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Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies

Happy Holidays! No matter what you celebrate, one thing we can all agree upon is holidays call for fresh baked cookies. I wanted to make something besides gingerbread men this year because those fellas are just so darn high-maintenance with rolling them out and reworking the dough into a big enough piece to cut in to and such, so this year I went the opposite direction and made the easiest cookies ever (with the exception of sugar cookies I suppose.) I even cheated and just used Hershey’s Kisses for the filling on most of them, although for my dairy-free friends I used raspberry jam. Unfortunately I gave all those away (and maybe ate a couple myself) before taking pics, but both versions turned out to be a hit. My husband even likes them and usually if I offer him gluten-free food he looks about as enthusiastic as though I’m offering him a mud pie. He’s my own personal “Mikey likes it!” barometer and these pass with flying colors.

Gluten-Free Thumbprint Cookies

5 Cups Gluten-free flour mix such as Pamela’s baking and pancakes flour

1/2 Cup melted coconut oil

1/2 Cup Maple syrup

1 cup Coconut milk (I used unsweetened vanilla) or any milk you like best

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

Hershey’s kisses (about 20 or so) or whatever filling you choose.

Mix all the ingredients besides the filling/kisses and then roll each cookie in your hands to make them round as  you set them on parchment papered cookie sheets.

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Go ahead and make a thumbprint in the cookies before baking but you’ll have to deepen them when they come out of the oven too.

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If you are using jam, add the jam before baking. There should be about 20 cookies or so. Bake for about 14 minutes or slightly less, depending on your oven. When they come out, deepen the thumbprints and add the Hershey kisses right away so the bottom gets to melt a tad into the cookie.

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Cool on a cooling rack for a good couple of hours before trying to bag up these babies, otherwise the chocolate will melt.

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These are not super sweet, so you can sprinkle them with sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mix if you want, although personally I like the fact they taste almost like a shortbread biscuit rather than a cookie. I mean considering these are made with coconut oil and cinnamon, and are lacking in refined sugar, they are practically a superfood, right? Well, maybe not quite but I like to think that they are on the healthy side for a cookie.

And now it seems only appropriate to say, “Merry Kissmas!” XOXOX

 

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Schar Pizza Crusts

Schar pizza crust

Pizza is one thing nobody should be forced to live without. I tried Schar’s pizza crusts for the first time last night and the pizzas were delicious. I love the fact that there is an actual raised crust on the perimeter of the circle~ that’s the first I’ve seen that in all my gluten-free pizza trials. Does that make sense? Maybe a picture is in order:

crust before cooking

See what I mean? And it’s on a large dinner plate so that is the size of the crust~ enough for two with a side salad unless you are feeding growing boys in which case it is convenient that one box comes with two crusts inside.

Two crusts in every box

I made mine with pesto, mozzarella,  orange and yellow peppers, red onion (which I always want to call purple onion) and sun-dried tomatoes. Delicious. And the crust is not only gluten-free, it is also dairy and egg free which is another hard to find aspect in the gluten-free pizza world. Another thing that sets this crust apart is that it is actually filling in the same way gluten crusts are. You know how a lot of gluten free things feel airy and not substantial? This feels like you are eating something real.  Mmmm~ I think it’s time for leftovers…

Pizza in pieces

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Caveman Cookies

Paleo people, get ready to be jealous. A couple of weeks ago I won an entire box of Caveman Cookies.

Caveman Cookies

Aren’t they cute?! Their tag line up at the top is so clever that even my 9 year old got a kick out of it. Here’s a better pic for reading it:

Just like you great, great, great...

As you may have guessed, the ingredients are Paleo friendly and are also gluten and dairy free. They are made with nut flours and other simple, whole ingredients that result in sophisticated flavor combinations which you can read above. They are also individually wrapped which was a nice surprise since that means they can keep longer and it makes it easier to share them.

Individually wrapped

Now the big question is…did cavemen share? Considering we can’t possibly eat these all ourselves, sharing is exactly what I plan on doing even if caveman manners are debatable. My son and I thought it’d be a nice surprise to put these in the teachers’ lounge at his school because we know there are a couple of gluten-free eaters there and most likely some Paleo eaters there too. As for the others, well, who doesn’t appreciate a free cookie every once in a while? These boxes are so fun that they would be perfect for a gift or in a gift basket for Paleo people so remember these at gift-giving times. (Easter baskets? Passover desserts? Mother’s Day?) And remember, caveman caught more cows with cookies than clubs. At least they should have.

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Lunchtime

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Even when I eat salad or soup, I always have a hearty carb to accompany it, which might take the form of rice with soup or corn tortillas to wrap up my salad, but lately most of my lunches involve Schar Classic White Rolls. These taste delicious with a sourdough flavor and a real classic bready texture that leaves no issues with unseen holes that gluten-free loaves are apt to hide. They are free of dairy and eggs too and make excellent hamburger buns although usually I just use them for regular old sandwiches. They are too big for my toaster even though I have one of those bagel toasters so I always just put them under the broiler for a few minutes each side before adding the extras, unless I’m using cheese and then that goes under the boiler too, just for the last-minute or so. My favorite sandwich does involve cheese, mozzarella to be specific, plus tomato and basil with extra greens and a little olive oil and vinegar for a caprese-inspired sandwich. Yum!

Yesterday I had this salad I’d gotten from PCC’s deli called something along the lines of ‘ravishing radishes’ with my roll and it was so delicious and healthy that I had to see if they had the recipe posted…but, unfortunately I don’t see it yet on their recipe page yet. It was full of radishes, garbanzo beans, feta, cherry tomatoes, herbs and a light vinaigrette. Definitely going to try something similar…Here’s a pic so you can too:

Salad with Schar roll

 

And here’s one with the salad on the roll:

Salad on Schar Can’t you just taste it? So good! If you are tired of your gluten-free loaves surprising you with little holes in your slices of bread, try these rolls instead. They are guaranteed to make your lunch a fulfilling one!

 

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos (Gluten-free and Vegan)

Just when I thought I never wanted another corn tortilla again, I got a craving for a taco with some sort of orange veggie in it. Whenever we go out to dinner we often go to one of two places where I order a butternut squash quesadilla. I love them, but I hate dealing with squash and its hard shell that eats knives for breakfast so I have never attempted to make them myself. It got me thinking though that wouldn’t a sweet potato taste just as good in that kind of meal? And if I could eliminate the cheese it’d be even better for our family, so onto the web I went and sure enough there are plenty of recipes for sweet potatoes and black beans together in all sorts of fashions~ tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. I went the taco route and used several different recipes to cobble together what is written below to work with what I had in my refrigerator. My husband and oldest son loved these by the way, as did I, and my youngest who only gathered enough courage to try one black bean and one piece of sweet potato admitted the black bean wasn’t bad. That says more to me than the fact that my husband is generally not a huge sweet potato fan, nor a big black bean fan, and really he prefers flour tortillas and definitely cheese and preferably meat. This recipe outshined all that. It is a keeper.

Vegan, Gluten-free Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potato and black bean taco

1.5 T vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil and olive oil)

1/2 t salt

1 yellow or red onion (I used red b/c that is what I had and the purple hue was so pretty)

1 pepper (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 yellow pepper, but orange or green would work)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium-large sweet potato

1 can black beans (or 1.5 c if using dried beans)

1 t cumin

freshly ground pepper to taste

corn tortillas

guacamole (or avocados)

Preheat oven to 400. Using a large cast iron pan or some other oven-friendly pan* sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until the onions are translucent in 1 T of vegetable oil. (I used sunflower oil). In a bowl coat the sweet potato which has been skinned and diced into bite size pieces with 1/2 T of oil (I used olive) and 1/2 t of sea salt. Add this into the sauté pan and cook for 1 minute before transferring into the oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm up the rinsed and drained beans on medium with 1 t cumin in a small sauce pan. Also warm up some corn tortillas** until they are soft. Take the pan out of the oven and if the sweet potatoes are cooked through add the beans and stir to get everything mixed together. Load the tortillas and top with guacamole or fresh avocados. It’s a symphony of flavors played just right. If it were up to me this is what I’d make for Thanksgiving, along with kale chips and pica de gallo salsa. It’s enough to make a pilgrim say, “Ole!” But alas, we are hosting this year and I’m going to have to stick to the more traditional items I’ve already planned.

sweet potato and black bean taco

 

* If you don’t have an oven proof pan, use one that you can top with a lid or plate and add 2 T of water to the mixture to steam it for approximately 5-10 min.

** I use Trader Joe’s corn tortillas b/c they are thick and sturdy, plus they are remarkably clean. Their ingredient list is all of: ground white corn masa flour, water, trace of lime. That’s it. Exactly how it should be. And they taste incredibly good, much better than any other corn tortilla on the market.Trader Joe's corn tortillas

 

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Schar Sandwich Bread

This is just a quick note to say we have a new favorite gluten-free everyday bread at our house. Schar Classic White Bread:

Schar Bread This bread surprised us for two reasons. The first being that the second ingredient listed is sour dough, made with rice flour and water. When I bought the bread I had only looked at the area that says “contains: soy” to see if it contained dairy and or eggs, so I happily bought it when I saw that it didn’t. I had no idea I was buying a sourdough bread! But as soon as I tasted it I could taste the sour dough and was so excited~ a dairy free, egg free gluten-free, sourdough sandwich bread is something we haven’t had since….well, ever, actually. We are eating a lot of sandwiches these days.

The second reason this loaf surprised me was because it isn’t in the normal spot where I shop for bread at the Whole Foods I frequent. I imagine this is one of those things probably debated among store employees, vendors, brokers, and merchandisers. At the Whole Foods I go to there is a dedicated gluten-free aisle, but there are also gluten-free items throughout the store. Normally when I buy bread, I go to where all the bread is and pick up a loaf or a bag of bagels or rolls. Schar bread is not there. It is only in the aisle dedicated to gluten-free items and by the time I hit that aisle my cart is usually already filled with bread products I got from the bread area. Hm. I know it is difficult to set up a store, I’ve worked in several myself, so I’m curious what people think…Do you like your store to have the gluten-free items mixed in with the other food, or do like it all in one specified space? Or mixed, with a dedicated gluten-free area but with other gluten-free items mixed with the other food in all the other aisles?

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Gluten-free, Vegan, Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers

Have you been looking for a gluten-free, dairy free, nut free, and egg free graham cracker? Schar has you covered.

schar graham crackers

 

I don’t know about you, but after three weeks of making school lunches and snacks for two, I was about out of fresh ideas. Then I saw these new lovelies at my local Whole Foods and my mind raced with excitement~ grahams with sun butter, or peanut butter, or vegan cream cheese! Smores for a special treat! Taken as they are for a snack! And of course, covering them in (dairy free) chocolate because I don’t care how old you are nor how sophisticated your palate, everyone loves chocolate covered graham crackers.

chocolate covered grahams

Now I know people who professionally cover things in chocolate have a big routine with the melting and the hand mixing and spreading and all that, but really you can do these very simply and trust me, they taste divine. All I did was take apart a dark chocolate bar (Endangered Species brand)

Dark chocolate bar

melted it

melting chocolate then dipped the grahams (with the help of tongs) and let them cool down and solidify on wax paper:

Fresh chocolate grahamsI then tried melting and dipping with some Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips I happened to have in my cupboard and they turned out to have a more milk chocolate taste and were also slightly lighter in color as you can maybe see in the picture. They then went into the refrigerator for further solidifying and safe keeping. They would last a week in the fridge if my sons let them, but chances are they have three days at most.

These were so easy and such a rare treat I think this will be what I do for my kids’ birthday celebrations in their classrooms this year. Each child will get two along with a few strawberries, and I can guarantee not a one will miss the gluten, dairy, eggs, or nuts. So much better than cupcakes and if anyone doesn’t like chocolate (I’ve heard a rumor these people exist) then they can have some plain Schar grahams which are a tasty treat in their own right. Perfect!

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Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut free Cinnamon Pumpkin Scones

For years I’ve been making these scones with slight variations, trying to find the best recipe. I think I’ve found it. They are not too sweet and therefore would be lovely with a cream cheese icing or a sugary glaze, plus that would make them a little prettier, because honestly, they are not that attractive. If you add xanthan gum I’m sure you can get a smoother finish, but it’s just not that important to me and I like the not-so-sweetness of them. As any gluten-free eater knows, it’s fairly easy to make sweet gluten-free items taste good, but it’s harder to find things that aren’t loaded with extra sugar. Of course, you can use all white sugar instead of the brown sugar that I use below, but the depth that the brown sugar adds is lovely and suits the pumpkin well. Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut free Cinnamon Pumpkin Scones

2 C oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1 C brown rice flour

3/4 C + 1 T sorghum flour

1/2 C garbanzo bean flour

1 T cinnamon

1 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

1 C pumpkin puree (I use canned pumpkin)

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C cane sugar

1 T flax meal

1 C vanilla coconut milk (or whatever milk you like)

1/2 C sunflower oil (or whatever oil you like)

Add the flax meal to the milk and set aside. Add the dry ingredients up through the salt together and mix. Blend the sugar and oil in a separate bowl, then add the pumpkin. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the flax/milk combo to the wet ingredients and blend until just mixed, adding more milk if need be. Refrigerate the mixture for 3-8 hours (or overnight), then bake at 360 for 30 minutes on baking pans lined with parchment paper.

I hate to add a picture because the really are much tastier than they look, but here goes~

cinnamon pumpkin scones Oy. I better make some more so I can get some good pics of these little beauts. My boys certainly won’t mind another batch and the house smells divine for hours after they bake so it’ll be more than worth it.

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Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Zucchini Muffins

My friend gave me a zucchini the size of large 2 month old baby so I figured I’d switch my plan of making pumpkin scones to zucchini muffins. After looking for a recipe online that I could play with I realized there wasn’t much out there that had all our needs covered~ gluten, dairy, egg, and nut free, so the “playing’ part was pretty extensive. Anyone who believes that old adage “Baking is a science, cooking is an art” obviously never baked with food intolerances in mind. I can’t say it’s a perfect recipe as it was indeed my first go at it, but they didn’t crumble (and no xanthan gum!) and they taste pretty good. Plus we used that freaky zucchini so now my sons no longer have a prop pretending to be cave-men. It really did look like a primitive weapon. Here’s the recipe:

zucchini muffins

Ingredients:

2 T flax meal + 5 T water (set aside at least 10 minutes)

2 C grated Zucchini

1/2 C apple sauce

1/4 C sunflower oil

1 t vanilla extract

1 C brown rice flour

3/4 C oat flour (make sure it’s gluten-free)

1/2 C millet flour

1/4 C tapioca flour

3/4 C brown sugar

2 t cinnamon (or more~ actually will do more next time, but it’s personal taste)

1 t nutmeg

1 t baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Prep muffin pan with oil, spray oil, or liners. Add the grated zucchini, apple sauce, oil, vanilla extract, and flax that has soaked in water all together and mix well. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together before blending the wet and dry together~ easily done with a spoon, no need to get your mixer dirty. Fill the muffin pan~ 12 regular sized muffins. Cook for 23-25 minutes.

Two zucchini muffins
Don’t these look good for a recipe without xanthan gum?!

These were good out of the pan but I did think a little more cinnamon would have made them better so I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top. I’m sure my boys won’t mind the extra sweetness although they’ll probably miss running through the kitchen yelling “Aaarrrgh” with the zucchini.

 

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Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

My son needed a science project and I needed a reason to try to make the sourdough starter recipe I’ve been eyeing for months, so we decided to work together and see what happens. The recipe we are using is from Jennifer Katzinger’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread. I’ve wanted to make sourdough starter for a long time now, ever since I read about it being a more easily digested bread than other types with single strands of yeast, but the recipes I read always seemed too complex and involved too much planning. Once I read Katzinger’s version which was already gluten-free I started thinking I could do it. Except I didn’t. There was still that planning part that got in my way, until my son’s science fair came up and I thought, we could do this~ we have a week and a half, plenty of time to get the starter going and then to try to bake with it a couple of times, with enough time even for a failure or two. We will actually use the starter later today for the first time, but actually making the mother was easier than I expected, so in case you are feeling daunted by the idea yourself I thought I’d share the steps so far. First, get a gallon size glass jar and put in 1C teff flour and 1C water.

Making starterStir well.

Then add two purple cabbage leaves and the skin of half an apple.

Adding cabbage and apple skin

Mix well again and then let it sit in a warm spot for 12 hours before stirring and adding more teff and water. After 48 hours (with 12 hours in between stirrings and adding more flour and water) it should be bubbling with yeast activity.

Yeast bubbles

It is then time to take out the cabbage leaves and apple skin and put it in the fridge. It is ready to be used.

Taking out the cabbage

Now it’s time to test if this has worked. There is starter resting on my kitchen counter right now warming up with fresh teff and water for 4 hours and hopefully creating some yeasty activity. Crossing my fingers that we will have fresh sourdough bread by tonight. We’ll see!