Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

I've been feeling a little lethargic for the past few days. I've had a slight headache and low energy. This could be because it's really cold outside and I'm off from work for the week. Or it could have something to do with the change in my diet. When changing diets, it's very possible to feel worse before feeling better. This is part of the detoxing process and actually means good things are going on in your body. It happens when giving up anything - caffeine, cheese, meat, sweets, etc. It can be tempting to eat whatever food it is that you're missing to alleviate the symptoms, but it's best to let body detox and just rest while you experience the symptoms. It should only take a few days or so for the symptoms to subside.

I wanted to make something something that was high in nutrients to help me feel better, so I made stuffed peppers for dinner last night. I make this recipe from Vegetarian Times every once in a while, and of course, I alter it a bit. I halved the recipe since I do not need to feed 8 people, omitted the cheese, celery and garlic (I think giving up garlic is worse than giving up wheat!), added more tomatoes and used less onion. I also sprinkled in a little bit of nutritional yeast to replace the cheese. Even when the recipe is halved, it makes up quite a lot of filling, and would probably still fill up 4 peppers.

Spinach is on my list of foods to avoid, but I still had a half a bag in the freezer, so I used it. I'm sure any other leafy green would work nicely. And speaking of leafy greens, I also sautéed up some red kale to serve on the side.

Dennis loved this dinner so much that he actually applauded after eating it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tostada Pizza

I bought rice pizza crusts, which kind of look and taste like giant cornflakes for some reason. But I topped them with all sorts of goodies -- refried beans, diced tomatoes, sautéed onions and peppers, guacamole and a sprinkling of hot sauce. It was a tasty lunchtime treat!

A Wheat Hangover

I'll be honest: I'm still phasing out most of the foods I'm sensitive to. Since there have been so many holiday celebrations, I haven't given anything up completely yet. On Sunday night I went to a potluck with the vegan group I belong to. I decided to try just about everything, allergies be damned! All of the food was super tasty and I enjoyed every wheat and soy soaked bite of it. Until Monday morning. I woke up with a bloated belly and rumbling intestines and I felt totally exhausted. I guess I learned my lesson! I need to be more careful when eating the foods I'm sensitive too, especially wheat.

And speaking of wheat, kamut is a relative of wheat, but a lot of people with wheat sensitivities can eat it without a problem, so I decided to try it. Kamut is higher in protein than most grains, and is also high in selenium, zinc and magnesium. I've been trying to eat more foods that are high in magnesium to get my levels up. Kamut does contain gluten, so it's not suitable for people with celiac disease.

I bought kamut flakes last week and decided to make them for breakfast. They look like rolled oats, but cook up much faster. (3 minutes!) I added goji berries, sliced bananas, pumpkin seeds, ginger and cinnamon, and then drizzled a little maple syrup and sprinkled some hemp and chia seeds on top. Delicious!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I'm a bit of a cookbook junkie. When I first went vegetarian many years ago, there weren't too many good veggie cookbooks on the market. Now they're released with such frequency that I can't keep up. I tend to buy them, flip through them, put them on my bookshelf, ignore them and then claim that I have too many too chose from. I've made a New Year's resolution to no longer neglect my books and I've already started paying more attention to them. For the past week, I've been taking them off the shelves, flipping through them and marking any good looking recipes that are free of all of the foods I need to avoid. Yesterday I was quite surprised to find that most of the baked goodies in Dreena Burton's Eat Drink and Be Vegan are wheat free! I immediately ran to the kitchen and whipped up a batch of You Got Your Peanut Butter in My Chocolate Cookies. These cookies are made with spelt flour and unrefined sugar and peanut butter is swirled in after all of the rest of the ingredients are mixed in. They are a bit reminiscent of a chocolate peanut butter cup and are very tasty!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Spaghetti Squash

Who needs processed dry wheat flour sticks when nature has made the perfect noodle hidden inside a giant vegetable?

It's a little difficult to tell from the photo, but this is spaghetti squash and veggies. I kind of threw this together with stuff from the fridge, and it turned out to be absolutely scrumptious. There is no recipe, but here's what I did:

I cut open and roasted a squash in the oven for about an hour. I sautéed about a quarter of a yellow onion, a small chili pepper for some spice, some chopped shiitake mushrooms, a handful of sliced sundried tomatoes, a bunch of sliced kale, half a can of chickpeas, and a 14 ounce can of chunky tomato sauce. When the squash was done, I scooped it out of the skin and mixed it with the veggie mixture and then sprinkled some nutrional yeast over it in place of grated cheese. It was really delicious and strangely, it seemed to taste better with every bite!

Spicy Carrot Lentil Soup

It's a cold and rainy day here in New Jersey and I ate a lot of food yesterday, so I wanted something warming but light for lunch today. Spicy Carrot Lentil Soup to the rescue! This is a recipe I learned in a cooking class and made a few changes to make it my own. I toasted up some red rice bread to serve with it.

Spicy Carrot Lentil Soup

Serves 6

1 cup red lentils
5 cups vegetable broth
1 pound carrots, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
14.5 oz can copped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped or 1 teaspoon minced chili
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
Roasted pumpkin seeds (recipe below)

1. Place the lentils in a strainer and rinse well under cold water. Drain and place in a large pot together with the vegetable stock, carrots, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are tender

2. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the cumin, coriander, chili and tumeric and fry over low heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.

3. Process the soup in batches until smooth in a blender or food processor. (Or keep the soup in the pot and process with an immersion blender.) Return soup to the pot and add the spice mixture. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds and enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 tablespoon apple sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups shelled pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable oil.

2. Whisk apple sauce, lime juice, and oil in large bowl.

3. Whisk in spices.

4. Add pumpkin seeds; toss. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading evenly.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool on sheet.

Boxing Day Breakfast

December 26th is Boxing Day in England and areas that were settled by the English such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It has nothing to do with beating someone up, but rather giving gifts to tradesmen, mail carriers and doormen, as well as charities. The origins of the name are unclear, but some believe that it came from people giving gift boxes to their servants. Others think it comes from the boxes that were placed at church doors for parishioners to deposit coins for the poor.

Here in the US, the day after Christmas is usually the day people hit the mall to return unwanted gifts and take advantage of after Christmas sales. For me, it's the day I lay around in my pajamas, watch television and read. And eat of course. Delicious food must be a part of any day!

I started the day out with absolutely delicious apple cinnamon spelt pancakes. I'm not usually a big fan of pancakes, but this recipe won me over! They were made with spelt flour, rice milk, cinnamon, baking powder and diced apples. I topped them with soy free Earth Balance and maple syrup, and they didn't last long!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Birthday Feast

Holiday Greetings!

Dennis and I went to Veggie Heaven Denville for his birthday dinner this evening. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of dining at a Veggie Heaven, they serve delicious vegetarian Chinese food. Most of their entrees consist of mock meats made from soy and wheat, and it was a little difficult for me to not to order an big plate of mock chicken. I settled on broccoli and eggplant in garlic sauce with brown rice. (They mixed both veggies together for me even though they're on the menu separately.) Yes, I'm supposed to stay away garlic, and yes, I'm sure there was some soy in the garlic sauce, but I doubt the small quantities of those ingredients would do any harm. The meal was absolutely delicious and I didn't miss the mock meat at all!

Instead of cake, I baked a birthday apple crisp. The recipe is another one from Clean Food. The recipe calls for walnuts, so I just replaced them with cashews. It's made with apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, brown rice flour and rolled oats, and is sweetened with maple syrup, so it's pretty much guilt-free. I topped it with a little bit of Soyatoo's Rice Whip, and it was rather tasty!

Merry Christmas to you, and I hope Santa brings everything you wished for!

Birthday Brunch

Today is my significant other Dennis's birthday. I always make him a nice birthday brunch. This year's menu consisted of red flannel hash, sautéed swiss chard with shiitake mushrooms, spelt chive mini biscuits (from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch), sparkling apple cider mimosas and herbal tea. It was super delicious!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pad Thai (Sort Of)

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that the food in this photo doesn't look very appetizing. But looks can be deceiving! This was a quite a tasty meal.

Much to my excitement, I found rice noodles at a local mega-chain grocery store today, so I thought I'd try my hand at Pad Thai. In the past whenever I've had a hankering for this delicious peanutty noodle dish, I'd just order it from the Thai restaurant in town, so this was my first attempt at making it. I omitted tofu from the recipe, but momentarily forgot that I'm allergic to corn and added baby corn. Also included were broccoli, red peppers, mushrooms, bok choy and sugar snap peas. The veggies were stirfried in a tasty spicy peanut sauce, served over the rice noodles and then the whole dish is topped with roasted peanuts. Mung bean sprouts are traditionaly in Pad Thai, but I couldn't find any today and I used up all the sprouts that I just bought in the dish I made on Sunday. This was delicous and very filling and I'll definitely be making it again!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clean Food

Tonight's dinner was Bok Choy and Mung Bean Sprout Sauté with Peanuts and Scallions from Clean Food by Terry Walters with a side of black quinoa. It was mighty tasty! Fortunately I'm not allergic to peanuts, so I piled them on.

If you're unfamiliar with quinoa, you absolutely must try it. Not only is it delicious, it's extremely nutritious. It's a complete protein, is high in iron, magnesium, B vitamins and fiber. Studies show that it helps prevent migranes and lessens the risk for heart disease.

Clean Food has has a lot of wheat and soy free recipes, so I'm going to be cooking from it a lot. Stay warm and stay tuned...

Spelt: The Staff of Life

It's a snowy Sunday here in NJ, and what better way to spend the day than baking? I've decided to use up the wheat flour, soy milk and nuts by baking cookies to give as Christmas presents. I made chocolate chip, almond and tahini coconut walnut cookies. (All of the recipes are from Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik.)

It would just be cruel and unusual punishment to do all of this baking without making a sweet treat for myself so I decided to make chocolate chip spelt scones. The recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Bruch. The book does contain spelt scone recipes, but this wasn't one of them, so I substituted the wheat flour for spelt flour and the almond milk for hemp milk.

According to the package of Arrowhead Mills Organic Spelt flour, spelt is "the Staff of Life". The package also says that spelt is "an ancient cousin to the modern wheat, delicious and nutritious. Spelt was one of the first grains to be grown by early farmers as long ago as 5,000 BC". Spelt is high in protein, manganese, magnesium, copper, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. Although spelt is in the wheat family, people with intolerances to wheat can usually tolerate it, so I decided to give it a try.

This was my first attempt ever at making scones, and I have to say that they came out pretty well. They weren't very "sconey", but instead seem more like giant healthy chocolate chip cookies, which still taste good. Since I have to stay away from regular tea, I made myself a cup of red rooibos. It was the perfect snowy Sunday treat!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Allergen-Free Shopping Trip

Today was my first wheat-soy-corn-nut-free shopping trip to Whole Foods. I made the mistake of picking a day that we're expecting a big snow storm to go to the grocery store, but I managed to make it in and out in one piece.

I picked up some Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour, Spelt Flour, Pancake Mix and Xanthan Gum. (What would I do without Bob's Red Mill?) I also got some sample sized packets of Vega protein shake powder as well some hemp powder to help out with amino acid transport problem. The doctor said I should increase my oil intake and vary the oils I cook with, so I bought grape seed oil, avocado oil and peanut oil. Also on the shopping list were spelt bagels, red rice bread, rice macaroni and spelt noodles. Yesterday bought some vegan wheat free baked goodies at The Montclair Bread Company.

I was planning on weaning myself off of offending foods and I didn't want to throw anything away, but I just had too much of all of it in the house. After having tofu salad on a whole wheat wrap for lunch, I decided to clean out the cabinets. I'm sure I will be feeling the affects of that sandwich later and I'm anxious to start eating allergen-free. I threw away a few things and put aside some things to give to friends. I'm going to bake some cookies to give as gifts later so that I can get rid of some the wheat flour and nuts I still have. There are still a few things let in the house that I'm allergic to, but I'm getting closer to being allergen free.

Tonight's dinner will be a red curry, and it will probably be the last for a while since coconut milk is on my list of no-nos. I'm also planning on making spelt chocolate chip scones later.

If you're on the east coast, stay inside where it's cozy and warm!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Greetings and welcome to my first blog post!

Over the course of the past month, I've been undergoing food allergy tests. I eat a healthy vegan diet, but for a while, I've been feeling that something's "not quite right" and after learning a little about food allergies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I decided to get tested to see what's going on.

There are different types of allergic reactions - skin scratches test for one, and blood tests check for another. Based on my random list of symptoms, the doctor suspected that I had both and ordered all sorts of tests.

On Monday I received the test results and was shocked to find out just how bad my allergies are! Blood tests showed that I'm highly allergic to wheat! I knew that wheat was a common allergen and many people have a sensitivity to it, but it never really occurred to me that I would be one of those many! Soy and corn are also allergens for me. The blood tests also showed that I'm also highly allergic to egg and cow's milk, so it's a good thing I'm vegan!

I didn't have any bad reactions to anything in the skin scratch test, but I did have many minor ones. The biggest reaction I had was for almonds. (The beloved almond!) The rest of the foods I had a reaction too are:
Garlic (Ack!)
Black Pepper
Spinach (Noooooo!!)
Tea (Now this is just getting cruel.)
Cow's Milk
Goat's Milk

My blood tests also showed that I am deficient in vitamin D and magnesium, and I have a problem with my amino acid transporters.

The doctor prescribed a bunch of supplements and told me to stay away from everything on the allergen list for a few months. I will be going back in two months to repeat the blood tests to my progress can be monitored.

I have so many of the offending foods in the house, and I don't want to waste food and money, so I'm gradually weening myself off of soy, wheat, corn, nuts and all of the other yummy foods I had reactions too. I eat so many of these foods on a regular basis, that this is going to be a difficult few months, but I like to get creative in the kitchen and I'm always up for a challenge, so I know I'll survive it.

The purpose of this blog is to record my progress with all of this. Since I am a creative person, I know it's a little lame that I am using blogger and am not uploading my own artwork, but I've got enough to do right now. At some point, I'll probably be moving the blog over to and making it look all pretty-like, but for now, its home will be here on blogger.

Thanks for tuning in...