Winner Winner Chicken Dinner (or Brunch): Dairy and Gluten-free Chicken Fried Maitake Mushroom and Butternut Squash Waffle

I officially became a vegetarian when I was about 22 years old. In those 22 years I had never heard of chicken and waffles – it wasn’t a thing in New York. I moved out to LA when I was 33 and everyone wanted to meet at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles before drinks. I showed up later for drinks. The closest I ever came to Roscoe’s in LA was rewatching Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Being a New Yorker, I like to watch sporting events (the few I do watch) and election debates in bars – so during the 2012 election, I watched the debates from a bar on Pico located very close to a Roscoe’s. Turns out the person I was talking to next to me was Herb Hudson – the founder of Roscoe’s. He is a Harlem native and we talked a lot about NYC vs LA. He suggested I visit Roscoe’s noting that Obama had made a stop at a Roscoe’s, but once I told him I was vegetarian the conversation came to an abrupt halt. I have often been curious about the appeal of chicken and waffles. So I created a chicken-fried mushroom with a gluten-free and dairy-free nut crust. And put it on top of a gluten-free dairy free waffle. And topped it with sweet fruit toppings, green veggieful toppings, savory toppings, spicy toppings. Savory. Sweet. Soft and Crunchy. Chicken and waffles. I get it now.

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Souped up soup: Spicy creamy tomato basil coconut milk soup

On a cold rainy day I crave warm tasty comfort food. The first thing that comes to mind is a grilled cheese and tomato soup. Oh yeah. And while my taste buds crave the bread and cheese, my digestive system does not. So I decided to soup up my tomato soup so it can stand as a hearty meal on its own. This vegan soup is made with tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leeks, coconut milk and my kale beet green almond walnut pesto. Creamy. Nutritious. Warm. Rich. Satisfying.

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Stuff it, stuff it real good: Pumpkin stuffed with kale, asparagus, almonds, coconut milk and smokey cashew nut cream

During the holidays, as a vegetarian, I refuse to settle for side dishes or a store bought mock turkey as my meal.  I need a tasty impressive main meal – so my centerpiece is a stuffed pumpkin – typically stuffed with cheese and cream. As tasty as the dish is, I knew this could be made without any dairy and remain tasty. A hint of cayenne and hickory smoke, cream from cashews and coconut milk, almonds for a crunch and veggies for nutrition – this dairy-free gluten-free stuffed pumpkin has been a hit over the holidays.

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He who goes to bed hungry dreams of pancakes: flourless, dairy-free whole food protein pancakes with coconut milk date “syrup”

I absolutely love pancakes. I moved away from beautiful fluffy buttermilk pancakes to oat, almond cottage cheese pancakes – protein packed, no refined sugars or flours. Within the realm of flour/grain free pancakes I see recipes for pancakes made of banana, eggs and a  dollop of almond butter…but these are full of sugar. So I set out to make a whole food pancake, sweetened with only a little banana and date, loaded with protein and fiber. The winner was a butternut squash, almond butter, banana pancake sweetened with whole dates and topped with a coconut milk, date vanilla “syrup.” And what perfect timing! This was not planned (honestly!), but I just found out that today Tuesday, February 9 2016 is pancake day. Pancakes are in the air.

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Pour some non-refined whole food sugar on me: Gluten-free almond cake french toast encrusted with coconut milk and granola

Even if you instill good habits and encourage healthy taste buds in your little one, they go out into the world and discover it is full of refined sugar and chemicals that want to trick us into thinking that we want more and that they taste good. When I asked my two year old what she did yesterday when came home from daycare, she said “I ate cake.” There was a birthday party at daycare and the day was full of sweets loaded with refined sugars. As she was falling asleep, I asked her what she wanted to eat over the weekend and of course she responded “cake.” So I decided to honor her wishes and make her a cake. For breakfast. My way. No gluten, no milk proteins, no refined sugars.

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Then I decided to take it to the next level – soak it in a spiced coconut milk, dip it in granola and fry it into a french toast. O.M.G.                 IMAG6034    IMAG6042

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