The 21st Annual Family Cafe

In just under 2 weeks, thousands of families from around the State of Florida will travel to Orlando, Fl to attend the 21st Annual Family Cafe & Governor’s Summit on Disabilities from June 7-9, 2019. This conference brings together Florida residents with varying disabilities and allows them the chance to gather information, network, have fun, and most importantly, not feel alone. The Cafe is an amazing opportunity for families to network with other people who are going through similar similar experiences. To share from their own triumphs and not so triumphant moments and motivate. The Cafe is packed full of special events including specialty entertainment, adaptive recreational activities for kids, sensory rooms, keynote speakers, exhibitors, free medical and dental screenings, breakout information sessions, and much more.

I was honored to be asked to speak this year at the Cafe and discuss “Navigating the World of Gluten-Free and Sensory Diets” and what they mean to us. I am humbled beyond compare and cannot wait to share my knowledge and passion with everyone. I will be posting my slideshow from my presentation right here on my blog after the conference. Here is to the future and helping make the world Delicious, Nutritious, & Allergen Free!

Savory Lasagna

I don’t know about you, but when I think about lasagna, I think about my mom spending hours in front of the stove to create this amazing masterpiece that would make Garfield drool. Growing up, lasagna was a treat meal. With a large family, it was hard to afford to make lasagna too often due to the cost of the ingredients. If there was one dish that I was upset about not being to have after my surgery, it was lasagna. The creaminess, the savoriness, all the yumminess. I knew this had to be remedied. So I sought out to create a lasagna that not only tasted great, but was a meal that I could eat without worry. With some creative ingenuity, I managed to do just that.

Savory Lasagna

3 Vegan Burger Patties

9 Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles

1 jar Spaghetti Sauce

1 package Vegan Mozzarella Cheese Shredded

1 container Non-Dairy Cottage Cheese

1 medium Green Bell Pepper

1 medium Carrot

1 medium Yellow Squash

1/2 a medium Onion

 

Important Notes:

  •  You can change around the veggies if you like, You can even add more as well. Make it your own.
  • While I used cottage cheese for mine, You can also use ricotta cheese. There is a whole line of products available made from almond milk that is vegan and delicious.

 

Alright now, tie up your apron, straighten your cap, and let’s get started!

1.Gather up your veggies, making sure to wash them off.

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2. Dice up the Yellow Squash, Green Bell Pepper, and Onion. Grate the carrot.

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3. Place the Vegan Burger Patties in a prepared saucepot on medium heat.

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4. Cook the vegan patties making sure to chop up the patties into small pieces.

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5. Add the veggies to the burger mix and continue to cook over medium heat.

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6. Cook the veggies and patty mix together until the veggies are tender. Add small amounts of water if needed in order to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

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7. Using a small amount of olive oil, grease a casserole dish that will fit the lasagna noodles.

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8. Spread a small amount of the pasta sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish.

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9. Place 3 of the lasagna noodles side-by-side in the bottom of the casserole dish. Make sure that the noodles do not overlap, in order to ensure that they cook properly.

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10. Spread half of the patty/veggie mix over the noodles in the pan.

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11. Spread half the container of non-dairy cottage cheese over the patty/veggie mix.

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12. Spread pasta sauce over the other layers in the pan, making sure that all parts have sauce on them.

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13. Sprinkle cheese over the layers to cover the sauce.

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14. Repeat steps 9-13.

 

15. Place last 3 noodles on top of casserole. Add sauce to cover and sprinkle with cheese to top.

16. Bake in oven at 350F for approximately 20-25 minutes. You want to cook lasagna until the cheese on top begins to melt, the sauce is bubbling, and the lasagna has cooked to at least 165F.

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16. Once the lasagna is done, you want to remove from oven and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes so that way the juices can settle before you cut it open.

17. Enjoy!

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Friendly Chicken Salad

Growing up one of my favorite sandwiches was a chicken salad sandwich on a toasted croissant. Just thinking about it brings back such wonderful memories. The sweet crunchiness of the croissant married with the smooth creaminess of the chicken salad was something this side of heaven. Now in my life, I cannot enjoy my childhood favorite like i used to. However, I was determined to find a way to enjoy chicken salad that would not only be healthy, but delicious, nutritious, and not send me to the hospital. For all the chicken salad lover out there, this one is for you!

Friendly Chicken Salad

2 pounds chicken breast

1 medium carrot

1 apple

1 stalk of celery

1/2 cup dried cranberries

3 tbsp Avocado Oil Mayo

 

Important Notes:

  • You can switch out the cranberries for raisins, currants, dates, dried plums, dried apricots or whatever other type of dried fruit you like
  • You can exchange out the apples for grapes, pears, or another fruit, just be mindful that citrus will seep out juices that can cause the salad to break down so avoid those if possible
  • You can also add sliced almonds, pecans, walnuts, or even sunflower weeds to this salad if you want to add just a slight level of saltiness to it

So now that we have all our ingredients. Let’s get started!

1.Lay out your chicken breast onto a prepared sheet pan. Season with your desired seasoning. (I just use poultry seasoning for this, but make sure no matter what seasoning you use, check ingredients as some will contain gluten and dairy)

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2. Bake chicken breasts in oven at 350F until they are completely cooked. This can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending upon the thickness of the breast and if it was completely thawed or not. (Make sure to check the internal temperature of the breasts to ensure that it reaches 165F for 15 seconds)

 

3. Set aside chicken breasts, once completely cooked, so that they can cool down.

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4.  Gather up carrot, apple, and celery. Make sure to rinse off all 3 under running water.

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5. Dice up the apple and the celery. (I like to keep the skin of the apple on, but you can peel it if you would like)

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6. Finely grate the carrot using a microplane or similar item. (If you prefer you can use larger grates, or even just finely dice carrot. I prefer the fine shreds of the carrot as a different level of texture)

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7. Once chicken breast is cooled completely, dice up the chicken into bite size pieces.  (For added variety, you can also shred the chicken to create a different consistency and texture.)

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8. Add cranberries into the mix. (At this time, you can add any nuts or additional items as well)

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9.  Add your avocado mayo and mix together.  (The total amount of mayo that you use depends upon how creamy you would like your salad to be. If you prefer drier salad, then use less. If you prefer creamier, then use more. It is totally flexible. )

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10. Enjoy!

You can enjoy you chicken salad in a variety of ways.

  • In a wrap of your choice
  • On toasted or untoasted bread
  • In a large tomato
  • By itself
  • With a stash of crackers to put it on
  • In a bed of lettuce

However you choose to enjoy your Friendly Chicken Salad, is totally up to you. Just remember to make sure it is Delicious & Nutritious!