When it comes to entertaining, boards are the ultimate in wow factor without a ton of fuss. More specifically I am a HUGE fan of cheese and meat boards. Selfishly when entertaining, since I prefer to avoid grains and greasy chips and snacks, cheese and charcuterie boards offer a great, pretty low maintenance way for me to have everything that I want, while still making all of my guests happy.
My cheese and charcuterie boards are generally focused around being totally grain-free and then depending on my guests, I will often have a generous pile of toasted crostini, that I serve to the side, separately for the non gluten-free or grain-free folks. I simple arrange sliced crostini in a single layer on a cookie sheet, brush both sides with olive oil and toss under the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Add a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s the fastest way to lots of toast.
Follow along for all of my tips on How-to Build an Epic Grain-free Cheese and Charcuterie Board.
It only seems fair after the rash of sweets recipes that has filled this website over the last week, to give you a solid savory recipe. Seeing as savory, salty and crunchy are definitely my personal, crave-worthy foods. These 4-ingredient Grain-free Everything Bagel Crackers are my everything, this is my kind of snacking!
The amount of options for gluten-free crackers in the snack aisle at the grocery store is kind of mind-blowing to me. I still remember what it was like 12 years ago when I first shifted to a gluten-free diet. There was absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Now there are far too many options, but the problem still exists, as it does with most processed and packaged foods, vetting the ingredients. Trying to find an option that isn’t highly processed and loaded with strange ingredients, it’s just damn near impossible.
Since we have been here in California I have really been getting back to my roots of making all of my own foods, right down to breads and dips, etc. I sometimes hate the extra time to make things I can buy at the store, but the quality is unmatched and the same goes for the health benefits. When you are making your foods from scratch, there are no unknown ingredients, no preservatives or other junk. Just good clean food.
It is hard to remember why you do it, when your life gets busy and the packaged food is glaring at you from the aisles of the store, with “wonderful” health claims like gluten-free, organic, all natural, non-gmo, etc. But remember this doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have strange, unknown ingredients in it, still.
I was craving a snack the other day and didn’t want hummus again, but I wanted something similar but sans bean. This creamy spread is thick, still a tad bit chunky (depending on how long you process), and served best with crackers or fresh vegetables as a dip. It is also great spread on a slice of toast or fresh bread, or added to steamed veggies, pasta, rice, quinoa or other grain. It is perfect in a wrap or on a veggie burger and really nice in place of mayo or mustard on your favorite sandwich or in place of mayo in tuna (or mock tuna) salad.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup raw organic almonds, soaked overnight* OR 2 cups of leftover almond pulp (without vanilla or sweetener)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice (from appox 1/2 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 3 teaspoons liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle (or whatever herb or spice you prefer)
- sea salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup of water (you may or may not need this, and it may be less – you won’t need this if using almond pulp)
Optional add-ins to change the flavor profile:
- Spices like chipotle or smoked paprika.
- Fresh herbs like rosemary, cilantro, mint , basil, etc
- Vegetables like roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, jalapeños
- Try roasting an entire bulb of garlic and adding that.
- The possibilities are endless.
You can really have fun with this dip and make it however you want. Add in whatever you’d like, make combinations. Just make it your own, the base stays the same, you can just tweak the recipe as you see fit. My three favorite flavors personally are chipotle, rosemary and roasted garlic.
Place all ingredients in your food processor and pulse just until chunky. You can either continue blending for a smoother spread, or stop while there are still little chunks of almonds. I like it to where it isn’t totally smooth and creamy and a tad bit of the nuttiness comes through. You may want to drizzle in a little water if it seems like it is too thick or chunky, use your own judgment.
*soaking the almonds is important to making this dip creamy, otherwise you would end up with almond butter if you processed it long enough.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, or just a wonderful weekend if you are outside of the US. We had a very busy one, filled with so much fun, great friends and my amazing family! Short of being away on vacation, I don’t know if I have ever had that much fun, that many days in a row. Some of the highlights of those 5 days was a super relaxing Thursday night massage after work at my good friend Erika’s newly opened place here in Buffalo, Phoenix Rising and a nice dinner at Trattoria Aroma with my hubby. Friday night after work we had dinner with some of my absolute most favorite people at La Tee Da in Allentown. Saturday, after yoga I took my first trip to the farmers market of the season with my friend Dana, my sister Vicky and my niece Teagan. Then Mark and I had a little cookout at home in the evening. Sunday morning, I woke up early to take a trip, with some very lovely ladies, to Rochester to take two yoga classes in a row taught by our friend Lyndsey at Breathe Yoga. In June, she is moving to Africa for 6 months to teach yoga, so I am so glad we were able to see her before she left. Sunday night there was a super fun and chill Memorial Day party at our friend Sarah and Brian’s and we got to spend time with some of my favorite people. Monday we were able to beat the insane heat with with a super fun afternoon pool party at our good friends, Karen and Vinnie’s house, which was so relaxing. After a few hours in the pool with sun beating down on us, we followed it up with a nice weekend-ending BBQ and some super quality hang time with my parents, my sisters and my niece and nephew! Seriously it was non-stop awesome.
So yeh, I am not sure anyone besides me will even read that last paragraph, but I was on such a happiness high all weekend, that I had to share. We usually spend this time of year traveling for work or getting ready to hit the road, that I forgot how amazing this time of year can be. For once, going back to work yesterday after a 3-day weekend, was a little bit challenging, normally I cannot wait to get back to it all. It is so rare that we allow ourselves that time away from our work, but we decided with our pending move, that we wanted to enjoy our time here as much as we could! However, since we had so much going on and it was insanely hot, I also decided to not worry to much about cooking or baking over the weekend. When we were actually home, we threw veggies or some of our local meat on the grill and we ate out on the patio. It was really nice and super simple.
I did find time to pull together a really tasty Mexican quinoa salad to take to our friends BBQ, which I will have to make again so I can share it with all of you. I also made these simple crackers for snacking. I grabbed a copy of LA Yoga Magazine when we were out in California a few weeks ago and they had a simple recipe for some chickpea crackers that intrigued me. I wanted to add some things to the crackers to really make them my own, so I added some red pepper flakes, because I love spicy thing and I also added some fresh chives from my garden. These crackers are great on their own, or even better with some salsa, hummus or whatever your favorite dip is. You could even crumble these up a bit and use them as a topping on a salad. I am calling my crackers “rustic”, because they weren’t perfect little squares like I am sure they should be. I kinda dislike perfection with food. I want my food to look like someone made it with their hands and lots of love. Besides, it was so insanely hot in the kitchen when I was making these that I didn’t have the patience to be meticulous. If you want fun little shapes, like animals, stars or triangles, you could use small cookie cutters or cut any other shapes with your hands.
These crackers would be great for a snack or even better, package them up in little zip lock bags as a perfect travel snack. You could play around with different spices and herbs, maybe adding things like small diced up sun dried tomatoes, etc.
[print_this]Spicy Chickpea Crackers with Chives – Gluten-free + Vegan
adapted from LA Yoga Magazine, May 2012
makes about 40 crackers
- 1 cup sifted chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add as much or as little as you’d like or leave this out, if you don’t want the heat)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-4 tablespoons water (you may need more)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.
Combine the flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder, sea salt, red pepper flakes and chives in a medium sized bowl. While stirring, add the olive oil to the flour mixture, then begin adding the water 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough forms that can hold together. Knead the dough several times until smooth and firm, adding more flour or more water, as needed. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the rested dough in half. Place one of the halves on a clean work surface that is dusted with chickpea flour. Flatten the dough a bit with the palm of your hand and sprinkle the top with more chickpea flour. Using a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour, roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch squares, or whatever your desired shape, and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining dough. Before baking, prick the tops of the squares with the tines of a fork to prevent them from blistering and bubbling up as they bake. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let the crackers cool on the sheet. As they cool, they will become crisp. (Test one after it cools. If it isn’t crisp, return the pan to the oven for a few more minutes.) Store in an airtight container up to a week. [/print_this]