Leyla Eraybar: Gluten, Dairy and Guilt-Free Mac’n’Cheese

Leyla Eraybar Mac n cheese

When considering the constraints of a vegetarian, gluten-free diet, certain comfort foods seem like they will just have to be distant memories. And considering that a lot of comfort foods aren’t necessarily that healthy, generally I don’t mind this fact. Being conscious and considered about what foods you put into your body important, however, when it comes to a classic macaroni and cheese, I couldn’t help but look for a recipe that works. As a kid growing up in the South Carolina, southern comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and collard greens were staples of down home cooking. However, again it is important to note that sometimes the way these foods are prepared aren’t conducive to maintaining a gluten-free diet. And some modifications usually need to be made in order to keep the recipe relatively healthy. But, even with modifying the recipe, taste is also super important! With all of that in mind, what I’m sharing below is  a delicious vegan mac’n’ cheese that eliminates some of the heavier ingredients found in traditional recipes for this dish. Even so,  do remember to always try and eat in moderation!

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

Serves: 5 to 6 people

Ingredients for vegan Cheese Sauce:

1 cup of nutritional yeast flakes

1 can of cannellini beans(about 1 1/2 cups) – make sure to drain before adding to blender

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp dijon mustard (add more or less depending on taste)

1/4 tsp fine pepper + salt (also to taste)

1 cup of mashed sweet potato (about 1 small potato)

1/3 cup of vegan butter softened (I like to use Earth Balance, but there are plenty of other options to choose from)

plain soy milk, creamer or water (to thin sauce to desired thickness at the the end)

Directions for “cheese” sauce:

1. Bake the sweet potato .

2. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Begin on a low setting and gradually increase speed until mixture becomes smooth.

3. Now do a small taste test and adjust spices and sweetness accordingly. 

4. Finally, thin out the sauce to desired thickness using the soy milk, soy creamer or water. I like to use the soy creamer, but any of the other options will work just fine.

5. Allow the sauce to simmer on the stove top until ready to be served over the macaroni. 

Ingredients for Macaroni:

6 cups of cooked gluten free elbow macaroni (try glutino)

2 tbs parsley flakes (dried)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

3 cups “cheese” sauce (see recipe above)

Optional Ingredients for Macaroni:

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes

dash of salt

pinch of chili pepper flakes

Directions for Macaroni:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, boil macaroni to desired firmness or softness.
  2. Drain this pot of macaroni.
  3. Pour macaroni into a large heat-resistant serving bowl and add in nutritional yeast, parsley and tomatoes (if you are choosing to include tomatoes).
  4. Toss all of these ingredients together.
  5. Stir in the “cheese sauce” to this macaroni mixture.
  6. Taste test the combined ingredients and add in optional salt or pepper flakes if necessary.
  7. Serve to guests and enjoy the meal!

Penne with Cauliflower and Greens

Veggie options

It seems like cauliflower and collard greens are the veggies to watch in 2015, so definitely check out this tasty recipe that uses both. Cauliflower and collard greens are phenomenal sources of vitamin C, so dig in… and feel free to add in some roasted brussels sprouts and onion to the mix if you feel a little daring!

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 35 mins

Serves: 2 to 4


  • 3/4 lb. gluten-free penne pasta, such as Jovial Brown Rice, Penne Rigate
  • 2 tbs virgin olive oil, (and a little for drizzling)
  • 1 large minced, shallot
  • 1/3 cup Pinot Grigio (or another dry white wine)
  • 1 bunch collard greens- remove center ribs, and halve crosswise
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, about 1 lb. cut into medium-sized florets
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely grated lemon zest
  • a touch of coarse salt
  • optional: Parmesan or pecorino cheese,  a handful of toasted almonds or walnuts,  a handful of roasted brussels sprouts, ¼ onion, ½ potato.


Preheat oven to 450°F, prepare collard greens, shallot, zest and cauliflower.

Roast Cauliflower

Place the cauliflower on a rimmed baking, sheet drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Once oven reaches 450°F, place cauliflower in oven and cook until tender, should take approximately 20 minutes.  Stir twice. Remove from oven.

Boil Penne Pasta

Meanwhile, in a large pot,  heat salted water until boiling. Cook pasta according to label directions. Drain pasta, but reserve ½-¾ cups of pasta water for later.

Combine Ingredients

In a medium-sized pot, heat 1 tbs olive oil at a medium temperature. Add minced shallot to cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Pour wine into pot and cook for about 5 minutes until it has nearly evaporated. Add collard greens and cook for about 8 minutes or until bright in hue and slightly tender. Stir occasionally. Add the cauliflower, lemon, and cooked pasta to the pot. Cook until both the cauliflower and penne are hot. Continuously stir while adding enough of reserve pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. This should take about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with oil.

Serve and enjoy!

An Evening at The Source

the Source

For those not familiar with The Source, this indoor food market is situated squarely in Denver’s trendy River North (RiNo. The Source is a collaborative space containing restaurants, artisan markets, a bakery, coffee shop and a butcher shop.

The Source is located in a giant warehouse that was once a brick foundry. The tall ceilings and industrial flourishes of The Source give it a modern vibe. My friend and I decided to check out The Source recently for a relaxed night out.We started our evening in the center of The Source at the RiNo Yacht Club.

The RiNo Yacht Club: Handcrafted to Perfection

Yacht Club Drink Menu, Leyla Eraybar, Leyla Eraybar Reviews


The Yacht Club, Leyla Eraybar, Restaurant Reviews,This bar and lounge with an accompanying seating area boasts an impressive selection of craft drinks.The uniformly hip wait staff provided outstanding service and was very attentive throughout the course of our time there. The selection of drinks at RiNo Yacht Club were strong and flavorful.I ordered the Princess Buttercup – a drink made of tea infused gin, absinthe, egg whites, and a few other complex flavors. The Princess Buttercup was aromatic and full textured with a potent undercurrent of bitters.Once we finished our cocktails at the RiNo Yacht Club we decided that it was time for street tacos. Comida is conveniently located in The Source.


Comida Delivers

Comida MenuComida was known in Denver for their pink food truck prior to the restaurant opening.  Although the establishments located in The Source tend to share an earnestly hipster aesthetic, Comida differentiates itself with an air of sophistication. The staff here was conscientious and friendly. Their tacos are consistently filling and affordably priced. I ordered a Camarones a la Diabla taco and a Sombra Shroom Tostada.  The Camarones a la Diabla taco was an exercise in spice and was mouth-wateringly good. The taco consists of shrimp over jalapeño grits with pico de gallo, avocado, lime, house crema and cotija.  The Sombra Shroom Tostada is topped with mushrooms in Sombra Mezcal over roasted garlic mash with crema and cotija,  The Sombra Shroom Tostada also had a little to heat to it.

If you venture to The Source, make sure to stop by Comida or the RiNo Yacht Club, you will not be disappointed.


10 Tasty Snacks Under 200 Calories

Sometimes, you just need to satiate your hunger in between meals.  While snacking can be a source of endless calories and sugar, there are some great good to snacks that are tasty and healthy.  Here are twenty ideas:

1. Jolly Time Butter-Light Pop Corn: popcorn makes a great snack, especially when it is prepared without endless butter and salt.  This tasty gluten free snack is the perfect way to add whole grains to your diet.

2. Weight Watcher’s String Cheese & Fruit:  Weight Watcher’s string cheese is a popular staple in my fridge.  While it’s not the most filling snack at 50 calories, it’s great when paired with fruit.

3. Baby Carrots and Low-fat Ranch Dressing:  Enjoy 28 baby carrots and 1 tbsp of low fat ranch-dressing for less than 200 calories.

4. Almonds:  Oven roasted sea salt almonds are a great snack and a great source of protein.  Blue Diamond makes a great to go pack and one service is only 100 calories.

5. Fruit: When your in need of some natural sugar.  Try fruit.  A fruit salad is the healthiest snack and you can get a 200 calorie portion.

6. Pop Chips: This potato chip alternative is made from corn.  It’s very healthy, crunchy, and delicious and only 100 calories.

7.  Frozen Grapes: A great summer snack, especially when lounging around the pool.  One cup is only 104 calories.

8. Cottage Cheese and Fruit: A serving of low fat cottage cheese is only 81 calories and some fruit! Amazing!

9. Kale Chips:  Easy to make a t home, very healthy, and salty and delicious.  It’s even healthier if you use Pam instead of olive oil.

10. Skinny Tropical Fruit Smoothie: Mix some fruit, ice, and milk into a blender and enjoy a cold refreshing beverage.

Leyla Eraybar’s Famous Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Leyla Eraybar Muffin

Leyla Eraybar’s famous Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

The best way to start your day is with oatmeal.  It’s even better when your oatmeal is baked into a chocolate banana muffin.  I’ve been starting my day with one of these muffins for the past week, and it is amazing!  You might say, but Leyla, I don’t have time to bake.  These muffins are very easy to make, don’t take much time to bake, and actually very nutritious.

Let’s journey on into making the muffins!

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need:

  • 3 Cups of Gluten Free Oats (Quick cooking is what I’m using)
  • 1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Gluten Free Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Skim Milk
  • 3/4 Cups of Mashed Bananas
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract (yum!)
  • 3/4 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (can sub Carob chips or Raisins)

Let’s Get Bakin’:

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  This recipe will make roughly 10 full size muffins and 18 mini muffins.  Mist your cups in the muffin tin.
  2. Combine your dry ingredients.  That means oats, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix until entirely mixed.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk your eggs, egg whites, mashed banana, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Add all wet ingredients to the dry ones in the larger bowl.  Whisky together.  Add your chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the muffin cups.  Bake for around 22 minutes.  A toothpick or fork should come out clean.

Each muffin is 127 calories, 22 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.

Enjoy your muffins!




Quinoa, Roasted Yam & Pepitas with Cumin-Lime Dressing

Quinoa, Roasted Yam & Pepitas with Cumin-Lime Dressing

Prep time:   15 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:   35 mins

This is a Main Course that serves four people as a meal and eight people as a side dish.


1 medium yam that is peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
1 tsb olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 cups of quinoa (cooked)
1 bell pepper (diced)
1 bunch of green onion (sliced)
1 can of lentils (2 cups cooked)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Cumin-Lime Dressing Ingredients:

3 tbs lime marmalade
3 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove (minced)
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ tbsp ground cumin
Large pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Place the yams on the baking sheet. Add olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, until tender.

In a bowl, combine quinoa,  green onion, sweet bell pepper, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and cooked yam.
In a small bowl combine  olive oil, lime marmalade, lime juice, garlic, cumin and sea salt. Whisk to froth. Pour dressing over the quinoa-yam mixture. Toss to coat and serve immediately.


Yelp’s Top 5 Most Popular Restaurants for Gluten Free and Vegan Foodies

In every city, there are a select few restaurants and eateries that cater to the gluten free and vegan foodies of the town.  Denver is no exception.  Here are the most rated restaurants that fit that bill in Denver.

5. Beet Box – Beet Box located on 1030 E 22nd Ave in Northwest Denver.  They are known for their vegan pastries. Be sure to try their gluten, vegan, and dairy free vanilla almond donut.

4. True Food Kitchen – True Food Kitchen is located at 2800 E 2nd Ave, Suite 101 in Cherry Creek, Southeast.  Be sure to try their “Inside Out” Quinoa Burger (without the Feta).

3. Hops & Pie – 3920 Tennyson St in Northwest Denver.  Be sure to try their Gluten free pizza with Vegan Alternative cheeses like House made Seitan or House Smoked Tofu.

2. Linger – 2030 W 30th Ave in Denver Highland, Northwest. Go in and ask for their African Roasted Tomato and Peanut Soup.

1. Root Down – 1600 W 33rd Ave in Highland, Northwest Denver.  With an entirely separate Gluten free kitchen, there is no need to fear any cross contamination.   Be sure to try their bottomless mimosas for $13.

Bon Appétit 

Avocado Spring Rolls

Hey Everyone,
Here’s a cool new recipe I found.  I can never really enjoy eggrolls or spring rolls because of the gluten in them.  I found this amazing Avocado Spring Rolls recipe that I knew I had to try.  It uses Rice paper as a wrap!  How amazing! They taste amazing, and I can’t recommend them enough.
  • 2 very ipe avocadoes
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped sundried tomatoes sitting in oil
  • 3 tablespoonsof minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of very fine chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon Thai yellow curry paste
  • Rice paper wrappers (speciality)
  • Water, for softening wrappers
  • Peanut oil (or other oil), for frying
  1. Mash your avocado with lime juice until they are chunky.
  2. Add tomatoes, onions, cilantro and curry paste together. Mix until they are combined.
  3. Dip your rice paper wrappers in water and let excess drip dry.
  4. Place all on cutting board and put 1 tablespoon of filling in center at one end of your wrapper. Roll the end over and tuck the sides in and continue to roll up – like a burrito.
  5. Heat about 1 or 2 inches of peanut oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.
  6. Place your prepared spring rolls in this hot oil.
  7. Fry on each side until golden brown.
  8. Remove to a mesh cooling rack to drain excess oil.
  9. Serve with store-bought sweet chili sauce.

Bon Appetit,


Quinoa Red Lentil Stew

Hey Everyone,

I just discovered this amazing recipe which was posted on the Savvy Vegetarian, and I knew I  had to try it. I have been on a real lentils kick lately, and I haven’t been doing much with them lately.  Also, Quiona is super healthy, and I’ve been trying to make an effort to eat more of it.

But, I decided to customize this recipe more for my own tastes. The ingredients list may seem long. but it’s really not too bad. Plus, all of the seasonings make it very tasty and flavorful.

The Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

3/4 cup uncooked small red lentils
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 small head cauliflower, cut up
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 small pattypan squash, cut up
1 bay leaf
2 inch piece cinnamon stick
2 slices fresh ginger, minced
1 Thai bird’s eye chili, sliced (seeds removed if you want less heat)
6 cups water or unsalted soup stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
2 cups chopped fresh kale


Start by washing the  lentils and quinoa and drain in a sieve.
Place all of the ingredients in a large slow cooker. (or you can cook on the stove)
Add your chopped vegetables, except fresh cilantro and kale.
Add all of your seasonings.
Add stock/water.
Mix well and cover with lid.
Cook on ‘Low’ for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

In the last half hour of cooking, turn the heat up to ‘High’ and add the fresh cilantro and kale.
Cover and let finish cooking.

Bone Appetit, 



Leyla Eraybar – Gluten Free Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Delectable Gluten Free Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Muffins that are easy to make at home and will please the gluten free foodie in your life!