Guest Post: Crispy Chickpeas

Photo courtesy Tupperware

Join me today for my guest post at Mary Cokenour's food blog, Adventures of a Comfort Cook, where I share a scrumptious low carb, keto vegan vegetarian recipe for Crispy Chickpeas, which are an incredible superfood!

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Guest Post: Vegetable Lasagna Rustico (Mary Cokenour)

Lasagna That Is Meatless
and Very Little Cheese

Typically, when you hear the word "Lasagna", images of long, tender noodles holding layer upon layer of meat sauce and mixture of Italian cheeses might come to mind.  This new recipe I am going to post today is about a lasagna without meat, no typical red tomato sauce, and very little cheese indeed.  I'm writing about a vegetable lasagna, the same long, tender noodles, but instead there are layers chock full of sautéed vegetables, fresh spinach leaves and a béchamel sauce.  Béchamel is a white sauce, but since I did melt in a fair amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, it becomes an Alfredo sauce.

Even though the noodles are undercooked slightly, they will be pliable and not fall apart.  Will they cook evenly while baking?  Yes!  The sauce, plus natural liquid from the vegetables, will finish cooking the noodles; they will be tender and absorb flavors of both the sauce and the vegetables.  The Alfredo sauce allows the vegetables to retain their individual flavors and truly enhances them.

Vegetable Lasagna Rustico

Lasagna Filling: Ingredients:

12 Lasagna Noodles (full size, not the no-cook variety)
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
½ lb. shredded carrots
½ sliced mushrooms
1 large zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 large yellow squash, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. Italian herbal mix
½ lb. spinach leaves; divided into 1/3 portions
5 cups Alfredo sauce

Alfredo Sauce: Ingredients:

8 Tbsp. butter
8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 cups hot milk
1 (8 oz.) package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 


Prepare noodles according to package direction, but undercook by 5 minutes to leave the noodles pliable.

Prepare the Alfredo sauce which should be kept warm until ready for use.  In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted; gradually add the flour, stirring until smooth.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a golden brown color, about 6 to 7 minutes; this is the roux.

Add the hot milk to the butter mixture one cup at a time; whisk continuously to avoid burning or clumping. When mixture is completely smooth, add the cheese and whisk until smooth again; remove from heat; season with salt and nutmeg.

Prepare the vegetable filling; in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add onions, red and green bell peppers and carrots; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Add in the mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash; mix and let cook for five minutes.  Mix in garlic and Italian herbal mixture; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375F and lightly spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Begin the layering process: one cup sauce spread over bottom of baking dish; three noodles alongside each other; one third of the vegetables from the skillet spread over the noodles; one third of the spinach leaves spread over the vegetables; three noodles; one cup sauce spread over the noodles; lastly top with remaining two cups of sauce.

- Or -

One Cup Sauce

3 Noodles

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

One Cup Sauce

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

One Cup Sauce

1/3 Vegetables

1/3 Spinach Leaves

3 Noodles

Top with remaining two cups of sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes; until golden brown.  Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting into portions, as after resting, the cut portions hold their shape well.

Makes 9 servings.

Guest Blogger Bio: Mary Cokenour

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY; lived in Lancaster, PA before moving to Monticello, UT with my husband, Roy. We are the "Indiana Jones and Marian" of the area which can be read about on my travel blog, The Southwest Through Wide Brown Eyes (www.southwestbrowneyes.com).

I love the area I live in; clean, clear, blue sky; the stars so bright at night and you can almost touch the moon. Beautiful mountains, desert, red rocks....beauty as far as the eye can see.  I always encourage everyone, and anyone, to move to San Juan County, UT, if they’re looking for a peaceful plot on this planet.  Businesses are also encouraged, as the tourist trade is year round due to the National Parks and Monuments surrounding the area.

However, my passion is cooking which my maternal grandmother began teaching me when I was five years old.  Unfortunately, I lost her when I was only ten; and did not begin self-training until my twenties.  In 1995, I won my first Better Homes and Gardens magazine cooking contest, appeared on a local television station, and my passion was back!  2011 was the birth of my food blog, Food Adventures of a Comfort Cook (www.comfortcookadventures.com). 

Food should be a comfort to the body, mind and soul; not just eaten and forgotten about five minutes later.  Not only do I write about and demonstrate personal recipes, but those of other food bloggers, and credit is given where credit is due.  I review new products and gadgets, and restaurant reviews as well.  It’s important that consumers know what to expect, and that they’re not wasting precious time and finances.


Meatless Monday: Vegan Vegetarian Asian Recipes

Image credit Rob Nguyen

September or October brings the Mid-Autumn Festival and a great opportunity to try your hand at vegan vegetarian Asian recipes. Whether you’re in the mood for garlic or basil, there’s an entree here to leave you satisfied. Looking for something on the light side? Go for the Spicy Rice Noodle Salad.

·        Meg at Beard & Bonnet swears by the Miso Bake for using whatever produce you have on hand. 
·        Julie at The Simple Veganista saves time on stir fries by using high protein or extra firm tofu.
·        Emma at My Darling Lemon Thyme uses knives and mandolins to cut fresh herbs.
·        Melissa and the hubs at My Whole Food Life are addicted to his stir fry recipe.

Steamed Vegetables w/Garlic Sauce (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Rhea Parsons/One Green Planet)
Summer Veggie Miso Bake (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Beard & Bonnet)
Mushroom, Pepper & Basil Stir Fry (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (The Simple Veganista)
Peanut Noodle Stir Fry (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (My Whole Food Life)
Spicy Rice Noodle Salad w/Pickled Vegetables (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (My Darling Lemon Thyme)

Cruise by our Recipe Index for more yummy Meatless Monday vegan vegetarian recipes. Tomorrow’s Gluten Free Tuesday post features gluten free vegan Asian recipe components, like Fish Sauce and Five Spice. Stay tuned to Café Belinda for more meatless Asian recipes all this week. Bon appetit!


Sugar Free Vegan Chocolate Candy Bar Recipes

Image credit JD Hancock
How about some sugar free vegan candy bar recipes for weekend fun? You can do it as a girls’ night, kid chef opportunity, a romantic project for two or just to treat your sweet little deserving self. Whatever your motivation, you’ll save money and enjoy a healthier product, free from refined sugar, preservatives and animal products. And there’s chocolate involved, so what’s not to love?

Raw Peppermint Patties (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Fork and Beans)
Dark Chocolate Candy Bars (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Sugar Free Mom)
Vegan Snickers Bars (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Minimalist Baker)
Peanut Butter Cups w/Chocolate (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (One Green Planet)
Raw Vegan Butterfinger Candy Bars (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (The Vegan 8)
Homemade Crispy Twix Bars (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Oh She Glows)

Craving more sugar free vegan chocolate recipes? Roll on over to my Recipe Index for extra bliss from the clean eating blogiverse.


Gluten Free Flour Recipes

Image credit Oxfordian
Let’s get started now, before school and holiday baking season, on mixing up some gluten free flour recipes. Gluten free baking is not limited to corn meal and expensive commercial gluten free flour mixes. You can easily make these DIY gluten free flour mixes at home, experiment a bit and run with what works for you.

Gluten Free Facts
  • ·        Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley or any of their crossbred varieties and derivatives. – The Gluten Free Agency
  • ·        Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  Celiac.org

·        An estimated 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease. – Celiac Central
·        97% of Americans estimated to have Celiac Disease are not diagnosed. – Statistic Brain
·        Certain food substances (most notably gluten and casein) are known to be problematic for the child with autism and should be avoided. – Generation Rescue
·        1 in 68 children were identified with autism spectrum disorder. – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
·        29% of Americans say they are trying to avoid gluten for health reasons. – New Hope 360
·        25 million Americans MUST have gluten free items per the prescription of their doctor.GG’s Original

Based on the above statistics, you are highly likely to come across gluten-sensitive and gluten-concerned people when serving your homemade recipes. Be it birthday cakes, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, waffles, muffins, challah, dinner rolls, garlic bread, pizza, pasta dinners, empanadas, pistolettes or pot pies, it makes sense to bake gluten free, so everyone can savor the love from your kitchen.

The primary issues seem to be: cup for cup versus weight by volume and percentages; the various flavors and behaviors of different flour types and getting as close as possible to commonly preferred appearances and textures of specific baked goods. The key seems to be, as with anything, to try the different recipes to find your best fit, stage your trials well in advance of major events, and once you find the winners, keep plenty of them on hand in proper storage conditions.

Gluten Free Blogger Tips:

NOTE: Not all gluten free flour recipes are dairy free. Most bloggers offer alternatives. Please read carefully and have substitutions ready.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Gluten Free Girl)
All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Recipes (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Gluten Free on a Shoestring)
Gluten Free Flours: All Purpose, Self Rising & Cake (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Thank Heavens)
Erika’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix Recipe (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (A Little Insanity)
Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend (GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Thyme of Taste)
Homemade Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Penniless Parenting)

Pop by my Recipe Index for more yummy gluten free baking recipes.


Meatless Monday: Vegan Lutein Recipes for Healthy Eyes

Image credit mamchenkov
August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month and Children’s Vision and Learning Month. Two out of every three kids will go back to school without a proper eye exam, say the Centers for Disease Control. “Many learning difficulties can be attributed to vision problems that are not detected during typical school vision screenings,” warns the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

In addition to prioritizing professional eye checkups, you’ll also want to make sure the kids in your life are getting lutein from the best source - food. Dr. Mary Rose Teodoro-Chang, a pediatric ophthalmologist, recommends lutein as a defense against damage from ultraviolet rays, blue light and free radicals. When you think about it, how many kids wear sunglasses during:
·        recess
·        physical education
·        fire drills
·        outdoor pool time
·        ballgames, and
·        yard time at home?
That’s a lot of sunlight exposure for young eyes, and sunglasses aren’t always practical. Vegan lutein recipes are an easy way to help protect your children’s vision both for school and for life.

Eye Vitamins
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), research has shown that lutein (LOO-teen) and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-ZAN-thin), vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial nutrients in preventive eye health.

Most Prenatal Vitamins Lack Lutein
In an interview on SuperKidsNutrition, Bridget Swinney, MS, RD suggests that both parents take children’s nutritional needs into account prior to conception, as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Swinney states, “Lutein is rarely found in prenatal vitamins, therefore, a lutein-rich diet is important while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Lutein-Rich Foods
Eating for your eyes goes beyond carrots and leafy greens. A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that corn was the best vegetable source for lutein, while orange pepper had the highest quantity of zeaxanthin. Kiwi, grapes, orange juice, spinach, zucchini and other varieties of squash also showed significant amounts of the two compounds. Ultimately, the team recommends a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to make sure your family gets enough lutein.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Healthy Eyes
For my part, I looove carrots! My grandmother and mom taught me the old school line about eating carrots for healthy eyes. I literally had a 2-pound bag-a-day raw carrot noshing habit one summer, even dreamt I went out to check my rural mailbox and found it full of carrots. The next morning I looked in the mirror while washing up and my eyes looked fantastic, my nose wasn’t twitching, I hadn’t sprouted a cotton tail, but my undereye skin was YELLOW! Concealer and foundation were no help. Nor was my partner at the time - also a health nut - who found my predicament absolutely hilarious and got a belly-laughing, knee-slapping charge out of it the whole day long. Not to worry. Fewer carrots, plenty of water, a little walking, and some green juice shots did the trick in about 24 hours. Miraculously, my partner lived to see my clear skin the next day.

Lutein Fun Song
I’ve taken the liberty of slightly rewriting the immortal words of Hank Williams, Sr. to make things a bit more fun for the kids helping in the kitchen. Use those colorful fruits and veggies and kitchen utensils as microphones and instruments, then make up your own little dance to go with it.

“Heyyy, good lookin’!
Whaaatcha got cookin’?
Howsabout cookin’ lutein up with meee?”

So now, I present to you for your cooking and dining pleasure, vegan lutein recipes, in order of lutein and zeaxanthin content (almost), as stated by the study above: corn; orange pepper and squash; kiwi; grapes; orange juice; zucchini and spinach.

Raw Vegan Zesty Lime Corn Salad (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (The Blender Girl)
Spaghetti Squash with Chunky Veggie Sauce (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Jordan’s Onion)
Raw Blueberry and Kiwi Tart (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Blissful Basil)
Roasted Butternut Squash with Grapes (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Stacey Snacks)
Blood Orange Juice (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Reboot with Joe)
Zucchini Rolls with Sunflower Seeds Pate’, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach (DF, GF, SF, K, V, VG) (Chris Anca/Raw Food Recipes)

Buzz on over to my vegan vegetarian cookbook and our Recipe Index for more kid-friendly vegan recipes.


Meatless Monday: Vegan Chicken Recipes & FREE COOKBOOK

Image credit Andrea Parrish Geyer
Have I got some vegan chicken recipes for you, chers amies! Go vegan and one of the first things you’ll likely miss is chicken in all its variety of form. Nuggets, wings, breast, fried, popcorn, we’re addicted to chicken. Well, I’m happy to say you can indulge that love affair without the loss of another fine feathered hen from this earth. Whether you want something to go with your waffles or kid-friendly finger food that also works in more sophisticated settings, you’ve got options. Take your pick from the selection of six vegan chicken recipes below to style your next sans meat soiree.

NOTE: Five of the recipes below are not gluten free and one is not sugar free. Only the Raw Vegan Chicken Nuggets are free of gluten and added sugar. Read the codes carefully and have your substitutions handy.

Chicken Stylee (sic) Seitan (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Post Punk Kitchen)
(DF, GF, SF, K, RV, V, VG) (Side Saddle Kitchen)
Spicy Vegan Buffalo Chicken Wings (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Beyond Meat)
Vegan Basil Chicken (DF, GF, K, V, VG) (PBS Food)
Vegan Chicken Parmesan (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (ABC News/GMA Recipes)
Vegan Fried Chicken (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Hell Yeah It’s Vegan)
Vegan Popcorn Chicken (DF, SF, K, V, VG) (Je Suis Alimentageuse)

Bookmark our Recipe Index for more vegan recipes. We even have a special section filled with Chocolate recipes.

My vegetarian cookbook with vegan options, Confessions of a Red Hot Veggie Lover 2, is FREE today only.