Blog Posts by Caroline Shannon-Karasik

  • User Post: Gluten-Free, Vegan + Nut-Free Krispy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bar

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've always loved a good food bar. Granola, protein, raw, disguised-as-healthy-but-more-like-a-treat -- I love 'em all. Apparently, I am not alone. Yesterday, was my cousin, Katie's, little girl's first birthday -- Miss Lilah! -- and I happened to hear through the grapevine that, while she loves herself a good LÄRABAR, the nuts tend to give her rashes. So, I made her a very special LilahBar:

    Using homemade dried bananas (a method I saw on Oh She Glows) and Mama Pea's SarahBars recipe as a base, I came up with a healthy, nut free, gluten-free and vegan Krispy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bar (aka The LilahBar) for the sweet girl and I have to say they turned out rather yummy. Here are the details ...

    LilahBars (gluten-free + vegan + nut-free : makes 6 bars)

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    • 2 medium bananas sliced thin, dried (see below for instructions)
    • 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
    • 2/3 cup pitted dates
    • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
    Read More »from User Post: Gluten-Free, Vegan + Nut-Free Krispy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bar
  • User Post: Gluten-Free + Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

    Sometimes things get a little busy 'round here ... and I don't get to share something yummy with you ... and then I feel like I need to make up for it ...

    Lucky you.

    I have told you in the past that I am completely obsessed with the peanut butter and chocolate combo, whether it's in the form of ice cream, granola or cupcakes. So, when I first read Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet a couple of years ago, you can imagine what recipe had me at hello-I'm-a-healthier-but-still-delicious-version-of-Reese's-peanut-butter-cups: The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

    The good news -- they're delicious. The bad news -- the original recipe is not gluten-free.

    Since, going gluten-free a little more than a year ago, I have not been able to make these pb cups, but the other day I bit of inspiration popped into my head and I thought, "Eureeka -- this just might work!"

    And by golly it did. Check 'em out in all of their gluten-free glory.

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (gluten-free + vegan : adapted

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  • I'll Have (Polenta) Fries with That.

    So, remember yesterday's burger? Sure, it was huge and much too big for my bun, but that didn't stop me from making a side of fries to go with it.

    But not just any fries. No siree.

    You know I love a nice side of crispy potato fries. Ooo, and sweet potato ones just rock my world. But these are nothing of the sort -- nope. Instead, what you're looking at here, my friends, are polenta fries.

    Yep, you heard that right.

    You might remember my first venture into polenta. Well, ever since then, I've been dying to see what it would be like to bake the polenta until it's nice and crispy.

    The result? You'll just have to try 'em for yourself.

    Polenta Fries (gluten-free : Serves 2 to 3 people)

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    • 1 18-ounce sleeve of original/plain gluten-free polenta
    • 1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    NOTES: I used Food Merchants Traditional Polenta. I also doubled this recipe because I was cooking for people than the Read More »from I'll Have (Polenta) Fries with That.
  • Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini Boats

    Living in an apartment can mean a lot of things -- dealing with a landlord, resisting an urge to paint your walls lipstick red, and other things of the sort. One other thing in specific? Very often an apartment = no backyard.

    And no backyard = no garden.

    I don't mind so much because tending to a garden often means a world of poison ivy (oak, sumac, etc.) for me, but Dan adores growing fruits and vegetables. So, when we visit my parents, one of the things Dan enjoys most is "adopting" their garden for the duration of our stay.

    The point of this story? We're visiting Pittsburgh for the rest of the week, and earlier today Dan and my brother, Isaac, scored a few nice zucchinis from the garden.

    So, the boys did the hunting and when they brought their "catch" inside, I decided it was my job to find something to do with them.

    The result? Zucchini boats! My inspiration? These stuffed peppers.

    LOVE! Check 'em out ...

    Stuffed Zucchini Boats (gluten-free + vegetarian)

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  • User Post: Gluten-Free & Vegan Apple Cinnamon Whole Grain Quick Bread

    Growing up in a big family has taught me a lot of things. I am the oldest of three siblings and one of 17 cousins. I have aunts and uncles galore, and family friends who might as well be aunts and uncles.

    I've learned that being a first child can also earn you the title of mini mom. And when your grandma gives you that look, you best cut that crap out [whatever it is you're doing] -- and cut it out quickly. I've also learned that family members who double as best friends is an actual, very real possibility. And sometimes, ever so often, you're better off to keep your mouth shut rather than offer up your opinion. (Psst ... Just keep it to yourself.)

    Another thing I've learned? When you bring food, bring extra.

    Apparently, I forgot that lesson when I made this Whole Grain Peanut Butter & Banana Quick Bread the other day and didn't think to make another one before we hit the road for Pittsburgh. So, when I walked in the house and it was instantly gobbled up, I knew it was necessary

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  • User post: How to Make the Perfect Baked French Fry

    It seems easy enough, right? But the truth is, if you've ever had a crappy french fry (and, let's face it, we all have), then you know that the one that is oh-so-right can truly rock your potato world. It's time to do just that (i.e. get your world a-rockin'). We have a wonderful method for baking french fries that is simple and pure, making these potato guys a healthier option when matched against some of the not-so-healthy ones that are out there. Soaking the fries in water before baking removes excess starch and allows them to have this unreal, crispy nature that leaves them soft on the inside and toasted on the outside. (No mushy french fries here.) They're just to-die-for.

    Here's how to get 'em baked to perfection ...

    Crispy, Baked French Fries (3 to 4 servings)

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    • 3 large baking potatoes (like Idaho potatoes)
    • olive oil, drizzled
    • salt and pepper, as desired


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice potatoes into strips (about 1/3-inch wideRead More »from User post: How to Make the Perfect Baked French Fry
  • User post: Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Polenta Lasagna

    Curious about those guys above? Yeah, I was too. The truth is, I've never had polenta. I know -- totally shocking coming from someone who loves food and trying new recipes. Every time I see it in the store, I think, "I really need to try that." And then ... I don't. But during our most recent trip to the grocery store I figured it was as good a time as ever to give ol' polenta a shot and I bought it.

    Of course, figuring out what I wanted to do with it was a completely different story.

    For starters, I looked up the definition of polenta (I bought it and was still unsure about exactly what it is). It turns out polenta is simple ground yellow or white cornmeal, and the one I purchased was naturally gluten-free (which may be the case for all of them ... I'm not sure). So, I tossed around a few options.

    Bake it with veggies?

    Fry it in a pan, and make it nice and crispy?

    Mash it and serve it ... somehow ... ?

    But then, I realized what a nice substitute polenta would make for a noodle.

    Read More »from User post: Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Polenta Lasagna
  • A Little Just Isn't Enough: Gluten-Free, Vegan Peanut Butter Granola

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love nut butter. I find every excuse I can to eat it or include it in a recipe. It's a freakish obsession really.

    When it came time to make my (almost) weekly batch of granola, I decided that the usual was just not going to do. It needed something fresh, something new, something ... nut butter-y.

    I did some experimenting and came up with this -- peanut butter granola in all its glory. I added coconut to give it a different kind of sweetness and it worked wonderfully. The peanut butter trumps any hint of coconut flavor, but it brings a delicious crispiness to the granola.


    Peanut Butter Granola with Coconut

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    • 2 cups gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
    • 6 Tablespoons all-natural peanut butter, warmed
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
    • 1/4 cup light agave
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

    NOTES: I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free

    Read More »from A Little Just Isn't Enough: Gluten-Free, Vegan Peanut Butter Granola
  • User Post: You're Gonna Need a Fork: Gluten-Free Thai-Inspired Pizza

    Before we get started with the recipe, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when eating this pizza:

    1. You're gonna need a fork.

    2. You will go against your good manners and put your elbows on the table.

    3. Toppings and sauce will be all over your face.

    4. You will give up on a napkin after wiping your face and hands 14 times within the first minute of eating. Finger licking will ensue.

    5. This dish is NOT appropriate for a first date or guests you seek to impress. (See #2, 3 and 4.)

    Now, that we have the basics out of the way, let's get down to business. The last time I made this recipe (in its original form), I was eating chicken and regular pizza crust, so I was excited to break out a bag of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust mix and tofu last night to see how the original recipe would hold up.
    Here's what I came up with:

    Thai Tofu Pizza (Makes one 12" pizza)

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    • 1/2 package of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust
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  • User post: Have a Nut Allergy? Try Sunflower Seed Butter.

    I am obsessed with nut butters. Straight out of the jar, on a piece of gluten-free toast, with a banana ... I love it. I like peanut butter, almond, cashew and macadamia nut butters. They're yummy and filling, and make a perfect on-the-spoon snack.

    But, unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy nut butters in the same fashion I do -- all day, every day -- and that makes me sad.

    Sunflower seed butter to the rescue! Yeah, it's tasty. And, yeah, it's safe for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. Can you say peanut butter sunflower seed butter and jelly? It's all yours.

    And it's the easiest recipe ever. Check out these ingredients:

    Sunflower Seed Nut Butter (Makes about 6 oz.)

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    • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (PLEASE check for cross contamination to ensure your safety.)
    • 2 1/2 Tablespoons safflower oil
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons pure honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Directions Put all ingredients into a food processor or Read More »from User post: Have a Nut Allergy? Try Sunflower Seed Butter.


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