GF Carrot Cake – Shovin the Produce Anywhere it Will Fit

Ha!  Don’t you love just the idea of carrot cake?  Why not replace some of the other moisture for a cake (like oil or eggs or milk) with some nice wet produce?  Why not indeed.  Anytime you can make something yummy that has produce in it, that’s a plus.  And carrot cake is even socially acceptable.  You don’t have to lie about what those little orange bits are in the cake.  This recipe is a favorite of our Step-Mother and she made it for Little Sis on one of their first evenings getting to know each other – what Little Sis fondly refers to as their ‘first date.’  Here’s to first dates, healthier cakes and parents who are wise enough to bring fabulous new people into their children’s lives.

So Step-Mo, also being very generous and wanting to look out for everyone, wanted Mr. Bigg Sis to be able to eat carrot cake as well, so we went GF and the results were truly delicious.

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Step-Mo’s GF Carrot Cake
(based on Fran’s Carrot Cake)

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil.  (I recommend avocado)
3 eggs (or flax eggs if you prefer)
1.5 – 2 cups sugar depending on how sweet your tribe is accustomed to
1 tsp salt
1 cup GF flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Baking Mix)
1 cup oat flour (you can pulverize oats in the blender to make the flour)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
2 cups flaked coconut (We used sweetened)
1 15 oz. can chopped pineapple – drained
1 cup chopped nuts (we used pecans)

Pre-heat oven to 350
Cream the wet ingredients together
Blend the flour, spices, salt and baking soda
Combine the two mixtures.
Then add carrots, coconut, pineapple and nuts
Grease and flour a bundt panBake 1 hour at 350 – until toothpick comes out clean

We dusted with just a touch of powdered sugar for looks.  The original recipe (from a personal friend) suggested cream cheese icing but this is a sweet cake – I don’t think it needs icing.  And it is very moist.

We enjoyed this and most of all because it was prepared for and shared with people we love.  It’s been a terrific year and we thank you for visiting us here at the pantry.  If you are looking for some encouragement and guidance in improving your nutrition and health in the New Year, check out our e-book, Baby Steps to Better Health.  Also great to share with a friend or loved one.

We wish you all a very happy and safe celebration of all that you’ve experienced, learned and loved this year with high hopes for a healthier New Year marked by peace and love.

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Fall Recipe Parade – Yes, there’s some pumpkin

It’s that time of year – one of the many that sneaks up on me each and every year. While it is still sunny and warm here in mid-Maryland, I am apparently supposed to desperately want pumpkin everything. And honestly, I’m okay with that (except for the coffee thing, I don’t get it – but to each her own coffee). Here at the pantry we do have a healthy love of pumpkin. We also love the other flavors of fall and the opportunity to break out those super warming dishes as the temperatures begin to drop. To welcome this season of bounty and cool nights, we offer you a treasure trove of autumn yum. Most of these recipes are both gluten and dairy free. 🙂

Morning Warmer Uppers

  

1. Pumpkin French Toast

2. Dark Chocolate Steel Cut Oats

3. Sweet Potato Apple Oats

Mains

  

4. Slow Cooker Burritos

5. Chickpea and Cashew Tikka Masala 

6. Sweet Potato Chili with Greens

Sides

  

7. Amazing Applesauce

8. Herbed Bulghur Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Cranberries

9. Waldorf Saute

Sweet Endings

  

10. Super Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

11. Walnut Crust Apple Pie

12. Healthy Pumpkin Cookies

Yay for pumpkins and apples, for warm afternoons and cool mornings, for low humidity and crunchy leaves, for new pencils and new schedules. Here’s to fall and wonderful food, family, and friends. Delish!

My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie (and it’s GF!!)

Oh my oh my how I love cookies.  I have been drooling over the chocolate chip cookies that Little Sis kindly gave to her neighbor (who kindly plowed her drive)…. but they have wheat flour and I can’t see torturing one member of the family by making chocolate chip cookies that he can’t eat.  So I decided to give a GF choc chip another try.  I also decided to indulge by in part using Bob’s Red Mill GF flour / baking mix.  It makes up for the use of potato starch with garbanzo bean flour, so it has fiber and protein in it, but, as the name suggests – no gluten.

These cookies were chewy and since they are a little sweeter than my usual home baked goods, I could use these to thank neighbors and friends as well.  I was dubious enough of the outcome that I did not take any pictures of the process… but I quickly just snapped a picture of the last 2 cookies.  A few have been frozen away for lunches, but don’t tell, because they might not all make it into my son’s lunchbox!  I try to freeze some of whatever treat gets made so that A) it can easily be stuffed into a lunch box over the next several weeks, and B) there isn’t a big pile of it sitting around asking to be eaten!!

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Okay, so one is a little broken – but I don’t cry over broken cookies…. they are just a hint from the universe to remember to share!

My Best GF chocolate chip cookies  – vegan as well!!
– adapted from I.S. at Yahoo Voices

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF baking mix
½ c almond meal (or dried and pulverized leftover almond milk mash – that’s what I use)
½ c brown rice flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp guar gum
½ c unrefined sugar
½ tsp salt
½ c pure maple syrup
½ Tbsp blackstrap molasses
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup organic neutral flavored oil
½ – 2/3 c non-dairy chocolate chips
½ c roughly chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix the dry except chips and nuts
In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.
Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chips & pecans, and stir until combined
Place ½ Tbsp scoops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, rotating halfway through until browning just a tad on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack before removing from tray.
As Little Sis always says….. and she comes from a very bright family I hear – Eat that chocolate cookie while it is still warm!!

Looking for some other Gluten Free treats?
Chickpea/Chocolate Cookies
Almond Joy Brownies
2 Ingredient Yum (Fudge)
Cranberry Apple Pecan Crunch
Nut Butter Bliss Balls
Sweet Potato Crust Apple Pie / Cobbler

Great Grains: Quinoa & Summer Veggie Fun

How have I not written this post yet?!  We use a lot of quinoa around here. Why? Well, there’s lots of reasons, but  I favor quinoa because it tastes great, has a much higher nutritional impact (more protein plus fiber, vitamins and minerals) than rice, is gluten free, AND is really versatile.

My most recent quinoa creation had everything to do with the weather. My favorite time of year has finally arrived. Fall is in the air and in the night chill, but hasn’t fully asserted itself yet. Cool nights, warm days, long walks and garden madness. Yay! Now that the critters have been deterred and I am allowed to eat some of my garden produce, I have the delight of finding ways to use that abundance that really allow their natural yum to stand out. For me, that often means using those veggies raw. I like the crispness, the clear unmuddled flavor of raw veggies. I also, admittedly, like not having to work all that hard to prepare them. 😉 Continue reading

GF pizza crust mix review and super fast pizza sauce

I used to make pizza at home about once a week.   Little Sis’ family has homemade pizza once a week as well – I know you’re stunned that we do something alike .  However, Mr. Little Sis is a gluten genius and makes heavenly crust from scratch.  My husband is funny and plays a mean guitar lick but does not make pizza crust and for some reason I don’t either.  I used to use whole grain flat breads from the store and add my quick sauce, lots of fresh veggies and cheese and bake.  Still a great fast option if you do gluten!

Since we can’t do gluten or dairy anymore we do not eat pizza.  This makes it much harder to deny my son crappy restaurant or school pizza.  I mean the kid LOVES pizza, he ought to be able to eat it sometimes, don’t you think?

I have tried a few GF crusts including using soccacia (garbanzo based crepe type thing), but although a nice meal, it doesn’t feel like pizza.  I should say the crust doesn’t feel like pizza.  It’s too flat – no spring.  I am SO spoiled.  Some people don’t have enough calories and I’m worried about spring in my dough, but there you have it.  If one CAN have spring in one’s dough – and yes I feel a song coming on – then why not?

Enter Namaste Foods GF pizza crust mix.  While it does include tapioca flour and arrowroot flour (pretty starchy, no fiber), the first ingredient is brown rice flour – and I’m sure it’s still better than what one gets in the school cafeteria pizza crust!

P1000676This was very easy to prepare – add water and oil, beat up for a few minutes and spread out on an oiled pizza pan (or cookie sheet in my case).  The crusts baked for 20 minutes and came out looking crispy on the edges and still a bit doughy in the middle:

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I topped them with my super fast tomato sauce:
1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (by all means use fresh if you have them)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 large clove garlic
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp of basil, thyme and/or rosemary if you like.  I was using flavorful toppings so I just did oregano
Whiz it up in your blender.
If you don’t have a power blender like a Vita Mix, you could mince your garlic and then mix it by hand.

Spread the tomato sauce out on your crust….

P1000677  Let everyone have a little input on what goes on top (making sure that the reluctant vegetable eaters are only given choices you approve of 😉 )  and put back in the oven until the ‘cheese’ melts.  I used cashew cheese on half of the pizza for me and my husband and cheddar (my son’s fave – even on pizza) on the other half.  Olives  and bell peppers for everyone – zucchini on the other pie.

P1000678I have to say that the crust was crispy in spots and chewy in spots.  It was strong enough to pick up and eat the pizza with my hands, yet there was some chew.  Now the chew did not rival wheat crust, but it was at least chewy.

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We ALL enjoyed it, so I’m thinking if the gluten-eating pizza lover enjoyed it, that’s a good endorsement!  I may experiment to come up with my own mix from scratch, but until then, a bag of this in the pantry means I can get GF pizza on the table in about 35 minutes.   That makes me feel springy all over!

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

And you then mix it with sweet potatoes?  For real?

This is indeed something completely different, and my whole family enjoyed it and O.K.’ed it as a thermos filler in the lunchbox.  I love it.

Believe what you will about serendipity / fate / destiny, but how often do you have leftover coconut milk, cilantro and lime and then randomly choose a recipe in your new book “Meals That Heal Inflammation” that requires all 3?  Seemed like I was the chosen one in the chosen moment to try this strange concoction called “Sweet Potato Gratin.”  (By the way, I had those ingredients after making Thai Tomato Soup a la An Unrefined Vegan – a GREAT source for inventive and delicious vegan recipes, and Thai Tomato Soup rocks.) Continue reading

Soccacia / Gluten Free Pizza crust

Going gluten free to treat my husband’s colitis has introduced us to lots of new foods!  As of yet, nothing that feels quite like wheat bread, but I find that if I think of the gluten-free foods as something new and exciting rather than as a meager substitute for bread, I am often more than pleasantly surprised.  I know, it is not earth shattering news, the impact of positive attitude, but I am indeed trying to take some of the advice I freely give my 11 year old regarding trying new foods.

Back to the GF adventure… We have made a doubly pleasant discovery in the easy and flexible form of dosas and now Soccas.  Socca is a mediterranean snack that is basically a baked or broiled chickpea crepe/tortilla/crust/dough type thing.  It is really similar to a dosa except that instead of cooking the chickpea batter like a pancake, you bake it.   A gluten free dough-type thing I can bake in the oven is begging for topping.  “Please Ma’am,” it says in a nasal chickpea tone, “slather me with veggies and perhaps tomato sauce and vegan cheese!!”

I love it when my food speaks to me.  I also love combining elements of a meal so that I don’t have to serve a bunch of different items.   Throw it all together Baby, it all ends up the same place anyway, right?

I did not venture for pizza tonight as I didn’t have the ingredients or time for vegan cheese, (hubby is not eating dairy either) but a socca pizza is definitely in our future.  Tonight, I figured I’d experiment with this Socca thang and just plop some sauteed whatever-needs-to-be-picked-from-the-garden on top.

Swiss chard wins!  And Swiss chard rules by the way, so I was delighted to have a big armful.

Here is the recipe for socca that I used (borrowed from The Vegan Chickpea):

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup cold, filtered water
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare a 9″ round cake pan by cutting out a round piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan and then lightly greasing the sides of the pan and parchment. (Don’t go all crazy cutting this out perfectly, but pour carefully so it doesn’t go under and know that whatever hits the pan will stick a little.)

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine garbanzo flour, water, garlic, and sea salt and whisk until completely combined and no lumps remain.  Pour into prepared cake pan.  (It is quite wet and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to post this because it wouldn’t work… but it did!!)

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  (You can see below that it dries and firms up.)

Add your sauteed toppings and pop back if needed to synchronize warmth.  I sauteed onion with the swiss chard in a little olive oil and salt and pepper, but really the possibilities are endless.

Much more filling than wheat dough crust with some leftovers to take to work.  Easy dinner and easy lunch… That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it!  Hubby is getting better as well, making all of the GF adventure very rewarding indeed!