Friday, July 24, 2015

Cooking for People with Allergies - Part 2

So, you're curious on how I cook yummy Italian gluten-free foods? 

Read on, and get ready to make a meal... because this is going to make you hungry. 

      When I was eating gluten-free I had one main obstacle... I missed Italian food. If you are like me, you like good pasta, cheese and marinara sauce. When you start a gluten-free diet it can be very confining, but instead of letting that box me in, I let it expand my "food vocabulary." 
     Okay, so I promised to talk all about what Italian dishes I came up with that are gluten-free, grain-free and super yummy. Did I mention that my entire family likes them? 

Missed part 1? 

See my 3 tips on substitute cooking here

Here are some of the classics to try with a new twist. 


     For gluten-free AND grain-free lasagna ...try this out: Take a large zucchini and run it through a mandolin slicer. Horizontally, you can make long slices of zucchini (or any other squash) and use that in place of noodles. You know what the good thing is? You don't have to pre-cook the "noodles." Just layer the long zucchini slices in place of the pasta and you have a great dinner coming up!

     For another variation of gluten free lasagna, you can make a "tex-mex" version. Yes, Mexican lasagna. Start with corn tortillas. This time, the tortillas will be your "noodles." Layer enchilada sauce, taco meat, cheddar cheese and tortillas till your pan is full. Top with sauce and cheese and bake until cheese is melted and the lasagna is hot all the way through. 


     Rice pasta is a great way to feed a family or a crowd. It tastes pretty much like the real thing if you cook it correctly. Whenever you cook pasta, make sure to put salt in the water as it boils. 

     A book that I highly recommend is "Pizza on the grill" by Karmel & Blumer. They show you how to make your own GF pizza crust that can go on the grill! Now there's no excuse to switch to GF now is there? 

     Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine that cooks and bakes gluten-free for her large family. I asked her what she would recommend to those just starting out with gluten-free living. She said...      "The best thing you can do when starting out cooking gluten-free is to not OVERCOMPLICATE things. Don't make a fuss trying to make GF bread, just substitute another serving of veggies instead!" 

Just because something can be hard should not 

keep you from trying and doing it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cooking for People with Allergies - Part 1

Yes, YOU can cook for them!

These days, people are more selective in what they can and cannot eat. Many people I come across cannot have gluten, sugar, nuts or other have other common food allergies.

Substitute cooking always throws recipes off a bit, but if you take a little time to find some good substitutes, your friends will be very thankful! 

Before preparing food for people with allergies, 
ask what they cannot have and stay away from those things. 

Make sure when you are cooking food that they will be eating, that you do not cross contaminate dishes with food that they are allergic to. If you dip a wheat cracker in hummus the dip is now contaminated with traces of gluten. This can cause a reaction, so always beware!

Three tips for cooking with substitutes

1. Don't make it complicated

Do you have to make a baked good? Go with dishes and desserts that naturally don't have gluten in them. Like ice cream, greek yogurt parfaits with berries for the sugar free.

2. Use substitute ingredients similar to the original ingredient called for

If you are using a traditional recipe, your cookies might call for granulated sugar. This is not only important for the sweetener for the cookie, but also for the creaming process with the butter that will give the cookie the air it needs to rise. Do not use a liquid sweetener in place of a granulated. Use a granulated ingredient in place so that you will still have that basic process still in place. Make sense? In place of sugar, I use xylitol. It is a natural sweetener that is zero on the glycemic index. You can use the same amount in place of sugar, or a little less since it is quite sweet.

3. Plan Meals around low gluten foods

Corn chips, guacamole, meat tacos (with corn tortillas) and a small taco salad and you are set! No gluten in that meal at all! How easy is that? Pick a protein, vegetable and a dessert that has no gluten and you will have one outstanding healthy meal that everyone can enjoy.

     When I was eating gluten-free I had one problem... I missed Italian food.
If you are like me, you like good pasta, cheese and marinara sauce. What about pizza? You can hardly live without good pizza. When you start a gluten-free diet it can be very confining, but instead of letting that box me in, I let it expand my "food vocabulary."
My next blog post will talk all about what Italian dishes I came up with that are gluten-free, grain-free and super yummy. My whole family likes them. 

People with food sensitivities are willing to try a lot. They are brave. 

We should all be willing to at least try something new once. 

Here is a handy list of gluten-free flours I use:

Rice (great for thickening sauces)
Oat (great for muffins)
Tapioca (used with other flours to lighten some heavy baked goods)
*Garbanzo bean (great for pizza dough)
*Almond (great for scones and crusts)
*Black Beans (cooked, they can put a lot of substance in a dish)
There are many more...  

---> visit your local health foods store for a large selection of gluten-free flours

* =  flours that are also grain-free which some people prefer.
Note: Many of the flours you can make your own by blending whole dry products in your blender (like a vita-mix) and then sifting it through a fine colander.

Yep, I make a sugar free, grain free, gluten free brownie. 

      Wait a minute!! How can you make something with that much stuff NOT in it??!! Well, you would never know. 

I served these brownies at an event once and the 75 people that ate them, never would have know that they are gluten free, grain free and sugar free. They just knew they were really good brownies! Check out the Cook Your Way to Health book here for my recipe. 

Read part 2 of Gluten-free cooking here... 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bold Barbacoa Tacos

First things first...

Growing up on a farm has its pros and cons. One thing I always get stuck on is the though shoulder meat of the cows we process. It is always more tough if the cow is older... not fun to cook or eat! Well, after taking a sous-vide course, I had the knowledge to transform this tough cut.

Here is what I did to take tough shoulder
 stew meat and make it into my favorite way to eat tacos.


1 lb. Shoulder Meat, trimmed
1/2 oz. Ancho Chile Powder
1.5 oz. Ancho Chiles in adobo Sauce (add more for more spice!) This stuff is amazing
Season with salt and pepper

Now what do I do?

1. Mix all the spicy ingredients together
2. Put in a vacuum sealed bag (being careful not to suck out the juices
3. Cook Sous-Vide at 179F for 6 hours
4. After your tough meat has become incredibly tender, pull it out to the bag, shred or cut into bitesized pieces
Serve simply on steamed corn tortillas with a bit of cilantro, red onion and a squeeze of lime juice. You can also add sliced avocado to your taco. The simplicity of these ingredients makes for quite a powerful punch.

Cooking this shoulder roast sous-vide transformed it into incredibly juicy, smoky hot meat perfect for these tacos. I was honestly very surprised how well the tough meat broke down throughout the cooking process  

At first, I thought the tacos might be a bit dry, not having and type of salsa on them... BUT the meat was so juicy and pull apart tender, that it did not leave my mouth dry. Only full of flavor from the lime, cilantro and robustly blood flavored meat. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

15 Minute Granola ---> No more crazy mornings!

     More often than not, I find myself scrambling in the morning wondering what in the world to have for breakfast. Recently, I tackled the pantry to figure out what I could make ahead to have for those busy mornings. I decided to make this super easy granola. The outcome has been some amazing breakfasts with more time to relax and enjoy the meal instead of worrying about what I was going to throw together. 

You can easily double (or triple!) this recipe to make more and store for ahead. 

How to make 15 minute granola in a few steps:

How to Cook 15 Minute Granola by Chef Hannah Heinz on Snapguide.


1 Cup Oats

¼ Cups Raisins

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Coffee Spice (it makes it taste like coffee!!)

¼ Cups Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (optional)