Bun in the Oven

Sooo... I have been away for awhile, but I have an awesome excuse. I have a bun in the oven.

I don't necessarily like that expression but it's fitting for a food blog.

Andrew and I found out we were expecting towards the beginning of July and for a long time I could not fathom blogging about food, nor did I have the motivation to whip up any new recipes, cook, eat or think about food. If I had posted a blog, it would have consisted of my love affair with non-dairy ice cream treats and orange juice (my lifesavers).

Our sweet baby boy is due towards the end of March and I am in the process of transitioning over to a lifestyle blog (baby, home life, some eats, etc). Luminary Havens will remain, but probably only with the occasional vegan/gluten free restaurant reviews. My heart's in a different place now for blogging inspiration and I am following it.

This foodie baby loves vegan hot chocolate and kicking when I make dinner.


Baked! - Gluten Free, Vegan, Portland Restaurant Review

The sun has finally made its long awaited presence in Portland. Look, I know people talk about the weather just to make conversation, but for about 6 months weather has made its way into every conversation. It's pathetic. It had been so gloomy, gray, cold and wet this past winter (and spring), that it just had to be discussed. People needed to vent. People needed sunny vacations and vitamin d. What does this have to do with a food post? Not much, I suppose. Except that I for one, don't exactly enjoy eating outside during the soggier months.

However, in the last few weeks the skies have cleared and the sun has been absolutely glorious. We've been taking advantage of this by spending more time outside. We spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon on NE Alberta and had fun looking through the shops, getting groceries at the Alberta Co-op and locating all the places that offer the Supportland card. We were strolling along when all of the sudden the words gluten free and vegan jumped out at me, with macaroni and cheese following. We stopped to read the sign and discovered Baked! They're serving up made-to-order macaroni and cheese from a window in a building on Alberta. It's like a food cart... only it's a food window.

Baked offers gluten free noodles, as well as a vegan cheese sauce (also gluten free). I ordered the standard mac and Andrew ordered the margherita (basil, tomatoes and garlic). There were a bunch of other selections and add-ins as well. The mac & cheese was inexpensive and the guy at the window was friendly. We also found out you can go into the bar next door (they share an indoor service window) and order from inside and they will bring you your food. We decided to go inside, Andrew ordered a beer and we sat on the back patio on picnic tables. There were people playing ping pong in the sun and other people playing games, but I didn't enjoy it because I have a sensitive nose and it was really smokey.

Our food came out fairly soon. We knew it would take a bit longer for our special orders. It was piping hot and as soon as we took the lid off we knew we were in for a treat. It was a huge portion, smelled so good and looked oh, so, very cheesy. I immediately wished I had ordered the same as Andrew's because the basil smelled delicious. The top of the baked mac was a little crispy and crunchy - which is why I love baked mac and cheese. My gluten free noodles were perfectly cooked and that sauce - that "cheese" sauce - was ridiculously good. It was nutritional yeast based but had some gluten free tamari in it that gave an awesome salty, smokey flavor. It was one of the best vegan/gf macaroni and cheese dishes I have ever had.

You really should not debate whether to give this place a try. Go to Alberta, spend something around $7 for a huge helping (enough for left overs) of some of the best mac and cheese ever and your tummy will thank you.

Vegan Baked Margherita Mac

GF/Vegan Standard Mac


Junior's Cafe - Vegan, Gluten Free, Portland Restaurant Review

I love the weekends because they give us an excuse to sleep in and then decide to go out for brunch. Lately we have been trying new places from the Portland Chinook Book, which offers great coupons for local restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores and much more.

One of their dining coupons is for Junior's Cafe in SE Portland. It was a "buy one entree, get one of equal or lesser value free". Those are the best discounts and since we live nearby, we couldn't resist giving it a try. We headed over to Juniors around 1pm on a Saturday and didn't have any expectations, as we had never heard of it. We looked online and found out they have a decent amount of vegan choices, but only one or two vegan and gluten free entrees. Junior's is located in an unexpected place. It just kind of popped up in the middle of some neighborhoods. It's small and quaint with some really sweet wallpaper and decor. We sat down immediately in a cushy booth when we got there, complete with own carafe of water. They had customers but it wasn't busy and I am curious if it ever gets super crowded. Anyway, we were promptly greeted and served by some of the best customer service at any Portland spot. Serious. Those Junior's folks were friendly, energetic, warm and kind. In fact we had two different people serve us and both were awesome.

On to the food... it is diner food, so if you're looking for healthy or raw options, then keep looking. But if you're in the mood for comfort food then Junior's is your place! I ordered the vegan potato plate. It comes with spicy seasoned potatoes, corn, mushrooms and zucchini and is topped with a spicy tofu sauce. The guy who took our order suggested I add the "SortaSausage". I had no idea what it was but he knew it was gluten free and vegan. After some iPhone searching, I found out that it was also sesame free, GMO free and locally made. I am so so so so happy I added it to my meal. That sort of sausage is sort of awesome. No, it is awesome. I usually do not like vegan sausage products for the same reason I never liked actual sausage (texture and flavor), but the kind of SortaSausage they had was more like crumbled Sunshine Burgers, which I love.

The dish overall was unbelievable. I was expecting a ho-hum plate of potatoes and instead got a [huge] heaping plate of goodness. The sweet corn and zucchini were perfect with the spicy potatoes and tofu sauce. The tofu sauce alone was amazing. It added some heat to the dish, was delicious and kept it from being too dry. The sausage added some "meat" to the meal and was filling, but it was everything plated together that was perfectly delicious.

Vegan Potatoes with SortaSausage

Andrew ordered a cup of coffee, which never went empty (that helped make up for its price). It came with a generous amount of soy milk (enough for a small glass). He also ordered the french toast breakfast and got it veganized. It came with garden sausage patties and tofu. However, our awesome waiter asked if Andrew would rather have potatoes than tofu, to which he replied yes.

The french toast was great with maple syrup and Earth balance (though Andrew prefers thicker french toast). He enjoyed his potatoes (even if they seemed so plain next to mine), but the best part of his meal was his sausage. We couldn't figure out what brand it was until the waitress told us it was Gimme Lean sausage that they froze in the tube and then cut, so it would hold together like a patty. Andrew thought it had the best texture out of any kind of breakfast patty and was happy they didn't serving Morning Star veggie sausage like everyone else. Even though he enjoyed his meal, I knew as soon as our food came out that he wished he'd ordered the vegan potatoes too. Andrew confirmed this and luckily for him I had a portion large enough to share (and take home leftovers)!

Vegan French Toast Breakfast with Potatoes and Garden Sausage

Our food was filling and delicious and Junior's Cafe is a must visit for their hospitality and friendliness alone. We'll be going back and I have my bets that next time we'll be ordering two vegan potato dishes!


Vegan & Gluten-Free Mashed Potatoes

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I thought it was only fitting to have a potato recipe for today (it's so cliche). One of my favorite foods as a child was my grandpa's mashed potatoes and I still get excited when he makes them for me. He has some sort of magic way of doing it so that they are as creamy and fluffy as possible. This recipe is a more "rustic" version, with a few lumps and bumps, but they are still pretty smooth. I like to leave the skins on, but if you prefer you can peel the potatoes for a smoother mash.

Vegan, Gluten Free Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6


2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
3 tbs Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Dried Sage (optional)
Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

1. Wash and scrub the potatoes and cut off any brown spots or eyes.

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and steam until fork tender. You could also bake, which can take awhile or boil. Be careful if you choose to boil, that the potatoes are not cut too small or get too soft. Boiling can lead to watery mashed potatoes, which is why I choose steaming.

3. Place the potatoes, unsweetened almond milk and oil in a large bowl. Add the sage, rubbing it between your fingers. Mash with an electric mixer or potato masher until your desired texture. They won't be totally creamy, but will have a little rustic, lumpy texture to them.

5. Crack black pepper and sea salt on top if desired. Serve with gravy, shredded "cheese", vegan butter or enjoy plain.

I topped mine with Road's End Organic Savory Herb Gravy


Italian White Bean & Kale Soup - Gluten Free and Vegan

I love soup, especially on drizzly days like we've been experiencing in Portland lately. Although "drizzly" does not even begin to describe it... because it has been pouring buckets. The crazy (usual) weather was making my soup-pot look mighty attractive and within no time I had visions of carrots, celery and beans dancing around in my head. I was dreaming up something warm and hearty, something brimming with leafy kale and italian herbs, something to make me forget all about the rain and be thankful for soup weather.

White Bean and Kale Soup
Serves 4

2 tbs Canola Oil
1 cup Yellow Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Celery Stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 Large Carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
32 oz Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
14.5 oz Italian Diced Tomatoes
14.5 oz Cannelloni Beans
4 cups Kale, chopped and packed, tough stems removed
1/2 tsp Dried Sage
1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
1/4 tsp Paprika
Blacker Pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, heating until fragrant, about another minute.

2. Add the carrots and celery, sautéing for 5 - 10 minutes until tender.

3. Add the broth, tomatoes and beans (both undrained) and kale. Add the sage, rubbing it between your fingers, rosemary and paprika. Stir to combine.

4. Bring the soup to a boil then turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked enough.

5. Crack fresh pepper to taste and serve.

I have been on a kale kick lately, so I knew I wanted a soup with this powerful green as the star ingredient - and I think it shines.


Gluten Free Vegan Pad Thai

I have a confession to make. A few weeks ago, in a fury of hunger and a low blood-sugar inducing bad mood, I ate a vegan pad thai and it was sick, gross, nasty. It tasted like it was made with ketchup. I forgot to ask if the sauce had sugar in it, but it did. It was so sugary gross. I couldn't eat it and I was so sad. Ever since then I have been determined to try and make my own. And by golly, I did.

Another confession; this is not an authentic pad thai. One reason being that I could not find any tamarind at the last minute, but I don't care. It is pleasing to the taste buds and works for me as a pad thai. It was also exciting to put together and felt like a true accomplishment in the vegan, gluten-free world of recipes. In fact, Andrew (whom one would think doesn't express excitement due to his quiet, calm and unassuming nature - quite a stark contrast from myself) kept exclaiming that it was really good and how much he liked it and telling me "good job babe!". And that my friends is how I know I have struck gold.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pad Thai
Serves 2-3


8 0z. Flat Rice Noodles
8 oz Tempeh, cubed (optional)
2 tbs Canola Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 cups Broccoli Florets (or 2 bunches)
1 Carrot, sliced thin
8 Green Onions, whites and greens separated
5 tbs Agave Syrup
4 tbs Gluten Free Tamari (San-J brand)
2 Limes, 1 for garnish and the other for 2 tbs juice
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (1 tsp for more heat)
2 cups Bean Sprouts (+ more for garnish)
1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts, chopped

1. Cook the rice noodles according to the package, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Heat oil in wok or large pan over medium heat, adding the garlic and sautéing until fragrant, about one minute.

3. Add the tempeh, broccoli, carrots and the white green onions. Saute for a few minutes.

4. Add the tamari, agave syrup, lime juice, red pepper flakes.

5. Add the noodles and bean sprouts.

6. Stir to combine and cook until the veggies are heated and tender, but still with some crunch in them.

7. Serve with a garnish of bean sprouts, lime slices and crushed peanuts.

Nom, nom, nom.


Monday Meal Planning: February 21 - 25

What's for dinner?

Monday: PB & J, Veggie Sticks and Snackies
A packed and on-the-go dinner, since we were spending the evening on Mt. Hood snowboarding!

Tuesday: ALT Wraps and Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach & Chickpeas in a Maple Vinaigrette
Wraps with red leaf lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes and homemade sweet pickles from the Get Naked Fast! cookbook and a quinoa salad from Karina Allrich's blog; The Gluten-Free Goddess.

Wednesday: Fettuccine Alfredo and Green Salad
Trying out a fettuccine alfredo recipe from the March issue of VegNews Magazine, as well as having a green salad full topped with sliced radishes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber and sunflower seeds, lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

Thursday: Burritos with Spinach & Berry Salad
Burritos stuffed with my special mix of refried pinto beans, salsa, spinach and olives in a brown rice tortilla for me and an organic whole wheat tortilla for my love, who requested this meal. Wrapped in foil and baked in the oven - they could very well rival Laughing Planets. Add in a spinach salad topped with raspberries and sliced almonds and we have ourselves a lovely dinner.

Friday: Happy Hour at Blossoming Lotus!
Amazing taco plates and naan pizza (for the "naan" GF, hardy har).