Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gluten-Free + Vegan + Sugar-Free Cake

Sound too good to be true?

Here I present to you a fabulous-tasting chocolate layer cake. Moist and delicious. Tender and rich. Chocolate at its best. Allergen-free. No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or sugar!

Seriously, you just can't go wrong here.

I modified my Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake on page 342 of our cookbook to be made into a layer cake. Really with only slight changes. I took out the cup of beets and the one cup of water and replaced them with 1 cup of prunes in which you soak in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and then puree into a smooth paste.

Don't get me wrong I still love this cake made with the beets. I am a lover of beets prepared any and all ways. Though the prunes in this version add moisture, sweetness, and a certain binding action that makes it work very well in a layered cake.

Still, if you don't want to fuss with layers then just pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish and bake away. You can add the sugar-free frosting below if desired. I am not the biggest fan of frosting, never have been. Though this recipe is nice, not too sweet, and helps keep the cake moist for days. Frosted or not this cake is a winner!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How To Roast Brussels Sprouts

Today was our daughter, Gracie's, 4th Birthday. I can't believe she is four already. Where did 3 go? It just disappeared into sleepless nights and endless days with twin babies.

We had a small birthday party for her over the weekend and spent the last few days telling her the story of her birth. A wonderful, peaceful birth-day, the day of the full moon, and her due date. She arrived in our home just after lunch with a short an easy labor on a beautiful, sunny and unusually warm February day. The cherry blossoms were already in bloom, so fittingly, Lily nicknamed her (before she was born) Cherry Blossom baby (though we had no idea we were having a girl). As Tom was floating newborn Grace in the warm water of our birthing tub my mom called out to Lily, who was also in the birthing tub, "Lily what is the baby's name?" Cherry Blossom, Lily replied. The name stuck around for a while and eventually Lily began to call her Grace.

A lot has happened since becoming pregnant with her. In the Spring of 2004, during my first trimester, Tom found out he was gluten-sensitive rather by accident. He was doing a raw food cleanse for a few weeks and noticed that all of his symptoms disappeared and then returned upon commencing his normal diet. He had a good idea what the culprit was since he was already somewhat familiar with celiac disease and working on finishing his Master's degree in Nutrition. I was happy for him to find relief in his digestive discomfort, which was sometimes extreme, but mad at the same time that he wouldn't and couldn't eat my homemade bread and cinnamon rolls (among others) anymore. I now see this in a lot of people......the anger, and then finally the coming to terms with the issues surrounding eating or not eating gluten.

It has become his crusade in this lifetime - to educate people using the knowledge of science and research to better understand the ramifications of ingesting gluten and the myriad of health problems associated with it. 

And it is my journey to keep on creating great-tasting food that everyone can enjoy, allergy-free or not. Today, for Gracie's birthday, I made her a gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and sugar-free chocolate layer cake. I used a combination of maple syrup and agave nectar to sweeten it and pureed prunes to add moisture, flavor, and extra sweetness. It is not a sugary, guilt-laden cake, but rather a whole foods based cake for those of you who "like to have their cake and eat it too."

Is this something you would be interested in me posting? I know we have a diverse audience. Some of you are on the Elimination Diet, some of you are into eating whole foods, and others are dealing with multiple food allergies. I would love some feedback in what interests you.

Ok, so now on to the Brussels Sprouts...

Little mini-cabbages. A cabbage family vegetable. Super nutritious. Assists in liver detoxification. Very tasty when roasted.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quick and Healthy Gluten-Free Breakfasts

When I was younger my parents made a well-rounded breakfast nearly every morning. Back then this consisted of scrambled eggs, toast, and fruit or pancakes, sausages, and fresh fruit. French Toast with maple syrup was a regular favorite too. Maybe even waffles made in a Mickey Mouse waffle iron. Remember those?

Of course some mornings we were all running late and had cold breakfast cereal with milk but I don't remember those mornings so much.

These days, times have changed but the well-rounded breakfast still rings true. What can you feed your family that is wholesome and if you are avoiding gluten, then gluten-free too? And what about those of you who also avoid dairy, soy, and eggs? The list of options seems to now have grown smaller, or so it may seem.

Yesterday morning I awoke and was not at all in the mood for making breakfast. We have the time, the kids are on winter break this week so no need to rush off to school, though I just wasn't up for it.

I had a pot of cooked quinoa still on the stove from the previous day. (Note: do not do this if you live in a warm climate because your quinoa will spoil quickly!) I decided to add a few tablespoons of water to the pot and put it over medium-low heat, covered, to warm up. Plain quinoa can be rather boring so I decided to spice it up by sauteing a few sliced apples with cinnamon and honey to top our bowlfuls of steaming hot quinoa. I added a few tablespoons of ground raw almonds which add a bit of "staying power" for me. The result was a delicious and nutritious gluten-free breakfast!

Quick Quinoa Breakfast with Warm Cinnamon Apples

Try making a double batch of the apples (use a larger pan) and save some in the fridge for the next few breakfasts. You can also add fresh or frozen cranberries to the apples or dried fruit such as raisins or currants. Try using other fruit in place of the apples such as fresh or frozen peaches or plums. We make large pots of quinoa but you can make a small pot like I do in this recipe.

How to Make a Pot of Quinoa:

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
pinch sea salt

Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer to remove the bitter saponin coating. Place rinsed quinoa in a small pot and add water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Cinnamon Apple Topping:.

1 to 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
3 apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup water or apple juice
2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch sea salt

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add coconut oil. Once the oil is melted add your apples and saute far a few minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the honey, water, spices and salt. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until apples are cooked as desired.

Top each bowl of quinoa with apples and chopped or ground nuts.

Other Ideas for a Healthy Gluten-Free Breakfast:

  • A bowl of cooked quinoa and cooked lentils topped with a sprinkling of Herbamare. Sliced apples on the side. (our kids love this - it is a favorite)

  • Finely diced potatoes sauteed with chopped onions and cumin then rolled in a rice tortilla with black beans and salsa.

  • Leftover cooked rice and cooked garbanzo beans topped with a little Herbamare, green smoothie on the side.

  • Sweet Rice Cereal (recipe in our cookbook) topped with pure Grade B maple syrup and chopped nuts.
  • Buckwheat Pancakes (recipe in our cookbook) topped with fresh fruit and pure Grade B maple syrup.
  • Teff Breakfast Muffin with a tall glass of Green Smoothie.

These are just a few ideas that don't involve gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, or soy, some of the top foods that can elicit a host of health-related issues.

What are your ideas for a healthy (and usually quick) breakfast?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Nori Rolls with Sticky Brown Rice

Nori rolls are an all-time favorite in our family. They were a staple food through all of my pregnancies, I could even handle them during the 17 weeks of extreme nausea I experienced while pregnant with my twins!

Whenever our family goes out for a hike, a day at the beach, up to the mountain to play in the snow, or on an airplane trip, these rolls are sure to go too. They are the ultimate in healthy snack foods.

The seaweed is salty and full of trace minerals, the sticky brown rice is slightly sweet and nourishing. Then add in whatever vegetables please your palette and maybe a dab of leftover cooked salmon or sautéed tofu and you are good to go. A well-rounded meal or snack.

Slice them or leave them whole. Eat them with wasabi and tamari or eat them plain. Maybe a bite of pickled ginger here and there. Do what pleases you and your dietary needs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Little Slice of Chocolate Heaven

Love is in the air now, can't you feel it? The girls and I have been making Valentine's for over a week now. There is glitter all over the house!

What do you do to celebrate Valentine's Day?

I know for most of us chocolate is involved. Maybe roses, a massage, a nice dinner. These are all wonderful things, but what about love?

I have a little book that I bought when I was 19 called Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh. I have carried it with me during these last 12 years, through all of the moves, packing and unpacking, changing schools, relationships, having babies. You all know him, right? He is the poet and Zen Master, peacemaker and author who travels the globe leading retreats on mindful living. I have always wanted to visit Plum Village in the South of France where he resides...someday I will, maybe when the kids are older.

In the beginning of the book, Thich Nhat Hanh offers us this quote from the Buddha:

"With his mind filled with love, the monk permeates one direction, and then a second, a third, a fourth, above, below, and all around, everywhere identifying himself with all. He permeates the whole world with his mind filled with love, wide, far, developed, unbound, free from hatred and ill-will. He does the same with his mind filled with compassion, joy, and equanimity." (Subha Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, Sutra 99)

I thought this quote was very moving and indeed what we need today. By filling ourselves with beautiful thoughts, surroundings, flavors, people, colors, you name it, can we fill up our "love cup." Then and only can we spread love to the world. And we all know that the world could use a little extra love right now. This is just food for thought for you on this upcoming lovely day, Valentine's Day. I am not trying to espouse Buddhism here, nor am I Buddhist, I just take a little of everything and see what works for me. Hope it inspires you too.

So this Valentine's Day, do a little something first for yourself and then once you are feeling good, spread the love.

I have been playing around with a raw chocolate pie recipe for sometime now and I think I have it down now.

It is chocolate indulgence to the highest degree. Thick and rich. A twinge of cinnamon. A burst of sweet and tangy raspberry. The sublime richness of deep, dark chocolate. Vegan, raw, and gluten-free.

Your mouth watering yet?

Well, this pie is very simple to make. Yes some of the ingredients may be hard to come by if you live in a small town. 

Happy Valentine's Day! Love to you all.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chocolate Chip Banana Teff Bread

Well that's a mouthful, we could just say Banana Bread and call it good. Who needs gluten or dairy when you can have this? Here is a real life testimonial from the mouth of my almost 4-year old daughter (with bread in hand): "This bread is so good you ever made, I love chocolate chips!"

This recipe is an example of how you can modify any of the muffin or quick bread recipes in my cookbook to use different flours. If you look on page 133 of my cookbook you will see our recipe for Banana Walnut Muffins. This bread recipe is identical but the brown rice flour has been replaced with a combination of brown teff flour and sorghum flour. I didn't add the walnuts either. My girls have decided that they don't like walnuts in their bread anymore. And of course the recipe just wouldn't be complete unless I added chocolate!

Have you tried the mini-chocolate chips from Enjoy Life? They are delicious. Unfortunately they are not organic but thankfully are gluten, soy, dairy, egg, and nut free! Truly a chocolate blessing for those affected with multiple food allergies. I bought a large bag from the a while ago. I transferred them to glass jars and stored them in my freezer.

In this recipe I used Hemp Dream hemp milk. Hemp Dream, by the manufacturers of Rice Dream and Soy Dream non-dairy milks, has a fantastic flavor and consistency. 

I used maple sugar in this recipe instead of cane sugar. I know many people like to avoid cane sugar, so I wanted to share with you what a wonderful replacement maple sugar is! Be careful though about buying just any brand. Many of them are not gluten-free because of cross-contamination during processing. The maple sugar from Authentic Foods is GF, which is what I used here. You could also use coconut sugar. See the post I did on Links to Products We Use for where to purchase.

Teff flour is so nutrient dense and works so wonderfully well in baking that I am working on finding new ways to use it. Stay tuned for more teff recipes!

In the mean time, enjoy this little jewel of a recipe.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Black-Eyed Pea Soup and Oven Fries

So you want to eat nutritious, healing foods AND need to eat gluten-free? Look no further. Having simple, easy-to-prepare recipes like these can make this type of lifestyle very doable.

Here is a little secret recipe of mine. Well not so secret anymore. I have been making this soup for many years, I think about 9, and for some reason forgot to include it in our cookbook. Black-eyed peas are a wonderfully easy legume to cook with because they require no soaking. So don't fret if its 5pm and you are in a quandary as to what to make for dinner. As long as you have some very basic ingredients stocked in your kitchen you can have dinner ready by six.

I vividly remember the first time I made this soup for Tom. We were still in school then and pregnant with our first daughter, Lily. It was a chilly day in October and he was at school and work all day. I maybe had a class or two, don't quite remember. I do remember, though, that this day I created my pumpkin pie recipe (now in our cookbook). It was a very good first attempt and before putting it the cookbook I made many modifications to get it just right. Well that was dessert. For the meal, I made this soup (recipe to follow), corn muffins, and braised greens. You can only imagine the delight in his eyes coming home to a warm kitchen filled with sweet and spicy smells and the dining room table set for two with a bountiful meal. Oh food, glorious food!

Curious about the nutrient value of black-eyed peas?

Well, like other legumes black-eyed peas boast cholesterol-lowering fiber. In addition, this very same fiber prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or insulin resistance.

This soup is also an excellent choice if you are on Phase 3 of Tom's 28-Day Elimination and Detoxification Diet. It can be eaten once peppers (nightshades) have been introduced back into the diet.

So let's get cooking!

We like to serve this soup with a number of things (not necessarily all at the same meal). Sometimes we make Apple Spiced Collard Greens from our cookbook. Sometimes we serve it with brown rice, other times polenta. And occasionally (our children's favorite) we serve the soup with Oven Fries (a mix of yams and potatoes). Note: the Oven Fries recipe can be found on page 205 of our cookbook.

Someone recently inquired about gluten-free spices. Click here for a list of companies that offer gluten-free spices, baking extracts and flavorings, and spice mixes.

Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Soup

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dry black-eyed peas
8 to 10 cup water
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 cups (or so) broccoli florets
3 teaspoons sea salt or Herbamare

In a large (8 quart) stock pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 6 to 7 minutes or until very soft. Add garlic and spices. Saute a minute more.

Then add beans and water, cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Add carrots and cook for about 10 to 15 more minutes. Add red pepper and broccoli and simmer until vegetables are tender and beans are cooked, about 45 minutes total cooking time.

Add salt to taste and remove from heat. We like to sprinkle extra chili flakes on top of our bowls for an added kick!