Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Oats of Love

Fall makes me think of oats and the smell of spices.  Cinnamon, ginger, and most of all nutmeg.  With that in mind, I decided to make what I consider to be a cross between a cookie and a bar.  Oatmeal raisin to be exact. 

These cookies are hefty to say the least and are as filling as a bowl of warm oatmeal.  With everything from apple sauce to bananas its heaven to eat and fun to bake.  No need to grab a the Kitchenaid for this one. Use your trusty wooden spoon and have at it.

Now I have made these with, banana, sweet potato and even pumpkin.  So let your imagination run wild.  Vary the nuts, add chocolate, dried cherries or even dried cranberries.  Now thats a thought. Pumpkin spiced [omg I can't even believe I'm typing that], dried cranberry pecan oatmeal cookies with dark chocolate.  Oh....I know what the family is making this weekend. 

Happy Baking!!

Oats of Love Cookies 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 tbsp ground flax seed + 6 tbsp of water 
2/3 cup  apple sauce 
1 mashed banana 
2 cups gluten free oats 
1 cup almond flour 
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut flour 
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 
1/8 tsp ground cloves 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup soaked raisins [soaked in 1 cup of warm water.  Reserve 1/4 of the liquid]
1/2 cup chopped pecans 


1)In a small bowl mix flax meal and water together and set aside 
2)Blend together all of the dry ingredients [oats, flours, baking soda, spices and salt] 
3)Using a whisk distribute them evenly.  
4)In a separate bowl, whisk together flax, applesauce, and mashed banana, and raisins soaking liquid. 
5)Stir into the flour mixture until combined.  
6)Add pecans and raisins combine well. 

On a parchment lined baking sheet drop golf ball sized piece of dough.  Using the back of a spoon or a piece of parchment paper, press cookies down to flatten them, as these cookies do not spread 

In a 350 degree oven on the middle rack, bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are brown,  Let them cool on the sheet before removing them.

These cookies are vegan, vegetarian,and gluten free

Monday, October 19, 2015

Lunch in a flash! And nothing goes to waste!

Its fall and the farmers market produce has switched from the abundance of fruits and berries to the more hearty tubers and root vegetables.  On the last day of the Batavia market, I grabbed a lovely bunch of red and orange baby carrots. They sported a lovely bushy green tops which I immediately fell in love with. I didn't have the heart to just toss them in the compost.  So google it I did! What did I discover. Carrot top pesto! But where could I use this new concoction? 

I've been gluten free for a few months now, and grown tired of gluten free breads for quick bites.  Indian cuisine has a quick wrap used for dosa's that uses lentils, but requires a soak and a fermentation.  Jamie Olivers site had a quick very thin pancake using chickpea flour.  This crisp crepe is lovely, but I wanted something with a bit more heft.  So I made mine the somewhere in the middle of a pancake and a crepe.  4 ingredients and you are ready to go. 

Gluten Free Sandwich Wrap

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water [more if needed.  You want a very thin batter] 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt [additional flavors can be added to jazz up the flavor. Chopped chilies come to mind]

Whisk all the ingredients together and let rest 5 minutes.  Using a non stick 10-12 inch pan. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into a hot and lightly oiled pan.  Be sure to swirl the batter immediately [I'll post a video later]
Bubbles will appear immediately. When the top begins to look dry flip and cook 1 minute more. Flip onto a plate and stack additional crepe with the bottoms facing each other to make pairs, until all the batter is used 

Crepe in pan ready to flip
Flip and cook 1 minute more

Finished crepe with carrot top

Pine nut hummus 

Shredded brussel sprouts, cucumber,
red onion, and tomatoes

Carrot Top Pesto 

1cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1large garlic clove
¼tsp. kosher or fine sea salt

In a food processor combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  

[Chef's tip.  Take carrot top, garlic and salt and place it on your cutting board and finely chop the ingredients.  The salt will act as an abrasive and help to grind the garlic and leave. When you have achieved a consistency you like. Place into a bowl and whisk in olive oil.  Adjust seasoning is needed]  

Don't worry. Those carrots were simply roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Sweet and delicious! 

Kale...is the new brussel sprout.

 Kale is the culinary version of the "new black dress". Its on every body's menu.  From the finest dining restaurant to Mc Donald's if you can believe it.
Now, I'm gonna preface this by saying...in now way is this a burger.  I'm not a fan of calling things what they are not.  A burger to me is ground meat.  As a vegan...no bueno in my book.  This is a veggie patty.  And one of the ingredients? You got it. KALE!

I love kale. In salads, juices, sauteed, fried, in chips, you name it. I'm sure I've tried to put kale in there someplace.  Well, maybe not dessert. Yet.

This is one of those dishes that seems complicated, but its fairly simple to put together.  A food processor or a good sharp kitchen knife and a box grater and you're good to go.

Just take a look at all the benefits that can be gained from 1 cup [by the way, the recipe calls for 2 cups] of the mighty green.  [ 1 cup contains 3 grams of protein. I know Popeye ate spinach, but he probably ate kale as well]

Kale and Quinoa Veggie Patties 

Yields 7  [ 4 inch ] burger

1       cup shredded sweet potato [1 small size potato]
1/2    cup shredded zucchini
1/4    cup grated red onion
2       cup finely chopped kale
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1       tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
1       tsp Korean red pepper powder or chili powder
2       TB flax meal + 6 TB water combined [let stand 15 minutes]
3       TB gluten free flour
1/2    cup cooked black beans smashed
1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1       TB apple cider vinegar
1/4    cup water more if needed to bring the patty together

In a large bowl, mix together shredded potato, zucchini, onion, kale, quinoa and spices.  Mix in black beans, cider vinegar and flax meal.  Combine well and add just enough water to allow the patty's to hold together.

On a large sheet pan. Line with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil.  Using an ice cream scoop, or measuring cup [1/3 c works best], roll into balls, place on baking sheet and lightly pat to form 1/4 inch patties.

In a 400 degree oven bake patties for 15 minutes or until firm to the touch.  carefully flip the patties and continue to bake for another 8-12 minutes.  Allow the patties to cool completely before removing them from the sheets.  Top your veggie patty with a spicy sun dried tomato topping and enjoy.

Sun Dried Tomato Topping

1 cup        soaked sun dried tomatoes [reserve soaking liquid]
2 TB        garlic chili sauce
1 TB        apple cider vinegar
TT           sea salt [to taste]

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor until combined and consistency of tomato paste.  Use the reserved soaking liquid to thin out the consistency and reseason as needed.

[Chef's Tip:  These patty's can be wrapped individually and frozen for up to 1 month. Simply lightly defrost and re-heat in the oven at 350 degrees until warmed through.]

Kids come up with the best ideas

My life has been a roller coaster of health issues and family struggles, so my mind has been a typhoon to say the least.
When it comes to dinner I have two camps to feed. The vegan camp and the non vegan camp.  It can be a challenge to say the least.

This week we are celebrating a few things, but the most important to my little people...National Dessert Day! Our family is way beyond the cookies and cupcakes you might think of. The bar is raised pretty high.  So my little helper came up with a wonderful idea. Two actually.  The first was inspired by a non vegan friend from school.

During lunchtime, and you know kids go for dessert first, a buddy pulled out of their brown bag,  seven layer bars. You know the ones. Cookie base, condensed milk, chocolate chips etc.  None of which are vegan friendly.  So I went to work.
What we came up with was a crunch gluten free cookie base.  Reminiscent of a macaroon, topped with a date caramel [simply dried dates and vanilla] topped with homemade chocolate and sprinkled with toasted coconut and a few more shards of chocolate.  De-lish!

Our second adventure, this from my Italian husbands background, was tiramisu. Wait, we didn't just stop there. We took it a step further.  Rice pudding.  My mother in-laws rice pudding is a family favorite so we combined the two.  It was a win win!  Vegan, gluten free...oh yes!  Topped off with the lightest coconut whipped cream you can imagine.  Move over cool whip! No chemicals, no weird oils, just pure coconut.

I had to share, even though we are still working on the recipes.  Keep watching.  We are still feasting on the results

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Avocado Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes trying to get people to try new things, especially vegan things can be difficult.  In my house, as some of you might know, we are divided into two camps.  Meat eaters, and non meat eaters.  My husband was a cook/chef as well, there is no shortage of culinary creativity flowing in my household.

Last week, while grocery shopping, we bought a ton of avocados.  I use them for so many things.  Salads, sandwich spreads, even as a make shift mayo for what we call "West Coast Tofu".  After watching a cooking show on food network [I cant remember which one]. I was taken aback by the fact they used avocado in  sweet format! Ice cream! I've had this in the city [Chicago] and it just tasted like frozen guacamole.  No Bueno! So while trolling the Internet, I came across a few uses for avocados.  But one in particular caught my eye.  Brownies! Hmmmm....the creative wheels started to turn

So, this morning, yes this morning. I decided to combine a brownie with a cookie! Genius I know, right?
Taking a few ideas from a few recipes here and there I came up with this delicious avocado mint chocolate chip cookie.  Oh and it is also gluten free!  Double win in my house.

For this recipe you need over-ripe avocados.  They will provide the much needed fat for this cookie.  Think of avocado as a replacement for your butter/margarine in your baking.  It wont impart the flavor of avocado, just its healthy fats!

Avocados have so many health benefits.  Much like the apple, you should partake in them everyday.  Not the entire avocado, but 1/4-1/2 a day. Its a lot easier than you may expect.  Add ripe avocado to your morning smoothie to obtain a rich and creamy texture.  Replace your mayo/sandwich spread with 1/2 avocado seasoned with roasted garlic as well as fresh herbs.  Ahhh...heavenly.  My favorite...adding raw cacao powder, stevia or liquid sweetener [agave nectar] to an avocado.  Place it in a blender or food processor with vanilla extract a pinch of salt and a few table spoons of cacao or coco powder.  TA-DA chocolate mouse!! This makes a great frosting for cupcakes or even brownies.

Now you know  few ways to incorporate avocados into your daily diet, here is a great cookie to tame that sweet tooth, and another way to get your little ones to get an extra serving of veggies [actually avocado is considered a fruit due to the fact it has a see!]

Avocado Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies 

pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
Makes 16-18 small cookies  10-12 medium cookies  8 large cookies 


Blend together-

1 ripe avocado, seeded and mashed 
1 cup sugar [I use coconut sugar] 
2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tsp mint extract 
2 tsp apple cider vinegar 

Sift together-

1 1/2c gluten free flour.  [I use namaste gluten free flour blend- you can find it at Costco]
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 
100 g chocolate chips [a little less than 1/2 cup...I use Lilly's mini dark chocolate chips. 


In a food processor or blender.  Place avocado and sugar.  Blend until smooth.  Add extracts and vinegar and set aside.  Now sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder and salt.  Combine wet ingredients [avocado mixture] with dry ingredients[ flour mixture] mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.  Add chocolate chips, and mix gently until all the flour has been incorporated.  Let dough rest for 2-3 minutes before scooping.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drop golf ball size pieces of cookie dough.  Note! this dough does not spread.  Using wax paper or a piece of plastic, gently press the cookie to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. 
Bake on the center rack of your oven for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes give it a half turn and bake 5 minutes more.  Let cookies cool 3-4 minutes in pan before removing them from the sheet pan.  

[chefs tip:  Want to make these simple cookies shine?  Roll the dough in granulated sugar before placing in the oven.  Once they have finished baking, the cookies will have a sparkle to the top of them.  Perfect for holiday cookie exchange] 

Nutritional Information:
[for small cookies]

Serving size 1 cookie 

77   cal 
15g carbs
1.4g fiber
2.5g fat
9g sugar
2.25g protein
36mg sodium 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Who says you can't have your pie and DRINK it too!

Fall is in the air...and apple season is upon us.  On my walk this morning, down the main street in the small suburban town in which I reside, I look down and what do I see? An apple resting in the grass.  Normally I wouldn't think twice, but I gazed upward. What this?  An apple tree! I can only say, that much like Sir Isaac Newton, I was struck with inspiration.

I know the go to dish for an abundance of apple is pies. You may even try your hand at apple butter.  Both of which aren't exactly calorie friendly to the waistline.  The conundrum of it all.  But wait! I was inspired by my love of apple pie and smoothies.  The two can be a match made in heaven with the right ingredients.  But to keep it healthy and tasting good. Simple is always the way to go.  So with a little thought I came up with what can only be described as apple pie in a glass.

A few simple ingredients and 24 hours is all you need. Oh you can do it with less time if you'd like but believe me the former is worth the wait.  A good high powered blender will do the trick.  I swear by my Vitamix 5200. The horsepower can do everything from making nut butters to your own flours and powdered sugar.  So if it's in your budget [they have refurbished as well], grab one soon as you can.

Apple Pie Smoothie 

2-4 servings 
Vegan/Gluten Free

1 apple peeled, seeded, chopped and frozen
1 frozen banana
1 cup raw almonds [soaked for 24 hours in 2 cups water]
1.5 c water
1 tbsp date nut paste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground flax meal
1 tsp vanilla extra or 1/4 vanilla bean split and inside scraped
dash of sea salt
1 tbsp gluten free granola [for topping]
[note the soaked almonds can be replaced with 1 1/2 cup of non dairy milk if you're in a rush]

In a plastic bowl [with a lid] place almond and cover with water. Seal the container and let sit on counter overnight.  In the morning drain and discard the liquid.  In a blender place almonds and water until smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients in the exact order listed up until granola. Continue to blend until desired consistency.  You may add more water and a few ice cubes at this point.  Pour into 2 glasses and top with granola and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Drink and enjoy!

Nutritional Information: 
[per recipe not per serving]

Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber

[courtesy of caloriecount.com]

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Biscuts! Pass the jam please!

Good Morning! The gluten free vegan lifestyle doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite things.  Mine? Weekend brunch with the smell of baked goods wafting through the air.  I'm the daughter of southerners so biscuits are in my blood.
With a little help, and research, I found a great premixed gluten free flour to make these.

Most gluten free recipes call for a myriad of ingredients. Not these.  Namaste Perfect Flour has a wonderful premixed baking flour with all those pesky ingredients that bring gluten free baked goods to life.
There is little kneading.  These are drop biscuits. You simple mix, and use an ice cream scoop of a spoon to drop them onto your baking sheet pan. And 18-20 minutes later...you've got BISCUITS!

Drop Bicuits

2 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend [namaste perfect flour]
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons fat, melted (For dairy-free use butter substitute)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 cup non dairy milk [more if needed] 
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Line cookie sheet with parchment.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl; whisk to blend.
  4. Pour vinegar and milk into melted butter. Stir once.
  5. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Stir until no dry ingredients remain. Be sure not to over mix the dough as it will become tough.
  6. Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, drop portions of dough (about 2 measuring Tablespoons each) onto prepared pan, about 1 inch apart. If you make larger biscuits, bake them 18-20 minutes. 
  7. Bake 12 minutes.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!