*This post is linked up with Gluten Free & DIY Tuesdays at Allergy Free Alaska and Jeanie of the Baking Beauties. Check it out!
I was having a bit of a diva in the kitchen fit that Saturday. I had declared the night before, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT going to bake anything in the morning. I was tired. My feet hurt. And it was time (I again declared with great flare) that the children learn to do for themselves a bit more at meal times.
So there. I sure told them. (Hangs head in shame.)
I got up the next morning and made my coffee. I threw together a pan of scrambled eggs (cause I was hungry, mind you–and note there was still no baking).
But then the blueberries in the frig caught my eye. And the wheels started spinning. I remembered the leftover lemon glaze in the frig from a scone order I’d made. The NEED started building. Cause sometimes a girl needs warm fluffy muffins studded with fresh blueberries and lemon zest. Yes need.
So I looked up a few recipes and found one that I had all the ingredients for (Yay!) and I could adapt for my daughter’s food allergies. (It wasn’t totally about me.)
This is the gluten/dairy free version I made that morning. For the fluffiest and yummiest texture, I really recommend the flour ratio I used. If you have some other gf mix you’d like to use, feel free, just note that I can’t say for sure what it will be like.
(This recipe is adapted from this one at Heavenly Homemakers. While I’m at it, I’d highly recommend you check out this blog. Super encouraging, practical, and everything Laura makes is real food and tasty!)
Lemon Blueberry Muffins (gluten and dairy free)
- 1 1/2 cups flour (I used a mix of 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour–millet would work well too–and 1/2 cup tapioca starch. Couldn’t even tell it was gluten free!)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 melted coconut oil (or butter)
- 3/4 cup coconut milk (I buy this brand) + TB lemon juice
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- Zest 1 Lemon, plus the juice
- powdered sugar (enough to make a glaze, about 1 cup)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients (including the lemon zest) together until well blended. In another, smaller bowl, whisk together egg, melted oil (make sure it’s not too hot) and coconut milk plus the TB lemon juice. Add the wet into the dry and mix well. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the muffin tins (makes 10-12 muffins). Make sure they are well greased or use paper liners. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tops begin to brown slightly and a toothpick comes out clean. (Keep in mind that gf baked goods don’t often brown as much as wheat.)
Carefully remove the muffins to a cooling rack after they’ve baked. Juice your lemon into a small bowl and whisk in enough powdered sugar to get a thick, but pour-able glaze. Once the muffins have cooled completely, drizzle with the glaze. Allow the glaze to harden up a bit before serving–but I have to confess I didn’t posses the self control to wait that long!
So, yeah, I ended up baking anyway. Which no one was really all that shocked about. And now we will enjoy these muffins repeatedly while the fresh blueberries are in season. And I promise I’ll try to be a little nicer :).
This post contains affiliate links to sources I frequently use myself. Thanks for supporting this blog!
Stew meat is one of those great, economical cuts of meat. We usually end up with quite a bit after hunting season. Whether yours is beef or venison, the long braise in lots of flavor filled liquid gives you tender, moist, meaty goodness.
We’re big fans of the traditional “beef stew” with a gravy like broth and loads of carrots and potatoes. But sometimes you want a little variety. So we came up with this. Sort of a chili, or Mexican inspired stew. All that acid in the tomatoes tenderizes the meat beautifully.
We like to make a big pot of it and serve it along side Spanish rice, refried beans and fresh, warm tortillas for a Mexican feast!
Mexican Beef Stew
- 1 to 2 lbs. of stew meat (beef or venison)
- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 medium onion, 1 bell pepper, 3 cloves garlic–chopped
- 3 – 4 rounded tablespoons of flour
- 2 TB chili powder
- TB cumin
- TB dried oregano
- couple shakes of crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- Salt to taste (I start with 1/2 tsp. It depends on how salty your stock or tomatoes are.)
- 2 bay leaves
- fat for browning meat (olive oil, palm shortening, meat drippings)
- Other optional add ins like corn or black beans
- In a large heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven, melt or heat the fat/oil over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add the stew meat to the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt. (You might have to brown it in a couple of batches. If you over crowd the pan, the meat will just boil instead of searing.) Stir it once or twice so it gets mostly brown, but don’t fiddle with it too much.
- Remove the seared meat to a bowl. (It won’t be cooked all the way through, that’s okay.) Add a little extra fat if needed and add the onions and pepper to the pot. Sprinkle with a little salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes, until they start to soften, and then add in the garlic.
- After a couple more minutes, sprinkle in the flour and stir to distribute evenly. Add a little more fat to the pan if it seems dry. Stir and cook the flour/veggie mixture for just a couple more minutes.
- Add in the seasonings and tomato paste and stir. (A note: I use rather inexpensive spices. You might not need quite so much, especially if your chili powder is rather spicy. You could start with about half as much if you’re using high quality spices and add more depending on how you like it.)
- Slowly stir in the stock. Use a wooden spoon to work the lumps out of the broth and scrap the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. You could also use a whisk here to keep the flour from lumping up. But if you keep it moving and pour the broth in batches, working it smooth until you add more, it should be fine. (This is a good place to taste the broth–before you add undercooked meat back in–and adjust your salt level.)
- Add in the canned tomatoes and bay leaves and the stew meat. Stir to combine.
- Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally. (Or, if you’re pot is oven proof, you could put it into the oven on 325. Another option is to transfer the whole thing to the crockpot on low if you’re going to be out for a while.)
Make plenty of tortillas and rice to sop up all the rich, spicy broth. ENJOY!
It’s not uncommon, these days, to meet a family with different dietary needs all under one roof. A child with a dairy allergy. Another who’s sensitive to wheat. An adult who has to follow the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) because of other issues. Everybody has different (legitimate) needs.
For the cook/meal planner of the household, it can be confusing, expensive and exhausting to meet these needs. But it doesn’t have to.
For about 7 years now, I have been on that road–finding the root of different allergy and skin conditions for my youngest. First we were told no wheat (or any gluten grains), dairy or peanuts. I dove into about every source I could find for gluten and allergy free baking. The peanuts were fairly easy to avoid.
Fast forward a few years and she also went through an especially ill period where she tested allergic to oats (which I had been using like crazy as a substitute for wheat flour), corn (in EVERYTHING) and all the old culprits as well. Time to revamp her foods…again.
In that time, I’ve done a few other elimination type diets either on my own for different health reasons, or with my daughter so she doesn’t feel all alone. Meanwhile, the three other members of the family are sitting there with their loaf of bread, block ‘o cheese and peanut butter–ready to eat whatever, whenever.
So what do you do to keep your sanity in tact and budget under control? These are some strategies I’ve developed for us.
Make dinners friendly for everyone
For the most part, our dinners are what we call “Ella friendly.” That means, when I plan our weekly menu, most of our dinners are wheat, corn and dairy free. We can all enjoy beef stew, chicken pot pie, meatloaf, chicken fried rice, salmon patties, and a ton of other dishes with no trace of the foods that set her off.
The key is to focus on what everyone can have, instead of lamenting what you might be missing.
Keep some meal parts in the freezer and pantry
For the meals where this strategy won’t work, like pizza night, I keep the allergy free components on hand, in the freezer. I’ll make a batch of gf pizza dough, slice it up, and put it in a freezer bag. That way, all I have to do is pull out a few pieces, top and bake. I do this with her biscuits, too.
In the pantry, I keep some rice pasta for spaghetti nights. It’s not too much trouble to have two pots of pasta boiling at once.
Sometimes, everyone can eat allergy free
I know I just said that I’ll keep different meal parts handy so Ella can enjoy pizza night or pasta night, too. But sometimes, it’s just easier if everyone eats the same thing. For instance, we all eat the gf banana muffins for breakfast. When I make graham crackers for everyone, then everyone is eating allergy free. And I’ve found a gf buckwheat pancake recipe that we all love.
As a bonus, the entire family is reaping the benefits of varying our grains, getting a wider variety of vitamins and minerals. And the coconut oil I so often bake with (to be dairy free) is full of health benefits for all of us.
It’s a matter of balance. Yes, it costs more if we all eat allergy free. Gluten free flours and coconut milk are always going to cost more than wheat flour and dairy. So sometimes, to save money, I save the gf pasta for her. Or I’ll make a separate batch of crackers.
But it’s a trade off on my time and sanity as well. I CAN’T make two of everything. I just don’t have that kind of time. The thing to do is decide for yourself. What is your time worth and what do you have in your grocery budget? I think we land somewhere in the middle.
It can be daunting to suddenly have to cook for those with special food needs. Some choose to overhaul the entire kitchen and the whole family’s diet. Some serve those special foods only to the one individual. I don’t think there’s one RIGHT way to handle it. Do what you need to in order to keep your family safe (where deadly allergies are concerned) and keep it balanced.
At the moment, since my daughter’s health has improved, we’re hoping to try out some spelt and sourdough wheat to see how she does. But I fear we’ll always have to avoid the dairy and peanuts.
Ever had to cook for different diets? How do you handle it?
We LOVE cereal. A little too much. Especially as an evening snack. But the extruded, sugar loaded, cardboard packaged stuff isn’t really that great for you. So to pacify the cereal monster in all of us, I make homemade granola. It’s really easy and after just a few minutes, you’ll have fast breakfasts (or snacks) for a few days. We especially love it on yogurt!
(I’ve linked some of these ingredients to sources I typically order from. They’re affiliate links, so I’ll receive a small commission if you place an order. But you still get the same great price! Thanks!)
Maple Vanilla Crunch Granola
- 4 cups rolled oats (look for certified gluten free if you’re really sensitive)
- 2 cups puffed rice or millet cereal
- 1 cup chopped or slivered almonds (or nut of choice)
- ½ cup flax meal
- ½ cup shredded coconut
- ¼ cup flour (wheat, buckwheat or rice will work)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup total of raisins and chopped dates (or dried fruit of choice)
- ½ cup coconut oil (If you’re not dairy free, you can use melted butter. But the coconut oil adds a little extra sweetness, so you may want to up the sweetener just a bit.)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (Grade B will give you the most maple-y flavor!)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 TB vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit. (It will be added as a very last step.)
In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining wet ingredients.
Pour the wet over the dry and mix THOROUGHLY until all the liquids are distributed and the dry is uniformly wet. Spread the granola onto two large sheet pans lined with parchment or a silicon mat. Use a rubber spatula to spread it out evenly and pat down a bit. This will help produce crunchy clusters of different sizes.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. You’ll probably want to rotate the pans a couple times to ensure even baking/browning. Turn the oven off and allow to sit in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes to continue crisping up the granola. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. This is the point where you add the dried fruit. I just sprinkle it on top of the pans.
Store in an airtight container. Sometimes, if the oatmeal canister is empty, I just put the granola in there. Try not to break it up too much when you transfer it so you won’t lose some of those larger clusters.
Options and Notes
Add-ins: Feel free to switch up the add-ins to your heart’s content. Don’t like coconut? Leave it out. Prefer pumpkin seeds or pecans in your granola? Switch out the almonds. Same goes for the dried fruit.
Why flax meal? Well, it has some great health benefits like omega 3 fatty acids. But honestly, I added the flax in for its stickiness. When the flax mixes with the liquids, it gets a little gelatinous and sticky, which helps make those crunch clusters we all love so much. But that said, if you don’t have flax meal on hand, the granola will still taste great without it.
Puffed rice and millet? The addition of the puffed cereal gives a certain kind of crunch that you’ll find in most boxed granola. But if you prefer to avoid that, you could definitely use all oatmeal instead—6 cups in that case. But if you’d like to give the puffed cereal a try, I really like Arrowhead Mills. It’s fairly inexpensive and doesn’t have any other added weird ingredients.
This granola is great on yogurt, with milk, as an add in to your homemade trail mix and straight out of the container! Plus you get a TON more than you do buying those expensive little cardboard boxes.
Say the words “Thanksgiving Dinner” and most everyone has instant recall of their family’s traditional dishes. Some of us grew up with the green bean casserole. Or sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. I’ve got those same memories.
But somewhere along the way, our Thanksgiving dishes have changed just a bit. From a distance, it might look much the same as any other table across the country. My pumpkin pie probably looks just like the one on your table. Or maybe even the one out of a box.
Since my daughter was diagnosed with several food allergies a few years ago, our family has made the shift to many wheat and dairy free dishes. Then as we learned more about real food, we moved from simply allergy free to real, nourishing ingredients. Put that together and what you get is a real, tasty, healthy holiday that is also safe for my daughter.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration this week, or maybe you have a recent allergy diagnosis and you’re scrambling to come up with some recipes, here’s what we’ll be feasting on this Thanksgiving.
Herb Rubbed Roasted Turkey
Before I roast the big old thing, I make a rub of thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. I bring it all together with olive oil until it’s a paste. This gets rubbed all over the bird and under the skin.
Pretty standard. And your traditional turkey recipe will probably be just fine. We have to avoid a butter rub to stay dairy free and I try to get a bird that doesn’t have any gluten in the broth injection that most commercial poultry has. (I’ve been told that Honeysuckle is gluten free, so that’s what we’ll have this year.)
- My daughter gets her own side of dairy free mashed potatoes. These are easily made with either broth or unsweetened coconut milk.
- We skip the cream of scary stuff and serve home canned green beans prepared with bacon drippings.
- Sweet potatoes are roasted and seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a drizzle of real maple syrup.
- And my favorite fall/winter salad usually joins us. Baby spinach, mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, toasted almonds, feta and vinaigrette. It’s crunchy, tangy, sweet and salty all in one yummy bowl!
The Bread Group
I have to confess I don’t have some magical recipe for gluten free stuffing. Truth is, it’s not my daughter’s favorite thing, so I don’t worry about having that for her. But the girl still wants her bread! We recently tried these rolls from Allergy Free Alaska and they are awesome!
dairy free pie from godairyfree.org
You gotta have pumpkin pie, right? But when I could no longer make it with that condensed or evaporated milk, or dairy milk of any kind, I was at a loss. I spent a lot of time scouring the internet, and this recipe from Go Dairy Free is definitely our favorite. I honestly can’t tell the difference. (I do up the spice amounts in the recipe, though.)
The Gravy Group
Yes the gravy group. It deserves it’s own classification as far as I’m concerned. And I’m not talking about that gravy in a jar or brown gravy mix stuff. This is as real as gravy gets. And it’s not a dirty word like so many would have us to believe. When you make your gravy with drippings or nutrient rich bone broth, it becomes a very nourishing food, indeed.
So I thought I’d give a little gluten free gravy tutorial to all those embarking on this homemade, allergy friendly gravy train for the first time. There are many ways. This is how we do it.
- The roux. Like most homemade gravy, mine starts with the roux. But regular butter is out for my little one. As is wheat flour. So most of the time, I’ll start my gravy with 2-3 TB of clarified butter, bacon drippings or palm shortening. Just so you have some fat to get all mingled with the flour. When it’s all melty, whisk it up with the same amount (2-3 TB) of rice flour. I like sweet rice flour (Amazon affiliate link) for thickening since it adds a little stickiness. (Think sticky jasmine rice) When it’s all whisked together, let it bubble away on medium heat for just a couple minutes to cook the flour and get it a little less grainy in texture.
- The broth. Your gravy is all about the broth. If you can, I recommend making a quart or two of stock (either chicken or turkey will work here) before the big day to add to the drippings from your turkey. Slowly whisk in the broth, making sure to work out all the lumps before adding more in. I’d say about a quart of broth would do. But you can add more if you like. (We like a lot of gravy here.) We’ll adjust the thickening one more time at the end.
- The seasoning. I really like to add a generous pinch of dried thyme (or fresh if you have it) plenty of pepper and salt to taste. If your broth was salted, you won’t need much.
- The starch. Yes, we need to thicken things up again. I really don’t like using all rice flour to thicken my gravies. I think they tend to get a little grainy if you use too much. But I don’t love it thickened with all starch, either. It reminds me too much of the cafeteria gravy goop. My preferred gluten free gravy method is a little flour and a little starch. So at this point, you’d put about a 1/4 cup of broth or even water if you have to (room temperature) and 2+ rounded TB of potato starch (could use corn or arrowroot starch too, but I like potato best) into a small jar. Seal tightly with a lid and shake, shake, shake. Stir this slurry into the gravy. If you’d like it a bit thicker, you can do it all over again. It’s up to you to adjust to your family’s preference, and the amount of broth that you’re working with.
So there’s the process. And there’s the menu. It’s nothing super fancy. When you start with real food, you can let the simple, quality ingredients shine. Gives me more time to enjoy the family and keeps everyone’s bellies happy!
Just one other note…
If you’re looking for ways to make over all your traditional favorites, like stuffing, cream of something soups and more, take advantage of the sale on Kitchen Stewardship’s book Better Than aBox. It’s 50% off now through Thanksgiving. Just use the code TDAY50 at checkout.
This post contains affiliate links. Same price for you. Small commission for me on products I really do love! Thanks!
As we mentioned in the holiday budget post, the dinner table can be a simple place to pinch some pennies. A few simple and inexpensive meals free us up to set money aside for gifts, pay bills or whatever. And I can’t think of a less expensive, more versatile food than rice (especially if you buy it in bulk).
There’s a reason why people all over the world eat rice on a regular basis. It’s filling, gluten and allergy free and cheap. You can’t live on rice alone, of course, but it does make a nice addition to your protein and veggies. So while we’re all trying to save some cash, I thought I’d share my families three favorite, easy rice dishes.
(All these dishes make 3 cups cooked rice plus the add ins.)
The local Mexican place has a rice that my daughter loves. She calls it “orange rice.” And she gets very excited when I make our version of Spanish rice. Here’s what you need…
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice (we use long grain basmati)
- 2 2/3 cup chicken stock or water
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (don’t drain them)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- clove garlic, minced
- 2 TB olive oil (or enough to just coat the bottom of the pan)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 + tsp salt (to taste, I just add a big pinch to the rice before I put the lid on and then adjust it after it cooks)
- few shakes crushed red pepper, optional
In a medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Stir and sauté a minute or two. Add rice and stir to coat in the oil. Keep stirring a bit and lightly toast the rice for a couple minutes. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Crank up the heat and bring it to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and set the time for 15 minutes (for the basmati and I believe regular white rice too–if you’re using a different kind, refer to the cooking time on the package.) When time is up, turn off the heat and leave covered to sit for an additional 5 minutes. After that, remove the lid and fluff up with a fork. Adjust seasoning to suit your family. (You can definitely add more chili powder or whatever in the beginning if you like more spice. This is just a starting point.)
To make this a main dish, add in browned ground beef or cooked beans and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.
Veggie Fried Rice
- 4 TB coconut oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- TB minced fresh ginger (probably about 1/2 inch of a knob–this thing is AWESOME for fresh ginger–Amazon affiliate link)
- 3 cups broth or water
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 to 2 cups veggies (sliced carrots, cabbage, broccoli, pepper strips, peas–whatever your family likes)
- soy sauce (look for naturally brewed tamari or wheat free if you need it)
In your medium pan, melt 2 TB coconut oil over medium heat. Add rice and stir. Allow to lightly toast for just a couple minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in broth or water, bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave it to sit, covered for an additional 5 minutes.
In a large skillet or wok, melt the additional coconut oil over medium high heat. Add in veggies, garlic and ginger and cook to desired tenderness. Push all the veggies to the sides and make a well in the middle. Add eggs and scramble. Stir veggies back in, along with cooked rice and soy sauce to taste. If at any point the pan needs additional oil, just add a small spoonful in.
Of course, you can add in shredded chicken or pork into your fried rice as well.
Lemon Herbed Rice
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
- 3 cups broth or water
- zest one lemon + juice
- 1/2 + tsp salt
- palmful of fresh chopped herbs like thyme (lemon thyme is wonderful), parsley, rosemary or whatever you like. You can also use dried if you don’t have fresh, but reduce the amount to about a tsp or so each.
- few grinds of black pepper
Heat the oil over medium heat, add rice, toss and toast a couple minutes (just like all the directions above). Add in your liquid, lemon zest and juice (if you don’t want too much lemon, just squeeze half the lemon into the pot), plus salt, herbs and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer and set the timer for 15 minutes. After time is up, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff, taste to see if you’d like additional salt and serve.
Great addition to roasted chicken or pork!
So there’s my family’s favorite rice dishes. Easy, economical and fast. Just what we need to stretch a buck and fill bellies with minimal fuss.
Does your family have a favorite rice dish?
This post contains affiliate links. Small commission for me, same great prices and products for you. Thanks!
I’ve been making an effort to get in those extra veggies lately. And I think it’s made a difference. I’m definitely feeling a bit more energetic (the commodity all moms crave!)
Out of that came this recipe. Actually, it came about because the package of fish I was breading for dinner the other night was pitiful and I knew it wouldn’t really feed the five of us. So I made myself a little something.
I had a medium sized zucchini staring at me. I wanted something fried and savory. (What? You know you have the need for fried things too :)) And well, is there anything bacon doesn’t make better?
So was born my Veggie Bacon Fritters. Or I guess you could call them pancakes. The name isn’t all that important. The taste is. Crisp on the outside, moist inside studded with chewy bits of bacon. Great as a vegetable side dish or a light main course.
Veggie Bacon Fritters
For 4–6 fritters (depending on how large you make them) you’ll need…
- 3 cups of shredded veggies (I used 1 medium zucchini and one carrot. Could add some potato, winter or summer squash too.)
- 1/4 cup of finely diced onion (I liked red for this)
- about 4 slices of diced bacon
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 Tb almond flour (or wheat flour or rice flour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- few grinds of black pepper
Now it’s time to squeeze excess moisture out of your veggies. Place them in a clean tea towel and squeeze as much as you can. This will help the fritters to fry up crisp instead of soggy. Put the veggies, bacon, onion, eggs, flour and pepper in a mixing bowl and stir until well blended.
Add a little extra fat to the pan if needed (you want it covering the entire bottom of the skillet). I like this for frying. Heat the fat over medium high heat. Form large spoonfuls (or however big you want them) into patties and place on the hot pan, with a little space between them. Depending how large your pan is, you might have to do a couple batches. Flip when browned on one side, just a few minutes.
When both sides are browned, remove from pan and enjoy! I really like them with a dollop of sour cream. They also reheat well in the toaster oven the next day.
Got any tricks for getting extra veggies in your day?
Affiliate disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, the cost is the same for you, but I receive a small commission. I only link to products I really love or recommend. Thanks!