Vegan Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms & Asparagus (Gluten-free) + Butcher Block Giveaway!

Vegan Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms and Asparagus

I’ve been struggling with food lately. For health reasons I’d rather not discuss right now, I was put on a gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, low-fat, nightshades-free diet. Plus I’m vegan. I felt like there was nothing left to eat.

(Side note. I got about zero results when I googled recipes with these restrictions. Which is why I’m a huge fan of this idea. For $25, you can get 3 months access to their new site, plus 2 holiday eCookbooks. Sweet deal.)

For several days, I ate brown rice with steamed vegetables. And fruit. And gluten-free oatmeal. I made a vegetable soup that was okay, but I grew tired of it quickly. Finally, I started to experiment.

Vegan Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms & Asparagus Gluten-free + Butcher Block Giveaway!

Using a base of quinoa and finely chopped kale, I came up with a couple of recipes that I quite like. One is an awesome salad that I’ll share with you soon. The other is this Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms and Asparagus. It’s very healthy and nutritious, but it’s also hearty and flavorful.

Vegan Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms & Asparagus Gluten-free + Butcher Block Giveaway!

This recipe requires a fair amount of chopping and slicing. Fortunately, I welcome these tasks due to a love affair with my new 14″ round walnut butcher block chopping block from McClure Tables.

When McClure offered to give away two butcher blocks (one for me, one for you), I jumped at the chance to team up for this giveaway. Little did I know it would become my new favorite tool in the kitchen.

Both beautiful and functional, it looks great on my counter even when not in use. And it makes a gorgeous serving piece.

Vegan Quinoa Kale Bowl with Mushrooms & Asparagus Gluten-free + Butcher Block Giveaway!

I have a drawer full of plastic cutting boards. Since receiving my new chopping block, I haven’t used a single one of them. Which means a kitchen purge is just around the corner. ;)  Here are a few of the benefits to choosing a wood cutting board:

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Vegan Kale Salad with Blackberries and Toasted Coconut-Pecan Clusters (Gluten-free)

Vegan Kale Salad With Blackberries And Toasted Coconut Pecan Clusters

I used to think kale was only used for garnish. I mean, really, who eats that stuff?! I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of plain ol’ raw kale. It’s bitter and tough and has a terrible aftertaste. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to transform this super nutritious leafy green.

A little lemon, a little olive oil, some salt/pepper, and of course, TLC in the form of massage (yes, that’s right—massage) and suddenly kale is not only tolerable, it’s delicious. Especially when you toss in fresh blackberries and toasted coconut-pecan clusters. Now we’re talkin’.

Vegan Kale Salad with Blackberries and Toasted Coconut-Pecan Clusters Gluten-free

My aunt Gloria has always been the queen of gardening. Recently she told me about her abundance of kale—then she asked me what to do with it. So I rattled off a few ideas…add it to smoothies, salads of course, soups, finely chopped and “hidden” in burgers, casseroles, tacos, etc.

Honestly, you can sneak kale into just about anything. If I have extra kale, I wash it, dry it, de-stem it, tear it into bite-sized pieces it and freeze it. Then I can toss a handful in a smoothie. Or toss the whole bag in a pot of soup. It’s great for juicing, too—stem and all.

So, Aunt G, this salad is for you. I hope you like it.

For those of you who are totally anti-kale, try spinach instead. And if blackberries aren’t readily available, try raspberries, strawberries or blueberries—or all of the above. Dried cherries would be great as well. No pecans on hand? Walnuts will work, too.

Vegan Kale Salad with Blackberries and Toasted Coconut-Pecan Clusters Gluten-free
Vegan Kale Salad with Blackberries and Toasted Coconut-Pecan Clusters Gluten-free

These toasted coconut-pecan clusters are amazeballs. In fact, it’s kind of hard not to eat ’em all right off the pan. Sweet, salty, nutty, and perfectly crunchy. More, please. They would make a great hostess gift during the holidays. Fill up a small canning jar, tie on some festive ribbon and you’re good to go.

Oh, and your house will smell heavenly while they are baking.

If you have trouble finding unsweetened coconut flakes, try your local health food store or order online.

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Vegan Fried Ice Cream (Gluten-free)

Vegan Fried Ice Cream

I generally try to keep it pretty healthy here. Not today. This recipe for vegan fried ice cream (with a gluten-free option) is all about SPLURGING. It’s a special occasion dessert. One to pull out for birthdays, anniversaries, and such. Or maybe you’ve just had a really bad week and you could use a little food joy.

Vegan Fried Ice Cream (Gluten-free)

During college, I was a server at a Mexican restaurant chain called Chi-Chi’s. Fried Ice Cream was a popular menu item. If you’ve ever been a server, then you’re familiar with the term “sidework”. Sidework is a term for the tasks servers are assigned to do in addition to their basic duties.

There was no worse sidework than cleaning the dessert station. I HATED it. Imagine a freezer full of crispy coated ice cream balls next to a station with a deep fryer and containers of strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, and honey. Plus the whipped cream, cherries, and cinnamon-sugar fried tortillas.

By the end of the day, it was always a giant sticky mess. And it took forever to clean. Maybe that’s the reason I never made fried ice cream at home. Until now.

Vegan Fried Ice Cream (Gluten-free)
Vegan Fried Ice Cream (Gluten-free)

The process itself really isn’t too bad. It’s the freezer time that makes it so involved—a two step freezing process that requires some patience. The frying step takes the least time, but is essential to creating a warm, crispy shell.

Obviously, if you have a deep fryer, it will come in very handy for this recipe. If you don’t, you can use a large pot, which is what I did.

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Vegan Cherry Chickpea Wrap (Gluten-free)

Vegan Cherry Chickpea Wrap

Finally. I got some things checked off the to-do list last weekend. Stuff like transitioning Hubs’ old office into a dedicated photo studio/prop room. Hubs’ office is now a small dresser—LOL. Whatever.

He barely used it. This room now has a freshly painted table, two bookshelves full of props (plates, linens, utensils, etc), and various photo equipment. There are a lot of windows, so it’s perfect for using natural light in my food photos. Maybe I’ll snap some pics of it one of these days and share.

So, about this vegan, gluten-free Cherry Chickpea Wrap. This is a dead ringer for chicken salad. I swear, is there anything chickpeas can’t do?

Vegan Cherry Chickpea Wrap Gluten-free

This is a perfect summertime meal. A cool, crunchy, creamy wrap that requires minimal effort and zero cooking. You can even take a shortcut and use vegan mayo instead of making the cashew dressing.

Dress it up with any extras you like—lettuce, avocado, sprouts, tomato, pickles, onions, you name it. It’s great in a lettuce wrap or served on crackers, too. Or you can do what I do—eat it straight out of the bowl.

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Vegan Curry Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli and Cashews (Gluten-free)

Vegan Curry Sweet Potatoes With Broccoli And Cashew

What a gorgeous holiday weekend it was here in West Michigan. We had perfect weather. A long bike ride, a BBQ/fireworks bonanza with neighbors, a lazy beach day, dinner with friends, a late night movie, sleeping in—we took full advantage of the long weekend.

The party didn’t end there. Last night we got together with friends for a potluck. We sat on their deck, enjoyed the company, and ate great food. I took a bit of a risk when I decided to make a dish I’d never made before. Fortunately, it was a winner.

Vegan Curry Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli and Cashews Gluten-free

I can’t say I’ve always loved curry. For me, it was an acquired taste. Hubs loves it. These days, I’m pretty crazy about it, too. This recipe is an adapted version of one I found in Terry Walters’ cookbook, Clean Food.

Hers called for tempeh, but I wasn’t able to find any tempeh in time, so I opted for sweet potatoes and broccoli instead. The end result was fantastic.

Vegan Curry Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli and Cashews Gluten-free

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Vegan Coconut Lemon Tart (Gluten-free)

Vegam Coconut Lemon Tart

I wonder if other countries get carried away with national flag-themed food the way we do in the U.S. Do a search for “Fourth of July desserts” on Pinterest and you’ll get a smorgasbord of inventive red, white and blue creations. I’m gonna take a wild guess and assume we do this better than anyone else.

Because we are obnoxious Americans. We are loud and proud. We love our flag. And we love food. So what’s better than food that resembles our flag? (The answer is a lot of things are better than that, but let’s go with it for today.)

Vegan Coconut Lemon Tart (Gluten-free)

The raspberries and blueberries on this Coconut Lemon Tart are a subtle nod to Old Glory. A simple, understated reflection of our national colors that doesn’t require layering vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet and blue cake. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Vegan Apple Tart (Gluten-free)

Vegan Apple Tart

This Apple Tart is SO GOOD! It has a 5-ingredient crust with a buttery, shortbread-like flavor and texture. The filling and glaze are equally simple and impressive. The end result is a beautiful, healthy dessert with a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors. A crowd-pleaser that will quickly disappear long before you’ve had a chance to mention it’s vegan and gluten-free.