Meatless Monday: Vegan Recipe Round-Up

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Did anyone do anything fun for the Superbowl? I had a fairly busy weekend so by the time Sunday night rolled around, I was ready to crash.  The husband and I went to grab some pho and beer with my parents and then called it an early night. We’re super exciting people, I know.

This week I thought I would do something new and institute a new fixture on the blog: “Meatless Mondays”. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian but I do prefer to limit my intake of animal products for various health and environmental reasons so I think this feature will be a good way to come up with some new exciting recipes. For this week, I’m going to do a quick recipe round-up of some of my favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes.

_13872_369edit1
Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate: The most decadent hot chocolate ever

_12813_321edit1
Vegan Chocolate Cranberry Date Bars: These are a great post-workout snack

_12010_290edit1
Vegan Cranberry Coconut Truffles: I like to keep a steady supply of these on hand for quick grab-and-go snacks

Vegan Split Pea Soup: A hearty vegan soup for cold winter nights

_7766_055
Vegan Chai Banana Bread: My favorite banana bread!

Vegan Stuffed Shells: The husband ate a few servings of these before I told him they were vegan…and then he kept on eating!

Moroccan Inspired Vegan Pasta Salad: One of my favorite summertime pasta salads.

Feel free to link up to your own recipes or other great recipes/blogs/etc/ in the comments!

Advertisements

Gluten-free Super Bowl Eats

Happy Thursday! Friday is almost here which means the weekend isn’t far off. I’ll be honest – I completely forgot that the Superbowl was this weekend. We don’t really watch football (or even have cable for that matter) and really, the Superbowl has always been about the beer and the food for me. And the commercials.

Superbowl parties usually have a ton of gluten-filled food, here are some gluten-free snacks to consider making or bringing to your party:

_13795_365edit1
Munchies
– tortilla chips + salsa & guacamole
– veggies with hummus or green goddess dip
gluten-free crackers and dips
coconut energy truffles to keep your stamina up for all that cheering…and beer drinking

DSC_0379_392edit2
Savory Sides
– a yummy brussel sprout salad
vegan baked beans
roasted brussel sprouts

_13133_331
Main Dishes
vegan stuffed shells
vegan veggie lasagna
– vegetarian chili
lentil soup

_13872_369edit1
Sweet Stuff
– vegan mexican hot chocolate
apple cinnamon roll muffins
– s’mores with gluten-free graham crackers

What to Drink
peach basil margaritas
– gluten-free beers like Bards and Greens (my favorite)
– wine! always.

Here a few links to other gluten-free friendly and healthy Superbowl snacks:
– these dips & nachos from Ashley
– these healthy eats from Brittany
– Mama Pea’s nacho bites
– Some more healthy dips over at Fitsugar

Anyone have any big plans for the Superbowl? The husband will be working what is sure to be an insane shift and I will probably be deep in the black hole that is photo editing.

Gluten-free Living Series: Continuing Healthy Habits & Meal Templates

Happy Thursday! Friday is almost here! Woohoo! We are nearing the end of January which means that most of us are one-month into our New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing on your goals? I feel like I’m making progress towards each of my goals, albeit at different speeds. One of my main goals was prepping and planning ahead, which I have been doing great with! It’s really made my life during the work week a lot easier and has freed up some precious time. Besides doing my weekly prep and using my favorite grocery service, one of the things that has helped me stay on track is having a meal “template” for my day.

_12921_328edit1

One of the questions I get asked most often about gluten-free living is simply, “What do you eat?!”. As evidenced by this blog, gluten-free eating is not boring and certainly doesn’t skimp on deliciousness but I feel like many people think living gluten-free every.single.day is impossible. While it’s hard at first, it is definitely possible to eat a healthy, gluten-free diet day in and day out. A long time ago, when I first started this blog, I had a section called “daily eats” where I post what I ate everyday. It helped me with my accountability but took a significant chunk of time, so I ended it even though it was fairly popular.

DSC_0379_392edit2

Well today I thought I would share a rough estimation of what I eat every day. I tend to vary my evening meals and snacks but keep my morning meals/snacks the same. Having a sort of “template” for my meals has really helped me ease the stress of eating gluten-free and helps when I’m prepping and planning meals for the work week. Here is my usual weekday eating template:

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or registered dietician. These meals are based on my own caloric needs and health requirements based on my personal activity level and resting metabolic rate, which I have had tested by a medical professional. I am also under the care of a nutritionist in conjunction with a sports medicine doctor for various health reasons.

5:45am: 2 medjool dates or 1/2 banana with 2 tsp. peanut butter or date bars/balls
6-7:30am: workout time! I usually do about 50 minutes of weight lifting with cardio bursts and follow it with 20-30 HIIT cardio. Or I do 60 minutes of cardio, usually spin.
8:00am: post-workout protein shake: 12 oz. unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed or coconut oill, 1 scoop whey protein powder, cinnamon
10am: 2 egg muffins or hard-boiled eggs + fruit (apple,pear,citrus)
1pm: lunch time! I usually have some sort of salad (I’m on the third day in a row of eating this) with tuna, salmon, beans, or tofu. Or some soup.
4pm: snack: some edamame or carrots & hummus.
6:30-7:45pm: 75 minute vinyasa yoga (not every day, but I shoot for 2-3 days a week!), I may have a small snack afterwards if I’m not eating dinner right away or a larger afternoon snack.
8:30pm: dinner: this varies greatly but usually involves roasted veggies, some sort of fish/tofu/beans/chicken, and a small amount of quinoa or brown rice and possibly a glass of wine.

That’s my meal template for work week. The weekends vary a little bit but I generally still eat about 4-6 times a day, depending on what I’m doing.

Do you have a meal template? Do you think they’re helpful?

Gluten-Free Living: Grocery Shopping

This post is part of the gluten-free living series!

As someone who loves to experiment in the kitchen and who is married to an equally experimental cook, I spend a lot of time in the grocery store. I remember going grocery shopping, gluten-free, for the first time. I picked up my usual fruits, veggies, and proteins and then stopped dead in the aisles when I went to get grains. Not being able to have pasta, wheat bread, cous cous, and gluten-y grains left me feeling confused and a bit frustrated. I must have spent two hours in the grocery aisles obsessively reading labels. Since then, grocery shopping has become significantly less frustrating and is actually a fun experience. If you’re newly gluten-free, here are some tips that helped save my sanity in the grocery store:

1. Shop the perimeter: This is good advice in general, but it is especially useful for gluten-free folks. The grocery store perimeter is often where fresh fruits, veggies, dairy, and proteins are located, so you’re likely to have an easy time shopping in this area.
2. Head to the organic/natural section: Most mainstream grocery stores have a dedicated organic or natural foods section where they house the majority of “health foods”, organic foods, and gluten-free frozen foods. This is usually the area where you can find your gluten-free oats, cereals, flour mixes, and pastas so be sure not to skip it!
3. Read labels: Always, always read labels on anything new that you buy or something you haven’t bought in awhile. It’s also good to read labels on frequently bought items to ensure that nothing has changed their gluten-free status. Look for the “certified gluten-free” seal on your products and you can be assured that your food is safe!
4. Try new things: I’ve talked about this before but it bears repeating. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when you’re limited on what you can buy. Try picking up something new every few weeks to change up your diet and expose your taste buds to new things. Who knows, you may discover a new “must-have” item.
6. Avoid the junk: Gluten-free packaged foods are not inherently healthier than regular packaged foods, so it is best to skip them. If you do buy them, make sure your read the labels to make sure that they aren’t just full of starch and check the nutrition stats. There are some great gluten-free package foods out there, it just takes some detective work!

And in case you’re curious, here are some of the constant items that we stock our gluten-free kitchen with:

Fruits – apples, bananas, pomegranates, citrus, whatever is in season!
Veggies – kale, spinach, cabbage, carrots (we go through almost 5lbs in two weeks!),broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, onions, whatever we get from the farmer’s market
Dairy – 0% greek yogurt, various cheeses, soy milk, almond milk, heavy cream (occasionally for baked goods), butter
Proteins – local tofu, beans, sliced turkey, organic free-range (and local when I can get them) eggs, organic free-range liquid egg whites, fresh fish that we buy from our local fish monger, chicken occasionally
Pantry – rices (brown, jasmine, abborio), dried beans (chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans), quinoa, gluten-free oats, corn tortillas, quinoa pasta, tuna, bpa-free tomatoes, flax seeds, chia seeds, peanuts (for making peanut butter), walnuts, shredded coconut, medjool dates, sweet potatoes, yellow or purple potatoes, protein powder, occasional tortilla chips or other chips, locally roasted coffee
Oils & Sauces – coconut oil, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, cooking spray, srirarcha (I pour this on everything), gluten-free tamari, and tons of canned jams and jellies from husband’s family
You can also see my general grocery list with some of my favorite foods over at Relay Foods website! They asked to me create a public list of some of my favorite items using their new list feature. You guys know I’m a huge fan of Relay and I love the new list feature because it easily allows you to order your groceries without doing a new search every time. If you’re in the Richmond or Charlottesville area, you should definitely give them a try! (Full Disclosure: I was not solicited or compensated for mentioning Relay Foods. I just really like them!)

Do you have any special grocery tips/tricks or favorite items?

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!

Gluten-free Living: Gluten-free Holiday Gift Guide

This is part of the Gluten-free Living series. Today we are tackling holiday gift giving for your gluten-free loved one!

The holiday season is in full-swing which means there are plenty of cookies to be baked, lights to be hung, and gifts to be purchased.  If you have someone in your life who is gluten-free, whether they are newly g-free or a seasoned veteran, buying or making a gift for that person can be a bit difficult.  To help the holiday gift buying go a bit more smoothly, I’ve compiled a list of g-free kitchen essentials that you can cross off someone’s wish list or add to your own!

Baker’s Tools:

Gluten-free baking is tough but the right tools can make a world of difference.  These are some of my favorite and most used baking tools! In addition to these items, baking pans, muffins tins, and springform pans also make great gifts for the gluten-free baker in your life!

Kitchen Scale

This is, without a doubt, the most used tool in my kitchen.  Gluten-free baking is tricky and a kitchen scale is essential for constructing flour mixes for baked goods. We also use our scale to help portion individually made items (like fresh made sausage patties), weigh non-baking items like chocolate, potatoes, veggies, etc., and when baking massive quantities of things (such as 7 dozen cupcakes).

Measuring Cups and Spoons

A good set of measuring cups and spoons are a baker’s best friend.  I prefer stainless set utensils because they don’t harbor gluten, like plastic items can, and can stand up to several years of baking and cooking.

Rolling Pin

A good rolling pin is any baker’s best friend. If you’re buying for baker who is newly gluten-free chances are, they need a new rolling pin.  Wooden items can be porous and hold on to all the gluten-full flour of previous years so a new one is necessary to safely bake gluten-free.  Rolling pins come in a variety of sizes and style but you can’t go wrong with a large French style rolling pin.

Cook’s Tools:

Living gluten-free often means taking control of your health by cooking your own meals to ensure that everyone can eat safely.  These are some of the kitchen tools that the seasoned gluten-free cook will love and that will help a gluten-free newbie get started in the kitchen!

A Good Knife

My husband will be the first one to tell you that a good knife is essential if you do any sort of cooking at home.  A standard chef’s knife is incredibly versatile and makes chopping, slicing, and dicing a breeze.  This is a great gift for someone who is just getting interested in cooking their own gluten-free meals or the avid gluten-free food lover.

Pots, Pans, and Cooking Utensils

Giving your kitchen a gluten-free overhaul is a lengthy, intimidating, and pricey project.  You can help a newly gluten-free loved one get started by getting them some items they likely need to replace such as: non-stick pans, pots, and cooking utensils.

A Gluten-free Cookbook

Both newly gluten-free friends and gluten-free pros will appreciate a great gluten-free cookbook.  I love Gluten-free Girl and the Chef‘s cookbooks because they tell a story and you can feel the love jumping off the pages.  There are tons of gluten-free cookbooks out there – just check out amazon.com to find one that is perfect for you or your loved one!

DIY Gifts

This year, more than ever, I am hearing about people giving DIY gifts to their families and friends.  DIY gifts such as cookies and breads can be hard to give to your gluten-free loved ones but there are tons of other gift options out there!  Here is a list of some DIY items that are gluten-free and incredibly tasty.

Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

These are great gifts for friends and family members who loved the taste of fresh fruit.  Check out this post to see my jam-making experience and links to help you make your own!

Chocolate Truffles

A box of chocolate truffles is a sweet and decadent gift.  Truffles are great because you can make a large batch in bulk a few days before, keep them in the fridge, package them, and then give them out.  They’re simple to make but sure to impress. Try my port wine chocolate truffles for your favorite wine and chocolate lover.

Quick Breads

Quick breads, such as banana bread, are great gifts to give to busy students, parents, and friends. My vegan chai banana-bread is easy to make and is full of comforting spices to warm up your winter.  If you don’t want to bake the bread, you can package the dry ingredients in a stylish jar and attach baking instructions. Easy!

This is just a small, small list of gift ideas for your gluten-free friends and family. There is are so many great baking, cooking, and DIY gift ideas out there, it’s hard to narrow it down.  I hope this helps check some gifts off your list or helps with ideas for your own gluten-free wish list!

Pumpkin Pie Old Fashioned

I promise that one day I will post something not pumpkin related. Just don’t count on that for the remainder of October. What I can promise is that I will be drinking plenty of these cocktails on breezy autumn nights. They are especially necessary now that my wedding is only 9 days away and there are tasks like seating charts, emails, and check writing to be done. I’m not sure how October snuck in and flew by without giving me a chance to catch my breath but I couldn’t be more excited. Every day that it gets closer makes me more and more anxious in the best sort of way. I know the next 9 days will be hectic and busy, but I am so ready to walk down that aisle, marry the best man I know, and then throw a rocking party. I have all sorts of wedding activities happening this weekend including the arrival of my grandma and my MOH, my bridal shower, and crossing off things on the wedding checklist. I am going to try to get in a few more posts before the big day but if I don’t, count on a full on recap complete with more pictures and details than you probably care to know about.

_8648_142

Hectic days filled with wedding tasks mean that a strong drink is pretty much necessary after dinner. It’s been awhile since I posted a cocktail recipe and while these drinks are delicious, they don’t really do it for the fall. Fall requires things that are dark, smooth, strong, and obviously, pumpkin flavored. I have been getting tired of the same old thing but didn’t quite know how to change it up. I had all but forgotten about my desire to make a new cocktail recipe when I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to roast a large roasting pumpkin so that I could have a steady pumpkin supply for the next week. Even though I eat a lot of pumpkin, I figured it would be fun to try some using pumpkin in some new ways. I was hunting around the internet for a good pumpkin flavored simple syrup to stir into my coffee and then it hit me. Pumpkin pie simple syrup would be amazing in a fall makeover of a cocktail. The first thing that came to my mind was remaking an old fashioned.

_8601_145

Old fashioneds are my go-to drink – I love bourbon and strong drinks that I can sip, so naturally, it’s a match made in heaven.  Some Celiacs and those that are gluten-intolerant have a hard time with bourbon and whiskey due to the fact that they are made from rye however, I noticed that I tolerate these fairly well. It is important to try to get the best quality liquor you can since the higher quality stuff often goes through a more rigorous distillation process which is the process that removes the majority of gluten. Moral of the story? Get the good stuff (More info here if you’re interested!).  I never did find a favorite recipe for the pumpkin syrup, but I did use what I found to make a deliciously pumpkiny simple syrup that pairs oh so well with quality bourbon and a hint of orange. The pumpkin flavor in this drink is subtle but noticeable without being overly sweet. You can intensify the pumpkin flavor by adding more syrup or letting the syrup reduce for a bit longer. I like my simple syrup to be fairly thin since I like to use it in coffee and it just incorporates a bit better when it isn’t too thick (much thinner than this pumpkin spice caramel sauce). It is the perfect cocktail to for blanket cuddling, pumpkin carving, and autumn porch chatting with your soon-to-be husband.

_8674_143

No that’s not photoshop. That is actually Brad messing with me by blowing his tobacco pipe smoke in my shot. Turned out nice though!

Pumpkin Pie Old Fashioned
yields: 1 drink

2 tsp. pumpkin pie simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 slice of fresh orange
2 dashes angostura bitters
2 oz. good quality bourbon
splash of club soda
maraschino cherry, orange twist, and dash of pumpkin pie spice, for garnish

1. Add pumpkin pie simple syrup to the bottom of an small old-fashioned glass.
2. Slice orange, and rub the inside of the orange slice around the glass. You want to just give a hint of orange by letting the juice and extract line the glass.
3. Fill glass completely with crushed ice.
4. Pour bourbon and bitters over ice. Add splash of club soda.
5. Shake once by transferring glass contents to a cocktail shaker and then transferring back to glass. A light mixing is all your after.
6. Garnish with a cherry, orange twist, and a quick dash of pumpkin pie spice.
Pumpkin Pie Simple Syrup
This is delicious in cocktails and coffee! Who needs $5 500 calorie pumpkin spice lattes?

2 cups water
1 – 1 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1 cup but feel free to use more if you like a sweeter syrup)
3 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Heat sugar and water in a medium sized pot over medium high heat until sugar dissolves.
2. Once sugar has dissolved, add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
3. Bring to a very slow simmer and reduce until syrup is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups or 1 cup if you like a thicker syrup.
4. Once the syrup has reached desired consistency, strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth (or paper towel or coffee filter). Let cool completely before using!
5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This week was very hectic, very busy, and full of issues and this weekend has been super busy.  There are only 13 days to our wedding which means that things are in ultimate turbo-gear around here.  I love seeing everything come together and secretly thrive off of hectic energy so I am enjoying this crazy time of wedding planning.  It’s exhausting but exciting.  The weather has also been absolutely gorgeous which is really solidifying the fact that fall is here which means it is time to to break out all of my favorite fall recipes!

 _8541_135

It’s pretty obvious that I love all things fall, especially pumpkins.  While pumpkins may dominate my fall baking, there is another fall vegetable that dominates my savory cooking – brussel sprouts. Yes, brussel sprouts.  I can safely say that my household may be responsible for 90% of the brussel sprout consumption in this city. They are our go-to side for comforting fall dishes when we cook for others and we have them at home at least once a week. You can imagine my excitement when I found this giant brussel sprout stalk at the grocery store today.

 _8487_133

Brussel sprouts are such a polarizing little cabbage relative – people either love them or loath them. They have gotten a bad rap as little wrinkly grey, sulphuric balls of nastiness but in reality, they can be delicious when they are cooked properly.  My favorite way, fool proof way to prepare this controversial vegetable? Roast them with maple syrup.  I can proudly say that this recipe has converted some former brussel sprout haters into brussel sprout lovers.   Roasting really brings out the delicate cabbage flavor without producing bitterness or that strange after taste that brussel sprouts sometimes get.  The addition of maple syrup helps caramelize the outer leaves and provides the perfect amount of sweetness. They get soft and creamy while still retaining some crunch from the caramelized leaves.  So if you’re hesitant about brussel sprouts, give this recipe a try.

 
_8580_136

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Yields: 1 package of brussel sprouts

 

1 package of brussel sprouts

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 ½ Tbsp. good quality real maple syrup

salt + pepper

1.    Preheat oven to 375F.  Rinse your brussel sprouts and remove any damaged outer leaves.

2.     Cut the bottom root of your brussel sprouts and then cut in half.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

3.    Add olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to bowl and toss until the brussel sprouts are evenly coated.

4.    Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side up. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip over (use a spoon, much easier!) and roast for another 10 minutes.

5.    Serve and enjoy!