Chocolate Mousse & Berries

Chocolate MousseChocolate craving? I get them every night around 8pm. As much as I will myself to crave grapes or carrot sticks instead, the chocolate continues to haunt me. During one of my recent moments of weakness, I decided to look to Google to expand my soy-free chocolate options. I stumbled upon Bobby Flay’s dark chocolate mousse.

Unfortunately, dairy free whipping cream is hard to come by. So, I’ve adapted this recipe to meet the needs of us soy-free eaters. But, if you’re dairy free, plan on tossing back some Lactaid pills!



1 bag of soy-free, dairy-free chocolate

14 ounces of whipping cream (Flay calls for heavy cream, the whipping cream creates a lighter fluff- personal preference)

3 large egg whites

2 tbsp of sugar

A mix of berries. I prefer raspberries and blueberries.



Melt the chocolate. I do this by heating water in a small sauce pan. I then put the chocolate in a glass bowl and rest the bowl atop the sauce pan. Heat gradually until the chocolate melts. Don’t try to melt the chocolate directly in a saucepan. Been there- it will burn.

In a medium bowl, whisk the whipping cream until it forms standing peaks. Set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form standing peaks. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar while whisking until the eggs are firm.

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg & sugar mixture. Stir gently. Fold the whipped cream into the mixture. Stir slowly until everything is integrated.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.

When you’re ready to indulge, toss the mousse in something pretty and top with berries!




Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

In a seasonal mood? These pumpkin-based muffins will absolutely satisfy your autumn-craving palette. I’m not certain where the recipe originated, but it’s been one of my mom’s Fall staples for years. She makes it in a 9×5 loaf pan. I prefer muffin cups for an easy grab-and-go breakfast.



1 1/2 cup of flour

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon of baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar

7.5 oz of canned pure pumpkin

2 eggs

1/2 cup of canola oil

1/4 cup of apple cider (the original recipe calls for water or apple juice)

1 large baking apple (I prefer Granny Smith)



Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a second medium bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and cider. Beat the mixture until it is just blended.

Combine the two bowls and mix until moistened.

Peel and chop the apple into tiny cubes. Fold into mixture.

Pour into 12 lined muffin cups. I like to sprinkle the tops with a cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Addicting Candied Almonds

IMG_2050I stumbled upon this incredible recipe from Food with Family on Pinterest. My neighbors may be getting almonds this year in place of my standard Chex Mix holiday gifts!

In terms of ingredients, don’t change a thing. I ended up having to cook my almonds a bit longer than the recipe calls for. Stir often and take them out when they are nearly dry. Leaving them in until they’re entirely dry will over cook them!

Candied Almonds

Taco Pie

Football season is upon us! With America’s favorite past time comes chili, seven layered chip dip, beer, and taco pie. Tacos can be messy and require too much effort on a Sunday when you’d rather veg on the couch and enjoy the game. Prepare it ahead of time (even the night before) and throw it in the oven a half hour before you’re ready to chow!


1 to 1.5 lbs of ground sirloin

2 packages of mild McCormick taco seasoning (You’ll only need 1 package if sans sour cream)

8 oz sour cream (skip if dairy free)

1 package of Pillsbury pie crust (You’ll only use half)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 cup of shredded cheese (What used to be Galaxy Nutritional Foods is now Go Veggie. They have a soy-free, dairy-free rice cheese available in shreds.)

1 cup of slightly crushed tortilla chips (El Milagro homestyle for soy-free)


Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. Put one of the pie crusts into an un-greased pie dish. Bake it for 10 minutes, or until it browns slightly.

Brown the meat. Follow the directions on the McCormick packet for adding the seasoning. Be sure to strain after!

Remove the pie crust from the oven. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  Pour in the strained meat into the cooked crust.

Mix the additional taco seasoning packet into the sour cream. Spread the seasoned sour cream over the meat.

Layer the chopped onion, tomato, and bell pepper over the sour cream. Sprinkle the cheese on top, then add the crushed chips.

Place the dish in the oven for 30-40 mins. Watch for the edges of the pie crust to brown slightly.

Let cool for a few minutes and serve at half time!

Taco Pie

Peaches & Pork

There’s nothing I love more than unexpected combinations when cooking. The more comfortable I become experimenting with flavors, the more enjoyable the outcome. I happened to come across this recipe from Cooking Light when searching for a new, summery dish to try. The sweet & savory compilation is most certainly one to add to the list of regulars!


2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2-4 boneless pork loin chops

4 thinly sliced shallots (sliced red onion will also suffice)

2 tsp. dried rosemary (the original recipe calls for chopped fresh thyme)

2 peaches, wedged

1/2 cup dry white wine (I use pinot grigio)

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Salt & pepper


Salt & pepper the pork chops. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook the pork chops. Depending on the thickness, they’ll need about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove the chops and put them in a warmed oven while you prepare the sauce.

Leave the oil from the meat in the skillet. Add in the peaches, shallots, and rosemary. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in wine, broth, and honey. Bring to a boil and simmer for about five minutes or until reduced by half. Add in the butter to thicken.

Prepare plates with the pork chops and pour the peaches and sauce over the meat.

I did not prepare a side because the flavors are so strong on their own. A starter salad would be complimentary.


Peaches & Pork

Peaches & Pork

Farmers Market Pasta

Pasta has a reputation for being a heavy, carb-overloading, cheat-meal. But, it doesn’t have to be! This light, refreshing dish breaks through the confines of pasta barriers. It will leave you satisfied, but not overly stuffed!



Pasta Puttana‘s Fiery Red Chile handcut tagliatelle (Spinach pasta is a tasty substitute. Just add crushed red pepper flakes or chili pepper paste to get the kick!)

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Freshly cut arugula

Salt & pepper to taste



Chiffonade your fresh arugula

Follow the package directions to boil the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks quickly!

Strain pasta.

In a small prep bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper.

In a serving bowl, gently combine the pasta, arugula, and dressing.


Farmers Market Pasta

Farmers Market Pasta


Not-So-Typical Pizza

RPM Date Night!

RPM Date Night!

I recently checked another item off my Chicago bucket list and dined at Bill (my not-so-secret crush) Rancic’s RPM Italian. The food was incredible and they were more than accommodating when it came to my soy-free restrictions. The only disappointment of the evening came when I heard Bill & Guiliana had been in several times throughout the NHL playoffs and I had just missed them. Darn it. 

Since our visit, friends have asked if RPM lives up to its hype. ABSOLUTELY. For me, eating out is about the food. RPM’s food was to die for. We ordered wood-roasted octopus, morel mushrooms served on hand-cut tagliatelle, short-rib pappardelle, a wood-oven pizza special, and dessert (of course). Needless to say, I left stuffed! Over the next few days, I found myself daydreaming about how full of taste each dish was. Not one item we tried could be described as bland or average.

I decided to try my hand at recreating something with such profound and original taste. Let’s be honest, I’m not cooking octopus and I cannot afford fresh morel mushrooms. I’ve tried short-ribs before and they were a complete failure; I almost lost a tooth. So, pizza it was! I couldn’t tell you what cheese or toppings RPM used. My version is not meant to replicate theirs (I would insult them terribly), but rather to experiment with new flavors. Here it goes…



Fresh whole-wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s offers a soy-free version. If gluten free – Better Bread Company offers a fresh option)

Pesto (Trader Joe’s now carries a soy-free pesto!)

Trader Joe’s freshly shaved parmesan, romano, & asiago cheese (If you’re lactose intolerant and can use Lactaid pills, I suggest this option. If not, a less flavorful rice cheese will suffice)



Fresh arugula

Fresh basil

Cherry tomatoes

Oyster mushrooms (Best from a farmers market- sometimes they offer mushroom medleys which will also work)

Crushed red pepper



Follow the directions specific to your crust for rolling & baking. Regardless of the crust, I always sprinkle my stone with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

Once the crust is rolled out, paste it with a layer of pesto. Evenly distribute your cheese.

Wash & dry your greens. Tear the basil and arugula into smaller pieces. Layer them on top of the cheese.

Halve your tomatoes and layer them on with the mushrooms.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake.

Pre-baked pizza

Pre-baked pizza

Baked pizza

Baked pizza


A Twist on Fruit (in) Salad

A fruit salad is a typical side dish at summer get-togethers. It’s also naturally soy-free! However, I happen to loath cantaloupe, honeydew, and most-things-melon. As luck would have it, they are the cheapest of the fruits. Therefore, melon is typically the alpha fruit of the American fruit salad.

Can’t afford a fruit salad sans melon? My remedy: the fruit (in) salad. It’s delicious, cheaper, and still fruity!



Greens (I’m partial to arugula, but anything will do)

Fresh blueberries and strawberries (your local farmers market is a great place to get fresh, organic berries at a reasonable price)

Dried cherries (dried cranberries are generally more affordable and I can hardly tell the difference once they’re mixed in)

(optional) Sliced almonds

(optional) Blue cheese

Italian dressing (Good Seasons’ Zesty Italian packet with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and water)

Salt & pepper to taste



Wash the berries and greens.

Slice the strawberries.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate if you’re saving it for later.

Add the dressing when you’re ready to serve! Dressing tip: less is more. With the juice from the strawberries, it can get soggy quickly.


Fruit (in) Salad

Fruit (in) Salad

Summer Pasta Salad

Need a side dish to bring to a summer BBQ? This is an easy staple that every cook-out needs to be complete. Warning: you may want to consider doubling the recipe if you’d like to come home with leftovers. It will be a hit!


Rainbow colored pasta

1 package of pepperonis

1 small carton of cherry tomatoes

2 to 3 bell peppers, vary in colors

1 red onion

frozen peas

frozen chopped brocoli

salad supreme (spice aisle)

Italian dressing (SOY-FREE: Good Seasons’ Zesty Italian packet mixed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and water)

salt & pepper to taste


Boil the pasta. Strain it and run under ice cold water until the pasta is cooled.

Chop all veggies (bite-size). Toss them into a large bowl with the pasta.

Add the salad supreme spice, dressing, and salt & pepper until you like the taste. While my patience is terrible, it’s best to refrigerate it over night and add additional flavorings in the morning if needed.

Welcome, summer!

Welcome, summer!

Perfect Starter Salad

When I was growing up, my mom served a side salad with EVERY dinner. I wish I were motivated to do the same, but I find myself so turned off by the cutting of the vegetables, the mixing of the dressing, etc. It just seems like more work than it’s worth.

However, I have since discovered the easiest and tastiest way to go about it!


Pre-washed arugula and baby spinach blend

Cherry tomatoes

1 lemon

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste


Tear up the spinach and arugula. The kick of the arugula makes up for the lack of veggies.

Halve the cherry tomatoes

Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and the olive oil.

Add some salt & pepper and mix.

Breezy Side Salad!

Breezy Side Salad!

Saturday Morning Pancakes

It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So, let’s make it a good one!

This pancake recipe is adapted from It’s completely fool-proof and quick- perfect for you non-morning people. These pancakes will be ready faster than you can brew your pot of coffee.


1 1/2 cup flour

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

1 1/4 cup Lactaid milk

1 egg

3 tbsp. melted Earth Balance natural buttery spread, soy-free (found at Whole Foods)

(optional) 1 cup fresh blueberries

(optional) 100% pure maple syrup (no added flavorings)

(optional) a pinch of powdered sugar



Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Throw an oven-safe dish into it- a sheet of aluminum foil will also suffice. This is where you can keep the finished pancakes warm until the entire batch is ready.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix milk, egg and melted butter.

Slowly pour the liquid bowl contents into the dry ingredients while stirring. Mix until smooth.

Heat a dab of butter in frying pan. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan. Push a few blueberries into the top. (I prefer this to adding them to the mixture in the bowl- better distribution).

When the pancake bubbles start to pop, it’s ready to be flipped.

Once you’ve finished your whole batch, sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar and dig in!

Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast is served!
Breakfast is served!


Tortilla Soup

Soup season is upon us! Nothing beats a fall weekend full of sweaters, football, and homemade soup. This recipe was adapted from


Two chicken breasts (bone in)

1 clove of garlic minced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

14.5 oz can of whole kernel corn

1 cup water (I ended up adding a second cup at the end)

salt & pepper to flavor

14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (the recipe calls for stewed tomatoes, but I couldn’t find any that were soy-free)

1 cup crushed baked tortilla chips

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

7 oz can of chipotles in adobo sauce (discard the peppers and use the sauce)

1 lime

1/2 yellow onion chopped

1 stick of celery chopped


First, make your own chicken broth (thanks, Mom)! Pour the water into your pot and place the two chicken breasts in. Add your chopped celery, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and put the lid on. Let it simmer for 45 mins.

Remove the lid. Carefully transport the chicken breasts to a cutting board to cool. They’ll be tender!

Add the tomatoes (unstrained), corn, adobo sauce, and spices to the broth. I don’t put the chipotle peppers in the soup, just the adobo sauce. If you’re looking for a stronger kick, mince a pepper and toss it in. Add water if it appears too dense.

Remove the skin and bone from the chicken breasts. Using two forks, shred the chicken by pulling it apart. Discard fat. Place the shredded chicken in the broth.

Stir. Put the lid back on and let it sit for about 20 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips and a wedge of lime. Delicious! Happy weekend!

Mom’s Sugar Cookies

No matter what the occasion, these sugar cookies are a staple. I’m not a cookie person. When given the option, I will ALWAYS choose ice cream, pie, AND chocolate. That said, something about this recipe sucks me in. I made these last week- the batch is gone. It should be noted, I live alone.


1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter (Soy-free, dairy-free: Earth Balance. Soy-free: Land of Lakes)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1  teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl

Add liquids and egg

Blend (Add a food coloring if you’d like)

Chill overnight (at least 3 hours if you’re impatient!)

Roll out and cut with seasonal cookie cutters

Apply confectionary sugar

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes



Can you tell which one is Brett’s masterpiece?


Yum! Lactaid Milk!

Pumpkin Seeds

I’m feeling festive. Here’s the trick to a yummy snack post-pumpkin carving. Happy Halloween!


Pumpkin seeds

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder




Carve a pumpkin (or two!)

Dump the insides into a bowl

Separate the seeds and discard the pulp


Do NOT rinse the seeds (you’ll wash away the pumpkin flavor!)

Add olive oil (just enough to coat them)

Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your liking.

Bake at 250 degrees for an hour or until slightly brown.


Blueberry Muffins

This one’s for you, Tom!

If you have food allergies, you know that cooking from a box is nearly impossible. And if you happen to find an allergen free pre-made mix, it doesn’t taste good. Why make our non-allergen-challenged friends suffer the consequences. These muffins are delicious and do NOT taste altered in the least.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil (in place of vegetable oil)

1 egg

1/3 Lactaid milk (in place of dairy)

1 cup fresh blueberries

A shaker of even parts sugar and cinnamon (topping)



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Line 6 muffin cups with muffin liners (recipe yields 6 large muffins)

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Stir.

Add oil, egg, milk. Beat until well blended.

Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups.

Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. Leftover mixture is great on toast with butter!

Bake for 20-25 mins.

Middle Eastern?

I’m a mixer. The way I see it, everything on your plate is headed to the same place. So, why not mix it? Nothing beats getting a little bit of everything in one bite! This dish is definitely one for the mixers.

This is an incredibly easy and quick recipe for busy weeknights. My family refers to this as middle Eastern- it isn’t. My guess is the name stemmed from the pita. Whatever you opt to call it, it’s delicious!


1 pound ground sirloin

1 red bell pepper

a handful of cherry tomatoes

a bunch of chopped green onions

1 cucumber

1 pita – Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a few options for soy-free pita.

Ranch dressing – Annie’s Naturals Organic Cowgirl Ranch is SOY FREE. It is not, however, dairy free. If you’re lactose intolerant, I suggest Lactaid pills.

Salt/Pepper to taste


Tear up your pita into bite sized pieces and spread on your plate.

Chop all of your veggies into bit sized pieces (I typically cut the tomatoes in half). Spread your veggies onto your plate. If you’re serving for company, spread them out on a cutting board and let your guests build their own plates.

Brown your meat with some salt and pepper.

Toss some of the meat on top of your veggies and pita. Pour ranch on top.

What I love most about this meal is the variety of temperatures (cold veggies/hot meat), textures (pita, veggies, meat, ranch), and flavors. Feel free to add your favorite vegetables!

Summertime Pie

Ice cream can be tough for soy-free, dairy-free dieters. This summertime dessert, however, is easy as pie- because it is! This blueberry-raspberry pie is an easy dish for company because it can be prepared in advance. If you’re making it for yourself, be careful- so addicting!


Pie Crust- Many crusts contain soy because they’re made with shortening. You can make your own with lard or all butter. I’m not that talented. Luckily for me, Pillsbury makes a pie crust with lard that is entirely soy-free. For my fellow lazy bakers: Pillsbury Soy-Free Pie Crust

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups fresh raspberries


Line your pie plate with the bottom portion of the crust. Beat the egg white and 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the crust.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix and then gently stir in the berries.

Pour mixture into crust.

Place the top crust on and seal the edges. Put slits in the top. Brush with remaining egg white/water mixture. Sprinkle on sugar if you’d like.

Cover the edges with tin foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove the tin foil for the last 10 minutes to crisp the edges. Cool and then store in the fridge!

Rachael Ray’s Spinach Pasta with Asparagus Pesto

Rachael Ray is a phenomenal resource for soy-free eating. Her thirty minutes meals are simple to follow and make weeknight dinners a breeze. She also makes everything from scratch and uses EVOO instead of vegetable oil.

Rachael featured this recipe on her show last week. I tried, and loved it! If you’re dairy-free, like myself, substitute the cheese with rice cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Foods. You’ll find it at Whole Foods.

Thank you, Rachael Ray!

And you thought we couldn’t eat chocolate…

I am two things for certain: a dog person, and a chocolate person. I don’t believe you can be indifferent about either. So, the prospect of eliminating chocolate from my diet killed me. Luckily for us, we don’t have to! Below is a quick and simple recipe for a delicious chocolate dessert.



Soy-free, dairy-free chocolate chips ( -Whole Foods carries them!)

1 spoonful of Earth Balance natural buttery spread -Also Whole Foods


Rinse and thoroughly dry strawberries.


Boil a small pot of water.

Put your chocolate chips and butter into a glass bowl.


Once the pot of water has boiled, turn off the heat and place the glass bowl on top of it. Stir with a spoon until all of the chips and butter have melted.


Hold the strawberries by their leaves and dip.

Place them on parchment paper to harden and enjoy an hour or two later!


In the case that you have a chocolate craving you’d prefer to satisfy with less work, buy a chocolate bar! Trader Joe’s carries a milk chocolate candy bar that is soy-free and organic. It is not, however, dairy-free.


Mom’s Chili

Nothing beats a hot pot of my mom’s chili in the fall/winter. But, who am I kidding? I eat it year round. This is a (slightly) adapted version of the chili I grew up on.


1 1/2 pound of ground round- I use sirloin, not because it’s leaner, just because I’m lazy about straining.

1 medium onion

1 can of kidney beans (the size depends on how bean-y you like it)

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can of whole tomatoes- I cut them into quarters to have some larger tomato chunks. I strongly suggest you not wear white during this process- lesson learned.

1 can tomato paste

Chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste (I also add cumin)

1 cup of water

1 bay leaf


Brown meat and onion, drain fat (again, I’m lazy). Dump everything else in a pot. Add the meat and onion and simmer four an hour or so. Taste periodically to adjust flavors. If you have a crock pot (yet, another sign of my laziness) then you don’t have to brown the onions, just the meat. I plug it in before work and return to an apartment filled with the scent of chili! Love that.

Thanks, Mom!

Steve’s Spicy Flank Steak

I’ve adapted this recipe a few times- I was initially inspired by my pseudo-cousin, Steve (a fabulous cook). Thanks, Steve!

I suggest you avoid this unless you have an extreme love for SPICY food. This recipe yields about 6 servings. I typically half it.


1/2 red onion, chopped

2 limes, juiced

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sherry- this replaced chicken broth. While there are broths that are soy-free, they are very difficult to find. If you’d prefer chicken broth, I suggest making your own.

1 tablespoon of canola oil

1 medium jalapeño chile pepper (or three serrano chiles)

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

3/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (dried works fine if it’s easier!)

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (I tend to add extra – yum)

2 tablespoons of honey

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (WARNING: Does contain “natural flavoring”!!! It has never bothered me in this dish- it’s such a minute amount. If at all nervous, omit it!)

3 pounds beef flank steak

kosher salt to taste


Puree the solids and liquids into the bowl of a blender or food processor until the ingredients are well incorporated. Marinate the flank steak with 1/2 cup of the puree in a resealable bag overnight in the refrigerator. Reserve the rest of the puree to use later as a sauce.

Preheat a grill for medium-high heat.

While grill is warming, remove the meat from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Discard any marinade left in the bag. Liberally season the steak with the kosher salt, and cook to desired doneness, approximately 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. (for medium-rare, a meat thermometer should read 145°; medium, 160°; well-done, 170°)

To serve, slice the steak against the grain into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.

Pour yourself a bold red wine and enjoy!


My favorite part- Coarsely chop your favorite veggies (I use onion and bell peppers). Toss them in a wok with the extra sauce and a few cups of water. Simmer until the water evaporates. They are to die for! Heed warning: the leftovers get so much more spicy!

Steve and I in the kitchen. Don’t be fooled- I didn’t do any of the work.

Favorite Chicago Restaurants

Eating out can be very difficult when it comes to managing soy allergies. Most restaurants cook with a blend of vegetable oil. More often than not, they contain soy. You’re best bet is to find restaurants that do not use a blend.

Authentic Mexican restaurants typically use corn oil. Their flour tortillas are often made from water and flour. My favorite Mexican restaurant in Chicago is El Tapatio, located on the corner of Ashland and Roscoe in Lakeview. It’s safe to eat, the staff is extremely friendly, and you can’t beat their margaritas! I suggest checking it out!

Authentic Italian restaurants are also typically a safe bet. Most of them use pure extra virgin olive oil. Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar at State and Ontario has always been very accommodating. I love their bolognese sauce!

Chop houses also tend to be very accommodating, and the chefs always seem to know what to look for. Keefer’s at State and Dearborn is a great one! Not only are they extremely helpful and knowledgeable, our server asked me to name a few appetizers and entrees I was interested in, and checked on each of them!

I always suggest calling ahead and asking them to check their cooking oil. It’s not uncommon that restaurants have the misconception that “soy” refers solely to soy sauce. Don’t be afraid to be specific!

Great Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies

Great Grandma Baker on her 100th birthday! How cute is she?

My great grandmother (Grandma Baker- last name, pun not intended) made the BEST oatmeal cookies. Being soy-free has significantly affected my sweet intake. The oatmeal cookies, however, were not one I was willing to sacrifice. Below is my adapted version of these remarkable cookies. To be honest, they taste the same!


1 cup of butter- I use Earth Balance natural buttery spread which is soy and dairy free. If you are going to buy regular butter, check the ingredients! So many brands include “natural flavoring” which is code for SOY.

1 cup of brown sugar (dark)

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 well beaten eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of soda

3 cups of quick cooking oatmeal- I buy a can of Quaker Oats. Any packs of flavored oats for instant oatmeal will contain soy.

1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts- The baking aisle is the best place to find plain nuts. Any nuts for snacking (cans and medleys) will most likely be cooked in soybean oil.


Thoroughly cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients. Add oatmeal and nuts. Mix well. Refrigerate overnight. Use a spoon to place on cooking sheet and flatten with a fork. I use parchment paper for easier clean up. Bake for 10 mins at 350 degrees. Cool on rack and enjoy!

Tip for leftover oats – while we may be limited with pre-flavored instant oatmeal, we CAN eat oatmeal prepared the old-fashioned way! Boil some oats in water. Sprinkle on brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Yum!

Pizza Night

I grew up having a weekly family pizza night. Every Sunday entailed pizza, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Married with Children, and on the late nights, X-Files. The idea of life without pizza was unfathomable. I now make my own pizza. It’s easier than you’d think!

Trader Joe’s has a pre-made pizza dough with no soy. Whole Food’s (my typical go-to) does not! T.J.’s also has a fresh sauce that’s safe (kept in the refrigerated area next to the dough).

For most of you, regular mozzarella should do the trick. For those of you (like myself) who are also lactose-free, Whole Foods does carry a brand of rice cheese by Galaxy Nutritional Foods.

I suggest purchasing a pizza stone or pan. I love mine from Crate and Barrel. The best part- you’re not supposed to wash it!

Let the crust sit out for about twenty minutes prior to rolling out (it gets much bigger). Toss some corn meal on the stone. Use flour to role out the dough. Put it on the stone, toss on your sauce and cheese. Add whichever toppings you like. I love tomato and fresh basil! Bake for about twenty minutes at 425 degrees.

A tip if you’re a pesto person- Williams Sonoma has a safe pesto sauce. It’s pricey, but I love it! If you’re really daring, you can make your own. Toss some pesto, pine nuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. That’s the simplest way I know- but Rachael Ray offers some much more tasty options.

Enjoy your pizza night!

Protein Bar Plug!

On my first date with Brett (boyfriend), I had the dreaded conversation with the server. As it turned out, the restaurant had NOTHING soy-free and only cooked with vegetable oil (always contains soy). I was embarrassingly limited to a cup of fruit. I’m sure Brett thought I was a freak (or an under-eater).

Instead of running for the hills, he texted me promptly Monday morning asking for my email address. Five minutes later, my inbox dinged with an email labeled “Protein Bar” containing only a link. I dismissed it thinking it was literally a bar of protein, something comparable to a granola bar. I later found myself in an awkward position when he asked me on a second date to Protein Bar (yes, a location, not granola). Oops.

When I was first diagnosed with my allergy, I thought for sure fast-food was off the table. Protein Bar is the exception! They are cognizant of all allergies, and incredibly accommodating. I had a burrito (quinoa) and chocolate shake (whey protein, cocoa, and almond milk) on that date! Their food is incredibly healthy and delicious! Try it.

They currently only have locations in D.C. and Chicago. However, they’re spreading rapidly. I suggest writing letters petitioning them to open a location in your city.

Here’s the link:

And, credit goes to… Brett!