Rainbow Chard Tarts (a brief photo essay)

find the recipe for this delicious recipe here although I used the original crust recipe from Elana’s Pantry just adding in the rosemary. I prefer eggs over oil almost always.

spiced pumpkin creme recipe to follow. it needs just a touch of tweaking, but gracious I think it’s going to be my favorite warm dessert.




Papaya Pok Pok

Have you ever stayed with someone you’ve never met before? With someone whom no one in your party has met before? Adventures in Portland.

Portland. The food and the public transportation. The Oregon coast and sunsets over the water. The care for plant and animal and health and sustainability. The rolling farms just outside of the city and the park running through the city. The homemade whiskey (okay maybe this was specific to our experience, but it was wonderful nonetheless). And did I mention the food?

Day 1 we ate at Pok Pok, created by caucasian Thai food Savant Andy Ricker.  Pok Pok offers a very unAmerican Thai, and I mean that in the best possible way. This was my first experience drinking water with pandanaus leaf, which gives the water a slightly toasted/vanilla/rice essence. I loved it. Based on the recommendation of our stranger of a host, I got the namesake salad, Papaya Pok Pok, with sticky rice.

The dish was spicier than I generally prefer, but delicious all the same. The sticky rice you use as a sort of mitten to pick up the food, and this and the spiciness resulted in me consuming quite a bit more rice than is typical. All things in moderation. My mantra. Except, of course, for the things you’re highly allergic to… here abstinence continues to rule.

I digress. Pok Pok was an excellent introduction into a couple days of allergen-friendly foodie heaven.

For a dinner dessert we went to Salt & Straw where I splurged on a scoop of dairy. Dairy is not on my allergen list, merely my I-know-my-body list. I repeat my mantra. Salt & Straw, like many restaurants in Portland, sources ingredients primarily from local farms, creameries, distilleries, and so on. I got the Aquabeet ice cream; a concoction of House Spirit Distillery’s Krogstad Aquavit liquor and sweet red beets (the primary sweetener for the recipe). What a light and delicious flavor.

Sadly I do not have a recipe for the Aquabeet ice cream. Maybe next Summer. But I did find this recipe for Pok Pok, which I modified slightly (of course).

Papaya Pok Pok


1 medium green papaya, peeled and shredded
1 handful cheery tomatoes, halved
1 handful green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1/4 cup agave
1 small jalapeno or other hot green pepper, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tbsp brigg’s liquid aminos
1/2 cup sticky rice


  1. Soak the shredded papaya in cold water to crisp
  2. Prepare the sticky rice like this (or according to package directions)
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, slightly crush the green beans and cherry tomatoes. Set these aside in your serving dish
  4. Thoroughly combine the remaining ingredients, except for the papaya, to create the sauce
  5. Toss the sauce, papaya, and vegetables together to coat
  6. Serve immediately

NOTE: My sauce is significantly thinner due to using agave versus sugar. You could try using liquid stevia to reduce the liquid volume, or you could embrace it like we did, and use sticky rice to sop up the extra sauce.

The flavor of the salad will keep for a couple of days, however the crispness of the papaya will quickly disappear.


ps I had a great time at Peacehaven Farm yesterday!

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Before I get to my post and recipe, I wanted to briefly plug an event happening tomorrow outside of Greensboro. Peacehaven Community Farm is having their Annual Harvest Festival, and it would great to see any local readers out supporting this great nonprofit. Peacehaven “is a sustainable farm located on 89 beautiful acres of organic gardens, rolling pastures, and lush woodlands that connects people with disabilities to their community”. The event is from 4-7pm tomorrow, October 21st. Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more about this event, and the work they do!

I will return to our trip in posts to come, but I wanted to break away to share a super simple recipe I made last week that I am super excited about. For a few reasons.

  1. I fried something (Laugh it up or shake your head, but this happens about once a year. Which is good… all things in moderation)
  2. I did not shop specifically for this recipe; the ingredients are simply things that are consistently in my cupboards and refrigerator.
  3. I LOVE falafel. Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe in Winston-Salem makes my favorite falafel, but most local restaurants use gluten-filled flour in their recipes. I always get the sampler platter at Mooney’s with falafel, fried cauliflower, baba ghanouj, and fettoosh. It is one of my favorite date nights, on the sidewalk with lights in the trees.

This recipe was born out of almost having popcorn for dinner, only to glance at the chickpea flour and know. Know that I was destined for something better than popcorn. Even popcorn with coconut oil. This is what happens about four days out from me going to the market. I never plan out meals further than three days in advance.

Based on this recipe off of the back of the bag of flour, this falafel is simple and quick, with some herbs and such added in that I had on hand. The first time I made this I did not have any canned chickpeas, They were missed, and added into the second version of this recipe, but they weren’t missed so much as to stop me from eating half the batch I made in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have the beans on hand, make it with all flour. I love simple solutions.

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing


1/2 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, processed thoroughly with a blender or food processor
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small shallow, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cumin, ground (fresh ground with a mortar and pestle if possible)
1/4 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup hot water
2-4 tbsp 0live oil for frying


  1. Mix all dry ingredients together until thoroughly combined
  2. Add the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, hot water, onion, shallot, and cilantro to the dry ingredients and stir until combined
  3. Allow mixture to rest for at least ten minutes (this could be a good time to assemble the dressing)
  4. Heat oil in a large saute pan or skillet on medium high heat
  5. Divide batter into twelve even balls and fry on each side until golden brown
  6. Blot off on paper towels and serve hot with vegan tahini yogurt dressing for dipping (see recipe below)

Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing


3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy yogurt (I used soy)
2 tbsp tahini
1 fresh lemon, squeezed
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste


In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the first three ingredients. Season to taste and serve.
Like I said, simple but delicious. Enjoy!

Framer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce

The west coast gets me. Gluten free beer ON TAP. Separate gluten free menus. Explicit knowledge of what is actually in the food I am eating. I have never found wait staff so willing to help find food that I can eat.

It’s nice to feel like someone cares. Like you’re not in this alone. It’s funny how simple gestures can be the most profound.

Our first day in san francisco was exhausting. We walked for miles. I got grumpy (unavoidable when I have inadequate sleep and/or food. In this case both). I was in search of Cafe Gratitude. What we found was Gracias Madre, a sister restaurant, and I didn’t hide the fact that I was pissed. Until we got inside.

We caught the last moments of happy hour, and I was brought a $3 glass of organic sangria, with fruit from a local farm. The farm where they grow ALL of their produce. All organic, all vegan, all sustainable, mostly gluten free goodness. When that sangria hit the table I felt my shoulders relax and my temper settle. I was suddenly home. Because I love mexican food, but generally end up ordering off the a la carte menu, still wondering if I am doing some harm to my body. Not here. Here I was safe in a delicious blanket of nourishment.

This is a long story to say that we returned to Gracias Madre on our last day in San Francisco. It was that good. And I came home on a mission to recreate their seasonal vegetable tacos.

My first attempt, in all humility, was pretty damn good. Jump below the photo for the recipe.

(at Gracias Madre for the second time)


Farmer’s Market Tacos with Cashew Cheese Sauce (dinner for two)

Because I don’t currently have a productive garden I call these Farmer’s Market tacos, as this was the source for my vegetables. Note that this is not a quick meal to prepare, especially if you make the tortillas yourself, which I highly recommend. Each element takes time and attention, but it is well worth it.

The beauty of these tacos, like the rest of the menu at Gracias Madre, is that the vegetables can change with the seasons. Use summer or winter squash, broccoli, different peppers, or even try roasting fruit (peaches, yum!) depending on what season you are in. Keep it simple, and nourishing, and local. Love the food you eat.


6-8 handmade corn tortillas (in lieu of a tortilla press I used two flexible cutting boards and my dutch oven)
6 medium collard leaves sliced into 3-4″ strips
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 small serrano pepper, halved
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ rounds
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cashew cheese sauce (see recipe below)
1 small handful raw pepita (pumpkin) seeds
salsa verde for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 500F
  2. If you haven’t ahead of time, prepare your cashew cheese sauce
  3. Place eggplant on an oiled pan, brush with a coat of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste
  4. Roast eggplant in oven, approximately 5-7 minutes per side
  5. Once eggplant is in, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat
  6. Saute the onion with a bit of salt and pepper in the heated oil
  7. Add the serrano pepper and greens, bring heat down to low and cover, stirring frequently until greens are wilted and tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Don’t forget about the eggplant!
  8. Remove the greens from heat, and discard the serrano pepper. Keep covered until ready to plate
  9. When the eggplant is finished, remove from oven and dice into 1/2″ cubes
  10. In a smaller oiled pan individually heat the corn tortillas


To assemble the tacos, place the heated tortillas flat on large serving plates. Place a small amount of one of the fillings on each tortilla, and drizzle on desired amount of cashew cheese sauce. Sprinkle pepita seeds over the tacos with sauteed greens. Serve with a side of organic refried black beans. Rice could also be served, but we find the tacos and beans to be more than filling. Keep salsa verde and extra cashew cheese sauce on the table with the meal.



Cashew Cheese Sauce (thanks to Cafe Gratitude for the base recipe)


1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)


Place ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for 1 minute. Taste for flavor and texture, and adjust accordingly. I had to blend mine several times before I got away from the grainy texture of the cashews, but I also don’t have the best blender.


I hope you enjoy as much as we did!







Sesame Roasted Vegetables

Did I mention Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea when I posted about Pittsburgh? This great shop resides somewhere in the middle of the strip district. The walls are lined with jars of coffee beans and loose leaf teas. Intense, pungent, fresh. There are coffee roasters in the very back of the shop, the shop actually being named after master roaster John Prestogeorge, but just before these is where we lingered; tea.

As I shared in my about page, we have repurposed our french press to brew loose leaf teas. Joshua gave up coffee with me. He is a good man. In Prestogeorge, I did not flinch nor grimmace walking past the wall of coffee beans. The aroma is still one of my favorites, but feeling healthy is completely worth resisting this once favored beverage. And the tea. Oh, the tea. There were sections of black, white, green, matcha, white, and chai. There were whole cloves, catnip, and orange rinds. There was so much more.

During our first visit, I purchased a couple of ounces of classic chai (this being the morning staple), coconut black, and herbal double mint. Sister purchased a mango green. We returned the day before I left Pittsburgh so I could purchase additional chai, and a mango matcha.

I sit drinking the mango matcha, in perfect contentment. Just a pinch of stevia. Perfect. I bet it would be great iced too in these upcoming warm months. I love that the sun has returned to the evening hours now.

But to the vegetables.

I’ve posted a recipe with roasted vegetables before. I go through seasons where I make them nearly daily. This is a slight divergence from my normal routine. The addition of sesame oil and sesame seeds. A delicate nutty flavor. A whim.


Sesame Roasted Vegetables

1 large handful baby bok choy
1 handful baby carrots
1 can baby corn, drained
1/2 yellow onion, chopped in 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
sesame seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Add oils to the bowl and coat vegetables evenly.
  4. Lay vegetables out on a baking sheet, with minimal overlapping.
  5. Season the vegetables to taste.
  6. Roast for approximately 25 minutes, or until the bok choy leaves crisp, and the other vegetables begin to brown. Turn vegetables every 7-10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve hot.

Serving suggestions: These vegetables could be served over brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles. They would also make a great side dish, or go nicely on a salad.

Oh, and don’t forget to follow me here, on facebook, and on pinterest for more recipes and resources.

Pittsburgh, Polenta, & Simple Curries

I drove up to Pittsburgh this past week to spend some time with my sister, Ali. We love a lot of the same foods, love good conversation, and love each other, so our times together are always lovely. She is really busy, and tends to subsist on apples with peanut butter, protein bars, and frozen vegetables, and so it’s nice to be able to cook for her whenever I visit.

We made broiled polenta with roasted vegetables similar to this recipe, only with tofu and more of a pizza feel like this recipe.

We also made a really simple curry, which I made a repeat of last night back in North Carolina. There is nothing fancy about the curry, just equal parts coconut milk and water, with plenty of spices and vegetables, simmered and served over quinoa. Don’t forget some fresh grated ginger! With Ali, I put broccoli, bok choy, and onion in the curry. With Joshua, I added baby carrots, green beans, and potatos… some of his favorites.

Curry is one of my go-to dinner recipes. It is versatile, leftovers keep well, and it is healthy. I think that especially with food allergies, it is really important to establish staple recipes. Some days I will spend hours looking at new recipes, only to realize I do not have the time to grocery shop. I get discouraged. I just want to eat, and I want to know it is going to be good. Maybe for most people these are the nights they go out to eat… the luxury.

Some great simple staples at my home include curry, nachos, stir fry, hearty salads, and quinoa or rice and beans. And then there is always a protein shake, apple with peanut butter, or soy yogurt with walnuts when it is just me. All so easy, adaptable, nourishing, and quick. What are the recipes you go to in a pinch?

Mayo-Free Egg Salad

Six months ago was the first time I had eaten eggs in years. I thought they made my stomach worse. And I was quite content being vegan.

Cutting out gluten and yeast, and reducing my soy intake (at least a little), meant adding eggs back into my diet. Gluten and yeast show up in numerous vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes. And a girl can only eat beans and legumes so many days in a row.

So now I have welcomed eggs back into my diet, and my body loves it. My favorite way to eat eggs is hardboiled on a large spring greens or spinach salad. This egg salad recipe would be amazing exactly the same way.

I apologize for the lack of photograph. I made the egg salad as part of my preparation for a party. Time got the best of me and I was changing out of my yoga pants as my guests walked through the door, photo opportunity lost. Next time I make it, I will be sure to capture the sunny yellow hue next to the deep greens oranges and reds of a good varied salad. Promise.

Mayonnaise has never been my condiment of choice, so there was no grieving process over its loss when I cut out vinegar. Where mayonnaise would normally reside, here there is a combination of unsweetened soy yogurt, olive oil, and lemon juice. I promise you won’t notice or mind.

Ingredients: to feed a gathering
12 hardboiled eggs, chopped
8 tbsp unsweetened soy yogurt
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ground mustard seed
several pinches of salt, to taste
several dashes of black peppers, to taste
1/4 tsp yellow curry powder, with turmeric


  1. combine all of the ingredients, except for the eggs
  2. gently mix in the eggs until all of the ingredients are thoroughly integrated
  3. serve chilled

This would be great on a salad, with carrot sticks, or on toast.


Thai Style Fresh Spring Rolls

This past weekend, we had a get together to celebrate my graduation from University. It was a lot of fun! And I felt a lot of love, because as I looked down the appetizer line, I could eat everything on that counter. There was mayo-free egg salad, roasted vegetable dip, hummus, fruit salad, pico de gallo, and fresh spring rolls. I’m a lucky lady.

The spring rolls were the hit of the night. I sent my dad the recipe, and he put them together that afternoon. Because they were the success of the evening, I thought I would share the recipe with you here.

Fresh spring rolls are quite diverse. A variety of vegetables and proteins can be added to taste, this is just a base recipe. I like browned tofu, and extra basil in mine. Countless sauces can be used for dipping. They’re great in peanut dressing, or a simple combination of Brigg’s liquid aminos, sesame oil, and lime juice.

rice paper (available at any asian/international market)
1/2 cup of bean sprouts
1/3 cup green cabbage, thinly chopped
3-4 green onions, chopped
2/3 cup precooked rice vermicelli
1/3 cup carrots, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
fresh basil and cilantro, chopped, to taste
1 tbsp. Brigg’s liquid aminos
2 tbsp. lime juice
fresh grated ginger to taste


  1. toss all of the ingredients, except for the rice paper and noodles, together in a bowl
  2. submerge each rice paper in hot water for several seconds until the paper softens and becomes pliable
  3. place a small amount of the noodles, and 2-3 tbsp. of the vegetable mixture, onto the rice paper
  4. fold like a burrito and serve fresh

Dinner Party Nachos

Today is Joshua’s birthday. We had a sleepy morning, logically enough followed by a lazy afternoon. I am sipping on some hot green tea with Kombucha and listening to Blind Pilot. We want snow.

Our friends David and Noemi came over for dinner this past week. In life before food allergies, I would make dough and set out a variety of toppings for people to make personal pizzas. It was perfect. But life changes and we have to adapt. Sadly, gluten-free yeast-free pizza dough is not yet something I’ve mastered, although I have tried. So instead, now, we make nachos.

It’s the same concept as the pizzas. We make or buy tortilla chips, chop fresh vegetables, reheat leftover quinoa, and ready a number of other toppings. The toppings change based upon what’s in the refrigerator. This was what we had this past Thursday.

Homemade guacamole
Beans from leftover chili (black and navy)
Leftover quinoa
Fresh roasted red and poblano peppers
TVP (equal parts tvp and water, browned and seasoned to taste)
Spinach and lettuce
Tomatoes and onions
Fresh cilantro
Cheese (for those who can partake)

To roast the peppers, I simply coated them lightly with canola oil, and placed them in the oven with the broiler on. I checked every four or five minutes to see if they needed to be turned, and took them out when the skin started to blacken.

My plate usually starts with more spinach than chips. Thursday this got covered by a generous portion of guacamole, some of the roasted red peppers, tvp and quinoa, and finally a little salsa. Perfect.

And never doubt that great company makes good food that much better.

Spinach & Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells

It’s easy to get into a food rut. Even without food allergies. For most of this week I ate the same breakfast, lunch, and dinner consistently. Life gets busy, and I begin to miss the ease of pre-packaged dinners.

Which makes me miss the recent cruise I took with my family. On the ship, our dinner hostess Jurga took incredible measures to ensure I had a three-course dinner with a dessert every night, and whatever I wanted for breakfast and lunch. If you have food allergies, cruise Carnival.

Missing the cruise made me miss my sisters.

Back to yesterday.

Saturday was a sleepy day spent in pajamas, editing photoshop files for an old teacher, and searching for something new to eat. I needed to shake off the monotony of the week. Stuffed shells were a meal made often by my grandmother growing up. Before yesterday, however, I had not given much thought to trying to recreate the dish. Then I stumbled upon Tinkyada’s gluten-free pasta shells. Unfortunately I found them because they were on the discontinued shelf at Earth Fare. Damn. But I believe Whole Foods carries them, and if not, you can always order them online. Their lasagna noodles are also excellent.

The recipe that follows was inspired by about seven online recipes, and a bit of creativity. I wasn’t looking to go super bold or out of the box. I wanted classic. There are many renditions to follow I am sure. It was made and eaten with Bon Iver and Jill Andrews playing in the background. There was also candlelight involved.

And it passed the husband test. Joshua will have one serving of just about anything I make. When he has three, I know we’ve found a new staple recipe.

Spinach & Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells (for two really hungry people)

1/2 box Tinkyada gluten-free pasta shells
Tofu Ricotta (recipe follows)
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup frozen broccoli, thawed and mashed
Jar of your favorite pasta sauce (Arrabiata is delicious and spicy, watch for sugar)
Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet, mozzarella-style, shredded (NOTE: watch for yeast in vegan cheeses)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
  3. While pasta is cooking, assemble the tofu ricotta (recipe follows).
  4. Combine the tofu ricotta, frozen spinach, and broccoli.
  5. Drain the pasta, and rinse quickly with water to make it easier to handle.
  6. Stuff the shells with the spinach mixture.
  7. Cover the bottom of a 9″x9″ baking dish with sauce (a dutch oven works well).
  8. Place the shells carefully in the dish, and cover with sauce.
  9. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake an additional 5-8 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately.

Tofu Ricotta

7 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed in a cheese cloth or paper towels and crumbled
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried basil
dash of nutmeg
red pepper flakes (to taste)

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the food processor a couple of seconds at a time, stopping to stir frequently. You want a crumbly but consistent mixture, but nothing too creamy.

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