Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The meaning of LYFE (kitchen), opening in Palo Alto later this summer

 LYFE Kitchen's "Fork Lifting" event 
to celebrate the upcoming opening
of it's first restaurant in Palo Alto, CA

When a restaurant or brand describes their food as great-tasting that is also convenient, affordable and good for you, they have my attention. Well, they had it a great-tasting! I was invited to this event in June and want to report about this exciting venture that is about to start in our own backyard. I have borrowed some bits and pieces from their press releases. I spoke with everyone but didn't get a chance to write everything down; there was quite of bit of information!

LYFE Kitchen stands for Love Your Food Everyday. The first restaurant will be opening in Palo Alto, California in late summer 2011 with more restaurants and ready-made meals available in grocery stores. The menu was designed by award-winning chefs Art Smith and Tal Ronnen and has roots in both healthy comfort as well as vegan. Some of the dishes will include Smith's popular "unfried chicken" and Ronnen's "ancient grains bowl".

According to Mike Roberts, CEO, “With two celebrated, taste-making chefs and a talented team of leaders and advisers, we believe LYFE Kitchen is a response to one of America’s most significant unmet needs: the consumer’s demand for delicious, affordable food that is good for you."

The restaurant concept has a whole team of advisors. Besides Ronnen and Smith, the LYFE ambassadors include Janet Evans with the National Mom Advisory Panel. The decorated 5-time Olympic medalist, world record holder, accomplished distance swimmer and mother of two will share advice and inspiration with other moms, including her own exercise tips and personal triumphs and struggles when making food decisions with her family.

On the LYFE Health and Wellness Panel, are Dr. Anthony Cardillo and Dr. Armand Dorian. These practicing ER doctors believe in the importance of balancing all aspects of one’s ‘LYFEstyle.’ From the foods that we eat to the things that make us happy, Cardillo and Dorian understand the many factors that affect our overall well-being and health. According to Dorian, "If you eat the proper food, you will not get sick. If you eat the proper food, you will get the right nutrition. But the best part about all of this is, it tastes great!" Cardillo said he was "humbled to know that there is a group out there of committed, caring, entrepreneurial executives who are willing to join our mission which is to help people live healthier lives."

Also part of the team is Karen Knoblaugh, MS, RD. She is a a registered dietitian who specializes in food allergies and will be advising the group on special diets like gluten-free and dairy-free. Knoblaugh herself has a wheat allergy so she plans to make sure the employees understand the dangers of cross-contamination as it relates to special diets.

Right beside Mike Roberts, at the helm of the operations, is founder Stephen Sidwell and Mike Donahue, Chief Communications Officer. CEO Roberts is the former President and Chief Operations Officer for McDonald's Corporation, Donahue, on the right, is the former Chief Communications and External Relations Officer for McDonald's USA, and Sidwell, who has been an entrepreneur for the past 18 years, is CEO of Devante Capital.

During the ‘Fork Lifting’ event, Sidwell added, “LYFE is more than a restaurant.  It is a ‘LYFEstyle.’  We have a saying that permeates every aspect of our brand:  Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good.  Our team and the nature of the concept helps you to eat well while the menu and design of the restaurant helps you to feel good."

LYFE will showcase great-tasting food that is natural, preservative and additive-free, enhanced with spices, herbs and other natural ingredients.   No dish contains more than 600 calories and most offer less. LYFE Kitchen is also aware of social responsibility, like the welfare of animals.

LYFE has partnered up with the Global Animal Partnership, a nonprofit organization that has brought together expert leadership from so many sectors concerned about animals in agriculture--retailers, farmers, scientists, ranchers, and four of the world's largest animal advocacy groups. To date, Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program includes chickens, pigs, and beef cattle. According to LYFE Kitchen, they are the first restaurant chain that has committed to being 100% 5-Step rated for those products.

A little more about the chefs from a February press release:

Chef Art Smith, former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and a two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner, is a restaurateur and cookbook author known for his delicious, classic comfort food. He is also the founder of Common Threads, which strives to educate  children on the importance of nutrition and physical well-being and to foster an appreciation of cultural diversity through cooking. Recently, he has received attention for his own 100-pound weight loss, which he achieved through a balanced diet and exercise. Chef Smith has appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and owns Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington, D.C. (by the way, he looks great!).

Chef Tal Ronnen is reputed as one of the most ground-breaking vegan and vegetarian chefs today. In addition to preparing meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day vegetarian and vegan diet exploration (and also being named as the “Best Vegan Chef” on her “Best Of” show), he has cooked for Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi and Arianna Huffington, and prepared the first vegan dinner at the US Senate. His cookbook, The Conscious Cook, was a New York Times bestseller.

LYFE Kitchen will open summer 2011 at 167 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA. As with most restaurant openings, remember to cut them some slack during the first couple of weeks. Personally, I plan to go in September. I hope you will give it a try. Here's to LYFE!

Read my examiner article here about the Forklifting event.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gluten-free crepe recipe

Sometimes I can be intimidated to cook certain foods, especially new gluten-free dishes. For some reason, I thought crepes would be similar to going into the chem lab. I'm happy to report it can be made just as easily as regular ones! But, my theory behind knowing how to cook, regardless of whether it's gluten-free or not, holds true. Technique is very important.

The recipe I used was from Gluten-Free Gobsmacked. I really like her simplicity and explanation of each step. See below for my version and additional instructions. Either way, great product.

I can't wait for my little girl to try them. She made some in camp this week but could only eat a bite as it was made with regular flour. While at camp, she also had a hamburger bun because she thought it was gluten-free; a bit of miscommunication. Poor thing was so itchy last night, it made me sad. Her gluten sensitivity comes out in her skin. I suppose it is this that motivates me to try things.

It's hard as a parent to deny your children something as simple as a crepe. If you have had to stop making crepes in the past, look no further! Enjoy.

Gluten-Free "Very Easy" Crepes

Makes 6 crepes in a 10" crepe pan (I would suggest doubling this recipe so you can make more at once)

2/3 cup milk (I would suggest whole)
1/3 cup (or 50g) cornstarch*
1 large egg
2 teaspoons olive oil or melted butter
pinch of salt
* to make a buckwheat style crepe, I use 1/2 cornstarch and 1/2 buckwheat flour

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until combined.
  2. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan. Heat crepe pan to just over medium heat. This is a little tricky so don't be surprised if the first crepe isn't perfect.
  3. Lift the pan off of the heat and pour 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan while swirling the pan. I used a special crepe ladle which worked well. Swirl the pan off of the heat until the batter begins is covering the bottom. 
  4. Cook for 20-40 seconds or until the edges are browned and start to pull away from the side. If the crepe is not brown, you may need to raise the heat. A gas stove works very well for this.
  5. Using a spatula, lift one edge of the crepe and then flip it over with your fingers or tongs. Cook an additional 15-20 seconds.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter.
  7. Enjoy as a breakfast dish with eggs, savory dish with salad or snack/dessert with nutella, fruit or chocolate.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to make a quick and healthy dinner

Don't think you have to always use a recipe; just cook!

I normally don't post the "what I had for dinner" photo on my blog; I generally save that for Facebook. Today, when I went to the grocery store, I was inspired by the produce. I didn't really have a plan; I just put it all in my cart. I also grabbed a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs as my kids love this as a protein.

I think that it's great to have a stack of recipes on hand but at the same time, so much of it is just cooking. Can you guess all of cooking methods I used in the above picture? They are shredding, marinating and grilling, steaming and roasting. Each item didn't take very long so if you can multi-task, it's easy to put together a dinner like this. Here's how I did it:

BBQ Chicken-I placed the chicken breasts in a glass pan and added bbq sauce. The marinating time is quick so you can leave the chicken out for 20 minutes while you prepare the other dishes. My favorite is Bone Suckin' Sauce; my kids like it too. It's sweet but not too spicy. I set the grill to medium and cooked each side for 7 minutes or so. The nice thing about thighs is that they are hard to overcook because of the fat. I added some extra bbq sauce during the last 3 minutes to give it a glaze. Total time: 30 minutes.

Green Beans-After the chicken was marinating, using a kitchen scissor and cutting the stem end of 3-4 at a time, I was able to prep a pound of green beans in about 10 minutes. I cut them one more time in the center and then plopped them into a pot with a steamer basket. There was more water than just to cover the bottom of the pot but not too much that the water was above the steamer basket. I placed a cover on top, set the heat to a little over medium and then lowered it a bit when I heard it steaming. 5 minutes later or so, I had perfect beans. Some times I add olive oil, butter or sesame oil with a little salt but tonight, they were perfect plain. This took about 10 minutes of prep and no more than 5 minutes of cooking.

Coleslaw-you can buy shredded carrots and even shredded cabbage. If you don't have access to either, get out the cuisinart. In a bowl, I mixed 1/2 c mayo, 1/4 c sour cream (use Veganaise if you have dairy issues), 1 Tbl agave nectar, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 3/4 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper. After I shredded a half of a head of cabbage (many produce sections will do this upon request), I added it to the mixture along with a handful of shredded carrots which I had gotten from the store. The whole process takes about 15 minutes but if you make it frequently, it is helpful to be familiar with the recipe (I had done it the day before).

Roasted Dino Kale-Start by pre-heating the oven to 400F. This whole process couldn't be easier (assuming the kale is fairly clean). If you have to remove a lot of dirt, it does take longer. The bunch I bought was pretty clean and only needed a rinse and a shake. I don't even cut out the stem in the middle any more; I just make thin strips starting from the top. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Drizzle a teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil, add some sea or Kosher salt and toss together. 10-12 minutes later you will have a lovely dish of kale chips. I'm still amazed my kids eat this but they do.

What you didn't see in the photo was a brown rice and red quinoa pilaf. My math was off so I had to add more water and cook it longer. I'm guessing it's because I was cooking 4 things at once!

I hope this meal inspires you to do some plain, ole cooking. Some times that's all you need.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gluten-free Lentil Loaf recipe

Often I get an email from my cousin that reads "Do you have a recipe for ...". A few years ago, he was looking for a lentil loaf recipe. I didn't have one but looked at 2-3 different recipes to get some ideas and created this one, adding the rice and using oats instead of breadcrumbs.

That recipe, before I was eating a gluten-free diet, was posted on my blog in 2009. I realized I should create a gluten-free version.

I am not a vegetarian but do enjoy some dishes, like this one, especially with a mushroom Marsala sauce and (of course) mashed potatoes. There's not much more to say than that! more thing; I think this would also work with quinoa or millet to replace some of the rice. Millet is dry so you might have to add more milk but the quinoa should work.

As always, let me know how you like it.

Gluten-Free Lentil Loaf

1 c short grain brown rice (or use about 2 c cooked)
1 c brown lentils (or use 3 c cooked)
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp Herbs de Provence or a combination of thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbl tomato paste
1/2 c walnuts, toasted
1 c gluten-free instant oats
1/2 c gluten-free ketchup
2 Tbl brown mustard
1 Tbl gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 c Milk or water
1-2 eggs, beaten

Note: Steps 1-3 can be done at the same time.
1. Cook rice: bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring back to a boil and then simmer for about 30-35 minutes.

2. Cook lentils: add 1 cup of rinsed lentils to 3 cups of water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook about 30 minutes or until water is absorbed and lentils are soft.

3. Cook veggies: Heat oil in pan. Add carrots, onions and then celery with seasonings and salt until golden brown. Add 1/2-1 cup water and cook until evaporated. This will help soften the veggies and get the flavor from the pan. Remove from pan and add tomato paste.

5. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray or coat with oil.

6. Once lentils, rice, and veggies have cooled, mix in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT egg. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Once the flavor is right, add the egg and mix well. Make sure the mixture is somewhat "wet" or else it will be crumbly instead of moist. You can add more milk or water if necessary.

7. Place in loaf pan and press down. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees F and the top is browned.

8. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut. Serve with gluten-free mushroom marsala sauce.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

KitchenAid Kitchen Makeover

Are you interested in some new equipment for your kitchen? I sure am! What's funny is that where I live, in Northern California, I am more excited about a slow cooker right now than an ice cream maker; it's foggy, misty and about 55 degrees.

My friends at Red Tricycle have created a great opportunity to win some amazing prizes. I'm not sure if you know, but they have named me a Top Mom Blogger in the Bay Area. Look for my easy recipe for a basic coleslaw in an upcoming newsletter.

Red Tricycle is a website that organizes anything related to kids and families. From events and camps to stores and restaurants, their site has the hottest information all specific to a geographic area (currently San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, San Diego and Los Angeles with more to come).

So let's find out how you can win some stuff:

Red Tricycle is celebrating their newly-launched Food newsletter with a smokin’ hot giveaway. They want to treat one lucky mom to a Kitchen-Aid Kitchen Makeover. As you know, their mission is simple: to help you have more fun with your kids!

They are giving away five kitchen appliances that will rev up your kitchen and save you extra time so you can enjoy the summer with your family! Red Tricycle’s kitchen makeover includes:
  • KithchenAid Summer favorite Ice cream maker
  • KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer
  • KitchenAid 7-Quart Slow Cooker
  • KitchenAid 700-Watt 12-Cup Food Processor
  • Easy Bake Oven
Here is how to enter:

* If you haven’t already, sign-up for Red Tricycle’s free newsletter with 5 fresh picks on things to do, eat, and see with your kids.
* If you are already a Red Tricycle subscriber, send an email to with “Food” and your city in the subject line to enter.
* Make sure to enter The Family Chef in the "Referred by" box or in the email.

Want to get an extra entry?

* Like your local Red Tricycle Seattle, Red Tricycle San Francisco, Red Tricycle LA, Red Tricycle Portland or Red Tricycle San Diego Facebook page and leave a comment.
* Follow us on Twitter and tweet this story simply by clicking on the twitter icon below.
* Refer a friend! If your friends sign up for Red Tricycle’s free 5-fresh-picks and mention your name/email in the “referred by” box, you both get an extra entry. The more friends you refer, the more chances to win!

Click here to read official contest rules. Good luck. If you win, send me an email (look under my photo on the left) and I'll send you some recipes!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Udi's new hamburger and hot dog buns are perfect for summer

Wait, is that a hamburger roll that doesn't crumble? What a treat!

One advantage to a gluten-free diet is skipping the bread; I find I'm not as full otherwise. I often ask for a plain hot dog or hamburger whether I'm at the ball game, a bbq or restaurant. My kids and I have gotten used to it so it's no longer a big deal. However, when I made my own hamburger recently and served it on one of Udi's new hamburger rolls, I realized I did miss it. Whether you are looking for the gluten-free replacement or you just crave a roll once in a while, Udi's is a good option.

I have learned with gluten-free bread to keep it in the freezer if I'm not going to use it right away. The Udi's rolls are attached so if this is your strategy too, cut them before freezing. I find if I leave the roll out for about 10 minutes, it's thawed enough to separate (you can also place it in the microwave for 10 seconds if necessary). To complete the thawing process and crisp it up, I put mine in the toaster oven for 2-3 minutes. This is also another way to melt cheese.

When you make your burger, you don't need to add anything except some seasoning. For a pound of meat, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and a sprinkling of black pepper should be enough. That's personal preference; my husband adds a grill seasoning but it's too spicy for our kids. I only buy natural, grass-fed beef. My personal favorite is a local farm called Markegard Family Grass-Fed which is excellent. Even though there isn't too much fat, the flavor is amazing.

On the day I made the burger to the left, it was just for myself so I made it in a pan versus the outdoor grill. After turning it and letting it cook another few minutes, I added some sharp cheddar and covered it with a pot lid. This finished the cooking and melted the cheese perfectly. To the bun, I added some organic tomato and lettuce. I plopped the burger on top, added my ketchup :-) and went for it. I was making the happy yummy noise while I ate; luckily I was alone! I would recommend trying it, especially if it's something you miss on a gluten-free diet.

As for the hot dog rolls, I like them but they are a bit dense. We ate them another night with some Fearless Flyer hot dogs which we grilled on the bbq. The rolls were hard for my kids to eat but it didn't stop me. The downside was that I felt full so maybe next time I'll just go for a half.

The hot dog to the left is one from a Celiac Awareness Event at AT&T Park this past week. My children split one and it was still a lot of bread. I'm going to try microwaving the rolls next time I serve them to see if that helps it become a bit softer which might make it easier for them.

If you don't see Udi's in your local market, remember to ask. Some times products can be in places you don't expect (like the fridge or freezer). It's also helpful for the store to know you are interested so they are more likely to carry them.

It's almost officially summer so this year, don't deny yourself! Have a burger or hot dog on a roll and enjoy!