Make Your Next Tabouli Gluten-Free

Quinoa TabouliMy daughter has recently begun a gluten-free diet and has gotten me interested in how to take much of the gluten and GMOs out of my diet as well. Tabouli, or as some people say Tabbouleh, has always been a favorite lunch for me and I hated to have to give it up because it was made of bulgur wheat but… TADA! Quinoa to the rescue! And it tastes just as good as the original!

Quinoa Tabouli


  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2-1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 -1 medium green/red or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh onion, chopped
  • 2-1/4 oz black olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Dash cayenne


Place water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir. Mix in tomato, parsley, pepper, cucumber, onion and olives. Stir together lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss well. Cover & place in refrigerator. Let stand at minimum 1 hour or better overnight. Serve chilled.

Serves 8.

Linda's Signature

Go Gluten-Free with Almond Flour Waffles

Almond Flour Waffles with blueberriesChristina, the other cookin’ mama, is going to start a gluten-free diet come August and has done quite a bit of research on the best foods to eat and where to purchase them. It is amazing how much is done to the foods we buy everyday without our even being aware of it. Did you know that much of the gluten-free foods on the shelves in your local grocery store contain highly processed and starchy ingredients like potato starch, corn and soy ingredients, rice flours, and refined sugars! This recipe is both a gluten-free and paleo recipe for waffles that is much more tasty than the mixes or even homemade wheat or regular flour varieties. It was a surprise to my husband just how much better they tasted.

My tip today has to be that less processed foods without all the carbs of wheat and white flour are so much better for you and not a hard change to make at all!

Almond Flour Waffles


  • 1/2 cup almond flour or almond meal (meal is just a little grainier so I prefer the flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, depending on your taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Non-stick spray or coconut oil


Mix all dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs, honey and vanilla extract and add to the dry mixture, stirring well.

Heat waffle maker and spray with non-stick spray. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot iron. Cook until browned then top with real maple syrup or yogurt with fruit.

Serves 2.

Linda's Signature

Tip Tuesday – Stretching Your Wine Dollars

Mango Basil Wine CocktailIf you are having a large party and are on a tight budget you might want to try serving wine cocktails, or as some people know them by – sangria, instead of straight up wine. It makes the wine stretch further and you can usually get away with a cheaper wine since it is mixed with other ingredients. No one will know that you did it to cut costs because they taste oh so good and are very refreshing on warm summer nights.

Mango-Basil Wine Cocktail


Basil Simple Syrup

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup basil leaves

Cocktail Mix

  • 1 bottle inexpensive Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
  • 2-1/2 cups mango nectar (peach nectar can also be used)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Garnish: basil leaves, mango or peach slice


To make simple syrup, combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, crushing basil leaves against side of pan to bring out flavor, then simmer just until sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

When ready to serve, mix wine, mango or peach nectar, lemon juice and simple syrup in a large pitcher. Pour into glasses filled with ice. Garnish with basil leaf and slice of mango, peach or lemon. You can also make the cocktail more colorful by placing pieces of fruit such as mango, peaches, lemons, raspberries or strawberries right in the pitcher.

Serves 6.

Note: You can also try pureed strawberries in place of mango or peach nectar as they go great with the taste of basil.

Linda's Signature

Tip Tuesday – Healthier Banana Strawberry Muffins

Banana Strawberry MuffinsThere are several ways you can make your home-baked goods more healthy and still make those favorite family recipes taste delicious. Here is just one example of substituting ingredients in one of my favorite recipes – Banana Strawberry muffins.

Banana Strawberry Muffins


  • 3 bananas
  • 2/3 cup raw brown sugar (was 2/3 cup white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (was 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (was 1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with a nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash bananas then mix in brown sugar, unsweetened applesauce, eggs and vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Add to mashed banana mixture and stir to combine.

Stir in strawberries until incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.

Place pan on wire rack and let muffins rest for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Benefits of substitutions:

Raw brown sugar vs white sugar: Since raw brown sugar goes through less refining than white sugar it has slightly fewer calories contains more natural minerals and an overall higher nutritional value.

Unsweetened applesauce vs vegetable oil: Using unsweetened applesauce in place of vegetable oil reduces the fat content of the muffins while still helping to retain their moistness. 1/2 cup of vegetable oil has 1920 calories, all from fat, while 1/2 cup of the applesauce has 50 calories with zero from fat.

100% whole wheat flour vs white all-purpose flour: Whole wheat flour retains more of the natural nutritional grains since it requires less processing than your everyday bleached white flour. These natural grains contain more folate, riboflavin and vitamins B1, B3 & B5 than all-purpose flour. Additionally, whole wheat flour contains more dietary fiber, 1/2 cup has 6.4 grams vs 1.3 grams, which is known to help prevent constipation and lower cholesterol.

Note that some enriched all-purpose flours contain similar amounts of the same nutrients contained in whole wheat flours but without the additional fiber.

Linda's Signature

Top Super Foods!

Super Foods

, foods naturally found in nature, are a special category of foods found to be beneficial in achieving good health. They are usually low-calorie and rich in nutrients and pack a lot of punch in relation to their weight. You will also find that they are some of the best sources of anti-oxidants and essential nutrients. Discover 5 of these super foods with recipe suggestions below.

Sweet PotatoSweet Potatoes are one of the best vegetables you can eat. They are full of carotenoids, a plant pigment that the body can turn into Vitamin A, and are a great source of antioxidants that may help prevent certain cancers and heart disease as well as strengthen your immune system. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Try this recipe that hits a sweet spot –


Just 1 cup of Mangoes can supply 100% of your daily requirements for Vitamin C and 33% of your requirement for Vitamin A. It also has potassium, known for helping lower blood pressure and 3 grams of fiber. Here’s an easy smoothie recipe that is sure to please on a hot summer day –

broccoli Everybody knows that Broccoli is great for you but do you know why? It has tons of Vitamin C, carotendoids, Vitamin K, which provides an essential nutrient needed to promote blood clotting, and folic acid, which helps the body make healthy new cells. Vitamin K for pregnant women is really important in that it can prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain or spine. Here’s a simple & quick broccoli recipe that you can throw on the grill with your meal –


Summer will be here soon and watermelons will be seen at almost every picnic. Feel good about snitching a piece because it has plenty of beneficial nutrients for your body. About 2 cups provides your body with 33% of your daily requirements for Vitamins A & C as well as some potassium and lycopene. Lycopene may decrease the risk of heart disease as well as lowering levels of LDL or bad” cholesterol. Just eat it like nature intended!


You probably don’t think of Butternut Squash very often but it is chock full of Vitamins A & C as well as providing lots of fiber. Check out this recipe for your next meal –

For further information on superfoods check out the article on foodmatters –

Linda's Signature

Tip Tuesday – Substitutions

measuring spoonsI don’t know about you but when I decide I want to bake something I want to dive right in and start cooking. That’s when I find out that I don’t have everything I need to make the recipe. Bummer!

Here is where substitutes come to my rescue. Usually there is something in the kitchen I can use in place of the standard ingredient that will enable me to complete the recipe. Yay!

I have listed just a few of my favorite ones below (with more to come) but there are many more that can be found with a little internet searching so don’t give up in the kitchen when you don’t have every ingredient listed in your recipe – just experiment and have some fun!



1 cup Butter = 1 cup vegetable shortening or ¾ cup vegetable oil. Reduce fats in recipe by substituting ½ the butter with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce.

These next two substitutions need a little adjustment to the recipes but are great for baking such as cakes or muffins:  1 cup mashed avocado (reduce  oven temperature by 25% & increase cook time by 5-10 minutes) or banana (reduce cooking time by 25%)

Egg yolks = 1 whole egg

Whole-wheat flour

Flours – to make a recipe where you want more fiber, substitute half of the white flour for whole wheat flour or, for cutting calories when baking cakes or muffins, try using 1 cup of black bean puree for 1 cup flour

1 cup Flour, Cake = 2 Tablespoon cornstarch then fill measuring cup with all purpose flour to 1 cup line

1 cup Flour, self-rising (I am always using this one!) = 1 cup all purpose flour mixed + 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Flour, whole wheat = 7/8 cup white flour + 2 Tablespoons wheat germ or 1 cup graham flour

1 cup Oil = 1 cup mashed banana, 1 cup Greek yogurt or even 1 cup grated zucchini for baking cakes, muffins, cookies or breads. Substituting this ingredient is a great way to reduce fat!


1 cup Sugar = 1 cup packed brown sugar or 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce + ½ cup of the sugar and reduce liquids in recipe by about 1/6 cup. To reduce a recipe’s calorie count by as much as 400, cut sugar by half and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Linda's Signature