Category Archives: Wheat-Free Corn-Free Dairy-Free Small Plates

Lavash Pizza Over a Fire

One thing I love to do is camp, but that doesn’t mean I have to roast processed hot dogs on a stick over the open fire. Having a one-burner camp stove is handy for rainy days when it’s difficult to start a fire, but when the weather cooperates, why not make pizza over the open fire?

The “pizza” I’ve been make is Bill-friendly, meaning it’s wheat-free, corn-free, and pasteurized-cow-dairy-free. Using Sami’s Bakery Millet & Flax Lavash (flatbread) as a base, all I do is brown the bottom on a griddle or in a skillet. You could do this right on a fire grate, camp stove, or grill.

Then, add toppings. For ingredient inspiration, check out my other lavash pizza recipes. The two I made on a recent camping trip with my friend Sandy are Caprese and Manchego with Parsley.

I brought along some Stinging Nettles Pesto that I made and stashed in the freezer. This became the base for both pizzas, which were placed on a piece of foil to easily move them onto the fire grate.

On one, I added sliced tomatoes from the Holland Farmers Market and dollops of Dancing Goat Creamery goat cheese.

On the other, Sandy added small chunks of Manchego sheep’s cheese and chopped parsley from Sandy’s herb garden. (Grating the cheese would have been nice but who has a cheese grater in their camping supplies?)

I drizzled olive oil over both and sprinkled each pizza with salt and pepper. Then I put them on the fire grate, which had hot coals underneath. The key is to create an oven-like effect by tenting with another piece of foil.

Tented foil over lavash pizza

After a few minutes, the pizzas were warm and crispy, and the cheese was melted.

Easy and delicious, but perhaps not the best choice if you’re cooking outside on a windy day!

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I am fascinated by the variety of Thanksgiving traditions people bring to their table. I love how we are influenced by our families, our heritage, and our experiences. But I have to say I can’t think of a single thing that I must have for Thanksgiving every year. As long as I get to cook—using local, organic, and seasonal ingredients as much as possible—I’m happy.

Most of the fun is the creative process in cooking but it’s also about trying new things. So when Bill and I had guests with vegetarian preferences this year, I was excited to look for recipes. I was also challenged to find ones that would accommodate both a vegetarian diet and Bill’s allergy restrictions: wheat, corn, and pasteurized cow dairy. Thankfully, the world is at my fingertips through the internet!

After a light appetizer–and a favorite at our house–of Warm Goat Cheese Toasts with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Honey (substituting Manchego cheese for goat cheese), we started with a bowl of Winter Squash Soup.

The rest of the meal was a selection of sides and two vegetarian main dishes: Veggie Balls and Potato Leek Quiche, but this time with a Greek twist on the quiche since I used sheep’s feta cheese and added spinach.

For sides, we had one of my favorites from Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Corn (sans corn). Also, instead of just wild rice, this time I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend.

We also had Mark Bittman’s Mashed Cauliflower from his book How to Cook Everything. It’s a great substitute for mashed potatoes if you want to take advantage of a seasonal vegetable that’s difficult to store, or if you’re looking to lower carbs!

Finally, for a little greenery, I made a simple Raw Tuscan Kale Salad recipe from one of my fellow foodies over at 101Cookbooks.

And for dessert? Two choices: my first ever Pumpkin Pie, plus Gourmet magazine’s Flourless Chocolate Cake (made with raw milk butter!).

Wheat-Free, Cow-Dairy-Free Veggie Balls

In my hunt for recipes for a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner this year, I came across one for Veggie Balls. The concept is similar to meatballs only you use lentils and vegetables in lieu of meat. They’re filling, healthy, and fun to make!

I had to improvise this recipe from The New York Times‘ Well blog 2011 collection of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes because it had mushrooms (ick!), bread crumbs (not good for Bill’s wheat allergy), and Parmesan cheese (bad for his pasteurized cow dairy allergy).

The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked up the lentils and stored them in the fridge.

The next day I chopped and sautéed all the vegetables—onion, carrots, celery, parsnips, and garlic—in olive oil with thyme and salt. Parsnips were my substitute for the much-detested mushrooms, which would have been added later in the recipe.

Then I added the tomato paste and mixed it with the vegetables.

I combined the vegetables with the lentils and let the mixture cool.

Then I added the rest of the ingredients—eggs, parsley, and walnuts—substituting quick rolled oats for bread crumbs and Pecorino sheep’s cheese for Parmesan.

I even had fresh parsley still growing in my garden!

Bill helped mix it all together by hand and, after refrigerating the mixture for half an hour to set, we formed it into 24 balls.

I roasted them for 30 minutes in a very hot oven (400 degrees F) and they were ready to eat. These make a very good small plate dinner option or appetizer. They’d also be great with a marinara sauce piled on a hoagie roll like a meatball sandwich. I’m thinking the leftovers would be delicious on a pita with some Mid-Eastern condiments!

Bill-Friendly Fried Green Tomatoes

I don’t know about you but I hate to waste food. So when there are green tomatoes on the vine at the end of summer it’s a great opportunity to make fried green tomatoes. But what do you do when most of the recipes include bread crumbs and/or cornmeal—and you’re allergic to wheat and corn like Bill is?

When I tried making them, I improvised the best I could! Here’s how:

Set-up is key, just like when you make stir-fry. You need to have everything prepared ahead of time because the process of dredging, dipping, and frying goes quickly.

First, slice the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick.

Then put some buttermilk in a bowl. I used leftover buttermilk from my raw milk butter process because Bill can consume raw cow dairy products (as opposed to pasteurized). If you have a dairy allergy you could try rice milk instead.

Mix together oat flour with some paprika, salt, and pepper and put it on a plate for dredging the tomatoes. (In retrospect, I would probably use brown rice flour since it retains less moisture.)

Beat an egg in a bowl.

For the bread crumbs, use old bread, or create old bread by leaving a few slices out the night before. We use Sami’s Millet & Flax Bread because it doesn’t have wheat or corn in it. (If you don’t have a wheat allergy you could use any kind of plain bread crumbs.) Simply smash the dried bread with your hands or a rolling pin to crumble the bread into small pieces.

Once everything is ready, heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet. I used safflower oil and was very liberal with it so the tomatoes wouldn’t stick.

Then it’s just dip, dredge, dip, dredge—from buttermilk to flour to egg to bread crumbs. And into the pan they go.

Fry on each side for about two minutes or until brown and crispy. If you need to fry in batches, keep the cooked ones warm on a plate in a low oven.

We enjoyed ours with a variation on Bill-Friendly Mac & Cheese on a cool autumn night!

Bratwurst, Onions and Red Peppers–on Pizza

Bill and I stay creative by thinking up new combinations of ingredients to put on top of lavash, the flatbread we use to make lavash pizzas. Red bell peppers are in season now, and we always have plenty of onions on hand. Instead of a hoagie, or grinder, or hero, or sub, or whatever you call it, why not apply this yummy combo of bratwurst and sautéed onions and peppers to pizza?

It’s easy to make, and very filling. This recipe is for two pizzas.

Braise two brats about ten minutes and remove from the pan.

Dump out any excess water and add some olive oil. Then place a medium yellow onion, sliced, and a small red bell pepper, sliced, in the pan, cooking until tender.

Meanwhile, push the veggies aside and put the brats back in the pan to brown.

Cut brats into 1/4-inch slices and brown in pan.

Heat the bottom of a lavash on a griddle until toasted. Then place on cookie sheet and top with veggies, sliced brats, and some cheese. (We use raw milk cheddar to accommodate Bill’s cow-dairy allergy.)

Broil on low for about 2 1/2 minutes, turning once, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Bon appetit!

Moujadarah Lettuce Wraps

When Bill and I were invited to a plant-based dinner hosted by my friend Sue over at, I definitely felt challenged to find a recipe that qualified as vegan but was also something Bill could eat. Because, when you’re allergic to wheat, corn, and cow dairy like he is, meat is an ingredient that helps you get through the day.

For some reason I had it in my head to make lettuce wraps–probably because I had never made them before and wanted to try them. There are a lot of great Asian lettuce wrap recipes out there but many of them have meat in them. I also found some with rice and beans, but finally I settled on Lebanese Mjadra – Lentil & Rice Lettuce Cups. When I read through the recipe I realized it was basically the same as Moujadarah with Curry, one of our favorite legume recipes. The one on simply uses lettuce as a vessel for serving it.

So I followed the recipe on my blog instead, which also includes a garnish of tomatoes, green onions, and parsley.

The legume mixture can easily be made a day ahead. I mixed the caramelized onions right in with the rice and lentils for this appetizer so it’s easier to eat.

Then I stuck it in the fridge overnight.

After heading to the Holland Farmers Market (on opening day!), I found Bibb lettuce from Visser Farms, which I washed and laid out stacked between paper towels in the fridge until I was ready to assemble the wraps.

I took everything out of the fridge a couple hours prior to assembly.

Then I made the tomato garnish and sliced up some lemons to serve with the wraps.

I had to warm the moujadarah slightly in the microwave so it would be soft enough to spoon into the lettuce. Then I packed them closely into a serving dish for the trip to Grand Rapids, where the dinner was held.

They survived the trip and I think they were the right temperature–room temperature, but slightly on the cold side to keep the lettuce crisp.

Bill and I enjoyed the variety of creative plant-based dishes that the guests–about 30 people–brought to the event. We made some new friends and spent a lovely evening at a beautiful location in Grand Rapids!

How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day: Day 5

Well, we made it to Friday. Were we hungrier than usual during this experiment? Yes. However, I didn’t think about snacking in between meals….it’s just that I was famished when it came time to make each one.

I’ll admit, this was a brain drain. I enjoy planning menus and recipes but weighing quantities and doing the math, that’s what hurt my head so much! Still, Bill and I made it through our challenge of trying to spend only $5.00 per person, per day, except where we went over budget. After all, as I disclaimed in my introductory post, this was an experiment.

While we may not have eaten as much in quantity that we usually do, and we certainly missed enjoying wine with dinner, I think we ate pretty well overall. For a recap of each day, check out the results from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4.

Here’s what we ate on Day 5:

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Split Pea Soup in a Crock-Pot

It doesn’t take much to make Split Pea Soup, especially if you have a slow-cooker, such as a Crock-Pot. If you work full-time, you can throw all the ingredients into the pot in the morning and have dinner on the table when you get home.

Seriously, it doesn’t take long to chop up a few veggies, but if you really don’t have much time in the morning, you could chop them the night before and then combine everything in the morning.

I found my trusty Crockery Cookery book to be very helpful with recipes that I can make in the pot, which I’ve had for more than 30 years.

For split pea soup, all you need is an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery. Chop each one and add it, along with the dried split peas and 8 cups of water to the pot. Turn it on  low for 8-10 hours. (You may need to change the temp. to high at the end if the peas aren’t falling apart.)

This soup makes a good one-dish meal and it’s a great choice for vegetarians.

How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day: Day 4

Day 4 of “How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day” was somewhat labor intensive and I don’t recommend this combination of meals in a single day. I prefer to make soups, stews, and roasts on weekends—sometimes multiple dishes at the same time—and then use portions of them throughout the week. Each of today’s meals included more cooking than I would usually do and it’s only because I work at home that I could get away with it.

Here’s what we ate today:

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How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day: Day 3

I love eggs. They’re versatile, portable, and they keep hunger at bay. If you boil up a batch ahead of time, you’ve got quick snacks on hand, or a protein source to add to salads, lentil dishes or rice. Sometimes Bill and I simply have a frittata for lunch or dinner, featuring seasonal vegetables or garnished with nitrite-free bacon. But one of my favorite standbys is the ol’ fried egg sandwich. It’s filling and warm, offering protein to get your day started. That’s what I had for breakfast today.

Check out the rest of the menu for Day 3 of “How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day,” the experiment Bill and I are conducting for five days this week.

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