King Arthur Cookie Mix

IMG_8041I love chocolate chip cookies.

No, really, I LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate chip cookies. You get the point.

Cookies are my weakness….and brownies too, but that’s for another experiment.

It’s a real bummer that I’ve taken it on myself to try all the different cookie mixes and review them. Oh darn…. 😉

Today, I decided to try the King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Cookie Mix. It’s base is rice flour blend, which I’m learning is my favorite gluten-free blend.

The was as easy as any other mix…pour in a bowl and add a bunch of stuff to it. The recipe called for 1/2. butter/oil, which I substituted 1/4 c. applesauce for half of the oil. The mix is a cookie mix, so you can technically add up to 3 cups of your favorite mix-ins. I was thinking this recipe would be great with walnuts, cranberries, and white chunks. But I didn’t have all that and was in the mood for chocolate.

So, chocolate chip cookies was the final out come. I used the Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chunks.

Final verdict on the cookies: PURE AWESOMENESS! Excellent fluffy cookies without the “gluten-free” flavor. Basically, it tastes like the ‘real thing.’

These are not sugar-free, but they taste great for the occasional gluten-free treat. I do NOT however, like the price for the mix. Ugh! I think its was over $4.50! Ah, all for the sake of the blog… 😉  Back to my quest for the perfect homemade flour blend!!! 🙂

Kelly

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Recipe: Granola Bars

Today, I decided to catch up on some baking. The kids were happily eating lunch, so it was my quick 5 minute “window of opportunity.” (If your a mom of young kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)

I had checked out from the library “Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon. I found several recipes in the book that were easy to whip up and were quite tasty. However, sadly, the book had to be returned after 3 weeks.

A few months later, Amazon came up with a suggestion for me to buy (isn’t that convenient for them?) “Everyday Happy Herbivore: On the table in 30 minutes or less!” by Lindsay Nixon. Well, Amazon won that day, and I purchased the book.

I’ve tried several things from her book so far. Tonight I’m making the Veggie Lo Mein. But by far, my most favorite thing from her book has been the granola bars. I cannot say enough of how EASY these were to put together, stay together, healthy, tasty, yummy, fast…..should I go on? I would really have to challenge these bars against Chewy brand on taste. (They are similar in texture and taste to the brand.)

Today, I made three different flavors in about 15 minutes (plus, baking time). I’m not about spending all day on recipes unless it’s in a crock pot. 😉

The recipe calls for “instant oats.” If you don’t have instant oats or want to use rolled-oats, the chefs notes on the page say “you can send rolled oats through your food processor [or blender] to grind them down into instant-oat consistency.”

Another item I used in my granola bars was the Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They are soy, nut and dairy free. (If you go to their website you can download a coupon for $0.55 off one of their products.) I like using the chocolate chips for a number of reasons, but one is that they don’t melt as much when baking as regular chocolate chips. The taste pretty much the same, but I think because they are lacking dairy, they don’t melt like regular ones. Anyways, they hold up really well in the granola bars so they don’t make a gooey mess.

Anyways, long intro, but here is the recipe! Enjoy. 🙂

Granola Bars (taken from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon p. 23)

  • 1 c. instant oats
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp raw sugar (optional: I didn’t use it…it was plenty sweet enough)

1. Stir all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. They will appear too dry at first, by they’re not—keep stroking

2. Once combined, let the batter rest while the oven preheats to 325F

3. Grease a bread pan [or use parchment paper] and pack mixture down firmly and tightly

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden, firm, and light brown around the edges

5. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting

Variations:

1. Peanut Butter Granola Bars: substitute 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for 1 tablespoon of applesauce. Combine peanut butter with applesauce and heat in microwave for 10 seconds so peanut butter softens. Whisk together and use as directed.

2. Use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips. Today I used dried cranberries.

Makes 5

Recipe: Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

Last week, a good friend of mine challenged me to find or come up with a recipe using cranberries. I have to admit, in the past, cranberries have never been my favorite. I have always passed over the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving feast. Even laced with huge amounts of sugar, they still tasted too tart for me.

Well, all that has changed, and I have actually learned to love cranberries! Last Thanksgiving, I did without the sugary cranberry sauce and made a pretty awesome Roasted Maple Syrup Cranberry sauce. Anyway, that’s for another time…. 😉

So, my challenge: recipe using cranberries!

A friend of my friend (follow me here….) sent a recipe to me for Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins. It really looked great and very tasty. But alas, it called for “2 cups of sugar, white flour, oil, and eggs.” The title of the recipe really drew me in….cranberries and pumpkin….ahh! it just sums up this whole fall season! I knew I had to make it so my family could eat it.

I decided to use spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient wheat and is closely related to wheat. It also is equally measured in recipes to wheat. Our family has mostly avoided spelt because of it’s close ties to wheat and it does contain gluten. But, I decided to use this recipe as an experiment of tolerance. (I plan on remaking this recipe, in the future, using a true gluten-free wheat-free flour alternative.)

Vegan Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins (or Bread!)

  • 3 cups spelt flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup stevia/cane sugar mix
  • 15 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 4 T. chia seed gel
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

1. Chop up the fresh cranberries and soak them in the 1/2 cup orange juice for 20-30 minutes. This will help lessen that tartness of the cranberries.

2. Mix together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together canned pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and chia seed gel.

4. Blend together wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Using a hand mixer or mixer, blend for 2 minutes on medium.

5. Gently stir into muffin batter, cranberries and orange juice mixture. Stir until blended.

6. Pour mixture into muffin cups, makes about 30 muffins

OR

Pour mixture into 2- 8×4 inch loaf pans to make bread.

7. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes for muffins, or 45-50 minutes for bread. Insert a toothpick to check to see if it’s done.

This recipe does make a lot. With a family of six, left overs is never a problem! But, if you do have left overs and can’t eat this much, freeze them! 🙂 Bake and then store them in a freezer ziplock bags. Defrost them when your ready to eat them.

 

soaking the cranberries in orange juice

 

Waiting for the muffins to be finished

Enjoy,
Kelly

 

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

I love smoothies….my kids love smoothies…..Shawn loves smoothies. All I have to say is: “It’s smoothie time!” And all four kids come running.

I’ve posted another recipe using blueberries and almond milk. Then hiding some spinach in the mixture. Sounds gross (it’s not!), but I feel better, because my kids get some greens, and it’s completely undetectable in flavor. (SCORE!)

Here is another smoothie recipe that is “super good.” (quote from Hannah Grace, 8) She gave the smoothie it’s name after trying it. This is a very hardy smoothie that is really perfect anytime of the day. I could see eating this for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Smoothie

You will need:

  • 2 cups frozen banana (about 2 whole bananas)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 T. mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Put all the ingredients in the mixer (I have an$80 Ninja that has a broken lid….so I don’t want to hear any complaints!). Blend well, and then pour into a cup. Enjoy!
Kelly

 

Break the Fast

“Breakfast is the most imp0rtant meal of the day!”

Yeah, we’ve all heard that. But truly, IT IS the most important meal of the day. It is the meal where you literally break your fast from the night. It kick starts your metabolism.

I’ve never had a problem eating breakfast. I usually starving within an hour of waking up. But I know for quite a few people, it is a problem. Many people actually make lunch their first meal of the day. This is not good for many reasons; you are not giving your body energy (calories) to start your day off right. Your body was designed to eat.

I’ll never forget what my trainer said to me: “Eat breakfast! Something, ANYTHING, just eat something!”

Our mornings, probably much like yours, are a little crazy. We are trying to get the day started and well, it’s nuts. Here are some quick breakfast ideas for you that will give you a healthy start to your day:

1. Oatmeal: Yup, good old fashioned oatmeal. We eat this most mornings. It cooks up fast and I’ve heard from my AWESOME readers that there are a huge variety of stuff you can use to flavor it up. Cranberries, almonds, maple syrup, peanut butter, dates, or fruit. I loved all the feed back on Facebook on this fun topic! My personal favorite is 1/2 cup oats, (water), blueberries, and walnuts. YUM!

2. Powered up cereal: I’m not a big fan of cold cereal as it’s usually loaded with junk and sugar. I found some brown rice cereal at Sprouts that is only just that: puffed brown rice. Nothing more is added! Anyways, we do this sometimes for a quick breakfast. I always add in some “extra power,” by loading up the cereal with tons of fresh or dried fruit. Today was bananas and cranberries. (Yeah, yeah, I need to go to the store….) Usually I add in strawberries and peaches too. It’s a huge breakfast for these little guys, but a good start to the day. And for the “sprinkles” (thank you, Holly at My Plant Based Family, for the idea!) I added chia seeds over the top.

3. Smoothies: We love smoothies. (You can check out this link to see what kind of smoothies we make.) We don’t just eat them for breakfast either. Sometimes it’s a snack….or dinner, depending on the day. 😉 We add in different things too. But I always try to include some greens. Spinach is the most “blendable” as far as the flavor goes. You can sneak it into your drink and you’ll never know it’s there. We have a cheap Ninja blender. It was $80 at the store. It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job. We also always use almond or coconut milk (never water). The “milk” helps make it thicker and in my opinion, taste a little creamier. Then add in your favorite fruits or whatever your heart desires 🙂

Anyways, there is a million ideas for breakfast!

What’s your favorite meal to break your fast??

Kelly

Crockpot Applesauce!

I have quite a good collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I look through old ones, often, to find new inspiration or to try something I may have missed before. Recently, I discovered Pinterest and now my recipe collection is growing exponentially via the virtual world. What can I say, I really love food!

One of my newest cookbooks is “The Vegan Slowcooker.” I got this as a gift, for my birthday, from my parents. (Thanks Dad and Mom!) I cannot say enough great things about this book! The author, Kathy, takes seemingly complex recipes, and makes it so simple by throwing all the items in the crockpot! This past weekend I tried her pumpkin puree, which was as easy as [pumpkin] pie. I have also made a split pea and lentil soup, from the book, that my kids couldn’t get enough of. She also runs a website, Healthy Slow Cooking.

After trying the pumpkin puree, and realizing the absolute power my slow cooker has, I looked around my kitchen for something else I could slow cook…..applesauce! This was so easy, I have no idea why I hadn’t done it before.

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 5-8 large apples (I used honey crisp)
  • Cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or juice

Directions:

Wash and peel the apples. Cut the apples into large chunks and place them in a crockpot. Add 1/2 cup water or juice (I used white grape) and pour it over the apples. Add cinnamon and season to taste (about 1-2 tsp), or add 2 cinnamon sticks. Turn crockpot on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. When the apples are done, use a potato masher to mash up the apples. I prefer chunkier applesauce, but you can mash until it’s to your liking. 🙂 Enjoy warm or let it cool and keep it refrigerated. If you have leftovers, freeze it.

Yup, it’s that simple! I have a second batch cooking right now…..because the first batch seems to have disappeared. Huh, funny how that happens!

Enjoy!

Kelly

Pie pumpkin in a pot…yum, yum, yum!

My family loves pumpkin. Anything pumpkin…pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes….you get it?
I had heard that making your own pumpkin puree was difficult. I really don’t know much more of why it was or what the deal was. Also, every recipe I looked at, said to use the dreaded kitchen tool I don’t have, the food processor.

While glancing through one of my new recipe books: “The Vegan Slowcooker,” I noticed a recipe for “pumpkin puree.” It really looked so simple so I decided to give it a try.

Basic recipe for Puree Pumpkin

(Taken from “The Vegan Slowcooker”)

“Wash the pumpkin, and poke holes in it for the steam to escape. Place it in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When it’s ready, a fork should easily slide through the skin and the flesh.

Let the pumpkin cool until you can touch it without burning yourself. Move it to a cutting board, and slice it in half. Remove the seeds and pumpkin guts. Scrape the flesh into a food processor (or use a hand mixer, potato masher, or blender) and puree until smooth.”

I found a cute little pie pumpkin at the grocery store and fell in love. They are small and very festive looking for the fall. I decided to adopt him and bring him home with me to cook. 🙂 Pie pumpkins are much smaller than the regular jack-o’-lanterns. If you see one at the store, you’ll realize why I called it “cute.”

After the pumpkin was cooked and cool to touch, I broke it open and scraped out the seeds and “good stuff.” At this point, the pumpkin was cooked so perfectly, I didn’t even have to run it through a hand mixer or dirty up any more kitchen utensils. (YAY!) A fork made a good “masher” and broke up a chunks of pumpkin that were left.

At this point, I could’ve put it in a ziplock or container for future use (a.k.a. “pumpkin puree”). I decided to go ahead with making some pumpkin butter.

There was several recipes I found online that called for 1-2 cups of white sugar. Some called for brown sugar. But either way, I was trying to find a less sugar option for my pumpkin butter.

I found this recipe and modified it slightly because I was working with a whole pie pumpkin and not just a can of pumpkin puree. I added in 1/4 cup of honey as well as the agave nectar the recipe calls for.

Verdict: It turned out super yummy! Not too sweet either, which will be a great topping to some pancakes or gluten-free bread! Shawn said it tasted just like pumpkin pie. I’d say that’s a win! 😉

Kelly

Double Chocolate Nut Butter Oaties

If this title isn’t enough to draw you in, I am lost at marketing.

Anytime I hear the words “chocolate” and “nut butter” in the same title, my mouth starts drooling. I love chocolate and peanut butter. This heavenly combination is one of the many reasons why, a mere 18 months ago, I was at my heaviest of almost 200 pounds. (AH!)

I have a sweet tooth….really bad. I think that’s why I’ve been drawn to alternative baking. My sweet tooth has changed over the past year and a half. I now crave the sweetness of fresh fruit and enjoy lightly sweetened treats. Refined sugar is now too sweet for my taste buds. But, I think, that is the way nature intended it to be.

Yesterday, Shirley (from glutenfreeeasily.com) posted an excellent recipe that I had to print off right away and try. Super simple, quick cookies that got 5 stars from everyone in my family.

The recipe calls for “nut butter,” (which can mean your favorite butter) and I would probably put in peanut butter as my first choice, if Julia didn’t have an allergy. I substituted “nut butter” for Sunbutter, which is sunflower seed ground up to make a butter. To me, it tastes very similar to peanut butter, but without oil and obviously, peanuts.

I also substituted Stevia/Cane sugar for the sugar in the recipe. The recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, but trying to be as sugar-free as possible, I opted for 1/4 cup of Stevia/Cane sugar. I found this to be the perfect amount of sweetness. It took the bitterness of the cocoa powder away, and added a touch of sweet. Perfect!

Another item on the recipe list was “oat flour.” I didn’t have any pre-made oat flour. You can purchase some at the grocery store for some crazy price. I chose to not purchase it and just make my own.

Making your own flours is very cost effective. Unfortunately, I do not have a food processor, so making almond flour, for example, is out of the question for me…..until I get a food processor, *wink*! Today was my first attempt at making my own oat flour. I have a so-so quality blender. It’s nothing fancy but today it did a great job on making some homemade oat flour. (yay!)

To make oat flour: pour old fashioned oats in the blender, put the lid on, and press the “on” button. Blend for a few minutes, and then *TA-DA*: oat flour.

Popped the cookies in the oven, and the finished product was: TOTALLY AWESOME! 🙂

You can get the recipe here at Gluten Free Easily: Double Chocolate Nut Butter Oaties.

Enjoy!!

Kelly

 

Recipe: Nutbutter Bars

It’s complete! My very first recipe!

I had to start with something baked and something with chocolate….which to me, is the perfect combination!

This recipe is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and vegan (if your the kind that is okay with honey ;)). Full of nut flavor.

(Please feel free to try this recipe, but please don’t steal it without giving credit; that’s just mean.)

Nutbutter Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. chia seed gel
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Mix in a medium bowl, almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir. Mix in almond butter, honey, almond extract, vanilla, and chia seed gel. Mix well. Gently stir in shredded unsweetened coconut and chocolate chips until well combined. Mixture will be thick.

Pour mixture/dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Top will be slightly brown when done. Allow to cool in pan before cutting. Makes 12 servings.

Happy Baking!
Kelly

Young and Sick: Meet my Kids

It’s hard to believe that just last summer we were in the middle of several “minor” long term illnesses. I never would’ve thought our adventure would lead us to a changed food life. Last summer, I really didn’t believe eating differently would really change our life. I had heard about people being cured by changing their diets, but it seemed extreme and just plain crazy.

Ohhh, how naive I was!

I really honestly believed we were a healthy family. We never ate at McDonalds, we didn’t drink soda, I made sure my kids had fresh fruits and vegetables to eat, and I made a homemade dinner nearly every night of the week.

A typical day of food for my children was: Breakfast: banana, cheerios, milk; Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, applesauce, cookie; Snack: Goldfish, grapes or Nilla wafers, raisins; Dinner: spaghetti, frozen green beans, garlic bread, a glass of milk, and dessert.

Pretty “normal” looking right? You’d think we’d all be the picture of health, right? WRONG! Food was our problem and NEW food was our cure.

Meet my 4 beautiful children:

Logan, age 3

Logan: The youngest of the bunch….although only by 9 minutes. He is an identical twin of Jacob. They just turned 3 in April. Logan’s issues began right after his first birthday. Hives appeared. Everywhere. All over his body. It would show up at random times and then disappear as quickly as they came. Sometimes they would completely cover his body from head to toe, other times it was just his legs or his face. The hives had no rhyme or reason. After several trips to the pediatrician, 3 different dermatologist (including a renowned pediatric dermatologist specialist), an allergist, and getting poked for allergy testing, blood work, and a biopsy, it was concluded that Logan had Urticaria (hives) from an “unknown source.” After 8 months of a Zyrtec/Zantec combination, he was finally cured. It wasn’t until looking back on the situation, we realized his healing occurred right around the time of our food changes. Either way, in over a year, he has not had any more outbreaks.

Jacob, age 3

Jacob: The older of the twins. Jacob’s issues also began right around his first birthday, although very different from his brothers. The problem began after he stopped nursing at 13 months. His problem was constipation. It started off very minor, and I thought this was just part of Jacob. He would not go for a few days and then would finally go after much straining, trying, and pushing. This went on for most of his second year of life. By the time he turned 2, it was a full-out daily struggle for him. At his worst point, he would wake up in the morning crying from pain, and would spend the next 7 hours trying to poop. (sorry if TMI!) I finally took him to the doctor, and realized this was NOT normal. His pediatrician sent us to go get an x-ray. The x-ray revealed that Jacob was severely constipated, and that it would take a person 2-3 months to “get this bad.” Since he was already eating a “healthy” diet (according to the doctor), she prescribed for him daily Miralax, and said “this was part of Jacob.” I believed it was MORE than just part of Jacob, and it didn’t make sense to me why a perfectly healthy toddler would be this constipated! I put him on Miralax 2 weeks before we started our new food routine. Once we started our new diet, I took him off the Miralax to see how he did. Within a month, he was a completely normal toddler. It wasn’t until we went on vacation (4 months later), eating our old Standard American Diet that his constipation came back.

Eating healthy, clean foods, Jacob is now a perfectly healthy 3 year old, who loves just about every fruit and veggie!

Julia, age 7

Julia: Oh, our sweet little Julia….She has battled with food and environmental allergies since she was born. She is now 7 years old. She is also ridden with eczema. Julia was on allergy shots by the time she was 3.5 years old. I took her in twice a week to get her shot. She was a very brave little girl. After a year of allergy shots, Julia was STILL on all seasonal allergy medicines, and her eczema was actually getting worse. I asked the doctor, who had promised this would all improve with the shots, and the doctor said “well, Julia just might have to stay on the medicine for the rest of her life.” We decided to stop her on allergy shots. About a year later, we met the nutritionist and it was a God-send for Julia. She explained that Julia would be an “easy fix” because she was so young, as long as she was open and willing to change what she ate. Julia hated her “itchy” skin and was very much on board with the food changes. We have noticed a HUGE change in Julia since eating a clean, healthy diet. Within a month (during high allergy season), the purple-ringed-allergy-eyes were completely gone! It took a little longer for her skin to clear up, which was about 2 months. Now, Julia is able to eat “sometimes foods” at Birthday parties and such and not have a reaction, like before. We give her lots of options of fresh fruits and vegetables but she is still able to eat a treat from time to time and maintain her healthy kid-glow.

Hannah, age 8

Hannah: Hannah is 8 year old, and our only child who has basically been completely healthy her entire life. She goes to the doctor maybe twice a year, and once is for her well-check. She is hardly ever sick. A completely healthy child. Hannah reminds me of myself as a child. I was very healthy and was hardly ever sick. However, by the time I was 26, I was sick with allergies, obese, had chronic tendonitis,  hypothyroidism, and just felt generally gross about myself. Real healthy, right? Was this where Hannah was heading? I have no idea, but I do know the food changes have impacted her life greatly. She was a slightly picky eater when it came to vegetables, but now she has learned to like things like sweet potatoes and spinach, and has a positive attitude about healthy eating.

I am excited to see how my children continue to grow and develop and Shawn and I are thankful we were taught how to properly feed our bodies to maintain a healthy quality of life. I hope this blog will be a source of inspiration for you. We are just a normal family, living a normal life.

Kelly