Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Burgers, Burgers, Burgers!!!

Hello hello!  There have now been about 4 days of sunshine (not consecutive) this spring season, haha, and on each of those sunny days I have found myself in need of a burger!  I loooooooove veggie burgers!  I am not talking about the 'veggie' burgers you get from the frozen section at the grocery either!  (yuck)  Those are certainly not healthy, definitely not gluten free and not really very tasty!  I am talking about the oh so fabulous and wonderful world of homemade non-meat burgers!  Delicious, filling, healthy, non-heartburn producing, kid-friendly, summer approved burgers!  YUM!!!!  The last weekly menu I posted (yikes, 2 weeks ago!) listed a quinoa burger ~ it was supremely fabulous!  We have had them twice now and the recipe couldn't be more simple and it's also easily adapted to suit your tastes! 

We ate our delicious burgers with sliced tomato, avocado and romaine lettuce leaves!  The burger itself doesn't really need any kind of condiment because it is so flavorful and moist! (*side note: I realize that a lot of bloggers hate the word 'moist' which I actually find funny because they don't seem to hate the word 'encrusted'?! ~just an observaton!)  I should say that 'I' ate my burgers as described above because Kyle did use some mustard and ketchup in addition, that guy loves mustard and ketchup?  I don't get it?!  Anyway, the recipe uses cooked quinoa, hummus, tomato paste and some spices and seasoning!  I highly recommend making the hummus and using it in the burgers, it really adds so much flavor and *bonus* you can have the extra hummus to use for veggies the next day!  I also really loved this recipe because it's freezable and you all know I love freezable meals!  I prefer to use fresh ingredients when possible so I subbed a small garlic clove for the garlic powder in the recipe.  We also omitted the basil because I don't really like it and added some turmeric.  I can tell you that the tomato paste is optional as well because we didn't have any when we made these the second time and they still turned out great!  I have found that my body does not fare so well with starchy ingredients so instead of using the potato starch to make these gluten free as the recipe suggests, I just used a few tablespoons of brown rice flour!  These delicious burgers increased our longing for summer and reminded us that a whole world of meat-free burgers exists!  I thought it would be nice to attach more burger recipes to this post so we could all find new and yummy suppers for our families this summer!  Who doesn't love summer?  I mean really, am I the only one who equates burgers and summer?  (By the way, I am sooo going to eat the leftovers for lunch as soon as I finish this post!)

Chickpea Sunflower Burgers (these are super delicious, just use g-free oats and a gluten free dressing such as tahini dressing!)

Mushroom Walnut Burgers (also raw and to make these gluten free please use tamari instead of nama shoyu)

A REAL Veggie Burger (I can't wait to try this one even though it's a bit labor intensive ~again use G-free oats!)

Portabella Mushroom Burgers (just make sure your marinade is gluten free and these are grillable!)

What is your favorite summer time food????  (I have too many to count!!!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cooking Gluten Free Pasta ~Perfectly!!!

If you know me then it is no secret that I love pasta!  I really love pasta!  People always assume that I can no longer eat pasta or that gluten free varieties are a disgusting excuse for their beloved wheat blends.  I am here to tell you, those assumptions are false!  Hooray!  We still have pasta whenever we want and it is just as yummy as ever!  I would actually argue that the pasta we eat now is even better because we have explored so many new flavors and, of course, we can enjoy it more because of the absence of gluten-induced stomach pain!!!  However, there are secrets to making and eating gluten free pasta and I shall uncover them for you!

First things first..........just because it is gluten free does not make it healthy!  This goes for all foods labeled gluten free but today we are only discussing pasta!  White Rice Penne = not the best option!  Try to stay away from white rice pasta if at all possible.  Some boxes will be a blend that include white as well as brown but just do the best you can!  You should avoid white rice for lots of reasons!  It is blank nutritionally and as a pasta, it is gross.  It is not filling and tends to get sticky and mushy.  This is probably the reason why most people cringe at the mention of gluten free pasta so beware!  That being said, there are lots of other varieties that taste fantastic and are much healthier!


Brown Rice pasta is a great substitute for wheat!  It has a similar texture and flavor especially the Deboles Brown Rice plus Flax!  Yum!  Secret #1:  DO NOT OVERCOOK GLUTEN FREE PASTA!  The box or bag will have cooking instructions, most will remind you not to overcook the pasta and it is essential for taste and texture that you heed their advice!  Gluten free blends take about half the time of traditional pasta and some take even less!  The brown rice varieties need only be boiled for about 5-7 minutes so watch carefully!  You want them al dente just as you would any other kind of noodle!  If you are making a dish that can be frozen such as a lasagna or other baked pasta dish, you need to undercook your pasta!  G-free pasta that has been frozen can be mushy after it has been thawed and baked so undercooking is key!  It will cook more while in the oven and come out perfect as long as you undercook before freezing!  Secret #2:  RINSE YOUR PASTA WITH COLD WATER!  Unless you are making a cold pasta salad, secret number two is a no-no with traditional pasta.  However, G-free pasta needs to be rinsed in order to stop the cooking process as well as keep the noodles from being gummy or sticking together!  Another great brown rice variety is Tinkyada, which you can purchase through Amazon for a really decent price, about half that of the pasta you will find at the store!  Trader Joe's also has a brown rice pasta that is priced well but I am leary of a lot of TJ products because they are produced in the same facility or on the same equipment as other products containing wheat.  Just know how sensitive you are before trying a TJ product and read all labels!  Enough with brown rice pasta.....let us move on because there are so many other gluten free blends that are quite fabulous!  One of these is quinoa and corn based pasta!
This brings me to Secret #3:  BE CREATIVE AND KNOW YOUR FLAVORS!  A recipe that worked well for brown rice pasta may not taste the same with a different variety.  Try to think outside the box and get creative with your pairings!  Corn and quinoa based noodles are great with southwestern dishes and strong tomato based sauces.  I have found that a mild tomato sauce does not work well with this flavor of pasta so I always add more garlic and spices.  One of my very favorite recipes works wonderfully with this kind of pasta, Angela's Quick and Easy Creamy Alfredo!  (side note:  I love that blog so much it's ridiculous.  Angela is a genius as I have said many a time before!  That recipe seriously delivers and btw it's totally vegan!)  You can also make the sauce ahead of time and freeze, then thaw in a pan before adding your cooked and rinsed pasta!  This is a good recipe as well and a great way to get some veggies!  Another variety of gluten free pasta contains amaranth! 

The amaranth variety that I have tried comes from Deboles and is a blend of rice, quinoa and amaranth.  I think that this particular pasta has a sweeter flavor and goes really well with salty and peppery ingredients for recipes!  For instance, the addition of goat cheese or arugula would be amazing!  So again, just be aware of what flavor options you could pair with your pasta!  I have made a baked dish with this pasta adding arugula, mushrooms, sea salt, and a clove of garlic to a basic tomato sauce then added goat cheese to the top....it was legendary!  Kyle has even requested it!  Olives and pesto would go well with this pasta also!  The sky is the limit folks!  Don't be afraid of gluten free pasta!  You are going to find plenty of fabulous new recipes you can add to your collection whether you are a gluten free family or just rotating your grains! 

Do you have any favorite recipes for gluten free pasta?  I would love to add more to our repertoire!!!

Have a lovely day! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Haha, I originally forgot to name this one!

Hello everyone!  The sun just started to show itself as I started typing this, so yay!  :-)  I was making my grocery list this morning for a menu that I have ready since last Saturday! Ha!  Well, better late than never I suppose!  Now, if I could just get to the store.....

Anyhow, here is our list of dinner possibilities for this week.

Baked Sweet Potatoes  ~We love baked sweet potatoes and it's so easy.  I pretty much alway have them on our menu.  We aren't sick of them yet! ;-)

Quinoa Burgers ~In case you are wondering Quinoa is pronounced 'kee-NO-wah'  OR  'KEEN-wah'  I am going to serve these with lettuce, tomato and probably tahini dressing or some other kind of greek dressing.

A&E Salad ~ minus the goat cheese.  The items on the menu this week were picked specifically for being mild on my stomach.  Every time I ingest any amount of gluten (which is only from cross-contamination these days, but darn it all....gluten is everywhere!) my stomach gets tied in knots and hurts me for at least three days.  My system has been inflamed for a couple of weeks so I picked these dishes accordingly.  The goat cheese is not good for the gall-bladder!

Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash ~ I will be making the G-free cornbread from Yesterday's post to go in this recipe!  I will also be making that soup again because it was delicious, Kyle can take it to work and eat it with the leftover cornbread and it's going to be stormy for the next 10 days.  I like soup when it's rainy!

Spring Rolls ~ I have some rice wraps that I need to use.  We will just fill them with sliced veggies and some other things from around the house.  If I feel like we need more to eat, I will make some rice to go along with them.  We will probably have some sort of sweet and sour dipping sauce made with Bragg's Liquid Aminos, almond butter and plum or grape jelly.

The other two nights are what I like to call, 'Fend For Yourself Night!'  However, I have already cashed those in seeing as how I have yet to go to the store!  Haha! 

Ok, funny story.....my husband does not work close to where we live so the only time he gets to spend with the kids is right before they go to bed.  He wants to spend some time with our daughter everyday so he does her bath every night as part of her bedtime routine.  Well, last night I poked my head in to see how things were going and my daughter looked up at me, looked at her dad, looked at me again and said in her sing-song voice, "Bye, see ya later.  I have ta take a bath!"  Apparently she did not want mommy to impose on her daddy time!  How cute!
Giving daddy kisses after her bath!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup!

Good Afternoon!  It's freeeeezing today but the sun is shining!!!  It was warm yesterday but the weather was frightening.  Thunderstorms and wind ALL day.  Yuck.  I was not about to attempt going to the grocery. Which is why you don't yet have my list of planned meals for this week!  Turns out, you'll still have to wait another day for those!  I wanted to get the following recipe up ASAP because it was so delicious and I don't have time to link all the recipes for this week's meals in addition........so the new recipe won out!  Hopefully tomorrow I will have a meal list for ya!  I am pretty excited about the dinners on the list this week...but again, tomorrow! 

So, the story goes:  It was gloomy, the toddler was having a 'terrible twos' kind of day, the baby was not interested in anything other than mommy holding him, the husband was late and mommy was cranky!  Having not gone to the grocery meant one of two things.  1. Pick around at whatever we had lying about.  Or 2. Create a simple yet amazing dinner using the ingredients we had on hand!  Thankfully, choice number two won! 

The gloomy (seriously, it was ridiculous outside) weather left me with a craving for an old favorite!  I wanted some tomato soup in a bad way!  Of course, I used to eat tomato soup with the standard grilled cheese.  Even after we changed our diet we ate our tomato soup with grilled goat cheddar sandwiches on whole wheat bread.  Well, obviously I can't do that anymore.  Enter this lovely little recipe from another favorite blog:  Gluten Free Cornbread  ~This was the BEST cornbread!  I used 1/8 cup of maple syrup instead of 1/4 cup of sugar and it was wonderful!  By this time, I was excited.  I had found the perfect accompaniment to some tomato soup....now I just needed to find some tomato soup!  So I began searching for a quick, simple and vegan creamy tomato soup recipe.  Nothin'   I found loads of recipes but most of them used tofu, beans, or 372 ingredients (yes, I am exaggerating a bit) but I wanted something quick and simple and we do not eat soy.  I gave up my search and gathered some ingredients.  I am happy to report, this soup was mondo-fabulous! (Does anyone else miss Gilmore Girls or is it just me??)  The best part, aside from the taste of course, it was really simple!

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup:

2 cans diced tomatoes ~no salt added
1 can no sugar added tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup low sodium, gluten free vegetable broth
1/2 cup almond milk (you could use any kind of milk)
3-5 strands chives (really, just add to taste..this is a guess)
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs brown sugar

*Add all ingredients except salt and brown sugar to the blender.  Blend until smooth.  You could eat the soup raw at this point and just add some of the sugar and salt to taste but I wanted mine warm and reduced to a nice thick soup!  Pour blened mixture into a soup pot, add salt and brown sugar and simmer until hot and reduced to your liking.  Stir frequently.  Serves 4

We really enjoyed our dinner!  I was very excited to eat the leftovers for lunch today and it was just as scrumptious!  (and if you're thinking, "Man, I bet that soup would be really good with some sliced avocado thrown in.."  You would be right!!!!  Yummy!) 

Special thank you to my mondo-fabulous friend Ali for helping me with the new blog set-up!  Recipe tab will be filled up soon!  Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!  Oh....and make this soup!!!