Charting life's circuitous path

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Sun-dried Tomato Hummus and Lentils

hummus 2I’m learning a lot about myself on this gluten and dairy free journey.  I’ve been shocked by just how “routine” our meals had become.  After ditching a lot of processed foods years ago (or so I thought!), it was a real eye-opener when I found that the only gluten free “meat substitute” was Quorn tenders.   😮   My entire repertoire of substitutes contained wheat and I was stuck in a very scary situation.

What’s for lunch??

I hadn’t realized just how much my lunches depended on some form of sandwich.  Of course, homemade soup and salad were still the shining stars, but I was dependent on the “quick fix” meat substitutes provided.  Want a quick meal?  Just heat up a few chik’n tenders and voila!  Not sure what to eat but starving?  Fix up a quick veggie burger and you’re done.  While a bit healthier than, say, eating out or gorging on high fat red meat, it honestly wasn’t much better. :/

Enter gluten free eating and suddenly I had to actually cook.  And here I thought that was what I was already doing!  Ha!

So, lunches and dinners around this house have really changed.  I’ve started making meals from my vegan cookbooks that I’ve never tried before and we’re eating a much more varied green diet.  It wasn’t like we weren’t eating kale before, but we’re eating it with quinoa now!

Here’s my latest discovery: homemade hummus!  I’ve never bothered making it before and I’m not sure why.  I guess I thought it’d be easier to just buy it, but honestly, I find the store bought hummus to be a bit too much – too salty, too oily, too something.

This hummus, on the other hand, is delicious!  I snagged the recipe from a blog I discovered called The Simple Veganista.  Julie’s blog is both beautiful and packed full of really delicious sounding recipes.  This was a definite winner and has converted me over to making homemade hummus for life.  🙂

(And that piece of bread holding it all together?  That’s my first loaf of gluten free bread.  🙂  Not too bad, but I can’t say it was a definite winner.   I’ll be experimenting more with different recipes and hopefully come up with something that I can post.)


Sun-dried Hummus with Lentils

(Notes:  This recipe hails from The Simple Veganista.  I don’t buy tahini so I opted to leave it out.  I also used the 1/4 cup or so of soaking liquid from the tomatoes as part of my water count.  Julie suggests adding more olive oil to replace the tahini, but I didn’t bother.  It tasted wonderful to me, but suit your own tastes.)


  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 6-8 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, diced (I used dried ones without the oil and followed her advice of soaking them in water for 15 minutes before proceeding)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup water, as needed


  1. Add all of the ingredients, except the water, to a food processor and pulse until thoroughly mashed. Add water as you pulse to reach the right consistency for you. 🙂



Gluten Free Japanese Curry with Tempeh Katsu

This is the beginning of our third week going gluten and dairy free. Our grocery bill is beginning to finally level out (no longer $200 a week… 😮 ) and the hubby’s headaches are decreasing.  I’ll take that as a win. 🙂 In fact, I’m going to try going without my allergy pill this week to see how I react.  Fingers crossed and wood knocked on for the best!

However, here are three truths of going gluten and dairy free.

  1. You won’t believe what products in your cupboards have gluten and dairy.  Here is just a sampling: Soy sauce, yeast, curry sauces, corn flakes, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, french fries, and almost anything processed. AND if it says dairy free, it isn’t necessarily casein or whey free.  AND if you’re trying to buy groceries in a hurry, you’ll find yourself looking at labels for a LOT longer than you’ve anticipated.
  2. The sticker shock is, well, shocking.  A tiny packet of gluten free all purpose flour costs $3.99.  A loaf of bread?  $5.99.  A packet of 4 hamburger buns?  $5.79.  Want to make your own?  Be prepared to buy at least four different flours and starches just to make flour and they cost between $3.50 – $8 a packet.   Let’s just say no more potlucks for us!
  3. The food you do make is really delicious.  There’s this strange notion still floating about that gluten and dairy free food is mediocre at best.  Even those who are gluten free propagate this myth and it’s just not true.  I about laughed out loud at my local Trader Joe’s as the worker gushed about how “surprisingly good” their gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix was and how close to a “normal cookie” it resembled.  🙄


Luckily for us, I’m game for cooking new recipes.  I’ve had to ditch our weekly pizza (so not paying $11 for a small pizza from Whole Foods) and replace it with new quinoa recipes and our weekly curries are now homemade versus store bought.  I made my first batch of saag and basmati with fabulous results!  This week is Japanese curry week and since I had to throw out my packet of Golden Curry it was time to look up a good homemade version.


I’ve made homemade curry before with just okay results.  It didn’t resemble Japanese curry but more Indian curry.  The roux was a wrongly spiced and while it was good, it didn’t quite work as a replacement.

So, I found a new recipe that looked right and subbed out the regular flour with sorghum flour and xantham gum and the beef stock with vegetarian.  The result?  Nearly perfect!  In fact, it was so good, I’m going to make it my go-to recipe.  It was a tad bit spicy, so next time I’ll be upping the apple and lessening the amount of spice.

We like to have our curry with tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets) and potato croquettes.  Our Japanese panko is made from wheat, so I bought Ian’s gluten free panko.  It’s more “breadcrumb” like than the original panko, but it did coat well and tasted fine – not quite as flaky as the original, but it was still good.  I coated thinly sliced tempeh and fried them for a minute or two for my own “katsu” and it was delicious!  Crispy, tasty and a great companion for the curry.


Here’s my tweaked recipe for gluten and dairy free vegetarian Japanese curry.  And if you need any more prompting, it was just as fast to make this homemade as it was to make it from a packet.  I’m not kidding!

Oh, yes, and katsu can also mean “to win”.  Coincidence?  I think not. 😉

Japanese Curry (Gluten and Dairy Free)

(Note:  You can find the original recipe here.  Below is the recipe as I made it.  Tweak spice to fit your taste and have fun with the veggies.)


  • 2 potatoes, peeled and largely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced in ½ inch chunks
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (optional, but we like a lot of veggies in our curry)
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 tbsp margarine (or butter – I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
  • 4 tbsp sorghum flour
  • ¼ tsp xantham gum
  • 1 – 2 tbsp SB curry powder
  • 1 – 2 tbsp garam marsala


  1. Place first 7 ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Cook until potatoes begin to soften and then start the roux.
  2. Melt butter in a pan until bubbly.  Add flour and xantham gum and cook for a minute or two – keep stirring the mixture.  Add spices and cook for another minute.
  3. Add roux to the vegetable pot and stir to mix.  Once the roux is mixed completely with the vegetables, cook another 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Tempeh Katsu


  • Tempeh, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill AP Gluten Free Flour)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ cup Ian’s gluten free panko (or your own panko)
  • (adjust flour and panko amounts to fit the amount of sliced tempeh)


  1. Place the flour in a dish, the beaten egg in a bowl and the panko in another dish.
  2. Dredge tempeh slices in flour, then dip to coat in egg and finally coat with panko.  Set aside and repeat with other slices.
  3. Fry slices for a minute or until golden brown.


Going Gluten and Dairy Free – Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

On a cool, sunny day last week, I let go of my therapist.


I walked in, like previous sessions, with a heavy mind and a full heart.  But this time, I left her gray couch feeling lighter.  I’m not sure if giving up therapy was the right choice, but I do believe giving up my therapist was the best choice.

I would arrive frayed around the edges with worry about what to talk about.  After an hour, I’d leave a complete wreck.  It wasn’t like I was being bullied by my therapist.  I think I was just being ignored.

My worries and issues were laid bare and I was hoping for some kind of relief.  I knew that she wasn’t going to solve my problems for me, but I had hoped for some direction.  A way to see myself differently so that I could pick up those sad pieces and wash the stains out a bit and reclaim them.  But they were left sitting in dirty, unorganized lumps on the table between us.  Embarrassed, I would pack them away after each hour and go home where I would fall apart in my hubby’s arms.

“While you do have some real worries, most of what you worry about isn’t really all that bad.” – therapist


In other words, I was over-thinking things and making them out to be a lot worse than they really were.  Fair enough.  Perhaps my own worries about not having friends or a career were relatively small on the scale of traumas, but they were my worries.  These were things that could bring me low in one fell swoop.  To be told to just “ignore the bad things” wasn’t making the agonizing trip to the office worth it.

So, we parted amicably and I’m now seeing how things go. Lately, I’ve been a lot better.  The claustrophobic cloud from earlier in the year is now just a faint mist from time to time and most days are relatively happy and cloud free.  If the storm gathers, I can always search for another therapist.  Now I feel more in control of my own therapy.

Starting this month, the hubby and I are on a different sort of adventure.  One filled with a lot of veggies and zero gluten and dairy.


The hubby suffers from migraines and after exhaustive rounds of medications and top headache doctor’s visits, we’re trying food allergies.  According to the literature, gluten and dairy are the top suspects when it comes to allergies, headaches, bad moods and all sorts of things.  His allergist gave him a long list of histamine producing foods that made my heart sink.  Everything from pickles to eggplants to whole grains were on the list and I saw very little we could actually eat.

In the end, it took a great purge in my pantry where I gave away all of my flours, cereals and other gluten items (it’s frightening just how much gluten is hidden in food) and replaced them with gluten free varieties that were expensive, yet surprisingly tasty.  Sure, Canyon Bakehouse white loaf isn’t a slice of fluffy white bread, but it is very nice.  Especially with a slathering of marmalade or peanut butter.  🙂

The key to going gluten free is to see it as something different.  Not the same as wheat, not the same as pasta or bread, but different.  This can be very hard to do.  Like when I want a really good chocolate chip cookie but it comes out a bit, well, off.  Still soft, nice and rather yummy, but just not quite right.  In fact, it’s a whole new thing.  Same goes for vegan dairy replacements.  Seriously, as wonderful it is to have Daiya as a cheese alternative, it doesn’t hold a candle to a good aged cheddar.  What it does give you, though, is something healthier and far gentler on the system than the cheese.

So, I made a gluten and dairy free strawberry birthday cake with Pamela’s vanilla cake mix and my own strawberry frosting.  It was delicious right down to the last crumb.  I made gluten and dairy free entrees such as the quinoa pilaf with kale and corn or the filling lentil shepherd’s pie topped with vegan mashed potatoes or my gluten free stir fry.  Everything we’ve tried this week has been both delicious and surprisingly filling.  Where we thought we’d want more, we actually found ourselves stopping, satisfied.


We’ve only been doing this for a week and a half, but already we’re sleeping better and my allergy symptoms are gone.  Whereas before I was going through a box of tissues a week, now I’m hardly a sniffle!  It’s been very good once we got over the headaches and fuzzy head of the first week.  We still have a few more months to go, but we’re adjusting and doing our best.  Now, if we can only figure out what to do when eating out . . . :/

Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

(Note: Original recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.  I’ve halved the recipe and it still makes a large amount of salad.  We simply stored some in the fridge and freezer.)


  • 3/4 cups quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used the originally called for whole cube rather than halving it)
  • a big handful of kale leaves (she notes 8oz, but I just chopped without measuring)
  • non-stick spray
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup corn, thawed
  • 4 – 5 sun-dried tomatoes, diced (or 1 jar roasted red peppers)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine quinoa, water and bouillon in a medium pan.  Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer with lid on until tender (about 15 minutes).  Set aside.
  2. Strip kale leaves of stems and cut into strips.  Add to large skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray set on med-low heat.  Cook until wilted.  Add the garlic and cook a minute or two before adding the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Saute for about 5 minutes until warmed through.