Category: Food

As an individual with a severe dairy allergy and a wheat/gluten sensitivity, I understand the difficulties those with special diets face on a daily basis. This section was created to share some of my food experiments and favorite recipes. All recipes are gluten-free and plant-based.

Two gluten-free vegan meals on the go

Two gluten-free vegan meals on the go

A while back, Bradley and I decided to start planning our dinner meals out on Sundays. This helped us to limit buying grocery items to those necessary for the planned meals, thereby saving some money, and also saved us a lot of time because I knew ahead of time what I would be preparing that evening.

Unfortunately, life seemed to go from busy to hectic in the last few weeks, and we have failed to maintain the weekly meal plan. We both get off of work late, which means by the time we get home, prepare and eat dinner, it is already dark and difficult to go do errands (as some stores close early). We feel rushed and frazzled, but we refuse to spend unnecessary amounts of money to eat out.

So I have been trying to find some fast fixes for meals on the go.

Classic soup and grilled cheese sandwich

For those who do not have to avoid gluten and dairy, your options are limitless. You can make soup from scratch or used canned soup. For those of us vegan and gluten-free, our options a little more challenging. Here is how I do it:

  • 2 slices your favorite bread (I used a gluten-free bread)
  • use a vegan spread such as Earth Balance (I prefer the organic coconut spread for sandwiches)
  • favorite vegan cheese (I prefer Daiya‘s slices and use one slice of cheddar and one slice of swiss together)

For those who want to mix things up, try topping your grilled cheese with spices (garlic powder, parsley, and crushed red pepper are my go-to sandwich spices). I also like to take the sandwich up a notch to Grilled Cheese Burger by adding a Sunshine Burger patty, sliced onions, tomato, and dill pickles. It is DELICIOUS! (And more filling.)

For soups, if I am in a hurry, I will use a canned lentil soup. If I have time or prepared it ahead, I will make my own lentil soup, butternut squash soup, Fresh Tomato Soup or, my absolute favorite soup of all time, Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings.

Fresh Veggie Tacos

The other day we needed to eat something quickly and I was craving vegetables. So I quickly diced up whatever veggies were on hand and sauteed them, popped open a can of refried beans, and make these delicious fresh veggie tacos (or burritos!).

  • Olive oil
  • diced onion
  • diced bell pepper
  • cut brussel sprouts
  • cut zucchini squash
  • cut yellow squash
  • frozen butternut squash cubes (thawed)
  • frozen spinach (thawed)
  • shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • 1 can refried beans (vegetarian, low fat/sodium)
  • optional: Vegan Chicken-free Strips (thawed)
  • favorite salsa (I used roast garlic salsa)
  • taco shells, tortillas, tostada… whatever you want (I used GF tortillas and Bradley used hard shell tacos)

Warm up refried beans separately and add more seasoning (cumin, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, salt, etc.) if needed. Thaw the frozen butternut squash cubes and spinach in the microwave. (I do mine for about 2 minutes at 70 or 80 percent power). Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a heating pan, swirl it around to coat the bottom of pan. Add onions, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and brussel sprouts. (Optional: add your thawed chicken-free strips either as strips or cut into cubes.) Toss to coat. Add salt and other seasonings to taste. Cook on medium to medium-high. When the veggies are almost to the right texture for you (you may prefer your veggies cooked lightly or cooked more), add the butternut squash and spinach. Mix well.

When the food is done, assemble your tacos, burritos, or tostadas. Start with a generous amount of refried beans, add your veggie mixture, and top with the shredded cabbage/lettuce and salsa. Bradley was so impressed with his three hard-shell tacos, that he went back and used up the last of our beans and veggies to make himself a burrito with a flour tortilla. I pilled my beans and veggies on top of a GF tortilla made from brown rice that does not roll with tearing, so it was kind of like a giant tostada.

Tonight is another night where we need to eat fast. I am thinking about doing a variation of the Fresh Veggie Tacos but using sweet potatoes instead of butternut squash and black beans instead of refried beans. I’ll probably cook the potatoes in the microwave and mash them a little with a fork. I also have a gluten-free vegan taco “meat” that I will cook up really quickly in a pan with onions, garlic, and whatever other vegetables I have on hand.

Nothing like delicious ratatouille

Nothing like delicious ratatouille

I had never had ratatouille before, but while organizing my DVDs, I happened upon Pixar’s Ratatouille. I was reminded by how delicious the dish looked. Granted, it was an animated movie. However, the idea to try my hand at making a similar dish pestered me for two days. Today on my lunch break, I did a search of the the internet for a ratatouille recipe.

Now, traditional ratatouille is a stew and I don’t like stews (I am not a big fan of eggplant, either), so what I was looking for was the pretty version featured in Pixar’s movie. I found what I was looking for over at SmittenKitchen with her amazing Ratatouille’s ratatouille recipe.

Smitten Kitchen's ratatouille
Smitten Kitchen’s beautiful and delicious ratatouille. (Mine was not as pretty.) Try the recipe!

I think I put a little more tomato puree at the bottom of my dish then the instructions say because after it was done, some of the sauce had seeped up over the veggies along the sides. I used a circular dish, not an oval, and foil on top instead of the recommended parchment paper. I

was also quite generous with the seasoning, mixing in salt, peppercorn medley, garlic and onion powders, and parsley into the sauce at the bottom and sprinkled on top (with a nice sprinkle of thyme on top). I used about half of a regular-sized eggplant and about 2/3 of a zucchini and a yellow squash, but I guess that just depends on how big your dish is. Since I was testing out this recipe and feeding a family of one, I used my smallest oven dish.

The ratatouille smelled so good when I took it out of the oven, and it tasted DELICIOUS on top of some rice. Best of all, it is naturally vegan and gluten-free! So whether or not you (and/or your guests) follow a specific diet or have any food allergies, this is fantastic dish to serve. A perfect wintery dish that makes you feel good with the first bite, yet surprisingly healthy.

Eggplant… who knew it could actually be prepared in a way that was not only edible but delicious?