Archive for the 'Wheat-Free' Category



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.

Easy-Peasy Chocolate Fudge

This chocolate fudge recipe originally came to me via my friend Jake’s mother, who made it in the form of refrigerator drop cookies, and they totally blew my mind as the most decadent, easy, and fast kind of cookie I’d ever encountered. Since she gave me the recipe, I’ve made them many many times, with a slew of different ingredients depending on the occasion, season, or friend I wanted to share it with. For this holiday season, I knew I wanted to have these chocolate morsels in my cookie gift boxes, but I didn’t want them to take the same form as usual. I decided to mix it up a little, and make it into fudge! Really, the recipe is exactly the same, but I poured the batter into a brownie pan and after it hardened I cut it into small squares. This way, it looks different from the other cookies I’ve been making, but tastes exactly the same as if it had been a fudgey drop cookie. Mmm.

The recipe is flexible – add whatever extra flavors or textures that you want. I can imagine it tasting delicious without the peanut butter and instead adding crushed candy canes and peppermint extract for the holiday season! Alternatively, add coffee (or espresso powder) into the hot melted chocolate and give your treats an extra energy kick. You could even add coconut extract to the recipe, and pat extra dried coconut onto the top of the fudge for a decorative snow-like treat.

Karen’s Refrigerator Fudge/Cookies Basic Ingredients:

1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup very heavy soy creamer, or other non-dairy milk (I use almond milk and then the fudge is not quite as heavy)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups quick oats*

This time, I added:
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of unsalted peanuts, for topping

If you want to make these into drop cookies, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you want to make fudge, line a brownie pan with parchment paper.
Combine the Earth Balance, cream, and sugar in a two-quart saucepan. Warm over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat, and add vanilla and chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate melts completely.
Fold in the oats (and if you are using them, add the peanut butter and coconut at this point too), and stir until thoroughly combined.
For cookies: Drop the batter in even, large spoonfuls onto your prepared cookie sheet and refrigerate until hardened. After they are hard, you can leave the cookies in a covered container at room temperature.
For fudge: Spread batter into your prepared brownie pan, and smooth out the top. Sprinkle extra coconut, peanuts, crushed candy canes, or whatever topping you’d like to use on the top and press it down slightly so it sticks to the fudge. Let the fudge harden in the fridge, then take it out and slice into small cubes. Like the cookies, these can be left at room temperature in a closed container until you want to eat them.

*If you want your cookies/fudge to be gluten-free, make sure you check to see if your oats are processed in the same facility as wheat or are guaranteed to be gluten-free. Alternatively, you can use quinoa flakes as a good gluten-free, and protein-packed substitute.

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!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Whipped Coconut Topping

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday yesterday, filled with family and friends, and of course lots of delicious food. Based on my own experience, I suspect that you stuffed yourselves, although hopefully not as much as I did! But, however full I felt last night (and still this morning!), I always enjoy looking at more food, so here is a sample of what I made and ate last night.

For our feast, I made a Pumpkin Cheesecake and topped it with a rich Whipped Coconut Creme. It tasted quite delicious, although definitely more like a pumpkin pie than a cheesecake. I think if I had used a Vitamix or a more powerful food processor, I could have gotten the filling to have a more even consistency (like the one in the original recipe’s picture, here), but nonetheless it tasted great. It had a wonderful pumpkin taste, and the pecans in the crust complemented the fall flavors very nicely. We had a little bit of extra crust dough that I baked separately, and it ended up thick and tasty as a simple shortbread-like cookie on it’s own. The coconut creme was from a recipe in Sweet Freedom, for a sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free vegan whipped cream. Dolloped on top of the pie, it was rich, sweet, and certainly very creamy, but not as light and fluffy as whipped cream should be. Our consensus was that it would have been very good as a fruit tart filling, and next time I make one I will definitely use this recipe!

Gluten-Free, Refined-Sugar-Free, Vegan and Delicious Pumpkin Scones

Yes, believe what the title says. It is definitely possible to make delicious vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free desserts. I’m slowly converting everyone I know, and I hope to convert you too, at least to the idea that this is a possible baking feat. I’m so used to adapting regular recipes, and have figured out good proportions of animal-friendly (as well as gluten-free and sugar-free) ingredients to make yummy veganized versions, but this time I found a recipe online that was already perfect and fit all my dietary requirements. Plus, it was already tested and blogged about, and even photographed so I could see evidence that this recipe actually worked. You can find all of that proof, plus the recipe, right here. I followed the recipe to a T, with a tiny addition of half a cup of chopped pecans mixed into the batter and sprinkled on the top before baking. I have to admit – these scones are a little bit muffin-like in consistency (they had a fluffier and a little more cake-like texture than most scones do), but they are so delicious you won’t care at all. You’ll eat tons of them. Especially because they are pumpkin (my favorite flavor), have no gluten, no refined sugar, no dairy and no eggs. So they practically don’t exist or have calories or anything, right?

Autumn Crunch

Fall is in the air – even here, in California, we have beautiful autumn leaves drifting down from the trees and blanketing our yards. They are definitely lots of fun to jump on and scrunch beneath your feet! However, not all the aspects of Fall are that alluring. With the school-based schedule crunch of final papers and projects looming over my head, and as the shorter, colder, darker days continue, I knew I needed something to look forward to and entice me out of bed with…So, using my dried persimmons and all the sweet warm spices I could think of, I created an autumnal breakfast treat to look forward to when I wake up.

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This Persimmon Granola is perfect paired with almond milk for a yummy breakfast, but it also is tasty plain as a snack, and I’m sure it would be good with vanilla ice cream as a crunchy topping.

You can make this granola with any mix of nuts, spices, and dried fruits that you have on hand. I think the persimmons give it a wonderful Fall flavor and color, but raisins or dates would be delicious as well. You can add brown sugar, agave, or honey if you want added sweetness, but I am enjoying the subtle sweetness of the brown rice syrup on it’s own; it really makes the persimmon’s natural sweet taste stand out. And the spices of course are flexible – add whatever you like best. My house was filled with great smells after baking this!

Ingredients:

5 cups oats
2 cups raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded & unsweetened dried coconut
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tblsp. vegetable oil

2 cups chopped dried persimmons (it is easy to cut them with scissors into bite-sized pieces).

Preheat your oven to 300F. Cover two jelly-roll pans (cookie sheets with sides) with aluminum foil (this will make clean-up easier).
In a very large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, spices, and salt.
In a small saucepan, heat the applesauce, brown rice syrup, and oil. Stir constantly, till they are smooth.
Mix the heated liquid mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on your prepared pans.
Bake the granola for about 40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is a deep golden brown color.
Remove the pans from the oven, and cool completely.
Stir your chopped dried persimmons into the granola after it is cool.
Store the granola in a large, airtight container.

Dried Persimmons

I have a large Fuyu Persimmon tree in my front yard, and the fruits are ripe and ready for picking right now. These are the kind that stay hard and crunchy when ripe. They are delicious and sweet and some young friends of mine told me the “look a lot like little pumpkins.” I agree – except when you slice them through the middle horizontally, then I think they look like flowers. Check it out:

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Two years ago when we had our first Persimmon harvest, we had so many. We were eating them with every meal (sliced on top of green salads, mixed into fruit salads, on the side of every dish), and pureeing them and then mixing the mush into all of our baked goods. We ate persimmon cookies, persimmon cake, persimmon bread. You name it, we made it. I think we even tried to make a persimmon pudding, but that’s much better to make with the Hachiya variety of persimmons that get super soft and mushy when ripe. Recently, I’ve been on a sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan diet which, while difficult at first, has gotten a lot easier in the last week or so. I’m pretty comfortable experimenting with my baking, and adapting my recipes to fit any type of dietary restrictions, but honestly I have been baking less since changing my eating habits (also, I’ve had a lot less time to bake because of being in school). So I haven’t yet made any persimmon baked goods. I’ve been eating them raw and whole, like apples. It’s such an easy snack to take to classes with me! But, we have a lot, and I decided to try something new with them.

I started out by drying my persimmons, by slicing them thinly and laying them on metal cooling racks. If you want to do this at home, you can really do it with any type of fruit I think. If you have a dehydrator that would speed up the the process and make it a little easier, but since I don’t have one, I’m using my oven. It just means I can’t bake anything for a few days while the persimmons are drying in there, but somehow I’ll manage.

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I put the cooling racks in my oven (on top of the regular oven racks) and left the oven door a tiny tiny crack open so the air could circulate. I didn’t turn the oven on, but the pilot light kept the oven slightly warm and helped dry out the persimmon slices. I left them in for a day and a half, checking periodically and flipping them over to make sure the sides were drying evenly. You can decide when they’re done by checking to see how dry and crunchy they are – you want them pretty dry but still a little chewy. They’re very sweet and tasty for eating as a snack, but I have bigger plans for these babies. I’m posting these pictures as a teaser, so you’ll have to check in later to see the full recipe for what I’m going to make with them!

Vegan Lemon Curd!

For months, I’ve been trying to come up with a vegan Lemon Curd recipe. I’ve seen versions in a variety of cookbooks and online that just didn’t do the trick. This recipe ended up being perfect and I’m so happy to have it! The Lemon Curd is tangy and is a great cake filling, so that it will contrast with the sweetness of frosting – I’m using it in a coconut cake that I will post about soon, so keep checking back here to see the final reviews.

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This recipe makes about two cups worth of Lemon Curd. It’s delicious. You can certainly use it for anything you’d like; I’d eat it on toast, muffins, scones, or, as it was quite thick, I could see using it also as a filling for Lemon Bars! For that, you might have to let the mixture boil for an extra minute so that it thickens even more – but remember to stir with a whisk the whole time so it doesn’t burn!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup cold water
1 3/4 cups white sugar
4 Tblsp. cornstarch
3 Tblsp. thinly grated lemon zest (I used 3 large lemons to get this amount), divided
2 Tblsp. Earth Balance margarine
3/8 cup (6 Tblsp.) unsweetened plain almond milk

Combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and 1 Tablespoon of the lemon zest in a blender. Blend for a few seconds until mixed well.
Pour mixture into a saucepan and add the rest of the lemon zest. Whisk quickly while pot is over medium heat. You want to make sure you are stirring constantly until it comes to a full boil.
Stop stirring and let the lemony liquid boil on its own for 1 minute. It should thicken and turn somewhat clear.
Add almond milk and Earth Balance, and stir in well with the whisk.
Remove pot from heat. Cool the curd in room temperature air, then you can refrigerate it in a covered container until you want to use it.
It will continue thickening as it cools. This should last about 2 weeks while refrigerated and covered.


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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!