Friday, February 13, 2015

Balsamic Vegetable Salad

Tonight I'm having a real sandwich for dinner. It feels like Christmas Eve- I'm so excited! The only bread I've had in almost two months is whole wheat lavash, and boy do I miss bread. I found a boule roll at Trader Joe's that's made of just whole wheat flour, water, and sea salt. I was practically dancing in the store today while reading the label. Hey- I can eat that!

I'm making this fantastic slow cooker roasted turkey recipe by Kelsey Nixon (I've made it at least 10 times since I found it about a year ago,) for turkey dip sandwiches.  I usually sauté a sliced onion and a package of sliced mushrooms with a little salt and pepper, and top the sandwiches with the mixture  instead of using cheese. It's one easy recipe and makes tender, flavorful turkey and a fantastic au jus.

I wanted to come up with a side dish to serve with the sandwiches that would follow my diet of no dairy, processed sugar or flour. I thought, why not a pasta type salad (my favorite) but without the pasta? Essentially a chopped vegetable salad with a tangy homemade balsamic dressing? I'm in.

Recipe Tips:
- Make sure you make the salad a couple of hours ahead of when you want to serve it. It really needs to sit in the refrigerator for a bit to let the flavors meld together.
- Some fantastic additions would be chopped avocado, cooked chicken or diced salami. Heck, add some cubes of your favorite cheese if you can have it.

Balsamic Vegetable Salad
Serves 4

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp agave sweetener
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried Mediterranean oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Vegetable Salad:
1 cucumber, diced into 1" chunks
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced small
1 small jar artichoke hearts, cut into pieces
3/4 cup whole, pitted kalamata or black olives, sliced in half
1 small container mini heirloom tomatoes (about 2 cups,) sliced in half
2 large pieces of roasted red pepper (Trader Joe's,) diced

- Combine and whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and set aside
- Place all vegetable salad ingredients in an airtight container and toss with the dressing
- Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving

Dairy free recipe!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Within the past few months, quinoa has gone from a food I hadn't tried to a food I love! It not only tastes great, it's a great protein source with a whopping 24 grams in a one-cup serving. It's a little nutty, but takes on basically any flavor you add to it (much like tofu.) It's also a little like a tiny pasta in texture, and who doesn't like pasta?

This recipe was adapted from one I found on They had me at one pan prep. The first go around I made the recipe exactly as they had it and it was too bland for me, along with being too dry. A trick I've learned is when cooking quinoa or rice, you need double the liquid to the grain. Not draining the tomatoes, along with the amount of vegetable broth in my adaption of the recipe, is the perfect amount of liquid to cook the quinoa optimally. For my second try, I upped and changed up the spices, added some sweet onion and green chilies, and increased the amount of vegetable broth. Big thumbs up!

This salad is great hot or cold, and is extremely tasty as leftovers. It's delicious by itself, or topped with a little avocado, sour cream, and cilantro. It's also amazing as a dip with some baked tortilla chips.

Mexican Quinoa Salad
Adapted from
Serves 4-6

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup rinsed quinoa
1 15 oz can of no-salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8 oz can green chilies, diced
1 15 oz can no-salt added fire roasted tomatoes (not drained)
1 cup frozen Trader Joe's grilled corn
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Kosher salt
Freshly ground cracked black pepper

Topping Ideas:
Better Than Sour Cream
Guacamole or sliced avocado
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Tapatio sauce
Baked blue corn tortilla chips

- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the onion, garlic and jalapeño pepper
- Sauté the onion, garlic and pepper for a few minutes
- Add in the broth, quinoa, black beans, green chilies, tomatoes, grilled corn, cumin, and coriander
- Stir well and season with kosher salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil, then stir and reduce heat to simmer
- Cover the pan, and simmer the mixture for about 30 minutes (mine took 35,) or until the quinoa is cooked and the liquid is evaporated (just like when you make rice)
- Fluff with a fork and serve while hot, or refrigerate to serve as a cold salad
- Garnish with whatever you'd like- I have some suggestions above

Dairy free recipe!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Smoky BBQ Three Bean Chili

Chili is a staple around here, and one of my favorite foods to make. One batch made on a Sunday will last all week for lunches. It's an easy way to incorporate a lot of veggies and beans without using meat, and even tastes better the next day or the next..

This smoky bbq bean chili is complex in flavor. First a little sweet from the tomatoes and peppers, then smoky bbq flavor from the smoked paprika and bbq sauce, then the at first subtle heat hits you. Not too hot, but enough to make you reach for the tissues. This particular recipe is a snap to put together. Let the chili sauté for a good hour to meld the flavors.

I've tried MANY bbq sauces. I prefer to make my own, but my favorite store-bought sauce is Hak's. It's a little pricier than some of the more common brands, but the complex flavors (without tasting preservative-laden) are well worth the extra money. I think they're local and kind of new, but from what I've heard from people who have tried them, I'm expecting the company to grow and expand their availability.

Smoky BBQ Three Bean Chili
Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 can white kidney beans (Canellini), rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 carton (4 cups) unsalted vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup frozen grilled corn (can be found at Trader Joe's)
2 Tbsp Hak's Chipotle Bourbon bbq sauce
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp Mas Harina (Corn Meal)
2 Tbsp water

Dairy-free sour cream
Fresh pico de gallo
Thinly sliced fresh avocado
Fresh chopped cilantro

- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat
- Add in the olive oil
- Saute onion, garlic, red and orange peppers for about 5 minutes until onion softens
- Add in chili powder, chipotle chili powder, pepper flakes, Mexican oregano, and smoked paprika and continue to sauté to bloom the spices- about 2 minutes
- Add pinto beans, white kidney beans, black beans, vegetable broth, water, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste and stir carefully
-Stir in grilled corn and bbq sauce and season with salt/pepper to taste
- Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour
- The last half-hour, mix the Mas Harina and water in a little cup and stir it into the chili. This will thicken it (so it won't be like soup). It will continue to thicken- don't add more, it's plenty.

This chili is great topped with Tofutti Better than Sour Cream dairy-free sour cream, fresh pico de gallo, sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro

Dairy-free recipe and vegetarian

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chocolate, Nuts, and Medjool Date Bars

I'm not one to call something something it's not. These are a play on brownies, but they are not brownies. What these bars are, though, are a very chocolaty, healthy, and sweet raw treat. Kind of like a chocolate Lara Bar.

I hadn't tried dates until this #MyHealthyNewYear challenge. I'm not a big fan of figs, and thought they were pretty much the same thing. Boy, was I wrong. Medjool dates in particular are spectacularly sweet and have a caramel undertone. They make a great sweetener for baked goods, and help give a batter some texture.

Fair warning- I did almost burn up my little food processor making these bars as it takes a bit of time and processor effort to chop up the sticky dates into small enough pieces. Purchasing a full-sized processor is now high up on my list.

I've missed bread and chocolate most on this journey. I looked over many gluten-free brownie recipes on Pinterest, and they all seemed complicated. Blend chickpea powder, use melted coconut oil.. I wanted to make an easy, no-bake chocolate bar. I kept it simple, and this tasty bar is the result.

Chocolate, Nuts, and Medjool Date Bars
Makes 12 bars

1 package Medjool dates (1 1/2 cups), seeded
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsalted nuts of your choice (I used what I had left of almonds, walnuts, and cashews)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life) (optional)

- Place nuts and salt in a large food processor and pulse until the nuts are very small
- Add in the cocoa powder and pulse until combined
- Add in the dates (a few at a time) and process until also small and the dough starts to come together
- If the dough is too dry, add a few more dates
- Turn the dough out onto an 9x9x2 glass dish lined with parchment paper
- Press dough down evenly and firmly with the palm of your hand
- Press chocolate chips into the dough, or dust with cocoa powder (optional)
- Cover the dish with SaranWrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour before you cut into bars

Dairy and gluten free recipe!

FieldRoast Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Vegetables and Citrus Jalapeño Vinaigrette

I think in the past month I've tried just about every brand and flavor of alternative meat products. I can tell you without hesitation that FieldRoast is my favorite brand. Their grain sausages not only look like the real thing, they taste like it too. I've used them in recipes where meat is called for- sliced and seared like sausage, and crumbled up and sautéed like ground beef in tacos. It's great! Rich really likes their spicy Chipotle flavor, and this roasted vegetable recipe is a favorite of his.

I've found FieldRoast brand products at Whole Foods and Sprouts.

I both roasted and sautéed vegetables for this recipe. I like the char and crunch of roasted potatoes, but also like the sweetness of sautéed onions and peppers. If you wanted to save some time, you could just roast all of the vegetables listed in the recipe, and then add them to the sautéed sausage.

The vinaigrette was something I whipped up as a dressing for Rich's lunch salad. It was so good, spicy and citrusy, I thought a little of it would make a great finish to this sausage dish. Spot on!

FieldRoast Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Vegetables and Citrus Jalapeño Vinaigrette
Serves 4

Citrus Jalapeno Vinaigrette:
- You'll use 1/4 cup of this. The rest you can refrigerate and use as a marinade or salad dressing.
2 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 orange
Zest from 1/2 the orange
Juice from 1 lime
Zest from 1/2 the lime
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

- Whisk all ingredients in a bowl
- Cover and store vinaigrette in the refrigerator

Roasted Vegetables:
1 red onion, cut into rings
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 1/2" cubes
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (I use roast setting)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to coat
- Spread vegetables out on the baking sheet in an even layer
- Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and just start to char

Sausage/ Sauteed Vegetables:
2 links FieldRoast Chipotle sausage, casings removed, and sausages sliced into 1" rounds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, cut into rings
1 red bell pepper, seeded, and sliced into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

- Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat
- Add olive oil and heat
- Add sausage rounds and sauté for a few minutes on each side (It's already cooked, so you just want to sear it and heat it through)
- Remove sausage to a plate and set aside
- Add the onion and peppers, salt and pepper to the hot pan and salute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes
- Add roasted vegetables and sausage back to the pan and heat through, 3-4 minutes
- Add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette to the pan, and stir until evenly coated

Dairy and gluten free recipe!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Red Lentil Curry with Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Garbanzo Beans

I know, this name is a mouthful. The crispy garbanzo beans are so good, I wanted to be sure they made it into the title.

Come to find out, I love lentils! I don't think I've had them much in the past, and the two recipes I've made with them have been phenomenal. Two of my favorites, vegetarian or not.

This is a very loosely based red curry. I scoured the internet for the flavor profile of a red curry and took liberty with it. I utilized what I had in the fridge and pantry, including using a chili garlic sauce (from the same company as Sriracha) instead of red curry paste, and was very pleasantly surprised that it was SO delicious! Layers of layers of flavors in this curry- first tomato and sweet, then the flavor of the spices, then the heat of the chili paste kicks in and warms your mouth. Every bite is a little different, and the roasted sweet potato and crispy garbanzo beans on top add a nice contrast to the curry.

This recipe isn't as complicated as it looks. Have everything out and measured up (mis en place) and it will come together easily for you. Roast the sweet potatoes and chickpeas on separate pans at the same time while you start the curry, and it will all be done and come together at the same time.

I took the photo of the bowl the next morning in the natural light, and it looks like the curry thickens up a bit overnight. If you want to thin it out for leftovers, just heat it up with a little more vegetable stock/broth. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Curry with Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Garbanzo Beans
Inspired by a recipe by
Serves 6

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery ribs, sliced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp each of smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala, and turmeric
1 tsp each of ground cinnamon and red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp red chili paste (picture above) or Thai red curry paste
12 oz dried red lentils
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used Trader Joe's)
4 cups vegetable stock/broth or water or combo of the two
1 15oz can coconut milk
* 1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Fresh cilantro
Quartered lime slices
Your favorite rice (I use Trader Joe's Sprouted Jasmine rice)

- In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat
- Add in the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent
- Add in the spices, and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes
- Add in tomatoes, chili paste, and lentils, and sauté for a minute  * You can add 1 Tbsp of sugar during this step as well if you like a sweeter curry.
- Add in vegetable stock/broth or water and bring to a gentle boil
- Reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender
- Add in coconut milk and soy sauce and continue to simmer another 10 minutes or so
- Adjust seasoning if needed

Serve the curry in a bowl over rice, then top each serving with some roasted sweet potato, some of the crispy garbanzo beans, some fresh cilantro, and a little wedge of lime.

I'm not eating sugar, but you can add 1 Tbsp of sugar with the tomato step to make a little sweeter curry.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Garbanzo Beans

Preheat oven to 425 (roasting setting if you have it) degrees

- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside

Sweet Potato 
- Peel and cut a large sweet potato into 1" cubes
- Spread cubes out on one of the baking sheets and sprinkle with about 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, a pinch of kosher salt and a little cracked black pepper
- Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over the potato cubes

Crispy Garbanzo Beans
- Drain and rinse 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (I use no salt added). Pat dry with paper towels
- Spread out beans on 2nd baking sheet
- Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and the juice of 1/2 a lime
- Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over the beans

- Roast both baking sheets for 20 minutes, shaking the trays after 10 minutes.
- Both the sweet potato (because it's cut so small) and the beans were done at 20 minutes. Leave one or both in a little longer if the potatoes aren't fork tender, or the garbanzo beans aren't crispy.

Dairy and Gluten Free!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spicy Lentil and Portabello Soup

I haven't had processed sugar, processed flour, dairy, or meat in two weeks. It's been one of the hardest things to do, and also I've never felt better. I no longer have any GI symptoms, I have more energy during the day, am sleeping better at night, and have had no migraines.

I honestly went into this thinking I would cut out these foods for 30 days, then start adding back in some meat like chicken, maybe some dairy... However, I'm feeling so good, I'm going to stick with it.

The challenge I've found isn't with what I eat, but what to put on the blog. I've struggled with this for the whole couple of weeks, and then it dawned on me. I'm working so hard to find interesting vegetarian and dairy free recipes, scouring cookbooks and the internet, that I've come to realize there's a need for more of these recipes. If I can share with you really tasty recipes (they have to be or I won't post them) that also fit my dietary needs, I think you may also appreciate them.

This Spicy Lentil and Portabello Soup was inspired by another recipe from The Yellow Table cookbook. I've made a lot of changes to the original recipe, but wanted to be sure to give Anna a nod for inspiring me.

This soup, as the name implies, is spicy and absolutely delicious. It's thick and almost stew-like and is great in a bowl by itself, or over a baked potato. If you know me, you know I never need an excuse to eat potatoes. My husband absolutely loves this soup, and declared it the best I've made to date. This soup will definitely be in regular rotation, and I need to stock up on lentils.

The biggest challenge I've found with our eating plan is making sure we eat enough protein in a day. At first it seemed impossible without eating meat or dairy, but come to find out lentils are a fantastic source of protein. They have a whopping 18mg of protein in each cupful!

Recipe Tip:
- When making soup (or just cooking in general), I look for as low of sodium products as possible. For instance, I used Hunts no-salt added diced tomatoes which has 5 mg of sodium per serving. Other diced tomatoes I looked at had an average of 40 mg of sodium per serving. You can always add salt to a recipe, but you can't take it out easily.

Spicy Lentil and Portabello Soup
Serves 6-8

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 pkg (about 2 cups) sliced baby Portabello mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried Mediterranean oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 15 oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes (I used Italian flavored)
10 oz lentils (I used red lentils)
Kosher salt
Cracked fresh black pepper
Juice from 1/2 lemon
6 cups no-salt added vegetable stock or broth

- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan
- Add the carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes
- Add garlic and seasonings (coriander, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and red pepper flakes) and continuously stir another minute or so until you smell the spices
- Adjust seasoning with kosher salt and/or cracked pepper
- Add in the can of tomatoes (with juice), vegetable stock or broth, and the lentils
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender
- This soup can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge. It's one of those that tastes great right away, and even better the next day. It also freezes beautifully.

Dairy free and gluten free recipe!