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Lunchtime

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Even when I eat salad or soup, I always have a hearty carb to accompany it, which might take the form of rice with soup or corn tortillas to wrap up my salad, but lately most of my lunches involve Schar Classic White Rolls. These taste delicious with a sourdough flavor and a real classic bready texture that leaves no issues with unseen holes that gluten-free loaves are apt to hide. They are free of dairy and eggs too and make excellent hamburger buns although usually I just use them for regular old sandwiches. They are too big for my toaster even though I have one of those bagel toasters so I always just put them under the broiler for a few minutes each side before adding the extras, unless I’m using cheese and then that goes under the boiler too, just for the last-minute or so. My favorite sandwich does involve cheese, mozzarella to be specific, plus tomato and basil with extra greens and a little olive oil and vinegar for a caprese-inspired sandwich. Yum!

Yesterday I had this salad I’d gotten from PCC’s deli called something along the lines of ‘ravishing radishes’ with my roll and it was so delicious and healthy that I had to see if they had the recipe posted…but, unfortunately I don’t see it yet on their recipe page yet. It was full of radishes, garbanzo beans, feta, cherry tomatoes, herbs and a light vinaigrette. Definitely going to try something similar…Here’s a pic so you can too:

Salad with Schar roll

 

And here’s one with the salad on the roll:

Salad on Schar Can’t you just taste it? So good! If you are tired of your gluten-free loaves surprising you with little holes in your slices of bread, try these rolls instead. They are guaranteed to make your lunch a fulfilling one!

 

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Gluten-free and Vegan)

Just when I thought I never wanted another corn tortilla again, I got a craving for a taco with some sort of orange veggie in it. Whenever we go out to dinner we often go to one of two places where I order a butternut squash quesadilla. I love them, but I hate dealing with squash and its hard shell that eats knives for breakfast so I have never attempted to make them myself. It got me thinking though that wouldn’t a sweet potato taste just as good in that kind of meal? And if I could eliminate the cheese it’d be even better for our family, so onto the web I went and sure enough there are plenty of recipes for sweet potatoes and black beans together in all sorts of fashions~ tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I went the taco route and used several different recipes to cobble together what is written below to work with what I had in my refrigerator. My husband and oldest son loved these by the way, as did I, and my youngest who only gathered enough courage to try one black bean and one piece of sweet potato admitted the black bean wasn’t bad. That says more to me than the fact that my husband is generally not a huge sweet potato fan, nor a big black bean fan, and really he prefers flour tortillas and definitely cheese and preferably meat. This recipe outshined all that. It is a keeper.

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potato and black bean taco

1.5 T vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil and olive oil)

1/2 t salt

1 yellow or red onion (I used red b/c that is what I had and the purple hue was so pretty)

1 pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, but orange or green would work)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium-large sweet potato

1 can black beans (or 1.5 c if using dried beans)

1 t cumin

freshly ground pepper to taste

corn tortillas

guacamole (or avocados)

Preheat oven to 400. Using a large cast iron pan or some other oven-friendly pan* sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are translucent in 1 T of vegetable oil. (I used sunflower oil). In a bowl coat the sweet potato which has been skinned and diced into bite size pieces with 1/2 T of oil (I used olive) and 1/2 t of sea salt. Add this into the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute before transferring into the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm up the rinsed and drained beans on medium with 1 t cumin in a small sauce pan. Also warm up some corn tortillas** until they are soft. Take the pan out of the oven and if the sweet potatoes are cooked through add the beans and stir to get everything mixed together. Load the tortillas and top with guacamole or fresh avocados. It’s a symphony of flavors played just right. If it were up to me this is what I’d make for Thanksgiving, along with kale chips and pica de gallo salsa. It’s enough to make a pilgrim say, “Ole!” But alas, we are hosting this year and I’m going to have to stick to the more traditional items I’ve already planned.

sweet potato and black bean taco

 

* If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use one that you can top with a lid or plate and add 2 T of water to the mixture to steam it for approximately 5-10 min.

** I use Trader Joe’s corn tortillas b/c they are thick and sturdy, plus they are remarkably clean. Their ingredient list is all of: ground white corn masa flour, water, trace of lime. That’s it. Exactly how it should be. And they taste incredibly good, much better than any other corn tortilla on the market.Trader Joe's corn tortillas

 

baking · dairy free · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gf bread · gf foods · gluten free · gluten free bread · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free travel · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · kids · picky kids · vegan · vegetarian

Gluten-free Travel in Maui

Maui Beach

We just took a trip to Maui, my sons and my first to Hawaii, and I was of course nervous about what we were all going to eat. The good news is that it wasn’t actually that difficult, but the bad news, I have to say, was it was food-boring. On the first night we got in late and ordered room service because it actually pointed out their gluten-free foods on the menu (Westin Ocean Villas at Ka’anapali). Their gluten-free buns were dark and awesome, though I was much more enthusiastic than my boys who prefer whiter breads. They must use teff or some other flour that isn’t in heavy rotation in the gluten-free bread circles because they were darker than I’d ever seen any gluten-free baked good, and hearty like a dark whole wheat. The next day we went to a typical grocery store and bought gluten-free pasta, corn tortillas, refried beans and a few other things plus fruit and veggies. We ended up eating those things just about every single meal of every single day of the week, hence the food-boredom. We went out to two other meals, one, a Mexican restaurant so more tortillas and beans, and then another to an open-air sports pub kind of place where the boys and I got…tacos. Thank goodness for corn tortillas but it will be a long time before I care to make anything with them again. My youngest son found a bread he adores though, so he actually ate toast, plain toast nothing on it, for part of many meals. Ener.g tapioca bread was a big hit with him and about as white as you can possibly make any bread. tapioca loaf

I had brought with me pumpkin seed butter by Omega Nutrition and my other son spread that on all his toast and Udi’s bagels which I had brought with us. pumpkinSeedButter-12oz-MediumThat pumpkin seed butter is really good~ it tastes closer to peanut butter than sunflower seed butter does, and less salty. If you have a nut-free child, or are nut-free yourself, I definitely recommend trying it if you haven’t already.

I suppose people don’t go to Maui in November for the food, but it made it a little easier to go from 80+ degree weather to 30 degree weather when we were so bored with our meal times. It is nice to be home with our warm kitchen, even if the weather outside is back to the typical Fall drizzle and there are no oceans nearby. It was good to see that so many gluten-free things could be found in a regular grocery store though~ I suppose traveling anywhere in the U.S. would be fairly easy at this point, as long as you had your own toaster and stove-top to use.

Thanksgiving is next week already and all the recipes I’ve seen going around all look so tempting! I think I’m going to stick with a few side dishes I know though while my husband deals with the turkey. So far this is the plan:

Marinated goat cheese appetizer (Café Flora cookbook) with crostini and rice crackers

Gluten-free, vegan corn bread muffins

Rolls from Wildflour

Roasted Winter Vegetables from Whole Living

Husband will make (or buy!) Turkey and Mashed Potatoes and probably cranberry sauce which no one ever actually eats at our house

Some kind of pie with (non-dairy) ice cream

(Please ignore my ‘creative’ capitalization.)

What’s on your menu?

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween SpooktacularHalloween is a mixed-emotion day for anyone with food allergies or intolerances. It’s hard to be a kid and go from the excitement of having a bag full of candy to the disappointment of setting aside all the forbidden ones. Luckily Halloween has always been more about the dressing up than the candy for my kids , but it’s still always a big let-down when they sort their goodies. I try to have extra gluten-free, dairy-free candy here that the can trade for the stuff in their bags, including some of their favorite chocolates that they are certainly not going to find trick-or-treating. It helps. And it also gives them some character really, to have to show some judgment, understand consequences, give up some things that are hard to give up because it’s the healthier choice for them. They get to learn it isn’t the end of the world to part with some candy and that is a lesson in emotional maturity that I can be thankful for. They handle it, and so do I. Let’s enjoy this day everyone! Be safe and have fun.

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Gluten-free, Vegan, Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Have you been looking for a gluten-free, dairy free, nut free, and egg free graham cracker? Schar has you covered.

schar graham crackers

 

I don’t know about you, but after three weeks of making school lunches and snacks for two, I was about out of fresh ideas. Then I saw these new lovelies at my local Whole Foods and my mind raced with excitement~ grahams with sun butter, or peanut butter, or vegan cream cheese! Smores for a special treat! Taken as they are for a snack! And of course, covering them in (dairy free) chocolate because I don’t care how old you are nor how sophisticated your palate, everyone loves chocolate covered graham crackers.

chocolate covered grahams

Now I know people who professionally cover things in chocolate have a big routine with the melting and the hand mixing and spreading and all that, but really you can do these very simply and trust me, they taste divine. All I did was take apart a dark chocolate bar (Endangered Species brand)

Dark chocolate bar

melted it

melting chocolate then dipped the grahams (with the help of tongs) and let them cool down and solidify on wax paper:

Fresh chocolate grahamsI then tried melting and dipping with some Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips I happened to have in my cupboard and they turned out to have a more milk chocolate taste and were also slightly lighter in color as you can maybe see in the picture. They then went into the refrigerator for further solidifying and safe keeping. They would last a week in the fridge if my sons let them, but chances are they have three days at most.

These were so easy and such a rare treat I think this will be what I do for my kids’ birthday celebrations in their classrooms this year. Each child will get two along with a few strawberries, and I can guarantee not a one will miss the gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts. So much better than cupcakes and if anyone doesn’t like chocolate (I’ve heard a rumor these people exist) then they can have some plain Schar grahams which are a tasty treat in their own right. Perfect!

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Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut free Cinnamon Pumpkin Scones

For years I’ve been making these scones with slight variations, trying to find the best recipe. I think I’ve found it. They are not too sweet and therefore would be lovely with a cream cheese icing or a sugary glaze, plus that would make them a little prettier, because honestly, they are not that attractive. If you add xanthan gum I’m sure you can get a smoother finish, but it’s just not that important to me and I like the not-so-sweetness of them. As any gluten-free eater knows, it’s fairly easy to make sweet gluten-free items taste good, but it’s harder to find things that aren’t loaded with extra sugar. Of course, you can use all white sugar instead of the brown sugar that I use below, but the depth that the brown sugar adds is lovely and suits the pumpkin well. Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut free Cinnamon Pumpkin Scones

2 C oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1 C brown rice flour

3/4 C + 1 T sorghum flour

1/2 C garbanzo bean flour

1 T cinnamon

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

1 C pumpkin puree (I use canned pumpkin)

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C cane sugar

1 T flax meal

1 C vanilla coconut milk (or whatever milk you like)

1/2 C sunflower oil (or whatever oil you like)

Add the flax meal to the milk and set aside. Add the dry ingredients up through the salt together and mix. Blend the sugar and oil in a separate bowl, then add the pumpkin. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the flax/milk combo to the wet ingredients and blend until just mixed, adding more milk if need be. Refrigerate the mixture for 3-8 hours (or overnight), then bake at 360 for 30 minutes on baking pans lined with parchment paper.

I hate to add a picture because the really are much tastier than they look, but here goes~

cinnamon pumpkin scones Oy. I better make some more so I can get some good pics of these little beauts. My boys certainly won’t mind another batch and the house smells divine for hours after they bake so it’ll be more than worth it.

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Redmond Market

Redmond Market Flowers

Aren’t these flowers just the prettiest? I got them at the Redmond Farmers Market last Saturday and they are still going strong in our front windows. These aren’t what I went to the Redmond Market intending to buy, but I couldn’t help myself, especially since they had such an inviting price ($5). The Redmond Market, located right next to the Redmond Town Center, is a Saturday tradition from May-October and the gluten-free options there are abundant. If you are hungry you can order a gluten-free crepe (made where the other crepes are so do be careful)at Anita’s crepes or enjoy a tamale just down the way at Hermosa Mexican Foods’ booth which is my son’s favorite thing about the market by far. Wildflour Gluten Free bakery has a booth there and when I get there early enough I buy two of their baguettes, but they sell out fast! Many of their items are dairy free but not all, and most have eggs in them, but all are gluten-free and there is a nice variety at her booth. It is delicious fun to buy a pint of fresh berries and sit down with a baguette and snack while watching some live music that rotates through there all summer. Another gluten-free bakery that has a booth there is Fancy Free bakery which touts a much longer list of ‘free-of’ ingredients~ no peanuts, eggs, dairy, etc, so pretty much anyone could find a treat there, and they will not be disappointed. I bought sourdough bread there and it is truly sour-ly awesome. I heard two other vendors discussing with near rapture the lemon bars they bought there but when I went to check them out myself I was too late…definitely getting to the market earlier next Saturday. There are of course plenty of produce farmers, jewelry makers, planted pots venders, much more there, but I personally adore the fact that there are so many gluten-free finds. I just wish it lasted all year-long, but I guess that just makes it all the more special. Now if only I could wake up and get going on Saturdays earlier to fully take advantage of it…Hm, maybe by August I’ll get that part down. At least I managed to get flowers last week. They are lovely.

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Gluten Free in Louisville, KY

Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann
Photo Credit: Ray Schuhmann

Part of the reason I haven’t written much lately has to do with a trip to see my family in Louisville, KY, which turned out to be a very easy place to visit with multiple food intolerances in our crew. The other reason is the sheer craziness of summer with two high-energy boys~ it takes some time to adjust from school year days to summer days and honestly, I’m still adjusting. But, here’s what you will find in Louisville if you head that way (maybe in May…?) It is the Derby City after all.

Annie May’s Sweet Café is a gluten and nut free place that also has a large selection of vegan items. We went there for lunch and immediately regretted having not gone earlier in the trip. My son thought their vegan cream of broccoli soup was ‘epic’ and three of us got sandwiches we very much enjoyed and I was the only one of the three who is even gluten intolerant. The desserts we ate were delicious~ mostly cookies with cream in the middle, some vegan and some not depending on the person. My sons and I had the vegan kind which were dipped in chocolate too and probably the most decadent thing I’ve had in years. I don’t know what the vegan cream was in the middle but it definitely tasted like the real thing and I did not ask because if I knew how to make those things I might never leave my kitchen again.

Just down the road is Bluegrass Burgers which advertises on its sign outside, “Gluten free buns and beers” but it isn’t just buns and beers actually because I asked about the veggie patty and the black bean patty (they have both!) and those were also gluten-free and vegan. They were nice and patient about my questions, something that can be hard to find at restaurants where the going trend is to hate on people with food intolerances. They were extremely friendly and their food was great but there is one warning, their fries are way too good. Seriously, if you don’t want to eat a ton of them, just say no because once you start it’s all over~ they are seasoned to perfection and more addictive than chocolate covered cashews. Highly recommend this place. (And chocolate covered cashews for that matter.)

And of course there’s pizza. There are several places that have gluten-free options, but we chose Blaze Pizza because they have vegan cheese, all the pizza pies are individual size, and they cook them quickly in a wood fire so there (theoretically) isn’t much wait time. I was impressed that when I ordered the gluten-free crusts and vegan cheeses that they asked me if they needed to change gloves when handling those pizzas. They knew what they were doing when it came to allergies and I felt quite safe feeding their food to my kids and eating it myself. We liked the taste but it kind of reminded me of Chuck E. Cheese pizza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, something about it was just similar…the thinner crust, snappier cheese, slightly sweet tomato sauce. But if that isn’t to your taste, there are plenty of other pizza places that have gluten-free crust options, such as Mellow Mushroom, Impellizzeris, Puccini’s, Uncle Maddio’s, and Cottage Inn Pizza, so basically wherever you are in Louisville you are never far from gluten-free crust.

Something else you are never far from in Louisville are natural foods stores, so in a pinch you can always find allergy free food at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, or shop local and visit Rainbow Blossom at one of their five locations.

A surprising amount of allergy-friendly food can be found at the most unusual place of all, and I say that mostly because the town’s name is Santa Claus but also because the amusement park there, Holiday World, is, well, an amusement park (and water park) which generally aren’t hubs of allergy free dining.

Photo credit: Santa's Little Helper
Photo credit: Santa’s Little Helper

This place is about 70 miles from Louisville and well worth the trip if you are traveling with kids or just like rides, water parks, and Christmas music in July. Just check out this list of allergy-free foods that you can get there and you’ll be adding Santa Claus, Indiana to your must-do list. The only thing I caution is to have the list handy with you before you go in to order because the people behind the counter weren’t always up-to-date on the offerings. There seemed to be one person in charge who handled the allergic folks and the rest of them waved her down to deal with us. That was fine with me, as long as there was one person dedicated to keeping us safe I was thoroughly impressed. We also had to wait extra time for the allergy free food so another caution is to go before your four-year old is in low-sugar-sunburnt-over-tired-and-hungry-tantrum-mode, but really it wasn’t too long of a wait, 15 minutes maybe. Of course 15 minutes with a hungry child is a lot longer than 15 minutes with just yourself to worry about, so you’ve been forewarned. But both my sons said the place was better than Disney Land, so check it out.

I’m sure there are plenty of other restaurants that accommodate gluten intolerant people but I just want to highlight one more because their menu is very clear with calling out gluten-free items, along with vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and whatever other kind of ~ian you want to call yourself, they’ve heard it all before. Ramsi’s Café will fill your worldly cravings when you’ve tried all the gluten-free pizza (impossible!) and eaten all the burgers on gluten-free buns that you can handle. Kids are welcome but if you are going to leave them behind for an evening out with your significant other, this is the place to go. When you are finished with dinner be sure to walk up and down Bardstown Road for some fun shopping and people watching, or grab a movie at the nearby Baxter Avenue Theaters. Enjoy!

 

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Seattle Gluten-Free bakery

The other day I had the rare opportunity to wake up in downtown Seattle and look around for a breakfast place. It happened to be mother’s day so it was busier than usual, but we found a place to sit and eat some breakfast foods, which honestly were nothing special. I didn’t mind the mediocre hash browns though because I had a mission for the day to find this gluten-free bakery near Pike Place Market that I had read about called Coffee & Specialty Bakery. It is a tiny little hole in the wall which we walked right by at first and we had to backtrack to find it. I’m so glad we did. It smelled like a real bakery in there and I bought the boys and myself croissants, something we haven’t had in ages. I didn’t ask if they were dairy free but they sure didn’t taste it, so I’m guessing they were made with butter, but it was worth every bite. I have no idea what flours they use but if I hadn’t known it was from a gluten-free bakery I would have sworn it was a traditional croissant. The reviews of the place speak a lot to the friendliness of the owners and it’s all true. If my sons had been with me I’m quite sure they would have been compelled to hug them because they were both so sweet and smiley. I’ll definitely be heading back there any time I am in Seattle from now on.

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Gluten-free Ramen

At this point in the year I’m pretty much souped out. Not eating it, just making it. So, I’m quite excited to have found this gluten-free ramen that takes all of 4 minutes to make and tastes seriously good. The one I like is by Lotus Foods and has a miso base and I’m pretty sure when my oldest tries it, he’s going to be hooked too because he loves miso, and noodles, and especially fast prep. Try it out yourself on a day when your missing dorm cooking, or more likely, just want some fast soup on a chilly Spring day:

gluten-free Ramen