Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Let’s start this week out with some good ol’ fashioned carbs, we need them on a Monday, am I right?

Gluten free sandwich bread

I really am a jerk for keeping this recipe from you for so long. Kenny and I have been making amazing sandwiches with this bread for so long now, and if I’m being truthful with you guys, I was just being lazy and putting off photographing it. I know, how rude. But don’t worry, I’ve finally perfected it. We can still be friends, right?

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GF Sandwich Bread

Remember this picture that I shared on Instagram 10 WEEKS (!!!) ago? Well, that was my first attempt at this whole bread-making business. I’ve made it several times since then, tweaking the recipe ever so slightly until I finally found what I was looking for. My main rule for this bread was that I did NOT want it to turn out to be one of those GF bread recipes that uses 27 different flours to make the flour mix. This one only has 2. Yessss. Mission accomplished.

Gluten free sandwich bread

Gluten free sandwich bread

I used brown rice as the main flour component, and arrowroot starch as a binding and softening agent. I have also used cornstarch and tapioca starch in place of the arrowroot, and both worked well. I just happen to like the texture and consistency that the arrowroot gave to it. And just like any average bread recipe, it is yeast-risen, which makes it a perfect bread for sandwiches. I decided to throw a little flax meal in there, and it totally changed the game. It gives it a little bit of a nutty flavor, and I love that you can see the little specs of flax running all through it.

Gluten free sandwich bread

It is super soft and a little bit dense on the inside, and has a slightly crunchy crust on the outside. It slices beautifully, and is amazing with just about anything spread on top. We’ve done everything from butter, peanut/almond butter, PB&J, honey, tahini, and my personal favorite, avocado and sea salt. Get crazy with those toppings, and by all means, make yourself an epic sandwich.

Did I just say epic? Oy. Don’t hate me.

Gluten free sandwich bread

But for real, I’m just going to go ahead and invite myself over when you are making PB&Js. Okay? Okay.

 

Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Yield: Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast (equal to 2 packets)
  • 1 1/1 tbsp coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1 tbsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 egg whites

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl or measuring cup, add the sugar to the 1.5 cups of water and stir to dissolve. Then add the yeast and gently stir. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, it will rise and get foamy.
  2. While the yeast is rising, add the rice flour, arrowroot, flax, xantham gum, salt, oil, vinegar and egg whites to a large food processor with the S-blade attached.
  3. Add the risen yeast to the mixture and process for about 10-20 seconds, until the dough starts to come together. It will be a little more wet and sticky than your average dough.
  4. Spray a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray and pour the dough into the loaf pan.
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel, set aside and let it rise for 1 1/2-2 hours.
  6. When the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Bake for 38-40 minutes, until slightly golden on top.
  8. Let it cool in the loaf pan for 5-10 minutes before removing it.
  9. To finish cooling, carefully invert the pan upside down and let the bread sit in a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.
  10. You could also slice it warm if you want.
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Vegetable Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

How have I never made spring rolls before?! I’m so behind the times. Catch up, Candace.

Vegetable spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce

I don’t think I ever realized just how easy spring rolls are to make. I mean, duh, but I just never thought about it. You have to be a little patient (which is a quality I do not possess) because the chopping, stuffing and rolling takes a minute, but all in all, super simple. And ridiculously healthy.

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I will warn you though, rice paper is extremely a bit annoying if it’s your first time using it. It definitely took me a couple of tries before I could finally make one work. They stuck to my hands, ripped, were too wet, too dry, wouldn’t roll correctly, and OMG I’M GOING TO THROW THESE LITTLE TROUBLEMAKERS ACROSS THE ROOM! But then I decided that I’d rather not have to scrape rice paper off my walls. Finally, after two (only two!!)  failed pieces, I got the hang of it. After that it gets much easier, and the whole process goes by pretty quickly.

Vegetable spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce

Vegetable spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce

There are so many things that you can stuff rice paper with, the options are practically endless. You can put pretty much whatever you want in there, I think next time I’ll try baking them! Today I went with the good ‘ol vegetable classic. Carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, romaine, cilantro and of course avocado. You can’t leave the avocado out of this one, it really sets it over the top. AND THIS SAUCE! Let’s talk about this sauce! I’m pretty sure I got way too excited when I made it because it totally changes the spring roll in the best way possible. It’s made up of all of your regular Asian dipping sauce components, who all come together and make the most glorious spicy peanut sauce.

Vegetable spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce

Did I just say glorious? Yes, yes I did.

Please still be my friend.

Vegetable spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce

This kind of appetizer would be perfect for a girls’ night, mainly because my husband called it ‘girl food’. But whatever, we don’t care what he thinks. Next time, I’ll make these for my favorite girlfriends.

 

Vegetable Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Yield: Makes 12 spring rolls / About 1 cup of the peanut sauce

Ingredients

  • 12 pieces of rice paper
  • 3 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 leaves of romaine, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
  • Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp tamari (GF soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp rice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust according to how spicy you want it)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk all of the peanut sauce ingredients together. Set aside in the fridge and let it cool.
  2. Lay out all of your cut vegetables to have them ready for the rolling assembly.
  3. Follow the directions on the package of your rice paper to wet them and make them softer. Mine said to put warm water in a shallow bowl and gently dip the rice paper in there for 10-20 seconds, until soft and pliable. Be very gentle because they can rip easily.
  4. Carefully lay the rice paper flat onto a plate, then layer 2 pieces of each of the vegetable in the center. Top with a few leaves of cilantro.
  5. Starting from one side, carefully pull the paper over the pile of vegetables and roll once. Fold in each side like you are rolling a burrito, then roll the rest of it up.
  6. Continue for the rest of the ingredients.
  7. You can cut them in half to serve if you want. Dip in the sauce and enjoy!
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GF Tip of the Week–Be careful with oats!

gluten free tip of the week oats

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Oh, the gluten-free oat conundrum. Are they, or aren’t they gluten-free? That is the question.

Well, technically oats are a gluten-free grain. BUT because of the way they are grown and processed, they are widely cross-contaminated with gluten. This of course makes them unsafe for a person with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance to consume them. And that’s a bummer, if you ask me. But not to fear, there are several companies that are making it easier for us G-freers to be able to eat our morning bowl of oatmeal. I personally love Bob’s Red Mill brand because they make absolutely certain that their oats are not cross contaminated.

From their website…
”At last, oats that people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can enjoy, too! Each farm delivery we receive is sampled hundreds of times and tested with an R5 ELISA gluten test to ensure the absence of gluten. Advanced color-sorting removes undetected impurities. Roasting enhances that wholesome robust flavor you expect. Finally, the oats are packaged in our 100% gluten free facility and tested for gluten again to ensure their purity.”

This makes me feel safe eating my endless bowls of oatmeal. So, if you can tolerate the regular kind of oats, then great, but if you are severely intolerant, I wouldn’t chance it.

 

*This is not a sponsored post, I just wanted to tell you about one of my favorite products along with this week’s tip.

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Cooking with Candace – Lubbock Dream Center

I’ve been so excited to write this post to tell all of my invisible internet friends about some fun things I’ve been doing lately. I know I’ve mentioned the cooking class I’ve been teaching a couple of times in the past few weeks, but I wanted to get a few weeks under my belt before I told you all about it. And of course, to get a few fun pictures for you! A huge thanks to one of my closest friends and fellow coaches’ wives, Stephanie, for being the photographer for this post!

Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

First, let me tell you a little bit about the Dream Center

History…

The Lubbock Dream Center began as a vision that God gave Pastor Jackie White, Senior Pastor of Church on the Rock…
In 2006, Pastor Jackie began to see how God had called his congregation to reach out into a part of the community that it had previously had very little impact on. He began to look at a square mile within our city that was in desperate need of spiritual, physical, and emotional growth. Today, the land and building that are in place, the ministry and outreach that is taking place, and the multitude of lives that have already been touched are a by-product of Pastor Jackie and Church on the Rock’s willingness to step in and remain a part of this neighborhood. The vision and ministry outlined below has grown from that point, and we believe will continue to grow and evolve in order to best see this neighborhood radically changed.

Vision…

The Lubbock Dream Center’s vision is to be a place of ministry to the people of this community…
Our vision is to literally see social and spiritual transformation come to our city. We desire to see the hearts and minds of people transformed by the Word of God and by the love and acceptance of the body of Christ. That transformation will bring about life pattern changes, economic rise, and neighborhood improvements.

The Lubbock Dream Center Mission…

…take people from dependence to a place of responsibility
Our desire is to take people from dependence to a place of responsibility. The Lubbock Dream Center will begin by meeting the people’s basic needs and building relationships with them. This will open the door for spiritual needs to be met, which will in turn bring social transformation.

The Current Situation…

The Lubbock Dream Center is currently working to accomplish its vision and mission through the following ministries and outreaches:

  • Food Ministry
  • Clothing Ministry
  • Adopt A Block Ministry
  • Life Skills Training
  • Adult Literacy Education
  • Computer Education
  • Special Neighborhood Outreaches
  • Faith Based Twelve Step Programs
  • Sunday Morning Services
  • Agape to local schools and other agencies
  • Women’s Ministry
  • Men’s Ministry
  • Partnership with Churches and Schools

Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

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It was really just luck and coincidence that brought me to the Dream Center, and I couldn’t be any more grateful that God put me in this place with so many amazing people. I have been having so much fun with the amazing women that have participated in the cooking class, which just happens to be named “Cooking with Candace.” (not my idea, ha!)

Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

The purpose behind the class is to show these women how to incorporate the food that they receive each week from the food pantry into their everyday meals. My main goal is to show them that eating a healthier diet doesn’t have do be difficult or expensive. We have made several different dishes that include lots of food from the pantry, as well as a couple of fresh produce ingredients. We have made a pasta dish with a spinach and tomato sauce, avocado tuna salad, and a vegetable-packed tomato soup. All of them have been a hit, mission accomplished!

Dream Center

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Cooking with Candace - Lubbock Dream Center

If you have the chance to partner with your local outreach center, you won’t regret it. It may sound corny or cliché, but I really feel like I am getting more out of this experience than I could ever give to these women.

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Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Parfait

Oh breakfast, how I love you. Today, I basically just took your average bowl of oatmeal, threw it in a glass, made it pretty and called it a parfait. Fancy, I know.

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Parfait

Okay, maybe not, but I like to think I’m a little fancy sometimes. My husband would laugh and beg to differ. Whatever. This is no revolutionary oatmeal, but I did flavor it with some fun and delicious things like blueberries that are totally in abundance right now at the farmer’s market. Kenny and I have been going through fruit like it’s going out of style lately, so of course I’m putting it in my favorite meal of the day. I’m convinced that pretty much any fruit on the planet will go well with almonds. They’re meant to be.

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Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Parfait

I tend to get a little boring with my oatmeal in the mornings, so this is my small attempt to change it up a bit. I usually don’t add yogurt to it, just some peanut butter, fruit and nut, but I think the yogurt adds a little something to the parfait. And because you know I’m a weirdo about texture, I like the little bit of crunch the almonds give to the dish. Without them, it would just be a bunch of mushy oatmeal and yogurt. No thanks. You could really use any fruit or nut you want in this. Peaches, strawberries, raspberries, apple, pecan, walnut, just get crazy.

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Parfait

The parfait is really easy to put together, it just takes a few extra seconds, but makes it a little more fun to eat. Does that make me a 5-year old? Okay, fine.

 

Blueberry Almond Oatmeal Parfait

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup GF oats
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (I used goat yogurt, but use whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the oats, water, vanilla and cinnamon. Let simmer on low-medium heat for about 7-8 minutes, until oatmeal is cooked to your liking.
  2. Let the oatmeal cool for a few minutes before layering it into the parfait.
  3. Mix the yogurt and honey together to sweeten.
  4. To build the parfaits, spoon the oatmeal into the bottom of each glass, then layer on a spoonful of yogurt, then blueberries and almonds. Repeat layers until you have used all of the ingredients between the two glasses.
  5. Top with extra toppings of your choice (raisins, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, etc....)
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GF Tip of the Week–The Cost of Homemade vs. Store-bought

Is it just me, or does it frustrate anyone else that the store-bought gluten-free cookies, crackers, pastas, flours, cake mixes, breads, frozen foods, etc. are SO much more expensive than the non-GF kind? I mean, come on grocery stores, help a sister out. Some of us live a gluten-free lifestyle because we have to, not because we choose to, and it can be a little annoying when you have to pay special prices for your special items.

So, in order to alleviate our grocery bills a bit, we are going to talk about making more of these things at home instead of buying them. And besides, we all know that it can be much healthier to make your own homemade sweet treats or bread items even if you aren’t gluten-free. This way we know exactly what is going into our food, rather than seeing that the box of cookies I just bought has 56 ingredients in them (half of which you can’t pronounce). I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take 56 ingredients to make cookies.

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Making your own food is not as hard as you might think, and it is actually very rewarding. Here are a bunch of recipes (from me and some of my fav bloggers) that will help you make pretty much anything that you can buy in a box at the grocery store.

Cookies
{3-Ingredient} Vegan Banana Nutella Cookies
Cranberry Lemon Cookies
Flourless Pumpkin Pie Cookies
Grain-Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Raw Coconut Cacao Almond Cookies
Chocolate Black Bean Cookies
Grain-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Crackers
Savory and Sweet Crackers
Almond Poppyseed Crackers
Gluten-Free and Vegan Graham Crackers

Flour Mixes
Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix
Gluten-Free Cake Flour

Bread
Paleo Herb Dinner Rolls
Homemade Corn Tortillas
{Healthier} GF Cinnamon Rolls
GF Flatbread
Grain-Free Sandwich Bread
Buckwheat Millet Quick Bread

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Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans + Chard

Over that last few months, Kenny and I have significantly cut down on our meat consumption. We were both impacted in many different ways by the documentaries Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. These two films really opened our eyes to so many things, from how our health is impacted by animal products in general, to this country’s farming and food industry practices. It has made me think about a lot of things very differently. I knew that our food system in America had its downfalls, but I don’t think I ever realized how many of those downfalls existed.

Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans and Chard

I was never a big meat eater, even before we started to change the way we ate, so this transition wasn’t too hard for me, but I think it took a little bit longer for Kenny to get used to it. Although, I have to give him credit, he has always been a meat lover, and he was pretty much all in with this new way of eating. I was shocked, and honestly didn’t think he would last, but he surprised me. He still has a few servings of meat per week, but that is much less than it used to be.

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In our quest to drastically cut down on meat in our diet, I have had fun coming up with new ways to incorporate vegan sources of protein into our daily meals. Rice and beans is always a go-to because it provides a complete source of protein, so I decided to do a little take on that with quinoa today. Quinoa is a complete protein all on its own, so you are getting an even bigger boost with this meal.

Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans and Chard

Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans and Chard

I didn’t go crazy with the seasonings on this one, I just cooked the quinoa with a few garlic cloves and seasoned everything with salt and pepper. Then I bumped up the flavor at the end by making a quick little lemon vinaigrette to mix into it. Seriously, I could eat the vinaigrette with a spoon.

Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans and Chard

I love to make one-bowl meals like this, I’ll make up a big batch and then we will eat on it all week. Easy peasy.

 

Garlic Quinoa with Red Beans + Chard

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans (about 1 can)
  • 1 bunch red chard, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
  • Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • small pinch of kosher salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized pot, combine the quinoa, water, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all of the water is dissolved. Fluff the quinoa with a fork when done.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, wilt the greens. In a large skillet, add the oil and the greens. Stir constantly until the greens are almost wilted, this only takes about a minute or so.
  3. When the greens are almost done, add the beans to the skillet. Give it a quick toss and let it saute together for about another minute.
  4. Add the quinoa and greens mixture to a large bowl and stir to combine.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients, and pour the vinaigrette onto the quinoa mixture. Stir to coat.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
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Our Trip to Vegas and Portland, OR

Phew! We’re back home! We had an amazing time on our vacation, but it feels good to be home and sleep in our own bed. We had a pretty packed week, we crammed three cities into 8 days! We like to get crazy on vacay.

Our first stop was Vegas. We were really only there for about 36 hours, and that was plenty for me. Neither of us had ever been to Las Vegas, and it was definitely everything I was expecting it to be. It was chaotic, crazy, loud, entertaining, and so much more. I don’t know how people go to Vegas for a week at a time. I wouldn’t be able to hang, apparently I’m an 89 year-old woman who likes to be in her bed by 10pm. It’s fine, I can accept that.

Vegas Collage

By far, my favorite thing we did was see the Cirque du Soleil show, Zarkana. It was absolutely one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Other than that, we just walked up and down the strip, tried to take in all of the craziness, acted like tourists and ate lots of good food. I was expecting Vegas to have a few more GF options than they did, but we were able to find a couple of restaurants that were very accommodating. All in all, we had a great time in that crazy town. Our friends kept asking us “What are two people who don’t drink or gamble going to do in Vegas?!” Well duh, sight see and eat!

Restaurants in Vegas…
Buffet at The Aria – I always avoid buffets because they are a definite no-no when it comes to cross contamination, but this buffet got rave reviews online, so we decided to give it a try. They had lots of options for gluten-free items, and were good about cross contamination. Everything was labeled with whether or not it had gluten or dairy in it, and apparently the chef has a wheat allergy, so that made me feel a little better.
Mozen Bistro – They had a whole gluten-free menu with things like pancakes, french toast and even muffins. I got the pancakes, and they were delicious. Probably some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. They have a separate part of the kitchen that is designated for the gluten-free items.
Mon Ami Gabi – I was a little bit worried when we went here because they are not an all GF kitchen, but the waitress was very helpful, and they took the precautions to avoid cross contamination. I got the chicken paillard, it came with kale and roasted beets. Yum.
Sushi Roku – Their sushi was great, and they offered gluten-free soy sauce. The waiter was very knowledgeable when it came to the sauces and marinades.

 

Our next stop, and the main part of our vacation was Portland, OR. I’ve wanted to visit Portland for quite a while, I’ve always heard that they have an amazing gluten free food scene, and it is absolutely true. We were beyond impressed with all of the 100% (and other very accommodating restaurants) gluten free places that they have in Portland. There were so many options that were not only gluten free, but vegan too. We were both in food Heaven, and I’m pretty sure we took in enough food to feed an army. It was glorious, but we came back so full (and happy), that all we want is kale for about a week. Ha!

Portland 1

The only word that Kenny and I could come up with to describe Portland is eclectic. That just about sums it up. The people were SO laid back and chill, and extremely friendly. The city was very different that anything I’ve ever seen before. It is made up of so many different neighborhoods, each having their own unique character and vibe. Seriously, it’s such a cool city, I kind of want to live there at some point in my life.

Portland 2

We also explored a couple of surrounding cities in Oregon. On our first day there, we drove east, out to the Columbia River Gorge. This whole little excursion was GORGEOUS. It is so green in Oregon! A far cry from Lubbock (no offense LBK). We stopped at Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in OR, and did a short little hike out there. Then we kept driving out to Hood River, one of the cutest little towns ever. We even ran across an adorable little juice bar/truck thing. The girl working there happened to be from Texas, we obviously became instant friends.

Portland Food

On our last day, we decided to drive out to Seaside, OR (on the coast), which was only about 1.5 hours away from Portland. It was a really cute town that was having a 4th of July parade. One of my blogging buddies, Lee, just happened to be in Seaside on the same day, but we somehow missed each other by like an hour. It was so sad!

Portland Food 2

Restaurants in Portland…
Harlow – A mostly gluten free and vegan restaurant that is the bomb. We had breakfast here, and I loved it! The people that were working were so friendly, and the food was great. We got pancakes (that were just a tad too sweet), but still amazing, and a scramble bowl with brown rice, quinoa, beans, greens, eggs and avocado. We devoured that food. It was definitely one of my favorites, I loved the general vibe.
Back to Eden Bakery – A 100% GF and vegan bakery, hallelujah! We both loved this place, so much that we went back a second time! They have sweet and savory things, and we liked everything we tried, which was a lot. Their salads were good, and we also tried a cookie, 2 different donuts, a cinnamon roll and the chili and cornbread. Sheesh, we spent some money at that place ;)
Besaw’s – Definitely not GF, but I read good reviews online about how they take precautions. We both had a burger, and they do go the extra step to avoid contamination. They put the GF bun on a plate to go through the warmer, and cooked the burger on a different flat top. The waitress was knowledgeable and knew that their house made chips did not have a separate fryer.
Teote Areperia – Another 100% GF place. The arepas were amazing. We each got a plate of pulled chicken arepas, rice, beans, and fried plantains. Oh yum!
Kure Juice Bar – I have been told that you can’t go to Portland without going to Kure, and that was great advice. Even though it was just simple smoothies that we got here, Kure was one of our favorite places. If I lived in Portland, I would spend way too much time there. I got a vanilla protein smoothie with kale one time, and then the next time got a smoothie bowl that was topped with tons of fruit, GF granola, coconut, and goji berries. I inhaled that thing. I’m definitely going to recreate it!
Dick’s Kitchen – This was Kenny’s favorite. They are extremely acommodating, and cooked my salmon burger on a different flat top. The GF buns were great, these were some of the best burgers we’ve ever had. I loved the vibe and their general outlook on food and nutrition. They are all about local, sustainable, healthy food that nourishes. Right on.
Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Ohhhh my goodness. We loved this place! Once again, 100% GF and vegan bakery. We tried several things there, but our all-time favorite was by far the salted caramel bar ice cream. Probably the best thing I ever put in my mouth. They partnered up with Salt + Straw to create this vegan ice cream, and it was amazing.
Blossoming Lotus – Lots of GF options, and completely vegan. We stopped in for a light dinner one night, and each got smoothies and shared some vegan nachos. We loved all of it.
Mississippi Pizza Pub – This is definitely a laid back, very casual place, windows and doors open, you are practically sitting outside even while you’re inside. They make their GF dough at another facility to avoid cross contamination, and cook it in a different oven. They even have vegan cheese options, I got the vegan mozzarella and it was delicious.
Cultured Caveman – I have heard so much about this food cart that I felt like I just had to try it. They were a little more meat centered than I would have preffered, but I was kind of expecting it since it is paleo after all. The chicken tenders were really good, and so were the collard greens.

We had a really amazing time on our trip, and if you have never been to Portland, OR, you have GOT to go. If for nothing else, at least go for the food. It’s the bomb. Our vacation was refreshing, exhausting, relaxing, basically everything we needed.

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4th of July Recipe Roundup

Who’s excited about the food and fireworks that come with the 4th of July?! I am I am!! I’m going to be spending the 4th in Portland this year, on a little vacation with the husband, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to round up a bunch of my favorite recipes that would go perfectly with all of the July 4th festivities!

You guys have fun, be safe out there, and God bless the USA! Smile

4th of July recipe collage

Sweets
Raw Mini Berry Pies {Vegan, GF}
Blueberry Peach Crisp
Cranberry Lemon Cookies
Grain-Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Raw Coconut Cacao Almond Cookies
Raw Brownie Bites
Skillet Apple Crisp

Main Dish
Turkey Chili Verde
Loaded Nachos with Vegan ‘Cheese’ Sauce
Crispy Baked Chicken Wings {2 ways}
Crock Pot Turkey & Bean Chili
Kale and Apple Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Hot Italian Sausage with Roasted Broccoli and Carrots
Kale, White Bean & Sausage Stew
Quinoa Sausage Balls

Sides
Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese
Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese with Poblano
Summer Cucumber Salad
Roasted Patatas Bravas with Sriracha Lime Sauce
Warm Zucchini & Corn Salad
Roasted Potato & Green Bean with Dijon Vinaigrette

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Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps

I had only had a falafel one time before making these little guys, and that was at a legit Middle Eastern restaurant back home in Houston. It. Was. Awesome. This was a few years back, so I was obviously eating these deep fried balls of goodness without knowing that I was allergic to them. Bummer. But not to fear, I made you some, and I think I did the original ones justice. And I think I created a monster in the process.

Baked falafel lettuce wraps

I knew that it was going to be a challenge to recreate the ones that I had at that restaurant to be equally as tasty, but I think I did it. It was a pretty lofty goal, see as how I definitely wasn’t going to fry them. Because, you know I don’t fry things. So baked it is. And surprisingly, they have almost the same texture as the fried ones! Score.

Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps

Baked falafel lettuce wraps

I wanted to pump up the nutritional value even more, so I used quinoa in the batter mix instead of another type of flour or grain. I really like the flavor and texture that it gives to the falafel. They are slightly crispy on the outside, and super soft on the inside. I did some major damage to the batch that I made. I’m pretty sure I ate at least 75% of the batch, and Kenny was left with 25%. Oops. I couldn’t stop eating them. And besides, he called them girl food. Whatever, more for me.

Baked falafel lettuce wraps

I ate on these alllll week long, on salads, with roasted veggies, in a wrap, by themselves (straight into my face hole), and even for breakfast with eggs and the amazing yogurt sauce that you see alongside. They’re so versatile, I never got tired of them.

Baked falafel lettuce wraps

Baked falafel lettuce wraps

After writing this, I just decided to go make another batch. Stat.

 

Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps

Yield: Makes about 20 falafels

Ingredients

    Falafel
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 of a large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled + roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used goat yogurt)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Lettuce wrap components
  • butter lettuce leaves (or romaine)
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • summer cucumber salad
  • avocado

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a food processor, add the chickpeas, onion, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda and sesame seeds. Pulse until you have a thick paste, without almost no chunks.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpea mixture, quinoa and parsley. Stir together until evenly combined.
  4. Form the falafels with your hands by taking about 2 tbsp of the mixture at a time. Gently roll it in the palm of your band to form a ball, and place it on the baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned and slightly crispy on the outside.
  6. While the falafels bake, make your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the yogurt sauce ingredients and let it sit in the fridge until ready to use.
  7. Build your lettuce wraps by layering the falafels, veg components and sauce into a lettuce leaf.
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