Gluten-free? What does that mean?

Gluten-free living. What is that?

First we need to understand gluten and it’s intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in the endosperm of grain. Gluten containing foods includes wheat, spelt, tricale, kamut, rye, barley, oats (although, not actually a gluten protein, but almost always cut on the same equipment cutting wheat so is taboo for people with gluten intolerance.) The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called gluten, but their proteins differ from wheat gluten by lacking gliadin.

Although wheat supplies much of the world’s dietary protein and food supply, as much as 0.5% to 1% of the population of the United States has Celiac disease, a condition which results from an adverse immune system response to gluten. The manifestations of Celiac disease range from no symptoms to malabsorption of nutrients with involvement of multiple organ systems. The only effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Gluten can affect your gut, your skin, and your brain.ย  Celiac disease, a genetic disorder, along with the myriad symptoms that can be experienced throughout your gastro-intestinal tract in response to gluten.ย  It also includes many other symptoms that do not stem from your gut.ย  These include brain and behavior disorders, irritability and tiredness, skin problems, muscular aches and pains and joint problems.

1 in 1331 Americans are effected by Celiac disease. Symptoms of celiac disease can range from the classic features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies but no gastrointestinal symptoms.

Because of the broad range of symptoms celiac disease presents, it can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can range from mild weakness, bone pain, and aphthous stomatitis to chronic diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and progressive weight loss. If a person with the disorder continues to eat gluten, studies have shown that he or she will increase their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by a factor of 40 to 100 times that of the normal population. Further, gastrointestinal carcinoma or lymphoma develops in up to 15 percent of patients with untreated or refractory Celiac disease. It is therefore imperative that the disease is quickly and properly diagnosed so it can be treated as soon as possible.

The only acceptable treatment for celiac disease is strict adherence to a 100% gluten-free diet for life. An adherence to a gluten-free diet can prevent almost all complications caused by the disease. This is a difficult task as there are many hidden sources of gluten found in the ingredients of many processed foods.

It is not uncommon for people with Celiac disease to have trouble digesting dairy as well as gluten. Often times when someone who has a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease their digestive system can react to other proteins as if there is an intolerance or allergy present. This is because after ingesting gluten a person with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance the gut is damaged and will no longer be able to properly break down other proteins that normally would not be a problem.

People with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance realize they can not live in a gluten-free bubble. It sometimes seems that everyone around them is happily enjoying breads, pastas and cakes made with wheat and other gluten containing items while they are omitted from the party.

There are lists of gluten containing ingredients here. If you are one of those who also avoids dairy there are many hidden places and names for cow’s milk protein. Here is a list of dairy containing ingredients.

There IS a difference between having an allergy and having an intolerance to gluten containing foods. You can read more about it at here.

Avocados for weight loss and beauty

We have been told to avoid the avocado because of its “high caloric and fat content”.
Aside from being very high in fiber, avocados provide essential nutrients such as A, B-complex, C, E, H, K, and folic acid, plus the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, potassium and many other trace elements. They also provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need plus 7 fatty acids, including Omega 3 and 6.

Avocados contain more protein than cowโ€™s milk.
Avocados contribute nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are thought to help prevent many chronic diseases.
In place of other heavier animal fats, avocados can be a satisfying addition to a low-calorie, healthy diet. Avocados can actually help you LOSE weight!
The Aztecs used the avocado as a sex stimulant, and archeologists have found the avocado seed buried with Peruvian mummies dating to 750B.C.
Early Americans called it the alligator pear, because they could not pronounce the Spanish word for avocado, ‘aguacate’.
European sailors called it “Midshipman’s Butter,” because they liked to spread a rich, guacamole-like substance on biscuits.
There are eight varieties of avocado grown in the US, but the Haas variety remains the most popular. It’s hard, textured skin makes it easier to ship and when it turns dark consumers can be sure it is ripe.
From San Luis Obispo to San Diego California is the largest growers of U.S. consumed avocados. San Diego County calls itself the “avocado capital” of the world. You may find a few in Florida but 95 percent are from CA.

In his book The Sunfood Diet Success System, David Wolfe, founder of Sunfood Nutrition writes about avocado oil being closely related to our skins natural oil. As a veteran professional beauty consultant I have used avocados and avocado oil for dry hair and skin treatments on many clients. You will often see cosmetic products claiming the use of avocado oil as their miracle cure. Hey, there’s a produce stand or grocery store near by, why not just use fresh, unprocessed avocados for the overwhelming health benefits in side and out!

I use avocados in many recipes ranging from chocolate mousse and cupcake frosting to wraps, spreads, dips and dressings. Any day of the week you can find avocados in my kitchen. I’ve even been known to take them on the go with me and enjoy them with lemon pepper as a nutritional mid day snack.

Purchase avocados unripe and let it ripen at room temperature. When the narrower tip (blossom end) is soft to the touch, it is ready to eat and it should be eaten promptly. They will not ripen in cold.

Here’s my quick and easy guacamole ‘go-to’ recipe. I often have my 4 year old son mash the avocado and stir in the seasonings. You can vary it according to your tastes and mood.

4 to 5 large avocados
2 fresh limes
1 medium white onion, diced (or onion powder or dried onion for flavor if you don’t have fresh)
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
1 large tomato, ripe but firm, diced
1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
dash cumin
pinch sea salt

Mash avocados in a bowl. I enjoy the chunks of fresh avocado so I lightly smash them rather than make them creamy.
squeeze in 1 lime. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. If needed squeeze in the second lime. Adjust to your taste.
Hint; if you save the seed and put it in the bowl your guacamole will stay fresh longer while stored in airtight container.

Oh, and by the way, those crispy amazing chips are home made and RAW! ๐Ÿ™‚

Gluten-free Vegan Pinapple Upside Down Cake

I have been searching for a vegan, gluten-free version of the traditional pineapple upside down cake for quite some time. Today I gave up and decided to make my own. It turned out fantastic! Super moist!
I added coconut flakes and used coconut milk but you could use rice or soy milk if you prefer. It would be fun to try this cake with raspberries, blueberries or other fruit such as peaches, cherries, etc. I could think of dozens of versions that would be great with this recipe. Try it out. You decide what toppings are your favorites!

1-1/2 C. Pineapple, chopped, diced, rings or crushed
1/2 C. Brown Sugar (you could use maple syrup or agave)
1/3 C. Coconut Flakes (optional)
1-3/4 C. GF All Purpose Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 C. Pineapple Juice
1/3 C. Coconut Oil, softened
1 Tbs. Flax Seed, ground
3 Tbs. Water
1/3 C. Sucant
2 Tbs. Agave nectar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract, gluten-free, alcohol free
3/4 C. Coconut Milk (canned or fresh; blend meat with water)
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (you could use white vinegar)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line bottom of spring-form pan or baking dish with parchment paper. Rub enough coconut oil on parchment to coat. Sprinkle brown sugar on parchment then put pineapple over sugar. If using coconut flakes, add. Set aside.

Mix together ground flax with 3 Tbs. water until well blended.
Add melted coconut oil, sucant (sugar), agave syrup, coconut milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.

In large bowl sift together all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and gradually add wet ingredients. Mix by hand until well blended. If necessary add more pineapple juice or coconut milk until consistency is like thick pancake batter. Pour batter over pineapple mixture in baking dish.
Turn oven temperature down to 325 and bake aprox. 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool. Remove spring-form sides from pan. To turn upside down place a large serving plate on top of cake then turn both the plate and the cake at the same time. Once cake is flipped remove bottom of spring-form pan and parchment paper.


Cheesy & Nacho Cheese Kale Chips! No more ‘Doritos’!

Kale chips

Kale chips

This is one of my most requested recipes. I hope you like it as much as we do!
Kale chips are a personal favorite around here. I make two big batches of these at a time and they are gone within a few days. I have certain friends who seem to know when I’m making a new batch because they always seem to show up just in time to help devour them! Salty, savory, sweet, you can adjust the recipe to your mood. Experiment, try the basic recipe and divide it in half, make half savory and half spicy or sweet.
Chose your favorite sauce below. Rinse and drain 1 large bunch of kale. Put kale leaves in a large bowl. If you use the curly leaf kale you will have more flavor pockets where the sauce hides in the curls of the leaves!
After you get your sauce blended and seasoned to your liking pour sauce over kale leaves and mix by gently squeezing sauce and kale with your hands until your kale is fully covered.
Lay out on dehydrator tray and sprinkle with hemp seeds. I even add more nutritional yeast on top for added “cheesy” flavor.

Sauce base
1 C. Pumpkin Seeds, soaked 3 hrs, rinsed well
1 Tbsp. Sesame Tahini
juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 teasp. Sea Salt
Water as needed

Add pumpkin seeds, tahini, lemon and salt to blender. Add water 1-2 Tbsp. at a time. (enough to blend ingredients well but not to make sauce runny. I like the sauce thick so it will stick to the kale well!) Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Cheesy Sauce
Sauce base then add;
1 Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2-3 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp. Hemp Seeds, + 1 Tbsp. set aside
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Agave syrup (optional)

Add to sauce base in blender and blend until smooth. If needed add a touch of water. You want mixture thicker than salad dressing but thin enough to pour.

Nacho Sauce
Sauce base then add;
2-3 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
1 Bell Pepper, chopped (red, orange or yellow)
1 ripe Tomato OR a couple of Sundried Tomatoes, soaked for 1 hr.
Small handful Cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Clove Garlic
1/4 tsp. Onion powder
1/4 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Oregano
1/4 tsp. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. Agave Syrup, optional
Chili (Red Pepper) flakes and hemp seeds to shake on prior to dehydrating.

Add ingredients into blender with sauce base and blend until smooth. Add water as necessary. Cover kale in sauce and lay kale pieces onto dehydrator sheet.
Sprinkle red pepper flakes and/or Hemp Seeds over leaves.
Dehydrate @ 105 until crispy.

Living gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies

Yep, that’s right! These are RAW, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and packed full of childhood memories!
Home made chocolate chip cookies have to be one of the most popular childhood cookie treats. I can remember the days when as kids we would try to sneak into the kitchen and steal a chocolate chip cookie. I swear my father could hear the lid on the cookie jar from all the way across the house! Those were his favorite cookies too, after all!

Melting chocolate chips, MMM!

Living Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C. ground Almonds or Cashews (I use half almond pulp from nut milk and half ground cashews)
1/4 to 1/3 C. Coconut Oil, softened
1/3 C. Agave nectar
4 Medjool dates, made into date paste using coconut water or filtered water
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Coconut Butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Maca powder
hand-full of cacao nibs or chocolate chunks (*make your own chocolate chunks, see below)
(optional) chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
HINT: if you want a chewier, more ‘baked’ texture you can add ground oat groat flour to your recipe. Just add as you mix until you achieve the desired consistency.

In food processor fitted with ‘S’ blade mix all ingredients except chocolate (or cacao nibs) and walnuts.
If you do not have a food processor just mix in a large bowl making sure that all ingredients get well blended.
Add chocolate chunks and walnuts or pecans.
Drop by spoonfulls onto Teflex sheet. Dehydrate at 105 degrees 4-6 hours or until you get desired texture. If you allow them to stay in a bit longer you can get a “cooked” texture, crispy on the outside and soft, chewy in the center.
Somehow I seem to be able to eat them before they even get dehydrated… cookie dough anyone? ๐Ÿ˜‰

*Quick and easy Chocolate Chunks (raw, living chocolate!)
Equal parts melted coconut oil and cacao powder, add agave to taste and a pinch of sea salt. You can also use carob powder. Whisk together, pour mixture into a flat dish and chill in freezer until hardened. You can break or chop hardened chocolate into chunks. Be careful, this could become habit forming!

Raw, Living Apricot Thumbprints

These are easy, delicious and fun to make! Apricot Thumbprint cookies ready to go into the dehydrator
I use left over almond pulp because we drink a lot of almond milk. If you don’t have or want to make the pulp you can simply grind almonds in a coffee grinder until you get a fine grind or powder. Just be careful not to grind it into almond butter!

2 C. Almond pulp
1/3 C. Coconut Oil, melted
1/3 C. Agave nectar
2 teaspoons Gluten-Free Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
4 Medjool Dates, blended into a paste using 1/4 to 1/3 C. coconut water. (or filtered water)
1 teaspoon Maca powder
1-2 C. Steel cut oats or Oat Groats, ground
*Apricot jam (see below)

Make your date paste, soften the coconut oil and if needed grind almonds.
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except oats until blended. Gradually add oats until you get cookie dough-like consistency. (you will know as mixture will thicken and stand up well without flattening when dropped by spoonful.)
Drop by spoonful onto Teflex dehydrator sheet. Press thumb into center to make a well into cookies. Add apricot jam into center. Dehydrate at 105 until you get desired “cooked” edge. (typically 4-6 hours you will have a nice outside edge and soft center, longer will give you a more ‘cooked’ texture.)

*Apricot jam can be made by putting apricots and agave into the blender. I add Irish Moss one ounce at a time until I get the desired thickness.

These cookies actually make a great cookie cutter cookie. My son pressed the dough onto the Teflex sheet and used cookie cutters to make shapes. It worked great!
Personally, I love this recipe with cacao nibs, but then again, doesn’t chocolate go with everything? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vegan, Gluten-Free Hemp Brownies!

This recipe is so much fun and you won’t believe it’s gluten-free. The best part? Egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and INCREDIBLY delicious!

Intensely chocolatey Vegan Hemp Brownies!

Gluten-free, Vegan Hemp Brownies

1 C. All purpose Gluten-Free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 C. Cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1/4 C. Hemp Protein powder
1/3 C. Coconut Oil
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
3/4 C. Maple Syrup or 1/2 C. Agave nectar
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 2 or 3 Tbsp warm water (mix together in separate dish)
2 teaspoons gluten-free Vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. You can add cacao nibs or chopped nuts such as walnuts or hazelnuts if you like. I also like a touch of peppermint extract for peppermint brownies.
Pour into 8 x 8 glass dish coated with coconut oil. Bake at 350 for 20 min.
I could barely wait for them to cool before…

Quick & Easy Living Applesauce

This is the healthiest way to make applesauce for your kids! You get all the nutritional benefits because this is not cooked and it saves you time in the kitchen!
If you’ve started a New Year’s resolution you may want to incorporate this recipe into your daily routine.
Apples are low in calories and fat, low in sodium, and contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber helps you feel full longer because it expands in your stomach so it takes less food to satisfy your hunger. Apples are low-sodium and a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Keeping your sodium low will help prevent excess water weight, or retention. And, the vitamins benefit you by increasing health and vitality. Vitamin C, Antioxidants, important enzymes to help you digest food easier, what more could you ask for?!

Easy applesauce!

Easy living applesauce!

Living Applesauce

3-4 apples of your choice, cored, leave peel on, cubed. (I love Honeycrisps for this recipe!)
1 teaspoon Agave or Maple syrup
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, ground

Simply put cubes of apples along with agave and cinnamon into blender, blend well. Adjust flavors according to your taste.

Gluten-free, vegan potato soup

This is truly a comfort food around our house. I have made this soup for dozens of friends and family and every time the same responses; “wow!”, “this is really delicious!”, and my favorite; “This is vegan?!”
This soup is super easy to make and your kids will love it!

Roasted Fennel Potato soup

Vegan potato soup with roasted fennel

Vegan Potato Soup with Roasted Fennel
10-12 organic Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes
8 C. organic broth (vegetable or mushroom work great!) +more or less amount depending on the size of potatoes. You need enough to cover potatoes in the pot.
1 lrg. bulb Fennel *see below
3-4 organic Carrots, cubed
Bay leaf
1 Tbsp. Poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp. Basil, dried
1 Tbsp. Parsley, dried or fresh
2-4 cloves Garlic (to taste)
pinch Paprika
1 tsp. Sea Salt
Fresh ground pepper
*Nutritional Yeast to shake on top of each bowl of soup for an enhanced “cheesy” flavor.

*To roast fennel cut bulb into quarters, place on cookie sheet. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the quarters. Roast in oven at 375 until bulbs are softened. After roasted and cooled enough to touch dice or cut into cubes, set aside.

In large pot add cubed potatoes and cover with broth. Add carrots, bay leaf, garlic, poultry seasonings, basil, paprika and sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Use a potato masher to press down cubes of potatoes.
After you get a ‘creamy’ texture from mashing the mixture, add your chopped, roasted fennel bulbs.
Garnish with chopped parsley and nutritional yeast.

Warming Curried Pumpkin-Apple soup

Pumpkin is loaded with health benefits! It’s full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It is high in vitamin A and antioxidants, (alpha and beta-carotenes), itโ€™s a good source of vitamins C, K, and E, and lots of important minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. It’s as good for the skin also! Along with being loaded with enzymes and anti-oxidants, pumpkin is moisturizing to the skin and also soothes irritated skin due to it’s high zinc content.
Mix it with fresh papaya or honey and treat your skin to a 5 to 15 minute mask. I actually grind dehydrated papaya seeds with pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder and add to my facial cleanser for dry, dehydrated winter skin.

I thought about all the wonderful pumpkin recipes we have been experimenting with since harvesting our pumpkins. Bread, cookies, smoothies, pie and pumpkin cheesecake, of course. We’ve tried it almost every way for a sweet, nutritious treat but what about a main course? It’s cold out! I want comfort food!
Here is a family-winning recipe (not an easy thing to do in MY family!). I made a double batch and it was devoured almost instantly!
This soup is so easy to make it left me wondering if that was really all there was to this recipe. The entire thing only took me 25-30 minutes including prep.

Warming Vegan Curried Pumpkin Soup

Warming Vegan Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 medium fresh pumpkin – seeded, peeled, chopped. (the easiest way to peel is cut into large chunks first, then use a vegetable peeler on smaller, easy to handle chunks.)
1 can Coconut milk OR 1 fresh young Thai Coconut, including meat and water
1-2 Apples, chopped
Fresh Ginger to taste, chopped or grated
1/2 teasp. White Pepper
1/2 teasp. Poultry seasoning

1 teasp. Curry powder,
1/2 teasp. Tumeric
1-2 cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped, grated or pressed
Agave to taste
pinch Sea Sal

In Vita Mix or food processor add pumpkin and some of the coconut water. Blend till smooth. Add apple, ginger, garlic and blend well. Follow by adding spices then a touch of agave if you like your curry sweetened a bit. (I used a LOT of fresh ginger which added a bit of a punch so the little sweetness of the agave was a nice compliment.
After blending well, leave Vita-Mix running long enough to “heat” the soup. (If you are using a food processor, you will need to transfer to a blender to get the smooth consistency. If you do not have a food processor, cut the chunks of pumpkin smaller and do small batches at a time. Add coconut water as you go for blending.

Pour into bowls or mugs and garnish with fresh chopped green onion, red bell pepper or fresh ‘chiffonade’ chopped spinach leaves.

*This recipe would also be delicious over rice. I’m going to try it with sprouted quinoa.

The best ever quick & easy gluten-free pancakes!


These are the easiest and best gluten-free pancakes I have ever made! I’ve tried them all, believe me. I quit making them from scratch because it seemed like they were all too heavy, glue-like, flavorless, sticky or just plain lacking in nutrition.
This recipe is quick, easy, nutritious and best of all DE-LISH!
You will not need a ton of water to wash these down. After eating a huge plate full I still have the energy to face the day!

I adapted this recipe from our local PCC (co-op grocery) newsletter. (recipe by Marie Donadio) There are a few things I changed for my own personal tastes.

Prep time 10-15 minutes!


2 C. Quinoa flour
2 Tbsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking soda

Mix all dry ing. together with whisk in bowl and set aside.

1/2 C. RAW Cashews, soaked 2-3 hours and rinsed well, drained. (be sure to rinse well as raw nuts have an enzyme inhibitor which can make digesting them difficult and lead to stomach pain. Simply soaking and rinsing cures this problem!)
2 C. Filtered Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (gluten-free, alcohol-free)
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Agave, Honey or Maple Syrup (more to taste as quinoa tends to be a bit less sweet than other flours.)
pinch Sea Salt
Blend all ingredients together in blender two or three times until mixture has a smooth, milky, frothy consistency. You may need to pause to scrape the blades to make sure there are no nut pieces.
(you are essentially making cashew milk!)
Pour liquids over dry ingredients and whisk until no lumps and well blended. If your batter is too thick you can add a touch of water as needed.
I use COCONUT OIL on my cast iron griddle as it is healthy, light and add a super delicious flavor!
We added fresh organic blueberries and spread warm coconut butter and real maple syrup on top! YUM-MY!!

*for variations add shredded or dices apples and cinnamon or fresh fruit. Add flaxseeds into the blender with the cashews for added nutrition.
*For heavier more buckwheat type pancakes simply substitute 1 Cup of the quinoa flour with Buckwheat flour and use 2 TBSP. of baking powder.

For easy ‘whip cream’ to top fruit you can simply blend cashews, macadamia nuts or fresh young Thai coconut meat with coconut water and agave to taste in your blender until smooth and creamy. (If you do not have coconut water you can use a touch of nut milk or water and sweeten with agave, honey or maple syrup.)

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