gluten free

trending veggies / gluten free herbed buttermilk biscuits

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herbed buttermilk biscuit…gluten free, vegan & totally scrumptious
herbed buttermilk biscuit…gluten free, vegan & totally scrumptious

Kale is the preeminent hottie celeb in veggie land; a leafy, tall, barefaced beauty, loaded with chlorophyll (no botox needed here) and ready to kick some free radical ass. Poor broccoli has all but been forgotten, even though this cruciferous superfood is a cancer fighting cross fitter with stalks of muscle and a thick head of green bushy hair to boot. In fact, a friend of mine recently read an article about how broccoli producers are trying to formulate new marketing strategies to bring broccoli’s sexy back. Food trends are crazy, and now that I’m the the ripe old age of 30, I can reflect with a haughty chuckle, the numerous foods that have enjoyed their 10 seconds of fame, and have since faded to obscurity i.e agave nectar, acai berries, veggie dogs, and anything made by Kashi.

One trend, however, that’s here to stay, involves those foods lucky enough to bear a shiny label that reads “Gluten Free”. Like its good friend (and liar) “All Natural”, gluten free foods are the newest paved road to immortality and visions of unicorns (unless, like me, you already live with one). I nearly wept when my blood test results came back declaring an allergy to wheat, thus ostracizing me with scarlet “GF” letters, and throwing me into a breadless basket of wheat haters. I love bread. No, I don’t think you understand–like, really, LOVE bread. If I don’t start my day with a sprouted whole wheat onion & poppyseed bagel toasted with herbed cashew cream cheese, I feel as though my soul is being slowly sucked away by a dementor (if you don’t know what a dementor is, then we’ll never be friends, however, for the sake of sharing important information, a dementor is a creature from the Harry Potter series that sucks all the happiness from your body until you die).

I can’t do the green smoothie thing, or the granola thing, or the quinoa oatmeal thing, or the miso soup thing. Breakfast is about comfort, and in my opinion, the definition of comfort is a warm, toasted bagel that makes you want to spend the day in sweatpants on the couch with as many animals as you can fit.

The point is, I have a wheat allergy. The problem is, I love bread. The solution was obvious, but it took me awhile before I could embrace my new cooking journey i.e. purchase weirdo flours like sorghum, and weep while tossing out bags of sprouted whole wheat.

Behold the gluten free biscuit! This flaky, buttery vegan and gluten free miracle will restore your faith in breakfast. Try not to eat all 12 of them in one day. DSC_0018

Herbed Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

1 cup arrowroot starch

1/3 cup coconut flour

2/3 cup sorghum flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Handful of freshly chopped parsley or herbs of choosing

2 flax “eggs” (2 T ground flax seed + 6 T lukewarm water)

2/3 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup refined coconut oil, chilledDSC_0017

Preheat oven to 425. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, including herbs, and stir to combine. Mix the soymilk and vinegar in a separate bowl and allow to curdle for a few minutes to create your buttermilk. Meanwhile, whisk together flax “eggs” until gelatinous. Cut coconut oil into dry mixture using a fork, adding in teaspoon sized chunks until the 1/4 cup is fully used up and mixture is crumbly. Add “buttermilk” and flax “eggs” to mixture, and stir until ingredients are combined. Do not knead. Using your hands, spread dough out on to a clean surface until roughly 1 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make 12 circular biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 biscuits, or enough to feed a small herd of wheat hating unicorns. DSC_0025

concerning airplanes / fried green tomatoes

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DSC_0005This is basically what happens when I ride on an airplane.

First, I notice the smell – something along the lines of elementary school meets hospital: a stale bag of Cheez-It’s, finger crumpled magazines, and stagnant I-wish-I-were-anywhere-else humans melting into motley patterned, under cleaned seats. I sit down and remind myself that I don’t care about any of this, or the turbulence, or the fact that my life is in the hands of a random pilot who in my mind is the blow-up auto-pilot from Airplane!. When the plane turns on I feel like I’m in a motorized lawnmower; it feels shaky, loose, and completely unsafe. I think about the people who fix planes; I think about the giant bolts that hold these sheets of metal together; I think about engines and birds flying into engines. Luckily, I’m saved by the drink cart. I order a Budweiser and tell my husband that I’ve decided flying no longer bothers me one bit. He smiles with encouragement.

When we take off, I scan the plane for flight attendants. Firstly because they look like they’ve been teleported from a bygone era, and secondly because their wide smiling expressions of calm make me feel better. They do this all the time, I remember, like everyday. But then there’s turbulence. Now I know that it’s just pockets of differing air pressures and has nothing to do with the safety of the flight, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I know all that, but it still feels like a giant motorized steel tube with wings is dangling around at 35,000 feet, the auto-pilot just deflated, and a bird got sucked through the engine. I hear the ominous tone of the fasten-your-seat-belt sign and subsequent illumination of the alarming red florescent lights, and quickly finish my beer. Moment’s later, the elusive pilot restates the obvious: “Hello folks. Looks like we’re hitting a little patch of turbulence, but it’s nothing to worry about. Please remain seated and enjoy the flight”. I instantly think of a doctor with a giant needle saying, “this might pinch a little, but stay still and it will be over before you know it”. I feel like an idiot, like a lemming following another lemming off the side of a cliff because he told me it would, “only hurt for a second and then be over”.

The muffled clip-clop of red pumps over worn-out blue carpet lurches me back from my rambling conscience. “Chicken or fish?” she asks. I tell her I requested the vegan meal. She purses her lipstick smeared mouth and asks another flight attendant for help. The dreaded vegan meal always throws them for a loop. I never expect to get one, but I always ask, in the very least because it distracts me from the image of myself soaring through the atmosphere in a motorized steel tube with wings and faulty bolts. I end up with a pasta primavera of sorts, glued together with cheese.

Now that you never want to fly ever again, why not stay at home at fry up some delicious fried green tomatoes? My garden is bursting with hard, green tomatoes and since I don’t feel like waiting for them to ripen, fried green tomatoes are the perfect solution! Chickpea flour and brown rice flour provide the breading, while a buttermilk inspired nutmilk mixture help it all stick together.

DSC_0007Fried Green Tomatoes

3 unripe, green tomatoes

For the flour mixture:

1⁄2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1⁄2 cup brown rice flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

Large pinch of each: paprika & cayenne pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Black pepper to taste

For the “buttermilk”:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

For frying:

1⁄2 cup refined coconut oil

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Combine flour mixture in a small bowl. In another bowl, add soymilk, apple cider vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk until somewhat emulsified. Cut tomatoes in 1⁄4 inch slices and dredge one at a time, first in the flour mixture, then in the soymilk mixture, and once more in the flour. Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron sauté pan over a medium-high flame. Test the oil with a small pinch of flour; if it bubbles, the oil is ready. Carefully place dredged tomato slices in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove fried tomatoes from the pan and lay on some paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve hot with Dijon mustard or with a vegan tartar sauce. Makes about 12-15 fried green tomatoes, depending on how big the tomatoes are, or enough to feed 5 unicorns with aviatophobia.DSC_0010

what you actually need in your kitchen / rawesome sour cream

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DSC_0032When I see dust-laden piles of paper on a desk, random crap pushed into dark corners, or tchotchkes lining a window sill, a feverish desire overcomes me. My pupils dilate, my heart whooshes blood into my eager hands, and I try my best to suppress the urge to tear through it all. Because this typically occurs in other people’s homes…and you can’t just reorganize someone else’s stuff. That would be weird. In my own space, however, I can sort and clean until I fall into a heap on the couch after deciding what to do with my old textbooks. And I can donate knick knacks with maniacal glee. Translation: miniature statues of animals, crocheted pillows with written sentiments, headlamps (really…), stationary with my name etched across in whimsical floral-accented cursive, geodes and other earthen matter, ill fitting too small clothing, key chains or lanyards, and scrub brushes painted to resemble creepy clown-faced women. I do have my fair share of bric-a-brac (aka unicorns of various shapes and sizes, perhaps a wooden cat, and yes, a faery with wire wings), but I arrange these items with an eye for minimalism, and the same holds true for my kitchen…

When you get married, you are allowed to sign up for a registry, and with this right bubbles up an insane need for useless items…because you can, and because your mother said “every wife should have one of these _____(enter unnecessary item here). Translation: a molcajete (because a regular old mixing bowl just ain’t good enough), overpriced formal china (for all those 12 person dinner parties that you never have), silver flatware (because the advent of no need to polish stainless steel is an insult to grandmothers everywhere), 12 piece knife block set (because you need 12 different knives to chop an onion), a tortilla warmer (just.stop.now.), a slate cheese board (negative. and you should stop eating cheese anyway), and a rooster shaped timer (this is also a tchotchke).

So, to help brides and grooms to be with their kitchen registries, and in fact, to anyone wanting advice on what to put in their kitchen, I have compiled a list of necessary items here.

Now that you’re armed with the tools to make you a kick-ass vegan chef, why not wow your friends with rawesome sour cream? Serve with chips and salsa for a Mexican-inspired taste explosion without the nasty dairy.

DSC_0034Rawesome Sour Cream 

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour or overnight

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon onion powder

1-2 shakes of garlic powder

Large pinch of sea salt

Enough fresh water to facilitate blending (less than 1/4 cup)

Drain soaked cashews and rinse with cold water. Add them to your blender along with all of the other ingredients. Start on low variable speed and increase to high, pureeing until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Chill in refrigerator before eating. Serve with chips (I highly recommend these) or add to tacos, burritos, or anything else calling for sour cream. Makes enough for 4 unicorns celebrating cinco de mayo with their molcajete and tortilla warmer. DSC_0031

babies! / baby spinach salad with creamy cashew dill dressing

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DSC_0227Now I will talk about something that I have no business talking about: babies! The reason I don’t? Well, I don’t have a child myself, nor am I expecting one, but they’re an ever increasing familiarity in my life these days. At first, I’ll admit, babies used to scare me. Translation: they are impossibly small, warm, and they smell differently, not to mention they are mostly hairless and may cry out, poop or cry at any given moment; none of which I am equipped to prevent or stop. How is that not terrifying? But lately I have been channeling my inner, mature adult self, urging her to claim bravery in the face of the small human child. I am even brave enough to say that I want my own little hairless being, but it still makes me uneasy to even utter the words. Why? I have no idea, considering that, let’s be honest, our only real purpose on this little planet is to reproduce and secure our continuing existence and domination over other beings, especially furry ones. In fact, when I begin to mull this over I can’t believe how separated we have become from our instinctual natures and basic needs and wants. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you because all you really want to know is how to make this kick ass recipe for spinach salad with creamy dressing, right?

But before I do, I need to clarify why the word “baby” even popped into my head. A brilliant and talented friend of mine recently started a farm-to-table style gourmet baby food company in Boston called Lovage (that’s an herb if you didn’t know). Her yummy blends are artfully simple and packed full of the natural brilliance of vegetables and fruits – no alterations required to be nutritional powerhouses for your small furless one. If you live in Boston or the Boston area, be sure to check out her company! Feed your baby locally sourced and locally made fresh food! Hooray! You will also find my recipe for spinach and pear salad with cashew dill dressing on her monthly newsletter, along with everything to do with preparing for and raising an eco baby, just the way mother nature intended.

DSC_0233Baby Spinach Salad with Creamy Cashew Dill Dressing

For the salad:

5 handfuls of baby spinach

3 radishes, ends removed & chopped

1 avocado, pitted & chopped

1 pear, cored & sliced

1 handful of raw walnuts, toasted

Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt to taste

For the dressing:

1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked overnight or for at least an hour

½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 T raw coconut nectar or unrefined sweetener of choice

1 small clove of peeled garlic

2 tsp onion powder

1 small handful of fresh dill

Large pinch of sea salt

Drain and rinse soaked cashews under cold water. In a high speed blender, add all dressing ingredients. Puree on high until velvety smooth. To toast walnuts, crumble them in your hand and toss in a dry skillet over a low flame. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. To assemble dish, toss salad ingredients with dressing and top with toasted walnuts. Makes enough salad for 2-4 furry unicorn babes.

Tip: use extra dressing as a dip for crudité or as a delicious spread on toasted bread and sandwiches!DSC_0223

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dreaming of bagels / warm lentil salad with mint & parsley vinaigrette

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DSC_0219So I recently found out that I have a wheat allergy. My initial reaction was calm and something along the lines of: %#*&$@#?!, immediately followed by an intense craving for bagels and beer. Look, I’ve been vegan for over ten years, and have found it to be the easiest, best decision of my life (besides marrying my husband and adopting the most amazing creature in the world, Toast). But giving up wheat? Not easy. I love carbs, and have always defended them when naysayers put them down as being fattening and bad for you. Granted, I am talking about sprouted whole grains here, but still, wheat has always been a big part of my life. And I was happy with that.

To rewind a bit, I went to a new naturopath and he ordered a lot of bloodwork. Translation: 12 tubes of blood drained from my body…even the evil nurse who pricked me with the giant needle was taken aback by the order, and said “oh my god this is so much blood!” I looked away and tried to keep my rubber-tubed left arm straight while staring hard at some sickeningly sweet print of a bunch of roses. God I hate hospital art. It’s like they think they can brainwash you into thinking that you’re actually having a good time, surrounded by soft, pretty things like flowers and puppies. I’d rather see a print of a medieval hospital dismembering patients without anesthesia…at least then I could feel lucky about my situation.

Interestingly, I do not have Celiac Disease, just a plain old wheat allergy. What does that mean? It means I can eat rye, oats, and other things that gluten free people can’t. So there. I thought this would make me feel better, but it totally doesn’t. However, on the bright side, I will now be dedicating myself to creating the greatest and healthiest wheat free bread in the world. That post will come soon, I hope. In the meantime, my unicorn friends will be scarfing down sprouted whole grain bagels while I cry myself to sleep.

Now that you’ve found out that you can’t eat wheat, why not gorge on some high protein, springtime dishes? This lentil salad is bursting with flavor, and features a beautiful spring vegetable that makes your pee smell like roses. Poor asparagus gets a bad rap, but this smelly veggie is bursting with folic acid, antioxidants, fiber, and B vitamins!

DSC_0211Warm Lentil Asparagus Salad with Mint & Parsley Vinaigrette 

1 cup french or black lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 bunch fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off

1 cup chopped red radishes

1/4 cup diced red onion

Sea salt & pepper to taste

For the dressing:

Handful of fresh mint

Handful of fresh parsley

2 T red wine vinegar

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp sweetener such as coconut nectar or raw agave

1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 handfuls of arugula or spinach

DSC_0217Bring lentils and 3 cups or so of water to a boil, then simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, or until al dente. Do not overcook the lentils or your salad will be mushy! For the salad, blanch asparagus in a saute pan filled with salted, gently boiling water for 1 minute. Shock in an ice bath to keep crisp, or just run under very cold water. Set aside. Toss dressing ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture comes together, but still has texture. To serve, dress lentils, radish and red onion with vinaigrette and lay asparagus shoots over top. Makes enough for 2-4 unicorns with spring fever.

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