Oatmeal Applesauce Breakfast Muffins

Prep Time: About 45 minutes | Ingredient Cost: $ or $$

I am all for versatile baking recipes. I like adding ingredients according to seasonal availability (and pantry availability…) without having to switch too many things around. There is a time and a place for a delicate, complicated bake (looking at you, GBBO), but there are far more times and places for quick and easy recipes that still manage to be healthy and tasty.

These vegan and gluten-free muffins are super quick to make and are a pretty healthy option for breakfast or snack when you’re short on time. They are probably more sugary than I should have made them because I added about a quarter cup of dried cherries and apples are pretty high in fructose to begin with. However, compared to other options they are still on the healthy end of things. And like I said, you can easily add and subtract things in this recipe to suit your needs. For example, I added pecans, pumpkin seeds, my favorite spices, chocolate chips, and the aforementioned dried cherries, but the recipe is just as good without all of these things.

Oh! Also! I finally found a no-sugar chocolate chip! Since I’ve stopped eating refined (and most unrefined) sugar, I’ve been looking for chocolate that I could add to my baking that would make even non-restricted eaters happy. While I like 100% dark chocolate, it’s not everyone’s cup of cocoa. I was so thrilled to find Lily’s Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate Chips: no sugar, no weird aftertaste, and a fairly decent ingredient list. The only bummer is the soy lecithin so this brand is not suitable for everyone. I won’t be using this all of the time, but it’s a good option for those instances when multiple palates have to be pleased.


Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs (or flax eggs to make them vegan)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I used grapeseed)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (I swear by America’s Test Kitchen’s mix)
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if your mix already includes this)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. clove (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pecans (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, currants, or cranberries (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the wet ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Be careful not to overmix. The batter should feel light and kind of fluffy.
  5. Spoon into greased muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes.


If oatmeal isn’t your thing, you can use 2 cups of APF, but if your mix doesn’t include xanthan gum, add two teaspoons of it instead of just one. The muffin will be a little bit more cake-like but just as delicious.


Nina’s Pantry Staples

Here is part 3 of our pantry staple series!

I (Nina) have a pretty long list of food intolerances, but the main things I try to stay away from completely are dairy, gluten/wheat, and soy. I try to bring lunches to one of my jobs, and on days that I spend in the studio I make lunch at home. My other job is at a restaurant, so I don’t usually bring food there, but it also means I’m not cooking on those nights. But when I do cook I generally make as much as possible from scratch, and I try to use local ingredients when possible.

Here are some of my staple ingredients. It was actually quite difficult to narrow it down, there are a lot of things I use regularly (and many of them are already on Annika and Marissa‘s lists).


  1. Chickpeas: So versatile! I often make a coconut curry with these, some coconut cream (see below), curry and other spices, and spinach. Great for lunch on a cold day!

coconut cream

2. Coconut cream: I don’t know how I would cook without this. It’s creamy and not super sweet, so it works in savory sauces (it does require a bit more adjusting than heavy cream or sour cream would, but it works), dishes like creamed spinach or corn, and when cold it can be whipped for dessert or turned into chocolate mousse. It’s a bit thicker than canned coconut milk, and while that means it has a bit more fat, I think it’s absolutely worth it!


3. Eggs: (I’m sorry, Marissa!) I stayed away from eggs for a year and a half before reintroducing them, and aside from cheese (which I still miss dearly), they were the thing I missed the most. I usually just soft-boil or poach them and eat with roasted potatoes, or hard-boil them to put on a salad. Eating eggs also means I can eat mayo again (at least the whole foods store brand, because it doesn’t use soy oil, unlike most regular mayo brands), which is great in dressings and when making spicy mayo or aioli to have with french fries, which leads me to the next number:


4. Potatoes: (Confession: I think french fries are my favorite food). Potatoes are so versatile, I think I could eat them every day. Roasted with herbs, as gnocchi, or mashed (try adding a bit of coconut cream when mashing them), they’re amazing. And since I can’t eat wheat, they’re a solid starch that replaces bread or pasta as a side.


5. Honey: I don’t think I’ve ever not had honey in my pantry. These days I eat it with a little peanut butter on rice cakes (both also staples), and put it in tea. And sometimes you just need a spoonful to make the day better. I also eat local bee pollen regularly, to help with my seasonal allergies.

Do you have any staples you can’t live without?

Traveling with Food Restrictions

Eating nutritious food while traveling is difficult enough when you don’t have any allergies, but throw in a few food restrictions, and it gets infinitely more complicated. I have my fair share of junk food cravings while on a road trip, and always want something salty when flying, so the key to enjoying any trip (and not getting hangry!) is being prepared.

One thing I try to always have in my purse is Cashew Cookie Larabars (I get them here and I’m pretty sure I packed about 10 of them for this trip, with allergies, you never know if a wedding buffet will have the right food!). They are made from only cashews and dates, have a bit of sweetness, and are filling enough for in-between meals. They are a life-saver during a busy shift at a restaurant, a traffic jam, and when we got stuck overnight in the delta terminal at the Detroit airport recently.

Turns out spending the night in a terminal is not as much fun as Tom Hanks made it out to be! And while we didn’t get much sleep, we managed not to go hungry, despite the lack of actual restaurants that are open past 10 in that particular airport (we arrived at 10:30, and due to a rain-delay and missed connection stayed until 5am). Luckily one newsstand was still open when we got there, so we stocked up on some overpriced snacks to make it through the night. I thought I had prepared well enough by bringing my own snacks, but I had been prepared for a 6 hour trip, not a 24 hour trip…

In addition to the Larabars I had brought some salted pistachios. I’m allergic to almonds and hazelnuts, so despite wanting the variety of a bag of mixed nuts, I opt for the more boring but safe single variety. One way to still have some variety is to buy the smaller bags of various nuts or seeds, but even when buying these ahead of time at my local grocery store the price adds up. So single variety it is!

Pistachios and granola bars do not make a meal, so I picked up some sea salt Pop Chips at the newsstand. I generally don’t travel with crushable snacks, who wants a bag of chip crumbles? But arriving in Detroit hungry, having missed dinner due to the delayed flight, I wanted something in addition to the pistachios. The pop chips are simple, but they are not as high in calories as some other chips, and the ingredients are simple enough to be safe. Another brand I love is Food Should Taste Good. Just salty enough, and a variety of options without unnecessary ingredients.

To add in some variety, and balance the salt with some sweet, I also bought a bag of gummy bears (actually this was a mixed bag of bears and worms, yes, I felt like such an adult sitting in an airport terminal at 3 am eating gummy worms!). I had meant to bring some coconut caramels that I recently found here. But they accidentally spent the weekend in my kitchen cupboard. So the gummy worms hit the spot.

I also packed a few Justin’s single serving peanut butter pouches, which almost replace a meal with Suzie’s thin rice cakes (here). Because we were flying I didn’t bring the rice cakes (again, crumbles, but they are great for a road trip!), so I had a packet of peanut butter with a Larabar as an early breakfast around 4am.

Fresh fruit would be another great thing to bring (though make sure to pack bananas in a container to prevent banana puree in your purse), but I have allergies to most fresh fruit that travel easily (apples and various other stone fruit). So while my terminal meal was not the healthiest, I managed to replace dinner with some travel snacks that weren’t completely terrible for me.

Packing snacks is much easier for a road trip, where space isn’t limited to what you can (and want to) carry in your purse for hours at a time. In addition to something sweet and something salty I always make sure to bring seltzer water. The bubbles help keep motion sickness at bay, at least for normal trips, driving on curving mountain roads requires a little extra help.

Do you have any trips planned for the summer? What’s your go-to road food?



Cauliflower “Pancakes”


When you can’t eat eggs, wheat, dairy and corn, cooking can be tricky. After some trial and error, I think a well-balanced breakfast is definitely the most challenging meal. I’m not a big breakfast person so some fruit, peanut butter and a gluten-free cereal will of course do the trick. But on the weekends, I definitely miss a big brunch with friends and family.

A few weeks ago, I tried to come up with a healthy but tasty alternative for brunch. I did some research online on how to use cauliflower for breakfast pancakes and found some great recipes. I played around with the ingredients and made my own version of Cauliflower pancakes. They are really easy to make and it’s a nice way to prepare something you can eat that will also be pleasing to your guests for breakfast.

Cauliflower Pancakes

Cost of Ingredients: $          Time: 1 hour total

Biscuits 2 Ways

Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free, Corn-Free

Cost of Ingredients: $          Time: 1 hour total

This blog is meant to be a collective of recipes that are safe for a variety of allergies, and yet delicious for those without allergies. I believe that we succeed in finding, making, and posting many of those recipes, but there are some dishes I have yet to perfect. So today, rather than posting one recipe, I am posting a solution.

Compromise is a huge part of any successful relationship. But sometimes even the best of relationships can use differing opinions. In my house we stick to his and hers orange juice, because he likes as much pulp as possible, and I like no pulp at all. I think a compromise on this topic would lead to some unhappy orange juice drinkers, and since we don’t want that, we buy two bottles. The same applies (for now, I’m not giving up hope!) to biscuits.

bisquits 1

Biscuits are pretty easy to make, so it isn’t too much of an imposition to make two kinds at the same time. To make sure I don’t mix up the bowls I use different colors. While the gluten-free biscuits don’t rise quite as much as the regular ones, I found that the recipe I use for the normal ones adapts pretty well to my allergy substitutions. Following only one recipe also makes the simultaneous baking a little simpler.

In these pictures the regular biscuits are in the green bowl, the gluten-free ones are in the turquoise bowl.

At this stage they look quite similar. I make sure to use different forks to mix the dough so that I don’t cross-contaminate the allergy safe biscuits. Since I don’t have two sets of measuring spoons I measure the allergy safe biscuit ingredients first, then the regular ones. Since this is a simple one-bowl recipe that doesn’t complicate things too much!

When rolling out the dough, I also start with the gluten-free biscuits, that way I don’t have to clean the surface before rolling out the regular ones.

I’m not a fan of one use kitchen gadgets, so I don’t have a biscuit cutter, but a water glass will do the trick. I bake them on the same tray, for the same amount of time, and so far that has worked well for me. If you have very sensitive allergies, however, you might want to use separate trays.

I follow The Smitten Kitchen’s Biscuit recipe, adapted here to be allergy-friendly. Since I usually am only making biscuits for two people, and making two separate batches, I’ve started cutting the recipe in thirds.

3/4 cup gluten-free flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour)

2/3 tsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 Tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter (I use soy-free vegan earth balance)

1/4 cup buttermilk substitute (1/4 cup coconut milk and 1 tsp lemon juice)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in medium-sized bowl.
  3. Prepare buttermilk: Mix coconut milk with lemon juice and let sit for a few minutes.
  4. Add coconut oil or vegan butter to dry ingredients and break up/mix with a fork (I don’t have a pastry cutter, but if you do, feel free to use it here). Dough should be quite crumbly at this point.
  5. Add buttermilk to dough and mix until it comes together. The dough will be quite soft.
  6. Turn onto a floured surface and roll or press to about half an inch thickness.
  7. Cut round shapes with biscuit cutter or glass (water or rocks glass, depending on what you have and what size biscuits you would like).
  8. Place on parchment covered cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until slightly browned.
  9. Enjoy with vegan butter and honey, or nut butter and jam, or however you enjoy biscuits the most!

There is a bit of sugar in these biscuits, but they are by no means sweet. If you would like to adjust the sweetness to make strawberry shortcake, experiment with adding a bit of sugar.



Forbidden Black Rice Pudding

Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan, Corn-Free

Cost of Ingredients: $$          Time: Cooking 3-4 hours in Crockpot, Assembly: 5 mins

blackricepudding 1

I love breakfast. It might have something to do with the fact that I usually wake up hungry. Or the possible combination of sweet and savory dishes. I’m not sure. My dietary restrictions have made breakfast a little more complicated, but this dish is one of my favorite easy week-day things to have. It’s filling, healthy, and there are plenty of flavor combination possibilities to make sure I don’t get sick of it too quickly.

blackricepudding 3

After a little experimenting with soaking and cooking on the stove-top, I realized that the easiest way to make this black rice pudding is in my crockpot. Now I usually forego soaking the rice, and just add it with the milk and water to my crockpot at night, set it on low for 4 hours, and enjoy warm breakfast in the morning. (After the 4 hours my crockpot automatically switches to a warm setting, and continues to stay that way for 8 hours, which is ideal for overnight breakfast cooking)

blackricepudding 4

One batch gives me about 3 servings. I keep what I don’t eat on the first day in a jar in the fridge, ready for the next few weekday breakfasts.

blackricepudding 5

I often top the rice pudding with coconut flakes, pecans or walnuts, cocoa nibs, fruit (I usually have frozen raspberries on hand), pepitas, and bee pollen. A little maple syrup and some cinnamon and cardamom round out the whole thing.

blackricepudding 6

No nuts in this bowl, but I found red currants at my local grocery store that week, their tart flavor was great with the sweetness of the coconut and maple syrup!

Adapted from my friend Jill’s recipe here.

1 cup Forbidden black rice*

3 cups milk substitute of choice**

2 cups water

pinch of salt


  1. Cook rice with milk, water, and salt in slow cooker for 3.5 to 4 hours on low.
  2. Serve warm (or reheated the following day) with toppings of choice.

*I found this at Whole Foods, and while $4 seems a bit steep for rice, it’s healthy, delicious, and 1 16oz bag makes 6 breakfasts for me, so it’s worth it for the breakfast variety. I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon if you would like a larger quantity for a bit less money.

**I use unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, but any milk substitute (or real milk, for that matter) should work well.

***Nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios all work, and if you can eat them, try almonds or hazelnuts); Coconut flakes (I like the large unsweetened ones); Pepitas (or other seeds); Cocoa nibs add a healthy, slightly bitter chocolate crunch; Fruit: berries of all kinds add great sweetness and sometimes a slightly tart flavor, mango works for a tropical flavor, apples and pears with craisins for a bit of fall; Local bee pollen is a great addition if you suffer from allergies; maple syrup or honey if you like it a little sweeter.

Let me know if you try other toppings!


Flax Buckwheat Sandwich Bread

Prep time: about 1 hour all together

Ingredient cost: $

One meal that I definitely miss is a great sandwich, but I’m generally not that into fitting gluten-free/vegan things into molds for which they’re not meant: gluten and yeast-free bread isn’t going to behave like a beautiful sourdough or brioche, and non-dairy cheese doesn’t behave the way a solid slide of cheddar would. And that’s fine. For me, part of not being able to eat a lot of foods is being OK with the fact that the foods I do eat will not taste like the ones I used to eat. They might get close, but comparing them isn’t going to be productive. Different is not the same as bad or lacking, after all.

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