Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Banana Nut Bread (gluten-free and vegan)

I made this lovely loaf of banana bread yesterday to use up some really ripe bananas that got abandoned in the craziness of the Thanksgiving holiday. Those 4 "ripe" but almost rotten bananas thought they were going to waste away or see the trash before they got eaten, but no.

Not to worry. Make some fresh banana bread and enjoy it's sweetness.

That is the great thing about banana bread. You have to use those overly ripe bananas that you wouldn't eat otherwise, and they are extra sweet when baked so you hardly have to use any sugar or sweetener. Besides, tasting wonderful, why not make enough to snack and then eat for breakfast. You have to love waking up in the morning and having that healthy loaf of yummy bread looking at you. It makes a cup of hot tea and a slow morning by the window welcome.

I love banana bread. A childhood favorite and an adulthood pleasure.

But, now let's make it interesting with a gluten-free blend of flour that adds flavor and perfect texture. And, let's make it vegan. Save the eggs and dairy, and enjoy the simplicity of a good loaf of pure banana goodness. This bread is simple, sweet and perfect holiday recovery bread. Perfect with the crunch of walnuts and almonds, and perfect for the gluten-free vegan.
Every bite is full of chewy sweetness. So yummy, you may not want to share. But, it's almost Christmas, so you better start thinking up some holiday cheer and love. Maybe make 2 loaves and share one with your neighbor. What a perfect holiday gift for a loved one! Banana bread sharing is one of the best wrapped treats there is. Bake with love, wrap with care and share it with a friend (and don't forget to attach the recipe). Oh dear, I think I may need to make another batch... to have more to share... :)Banana Nut Bread Recipe
1/4 cup of flax meal (ground flax seeds)
1/4 cup of gluten-free oats
1/2 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
1 cup of almond meal (flour works too, or grind up almonds)
1/2 cup of walnut pieces
2 ts. of baking powder
2 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of xanthan gum
1 ts. of ground cinnamon
2/3 cup of sucanat
1 ts. of pure vanilla
1 cup of So Delicious coconut milk beverage or other non-dairy milk
1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
4 ripe, mashed bananas

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the wet, and finally the bananas and nuts. Add optional other ingredients like dried fruit, or chocolate chips for extra lovin'.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
This recipe makes 2 small loaves in bread loaf pans, or make one big cake in a 9x13 pan, or you could make 12 cupcake muffins as well.

Store at room temperature up to 3 days for best taste.
This bread will knock your socks off, and you will save this recipe to make again and again. I can almost promise you that. It is so moist and so naturally sweet, that you will be loving every bite more than the last.

Enjoy friends, have a happy day..... tomorrow is December already, and rumor has it that the first snow is going to come on such a day.

Much love to you!



Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Can you believe it is Thanksgiving week already?! It so great to start a Monday knowing it will be a short work week, and a week to enjoy food, family and friends. I have been spending the morning making the final grocery lists and baking off some fresh pumpkin (some tips here to roast your own fresh pumpkin) and roasting it's seeds. It smells so good in my kitchen! Fresh pumpkin isn't the greatest smell when you cut into it and spoon out all of the seeds, but then after you have it baking in the oven for a while, it starts smelling that 'pumpkin-pie-kinda' smell. It's comforting on a a rainy cold fall day like today.

So, the menu is in process and the last minute ideas are swirling. I am picking up my locally raised turkey tonight, and reading up on all the best secrets to roast the perfect bird. My family and I do not eat meat very often, but when we do, we like to make it fresh, local, and without all the processed junk in it. It will be a treat and an adventure to make this meal and I am thoroughly looking forward to each part...

But for today, how about some pumpkin muffins to get ready for the holiday week. Something special to enjoy the season before it gets too busy in a few days. Also, this recipe would be a delite for any Thanksgiving meal, or day-after breakfast when you either sit home all warm and cuddled up with Christmas music, or if you are one of those running out the door at 4am to get the craziest sale door buster. So, my gluten-free friends, please enjoy the creating a meal process and make something special this holiday season to 'WOW' your taste buds and celebrate all the good things that God has blessed us with. Many blessings to you, and I hope and pray that you find true thankfulness and gratefulness in your life this year.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins Recipe
1/3 cup of buckwheat flour
1/3 cup of brown rice flour
1/3 cup of white rice flour
1 cup of sweet sorghum flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
OR, if you have a favorite gluten-free flour mix you like to use, then just substitute the 5 above flours for 2 1/4 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour blend.

1 cup of sucanat (or other dried sweetener like palm, beet or coconut sugar)
1 ts. of baking soda
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of cinnamon
1/2 ts. of ginger
1/2 ts. of cloves
1/2 ts. of nutmeg

1 TB of apple cider vinegar

*Set aside the coconut milk and the TB of apple cider vinegar in a a separate bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to create a 'buttermilk' like substance and then add to the rest of the mixing bowl with the other wet ingredients.

1 ts. of pure vanilla
2 farm fresh eggs
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (fresh or can)
3 TB of molasses

Optional additional ingredients:
1/3 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for a topping
1/3 cup of dried cranberries, or raisins added to the muffin mix
1/2 cup of chocolate chips for mixing or for topping

Mix all the dry ingredients together first, and then add the wet ingredients to the same bowl, mix well and make sure all of the oil, eggs and pumpkin puree get thoroughly mixed into the batter. Pour into 12 large muffin liners in the tin, and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. If you want to turn this batter into a cake or bread, that is totally possible, just adjust baking times.

Some of the dishes I am making this week for Thanksgiving!

I am also making my first, locally raised, free-range, hormone and chemical free turkey- So I will post my pictures and directions for that recipe soon!

I also plan on trying a cranberry pie tart that looks just as yummy as it sounds.

I hope you have a blessed and restful Thanksgiving with those you love!

Much love to you friends.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quinoa Protein Bread (vegan)

Good morning, sunshine! It has been a pretty sunny November here in Michigan, which of course is never a complaint for it's residents. Some say it is sunny days like these that help us survive the long winter that is ahead of us, and each day of sunshine is a gift knowing that it may be our last for weeks or even months. As the weather has been changing, it is easy to see the changes that take place in our bodies as well. It seems like with winter knocking at the door, our bodies want to hibernate a bit and start to crave the warm, hearty and even fattening foods. Foods that will insulate our skin against the cold and sickness. There is something very natural about living with, and eating with the seasons. The more you start to eat what is in season, the more you are aware of your body and what it needs in different times of the year.
The warm winter squashes, hearty whole grains and even warming stews full of meat and veggies are more than comfort during the cold months. They keep your immunities up while the sun refuses to shine. Yet, filling up on food over the holidays and snow days may make you feel regretful next spring when you want to fit into your tiny swimsuit, so you have to eat for health over the winter season, and not for pure comfort. What does this mean?

Well, this means that over the holidays, don't let yourself eat 3 pieces of pie just because. Even though our body's may "crave" more warming comfort foods in the cold we can be more aware of it and fill up on hearty whole foods that will sustain us and nurture us for the long haul. Let yourself enjoy special treats, but stay the healthy course of eating a balanced diet of vegetables, whole grains and protein. This means you have to eat quality, over quantity. Eating healthy fats, grains and protein that will fill you up and sustain you longer than empty calories (from the holiday party table). So, that is why this bread came into existence for me. I have been needing more protein in my diet as of late (new nursing momma here), and this bread hits just the spot when I am looking for a good breakfast or snack. It just feels right to eat a hearty bread with a bowl of warming soup or stew. Unfortunately, the smoothie and raw lettuce wrap seem a bit cold for a Michigan resident this time of year.
This bread is full of whole grains with cooked quinoa and whole grain flours. It will not make your blood sugar jump, or have you needing even more than a slice can offer. It is the perfect snack for this nursing momma that has barely time enough to feed herself but still needs nourishment more than ever. And it was a nice 15 minute break while baby slept to have some "me" time in the kitchen. Oh how I love to bake...

Quinoa Protein Bread Recipe
3/4 cup of almond flour (or ground whole almonds in your coffee grinder/food processor)
3/4 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of xanthan gum (optional for texture)
1/3 cup of flaxmeal (ground flax seeds in coffee grinder)
1/4 cup of maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of SoDelicious coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
2/3 cup of pure water
1 TB of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Mix all of the dry ingredients and quinoa in a large mixing bowl together, then add all the wet in the same bowl and then mix well together. Let sit together for a few minutes to let the moisture be absorbed by the dry ingredients and to let the xanthan gum and flaxmeal to gel. Then oil a bread pan or tin and put the whole mix in the bread pan. Pat the top and dust with some rice flour if you desire. Then put in a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Check the baking bread at 50 minutes to see if the bread is cooked all the way through with a pick to the middle of the bread, if not, bake another 10 minutes. Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before plopping from the bread tin to a plate or rack to cool down. Also, wait that same amount of time before you cut into the loaf so that the bread stays together better. Then.... eat and enjoy!
Use some of the leftover cooked quinoa in your fridge for this hearty bread. Nourish yourself and stay warm this season. I hope you have a fantastic day and enjoy it's gifts for all it's worth!

Much love to you!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Donut Cake (vegan)

This time of year I sometimes get the feeling that eating gluten-free is harder than it seems. Like when Fall rolls around and you wish you could go to the local orchard and have that fresh cider and warm donut while enjoying the orchard beauty. Or with the holidays, you get that nostalgic love for something special to wake up to on Christmas morning. Gluten-free eating is an adventure for sure. Living gluten-free was one of the best, healthiest choices I ever made in my life and I never regret it. Yet, that doesn't mean that it isn't hard or seemingly impossible some days. I think you know what I mean.

The holidays.

The beautiful, sacred, family-filled space that can be the best of times and the worst of times. I hope and pray for your sake that you have family and friends in your life that will support you and love on you when it comes to the 'food' scene at your holiday table. Because we are a culture that surrounds ourselves with comfort and traditions of the holiday season it is hard to sometimes change what you have been doing since the beginning of time (or at least hard to change your aunt, mother-in-law or grandma's mind).

My best suggestion is that you try not to change everything all in one meal with your family and friends. Really, it isn't worth having to pull teeth for people to understand your dietary restrictions. If they are willing and want to understand and change, then that is another thing. But from my experience (and with talking with many others with similar diet restrictions), it is always harder than easier it seems. So, with that in mind, my best move to have a joyful holiday when it comes to food, bring a dish that you know you can eat. That means, you bring the spinach salad, quinoa stirfry, or green beans. If you want to make sure to have a dessert that you can eat, then you make the gluten-free cake, the fresh pie or the healthy cookies. Don't require everyone to change just for you. Just introduce a little more of the healthier food choices by bringing a dish to pass. That's how I survive the holidays. It is kinda fun to experiment making a dish, and then when you have others try it at the dinner you would be surprised how people find it more inviting to hear more about how you eat or what you eat.

Also, another thing I tell people about bringing food to a gathering. "Don't take it personal!" That is if you brought a special healthier version of pumpkin pie, maybe you made it from scratch, or it is raw, or whatever, and it is delicious in your opinion! Yet, you can't get your dad to try it because he is just too used to the norm. Well then, don't take it personally! Just remember not every one is at the same place you are at with loving fresh foods or wanting to eat healthy. So introduce and share what you can and when you can, but don't expect it to blow their minds as much as it might yours! :) Just another point of advice from my own experience. I love to share my food with people, but sometimes it is just more exciting for me to have a gluten-free cookie than them. But that is ok. I will leave a few dishes I have made over the holidays at the end of this post so that if you are looking for a dish to share you have a few to try out.

But let's get back to my original reason for thinking about holiday eating... this recipe.

There is an orchard I used to go to in college that was a walk away from my dorm building. I would go with my friends for a cup of cider and a yummy warm donut. There is something about this time of year that would make a gluten-free person ache for a donut more than usual. So, what do you do... you make a treat of your own to enjoy and then still go to the orchard to stock up on apples for winter.

Gluten-free flours can be a bit hard to start using and seem like a new language for beginners. Yet, just start somewhere... like buying a GF flour mix and finding a recipe to try out. This recipe is a good one for that too. The flours can be found at any health store, and may even be found in your regular grocery store now since they are starting to stock GF options at more and more stores.
This is a slice of the gooey, cinnamon, apple cake bread. It really does taste like a donut to me. I can't keep my fingers away from stealing a piece. I hope you try this one out... it is really yummy and you will make it again and again... like maybe on Christmas morning, or just for a fun breakfast treat.

Apple Cinnamon Donut Bread Recipe

1 ts. of baking powder
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 cup of hard extra virgin coconut oil

1 cup of finely diced apple slices

1 cup of sucanat, or powdered sweetener like beet, date, palm or coconut sugar
2 TB of cinnamon
1/2 cup of melted Earth Balance (soy free option) or melted coconut oil

Mix the flour, dry ingredients, and hard coconut oil together in a large mixing bowl first. Then you will have a crumbly flour mix, that is when you add the cup of coconut milk and mix more with a spatula or spoon. This will turn into a sticky batter that will kinda resemble a biscuit mix batter. Then dice the apple and toss that into the batter as well. Then mix together the melted oil or earth balance spread with the sucanat and cinnamon. This will turn into a syrup or gooey mix. Then take the batter and roll chunks of it, or like donut holes and place them in the bottom of a funnel cake or bundt pan. Roll lots of the chunks of batter and then pour the gooey filling over top the batter, you may need to mix the batter a bit with the filling in the pan so that the batter gets coated with the filling all over. You layer the donut-hole pieces of batter that are coated in the filling on top of each other in the pan. You could make this kinda like a monkey bread recipe if that is easier, but ultimately you are just tossing the batter and the filling together in the pan so that they can all bake up together nicely. It will taste good no matter what it looks like.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. This bread or cake, will serve up to 8 people.

Eat warm from the oven with some fresh apple cider and soak up the rich yumminess!!!

I hope you enjoy! Here are some more ideas for holiday treats and dishes to try out:

Much love to you today!