What to Eat Now: Slow and Easy Back to School Recipes

It’s finally that time of year. The time when moms and dads high-five each other and, heck, even strangers in the grocery store aisles, knowing victory is almost upon us. That’s right…it’s back to school time. This is a time for celebration. And I want to help you celebrate with these amazingly, deliciously easy slow cooker recipes.

That’s right, dust that baby off, and let’s get cooking. Slow cookers, pressure cookers—whatever you’re into these days. This edition of What To Eat Now is all about getting the kitchen gadgets out for a lil’ help to get dinner on the table with zero fuss. It’s the perfect time to just throw everything in the pot and have a delicious dinner waiting for you when you get home from work, school and everything else this season has to offer. As with all my recipes, feel free to get creative and tweak them any way you’d like to suit you and your family’s tastes. Most of these recipes serve six. That way, even if you’re just a fam of 4, you still have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. What? Dinner and lunch from one meal? Yes.

Boom, you’re welcome.

Now, most of these dishes do require a little bit of prep or another side dish that you’ll have to do a bit of cooking for. But I promise you they are all worth the extra effort. I so hope you try these slow cooker favorites, and they soon become your family’s faves, too.

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with creamy parmesan polenta

First up, we have my Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Creamy Parmesan Polenta. Umm, yes. This is ultimate fall comfort food in a bowl and so, so easy to make.

I suggest getting nice marinated olives for this dish like you find in the deli section of most grocery stores. The more exciting the olives, the tastier the dish. Try to get olives marinated in olive oil, herbs, garlic, chilies…whatever you like. Polenta is just Italian ground cornmeal, so if you have trouble finding it, look for finely milled cornmeal at your store, and that will do just fine. Depending on the mill of the grain, it can take 20 to 30 minutes to cook. Have a taste while you’re cooking to see if it’s done. Alternatively, if the thought of making polenta seems a bit too daunting after the endless hours of marching band/soccer/ballet practice, feel free to serve this gorgeous chicken dish with some gluten-free pasta or crusty rolls if that’s more your speed. No matter what vehicle you put this dish on, it will be delicious.

Slow Cooker Beef Randang with Jasmine Rice

Next we have my Slow Cooker Beef Randang with Jasmine Rice. Don’t be intimidated by the name or ingredients. Trust me…this is the ultimate curry dish to warm you up on a cool night. Randang is a Malaysian beef curry that is truly PACKED with flavor—unsurprising, once you see all the spices and herbs in this dish.

Try to find a good Asian market to source some of the ingredients, like the fresh lemongrass stalks, and to keep the price down. If you are at all a curry lover (guilty!), then I know you are going to live for this dish. Making this in the slow cooker is perfect because Randang tends to be cooked low and slow for hours until the meat is truly just falling apart. Traditionally, this is quite a fire-y curry, but feel free to add as little or as much of the chilies as you fancy. Serve this simply with a bit of steamed Jasmine rice and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. There are layers upon layers of flavor in this dish. It’s magic. I so hope you try it and love it as much as I do.

Eggplant and Ricotta Lasagna

Lastly, you have my Eggplant and Ricotta Lasagna. This is low carb, vegetarian and gluten free. Pow! I love this dish for a meatless Monday night. I know some will find the salting/baking process of this to be a bit fiddly for a slow cooker dish, but I promise you…it is worth a few extra minutes of prep to avoid the dreaded soggy lasagna. No one likes that.

I love this dish because you can throw it together in no time using mostly what you already have in the pantry. Try to find the most gorgeous eggplant you can. You want shiny, vibrant purple and unblemished skin. Also, check around the stalks to see if they look fresh. Use any store-bought pasta sauce you like, I prefer to use Emeril’s Home Style Marinara for this. What can I say? My dad’s brand really is my favorite! This dish is better on the second day, so don’t fear if you have leftovers. I like to serve this simply with a good gluten-free roll or baguette to sop up all that sauce and goodness. But feel free to serve with pasta or whatever your family likes.

I so hope you enjoy these dishes. Happy back to school, everyone!


Fresh and Light Southern Summer Feast

Summer is finally here, and I have the perfect bite of warmth for y’all with my fresh and light Southern summer recipes.

If any of you have been down South, you know we seem to have a real fondness for frying. You name it and we will fry it. This is great news if you’re a fryer…you’ll never be out of work down here. But this is horrible news if you’re gluten free or you have celiac disease trying to eat your way around town. So I’ve decided to lighten up a few of my Southern favorites.

Fried Green Tomatoes

For my first dish, I’ve taken a particularly gluten-y recipe that is very traditional in New Orleans and gave it a deliciously gluten free makeover: my fried green tomatoes. I’ve paired them with a bright cilantro slaw for extra crunch. To top all this, I’ve given the traditional heavy remoulade sauce a nice and healthy makeover, using ripened avocado to give this a beautifully thick and creamy consistency without using a gallon of mayo.

Yep, it is possible to lighten up some good ol’ Southern classics. Green tomatoes are literally just un-ripened tomatoes that have been picked before they turned the lovely red color we are all familiar with. These green ’maters are found all over grocery stores in the South, but if you have a hard time finding them…feel free to use a regular tomato. Just be sure it’s as hard and un-ripe as possible. Also, be sure to give it a good 15 minutes with the salt and paper towel trick to really help draw out any extra moisture. Remember, when frying anything, moisture is not a friend. Lastly, try to find a finely ground cornmeal or grit for this dish. I so hope you enjoy taking a gluten-free bite out of this traditional Southern favorite. Click here for the recipe.

Grilled Peach and Avocado Salad with Lemon Shrimp and Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing

Next up we have a true bite of summer with my Grilled Peach and Avocado Salad With Lemon Shrimp and Homemade Honey Mustard Dressing. To tie this all together, I’ve made a deliciously easy Honey Mustard Dressing that is so good, you could put it on an old boot and make it tasty (please don’t attempt this, though).  Summer and peaches go hand in hand.

Some of my most favorite summer memories as a child were sitting on our porch eating fresh peaches from the local farm, juices dripping down my arm…great stuff. Like me, I’m sure you never thought to grill those peaches until now. Trust me, it just makes them all the more sweet and juicy. They won’t need long on the grill, just a minute or 2 on each side to get some color on them. You’re going to love the fresh flavors of this salad. For the shrimp, be sure not to let them marinate too long in the lemon juice mixture, as this will start to cook the shrimp. So, give them just a quick marinade and whack ‘em on that grill. I so hope this becomes a family go-to for the summer salad team. Click here for the recipe.

Easy Bananas Foster Sundaes

Bananas Foster Sundae

Lastly, I’ve taken a true New Orleans classic and simplified it to be more home-friendly. It is still full of all the incredible flavors, just easy to make. This is my Easy Bananas Foster Sundaes. Now, of course I would love to say I flambé bananas in rum at home table-side for my guests to make this dessert as traditionally as possible. I’d also love to say I won the lottery. There is a reason this decadent dish is usually made at a restaurant by a trained professional with all the flambé experience necessary.

But that is not real life, so why not make a super-easy and flavorful recipe like this to pop on top of some ice cream for a real treat. Trust me, people will still be impressed…and you’ll get to keep your eyebrows. It’s a win-win.

Feel free to substitute coconut oil for the butter if dairy is an issue. Also, you can substitute your favorite coconut milk ice cream for the dairy ice cream, too. You can use either walnuts or pecans for this dish, or if you want to take it on a tropical twist, try some chopped macadamia nuts.  I know you are going to love these divine li’l sundaes. Click here for the recipe.

Here’s to a very happy and healthy summer, everyone, and remember you can help raise celiac awareness every day in your daily lives. Just live and eat happily and let everyone ask why you are so darn awesome. Then you can give them the honest answer…“because I’m special. I have celiac!” Big love and happy eating to all!

Take a Bite of SoCal Mexican Food

Finally the cold months are over, and it’s the perfect time to get whisked away on a little adventure in the kitchen with this fresh SoCal gluten-free Mexican food. Come take a big ol’ bite out of one of my favorite culinary landscapes: a bite out of SoCal Mexican food. Yes!

Southern California is spoiled by not just fantastic weather year-round but also its culinary scene. Being only a stone’s throw away from Mexico, residents of this area are also spoiled by the most incredibly fresh Mexican food. This is different than the Mexican food you’re probably familiar with. This is fresh, light and vibrant! This tastes of the sea and really utilizes all that southern California has at its hands, with tons and tons of fresh seafood! If you can find it in the ocean, you can find it in a tortilla.

 The food here bursts with flavor—salty, citrusy, crisp, fresh.

First up you have my Simple Shrimp Ceviche with Tostada. Simple, indeed. I took out the guessing work and perhaps some of the fear people have when you say you’re using raw seafood and only salt and citrus to “cook” that raw seafood. That can make some a bit nervous, so I’ve taken that fish fear out of the game, and we are using pre-cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp.

Obviously, if you have access to great local seafood, then by all means get some fresh shrimp and boil them yourself. If not, it’s perfectly fine to use a frozen variety that you thaw. Just be sure to roughly dice it into bite-sized pieces. The beauty of this dish is that because you are using pre-cooked shrimp, this ceviche needs hardly any time to marinate. Which means you can put this fantastically fresh dish together in minutes! Woohoo, total dinner victory.

You should be able to find the tostadas at most grocery stores where you would find hard taco shells. These round fried corn tortillas have not yet been made into that lovely taco shape, which makes them a delicious foundation for toppings and more toppings. Get inspired and let your creativity go with these lil tostadas and top with anything you can dream of. I know this will become a fresh and favorite dish for your family. Click here for the recipe.

Next up, you have my take on one of my most favorite things in the world to eat, which is very indigenous to southern California, the mighty fish taco. I just decided to keep my love of shrimp going with this dish and give you my Shrimp Tacos with Fresh Cilantro and Lime. The first time I had one of these beauties was back in 2002 at a beautiful, open beachfront restaurant in Mission Beach, San Diego. When I asked how fresh the seafood was….the surfer-looking waiter said, “Came in with a pulse this morning!” I’ll never forget that. Any of it! Just sitting there on the beach with all the shrimp taco goodness dripping down my arm, the waves crashing and my salt-kissed hair blowing in the breeze. Yep, life is truly delicious sometimes.

The beauty of this dish is the simplicity and the fresh, clean flavors. These shrimp tacos are a true taste of So Cal Mexican cuisine, and I know you are going to love them! Click here for the recipe.

Finally you have another true San Diegan favorite, which I’ve done a much healthier take on, my Healthy’d Up Carne Asada Fries with Avocado Salsa. You’re probably wondering, “What in the world are carne asada fries?” The short answer…heaven! Especially for us gluten-free folk! They’re basically everything inside a California burrito turned inside out, so French fries, carne asada meat, melty gooey cheese, sour cream, guacamole and tons of hot sauce! Think of this as the best nachos you’ve ever had…because instead of some boring old tortilla chip…you use FRENCH FRIES! Boom, life changed forever, and, yes, you are welcome.

More and more, I see pre-made carne asada meat available at most grocery stores. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have a fantastic one that is gluten free, but do check your local stores in the meat section to see what they have on offer. Even Costco has been carrying it. If for some reason you have a hard time, feel free to substitute any other steak, meat or protein you might prefer. You don’t need too much for this dish. Try making this San Diegan favorite for your next big game, and get ready to be asked for seconds. You can always substitute sweet potato fries for regular to help lighten it up even more. Click here for the recipe.

I so hope you try this for yourselves and enjoy!  

3 Fresh, Exotic Bowls to Savor

These three recipes for gluten-free bowls are full of exotic flavors and will make you feel like you’re eating on a tropical island, even though it’s the middle of winter. They are fun and versatile to assemble, and they make a great Instagram photo.

Each recipe is for a complete filling meal that will make you actually feel like you’re doing something good for yourself! I’m talking bowls, bowls, bowls of YUM! I promise these recipes will inspire you to put down that block of cheese and turkey leg. Yes, you. Plus, forget all about that snow piling up outside and start shoveling in some of these nutritious and delicious bowls of goodness. I know you will all enjoy these magnificent meals.

1. Spicy Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli Bowl

First up, we begin our exotic flavor getaway with my Spicy Lemongrass Tofu Vermicelli Bowl. This is inspired by one of my favorite dishes at my all-time-favorite Vietnamese restaurant in New Orleans. A vermicelli bowl—typically called a “Bun” at Vietnamese restaurants—contains rice noodles topped with anything from fried tofu to marinated chargrilled pork. The toppings usually include sliced carrots, cucumbers, maybe some bean sprouts and always a ton of cilantro, mint, chilies and lime.

Tofu Vermicelli Bowl

Dressings are usually fish sauce–based as well in Vietnamese cuisine, so you get a fantastic blend of salty, sweet and spicy, which is just the best in my opinion. Again, you should be able to find most of these ingredients at an Asian supermarket or in the Asian section of your local store. Be sure to look for prepackaged fried tofu chunks in the tofu section of the Asian market. If you have trouble finding this item, you can just substitute firm tofu, drained well and dredged in a bit of rice flour, if needed. It won’t be the same fried tofu texture, but it will still be delicious.

Click here for the recipe.

2. Aloha Poke Bowl

Next, I wanted to continue the tropical vibe, so we are taking a lil’ trip to Hawaii with my Aloha Poke Bowl. I LOVE POKE!!! Seriously, I might need a support group or something. I could eat this every single day. And I haven’t even mentioned how darn healthy it is for you.

Aloha Poke BowlA traditional Hawaiian dish, poke, which means “to slice,” is a delicious blend of the best things in Japanese and Hawaiian cuisines. It’s got beautifully marinated raw fish pieces on top of a bed of steamed rice and topped with everything under the Hawaiian sun. I went full-on with my toppings because that’s the way I like my poke bowls, but feel free to add or substitute anything you fancy.

I know for some, the thought of handling raw fish might be a bit frightening, but I promise you as long as you get some high-quality, sushi-grade raw fish and handle it properly, you will be fine. Be sure to ask the person at the fish counter for sushi-grade raw salmon. Good Asian Markets usually have a great selection as well. If you don’t feel comfortable dealing with raw fish, substitute something else on top, like seared tuna or cooked shrimp. Again, have fun with this dish because that’s what poke is—a bowl of happy. You should be able to find most of these ingredients at your local Asian market or in the Asian food section of some grocery stores.

Click here for the recipe.

3. Taste of the Tropics Smoothie Bowl

Lastly, we have my Taste of the Tropics Smoothie Bowl. This makes one huge bowl, so grab a few spoons and make some friends with this one. I absolutely LOVE smoothie bowls. They use a variety of frozen fruits, which help produce an uber-thick and creamy consistency.

Taste of the Tropics Smoothie BowlFeel free to get as creative as you want with both the smoothie ingredients and topping options. If you don’t love mangoes, try papaya. If almonds aren’t the nut for you, try some hemp or pumpkin seeds. Just let the tropical winds lead you on this one. I also recommend that you use a strong and powerful blender for this so you don’t blow a motor or a blade. Yes, it has happened to me in the past. I personally love a NutriBullet for things like this.

Click here for the recipe.


Budget-Friendly Gluten-Free Recipes: A Perfect Summer Thai Menu

These Thai flavor-inspired budget-friendly gluten-free recipes are just the thing for a change of pace for summer meals. Plus, they call for lots of seasonal ingredients that are growing in abundance this time of year, such as fresh basil, mint and peaches, which helps keep the cost down too. Bonus!

Easy Coconut Thai Fish Curry with Jasmine Rice








Thai Chicken Summer Rolls









Lemongrass Poached Peaches With Vanilla Cream







Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls, lagassegirls.com.

Photos by Jilly Lagasse


Kids’ Kitchen: Gluten-Free Mason Jar Breakfast

Jar up some fun with this Banana Nut Mason Jar Breakfast recipe!


Who knew you could have so much fun with a mason jar breakfast? But you don’t have to let mason jars have all the fun—feel free to use any clean and properly sterilized jar with a lid.

Did you know mason jars are the perfect kitchen tool? You can use them to make tons of yummy marinades and salad dressings—even to mix up your favorite drinks. Or try adding all your dry ingredients to a jar then shaking to incorporate everything the next time you are making a cake or cookies. The best part about monkeying around with mason jars is you get to SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE it up to mix everything together. My little nephews love to use mason jars to make salad dressing and…well, pretty much anything else they can shake on up! We will put the salad dressing ingredients in a jar and shake, then add all the salad ingredients to the jar and shake again! Voila! Each one ends up with his own salad jar personalized with his favorite fixings. It is such a fun activity to do with your kiddos.

Your little ones will have a blast with this recipe, but don’t be surprised if you adults end up making yourselves a breakfast jar of your own. They are a fantastic, healthy start to anyone’s day. Get creative with your jars, too. Try peaches and pecans or pineapple and macadamia nuts for a tropical twist. The possibilities are endless, so go grab a jar and start shaking!

Banana Nut Mason Jar Breakfast

Makes 1 mason jar


1     1½-cup mason jar with lid, cleaned and sterilized

½     cup certified gluten-free oats

1      sprinkling of cinnamon

¾-1  cup milk or any milk alternative to cover oats

1      small banana, peeled and sliced

¼     cup walnut pieces or any nuts you like, optional

1      drizzle of honey


Place oats in a mason jar and sprinkle some cinnamon on top—just a bit goes a long way.

Place the lid on the jar, securing it tightly, and shake, shake, shake the jar to mix the oats and cinnamon.

Remove the lid and pour enough milk over the oats to cover them well, between ¾ and 1 cup.

Place the lid on the jar, secure tightly, and shake, shake, shake again to mix the oats and milk.

Remove the lid and add banana slices to the jar. Next add the walnut pieces or whatever nuts you’re using, if any.

Finally, drizzle as much honey on top as desired.

Tightly secure the lid and shake again one last time to mix all the ingredients.

Refrigerate the jar overnight and enjoy for breakfast the next morning.

Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls, www.lagassegirls.com.

Photo: Jenifoto / Shutterstock

Summertime in New Orleans Recipes

This succulent spread features three classic New Orleans recipes sure to thrill everyone at the table, whether or not they eat gluten. Two of these dishes embody some of my favorite food memories of growing up and spending my summer months in the Big Easy, simply made gluten free. The third is inspired by the incredible bounty of fresh produce we have here in the summer months that you can find easily.

The bonus with these gluten-free New Orleans recipes is the low cost to prepare them. The chowder costs about $2 per serving, the po’ boy about $4 and the shortcakes less than $1! Please keep in mind that I shop around for the best deals and prices. These products I found to be especially cheap at my local farmers market and produce stand, so do try to find your local ones as well for extra savings. I also swear by shopping at Aldi’s, so see if you have one in your area.

Click on each recipe below for the item-by-item cost breakdown.

Summer Corn and Heirloom Tomato Chowder

New Orleans-Style “Fried” Shrimp Po’ Boys

Strawberry and Basil Shortcakes with Chantilly Cream

Jilly Lagasse began cooking as a child when her father, Chef Emeril Lagasse, gave her a set of chef’s whites and let her help in the pastry and dessert department in one of his restaurants. She was diagnosed with celiac in 2004 and has written two gluten-free cookbooks with her sister, Jessie Lagasse Swanson, as the duo The Lagasse Girls, lagassegirls.com.

Photos by Jilly Lagasse