Monday, November 23, 2009
Dinner With Friends
We, seriously, have some of the best friends you could ask for! I was bad enough to accommodate with food before we found out the illustrator could not have wheat. We were sure no one would want to feed us now! Fortunately, our friends are always so nice about it when we come to their houses to eat! Since the holiday season is upon us, I thought this would be a good time to talk about how we go about dealing with our intolerances/food choices when we eat at other people's homes.
I always ask if there is anything I can bring. It is always a nice gesture to take something anywhere you go so, offering ensures you will have something to eat. I like to ask what else will be served so I can make something that will go along with what everyone else is eating (besides the caramel gooey bars)!
When we are going for a long time, I make sure that I have some snacks too for later. Especially when I am going to our close friends houses...I will bring my "hobo snacks" (note at the bottom) for when they are chowing down on their treats!
My friends have started to ask a lot of questions too about specific foods that we can have. The fact that the food industry is getting better about labeling foods as gluten free has been very handy! It is always a good sign when you can identify all of the ingredients and the fewer the ingredients, the closer it is to a clean food!
So, on this occasion of dinner with friends, we had pumpkin polenta served with sauteed zucchini, squash and red peppers with black beans for me.
Pumpkin polenta served with chorizo sausage, black beans and red peppers for the meat eaters.
My friend asked me lots of questions and with a little research online, she prepared a great dinner that was safe for all of us to eat!

What are your suggestions for eating at other people's homes during the holiday party season?

A note on the "hobo snacks"...I always pack an emergency snack bag of dry cereal, apples and yes, bread. These are things that I keep on hand when I travel or go to events that I am never sure if I will be able to eat what is there. I know this seems weird to some people, but I am a grouchy hungry person and it is better for me to duck out for a few minutes and get my snack on than to be so hungry that I can't enjoy the place I am at! I know I am like a child, but I have learned to come prepared!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:40 AM   3 comments
Friday, November 20, 2009
Crustless Apple Pie a.k.a Baked Apples
This adventure started out with me trying to find a way to kind of mimic the idea of the crustless pumpkin pie, but with apples. I know you could use just apple sauce, but I like the chunks of apple in my apple pie. I have never been a fan of pie crust, unless it is cookie or graham so there is no love loss there. We are having about 20 people here for Thanksgiving, so I am trying to have a variety of pies. I thought I would give my idea a trial run yesterday. Well, I am glad I did. While this did not come out like a pie, it is one of the best tasting baked apple pie fillings I have ever had. I can't say the recipe was a bomb since it is so good, but still, it was not what I was looking for. So, we will enjoy this now and try something different for Thanksgiving! On a side note, this would be great if you were doing a deconstructed apple pie served with a shortbread cookie and vanilla ice cream!

Crustless Apple Pie a.k.a. Baked Apples

3 lbs apples (I used gala and fuji) peeled, cored and sliced (while working with the apples, place them in water with 1 TBSP lemon juice so they don't get brown)
2 TBSP flaxseed meal mixed with 6 TBSP hot water
½ cup pure cane sugar + 1 TBSP
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 TBSP cornstarch
2 TBSP white rice flour (you could use cornstarch, I just happened to have this much that needed to get used)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix everything together exept the apples and the 1 TBSP sugar. Next drain the apples. Then pour the wet mixture over the apples and mix everything together very well. Spray a deep dish pie plate with cooking spray and pour everything into the pie plate. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar on top of the apples. Bake 1 hour 20 minutes or until the apples are softened and everything is browned on top.

divided by 8 = 169 calories each
This was the start of some great smelling stuff in the kitchen.
This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven. Honestly, if you want your house to smell good and then have a great treat afterwards...bake this!
This, my friends, was enjoyed yesterday afternoon. It really was a perfect fall afternoon with a perfect fall afternoon treat!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:57 AM   10 comments
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Gluten Free Flours
I have been taking the time, lately, to really get to know the different gluten free flours. I have only had one roll recipe that got the boot (I don't know if I mentioned that I made a roll/muffin that the illustrator asked me if I put ground up bugs in it...it was that bad). So, I am feeling pretty good about the whole grain gluten free flours. Oh, yeah, that is the other thing. I am trying to focus on some healthier gluten free flours. Getting fiber in your diet from baked goods is the biggest complaint I hear from my grandmother and sister-in-law. Luckily, we like whole grains here, so there are some pretty great alternatives!
My favorite, so far, has been buckwheat. I think maybe I was just made to love this stuff. The flavor is very bold (like bran) and a little nutty. The texture has a nice chew on the inside while being firm on the outside. Baked goods made with buckwheat actually have a springiness to them like wheat bread does! Despite the name, it is not a wheat at all. Buckwheat flour is actually the ground up fruit of a plant. I knew there was a reason I liked this stuff! When you add moisture to this flour, it takes on a gummy texture which helps it bind together. It is extremely high in fiber and low in calories. These two things are music to my ears! If you get a chance to read about the health benefits of buckwheat flour, you should look here. The question is, why have we all not been eating more of this stuff?
I have played around with a couple of different variations on my muffin recipes and love how they turned out. I made these when we returned from the pumpkin patch since it got me in the mood to bake something nice and spicy. The natural cane sugar on the top, looks like Christmas to me. These muffins froze beautifully too!
My new favorite flour, as of last night, is brown rice flour. I used the white rice flour with great results when I made these, but I was looking for a nice wholesome fall pancake. So, I figured I would give it a try. Brown rice flour is made from unhulled rice kernels. It is higher in fiber and still has the healthy fats and oils in it. It is a little more on the grainy side. So, I mixed it with you guessed it...a little buckwheat! I am a little afraid of xanthan gum at this point. I have heard people rave about it and people hate it. For me, it is too expensive to waste the money to buy it and have it fail. So, I am going with what I know works. Besides, I want to keep my recipes simple. I don't want to mix so many things to get the results I am looking for. I am feeling better about this new baking adventure. I like what we have come up with so far...aside from the bug muffins, so I will just keep on this path.
These pancakes were a lot like the harvest grain and nut pancakes at the local, franchised pancake establishment. They are fluffy with a nice firm outside and chewy inside. I was so happy these turned out so well! Now, the illustrator and I can have pancakes together again!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:02 PM   4 comments
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Cashew Ginger Cinnamon Fruit Dip
With the growing awareness of some form of gluten, dairy or soy in everything, I have started to make just about everything from scratch around here. Let's play the word game again. How luscious does cashew ginger cinnamon fruit dip sound? To me, pretty much heavenly! This dip is low fat, high protein and super creamy. Now, what if I called it a dessert hummus? That is where I lose you, right? Well, don't go too fast! This stuff is really good! I first started thinking about it when I saw this post on HEAB. Since I was so intrigued by the idea, I looked into getting some samples, but really the cost of this stuff is just way to high for my budget. I cook chickpeas all the time in my crockpot, so I thought I would just play around with it in my own kitchen. I started to look around in the pantry to see what I had to play with. I saw that we had some candied ginger, so I thought a nice dip to go with my daily apples would be a ginger cinnamon flavor. I wanted to add a little creaminess so I added some soaked raw cashews too. This dip is so rich and creamy that you could even use it as a frosting on cupcakes! I hope you give it a try...don't be scared!
Cashew Ginger Cinnamon Fruit Dip

2 oz raw cashew pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups cooked drained chickpeas
20 grams crystalized candied ginger (I used Trader Joe's)
2 TBSP agave necter
1/2 cup powder sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Soak the cashew pieces in water for 30 minutes. Drain the water off and then process all of the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate for a few hours to chill and allow the flavors to come together.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:53 PM   3 comments
Monday, November 16, 2009
Raw Cookies A Review
Do you play the word game? Meaning, do you get a mental picture of something when you hear the word? I know I do. With the changing food trends, the names of foods are changing too. My guess is, this is so you have a frame of reference when you hear the word. So, when I saw these raw cookies from SunPower Natural Cafe, I was very interested in what a raw cookie would be like. Ever since I have had so many cooked food issues, I have been exploring more options in raw foods. I have really been into eating foods much closer to their natural state. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect with these cookies. So, when I opened the package, I was a little surprised. Again, this goes back to what you envision when you think of the word cookie. I guess if you think of a round flat sweet as a cookie, then yes, these are cookies. For me though, I feel more like they are candies. Now, that is not a bad thing, I just would not necessarily call them cookies...maybe a confection. Ok, so now how do they taste? They are so good! I tried the Raw Fruit Burst Cookies, the Raw Cinnamon Cookies and the Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies.
First off, lets just say that I love when you can read, pronounce and know what every ingredient is in a food. It is very reassuring when you know exactly what you are eating. All three of these varieties are cashew based. I really liked the Fruit Burst Cookies. You can actually taste the variety of fruits. The orange really stands out to me. I love the mix of cranberry and orange!
Next is the Cinnamon Cookie...so good! Again, the cinnamon really shines through these little treats! I love cinnamon, so these were definitely a winner in by book!
Lastly, there is the Chocolate Chip Cookie. These were probably my favorite out of the three. The chocolate flavor is so deep and rich. I am not a chocoholic at all, but I can definitely appreciate a nice piece of chocolate and that is what this flavor has to offer!

If you are looking for some nice wholesome treats that taste decadent, then you would really enjoy the raw cookies from SunPower Natural Cafe.

Written for Go Dairy Free

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 1:21 PM   1 comments
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Pumpkin Oatmeal Again
I would say that I am a reformed pumpkin oatmeal addict, but really I have just cut it back to pumpkin season or whenever I can sneak it in! I used to eat this every day! It became a color issue. My color was becoming more and more orange. I did not mind, but when you happen to get sick with a cold or something that you may need to the doctor for...the doctors start to question the "jaundice" look. So, I have cut back, but not given it up! Since I roasted the sugar pumpkin and froze it is batches, I have been taking out containers to have in our oatmeal. I went back to the usual unsweetened applesauce and the illustrator said that he was missing the pumpkin. So, we are back to the pumpkin! I love this simple combination and it just makes me feel so good to to enjoy it on these cooler mornings!

Pumpkin Oatmeal

1/2 cup quick cooking oats or gluten free oats
1/4 cup freshly roasted pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
2 TBSP almond milk
brown sugar

Combine the oats through the pumpkin pie spice in a large mug or bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and add a little more water if needed to make a little creamier. Microwave for another minute, but watch it to make sure it does not boil over. Stir, add brown sugar and then pour the 2 TBSP almond milk on top.

Note: Don't stir in the sugar and milk. This is a little secret of mine when I eat my oatmeal. When you don't stir, you get a little bit of brown sugar and milk in every bite. So good!

I have posted on this before here, but I have changed it due to my dietary restrictions now.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:40 AM   3 comments
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Rice Pudding
It has been raining here...again. The temperature has cooled too...for now. So, I thought this would be a good time to share one of our favorite comfort foods for cooler weather. Rice pudding is something that the illustrator grew up on. I can see why he loves it so much. Could you really go wrong with the simple, yet homey combination of rice, milk (dairy free of course) and nutmeg? This dish is great as a dessert, but we have been known to eat it for dinner or breakfast as well. This recipe has been adapted from my mother-in-law's original recipe to suite the dairy free needs we have in our house now. Fortunately, it is already a gluten free dish!
Rice Pudding

4 cups cooked rice
2 cups dairy free milk (Almond and Hemp are my favorites)
2 eggs beaten or 1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar or pure cane sugar
1/2 cup raisins (ground in the food processor to form a paste)
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar or pure cane sugar

Combine all ingredients through the nutmeg in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup of sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. The sugar on top will form a beautifully browned crust. Garnish with extra milk and freshly grated nutmeg.

The nice thing about this dish too is that the flavors can be changed up to make it completely different. Coconut milk would be great in this one too!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 2:24 PM   8 comments
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Acorn Squash
Fall is my favorite season! I love the colors, the weather, the food...the list can go on. This year marked the first year I have been to a pumpkin patch. Seriously, this is what heaven looks like to me! Look at all of those glorious pumpkins!
We went with our good friends to pick out the perfect pumpkins and squashes to celebrate the season! As I write this, I realize how strange it is that I really have not cooked acorn or butternut squash more than once before. I also found a new squash for me...buttercup squash (also called autumn cup).
I love the flavor and texture of the buttercup. It was a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato in flavor and texture! I was really impressed by the amount of meat that was actually in this thing. I roasted it exactly how I did the pumpkin and it came out perfectly!

Let's just say that this is the season that I get my fair share of vitamin A in Beta Carotene. Who says you can't get a nice glow during the cooler months...without the use of self tanners!

We picked up some decorative gourds to enjoy throughout the season. Some were pretty crazy looking. We got a couple that looked like chicken feet! I love the variety in shapes and colors!

There was no way I was leaving there without getting a sugar pumpkin for roasting. This is the first time I roasted a sugar pumpkin. Last year, I roasted a large pumpkin and I thought it turned out so well. I wanted to see the difference in the roasted sugar pumpkin. Other than the color...I could not tell a difference in flavor. The color was a lot darker and richer in the sugar pumpkin. So, if you can't find a sugar pumpkin to roast, you can still get the larger ones that you find at the grocery store.
This is the scoop before it went into my pumpkin oatmeal. My favorite fall breakfast!
Now, for my acorn squash experiment. While this looks like a long difficult process, it was actually pretty easy because everything is done while the squash is baking...then you just have to wait. The great thing is that this can be prepared up to the last baking ahead of time. So, the biggest question I get from most people is..."how do you get enough protein in your diet". Well, I will say it again...you can get protein in more foods than just meat! I have really started to spread my wings when it comes to food. I think it takes a bit of a cooking slump and the purchasing of different ingredients to force you to start playing around. I knew I wanted to stuff the acorn squash with something. It is the perfect vessel for an all in one meal. So, I started to consider my meat free protein options to go with this slightly sweet squash. I should also tell you that I am more of a sweet person when it comes to these types of squashes. I just can't do the savory thing with it...that is just my taste. Back to my thought process. I looked in the pantry and realized I still had some quinoa. Ok, now that was perfect! A grain and a protein all in one. Then the wheels started to spin. The same friend that we went to the pumpkin patch with, also happened to share some apples with me that she had gotten from an apple orchard she visited just recently. Now, I had a plan! This was the perfect fall meal to enjoy the flavors, smells and colors of the season!

Quinoa and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash (about 2 lbs)
Wash, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Roast at 375 degrees in 1 inch of water with the cut side up for 30 minutes.

1/4 cup quinoa
3/4 cup water
Rinse the quinoa really well to remove any bitterness. Then, place quinoa in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.

1 1/2 cups diced apple of your choice ( I would recommend sweet)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Combine all of these.

Next combine the quinoa and apples. Then place half of the mixture in each half of the squash. Then sprinkle 1/2 tsp granulated pure cane sugar on each half of the squash. Bake for an additional 45 minutes.

When I ate this, I needed a little more sweetness. I poured a little maple syrup on it. It is up to you how sweet you want to go. The quinoa and cane sugar made the most wonderful crust on the top!

277 calories per half
This little critter was visiting while we shot photos of the acorn and butternut squash. You can see the squashes behind him. I love how the colors of the squashes enhanced his colors.

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 9:48 AM   3 comments
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Gluten Free Dairy Free French Toast
This started with a crazy loaf of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix.
This loaf of bread came alive in the oven! I don't know if this is typical, so I will be interested in trying it out again. As you can see, it fell a little after it cooled. Still thick and perfect for the illustrator's French toast this morning!
He was definitely happy about this. It has a slightly bitter taste to the crust, but not as bad as the Pamela's Mix did. Not that Pamela's was bad, it just had a stronger sorghum flavor than he liked. One thing I have definitely learned about gluten free food is that you have to find the right flavor and texture that suites you.
Dairy and Gluten Free French Toast
(for 1 hungry eater)

1 egg
1 cup almond milk
freshly grated nutmeg
3 thick slices gluten free bread

Mix together the egg, almond milk and nutmeg in a shallow bowl. Coat both sides of the bread with the custard mixture. Cook in a nonstick griddle coated with cooking spray to desired toastiness! Serve with your favorite topping.
I have to say, I am getting a lot more comfortable with the gluten free thing. There is a crazy science to it. The consistency of all of the flour mixtures is different. I am constantly amazed at how they all differ from start to finish. I would like to make my own mix for sandwich bread, but for now I am taking baby steps with learning how all of these flours work. It is always nice to have a quick version on hand too!
As you can see...the illustrator was a very happier camper this morning!

Since this post is mostly about the illustrator...I will share a little bit of his news here too. This month was the launch of a new comic book published by Del Ray (the first comic book by Del Ray) of Stephan King/Peter Straub's The Talisman...my husband is the illustrator of the interior artwork! This will be collected into trade and sold through Amazon! I am so happy for him!

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posted by Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen @ 11:41 AM   8 comments

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Sarena Shasteen - The Non-Dairy Queen
Home: Atlanta, GA, United States
About Me: Lactose Challenged
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