Category Archives: Veggies & Fruits

GF Spinach-Cheese Buns

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Gluten Free Spinach Cheese Buns

Don’t worry.  I’m here.  I cannot believe it has been so long since I last posted.  In my mind, I’ve posted a dozen times since the last.  Hmm… that must be what happens when sleep deprivation takes over:  you dream that your blog posts are getting updated when really… you are just dreaming it to be so.  Sorry guys.  Life is hectic and absolutely fabulous.  I *DO* have a few posts in play, so please don’t fret.  The emails and comments are incredibly encouraging to this mom/blogger/PERSON.  Thank you.  You don’t know how much it helps to know that this little blog does indeed help someone else manage their own gluten-free journey.

Managing two little ones and working full-time has definitely made me become much more organized about our family schedule and menu.   We’ve always eaten together and we continue to do so.  Now the baby joins in with congee (rice porridge) and other such fabulous baby friendly foods.  I can’t wait until she can dive into a cup of greek yogurt with me for breakfast.  :)  Just a little while longer.

For now, I intent to savor the moments I have with my girls that happen when the cameras are far from handy and none of us are ready for a flash anyway.  I will treasure the laughter our little family of four shares while lying on the bed in our pajamas late in the mornings on the weekends.  I love hearing the girls squeal with delight while we lie about telling stories or talking about the “adventures” we will have during the day (even if the adventure is merely a trip to the grocer… it is always an adventure).

Or the moment this morning when I peered around the corner and spied Zoe laying at the edge of our bed with her hand jutting into the bassinet to hold her sleeping baby sister’s hand.  She smiled at me when she saw me watching and said “Mama, I’m blowing baby Ro-Ro kisses so she will wake up.”

Sigh.

Yeap.  My life is golden. :)

And as far as gluten-free baking and cooking go?  We are on a roll!  We’ve made some fabulous ricotta flatbread, perfectly balanced small peanut butter-oatmeal cookies (and froze the batch of dough for easy access in small quantities), etc.  Tonight, I thought I would post an easy bump to the cheese bread recipe I posted a year ago.  I know this recipe well now.  it is a go-to recipe in the middle of the week and leftovers are great for lunch (for me, as I have a microwave and a toaster (GF) at work in my classroom).  (JUST AN FYI for those of you who plan like I do:  The leftovers do need to be reheated somehow or they are dry in taste/texture.  So know that when planning for dinners that can be packed up for lunch the next day too.)

The Chicklet loves well seasoned spinach.  Particularly that found in her favorite Korean noodle dish:  jap chae.  Jap chae is made with GF sweet potato noodles and is fabulous.  However, it does contain soy sauce, so don’t order it when you are out and about unless you know they are using GF soy sauce (really UNlikely, FYI).  I will post a jap chae recipe in the upcoming weeks.  It’s easy and is a fabulous way to use up veggies too.

But because she loves spinach like that, and no other way.  I decided to make her some spinach-cheese buns for dinner one night.  In a way, I am lucky.  My girl doesn’t care for breads, pancakes, muffins nor cakes, etc.  She likes veggies, fruit, meat and the other basics.  But I knew she would like these.  I made rolls for us all and also smooshed some of the dough to make a mini-pizza crust for her dinner too.  (There’s nothing like cutting food into shapes to get a girl eating!)

If you are living a fast-paced week and looking for a quick recipe to incorporate veggies in a fun way, this is for you.  I can’t wait to hear what you all do with this base as well.  I am making some with sun-dried tomatoes this week.  And, I think they would be fabulous with pesto flavors too.  YUM!

Gluten Free Spinach Cheese Bread

Gluten Free Spinach-Cheese Bread Photo by Kate Chan

 

Gluten Free Spinach-Cheese Bread
Makes 12 – 1 1/2 inch wide biscuits/rolls

Ingredients:
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 1/4 cups tapioca flour (same thing as tapioca starch)
2 cups shredded cheese (we used an Italian blend)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons dill
2 teaspoons dried chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450F.
  2. Quickly blanch your spinach leaves by dropping them into a pot of boiling water until wilted (2 minutes).  Remove from the water quickly.  Drain/strain the leaves.  Then squeeze the water out of the leaves.
  3. Finely chop your blanched spinach – or pulse them in a food processor/mini-blender.
  4. Mix together all ingredients in your mixer well.
  5. Form in to balls (about 1 1/2 inches or 2 inches) and slightly flatten. (Almost make them in to small disks, if you want them to look like what is in the picture… or leave them as puffed balls! You decide!)
  6. Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm with sandwich fixings or your favorite soup.

Please let me know what you serve with your buns.  I’m always on the look out for a great addition to our sandwich fixings.  Tonight, I am making these to accompany our chicken, mushroom and wild rice soup recipe that I have slowly cooking away at home while we are at work.  I can’t wait for dinner. :)

Hope you enjoy this recipe too!
~Kate

 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Tomorrow shall be a BIG adventure for our little one.  We are off to a pumpkin farm with her Aunt Kari.  Pumpkins are a big theme around here. I’m not sure that Zoe will actually let me cut into the pumpkin she picks out to make a Jack-O-Latern with her.  She won’t let me touch the two little ones that she has now.   The other day she wanted to draw a face on the little pumpkins but when she saw that the marker wouldn’t come off, she wigged.  No pumpkin coloring for her yet.  Maybe when she sees ALL of us cutting and carving pumpkins, she will change her mind.  I’m willing to bet that she will be thrilled to see me carve *my* pumpkin but that she is not going to allow a knife anywhere near her pumpkin.

Case in point:  the pumpkin fries.

I bought two small pumpkins (about 2 pounds each, I think) to make pumpkin fries.  Zoe likes squash so I though she might like to try these pumpkin fries.  However, when I went to cut the pumpkins, she wasn’t happy.  In fact, I had to put the pumpkins aside and get her occupied doing something else.  Like play with her lavender-orange scented rice with scoops and funnels.

Playing with textures
Playing with textures by Kate Chan

Looking on

Then, and only then, could I start peeling and chopping.  Once she saw me happily peeling and preparing the pumpkin fries, there was no problem. She wanted to see the inside “guts” of the pumpkin and we talked about roasting the seeds, etc.

Zoe snuggled up next to my legs drinking her juice and munching on GF cheese crackers as I was prepping the pumpkins. And Rory was in a bouncing chair nearby watching it all go down and cooing away. It brought back memories of standing on chairs around our kitchen table as a kid while I scooped out the pumpkin I was going to carve.  I thought about how much fun I will have when both girls are old enough to carve pumpkins around the kitchen table with me.  Oh, the joy of two little ones.  I just hope time doesn’t steal all of the good opportunities away from me with it’s speed.

I’m going back to work a week from today.  It’s killing me.  Every second that I can, I am listening to the girls.  Rory’s little coos are enough to make time stop and fairies rejoice.  Zoe’s stories keep me company everywhere we go.  She and I headed to the cell phone store (again…really obnoxious third visit in five days….grrrrr) and she kept me laughing the entire ride, wait and trip home.  She tells great jokes (okay… repeating the same joke 700 times really does wear you down and make you laugh more somedays) and she loves to learn.  Both of these girls are the absolute joys of our lives.

Leaving the tiny moments to return to the ebb and flow of traffic, “to do” lists, papers to grade, lessons to write, emails to answer, etc has me just at the edge of breaking.  I can’t imagine what I will miss with them.  I don’t want to even think about it.  I can’t.  It hurts too much.  Instead, I am just trying to take comfort in the times that we will be together and the plans and things that we can do together then.  After all, I am incredibly lucky to be a teacher in the sense that I will have more time with my girls than some friends of mine who work a full calendar year.  I’m just worried about the fact that a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school day does.  I work until 11PM sometimes and usually on Sundays too.  I’m worried about the impact on my family and my girls.. and to me, to a lesser extent.  I am definitely in need of setting some different professional expectations for myself as well.

I want more time with my kids.

More time to play in the buckets of rice.

More time to watch the seasons changing and teach them about the leaves changing colors, etc.

More time to cook and eat healthy food at a normal paced and not rushing through everything.

More time to listening to the stories that bloom from our days and adventures together.

More time to hear the coos turn into words and into stories of their own.

Just more time.

We all want that, don’t we?

So I guess I will just seize the opportunities as they come and as we make them.  Like making pumpkin fries and talking about Halloween when I was little with them.  And for those of you who are curious, Zoe is not interested in dressing up this year for Halloween.  She doesn’t think it sounds like fun (yet) to be wearing a costume or a wig or make up, etc.  Ah well, more time for me to savor my little one at home.  (And honestly?  MUCH less temptation to eat too!  We are giving out mini Play-doh containers.  Those leftovers will surely be loved to bits by the girls and my high school students.  LOL)

Since it is pumpkin season, now is the time to make your own pumpkin fries and relive or create some memories.  I made two batches of oven baked fries.  One was savory and the other cinnamon-sweet.  Both will enjoyed by Zoe and I.  We highly recommend you giving them a try yourself too!

Cutting pumpkin fries

Cutting pumpkin fries, Photo by Kate Chan

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Ingredients (per batch)
1 two pound + pie pumpkin

for Savory fries:
olive oil
salt
pepper
optional: ground garlic, ground ginger

for Sweet fries:
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and scoop our pumpkin.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut pumpkin into fries.  (I cut mine into 3-4 inch long sticks that are about 1/2 inch thick.)
  5. Toss one pound of the cut fries in a tiny bit (maybe 1 tablespoon, or two?) of olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste).  Consider tossing in some of your other favorite spices combinations like:  ground garlic +ground ginger, cumin + fennel, etc.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Toss the remaining pumpkin fries in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  7. Spread savory fries out in a single layer on one prepared cookie sheet and the sweet fries on another.
  8. Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pans.  Flip the fries over.  When you return the fries to the oven, be sure to rotate the pans as well.  Whichever was on the top shelf, move to the bottom and vice versa.  Continue baking another 15 – 25 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a deep golden brown color on the edges and the top.

Enjoy with your favorite meal – or eat them for dinner like Z & I did!

Happy Gluten Free Eating!
~Kate

Gluten Free Bean Burgers

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GF Chickpea Burgers

Gluten Free Chickpea Burgers, Photo by Kate Chan

The beauty of maternity leave, as I am discovering, is being able to spend time with my girls as our own pace.  On the weekends, rather than running every errand imaginable, we can have little adventures with the girls as a family.  (Although, I do reserve plenty of errand running to be down with My Love’s help as an active toddler and a newborn can make “quick trips” into afternoon outings.)

This weekend, we were lucky enough to meet with a family who is also in the adoption process – waiting for their child to be ready to travel.  We drove up to Seattle to a public park where we visited as best anyone can with a toddler itching to ride down the slide MORE MORE MORE or swing MORE MORE MORE.  Poor little thing thought that the random soccer balls or bicycles were part of the “community playground” as well as she was quite disappointed to learn that they weren’t.  Her disappointment was brief, however.  As soon as she had turned her head away from the longed-for-object, she spotted yet another delight that made her squeal and off she went with one of us close on her heels.  (And yes, the Peanut/baby was with us… just snuggled up and completely asleep.  She’s very accommodating like that.  My life is going to be much more challenging as soon as the little one is mobile, that’s for sure!)

 

Z's first ferry ride

We decided to continue our adventure and bring Z on her first ferry ride, too.  She was delighted to have Daddy “drive the car on the boat, Momma!” (repeat statement 1,000 times for full toddler-loving-joy effect).  Even more exciting to her was learning that we could all get out of the car and go upstairs for the brief ride across to the island. Oh, she was in heaven.  And I was trying to balance a camera along with a loosely wrapped baby in order to get some pictures to document her joy.  Only…. the Chicklet didn’t want to do anything but rush to the side to see the water and life passing by.

"Oh, Daddy! FUN!"
(And no, he isn’t scowling. Between the wind and the Chicklet leaning, I think he thought she might just go over. LOL)

We were lucky enough to head over to The Hardware Store where Daniel Ahern (aka “The Chef” of “Gluten Free Girl and the Chef“) works.  I knew he would be cooking that night so the chances of my getting a delectable gluten free meal were spot-on.   And I was SO RIGHT.  The food was great!  I dreamt of that fabulous gluten-free buckle all the way home and wondered why I hadn’t bothered to just buy some more for the drive home!  OMG.  SO freakin’ delicious.  (Even better, Shauna has the recipe on her blog. So now I can make it any time I want and not have to pay the ferry fee!  Who knew!  I always thought a “buckle” was something related to Texas and belts!  LOL)

Another thing I didn’t know (among many), is that we would also be lucky enough to have Shauna (Gluten Free Girl) and her little Lu join us as well.  It was great as I hadn’t really planned anything, but as soon as I knew we were heading to Vashon Island, I might as well try to see if she was available to meet up.  LUCKY US!  And really – lucky Zoe!

Zoe and Lucy are a few months apart in age.  It was fun to watch the girls twirling about and toasting each other with apple slices.  (Seriously, each spontaneously hold up their apple slice and tapping the other’s while saying “Cheers” quietly.  I hope I remember that cuteness for quite a long time!)  Zoe apparently has a little Mother Hen in her (I am avoiding the control freaky term I really want to use).  When Lucy will skidoodle off to greet and play with a restaurant patron or employee that she knew (obviously, Dad works there…), Zoe would rush to her and say “Lucy-ah!  Oh, no!” and then put her arm around her to herd her back toward her Momma.  (Ay ay ay…) But hang on, it gets even more 2-year-old.  Lucy is getting her molars (poor babe), so just as Zoe did, she is eating ice.  Unlike Zoe, however, Lucy can reach in to a water glass to get her ice cubes without having a conniption that her hands or clothing are wet…. requiring (in Z’s mind) a wardrobe change. Since Zoe loathes wet clothing, we just instilled the rule “No hands” if it was going to lead to a mess.  So as soon as Z saw Little Lu reaching in for her ice cubes, the tattle-tale came out full force “Oh, oh, oh!  No hands, Lucy-ah! No hands”.  She was fixated.  And we talked briefly about different strokes/rules for different folks.  Thankfully, the apple slices appeared then and the two-year-olds did their thing:  off dancing and twirling and saying cheers…. and dreaming of Buzz and Elmo.  Cuties.  I hope they can play together again some day.  It was hard for Zoe to leave her new found friend.

Shauna and I got a chance to talk about food.  We both thought about the good things that our kiddos are eating.  And how they eat things just because we do.  I know this is true from a cultural standpoint as well.  Zoe will eat things that I never even knew existed when I was growing up:  tofu? chicken feet?  sushi? roe?  Yeah… these items were not on your standard Minnesota menu in the 1970s, that’s for sure.  I actually think that learning about food because of my diagnosis in 2000, made me more aware of the huge variety of foods.  Living in a city (Chicago) made access to all of those things SO much easier too.  It was an easier transition from gluten to gluten-free than it could have been considering in 2000 there were not the plethora of blogs or internet resources that exist today… let alone the variety of foods in the grocery stores that are clearly targeting the gluten-free group.

More importantly, I was able to put those middle school cooking classes to work for more than just soups and cookies.  I could easily follow instructions to make new things and I wasn’t afraid to try something different (although it did take me another year or two before I would try to recreate any of my childhood favorites).  Mostly, I wanted to keep learning about fresh food and keep trying new things to eat healthier.  Now that there are kids in the house, this is more important than ever.

It blows my mind when I learned via Jamie Oliver/Food Revolution that this generation of Americans has a lower life-expectancy than do we due to their poor health. And poor nutrition is certainly a major contributor to that.  And while my Love and I are not the fit-King/Queen that we want to be, we have vowed to work to get there for our kids and to continue to eat whole, healthy foods as a family.

It’s not gourmet.  It’s natural, whole foods.  And cheaper too.

On the ride home, I was thinking about the different things we had discussed and laughed about together.  Mostly, I was thinking about her upcoming book tour (NY in just a few days, people!  Go see her!) as well.  I was wishing that more people could meet her and see that she really knows how to grab the bull by the horns well, okay…. I think she could probably grab a little lower… and call it like she sees it.  The food that is in her latest book Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is GORGEOUS and will make you do two things (1) go buy a kitchen scale, if you haven’t done so already) and (2) make you dream of licking the photos like I was doing the first night I got the book home.  When you read it, you will see that she isn’t cooking to be pretentious.  She is cooking what they love.  What they “play with”.  What makes them “dance” in the kitchen.  She writes short vignettes of life that make reading the book a delight.  (Especially for those of us with little ones around!)  I can’t wait to cook my way through the recipes…let alone read the snippets too.

Making it for yourself.

Today, I was craving buckle (again) but the Chicklet asked for Chickpea burgers for lunch.  It surprised me a bit because she really likes these when I make them with mung beans or black beans.  I thought about her request in relation to Jamie Oliver and Shauna.  How many other kids are asking their parents to make bean burgers for lunch? I know quite a few, actually. And I’m hoping with books like Shauna’s, programs like his, and efforts like all of us gluten-free folks to make whole, natural foods for our families is taking hold.  Maybe we can reverse that prediction for our kids.  Now wouldn’t that be worth it?  (PS. Shauna!  Good luck with the book!)

Try it.  Try out these easy-to-adapt bean burgers.  In lieu of chickpeas, use black beans or pinto beans or mung beans (cooked, of course).  Use the flavors and seasonings/herbs that make your tongue and tummy happy.  You can’t go wrong.

Gluten Free Chickpea Burgers
Makes 4 large burgers or 16 “sliders”

Ingredients:
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas (or other bean) (if not using canned, than 16 ounces cooked beans), drained/rinsed
1 cup leftover or cooked brown rice
1 egg
1/2 cup grated (or shredded, if you prefer) carrot
1/2 cup finely diced apple
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 Tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) chili powder
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro (or basil or dill or other fresh herb)
3 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
salt/pepper for seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a small processor (or with a fork), mash the chickpeas into a medium bowl. (I prefer to use a mini-food processor when using chickpeas)
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix very well.
  3. Form into 4 large patties or sixteen small patties.  Set aside.  (Some people cover and refrigerate their patties for 1 – 2 hours at this stage to help them stick together and bind better.  I don’t mind if my burgers aren’t completely patty-set when I cook/eat them, so I skip this step for convenience too.)
  4. There are two ways to prepare the burgers:  with or without oil for frying.  Either way, heat your pan up over medium-heat for a couple minutes. If using oil, add a swirl of olive oil (not the sesame oil – that should be in the bean burger mixture) to the pan.  When the oil (or just the pan, if not using oil) is hot, add the patty (or patties).  Cook on each side 3 – 4 minutes or until browned.  Flip gently with a spatula.
  5. Serve with gluten free buns or lavash bread or without.  Serve with tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, feta cheese, tomato relish, salsa, greek yogurt, cucumber raita or tzatziki or whatever you enjoy.  (Z always votes for barbeque sauce!)

Enjoy!
~Kate