Homemade Grenadine

Grenadine and seltzer
Grenadine and Seltzer

Fun fact: real grenadine is made from pomegranate juice, not cherry juice (and skips all the preservatives). Since we’re in pomegranate season right now, I decided to take a stab at making our own grenadine (inspired and guided by this post).  Rabi and I don’t drink much, so this grenadine is a fun way to dress up our non-alcoholic drinks.  And, it would be a great homemade gift for a friend!

Pomegranate seeds

The recipe below makes about one cup of grenadine. I recommend using fresh pomegranates if they are available and you have a little time, but you can use bottled pomegranate juice too.

1 cup pomegranate juice (if using fresh, you’ll need at least 3 medium pomegranates)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp orange blossom water

If you want to juice your own pomegranates you can do it two ways. Cut the pomegranates in half. If they all look fresh inside with no questionable spots, try juicing each half using a handheld citrus juicer. Crush any unbroken seeds with a spoon or bottom of a jar and then strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.  If any of the pomegranate halves look like there may be some questionable seeds, I recommend seeding the pomegranates by hand (not in water, since you don’t want to leach any juice from the seeds). Once you’ve seeded all the pomegranates, put the seeds in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the blended seeds through a fine mesh sieve, push the juice through with the back of the spoon, or squeezing through cheesecloth.  (Note: save the pulp and use it to add fiber to smoothies, or experiment adding it to baked goods!).

Add the juice to a small saucepan and heat on low, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.  Add the sugar gradually, stirring constantly, to incorporate completely.  Keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and the juice seems clear (not cloudy).  Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom water (if you aren’t a fan of orange blossom water, you can omit this or add less. It does add a more interesting flavor to the grenadine.). Let cool and then use immediately, or pour into jars and keep in the fridge up to one month.

Homemade grenadine
Homemade Grenadine

Beet Brownies

We have a plethora of beets in our fridge right now (it’s a race to harvest them from our garden before the deer get to them), so I’ve been searching for ways to eat more beets.  I was reminded today, while searching the internet, that beets work well in baked goods.  Here’s a gluten-free, dairy-free version of beet brownies, adapted from this recipe.  I omitted the vanilla extract, since I’m sensitive to vanilla, but I definitely think they would be better with the vanilla.  Also, adding powdered sugar to the tops of the brownies would make them a bit sweeter.

Gluten-free, dairy-free brownies
Gluten-free, dairy-free brownies

2 large beets, peeled
3 large eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Peel beets and place in a saucepan with water and boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer beets until a knife can pierce the beets through the center (about 25 minutes).  Drain beets and puree.  You will probably need to add up to 1/4 cup water to the food processor to help puree the beets.  Set aside to cool

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and oil. Add the vanilla and beet puree and mix to combine. Mix in the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking powder,and salt into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into a 9×13 (or slightly smaller) pan that is oiled with canola oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (let the batter sit in the pan for at least 30 minutes before baking). Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean but still moist. Cool brownies for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!


Southwestern Spaghetti Squash and Beans

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash and Beans
Southwestern Spaghetti Squash and Beans

Whoa doggie, it’s been a while since we posted!  But, here’s a recipe to help get you through the winter doldrums.  We haven’t eaten too much squash this winter, but spaghetti squash was on sale at the co-op, so I picked some up and made an adapted version of this Southwestern Spaghetti Squash.

I used a regular yellow onion instead of a red onion, a green bell pepper instead of a red pepper (they are cheaper!), adzuki beans in place of black beans (and I used dried beans instead of canned: I soaked them while I was at work, then cooked them in the pressure cooker when I got home), vegan cheese, and parsley instead of cilantro (yes, I’m one of those people that don’t like cilantro).  Another change I made was to cut the squash and seed it before I put it in oven with the cut side face down in a baking dish with a little bit of water.  I think that makes the squash easier to handle when it’s warm, rather than having to wait for a whole squash to cool.

Top with some avocado, maybe some hot sauce if you like it spicy, and enjoy!

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash with Beans topped with avocado
Southwestern Spaghetti Squash with Beans topped with avocado


Gluten-Free, Vegan Gnocchi

While I don’t eat gnocchi very often, it always feels like comfort food when I do have it.  And, I’ve never been very successful at recreating good gnocchi, but I always try, thinking somehow this time it’ll work.  Well, this was probably my most successful attempt yet.  I still have a little trouble with the gnocchi getting a bit gummy/slimy when they come out of the water, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe letting them drain longer in a colander?  Tossing with some oil after draining?  I’m not sure.  If anyone has an answer, I’d love to hear it!


It was actually pretty easy to make gluten-free gnocchi – just use a milk alternative, gluten-free flour mix, a binder (which we do try to avoid most of the time), and no eggs.  Worked fine for us!  We served the gnocchi plain this time around (with some sauteed asparagus, which is on the Clean 15), with a little ground black pepper on top.  Of course we had ketchup to accompany it too, if we wanted.  If you want to be a bit more traditional, gnocchi can be served in pesto or with sage and butter (or rather, butter alternative).

Uncooked Gnocchi

There are multiple ways to form the gnocchi.  I took the easy way and just cut 1/2 inch pieces and scored them with the back of a fork.  The traditional form is made by using your thumb to squish the pieces on a specific gnocchi board to create those mini scoop-type shapes.  I’m not that fancy.  Hence just using a fork.

2 Yukon or other similar variety of potatoes (about 8 oz)2 Tbsp Rice or Almond Milk
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
large pinch of Salt
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

Boil the potatoes with their peels on in salted water until fully cooked (until a knife or fork slides into the potato easily). Drain and let steam dry.  When cool enough to handle, but still warm, peel the potatoes with your hands and mash them in a bowl or in the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer (I found that putting the potatoes in a bowl of cool water helped chill them faster, although it may have made them slightly harder to peel).

Add the milk alternative, olive oil, salt and continue to mix. Add the flour and xanthan gum and mix until a dough starts to form. Work the dough either by hand or with the paddle attachment of the KitchenAid mixer, but do not over work it. It should feel like soft clay. Grab a bit of the dough (about a handful) and roll out a cylinder about the thickness of your thumb.

Use a fork to cut 1/2 inch pieces off the dough and use your thumb to press that dough across the tines of the fork to score one side. Gently lift the dough from the fork and set the gnocchi aside. Continue to make more gnocchi.

Add gnocchi in small batches to boiling salted water and wait until they float. Continue to cook for 30 seconds longer and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain off. Serve immediately.

Gnocchi and Asparagus

Vegan, Gluten-Free Poutine

I had never heard of poutine before moving to the Northeast.  It’s a dish that originated in Quebec and is simply french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.  I’m embarrassed to say that even though we’ve lived here for almost 3 years now, I still have not tried authentic poutine (although it’s on my bucket list!).  And of course, Rabi can’t try it, unless he pops a few lactaid pills.  So, when a Vegan, Gluten-Free Comfort Food cooking class was offered at the Co-op, specifically for learning a recipe for vegan, gluten-free poutine, I signed up.

Vegan GF Poutine

Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it.  This recipe takes a long time to put together, so plan on at least spending 2 hours in the kitchen.  I don’t recommend making this for a weeknight dinner because of how long it takes.  Rather, it’s a good recipe to make on the weekend, preferably on a rainy or snowy day when you just want to snuggle up on the couch with something warm, filling, and comforting.  That said, the time it takes is totally worth it for a completely satisfying snack or meal!

There are three components to this meal: the herb-roasted potatoes, the butternut squash gravy, and the lentil crumbles.  Together, these three components are delicious, but they can also be used in other recipes or combinations, so keep these recipes in your back pocket for other meals.

Ingredients and Directions:

Herb Roasted Potatoes
5 medium to large potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet work well)
Handful dried parsley or 1/2 a bunch fresh parsley
1 tsp garlic powder (or more to taste)
salt and ground pepper to taste
1/8 cup olive oil

Cut potatoes into thick slices or wedges. Toss in olive oil, then toss in spices.  Roast in the oven at 450 degrees F on a cookie sheet for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned.  Halfway through cooking, use a spatula to turn potatoes/loosen from cookie sheet to avoid the bottoms over-browning.  Let cool on pan, then transfer to bowl.

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Butternut Squash Gravy
1/2 of one large butternut squash
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup vegetable stock
about 1/4 cup coconut milk (or more to taste)

Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds to discard.  You’ll only need 1/2 of the squash, but you could cook both halves at once.  To do so, place cut sides down on a cookie sheet with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Place in the 450 degree F oven along with the potatoes and cook about 40-45 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced.  When done, remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the squash easily.  When cool, scoop squash out of skin and into a bowl.  Place half of the cooked squash into a food processor (you won’t need the other half of the squash, so save in the refrigerator for future use).  Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until translucent. When ready, add the cooked onion and garlic to the food processor.  Add vegetable stock and coconut milk to food processor.  Process all the ingredients in the food processor until smooth like gravy.  Add water or more coconut milk for a thinner consistency, less coconut milk for thicker consistency.

Butternut Squash Gravy

Lentil Crumbles
3/4 cup green or brown lentils
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp or more of olive oil
1 cup minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oz crimini mushrooms, minced
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tsp brown mustard
1/16 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup rolled oats (blended in a blender until roughly chopped)

Simmer the lentils in the water with vinegar for about 30 minutes or until lentils are done while the squash and potatoes are cooking. Remove from heat and let cool for about an hour.  In a cast iron, warm olive oil over medium heat and cook onion, garlic, and celery until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add sunflower seeds and keep cooking until seeds are brown.  Add mustard, sherry, salt, pepper, and oats and mix together.  Remove from heat and add lentils to mixture and combine well.  Put the mixture on a cookie sheet and spread/pat out into a thin layer.  Broil in oven on high for 5 minutes. Remove and flip mixture and re-spread on cookie sheet if necessary. Broil again in oven about 7 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Lentil Crumble Mixture

To assemble the poutine, put potatoes on a plate, spoon butternut squash gravy over the potatoes, and top with lentil crumbles.

Just a note about preparing this recipe: this is a recipe that requires multi-tasking.  I tried to give some directions above about how to work on multiple parts of each recipe as you go.  Here is how I did it: I prepared the potatoes and squash for cooking, and then cooked both of them at the same time in the oven.  While the squash and potatoes were cooking, I cooked the lentils.  Then I chopped the ingredients for the lentil crumbles and prepared that recipe while the squash was cooling.  Then lastly, I prepared the butternut squash gravy.

Vegan GF Poutine 2


Pumpkin Bean Chili

In a previous post, I introduced you to a gluten-free squash coconut cake that I made.  Here’s another good squash/pumpkin recipe.  We used the remaining sugar pumpkin we had, along with some canned pumpkin to make this and even Rabi liked it (without adding hot sauce!).  The recipe is adapted from the Eat Clean Live Well cookbook, which is a nice cookbook because the recipes are gluten-free and vegan.

Pumpkin Chili

about 4 cups cooked pumpkin (about 1 3.5 pound sugar pumpkin, or you can used canned)
coconut oil for cooking
1/2 an onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of beans (I used Great Northern and Red Beans), rinsed
2 cups water (or broth – I used chicken stock)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
optional: cayenne or hot sauce

If you need to, prepare and cook your squash/pumpkin (if using a sugar pumpkin, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and place cut halves down in a baking dish filled with about 1/2 an inch of water. Roast about 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the flesh. Let cool and scoop out the insides).

In a Dutch oven or large pot, saute onion and garlic over medium heat in coconut oil until soft. Add tomatoes and beans and stir to combine. Add pumpkin and 2 cups of broth and stir into pot.  Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.  At this point, add cayenne or hot sauce if you choose to do so (I chose to leave it out).  If you want to make it more soupy, add a little more water (I did not add extra water or broth). Simmer for another 20 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Pumpkin Bean Chili

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Or, should we just call it National Chocolate Day?

I had the day off from work, so I spent the early afternoon creating chocolate treats for my co-workers (and of course for Rabi and me!).

Chocolate Almond Coconut Cakes 2

First, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without chocolate covered strawberries, right? (While I indulge in this tradition, I can’t help but remember that strawberries are definitely not in season in February, making this treat a bit silly and unsustainable). Moving on…

Chocolate Strawberries

While I recently learned how to make tuxedo strawberries (using white and dark chocolate), I opted for just plain dark chocolate for these (white chocolate has dairy in it, so not Rabi-friendly).  I recently took a class where I learned that for covering things with chocolate, you need to first temper the chocolate.  You do this by melting the chocolate in a double boiler and heating the chocolate to a temperature of 122-131 degrees F (you’ll notice the chocolate gets kind of shiny looking). Then, you take it off the heat (remove the top of the double boiler so you are no longer heating the chocolate), and add chocolate chips or small pieces of chocolate (and stir them in until they melt) to cool the chocolate back down to 80-84 degrees F (keep adding chocolate until it cools to that temperature).  You’ll notice when it’s cooled that it gets a matte look to it.  From here you can either heat the chocolate back up a couple degrees to 86-89 degrees F, or you can do what I did and only cool the chocolate down to 86 degrees F so you can skip the rewarming.  It worked just as well.  This process ensures that the chocolate will set quickly on the fruit.

Chocolate Strawberries 2

The second treat I made was Chocolate Almond Coconut Cakes, which we make and sell at the Co-op.  You can find the recipe here, but I ended up baking my cakes at 375 degrees F (instead of 350 degrees F) and for about 20 minutes instead of 15 minutes.  And, since we only have a 12 muffin tin, that’s what I used for these (instead of a 6 wide-sized muffin tin).  A nice gluten-free, dairy-free decadent dessert!