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gluten free appetizer

Gluten Free Paleo Thanksgiving App - Carrot Sunflower Seed Dip


Gluten Free Paleo Thanksgiving App - Carrot Sunflower Seed Dip

Are you prepared with a recipe arsenal for last-minute family and unannounced guests showing up this Holiday season ready to eat? Oh and don’t forget Auntie Pattie who is Paleo now, and Jimmy who has a peanut allergy, oh right and your gluten allergy. 

Are you sweating already? 

Its ok, I am here to help. 

Let me introduce you to a healthy, quick, and easy dip that is usable for an appetizer dip with crackers or veggies, or to pull together a meal by using it as a spread for roasted meats, or even thinned out with some olive oil for a salad dressing. 

Oh and did I mention its Gluten, Dairy, Grain, and Peanut Free?


A bonus aspect to this recipe is that you can exchange the sunflower seeds for any nut or seed you have on hand. I usually make my own crackers but let’s be honest, during the holidays sometimes we need to take short cuts, so here are some links to gluten-free crackers that I have pictured with the dip.

Obviously fresh veggies would be optimal but we need to please a crowd so lets not be too pushy on family and friends during Thanksgiving about gluten-free this and vegan that. Just put the food down and make no health announcements (unless you need to) and see what the reaction is. Plus a dip made of carrots that is completely vegan is way better than the usual cream cheese stuffed fried food that is usually around, but they don’t need to know that right? 

Carrot Sunflower Orange Date Spread

Yields 2

Vegan - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo - Sugar Free - Make Ahead


  1. 1 Lb Carrots Peeled and Cut into 1/2'' Pieces
  2. 1 Cup Roasted Sunflower Seeds or Nut/Seed of Choice
  3. 1/2 Cup Pitted Dates (soaked in warm water for 10 minutes)
  4. 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
  6. 1/2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
  7. Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)


  1. Steam the carrots for 5-7 minutes or until the carrots are easily pierced with a knife.
  2. Drain the dates and add all of the ingredients to a blender.
  3. Blend the mixture until smooth.
  4. Taste for seasoning and transfer to a bowl and serve with crackers, crudite, or use as a dip for meat or veggies.


           The sunflower seeds can be replaced with cashews, almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts.


Chic and Simple Middle Eastern Inspired Appetizer


Chic and Simple Middle Eastern Inspired Appetizer


Hopefully you had a beautiful, long, holiday weekend. My pool is open, I can smell the grill, and the weather is finally warming up :)

I find during the warmer months I am drawn to lighter fare with fresh ingredients, big punches of flavor and acidity.

Enter last nights appetizer that turned into dinner: 

Middle Eastern Sumac Roasted Eggplant with Basil Serrano Salsa Verde

With the addition of an egg this can totally function as a light dinner. The components can also be served chopped up and tossed into mesculin greens using the salsa verde as a salad dressing. If you aren’t into eggs might I suggest you replace the egg with some soft goat cheese and feel free to sub the sunflower seeds with your favorite nut or seed (Marcona almonds, or pistachios would work beautifully). 

Middle Eastern Sumac Roasted Eggplant with Basil Serrano Salse Verde

Serves 2

Gluten Free - Grain Free - Paleo - Vegetarian - Dairy Free


  • 10 Baby Eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil (for eggplants)
  • 2 teaspoons Sumac
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 cup Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 4 cups Basil Leaves
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil (for Salsa Verde)
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Serrano Pepper (Diced with seeds removed)
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Zest (About 1 lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Roasted Sunflower Seeds


  1. Roasted Eggplant
  2. Step 1
  3. Pre heat the oven to 475F
  4. Split the eggplants in half lengthwise and liberally cover them in olive oil.
  5. In a small bowl combine the Sumac, Smoked Paprika, and two big pinches of fine sea salt.
  6. Liberally sprinkle the eggplant with the spice mixture reserving a small pinch for the eggs.
  7. Place the eggplants on a sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes or until charred and softened. (A knife should pierce very easily when pressed against the flesh)

Basil Serrano Salsa Verde

  1. In the work bowl of a food processor add 1/3 cup olive oil, diced and seeded Serrano pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, basil and parsley.
  2. Pulse for about 1 minute until the herbs are broken down.
  3. Add the nutritional yeast and pulse to incorporate.
  4. Taste for seasoning.
  5. If the mixture is too thick stream in more olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.

Medium Boiled Eggs

  1. Place the eggs in a small sauce pan and cover with water to just cover the eggs.
  2. Heat over medium high heat, uncovered, until the water just comes to a boil.
  3. Turn off the heat, leaving the pot in place, and set a timer for 8 minutes.
  4. When the timer goes off wait 30 seconds and then drain and cover the eggs in ice water.
  5. Allow the eggs to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  6. With the back of a spoon gently tap all around the surface of the egg to create as many little cracks as possible.
  7. Roll the egg around in your hands over the sink.
  8. WIth the faucet running gently peel the eggs under the running water.
  9. Split the eggs in half and dust with the remaining sumac, salt, smoked paprika spice mixture.


  1. Place 5 eggplant halves in a plate along with two halves of an egg.
  2. Generously spoon the salsa verde over the eggs and eggplant.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of roasted sunflower seeds over each plate.


Grain Free Rosemary Almond Crackers topped with Balsamic glazed Pears, Mustard Cream Dressed Frisee and Goat Brie Cheese


Grain Free Rosemary Almond Crackers topped with Balsamic glazed Pears, Mustard Cream Dressed Frisee and Goat Brie Cheese

It’s a Holiday weekend so I know many of you are scrambling to find some party friendly recipes to impress your family and friends. How about homemade grain free crackers topped with balsamic glazed pears a mustard cream sauce and goat cheese? Say yes, because these will knock your socks off and make you look like a rock star, especially since they are vegetarian, grain free, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

I found this recipe for grain free almond flour crackers on and this is the base but its a great recipe to have in your back pocket for parties.

Some other options for topping these crackers:

  1. Smashed pea and olive oil puree with lemon zest and crumbled bacon
  2. Cashew Cream with chives and smoked salmon
  3. Store bought olive tapenade or Pate or Caponata with arugula tossed in balsamic vinaigrette
  4. Roasted Beets, orange zest, toasted pistachios and goat cheese

Make sure to check out my flavor combination pages to come up with some new and creative ideas for your menu this weekend. 

If you are dairy free you can omit the cheese in this recipe and replace it with some candied walnuts but if you are looking to splurge the goat cheese really sends it over the top. It might seem like a lot of steps and ingredients but it’s really simple and you can make all the components ahead of time and assemble when you are ready to serve.

Balsamic glazed Pears, Frisee, Mustard Cream & Brie Goat Cheese Appetizer

Grain Free- Refined Sugar Free – Corn Free – Gluten Free – Vegetarian

Makes about 24 pieces depending on what size cracker is used

Rosemary Almond Flour Crackers

Cracker recipe courtesy of

  • 2 Cups Almond Flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbl Fresh finely minced Rosemary
  • 2 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 2 Egg (pasture raised if possible)

Mustard Cream Sauce

  • 1/3 cup Raw Cashews soaked overnight in water
  • 3 Tbl Grain Mustard (gluten free or homemade)
  • 1 1/2 Tbl Dijon Mustard (gluten free or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp coconut nectar or honey or stevia to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 Firm (but ripe) Bosc Pear core removed and sliced into 1”x 1/4” match sticks
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbl coconut nectar/maple syrup/ or honey
  • 2 Tbl fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves or 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 head (about 2 cups) frisee lettuce washed and cut crosswise into small bite size pieces
  • 4 oz goat brie cheese sliced in 1’‘ x 1 1/4’‘ pieces or soft goat cheese crumbled into small pieces*

*If you can’t eat cheese replace with candied or roasted salted walnuts

Instructions for the Crackers:

  1. Pre heat an oven to 325F
  2. In the bowl of a food processor (or a large bowl with a whisk) add the egg and olive oil and pulse (or whisk) to combine. Add the salt, almond flour, and rosemary and pulse or mix until a ball of dough is formed.
  3. Kneed it a few times to make sure everything is well incorporated. Place the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling-pin until the dough is 1/8” thick. Cut into squares (2’‘x2’‘) with a pizza cutter and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan.
  4. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until they are golden brown around the edges.

Instructions for the Mustard Cream:

  1. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and add them in a high powder blender or a food processor along with the orange juice.
  2. Pulse/blend until a smooth cream is formed. If it’s becoming hard to blend add more oj or water a little bit at a time.
  3. Add the mustard, honey/stevia/coconut syrup, pepper, pinch of salt and blend until a smooth cream is created.
  4. Taste for seasoning and sweetness. Set aside.

Instructions for the Pears and Assembling :

  1. In a saute pan over medium heat add the olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer add the sliced pears and sprinkle with the salt and thyme, and saute for 3-5 minutes or until they start to brown and crisp up around the edges.
  2. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and drizzle the honey or coconut nectar over the pears. Cook for one minute then lower the heat to a simmer and stir and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the balsamic vinegar has reduced to a syrup and there is no liquid in the pan.
  3. Remove the pears from the pan and set aside in a bowl to cool.
  4. Right before assembling add the chopped frisee in  a bowl and start by spooning 3/4 of the mustard cream over and toss with tongs until the lettuce is well covered in the dressing adding more if needed.
  5. Lay the crackers out in an assembly line. Place a small handful of the dressed frisee on each cracker. Then add 3-4 slices of the sautéed pears over the lettuce and then top with a few small slices of brie or a few small pieces of crumbled goat cheese.

Optional to drizzle some additional mustard cream over the top.

Place on a serving platter and serve.