A Sweet, Homemade (Gluten-Free) Valentine’s Day Meal

Guest Post Contributed by Elizabeth Barbone

I know lots of folks love to spend Valentine’s Day enjoying a meal at a restaurant. I’m not one of them! Thanks to my many food allergies, the thought of eating out on such a busy night makes me nervous. Instead I prepare something at home that I know is safe. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, I think I’ll make this quick and easy menu!

Avocado and Grapefruit Salad
From “How to Cook Gluten-Free” by Elizabeth Barbone (Lake Isle Press, 2012)

Be sure to pick up your avocados a few days before Valentine’s Day. This way you’ll be sure to have ripe avocados for this delicious and heart-healthy salad!

5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 cups)
1/4 cup citrus vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 large Hass avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1 large red grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
Citrus Vinaigrette
1 lemon
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
3 tablespoons exta-virgin olive oil
1/2 clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt

1. Put the spinach in a large bowl. Drizzle a little of the vinaigrette over the top and toss with salad tongs to combine. Add more vinaigrette as needed. You want the vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Reserve a little of the vinaigrette for drizzling over the top of the salad.

2. Arrange the spinach on a platter or individual plates. Top with the avocado slices and grapefruit sections. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.  Serves four.

Grate the zest (just the yellow outside) from the lemon and set it aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out 1 tablespoon juice. (Save the rest of the lemon for other uses.) Whisk together the lemon juice and mustard. Add the oil in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly. When all the oil is added, whisk in the garlic, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Use immediately.  Makes about 1/4 cup vinaigrette.

Pineapple-Coconut Oven Roasted Shrimp 

Freshly ground pepper nicely balances the slightly sweet flavor of the pineapple and coconut in this easy-to-prepare shrimp dish.

2 ½ cups sweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (If you prefer a slight “kick” to your shrimp, add a little more
freshly ground pepper.)
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup coconut milk (not coconut cream or coconut water)
1 ½ pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Large zip-closure plastic bag

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease large baking sheet with non-stick gluten-free cooking spray. Place coconut and black pepper in bowl of food processor. Pulse until fine. Set aside.

2. Combine coconut milk and pineapple juice in large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add shrimp. Allow to marinate for five minutes. (Keep your eye on the timer. Marinating the shrimp for longer than five minutes can cause the shrimp to become mushy. A quick marinade is best.)

3. Place half the finely chopped coconut in a plastic bag. Using a slotted spoon, remove half the shrimp from marinade. Shake the slotted spoon slightly as you remove the shrimp from the  marinade to drain it. Place shrimp in the plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake to coat shrimp. A light coat of coconut should cling to the shrimp. Don’t worry if the shrimp isn’t fully coated.

4.  Remove shrimp from bag and place in rows on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining coconut and shrimp.

5. Bake until shrimp is pink and firm, about 18-20 minutes. Serves four.


This Italian dessert’s name means “drowned” and it couldn’t be easier to make. Simply place a generous scoop of gluten-free ice cream (vanilla or chocolate work best) in a bowl.  Pour a shot of hot espresso or ¼ cup of strong hot coffee over the ice cream. Serve immediately. For an even more grown-up treat, consider adding your favorite liquor to the coffee before pouring it over the ice cream.

Chocolate Cupcakes

What would Valentine’s Day be without a little chocolate? My chocolate cake recipe makes fabulous cupcakes!  Simply divide the batter evenly between 20 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  For Valentine’s Day, throw a handful of gluten-free chocolate chips into the batter before baking for an extra-chocolaty treat.  Then, when the cupcakes have cooled, ice them with pale pink icing. To do this, stir a little pink or red food color into white icing.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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