Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Menu Planner for December 4-10

Autumn Veggie Paella

Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus

This time of year, I have a lot of fun using winter squash in new and different ways. This week I was craving a vegetable paella because one of my favorite spices is saffron.  I find this spice incredibly flavorful and also amazing because it is “derived from the dried stigma of the flower of the saffron crocus” and “it takes 4000 flowers to create 1 ounce!”   I also wanted to use my butternut squash so I decided to create the dish above, Autumn Veggie Paella.  (recipe below)



Also, this week’s fall fruit is Persimmon. I picked this fruit because it is not only in season, it is also such a beautiful and tasty food.  However, you have to be careful when you eat them!

There are two main varieties (that I am aware of) and the one with a pointy bottom needs to be super ripe (almost squishy) before you eat it, otherwise it makes your mouth fuzzy.  The other one (shaped like a pumpkin in the picture to the left) doesn’t need to be really ripe, but do taste better if pretty soft.

I was intrigued by Ali’s Plum Upside Down Cake at Whole Life Nutrition. But I didn’t have any plums, so I decided to use my one ripe persimmon and apples to make the top of my cake.  Also, her cake called for applesauce, which I also didn’t have.  But I did have cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving so I used this instead.  Also, I was out of agave, so I used honey.

To tell you the truth, I’ve had an “upside down” kind of week, between sleep deprivation and my 11 month old getting his first molers.  But this cake turned out great and has helped me remain sane among the chaos and “upside-downess”!  I hope you enjoy it too if you make it.

Persimmon Apple Upside-Down Cake

Persimmon Apple Upside-Down Cake

This week’s dairy-free and gluten-free menu planner:

Monday: Autumn Veggie Paella
Tuesday: Beef or Turkey Tacos and “Cashew Cheese”
Wednesday: Chicken with Cilantro Peanut Sauce
Nut Crusted Tilapia
Friday: Oven “Fried” Rosemary Chicken

Salads and Sides:
Roasted Fall Veggies
Quinoa Pilaf
Persimmon Avocado Salad with Poppy seed dressing
Potato Patties with apple

And for dessert:
Gluten-Free Persimmon Apple Upside Down Cake

Here are a couple recipes for you to try:

Autumn Veggie Paella
Servings: 4

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1″   cubes

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup white basmati rice, or brown rice

2 cups vegetable stock (3 cups for brown rice)

½ teaspoon saffron threads

½ teaspoon salt

2 dashes cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

1 can garbanzo beans

1 cup frozen peas

parsley to garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium-high heat and add the onions.  Saute until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 or so minutes.  Add the red bell pepper, butternut squash pieces, and garlic and saute for another 5 minutes or so on medium heat.
  2. Add the rice, stock, saffron, salt, cayenne, and paprika and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes for the white rice, or 40 minutes for the brown rice.  When paella is almost done, add the garbanzo beans and frozen peas and mix into the rice.  Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Gluten-Free Persimmon Apple Upside Down Cake

2 Tbsp. butter,softened, or organic palm shortening (Ali used shortening but I used butter)

2 Tbsp. agave nectar, maple syrup or honey

2 apples, cut into thin slices horizontally

1 persimmon, cut into thin slices horizontally

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond meal flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup butter, softened, or organic palm shortening

1/3 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or honey

1/3 cup applesauce or cranberry sauce

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup apple-juice or non-dairy milk


  1. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.  Or, I didn’t have parchment paper, so I used a spring form pan and greased it generously on all sides.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tbsp. butter or shortening and agave with a fork.  Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, using a spatula or back of a spoon.  Arrange the persimmon and apple slices over the bottom of the pan.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk together.  In another bowl, cream together the butter or shortening and agave nectar.  Add the applesauce or cranberry sauce, vanilla and beat again.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and beat together.  Add the apple juice or milk as you are mixing.  You can use an electric mixer or just beat in a bowl with a spoon.  If the consistency is too dry, add a little more juice or milk.
  4. Spread batter evenly over the fruit.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  If using parchment paper, let the cake set for a few minutes.  Then invert it onto a plate or platter.  I waited a bit longer to take my cake out of the spring form pan but it came out very nicely.  Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!
  5. Again, the original recipe is at Whole Life Nutrition.

If you make any of these recipes, I’d love to hear from you about how they turned out!  thank you!

Here are some other great Gluten-Free menus for this week:

Cheryl at GFGoodness (the Menu Swap organizer)

Sea at Book of Yum

Kim at Gluten-Free is Life

Asparagus thin

Lilac Kitchen

Angela’s Kitchen

Fresh Ginger

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  1. Here is my menu plan for the week. I didn’t use persimmons, but I would love to try them sometime!


    Thanks for hosting!

  2. Great menu! Thanks for hosting this week. I am loving that it is gluten and dairy free, as we are also!

    My post is up: http://angelaskitchen.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/menu-plan-monday-december-1-2008/

  3. Those recipes sound divine!


  1. […] for Menu Plan Monday for an amazing list of menu plans.  And for gluten free menus, go see Sara at Heart of Cooking who is hosting this week.  Her menu is gluten and dairy free!  Woo-hoo!  She picked persimmon as […]

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