!), it was quickly becoming clear that the air conditioning wouldn’t be able to keep up with the increased heat. So when dinnertime came around, I opted to use the grill. Sure, I’d break a sweat outside while cooking, but I could come back inside to a cool house. That makes it totally worth it. Besides, grilling means less cleanup afterwards. It’s a win-win.

Contrary to popular belief, grilling doesn’t always have to involve a big hunk of meat. I often love to grill vegetables (squash and eggplant are delicious on the grill!) and even fruit. Portobello mushrooms, however, really shine when grilled. They take on that smoky, deep, flavor and a deliciously chewy, almost meaty texture. I could eat my weight in portobello mushrooms, I love them so much. Grilling them is my favorite way to prepare them.

I opted this time to do more than just simply season and grill them (which is wonderful, of course). This time, they needed a bit more flair, and they needed to be elevated to “main course” status. I started by cooking down a bit of chile, garlic, and tomatoes for a big punch of flavor. I tossed in some fresh spinach to wilt, and crumbled tofu. Tossing a bit of fresh tarragon leaves into the stuffing at the last minute would provide that lovely, light, fresh flavor that would compliment the earthiness of the mushrooms. All of this took mere minutes to prepare, and then the mushrooms were ready for the grill.

A definite bonus when grilling veggies instead of a burger or steak? No flare-ups. These mushrooms grilled away happily at a consistent temperature. I felt comfortable walking away for a few minutes,  knowing they would be fine while I cleaned up in the kitchen.

The verdict? These are so delicious, I imagine they’d even convert meat-eaters. The tofu makes a delicious stand-in for a creamy cheese, but I really loved the combination of the spicy chile and the fresh tarragon. Normally, stuffed mushrooms are a heavy, decadent dish – this is a light, summery interpretation that’s entirely free of gluten and dairy. I’m thinking these will be a repeat dish at my house throughout the season.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Tofu, Chiles, Spinach, Tomatoes, and Tarragon

1 Anaheim chile, seeded and diced (you can substitute other fresh chiles, just be mindful of the heat)

1 large clove garlic, minced

7-8 cherry tomatoes, quartered (or one large tomato, diced)

2 c fresh spinach leaves

1/2 of a 15.5 oz package extra-firm tofu (I like to use organic sprouted tofu)

1/2 – 1 T chopped fresh tarragon leaves

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and chopped

Add diced chiles, chopped mushroom stems, garlic, and tomatoes to a skillet along with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Bring to medium heat and “saute”, stirring occasionally, until tender. (add additional water if it becomes too dry) Add the spinach, stir, and cover for 30 seconds to a minute to allow the spinach leaves to wilt. Crumble the tofu and add to the skillet, and then sprinkle the tarragon over. Stir and warm through, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon filling into portobello mushrooms.

(If you are having guests, these mushrooms could be prepared up to this point and refrigerated until ready to grill.)

Heat grill to medium heat. Grill mushrooms for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Remove and serve. (Don’t have a grill? You can bake them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and achieve similar results. I haven’t tried it with this recipe in particular, but I imagine it would work well.)

Serves 4.

Creamy Peach Popsicles, and a Live Chat about Independence Day!

Well, folks, summer is in full swing around here. For the past 4-5 days, the mercury just keeps on rising. The forecast for today: 104. Tomorrow? 105. Not a cloud in sight. Of course, 100-degree days aren’t abnormal around here. We usually get several each summer. Last year, however, we reached a new record of 71 100+ degree days. That’s seventy-one. With a seven. Seeing as how this time last year, we already saw 100 degrees quite a few times, I’m thankful that we just saw it for the first time this year yesterday. But regardless, it’s hot.

Too hot to bake.

So instead, popsicles are in order. Homemade popsicles are pretty easy to make. Simply puree something tasty, pour it into the popsicle mold, and throw in the freezer. The waiting is the hardest part. (Yes, typing that immediately stuck the Tom Petty song into my head. Where it will likely remain for a few hours. In case you live under a very large rock and have no idea what I’m talking about, or else would like to take a moment to jam out, here ya go. You’re welcome.)

In my opinion, these are welcomed by kids and adults alike. Unlike store-bought popsicles, these aren’t overly sweet, making them much more palatable. Also, without gobs of added sugar and artificial dyes, the kids are much less likely to be bouncing off the walls – something we’re all thankful for when they’re home for the summer! Besides, if you use fresh, in-season fruit, you won’t need all of those added ingredients, because the flavors will be full without help.

Of course, in this recipe, I used peaches (I had a few that were nearly overripe, so they were perfect for this use), but you could use just about any fruit you desire. Also, feel free to adjust the sweetener (or omit it entirely) as you see fit. For my peaches, just a touch made all the difference. If you have a crowd of kiddos over for Independence Day celebrations, these would be a wonderful treat to keep them cool and happy. Just put them up in the freezer in advance, and dessert is ready!

Speaking of Independence Day, tomorrow night at 7PM CDT I am co-hosting a Live Chat over at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community. We’ll be talking about all things Independence Day. So bring your party ideas, or come to get some new ones! Hope to see you there.

Okay, okay, you want the recipe for the popsicles. Here ya go.

Creamy Peach Popsicles (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

5 medium peaches, pitted and roughly chopped (I left the skins on – the “peachy” flavor seems to be stronger when I do)

1/4 c coconut milk

1 T agave nectar

1/4 t vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into six popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours.

Serves 6.

Need more popsicle recipe ideas? Check out this selection at The Balanced Platter!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free and GFE Virtual Gluten-Free Support Group August 2012 over at Gluten-Free Easily.

Raw Summer Beet Slaw

I mentioned before that we’ve gotten quite a few beets in our CSA share – we get a bunch each week. I love beets, but I’ve been running out of ways to prepare them. I’ve made lacto-fermented beets, I’ve roasted them, I’ve thrown them in salads, I’ve made truffles with them, and I’m even trying to figure out how to bake with them. But still, there are more beets.

Did you know that beets are a wonderful powerhouse of nutrition? According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, beets are a great source of betalains, which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. They also are a great source of folate, manganese, and fiber, as well as other vitamins. I personally love them for this, but more importantly, for their flavor.

I didn’t always enjoy beets though, and I know there are many out there in the “eww, beets” camp. My experiences with beets as a child were rare, but when I did encounter them, they were canned. Blah. When I became an adult, however, I tried them again, and found that fresh beets are sweet and bursting with flavor. They also taste much different when roasted vs. steamed, and again are entirely different raw. If you’ve been a beet-hater most of your life, I encourage you to try them again – you might find there is a way you can really enjoy these beautiful veggies.

This simple slaw is one unique way to try them again. I’m not sure if you can call this a “slaw” – the ingredient list is much shorter than traditional slaws, and the only resemblance to a slaw ultimately is the fact that the beets are shredded. But I’m calling it a slaw, so it’s a slaw.

Even though the ingredient list is short, the flavors are full, fresh, and bright. The lovely part about this slaw is that those other ingredients transform the beet flavor into something less “earthy” – an attribute some beet-aphobes dislike about beets. The beets are a bit sweet, the lime a bit tart, and the pepper brings a bit of heat. I personally love the cilantro, which really bumps that “ooh, it’s summer!” freshness factor. If you’re anti-cilantro, you could opt to replace it with parsley or maybe even some mint. Basil might even play nicely.

This little slaw is delicious on its own, but I personally enjoyed it on top of my salads throughout the week. It was easy to throw together and lasted for several days, making it a convenient way to get more nutritious raw veggies into my diet. I might just make it again, seeing as how there are still beets to be had in my refrigerator, and it’s getting too hot to turn the oven on!

Raw Summer Beet Slaw (gluten-free, vegan)

2-3 large beets, peeled and shredded

1/4 c thinly sliced red onion

2 Anaheim chiles, seeded and diced (can substitute other chiles, just be mindful of the heat if you use jalapenos or serranos)

1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

Salt to taste

Toss together all ingredients and season to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.


Have other ideas on how to keep the kitchen cool while making a healthy meal? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

Strawberry “Cheesecake” with Almond-Macadamia Crust

My, how time flies. It’s mid-June, almost Father’s Day. Around these parts, that means that it’s about to get too hot for strawberries. It feels like just yesterday our farmer’s market just opened for the season with a few greens, beets, and spring onions. But now, I’m lugging home loads of produce – still beets and kale, but also strawberries and blueberries, peaches, plums, zucchini, tomatoes, okra, cream peas, big red onions, garlic, peppers, tomatillos, and more. There are even watermelons and cantaloupes starting to show up, brought from the southern parts of the state. Our warmer-than-normal spring is to blame for the early arrival of many of these favorites.

Not that I’m complaining – I’m bringing home a weekly CSA share, plus another one or two bags full, every Saturday morning. My cucumber plants are flourishing. (I’m harvesting 2-3 cukes a day!) I’m enjoying a plant-strong diet and feeling healthy and energized because of it.

But I am already realizing that some of my favorites will be gone soon. Strawberries, for one. I love to freeze berries so I can have them for smoothies, pies, and such, regardless of the time of year. I’ve already bought 12 pints of organic blueberries to freeze. Strawberries need to happen ASAP so I can be sure there are “cheesecakes” like this in the heat of the summer. There is nothing better than a cool, creamy, refreshing dessert to serve on a hot summer day.

Now, this isn’t cheesecake in the traditional sense. It’s not quite as rich as traditional cheesecake, but personally, I find that to be a plus. It’s still so creamy, and it bursts with bright berry flavors. I have made cashew cheesecakes before, but this is one of my  new favorites. I think the mostly-raw approach to certain recipes, like this one, (the crust is the only part that’s not raw) really brings out the fresh flavor in foods. In the case of vegan cheesecakes, keeping the berries raw really makes the dessert sing of summer.

I’ve made this twice this year already – once, for my mother’s birthday and again for a coworker who was celebrating a birthday for someone avoiding gluten and dairy. Both times, it was a hit and was gone quickly. I think that means it’s successful; what do you think?

Strawberry “Cheesecake” with Almond-Macadamia Crust (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

For the crust:

1/2 c macadamia nuts

1/4 c Medjool dates, pitted

1 c blanched almond flour

1/4 t kosher salt

1/4 t baking soda

2 T coconut oil

1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Place the macadamia nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until they are fine crumbs (don’t process too long or they will become a paste and eventually a butter!). Add the dates, almond flour, salt, baking soda, coconut oil, and vanilla and process again until dates are chopped very finely.

Scoop out the dough and press out along the bottom of the springform pan evenly.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges brown. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling:

3 c cashews, soaked at least 4 hours, preferably overnight

3/4 c agave nectar

1 T lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)

6 T lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

1/2 c coconut oil, melted

2 t vanilla extract

1/2 t salt

32 oz strawberries (if frozen, thaw before using), plus additional if you wish to decorate the top

Drain the cashews and place in a high-powered blender. Start to blend on a low speed until the cashews turn to crumbs and paste. Add the agave, lemon zest, lemon juice, and coconut oil and continue to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides often, until the puree is creamy and no more bits of nuts remain. This may take a while, even with a high-powered blender. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you may be more successful using your food processor. (I’ve made this with a regular blender before, but it took longer and I had to add a bit of water to “get it going”.) Once the “cheesecake” is sufficiently creamy, add the vanilla and salt and add half of the strawberries. Blend until no more strawberry chunks remain. Add remaining strawberries and blend again until creamy, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed.

Pour the strawberry puree into the springform pan once the crust is cool, spreading out evenly with a spatula. Place in the freezer for 4 hours or until firm. You can freeze overnight or even for more than a day; if you do, place in refrigerator several hours before serving to thaw. If desired, you can slice additional strawberries and decorate the top of the cheesecake.

(I was told by my friend that even leaving this cheesecake in the fridge for an entire day worked; that it held its shape. I haven’t tried this myself, but I imagine there is enough coconut oil to keep it firm.)

This post is linked to Iris’s 2nd Annual Gluten-Free Birthday Cake Challenge at The Daily Dietribe, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free, and Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Book Review: Go Dairy Free – at The Balanced Platter

Over at The Balanced Platter today, I am reviewing one of my favorite books – Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming! Head on over to check it out!

Roasted Poblano-Avocado Cream (and Pan-Fried Tilapia)

Know what this is?

Okay, I know I basically already told you, given that the first part of the title for this post is “Roasted Poblano-Avocado Cream”. But it’s more than that.

It’s heaven.

Creamy, cool, with a gentle, smoky heat, this is bliss. Perfect to serve with grilled chicken, as a dip for crudites, over some roasted vegetables for a vegan dish, or simply by the spoonful. Not that I would have done that. No sir, not me!

However, we’ve been enjoying this oh-so-delightful sauce over something else for a quick little dinner – pan-fried tilapia. No, not heavy batter-fried – while I know there is a place for fish cooked that way, this version is much more streamlined, much lighter in flavor, and combined with the creaminess of the avocados and the heat of the poblanos, it feels special.

Maybe with a candle at the table and a glass of wine, you could serve it as part of a romantic meal? It’s light enough on the belly to leave room for dessert…

That is, unless you start in on the leftover sauce with a spoon.

Again, not that I would know or anything.

Roasted Poblano-Avocado Cream (gluten-free, vegan)

2 poblanos

1 small onion (about ½ c), sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of 1 small lemon (or lime)

1 avocado

¼ t salt

¼ t cumin

1/8 t chipotle chili powder

1 T chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the poblanos, onion, and garlic cloves on the baking sheet. Blacken the poblanos, turning a few times to ensure all sides are blackened, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and place peppers in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 5 minutes. Remove the skins, stems, and seeds from the peppers and place the flesh, along with the onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Add lemon juice, avocado, salt, cumin, and chipotle chili powder. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add cilantro and process again. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve with pan-fried tilapia.


Pan-Fried Tilapia (gluten-free, dairy-free)

¼ c coconut oil

4 4-oz tilapia fillets


Smoked paprika

Heat coconut oil in a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Sprinkle tilapia fillets with salt and smoked paprika. When oil is hot, gently add tilapia fillets and fry 2-3 minutes, until browned. Carefully flip and fry other side just until fish is cooked through, another 2 minutes or so. Remove from oil with slotted spatula and allow excess oil to drip off.

Serve with roasted poblano avocado cream.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Review: Local Oven – A Revolution in Gluten-Free Baked Goods

Local Oven baguette

There’s No Gluten…and No One Knows.

That’s the motto of Local Oven, a 100% gluten-free manufacturing facility based out of Carrollton, Texas. They’re new to the market, but don’t let that deter you from thinking you won’t encounter their products soon – they’re growing faster than the weeds in my lawn in June.

What is the reason for their success? In my opinion, it has to do with that motto above – they live up to it. They provide gluten-free baked goods that are superior in texture and taste to every other gluten-free product on the market, so much so that even gluten-eaters exclaim “THIS is gluten-free?!” when trying their buns. I know. I did a trial myself.

I met Todd Fitzerman, Director of Sales at Local Oven, back when I attended the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo last October. I sampled their product then and was impressed. Now that they’ve settled into their new facility in Carrollton and are really ramping up their production, I thought it was more than time for me to sample all they had to offer (many of their products are dairy-free as well) and share it with you all. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how much I’d enjoy everything.

Local Oven started selling their products on a large scale in January 2012. In that short time frame, they are already selling in more than 100 locations, including restaurants, hospitals, schools, and public venues. They are distributed by Fresh Point, Ben E Keith, and Sysco, and are continuing to grow. Their products are also available to the general public.

What do they sell? All your previously gluten-free favorites! Six different varieties of baguettes, nine different varieties of biscotti, hamburger (with or without sesame seeds) and hot dog buns, two varieties of pita pockets/flatbreads, and Italian and plain breadcrumbs. You can purchase any quantity you wish, and each item is individually sealed, keeping your item fresh and protected from any cross-contamination until you’re ready to eat or until the chef at the restaurant is ready to prepare your meal.

But as we’ve discussed before, being provided a safe gluten-free meal is more than just simply providing a gluten-free bun for a burger. Local Oven understands that, and they emphasize the need for fresh gloves, fresh utensils, separate cutting boards, etc. They stress a safe dining experience for the gluten sensitive guest. Vacuum-sealing each product individually not only helps the product remain fresh, it also helps to minimize cross-contamination. They do what they can to help educate these restaurants about the needs of a gluten-free consumer.

I’ve both encountered great success with their products personally, and seen evidence of it in our area. I visited a Scotty P’s restaurant, one of the locations featuring Local Oven hamburger buns, and ordered myself a hamburger. Of course, I still gave the guy at the counter my usual “please ensure my meal is safe” speech, but what arrived was a burger. On a bun. One that was delicious and looked totally normal! What a delight, if I do say so myself. I’ve also seen that the Gluten Intolerance Group of Greater Dallas recently visited Bavarian Grill, another location featuring Local Oven products and a gluten-free menu. There’s no question that word is getting out about these products!

Local Oven takes great care to ensure that their manufacturing facility is totally free from gluten as well. It’s new, clean, and spacious, and not a speck of gluten enters. Their mill and blender factories that supply their ingredients are dedicated 100% gluten-free. If you have any questions at all about their products or their processes, they’re happy to oblige. I was even allowed to tour the facilities myself!

Local Oven kitchen, where the magic happens! 

Local Oven buns, fresh from the oven, ready to be packaged

Local Oven meeting room - lots of room to brainstorm!

Why do they do what they do? Linda Fitzerman, the founder of Local Oven, suffers from gluten intolerance. It’s wonderful that she was able to understand the reason behind her health issues, but she longed for those familiar baked goods she enjoyed before going gluten-free. Since she was dissatisfied with what was available on the market, she opted to go out on her own and create a product that was as good, or even better, than the original gluten-containing versions.

I would say she succeeded. Check it out:

 homemade black bean mushroom burger on a Local Oven bun (and eggplant fries using Local Oven breadcrumbs!)

 Local Oven pita stuffed with spinach, bell pepper, sprouts, and tahini

 Local Oven hot dog bun, treated like a roll, with dairy-free margarine

 Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying my little share of Local Oven products lately! Their breads are fluffy and light (no bricks-for-bread here!) and have that delicious chewy texture that is often missing in gluten-free products. In fact, I was so impressed with their buns, I opted to order enough for our Memorial Day crawfish boil/barbecue we held at our home. Typically at these kind of events, there are regular hamburger or hot dog buns served, and a precious few gluten-free buns for those in my family with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. However, those buns aren’t all that excellent, and not everyone can enjoy them (a great many contain corn and some of my family has corn sensitivities as well). This way, every person that attended our little party could enjoy a bun, and there were no gluten-y crumbs to worry about. The best part, however, was when a friend made herself a sandwich full of smoked meat and barbecue sauce on a Local Oven bun, bit into it, and exclaimed “THIS is gluten-free?”

Todd shared with me that it’s wonderful that the restaurant owners he works with can’t distinguish his product from a gluten-full product based on texture and taste. When a customer can be served chicken Parmesan and it is every bit as good as the regular dish – that is what makes the difference. Or his favorite – when a customer at a restaurant sends the meal back to the kitchen, tells the waiter that he has made a mistake, because the bun tastes too good to be gluten-free, and the chef then has to come out and say “Yes, it IS gluten-free!” – Ladies and gentlemen, that is the true measure of success.

I have no doubt that Local Oven will continue to grow and become a nationwide, well-known brand fairly quickly. They’re brainstorming new products and listening to their customers. They’ve just scratched the surface. I, for one, am excited to see what the future might bring! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to make myself a burger…


Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispy Treats

It’s been a little while since our Memorial Day celebration, but I felt I needed to share this easy-to-make little treat I made for the occasion. Our event was filled with lots of crawfish, smoked meats – pork shoulder, pork ribs, and brisket (all local, organic and pasture-raised), potato and garden salads, fruit, and a few treats. Since I was spending a great deal of time smoking the meat (I started the night before smoking the brisket and pork shoulder low and slow, so it would be tender and juicy), I knew I couldn’t dedicate a great deal of time to baking. However, I wanted something that was kid-friendly, and gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free, so all of my guests could enjoy them. But what to make?

When I saw these brown rice crispy treats over at Queen of Quinoa, and then these coconutty crispy bars with chocolate over at Go Dairy Free, I knew I could come up with a marshmallow-free version. I played around with some ingredients and some brown rice crispy cereal, and finally came up with a crispy treat that was crispy, chewy, indulgent and light, all at the same time. It brought out that love of all crispy treats that must be hard-wired within my soul – and along with the peanut butter, it was like my inner child was grinning from ear to ear.

I think you’ll find they’ll satisfy all the kids in your life, young and old.

Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispy Treats (gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan, refined sugar-free)

2/3 c smooth, natural peanut butter (I used Justin’s)

1/4 c honey (use more agave nectar, or brown rice syrup, for vegan)

1/2 c agave nectar

1 oz food-grade cocoa butter (you can try substituting coconut butter, or unsweetened baking chocolate, for a different taste – I haven’t tried either of these personally)

1/4 c chopped roasted peanuts (salted if desired)

6 cups brown rice crispy cereal (Erewhon sells a gluten-free variety – that’s what I used)

Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, honey, agave nectar, and cocoa butter. Place over medium-low heat and stir until everything is melted and combined. Meanwhile, combine peanuts and cereal in a large bowl. Once peanut butter mixture is melted, pour over cereal and stir thoroughly to combine everything well. Scrape cereal mixture into the prepared baking dish. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into squares.

I prefer to keep these refrigerated until serving, as they don’t stick together as well as the marshmallow-laden version once warmed to room temperature. They can stay out for an hour or so, however.

Makes about 2 dozen squares.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.