Archive for the 'Refined Sugar-Free' Category



Banana Bread – Two Variations

Spring is here! It makes me simultaneously incredibly joyful and a little bit sad. It makes it really difficult to study, teach, and sit in class while it is warm and sunny outside…So I plan on making this post quite short in my effort to stay on the computer and inside as little as possible when I don’t have to.

Last week, we had gorgeous weather, and this week it’s looking and feeling beautiful again. However, last Friday was colder, grayer, and rainier, and of course this was the morning that I had off to play. My friend Zoe had fortuitously given me some ripe bananas the evening before, and so, instead of playing, I baked this spicy, moist, fragrant, and ultimately overall delicious Banana Bread. I made two variations; one with chocolate chips, and one without. Both loaves had pecans mixed in. Feel free to throw in whatever other add-ins you prefer. You can also use all agave or all maple syrup instead of the combination I used; just think about what flavors you want to bring out. I brought half a loaf of each variation to my afternoon class, with the intention of slicing and freezing the rest to keep for a future treat. Instead, I (and friends) ate it all within two days! Since there is no refined sugar (except in the chocolate chips) and no oil, it was a delightfully healthy study-break snack. I wish I could keep enjoying it, but alas, it is all gone. Anyone have bruised bananas that they want to gift to me so I can bake more?

Banana Bread Ingredients (recipe for one loaf):

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped pecans + some for topping
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to preheated 350┬░F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl, mash bananas with Agave nectar, maple syrup, applesauce and vanilla until combined and creamy.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add the wet to dry. Sprinkle in nuts and/or chocolate chips, and stir batter until just mixed.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for one hour.

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“Tropical Vacation” Muffins

I could write something cheesy about how these orange blueberry pineapple coconut muffins will send you on a little breakfast tropical vacation, in which you will dream about going somewhere warm, sunny, with ocean breezes and a very able-bodied person answering your every whim. But honestly, I don’t want to exoticize these muffins, and all of that sounds vaguely colonialistic, so I’ll spare you the sit-next-to-a-pristine-pool-with-a-pina-colada-in-hand-fantasy and just give you the recipe for these scrumptious muffins. You’ll want to eat them forever. You might even make a second batch next week. And maybe you’ll even double that, so you can freeze some and continue enjoying them as the days pass…You might even want to eat them for breakfast every day on the way to work so that you can pretend you’re going on vacation instead of to teach and video-tape yourself looking like a fool (and using so many hand-gestures while talking to your students…). Maybe that’s just me. But I think you’ll want to bake these muffins at least once and enjoy every single fruity bite of their goodness. This is kind of a random post, but hey, it’s been a long week and it’s not over yet!

And, let’s just notice that these muffins are purely agave- and fruit-sweetened, so they’re 110% healthy, right? I can eat them all day long?

Tropical Muffin Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup water (carbonated water will make your muffins rise a bit more than regular tap water)
1/4 cup agave
1 1/2 Tblsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup diced pure pineapple
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or use cupcake papers to line the tin.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk.

In a separate bowl, dissolve the egg replacer into the orange juice, then add the water, agave, orange zest, and oil, and mix until smooth. Combine the wet ingredients with the flour mixture. Fold in the coconut, pineapple, and blueberries.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin almost to the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

SweetHeart-Healthy Banana Blueberry Spelt Muffins

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I know it’s a Hallmark Holiday, but I always love to celebrate it with lots of pink and hearts. All the love floating around just makes me smile ­čÖé

Right now, I’m student teaching in a third grade class, and the students were so thrilled about the holiday – their excitement was contageous! My Cooperating Teacher has really set up a lovely community in the classroom, where the students feel comfortable with each other and with her; the Principal even commented on Friday that the class is just like a family, where there is trust and love and safety – and where the students are so close that they want to celebrate holidays exorbitantly together! These eight and nine year olds didn’t just bring in store-bought cards for their friends for Valentine’s Day, in fact, many of them brought goody bags filled with candy and chocolate and sweet notes for every single student in the whole class! One of our tables was literally covered, piled high with pink boxes of chocolate and red-wrapped chocolate roses, and one student even gave me a foot-long Valentine’s pen! It’s pretty incredible and I plan on treasuring it for a long time. It was hard to get any academic work done on such a celebratory day!

My students inspired me and I stayed up way too late on Thursday night making them all collaged cards and I had so much fun that I ended up making cards for all my friends…And then on Friday evening I had a crafts night with my girlfriends and made more V-day cards…And Saturday I spent the evening baking these delicious Banana Blueberry Muffins with my friend Talia and of course I had to put them in the festive paper liners that my mom bought me as a surprise! Aren’t they cute? Thanks, Mom!

Talia and I are not eating sugar, and she’s currently not eating wheat, so we did a lot of experimenting and adapting, and came up with this muffin recipe using spelt flour and date sugar. We were really into how delicious the batter was, and then how tasty the muffins were after they were baked, but we were a little concerned that they might not pass the test for “normal people” who eat white flour and white sugar all the time. We asked some friends to taste them, and they said they were good! So, this recipe is a great “heart healthy” (for Valentine’s Day as well as your real beating human heart) breakfast muffin, and with all the healthy additions it is certainly a great snack and was approved by all! However, if you don’t have those specialized ingredients on hand, and don’t have the same dietary concerns, then you can easily use white sugar instead of date sugar, and use white (or whole wheat) flour instead of the spelt. You could even make this recipe into a quick-bread, which would be delicious, and you can add in nuts or chocolate chips if you want!

Banana Blueberry Spelt Muffin Ingredients:
Makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 24 mini-muffins

2 cups whole spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup date sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tblsp. ground flax seed
3/4 cup water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease your muffin tins, or line with paper liners.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
In a large bowl, beat the date sugar and oil together, then add the mashed bananas. Stir in the flax. Add the water, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
Add the flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are just combined.
Gently fold in your blueberries last.
Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full with batter. Bake regular sized muffins for 20-25 minutes, and mini-muffins only about 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they begin to brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Something Fruity, Cakey, Alternatively Sweetened

Those were the only requests made by my friend Rachel for her birthday cake. Actually, she suggested a loaf-type-dessert, but I thought that since it was her birthday after all, she should have something that more closely resembled a cake! I’ve always loved this recipe, which originated from The Candle Cafe Cookbook, and is for their Lemon-Poppyseed Muffins. However, as I made it this time with my baking buddy Julie, I took out the cane sugar (substituting date sugar instead), added extra lemon zest, and doubled the whole recipe to fit into a large bundt cake pan. I’ve never baked with date sugar before, and I wasn’t sure exactly how it would react in a cake – the results were fabulous. I barely noticed a difference from how the original recipe tastes, except for a slightly “darker” flavor, a little bit like I had added a touch of molasses. It’s nice to know that you can substitute a totally natural sweetener for the highly processed white cane sugar that is in so many baked goods, making them a little more nutritious as well as ethically healthy (i.e.: animal-friendly).

Personally, I loved this cake as it was (and I love it so dearly in muffin form too!), with tons of crunchy poppy seeds in every single bite, but I was told that it would be extra delicious with a lemon glaze drizzled over. I would do this right after taking the cake out of the oven, and as the cake cools it will create a crispy crunchy sweet top. …And after writing this post and looking at my pictures again, I’m wishing I had an extra slice leftover to nosh on right now!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins Ingredients:
Makes 12 muffins (double this recipe if you’d like to make a bundt cake)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or a combination of 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup date sugar (you can easily substitute 1/4 cup of cane sugar, if you want, and you will be back at the original recipe!)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt (fine grained)
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, slightly melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup poppy seeds
3 tsp. grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin, line tins with cupcake papers, or grease and flour a bundt pan.

Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and lemon juice until foamy. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins or bundt pan, dividing evenly and spreading flat across the top. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes for muffins, or 55 minutes for a cake – make sure to do a toothpick test by sticking a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out clean you can take the pan out of the oven. The muffins are best served while warm, but if you choose to make the cake then leave it to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before extracting it. Take your cake out of the pan and let cool completely before eating.

The Finals Crunch, Sweetened with Agave

The end of the semester somehow snuck up on me (can you believe it? It’s already December! The first night of Hanukah is tonight!) and I’m in the midst of the finals crunch at school. I have so much work it seems unbelievable, and of course this cold, rainy weather is tempting me every minute to drop my work and just cozy up and bake cookies! There’s nothing I want more than a comforting, healthy, sweet snack to eat with tea or coffee while I study and write final papers, so I took the plunge and started baking with these simple delicious treats. Of course, I got seriously distracted, and completely caught up in the pre-holiday baking whirlwind, and made a dozen or so other truly sinful sweets. Unfortunately my papers won’t seem to write themselves, as much as I hope that will magically happen overnight, so I’m going to have to wait a few days to post the photos and recipes till I actually write more and can cross things off my finals to-do list. Most of the other cookies are intensely rich and buttery, with dark chocolate, rum, sugared ginger, and icing – just what you’d expect (and want!) from holiday baking sessions. Please check back soon to see these exciting morsels! But for now, I hope you enjoy these healthier cookies which are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, protein-packed, chewy delights.

Apricot Almond Quinoa Chews

Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Ingredients:
1/2 cup almond milk
2 Tblsp. ground flax seeds
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3-1/2 cup dark agave, depending how sweet you want the cookies to be
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 Tblsp. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup quick-cooking quinoa flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
Additional chopped almonds and apricots for decorating cookies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mizing bowl, whisk together the almond milk and flax seeds and let sit for 1 minute.
Then, stir in the agave and vanilla until smooth.
Sift in the quinoa flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, and salt.
Mix to form a thick batter, then fold in the quinoa flakes, apricots, and almonds.
For each cookie, scoop 1 rounded tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet, keeping the cookies about 2 inches apart.
Sprinkle the cookie tops with a few chopped almonds and apricots, and flatten the tops with the back of a measuring cup.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and just starting to brown on the edges.
Remove the cookies form the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
Transfer them to wire racks to cool completely and store in a tightly covered container.
These cookies are best eaten the day they are made.

Cornbread with Miso-Tahini Spread

I don’t usually use baking mixes, but I had this one on hand and wanted to make a last-minute treat, so I whipped it out and set out to make it. It turned out moist, crumbly, and had a perfectly crispy crust because I baked it in a cast-iron skillet. The mix I used was from The Cravings Place, and it was gluten-free, vegan, and sugar-free (and super fast and easy!). The instructions suggested adding sugar, honey, or maple syrup if you wanted a sweeter bread…I had an inner debate about this, and ended up adding only about 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Lightly sweetened this way, the naturally sweet cornmeal flavor really shone through the bread and made for a wonderful appetizer. I made a Miso-Tahini Spread to go on top, using a recipe from the Angelica’s Kitchen Cookbook, which made the cornbread a little more savory. Good vegan and from-scratch cornbread recipes that I have tried before have been from the same Angelica’s Kitchen Cookbook, as well as Peter Berley’s cornbread recipe (these recipes are very similar, as Berley developed many of the Angelica’s recipes). While neither of these recipes are gluten-free, they could be easily adapted to be by substituting rice flour and xanthan gum instead of the wheat flour.

Miso Tahini Spread Ingredients:
Yield: 2 cups
1/3 cup mellow barley miso (I used a brown rice miso to make this gluten-free)
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cups tahini

Combine the miso with the water in a food processor. Puree until creamy.
Add the tahini, and process until smooth.
Spread liberally on top of your cornbread, crackers, or anything else you might want a savory topping on.

Decadent Chocolate Pecan Pie

Looking for a chocolate-heaven-like dessert to serve at our Thanksgiving table, I found this Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe in Ricki Heller’s cookbook Sweet Freedom. She also has it online for free, here, but everything else I’ve tried from the book is delicious so it’s definitely worth checking the full cookbook out. The recipe wasn’t quite perfectly matched to the diverse dietary restrictions and needs that our guests (and myself) required, so I took the liberty of making a few minor changes. Simply, I switched the spelt flour in the crust recipe with an equal combination of sorghum and brown rice flours, making it gluten-free. Then, because I’m not eating refined sugars right now, I used unsweetened baking chocolate instead of the chocolate chips in the filling, and I used almond butter instead of cashew butter to adapt for one of the nut allergies. What I got was just what I was looking for: A rich, heavy, purely decadent chocolate dessert that would fulfill any chocolate addict’s cravings. It was also gorgeous, especially when cut into slices and the pecan pieces shone bright in the midst of all the dark chocolate fudge. If you are looking for a holiday dessert, or really any type of chocolate treat, this is definitely the recipe to try. I fully recommend it!


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ┬ęcookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!
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