Category Archives: Vegetarian

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I love watermelon. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s cool, refreshing, and just screams summer. In fact, I love it so much that I am attempting to grow my own for the first time this year. I planted several starter plants in the spring, and watched as they grew and spread their vines ALL OVER my backyard. Seriously. It’s like a jungle back there, between the watermelon vines and cucumber vines. In spite of the fact that I’ve planted these in raised beds, they have overflowed and are taking over the lawn, making it so it’s impossible to mow in those areas.

Oh well. The things I do for yummy eats.

My real trouble is – I’m inexperienced in the watermelon-growing department. I have lots of watermelon babies. They’re growing (well, most of them – I had a few not make it past the softball stage and they went south…), but it seems to take forever. And as it turns out, it’s hard to tell when a watermelon is ripe to pick. In fact, I was eyeing the largest one with suspicion for a while, trying to decide when the time was right. I thumped it, listening for that “hollow” sound. Except every time I thump any watermelon, it always sounds hollow. Apparently I’m not good at hearing the ripeness. So I did more research, and found that once it ceases to grow larger, that’s another indicator. This one seemed to stop growing. Then I looked at the bottom, where the white spot is, and looked for yellow/cream color. I thought it was yellow enough, so I thought I was good to go. Hesitating a bit, I cut it.

Ta da, my first melon!

Only when I cut into it, it wasn’t ripe. It was slightly pink in the center, but definitely needed more time. Sigh. So what’s a girl to do when she’s killed off her first watermelon?

Make the most of it – use the rind for pickling!

I’ve never had or made pickled watermelon rind, but it’s something that’s always intrigued me. I mean, why not make the most of every part of summer’s favorite fruit? And I love just about anything pickled. So I gave it a go.

What resulted was something completely different than what I imagined. It’s sweet-tart, with lovely spice notes, reminiscent of the holidays somewhat. But it’s also amazing with smoked meats, making it a perfect compliment to summer barbecue. Mind you, you don’t need an unripe watermelon to make them either – the rind of any watermelon will work splendidly. Just peel the outer rind (this is easily accomplished just with a knife – just cut it away. No need to try to use some potato peeler, which seems more difficult than it should be.) and pickle away!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (gluten-free, vegan)

2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1″ square pieces

3 c sugar (I have not experimented with alternative sweeteners, but I imagine a lesser amount of honey or agave might work)

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar

3 whole cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch or two of salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the rind. Bring to medium-low heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and place the watermelon rinds into glass jars (I used 3 16 oz canning jars). Add sugar, vinegar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and salt to the same saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the rinds into the jars. Seal jars with lids and allow to cool. Chill and store in refrigerator.

 

 

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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh, Texas Style

In keeping with my “Hey ya’ll, it’s SUMMER” theme around here as of late, I bring you a fresh, bright, delicious salad, full of quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, and basil, and a lovely slight heat of fresh jalapeno.

But before we get to that, I have something to confess.

Here it was, Sunday evening. Sunday dinner often revolves around roasting or preparing a whole chicken (usually spatchcocked – it’s easy and delicious that way.). We receive a monthly package from our local rancher, Rehoboth Ranch, which consists of whole chickens, ground beef, a roast, and breakfast sausage, so in an effort to utilize this delicious sum of meats, I try to implement this routine. It works well – we eat the chicken one night, and I use the rest of the meat to top a salad later in the week. (I also save the bones for stock, which, by the way, I am so behind in making…)

Well, this past Sunday, I opted instead to grill the chicken, as it was warm and I didn’t want to turn on the oven to roast it. I made a yummy rub of chipotle chiles, jalapeno, coconut oil and lime and rubbed it all over the chicken and under the skin. This is gonna be tasty, I thought to myself. I heated up the grill, placed the chicken over indirect heat (well, semi-indirect – I had the chicken over low heat, and the other burners on high), and went inside.

And proceeded to distract myself by making some ice cream, and forgot about the chicken. Was it for 15 minutes? 20? I don’t know. I realized it’d been far too long, and I ran outside to check. Too late. My chicken was blackened. Really blackened. Sigh. Operation grilled chipotle lime chicken: FAIL.

I managed to salvage some of the meat, as it wasn’t completely burnt and dry – just the skin was totally black. So much for the rub flavor. That was completely gone. (Guess I’ll have to try that again some other time.) It definitely wasn’t the best chicken I’d ever cooked, let me tell you. I offered up apologies to the hubby more than once. It looked like hell.

The moral of this story? Don’t try to do too much at once.

There was still a highlight to Sunday’s meal, however – this salad. I’d been craving a tabbouleh-like salad for a while, and started to gather ingredients for a traditional version of the dish, when I saw the jalapenos I’d picked up at the farmer’s market, and then eyed the limes. Immediately I made a bit of a detour from my original plan, and instead decided on a more Texas-style version. I’m sure I’m biased, but I believe my version might just be better than the traditional. The jalapeno doesn’t add a ton of heat – just a nice kick. And the lime really brightens, making it sing. And of course, now that it’s summer, I managed to grab all of these items (okay, save the lime) either from my garden or the farmer’s market, so they’re super-fresh. I think that makes such a difference in a salad – the fresher, the better! Even if you don’t have access to a garden or farmer’s market, chances are, the produce at even your local grocery is fresher this time of year, making this an ideal choice.

If you’re tasked with bringing a side salad to a dinner or barbecue this summer, this is a great option. It’s perfect to make ahead of time and will keep (and dare I say, improve) when refrigerated for a few hours before serving. Personally, I was just glad to have it to gobble up, instead of just my overly-blackened chicken. Gotta celebrate the successes when you can, right?

Print Recipe

Quinoa Tabbouleh, Texas-Style (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free)

1 c quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 c water

1/2 t salt

2 T lime juice

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2-3 T diced leeks (you can also substitute green onions/scallions)

1 large cucumber, seeded and chopped

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

1/2 c chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa by placing it, the water, and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork and remove to a bowl and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice and olive oil. Toss the quinoa with this mixture. Add in the remaining ingredients and toss, combining everything well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Serves 4-6.

 

Potato Biscuits

I love biscuits. Like, really, really love them. Let me count the ways: biscuits with butter, with jam, with gravy (especially a good Southern sausage gravy!), with fried chicken, or even for the making of a sausage biscuit sandwich…that’s just the beginning, I’m sure. But good, tender, moist biscuits are hard to come by, especially when one is gluten and dairy-free. So for us, biscuits are a special event.

What I do love about making gluten-free biscuits is that there isn’t that pesky gluten in there, making things tough and chewy. Makes for an easy time – you can’t accidentally overwork the dough. And when using potato flour, it seems there is no need for gums like guar or xanthan gum. It also makes the biscuits taste nice and potato-y; something I really enjoyed.

I do have to apologize to you, however. It seems I’ve been hoarding this recipe for a while now. I’ve had it tucked away for at least a year, digging it out once in a while, but I’ve never managed to get photos of these humble beauties. Well, my friends, there’s no time like the present. I hope you’ll make up for lost time by making these quite often. Grab yourself some potato flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill), so you’ll always have it on hand for a quick breakfast treat.

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Potato Biscuits (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan)

2/3 c potato flour (not potato starch)

1/3 c potato starch or tapioca starch

2 t baking powder

1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

3 T coconut oil

2/3 c canned full-fat coconut milk

1 T chia seed meal (grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder)

1/2 t apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the potato flour, starch, baking powder and salt. With your fingers or with a fork, blend in the coconut oil until the mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, chia seed meal, and apple cider vinegar. Stir the coconut milk mixture into the flour mixture until combined and the dough comes together. It will be crumbly, but it should hold together. Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, press a handful of dough into a circle to form a biscuit, pressing just firmly enough for the dough to hold together. (Alternatively, you can simply form rounds by hand.) Repeat with remaining dough. Sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 biscuits.

Do you make breakfasts more often during the summer, when kids are home? What do you like to make? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

This post is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free over at Gluten-Free Easily.

Swiss Chard with Orange and Pepitas

Earlier this month, we did some renovations to our kitchen. For about a week, I was kitchenless. As in, I couldn’t cook. There were even two days where we could barely get water from the fridge. (Seriously. We had to tear away some plastic sheeting to get to the water and ice, and if I wanted into our pantry, I had to suck it in and squeeze between the fridge and the wall in what amounted to less than 10 inches of space.)  When we finally scheduled for the work to start, we only had about a day’s notice before I had to clean out the cabinets. I went into a state of half-panic. I would starve! I thought. After all, I pretty much prepare all of my meals myself. I didn’t have time to make much of anything in advance. How would I survive? Well, needless to say, I managed. I’m grateful for some trustworthy gluten-free restaurants and my arsenal of snacks that I stashed in my desk drawer at work. And now we are back in the new kitchen. Let me tell you, it’s awesome. I am so excited.

In fact, I’m so excited that I definitely need to take some photos for you and share. I have a few, and I’ve shared a bit on Instagram, but I really need to get some decent (read: non-iphone) photos for you! Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, my garden didn’t stop growing just because we weren’t cooking. In fact, the lettuces, radishes, Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula and even some mizuna were all in need of harvesting. But I left them there, as I didn’t really have a way to wash or prepare them. Once we were back in business, I pulled radishes (some of which had grown to the size of golf balls!), cut what was left of the good lettuce (much of it has bolted), attempted to take control of the cucumber beetles, and harvested some of the Swiss chard for this easy little side dish.

Swiss chard is one of my favorite greens. It’s so pretty – especially the rainbow chard, with the colorful red, pink, yellow and white stems. It’s also milder in flavor than some other greens, and it cooks quickly – nearly as quickly as spinach. And the stems are tender, which is a bonus. I love munching on them raw. They have a texture somewhat similar to celery; crunchy and crisp.

This dish highlights that freshness that chard offers by throwing in a hit of citrus. It’s bright and light. I served it alongside some roasted chicken, but I imagine it would go extremely well with grilled pork, shrimp or any poultry. The pepitas (a.k.a. pumpkin seeds) add a nice crunch and nuttiness.

This recipe should serve 3-4; unless you’re me and love greens. In that case, I’d say it’s enough for 2.

Print Recipe

Swiss Chard with Orange and Pepitas (gluten-free, vegan, paleo, sugar-free)

1 T coconut oil

1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

Salt and pepper to taste

About 3 T raw pepitas, toasted in a dry skillet

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and sauté for a minute. Add the garlic and orange zest and sauté for another minute. Then add the leaves of the chard and stir, and add the orange juice. Cover the pan with a lid and lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to wilt for about a minute, then remove the lid and stir again. Allow the juice to reduce a little, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then remove the pan from the heat.

Serve with toasted pepitas sprinkled over.

Serves 3-4.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake

Check out this chocolate sheet cake. Fudgy, chocolatey goodness. It’s gluten and dairy-free to boot. But what if I told you that it was a tad healthier than a traditional chocolate cake? And that there was a secret ingredient in this cake that contributes to it’s “healthy” status? Furthermore, no one can tell that this is anything but a fudgy, indulgent treat.

Wanna know what that secret ingredient is?

Head on over to The Balanced Platter, where I’m sharing the recipe for this chocolate sheet cake. I’ll be divulging all of my secrets and more!

 

Honey Teff Bread

It’s been a while since I’ve baked bread. I don’t really do it much – I don’t often have the time to allow dough to rise and all that jazz – and besides, up until recently, I haven’t done well when consuming many grains. (Over time, though, I’m finding I’m more able to tolerate them in moderate amounts. Hooray for healing!) But the other day, I decided it was time. Time to get back out the flours, knead some dough, and make some real, honest, good bread. I’ve been working on a bread that would be delicious for sandwiches for a long while. I was inspired by this recipe over at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, but I played, played, and played some more with the recipe. I wanted to make something that was corn-free, so my corn intolerant family members could enjoy it, and so I used different flours and in varying amounts until it was right for me.

What I love about this bread is that it’s not dry. It doesn’t have to be toasted to be enjoyable, and it doesn’t crumble when made into a sandwich. It’s pliable, flavorful, and filling. I’ve enjoyed several turkey sandwiches with it this week, in fact. A sandwich is a simple thing, really, but it’s something I’ve missed. I’ve never been a huge sandwich “person”, but to have one every now and then is truly wonderful.

Anyway, back to this bread. I highly encourage you to try out a loaf for yourself. It’s therapeutic. Kneading dough is something many of us gluten-free bakers rarely get to do anymore. Usually, gluten-free dough isn’t kneadable. This is. Take advantage of it, and release some stress! You won’t overwork the dough – there’s no gluten in it, after all! Then relieve more stress when you bite into your first slice, because after all, my friend, it’s the best thing since…well, it is sliced bread!

Print Recipe

Honey Teff Bread (gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free) – adapted from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

2 ½ c warm water (105-110 degrees)

2 active dry yeast packets

3 T honey

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1/3 c ground chia seeds

¼ c psyllium husk powder

 1 c teff flour

½ c sorghum flour

1 c millet flour

½ c sweet white rice flour, plus more for kneading

2 t kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

Place the warm water in a bowl or 4-cup liquid glass measure. Add the yeast and honey, whisk together. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The mixture should get foamy or bubbly.

 While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

 After the yeast mixture is all bubbly, whisk in the olive oil, ground chia seeds, and psyllium husks into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for a minute or two to let the chia and psyllium get thick.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until thick. I usually start by using a wooden spoon and then eventually get in there with my hands for this step. Knead the dough to incorporate the flour – you could do this on a floured wooden board, or do as I do, and simply knead while it’s in a large bowl. Add additional sweet white rice flour, a little at a time, until the dough holds together and isn’t too sticky (about ¼ to ½ cup total). Form dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm spot to rise. Let dough rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

After the dough has risen, place a pizza stone in your oven on the center rack. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Punch down the dough a bit and knead again for a minute or two. Form into a round ball. Place on a piece of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut slits on top. Pour a little olive oil on your hands and lightly rub over the top of the bread, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let rise for about 30 minutes while the oven and stone are preheating.

Carefully lift the parchment paper with the risen loaf on top and place it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for an hour before cutting into it. It is preferred to allow to cool on a rack to allow air to circulate around the loaf. The bread will be somewhat gummy if cut into while the loaf is still hot.

 Store leftovers for a day at room temperature, but store in the refrigerator for longer term storage – about a week.

 

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes)

Okay, well, as you can tell by the photo, this sweet potato is stuffed with more than just that simple radish top pesto I made the other day. (See, I told you it was good for lots of things!) There’s all sorts of delicious, nutritious goodness stuffed in there – specifically black beans, shiitake mushrooms, and red bell peppers. It’s a filling, healthy, meatless mish-mash of flavor. Perfect for a quick little meal, or a side dish – whichever you prefer.

Never stuffed a sweet potato before? Well, don’t you fret – it’s not hard. In fact, this version of a stuffed sweet potato is just one of many (and exists merely as a result of my desire to utilize the available produce hanging out in my fridge). Hallie over at Daily Bites made a Broccoli and Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potato a while back, Gena from Choosing Raw has a super-healthy Kale and Quinoa version, and Kate from Eat, Recycle, Repeat shared a Bacon, Mushroom and Onion version as well as a sweet Chestnut, Apple and Coconut version over at Paleo Parents. Clearly, we love our sweet potatoes out there in the blogosphere!

Personally, I am partial to my version topped with my radish top pesto. That fresh, creamy pesto added a lovely flavor and texture that married all of the other ingredients together wonderfully. Back in the day, I would have reached for cheese as an easy way to achieve that result – now, it’s liberating to find new ways to combine flavors and textures and still satisfy the way cheese used to. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I miss cheese, but with flavors like this, those days are few and far between.

Next time you’re looking for an easy meal idea, try stuffing a sweet potato! This version, with smoky beans, sweet bell pepper, and the rich umami of the mushrooms, topped with pesto, is definitely a win in my book.

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes) (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

2 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender (bake in 375 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes)

1 T olive oil

8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14 oz can black beans (I like Eden Organic), drained

1 t ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Radish Top Pesto

Bake sweet potatoes. While they are baking, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute until the mushrooms soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or until garlic is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat black beans over medium-low heat, adding ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until warmed through.

Once sweet potatoes are baked through, cut a slit in each sweet potato. Open enough to expose a good amount of the flesh inside. Season with a bit of salt, and then top with mushroom-red pepper mixture and black beans. Finally, top with a healthy dollop of radish top pesto.

Serves 2.