Macaroon Tart

So how do you make a recipe 8SAFE?

I thought I'd try something different with this post. Instead of just giving you a recipe, I'm gonna walk you through my process for converting an 'unsafe' recipe into an 8SAFE one. And since I told you all yesterday just how much I love Heidi's Swanson's cookbook, Super Natural Every DayI thought I'd use one of her recipes from the book. Sound good? Let's give it a try!


Original recipe: Macaroon Tart from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

If you have the cookbook, you can turn to page 192 to follow along. :)

Heidi's original recipe calls for whole wheat flour, butter, egg whites, and pistachios (which are all major allergens) and needed substitutions.

First, I replaced the wheat flour with oat flour. I like the flavor of oat flour, especially in baked goods, so that's what I used. But you could also use rice flour with good results, but a slightly different flavor. 

You can make your own gluten free oat flour (or rice flour) very easily using a coffee grinder. I have one I that I use exclusively for making flours, and the initial $20 investment has more than paid for itself. Rather than spend the money on a whole bag of flour — I can simply make my own in the exact amount I need — which not only makes for fresher flour but it frees up cabinet space too (plus allows me to get creative with different dried grains and beans!).

Instead of butter, I used equal amounts of coconut oil. I used coconut oil to line the pan and as the fat in the recipe. I thought that only 8 tablespoons of melted coconut oil might be enough, but I actually ended up using all ten. But I would add about 8 tablespoons at first, and then add the rest in small amounts until you get the right consistency. 

Then I used aquafaba instead of egg whites. This was my first time trying aquafaba in a recipe and I was pleasantly surprised! Aquafaba is the liquid that beans have been cooked in — whether you cook them yourself or drain it from canned beans. The thick liquid has a lot of the same cooking qualities of egg whites and can be used as a substitute with great success. Honestly, I had my doubts (it looks pretty gross and what about about the bean smell?) but I really was impressed by both the texture and flavor that resulted from using it!

It seems like chickpea aquafaba is a favorite for recipes, but I used the liquid from a can of organic navy beans (with great results). So I'm guessing that the aquafaba from all light beans (garbanzo, navy, butter, etc) work well as egg white substitutes. If you have any great tips or tricks for cooking with aquafaba let me know in the comments —because I'll definitely play around with it some more!

Lastly, I omitted the pistachios. Considering I've never made or tasted this recipe before — what difference would it make if there were nuts on it or not? I would have nothing to compare it to. So it was easy enough to just forget about the pistachios altogether.

However, I did really like the pale green color that the pistachios provided. Lucky for me I remembered that I use fresh thyme in my blueberry pie filling — so I thought I'd add a little to this tart to see what would happen. I love how the fresh thyme compliments the berries and the overall sweetness of the tart.

Otherwise, I followed the original recipe almost word-for-word. The recipe did call for a significant amount of sugar (which I reduced slightly) and almost 1/2 tsp of salt (which seemed like too much for my taste). I chose to experiment with frozen cherries (because they're readily available) but I'm curious to try other berries in this recipe too — I'm thinking fresh strawberries may be incredible!

So that's it! I hope this post has given you some insight into cooking 8SAFE — and how easy it can be with a little creativity and practice. Enjoy!

 
 
 

Macaroon Tart

This recipe can be made 8SAFE by using ingredients that are free of gluten and the top eight food allergens (wheat, milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, & shellfish). This recipe has been slightly modified from the original version which appears in Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour (or rice flour)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sifted and lightly packed natural cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 10 tbsp coconut oil, melted

For the filling:

  • 2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup sifted and lightly packed natural cane sugar
  • 8 tbsp aquafaba* (see note above)
  • 1 pkg (10 oz) frozen cherries, thawed and drained
  • a sprig of fresh thyme (optional), separated into individual leaves

 

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease an 8 x 11 inch tart pan (or equivalent) with coconut oil and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

To make the crust, combine the flour, coconut, sugar, and salt (dry ingredients) together in a large bowl. Then stir in the melted coconut oil "and mix until the dough is crumbly but no longer dusty looking".  Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared tart pan, pressing firmly to create a solid, flat layer. Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes, or until it you notice it beginning to brown. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining the aquafaba, sugar and coconut until well combined. Set aside.

Distribute the cherries evenly on top of the crust and sprinkle with the fresh thyme (if using). Then use your fingers and take small clumps of the filling and tuck it all around the fruit and over the top too (but be sure to leave some cherries peeking out so it looks pretty).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the 'macaroon' peaks are a nice golden color. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving (and sprinkle with a few more thyme leaves on top if using).

Enjoy!

Celeriac & Mushroom Soup

Beluga lentils and mushrooms?? I'm all in!

I came across this recipe in the February/March 2017 issue of Organic Life magazine. I'm a huge fan of Beluga lentils — they hold their shape and don't fall apart like some lentils. And they have this incredibly clean, earthy taste (that's really hard for me to describe right now for some reason! Lol!). Anyway, if you've never had Beluga lentils before, here's a great opportunity to try them. 

I modified the recipe only slightly to make it 8SAFE. The original recipe called for a tablespoon of butter (which is made from milk) so I needed to leave that out, but it was such a small amount that it was super easy to just substitute with olive oil. And since I've never tried this soup before I had no idea what it was 'supposed' to taste like — so I entered into it with an open mind and zero expectations. And I'm glad I did because this soup is really good!

Celeriac root 

Celeriac roots look like the big knobs pictured above. They're about the size of a baseball and a little denser than a potato. If you can't find them at your local grocery store, you could try a farm market or produce specialty market. And I bet in a pinch you could even substitute the celeriac root for thin-skinned potatoes and it would taste great.

The recipe calls for you to reconstitute the dried mushrooms in boiling water for a bit before chopping them up and adding them to the soup (the leftover mushroom broth is added to the soup as well). You wanna make sure the mushrooms are totally submerged in the water — and placing a bowl or cup on top of them will do the trick. Just be careful that the water doesn't overflow and burn you when you do it!

The first time I made the soup I fried Hen of the Woods mushrooms for the garnish and they were awesome. The second time around, my only option was baby Shitake mushrooms and they were really good too. But I've gotta say the Hen of the Woods mushrooms made for easier frying and a better presentation (if that matters at all to you).

Overall this soup was easy to make, full of flavor, and really hearty — definitely one to keep in the rotation of 8SAFE options!

Enjoy!

 

 
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Celeriac & Mushroom Soup

This recipe has been slightly modified from the original version by Susan Spungen, which appeared in the February/March 2017 issue of Organic Life magazine. This recipe is easily made using whole food ingredients that are inherently 8SAFE — with the exception of chicken stock (I used Pacific Brand chicken stock which is 8SAFE).

  • 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 small celeriac roots, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup beluga lentils
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz. fresh wild mushrooms (like hen of the woods, cut into 1" pieces) or baby Shitake mushrooms
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped parsley, celery leaves, or thyme for garnish (optional)

Place dried mushrooms in a heatproof liquid measuring cup and pour boiling water over the mushrooms up to the 2 cup mark. Place a small bowl or cup on top of the mushrooms so that they're fully submerged in the water, and let sit for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Remove mushrooms and chop, reserving the liquid to add to the soup.

In a wide saucepan heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, diced celery, and a big pinch of salt and cook until soft (about 10-12 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add celeriac root, chopped porcini mushrooms, lentils, thyme sprigs, stock, and 2 cups water. Pour in the mushroom liquid (being careful not to add any dirt or grit that accumulated in the bottom of the cup). 

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until lentils and celeriac root are tender (about 30 minutes). Remove thyme stems, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the fresh mushrooms until browned and crisp (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with the browned mushrooms and chopped parsley, celery leaves, and/or fresh thyme. Enjoy!

Cast Iron Chicken & Gravy

If perfectly cooked, moist chicken is what you're after — this recipe is for you!

I think I've made at least a dozen variations of this recipe since I read the April 2016 issue of Rachael Ray Magazine. The cover story included three recipes for cooking one-pot chicken dinners in a cast iron skillet (one of which could be made 8SAFE!). It was so easy and the chicken turned out amazing. Seriously — it's turned out great every single time. Perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful PLUS it's ridiculously easy to do!

Recipe Notes:

Feel free to swap out some of the veggies if you'd like: tomatoes, cauliflower, small heads of bok choy, brussel sprouts, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, cabbage, broccoli — anything veggie you can roast can be used. So have fun and make it your own!

I cram as many vegetables around the chicken as I can, but sometimes I end up with a little extra. You can spread them out on a sheet pan and roast them alongside the chicken, or just store in the fridge for another night.

If you use organic and humanely raised chicken, you don't need to worry so much about the fat (we need good fats for proper brain & body functions!). So if you make the gravy, feel free to skim off some fat if you'd like but it's okay to leave some in too. Plus — you totally get the thumbs up to nosh on a piece of that perfectly crispy skin without the guilt!

Enjoy!

 
 
 

Cast Iron Chicken & Vegetables

This recipe has been adapted from the Herbed Chicken with Cauliflower & Tomatoes recipe that was featured in the April 2016 edition of Rachael Ray Magazine
The 8SAFE processed products that I used in this recipe were: Kirkland Organic extra Virgin Olive Oil; Arrowhead Mills Organic Brown Rice Flour; Sutter Home Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (both available in tiny bottles); and Pacific brand organic free range Chicken Broth.
Time : approx. 1 1/2 hours
  • One 4-5 lb organic, humanely raised chicken
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 3-4 white or red-skinned potatoes
  • 8-10 mushrooms (optional)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves 
  • 5-10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8-12 fresh sage leaves
  • kosher salt & crushed black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425º.
  2. Rinse the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and place in a large cast iron skillet. Stuff the cavity of the bird with half of the thyme and sage, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 lemon (if using). Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Rub the outside of the bird with 1 Tbsp olive oil, then season liberally with about  1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes on the middle rack.
  3. While the chicken is roasting, cut all the vegetables into 1 inch pieces. In a large bowl, toss the cut vegetables, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, and remaining thyme and sage with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt & big pinch of pepper.
  4. After the chicken has roasted for 25 minutes, add the vegetables to the pan and roast for another 50-60 minutes, stirring the vegetables once halfway through.
  5. Let the bird rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes, while you remove the vegetables from the pan and make the gravy (optional).

To make gravy:

  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dry white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 - 2 cups chicken stock (depending on how thick you like your gravy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pour the juices from the pan into a gravy separator or other container (if you used an organic chicken you don't have to worry about separating the fat). 
  2. Mix the rice flour and olive oil together into a paste. Set aside.
  3. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Add a splash or two of white wine or chicken stock and scrap the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the flour & oil paste to the pan and let cook, whisking constantly, for a minute or two (to cook the flour so the gravy doesn't taste raw).
  5. Gently add the pan drippings and whisk until smooth (some small pieces of chicken, roasted veggies, or herbs are totally okay and add flavor!).
  6. Whisk in the chicken stock (a little at a time) until the gravy is the consistency you like. Add a big pinch of salt and some pepper, then taste. If it's falling flat, add more salt (a little at a time) until the flavor pops OR you can let the gravy cook on medium-low heat for a few minutes to cook off any extra liquid and concentrate the flavor.
  7. Serve over the chicken and vegetables. 

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

It's August here on the Jersey Shore and that means tomatoes!

Lots of 'em! We've been knee deep in tomatoes around here. I planted one cherry tomato in the garden that has become a total beast — I swear the plant is six feet wide and covered in tiny red fruits. And then the CSA we belong to has been giving us bags full of Beefsteaks, Heirlooms, cherry tomatoes and more. We're being overrun by tomatoes over here!!! It's like Attack of the killer tomatoes! (hey —was that filmed in Jersey?)

Anyhow, times like these call for making a big pot of sauce. And while I know you don't wanna spend the dog days of summer with a pot on the stove — trust me, it's well worth it. 

Now the measurements in this recipe are just approximate so you have some wiggle room. Which means the sauce will taste a little different from person to person and batch to batch. You can follow the basic recipe but make it your own according to your tastes — that's the beauty of it. 

Recipe notes:

I usually use yellow onions when I make this recipe, but I had some leeks in the fridge so I used one in place of half the onion. Remember to salt the onions and peppers so the sauce will taste well seasoned. 

My son doesn't like things too spicy so I go easy on the garlic and only add three pressed cloves in the beginning of cooking. But if you like a garlicky kick you can add up to 3 more cloves during the last half hour of cook time.

Fresh chopped basil is kind of a must, but I think you could get away with using a little less if you're not a fan. I love fresh thyme so I add a few sprigs, but it's totally optional. You could also add some fresh oregano if the mood should strike you.

I chop the tomatoes in my blender to make it easy. I'll cut them into smaller chunks, add them to the blender, and use the crushed ice option until I have a choppy, pink liquid. Then into the pot they go. You could also use a food processor or dice them by hand with a serrated knife. It's all good.

The sauce will seem a little watery at first, but as it cooks down it'll thicken. You may want to cover it partially for a while to keep it from becoming too thick too fast. You can also add another can of water to thin it out if it becomes too thick.

When the sauce is done cooking, add some more salt (if necessary) in small increments until it's flavored how you like.

If you have leftover sauce you can label and freeze it for future use. Trust me, it's pretty sweet to bust out some homemade tomato sauce from the garden in the middle of winter. 

And finally, if you have any other tips or suggestions please share in the comments below! 

Enjoy!


 
 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

I've adapted this from a treasured recipe given to me years ago by my dear friend Gloria Dimech — who, I gotta say, is one kickass Italian grandma. So rest assured, this is authentic 'gravy' and not some mucked up version I might concoct on the fly. The recipe is easy enough to make 8SAFE by using 100% pure olive oil and tomato paste made from only tomatoes and maybe a little citric acid (I use Muir Glen Organic Tomato Paste).
  • 3 Tbsp to 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 small onions, chopped (or leeks)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or use a garlic press
  • add 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste + 1 can water
  • about 8 pounds of fresh tomatoes, chopped (I used 17-18 medium/large sized tomatoes for this recipe)
  • 10 leaves chopped fresh basil + 5-10 leaves more, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of thyme + 2 or 3 more sprigs 
  • salt

 

  1. Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat (use enough to coat the bottom of the pan).
  2. Add the onions, peppers, and 3 or 4 big pinches of salt. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  4. Next add the tomato paste plus one can's worth of water into the pot and stir until combined. 
  5. Then add your chopped tomatoes, basil, and thyme.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat, and let simmer on low for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. After a few hours have passed and it's looking like a good consistency, add 5 to 10 more fresh chopped basil leaves and 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. (You could also add up to three more cloves of garlic through the press at this point too). 
  7. After 30 minutes turn off the heat and add more salt if necessary. If you'd prefer a smooth consistency, use a hand blender to mix it into a nice gravy. 
  8. Serve over rice noodles, sweet Italian style chicken sausage, turkey meatballs, or anything else you can think of!

Quick Green Veggie Salad

This is a quick salad to mix up and is quite tasty! It is very filling and makes about 2 servings. I add extra black beans or different kinds of peppers or tomatoes when I make it. Often it's a great dressing to use on any mix of vegetables. 

Sweet Roasted Squash

Some days leave me feeling more like a short order cook than a beloved member of the family and I'm guessing I'm not alone. So for this post, I thought you might appreciate not only a 'master' recipe that's free of the eight major food allergens, but also tips for how to adapt it for the rest of the family too. Sound good? 

Apple Crisp

I love the fall, don't you?

The cooler weather energizes me. I want to move more, cook more, create and explore. But I also want to take time to rest and snuggle deep in the covers. Take a pause to enjoy a hot cup of tea...

Yes Cookies

These are the most positive cookies I know.

Whatever you want to call them, these addictive little balls of joy are perfect for back to school. They're easy to pack for lunch, and a great option for school functions. 

Lemon Yogurt Dressing

Do you miss creamy dressings on your salad?

I do. So many of them are made with milk, egg, or soy that I can't tell you the last time I even bothered looking for a safe bottled dressing. Luckily, it's super easy to make at home. If you never have, I strongly encourage you to try. Salad dressings don't need to be fussy or complicated to be good and they can easily outshine that stuff that comes in a bottle. 

Chipotle Guacamole Burger from The Fiesty Kitchen

Ok, so how many of you have been in this scenario...

While dining out on vacation a few weeks ago, I was very limited in safe menu options. It's just par for the course with my handful of restrictions, so I made the best of it. I was really hungry and optimistically ordered a bacon burger, no cheese, no bun. I smiled as I pictured something like the photo above arriving at my table.

Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake with Salted Chocolate Ganache

It's National Chocolate Day! Woo-hoo!

So today I'm sharing this chocolate cake recipe from The Good Cake Co., run by three friends in Sydney, Australia. They focus on making the best allergy free cake recipes possible and after trying this recipe I think they're right on track.  

Chickpeas & Dandelion Greens

"She wants me to eat a weed?"

I can see you crinkling up your nose as you read the title of this recipe. But hear me out. Horticulturally speaking, a weed is nothing more than a plant growing in the 'wrong' place and the term can apply to any member of the botanical world...

Breakfast Hash

Veggies for breakfast? Have you gone mad?

 Nah, I just needed a little break from all the grains that I've been eating. So I gathered what I had in the house and whipped together this savory breakfast with what I had on hand. And man was I happy with the result! This nutrient dense hash has very quickly become my new breakfast obsession. 

Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes aren't fancy, but damn are they good.

And these two didn't stand a chance. As soon as I set my camera down, the little man and I devoured these bad boys like sharks on a feeding frenzy. Frosting dripping from our mouths and smeared on our hands, we giggled triumphantly at the aftermath of our glutony. And then went back for more. 

Dark Chocolate Groatmeal

I'll give this cereal a 10!

This combination of buckwheat groats and oatmeal makes for a good solid breakfast. It's good with coconut milk poured over it, but water and a pinch of sugar is quite tasty too. Which is why this cereal would be perfect for overnight stays in those hotels with zero breakfast options. 

Meat-lovers Lasagna

Last week I was craving lasagna like nobody's business.

Seriously, I hadn't had lasagna in over three years so I was long overdue. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pull off making it 8SAFE, but why not give it a shot?

Vegan Lasagna

Last week I was craving lasagna like nobody's business.

Seriously, I hadn't had lasagna in over three years so I was long overdue. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pull off making it 8SAFE, but why not give it a shot?

Brussel Sprouts with Chorizo and Cranberries

I like to serve my friends a plate full of 'BS' now and then...

Brussel sprouts, that is! While the other 'BS' can certainly be entertaining, I will assure you that I won't 'BS' you in this 'BS' recipe! Ha! But I do want to apologize for sharing this recipe at the end of brussel sprouts' growing season. I just discovered this amazing combination a few weeks ago and it's just too good not to share! 

Weekday Tacos

A Mexican buffet? At a yoga center?

Now there's a chef with a sense of humor.

Back in January, I spent a few days at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the lunch spread on Tuesday was an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet. I had turkey tacos, seasoned black beans, corn & kale...

Broccoli with Ume Plum Vinegar and Sesame Seeds

She's Choppin' BROCCOLI!!!

Do you remember that Saturday Night Live skit with Dana Carvey? The one where he plays Derek Stevens, a musician trying to make a comeback?