Category Archives: Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Side Dishes

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan

The kale craze isn’t over yet, right? Okay, good, because I have a great recipe for you today!

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

This spicy braised kale is everything you want in a side dish: quick, easy, and extremely healthy!

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

All you need is kale, extra-virgin olive oil, chicken or vegetable broth, red pepper flakes, and parmesan. I bet you already have a majority of that in your pantry, right?

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

This is a great way to eat kale for those of you who struggle to digest it. It is no news that kale leaves are extremely tough, making it very difficult for our stomachs to break down. However, when you braise kale in liquid, like in this recipe, the leaves become soft, and thus a lot easier on our bellies.

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

The first time I made this braised kale, I ate it on its own (yes, it was that good!) I know it would be a delicious side dish served with my grilled skirt steak or roasted chicken.

 

Spicy Braised Kale with Parmesan Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ lb. Tuscan kale, torn and stems removed
  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ⅛ cup shaved parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil. Once hot, add the kale in batches (adding an additional handful every 20 seconds or so). Cook until kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth to the pan, reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for about 12 minutes until the kale is tender and almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer the kale to a serving dish. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parmesan. Add a small amount of salt and pepper to taste.
 

Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks Vegan

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

As promised,  today I’m sharing a very simple recipe for homemade pomegranate molasses. Some of you have reached out asking where to buy bottled pomegranate molasses, and admittedly, not all grocery stores carry it – not even all Whole Foods.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

Recently my go-to Whole Foods was out of it, so I considered making my own but assumed the process would be a hassle. After a quick internet search, I discovered making homemade pomegranate molasses was so easy! The only ingredients required are pomegranate juice, granulated sugar and fresh lemon juice, and luckily I had all three in my fridge and pantry at the time.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

Now for those of you who have seen pomegranate molasses listed as an ingredient in some of my recipes, such as Muhammara and this Pomegranate Molasses Dressing, and thought it was silly to buy a bottle (or make your own!) for just one recipe – you’re wrong! Pomegranate Molasses is so versatile. I use it in sauces for poultry dishes, dips, salad dressing, and so much more. The flavor is so unique, adding a sweet and tangy component to any dish.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

If you follow this recipe, your homemade pomegranate molasses will stay in the fridge for at least 6 months. I made this batch less than three weeks ago and I am almost out already. Yes, it’s THAT good!

 

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture has reduced to ½ cup, 40-45 minutes. It should be the consistency of thick syrup.
  3. Remove the molasses from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 20 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator.
 

Breakfast Gluten-Free

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Frittata

Hi guys! Happy Friday! This week fleeeewww by for me, and I am more than ready for the weekend. Besides a date night with Travis and a friend’s birthday, we don’t have too many plans, so I am really looking forward to just relaxing on the couch for a few hours.

I thew together this incredibly delicious breakfast frittata last weekend with ingredients we just had in our fridge. It was the perfect morning fuel to get us ready for our Saturday workout. This frittata is PACKED with protein from eggs and mozzarella, and if you serve it with a slice of whole wheat toast, it’s the ideal balanced breakfast.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Frittata Recipe

I love frittatas because they look impressive, but they are honestly SO easy to make (this one came together in under 15 minutes). Frittatas are also a great way to use up any leftover ingredients in your fridge; almost anything tastes good: roasted red pepper and goat cheese, kale and cherry tomatoes, sausage and leeks, and so on!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Frittata Recipe

As soon as I took one bite of this frittata, I said to Travis that the flavor combination tasted just like a pizza. Yeah, it was that good. Try this recipe this weekend, and if you don’t have these exact ingredients, just follow the cooking method below. You’ll be sure to love it!

 

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Frittata
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 3 whole eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 3 Tablespoons milk (I used 1%, but any kind will do)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅛ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes*, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 3-4 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, torn
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Turn the oven on to BROIL. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, egg whites and milk. Season with ⅛ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  2. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and once hot, add the onion, sun-dried tomato, and roasted red peppers. Saute for about 3 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and allow to cook for about 30 seconds. You can slowly push the mixture around if you need to spread out the veggies. Add in the basil and place the sliced mozzarella over the eggs. Make sure to NOT cook the eggs completely - they should still look wet.
  3. Place the pan in the oven on the top rack and broil on HIGH for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 minute before serving.
Notes
*If sun-dried tomatoes are packed in oil, then rinse them of excess oil.
 

Gluten-Free Snacks Vegan

Pumpkin Hummus

Clearly I am hooked on making dips right now because today I bring you the most delicious Pumpkin Hummus recipe.

Pumpkin Hummus Recipe

If you’re one of those people obsessed with pumpkin-EVERYTHING as soon as fall hits, you’re going to love this hummus. Even if you’re not, I bet you’ll think this Pumpkin Hummus is A++++ (if I do say so myself).

The pumpkin flavor is faint, but you still definitely know it’s there. The addition of cumin and paprika give this hummus a nice punch of spice.

Pumpkin Hummus Recipe

Bessie REALLY wanted love and attention while I was making this, so I plopped her on one of the dining room chairs, looking into the kitchen.

Bessie Chair

There was something about sitting where “the humans” sit that made her extra content. She settled in and slept on the chair until I was done cooking.

It’s been almost a year since Travis and I first picked her up from the vet to foster her (we only officially adopted her this past July). We have no clue when her birthday is, so we decided we will celebrate it (yes, we’re those people) on the day in January when we first brought her home. The vets estimate that she is 7-8 years old, but we just like to pretend she is only 2, and hope that she lives a loooooooong time.

OK, back to hummus.

Pumpkin Hummus Recipe

Some of you will have all of the ingredients for this hummus in your pantry already. It is very easy to whip up and it lasts in the fridge for about a week. I made a double batch of this hummus for a holiday party, but at the last minute I wasn’t able to attend, so Travis and I ate A LOT of hummus that week. We loved it so much, not a bite of it was wasted!

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Hummus
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, skins removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth (about 30 seconds), scraping down the sides as needed. Serve with whole wheat pita and veggie sticks.
 

Gluten-Free Snacks

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

I love eating tapas-style because that way I get to try small bites of many different things. More and more restaurants are offering shared small plates instead of larger dishes, and it is always my preference to order this way, as opposed to getting my own entree. This is probably why I always look forward to snacking at the appetizer table during the holiday season – lots and lots of delicious nibbles to try. Although, I will admit, it is very hard for me to exercise self-control with such a variety in front of me, and I often fill up before the main meal. Oops.

Unfortunately, we all know that a delicious spread of cheeses, breads, crackers, and other bite-sized goodies can often be our winter-diet downfall. So many of these appetizers are calorie-heavy and high in fat. Sure, they taste mighty good, but they aren’t the healthiest option.

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip Recipe

So when Chobani contacted me about creating a recipe for their #MadeWithChobani campaign, I knew right away I wanted to create a healthy appetizer for the holiday season. I cook and bake with greek yogurt a lot. I especially love using yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream in dips. You get that creamy, tangy taste without all of the unnecessary fat and calories. Plus, when you add greek yogurt to any recipe, you give it a great boost in protein!

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip Recipe

If you like sun-dried tomatoes, you are going to love this dip. I had all the ingredients in my fridge and chances are you do, too! This recipe requires only four ingredients and comes together in under five minutes, so it is perfect if you are pinched for time!

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip Recipe

We chowed down on this dip with baked pita chips and carrots sticks. It would also be delicious with sliced bell peppers and warm whole wheat pita. Bring this to your next holiday gathering and people will be begging you for the recipe.

 

I was asked by Chobani to participate in their #MadeWithChobani campaign. This recipe as well as all opinions stated are my own. 

 

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • 1 cup Chobani nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil (drained)
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl mash the feta crumbles. Stir in the greek yogurt, olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita chips, veggie crudites, or warm pita bread.
 

Gluten-Free Snacks Vegan

Maple Chili Popcorn

I remember growing up, every holiday season my dad would receive a massive tub of popcorn from work. The tub was divided into three delicious flavors: butter, caramel, and cheese. Given that I’ve always had a sweet tooth, the caramel was my favorite – I could eat myself sick with that stuff.

Maple Chili Popcorn Recipe

Now that I try to keep a (much) healthier diet, snacks like that caramel popcorn don’t typically make it into our apartment. Travis, in particular, loves to munch on popcorn while watching TV (he always makes his own on the stove as opposed to buying the microwaveable kinds). So this popcorn recipe comes from a desire to please both mine and Travis’ taste buds: sweet for me and savory for him.

Maple Chili Popcorn Recipe

This Maple Chili Popcorn takes less than 10 minutes to make, so you really have no excuse not to try it 😉 I realize that you may not have popcorn kernels on hand, but this recipe is way healthier than any packaged variety, so it is certainly worth buying the kernels to pop yourself.

Maple Chili Popcorn Recipe

This popcorn is a very good balance between sweet and spicy – neither of the flavors overpowers the other. Of course, if you prefer maple or spice, feel free to adjust the flavors to your liking.

Maple Chili Popcorn Recipe

Be prepared to share – this stuff is addicting!

 

Maple Chili Popcorn
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a small microwaveable bowl, mix the maple syrup, butter, cayenne and salt. Microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds, or until the butter is melted. Stir and set aside.
  2. Heat a large pot with a lid over medium high heat. Add the canola oil and once hot, add the popcorn kernels. Place the lid over the pot and shake repeatedly. You should hear the kernels beginning to pop. Place the pot down on the stove and after a few more seconds, shake again. Repeat for about 1 minute. Once you begin to hear a 1-2 second pause between each pop, turn off the heat. Shake the pot again.
  3. Remove the lid and pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Pour the maple mixture over the popcorn and mix well. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then serve. Adjust seasonings to taste.
 

Gluten-Free Snacks Vegan

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa

In an effort to clean out my fridge this weekend, I created this INCREDIBLE strawberry and avocado salsa. Travis and I love making a mango-avocado salsa to serve on top of tilapia or halibut, but strawberries were the only fruit I had left in the fridge this time. In all honesty, the strawberries I had on hand were a little too ripe (borderline squishy), but I knew it wouldn’t matter for a salsa. Heck, you’re mashing up everything anyway, right!?

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa Recipe

I tried to utilize every flavor of summer I had left in my fridge, mixing in cilantro, lime, and scallions. I took one bite of the final product and LOVED it. I served it to Travis (who was engrossed with Sunday afternoon football) with a big bowl of multi-grain tortilla chips and by the time I came back at least half of the salsa was gone! So yeah…it’s THAT good. He told me it was almost a waste to eat it with chips because it tastes so “fancy,” so next time I am going to make it with grilled chicken for the perfect weeknight dinner.

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa Recipe

This is one recipe you gotta try!

 

Strawberry and Avocado Salsa
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries (I chopped each strawberry into about 6-8 pieces)
  • ½ medium avocado, diced into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced, green parts only
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno, seeds removed (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1.5 Tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients besides the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chips or with grilled chicken.
 

Gluten-Free Snacks

Nut Butter Protein Bites

When I tell people that I work out at 5AM every morning before work, they usually tell me that I’m nuts. While that may be partially true, I’ve found that it really works with my schedule and I love the feeling of having my workout completed before most people are even waking up!

I won’t lie, it definitely took me a few weeks to make it a habit and find the perfect routine. My biggest tip for anyone who is daring to join the 5AM Workout Club is to prepare everything the night before. For me this means laying out my gym clothes, headphones, watch, and water bottle. Heck, I even unlace my sneakers! That way I can just get up and GO and there is very little time for me to make an excuse to go back to bed. Trust me, the longer you spend trying to find your socks and sports bra in the wee hours of the morning, the more time there is to convince yourself that your bed looks way more inviting.

When I first started this routine I worked out on an empty stomach. I was never hungry as soon as I woke up, so I would just eat after my workout. I started experimenting with eating a little something before I got to the gym and I found it made a big difference – much more than I thought it would. Even half a banana or one of these delicious nut butter protein bites makes me feel a little bit better and provides me with enough energy to complete a great workout.

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe

I started experimenting with protein bites because I didn’t want to eat an entire bar before my workout. I’ve played around with the recipe a lot in order to get the right texture and taste. I think they’re perfect now!

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Every bite contains a solid dose of fiber, healthy fats, and protein! Even better? They’re gluten-free, so they are great for those of you who try to avoid gluten in your diets!

Nut Butter Protein Bites Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

I hope you love these little nut butter protein bites as much as I do. I’ve already finished this current batch, so I think the next time around I am going to experiment with different ingredients such as raisins, dried cranberries, and chocolate protein powder. Do you guys have any other yummy ideas?

 

Nut Butter Protein Bites
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 8-10 bites
Ingredients
  • ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • ⅛ cup vanilla protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ cup almond butter
  • ⅛ cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1-2 teaspoons water (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, chia seeds, protein powder, and cinnamon. In a smaller microwave-safe bowl, combine the almond butter, peanut butter, and honey. Microwave for 15-20 seconds or until the mixture can be easily stirred. Pour the nut butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. If you are finding the mixture difficult to stir, add one teaspoon of water and continue mixing. Repeat if necessary*.
  2. Roll the mixture into 8-10 bite-sized balls. Store in the fridge in a sealed container.
Notes
*Avoid adding too much water because this will give the bites a gummy texture
 

Gluten-Free Salads

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Basil.

Basil. Basil. Basil.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasil! Just a small whiff of this delightful herb makes me so darn happy. Doesn’t it just remind you of summer? If I could, I would probably put fresh basil on everything. Yes, even in sweet treats! Have you ever had strawberry-basil ice cream? It is INCREDIBLE.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

I purchased a large bunch of fresh basil at Whole Foods this weekend with the intention of using it in a summer pasta dish this week. Luckily, I had so much extra so I was able to experiment a bit with a basil vinaigrette. We eat a lot of salads in our house, so we like to change up the dressings fairly regularly to prevent eating the same thing all the time.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

I’ve always loved the combination of tomato + basil + mozzarella + balsamic, so I knew those flavors would make a delicious vinaigrette (minus the mozzarella, of course….that would be weird). I never thought to put tomatoes in a vinaigrette before, but we had a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes sitting on our counter, so I thought, “Why not?” and just went for it.

The result? A serious winner!

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

This dressing is slightly chunky, so you end up with delicious tastes of basil and tomato in every bite. I served it with a simple salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, and feta, but I think it would taste great with almost anything you can throw together!

 

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons shallot, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Instructions
  1. In a mini food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, basil, shallot, garlic, dijon, balsamic, and honey. Blend for about 30 seconds. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender half way through and continue blending. Add the olive oil and blend for about 10 more seconds or until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
 

Gluten-Free Grilling Side Dishes

Grilled Romaine with Lemon and Parmesan

Chances are you’ll be grilling this weekend, am I right? So why not grill something a little outside the box…something that is sure to please everyone’s tastebuds: grilled romaine!

The first time I tried grilled romaine was in Philadelphia during college. The food scene in Philly is incredible and I feel so lucky that I got to experience it for four years. I actually think Philadelphia was a BIG influence on my passion for food and cooking, as it constantly encouraged me to try new cuisines and flavors.

My first grilled romaine experience was at a tiny BYOB restaurant on South St. in Philly. The romaine was a special on the menu that night and the waitress urged us to try it.  I have to admit, I was hesitant at first. Why would you grill lettuce? Wouldn’t that make it wilt or burn? Ooooooooh boy, was I wrong! It was simply incredible – charred to perfection and unlike anything I’ve ever had.

Grilled Romaine with Lemon and Parmesan Recipe

Surprisingly, I haven’t had grilled romaine since that one experience in Philly. This weekend Travis and I were at Whole Foods browsing the many Fourth of July specials. There were large bunches of organic romaine on sale, so we grabbed one and threw it into our shopping cart. All of a sudden I had flashbacks to that incredible grilled romaine from college, and I knew I had to recreate it that night.

This healthy side dish couldn’t be easier! If your romaine comes with extra leafy greens on the outside, simply pull those off and save them for a salad later in the week.  Slice the romaine heart in half and brush each half with extra-virgin olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and throw them on the grill for about 3 minutes total.  Without blinking an eye, you have a very low calorie side dish in a matter of minutes! I decided to add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese for added flavor, but the romaine is simply delicious on it’s own, too.

Grilled Romaine with Lemon and Parmesan Recipe

We paired our romaine with juicy grilled steak, but it would be great with burgers, chicken, fish, or whatever else you are grilling up this weekend! So easy and healthy!

 

Grilled Romaine with Lemon and Parmesan
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 Large head of romaine lettuce
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan (grated or shredded)
Instructions
  1. If your romaine has extra loose leaves on the top and outer layers, remove these leaves and save them for a salad or another use. Rinse the romaine well, making sure to remove any dirt. Cut the romaine in half, vertically.
  2. Place the romaine pieces flat side down on a large cutting board. Brush the rounded backs of the romaine with olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Flip over and repeat on the other side.
  3. Grill the romaine on three separate sides (like a triangle): first, place the romaine flat side down on a hot grill in direct heat. After about 1 minute, turn the romaine so it lays on half of the rounded side and grill for an additional minute. Complete on the final part of the curved side. Be careful - the romaine cooks quickly so do not walk away from the grill during this process.
  4. Remove the romaine from the grill and place it on a large serving platter. Squeeze the lemon juice over the romaine and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve immediately.