Category Archives: Baked goods

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes

mint choc chip brownie cupcakes

Last weekend, I decided I would make something green for my coworkers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not normally one to really celebrate the holiday in any grand style (Not Irish, and I’m not the biggest celebrator of holidays anyway, save a few. Just call me a big fuddy-duddy.), but I made an exception this time.

It started with a superb little pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream that I enjoyed a few weeks ago. I went back to the freezer to have another small helping only to find it was gone. (Teenagers in the house means this happens more often than I’d like – c’est la vie!)  But since then, the idea of these cupcakes, made with brownies and topped with frosting reminiscent of mint chocolate chip ice cream, just stuck in my mind until I decided to make them.

And so I did.

I opted for brownie base rather than just a regular chocolate cupcake because, let’s face it: brownies are better than regular cake. It’s just a fact. At least it is in my mind. Besides, I’ve always found that making brownies gluten-free is so simple, as the flour is not as much of a star ingredient in a brownie as it is in cake – instead, sugar and eggs play a chief role. And of course, the cocoa powder. Because chocolate is the chief-est of all chief roles in brownies! (Yes, I totally just made up the word “chief-est”. Let’s just go with it and move on.)

Once the brownie-cupcakes were baked, I made the frosting. It was super-simple, and because of the chocolate chips stirred in, I opted to simply smear on the frosting rather than try to carefully pipe something out. Definitely a time-saver, and it saved me from my otherwise perfection-driven tendency to spend far too long trying to execute perfectly piped frosting.

The end result was delightful. A sweet, chocolate-y treat with the pleasing, but not overpowering flavor of mint. The brownies were rich and full of fudgy chocolate. And that frosting? It was truly like my ice cream I was craving.

So even though St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I felt this treat just had to be shared with you. Because mint (and green food) isn’t just for March 17th. I think this would be a great treat for any time of year. I hope you agree.

Print Recipe

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Cupcakes (gluten-free, dairy-free options)

For the cupcakes:

1/2 c unsalted butter (can use vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

1 c granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T sweet white rice flour

3 T tapioca starch

3 T superfine brown rice flour

1/2 t unflavored gelatin

1/4 t kosher salt

 

For the frosting:

1/2 c butter, softened (can substitute vegan buttery sticks for dairy-free)

About 4 c powdered sugar

2-4 T milk (use almond or coconut milk for dairy-free)

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 t peppermint extract

5-8 drops each yellow and blue natural food coloring (or until desired color is reached)

1 c mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is gluten and dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over medium heat, stirring until completely melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extracts, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, gelatin and salt, and whisk those into the butter mixture until completely blended.

Portion out the batter equally into the lined muffin tin (about 1/4 cup of batter each). Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center still brings out some chocolate, but the centers are set and no longer jiggly. (You don’t want to wait until the toothpick comes out clean or the cupcakes will be dry.) Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat the butter until smooth and start adding in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Add the milk and beat until the texture is stiff enough to hold but still creamy, adding more powdered sugar or more milk until desired texture is reached. Add the extracts and food coloring and beat well. Stir in half of the chocolate chips.

Frost the cupcakes with the frosting once they have cooled. With the remaining chocolate chips, microwave in a small bowl 30 seconds at a time, and stir until melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the frosted cupcakes.

Store in the refrigerator, and serve at room temperature. Makes 9 cupcakes.

 

 

 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Clementine Mascarpone Frosting

carrot cake cupcakes

Sometimes, you just need a treat.

Or at least, that’s what I decided this weekend. So I made carrot cake cupcakes. (And subsequently forced them upon my co-ed soccer team. They didn’t seem to mind.)

Besides, springtime is coming soon, and what’s more springlike than carrot cake? It’s perfect for Easter, of course, but who wants to wait that long? Especially when clementines can still be found in the store right now? Let’s fake spring until it’s time, and make some cupcakes today.

Now, yes, the frosting is not dairy-free. I will share with you links to make an alternative “cream cheese” style base for your frosting. (I promise; it’s delicious. I made it multiple times when I was dairy-free and shared with family and friends, who were none the wiser.) But if you can eat dairy, the mascarpone makes this frosting creamy and decadent. It’s the perfect compliment to carrot cake, and more especially so with the addition of clementine.

These cupcakes are easy to make and remain moist and tender. I opted to add raisins, pecans, and clementine zest to my cake – you can leave any of these out if you wish, but I find the combination of these make the cake memorable and special. After all, if you’re going to go through the trouble of making a treat, what you want is special, right?

Print Recipe

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Clementine Mascarpone Frosting (gluten-free)

For the cupcakes:

1/3 c sweet white rice flour

1/3 c superfine brown rice flour (I like this brand)

1/3 c tapioca flour

1 t gelatin (I like this brand)

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t baking powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1 t freshly grated zest from clementine (or orange)

1/2 c granulated sugar

3 T brown sugar

1 1/2 c grated carrot

1/2 c finely chopped pecans

1/4 c raisins

1/4 c coconut oil, melted

2 eggs at room temperature

1/2 t apple cider vinegar

1/4 c almond milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the flours, gelatin, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, sugar, and brown sugar. Mix on low speed until all is combined and the brown sugar no longer has lumps.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Add about a tablespoon of the flour mixture to this bowl and toss to coat. Set aside.

In a third small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, apple cider vinegar, and almond milk until frothy. Add this to the flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Add the carrot mixture and mix until everything is evenly combined.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with few crumbs. Remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

6 oz mascarpone cheese (Make your own here. Can substitute cream cheese or a vegan cashew cream cheese – I love this recipe.)

1 T butter or vegan buttery sticks

A pinch of salt

1 1/2 T clementine juice

1/2 t fresh zest from a clementine

2 c powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone cheese, butter and salt until creamy. Add the clementine juice, zest and a cup of the powdered sugar and beat again until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Turn to medium speed and beat for another minute or until creamy, adding additional powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired thickness. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.

Serve cupcakes as is or garnished with clementine slices.

Makes one dozen.

Gluten-Free Desserts of Christmas Past

chocolate-dates1

Chocolate Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Typically each year I have more than one holiday recipe shared with you. This year, not so much. I feel terrifically behind this year, and haven’t even planned out my menu. All my presents haven’t even arrived yet (I ordered a lot online), and nothing is wrapped. I’ve purchased nothing for Christmas dinner. I suppose I should get on it before this weekend, when I’ll need to do my shopping along with the masses.

But if you’re ahead of me, as I’m sure many of you are, you’re finalizing your menu. Maybe you’re making Christmas cookies and treats with family this weekend. If so, here is a little round-up of past holiday favorites for your baking pleasure. As for me, I need to get back to my planning!

Spicy Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake Balls

Chocolate Almond Fig Biscotti

Chewy Apple Cider Blondies

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Cranberry Multi-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Coconut Candies and Peanut Butter Fudge

Nanaimo Bars

Chocolate-Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

Dairy-Free Fudge

Maple Pecan Freezer Fudge

Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pralines

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Skillet Cornbread

That first cool breeze. That first day where the temps don’t reach 70 degrees. When we can open the windows and breathe a sigh of relief. The heat is finally over. That’s when my husband and I give each other knowing looks: it’s CHILI time!

I love to make a big pot of Texas Red chili. It’s spicy, hearty, and so satisfying. It takes the better part of a day to make, but what better way to pass Sunday afternoon then to have a pot simmering on the stove, with football on TV, while the cool autumn breeze blows in? I have one idea:

Make cornbread to go with the chili.

I am a huge fan of cornbread, but I’m kind of picky about it. It needs to be slightly sweet, and it must not be dry. This skillet cornbread fits those requirements perfectly. It’s moist, subtly sweetened with honey, and has these lovely crispy edges from the skillet that are delightful. Sure, you can stir in some whole corn kernels, jalapenos, cheese, or whatever you fancy, but it’s wonderful just as is.

Especially when sitting alongside that bowl of Texas Red.

Skillet Cornbread (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 c gluten-free cornmeal

2/3 c tapioca flour

1 t kosher salt

1 T baking powder

Juice of 1 lemon

About 7/8 c coconut milk

½ c water

1 egg

2 T honey

½ t baking soda

6 T vegan butter (Earth Balance buttery sticks)

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Add the lemon juice to a measuring cup and pour enough coconut milk to measure 1 full cup. Add ½ cup of water, the egg, and the honey. Whisk together. Add the baking soda and whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk together until combined.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add vegan butter and swirl until melted. Brush butter along sides of skillet. Carefully pour the butter into the bowl with the cornbread batter and whisk to combine. Pour the batter into the skillet and spread out evenly on the surface.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve in wedges, warm from the skillet.

Serves about 8.

Review and Giveaway: Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free


Update: This giveaway has ended. The winner is Susan McGarry! Congrats, Susan!

I first met Ricki Heller a number of years ago, when I was first getting to know other gluten-free bloggers. While we’ve never officially “met” her, we have become good friends. She’s a genuine, down-to-earth person, and we share a love of sweets, baking, and our four-legged family members. I already own her ebooks and she was a life-saver back when I was learning how to navigate a dairy-free diet. So I was super-excited when I first heard that Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free was due to arrive!

This book is gorgeous – filled with amazing photos of every kind of sweet treat, including breakfast items such as scones and pancakes, cookies, cookies, and more cookies, blondies, cakes, frostings, “cheesecakes” and so much more. Ricki prefaces her recipes with a little explanation of ingredients that she uses (and why), as some of the items aren’t mainstream. But for those looking to lower their sugar intake, these recipes are a great way to still enjoy sweet treats!

I opted to make her Coconut Macaroons. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of coconut in all forms, and these are no exception. They’re naturally sweetened with coconut nectar and agave nectar, so they have a subtle caramel note to them. My favorite part is that they emerge from the oven chewy and sweet – the way a macaroon should be.

Coconut Macaroons, reprinted with permission from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free (page 144)

3/4 cup (135 g) natural raw skin-on almonds, preferably organic

2 Tbsp (15 g) finely ground flax seeds (from about 1 Tbsp or 15 ml whole seeds)

1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt

2 cups (135 g ) unsweetened shredded coconut, medium shred

1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut nectar

1/4 cup (60 ml) light agave nectar

20 to 25 drops pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste

1/4 cup (60 ml) tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure coconut extract (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, whir the almonds, flax, and salt together until they resemble a coarse meal, about the texture of cornmeal, without any identifiable pieces of almond visible. Add the coconut and pulse once or twice to combine.

Next pour the coconut nectar, agave nectar, stevia, tahini, vanilla, and coconut extract, if using, over the dry ingredients. Process again until everything is incorporated and the mixture forms a sticky ball (you may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl once or twice). Stop as soon as the mixture holds together, to avoid grinding the coconut too fine.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or tablespoon (15 ml), drop small mounds of the mixture onto the cookie sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Wet your palms (or use a silicone spatula) and flatten the cookies slightly.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets about halfway through baking, until the cookies are deep golden brown on top. Cool completely before removing to a rack (the cookies will firm up as they cool). May be frozen.

Yum, right?

Now, would you like to win a copy of this book?

To enter into your chance to win, please leave me a comment telling me what your favorite sweet treat is!

Want MORE chances to win?

Then do the following:

- Share this giveaway on Facebook, tagging Ricki Heller and Tasty Eats At Home and leave me a comment HERE telling me you did so.

- Tweet this giveaway, tagging Ricki Heller and Tasty Eats At Home and leave me a comment HERE telling me you did so.

That’s it!! This giveaway will end Friday, October 25, 2013, at 11:59PM CT. The giveaway is only open to U.S. and Canadian residents ages 18 years and up. Best of luck to you!

 

Pumpkin Hemp Oatmeal Cookies

Thanks to all of you for your support on my most recent post. While I always want to be transparent no matter what, it’s inspiring to hear your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. You all rock!

Now, I mentioned cookies in that post. I figured I ought to make good on that promise.

I waited until October to post something pumpkin; are you proud of me? But from now until say, February, all bets are off. I’m an intense fan of all things winter squash and pumpkin. Butternut, acorn squash, banana squash, spaghetti squash, delicate, cushaw, and so many more – I love them all. I’ll try to moderate my squash recipes around here, but don’t worry. You’ll still get the good ones.

With that, let the pumpkin fiesta begin!

The first great pumpkin treat to come out of my kitchen this fall are these cookies. They’re kinda hippie (in my mind, hemp seeds = hippie) healthy. Not overly so, (they’re still classified as cookies and all) but in my mind, they feel that way because they’re full of good stuff like pumpkin (beta-carotene and fiber), hemp seeds (fiber, protein, ALA), and oats (fiber, magnesium, zinc). They aren’t overly sweet, but instead are more of a homestyle, hearty little autumn treat. Moderate sweetness is something I actually prefer when making oatmeal cookies, and besides, my hubby prefers my less-sweet treats. He approves of these.

You can use canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin puree, or even other winter squash purees (I often love to use butternut instead of pumpkin). I opted to use a commercial gluten-free flour blend here (something I don’t use often in my recipes) – one that’s probably my favorite quick-and-easy blend. You can certainly use another brand if you wish, or even substitute a combination of gluten-free flours. Just be sure you add about a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum if you do so (or if your blend doesn’t have it already). For a sweeter touch, chocolate chips would also be welcome here. Truth is, these cookies are endlessly versatile.

Won’t you join me in my all-things-pumpkin-a-thon?

Print Recipe

Pumpkin Hemp Oatmeal Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free)

3 T coconut oil, liquefied

1 c + 2 T granulated sugar

1/3 c pumpkin puree (you can substitute butternut puree or another winter squash)

1 egg

1 t vanilla extract

1 c + 2 T gluten-free flour blend (I used Better Batter)

1/4 t xanthan gum (ONLY if your blend doesn’t have it included)

1/4 t salt

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t allspice

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 c hemp seeds

1 c gluten-free oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugar until well-blended. Add the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and beat again until creamy and uniform.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour blend, salt, and spices. Add the flour mix to the liquid mixture and beat, stopping to scrape down sides, until well-mixed. Add the hemp seeds and oats and mix in until even.

Scoop dough into balls (about 1 1/2 tablespoon in size) and place on baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart. Flatten cookies down with the back of a spoon or your hand until cookies are about 1/2 inch thick. (It helps to lightly oil the spoon or your hand so the dough doesn’t stick.) Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden on the bottom and edges.

Allow to cool on a rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Blueberry Crumble Pie

Those of you that are avid gluten-free bakers: have you ever noticed how much a brand change in a gluten-free flour affects your end result? I’ve heard this, but didn’t really experience it to a point where I thought “ugh, I really need to stick with this other brand” until I was making pie crust. You see, I’ve had this amazing pie crust under wraps for a while. I love it. It’s reasonably easy to roll out, and it’s light and crisp once baked. And until I switched flour brands, it wasn’t gritty or grainy in the least.

But the last time I was out of my Authentic Foods superfine brown rice flour and Mochiko sweet white rice flour, I opted instead to buy a different brand, just because it was more convenient. Big mistake on my part – at least for this recipe. This time around, I purchased Bob’s Red Mill flours. They’re fine in most baked goods – especially the ones with plenty of moisture to “soften” the coarser grind of the flour. Pie crust is not one of those things. The crust with my usual flours is really great. It works with the Bob’s Red Mill flours as well, but it’s less pliable, and after baking, the mouthfeel is a bit grittier. I definitely could notice the difference, and while I like and use Bob’s Red Mill flours for a ton of things (in fact, they are the majority brand in my pantry), for this recipe in particular, I’m sticking to more finely ground flours.

That being said, I want to share this recipe with you all. It’s quite good – the best I’ve made or eaten so far. Like I mentioned above, it’s pliable, easy to roll out (as long as you roll between sheets of parchment), it tastes delicious, and it holds up to fruit fillings quite well. I won’t say that it behaves just like a gluten dough – I have yet to experience that in any gluten-free baking, really – but it’s easier to handle than most. It was excellent with this blueberry pie.

Blueberry season is coming to a close around here. I’m kind of mourning that fact. I love blueberries, and the local ones have so much more flavor than any I’ve found at the grocery. It’s a complex flavor, more than just sweet or tart. Almost perfumed, floral…it’s hard to describe, but I adore them. I’ve purchased a dozen pints from a nearby farm and have frozen them for yearlong use (which sadly, will in reality only last me until December or January). But I did have to sacrifice a good amount of the fresh berries for this pie. Although I wouldn’t really call it a sacrifice – because after all, who doesn’t like pie?

This pie isn’t overly sweet, but I found it the perfect way to end the day. A happy helping of this, and a scoop of vanilla (dairy-free) ice cream, and I’m definitely in heaven. But I won’t judge if you decide that you need a slice for breakfast too – it would be a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee.

Print Recipe

Blueberry Pie (gluten-free, dairy-free)

Pie Crust – this recipe makes enough for a double crust. Halve the recipe to make this blueberry pie, or save the remainder of the crust for another purpose:

1 ½ c sweet white rice flour (I prefer Mochiko)

¾ c superfine brown rice flour (I prefer Authentic Foods)

1/3 c tapioca starch

1 t kosher salt

¼ t guar gum 

12 T (1 1/2 stick) vegan buttery sticks (I like Earth Balance) or butter, if you can handle dairy

2 eggs, cold

1/4 c cold water 

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Cut the vegan butter into smaller pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse until everything looks like a somewhat fine meal. Add the eggs and water. Process until it becomes thick dough. It should be pliable and hold together, but not overly sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a tablespoon of starch. Too dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water.

Place half of the dough (unless you’ve halved the recipe; in that case, use the entire amount) onto a large sheet of parchment paper and pat together into a circle. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top, and roll out dough using a rolling pin with the dough in between the two sheets. You can stop and pull up the top sheet and lay back down to reposition if you get wrinkles in the sheet. Roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness.

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Place a pie pan upside-down over the dough, and slide your hand underneath the dough and bottom sheet of parchment paper. With one hand on the bottom of the pie pan, and the other on the dough, flip everything at once, so that the pie pan is right-side-up with the dough laying over the top. Peel back the parchment and press the dough in. If it cracks, simply press back together.

Bake crust according to your pie recipe (or as I am doing below).

For the blueberry pie filling:

7 c blueberries

1/2 c maple sugar (can also use regular white sugar or coconut palm sugar)

1/4 c tapioca starch

1 T lemon juice

1 T vegan butter, cut into small pieces

In a large bowl, place the blueberries, sugar, starch, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Using a potato masher, mash some of the berries. You don’t want them to look totally mashed – you just want to release some of the juices.

Transfer the blueberries to your pie pan with the crust, mounding towards the middle. Scatter the butter on top of the berries.

For the Crumble Topping:

1/4 c sweet white rice flour

1/4 c superfine brown rice flour

1/4 c tapioca starch

1/4 t guar gum

3 T maple sugar (can also use brown sugar or coconut palm sugar)

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t kosher salt

1/3 c melted vegan butter, cooled slightly

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, guar gum, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and mix with fingertips to blend and crumble.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crumble the crumble topping over the top of the blueberries. Place the pie in the oven on the center rack and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, covering with foil after 45 minutes if it starts to brown too much.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serves 8-10.

Do you have experiences with varied results when it comes to using different brands of gluten-free flours? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

Blueberry Breakfast Bread

What do you do when you buy a dozen pints of blueberries at once?

What, you don’t buy a dozen pints of blueberries? I thought that was a normal thing. I’m actually worried that I need to buy more. I froze most of them so I can have blueberries throughout the year for smoothies and baked goods, but I also shoved as many as I could in my mouth. Both fresh and frozen. Frozen blueberries are amazing. Almost like chilly, refreshing candy. Something you must try at one point. But really, I must get more. Last year, I ran out months before the summertime came, and it was a sad, lonely, blueberry-less time for me.

But anyway, besides all of that storing and munching of blueberries, I managed to save enough to make a little breakfast bread. I wanted something tasty to go with coffee – a lightly sweet, delicious treat. This was just the thing. Slathered with a little vegan butter, it was perfect. I could barely wait the time it took to cool – and I still ate my slice when it was quite warm. Definitely warm enough to melt that butter. And then I had another slice. You know, for research purposes. I had to make sure it was good enough for all you wonderful people.

I highly suggest you “invest” in some blueberries before the season is over, and set aside a few for a breakfast bread like this. You won’t be sorry. It’s a great little pick-me-up.

Print Recipe

Blueberry Breakfast Bread (grain-free, refined sugar-free, paleo, dairy-free)

3 T canned full-fat coconut milk

1 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

2 T coconut oil, melted (but not hot)

1/4 c + 2 T coconut palm sugar

1 t lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

2 eggs, room temperature, whisked in a small bowl

1 t vanilla extract

1/4 c blanched almond flour

1/4 c coconut flour

3 T tapioca starch

3/4 t baking soda

1/2 t kosher salt

1 c fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a small loaf pan (mine is about 2 1/2″ X 5 1/2 “) and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Then add the coconut oil, coconut sugar, lemon zest, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until well-blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond and coconut flours, the tapioca starch, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together until well-blended. Fold in the blueberries. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Serves 4.

Lemon Sugar Cookies and Finding My Way Back to Center

Going through life, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned to let go. I’ve learned to be okay with less than perfect. I’ve learned that it is better to be happy with the “right now” instead of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. I’ve learned that sometimes, simple is best. And sometimes, I don’t need to “healthify” every single thing that passes my lips.

This is a big deal in my world. I am definitely what you might call a “healthy eater”. Around the time I went gluten-free, I started becoming more aware of the food I was putting into my body. My health wasn’t so great – gluten was starting to take its toll on my digestive system and my energy levels, among other things. So gradually, along with removing gluten (and then dairy) from my diet, I also removed processed foods, and for a while, even grains, beans, and sugar, in an effort to regain my health. I’ve been gluten-free now for right at 4 years, and in the past year, I’ve finally turned the corner and really have started to feel “better”. I’ve been able to eat things in moderation that previously would set off my oh-so-delicate digestive balance for days, sometimes weeks. So gradually, I’ve expanded my “allowed” foods. I eat grains, I sometimes eat beans, and sometimes, I even eat sugar.

What I really didn’t expect when going through this process was the mental hurdles I’d have to jump. Over the past 4 years, being at odds with my body which seemed to want to reject anything, trying to stay away from “offending foods”, and feeling deprived and overindulging in “off-limits” things anyway (never gluten, but sometimes sugar or grains – and I paid the price for it) caused me to become somewhat “scared” of foods. Some foods were bad. Some were outright demonized. Any amount of sugar was certain to give me diabetes, or at the least, send me down into a spiraling-out-of-control sugar binge. I’d get cancer if I consumed anything with preservatives. I’d cause damage to my intestines if I ate grains, and at best, I wasn’t honoring my body if I didn’t give it 100% nourishing, whole, organic, healthy foods. And all the while, I was afraid my digestive system would get worse if I deviated from the world of natural, whole meats, vegetables, nuts and the occasional piece of fruit. While I certainly would never have put these kinds of restrictions on someone else, I found that I’d landed myself smack in the middle of this world. I didn’t like it. It made me a little crazy, and definitely sucked all of the joy out of food.

And the joy of food is why I started really cooking, and why I started blogging. I wanted to share that joy with others. Especially those who must eat gluten-free; I wanted to share that we can still enjoy breads, cakes, cookies, and other things and be happy and satisfied on a gluten-free diet. We are blessed with such a variety of amazing things to eat, and eating and enjoying a meal together is a lovely, sacred thing. We ought to be able to embrace that pleasure. Obviously, I was losing sight of that.

So I’m finding my way back to center. I’m learning to balance. As I’m finding that my body is healing and that I’m tolerating more and more foods, I’m learning moderation again. I certainly still eat a healthy diet – I want to nourish my body and give it the fuel it needs to power through my day, and I do the best when I’m not at war with it. But I also know that part of health is pleasure, fun, and acceptance. Pleasure and fun come from enjoying all sorts of delicious treats, and acceptance that sometimes, those treats won’t be what is defined as “healthy”, and that’s okay. Sometimes, I will eat sugar. I will eat candy. And cookies. I won’t have to over-indulge, because these things are no longer forbidden. While I still can’t eat gluten, I can eat so many other amazing things. I am grateful. I’m still learning how to be in this new place of acceptance, but so far, I love it here.

I invite you to join me in this place. After all, in this place, there are lemon sugar cookies. They’re simple, sweet, and a delight to enjoy as an afternoon treat. They are gluten and dairy-free, so they won’t upset tummies, but I made no attempts to “healthify” them. Because sometimes, you just need a real cookie. And that’s okay.

Print Recipe

Lemon Sugar Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened

3/4 c + 2 T organic sugar

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 t lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1 1/2 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t kosher salt

3/4 c brown rice flour

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c arrowroot starch (can substitute tapioca starch as well)

1/2 t guar gum (can substitute xanthan gum)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and beat in until well-combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, flours, and guar gum. Add this to the mixing bowl and beat in.

Spoon into mounds on a lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Coconut-Macadamia Banana Bread

Who wants to bake banana bread this time of year? It involves turning the oven on, and it’s so warm in the house already.

Apparently, I do.

I wanted to make a breakfast treat of some sort, and the idea of making more biscuits or muffins just didn’t do it for me. I started rummaging around for inspiration, and came across this worn piece of paper with a banana bread recipe on it – one I’d been working on for a few years now. It’d been far too long since banana bread was made around here, and so I opted to remedy that situation.

And so today, in spite of it being summer, I bring you this tropically-inspired banana bread. It has a subtle coconut flavor, a delicious crunch of macadamias, and the slightest hint of coffee, upping the richness factor. And as any good banana bread should be, it’s moist and tastes delicious with a pat of butter (vegan or regular). I enjoyed a slice as soon as it was cool enough, and another the following morning, toasted in a skillet. It’s different than the average banana bread, but still manages to keep the essence of what makes banana bread great – it’s comforting and humble and delicious.

Print Recipe

Coconut-Macadamia Banana Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 1/2 c mashed banana (3-4 bananas)

2 eggs, room temperature

3 T coconut rum (regular rum works too)

1 t vanilla extract

1/3 c coconut oil, melted

1 T finely ground coffee

2/3 c + 2 T coconut palm sugar

1/3 c brown rice flour

1/3 c teff flour

2/3 c tapioca starch

1/2 t guar gum

1 t baking soda

1 t kosher salt

3/4 c chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 4″ X 8″ loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the bananas, eggs, rum, vanilla, coconut oil, coffee, and coconut sugar. Blend until well-combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, guar gum, baking soda and salt. Add to the food processor and blend until well-combined. Add the macadamia nuts and pulse a few times to stir in. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and spread out.

Bake on the middle rack for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.