gluten-free

experimental matcha nori shortbread


Been getting extra-experimental in the kitchen these days: dietary restrictions = inspiration! The challenge: make a splendid unique cookie without: sugar, gluten, nuts, eggs. I came up with these fun little matcha nori shortbread cookies. Still working on them - next time I'd eliminate the nori as it became quite chewy compared to the nice crumbly cookie. These were made with: brown rice flour, tapioca starch, matcha tea powder, organic butter, black sesame seeds and xylitol - an interesting naturally-derived "sugar" that won't spike blood sugar levels, feed candida, or cause cavities - still testing baking with this sweetener...

Beautiful Burfi

Not too long ago, we ventured out east - east Toronto that is - and scored these gorgeous rich decadent Indian sweets.

Here's what's in the photo, starting in the upper left and going clockwise: carrot halva, caramel? burfi with pistachio and silver leaf, pistachio burfi, chocolate burfi, saffron burfi, almond burfi. Yum! I especially loved the carrot halva and the mysterious caramel-flavored silver leaf fudge.

Burfi (aka barfi) is basically Indian fudge, that's generally made with milk, ghee, sugar, nuts, chickpea flour, and spices. Interesting fact: most recipes don't contain eggs, and most are gluten-free - though this doesn't make these sugary-dairy-rich sweets health-food ;-)

Check out these (mostly) traditional Indian recipes for fudge (burfi, barfi), halva, and egg-free cakes.

2 Super-Healthy Quick Breads!



Super-Healthy Banana Bread
"...whole-grain perfectly spiced banana bread: gluten-free, sugar-free,
dairy-free and flavorful with no unnecessary sugar or fat."

Spicy Mayan Brownies

I came up with these super-rich fudgy spicy brownies a while back to satisfy my craving for chocolate and spice. Having a sweet spot for all things Mayan, I composed these using some traditional Mayan flavours: chocolate, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, anise, chilli, vanilla - yum! I also incorporated the healthy meso-American super-grain quinoa (I used red quinoa) as well as flax seeds - I don't think flax is Mayan, but it allowed me to avoid eggs in this recipe. I soaked my seeds to germinate/sprout them: super healthy and easier to puree. Though the high amount of cocoa, sprouted seeds, and spices would qualify these gluten-free vegan treats as healthy, the sucanat and butter (coconut oil works here for the vegan or dairy-free diets) bump these into the supremely rich and tasty side of healthy. I love these brownies + they are now officially my sweet-heart's new favorite brownies :-)

Recipe: Spicy Mayan Brownies

2 new recipes from Jen!

Here are 2 sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free recipes from Jen:

Gluten Free / Sugar Free / Lactose Free Pancakes
Gluten Free / Sugar Free Cheesecake

I've tasted the cheesecake and it's fabulous.
Merci Jen!

(These recipes use splenda, an artificial sweetener I've never tried baking with. Like all artificial sweeteners, controversy surrounds splenda... though it surrounds sugar as well - what's new? Choose your poison, everything in moderation ;-)

Quinoa

In case you're interested in knowing more about quinoa, a fabulous high-protein gluten-free "grain"(actually it's a "pseudograin" as it's not a grass), there's a nice little write-up on it here: A nutty, gluten-free alternative to grains - by Brenda Farrell

(More on quinoa in the Wikipedia - and some interesting recipes.)

Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies

Adzuki beans? This recipe looks interesting - in a good way:
Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies

Chewy, sweet, and nutty

Chewy Oat Nut Cookies

My friend Meeshka sent me a recipe for some lovely little cookies.

These are pretty special: chewy, sweet, nutty, and delicious. They are also free of dairy, eggs, wheat, and refined sugar. They can also be gluten-free, if you use oats that have not been contaminated with wheat. Yes, these cookies are packed with flavour and nutrients - one could even call them healthy. Eater beware: consume in moderation - these cookies are rich!

Recipe: Tahini Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Added bonus: quick and easy to make!

Panne Rizo

While in Vancouver recently, my lovely sister-in-law bought some gluten-free baked goodies. The tasty treats were from Panne Rizo, a gluten and wheat-free bakery/deli/cafe - especially good for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance (celiac disease).

When tasting gluten-free versions of wheat-based baked goods, there will usually be a difference in texture (more granular) and sometimes flavor.

gluten-free treats from Panne Rizo


We tried three traditional treats - all made with rice flour:

  • Walnut brownies: iced and very sweet - almost as sweet as fudge, very similar to a traditional bakery brownie, great texture
  • Ginger cookies: crunchy and chewy, nice spice blend, slightly granular texture
  • Banana bread: tasty and moist, very similar in taste and texture to a traditional wheat-based banana bread, slightly granular

We also tried the rice bread, and it was surprisingly light and moist.

...so many other tasty nutritious grains, nuts, and seeds to try baking with: Amaranth Shortbread? Chocolate and Chestnut Cake? Bring it on! More on gluten-free goods another time.

Bon weekend :-)

A Versatile Classic ~ Healthy Banana Bread

banana bread touch test

What classic baked good is easy to make, delicious, nutritious, yeast-free, portable, and can use up all sorts of bits floating in your pantry? You guessed it ;-)

I often make variations of these basic, easy, healthy banana bread recipes:
Healthy Banana Bread and Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread

Wonderfully versatile, banana bread can incorporate just about any nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts...), seed (pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy-seeds...), fruit (figs, dates, apricots, berries...), flour (wheat, rice, spelt, barley...), sweetener (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, fruit concentrate, marmalade/preserves, sucanat, stevia...), spice (cinnamon, nutmeg...) chocolate (chips, baker's chocolate, bars - dark, medium, or white), carob chips, extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, orange...), or booze (rum, Kahlua, Grand Marnier...).

Tips for delicious and healthy banana bread variations:

nuts: use 1/2-1c. nut combos like pecans and walnuts are great. chop up large nuts
seeds (use up to): 1Tbsp poppyseeds, 2Tbsp sesame seeds, 1/4c sunflour seeds or pepitas
booze: 1-2Tbsp
extracts: 1/4tsp lemon/orange, 1/2tsp almond, up to 1Tbsp vanilla
sugar: 1/2c of sweetener/sugar (brown sugar, sucanat, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, preserves...) is enough to make a sweet tasty bread. (I use as little as 1/4c.) try sweetener combinations like: 1/4c honey, 2Tbsp orange marmalade, 2Tbsp brown sugar
chocolate: 1/2c is great. you can, of course, use more or less (1/4c-1c)
mixing tip: coat chocolate and dried fruit with flower before mixing in to prevent it from sticking to the pan

*Bonus: a great way to use up all those over-ripe bananas!

UPDATE: Some new variations:

Chocolate Fractal Banana Bread: Gorgeous, delicious and marbled with chocolate.
Super-Healthy Banana Bread: Multi-grain, whole-grain and wonderfully spiced: gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and flavorful with no unnecessary sugar or fat.