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Posts Tagged ‘seasonal produce’

sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl

This post was inspired by the people in my family (that would be Bill and Tevis) who have a funky allele from the shallow end of the “food sensitivity” gene pool. That little chromosome modification makes eating raw lettuce a digestive disaster.


Yes, there are people who can’t eat raw lettuce. How weird is that? (This coming from someone who can’t eat gluten, bell peppers, black beans and eggplant. Or oysters, but that’s just because they’re icky.)

So, who says you have to eat lettuce raw?

Remember, you are the boss of your food. I find lettuce absolutely delicious sautéed and mixed in with other veggies and brown rice. Just like you would spinach or kale. What’s the difference? They’re all leafy and green.

sautéed lettuce and brown rice bowl (a favorite lunch of mine)
what you need

1 cup cooked brown rice (I love Golden Rose, but any brown or wild rice will do) *
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 to 2 cups washed and chopped lettuce (a thick and leafy type is best)
Spoonful of coconut oil (or oil of choice)
Several splashes of vegetable broth
Sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and roasted nuts (optional)
Dusting of gomasio * (or dried herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)

what you do
Heat oil on low/medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté onions, carrots and celery for 5 to 7 minutes, stir often. They should be lightly cooked, but still crunchy. Add garlic and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and blend with veggies. If your rice is cold (cooked, but has been refrigerated), make sure you cook it long enough to heat it up. Add a splash of vegetable broth just enough to moisten the mix and prevent the rice and veggies from sticking to the pan. Add the lettuce and another splash of broth and stir well. Keep stirring and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until lettuce is wilted. You might even put the lid on the skillet and let it steam for a minute or two. Place in bowl, top with cheese and seasonings.

I’m not guaranteeing this will solve your food sensitivity problem, but many people have difficulties consuming raw veggies, lettuce included and they never think to cook it first. We cook all other veggies, why not lettuce?

I get lots of Romaine lettuce from my Grant Family Farms CSA share and find this to be a perfect choice for cooking (see above photo of chopped Romaine). It’s thick, crunchy and hearty, so it stands up well when thrown in the sauté pan.

* For detailed information on rice types and cooking tips, please check here.
* For a wonderful gomasio recipe, check here.

Peace, love and cooked lettuce.

swamp scum smoothie

Well, that’s what it looked like. Murky, camo-green and all.

Plus, I’m hooked on alliterations, and those “s” words flowed together so well. Although I must say, swamp scum probably isn’t the most keyword-worthy phrase. Not that I’ve ever cared much about keywords. In my own blog world, anyway. If I write copy for you, I’m TOTALLY into keywords. TOTALLY.

I suppose if I’m going to take this blogging thing seriously, I should start thinking tagline options, SEO, keywords, analytics and metadata. Don’t you think? After all these years?


Just the mention of metadata gives me brain freeze. And without the accompaniment of a huge bite of ice cream, that’s just not fun.

Okay, on to the serious business of figuring out what to do with all this spinach. I’m almost sure someone at my CSA pickup location slipped some of their spinach into my box.

Fine. If anyone can manage an abundance of spinach, it’s me. I’ll take on the challenge.

Nancy Drew meets the Green Goddess (ooh, that would have been a great title).

swamp scum smoothie
what you need

SPINACH (if you don’t have any, I’ll share), washed with stems *
1 golden beet unpeeled, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped *
1 small apple unpeeled, scrubbed and chopped *
1 cup vanilla goat yogurt
a handful of frozen cherries
a handful of pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
coconut water

what you do
1. Place all ingredients in your VitaMix and blend well. If you have a regular blender, shred the beets rather than chopping them.

* The skins of beets and apples contain all kinds of beneficial nutrients and fiber, so choose organic and leave the skin intact. Scrub well, but don’t peel. If you don’t go with organic, then you might want to get rid of the skin as it’s probably been sprayed with an assortment of icky chemicals. Spinach stems contain some nourishing goodies as well, so throw some of them into the mix.

Go forth and celebrate spinach (again and again). No complaining. This is what “eating local” is all about. Especially in Colorado.
Peace, love and green stuff!

Spinach, spinach and more spinach

Are you having an evolutionary flashback?

Belonging to a CSA means eating according to the natural, local growing cycles. Back in the olden days, this was the only option. No avocados if you lived in Colorado. No tomatoes in the winter unless you canned them. No spinach in December.

Here in the Rocky Mountains, you can count on the possibility of snow into May (maybe longer), so June and July mean LOTS of greens (seriously, like a ton). Right now my CSA share box is overflowing with spinach. My crisper drawer is jammed. I can’t shove another leaf into it.

That’s the perceived downside to belonging to a CSA. No variety. Spinach, spinach and more spinach. Hey, we have too many options in life as it is, enjoy the simplicity. Sometimes less is more (or something like that).

Just think “primitive diet” with a contemporary twist. Spinach is our main ingredient, we simply need to resort to some creative accessorizing. How about some maple syrup to sweeten things up? Those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time might recognize a pattern here. Pure, organic maple syrup is often my answer to life’s dilemmas.

warm maple spinach salad
what you need

10 cups washed, stemmed and gently torn spinach
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda

what you do
1. Toast pecans in a small skillet over low heat until fragrant (3 to 5 minutes). Stir often. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Toss spinach and cucumber in a large bowl.
3. Heat oil in small skillet over low-medium heat. Add shallot and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir often. Don’t let the shallot burn. Add vinegar and maple syrup and increase heat until almost boiling. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Immediately pour the dressing over the spinach and cucumber. Toss well and sprinkle with cheese and toasted pecans.

Makes 4 large servings or 6 small ones.

As for the abundance of CSA spinach, if all else fails, make a bouquet-ish arrangement out of it. See photo above.

Go forth and eat spinach! Over and over.
P.S. Cid, I’m counting on you to set me straight on my cheese choice. I’m guessing there’s a more fashionable accessory than smoked Gouda.

CSA Season begins (hallelujah)

Farm-fresh food lovers, start your engines (salad-spinners, blenders, stovetops, VitaMixes, ice-cream makers, juicers, dehydrators). CSA season is upon us!

Okay, so we’re a little behind out here in Colorado. It’s that pesky snow thing. But, we’re a hardy bunch. We don’t let cold weather ruin our fun or our growing season. Last weekend was Grant Family Farm’s spring farm tour and CSA kick-off celebration. It was cold, rainy, dreary and muddy, but in true Woodstock tradition, spirits were high, the beer was flowing and the farm-fresh food abundant.

As I did last year, I’ll be posting recipes according to what I receive in my share box each week. Please join me in eating our way through the season.

spinach pesto
what you need

2 cups fresh spinach, washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
2 – 3 tablespoons parsley, washed and stemmed
1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

what you do
Place all ingredient in a food processor and pulse. Salt and pepper to taste. Serving ideas: drizzle over roasted chicken, serve with crackers, use on pizza, substitute as a condiment in wraps or sandwiches, use as a pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Photos courtesy of Kirsten Akens, Food & Drink writer for the Colorado Springs Independent. Please follow this link to Kirsten’s article about Grant Farms Spring Farm Tour (more photos included). Thank you, Kirsten!

Peace, love and farm-fresh food.

homemade vegetable soup stock

Having a jar of homemade stock available is at the top of my list of “essentials” when it comes to healthy cooking. I use stock for everything from sautéing greens and making rice to adding moisture to my veggie burger mix. It’s also a great way to use up bits and pieces of veggies that probably wouldn’t have a life of their own if not mixed together for stock. These are the stragglers that are one step ahead of the compost pile. Rather than using them to make dirt, use them to make stock.

Here’s how.

what you need (this is a launching pad, use whatever you have on hand)
Place random veggie parts and pieces in a large, deep stock pot. Full the pot half-full with chopped veggies. Add some garlic, fresh or dried herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, bay leaves), salt, 2 to 4 whole peppercorns and some dried mushrooms. The mushrooms are optional, but they do add a nice earthy flavor and substance to the stock. You can also add chopped jalapeno or red pepper flakes if you want stock with a kick. Cover with cold, filtered water, bring to a boil, turn heat down, put a lid on it and simmer for about 1 to 2 hours. Cool and strain. I often pick through the strained veggies and purée a few favorites to add a touch of thickness to the stock.

Veggie stock will keep in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. I freeze it in small batches, so I can pull out a container and use it for a couple of days to sauté vegetables or heat up already cooked rice or quinoa. I’m a fan of olive oil or coconut oil for sautéing, but using broth is low fat and low calorie. Plus it adds a nice, rich flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

* I keep a glass jar in the fridge for non-compostable (the elite stuff) veggie remnants during CSA season. I go through veggies so quickly that saving the better cast-aside pieces for making stock works well. Slightly past their prime is fine, bordering on old age is not good.

Peace, love and veggie remnants!

pumpkin maple Grand Marnier ice cream


I hope you haven’t lost trust in me when it comes to ice cream. Maybe I deserve it. Was it the sweet corn ice cream? Or the vegan chocolate chip, beet ice cream? I guess I don’t blame you, but you absolutely must give me one more chance because this pumpkin, maple, Grand Marnier ice cream is a winner. I’m not kidding, I can hardly keep the freezer door shut long enough to let it totally set up. I keep tasting it to make sure I’m not dreaming. Or delusional.

Okay, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty dang close. Let me go taste it one more time and I’ll let you know for sure.

Yep, it’s a 9.5. If it was a little creamier, I’d give it a 10. The pumpkin purée is a touch grainy. Just a touch – like a nano-touch, so keep reading.

I’ve been receiving pumpkins in my Grant Farms CSA box on a weekly basis lately. Sweet, yummy, organic, sugar pumpkins. I’ve made soup, muffins, custard, pancakes and even cookies out of pumpkins. But never ice cream. Until today, and I’m happy to say I’ve found a new favorite dessert. I’m serving it tomorrow. After a day of skiing and a dinner of traditional New Mexico stacked, red chile enchiladas. With an organic poached egg on top. I’m shaking things up a bit this Thanksgiving.

pumpkin, maple, Grand Marnier ice cream
what you need
ice cream maker
1 and 3/4th cup half and half, well chilled
1 cup pumpkin purée, unsweetened and unspiced
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B (here’s why)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* optional: 1 – 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
I used 1 teaspoon because I was afraid it would be too strong, but I think I’ll try 2 next time. The Grand Marnier idea came from David Lebovitz’s adaptation of Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox’s pumpkin ice cream recipe.

what you do
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend on medium-low speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Turn on ice cream maker, pour ingredients into freezer bowl per manufacturer’s directions and let mix for about 30 minutes until thickened. Transfer to a storage container and freeze.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
P.S. I just tasted it again, it’s not grainy. Trust me.

Anne’s butternut leek ginger soup


Before I launch into today’s recipe, I’d like to share a little esoteric trivia with you. Esoteric in a world-wide sense, as our enlightened inner circle contains a bazillion people. But in order to understand the following, you must have a linguistic understanding of what www means and that’s a big outer-inner (out-there) circle.

Stick with me, there’s some logic to this intro, however convoluted it might be.

Today has great significance in the posting of this recipe. On November 12th, 1990, English physicist Tim Berners-Lee and Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau drafted a proposal entitled “WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project.” That’s what guys who work at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics lab, do in their spare time.

You know, when they’re not messing around with particle accelerators or smashing atoms.

Little did they know that their project and the alliterative fusion of three simple words would have such a profound impact on the future of information technology and the way we communicate. And on food. Although few of us understand what’s really going on in cyber-space, www has become a household “word” and making friends with people in far-off places is as easy as commenting on a blog.

Which brings me to the point of this post – Anne’s butternut, leek and ginger soup. The recipe originally came from Mitchell Beazley’s book, The Simple Art of Marrying Food & Wine. Anne, whom I met ages ago at Miles Collins’ blog, left her version of the soup in the comment section of my Dia de los Muertos post. I doubt that Tim and Robert had friendships, food writing and recipe exchanges in mind when they wrote their proposal for the HyperText Project and dubbed the nebulous world of mark-up language and stored information the WorldWideWeb. But that’s how things have unfolded in my little corner of culinary cyber-space (alliterations aside).

WWW has turned into FFF. WorldWideWeb. FoodFriendshipFun. I love it!

Okay, I’ve indulged myself in some off-kilter rambling, now on to food. This week’s CSA box contained butternut squash, onions, leeks and an assortment of other fall veggies and fruit. As luck would have it, those were the ingredients in Anne’s version of Mitchell’s version of butternut squash soup. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne. Here’s my version.

Butternut squash leek onion ginger curry coconut soup
what you need

1-2 butternut squashes (I ended up with about 4 cups of peeled and cubed squash) *
4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 cup water
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 apple, washed, peeled, cored and chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (I like things gingery, use less if you please)
2 teaspoons curry powder *
roasted pumpkin seeds

what you do
Melt butter in a medium soup pot. Add onions and leeks and sauté until lightly browned. Add broth, water, apple, squash and ginger and simmer until squash is tender (30 minutes or so). Remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Carefully puree soup in a food processor, in batches, and transfer back into the soup pot. Add curry seasoning and coconut milk, stir well and reheat. Top with a few roasted pumpkin seeds, even though I forgot to do it before taking the picture.

* Check with Amy at SS & GF for detailed instructions on how to peel and chop butternut squash.

* My Madras-style curry mix contains turmeric, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, white pepper, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and Tellicherry black pepper.


The sisterhood of the traveling soup bowls would like to thank Tim and Robert for setting into motion the worldwideweb. We also appreciate the random brother with a bowl. Go forth and make soup!

can I offer you a cocktail


I had a plan for today’s blog post – Anne’s butternut squash, leek and ginger soup. But by 5:30 AM this morning, I was already off-task, side-tracked and on to something different.

Yes, I’m a touch ADD-ish, I will admit. Maybe a touch more than a touch if I really think about it. Thank goodness for my omegas or that constant stream of ideas and visual images ricocheting around in my head would resemble a cognitive tilt-a-whirl ride. I’m not complaining though, as I’m rarely ever bored.

I promise, this evening I’ll make the soup and work on my intended post because as luck would have it, after Anne so graciously left the recipe in the comment section of my Dia de los Muertos post, I received almost all the ingredients in last night’s CSA pickup box. And it sounds so good. But for now, I’d like to offer you a pre-dawn cocktail.

Imagine this – it’s 5 AM and I’ve been up for over an hour. I’m wearing plaid flannel jammie bottoms with little skiers on them, a Marmot black fleece turtleneck and Ugg boots. Hair uncombed and pulled back in a ponytail. Brown geeky reading glasses with lime-green trim.


Okay, so what should I have for breakfast? Something light as I’m going to yoga soon, but something substantial enough to get me through yoga and a meeting shortly afterwards. A nutritious, yet mellow smoothie.

Napa cabbage and beet drippings smoothie (hey, don’t pre-judge)
1 ripe banana
1 small apple, cored and chopped into blender chunks
4 big Napa cabbage leaves, washed and chopped
1/2 cup vanilla goat yogurt
1 celery stalk, washed and chopped
10 ounces or so of beet drippings *
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
4-5 walnuts

Place all ingredients in the blender and blitz well. Serve in beautiful wine glasses and enjoy your morning. Serves two, three – or maybe just one.

* I like to roast beets (which I did last night) in the oven in a shallow baking dish with some water. Once the beets are roasted, I let the water cool, pour it in a jar (using a funnel) and store it in the refrigerator to add to smoothies. It works great as some of the beet juice filters into the water and you end up with this delightful and nutritious power liquid. For detailed information about roasting beets (and a wonderful salad recipe), please check here.

Go forth and have a power cocktail for breakfast. Seriously, this was SO good and no one would ever guess it was made with beet juice and cabbage leaves.

gluten-free apple crumble


It’s apple harvest time in Colorado.

I’ve got a big jug of Ela Farms organic, sugar-free apple cider in the fridge and I’ve been busy making apple sauce, dehydrated apples, apple porridge, apple bars and apple muffins. Not that I’m complaining. But, after picking up my CSA box yesterday and finding another zillion honey-crisp apples in the fruit basket, I had no choice but to expand on my healthy options and make a full-on, traditional, sugar-laden, butter-filled apple crumble.

Seriously, I had no choice. None.

There are a handful of desserts that insist on being made with the real thing. This is one of them.

Melissa’s GF apple crumble
what you need for the apple filling

6 to 8 apples, depending on size
1/2 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons GF flour * (I used Pamela’s GF Baking Mix, but any GF mix or regular flour will work)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash of salt

what you need for the crumble topping
3/4 cup GF flour * (I used Pamela’s GF Baking Mix, but any GF mix or regular flour will work)
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup butter *
1 cup chopped pecans (or less – I love pecans in this, so I use a lot)

1. Wash, core and slice apples in thin sections and place in a large bowl. Depending on your preference and time, you can either peel them or not. I’ve done it both ways, but it does change the texture a bit if they are unpeeled (the photo below shows them peeled, but unpeeled is more-often my choice).

2. Using a whisk and a medium sized bowl, mix the remaining ingredients on the apple filling list.

3. Pour mixed dry ingredients over the apples and gently stir to cover all the pieces with filling ingredients. Place in greased pie plate and arrange to fit. If you feel as though there’s not enough coverage, mix up a small amount of extra filling mix and add that. I have a fairly large-sized pie plate so depending on my apple sizes, sometimes I end up making a touch extra. I’ve also increased all the measurements and made a big apple crumble during special occasions. Adjust as you see fit.


4. Whisk together flour, sugar and cinnamon from the crumble ingredient list. Add butter as indicated below (*) and mix well. Add the pecans, stir and cover pie with crumble mixture. Press down to cover all the area. The photo below is an example of the pre-baked crumble, but in a much larger baking dish. This version was half-again bigger than the recipe calls for (I wanted to show you some options).


5. Place in pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 45-50 minutes. Check after about 30 minutes and cover loosely with foil if it starts to burn (it may, so watch it closely). Quick clean-up tip: you might also want to put a piece of foil on the floor of your oven in case the filling boils over and makes a mess of your oven.

6. Remove from oven, serve with vanilla ice cream and swoon over your creation. No one (NO ONE) will care that this is gluten-free. Don’t even tell them. On second thought, tell them and then don’t give them the recipe. Just explain that this is what is served in our wheat-free parallel universe that they aren’t part of. Be totally snooty about it. So there, you wheat-eaters!

Of course, I’m kidding.

Sort of.


* Butter, here’s the deal – if I’m going to use butter, I’m going to use the best available source. My choice is Organic Valley Pastured Butter for a variety of reasons. The real thing is much healthier for you than all those nasty “I thought it was real, but it’s really a bunch of icky fake crap” butters. Plus, how the animals are treated makes a big difference in my food choices. This is a good, healthy option for me.

* Butter-using tip: I buy the big chunk of butter and store it in the freezer. Then when I need butter for pie crusts and crumbles, I take it out of the freezer and shred it with a cheese grater. That is much easier than doing that double-knife-ninja-crossover-thing to mix up butter. Then I put the butter back in the freezer for next time. Very easy and there’s less chance of a serious, pastry-mixing injury. Are you listening, GDave?

Go forth and enjoy the apple harvest!

watermelon chia seed smoothie


I’d like to say it’s a lazy, hot summer day in Golden, Colorado, perfect for ripe, juicy seasonal watermelon. But no, it’s cold, windy and the low last night was 28 degrees. Not exactly picnic weather. More like hot chocolate, flannel jammies and furry slippers weather. 

But, when you eat local and seasonal food, you go with the plant flow and it’s watermelon time, so put on a down parka and dig in!

I have been eating watermelon daily for the past three weeks. I’m really not complaining as you all know how much I love my weekly CSA share from Grant Family Farms. Yes, I’ll admit it – I love my farmers up the road in Wellington. Head over heels, stalkingly in love. But in a good veggie-fruit kind of way. Yes, Andy Grant is my version of Sting, a total rock star. Or rather a dirt star. 

This smoothie was created using fruits and veggies from my recent share box. Mix and match according to what you have on hand, but this made for a perfect breakfast shake. While sitting by the fire, wrapped in a wool blankie, wearing mittens. Hey, nobody promised that eating seasonal in Colorado would always make sense. 

watermelon chia seed smoothie (this is a winner)
2 cups watermelon chunks, seeds removed
2 cups mixed lettuce greens (the good stuff, not iceberg lettuce)
1 small apple, unpeeled and chopped
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup Redwood Hill Farms vanilla goat yogurt
1/2 to 1 scoop Chia Seeds (this is what I use
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix well. If your watermelon is juicy enough, you’ll have a perfect smoothie without adding any liquid. This was absolutely delicious and something even picky kids will love (or you green-food-avoiding grownups – you know who you are). The green, leafy stuff is practically unnoticeable. 

Chia (chee-ah) is an edible seed from a desert plant that is a member of the mint family. Like quinoa was to the Inca Indians, chia was warrior food for the Aztecs and Mayans.

Total Zena, Warrior Princess food. 

Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, niacin, zinc and blah, blah, blah. These little nutty-tasting seeds truly are power-packed. The high fiber content makes them perfect for slowing down the process by which carbs are converted to sugar, so energy levels are more balanced. Chia is great mixed into trail bars, granola, muffins and hot cereal. 

Go forth and thrive!
Zena, Warrior Princess

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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