Grapefruit Margarita gluten-free, vegan

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I love wine, I love rose, I love white wine. Odd way to start a tequila post. As much as I love wine, sometimes I love a margarita more. It’s a shock to me too. The salty rim, the strong tequila, the zest of the citrus: it comes together to make a moment, not just a cocktail. This is a recipe for the nights that call for an at-home oasis, a moment for you (or you + yours) to sit, drink, and savor.

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A brief discussion on the idea of ordering a margarita at a bar, and trusting that no beer droplets or contaminated shakers will do you in:

So many things can be difficult when you throw food-allergies into the mix. Now on top of coordinating friends availability, preferences, timing you add in “Can I even drink there?”? It’s a doozy. There are certainly some places that just don’t have enough safety procedures in place, or nights that are so busy that those safety procedures get pushed aside that that eliminate them from my roster. But for the most part (and I mean the 90% most part) going to a truly happy happy hour has been dependent on me learning more about alcohol!

Keeping a guide up on your phone, even downloading it to your reader section, is the best starting place. This takes away so much mental strain and frantic googling. This is the one I keep handy, but Make Dinner Matter will soon have it’s own!

How to Hit the Bars and Stay Gluten-free

This is a much longer, not really in-the-moment friendly guide. It is definitely good for self-educating.

Urban Tastebud Guide to Gluten-free Alcohol

 

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March Link Lovin’

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Spring has sprung, no more tense moments of 30 degree snaps or heart-breaking freezing rain. The cherry blossoms are HERE and the magnolias are giving them a run for their money! I hope wherever you are, the shift in energy is greeting you warmly.

FOOD

10 (TEN!) Salad recipes that aren’t boring. This is correct and a blessing for the inevitable salad rut that occurs in the middle of my week, every week.

Just yes. Much, much yes to dark chocolate zucchini bread: a recipe that is ALREADY GF and vegan!

Mediterranean pasta salad: I have been all about the pasta salad since the weather has taken a warmer turn. This is a fun version, especially for folks with dairy allergies that exempt sheep and goat milk. Feta is fun alternative!

NEW on Make Dinner Matter
Blueberry, Arugula, & Shrimp Salad
Vanilla Coconut Nut Clusters + Spicy Nut Crunch Mix

The Brooke, Beet pesto flatbread (a whole new series!)

LIFESTYLE

I wrote about in the recent snacks post, but it’s so good it needs a second reference. First Bite: How We Learn To Eat is an insightful, relatable, powerful read for anyone who eats or nourishes others (hint: that’s everyone). Check out the NY Times review to learn a bit more about Bee Wilson’s work.

8 things about not eating what everyone else is. This isn’t new info, but it’s nice to be reminded there are millions (literally) of others out in the world making a restricted diet work, and work well. I absolutely agree with her insight that eating goes beyond taste, and I would add what we prefer today may change tomorrow and that’s a great thing. Not liking broccoli or dismissing all greens doesn’t have to be a lifetime sentence. And neither does missing your old favorites, adjusting to the new tastes and textures of the diet that treats your body and mind best will come with time (and lots of practice and patience).

If your heart was planted, what would it grow? A question that is still ringing around my brain from The Yoga Deck. I started with the kids deck for fun hands-on asana practice for my middle-school students but then bundled the purchase (thanks, Amazon) with the adult deck. They are truly wonderful. If you’re wondering how to crack open the giant, maybe a little intimidating, bubble of a yoga practice, this is a great start. Just pick one card, or a few to form a sequence, and that’s it – it’s all yoga! They have beautiful meditation cards and detailed pranayama (breathing practice) cards to make the more out-there elements of the practice accessible.

Have a habit that needs to be shown the way out? This is a lovely guided meditation. At only 18 minutes it can absolutely find a space in your day. Honoring the need to find stillness and turn inward is absolutely essential, especially when dealing with food allergies or constant diet monitoring. I found that finding those slow moments, and inserting them when they were absent, contributed to some of the largest strides in my recovery.

If 18 minutes seems far to unattainable right now, that’s ok. Take 3 minutes to listen to Kacey Musgraves remind you that silver linings only show up on cloudy days.

Go out, do good, make it matter.

MJ

Friend Feature: The Brooke

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Welcome, the first Friend Feature! For the next 6 months Make Dinner Matter will be sharing a favorite recipe from a dear friend. These recipes are the healthy go-to meals that nourish folks of all diet types. Each recipe will be tweaked and adapted to Make Dinner Matter compatibility and shared with you all, named for the friend who shared it.

This month is The Brooke. She shared The Roasted Root’s beet pesto cauliflower crust pizza with kale as a favorite healthy weeknight meal.

So, what we have here is a beet pesto flatbread with kale topped with arugula salad. I loved the use of nutrient packed beet pesto in the original recipe; beets are an inflammation diet’s and a busy chef’s best friend. They are packed with phytonutrients that aid in detoxification, anti-inflammation, and are full of antioxidants. They also last eons in the refrigerator if stored in a tightly sealed bag and roast up to a “buttery” flavorful veg with little preparation. Pureeing them in a food processor with a walnuts and pine nuts creates a rich spread that works perfectly beside the crispy kale, tangy goat cheese, and spicy greens. But the pesto will produce more than needed for the recipe: it makes a delicious dip for raw crudités or a tapenade impersonator for a springy salad.

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This recipe reminds me that anything can be transformed. The meals we eat over and over again can take a few notes and become something fresh and lively when we pay attention. Keeping life and creativity in diet is often essential to maintaining that diet. If eating according to your allergies isn’t fun, or finding vegetarian meals isn’t inspiring what is the incentive to stick with it? Our health can feel like this far away, not happening right now thing. Instead of the moment-to-moment breathing reality that it is. It is absolutely essential to keep energy and fun in every day eating, but it takes this community to keep that alive. I love beets, but I can hardly ever think of anything to do with them but roast them and put other things on top of them (see: breakfast hash, + every salad made in winter ever). How wonderful is it that because of this space, reaching out and tethering to this community of friends, that I’m able to breath a little newness into my routine? That’s the heart of Make Dinner Matter.

 
Note: If you are a die hard cauli-crust fan, by all means go for it. But I am not, yet! The cauli-crust will make an appearance soon in a future friend feature. Mind the instructions on your flatbread, if it is not pre-baked be sure to do so before topping the pizza as the instructions below state.

Vanilla Coconut Nut Clusters + Spicy Nut Crunch Mix

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I didn’t even realize it, but a guiding force behind my New Year intentions was the desire to experience and recognize the small, sacred moments in daily life. The moments that honor simple joys, the ones that make the overall experience of life a happy one. So, so far this has led to a year with quite a few games of Scrabble and quite a few snacks (with creative beverages in hand). It’s also seen hundreds of pages of the books I always wanted to read but never have.

I just finished reading First Bite: How We Learn to Eat, by Bee Wilson. It is a must-read for anyone who eats. In earnest this book would do every parent, spouse, friend, E.D. survivor, and diet-change newbie a world of good. It isn’t forceful or pretentious; it’s the insight and friend in a world where food, a basic necessity, has been so complex and so dividing that the idea of food as fuel is miles from sight. Something that I keep turning over is her reminder that food isn’t morals: no food is sinful, no food is virtuous and that we must find other ways to show each other love and attention other than food.

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I love the idea of eating more nuts, a little bit more than in reality actually eating more nuts. They have the fats and protein to satiate for long periods, they have little fuss or potential allergy contamination (unless your allergy is to nuts, then this post is entirely irrelevant and I recognize your frustration), and they travel well. But their heaviness and dryness has consistently turned me off, until now. I found that making my own trail mixes was a great gateway to nuts, and to cutting out more processed purchase. These mixes take that concept to the next level.

In the world of this blog, the food-allergy community, food can be downright scary. Strangers and loved ones alike can hurt us unintentionally, even those who know our needs best, with accidental contamination or simple ignorance. But it’s also a hopeful, creative world, where we have more freedom (often, because we have to) to recreate our culture’s food norms. This is something this space will keep coming back to. How can we use our needs to our advantage and to share new hope with those around us?

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Who knew snacks could be such a big deal??

Seriously – how does this relate to spicy cashews and vanilla coconut almonds? Supplying yourself and those you love with nutritious foods, especially on the occasions where every norm calls for dinner-plate sized cookies and heavy pasta-bakes, contributes to a new norm: where sugar doesn’t mean emotional support and “comfort-food” doesn’t mean carbohydrates. A basket of the spicy mix, fresh fruit, and a scented candle makes a great alternative to the go-to bakery box when a friend is going through a tough time, a jar of the coconut-almond blend and map of the near by bike paths would be a welcome change from the classic new neighbor supply of sugar-laden muffins.

These are just my thoughts, not advice or dogma. I hope these feed you and nourish you, and those you love.

Notes: I tolerate duck eggs just fine, despite a chicken egg allergy. This may be you too, if it isn’t I have a suspicion a binder like ground flax would work out here due to the baking element, but I have not tested it. If you do, let us know! Also the spice proportions are to my preference, if you want to kick up the heat or turn it down – make your own modifications!
*These recipes were inspired by the Cinilla nut mix in 21 Day Sugar Detox, and David Lebovitz’s Cocktail mix.

Blueberry, Arugula, & Shrimp Salad

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It’s that time of year when the East Coast has simply decided it’s Spring, occasion 40 degree days or not. Maybe that’s the real embodiment of Spring anyways. The season when things are starting to emerge, with plenty of earth and storms to break through, to arrive just in the nick of time when everyone was starting to get a little worried.

There’s a distinct part to the transition to Spring that calls to the tendency of impatience, the tendency to half-heartedly say “what’s meant to be will arrive,” while furiously working away and forcing every possible potentiality to it’s maximum. That part just before Spring, that moment I think we’re in now; is the part where we’re not quite certain that Winter is over and that the world really will start to bloom, feels like a tense inhale. Holding the breath, praying it will work out. That all our waiting and hard work of Winter will mean something. That the barren season was truly needed for the rebirth. Every year offers the chance to reaffirm that truth, every year this shift in seasons gives a chance to take a deep breath, reminding: “It’s ok, that was important,” and then, finally, a chance to open our hearts (and windows) to take in all the new life, the new gifts that surround.

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I’d like to have some profound way I’ve managed to connect salad to all of this, I don’t. But it is a salad that’s half in and half out: half winter (hello spinach) and half spring (spicy arugula!); half dark and moody (rich blueberries and goat cheese) and half bright and lively (crispy cucumbers, lemony shrimp). It’s absolutely perfect without the shrimp, in fact that was the original way I tested the recipe, but they add a certain substance. If goat cheese isn’t your thing, a cashew or almond ricotta would substitute in nicely. And, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have any fresh thyme, dried would do well – as long as you let the vinaigrette marinate for a little bit longer so the flavors absorb.

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