I am delighted to introduce you this month to Julie Hasson, although it is likely you have already met this dynamic women in person at one of her presentations, or you know her virtually. Julie is passionate about sharing her truly fantastic vibrant and delicious gluten-free and vegan recipes. She is a total delight in every way! Julie and I met first in Portland, OR, where she lives with her husband, Jay and their rescue dog, although when I first met Julie, at Vida Vegan Con, her kids lived at home too. Daughter Sydney was my ace assistant at my Whole Foods Market demo, and her son, dished up my big, delicious lunch at the family’s former food truck Native Bowl. Julie’s newest adventures is Gluten-Free with Julie and Kittee along with Kittee Berns.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that was certainly the case with my baking mixes.
I had been baking professionally for many years, and had written 6 dessert cookbooks at that point. My life was all about flour for as far back as I could remember, starting with baking with my mom as a young girl to working in restaurant kitchens. Baking has always been my happy place, so being able to do it professionally has always been pretty awesome.
I was in the midst of writing a pizza cookbook, and I was having a hard time ignoring the constant stomach pain and other fun things that had been going on for a few years. You know how you can ignore something for a long time, and then one day you just can’t anymore? Well that was me and my beloved friend gluten. I was literally forced to break up with wheat, rye, barely and spelt. I felt great physically, but I was devastated that I could no longer bake and eat all of the delicious things that I loved to cook. And I was knee deep in a pizza cookbook to bout!
But since I’m not one to wallow for long, I set out with a new found determination to learn how to bake in a new way. And let me just say that baking gluten-free has a giant learning curve, but making those same baked goods without eggs was unbelievably frustrating. But I am not a quitter, so I continued to experiment over and over, throwing away batch after batch of muffins and cakes, until I started learning what worked and what didn’t. My children were appalled seeing the graveyard of dead muffins that were literally unfit to eat. And then one day, about a year later, I finally created my holy grail. A perfect white cake that was vegan and gluten-free, that could be transformed into dozens of different desserts, with a twist of the ingredients. That was when I looked at my husband and said we needed to sell this cake mix, and make it easy for everyone that can’t eat gluten or eggs or dairy. I didn’t want anyone else to go through this same frustration, or expense. Buying all of the dozens of different gluten-free flours to bake is really expensive!
So having to break up with gluten was my mother of invention. It was extremely challenging at the time, but it also was a gift. It turned my life and career in a new direction. As difficult as it was at the time, I wouldn’t change it for anything. And the craziest thing is that my kids were diagnosed with celiac this past year. I was able to show that that they could navigate these waters with ease, and they could still have all of their favorite foods, just made in a new way.
Julie's Gluten-Free Easy Berry Cobbler
- 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 bag of Julie's Original Gluten-Free White Cake Mix
- 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup safflower oil, canola or melted coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 6 rounded cups fresh or frozen, not thawed raspberry, blackberries or blueberries (or sliced peaches or nectarines or a combo)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a glass or ceramic 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a small dish, mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the white cake mix, milk and oil, beating or whisking until smooth. Spread into the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle berries and fruit on top of batter, lightly pressing it in, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm to the touch and baked through. You don’t want it jiggly in the middle. Depending on your oven and if you used entirely frozen fruit, it might take an extra 10 minutes or so.
Tip: Strawberries are the only berry that doesn’t work as well for this recipe.
Julie has a box of Julie’s Original Gluten-Free White Cake Mix for one lucky winner this week. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight ET on July 25th. Good luck!
Julie Hasson is a graduate of UCLA Professional Chefs program and is the author of nine cookbooks, including Vegan Diner, Vegan Pizza, and Vegan Casseroles. She has been featured on radio and in magazines including The Cooking Channel, Veria Channel, Better, Better Portland, Good Day Oregon, Martha Stewart Radio, Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Vegetarian Times, and is a regular columnist for VegNews Magazine. She has appeared on TV segments all over the country, and can be seen monthly on Portland’s AM Northwest.
She’s owned and operated several food businesses including a bakery, catering company, Native Bowl (a beloved vegan food cart here in Portland), and Julie’s Original (a company specializing in vegan, gluten-free baking mixes).
While writing (very wheaty) Vegan Pizza, she was horrified to discover gluten was making her sick. She was forced to take her culinary work in a new direction, since she was no longer able to taste the recipes she was developing. That’s when she became obsessed with perfecting vegan, gluten-free baking.
Julies’ taken everything she’s learned through her long career, and combined it with her own culinary style to help coach others to easily navigate their gluten-free, plant-based lifestyle (including her two children, who have recently developed celiac). She also trained and worked with the Cancer Project and the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine in Washington D.C., and taught their healthy cooking curriculum in hospitals and medical facilities throughout the Portland area.
Julie lives in Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Jay run Julie’s Original. She specializes in recipes that are not only delicious, but gluten-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly.