Friday, October 29

Onion-free and garlic-free pumpkin chili

I have a confession to make: we eat far more onions and garlic than we're supposed to.  If you've checked out our Restricted Foods page, you've seen the explanation blurb in the Foods Not Yet Assessed section regarding the Allium family.  Up until now, we've been loathe to cut out onions and garlic from our diet because we like their flavor and, quite frankly, it's kind of intimidating cooking without onion or garlic.  I mean, it's rare that a savory recipe doesn't include one or both.  However, according to all the sites I've read on Porphyria and sulfur sensitivities, including multiple anecdotes from people living with Porphyria, all foods in the Allium family should be avoided.  So, that means no onion, no garlic, no chives - none of that!

After doing some research, I found out that onion and garlic are fairly easy to replace as long as they are not the star-player of the recipe.  Essentially, they are just aromatics to give a little (or a lot) of extra oomph to the recipe.  So, to replace the oomph from one aromatic, you need some oomph from another aromatic.  The main suggestion for replacement has been celery.  Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of celery.   I refuse to eat it if it's raw, but if it's hidden in a meal, well, OK.  Because of this, I've hesitated to even attempt an onion free and garlic free recipe using celery.    

Then I saw Ashley's pumpkin chili.  Not only did the recipe and accompanying photos look amazing (except for the kidney beans - they give me the heeby jeebies), but there wasn't a crazy amount of onion or garlic included.  So I decided it would be my first attempt at an onion free and garlic free recipe.

I plan on writing another post that includes tips and such on cooking onion free and garlic free (If y'all have any tips, please share.).  In the meantime, if you are highly sensitive or allergic double check everything!  I accidentally had traces of both onion and garlic in my recipe; I used a homemade broth that included both and the chili powder I used has garlic powder. 

I cooked the chili uncovered, so it was extra thick.   At that consistency, it would make amazing chili mac or as a sauce base for pizza with some shredded chicken on top.  I didn't get to try any of those options because I finished it, but next time!

Onion free and garlic free pumpkin chili
liberally adapted from (never home)maker with onion free and garlic free inspiration from

I'm writing this recipe as I cooked it, but please see below for my comments and suggestions.


  • 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dry (or 1 can drained and rinsed) great northern beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dry (or 1 can drained and rinsed) small red beans
  • 1 can corn kernels, drained
  • 1 14 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, keep the juice
  • 1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 
    • Sliced avocado, shredded cheese, and/or tortilla chips for topping.  
    • For increased carbohydrates: cooked pasta such as macaroni noodles if the chili is thick, orzo if it is thinner.


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the celery. Cook until onions are tender. Pour in the beans, corn kernels, pumpkin puree, tomatoes,  vegetable broth, and seasonings (including herbs).  Mix.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When stirring, crush the whole tomatoes enough to mix them in a bit, but keep them chunky.  Then lower the heat to a simmer and either cover for a thinner chili or leave uncovered for a thicker chili. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Verdict & notes:

  • First and foremost, I would increase all the spices, save the cayenne pepper - Dude, that stuff packs some heat!  
  • Second, I would definitely increase (maybe double?) the fresh herbs; I'm still getting used to cooking with fresh herbs, so I've been starting off light.  Also, Ashley originally suggested to add the herbs toward the end, but I really needed them to flavor the mixture, so I added them in the beginning.  Thoughts? 
  • Third, I might increase the celery by a stalk or two; I originally started out with one and a half and had to add some more in at the end (the recipe reflects this).    
  • Finally, the pumpkin doesn't add much flavor, so don't be put off by it's addition to the chili; if you want some of the flavor to shine, add an additional half to a full can of pumpkin puree.  
All that said, I definitely liked this chili.  I ate it a few times without anything else, which is saying something for me.

*If you are being strict about removing all things onion and garlic, leave out the chili powder and substitute with up to 1 tablespoon of ground red pepper and increase the cumin to 1 teaspoon.  I'm not sure how it will taste, but if anyone tries it, please let me know. Also, make your own vegetable broth without the offending onion and garlic (how-to post coming eventually).

Tuesday, October 26

10 Foods you didn't know had soy, 3rd edition: Candy special

When I first decided to make the "Foods you didn't know had soy" posts into a series, I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough food items to keep the series going.  Well, I needn't have worried!  There is no shortage of foods that contain soy.

Case in point: Tara and I were at the Dollar store this past weekend and, since Tara can get lost in there and I'm not much of a fan, I decided to check out their food section to see if I could find a few items with soy.   Holy cow! Did I hit the jackpot!  There were so many items that I actually started to get pissed off and upset. I kept running over to Tara to show her a pic, while exclaiming, "This [pointing at the pic], this has soy!"  (It should be noted that while there were a fair amount of off-brands, there was also a significant number of name brands.)

The biggest surprise was the candy aisle.  I found so many items that, in the spirit of Halloween this weekend, I decided to dedicate an entire edition to candy. I didn't list any chocolate candies because I already mentioned chocolate in the first edition.  So, if a candy has chocolate, you're pretty much guaranteed that it also has soy.  Even with ignoring the chocolate candy, I still found soooo many other candy products that have soy!

1. Bit-O-Honey

Bit-O-Honey Candy, 16 Oz

2. Caramel candies

Ferrara Pan Vanilla Milk Caramels, 16 oz

3. Caramel Creams (Bull's Eyes)

Goetze's Caramel Creams, 16 Oz.

I loved these growing up.

4. Certs mints

Certs Mints, Spearmint, 0.72-Ounce Packages (Pack of 48)

5. Wrigley's Spearmint gum

Wrigley's Spearmint Gum, 40 5-stick packages

Every single flavor of Wrigley's that I checked out has soy, including the Orbit White Bubblemint sitting in my drawer at work.  Glee Gum is a great alternative, but it doesn't last nearly as long as regular gum.

6. Creme Savers

Creme Savers Hard Candy Strawberry & Creme, 6-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

I didn't actually see these at the Dollar store, but I found them when reading the Wrigley's website.

7. Willy Wonka Laffy Taffy

Wonka Laffy Taffy Assorted Flavors, 12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

8. Now and Later

Now and Later Apple Flavored Candy Forty-Eight 4-Piece Bars

9. Pez

PEZ Disney, Best of Pixar, 0.58-Ounce Assorted Candy Dispensers (Pack of 12)

I'm not sure why, but this disappointed me the most

10. Sugar Daddy's (and Babies)

Sugar Babies, 6-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12)

Charms Sugar Daddy Milk Cramel LolliPops - 24 Pops/ Box

Alison, over at Sure Foods Living, made a list of all the available soy free candy that she was able to find.  Also, in doing my searching online, I found a few places that sell soy-free candy; Natural Candy Store has a great selection (no affiliation).

Thursday, October 21

Key West coconut butter lime cookies

These cookies are the result of a total fail. I got the idea to make coconut butter from Edible Perspective and, while I had such high hopes for it, I just didn't like it. First, I used shaved coconut instead of coconut flour and I couldn't get it completely smooth so there were little pieces of coconut throughout. Second, and most importantly, I love the smell of coconut, but I don't really like the taste of it! I attempted to improve the flavor a bit by adding a little lime oil, but it didn't work.

I didn't want to waste it so I stuck it in the fridge until I could figure something out to do with it. Finally, I had the brilliant idea to make coconut butter cookies (a la peanut butter cookies).  Success!  These cookies are ridiculously good!  They remind me of  the lime sugar cookies that Tara and I couldn't get enough of during our last trip to the Keys.  One of my friends said that they were a cross between a margarita and Key West (because Key West is a flavor, right?).

What is it about the smell of coconut that makes you think of the beach and summer?

Before I give you the recipe, I present: Cookie Art, by Tara.  :)

Key West coconut lime butter cookies
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 75th year anniversary

A few observations: (1) If you decide to make your own coconut butter (and you should, because these cookies rock), make sure you get unsulphured and unsweetened dessicated coconut.  (2) Both the lime and the coconut (say it with me: put the lime in the coconut...) are actually pretty mild. 

You can purchase your lime oil from Boyajin; I gotta say, they are well worth the money. You can substitute lime extract, but increase the level to 1 teaspoon.  Also, if you're not a fan of lime, you could substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; I still have some coconut butter left, so I may make a version like this - I bet it would smell amazing!

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime oil
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 375F.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter and coconut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and lime until combined . Beat in the flour, stirring if necessary. If the dough is difficult to handle, cover and chill for about 30 minutes.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional granulated sugar to coat. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten by making crisscross marks with the tines of a fork. Bake for 9 to 13 minutes (less for softer cookies) or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to a wrack and let cool.

Monday, October 18

Penne with zucchini ribbons and mushrooms

I've been working on a granola post (plus several others) to give you, but I'm still tweaking the recipe, so instead I give you penne with zucchini ribbons and a quick write-up.  (This is your cue to look at me like I'm crazy and say, "But Sunshine, it's Fall!   Zucchinis are for summer."  And to that I say, "Well, somebody needs to tell the people at Publix because they just had zucchini on sale last weak, so there.")

Also, I'm going to refer to the zucchini as zukes, because that what we call them at home and I like the way it sounds.  Hope you don't mind.

This is an awesome meal for both AIP and non-AIP folks.  Because the pasta amount is adjustable, you can have as much or as little carbs as you want or need.   We've had this a few times and I've occasionally just had the zuke noodles and pesto on their own.

Penne with zucchini ribbons and sauteed mushrooms

While not so original, I prefer it topped with sauteed mushrooms just like some other recipes.  Roasted pesto stuffed tomatoes (see Smitten kitchen and Veggie Belly's recipes) are a great accompaniment.

  • 3 zucchini squashes
  • 2+ tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup pesto*
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan
  • pasta of your choice


Pumpkin seeds:
Heat oven to 350F.  Spread pumpkin layers in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Toast for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on these, they go from just right to burned pretty quickly.  A few minutes before they're finished, they'll start to puff up and pop (which is fun to watch, by the way).  When they're done, they seeds will be mostly puffed up and a greenish brown color.  Conversely, you can toast them on the stove top on an ungreased pan over med heat, shaking frequently; I've never actually done it this way, so I can't speak to its effectiveness.  (Because I use so many pumpkin seeds, I usually toast a large batch in the toaster oven and store them so they're recipe-ready.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Dump in the pasta, boil for a minute or so and turn off the heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and cover.  Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking.  Check the pasta frequently after the 10 minute mark to determine when the pasta is done.  I find this method a lot easier to cook pasta than the traditional method. Once the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot. Also, if you don't want to add oil to your pasta, you can rinse it once or twice in cold water (Tara thinks this is blasphemy, but she's also part Italian; I'm part Puerto Rican and can make up my own pasta rules.).

While you're waiting for the pasta water to boil, heat a large skillet over med - med/high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil.  After the oil has heated, add the butter and cook until it has foamed.  Add the sliced mushrooms and stir to coat in the butter-oil mixture; season with a little salt and pepper.  Saute the mushrooms until they are done to your liking, 10-15 minutes.  Empty into a bowl.

Prep your zukes while the pasta and mushrooms are cooking; do this first if you're not confident in your speedy kitchen skills. Peel the zukes. Then working around it's length, peel strips of flesh off.  Continue until you get to the seed (You can throw away the remaining bits or use them up in a creative way; I haven't figured this out yet.).  When the mushrooms are done, heat up the remaining oil if you need it (That's the "+" in the recipe.).  Put your zuke strips in the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently; you want them to soften up a bit, but still have some crispness to them.  When they are done, toss them with the pesto and pumpkin seeds.

To serve, plate the noodles, top with the zuke noodle, pesto, pumpkin seed mixture, and, finally, top with the mushrooms and grated parmesan.

*Note: I just realized that there are no pumpkin seeds in the pictures, but add them anyway.  They give a nice crunch.  Also, we use homemade pesto and since we like ours on the dry side, it takes a little more to get good coverage.  Adjust this to your preferences.

Thursday, October 7

5 Foods you didn't know had soy, 2nd edition

In my continuing efforts to eliminate all soy products from the foods we eat at home, I've found even more foods that I never realized contained soy - so much so that I'm making my posts on "Foods you didn't know had soy in them" an occasional series!  This one is my second post (in case you couldn't tell from the title...); be sure to check out the first post.

1. Margarine


2. Potato chips

Baked Lay's Barbecue Flavor, 9 Ounce (Pack of 3)

3. Bottled tomato sauce

Ragu Pasta Sauce, Chunky Garden Style, Super Mushroom, 45 Ounce Bottles (Pack of 4)

4. Vegetable oil

Pure Wesson 100% Natural Vegetable Oil 24 Fl Oz ( Pack of 3)

This might sound obvious, but I was so surprised when I checked my bottle of 'vegetable' oil and the only ingredient was soybean oil.

5. Non-stick cooking spray

Smart Balance Omega Non-Stick Cooking Spray, 6 oz (Pack of 12)
I have this brand in my cabinet.

The above spray has an oil blend that contains soybean oil and it also has soy lecithin.  For each spray I checked, all varieties, even olive and sunflower oil, had soy lecithin.  Your best bet here is to either get one of those pump spray things or go old-school.

Note: While not all varieties of a product contain soy, each of the items pictured above does.  For most items, there are a variety of alternatives; some, however, may be harder to find than others.

BIG THANKS to Maggie Hoffman from Serious Eats for linking this post!
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