Dairy Free, Sugar Free Vegetarian Dinner

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know I’m a little bit challenged in the kitchen. I do pretty well if I have a recipe in front of me and understand what it’s asking me to do (I only recently learned what it means to “broil” something, and I still don’t have a clue how to “julienne” anything), but I usually try to stick with the basics. Every now and then, however, I’m met with a culinary challenge and I have to admit that it’s pretty fun to pull out all my cookbooks and plan a menu! This weekend, our friends Tracy, Brian and Alan are coming over I’m getting yet another opportunity to stretch my “skills.” As I mentioned the last time they came to visit, there are many things that Tracy can’t eat, and things that Brian and Alan choose not to eat (Alan, for instance, is a vegetarian, and neither Brian nor Tracy eat sugar). Last time they were here, we were trying to work around wheat and yeast (and sugar and meat), but after allergy testing, it’s been revealed that Tracy is not allergic to wheat or yeast, but has a difficult time with dairy products, many different kinds of nuts, and some vegetables. So I guess that means that this time we’re planning a dairy-free, sugar-free, nut-free vegetarian menu with a limited option of vegetables. Anyone interested in coming over for dinner? I’ll be serving dirt. ;)

Actually, it was really fun trying to come up with a menu for Saturday and in preparation for our meal, I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetarian Times, which I actually don’t use very often because it’s full of recipes that call for ingredients I’ve never heard of, such as amaranth and kudzu (is it a fruit? A vegetable? A spice? Is it found in some remote corner of Africa and only available at a health food store in California? All I know is that I’ve never seen it before and don’t know how to cook with it. Then again, I only recently learned what “scallions” are, so that’s not saying much.)


Every now and then, I find a little gem in this cookbook that utilizes ingredients that us ignorant normal people can cook with and this time I found a great recipe for pasta with roasted carrot sauce. It didn’t contain any ingredients that might be a problem for Tracy, or that I can’t pronounce. I’ll be leaving out the onions, but otherwise I’ll be following this recipe:

Pasta with Roasted Carrot Sauce (serves 4)

12 carrots, sliced
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound uncooked pasta
2 cups vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the carrots, onion, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and tender, stirring twice, for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to the package directions; drain. Puree the roasted vegetables with broth in a food processor or blender. Toss with hot pasta and top with chicken. Serve immediately.

With this I’ll be serving garlic bread using a recipe one of my midwives gave to me a few years ago and I’ll top it with olive oil and fresh garlic and pray for the best. :) The bread is free of dairy, eggs, and white sugar and tastes really good. I’m giving you the recipe exactly as it was given to me. Unfortunately, it’s something you really have to try for yourself in order to understand. But if you’re looking for this type of recipe, it’s really worth the effort.  At some point I’ll try to take pictures of us making it, so that you can see what I mean in some of these steps.  For now, though, here is the recipe for anyone interested in trying it:

Sheryl’s Dairy Free, Egg Free, Sugar Free Bread Recipe (makes three loaves)

4 c. warm water
1/4 cup honey or sorghum
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
8-10 cups wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Dissolve honey in water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let dissolve and sit until it starts to bubble (3-5 minutes)
Stir in 4-5 cups of flour until you get a sponge. Flour should be thick, but you should still be able to beat it. Beat 100 strokes.
Cover and let sit until dough doubles in height.
On top, add salt and olive oil. Stir down with a spoon.
Work in the rest of the flour – just enough to make an elastic dough. Kneed until smooth. Cover and let sit until dough doubles in height.
Divide into three loaves. Knead each loaf until there is a round lump. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Turn dough upside down and throw it on the table, to get rid of the air. Fold in half.
Pick up ends and work the dough, stretching, flipping, and flopping it to elongate it (don’t tear it).
Take both ends and fold toward the middle so that the ends touch. Press flat with hand and then fold over on itself once, pinching the ends together with your knuckles.
Let rise until it begins to leave a light fingerprint when pressed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until done.

In another of my cookbooks, I found a recipe for a simple salad that I’m also planning to serve, and what I liked about it is that we won’t need any additional dressing on it, so I won’t have to worry about making a dressing from scratch, or trying to find a pre-mixed dressing that doesn’t contain any allergy triggering substances. I also like the fact that it gave me a simple combination of ingredients to use because A. when it comes to the kitchen I don’t like to guess at what might taste good together (yes, even in salad making my cooking abilities are exceptionally lacking), and B. the salad recipes I found in my Vegetarian cookbook call for about 15 ingredients each, at least one of which I’ve either never heard of or have no idea where to find (can anyone tell me where “couscous” might be? Or what “capers” are? Where on earth would I find “bamboo shoots” and what is a “pomegranate cell?”)

Sooo… for better or worse, here is the simple salad I’m planning to make:

Spinach Salad

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/4 c. sliced mushrooms
1/4 c. halved grape tomatoes
1/4 c. olives
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips

Along with this, I plan to serve baked chicken (for the non-vegetarians) and steamed broccoli (I think I can handle this without a recipe.) For dessert I’ll be making dairy free, sugar free brownies using the recipe below (My step-mom found this for me online and I can’t find it to reference it – sorry!)  I’m using olive oil where the original recipe called for butter and honey for the sugar. No idea how that will turn out, but if it flops, at least the kids will eat it. :)

Sugar Free, Dairy Free Brownies

¼ c. olive oil
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
½ c. honey
¾ c. flour
1/8 tsp salt
¼ c. rice milk
½ c. walnuts (Tracy can have walnuts.)

Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, and honey. Combine with dry ingredients and stir. Pour into a greased pan and cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Pray for the best, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Related Posts:

Wheat-free, Yeast-free, Semi-Vegetarian Breakfast Menu


This entry was posted in Cooking... not so much, Homemaking, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Dairy Free, Sugar Free Vegetarian Dinner

  1. Jo says:

    You can eat kudzu?! This weed is all too familiar to those living in the deep South. If plants had a moral proclivity, kudzu’s would be pure evil! It’s everywhere, and I think it grows a foot a day. That’s not a typo. Here is a fun picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kudzu_on_trees_in_Atlanta,_Georgia.jpg

    • Rina says:

      Jo, I don’t have any experience with the weed, but that picture of it sure is beautiful! Thanks for sharing… and if need any kudzu recipes, let me know! ;)
      Erika, THank you for the book suggestion! That sounds wonderful, because I really don’t know how to do much with vegetables (other than boil or steam them). I’d love to have your dairy free lasagne recipe… Tracy can’t eat soy (which I would immagine would be in the cheese?), but if nothing else I’d love to have the recipe for myself!
      Motherhen, I’m impressed! Thanks for letting me know… I’ll look for couscous next time I’m in the store and see about making it the next time Tracy and Brian come to visit.

  2. Erika says:

    Your menu sounds wonderful and so thoughtful. One of my most favorite things to do in my kitchen is create meals that would normally be inedible for someone- like making a dairy free lasagne for someone with a dairy allergy. I’m sure it will go smoothly and your guests will have a wonderful time. AND I need to pull that cookbook out and find that roasted carrot recipe- that sounds so fun and different!

    Btw, if you’re looking for some good cookbooks to help explain some of those mystery ingredients, try Mark Bittman’s books. His How To Cook Everything Vegetarian completely changed the way I cook with vegetables and grains. It would be so worth checking to see if your library had his books.

  3. Rachel says:

    Good for you, Rina! Way to stretch yourself. I have a friend who claims she can’t cook, and I always tell her, if you can read and follow directions, you can cook!

    PS – That carrot sauce sounds delicious. I may have to try that some time.

  4. motherhen68 says:

    (can anyone tell me where “couscous” might be? Or what “capers” are? Where on earth would I find “bamboo shoots” and what is a “pomegranate cell?”)

    couscous is a type of grain that should be in a box with the rice @ the grocery store. It’s really simple to cook as you just add boiling water and let the grains soak it up. You can mix just about anything in to it and it’ll taste fine. Capers are little green sour bally things that look like green peas but are tart like an olive. You find them with the olives @ the store. I’m guess a pomegranate cell is the inside seeds of the pomegranate. You eat the seeds, even though they are “seedy” tasting. Poms are just super expensive as they have a super short ripening season. I’ve actually think it’s already passed for this year, though you may be able to find some cut pom seeds in your produce section by the bagged lettuce. :)

    HTH. If you need help with other foods, you can email me or hit me up at the blog. I’d be glad to help you out. :)

  5. Mrs. Parunak says:

    Your menu sounds like fun. How did everything turn out? I’m especially curious about the brownies. I’m guessing that honey worked just fine since brownies are supposed to be kind of dense and fudgey anyway.

  6. Erika says:

    Here you go Rina. I didn’t use any soy cheese at all because I wasn’t sure how it would taste. The veggies are completely adaptable (asparagus and broccoli would be great too!). The nutritional yeast flakes, if you’re not familiar with it, gives that nutty Parmesan taste without being dairy- and actually has some health benefits as well. You can find it in the health food section of a grocery store, but since you only use 1 tablespoon of it, you can certainly leave it out. For No-Boil noodles I used Barilla brand, and if you don’t have sea salt, just use plain old whatever salt you use. :)

    White Sausage Lasagna- Dairy Free
    Serving Size : 10
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage — casings removed, sausage crumbled
    3 cups zucchini slices
    3 cups sliced mushrooms
    3 cloves garlic — minced
    4 cups plain rice milk
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    12 no-boil lasagna noodles
    1/4 cup water

    Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, set aside.

    Begin by browning the Italian sausage in the olive oil over medium high heat. Remove the browned sausage from the pan, leaving any drippings in the pan.

    Add the zucchini and mushrooms to the pan and saute until the zucchini is soft. Add the garlic, and continue to cook for about another two minutes. Add the cooked vegetables to the sausage and toss to combine.

    In another saucepan, combine the flour and about half of the rice milk. Whisk to combine, and once smooth, add the remaining rice milk. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring very frequently to keep it from clumping. Remove from the heat. Add the sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, basil, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Remove 1 cup of sauce from the pan and set aside.

    Place about 1 cup of sauce in the prepared baking dish. Spread the sauce evenly around the pan. Lay 4 of the lasagna noodles over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spread half of the sausage and vegetable mixture over the noodles, followed by half of the remaining sauce. If you’d like, you can sprinkle with additional nutritional yeast flakes. Cover the sauce with another layer of 4 overlapping noodles. Spread the remaining vegetables followed by the other half of the sauce. Layer the remaining 4 lasagna noodles on the top. Pour the reserved 1 cup of sauce evenly on top of the noodles.

    Gently, pour the 1/4 cup of water around the edges of the lasagna. Cover the pan tightly with foil and pop into the 350ºF oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting into pieces.

    Serves about 10.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 239 Calories; 8g Fat (28.3% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 31g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 49mg Cholesterol; 512mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

    NOTES : Alternately, for the sauce, you can also use 6 tablespoons of prepared pesto instead of the garlic powder, dried basil,and Italian Seasoning. Just double check to see that the pesto is free of Parmesan Cheese.

    You can also omit the sausage for a vegetarian lasagna- vegan if you use an egg-free lasagna noodle.

    • Rina says:

      Wow, that sounds awesome, Erika! Now I know the next meal I’ll be making when they come to visit! Thank you so much!
      Mrs. P, the brownies turned out well but would have been better, I think, had I not used extra virgin olive oil and instead used some other type of oil, or even plain olive oil (not as healthy, I know.) But the extra virgin was a bit strong and you could really taste it in the brownie. Tracy really liked them, however, and asked to take some home so I was pretty happy about that! And it’s definitely something I’m planning to make again. The rest of the meal was pretty good… the pasta needed SOMETHING but I’m not enough of a cook to be able to tell what kind of “something” it needed (any cooks out there reading this? I thought it was a bit bland… any ideas as to what I could have used to give it a little more flavor?) The recipe doesn’t call for any salt, and on top of whatever else might have helped it, I think that a little salt would have been good. The garlic bread turned out really well, and everyone really liked the salad. Thanks for asking!

  7. Tracy says:

    The food was absolutely delicious!! It was much better than dirt. It’s hard to believe that you struggle with cooking because everything you’ve cooked for us turns out great.

    • Rina says:

      Thanks, Tracy… I’m glad that things have turned out well each time I’ve cooked for you, but I assure you, it’s true that I struggle with it. I’m working on a new post that will give you a glimpse into my most recent flop. :)

  8. Tracy says:

    I’m going to try to make the brownies today. We don’t have honey so I’m going to try it with agave. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Did you use wheat flour or regular flour.

  9. Jennifer Marshall says:

    Hello Rina, I am Tracy’s sister-in-law and a new fan of your blog. I too am a homeschooling mom to 3 boys and love it! Your blog is very interesting and inspiring, thanks for sharing it! I’m going to attempt your brownie recipe Tuesday night for Tracy’s birthday dinner…at her request! She was impressed!

    • Rina says:

      I’m so glad to hear from you! Tracy told me that she’d given you the link, I’m glad you like to visit! The last time Tracy and Brian were here, we talked about possibly coming up there to visit them next time… maybe we could all get together? Please feel free to email me any time (Dunamiss777 [at] yahoo [dot] com). I look forward to getting to know you!

  10. Tracy says:

    That would be so awesome if we all got together next time. I would love for all of you to meet.