Throw a Gluten-Free Game-Day Party

Game-day party planning is no easy task — especially for starving football fans. Add gluten intolerance to the mix and you may just feel like throwing in the towel. But, really, there’s no need to stress. You’re just minutes away from party prowess with these good-for-you game-day snacks.

French Onion Dip Stuffed Mushrooms (pictured at top)
Yield: 10 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion (about 2 cups), cut into thin rounds, then quartered
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream or nonfat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free reduced-sodium soy sauce
10 large white mushrooms (about 1 pound total), stems removed
1/2 cup crushed unsweetened rice cereal

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion slices, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until golden, about 10 minutes more.

Using a blender, puree together 1/4 cup of the caramelized onions, the sour cream, the soy sauce and, if necessary, 1 tablespoon water for a dip consistency. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the caramelized onions; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, bake the mushroom caps, stem-sides down, for 10 minutes. Flip the mushroom caps over, draining any liquid, and mound the dip into each one. Sprinkle evenly with the cereal crumbs and bake until the mushrooms are tender and the tops are golden, about 20 minutes. To serve, top with caramelized onions.

Per serving: Calories 37; Fat 2 g (Saturated 0.7 g); Cholesterol 2 mg; Sodium 37 mg; Carbohydrate 4 g; Fiber 0.7 g; Sugars 0.6 g; Protein 1.5 g

Chicken Parm Wings
Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds chicken wings, joints separated and tips discarded
Salt
1 cup crushed unsweetened rice cereal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup store-bought gluten-free tomato sauce, for topping
2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella, for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the chicken wings with salt.

In a small bowl, stir together the cereal crumbs and Parmesan. Coat the chicken in the cereal mixture, dip into the eggs, then coat again with the cereal mixture; place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Top with a spoonful of tomato sauce, some mozzarella and Parmesan; broil until the cheese is melted and golden.

Per serving: Calories 300; Fat 20 g (Saturated 6.4 g); Cholesterol 178 mg; Sodium 374 mg; Carbohydrate 5 g; Sugars 0.6 g; Protein 25 g

Honey-Roasted Peanut and Pretzel Caramel Corn Crunch
Yield: 8 servings

1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
5 cups unsalted popped popcorn
1 cup gluten-free mini pretzels
Salt, for sprinkling

In a small saucepan, cook the sugar, honey, brown rice syrup and peanuts over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 290 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the popcorn and pretzels to a large heatproof bowl and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn and pretzels, and quickly stir to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading out the caramel corn. Sprinkle with salt and let cool completely.

Per serving: Calories 222; Fat 14 g (Saturated 2 g); Sodium 84 mg; Carbohydrate 31 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 20 g; Protein 5 g

Silvana Nardone is the author of Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.

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Stovetop White Cheddar Mac

I grew up on macaroni and cheese. In my Italian family, my mom showed her love through pasta, homemade sauce and plenty of cheese. She knew that comfort was achieved through chewy pasta and a creamy cheese sauce, whether you had a tough day at school or a sore throat. So it’s no surprise that I’ve followed a similar comfort food path as an adult. Long days, arguments and dreary weather are all solved with bowls of piping-hot, luscious macaroni. It’s “I love you” without having to utter a single word.

While I love the familiar taste of homemade mac and cheese, I wanted to create a version I could serve frequently to my family, without any guilt. While this recipe isn’t completely virtuous, it’s much better than any traditional version, as it contains two servings of vegetables in every bowl. The base is a silky cauliflower cream sauce that provides body and texture — without a drop of flour or cream. Pureed, heated, then mixed with a generous handful of grated sharp cheddar, it’s the perfect compromise to a heavy cream sauce. If you’ve had cauliflower rice or cauliflower mashed potatoes, you know how versatile the vegetable can be. While there is a faint hint of cauliflower in the sauce, this recipe takes full advantage of cauliflower’s bland flavor. I’ve made this recipe for just about everyone, and everyone says the sauce tastes similar to one made from cream and butter. To up the vegetable content, I add in fresh spinach leaves just before the pasta is done cooking. You can use any vegetable your family enjoys; try kale, peas or chopped broccoli!

Whatever the reason, whatever the occasion, a bowl of this mac and cheese will always spell comfort.

Stovetop White Cheddar Mac
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups cauliflower florets
3 cups water
8 ounces (1/2 pound) mini shells, mini penne, wheels or other small pasta shape
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring the cauliflower and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and steam for 10 to 15 minutes until cauliflower is very soft. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

While the cauliflower is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente according to package directions. Just before pasta is set to be done, add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the empty pot in which you cooked the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until garlic is soft but not burnt, about 2 minutes.

Add the cooked garlic, steamed cauliflower, salt and pepper, milk, and 1/2 cup water to a high-powered blender, then puree until creamy and smooth. Depending on the power of your blender, you may need to add more water.

Return the cauliflower sauce back to the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the cooked noodles, spinach and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Per serving: Calories 287; Fat 6 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 14 mg; Sodium 410 mg; Carbohydrate 47 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 12 g

Note: If you prefer your macaroni baked, add 1/4 cup more milk to the cauliflower mixture. Place the pasta and sauce in a casserole dish. Top with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese, then bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”

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Slow-Cooker Sorghum Bowls for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Move over, quinoa. There’s a “hot” new whole grain in town — sorghum! And, with its nutty taste and slightly chewy texture, antioxidant-rich sorghum has quickly become one of my favorite healthy and nourishing gluten-free grains to experiment with in the kitchen.

Because sorghum takes longer to cook (approximately 50 minutes on the stovetop) than, say, quinoa, rice or millet, an easy “make it once, eat it thrice” alternative to cooking it on the stove is to make a big batch of it in your slow cooker, and then save it for these three easy sorghum bowls, plus more dishes!

The Basics: Easy Slow-Cooker Sorghum

To make: Rinse 1 cup* of whole-grain sorghum in running water, then place in your slow cooker, along with 3 cups* of water. Cover, and cook on high for 4 hours, or until all the liquid is gone. Cool and store cooked sorghum in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

*Note: 1 cup of uncooked sorghum makes 4 cups cooked, and more than enough for 1 serving each of the three recipes below. If you are cooking all the meals below for two people, you will need 4 1/2 cups cooked sorghum; for four people, you will need 9 cups, so prepare the basic slow-cooker sorghum recipe accordingly. Any extras will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, and in the freezer for even longer.

Meal #1 (Dinner): Sorghum Pilaf (pictured above)
Yield: 2 servings

Technically a side dish, as opposed to a “bowl,” this simple sorghum pilaf with sauteed onions and pine nuts pairs deliciously with roast chicken, grilled salmon or seared tofu, along with steamed veggies, for an easy weeknight dinner. As a bonus, you can use the leftovers for tomorrow’s Greek Sorghum Bowl at lunch!

To make: Heat 1 1/2 cups of cooked sorghum in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes. While sorghum is warming in the microwave, heat a skillet on medium high, and finely chop 1/2 of a sweet onion. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to the warm skillet along with chopped onions, and saute for 1 minute, then add warmed sorghum, 1/4 cup pine nuts and salt to taste. Stir until well combined. Reserve 1/2 of the sorghum pilaf for lunch the next day, and enjoy the remaining pilaf as a side dish for dinner.

Per serving: Calories 300; Fat 18 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 199 mg; Carbohydrate 37 g; Fiber 4 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 7 g

Meal #2 (Breakfast): Spiced Apple Yogurt Sorghum Bowl
Yield: 1 serving

This delicious combination of sorghum, Greek yogurt and cinnamon-ginger sauteed apple slices is a nourishing and comforting breakfast for a cold winter’s morning!

To make: Heat 3/4 cup of plain cooked sorghum (not the sorghum pilaf) in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 1/2 minutes. While sorghum is warming, heat a skillet on medium high heat, and cut one apple (with skin) into thin slices. Add 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil to the skillet along with apple slices and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger and a pinch of salt over apples. Stir well, and saute for another 2 minutes. Remove from stove and set aside, then top cooked sorghum with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and cinnamon-ginger apple slices. Enjoy while warm.

Per serving: Calories 348; Fat 9 g (Saturated 6 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 429 mg; Carbohydrate 56 g; Fiber 5 g; Sugars 22 g; Protein 16 g

Meal #3 (Lunch): Greek Sorghum Bowl
Yield: 1 serving

Yesterday’s sorghum pilaf makes a delicious “canvas” for today’s hearty and filling Greek Sorghum Bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives.

To make: Warm the remaining Sorghum Pilaf in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. While sorghum is warming, slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half, and chop cucumbers into small cubes. You should have about 1/2 cup of each. Next, slice 10 Kalamata olives in half, and crumble 1 ounce of feta cheese (about 1/4 cup). Place chopped tomatoes and cucumbers on top of warm sorghum pilaf, then sprinkle feta cheese and Kalamata olives on top before serving.

Per serving: Calories 478; Fat 31 g (Saturated 7 g); Cholesterol 33 mg; Sodium 659 mg; Carbohydrate 43 g; Fiber 5 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 14 g

EA Stewart, MBA, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in wellness and GI nutrition. In addition, EA is the creator of The Spicy RD, which features delicious gluten-free recipes made from healthy, seasonal ingredients.

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Nutrition News: “Healthy” Trumps “Diet,” Eating Snow Deemed Safe, Healthy Fats Could Save Lives

Diets Are Out, but Healthy Is In

Have you given up dieting? Consider yourself on-trend. Brand-name diets like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine are falling out of fashion, NPR’s The Salt reported. Healthy eating is in. In a recent survey by the market research firm Mintel, 94 percent of respondents said they’ve ceased to see themselves as “dieters” and doubt the healthfulness of brand-name diets. “Consumers are not dieting in the traditional sense anymore — being on programs or buying foods specific to programs,” Mintel analyst Marissa Gilbert told The Salt. Those who are trying to lose weight are increasingly taking what market research firm Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy described as “a more holistic, more health and wellness approach.”

Snow Good? So Good

Winter question: How safe is eating snow? The Salt asked a bunch of experts and concluded that, overall, it’s pretty safe — but with a few caveats. It may contain some air pollutants, so you should wait for snow that falls toward the end of a storm, as it is likely to be cleaner. Avoid collecting snow from areas where there may be a lot of pesticides, or where blowing dirt may have mixed with the snow; avoid snow that’s been plowed. And of course the old advice about not eating yellow snow (or snow from, say, a freshly manure-fertilized field) stands. But in general, University of Arkansas chemistry professor Jeff S. Gaffney told The Salt, contaminants found in fresh, clean snow are generally “at levels well below toxic.” Phew.

Fat Could Save Lives

The case for a “fat-free” diet continues to crumble. Now a new study suggests that if we were to eat more healthy fats — like polyunsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke — while eliminating those that are unhealthy, such as saturated and trans fats, tens of thousands of lives could be saved. “Our findings highlight the importance of ending America’s fear of all fat,” the study’s lead author, Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told HealthDay. “We estimate that nearly 50,000 Americans die of heart disease each year due to low intake of vegetable oils.”

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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5 Reasons to Put Down That Box of Mac and Cheese — Comfort Food Feast

No one should be expected to forgo mac and cheese in the dead of winter. This, the creamiest of all comfort foods, is our only solace when an apocalyptic blizzard is headed our way. Without a doubt, box mixes are convenient — but those cheesy orange powders and squeezable pouches of “Cheddar” contain hidden preservatives and not-so-hidden synthetic dyes that our bodies could do without. Steer clear of undesirable (and unpronounceable) ingredients while still getting your coze on with these wholesome homemade macs from Food Network.

Spinach and Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese (pictured at top)
This lightened-up but still creamy version of macaroni and cheese is full of protein — an impressive 29 grams per serving, to be exact — quite an accomplishment for a vegetarian meal. The whole-wheat pasta, spinach and artichoke hearts add their vitamin, mineral and fiber superpowers.

Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese
It seems sometimes there are only two choices with macaroni and cheese: Make it from scratch with a roux and slow-simmered cheese sauce, or tear open a box and make it in minutes. It turns out you don’t have to choose between quality and convenience. This quick method uses goat cheese, aged white Cheddar and gluten-free pasta. Throw in some dark lacinato kale and you have a complete meal in about 25 minutes.

Macaroni and Four Cheeses
The secret to this casserole is pureed winter squash for its nutrients, bright orange color and velvety flavor that complements the four cheeses.

Lighened-Up Mac and Cheese
This macaroni is every bit as creamy and cheesy as the traditional version, but with fewer calories thanks to lowfat cheeses and skim milk.

Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese
This low-fat, dairy-free version of an American classic certainly has the right look, with its creamy orange sauce, thanks to pureed cauliflower, vegan Cheddar and turmeric. Food Network Kitchen recommends using umami-packed miso paste and nutritional yeast to evoke the savory, nutty quality of cheese.

For more mac and cheese, check out these recipes from our friends:

Feed Me Phoebe: White Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese Casserole
Creative Culinary: Green Chile Mac and Cheese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Bang Bang Cauliflower Mac ’n Cheese
The Mom 100: Creamy Four Cheese Penne Rigate
Taste with the Eyes: Mac and Cheese, Ham, Carrot, Celery, Onion {gluten-free}
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Cacio e Pepe
Napa Farmhouse 1885: One Skillet Mac & Cheese
Red or Green: Three Perfect Mac & Cheese Recipes For Winter
From My Corner of Saratoga: Buffalo Mac n Cheese Recipe
FN Dish: Here’s How to Eat Mac and Cheese for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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Perfect Gut Health: Is There Such a Thing?

There’s much talk of gut health swirling in the media, but it can be tricky to make sense of it all. As it turns out, your intestines do hold the key to the health of your entire body. If you’re a victim of tummy troubles, here are some tips to help you go with your gut.

The Microbiome
It’s quickly becoming a nutrition buzzword, but what the heck is the microbiome? Basically, it’s any environment where microorganisms live and interact with their surroundings. In simple terms for the gut, it’s the environment within your digestive tract. Keeping your intestines heavily populated with healthy bacteria not only promotes digestive health, but also boosts immunity and protects the entire body. Regularly consuming healthy bacteria in the form of probiotics helps to maintain a triumphant gut microbiome.

Tummy Pleasers
Probiotics are found in cultured and fermented foods. Yogurt is arguably the most-mainstream choice, but there are some other tasty options.

Kombucha: Certainly an acquired taste, this fermented tea has become wildly popular and is now available in a wide variety of flavors.

Kefir: Similar to yogurt, with a more drinkable consistency, kefir is a wonderful addition to smoothies, oatmeal, dips and baked goods.

Kimchi: This spicy Korean condiment will help your digestive health, as well as clear out your sinuses!

Pickles and Sauerkraut: No, they aren’t just to quell the cravings of pregnant women. Many jarred and canned products you find on store shelves have undergone processing that destroys the probiotics, so check labels on your favorite brands or try Farmhouse Culture.

Probiotic-Infused Foods: You can now find more and more foods being fortified with probiotics, including infant cereal and protein bars. Attune Chocolate Bars (yes, chocolate!) are infused with a plentiful amount of probiotics and are available in milk and dark chocolate and various other delicious flavors, including coconut and mint.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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7 Ingredients Making You Gain Weight

Sometimes ingredients you think are super-healthy can cause your dish to become unhealthy. If you love cooking, you’ll definitely want to read through this list.

Coconut

Both coconut milk and oil can turn a dish into a calorie bomb. One cup of canned coconut milk contains a whopping 445 calories and 48 grams of fat, which is 74 percent of your daily recommended amount of total fat. Add a few cups to your soup and you jack up the calories and fat. So what about coconut oil? According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, coconut oil is categorized as a solid fat with high amounts of saturated fat and should be eaten sparingly.

When using: Choose light coconut milk, and use coconut oil in very small amounts.

Nuts

Banana bread tastes so much better with walnuts, and who doesn’t like a nice mixture of nuts in trail mix? Think I’m nuts? Check out the calories. One ounce (or 14 halves) of walnuts contains 185 calories and 18 grams of fat. Add several ounces of crushed walnuts to your brownie batter — or grab a few handfuls to munch on — and you’re talking several hundred calories.

When using: Keep servings to 1/4 cup or less, depending on the recipe.

Dark Chocolate Chips

To make dishes healthier, many folks swap milk chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips. A heavy hand even of dark chocolate chips, however, can sabotage muffins, pancakes, waffles, and any other delicious treat, breakfast or snack you make with them.

When using: Use about 1/4 cup per batch for baking. If you want to up the chocolate, add unsweetened cocoa powder in addition to a small amount of dark chocolate chips.

Honey

This natural sugar contains a small amount of minerals, which makes it a better choice than other artificial sweeteners. Added sugar, however, is added sugar. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 10 percent of calories come from added sugar, which is 200 calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories and 74 grams of sugar. It doesn’t take more than several tablespoons of honey to reach that added-sugar maximum.

When using: Opt for 1 to 2 teaspoons per serving.

Granola

Traditional granola includes oats, oil, a sweetener, and flakes or crisps. Add-ins like dried fruit, coconut and nuts are now becoming more popular. On average, 1/4 cup of granola without nuts contains 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 17 grams of carbohydrates. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of granola over your oatmeal or Greek yogurt and you can be downing 200 to 300 calories from only granola.

When using: Get a delicious crunch by using 2 to 4 tablespoons per serving. If you need more volume, supplement with whole-grain cereal, which tends to have fewer calories per serving.

Half-and-Half

Add 1/4 cup of half-and-half to your morning cup of joe for an extra 79 calories and 7 grams of fat. That may not seem like a lot, but if you like a few cups of coffee throughout the day, the few extra calories start to become hundreds in one day. Now think about how many hundreds (or even thousands) of extra calories that is during one entire week.

When using: Add low-fat or nonfat milk to coffee throughout the day. Save the half-and-half for that all-important morning cup.

Vinaigrette

A bed of greens topped with vegetables is super-healthy — you can’t argue with that. Toss it in 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette, though, and you add an additional 800 calories and 80 grams of fat! Even if the salad is made for four people, that’s still substantial: Each serving contains an additional 200 calories and 20 grams of fat.

When using: Vinaigrettes are made from healthy oils, but pour on a maximum of 2 tablespoons per person.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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