broccoli salad close
A special thanks today goes out to Kelly for hosting the Clean Food Challenge this past week.  I did it! I went a whole week without eating gluten or dairy.  Granted I don’t eat much dairy to begin with, so that one was really easy for me.  But, gluten – not so much. I would take a good piece of freshly baked bread over just about any other food.  Maybe, just maybe, even over dark chocolate.  
I cook gluten free for my family, but usually hide away some whole grain or sourdough bread just for me.  So I was very excited to see giving up gluten wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  Granted, it was just a week.  However, I am committed to keep my home gluten free.  Sure, I may have a bagel or pastry from time-to-time.  But I really like how I feel off the stuff.
I noticed at the beginning of the week I felt really, really hungry!  So I had to make sure to plan ahead.  And towards the end of the week I noticed there was a moment when I found out some disappointing news and my first reaction was to want to go eat something, ya know, like a chocolate croissant with a frothy latte.  That’ll make me feel better.  I resisted.  I passed on the pastry (although I did still stop for a dairy-free latte).  I sat with the feelings and they soon dissipated.  That was pretty cool.  It was a good reminder to watch the next time I reach for food in an emotional state.  Maybe if I stop feeding that hunger with gluten I might discover something new about myself.  
broccoli salad
Another reason I’m so thankful for this past week is that it really got my creativity going in the kitchen.  We tried different green smoothies each morning (which has now become second nature).  I made egg salad and instead of bread we used cucumber slices. Instead of toast we had brown rice cakes with apple butter.  Other snacks included roasted pumpkin seeds, celery with almond butter, popcorn, and nut crackers with hummus.  For lunches I made corn tortilla tacos, home-made gluten free pizzas and this raw vegan broccoli salad (so good).
What I learned is that eating this way takes time and commitment.  And since I continue to work on slowing down, it’s probably a really good practice for me. 
black bean soup
It’s been far too long since I’ve shared one of my creative-in-the-kitchen recipes.  Since black beans are a staple in this vegetarian home, I’m sharing today one of my favorite soup recipes.  It was a good filling option for us this week.
Black Bean Cilantro Soup (vegan & gluten-free)
2 cups of dry black beans (soak for 8 hours)
OR 4 cans of cooked beans 
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 garlic cloves (minced)
4 cups of veggie stock 
OR 4 cups of water & 2 veggie bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cup sliced carrots
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
4-8 drops of liquid smoke (optional)
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

black bean soup 2
Cook your beans according to the package (I use a pressure cooker).  If using canned beans – drain and rinse them.  Heat up the olive oil in a large soup pan and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes.  Add the carrots, cumin, chili powder, and a little salt. Stir to mix the flavors.  Then add the beans and broth OR water with bouillon cubes.  (If you are wanting this to be fully gluten-free, make sure to get a gluten free broth or bouillon.)  Cook on medium and then turn down to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Just before eating, stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.  This meal goes great with a salad or gluten-free cornbread.  You can also top it with green onion slices or vegan cheese.

black bean brownies
Would you believe that these brownies are made with black beans?  I’ve wanted to try these for a while now as I’m a huge fan of sneaking in healthy food wherever possible. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  They are really good and you can’t taste the beans at all.  I used this Whole Foods gluten-free flourless brownies recipe.
black bean brownies close up
And a big thank you to all those wonderful chefs (like Gluten Free Goddess and Elana’s Pantry) for making up new, delicious vegan and gluten-free options that make eating healthy and working through food allergies much easier and delicious!
Your Personal Reflection:  Who in your life has been a positive influence on your health and wellness path?  Take a moment and share your thanks with them today.
And speaking of food…
Cupcakes of Happiness
The lovely, talented and super authentic Susannah Conway, is giving away this print, Cupcakes of Happiness, to one lucky reader.  This Polaroid is featured in her Polaroid book coming out in May.  It may not be gluten-free, but we can dream… 
For your chance to win – simply leave a comment on this post.  Tell us what you are thankful for in this moment.  I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday!