Monday, April 30, 2012

Quick Minestrone Soup - Vegan and Wheat Free

 It's Meatless Monday! Today I actually got a call from a project director of Meatless Monday. She wanted to interview me about how going meatless has changed and enriched our lives. I know, as the mom of a child with multiple food allergies, it seems almost stupid to commit to restricting our diets even more one night a week. But for us, realizing that not every meal had to follow the meat/veggies/carb model really opened my eyes. I started looking at and adapting vegan and vegetarian recipes and a whole new world was suddenly made visible to me. I discovered polenta, all the ways chickpeas can be used, and that you can create whole meals that satisfy everyone for half the price of a recipe including meat. Allergies suck, but even though we've removed whole food groups from our diet, we eat more varied and nutritionally complete foods than the typical american diet, and for that I am (almost) thankful for multiple food allergies.

  Anyway, I would like to make minestrone from scratch soon, the kind you simmer on the stove for 5-6 hours. But in the meantime, here is a super fast and tasty version to make on busy nights :)

Quick and Easy Minestrone Soup

28oz vegetable stock 
1 can italian seasoned stewed tomatoes, drained
1 can black beans (or kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, such as italian style or country mix
2 tsp italian seasoning, crushed
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbl marinara sauce (optional)
14 oz corn-quinoa pasta elbows or other shapes

In a medium/large stock pot over high high heat, add vegetable stock, tomatoes, beans and chickpeas, and bring to a boil, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the rest of the ingredients except pasta. Return to a boil, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add pasta and cover, simmering for 6-9 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Remove from heat, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with nutritional yeast flakes sprinkled on top and yummy garlic toast to dip in it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vegan Wheat/Gluten Free Cornbread and Milk

This is not so much a recipe as it is another breakfast idea. Cornbread and milk is yet another popular southern thang, as a dessert or breakfast and it's way yummy. On nights my mom made cornbread with dinner my brother Randy and I would eat as little as possible so that later we could crumble the cold cornbread up in a bowl, throw on a heaping scoop of sugar, and drown the whole thing in milk. Mmm! And the leftover cornbread for breakfast the next day is even tastier because it doesn't turn to mush quite as fast. Yum!

Well last night we had a version of Hoppin' John with kale greens and cornbread. We used Bob's Red Mill gluten free cornbread mix with Ener-G egg replacer, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/3 cup melted Soy Free Earth Balance buttery spread. Also I prefer to make mine into muffins rather than a big sheet the mix calls for, but that's just me.The cornbread was absolutely delicious while hot with dinner, and it made enough that we had leftovers which worked perfectly for breakfast this morning!

I used vanilla almond milk and a (less than heaping) spoonful of organic non GMO sugar over the crumbled cornbread. The boys loved it and I loved being able to share the familiar treat from my childhood with them in a safe way. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jumpin' Jack (Vegan and Rice Free Hoppin' John)

It's Meatless Monday! I decided to make a sort of version of Hoppin' John, a southern, slightly spicy dish made with rice, bell peppers, celery, black eyed peas, and bacon or ham of some sort. It's sort of like the white bean version of red beans and rice, in my opinion. I wanted to make it with barley instead of rice but after I was already cooking I realized I didn't have quite a full cup of barley. I decided to do half barley, half quinoa, but you could do either on their own. Also I did not have black eyed peas but I did have cannellini and to me, there's really not much difference other than aesthetics. Since it's Monday, I just left the meat out all together.
  This was yummy, especially with  braised kale greens and cornbread!
(On that note, I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free cornbread mix with Ener-G Egg Replacer, Soy Free Earth Balance Buttery Spread, and water instead of milk/dairy free milk. They were moist and delicious!)

Vegan and Rice Free Hoppin' John

1 Tbl olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (red would also be great)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cup vegetable stock or broth, soy free
1/2 cup quick cooking barley*
1/2 cup quinoa*
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cans cannellini beans or black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
*you could use both of these or 1 full cup of either

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Add vegetable broth, barley/quinoa, thyme, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes, until barley and quinoa are cooked and there is no liquid left. Remove from heat and stir in beans. Let sit for 5 minutes to heat beans through and serve.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

French Toast- Vegan, Wheat and Soy Free

Breakfast. What a daunting word when you have multiple food allergies. It seems you can eat almost anything for lunch and dinner, but what's breakfast? Eggs, some sort of pork, a wheat filled bread type substance, and potatoes. Cereal, fruit and yogurt too, but those are not really 'Sunday Breakfast' material.
A few milk, egg, wheat, pork/beef free options:
  • grits
  • turkey bacon
  • wheat free toast (we prefer white rye since we are not gluten free and other wheat free breads contain rice, another of Jack's allergens)
  • country potatoes
  • wheat free vegan pancakes (Bob's Redmill GF Pancake mix)

But this list is obviously lacking. We used to make wheat free biscuits and dairy free gravy but since losing rice products that hasn't been something we have been able to recreate in a decent way yet. Last night for whatever reason I wondered if there was a vegan way to make french toast. I jumped on the computer and looked it up and sure enough, there are all sorts of variations of this delicious breakfast food. Some included tofu so were off the list, but I found a few that used pureed banana and non-dairy milk, and a few that contained nutritional yeast flakes. I mixed and matched ingredients until I made one I thought would work for us. This mornign we gave it a shot and oh my, this was so good and easy. It does have a slightly banana-y aroma, but it is not distracting. Jack ate 2 WHOLE slices! He normally doesn't even eat one piece of regular toast. Score!!

Vegan and Wheat Free French Toast

8-10 slices vegan wheat free bread (we use Food For Life White Rye)
3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
1/2 tsp Nutritional Yest Flakes or a large pinch of salt
2 Tbl Soy Free Earth Balance buttery spread, divided

In a blender or food processor, add bananas, almond milk, spices, vanilla, and yeast flakes. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pie pan or wide shallow bowl. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add 1/2 Tbl Earth Balance butter to the pan. Once melted, add two slices of bread quickly dipped in the banana mixture and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and place on a warmed plate and repeat with remaining butter and slices of bread. Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, and more Earth Balance.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Italian Turkey Cutlets

I got this recipe from and I changed it only a little. This was very good and so easy, I am sure we will be making this again. The sauce was great, the onions were still slightly firm (in that they weren't completely mush) and because of that the texture was fabulous!

Italian Turkey Cutlets

1 medium onion, diced 
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1 (14.5 ounce) can italian style stewed tomatoes, juice included
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
2 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 1/4 lb boneless turkey breast cutlets
1+ tsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

In a small saucepan, heat 2 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions become transparent. Add tomatoes and juice, rosemary, 1 tsp sea salt, a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper, and yeast flakes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer about 15-20 minutes, until sauce has thickened. (I became impatient and added a tsp of cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbl water and this thickened right up but if I had had more time I would have preferred to let it boil down).
Meanwhile in a large non-stick skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium low heat. Generously sprinkle turkey cutlets with remaining salt and pepper and cook in the skillet until juices run clear and they get nice golden brown coloring, about 3-5 minutes per side.
Serve turkey with sauce on top. Sprinkle with more yeast flakes if desired.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Asparagus and Penne with Vegan Marsala Sauce

 It's Meatless Monday! I usually like to plan dinner in the morning, but today was pretty busy with doctor appointments, interviews, Walmart, and general parental craziness. I didn't even start to think about what to make until 4:45. Thankfully I purchased some lovely asparagus and a package of mushrooms just a few days ago hoping something would come to mind, and we always have pasta on hand. This was really yummy, even Jack and Ben liked it!

Asparagus and Penne with Vegan Marsala Wine Sauce

1 Tbl Soy Free Earth Balance buttery spread
1/4 white onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
8-10oz mushrooms (divided), rinsed and chopped
1/4 cup Marsala Wine
1 cup cashew cream *(recipe below)
1 cup soy free vegetable stock
2 tsp sea salt
1 few cracks of fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)

12 oz organic corn pasta
25 stalks fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups water

In a medium sauce pan, melt Earth Balance over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add half of the mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to darken and get soft, about 3 minutes. Add Marsala Wine and cook down until about half the liquid has evaporated, 1-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add cashew cream and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low. Add remaining mushrooms and simmer about 15 minutes, until sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. (If your sauce just won't thicken and you're in a hurry, mix 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 Tbl water in a small cup until smooth and lump free. Add to sauce and raise heat a little to return to a boil. it should thicken quickly).
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. At the same time in a seperate small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add asparagus and boil until fork tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain both pasta and asparagus and stir the two together. Serve penne with a big spoonful of sauce on top and maybe some yummy garlic bread. Yum!!

*To make cashew cream,  soak 1 cup of raw cashews overnight. Drain and blend or process in a food processor until smooth. If you don't have time to wait, bring 2/3 cup of water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup raw cashews and a big pinch of salt and boil for 15 minutes. Pour the cashews and water into the blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vegan Wheat Free No Bake Brownie Bites

This is waaaay off topic, but I worked at Kohl's for about 3 years, starting when I was 18. They would occasionally have lunches or parties for whatever reason, as most companies do. One time, as I was clocking in for an evening shift, I saw that there had been a party earlier in the day and there was a container of delicious fat filled brownie bites, nearly empty, still sitting on the break table. I LOVED those things but didn't have time to eat any and didn't want them to be gone when I took my break, so I wrapped 3 up in a napkin and put them in my locker. I then promptly forgot about them, and as a teenager, I was a total mess all the time. It wasn't until I was cleaning out my locker 2 years later that I found those brownie bites again, hard as little rocks but perfectly preserved.
Aaaanyway, these delicious brownie bites taste nearly identical to those brownie bites of my yester years, but contain no wheat, eggs, or milk, and are loaded with healthy stuff (and then rolled in sugar, cuz you can't win all the time!) These were very simple to make even though I only had raw almonds and had to roast mine first.
BTW, to roast raw almonds, heat oven to 350 and spread almonds onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the outsides have a deeper brown color than they started with and a few have split slightly. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool.

Vegan and Wheat Free NO BAKE Brownie Bites

15 pitted dates
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole roasted almonds
1 Tbl agave nectar (or honey, if not vegan)
2 Tbl water (plus more, if needed)
3 Tbl or so powdered sugar

In a food processor or fancy-pants blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, process almonds until fairly well ground. It does not have to be like almond flour, but you don't want any huge chunks. Add dates, cocoa powder, agave nectar, and water. Mix until it forms a sticky mass. If it seems to dry or crumbly, add water 1 tsp at a time until you get the desired consitency. Using damp hands (I stood by the sink and rinsed my hands after every 3rd ball), for 1 Tbl dough at a time into a balla nd place on waxed paper. Pour powdered sugar into a shallow wide bowl, and roll brownie bites until completely covered in powdered sugar. If you have too much sugar, roll them between your hands again and a lot will come off. Keep these in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Italian Turkey Sausage

  One of my "oh my gosh I haven't even thought about what to make for dinner and we need to eat in 20 minutes" meals is ground italian turkey sausage, corn pasta, and soy-free, dairy free pasta sauce. It's simple, everyone likes it, and as long as I have all the ingredients, it only takes 15 minutes to make. You can buy italian seasoned ground turkey sausage but it's more expensive and contains much more fat than plain ground turkey and has a lot of strange chemical sounding things in the ingredients list. I prefer seasoning plain lean ground turkey myself, and since I do this while I am browning the meat, it takes no extra time. Here is how you do it!

Ground Italian Turkey Sausage

1 lb 97% fat free ground turkey
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp  garlic powder
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbl fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne (for spicy sausage)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meat and all seasonings to skillet, stir well to incorporate all seasonings and then cook until well browned.

You can make this ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or the freezer for several months.

Pork Free Red Beans and Quinoa

  My dad grew up in New Orleans. As kids, we were no strangers to delicious spicy wonderful cajun cooking. One of my dad's go-to recipes on rare nights that he cooked was red beans and rice, and I loved it! It's made with all sorts of pig products though; a ham bone, bacon, pork andouille sausage, sometimes a smoked pork chop thrown in for good flavor. It's so good but not the healthiest thing in the world and definitely not Jack friendly. But with quinoa instead of rice and all the great turkey products (including sausages!) hitting the market lately, I thought I'd try to replicate this greasy but delicious dish in a Jack friendly, healthier manner. Though this recipe takes about 3 hours, it's so worth it. This was absolutely a success!

  Just as a side note, though there are all types of turkey sausages available, if you are avoiding pork due to allergies or religious reasons, be sure to read the ingredients fully as a lot of them are still in pork casing. Look for artificial casing or just use ground sausage.

Pork Free Red Beans and Quinoa

1 lb red kidney beans, rinsed and picked over
1/2 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 slices of turkey bacon, cut into pieces
2 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1+ Tbl Penzey's cajun seasoning (or your favorite cajun seasoning)
1 lb turkey smoked sausage (such as Oscar Mayer)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked quinoa per person
Tabasco (optional)
cocktail onions (a must for me, but not everyone's cup of tea)

In a large stock pot, cover beans with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, allow to boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, bacon, and bay leaves plus a good pinch of salt, pepper, and 1 Tbl cajun seasoning and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, about 1.5-2 hours.
Cut the sausage into rings and then cut in half again to make half circles. Add to the pot and continue to simmer about 20 mins. Add Tabasco and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Remove bay leaves and serve heaping spoonfuls over quinoa. Garnish with cocktail onions and enjoy!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dairy Free/ Wheat Free Pizza Toast!

I know, I know, another pizza themed recipe. Since finding out Jack's newest allergies, we've been craving pizza and dying to find a good substitute. Also, I've been battling a virus this last week and just haven't felt up to anything complicated for dinner. I remember making 10 minute pizza toast as a little kid, so I thought I'd give it a go tonight. It came out well! I also made myself a tortilla BBQ pizza that was very good. This was really quick and could easily be made vegan (since this bread is free of animal products) or to suit most dietary needs. Use gluten free bread if avoiding gluten.

Dairy Free/ Wheat Free Pizza Toast

8 slices Food For Life White Rye Bread (or any bread that fits your needs)
4 Tbl Bertolli Classic Pizza sauce
6 Tbl Daiya Mozzarella Cheese Shreds
2 Tbl (or so) Hormel Turkey Pepperoni
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
Whatever other toppings you want!

Preheat oven to 350.
Place all pieces of bread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Flip the pieces of bread over and spoon pizza sauce onto each. Top with Daiya Cheese, spinach, pepperoni, and anything else that sounds good (maybe onion!). Bake for another 5 minutes and check to see if cheese has melted. If they need more time, bake another five minutes or even broil them for 1-2 minutes. Be careful, Daiya can burn quickly!

My tortilla pizza involved:
1 medium yellow corn tortilla
1 Tbl Stubbs BBQ sauce
1 Tbl Daiya Mozzarella shreds
1 Tbl chopped grilled turkey breast
a handful of mandarin oranges
a pinch of italian seasoning

I baked it the exact same way, on the same cookie sheet as the toasts. It was AWESOME. The tortilla got stiff enough that I could hold the whole thing and eat it, but not so hard that it crunched or broke when I bit it. And near the end I folded it in half and had a pizza taco!!!