July 2015 - Simply Samantha

Meatless Taco Pie

10:27 AM

This is probably the worst food photography job ever. 
And while it isn't pretty to photograph/look at, it sure is tasty.

You are probably thinking....
"Samantha, how can it be a Taco Pie if there is no meat?"
Lentils my friends, lentils.

Lentils are great for digestive help, are a good source of protein, and heart healthy. 
They are also an easy substitute for beef in some recipes like this one.
They also don't take long to cook so it helps make a meal quick and easy to make.
Meatless Taco Pie
I did not make this dish vegan but it can be easily made vegan if you so desire.  

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 tbsp. homemade taco seasoning (see my recipe here) and more to taste
½ cup salsa
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes (I used red potatoes, mashed up with some earth balance and cashew milk)
The leftover part is important. It helps the crust stay together.
½ cup sour cream (or use vegan sour cream)
Mexican mix cheese (or vegan cheese)
Lettuce, cut and/or shredded 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Mix together your sour cream and add some taco seasoning to it to taste. Set aside.
  • Add the lentils, some salt, and water to a medium-sized saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes, until tender and liquid absorbed. Drain any leftover liquid in the pot.
  • Add the taco seasoning and salsa
  • Take your leftover mashed potatoes and press them into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan like you would a pie crust. Pop into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. 
  • Remove from oven and pour in the lentils. Top with the sour cream mixture and try and spread it out nicely. Pop into the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the pie is nice and hot. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. 
  • Top with lettuce and cheese (and any other topping you see fit)
This is a big husband pleaser. 
His only request was that I don't put tomatoes on top even though I like some diced tomatoes with my taco's. 
But put whatever you would like on top and enjoy!
Happy Cooking Friends

Allergy Free and Vegan Recipes

Vegan+Gluten Free Pasta Salad

8:00 AM

I'm am becoming quite the cook when it comes to cold salads.
Probably because they are super easy to make.
But can you blame me?? Summer time calls for cold salads here in the south.

It is super easy to make this salad vegan too. 
Just use Just Mayo.
(no this is not sponsored ;) )
I LOVE Just Mayo, i've written about it before on my last cold salad recipe which you can check out here.

This Pasta Salad was a hit with the hubster! The leftovers were eaten within 24hrs.

2 Cups of pasta (I mixed LiveGF Penne and Ancient Harvest Penne) , cooked, drained, cooled
½ Cup of diced celery
¼ Cup of chopped red onion
1 Tbls of parsley
½ Cup plus 2 Tbl Vegan Mayo (I used Just Mayo by Hampton Creek)
1 Tbl of mustard (I used Dijon) 
1½ tsp sugar
1½ Tbl apple cider vinegar
½ tsp salt
pepper to taste

  • In a large bowl, add in your cooked and cooled pasta, celery, red onion, and parsley.
  • Add your vegan mayo, mustard, sugar, and vinegar and whisk.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Add more vegan mayo if its too dry or add more celery if you want more crunch!

Happy Cooking Friends! 


Being Supportive of someone living a Gluten Free Lifestyle

9:54 AM

Even though there are numerous amounts of support on the interwebs for those of us living a Gluten Free lifestyle, there are still moments when you are out in public or in a group of friends and you feel completely on your own.

At least, I feel that way. 

Nothing is more disheartening then being around people who just don't understand why you live the way you do.
Am I right? 

I met Steve right around the time my body was at its breaking point and I needed to go completely gluten free. No if, ands, or buts. So he really has been with me on this gluten free journey from the get go. He's been the most supportive person when it comes to my lifestyle that I felt I should share some of the things that he does that gives me the most support (and help) possible.

I also want to point out some of these tips are not just for the husband but for friends and family as well. In the last year or so I have had some friends who have really been amazing and have given the right support towards me when it comes to my allergy. I want to make sure I share what they are doing right so others can learn share!

Feel Free to stick up.
Now this mostly goes for the husbands and friends of an introvert (points to self). I have a hard time ordering food. I don't know what it is but it always makes me anxious and nervous eating at a new place or somewhere where I know there aren't many GF options. In the back of my mind I'm waiting for the waiter to give me the dumb look when I ask if an item on the menu is gluten free.
My husband has learned that he sometimes needs to just ask straight up for me if I'm having trouble. One of my favorite things he does is if I order a salad and forget to tell them no croutons
(I usually don't say anything because I don't have Celiac where having a crouton touch my salad would be an issue. I'd only have an issue if I actually ate the crouton).
He ALWAYS remembers and will tell the waiter for me and not in a way that draws attention to me.
While this is really small and silly, it really shows me his support. He always asks our local ice cream shop what flavors are gluten free when he goes to get our weekly ice cream, and he asks/finds the allergy menus so I can find something to eat when we eat out.
As long as you know it helps the person and they know you are helping, stick up for them, help them out!

Its ok to eat gluten in front of me/us.
This one may be a little biased. Mostly because I've learned to just deal with it and it is kind of selfish to expect my husband to eat gluten free when we go out to eat when he doesn't need to.
He has learned this doesn't bug me and the only time it did was on our honeymoon when he sat in front of me and ate 6 beignets as we sat on the waterfront in Savannah. 
I mean, common, they were beignets
This is was before I discovered Disney Port Orleans had GF beignets. ;) 
However, for everyone else, know it is ok to eat gluten filled goodness in front of us.
I think a lot of people with gluten intolerance, allergies, and even Celiacs Disease understand that not everyone gets to be on the special lifestyle train with us cool people.
We don't need you to justify or apologize for eating that Olive Garden bread stick in front of us.
Its ok. Just act normal.

Don't act like we are children in need of special attention
This kind of goes along with the first tip.
Even though I love my husband and that he will stick up for me when I need help ordering food, he also doesn't baby me. He doesn't make a spectacle in a restaurant and points out that I am "gluten free" and need special assistant. Even though I am an introvert, push comes to shove, I can deal with my gluten allergy on my own and can stick up for myself and order my own food.
As you can tell this is one I am very passionate about because I feel like many people see those of us living this lifestyle as "special". And while we are special in a certain way we don't need to be pointed out like the multicolored cow in the middle of the room.
I have had too many experiences with people (intentional or not) pointing me out at table to the waiter who then comes over and talks to me like I'm 6. 
Nope. Just don't. 
Like i said in the first tip,we like the help, but do it in the right way and not like I just described. 

Cater but also don't Cater
I have a dear friend who had a great balance of catering our weekly dinner get together to my allergy but also doing it in a way that didn't make me feel bad or an inconvenience. I think how she did is is a great example of how you can be a great host to someone with gluten issues and in turn show your support.
She would aways let me know what she was making and asked what she could do to make it GF.
And if it was too difficult or complicated, she was always open to letting me bring my own additions to the meal so I could eat it. 
Us GF peeps understand the whole world is not catered to us so we are NOT offended if you can't make your entire meal GF. Don't make it harder on yourself! 
I know myself, I like to bring my own additions just so I know there is something I can eat, and if I can do that without offending the host, thats a plus. 
Offer to cater the meal but don't be offended if we protest and offer to bring our own food. And again don't make it harder on yourself. Gluten Free cooking is a pain the butt sometimes, so leave it to us to figure it out. :) 

Never assume, always ask
This kind correlates a little bit with the last one. If you are not sure if what you are making for your GF friend is indeed GLUTEN FREE, please ask. I have had so many family member and friends make me things and then I realize later (after some belly pain) that it wasn't gluten free. 
Please understand that what YOU think is gluten free might not be!
We can't always catch the gluten, especially when someone close to us has made it and tells us so. We trust you so if you aren't sure or want to double check, ALWAYS DO SO. We are not anoyed or offended. We are happy to answer questions. 
Now, I say this from PAST experience, I have gotten much better about it now and even if someone close to me has made it, I always double check. But if you are the one making the dish, save us the time (and possibly offending you) by asking us about it and letting us check the ingredients.

We are still normal
I think bottom line is that we are normal people just living a special lifestyle. Be considerate but not also don't make us the center of attention.

I hope some people can relate to this. I know not everyone will. I'm a very introverted person by nature so I tend to not like it when something is about me or I get put in the spotlight.

I don't expect everyone to fully understand our gluten free lifestyle, but I feel the more us GF people are open about how we feel the more people can understand and be supportive. 

I'd love to hear some of your tips and advice on being supportive for your gluten free lifestyle!
We all need it, just in the right way and approach!

Till next time friends!

P.S this article made me laugh. Basically is what NOT to say to someone who is gluten free and it is 100% accurate lol

P.P.S to all my family and friends reading this. Know I am not pointing out anyone specifically. This is just a general advice post I wrote up and not directed towards anyone ;) 

black beans

Black Bean Burritos

8:00 AM

This is a great Meatless Monday meal! Super simple and tasty.
Which if you cant tell by now, is how I like my meals. ;) 

Rice is always something I am worried will not cook well in the crock pot. I've just never had any success. With this recipe I let it sit on low for about 4 hours and then turned up the heat for another 4hours and I feel it helped tremendously. So if you are home and can adjust the crock pot accordingly, this recipe is for you!

Crock-Pot Black Bean Burritos
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) of Diced Tomatoes or about 5 fresh tomatoes to measure about 28 ounces
1/4 cup of your Favorite Salsa
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
2 cans (14.5 to 15 ounces each) Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup uncooked Brown Rice
1/2 cup canned whole kernel corn 
2 cups vegetable broth
 Corn tortillas

In your slow cooker add the tomatoes, salsa, beans, rice, corn, taco seasoning and broth.
Stir and cover.
Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours 
Like I said before, adjust the crock pot as needed. I had to up the heat after 4 hours to cook the rice
The rice will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.

Happy Cooking Friends! 

crock pot meal

Veggie Gumbo

8:00 AM

I'm no expert on gumbo but I feel like this recipe is pretty darn good. And its totally vegetarian and gluten free!
While I don't make it super spicy (Yes, I know that is the whole point of Gumbo) this is a great recipe that you can pick and chose to your own taste. My husband prefers a more spicy gumbo so he add's a bit more later on.
Veggie Gumbo
Veggie Gumbo

2 - 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, un-drained
1-16 ounce package frozen sweet pepper and onion stir-fry vegetables
(I use a bag of the tri-colored peppers and cut up a fresh onion and add it)
2 cups frozen cut okra
1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
3 cups hot cooked white or brown rice

*Side note* Everything in this recipe is organic EXCEPT the okra.
 It is SO hard to find okra organic, especially in my area.

  • In a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker combine beans, tomatoes, frozen stir-fry vegetables, frozen okra, and Cajun seasoning.
  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Ladle gumbo into shallow bowls over hot cooked rice.

Super easy right? Its prefect for summer because it isn't to hot or heavy.

Happy Cooking Friends!