A Food-Free Halloween Treat Guide {Teal Pumpkin Project}

A couple of weeks ago, Ashton Kutcher tweeted this:


And my heart skipped a beat. Why? Because people are starting to catch on to the Teal Pumpkin Project.

As a mom to a small child with profound food allergies, I get a little terrified around the holidays.  Halloween is the beginning of a challenging food season for our family.  Seasonal treats are everywhere, and impossible to ignore.  As a healthy adult who tries to avoid sugar and can’t tolerate wheat, I find it hard to abstain. It’s an issue of willpower for me. But for my son? It’s a matter of life and death, or at minimum, a trip to the ER. All that separates him from a potential terrible reaction is our vigilance and the respect of strangers.

I would like to say my son is part of a small group of children, but he’s not.  Food allergies in children have increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and now 1 in 13 children has some form of diagnosed food allergy here in the U.S.  Those numbers are only rising.

Peanut allergies get a lion’s share of the food allergy talk, as it should.  Some people are so sensitive to peanuts that even a trace of peanut dust can kill them.  Unfortunately, peanuts are not the only food that cause deathly reactions from trace amounts.  Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, oats, cinnamon, bananas, peppermint, and many others are just a few that have serious consequences for those who are allergic.

Because we want to keep our kids safe, but also include them, we are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project this year. Here’s how you can join us:

  • Paint a pumpkin teal, and put it on your doorstep with your other pumpkins. Kids with food allergies know they can come to your house and get a safe treat, and THEY WILL!
  • Offer trick-or-treaters a choice of candy or non-food treats. Kids with food allergies are often singled out for something they can’t control, and feel excluded and embarrassed because of their allergies.  Giving all the kids a choice makes it easier for them to be safe during Halloween festivities without shame.

I know some of you amazing, non-allergy friends want to participate but might not know what give out instead of candy.  This is a new-ish thing, so I’m putting together a handy little guide to help you navigate your Teal Pumpkin Halloween.


Please feel free to grab this image and share it!  Keep it handy and ask questions here or over at FARE. They’re the geniuses behind #tealpumpkinproject and we are so happy to support this awesome movement.

Also, don’t worry about getting the color exactly right or painting it pretty. The message is the most important part! Thank you for keeping our kids safe this season

Funny Tricks and Food-Free Treats,

Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I'm much better at cooking the food than painting it.
Our janky teal pumpkin. As it turns out, I’m much better at cooking the food than painting it.


Roasted Delicata Squash with Fennel


Fall is my absolute favorite. Why?

Because FOOD.

Who else wants to eat ALL THE THINGS? Well, so do I, friend.  So do I.

A few years ago, we discovered this gem of a gourd. It’s name is Delicata and it lives up to all the whimsy and subtlety that the name would suggest. It’s light, slightly sweet, and so crazy delicious that YOU WILL WANT TO EAT ALL OF IT IMMEDIATELY.

I’ve tried it a few different ways, and the easiest and tastiest way to prep it is in the oven.  A simple roast with coconut oil and pink salt elevates the squash to another level.  It’s a level you want to be at, trust me. It’s also simple and quick to prepare and the squash doesnt’ require peeling, unlike some other squash cousins.  Yep, I’m looking at you, Butternut.  You’re too much work! But delicata takes all the work out of it.

This super simple dish is great as a side, but honestly, I eat it on it’s own all the time. Because it takes no work to prepare, it’s comforting, and very filling.



  • 2 delicata squash, de-seeded and sliced (no need to peel!)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pink himalayn salt
  • 2 tsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel fronds (the soft, feathery green things that sprout out of the the fennel bulb)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more for spicy)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, place fennel, delicata squash, and rosemary.
  2. Add coconut oil, and stir quickly.  Add salt and red pepper flakes and mix again.
  3. Spread squash and fennel out on a large baking sheet, and try to get as many pieces to lay as flat as possible.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Remove from oven and garnish with a little more salt and fresh fennel fronds,
  6. Eat immediately and enjoy! Or save for later and mix up a salad with some quinoa, spinach, and dried cranberries.

Enjoy the season!


Creamy Polenta Ragu {Vegan and Gluten-Free}

Polenta RaguI have these neighbors. We will call them Wilfredo and Valentina, because those are their actual names. Cool, right? Well, they ARE cool and totally live up to those epic names. They moved in downstairs about eight months ago from New Jersey and we have become close friends. So close, in fact, that my two year old son, E, feels totally comfortable opening their front door and walking right in to say hello at any hour of the day.  (Yeah, we’re working on the whole concept of knocking.)

Wilfredo and Valentina are both avid athletes. It’s not uncommon to see them sprinting up and down the steep hill in front of our building, or doing interval training in the parking lot at dawn. And rain or shine, Wilfredo is running his heart out, getting ready to run UltraMarathon races,  and Valentina is probably completing a 50 mile bike ride as part of her triathlon training before heading off to work.  They have a serious love for activity, the outdoors, and competition.

They’re also VEGAN.

Now, we eat many animal products in our house. We eat plenty of veggies and fruits, too. But we are decidedly not vegan.

Our tribe here has expanded to enfold Wilfredo and Valentina into our hearts. We want to fully integrate them into our little community and become a safe place for these New Jersey transplants.

But here’s the thing: I love them. I love them BIG. They love my kid fiercely and he loves them fiercely right back. My love language is food. So, in order to share our table with them, I’ve been experimenting with dishes outside of my normal food repertoire.

But here’s another thing: Every single person in our tribe has special food things. E takes the (gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, carrot-free) cake because of his FPIES, but he certainly is not the only one who needs special food. But nobody has excluded animal products entirely from their diets.

Until now.

So, when the tribe decided to do a vegan brunch a few weeks ago, I accepted this challenge with great excitement.  Because even though you will never see me sprinting up and down the hill for funsies, I do love a good challenge.  And if the challenge translates to a little food love, then even better.

Everyone can technically eat corn, including E. I typically try to avoid it, but it doesn’t make me feel like wheat does. I also wanted to do a homestyle dish that was still healthy and everyone could enjoy.  I began to dream about casseroles, baked dishes, and rich, flavorful sauces.

Creamy, hot polenta dishes started filling my mind. It’s easy to veganize polenta. So, I scoured the internet looking for recipe ideas. I hit a wall when I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for and started getting frustrated.

Then I remembered that I can cook. DUH.

I started extracting favorite elements from dishes that looked great. Easy enough. Then I got to work.

I discovered that making the polenta first and baking it for a bit gave it the perfect texture. Scoring it, and then topping it with a simple tomato and veggie mixture and putting it in the oven to bake longer made mouth magic.

I brought my finished polenta dish before our tribe. I know I can count on them to give me their honest feedback. They tasted. They went back for seconds. They lamented when it was over, especially Wilfredo and Valentina. Luckily, I made an extra dish of it just for them, and walked it downstairs after brunch was done. They were stoked.

This dish is the classic, simple-food-done-right, love-in-a-Pyrex pan taste of comfort every person needs in their life. Probably right now.

You can make your own variations by using what you have on hand. THIS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE VEGAN. But then again, you can’t share it with your awesome vegan neighbors if it’s not. So, prepare wisely.

Ingredients for Polenta:

  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • 4 cups unsweetened, unflavored hemp milk (or regular milk)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup Nutiva Shortening, or butter
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt

Ingredients for Ragu:

  • 1 jar crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch spinach or chard, chopped
  • 1-2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 leaves fresh basil, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 4 leaves fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, or 1 Tbsp dried
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Directions for Polenta:

  1. Cook polenta according to instructions on package, subbing water for milk. Add additional water to thin it out. It should be a smooth, creamy texture, and easy to stir.
  2. Pour polenta into a large, greased casserole dish. Bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven, and score with a sharp knife into 1-2 inch squares, but do not remove from the dish.

Instructions for Ragu:

(Note: This is great to start while the polenta bakes in the oven.)

  1. Saute onion and garlic in oil, then add herbs, tomatoes, zucchini and sauce. Bring to a low boil.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in spinach or chard.
  3. Pour over polenta, and bake for 30 additional minutes, or until mixture is bubbling.
  4. Serve and eat immediately, or store for leftovers.

This freezes okay, but stays good in the refrigerator for a week. But the thing is, I don’t think it will last that long. This is comfort food at it’s very best.

Hug a vegan,

Are you interested in learning more about vegan eating and running?  Visit Wilfredo’s blog over at Eat, Run and Done.



Aioli Grilled Asparagus {Dairy Free}


Summer is almost over in the Pacific Northwest.  The uncharacteristically hot weather has been replaced with overcast skies, cooler temperatures and a sprinkling of rain.  Summer lovers are eeking out every ray of sunshine and late-afternoon warmth in preparation for a rainy autumn and winter ahead.

As for me, I’m eeking out every opportunity to utilize the grill before we are driven indoors.  I like the rain.  I like the cooler temps and deep greens and blues of the rainy season.  But I miss my grill.

I attempted many new recipes this summer, with many new ingredients.  Because cooking with fire is FUN.  Asparagus has been a favorite go-to for a summer veggie, and my new favorite asparagus recipe is simple, impressive, unusual and freaking tasty. All it takes is a bunch of asparagus, a little mayo and dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, cracked pepper, and you guessed it, a hot grill.

Don’t let a fancy words like “asparagus” and “aioli” fool you.  Asparagus is full of important vitamins that naturally boost energy and immunity. And as for aioli? It’s just mayonnaise with something added to alter the flavor profile.  For this recipe, I used mayonnaise in place of oil and it turned out superbly. It adds a complex flavor and richness that oil misses.  I am sure this will work in the oven, as well.  But, you know. Summer.


  • 1 lb of asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt


  1. Combine all ingredients, except asparagus, in a small mixing bow. Call this “aioli”.
  2. Coat asparagus in aioli mixture.
  3. Place asparagus on hot grill and cook until asparagus is slightly tender, and the outer skin crisps up a bit.
  4. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and serve immediately.

If asparagus is your dish, you will fall in love with it and impress your friends and family at your Labor Day gathering this weekend.  Or at the very least, give them stinky pee.

I hope your Labor Day is filled with love,

Garden Vegetable Frittata

FrittataQuarterViewI need to intentionally out myself here.

I am burned out with cooking. And a large part of my mission in life is cooking. Changing the conversation around food, around bodies, around babies and single people and periods and sex and family and allergies and wholeness and therapy and kombucha and…ALL OF IT.

I just have one small problem.

I want to flame my tiny pink kitchen down to the ground. Ignight it. Light it up and watch it burn down in a blaze of glory, a la Bon Jovi. (I will gladly let you film this spectacle as I stand in the middle of the flames wearing nothing but my mom jeans and an old leather vest that belonged to my grandma in the 1990s with my son’s pink ukulele strapped to my back in exchange for a lifetime of free Chipotle.)

Then I want to walk away, and never look back. 

This isn’t about food. This isn’t about my outdated micro kitchen. This isn’t even about my mission.

This is about self-care.

Last week, I started doing the thing where I eat trail mix for breakfast with a cup of coffee. Then I eat the same thing for lunch. I might grab a handful of cherry tomatoes or eat some cucumber slices off my son’s plate during lunch and start congratulating myself for making vegetables a “priority”. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m ravenous, have a terrible case of the bitchies and lose my words, so I groan and cry and end up laying on my bed in complete despair when I should be making dinner for my family. That is the moment when I want to douse my kitchen in gasoline, light it up with my Namaste candle and run away.

The trail mix is a bad sign, my friends. It means I’m giving up. I HATE GIVING UP. But sometimes I hate the process of not giving up more. It feels good to pretend I can’t cook. It feels like a whole lotta relief to plan to cook dinner and then say “eff it” at the last minute and orderThai takeout instead. It’s like a shot of heroin or the feeling you get when you cancel plans last minute because you want to stay home and watch Netflix in yoga pants and you have a legit, last-minute reason to do it.

Don’t get me wrong.  These food hacks are totally okay. We all hit our max, and sometimes we live at our max for extended periods of time without much relief.  There are seasons. I get it. I’ve been there.

But this isn’t it.

This is abandoning my commitment to taking care of myself.  So, now that the world knows what that looks like, here’s what maintaining my commitment to taking care of myself looks like.

(Note: It might look differently for you, so no judgment here.  Pound that trail (mix).)

  1. Hot breakfast.
  2. The end.

I don’t eat many grains because, with the exception of rice and sometimes oats, they really tear my stomach up.  Plus, I FEEL better when I eat a protein and veggie heavy breakfast during the rest of the day. I like the feeling of something warm in my belly, too. It reminds me that my body is served best when I care for it in small ways.  Plus, I don’t have to fight the trail mix bitchies.

What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.
What prep looks like in my tiny pink kitchen.

Here is my plan of action: Fritatta. I make one large fritatta, portion it out into individual servings, and heat it up in the toaster oven while I get ready in the mornings.  This is all it takes to make me nice.  Well, this and a cup or seven of coffee.

This simple, humble little egg dish is great.  You can make a million different variations of it, but here is my absolute favorite. The fact that I can go outside and gather many of these ingredients from my garden is a total bonus.


  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese (I prefer parmesan or asiago)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 lb of browned sausage or cooked bacon, crumbled (I prefer mild Italian sausage, but you can skip meat altogether to make this vegetarian.)
  • 1 medium onion, sauteed
  • 12 oz chopped broccoli
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 Tbsp dried herbs. (I use rosemary, basil, and thyme from the garden)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (if not using sausage)


  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix in shredded cheese.
  2. Add protein and veggies, and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large, greased baking dish, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until the middle is cooked all the way through.
  4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Cut into individual portions and reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.


My individual frittata portions are hanging out in my fridge, ready to be heated and eaten all week long. I blasted Bon Jovi’s greatest hits while prepping and cooking and cleaning up the kitchen to make this all a little more tolerable.  But I digress. I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF THIS WEEK.  I hope you can, too.

Call Me Young Gun,