Mexican Style Quinoa Salad

 A while ago, my cousin made a delicious quinoa salad and this is a take on that. It’s a good recipe to play around with, as ingredients can be added and taken away without changing the integrity of the dish. Try adding grilled zucchini or asparagus, roasted red pepper, or diced tofu. I’d also be interested to know how this one tastes with the addition of fresh mint.

This is a really simple and healthy lunch or dinner. It’s also great as a side or served at a party. Thanks, Kelly, for the idea!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup canned corn, drained

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 small red onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste

1 avocado sliced

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, toss corn, black beans, jalapeno, olives, grape tomatoes, and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, cider vinegar, canola oil, chile powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt.

3. When quinoa has cooked, add to the salad mixture. Add the dressing and toss. Top with sliced avocado immediately before serving.

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Gluten Free Vegan Carob Cupcakes

carob cupcakes 3These cupcakes are a new favorite. In the words of The Moosewood Cookbook: “Carob is carob.  Chocolate is chocolate…Let carob be itself — its genuine, sweet, subtle self. You will discover it to have a charm and character of its own.” Since Moosewood has been in my family for years — given to me by my mom, pages curdled and stained from from spills,  others stuck together — I trust that Moosewood is probably right. Carob deserves to stand on its own as a worthy ingredient, and not just as a chocolate substitute. Personally, I love it. And I love chocolate as well. But since this is a site for people with food allergies, if you can’t have chocolate, these are an indulgence worthy of taking the chocolate cupcake’s place — even if carob is carob, and chocolate is chocolate.  

A quick note on coconut cream (used in the frosting): You can find it in the baking aisle of health food stores (I bought mine at Whole Foods), usually next to the shredded coconut. It’s kind of like natural peanut butter in the sense that, at room temperature, the solid separates from the liquid. When it’s cold, it completely hardens. I suggest warming the package in a bowl of warm water before using, if the cream is completely solid. When using in this recipe, you want to use, for the most part, the solid part of the coconut cream. This is what will allow the frosting to harden and form a nice glaze over the cupcakes.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Gluten Free Vegan Carob Cupcakes:

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon carob powder (not sweetened)

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 banana, mashed

Sugar Free, Dairy Free Carob Frosting:

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coconut cream (the solid part)

1/4 cup carob powder (not sweetened)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

1. Prepare frosting at least an hour or two before using so that frosting can chill and harden. To prepare, blend all ingredients in a blender. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

2. Preheat oven to 325.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat coconut milk, agave, canola oil, vanilla and banana on high. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until incorporated.

4. Fill cupcake tins with liners and add batter a little more than 3/4 of the way to the top of each liner. Bake for 12 minutes, rotate cupcake tin 180 degrees, and bake for another ten minutes. Cupcakes may be a little soft to the touch when you take them out, but they will harden a little more as they cool. Allow to cool five minutes in tins, then on a rack. When cupcakes have completely cooled, frost using about a tablespoon of frosting at first. Add more as needed and spread evenly over the top of the cupcake. This is not a fluffly frosting, but more of a glaze.

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Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos

For a really long time, I was hesitant to prepare stuffed poblanos for the sheer dread of having to go through the process of charring, peeling and seeding each and every one. How tedious! Imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered a large can of already prepared poblanos at Whole Foods one day. One problem: they tasted awful. It was immediately clear that the earthy, smoky poblano was just not meant to be canned. How shameful I am to admit I tried to take such an amateurish shortcut! The moral of the story is take the extra 15-20 minutes to prepare the poblanos from scratch. I have also stuffed them without the added steps, but they are much more easily digested and enjoyed after being roasted and peeled.

These stuffed poblanos are tasty, vegan, and packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. You could prepare them in advance and refrigerate. Bake later for a dinner party that will unite the health-conscious with the taste-conscious. I especially love the interplay between the hot, smoky chipotle and the sweet and surprising pumpkin.

If you’re wondering what to do with the extra canned pumpkin you will have lying around after making this, here are a few ideas: blend with extra firm silken tofu, agave, cinnamon and nutmeg for a tasty pumpkin mousse; freeze in a zipper bag for later use; or, as Woodley would suggest, store it in the refrigerator for a few days and give to your dog with meals. It helps their digestion, and my — albeit very unpicky — dog loves it.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 poblano peppers

1 cup cooked quinoa

2/3 cup corn kernels (fresh if possible)

2/3 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup Spanish olives, sliced

1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle in adobo, PLUS 1 chipotle pepper, minced (Casa Fiesta brand contains no added sugar)

3/4 teaspoon salt

Mashed avocado with lime juice and salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Rub poblanos in olive oil and broil in baking dish or flat baking sheet for a little over ten minutes, turning occasionally to char all sides evenly. Once poblanos have charred, place in a large dish or bowl and cover with cellophane to steam. Set aside.

2. Set oven to 350.

3. Prepare filling by mixing remaining ingredients, minus the optional avocado mixture. Taste a little and adjust salt to taste. You may also add more adobo sauce or chipotle if you like more spiciness. Keep in mind that the poblanos will add some spice as well. Make sure pumpkin is well combined. Set aside.

4. Remove cellophane and rub poblanos to remove skin. It’s o.k. to leave a little on, but the majority of the skin should be removed. Using a sharp knife, make a slit down the length of the poblano on one side. Using a spoon, gently remove seeds from inside. Generously stuff poblanos with quinoa mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes to heat through. Serve alongside avocado mashed with a little salt and lime juice, if desired.

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Raspberry Almond Muffins

food 035These are wonderfully light and nutty. The almond meal in this recipe adds a nice depth of flavor while lightening up the batter. Trader Joes’ almond meal is pretty reasonably priced and can be used in a variety of baked goods. I like to put it in my smoothies in the morning as well for some extra flavor and protein. The added step of running the flours through the food processor will make the flours less course. You may also use brown rice flour if you wish. 

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal

1 cup  rice flour (either white or brown)

1/2 cup potato starch

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon arrowroot

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup agave nectar

1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Place flours in a food processor and pulse 10 times. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and whisk with remaining dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat agave, canola oil, coconut milk, vanilla and zest on high until smooth. Change setting to low and slowly add flour until fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Finally, fold in the raspberries carefully using a spatula. Fill muffin tin with liners and place about a 1/4 cup mixture into each cup. Batter should make about 12 muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean.

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Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is one of my favorite all-time soups, so it’s a good thing this one is so easy to prepare, making it the perfect go-to weeknight dinner. While you could use dry beans and soak them overnight as I have done in the past (not to mention cook them for a few hours after that), I find I’m much less likely to make a soup that requires so much preparation. The first time I made this using canned beans, it took less than 30 minutes to prepare and was just as delicious. Now it’s hard for me to go back to how I was making it before.

For those concerned about BPA in the lining of canned goods, Eden Foods uses all BPA-free cans. I also heard a rumor that Trader Joe’s canned beans (though not all of their canned goods) are BPA-free as well.

You can top this yummy soup with a number of toppings. I’ve had a recent obsession with vegan sour cream, so I used some of that, along with tortilla chips and some avocado. Other possible toppings might include a pico de gallo, diced onions, or even fried plantains (as I’ve done in the past). This soup reheats nicely as well, making it an inexpensive, healthy dinner to last you through the week.

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

2 jalapenos, minced

2 medium red bell peppers, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon agave nectar or yacon syrup

1/4 cup  tomato paste

3 cans black beans, drained (not rinsed), plus 3 tablespoons liquid from can

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Toppings:

tortilla chips

vegan sour cream

sliced avocado

Directions:

1. To a large pot or Dutch Oven, add onions, peppers and oil. Saute on medium-high for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic, agave or yacon syrup, cumin and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add beans and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 5.

2. Using an immersion blender (or transfering soup in small increments to a blender jar), blend until smooth. Stir in red wine and cider vinegar. Add salt to taste (I used just a small pinch — but you may need more depending on the saltiness of your tomato paste and vegetable broth). Serve immediately with desired toppings.

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Gluten Free Carrot Orange Cupcakes

006When I was younger, one of my favorite desserts was my grandma’s — which then became my mom’s — famous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It was dense and sweet and tasty, yet incredibly loaded with vitamin packed carrots. My take on the dessert is a little less carrot-heavy, but the absence of sugar and butter and the addition of whole grains makes these cupcakes a not-so-guilty pleasure nonetheless.

I know it may seem like a lot of ingredients, but if you already do a lot of gluten-free cooking or baking, you will likely have many of the items already on hand. Plus, many of the ingredients for the cake are used in the frosting as well. As a final note, I really like to use Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour for baking because it tends to produce a less gritty final product. If you are working with what seems like a grittier flour, try throwing it in the food processor for about 30 seconds for a finer texture.

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour

3/4 cup white rice flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp flax seed meal

1 tsp xanthan gum

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tsp orange zest

1 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup hot water

1 medium apple, peeled and grated

1 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the orange juice and zest, agave nectar, canola oil and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add the hot water. Fold in the apple, carrot and coconut. Do not overmix.

Line muffin tins with baking cups and fill each cup about halfway with the batter. Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool. Then top with vanilla orange frosting. Recipe follows.

Vanilla orange frosting:

2/3 cup light coconut milk

1/4 cup white rice flour

2 tbsp orange juice

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 tbsp arrowroot

2 tsp orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

Whisk rice flour and coconut milk and heat in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slowly stir until milk has thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend with remaining ingredients. If using coconut oil and your oil has hardened, place it in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes until it liquifies before adding to the blender. Chill for at least an hour.

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