Tag Archives: gluten free food

Chef Whitney’s Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe

Our January 2020 Chef of the Month, Whitney Watts, has shared her famous Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe. This cheesy recipe is always a crowd pleaser, and as Chef Whitney says, “who doesn’t want to know how to make a tasty, easy Vegan Mac and Cheese?”

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups cooked macaroni shells
  • 1.5 Cups cooked butternut squash (peel, deseed, chop & boil for 15 minutes until soft)
  • 1 Cup Daiya Classic Blend shredded cheese
  • 1 Cup Daiya Cheddar shredded cheese
  • 1/3 Cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1.5 TBSP Paprika
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 TBSP grape seed oil

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 400.
  2. Add 1 cup of water to butternut squash and purée.
  3. Add cream cheese, add 1/2 cup of each Daiya shredded cheese (both classic and Cheddar), and seasonings. Purée until smooth and creamy.
  4. Mix in macaroni noodles.
  5. Add to baking dish ( I baked in a cast iron skillet), top with grape seed oil and bake for 25 mins or until top appears a bit crispy.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

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Chef Whitney’s Vegan Gumbo Recipe

If you’re looking for a hearty, healthy stew, then look no further! Our January 2020 Chef of the Month, Whitney Watts, has shared with us her famous Vegan Gumbo Recipe. Complete with fresh ingredients and stock full of flavors, this Gumbo is a perfect to bring in the new year! Find it below.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup of flour (gluten free optional)
  • 10 Cups of water
  • 1/2 Cups of coconut aminos
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stocks, diced
  • 1.5 Cup of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup of lentils
  • 1 Cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 Cup of crushed tomato
  • 1 TSBP Liquid smoke
  • 1 TSP Cayenne
  • 1 TBSP Thyme
  • 2 TBSP Garlic powder
  • 1/2 TSP Sea Salt
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 1 Cup of fresh okra

Directions

  1. Add vegan butter to medium heat and stir until melted. Mix in red onion and stir until onion softens.
  2. Add flour and stir. It will form a tough/ lumpy consistency. Add water and continue to stir until smooth.
  3. Add in soy sauce, crushed tomato, stir and bring to simmer.
  4. Stir in all vegetables, seasonings and beans. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes & stir occasionally. Eat with rice & enjoy!

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January 2020 Chef of the Month- Whitney Watts

4We’re excited to welcome the year 2020, and to introduce our first 2020 Chef of the Month, Whitney Watts! Chef Whitney was born in Illinois, and now resides in the Chicago area. She is currently opening her own grab & go gourmet meal pickup and delivery service, and also works at a shared kitchen space on the North Side of Chicago. Chef Whitney is a vegan chef, who often uses creative ways to blend and prepare her dishes. She is a headstrong entrepreneur, and we couldn’t be more excited to start the year off with her story! Read it below and shop her look

1. Where were you born? 
I was born in Melrose Park, IL.  

2. Where do you work and where are you based? 
I am based in the Chicago, IL, Pilsen area. The address is 2150 S Canalport Ave. I am currently opening my own grab & go gourmet meal pick up and delivery service, but Iʼve been at a shared kitchen space on the North side. 

3. What is your favorite kitchen tool in creating your masterpieces/dishes?
My food processor runs my kitchen! Since I mostly make vegan food, it requires a lot of mixing/blending ingredients to give you all of the vegetable greatness and flavor profiles I look to create for people.  

4. What is your sharpest sense out of all the 5 senses?
My sharpest? Iʼd have to say my nose. I can smell everything all too well. People would assume itʼs taste because Iʼm a Chef, but I “taste” food in my head more than literally.  

5. What advice would you offer for aspiring chefs?
Keep going. Donʼt wait on anyone to help you. People will help you when they can take you seriously by how committed you show yourself to be. Create your own lane, because thereʼs more to the food industry than working in a restaurant. Weʼre in a trillion dollar industry that will never die, so thereʼs much room for you and your style of cooking, but itʼs important to also figure out how your talent can be an asset to the masses so youʼre not just another cook that can julienne a carrot and make chicken stock.  

6. What is one culinary tip every chef should know and perfect?
Timing. If youʼre planning to be on time, you will surely be late. Organization is vital to being on time.  

7. What does good food mean to you?
Itʼs tasting it in my head. Good food is putting my phone down, and interacting with the people around me about the flavors in the dish weʼre eating because weʼre enjoying it that much. Good food is colorful, flavorful, balancing healthy and delicious, and worthy of an Instagram feature! 

8. What features are important to you when selecting your chef outfit?
My main goal is always my own comfort.  

9. Favorite ingredient to work with? 
Mushrooms. Iʼm a big mushroom lover, so much that Iʼve mastered hiding it in food because theyʼre so healthy and everyone should eat them unless they canʼt. My mom for instance, swears she hates mushrooms, but sheʼs emptied every plate Iʼve given her that had mushrooms, as well as many others.  

10. Favorite City to dine out in? 
New York City has some of the best vegan food. Seasoned Vegan, located in Harlem, is one of my favorites.  

11. Best Dish you have ever made? 
My vegan Mac n Cheese stands alone and proud.  

12. What you like to eat most often on your days off? 
I love Ethiopian food. Or nachos. I eat a lot of basil veggie fried rice with Tom Yum soup, also. I rarely stray away from those meals.  

13. Person you would most like to cook for? 
Miguel. Iʼm such a fan of him as a person, his music, his vibe. I will one day. 

14. What made you decide to become a chef?
I was an Accountant at a Real Estate company for nearly 5 years, and had been in the industry for 10. I just remember at one point sitting in my office and feeling like my 9-5 was an inconvenience, and that I could be cooking for someone, making them happy. Being in an office became stressful and I found myself going into a depression, but also noticing how cooking felt like therapy, because Iʼd just put on some jazz music and zone out, and when I was all done, I felt whole again.

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Is Gluten-Free the Way to Be?

The hype surrounding gluten-free diets has been growing. We have all heard about these on the news as well as celebrity endorsements (Chelsea Clinton’s gluten-free wedding cake), but what are they, really? What do they entail? And what exactly is this “gluten” we keep hearing about? Well, in honor of Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, ChefUniforms.com has decided to answer these questions for you!

What Exactly is Gluten?

Gluten is the protein that is found in wheat, barley and rye that makes our favorite foods so much better. It makes pizza dough stretchy, bread spongier, and thickens sauces and soups. In other words, gluten binds different foods together, so that they create something new (and delicious). There are people who have a chronic digestive disorder, called celiac disease, in which even a tiny crumb of gluten can make them sick. So, for these people, gluten-free is the only way to be! As the ability to test for this disease became easier, more and more people became aware of why they felt ill after eating a piece of bread. A new issue has emerged, called nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which leads to similar symptoms (stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating). Unlike celiac disease, with nonceliac gluten sensitivity, the intestine remains undamaged. After the food companies realized that there was a new, growing market to be targeted, more and more people began avoiding gluten in order to cure migraines, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. There is also the idea out there that a gluten-free existence leads to rapid weight loss. However, without the gluten to bind our food together, food manufacturers are forced to turn to more fat and more sugar to make the product better tasting.

What would a Gluten-Free Diet Entail?

Maintaining a completely gluten-free diet is extremely difficult, but if you suffer from one of the above illnesses, you likely don’t have a choice. Here are some things to stay away from:

  • Pretty much all bread products, unless they specifically state “Gluten-Free” on the package.
  • Luncheon meats
  • Sausages
  • Sauces thickened with flour
  • Soups based with flour
  • Salad dressings
  • Meat and fish pastes
  • Mustard
  • Instant coffee
  • Licorice
  • Drinking chocolate
  • Pickles
  • Some toothpastes and supplements
  • Some pharmaceuticals
  • Some lipsticks

*Read your food labels for ingredients that might contain gluten!

So, is Gluten-Free Really the way to Be?

This one’s tricky. If you suffer from one of the illnesses listed above, then definitely yes. However, if you just heard on the news that it’s the new thing to do and you might lose weight, it might not be for you. First, it’s very difficult to maintain (you can see how many everyday products contain gluten above). Second, you could end up with nutritional deficiencies (like iron, B Vitamins and fiber) – many people replace their vitamin-enriched and whole grain foods with gluten free foods, and miss out on all of the stuff that’s actually good for your body.

On the other hand, if you skip some of the “gluten-free” products and stick to eating more vegetables, fruits, lean protein and dairy products, a gluten-free diet might be a very healthy way of eating. It’s all in how you plan your meals.

Can you name some easy ways to stay gluten-free and healthy? Leave a comment below!

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