Mashed Cauliflower

By Shannon February 22, 2014 Food

Cauliflower has been getting a lot of press lately with people on paleo diets or those who don’t want to eat a lot of carbohydrates.  I particularly don’t like the taste of cauliflower, but it is really healthy, so this is one of the few ways that I can eat it **hint hint– good for fooling your kids.**

Cauliflower has a lot of nutritious benefits – it has antioxidants, fiber, and helps with inflammation.  It is definitely one of the vegetables I like to include in my son’s diet.

I love the creamy texture of mashed potatoes and a friend suggested I mash cauliflower in the same way. Really. That sounded like a great way to add this cruciferous vegetable to our diet, especially since my son loves cauliflower, and most of the time I just give it to him steamed in a California blend.

Allergy Free Mashed Cauliflower

Allergy Free Mashed Cauliflower

For this recipe, I steamed an entire head of cauliflower for about 15 minutes.  I added chicken broth, onion powder and salt.  This is just a basic recipe, but there are so many other add-ins to use.  For example, add in some roasted garlic and rosemary.  Or try cracked black peppercorn, chives and French Fines Herbs.

If you want the cauliflower really light and fluffy, use the whip attachment for your blender, otherwise, use the paddle attachment.  I blended the cauliflower on medium for about 2 minutes, then high about 5 minutes to get a nice whipped texture.

Mashed Cauliflower
Recipe type: Vegetables
Serves: 4
An easy basic recipe that uses cauliflower instead of potatoes to create a light and creamy blend
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance Soy Free Spread*
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • *has pea protein in it. If you are allergic to legumes, you may omit this and add in extra stock
  1. Steam the cauliflower until soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower to a medium mixing bowl and mashed for about one-two minutes until completely smashed.
  3. Add in the chicken broth, butter spread and onion powder.
  4. Whip the ingredients for about 5 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy



Easy Allergy Free Guacamole

By Shannon February 21, 2014 Appetizers

Avocado is on my son’s list of foods that he must eat.  He is underweight, so avocados provide a healthy amount of good fat.  Guacamole is one of the few foods that I know he’ll eat.  Avocados are high in the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene, so coupled with the good fat, I am glad that I am giving him something healthy that will help with his condition.

I like smashing up the avocado so that there are still a few large chunks in it, but if you like it smoother, use a masher and then mix it up until creamy and smooth.

Allergy Free Guacamole

Easy Allergy Free Guacamole

This recipe is really easy and tasty.  Feel free to spice it up by adding some chile powder or smoky chipotle peppers.  This is just a basic recipe, so you can pretty much add in whatever you want, or just eat it as is.  You can also use it to top chicken, steak or hamburgers.  Yum!

Easy Allergy Free Guacamole
Recipe type: Appetizer or Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Quick and easy refreshing guacamole recipe
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Peel avocado and remove pits
  2. Chop tomato into bite size pieces
  3. Chop onion
  4. In large mixing bowl, add the avocado and smash into small pieces
  5. Add tomato and onion and stir to mix
  6. Add lime juice and salt, continue to mix until smooth



Swiss Chard with Leek and Garlic

By Shannon February 20, 2014 Food

Have you ever been in the grocery store and seen that large green leafy vegetable with the bright red stem and wondered, who eats that? I wonder how you cook it? Well, look no further! That vegetable is Swiss Chard.  Swiss Chard is a member of the same family as spinach, beet and quinoa.  It is high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, so it’s very good for you!

Swiss Chard, Leek and Garlic

Swiss Chard is bitter to me, so I usually like mixing it up with other vegetables.  A perfect combination for me is leek and garlic.  You could substitute the leek for chive or onion if you don’t have any leeks.  What I love about leeks though is that they always give a wonderful sweet taste to everything and typically complement well with other vegetables.  Leeks are also nutritious – they contain the Vitamin B folate, which helps lesson the amount of concentration of homocysteine in the blood; they help protect the lining of your blood vessels because they contain a flavonoid called kaempferol; they  are high in antioxidants; they help decrease the risk of inflammation and are also high in other vitamins and nutrients.  Leeks are grown in sand, so make sure that you pull apart the outer leaves and wash them really well. You could also wash the chopped pieces when you are finished chopping if you feel any grit.

I love this recipe because it is easy and packed with so much goodness. I hope that you enjoy!

Swiss Chard, Leek and Garlic
Recipe type: Vegetables
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
The bitterness of Swiss Chard is complemented by the sweet taste of leek and soft bite of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large leaves of Swiss Chard
  • 1 leek, stem only
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  1. Slice garlic lengthwise into large slices, then cut those slices in half
  2. Chop off the long green leaves of the leek, then slice the stem into ¼" slices
  3. Cut the end off the Swiss Chard and then chop the leaves into large pieces
  4. Add the oil to a large pan and heat on medium low
  5. Add the leek and garlic to the pan, and sauté until all of the garlic and leek are well coated with oil for about two minutes
  6. Add the Swiss Chard.
  7. Continue to sauté on medium low until the Swiss Chard is wilted, about five - seven minutes.


Chewy Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

By Shannon February 19, 2014 Desserts

My son has never experienced the joy of biting into a thick and chewy oatmeal raisin cookie fresh out of the oven.  As such, I wanted to develop a recipe for these scrumptious cookies for him so that he could have that experience.  I also wanted to create a cookie that is somewhat healthy, and we don’t feel so guilty eating one, or two, or three…

The two basic flours in this recipe are white rice and sweet sorghum.  Sweet sorghum gives the cookies that nice golden hue.  Sorghum provides these cookies protein, fiber, and antioxidants.  Since the flours are a bit different than in traditional baking, I’ve also included an instruction to roll the dough and flatten into a cookie pre-baking.  I tried the “heaping tablespoon” method and ended up with blobs of cookies which were more like scones instead of the flatter ones.  Flattening them out a bit also gives the chocolate some room to spread out when it melts.  So delicious!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Applesauce is used as a substitute for eggs, and also provides moisture to the dough.  It might seem strange to be using applesauce at first, especially when creaming with the spread in the beginning if you are used to traditional baking.  I’ve included 1 1/4 cup of it to provide a nice moistness to the cookies, but if you want a more crispy cookie, use less.


Chewy Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip Cookies




4 tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Spread, softened*

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/4 cup applesauce

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sweet white sorghum flour

1 cup stone ground white flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinammon

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

1/3 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips**



1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the spread, sugar, applesauce and vanilla until smooth using the paddle attachment.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.

4. Stir the flour mixture into the spread/sugar mixture.

5. Stir in the oats, raisins and chocolate chips.

6. Spoon out a heaping teaspoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball.

7. Flatten the ball down to about 1/2” to 1” thick, depending on how thick you want your cookies.

8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until the outside edges are golden, and the insides are still a bit gooey.


*This spread has a minimal amount of pea protein, so if you are allergic to legumes, you may use coconut spread as a substitute

**Enjoy Life chocolate chips are manufactured in a facility that is free of wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and soy.

Quinoa, Millet and Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

By Shannon February 13, 2014 Entrees

Stuffed peppers are one of those comfort foods that remind you of home.  At least they do for me.  They are so easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time and cooked when you get home from work.  The recipe I developed below contains both millet and quinoa, so you are getting whole grain nutrients in lieu of starchy rice.  Both of these grains add a unique flavor, and coupled with the ground turkey, you end up with a savory and sweet complete meal.


Quinoa, Millet and Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

© 2014


Serves 4



1 pound ground turkey

1/2 cup leek, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic

1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 cup millet, cooked

salt and pepper to taste

4 large green bell peppers



1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease baking sheet large enough for all four peppers.

2. Prepare quinoa and millet according to package directions.

3. Place ground turkey in medium skillet pan and cook on medium low for two minutes using a wooden spatula.

4.  In the meantime, chop the leek and garlic.

5. Add the leek to the ground turkey, stirring it into the raw meat.   This helps to infuse the flavor of the leek into the meat.  Brown for two minutes, then add the garlic, stirring to combine.  While stirring the turkey, use the spatula to break up any big pieces. Cook the turkey until no longer pink. Remove from heat and let slightly cool.

6.  Wash the peppers and cut the tops off, about 1/4″ from the top.  Remove the seeds and ribs.

7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, quinoa and millet until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8. Spoon the mixture into the peppers, placing the tops back on when full.

9. Bake peppers for 20 minutes.

Allergy Free Quinoa, Millet and Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers before baking


© 2014

Quinoa Bruschetta with Polenta

By Shannon February 12, 2014 Appetizers

I love the versatility of a bruschetta.  You can pretty much make a bruschetta out of anything if you are wanting to combine flavors, and especially works for those on a restricted diet who want to branch out into experimenting with flavors and textures.  Additionally, bruschetta lends itself to being coupled with another versatile ingredient that is also wheat free – polenta.


I wanted to create an appealing appetizer that I could happily serve at a fancy dinner party or a fun night with friends that is completely allergy free and vegan.  I had some leftover quinoa, so I measured out a cup.  I always have the makings of an Italian feast in my kitchen as well as my one of my favorites, leeks.  I decided to experiment, chopping up colored peppers, tomato, leeks, and fresh oregano and basil.  What came out of this experiment was amazing. A nice, slight crunch from the polenta, as well as a symphony of flavor from the combination of leek, tomato and fresh herbs, as well as the slightly nutty flavor of the quinoa.


Allergy Free Quinoa Bruschetta with Polenta


This recipe can also be served as a quick snack, or even a light meal.  This is something that I would take for lunch, as it’s easily transported and heated up.  Additionally, it is satisfying and nutritious.  I love the complementing textures of this dish, from the crunchy outside of the polenta, to the slightly grainy quinoa, and accented by the soft tomatoes and leeks.


This appetizer is one of those that takes about 40 minutes to prepare if the quinoa needs to be cooked.  Otherwise, if you have some on hand, it will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the polenta.  A good note here—make sure you wash the quinoa well before you prepare it.  If you are making the quinoa specifically for this dish and have some left over, you may use it as a substitute for rice in any of your other rice dishes.


Quinoa Bruschetta with Polenta



Serves 14 as 1/2″ slices



1 (24 oz) roll of polenta

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 medium tomato

1/2 cup leek, chopped

3 mini colored bell peppers, 1 each orange, yellow and red

1 1/2 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Aged Red Wine Vinegar



1. Preheat the oven to 350°.  Oil baking sheet.

2. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

3. Dice tomato and chop leek, bell peppers, Italian parsley, oregano and basil.

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the quinoa and the chopped ingredients until well mixed.

5. Add the olive oil and vinegar.  Stir until combined.

6. Cut the polenta into 1/2″ slices and place onto baking sheet.

7. Top polenta slices with about 1 tablespoon of the quinoa mixture.

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the polenta is slightly crispy.


Barley and Millet Summer Salad

By Shannon February 11, 2014 Food


I love summer, and everything that comes with it.  Warm sunny days, flip flops and refreshing food.  I love the tastes of summer, too, which remind me of the beach and my home, Florida.  In summer, we’re always looking for light foods to help beat the heat. Here’s a summer salad that is packed with nutrition that will leave you experiencing the invigorating taste of summer.


Barley and Millet Summer Salad

© 2014



1 1/2 cups barley, cooked

1 cup millet, cooked

1 small cucumber

3 mini peppers, 1 each red, yellow and orange

1 small jicama

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt



1. Cook the barley and millet according to package directions.

2. Peel and chop the cucumber into bite size pieces.

3. Wash and remove seeds from peppers.  Finely chop.

4. Cut about 1/4 piece of the jicama, reserve the rest.  Finely chop.

5. In a small mixing bowl, combine the barley and millet.  Stir.

6. Add cucumbers, peppers, jicama and cilantro to barley and millet mixture, stirring until well combined.

7. Add lime juice and salt, stirring until well combined.


© 2014

Crock Pot Pork Loin with Apples

By Shannon February 11, 2014 Crock Pot

Some days do you feel overwhelmed that you are too busy to make a home cooked meal? I know I have those days, too.  I am a big fan of crock pot recipes, and this is one of my all-time go to recipes when I know I won’t have time to cook.  I love this recipe because it is so versatile, and you can pretty much serve the pork with any side dish.  This pork is flavorful, and the combination of seasonings will remind you of hot apple cider on a crisp fall day.  Leftovers are great for sandwiches, too.


Crock Pot Pork Loin with Apples and Roasted Potatoes with Balsamic and Dill

Crock Pot Pork Loin with Apples and Roasted Potatoes with Balsamic and Dill

Crock Pot Pork Loin with Apples

© 2014



1 pound whole pork tenderloin

½ teaspoon meat tenderizer

4 cloves of garlic

½ teaspoon ground rosemary

½ teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium apple

1 small onion

1 large carrot

2 cups apple juice


  1. Wash and pat dry pork.
  2. Sprinkle pork on both sides with tenderizer and let rest.
  3. Slice the garlic cloves lengthwise into ¼” slices.
  4. Make 1” cuts in the pork and stuff with garlic cloves, spreading them out, approximately 3-4 on each side.   Place the remaining slices in the crock pot.
  5. Season the pork with the rosemary, onion powder, salt and pepper on each side.  After sprinkling the seasoning on, rub the seasoning on the meat.
  6. Place the pork in the crock pot.
  7. Cut the apple into quarter slices and place in the crock pot.
  8. Slice the onion into rings and place in the crock pot.
  9. Cut the carrot into ½” pieces and place in crock pot.
  10. Add the apple juice.
  11. If you are in a rush: Cook on high for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.  If you have all day, cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is tender.


Variations: You can substitute the apple juice for apple cider, hard apple cider (the alcohol will burn off), or apple juice/grape juice combination.

You can also add in 1/2 cup sauerkraut, or substitute the apple for pear.

Alternative Whole Grains

By Shannon February 11, 2014 Food

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

If you are eating gluten-free or are allergic to wheat, you know how difficult it is to find products that do not contain wheat.  In fact, the American diet is primarily based upon wheat products. But, do not be dismayed as there are several ancient grains that may be used in lieu of wheat.  Most of these grains have been around for centuries, and only in the past 20 years have they become more mainstream in the United States.  Unfortunately, they were mostly found in specialty stores in previous years, but now you can find these wonderful grains in the major grocery chains in the organic section.  All of these grains have wonderful nutritional properties, and provide many health benefits. What are some of these ancient grains, and how can you cook them? Let’s take a look….



ID-100133673 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

Millet is actually a variety of small seed grasses featuring a myriad of colors and is a staple food of the Far East.  Although in the United States it is typically the main ingredient of bird seed, it is actually one of the world’s most important grains.  Millet is very nutritious, and contains protein, B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and is also high in fiber.  It is easily digestible and tolerated by those with food sensitivities.


Millet can be prepared in a variety of ways.  Cooked millet can be made the same way as rice and used as a substitute for rice.  It can also can be eaten as a porridge.  Additionally, it may be substituted for potatoes, or added to vegetables.




Image courtesy of Stoonn/

Most people in the US have never heard of sorghum, much less know how to prepare it.  Sorghum is another cereal grain from a variety of grasses like millet, and is the fifth most important grain in the world.  It is a staple food of the East and Africa, but is primarily used for livestock feed in the US.  Sorghum is similar in nutrition content to maize, but some specialty sorghums can be high in antioxidants and phytonutrients, and may help prevent cancer as well as regulate blood sugar.


Sorghum flour is a perfect substitute for baking gluten-free, and is high in protein, iron and fiber.  It has a mild sweet flavor and smooth texture, and can be used in recipes that call for traditional wheat flour.  Sorghum may also be served popped, or as a porridge.




The ancient grain of the Incas, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is cultivated for its seeds and belongs to the same family as that of spinach, Swiss chard, and beets. Quinoa boasts a high nutritional value, as it is high in antioxidant phytonutrients, monounsaturated fat, manganese, copper, phosphorous, zinc, folate, and fiber, and still even provides a smaller amount of omega-3 fatty acid. Additionally, quinoa is also a complete protein.  Quinoa is becoming increasingly popular in the United States because of its health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar, as well as having a high amount of anti-inflammatory nutrients.  The United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa.”


Quinoa may be used as a substitute for dishes that call for rice, barley or rye.  Quinoa is prepared in the same way as rice, and is typically ready within 15-20 minutes.




Image courtesy of Kibsri/

The ancient staple of the Aztecs, amaranth is not a grain, but actually a combination of several species of amaranths flowers.  Like quinoa, amaranth is a complete protein, and it is the only grain that contains Vitamin C.  It is also a good source of Vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Its health benefits include lowering cholesterol and reducing blood sugar.


Amaranth can be prepared in several ways using the green leafy part or the seeds.  The seeds can be popped, or made into a porridge, like millet.  Additionally, amaranth flour can be used as a substitute for wheat in baking.




Image courtesy of Apolonia/

Popular in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, buckwheat is a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel, and not at all related to wheat. Its seeds are similar to those of sunflowers and wheat kernels, but with a triangular shape.  Buckwheat has several health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and blood pressure since it contains the antioxidant rutin as well as aiding in regulating blood sugar and preventing gallstones.  Buckwheat is typically sold as roasted (kasha), un-roasted, or as flour.


Buckwheat flour is perfect for baking, pancakes, waffles, and muffins.  Buckwheat can also be prepared as a porridge for breakfast. Buckwheat can be used as a substitute for wheat, barley, rye or oats.

Creamy Vanilla Millet Pudding

By Shannon February 5, 2014 Desserts

Want a nice warm dessert, but don’t want a lot of starch? Try this creamy vanilla millet rice pudding.  Millet is not just for the birds! Millet is such a wonderful grain that can often be substituted for wheat or rice.  It is starchy, and similar to wheat, but it is gluten free.  This recipe is perfect for those who want a lot of flavor without a lot of starch.  It totally reminds me of being a kid.

Creamy Vanilla Millet Pudding

© 2014

Serves 4



1 cup uncooked millet (yields 2 ½ cups cooked)

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups vanilla rice milk, divided

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup applesauce

¾ cup raisins

¼ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg



  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot.
  2. Add 1 cup millet and cinnamon stick.  Cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. In a clean pot, combine cooked millet, cinnamon stick, 2 ½ cups rice milk, and salt.
  4. Cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes until thick and creamy, stirring every once in a while.
  5. Stir in remaining rice milk, applesauce and raisins, and cook for approximately 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

© 2014


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