Labor Day Cookout: Organic BBQ Chicken and Kale Chips [Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free]

Kale Chips

Happy Labor Day, everyone! To me, labor day is a bittersweet holiday- “no more white” (pish posh), the pools start to close, fall seems just around the corner (hello riding boots and blazers), and, here’s the saddest bit, summer is over. Talk about summertime sadness. What’s the best way to bid adieu to summer? Put on a sundress, make some pink lemonade, and have a cookout!

Organic BBQ Chicken and Kale Chips

This is how Nika does a cook out- BBQ organic chicken drumsticks, homemade kale chips, and quinoa and brown rice. Abandon the burger, hold off on the hot dog, steer clear of the soda, and ditch the diet disaster desserts- this is an Eat. Tone. Love. cookout.

I love the way that food tastes when it has been cooked on the grill, so we picked up these organic chicken drumsticks at Whole Foods for our cookout. We marinated the chicken in Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce, which is also found at Whole Foods. Some gluten free, vegan, and all natural condiments and BBQ sauces can taste way off (cough, sorry Annie’s), but Stubb’s BBQ sauce is downright delicious. The original is really stellar, and reminds me of a Sweet Baby Rays with a little less heat (and also lacking the high fructose corn syrup). I’ve also tried Honey Pecan, which was… quite unpleasant, probably because of the ginger (which is not my fav). Regardless, you can’t go wrong with the original, and I’m sure the other flavors, including Sticky Sweet, Spicy, Sweet Heat, Hickory Bourbon, and Smokey Mesquite, are delicious as well.

Stubb's Original BBQ

After marinating our chicken, we cooked our drummies on the grill for about 20-25 minutes, turning routinely until cooked through.

Organic BBQ Chicken

You can also brush some olive oil on your naked chicken breasts and cook them partially on the grill before coating them with BBQ sauce. With that technique, you’ll get a juicier BBQ sauce coating. Our method (marinating in the BBQ before grilling) results in a milder BBQ taste because some of the sauce cooks off, but the BBQ sauce will caramelize and form a nice crunch on the chicken.

Organic BBQ Chicken

Now for the kale chips, and this recipe is my best kale recipe to date. Everyone loved these kale chips, and someone even commented that this was the best way they’ve ever had kale. Why, thank you. These chips had a perfect amount of crunch and chew. Enough crispness without being overcooked. Enough flavor without being overwhelming. As a lover of all chips, the kale chip is the perfect replacement for potato chips- I still get my crunchy side dish, just minus the fat and questionable carbohydrates.

Kale Chips

First, buy some good quality kale, preferably organic, as it is particularly important to buy greens and lettuces organic as they are most susceptible to pesticides. The kale I bought was very leafy, which I think was key to the recipe- lots of surface area. First, cut off the tough spines and stems and discard (or use for juicing). The stems are quite tough and bitter, so using just the leaf will produce a much tastier kale chip.

Kale Chips

Here you can see some of my chopped kale leaves. You can make your chips whatever size you prefer, but keep in mind that they will shrink and shrivel in the oven, so cut your chips a little larger.

Kale Chips

Place your chopped kale leaves into a large bowl. This may look like a lot of kale, but, unfortunately, it really isn’t when you’re making kale chips! You know how you can put what seems like a gallon of spinach into a skillet and still only end up with a cup of cooked spinach? Yep, same concept. I cut up about ¾ of a head of kale for the cookout, which produced the amount of kale chips seen in my picture at the top of this post.

Kale Chips

Coat your kale chips with one tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ tsp of garlic powder, 1/8 tsp of nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to taste. I use a generous amount of salt, as the salt helps cut the bitterness of the kale.

Kale Chips

Lay your kale chips out on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Taking the time to lay out the chips so they aren’t stacked on top of one another will yield a crispier chip.

Kale Chips

Place kale chips into a preheated oven set at 350ºF. Cook for 10 minutes and remove. Your chips will begin to darken, shrink, and crisp up. Flip the chips over and place into the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Kale Chips

Om nom nom, healthy kale chip goodness. Not only are these crispy kale chips a perfect side dish or snack, they are low in calories at fat (take that, potato chips), high in fiber, iron, and vitamins K, C, and A, and full of powerful antioxidants. Further, the olive oil adds some healthy unsaturated fats to this treat.

I long to see the day that people show up to cookouts with veggie burgers, organic chicken, bowls of kale chips, homemade salsa, quinoa salads, fruit salads, and healthy vegan desserts. We can make this happen- we can reinvent the American summer cookout, and it starts with you, my Eat. Tone. Lovers! It won’t happen overnight, and you might meet some opposition, but by incorporating healthy yet mouthwateringly delicious recipes like these, you will surely win over even the most stubborn eater.

❤ Nika


Turkey Burgers on Gluten Free Buns (Gluten Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free)

Turkey Burger on GF BunI made these tasty little mamacitas the other night from scratch. There’s something about a homemade turkey burger that really hits the spot. My recipe for turkey burgers is simple yet delicious; All you’ll need is some organic ground turkey, red pepper, onion, gluten free panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. I incorporate these ingredients together by hand in a large mixing bowl, form them into hockey puck sized patties, and drop the patties into a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. I typically cook them 8-10 minutes per side, flipping once.

Turkey Burger on GF Bun

I served these scrumptious turkey patties on a gluten free vegan bun… ohmygosh. I can’t even tell you the last time I had a bun… or any bread for that matter. Bread that is gluten free and vegan is quite hard to find, as most of your typical GF brand breads contain egg (grrr). So, as of recently, the only bread-like products I’ve had have been gluten free wraps that never keep their form and break instantly when you try to roll them and GF vegan waffles. However, I discovered a treasure during my last trip to the Good Foods Co-Op: Schar GF Classic White Rolls…dr_schar_white_rolls

Cue the heavenly music, because these babies were like a shimmering pot of gold at the end of the aisle. Additionally, I purchased some of their multigrain bread, but they also have baguettes (omg), sandwich rolls, ciabatta, deli style bread, and BAGELS. I didn’t see any of the bagels (with flavors such as cinnamon raisin, mmm) at the Co-Op, but I’ll have to take a closer look in the frozen section, because I definitely need to try those. As far as taste, these buns (or “rolls” as Schar calls them) are incredibly delicious and the closest thing I’ve tasted to the “real thing.” I lightly toasted the buns before topping them with my turkey burgers; they’re a little hard to fit into the toaster, but if I lightly flatten the pre-cut rolls with my hand, they’ll glide into my toaster like Cinderella’s slipper.

Turkey Burger on GF Bun

And what would a turkey burger be without some toppings? So I sliced some fresh avocado (can’t go wrong with that green goddess!), sprinkled a pinch of Daiya Pepperjack Cheese, and drizzled some organic ketchup on top. I served this handheld delight with some steamed broccoli and some Kettle cooked BBQ chips to complete the summer grill out ambiance.

Turkey Burger on GF Bun

The burger was melt in your mouth delicious and the gluten free bun was better than the real thing- tasted delicious and actually held its shape without crumbling into a gluten free mess. The avocado was the perfect accent to the savory turkey burger, and the organic ketchup added a lovely bite of acidity to the meal. I could have done without the cheese, even though there was so little on there that I could barely taste it. I used to be a complete cheese addict and cheese snob, but now, especially when it comes to fake cheese, I’m mainly like “meh, no thanks.” Cheese, real, fake, or otherwise, is cool, but do you really need it? Nah. What you need are fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains… just sayin’. Either way, regardless of your opinion on cheese or your favorite toppings, try out these homemade turkey burgers and go find some Schar bread- you won’t be disappointed!

Review of Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen, Lexington, KY

Vinaigrette Vegan Power Salad with Chicken

Vinaigrette Salad Kitchen is a new restaurant off of Leestown Road that describes themselves as a “fast casual salad shop serving fresh gourmet salads.” As the first salad shop of its kind in Lexington, it’s causing quite a stir. My eyes widened in excitement as I heard the announcement of their opening because, as a health-conscious nutritionist that struggles to find restaurant options that are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and mammal-free, salads are my mecca, especially when they’re packed with hearty, fresh ingredients. When I looked at their menu, my heart skipped a beat when I saw their Vegan Power Salad. A restaurant option that doesn’t require me to make a million adjustments to the ingredients and then still worry about any hidden dairy or egg?  I was sold, and I knew I had to make the pilgrimage to this salad mecca.

I ordered the Vegan Power Salad, which consists of spring mix with Napa cabbage, quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, sweet peppers, roasted sunflower seeds, and edamame. Somewhat ironically, I added grilled chicken to this vegan salad and swapped the salad’s standard Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette for their Blackberry Sorghum Vinaigrette. My mom ordered their Orange Blossom Salad, a mixture of romaine and iceberg mix with Napa cabbage, crispy rice noodles, edamame, snow peas, carrots, and cucumbers with a Honey Orange Sesame Vinaigrette. They also had a tempting assortment of lemonades, including Sweet Baby Watermelon, Blackberry Mint, and Lemon Rosemary.

The Food:
I really enjoyed my salad- the ingredients were really fresh and crisp. I loved the edamame and chickpeas in the Vegan Power Salad- it’s so nice to see some vegan sources of protein out there. Further, I knew I had to order this salad when I saw the quinoa- finally a place in Lexington that uses quinoa in salads! It adds such a great texture to the greens, and it’s a wonderful source of protein and fiber. Additionally, the tomatoes and cucumbers were really tasty! So often restaurants use pathetically pale insipid tomatoes and wimbly, watery cucumbers in their salads; thus, it was refreshing to get some quality ingredients. You really get a lot of salad at Vinaigrette, as they fit a lot of greens and lettuce into those deep metal bowls (which is a cute idea, by the way). I drizzled my salad in their Blackberry Sorghum Vinaigrette, a delightfully rich and smooth dressing with a hint of fruit and sweetness, but not overly saccharine or tangy. I definitely enjoyed this vinaigrette and got a second cup of it to finish off my lettuce (they’ll give you as much dressing as you need). I tried both their Sweet Baby Watermelon and Blackberry Mint lemonades. The Blackberry Mint was pretty good, but, oh my, the Sweet Baby Watermelon… SO GOOD. I could drink that all day. I love the taste of watermelon, and Vinaigrette perfectly captured the delightful sweetness of fresh watermelon in this crisp and refreshing lemonade. Overall, I was very satisfied (both with the taste and quality of the food and also with how the salad satisfied my hunger).

The Atmosphere: 
The interior is quaint and adorably appointed. There is great texture and warmth to the interior: rustic brick, barn wood, metal chairs, wooden tables, subway tile… the interior gets a definite thumbs up from me. However, the seating is almost absurdly minimal- there are three tables, three! I understand they are a new business and pressed for space, but finding a place to sit was a challenge. At lunch time, all of the tables inside were occupied, their tables outside were occupied, the benches were occupied, the tables in front of the neighboring Orange Leaf were occupied, and some people were sitting on stray chairs with their laps. My mom and I, along with several other patrons, had to walk around the corner to the patio of Firehouse Subs to be able to sit down. Not that it’s horribly inconvenient, but it was awkward, as the manager of Firehouse came outside to tell all the Vinaigrette patrons (who stand out with their large metal bowls) that, essentially, we couldn’t sit there but she would let us finish eating before she kicked us off the patio. So be cautious of the lunch rush and consider getting your salad to go if you are planning on trying out Vinaigrette during peak hours. However, the staff of Vinaigrette was exceptionally friendly, upbeat, and helpful. Even when I asked to add chicken to a vegan salad and inquired which of their dressings were gluten free and vegan, they were happy to answer all my questions and definitely added to the warm and inviting atmosphere at Vinaigrette.

The Prices: 
Vegan Power Salad $8.95
Add grilled chicken $3
Orange Blossom Salad $8.95
Seasonal Lemonade $3
Our total for lunch ~$26

The prices are reasonable, but you will pay more than your average quickie salad due to the quality and customizability of the ingredients. If you get a salad, and only a salad, you could scrape out of there for under $10. However, if you want to add any additional toppings, especially proteins, or if you want to indulge in one of their tantalizing lemonades, you could be over $15 for one person. As someone that rarely eats out and always packs her own lunch, it will be more of an occasional treat than a regular occurrence, but it is convenient to find somewhere that prepares healthy food in front of you.

I really enjoyed Vinaigrette- the food, the drinks, the atmosphere, and the business. It’s a little out of my way, but it will definitely be a top contender for future lunch dates! Want to learn more, see more pictures, and see what others have to say? Head on over to their Facebook page.

Note: I received no compensation for this review and purchased my own food. However, I would never be opposed to some complimentary salads or lemonades… you know, for taste-tasting purposes 😉

❤ Nika

WIAW: Fajita Chicken and Veggies Served Over Brown Rice and Quinoa (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free)

Fajita Chicken and Veggies Over Brown Rice and Quinoa

This dish was really simple, but my friend and I enjoyed it quite a bit! I was planning on cooking dinner and thus brought over an assortment of possibilities (I never travel light, clearly). We had already made some homemade guacamole to serve with our chips and salsa, so I decided to carry on the Mexican cuisine theme. I cut up some chicken breasts and sautéed them in olive oil. Once the chicken was cooked, I added a can of roasted tomatoes and half a packet of fajita seasoning (if you buy the pre-made seasoning packets, be sure to get ones that don’t contain wheat!). While the chicken and tomatoes simmered, I sautéed some fresh broccoli, red pepper, green chili pepper, and red onion in some olive oil and added it to the chicken and tomato fajitas. After simmering the entire fajita concoction for several minutes, I served it on top of a bed of brown rice and quinoa and squeezed some fresh lime over the entire thing.

This take on fajitas was simple, easy, yet delicious! I had intended on serving as true fajitas (with tortillas and rice on the side), but I had forgotten to pack my tortillas (I said I never travel light, I never said that it was effective!). Either way, this was quite the tasty and satisfying dish. The chicken and vegetables really ignite with the fajita seasoning, and the splash of fresh lime juice really brings out the taste profile of the dish. I’ve recently become quite addicted to topping things with a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice, it makes everything taste so light, summery, and fresh! ¡Buen apetito!

Let’s Get Naked! Naked Turkey Burgers (Gluten-free, Egg-free)

Naked Turkey Burgers

This post is extremely overdue. Sometimes I take pictures of meals or plan posts and then somehow manage to neglect them for weeks… or months. This particular meal is one that I made for some friends over the Memorial Day weekend…. yes, Memorial Day, in May… Anyway, let’s move on.

When I think of summer holidays, I think of grilling out, and one of my favorite things to grill is homemade turkey burgers! Rob is usually the grill master, but I think it must have been raining on this particular day because I made these burgers inside on the stove. Regardless of their cooking location, these babies were delicious! It’s been exceedingly hard for me to find bread that is gluten free and vegan, as most of the GF bread products in town contain eggs 😦 Thus, I decided to bypass the bun altogether and opt for the exceedingly healthier option- lettuce wraps!

Naked Turkey Burgers

For the turkey burgers, I added chopped red onion and red pepper to ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, formed into patties, and threw them into a skillet with some olive oil. I cooked the burgers until browned, about 7-10 minutes each side on medium-high heat.

Stir Fry Veggie Medley Stir Fry Veggie Medley

While the turkey burgers were cooking, I sautéd some fresh asparagus in olive oil with some sliced mushrooms and chopped red onion, red pepper, and yellow pepper. I lightly seasoned this veggie medley with salt and pepper.

Naked Turkey Burgers Naked Turkey Burgers

Now, for my favorite part- the toppings! I wish I had taken a picture of the spread I had set out: Daiya cheddar cheese, fresh tomato slices, fresh avocado slices, red onions, organic ketchup, and leafy lettuce wraps! I plated the cooked turkey burger patties on a large bed of leafy lettuce and let everyone load up on toppings.

Naked Turkey BurgersI served these deliciously stacked patties with the aforementioned sautéed veggie medley and brown rice with quinoa. Mmm I can’t even begin to describe how juicy, flavorful, and delicious these turkey burgers were! Because my lettuce leafs were so big, we were able to wrap up the turkey burgers into these delicious little flavor parcels. The cool, crisp lettuce was the perfect counterbalance to the juicy and savory turkey burger. And the toppings, oh my… The real star for me was the avocado- umpff, I love me some avocado on a turkey burger or veggie burger… or anything, really.

GF Vegan Amy's Chocolate Cake GF Vegan Amy's Chocolate Cake

For dessert, we had a special treat. Rob had gotten a gluten-free vegan chocolate cake made by Amy’s Kitchen. Oh my goodness, tastes like real chocolate cake! I had to give it an air of being remotely healthy, so I served it with a Gala apple and blueberry fruit salad and topped the modest slice of cake with some fresh sliced strawberries (this blue plate is a side plate, so it’s really not that much cake…. shh, we just couldn’t help ourselves). As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of the fruit-and-chocolate combination, but the juxtaposition between fresh, sweet strawberries and rich, dense chocolate makes my knees weak.

Overall, this meal was a perfect summer holiday feast! Writing this post makes me want to make some more turkey burgers (or veggie burgers this time!) and sweet talk some lovely individual into grilling them for me 😉 There’s still some summer days left before school starts and fall creeps in, so grab some lettuce, your burger of choice, get outside, and get grilling!

Asian Inspired Veggie Turkey Meatballs Over Rice Noodles

Asian Style Turkey Meatballs over Rice Noodles

I thought I would share my dinner from last night since it was quite a cute dish- very delicious and relatively simple! Not much of a formal recipe this time, but I could do more of a traditional recipe if you all would be interested. I’m particularly proud of this dish not only because it turned out beautifully (in taste and appearance!), but also because I just conjured up this “recipe” and made things up as I went along. It’s nice to follow a recipe and cook a great meal, but there’s a certain satisfaction and pride of whipping together something at will, using your intuition to combine ingredients and create taste profiles, and then producing a physical manifestation of your creativity. Cooking is an art, truly. How else can you define the ability to grab some thirteen odd ingredients, throw them together, and produce something tasty and healthy? As surprising as it may be, knowing my science background, I was a very creative child and loved the arts- writing, drawing, doing skits, and whatever was the childhood bliss du jour. The kitchen is my new easel, except now I paint not only with color, but with taste, texture, composition, nutrition, and love. I think the biggest key to making the experience of cooking one that is artful is to put love, pride, and care into everything you make. Your food is a manifestation of you, it is born of you, it carries your essence. Be genuine, creative, brave, and determined, and your food will reward you. Your kitchen may not reward you… as mine is always resembles a tornado’s warpath after I finish cooking a detailed meal. Thankfully the meal you just prepared is soo healthy that it will give you all the necessary energy to get off your ass and clean the kitchen (or persuade the recipient of your cooking to do so!) 😉

For the veggie turkey meatballs, I added grated homegrown zucchini, grated carrots, chopped green onion, diced red pepper, and diced red onion to ground turkey. I added some gluten free panko breadcrumbs and seasoned with salt and pepper. I placed them on an oiled cookie sheet in a convection oven set at 350ºF for 15 minutes, took them out and flipped them over, and cooked them for another 15 minutes. For the rice noodles, I boiled some plain GF vegan rice noodles, rinsed with cold water, and returned to heat. I added some Bragg’s Amino Acids (tastes reminiscent of soy sauce or tamari) and chili powder. I plated the noodles, topped with a couple turkey meatballs, drizzled some more Bragg’s Amino Acids on the dish, and garnished with some cilantro.

I made quite a lot of noodles, and the turkey meatball “recipe” yielded an entire cookie sheet of meatballs. In all, this yielded about three servings: dinner… lunch… snack? I usually like to make at least two servings of whatever I cook for dinner, so that my lunch for tomorrow is ready to go and full of home-cooked deliciousness. However, I don’t even know what to do with three servings! Unfortunately, I had no one with whom to share this little invented-on-the-fly dish, so I will instead eat noodles fo dayz (pho dayz?) and show you all pretty pictures!

What’s For Lunch Today?

Fiesta Chicken Salad and Gazpacho Soup

What a week! I’m so glad it’s Friday, but all I want to do when I get off work is sleep! I’ve had a lot going on this week, indicated not only by my levels of fatigue, but also by my uncharacteristic forgetfulness. Case in point: I always pack my gym clothes in a bag before I leave for work and stick them in my car so I can go straight to the gym after work. I’ve been doing this for years, as it is a tradition I began in college (I lived off campus for 2.5 years, so I brought all my stuff with me so I didn’t have to go back home). In essence, I’m very experienced at packing a gym bag. I mean, really, it’s not that difficult. Sports bra. Top. Shorts. Socks. Shoes. Boom- 4 items. Yet, this week I was struggling with that. Tuesday, I forgot both shoes and socks! Luckily I had a rogue pair of Asics hiding out in the trunk of my car, so I went sans socks (gasp). As if that wasn’t bad enough, yesterday I forgot my sports bra for my TRX class. Lacking the time to run home and unwilling to skip class, I threw caution to the wind and wore my normal bra (double gasp, I know, I’m a disgrace). TL;DR I’ve been a hot mess this week and if I wasn’t so tired, I’d be bouncing off the walls from excitement over the arrival of the weekend.

Fiesta Chicken SaladToday I packed a nice, light, and summery lunch for work. I had what I’m calling a “Fiesta Chicken Salad,” homemade gazpacho soup, and an organic pink lady apple. I prepped the ingredients for the salad last night. It’s a bed of mixed greens and lettuce topped with homegrown cucumbers, a sautéed medley of red peppers, onion, and homegrown peppers, and a sautéed fiesta chicken breast. I marinated the chicken breast in Rowdy Kitty Rub, salt, and pepper and sautéed in olive oil until cooked through. Afterwards, I sliced the chicken breast into strips, placed them on the bed of greens, and drizzled the whole thing with a splash of fresh squeezed lime juice. I used my favorite salad dressing to top it all off- Annie’s Chile Lime dressing! I love the flavors of this salad, it really entices and pleases the palate with flavor and crunch in every bite. I’ve been fortunate enough to be gifted some homegrown garden peppers and cucumbers, and they were delectable additions to this salad. I don’t have the biggest tolerance for spicy things, so I sautéed the red bell pepper and the green, yellow, and red garden peppers in some olive oil with the chicken breast to tame the spice down a notch. The chicken was excellently seasoned and garnered an additional taste profile and complexity by sautéing alongside the peppers. The salad was really taken to “fiesta” level by the freshly squeezed lime juice, which brought out the savory tenderness of the chicken, the bite of the peppers, and the crispness of the lettuce and cucumbers.

Gazpacho SoupIn addition to my salad, I also had a bowl of my mom’s homemade gazpacho. I really like the cool, crisp, and slightly spicy flavor of this gazpacho. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and other ingredients are finely diced but still substantial enough to add some crunch and great texture to this perfect summer soup. The soup is rich with herbs and full-bodied flavor accented by a hint of spice. A little heat to balance out its cool temperature! As you may know, gazpacho is served chilled, which makes it an excellent choice for hot summer days. However, my lab is unfortunately sub-zero and leaves me shivering by lunch… so perhaps I should have opted for a hot soup instead!

Have a great weekend! I have a special summer workout planned for you all tomorrow, so stay tuned 🙂

How I Turned My Man On….To Eating a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meal!

Today I bring you a guest post from my beautiful best friend Carolyn! She is my first true disciple/star student/victim of nutrition and fitness advice… meaning you’ll be getting some progress updates and before and after pictures! For years, Carolyn has come to me for advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and which exercises to do, and now she has made a commitment to living a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle! I am so proud of her determination and drive, and I love hearing about her progress and all the new GF vegan products that she enjoys. After we strategized a Whole Foods shopping trip together, Carolyn has been kicking ass, taking names (of new foods to try!), and trying new recipes. Today I wanted to share her first gluten-free, dairy-free creation: Eggplant Parmesan!

How I Turned My Man On….To Eating a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meal!

Recently, thanks to the guidance, love, and support of my best friend Nika, I have made a move into the Gluten and Dairy Free world. Has it been challenging? Of course! But, I have learned above all it is all about the portions and the substitutions. This recipe is something I tried on a whim because I saw potential in the ingredients I had in the house (lucky, I know.) This recipe was also inspired by my urge to make a meal that was delicious and nutritious for myself as well as someone without dietary restrictions.

I have found that my boyfriend and I enjoy the same types of foods, and my twist on Eggplant Parmesan seemed to be something we could both love if it was done right. Scary fact: I literally have never even made regular eggplant parmesan, much less one that was gluten-free and dairy-free. But, like I said it is all about the substitutions (which you will see.)

I remember placing the plate down on the table and thinking “oh God, he is probably going to gag.” But, I was in for quite a surprise! He literally took one bite, made the globally accepted “this is amazing” groan, looked at me and said “Babe this is incredible.” INCREDIBLE! My smile could not have been wider.

So, if anyone is up for trying something that may seem a little out of the box, here is my Eggplant Parmesan!


Carolyn’s Eggplant Parmesean- A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Delicious Meal


1 medium eggplant (this size was great for 2-3 people but if you have more consider getting a larger eggplant or more than one.)
2 cups Unsweetened Soy Milk (to soak eggplant in overnight). You can use regular milk if there are no dietary restrictions.
2 cups Vegetable Oil (for frying)
Fresh ground salt & pepper
1 Avocado
1 Large Tomato
Pesto (to taste)
Panko breadcrumbs (I used the Gluten-Free variety)
¼ cup tomato sauce
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)


1. Remove skin from the eggplant Continue reading

Honey Mustard Chicken with Avocado

Honey Mustard Chicken with Avocado

A couple weeks ago, my mom gave me a bottle of Brianna’s Honey Mustard dressing. I was intrigued by the dressing’s claim that it went perfectly on fresh avocados. Honey mustard and avocado? Interesting. I would have never considered such a combination; thus, I became determined to create a recipe that included this intriguing duo.

Brianna's Honey Mustard

After ODing on honey mustard religiously for most of my childhood and teenage years, I actually haven’t had many encounters with honey mustard over the past several years. Back in the day, chicken tenders and honey mustard was my shit- I ate that dish at almost every restaurant, and it was always my go-to option. You can ask any of my childhood friends, chicken tenders and I were inseparable. Ugh. Thankfully, times have changed. Now I have created a healthier, grown up version of chicken and honey mustard. Today I bring you a recipe for honey mustard chicken with avocado, served with grilled asparagus and sesame rice.

Honey Mustard Chicken with Avocado

Ingredients: Organic chicken breast
Fresh avocado
Brianna’s Honey Mustard Dressing
Salt and Pepper


  1. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper and add to skillet coated with extra virgin olive oil on medium high heat.
  2. Cook about 6 minutes each side until chicken is almost cooked through.
  3. Baste sautéed breasts with Brianna’s Honey Mustard dressing. Continue to simmer in the honey mustard for 2 minutes each side.
  4. Remove from heat and top with sliced fresh avocado.
  5. Serve with sautéed asparagus with red and yellow bell peppers and red onion and sesame rice (bought pre-made from the Good Food’s Co-Op).

I really enjoyed this dish. I won’t lie, I was a little hesitant about the honey mustard and avocado suggestion, but they came together quite nicely with the sautéed chicken breast. The sautéd asparagus side is a classic side of mine- quick, simple, delicious, healthy. The sesame rice was something I picked up from the salad bar at the Good Food’s Co-Op, and it’s gluten free and vegan. This honey mustard chicken has inspired me to create another recipe: a healthy remake of my former addiction, crispy chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce. I already have a game plan for this recipe, so I look forward to sharing another healthy remake of an unhealthy favorite! Oh, and taste testing is pretty fun for me too 😉