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Enjoy Aleia’s Gluten Free Stuffing at Your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some kind of stuffing at the table. I always loved traditional made-from-scratch stuffing growing up. When I began my gluten free diet in 2009 we started experimenting with different kinds of stuffing—wild rice with craisins and walnuts, brown rice with apples and pecans, paleo-style stuffing with sausage, vegetables and dried cranberries— but nothing ever satisfied my desire for “real stuffing”.

We never ate ready-made stuffing so I never thought to find a gluten free variety. Until now that is.Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 10.04.56 AM

Located in Branford, Connecticut, Aleia’s Gluten Free Foods is a team of culinary trained chefs who handcraft and market a delicious line of all natural, CSA (Celiac Sprue Association) approved, and Kosher Certified, gluten free foods, which includes bread, croutons, stuffing mixes, bread crumbs, panko, and eight unique artisan cookies.

The kind folks over at Aleia’s were so kind to send me some of their savory stuffing mix to sample.IMG_5413

Aleia’s gluten free savory stuffing is perfectly seasoned with a balanced blend of herbs and spices. You will want to serve it as a side dish year round! It is flavorful, aromatic, and incredibly delicious! It reminds me of the stuffing I ate as a little girl.IMG_5438

In addition to the savory stuffing mix, Aleia’s also makes a plain stuffing mix. Both stuffing mixes are gluten free, soy free, and Kosher. IMG_5436

Savory Stuffing Recipe  

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 bag (12oz) Aleia’s Gluten Free Savory Stuffing
1/2 onion medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 ribs celery medium dice (about 1 cup)
1 large carrot medium dice (about 1/2 cup)* I recommend using 1 cup
6 tablespoons of butter
2 cups gluten free low salt chicken stock

Directions for oven baked stuffing:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large skillet pan, medium heat, melt butter; add onions, celery and carrots. Sautè until vegetables are tender.
3. Add stock, bring to a boil then remove the pan from the heat.
4. Place stuffing mix into a large bowl, pour mixture from pan over stuffing. Toss lightly until well mixed.
5. Spoon the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until hot. For a crispy top, remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.

Variations: Sausage & Mushroom stuffing: add 1 cup sliced mushrooms to the vegetables during cooking. Stir ½ pound cooked and crumbled GF sausage into the mixture.IMG_5439

Aleia’s Gluten Free has a line of eighteen all natural, gluten free products that are available in over 3,000 grocery stores and distributed from coast to coast. Aleia’s products are available at Whole Foods, Hannaford, Roche Bros, and local Health Food Stores. To find a location near you click here.

Two days after I made this stuffing, my mom called me from the grocery store to ask if I had heard of a company called Aleia’s. While she was at Hannaford’s looking for gluten free stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal, the grocer recommended she try this new line they just started carrying. True story.

 


Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Our Gluten Free Cooking Lesson with Kitchensurfing & 25% off code

Kitchensurfing brings a chef into your kitchen for parties, lessons, and so much more.Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 9.34.17 AM

Kitchensurfing (KS) is a marketplace for chefs of all kinds. From hobby chefs to Michelin chefs, you can browse the chefs on the site, view their sample menus, read their reviews, and book any of them. From private cooking lessons in your home, to meal deliveries, to a private dinner party for two or thirty-two, KS allows you to ‘shop’ around based on your own needs, wants, budget, and diet.

Last month Jeremy and I had a wonderful, restaurant-quality, 4-course meal with Chef Chris Hallahan. We were blown away not only by his culinary talents, but also by his passion for food and locally sourced ingredients. He was friendly and engaging, and answered all our questions. You can read all about our first KS experience here.

The whole experience was so wonderful that I decided to use KS again, but this time I wanted a cooking lesson.

After browsing a few profiles and menus to see who would be a good fit for a gluten free, dairy free cooking lesson we chose Michelle Lahey. Michelle is a Boston based personal chef and I love her blog, The Economical Eater, so I was thrilled when she replied to my request for a cooking lesson for my sister and I!

The Menu for our cooking demonstration:

Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers with Vegan Tzatziki
Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Roasted Butternut Squash
Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BarsIMG_5677

Services Included

  • Ingredients
  • Cleaning
  • Transport

Michelle’s food was fantastic. She was engaging, super friendly, and really easy to talk to. She was really knowledgeable about vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free food, such a relief!

Michelle’s menu incorporated fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.IMG_5652

I really like Brussels sprouts but have never cooked them myself, so I was eager to learn to do this once and for all. And it’s much easier than I thought!

Our previous attempts at making veggie burgers have all failed. Michelle’s recipe for Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers was easy to follow and can easily be swapped with different types of beans and spices. We loved the Middle Eastern spices and flavor combinations in this burger.IMG_5649The vegan tzatziki was also easy to make and paired perfectly with the burgers. This is something I plan on making again. Since going dairy free I hadn’t eaten tzatziki. I was surprised with the simplicity of the recipe. Michelle used So Delicious almond based yogurt and also recommended coconut yogurt was well. I haven’t been able to find plain coconut yogurt so I just bought the almond yogurt when I made it.IMG_5679The pumpkin chocolate chip dessert bars were to die for.  My sister and I felt like we had died and gone to heave. The secret ingredient— garam masala—gave the bars an unbelievable flavor. They were absolutely incredible. And lucky for us she left us her recipe so we can make them again and again! The recipe is also available on her blog.IMG_5680

Not only did Michelle show us how to prepare the food, each step of the way she explained what we were doing with all the ingredients and how each one contributed to and played a role in the dish.IMG_5659

We enjoyed learning new recipes that we can now add to our repertoire. I like that Michelle focused on healthy, fresh, and seasonal ingredients. We liked everything about this meal and we felt good eating it.IMG_5677

Click here for a 25% off coupon for your next Kitchensurfing booking! This code is valid through Dec. 31 (you don’t have to have your meal prior to the 31, it just has to be booked by that date). This code can be used on any KS service.

Disclaimer: I received this service free of charge to review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole made with Allens Italian Green Beans

Screen shot 2013-11-20 at 10.33.46 AMPreparing your Favorite Holiday Traditions with Vegetables
A Quick and Easy Guide to Holiday Cooking with Delicious Green beans

When the thought of the holidays comes to mind, many people immediately jump to gifts, decorations, and shopping. But what brings most people together is a holiday feast with family and friends. More than 80% of Americans use canned vegetables to help prepare meals around the holiday season. The average number of canned food items used each week is five; just imagine how many are used to make a holiday meal. Eight in 10 Americans don’t go a week without cooking with canned vegetables. In an effort to help Americans eat better, and healthier, the key is to keep a variety of new flavors alive in each dish prepared for your table.

The American consumer is ever changing, and eating healthy is at the top of their shopping list. Especially when a new diet plan is lingering in the minds of consumers fearful of gaining weight. As a result of the calorie-loaded dinner dishes and sugary desserts of the holiday season; it is assumed the average person gains between five and 10 pounds during the holidays. Brands like Allens are leading the way to feeding the world through great-tasting, affordable, and high-quality vegetable recipes like an Italian Green Bean Casserole that never leaves you with a guilty feeling, even after that second helping.

Americans continue to enjoy the endless benefits of canned goods packed at the peak of freshness. But around the holidays, staying true to family traditions is important, especially at the dinner table. One way it to use healthy ingredients like canned vegetables packed with nutritious vitamins, minerals, and fiber needed to promote good health, without substituting the tradition behind the recipes. Being a family-owned business, Allens is committed to providing families with the freshest vegetables and staying true to family traditions for generations to come.AllensItalianGreenBeans[1]

“Maintaining a sense of family, especially around the holidays, is an important asset for everyone at Allens,” said David Brown, Vice President of Retail Sales for Allens. “We all agree that food is one of the things that bring us together. That’s why we make it a priority to provide our consumers with the freshest, best quality vegetables possible.”

It is likely most Americans will keep true to their traditional holiday meals, but they are beginning to think bigger about nutrition and the ingredients they use. Allens Italian Green Bean Casserole is a dish that makes an appearance on most holiday tables, with savory green beans in a creamy casserole that’s topped with crunchy French fried onions. But the traditional recipe is not gluten free, so I’ve adapted Allen’s recipe so everyone at this years holiday meal can enjoy it.

Gluten Free Italian Green Bean Casserole

Preparation and Cooking Time:
45 minutes

Ingredients
1 10.75 oz. can Condensed cream of mushroom soup (low fat or fat free can be used; Pacific Foods and Health Valley are gluten free, or make your own)
1/2 cup Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Gluten Free Soy sauce
Pepper to taste
2 14.5 oz. cans Allens Cut Italian Green Beans
1 1/3 cups fried onions

Directions:

For the onions
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons white rice flour
1 medium onion, sliced into thin strips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, combine cornstarch and white rice flour. Add onions and mix to coat evenly. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Fry onions until golden brown and crispy. You may want to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan because you don’t want to crowd the pan while frying. Remove onions from oil using a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.

In a 1 1/2-quart casserole, mix together soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, Italian green beans and 2/3 cup onions. Bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through. Stir, and then sprinkle remaining onions on top. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until onions are golden.

A perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday dinners!

Allens offers a wide variety of canned vegetables that are fresh and healthy for each consumer, making it possible for there to be something for everyone to enjoy. To learn more about or find holiday recipes for your table, like the ones below, visit Allens.com, Facebook.com/AllensVeggies or Pinterest.com/AllensVeggies.

Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Please take my Gluten Free Dining Out Survey. and help me collect data for research for a future blog post! Thank you & happy Friday!
Click here to take survey

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Gluten Free Classes at The Boston Center for Adult Education

The Boston Center for Adult Education is the oldest nonprofit adult education center in New England. Founded in 1933, it quickly established itself as a cultural stomping ground where individuals could learn, discuss, create, and enjoy themselves.

Now, almost 80 years later, the BCAE continues its role as Greater Boston’s leading provider of adult education, offering nearly 2,000 classes each year.

The BCAE is working to increase their gluten free class offerings and are excited to have holiday specific classes for the winter term. They’ve added many new gluten free classes to its class offerings (see below), and I was lucky enough to attend the Gluten Free Holiday Sides class this past Sunday. The class was taught by Mary Greenfield, a classically trained personal chef and nutrition coach with experience in many dietary approaches, including: paleo/primal, Whole30, WAPF, raw vegan, cooked vegan/vegetarian, SCD, GAPS, and the best gluten free home cookin’ you’ve ever had!IMG_5634

During this class we learned how to make 4 sides dishes that can accompany our Thanksgiving turkey, holiday potluck or even be eaten as a vegetarian main dish. All dishes are adaptable for any allergies you or your guests might have. This is a great class for someone who is new to a gluten free diet or for someone who is looking for new dishes and techniques to add to their repertoire.IMG_5636

Mary was a great instructor; she was enthusiastic and it is very clear she is passionate about fresh, local and healthy food. She encouraged us to experiment with different flavors and amounts; it’s not necessary to follow a receipt to the t and it’s perfectly ok if you don’t! The class was very hands-on, which I loved! It really allowed us to learn and experience cooking for ourselves.IMG_5608

Today’s dishes featured fresh, local and seasonal produce right from the farmers market. Throughout the class Mary offered us tips and ideas on how to adapt these recipes for different dietary needs and taste preferences.

The four recipes we made today included:

Thanksgiving Salad

Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Relish

Stuffed Carnival Squash

Roasted Vegetables

The Thanksgiving Salad was super easy to make. First we made:

Maple Cayenne Walnuts

2 cups walnuts
½ cup real maple syrup
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon fine sea saltIMG_5616

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Mix coating ingredients together in a bowl. Add walnuts and stir to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they start to brown a little. Cool completely.IMG_5622

These nuts had such a kick! Super hot with a slight sweetness from the maple.

The salad dressing was equally as easy to make:

Smooth Dijon-style mustard
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Freshly squeezed orange juice (or good bottled juice)
Olive Oil

Whisk together a dollop of mustard with a glug of balsamic and a splash or two of orange juice. Add salt and pepper—they dissolve more easily in these acidic ingredients than in the oil. Continue whisking while slowly pouring oil. Taste, adjust, and dress your salad.IMG_5615

Caramelized Onion and Cranberry Relish

Butter or olive oil
2-4 large onions, halved then sliced the long way (cut parallel to the grain of the onion)
Apple cider vinegar
12 oz. bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup sugar or maple sugar (you may end up doubling it)
pinch of salt

First we made the caramelized onions, something I’ve never done before. Heat a large pan or Dutch oven. Add the butter or oil and onions. Stir to coat, then leave them alone. Stir only occasionally.IMG_5609

Tip: Onions caramelize best when given a lot of time at low heat to just do their thing. The trick is to stir them just often enough that they never burn on the bottom, but infrequently enough that they have time to get nice and brown.

Once they are good and brown, pour a splash of vinegar to deglaze, and scrape up all the brown bits. Add cranberries and sugar, a good pinch of salt, and stir. Cook until the berries have popped.IMG_5612

Tip: Allow to come to room temperature before serving. This can be made ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  Because this is a side dish, you want it to be very flavorful.

The sugar is used to counteract the extreme tartness of the cranberries. Personally, I would have liked less sugar and will make it with less sugar this Thanksgiving!IMG_5614

Next up was the Stuffed Carnival Squash. Carnival squash is very similar to acorn squash.

Tip: Plan to serve ½ carnival or acorn squash per person as a vegetarian main dish and ¼ squash per person as a side.IMG_5623

First roast your squash. Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and set cut side down in a baking pan with a little water. Bake until soft, about 45-60 minutes.

Stuffing:

Olive oil or butter
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove
2 ½ cups wild rice, long grain white or brown rice* check package instructions and adjust the amount of broth and cooking time accordingly.
5 cups vegetable broth or stock* homemade is best or buy organic low sodium
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons thyme, fresh or dried
1 teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cranberries
1 cup pecans or pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and cooled.
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook the onion and celery in oil or butter until soft. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Then add the broth or stock and the next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cook until done; 20-50 minutes, depending on your rice type. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed, but it should not be dry. Season to taste.IMG_5624

In a separate pan cook mushrooms in oil or butter. Gently fold cooked mushrooms, cranberries, nuts or seeds and ¼ cup parsley into the rice mixture. Scoop into cooked squash halves, set on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until hot all the way through. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve.IMG_5628

Tip: You can make the rice mixture ahead of time. Before baking, let rice come up to room temperature. This may take longer to warm up; 30-50 minutes.

This also makes a great alternative stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey, chicken or pork roast.

The final dish we made was the Roasted Vegetables. Roasted Vegetables are one of the great-underrated side dishes for holidays as well as every day. They are versatile, delicious, and everyone loves them!

You can roast cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, every different kind of winter or summer squash, peppers, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, turnips, tomatoes…you get the picture. The trick is to roast each vegetable separately then combine them together at the end. That way, each vegetable is cooked thoroughly but not overcooked, and keeps its own perfect texture.

Mary showing us a blue hubbard squash
Mary showing us a blue hubbard squash

Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Toss vegetables in oil, salt and seasoning of choice: rosemary, dill, pepper, paprika, cayenne, curry powder, thyme, or whatever else you like.

Cook them separately then combine. Together, they create a symphony of flavors.IMG_5613

Tip: Most vegetables can be cut ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator overnight.

The finished product!
The finished product!

Are you hungry yet? I sure am! Good News, the BCAE has 3 upcoming Gluten Free classes:

December 7, 2013 – GF Chocolates: Treat yourself or a loved one to handmade chocolate treats! We will learn about making molded and filled chocolates, ganache truffles, and a flourless chocolate cake recipe that is endlessly adaptable. Extra sensitive? All of Chef Mary Greenfield’s recipes are either allergy-friendly or can be with very simple modifications.

January 25, 2014 – GF Breakfast Treats: Going gluten-free doesn’t mean succumbing to blah-breakfasts. Join Cuisine en Locale’s Chef Mary Greenfield and discover how easy it is to make sweet treats and savory favorites. Mary takes pride in creating delicious dishes that work for all diets, and the recipes taught in class are guaranteed to have all of the flavor you want, and none of the allergens you don’t!

February 8, 2014 – GF Valentine’s Day Chocolates: Love conquers all – including allergies! This is hands-on course in creating tons of sweet treats, minus the wheat. From brownies to chocolates and everything in between, students will learn how to make irresistible Valentine’s Day recipes that are just as satisfying for those who don’t need to avoid gluten as they are for those who do!

Sign up for one of the gluten free January or February classes and save 30% with the early bird special if you sign up before November 30th! (The 30% discount applies to all classes at the BCAE, not just the gluten free ones!) These classes would make a great gift or fun afternoon activity to do with your friends, your mom or your boyfriend/girlfriend! We had a blast and I think you would too!

Each class is about 3 hours long.  Unfortunately the kitchen is not 100% gluten free so these classes are not suitable for people with severe gluten allergies.

I hope to see you at the next class on December 7th!

Disclaimer: I was invited to this class for free to review for my blog. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

Please take my GF dining out survey here, to help me gather data for an upcoming post. Thank You.

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Our Evening with KitchenSurfing

It’s rather obvious that I really enjoy going out to eat and trying new restaurants and dinner options in the city. However, there are times I don’t want to deal with crowds, long waits, bad service, etc. And that is where Kitchensurfing comes in.

KitchenSurfing is a company that allows people to bring professional chefs into their own home kitchens. It’s an online marketplace that connects chefs with people who love to eat. You can find some of Boston’s top chefs on the site, along with other amazing culinary professionals. (click here to get a 25% off code)Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 1.55.06 PM

So how does it work? There are two ways to book:

  • Browse the list of chefs, read their reviews and sample menus, and pick one you’d like to have cook for you. Send them an e-mail and voilà.

OR

  • Submit a “Match Request”. Fill out a form stating what you’re looking for (party size, budget, date, time, etc.), any dietary restrictions or allergies, preferred cuisines, and anything else you want or don’t want. Your request will be sent to all the chefs matching your criteria. Chefs will then contact you to customize a menu. Once you’ve found a chef and a menu that you are satisfied with you can book your chef!

We had a great experience with Chef Chris Hallahan. From the moment we began corresponding through the site, he worked with us to create the perfect menu that incorporated foods we love and that accommodated my food intolerances. He was very knowledgeable about food allergies, and even shared some stories and tips with us at dinner.

We were blown away, not only by his culinary talents, but by his passion for food and locally sourced ingredients. He takes great pride in what he does and it really shows. Chris was incredibly friendly and engaging. He knew exactly when to be interactive and when to hang back, which wasn’t very often because we asked so many questions! We learned so much from him, and the whole experience was great.

Every dish was flavorful and fresh.

corn soup with a ragout of lobster, corn, bacon, & thyme
Late Season corn soup served hot with a ragout of lobster, bacon, & corn

Kale salad with a warm bacon vinagrette
Kale salad with a warm bacon vinaigrette with a bottle of wine delivered by Drizly.

Line-caught blue fish over cider glazed carrots and fall vegetables (with beet juice for coloring)
Line-caught blue fish over cider glazed carrots and fall vegetables (with beet juice for coloring)

Pumpkin and Carrot Trifle
Pumpkin and Carrot Trifle

Not only was everything delicious, it was well-timed and beautifully presented. He far exceeded our expectations, and we really appreciated how he embraced the challenge of working with my allergies and still turning out 4 restaurant-caliber dishes.

Have a food allergy or dietary restrictions? No problem! Chefs with food allergy experience indicate so in their profiles in the “comforts” section. The search criteria include gluten free and allergy friendly selections.

Chris had no problem working around my gluten free, dairy free, and yeast free diet. Chris actually took a whole weekend to try out different dessert recipes before settling on a pumpkin carrot cake that was to die for!

Chris also showed up with all the cooking supplies he needed to prepare our 4-course meal; ingredients, pots, pans, knives, utensils, etc.

The booking process is incredibly easy and it is ok to say no if you don’t like an idea or menu item. The chefs want you to enjoy every minute of your experience, so make sure you are up front about your likes and dislikes, what you want and what you don’t want.

This is a great way for food lovers to get closer to chefs and chefs to gain an intimate audience, try out some experimental stuff that might not fly at their place of employment, and make some extra cash.

And no, you don’t have to do the dishes! At the end of the meal the chef will clean up for you and if you are lucky enough as we were, your kitchen will be cleaner than it was before they arrived!IMG_4979

This month Kitchensurfing has teamed up with Drizly, a local alcohol delivery service app, to offer a great promotion. With this promotion, if you book a Kitchensurfing chef from now until October 31, 2013, you will receive $50 off the beer, wine, or liquor for your event from Drizly. The meal does not have to be before the 31st, but the chef has to be booked by that date.

To take advantage of this promotion, simply download Drizly’s iPhone app and enter the code you are given when you make your booking. Drizly will then deliver your order in 60 minutes or less. We ordered wine for our meal and had a great experience with Drizly, which you can about read here.

Ready to book a chef? Click here for a 25% off code. This code is valid through Dec. 31 (you don’t have to have your meal prior to the 31, it just has to be booked by that date). This code can be used on any KS service.

Next Up: A gluten free cooking lesson!

Disclaimer: I received this service free of charge to review for my blog. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Gluten Free Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelete)

The Tortilla Española or Spanish Omelet, is the most commonly served dish in Spain. While there are hundreds of variations even in any one specific region, the traditional tortilla is made with eggs, potatoes and onions. Some of the many additions you will often see in tortilla española include green peppers (pimientos verdes), chorizo, mushrooms (chamiñones), and ham (jamón).IMG_4856

Tortilla Española is naturally gluten free. It may be eaten hot or cold; it is commonly served as a tapa or picnic dish throughout Spain. As a tapa, it may be cut into bite-size pieces and served on cocktail sticks, or cut into pie style portions (pincho de tortilla). It can also be eaten in a sandwich (bocadillo).IMG_4858

You do not need to be a gourmet chef to make this dish yourself.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch
  • 10 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the onion and potatoes for about 10 minutes until the potato is soft. You may need to turn the heat down slightly so the potatoes do not burn.IMG_4850
  2. While the onion and potatoes are cooking, beat the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the potatoes are soft, pour the mixture into the eggs. Try to drain as much oil as possible, the less oil in the eggs the better. Mix together with a large spoon.
  4. Pour 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil into the non-stick frying pan (approximately 8-11 inches) and reduce heat to medium. Pour the tortilla mixture back into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the eggs to cook around the edges.IMG_4853
  5. Once the egg mixture is nearly set, and the bottom is slightly browned, you are ready to turn it over. Place a large plate upside down over the frying pan. Quickly, flip the frying pan and plate so the omelet falls onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the stove and add just enough olive oil to coat the pan.  Slide the omelet back into the frying pan and let cook for another 3-4 minutes.IMG_4854
  6. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes.IMG_4855
  7. Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve. Cut into 6-8 pieces like a pie, or if you are serving it as an appetizer, cut into 1-½ inch squares. Place a toothpick in each square and serve. You can also place each square onto a ½ thick piece of gluten free baguette.IMG_4857
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Review: Cook Simple Gluten Free Meals – Healthy Home Cooking Made Simple

cooksimpleI love cooking. But let’s face it, after a long day at work and either a quick trip to the gym or running around town doing errands, who really wants to spend the time and energy to cook a meal? One solution is Cooksimple. Cooksimple offers a line of inexpensive and budget-friendly gluten free meal kits made from all-natural, whole foods and no added sugars.

Cooksimple was founded on the principle that people will eat healthier if doing so is tasty, easy, and accessible. Cooksimple has designed a product line to do just that by removing the largest barrier for most people: the lack of time to cook at home. These meal kits are a breeze to prepare, and are flavorful, satisfying, and inexpensive, all the while delivering superior nutrition.

I recently had the opportunity to try a few products from this line. The instructions were simple, and in under 30 minutes I had a complete meal ready to feed a family of five!  What I truly appreciated about these meal kits is the back of the box. Where it shows clear pictures of the ingredients you’ll need to buy. Also listed, are suggestions for variations and substitutions. Each meal requires you to buy 2-3 extra ingredients, such as ground turkey, canned tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, sausage or tofu. Some of the ingredients (soy sauce, eggs, olive oil, and canned tomatoes) I already had in my pantry, as most people probably do too. All of the meal kits are vegan on their own, and can be prepared with tofu, beans or other vegan meat alternatives to satisfy vegetarian and vegan diets.IMG_2349

Cooksimple meals have a lower sodium content than most boxed meals. This is a huge plus for me, not only for health reasons (too much salt is not good for anyone) but I also because I tend not to like to add much salt to my meals. These meals have about 50% less sodium compared to other boxed meals, and also rank higher in nutritional value and higher in fiber.

Cooksimple is all about making life easier, not weight loss. But it’s clear that they value nutrition and healthy ingredients. Cooksimple is sold in over 3000 stores across the U.S. and the full product line is also available for purchase online for $4.99 each. To find a location near you click here.

There are nine diverse and globally-inspired kits available including Tamale Pie, Cowboy Chili, Asian Burgers, Skillet Lasagna, Cranberry Wild Rice, Punjabi Curry, Tibetan Dal, White Bean Chili, and New Orleans Jambalaya.

tibetan dalThe Tibetan Dal is classic savory Indian dish with aromas of cumin and turmeric, a hint of cilantro, and can be enjoyed as a meal or a special dip. This meal kit only required the addition of canned tomatoes and olive oil – super easy and super flavorful. IMG_2369

My favorite meal kit, by far, is the Asian Burgers. This savory recipe adds an Asian inspired twist to traditional burgers. The box suggests adding ground turkey, soy crumbles or beans. I added a mix of black beans, pinto beans, artichoke hearts and mushrooms which I chopped in a food processor before adding them to the oat and spice mixture of sesame seeds, onion, garlic, ginger, orange peel and sea salt.  The burgers were delicious and moist, and smelled heavenly while cooking. The box also includes a package of rice, which for being ordinary rice, was also exceptionally flavorful.

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The white bean chili was anything but mundane. The spices – chili powder, pepper, paprika, onion and garlic – are strong. Made with pinto, navy and kidney beans, I also added shredded chicken breast. I opted for water, not milk, but I think the milk would have helped cut the intensity of the spices. For a vegetarian dish, add more beans or tofu.wbc

The classic New Orleans Jambalaya was surprisingly lacking in flavor, and I needed to add more of my own spices. I was expecting a spicy dish, but this was just lackluster. Using Andouille sausage will give it the kick it needs to kick the spice factor up a notch. If you use precooked shrimp do not add them until the very end. The shrimp only need a few minutes to cook and if you add them at the beginning, like the directions say, they will be overcooked and too dry.IMG_2364

So how do these meal kits really stack up against other boxed meals?

usethis

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Stouffers is the highest in calories fat sugar sodium but also high in protein. stouffersSimply Asia noodle bowls are also high in calories and sodium! simplyasia

It isn’t often that I find a gluten free product free of preservatives and additives that is healthy and super tasty! I definitely recommend buying a few boxes of CookSimple™ to keep on hand for those nights that you don’t feel like cooking.

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Bob’s Red Mill Review & GIVEAWAY

I am a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill. Bob’s makes a whole line of gluten free flours; including rice flours, bean flours, teff flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, oat flour and many more. I regularly use Bob’s Red Mill baking mixes and flours, and I love their gluten free oats.Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 10.54.16 AM

For over 30 years, Bob’s has been committed to providing the very best in Gluten Free flours, cereals, baking mixes, and grains. Every product is tested upon delivery, during production and after packaging. To insure the integrity of their gluten free products, Bob’s Red Mill adheres to a standard of no more than 19 parts per million of gluten. Separate machinery and packaging division are used to insure the purity of their products.

Bob’s was kind enough to send me three gluten free products: black bean flour, gluten free cornbread mix, and gluten free oats.IMG_3784

The first thing I made was the cornbread. It wasn’t sweet like Jiffy Mix, but it was certainly was not bitter. It cooked up moist and delicious. The texture was a bit denser and drier than I remember cornbread being, but it still tasted great. I think the recipe (on the back of the bag) just needs a little bit more liquid and the cornbread would be perfect. I made a loaf and a few muffins, which rose quite a bit; I was so surprised! IMG_3933Black Bean Flour is high in protein (8g), dietary fiber (5g) and a good source of iron (10%), magnesium (16%), and phosphorous (16%).

Before today, I had never cooked or baked with black bean flour. I was excited to try something new, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it. Luckily, Bob’s Red Mill provides recipe suggestions on the back of the package, and I made the black bean dip. IMG_3785Black Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill Black Bean Flour
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups hot water
  • ½ cup salsa

Recipe:

Whisk black bean flour with cumin, chili powder and salt into the hot water. Stir 1 minute while cooking over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and cook for 4 minutes. Add ½ cup of your favorite salsa or picante sauce. The mixture thickens as it cools. Make sure to stir once every few minutes. Let cool 15 minutes if serving as a dip. Makes 3 cups.

The dip tasted exactly like black beans! Yes, I know it is made with black bean flour, but I wasn’t expecting the flavor to be so strong and tasty. You can also use black bean flour as part of your baking mixes for chocolate cakes and brownies. Try substituting up to 25% in your flour mix to add protein, fiber, and iron.

The organic quinoa Bob’s makes is small-grained quinoa and is pre-rinsed.  This is important because quinoa grows covered with a layer of a bitter substance, that you always need to rinse this off before cooking. But beware! Even though it says it is pre-washed, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash it again. I always rinse my quinoa before cooking, whether it was done already or not.

For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa, it is a nutrient rich grain that was a staple food of the ancient Incas’ diet. Quinoa is a good source of iron, protein, and essential amino acids. Quinoa is actually a seed but is cooked and used like a whole grain. It makes a great substitute for couscous or barley in tabouli. Bob’s Red Mill quinoa is delicious on it’s own and has an earthy flavor.

My favorite quinoa recipe is Quinoa with sautéed apples and Almonds.quinoa apple

Ingredients:
– 1 cup quinoa
– 2 teaspoons olive oil
– 3/4 cup chopped onion
– 3/4 cup finely diced carrots
– 1 garlic clove, minced
– 1 cup chicken broth (vegetarian version: vegetable broth)
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 cups diced unpeeled apples
– 1/4 cup slivered almonds
– 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

                                                                            Recipe:
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in warm water.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a saucepan over med-high heat. Add onion, carrot and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender and carrots begin to brown.
Stir in broth, water, quinoa and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is simmering, in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add the apples, almonds and pepper to quinoa and toss to combine. Serve warm.

This is also great cold over spinach salads!

You can check out my other quinoa recipes here:

Spinach Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almondsquinoacherries

 

Quinoa and Rice Summer Saladquinoasummer

 

Cumin scented Black Rice and Quinoacumin

Now for the Giveaway! One lucky reader will win the same 3 products I received; Cornbread Mix, Black Bean Flour, and Organic Quinoa.

Enter below using the Rafflecopter for a chance to win these delicious Bob’s Red Mill products!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Giveaway ends on August 7, 2013 at 12:00am  EST. Open to U.S. residents only.

Disclaimer: I received these products for free to sample and review for my blog.  I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.

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Whiskey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

My sister made this sweet potato recipe for Thanksgiving.  She originally wanted to use Guy Fieri’s (a Food Network Chef) recipe but our mom bought maple syrup instead of agave. It was a big hit at dinner, everybody loved it. To make the cooking process more efficient, and because we already have a hundred and one things to do Thanksgiving morning before the guests arrive, cook the sweet potatoes the night before. Cool and refrigerate over night.  Do everything else in the morning.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup Jameson whiskey (or other gluten free Whiskey) I promise Jameson is gluten free, click here to see their gluten free statement
  • 2 cups crisp apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and cook the potatoes whole, do not pierce. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the potatoes are soft. Let cool. When cool, peel and cut into 1/2 inch slices.

2. In a small saute pan lightly toast the pecans over over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the maple syrup and spices. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add the whiskey and simmer for 5 minutes more.

5.  Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Arrange the sweet potatoes, alternating with the apples. Pour the whiskey-pecan mixture over the top..

6. Bake for 30 minutes, basting the top with the whiskey sauce once at 15 minutes.

7. Serve warm.

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Katie’s Gluten Free Three Bean Turkey Chili

This recipe is complimentary of my sister Katie, and although I haven’t tried it, if it’s anything like our mom’s (who she learned from) it must be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground turkey meat
  • 1 package Old El Paso (it is not certified gluten free but does not contain gluten ingredients) or other gluten free chili seasoning packet
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp hot jalepeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 4 oz can tomato paste
  • shredded Mexican or monetary jack cheese for the topping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. In a large saucepan, brown onions over medium high heat. Add the chopped green pepper.
  2.  Add ground turkey meat and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes.
  3.  Add tomato paste and chilli seasoning packet and mix well. Add the corn, peppers and beans.
  4. Let simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips and top with cheese!