Burn night glutton without gluten: Yeasted gluten-free pizza crust

In 2011, my last year at Burning Man, we camped with new friends that built a pizza oven on the playa. It was a hot hot year and despite the heat, I could not wait until I could play with the blow torch, fire up the oven and make pizza after pizza. A pizza goddess was born in from the ashes and dust that year and I was determined to continue to flame the fire in the default world. With a wood burning stove in the back and a pizza stone for indoor use, I took my pizza skills to the next level working on dough moisture and consistency. I came up with a wonderful whole grain but gluten-full crust. We decided that this year, on burn night, we would reignite that flame and host a burning oven for our friends who, like us, were not at the actual Burn. I decided it was time to play with flours, starches and binders again to come up with a  gluten-free crust as part of our array of offerings.  Here is a yeasted gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gum-free dough sweetened for a very tasty crust.

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Give quiche a chance: Black olive, sun dried tomato, spinach, zucchini, leek, mint quiche in a sweet potato crust

There is only one thing that I know when it comes to food – eat fresh, whole real food. But even with whole, fresh, real food, there can be problems. I learned about the FODMAP over the last few weeks through a friend. Some people can’t eat real whole foods that have short chain carbohydrates without seriously upsetting their digestive system. That includes foods like garlic, onions, avocado, cauliflower, nuts, seeds and so much my recipes and diet are dependent on. With a FODMAP, meat is not a problem –  but meat is a food that my own digestive system does not process and that I choose not to eat. Does that mean that someone with a diet on a FODMAP and a vegetarian can’t share a flavorful beautiful meal? Of course not – especially when that sparks creativity in me using the ingredients we share in common. I came up with a black olive, sun dried tomato, spinach, zucchini, leek, mint quiche in a sweet potato crust. Topped with either feta or an almond based “parmesan.” No processed foods, no short chain carbohydrates, no cream or lactose or flour.

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Talk dinner to me: Arugula and roasted vegetable salad with zucchini “ravioli” stuffed with basil almond “ricotta”

Hello again! It’s been six months since my last post. Life, job and motherhood got in the way again. Last year I began this blog to use food and diet as a way to look at my life differently, adjust my habits and patterns and change my life – and I succeeded. This year started on a downward slump and I was not feeling inspired or creative. I knew it was time to shake things up. Again. I tackled the one area of my life I knew I could control – my diet.

I recently completed a 21 day cleanse and now I feel leaner, meaner and cleaner. The last thing I want to do is turn right back into my old habits and overwhelm my system again. I have been making a lot of food I have previously posted here and coming up with new recipes that will help me stay on track and not reach for gut busting foods. One of my old standards for my family is a ravioli salad – rather than surround the ravioli with a rich sauce, incorporate it into a salad. However, I always feel heavy with the pasta and unless the ravioli is fresh made by an amazing chef or Italian nonna, I am usually not satisfied. So I crafted my veg based ravioli, eliminating the gluten, grain and cheese and grilled the veggies to enhance their flavor. Wait till you try this arugula and roasted asparagus, tomato and broccolini salad topped with faux ravioli made with zucchini, stuffed with basil almond ricotta. It will satisfy you at dinner and not weigh you down.

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Stir it up, little darling: Asian inspired soy-free mushroom veggie soup with spaghetti squash noodles and a poached egg

I love soups from the east – miso soup, ramen, pho and more. Chef Ilan Hall, who you may know as one of the first winners of Top Chef, or his Brooklyn restaurant The Gorbals where he films the show Knife Fight, is a chef who likes to challenge himself. Knife Fight often includes ingredients like pigs head or live catfish or lamb belly or shark. Not exactly veg friendly. But he recently opened Ramen Hood in one of my favorite food places in LA – Grand Central Market. Ramen Hood is no ordinary ramen place – the dishes are vegan. He makes mushroom broth that is meaty, creamy, spiced with togarashi, filled with ramen and topped with a faux soft boiled egg – yes a faux egg. I have yet try to try Ramen Hood but I have been craving it already. While on the Whole30 I have been unable to eat some of my favorite soups as they contain ramen, or rice noodles or soy – fermented or fresh. So I decided it was time to make my own mushroom based, asian-inspired soup, with bok choy and spaghetti squash for noodles. I haven’t figured out a faux-egg yet, so I topped with with a real poached egg. The result was earthy, flavorful and hit the spot.

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Lettuce wrap it up for the day: Soy-free Asian inspired mushroom, nut, seed, veggie lettuce cups

Today is the Chinese new year – year of the monkey. On my way home I smelled mushrooms cooking in some sort of soy sauce and it made me crave something Asian with mushrooms. I have really grown into mushrooms over the last few years. I used to hate them…all the way into adulthood until I finally tried a dish at one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in New York City called Zen Palate. It was called mushroom forest and and was a chopped medley of shiitake, wheat gluten or soy, celery and other goodness that was eaten in a lettuce shell. Since coming to Calfornia, I have been making something similar, but without the wheat gluten or soy, and that is full of nuts and seeds for protein. It is shiitake, kale, carrot, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pine nut medley served in a lettuce wrap. And it was perfect for a new year celebration.

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You had me at pizza: Flourless, dairy-free pizza with a cauliflower pine nut crust and nut-based faux mozz

I need pizza. I really do. But the Whole30 means no pizza for mama on our Friday night pizza night (even though we make the best, fresh from scratch, whole wheat or gluten free home made pizza). What really defines pizza is the crust and the cheese, so really I am SOOL while on Whole30, but I can make something that is compliant and kinda like pizza. Now if you are looking for something that truly tastes like pizza, made from whole ingredients without some fancy machinery and lots of time, please tell me the secret because in my opinion, you can replace the crust or replace the cheese but not both at the same time. When I am giving myself a break from Whole30 and eating dairy or gluten every so often, I place the faux cheese on a real crust or real cheese on faux crust, and voila, healthier pizza that tastes like pizza. This is a very tasty Whole30 compliant oooey gooey dairy-free faux mozz on a flourless, gluten-free, dairy-free cauliflower crust. It is tasty and satisfying and hits the spot on Friday night pizza night.

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Nacho your typical nacho: Baked sweet potato chips with gooey vegan cashew cheez

I blame everyone else’s talk of football – I don’t pay attention to the sport nor does anyone in my household, but I can’t help but pay attention to what people are making for game day snacks (they are talking about food, how can I not pay attention?) As a result, I end up with cravings for food like nachos. But I try to avoid corn chips, tortilla or cheese in my diet, which pretty much eliminates the main components of nachos. Anyone who knows me knows that I refuse to be limited. Each limitation is an open door to creating something new – something, as my daughter says is “same same but different.” So I made baked sweet potato chips topped with a vegan gooey cashew based cheez, salsa, guacamole, purple cabbage, purple kale, tomato, avocado, cilantro, jalepeno and scallion.

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The squash look very different today: Gluten-free butternut squash, zucchini and sweet potato patties with a vegan zucchini, avocado, cashew aioli

I have been a bit homesick in the last few weeks. Maybe it was thinking about all the fun my cousins and brothers had over the holiday and missing the time spent together in 2015. Maybe it was missing my NYC friends and that community I had. Maybe it was missing the streets of NYC and my old apartment after seeing the building I lived in for 11 years in a scene in Mozart in the Jungle. On top of that, it was cold and I wanted to stay under the covers. Whatever it was, I wanted something comforting. But this whole food challenge does force me to think about how I can achieve comfort without relapsing into my old food habits. So I had to think about how I could make something that was tasty and veggieful with protein that could satisfy my craving and my body at the same time. And so a tasty snack and appetizer was born: Dairy and gluten-free butternut squash, zucchini, sweet potato patties with an avocado, zucchini and cashew aioli.

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Whoa tell me baby, do you like it like this: Mashed purple potato, beluga lentil and vegetable bake

It’s finally winter in southern California…if you can call a high in the low 60’s winter (The east coaster in me thinks it is summer year round here and can’t tell one year to the next). But it’s all relative and given that it is no longer 90 degrees F outside, I can wear my boots, sweaters and scarves and actually feel like eating the potatoes that make an appearance in my CSA box every so often. In a healthy way – layered with veggies and lentils, garnished with either goat cheese or smoked shiitake “bacon” for an extra boost of flavor.

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Let’s taco bout avo-tacos: fried avocado lettuce wrap taco with cabbage and zucchini slaw, sriracha “aioli” and pico de gallo

Living in southern California, all anyone ever wants to eat is a fish taco…and when it is beer battered and fried, there is no doubt that it is the item to order. I recently had a great fried avocado taco in East Nashville (I did not expect to find excellent tex-mex in Nashville) at The Local Taco and decided I had to recreate it at home and to take it to the next level with a beer batter. But of course, I have to do it my way – vegan, gluten-free, dairy free with no refined sugars, adding in as much protein as possible and filling it with whole food goodness.

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