Meal Plan

Decadent Brownie Tart

Brownie tart batter Brownie tart batter..the precursor to the best brownies ever

That’s not tofu, my friends.  And the cleanse is over.

That’s the real deal: chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar.  These are simply the best brownies ever, and I just had to share for Valentines Day.

The most wonderful thing about these brownies is how delicious they are.  They are rich and fudgy and almost a hybrid between brownies and molten chocolate cake – in fact if you under-baked them they could be quite molten in the middle, if you wish.

The second most wonderful thing is how little flour they call for.  That’s just good brownie protocol to begin with.  But it also makes them very easy to substitute with gluten-free ingredients if you wish.  I have used rice flour, gluten-free baking mixes, oat flour, or combinations of all of those.  They all work fine.

I’m going to give the real artist the credit here: this is Ina Garten’s recipe for Brownie Tart.  I did make a few changes: I didn’t bother with the chocolate drizzle on top, although that would look lovely, and I omitted the walnuts for a very pure chocolate brownie.  I also reduced the sugar by about 20%, just to make them a little more of a dark chocolate experience.  But I’ve made the recipe at least 10 times, tinkering just slightly like so, and it’s always amazing.

I made them in the tart pan this time, but I’ve also made them in an 8 x 8 square pan, which leads to a thicker more brownie-like size.  I did the tart pan this time because I plan on [...]

By |February 14th, 2014|General, Gluten Free|
  • Whole Grain Waffles
    Permalink Whole grain waffles (gluten fre) with fresh strawberry sauce and toasted pecansGallery

    Whole Grain Waffles with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Toasted Pecans

Whole Grain Waffles with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Toasted Pecans

Whole Grain Waffles Whole grain waffles (gluten free) with fresh strawberry sauce and toasted pecans

Yesterday I absolutely delighted my daughter when she asked me what was for dinner.  I wish that was a daily occurrence, but it isn’t always – she is 3, after all.  When I responded with “waffles”, her immediate response was “that’s crazy” (she meant in a good way!) and all through dinner she had a big smile at the treat that was breakfast for dinner.

I figured if I was going to make waffles for dinner I should make them good.  So I took a little more time and made some tasty toppings to pair them with: toasted pecans and a fresh homemade strawberry sauce.  The end result was a family-pleasing dinner treat.  And the waffles were still nutritious, as I primarily used rolled oats, ground into flour in the food processor, along with some buckwheat flour and sorghum flour (you could certainly use whole wheat or all-purpose flour).

So here is how to delight your family with dinner!

Whole Grain Waffles with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Toasted Pecans

1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups any whole grain flour or all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 buckwheat and 1/2 sorghum, but you can use whatever you like)
2 cups whole milk (sub dairy-free milk if you like)
4 eggs
2-3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 package frozen strawberries, with no added sugar
1 1/4 cups raw pecans
5 tablespoons butter
real maple syrup
sea salt or kosher salt
high-heat oil for your waffle maker, if necessary


  1. Heat a [...]
By |February 13th, 2014|Gluten Free, Soy Free|

Oregon Blueberry Brunch Cake

A nice slice of Oregon blueberry brunch cake A nice slice of blueberry brunch cake

I’m ringing in the new year with something old – my mom’s Oregon Blueberry Brunch Cake.  My mom would make this for us frequently when my sisters and I were growing up living in Oregon.  We’d pick mountains of blueberries in the summer and freeze them to use throughout the coming year.  This was hands-down my morning favorite.

Of course I adapted it a little – just a smidge.  I used oat flour – my favorite gluten-free flour, and just a tiny bit of all-purpose gluten free flour mix to help with stability.  I used maple syrup in the cake instead of sugar, and real butter instead of oil.  And I used my favorite wild blueberries, which are now widely available in grocery stores.

The result was simply fantastic.  And you would NEVER – I swear to you – NEVER know this is gluten free.  You would also not guess that it’s almost entirely a whole grain cake.  That’s the fantastic thing about oat flour – it doesn’t have any of that cardboard-like flavor of whole wheat.  It’s sweet, and bakes up to be soft like white flour – not grainy.  But, as you can (kind of) see from the picture, it will have a golden color, and in this cake has an almost graham-y flavor.

I implore you to make this brunch cake.  You will be happy that you did.

Blueberry Brunch Cake Oregon Blueberry Brunch Cake

Oregon Blueberry Brunch Cake

1 cup oat [...]

By |December 31st, 2013|Gluten Free, Recipes, Soy Free|
  • Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Tahini Lemon Dressing
    Permalink Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Tahini Lemon DressingGallery

    Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Lemon Tahini Dressing

Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Lemon Tahini Dressing

Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Tahini Lemon Dressing Roasted Squash Salad with Two Beans and Tahini Lemon Dressing

Beautiful, delicious and simple.  There really isn’t anything not to love about this dish.  But my favorite thing about, besides the taste, it is how efficient the preparation is.

When I’m in a rush, and I usually am, I try to think of recipes that consolidate prep steps.  In this “salad” (I only call it a salad because it is tossed with a dressing – there’s no lettuce in it), you can roast the squash, garbanzo beans, and green beans all at the same time.

Then, while they’re getting tasty in the oven, you have plenty of time to whip up the super quick and simple dressing.  You’ll even have time to clean up the kitchen, play with the kiddos, throw in some laundry, or do whatever you need to do.

When the roasting is done, plop everything in a large bowl and toss with the dressing.  Dinner is served.

Honestly, most of the work is in peeling and chopping the squash.  For that you’ll want a good knife – this is my favorite – and peeler.  And if you’re not sure how to do it watch this video first.  Or, if you’re not into all that, some handy already-prepared squash from your grocery store.  It’s worth it, cause then you get to eat this:

Roasted butternut squash Roasted butternut squash on parchment paper

Roasted butternut squash

The recipe has the option to serve over brown [...]

  • Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut
    Permalink Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and SauerkrautGallery

    Buckwheat Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

Buckwheat Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Lemon Sour Cream and Sauerkraut

A special sneak-peak from next week’s meal plan menu!

I loved smoked salmon well before I knew much about the nutritional benefits of this awesome fish.  It’s smoky, salty, buttery, and wonderfully satisfying.  And, it doesn’t require any preparation on my part!  I just buy the good wild stuff from the grocery store (which, btw, is so much better than farm-raised, I can’t even emphasize it enough).

For a lightning-fast meal you can put smoked salmon on whole grain tortillas or pita pockets, but if you have just a few minutes to whip up a homemade batter, it’s especially delicious on these warm buckwheat pancakes.  The nuttiness of the buckwheat pairs beautifully with the smoky salmon and sweet, refreshing lemon sour cream.  I also love the addition of tangy sauerkraut, which boosts the nutritional value of the meal, but if you’re not a fan you can always leaves this out, or eat it on the side.

As with most pancakes, the real time investment is in the actual cooking – pouring, flipping, repeat, etc.  But here it all works out, because while you’re flipping your pancakes you can mix up the quick lemon sauce, throw together a salad, pour yourself some white wine, or do whatever else you need to do.

If you think smoked salmon on pancakes will make your kids (or husband, or roommate?) look at you like you have lobsters coming out of your ears, never fear: these pancakes are perfect with any number of alternative toppings.  Peanut/almond/sunflower [...]

Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing

Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing Salmon and Black Bean Burgers with Cumin and Lime Dressing

Getting a last-minute, super-nourishing and complete dinner out of pantry staples isn’t necessarily easy.

In my house the need for this kind of meal typically arises at the end of the week.  In a way it’s a good problem to have, because it means that my left-overs from earlier in the week have been eaten.  That always makes me happy.

On the other hand, by the end of the week I’m pretty sick of cooking.  I just want something easy, low effort, low mess.  But still substantial and nourishing.  After all, I’m trying to grow a couple of healthy kids here.  They need high-quality protein, omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, and an array of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients.  So I’ll suck it up and cook, but I want it to be under a 30 min effort.

Enter the canned goods: black beans and salmon – both excellent pantry staples.  While I usually make my beans from dried, I keep a few containers of canned or tetra-packed beans for last-minute recipes like this.

For the salmon, I like Alaskan sockeye salmon, which is wild and contains the highest levels of those beneficial omega-3 fats.  If you can handle it with the bones, it’s actually better for you – the bones add great calcium and they’re soft enough to easily mash up.

Now I’ve made black beans burgers, and I’ve made salmon burgers.  This time I thought, why not mix it up a little and make them together, along with some mutually beneficial seasonings like cumin, [...]

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar Buttercup and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

This is the prettiest lasagna I’ve ever made. Vibrant orange from the squash alternating with deeply green sauteed spinach. All layered with salty pecorino romano and savory cheddar cheeses.

It’s a dish that’s equal parts lovely, nourishing and comforting.

Unlike traditional lasagnas, this dish isn’t drowning in cheese or heavy sauces. Instead it uses sweet and creamy puree of buttercup squash with just enough cheese to provide a savory compliment. Garlic-infused greens round out the flavors and provide a wealth of nutrients.  It’s just as comforting as traditional lasagna, but deceptively light.

To provide a meaty bite you can opt for a little chicken sausage, like I did, or for a vegetarian version some sauteed mushrooms. You can’t go wrong either way.

I used gluten-free lasagna noodles, which I under-cooked by about 3 minutes, resulting in perfect texture once the casserole was baked.

Please try it, you’ll be glad you did.

Buttercup Squash and Spinach Lasagna with Cheddar

From Eat Happy Meal Plan
Total Prep Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6-8

12 large lasagna noodles, preferably whole grain
1 large winter squash (buttercup, butternut, etc), peel and seeds removed,
then cut roughly into 1-inch cubes – this will be about 5 cups of cut squash
1 lb package frozen chopped spinach, or 16 ounces fresh
1 onion, minced
3 teaspoons minced garlic from about 3 cloves
6 ounces high-quality cheddar cheese, hormone-free, shredded
2 ounces grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, about ½ cup
16 ounces sliced mushrooms OR 12 ounces of [...]

Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale and Cherry Tomatoes

Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Baked Eggs Polenta Pizza with Mushrooms, Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Baked Eggs

Me and pizza go way back.  My first job was at a pizza parlor, many of my favorite restaurants have been pizza places, and I’ve traveled fairly extensively in pursuit of amazing pizza.  And now I eat gluten free.  Sometimes there is a small hole in my heart where pizza should be.

I have experimented with gluten free pizza crusts, both my own and store-bought.  Nothing has really filled the void.  I’m still working on it.

Polenta pizza is its own thing.  It’s not trying to be regular chewy-crust pizza.  It’s just plain delicious in its own right, and yet it satisfies that craving for something pizza-like: savory, comforting, cheesy, and with the right ratio of crust to toppings.  And frankly polenta pizza crust is way easier than making your own regular or gluten-free pizza crust, so it’s really a win-win.

Feel free to experiment with whatever toppings you like.  Polenta pairs beautifully with a traditional tomato sauce.

Polenta Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Kale and Mushrooms

Total Prep Time: 50 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Serves:  4

1 cup coarse corn meal (aka polenta)
½ cup whole milk, optional (can sub water)
16 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms (baby bella, shiitake, oyster, etc)
5 large kale leaves, thick stems removed and minced
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (or sub any mild white cheese or vegan cheese)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 eggs, optional
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), sea salt, freshly [...]

Curried Quinoa Salad with Raisins and Chickpeas

Curried Quinoa Salad with Raisins and Chickpeas Curried Quinoa Salad with Raisins and Chickpeas

Curried Quinoa Salad with Raisins and Chickpeas

Cooler temperatures call for more warming foods.  But I don’t always want the heaviness of meat and potatoes (sometimes yes, but not always!).  This curried quinoa salad provides the warmth and savoriness of curry paired with the sweetness of plump raisins and meatiness of golden chickpeas.

I came up with this recipe when I didn’t particularly feel like cooking dinner.  But I still had to feed the family, so I wanted something quick and easy – ideally a one-dish meal.  This came together in under 30 minutes and was pulled primarily from pantry staples like dried quinoa, canned chickpeas, and raisins.  Although fresh spinach will be tastiest you can also use frozen in a pinch – simply saute it in with the onions and chickpeas to thaw it.  Like many grain salads this will keep well for days and is a great leftover for lunches.

Curried Quinoa with Raisins and Chickpeas
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Serves:  4

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 ¾ cups water or chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 cup raisins
1 small onion minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic from about 2 cloves
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 large carrot cut into small dice
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas from ½ cup dried or 1 can
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Bring the water or stock to a boil, add [...]

Wild Coho Salmon with Mushrooms and Shallots


Wild Coho Salmon with Sauteed Mushrooms and Shallots

It’s the tail end of salmon season.

 On the other end is the vibrant, deep orange-red, velvety, wild Coho salmon.  Coho salmon is only one of the multiple varieties that lives wild in the pacific northwest, but it is one of my favorites.  Here he is in all his glory:

All you need to accomplish fancy-restaurant-quality salmon is a good-quality fish and to not overcook the bejeesus out of it.  The good-quality fish is really key.  And getting fresh fish that hasn’t been frozen is really a nice treat – the texture is buttery and smooth.  At my grocery store some beautiful Coho salmon is available through the first week of October.

I decided to pair my lovely salmon filet with some oyster mushrooms from the farmer’s market, a little dried thyme, and some minced shallot.  Easy peasy.  I sauteed the mushrooms and shallot while the fish was roasting in the oven.

My rather large, 1 1/3 lb salmon filet was too big to fit into a 13×9 inch baking dish, so I cut that bad boy in half and he was snug as a bug.  He was done roasting in 15 minutes.  Just enough time to saute my fungi.

I served this with some roasted red new potatoes and some collard greens sauteed with a little tomato.  Get this recipe in the context of its complete meal-plan by signing up here.

Coho Salmon with Sautéed Mushrooms and Shallots
From Eat Happy Meal Plan
Total Prep Time: 25 minutes
Active Time: 25 minutes
Serves:  4

1 [...]