Home » Gluten-free mujaddara and a gluten-dairy-meat free challenge

Gluten-free mujaddara and a gluten-dairy-meat free challenge

You might have seen a few tweets about me radically changing my diet. I decided to participate in Yum Universe’s 30 day plant-based diet challenge.

I know when it happened, and I know how it happened. But it doesn’t mean that I am ok with letting things stay on their current path.


Five years ago, I was in a car accident and they thought I wouldn’t be able to walk. To prove them wrong I worked my way to running four miles a day and lost 125 pounds. Four years ago, I injured my knee while running a 5k. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with CRPS and was down to 3, 45 minute workouts a week. Two years ago, I decided to have a spinal cord stimulator implanted and gave up running, jumping and anything impactful. A year ago, I gave up on my body ever looking the way it did and I worked my way through enough cupcake therapy to satisfy me for 30 years.

In the past year and a half, I have been self-medicating with butter and sugar. Sure, I had good reason. My body doesn’t work right anymore. I couldn’t push it like I used to. At some point, I made the decision to stop caring about what I ate.


A month ago, I started seeing a new primary care doctor and for the first time in 2 years I was forced to know how much I weighed. I went and bought jeans last week in a size I hadn’t needed in three years. It was painfully obvious to me that I needed to start paying attention again.

(Don’t worry, this is not the end of cupcakes and cakes with real butter and eggs, this is a pause to reset my system and help break some bad habits).

So, when Yum Universe (a blog I discovered when we were both featured on Refinery29 a couple weeks ago) announced their #YU30 Fall Plant-Based Diet Challenge, I decided to jump in. So, for the next 30 days, I am eating gluten, dairy and meat free. I am hoping this helps address some of the vitamin deficiencies that popped up in my last round of blood work. I am hoping that a diet with significantly less inflammatory foods helps reduce some of the CRPS pain. But most of all, I am hoping it helps break me of my junk food habit. I want cupcakes to be a treat again, not a three day a week habit. It is time for fruity pebbles to not be my breakfast of choice.

So, let’s kick this off with one of my all time favorite naturally gluten-free, vegan dishes.

Gluten-free mujaddara recipe from FrannyCakes

An easy to make weeknight dinner that makes great leftovers for work lunches, Mujaddara is the best kind of comfort food. The spices and flavors warm you up from the inside. Rice and lentils are inexpensive pantry staples. It does’t take a whole lot of babysitting the stove and there is no gluten anywhere to be found.

gluten-free mujaddara from frannycakes

Mujaddara is an Arab dish, and it refers to rice and lentils cooked together and topped with sautéed or fried onions. The spices vary depending on who is cooking for you, but typical spices include cumin and coriander and you will often find it topped with yogurt.

Gluten-free Mujaddara
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Arabic
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4
This recipe is adapted from the first copy of Jamie Magazine that I ever bought, and might very well be a big part of why I love Jamie Oliver and just about every recipe he (and his staff) create. It is simple, inexpensive and delicious (and fairly healthy!).
  • 120 grams (1 cup) green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 120 grams (1 cup) basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Sea Salt
  • Oil, for frying (vegetable, canola, safflower – whatever you have on hand is fine)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  1. Rinse the lentils in cold water and place in a medium sauce pan and cover with water and add a generous pinch of salt (like you would add for pasta). Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer for about 20 minutes. You want the lentils to be cooked, but still have a little bite.
  2. While the lentils cook, rinse and drain the rice.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or other similar pan and add the spices. Cook them for about 30 seconds or so – you want them to become fragrant. Add the rice and stir to make sure it is coated in the spice mixture. Pour the water over the rice and stir. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes – don’t take off the cover until after the 5 minutes are over. Fluff with a fork.
  4. While your rice and lentils are cooking, you are going to start frying your onions. In a small frying pan, add enough oil to fill the pan about 1/2. Get the oil good and hot (stick a bamboo skewer in it and if bubbles form rapidly around the base, you know your oil is hot enough), and fry the onions. You may need to do it in 2-3 batches, but each one only cooks for about 2 minutes. Set them on a plate covered in a paper towel to drain when they are done.
  5. When all of your components are cooked, add the lentils and half the fried onions to the rice. Add salt to taste.
  6. Serve with yogurt or cashew cream and top with the remaining fried onions.



  1. Looks delish! YumUniverse has been a favorite blog of mine for years, I’m glad you discovered Heather’s awesomeness!

    And I totally understand where you are coming from. Your story mirrors mine in that I’ve let eating healthy and working out fall to the wayside as well. If you need an encouraging buddy, you know where to find me!

  2. DIANE says:

    Good luck, but your body needs protein from meat. And using “vegetable oil” in anything is absolutely unhealthy. Check lots of good information available and weightandwellness.com before you go ahead with this.

    • maryfran says:


      I appreciate your view, but there are plenty of vegetarian complete proteins out there. There is absolutely no biological need to eat meat, all of the nutrients in meat can be obtained from different vegetarian sources.

      As for vegetable oil, I have changed it to say oil for frying to be a little more clear that the oil can be whichever you choose to fry in. There is so little of that which would be in what you eat, that I am not too concerned with using an affordable staple that many people have on hand.

      • I agree about the vegetarian comment. 😉 As a 26-year vegetarian (and counting), the main nutrients I lack are unrelated to meat.

        Congrats on the commitment to eating dairy- and meat-free, Mary Fran! So proud and excited for you. Props for going all the way.

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