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.
A bean-free hummus that’s pretty enough to be a work of art? Say what? No seriously, this cauliflower hummus features roasted beets and garlic and it’s about to take your snack game to a whole new level!
After years of working on healing my gut, dealing with a parasite and unhappy gut bacteria, among other things, I am proud to say that my gut and my digestion has never ever been better, I don’t date say that I am cured and everything is perfect, but I feel incredible and that is absolutely something to celebrate.
You may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet over here. I have been working on a few bigger projects that are taking up most of my time, but given the current state of the world, I have also needed to just take a big step back, where I can.
It’s strange to feel that I simultaneously have so very much to say, so so much, yet I am constantly finding myself at a loss for words. Dumbfounded. Instead of being glued to my computer and my phone, rather than refreshing my social media feeds minute after minute, I have instead chosen self care and comfort. I’ve chosen to march and to focus on action. I have surrounded myself with others feeling equally as devastated and at a loss, but also very fueled to do something about it. I have been volunteering my time and donating my dollars. I have been cooking for comfort and love rather than just for work. Serving others and nourishing myself. These are the things I can control and while the world is feeling increasingly more out of control, I find myself wanting to focus inward first, to take care of myself, then find ways I can use my voice, my power and my passion in my local community to help how there I can, as well.
Truth me told, the loaded fries and the chicken wings, those are more my husband’s football food. He begs and pleads for junk food on football Sundays, so I have always caved by simply recreating the classics for him, but in a healthier way. It’s a good deal for both of us. Me, I am a bit more uppity when it comes to what I want in a party spread. Give me an epic charcuterie or crudités platter, a little homemade roasted red pepper and feta dip, some tasty, fresh homemade salsa and chips (I reach for the plantain chips these days), a simple, but flavorful chili, the best darn gluten-free soft pretzel bites or these…tasty, crispy salmon cakes!
These Grain-free Salmon Cakes with Old Bay Aioli may seem a more fancy option at your Super Bowl spread, compared to the chips, fries or wings, but don’t let these fool you. They are whipped up in a mere minutes and they are the perfect small bite, party food. A little crispy on the outside with a soft, fluffy, perfect interior. Do not, I repeat do not skip out on the Old Bay Aioli. It’s a must here.
Though salmon cakes aren’t a food I grew up eating, these are comfort food to me. They are totally fuss-free, so they actually make for a very simple weeknight meal or a quick lunch or brunch, even. We almost always have canned salmon on hand, but this recipe is also great for leftover cooked salmon, as well. I love these served over a mixed baby greens salad, but they make an amazing appetizer, as well. Make the patties even bigger and go for more of a burger vibe, if you’d like.
Today is a special one, I decided to create a second version of the Spicy Orange Sriracha Chicken Wings that I am also sharing here today, but swapping in veggies for the meat. Let it be known that I hate putting food words in quotes. It’s stupid. I will acknowledge this. But… sometimes it’s the only option. Cauliflower does in fact NOT have wings. I’m aware of this. Maybe if you fed it Red Bull, but otherwise no. OK. Not funny. Sorry. I digress, there really isn’t a good name for these. “Cauli-wings” is tempting, but let’s just be real, I don’t think this is a good choice if we’re talking SEO, google and keywords, do people even use that term? Blah blah. So here we are, another blog post with quotes. I’m rolling with it.
It may seem odd to be sharing, on the same day, a chicken wing recipe, along with a matching cauliflower “wing” recipe. But here’s the reality, I freakin’ LOVE vegetables you guys. They make my soul happy, they make my belly sing and if you are asking me, they are just always the best choice. I’ll eat the heck out of a chicken wing, don’t get me wrong, but if I can have a real-food veggie option, I want that,
tooinstead! Read the rest of this entry »
It’s Super Bowl week and according to my hubby, it’s illegal to celebrate the big game without chicken wings! I grew up in Buffalo, spent more than 30 years there and Mark spent the better part of 10 years living there, so we know a thing or two about good chicken wings. In those parts, they make their appearance at nearly every gathering, party, get together and special occasion. That said, traditional Buffalo-Style chicken wings, while always good, we’ve been there, done that. It was time to mix things up a bit. I know what my husband likes so I created this recipe with him in mind, while for me and my love of veggies, I made a second, even less traditional version, with cauliflower, which you can grab here: Spicy Orange Sriracha Cauliflower “Wings”.
After making several batches of my honey-sweetened orange marmalade this past week, I was inspired to continue creating with it, we have more than enough of it and it’s so delicious I want to put it on everything! This sticky, finger-licking good wing sauce, combines the sweet, tartness of the homemade orange marmalade with the heat from Sriracha! Now that’s a winning team. Read the rest of this entry »
The thing about being a mindful eater, about being aware of every single thing that you put into your face, for those of us who take the time to truly learn about food – is that it’s really hard to un-know what you discover as you dig deeper. While I truly believe that knowledge is power, if you allow it, that knowledge it can overpower and it can consume you. Back to that magical word you are probably sick of hearing from me, but here it is again. Balance. Aligning your knowledge and your intuition with the real world, being around other people, holidays and special occasions. It isn’t easy, but it’s totally possible.
As I continue on in school, the Nutritional Therapy Program with the NTA, I learn more and more every day. My eyes are opened and I can, in vulnerable times, find myself being fearful of food in a way that I never have before. Questioning food, where it is sourced from, the foods used in restaurants, etc., these have all been a very integrate part of my life these past 10 years, but now I truly feel like I am interrogating the wait staff at most restaurants. At times, I can see how dietary changes, strict protocols, elimination diets, etc – how they can breed disordered eating, if we aren’t careful. I know all of this will settle as I become more at comfortable with the new bits I am learning, but mostly I know I can always fall back into my old trusted way of knowing… that homemade is always better. When you make it yourself, you can always be certain you know what you are eating and you don’t have to fear the food you consume. When you want to veer off and indulge a little, you can do it without the guilt and without the worry.
This week, as I take on the Super Bowl, I encourage you to think out of the box, literally and make what you can, yourself. Swap in real foods and trust that updating a recipe to be a little bit healthier will likely be well-received by everyone else, if you are smart about it. This week, I am bringing you homemade, healthier, but still a little naughty, snacks, treats and bites. Because after all, a football party is not a football party without some good ‘ol fashioned finger food.
French fries of any and every kind, those are my true weakness. My Achilles heel. My Kryptonite. Take away all the candy, cookies, cakes and breads, I don’t care, but don’t take my fries! We’ve spent a fair amount time in school discussing fats and oils and learning that most restaurants, when frying, are using hydrogenated or worse, trans fat oils. Unless a restaurant makes their fries in a high quality fat, suitable for high heat, these days I just have to pass. It’s not easy, but it’s also not worth it. I make my consessions where I can, but I am no longer willing to do so here.
I am so excited to be guest posting on Better Home and Garden’s Delish Dish today sharing an updated version of their classic recipe for Crab Cakes – adapted to be gluten-free!
When looking through the archives of BHG recipes, looking for the perfect one to recreate for their Week of Gluten-free, I was instantly excited when I saw the crab cakes recipe. Crab cakes are something that I really only get to have if I make them myself, which means in 10 years, I have probably had crab cakes a total of 3 times. At most restaurants they add flour or breadcrumbs or some sort of gluten-containing binding agent, which means this is always a big fat NO WAY, for me.
With all the chatter of Super Bowl parties and finger foods and my new meat-free diet, I had near instant cravings for crab cakes while planning the menu for our Super Bowl shindig. Whether they make the cut for the final menu or not, I had to make a batch to test out this updated recipe (DARN!).
I am back home from our trip to California, we landed late last night and I am feeling insanely invigorated. We spent nearly a week out there, exploring neighborhoods and all the different towns, we went to the beach, we celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary at Disneyland and fell even more in love with everything Southern California has to offer! This was the trip we needed to light that fire under our behinds to get the last few things done before we get our house on the market here in Buffalo and move out west! It is looking like our new home is going be in Long Beach, in a quaint little neighborhood by the beach. We cannot wait to start seriously looking for a house and to get this party started!
We are headed back to California in less than 2 short months for our good friends’ Patrick and Summer’s wedding, so who knows, maybe even by then we will have sold the house and be ready to start the whole process. I really hope so.
Ever since we decided to move out there, I told myself that given we would be living somewhere that has beautiful weather all year long, that I was going to be way more active outdoors. I want to get into running and biking as part of my weekly fitness routine, since both feel like a wonderful compliment to my daily yoga practice. Rather than waiting to get out there to start anew with so many things, I decided on the plane ride home that I was going to get started right away, particularly with the running since I have never really given it a serious shot. I have always found running to be painful and not my favorite way to sneak in exercise. But, the more I have read about running and getting started on a serious plan, it is best to ease your body into it and not try to do too much, too soon, which is probably what I have always done. So, I am going to take advantage of the beautiful spring and summer weather here in Western New York and start my training now, so I can hopefully just hit the ground running (pun intended) whenever we finally get out to the west coast.
Tonight is my first run, I have a good pair of Nike+ running shoes that I bought years ago and only ever wore to the gym, I have a couple of iPhone apps downloaded to help me properly ease into running, so they can tell me when and how I should be running and walking and for how long. I even have a running partner, my hubby, who is ready to get back into running himself. Now, the only thing I have to fear is my annoying low back issues. I tend to keep that all at bay with yoga and an incredible chiropractor, but I am a bit concerned on how the running will affect my back. I have a herniated disc in my low back that is known to cause me issues now and again and from what I have read about running, the pressure and the shock from it can sometimes be a bit hard on that type of injury. Here’s hoping I have strengthened my core and stretched my muscles enough from yoga, that my body can handle it. I really want it to work for me since running seems like the perfect compliment to my lifestyle, especially when we will be living so close to the beach.
My plan, if running and my body can agree on it, is to continue with my daily yoga practice, and getting to at least five 90-minute yoga classes a week, and now adding in 3 days of running. So, every day I will have some type of physical activity going on and on only a couple of days will I have to manage getting to the yoga studio and squeezing in a run, too. Even though yoga doesn’t always have to be a 90-minute thing, I really do prefer to have a practice that is that long and I really enjoy going to the studio. I practice at home on occasion, but I find since I work at home, it can be hard to focus on yoga and not get distracted by everything else around me. That is one thing about running I think I am most drawn to, the change of scenery, being outside and engulfed by nature and the elements and being in control of when, where and how it happens. As long as the weather cooperates and there is a safe and somewhat smooth surface, it seems like you can run virtually anywhere.
Do you like running? Have any tips for someone that is just getting started?
OK, so onto the dip… I made this dip this afternoon as a light snack. With us being gone for a week, I couldn’t wait to get home and get back to eating foods that I prepared. The food is the only downside to traveling for me, eating unprocessed foods that are gluten-free and as often as I can find, also vegetarian, can get a bit tricky when you are away. I did the very best I could and found so many great options, but I still ate so much different than I would ever eat at home. I debated doing a juice cleanse for a couple days after returning home, but with me wanting to start training for running, I didn’t think both were such a good idea, so I decided to start the running and just eat extra light this week. Now that our local farmers market is open for the season, I will definitely be stocking up there on Saturday and doing a lot of juices, smoothies and salads this week. This morning, I made a version of my banana almond butter smoothie for breakfast, adding in a scoop of ground flaxseeds and a scoop of cocoa powder and it kept me full all day. About 3:30pm I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since the smoothie and I had cleaned the whole house and totally unpacked my suitcase. I decided I would make a simple mid-afternoon snack and a creamy white bean dip was calling my name. The bold flavors from the Indian spices were so perfect and subtle and the garlic gave it all a great punch. The white beans made for an incredibly smooth and creamy dip that was delicious on some gluten-free crackers. I wish we had some fresh raw veggies, those would also be great in this dip. That is the other bad thing about traveling, coming home to an empty fridge. If you don’t love garam masala, substitute some yellow curry or another one of your favorite spices. If the heat from the garam masala and the raw garlic is enough, skip the chili powder.
I will check back in tomorrow with a new recipe and to let you know how the running went this evening.
[print_this]Creamy Indian-Spiced White Bean Dip – Gluten-free + Vegan
makes about 1 cup of dip
- 1 can white beans
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- dash of chili
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and very roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Add of the ingredients, except the olive oil, to the food processor. Start pureeing and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running, until it is all added. Puree the dip until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator and serve chilled. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
As I mentioned in my last post, for my Creamy Dairy-Free Spinach Dip, I have really been enjoying cooking and baking without dairy. In addition to cooking without processed foods and gluten, it has been a fun and rewarding challenge. However, it is definitely one thing to just be cooking at home for myself and my hubby, but coming up with some fun and unique snacks to share with other people that can eat both gluten and dairy, can be a bit harder. I never ever want someone that is eating my food to feel like they are eating a weirdo diet food or some sort of concoction that only someone that hasn’t had gluten in over 7 years, would love.
When coming up with snack ideas for our little Super Bowl get together, I wanted something everyone could love that was light but still satisfying and with my dips I really wanted to challenge myself to create creamy but without the dairy. In the past, I definitely would have enjoyed some of the healthy snacks that others or likely myself made, but then, of course, indulging a bit in the inevitable cheese that would be there in some capacity. Using the excuse of a holiday or special occasion to eat more cheese than normal sounds all well and good, until you have a terrible cheese-induced tummy-ache later because you have all but cut out dairy in your every day life.
So I came across a version of this recipe on my Pinterest travels and it looked super creamy and delicious, I decided to add in the roasted red peppers because they pack some incredible flavors that I thought would pair very well with the eggplant! The original recipe was just the eggplant and it had a bit more olive oil, the photo I saw with the recipe made it look so insanely creamy, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t any dairy in it. So after making this my way, I am actually looking forward to trying this dip again, the original way, to see which I prefer.
This dip is smooth and creamy and has a bright, almost tart flavor from the roasted red pepper. I really love how the peppery spice from the oregano works with all of the different elements. Feel free to play around with different spices and/or herbs to get this to the flavors you love. The original recipe called for thyme, you could also add in some red pepper flakes or other spices that you love.
I served this dip with a bunch of fresh raw veggies like baby carrots, celery, radishes, bell peppers, etc as well as some crackers. This dip would also make a great spread to put on sandwiches, eggs, even on top of a salad, pasta, etc.
[print_this]Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Dip (gluten-free and vegan)
Adapted from Body+Soul Magazine, July/August 2010
3 medium eggplant (about 4 pounds), halved the long way
4 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped (roast the peppers yourself or jarred will work too)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Arrange the eggplant cut side up on a baking sheet. Make slits in eggplant and insert garlic . Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven; let stand until cool, about 20 minutes.
Scoop the flesh of the eggplant into a food processor. Add roasted red peppers, oregano, 1 tablespoon oil, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Pulse to combine with salt and pepper, to taste. Will keep refrigerated up to 3 days. Serve with crackers, fresh vegetables or crostini.