Friday, September 30, 2016

Butternut Squash Parmesan


I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy butternut squash, especially when it's in season and plentiful in the fall. This Butternut Parmesan casserole is simple and unique. I would have never thought that cheese would pair well with the squash! But it really does!

I got the idea from Trader Joe's. They sell a frozen Butternut Squash Parmesan package,  but its not gluten free. The other day when I was shopping, they were offering taste samples. Everyone was raving. So, I thought I would try to make my own gluten free version. I looked at their ingredients to get some ideas. I was happy with my final product. I'll never know if it tastes anything like the one at TJ's.

Butternut squash is a low fat vegetable that is rich in Vitamin A ( good for the eyes), has more potassium than a banana per cup, provides a fair amount of fiber, Vitamin B-6 and other vitamins and minerals as well. It's a healthy vegetable to add additional nutrients to a gluten free diet.

I've already received 3 butternut squash from my CSA farm. I usually bake my whole squashes so I don't have to peel them.  I also make Apple Cider Glazed Butternut Squash,
and of course I also make soup- some savory, some sweet- like my Butternut Apple Soup or my 

This time I decided to try something totally different. I peeled and cut my squash into cubes, tossed it in some vanilla extract and three different cheeses: Parmesan, Gruyere, and Swiss. I also thought about topping it with my almond and coconut sugar topping before I baked it but forgot- maybe next time.  See below for the nut crunch topping recipe if you would like to use it.

Shortcut: If you do not want to peel and cut your own butternut, Trader Joe's ( and other places) sells packages of cubed butternut squash. You will need 6 cups or 2 packages from Trader Joe's.

OMG- the aroma of the vanilla with the squash was amazing when I removed it from the oven! 

It's a light delicious side dish that is sure to please any butternut squash lover!

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 15 minutes if peeling squash, 2 minutes if buying squash precut
Steaming Time: 15 minutes
Bake time : 15-20 minutes
If you buy precut squash, the entire process with baking is half hour-


6 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract
3/4-1 cup of freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4- 1 cup of Gruyere and Swiss shredded cheese combo ( from Trader Joe's) 
Optional: nut crunch topping ( see recipe below) 


Using a steaming basket steam the butternut squash until tender. Remove from pot and place in a deep bowl. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss the steamed butternut squash with vanilla extract until well coated. Then toss in the cheeses and mix well.  Place the mixture in a deep baking dish. If you are going to use the nut topping sprinkle on top now. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble. 
Serve immediately. 

Nut Crunch Topping: 
Ingredients for the topping: 
1/2  cup of raw almonds
1/4 coconut sugar ( available in health food stores) it looks and acts like brown sugar but is lower in carbs.

Place the raw almonds in a food processor . Process on an off bursts until the nuts become chopped small ( about 3 bursts).  Place in a bowl and toss in the coconut sugar. Sprinkle on top of the casserole before the final baking.

Steam the squash using a steaming basket

If you prefer, you could roast your squash instead of steaming.

Sweet, aromatic, and delicious- probably even better with the nut crunch topping!


1. You could steam your squash or 
2. Roast your squash in the oven at 400 degrees. ( Toss in some olive oil first-) until squash is tender. Then assemble and bake until cheese is bubbly.
3. This freezes well 
4. The vanilla is subtle but really adds something - don't omit it
5. If roasting the squash, you could toss the squash in some olive oil and rosemary before roasting-

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vegan Stuffed Grape Leaves

Sephardic Jews traditionally serve stuffed foods for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) such as these delicious stuffed grape leaves. I use a simple vegan filling that is also gluten free. It's easy once you get the hang of the rolling, and it's such a delicious lemony delight!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chilled Tomato Soup Shooters

Bring on the party with these delicious tomato soup shooters!
Served at room temperature or chilled, these shooters are the great way to get any party or meal started and they are one of the best tomato soups ever! 

With just 5 ingredients, preparation is a breeze! The recipe meets my criteria for health, ease, convenience and taste. It's made from real food, is naturally gluten free, and vegan.

In addition, it makes a fun presentation and can be served without heating- a real plus when you are trying to juggle last minute details for a dinner party!

A shooter is just the right amount of soup for a big meal. Who wants to fill up on the soup when you have a full meal coming?? And you really get to enjoy the exceptional flavor when you are limiting the quantity.

Get Creative
Or you might want to serve them as part of your appetizers at a party or other gathering! Paired with some cheese and crackers, it's delicious! You could also top the shooters with some fresh salsa, a touch of tabasco, some chopped cilantro, or a celery stick. Personally, I like mine plain without any garnish!

A tasty broth is key
I used organic cherry tomatoes, organic red and white onions, garlic, olive oil, Himalayan salt and vegetable broth. The key is to use a really tasty vegetable broth.

For this soup, I used Tabatchnick vegetable broth. It has a great flavor and really enhances the flavor of the tomatoes and onions. I get it at the regular supermarket. It sometimes is found in the Jewish food section. 

In addition, I roasted the tomatoes with the onions and garlic to bring out the sweetest flavor of the vegetables. When the vegetables finished roasting, I allowed them to cool. Then I blended them in my Vitamix with 4 cups of vegetable broth. 

Depending on the size of your shooter container, you should get a minimum of 12-15 shooters per batch. 

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Roasting Time : 45 minutes
Blending Time: 3 minutes
Serves: About 12 shooters

1- 16 ounce package of organic cherry tomatoes
1 large juicy summer tomato, cut in quarters and then quarters again ( 8 pieces) 
4 cloves of fresh garlic ( I use 2 frozen garlic cubes from  Dorot ( found at Trader Joe or Supermarkets)
1 medium red onion, cut in half moons
1 medium yellow onion, cut in half moons 
1/4 cup olive oil ( or less)
Himalayan salt to taste
4 vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place a parchment paper on a cookie sheet
Toss the cherry tomatoes, summer tomato, garlic, and red and yellow onions in olive oil 
Place on parchment paper
Sprinkle with Himalayan salt to taste
Roast for 40-45 minutes until onions are slightly reddish
Remove vegetables from oven. 
Allow to cool. 
Place roasted vegetables with their juice into a strong blender like a Vitamix with 
4 cups of vegetable broth. 
Blend until completely blended. 
Store in a glass Mason Jar in the refrigerator until ready to serve
Divide between 12-15 shooters.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Roasted Carrot Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, & Cardamom

 I love ethnic spices, especially in soups. This roasted carrot soup is rich in warming spices of ginger, turmeric, and cardamom with a touch of cooling coconut milk. This easy soup is low in calories, low in fat, vegan, and and naturally gluten free ( like all my recipes) 

I received carrots, onions, and potatoes this week as part of my CSA farm share. I immediately started to think soup!

Roasted veggies make easy and flavorful soups
One of my favorite and easiest ways to make soup is to use roasted veggies as my base. I got the idea when I had a significant amount of vegetables in the refrigerator, and we were leaving for vacation. I needed to find a way to cook the veggies and freeze them. I decided to roast them all. The result was a deliciously tasty blend of incredibly flavorful veggies. 

My daughter in law Wendy said, " Why don't you just blend those roasted veggies in the Vitamix with vegetable broth." That's exactly what I did and to my surprise I ended up with a  quick and simple soup that tasted outstanding.

That is how I started using roasted vegetables as a base for my soups. Roasting vegetables brings out the veggie's sweetest flavor and adds a wonderful richness.  

It's is so easy too. 
To make this soup, I simply lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper, cut up my carrots into spears, sliced my potatoes, and sliced my onion. Tossed the trio in olive oil and Himalayan salt or sea salt, spread them on the lined cookie sheets and then baked at 400 for about 45 minutes until the veggies were done. While the veggies were roasting, I was free to do other things.

When the veggies were ready, I allowed them to cool, then tossed them into the Vitamix with 4 cups of flavorful vegetable broth and the spices. 

Spices add flavor, nutrients, & antioxidants 
If you like ginger, turmeric, and cardamom, you will love the intriguing taste of this light aromatic soup. There are many reasons to include spices in your cooking. Natural spices are very high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and vitamins. Unfortunately, processed foods often contain artificial flavoring and coloring which not only does not add to our health, those artificial products may actually interfere with our health. 

My husband gave the soup an A+ ( of course he loves all my soups) and ate it with leftover triple bean salad. it seemed like the perfect soup for the beginning of September.  

Author: Judee Algazi @Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Roasting Time: 45 minutes
Blender Time: 2 minutes

1 pound of carrots, sliced into large sticks
2 medium potatoes, sliced in thick rounds
2  large onions, sliced in thick half moons
1/8 cup of olive oil or olive oil spray
Himalayan or sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
4 cups of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or substitute graham masala ( different flavor) 
Optional: 1 Tablespoon of coconut milk added to each bowl

Directions for roasting
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
Slice the vegetables 
Place vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil . 
Distribute over the cookie sheets. 
OR place veggies on the cookie sheets and spray generously with olive oil spray ( if spraying, you will have to do this one more time after 20 minutes of roasting) 
Roast for 45-50 minutes until all veggies begin to be soft but roasted.
Remove and allow to cool. 

Directions for assembling soup: 

1. Place 2 cups of cooled roasted carrots, 1 cup of roasted onion, all of potatoes ( and any juice from roasting) into the Vitamix or strong blender. 

2. Add the turmeric, ginger, and cardamom ( or graham masala if you prefer) along with the vegetable broth. 

3. Process until smooth. 

4. Add to bowls and mix in 1 Tablespoon of coconut milk to each bowl and garnish with the leftover roasted carrots ( chop them to bite size) and onions which are caramelized from the roasting. 

5. This soup also tastes good chilled

 My notes: 
*** Personally, I really like this soup cold! Make it, refrigerate it, and eat it cold-. If you like hot soup, then by all means heat it up.

I like this soup with either seasoning- cardamom or graham masala. 

***I am defending my right to offer real food natural recipes that are naturally gluten free. If you are looking for substitutes for cookies, cake, crackers, breads etc - it is not the focus of the recipes on this blog. I feature naturally gluten free recipes that are health giving and promote a healthy gut!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Healthy Bean Salad In Under 10 Minutes

Thank you Shirley at Gluten Free Easily! I could't have asked for a more delicious, health conscious fast and easy recipe for dinner tonight. I just didn't feel like cooking, but needed something quick, yet healthy, for dinner. I found this quick bean salad that can be made in under 10 minutes on Shirley's blog. ( Another few minutes for the dressing)

This recipe has everything I love- chick peas, kidney beans, and black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped red peppers, cilantro optional. In addition, there is a homemade citrus dressing that enhances the recipe.

7 Reasons I love this recipe: 
1. No cooking involved
2. It's a quick and easy meal
3. Lot's of fresh summer produce
4. It's high in fiber and nutrients
5. It's vegan, gluten free, and allergy friendly
6. It can be made in advance
7. Makes a beautiful colorful presentation and tastes great

No cooking - Sometimes I just don't want to cook! It's already hot outside, so why heat up the kitchen.

Can be made in advance- make it in the morning, the night before, or just whip it up in 10 minutes before dinner. It will be easy and delicious no matter when you make it.

It's a meal- Beans are high in protein, so this salad can be eaten as an entree for a light dinner or if you want something more- make a baked sweet potato to go with it.

Fresh summer produce- summer tomatoes, red pepper, red onion are still really flavorful and plentiful- this salad gives you yet another way to use your summer produce from your CSA, farm stands, or your own back yard!

High in fiber and nutrients- Beans are not only high in protein, they are also very high in fiber. This recipe is a great way to include more healthy beans into your diet. In addition, the tomatoes, pepper, red onion, and cilantro add even more vitamins to the mix. I'd say this is a pretty nutrient dense salad.

It's vegan, allergy friendly, and gluten free- This salad is allergy friendly as well as healthy! Made from all real food ingredients, it meets gluten free, grain free,  egg free, and dairy free standards

Perfect recipe for company or a pot luck- This recipe is served at room temperature, so if you are having company or want to bring it to a pot luck, there is no need to worry about reheating when it's time to serve it. It also is allergy friendly making it a perfect choice for a pot luck!

Makes a great presentation- The finished product is colorful with the blacks, reds, and greens- it looks vibrant and inviting,

Pin it now -don't lose this recipe- I would classify this recipe as an under 10 minute recipe. This is a recipe you don't want to lose, so pin it right now to make next time for a pot luck or a fast dinner.

My notes:
** I buy organic canned beans that have no BPA in the cans
** If you have more time cook your own beans for the recipe
** I cook beans in the crock pot
** Eat over rice for a heartier meal ( buy frozen rice at Trader Joe's if don't want to cook)

Prep Time: 10 minutes for salad + 5 minutes for the homemade salad dressing
Cook Time: None
see recipe at : Gluten Free Easily

How to Make Great Guacamole

Thank you Vicki for this fabulous naturally gluten free recipe that is full of flavor and vegetables. Whenever we have a family get together, my good friend Vicki ( by request) always brings her homemade guacamole. For some reason, her guacamole is a crowd pleaser. Mine is usually good, but hers is actually great every time. I finally asked her for her recipe and am sharing it with you today.

A great guacamole recipe starts with a perfectly ripe avocado.
Choosing a ripe avocado can be tricky. Picking ripe avocados to use for guacamole reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Sometimes they are too soft,
sometimes they are too hard ,
but sometimes they are just right!

But how do you know? Here is how to pick a perfect avocado for guacamole. 

A Simple Trick to tell if an avocado is ripe

One simple way to tell if an avocado is ready to be used for making guacamole is to remove the stemThe stem will reveal the condition of the avocado flesh without having to open the avocado. 

1. If the stem comes off easily - the avocado is ripe- but is it too ripe?
2. Once you remove the stem, if under the stem, it appears white- it is perfect
3. If under the stem, it appears brown- the avocado is too ripe and probably will be brown inside and won't be usable. 

Now Let's Talk Health- 
Avocados are an important source of healthy fats that are really good for you. 
They are also high in fiber and loaded with vitamins. So, guacamole makes a tasty and healthy snack or appetizer at a party. Guacamole is allergy friendly as it is gluten free, dairy free, nut free, and egg free. 

Do You Like Cilantro? 
Vicki's guacamole recipe calls for cilantro. If you do not like cilantro , you can leave it out completely. Personally, I think it adds a great taste. 
However, I know there are those that hate it. 

Did you know that cilantro tastes like soap to some people? It actually is has to do with their genes. Some people are genetically predisposed for cilantro to taste funny to them. So, if you are one of the 14% of the population who just can't stand the taste of cilantro, there is a good reason!

The New York Times ran an article called, Cilantro Haters, It's Not Your Fault and 
The Huffington Post ran this article, Science Explains Why Cilantro Tastes Like Soap for Certain People  

How do you feel about cilantro? Do you love it or hate it

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: None

2 Haas type avocados, peeled and sliced. Need Help?  How to peel and cut an avocado
2-3 large organic tomatoes, diced
3-4 scallions, chopped 
1/2 bunch of organic cilantro, chopped
Himalayan Salt and Cracked pepper to taste
Juice of 1 large organic lime ( Trader Joe's sells them by the bag very economically) 

In a large bowl, mash the avocado, then add the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro. Add the juice of 1 large lime and mix gently. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. 

Optional: you could add some chopped up cucumber if you like

My notes: 
**If you are not sure how to peel and cut an avocado check out this link:  How to peel and cut an avocado
** If you make the guacamole in advance, place the avocado pit in the guacamole to keep it from turning color.

I'm linking this post to my list of weekly blog carnival