lifestyle, Recipes

Vegetarian Gluten-Free Tacos Three Ways

This blog post is dedicated to my VIP subscribers, Lindsey and Alex, who are dipping their toes into the vegetarian world in 2021. If you haven’t seen some of my older posts, I am lifelong vegetarian since, quite literally, I was in the womb. I asked them what recipe they want to see done on the blog first – Lindsey picked tacos. So, here are my simple vegetarian, protein-filled, gluten-free tacos done three different ways!

TORTILLAS!

First, get the tortillas going. I use soft corn tortillas as they are typically gluten-free. Just check the ingredients and make sure their is no gluten flour added to the corn mix! I heat a nickel-size olive oil in a small pan, and cook one tortilla at a time while I work on the rest of the ingredients. Cook until it slightly browns, flip, remove from heat. Add another bit of olive oil for each tortilla. I cook them this way because it crisps them up and helps prevent them ripping and spilling your taco everywhere.

PROTEIN!

My all-time favorite is using Gardein beefless crumbles for the meat. They are vegan and gluten-free, and cook super fast. I put some olive oil in the pan, dump the frozen crumbles in, and add 1 full packet of gluten-free taco seasoning. You can add a tiny bit of water or more olive oil as the crumbles heat to keep them juicy.

Second-best: regular ole canned black beans. Pro-tip, when you’re out to eat at a mexican restaurant, they have black beans. Ask if you can do tacos with black beans, or whatever your usual order is, subbing in black beans. I microwave my black beans for 60 sec. or you can cook in a pan until heated.

Last but not least: pre-packaged and seasoned Tex-Mex jackfruit. I throw a little olive oil in the pan and then empty the jackfruit package into the pan. If it’s pre-seasoned and marinated, you likely don’t need to add much. Cook until heated through.

TOPPINGS!

Add whatever you normally like on your tacos! I did butterhead lettuce, fresh salsa, fine-shredded Mexican cheese, avocado slices, cilantro and lime squeezed on top!

My biggest tip to anyone looking to try going vegetarian or vegan, is don’t try to jump from eating meat regularly to this idea of a vegetarian who eats only veggies, fruit and drinks green juice every day. You won’t last. Start simple by making the usual meals you eat and subbing the meat with one of the countless amounts of veggie meats you can find today.

Questions for a lifelong vegetarian? Comment below or DM me on instagram!

lifestyle, Mom Stuff, Personal, Recipes

The Meal Service You Need in 2021

Photo from Hungryroot.com

I have gotten so many questions on my Hungryroot subscription so here is my full review now that I’ve been using it for a few months!

I have been searching for a while for a meal service that had a good selection of healthy gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian recipes. A lot of the popular meal service companies have vegetarian plans, or gluten-free plans, but rarely a good selection of recipes that are both. Hungryroot was the first one I’ve found that has a large amount of gluten-free and vegetarian recipes. On that note, you can customize the recipes you can choose from based on your own dietary needs. They provide the 10 minute recipes and the raw ingredients – so the meals are not prepped/pre-packaged. Hungryroot is essentially a half-meal plan, half-grocery service.

The plans start at $59 a week. I started at about $100 a week, then went down to $80 a week, and now I’m at $59 a week for now. I will probably go back and forth between about $60-$80 a week from now on. You can skip or reschedule deliveries whenever you want. The pricing depends on the amount of “servings” and meals you choose. However, once you select your plan (say you choose 2 servings each, 2 lunches and 3 dinners), your plan converts to Hungryroot “credits.” This is key! Here’s why:

You can edit your delivery based on recipes or groceries. The way I get more meals for my money now is I sort the recipes (I shop by recipe) from lowest credits to highest credits. So, instead of getting 3 meals that are 12 credits each, I can get 7 credit meals and get more meals for the same plan. You can also fully shop groceries only with those credits. I aim for 4-5 recipes, 2 servings each, and I normally have 1-2 credits left to add grocery items, like dressing, a pack of ramen or a snack. Here’s a snippet of how I browse through recipes by credits. The 28 credits is for my current $60/week plan.

The recipes are divided into categories of stir-fries, pastas, flatbreads, market plates, grain bowls, warm bowls, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, wraps, salads and bakes. The ingredients include fresh produce, some popular health brands, and Hungryroot’s own branded items. Some of my favorite popular brands they carry regularly are Beyond Meat, Banza pasta, Lotus Foods Ramen and Nutpods. A few of my favorite Hungryroot brand items include their Four Cheese Gluten-Free Tortelloni, Superfood Tomato Sauce, Cashew Cheddar Sauce, Spicy Refried Red Beans and their Hearty Tofu Veggie Burger. With my pre-set dietary preferences, I do not view the meat and gluten options when I select my recipes, but you can browse their current options on their website without setting up an account.

My typical weekly delivery will include a salad, tacos, grain bowl and a pasta, with maybe a couple snacks or extra packs of ramen.

You have a certain day each week you have to edit your delivery by. If you forget, they will choose the recipes for you based on your dietary preferences. This comes in handy for me so much because I often forget to choose my recipes by the deadline!

What I love:

  • The convenience of not having to shop, especially with a baby and during Covid.
  • It is so worth the money to me to not have to plan out each meal, easily select a few recipes each week, and have them show up at my doorstep.
  • I can’t accidentally overspend at the store. If you set me loose in Hyvee to get stuff to make a homemade pizza, or do pasta night, I can easily drop $60 for that one meal. This prevents me throwing random unnecessary stuff in my cart that will go to waste (and I’m really trying to limit our food waste!).
  • The pricing is constantly adjustable and you can skip a week when you don’t need it.
  • All my meals are balanced and have a healthy portion of protein, whether broccoli, protein pasta, beans, tofu etc., which is so important as a vegetarian.
  • The products, especially Hungryroot’s own brand, are so tasty, healthy and have good ingredients. A lot of the products they carry are also organic.
  • Their packaging is insanely eco-friendly down to the ice pack which doubles as plant food??
  • The recipes only take about 10 minutes which is ideal for this working mama with long work days and a long commute. Matt also doesn’t mind prepping dinner for me some days because it’s so easy to do!
  • Hungryroot is sustainability focused!

What I don’t love:

  • The delivery service they use is kind of sketchy. We have had some strange characters deliver and they always fly up the street in creepy unmarked vans LOL
  • I’ve had a few deliveries with missing items that showed they were checked off on the inventory sheet in the box but weren’t in there
  • I would like if the website adjusted more to what I usually order. For instance, I typically order tacos, pasta, salad and grain bowls. I never get any of the thai food with peanut sauce or stir-fries. Just not my style. When I miss the edit deadline though, I always end up with stir-fries and peanut thai food that I literally never pick (still within my restrictions of gluten-free/vegetarian). So, it would be nice if it sort of tracked my preferences better.
  • There were a couple weeks where their recipe selection was unusually limited. I don’t know if it was Covid-related or not but I haven’t noticed that issue again in a couple months.

Overall, my verdict is – I will be sticking with Hungryroot for the foreseeable future! I am addicted to the convenience of not only the cost-friendly delivery to your doorstep, but also the convenience of having pre-planned, simple and balanced 10 minute recipes within my dietary restrictions. For a busy mom, I have yet to find something that fits my needs so well.

If you want to give Hungryroot a try, you can use my referral code S7CAXUEN for $40 off your first delivery!

Let me know in the comments if you have any specific questions I can answer!

lifestyle, Recipes

Vegan Gluten-Free French Toast

IMG_3405.jpeg

Hey hi hello, Tiana the brunch lover here. You know what’s so frustrating? Going to gluten-free friendly brunch spots but they don’t EVER have gluten-free french toast, and it’s definitely not vegan.

I’ve been experimenting with flaxseed meal as an egg replacement for a while now, using it for everything from cupcakes to pizza crust. I was craving french toast the other day and decided to try using flax meal as an egg replacement for french toast. GUESS WHAT! It actually worked, and it was delicious.

Here’s how I did it! You will need:

  • 1-2 packages Schar Deli Style Bread
  • Flax Meal (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
  • Almondmilk
  • Vanilla flavoring/extract
  • Vegan Butter

The key with using flaxseed meal as an egg replacement is always using one part flax meal to three parts water. To make one “egg,” you would typically do one tablespoon flax meal and three tablespoons warm water. You then let it sit for about five minutes, mixing in between, until it forms an egg-white texture. For this recipe, using only one package Schar bread, I did 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal and 3/4 cup warm water. After it began forming an eggy texture, I mixed in about half a cup of cold almondmilk.

Whisking the mixture, I then added a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to cover up the flax taste (vanilla almondmilk will help with this too!).

From there, you simply dunk the bread in the mixture, being careful to not let it sit because the gluten-free bread will crumble easily, and slap it on a hot, buttered frying pan.

You will use A LOT of butter, as the flaxmeal coating on the bread is very sticky. It might be better on a non-stick pan, but we use stainless steel over here.

Add butter to the pan as needed, and cook to desired browning level. Remember – you don’t have to worry about cooking the egg-soaked bread to the right temperature because it’s eggless!

We topped ours with blueberry preserves and powdered sugar! The blueberry spread compliments the buttery taste of the toast so well! If you’re a plain butter and syrup kinda person, try Walden Farms calorie-free pancake syrup.

Let me know how it works for you! ALSO – comment below with your favorite french toast topping!

 

Recipes

GF Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Salad

I am a huge fan of buffalo anything. One of my favorite things to make for football Sundays or any kind of event that warrants finger food snacking is buffalo cauliflower “wings.” Also – I eat chickpeas ALL THE TIME. You’ve probably seen my chickpea salad on my blog or instagram feed before. Consider this a major flavor upgrade from that!

IMG_2303.jpeg

What you need:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Spring mix/greens of your choice
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Red onion
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • Daiya Vegan Homestyle Ranch
  • Sea salt or pink himalayan salt
  • Black pepper

Step one: Spray frying pan with a good amount of coconut oil spray, or begin liquifying about 1 tbsp coconut oil in pan. Add drained can of chickpeas, 2 pinches of salt, and a dash of black pepper.

Step two: while the chickpeas are cooking and crisping, prep the cold salad base. Use spring mix, halved cherry tomatoes, slices of avocado and cucumber, and a few slices of red onion.

Step three: Once the chickpeas have gotten a little crispy, with partial blackening, add the buffalo wing sauce. You want enough to coat all the chickpeas. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens and the chickpeas have a good coating of buffalo sauce.

Final step: top the cold salad with the hot buffalo chickpeas, and top it off with vegan ranch.

Enjoy!

Uncategorized

Vegetarian Gluten-free Chicken Penne

IMG_6560ed

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m all about quick, easy, but YUMMY dinners. No one likes to come home from a long, hot sweaty day at work and spend an hour+ slaving away in the kitchen. But I do know one thing… I come home with an enormous appetite. SO, I’ve learned to find a balance between saving time, making dinner easy, and making it yummy and filling!

Here’s one of my favorite dishes to make: Gluten-free penne with Gardein’s Chick’n Scallopini w/ spinach, tomato and vodka sauce.

For the pasta, I prefer Barilla gluten-free penne because it is the absolute best gluten-free pasta I’ve tried yet. The texture isn’t weird, it doesn’t cook weird, and it tastes just like the real gluten-filled yummy stuff!

Boiling Barilla GF pasta in a pot, add olive oil to a frying pan. Add the Chick’n Scallopini to the frying pan, add seasonings, and cover. The seasonings I used were thyme, Italian seasoning, oregano, black pepper and a pinch of salt.

When the Chick’n Scallopini is thawed through the middle, remove and slice into strips. Put back into the frying pan when sliced. Next, add a few handfuls of fresh, rinsed spinach and cook that down until the spinach is dark and shrunken. Finally, add freshly cut roma tomatoes and add more seasonings to taste.

Once I have all that in the frying pan, I like to crank up the heat to get a little sear on my Chick’n and tomatoes!

Add the cooked Chick’n, tomatoes and spinach to the drained, cooked pasta and add vodka sauce. Make sure to check that your vodka sauce is gluten-free! (I use Classico!) If you want to make this dish but VEGAN, choose a different sauce with no animal products. The vodka sauce has milk, but the Chick’n Scallopini is totally vegan!

AND NOW, enjoy with a glass of wine… Or two 😉

To find out where you can pick up some of Gardein’s amazing products, click HERE!

The Barilla GF pasta is at most of the grocery stores around me. Check your local grocery store for their products! If they don’t supply Barilla’s GF pasta, make sure to request it! 🙂

 

Uncategorized

5-Day Juice Cleanse

IMG_6320ed.jpg

Happy Monday everyone!

I’ve been juicing on-and-off at home for a couple months . I bought a cheap juicer to see if, MAYBE, this could be something that works for me. Turns out, it’s the only thing that stuck in regards to living a healthier lifestyle. Since I started my juicing expedition, I’ve done a lot of research on juicers, vegetables and fruits that are best for juicing, what each vegetable and fruit has to offer for your health, and additives for your juices that can make drastic changes in your daily life.

Today I’m starting my very first actual “cleanse” and I’m aiming to make it last five days. That means no food til Saturday, just nutrient-rich juices! I’ve experimented with many recipes and I’ll be using the ones that I like the most (obviously) because it will be easier to stick to. If I can stick to it, I’ll be doing a blog at the end of the week detailing how I felt throughout the five days.

Right now, I’ll be sharing my 4 favorite recipes that I’ll be using each day, Monday through Friday. I will not include amounts for some of the ingredients because each juicer is different and uses different amounts of produce to make a glass of juice.

  1. Breakfast Greens (breakfast) – spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, 1 lemon, 1 orange, locally produced honey, chia seeds, turmeric.
  2. Skinny Jean (lunch) – 2 grapefruits, 2 lemons, 1″ fresh, peeled ginger root, locally produced honey, fresh-picked basil.
  3. Snack juice (snack) – Watermelon & 2 limes
  4. Tomato juice (dinner) – Roma tomatoes, peeled carrots, 1 fresh bell pepper (orange, yellow or red), 1 lemon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, thyme.

If I get hungry after dinner, I will be making a variation of the breakfast greens with pineapple for my splash of citrus rather than the orange and lemon.

A few notes on some of my chosen ingredients:

  • Locally produced honey is said to help with seasonal allergies because it contains the local pollens and allergens of your area. One spoonful a day may help your daily struggle! Check your local farmers markets or local farmstands to find some close to your home!
  • Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and are associated with multiple health benefits, including lower cholesterol, stabilized blood sugar levels, improved digestion, higher energy levels, reduced risk for diabetes, increased fiber intake, stronger teeth and bones, improved insulin response, and appetite regulation.
  • Turmeric! My dad calls this one the magic cure-all spice. It contains a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps reduce enzymes in the body responsible for pain and swelling of arthritis. My nifty juicing bible also cites studies that say turmeric may help prevent colon cancer and Alzheimer’s!
  • Ginger, while best-known for its anti-nausea properties, also helps stop the production of free radicals. It also is associated with decreased blood pressure, reduced cancer risk, and relief from arthritis pain.
  • Cayenne pepper is derived from a pepper that is known to contain high levels of Vitamin A. The pepper is also linked to pain reduction and congestion relief.
  • Cumin is a great source for your iron needs, which is essential for your immune system! It has also been linked to improve digestion and prevent cancer.
  • Thyme is a great source for Vitamin K, and has been historically used as a natural remedy for respiratory illness. My nifty book also states that it may also provide antioxidant and antibacterial benefits! Lacking calcium? Thyme is also a great source for it!
  • Basil: my awesome book cites a study where a tea made from basil leaves may have helped shrink tumors in mice. How cool! It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It may also help protect cells from free radical damage.

If you’re thinking about getting into juicing, I highly recommend you snag the book linked above! It’s my go-to for everything juicing! It even breaks down the difference between types of juicers!

As a side note: obviously fruit juices taste better than vegetable juices. The problem with juicing too much fruit is that your juices will be very high in natural sugars and calories! Try to do vegetable juices, but counter the taste with a little citrus, as you’ll see in my juices above.

Comment with any questions you have about juicing!! I’d love to put this knowledge to use outside my own kitchen 😊

 

Uncategorized

Gluten-free Cast Iron Deep Dish Heaven

pizza1

I’m an Italian with Celiac Disease.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

I was so devastated when I finally figured out what was making me so sick, because that meant my normal diet of bread, pasta, and pizza was going to change drastically. No more Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish downtown, no more Olive Garden breadsticks…

Even though my options of eating out at my favorite Italian places are still limited, I’ve learned to adapt and use my kitchen to recreate all the things that I miss. Some things I make from scratch, others I use gluten-free kits to help me out. One of my favorite lines is the Betty Crocker Gluten Free line.

The Betty Crocker Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix is my favorite. It’s only like, $3.99 max, unlike the other overpriced GF alternatives (that don’t even taste good).

I decided to try and recreate my vision of the perfect Chicago deep dish with the Betty Crocker crust and a cast iron pan, and I was amazed at how close I got to the real thing! Here’s how I did it:

  • Prepare Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix according to box directions. You’ll notice that the last step says to bake the crust for 13-18 minutes or until golden brown before you add your toppings. I skipped this step because I was cooking a deep dish in a cast iron pan.
  • Use olive oil to grease the cast iron pan and spread the dough in the pan, making sure to cover the inside of the pan’s sides with dough as well!
  • Use an entire package of sliced mozzarella cheese and layer on top of the dough.
  • Place any toppings you’d like on top of the cheese. I used sliced roma tomatoes, sliced red onions, and fresh spinach.
  • Cover with pizza sauce. Make sure you check that the sauce you’re using is gluten-free! (If you’re new to the gluten-free life, here’s a handy list of ingredients to watch out for).
  • Add spices on top to taste. I used thyme, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and fresh-picked basil leaves from my basil plant.
  • I cooked mine for 30 minutes at 425 degrees and I loved how it turned out! It’s the closest I’ve gotten to Lou Malnati’s or Rosati’s since I realized I had Celiac Disease.
  • ENJOY YOUR LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN!

I checked the Betty Crocker website to see if I could find stores that have this product, but I couldn’t find it in their list of GF products yet! By google search, I found it should be at Walmart and Hyvee. I found mine at my local Butera. You can always talk to your local grocery store and request products as well! This would definitely be one to request if you’re GF!