Trip to Italy, Belgium, and the South of France

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I am writing you from a very sad state-of-mind. Why? You might ask. Well, because I just got back from the greatest trip I have ever taken, and I am back in the office in Athens, Georgia, probably one of my last choices of places to be on the planet.

I guess it takes a trip like this to realize how monotonous your life has gotten. I never really wanted to be in Athens at all, but my job “is a great learning experience.” Don’t get me wrong, some days I love my job. I am pretty lucky to have all the responsibility and freedom that I have, but at the end of the day, it is still a desk job, something I have never wanted. So, here I am, in this state of travel depression (that feels quite like I just experienced a bad breakup–that kind of void), and I am trying to figure out what job would allow me to be able to combine the things that I love. So, here are the things that I love. It would be great if anyone has any advice or ideas or a fresh perspective on this…

Traveling, food, cooking, different cultures, getting to know people, ponies, a strong drink, wine, science (of all kinds really), herbal medicine, and nutrition.

Okay, now how can I combine all of these?!

I honestly have no idea what I want to do right now, but I am determined to figure it out. I don’t think starting a travel blog will work. It has been done a million times in a million ways. There has to be another way.

Okay, moving on from the sadness. I am going to give you some pictures from my trip, and then start writing about it. I hope you enjoy everything that I am about to write. I’ll share some recipes and some re-creations of the food I had along the way too. I am desperately trying to find my way back, and if food is the closest I can get for now, so be it.

The Duomo de Firenze

The Duomo de Firenze

Troy in Burano, Italy

Troy in Burano, Italy

Ghent, Belgium at Night

Ghent, Belgium at Night

Our Street in Nice, France

Our Street in Nice, France

Me at the Duomo de Milano

Me at the Duomo de Milano

Joy the Baker’s Strawberry Cream Scones (GF & V)

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Joy the Baker is one of my favorite bakers in the world. You can trust that all of her recipes are going to be completely delicious. Unfortunately, she is not gluten-free or vegan, so sometimes I have to make adjustments. (I am not technically vegan, but I am allergic to eggs and partially to dairy, so some of my recipes are.)

I have already made these scones twice, and everyone I have shared them with has loved them. Even my skeptical gluten-free eaters loved these scones. They are sweet, but not too sweet, fluffy, soft, and nutty in flavor.

Another thing I love about these scones is that they are incredibly simple to make. If you are debating between these and pancakes this weekend, go with these. They are just as simple and are a good change from pancakes or muffins. They are also quite healthy, with only 1/3 cup of sugar for the entire recipe. I also used coconut cream instead of buttermilk, so you get healthy fats in there too.

Go ahead and make these already!

Strawberry Cream Scones

Adapted from: Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Jules)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (or granulated)
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup of coconut cream** plus more for brushing the top or for whipped cream
  • 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped strawberries
  • Turbinado, granulated, or brown sugar for topping

Directions:

  1. Place baking rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In liquid measuring cup, mix vanilla extract and coconut cream.
  4. Drizzle cream into flour mixture and slowly toss ingredients together until incorporated but still slightly dry.
  5. Add strawberries and continue gently tossing until cohesive, but not overly sticky. 
  6. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough to 3/4 inch thick.
  7. Use a small biscuit cutter or small glass lightly floured to cut 1 1/4 inch circles from the dough.
  8. Brush each circle with coconut cream and sprinkle a generous amount of turbinado sugar on top.
  9. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and serve warm with chilled coconut cream on top.
**Trader Joe’s makes this excellent Extra Thick & Rich Coconut Cream that comes out of the can exactly like whipped cream if you do not shake it. I used this in my recipe mixed with a little almond milk to make it like buttermilk consistency and used the rest on top of each scone. Preserves go really well with these too.

Enjoy!!

Spiced Chicken with Wild Rice & Veggies Bowl (GF)

One of my best pieces of advice for those who are busy but want to eat healthy or for people who want to lose weight, is to prepare your meals ahead of time. I make my meals for the week on Monday nights.

This is what I came up with for this week. This spicedsweet, and crunchy little bowl contains turmeric and cumin spiced chicken, wild rice, broccolini, sweet potatoes, carrots, pea shoots, and pomegranate seeds. It is quite a great combination of foods. You can also make it vegan or vegetarian by substituting tofu or chickpeas for the chicken.

Spiced Chicken with Wild Rice & Veggies Bowl

Adapted from: Love and Lemons

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of chicken breast or tenders, cubed (preferably free-range; omit if vegan/vegetarian & use chickpeas)
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups broccolini, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp of gomacio or sesame seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • pea shoots

Instructions:

  1. Cook wild rice as instructed on the package.
  2. While rice is cooking, dice chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook in large skillet over medium-high heat in 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  3. After about 5 minutes, add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Cook chicken all the way through and remove from skillet with slotted spoon. Add cubed sweet potatoes and cook until tender. (You may have to add 1 more tbsp of olive oil.)
  5. Add broccolini and carrots to skillet, season with salt, pepper, & sesame seeds and cook until tender.
  6. When all ingredients are cooked, add all cooked ingredients to a large bowl with a handful pomegranate and pea shoots. You might want to add soy sauce or coconut aminos to your rice.
  7. Enjoy!!

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (GF & V)

Oh the joys of being able to have macaroni and cheese again. I cannot explain to you how much this recipe saved my life. Whoever discovered that cashews, eggplant, cauliflower, and nutritional yeast tastes like cheese is my hero.

If you are wondering whether “normal” people like this: Yes, my boyfriend liked this recipe and he has no known allergies.

Its funny how people forget that people with food allergies have normal taste buds just like everyone else. It’s actually not funny at all. It gets really old. I’ve only had allergies for 3 years, so I tasted “normal” things for the first 22 years of my life.

Let’s step away from this little rant before I write 5 paragraphs on it…. This macaroni and cheese actually has vegetables in it, meaning you can eat more of it! Its very thick and creamy. Everything you would want in a mac & cheese. You might want to add more liquid to make the cheese a bit more runny. It might seem like a lot of steps, but its actually quicker than you think.


Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (GF & V)

Adapted from: Love and Lemons

Ingredients:

  • 1 big head of cauliflower (4 loose cups, chopped, plus extra small florets to leave whole)
  • 12 oz gluten free elbow pasta (I used quinoa and corn blend)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 – 1 cup cashew cream (see recipe below) or sharp cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • pasta water, as needed to thin

Topping Options:

  • 1/4 cup gluten free panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • a few pinches of red pepper flakes
  • Sprinkle of paprika

Cashew Cream: (this makes extra & can be made ahead)

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for 30 minutes to a few hours (strain soaking water before using)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. If you’re making the vegan option, start by making your cashew cream. (Strain the soaking water from the cashews). Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Scoop the cream out of the blender and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until tender but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain and scoop the cauliflower into a blender. When the cauliflower is out, bring your water back up to a boil and add the pasta.
  4. Back to your blender – add the dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, to the cauliflower, and puree well. Add about 3/4 cups of cashew cream (or cheddar cheese), sherry vinegar, and blend again. Add starchy pasta water, as needed, to thin the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. (Add more cashew cream if you want).
  5. When your pasta is al dente, set aside a cup or so of pasta water, then fully drain your pasta and the water out of the large pot. Return the cooked pasta to the pot and stir in the sauce. Add more reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy sauce. Stir in the remainder of the cauliflower florets.
  6. Pour your pasta into a large baking dish (or a few individual sized dishes). Top with a sprinkling of panko, parmesan cheese (if using) and a drizzle of olive oil. (optional: make it extra cheesy by adding a layer of sharp cheddar underneath the panko and parmesan)
  7. Bake until the top is golden and crispy – about 12-20 minutes depending on the size of your dish.
  8. Remove from oven and top with chives, red pepper flakes, and paprika.

Vegan Broccoli & Kale “Cheese” Soup

This soup may not sound delicious, but it is. I’ve already made it twice this year. I think this might be the only dish that I’ve made twice too, so it’s a big deal.

Forget detox diets, this soup is a detox. You get an incredible amount of vegetables in a tiny little bowl. You aren’t eating real cheese, so you have nothing to “feel bad” about. My boyfriend made some Broccoli Beer Cheese soup for us the week before, and this actually tasted just like it. I added a bit of gluten free beer to one of my batches because I had it at the house. So feel free to add that as well.

Vegan Broccoli & Kale “Cheese” Soup

Adapted from: Blissful Basil

Ingredients:

  • 4 small heads broccoli, de-stemmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces (you should have approximately 8 cups of florets)
  • 1 large leek, thoroughly cleaned, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 head of lacinato kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups plain, unsweetened almond milk, divided
  • ¾ cup hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons large grain sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Optional: dash of cayenne pepper & paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spread the broccoli florets and leeks over the large baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  4. Roast the broccoli and leeks in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just starting to turn golden and brown.
  5. While the broccoli starts to roast, spread the lacinato kale over small baking sheet. Drizzle with ½ tablespoon olive oil and massage oil into kale.
  6. Roast the kale in the oven along with the broccoli for 5-7 minutes or until just barely turning golden.
  7. While the veggies are roasting, add 3 cups almond milk, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, garlic, paprika, turmeric, salt, and black pepper to a high-powered blender (I used an immersion blender). Blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  8. Heat a dutch oven or large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add the almond milk soup base to the pot.
  9. While the soup base starts to cook, add the broccoli, leeks, kale, and 1 cup almond milk to a very high-powered blender or food processor (again, I used an immersion blender) and process until as smooth as possible. This will take 10 minutes or so — patience is a soup-making virtue!
  10. Pour the blended broccoli mixture into the pot and whisk into the almond milk mixture.
  11. Add in a pinch of cayenne if desired, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  12. You may need to use an immersion blender to get the soup as smooth as desired.
  13. Serve and enjoy. (It’s great with corn bread!)

Simon Madjumdar’s Life Saving Dahl

It is very easy to say that this is my favorite soup I’ve ever made when I am sick.

Eating this soup when you are sick, makes you forget the sickness instantly. All of a sudden, you can move your once achy muscles again, you can breathe through your nose, you can smell, you can taste, your sore throat disappeared. It really is incredible.

Unfortunately, they come back about an hour after you are finished, but some relief is better than none.

I found out about this soup and Simon Majumdar after listening to The Alton Browncast, AKA my new current listening obsession. Simon sounds lovely. I also ordered his book “Eat My Globe.” It’s a lovely read so far. I want to propose that he and I write “Eat My Gluten Free Globe” next. No one take my idea, or I will send you to court. This is in writing.😛

Anywho… on to this Life-Saving Soup….

Life Saving Dahl

Adapted from: Simon Madjumdar

Ingredients:

1 cup of red lentils (Toasted first in a dry pan. I use my fingers to stir and when it is too hot to touch, it is done)

1 unwaxed lemon chopped in quarters
1 onion sliced

1 cup frozen peas
2 cardamom pods (I used ground cardamom, around 1 tbsp)
2 cloves (I used ground cloves, around 1 tsp)
1 cinnamon stick (I used ground cinnamon, around 1 tbsp)
3 cloves garlic3 fresh green chillies
2 inches of fresh ginger
1 tsp each of ground turmeric/ginger/cumin/coriander seed/hot chilli powde
r½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1½ Pints of water or stock (I used chicken stock)
1 Bag of spinach (washed)

1 lb chicken breast (Free Range), cut into 1/2 inch cubesInstructions:

  1. Saute chicken cubes in olive oil until cooked all the way through. Put on plate and set aside.
  2. Make a paste by blending the ginger/garlic/fresh chilli with a little salt and water.
  3. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a hot pan and when it comes to heat, add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick. Cook for 1 minute on a low heat until they release their flavor.
  4. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften and turn golden.
  5. Add the ginger/chilli/garlic paste and cook for two to four minutes until it loses its rawness.Add the ground spices, sugar and salt and mix well with the onions and cook out for 4 mins until the spices lose their rawness. If the mixture begins to stick add a little water.
  6. Add the lentils and mix well so all the pulses are covered with the mixture.
  7. Add 1½ pints of water/stock and the quartered lemons and simmer for 30 mins until the lentils have broken down. Add more water if it sticks. Some lentils may take a little longer.
  8. 15 minutes after adding the stock or water, add the frozen peas and chicken. Cook for at least 15 more minutes.
  9. Add the spinach, cover and allow to wilt.

Enjoy and feel better!!

Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup

This soup is incredible! It’s pretty easy too. I got an Immersion Blender for Christmas, and have been blending up a storm. That thing is incredible. I prefer this to a blender any day, even for smoothies. It’s nice when you are … Continue reading

Maple Roasted Winter Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a brilliant thing. Roasting brings out complex flavors that are not found in other cooking methods. The best example is probably roasted cauliflower. That usually bland vegetable is transformed into a savory treat by just using the oven.

In this recipe, I’ve used a few fall favorites– Sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and cranberries. You can really add whatever you would like, but I highly recommend the sweet potato/cranberry combination. They are the perfect compliment of sour and sweet. Cauliflower would be excellent with this.

Maple Roasted Winter Vegetables
Adapted from: Plainville Farms

1 lb sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cups brussel sprouts
3/4 cup whole cranberries
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Salt & pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Combine olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Toss sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and cranberries in mixture.
4. Scatter onto sheet pan and bake for 35-40 minutes stirring half-way through.

Quick, easy, healthy, and delicious!

Enjoy!