Eat Your Veggies Lentil Soup (Gluten-Free with a Vegan Option)

by Allergy Free Kitchens on February 27, 2015

Lentil_Soup_Allergy_Free_KitchensMy husband and I embarked on Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living and Beyond in February, and then the craziest thing happened. After making the commitment and broadcasting it to family, friends, and clients that we were participating, I developed an abhorrence to salads. They were not at all appetizing to me. You know that weird, back of your throat kind of feeling when you’re about to get sick? Yep. That’s exactly what would happen when I thought of eating lettuce of any variety. Lovely. That said, in order to stay the course and eat my veggies, I needed an alternative.   Soup came to the rescue, namely this tasty little gluten-free (can be vegan) lentil soup number.

I used to be intimidated at the thought of cooking dried lentils, but I’ve found it rather simple and such a great value. You really do get more for your money without sacrificing a lot of time. Add in a store like Aldi nearby and it’s a total win!

The Aldi near our home carries organic options for most of the ingredients in this soup. In addition to their organic produce, I used these options from their Simply Nature line:

  • Organic Vegetable Broth (when making the vegan version)
  • Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
  • Organic Diced Tomatoes
  • Organic Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Over the course of this frigid February, I’ve made this soup multiple times, vegan and not vegan, and I like both equally.

Today, as I feasted on a bowl of this deliciousness, I decided for my next batch I will whip up a side of herbed flat bread. Oh. My. Yum. I’m gonna have a happy tum!

Recipe:  Eat Your Veggies Lentil Soup (Gluten-Free with a Vegan Option)

Easily serves 4-6.


1 tbsp coconut oil (You can use olive oil or another oil of choice.)

3 stalks of celery, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 cups diced and peeled tomatoes (You can substitute a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes. The fire-roasted variety gives a nice flavor.)

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed

4 – 5 cups broth, vegetable or chicken (I use 4 cups because I prefer a heartier consistency.)


Add the oil to your stock pot and heat over medium-high heat. Carefully add the chopped onion, celery, carrots and pepper and sauté until the onions are translucent in color. Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt, cumin, coriander, and lentils.  Slowly add in 4 cups of broth, and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil. Place the lid on your stock pot, reduce your heat to low, and let the soup cook for 30-45 minutes. That’s it. Simple, huh?

Now if you’re like me and prefer a creamy textured soup over a broth soup, get your blender out. I simply blend about one-third to one-half of the soup right in the stock pot with my immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can ladle some of the soup into your countertop blender, blend for 30 seconds, and return it to the stock pot.  Note:  Always use caution when blending hot liquids and follow the manufacturers instructions.

If you find the soup is too thick for your liking, thin it with more broth.  Start in ¼ cup increments until your desired consistency is achieved.

You can dress up your lentil soup with a variety of toppings. Some of my favorites include just a simple drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or a sprinkle of chopped parsley with a dash (or two) of crushed red pepper.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.  🙂

A note from Allergy Free Kitchens:

As with any recipe, please be sure you use ingredients deemed safe for your dietary restrictions and always read labels, even if you’ve used the products before. What’s safe for some isn’t always safe for all.

This is not a sponsored post. All of the products mentioned are products I purchase and use in my home.


Recipe for Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan Protein Bars

by Allergy Free Kitchens on January 25, 2015

Gluten_Free_Soy_Free_Vegan_Protein_BarsMy husband and I are taking the month of February and committing to eat for health and not just to fill our bellies.  To be successful at it, I know I have to be on top of menu planning and food prep.  Our biggest weakness? Snacks.  My hubs is a potato chip junkie and I can make a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) out of chips and salsa.  Since corn and white potatoes are not part of the program we are participating in, I had to get to work developing recipes to satisfy the snack attacks.  First up, yummy gluten-free, soy-free, vegan protein bars my whole family enjoys.

These little lovelies were inspired by my affinity for carrot cake, but they are so much healthier than the real deal.  Unlike traditional carrot cake recipes that call for refined sugar, these bars are sweetened with pureed carrots and raw coconut nectar.  To keep them moist, I used organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil.  And to give these bars a nutritional boost, I included vegan protein powder, powdered fiber, and flaxseed meal.

And here’s something really neat about this recipe.  You can make these bars two different ways by simply varying the baking times.  The bars in the photo were baked for 20 minutes which yielded a more fragile texture (think brownies) and that delicious carrot cake flavor.  If you bake the bars for 30 minutes, it yields a cookie bar texture that travels well and tastes like gingerbread.

Ready to give them a try?  Here you go!

Recipe for Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan Protein Bars

Yields approximately 16-20 squares.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8X8 baking dish with parchment paper.  Allow the parchment paper to overhang the pan by about an inch so you can easily remove the bars from the pan when they are finished cooking.

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (I use Aldi’s Simply Nature Organic, Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil.)

1/4 cup raw coconut nectar (I use Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Nectar.)

1/2 cup pureed carrots (I peeled and chopped 2 medium-sized carrots and tossed them in the food processor.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup certified gluten-free oat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Steel Cut Oats and grind them into flour in my food processor.)

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal.)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup vanilla protein shake powder (I use Arbonne Essentials Vanilla Protein Powder.)

2 tablespoons powdered fiber (I use Arbonne Essentials Daily Fiber Boost.)

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients (coconut oil, coconut nectar, carrots, vanilla) and stir until evenly distributed.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (gluten-free oat flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, protein powder, fiber).  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into the lined baking pan and use a rubber spatula to make sure the batter is evenly distributed.  Bake for 20-22 minutes for a moist brownie-like texture.  Bake for 28-30 minutes for a cookie bar texture.

When finished baking, remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Then, using the parchment paper overhang, lift the bars out of the pan and set on a cooling rack to cool.  Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting.  Be sure to use a sharp, clean knife when cutting.  A dull knife may tear them, much like it would tear brownies.



A note from Allergy Free Kitchens:

As with any recipe, please be sure you use ingredients deemed safe for your dietary restrictions and always read labels, even if you’ve used the products before.  What’s safe for some isn’t always safe for all.

This is not a sponsored post.  All of the products mentioned are products I purchased and use in my home.  


I am an Arbonne Independent Consultant (ID #21126643).  Their product lines (nutrition, bath and body, skin care, and cosmetics) are vegan and formulated without gluten which makes them the right fit for my family’s needs.  


Holiday Pumpkin Bars (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

by Allergy Free Kitchens on November 16, 2014

Holiday_Pumpkin_Bars_Allergy_Free_KitchensIt’s good to be back at Allergy Free Kitchens.  I’ve missed spending time in the kitchen creating gluten-free, allergy-friendly dishes and treats.  Today, I am sharing with you a super simple recipe for semi-homemade holiday pumpkin bars.  Did I mention they’re vegan too?

I can’t take all the credit.  My friends at Let Them Eat Foods sent me two packages of their pumpkin bread mix to try – yay!  With the success I had with their banana bread mix, I was eager to give this mix a whirl.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  Although the recipe on the package calls for egg, I successfully replaced the egg with flax gel.  With one package I made three mini-loaves of pumpkin bread that were gobbled up in no time.  With the other package, this scrumptious dessert emerged.

Here’s how to make these Holiday Pumpkin Bars (Vegan & Gluten-Free):

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Allow the parchment paper to drape over the ends of the cookie sheet by an inch or two (enough to grab to lift the finished product out of the pan when finished baking).

Prepare the Let Them Eat Foods Pumpkin Bread Mix per the package instructions, with one exception – omit the egg called for and replace it with flax gel.  (Flax gel:  To 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed add 3 tablespoons of piping hot water, whisk together until a gel forms, then add the gel to the recipe as you would the egg.)

Once your batter is nice and smooth, pour it onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread the batter evenly with a spatula to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Don’t worry if there’s not enough batter to reach the edges of the cookie sheet.  The goal is to achieve the proper thickness.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  It should spring back when touched and the edges will be golden brown.  Allow it to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then grasp the parchment paper to lift it out of the cookie sheet and onto a rack to cool.

Once cooled, top it with your favorite vanilla or vegan cream cheese frosting and dried cranberries.  Sprinkle with a touch of powdered sugar and you’re all set with a beautiful dessert to dress up your holiday buffet.

Want another idea for Let Them Eat Foods pumpkin bread mix?

Prepare the bread on a parchment lined cookie sheet as noted above.  Once it has cooled, slice it into squares, top with your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream, place another pumpkin bread square on top, wrap in parchment paper and freeze.  It’s a holiday take on a fun favorite – the ice cream sandwich.  Yum!

I encourage you to visit Let Them Eat Foods to see the variety of products they offer, find out how and where you can purchase them, and review their allergen information to determine if they fit your dietary restrictions. Please note the following statement provided by Let Them Eat Foods: “Allergen contamination is something we take very seriously. We therefore do our best to post allergen information for our source ingredients on our website. All of our products currently use the same GF flour, which is manufactured in a facility that also uses tree nuts and soy.”

Livin’ the free life,


Disclosure: As stated in this post, I was provided with two packages of Let Them Eat Foods Pumpkin Bread Mix to sample and review. The views shared are my honest opinions.



Our semi-homemade series continues with gluten-free, Top 8 Free, all natural, non-GMO products from Namaste Foods.  They so kindly provided me with three products to make and review.  The dish pictured above was made with Namaste Foods Pasta Pisavera Dinner.  Yum!


When the package arrived, I was most interested in trying the Namaste Barbecue Seasoned Coating Mix.  The box contains two packets of seasoning and two shaker bags.  One packet alone provided plenty of seasoning to generously cover four large chicken breasts.  Once the coating was on, I placed the chicken atop a rack on a baking pan (this allowed air to circulate around the chicken).  I then popped the chicken in the pre-heated oven and cooked it according to package instructions.  Easy peasey.  When finished, the chicken had quite a vibrant brick red hue, which complimented our vegetables quite nicely.  When the moment of truth came and we sliced into our chicken, we found it tender, juicy, and full of flavor.  Although I’m a sweet and spicy barbecue kind of gal, this more savory version was a nice change of pace.  The coating doesn’t crisp up like breaded chicken breasts will do, so if you are looking for crispy chicken, you may want to consider adding the seasoning packet to your breading and baking it up that way.

Next, I tried Namaste Foods Muffin Mix.  In all fairness, the package instructions call for egg, which we avoid at the moment, so I used my standard egg replacer (flax gel).  The muffins turned out dense and didn’t cook through, despite an extended baking time.  The flavor was good, so I plan to give it another go.  When I do, I’ll be sure to update the post.  If you’ve made these successfully without egg, please share in the comments below.  🙂

Our favorite product from the review was the Namaste Foods Pasta Pisavera Dinner.  As suggested on the package, we made some additions.  I seeded and chopped one large yellow bell pepper, one large red bell pepper, and four roma tomatoes.  I drizzled them all with olive oil, tossed to coat, and topped them with a sprinkling of half of the seasoning packet that came with the dinner.  I roasted them in my oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.  While the peppers and roma tomatoes roasted, I prepared the pasta according to package directions.  When the pasta was cooked and the peppers and tomatoes were done, I tossed them all together, topped it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and finished with a twist or two of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Delicious.

If you’ve not tried Namaste Foods products, I encourage you to visit their website to view the 23 Top 8 Allergen Free and Gluten-Free products they have to offer.  You can also enter below for your chance to try Namaste Foods for free!  They are offering one lucky winner a Namaste Foods Giveaway Tote.

Here’s what the winner will receive:

  • 3 Namaste Foods Products (Nice!)
  • Simple Pleasures Cookbook (I heart cookbooks, especially those geared to help me navigate a special diet.)
  • A copy of Living Without Magazine (This magazine was a big help when we first went gluten and allergen-free.)
  • Assorted Recipe Cards (So many great ideas for ways to use Namaste Foods products.)
  • Namaste Grocery Tote (So you can shop like a boss!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing you the best of luck!

– Wendy

Disclosure:  As stated in this post, Namaste Foods provided me with the three products listed and photographed above for the purpose of using them and sharing my opinions with you.  The views shared are my honest experiences and opinions. 


{ 1 comment }

Moist & Delicious Allergy-Friendly Banana Bread From a Mix? Yes!

by Allergy Free Kitchens on July 8, 2014


Our summer of semi-homemade dishes with allergy-friendly products continues with this delicious banana bread mix from Let Them Eat Foods out of Illinois.  I met the team from Let Them Eat Foods at the 2014 Chicago Gluten & Allergen Free Expo and they kindly gave me a bag of their banana bread mix to make and review.  I would later discover what they gave me was a real treat.  Yes, it is possible to get a moist and delicious allergy-friendly banana bread from a mix.

Let it be known, all banana bread mixes and recipes I try are held to a standard.  If the end result can’t compete with my mom’s gluten, egg, and dairy-filled version, they’re out.  Anything that doesn’t taste like hers just isn’t banana bread to me.

I’ve tried making my mom’s recipe using alternate ingredients and (no surprise here) I’ve never quite hit it.  I’ve tried different recipes and mixes and my husband’s reaction is almost always the same, “It’s good, but I don’t really taste banana.”  Ugh!  Sometimes a spice in the mix or recipe overpowered it.  Sometimes the flour blend hijacked the flavor.  It just wasn’t right.

As you might imagine, I was a bit apprehensive when I began to whip up the banana bread mix from Let Them Eat Foods.  The instructions call for egg, so I knew I was already veering off the path of tried and true.  To keep our bread vegan, I simply omitted egg altogether and used another 1/2 of a banana pureed and mixed with 1 tsp of baking powder instead.  I also opted to bake the bread in three mini-loaf pans.  I’ve found that to be helpful when baking gluten-free breads without eggs.  (With my oven and pans, my mini-loaves are typically done in 30 – 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  If you’ve not used mini-loaf pans before, I would begin checking your loaves at 25 minutes.)

When the loaves were finished and had cooled to warm, I did a little something I learned from my mom.  I rubbed a little bit of Earth Balance Buttery Spread (she uses real butter) on the top of the loaves and wrapped them tight in plastic wrap to finish cooling.  The result was heavenly.

Finally, we have a banana bread that ranks right up there with my mom’s, but with the ease of a mix.  Ah, semi-homemade saves the day.

This banana bread is scrumptious on its own, but if you want to do a little something fancy, try this:

  • Preheat a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Slice the bread to 1/2  thickness.
  • Lightly spread both sides of each slice with a buttery spread of your choice.
  • Place the bread in the preheated pan until the sugars caramelize and the edges get a bit crisp.  Flip the bread over and do the same to the other side.
  • Remove the bread from the pan and plate each slice.
  • Top each warm slice with your favorite allergy-friendly vanilla ice cream.
  • Enjoy!

I encourage you to visit Let Them Eat Foods to see the variety of products they offer, find out how and where you can purchase their products, and review their allergen information to determine if their products fit your dietary restrictions.  Please note the following statement provided by Let Them Eat Foods:  “Allergen contamination is something we take very seriously.  We therefore do our best to post allergen information for our source ingredients on our website.  All of our products currently use the same GF flour, which is manufactured in a facility that also uses tree nuts and soy.”

Have you tried Let Them Eat Foods products?  Let me know what your favorites are and what semi-homemade dishes you make with them. 🙂

Livin’ the free life,


Disclosure:  As stated in this post, I was provided with a package of Let Them Eat Foods Banana Bread Mix to review.  The views shared are my honest opinions.