FeaturesApr/May 2012 Issue

Small Bites, Big Gluten-Free Flavor

Ditch the junk food. Kids (adults, too!) love these allergy-friendly snacks.

Young Girl  eating Gluten-Free bite-size serving

© FOOD COLLECTION/StockFood/Maxximages.com


Whether you’re entertaining guests or having a family night at home, it’s fun to prepare and serve a variety of small plates of nutritious foods that are safe and delicious for everyone. Kids love the variety and the small portions, just right for little hands. Bite-size servings encourage sampling and are an inviting way to introduce new foods to picky eaters.

Here’s the secret to a pleasing spread: A short list of recipes that offer an assortment of textures, tastes and temperatures—some cold (easy to prepare in advance) and some hot. Serve foods on platters and let everyone help themselves.

These family-favorite recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and allergy friendly. Made with wholesome ingredients, they can be served as snacks or appetizers. All are nutrition-packed, offering excellent flavor along with health benefits to nourish you and your kids while you munch.


Gluten-Free Apricot Chicken Wings


These wings are crowd pleasers. Turmeric, a spice that naturally reduces inflammation, ups the health benefits without altering the flavor. Serve warm or at room temperature.

⅓ cup gluten-free soy sauce or wheat- free tamari
1 (8-ounce) jar apricot preserves, preferably fruit juice sweetened
3-4 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
3 pounds chicken wings (cut into pieces at joints)

1. To make marinade, combine soy sauce, preserves, rice vinegar, garlic powder, turmeric and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Mix tapioca starch/flour with an equal amount of water to make a slurry. Add to saucepan ingredients and continue cooking for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. In a zipper plastic bag or glass container with tight-fitting lid, marinate chicken wings in apricot sauce for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Turn bag or container occasionally to distribute marinade thoroughly.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking pan or line it with parchment paper.

4. Remove wings from refrigerator and place them in a single layer on prepared pan. Place in preheated oven and bake 40 minutes, turning and basting occasionally with accumulated juices.

Each serving contains 367calories, 22g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 104mg cholesterol, 649mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 26g protein.



Tarragon Chicken Salad on Cucumber Rounds


A refreshing appetizer. Sweet grapes blend with crisp celery and savory seeds (or nuts, if tolerated) to produce a mouthful of flavor.

2 tablespoons mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise alternative
⅓ cup plain yogurt or dairy-free yogurt of choice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 stalks celery, minced
½ cup seedless grapes, sliced in half
1 large apple, cored and diced
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts, optional
-Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cucumbers (English or seedless preferred)

1. In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, tarragon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Add celery, grapes, apple and chicken and fold together. Add seeds or nuts, if desired.

2. Taste and add salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Cut cucumbers into 1-inch slices. Using a spoon or melon baller, make a small cup to hold the salad by scooping out the center of each slice, leaving ¼-inch on the bottom.

4. Fill cucumber rounds with chicken salad. Serve cold.

Each serving contains 111calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 31mg cholesterol, 54mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 12g protein.



Celery Stuffed with Carrot and Raisin Salad

Celery Stuffed with Carrot and Raisin Salad


The crunch of fresh celery combines with this sweet and tangy carrot salad for a cool treat that’s easy to prepare in advance. Let your children help fill the celery boats. For variety, try serving this filling with other vegetables or fruit, such as mini sweet peppers or apple slices. Or enjoy it as a salad for lunch or dinner.

4 cups shredded carrots, preferably organic
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise alternative
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple juice
-Celery or vegetable or fruit of choice

1. In a large bowl, mix carrots and raisins.

2. To make dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and apple juice in a small bowl.

3. Fold dressing into carrots and raisins. (Dried fruit will plump from moisture in the dressing.)

4. Stuff salad into celery pieces or garnish with vegetables of choice. Serve chilled.

Each serving contains 137calories, 5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 162 mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 1g protein.

For Carrot, Raisin and Sunflower Salad, replace half the mayonnaise with sunflower butter or a nut butter, if tolerated.



Gluten-Free Cinnamon Snack Mix


Turn up the crunch! Make your own Chex-type mix with gluten-free Chex cereals or Health Valley’s Rice or Corn Crunch Ems.

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, grape seed oil or oil of choice
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups rice or corn Chex-type cereal or combination
1 cup gluten-free, dairy-free pretzels
½ cup dried fruit of choice (pineapple, raisins, cherries, bananas), prefer- ably sulfite free
½ cup sunflower seeds, optional
½ cup gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chips, optional

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat oil on high in microwave for 30 seconds.

2. Stir in sugar and cinnamon. Add cereal and pretzels, stirring until evenly coated.

3. Return mixture to the microwave and heat on high for 1 minute.

4. Stir in dried fruit. Add seeds and chocolate chips, if desired.

5. Cool. Store in an airtight bag until used.

Each serving contains 185 calories, 8g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 258mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein.


Sloppy Joe Kid-Wich

Sloppy Joe Kid-Wich


Enjoy this meaty recipe on gluten-free mini-buns or place dollops on gluten-free corn chips and serve as an appetizer. Perfect party fare for kids and adults. This recipe can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for two days. It freezes well; reheat before serving.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped sweet bell peppers
1 pound ground beef (or turkey or bison)
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon crushed chili flakes, more or less to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 (7-ounce) jar tomato paste, low/no salt added
2 tablespoons honey
¼-½ cup water (use smaller amount if serving a bite on a corn chip)

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onions and peppers over medium heat until softened. Add ground meat, turmeric, chili flakes and cloves and cook until no pink color remains in meat, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, honey and water, 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency. Stir to combine.

3. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

Each serving contains 107 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 23mg cholesterol, 43mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 8g protein.



Lemony Hummus


Hummus is a nutritional powerhouse, an excellent source of fiber, protein, folate, manganese and other nutrients. This recipe, which contains extra lemon for vitamin C and brightness of flavor and turmeric to reduce inflammation, is surprisingly delicious. The color attracts kids of all ages. Used as a dip, this hummus makes a popular appetizer and after-school snack. It’s also a delicious sandwich spread.

Gluten Free Appetizing Ideas

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1 (15½-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced, or 1 shallot
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
-Salt, to taste
-Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

1. Mash beans into a thick paste in a food processor using the knife blade. Add tahini and garlic and mix well. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, turmeric, oregano and 1 tablespoon olive oil and process to combine.

2. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while pureeing to reach desired consistency. Add salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate to chill.

3. Serve cold, topped with a swirl of olive oil (1 teaspoon) and sprinkle of cayenne, if desired.

Each tablespoon contains 27 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 37mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

Food coach and cooking instructor Susan Vess (specialeats.com) is author of Special Eats, available at LivingWithout.com.

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