Category Archives: vegan

Gluten-free, vegan, buckwheat carrot muffins

I spent a glorious weekend in San Luis Obispo, CA with some dear friends and got back yesterday feeling like a child who had to leave Disney early. I wanted to stay and explore the farmers markets more, discover more hidden restaurants with lovely, knowledgeable servers and chefs who take care and creativity to new heights. These are just a few of the wonderful memories I have of this weekend, along with my dear friend who will now be the pastry chef at the Dolphin Bay Resort. (I know, pastry chef and me, go figure. She’s a fabulous chef and I’ve learned so much from her about cooking over the years.)

Spring Salad at Luna Red

We ate lunch at Luna Red in downtown San Luis Obispo and had a brilliant, light, crunchy salad that was perfect for a warm Spring day in California. With the Greekfest right next door, the music made our day even more festive. The salad was filled with pea shoots, blood orange segments, carrots, radish, mint, a light citrus vinaigrette and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Couldn’t have asked for anything better. A glass of rose and a table full of good friends made the afternoon complete. I highly recommend the restaurant.

The amazing selection of veggies at the farmers marke

One booth at the farmers market caught my eye, of course, with their big Gluten Free Goodies sign. I couldn’t resist and bought a GF carrot cake muffin made with buckwheat and a delicious quinoa salad I’ll be recreating later this week. (attempting I should say). It was filling and had a beautiful mix of savory and sweet with roasted veggies (yummy roasted carrots) and pepitas. I ate it cold right out of the container. Oh yeah!

But first up, after eating what was the best carrot cake muffin I’ve ever had (including my gluten-eating days), I decided to try and make it at home. Since Daughter has now eliminated eggs from her diet, that makes things a little more difficult, but not impossible. I do have vegan friends who I know will enjoy these also. The muffins in CA were not vegan, so this is just a small change and more of a challenge. I searched the Internet and found this recipe at She Let Them Eat for buckwheat carrot muffins. These are already vegan, which is a plus.

I modified the recipe a bit to my own tastes, but I would encourage you to try her recipe also. And if you can’t have some of the things I’ve added, feel free to eliminate what you want. I added the almond flour and GF oats for flavor, and added the splash of juice just because it looked a little thick. This may change based on your altitude and ingredients. If you add molasses, you may not need any more liquid. But I do like the oats for texture and flavor.

Gluten-Free & Vegan Buckwheat Carrot Muffins

1 & 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup GF oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups grated / shredded carrot (you could use zucchini too)

3/4 cup agave
1 mashed banana
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp ground flax combined with 9 tbsp hot water (or 3 eggs)
Splash of orange juice to loosen up the mixture if you need it.
1/2 cup golden raisins

Eating these at my desk while I write this makes me very happy

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with liners or grease with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl combine the first eight ingredients (dry).

3. Add shredded carrot to the dry ingredients and combine. In a medium-sized bowl combine agave, mashed banana, olive oil, and flax-hot water mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add raisins last.

4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch.

These are quite good, and amazingly fluffy and not too dense, considering there is no egg in it. I’ve never used flax and hot water before and I was quite amused at the egg-white-like texture it creates. The mixture is quite thick and gummy before baking and that must be due to the flax mixture. What a find. I will certainly be trying this with other dishes and baked goods. This is my first attempt at gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free baking. So far, so good.

In retrospect, these could use just a little more sweetness so I think a bit of molasses and honey, or an orange glaze on top will make them just a touch sweeter and tasty. A bit of Tofutti cream cheese will make them sing for me in the morning with my tea. Try them and let me know what you think.

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Filed under baking, breakfast, buckwheat, carrots, dairy free, dessert, gluten free, muffins, raisins, sugar free, vegan, vegetarian

Pizza Perfection Quest #3

 Pizza, oh yeah!

I knew I would have three teenagers in the house yesterday, so I decided to give pizza crust #3 a try. I am determined to find a crust that Wows everyone. And if you have to have a quest in life, this one isn’t so bad.

For this experiment, I used Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix and Chebe’s Pizza Crust. I decided to mix them because I know Chebe has a chewy texture, but I’m not that keen on the flavor. I know Bob’s Red Mill makes a mix for most everything, but I wanted a more chewy crust. For that reason, I used the Bob’s Red Mill mix, but substituted one cup of the mix for one cup of Chebe’s mix. Everything else was the same (yeast, eggs, oil, salt, garlic powder) as the back of the Bob’s package.

The crust was less sticky than the previous mix, although still not a dough you can roll out. Mostly, just used a spatula and olive oil to spread it around.

Bake first for about 10 minutes to firm it up, then top with marinara and mozzarella and bake another 10 minutes.

Results? I thought the flavor was good, but I didn’t get much of a fluffy dough texture from this one. It was thinner than the second crust and had a nice flavor, but a little too much of the Chebe flavor came through for my taste. The two teens who had the previous pizza liked this one, but not as much as Crust #2 (same reasons). Of course, they did each have 3 pieces, so it wasn’t too shabby. The teen who hadn’t tried any of them so far loved it and ate even more.

So far the votes are in:
Crust #2 is the best so far (King Arthur)
Crust #3 runs a close second (Bob’s and Chebe)
Crust #1 follows up behind as the “Not bad, but I’ve had better” pizza. (Bisquick)

Don’t worry though, there are still a few more to go, and we are determined to try them all just for you! Got a suggestion or recipe? Let me know and we might give that one a try too!

If you try any of these, please let me know how it works out for you. Let me know here, or on the FB page.


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Filed under baking, Bob's Red Mill, Chebe Pizza Crust, gluten free, pizza, vegan

A Quest for Pizza Perfection

Pizza Crust at the last minute

I started my quest for at-home pizza dough tonight. Since I didn’t feel like heading out to the store, I decided to improvise with what I had in the cupboards and fridge. Crazy? Well, not really. In a happy twist of fate, I actually did pretty well. I’ll be tweaking this recipe in the future, but if you’re looking for a quick, easy, tasty pizza crust, this could be it.

The crust is firm enough to pick up, a bit more like a biscuit in texture (thanks to the Bisquick I’m sure) but still has a pizza crust taste. I added salt and a bit of dried basil to the crust for more taste. You can choose to or not, depending on your taste.

Pizza Crust #1
1 cup Gluten-free Bisquick Mix
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch of dried basil
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 tbs olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (I know, just trust me)
2. Mix the first five ingredients
3. Crack two eggs in a measuring cup and mix. Add enough milk to make 1 cup of liquid total.
4. Pour into dry mixture, along with olive oil and spices.
5. Mix dough and let sit for a moment.
6. Spread dough on greased cookie sheet. I used a piece of parchment over the dough to roll it out flat.
7. Pinch a rim around the dough and spread a little olive oil over top of the dough.
8. Bake in the 500-degree oven for 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven, turn oven down to 350 degrees and top with your favorite toppings. We used tomato sauce and mozzarella for our first try.
10. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Hint: depending on how dry it is in your neck of the woods, you may want to add a little more liquid to the mix. It should be like dough but stickier.

I’m on a quest to find the best at-home pizza crust and I think I’m starting out pretty well. I’ll fall back on this one when all else fails because I know it’s good. The ultimate test is the Teen Daughter, who ate two pieces and told me to save the rest for breakfast tomorrow. That’s a very good sign!

Let me know what you think or what you’ve used in the past.

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Filed under Bisquick, cheese, dough, gluten free, pizza, vegan

Shepherd’s Pie with a Gluten-free, Vegetarian Twist

I admit it…I have never had shepherd’s pie with meat in it. It never really looked that appealing to me. But once I became a vegetarian, I loved the idea of veggies with mashed potatoes in a pie form. We used to use vegetarian burger crumbles for the bottom, you know the ones I’m talking about. It looks somewhat like hamburger and tastes meaty and chewy. But since those are made of wheat gluten, that was put on the do-not-eat list years ago. What now? I make it frequently with Quorn tenders and it is quite good, but still not what I remember.

Shepherd’s Pie right out of the oven, yum!

Enter Amy’s Bistro Burgers, which are gluten free and vegetarian. Crumble them up and it’s the closest you can get to the texture of meat on the bottom. And before I get letters and comments, let me just say that I am not a big fan of trying to recreate meat in a vegetarian way. I just love the texture of something firm and chewy on the bottom of this type of pie and veggies just don’t get it. This seems to do the trick, and the entire pie was gone in two days (Mom came over and had dinner) including breakfast. Yum. Try it with your favorite veggies, although these work just fine for us. Use fresh veggies as much as you can, it’s just so much better.

Chock full of veggies, crumbles and potatoes
Veggie, GF Shepherd’s Pie

4 Amy’s Bistro Burger Patties, thawed and crumbled
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
pinch of cumin

2 cups of fresh green beans, cleaned and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 TBS wheat-free tamari

2 cups mashed potatoes (homemade or store-bought)
1 TBS butter
salt/pepper/olive oil

1. Heat oven to 375
2. Saute onion till soft in a small bit of olive oil and salt.
3. Add burger crumbles, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook till browned.
4. Pour burger mixture into the bottom of a sprayed 9×9 glass baking dish.
5. Add green beans and 4 TBS water to the same pan (no need to clean it) and cover for about 5 minutes or until the water is steamed and beans are cooked slightly.
6. Add 1 Tbs olive oil and corn. (if corn is frozen, let it cook for a bit before going on to next step)
7. Add Tamari and let cook without stirring for a few minutes to let the veggies caramelize.
8. Spread veggie layer over burger layer in baking dish.
9. Prepare mashed potatoes the way you usually do. I used a fresh kind from Costco and just microwave it for a few minutes, then add a TBS of butter, salt and pepper.
10. Cover top of pie evenly with mashed potatoes and bake for 20 minutes.
11. Broil for 10 minutes under low to brown the top. Watch carefully, all ovens are different.
12. Let sit for a minute and serve.


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Filed under corn, gluten free, green beans, potato, shepherd's pie, vegan

Scottsdale’s 5th and Wine warms my GF heart

One of my favorite places in the heart of downtown Scottsdale has to be 5th and Wine, a restaurant/wine bar with a comfortable atmosphere and a GF/vegetarian salad I keep coming back for again and again. Not only do they have an extensive wine list, there is a lovely patio in the heart of the arts district with live music and comfy seats that create the perfect conversation areas. Inside there are soft, leather cushy chairs just meant for chatting and relaxing over a glass of wine and house-marinated olives.

5th and Wine’s Yummy Veggie Salad

First on the menu is the Veggie salad filled with avocado, white and green beans, grape tomatoes, jicama, and mozzarella tossed with a light herb vinaigrette. The dressing doesn’t overpower the salad, which is light, fresh and filling. You can even order half a salad if you’re not that hungry, but trust me, you’ll want more.

The Strawberry and Gorgonzola salad is also beautiful. I tend to order it with goat cheese instead of Gorgonzola, but that’s just my preference. It’s still wonderful and sweet.

Roasted marinated olives

If you’re just having a glass of wine (happy hour is just $5 a glass til 6 and watch for occasional $2 days), order the house marinated roasted olives with orange peel, fennel and red pepper flakes. Oh, yum. I’ve been known to just eat the olives while everyone else around ate burgers. I didn’t feel deprived at all, they are that good.

The menu also has burgers, salads, fries and even fried pickles for the non-GF eaters in your group, which makes my husband very happy. I’ve been brave enough to eat the salad and olives only. Since I’m not a meat eater, that leaves few options in these trendy downtown eateries most of the time, luckily I’m a salad lover and finding a great salad I can go back to again and again is a great thing. Thank goodness 5th and Wine has created a salad and olives I’m in love with.

The wine list is superb and if you’re not sure about what you want, just ask. They are knowledgeable and I haven’t been steered wrong yet. I prefer a nice white wine blend with this salad and each time I get something a little different.

Of course, if it’s an intimate conversation, take it outside if weather permits (which it does most of the year here in Phoenix). It can get quite noisy inside when it gets crowded. Walk the shops in the area and stop in for a glass of wine and a salad, you won’t be disappointed.

(By the way, I’m not affiliated with the restaurant and receive nothing for this review. Just sayin’)

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Filed under cheese, dinner, gluten free, green beans, mozzarella, olives, restaurants, salad, vegan, wine

The New Year…Another Chance to Get It Right

A toast to the New Year!

It’s Jan. 1 and we all know what that means, resolutions Do you make resolutions every year? Do you stick to them? Are any of those resolutions about what you eat and how you eat? They should be. Cleaning clutter, getting a new job, sticking to a schedule, etc. are all important, but none of it will work as well if you don’t eat right. It’s as straightforward as that.

Make your #1 resolution this year to eat well and keep your body fit. It’s as simple as passing on the second helping, stopping at a few bites of that decadent dessert or just having one drink instead of 3. You’d be surprised how quickly you feel better. Less soda, less chemicals, less excess.

No plans, no commitments, no infomercial box filled with food or exercise equipment needed. Just walk and eat better. Period. And if you need help, find a friend to do it with you. Here are a few tips that have worked for me to get you started:

1. Reduce the amount of carbs you eat. Bread, rice, potatoes, sugar, etc. Just eat less.

2. Increase the amount of protein you eat. If you don’t eat meat, eat almonds, cheese, tofu, etc. There are a lot of sources for protein for all kinds of diets.

3. Exercise, even if you just walk more. Walk in place while blow drying your hair, stretch in the kitchen while the tea kettle heats up, etc. Find some way to move throughout the day and you’ll be surprised how much more energy you’ll have. If you can, grab a few weights and get some bone-strengthening exercise in there.

4. Tell yourself this is not a diet. Rather, this is a change in lifestyle. You can eat anything you like, just don’t eat it all. A few bites of a chocolate doughnut is enough, 1 slice of pizza instead of 3, burger or fries-not both.

5. Don’t be hard on yourself if you eat something you think you shouldn’t. It’s not a contest or a race. Just vow to do better next time.

6. If you drink, try less fattening alternatives. White wine instead of read, light beer instead of beer, and go easy on the sugary mixed drinks.

Good luck! Starting on a new eating plan is tough for so many, but it can be done. Giving up gluten was tough, but you did it, right? So slowing down on the sugar and fats should be a breeze!

Thank you everyone who has followed this blog for the past few years. I’ve had so much fun writing it, trying recipes, and meeting new people. I started it to make life easier for myself, and it became so much bigger than that. I’ve enjoyed learning about cooking in a new way, sharing my finds and musings, and finding gluten-free food in an easier way throughout Phoenix. There are so many more options now than when I started and what a joy that is! Just think what’s still out there to come.

Here’s to a marvelous, wonderful, prosperous, happy New Year for us all!

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Filed under gluten free, vegan, vegetarian

Calling all Vegans!

The logical step for many people who are vegetarians is to take the next leap and become vegan, right? But remember when you went GF and wondered, “How will I get pizza, cookies, bread, etc.?” It was scary. Well, going from vegetarian to vegan is the same thing. “What about pizza, what about cheese,” we ask.

Southwest vegan pizza with black bean paste

Well, these days the answers are a lot easier than they were years ago. And I recently had the chance to sample the new vegan pizza at Gluten Free Creations that would make the transition even easier. Using Daiya cheese and vegan ingredients for the crusts, they’ve managed to make a pizza that is satisfying and vegan, finally.

There are a few varieties (along with just the crusts) that are quite good. I suggest the Southwest pizza with black beans or the pesto/spinach/artichoke pizza. The crust is crispy and just right for pizza toppings. It doesn’t carry a lot of flavor on its own, which makes it the perfect vehicle for any toppings you want. At the time I tried the pizzas, there was an issue with canned mushrooms, which is one of my pet peeves, but just go without mushrooms and you’re good to go (unless you like them, then have a blast). All in all, if I were a vegan, this would be a wonderful treat. Not on the cheap side, these are treats and not something we could do every day, but most GF products are costly, right? Buy a few and top them with your own special toppings.

As I’ve blogged before, I’m a big fan of the Italian GF crusts from this bakery and always have them in my freezer for those nights I have no creativity or energy to cook. Bake with just olive oil and spices and dip in marinara, or top with cheese and garlic, or even make a sandwich with it. The same can be done with the vegan crusts. Go nuts and be creative, or just heat them up and dip.

And once again, I have to put a plug in for the chocolate donuts there, which are my favorites. I get them when I have a killer chocolate craving. Chocolate donuts with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips. Phew, they are intensely chocolate and just what I need sometimes. What about you?

(I am remiss in this post since I spent a wonderful morning at Gluten Free Creations not long ago and I promised to blog about it. Well, it’s been too long and I got too busy. Sorry for the delay in the post.)

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Filed under donuts, gluten free, pizza, vegan, vegetarian