Sunday, May 31, 2015

Israeli Salad


Ahh, spring...fresh garden greens...plants...and flowers everywhere! A happy happy time of year :)

This past weekend I enjoyed a fun visit to my local farmer's market. All visits end with a healthy dose of happiness just soaking in all the fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits and such. This last visit my daughter caught eye of a baby honey bear and it was just too cute to pass up. So yeah, I had a two year old dipping her adorable fingers into a honey bottle and loving every second.
Here is some of my pickings. I actually bought almost double of all of the above because let's be honest this will only last till the end of the weekend. Especially after making this lovely simple salad. Fresh, simple, cheap and fabulous all summer long. Not to mention all the vitamins and nutrients... 
The cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley all came from one of my favorite farms at the market. If you are local, check out Real Food Farms at Fulton Market in Grand Rapids. They have the best, I mean the best cucumbers ever! They grow in greenhouses and the cucumbers and tomatoes that you can buy now instead of in August are so mouth-watering-amazing this time of year. The crunch and sweetness are seriously unexplainable wonderfulness.
This salad is so simple that it doesn't really need a recipe. Mainly the few needed ingredients and just making sure you have a great balance of cucumbers and tomatoes. It takes a little bit of chopping, but that's most of the fun so don't be stressed. Set up your chopping station and enjoy the colors, smells and wonderfulness of fresh local food!
This time as I was chopping I couldn't help reminiscing on my life 10 years ago this week. My husband and I were packing up our lives and heading to the other side of the globe. We moved to Jerusalem, Israel of all places and this salad only brings back intense memories. Everywhere we went we ate this salad, along with loads of fresh hummus and pita. After a few weeks, we finally learned our way around the markets and bought all of the below ingredients in bulk and made salad all-the-day-long. It was so delicious I can honestly say I never tired of such meals of hummus, pita (pre-GF- days :), salad and sometimes schwarma or falafel. The foods of the Jerusalem have a special place in my heart thats' for sure.
This salad is all about balance. You can basically make it without a recipe (or shrink or double) if you put in equal parts of the cucumber and tomatoes, the parsley and onion, and the lemon and olive oil. It can be as simple as you want it, or add other herbs, garlic, or spice if you want. It is surprising though how wonderful a few simple ingredients and the simple dressing can make an amazing combo.
Some dear friends, invited us for dinner and they served this amazing chicken dish.  This salad is the perfect pair for this dish. And I will tell you that I will be most likely be making this once, if not more, a week this summer while the fresh ingredients are bountiful. Recipes like this make it easy to be gluten-free, and even lots of allergens-free. It is great for kids and big gatherings too. I love and hoard recipes like this!
So, I'm not telling you to run to your nearest farmer's market, but maybe you should start thinking about planning to make it to your market and make this recipe in the next few weeks. Seriously, it's the least you can do to add some loving and happiness to your life.
Israeli Salad Recipe
3 large cucumbers, sliced and quartered
1 pound of cherry tomatoes or 3 large tomatoes, quartered or diced (or a mix of both or whatever tomatoes you got- key to make all pieces around the same size)
1 small onion finely diced (about 2/3 cup)
1 large handful of fresh finely chopped parsley (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup of quality olive oil
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch or two of sea salt
pinch or two of cracked black pepper

Chop all of the ingredients and mix well in a large bowl, chill in the fridge for a little bit to let flavors meld together. Serve with hummus, greens, rice, chicken, schwarma, falafel, chickpea flatbread and the list could go on and on. 
See what I mean about simple. Why am I even posting this?! Well to get to you excited as I am about real food and fresh recipes! This is what got me started on the path to eating and enjoying fresh local foods that are naturally gluten-free and great for you.

I hope you enjoy (again and again) and much love and life to you!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cinnamon Swirl Oat Bread

I'm sure you have heard me say before how I started my baking career at a great company, Great Harvest Bread Co. Back in the day, it was a place where I first started learning about simple ingredients and whole foods and such. But, the obvious problem to still working and eating there is the gluten. I was actually working there in college, while I discovered my Celiacs Disease and tried to keep working there for months before I knew my body just couldn't handle even being in the same room with so much whole wheat. It was hard to leave because I just love the bread making process. The delicate care of each ingredient, the kneading and making something amazing out of a lump of dough, it is truly an art. 

This is where my love for baking began and thankfully my love didn't die with needing (or kneading :)) to eat gluten-free. Baking GF means you may have to go the extra mile with ingredients and substitutions and yada yada yada. Well, you know how hard it is! But if you are determined and have just an ounce of creativity, then with lots of practice you will find a love for baking again. Some have told me that I might have a gift for such gluten-free baking, and I can see that, we all have specialities, but if you take away the intimidation of gluten-free baking then you might find that you can do it as well. The main ingredient in good bread is lots of love and care, wasn't it our grandmothers who said such advice?

This recipe is actually my Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread, swirled with a simple coconut sugar, coconut oil and cinnamon paste. I have recently revised bread recipe that added a touch more flour to the recipe. I found that I was always adding a dusting more to it to make the dough sit up more firm. So I just changed the recipe to mirror that.  
Also, this recipe was completely the idea of a close friend that has started her GF journey over the last year and she has had so many struggles of her own with making this change. But she hasn't given up! She keeps trying new recipes and seeks out the best for their wisdom and inspiration. She has become an inspiration to me and that is how this recipe came into play. She said she has been making my Soft and Chewy Oat Bread and then swirling it with coconut oil, sugar and cinnamon. Genius! What a great idea! And as I was making it myself I was brought back to my Great Harvest days. I used to make a cinnamon swirl bread that always wooed customers. It took many hours to practice the perfect swirl to make sure all the insides would stay in the bread and make it just perfect. When I made this bread all of those skills came instantly back to life and I couldn't believe that I have not tried this before! Michele- this one is all you! Thanks for the inspiration and the love!


Cinnamon Swirl Oat Bread Recipe
Follow the Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread recipe to make the dough. I used the white rice flour option to make this recipe.

Then, roll out the dough on a parchment paper, with a rolling pin and make a 12 x12 or 12x15 inch prices of dough about 1-2 inches thick. 
Then, mix 
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 TB of cinnamon (or I have used a pumpkin pie spice blend too :))
Crumble all of the ingredients in a bowl and it turns into a crumbly paste and you can spread it all over the rolled out dough. Keep it 1 inch or so away from the edges. It is hard to write out the best way to roll this up, but I will try. I learned this when making Great Harvest breads, but if you start at one end and roll a tight roll and hold in the edges while you roll you can tuck and pinch the dough in to the whole loaf to keep it nice and tight and together. You want the loaf to be a tight roll to help it slice better and keep all the sugar cinnamon goodness inside. 
Place on a parchment paper baking sheet and dust with more cinnamon or sugar and put in a preheated 350 degree and bake 50-55 minutes. Until the crust looks brown and there is some sugar bubbling at the edges. Let cool for 20-30 minutes before you slice into this goodness for the best results!

I hope you were inspired to try this recipe out. It is one of the best I know for GF bread baking. Not to mention, no yeast, eggs, nuts or seeds. It is very allergy friendly and so nice on the gut.

Enjoy! and lots of baking love to you!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chocolate Berry Tart

I am day 2 into my 30th year and I can say I do feel older. In a good way. My hubby took me out for a night out on my birthday and we visited some of our favorite places downtown. I thought on how many of these places consisted of college aged kids and the scene was one that I craved in my 20's. So full of excitement and life. And now as I have stepped into this new chapter of 30, these scenes seem to make me tired :) And, I'm already tired with having so much less sleep per night and busy with small children needs all day. So the night out was super fab, but also a great reminder of where my heart is now. It is in a new stage of life of being totally wrapped up at home with my sweet little family. Busy from dawn to dusk and finding rest and peace at home, in my jammies, on the couch with a slice of this chocolate goodness.
Sharing the treat with my hubby and talking about all the silliness of the day. I swear I never would have thought this to be true for me one day when I was in my early 20's. You could find me at the coolest local coffee shop talking about all the cool books and adventures till midnight. Now that seems a few chapters back. I am so enjoying the new found joy of being a home-body and mommy. This stage has been the biggest adventure yet, with the biggest challenges and darkest and lightest moments of life.
Thus far that is. As you age you can see more of the big picture and you are not in such a rush.
That is the beauty and joy of celebrating another birthday. You get to reminisce and talked about where you have been and get excited for where you are going. So much can happen in a year and yet it can seem like just a day as you look back. This must be the gift and curse of growing older.
Now, to this lovely and tempting tart I have been teasing you with.  I have made this recipe a few times now and decided I better make it again and try to perfect it for my birthday. This year I decided against a traditional cake and went with this decadent tart that does not disappoint.
The recipe idea originated from a mixed collaboration of the Nourishing Gourmet's Dark Chocolate Tart mixed with also special trips to PF Changs for their flourless chocolate dome and also a local favorite Marie Catrib's famous chocolate pudding. So this is my version of a mix of all of the above. A creamy, smooth, chocolatey treat that will melt in your mouth. It may get messy, but thats ok, it will taste amazing no matter what!
 Plus it is a very easy to make , with simple ingredients, and it doesn't hurt that it is gorgeous.
Chocolate Berry Tart Recipe
{VEGAN + gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut, and refined-sugar free} 

Crust
1/2 cup of ground gluten-free oat flour (or you can sub almond flour if you can tolerate)
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of rolled gluten-free oats
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
dash of sea salt
3 TB of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of soft organic extra virgin coconut oil

Mix the above in a small bowl and then sprinkle into the bottom of a 9 inch non-stick spring form pan. Press the crust dough on the bottom of the pan and then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely before you pour the chocolate in. 

Chocolate Mouse
20 ounces of Enjoy life Chocolate Chunks (2-10 ounce bags, or about 4 cups) 
2 cans coconut cream, about 1 3/4 cups of pure coconut cream
5-10 drops of Young Living Citrus Fresh essential oil (or use 1/4 ts. of pure orange flavoring)
dash of sea salt
optional additions:
a splash of pure vanilla or maple syrup for taste

To get the best coconut cream, refrigerate 2 cans of organic full-fat coconut milk and then open the cans and scrape out the cream only. Discard or save the coconut water for a smoothie or other recipe. Then in a small saucepan pour the coconut cream and all of the chocolate into the pan. On low heat stir until t is all melted and creamy. Then add the citrus oil drops.  Turn off the heat and whisk well together and let sit until it stiffens just a bit. Then pour into the cooled spring form crust pan and put pan on a plate in the fridge to completely cool and stiffen. You can also put in the freezer to quicken this process, but try not to serve straight from freezer because the crust will be hard to cut if frozen. Add the berry sauce before serving with fresh berries.

Berry Sauce + Fresh Berries
1/4 cup of each fresh berry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry
2-3 TB of pure raw honey
1 ts. of arrowroot or tapioca starch

In a small sauce pan add the fresh berries and honey and squish the berries and honey together until you get a jam-like sauce. You can use a small strainer if you want to omit the berry seeds and just have a sauce. Or I have also quickly blended the berry sauce to grind of the seeds a bit more before serving as well. Serve with fresh berries and sauce, or decorate the very cold chocolate tart with the cooled sauce and let sit in fridge for another hour if you would like to serve cold all together.
That's it! Pretty simple and seriously delish! It is a new favorite around here and its better to share at home with friends or also in my case in jammies, on the couch, with my hubby rather than out at a restaurant way past my bedtime. You get a bedtime again, when you are 30, right? I hope so! I feel like I have earned it after a crazy decade of my 20's.
May you enjoy life and find beauty in all it's pain and joys. 
To another year of life...!
You are loved dear ones!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

I have been dreaming of these buns for years.
And, I finally got some fire in my buns {pun intended} to make them before Easter this year. 
I love it when you can enjoy a holiday recipe just like the best of 'em and not have to feel like you are an inconvenience for not being able to eat "anything" Which we all know is not true. We can actually eat so many things. But then on special occasions or in special circumstances it seems like all the hope of eating gluten-free gets thrown out the window. You loose heart and you feel jipped. I am here to tell you that is normal. It's part of the process of dealing with the loss of eating differently. "Not-eating-gluten" is so much more than "not-eating-gluten". It changes how you think. It is something to grieve as a loss and then find new ways to live and carry on. 
It could even be tied into Easter. Thinking about the life with gluten, dying, and being put to rest. And going gluten-free as a new way to live and sort of resurrection of life of sorts. 
Find ways to make eating gluten-free more normal. You make the dessert or the dish to pass at the party that you can also enjoy. This will not single you out and may even surprise your family and friends. I know this is not easy. But take baby steps and make a recipe you make again and again, so it is tried and true and will not disappoint. Doing this is a brave endeavor and shouldn't be seen as a small task. My hope for you is that you can carry on through this and be able to see some hope in the process.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, nut, egg and refined sugar-free}

1/2 cup of non-dairy milk of choice (I usually use coconut or hemp)
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of coconut sugar

Put the above in a small saucepan and warm until an almost boil. Ready to mix with the rest of the wet ingredients.

1/2 cup of currants, soaked in 1/2 cup of boiling water with 1-2 drops of orange essential oil ( I use Young Living brand to ensure edible safeness)

Put the above ingredients in a small glass bowl or Pyrex and let the currents soak for a while, or even over night to plump out and get soft.

2 TB of psyllium husk powder

Then, in a large mixing bowl, add the above psyllium and the boiling milk sugar mixture with the following wet ingredients. 

2 TB of fresh orange or other citrus juice
2 TB of olive oil
2 TB of honey
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of apple butter or sauce
1 ts. of pure vanilla

Once all of the wet ingredients are mixed well with each other, add the soaked currents. Drain excess water before dumping. Then add the following dry ingredients and fold well until you get a soft and fluffy dough.

1 cup of GF oat flour
1 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour + more for kneading and dusting
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1 ts. of ground cinnamon

Roll out dough on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 12 parts and roll each piece between your hands to make a bun like roll.  Use an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of tapioca flour for rolling and dusting if the dough is too wet or soft.

Place all 12 buns on a parchment layered baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Then whisk up the following ingredients and brush or spoon over the top of the buns and bake for another 5 minutes.

2-3 TB of raw honey with 1 TB of water whisked well 

Then pull from oven and let cool for a least and hour before adding the cross frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup of non-dairy cream cheese (I use Daiya brand)
1 TB of palm oil shortening butter flavor (can omit, but used to help keep it together)
1-2 TB of maple syrup or honey

Mix the frosting up in a small bowl and then spoon into a frosting bag or a ziplock bag works too. Cut the corner tip just a smidgen and then you can use to squirt out the lines above the buns. Go one direction first over all the buns, and then switch and cross over your first lines finishing in the other direction. 

You will come out with these gorgeous, sweet and moist buns. Perfect for Easter Sunday morning brunch or even dinner. They are too tempting to wait till then, so I snuck a bite or two. These buns and a special sweet treat. Covered in sweet honey and finger licking.


This hot cross bun recipe isn't anything miraculous but I do hope you find hope this season of new life and to look for the new ways that a resurrection is blooming in your daily life.

Much love and light to you this Holy week and Easter Sunday.