Cranberry Apple Pecan Crunch

I love apples.  I love apples in the morning. I love apples at night.  I love apples all the time.  For our Thanksgiving feast, one of my mothers very kindly provided a sweet potato pie.  I decided that it is just weird to limit yourself to one dessert on Thanksgiving (yes, I said that), and so I used my favorite fall fruit to create a perfect partner for the dessert plate. Continue reading

A Birthday Cake for Bigg Sis

I truly don’t know how she’s done it, but somehow Bigg Sis has managed to have our mutual vacation scheduled to include her birthday for the last few years. It’s genius really if you think about it. Lots of people who love you on hand to accommodate your birthday desires, and an adventurous sister on deck to make a birthday dessert that meets the dietary requirements of the whole crew. And, really, what could be better than being at the beach with your beloved little sister on your birthday? ;-) Continue reading

Walnut Crust Apple Pie – GF, DF

Although my whole wheat crusts were never beautiful to look at, they were tasty and I always loved the heartier texture of a whole wheat crust.  My husband requests an apple pie in lieu of cake for his birthday every year, and I was always happy to oblige.

Now that he has been told by his doctor to do away with gluten for awhile to address some health problems (although he is not celiac), what I am supposed to make for the poor man on his birthday?  I know – it’s all about me isn’t it?  ;-)

I have tried a number of gluten free crusts, but as with most gluten free baking, (IMHO), the inclusion of white flours and starches such as potato starch and tapioca flour run afoul of my desire to use whole grains whenever possible, and since they don’t taste very good anyway, I’ve not stuck been very persistent in my search for a solution.

Enter the walnut crust.  Yes, the humble, nutritious, crumbly, bumbly walnut.  I had a friend who used to call me walnut – so I’m allowed to humbly call them crumbly and bumbly. Continue reading

Pumpkin Pudding for the Peeps! GF, DF, Fast and healthy!

Surely, this should be a post of a strawberry dessert for the holiday, but my goodness it is cold here in Middle TN!  We escaped the snow but it is cold enough for snow and very windy and this weather is making me think of the last of the winter-time foods.  Easter provides SOOOOO many opportunities to over-indulge in nasty high-sugar and fat treats, why not indulge in something that tastes great, is very easy and will win fans among guests and family alike?

We don’t need dairy or gluten for this fine recipe.  Grab that remaining can of pumpkin and some cashews and let’s go!! Continue reading

When You DO Need a Treat

I struggle with the treat area.  There, I said it.  My kids have been the fortunate recipients of mostly unprocessed or only lightly processed snack foods, but I have, in my forty some-odd years on the planet, consumed a fair number of packaged snack foods.  The difficulty that this poses for me as a parent is that I am vulnerable to the argument that perhaps I am being TOO restrictive, that I am depriving my kids (OH NOOOOOO, ANYTHING BUT DEPRIVING YOUR KIDS!!!!) of some sort of necessary and later to be romanticized pleasure of childhood.  So I struggle to find balance.  They don’t get A LOT of the things that their classmates and friends get, but I attempt to frame it, as I do with myself, as a turn toward the abundance and delicious satisfaction that real food, even as snack or treat, can provide.

Healthful twin lunches. Healthy twin kids.

My recent efforts, as a reflection of my desire to keep my kids on the attitude of gratitude end of the spectrum as regards their lunchtime totage, have focused on the treat portion of our little stainless steel container.  As it turns out, packing lunch has been something of a guilty pleasure for me.  The picky child in our family takes her Tinkerbell lunchbox everyday with the utmost trust that I have included SOMETHING that she will eat.  And I generally do.  And the funny thing is, she eats it.  She eats most parts of whatever I pack.  She eats things she won’t eat at home, and when she gets home, she finishes whatever’s left…. hot diggity.  So I have no guilt about providing a small not so sweet in their tins.  I have made two lovely discoveries this week that I thought I would share… one that is gluten (but not chocolate) free, and one that has gluten, but is vegan, and I must say, quite awesome.  I’m eating some right now as I type.  On to the goodness…

What do you mean what happened to the first row? What first row?

First up: Gluten Free Blondies – adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Chip Blondies. These babies are BEAN based; that’s right, you heard me, bean based.  So I’m thinking I need to whip up a lunchbox yummy and looking at my fridge to see what I should use up and rolling my eyes at the container of white beans from the previous night’s dinner… turns out they were just what I needed.  I love it when that happens.

See those little beanies in there?

The changes I made to Katie’s recipe here are pretty minimal.  I cut the sugar to 1/2 c from 3/4 c.  For the grain I used a mixture of flax and rolled oats. I added 1T of applesauce because my batter seemed too dry (I used homecooked rather than canned beans).  I went a little light on the chips to no ill effect and I added 1/4 c of pecans. The procedure is super easy. Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients with the exception of chips and nuts (if you use them, which you should) in a food processor until the batter is smooth. Add chips and nuts and stir to incorporate. Place in 8×8 greased or lined baking pan. Bake for around 30 minutes. They will be softer than your average blondie – sort of fudge-y and awesome. If you’re smart enough to eat one warm, you’ll get the reward of the melty chip drip that is part of the blondie experience. Delish.

Turns out beans weren’t the only thing I needed to use up. With the onset of the school year (and cooler temps), our green smoothie intake has diminished and my banana purchases got ahead of me. Super over-ripe bananas can only mean one thing in my house… banana bread. Oh yes. This recipe is adapted from one I got from a dear friend who first made it for us during a delicious fall weekend on a farm in the Catskills. She had adapted the recipe from one she’d had given to her by someone else… Honestly neither one of us has any idea at this point where it originally came from. On the off chance that it was yours and you still recognize it, let me know and I’ll credit you.

I was encouraged to limit my pecans so we could try it “both ways.”

Intensely Good Banana Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup regular oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/4 c peanut (or other nut) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pecans for the top

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine flours, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Place sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add eggs, banana, nut butter, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Decorate with pecans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Eat some while it is warm and the outer crust is at its peak. Cool completely on wire rack before storing.  Amazing.

Need more ideas for healthier sweets?  Try these gluten free chocolate chip cookies, these gluten free coconut almond milk mash cookies, honey milk balls, apple oat muffins.

This week we’ve joined Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Blog Carnival. Check out the other real food entries here.

Easy & Delicious GF Pie Substitute

I hate to keep whining about this gluten-free thing, but I’m amazed how often it comes up.  Not just as an ingredient but as a convenience – what could be more convenient or available than a sandwich – and even as a tradition.  Every year (for 7 glorious, much-appreciated years), Dad and Step-Mom have invited us for a week at the Chautauqua Institution, a place full of thought, the arts, compassionate spirituality and for us, family meals that include pie made at a local farmer’s market.  My husband and my Dad often enjoy pie 3 times a day, with the ‘all that fruit’ offering the perfect justification for their over-indulgence.

What to do about this gluten-full tradition?  As much as I want to help, I am on vacation and not about to spend the week trying to perfect gluten free pie crust.  So, I sought to create a lazy alternative that would satisfy the pie-ready-triangle-shaped space in my husband’s gut.

Here is my easy peezy, lemon squeezy cobbler recipe that has been very well received.  Thank goodness!!
I made it twice, and guess what Little Sis? – the second time was better than the first!

Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy Cobbler or EP Cobbler
- Fruit to cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan about 1/2 – 1 inch thick.
The first time I made it I used 8 peaches in a slightly smaller pan… The second time I used 3 peaches, 1 small nectarine and a pint of blueberries.  The result was better with the fruit more spread out.
- 2 cups oats divided into 1 cup measures
- 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar – which translates to about 1/3 packed I’m guessing
- 1/4 cup dairy butter (I haven’t tried vegan butter or oil, let me know if you do!)
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional – I did not use, but it probably would only improve the flavor)

Pre-heat oven to 350
Wash and cut if using large fruit – don’t cut blueberries ;-)
Spread in bottom of lightly oiled pan
Mix in 1 cup of rolled oats and stir around

In mixing bowl mix 1 cup oats, butter cut into chunks, brown sugar and salt if using
Mash it around until it is small clumps.
Spread the small clumps out as evenly as possible over the fruit

Bake for about a half hour, or until lightly browned on top and fruit is fragrant and soft.

Serve to pie lovers on pie plates with pie forks and with loving instructions to place, with or without ice cream, in pie hole :-)

(Take a big serving for yourself because they’ll be back for more and eat it all.   You know how they are.)

Camm (coconut almond milk mash) Cookies

If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that I am writing about last week’s cookies! (Course I had to tell you. I’m not very good at keeping secrets – you can ask Little Sis.)

My family has been on the road visiting other family, including Little Sis (yeah!), Step-daughter and 2 of my three wonderful step-grands, and we are now enjoying The Chautauqua Institute in New York with Dad and Step-Mom.   Little Sis kindly has posted in my absence and now I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen…Luckily I have pictures from last week’s second endeavor to use the almond milk meal (AMM) leftover from making almond milk.  And most importantly, I took a photo of the write-on wipe-off board on my frig where I noted the ingredients…

Ignore the cumin – from an earlier endeavor :-)

In the past I have been an overzealous holiday cookie maker who then embarks on the dreary 12-step process of cookie-making recovery.  Despite having only made it to step 4 this year, I have been thinking about treats that can go in a lunch box and be eaten by my gluten-free husband.  Here is my attempt to make something recognizably treat-y from AMM.

CAMM cookies
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup almond milk mash
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. liquid sweet (I used 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. agave)
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
dash salt and vanilla (I’d guesstimate 1/4 tsp vanilla for this small batch)

Preheat oven to 350
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Mash together the AMM, butter, and coconut
add coconut, vanilla and salt
add beaten egg

Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet

smash with a fork to flatten
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until getting a little crispy.
If you take them out too early (I tried taking them out at different times) they stay kind of mushy.
Cool on a rack and enjoy!!

As I contemplate my only child entering Middle School with the concomitant increased freedom and exposure regarding worldly foods and foibles, I am going to attempt to provide snacks in the lunch that will entice him to walk the straight and narrow – or narrow-ish.  It ain’t going to be easy my friends!  But my rapidly rising (in height, ability and attitude) 6th grader thought these cookies were awesome, so we’re off to a good start.