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.

De Motte Rice

De Motte Rice

Taking in the view of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. 2015.
Taking in the view of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. 2015.

On our recent trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I created my very own, brand new rice dish that is fast and easy enough for camping and delicious enough for a regular meal at home.

I named it De Motte Rice, in honor of the campground in the Kaibab National Forest where it was invented. With basically three ingredients and some seasoning to taste, this is a quick and easy recipe ideal for camping but can also be enjoyed at home.

De Motte Rice by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan

Ingredients

3 cups pre-cooked brown rice (we used Minute Instant Brown Rice)
1 can of lentil soup (we used Progresso Vegetable Classics 99% Fat Free Lentil Soup, 19 oz)
1 can of diced green chiles, 4 oz, medium (we used Ortega)
Sea Salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Salsa/Taco Bell sauce (optional)

Instructions

Mix pre-cooked brown rice, lentil soup, and green chiles in a pan. If camping, cook over an open fire. If at home, cook on medium-high. Add salt, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste. Stir often to prevent sticking. Cook until hot. Add either Taco Bell sauce packets or salsa if desired. Serve hot.

Servings: 4


Allergy Warning

Please check all ingredients for possible allergens before preparing for someone with a food allergy.

You can easily double (or triple) the recipe to feed more hungry mouths. I will probably make this for our next Pathfinder camping trip. If the medium green chiles are too spicy, use mild; however, the medium gives just the right amount of “kick” to the food. I think we accidentally used hot with ours and it was a little too spicy. Be generous with the seasonings; even when you are camping, food should have great flavor!

Perhaps it was the almost 9,000 foot elevation, the exhilarating hike we took that evening, or the cold night air, but both Bradley and I scarfed this rice dish down. There was none left! Camping is great fun, but due to my food allergies, I am always worrying if I will get enough to eat. This dish was perfect, simple, and tasty. This dish, packed with protein and fiber, really helped us get our energy back. Bradley loved it, and he is not gluten-free OR vegan OR that fond of rice!

Tips for campers:

  • Use a cast iron skillet if possible for best results (and a little extra iron in your diet!).
  • Pair with hotdogs roasted over an open fire. For the gluten-free vegans, LightLife’s Smartdogs cook up great.

 

The gourmet version
If you want to transform this quick and easy camping dish into something a little more fancy for a dinner at home, you can use homemade lentil soup, delicious Jasmine brown rice cooked in vegetable broth, mix in a dollup of Follow Your Heart Veganaise or Toffutti Better Than Cream Cheese, sprinkle with fresh parsley, and top with freshly made pico de gallo. It will taste delicious!

Five bean sweet potato chili

Five bean sweet potato chili

This last weekend our church’s Pathfinder Club held a fundraising event, a Pioneer Festival. It was a fun mixture of a fall festival with stations for the Pathfinders to earn and/or demonstrate various parts of the Pioneering Honor. Some of the stations included corn husk doll making, butter making, and more. We also had plenty of games like Tic-Tac-Pumpkin, tug-of-war, three-legged race, needle in a haystack (a large crochet needle) and hayride.

As for food and refreshments there was old fashion lemonade, popcorn, cornbread, three different types of chili, and funnel cakes.

I made one of the chili and was pleasantly surprised with the amount that was eaten. I was a bit nervous as I had never made this chili before, but I have to say that it was delicious! (It could have used a tad more sea salt, but I did not want to make it too salty for those guests who are watching their sodium intake.)

I decided to share my original recipe here with you.

Five Bean Sweet Potato Chili by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan

Ingredients

1 can kidney beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can black beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can pinto beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can white/navy beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (preferred organic and no salt)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (28oz)
1 can tomato paste (6oz)
1 can of green chiles (4oz)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 bell peppers
1 medium-to-large sweet potato
1 medium-to-large yellow/sweet onion
Sea Salt
Cumin
Chili powder
Paprika

Instructions

Chop the fresh vegetables (onion, bell peppers, and sweet potato) in large chunks.

Open, drain and rinse the five cans of beans and add beans to your crockpot. Rinse quinoa well in a very fine strainer and add to crockpot. Open the other cans (tomatoes, tomato paste, green chilis) and the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot. Add your spices (sea salt, cumin, chili powder and paprika) and stir until all ingredients are well mixed.

Cook chili on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

Servings: A lot! You will have leftovers so enjoy your chili over the course of a week. Leftovers can be put in freezer-safe containers and frozen.


Allergy Warning

Please check all ingredients for possible allergens before preparing for someone with a food allergy or sensitivity.

The nice thing about chili is that you can so easily substitute ingredients to meet your personal taste preferences or to accommodate many food sensitivities/allergies. I intentionally avoided gluten and corn, though the canned tomatoes and chiles do contain citric acid that can be derived from corn so the chili is not guaranteed corn-free.

If I were to use fresh tomatoes and chiles instead (I had considered it but decided to save a little money), then the chili would have definitely been corn-free. If you truly want to know exactly what is in the chili, you could use dry beans instead of can, but be sure to soak them thoroughly overnight and rinse well before cooking.

I had not thought about putting a sweet potato or quinoa in chili before, but I saw both used in two different chili recipes online when I was doing a little researching, and being the daring person that I am, I decided to use both. Also, the bell peppers I used were orange so the finished chili looked quite beautiful and delicious with the bright orange of the peppers and sweet potato chunks. There were numerous compliments on the chili.

Chili is the perfect food for the crockpot. You can cook the chili on low over night or while you are at work or on high for a few hours earlier in the day and serve nice and hot for dinner.

When the chili is served, you can add more sea salt to taste and/or top with your favorite chili toppings. I like putting chili on a cup of brown rice and topping with a sprinkle of vegan cheese. Enjoy!

Quick Fried Rice

Quick Fried Rice

Have you ever had those days where you do not feel like spending time preparing a lavish meal? I would like to share with you a very quick dish you can whip up in five minutes and it tastes delicious!

The trick with this meal is that you need to have at least 1 cup of rice already prepared, because the rice is the foundation of this dish. If you are preparing this dish for more than one person, it is best to do a ratio of 1 cup of rice per person. This dish also works great if you have some frozen vegetables or pre-cut fresh vegetables.

Quick Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pre-cooked rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1-2 cup frozen or pre-cut fresh vegetables (however much makes it look “balanced”)
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (GF)
  • Favorite seasonings: salt, garlic powder, italian blend, basil

If your rice is cold, add a teaspoon or two of water and microwave for 40 seconds. Heat your olive or grapeseed oil in a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir. Microwave frozen vegetables for 40 seconds to 1 minute, depending upon the strength of your microwave. Add to rice and stir. Add your favorite seasonings, the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or your choice of soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari), and the optional gluten-free hot sauce. Cook until vegetables are tender. Stir often to prevent food from sticking to the pan. You may have to adjust your heat. If food starts to stick, add a dash of water. When it is hot and the vegetables are of the texture you like (hard, lightly steamed, or soft), move contains to a bowl, at a dash of salt, and enjoy!

Bonus: Eat your quick fried rice with chopsticks! 😉

Really, this dish is so simple, you can add WHATEVER you like, and it cooks up fast! The frozen or fresh vegetables can be anything you have on hand. I have used frozen peas and carrots; fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots; leftover sauteed veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, etc.); even brussel sprouts and onions! I have also added leftover tofu, black beans, baby spinach leaves, fresh basil, etc. Quick fried rice is a superb choice for a fast lunch or a lazy dinner!

To make this dish healthier, use brown rice instead of white, switch out rice for quinoa, or try using less oil or replace the oil with water. Want to add a hint of Thai to your fried rice? Mix in spoonful of peanut butter with a little coconut spread or coconut milk!

Also, due to the growing number of food allergies and sensitivities, you can easily substitute ingredients you (and your family) can eat without worry. Gluten-free? Use a GF sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce! Corn allergy? Skip the baby corn! Nut allergy? Just don’t put them in!

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?