Monthly Archives: January 2013

25 Gluten-Free (and More-Free) “Big Game” Recipes

This coming weekend is the “Big Game,” and it’s time to get your menu together! While we’re not typically huge SuperBowl watchers, (that is, until the Cowboys start playing some decent football…) I’m all for some party fare. Of course, the typical spread includes lots of gluten and dairy, and therefore is off-limits to someone like me. But with some creativity, a completely gluten-free (and more-free) party can be had! Just check out these allergen-friendly recipes for party dishes that will be good for any of your guests!

Chipotle Butternut Dip


Green Pea “Hummus” (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Roasted Red Pepper Paleo Hummus (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Creamy Chipotle Butternut Dip (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free)

Naturally Gluten-Free Pizza Dip (gluten-free, dairy-free option, nut-free)

Perfect Guacamole (grain-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Gluten-Free, Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms, photo courtesy of Simply…Gluten-Free 


Rosemary Caramel Almond Popcorn (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

Spinach Balls (gluten-free, nut-free)

Veganzola Cheese Ball (grain-free, vegan)

Stuffed Mushrooms Two Ways (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free, nut-free)

Guacamole Bacon Bites (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Buffalo Spiced Nuts (grain-free, sugar-free, soy-free)

“Cheddar” Salsa Stuffed Cocktail Tomatoes (grain-free, vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Hold the Cheese! Jalapeno Poppers (grain-free, easily vegan, sugar-free, soy-free)

Swedish Meatballs


Oven-Baked Zucchini “Fries” (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Mushroom Pesto Pinwheels (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Swedish Meatballs (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Simple Quinoa Pizza Crust (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Wings with Mole Sauce (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Thai Chicken Wings (grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free)

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Caper Aioli (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free)

Raw Cinnamon Apple Chips


Chocolate Peanut Butter Meltaways (gluten-free)

Raw Cinnamon Apple Chips (gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free)

Maple Syrup Sweetened Marshmallows (grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, nut-free)

Oreo Cookies (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

Dijon and Honey Pork Chops

Let me start by saying this could possibly be the easiest pork chop recipe ever.


Historically, I haven’t been much for pork chops. Growing up, they tended to be tough (sorry, Mom!), and even as I became an adult and started cooking for myself, I found it difficult to make tender chops. I did find over time that certain techniques (like brining) yielded delicious chops. Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has shared a maple-brined pork chop recipe that is divine. For a long while, that has been my go-to for successful pork chops.

Until a few weeks ago, that is. You see, while brining isn’t all that time-intensive or difficult, you have to remember to actually do it in advance. I’m typically a great meal planner and keep a pretty good routine for dinners from night to night. It keeps me sane. But sometimes, life gets in the way. I’m caught at work, or am not at home the night before to make a brine, or it’s otherwise been a hectic, crazy week. It’s then that I don’t look ahead to the following day. I forget to take meat out to thaw, and so am instead quick-thawing in a sink full of water, hoping I can have dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time. Such was the case with some pork chops. So I thawed them out, and decided to wing it.

I seasoned the chops and decided to sear them in a cast-iron skillet using the same method I use for both steak and my lamb chops, since that method takes all of about 10 minutes to make. I admit – I was slightly doubtful that we would have anything but tough chops that night. But I went with it, being careful not to overcook them. As they started in the pan, the idea of a quick sauce came to mind. I quickly mixed together dijon mustard and honey, and once they went into the oven, brushed some onto the chops.

After a quick little rest and a visit onto our plates, what resulted was a small miracle. These chops were tender, moist, and delightful! The honey and dijon glaze perfectly complimented the flavor of the pork without overwhelming it. I typically plan for leftovers, but there were none – my husband and I both ate more than our fair share. If it was polite to lick our plates clean, we totally would have.

Of course, just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke (or a particularly excellent set of chops), I tried this once again last week with a leaner chop. Again, success.

So while most of the time, preparedness is key to a good meal in our home, this time, winging it served me well. This will definitely be a repeat in our home – I  hope in yours as well!

Print Recipe

Dijon and Honey Pork Chops (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb pork chops, about 1-inch thick

Salt, pepper and your favorite herb seasoning blend (I currently adore Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight) to taste

3 T honey

3 T Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and herb seasoning. In a small bowl, stir together the honey and mustard until blended.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add the chops to the skillet and allow to sear for a minute or until brown. Flip to the other side and brush with a bit of the honey and mustard blend. Place in the oven.

Bake for 5 minutes, turning the chops halfway through and brushing with more of the honey and mustard blend. Remove from the oven and place on a plate (don’t leave in the hot skillet, or they’ll continue to cook!) to rest for 3-4 minutes, brushing with any remaining sauce.

Serves 3-4.

What are some of your favorite quick, healthy meal ideas? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

This post is linked to 5-Ingredient Mondays over at The Daily Dietribe and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Review and Giveaway: Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free – A Whole Food Starter Guide & Cookbook

Update: This giveaway is now closed. The winner is commenter #95 – Laura. Congrats Laura!

Are you new to dairy-free and/or gluten-free living? Looking for some tips on how to transition to a healthier, whole foods-based diet?

Hallie Klecker of Daily Bites and Alisa Fleming of Go Dairy Free have collaborated to create this amazing ebook just to help you out. Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free – A Whole Food Starter Guide & Cookbook is just that – a book filled with tips and tons of information to help you on your way, plus 75 awesome whole-foods recipes that are as delicious as they are nourishing.

The book begins with the basics – it helps the reader to understand what dairy and gluten are, and where they can be found. My favorite part, however (okay, aside from the recipes – that’s a given), is what follows – some tips on how to transition to a whole foods diet.

A whole foods-based diet is something I can completely get behind. When I first went gluten and then dairy-free, I was still suffering from digestive distress. In short, I wasn’t healing from the damage the gluten and dairy caused. It wasn’t until I slowly transitioned away from processed foods and started truly eating whole, unprocessed foods that I felt healthy again. While it may seem daunting at first – the idea of eating only unprocessed foods – I promise you, it’s been worth the effort and the time. The health rewards, including more energy, improved digestion, more energy, a solid immune system, and did I mention more energy, have been well worth it. And with this guide, Hallie and Alisa help you along the way with tips, and even a seasonal menu plan to help you with the day-to-day.

And of course, the recipes. Something that I often hear from people new to cooking from scratch is how some recipes are too difficult, with many steps and a ton of ingredients. When you look at some gluten-free baking recipes, you’ll totally agree. (And I know, I myself have created some rather lengthy recipes!) What I find most attractive about these 75 recipes is that they are simple. Straightforward. I find that essential to long-term success - being able to make meals that don’t require mental gymnastics on a day-to-day basis.

There’s also plenty of room for make-ahead options in this book. For instance, most of the suggested lunch menu items are things you could make the night before – such as the Salmon & Summer Vegetable Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing, or the Sushi Snackers. In fact, you could make enough for both dinner one night and for lunch the following day, getting twice the mileage in your meal in one effort. They also shared some convenient make-ahead breakfast ideas, like the Grain-Free Cinnamon Raisin Granola. In fact, that looked so good, I decided to make it for myself.

Let me tell you, it was addictive. Subtly sweet, with a perfect crunch, I had to stash it away and hide it from myself after snacking on it all evening. I’m kind of a granola fiend to begin with, and this stuff was perfect. It’s also delicious with almond milk.

I’ve definitely made notes to try other recipes from their book as well – like the Harvest Hash for breakfast, the Uptown Waldorf Salad, or the Florentine Flatbread “Pizza”, made with a quinoa crust based on my pizza crust recipe. I can’t wait to see what Hallie and Alisa have done with it – it might just become my new favorite!

What do you think? Would you like to check out a copy of this essential ebook? Well, Hallie and Alisa have graciously allowed me to give away a copy! So if you’d like to enter to win, please leave a comment below telling me your favorite whole foods-based dish!

The giveaway is open to anyone 18 years of age or older, and will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, January 27, 2013. Best of luck to you all!



Beet and Parsnip Soup with Cashew Cream

Sometimes, the universe has a way of allowing the stars to align. Like when you walk into a store to realize that your favorite sweater you’ve been longing for is on sale 50% off. Or as you’re leaving late in the morning on your daily commute to the office, but for once, the traffic is going smoothly, and you make it on time to your oh-so-important meeting with the boss. Or when, almost as a sudden image, a mere flash of clarity in your mind, the idea for this soup appears in your head, and the next thing you know, you realize you have all of the ingredients available to make it. Beets, beef stock, parsnips, and just enough cashews to make a delicious cream for garnish.

And when you make it, first allowing the beets and parsnips to roast, putting off the sweet scent of caramelizing sugars throughout the house, then simmering until everything is tender and merry, and finally, tasting a spoonful, you know. It’s as if it was meant to be.

Okay, maybe that’s a little too poetic for a soup from humble beets and parsnips, two of the ugliest winter vegetables of the world, but just look at it. With a little love and a quick puree, homely root vegetables become silky and vibrant. That color alone is enough to chase any winter blues away. Perhaps it’s a bit soon to be thinking of Valentine’s Day meal ideas, but this could be a perfect simple dish to share with a fellow beet-lover. (Or possibly even convert a former beet-hater?)

This soup is easily adaptable. I think that’s the general nature and beauty of most soups – that you can add, change, and omit ingredients to your liking. Want to make this vegan? Just substitute the lard and beef broth for olive oil and vegetable broth – it will be just as lovely. I also think it would be delicious with even more parsnips, but it’s entirely up to you. Whatever you do, be sure to give this a try. It won’t disappoint.

Print Recipe

Beet and Parsnip Soup (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan-adaptable)

1 lb beets, peeled and cut into chunks

3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks

3 T melted lard (made from pastured pork fat – here’s a tutorial on how to render lard) or olive oil, separated

1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped

2 pieces green garlic, chopped (or 4 garlic cloves)

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

8 allspice berries

1/2 t fennel seeds

2 c beef stock (homemade is best - here’s a tutorial on how to make beef stock), or vegetable stock for vegan

1-2 c vegetable stock (again, homemade is best)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley and Cashew Cream (below), for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the beets and parsnips with 2 tablespoons of the lard and season with a bit of salt. Roast for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of lard in a stockpot over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring, until softened. Tie the thyme, bay leaves, allspice berries, and fennel in a piece of muslin to make a bag. Toss the bag along with the beef and vegetable stock into the stockpot. Allow to simmer on low heat until the beets and parsnips are ready, and then add the beets and parsnips to the soup. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the muslin bag from the pot, and then remove from heat for a minute or two. Pour the soup into a blender (or use a stick/handheld blender) and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnished with parsley and cashew cream.

Serves 4-6.

Cashew Cream (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

1 c raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours

1/3-1/2 c filtered water

juice of 1 large lemon

About 1/2 t of salt (to taste)

Drain the soaked cashews and place in a high-powered blender along with 1/4 cup of the water, the lemon juice, and the salt. Blend on a medium-low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides, until smooth. Add additional water as needed to thin the cream just enough so that it can be drizzled over the soup. Store remainder, refrigerated, for 3-4 days.

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

Gluten-Free “Big Game” Football Party LIVE CHAT

Next Wednesday, January 23, 2013, we will be discussing gluten-free entertaining and cooking for the “Big Game”!

Join us at 7PM CT/8PM ET over at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community (it’s free!) and share your favorite appetizers, drinks and party dishes.

Hope to see you there!

Curry-Roasted Kabocha Squash with Rosemary

It’s already starting. That itch, that impatience…you know, the kind that comes with this time of year. I’m already missing farm-fresh produce. I’m thankful that I live far enough south so that there are some things that grow through the winter. I have kale, cilantro, and oregano that are doing well in my garden, and of course the sage and rosemary that double as decorative landscaping in the front flower beds are handy to have around. But I miss the farmer’s market. I miss the bounty of vegetables. I miss having so much in my CSA share from week to week that I have to become extremely creative in my attempts to use it all. I still have a bit in the freezer from the summer – some green beans and some blueberries – but mostly, I’m stuck with grocery store wares. (I do have to say, however, that Greenling helps tremendously with ensuring I get some fresh goods this time of year!)

So I’m making do with what I can find, and this time of year, it’s winter squash. It’s a good thing there are countless varieties, and I am quite enamored with most all of them. Especially kabocha. It’s definitely not a pretty squash – green and bumpy. Getting a knife into it is tricky, as it’s quite hard when raw. But it’s worth it, because when roasted, its flesh is sweeter and creamier than the best butternut or pumpkin. It’s velvety and sumptuous, and is amazing in pies, baked goods, risottos, or simply roasted.

This time around, I opted to cut wedges of a kabocha squash I’d picked up and roast them. Rubbed down with a bit of coconut oil, fresh rosemary, and Madras curry powder, the squash was popped into the oven, and an easy 30 minutes later, it was perfectly creamy with caramelized edges. I won’t lie – I had more than my fair share with dinner, and enjoyed leftovers with breakfast the following morning. And now, writing about it makes me wish I had more.

Let’s just say, this squash has a way of reminding me to appreciate all the seasons, even the ones without tons of readily available greens.

Print Recipe

Curry-Roasted Kabocha Squash with Rosemary (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

1/2 large Kabocha squash, cut into 1 1/2-inch thick wedges

3 T coconut oil, melted

1 T Madras curry powder

1 T coconut palm sugar

1 T rosemary needles, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup. Rub down the squash wedges with coconut oil, and then rub curry powder, rosemary, coconut palm sugar, salt and pepper all over.

Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the wedges over halfway though. Remove and serve.

Serves 4-6.


Four Tips To Sustain A Healthy Lifestyle at The Balanced Platter

Over at The Balanced Platter today, I am sharing some tips on how to sustain a healthy lifestyle. (Hint: preparedness is key!) Head on over there and check it out!


Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bars

I have a sneaking suspicion that a great many of you are focusing on healthy eating with renewed vigor. Am I right? Of course, if you’re changing up your routine, it can quickly become overwhelming. (Especially if you’re not accustomed to cooking all of your meals, and are now making an effort to do so – I feel ya there!)

Something that helps immensely to keep me on track with healthy eating is to prepare things in advance. Sunday afternoon is my “prep” time – I go to the grocery store, and when I come home, I make sure I have made a few essentials made for the coming week to take to work. Often this includes prepping for my daily morning green juices, cutting up veggies and fruit for snacks, and boiling some eggs for easy breakfasts. Sometimes I’ll even make crackers or trail mix to help with snacks.

This week, I decided I wanted to change up my breakfast routine a bit. Often, alongside the hard-boiled eggs and green juice, I’ll enjoy a piece of fruit, or some avocado and tomato. And while I am all for variety during other meals, I’m happy to eat the same breakfast day in and day out. For whatever reason, though, this week called for a change. Enter these protein breakfast bars.

I occasionally use protein powders for green smoothies as a breakfast solution. I don’t use them every day, as I prefer to get my protein from whole food sources, but sometimes, protein powder in smoothies is convenient. I often switch from brand to brand, although I am partial to Vega Performance Protein. I was pretty excited to find another gluten-free, non-dairy protein powder with an ingredient list I could definitely get behind – pumpkinseed protein powder. I found this brand – Omega Nutrition – and their protein powder is 100% organic and is reasonably priced. And get this – the ingredients? Organic pumpkin seeds. That’s it. Love when I don’t have to decipher whether something is actually food or not. (And no, I have no affiliation with Omega Nutrition, I just happen to love this powder.) I also like that it blends pretty well into my smoothies without any real flavor or texture issues.

This time, however, I decided to use it in these bars. I’ve seen people bake cakes and cookies with protein powder, so why not a healthy breakfast bar? These bars ended up chewy, subtly sweet, and satisfying – kind of akin to an oatmeal cookie. They’re not just for breakfast – they could be packed for a good little snack any time of day – but they’re great to make ahead of time and have on hand for the week. With a good amount of protein from the protein powder, peanut butter, and quinoa, plus fiber from the chia seeds, quinoa, and pureed fruit, they can help power you through your morning without being hungry. That’s key for me – I don’t want to feel like I’m starving an hour after breakfast!

So if you’re one to crave a little treat in the morning, these bars might just do the trick, and keep you on track to developing a new, healthier breakfast habit!

Print Recipe

Quinoa Protein Breakfast Bars (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

1/4 c peanut butter (I made my own, so the only ingredients were peanuts and salt)

1/4 c pumpkinseed protein powder (I am unsure whether you can substitute other protein powders, but give it a try!)

1 ripe banana

1/2 c unsweetened applesauce

1/2 c mashed sweet potato (I make mine using this method, but don’t always add maple)

2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t liquid vanilla stevia

1/4 t fine sea salt

1 1/2 t baking powder

1 T ground chia seeds

3 T maple syrup

1 c quinoa flakes

1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9 in X 9 in baking pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the peanut butter, protein powder, banana, applesauce, sweet potato, cinnamon, stevia, salt, baking powder, chia seeds, and maple syrup until well combined and smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl and stir in the quinoa flakes and raisins. Scoop into the prepared baking pan and spread out evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges start to brown just a bit. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Store in refrigerator for a week, or in the freezer for several months.

Makes 16 squares.

Want to talk more about health and fitness goals? Join our Live Chat on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, at 9PM EST at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community. We will be discussing New Year’s Resolutions and health and fitness goals!


LIVE CHAT: New Year’s Resolutions and Fitness/Health Goals

photo credit: flickr ell brown

Wanted to drop you a quick note to say HAPPY NEW YEAR, and also to let you know that next Wednesday, January 9th, at 8PM Central (9PM Eastern), we will be hosting a Live Chat over at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community, where we will be discussing New Year’s Resolutions.

In addition, there will be yummy gluten-free prizes, courtesy of Udi’s Gluten-Free Foods, such as their fabulous pizza crusts and granola!

So whether you’re new to gluten-free, are a seasoned veteran, or are just looking to chat about some healthy goals for 2013, be sure and drop by – it’s free to attend.

Hope to see you there!