Tag: food

6 Gluten-free vegan snacks

6 Gluten-free vegan snacks

Being a gluten-free vegan means that quite a few go to snacks, even healthy ones, are not an option for me. I cannot eat gluten nor dairy due to allergies, and I am also a very picky eater when it comes to flavors and textures. Trying to find a go to snack that is healthy, fills me up is not always easy, and satisfies cravings is not always easy. So here are some of my favorite snacks, in no particular order.

Disclaimer: I have found the following snacks work with my diet and food allergies; however, this is not a guarantee that others, who may be more sensitive to these allergens or allergic to other ingredients (corn, soy, nuts, etc.), will not have a reaction. Always carefully read the ingredients before purchasing any product.

Bobo’s Oat Bars

bobos A few months ago, one of the restaurants on campus, called Engrained, held an Earth Day fair with a wide variety of displays. There was everything from a game picking litter out of a tub to “save” the little rubber duckies, to planting your own basil seeds to grabbing free healthy food samples. That was when I discovered the amazingly moist, absolutely delicious, and quite filling Bobo’s Oat Bars. Since then, the campus store has also sold them either as individual bars or in boxes of five “bites”. A bite is half the size of a bar, and I actually prefer the bites.

Strangely enough, I usually have a hard time eating oats, but these little bites: I love them! They are great for a mid-afternoon snack or even a substitute for lunch on a busy day (supplemented with a banana and apple). I have only tried the original, but there are quite a few flavors to choose from. They may be small, but they are surprisingly filling. I also feel great after eating them, which I cannot say about a lot of pre-packaged items.

South Beach Diet Gluten-Free Chewy Nut Bars: Chocolate Chip

ChocolateChunkChewyNut The reason I love shopping at the 99 Cent Store is that you never know what usually expensive food items they may have. A few months ago, and a few times since, a store near me has had boxes of the South Beach Diet Gluten-Free Chewy Nut Bars, chocolate chip flavor. I tried them at first as a quick snack for a camping trip we were about to go on, and since then I have tried to keep at least one box of twelve in my cabinet at all times. I do not eat them often, but they are fabulous snacks to take on a hike or camping or when I know I might need a light afternoon snack to hold me over until dinner.

Though it is chocolate chip, it is completely dairy-free! This means I can get just a taste of chocolate, which is extremely rare for me these days. They are so yummy that just the other day, I caught Bradley eating one of these instead of one of his usual granola bars.

Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes

lundbergricecakes Perhaps my absolute favorite snack on this list, I love Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes. Rice cakes are great snacks, either alone or with peanut butter on top. I try to keep a package of these in my office, and I love to take them on road trips. On our second honeymoon last summer to the Redwoods, brown rice cakes, peanut butter, and honey were life-savers for someone who cannot always find allergy-friendly food at restaurants or when your hotel has no microwave so you can prepare your own safe meal. There were a few days that I pretty much survived off these and some brown rice/lentil soup mix I heated up in a tiny cockpot warmer using the car’s battery while we drove. It was an adventure, a fantastic trip, but I definitely lost weight.

I have heard many people say negative things about rice cakes in general, but for me personally Lundberg’s brand is quite delicious. For those who do not like the taste of plain or lightly salted rice cakes, they also have a wide variety of flavors. So far, I have tried both the mochi sweet and the koku seaweed, though the slightly salt brown rice is still my favorite of all.

Nice! Whole Cashews (roasted)

nice-cashews I am not the biggest nut fan, but two kinds I particularly love are almonds and cashews. I prefer my nuts whole, roasted and lightly salted with sea salt. Most nuts are just too salty or oily for me. Nice! Whole Cashews (roasted) lightly salted with sea salt from Walgreens are a tad expensive for a small bag, but they are quite tasty. The perfect balance of roasted and a dash of sea salt. For someone like me who does not eat nuts a lot, it is worth having in my office stash for a quick snack.

Hummus

sabrahummus I absolutely adore hummus, and I can remember the very first time I had it. My family and I were driving across the United States along I-40 and we were starving. We stopped at a Walmart right off the interstate, grabbed hot bread from the bakery (this was before I stopped eating gluten) and a container of creamy Sabra hummus. It was delicious and I have been hooked ever since. I have gotten my husband and a few friends hooked on hummus, too!

I enjoy homemade hummus but often do not have the time to make it. We also buy a different brand of hummus from the 99 Cent Store, but Sabra is still my favorite brand due to the creamy texture and the lack of a tahini after taste. (Often times, I find other brands use too much tahini and I actually do not care for that heavy tahini taste.) There are plenty of different flavors, but our favorites are: roasted red pepper, pine nut, and garden herb. Hummus is fantastic on toast, on artisan style bread, pretzels, tortilla chips, or even plain potato chips! As I cannot eat bread and I’m limiting corn, I usually eat it with veggie sticks, potato chips, or Beanitos.

Beanitos

beanitos Speaking of, my absolute favorite chip is Beanitos, made from beans and allergy friendly. These bags are usually quite expensive so I tend to be very disciplined when enjoying them. (Alas, it is heart-breaking, but I manage to survive.) Imagine my delight when I found a whole bunch of the Black Bean Beanitos at the 99 Cent Store. I stocked up on a six month’s supply (limiting myself to just one bag a week)! Sadly, my stockpile is now depleted so I must once again pay the original prices. Still, they are worth every penny. (I am keeping my eyes open every time I visit the 99 Cent Store just in case I see them again.) My favorite flavors are the Restaurant Style (White Beans) and the Original Black Bean.

Conclusion

There you go: six vegan, gluten-free snacks that I enjoy! Due to my diet, I eat fruit and veggies a lot, more veggies than fruit to be honest. I am actually not much of a fruit eater, but I do try to eat bananas, green apples, grapes, and strawberries somewhat regularly. Sometimes I crave carbs and starches, something a little more filling and satisfying to the tastebuds. These snacks help satisfy these cravings.

Do you have a favorite snack? Do you have a special diet or food allergies you have to work with?

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?