Packing a gluten-free Vegetarian Toddler Nut-free Lunchbox: Roasted Chickpeas

January 29th, 2012 yum Posted in Chickpeas, JM friendly, Nut Free, Nutritional Yeast, Vegan, Vegetarian 11 Comments »


When we started Kira at her new preschool, we found that it was a nut-free facility. One of my favorite things about the place was that parents provided their own healthy lunches and snack supplements. But I started running out of ideas for things to send to school with Kira. She could only have fruit, crackers, pretzels, and snap peas so many times before it got old. One day I was somehow reminded of a recipe that appeared on many blogger’s pages some time back for roasted crunchy chickpeas. They were a high-protein, nutritious snack that didn’t need to be refrigerated, and it occurred to me that they might be perfect for her nut-free lunchbox. That morning I roasted up a batch and offered them to Toddler Yum. To my delight, she scarfed them down and loved the crunchiness of them. “Crunchy Chickpeas! I want more crunchy chickpeas,” she exclaimed, gobbling them up. I stole some of the batch and had to admit that they were indeed a tasty snack. More than a dozen batches later, they’ve become a household favorite with everyone from my carnivorous dad, low-carb mother, nutritional yeast fan DH and needless to say, me and toddler yum.




I know it has been a little while since I posted. The reason is that we’ve been quite sick with a cold that just wouldn’t quit. Toddler Yum’s cold turned into ear infections, and mine (as well as my mother’s) turned into pneumonia. So, I write this reclining on the couch, with the dear senior cat ra snoring and purring on my ankle and Downton Abbey playing on the television. The DH has been cooking soups for me all day, and roasting vegetables, and roasting chickpeas, and baking gluten-free french bread and brownies. Do I know how to pick them or what!

Stay tuned for any delicious recipes he comes up with… and the next sign up for Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger in early February.

Here’s me and my girl today, post chickpea scarfing.

Toddler or Mama’s Lunchbox Roasted Chickpeas
Ingredients
1 can chickpeas, drained
2 tsp olive or grapeseed oil
herb blend (I prefer bouquet garni or herbes de provence)
herbamare or other mild herbal salt blend (salt-free is ok)
smoked paprika
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
Directions
Preheat oven to 400f. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain chickpea in a strainer. You may rinse if you wish to get rid of some of the salt. Put in a bowl lined with a cloth towel. Pat the chickpeas dry and rub off any translucent skins that come off easily. Turn the towel wrapped chickpeas upside down into the bowl, removing the towel. Drizzle your oil over the chickpeas and evenly distribute over the chickpeas. Pour the chickpeas onto the baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with your herb blend, herbamare, smoked paprika, and then nutritional yeast. Roast for 30-40 minutes. If you like them extra crunchy, but don’t want to run the risk of burning them, you can turn off the oven and keep the chickpeas in the oven until they have reached a desired level of crunchiness.
Notes
Toddler Yum loves this recipe!

Here are some of my friend’s recipes:
Diane’s Roasted Chickpeas
Shirley’s Roasted Chickpeas
Jaden’s Roasted Chickpeas

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Gluten-free Dairy-free Soy-free Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Recipe

December 14th, 2011 yum Posted in Dairy Free, Pasta, Soy Free, Vegan 7 Comments »

Have you ever found a recipe so tasty and interesting that you want to make it all the time, and when you can’t make that exact recipe, you want to make recipes inspired by it? I had that experience some time back with By the Bay’s potato knish using Chebe crust as the pastry for knish. I liked it so much I started using Chebe for pastry for everything- spinach pie tartlets, samosas, cranberry apple turnovers. I took it so far that I got a reputation as “that Chebe girl” and the company approached me to develop some recipes and do a photo for their cinnamon mix packaging. True story!

I styled and photographed the photo on their last soft package mix for cinnamon Chebe. Of course, just recently they got entirely new packaging in fancy new boxes. I guess I’ll have to frame the remaining package in my pantry! But I digress.

So, about those recipes. I think you all know my friend Ali Segersten with the blog at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, and a new cookbook coming out soon. I adopted her some time ago for Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger. Way back in July she had this amazing recipe for Dairy-free Creamed Kale that I could eat like candy, I swear. Instead of using those tasteless packaged dairy-free milks, Ali used all fresh, real ingredients and make the creamy sauce with cashews. I just loved this recipe, and started thinking about other ways to use cashews as a creamy sauce in recipes.* I tried a creamed broccoli/cauliflower recipe, and it was good but not spectacular. But then the other night I was staring at my pantry trying to figure out what to make for dinner, and I was trying to think of how to make pasta interesting but not so interesting that Toddler Yum would snub it. We also had this huge container of mushrooms from Costco staring glossily back at me in the refrigerator, and it occurred to me that a cashew, dairy-free cream sauce would make a great mushroom alfredo. I seared some mushrooms and chard from our garden and added grated zucchini for bulk and sneaky mama veggie quotient and reduced the heck out of that cashew cream sauce. I also popped some white sweet potato “fries” in the oven to roast as a side dish.

At first I was going to make some plain pasta for the dear toddler, who can be relied on to ask for “plain, mama, plain pasta”. But then I thought that since she has never met a cashew dish she didn’t like, I’d try serving her the alfredo. The mushrooms were picked out immediately, and she eyed the chard very suspiciously, but she slurped down the pasta in sauce like a starving puppy and asked for more. My girl had four helpings before the night was out! And before you get worried, she had skipped the (disgusting) lunch at her daycare and had recently recovered from a tummy bug, so I think she was ready for a serious calorie infusion. The picky DH, who can be very skeptical of dairy-free sauces, dove in with gusto, and it goes without saying that I ate more than my fair share. Success!

I would definitely make this recipe again, and might just have to try this cashew sauce in some other classic creamy recipes. If you have a vitamix, I think the creamy sauce will be even more creamy, but the texture with my (pathetically weak) blender reminded me of the texture of melted parmesan regianno bits, so it worked well for us. These photos were taken the following day when the greedy pasta had drank up a lot of the sauce. It tasted good reheated but was most spectacular freshly made. Also, I used the new Trader Joe’s gluten-free corn spaghetti, and thought it worked well. A brown rice (Tinkyada) or my all time my favorite gluten-free pasta by Le Veneziane might make it even better!



*This recipe posting is Ali-approved… I love my fellow bloggers and always like to ask them when I use a blogged recipe as serious inspiration when developing a new recipe.

Dairy-free Soy-fre Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Sauce Recipe
Ingredients
The Sauce:
2 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 cups water
1 teaspoon raw cider vinegar
1 teaspoon herbamare or your favorite herbed salt

The Pasta:
1 lb. gluten-free spaghetti

The Veggies:
1 tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil (if needed)
3/4 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
freshly ground pepper and additional herbamare to taste
large handful of chard, cleaned and cut into slivers
2 small zucchini or 1 regular zucchini, cleaned and grated

Directions
Heat oil on medium-high in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet. Saute your onion until translucent. Then combine translucent onion, soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, water, vinegar and herbamare in a blender. Blend until you have a creamy sauce. Reserve.

Boil pasta until al dente.

Heat additional oil (if needed) in your pan on medium-high and add your sliced mushrooms in a single layer on the pan. Season with freshly grated black pepper and herbamare. You may have to do several batches. Brown one side and then turn over to brown the other side. Remove from pan and reserve while you brown the remaining mushrooms. Add your slivered chard to the last batch of mushrooms and sautee them until they wilt and start to brown. Sprinkle on your grated zucchini and let it soften slightly. Pour on your sauce and let it thicken.

Mix pasta into the sauce and serve topped with fresh basil if desired.

Notes
Best the first night it is made, but can be reheated too. I think I might save any uneaten pasta separate from the sauce for the next day and combine them right before heating so that the pasta doesn’t absorb too much of the sauce and you get more creamy liquid for leftovers.
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