So GoodApr/May 2011 Issue

A Fuss-Free, Gluten-Free Easter Dinner

A memorable meal with a gluten-free, dairy-free twist

Easter is a joyful occasion, a time that’s symbolic of hope and renewal. Often celebrated with family and friends, the holiday meal traditionally served in many homes is one that features roasted lamb and gravy with fresh spring produce and a light, airy cake for dessert.

If you’re planning a gathering at your place this year, here’s an Easter menu that’s guaranteed to please. It’s simple to prepare yet provides elegant, mouthwatering results. Brimming with healthy nourishment, recipes are designed for utmost flavor with your special dietary needs in mind.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic Herb Crust and Gravy


High in zinc and B vitamins, lamb is traditional Easter fare.

1 bone-in leg of lamb (about 6 pounds)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4-5 cloves garlic or 1 shallot
1 teaspoon olive oil
teaspoon each sea salt and pepper
4-6 cups beef or lamb broth,* for gravy
2-3 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch, for
thickening gravy

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place lamb on roasting rack in roasting pan.

2. Remove leaves from rosemary stem. Add rosemary and garlic to food processor fitted with knife blade and blend.

3. Rub lamb with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pat rosemary and garlic blend on all sides of lamb.

4. Pour 1 cup beef or lamb broth in the bottom of the roasting pan.

5. Place pan in preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325F. Check internal temperature of roast after 1 hour and baste with pan drippings. Meat is done when meat thermometer registers 145 for medium rare, 155 to 160 for medium, 165 to 170 for well done.

6. Take lamb from oven, remove from pan and set aside while making gravy.

7. Use broth to deglaze roasting pan and loosen browned bits of meat. Strain liquid to remove tough bits. Make a slurry by combining cup cold water with arrowroot starch, stirring until dissolved. Pour slurry into pan with deglazed liquid and continue to stir over medium-low heat until desired thickness. Add additional arrowroot slurry if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning.

8. Allow lamb to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Then slice and serve with hot gravy.

Each 3-ounce serving contains 155 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 78mg cholesterol, 231mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 23g protein.

*TIP The key to delicious gravy is a flavorful broth. Prepare homemade beef or lamb broth up to 3 months in advance and freeze until ready to use. If using store-bought broth, enhance flavor by simmering it with a diced onion and carrots while lamb roasts. Read the label carefully to be sure the broth is gluten free.

New Potatoes with Fennel

Simple to Prepare

Roasted Asparagus


Fresh asparagus is a good source of folate, calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B3, B6, C and K. Asparagus is also packed with glutathione, a beneficial phytochemical that supports the immune system.

1 pound fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. Place asparagus in 9x11-inch roasting pan and toss with olive oil, shaking pan until spears are well coated. Spread in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Roast asparagus in preheated oven for 10 minutes until tender and slightly browned.

4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Each serving contains 59 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein.

Light and Flavorful

New Potatoes with Fennel


Fennel is an anti-inflammatory that aids in digestion and bolsters healthy immunity. It’s a good source of vitamin C, potassium and phytonutrients (quercetin, kaempferol, rutin), which are important for wellness.

1 pound new potatoes, washed,
unpeeled, cut in half
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
-Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Toss potatoes, fennel, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Place mixture onto a 14-inch long piece of parchment paper. Wrap and fold top and sides of parchment, creating a package. Put parchment package on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap again.

4. Place foil package in preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Empty contents into a bowl and serve warm.

Each serving contains 98 calories, 4g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g protein.


Greek-Style Salad with Spiced Garbanzo Beans


Antioxidant-rich vegetables in this delicious salad help combat free radicals. The Spiced Garbanzo Beans and Greek Vinaigrette can be made a week ahead to avoid last-minute preparation.

cup raw pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
1 romaine heart, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
cucumber, peeled and sliced
red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
-Greek Vinaigrette
1 cup Spiced Garbanzo Beans

1. In a dry skillet, toast pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (if tolerated) over medium-high heat, shaking pan until they just begin to color. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

2. In a large serving bowl, combine all vegetables and olives.

3. Right before serving, drizzle with Greek Vinaigrette and toss. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds and Spiced Garbanzo Beans.

Each serving contains 275 calories, 18g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 561mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 8g protein.
Greek Vinaigrette


cup red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
teaspoon gluten-free Dijon-style mustard
1 small shallot or 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup olive oil
teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
-Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and shallot together.

2. Pour olive oil into mixture in a slow stream, whisking to create an emulsion. Add herb of choice and salt and pepper.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Each tablespoon contains 81 calories, 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein.

Chef and food coach Sueson Vess, (, is author of Special Eats.


Also a Nutritious Snack

Spiced Garbanzo Beans


Use these tasty beans in place of croutons to top salad. Store in an airtight container until used.

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans,
rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, place beans, olive oil and seasonings. Mix to combine well.

3. Spread beans in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Each cup contains 76 calories, 2g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 448mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Coconut Cake


This versatile recipe by professional baker Diane Kittle, owner of Dee’s One Smart Cookie bakery in Glastonbury, Connecticut, is easily converted to a vanilla cake or lemon cake. It can be made with egg replacer with good results.* Frost with Coconut Buttercream Frosting.

1 cup (2 sticks) dairy-free margarine of choice or vegetable shortening
2 cups granulated sugar or organic evaporated cane juice
4 large eggs, room temperature, or egg replacement*
1 tablespoon gluten-free coconut extract
3 cups Gluten-Free Cake Flour Blend or all-purpose flour blend of choice sifted, more
to dust pan
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 cups unsweetened premium coconut milk, warm (not low fat)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with gluten-free flour.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat margarine or shortening and sugar at medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Lower speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add coconut extract and mix for a minute longer.

3. Measure flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt and sift onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

4. Place coconut milk in a glass measuring cup and heat in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until very warm.

5. Add half the dry mixture to the mixing bowl and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Then add half the coconut milk and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat process, scraping down bowl. Then beat on low for 2 minutes.

6. Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. To decorate cake, place one layer, right side up, on a flat serving plate and spread top with frosting. Place second layer on frosted layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Gently pat handfuls of coconut up the sides. Fill a cake decorator bag (fitted with #6 round tip) with frosting and pipe half loops around the top edge of the cake. Place decorative eggs or jelly beans on the top.

Each slice with frosting contains 821 calories, 51g total fat, 17g saturated fat, 5g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 528mg sodium, 91g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 3g protein.

*For Egg-Free Coconut Cake, replace eggs with 1 cup applesauce mixed with 1 tablespoon baking powder. Place entire mixture in bowl with sugar and shortening and proceed with recipe.

For Vanilla Cake, replace coconut extract with 2 teaspoons gluten-free pure vanilla extract. Replace coconut milk with rice milk or milk of choice.

For Lemon Cake, replace coconut extract with 2 teaspoons lemon extract. Replace coconut milk with rice milk or milk of choice. Add 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel to dry ingredients.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting


“After decorating your cake, you’ll likely have frosting leftover,”says professional baker, Diane Kittle. Refrigerate extra frosting in a sealed container for up to three weeks. Bring to room temperature and whip for a few minutes to make it fluffy again. Use it to fill cookies or frost cupcakes.

6 cups powdered sugar
teaspoon salt
cup boiling water
2 cups vegetable shortening
6 ounces (1 sticks) dairy-free margarine, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon gluten-free coconut extract
-Coarsely shredded coconut, for decorating

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine powdered sugar and salt.

2. With whisk attachment, add boiling water and whip at medium speed until smooth and cool, approximately 5 minutes.

3. Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment. Add shortening and margarine to mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth, approximately 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy and increased in volume, about 10 minutes.

For Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, replace coconut extract with an equal amount of vanilla extract.

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