Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet Coconut Muffins (gluten and dairy free)

Well, we made it through the first phase of our move today, and yes I still made a batch a muffins this morning. I know, I'm crazy! Well, you see, there's a story. We had many wonderful friends helping us through the move and I wanted to make sure we were feeding these lovely people. So, I checked out some grocery store muffins just to make things convenient, and I just couldn't get over how, ugly, dry and expensive they looked. So, I convinced myself to use up some more ingredients at home and make this my last batch of muffins in my old kitchen. Thankfully they turned out wonderfully and I also made another batch of blueberry muffins, and a large batch of chocolate chip cookies. So, it was a very productive baking morning in the kitchen from 6-8 am. I purely enjoy it, so no complaining here.
The great thing about a hearty and moist muffin like these is that they can last you all week. If you are looking for a breakfast alternative for on-the-go days you could make a 12 muffin batch on a weekend day and have enough for the coming week to have every morning. Or if you are like me... I will probably share a few, enjoy one with a cup of tea and then maybe save the rest for a few days thereafter...Or of course you could make a few batches and freeze them and have them easily accessible to busy mornings during the week. Muffins are some of my favorite baked-good friends. You get all the goodness in one little cup-filled-muffin-tin. So perfectly wonderful, easy, and really mess-free. You should not underestimate the muffin, it is going places. Just make sure you take advantage of it's fabulous qualities and try a new homemade recipe today...yum!

Sweet Coconut Cherry Muffin Recipe (makes 12 muffins)
1 cup of sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
2 cups of shredded coconut flakes
1 1/4 cup of sucanat (or palm, coconut, or beet sugar)
1 ts. of xanthan gum
2 ts. of aluminum-free baking powder
1 ts. of ground nutmeg
1/2 ts. of sea salt
2 farm fresh eggs
1/3 cup of light olive oil, or coconut oil works too
1/2 cup of orange, lemon or grapefruit juice
2 overly ripe bananas smashed
1/2 cup of dried cherries (fresh could work too)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together first in a large mixing bowl, and then add the eggs, oil and juice with the smashed bananas, mix well and then finally add the cherries last and let sit for a few minutes to blend well and then dish with a 1/4 cup or large ladle spoon into 12 muffins tins. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 22-25 minutes. Or until golden brown. Make sure the middles and cooked thoroughly and the tops are crispy and risen. This recipe will make 12 muffins, so double if you want to make more.

These muffins turned out yummier than I expected... so good things happen when you experiment... most of the time ;) I hope you enjoy these with a a peaceful morning this holiday weekend, or at least find find space to enjoy life for all it's blessings! Much love to you today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cherry Almond Chocolate Crisp Bars (grain-free, vegan)

I'm still packing and cleaning my apartment this week. Busy busy! I haven't had the head space and time to make many meals, so we have been eating whatever we need to get rid of and creating interesting combinations. This recipe was inspired with some leftover ingredients that I felt could be thrown together to make a healthy snack amidst all the crazy business. I love homemade food, so it is always a little sad when I have other things to do than cook and bake. So, I took some time to make a little treat. These are wonderful just cut and devoured, or cut and crumbled over some coconut ice cream or other vegan ice cream. Which is definitely what I would suggest ;)
Something important to learn about whole foods eating is that snacking is quite alright. Especially when you are eating whole nutritious ingredients that are giving you energy. Eating to fuel and sustain your well being is the key to better health. That is what is wonderful about almonds. They have good oils, protein and vitamins. You really can't go wrong with eating nuts. Some say they have to avoid them because of the fat in them. This is just crazy to me. Mainly because of this false idea of how fats are bad for you. You really need those fats to feed your brain and other organs. If you were one of those people into the 90's fad diet of fat-free snackwells you may still be in recovery. I know I am. Don't let yourself believe the lie. You can do better, you need some fat for balance in your life. So grab that handful of nuts and snack away. Or better yet add some almond butter, dried fruit and make a little recipe like...

Cherry Almond Chocolate Crisp Bars Recipe
1 cup of almond butter (creamy or crunchy)
3/4 cup of ground almonds, almond meal, or raw almonds ground in a coffee grinder
1/3 cup of flaxmeal
1/3 cup of chopped dates
1/3 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 cup of dried cherries
1/2 cup of dairy-free dark chocolate chips
1 TB baking olive oil to oil the pan before pressing the batter in

Mix all the ingredients together well and press into a 8x8 or 9x13 baking tin. Either one works, it just depends on how think or thin you want your bars. Sprinkle some coconut or almonds on top and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting, or cut before you bake to make the crumbles less when you cut from pan. These bars could also be created raw, by cutting the almond milk in half and pressing the batter in the pan, refrigerating, and cutting into bars. They would be almost like a lara bar or other nut fruit raw protein bar. Make what sounds good to you...I hope you enjoy!
Well, I better get back to work. I am so excited about moving into my new kitchen and using my new dishes and just making a home of my very own kitchen. I have been renting with my husband for over 5 years since we were married and we are more than ready to have our own space to call our own. It will be fabulous! Hopefully, I will be able to create just as usual and really enjoy all the changes. I am not sure how quickly my kitchen will get unpacked, but hopefully it won't be long until another recipe... love to you all!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Date Sweetened Banana Bread

It's no secret I like to bake. I especially like to use the fresh ingredients that I have available to me. Or, even better, I love to use up the ingredients that need to be eaten or else in a few days.... thrown away. Yep, I'm talking about those overly ripe bananas sitting on the counter. I feel like I am being resourceful and domestic when I use those ripe bananas for more than throwing in the trash or compost pile. And, for those that know me well, my cooking and baking rules of thumb usually have to do with using up the most of the ingredients I can... so if I have 3/4 cup of dried fruit, but it only really needs 1/2 cup... I will throw the rest of what I have in, yeah the 3/4 to 1 cup of whatever it is.... that I why I love making granola and stir fry's so much... I just throw in what's available and needs to get eaten. I hate buying new ingredients for something, if I have some lonely foods just laying around.

It's kinda feels like you are cleaning alongside of cooking or baking. I also think part of my personality always gravitates towards simplicity... so to have less clutter and mess, with more organization gives me a little extra love in my step. Which I am doing more these days since I am packing up my kitchen in efforts to move in the next week or so to my new house. It's a big deal to move your kitchen, and I want to make sure I have a head start before the move. I am so looking forward to being in a new kitchen, yet it is bittersweet to leave a kitchen behind that you have found to love and enjoy. So, within a few short weeks, I will have a new oven, a new counter and a new table... so the excitement is brewing. But until then, I need to clean out my current kitchen...use up those lasting ingredients, and make this move happen. That's how this bread came into existence. In effort to use those bananas, dates and some more GF flours. It's almost like I get a high of excitement that I am multi-tasking and creating at the same time. I know, I might be a little nuts... but it works for me. So here is my latest cleaning/baking treat, I hope you enjoy!

Date Sweetened Banana Bread Recipe
1/2 cup of finely chopped dates soaked in 1 cup of non-dairy milk (overnight or 8 hours)
3 overly ripe smashed bananas
2 farm fresh eggs or 1/4 cup of chia gel eggs
1 cup of sweet sorghum flour
3/4 cup of millet flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/4 cup of light olive oil
2 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
optional: if you want to add more sweetness, add 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup to sweeten things up...

Mix all of the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. When you pour in the dates/milk, make sure you get all of the date syrup from the bottom of the the soaking bowl into the mixing bowl. And then slowly add the dry ingredients and mix well together in the same bowl. Make sure all the flour is mixed in, and then pour the batter into a well oiled bread tin or pan and smooth out in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, and make sure it is done in the middle with a knife or toothpick. Bake until fully cooked. Loosen from the pan after baking and let it cool on a rack or plat out of the pan to prevent soggy loaf. Serve for breakfast, snacks or just for fun :)

This bread is not overly sweet if you are looking for a non-sugar bread, this is it. If you are looking to sweeten it just a bit, add 1/4 cup of extra raw honey before baking. The dates are a perfect sweetener combo with the ripe banana sweetness. If you want to sweeten more after you bake, it is always nice to spread some fresh jam, honey or ghee on a warm slice of baked bread. This recipe is relatively easy, and simple ingredients, so If you have those ripe bananas laying around... give it a try.

Much love to you!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vanilla Maple Yogurt Fruit Salad (vegan)

Lately, I have been craving fresh fruit more than usual. Maybe its because it's spring, and fresh food always tastes better when it's warm outside. Or maybe it is because my growing baby wants vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients and I am just eating it subconsciously? I really feel like apples have been my latest weakness. I guess if I am going to have a weakness for a food it might as well have grown on a tree. I have eaten like 2-3 apples everyday for the last few weeks. Yes, Michigan apples have been mostly eaten from last fall, so now I am buying some organic gala apples from the Northwest states, and that is my particular craving really. Fresh, cold, organic gala apples, with a tablespoon of nut butter topped on the freshly cut halves. hmmm, so good! Right now as I am typing this, my mouth is starting to water. It is ridiculous! I really think it is the sweet crunchiness to it that draws me in. It's almost like a drug. Once I get that juicy crunch of an apple, I feel happy again. I am going to say it is because I am pregnant, I mean, I used to love apples before, but now this is a whole new level of obsession. If this continues on for weeks, I might start to get worried. Or find an anonymous support group... until then, I am just going to give in...
This recipe is actually quite simple, and inspired last minute with some "hanging around" ingredients. It is pretty simple and perfect for any kind of meal or gathering. You can add and take away some of the ingredients if you have others on hand. This could be a side, a snack, a dessert or a leftover midnight snack. You gotta love the creaminess the coconut yogurt provides, and the simple sweetness of the fresh fruit and maple syrup combo. It is just an all around fabulous creation for the vegan soul. Or, for the non-vegan-conscious people this could easily be made with some fresh homemade yogurt of any kind and whipped up the same way. I used the coconut yogurt instead of a vegan soy yogurt, because to be honest, I'm not a fan of soy. Soy is too processed and airy to my liking. It just seems I always regret eating soy when I I avoid it when I can. But hey, with creations such as coconut yogurt, why would you go searching for anything else. It's fabulous!
Vanilla Maple Coconut Yogurt Fruit Salad Recipe
2 ripe pears washed, seeded, and diced in bite sized pieces
2 ripe apples, washed, seeded and diced into pieces (I used organic gala apples)
1/2 of honey dew melon, cleaned and seeded and diced into pieces
1 TB of pure vanilla extract
1-2 TB of pure maple syrup (or more to your taste preference)
1/2 ts of ground cardamon (cinnamon is also another idea of an added spice if you prefer)
1/2 cup of crushed walnut pieces, or if you prefer pecans, or pistachios instead

Mix all the ingredients together in a large serving bowl and serve up cold. Other added flavors to add could be just a little bit of some fresh mint or lime... be creative with what ingredients you have laying around. Really a creamy fruit salad like this will make you so happy you might just start adding things together that you would have never thought could be tasty... it could happen.
Well, my dears...I am off to enjoy this sunny Sunday afternoon. I just wanted to share some fresh goodness with you while I had a moment. I hope you have a blessed day and enjoy life for all it's worth!

Much love to you!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Protein Monster Cookies (vegan)

It could be easy to overload on carbs and sugars even while focusing on eating a gluten-free diet. I think you may know what I mean...eating pounds of rice, corn, potatoes, and processed gluten-free products. It is part of the challenge when switching over to a gluten-free diet, or even more with combination of dairy-free or vegan. Your main challenge will be learning how to get more protein into your diet, without packing in meat and dairy. Protein is not just found in meat, yes, I know surprising for the over-fed-meat American diet. You can gain perfect proteins from whole grains, a plate of colorful vegetables and nuts, seeds and legumes. Really. You can. It may take some time to allow your body to adjust to more plant protein instead of mostly dairy and meat, but you can get the same combo of essential amino acid from a combo of rice and beans and you can from a slice of meat.

Protein is essential to the diet because it is the body's principle source of enzymes and hormones and is needed to maintain and build muscles, bones, hair and teeth. The reason why trying to gain more of your protein from plants is that you are also gaining the ability to digest better. Trying to go through a healing process while eating loads of meat and dairy will definitely slow down digestion and may make it a lot harder to feel energy and healing. I have gained a lot of this knowledge through personal experience and great authors and mentors as John Douillard, Mark Hyman, and also my local natural doctor Adrian Den Boer.

Personally, I know I feel my best when I get a balanced amount of protein daily. Add seeds and nuts to as many dishes as possible, and always eat whole grains. Also, add beans and hormone-free meat when possible, but not every meal or even everyday. Those are just some of the ideas I keep in mind when trying to add balance and variety in my protein intake. And I take this to heart now more than ever, considering my body is working overload with growing and building the baby inside of me.

But what's this about protein cookies...

These cookies are made with all protein rich ingredients and full of healthy fats, amino acids, and nutrients. So, eating a cookie like this will not only make you feel like you are cheating the system, but you will feel full, nourished and loved. I promise. It's not like you are eating a flavorless health cookie either. It is full of everything! Coconut flour is one of the binding ingredients, and I just love the flavor that comes from it, but also there is 5 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein in just 2 TB! Amazing. So, if you are going to indulge, this cookie is just as much as a protein boosted snack as it is a pleasure to eat. So, now to the recipe...

Protein Monster Cookies Recipe
dry ingredients:
3/4 cup of almond meal (grind whole raw almonds in a coffee grinder or high powered blender)
1/2 cup of gluten-free oats (I use Bob's Red Mill's)
1 cup of sucanat (unrefined cane juice) coconut palm sugar or beet sugar works too
1/2 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking powder

wet ingredients:
3/4 cup of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 TB of ground flax meal (or chia seed meal)
1/4 cup of raw agave nectar or raw honey

other ingredients:
1/4 cup of light olive oil or coconut oil
1/3 cup of organic peanut butter
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of dairy-free dark chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and then mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl together with a wisk (without the oil). Then mix the wet and dry together and combine the oil and peanut butter. Mix well and then finally add the extra ingredients of the walnuts, raisins, and chocolate. Use a spatula to fold it all together well and then use your hands to roll a hand-filled-sized ball and flatten it with your hands before putting on a parchment papered baking sheet. The cookies will not spread or rise much so you can flatten them before baking to create the size and shape you want. This recipe will make 18-24 cookies depending on how large you make them. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Bake a few minutes longer if you like crispier cookies. Enjoy!
Most of all, remember that eating healthy doesn't mean you have to eat cardboard whole grains and boring cookies and treats. True whole grains have lots of flavor and texture, so don't be fooled, love. Try some new foods this week, perhaps coconut flour or raw almonds. I am so thankful for nutrient dense foods to make cookies with... Perfect protein little cookies that I fall in love with time and time again. So pour a glass of non-dairy milk of your fancy, and settle in for a lovely snack.

Much love to you, friends!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

This is a special recipe. It's not every day that you see a gluten-free dairy-free cupcake just make an appearance. It is not usual. It is not predictable. It is just special. So, my friends. I share it with you. For when you need something special to brave a special occasion. It's not like you can make these once a week and feel good about yourself either. These are for birthdays, celebrations, and well, maybe just for fun too :)

I love birthdays, a good time to reflect on the year of your life and maybe some of the adventures you would want to take for the next year. Growing old doesn't have to be bad, I mean, you are getting wiser, smarter, hopefully happier and more blessed. So, for me this year, with the coming of a baby in 2010 I couldn't help but imagine what the year would hold. Crazy changes, food cravings, and thankfulness. I am so thankful for new life, spring time and my closest family and friends. People that go the extra mile with me, and that love me for who I am. Those are the gifts that you just can't buy or even dream up for yourself. They are God-given blessings that make us who we are. So, for those gifts I am truly appreciative and excited for what the next year of life will bring.

And then there were cupcakes...

I made these as a birthday treat for some friends of mine as a way to celebrate my birthday a few weeks ago. People ask why I make my own birthday treats, and it's a pretty easy answer if you are a gluten-free friend. Mainly, because you know that your kitchen and equipment is clean of gluten, and also because you can control other ingredients. Yet, it is a challenge. So, my friends you may have to invest in a few special ingredients for this recipe, but it is worth it once you have the results. It is a treat to have a cupcake, a beloved and perfect cupcake.

Chocolate Cake/Cupcake Recipe- This recipe makes 24 cupcakes or 2 9" cakes.
1 1/2 cup of sorghum flour
1 cup of potato starch (not flour)
2 cups of sucanat (unrefined sugar cane juice dehydrated) or use beet sugar, palm sugar or coconut sugar
3/4 cup of sweet rice flour
2 ts. of xanthan gum
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1 TB of apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup of light olive oil, or coconut oil
2 cups of water or non-dairy milk
4 farm fresh eggs
2 TB of pure vanilla

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and then slowly add the wet ingredients and mix well. Make sure to have all the flours, starches and cocoa powder mixed in well and your mixture should be a thick and almost custard like texture. It is this way because of the starch and the xanthan gum. It will help it rise normally and have better baked texture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes depending on your oven. Check to make sure you do not burn or dry out, but not gooey in the middles. If you are baking a cake with this recipe, then you will need to bake for 50-60 minutes until done.
I have to say, this peanut butter frosting was a stretch for me, considering I do not use powdered sugar a lot in my baking just because it is such a strong sugar sweetener and I try to avoid even "pure" sugar. But you really can't get the texture of the frosting without the powdered sugar. Liquid sweeteners just don't cut it! So, this frosting recipe is a treat, but I got the comment on how it almost tasted like peanut butter fudge frosting. It was very good, and made the cupcake just pop! Plus it is very easy, dairy free and well, fun to dress up those little baby cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Frosting- for 24 cupcakes
3 TB of organic creamy Peanut Butter
3 TB of Spectrum organic palm oil shortening
2-3 TB of almond milk or other non-dairy milk
3 cups of organic powdered sugar

Mix the peanut butter, shortening, and powdered sugar first and then drizzle the non-dairy milk to loosen things up a bit and use the amount of liquid to determine your thickness to the frosting. If you like a little more drizzly then use more milk, and if you like it more sturdy then use less. It is up to you, but it is best to start out with a little and work your way with more...
I put all of the frosting in a larger zip lock bag and moved it all to one corner, and then cut the corner just a bit with a scissors and then I was able to decorate the cupcakes how I wanted. Some were fun dots, squiggles and then some I just spread it around how I liked it. It was fun too :)

Every once in a while you just need a special gluten-free diary-free treat, and this is one of them. I hope you try it out and remember that eating gluten-free doesn't have to be a curse. Try and remember that gluten-free living will help you and heal you from many ailments, and that it can also be fun and adventurous too. Always a good reminder, I say!

Much love to you today!