Experimenting the gluten-free way

Baked goods in my house go way too quickly. I don’t make them all the time, but when I pull out a batch of chocolate chip cookies…forget it…it’s gone by that night. Yes, six people really can eat 24 cookies in a day! So, I save the baked things for special times, or when I’m feeling in a “sweet kind of mood.” (um, yes, women, you understand!)

Since September of 2011, I’ve been experimenting with various different gluten-free flours and baking mixing. I shared with you about Pamela’s, which is my first go-to choice for mixes. But I try to have an open mind.

When we started our adventure, I baked solely with coconut flour. I liked the flavor and texture of the finished product, but hated the fact that coconut flour required so much liquid and eggs!

So, I slowly started moving to almond flour. My husband loved my baked goods with almond flour, but he’s a “fat lover”…and I’m a “carb lover.” So whenever I ate an almond flour cookie, I was left unsatisfied.

After almond flour, I was discouraged and just started following other peoples ideas from their recipe books. I also discovered the line of Bob’s Red Mill products. I realized very quickly that I hated the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free products. I couldn’t figure out why. Then recently, I realized, it was the sorghum flour that I dislike….VERY MUCH SO! *bleh!* Apparently, I’m the only one in the family that can taste the sorghum flour.

Anyways, I have gotten away from Bob’s Red Mill and started experimenting with Pamela’s, King Arthur, and also Betty Crockers Gluten-Free line. I have learned the flavors that bake up nicely, have a great texture, and also have a wonderfully great taste! I noticed my top picks for all my pre-made mixes all have “rice-flour blend” for the base. I think I need to readjust my thinking on flours!

Whenever I try out a new mix, these thoughts go through my mind:

  1. Does it taste like the wheat-flour alternative?
  2. Does it bake nicely?
  3. Is it easy to make?
  4. Does the smell in my kitchen make me want to devour every last bit of it?

If I answer “yes,” to all the above, it get the “Kelly Seal of Approval.”

From trying the pre-made mixes, I have learned what I like to bake (and EAT!). The pre-made mixes can be expensive, especially for a family of six. I feel like all of our experimenting has helped me learn the World of Gluten-free….so maybe my next mission will be to make my OWN gluten-free flour blend!!

But everyone has different taste buds and cravings.

Would love to hear your favorites!!

Kelly

(picture from: whats4dinnertonight.wordpress.com)
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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…. πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ™‚ 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

 

 

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!Β 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. πŸ™‚ 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

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! πŸ™‚

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

Enjoy!!

Kelly

 

Applesauce Cake

I was craving something sweet, so I decided to try a new recipe from the book I got on our trip called “Wow, this is Sugar Free!” When I picked the book up and opened it, I was really expecting a book full of fake-sugar (a.k.a Splenda) recipes. I was surprised to find that all the sweeteners used in this book are things like applesauce, raisins, apple juice, Stevia, and barley malt….which I have to admit, I have NO idea what barley malt is….

The other attraction to this book was that all the recipes are wheat-free. All of the recipes use “whole-grain flour.” However, she is not very clear on what that means for us standing in the grocery store baking aisle. I am still not quite sure what “whole-grain flour” means. (Wow, this post is making me sound clueless….) πŸ˜‰

“Whole-grain flours contain the entire grain kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm)… [The difference is important to the body because] by consuming these types of grains verses refined grains (white flours), whole-grain-flours slow down the rate at which sugars enter the bloodstream.” (taken from pg 192 “Wow, this is Sugar-free.”)

Even after reading this, I was still a little clueless as to what this means in baking terms. All I knew is that wheat is a no-no in our house, and I wanted to use my new book to make a cake!

So, I did what any lazy baker does…start throwing things in the mixer! πŸ˜‰

I decided to go with spelt flour, since that seemed to be the closest to a “whole-grain flour” and doesn’t make my family react. Throw it into the mixer… (perfect!)

Next, comes the almost 2 cups of applesauce, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and Stevia….(almost there…)

(oops, forgot the first step! GO BACK!) Yes, this lazy baker got ahead of herself and forgot the first step: “Combine in a large saucepan raisins and water and cook until soft.” says the recipe on page 91. I had never done this before….cooking raisins…..but it made for a great soft texture in the cake! I’m very glad I didn’t skip over this part!

Finally, finished the cake and popped it in the oven.

Yum, applesauce cake!!

Kelly

Not Everything is Perfect

This is something that I seem to say often lately.

Hannah and Julia start fighting “That’s not fair! blah, blah….”

My response: “Life isn’t fair and not everything it perfect in life. Sorry.”

Maybe it’s not the right response, but it’s what comes to my mind first.

Anyways, lately, I’ve made lots of baking mistakes. What better place to admit it than on a blog, right? I guess that’s what happens when you play around with ingredients and the mixture gets slightly off. It can be the difference between soggy brownies and fluffy brownies. Well, that’s what happened the other day…..*sigh* not everything is perfect….

I really wanted to try to adjust the quinoa brownies I posted the other day. They had butter, eggs, and sugar in them, which is usually a quick and easy adjustment, BUT I had never baked with quinoa before. So, theΒ  result: Not so good. The taste was amazing and I could see potential, but they were…um, soupy to say the least.

Potential, maybe. Anyways, back to the drawing board. When I figure it out I’ll be posting for sure!

Kelly