Free and Whole Living

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Pinto Bean Brown Rice and Kale Enchiladas with Pumpkin Ancho Enchilada sauce

I  have been developing this recipe after I was at a dinner party where they served sweet potato and white bean enchiladas.  I just couldn’t get the recipe out of my head.  The flavors were amazing; there was a little sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and a little bit of spice, and creaminess from the vegan cheese.  I was craving enchiladas one day and decided to make this recipe, but I didn’t have sweet potatoes and true to Seattle weather in the fall, it was rainy and too miserable to walk to the store.  So, I had one can of organic pureed pumpkin left in my cupboard and I scoured the internet looking for a pumpkin enchilada recipe.   I adapted the veggie enchiladas with pumpkin enchilada sauce from  I used pinto beans, kale, brown rice, spices, and ancho chiles.  The chiles were re-hydrated in hot water, and I used the water in the enchilada sauce.  The sauce has some heat to it, some smokiness from the chipolte chile powder, and sweetness from the pumpkin, and spices.

I always cook and bake seasonally, but I have been craving these enchiladas for the past six months or so.  I meant to blog this recipe in the fall when I made it, but I was grocery shopping yesterday and thinking about a meal for my weekly visit with my dad tomorrow. and as I was walking down the aisle, I saw the canned pumpkins.  I was so excited!! Who knew that they had canned pumpkins in June? You can change up the ingredients and adjust the spices to better suit your taste.  I tend to use lots of spices in my cooking.  One thing that I had a hard time finding was the perfect tortillas that were gluten, wheat, and corn free. I found that the plain brown rice tortillas were dry and not very flavorful.  But, then I discovered these amazing tortillas made with ivory teff and millet by La Tortilla Factory.  They are so good. I highly recommend them.


Pinto Bean Brown Rice and Kale Filling Ingredients:

6 gluten free tortillas

3 cups Pumpkin ancho enchilada sauce

2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil

1 cup onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup mushrooms, diced

1 1/2 cups shredded non-dairy cheese, divided

2 cups pinto beans, cooked and drained (or 1 can drained)

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups chopped kale

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons sea salt

Pumpkin Ancho Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:

1 can organic pumpkin puree

1-2 dried ancho chiles, softened in hot water and chopped

2 cups water (I used the water that the chiles were rehydrated in)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 cup cilantro,chopped

2 tomatoes, diced



Preheat oven to 350.

Place ancho chiles in a small bowl.

Pour water over the chiles.  Set aside.


Heat a large pot or a skillet over medium heat.

Coat pan with avocado oil.

Add onions, garlic, bell, and poblano peppers.

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Saute 2-3 minutes or until the peppers are soft, and the onions are translucent.

Stirring well to combine all of the ingredients.

Add mushrooms, stir and saute for 1-2 minutes or until soft.


Add the beans, rice, and spices.  Stir well until combined.

Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Turn heat off.

Add kale and 1 cup shredded vegan cheese.


Stir and adjust seasoning.  Set aside.

Enchilada Sauce Directions:

Take the stems off the peppers, remove the seeds, and chop.

Pour the water into the blender.


Add pumpkin puree, spices, and peppers.

Blend for for 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are combined

I mixed the sauce in my blendtech on speed 5.


Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning.

Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Heat tortillas over medium heat in a pan to make them pliable about 10-15 seconds.


Place 1/4 -1/3 cup filling in each tortilla and roll until filling is enclosed.

Place enchilada fold side down into the pan.

Repeat until all of the tortillas have been filled and rolled.

Pour 1 1/2 cups sauce on top and sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.


Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and cilantro.


Enjoy while warm.  It is so good!






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Baked Teff Polenta with Chunky White Bean Tomato Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomato Cashew Cheese

Last week, I catered for my dear friend Kreed’s wedding.  One of the dishes that I made was a tamale pie.  I used to make tamale pies when I used to eat meat and dairy.  I made it vegetarian by substituting the meat filling with black beans, pinto beans, corn, peppers, diced tomatoes, cheese, with a cornmeal crust.  So, I decided to make this vegan and since I didn’t have any cornmeal, I used teff grain.  Which is one of my favorite grains to use.  If you can’t find Teff grain, you can substitute coarse ground cornmeal or polenta.

I made a sauce with diced vegetables, diced canned tomatoes, and white beans.  The sauce has lots of garlic and dried thyme, you can add any fresh or dried herb that you want.  It would be a nice fall or winter dish.  The teff polenta is very filling and with the bean and tomato stew, it’s also a very warming kind of dish.  I am making this in the spring, and I’m using zucchini and squash.  You can also use butternut squash and sweet potatoes in the fall.  I ended up making a smaller casserole and freezing it  for my next visit with my papa this weekend.

This is a great dish for a potluck or for lunches for the week. You can substitute and play around with seasonal ingredients and different herbs.   You can easily make two casseroles from this recipe.  Just make sure that you don’t bake the one you will freeze.  Take it out of the freezer the night before you want to bake it.  And bake for 20-25 minutes.

I adapted the cashew cheese recipe from Nutrition Stripped’s classic cashew cheese recipe.



Teff Ingredients:

2 cups teff grain

6 cups cold water

Chunky White Bean Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil.

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and peeled

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

2 cups white beans cooked or 1 can drained

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons sea salt

Sun-dried Tomato Cashew Cheese Ingredients:

I cup of cashews

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sauce Directions:

Soak cashews in 2 cups cold water.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat a large cast iron skillet or saucepan.  Add olive or avocado oil.

Add onions and garlic.  Stir and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, and squash.  Stir and saute for 3-5 min.  Or, until the vegetables are a little soft.


Add white beans, herbs, and salt.  Stir well.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir well, cover, and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.


Teff Directions:

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan.

Slowly pour the polenta, whisking constantly until the polenta has been stirred in.

Reduce heat to medium.  Keep stirring until the polenta starts to get thick.


Reduce heat to low.  Stir polenta with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and thick about 18-20 minutes.

When the polenta has been cooked and doesn’t taste grainy, remove from heat.


Add earth balance and stir. Set aside and let cool until you can handle the polenta with your hands.

Sun-dried Tomato Cashew Cheese Directions:

Add all ingredients in a blender or a food processor.


Blend well until the mixture is creamy and thick.  It will be the texture of ricotta cheese.


Teff Polenta Pie Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a glass or ceramic lasagna pan ( or 2 smaller pans).

Spoon polenta on the bottoms and sides of the prepared pan, and pat the mixture down.


Spoon the tomato sauce evenly.


Spoon cashew cheese on top.


Sprinkle remaining polenta on top over the cheese spreading evenly.


Bake 20-25 minutes.















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Spiced Oatmeal Raisin and Carrot Breakfast Cookies

I have been working on different breakfast cookies.  This recipe has been changed and tweaked so many times, but I’ve finally found the perfect texture, taste, the right amount of sweetness, and a hint of spiciness.  This recipe combines my love of oatmeal raisin cookies and carrot cake. I gave my dad a cookie yesterday, (he’s my favorite taste tester) and he nodded his head and was so excited. Which means that he loved it. You can change up the nuts and the dried fruit, this would be great with pecans and chopped dried apricots.

This yields up to 2 dozen cookies. I baked a dozen and froze the other half. You can store in an airtight container up to three days.




2 tablespoons ground flax (flax meal)

6 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1 1/2 cup gluten free oats

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chia seeds

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup milk alternative (I used coconut milk)

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries ( I used a mixture of golden raisins and cranberries)

½ cup walnuts or pecans (I used chopped walnuts)

½ cup shredded carrots

½ cup shredded coconut

1 teaspoon each cinnamon and ground ginger (I used 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup candied ginger, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

To make the flax eggs: Mix 2 tablespoons flax meal and 6 tablespoons water in a small mixing bowl.


Stir and set aside for 10-15 minutes until mixture becomes gelatinous.

Using either a kitchen aid mixer or a medium mixing bowl and a wooden spoon.

Add flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg.


Mix to combine mixture. Add the flax egg, and mix.


Add maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.

Add carrots and milk.


Fold in coconut, chia seeds, raisins, chopped candied ginger, and nuts.


Scoop dough using a tablespoon on the prepared sheet pan. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.


Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan. Place cookies on wire rack to cool completely. When cookies have cooled place in airtight container.



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

1/4 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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