Free and Whole Living


Teff Polenta with Pesto

One of my favorite ingredients to cook and bake with is Teff.  Teff is a grain that grows in Ethiopia.  It can be ground into a flour  I use teff flour in my gluten free all purpose flour mix, and it goes great with dark chocolate.  It has a great nutty taste and is very nutritious.  Teff grain can be either brown or ivory and it has the texture of cornmeal and can be made into a porridge or polenta. In this recipe, I cooled and fried the polenta. But, I have served it soft with a chunky marinara sauce (this is awesome on a cold and rainy day, so comforting).  You can also use different seasonal vegetables. I have used baby purple artichokes and kohlrabi in the spring, butternut squash and carrots in the fall.

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I made this dish for my weekly visit with my dad.  I was trying to think of something other than soups, and this would be a complete change to what I’ve been cooking him lately. He absolutely loved it.  The polenta wasn’t as crispy as I would of liked it, because of being put in a plastic Tupperware container.  The polenta was a little soft and then I had to microwave it.  But, when it is served after cooking, it is crispy on the outside and soft inside.

This is adapted from Gluten-free Kathy and Teff co.’s teff polenta recipes.





3 cups vegetable stock or water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup teff grain (not teff flour)

1/2 cup pesto

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon olive oil


Bring stock or water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Add teff polenta slowly  to the water and stir with a whisk.


Switching to a wooden spoon, stir constantly for 10-12 minutes or until thickened and doesn’t taste grainy.

Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Stir in pesto.  Taste and adjust salt or pesto.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan.  Cool at room temperature.


Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.

Take pan out of refrigerate and set aside for 5 minutes.

Cut polenta into squares.  You can also use a glass or a biscuit cutter and cut circles.

Heat a skillet at medium high heat, add olive oil.

Place a square at a time, do not crowd the pan.


Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the polenta doesn’t stick to the pan, and flip over.

Cook on the other side 2-3 minutes or until brown and crispy.

Take out of pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to cool and drain excess oil.

You can cut in half on a bias to get two wedges or you can serve it in squares.

Serve with sauteed vegetables of your choice.

I used onions, zucchini, and yellow squash with 2 tablespoons of pesto stirred in.




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Plum and Fig Streusel Bars

Lately, I have been making jams and butters from the wonderful summer fruits at the farmers markets and in my family and friends yards.  I made some amazing spiced apple pear butter from apples that my friend gave me from her yard, and Asian pears from my aunts yard.  Over the summer one of the doctor’s at the clinic that I work at gave me about 5lbs of purple Italian plums, and my aunt gave me a couple of pounds of golden plums, and I made the most amazing jams and chutney with plums and fresh figs from the farmers market.  I love summer fruit jams during the winter.


I am going to a football party tomorrow and I was asked to bring a gluten free dessert, and my friend Tiffany requested fig newtons.  I decided that these streusel bars would be the next best thing.

This recipe is adapted from Brittany Angell’s Gluten free Raspberry Streusel Bars.


Crust Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar (taste and adjust the sweetness)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Filling Ingredients:

2 cups plum and fig jam

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut sugar or maple syrup

4 tablespoons almond or coconut flour

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

Streusel Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup nut flour (I used walnut)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/4 c coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

1/4  coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Crust Directions:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Line a baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.  Make sure that the paper is a little longer than the pan, so you have handles.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add flours, coconut oil, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest.

Combine until  mixture is crumbly.

Press dough into prepared pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.


Filling Directions:

Combine jam, vanilla extract, sugar or maple syrup, almond or coconut flour, and lemon zest,

Cook on medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, and lower heat.

Stir often, and cook until mixture thickens.

Spoon mixture into the crust.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.


Take out of oven and let cool completely.

You can freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.

Take out of pan using the parchment paper handles, and cut into squares.



If you have any leftover, you can wrap each bar with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator or freezer.














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Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese

One of the things that I miss most is a good creamy mac and cheese.  Giving up dairy was hard, but eating vegan cheese was even more difficult.  Nothing compares to cheese, the taste, the melting ability, there is nothing in the world like a good grilled cheese or a bowl of mac and cheese.  I have tried different vegan cheese and one of the things that I hate is the icky taste.  I have tried chao cheese by Field Roast, which is a Seattle based company. People have been raving about it and it is pretty good. But, I just had a weird after taste, and I couldn’t eat it anymore.  I do like Daiya cheese, and I know that lots of people have complained about the after taste. So, it totally depends on your taste. It melts really well. I have made quesadillas, grilled cheese, and mac and cheese. The closest thing that I have found in the vegan and gluten free realm, is Amy’s vegan gluten free mac and cheese.  It’s actually pretty decent.

I had a friend that made the best mac and cheese ever. It had lots of butter, cream, milk, and tons of cheddar cheese.  It was basically, a heart attack in a bowl.  But, it was amazing.  So, that was what I was aiming for.  Finding the right noodles is also very important.  Gluten free noodles can become a gloppy, disgusting mess if they are over cooked.  I have tried so many noodles, but the brown rice noodles that I like the best are made by Lundberg Family Farms.  Trader Joe’s has a nice brown rice penne, and Andean dream has very nice quinoa pasta which is corn and soy free.  For this recipe I used Lundberg’s brown rice rotini noodles, and Daiya Pepper jack cheese.  Daiya makes a nice cheddar as well, but I love the spiciness of the pepper jack.  This recipe is adapted from Daiya’s Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. You can find it on their website at



1 box (10 oz.) gluten free pasta

1 cup broccoli florets

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered garlic, divided

2 tablespoons vegan butter ( I use earth balance)

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

1 1/2 cups alternative milk ( I used a combination of almond and coconut milk)

1 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

Rinse broccoli and cut florets.  In a small bowl, add florets, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

Stir well. Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside.


Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain pasta, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.


In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the earth balance.  Stir and add the nutritional yeast.

Add the milk.  Bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat down to medium-low.


Add cheese.  Whisk constantly.  Cook for 5 minutes.

Make sure that the milk doesn’t burn.

Pour cheese sauce into the pasta and stir well.

Add broccoli and adjust the seasoning.




Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I have been working on a chewy granola bar that is filling and delicious.  I have been spending lots of money on Flying Apron’s gluten free and vegan bars.  They are so delicious and filling. So, I have been on a quest for that perfect bar that will give me a little pep when my coffee starts to wear off and curb my hunger until lunchtime.  I love granola bars, but they are pricey, Flying Apron’s bar cost $4.29.  They are so easy to make, and you can put what you want in them.  Get creative with your fillings.  This recipe is adapted from Flying Apron’s Morning Peanut Butter Bar and 86 lemons Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars. I have been working on this recipe for months.  Trying to find the right texture.  I like chewy granola bars like the Flying Apron bars versus the crispier types like Kind bars. I had trouble making the mixture stick together. I tried maple syrup and agave to no avail.  I would just end up with very tasty granola to go with my almond milk.  So, I read about coconut syrup and that did the trick.  The granola stuck together and firmed up and I was able to cut them into bar sizes. The next thing that I experimented with was the nut butter.  When I created this recipe the first time, I used almond butter.  It was a nice texture, but the taste was subtle.  I decided that I liked the taste of the peanut butter more. But, it is up to you and your taste.  The next batch I make will be with cashew butter.  You can also substitute different nuts, dried fruit, or you can add pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or chocolate chips.



2 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup cashews, chopped

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

1/2 cup coconut, shredded

2  teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup coconut syrup

14 cup maple syrup or agave

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries


Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.  I like to spray the pan with coconut oil before I place the parchment paper.  This prevents the paper from sliding around and makes it easier to scoop the mixture into the pan.  Leave extra paper on the sides, like handles to make it easier to remove the bars.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, add oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, and nuts.


Stir well to combine mixture.

Add coconut syrup, maple syrup, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Until mixture is well coated with the syrup.


Add coconut and raisins.  Mix well.

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Scoop mixture on the parchment lined baking pan.


Smooth and flatten mixture evenly with a rubber spatula.

Place in the refrigerator overnight or if you cannot wait, you can place the pan in the freezer for about an hour.

Lift the bars using the parchment handles.

Place on cutting board and cut into bars.

Wrap bars and refrigerate or freeze.





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White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

I love fall!  I love the leaves changing, the boots and sweater weather.   But mostly, I love the food. The soups, stews, crisps, squash, and pumpkin anything.  The weather changed and the chill made me want soup.

I had cooked white beans and a butternut squash. I was intending to make a curried soup, but I found a granny smith apple left from making apple sauce.  So, I decided to add an apple, thyme, and some dill.  I love apples in soups and mashed potatoes.  It adds sweet and tart flavors to your dishes. Adding a little apple cider vinegar rounds the flavors nicely.  Toning down the sweetness from the carrots and apples, adding tartness. It has such amazing flavors and some texture, chunks of vegetables instead of a smoothly pureed soup.




2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup parsnips, diced

2 cups butternut squash, diced

2 cups white beans, cooked and drained or canned

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried dill

2 teaspoons salt

1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

4 cups vegetable stock or water


Put a large stockpot on medium high heat.  Add oil.

When the pot is hot, add onions and garlic.  Stir and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add, carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash.  Stir and cook3-5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.

Add white beans.  Stir well.

Add thyme, dill, and salt.  Stir well.


Add vegetable stock or water.  Stir well.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Turn heat to medium-low and cover.

Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft.


Take off heat, and blend with a hand blender.  Or you can ladle 2-3 cups of soup into a blender.

Be very careful. The soup is hot and it is not fun getting splashed by scalding hot soup.

The texture is silky and with chunks of vegetables, and has great flavors with the dill, squash, and apples.

It’s a great meal with a nice salad and a nice piece of gluten free bread.









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Hello everyone,

Hello friends! I wanted to share an exciting project that I have the honor of working on with my dear friend Kreed Revere.

Kreed has created an amazing and safe place for women to grow spiritually, her new endeavor, Birthing Spirit Love which helps women to discover their full potential.

She will be offering different classes and workshops.
One that I am so excited to be a part of is Nourish.  I will help women who are interested in changing to a gluten free lifestyle and/or those who are interested in either becoming a vegetarian or vegan.

We will learn how to create a menu plan, how to change your eating habits without feeling deprived, and how to navigate through the  of the grocery store without being overwhelmed or stressed out.

I will be sharing my knowledge and since I am living proof of how changing my lifestyle increased my quality of life and has made so many positive and long lasting changes. Not only have I lost 50lbs. and have kept it off for two years, but my health has improved so much. I don’t have any of the debilitating IBS issues, the sluggishness, the fatigue, and bloating that was such a part of my daily life for many years.

Please check out her website and blog.


Spiced Chocolate Zucchini muffins

I have been working on breakfast ideas lately.  I have gotten many requests for breakfast ideas, since that seems to be a hard meal  for people new to a gluten free or vegan lifestyle to think of.  It’s hard to break the eggs and sausage, or cereal and milk habit.  I remember eating lots of eggs, turkey sausage with cheese or  granola and yogurt, and English muffins with almond butter and jam.  It’s hard when you cannot eat those things anymore, and then to come up with delicious and filling meals is can seem daunting.  So, this is a delicious, filling, and nutritious.  My flour mix has sorghum, teff, millet, and amaranth.  Those flours are pricey, so it might be easier and less expensive to purchase a nutritious flour mix.  Try looking for one with sorghum or millet flours.  The reason that I make my own mix is that most of the commercial gluten free flours are made of garbanzo, fava bean, rice flours, tapioca, and/or potato starch.  My body has a hard time digesting garbanzo and fava bean flours.  It makes me very bloated and uncomfortable.  It is very easy to make your own mix but initially it is expensive, which depends on the flours that you use and mostly because of the xanthan gum.  Bob’s Red Mill’s Xanthan gum is found at most co-ops or at Whole Foods, and is $11.99 for 8oz., but that will last you literally a year.  I bought mine last October and I still have a lot.  You only use about 1  -2 teaspoons for a cookie or a muffin recipe.  Xanthan gum is used as a binding and thickening agent.  I used it to thicken salad dressings when I was a prep cook and it helps bind gluten free baked products.  I will include my gluten free all purpose flour recipe.

Since it is summer and the zucchini is just beautiful right now, I thought about making zucchini muffins. I had these zucchini from the market in my refrigerator and it reminded me of my father’s garden.  My father used to have the most amazing and delicious garden.  I used to love walking through and picking the bounty.  He grew tomatoes, different types of lettuce, bok choy, all types of herbs, and zucchini.  He used to grow these crazy, huge zucchinis.  I wish that I took pictures.  One of my favorite things that I used to make was zucchini bread.  I usually add walnuts and cranberries, but I wanted to do something different and I decided to add chocolate and dried cherries.  I spend Sunday afternoon with my dad at the Adult Family home.  And, my favorite thing that I look forward to all week is making and feeding him dinner.  I spend most of the week thinking about a menu for his dinner, and Saturday preparing it.  I wanted to make a little treat for my dad, his housemates, and caregivers.




1 tablespoon ground chia seeds

3 tablespoons water

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated or diced

1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

1/2 cup dried cherries

Mulu’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

2 cups oat flour

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup millet flour

1/2 cup amaranth flour

1/2 cup teff flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour

1/3 cup arrowroot starch

5 teaspoons xanthan gum

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk well.

Store in an airtight container or in a 1/2 gallon freezer bag.

Keep all gluten free flours in the refrigerator.  They get rancid quickly.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with large baking cups and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon chia meal and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl.  Stir and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, spices, and salt.


Whisk to incorporate dry ingredients and set aside.

Grate or chop your zucchini.  I like the texture that the muffins have when the zucchini is grated.  It is totally up to you.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer add coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Mix on medium.


Add chia “egg”.  Mix on medium to incorporate.

Add dry ingredients one cup at a time.  Start the mixer on low and then increase speed to medium.

Add zucchini in between the dry mixture additions.

I added one cup of dry ingredients, mixed, and then added the zucchini, and mixed, and added the dry ingredients.


Add candied ginger, dark chocolate, and berries.


Mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Scoop mixture into lined muffin pan.  Fill 3/4 of the cup.


Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Take out and cool for 5 minutes in pan.

Cool onto wire rack for 10-15 minutes.


Enjoy while warm, it goes so well with either coffee or tea.

Store in a airtight container or a plate wrapped with plastic wrap at room temperature  for up to two days.

Store in refrigerator for up to one week or freeze up to 2 months.

















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