Resources for Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Vegan Recipes | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Fifteen

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

I’m taking things easy on this last Saturday of summer and sharing some of my favorite resources for finding nut-free, gluten-free vegan recipes. The good news is that many vegan food bloggers tag their recipes when they don’t contain a specific allergen, and some even have separate categories and lists of recipes without certain ingredients. Plus, there are plenty of vegan brands with nut-free and gluten-free options if you don’t feel like making your own food! Here are some of my favorites.

Blogs with nut-free and/or gluten-free vegan recipes

Brands with nut-free and/or gluten-free vegan products

  • Amy’s Kitchen. Many of Amy’s ready-made meals are vegan, and plenty of those are gluten-free. They even have a product list that you can sort by ingredient — here’s the list of vegan, nut-free, gluten-free items they offer. I don’t buy a lot of convenience meals, but I do like their black bean and veggie enchiladas!
  • Daiya. Most vegans have Strong Feelings™ on Daiya, but regardless of how you feel about its products, you have to appreciate that its cheeses and other non-dairy products are free from gluten, soy, and nuts! I’m lukewarm on many Daiya products but do like their Greek-style yogurts, and I’ve heard that their new cutting board cheeses are a step up from the original shreds.
  • Enjoy Life.  The company’s tagline is “eat freely,” and all products are wheat-free and gluten-free, as well as free from 14 common allergens. Look for the signature teal packaging on products such as cookies, chocolate bars, lentil crisps, and more.
    Note: The Food Empowerment Project (which judges whether a company sources certain ingredients ethically) doesn’t recommend Enjoy Life’s chocolate. If you are not comfortable buying chocolate that may have been produced using child labor or slavery, skip Enjoy Life’s chocolate-based snacks.

These are by no means a comprehensive lists! These are just some of the blogs and brands I’m most familiar with. Feel free to share your own allergy-friendly favorites!

Gluten-Free, Nut-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Fourteen

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

It’s been a tasty week in our household! Aside from all the yummy, oat-y treats we’ve been eating, we’ve had a few really tasty dinners. On Thursday night I roasted up some  roasted corn on the cob along with tofu marinated in this garlicky, herby delight. Served alongside some kale sautéed with cherry tomatoes from the garden, it all made for a healthy, veggie-forward, and immensely flavorful meal. A couple hours after eating, I decided that a delicious dinner like that one deserved to be followed up with dessert. It would be rude not to, right?

I didn’t want to spend too much time on a fussy, complicated treat, though. So I I turned to the queen of simple, relatively healthy, allergen-friendly vegan desserts: Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her healthy sugar cookies come together super quickly and make a perfect treat when you’re peckish at night, so I figured I should give her chocolate chip cookies a shot. I whizzed up some oats my VitaMix’s dry container to make flour; all the other ingredients are pantry staples.

The eagle-eyed among you (hah) will notice that my cookies look nothing like the ones on Katie’s website. There’s a good reason for that. For one, I didn’t quite pulverize the oats finely enough, so they didn’t quite become the texture of flour. (I actually enjoyed the slightly grainy texture!) More problematic was my failure to chill the dough for two hours. It was already 8 p.m. and I was craving sweets, so I forewent the full chill in favor of an abbreviated 15-minute fridging. That’s probably why they spread so much. They were still delicious.

Although these cookies don’t have the buttery richness you find in traditional choc chip cookies, they were still quite satisfying… a more than adequate follow-up to our tasty dinner. I think you could even replace the oil with vegan butter if you wanted a more traditional flavor. I’m happy to add these to my arsenal for a fuss-free, allergen-friendly vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Nut-Free Vegan Cheese | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Thirteen

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

It’s become a bit of a tradition: At our annual holiday party, the dinner table threatens to buckle under the weight of a massive spread. All vegan, all delicious, all devoured by the end of the night. And each year, I have to put together a vegan cheese platter for my expectant guests. Because one of our friends is allergic to nuts, I always make sure to include at least one nut-free cheese, and usually another made with almonds (like my sister, my friend is also allergic to all nuts except almonds!).

Last year, though, something tasted off with my cheeses. Though none of my guests commented on it, I detected a strange, almost chemical aftertaste in the varieties that used agar. Since then, I’ve been wary of cooking with it, even though I know in all likelihood it was a bad batch or had maybe been sitting in the cupboard too long. I’ll invest in a new supply of agar  closer to the holiday season, but for now, I’ve been avoiding any agar-based cheese recipes.

Happily, Vegan Richa just happens to have an agar-free nacho cheese slice recipe that’s also nut-free! She uses chickpea flour as a base; this magical ingredients provides both bulk and the ability to firm up when cool. Genius! (I buy my chickpea flour (aka besan) at the local Asian market, and I love that it comes in a paper bag like other flours. You can find various brands online, though most are packaged in plastic.)

Richa uses lots of savory ingredients to pack her cheese full of flavor: pickled jalapeños, chipotle peppers, smoked paprika, roasted red pepper, and chili flakes, plus various spices. As you can imagine, this creates quite a spicy cheese! I forgot how powerful a kick this recipe packs when I made it this weekend; next time, I’ll cut down on some of the ingredients so it’s not quite as overpowering.

This recipe is a great one to keep in your repertoire! It’s relatively simple, and after refrigerating the mixture for a couple hours, you’ll have a cheese block that should withstand slicing and grating. No, the slices won’t be as firm as you’ll get with an agar-based cheese, but it’s a small price to pay! And if it doesn’t solidify as much as you’d like (which has happened to me before), you can just call it a spread and nobody will be the wiser. ;) Alternatively, stick it in the freezer for a couple minutes before slicing into it.

If you’re looking for additional nut-free vegan cheese recipes, here are a few!

  • Easy vegan queso. This isn’t fancy or gourmet, but it’s actually my go-to quick queso recipe! It’s so simple and requires only the most basic ingredients. (Yes, I count nutritional yeast as a basic ingredient.) I definitely recommend mixing in some salsa or Ro-Tel at the end for a kick, and don’t omit the 2 tablespoons of vegan butter — it makes a difference.
  • Potato- and carrot-based cheese sauce. Variations on this recipe have been floating around for years; I haven’t tried this exact iteration, but the other ones I’ve made have all been really tasty… and healthy!
  • Eggplant and caramelized onion cheese sauce. Mmm, caramelized onions. I made this a while back and enjoyed it.
  • Smoked coconut gouda. This sliceable, grate-able cheese uses a coconut milk base and pectin rather than agar. I’ve made it a few times and it’s good, if a little too smoky for my tastes. It would be a really nice, mild creamy cheese if you omitted the liquid smoke.
  • Coconut mozzarella. Similar to the above recipe, this one uses coconut milk for a mozzarella that’s just crying out to be sliced onto pizza.
  • Cheddar cheese ball. Like the slices I’m posting about here, this recipe also uses chickpea flour. I made this cheese ball for my last Christmas party and it was a hit.
  • Paprika cheese made with sweet potatoes and oats. I made this recipe (sans agar) and was going to post about it, but it was not photogenic. But it’s good! And it uses oats, my ingredient du semaine.

What’s your go-to vegan cheese recipe?!

Strawberry Oat Milk | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Nine

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

This week’s theme is near and dear to my heart. My sister is terribly allergic to most nuts (except almonds), so I’ve become quite attuned to their presence in everything I eat! Watching her have to whip out the Benadryl or her EpiPen — and visiting her in the emergency room on one scary occasion — has made me hyper-aware of how sneakily pervasive nuts can be. She can also be sensitive to cross-contamination, so I’m pretty careful to stow the peanut butter and the cashews (a particularly bad trigger) whenever she comes to town.

So this week, my eats will be nut-free — and occasionally gluten-free, too. I know (and have baked for!) a few celiacs, and it can be tough! But it’s also totally doable with a little research and a few key ingredients.

During most of this week, I’m going to be focusing on one superstar nut-free, gluten-free ingredient: oats! Just be sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats if you’re cooking for someone with severe celiac disease so you don’t make them sick due to cross-contamination.

So let’s start the week with something fun: strawberry milk! Oat milk is one of the cheapest and easiest non-dairy milks to make, and it’s especially great for baking. (There’s a whole section in the America’s Test Kitchen vegan cookbook about why; basically, the extra sugars in oat milk (compared to nut milks) help baked good brown.) And its creamy, almost sweet flavor makes it a great base for a super-simple, visually pleasing pale pink drink. (Mine is very pale, simply because I didn’t have a ton of strawberries on hand! I’ll likely make it again with more strawberries and get a much more vibrant pink drink.

The method couldn’t be simpler; you just blend oats, water, a couple dates (for sweetness), a little vanilla, and a pinch of salt together, then strain out any remaining solids using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. I also recommend briefly soaking and then washing your oats before making the milk. I know it sounds finicky, but giving them a few baths and swirling and draining the water until it runs almost clear helps to reduce the one occasional unpleasant aspect of oat milk: a bit of sliminess. Moving on!

So, why strawberries? I just happened to have them in the fridge. :) I made strawberry shortcakes for a crazy-amazing vegan wing night (!) and had some berries leftover, and I figured they’d make a fun addition.

Strawberry Oat Milk

  • 1 cup rolled oats, soaked for 15 minutes and then rinsed
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes (you can soak them with the oats)
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 strawberries, tops removed (Try giving them to your pup as a treat!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional; or use seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean)
  • Pinch salt (optional)

Blend all ingredients for 2-3 minutes on high (ideally in a high-powered blender), then strain using a nut milk bag. Chill and enjoy… or save to use in a baking recipe for an infusion of strawberry flavor!

* Keep in mind that oat milk tends to separate in the fridge no matter how vigorously you blend and strain it, so give it a shake before drinking or using!
* Also note that this is more a method than a recipe! The proportions don’t really matter. Less water will make a creamier milk (or even a coffee creamer!); more strawberries will make it pinker and more strongly flavored. This recipe isn’t terribly sweet, so you may want to add a little agave nectar or maple syrup if you like things sweeter. Just don’t do what I once did and accidentally leave in your date pits, or you’ll get a bitter-tasting surprise!

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