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.

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup. Photo by Jacquelyn.
A brothy bowl of Tofu Noodle Soup.

It is spring, though it feels like the beginning of summer here in the desert of Arizona. Lately, soup has been sounding delicious to me and my family. Homemade tomato soup, lentil soup, vegetable soup, dill stew with rosemary dumplings… All kinds of soup!

Today I am going to share with you an easy recipe for Tofu Noddle Soup, a vegan take on the classic Chicken Noodle Soup. This soup of protein packed, filled with yummy vegetables, and has tasty broth great for sore throats.

Tofu Noodle Soup by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan


5 sticks of celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 block firm tofu, diced
1/2 cup of peas
1 bag of House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodles, Fettuccine Shaped*
1 can navy beans (aka northern beans or white beans)
5-6 chard leaves, sliced
1 or 2 vegetable bullion cubes (Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with Herbs or similar vegan bouillon)
Garlic powder
Green curry seasoning (The Gourmet Collection’s Thai Style Green Curry or something similar), optional


Using a large soup pot, add 6 cups of water and the vegetable bullion cube(s). Add the diced vegetables, tofu, and peas and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bag of tofu noodles, can of navy beans, and additional salt, garlic powder, dill, and curry seasoning (if desired) to taste.

Lower cooking temperature to medium, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables (particularly the carrots) are at the right softness/firmness you desire. Add the chard, stir, and simmer for five minutes.

*You can substitute other noodles but it may change the cook time. I have not tried this recipe with regular wheat pasta noodles nor with gluten-free rice noodles myself.

Servings: 4-6

Allergy Warning

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

The nice thing about this easy recipe is that it is very customizable. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Soup is also a great way to use vegetables that are starting to get a little old and are beginning to lose their crispness. For us, that is usually the celery. We never seem to be able to go through celery fast enough. Preparation (dicing the fresh vegetables) takes about 5 minutes, give or take, but you opt for frozen vegetables if you are in a hurry. Cook time is between 15 and 20 minutes.

Our 19 month old loves soup, especially soups and stews filled with beans and vegetables. He thoroughly enjoyed this Tofu Noodle Soup, which we ate last night outside on the back patio with a cool evening breeze and gorgeous desert sunset.

What is your favorite soup recipe?

Slow cooker / Crockpot meals

Slow cooker / Crockpot meals

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission when you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog.

When Bradley and I arrived home from work Friday afternoon, we were both extremely exhausted. We barely had enough energy to scrape together a dinner, and then I ended up falling asleep on the couch almost immediately afterward.

Sabbath morning I threw the ingredients of one of my favorite recipes (White Bean and Pumpkin Lasagna) into the crockpot. I turned it on low right before leaving for church, and it was ready by the time we arrived home about two thirty.

The photo of the lasagna above is from the official recipe on Vibrant Life. Mine never turns out this pretty – perhaps it is the gluten-free lasagna noodles or the fact that it all becomes mush.

Mine may not be picture perfect, but it is so yummy! I’ve made it for a few Sabbath afternoon luncheons with guests and friends from church, and always get compliments (and the guests often take seconds).

So we were able to enjoy a relaxing and delicious meal around the dining table, and then we were off to see my sister and brother-in-law’s vespers concert at the Paradise Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Check out Cyiza Music!)

It was a beautiful concert with a powerful message.

After the success of the lasagna on Sabbath, I think I’m going to try doing a crockpot dish most Sabbaths either for Sabbath dinner on Friday evenings or Sabbath lunch on Saturdays. I think I would also like to do a crockpot dish maybe once or twice during the week, too. Anything to cut down on the amount of cooking and then cleaning by hand that I have to do.

You see, the dishwasher in our rental house scares me after it almost caught fire. Seriously, there were sparks flying from the outlet under the sink. A leaky faucet was dripping water right onto the outlet. The ancient and terrifying machine has been unplugged ever since.

Unfortunately, no dishwasher means tons of dishes to hand clean and I don’t have the time or energy right now to keep up on all the dishes. I will spend half an hour in the morning washing all the dishes and by lunch time there will be a mountain of new dishes. I just cannot keep up, because I’m too exhausted or sick.

I think crockpot meals might help, even a little bit. I have three crockpot recipes: the pumpkin lasagna, lentil soup, and quinoa/sweet potato chili. But I need to find more recipes that are vegan and gluten-free or I can easily convert to being vegan and gluten-free. Then I have to make sure we get all of the ingredients ahead of time during our biweekly grocery trips. I would like to try Vegan Jambalaya and Aloo Gobi (spiced cauliflower and potatoes) sometime soon.

If you need a new slow cooker, I highly recommend the classic Cook ‘N Carry by Crock-Pot. I use mine a lot and particularly like that the lid locks down so you can take the slow cooker with you to family functions, church potlucks, etc. without worrying about the lid moving or the food inside spilling. The small Food Warmer, also by Crock-Pot, holds 20 ounces and is perfect for taking leftovers to work or keeping small amounts of food warm on roadtrips. We received two as wedding gifts four years ago, and I use them all of the time!

Do you have any favorite crockpot recipes?

Six Healthy Holiday Fare

Six Healthy Holiday Fare

I recently read that the average American gains one to two pounds during the winter holidays, from Thanksgiving through New Years. With the hearty traditional dishes and scrumptious desserts that usually grace the dinner table for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays, that weight gain is to be expected. It is not even necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that most Americans never lose the pound or two they gained over the holidays, which means that they could gain one to two pounds every year just from their holiday feasting.

What can we do to avoid the holiday weight gain? Moderate exercise and portion control are always recommended, but perhaps you can substitute a not-so-healthy traditional dish with a healthier alternative.

Here are six delicious alternatives to some classic holiday dishes that will let you enjoy yourself.

Fresh Green Beans

Instead of the fat and calorie heavy green bean casserole, serve up fresh green beans. Buy two pounds of green beans from the store, trim the ends, and cut in half or thirds (if you don’t want long beans).

Steam covered on high in a large pan with a few centimeters of water. When the water is almost gone, test the green beans to see if the texture is soft enough. If you prefer softer, add a little more water, cover, and wait until the water is almost gone again. If the beans are to your liking, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the beans with onion and garlic.

Add salt and other seasonings (parsley, crushed red pepper, and basil) to taste. You can add a dash of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (gluten-free) or a bit of lemon juice as well. Serve up nice and hot!

Oven-roasted Sweet Potatoes

Can it be the holidays without mashed potatoes? Certainly! You can replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes for a healthier option, but don’t drown it in milk, butter or maple sugar and marshmallows. Slice the sweet potatoes in half-inch rounds or one-inch cubes (depending on the look you want), add some onion, drizzle with a little olive oil, add salt and sage, toss well, and roast in the oven until edges are browned or crispy.

Not only is this dish gorgeous, it is delicious!

Veggie Stuffing

Instead of getting your stuffing from a box, make your own at home and add some extra veggies to it! All you need is day old bread – go even healthier by using a whole wheat, cornbread, or gluten-free bread of your choice.

If you want to limit or avoid the bread, why not try substituting half of the bread with a squash (like butternut), using a brown or wild rice or even quinoa?

Saute the veggies of your choice in a little bit of olive oil. I really like onion, celery, and carrots but I have seen people add water chestnuts, brussel sprouts, other veggies, cranberries and even apples! Mix the veggies with your bread or bread substitute, add vegetable broth and traditional stuffing spices (salt, sage, thyme, pepper, etc.), and mix well.

Pop it in the oven to bake!

Oven-roasted Veggie Delight

Not into the candied or glazed vegetables? Trying to limit the extra sugar (and extra pounds)? Substitute the sugary glazed veggies with savory oven-roasted Veggie Delight! All you need is parsnips, carrots, red onion, and brussel sprouts. Cut the brussel sprouts in four (half and then half again) and then cut the remaining veggies in a similar size.

Drizzle with olive oil, lightly season with salt, sage, thyme, and basil, and toss. Put it in the oven to roast.

Spinach and Butternut Squash

Another delicious veggie combo you could try is butternut squash (cubed) cooked with some olive oil, fresh spinach, and dried cranberries. Sprinkling with some salt and pepper, and you have a wonderful (and colorful) side dish.

Need more protein? Sprinkle in some rinsed black beans.

Cauliflower Risotto

Looking to replace the carb-heavy potatoes and/or stuffing? Why not give this Cauliflower Risotto a try? It uses cauliflower, leeks, garlic, quinoa and a broth made from miso, nutritional yeast, and veggie broth to create a hearty and fluffy risotto.


So what is your favorite holiday dish? How do you try to substitute more healthy options into your holiday meals?

10 Recipes for Pumpkins

10 Recipes for Pumpkins

Last Sunday, the Tempe Pathfinders Club went on a fun all-day field trip to Pioneer Living History Museum to work on some of the requirements for the Pioneering Honor. It just so happened our trip coincided with the first weekend of the museum’s fall festival. The kids had a lot of fun and, hopefully, also learned a lot about what life was like about a hundred to hundred and fifty years ago. At the end of the day, each family group was able to select a free pumpkin of their choice from the museum’s pumpkin patch. As to be expected, most of the kids hunted for the biggest possible pumpkin to take home.

That got me wondering about their poor parents. What can a family do with a gigantic pumpkin, especially if they are not of the pumpkin carving persuasion?

I admit that growing up, despite my love for most squashes, I never cared for pumpkin, but that is because my only experience with it was in pumpkin pie and I do not like any pie. Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, I have always enjoyed. Then last Fall, I fell in love with a lasagna recipe that uses pumpkin and my world suddenly expanded (or exploded, take your pick!)

So I have dug around the Internet and brought together ten recipes that use fresh pumpkin or pumpkin puree. To make pumpkin puree from your fresh pumpkin, check out these awesome instructions.

As I am linking to recipes by others, not all of these recipes are gluten-free nor vegan nor allergy-safe, but I tried to select recipes where ingredient substitution should be possible without too much additional work.

1. Crockpot White Bean and Pumpkin Lasagna

Recipe by Kathy at Healthy Slow Cooking

pumpkin-white-bean-lasagna This is the pumpkin recipe that started it all and is my absolutely favorite dish for company in the autumn months. It is unbelievably simple to make: you prepare the tofu ricotta the night before so the tofu has time to soak up the flavor, and then an hour or two before you want to eat, you simply layer the lasagna in a crock pot. It does all the work for you and you get the most delicious, flavorful lasagna ever! I usually put the crock pot on low Sabbath morning, go to church, and it is ready for lunch and guests! This is definitely a fan-favorite. I substitute regular lasagna noodles for gluten-free lasagna noodles and none of my guests have ever noticed. I tend to serve with my very own “Veggie Delight” recipe (roasted vegetables).

2. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Recipe by Elise at Simply Recipes

roasted-pumpkin-seeds-vertical-2-dm If you do have a fresh pumpkin, don’t throw away the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are yummy and it is surprisingly simple to roast them yourself! This recipe by Elise takes you step-by-step on how to scoop the seeds from the pumpkin, then clean them, boil them in salt water, drain, and then roast in the oven.

3. Roasted Pumpkin with Shallots

Recipe by Country Living

pumpkin_roasted This roasted side dish is naturally vegan and gluten-free. If you love roasted vegetables, this simple dish might the one for you! It pairs pumpkin with shallots and garlic and uses fresh oregano and a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

4. Pumpkin Salsa

Recipe by Stacey at Little Figgy

Pumpkin-Salsa-5 Oh my! This recipe looks muy delicioso! I love salsa, but it never crossed my mind to add a bit of pumpkin to it! As far as homemade salsa recipes go, this one looks very simple. I cannot wait to give it a try. If you are using a fresh pumpkin, be sure to puree the pumpkin first. Best of all: this recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free!

5. Pumpkin Apple Harvest Rice

Recipe by Kathy at Healthy Happy Life

pumpkin-harvest-rice- This recipe is similar to my recent Pumpkin Coconut Pasta only using rice and a few other ingredients. Doesn’t it look heavenly? I really like the idea of mixing pumpkin with apple. If you already have the brown rice cooked up, this dish is very simple to prepare in a skillet on the stove.

6. Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Brown-Butter Sauce

Recipe by Country Living

pumpkin-cannelloni-sage-brown-butter-sauce-recipe-1009-xl I think this recipe might be the next one of my list to make. To make vegan and gluten-free, substitute the lasagna noodles for a gluten-free lasagna noodle, make a basic tofu ricotta (like this one from Whole Foods Market), and use a vegan butter. Ooo… I really want to make this recipe. My mouth in watering and stomach growling just looking at the picture and imagining the delicious-ness. Unfortunately, it will have to wait until my husband and I return from our camping trip!

7. Crispy Tofu Sandwich with Sweet Potato-Pumpkin Spread

Recipe by Kathy at Healthy Happy Life

pumpkin-sweet-potato-tofu-sub-sandwich 14 Oh, how I wish I had this amazing sandwich in my lunchbox for today! It has been quite a long time since I last did a crispy tofu sandwich, but I never ever thought about making a pumpkin/sweet potato/garlic hummus spread. What an interesting idea that is making me super hungry right now. To make gluten-free, you just have to use your favorite gluten-free bread.

8. Pumpkin and Cauliflower Casserole

Recipe by Country Living

pumpkin-casserole-lgn You can make this recipe gluten-free by substituting in gluten-free all purpose flour and gluten-free bread crumbs. It might be a little trickier to make vegan, but it is still worth a try. Replace the regular butter with a vegan butter and instead of half and half, try full fat coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen brand).

9. Pumpkin Bread Rolls with Cinnamon Butter

Recipe by Tessa at Handle the Heat.

Pumpkin-Bread-Rolls-07 This recipe looks so cute and yummy! I really want to try making it gluten-free and vegan. I think it will be possible by substituting:

  • All Purpose Flour – for a Gluten-free All Purpose Flour available at local stores
  • Unsalted butter – make your own or try Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • Milk – a non-dairy milk (almond milk for me)
  • Eggs – Flax seed or applesauce

Buuuuuut turning regular “bread” recipes into gluten-free bread recipes can be tricky so I am mostly including this on the list because of how cute and yummy these little bread rolls look.

10. Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

Recipe by Mike at The Iron You

Pumpkin-Soup As the weather turns cooler, soups become a weekly stable in our house. This amazing soup not only looks delicious, but it is naturally vegan and gluten-free as long as you leave off the unclean pork topping (pancetta/bacon). If you want that smokey flavor without the unclean meat (see Leviticus 11), you could try sprinkling smoked paprika on top or Chipotle chili peppers for a little kick.

Pumpkin Coconut Pasta

Pumpkin Coconut Pasta

pumpkincoconutpasta Here in the desert of the American southwest, it may be autumn according to the calendar but we are still experiencing daily temperatures in the 100s. This last weekend, as a belated birthday present, my in-laws and I took Bradley on a short two-day trip to cooler locales: we walked near Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in Sedona, lounged in the cool shade and hopped rocks at Oak Creek Canyon, spent the night in Flagstaff, experienced Bearizona in Williams, swung by Walnut Canyon National Monument and enjoyed flock of thirty or so ravens conduct impressive aerial maneuvers, and stopped in Campe Verde along Moonrise Drive to watch the spectacular lunar eclipse.

It was great to get away from the heat of the valley and just relax. Up in the Flagstaff area, it actually almost felt like autumn and autumn is our favorite season. Perhaps inspired by our trip, last night I created my first original recipe for Autumn and it was delicious!

Pumpkin Coconut Pasta by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan


1 bag of brown rice gluten free pasta
1 can of pumpkin puree, 15 ounce
1 can of Thai Kitchen Small Coconut Milk, 5.46 ounce
1/3 can of tomato paste, 5.46 ounce
1 small onion, chopped
1 red apple (any sweet or semi-sweet apple, not tart), chopped
1/2 can of chickpeas, 15 ounce
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
Garlic powder
Italian spice blend*


Prepare the pasta as per the directions.

Meanwhile chop onion and apple into similar sized chunks. Heat the oil in a small pan and sauté the onion and apple on medium-high for 3-5 minutes, tossing/stirring often. Add the almonds, dried cranberries and chickpeas. Lower heat to medium-low, cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, garlic powder, and Italian spice blend to taste. When the apples, almonds and chickpeas are the right softness for you, turn off the burner and keep covered for warmth.

In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, coconut milk and tomato paste. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Add salt, garlic powder, and Italian spice blend to taste.

When pasta is done, drain and rinse in cold water. Return pasta to the pot and gently mix in the pumpkin puree mixture. Stir until all of the pasta is evenly coated. Add in the onion, apple and chickpea mixture and stir. Add more salt, garlic powder or Italian spice blend to taste. Top with parsley.

Servings: 2-4

Allergy Warning

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

We ate the pasta with steamed asparagus and a light butter lettuce/spinach salad topped with cherry tomatoes, black olives and artichokes. It was delicious! The almonds and pumpkin combined with the hint of sweetness from the apple and cranberries made the dish truly tasted like autumn. At first I was nervous about combining pumpkin with coconut milk, but after the spices were added, the two flavors blended nicely together.

It was so good I went back for seconds, even though I know I should not eat seconds at dinner. And I brought it for lunch today. Yummy!

*The particular Italian spice blend I used is a special blend usually used for bread dipping (by adding it to olive oil). My sister and brother-in-law, who are now selling different oils, balsamic vinegar, hot sauces, and possibility spice blends at Sassy Olive. I will check which one it was when I get home and update this post.

Soupy coconut pasta primavera

Soupy coconut pasta primavera

Mountain vistas at Sequoia National Park. June 29, 2015.
Mountain vistas at Sequoia National Park. June 29, 2015.

Monday evening we arrived home, safe and sound, from our nine-day vacation. We drove with Bradley’s parents through southern and central California visiting various members of his family, Sequoia National Park, and Whale Watching in Monterey. Needless-to-say, when we finally returned home, we both crashed.

Our fridge was so empty, I took the opportunity to clean all the shelves.

Then Tuesday, after picking me up from work, we hit the 99¢ Store for some very basic groceries, which in our case is mostly produce. Needing something fast and desiring something light, we had salad Tuesday night.

After so long away from home, however, I was craving a nutritious home-cooked meal. So last night I created a new soupy pasta dish using odd but delicious mix-match of whatever ingredients we had on hand. Surprisingly, it turned out oh so very yummy! (I am actually enjoying some leftovers for lunch today!)

It had started out with the desire to replicate a Thai coconut soup and we ended up adding tons of other odds-and-ends into the pot.

Soupy Coconut Pasta Primavera by Jacquelyn Van Sant

Gluten-free, vegan


3 cups vegetable broth (made using 1 Edward & Sons Not-Chick’n Bouillon Cubes)
1 Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk, Premium, First Pressing, 13.66-Ounce Can
1 can of palm hearts (chunks)
1 can Dynasty Sliced Water Chestnuts
3 carrots (chunks)
3 celery stalks (chunks)
10 small golden potatoes (cubed)
1/2 package organic tofu, extra firm (cubed)
1 Westbrae Natural Organic Garbanzo Beans, 15 Ounce Can
2 handfuls of kale (fresh from garden)
1 box gluten-free pasta (brown rice preferred)
Spices and sea salt to taste


First open all cans and drain excess liquid. Mix vegetable broth and coconut milk in a large pot on high heat. While warming up the liquid, cube all vegetables into equal-sized chunks. Add thicker vegetables first (carrots, celery, and potatoes). Add gluten-free pasta. Add sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, parsley, thyme, basil, crushed black pepper, chili powder, cumin, and other spices desired to taste. Lower heat to medium, cover and let cook for ten minutes. Add palm hearts, water chestnuts, garbanzo beans, and tofu. Cover and cook for ten minutes. Taste and add more sea salt and spices if desired. Test potatoes and pasta to ensure thoroughly cooked. If ready, add fresh kale (or other dark leafy green of choice, like baby spinach), stir, and cover. Simmer on low for five minutes. Taste. If ready, turn off heat and let cool slightly before serving.

Servings: 4-6

Allergy Warning

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

This is how I made the Soupy Coconut Pasta Primavera, but I simply used items that I already had on hand. If you give this recipe a try, feel free to exchange ingredients to ones you already have.

The foundation of this dish is a vegetable soup, but substituting some of the broth with coconut milk, and then adding whatever else sounds good. Be sure to taste test and add spices to get the perfect flavor. If the dish tastes a bit bland, my go to spices are sea salt and garlic powder. You could also add a dash of hot sauce if you wanted to kick it up a notch. I have never thrown pasta into a soup before but it worked out quite nicely. I will probably to that again sometime.

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.


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 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)! You can also buy them from Amazon in 6-packs that are a pretty good deal. 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.


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?

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


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)


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

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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


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
Chili powder


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


  • 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!