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Tips for Snacking: Beyond Allergies and Diet Restrictions

Snacking, baking, and cooking can be tricky when allergies and dietary restrictions are involved. But there’s a community of individuals in the same situation with tips, tricks, and recipes to keep things tasting good and healthy.

My gluten-free and vegan recipes arise from a hodgepodge of experimentation and inspiration.

Here are some tips for making food when you have allergies or diets to adhere to:

 1. Buy in bulk

Packaged and processed foods get costly when you have to buy something with a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, all-natural or organic label. Though most of my food is fresh, I do rely on some shelf products for easier cooking.

My mornings used to start with cereal before I had to start reading labels. Now, I eat oatmeal with fruit every morning. I buy oatmeal and frozen blueberries in bulk from Amazon or Costco. In the long run, it saves me money and a lot of trips to the store.

 2. Cook in bulk

In addition to buying in bulk, cooking in bulk helps me eat healthy. Because I rely on home-cooked meals instead of packaged or restaurant dinners and lunches, I would spend a lot of time in the kitchen without preparing in bulk. Pulling 60-hour work weeks makes me not want to cook every night, so I dedicate one night to preparing lunch and dinner for most of the week.

Most of my leftovers are good for a week in the fridge and can be eaten cold and on-the-go if necessary. Quinoa medleys and squash are a favorite of mine because they’re jam-packed with nutrition while being extremely filling. And, I don’t have to stand over the stove top constantly stirring. The hands-on prep time is minimal.

 3. Make extra to share

When you have dietary restrictions, it’s often difficult for people to conceive what you put into your mouth on a daily basis. You’re probably tired of hearing people say, “What do you eat?”

If you’re packing some delicious allergy-free cookies to snack on at work, chances are, your co-workers will want some. But they have preconceived notions that the cookies can’t taste good without butter, eggs, wheat flour or sugar. Prove them wrong! Bring along a few extra goodies to share. It helps educate and open their minds. And who knows? They just might whip up an allergy-free recipe to share with you down the road!

 4. Experiment in the kitchen

If you stick to following recipes on the Internet, you will be running to the store a lot to pick up items you only use once. If a recipe calls for flax seed but you’ve got applesauce on-hand, try using that as an egg replacer. If it calls for almond flour but you’ve got rice flour, try that.

Better yet, open the cupboards and fridge, see what you’ve got, and toss some things in a pan. Most of my favorite recipes resulted from experimentation.

**This post was inspired by SkinnyPop, a healthy, gluten-free option for popcorn snacking.

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Mustard Lemon Vegan Mashed Potatoes Recipe

This lemon mustard mashed potato recipe is a new favorite in the household.  I have no doubt it'll be a favorite of yours, too!
This lemon mustard mashed potato recipe is a new favorite in the household. I have no doubt it’ll be a favorite of yours, too!

If you haven’t noticed yet, potatoes are my best friend. We get along like Bert and Ernie, Rachel and Monica, Sonny and Cher (pre-1975 shenanigans). Experimenting with potato recipes has quickly become a favorite pastime of mine. I am proud to present to you this scrum-diddly-doo vegan mashed potato recipe. Quite different from my signature Rosemary & Garlic vegan mashed potatoes. It’s the mustard in this one that makes your taste buds break out in song.

Bring this to the next potluck or Thanksgiving dinner. Wait to tell your friends until afterward that it’s vegan. They won’t believe you! To all you non-believers, this is proof that vegan is delicious!

Ingredients:

Red potatoes (5-8 depending on size), 1 lemon, olive oil, sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic (lots!! 4 cloves minimum), brown mustard*, fresh chives

*I recommend Eden’s organic stone ground brown mustard made with apple cider vinegar. But whatever, to each her own.

Serves: 3ish people

Directions:

  • Boil the potatoes. (For the love of Pete, please rinse them first.) Now drain them once soft.
  • Mince the garlic and toss into the potato pot with sufficient olive oil (for creaminess), salt and pepper, and some hearty dollops of brown mustard.
  • Squeeze the lemon into the concoction.
  • Use a beater to mash the potatoes and seasonings together.
  • Top with fresh chopped chives.
  • Serve, eat, enjoy!

Lentils and Herbs Recipe

Enjoy a fresh herb medley to infuse a basic lentil dish with garden flavor.
Enjoy a fresh herb medley to infuse a basic lentil dish with garden flavor.

I love lentils in every way shape and form. Lentils are an easy main dish or side dish that can be made appropriate to the evening’s cuisine based on the spices added. Here’s a lentil dish that employs the triumvirate “beef medley” herbs to give your vegan protein source a fresh taste. Add more water to make it a lentil soup.

Ingredients:

2 ½ c uncooked lentils, 2 stalks green onion, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 sprig fresh oregano, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 tsp salt & pepper, 2 garlic cloves

Serves: 4 people

Directions:

  • Bring lentils to a boil and simmer.
  • Just before lentils are finished, add the herbs and spices with the chopped garlic and green onions.
  • Mix well.
  • Serve, eat, enjoy!

Vegan Chipotle Potatoes Recipe

Add more hot sauce or chili powder to make this dish up to your preferred level of spicy. The green onions and cilantro add a freshness to the spicy taste.
Add more hot sauce or chili powder to make this dish up to your preferred level of spicy. The green onions and cilantro add a freshness to the spicy taste.

Try this twist on classic seasoned potatoes. Cut your potatoes as you like—get creative with cubes or circle slices. You can adjust the spiciness by simply increasing the amount of hot sauce or chili powder you put in the mix. And you can bake the potatoes to be soft or crunchy. Play around with this recipe—have fun and enjoy!

Ingredients:

Vegetables: 6 medium red potatoes, ½ yellow onion

Sauce: ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp salt & pepper, 1 tsp paprika, ¼ tsp cumin, 2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid amino acid (or soy sauce), 2 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 ½ Tbsp Chipotle hot sauce, ¾ tsp chili powder, ¾ c water, 1/4 c vegetable broth (or 1 tsp vegetable bouillon)

Topping: 1 stalk green onion, ½ cup fresh cilantro

Serves: 4 people

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Slice the potatoes into French fry-sized pieces.
  • Chop the yellow onion.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Stir the potatoes, onion and sauce together in a large serving bowl. Leave set to marinate for at least 5 minutes.
  • While the potato mix is marinating, chop the green onions and cilantro.
  • Place the potato mix on a baking sheet in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. If you want your potatoes soft, pour the remaining sauce onto the baking pan, too. If you want them crispy, pour off the sauce before transferring the potatoes.
  • When the potatoes are done, pour them back into the large serving bowl and top with the chopped green onion and cilantro.
  • Serve, eat, enjoy!

Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Scrumptious veggie lasagna with unique ingredients to make your taste buds sing and leave your stomach wanting more!
Scrumptious veggie lasagna with unique ingredients to make your taste buds sing and leave your stomach wanting more!

Looking to make that classic Italian dish with a savory twist? Try the following recipe, all made from scratch except for the noodles! It’s relatively easy to prepare and sure to leave your kitchen smelling like a garden. I can’t take all the credit for this one, though. My sister and I tag-teamed. The cauliflower, pumpkin and Dijon mustard are perhaps most unique to this veggie-based lasagna. The cauliflower adds texture while the pumpkin and mustard give a zing that will leave your taste buds searching for the sources of that flavor. If you can’t find pumpkin in season, replace with a butternut or spaghetti squash.

Ingredients:

Veggies—cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, pumpkin (boiled), tomatoes, onion, carrots

Seasonings/spices—garlic, basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper

And don’t forget the lasagna noodles!

Directions:

  • Finely chop the onions and sauté at the bottom of a pot with chopped garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Boil the pumpkin. (If you can’t find pumpkin in season, try a butternut or spaghetti squash.)
  • Purée the tomatoes in a blender.
  • Chop the cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini and cook over medium heat in the pot with the onions and seasonings.
  • Shred the carrots and add them to the vegetable mixture along with the boiled pumpkin and tomato purée.
  • Add the rosemary, chopped parsley and Dijon mustard into the vegetable sauce. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover the bottom of the lasagna pan with a thin layer of the juice from the sauce. Place one layer of noodles on top and cover with a layer of sauce. Place another layer of noodles in the opposite direction of the layer underneath, then cover with sauce. Repeat as necessary until you reach the top of the pan (usually 3-4 noodle layers).
  • Cover the top noodle layer with a thin smear of juice from the sauce as you did in the bottom of the pan. This keeps the noodles from burning, sticking or drying out.
  • Cook in the oven with foil over top at 390ºF for 20 min or until noodles have cooked thoroughly. Five minutes before the lasagna is ready, sprinkle chopped basil. (If you put the basil on too early, it gets too crispy and loses its taste.)
  • Serve, eat and enjoy!

Note that the sauce makes a great soup, too! Just follow the same steps through #6!

Steps 1-3. Saute seasonings with onion, boil pumpkin and blend tomatoes.
Steps 1-3. Saute seasonings with onion, boil pumpkin and blend tomatoes.
Steps 4-5. Chop the vegetables and shred the carrots, then mix into the pan.
Steps 4-5. Chop the vegetables and shred the carrots, then mix into the pan.
Step 6. Add the last of the seasonings and bring to a boil.
Step 6. Add the last of the seasonings and bring to a boil.
Steps 7-9.  Layer the pan with juice from the sauce, noodles and the vegetable medley.  Bake with foil at 350 F, adding basil just before finished.
Steps 7-9. Layer the pan with juice from the sauce, noodles and the vegetable medley. Bake with foil at 350 F, adding basil just before finished.
Scrumptious veggie lasagna with unique ingredients to make your taste buds sing and leave your stomach wanting more!
Step 10. Serve, eat, enjoy!