Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Muffin Recipe and a GIVEAWAY!

I have something fun planned for today. First, a wonderful gluten-free, casein-free, refined sugar-free muffin recipe to share that is full of healthy ingredients. No starches, no xanthan gum, just a few whole food ingredients. The recipe isn't mine though, it comes from another lovely food blogger, Kelly of The Spunky Coconut! And second, I'm giving away a free copy of her cookbook, The Spunky Coconut Cookbook (a $30 value). Read on to learn how to enter the drawing.

Kelly's cookbook contains 115 Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, and Sugar-Free recipes with 65 color photos. There are 100 vegetarian recipes and 30+ raw inspired recipes. She does use eggs in many of her baked treats though. But there are still plenty of egg-free recipes for those with sensitivities or who are vegan.

As the name of her book and blog suggest, many of her delicious recipes involve coconut; whether it is coconut milk, coconut oil, or shredded coconut. Here is a taste of a few of her recipes: Butternut Souffle, Chicken Meatballs, Creamy Pea Soup, Caesar Salad, Funa (fake tuna salad), Chocolate Chip Bars, Vanilla Toffee Cake, Pumpkin Ice Cream, Mango Lemon Sorbet, Banana Bread (grain-free), Quinoa Almond Muffins, Creamy Bean Dip, and much much more!!!

You can view a wide variety of sample recipes on Kelly's blog. This high protien, low sugar Vanilla White Bean Cake with Chocolate Frosting is my favorite!

Kelly began to study nutrition in Maryland when her girls were very young. Her daughter Ashley was a baby, and daughter Zoe was a toddler at that time. Both girls were not well. In order to help them, her naturopathic doctor worked with them to radically change their diet (by removing gluten, casein, and sugar). She and her husband soon realized that their own health problems could be resolved as well. It was very eye-opening to see how many kinds of issues could be treated. So, after years of research and experimentation, Kelly has created recipes so similar to the old ones that nobody feels deprived. Together, through diet and biomedical treatments, their family is overcoming celiac disease, gluten-intolerance, ADD, and autism with great success.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Butternut Squash Casserole with Sage and Shallots

Here is a vegan alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey....a casserole with the flavors of Turkey. Poultry seasoning, sage, shallots, beans, squash, and apples all slowly cooked to perfection in the oven. The vegetable stock and arrowroot provide a thick sauce that holds the flavors. Served over wild rice and topped with a cranberry sauce, you have yourself a great meat-free Thanksgiving main dish!

This recipe was inspired by a phone conversation I had with a friend of mine. She was looking for meat-free Thanksgiving recipes, like casseroles with beans and squash, and asked if I had any recipes. For hours after our conversation and while cleaning my house, this recipe slowly evolved in my mind. I made it a few days later and it was good, but tasted a little flat when served without the Cranberry Sauce. It needed something acidic to balance the flavors. I thought about using tomatoes, vinegar, or citrus but wanted to keep those out in order to create a recipe that didn't consist of any common allergens (citrus and tomatoes are common).

Granny Smith Apples! Yes!

I added two peeled, chopped apples to the casserole and made it again today using Cranberry Beans instead of Cannelini beans. It was delicious! I served it with my Whole Grain Flatbread recipe for dinner this evening.

I should mention that my kids didn’t like the casserole….unfortunately. They usually will only eat squash if it is made into a puréed soup. I don’t know why they are picky with this vegetable, but they are. Luckily I had also just made a big pot of lentil soup which they happily devoured!

Please note that these photos were taken with my first batch of casserole. The second batch (the following recipe) has more of a saucy casserole feel from the apples which practically fall apart during cooking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vegan Dark Chocolate Almond Tart with a Pastry Crust!

Welcome to day 5 of our Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner Party! It's time for dessert! Today I am going to share a favorite recipe for the holidays. It is a rich chocolaty tart meant to be shared among many.

It was one of those recipes that came to me in a flash of inspiration around midnight the night before Thanksgiving last year. I was up late baking yummy vegan, gluten-free pumpkin and apple pies, soft molasses cookies, and pumpkin cake to bring to our large Gluten-Free Thanksgiving gathering of friends. I began tossing ingredients for a tart crust together, measuring as I was going, and then whipped up a filling to go with it. It ended up being every one's favorite dessert and I hope you'll like it too!

FYI: This isn’t really a kid-friendly dessert, unless that is, you have an almost 2-year old (or in my case two of them) – who happens to stumble upon chocolate (i.e. crack for children) and grabs the whole slice off the counter (the one on the plate that you are about to take a photo of) and stuffs the whole thing in his mouth as fast as he can before anyone sees him. Not that this happened to me. So who knows you might have a child that likes this rich chocolate tart. My girls won’t touch it. The crust however, they pick off and eat like candy!

The first time I made this crust I did not use any xanthan gum, and it worked. But since then I have made it several times and found that adding 1/2 teaspoon does help with the overall integrity of the crust.

Since I use cashews in the filling I decided to also share one of my vegan pastry creams to use with the crust instead of the chocolate tart filling. I know there are many people reading this blog allergic to cashews and I want to make sure everyone can enjoy this awesome tart crust. After the crust has been baked and cooled, use the pastry cream to fill the crust then top with sliced pears and pomegranate arils and a dusting of cinnamon! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pear Pomegranate Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Today I'm excited to share with you my Pear Pomegranate Salad recipe with Orange Vinaigrette. This delicious antioxidant-rich salad recipe would be a lovely addition to this coming "Giving Thanks" day. The orange-cinnamon dressing pairs perfectly with the crunchy pomegranate, sweet pears, and toasted pecans!

Pomegranates are my children's favorite fruit to eat as of late! Well that and those delightful little satsuma mandarins. Even my twin toddler boys can eat a whole, large pomegranate themselves. In fact, they love this salad, dressing, greens and all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Orange Pepper Salmon with Cranberry Sauce

Today I will be serving up a main course alternative to the traditional T-day turkey. This salmon recipe is one of my children's favorites. They just love it!

I like to serve it with my Cranberry Orange Sauce. Pictured here, it is also served with a quick red quinoa pilaf I like to make.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, please stop back soon for my Sage and Shallot Butternut Squash Casserole recipe. This recipe makes a great Thanksgiving day main dish, especially served with the cranberry sauce!

The trick to cooking moist and delicious salmon is NOT to over cook it. One or two minutes too long and your salmon can become dry and tough. Make sure you take it out of the oven before it is cooked all the way through. You should still be able to see pinkness in the center of the fillet. Once it is opaque throughout it is overcooked. Remember, fish continues to cook after you remove it from the oven.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sugar-Free Cranberry Orange Punch

Welcome to the first stop of our Gluten Free Thanksgiving Progressive Dinner Party! Today I will be serving Cranberry Orange Punch. Our dinner party will be held at eight different blogs on Monday through Friday of this week and you’re invited to attend! By the end of the week you'll have many new ideas and recipes for your gluten-free Thanksgiving day menu. Enjoy!

Today's punch recipe is very simple to prepare and only takes a few minutes. You'll need one 8-ounce bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate. I buy it from our local food co-op in the juice isle (it is not refrigerated). Simply mix the cranberry concentrate with sparkling mineral water, orange juice, and either liquid stevia or agave nectar. I like to float orange slices and cinnamon sticks in the punch bowl which add extra flavor and make for a nice presentation.

Every year I make a variation of this punch for Thanksgiving and Christmas but never measure. Last night I made this punch eight different ways to get it just right! You'd think it would be easier than that, I mean, it's just punch! Come on, I created a gluten-free, vegan, flourless (and sugar-free) chocolate chip cookie recipe the other day which came out perfect the first time. But the punch? Well, it took a little more work. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soothing Tummy Tea

The holidays are famous for overeating, aren't they? I thought I would share with you a digestion-stimulating herbal tea recipe of ours. It is a unique combination of roots, leaves, and flowers. First you simmer the roots, called a decoction, and then you add the leaves and flowers to steep.

We make a pot of this herbal brew a few times a week. Sometimes we add nettles, sometimes burdock root, but always ginger and licorice.

I am not an herbalist so I can't explain the details of how this tea works on your digestion, just know it works, and it works well.

Briefly, dandelion root stimulates the liver to help digest dietary fats. Ginger decreases inflammation and is soothing to the stomach. Spearmint relieves gas and nausea. Licorice is soothing to the stomach lining, promoting more mucous production which then in turn reduces acid indigestion, ulcers, and an upset tummy. Chamomile contains compounds which relax the smooth muscles in the digestive tract to relieve pain and cramping.

The tea has a delicious blend of sweet and spicy flavors with overtones of mint and chamomile. It is perfect for the holidays or simply sipped while curled up on the couch with your kids and a pile of books on a windy Autumn day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sugar-Free Holiday Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Cranberries are one of my favorite fruits. Blame it on growing up in Wisconsin, or maybe their tart and tangy nature, or beautiful ruby color. Whatever the case may be, I love cranberries!

I created this sauce to go over my Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, but it would also work as part of your Thanksgiving feast. Traditional cranberry sauce uses loads of cane sugar. This one doesn't. I use either coconut nectar or raw agave nectar to give it a little sweetness.

Serve it warm or cold, either way it is sure to please. When it is cold I like to use it as a jam to spread over toasted Hemp Bread. Mmmm, so delicious!

Update: This is a cane sugar-free sauce. It still needs quite a bit of sweetener to make it palatable and not overly tart. The sauce is still not very sweet even with this amount. There are infinite ways to make cranberry sauce. Some suggestions include adding diced pears or apples, increasing the orange juice and decreasing the sweetener, or using coconut sugar. Please read the comments below for all of the suggestions. Be creative here and try what works for you. If you come up with something great then leave your recipe in the comments section below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spicy Dairy-Free Tahini Dip

I thought you might enjoy this thick and creamy dairy-free dip recipe for your upcoming holiday gatherings. It would make a great appetizer! In this recipe I use a fresh jalapeño pepper and cayenne pepper for a very spicy dip, but below the recipe I have a variation for a non-spicy herbed version.

This recipe is a slightly altered version of one found in a very lovely cookbook entitled, I Am Grateful, Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude. This cookbook is primarily a raw foods cookbook (or uncookbook I should say). In addition to the wonderful recipes with color photos, the book permeates warmth and love. Each recipe is an affirmation. I Am Flowing for a veggie noodle dish, or I Am Light for a dairy-free Tzatziki recipe, or how about I Am Cherished for a Cashew Lemon Cheesecake? They all sound so inviting, don't they?

I can feel the loving energy that was put forth to create this book on each and every page and this is why I want to share it with you. I have other raw food books, but I like this one because of how approachable it is. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jalapeño-Lime Kale Slaw

Here is a simple recipe for a raw kale slaw. It is very quick to prepare but actually tastes best about 12 to 24 hours after preparing. The dressing is spicy, not the burn-your-mouth type of spiciness, but hot.

Disclaimer: my kids won't eat this!

Tom and I, however, love it. The spiciness feels just right to warm your belly on a cool fall evening. Last night we served it with warmed black beans and sticky brown rice, diced avocados, and baked delicata squash. I think it would be great with toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top just before serving. The other week we served it atop a curried lentil and yam stew and the flavor combinations were fantastic!

You could go a lot of ways with this recipe. For example, the dressing would be great tossed with shredded Napa cabbage and carrots for another variation. Or use it to dress a salad topped with black beans and toasted pumpkin seeds. You'll probably come up with many ways to use this very tasty dressing.