Coconut Milk Ice Cream Berry Parfaits



Parfait This!


Easy elegance for a long hot summer- a fabulous coconut ice cream recipe served parfait style with blueberries and strawberries. (And it's gluten-free and dairy-free.) ...

During a heat wave yours truly is unable to muster any enthusiasm for cooking. Typically, I live on gluten-free peanut butter toast. And ice cream. Yes, I know. I am a poor, sad, sad role model. What kind of food blogger doesn't rise to the challenge and cheer-lead you to whip up kale salads and raw peach smoothies? What kind of food blogger would simply give in to her sticky, damp fatigue and general overall crankiness and not create some inspiring, nutritious, bunny food slaw for you?

This one.

She who is about to share a no-cook recipe she actually DID make last night, standing directly in front of her three-speed fan, silver streaked hair pinned wantonly (fashionably!) askew atop her itchy, sweaty head.

Sweet and cold and creamy. Coconut milk ice cream.

It's what's for dinner.


Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Gorgeous gluten-free quinoa with grilled vegetables- perfect summer fare.



Beautiful Quinoa Salad with Grilled Veggies


Everyone loves a good old fashioned barbecue. The easy conviviality of a family backyard picnic. The smoky summer scent of charred goodies grilling. Lemonade chilling. Badminton birdies sailing. The crack of croquet balls. The last pink of June daylight. Punching lids on firefly jars. It's the stuff of a midsummer night's dream.

But if you need to be on a gluten-free diet- or if you happen to be vegan- or allergic to wheat- barbecues can be a tad less than convivial. Those mysterious grilling sauces and marinades (so often containing wheat-laced soy sauce). Those gluten-rich fluffy hot dog buns. All those meaty manly burgers and boiled egg dotted salads.

What's a gluten-free vegan to do?

Munch on lettuce?

Don't worry, Babycakes. I've got your back.


How about a light and summery quinoa salad with grilled corn, fresh parsley, lemon, and chopped mint topped with smoky grilled veggies- velvety red onion, sliced zucchini, charred bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, tender-crisp asparagus and butter soft eggplant?

A veritable vegan feast.

Gluten-free.

Fabulous.


Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins- No Xanthan Gum


Deliciously gluten-free blueberry muffins without xanthan gum. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess.

Baking Without Xanthan Gum, I Am.

When I first set foot on this lonely gluten-free road (it was 2001, remember, pre-gluten-free boon; there was nary a gluten-free bagel or wheat-free blueberry muffin in sight), I wrestled with converting my beloved tried and true wheat flour recipes, gamely baking and tossing too many gluten-free hockey pucks and brick loaves to count. Until I discovered xanthan gum- the weirdo secret ingredient that gave gluten-free batter and dough a hint of that elusive stretchy tenderness that gluten once gifted. Xanthan gum was a find.

And it has been a nifty little problem solver for many years.

Until it wasn't.

After a decade or so of cooking, baking, and eating strictly gluten-free I began to feel- shall we say- less than wonderful after eating something with xanthan gum (or guar gum, or locust bean gum, or carrageenan).

Ingredients my grandmother never heard of. Ingredients I never used to eat. Or bake with.

I had a gluten-free shakabuku.

I was seeing gums and emulsifiers added to everything. From coconut milk to olives, from gluten-free gingersnaps to vegan ice cream.

Then I read this.

And I decided to go back to the way I used to eat- still gluten-free, of course- but- no xanthan gum. No guar gum. No carrageenan.

Guess what?

My tummy is (WAY) happier. My digestion is normal (translation- no pain, no bloat, no kill me now existential ennui).

I've been experimenting with baking without xanthan gum. And I'm here to share my blueberry muffin success. I'm using flax seed meal to help the batter a bit. And so far?

So good.

Karina's Side Note: I baked these tasty little gems in my new Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven Broiler (our new apartment has no oven, so after researching counter top toaster ovens, we ordered one of these from Amazon.com). I love it- it keeps the kitchen cool (gives off very little heat) and the convection baking is super efficient for baking gluten-free goodies. So far we've made my xanthan gum free Dark Chocolate Brownies, and the new Blueberry Muffins in it, using the convection method.


Gluten-Free Blueberry Scones

Gluten-Free Blueberry Scones


Blueberries and summer. I cannot imagine one without the other. It is virtually impossible. Beyond my control. The same way a certain scent, caught unexpectedly in passing, can- in a single heartbeat- transport you to another time and place.

Scents and tastes and memories link and embed themselves deep in the mushy hardware of our brain, micro-threading bits of life experience into electrical impulses that spark and conjure images and emotions that rival the blinking hot concept of time travel. Sun warmed wild mint, for instance, jolts me into my six year old body faster than you can wish for blueberry pancakes, tugging me into a swirl of loneliness and boredom I can almost taste, the heat and dust of a summer afternoon prowling a parking lot, looking for a tiny piece of shade apart from the bees.


In a perfect world I would have been blueberry picking, roused from innocent rumpled sleep before first light by a beloved grandmother or a tender hearted aunt, and given a small metal pail to fill, tasting every other silvery blue berry I picked, listening to my steady companion hum I'll Fly Away.

But I have no blueberry stories of childhood.

My picking days came later. As a young mother bending and reaching under a cobalt Cape Cod sky, plucking berries into buckets. Back then summer was forever woven with the fate of blueberries. Scattered on clean white scoops of yogurt in an antique bowl, baked into tender blueberry breads drizzled with lemon glaze (the cherished, hand written recipe given to me by an old friend, Cape Cod Kitty- it was her mother's famous blueberry cake), or bursting out of muffin tops glittering with sugar, and scented with cinnamon.

But the truth is I cannot rewrite my childhood. Nor change what is beyond my control to change. And I do not believe in destiny. I am not a fatalist. I do not believe in a master plan. I wrestle with mystery and meaning every single day, with nary a satisfactory answer in sight. It seems to me that nothing happens for a reason. And everything happens for a reason.

Because life is for learning.

And each day breaks with a fresh beginning.

So darling. What will you choose today?

Make it good.


Strawberry Spinach Salad with Berry Dressing


Strawberry spinach salad with vegan berry dressing



The older I get the more I crave simple. 

The sweet, relaxed comfort of home cooking. An impromptu picnic on the patio with family-style classics like horseradish spiked potato salad. Instead of growing worldly and sophisticated and dabbling with truffle oil (a chemical taste beyond awful), each new gray silver hair spins my taste hula hooping into simplicity faster than Lady Gaga can waggle. Well, maybe not that fast. She is pretty nimble. But you get my drift. I'm whipping up ten-minute rice stir-fries, not Coq au Vin. I’m blending up pomegranate smoothies, not roasting Duck a l'Orange.

And lucky me, the dawning summer season is all about simplicity. 

Who needs complicated and fussy when the farmers’ markets are abundant with glorious, fresh ingredients? Vegetables in every color. Ripe and voluptuous fruits. And every one of them gluten-free. And dairy-free. That’s the beauty of it. No imitation here. No game of let’s pretend. This is nature’s bounty, pure and raw and beautiful. 

No deprivation. Zero. None.


Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

Karina's Strawberry Rhubarb Muffin Recipe with Streusel Topping #glutenfree


Strawberry Rhubarb Love


Can't get enough of the classic spring pairing of strawberries and rhubarb? Me neither. 

So I baked a batch of muffins, dressed up to party with cinnamon streusel topping. These easy to toss together treats are tender pull-apart bites of grainy buckwheat sweetness studded with bits of tart rhubarb. A recipe perfect for brunch or afternoon tea.

Or Mother's Day!

XOX