SIZZLE SIMMER SAUTÉ–Mindful Meals: plant-based, gluten-free, magnificent

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

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Fifteen years ago Kele Siegel was diagnosed with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where individuals develop intolerance to gluten. As a result, she started creating most of her own food. Soon after, she became allergic to chicken and eggs, “That’s when I said why not go full vegan? I’ve always loved cooking at home. And when COVID hit, I started playing around with food for people who were interested in eating plant-based,” explained Siegel.

In October 2021, Siegel opened The Mindful Table, a gluten-free and vegan deli and bakery located in Perrysburg’s Levis Commons. “It’s all about having options for people with allergies,” she said. Each day Siegel creates cold and hot deli items such as salads, soup, tacos, lasagna and buffalo chicken meatballs. The deli is carryout only, but items can be ordered and picked up later in the day. “It has really become a destination for people from all over to come and get great food they can’t get anywhere else,” said Siegel.

Kele Siegel

Siegel is not only a great cook but is gracious in offering advice to those who are looking to modify their diets. “The best way to become gluten-free or plant-based is don’t take out everything at once,” she suggested. “One week take out the meat, then the next dairy. Don’t be hard on yourself. Take it one step at a time and enjoy the process instead of dreading not being able to eat something.” 

Staple foods Siegel suggested to have on hand include gluten-free pasta, gluten-free crackers and hummus for snacking, and dairy-free mayonnaise, sour cream and cheeses. “TVP or texturized vegetable protein is a must. It comes dehydrated and it takes on the flavor of what you are cooking,” she said. “Jarred and seasoned artichoke hearts can be shredded and used in place of chicken.” 

Here are a few of Siegel’s recipes which include her go-to brands for plant-based and gluten-free items. Products listed can be found in local grocery stores including Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme and Meijer. To view Siegel’s 25 favorite products list, 


Veggie Pizza

“Not all gluten-free doughs are created equal,” said Seigel. Siegel prefers O’Doughs flatbread for her pizzas which can be found at Kroger. “They come in a pack of three, are super affordable and taste better than anything else out there,” she added. Be sure the crust is cool before topping. “No one wants warm cream cheese on their veggie pizza.”
2 servings

  • 1 gluten-free flatbread (O’Doughs)
  • 1/2 container dairy-free cream cheese (Kite hill, chive)
  • 1/2 crown broccoli
  • 1 handful cauliflower
  • 1 handful red onion
  • 1 handful carrot
  • 1 handful shredded vegan cheese (Violife)

Spread cream cheese evenly over the entire crust, leaving a little space around the edges so it is easier to eat. 

Chop all veggies and spread them over the cream cheese. Press the veggies down to make sure they don’t fall off. Top with shredded cheese.

Cover and place in the fridge until ready to eat. 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

“The frosting is whipped, so it’s light and fluffy,” said Siegel. “Adding a few strawberry slices gives the cupcakes a bit more texture.” 
6-8 servings

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (Nameste)
  • 8 tablespoons plant-based butter, melted (Earthly Balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 spoonful plant-based sour cream (Good Karma)
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 1 cup Lakanto drinking chocolate or hot chocolate mix, divided
  • 1 container plant-based cream cheese (Kite hill)
  • Fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 350 F. To a mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 cup of the drinking chocolate or cocoa, salt and sugar. Mix for a few seconds and let sit.

To a microwave-safe bowl, add butter, chocolate chips and sparkling water. Heat in microwave until melted, about 1 minute 30 seconds. Stir then microwave for another 30 seconds. 

Pour chocolate mixture into dry ingredients and mix at medium speed for a few seconds. Add the sour cream and mix on high until batter is smooth.

Spray the wells of a cupcake pan with avocado oil spray or use liners. Fill wells 3/4 full of batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack the door and let cupcakes sit in the oven for another 10 minutes.

While cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. To a mixing bowl, add cream cheese, the other 1/2 of the drinking chocolate and powdered sugar. Mix on high speed until smooth. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to use. Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting. Garnish with fresh, sliced strawberries. 

Taco Salad

TVP replaces meat in this salad. TVP is dehydrated so it needs to be hydrated with warm vegetable broth, which takes about 15 minutes. To save time, make it in the morning or the night before. “I always have some on hand in my fridge,” Siegel commented. While the TVP is soaking, it will plump up and take on the flavor of the taco seasoning. 4-6 servings

  • 1 cup TVP (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 cups warm vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 1 head lettuce, shredded
  • 1 handful red onion
  • 1/2 handful green olives
  • 1/2 handful black olives
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 handful shredded vegan cheese (Violife Colby Jack Shreds)
  • 2 spoonfuls plant-based sour cream (Good Karma)
  • 1/4 cup salsa

To a mixing bowl, add TVP, warm vegetable broth and taco seasoning. 

While the TVP is soaking, chop the onion, olives, avocado and tomato.

When the TVP is rehydrated, it can be added to the salad three ways – cold, heated in the microwave, or placed in a skillet with 1/4 cup of water and cooked for 5 minutes.

Layer everything in a large bowl or smaller bowls and top with cheese, sour cream and salsa.

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