Tag Archives: gluten free

Zucchini Noodles Two Ways

Yield:
4 servings

I am a total carb-oholic. I love cake, freshly baked bread and I would rather eat a bowl of pasta with butter more than anything in the world. I proudly roll my eyes at any food trends advocated by the paleo, gluten-free and carb-free lovers.

And despite my skepticism for gluten-free trends, it is my obsession with pasta that led me to invest in a spiralizer and try out the zucchini noodle craze. I must admit: zucchini noodles are tasty and satisfying. And with both these zucchini noodle recipes below, I never once felt deprived that my carbs had been stolen away.

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Like regular pasta, zucchini noodles lend themselves to multiple flavors and interpretations. And they can be an easy go-to, even on a weeknight. Last Monday my dad, my daughter and I strolled to our local farmers market to see what was fresh from the farm. I picked up zucchini, corn, tomatoes and fresh ricotta. We went home, threw them all together. And a new dish was born.

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My zucchini noodle bolognese was actually a dish I made during Passover. We loved it so much my husband and I both ate two enormous servings. The only thing missing? A large hunk of garlic bread.

Zucchini Noodles with Corn, Tomatoes and Fresh Ricotta, Makes 3-4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium zucchini

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 ears of fresh corn

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 Tbsp butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove corn kernals from cob and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes.

Spiralize zucchini into noodles.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute zucchini noodles in 3-4 batches for around 4-6 minutes each, or until noodles are soft but still have a bite. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a colander to drain off any excess water that the zucchini released.

Add butter to another large pan over medium heat and melt. Add corn, cherry tomatoes, cream and salt and pepper. Cook until cream has reduced slightly. Add zucchini noodles and toss to coat.

Serve with fresh ricotta and fresh basil if desired.

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Zucchini Noodle Bolognese

Ingredients

4 medium-large zucchini

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 Tbsp dried basil

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2 lbs ground beef

2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup dry red wine

fresh basil

Directions

Spiralize zucchini noodles. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute until they become soft, around 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and dried basil and cook another 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, breaking up as you go until all paste is dissolved into the onions and garlic.

Raise heat to medium-high and add the ground beef. Saute beef, stirring and breaking up meat into small, even chunks. There shouldn't be any large lumps. Cook until meat is longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.

Add crushed tomatoes and red wine and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In another large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute zucchini noodles in 3-4 batches for around 4-6 minutes each, or until noodles are soft but still have a bite. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve bolognese sauce over noodles. Garnish with fresh basil.

Note: this bolognese recipe will make more sauce than needed for this dish. Place remainder in an air-tight container and store in refrigerator or freezer.

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Posted on July 31, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I try to eat a pretty healthy and mostly unprocessed gluten-free diet, but I do love mac & cheese. This is my new favorite way to make it—a healthier cheese sauce that uses pureed butternut squash and milk as the base with just a bit of shredded cheese, topped off with cheese and buttered breadcrumbs, and baked in the oven until it’s bubbly inside and toasty on top. This is also a great way to get picky kids to eat vegetables—the sauce tastes cheesy, not squashy! For an extra bit of richness, use whole milk instead of 2%.

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Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups cooked butternut squash

1 ¼ cup 2 % milk

½ tsp sea salt + more to taste

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 lb gluten-free pasta (macaroni, penne, ziti, or rigatoni are best)

1½ cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1/3 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp melted butter

Finely minced herbs for garnish

Directions

Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place a large pot of salted water to boil and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic and sauté 6-8 minutes until the onions are soft. Remove from heat and add squash, 1 cup of milk, ½ tsp salt, and pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend squash mixture until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender you can use a food processor or blender and puree in batches.

Add additional ¼ cup of milk as necessary, you want a thick sauce but you don’t want it too chunky. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella and additional salt and pepper to taste.

Once the water is boiling, cook pasta until very al dente (3-4 minutes less than you would normally cook it, this will help prevent the pasta from becoming mushy as it cooks longer in the oven). Drain pasta and return to pot. Add squash sauce and stir until all of the pasta is evenly coated. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Stir bread crumbs into melted butter. Top pasta with remaining mozzarella and buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until the cheese and breadcrumbs are toasty and the edges of the pasta are browned.

Top with your favorite fresh herbs such as basil or parsley.

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Posted on June 18, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Blogger Spotlight: Chosen Bites

Anyone who knows me (or reads this blog) knows I am not the biggest supporter of the gluten-free fad. In fact, I am actively and vocally pro-gluten. Not that I am insensitive towards those with special dietary needs, which is why I chatted recently with Rella Kaplowitz from Chosen Bites to better understand why and how one adjusts to such a diet.  Rella’s creations always look delicious, even despite the lack of gluten. So stay tuned for her gluten-free butternut squash mac ‘n cheese!

Rella head shotOk Rella: talk to me about gluten-free food, diet, and why you chose to jump on the bandwagon.

The short answer is, although I tested negative for celiac disease, gluten makes me really sick. I’ve had stomach problems my whole life, and up until about 5 years ago I figured it was just a way of life. Then a friend of mine mentioned trying a gluten-free diet, and within 6 months I was living “intestinal distress” free! I had also been severely lactose intolerant (like having to take 6 Lactaid pills to eat a scoop of ice cream intolerant) since I was about 15, and about 2 years after being gluten-free I was able to introduce dairy back into my diet. I’ve been eating loads of dairy ever since to make up for lost time.

 What do you think about the fact that gluten-free is now sort of trendy?

There are pros and cons to the gluten-free fad. On one hand, being gluten-free is so much easier now than it was 5 years ago. The market is inundated with gluten-free products, restaurants are catering to gluten-free diets. On the other hand, many people fail to understand the difference between people who are gluten-free by necessity (i.e. gluten makes them severely ill) and people who are gluten-free because it’s a lifestyle choice. When I ingest gluten, I can feel the aftereffects for a few hours or several days depending on how much gets into my system. It’s not a joke—but some people think being gluten-intolerant is fake and aren’t as careful as they should be (like restaurants who serve gluten-free pasta but boil it in the same water as gluten-full pasta).

Is there something you have tried to make gluten-free but just didn’t work?

I can’t seem to recreate a real, NY-style bagel that’s gluten-free. There is something about the crispy outside, chewy inside that just isn’t replicable. Which is very sad considering that is the ONE thing I truly miss since cutting gluten out of my diet. I did make a great pretzel roll recipe. And while it’s not a bagel, I love this coconut blueberry granola recipe as a satisfying breakfast.

coconut blueberry granola

Do you have resources you would recommend to others keeping a gluten-free diet?

There are so many good resources for people who maintain a gluten-free diet.

  • The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a wealth of information about celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and a gluten-free resource directory with tons of products and services to help support a gluten-free diet.
  • Gluten-Free Goddess is very kosher friendly since most of the recipes are vegan or vegetarian in addition to being gluten-free.
  • Gluten-Free Girl is an excellent resource for gluten-free baking.
  • Gluten-free products can be expensive, so I order all of mine online (especially gluten-free flours) mostly through Vitacost. Most grocery stores will have what you need but it could cost as much as 50% more.

The one thing I will add is beware of websites offering medical advice. There is a lot of bad advice out there, and you should ALWAYS consult with a doctor before doing anything that might have a health impact.

What’s the best thing to happen as a result of baking and blogging for you?

I love being in the kitchen—at the end of a long day, I find it cathartic to pull out a bunch of ingredients and create something delicious. People laugh when I tell them I de-stress after work by making dinner or baking a batch of cookies, but it’s true! And once I started blogging, it allowed me to share my gift of cooking and baking with others. There is also an unbelievably warm community of food bloggers, especially food allergy focused bloggers.

So…you sell gluten-free, kosher baked goods. What kinds of products do you offer?

You can see everything I offer on my website. I can customize most of my items—they aren’t just gluten-free, they can also be free of other allergens like dairy, soy, corn, tree nuts, and peanuts. Right now I’m primarily selling in the DC area, although I ship orders pretty regularly too.

ginger snap cookie

What’s next on the horizon for Rella and Chosen Bites?

I would love to grow Chosen Bites in to a bigger business selling delicious baked goods that make people forget they have food allergies. However, it’s still a hobby right now—I have a day job that takes up a lot of my time too! So I guess the answer is, I don’t know what’s on the horizon but I’m certainly open to riding things out to see where they lead.

Posted on June 17, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Gluten-Free Blintzes

Yield:
14-16 blintzes

Many of us have seasonal associations with Jewish holidays. The High Holidays and Sukkot: crisp, fall weather, a perfect time for a spiritual cleanse before we head into winter, Hanukkah: dark and cold winter, and a holiday of light to brighten the darkness, and of course, Passover: springtime and rebirth to signify freedom from slavery. My personal associations with Shavuot were always about the end of the school year and summer being just around the corner.

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As a child, my family usually headed to Atlantic Beach, NY to celebrate Shavuot with my grandparents and revel in the end of another school year. I have fond memories of walking home from shul with my Saba, salty breeze blowing, to devour my Savta’s famous blintzes. The streets in Atlantic Beach are ordered alphabetically and, stomach rumbling, I’d count down: Oneida, Putnam…I just looked at Google Maps, and it turns out the shul was only three blocks away

v at the beach

My grandparents have since passed away, and their house has been sold, but those memories live on. I’d like to think that my Savta would approve of these blintzes, though they are completely gluten-free (sorry, Savta!). The trick to these is a heavy, high-quality crepe pan, to ensure a thin and evenly cooked crepe. I use the DeBuyer Iron pan.

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Gluten-Free Blintzes

Ingredients

For the crepes:

240 grams/2 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour mix

OR

90 grams white rice flour

50 grams quinoa flour

100 grams tapioca flour

1 tsp psyllium husk

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup milk (regular, soy, or almond milk will all work)

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp grapeseed or other vegetable oil, plus more for frying

For the filling:

3 egg yolks

1 lb farmer cheese (if farmer cheese is not readily available, you can also use ricotta)

1/2 lb cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup or more sugar, to taste

zest of 1 lemon

jam, sour cream, or your other favorite toppings

Directions

If you are mixing flours yourself, measure and mix ahead of time into a small bowl. Whisk milk, eggs, and  tablespoon of oil together in a medium mixing bowl and add the flour slowly, whisking as you go. Whisk until the batter is smooth and has no large pieces.

Heat your crepe pan on high with about a teaspoon of oil.

Make your crepes with about ¼ cup of batter, spreading it around as quickly as possible to get it as thin as you can. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes apiece, flipping with a metal spatula. The timing of this will depend on the kind of pan you use and how hot it is. Each side should be just slightly browned. These crepes are sturdy and can be piled on top of one another as you finish cooking them.

Mix together all the ingredients for your filling.

Take each crepe, 1 at a time, spoon 2-3 heaping tablespoons of filling on the bottom third, fold the bottom edge of the pancake up and over the filling, fold the sides in, and roll up into a slim roll.

To bake, put the blintzes side by side in a greased oven dish and bake at 375 oven for 20 minutes. To fry, heat about half an inch of grapeseed or vegetable oil in a frying pan, and when the oil is hot, fry each blintz for about 4 minutes on each side, until browned.

Cool on a paper bag to absorb excess oil. Serve with jam, fruit, sour cream, or other toppings.

Posted on May 28, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Almond Butter & Jam Mousse Trifles

Prep:
24 hours

Yield:
6 mini trifles

During Passover each year, I really like to keep things simple. My husband and I make mostly the same dishes for our seder, stock the fridge with all our favorite produce and dairy products and try to keep things basic, fresh and delicious. But of course, I also rack my brain trying to come up with fun new ideas that are scrumptious but not too difficult to execute.

Last year I made Rachel Khoo’s cheese and potato nests with brie (no bacon) and this year I am going to make some zucchini noodles with a hearty Bolognese sauce (made with my new spiralizer – have you ordered one yet!?)

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And I also dreamed up a light but delectable new dessert recipe. Of course it isn’t really peanut butter & jelly, since I know most American Ashkenazi Jews don’t eat kitnyot. But it has the same richness as peanut butter and tastes like a bread-less PB&J sandwich. Adults and kids will love it, and it’s a nice break from all the flourless chocolate cake and macaroons.

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If you don’t have mini cups, you can use individual plastic cups to make the trifles or also use a large trifle dish for family-style serving. After all, Passover is definitely a holiday all about family. So grab a spoon and dig in!

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Almond Butter & Jam Mousse Trifles

Ingredients

For the pie crust:

1 cup sliced almonds

4 Tbsp melted butter or margarine

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp almond meal

¼ tsp sea salt

For the almond butter mousse:

2 14 ounce cans full-fat coconut milk, or 1 can coconut cream

¾ cup almond butter

¼ cup sugar

4 egg whites

2 cups raspberry or strawberry jam

Whipped cream (optional)

Fresh berries (optional)

Directions

Make sure to chill the coconut milk overnight.

To make the crust:

In a sauté pan over medium heat, toast almonds until fragrant, around 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to toast too long or almonds will burn and taste slightly bitter.

In a food processor fitted with blade attachment, pulse toasted almonds, butter or margarine, brown sugar, almond meal and salt. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. Set aside.

To make the mousse:

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the ¼ cup sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Remove lid of coconut milk without shaking or tipping the can. Scoop out the solid cream and place into a chilled bowl. Leave the liquid in the bottom of the can and reserve it for soups, smoothies or other recipes. If cream has not come to top, put coconut milk through fine mesh sieve and discard liquid.

Using a hand mixer, beat until creamed together, around 1 minute.

Add almond butter one tablespoon at a time and mix until smooth.

Gently fold egg whites into almond butter mixture a few tablespoons at a time until incorporated. There shouldn’t be any streaks.

Layer individual cups or trifle dish with pie crust crumbles, then mousse, then jam and repeat.

Garnish with whipped cream and berries if desired.

Posted on April 10, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Passover-Friendly Strawberry Almond Mini Muffins

Passover and I haven’t always been friends. There was a time when I thought about Passover approaching and my mind would be overrun by what I can’t eat. As a girl who has always loved carbs (I love you, pasta), the thought of saying “good-bye” to my beloved noodles and bread, even for eight days, caused me to have a little anxiety attack.

strawberry-2-stampBut as the food world has become increasingly creative to help accommodate the never-ending list of folks with food allergies, Passover has become less about what I can’t have and more about what I can have by flexing my creative foodie muscles.

strawberry-5-stampThe recipe below is a great example of this. I’ve made a version of these before for one of my clients who prefers gluten-free food options. I wanted to give my old recipe a new Spring season twist so I added the roasted strawberries, which are coming out in droves here in Miami. The result is a not-too-sweet but supremely delicious (and healthy) breakfast/snack treat. I hope you enjoy!

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Ingredients

3 cups roasted strawberries

2 Tbsp coconut oil

½ cup vanilla yogurt

¼  cup honey

2 eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 ½  cups blanched almond flour

¼  tsp sea salt

½  tsp baking soda

Directions

To make the roasted strawberries:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss 3 cups of quartered strawberries with a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoon melted coconut oil or other cooking oil that your prefer.

Spread strawberries in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until juicy and reduced in size. Set aside to cool.

To make the muffins:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all the wet ingredients into a bowl and mix well with a spoon.

Add the dry muffin ingredients and mix well. Fold in the strawberries

Place cupcake liners in a baking pan, and fill the liners halfway with batter. Note: feel free to not use cupcakes liners but make certain that you are using a NON-STICK mini muffin pan.  Coat the muffin tins with a healthy dose of butter or cooking spray and sprinkle each with almond flour to ensure the muffins don't stick.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops are starting to brown.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Posted on April 8, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Passover Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Yield:
approximately 15 stuffed cabbage

There’s nothing like Passover to remind us where we come from. In many Jewish homes, Passover traditions are carried down from father to son, establishing the family’s customs and setting the standards for their Passover pantry.

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Growing up, my family’s standards were quite stringent. We did not eat any processed ingredients, and we only used produce that could be peeled. My mother prepared simple syrup in place of sugar, and we seasoned our dishes minimally with kosher salt, no spices allowed. Thankfully, I married into a family whose customs were slightly more lenient. My in-laws allow a variety of fruits and vegetables, including cabbage, as well as some minimally processed foods, like tomato sauce.

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When I spent Passover with my in-laws last year, I decided to pay homage to my roots by adapting my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage recipe for the holiday. While my grandmother would never have made this recipe for Passover, to me, it signifies the union of my husband’s familial customs with my Eastern European heritage. And that is precisely how we celebrate Passover.

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Passover Stuffed Cabbage

Ingredients

1 head of green cabbage

1 lb ground beef

1 heaping cup leftover mashed potatoes

1 small onion, grated

1 egg

salt and pepper, to taste

 

For the sauce:

2 15 oz cans tomato sauce

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated

1 large tomato, finely chopped

1/3 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Place the cabbage in the freezer overnight (about 12 hours). Remove and place in a colander in the sink to defrost. This makes the cabbage pliable for rolling and stuffing.

Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Peel the remaining large leaves, taking care not to tear the cabbage as you go. Set the whole leaves aside and chop up the remaining cabbage for later.

In a bowl, combine the ground beef, potatoes, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Set up a stuffing station with your whole cabbage leaves and ground beef mixture. With a paring knife, trim the thick part of the stem off the base of the leaves, taking care not to cut through the rest of the leaf. Place the leaves upright so that they are curling upward like a bowl.

Place a small handful of filling towards the base of each leaf and fold over the leaf from the left side. Roll the cabbage leaf up and using your finger, stuff the loose end of the leaf inward, pushing it into the center. Rolling the cabbage this way ensures that they hold together nicely during cooking.

Continue with remaining leaves. If you have any leftover filling, simply roll them into meatballs to place in the pot alongside the cabbage rolls.

Place the stuffed cabbage rolls in a large pot and cover with sauce ingredients. If you had any leftover cabbage or meatballs, add them to the pot as well.

Bring the sauce to a gentle boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot, leaving it slightly open so that the steam does not force the cabbage rolls to open. Cook for approximately 2 - 2 1/2 hours, until cabbage is tender and sauce has thickened.

VARIATION: for unstuffed cabbage soup, shred the cabbage and roll the meat into balls. Place everything into a pot and continue as above.

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Posted on April 7, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Gluten-Free Hamantaschen

Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of my grandmother. She was old and feeble, and chronic pain often prevented her from leaving the house. Still, there were a few occasions when my grandmother would never fail to make an appearance in my mother’s kitchen. One such of those special occasions was right before the holiday of Purim began. She carefully tied the strings of her apron in a neat bow before she perched herself on a kitchen stool and began to give orders.

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She showed me how to dip the rim of a wine glass in the pearly mounds of flour to make the perfect circle for my cookies. She directed my fingers with a watchful eye as I carefully portioned out just the right amount of filling and carefully folded my circle into a triangle, or “Haman’s Ears” as my grandmother used to call them. We sat there late into the night, after the cookies had long since come out of the oven, covered in flour and giggling like schoolgirls.

Nowadays, we live in different cities and my grandmother’s days in the kitchen are far behind her. As I am no longer able to eat the cookies as she made them, I have adapted the recipe. But every time I make them, there is still a small part of her inside them. I hope you enjoy these hamentashen as much as I do.

Vanilla Bean Hamantaschen with Apricot Filling

Ingredients

For the dough:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup arrowroot flour (plus ¼ cup for dusting)

½ tsp sea salt

1 vanilla bean

½ cup of honey

¼ cup of coconut oil, melted

For the filling:

11 ounces dried apricots, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice

4 Tbsp honey

½ cup of water

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, lemon juice, honey and water over medium high heat.

Bring to a boil and stir continuously, until the mixture has reduced. Then, remove from heat and set aside while you make the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot flour, and the sea salt until well mixed.

With a small paring knife, poke a tiny hole in the top of your vanilla bean and slice it in half.  Use the knife to scrap the small black seeds into a small bowl. For this recipe, you should only be using the seeds from 2-inches of your bean (the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.)

Add the vanilla bean seeds, the honey, and the melted coconut oil to your flour mixture and stir until just incorporated, being careful not to over-mix the dough. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball.

Next, position the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, adding arrowroot flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. Place another sheet of parchment paper over the dough, and using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/4 inch thick layer.

Remove the top layer of parchment paper. Dust the open end of a glass (or a round cookie cutter) with arrowroot powder. Then, carefully cut out circles in the dough, and remove the extra dough from the sides.

Fill the center of each circle with a little over a teaspoon of filling. Carefully fold each one of the three sides in, forming a triangular shape, and sealing the filling inside. Pinch the corners in to seal the cookies.

Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet, and bake cookies for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

Posted on February 21, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Blogger Spotlight: The Kosher Cave Girl

Gluten-free and paleo diets seem to be all the rage currently. When I first saw The Kosher Cave Girl on instagram, I was intrigued – it’s a very catchy name. And I wanted to learn more.

While I remain a strong gluten and bread enthusiast, I love to hear about other passionate bloggers’ food journeys, and Donyel Meese (aka The Kosher Cave Girl) has a very interesting food journey. She and I had the chance to catch up over email recently and I really loved what she had to say about making your own bread and sweets and switching out healthy options into your diet – everything in moderation! Read more about Donyel and her kosher Paleo lifestyle below.

And make sure to check back tomorrow for her version of gluten-free hamantaschen just in time for Purim next month!

donyel collageWhy did you start blogging?

The idea to start a blog stemmed from an afternoon I spent with a friend whining about the fact that I had just made the most incredible hazelnut-swirled brownies, but that I couldn’t find the piece of paper that I had written the recipe on anywhere. The friend suggested that I start blogging my recipes to ensure that I’d never lose another one. I really do enjoy the creating recipes, the photography, and coming up with posts. The Kosher Cave Girl also serves as an outlet for my love of writing, and my readers are often unfortunately witnesses to my (often rather pathetic) attempts at humor.

Your food journey has had lots of ups and downs. Would you say you always loved cooking and food, or did it result out of necessity for your diet?

I have always loved baking things. When my friends arrive at my apartment, they make a beeline for my freezer, breezing past me without so much as a hello until they’ve got something in their mouth. When I found out that I was both lactose and dairy intolerant, and made the switch to a Paleo lifestyle, I quickly grew frustrated with what I saw as so many restrictions.

It was as simple as changing my outlook. Instead of mourning the fact that I could no longer eat my favorite browned-butter snickerdoodles, I decided to create a version that I could eat. Now, there are very few foods that I actually miss, and I have a lot of fun coming up with recipes to mirror the dishes that I loved before going Paleo.

paleo recipe2What are your culinary influences?

My mother spent time in Africa, Australia, and Thailand before returning to the U.S. after she completed her undergrad at University of Hawai’i, so I was exposed to lot of cultural dishes at a very young age. Because of her, I love experimenting with unique flavors and spices like coconut milk, lemongrass, saffron, and curry.

For those that can and do eat gluten, what ways can the paleo diet influence their eating habits, without taking away their beloved bread?

You don’t have to follow a Paleo diet to incorporate fresh, healthy, & non-processed foods in your lifestyle. Simple switches can make a world of difference. Try making tuna salad with avocado instead of mayo. Learn to love water. If you want bread, cookies, or cakes, make your own instead of buying prepackaged ones loaded with preservatives to keep them “fresh” (homemade is not only cheaper, but it tastes better too!). Sodas and sugary drinks are usually calorie bombs and do little to quench your thirst. Cook with coconut oil and olive oil, instead of canola oil and vegetable oil.

One of the wonderful aspects of a Paleo lifestyle is that you’re encouraged not to count calories. Instead, emphasis is placed on mindful and intuitive eating – listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satiated.

paleo recipe1What has surprised you about blogging or what’s been the best thing that has happened as a result of blogging?

I always thought that blogging was so glamorous, but I’ve found that in this circus, I feel more like the juggler than the girl on the flying trapeze. The amount of time and preparation that goes into blogging is absolutely unbelievable. The readers only see the glamorous side of food blogging, but behind the scenes, all hell breaks lost. My kitchen sink is perpetually overflowing with dirty dishes. I spend more time at the grocery store than at my own apartment. Recipes go horribly wrong, it takes 200 pictures of cookies to get one useable one, and my e-mail inbox is almost always full. On top of all of that, I’m juggling my food blogger lifestyle with being a full-time student.

I’ve learned so much about photography, graphic design, and social media, but my absolute favorite perk is being able to connect with readers, whether it’s getting to know them, answering a question, or helping them adapt a recipe. It’s so rewarding, and it brings me such a sense of joy and fulfillment.

What advice do you have for someone else who wants to start a food blog?

Is it terribly cliché of me to tell you that good things come to those who wait? When I first started blogging in Fall of 2013, I had no readers. You could literally hear the crickets chirping every time I posted a new recipe. But don’t get discouraged. Keep posting, keep marketing, and people will come.

I’ve also found that pictures are key. I’m also guilty when I tell you that if I see a recipe without a picture, I probably won’t make it. Everyone loves drooling over stunning food photography, myself included. I don’t have any fancy lights or props, just my Nikon 5100. I’m still learning, but I’m having fun with it.

What’s on the horizon for your blog?

Thank G-d, I’ve been offered a lot of wonderful opportunities for The Kosher Cave Girl. Let’s just say that there might be a cookbook revolving around a Paleo take on traditional Shabbat foods in my future. I have a lot of exciting projects and partnerships in the works, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Posted on February 20, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Game Day Snacks Roundup

The Super Bowl is a week away, so the men in my life tell me. I am not much for subscribing to traditional gender roles, but I admit freely: I hate football. But I do love cooking up snacks for football-viewing especially spicy chicken wings and beef-stuffed knishes.

Looking for some kosher snack ideas for the football fans in your life? We have some great dairy, meat, pareve and gluten free ideas from our recipe archives and our favorite bloggers.

What will you be cooking up? Share below!

game day snacks

Roasted Garlic Hummus (pareve) 

Beet Chips with Spicy Honey Mayo (pareve)

beet-chips-1

Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip from The Shiksa (dairy)

Pesto Potato Pinwheels from The Overtime Cook (pareve)

Beef and Potato Puff Pastry Knishes (meat)

Spinach and Cheese Borekas (dairy) 

Pastrami on Rye Potstickers from What Jew Wanna Eat (meat)

Classic Hot Wings (meat)

Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings (meat)

Fried Pickles from The Food Yenta (dairy)

buckeye bites

Buckeye Bites from The Kosher Cave Girl (pareve)

Speculoos Chex Party Mix from Busy in Brooklyn (dairy)

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Posted on January 25, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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