Affairs of Living

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, whole foods recipes

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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 


Spiced Sweet Potato Quick Bread (gluten free, yeast free, vegan)

I pulled together this recipe not for myself, but for my celiac childhood friend and my gluten-intolerant landlady. I had some sweet potato that needed to be used, a bunch of flours, and an open afternoon, so why not bake for friends? This is an adapted version of the Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe from the Food Allergy Survival Guide. While it isn't something I can eat right now, and I actually didn't even try it,the report from my landlady is that this bread is perfectly spiced, has a sweet honey flavor, is totally sliceable, and was decadent smeared with goat butter. She said it was just a little crumbly, but in a good way. I can attest to the fact that it smelled amazing while it baked. My other friend said it became dry quickly, but she loved the taste.

The flour mix is way more complex than I usually go for - it uses 6 different flours - but the results were really positive. The loaf was dense, raised like a gem, and removed from the pan very easily. If you want to simplify the flours, go forth at your own risk - I'm not sure what will happen! I made a double batch, and cooked half in a large loaf pan, and the other half in two mini loaf pans (mini loaves baked 40-50 minutes). Both looked lovely! This recipe would make great muffins too, probably baking for 20-25 minutes. I chose to add pecans and currants, but feel free to mix it up - try dried cranberries, golden raisins, or snipped dried apricots, or chopped walnuts, brazil nuts, or hazelnuts. Or, try adding a handful of chocolate or carob chips!

Sorry the photo is so awful, but at least it gives an idea! :)

Spiced Sweet Potato Quick Bread (gluten free, vegan)

 3/4 c pureed cooked sweet potato
1/2 raw honey (substitute raw agave nectar if hardcore vegan or if you require low GI)
1/3 c canola or sunflower oil
1/4 c unsweetened natural applesauce
1/4-1/2 c apple juice
1 c homemade all-purpose flour mix (equal parts millet, sorghum, and brown rice flours)
1/4 c tapioca flour/starch
1/4 c garfava flour
1/4 c quinoa flour
1 1/2 tsp corn-free baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt
1 tsp guar gum
optional: 1/2 c chopped pecans
optional: 1/2 c currants or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a large loaf pan (8 1/2 in x 4 1/4 in x 3 1/8 in) and dust with rice flour.

In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, oil, honey, applesauce, and 1/4 c of apple juice. Mix until smooth and well combined.In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder, guar gum, spices, and salt.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, beating at low speed. Add more apple juice as needed to get a smooth batter.Fold in currants and pecans if using.

Spoon batter in prepared loaf pan, and smooth top. If desired, sprinkle with additional finely chopped pecans! Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into middle of loaf comes out clean. If top is browning too much and loaf is still soft in center, cover loosely with foil until loaf is fully baked.

Remove from oven, and let cool 10-15 minutes in pan, then gently transfer loaf to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife.




Split Pea Spearmint Soup (gluten free, vegan)

This recipe is inspired by a delicious soup I ate on a cool autumn day at the Oneota Community Co-op last fall. The strong community formed by the Oneota Co-op is at the heart of Decorah, Iowa, my beloved college town. Any trip to Decorah requires a daily - sometimes twice daily - stop at the co-op to see old friends and grab a tasty meal. Nourishing and delicious, I left with two large containers of their Minted Split Pea Soup - this recipe is a near replica! It has a velvety texture and a unique, light flavor. Perfect on chilly day.

SPLIT PEA SPEARMINT SOUP (gluten free, vegan)

yield 6-8 servings

2 cups dry split green peas
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp spearmint
1-2 Tbsp chickpea or azuki tamari, Coconut Aminos, or sea salt to taste (or soy tamari or Bragg's if soy-tolerant)
freshly cracked black pepper
10 cups water
olive oil

Rinse and soak dry green peas for 8-10 hours - OR - boil 4-6 cups water in large stockpot or dutch oven, add peas, remove from heat and cover, leaving sit for 1 hour.

Rinse soaked peas and set aside.

In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until starting to become translucent. Add celery, and saute for 2 minutes. Add carrots, and saute for an addition 2 minutes  .Add soaked peas, spearmint, and 10 cups water to stockpot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer 90 minutes or until peas are soft.  Add tamari or salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve warm with a slice of your favorite bread and roasted vegetables or a greens salad.


Parsnips, Chard and Chickpeas with Besan Puda (Chickpea Four Flat Bread)

I love quick, one bowl meals. Warm veggies and beans dumped over something starchy? Heaven. So, here's the first in a series of quick meals that fit in a bowl. Parsnips, Chard and Chickpeas, served with Besan Puda, an easy-to-make chickpea flour flatbread. Quick, tasty, and high in protein.

Parsnip, Chard, and Chickpea Yum Yum

Yield: a bunch, or a little, it is up to you.

Parsnips are one of my favorite foods. I could eat them endlessly. This combination is great, and you can do anything with it! Make an extra big batch and freeze the leftovers. Proportions are totally versatile. The main goal is to include all the ingredients, however much of each you have will work just fine.

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2-1 bunch chard, washed and prepared as directed below
  • 1/2-1 can rinsed drained chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • pinch anise seeds
  • dash cardamom
  • dash turmeric
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • water/broth
  1. To prepare chard: wash it, then cut out the hard rib from each leaf, and chop it up. Then, layer the leaves, roll, and slice thinly (approx 1/4 inch). This is called a chiffonade! You'll end up with long, lovely thin strips of chard.
  2. In a nice big covered skillet, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Add your onion, stir around a few times, cover, and let sweat for 5 minutes.
  3. Take off cover, stir around, add a little water if necessary, add your turmeric, cardamom, and anise seeds, and the chopped chard ribs. Cover again, and let brown another 2-3 minutes, or until onions are brown and starting to carmelize.
  4. Add your peeled parsnips, add a little more water, and cover again. Cook a few minutes, or until parsnips start to soften.
  5. Place chickpeas and chard on top of parsnip mixture, pour in a little more water, and cover again. Cook until chickpeas are warm and chard is softened, then stir to mix evenly. Salt and pepper to taste.

Options from here:

  • Add more broth and make it like a thick stew
  • Serve it over cooked grain . I'd recommend wild rice!
  • Serve with tortillas or flatbreads, like the chickpea-flour based Besan Puda (see recipe below!)
  • Add sheep/goat yogurt or feta and serve with raw veggies
  • Eat as it is - no frills, still awesome.


Besan Puda (Chickpea Flour Flatbreads)

Yield: 8 flatbreads

Besan Puda are traditional Indian flatbreads made from besan/gram flour, a flour made from chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). Delicious and high in protein, these are one of my favorite fast survival foods. They are irresistible fresh from the frying pan, and leftovers freeze very well. This is a traditional version of the recipe, but feel free to make it yours - omit the veggies, switch the seasonings, make it spicy, savory, or sweet (agave, ginger, and cinnamon perhaps?). Half or quarter it for a really quick meal solution. Look for inexpensive chickpea flour at Middle Easter or Indian markets, or find the Bob's Red Mill version at health food stores.

  • 1 c chickpea/garbanzo/gram/besan flour
  • ¼ c brown rice or millet flour* **
  • 1 c water
  • 1 small zucchini, finely grated
  • 2 scallions, finely minced
  • 1 t cumin seeds, toasted
  • fresh or dried finely chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
  • oil or ghee for frying
  1. Finely mince scallions and grate zucchini. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours. Stir briskly with whisk to introduce air and make fluffy.
  3. Slowly add water to flour mixture while stirring until moistened. Add zucchini, scallions, and cumin seeds, and stir until well mixed.
  4. Heat oil or ghee in medium frying pan or griddle over medium heat, until water sizzles on surface. Pour ¼ c batter into pan, spreading thinly over pan surface into a 7-8 inch circle.
  5. Once surface has firmed, approximately 2-3 minutes, flip flatbread in pan and cook reverse side. Flatbread should be golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Re-oil pan as needed and continue pan frying flatbread until batter is gone. If batter starts to thicken too much, add a little more water. 
  7. Serve warm as a side to soups, grain, or vegetable dishes, or use as a wrap for sandwiches.

*The choice of rice or millet flour mixed with the chickpea flour creates two very different flatbreads. Brown rice flour yields a crispier, lighter flatbread with a lighter flavor. Millet flour has a stronger flavor and yields a moister, bendier flatbread that works better for wrapping up ingredients.

**If you want to make these totally grain free, omit rice/millet flour and add additional 1/4 c chickpea flour.


A new practice, a fresh start.

I've had long, casual relationship with Buddhism. It fascinated me as a teenager; having made the choice back then not to be confirmed in the Methodist church, but being of the spiritual sort, I was drawn to look into other religious traditions. Buddhism was really at the forefront of this exploration, and has remained an interest of mine through the years. Do I consider myself a Buddhist? No, not at this point. But the teachings and philosophies have always resonated with me. This has been especially true in the last year, as I've experienced major life changes, physical and psychological discomfort, confronted struggles I did not know how to manage, and need to exert more patience and self-forgiveness than I've ever had to in my life.

I picked up one of Pema Chodron's books, When Things Fall Apart, and found wisdom in her teachings for coping with pain and difficulties. It was at this time that I tried to start a meditation practice at home, but found it challenging. My tendency to busy-body, both physically and mentally, as well as some lack of structure, made it really hard for me to establish a good practice alone. What am I doing? How do I do this? What do I do with these feelings and thoughts that come up as I sit? I didn't know, and while Pema's books and the writings of others were insightful, I found it really hard to be disciplined. After months of trying to do it alone, I needed something one-on-one. I needed structure. I needed community.

Fast forward to last week Saturday. I had a particularly cathartic acupuncture session that left me feeling like I was in an emotional-spiritual crisis. I have the tendency to keep pushing, even when I'm at my limit. I am very effective at using my mind to cover up struggles, but my body doesn't hide a thing. It absorbs everything; my back, my shoulders, my entire digestive system are like sponges for emotional and psychological distress. When I showed up to my acupuncturist, she felt my pulse, looked at me, and said what I already knew: that I needed to address the emotional side of my current situation, and learn to release the bottled up doubts, fear, frustration, and grief. It was collecting in my heart and lung meridian, blocking qi, creating tension, and hindering the huge leaps we've made in healing my physical self. The moment the words left her lips, I started to cry, because I know what she said was true. I felt it, I knew it was there, it's been growing for a long time.

The body never lies.

I've been focusing so much energy on taking care of my physical self. But I know I haven't been feeding the rest of me equally, partially because those are the harder, more complex things to heal. I decided I needed to make time to nourish what is starved, and learn to let go of those things that have been bottled up inside of me for way too long. I needed to make time for mindfulness, stillness, non-judgement, and acceptance. I needed to make time for meditation. And I couldn't do it alone.

It was this combination of factors that drove me to attend a the Intro to Zen Meditation class at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center last Sunday. I woke, I arrived, I sat. I learned about the Center and their mission, and how they apply Zen teachings in their practice. I listened to a great lecture about seeking guidance and taking refuge in the Three Jewels when one encounters times of struggle and anguish. Then I stayed for tea, and chatted with some of the folks there. The environment was friendly, warm, welcoming, and honest. There was an open attitude and a structured format. It was exactly what I needed. I left feeling energized, refreshed, and hopeful.

So, I went back on Tuesday for the bi-weekly beginners discussion group. It was one of the best Tuesday nights I've had in a long time. As our group of eight sat in the dimly lit room, I found warmth and stillness on the cold, blustery night. Sure, I fell off track and found my overactive my wandering. Feelings and memories came up out of the depths of my brain that surprised me. And I found myself getting frustrated at my incapability to clear my head. But then I remembered non-judgement. I remembered that the mere practice of sitting, recognizing emotions and thoughts, acknowledging them, then calmly brushing them away was good enough. It was about taking time to breath, to sit, to clear away distractions and thoughts, and be present in the current moment - no matter creeped in. What do you do when you sit? Nothing! Just be. Be with whatever comes. After meditation, we discussed what we felt, asked questions, and shared our points of view. I was surprised to feel so open and comfortable with a totally new group of people. While it was kind of scary and vulnerable to open up and discuss my fears and challenges, it felt really good, and I left feeling happier and more relaxed than I had felt in a long, long time.

Tomorrow morning I plan to go to the morning service, which will include a sit and walking meditation, which I have not experienced. While I haven't made time to sit at home yet, I think that's okay. Easing into a new habit is always better than making a huge change. I want this to be free of judgement and critique. I want to further develop my practice, and learn to apply the same kind of intention, mindfulness, and non-judgement that is embraced while sitting to the actions of daily life. I feel this has been a long time coming, and that now is finally the right time. Like anything, I'm sure the road will be bumpy, and I'll probably fall off the wagon at some point. But if I do, I can always get back on, take a deep breath, and start over fresh. And there is nothing more hopeful than a fresh start.


It's gettin' steamy in here: Steamed Sigtebrod a.k.a. Danish Spiced "Rye" Bread (gluten free, vegan)

I've been wanting to try my hand at making a gluten free steamed bread for quite some time now. Baking buns, biscuits, breads and puddings with steam is a very traditional way of baking that isn't done very commonly here in U.S., with the exception of Boston Brown Bread. But in other cultures, it is a standard, everyday way of preparing baked goods! In India, there is the dhokla, a steamed bread made of besan (chickpea) flour, yogurt, and spices. In Kenya, millet and sorghum are fermented, and then steamed into biscuits. In the UK and Australia, steamed puddings and cakes are common special occasion treats. In China and Japan, rice flour dough is filled with various sweet and savory ingredients, and steamed into little buns and mochi.

Many steamed recipes are naturally free of eggs, gluten, and dairy, due to the traditional cuisine of cultures who steam. A perfect solution for those of us on special diets! Steamed breads don't require added fats or oils, so they are great for people watching their fat intake. Plus, you don't need to use the oven! All you need is boiling water, a large covered pot, a can or baking tin of some kind, and a couple hours to sit back and let your bread steam over a low flame. Simple!

I've been wanting to try out this recipe for dhokla, but I'm in the midst of a detox, and all dairy is out the window for the next month. While I could adapt it to be dairy free, I really crave the tang of goat yogurt with the besan flour. So, February will be dhokla month (if I don't cave and make a dairy free version before then). Instead, I decided to adapt a steamed bread recipe from The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones. I would highly recommend this cookbook - not only does it have a wide variety of recipes that are free of all the most common allergens, it also has tons of great, useful information about ingredients, substitutions, basic nutrition, food families, rotary diets, etc etc etc. The recipes are delicious, clever, easy, and don't use lots and lots of crazy, expensive hard-to-find ingredients.

Rather than make the sweet, fruit-studded rice and sunflower seed bread from Marjorie's recipe, I decided to throw in a Danish twist. In my gluten-eating days, I was always a sucker for a dark, heavy rye-based loaf, laced with caraway, dill, or fennel. I can't help it, I'm a Dane through and through. I've been craving the deep taste of a heavy, dark loaf - so, I decided to make a gluten-free, yeast-free steamed version of sigtebrod, a traditional Danish spiced rye bread. To emulate the rich flavor and color of rye, I chose a healthful blend of buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and carob flour. I used a traditional combination of spices from this recipe. To fit my allergies, I omitted the orange zest, but you should use it! Throwing back to Marjorie's recipe, I included ground almonds extra protein, and dark agave nectar replaces the sigtebrod's traditional molasses.

The result? A moist, dense loaf, studded with aromatic seeds, boasting a rich flavor, dark rye-like appearance, and lots of fiber and protein. Plus, a thick slice has as much vitamin C as glass of orange juice, thanks to vitamin C crystals. All in all, this bread packs a nutritious punch in a fun, ridged cylindrical shape. You can even slice it thin.

Steamed Sigtebrod a.k.a. Danish Spiced "Rye" Bread (gluten free, vegan)

1/2 c buckwheat flour
1/4 c + 2 T millet flour
1/4 c amaranth flour
3 T carob powder
1 1/2 t baking powder*
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t caraway seeds
1/2 t anise seeds
1/2 t ground cardamom
optional: 1/2 t orange zest
1/2 c almonds, or other nut
1 1/4 c boiling water or apple juice
1/4 t unbuffered vitamin C crystals** (or 1 T lemon juice or vinegar)
optional: 1 T - 1/4 c agave nectar, depending on your tastes and sugar tolerance

large covered pot or dutch oven
boiling water
1 qt baking mold or empty 1 lb can (bean tins work great!)
tin foil
rubber band/string
metal rack or empty bowl
food processor


  1. Liberally oil mold/can.
  2. In large bowl, combine flours, carob, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. In food processor, pulse almonds until finely ground, stirring between pulses. Add boiling water/juice, and process for 20 seconds. Add agave nectar and vitamin C crystals, and process briefly.
  4. Pour almond mixture into flour, and mix until until evenly moistened and combined. Do not overmix! If too dry, add a little more boiling water.
  5. Spoon batter into the well-oiled tin/can, leaving 1/2-1 inch between the batter and the edge of the can for bread to expand. Cover top with double layer of foil, creating a slight dome shape, leaving room for the dough to rise, and secure with rubberband/string. I did not do this and mine exploded through the foil!
  6. Place a wire rack in the large pot, and put the can on the rack. Pour in enough freshly boiled water to come half way up the sides of the can.
  7. Cover the pot, placing a towel between the pot and cover if necessary to create a tight seal. Place the pot over medium-low heat, and steam for 2 hours. Do not remove the cover while steaming!
  8. After 2 hours, remove lid, and check if bread is cooked by inserting a toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, bread is done! If not, re-cover can with foil, steam another 10-15 minutes, and recheck.
  9. Remove mold/can from pot, remove foil, and let bread cool in the mold/can for 10-15 minutes. Transfer bread to wire rack to finish cooling completely before slicing. Once ready to slice, serrated knife works best!
  10. HINT: Have a little leftover batter, but not enough to warrant a second can? Blob leftovers onto a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, spread 3/8-1/4 inch thick, and bake 8-10 minutes at 350 F. It makes a tasty flatbread.

Serve bread slices with your favorite nut butters or spreads, use for tiny finger sandwiches, or slice thick and dish up along with a warm cup of soup. Would be delicious served with lox, mustard sauce, and capers. I think it should freeze well, so make a double batch and stash the extra loaf in the freezer for later. Nyde!


Approximate nutritional information:
Per loaf: 975 cal, 36 g fat, 145 g carbs, 22 g fiber, 30 g sugar, 30 g protein, 1,250 mg vitamin C (2083% daily value)

*If allergic to corn, make a baking powder substitute by combining 1 part arrowroot : 1 part baking soda : 1 part cream of tartar. Store in a well sealed glass jar and use in equal amounts to baking powder.

**Unbuffered vitamin C crystals make a great acid substitute for lemon juice or vinegar in recipes. According to The Allergy Self Help Cookbook, use 1/4 t unbuffered vitamin C crystals for each tablespoon on lemon juice. Marjorie suggests using vitamin C crystals equal to half the amount of baking soda. Look for vitamin C crystals, in powder form, in the vitamin department of your local health foods store or on many vitamin retail sites online, like this one.