My goal as a chef is to cook for all culinary tastes. I personally stay away from gluten, and some of my clients do not eat sugar and/or carbs. As I develop recipes to accommodate these needs, I also work on keeping the savory aspects of each dish. Simply stated – my goal as a chef is to make guilt-free comfort food. 

Summer is coming to an end in Alaska which means berries are being gathered, the freezers are full of fish, the farmer’s markets are selling ripe produce, and the game meat sausages are being processed. This gluten-free Alaskan gumbo recipe was inspired by the pressure to enjoy the last minutes of summer while respecting the back-to-school pressures. 

The “stew” traditionally starts with the holy gumbo trinity, which in Louisiana this means onion, bell peppers, and celery. I use the Alaskan version for this recipe: onions, cabbage, and carrots. The proteins I recommend for the stew include pulled roast chicken or chicken thighs, cooked salmon and sausage. I personally prefer the hot smoked Indian Valley Meats polish sausage, and ideally, include a blend of pork beef and reindeer sausage. Gumbo is not complete without okra which can be found in your grocer’s freezer. I use the okra to create the unique texture of the broth (a traditional gumbo roux contains gluten) and roast a chicken to make a bone broth with onion skins, bay leaf, garlic, and peppercorns. 

This summer has been particularly challenging for Alaskans. Although we have enjoyed warm temperatures and dry days, the smoke from the numerous wildfires has created a smoky atmosphere. The chicken broth has healing properties for the lungs and respiratory system and adds collagen to the diet.

All ingredients and portions of a recipe can increase or decrease to fulfill your needs and fill your freezers. Once you understand the method and the ingredients you can shape recipes to your way of life. Adjust, adapt turn it on its side and you will be the creator of your own guilt-free Alaskan comfort food.

Alaskan Gumbo

½ Side of Sockeye (Coho or King) baked with salt and pepper broken into pieces or 1.5 cups (Note: Kings are a little fattier and add more salmon flavor)
½ Ring of Hot Smoked polish sausage from Indian Valley meats; cut in half then sliced
2 cups diced cooked chicken or chicken thighs
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks celery diced
¼ cabbage diced (about 2 cups)
1 diced bell pepper diced (I prefer red or yellow, but pick your favorite for flavor and/or color)
3 cloves chopped garlic (I love garlic so adjust to your taste)
1-quart chicken bone broth  (if you do not have time to make your own chicken broth, any broth will work)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (optional)
2 cups frozen okra
2 tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp olive oil

corn, shrimp, file, potato, turnips

Step 1
Heat a large soup pot on medium heat and add the olive oil, sausage, cabbage, carrots onions, garlic and sweat for 3 to 6 mins or until the onion becomes softened. If you are using raw chicken thighs add them now.

Step 2
To the pot add canned tomatoes, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Bring broth to a simmer for 7 minutes. Slowly add the remaining ingredients: okra, salmon, diced cooked chicken, and optional ingredients.

Step 3
Place a lid on your gumbo and turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. The liquid should be moving around but not rolling. Keep an eye on the soup to ensure it does not reduce too much and taste at least two times during this step to gauge if the mixture needs more water or broth. Simmer until the stew’s thickness to your liking.

Serve and enjoy with riced cauliflower, steamed rice, cornbread or just by itself.  The recipe will serve 4 with a bit of leftover. 

Eat well!

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Food has been my deep seeded passion since I was young. Visiting international markets, along with hosting students from around the globe exposed me to a variety of cuisines. It sparked an interest to learn and a need to devour cultural flavors. Cooking is now a hefty part of my life in social and professional circles. I have been paid to cook for over 18 years but before that I cooked for trade; firstly, because I was under the legal working age but also to gain experience. Typically, I would trade my prepping efforts for the opportunity to go to a type of restaurant I had never been to. Other times, I would babysit just to learn about another family’s culinary culture. During my early professional development years I was scrubbing vegetables, washing dishes, and working cafeteria style shifts to earn my spot as an apprentice. After completing a culinary program at Colorado Mountain College and while completing my ACF program, I gained experience working in several different venues and restaurants. I was now in need of finding my own style of culinary art. I landed with Whole Foods Market. This was where I learned about the big picture of food, from politics to fair trade. Working for a large corporation provided room for me to hone my skills in the realm of healthy and unique alternatives for classic international cuisines. Whole Foods has a broad set of clients and events that made it possible for me to embark on a personal journey of culinary discovery. There I found my puzzle master and problem-solving skills truly being utilized with creating recipes that fit different health lifestyles yet also soothed the soul. As a private chef, I am able to share what I have learned about so many dietary struggles, by helping clients find the list of foods they can enjoy while building vitality on the plate.


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