Tag Archives: gluten free

Creativity in the Kitchen

Living a life with food restrictions has been on of my greatest challenges, but it has also been great fun.  It has required not only stepping outside the box, but sometimes ripping that box to pieces.   I have learned to try things that just seem impossible, because they usually work — like flax seed “eggs” and chickpea brownies.

Major life changes, especially for health reasons can be overwhelming.  It’s not unusual to get stuck, afraid to move, feeling like food has suddenly become the enemy.  Bob and I spent the first 6 months of gluten free life eating a lot of stir fry.  We still love stir fry but I have become more adventurous in experimenting with new recipes.

Maybe your kitchen challenge isn’t related to allergies or other medical conditions.  Maybe you would just like to get your kids to eat more veggies.  This is a great reason to get creative in the kitchen.  Play with your food and have fun!

So, do I have a recipe?  This recipe is dairy free and naturally gluten free.  Adjusting to gluten free was easier for me than dairy free.  I do love my cheese and ice cream.  We are still working on cheese, but I gone way beyond plain “vanilla”  in creating my own dairy free, fruit based ice cream.  Bob calls it fruit cream.  This is one of my favorites

Carrot Cake Fruit Cream
 Carrot Cake Fruit Cream Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins
Carrot Cake Fruit Cream
Copyright 2015 by R.A. Robbins
Ingredients
  • 2 cups frozen mashed bananas
  • ½ cup coconut milk beverage (in the carton)
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup finely grated carrots (about 1 small)
  • ¼ cup crushed pineapple (drained)
  • ⅛ cup finely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Add bananas and coconut milk to blender container of a high-speed blender such as a Ninja or a Vita Mix. Pulse a few times then process on high until ingredients are well blended and look like ice cream. If your bananas are frozen very hard, you may have to stop a few times and scrape them down.
  2. Remove blade and stir in remaining ingredients. You may pour the ice cream into a bowl to do this if desired.
  3. The ice cream is now the consistency of soft serve. I suggest putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Want more recipes like this one?  Frozen Fun:  25 Dairy and Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipes is available at the Espirational Bookshelf.

A link to this blog post was added to:

Sugar and Spice Link Party

Naked Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
Copyright 2013 by R.A. Robbins

That got your attention didn’t it?

Since this is Friday the 13th I thought maybe we could all use a little pick-me-up.

Most people celebrate special occasions with cake.  At our house cake is a reason for celebration all its own.   And why not?  Especially when you health it up a bit.

All cakes at our house are naked — without frosting.  What did you think I meant?

I know carrot cake traditionally has a cream cheese icing.  But a rich, moist, dense cake like carrot cake really doesn’t need it.   Leave off the icing and you can really taste the full flavor of the cake.

Here’s my recipe — give it a try and let me know what you think.

Naked Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake
©©

 

Serves: 12

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes.

 

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Ingredients

1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup powdered stevia sweetener
3 Tablespoons flax seed meal dissolved in 6 Tablespoons hot water (or 3 eggs or any equivalent combination of the eggs and flax
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour blend
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups shredded carrots
1 can crushed pineapple with juice (mom’s recipe calls for a small can but I use a large one)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 can raisins (if you don’t like raisins, leave them out)
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended.
3. Pour into prepared 9 x 13 pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
5. I think this cake is best served plain and needs no icing.  However if you must have icing there are plenty of recipes available online.

Egg Salad Without Eggs?

Copyright 2018 R.A. Robbins

I developed this recipe while looking for tasty, healthy snacks with protein . I use chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, but there are also recipes using tofu if you prefer. You may be familiar with hummus which is made from chickpeas and often used as a dip with raw veggies. Because I do not care for the flavor of tahini, an ingredient in hummus, I decided to go a different direction.

My first version of this recipe used mayonnaise or salad dressing, which contain eggs. I went on to use a dressing of olive oil, vinegar, prepared mustard and just a touch of lemon juice to brighten up the flavor a bit.  You could use Greek yogurt if you tolerate dairy.  The addition of chopped sweet pickles or sweet pickle relish also adds to the flavor.

The finished salad may be served over salad greens for a light lunch or as a sandwich. Adding a lettuce leaf and a tomato slice will add both color and flavor to your sandwich.

So how do you make that Eggless Egg Salad?

Ingredients:
2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans) canned or cooked from dry
2 Tablespoons diced onion
2 Tablespoons pickle relish or diced sweet pickles if you have them
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or your favorite vinegar)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt substitute and pepper to taste

Directions:
Drain and rinse chickpeas.

Mash with a potato masher or fork leaving a few chunks of chickpea.

Add onion and pickle relish.

Combine mustard, vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl or blender container. Mix together.

Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. If you are making this by hand blend with a wire whisk while adding the olive oil. If using the blender, blend on low adding the oil through the smaller hole in the lid, do not remove the lid while blending.

Add the dressing to the chickpea mixture and stir together.

Season with salt substitute and pepper.

You may serve as is or chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Serves 4 to 6

This recipe has been shared with the following LInk Parties:

Sugar and Spice Link Party

Pizza!

Greek Pizza
Copyright 2018 by R.A. Robbins

We went into town for pizza to celebrate Valentines Day.  The gluten free Greek pizza was not bad, but it wasn’t mine.  The one in town had a small commercial crust with toppings that could almost be seen.  I make my own crust and load on the toppings — no comparison.   Look good?  Want to make your own?

Genie’s Greek Pizza

Crust Ingredients:
2 3/4 c. all purpose gf flour (my flour blend is 3 parts sorghum flour, 2 parts potato or corn starch and 1 part brown rice flour)
1 T. sugar
1 package quick rise yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees, a few drops on your wrist should feel warm but not hot)
2 T. olive oil

Topping Ingredients:
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About ½ bunch of fresh spinach, cleaned and stems removed
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast baked and cut in bite sized pieces
1 small red onion sliced thin
1 can (14 ounce) artichoke hearts, drained
1 small can whole black olives, drained
6 ounces goat cheese crumbles

To Make Crust:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray pizza pan with pan spray.

Combine flour sugar and yeast in a bowl.

Add water and oil and stir to combine ingredients. This will form a dough, it will not be a batter.

Put dough in a 15 inch pizza pan sprayed with pan spray. With damp hands push the dough out to fill the pan. (I did not roll out the dough this time but may try that later.) Smooth the top of the dough.

I take one finger dipped in water and draw a slight indentation around the dough about 1/2 to 1 inch in from the outside of the dough. This will help form your crust.

Let dough rise in a warm place in the pan for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step, it is important if you want a thicker, deep dish style crust. The dough should double.

Bake crust for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Add Toppings and Bake:

Sprinkle oregano over crust.

Cover crust with a layer of spinach leaves.

Separate red onion rings and scatter over spinach.

Add chicken, artichoke hearts and black olives in that order.

Finally cover pizza with cheese crumbles.

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minute. If you have never used goat cheese before it does not “melt” like other cheeses.” You also do not want it to brown. When done the top will look much the same as when you put it in. Lift up a corner of the crust  — it should be lightly browned.

Cut pizza into slices and enjoy.

Did you miss the cooking video?

In case you missed it this is the video of me cooking sweet and sour chicken in my kitchen here at home.  If you see this on Sunday 1/21/2018 there is still time to get a free copy of The Gluten Free Good Life from the Kindle Store.

 

This was shared at the Sugar and Spice Link Party.  Check it out!

Living Changed Pt. 2 and Free Book Day

Yesterday I talked about how making changes can be easier than living with them.  Today I want to talk to those who may be feeling forced to make changes for health reasons that you really don’t want to make.   Maybe your doctor says you have to lose weight.  Or that special diet to treat or prevent a medical condition is just too drastic for you to want to consider.  Well I have experienced this one

Confession of a Drama Queen

Before I began the gluten free lifestyle I was convinced there would be nothing left to eat but twigs and tree bark.  In fact there is a rumor going around that I was spotted in the front yard threatening to eat a tree.  But the last 10 years of living gluten free have taught me that attitude really is everything  and can turn what at first  seems a huge negative into something that is actually positive.

Looking for the Good

It took awhile for me to see that not eating certain foods helps me live a happy and healthy life.  It is a good thing.  While learning the gluten-free lifestyle and making it my way of life took time there is no way I would cheat now.  No bread, cookie or cake is good enough to make it worth the price of poor health.

Staying on the Path

Looking at my way of life as the way to healing and wholeness keeps me on the path.  Focusing on and being grateful for the good in life, even if it means looking really hard to find one good thing, will make it easier to see the good that still exists in our lives and in the world.  We may even be able to see what we saw as “bad” as stepping-stones or lessons.

Now for the free book  — FINALLY!     The Gluten Free Good Life focuses on keeping a positive attitude and gives tips for making adjusting to gluten free living easier.  And today January 21st only, it is FREE!  Yes, I said free.  So go to the Amazon Kindle Store and get your copy.

If you have read the book, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon.  Remember to mention you received the book free if you took advantage of a giveaway.   While you are there, click on my name and please take a look at my other books which are at regular price.

Want to see me in my kitchen making my naturally gluten free Sweet and Sour Chicken?  Go to https://www.facebook.com/espirational/ at 11:30 am (Central Time) for a Facebook Live cooking demo.  Don’t worry if you missed the live broadcast it will be available for viewing later.

 

The Secret to Cooking Good Healthy Food

Last year a culinary instructor named Todd Mohr gave a free webinar on how to cook like a chef.  It was not what I expected.  Instead of talking about all the “secrets” and difficult recipes we think professional chefs know he talked about how home cooks make things too difficult.  The focus of his webinar was learning basic techniques, cooking methods and spices then using your own fresh ingredients to create original dishes.

My Rocky Beginnings

When Bob and I first started living gluten free I was scared to death.  There were already a number of foods we didn’t eat for health reasons and I was sure there would be nothing left to eat…  So I started with stir fry and kept working on figuring out all those difficult gluten free recipes and exotic ingredients.   I eventually began to convert my own recipes and realized it really wasn’t that difficult, but I kept collecting recipes trying to find new, different and perfect recipes that met our needs.

Already Heading in the Right Direction

When I heard what Chef Todd had to say I realized I was already heading in that direction.  I was already putting together my own ingredients to create new soups and salads. I rotisserie whole chickens and use the meat for various dishes and boil the bones to make stock. Then I realized I had my “magic mixture” which was usually black beans, onion, corn, salsa or canned tomatoes and chili spices and sometimes chicken.  This ends up on baked potatoes, gluten free pasta, spaghetti squash, salad greens and most recently with rice rolled into a gluten free wrap for burritos. Sometimes I add rice for the closest thing to a casserole I do now.  I like to make a big batch to have on hand.

The Gluten Free Wraps and a Discovery

The gluten free wraps were part of a prize package from Toufayan Bakeries which I won through a drawing at the Gluten Away Online Expo.  The first couple of days after the package arrived we enjoyed some wonderful deli style sandwich wraps.  I even made a special trip into town for good deli meat, goat cheese and condiments.

Then I started looking for different ideas and went to the Toufayan website where I found the recipe for Chicken and Black Bean Freezer Burritos. When I realized I already had the basics down all I needed to do was think a little outside the box and wrap the stuff up in a tortilla or other flat bread, I felt a little embarrassed. But this was an excellent illustration of Chef Todd’s point just a few days after listening to him.

When I made these I cut eat one in half and wrapped them in plastic wrap then put in a freezer bag.  I ended up with two bags of these. Quite a bit of work, but good to have on hand for a snack or meal emergency.

Burrito wrap w/ filling.
Copyright 2017

 

Burritos ready for freezer.
Copyright 2017

Do you Make Things too Difficult?

Home cooks do make things way too difficult. We try to impress people with our skills or some sort of secret recipe or knowledge that only we have. Add food restrictions such as wheat or dairy to the mix and things can really get crazy. It is easy to panic and wonder what on earth you are going to eat.

My suggestion.  

  • Focus on techniques. Review or learn basic cooking methods such as baking, roasting, steaming, sauteing, braising, grilling, stir frying, etc.  These I have mentioned can all be done gluten free and dairy free.
  •  Then bring in your own fresh ingredients and seasonings and mix and match to your hearts content.  You might also want to play around with sauces and toppings.

The benefit of cooking this way is that you get to choose your own ingredients.  I think this is the easiest way to cook for special diets.

All you have to do is get started. It is a different way of thinking about food and cooking than many of us are used to. Take that first step and get started. Don’t be afraid to play a little and get creative.  Things will get easier as you go along and you will eventually find yourself thinking, I really made this?  This is so good!

What is your secret to cooking good, healthy food?

It’s Time to Buy Cranberries

My Fresh Cranberry SauceCopyright 2011 by R.A. Robbins
My Fresh Cranberry Sauce
Copyright 2011 by R.A. Robbins

I know the holidays are over, but there may still be fresh cranberries available in your grocery store.   This is a good time to stock up.

Why Cranberries?

The price may be going down. In fact it may already have.  If you haven’t already picked up a bag or two or six this is a good time.  I have found cranberries priced as low as 2 for $1 after the holidays.  Cranberries freeze well.  You can just pop the unopened bag in the freezer of put it in a freezer bag.  They freeze well so you will have them on hand for later.

They are full of wonderful nutrients.  In addition to being fat-free, cholesterol free, gluten free, sodium free and a good source of vitamin C and fiber, they also contain antioxidants and may help prevent urinary tract infections.

There are so many ways to use fresh or frozen cranberries.  You can eat them raw, but they are very tart.  You can make cranberry sauce, and of course cranberry nut bread, but they may also be used in savory dishes and stews.  The great thing about cooking with fresh cranberries is you control the sugar.

Copyright 2011 by R.A Robbins
Copyright 2011 by R.A Robbins

My fresh cranberry sauce and pumpkin cranberry bread (with dried cranberries) recipes are in my new e-book, Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday, available in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Gluten Free Monster cookies — A Holiday Extra

Monster Cookies
Copyright 2017

Just a little holiday recipe that I know is many people’s favorite.  I did play around with it a bit.  Please stay with me following the recipe for my notes made as I was making these.

Monster Cookies

1/2 c. softened margarine (I use an olive oil spread)

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup powdered stevia sweetener (not the baking blend)

2 Tablespoons molasses

1 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use natural peanut butter — just peanuts and a little salt)

3 eggs

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 1/2 cup gluten free tolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup M & M’s candies (I used red and green)

Directions:

  1. Combine first four ingredients.
  2. Add eggs and mix well.
  3. Add oats and mix to combine.
  4. Add chocolate chips and candies.
  5. Scoop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet sprayed with pan spray.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until bottoms are browned.  I don’t go by time.

Now for my notes:

  1. This would be an extremely sweet cookie made by the original recipe with 1 c. white sugar, 1 c. brown sugar and regular peanut butter with lots of sugar added to it.
  2.  I used 1/2 cup agave, 1/2 cup powdered stevia sweetener (not baking blend and 2 Tablespoons molasses (for a little of the brown sugar flavor.  They were still plenty sweet.  May cut sugar back even more next time.
  3. I used olive oil margarine spread instead of butter or regular margarine.  I would normally use applesauce and may try that next time.
  4. Natural peanut butter works fine even though all the recipes I found online said it wouldn’t.  Natural peanut butter should only contain peanuts and maybe a little salt — no sugar, high fructose corn syrup or preservatives.
  5. I used real eggs due to the other ingredients and the binding function of the eggs.
  6. Made these a bit bigger than normal for me.  I used 1 Tablespoon (serving spoon) per cookie — not the 1/2 cup some recipes called for.  So these are not a huge cookie made my way.
Monster Cookies
Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

6. I did not place extra candies on top since I thought these already had enough.  I did try to scoop them so a few candies showed on top since that’s what makes these cookies so pretty.

7, My cookies do not usually spread out because I usually don’t use fat or actual sugar.  Since I did use the margarine, these did spread a little but not a lot.  I usually flatten my cookies a bit and shape them to be round before placing on baking sheet.

8.  Next time I might cut back or chocolate chips or candy or leave chips out.

9. Carefully life corner of 1 cookie to check for browning  Cool on pan as cookies are fragile when hot.

This is not a healthy recipe — there is no way around that with all the chocolate chips and candy.  By cutting the sugar and using natural peanut butter you can make it a bit better.  You could also use dried fruit and nuts or trail mix (the kind without candy) instead of the chocolate.

Made my way this made 3 1/2 dozen average size cookies — not the huge number of cookies or the huge cookies some recipes mention.

This was a holiday treat I made because it was something my mom made.  We are always gluten free  — we do not cheat, ever.  But we do enjoy our sweets and I do allow a little wiggle room there.  This is not something we would eat regularly, but it was a nice holiday treat.