Smart Balance Gluten-Free Mac n’ Cheese

Our diet continues to evolve, as we find what works best for us. It was suggested to me by my doctor at my last appointment, that I should be consuming more fish, for the oils, so of late, we have included oil packed tuna and wild salmon once or twice a week into our dinners . Add in that Alistaire loves fish (and is something he can eat) I am more than happy to let him have it. Ford was pestering me for mac and cheese of late, and hey, I’d rather he eats one I made over a *gasp* box, at least it can be gluten-free, high in protein and made with clean cheese, not something dyed orange.

I adapted the recipe so baby could enjoy it as well (since cheese is something that of his allergies is the mildest – and he really loves it). A hearty dinner and outside of Walker throwing peas at me, a success. And as a bonus, I got to try out a new product I hadn’t had before, although I have used their products many times –

FT C Disclaimer: “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Smart Balance. I received product samples, and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Smart Balance and Earth Balance are re-doing their look and many of their spreads are coming now in square, and not circle tubs. It not only saves space, but uses up to 18% less greenhouse emissions – and is the same 15 ounce size, and the same great products.


All 13 varieties of Smart Balance Buttery Spreads and 5 of Earth Balance spreads are in the new packaging! If you are like me, round tubs do not fit in your refrigerator “butter” cubby/door, so I love square and rectangle tubs. I can actually shut the darn door and not have it falling out.


A little Smart Balance Butter & Canola Spread on a Schär Ciabatta Roll (love these par-baked rolls!). The kids went crazy over it, and that the spread has fish oil in it? Well, I can take that as a bonus. It is buttery and quite tasty on bread! And no one noticed – so why should I tell them?


Dinner served – 3 happy kids fed! The buttery spread works perfectly in sauces.


Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese with Tuna and Peas


  • 8 ounces brown rice pasta
  • 8 ounces frozen green peas, preferably unsalted
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Smart Balance spread
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch (or tapioca starch)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp mustard, preferably a spicy deli style
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup sour cream, no thickeners (read label)


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook as directed on package. Add peas to colander, pour pasta water over slowly to thaw, shake peas and pasta off.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over medium. Melt spread, whisk in flour, salt and pepper, then milk and mustard. Bring to a boil, whisking often, until thickened. Take off heat, stir in sour cream and cheese till smooth.

Drain tuna, flake and stir into sauce. Fold sauce into hot pasta.

Serves 4.



Book Review: The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook


I have really enjoyed Elizabeth Gordon’s cookbooks, as I explore more possibilities for cooking gluten-free/vegan/allergy-friendly. Her 2012 cookbook, The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs, is a great read, especially if you have anyone in your household with severe food allergies. The wide range of types of recipes will inspire you to think a bit differently, even if you don’t need to be careful with your ingredients.

After going through the book, I ended up coming back to a simple dish of rice and beans. I loved the warmth of the beans and the brightness of the rice. Try it rolled up in fresh corn tortillas! Which leads me to something: I always hated corn tortillas. Dry, bland and crumbly. Then I had raw ones that you cook quickly in a hot pan. The difference is amazing. I am hooked. There is no comparison! I had fresh tortillas like 3 times in the past 2 days…that good!


Black Beans and Yellow Rice (as adapted from page 121)


  • 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp (or more ) fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro leaves, minced


Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add oil, onion and garlic, sauté until they have softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice, broth and turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover tightly and let cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine beans, cumin and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan, heat over low heat until just heated through. Stir in lime juice (I used a Tablespoon juice).

Fluff the rice, serve topped with beans, and a pinch of cilantro.


The recipe called for ½ tsp salt added to the rice. My broth had around 500 mg sodium per cup. I didn’t feel it needed any extra salt, so left it out. Your taste may vary of course!

We topped the rice and beans with sautéed vegetables (not pictured) – a green and a red bell pepper and a large sweet onion.


The No-Wheat Cookbook: Tuna Noodle Casserole


With the family falling into a mostly-gluten-free way of life, so that Alistaire can eat with us, I picked a recipe we might all enjoy from The No-Wheat Cookbook: Easy, Delicious Recipes for a Wheat-Free Diet. I hate sounding like I am getting on the bandwagon for no-wheat…but honestly, I have to say my stomach has felt better as I move us off wheat pasta (and all other forms of it….). We are eating less pasta, be it GF or not, and my stomach doesn’t feel like a lead balloon and I might add, this week we got home late, and I made a fresh tomato sauce tossed with wheat spaghetti….it was delicious and my gut hurt after it. Lesson learned. Once you wean off, you notice things. Which is a huge bummer, because as Kirk can attest, I reeeaaalllllyyyyyy love pasta. Maybe Alistaire’s allergies are a blessing? Kirk would say yes 😉 It is the pasta that does me in, not bread. Sheesh!

I grew up on casseroles, as I have mentioned before. Many involved cans of cream of mushroom soup and a lot of pasta. Our casseroles were heavy on carbs, low on protein (pasta is cheap, tuna not so much). I reversed that formula and Kirk loved it. One of our realties with a plant-based diet and a child with allergies is fish/meat has had to come back into our diet, so that he can get what he needs. I am OK with using a little here and there, if it is ethically sourced. Between Wild Planet tuna and making it gluten/dairy free with Go Veggie cheeze, we had a great casserole. All it was missing was a bag of crushed potato chips on top 😉

PS: Here is an option though – it would have been great with a can of drained garbanzo beans as well, instead of the tuna.


Tuna Noodle Casserole (as adapted from page 166)


  • 8 ounces brown rice noodles (used twists)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups milk (used unsweetened So Delicious)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp dried majoram
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 (5 ounce) cans albacore tuna, drained and flaked (see above for a veg option)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (used Go Veggie, Dayia would work for a full veg option)


Preheat oven to 375°, lightly oil or spray a 9×13″ baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil, cook pasta as directed, drain when just al dente (I took a minute off the cooking time).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low, add in oil, onion, carrots, red pepper and garlic, cook for 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Take off heat, stir in tuna.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the milk, broth, marjoram, and cornstarch until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper/ Take off heat and stir in cheese.

Add cooked pasta to skillet, toss with vegetable mix, add in sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. If desired, top with ¼ cup more cheese, and serve.

Serves 6.


FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

Gluten-Free & Allergen-Friendly Pizza Crust

Where do teens go to hide from Mom, when in a grocery store? The magazine aisle. At least mine does. Looking for Ford, I ended up flipping through magazines, and going home with a few I hadn’t read before. One of which was:

Reading the July/August 2013 issue of Delight Gluten Free Magazine, I went through their lengthy section on pizza making. At 5 pages long, this was pretty intensive. I was thinking maybe I could try out a gluten-free pizza crust, at least get there 90% of the way for Alistaire. Get the basics conquered, then get where he can eat everything (ie…dairy free cheese). The recipe was for a thin crust pizza, so I was thinking “Oh, I’ll double the recipe and make two pizzas! “. Note to self: OK, just make two batches and proceed. GF isn’t the same as using wheat. After letting it rise for an hour and a half I was not feeling so confident this crust was going to be useable. It was ummm….spreadable. It didn’t look like “dough”. Feeling fearful, I took the red sauce I was simmering for the pizzas, and turned it into a pasta sauce. I decided though, to give the dough a chance. Pizza? I wasn’t so sure, but maybe a focacia bread? Or cheesy bread? Ooh…yeah.


As I made my backup dinner, the bread baked in the oven. Walker asked what I was doing, as I crouched down, looking through the window. Hoping, I thought to myself. It looked done, I set it on a cutting board and sliced it. Burning hot – and one bite had me thinking of a memory from years ago.

Ever indulged in Papa John’s Cheesy Bread? Oh please, we all have.

My accident just produced heaven on a plate. Like that, just um, way better. We couldn’t keep Walker out of it. He ate so much he gave himself a tummy ache 😀


I’ll be working on this for pizza and just have the confidence it won’t fail. I have to remind myself that gluten-free/allergen baking doesn’t look like wheat dough/batter when it is raw. I just have to believe and trust my nose that it is turning golden delicious. And that a double batch produces a heavenly, thick and fluffy crust.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust & Cheesy Bread


  • 1½ cup warm water
  • 4½ tsp active dry yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

For topping:

  • Olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fine sea salt
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


In a stand mixer bowl, add warm water, yeast, oil, and sugar. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour and salt in a mixing bowl.

Turn mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture, beat until mixed in. Add vinegar and remaining flour, mix until dough is smooth (it will not be thick like regular pizza dough is).

Oil a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl, Scrape dough in. Lightly oil a piece of plastic wrap, cover tightly. Let sit for 2 hours in a warm spot.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 450° and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spritz or lightly oil the edges of the pan (important, otherwise it can and will stick to the edges!)

Knock dough out onto prepared pan, spreading gently with a silicone spatula, until it fits the pan. Let rest for 15 to 30 more minutes.

Drizzle olive oil over the top, liberally grind pepper and a pinch of salt over, then sprinkle on cheese to taste.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top and bubbly. Work a thin spatula under the parchment paper, loosen the edges and slide onto a cutting board.

PS: If you chill leftovers, reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave. It is not good cold, but heated, delicious.


My feeling on how to use as an actual pizza crust is to par bake it for 5 minutes, then top and bake for another 15 minutes. I would use a light hand with sauce and cheese, and use ingredients that won’t produce a lot of moisture while baking.


Garden Vegetable Primavera Rice

Psst: I had a fun Sunday…I spent most of my day reading books on my Kindle app while my hiking partner fly fished.



I’ll have more photos up later this week on my other blog. Hiking gets my mind reset in a way nothing else can do. But on to our dinner tonight –

This was a hit with Walker, he was loving it – and heck, the sometimes picky teenager also snacked his down quickly. A quick dinner, and it came out of my garden and or from the farmers market.Something about the shredding of the vegetables, it is a great combo with the white rice. And better, it was a quick dinner for a long day where I didn’t have a great deal of free time.


Garden Vegetable Primavera Rice


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 1 medium yellow summer crookneck squash or yellow zucchini, shredded
  • 1 small bunch carrots, peeled and shredded
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. small new potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


Heat a medium, heavy saucepan over medium. Add 2 Tablespoons oil and garlic, then add rice. Stir to coat rice, add in broth. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium-low and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to boil in a pot of salted water, cook until fork tender, drain, slice into bite size pieces.

Heat a large skillet over medium, add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil, zucchini, squash and carrots. Sauté until tender, seasoning amply with black pepper. Add in potatoes, stir and cook for a few more minutes. Turn off heat, add in rice, tossing to mix. Sprinkle cheese on, gently fold in until melted, serve immediately.

Serves 4.


Inchilotta Casserole & A Dilemma

The irony in Alistaire’s allergies is it took away my lazy cushion for cooking. Many of my vegan/plant-based diet tricks were not there anymore. Nut “meat”balls? Nope. Wheat pasta? Yeah, nope. Finely ground nuts in oatmeal? Sigh. Gluten-based faux meats? And a big fat no. There have been days where I honestly feel pretty sorry for myself, then I remind myself that of all the kids to have allergies, he is pretty fortunate. At least he has a Mom that can learn to adapt not only his diet, but ours. At 17 months he wants to eat with us now, not just have a pile of “baby” food. No dummy there. Even then, I can’t cook with many ingredients anymore around him, so that means I have removed most everything he is allergic to from the house. From spelt flour to pecans, to my lazy-evening dinner solution: marinara sauce with faux-ground beef tossed with whole wheat pasta. He eats that, we have issues. And I got the bill for his last two ER visits and gack, no thanks on that. Oh well, at least we have met our yearly deductible, must look on the bright side.

So my dilemma is how do I get protein into him? I would fall back on faux meats about once a week and the rest of the time it was heavy on legumes and nuts before Alistaire was eating solids. Baking has to be vegan/gluten-free still, to avoid eggs. But I am also realizing we will have to have some meat, until I can get his diet under control. Trust me, I do NOT like cooking meat, nor buying it. This recipe does contain meat, although it can easily be converted to using faux-chickn’ strips chopped up. This will I am sure lead to some issues with readers, as I have primarily posted vegan and vegetarian recipes the past couple of years. I am not one to hide though and pretend to be something I cannot be. If my using organic meat offends you, I apologize, but what choice do I have until I can figure out my baby’s health issues?

Still, I am happy to be able to make my son a whole foods meal that he can enjoy with us. My inspiration? A copy of, Eating Gluten Free: Delicious Recipes and Essential Advice for Living Well Without Wheat and Other Problematic Grains, published in 2004, that I came across in our local library this week. I found it gratifying to read an older book on GF cooking/eating, being 9 years old, it doesn’t have a lot of hard to find ingredients, that are now in style for cookbooks (don’t get me wrong, I love hard to find ingredients…but hey, it makes it easier with allergies to avoid them). Picking through the recipes I found a number that were good to use as-is and many I could adapt for B’s allergies.


The Inchilotta recipe on page 41 caught me eye. It is the stuffing of a vibrant enchilada, and can be eaten as a salad, or baked as a casserole with corn tortillas. Yum! I had to try this out, so I got my shopping list ready and went to the farmers market.


Inchilotta Casserole (As adapted)


  • 1 pound organic chicken breasts (see notes)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans organic black beans
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp rubbed sage
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • Generous pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 package corn tortillas (gluten and allergen-free), about 9
  • 8 ounces finely grated cheddar/jack cheese (see notes)


Preheat oven to 350°, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, spray liberally.

Add the lemon juice to a glass mixing bowl, place chicken in, turn to coat, let rest for 10 minutes.

Mix the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Transfer chicken to baking sheet, discard lemon juice. Sprinkle the seasoning on top, flip over and sprinkle on the other side. Bake chicken for 30 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and tomatoes in bite-size pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Rinse and shake off beans, add to onions. Add the spices, toss to coat. Stir in cooked chicken.

Eat as, or add chopped romaine hearts and make a salad, it keeps great in the refrigerator chilled – or better? Make a hot casserole!


To make a casserole:

Preheat oven to 350°, oil a baking dish (I used a 9×13″). Lay down a layer of corn tortillas, spread half filling on top, sprinkle on 1/3 cheese, then another layer of tortillas, remaining filling and 1/3 of cheese, ending with another layer of tortillas . Sprinkle last 1/3 of cheese on top, bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

– To fit tortillas in dish, cut 3 of them in half, and use 2 whole ones and 2 half-moons on each layer.


Use a favorite faux-chicken strips, chopped up, for a veg-friendly version. You won’t need the lemon juice. If your strips must be baked before, sprinkle the spices on, before baking. If going vegan, use a favorite faux-cheese.


Sesame Noodles

It is Wednesday already? Eek! I am finally catching up from the weekend. My In-Laws are on the road, off on vacation, the house is getting back to order. Kirk and I took the boys hiking on Sunday to one of my favorite places, Sunrise, at Mt. Rainier National Park. Still plenty of snow and we had nice weather, sunny and maybe 70°. I posted many more photos on my other blog. Walker loves snow (and what kid doesn’t in July?) and hey, Alistaire loves being carried 😉


In the quest to make dinners Alistaire can eat with us (with his allergies), I am working on the sauces first, then I will adapt the pasta, as we use up our wheat pasta stock before we go to gluten-free. I can always drizzle sauces over quinoa or rice for now, for him. Thankfully we are down to maybe 8 or so boxes left of spaghetti.


Sesame Noodles


  • 1/3 cup Sunbutter
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red pepper rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tsp chili pepper sauce (Sriracha or Tabasco or similar)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 16 ounces spaghetti noodles


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, cook pasta as directed. Reserve 1 cup cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, add all of sauce ingredients to a high-speed blender, reserving 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil for later use. Process sauce until smooth.

Toss drained noodles with remaining 1 Tablespoon sesame oil in a large bowl.

Add in the cup of reserved pasta water to blender, process until smooth.Pour sauce over pasta, toss to coat. Sprinkle sesame seeds over, toss again.

Serves 4 to 6.


Dill & Radish Potato Salad

Sorry for the late post today, it was a long day. Alistaire had his allergy testing this afternoon, and it was a long visit. The back test showed that in addition to his already existing peanut and cashew allergies, he has a nasty egg (both to white and yolks) and a really, really nasty reaction to wheat. So…let’s just say my world got turned on its side once again. Waiting for more of the testing to come back as well. Had to laugh though, he can eat fish and shellfish 😛 Irony at its best…..

After a stressful afternoon, I was ready to retire to my computer, and plan my outing tomorrow. Eee! Kid-free! Adult conversation! Networking! The Disney Social Media Moms tour stops in Bellevue tomorrow and I am going 🙂 And I used it as an excuse to buy a cute pair of khakis and new sandals.


Last week, having come home with a 5 pound bag of mixed new potatoes (gold, red and blue) and a lovely bunch of radishes, I was thinking potato salad. Then I opened up a new post from Annemarie at Real Food. Real Deals., and saw her salad recipe, and I had to try a version of it! With some adaptations, out came a version all my own. The taste was fresh, crunchy and just a little spicy. I let my salad chill overnight to develop the flavors. PS: Since we knew Alistaire has a standing chicken egg allergy, even before testing, I only use turkey eggs now.


Dill & Radish Potato Salad


  • 2 lb.. new potatoes (any color or mixed)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped (we used turkey eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 large radishes, trimmed and finely chopped
  • ½ cup plain greek-style yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp red pepper seasoned rice vinegar
  • Salt to taste


Rinse potatoes, add to a tall saucepan, cover with cool water and salt generously. Bring to boil, cook until fork tender, drain and shake dry, set aside to cool enough to handle. Chop into bite-size pieces.

Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl, toss with egg, dill, green onions and radishes.

In a small bowl, whisk yogurt and vinegar, salt to taste. Pour dressing over salad, gently fold to coat, taste for salt.

Store tightly covered.


I used 3 large turkey eggs. To hard boil, add 5 or 6 eggs to a small saucepan, cover with cool water. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat. Let sit for 15 minutes, drain and run cool water over. Shell and chop. Store leftover eggs in shell, in refrigerator for snacks.

Serves 6 to 8.


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