Monthly Archives: July 2012

Meet Cara of Cara’s Cravings (and Gluten-Free Chicken ‘n’ Waffles!)


As you can probably imagine, I read a lot of other food blogs and I chat with a lot of fellow food bloggers. Many of you reading this fall into that category, in fact! I love the community we have, and I love reading about other recipes, food, and cooking. (What can I say, it’s my passion!) But every now and then, I stumble upon a blogger that really has a unique-yet-intriguing approach to their food and recipes. Cara of Cara’s Cravings is one perfect example. Cara focuses on sharing healthy living tips, but most importantly (in my mind), she shares recipes for healthy versions of truly craveable dishes. That’s what really catches my eye and keeps me coming back for more.

Since then, Cara and I have conversed quite a bit and have gotten to know one another a bit better. Since many of you may not know Cara, (and some of her readers may not know me) we decided it was high time we do a little spotlight on one another! We asked each other some questions, and of course, we played around with one another’s recipes! So before I move on to talking about chicken and waffles, here’s some fun facts about Cara! (And please see Cara’s blog for my answers to these questions!)

- What is your proudest fitness achievement?

It’s a tie between running a half marathon and doing chinups. Since I was overweight and unathletic until my early 20′s, both were quite the feat! Here are my tips for women who want to work up to doing chinups: start with negative chinups. That is, jump up on the bar and lower yourself slowly as possible. That’s one rep. Rest 45-60 seconds and do it again. Once you can do 3 reps dragging each one out for at least 20 seconds, you’re ready to try to a full chinup!

- Latest clothing or accessory splurge?

A huge Coach tote bag for traveling. After three trips in a row in April, I realized I was sick of carrying around a laptop bag in addition to a big purse every time we were in an airport. Next vacation planned? It will be our 5-year anniversary in March, and we’re looking at Costa Rica or St. Lucia. Anyone care to chime in?

- If you could have dinner with your mom tonight, what would you ask her to make?

It’s going to sound gross, but Cincinnati Chili from the Campbell’s Soup Cookbook. This was the cookbook my mom used most often, and while today I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, I still have a soft spot for that cinnamon-spiced sweet chili made with condensed tomato soup, smothering a bowl of pasta with sharp cheddar.

- What do you do when you’re not blogging?

For 6 years I was a full time chemical engineer. Now I’m a part time engineer and part time blogger/freelancer :)

Tell us about your exercise routine.

Exercise has been a big part of my life ever since I lost weight. It makes me feel good and allows me to constantly challenge myself. My workout of choice is heavy weight lifting. Many women shy away from the squat rack, but I embrace it! Contrary to what you might think, lifting heavier weights for lower reps will not make you “huge” (we ladies just don’t have the right hormones for that) and will keep your metabolism working very efficiently. I still throw in some cardio, but it’s usually quit HIIT workouts or jogging no more than 4 miles. I am usually working out 5-6 days per week.

- Where is home?

I’ve lived in Massachusetts my entire life, even went to college here. Sometimes I wish I got to experience something different for a while… but deep down, I really love being close to family. My husband and I actually grew up in the same town (though we didn’t meet till I was in college and he had already graduated) and we live about 35 minutes from both sets of parents. It’s pretty convenient!

- Who else lives under your roof?

My hubby, of course! We’ll be married five years this October. This year we expanded our family to include an adorable black lab / beagle mix. She is absolutely gorgeous and a true member of the family.

I am seriously impressed with your chinups, Cara! I’m working on them myself, but I have a ways to go before I get there! I’m definitely motivated now! And my hubby and I celebrate an October anniversary as well – what a coincidence!

Okay, now on to the chicken and waffles. Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Memphis, Tennessee. We did the whole Beale Street tour, ate amazing ribs, and toured Elvis’ home, but one of my favorite experiences was visiting this little place called Miss Polly’s Soul Food Cafe. We loved it so much, we ate there twice, in fact. They served chicken ‘n’ waffles. To those of you who have never heard of this concoction, let me tell you, you’re in for a real treat. Think crispy, salty fried chicken with crackly skin atop a fluffy, lightly sweet waffle, drenched in maple syrup. Salty+sweet+a little chicken grease = heaven. There was nothing left on my plate at the end of that meal, let me tell you. The memory of that meal will forever be imprinted in my mind.

Unfortunately, a few months later, I went gluten-free, as my health had deteriorated to the point where I simply had to do something. While I was ecstatic to find my health returning (and still am), chicken ‘n’ waffles became nothing more than a food memory. That is, until I stumbled upon Cara’s recipe.

Cara brought chicken ‘n’ waffles back to this gluten-free girl’s kitchen.

A healthier version of the grease, gluten and dairy-laden dish I enjoyed in Memphis, Cara’s dish was no less delectable. A crisp cornflake-coated chicken breast provided savory crunch. Atop a barely sweet, fluffy waffle, drizzled with syrup, and I was reliving that memory once again, without the consequences. Truth be told – the waffle was my favorite part. Crisp edges, fluffy soft interior, and a perfect balance of sweet and that hint of salt, this waffle will definitely grace our table again. But the entire dish was sublime. Thanks Cara, for bringing what I thought was only a distant food memory back to life!

See the recipe for Cara’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles here!

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Beyond The Peel

It’s time for another rendition of Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger! This month is being hosted by Sunny of And Love It Too - and there’s still time to sign up – deadline is tomorrow, July 28th – so if you want to participate, leave Sunny a comment on her sign-up post and you’re in! If you are interested in signing up for August, check back here – I’ll be hosting!

This month I decided to adopt France and Joshua from Beyond The Peel. Their blog, videos, and book all focus on providing easy ways for you to fit delicious, healthy, whole foods meals into your life. If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m a big fan of delicious, healthy, and whole foods – and easy is always a goal! Needless to say, this is my kind of blog. While all of their recipes are not gluten-free, many are (you can check out the gluten-free selection here). And just as promised, many are easy and have short ingredient lists. (Like 5-minute 4-ingredient protein bars – how awesome is that?) Even more, they all look absolutely terrific.

I opted to make her Chipotle Corn and Zucchini Salad, since corn and zucchini are everywhere at the farmer’s market right now. And because chipotle is one of my most favorite ingredients ever. This salad is fresh-and-bright meets smoky-and-spicy, a.k.a. a southwestern party of flavors. Sweet corn, fresh mint, crunchy celery, tender zucchini, and lime juice brought a lovely summer flair, and that chipotle oil really sealed the deal with a touch of heat. (While I know I’m a bit of a chile-head, the heat level in this salad is mild enough for even the most timid.) I made it to accompany grilled chicken one night for dinner, and happily munched on leftovers throughout the next few days.

Also on my menu for this weekend – these pork and kale tacos with cherry-cilantro salsa. I just scored some organic cherries yesterday, and the photo was so enticing, I just knew this dish was in my future. I’m sure there will be very few leftovers on this one!

And if I need a sweet treat, I definitely think this almond butter banana fudge is on order. Anytime something healthy can satisfy my sweet tooth, it’s a win-win!

Beyond the Peel is another excellent resource for healthy, whole foods cooking, so definitely check it out!

 

Habanero-Pear Jam, and Confessions of a Recovering Chile-Head

You may not realize by the array of recipes I share on this blog (Okay, maybe you can. I wrote about Roasted Chile Salsa Verde just last week, I use chipotle in everything from dips to candied nuts, and I even throw Hatch chiles in peach cobbler), but I’m a bit of a recovering chile-head. Chile-a-holic. Hot pepper extraordinaire. Frequent user of Tabasco, and one who can put away a seemingly endless amount of the red chile salsa on my salads when I order at Chipotle.

What can I say? I love heat.

Fellow lovers of chiles can appreciate the lure of the chile. A taste of that fire, and your senses jump to action. Your eyes light up, and an adrenaline-fueled surge of energy rushes through your body. Sure, that heat causes pain, but it’s a good hurt. One that keeps you coming back for more.

I’ve read that there’s a science behind it – that the pain caused by those spicy chiles causes a rush of endorphins. It’s no wonder those of us that love spicy foods find them so alluring. Maybe it’s an addiction of sorts. I could attest to that.

Earlier in our relationship, my husband and I would often order a mess of hot wings from a nearby restaurant. The hotter the sauce, the better (of course, he’s a bigger chile-head than I am, tolerating even more of that delicious pain than I could ever hope to), and we’d put away enough wings for a small army. Of course, we’d be miserable afterwards, but the sweet siren call of those wings would return soon enough, and we were back chowing down on wings again. When Chipotle first came to town, we met for lunch on a weekly basis. We couldn’t get enough of that salsa. I know firsthand how addictive heat can be.

But as we grew older, we tempered our love for spice. Part of it out of necessity (one’s body simply can’t handle that much heat all the time indefinitely!), but also, I started to truly fall in love with cooking. In that process, I learned to appreciate the subtleties of real, fresh whole foods. How a simple grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of salt is all you need on a perfectly grilled grass-fed steak. Raw red bell peppers at the peak of freshness are sweet like candy. Fresh basil just sings of summer. A perfectly ripe cantaloupe drips with a sensuous, musky aroma. Roasted free-range, organic chickens from a nearby farm taste, as Julia Child would put it, “so good and chickeny!” In short, I was discovering that there was a whole world of flavor out there, and I didn’t need to dive into the endorphin-saturated world of chiles to enjoy it.

This doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good dose of spice every now and then though, as evidenced by the chile-laced recipes throughout this blog. Those chiles still hold a special place in this Texas girl’s heart. And when nature gives you peppers, why not embrace it? This time around, however, I had already put away quite a few jars of salsa in the freezer, yet too many chiles remained. Especially these habaneros. With these babies, a little goes a long way. I had at least a dozen, so I needed to come up with a way to “get rid of” quite a few. With some pears from my CSA share also lying around, suddenly I knew. Jam. I could make jam.

This jam is a perfect balance of sweet and heat, and it’s a touch healthier than traditional jams and jellies, since I used local honey instead of sugar. The pears provide enough natural pectin to thicken naturally (and add some additional sweetening). Make no mistake though – this jam packs a serious punch. At first, the flavor is a lovely sweet-hot, but after a moment on the tongue, the habaneros start to do their work. Warning: a few spoonfuls of this stuff may cause your nose to run just a bit, in one of those “Hurts So Good” kinda ways. Enjoy it on gluten-free toast, your favorite corn muffin, a biscuit, or as I did last week, brushed on some delicious chicken. I imagine it’d also be perfect as a glaze for pork.

Chile-heads, your new favorite jam has arrived.

Habanero-Pear Jam

About 3 lbs of pears, peeled and roughly chopped (leave the peel on one or two pears – this will add some pectin to make the jam thicken)

5 habanero chiles, seeded and roughly chopped (do this with gloves on)

2 c honey (use agave, coconut nectar, or coconut sugar for vegan)

1/4 c lemon juice

Pinch salt

Wash  8 4-oz canning jars, rings, and new lids with soapy water and rinse. Fill a large pot or canner with water and place canning jars, rings, and lids into the water. Bring to simmer and leave until ready to use.

Meanwhile, place the pears and habanero chiles in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until no large chunks of pear remain (I like small bits of fruit, so I don’t completely puree mine). Scrape into a medium saucepan and add honey, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring. Keep at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened to your liking, about 45 minutes.

When jam is ready, remove jars from water with tongs. (I use tongs from this canning kit, which also has a funnel and a magnetic tool to easily remove the lids from the water) Spoon jam into each jar, leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace. (A canning funnel makes this easier) Wipe any jam that might have gotten on the rims of the jars. Then place the lid on top of each jar, and screw the rings on, only turning once. (You can tighten them completely later)

Place each filled jar back into the simmering water in the pot or canner using tongs (place on a canning rack, if you have one), making sure there is at least 2 inches of water to cover. Bring water to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove each jar and place on a kitchen towel, undisturbed, to cool for several hours to room temperature.

Hang around and listen for a while. You should hear each of the lids “pop”, indicating that they have sealed properly. If the lids don’t properly seal, refrigerate or freeze. Those that do seal can be stored in a pantry for up to 6 months.

Print Recipe

Wondering what you can do with an overabundance of peppers (or tomatoes, or zucchini, etc)? Check out our conversation over at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community for ideas!

Why Dairy-Free?

photo credit: Flickr Blogography

May was Celiac Disease Awareness Month, and during that time, I shared with you many of my reasons for why I went gluten-free, how to go gluten-free, avoiding cross-contamination at home, and how to eat out successfully on a gluten-free diet. However, I avoid more than just gluten for my health. I also avoid dairy. While there’s no “Dairy-Free Awareness Month” (that I know of – if such a thing exists, someone fill me in!), I did want to share with you some of the same types of information about why I decided to remove dairy from my diet, where dairy can be found and how to go dairy-free, and ultimately, share some tips on “replacements” for those coveted dairy-full foods (like cheese!). Today, let’s talk about why anyone would want to go dairy-free.

Why dairy-free?

As I mentioned in my post about going gluten-free, going gluten-free eliminated many of my symptoms. It was like going gluten-free got me 85% of the way there. But I still was having some digestion issues. After a year of adjusting to the gluten-free diet (and learning many of those “there’s gluten in this?” mistakes the hard way!) and feeling like I had the routine down pretty well, I started to try to understand why I was still suffering from intermittent bouts of acid reflux and indigestion. I didn’t want to believe it might be dairy-related. I love cheese too much, I’d tell myself. But I finally buckled down and did an elimination diet where I removed dairy completely for a few weeks. I didn’t notice an immediate difference, like I did with gluten, but when I reintroduced it into my diet, I felt ill. I was nauseous shortly after eating it, and it was downhill from there. (We’re talking acid reflux, bloating, and “things” slowed WAY down.) My sinuses also became very congested. It was strange – even as a child, I remember always getting congested after consuming a large amount of dairy (like ice cream, for instance) and always thought it was normal, until I eliminated it from my diet. It took me a few days to really admit that it was a problem, but it was. I was intolerant to dairy. So in July 2010, I eliminated dairy from my diet. Now, if I accidentally ingest dairy, my reaction is about as severe as it is to gluten.

Dairy can cause a lot of issues for people. Sometimes, with people that are gluten intolerant, the body believes that the protein in milk, casein, is an invader (the structure of the protein is similar to gluten) as well, and the body reacts in an immunological manner much the way it reacts to gluten. I recently read an article referencing an intestinal wash study that showed that 50% of people reacting to gluten in the intestinal tract had an almost identical inflammatory cytokine release on exposure to dairy antigens. That’s a lot of people! Others have true milk allergies, some have lactose intolerance, and some have issues with casein, whey, or both. Symptoms can vary widely and can include:

- hives or rash

- trouble breathing

- anaphylaxis

- nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, wheezing

- nausea, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation or IBS-like symptoms

- heartburn

…and many more. If you think dairy might cause issues for you, you can obtain lactose intolerance tests and milk allergy tests through your doctor. (I actually came back positive for a milk allergy on a test, which helped to confirm what my body was already telling me – I needed to go on a dairy-free diet.) Or just see if you feel better without it by eliminating it from your diet. Alisa at Go Dairy Free is a wealth of information about all things dairy-free, and her book is a life-saver.

In short, we all are unique. What might be benign for one person’s body is poison for another. If you suffer from some of these symptoms and haven’t found relief, it might be worth looking into other food intolerances such as dairy. While there may be a period of transition as you remove offending foods from your diet, the long-term benefit will be well worth it!

Interested in chatting more about other food sensitivities and allergy testing? Join us Monday, July 30, at 8PM ET at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community in a free Live Chat to discuss!

Roasted Chile Salsa Verde

For weeks, I’ve been receiving more chiles and tomatillos than I can manage in my CSA share. Serranos, cherry peppers, jalapenos, banana peppers, and Big Jim (a.k.a. Hatch or Anaheim) chiles all make their way into my kitchen. In addition, I planted Big Jim and sweet bell peppers in the garden, so I’m collecting even more when I venture outside each day. And what does a person do when confronted with too many chiles and tomatillos?

Make salsa, of course.

I’ve made three batches of this stuff so far this summer, plus a batch of tomato salsa. If more tomatillos make their way into my share, I’m sure more salsa will come. I love it – we often enjoy tacos for dinner, and I spoon copious amounts of it on top. I stir it into zucchini dishes, throw it in my eggs, and I even use it as salad dressing. The surplus is frozen (I don’t always feel up to canning), so I can enjoy the fresh taste of summer in January when I’m tired of winter squash and potatoes.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve shared a salsa verde recipe before. This one, however, is a touch different, because of the variety of chiles used. This time around, I threw a ton of chiles in the salsa – banana peppers, Big Jims, and a few serranos just for heat. But I also roasted those chiles (and the tomatillos) for a subtle, smoky sweetness. (Have you ever eaten a freshly roasted tomatillo? It’s amazingly sweet.) A quick blitz in the food processor, a pinch of salt and a taste or two, and this salsa was born.

I still am finding ways to use up more chiles. I roasted two baking pans full of Big Jims this weekend and put them up in the freezer. They’ll come in handy for any number of recipes (like Peach Hatch Chile Cobbler). I also threw a bunch of cherry peppers and jalapenos into a brine to pickle them – we’ll see how that turns out. I also put up some habanero-pear jam yesterday afternoon (yes, I’ll share the recipe soon, I promise!). And there are still peppers hanging about in the kitchen. It’s a nice problem to have, if you ask me!

Roasted Chile Salsa Verde

2-3 lbs tomatillos, husks removed

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced in half

6 large cloves garlic, peeled

5-6 banana peppers

4-5 Big Jim peppers

2-3 serrano peppers

Juice of 1/2 lime

large handful of cilantro, chopped (about 1/4-1/3 cup)

Pinch or two of ground cumin

Salt to taste

Line a baking sheet with foil, and turn on the broiler. Place the tomatillos, onion (cut-side down), garlic cloves, and peppers on the baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil until the skins of the peppers and tomatillos blacken (about 5 minutes, depending on your broiler – don’t wander too far off!), and turn over with tongs. Broil the other side until blackened. Remove baking sheet and place chiles into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and set aside for 5-10 minutes to cool. This will allow the residual heat to “steam” off the skins of the chiles, making for easy peeling.

Place the tomatillos, garlic cloves, and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Once chiles have cooled, remove the stems, skins, and seeds from the chiles (plastic gloves might come in handy here, especially if you don’t wish to feel the heat of those chiles later when you decide to scratch your eye!), and place the chiles into the food processor. (You may not be able to get the skins off on the smaller chiles, such as the serranos – this is fine, just throw them in.) Pulse the processor as many times as necessary to break down the vegetable pieces into small bits. Add the lime juice, cilantro, cumin, and salt and pulse again. Taste and adjust seasoning – does it need more lime juice? More salt? Add a bit more as needed and pulse again to blend.

Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Print Recipe

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

5 Easy Solutions for Summer Dinners at The Balanced Platter

Over at The Balanced Platter today I’m sharing some tips on how to get dinner on the table when you’re enjoying a busy, hectic summer! Head on over to check it out!

Review: Learning to Bake Allergen-Free

Over the past few years, I’ve slowly learned how to navigate gluten and dairy-free life. So much so, that many substitutions are old hat by now, and I hardly recognize the difference. However, I only have two real limitations – gluten and dairy. (okay, so I also can’t really do chickpea flour, but that’s easy to get around.) When my family comes to visit, I add corn to that list, but again, I can handle the substitutions. But what if you also have to avoid eggs? Soy? Nuts? Each of these allergens are increasingly common, and are so hard to avoid when baking. It’s enough to make your head spin.

Enter Colette Martin, author of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking, and of the blog Learning to Eat Allergy-Free. Colette navigates quite a few allergens in her household, as her son was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, triggered by allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, soy and peanuts. She had to learn how to bake cakes, cookies, breads, and other foods taken for granted by so many others without the staples: flour, butter, milk, and eggs. She so wanted her son to be able to enjoy things like normal children – cakes at parties and cookies for an after-school snack. This required some experimentation on her part!

The results of her hard work show in this comprehensive book. She explains multiple substitutes for ingredients, the pros and cons of those ingredients, and how to best utilize them in recipes. Colette spent a lot of time understanding the science behind the average cake and cookie, and conducted many a trial before she gave us the goods – those long sought-after recipes!

Most of these recipes call for gluten-free flour mixes. While I lean towards making my own blends (I like to tinker), this is approachable for most allergy-free bakers, which are usually parents that don’t have endless amounts of time on their hands to figure out flour substitutions. I find that appealing. She also shares various brands and suggests how to use each of them, so you can swap one out for another to your liking. Also, these recipes are fairly straight-forward, making your transition into allergy-free baking as easy as possible.

I chose to make her chocolate chocolate chunk cookies. These are great for when you want just a few cookies lying around, as the dough is refrigerated beforehand, and you slice off what you need to bake. (And it’s actually best if you refrigerate overnight) They were intensely chocolate-y, not too sweet, and a little crisp. I enjoyed ours in cookie sandwiches with some chocolate date frosting from The Spunky Coconut Cookbook. The entire family enjoyed them (it’s not often we all agree on food!).

This book definitely is a resource, especially for those of us that are not too familiar with allergy-free baking. Colette definitely is on the ball when it comes to solutions for any food restriction!

Learning to Bake Allergen-Free can be found at any of these stores listed on Colette’s site.

Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

Fresh Rhubarb

Rhubarb isn’t a really common food around Texas. Apparently, if you mention rhubarb around these parts, the response you are likely to get is “What’s that?”, or “You’re not from around here, are you?”. I also got “Isn’t that green?” as a response from more than one person. (Well, yes, sometimes it’s kinda green, with some red…) While I didn’t grow up eating this vegetable-parading-around-as-fruit, I do have a very fond memory of my great aunt, who lives in Washington, making us a rhubarb crisp when we visited one summer. Actually, I have quite a few fond memories of that summer. You see, my great aunt and uncle live in this little house on the southern portion of the bay, a ways from Tacoma and Olympia. Their house is a drive from any major city, and you’d get lost if you didn’t know where you were going trying to find the place. But as you pull up, the tall, evergreen trees are everywhere. The front of the house is across the street from what feels like endless amounts of forest. It’s quiet, except for the sounds of birds. As you walk around the side of the house, there are trees and huckleberry bushes. The back of the house is on stilts, and below is a rocky beach. As a young girl, this was paradise. I remember spending all day outdoors while we were there, playing. I’d go down to the beach and watch gulls and peer at distant neighbors, digging for clams in the sandy spots. I’d catch as many hermit crabs as any one girl could carry. I even helped a hurt baby chipmunk (I say helped, I might have simply frightened him more by picking him up, showing my Mom, and eventually releasing him back into the woods). I remember going out on their deck, and how relaxing and beautiful the entire place was. But I also remember meandering into the kitchen, hungry from playing, to find my grandmother, great aunt and Mom working and talking. And that rhubarb crisp! It was slightly tart, sweet, and so delicious. Unbelievably so.

And then I proceeded to not eat rhubarb again, that I can recall, for 20 years or so. But still the wonder of this vegetable, and that memory, holds its grip on my attention.

Being a food blogger is a funny thing. Over time, you read a lot of other food blogs. A LOT. I’ve been blogging for nearly four years, and I’ve learned so much about seasons and all types of foods from all areas of the world and even in my own country in that time. For instance, in spring, people in the Northeast part of the U.S. rave about ramps and fiddleheads, two things I’ve always been curious about, but have never even seen in person before. Of course, I imagine there are quite a few of those bloggers that have never seen purple hull peas, okra, or nopales (cactus), things that are pretty common around here. It’s part of what I love about food – there are still some delightful things that can only be found in certain regions. I hope it stays that way – it makes food special.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try to experience foods outside my region. Like rhubarb. I’ve only recently seen it in grocery stores in the past few years, but that’s only in frozen bags. However, this summer, all of a sudden, I’ve seen it everywhere – at higher-end groceries and even the normal Kroger down the street from me. Big, juicy red stalks of rhubarb. So I set aside my “I usually try to eat local” mindset, and viewed it as a sign. I’d have to try my hand at making something with rhubarb.

And so I did. First on the list? A rhubarb crisp, of course. It wasn’t anything special, and not much different than this peach-pear crisp – only I substituted chopped walnuts for the almonds, and threw some quinoa flakes in there. But it was tasty. Not as good as the memory of my first (Isn’t that the funny thing about food memories?), but good nonetheless. The real challenge (and success), though, was muffins.

These muffins were based on a gluten-full recipe. If any of you have tried to convert a regular recipe to a gluten-free version, you know it’s not always just about substituting one flour for another. Besides, I have to throw dairy-free in there as well, so I have to exercise a lot of freedom in my adaptations. This means that my recipes don’t always turn out the first, second, or even third times. However, this one was perfect right out of the gate. Fluffy, moist, lightly sweet muffins, studded with sweet-tart rhubarb and chopped walnuts. They make the perfect hearty breakfast or afternoon snack, and they showcase this lovely vegetable in a way that makes my heart smile. My coworkers have been enjoying them all week long (many of which were the same people wondering what rhubarb was). They also freeze well, so feel free to bake some up and then store some away for future breakfasts. This recipe makes 2 dozen muffins, so there will be plenty of extras. Feel free to halve the recipe as well.

While I’m not likely to start buying rhubarb often, it’s lovely to find it once a season, bake up these muffins, and relive those childhood memories.

Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 1/4 c brown rice flour

1 1/4 c sorghum flour

3/4 c potato starch

2 T ground flaxseed meal

1 T psyllium husk

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

1 t kosher salt

2 eggs at room temperature

1 c non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk beverage, but almond milk or hemp milk could also be used)

1 T apple cider vinegar

3/4 c coconut oil, melted and cooled

2 t vanilla extract

1 1/4 c coconut palm sugar

1/4 c agave nectar or honey

1 c chopped walnuts

2 c diced rhubarb, frozen or fresh

About 4 T coarse turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, flaxseed, psyllium, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, vanilla, coconut sugar, and agave nectar.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well to combine. Add the walnuts and rhubarb and stir again thoroughly.

Spoon 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake paper. Sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 2 dozen muffins.

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

Last-Minute Independence Day Roundup

Here it is, July 3, and I don’t have a new, fun, festive, patriotic recipe for you! I had hoped I would…and happened to pick up some festive photo props just for the occasion (see above). Alas, it was not to be, and the props will have to wait for next year.

But I can still share with you some of my favorite gluten-free Independence Day recipes.

Southwestern Coleslaw from Tasty Eats At Home

Kale Salad, Fully Loaded from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Raw Summer Beet Slaw from Tasty Eats At Home

Cashew Carrot Salad from Fat-Free Vegan

Jalapeno Kale Salad from City|Life|Eats

Curried Grilled Chicken Breast from Tasty Eats At Home

Smokey Rosemary Mustard Chicken from Cara’s Cravings

Moist and Herb-y Turkey Burgers from Tasty Eats At Home

Chipotle Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers from Simply…Gluten-Free

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Tasty Eats At Home

Spicy Stone Fruit Salsa from Daily Bites

Green Beans with Smoky Pecans from Tasty Eats At Home

Grilled Veggie Quinoa Salad from Gluten-Free Goddess

Mini Red, White and Blueberry Cupcakes from Daily Bites

Peach Hatch Chile Cobbler from Tasty Eats At Home

Chocolate Icebox Pie with Walnut Crust from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

Strawberry-Blueberry Pie from Tasty Eats At Home

Triple Berry Raw Cheesecake from Spabettie

Watermelon-Basil Cooler from Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Watermelon-Strawberry Slushies from Cook it Allergy-Free

Happy Independence Day!