The Food Philosopher: Gluten-Free Recipes, Health and Nutrition, Diet and Weight Loss





A Bit of Cajun Spice

up a pot of our Jambalaya for your next dinner party. The folks on the Bayou have gathered together and shared Jambalaya by the cast iron pot full since the late 18th century. Think of Jambalaya as spiced up Spanish paella—Cajun style. Cajun cuisine blends the ingredients and techniques of French, German, Spanish, African, and American Native influences with local flavor. Cayenne replaces saffron in this flavorful festive dish in order to give it some heat. Jambalaya is perfect for entertaining because it is inexpensive to make, easy to prepare, and cooks all in one pot in just 40 minutes. So invite some friends over, and cook up a potful to share this weekend. (See below for our meatless version).

Spiced Party Pecans*
Artichoke Dip
Baby Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette*
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Roasted Okra*
Coconut Bread Pudding

*Find these recipes in our Recipe archive on this Website.


Pass around the Hurricanes, Planter's Punch, or Mint Juleps, and start the evening off with simple, delicious hors d'oeuvres that won't keep you tied up in the kitchen. The Spiced Party Pecans can be made days ahead and stored in an airtight container. Our savory Artichoke Dip takes minutes to mix up before you slip it into the oven to warm. Put it out on the coffee table along with some crackers and the nuts, and your guests get to serve themselves. The creamy elements found in Creole cooking, combined with a bit of Cajun heat, will get everyone in the mood for the main meal to come.

You'll want to spend as much as possible with your friends, so prep the Jambalaya up through the end of Step 2 before they come. Then, finish cooking it by starting with Step 3 about 40 minutes before you are ready to eat. Put the okra in the oven when you sit down to eat the salad. Roasting is one of our favorite ways to prepare okra, and it will result in a crisp, sweet, slime-free product.

But save room for dessert! Sweet coconut and crunchy pecans blend with a bit of pineapple to make our Coconut Bread Pudding something special. If you like coconut, this is one of those recipes you will make again and again. Serve it with a cup of hot, steamy coffee for a delightful end to this spicy evening.


Serves 8

12 ounces artichoke hearts, drained
3.5 ounces canned green chili peppers, diced
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup scallions, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and place rack in center of oven. Spray small ovenproof dish with baking spray.
  2. In food processor, purée artichoke hearts, chili peppers, and mayonnaise until smooth.
  3. Mix in cheese, scallions, parsley, and pepper.
  4. Transfer artichoke mixture to baking dish and place in center of oven. Bake 20 minutes until warm and bubbly. Serve warm with crackers.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Serves 6

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) cut into 2–inch pieces
1 pound Creole smoked sausage (if unavailable, look for smoked Polish or French garlic sausages) cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup baked ham chopped into bite–size pieces
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 whole bay leaves, crushed
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon crushed cloves
¼ teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne (or crushed red pepper)
1½ cups long grain rice
3 cups water

  1. Heat oil in heavy 6-7 quart pot over high heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and lower heat to medium. Add onion, green pepper, and garlic; cook stirring frequently until vegetables are softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add sausage and seasonings; continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Add ham and stir 1 minute more.
  3. Add rice and stir until well–combined. Add water and stir while scraping bottom of pot. Increase heat to high, cover, and bring to a full boil. Stir well, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes. Add chicken to pot* (do not add any juices from the bowl), stir, and push chicken down into rice. Cook 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed. Allow to rest 5 minutes in covered pot.

*Cook's Note: if using chicken thighs, add chicken to pot after 10 minutes, push thighs down into rice, and cook about 20 minutes more, until chicken is cooked though.

For a delicious meatless version, substitute:

  • Any combination of shrimp (peeled and deveined) or cooked crawfish meat for chicken. Cook shrimp as per instructions in step #1 and then set aside. In step #3, add cooked shrimp and crawfish after rice has cooked for 20 minutes.
  • Creole smoked sausage from Melissa's® Soyrizo. Follow package directions to use.
  • Omit ham.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts

Food Philosopher’s® Gluten-Free


Be sure to use a good quality gluten-free bread and toast it slightly as instructed in the directions for the best results. To make this bread pudding using wheat bread, do not toast the bread cubes and proceed with recipe as follows.

Serves 8–10

1 pound gluten free "plain white" bread*
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted**
1 cup crushed (canned) pineapple drained
1 15 ounce can cream of coconut (Coco Lopez® or Goya®)
2 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Position rack in center of oven. Remove crusts from bread and cut into 1–inch squares. Spread bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake until cubes are dried out and golden. Allow to cool thoroughly.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray glass or ceramic 13x9x2 baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Mix bread, sweetened shredded coconut, toasted pecans, and crushed pineapple together in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Combine cream of coconut, whole milk, and sugar in heavy, medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisk eggs in large bowl to blend. Whisk in warm milk mixture and vanilla. Pour mixture over breadcrumbs and mix in very gently. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  6. Pour into baking dish. Gently push bread into milk mixture. Bake in center of oven until pudding is set and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly.
  7. Sift confectioners' sugar over pudding. Serve warm. Store any leftovers tightly covered in refrigerator. Can be rewarmed in microwave.

* You can make a bread using Bread Flour Mix A, Bread Flour Mix B from Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts, or you can use a fresh, top–quality rice bread that is not purchased frozen (WholeFoods Market has a good one). The small, hard, frozen rice breads will not make a good bread pudding.

** Bake walnuts about 5 minutes in preheated 350°F oven.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts