Sunday, April 28, 2013

Maple-Date-Banana Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are a great treat, snack, and could even serve as a breakfast bar on the go. I have been trying to sub dates and iron rich foods into my diet as much as possible to get ready for labor and baby coming. Eating whole grains especially wheat germ is a great way to get in iron and also assimilate iron into your system, but yes, because of being gluten-free, wheat germ is not an option for me. So certified gluten-free oats have been an option, along with common other veggies and seeds that contain vitamins and iron that promote better hemoglobin levels in the body.

Some other foods to consider for iron intake are lots of fresh and steamed greens, pumpkin seeds and nuts, and dried apricots and dates also have a nice amount as well. Then there are the usual suspects of iron-rich foods like red meat, legumes and spinach, so those have been a more common staple for me as well. Oh, and did I mention raw cocoa also has a nice amount of iron to offer the body (no problem consuming more of that, thank you!) Whether you are pregnant or want to be pregnant, the truth is that people who have food sensitivities often have a hard time  assimilating nutrients in their small intestines, so those may be found to be anemic or even "malnourished" for a long time even after going gluten-free. So it is even more important to sensitive people to try and eat a nutrient dense diet as much as you can. Whole foods, no chemicals or additives, and as much plants as possible. Gaining as much nutrients from your real food over popping over the counter vitamins is a better way for the body to gain the benefit of nourishment as well.
Interesting enough, I found out that pure maple syrup actually has a nice amount of natural occurring iron as well. Which is an added bonus since I just bought a ton of local syrup to store for the year. Michigan maple syrup is the best! I'm sure other people may think their local syrup is better, so I won't argue my point, but I am pretty proud to live in a place that produces such sweet gold this time of year.

So these cookies are sweetened with my 3 favorite sugar subs of maple syrup, dates and banana. They are not too complicated and turned out fabulous for storing, freezing or devouring of course. I plan to make a few more batches to freeze for after baby comes as well. I think these cookies would make a wonderful treat for new breast feeding moms.
Maple-Date-Banana Oatmeal Cookie Recipe 
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut and sugar-free}

3 cups of gluten-free rolled oats (I use Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 cup of sweet sorghum flour
3/4 cup of brown rice flour (can sub white rice flour here)
2 TB of ground flaxmeal (I used golden flax)
1 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of light olive oil or grapeseed oil, or melted coconut oil works too
(oil can be omitted if you desire)

1/2 cup of dates (16 dates)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup of pure maple syrup
1 TB of lemon juice (1 small fresh lemon squeezed)
2 ts. of pure vanilla 

1/4 cup of raisins or currants
1/4 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips
or pick 1/2 cup of one or the other

other dried fruit or carob nibs could also sub just fine here as well

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together and leave the oil out and ready to dump in with the rest of the wet ingredients. Then in a large magic bullet blender or other high powered blender, blend the extra ripe bananas, dates and maple syrup along with the vanilla and lemon. Blend until smooth, or if you want a few date pieces you can blend until mostly smooth. Then pour in the blender mix with the dry mix, add the oil and mix well together. You may want to mix well and then leave the batter to soak up the moisture for a few minutes and it will become a sticky cookie batter then. Lastly add the extra fillings you desire. 1/2 of fillings should be about enough. 1/2 of raisins, or chocolate chips, or a mix of both. 

Roll out Tablespoon-sized balls and then press them down on a baking cookie sheet. Then bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-14 minutes. This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

We ate about half of these and then stuck half in the freezer. I am going to make another batch or two to put in the freezer because they freeze so well. Which will come in handy in a few weeks when we are looking for a quick snack or treat.

I hope you enjoy and find that gluten-free baking can be fun and nutritious too!

Much love as always!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Double Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Honey Frosting and Fresh Raspberries

Over the last few years, on my birthday, I've had fun making a cake that I've been dreaming about in my head for a while. And this cake is not much different from any of my dreamed-up creations. I realized that I really wanted to come up with a personal chocolate cake recipe that I loved, wasn't full of sugar, dairy or other additives and perhaps out of pride, didn't want it to come from a mix. This cake is just that. I have been experimenting lately and then made this wondrous creation for my birthday this week. I was very pleased with it's moist texture, ability to hold up, and the taste was... a deep, rich and romantical chocolate. Delish!
You could call it a Devil's Food Cake or just a plain chocolate cake recipe. It has all the basics to a great chocolate cake, lots of rich velvety chocolate and it won't leave you wishing for more flavor or have you missing the good ol' gluten days.
I was able to make this cake without refined sugars, dairy, nuts and of course gluten, but I have not found a way to make it without eggs without giving up some moisture and texture. You of course could sub the eggs for a chia/flax egg or even an egg replacement mix, but you loose the fluffiness quite a bit. Still, a very nice cake, and totally worth making it you are a strong vegan. I'm not completely against eating fresh farm eggs, and will have them here and there, so this cake was totally worth the upgrade to me to add them in.
I have also experimented with a yellow cake mix, or a "yogurt" cake, or "sour cream" layer cake. I hope to share this version of a cake soon as well. I was debating between what cake to make for my actual birthday and in the end decided to go with the rich deep chocolate because when I have this baby in a few weeks I may be giving up chocolate for a few months to help with the nursing babe and transitioning. So bring on the chocolate baby. I'm going to get my fill this birthday and hope it might induce some labor pains? I dunno about that, but it sure did hit the spot and make my birthday special.
Double Chocolate Layer Cake with Fresh Raspberries Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut, and refined sugar free}

1 cup of millet flour
1 cup of white rice flour
1 cup of finely ground coconut palm sugar (I grind 1 cup in a magic bullet to make it very fine)
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of xanthan gum

1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips
1/2 heaping cup of dates
1 cup of boiling water

1 TB of pure vanilla
2 whisked farm fresh eggs + 2 egg yokes
1/2 cup of melted liquid coconut oil
3/4 cup of non-dairy milk (I use So Delicious coconut milk)
1 TB or juice from 1 fresh lemon mixed with milk

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then in a glass blender or high powered blender add the chocolate chips, dates and boiling water and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Then blend the mixture and make a pudding like substance, add that to the dry mix along with the rest of the wet ingredients. Mix well together and make sure there are no clumps. Bubbles are ok though... and then split the batter and pour it into two 9 inch cake tins (I oil my pans with coconut oil to make sure the cake is free from sticking).

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Use a toothpick to check to make sure the middle of the cakes are baked and there is no gooey bater coming up. Let cool for at least 1 hour before moving and trying to layer on your cake plate or stand.

When I layer a cake, I put the top of the cake on the bottom of the cake plate. Then put a later of frosting, and then flip the next cake on it's top so that the bottom of the cake is actually on top to add a flat top to the cake. You can do this however you most feel comfortable.  I layer the cake with frosting in the middle, add fresh raspberries to the middle of the cake and the top however you want to decorate or arrange. I like using fresh berries, but you could also just add some berry preserves the the middle of the cake as well. Whatever sounds delicious to you and yours. 

Here is my very simple Chocolate Honey Frosting Recipe

1 cup of room temperature vegan butter (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free) Or you can use half vegan butter and half coconut butter or oil if you prefer the taste. You can also use real grass-fed butter if you prefer as well

1/3-1/2 cup of local raw honey

1/3-1/2 cup of raw cocoa powder

sprinkle of pure vanilla (optional)

dash of sea salt (optional)

Whisk all of the above ingredients in a small bowl and then spread over the cake, or add to a Wilton frosting pipping bag with added decorating tip of you prefer to get fancy with the frosting. I used the closed star tip with the frosting of this cake. 

You can double or half this frosting pretty easily. In fact I usually eye-ball the measurements and whisk it up, try it and then decided if I want to add more of anything...
So here's to another year of life....cheers to life, love and being so blessed as I am with an amazing and loving family, friends and so many loved ones and gifts. I thank God for another year of adventure and new experiences, and look forward to what the next few weeks and months will bring!
Thanks for sharing in my birthday treat! 
I hope you try it out for a treat, special occasion or a birthday soon!
Much love as always!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Maple Cream Scones

Still here. Just have been finding other things to keep me busy the past few weeks with getting ready for baby #2. It is a very exhausting and exhilarating experience to get ready for another life in your house. I have a few more weeks to go before d-day, but hoping to go early. Knowing this is very unlikely, but a girl can hope can't she ;)
We also recently enjoyed a family outing to a local farm that taps over a 100 maple trees to gather maple sap for maple syrup. We learned that it can take anywhere from 46-60 gallons of maple sap to make only ONE gallon of maple syrup. And that depends on the thickness of the sap which is usually determined on what time of the season it is being tapped. My son loved watching the sap being boiled down to syrup and I bet he will be talking about the 'sugar shack' and drinking the syrup sample from a cup for weeks. We also stocked up on a gallon of the sweet stuff, so hope to be able to save it for the many months to come. It was also a fun way to spend a Saturday in the gloomy spring weather we have been having. It was snowing here yesterday and doesn't look to be any major warm-ups anytime soon.... so maybe May will bring us warmer weather and spring flowers. More hoping here...
In the meantime...I have been baking. No surprises here. We have made a few fun birthday cakes that I hope to post soon. Of course we have been making lots of pancakes with the gift of fresh and local maple syrup, and have been trying to up the green smoothies intake and fresher options as we try and bring a lighter spring appetite into being. This is my go to pancake recipe, and I have subbed the buckwheat for a combo of millet and rice flours, and have subbed the lemon juice for other juices or seed milk. It seems like we always have a good outcome so it's fun to play around with flavors, fruit and other spices.
These maple cream scones were inspired by a thought about how fabulous the flavor maple is and the need to pair it with a warm beverage on a cold spring day. And that's just what these scones promise. A simple gluten-free baked good that doesn't involve sugar, junk or gloom. Enjoy!
Maple Cream Scone Recipe 
{gluten, dairy and nut-free, vegan}

1 cup of sifted 'sweet white' sorghum flour
1/2 cup of millet flour
1/2 cup of white rice flour
1 TB of GMO-free baking powder
2 TB of finely ground golden flax seed (meal)
1 ts. of cardamon (or if too strong, use cinnamon instead)
1/2 ts. of sea salt

1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
1/2 cup of chopped or semi-soft vegan butter (Earth Balance-soy-free, or use organic coconut oil or butter) I used a combo of both options to have a little buttery flavor added as well

1/3 cup of coconut cream (I used a vegan option of the new barista original creamer from So Delicious)
1/3 cup of non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious no sugar added coconut)
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of pitted and chopped dates (about 15-16 dates)

In a large mixing bowl, add all of the above dry ingredients. Mix well together and then in a blender add the cream, milk, cider and dates, blend well until you get a liquidy puddling-like substance. Then add that to the dry mix along with the maple syrup and butter/oil. Mix with a spatula and let it also sit and soak up moisture for a few minutes. Do not over mix. Biscuits and scones works better if they are not mixed to oblivion. 

This recipe will make 12 smaller scones are 6 very large one. I made the large ones to be able to freeze them and pull one out at a time to share with one other person when defrosted. 

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and stiff. If you want to pull from the oven 5 minutes before done and brush with more maple syrup and then bake again for 5 more minutes you will end up with a nice glaze of maple in the final product. 

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before moving from cookie sheet. Then enjoy with a nice tea, coffee or other favorite warm beverage. 

This recipe is pretty simple and contains some of my most favorite ingredients of dates, maple syrup and coconut. 
I hope you enjoy and make some space for rest, growth and play this weekend.

Much love and life to you!